Further on past the prison -- after crossing a rickety bridge -- the Heroes of Sandpoint found a small, abandoned torture chamber. The equipment was still there but had all rotted and rusted away. In a small side room, they found three doors with strange symbols on them as well as a few dozen scrolls ripped in half.
Zakar and Phoof started sorting through the scrolls, but it started taking too much time and Elsie and Altei opened the other door from the torture chamber to continue exploring while they did that. It led to a suspicious staircase built in a cleft in the rock by having wooden slats extend from either wall as stairs -- they were sure it was a trap, and Altei kept searching for traps, but it never opened and dumped anyone into the abyss so it must just have been unnerving architecture.
When they got to the top, they found a freezing chamber with wooden palettes covering a checkerboard of deep pits, from which moaning noises could be heard. This was even more obviously a trap, so they hesitated a while, until Phoof gave up on the scrolls to join them, standing in the doorway while Elsie and Altei entered the room.
It was a trap! Or, well, an ambush. A three-armed mutant goblin dropped from the ceiling and attacked Elsie with an axe! He got in a couple of deep hacks, then retreated a ways. Elsie followed to punch him some more, while Altei hung back and threw kunai. Kaito circled around to try to flank the goblin, while Val moved in with a trident, taking Elsie's place after she took another dangerous hit and had to pull back to drink some potions. Together, they took down the goblin and -- since he was quickly regenerating -- slid the lid off of one of the pits and chucked him to the bottom, where the ghouls started eating him to keep him from standing back up.
Meanwhile, another enemy -- looking like a rotting zombie with a tattered robe and blank white eyes -- advanced on Altei. She appeared to be blind and possibly also deaf (since he was immune to Phoof's piercing screech), but it didn't seem to keep her from flailing around with her fists and occasionally connecting. She was tough -- hitting her was like hitting a pillar of wood -- but between all of them they finally managed to take her down, around about the time the trio from below (Zakhar, June, and Noggin's valet) finished with the scroll room and rejoined them.
They'd only found a couple of intact or even repairable scrolls -- it looked like most had been torn in half and one of the halves taken elsewhere, or destroyed. Behind the doors, they'd found various mutated creatures -- one with a giant head, one with a rib cage down to his pelvis and tiny legs, and one with three arms, like the goblin they'd just fought.
"Oh, by the way," Phoof said, "that goblin was one of the goblin lords. The one supposedly hiding in an unknown cave?"
Kaito frowned. "Didn't he have a magic sword?"
Kaito sighed. "Then I guess we have to fight whatever's in that pit."
That turned out to be easy enough -- Zakhar tossed a bomb in, killing the zombies, and Kaito was able to borrow a rope and slide down to strip the goblin of his weapons before he could awake -- assuming he was ever going to awake, since the fire might have stopped his regeneration.
Sure enough, his sword was magical. No one in the party really used longswords as a primary weapon, so they agreed to sell it and split the proceeds. Kaito did claim a silver dagger for himself, to add to the bandolier he'd stolen from another goblin earlier.
While they healed up -- because several of them had taken a lot of damage in that fight -- Val wandered off (with Elsie close behind to keep an eye on her) to find her isopod familiar, who was missing. She found him back in the prison, flipped on his back. It wasn't really clear how he'd gone missing in the first place, though.
At any rate, they eventually moved on. Past Cold Zombie Storage, there was a short hallway leading to a scary room. It was plated with some weird red metal, and black lightning would periodically crawl up the walls and form strange glyphs that no one could read. Val gave Zakhar a comprehend languages spell, but he didn't really want to touch the lightning.
He did want to read the book floating in the middle of the chamber, though. After an experiment with an empty vial, to verify that objects could be added and removed to the cache in the center of the room without incident, they retrieved the objects to examine them further. Phoof claimed a forked wand (that later turned out to be 'shocking grasp'), Zakhar the book (on the worship of Lamashtu, the god of madness and monsters) and the scroll, and Kaito the bottle of wine (a nice vintage, but being in stasis probably meant it wasn't as aged as its bottling date would indicate). June took the dead crow, for unknown reasons, but didn't want all the tasty maggots that came with it.
While they were futzing around with the chamber, the rest of the party headed through a side door and investigated a spiral staircase. It ended in a pile of collapsed rubble, with some sort of weird scary glyph that appeared, wrote out scary things in abyssal, and then basically did nothing else. Phoof in particular got a very bad vibe just by being on the stairs, while Noggin's valet was fascinated with the effect and had to be dragged out against his will.
Since that avenue was apparently played out, they decided to head up the other flight of stairs, west of the statue, and examine the pool flanked by human skulls. It was another ambush! But this time only by the one skull-monster with creepy entrails, that didn't really get to do much before being sliced to bits by the party's combined efforts. Past the pool was another staircase, this one leading up, but also ending in rubble.
That left only one hallway to investigate, way back near where they'd broken into the strange complex, that they were starting to gather was a temple of Lamashtu. Following that tunnel quickly confirmed it, as they arrived at a shrine, with a clear pool of water in an altar to one side of the room, before leading to a very heavy door.
Kaito was interested in the water, which didn't smell safe to drink but did give off a sense of power. He called in Zakhar to identify it, but all he could tell was that it was a powerful, cursed transmutation effect.
"Maybe I should drink it? I could just shapeshift back afterwards, right?" Kaito suggested, not really convincing himself. He and Zakhar took samples, though, to possibly use later. They also dipped the dead crow in the water to see if it would trigger the effect, but nothing happened.
"We should test on wolf," Zakhar suggested, referring to the goblin dog that June had tamed in the basement of the glassworks, which was still following him around.
"Noooo!" Elsie cried. "I won't let you hurt wolfy! If you want to try it out so bad, you should drink it yourself."
"You should do it," Kaito added. "You're always drinking mutagens anyway, aren't you?"
Somehow, that convinced him, and Zakhar downed the vial... and then collapsed to the floor, screaming in agony, as his body twisted and mutated.
He didn't get an extra arm. He got an eye in the back of his head, although he lost one of his original eyes to compensate. He lost all his hair. One of his legs shrunk to half its normal length. His body twisted 90% in the middle of his abdomen, leaving him pointing sideways. And, worst of all, he took *huge* (-5) penalties to his INT and DEX, which were his primary stats.
GM: "I was looking at the effects, and when you said you were drinking it I was like 'noooo'!"
Kaito: "Okay, I don't want to drink it anymore."
Once the alchemist had recovered -- or at least, recovered as much as he was going to -- they pushed open the heavy stone door, and entered what looked like a temple chamber. There was a fountain in the middle with a ring of skulls on spikes, and the room was dimly lit by a shaft of yellow light emerging from another pool in the back of the room, up on a sort of stage 15 feet off the ground.
There was no sign of habitation, so the sneakier party members crept into the room quietly. Also, Zakhar stomped in holding his sunrod.
But it was Elsie, who was the first to climb the stairs to the stage, who got the demon's attention.
Demon: "Who are you, who dares violate my sanctum?!"
While she waited for a response, Elsie turned to the rest of the party, behind her, and hissed out, "Psst! Guys! What's a sanctum?"
That was not the correct response. The demon flew up into the air and slashed her own forearms, dripping blood into the central pool, which spawned a quartet of ghoul-looking but not-ghoul sinspawn... and then the faint light from the pool flickered out as it used up the last of its power.
It was a fight! Against an enemy hovering 20' up in the air. Elsie started flinging sling bolts at it, and could at least hit it, while Kaito tossed the silver dagger and missed. Altei suddenly hunched over and sprouted a pair of black feathered wings from her back, and flew up to duel the demon.
It was a short duel. The demon paralyzed her and dumped her in the pool to drown. Phoof waded in to save her, but it was at the cost of being stuck in melee with the sinspawn and unable to do much except fight back against them. Kaito and Zakhar joined her in fighting them off, since they had no good way of hurting a flying creature.
June tried shooting the demon with scorching rays... it took a couple of tries to hit, and of course she resisted fire. Still, he did enough to gain her attention, and she Commanded him to leave.
Noggin's valet was up on the podium, searching for some place to hide to take sneak attacks with his bow. Since he couldn't find then, he instead spent his time educating the party on the resistances of demons -- they resisted fire, cold, acid, normal weapons, magic weapons, and were immune to lightning and poison. To fight her effectively they'd need weapons of Cold Iron or Good. They did not have any such weapons available.
The other option was to hit her with bursts of massive damage to get through the DR, which was hard when she was flying... until Elsie remembered that she had a potion of Enlarge Person. That would make her ten feet tall, with a ten-foot reach... and the ceiling was only 20 feet up. She wouldn't be able to escape.
She didn't *quite* take out the demon with one punch, but it was close. Altei shook off the paralyses and flew back up to strike the final blow, after which it was simple to mop up (or in Elsie's case, stomp down) the remaining sinspawn.
Elsie stared at Altei's wings. "Are you an angel?"
Kaito peered at her. "I think she might be a tengu."
Elsie was just confused. "Is that a kind of angel?"
Kaito shrugged. "Well, it's not a kind of demon."
In the aftermath, they examined the fallen demon. She had a magic dagger (which they let Altei keep, since she didn't have any magic weapons to use) and Noggin's valet identified her as a Quasit -- like the quasit that had been helping the old priest's daughter transform herself. They were pretty sure that she wasn't the daughter herself, since she was a full demon and the daughter had still been trying to finish the transformation, and also because she was in a weird cave temple and not at 'Feathertop'.
The also found 1000 platinum pieces in the glowing yellow pool on the platform. It took some work to get them out, since the pool was boiling hot, but mage hand and patience (and eventually, the use of Phoof's rake-like weapon and Kaito's buckler as a broom and dustpan) managed to fish them out.
They were rich! Well, okay, not that rich since it needed to be divided *nine ways*, but still. Much better off than before.
Time to shop! And to beg Zakhar to brew them potions to replace the ones they'd usd up. And for Zakhar to beg the village priest to heal his transformation for a steep discount, since he couldn't afford to actually pay for it.
Tom (GMing) ranted at me after the fight -- "Why didn't you use your rage? I had a magic trap set up for when you raged!"
"Um... I only had a few rounds left and was saving it for when I had a chance to hit the demon, but I never actually got the chance?"
So, hooray for dumb luck. n.n