After assassinating the general, and stripping him of his equipment, the party wasn't sure what to do next, but 'The Pit' seemed the safest area to explore next (since the other choices were 'barracks with dozens of sleeping giants' and 'cafeteria with dozens of awake giants'). Kaito poked his head out into it, and saw a massive field of corpses -- of humans, giants, ogres, and even dragons -- all with the sihedron rune of the cult inscribed on their flesh. There were also some scavengers -- buzzards, crows, and dire bears -- but they were completely overwhelmed by the sheer volume of dead things.
This was at the bottom of an eighty-foot deep pit, with a ramp leading to the surface. They didn't want to go to the surface since there was a literal army of giants there, so some of the stealthier party members (Kaito, Altei, and Elyssie) started scouting out the pit to see if there was another exit. After several false alarms that turned out to be shallow bear dens, they found another opening into the tunnels -- but it was guarded by a giant.
Phoof, meanwhile, crept out after them, but was a bit less stealthy and had to charm one of the dire bears that saw her and was curious about the berries in her hair. She hid behind it while guiding it to the other exit, and it got the attention of the giant guard who came over to prod it back into the pit. Kaito, Elyssie, and Altei (who'd gone back to fetch Ash) tried to move in to kill the giant while it was occupied, but it wasn't occupied for long enough and moved back to its post before they could really get started -- and its post was right next to the cafeteria so no.
But Phoof got past them while they were doing this, and was seen by another giant in a side room, who called her over and told her that she could help them assassinate Mokmorren as long as they agreed to kill as few of the giants as possible -- she was one of the deposed elders, opposed to the coming war, and was sure that she could get the giants to go back to their old tribal lands if they got rid of their new leader.
She led them to a semi-safe room where other giants didn't go to talk about their plans -- it was haunted by her dead husband, whose body still laid upon the sacrificial altar. It wasn't safe enough for them to *rest* though, since giants did sometimes walk past the room.
The library, she told them, was on the floor below this one -- a strange place that wasn't built like these caves, with guardians that Mokmorren had created from his magic and ancient ruins that giants had always avoided. To get there, they had to get past the cave of dragons and the temple of lamia, but those two things could solve each other -- the dragons were charmed by the lamia, so if the party dispelled the charm, they would probably attack the lamia.
This seemed like a reasonable plan -- both Ash and June (who they finally went and fetched, along with Shalalu and the boy) could dispel magic. And it worked out fine, at first -- the elder distracted the giants guarding the dragon cave, and they managed to dispel the dragons before getting any fire or whatever breathed on them (one of the dragons was 'chromatic' and they weren't sure what it would breathe). Only one of the dragons -- the red one -- charged at the lamia, though, so the party rushed in after it to help since it didn't look like it could win on its own.
The lamia were pretty nasty -- hard to hit, hitting hard in return (although not as hard as the General had), and with magical abilities like turning people into stone or casting mirror image. They were also distressingly good at dodging fireballs and completely immmune to fire, which made June's first two attempts at hurting them kind of not do that.
They weren't a match for Kaito or Elyssie in melee, however -- not when they were boosted by Phoof's bard song and good hope spell -- and the dragon helped take down a third before it died. The fourth tried to turn Kaito to stone (which didn't work, thanks to all the buffs) and then tried to run away with mirror image and sanctuary, which also didn't work. The temple was theirs!
In addition to some tasty magic treasure, two of the statues -- obviously petrified creatures -- were still intact enough to de-petrify with a staff Phoof was carrying around in her efficient quiver (full of staves and wands they'd found). One of them was an ox, so they skipped it, but the other was a human-sized warrior in full plate.
When changed back, he revealed that he was a paladin, by using his lay-on-hands ability to heal Elyssie (who, like always, had almost died during the fight). Who, he asked, were they? And what was their quest?
The aura of goodness he radiated rubbed the kitsune the wrong way, but they explained that they were legitimate businessmen who sold antiques they recovered from shipwrecks they found at sea.
Altei: "Shipwrecks you create."
Ash: "No one can prove that!"
Phoof, on the other hand, was quite taken with him. And he certainly would be useful, since they'd mostly been using potions to heal, which was expensive. At any rate, while they were trying to stop Mokmorren from resurrecting Korgath, the ancient God(?) of Greed, he was on their side.
After the game Tom suddenly remembered that the Lamia were supposed to be draining wisdom 'with all their attacks' which would have been *kind of a big deal* since Kaito's wisdom is really low and Elyssie's monk powers rely on hers. Looking it up, though, they only drain wisdom with one of their five attacks so it wouldn't have made much of a difference -- the only key will save (against the petrify) was a sort that Kaito could make using charisma.
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