The Crowning of a New King
Heading deeper into Xitaqa, the party takes note of the strange architecture of the abandoned city; squared sandstone buildings built into the face of the plateau so that they burrow deeper within. Peering into these, the party find that they have been home to baboons and other wild things.
As they turn a bend in the gully, Dhavram notices a larger than normal premises on the north side. Approaching on his own, he is suddenly rushed by a huge male baboon who stops abruptly on feet away from the steel-clad cleric. The baboon screams threateningly, obviously protecting something within and Dhavram backs away, getting the message.
Turning their attention to the gully ahead of them, the party notice that a stone door seems to be positioned somewhat below the shadow of the Xitaqa tower. Assuming the tower to be where “Skinny-Legs” must be, they decide to try their luck.
The door opens with some effort onto what looks like a crypt. The party becomes suspicious immediately when it seems that the area is a bit too clean and even free of dust. Heading in cautiously, they don’t get far before being attacked by a pair of Gelatinous Cubes. Thinking them a foe too far, the party retreat, slam the door and rethink their plans.
Another building gets their attention just south of where they are. With doors a little more extravagant then some of the others around, a little examination reveals some faded graffiti: a yellow tower with the words Faz-Plak on them. Thinking they have found the lair of the Faz-Plak goblins, the party get ready to raid the tribe.
Dhavram bursts through first, crushing one with his mace whilst Padraig and Shorty take out a couple with arrows. The fight is quick and dirty, but suddenly there are reinforcements from the next room; larger goblins and what looks like a goblin-king wearing a battered crown of copper and bones on his head.
The ensuing battle is over quickly as the goblins are hopelessly overpowered. The King is killed and the rest surrender, including a surviving bodyguard. After some questioning it is clear the bodyguard won’t talk, However, it is noticed that he often looks at the crown so the offer of kingship is made to the bodyguard in return for information. The party learns that Skinny Legs is indeed in the tower and the quickest way through is via the crypt or that they can take the front door which is heavily guarded. The party decide to recoup and chance the crypt, watching the new King of the Faz-Plak attend to his fawning subjects all the while.
The party leave the Faz-Plaks and once again make a sally against the crypt. This time they are prepared and entice the Gelatinous Cubes to chase them back to the doorway which is too small for the cubes to pass through, meaning the unintelligent jellies are dispatched easily with arrows.
Moving through the crypt it is apparent that the party are below the tower. A stairway leads up to a large chamber with rich tapestries and several doorways, one of which seems to lead upwards. A low growl lets them know they are not alone and suddenly they are rushed by a massive white wolf. As it nears the party it breathes a cone of ice that has a devastating effect on Shorty and Dhavram. And to make things worse, another cry from across the room is heard and another Ice Wolf bounds from behind a tapestry, this time ridden by a huge hobgoblin guiding it by his knees and wielding a two-handed sword.
The party know this must be Vlack and throw everything into the battle. A Sleep spell is used which downs the wolves, but Vlack jumps off elegantly to continue the fight. Not an unintelligent hobgoblin, Vlack rouses the wolves with hard kicks and the party are back where they were; facing hideously ferocious opponents with depleting resources.
To make matters worse, through a door at one end of the room can be heard the charging of reinforcements. Quickly, Arakin sprints to the door to cast Hold Portal just before it starts banging with attempts to break it down. Swords and axes start to break through and all the while the battle with Vlack and the Ice Wolves is in the balance.
Finally, the party bring down one of the wolves and soon another follows. Vlack is last to fall and it is at this point that the held door bursts open just in time for Arakin to Web the hobgoblins who blindly charge in. The party begin killing them whilst they are incapacitated.
When the dust settles the party assess themselves and decide they cannot go forward any time soon. Retreating into the crypt they make camp to heal. This takes a few days and it is clear from noises in the room above that their invasion is discovered. From the sounds the party discern a large gruff creature and someone else ordering it around.
This is not the only growling heard. During this spell of rest, it is noted that Dhavram is acting strangely during the night; occasionally whining and barking. Dhavram is blissfully unaware but has wonderful dreams about eating people, although he’s not clear why he’s eating people. What is put together is that Dhavram has caught Lycanthropy from the recent fight with werewolves and needs to have the curse removed quickly. However, the nearest possible cure is in Threshold and even then it’s not known if Patriarch Sherlane can help. Dhavram resolves to head there once Skinny-Legs is dealt with.
Skinny and Hairy
Surprisingly the party is not confronted and even the door is unlocked when they decide to reenter the tower. Heading upwards they move through a couple of floors before reaching a door which, from the sounds beyond, seems to lead to a room in which some kind of interrogation is taking place. They are sure they hear Stephen’s voice beyond and open the door.
What greets them is confusing. The room is empty but there are definitely voices within. Suddenly a door opposite opens and a yellow-robed man appears from nowhere as he rushes through it and up the stairs beyond. Before the party can give chase, an angry snort alerts them to the fact there is something else in here, whilst Stephen’s voice also rings loudly “Watch out!!”
Dhavram enters the room and completely disappears from view – it seems the room makes everyone invisible. What ensues is chaos.
A great bellow erupts from the room and the invisible Dhavram and Shorty find themselves up close and personal with a large hairy…thing that snorts a lot. In desperation Arakin flings a Web into the room, which ends up pinning Dhavram, Shorty and the thing up against each other and a glass wall that no one can see. Most attempts to hurt the creature fail due to the situation, but its immense strength destroys the Web in under a minute and it leaves the room to attack Arakin and Padraig in the stairwell, revealing itself to be a Minotaur. It makes for Padraig who throws up a Mirror Image to avoid getting damaged. However, now visible the minotaur falls as the party gang up on the creature and bring it down, but not before a lot of tripping over each other whilst Invisible.
After a quick bit of healing, Stephen is located in the invisibility room and brought to the stairwell. He is found to be quite beaten up, but is grateful to be rescued. Not wanting the man in the yellow robe to get away, who Stephen explains is called Golthar (Skinny-Legs), the party run up to the next level of the tower, but not before equipping Stephen with some of the loot from Vlack.
When there they exit from the stairwell into a smaller chamber with oil paintings on the walls all around the circular room. No other exits are apparent, but two jade statues stand at the circumference halfway across the room. No sooner does the party reach the statues when they animate and attack Stephen. In the same moment, Dhavram and Shorty fall victim to a Hold Person spell cast from behind one of the paintings. Stephen knocks a big chunk out of one of the statues with his new two-handed sword, but the keep coming. Arakin and Padraig try to locate the spellslinger from behind the paintings but are unable to do so before being hit by several Magic Missiles.
It is looking bleak for the party when it only gets worse. A Sleep spell puts both Arakin and Padraig down and the entire party is defenceless. It is up to Stephen.
Arakin and Padraig are woken by an urgent Stephen who is covered in jade splinters and dust. He shouts that Golthar is behind the paintings and goes to smash one down but sets off a Lightning trap. Stunned, he is momentarily useless. Padraig jumps through the picture to see an open secret door and a stairwell beyond leading upwards. At that point there is a massive explosion from above.
Reaching the top of the stairwell, Arakin, Padraig and Stephen arrive just in time to find a smoke-filled chamber with a large hole blown out of the stone wall. Peering through they see multiple Golthars flying westwards in an attempt to escape, obviously under the effect of a Mirror Image spell. Too far to be attacked he evades capture.
After the dust settles, the party rest and Dhavram and Shorty both emerge unhurt from being held. A search of Golthar’s chamber reveals a wealth of treasures and riches, but the party are more interested in Stephen’s tale. He relays the following:
After being captured during the goblin attack at Ilyakana, I was taken, with others, to the Wolfskull (Kloss-lunk) lair and thence to Xitaqa. At Xitaqa, Golthar interrogated the prisoners, demanding to know where the “golden tapestries” were hidden. I realised that the tapestry in the hall at Sukiskyn was of the kind that Golthar sought and, although I would not divulge this, I could not conceal the fact that I knew. None of the other prisoners knew, however, and they were taken from the tower; I do not know where to. In the long days before your arrival, Golthar interrogated me and, from his questions, I was able to work out the secret of the special tapestry and the riches it might lead to.
Stephen then points to a small ebony box found amongst the treasure containing a silver needle and some gold thread and says that they have to get it to Sukiskyn immediately.
After a short rest, the party get ready to make their way to Sukiskyn, but it is at this point that Dhavram resolves to travel to Threshold to be cured of Lycanthropy. It is decided that he goes alone under the protection of an Invisibility spell provided by Arakin and the rest of the party wave him a fond farewell.
Pytor is overjoyed to see his brother return to Sukiskyn and puts on a massive feast that everyone at the homestead is invited to; even the refugees. Stephen obtains a translation of instructions in a strange language that were present in the ebony box and gathers only the family and party around the tapestry in the great hall. Carrying out the instructions, Stephen touches the tapestry with the needle and thread and everyone watches as it leaps out of his hand and completely transforms it into a map of the region, but as it was hundreds of years ago. Glowing clearly in the top left is a region in the mountains north of Threshold, which Stephen says is wild and untamed. He is eager to set off as soon as possible with the party to see what it is that Golthar wanted so badly.
As for Dhavram, he reaches Threshold safely and gains an audience with Patriarch Sherlane at the Tarnskeep to ask he helps remove the Lycanthropy from him. After the exchange of a few pleasantries, it comes to costing the party 5,000gp for the Patriarch to cast Remove Curse. Dhavram pays this gladly and catches a lift back to Sukiskyn on Cardia’s Magic Carpet.
An so endeth the session…