Most Troublesome Foe – Giant Wasps
Most Effective Magic Item – Cloak of Arachnidia or the Staff of Athanasus
Having completed their quest to destroy the evil Book of Eibon, and restored the Spring of Athis by lifting the curse on the ancient city of Pazar, healing party members was in order. Petrified, mortally-wounded, level-and-wisdom drained companions were immersed in the precious water and thereby restored to their natural health.
The party returned to the wagon to restock and choose a course of action. Rather than begin the return trek to civilization, some back-tracking and cleanup was decided upon, and camp was broken in preparation. The wagon and horses were moved to the south end of the hill, during which time our group had to dispatch a pair of giant tarantulas. The new camp was quckly set-up, and as the sun was on the rise they returned to the Tomb of Kings, making their way down to the throne room. As the gold bas-reliefs on throne and wall were removed, Paddy snuck out into the Royal Tomb where the battle with undead Athanasus was fought, visions of treasure dancing in his halfling head. Attempting to pry open the first ancient coffin Paddy was struck by a wave of pain, and, reconsidering his plan, he wisely elected to give up the effort and return with the rest of the party to the surface.
They next decided to explore a great, single-story building by the south slope; this was evidently a library, judging by the dried, cracked, disintegrating wooden shelves, papyrus, vellum, leather, and more detritus on shelves and floor. A few intact scrolls and boxes were discovered in the west portion. When Paddy and Rebamac ventured into the east side wasps as big as men attacked them, and they ran outside for help; but Rebamac was stung by a wasp, and within a few steps found herself paralyzed. Paddy dragged her back to the group as the giant insects hovered outside the doorway, daring them to re-enter. Some arrows and Magic Missiles brought the wasps down, but it was obvious that more were inside the library. Darmok, with his Boots, ran the paralyzed half-elf back to the Spring, Garath easily keeping pace with his barbarian stamina, and Rebamac was immersed again and freed of her paralysis. Upon returning to their friends, Bobill turned Invisible and, with Rebamac’s help using a bullseye lantern, found the wasps’ nest in the northeast corner. The human mage opened his Cloak and uttered a command word to cast a Web which covered the nest and caught most of the adult wasps within. The pair fled before they could be stung, rejoined the party, and Exex cast her Invisiblilty on Bobill, who then re-entered the library. The Invisible mage waited until the unwebbed wasps were in relatively close proximity to one another and then cast Stinking Cloud, which brought all four huge insects to the floor as fast as a giant can of RAID. At this point, everyone spread out around the disabled bugs and proceeded to push bookshelves onto them and shoot arrows into them until all were dead, and then the Web was lit afire, which burned quite nicely. Now able to explore the eastern half unhindered, the adventurers discovered some coins and trinkets amongst the dried-out husks of the wasps former prey, and a room in which more intact scrolls were stored.
The party returned to the wagon and rested, re-learning used spells, and trekked to the Palace, determined to find treasure they were sure still remained. Before they had gone too far, though, they ran into a half-dead bandit named Richard who informed them he had just escaped from the place, that the rest of his companions were dead. Looking to loot the place after spying and assuming it was now empty, they had found an entrance to a lower dungeon through a secret door, and discovered there were still black-garbed spellcasters and fighters down there. Our characters convinced him to lead them down there; but once they reached the half-open secret door in the cellar armory, he wouldn’t go any further without being near the back. Agreeing, the party proceeded down the steps and found three locked doors, behind which were cells and a torture chamber guarded by orcs; among the many cells two held dervishes and two contained ghouls. Past the doors the hallway became a long stairway down, and the hallway at the bottom was already torchlit and the floor covered with scattered sand.
Paddy moved silently down the hallway, and rolled to hide in shadows (though as I mentioned, the hall was torchlit…), and checked each of three bronze doors, two embellished with runes (and a magic sigil on one, which Chees’ Dispel Magic removed) and the other door with an intricate bas-relief pattern. Paddy continued up the hallway, now about 200’ from the party, to an archway, where he then discovered someone in chainmail had come up behind him – and two more fighters were coming out from the bas-relief doorway!
Paddy fought to extricate himself as the rest of the party moved into the hallway; after Darmok and Garath ran past the open doorway, more fighters appeared, and a group of black-robed spellcasters from the archway. One spellcaster uttered a phrase enchanting Garath, forcing Darmok to utilize his sword’s Dispel Magic on the charmed barbarian. Bobill used the Pharos’ staff to send a forked Lightning Bolt into the archway, instantly killing all but one, who fled back into the chamber beyond the arch. Garath chased him into the chamber and was met by a hail of Magic Missiles cast by another spellcaster in the south end of the room.
Meanwhile, Allynfred and Darmok had moved past the bas-relief door to engage a pair of chainmail-clad fighters, while Paddy and the other spellcasters – Chees, Rebamac, and Exex – remained in combat in the hallway. With the party thus divided and distracted, their forced “guide” slipped away unseen. Darmok and Allynfred eventually faced a huge man of rather ogrish appearance wielding a nasty morningstar, which managed a solid hit on Darmok’s battered plate armour. Darmok may need the services of an armourer when they return to civilization (good time to revisit a rule unusable in the desert: any character brought to 0 hp or lower in the course of combat can be assumed to have had their armour demolished, unless magical, necessitating repair or replacement). This half-ogre, the other humans, and orc cannon fodder with them were all vanquished and their bodies looted, turning up an empty flask and a full flask, plus a key, on the half-ogre. Then the door in the rear of this room was picked and opened; an armoury lay behind, where most everything succumbed to time save for a few special items. Hanging on one wall was a golden-vined shortbow sans bowstring, a pair of bracers laced to it, and a large clay urn on a table held a golden open-faced helm. In the dust behind a rack of weathered spears Darmok discovered three javelins, of brass with copper spirals and lightning-glyphs inscribed.
Moving on through the archway at the hall’s end the party entered the large lozenge-shaped chamber where Garath and Bobill had fought the spellcasters; it held two stone tables and a brazier with smoldering coals, one dead dervish upon a table. An archway at the south end led to a huge circular chamber fitted in black onyx, magical signs on the floor and more bodies scattered in the far side. Two antechambers at the north end of the lozenge chamber were vestrys, holding black robes and a black triangular tabernacle housing unfolded black and red cloths.
Play ended for the night here, with the party ready to test the two unopened bronze doors in the hallway.