Birthright: Rise of the Kingmakers

Session 17, The Book of Torments

July 5-6, 561 H.C.

Present: Brian, Dave, Jess, Ron; Absent: Ken

Current Goal: quested by Prince Renerick (of Mhowe) to investigate Caelcorwynn Island and possible activities there by The Serpent.

Last Session Recap: Having searched through much of the sphinx catacombs, it was clear that the agents of The Serpent had been through much of the complex. Many treasures were found but left alone, lest the traps that protected them be set off. Some of the deeper rooms were adorned with huge statues of Azrai, clearly dedicated to the worship of that ancient, evil god. Most concerning was a huge statue of the god with open hands, as if he should be holding a book that was not there. Did The Serpent people take the book, causing the zombies to rise from the sands?

July 5, 561- Temple to Azrai, Caelcorwynn Island

late afternoon? (hard to stay inside the sphinx)
(The Nixie will leave in 2 days…)

As the zombie collapsed to the ground from Nick’s decapitating blow, several dozen scarab beetles scurried from the now inanimate body, quickly fleeing into shadows and crevices.
The room beyond the now-open secret door was full of dead bodies, a scene of complete carnage. Three empty daises appeared to have once been perches for the lizard creatures they saw in the cordoned-off area between the sphinxes paws – but there were only two zombie-lizards back on the surface. Where was the third? Nick became very nervous.
Nick searched the bodies and most equipment was badly mauled. One body had a satchel with some books. Jenneken found one was a very old journal, the other two she couldn’t understand. Khisenya said one of the others was a relatively recent journal of a Serpent priest. [Note: effectively a priest spellbook.] The last book was written in Maesetian, but was encoded. Jenneken took the books.

The next room had a lower level with a raised dais holding a stone tomb. Two humans guardians, badly mauled, crouched motionless behind the tomb – were they alive? Nick noticed a pressure-plate trap along the bottom step leading to the lower area. Khisenya called out a greeting in Maesetian, but got no response from the motionless guardians. Vendar cautiously approached, and the guardians moved to attack him!

Khisenya cast her Cloud of Mica spell on the guardians, but unfortunately Vendar was caught in its effect as well. The woodsman transformed into a small cat, managing to rid himself of the blinding effect in the process. Nick charged and chopped at one with his cleaver, noticing that when he hit the guardian did not bleed.

One of the zombie guardians lumbered toward the others, stepping on the trapped step. With a loud click, the lower level between the steps and the dais burst into blue flame. Kitty-Vendar barely managed to leap to safety.

Nick chopped up the warrior zombie on the dais while the others (slowly) took care of the one on the steps. Khisenya did major damage using a spell from her holy symbol, and Almira finished it off with a well-placed crossbow bolt. Almira suffered a zombie bite at one point, but Vendar later determined it did not appear infected. At a two different points, beetles from the zombies tried to crawl into the skin of our heroes.

Trapped away from his companions while waiting for the flame trap to stop, Nick searched the dais and found two more of the signet-locked stone cabinets. Using the ring he found, he opened them and found two sealed containers and several scrolls. Having kicked the dead zombie into the flames, the scarabs that cowered beneath it tried to flee but found no cover. They then turned to attack him. As they bit into his boot, Nick made a daring leap across the flames to rejoin his companions.

As the group tried to pass into the next room, Vendar’s torch was extinguished as he entered. Testing with Khisenya’s glow stones, they too were extinguished. As she worked to adjust her spell again, Nick heard sounds coming from the room, like a large creature walking about. Almira’s Glimpse spell, used through the door, showed a huge lizard creature preparing to bash down the door!

At Nick’s suggestion, the group retreated to the dais, hoping to trap the creature in the flame trap as it approached. As the lizard broke through the door, everyone attacked it with their ranged weapons. Most of the arrows glanced off its tough hide, but a few broke through. Khisenya blasted it in the face with her Spiritual Bolt spell, killing it.

Dozens of scarab beetles poured from its body, rushing toward the heroes. Waiting for most to be in the flame trap area, Lion-Vendar jumped to trigger the trap. Most were burned, but a few stragglers swarmed onto him. Leaping back to his companions, his friends managed to get the horrible bugs off before they could burrow into him.

With Khisenya’s adjusted light spell working again, the group entered the next room where the lizard was prowling. The room was empty except for a raised dais with a large stone sarcophagus on it. As the group approached the tomb, Vendar and Nick found they could not approach [failed Mettle roll].

A badly chewed corpse was on the dais next to the stone coffin. Looking at the remains of its clothing and the accoutrements he wore, it seemed likely that this was once the Serpent’s high priest – the one the goblins said entered the sphinx and never came back out. The priest was carrying a leather satchel that contained a single book. With unusual focus, Khisenya flipped through the pages and determined it was some kind of priest journal. Several of the entries were consumed with research on reanimating corpses.
After an extended wait, Khisenya seemed overly consumed with reading the journal. When Jenneken asked her about it, she snapped at her. Vendar snatched the book from her, and suddenly he seemed obsessed with the book, too. Almira touched the book with her Push spell, sending it briefly into the future – yet she, too, now seemed fixated on owning the book. Nick tried to slap some sense into Khisenya, but she shrugged it off and attacked Almira. Almira cast her Binding Bands spell, holding Nick in place. Vendar changed into his lion form and tackled Khisenya to the ground. Khisenya then canceled her light spells, sending the room into darkness.

Scuttling sounds began to grow from around the arguing party members. The beetles were coming…

As the party argued in the darkness, Jenneken cast her Cloud of Mica spell, hoping to hit the doorway. The bit of light it provided seemed to keep the beetles somewhat at bay. Having broken Almira’s spell, Nick tried to drag Almira out of the room, but couldn’t find her in the darkness. Feeling the beetles crawling on him, Vendar released Khisenya and ran for the door. Everyone but Khisenya followed suit.

Changing back into human form, Vendar lit a torch. Having fought off the book’s curse for the moment, Vendar went over to Almira and tried to shake her out of it. Jenneken and Nick tried to see Khisenya in the dark room, but were stymied by the various magical effects in place. Vendar tried to go in the room to drag her out, but the magical influence of the sarcophagus prevented him from approaching Khisenya, who stood on the dias.
Jenneken used an illusion spell to make it appear as though the book had reappeared near the door. Calling out to Khisenya, she was not convinced, and remained in the room waiting for the book to reappear.

In a last ditch effort, Almira cast her portal spell to provide a safe passage from the room where they were to a spot right next to Khisenya. Vendar dashed through and grabbed the mind-controlled Khisenya, but couldn’t drag her back through the portal. Nick came to help, right at the same time the book reappeared. With some struggle, they managed to drag her out and snap her out of the mind-control.

After some discussion, the group used a combination of spells to enter the room and slide the book back into the satchel without touching it.

Everyone quickly agreed that the book belonged back on the Azrai statue stand. Returning to the room with the statue, they carefully placed the book in place. The spine matched grooves in the statue, lending some weight to the group’s hope they had restored things to as they should be.

A moment after the book settled into its resting place, vast streams of beetles began swarming into the room, all heading to the secret room where the group heard them scuttling before. This lasted for several long moments. With the beetles back in their “holding room”, the group hoped that they had undone the zombie curse.

With Nick insisting on taking some time to search the complex for more treasure, the group nonetheless made their way back toward the outside. When they arrived at the room that led to the exterior, they could hear the sound of a large conflict raging outside. Vendar changed to his owl form and flew outside to investigate.

From the air, Vendar could see a large group of goblins were fighting the Serpent people in the open field near the sphinx. Though the Serpent people were far outnumbered, they were holding their own.

Nick wanted to go and fight the Serpent people, to get revenge for the attack on Mhowe. The others just wanted to get back to the Nixie and get off the island. After some discussion, they agreed to wait until dark and try to slip away. In the meantime, they could search some of the unexplored parts of the catacombs, hopefully finding a point where Almira’s portal spell could get them outside and away without being noticed.

One room contained statues of were-creatures, but each had features that didn’t seem to fit. After some investigation, the group was able to determine that various parts of the statues could be pressed like switches. Vendar suggested which parts to press, based on their mis-matching. Having pressed those switches, each caused a grinding sound from echo from somewhere else in the complex.

Searching some of the other rooms, Vendar found a &{color:blue}large rat statue buried in the sand. Its joints were flexible, like many of the other statues in the tomb. Almira examined the object, and concluded it was like the mechanical cobra guardian that they encountered in Lady Lavinia’s vault. Nick placed the rat in his bag,% along with the platinum pieces he took some time before.

With darkness having fallen outside, the group went back to the room where Almira could make a portal to the outside. Once outside, they made their way quickly toward the surrounding countryside. As they jogged, Nick shouted toward the goblin pyramid, “We put the book back!”

Having made slow progress through the darkness away from the sphinx area, the group decided it was safe to make camp.

Most of the night passed uneventfully. Vendar, patrolling in his large-cat form, saw an injured scarab beetle slowly making its way back toward the sphinx. A short while later, he saw dimly-glowing foggy shapes drifting away from the sphinx.

July 6, 561- Wilderness, Caelcorwynn Island

(The Nixie will leave tomorrow morning…)
Following the road that lead through the center of the island, the group made good time toward their rendezvous with the Nixie. At one point, Nick and Vendar spotted a goblin ambush set up to waylay them. Taking owl form, Vendar scouted the area and managed to find a path that would lead them around the ambuscade.

It took the better part of the day to work their way to the coast.

As they neared the far side of the island, the path was blocked by three “kangaroos” with red eyes and long, sharp teeth. Sensing they were only looking for food, Vendar threw the rest of his rations on the ground near the fierce-looking animals. With the others following suit, they cautiously made their way around the creatures and were back on their way.
Arriving at the small bay where the Nixie was anchored before, there was no boat to be seen.

Ron says: for completing this part of the adventure,

everyone gets 18 character points and 1 fate point.

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ronald_t_m

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