Part I: Into the Maze
Sitting next to the fountain, the party pored over their map of this level. "We've covered everywhere -- there are no doors or corridors we haven't explored. Where do we search for secret doors?" David asked.
Being David he answered his own question before anyone else could. "We can be sure there's no door in here [Fountain Room] since the clerics of T didn't find this room. Let's search here first," pointing to the barracks area in which they found the secret door to the Fountain Room.
Several tedious hours passed while the searched each of the 15 barracks rooms and the hallway between the rooms. Then they spent several more hours searching the temple room. And the entrance room. And the hallway between the barracks and the temple.
FINALLY in the southern corridor leading from the entrance room to the temple, they found the secret door. It went west about 120 feet and turned north. Traveling another 120 feet (probably north of the temple) it opened into smaller corridors going in various direction. Plenty wide for humans and demi-humans, these 10 foot wide corridors would be narrow and confining for giants.
David commented, "Looks like we found the maze."
"Which way do we go first?" asked Jake.
"Left. Always go left in a maze. They're designed to mess up right handed people." Note 30
So the party went left, and left, and left again. The monotony of the travel left the party unprepared when a cleric of Tharizdun darted from around a corner, laying hands upon Jake. The Cause Wounds spell he used inflicted horrible pain -- Jake yelled out in agony. Fighting through the pain Jake cut the cleric down with two savage blows! "Son of a puppy dog!" Jake grated. "That hurts!"
Bisonbit cast a Cure Wounds spell upon him, relieving the pain and the burn of the evil cleric's spell.
Continuing on, the party took each left turn, twice more being attacked by evil clerics with ready Cause Wounds spells. The first attack was warning enough -- these poor fools died quickly and savagely as Jake and David cut them down before they could release their perverted magic.
As best as they could map the maze, it appeared they were circling west to the north and back east again. More quickly than expected, the party came to a downward spiraling staircase sized for giants, carved into the stone.
The circular stairway descended deeply into the earth, well below the bottom of the ravine that surrounded the surface temple structure. Gilden estimated they descended at least 200 feet before reaching the bottom. There they found the expected room carved from the rock. In contrast a rough tunnel 20 feet wide and 20 feet high opened in the north wall. Torches in rude brackets every 50 feet lit the tunnel.
Bisonbit cast Silence 15' Radius on a copper piece to eliminate the noise of the party's travel and to throw at enemy spell casters. Traveling cautiously the party proceeded into the tunnel.
Gilden realized the tunnel curved slowly to the northwest. After 100 feet smaller tunnels, also rough, opened to the southwest and northeast. Using hand signals the party agreed to check the southwest one first.
The tunnel went a short distance and opened into a rough room, a barracks area for 4 clerics. The evil clerics didn't expect any visitors and were surprised to see the party. Grasping their ugly spears they attacked the party, dying quickly and in vain. A quick search of the room turned up nothing of interest.
The northeast tunnel also went a short ways before opening into another barracks room, apparently empty.
Something must have warned these clerics -- they had prepared their Cause Wounds spells and were pressed as flat as they could against the walls beside the entrance. Surprising Jake and David they leaped forward to lay hands upon them.
To an observer the scene is bizarre -- two men screaming silently in excruciating agony. The Silenced coin prevented any sound from escaping.
Their spells expended the four clerics found their battle skills woefully inadequate for the task of saving their lives. Jake and David cut the first pair down, and were joined by Faraz and Trilla to send the second pair to their unjust reward. Bisonbit and Gilden watched behind to avoid any nasty surprises. Note 31
Jake sighed with relief as Gilden's Cure Wounds spell alleviated the vast majority of his pain and burning. "Demeter preserve me! I hate those clerics!" he thought. Again nothing of interested turned up in a hurried search. The entire group was aware of passing time -- they had 24 hours to find and prevent the release of an evil creature of pure chaos. At the end of 24 hours the special magics placed upon their weapons would fade.
Moving back to the main corridor, the party continued moving cautiously as it curved to the south, opening into a huge amphitheater. This huge cavern's floor was dished so in the center was about 10 feet below the entrance, while the ceiling above that center was a whopping 70 feet above. Niches lined the walls, probably 40 of them -- each containing a statue identical to the ones that lined the ledges in the above levels.
Near the center of the room stood a humanoid statue about 7 feet tall, surrounded by 3 frost giants and a dozen humans. One of the giants chanted in an unknown language, reading from a scroll.
Bisonbit tossed the Silenced coin to the side so the party was out of its area of effect. The figures around the statue did not notice the party so Jake and Renki both began casting. David's Fireball hit the figures and a few seconds later Renki's Lightning Bolt followed it.
Several of the evil clerics slapped the stone floor in a roll of death. Most were still on their feet although all hurt badly. Faraz's sling stone missed its target but Jake's crossbow bolt struck the giant holding the scroll, piercing his arm in a spray of blood. The hot blood splashed the statue. For a few seconds nothing happened, then the statue started glowing. The clerics ignore their attackers, turning their attention totally to the statue. It visibly changed, converting from stone to some type of pseudo-flesh.
Straightening from its crouched position, its cloak divided and became wings. The bland humanoid face morphed beyond anyone's worst nightmare and the hands became clawed caricatures.
Turning to the frost giant with the scroll, it launched itself at him, biting and tearing with its claws. As all the stunned onlookers stood frozen, it tore the giant to bloody chunks. Standing erect it glowed again. In response each of the statues in the amphitheater animated into slightly smaller versions of the Chaos Gargoyle, glowing briefly as the stone transformed into pseudo-flesh.
Creatures of Elemental Chaos that had not been seen since before the beginning of known history again strode the world. Note 32
I'm really disappointed with my maze. Eric's idea was perfect -- the party made it through the maze in less than half the time I expected. Oh, well ... will do a better job next time!"
As previously noted, the Cause Wounds spells as I run them make these lower level clerics very dangerous one-hit wonders. After the spell is expended the clerics are dead meat. But until that time they're scary!
After this adventure is complete I'll post descriptions of both the Bereaver and the Chaos Gargoyle.
Copyright 2013 Bryan Fazekas