Wednesday, April 18, 2018

The Cult Entrenched.

The Ivory Scimitars regrouped back in Kelton to resupply and gather their forces for another strike on the forest base of the Lizard Cult; during which, the fangs of the Cult were barred in a retaliatory strike - an assassination attempt on Roldrick. Darkedge, the Eastern Shinobi, gave chase after the rooftop assassin, but lost him after being wounded by the would-be killer.

After a days rest, the group began their three day journey back to the Woods of Sharp Teeth. The travel across the prairie was uneventful, perhaps a calm before the storm. As they approached the marshland mound that lead to the Cult's lair, strange totems were found. Bones, both human and animal, adorned the wooden tripods, clearly placed there as a warning. Crude as they were, they were unnerving to several of the Scimitars, but Roldrick fearlessly pressed the group forward. Near the mound, many large lizards were tethered to surrounding trees. These great lizards bore leather saddles and were likewise adorned with bones as well as what appeared to be human scalps. The Reptilian mounts were not disturbed; instead, the party descended into the lair.

Down the earthen stairs they went, deep into the wet underground. Even though he'd purchased an everlasting Torch back in town, Roldrick failed to spy a thin tripwire stretch across a step and triggered a clay pot full of Green Slime to spill upon him. His everlasting Torch was useless, as the magic item only provided light and no heat. Thinking quickly, Morn plied his skill in the Art upon poor Roldrick, summoning a Vancian sphere of many colors that burned the slime from him.

The attack at the bottom of the stairs was clearly rehearsed in anticipation of the return of the Ivory Scimitars. Fanatics of the Lizard Cult shot both arrows and spells at our stair-bound heroes, causing them to retreat back up to the surface. The clash was furious and swift; fighters on both sides were held fast by holding spells and druidic entanglement. Poisoned daggers glanced off armor and shields, and cultists fell before righteous blades.

Then entire engagement lasted not even a minute, but the curses and warcries of the fighting men aroused the curiosity of a bizarre denizen of the deep. Rubbery flesh pressed against muddy walls in the westernmost passage of the entry chamber. Sensing prey with it's long eye-stalks, the Giant Slug vomited a gout of corrosive fluid at the leading member of the party. Once again, Roldrick was victim of the fury of the Cult, as the acidic fluid burned his armor into a useless husk.

Things continued to spiral out of the Scimitar's control as the slug blocked the passage to the surface with it's fleshy bulk and pushed the group southward and deeper into the underground complex. Slithering out of the pool of stagnate water in the center of the next chamber was a mechanical construct in the form of a great cobra, its fangs dripping with certain death. The slug continued to belch forth its caustic acid against the Scimitars and the Iron Cobra focused its attacks on the only name the Cultist knew of the party ... Roldrick, he who slew the High Priestess in Kelton.

With considerable effort - almost to the point of exhaustion - the Ivory Scimitars prevailed against the randomly appearing slug and the programmed Iron Cobra.  They had reached the secret door that behind which was a boat that could ferry them across the stinking waters of the next chamber. But the boat had been removed. The group decided to move across the hip deep waters as swiftly as possible. Their fears were realized in the form of three hungry Giant Alligators that were hurriedly swimming toward their next meals.

Morn threw icy bolts of arcana at the beasts, while Ramne, the elderly wizard from Kelton, manipulated the very fabrics of time and space about the gators, causing them to slow their approach. Even as such, the beasts were formidable, causing injuries greatly against the Scimitars as they struggled to reach the other side of the chamber.

No member of the Scimitars were not bloodied by the vicious Alligator attack, but made it to the other side of the chamber, they did. Their path was highlighted on their map as to the most direct way to the heart of the Cult's activity. A long hallway leading to the stairs that descended to the chapel of the damned was next to be overcome. The Cult had prepared the great hallway with mosses and swampland vegetation on the floor.  The group pressed on.

The Cult had dug pits in the hallway, twelve feet deep, but only five by five feet in width. In each pit was an undead abomination.  These Hungry Dead were particularly hard to dispatch,  for there was not much room to manoeuvre in the pits and even missile weapons were a poor solution considering the closeness of the undead targets and their prey. The Ivory Scimitars dealt with two such pit traps before utilizing a ten foot pole to scout ahead for further traps, which were found and quickly bypassed.

Arriving at the stairway to the second level of this complex, a large bloody smear stretch across the stone tiles of this room leading under the door to the stairs. An eerie silence filled the room creating a certain trepidation among the group. The pushed themselves past the gory scene and took to the stairs going down.

It was at the midpoint of the stairway a Strange Skeletal Construct reared it's souless face to be lit by Roldrick's everlasting torch. At each end of the beast, there were skulls; both ends were typically skeletal up to where the torso ended - and here they were connected by additional spinal bones and sharpened rib bone. It moved in the flickering torchlight like a great serpent. Ramne wasted no time in dispatching the horror, hurling a great lightning bolt at the thing. It writhed as it blacked under the power of the old wizard and finally fell; its scorched bones tumbling down the stairs into the dark below.

The clattering spill of bones in the dark served as a warning to the Lizardmen at the stairwell's bottom. Trident armed Lizardmen charged up the stairs and clashed with the party's strongest, yet very wounded members. Roldrick sounded a full retreat back up the stairs. The Lizardmen pushed their advantage upward.

Manjores shouted to the party to split up to better flank the lizardmen in the labyrinthine tunnels above. Utilizing their map to their best advantage, all the while keeping a steady distance from their pursuers, the Ivory Scimitars successfully flanked the Lizardmen in the now empty Alligator Chamber. The battle was swift, but the party was badly beaten ... they would take refuge in the Gator's nests for now ...