Ozric and Elinore finish their business in Oktar’s town and return to the ruins of the hypogeum.
- The party travels across the steppe and has no encounters in the 12 day trip.
- They rest for a few days and prepare to enter. Some gear needed to be repaired.
- They come across a small reptilian creature eating a giant rat in the ruins. They avoid it.
- They go down the well to the 5th level.
- Ozric uses knock to unlock the secret door they found and discover a small, poorly furnished office.
- Two items of interest in the office. A carved stone box with three bracelets that have blue stones. Several signatures of parchment bound with simple stitching. It says, “Ancient Spells of Fire and Wrath.”
- Ozric clears the room and reads the next page. Explosive runes had been cast on the bundle. It blasts the wizard but the magic must have been faded because the damage was minor.
- The party checks out the double doors on the other side of the hall of curiosities.
- They see the statues of the empress have a “necromantic” look to them and the door handles are made of bone.
- Elinor opens the door and finds a large room with a single white teleport pad three times the size they’ve seen before. Standing behind it, is an army of the animated armor beings they had previously fought. They are aligned like soldiers in formation. The room smells like an ancient crypt.
- They shut the door.
A room that had two teleport pads and a set of stairs going down had unexpected characteristics. The sound of bird song, the smell of leaf mould, and dappled sunlight was filtering into the cavern at the base of the stairs. There was a white teleport pad, an opening into a forest of tall mature trees in an open forest with very little undergrowth. There was a set of bars and a gate separating the dungeon from the forest that locked on the dungeon side of the portal. On the other side of the gate was a patio with a stone table and benches. They went out into the forest. They did not recognize the tall trees or the ferns that grew beneath them.
The party went back to the passage and traveled down the hall.
They came across a double door that was warm to the touch. The door across from it was coated in frost.
They opened the door that was warm. There were steps going down and a fine gritty sand. The air was dry and hot. At the landing, there was a scene like the forest except the cage separating the desert from the dungeon had been torn away as if demolished by something… big.
They opened the door coated in frost. Beyond was a balcony on the side of a mountain. Snow capped peaks spread out before them and the air was thin and hard to breath. The wind was freezing and bitter.
The party wondered at this, closed the door and continued down the hall.
They came around a corner into another area. This was hilly and forested. They came into an overgrown garden with what might have been a sort of fountain at its center. Beyond were the ruins of an old stone building. Near the fountain was an area where the leaves and plant material had covered something over. The diggers were tasked with uncovering it. They found human bones. The person had been wearing a great deal of jewelry. They also found a wicked looking dagger.
Detect magic was cast and several objects were discovered to be magical. The dagger was magic. Osric inspected it and determined it had several powers. If plunged into a victim and left in place, it would draw some portion of their victims energy and give it to the wielder. The dagger also allowed the wielder to change into a bat or wolf.
A signet ring of the empress Zeleska was found. The party decided that this was her corpse. The ring has the power to increase loyalty of followers. Another ring and a necklace that had several opals attached to it were discovered. The opals each had a spell cast on them that could be used in situations of great danger. It had once possessed another opal but it was missing.
- The party tasked the diggers with excavating the ruins as they stood guard.
- They diggers determined the building had been burned long ago as they found charred wood fragments. Among the ruins they found gems and kept digging.
- Some voices were heard and Osric transformed into a bat to see what the sound might be. He came across a small group of hill folk from the hills north of the Deena River. They were making a camp. He observed them and decided they were no threat.
- A few more hours of digging and there was a shower of arrows from the forest around the party. Several of the hireling men at arms and draug warriors were hit as was Ramil, Elinor’s squire.
- They party turned to their assailants and charged. It was the hillmen. The battle was short, they killed most of the warriors and one escaped. They did not chase him.
The party returned back to the room where they had not yet tried a blue teleport portal to see what was beyond it. Elinore went first. She found another room of teleport portals. One was a very large white portal, the blue one she came in on and several that glowed red, indicating that they were dead and dangerous to use.
The party came through after her and they proceeded to a large double door. They opened the door and looked upon an apartment that transitioned from dark to a soft magical light. There was a beautiful and large bed at the center of the room. Thick rugs of wool, polished fine furniture. The party moved toward the room and a pair of red glowing eyes appeared in the air before them. A disembodied voice told them that it was the guardian of the empress’ apartments and it would destroy the party if they entered.
They spoke with it briefly. It claimed to be something called a sandestin in the service of the empress. Elinor told it that it’s master was dead. The sandestin laughed and said the spirit of his master had not fled this plane and his period of indenture required that he was not free until it did. Elinor expressed doubt about this. The sandestin was insistent and told her that it would know the instant the spirit of the empress had fled the plane and in that moment it would be free to pursue its own interests. The mere presence of the sandestin was proof that she was on this plane still, if not in the flesh than her soul trapped…somewhere.
The party decide to retreat, and return to the camp.
- Having acquired a good deal of valuable treasure, the party decide to return to Dragons’ Bend and seek out Arpad the Glurm who might know how to find the empress’s spirit or send it on it’s way.
- The party travelled about a day and were being parallelled by a large party of steppe warriors.
- Osric cast haste on their horses and the party was able to out pace the steppe warriors.
- They passed across the steppe to Dragon’s Bend. There were no traders or merchants in the camp. They were able to hail a fisherman on the river to take them across. They left the horses and most of the hirelings behind. Ramil and the Draug went with them.
- They met a party of draug warriors who told them that the draug had a falling out with Oktar and weren’t allowing steppe men across the river. Since the party were the friends of the draug and had once rescued their chief’s son from kidnapping, they could pass.
- They arrived at the glurm’s hut and spoke to him. They asked how they could find the spirit of the empress and lay it to rest. The frogman licked his eye as they told him the story of how they found out her soul was still on this plane. He told them there were three people who might know or be able to find out. The spirit talker, a blind wise man the party had come across once before. The priest of Deena, Oktar’s uncle, and Farhat the dogman wizard who worshiped the empress as a goddess. Farhat claimed that the empress spoke to him through a statue that they worshiped as an idol.
- The party decided to find the spirit talker.
- After a week of travel, they found the strange old man. His face was covered in scars. He had no eyes. His attendants are all deformed, insane or both.
- The party bargained with him. He said to bring as much dried dung and sweet grass from the steppe as they could find. He would also need a fine horse and any alcohol they could spare.
- That night, the materials all gathered, the spirit talker lit a great fire with dung, killed the horse and burned its body on the fire. He poured out the wine they gave him. He danced, chanted and sang to the spirits.
- Later when the ritual was completed and the spirits had spoken. He told the party that the soul of the empress was in the statue that Farhat worshipped. The only way to send the soul on it’s way was to destroy the statue.
The party pondered this and considered their next move.
I use Rocketbook with the “snapcast” feature for my online gaming. I draw the scene, scan it with my phone, and share the image via a link provided by the Rocketbook app or over Skype. This is similar to the way I run my in person games by mapping on a regular piece of graph paper. I draw the map as we progress through the dungeon.
The notebook I use the most is the Rocketbook Flip. The notebook is erasable and reusable. One side of the page has lines, the other a dotted grid, making it great for drawing dungeon sketches and sharing them with players without all the effort of creating a VTT map, fussing with dynamic lighting and fog of war.
If you are interested in checking out Rocketbook products, here is an affiliate link. If you buy something, I get paid a little bit of money for recommending the product at no extra cost to you.