My Nightwick players have been so busy with things in the dungeon that I have neglected the news for several months (since January!). Here is a short summary of the major events that transpired while they were more interested in uncovering the secrets of the dungeon...
A Map of the Dark Country
In March of this year (1393), an Inquisitor from the Realm of Man arrived to investigate certain rumors that surround Bishop Notker the Unshaven and the death of Arn, son of Arnawald of Waldheim. A short month into his investigation, the inquisitor was himself killed. Now a new inquisitor has arrived and displaced the bishop from his palace until the matter can be resolved.
Meanwhile Baltzer the Bold, Lord of Blackleg since the death of Arn and Bishop Notker's Man, married Arn's wife to protect her from further depredations. Unfortunately, she died tragically in a riding accident during torrential rain in May. After what he felt was a suitable grieving time, he has announced he will be married this month to a young noblewoman from Nunshead.
KC as Sable (Nodron Druid 2)
James as Diomedes (Ilionian Fighter 4)
JP as Janster (Margive Assassin 3)
Chris as Adom (Khemian Rogue 4)
The party once again started out in Asterion, but not knowing the location of Xenephon they decided to put all Babashek-related hooks aside for a week. Instead they decided to deal with Sable's constant dreams of the Cube shaped structure in the desert and the Moon. Diomedes, an initiate in the cult of Dionysus, had been told of a location in the jungle which could shed some light on the dreams and the personage that lies within the cube.
Once again purchasing canoes (they have a bad habit of abandoning them forever), the party made their way up the turquoise river until they reached a small village they knew to be near the shrine of Dionysus they sought. They hired a guide and headed off into the Jungle of Serpents. They soon regretted not waiting until the next day once they became exhausted in the jungle and needed to set up camp earlier than normal - a day of canoeing can really ware you out.
That night they were troubled by the passage of four men who resembled none of the races known to the PCs. They were lanky and had strong, pointed features and red-brown skin. They wore not but loin cloths and carried swords similar to the ones wielded by skeletons in the tomb they looted in the last session. These men seemed friendly, but often laughed ominously in ways that suggested they would soon return in the night. Diomedes in particular found this laughter unsettling, wondering if it was some joke from their culture that did not translate well.
Later that night, Janster's watch was disturbed when he was attacked by three pit vipers. His screams awoke the party as he was bit in the face by one of the serpents. Then they became aware that three more snakes - giant, red-brown constrictors - were advancing on their position. The party slew the creatures in a protracted battle. Afterwards they speculated that the constrictors were, in fact, the men they had seen earlier after having undergone a hideous transformation. Janster's life was saved by the skillful application of delay poison.
Sending a scout up a tree the party was able to determine the exact location of the Dionysian shrine. On the way they had a brief setback when Adom's foot went crashing into a snake hole, causing him to be bitten by another venomous pit viper. Luckily this one was not nearly as potent as those they had faced the previous night, and they were able to back away and let the snake go about its business without anyone being in danger of dying.
The shrine itself was a small, open-air affair with a fountain pouring the teal wine of Yavana into a large basin. The party quickly determined that the wine was mystically potent - causing sleep and portentous dreams. Sable and Diomedes drank and were sent a vision of a strange giant who seemed in some way to be tied with the moon. They saw him at the head of a large Aramite army, casting the men of other races down a mountain. Then they saw him chained with glowing silver thread by his own people and the vision melted into an image of the black cube in the desert.
Still greatly confused, the party resolved to head to the town of Olizon, a city in the Moonshadow Desert which reports say has a cube like the one from Sable's dream within a few miles of it. Realizing they would have to pass through the High Keep again, Janster went about disguising his fellows so they could slip through without being recognized.
En route to the keep they spied a the gleam of a large, metallic object - possibly copper - several miles off their path. The party elected to check it out and found that it was a large copper golem playing discus with a group of wild dogs. Approaching seemed to frighten the dogs and enrage the golem. It attacked Adom, who tried to show he was a friend rather than run. After he was rendered unconscious the golem went off in search of the dogs and the party was able to resuscitate him by binding his wounds and feeding him good-berries.
The party then moved on to the hills outside the high keep. While camping they found that they were in the way of a large merchant caravan that sought to move through the hill-valley towards High Keep. Pickets from the caravan mistook(?) the PCs for bandits and attacked them with a hail of arrows. Janster was wounded but the party as a whole was able to slink into the dark and climb up into the crags to hide from further horsemen.
At dawn they made their way to the High Keep. Their disguises seemed to work, but not for want of trying. Diomedes was about to attempt the "I'll gladly serve as a mercenary" trick he used when they stole the arrowhawk until he saw the same golden-mailed captain of mercenaries was in charge of this caravan. They paid for passage and made their way to the town of Olizon.
They found Olizon a strange and foreboding place. The city seemed to be made of large, mud-brick towers higher even than Babashek's tower of metal in Asterion. However, they were only allowed on the first floor of these buildings due to their foreign status. From the city they could see -at least when the skyline allowed it - that the cube lay on an island in a great salt lake. Asking around the city provided few answers until Sable was approached in an alley by a burned out old beggar. He informed her that it was known as the "Dwelling of Demons" and that great peril lurked therein.
The party rested a night in the Red Jackal inn, the only establishment it seemed that would take their mercenary type, and then purchased a large raft to take them across the lake. They noticed that no traffic crossed the lake and that no fishermen cast lines into its waters. They shrugged this off and made their way to the island.
The cube bore a faded inscription across its faces warning that "whoever opens this tomb shall cast down an empire and raise up another." The party, seemingly unhappy with the status quo, decided that was a good thing and entered the strange dungeon by an almost imperceptible door. A second warning, a lead seal over a door of bronze in the dungeon itself, proclaimed that "whoever opens this tomb shall have bad stomach problems, piss locusts, and grow hair on their palms." Adom recognized this as a fairly route curse for ancient tombs.
Once they had broken the leaden seal, they found themselves in an immense hallway with strange alcoves on its left side. Realizing this was likely a trap, Adom through a small pebble down the corridor only to find it goo-ified by a strange, red ray that emanated from the alcove. After several further tests with pebbles, the rogue was able to determine the exact scope of the ray's effective range and attempted to throw a handful of pebbles while he ran by it. This worked, but was unsuitable for Janster, who merely found a nook where the ray wouldn't reach but where he could see the eye-like glass that shot it. He then fired at it with his crossbow, destroying it. This he did to the others down the hallway until they came to a door.
The room beyond the door contained a gilded bowl of immense size that held a black liquid. Realizing that something was amiss, Adom attempted to stab it with his rapier. As he did so the liquid raised up forming a great mouth-like void which engulfed him. The rest of the party, shocked to see their companion once again eaten, set about it with magic weapons. They slew the thing fairly quickly, but not before it did considerable damage to Adom who lamented coming into the dungeon.
Further on the party found a secret passage that led to a series of chambers where a group of strange men practiced ancient rites now lost to Aramite religion. They were albino and had mole-like skin growths over their useless eyes. They wielded bronze scimitars to great effect, but not great enough to save them from the slashing and stabbing blades of the party. Adom in particular showed great alacrity at thrusting his rapier into the hearts of his foes. Sable, too, lopped off a few heads with her scythe.
The degenerates had been praying before an idol of gold depicting the figure from Sable and Diomedes' dreams - a man in Aramite dress holding up the Moon. Taking the gold idol back to the chamber with the gilded bowl, they decided the best course would be to leave the dungeon for now and sell their lucre back in town.
I edited the treasure amounts since last session proved to be so wonky, and this time I think the payout was exactly perfect. The party is likely to start in Olizon next time and head straight to the dungeon, which is closer to my normal mode of operation.
If any of you made it through that and would like to know more about the world of Yavana, ask your questions in the comments and I will try to address them in posts.