We step through the newly opened portal, even though there is obscuring mist hanging eerily just inside the door. A few feet further in is another door. Beyond this is a ritual ongoing in a room full of deep spiritual meaning—to followers of Baphomet.
Several creatures are defending a priest who is chanting some ritual. In the deep recesses of the room are two apparent sacrifices, struggling as some magical barrier saps them of their life essence.
The defenses are tough, skeletons just out of reach of my turn undead, and in front of them several other creatures including a rock smasher which we encountered with the gnoll yesterday. We form a defensive line and start trying to work through them, one slips past momentarily but Bulwark smacks him and puts him in his place.
Suddenly from behind me a shrill cry and arrows!!! ... aimed at our enemies??? Someone is taking advantage of the confusion to snipe some of our enemies. It’s some kind of elf, but it doesn’t look anything like our druid whose body we left in the other room. As long as the arrows don’t hit me on the way by, any extra damage to these guys is welcome.
The enemy defenders are too strong to just push past. When Bulwark finally makes a hole he thinks he can squeeze through to get to the caster he realizes the terrain is suddenly precarious, too difficult to move through. Something the archer has done has made it nearly impossible to get through to attack the cleric. Meanwhile the cleric has killed one of the sacrifices. I’m beginning to wonder what side this archer is on again. At the very least her help is a mixed blessing.
After a time with Illikan, Bulwark, Gurdis and I pounding on the defenses we finally get through. But not soon enough because as soon as Illikan engages the cleric he finishes his ritual, and the last of the squishy sacrifices dies… the strange archer cries out and tries to hold the old man, calling him something like dunce. If she calls me dunce I’ll punch her in the mouth, but this old man is too busy dying to care..
The cleric finally goes down, as does a minotaur he manages to summon to annoy us. It turns out the ranger’s name is sugar tits, it’s not clear if skulking around in dungeons is her day job or something she does to take her mind off being groped in the kinds of establishments she must work at night. Either way we look around and find a valuable statue of a minotaur that Illikan and Bulwark pry free of the altar.
On the way back to town we sell the statue to the Duergar but then continue into the Hall of Seven Pillars to rest and get ready for the next day.
The cleric yesterday had a magic key, a map, and a note from our buddy Paldimar. Apparently this guy is getting in all kinds of everybody’s business. I’m sure the family will want him out of the way to ensure the safety of trade relations with the locals, so we head out to follow the map. The map says there’s a turn where their ain’t one (and it’s disturbingly close to the Ho7p). The key, however, tries to jump out of my pocket so I take it out and see if it will lead us somewhere…. yeah, a wall, how interesting… but wait, it moves my hand around until it finds a completely hidden keyhole, it slides into the hole and a part of the wall moves away to reveal a cooridor.
We travel down the corridor a bit and find a dead end with some kind of scribble in the stone floor. As we investigate an apparition appears, he’s missing his left hand and eye, but otherwise looks like a ghost of a ghoul. It appears he’s a follower of Vecna, and he demands stories and lore to let us pass. I tell him of our great deeds thus far, including living through the hall of demons and the temple of Baphomet, and that seems to entertain him for a moment. Bulwark tells him of the crocodiles we found a few days ago, and when the strange ranger speaks up about crocodiles the apparition is obviously bored out of his one-eyed skull. Gurdis recovers nicely with some Baphomet lore we discovered in the Temple. Unfortunately our best storytelling and digging deep into our travels for stories of our daring and might aren’t enough to assuage this spectre’s hunger, but he agrees to let us pass for a price.
The circle of runes is a teleportation circle, it will cost us part of our life essence to cross through. We go ahead and pop out somewhere else, in a room with some d’orcs, they’re ugly like orcs but smallish and pinkish, and squishyish. There are quite a few of them, however, and the strange pillars in this room alternately smack us with necrotic and shoot something out to make us forget stuff. In a little side room are two casters who also like to make us forget stuff, we thought momentarily that taking them out would turn off the columns, then we forgot about it and just sent their spirits to face Kord.
There’s another teleportal that these d’orcs are coming through, we’ll have to investigate where that goes soon…