The party finished mopping up the Giant Crayfish in the upper tier of the terrace room. The Sea Lions had slain the Manticores at the bottom and were feasting on the corpses, bloodying the water.
It was then that Orgrush noticed the water level was dropping.
Previously: WHITE PLUME MOUNTAIN: Session 1
A Draining Tidal Pool
At the half-orc’s shout and gesture, the rest of the party noticed the water was draining from the room. Indeed the Sea Lions realized their predicament as well – now trapped at the very bottom – and were roaring their distress. The party spiked the door several times, and attached a rope.
But Orgrush was occupied. The party could tell when Wave the sentient trident was communicating telepathically with its possessor, as Orgrush would gesture to and fro, his face a mask of frustration.
Wave was nagging again. It had sensed the Sea Lion’s distress, and the trident was agitated as well. Orgrush assured the weapon that the sea creatures would not be slain, and that the party was indeed leaving the dungeon (to proselytize for the sea god Xerbo).
Orgrush suggested in his simple way, “We could convert the Sea Lions to Xerbo…” Wave retorted, “Sea Lions are majestic creatures. Animals. They can’t be converted, you dolt!”
Orgrush ground his teeth but kept his cool. The ranger informed Wave that he could see a door at the bottom, and perhaps that was a way out.
The door had a Wall of Force covering it. However, as the last of the water drained out, the Wall of Force disappeared. The party, studying the situation, dropped torches, driving the Sea Lions away from the door on the bottom tier.
The party got the door open. [The doors here are universally tough. DC15 STR roll that they often miss]. There was a hallway heading south under the terrace room, to a door at the other end. Opening it, they saw:
Lavish furnishings and decorations are everywhere in this large room. The floor is strewn with rugs and cushions, and tapestries cover the walls. A hookah as tall as an adult human stands in one corner. The largest piece of furniture is a sumptuous divan.
Standing in the room was a halfling.
The halfling introduced himself as Qesnef, and was grateful at being released. Not so fast, Gimlet the dwarf interjected. “We have some questions.” Orgrush made a rude comment.
Qesnef ignored the half-orc, and addressed Gimlet, claiming to have been trapped here by the archwizard Keraptis for “months”.
Sir Valler stepped forward, casting Zone of Truth, and could tell that Qesnef was compelled by the spell.
Valler peppered Qesnef with questions, some of which he refused to answer. Truthful answers were:
- Name: Qesnef
- Was truly held here by Keraptis
- Was evasive when asked what sort of creature he was
- Did reveal he’d actually been here for 640 years
The party as this point was openly speculating. Demon? Dragon? What?
Valler cast Divine Sense, which signals if a foe is celestial, fiend, or undead. Qesnef was none of the three.
The “halfling” was humoring the party, but his patience was growing thin. He advised them to leave. “Last Chance,” he said.
Sir Valler cast Compelled Duel just before combat broke out.
The Slippery Oni
As battle erupted, Qesnef went invisible. Using Halfling Nimbleness, he shimmied his way through the party, leaving the room, heading north up the hallway.
The bluff hadn’t worked. Qesnef was frankly not a match for the party. He could lash them with spells (some of which would be Counterspelled), but would soon be surrounded and cut down.
So I’d planned to have Qesnef get into the terrace room, where he could use his Fly spell to full effect. However that Compelled Duel messed up his plan.
As the party stumbled around the room, trying to locate Qesnef, the polymorphed Oni (Ogre Mage) was under a compulsion, and could not proceed further up the hallway to the open terrace room.
Back in the room, Sir Valler lashed out with sword where he thought Qesnef to be, finding only empty air.
Quarion cast Poison Spray, hoping to make Qesnef visible. No joy.
Emlyn the warlock, still in the back of the party in the hallway, cast Detect Magic. Only to find a large source of magic directly behind her! Qesnef!
Emlyn cried out, and the party raced up to the invisible “halfling” and a couple of lucky hits were scored on the creature.
The party was having really great rolls this evening. Grr.
Qesnef cast Darkness.
Qesnef also managed to save versus Valler’s compulsion, and broke free, moving a remarkable distance up the hallway. The party could hear the Terrace room door open.
In a race against time, Orgrush and Sir Valler raced up after him, landed a few blows, and got a Cone of Cold in their faces in return.
Qesnef, badly wounded, leapt in the air to fly. But he was slapped out of the air by Sir Valler with an opportunity attack and slain, returning to his true form: a monstrous ogre magi.
The party looted Qesnef’s corpse, finding two ogre-sized rings, surely magical. Back in the sumptuous room, Gimlet pushed aside the divan. Treasure was hidden underneath. Coin, valuable jewelry, a potion…
…and a greatsword in a midnight black scabbard. It beckoned to Gimlet telepathically.
…souls. i must have souls. wield me for ultimate power! together, you and i can conquer whole nations…
Soon all members of the party were receiving their personalized invitations. Sir Valler sensed a great evil emanating from the sheathed sword.
To their credit, all party members recoiled away.
Clearly this was Blackrazor.
The party rolled up Blackrazor in the many rugs on the floor. Nobody touched it. The artifact continued beckoning, and went silent after a time.
They decided to make a rest here in the comfortable room, securing the heavy door with spikes.
It was actually too soon for a long rest, so they ended up spending 16 hours in the luxurious chamber. I rolled for extra wandering monster encounters. One resulted (bugbears). The party heard gutteral sounds and banging on the door, but for once the stout dungeon door worked in their favor, and the spikes held.
They got their long rest. But I warned them at the outset that if they took their sweet time exploring, competing adventuring parties would show up. They’d already encountered one such group.
This huge west branch of the dungeon was all cleared out, the party determined. So they made their way back to the central junction where the sphinx resided.
The party discovered that the heat metal corridor didn’t function in the reverse direction, to their relief.
However, they immediately ran into an adventuring party, all elves!
The elf champion demanded the party turn over the artifacts they’ve recovered, in the name of his queen.
They – of course – refused! Gimlet the dwarf made a rude comment about elves.