As the golden mists receded, the party found themselves recovered and whole, but back in the dining room, another course of food coming their way. A nice tossed salad. So of course they jumped in.
And discovered it boosted one random stat by 1-2 points and lowered another stat by 1-2. Most characters had attributes firmly within their attribute mod range go up and down, so they neither really received a benefit or a penalty. Alfric did end up with a 19 Str (I’m using the Immortal B/X rules for that) so while ‘really strong’ it didn’t mechanically change things. However, Jayna, who went to a 10 Strength lost a point of Int and she was on a break point, meaning she lost a language and a proficiency. So she was out of the eating magical food game.
But everyone else pushed through… Alfric and Long Tom ate magical bread that made them no longer need food, while several of the hirelings forever needed to eat double. Then Long Tom, Lysander, and Anara choked on poison in the mushrooms and began turning blue (while the remainder gained a permenant bonus to poison saves). Jayna pulled the scroll out of Long Tom’s pack of Neutralize Poison and cast it on him… and then the second use she used on Anara. There was nothing left for poor Lysander who continued to die while the ghosts brought another course, desert.
Long Tom desperately tried to force feed Lysander the desert in the hopes that it might heal him, while Alfric kept eating. No one else would touch the food at this point.
Lysander gained the ability to use ESP once a week, and as he died, he realized the pain and desperation his companions were feeling at his loss.
Alfric finished the meal with a glass of clear brandy.
And his body became translucent…like the other ghostly diners. In moments, Alfric had joined the ghostly dance, lost forever to the party.
At this point, the game ground to a halt. Only Long Tom and Alfric’s players were currently there, so we stopped while I let him make a new PC. Lairn’s player showed up just as the new mage finished getting rolled up, and I had them both experience strange nightmares and meditative disturbances, shot through with feelings of closeness to the PCs currently lost in Castle Amber. Then they woke in the Foyer with the mules, the dead mule, and a bunch of gear.
Long Tom entered the room carrying the shrouded corpse of Lysander and gently lay it down among the animals. The dead mule had not begun to putrefy, so they were hopeful that this place and its weird time effects prevented decay.
They characters had a long discussion with each other as Long Tom explained what they knew of the place. When Alfric’s name was mentioned, one of the two strange women (one in orange robes, the other in plate mail) perked up. “Alfic? The dwarf? That bastard owes me money,” she said. (Essentially I’ve decided that people with emotional ties to the existing characters can get drawn into the trap…but those emotions can be good or bad).
Her name was Hannah, a graduate of the mage’s guild, and a healer by trade. The warrior woman was her hireling who’s name I forget.
Lairn was surprised to see the party and much shocked by their condition (he’d not seen the various injuries others had suffered). Alfric’s remaining hirelings agreed to keep fighting on until they found an escape from this place as they had little choice. Now, since I’m using the golden mist to hard cap the number and levels of characters going into the castle (10 total people, up to 34 levels…the recommended amounts for the module) they will probably survive in the golden mist until the party escapes or TPKS (and they can serve as replacements for lost hirelings as well).
So it was determined that they would continue on their way, searching the house and hoping they could find a way out. Raakaa (I retconned Derrin the Weretiger to a more asian flavoured character for more ethnic diversity) asked if the party wanted to visit the Kazin, or head to the area he was warned away from. Hannah asked if he’d ever seen an exit and he said no, so she said that there may be one in the place he’d been told to avoid.
Back in the huge mirror hall (luckily the mirror trap didn’t activate again) the went to the single door on the north, directly across from the entry hall that led to the foyer. This opened to a small ten-foot wide corridor with three doors on the east wall.
The first door revealed a strange room stone room filled with green goo. At the other end of the room was a stone platform two feed above the goo that had a 3 foot square of stone with an obvious lid, covered in wet looking concrete. The ceiling was a dull, uniform black that seemed to eat light.
Alren poked the goo with his 10’ pole and watched, mystified, as the end of it was consumed and converted to more goo…with the goo slowly working its way up the pole. He quickly jabbed it down and figured out that the floor was actually a 2 foot deep depression, and then let go of the pole and watched it rapidly get consumed by the slime.
While Alren was experimenting, and other characters were arguing they should simply shut the door, Lairn used his ability to sense power and discovered two objects of great power glowing within the stone box.
So they experimented, tossing some oil and a torch into the slime. They watched the flame consume the goo, drying it out and turning it to ash before guttering out. More oil and flame later and the room was clear (though smoky and sooty). Alren headed for the chest, but not before Long Tom put a rope around him to pull him back…just in case.
Holding a shield over his head, Alren made it all the way to the chest without incident. Once he reached that part of the room, he could see how the stone box appeared cemented in place with wet concrete. He also saw the lip where he stuck a spear under it to help lever it up.
Only to have the concrete lash out at him.
He dodged it’s first attack but not its second, which not only smashed him on to the ground, it also ate his armor.
Everyone started taking shots at the grey ooze that tried to absorb Alren, and quickly it lost all cohesion. They ran into the room and managed to save him. His armor was a loss and some of the slime had eaten away his helmet, and his right ear. He would need two weeks to recover.
Watching Alren go down (and being unable to help his friend) caused Lairn’s demon to take control. Dark veins began to crawl under his skin. His personality became far more aggressive and hostile.
Inside the chest they found a huge cache of gold and platinum, as well as the sources of the glow, a long chestnut staff topped by a rose carving and a scimitar in a green and red leather sheath. Surprisingly, Long Tom offered to draw the blade… a beautiful piece of steel with a greenish sheen to the metal and intricate designs worked into the metal. As he admired it, it began to speak!
“Long have I rested here, denied the chance to walk the world. Truly it is a grand thing that another wanderer has found me!”
Long Tom’s player had to suppress the urge to do a little dance, being that he was the first person to get their hands on a talking sword… 😉
Long Tom introduced himself as a Blade Weaver (his level title) and that made the sword even happier. The blade’s name was Wandering Wind, and it once served a mistress that had fell afoul of this very room. The staff was her’s as well, a staff of healing, and it told Long Tom the command word.
However, Jayna coughed and pointed out that she was here for an equal shot at treasure and she was the other priest in the group, so they handed the staff over to her.
The next room they came to they found covered in webs with three giant spiders waving their front legs in an intricate pattern. In what was a kind of hilarious display, the party slammed the door shut before the spider’s initiative came up, ruining their spells…something Long Tom realized as, thanks to the Helm of Comprehend Languages, he could hear them cursing on the other side of the door. But as the player casters were moving much slower, someone else opened the door in time to allow their spells to go off, which knocked one of the spiders out. Then Cronyan threw a Fire Burst into the room and that was pretty much the end of that.
Luckily for them, the jewelry in the room wasn’t destroyed or melted to slag.
And then the final room was just a linen closet.
They dropped wounded Alren off back with loot and mules. Then they set off again. Along the way, they ran into a group of hobgoblins in Amber livery, carrying buckets and cleaning gear. The hobgoblins stopped short and asked them if they’d smelt a fire because they (the hobgoblins) had heard there had been a fire and they needed to deal with it. Long Tom immediately launched into a lie about having smelt some smoke over there, but having no idea otherwise.
Lairn, or rather Karragos, leaned over and said, “Actually, we saw some guys go that way and head into the mists…if you hurry, you might catch them.” Long Tom tried to silence him but the wizard dodged aside. The hobgoblins split up, a small group to go deal with the smoke and fire, and the rest to look for the instigators.
The party immediately started arguing over what to do and why Lairn had screwed up the lie. Long Tom wanted Anika to sleep the elf, but she hesitated in the face of open party conflict. Finally, Jayna pointed out that, while she appreciated Lairn’s style, the hobgoblins were headed towards their gold, mules, and Alren.
So they party followed and found the hobgoblins surrounding Alren or going through the party’s gear. A sleep spell later and tah-dah, no more hobgoblin problem. At this point, Lairn began dragging them outside and ‘feeding’ them to the mist…just to see what would happen. Those gleeful murders committed, Lairn took back over, Karragos and his dark veins receding into the dark corners of his subconscious.
He returned while the other party members were having a discussion about their…’Lairn problem’. At this point, he sighed and said, “You’ve all fought and risked your lives with me, I suppose I should tell you the truth.”
He proceeded to tell them about the fact that he came from a group of tryshallan who had fled this world to another plane there to study the magic and powers of demons and blood. In order to regain some of their lost magics from the Sundering, they bound demons to leech their power, forming a symbiotic relationship with them forever after. Needless to say, this practice was frowned upon quite strongly by those tryshallan who remained in the physical world. So, really, mums the word.
Jayna and Hannah were both fascinated by this and I think Long Tom was at least mollified.
Leaving again, they went back to the door they were at right before the Hobgoblins came along. They’d been told by the same creatures that it was Lady Jeanette’s bedroom and listening at the door they could hear loud snoring. Deciding that angering a crazy sleeping wizard was a bad idea, they knocked on the door. After a moment, a strained, deep voice called out, ‘Who is it?’
The party talked through the door, a bit put out by the sound of the voice, but they were invited inside after a few moments. The bedroom was vast and filled with amenities such as a dining table, kitchen area, large fireplace and wardrobes. Standing their to greet them, however, was a large monstrous humanoid, that appeared to be some kind of massive, warped orc, easily 8 or 9 feet tall.
Dressed in a torn, silk night gown 10 sizes too small for her…it.
It introduced itself as Lady Jeanette Amber and invited them to tea…which they oddly agreed to. As the lady attempted to make tea for them, her huge hands and fingers kept crushing the delicate cups and pots, driving her ever more angry. The players quickly offered to take over making the tea and bade her to sit down. She did, and immediately crushed the chair. As she started raging again, Lairn calmed things down by saying, “Ah, I see you have taken the tryshallan custom of sitting on the floor with your guests, thank you for making me feel at home.”
The tea party followed this formula for some time, the party mollifying the increasingly wrathful creature until finally she absently clipped Long Tom with a back handed blow that sent him flying against the wall (and taking seven damage, more than enough to kill the strongest of men!). Only his skill and luck allowed him to turn aside at the last moment and roll with the impact.
Yet event this did not cause the party to go aggro on the …lady. They instead asked her if there was anything they could get her, perhaps from the rest of the castle? Something that might help make things easier? She demanded the unicorn from the garden.
“Well, I won’t be any good at that,” Long Tom muttered.
Hannah looked at Jayna and, a bit bashfully, asked her if she were a virgin. The priestess of dark joy laughed and laughed and laughed.
Still, the party agreed to try and backed out of the room before the lady flipped her lid any more. Lairn noticed a secret door as they left, but did not have time to investigate.
Once outside, Anika flipped HER lid. “Why on earth are we promising a unicorn to that…that…monster?”
No one really had a good answer for her. And then the golden mist descended and claimed them.
This was a good session, even with the character deaths. Lots of good roleplaying thanks to Lairn and his demonic familiar. I thought we might actually have some PVP for a few minutes there, but luckily that was avoided. Things are tense within the castle to say the least.