Sunday, June 30, 2024

Cleft in twain

Next session from the Flying Island adventure. Continued from here.

The rest of the party, elsewhere in the temple, had been poking around a sparse room with cloudstuff in place of floor—it felt like stepping on cotton candy. They pass time discovering where the safe spots were amid patches of cloud too insubstantial to hold weight, and otherwise pondering what their next move should be and how long to wait for Hawthorne before heading onward. Suddenly, the temple begins to shake. Streams of dust pour from the ceiling. From outside, sounds of fierce gale and a great winged beast, punctuated by whoops and shouts of frenzied tengu-men. It was decided unanimously among the party that whatever had happened, their absent comrade was to blame. 

Meanwhile, knocked on his ass but otherwise unharmed, Hawthorne the cleric felt he had done enough for the time being and decided to rejoin the party. As the temple quaked around him, he made his way back to where he initially split and stood before the passageway everyone else opted to take. It was a covered walk, exposed to the outside. Dragon sounds and angry tengu flapping past made it clear there was some risk to crossing. But luck was in his favor, and the party once more was whole. 

Cosimo Galluzzi

Traveling north, the party enters a storage/maintenance room. The chamber was secure enough that the room barely trembled, yet a flurry of stirges (wouldn't be a 1st level OSR adventure without them) nonetheless were agitated by the commotion and rushes at the PCs. A few quick and dirty combat rounds follow, during which time Gront the fighter catches not one but two of flying menaces and stuffs them in a sack. Some blood was lost but otherwise the party was fine, the living trophies a boost to their resolve. It was then that a PC noticed a porthole-style window on the far end of the room, through which all that could be seen was a giant red eye peering back. Slit pupil dilates in a moment of recognition—and then the dragon flies off. No hiding from it now; the great beast knows of the party.  

Undaunted, the PCs thoroughly search the workroom. Slyq the thief discovers a big key and three potions: stinking cloud, ooze formand liquid sword. [Three might have been excessive but I had just finished compiling a d100 list and was eager to put it to use.] Someone pockets a chisel and other stone-working tools and the group moves on.

The tallest tower of the temple lies to the east, where presumably waits the Mistral Horn, but getting there requires crossing a courtyard and climbing a staircase fully exposed to the wind, dragon, and tengu-men, and so was out of the question. Instead, players opt to descend the altar room staircase to see what more the undercroft holds. 

Darting past the stone guardian again (No time to shed tears over Berda's still-bleeding corpse) and crawling over a giant stuck fan in a stagnant circulation vent, the party finds themselves in the tomb of some kind of high priest. A grand sarcophagus covered in fine etchings sits atop a dias, flanked by two statues of armored warriors, oversized halberds gripped in menacing anticipation. 

Dear readers, believe me when I tell you this trap was given ample warning. All but a sign saying something like "the statues will swing at you if you lift the sarcophagus lid without disarming the trigger latch." Maybe I could have made the latch more obvious and threw in a corpse or two but alas I felt it fair enough as it was. 

And here is where poor Hawthorne's luck ran out: with the aid of Gront the fighter, the two PCs throw care to the wind and lift the sarcophagus' lid. The rest of the party stands by watching, deciding it best to just let their two headstrong companions do their thing. Just as the faintest glimmer of treasure could be spied within the casket, the mechanized statues click to action and swing their fearsome weapons. Saves are rolled; Gront dodges just in time to avoid the worst of the blow, earning a clean cut to the arm. But, regaining his bearing, he hears the cries of shock and dismay of the rest of the party. His deceased comrade was split in two, twain halves cleft by the now-dormant statuary.