Session 14: Guardians of the Forge

Partial Wave Echo Cavern
After finishing off ten more ghouls in the great cavern, the group dismembered the undead bodies and argued about what to do next.

Turenim tried to tend to everyone's wounds, but was unable to bandage anyone, because his healer's kits were destroyed by the fireball.

Eventually the group went back to the storeroom, where Lee cast alarm. Atilius cast detect magic as a ritual, but did not detect anything unexpected. The group rested for an hour, uninterrupted.

Refreshed, the group decided to explore the fungi cavern from the southern entrance. After much consideration they abandoned this approach as too dangerous and unnecessary, and decided they should face the flaming skull now and get it over with.

Back in the great cavern the group decided to split up, with Turenim, Atilius, Pippin, and Snowg sneaking in from the south and Lee, Moula, Albrecht, and Julious sneaking in from the west. They agreed that Atilius' fire bolt would be the trigger to attack. Turenim cast light on Lee's hand-axe.

Atilius looked into the room and saw a dim light coming from the northwest, but did not see the flaming skull. Slowly Turenim and Atilius advanced into the room.

Lee looked into the room and saw a dim light coming from the southeast. Albrecht advanced into the room and Lee noticed another light coming from the northeast and quickly pulled Albrecht back and shuttered his light.

Atilius saw the light get briefly dimmer, and then they all saw the flame skull rise from the depths on the channel to the cavern's ceiling. Albrecht moved closer to the flaming skull and pricked his hand with his rapier and cast bane at the flaming skull. The flaming skull cast blur and it began to waver and shift before the group's eyes. Atilius hit the flaming skull with a fire bolt, but the flames had no effect. He moved back into the south corridor with Pippin. Lee pulled out Talon and began cutting off the heads of the zombies laying on the floor. Turenim cast toll of the dead, but it had no effect on the flaming skull. Moula moved up to the channel and threw a dart, pricking the flaming skull. Julious summoned the spectral appearance of the hawk spirit totem, allowing his companions to focus on the blurred skull.

Albrecht shouted "I see your your complexion resembles Myrkul himself!" with vicious mockery, causing its jaw to drop. Undeterred, the flaming skull cast fireball in the southern corridor. Pippin managed to leap out of the corridor into the great cavern, avoiding most of the flames, but Turenim and Atilius fell down, scorched and blackened. Fearing the worst for Pippin, Lee cast hunter's mark on the flaming skull and shot his crossbow, nicking the skull. Moula threw a dart, but missed. Julious climbed between the blast furnace and the mechanical bellows, towards the southern corridor.

Albrecht cast healing word at Turenim, reviving him. Pippin came back into the smelter's cavern, calling out to the flaming skull and hitting it square with his short bow. Then he dashed back into the corridor as the flaming skull spun in the air and lost concentration on its blur. The flaming skull shot its fire ray at Lee, but Lee was able to duck behind the bellows. Moula nicked it again with another dart. Julious reached Turenim and cast cure wounds.

Albrecht shouted "You suck!" with vicious mockery, but the flaming skull ignored him. Lee shot at the skull with his crossbow, and even though the flaming skull cast shield, the arrow chipped away at it. Pippin came back into the smelter's cavern, called out to the flaming skull, shot his short bow again, and dashed back into the corridor. The shot went wide, but Pippin was lucky, as the skull hovered right into the arrow. Turenim cast spare the dying and healing word on Atilius, reviving him. The flaming skull shot its fire ray at Moula, but she dodged it. Then it fired it again, searing her slightly. Atilius cast ray of frost at the skull, causing it to shudder slightly, and slow. Lee nicked the skull again with a bolt from his crossbow.

Turenim moved up and brandished his holy symbol and channeling his divinity, turned it, forcing it to retreat into the northeast corner!

Turenim cast cure wounds on himself while the group maneuvered into strategic positions around the flaming skull. Atilius cast witch bolt at the turned flaming skull electrocuting it with a beam of crackling blue energy. With the immediate threat eliminated, Lee continued to behead the zombie bodies. Turenim cast toll of the dead on the flaming skull. Moula jumped across the channel.

Atilius continued to electrocute the fallen skull. When he was done, Moula smashed it into pieces with her staff. Albrecht and Pippin helped Lee behead the zombie bodies.

When they were satisfied that they had done enough damage to the crushed skull fragments, Moula and Pippin put all the remains into a pouch. Then everyone dropped down into the channel and headed east into the booming water cavern and sprinkled the remains of the skull into the water below.

From there the group headed down the corridor to the northwest. The passageway narrowed until it was barely four feet high. It was obstructed by rounded boulders and pebbles. Squeezing through they found themselves on the edge of a wide rift that filled the eastern half of a large cavern. At the bottom of the twenty foot rift, a five foot wide stream flowed north. The cavern extended farther than they could see with their limited light.

Turenim realized that Snowg was missing and argued that they needed to go back and find him. So they doubled back past the booming water cavern and to the smelter's cavern, towards the great cavern. When they got to the corridor they found him.

"Turi, there you are!" squealed Snowg, stepping out of the corridor into the smelter's cavern.

"Snowg we were looking for you this whole time!" Pippin lied. "We're so glad we found you!"

"Where did you go?" Turenim asked. "What happened?"

"What happened to you?" Snowg responded. "I hid under the table."

"We killed the flaming skull," Turenim answered. "For good this time."

"You did?!?" Snowg replied. "Excellent! That's great!"

"I was afraid you all died in that fireball." Snowg cried. "What are we going to do now?"

Lacking any clear direction, the group began a long argument about where to head next. Eventually they decided to go back to the starry cavern and explore the single door at the northern end.  The door was stuck, but Pippin managed to push it open.

Turenim shined his light inside where they saw a ransacked and burned workplace. Rising from the walls of the room were eight bugbear zombies. Everyone moved back while Julious immediately stepped into the center of room and cast thunderwave, knocking the two closest bugbears back down to the floor. Julious quickly backed out of the room and Albrecht took his place and cast his own thunderwave, knocking down two more. Albrecht then backed out and Atilius took his place and cast burning hands, killing the closest two bugbear zombies, and searing the four behind them. Atilius backed out of the room. Pippin ran into the room, stabbed the closest moving bugbear zombie, and dashed back out of the room. Lee shot an arrow into the room, but missed. Turenim cast toll of the dead on another bugbear zombie, but it had no effect. Moula stepped into the room, whacked a different bugbear twice with her staff, and dashed out of the room.

Julious stepped into the room alone and cast thunderwave again, killing four of them. The two remaining bugbear zombies swung their paws at Julious, pinning him to the wall. Albrecht ran into the room and stabbed at one of them with has rapier, but could not pierce its hide. Pippin dashed in, stabbed one with his short sword, and dashed out. Atilius threw a fire bolt, killing the one pinning Julious. Lee drew Talon and ran in boldly, but could not penetrate the thick hide. Turenim cast toll of the dead on the last bugbear zombie, draining its life force. Moula ran in and smacked the last bugbear zombie twice, but it was still up.

Julious tried to hit it with produce flame, but the bugbear zombie dived out of the way, falling down in the process. Albrecht encouraged Lee with his bardic inspiration. Pippin dashed in and stabbed it on the ground, ripping its guts out.

As the group began examining the room, one of the bugbear zombies rose up again. Still inspired, Lee swing mightily at it, but swung wide. Moula stepped up to Lee's side and swung her staff at the last bugbear zombie, knocking it against the wall, then she followed up with a kick that dropped it, and finally she stuck her staff through its head, killing it for good and showing Lee how it's done.

Pippin and Julious cut the heads off the bugbear zombies. Atilius took out his spellbook and cast detect magic as a ritual. He did not detect any unexpected magic.

They decided to go through the door on the southern wall of the room. Pippin tried the door and found that it was stuck. Pushing with all his might, he was able to open it. They entered a large, badly damaged workshop with scorched worktables taking up two corners of the room. The plaster had been burned off the masonry walls. In the middle of the room, a stone pedestal held a small brazier in which an eerie green flame danced and crackled. The brazier and its pedestal appeared to have been untouched by the forces that destroyed this area. Atilius clearly detected magic in the room, stemming from the brazier, and determined that this must be the forge of spells!
Behind the brazier of green flame, a spherical creature measuring roughly four feet in diameter floated. Four eye-stalks protruded from its central mass, two on each side. In the center of the body was a large eye. They all heard "Hello," from a burbling voice inside their heads.

"Who are you?" Lee asked the spectator.

"Who are you?" They all heard in their heads in reply. "You're alive!"

"Do you know us?" Lee asked?

"No," they all heard in their heads. "Do you know me?"

"No." Lee replied. "Introduce yourself."

"I am the guardian of the forge of spells," they all heard in their heads.

"Nice to meet you," Pippin replied. "I'm Pippin Thomas. I'm ten."

"We are here to rescue the forge of spells," Turenim announced, "from enemies we believe are trying to disturb it. Have you heard..."

"I am the guardian!" they all heard in their heads.

"What kind of creature are you?" Turenim asked.

"I am the guardian!" they all heard in their heads.

"I have a question for you," Lee began. "This might be a little rude, but I need to ask. How can we trust you to be the one who is protecting the forge of spells?"

"You can't trust me!" they all heard in their heads.

"I can't?" Lee responded.

"You cannot trust me!" they all heard in their heads.

Why?" Lee asked.

"Because I am the guardian!" they all heard in their heads.

"Why can't the guardian be trusted?" Lee tried to reason.

"You cannot trust me!" they all heard in their heads.

"Can you trust me?" Lee asked.

"I do not trust you!" they all heard in their heads.

"Why don't you trust me?" Lee asked.

"Because I am the guardian!" they all heard in their heads.

"When did you get here?" Turenim asked.

"I am the guardian!" they all heard in their heads. "I have always been here!"

"Forever?" Atilius asked. "Since the dawn of time?"

"I have always been here, guarding the forge of spells," they all heard in their heads.

"From who?" Turenim asked.

"From everyone," they all heard in their heads.

"Are we allowed to touch the forge..." Lee started.

"NO!" they all heard in their heads. "Do not touch the forge!"

"Can I use the forge of spells?" Lee asked.

"No!" they all heard in their heads.

"Why not," Lee asked.

"Because I am the guardian!" they all heard in their heads.

"Why are you the guardian?" Turenim asked.

"I am the guardian!" they all heard in their heads. "I am the guardian! I am the guardian!"
The spectator wagged its tongue and one of the eye-stalks turned to Lee and his muscles locked up and he found himself paralyzed.

Convinced that this being was evil, Turenim cast toll of the dead on it, draining a little of its life energy. Sensing the battle had commenced, Moula swung her staff, whacking the aberration twice, and followed up with a spinning kick, causing it to spin slightly. Julious threw produce flame at it, for little effect.

When it stopped spinning, one of the eye stalks focused on Moula and she fled the room in fear. Another eye-stalk focused on Turenim, and his muscles locked up and he found himself paralyzed. Then it bit Turenim, nibbling at him.

Albrecht stabbed it under its central eye with his rapier and psychic blade. Pippin rushed forward stabbing it with each of his short swords. Atilius hit it with a fire bolt.

Almost at the smelter's cavern, Moula regained her senses and made her way back outside the forge room.

An eye-stalk looked at Pippin and then at Albrecht. Both of them expected to be paralyzed, but paralysis never came. The spectator continued to nibble at Turenim. Confused by the powers of the spectator's eye-stalks, Albrecht stabbed Pippin, while Pippin stabbed Julious. Atilius hit it with three magic missiles. Moula ran back into the room and whacked the aberration against  the wall, and again as it bounced back, and followed up with a tornado kick that sent it crashing into the floor where it stopped moving, its tongue still wagging out of its mouth. As soon as it dropped, Lee and Turenim regained their freedom of movement and Albrecht and Pippin were able to clear their minds.

Once they were satisfied that the spectator was dead and they were relatively safe, Lee pulled out Talon and dipped it into the forge, and it began to glow. Pippin, Turenim, Moula, Albrecht, Julious, Lee, and Atilius dipped the rest of their weaponsand many of their itemsinto the forge, and all of which began to glow slightly. Atilius detected magic on all of the items. Pippin dipped his boots of springing and striding in the forge. Testing them, he banged his head on the ceiling.

Investigating the room, Turenim found a mace and a breastplate on the worktable in the southeast corner of the room. The head of the mace was shaped like a sunburst and made of solid brass. On its hilt was the symbol of Turenim's god. When he grabbed it, the mace began to glow as bright as a torch. They recognized this as Lightbringer, from the dwarvish tome. Turenim claimed the mace. The breastplate had a gold dragon motif worked into its design. Lee claimed the Dragonguard breastplate.

Lee cast alarm in the forge room and the group headed towards the room on the lower precipice, to the south.

They saw that the doors were cracked and their iron hinges partially melted, but Pippin manged to shake them loose and open the door.

The dust, ash, fire blackened walls, and heaps of debris beneath the sagging ceiling of this room indicated that it was damaged by a destructive blast. The furnishings—tables, chairs, bookshelves, beds—were charred or splintered, but otherwise well preserved. A scorched iron chest stood near the foot of one of the beds.

Moula rushed in front as soon as the door was opened and everyone followed to examine the room.

As soon as they entered an incorporeal form with glowing red eyes and robed in darkness rose from the ground. In grave whispers in spoke, "Your presence is offensive to me, your life forfeit. My treasures are mine alone, not yours to plunder!"

Mormesk the wraith
"Who are you?" Turenim asked.

"I am Mormesk," it replied. "You must leave."

"Do you server the forces of good?" Turenim asked.

"I server my own good." the wraith replied. "Why are you here?"

"We are trying to find The Black Spider," Lee answered. "Do you know of The Black Spider?"

"No!" it whispered.

"If we leave you, will you leave us in peace?" Lee asked.

"Yes." it replied.

"Why are you here?" Pippin asked.

"Why are you here?" it replied. "Don't play with me child."

"Can we check in that door?" Lee asked, pointing to the door on the far side of the south wall.

"No." it whispered in reply.

"Why not?" Lee responded. "Because you said so?"

"This is my home and your presence is offensive to me," the wraith declared.

"You offend me," Lee replied.

It swooped towards Lee. Pippin dashed at it and stuck his two glowing swords through its incorporeal form, causing it to shudder. Atilius threw a fire bolt at it, but the wraith was moving too fast. It flew through Lee, draining some of the old ranger's life force. Albrecht thrust his glowing rapier into the spectral figure. Moula swung her glowing staff through it twice and it disappeared through the wall.

The group began to examine the chest when Atilius saw it appear again, flying through the wall, and hurled three scorching rays of fire at it. It flew through Lee again, draining more of his life force. Turenim swung Lightbringer at it, hurting it with the mace's radiance, before it could escape again through the wall.

Pippin moved to open the chest, but everyone else was on guard, watching the walls. Pippin opened the chest and saw it filled with coins.

The wraith flew back in through the wall and Moula, waiting for it, swung her glowing staff through it. The wraith flew through Turenim, draining his life force and causing him to fall. Albrecht cast healing word on Turenim.

Mormesk disappeared again, through the wall, howling "No, do not take my treasure. That treasure is mine. You are formidable. Why do you battle with me. Why don't you battle with the fiend next door?"

"We already killed it," replied Lee. "Are you going to come out and fight?"

"Yes!" It answered, and flew back into the room, trying in vain to grab its pipe from the chest. Albrecht was waiting and swung his glowing rapier through it. Then Moula through a flurry of blows at it, and it disappeared in thin air.

Victorious, they grabbed the chest, and brought it back to the forge room to rest and recover.

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