Session 61: Back in the Labyrinth

Zombies rush the Caves of Chaos
When the ping of a mental alarm woke Yanliz, alerting him to danger approaching, he quickly woke the rest of the group.

Valeria cast light, and Philip peeked outside. Turning the corner were a band of humanoids, most likely more zombies based on their moans and shuffling gait, but larger than the goblins.

Philip slammed the door closed and locked it, while Lawrence retreated to the back of the room and everyone else began donning their armor

There was a loud 'boom' as the door began to shake with repeated slams against it.

Soon after Valeria and Yanliz had donned their leather armor, the door came crashing down, and fell flat on the floor. The red-skinned zombies came shuffling in.

Philip slammed his staff into the first zombie, a particularly large one, and followed up with a stiff kick in its legs. Yanliz, ready with his bow, cast hunter's mark on another large one, in the hallway, and sunk an arrow into its head, making it stagger and wobble. Prynhawn cast searing smite and sliced the first zombie in half.

"In the name of benevolent Tymora," Vernim cried out, displaying the disc of Lady Luck prominently as he summoned the radiance of the dawn, "vile abominations, begone from this world and be at peace!"

A dozen zombies moaned in agony at the burning radiance, and the one Yanliz had hit fell. Jess sunk an arrow into the second zombie. Brother Martin cast bless on Yanliz, Prynhawn, and Philip. Lawrence engaged the zombies, and cast burning hands, angling himself so he could catch three of the zombies, without catching his companions in the blast of flames. The zombie Jess had hit fell in the flames. Valeria cast faerie fire on the hallway, and five of the zombies were outlined in a violet glow.

Philip ducked under a zombie's swing, and another's, and yanked his leg away from one that had fallen, but still stirred. Two zombies clawed at Prynhawn's naked flesh. Vernim cast warding flare at a zombie that swung at him, but it still raked his skin. Prynhawn tried to deflect another with his shield, but it's rotted claws sunk into the cleric, as another set of claws ripped into his leg. Lawrence evaded a zombie's fist, but was caught by one on the floor.

Philip dropped a burned zombie with a bonk from his staff, and kicked a glowing zombie twice in the legs until it fell, before rolling back into the room. Yanliz dropped a glowing zombie that had just entered the room, with his bow. Prynhawn cut down another glowing zombie. With his warhammer, Vernim smashed the skull of the one grabbing at his leg. The zombie that had clawed Prynhawn fell when Jess' arrow sunk into its chest. Brother Martin cast spiritual weapon and crushed a glowing zombie. Lawrence cast green flame blade, but missed with his staff. Valeria drew her longsword and stabbed the glowing zombie that Vernim had tried to ward away.

With the halfling gone, two zombies swung at Valeria, but she evaded them both, as well as a third that had just squeezed through the doorway. Prynhawn pulled away from one on the floor, blocked another with his shield, but was clawed by a third. Vernim blocked two with his shield, and Lawrence evaded two others.

Philip rolled into the melee, popping up in front of Vernim, dropping one of his attackers with his staff and kicking another's legs out from under it. Yanliz cast hunter's mark on another big one, still in the hall, and wobbled it with an arrow in the head. Prynhawn slashed into one of his attackers. Vernim ran back, dropped his warhammer and shield, aimed his crossbow, and pinned one at Valeria's feet to the ground. Jess did the same to another at Valeria's feet. Brother Martin missed a big teetering one in the back with his spiritual weapon, and dropped one of Prynhawn's attackers with his mace. Lawrence cast green flame blade and hit one of his attacker's with his staff, causing green flames to leap to his other attacker.

"Yanliz, Yanliz, with his arrows that whiz. Yanliz, Yanliz, that uncanny accuracy of his. Yanliz, Yanliz, it's so rare that he should miss. Yanliz, Yanliz, almost unfair, the hits he gives," Valeria sang as she stabbed the one that had just entered the room, and avoided another.

Prynhawn blocked a zombie with his shield, pulled his leg away from another on the ground, deflected one that was swinging at Lawrence, and sidestepped a large one, but was punched in the face by one from behind. Two others slammed Lawrence from the right and left. Valeria was struck by the one she had stabbed. Brother Martin knocked one aside with his shield.

Philip popped up in front of Lawrence and smashed his staff into one of his attacker's heads, dropping it with a kick before back-kicking another behind him. Inspired, Yanliz landed an arrow deep into the chest of the large one facing Prynhawn, before the paladin cut it down with his sword. Vernim cast healing word on Lawrence, before hitting another of Prynhawn's attackers with a crossbow bolt. Valeria's attacker toppled over, being hit in the neck by Jess' arrow. Brother Martin dropped his wobbly attacker with his mace, and Prynhawn's attacker that Brother Martin had hit with his spiritual weapon. Lawrence cast green flame blade, but missed his attacker. Valeria cast cure wounds on Lawrence, avoiding a nearby zombie.

A zombie punched Prynhawn in the face, and another slammed him in the shoulder. Two tried to slam Lawrence, but he shrugged them off. Another zombie tried in vain to grab Prynhawn's leg as it rose.

Philip dropped one of Lawrence's attackers with his staff and kicked one of Prynhawn's attackers. Yanliz cast hunter's mark on Prynhawn's large attacker and dropped it with an arrow between its eyes. Prynhawn dropped another of his attackers. Vernim cast healing word on Prynhawn, and dropped another of his attackers with a crossbow bolt. Jess nailed one of Lawrence's attackers to the wall. Brother Martin dropped Lawrence's other attacker with his spiritual weapon and Prynhawn's last attacker with his mace. Lawrence cast green flame blade, but missed Valeria's attacker, as did Valeria, and it punched her in the face. Another slammed Prynhawn.

Philip slammed one with his staff, and kicked the other in the neck, finishing both of them.

Hobgoblin zombies lay scattered all around them. They hacked the heads off and piled them on top of the goblin zombies in the alcove in the hall.

Vernim cast cure wounds on Prynhawn, and did their best to resume their sleep with the door lying on the floor. When Philip woke, he let the rest of the group sleep longer while he prepared their breakfast.

While they were eating, Brother Martin suggested they bring Duranki back to the keep, but they ultimately agreed to keep him another day, while they continued exploring.

After checking on Duranki and feeding him breakfast, they returned to the labyrinth.

They decided to stick to the left wall again, retracing their previous path, on and on through the winding and sloping passages. Straight, left, left, straight, left, left, up, straight, down, dead-end, up, down, right, up, left, dead-end, left, past where they fought the first Minotaur, past Bethany's chamber, left, left, left, straight, dead-end with a secret door on the wall, left, left, left, straight, straight, left, left, left, twists and turns, dead-end, twists and turns, left, left, dead-end, left, left, dead-end, straight, straight, left, up, down, straight, left, left, dead-end, left, left, left, dead-end with a secret door in the wall, left, straight, dead-end, left, past where they fought the kobolds, left, up, straight, straight, down, the dead-end with the secret door on the ceiling where they had rested, down, up, left, dead-end, left, left, dead-end, left, up, left, past where they fought the second Minotaur, but it was gone. Straight, past the kobolds, straight, down, straight, straight, left, dead-end with a skeleton, left, left, a dead-end with a secret door in the wall that they had not found before, left, down, up, left, dead-end, left, down, left, left, dead-end, down, up, left, up, straight, left, and straight.

The winding passage opened into a chamber carved from the rock, about thirty feet across and some twenty feet wide with a boulder in the center. Several other passages led into and out of this chamber, which was otherwise empty, except for the dead Minotaur. They noticed that the greataxe was gone.

Recognizing the room as the one where they had fought the third Minotaur and almost gotten lost, they were hesitant to enter. Vernim waited outside in the tunnel. Everyone saw five passages in total, except for Valeria who saw six, and Philip who saw four.

Vernim suggested that the dust from the boulder was probably messing with their brains.

Brother Martin suggested they take the left passage and keep sticking to the left wall, but they spent some time trying to determine how many passages there were.

Philip, Lawrence, Jess, Prynhawn, and Vernim stood in the entrance to the passages.

Valeria explained that she saw Jess in two opposite passages, whenever she turned to look at them, she was there. She had Yanliz hold Jess' hand, and she saw both of them in both passages, simultaneously whichever she turned to examine.

Jess asked Valeria to close her eyes and listen, but Jess' voice echoed from all around.

They gave up trying to figure out how many passages there were and took the leftmost passage, but it ended in a dead-end after thirty feet. They took the next passage to the left.

Following the left wall, they soon found themselves back in a familiar loop that took them near to where they fought the second Minotaur. Since they were going the other direction than when they previously traversed the loop, they soon left the familiar passages, but heard a familiar sound from behind them in a narrow passage.
Minotaur in the Caves of Chaos Labyrinth
From behind them a large Minotaur was charging towards Yanliz, but before it could reach him, Philip rolled past his companions, charging the Minotaur with his staff like a lance. The staff hit the beast hard in the torso, but it was Philip who was bounced backwards, and just barely managed to rise in time to land two kicks to the beast's legs as it continued to charge past him. Lawrence hit the beast with three blasts from a scorching ray. Yanliz, with his longbow ready, sunk an arrow square in its torso. Jess hit it in the leg.

The Minotaur crashed into Yanliz, who was trying to avoid the brunt of the blow, but was still struck hard by its horns, and thrown to the ground.

"The one who kills with many strikes, Philip, Philip! When evil sees him, it says 'yikes!' Philip, Philip! With staff and kicks, he defeats his foes. Philip, Philip! It helps that he has stinky toes! Philip, Philip!" Valeria sang.

Prynhawn tried to help, but could not get past his companions. Vernim hit the beast with a crossbow bolt and cast healing word on Yanliz. Brother Martin hit the beast with a tiny sacred flame.

"ROAR!" they heard, but it was coming from behind Prynhawn — a second Minotaur, larger than the first!
Minotaur charges in the Caves of Chaos Labyrinth
Inspired, Philip ran up its back, and battered it with strikes until it fell, and kept running towards the new threat.

Lawrence cast another scorching ray, hitting the second Minotaur with two blasts. Yanliz hit it square, shooting through his companions. Jess sunk an arrow into its leg.

"Prynhawn is our savior. Prynhawn the glorious knight. He who causes blood and gore, has come to win the fight!" Valeria sang.

Inspired, Prynhawn braced himself as the Minotaur's horns crashed into him, but as he fell he stabbed the beast in the chest. Vernim cast healing word on Prynhawn, and shot at the beast. His bolt bounced off the ceiling and landed in the beast's broad shoulder. Vernim cast healing word on Prynhawn.

Yanliz caught it with another arrow, but Jess missed. Valeria nicked it with an eldritch blast. Philip engaged the Minotaur with his staff, but it batted the stick away with its greataxe. The halfling stomped on its toe before retreating beyond it. Lawrence cast another scorching ray, hitting the second Minotaur with two blasts.

The Minotaur reached over Prynhawn and swung its greataxe hard into Valeria. Prynhawn rose, casting thunderous smite, and, with a BOOM, cut off the beast's head.

Jess cut off the Minotaur's horns and stuffed them in her pack.

Vernim searched the body, but found nothing of value other than its greataxe.

Lawrence blasted it repeatedly with fire bolts, and they destroyed the Minotaurs' greataxes.

They continued through the twisting passages for a short while, encountering two dead-ends, before looping back into the chamber with many passages.

They took the next passage to the left, which was very narrow and ended in a dead-end after sixty feet.

They took the next passage to the left, continuing through many twisting passages that rose and fell. They encountered three dead-ends, in one of which they found an abandoned greataxe.

Eventually the passage opened up into a lavishly furnished thirty by twenty-foot room dominated by a simple, but well-carved, divan that could double as a bed, with an elegant table beside it bearing a goblet, an unlit lamp, and a checkered game board with many small stones as markers. A sumptuously soft many-colored rug covered the floor. A brazier glowed faintly, providing welcome warmth from the chill of the labyrinth. A chest was pushed back against one wall. A shrouded figure wrapped in a cloak or blanket lay stretched out on the couch — apparently sleeping.

"Who's there?" the figure called out softly, stirring as they entered.

"Who are you?" Valeria asked.

"I'm Sapphira," the shrouded lady replied, rising up slightly from the divan. "Are you adventurers?"

"Yes," Valeria replied.

"Are you?" Vernim challenged.

"No," Sapphira replied. "I don't know how to get out of this place. Can you help me?"

"How did you get here?" Valeria asked.

"I wandered in here, looking for shelter," Sapphira explained, "and I was never able to find my way out."

"Shelter from the elements?" Valeria asked. "How did you sustain yourself in here? How did you get all this stuff in here?"

"Yes," Sapphira clarified. "I find food and wine left for me in the passages. I assume the Minotaur brings it."

"You know the Minotaur?" Pynhawn asked.

"There's wine left in the passages?" Philip inquired. "Huh! That's cool, I guess."

"Yes," Sapphira explained. "Big bull-headed creatures with huge horns and a big axe!"

"It didn't kill you?" Pynhawn wondered aloud.

"No," Sapphira explained. "It kept me prisoner. I've been here for months."

"Do you know for what?" Pynhawn asked. "For what reason?"

"I don't know why," Sapphira shuddered, "but I've stories of Minotaurs luring young women into their maze, and keeping them prisoner. Can you help me get out?"

"Yes," Valeria replied. "But what circumstances were you in that led you to seek shelter in the cave?"

"I'm the victim of a horrible curse," Sapphira explained, sitting up with her face still concealed behind her shroud, "and I live in isolation."

"Oh, really?" Yanliz said, intrigued.

"What kind of curse?" Valeria inquired.

"I don't know," Sapphira answered, "but...I don't like living with other people."

"That's it?" Valeria replied. "If it's something physical, as you can see, we're not exactly the prettiest bunch ourselves."

"I guess," Sapphira acknowledged, rising from the divan, "but I'm hideous. I'm even more hideous than him." She pointed at Yanliz. "But you are a fitting group of rescuers. So will you help me get out of here?"

"Yes, most of us don't exactly fit in very well," Valeria mentioned, "And yes, of course we will. Come with us."

"What god do you pray to?" Yanliz questioned.

"I don't pray to any god!" Sapphira snapped. "No god that would leave me in this condition is worthy of my prayers."

"Valeria," Prynhawn suggested in orcish, "maybe we should check her for weapons."

"Just in case," Valeria asked, "do you mind if we check you for weapons?"

"Look, I don't have any weapons," Sapphira declared, lifting up her robes, revealing the waist of a human female body. My weapons are over there. I don't have anything on me." She pointed to a longbow and quiver next to a sheathed shortsword.

"Can we search you anyway?" Valeria asked.

"Okay," Sapphira agreed. "You do it." She pointed to Valeria.

Valeria patted her down, but did not find any weapons, or get a glimpse under her hood.

"Sorry for suspecting you," Prynhawn apologized. "Just in case."

"I understand," Sapphira acknowledged.

"We've just been betrayed so many times," Vernim added.

"So can we get out of here, before the Minotaur returns?" Sapphira prodded.

Valeria grabbed Sapphira's weapons, and they left, following the right wall.

With Sapphira surrounded by them, they retraced their steps through the passages, turning around at each dead-end.

"What happened to you?" Sapphira asked, turning to Yanliz.

"I got burned when my farm got invaded," Yanliz explained.

"That sounds horrible!" Sapphira replied. She continued to make conversation with Yanliz. "You've also been cursed by the gods. Damn those gods! How do they let these things happen!"

"I have a question for you, Sapphira," Vernim cut in. "Would you consider yourself, um, I don't know if this is the right word — I picked this up somewhere very long ago — an atheist, I guess? Do you believe that there are — like, do you not believe, um, how would I put this? Do you believe that there are no gods, but gods exist?"

Sapphira's lips curled into a scowl, and she turned from Vernim back to Yanliz. "What about you, hooded one?"

"I, uh, I'm, I'm Yanliz," Yanliz stammered.

"What are your thoughts on these matters?" Sapphira asked, inching closer to him. "Have the gods ever redeemed themselves in your eyes, after your affliction?"

"Um...uh...I mean, I've had my share of involvement with higher beings than myself," Yanliz replied, clumsily.

"Yeah," Sapphira agreed, adding, "these things just never seem to turn out well in my experience."

Vernim tried again to make conversation, mostly small talk, but it was quickly clear by her terse replies and body movement that Sapphira was more interested in what little Yanliz had to say.

After they had reversed course a number of times, Sapphira abruptly asked "Wait, what are you doing? This isn't the way out? Are you lost?"

"No," Valeria assured her. "We know our way back, but we have a roundabout way of getting there."

Frustrated, she kept stalling and looking towards Yanliz, as if for answers.

"Yanliz, why don't we just switch places," Lawrence suggested.

"Uh, I don't want to mess with our marching order," Yanliz answered. "Unless you want to get rammed by a Minotaur."

Vernim volunteered to switch places with Yanliz, explaining that he was better armored anyway.

Sapphira continued to make conversation with Yanliz, periodically questioning whether they were lost when they would wind up in a dead-end. "I hope we don't run into the Minotaur."

"I know," Yanliz assured her they were on track. "We took such a long route, Prynhawn. We could have skipped these dead-ends."

"I know," Prynhawn acknowledged. "But, you know, we've got to follow the system."

"Wait a second!" Sapphira eventually demanded. "My chamber is right there! What are you doing?"

"Yes," Prynhawn acknowledged. "That's expected."

"Why did we do that?" Sapphira accused. "I thought you were going to help me get out of here! Are you trying to trick me?"

"We're just being safe, so we don't get lost," Yanliz continued to assure her.

"Being safe!" Sapphira questioned. "I thought you knew your way out of here!"

"We do," the group insisted, and she relented, not having any better options.

After returning to the place where they had fought the second Minotaur a second time, they knew they still had quite a ways to go...

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