Author Topic: Session 09 - The Assault on the Shrine  (Read 1938 times)

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Session 09 - The Assault on the Shrine
« on: October 19, 2006, 09:55:07 PM »
Session 09 - The Assault on the Shrine

After the incident with Katharana and her subsequent disappearance, the group wisely relocated to a different inn. During the first night there, the brothers sat in prayer and meditation. Ugita went to his god in prayer and humbly asked for guidance.

In response to his prayers and spells, the room darkened as shadows deepened. From the darkest corner of the room, an apparition arose from the shadows to stand before the party. It appeared as a featureless humanoid composed only of darkness. The legs and feet seem to melt into shadow.
He spoke…

The Lord of Death has heard your prayer
Of glories such that you would dare
A sacrifice to save the lives
Of those held dreaming in the lair

Your courage crafts a daring deed
Achieved if you my warnings heed
Think not fools of those who rule
With stealth and might, you may succeed

Seek the grimoire Sargran's Nine
Whose spell filled pages rule the Shrine
With gifted stone evoke a tone
And mage wrought runic glyphs align

Cast out your learned mystic might
Embrace the flow and bathe in light
With spell in mind to chains unbind
Friend and foe will join the fight

Beware the mist that wisdom maims
Beware the one and ten ordained
Should mortals fall within this hall
The prison without walls will claim

With that, he melted back into the shadows…

Valkov came to the party to tell them what had happened to Katharana. He was surprised to find that they already knew. But he was able to fill in the details. While he was there, he gave them one important piece of information. He knew of a secret entrance that led to the shaft that was between the Temple and the Shrine of Lost Souls. This great vertical shaft passed through 3 levels. On level 17, there was a secret entrance, a stone block fitted into the wall which could be pulled out. It had been created when the shaft was built, years ago, by a Kitaran spy who was in the Citadel at the time. It had never been used, but the Kitaran spy network new it would come in handy one day. Today was that day.

Even though they had just lost a member of their party, the heroes knew they had to get on with the mission. And now that Katharana was dead, and in the hands of the enemy, time was critical. At any time they might use magic to “speak with dead” or something else that might allow them to learn about the party and compromise the mission.

The party sat and discussed the cryptic riddle that the shadowy apparition had given them. After much discussion they concluded that they had most of it deciphered. They knew that Sargran was a great mage who had worked for Duthelm. It was Sargran who had originally built the Shrine of Lost Souls and before he died, he had poured all of his knowledge into nine huge spellbooks. The ninth book was rumored to hold all the magical spells involved with the construction of the Shrine of Lost Souls. It was believed to be in the Shrine chamber itself. As for the gifted stone, the party realized that this was the strange stone that Kramtha had had in his leather satchel. They concluded that it must be some sort of key to the Shrine and that is why Kramtha had given his life smuggling it out of the Citadel. As for the “runic glyphs” that must be aligned, it must be some sort of spell on the Shrine. Ugita would have to decipher that when he was actually standing before the Shrine.

Ugita believed that in order to control the shrine, he would have to “cast out” his “learned mystic might”, in other words, empty his mind of spells. And then “embrace the flow and bath in light” meant he would have to touch the energy stream rising from the Shrine and take that power into him, becoming one with the power of the Shrine, as it were. He would then have to cast the spell (from Sargran’s spellbook) that would release the prisoners from the Shrine. And they would help fight with the heroes. The “mist that maims” refers to the strange grayish mist which is said to fill the Shrine chamber. The party didn’t know what the mist did, but they believed that it would sap their strength from them. The “one and ten ordained” refer to Deth, the Keeper of the Shrine, and his minions, ten undead creatures. The last line of the riddle was a rather ominous warning… anyone who dies in the Shrine chamber will be claimed by the Shrine, their soul likely sucked up into one of the soul stones in the Shrine.

The party snuck into the Citadel. With a combination of magic and stealth, the characters made they were to Level 17. Valkov knew only that the entrance was in one of the storage chambers on that floor, but did not know which one. The third storage room that they checked had a giant rat that leapt out. They quickly killed it. They searched the room and found the stone that Valkov had described. Grimnoth slowly pulled the huge block of stone from the wall and put it on the ground. There was a short tunnel piercing the thick walls of the shaft. They could see the flowing energy and hearing the roar of power channeling through it.  Crawling through the short tunnel, they emerged in the middle of the huge vertical shaft. High above them was the Temple of the Shattered Skull and the Dimension Gate. They could make out the massive stone thing slowly turning around the mouth of the shaft. Far below them, they could see the Shrine of Lost Souls. A thin ribbon of glowing energy was rising from the Shrine and traveling up the shaft to the Temple above. The characters focused their attention on the Shrine below them. They climbed down to the chamber below and then dropped down onto the floor.

Grimnoth stayed up above to guard the secret entrance and ensure that the party has a means of escape.

The chamber was circular with twelve alcoves in the wall, set at regular intervals. The Shrine was a large stone structure consisting of one central stone spire and four radial stone spires. The central spire of the Shrine was alit with the hundred soul stones in which the prisoners of the Shrine were held. The life energy glowed fiercely within each stone and energies from them drifted out of the stones, merging with other strands of energy until all combined to float up through the shaft in a continuous ribbon of energy.

The party had only a few moments to survey the room. Ugita went straight to the Shrine and began working on decoding the spells in the large spellbook that sat on a pedestal before it. This was the book of the Shrine, the Ninth Book of Sargran, written by the legendary mage Sargran. It was he who had created the Shrine long ago. And it was in this book that the key to unlocking it lay. Ugita was determined to free as many prisoners from the Shrine as they could as well as retrieve the Avisarr.

Next to the book were a set of stone dials which runic glyphs inscribed around the perimeter. There was also a large depression in the stone shaped like a plus sign. Ugita realized that the depression fit the stone key that they had exactly.

The Guardians of the Shrine emerged from the alcove almost together, as if driven by a single will. Each was a tall skeleton, clad in rotting robes. Wisps of hair clung to their cracked skulls. Their eye sockets glowed fiercely with an eerie green light.

All too soon, battle was joined. While Callister, Martin, Rothgar and Mutaki did battle with the 10 Guardians. Each time a weapon was swung at a Guardian, a piece of armor would appear a split second before impact to deflect the weapon. It was quickly realized that the Guardians were drawing upon the weapons, armor, skills and magic of those trapped inside the Shrine, using their equipment and skills to aid them in the fight. Each Guardian became a constantly shifting thing as its armor and weapons were change from second to second as it fought.

Ugita, having gone in with only a few choice spells, quickly cast them to aid in the fight and emptied his mind of all magic. He then found the spell in the spellbook which would free the prisoners from the Shrine. He climbed up the Shrine and put his arm into the energy stream, allowing the energy to flow into him, absorbing as much as he could. The power of it was overwhelming and it was difficult to open his mind to that much power. It felt as if his very soul were on fire. But he managed to absorb a huge amount of energy. Brimming with power, he dropped back down to the spellbook. He touched the stone key to the depression, fitting it in precisely. He then adjusted the dials to the setting he needed. During all of this, the battle raged all about him. The other characters fought ferociously against the 10 guardians and against Deth, the Keeper of the Shrine, who had now joined the battle. Ugita began casting the Releasing Spell, but found it difficult to control and half way through the casting lost control of the potent energies. The sorcery started to work, but then misfired. It was partially successful. About two dozen prisoners of the Shrine were released with a bright thunderclap of energy. Dazed and confused, they suddenly found themselves free and in the midst of a fight. Recognizing the Guardians, most of them hoisted weapons and leapt to the attack, joining the characters in their battle.

Ugita grabbed a hold of the Avisarr and, with the aid of a blade, pried it lose from the four fingers of stone that held it fast. With a crack of the stone, the Avisarr came free. The energy ribbon winked out of existence, the rumbling stream of energy died and an ominous quiet descended on the room. The sounds of steel clashing against steel sounded suddenly loud in the silence.

A huge creature, all tentacles and bloated flesh, suddenly descended in the chamber, having floated down the great Shaft. It hovered now above the floor, glaring at the heroes. Ugita recoiled from the thing feeling the dark energy rolling off of it. This was an avatar of Draxorith, a tiny fragment of the demon lord, sent here to do battle with those that defiled this sacred Shrine. Undoubtedly summoned at the Temple above, perhaps it had even been brought through the Dimension Gate itself. Mutaki prepared a spell of flight from the group while Callister and Rothgar did battle with this new abomination. In the distance, the party heard horns of alarm and the running of booted feet. Clearly the Temple above and the Citadel guards had been alerted. If not by the sounds of fighting, then certainly by the sudden cessation of energy flowing into the Temple from the Shrine. It sounded as if the entire Citadel had awakened and a whole garrison of soldiers and mages were on the way. Shouting could be heard from the Temple high above.

Mutaki cast his flying spell on himself, Callister, Rothgar and Ugita. With the Avisarr secure, they flew back up the shaft and to the secret tunnel through which they had entered. The prisoners freed from the Shrine continued to battle the skeletal guardians.

Back in the storage room, they found Grimnoth doing battle with five Citadel guards. A stack of dead Citadel guards was at his feet. Apparently, he had been quite busy. Ugita put the Avisarr into his interdimensional chest (Ugita had previously “retrieved” the other box from his homeland with a spell and had given the other box to the Kitaran officials). In this manner, the Avisarr was sent back to the officials in Kitar. Now all the players had to worry about was escaping the Citadel. They fled down a corridor fighting with Citadel guards the whole way. It was very much a running fight. Speed was their saving grace. They managed to get away from the guards for a few seconds. Martin and Mutaki each cast a teleport spell and took half the party with them. Mutaki, Ugita and Grimnoth fled through one teleport spell. Martin, Callister and Rothgar went through the other. They had hastily agreed on a location outside of the Citadel.

This is where Session 9 ended.

Closing Notes about Session 9
The characters used up most of the healing magic and several of their expendable items.
All of the freed prisoners were killed or recaptured.
The mission was a success. The characters did manage to steal the Avisarr gem from the Shrine.
Deth, the Keeper of the Shrine, was not seriously injured. No permanent damage was done to the Shrine. Four of the lesser guardians were destroyed, but these can be replaced. The only significant change is that the Avisarr was stolen. Because of this, the Dimension Gate is now off line.
Caramus, who has been away for several weeks, returned. Upon hearing the details of recent events during his absence, he was furious. Several officers were executed.
« Last Edit: October 23, 2006, 08:07:38 PM by David Roomes »