Chilling with the Flumphs
A full day is spent resting, and communing, with the flumphs. The flumphs are very inquisitive creatures, and after an initial shyness spend time freely amongst the party.
The flumphs also now freely glide throughout the entire cavern with the great waterfall. Before, they would emerge slowly from their holes, and cautiously approach the party, testing their intentions. But with the threats that had threatened the flumphs now destroyed, they are enjoying their newfound freedom. And they share this freedom with the party, willingly opening their home to the conquering heroes and lead them throughout their various chambers.
The room with the mirror hanging on the ceiling has not changed since Sever had last visited. The mirror still emits a healthy, powerful glow of natural light. Taking a closer look at the mirror, Mertat confirms that there is some powerful magic at work. The mirror is certainly magical. But also the three claws that have held the mirror in place also are of magic. The two claws that are blackened exhibit only a trace of past magic, but the third and healthy claw emits strong magic. As Mertat closely examines the mirror and the room, he becomes convinced that each claw represents one of the temples of Orcus. Two of the temples have been purified by the party, and two matching claws are now blackened and useless. One temple of evil remains, as does one claw holding the mirror. Once that third temple is destroyed, the mirror should be released from the clutches of the claws. Communicating with the flumphs, Mertat confirms that the light coming from the mirror is not necessary for the sustainment of the flumphs. So perhaps this mirror could then be removed to another location. Mertat promises to further investigate this, perhaps discovering a better use for good with this mirror.
As the day with the flumphs continues, the party finds they can begin to communicate quite readily with them. It must be that the hero who had become trapped here long ago by Orcus, and then had befriended the flumphs, had passed along a form the common language to the flumphs. But that was long years ago, and the ability to use common language faded amongst the flumphs. But after interacting with the party, they begin to be able to speak limited common once again. Though speak may be a stretch. It is more a making of sounds by rubbing their tentacles and blowing air over which creates sounds similar to language. They exhibit a remarkable intelligence. They will indubitably be useful allies.
It’s Hot in Here
During the stay with the flumphs, the party decides to return a distance back up the dungeon into an area previously passed by the group on one of the earlier forays into Athuk. Bidding farewell to the flumphs, but promising to return and take advantage of their hospitality sometime in the future, the party makes their way using Mertat’s magic to an area which contains stairs leading lead down to a hot place. Eccial, with the ability to deflect and ignore a modest amount of fire and heat damage, leads the way. Isn’t that something Sever should do, Eccial ponders? Sever just encourages Eccial onward, but does keep a close eye out for danger, though Eccial is unaware of that, and believes Sever is just having a bit of fun.
The stone stairs appear well made and stable, and wide enough for two to travel side by side. But Eccial leads the way down alone, much to his discomfort. The walls along the sides of the stairs are orange in color. As the party descends, the heat increases. After several minutes of anxious traveling, they reach the bottom of the stairs. A great iron door now bars the way. Eccial steps aside for Sever to open the door, but Sever declines with a smile.
“Go ahead, Eccial, I’m certain the door is not trapped” muses Sever while looking quite disinterested. Abban shakes his head. Sever notices the gentle admonishment, but allows Eccial to continue.
Frustration rising, Eccial strides forward and is forced to attempt open the door. There is no lock on the door, and a handle awaits to be pushed inward to reveal what is inside. Anticipating a horrible sheet of flame to erupt from the floor at any moment, Eccial takes a deep breath and pushes the door open. But no such trap in encountered. Rather, a small room lies on the other side.
Piles of ashes are scattered throughout the room. Not exactly a surprise. Especially considering that the heat has increased with each step forward in this area. It is becoming a bit uncomfortable, and the party fully expects a monstrous, fire-breathing creature to erupt at them at any moment.
Taking a few moments to dig through the piles of ash, not much is discerned. Across the room, another door awaits.
With Eccial once again leading the way, the party moves through the door down another long hallway, while the heat continues to intensify. Eventually the hallway ends at an intersection. Off to the right, another door. To the left, a large open space beckons beyond a long hallway.
Eccial selects the right passage, and leads the party to the door. Reaching for the handle, Sever quickly steps forward and grabs Eccial’s hand “Let me take this one” Sever advises. “I feel that we have finally come to a place that may require my services.”
Eccial grunts, but gladly steps back from the door. Abban pats Eccial on the back, thanking him for leading the way thus far. As he does so, he notices that Eccial is quite sweaty – more so even that the increased heat should cause. The challenge of leading the way must have worn on his nerves. But as always, Eccial performed admirably. “Well done, Eccial” Abban says. “Sever has been having a bit of fun with you, it seems.”
Turning quickly at that, Sever says “Perhaps. But Eccial was the best person to take a surprise attack of fire against the party – thus, I placed him in front. But now, something just ain’t right about this door. If I can have a moment’s peace, I’ll see if I can figure out what treachery is at work here.”
Turning back to the door, Sever begins to gently poke and prod at the door, and runs a thin sliver of metal along the gaps of the door testing for unnecessary obstructions. After a minute or so, Sever breathes a slight sigh.
“Well, I could have sworn that this door was trapped. But it’s clear. Mertat, join me up here when I open the door – we may need to enter quickly and I’d like you at my side.”
Now Mertat grimaces a bit, but complies with Sever’s request. “You better be right on this, Sever.”
Putting away his tools, and drawing his maces, Sever reaches for the door “Since when have I missed a trap. Now, here we…”
Pushing the door open, the floor suddenly opens up beneath Sever and Mertat. With a curse and a yell, they both tumble down into darkness. After a short distance, both thud heavily on the pit floor below, Sever managing to land on top of Mertat, and thus softening his landing a bit.
“Curses, Sever!” Mertat yells, throwing Sever off him. “Serves you right for putting Eccial through the torment. But did you have to bring me along for your little ride?” Rubbing his leg, Mertat struggles to his feet, none too pleased with Sever at the moment.
“Are you both well?” Abban shouts down.
“Yes, we’re fine” replies Sever, a bit admonished. “Could o’ sworn there was no trap on that door, though. Toss a rope down for Mertat, there’s nothing down here but dust and bones, and a cranky cleric.”
Climbing out of the hole, and then assisting Mertat up with the rope, Sever works to position the false floor back in place and jams it. The party will now be able to safely cross the pit without triggering the trap. “Just a bit late on this one” Sever murmurs.
“Lead .. way” Eccial commands Sever. “Watch for – hole!” Eccial cackles at Sever’s misfortune, quite amused at the retribution enacted upon Sever. “Too bad… Mer’at fall, too.”
With the recent admonishments of Abban still fresh, Sever decides it best to leave the taunts alone, and turns, entering the room. It is a small, indistinct naturally carved room, with an uneven tunnel leading out and down to a large cavern. The tunnel has lines of crystal running through the walls. The crystals give off a fierce crimson light, reacting to the heat of the area. Sabus digs at a few and plops some of the crystals into an empty pouch. “May be useful later on” he muses.
Sever exits the tunnel and enters the large cavern. Shaped in an irregular oval, the cavern appears to have developed naturally from water erosion and surges of lava flows. The heat has increased even more as the party tumbles out of the tunnel into the cavern. Looking around, small pools of bubbling lava are scattered through the area, and steam rises upward to the high ceiling far above. The party has just a moment to view the area, when out of the pools of lava emerge small, blob-like creatures.
Short, squat humanoid in form, broad creatures begin to lumber towards the party. Initially the party is slow to react at the small, and seemingly minor, distraction. They are human-like in appearance, but in a grotesque and disturbing manner. Their faces on overlarge heads resemble wildly corrupted children, grinning widely, betraying rows of sharp, spiky teeth. Their skin glows intensely as they emerge directly from the lava pools, giving their reddish flesh the appearance of an almost scorching pink color. Soon, they swarm about the party and begin striking out with powerful sharp claws which leave burn trails in their wake. The painful wounds inflicted upon the party, the party changes their mind and quickly decides it is best to not underestimate these creatures.
The party launches a series of attacks, and though they are quite resistant to the blows from the parties’ weapons, the creatures are soon fighting a desperate, losing struggle. Combining weapon strikes with a series of magic assaults, the creatures realize they have little chance. They begin to flee back into their lava pools, but the party pursues them, killing several. The rest manage to get into the lava, and amazingly are able to swim into the flows and make their escape.
In just minutes, the room is silent, as Mertat and Abban move about healing the wounds the party has taken. Though small and childlike in appearance, the garish lava creatures have inflicted great damage upon the party. The staff of healing which the party received as a gift from the flumphs is welcome, as it dispenses its necessary healing.
As the party recovers, Sabus discovers a trapdoor in the floor. Examining it closely, he lifts the door slightly looking underneath, and discovers a tripwire stretched taut. The wire leads to stringed weapon ready to dispense its darts at the opener of the door. With care, Sabus is able to secure the tripwire so that the trap is made harmless, and then opens up the trapdoor.
“Nice job” comments Sever. “You’ve been paying attention.”
“You’re not the sole source of knowledge of disarming traps, Sever” he retorts with pride. “I’ve got a few skills of my own.”
Snorting from behind them, Sabus turns quickly to confront Kael.
Raising his hands in submission, Kael apologies, “Your skills are surely a spectacle worthy of display, Sabus. Your efforts are most welcome, and provide an enhancement to those which Sever enjoys.”
Refusing to be drug into a test of words, Sabus turns back to the pit to examine below. It is a short drop down, and a hallway leads off to one side. Heat also surges from the hole – even standing in this room which contains bubbling pools of lava, the heat coming from the heat is greater.
“Looks like this is the way to go” Sabus declares, and promptly drops down the hole, moving down the hallway below, shortly followed by the rest. The hallway seems to be a disused lava tube, just tall and broad enough to allow Sabus to walk forward erect. The rest of the party bend low and scuttle, following the lead of Sabus. After a short distance, the lava tube intersects with a short hallway, ending at a door.
Intense heat emanates from the door, and they gird themselves for yet another fight. Bursting through the door, a bright towering sheet of flame greets them. Burning with a malevolent force, Sever recognizes it as a fire elemental such as he has frequently called to assist the party in their combats. But this one is under the control of evil forces. Mourning a bit for facing such a creature, Sever moves forward with the rest of the party. As they close the distance towards the creature, two lizard-like creatures step out from behind the elemental and move to intercept the party.
These other creatures are easily ten feet tall, and are a mix of lizard and human. Dark umber skin is stretched tight over taut, muscled frames. Bright black eyes stare out at the party from their horned heads. Wielding wicked spears with jagged hooks, each creature also trails their tail which whips out towards the intruders.
Mertat grabs Sever, saying “Let’s go”, and the pair teleport in the rear behind the fire elemental and begin to flay at the elemental. Thus distracted, the elemental turns its attention against the pair, leaving the salamanders to deal with the rest of the intruders.
Eccial and Abban drive forward and begin to cleave into the salamanders, trading blows and inflicting great damage upon the creatures. An unnatural heat emits from the creatures, making breathing difficult. But Sabus sings his bardic tune, and they are reinvigorated, and quickly continue their assault. But the salamanders’ assault is deadly and accurate, and Kael and Sabus soon find themselves facing the salamanders as both of their fighters are knocked unconscious.
But from behind, Mertat and Sever fall upon the salamanders, having succeeded in destroying the fire elemental. Thus besieged in front and behind, the salamanders are soon felled as well.
Mertat moves to revive Abban and Eccial, who are weak from their struggles.
“This is no place to heal” states Mertat.
“Zelkor’s Ferry it must be” confirms Kael. “If we are to continue flailing through this fire and heat, we must have potent protections against such.”
“Yes” agrees Abban. “But let’s take a quick look at the other end of this passage. Just a quick peak should do no harm, and we’ll be able to chart our next foray.”
The party agrees, albeit with a bit of reluctance – they all have taken hurts, and if they encounter another great challenge, it may bode poorly for them. But turning back, they make their way back out of the trap door and back into the room where they struggled against the lava children. This cavern is quite large, and the party spreads out between the various lava pools to survey the area. On the far side from where they first entered the cavern, Kael discovers the outlines of a door. Calling out, the party gathers.
The door is normal sized, yet heavily carved with skeleton figures. Obscured due to long years of dust and smoke accumulations, Sever and Sabus clear away the heaviest of the dirt to fully reveal carved scenes both fearsome and obscene.
“These carvings depict the greatest of evils.” Now that the door and its depictions revealed, Mertat can fully grasp the evil they symbolize. “These skeletons represent the essence of humankind – elves, dwarves, and others – who in their death have been denied a final peace. Rather, they have been sacrificed to Orcus the Most Debase.”
“And in this state, they are suspended in a final everlasting torment, feeding the evil which is the essence of Orcus. Though it is apparent that these carvings are just that, carvings, they surely reveal the hideous plan that Orcus pursues by his presence here in Golarian.”
“Beyond this door must be great evil” conjects Abban. “I can sense an evil awaits – as I am sure Sever can as well.”
Nodding, Sever confirms Abban’s surmise, and moves to the door.
Weapons drawn, Sever leads the charge through the door. Beyond, a short hallway leads to another door. Not pausing, Sever goes crashing through this one as well, and stumbles into a cavernous room.
All about the room, great piles of treasure lie. Coin and fine golden trinkets are piled together with various gems and jewelry. A literal fortune is contained here.
But along with the treasure, heat. A mighty and oppressive heat assaults Sever. And as the others file into the room, they also are brought to a stop by the blistering heat.
And now that they have entered the room, the source of the great heat is revealed. Two great coal skinned humans, standing over twice the height of Abban, charge the party, leaving in their wake flames and smoke trailing behind them.
Ordinarily an encounter against two such fearsome foes would cause even the bravest of mortals to quail in fear. But the party has become enraged by the carvings of the door. Even if never enacted, such evil intent to deny the peaceful rest for the dead must be met and decisively crushed. And so with the fervor of their gods coursing through their veins, the party fall upon the pair with such efficient abandon that they are slain before even they are able to inflict harm upon the party.
Great clumps of the creatures, efreeti, now are scattered about the room, blood and entrails leaving flames and smoky ruin in their wake.
But the heat of the room stays intense. The treasure has taken the heat into itself, and has in some way been ensorcelled to hold the heat. Impossible to pick up, the party must withdraw from the room as the heat continues to inflict itself upon the party.
Yet another brief struggle, and this time the party is rewarded with a great treasure that they cannot retrieve. So returning back to the room where they defeated the fire elemental and salamanders, they gather the magical spears of the salamanders as trade for coin. It is now time to return to Zelkor’s Ferry to refresh. There is more area to explore in this section, but the fire and heat has become totally unbearable. They must gather resources to aid them against the elemental assault. So gathering around Mertat, the cleric once more uses his magic to return the party back to their now most welcome place, Dead Vrock Inn.
Chilling with the Flumphs
Chilling with the Flumphs