Zelirith, whom the townsfolk called the Witch of the Forest, led the group to a 2-day trek to the hills where the Lich’s phylactery is kept hidden. She explained to them that they would need to find the cave guarded by winged demon-like statues resembling gargoyles. And in the shallow cave would be a wall of overlapping rocks. Behind it would be a boulder that they would need to lift to reveal the hole in the ground leading to a deep vertical tunnel.
She was not sure exactly what to expect inside as she had not read this in the book left to her by the Order of the Box.
She wouldn’t be able to accompany them down the tunnel because it was protected by powerful magic to thwart powerful individuals from entering and taking the phylactery. She said that she would lead the gargoyles away from the mouth of the cave to allow the group to go into the tunnel unharmed.
Mistamojo asked how she would accomplish this. At that, she created a tall flaming humanoid from thin air and said, “with this.” She walked off with the fire elemental away from view.
Moments later, the group saw a fireball explode near the mouth of the cave. Ten gargoyles rose from the hill and flew to the direction of the source of the fireball.
In seeing that, the group moved closer to the cave and stopped at the bushes just across it. They surveyed their surrounding to see if it was truly safe to cross. What they saw were the rotting corpses of a couple of ogres and lots of goblins. Mistamojo deduced that the goblins may have attempted to get the phylactery a while back.
With the gargoyles preoccupied with Zelirith and her fire elemental off in the distance, Brioche the thief darted across from the bushes into the cave. Encouraged by Brioche’s lead, Mistamojo followed him.
They went behind the wall of rocks and saw that the hole in the ground was no longer covered by a boulder. Iron spikes were nailed around the hole. Each spike had rope tied to it with the other end dangling into the dark vertical tunnel below. They could hear the faint sound of rushing water in the tunnel. Mistamojo threw in a torch and it briefly lit the tunnel as it bounced a few times on some rocky surface and then it was gone.
Outside, Elfred cast Protection from Evil while Hermione cast Mirror Image. Suddenly there were three Hermiones standing side-by-side and mirroring the movement of each other. The rest of the group tried to cross into the cave but due to the commotion they were making, they attracted the attention of two gargoyles. The flying creatures swooped in to attack but Rusty, Aragorn, Diana and Oracle formed a wall to allow Elfred, Mystic and Hermione to go into the cave safely.
Oracle tried to shoot a gargoyle with his long bow but he snapped his bow’s string. Rusty tried to shoot a gargoyle with his short bow but missed badly. Meanwhile, Hermione remembered from her magical studies that non-magical weapons are ineffective against gargoyles.
She passed on that knowledge to her team. Oracle and Rusty already have magical long swords so they switched to that. Hermione and Mystic both handed their magical daggers to Diana and Aragorn.
Oracle and Rusty were both hit by the gargoyles but they were able to hit them back with their own swords. Hermione and Mystic fired off magic missiles which were effective. One gargoyle tried to attack Mystic because of this but Diana was able to kill it with the magic dagger as it flew low past her. Rusty finished of the other gargoyle with ease.
Once the two gargoyles were down, they all gathered inside the cave to avoid attracting the attention of the rest of the gargoyles. After some discussion, the group decided to all go down the tunnel using the rope that were already there.
As Hermione and Elfred descended down into the tunnel, Hermione’s mirror images disappeared and Elfred’s Protection from Evil fizzled. Something in the tunnel made magic ineffective.
At about a hundred feet down, the vertical tunnel widened into a round area where everybody could stand. But in the middle of this round area was another hole in the ground leading into further darkness below. As above, there were iron spikes with rope at the mouth of this hole. The sound of rushing water was louder now.
There was also a corpse of someone in singed long robes. Hermione investigated as it looked like a dead mage. It seemed to have been dead for a very long time as it was mostly skeleton. He was wearing a cloak that didn’t look singed like the rest of his clothing. He also wore a magic ring and a scarab amulet. In his backpack was a spellbook, a magical dagger and 150 gold coins.
The group paused here to decide what to do next. In the meantime, they divided the dead wizard’s possessions among themselves.
Would they all go down the tunnel? Would some stay behind to ensure they weren’t attack from the rear? What else is in store for them underneath? They’ll find out next time.
Nine of the ten players were in attendance on Tuesday’s game. I tried a few things to make the game run more smoothly despite the large number of PCs.
- We only rolled initiative once and we used that for the entire encounter
- I asked for a volunteer to keep track of whose turn it was in the initiative order
- I sat at the head of the table again so I could easily talk to anybody on the table without having to turn my whole body just to face them. This also meant I could easily see if anybody wanted to get my attention and say something.