Laying his hand upon Ishirou's grevious wounds, Aerodus calls upon Iomedae and the goddess's power manages to stem to flow of blood... but not revive the Tian swordsman... Going the Heal route would have meant a dead Ishirou with those rolls - and that much was obvious to the characters...
Checking for ghoul fever...
Ishirou seems clean... but all those of you who were in the 'pods' are infected... and you don't have a sure fire way to get rid of that infection now, with a deceased Jask...
Carrying Ishirou and Sasha's unconscious forms back to the entrance chamber, it doesn't take long to haul them both to the surface, with the aid of Aerodus's loyal followers... On the other hand, none of them (including Taki) are willing to so much as step foot into the caverns - it appears to be (from their theological point of view) literally asking them to step into hell...
Taki does her best to help heal the injured, although it's not enough to revive either Ishirou or Sasha yet. (Everyone, except Marik who's already gotten his shot today, can heal 1d8+1 hit points from Taki's healing hex)
Yeah - Mundin's stuff should be around in the village somewhere... quick, someone check his sheet! (Good thinking there too!) Otherwise the cannibals don't have any armour... you can get hold of some spears or longspears though, if you'd like - pointy sticks they can just about manage...
While the others tend to the wounded, Shisa runs quickly to the storage shed. Looking around, she tries to find a short length of rope and a tattered, dirty piece of cloth to form a breechcloth in an attempt at at least some modesty.
Grabbing Mundin's breastplate, she runs back out, snagging a spear and gives the plate to Aerodus and tucks the dagger into the rope belt.
"Here you go Aero. It's at least something," she says as she tests the weight and balance of the spear. "It's not much, but it's better than nothing. Shall we finish what we've started?"
Total HPS after Taki's heal: 1d8 + 1 + 6 ⇒ (4) + 1 + 6 = 11
The Thrunefang cannibals don't appear bothered by the all the nudity in the slightest... they do seem freaked out by all the people returning from the underworld (and returning not undead... if that double-negative makes any sense...). Still, they can provide basic 'tribal primative' loincloths and the like for those who're feeling the breeze.
As the group rearms itself and prepares to reenter the caverns Marik pulls Gelik aside and says "Perhaps you should stay up here and keep an eye over our wounded. Make sure the locals don't try and eat them""Or you, my friend.""If we shouldn't return, try and see if you can get the lighthouse beacon going again and hail a ship and get off this accursed rock before anything else happens to you."
'While I certainly like your thinking,' Gelik replies, with a slightly forced smile, 'it seems to me like we'll need all hands on deck down there - if you'll pardon the nautical turn of phrase. Even if it's just providing light, and the occassional distraction, I think I'd rather help you and our other friends dispose of this ghoul priestess now than have to mount rescue number... what are we up to? Four? Five? Whatever... on my own...'
The gnome glances around the cannibal camp, taking note of the nervous and respectful looks the group seem to be getting, now they've returned from the underworld, then adds,
'... Besides, it looks like it'll be a while before these chaps are confident enough of our demise to risk eating our friends. I think Mrs Whiteblade can probably keep them off the menu for as long as it takes for us to kill the local goddess... or to wind up not caring either way...'
'I'm down to the few cantrips I know,' Gelik continues, 'plus some innate tricks of my people, and my trusty sword and bow,' he gestures towards a nearby fist-sized rock - which levitates and floats across to his outstretched hand (causing several nearby cannibals to flinch and take a step or two away). 'Still,' he says, in a conversational manner, 'you never know what milage you can get out of a few cantrips until you try... it's a pity we haven't got any fuse grenades... there's a wonderful trick I once pulled back in Magnimar which would come in handy right about now...' he sighs, then grins, as he concludes, '... Oh well - at least the bleaching isn't likely to get me on this island!'
Her feet make no sound as she pads across the packed earth back to the rope leading down, Jask's symbol of Nethys bouncing between her breasts. Dropping her spear into the hole, she grabs hold of the rope and turns to the others. "Well, no time like the present eh," she says with a grin before slipping back down into the darkness.
Picking up her spear, she stalks off a little ways and awaits the rest. Her eyes scanning the cavern, and ears perked for any sound.
Ah yes - the au natural bonus to skill checks... :)
BTW, I checked the Adventure Path obituaries for this AP and it seems that lots of groups get their bottoms handed to them by Mother Thrunefang and her children... In fact, it seems like the most likely point to die in the whole AP! It turns out darkness, paralysis attacks, and chaneling negative energy are a pretty lethal combination... who knew? ;)
So - what's the plan for the 'return to the caverns of almost-assured-(un)death'?
Still here! Trying to get this post done.. but this blasted 'work' keeps getting the way..."
Shaking his head at idea of 'gnomish tricks and grenades', Aerodus will pull Taki close, and whisper in her ear: "Keep them safe, I'll be back."
Following the Songstress down, Aerodus readies his longspear and follows suit a good thirty feet behind.
Aerodus is good to let Shisa scout out, and provide light for the others 30 feet behind (light on spear probably, or the breast plate), same way we went earlier.
Waiting until the entire party is down, the hatch covered, and into the cave does Aerodus's whisper break the silence "Now may not be the best time.... but, I believe we are infected with ghoul fever; the swordsman as well."
No pressure folks! Nice to have one of those die fast / die slow choices going. (Although paladins do get disease immunity!!)
"Now may not be the best time.... but, I believe we are infected with ghoul fever; the swordsman as well."
Finishing his casting of a simple light cantrip on Aerodus's spear, Gelik's eye go wide at the paladin's revelation...
'That doesn't sound very good at all...' he understates, '... but... I'm okay, right? I mean I was never stuck in one of those rock alcove thing-a-ma-jigs...' he nervously eyes his companions, as if seeing them in a new light... and not just from the cantrip...
Turning to give Gelik his full attention, Aerodus eyes him over, and gives a quick nod. "You should be, though I would be careful just the same. May the Inheritor's will protect you sir Scribe." Reaching over to give Gelik a reassuring pat on the shoulder.
After telling him he is surrounded by a party of ghoulish time bombs, Aerodus rolls sense the mood! 1d20 ⇒ 5 And fails..
Looking back at Aero, she stands in silence a moment thinking about what he had said. "Great, just another day on this island. It just gets better and better."
Turning, she starts to walk off down the passage to search for the ghoul queen. "Remember Aero.. kill me if I start to turn into one of those things." Without another word, she forces herself to concentrate on the task at hand.
Shisa scouts out the caverns ahead of the others, finding the two ghouls guarding the strange 'temple' structure still there, but otherwise locating nothing else moving, apart from Mother Thrunefang herself - who has returned to her own small cave (where the group first fought her). None spot Shisa, but Shisa doesn't get close enough to actually get a good look at what's going on - although it seems likely that Mother Thrunefang took Aerys off to her cave... for some reason...
As long as you don't take hours then there's little chance of any more ghouls returning before you can act. You can get to a suitable location just outside of light range of either the 'temple' or Mother Thrunefang's lair no problems, but you'll need a plan (and relevant rolls) to progress from there.
Spotting the two ghouls standing guard and the queen's cavern behind, Shisa turns and holds up her hand to signal the others to hold.
Walking back as quietly as she can, she lets the others know what she has seen. "Looks like two ghouls standing guard. if I remember correctly, it's that temple room beyond them. I could not get closer.
Scanning the faces of the rest, she shrugs. "We may be able to lure the two out around this slight bend and out of sight. We can take them out quickly then move on. Your thoughts?"
Her ears stay tuned for an answer while her eyes begin searching for shadows and a place to hide..
perception 1d20 + 11 ⇒ (20) + 11 = 31given time constraint (desire to act fast) and nearness of ghouls.. can't justify in my mind a take 10 or 20
Ok.. um.. I'll take that 20.. but darnit.. I'm using all my good rolls.. but then, my non-combat ones have always been better this whole AP.. ugh.
Sorry, no - the two ghouls are guarding the weird underground temple you found earlier, but didn't explore. Mother Thrunefang is alone (possibly with Aerys) in a different part of the cavern complex - it just seemed pointless to go back through every twist and turn to get you there...
Since we don't have the ranged superiority (aka Shisa/Tony with bows/xbows to unload in sneak/surprise)... I would recommend saving Aerys (and getting our gear first) and then unleashing ranged fury (with long spear support) against the ghoulish guards on our way out.
Covering the lit spear tip with his hand, Aerodus allows only the barest amount of illumination to spill forth between his fingers. "We save the poet first."
::Sigh:: ... The ghoul guards are in a totally different part of the cavern complex. You'd need to go out of your way to encounter them. Forget what Shisa posted - she was wrong - there are no ghoul guards anywhere near Mother Thrunefang herself... although keep this up and there may be... ;p
Mother Thrunefang's 'lair' is a small cave at the end of a narrow, winding, passage. That passage entrance makes sneaking in, en mass, a difficult prospect (basically trying to sneak, single file, into a room maybe seven or eight feet across at best), and charging or running in an impossibility. The fact she knew you were coming the first time didn't help you in the original fight...
With the group gathered by the entrance to the narrow passage which leads to Mother Thrunefang's personal cave, Gelik peers down the winding tunnel, then shakes his head,
'It doesn't look good,' he observes, 'maybe the naked elf could sneak up on the ghoul priestess, but unless she's feeling particularly confident in her prospects as an assassin...' he glances at Shisa for a moment, just in case she is, '... I'm doubting that would end well. Sir Smites-a-lot,' he gestures towards Aerodus, 'would seem our best bet for finishing her off, especially if young Tony can buckle his swash at the same time, and I'm sure Mistress LeCroix can put all that practice she got backstabbing the local tengu to good use too... but that all seems to hinge on us getting the drop on the ghoul lady, and not vice-versa...'
'I could maybe muster up some dancing lights,' the gnome continues, rubbing his chin in thought, 'but we should probably assume that, as a spellcaster herself, she may be wise to such basic trickery,' he casts a quick prestidigitation on himself, to straighten out and clean his clothes and hair, as he muses, 'Master Whiterose,' he adds, 'any suggestions? Do you think your reptilian friend may be willing to attempt to lure the ghoul out?'
At Gelik's question, Yipper quickly moves to hide behind Marik's leg...
"It was her capture of Yipper that brought us down here the first time. I'd rather not put him at risk again. Perhaps I can draw her out" So saying Marik pulls out the wand of Mirror Image and casts the spell from it.
1d4 + 1 ⇒ (1) + 1 = 2 Well the Dicebot is still against us "Or more to the point, the three of us can."
Gelik watches Marik use the wand, then asks (without much hope in his tone),
'I don't suppose that would work on the rest of us?'
Glancing at Aerodus and Tony, the gnome also nods,
'So...' he asks Marik, '... are you going to head in there and lure her back here for us? If so, then I suggest that the prepared signal in the case of you being capture is for you to scream like a little girl...'
As Marik hands Gelik the wand "Perhaps for you, Master Gelik. But, for the others I'm afraid not."
As the gnome discusses the signal Marik says "I was prepared to do just that." he adds with a wink. Before heading down to confront the ghoul queen Marik looks over the group "I suggest everyone find an appropriate hiding spot."
Marik will feel his way quietly Stealth check: 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (17) + 1 = 18 down the darkened corridor towards the Mothers lair. Once there he will pause for a moment to survey the scene. Once he's satisfied he'll pull his crossbow and fire at the Mother.
Attack roll: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (19) + 2 = 21
Confirm critical: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (19) + 2 = 21 BooYah
Damage: 2d8 ⇒ (4, 4) = 8
As the bolt sinks home Marik shouts over his shoulder "Mummsy, I've come to kill you" as he moves back towards his companions.
Borrowing the wand from Marik, Gelik waves it through the air, chanting mystical words, and produces... five extra Geliks! Smirking just a little, he passes the wand back to Marik...
Since Marik can't see in pitch blackness, Gelik casts light on a small stone (one Marik can easily close his fingers around) and hands it to the Wizard... which cancels the gnome's light cantrip on Aerodus's spear, and plunges the rest of the party into darkness until Marik returns...
Sneaking down the winding passage, letting as little light escape between his fingers as he dares, Marik...
... Listens a while before he rounds the last turn into the ghoul priestess's lair. Hearing nothing but the ghoul muttering to herself, and the general sounds of pottering, he rounds the corner, light stone held in the hand supporting his loaded crossbow, other hand on the trigger, ready to fire. Quickly taking in the scene, Marik sees Aerys - unconscious or dead, he can't tell at a glance - lying on the mound of bones and dripping seaweed in the centre of the room, and Mother Thrunefang happily gnawing away at the stump where the half-elf woman is missing a hand...
The ghoul priestess looks up as light intrudes upon her lair...
"Mummsy, I've come to kill you"
... only to catch Marik's crossbow bolt right in the eye! Screaming bloody murder, she yanks out the protruding shaft, then leaps forwards - her clawed hands ripping one of Marik's illusory doubles to ethereal shreds as the Wizard turns and runs...
A little while after Marik disappears into the darkness, there's the sound of him shouting...
"Mummsy, I've come to kill you"
... followed quickly by a blood-curdling scream! A few moments later, and the light of Gelik's enchanted stone can be seen advancing down the tunnel... rapidly followed by two Mariks (down from the three who entered the tunnel) bursting into the larger cavern where the others wait, with an enraged Mother Thrunefang - gore dripping from her destroyed left eyesocket - close on his heels!
I'm going to go ahead and assume everyone was smart enough to prepare readied actions... so time to roll those (except Marik, of course, who's just trying to stay ahead of certain death for a few seconds longer right now...)! Flanking should be easy, assuming some party members stationed either side of the tunnel mouth.
With a feral grin, Shisa listens to the sound of an anguished scream coming from the cavern beyond. "Well, that's not a girly scream so something must have gone right.. so far," she muses to herself as she carefully sets the spear aside and readies her dagger, opting for more close in work.
In the low light, she watches as Marik runs by with fewer duplicates than which he left and braces herself. Seeing the ghoul queen pass where she has tried to hide, she thrusts the dagger toward the back of Mother Thrunefang.
Taking cover with the rest of the party on one side of the tunnel (either is fine), Aerodus quivers with anticipation in the darkness waiting for his time to strike!
As the ghoulish cleric rushes forward through the entrance, Aerodus lashes out towards her unholy amulet with his spear! Hoping to shatter her bond with whatever foul creature that she calls her patron.
No smite on first round :(
Longspear (sunder) on her symbol: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (10) + 5 = 15 +2 if flank
Damage: 1d8 + 4 ⇒ (2) + 4 = 6
Both Shisa's dagger and Tony's spear sink into Mother Thrunefang's cadaverous flesh as she emerges, even as Aerodus's spear smashes the snake's skull amulet she was wearing! Gelik's arrow flies wide, and Marik frantically starts to crank back the string on his crossbow (can't really load and flee at the same time, sorry...).
The ghoul priestess screams, partially in pain, but mostly at the loss of her precious amulet...
Unrelenting, Shisa sinks her blade into the ghoul's back yet again...
Well, Mother Thrunefang just rolled a '1' (4 total) for her initiative - so slaughter away! The attacks were in a surprise round, this is now round one (in which Shisa has already attacked and hit)... although barring dice-bot evil, it shouldn't be a problem finishing her off now...