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Karethas senses that something was off about the vision of Jhavhul that just disappeared. It seems a generic message, perhaps a programmed illusion. The heroes are left to ponder the way forward.
Sheik Voodoo wrote:
The passages center and right appear to end at a river of magma. The left passage ends at a heavy stone door.
The smell of brimstone fills the air and Jhavhul's face splits in feral grin. "Welcome visitors, to Xotani's grave where wishes are granted. You are honored to have been chosen to witness my ascension. Enjoy yourselves, and when you are but ants beneath my feet, I may even let you live!" He throws back his head and laughs a deep booming sound that brings to mind the roaring of an inferno. The figure turns to smoke and fades away as his laughter echoes through the tunnels.
That was an unimpressive channel roll. Feel free to continue the healing, I'm gonna hop forward a step.
Once the wizard is properly mended, the Heroes continue. The path ahead is long and cylindrical. The walls look as if they partially melted and then cooled with gooey ropes frozen as they dripped down the molten sides of the passage. It could be a lava cave, or it could be the path of the giant Thoqqua. Nonetheless, it eventually ends in a less regular chamber of incredible hear that splits in three. Surely, you are deep within the heart of Pale Mountain now and near the Xotani's Grave.
The passages center and right appear to end at a river of magma. The left passage ends at a heavy stone door. Before you can discuss your options however, a towering figure with crimson skin, smoldering eyes and large black horns appears before you. It is the same figure that flew past you as you fell into the Scroll of Kakishon- Jhavhul!
Kzrira keeps firing at the massive burning worm that hovers over the shrine, jabbing with a great beak-like head. She is kept on the defensive and her hurried shots offer minimal damage. Amir hovers close upon the rug and spinning to confuse the creature slides Sholeh between stoney black segments. Fortunately, the burning blade is inured to the incredible heat. The creature rumbles in distress.
Kzrira's arrows hit the giant fire worm, but they ignite before they touch causing less harm than expected. Amir swoops down to ward his friend as Karethas disappears from view. Varkata lunges back to her feet swinging the cold black blade. The monster rumbles as the freezing flame wounds it! The Thoqqua slams its burning spear-like head down at Varkata who spins aside taking a glancing blow. Varkata-13 slam
Karethas ibn Faradin wrote:
Ummm, are we assuming that we healed up after the last battle?
Bad time for a crit... Sure, you would have healed up. I'll even say that the healing wands function normally despite the wishwarp. Stored rather than summoned energy. Otherwise, remember that casting requires a DC 18 caster level check (note: you don't add ability score bonuses to CL check)
The wave of lava courses over the low ledge of volcanic stone knocking Varkata over. The priestess quickly rises and calls frozen fire over her sword while Karethas hurls force bolts. The great worm-like elemental curls over and drives its white-hot spear-shaped head toward the wizard. With the force of its enormous mass behind it, it crashes into him, smashing the wizard against the rock! Karethas-35 bludge The rock around him grows sticky from the heat.
again talk, but no action...
Karethas joins Amir on his rug and Varkata jumps on the back of the bronze griffon with Kzrira. The large chamber presents no difficulties to flight and in a moment they land on the far side near the horrible statue. Suddenly, there is a loud clanging from the opposite side of the chamber and the mephit from the entry chamber hovers over a fallen brass gong. He shrugs with a vile smile and quickly retreats into the steam. A moment later, a huge fiery worm-like creature erupts from the molten pool spraying hot lava over the adventurers. Fortunately, they are protected from the deadly heat, but not the molten wave! ref DC 15 or prone.
Know Planes DC 14:
The creature is a Thoqqua, a simple-minded and very hostile elementals from the plane of fire. Their incredible heat can melt metal weapons used against them, but they are vulnerable to cold.
Amir 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (1) + 2 = 3
Karethas 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (15) + 6 = 21
Kzrira 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (2) + 5 = 7
Varkata 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (16) + 1 = 17
foe 1d20 ⇒ 10
The chain of floating rocks are conveniently spaced between 5 to 10 feet apart with a 15-foot leap at the end. Karethas thinks that the floating rocks would not offer much support to a span and with the incredible heat, a stone shaped bridge would not get much beyond a quarter of the way before breaking and sinking.
Varkata Steeleye wrote:
Varkata cast an extended Communal Resist Fire -- 80 minutes each of Resist 20 for the Rogue and Archer -- as we came in?
There was a lot of ooc discussion, but I didn't see a clear go ahead. No prob, we'll start now.
Amir and Kzrira are warded by Varkata's spell and pass through the steam as if it were a mere morning mist. The passage opens to a hellish vision: a broad pool of sputtering lava laps against the walls of a vast cavern. Through the distorting waves of heat and smoke, several rocky islands of various sizes are visible, bobbing on the molten surface. At the opposite side of the searing pool about 200 feet away, rises an intimidating idol of burning obsidian: a large coiled form with a draconic head and rows of scythe-like legs.
The creatures do not seem to need translation and one replies in Kelish. Its voice is loud and mumbling and the mouth does not move from the gaping idiot grin. "We wish only to wait for our Masters' return. Long have they and the Efreet been gone from this place. Perhaps the Efreeti warlord's return means that our Masters will remember us. We owe Jhavhul nothing though and will not block your way if you mean us no harm."
"The Belker was not welcome. It was sent to spy on this back entrance into the volcano. Past the Belker's lair is a shrine of fire and beyond, the way to Xotani's Grave."
Karethas disappears from sight, but his voice is heard offering advice. Kzrira continues firing at the fiendish elemental. Aided by her amulet, the arrows pierce the monster. A moment later, the evil elemental is torn apart by Varkata's whirling wrath.
Amir interposes himself between Kzrira and the trio of strange humanoids. Their bulbous heads rock back and forth as they pause with their backs to the rough volcanic wall. One answers in a language that imitates the rumbling and grating of clashing rocks.
Why are you here?
maybe some diplomacy?
These ill-made creatures are Lava Children. Legend has it that the rough creatures were formed from molten rock by Shaitan to spy on their Efreet rivals. The pink-skinned magical humanoids can pass through rock and metal as mortals pass through air which makes metal weapons useless against them and their claws and large sharp teeth pass through metal armor as if it were not there; water and cold are much more effective.
thanks to Kzrira for remembering her miss chance
Karethas steps away and goes on the defensive as Kzrira swiftly fires into the shapes in the steam. The first arrow hangs as it strikes the belker. The other two fly past. Amir steps back and slashes at shadows. Varkata hits with her icy blade.
The creature keeps after Karethas with vengeful ferocity. A claw rends and wing strikes a glancing blow. Karethas- 6 claw, 2 wing A noise is heard behind Kzrira in the sulfur chamber. Three forms step through the wall. The are rough human, but ill-formed and thick with massive lolling head and gaping mouth.
Karethas- looking for a fort save... nevermind
Karethas save: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (16) + 6 = 22
Amir 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (5) + 2 = 7
Karethas 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (7) + 6 = 13
Kzrira 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (5) + 5 = 10
Varkata 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (5) + 1 = 6
foe 1d20 ⇒ 9
The steam solidifies into a demonic form with glowing red eyes. It lays into Karethas with all its fury. Karethas- 6 bite, 4 claw, 8, 4, wing It is obscured in the hot cloud. 20% miss within 5', 50% miss outside that.
Varkata casts her spell and... nothing more is seen beyond the swirling steam. The party moves forward cautiously into the next chamber. Everyone is protected from the scalding vapor except Kzrira who shrinks back losing sight of the others.
A breathy sibilant rasping is heard near Karethas.
It is speaking Auran: "Are you going to tell me that you are Jhavhul again?" Give me a DC 17 fort save or inhale the burning cloud.
Karethas ibn Faradin wrote:
Did we end up going with the Endure Elements at first? Because this looks like a good place to break out the Resist Energy.
Endure Elements wasn't actually necessary. Varkata is immune, Karethas has Resist 20, Amir's amulet is R5, I think, and Kzrira has the amulet which happens to be currently glowing white, not red...
The ash in front of the left passage appears disturbed by large misshapen feet. Taking the passage ahead, Amir leads followed by Varkata, Karethas and Kzrira (let me know if you have another preference) the passage ascends curving left a short distance until you enter a sulfur smelling chamber which is covered in serpentine trails melted into the rock surface. Deep hiles pock the stone walls, several bearing the wavering glow of incredible heat.
The passage continues, but is obscured by swirling steam ahead.
Beyond the cave-in lies a familiar sight as the passage suddenly widens into a cave. The cavern measures some 40 feet wide by 30 deep. Wisps of acrid black smoke eddy in the eerie light shed by the flickering pale blue flames that pop and hiss from cracks in the cave's floor. A rough flattened mound of lava rock rises from the center of the room with a clay bowl resting on top and long blackened bones cast about its base. Two other passages exit the room. The third passage that led upward to the House of the Beast has been destroyed as marked by the rubble you just passed.
A small impish figure leaps from behind the rock onto the bowl once again. The creature is fiery red with flames licking over its batlike wings and grotesque face complete with horns, long drooping ears and long pointy nose. It shouts something in an elemental tongue that pops, cracks and hisses like the flames around you.
So, you have returned. Why?! You are not welcome.
Gen frowns. Gem? Really, Karethas? Do you see a holographic girl band here? "Ugh. A mephit," she says with disgust.
The Heroes take a moment to confer a final time before Amir leads the way into Pale Mountain. The old rogue inspects his handiwork from last time to find that the traps remain disarmed and that he actually did quite a good job handling them. Varkata recognizes the three-eye gnoll carvings as representations of the evil Goddess of monsters, Lamashtu.
Beyond the trapped passage, the party finds everything pretty much as they last saw it. The stink of the troglodytes still lingers on the scavenged bones that remain from the battle. The coooler passage leading down to the Underdark is passed once again and the warmer upward leading corridor followed until it ends in loose rubble. It takes a little work to push aside the rocks and it is increasingly hot work, but eventually a small hole is made to squeeze through.
What do Kzrira and Amir have for heat resistance?
Gen scowls at Amir and Kzrira. "This is no time for bickering. The dangers ahead are dire indeed. Focus on the task at hand," she berates. She looks more thoughtfully at Varkata, "The wish warp affects the flow of magic. Existing spells will not be affected, but tapping into magical forces by casting a spell may release a trickle or torrent. It will prove difficult to control your spell effects."
All except Varkata recall the path and the rickety bridge over the Pale River and then the dark cave in the buff cliff beneath the carving of a gnoll with bared teeth. Gen sheds the form of a staff to peer forward into the cave, then up through the pines to the towering cliffs of Pale Mountain. "Careful Master, the wishwarp distorts magic here. I also sense that Nefeshti will soon begin her assault. Is this the way that you spoke of?"
Later, Nefeshti draws out a sketch of the battle showing how the genie forces will approach and wishes the others luck before the beautiful form with burning wings steps into the cook fire and disappears.
In the morning, the Heroes quietly make final preparations: praying and memorizing spells or checking weapons and armor a final time. Then Karethas has everyone stand in a circle holding hands and with a word of power bends space so that the group arrives in the woods near where you first spotted the mad gnome-like creature named Bug.
Varkata Steeleye wrote:
Varkata nods, "If the tunnels are too small for the Efreet, that may give us some advantage."
"Unfortunately, Efreet can change their size easily so that will make no difference to them," Nefeshti reveals. "This sounds like an excellent plan though. The attack of the Airlancers and Djinn on the House of the Beast will draw the Efreet upward and you can use these tunnels to attack Jhavhul at the heart while most of his forces are engaged. I have no doubt he will throw all he can at us. His hatred of me is great."
"Make any final preparations. We attack tomorrow morning."
Nefeshti nods thoughtfully. "Jhavhul is the keystone. If he is removed, the Efreet will quickly leave this plane and return to their fiery realm. How to reach him, is the question. He will not leave the mountain and we cannot take the House of the Beast. Unless there is some other way to reach the mountain's burning heart where he hides. The Old Wards and Wishwarp that surround Pale Mountain make magic too risky, but perhaps there is a hidden entrance..."
"I have heard that you've been in the House of the Beast before, when you killed the Carrion King. Do you know of another way into the mountain?"
"I hear that you have driven Jhavhul's followers from Kelmarane," the Peri queen smiles. "Thank you. The town is once again safe, but only so long as Jhavhul pays it no mind. Unfortunately, should he succeed at his vile plans, not only will Kelmarane be lost forever, but I fear Katapesh and Osirion as well. I have searched the Brazen Peaks for allies and found the Simbayan, a lost tribe of Janni Airlancers, as well as the few Djinn who yet dwell in these lands since the zenith of Ipeq's power."
"Our numbers are too few however, and I fear we cannot prevail against Jhavhul's army of Efreet and renegade Jann. We can hold our own in the skies, but once the battle moves into the depths of Pale Mountain, all may be lost."
With a final toast and a few more purchases to finish their supply run, the Heroes complete their mission well before noon. Once again, Karethas bends space to hurtle them over the wide arid grasslands of Katapesh toward the Uwaga Highlands where Kelmarane lies. 1d100 ⇒ 14 They arrive safely at the monastery slightly disoriented and very tired from spending the night hurriedly combing the markets of the great capital city. The sun is slightly lower to the east, but all is well among the refugees and finding that there has not been any contact from Nefeshti yet, the Heroes retire to their private room to rest and recover once again.
It is the evening of the following day that the radiant form of the celestial genie emerges from the kitchen hearth startling Hadra. You meet with Nefeshti in the library to report and plan the offensive against Jhavhul and his forces at Pale Mountain.
oh yeah, Happy Holidays : )
Amir suggests a morning tipple to end a successful shopping expedition. It's quiet at Jerikal's Ales given the early hour, but Varkata observes that it's always a good time to toast Caileann. Amir's queries find that there is a more powerful "priest in a bottle" called Red Cardinal Wine which goes for a hefty 3,750 gold scarabs, but heals the most serious wounds. CSW x5. Blue priest was CMW x5 for 1500gp. there are also remove curse, remove fear and remove paralysis versions
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