Robbie, like those mischievous little buggers that ate that kind old lady's gingerbread house, begins to mark the area around the pathways back to the city with stones and breadcrumbs so that the huge tunnel that leads back to the cities gates will not be accidentally be walked past should we return this way again.
After he has finished, he starts to complain about the state of his boots, and that he has now decided to not walk on them anymore, and so contemplates aloud about summoning a horse to traverse the terrain. Others put him off the idea though, as we could potentially have long drops and thin ledges to cross, as none of us manage to carry each other across a puddle, let alone a horse across a 100 foot gap.
Food is also discussed -its bad enough feeding ourselves at the moment, without another (horse) mouth to feed, which brings us nicely once more to tales of the succulent pig, and the lack thereof. The conversation is quickly killed off by Beard though, as he points out that he would much rather feed Robbie's magical horse with spells rather than Agador, Rallets or Moomin.
Discussing our options, we decide to head for the red glow, following the wall to the left, and begin to clamber over rocks and rough foliage as we move, but not an hour after dinner we come across an old ruined building. The walls seem to be made out of the same rock that is around the area, rough and bland looking, and it looks deserted and empty.
The structure appears to be a shrine, with mostly broken statues in the forecourt, and pretty much all of the walls are at most 10 feet high, the roof obviously collapsed in on itself a long time ago. We move closer to investigate, climbing over the low walls, with Agador and Robbie flying above high above us glancing around for trouble.
Rallet's stealthily moves to look at what appears to be a well with broken side walls, and Agador high above him warns the scout as he approaches, as he is sure he saw some movement within, causing Rallet's to wisely stay back as Agador hovers closer to the opening. He then rummages in his pack, produces a light-stone and drops it down the well, but see's nothing before it ‘plops' in a body of water far below.
Rallet's, moving backwards away from the well, turns to move towards the nearby statues, but as he does, he crosses my line of path, and asking him to move on provokes a little disagreement. During this, two ghostly figures appear from the statues, flying straight at the pair of us, and attack, thankfully missing.
Robbie and Agador react the quickest to two more un-dead ghosts that appear and head directly at me, and fire Magic Missile as they close in. I manage to side swipe one of them, but the other hits me. Beard hits one with an arrow, but an attack from Moomin's dagger whip does not. Orko casts Ghostform, disappearing from view, and Rallet's taking a brief look about himself, tumbles and escapes, leaving me in the middle of 4 Spectres - a very bad situation indeed. Luckily, I still have a Ethereal spell left, and I have no shame in leaving the battle as I am already weakened, and sink into the ground.
Agador moves in after casting haste on Moomin to aid his attacks and possible escape, and Robbie fires more Magic Missile. With their prey gone, three of them turn on Moomin, and he is very badly attacked, their draining attacks sapping memories and strength, and deciding discretion is the better part of valour, he also bravely runs off.
The spectres split up and go after party members hovering around the walls. Beard is attacked, taking a hit from a ghostly touch, but misses his own return swing, and Orko once more ‘unleashes his load' towards Beard, missing his intended target of the apparition with Cold Orbs.
With the attacks from people scattered and not concentrated on any one target, the four Spectres are still about, and with everyone quickly moving around, it gets harder to control the situation. Orko, Agador, Beard, and I are still left in the area, in my case admittedly hidden with little intention to return until the buggers are gone.
Agador casts a fireball, but miscalculates his maths - I am sure even the most Intelligently challenged of the party could have easily pointed out that if he remembered correctly, a Reuleaux Triangle's envelope boundary is governed by the segment of the ellipse following parametric equations, and therefore he would not have made such a glaring error, and the fireball would not have missed both of the Spectres nearest to him. Robbie shows him how it is done, as a barrage of Magic Missile burst into a Spectre causing it to wink out of existence – hurrah!
Another of the Spectres heads after the group fleeing the area, and Orko tries to disintegrate one but again nearly hits Beard instead, who takes the time to stop mid swing against the Spectre before him, get the pencil and little black book he has on a string hanging from his pack, and with a stern look, puts yet another black mark next to Orko's name.
I appear in the material plane high in the air and Flame Strike Agador and the 2 Spectres surrounding him, but those wily Spectres avoid the flames and are untouched, while Agador gets blessed by the holy fire of Gorm, having any sins burned from him.
Hordex stands firm against the Spectre next to him, but sadly misses with both swings, while Robbie Enervates one, failing to realise that he has in fact made a serious error, and ends up bolstering the un-dead instead. Beard is struck by a Spectre, but the funny Elven amulet protects him, giving him another reason not to return it to the careless Elves who mislaid it in the first place.
The two I flame-struck come directly for me, and I am hit badly again, their touch icy cold and intense pain emanating from within my head. Orko casts Chain Lightning on two of them, but one is not hit, while the second seems to only momentarily be stopped.
Not being able to do anything further, and knowing that staying = death, I use the backup to my backup escape plan, and with a quick prayer to Gorm to ensure that I have got my item creation sums correct, snap my fingers bringing forth the dagger from my new Gauntlet of Storing, and with a command word, Dimension Door away.
Robbie kills his second with more magic missile, meaning only two are left, with one moving closer to Rallets, while the other disappears back into the well. Rallets is hit, and staggers back into the area by the ruins, followed by the last spectre moving in for the kill. Beard moves to heal him, while Agador steps in front of Rallets to try and draw the attack, and with sword and spell, runs the last one off as it to follows its brethren back into the depths of the well.
When the party finally meet up with one another after their various escape methods, we continue travelling on for another hour before stopping and a rope trick is used to protect the afflicted lads. While in the dimensional space, Robbie torments Rallets with a spectral hand, and there is a repeat of the ‘..you are rather ineffectual in your chosen role', this time directed at the Clerics, mainly because the pair of us cant actually turn un-dead very well at all.
In the morning, both Pellet and Hordex say that they will scout ahead, taking a different route, and will meet us back at the entrance to the path back to the City, and with a cheery wave they head off. The cheery wave is done by most of the party except Robbie, who simply says "..don't come back too dead."
Orko replenishes my Dagger by casting Dimension Door into it, meaning that I can get away again if I need to, and with everyone all back to full health, we move on with our travels.Following the wall once more, we come across a cave, a very large hole in the wall, but decide to continue the way we are heading, towards the red glow, and so mark it on our map.
The day passes without incident, and another Rope Trick prevents mishaps in the night as well. Starting the new day we continue onwards, and the red glow gets brighter as we move closer. By mid afternoon, its getting a little warmer, and there is definite volcanic activity in the area.
The terrain is very rocky, with small lava pools, and Robbie takes this opportunity to take a large dump behind some rocks. While waiting for Robbie to return, Agador and Orko are suddenly hit by black tentacles, and both are dragged towards discoloured rocks, which suddenly move and large mouths appear in the centre of them.
Robbie from behind his rock calls out "Roper attack!", but only after he has pulled his troo's up and scrambled away, just in case he was actually relieving himself on one of them. Agador simply ignores the tentacles and strides forward attacking with Finslayer, while Orko drops to the floor with all his strength gone. Moomin is then picked out as the next target, being struck repeatedly and losing some of his strength as well.
Orko, sensing its not good to be helpless before a creature that appears to be one big rocky mouth tries to Dimension Door away, but the spell fails and his weakened fingers cannot perform the proper movements required, and he is dragged closer forward to the gaping maw.
Beard draws his bow and shoots the one dragging Orko, and a Lightning Bolt from Robbie also strikes it. Although well placed and strong enough to pass the beasts innate spell resistance, Robbie remembers that lightning bolt just does not work, and the Roper continues dragging its prey onwards. Moomin also becomes monged, clattering in a heap on the floor, and I step in to club the beast, giving Orko the chance to teleport away safely.
Moomin is dragged in and bitten, but even lying horizontal on the floor, flails his arms around to whip his attacker, his weapons merely scratching, but still hurting the rocky monolith. Rallets shade has made an appearance, and is draining strength very well, contributing more to the party than his master, and Beard finally kills the roper that once had hold of Orko.
I move to attack one holding Moomin, while Agador, fighting alone, kills his and moves towards me, flanking the last Roper. The creature tries to move off, shooting some tentacle attacks at Rallets, and catching its prey, drags him in. Beard fires off a perfect arrow shooting the creature in its open mouth, and then perfectly drops his bow. I finish him off – the Roper, not Beard, with a fine strike from my spiked club.
Dragging both Moomin and Rallets away from any strange rocks in case more ‘awaken', they are both healed by me and Beard. We then continue on our way, Orko gracefully letting the others take the healing spells, and continues on with low strength. We soon come across a huge glowing rift which seems to spread for miles, with heat shimmer distorting the distant view, and we continue on until what we believe is nightfall.
The next day is spent walking along a huge ledge, a mile wide, and Rallets scouting ahead calls a stop. When asking him what is the problem, he replies "Its about 3 in the afternoon, and we seem to be attacked now more often than not," and draws his weapons getting ready, for anything that may happen.
There are scoffs of ridicule at Rallets plan, but the Scout merely waits for all of about a minute, before the rest of the party nervously laugh, but also draw their weapons. Nothing happens this time though, and the rest of the day is spent as usual, trudging over rocks and around in-passes, either high rocks or low crevices.
Another morning passes, and during the late afternoon we suddenly realise that our relentless trudging has taken us well past the red glow which was quite obviously the large rift full of lava we passed the day before. We stop to decide whether to continue searching this area or move back, when we hear the clatter of pebbles moving, and then two large rocks roll down onto Beard and Moomin.
It is here that Orko is christened ‘Pocket Apocalypse', as he unleashes a massive spell attack of cold onto the rocks, while the rest of us look on, chattering teeth and frosty bearded. Beard, angry, strikes the rock with his claws, while Agador hits at one with Finslayer, both with limited effect, while Rallets' Shade, like its master, has no effect at all.
The rocks then mysteriously change direction and roll back over the pair, while Robbie calls words of encouragement "…they don't mean any harm…" as it crushes them quite badly again. Rallets, seeing the beating that the others are taking, and wanting none of it, climbs his first wall, and even manages it correctly, prompting a small ripple of applause. And by applause, I do mean that special hand gesture of holding thumb to forefingers and vigorously shaking the wrist.
Orko continues his Pocket Apocalypse barrage, by flicking through that special part of his spell book entitled ‘loudest spells I know' and unleashes Orbs of Cold on the rocks. He is misguided however, and blasts me instead, leaving me like a stroke victim with a half frozen grimace. With a quick apology, he looks at his hands in disbelief at his poor aim, and then detonates the next set of frozen orbs into his own face. Genius.
The rocks roll around again, once more catching Beard and Moomin who have not made it far enough away from the oversized evil pebbles. Everyone begins to attack the rocks with weapons and spells, but nothing seems to be fairing any better than anything else, and with Pocket Apoc's spells getting louder and larger the party are spreading further and further apart from each other so's not to caught in the collateral damage.
The ground suddenly forms a slope from the floor to the rocky wall, and Rallets, safe and sound half way up the said wall, has time to mutter "…oh crap," before a rock rolls up the ramp and smashes into him. He drops the 15 odd feet to the floor, broken and crushed, and then the other rock rolls over him for good measure.
Our blows seem to be working, but they just seem to all be just that bit too superficial, and so we decide to leave the area. Beard starts to Wind Walk back towards the fissure to check it out, and we quickly move away from the bloody things, moving to an area where we will wait for Beard to report back.
Orko, taking a brief moment in which he blasts nothing at all, tells us that the rocks "…are actually spells of some sort, perhaps a trap? I think…."
He does not finish the sentence however, as he suddenly turns to stone and plummets to the floor. There is a brief moment where people think "What the…" when Robbie also plummets to the ground from his location as well. The rocks have gone in the commotion, either disappeared or blended into the scenery, and the rest of the party quickly gather the statue lads and fly off sharpish.
Meeting up with Beard a short time later, we decide to head back to the city to find out what we can do, and so the statues are dumped gently into the Portable Hole along with Moomin and the shade. We then all Wind Walk back through the large cavern, find the passageway surprisingly without the aid of Robbie's bread crumbs, and once back at the City, knock loudly on the door.
When the doors are opened, we head back to our house, and within the hour, Beard is speaking to the new king, discussing how to turn them back. The ‘them' in question have actually been left outside while other members of the party arrange plants around them. It is decided for us to Teleport back to the surface, where we head towards a large city, well outside of the area of Harranshire. Myself and Agador are the ones to go shopping in the new city, gathering potions and salves, and I pick up some more scrolls – no, not the disease.
Pooling what little cash we have left, we buy enough for the two doses we need, plus some more should we encounter whatever turned them into stone in the first place, and with a quick wave goodbye to a carefree life and proper toilet area's, we head back to the caves.
Wind Walking and Teleportation spells later, we get back to the city, and dragging the statues inside, prepare ourselves for their recovery. Beard and I help the two with items, by adding my magical vest and Beards belt in an effort to help bolster each person's chances from being brought back to life, which in rare cases can be very harrowing.
Orko is the first to receive treatment, and once our magical items are added, the salve is then applied. The change is instantaneous – the area where the cream was applied quickly spreads, the golden colour returning as the poultice works its magic. Orko twitches a face muscle as the colour hits his cheeks, utters a little whispered moan and then his eyes roll up into his head and he keels over dead. Hmmm.
Robbie, his eyes seemingly alive within his statue form can make no indication whatsoever, and really wants to cry out "…leave me alone, I am sure I will get better one day.", but watches in silence as the buffoons before him dress him in little boy clothing, and rub him with mud. Again the ointment works very quickly, and Robbie begins to feel life pour back into his limbs. His colour changes from stone to flesh colour, and with a gasp like a half drowned person breaking the surface, he collapses to the floor, but very much alive and well.