Session four was good fun - and strangely enough featured more hireling deaths than monsters, which has to be a first. PCs present:
- Jason, playing Mixahâm Straji, a 1st level magic user
- Patrice, playing Dragosta, a 1st level fighter
- Luke, playing Andy, a 3rd level fighter
The session began with the introduction of a new character, Dragosta, to replace the dead Marm Jo'a. Dragosta is a female barbarian type, with a chain-mail dress and a shield decorated with huge horns. She has gambling debts of 7,000 gp, which is why she needed to join the party.
Initially Andy was not present, so it was just Mixaham and Dragosta, the hirelings Christina, Procopius and Menelaus, and the river pirates Evangelios, Diogenes and Hector. Having reached a natural break in the action from last time, with the Temple of Cronus having been ransacked and a nice reward received as a result, Mixaham and Dragosta decided to investigate nearby caves, known as the Worm's Mouth, which they had heard about from Yokomosok during session one.
They left their cart, and amassed gold, at the Temple of the Elements, and headed off to the cave, which stands at the end of a rocky ravine or chasm. Entering, they managed to clamber their way up a steep scree slope with the help of a lasso, and then investigated what appeared to be a dwarf-made chamber above. Almost immediately they disturbed some creature or creatures which made a horrendous loud chirping or squeaking sound. But they also found some doors. Picking one more-or-less at random, they found it to be locked. Procopius was ordered to barge it down, which he duly did; he then charged through, fell down a flight of stairs, and landed in a heap at the bottom.
It seemed that there were creatures down the stairs, in the darkness, so Dragosta followed. She too slipped on the stairs, which it appeared had been covered in some sort of grease or oil, and fell to the bottom, suffering a minor injury. She looked up and saw two kobolds in the room, menacing them with spears.
Mixaham still had two doses left of his spider climb potion, and used this to clamber into the room by the walls and ceiling, avoiding the grease. The kobolds, seemingly having no stomach for a fight, turned and ran in to another chamber. After the PCs and hirelings had gathered together beyond the greasy stairs, Dragosta, Procopius and Menelaus charged after the kobolds. They found themselves in a room with a murder hole above them, through which two kobolds emptied a large bucket of scorpions, right on their heads. Dragosta made her save, but both Procopius and Menelaus were stung, choking to death on their own tongues.
Dragosta fled back to the others and she and Mixaham hatched a plan to use the spider climb potion to get up into the murder hole and surprise the kobolds. Dragosta slipped inside and killed one of the kobolds in short order; the other meekly surrendered. After numerous threats and clear lies, they were able to get from the kobold the information that there were about twenty kobold males in the caves, plus a number of females, and they were led by a chieftain called Ho El and a shaman called Yezakal. They worshipped a god they referred to as the Mighty Grishnack.
There was no apparent entrance to the murder hole except through the floor, but they also managed to extract from the kobold that there was a secret entrance. They then threw the poor creature to the scorpions and, once this was done, used Mixaham's staff to clear away the scorpions to allow the hirelings to all climb up and join them.
They then tried to open the secret entrance, but found out it was a one-way door which could not be entered through the side they were on. But they also found that there was somebody in a room behind it. Initially, Mixaham (who can speak draconic) tried to pretend he was a kobold, but this wasn't persuasive, so he and Dragosta hit on the plan [DM's note: I was astounded at this] to try to stir up all the kobolds so they would come and attack the murder hole.
This failed miserably, as the kobolds were indeed stirred up, but laid siege to the murder hole instead. With everybody up in the hole it was clear that the group were completely stuck - the kobolds could just starve them to death if they really wanted. So Mixaham and Dragosta decided the only option was parley. They offered to turn to the worship of Grishnack if Yezakal and the other kobolds would let them live. Yezekal and Ho El, instead, offered to let them live if they would go and destroy other creatures who lived in the caves, which they referred to as water demons, who pull unfortunates into an underground lake to drown, then feast on their souls.
Mixaham and Dragosta saw no alternative but to agree, and pledged allegiance to Grishnack and surrendered their weapons and those of the hirelings. The kobolds proved true to their word and allowed the PCs to come down from the murder hole and then reclaim their weapons.
At this point Luke, Andy's player, arrived, so Andy (having been there all along, of course), was able to chime in. The PCs were clearly of the view that they needed to find some way to get out of the caves without having to fight any water demons. They hit upon the idea of pretending they were going to the distant town of Koriszegy to buy a huge amount of salt to pour into the underground lake. The kobolds agreed to this if they left a hostage, and they ended up choosing poor Hector. [DM's note: I rolled a dice for this and was extremely disappointed that it didn't end up being one of the PCs] The deal was that if the PCs did not return within a week with their salt, Hector's throat would be cut. Hector, naturally, begged his boss, Andy, to return.
There was some debate about whether to just run off and leave Hector to his fate, but eventually the PCs came to the conclusion that they ought to at least investigate the possibility of killing the water demons. (There was also considerable discussion of how to come back and get revenge on the kobolds, but they realised they had hired all the hirelings available in Riverfork a few weeks ago, and there were unlikely to be enough left to take on the kobolds, who it seemed also had at least four giant weasels.) They realised that they were on good terms with the Temple of the Elements, who would surely know something about water demons.
The next day they headed back to Riverfork and to the Temple of the Elements. There, they met a sage called Karpi, an expert on elemental water. He surmised that these 'water demons' could be killed either through freezing whatever lake they were in, or casting purify water on it. Either way, it would take a wizard of considerable power. He also reckoned that the 'water demons' had either been summoned by some evil priest or druid to guard something, or the lake which they inhabited was a place where the Elemental Plane of Water nudged up against the Prime Material. He also told them that if they were looking for a wizard of sufficient power, they might ask the Three Faced Wizard, whose tower was three days to the North across dangerous terrain.
The Three Faced Wizard was somebody the PCs had heard of before, and Mixaham had already made it one of his goals to meet this famous archmage. So he was keen to go. Andy was also of the opinion that he owed Hector his loyalty and ought not to just leave him to be killed by kobolds. Dragosta, on the other hand, needed some persuading as to why they needed to risk so much in the name of a hireling. [As Patrice put it, that's like going to find God and then, when you meet him, asking for a good recipe for minestrone] But ultimately he agreed that it might be worth going to meet the Three Faced Wizard anyway.
And at that logical break, the session ended. A lot of negotiation and parlaying this session, and not so much violence. A nice change of pace. Tune in next time for, it seems, an encounter with the infamous Three Faced Wizard.