5th day of the conjuncture cycle
10 days until the grand alignment
As my previous message indicated, we have reached a lower level of the deathbird's temple by means of a secret tunnel which led us to a hallway guarded by worgs. Taming one and discrediting the other, we are now ready to take on nearby guards. At each end of the hallway are closed doors, only one of which proves to be locked by a very secure lock. It failed to yield to either Lucien or Onari. (I was unaware Onari had such skills and have noted this for the future.)
Moving on, the unlocked door at the other end of the tunnel reveals a room full of goblin guards and worgs. Lucien and Eido attempt to bluff them into going upstairs to aid Clarity (whom you may recall we previously dispatched), but fail. Combat ensues, and luckily Colibri seems to have learned a devastating fire spell, obliterating half of our opponents in one fell swoop. However, we're left with a pack of worgs and a few goblins who are quite determined to defend their territory. We begin to pick them off one by one, but one of the goblins escapes, and there is a significant price to be paid in blood. Both Onari and Eido are downed before we manage to vanquish the final foe. Sadly, we find our various healing resources to be significantly depleted and cannot do much more than awaken our unconscious party members.
A search of the room yields a few scattered coins of little consequence, a ring of keys, and pouches of fragrant herbs worn by each of the goblins. I surmise that the herbs are a training tool for the worgs, allowing them to easily discern friend from foe, so each of us dons one of the pouches.
Given our general condition, we decide that a rest is in order, and we return to the secret tunnel. We dare not take a significant rest, but a moment to regroup and catch our breaths seems prudent.
During our rest, we have a brief discussion to inventory the artifacts we've acquired that are somehow related to the ritual that must be performed during the grand alignment. (Onari insists on calling it "the double eclipse," and then exclaiming, "What does it mean?" What a strange fellow.)
At this time we possess:
- many vials of blood of various types
- the Blood Goblet we acquired from the mirror pocket world
- the animated painting of Kluka which is perhaps most troubling now that we are aware that she may be one of our foes
- the magic coin acquired in Minotaurdûm
- many keys acquired from the Hedgehog Forest's bogs, although…
- we suspect that the key within our dubious ally, Hero's, chest compartment is actually the primary artifact required for the ritual
…and so we continue our search for the deathbird's feather.
Emerging from hiding back to the worg-guarded hallway we find that the room of our previous battle is still empty of combatants, and the locked door is still locked. We try all of the keys acquired in our previous battle and discover that none of them open the door. (I tried to explain to Onari earlier that nobody entrusts goblin guards with anything truly important, but he insisted that one of those keys must surely work.) While debating our next course of action, we hear the door lock mechanism unlock itself. Most curious. Before we can take another action, the door opens, seemingly of it's own volition.
The room beyond is of a strange design. It appears to be a laboratory of some kind with two slab-like work tables in the middle and a viewing gallery around the top approximately ten feet above the main floor. The six goblin cultists armed with swords, and the seven archers placed around the gallery would seem to indicate that a trap has been set for us. This is further confirmed by a loud mechanical sound that appears to unleash two owlbears who waste no time in rushing the door. Moving quickly, we close the door and move halfway down the hallway. After some muffled thumps and scratching at the door, it finally reopens, and at this point things get a bit chaotic. I don't remember all of the particulars now, but as we begin picking off enemy combatants one by one with ranged weapons one of the owlbears closes on our position and the leader of the temple's barbarian allies, Velvet, appears to have switched sides and approaches from behind to lend his aid. (He later informs us that the death cult has betrayed his people and must be stopped.)
However, the true savior of the day is Colibri who appears to have puzzled out, at least partially, how the magic coin works. He asks Onari to retrieve a vial of owlbear blood which he then drops the magic coin into. He holds the concoction aloft and yells, "Owlbears! Hear me!" As the owlbears turn rapturous attention upon him he orders them to turn on their goblin allies. The ensuing fight finds both owlbears slain by the goblins and the few remaining goblins dispatched by a minor effort on our part .
It turns out that the thing upon the slab was likely human at one time, but the poor fellow had been the subject of rather gruesome necromantic experiments. Finding nothing pertinent to our current mission, we put him out of his misery.
Noting that our party's resources are even more depleted than before and being incapable of healing most of the damage we received in this combat, we begin discussing the virtues of a more thorough rest. Luckily, this room can be easily locked from the hallway where we entered, but there is another door in this room, so we will likely have to figure out what's beyond that before seriously considering any sort of rest. Having taken a moment to write this while the party bickers about what to do next, I shall sign off for now.
Until next time,
Yours in faith and Keeper of the Balance,