Adventure 1: The Wizard's Request
Broxar Thralk of the Yellow Eyes assembles our heroes into a group and sends them, against their will, through a portal to some far corner of time and space to locate and bring back a mysterious suit of armour.
The party of new adventurers make their way through a confusing and deadly series of vaults guarded by fearsome clockwork monsters. At every turn they are stepping over the bodies of those that preceded them.
They find the body of Rufflod, a rogue from their distant past and in another chamber they find his head, along with many others, kept alive by machines.
Rufflod joins the party by having his head transplanted onto the shoulder of one of the heroes- just until he can find a permanent home. He whispers sage advice to his new host in times of need.
Eventually the band of tired and bleeding travellers locate the armour only to find that it is the life-support suit of an alien space traveller. They revive this traveller and he joins them. They name him Clank and together resolve not to return to Broxar Thralk but to journey to the city of Kor and find Xixthur, a legendary god in a bottle that confers immortality since Rufflod holds the long lost key to his hiding place.
Adventure 2: The Ruins of Kor
Arriving at Kor the party finds it a ruin inhabited by feral swarms of starving, ghoul like scavengers who in turn are preyed upon by bands of cannibalistic brigands.
The whole place is also overrun with rats and rat men.
The heroes' attempts to reach the remains of the royal palace are thwarted time and again until they find the werck of an ancient Radimorian flying car which they manage to coax back to life.
It's final flight takes them to the remaining part of the palace that is not in ruins, a single tower surrounded by a strange magical barrier.
Adventure 3: The Palace Tower
Armed with the Diadem of Candara, Immortal Queen of Kor, the party makes its way through the rat and cannibal infested ruins of the city of Kor to the single tower of the palace that still remains standing in an attempt to find the magical door that the diadem unlocks, They believe that the door leads to Xixthur, Candara's legendary god in a bottle that kept her young and alive for thousands of years (before an unfortunate run in with a demon ended all that).
Breaking through the magical barrier that surrounds the tower by exploding the failing power core of their salvaged Radimorian flying car they make their way into the tower via a balcony.
The rooms that greet them are covered in deep dust and show the effects of a fierce magical battle.
Moving forward the party trigger dormant but still powerful circles of protection and summoning that cover the floor in a haphazard overlapping pattern bearing witness to the frantic struggle that happened here millennia ago.
Fiery guardians appear and attack them.
After a fierce battle the summoned guardians are extinguished.
There is the sound of thundering hooves and the braying bellows of some creature echoing from the depths of the tower so, after careful and studious deliberation, the heroes decide to see what's upstairs.
Making their way up the tower and circumventing more magical barriers by climbing the outer wall in places the characters reach the top floor where a mummified figure sits in rotting robes surrounded by many (very active) circles of protection.
To their astonishment the figure is alive. They find themselves conversing with the ages old Merdoramon the magician, slayer of the Eberteen Shackleminds, a sorcerer from fabled Radimore in Tharia.
Years ago Merdoramon travelled to Kor from the distant past to try and obtain Xixthur when it was last seen- at the point when Candara died.
He was not alone in this quest however and he found himself battling Kylwyrrwn a rival wizard who unleashed a terrible demon which stalked and battled Merdoramon through the palace wreaking havoc and destruction in its wake.
Unable to kill the demon Merdoramon trapped it in a magical labyrinth he conjoured beneath the palace where it still rages while Merdoramon spends what little energy he has left keeping the magical barriers in place.
Both have existed in this state for thousands of years.
The heroes agree to enter the labyrinth in order to learn the true name of the demon. With this information Merdoramon can finally banish it from the world.
The labyrinth is a confusing maze of passages and small rooms linked by portals. The horrifying sound of the demon can be heard echoing here constantly. The labyrinth is cloaked in darkness and the party expects the demon to rush upon them at any time.
It isn't long before the characters find themselves in a room and the demon appears through another portal. The demon hasn't seen anything or anybody in millennia and the heroes look new and interesting. It decides to eat them.
A titanic battle ensues with the fighters struggling to contain the demon long enough for one of the wizards to determine its name with the old and not-too-reliable wand of Identifying the Infernal Hosts that Merdoramon provided them with.
Eventually the demon is floored (but not killed, it cannot die) long enough for the wand to work and, armed with the name Azthamur, the heroes flee back to the top of the tower with the demon in pursuit. What a shame Merdoramon had to drop his barriers to allow the players access to the labyrinth, now there's nothing keeping the demon in.
Merdoramon successfully summons Eldrak, fiery lord of the Seven Hells who admits his responsibility for Azthamur and returns with the demon to his home.
Now the heroes are free, with the help of Merdoramon, to finally locate the door they seek.
Wait a minute, who's this woman and why is she surrounded by hordes of big rats?
Next: The Court of the Rat King
Adventure 4: The Court of the Rat King
The woman accompanied by the big rats turned out to be the Rat Queen. She, like the heroes, has part of the key that will unlock the mysterious door, and she knows where the door is.
The door is in the Court of the Rat King, her sworn enemy and rival for control of the rats in Kor.
The party agrees to clear out the Rat King and his cronies and meet up with the Rat Queen when the Rat King is dead, together they will combine their keys and open the door to Xixthur.
The Rat Queen leads them safely through the ruins of Kor to the entrance to the Rat King's Court.
After a quick scuffle with some human followers of the Rat King in a cellar the heroes descend a ladder into a reeking, filth-ridden passage leading to an ancient crypt.
Despite the ominously green glowing altar the party boldly enter the crypt and slaughter some undead rats that are feeding on the remains of the ancient bodies piled in alcoves.
Then one of the wizards, levitating to avoid the filth, examines the altar. Finding several knobs adorning it he "twiddles them like nipples" and the green light from the altar pulses brightly.
In response the ancient bodies filling the crypt begin to arise.
The skeletons keep coming despite the efforts of the fighters who are soon knee deep in bones.
Eventually one of the priests in the party neutralises the altar and the threat is over.
In the next crypt more giant (but at least not undead) rats lurk but web spells seal their crawl ways blocking the arrival of reinforcements and the ones in the room are soon killed.
At the far end of a short passage (where the heroes find a treasure map to the long lost Tomb of Kandakore) lies an entrance to the Rat King's Court.
The Rat King bites and scratches at the party and uses his putrescent gaze to floor some of them with virulent disease. His rat swarms cover the heroes in a seething mat of stinking fur and sharp teeth. More and more rat swarms flood into the room in answer to the Rat King's calls.
Some of these new swarms attack the characters and some join with the rat King adding to his mass and replacing his losses. The Rat King doesn't seem to get any weaker no matter how many times he's struck with swords and arrows.
Eventually more web spells seal the rat tunnels and the reinforcements stop arriving. Finally the Rat King starts to succumb to the damage it's taking and weakens.
With a final scream it dies and the remaining rats break and scatter attempting to hide from the characters.
With the danger past both the Rat Queen and Merdoramon arrive on the scene.
The secret door yields to the gems in the party's diadem and the Rat Queen's ring and reveals a small alcove containing a portal that leads to Candara's summoning room.
The room is full of her spell books and magical artefacts but there is no sign of Xixthur, the god in a bottle that kept Candara alive and young for 10,000 years.
Two clay human figures on a table give the heroes pause for thought but they are concentrating on finding the whereabouts of Xixthur so they don't bother with them too much. This will prove to be a mistake.
Eventually the hiding place of Xixthur is revealed and the god in a bottle is found in a secret cupboard.
Its healing rays instantly mend the heroes' wounds and fatigue and even Clank is made whole again so he can shed his life-giving armour for the first time in eons. There's no denying that Xixthur is everything that was claimed.
The two clay figures take on the appearance of Tor Domnus, king of Urgal and his sorcerer Kylwyrren who have been secreted beyond time and space in a pocket dimension waiting for Xixthur to be found.
The powerful duo immediately launch a ferocious attack on the party.
During this fight the Rat Queen and Merdoramon vie for possession of Xixthur with Merdoramon triumphing.
As Tor Domnus and Kylwyrren finally fall to the heroes a blackness gathers in a corner of the room.
Abathon is here,
Sensibly the party scuttle into the protection of Candara's ancient summoning circle to avoid the wrath of the demon while the Rat Queen and Merdoramon attempt to flee.
Merdoramon doesn't get far and is 'convinced' by Abathon to hand over Xixthur.
With the god in a bottle in his possession the demon leaves.
Well, the heroes didn't get their god in a bottle but, weighed down with artefacts and treasure, they head off to their next adventure happily enough.
Adventure 5: The Amber Charm
“An amulet of awesome powers. It must be delivered to Themas Herklar, who is regent in the land of Phalkar.”
Given the choice between delivering the mysterious amber charm or using the map they'd found to locate and rob the fabled lost tomb of Kandakore the party decided that delivering the charm would be the quicker option and set about getting to Phalkar.
The Owl vortex inexplicably deposited them in the town of Sfanol and not in the capital Alkarion. Here they discovered that magical travel to Alkarion was blocked and that Themas Herklar had been imprisoned by his two wizard advisers Elviriom and Thalkalides.
In his place these two miscreants had installed a creature of their own making on the throne. A magical youth named Unus, made with chemicals and other matter which they shaped into human simulacra with their demoniac arts, with the aid of Belthamquar the father of demons and Thelonia his mate, who breathed life into it.
Elviriom and Thalkalides are now systematically eradicating all other wizards and necromancers from the kingdom.
Phordog Fal, a local wizard befriended by the players, is explaining this sorry situation to them when undead agents of Elviriom and Thalkalides attack him in his home.
The heroes save his life by destroying the attackers and Phordog Fal flees for his life.
The heroes go to see if the other wizard they met on their arrival here is alright but arrive too late to stop a demon, Shokkoth of the Red Spheres, from gravely injuring him and destroying his manse.
The party fights Shokkoth of the Red Spheres amidst the burning remains of the wizard Zoqquanor's workshop and eventually banish him.
During the fierce battle Zoqquanor's body floats off to a nearby cave where strange machinery of the 'other men' attempts to revive it by using the rejuvenating properties of fluids siphoned from a captive serving girl.
The heroes intervene and rescue the girl.
They also defeat the demonic servitors of Zoqqanor who turn up with more captured girls in case their fluids are needed too.
After this short interruption the party heads off to Alkarion along the main road to the capitol. Their interference has brought them to the notice of Elviriom and Thalkalides who send their undead slayers after them.
After fighting off the assassins the heroes make their way into the city past guards both human and demonic. They bypass sentries and magical defences to infiltrate the palace and descend to its depths where Themas Herklar is being kept prisoner.
They free Themas Herklar and make their way to the throne room where they launch a devastating attack, supported by the loyal palace Leopard Guard, against the two scheming wizards and their demonic construct.
The battle is quick and bloody. The two evil wizards are felled by fireballs and magic missiles whilst Unus is hacked to death by the fighters. His fabled 'gaze of death' doesn't claim even a single victim.
Themas Herklar regains the throne of Phalkar, accepts the gift of the amber charm (although he knows nothing about what it is or where it comes from) and rewards our heroes with wealth, land and titles.
Thus ennobled, our now aristocratic adventurers head off to rob the lost tomb of Kandakore.
Adventure 6: The Tomb of Kandakore
The party found a map to the location of the lost tomb of Kandakore whilst skulking about in the Rat King's court.
"Gods, maybe there is something to the old tales, after all. I suppose you’ve heard them, that Kandakore empowered Ebboxor, who was his mage, to build his tomb well and hide it, then mark its location on the skin of his favourite slave girl."
Determined to open the tomb and strip it of its long-hidden treasures they travelled south by owl to Tharia and the haunted ruins of the city of Phyrmyr.
Using the map they located the entrance to the tomb beneath a statue of Kandakore.
They made their way into the tomb.
Through the burial chamber and into the hidden treasure room.
Where everything started to go wrong. There was another secret door here, a huge one that radiated magic and evil.
Without warning the floor collapsed and tumbled the party towards the new door. The first two adventurers that hit the door vapourised in an instant. Everyone else managed to halt their fall by bracing themselves against the sloping floor and rubble.
The Eidolon that had been following the heroes as a passive observer suddenly sprang to life and, bracing itself against the secret door, began to grow in size all the while shouting out the name of Belthamquar, the father of demons in an ever louder voice.
The tomb began to disintegrate around the party as the Eidolon grew and pressed against the walls and its voice shook loose the stone blocks of the ceiling.
The heroes fled for their lives finally reaching the surface again with two of their number unconscious.
After some introspection, resting and healing the reduced band, on the advice of both Bathophet and Belthamquar who turned out to be quite helpful demons despite their reputations, set out to raise the spirit of Afgorkon the ancient mage who had probably foreseen these events millennia ago and would be able to give them some advice.
They chartered a ship from the port of Zoane and set out to recover the lost tablets of Afgorkon from the sunken remains of Hatharon, the city of Afgorkon's birth. These tablets, they were sure, would allow them to commune with the spirit of the long dead wizard.
Reaching their destination they sent down divers to retrieve the tablets they sought.
The divers never returned. Instead the writing arms of some monstrous denizen of the deep surrounded the ship and began to pluck the crew from the deck and drag them beneath the waves.
Furiously the fighters hacked the arms apart as fast as they appeared and they seemed to be making progress against the onslaught when the monstrous head of the Kraken broke the surface and sounded its bellow of rage. So fearsome was this sound that everyone who heard it felt their very bones crumble.
A silence spell from the quick thinking wizard ended this threat and forced the Kraken to move in to physically attack the ship.
As soon as it was in range one of the fighters leaped onto its head and slaughtered it with a barrage of mighty blows.
With the Kraken gone it was an easy matter to retrieve the tablets from the remains of Hatharon.
Following the instructions on the tablets the party returned to Phyrmyr and located a lone tower where the summoning ritual was to take place.
As the long ritual began clawed ones, ethereal yemli who haunt the deep desert, flocked to the tower seemingly bent on stopping the ritual.
The hordes of desert spirits were successfully kept at bay by the fighters and the wizard completed the summoning ritual.
The spirit of Afgorkon once again inhabited his Eidolon and spoke to the heroes.
Afgorkon explained that Kandakore had built his tomb on to one of the antediluvian tombs of the Izvoreni. He reiterated the threat of the Golems of Meaning and the need to deactivate the other tombs before the Golems arrived and destroyed the world.
The heroes agreed to enter the nearby tomb which was dormant thanks to the actions of Kandakore and Ebboxor his wizard and learn what they could about the tombs and their occupants. Later they would have to enter the four remaining active tombs so any information they gleaned now could help them in the future.
Entering the time tomb the adventurers were faced with many strange and unsettling things not the least of which was the sheer size of the structure that seemed to exist outside of time and space.
The found broken devices including a strange 'proto-head' on a plinth and imaging devices that were no longer functioning.
Finally, deep within the tomb they came across a huge sarcophagus and the mummified body of the Izvoreni.
It tried to destroy them but in its weakened state it was no match for the party who sent it to its final rest.
Returning to Afgorkon the heroes realised the tomb had posed more questions than it had answered. Why had they fought a giant mummy when the Izvoreni were not even humanoid? What would the proto-head do in an active tomb? With all those imaging devices would the tombs even be recognisable when they found them?
Afgorkon offered what help he could. He gave them pointers to the locations of the other tombs before returning to his timeless sleep.
As the party headed home they left behind them the Eidolon of Afgorkon, once again lifeless, standing in silent vigil atop the lonely desert tower.
Ahead of them lay a journey to the Yellowing Wizard's Tower and an appointment with the Long Dead Future Men...
Adventure 7: The Yellowing Wizard's Tower (Part 1)
Following their information regarding the whereabouts of the remaining time tombs our heroes made their way to the famous Yellowing Tower of Antor Nemillus, mage and necromancer to Midor, King of Sybaros since it was nearest.
They entered the tower despite not having enough of Antor Nemillis' mysterious discs and found themselves exploring a well appointed house full of curios, books and other interesting items. Every floor contained an identical statue of a wizard.
Downstairs, at the foot of a dusty flight of steps below the servants' quarters and the cellars they found a magically locked door, the Door to Yesterday.
The whole place was deserted but the wizards and priests could feel their magic being slowly drained from them and instances of a black emptiness invading this reality were spotted in several places.
One unlucky priestess came into contact with this Void and was changed permanently into a crystalline being. She took this philosophically however, treating the increased armour points as a benefit rather than a curse.
The tower seemed deserted but on two occasions strange, dishevelled figures were spotted rummaging in rooms. These people fled immediately through peculiar irising metal doors that appeared in walls to admit them and then disappeared without trace.
Upstairs, at the top of a flight of steps that led up from an attic was the remains of the Door to Tomorrow. This was surrounded by the Void that had consumed it but the heroes were able to make their way through unscathed.
They found themselves in a strange house of wondrous machines. Outside they could see through the large windows a great city of the 'other men' in the distance and strange craft sped across the land and the sky.
There were still the strange wizard statues dotted about though and the dishevelled people were spotted again.
It didn't take the investigating heroes long to realise that there were not many identical statues of a wizard at all but rather a single one that was following them around the tower.
Deciding he had drained enough magic from the intruders Antor Nemillus made himself known and transported everyone across time and space to the home of Omorphon the cosmic snake of power.
Attempting to seal a bargain made previously with Omorphon Antor Nemillus offered the heroes' lives as payment for the power to rid his tower of the Void.
Unsurprisingly the adventurers were resistant to this idea and an argument soon devolved into violence.
Once Antor Nemillus was dead (no easy feat) Omorphon seemed uninterested in the party and they returned to their own reality back in the tower.
Moving ever upwards the party came to the Door to the Fullness of Time which they could open with Antor Nemillus' keys.
Beyond this door were vast rooms of metal full of active machines and strange lights and noises.
They found a large group of the dishevelled people here. These were the Long Dead Future Men captured and turned mad by the crude methods Antor Nemillus had used to extract their knowledge. Freed by the Void they were attempting to return home.
Their madness made them hostile to all other life and they set their newly built Atomic Death Robot to destroy the heroes.
Fighting for their lives against creatures they didn't understand the valiant fighters stormed forwards and set their steel against the ray guns of the lunatics from the future.
After a swift but trying contest the Atomic Robot was brought crashing down. Unfortunately its atomic core overloaded and a blast of heat and radiation swept the room. The strange radiation did little to the heroes but the Long Dead Future Men were transformed into hideous mutated cybernetic being as their remains were fused with the machinery lying around.
These new foes sorely tested the party for a while but proved very susceptible to magic and were soon all asleep or dead.
After tending to their wounded the heroes continued exploring.
In another vast room they found the Long Dead Future Men's escape rocket, fuelled and ready for launch.
Clank was sure he could pilot it...
Next: The Yellowing Wizard's Tower (Part 2)
Adventure 7: The Yellowing Wizard's Tower (Part 2)
Everyone piled into the rocket and Clank seated himself at the controls. Inexplicably nothing seemed to work, were all the controls just for show?
Nevertheless despite the controls not working and the rocket not moving the scene outside the port holes had changed.
the rocket was now standing on a barren moonscape of grey rocks and dusty soil. Mountains rose in the distance in all directions.
The brave explorers exited the rocket to have a look around.
As Yarth itself rose above the horizon its light reflected off something a long way away behind a ridge.
The party set out to investigate.
They hadn't gone far when the ground around them erupted and swarms of large worm things attacked them.
Despite defending themselves fiercely two party members were dragged below the surface to an uncertain fate.
Splitting their attention between killing the remaining worms and trying to stop their comrades from disappearing forever beneath the surface of the moon the heroes were caught unawares as more, even bigger, worms appeared on the scene.
Things were becoming serious.
A whirlwind series of attacks from the fighters (including an unlikely amount of critical hits) and some very effective offensive spells from the wizards soon restored the status quo and the party was able to rest and regroup surrounded by the diced remains of the worms.
With their armour repaired and weapons sharpened they set off once again towards their goal.
Cresting the rim of a crater they looked down on what had reflected the light from Yarth. It was a huge cube of black stone or metal (who could be sure which?).
This confirmed their suspicions that they had indeed entered the tomb of an Izvoreni and were experiencing the setting the tomb was generating. Clearly this was influenced by the Long Dead Future Men and the heroes wondered to what extent the Future Men's insanity would affect what lay ahead.
Entering the cube the explorers were confronted by Mr Moon, a strange head on a plinth. Behind Mr Moon was an airlock door leading deeper into the tomb.
Mr Moon responded to the heroes' presence by summoning a pair of large moon worms and striking out with his own lunar rays of madness.
The fighters engaged the worms, the wizards attacked Mr Moon, the thieves attempted to disable the mechanisms in the plinth and the priests did their best to remove the maddening effects of the lunar rays from afflicted friends.
Chaos reigned for a few minutes with afflicted friends attacking friends, others falling stunned and some just collapsing into helpless, insane fits of laughter.
Eventually however the heroes triumphed. The worms were killed and Mr Moon was deactivated.
The party stepped into the airlock.
Beyond the airlock was a strange world indeed.
The heroes knew they were in the inner chamber of the tomb and needed to locate the sarcophagus in order to slay the Izvoreni.
Cautiously they moved forward through the alien landscape searching for some clue as to its whereabouts.
As the fighters entered a stand of peculiar trees they were immediately set upon by a flock of strange creatures who flapped and squawked at them violently.
Startled by this sudden attack the fighters responded by slaying two of the creatures before they realised that they weren't very dangerous and were only defending their nest.
The fighters backed away but stopped when they realised that the noise of the attacking Walnusians had attracted more creatures which emerged from the yellow pools and sat watching them.
Further back by the entrance other party members had disturbed odd blue creatures that were lurking in the tall grass. These blue meanies swarmed over the remainder of the party biting and clawing.
This new disturbance brought more of the yellow toad things to investigate.
The wizards started casting silence spells to calm things down.
The blue meanies were fought off and retreated and the walnusians had calmed down a bit so Tonkatsu, one pf the priests, tried to communicate with the tooth toads to see if she could find the location of the sarcophagus.
This proved so interesting to the toads that more appeared including some really big ones.
This might not have been so bad if the curious thieves hadn't chosen that moment to prod some of the strange, spore-covered plant things with a stick.
Immediately the spores exploded and a cloud of yellow dust filled the air. One of the thieves was incapacitated immediately and the other retreated badly poisoned. As the wizards and priests hurried to save the victims the cloud spread and one of the small tooth toads fell down dead in its path.
The large toads attacked immediately. Leaping across the intervening distance in a single mighty bound they landed amongst the party and laid about them with their massive teeth.
The fighters hastily returned to their friends and set about fending off the enraged beasts.
After a hard fight the toads were dead but several adventurers were also out of action. With no spells left and wounded comrades the heroes retreated back into the airlock to attempt to rest long enough to heal up and restock.
After a suitable break the heroes headed off into the strange landscape again. This time they were careful not to disturb anything.
Eventually they spotted something they hadn't seen before, a huge eye in a rock.
The thieves examined the peculiar rock and determined it was a machine, almost certainly the sarcophagus of the Izvoreni. Unfortunately despite their best efforts and the brute force of the fighters they could not get it to open.
Finally they managed, with the aid of Clank's flashlight, to trip the switch and activate the sarcophagus.
The angry Izvoreni burst forth and attacked the heroes with its considerable physical and psionic abilities.
It died of course. It was blasted by spells and ripped apart by the blows of the fighters and thieves even though it seemed to be getting stronger as the fight progressed. It didn't have nearly enough time to reach its full power and potential and the party learned another fact about the Izvoreni- kill them quickly!
With their mission accomplished the tired adventurers retraced their steps all the way to the Yellowing Wizard's Tower.
They knew the next tomb lay far in the past so they used the key to Yesterday to descend the floors of the tower until they passed through the Door to Long, Long Ago and emerged from the tower 60,000 years into Yarth's past.
Time to find Merdoramon the magician (again).
Next: The Ebeteen Shackleminds
Adventure 8: The Ebeteen Shackleminds Part One- The Cellars of Radimore
The party headed off to Radimore in Tharia to find Merdoramon whom they had last seen in the ruins of Kor 60,000 years in the future.
Radimore, perhaps the oldest city on Yarth, was the focal point of strange powers. In the heroes' time tales are told of Radimore, that it had been the home of those people who first worshipped the dark god, Pulthoom. It was the birthing place of all magicians, for it had been there in the subterranean cellarways of that city that magic first came into being.
Arriving at the house of Merdoramon they found him missing and his servants worried. Merdoramon had not been seen for eleven days.
Searching his study the adventurers found merdoramon's notes on the Ebeteen Shackleminds, the apocalyptic Cinderwar started long ago by the Biogomorrhans which caused the destruction of one of Yarth's moons andthe worshippers of Pulthoom who inhabit a Black Church in the cellars beneath Radimore.
Fearing the worst they set off into the cellars to find the missing magician.
The heroes made their way into the cellars and located the huge cavern excavated centuries before to hold the Black Church.
The church itself was surrounded by the shanty towns of the many worshippers that flocked here from all over Yarth and guarded by the hooded members of the Cult of Pulthoom.
Desperate to see what was going on inside the church the party explored the surrounding passageways and eventually the two thieves made their way on to the church roof from a hole in a chamber above the cavern.
Horrified they watched the cultists attempt to send pilgrims to their god via a dark flaming portal powered by human sacrifice.
There was no sign of Merdoramon and the heroes decided that if he was alive he would be being held in the crypts beneath the church.
Most of the passages beneath the church had been barricaded or caved in to prevent access. To the east the party found a barricade that they could pull down. They also found a shaft leading to a far older cellar in which was a strangely clothed skeleton mostly buried under a rock fall.
As the heroes brought in torches to better light the room strange ghostly creatures attacked the torch holders and extinguished the lights.
Finally finding a way to communicate with these strange beings the adventurers learned they were travellers from another wold who had been stranded here when the Hyper Light Highway they were using to cross the interstellar distances between stars had been interfered with.
The party learned that the cultists in the church above had been misusing a conduit to the Highway for centuries. The cultists who managed to access the Highway were all driven insane by the experience although some did manage to return to Yarth (often years after they departed) and some of the returnees even managed to bring items or knowledge back with them from wherever it was they ended up.
Another Highway traveller, Pulthoom himself, had brought with him the knowledge of magic to Yarth long ago and the followers of his teachings had started the magical study group that had degenerated into the present day cult.
Promising to help the stranded travellers if they could the party resumed their search for Merdoramon by breaking into the church crypts.
As they neared their destination one of the thieves disappeared in a flash of light, He was gone without a trace.
The heroes correctly surmised that he had inadvertently activated the conduit to the Hyper Light Highway, but how? Maybe the strange suit he had taken from the body under the rockfall had something to do with it?
Worried for their friend but realising they still had a mission to complete the party continued to look for Merdoramon.
They located him along with other captives and set about freeing them and directing them back to the surface.
Merdoramon refused to leave however. He had come here to get the Hood of Pulthoom a holy relic of the cult that hung behind the altar in the church. Merdoramon needed this ancient artefact to aid him in his coming struggle against the Ebeteen Shackleminds.
In for a penny, in for a pound! The heroes, covered by invisibility and silence spells made their way into the church where the sacrifices were continuing.
As the heroes were making their slow way through the packed congregation proceedings were interrupted by the return of a cultist from the Highway. The cultist was followed by a hideous, red, monstrous creature with big claws and lots of tentacles writhing from its mouth.
The creature was holding the bodies of other cultists and the missing thief.
Surveying the room it made a bee line for the invisible adventurers, crushing cultists beneath its huge feet. Despite their best efforts it gathered all the heroes up and began sniffing them and tasting them with its mouth tentacles.
Eventually communication with the creature was established and it informed the party that it could smell the taint of the Izveroni on them. It demanded to know why they were tainted and seemed relieved when it learned they were busy shutting down the time tombs.
The creature struck a bargain with the heroes (did they have a choice?). In return for them delivering an Izveroni Starcophagus it would give them knowledge of powerful magic.
Satisfied with this bargain the creature departed.
Mission accomplished the heroes returned with Merdoramon to the city above to prepare for the journey to the Haunted Lands to confront the Ebeteen Shackleminds.
All except Clank. In the far future when he'd met the party the Hyper light Highways were long gone, destroyed by an alien entity. Here they still existed and Clank could now use them to get home.
He bid a sorrowful farewell to his friends and left on his own quest.
Adventure 8: The Ebeteen Shackleminds Part Two- The Haunted Lands
"The Haunted Lands lie between the Pits of Koforal and the poisonous swamps of Illipat. All men of Yarth hate and fear the Haunted Lands, there are devils and worse in those mists that seep eternally from cracks in the rocks and crevasses in the ground, and that come down from the very clouds to add their moisture to the rest. A wanderer might make only a weak fire in that wilderness of tumbled stone and gravelly ground. It is a dead, barren world, and what little vegetation grows there is sparse and stunted, and oddly distorted.
Past a huge boulder that bears cryptic carvings, put there by a hand that Yarth has long ago forgotten, lie the remains of the Biogomorrhans, instigators and final victims of the Cinderwar.
Somewhere deep within those giant petrified heads that litter the landscape lurk the Ebeteen Shackleminds weaving their wicked plans and hatching their plots that will doom mankind."
-An ancient guidebook to the southern continent of Yarth
Rested, re-stocked and ready to rumble the party piled into Merdoramon's air car and set off on the long journey to the Haunted Lands.
So shunned were the haunted lands that no owl statues were positioned within a hundred miles of them so the final part of the journey was spent flying high over the stinking, insect-ridden swamps of Illpat.
Unfortunately for our heroes the Ebeteen Shackleminds sensed them coming, discerned their intentions and reached out with their minds to pluck the air car from the sky.
Frantic spell casting saw everyone down safely but the air car was lost below the weed covered waters of the swamps. The adventurers found themselves in a cloying, stinking, dangerous environment with a long walk ahead of them.
Merdoramon was alarmed to discover that, although they stood up to their thighs in swamp, they should already be in the much drier Haunted Lands. He surmised correctly that over the years the swamps had encroached into the Haunted Lands bringing with them a mass of new genetic material for the Shackleminds to experiment with. Things were far more serious than he'd feared.
As the party moved forward, gingerly leaping from one patch of dry land to the next they began to be shadowed by strange wisps of vapour with glowing eyes. More and more of these things appeared keeping pace with the heroes but staying out of reach.
Suddenly they moved in, attaching themselves to their victims and wrapping them in their strange bodies that resembled animated spider webs.
As the combat intensified huge spiders began dropping from the trees, attracted by the commotion. Soon the swamp was blazing and ringing with the sound of steel as fireballs incinerated the web wisps and swords cut down the spiders.
Merdoramon declared the web wisps to be manufactured life forms. The Shackleminds were sending their creations to test the mettle of the party. Worse would be in store.
A few hours of exhausting trudging brought the heroes to another feature of the swampy Haunted Lands. A huge pile of dung, swarming with flies and other creatures, some alarmingly large blocked their way.
Some of the heroes were desperate to investigate the giant turd but eventually wiser heads prevailed and the party back tracked and took a longer way around avoiding both the dung, the insects and whatever might have produced such a mammoth pile in the first place.
The spider webs were getting more numerous too.
More trudging along followed. More insects, more heat, more smell. Everybody was engrossed in their own misery when danger struck again.
Some of the adventurers wandered off away from the others, their minds clouded by alien thoughts. Before anyone had noticed the erring heroes were entangled in webs and swarms of pale baby spiders were scurrying all over them.
As their friends moved to help free the stricken heroes they too were swarmed by the hideous masses of crawling horrors and worse, large adult spider started appearing, drawn by the commotion and disturbances to their webs.
The fireballs started flying and the blades started stabbing. Arrows filled the air and still the spiders kept coming. Driven by the alien intelligences of the Ebeteen Shackleminds controlling them the arachnids still swarmed forward even with their bodies on fire and their legs crisping under them.
Things were looking grim. One of the fighters succumbed to the venom of an adult spider and fell, apparently lifeless, to the ground. The priests were having trouble keeping the other fighter and the thieves on their feet with their healing spells and there was still no let up as a second wave of spiders appeared.
But, at the end of the day, our heroes are heroes and they don't give in to despair. Drawing on every ounce of their experience and cunning and plumbing the depths of their strength and endurance they began to turn the tide and slowly, ever so slowly, the number of spiders began to diminish.
Finally it was over. They had won and everyone had survived albeit by the skin of their teeth. The party's luck was literally used up. The poisoned fighter was horribly disfigures, most of his face missing- torn away by the fangs of the spider but at least he was alive.
Stumbling the last few yards the party emerged from the swamps to be confronted by a huge mound of gigantic petrified heads- the lair of the Ebeteen Shackleminds!
What horrors awaited them inside?
Adventure 8: The Ebeteen Shackleminds Part Three- The lair of the Ebeteen Shackleminds
"The Ebeteen Shackleminds stand together but you must find the one who stands apart."
After a careful study of the mound of petrified heads the heroes counted ten possible entrances all covered in thick webs. Picking one at random they cut away the webs and made their cautious way inside.
They found themselves in a vast chamber formed by the ancient skull. Patches of light pierced the gloom from cracks and apertures overhead and the uneven floor was rent in places by upthrusting spires of native rock and vegetation. The air was stale and unpleasant, the reek of spiders permeated everything.
Dotted about the space were some peculiar hexagonal plinths covered with moss and, far off in the gloom, a mass of what looked like eggs could be seen.
Cautiously the adventurers advance further.
Two of the heroes went to investigate the eggs triggering a flood of small, luminous baby spiders whilst one of the thieves took a careful look at the nearest plinth.
The eggs and the baby spiders were instantly incinerated. Their dying screams prompted an adult spider to drop from the shadows above on to the group by the door but this was put to sleep and butchered before it could do any harm.
With the room cleared of living threats the heroes turned their attentions to the plinths. The thief determined they contained hidden machinery and worked out a way to turn one on.
Hungry Joe the fighter was brave enough to volunteer and see what would happen if a plinth was activated. He clambered on top and pressed down where the thief indicated.
Instantly both Joe and his companion who was holding his safety rope disappeared.
They were both teleported to a plinth in another head. This head held more plinths and more spider eggs but, since it only had a single exit and led nowhere, the two quickly made their way back to the others without disturbing anything.
Keeping an all round watch for more spiders from above the party headed for an exit that looked like it led further into the mound of skulls.
The next head contained only a single plinth but there were many, many more spider eggs and a large spider near the centre of the room. As soon as the party appeared the spider launched itself at them in a blindingly fast attack.
As it reached them it seemed to split apart and morph into some hideous, crazy hybrid of spider, man and...something else.
Despite its fearsome appearance it was soon chopped into pieces by the expert sword play of the fighters whilst the wizards ignited the vast carpet of eggs with fireballs.
This prompted hordes of screaming baby spiders to erupt from the eggs fleeing the fire and adult spiders to drop from the roof to aid them.
All of these were stabbed, stamped, and otherwise beaten to death.
Moving onward the next head repeated the pattern but with one difference. There was a hole in the floor leading to another head below. The blocking webs were soon burned away and the party descended.
It was much warmer in the lower area and the air was heavy with the acrid smell of the spiders but there was something else too, a sense of menace permeated the area.
There were many plinths here and many more spiders. The adventures prepared to go into their well rehearsed routine to clear out the arachnid infestation when they were stopped by the plinths beginning to twist.
The plinths spiralled around and out of their tops emerged the great green heads of three Shackleminds.
The Shackleminds regarded the human interlopers with utter disdain and proceeded to launch a barrage of psionic attacks that felled one of the fighters and left two of the three wizards as drooling imbeciles, their mighty intellects stripped from them like unwanted rags.
Only Merdoramon, safe in his helmet of Pulthoom was unaffected and he fought back with a volley of offensive spells.
Meanwhile, as the priests desperately tried to keep the fallen fighter alive and restore the minds of their friends, the two thieves moved silently through the deep shadows to position themselves out of sight behind one of the creatures and the remaining fighter launched a frantic frontal attack at another.
The Shackleminds proved to be physically weak and vulnerable. Caught unawares by the ferocity of the attacks they were suffering they struck out again with their minds but it was too little, too late and one of them had its skull crushed before it could do any more harm.
Returning to consciousness, Hugh waded in to the attack as well and a second Shacklemind was slain.
The third one didn't stand a chance. Within minutes it too was dead and the recovering heroes began to clear the room of spiders.
As they took a short break to regain their breath the heroes discussed their next step. Eventually it was decided that they should try and use one of the plinths to teleport around the mound of heads to avoid unnecessary encounters with more spiders which, whilst easy enough to overcome, were draining the party's resources.
So resolved it wasn't long before they found themselves in another chamber with four Shackleminds (and thankfully no spiders) and battle was joined.
The party had been told to look for the odd Shacklemind that wasn't like the others but they hadn't been able to determine which one this was (can you spot it?) so they attacked all of them even though they were far from certain of victory.
By chance, Hungry Joe's target was the Shackleminds' main brain and, despite it's best efforts, it swiftly fell to his sword.
The instant this Shacklemind was killed the others disappeared and the plinths exploded showering everyone in the room with razor sharp shards.
As the echoes of these explosions were still ringing in the weary heroes' ears a wall was shattered inwards as the huge bulk of the Spidermind erupted into the room.
The Spidermind- the next step in Shacklemind evolution. A genetic melding of Shacklemind, spider and...other things. The first of the unshackled minds, free to move about the world and spread terror in its wake.
It blasted the party with its psionic attacks, it withstood the blows of the fighters and thieves and the spells of the wizards. It crushed those around it with its flailing limbs and vast bulk. Scuttling this way and that it raged and shrieked and the heroes quailed before it like frightened children.
For a short while anyway. Then, buoyed by the favour of their gods, saved from death countless times by the swiftness of their limbs and the strength of their armour, they cut it, they hacked it and burnt it and ruptured its flesh with destructive spells and, finally, it died, wailing its remorse for its unrealised destiny.
Standing amidst the carnage the heroes looked around for their next challenge...
Adventure 8: The Ebeteen Shackleminds Part Four- The third tomb
It was clear that the tunnel confronting our heroes was the entrance to the third Izvoreni tomb. Confident that any threat from the Shackleminds was over the party rested for a time to recover their stamina and resolve and then set off once again to confront their destiny.
Emerging from the tunnel the adventurers were confronted by a nightmare landscape. Mutated plants and creatures existing among the derelict remains of strange technology. The air smelled alien, loaded with spores, toxins and peculiar odours . Breathing was difficult.
Rock spires jutted from the ground in odd places and everything was covered with peculiar mosses and vines. This was the world of Yarth with the Biogomorrhans' plagues let loose upon it.
It wasn't long before the party spotted things moving in their direction.
Giant viruses swarmed over the ground to attack the party. Many were destroyed but it wasn't long before several of the heroes were suffering from horrendous debilitating illnesses and horrific disfigurations.
The viruses were being generated by an even larger and more complex virus. The wizards teleported one of the fighters next to it and the messy work of hacking it to pieces began.
Meanwhile the priests and wizards were kept busy dispatching the virus swarm and curing their comrades of their afflictions.
Once the virus threat was neutralised the party moved forward again. they could see their destination, the cube that contained the doorway to the inner tomb, on a tall promontory overlooking an uninviting lake a long way off. Avoiding further virus hazards they eventually made their way to it.
Inside the heroes were faced with the now familiar guardian head and behind it the entrance to the inner tomb.
The head was a strange humanoid creature that Merdoramon identified as a Biogomorrhan (although much reduced in size).
The doorway was a grizzly affair that moaned and twitched restlessly.
The party rushed the head. The fighters attacked it frontally whilst the thieves moved around the back to try and dismantle the machinery in the plinth.
The guardian fought back, freely blasting its attackers with quick acting plagues and diseases. It summoned more of the giant viruses to aid it. The priests were kept busy counteracting the effects of the many illnesses whilst the wizards blasted away with spells.
Eventually the head was disables and the chest cavity in the wall behind it widened a little to allow passage. Despite its accommodating widening it was still a messy and unpleasant transition for the heroes.
The world of the inner tomb was even more of a nightmare than the outer tomb. It was a jumble of spires and platforms floating or standing in a seething sea of corruption, The party was only offered glimpses of the strange creatures that inhabited this sea but those were enough to warn them that entering it would be fatal.
Keeping to the dry land they pushed on though the dense vegetation towards a pulsating spore thing that was pumping out strange gasses high up on a rocky pinnacle. They correctly assumed this was the starcophagus of the Izvoreni.
Without warning the vegetation around them seized several party members and dragged them into the gaping maws of the nearby 'trees'.
The party reacted violently and the resulting commotion lured swarms of disgusting ticks out of hiding. As the heroes fought to get their friends free of the clutches of the angry plant life the blood sucking insects swarmed all over them adding to their pain and misery.
All the while the spore thing kept pumping out its gasses.
With the tree and the mites finally disposed of the party turned their attention to the problem of reaching the spore.
They decided that since they couldn't easily get to it, it must be brought to them. Consequently the wizards set to turning the rocky support it was perched on into flesh.
Unable to support its own weight, the fleshy spire collapsed into the lake and the spore/starcophagus fell to earth.
The heroes sent one of the wizard's familiars forwards to scout for danger. It hadn't crossed half the distance to the spore before something unseen crushed it to death.
Seconds later two of the party were also struggling for their lives as something began to constrict them, threatening to crush them too.
Realising they were beset by invisible dangers one of the priests put on her Goggles of Seeing the Hidden and gasped in horror at what they revealed. Giant disembodied black hands were scuttling unseen towards the heroes.
Forewarned is forearmed and the wizards set about making their new enemies visible so that the fighters could go about their work unhindered.
The hands were not easy to kill but could be driven off. To their horror the party watched as retreating hands merged into bigger ones and returned to the attack.
Realising their danger the heroes changed tactics and began to immobilise the hands instead. Unable to combine the threat of the hands was finally neutralised and the adventurers turned their attention to the spore.
Realising they had no easy way of opening it the party set about blocking the gas vents. Sure enough the spore began to grow and stretch as the pressures inside built up. The heroes retreated to a safe distance and waited for to to blow.
Blow it did and the Izvoreni emerged. This time it took the form of a giant common cold germ. Undeterred by this the heroes stormed forward knowing they had to defeat the Izvoreni quickly as it got stronger each turn.
The battle was fierce and, as expected, filled with copious amounts of disease and disfiguration. None-the-less it ended in favour of our heroes. The magic sword Frostfire proving particularly efficacious in dispatching entities from the end of time.
With the Izvoreni dead the tomb returned to its neutral 'blank slate' setting. The starcophagus retained enough residual energy to still resemble something the adventurers could identify with however and the wizards set about summoning Pulthoom to claim it in accordance with their earlier agreement.
Pulthoom was very pleased and gave the wizards two more spells never before known on Yarth for their trouble.
Both parties happy, Pulthoom left for wherever his home was taking the Izvoreni starcophagus with him and the heroes returned to radimore in Tharia for a well-earned rest before their next adventure.
No sooner was the Kraken killed than another, larger creature appeared.
This one proved to be friendly.