Sunday, February 23, 2020

Session 84 (19 February 2020)

Note to readers: This is a session re-cap of an ongoing D&D 5th edition campaign set in a loosely adapted version of N. Robin Crossby's Hârn. Previous session re-caps can be found on this blog, and an early journal of sessions 1 through 54, beginning in February 2015, is archived here

In-world dates: 18-20 Ilvin 720 TR [second week of winter]
Daylight hours: 9
Moon: waning gibbous (full moon was on 15 Ilvin)

You are in the Deep Gnome enclave of Djebel (pop. 500), where you meet some old friends: Juan's girlfriend Adompha and the Ivinian warrior Alexandra.

With Cyrkanosh, Djebel's headwoman, at your side, you use your scrying crystal to place a conference call with your various allies:
  • in Cherafir, the Melderyni capital, Andronikos, a member of the Shek Pvar and the Council of Eleven
  • in Azadmere, the Dwarven spymaster Fjola
  • in Evael, the Elf Queen Aranath
  • in Tashal, the capital of Kaldor, the Countess Curo, first counselor to the king
You explain to all your plan to seize one of the Earthmaster teleportation daises and set The Operator to work activating the protocol that will cause each site to link randomly with others, with the intention of preventing your enemies from using the teleportation daises to move their army around Hârn. Your allies give their opinions. Andronikos is in favour of the plan, as are Queen Aranath and Cyrkanosh. Fjola is on the fence: the pros and cons seem balanced to him. Countess Curo is strongly opposed: she fears the chaos that may be unleashed by opening connections to places unknown. A stirring speech by Cade focusing on the lives that will certainly be saved moves her, but does not diminish her opposition.

The allies share what news they have. Countess Curo has received reports that a great black-sailed skyship has been spotted northeast of Minarsas; apparently it crashed while under attack. A mage is being sent to investigate. Andronikos states that Cherafir is cut off by land and sea; ships cannot get out and gargun raiding parties are reported nearby. An attack seems imminent. Fjola announces that the Dwarves' Secret Weapon is nearing completion and should be ready for use within a week. Cyrkanosh's scouts indicate that more than fifty Drow guard the teleportation dais on the shores of the Sunless Sea, along with giant lizards and spiders. The headwoman theorizes that reinforcements would be quick to arrive from the Drow city nearby if any attempt were made to seize the dais.

With all this intelligence in hand, you revise your plans and decide upon a two-pronged approach: while The Operator begins the process of activating the randomized network protocol, you will  investigate the teleportation dais at Pesino, on the western marches of the Elf-realm. You teleport to Cherafir, where you leave The Operator in the care of Andronikos, then to Elshavel, where you spend a night in Gil'Doren's home and gather a team for your reconnaissance en force to Pesino: six Elven rangers from Evael, Mada the street urchin-turned-rogue, several awakened animals and plants; four volunteers from Djebel. Adompha joins as well (her parents were killed by the Drow), as does Alexandra. All told, your company numbers 25.

You Wind Walk to Pesino, arriving in the midst of a winter storm. Rain and sleet lash the deserted landscape. No birds can be seen. You see the massive pyramid of Pesino rising above the plain. What terrors await you inside?

Saturday, February 8, 2020

Sessions 80 to 83 (November 2019 - February 2020)

Note to readers: This is a session re-cap of an ongoing D&D 5th edition campaign set in a loosely adapted version of N. Robin Crossby's Hârn. Previous session re-caps can be found on this blog, and an early journal of sessions 1 through 54, beginning in February 2015, is archived here

This entry marks the FIFTH ANNIVERSARY of the campaign.

In-world dates: 16-18 Ilvin 720 TR [second week of winter]
Daylight hours: 9
Moon: waning gibbous (full moon was on 15 Ilvin)

You are locked in battle with a beholder and several Drow, one of whom holds a knife to the throat of a hostage, Sister Garaele. Suddenly a commanding presence enters the chamber and a sultry, beguiling voice pierces the din. "Dahlings, this struggle is pointless and boring. Accept my offer and your friend's life shall be spared." The Drow priestess Eclavdra swans into view. She's clad in an impossibly form-fitting suit of mail that looks like it was painted on and sports a coiffure of such astonishing intricacy and volume that it could only have been achieved through magic.

You stop fighting and listen.

Eclavdra explains that nearby in this jade monolith lies a teleportation dais of the Earthmasters, akin to the ones you have seen in Telumar, Cherafir, and in the Underdark. This one, however, seems to be guarded by monsters of unknown origin. None of her scouts have returned, and a reconnaissance en force was similarly destroyed. She has no more patience. In return for your service in destroying the creatures and opening the passage to the dais, she will deliver Sister Garaele to you safe and sound.

Horrible guardians
Source: Numenera Discovery, p. 257.
Although it irks you to no end to serve the Drow, you see no better way to rescue Sister Garaele from the clutches of the vile Eclavdra. Following the latter's directions, you proceed through a series of horizontal and vertical shafts to reach the Earthmaster teleportation dais. The chamber seems empty... until suddenly more than a dozen large aberrations with jagged teeth and grasping tentacles swarm towards you with terrifying swiftness. You are put to the test, but in the end vanquish the things with sword and spell. Their blood is spattered all over the place. It smells, oddly, like bananas.

Your task complete, you activate the stone given you by Eclavdra. Her voice echoes in your heads, directing you to the place where you will find Garaele. (It seems the Drow priestess has been following your progress the entire time via a scrying spell.) You suspect betrayal, but Eclavdra is true to her word: you find Garaele unharmed, though somewhat traumatized by her captivity. The hostage in hand, you teleport to safety in Gil'Doren's house in the Sindarin (Elvish) city of Elshavel.

After some rest, you hold council with the Elf queen Aranath. Upon hearing your report, she expresses her fear that the Enemy may be attempting to secure control of Earthmaster sites, perhaps because of the strategic advantages offered by the teleportation daises that are generally found within. They have already demonstrated their ability to use these devices to move their armies around Hârn with incredible rapidity. One such site on the western marches of the Elf kingdom, a place known as Pesino, has recently fallen into their clutches: Elven rangers attempting to reach it have been slain or captured.

You consider investigating Pesino yourselves, but decide first to consult The Operator, the strange cyclopean giant you rescued from Telumar and left for safekeeping near the Deep Gnome enclave of Djebel. His knowledge of the teleportation daises is unrivaled.

The Operator
Using Transport via Plants, you swiftly reach the Sunless Sea in the Underdark where The Operator (who can breathe underwater) resides in the submerged ruins of a city. From Deep Gnome scouts, you learn that the Drow have seized control of the nearby teleportation dais and guard it with a force of troops, lizards, and spiders. Locating The Operator, you use Regeneration to heal its single eye, cruelly damaged by the vengeful Drow when they overran Telumar.

In response to your questions about the Earthmaster teleportation daises, The Operator explains that they cannot be "turned off" or disabled by any means known to him. However, he does know a procedure (a "spell") that will activate all the networked daises simultaneously, causing them to randomly link to other daises in rapid succession. Such an occurrence would render the daises useless for conventional, targeted teleportation; instead, anyone entering the dais portals would be transported to a random location. This spell would take days to cast, and to do so, it would be necessary to have access to at least one networked teleportation dais for the duration of the casting.

You ponder your options. On the plus side, this plan would no doubt cripple any plans the Enemy had of using the daises to concentrate armies of Giants and Gargun on Hârn. On the minus side, it would connect nearly a dozen locations on Hârn with an unknown number of sites scattered across the cosmos. Who knows what poisonous atmospheres, infinite voids, evil powers, demon-infested wastes, and infernal realms might thus gain access to the precious world you inhabit and desire only to protect?  Perhaps this solution will create perils even greater than the one from which you wish to escape.

You must gather information and learn more about the Drow forces guarding the nearby dais. You set out for the Deep Gnome enclave of Djebel, moving swiftly through the tunnels of the Underdark using Wind Walk.  Coming upon three robed figures stalking through the darkness and recognizing them as Mind Flayers, you decide to subject them to interrogation. Stopping to transition to corporeal form, you realize your error too late: the 60-second transformation will render you helpless while the Mind Flayers are free to act. Though Wind Walk gives you resistance to physical damage, you remain vulnerable to their psionic mind blasts.

And so things go badly for you. Most of you are stunned and can only watch with mounting horror as the pitiless illithids hungrily caress your re-materializing forms with their vile tentacles. Those among you fortunate enough to shrug off the psionic attacks mount a spirited defense against desperate odds. The worst comes when one of your foes manages to begin feeding on a brain. Things look dire indeed, but a reversal of fate (i.e., some successful saving throws) turns the tide of battle and you gain the upper hand, slaying your enemies with spectacular gore.

Reaching Djebel at last, you rest and consult with the headwoman Cyrkanosh. You decide that despite the risks involved, networking the daises is the best option. You will seize the Underdark dais from the Drow and hold it while The Operator casts the spell.  But it is only fair to inform your allies in advance. Using the communication crystals you distributed among your allies, you consult with Andronikos in Cherafir, who informs you that the situation there is dire: the city is besieged and an attack seems imminent.  You inform him of your plan and advise him to seal off the Earthmaster teleportation dais in the city so that nothing can pass through it. That done, you begin planning your assault on the Drow-held dais nearby.

Saturday, November 2, 2019

Session 79 (30 October 2019)

Note to readers: This is a session re-cap of an ongoing D&D 5th edition campaign set in a loosely adapted version of N. Robin Crossby's Hârn. Previous session re-caps can be found on this blog, and an early journal of sessions 1 through 54, beginning in February 2015, is archived here.

In-world dates: 16 Ilvin 720 TR [second week of winter]
Daylight hours: 9
Moon: waning gibbous (full moon was on 15 Ilvin)

After looting the dead Drow -- you find an amulet and ring, both non-magical -- you fly back up to the opening of the tunnel whence he fell and cautiously begin creeping forward. Those with keen senses hear faint snippets of distant noises echoing through the vast, bare corridors and smooth vertical shafts that criss-cross the interior of the monolith. Are they voices? Footsteps?  You surprise and dispatch a second Drow guard -- another warrior, with the same sigil on his amulet. You continue your explorations, ascending a shaft and moving stealthily, but perhaps not stealthily enough, for you notice that the intermittent sounds have stopped: you have been heard.  Cade, in owl form, flies ahead to scout and, rounding a corner, is suddenly caught in webs slung by two giant spiders! Transforming into a spider, he quickly makes his escape, but not before noting the presence of a beholder and several Drow. Concluding that the enemy is at hand, you gird yourself for battle. A basso profundo voice rings out, addressing you by name: "Gil'Doren! Dracul! Cade! Maslorius! and you, unfortunate straggler who has joined these would-be heroes! I would parley with you, for I have need of your services... and possess something you would like to have." Concerned, you peer around the corner and see the beholder glaring evilly at you, and at his side a Drow holds a blade to the throat of a human hostage: none other than Sister Garaele, the cleric of lost Phandalin!

Speaking with the foul eye tyrant, you learn that it wants you to destroy several "guardians" that bar the route to a teleportation circle deeper within the monolith. If you do so, it will release Sister Garaele. You ponder the offer and conclude that you can take the group by surprise. Rushing around the corner, you assault the webs blocking the path to your foes; the wizard and barbarian use Dimension Door to slip past the sticky strands and attack from the rear. Roaring in rage, the beholder fights back, pinning Gil'Doren to the war with a telekinetic ray and paralyzing Dracul with another. One of the Drow, meanwhile, pulls the helpless Garaele away from the fighting. Her life hangs in the balance!  To be continued...

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Session 78 (16 October 2019)

Note to readers: This is a session re-cap of an ongoing D&D 5th edition campaign set in a loosely adapted version of N. Robin Crossby's Hârn. Previous session re-caps can be found on this blog, and an early journal of sessions 1 through 54, beginning in February 2015, is archived here.

In-world dates: 16 Ilvin 720 TR [second week of winter]
Daylight hours: 9
Moon: waning gibbous (full moon was on 15 Ilvin)

You creep through the vast, deserted chambers and passages of the jade monolith, a world of smooth surfaces and geometrically perfect planes seemingly cut from a strange smooth semi-translucent material that is stone-like and yet... not. The pool of glowing liquid, you discover, turns any object immersed within invisible... but creatures who dunk themselves are also blinded! (Both effects, however, wear off within the hour.) The pulsating mass of green and black coils of energy is a creature, one that reproduces by injecting parts of itself into a living host. You hunt and destroy it; a Greater Restoration spell removes its spawn from Cade's chest. The giant-sized metallic head you find within one chamber is mounted on a platform with the label VOKTOR written in the Earthmaster's script; smaller writing on the back of its neck tells you it was "Made in Voormish." In yet another chamber you find the ceiling and walls melted and twisted into ruin by unimaginable forces. What do all these strange things signify?

Your explorations lead you to a vast vertical shaft, at least 120 ft in diameter, that cuts through the monolith. No bridge crosses it that you can see, but above and below you detect openings where other passages intersect it. Scouting the lower portion of the shaft on the back of a flying white dragon (the druid, naturally) you come under attack by air elementals and invisible stalkers, but with spell and claw manage to defeat them. Descending further, you can make out the base of the shaft: a tangle of translucent hexagonal columns reminiscent of a giant quartz crystal cluster. But in approaching you pass the opening of a passage wherein is posted a single cloaked white-haired figure who starts in surprise at the sudden appearance of a dragon. A Hold Person followed by a Flamestrike causes the unfortunate Drow to tumble out of the tunnel and plummet 80 feet to the jagged crystals below. Descending after him, you revive the unfortunate Sszdor (for so he names himself) and interrogate him roughly, but he refuses to divulge anything other than his name, his house (Baaenreesz) and his rank (warrior). Realizing that his defiance will cost him his life, he desperately shouts "Eclavdra!" and is quickly dispatched by your hand.

Eclavdra: you have heard the name before...

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Sessions 76 & 77 (4 & 18 September 2019)

Note to readers: This is a session re-cap of an ongoing D&D 5th edition campaign set in a loosely adapted version of N. Robin Crossby's Hârn. Previous session re-caps can be found on this blog, and an early journal of sessions 1 through 54, beginning in February 2015, is archived here.

In-world dates: 14-16 Ilvin 720 TR [second week of winter]
Daylight hours: 9
Moon: full on 15 Ilvin

As you prepare to leave Caldeth's keep with Lady Philisia and her infant in tow, you detect the sound of movement near the entrance; someone has entered behind you! After some prowling about, you come face to face with a robed, masked figure who claims to have entered the keep to investigate trouble after seeing the two gaolers flee in panic from the front gate. Convinced of his good intentions, you outline the treachery afoot in Caldeth's fief. The man, who identifies himself only as "Cleric", decides to join you in your quest to preserve Kaldor from the threat within.

As these introductions are occurring, a Sending arrives from Klor: he urgently requests a conference, stating that Queen Aranath of the Sindarin realm has important information to convey to the allies. You Transport via Plants to Azadmere, location of one of the scrying crystals lent by the queen to faciliate communication and, after an emotional reunion with Klor, contact the queen.  Meanwhile, Cade, traditionally uninterested in palavering, returns to Caldeth's keep: Lady Philisia stumbled and did not succeed in making it through the portal to Azadmere!  Requiring rest before he can cast the spell again, he attempts to entertain the lady by introducing her to his menagerie of intelligent creatures, including a recently Awakened crab.  For Philisia, it is all a bit too much: the trauma of detention, encounters with fiends and aberrations, violence, and now talking plants and animals begins to take its toll on her mental well being. She becomes listless and withdrawn, wondering if this nightmare will ever end...

Back at Azadmere, the scrying crystal hums to life and the Elf queen relays her news. The Elves have discovered activity at the abandoned Earthmaster site of Pesino on their western border: it has been sealed against them. In light of your enemies' various connections with other Earthmaster sites in eastern Hârn (Telumar, Cherafir) and the one in the Underdark near Maslorius's home, Aranath suspects there is some evil purpose at work, some link between their ultimate goal and the artefacts or knowledge of the Earthmasters.  She provides you with a map of known Earthmaster sites on Hârn and suggests you investigate several to see if the forces of the enemy are active there as well. After some reflection, you turn your attention to one of the nearest: Elkall-Anuz, the famed centre of Ilvir-worship and known source of many of the monsters that walk the lands.

But now you must rest and await Cade's return. Klor invites you to take part in a test of the Dwarves' secret weapon: a giant metal construct in the shape of a Dwarf warrior. Powered by some mysterious Khuzan technology, the construct is controlled by a team of pilots occupying cramped cockpits in the construct's head and limbs. Each of you takes up your position, with Klor in the "brain" issuing commands through a speaker tube. Your first test run is underwhelming: the construct stumbles over its own feet and executes an ungainly faceplant. "Hrrumph," mutter the engineers as they set to work on the thing once again.

From Azadmere in the north you teleport to Gil'Doren's home in Elshavel, elven city of the south. Delivering Philisia and her son Quilian into the care of the Elves, you hope for her swift return to health. After another rest, you Wind Walk north toward Elkall-Anuz; here, Izdrel parts ways with you and returns to Tashal to report to Countess Curo and deliver to her the proof of Caldeth's treachery.

It's a rare sunny winter's day as you float across Hârn, fighting a strong headwind. By the end of the afternoon you find yourselves above a great crater-like depression, perhaps two miles or more in diameter. It is strewn with huge boulders and honeycombed with a maze of caves and tunnels; here and there, strange creatures emerge and scuttle about as you skim overhead. A clearly marked footpath extends from the southern edge of the crater toward the centre where a massive jade-coloured monolith rises 200 feet into the sky. A precarious staircase of sorts, apparently made of giant bones glued to the surface of the monolith, winds up from the footpath's terminus to an opening about halfway up the monolith. As you pass by, you see a procession of robed pilgrims making its way along the path.

Your elevated position allows you to see what the pilgrims do not: a giant arthropod stalking the procession. Fearing for their safety, you land and interpose yourselves between the thing and the pilgrims. As the alien monstrosity leaps onto the path, the pilgrims flee in fear, knowing neither the creature's intentions nor yours. A battle ensues, but the thing seems to shrug off your mighty blows and potent spells. Finally, a powerful spell from "Cleric" banishes the insect to its own plane of existence. The pilgrims, meanwhile, have begun ascending the staircase, but are forced to leap across several sections where steps (bones) have fallen away. One judges poorly and plummets dozens of feet to the ground. You rush to his side and revive him with healing magic. He thanks you: "I am Somiator," he says, "a follower of Ilvir, the Prince of the Fatherless Multitude. We must make this climb to be worthy of meeting Ilvir within!" When he falls a second time, "Cleric" suddenly sprouts wings and carries him to safety. His fellows rejoice at his safe arrival: "Ilvir wills it!"

Meanwhile, Maslorius-as-cloud has begun an exploration of the interior of the jade monolith. The passage leading within is a perfectly engineered six-sided tunnel; most curiously, it extends to a distance beyond what seems possible given the outer dimensions of the monolith. (It's bigger on the inside.) The party reunited, you begin exploring a series of strange chambers containing marvelous wonders: a dodecahedral room whose walls are covered in stratified images of incredible realism; a pool of glowing liquid that renders objects invisible; and an eerie mass of green and black coils and strings of energy. What else awaits further within? And what dangers?

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Sessions 74 & 75 (7 & 21 August 2019)

Note to readers: This is a session re-cap of an ongoing D&D 5th edition campaign set in a loosely adapted version of N. Robin Crossby's Hârn. Previous session re-caps can be found on this blog, and an early journal of sessions 1 through 54, beginning in February 2015, is archived here.

In-world dates: 14 Ilvin 720 TR [second week of winter]
Daylight hours: 9
Moon: waxing crescent (full moon on 15 Ilvin)

The beholder introduces himself as Argaphrax to his new "friend" Gil'Doren as he leads the elf into the castle's dungeon. Because of the elf's telepathic bond with the other party members, however, you are aware of the danger he is in. A harsh telepathic ultimatum from Dracul forces Gil'Doren to confront the enchantment fogging his mind; wresting himself free of the beholder's charm spell, he flees back to the main floor, but not before lobbing a potent fireball in his bewitcher's direction.

Reunited in the main hall of the empty castle, you decide to track Argaphrax into the bowels of the castle where has has taken refuge. Making your way down stairs and into the damp gloom of the tunnels below the keep, you stumble across a room filled with implements of torture – and find you are not alone! Ghostly figures float through the room, emerging from walls and exiting the same way. On edge, perhaps, Cade unleashes a fiery attack at the phantoms. They respond by rushing toward you – and into you! Several of you are possessed and begin attacking your comrades, albeit with considerable clumsiness. It might have been comic were it not for the very real inter-party stabbing that unfolds for a few desperate moments. Fortunately, Maslorius is able to keep some of the ghosts at bay with his holy symbol and engage them in dialog. They are, it turns out, the restless spirits of long-dead victims of the earls of Minarsis, Caldeth's ancestors, who have long maintained their rule over these lands through the ruthless suppression of their political opponents and their families. They will not be at rest until their tormentor is destroyed. Said tormentor is not Caldeth, however: it is one of his ancestors, Lord Carmac, who ruled the fief several hundred years ago. Alarmingly, the ghosts reveal that Lord Carmac is still around: they are bound not to disturb him or his minions, Argaphrax included.

Further searching reveals a passage with several prison cells in it. There is a living occupant in one: a woman who identifies herself as Izdrel. She is an agent of Countess Curo, sent to investigate Caldeth's nefarious dealings. Discovered and imprisoned by Argaphrax shortly after infiltrating the keep, she has bided her time. Her gaolers are nearby as well: two wretched humans, one evidently specialized in interrogation. They have been fear-stricken and hiding in a room ever since Gil'Doren's fireball. It's one thing to torment prisoners taken by Argaphrax, but quite another to confront determined and powerful adventurers. Despite your threats, they provide little information: clearly they fear Lord Carmac more than they do you! They do, however, reveal where Izdrel's gear has been stowed. Re-equipped, she vows to assist the party in pursuing your common objective: find evidence of Caldeth's evildoing.

A scribe's room nearby contains what you seek: the records of the gaol. Going back centuries, these scrolls and registers detail the names of the political prisoners seized by a succession of earls and the results of their brutal interrogations. The most recent register documents the current earl's detainment and persecution of several loyal supporters and even officials of the king – irrefutable evidence of Caldeth's unlawful acts. You now have what you need, but you are moved to pity by the deathless plight of the ghosts; you decide to free them from undeath by destroying Lord Carmac.

Lord Carmac
Credit: Maciej Mikolajczyk
The hunt is brief. Alerted to your presence by Argaphrax and several shadowy demons who pass easily through the dungeon's walls, Lord Carmac awaits you, confident that he will easily snuff out your lives as he has so many others. Once again, Maslorius saves your bacon by holding Lord Carmac at bay with his holy symbol, giving you the opportunity to defeat the beholder and the demons before turning to the skeletal knight himself. It's not an easy battle, and poor Maslorius is blasted near to death by the wicked creature's hellfire before your blades and spells bring it down. Dracul gets the killing blow, severing Carmac's tether to this world for the time being.

Your task now: to get the incriminating information back to Countess Curo in Tashal. Other questions arise, however: what will you do with Lady Philisia? Is she complicit in her husband's crimes? And what of the infant Quilian? Who, if anyone, will govern Minarsis until order is restored? And how was Carmac connected to Caldeth's plots and the conspiracy behind the Giant uprisings across Harn?

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Session 73 (12 June 2019)

Note to readers: This is a session re-cap of an ongoing D&D 5th edition campaign set in a loosely adapted version of N. Robin Crossby's Hârn. A journal of sessions 1 through 54, beginning in February 2015, can be found here.

In-world dates: 14 Ilvin 720 TR [second week of winter]
Daylight hours: 9
Moon: waxing crescent (full moon on 15 Ilvin)

You consider your options. A beholder stalks the castle's halls, looking for intruders; for the moment, you remain hidden. Moving stealthily, you explore the upper floors, looking for signs of Caldeth's family and for evidence of his plots against the king. When you find a solar and wardrobe, you realize you are near the family's living quarters — and immediately encounter a frightened young woman who identifies herself as Lady Philisia's lady-in-waiting. She claims that for almost a week now, since Caldeth left for court, a monster has kept Philisia and the earl's infant son Quilian confined to one section of the castle. She has no communication with the outside world; servants bring food to the front gates but leave immediately. When you ask her about Caldeth's private papers, she suggests you might find such things in the "war room" below; she also offers to guide you to Philisia and Quilian. To avoid the monster, you will have to find a way through a locked door that she cannot open herself.

Once at the door, Maslorius sets about knocking the pins out of the hinges. The hammering draws unwanted attention: you hear doors slamming open in the distance. The beholder is hunting you! You prepare yourself, not knowing from which direction it will come. Dracul bars several doors; as he shoves a chair against one, it shudders from some force. He hears a deep grumble of displeasure and then sees the entire door dissolve into nothingness. The creature has found you!

Battle ensues, and the barbarian's Searing Sword does massive damage to the monster, as do Gil'Doren's spells. Meanwhile, Maslorius succeeds in hammering out the final pin. The route to safety lies open — but the lady-in-waiting is not what she appears. Transforming into a winged she-devil, she rakes Maslorius with her claws. Though gravely wounded, the beholder does not relent. You resist many of its eye ray attacks, but at last some take effect. Dracul collapses into a deep slumber; Gil'Doren suddenly finds himself thinking of the monster as a friendly acquaintance; and Maslorius has his life force sucked out of his body. (Only Gil'Doren's quick use of Life Transference brings the poor gnome back from the brink of death.) The succubus laughs and leaves the fallen heroes to their fate.

At the beholder's invitation, Gil'Doren accompanies the monster willingly into the deeper reaches of the castle. Meanwhile, the secretly revived Maslorius awakens Dracul; together, they follow the succubus back to a chamber where Philisia and Quilian are kept imprisoned. The succubus quickly falls before Dracul's rage. Ordering them to stay put for the moment, you rush to follow Gil'Doren and save him from whatever vile plans the beholder has for his new "friend"...