Athene and I look around dumbfounded at our shrunken companions.
Mhad determines that this otherwise mundane spell effect, was cast by a master Wizard and cannot be undone for some time.
There’s nothing to do but move on and adapt.
Behind double doors, a passageway leads a large hall, glowing with eery firelight. While we hold position, Athene turns invisible and scouts ahead.
When she reappears she slumps down retching.
She describes a room with an enormous cauldron on the boil, from which a living mist emerged and engulfed her, the cause of her current affliction.
She goes on to describe an equally huge, suspiciously inert statue, most likely a construct of some kind.
Conna’s intelligence has been woefully inadequate
Waiting for Athene to rally, we move into the room.
Exactly as described, the hall is dimly lit by the glowing embers, beneath a cauldron over 10 feet tall, scraps of bloody flesh, sizzling amongst the coals.
And the stocky, towering frame of a Golem… waiting.
We skirt the wall in an attempt to avoiding waking the creature, but that, as it turns out, is both futile and the least of our worries…
The second we step a foot in the room, red and green vapours tumble out of the cauldron and toward us with clear intent and a groaning hiss.
The foul gase overwhelms us.
Moriavia and Wynter are immediately stricken and incapacitated, both as green as Athene and Blind as well!
By* Iomadae’s* grace, Athene and I are unaffected and we charge the Golem, indeed, already lurching into life.
I strike the massive construct and in answer, he stomps the ground. A kind of magical shockwave rattles my teeth and clouds my mind.
Head ringing, body numb, it’s all I can do to swing my sword.
Thankfully Athene is unaffected and she downs the Golem.
His effect on me however, remains…
Smoke now filling the room, everyone but is either staggering blind, retching or dragging their feet, a cascade of curses in affect.
We must topple the cauldron- But how?!
Even with our enhanced strength it’s enormous.
Then an ungodly wailing sound from the passageway behind us- What now!!
Wynter comes skittering out, yelping, fur singed.
Moriava, pale faced backs out, stumbling blindly, her Roc hopping behind.
Mahd is half way across the room but blind as well.
And then I see the creature that drove them out!
Another construct, made from huge iron plates that pulse and writhe as if alive. Its prestigious metal belly, with a jaw of bear trap teeth, glowing from within with the heat of a forge.
That thing will make short work of us in this state!
I need to hold it off until the others can get to safety.
Still slowed by the Golem, like moving through molasses, I arrive just in time to block its advance.
Head still foggy I try to focus.
One hit at a time.
Still sluggish, I’m caught in its belly maw.
Only the powerful magical vestments keep my chest plate from being torn clean off.
I can feel the molten heat behind those teeth, radiating through mail and chain.
Redemption’s flames have no effect.
And just when it seems hopeless, an opening…
Teetering on it’s almost comical, mechanical legs, two plates separate to reveal it’s inner workings.
I leap up and drive redemption into the gap.
Steel grinds on steel.
The mechanical monstrosity wrenches my sword loose, spluttering lava and leaps, astonishingly into the stone wall… and vanishes!
I spin around.
Moriava clutches blindly to her shrunken Roc.
The others have made it to a junction on the far side of the room.
I pick up the elf and her mount, and lug the pair to safety.
The alcove is indeed a refuge from the cauldron mists and we take our time to recover.
When Moriava gets her sight back, she summons a font of water and extinguishes the cauldron hearth, leaving hissing coals and a soup of sodden flesh.
We head back in to search the room but there’s nothing.
Mahd, her sight restored has answers at least…
The Cauldron appears to be some sort of necromantic summoning device, fuelled by dead Giants.
The creature I routed, a kind of Dwarvern bogey man- called a Forge Fiend.
We crowd back into the alcove and look onwards to more guaranteed trouble.
The room is ringed by the frozen forms of armour-clad Hill Giants and a single, headless ogre; frost caked arms clutching two wicked hatchets.
A single foot in the door and again, unsurprisingly, ice cracks over the rigid hulks and they come to life… or unlife!
We form up in the alcove creating a chokepoint.
Lethargic undead, Hill giants stomp in.
Mahd lets loose a bolt of electricity, arcing though their numbers with a hiss of steam.
Swords flash, one Giant goes down, then another.
Then an inhuman howl from the headless Ogre, like the winds off the tundra.
Frozen decaying humanoids burst through the flagstone floor all around us!
Mahd finds herself cut off and draws her sword.
Then Moriava channels and the light of Erastil floods the room.
A rising, collective moan is snuffed out as suddenly as it arrived.
Mhad summons her Dire Tiger and with Athene and Wynter we move together, steadily through the Hill Giant ranks.
Swing, sidestep, flank, parry.
The whole time watching that headless Ogre, deathly still, waiting for his moment.
I fell the last Hillgiant and indeed, the Ogre comes in hard.
Hatchets swinging a terrible headless howl echoes off the walls.
I stand my ground but the first a barrage of blows nearly cuts me down.
He seems to sense my every move, but how!
I can just make out the others behind its frigid mass, circling in behind, but too late for me…
Another flurry of ice encased blades and all I see is red.