Liana and Seye subdued the surviving ogres in their lair before Fiona drained them of energy as well as the last of their life essence. After resting a few minutes, the party opened the locked wooden door and discovered the captured farmer and his daughter. Through his tears, the farmer thanked the heroes for rescuing them and told the party that the ogres had eaten his son the previous evening, and not an hour beforehand their human captors had taken his wife. He and his daughter then fled the complex.
With the mercenary sergeant giving her a boost, Liana peered over the ogres’ wood piled in the open archway and into the room beyond, describing a square chamber containing one ornately carved, unopened stone coffin and four more plain coffins that had been disturbed. Seye was able to pick the lock to the iron door in the ogres’ chamber, and Konshu and the sergeant proceeded down the dark hall. The pair triggered a devious pit and portcullis trap; while Konshu blinked to safety, the sergeant leaped clear of the false floor only to be impaled by the falling iron grate. Zardrae tossed his dagger past the barrier, teleported over and raised the portcullis off of the mercenary; meanwhile Liana chopped down a wooden door to use as a bridge across the obstacle. Beyond the trap the heroes discovered the cultists’ treasure, including several potions and an unusual stone covered in arcane runes.
The secret door leading to the vault opened into the same coffin room that Liana had seen. As Konshu began to Create and Shape Earth with the intent of sealing the closed coffin, an unknown malign entity made psychic contact and ordered them to leave this place; apparently Konshu’s reply was unsatisfactory, and the horrific wraith within the coffin emerged with a roar. Several of the mercenary hirelings were paralyzed in terror and the party’s initial attacks seemed unable to harm the creature. Fiona brandished her holy symbol with the power of her faith, causing the wraith to flee from her and inflict a toxic touch attack on Konshu. Fortunately Seye was able to wither its limbs with a critical success on his spell, and then Fiona enchanted Liana’s blade with Affect Spirits, allowing the swashbuckler to vanquish the monster.
Before the party could thoroughly investigate the coffin room, Zardrae teleported to the library beyond, where he heard some ominous chanting emanating from the next chamber through and open archway. He raised the portcullis separating him from the rest of the team, then stealthily crept up to look in upon the next room, spying four skeleton warriors guarding two robed figures who stood over an evil-looking altar, clearly preparing to do something horrible with the farmer’s wife.
Zardrae shed all of his gear and armor, then managed to sneak into the temple room and lob his magical dagger into the pool of unholy water behind the altar. Liana then entered the room and created a sexy distraction, managing to stun the lesser cleric with her good looks while Yuro commanded his skeletal minions to kill the intruders. Amidst the distraction Zardrae grabbed the farmer’s wife and teleported her back to safety. As the party moved into the temple room, the skeleton warriors stepped forward to block the heroes’ advance while Yuro blasted the team with a powerful Mass Daze that caught nearly the entire group, threatening to turn the tide against the PCs.
Only Zardrae’s constant harassment combined with Liana’s powerful sword swings kept the lich from moving in to finish the group off. The skeletons hacked away at the mercenaries holding the line, ultimately managing to kill one of the spearman and the sergeant. Obad-Hai was able to break through the evil sanctity of the temple and snap Fiona back to action, and she in turn began striking her comrades to counteract the effects of the daze. There were heroic feats from every party member – Konshu single-handedly fending off three skeletons at once before Fiona ran over to prop up the reeling samurai and drive the creatures back with her faith; Seye using staff strikes, deathtouch spells and a timely judo throw to drop one of the skeletons to the ground and disarm it; Arthur D’Bruin rushing into the fray and shattering several undead creatures; Zardrae tackling the lesser cleric and stabbing him to death while beset by axe strikes; and not the least Liana the Lionness who, nearing collapse after enduring Yuro’s fatigue-draining aura, struck blindly into an area of pure darkness and managed to inflict the final, telling blow on the lich, crumbling him to nothing but ash and a wisp of noxious vapor.
As the last of the skeletons was dispatched and the party began to collect their breath, the door of the temple room burst open. In strode Toren Isegard, the hulking champion of Nerull, followed by a dozen more cultists with swords and shields. Surveying the field and spotting a worthy foe among the heroes, the blackguard ordered his minions back, leveled his massive sword and challenged Arthur to personal combat, and the session closed on a dramatic note.
+3 cp for all – a tough, tough battle well fought, solid tactical play from the group. MVP for +1 cp was Zardrae for his clutch teleportations and dagger strikes, not only rescuing the cult’s captive before she could be sacrificed, but also keeping Yuro on the defensive long enough for the party to bounce back from what could have been a crushing Mass Daze.
Will Arthur prevail? Will the party escape the Sanctuary of Nerull with their lives? I give them 50/50.