Captain’s Log: Ithmong-Urbeth

Third-day, Second week of Elesias 1372 DR
We set sail for Waterdeep tomorrow.  It will be a long journey that I shall not be looking forward to, especially after being informed we’ll be taking on a couple of passengers, making the ship a bit cramped as we already have to accommodate the useless cleric of Umberlee and our Rundeen representative for diplomacy.  On top of that, I’m told our passengers are a young medusa, and a half-elf cleric to Corellon.  It’s good to have a medusa for an ally, if a bit suspicious, but I foresee problems between the cleric and my boatswain.  The Rundeen have given me some advice of what to expect; the cleric seems quite sensible but I’m told the medusa tends to be a bit lacking in civilised society, feeling more comfortable when surrounded with animals.
Tonight I plan to enjoy what the city’s finest establishments have to offer, I won’t have the chance for more for many nights to come.

Fourth-day, Second week of Elesias 1372 DR
The first day of the voyage has gone well, with a fair wind speed to keep us at a good pace.  The cargo was loaded easily, mostly consisting of ‘exotic’ food and drink for the Lake of Steam, though I’ll be glad to get rid of the stuff- fish tends to stink up the cargo hold.  The passengers stayed out of the way, and seemed a bit unsure around Bernard- they obviously aren’t used to sailing, Hadozee are a common sight on ships.  I hope they don’t start calling him ‘monkey’ though it may provide some entertainment.  First Mate Ygrette seems to have taken a liking to the cleric, I suspect it’s due to the horns.  I must admit, I was taken aback slightly upon seeing her- I was told she had some alterations, and whilst horns are common features amongst tieflings, the eye is slightly disturbing.  I get the distinct impression it is watching me, though she often stays out of my way so I do not suspect she is acting as a spy.  As expected, she took an immediate disliking to the boatswain, a feeling which I am sure is mutual though I have instructed the orc to leave her unharmed as we are under specific orders that the passengers arrive at their destination safely.  The medusa is proving to be slightly more of an annoyance, getting excited at the mere sight of an Icthyosaur preying on an unfortunate Albatross, and her accursed parrot constantly squawking about ‘useless half breeds’ being ‘good for loving’ and telling Bernard not to eat it.  Since then I have seen little of her as she has retired to the cargo hold, playing with her pet dog.  I hope the cat has the presence of mind to stay away from it, the last thing we want is a ship infested with rats.

Fifth-day, Second week of Elesias 1372 DR
We got some good distance covered last night, thanks to favourable wind conditions, as predicted by the medusa who seems to have some uses.  Our cleric of Umberlee is obviously performing well, though I’ve seen decidedly little of him, as he seems to prefer to stay confined to his room.  During the night there were reports of growls from below decks, and a couple of rat corpses were found in the cargo hold.  When investigating, the medusa claimed to have discovered an unusual stowaway in the form of a leopard.  The boatswain confirmed this, adding that it appeared to be talking in Common to the medusa, but as the orc approached it seemed to revert to being an ordinary feline.  The medusa thought it best to inform me of this creature by summoning it onto deck in front of me, and my crew who were somewhat understandably apprehensive of the cat’s sudden appearance.  I suspect the medusa summoned the creature on board in the first place, though I am mostly unconcerned.  It will do a better job at killing rats than our previous resident feline ever did, and may also deter some of the crew from stealing our cargo.  The medusa tarred the leopard before dismissing it in the hopes it would be easier to find, if indeed it remained on the ship, and I sent a couple of crewmen to look for the creature, with the boatswain’s help.  I am told that after some searching it was discovered, and the medusa attempted to restrain it in a Bag of Holding as it was tied up.  After some persuasion it seemed to be tamed by the medusa, who took it on deck to be cleaned up in the ship’s emergency lifeboat, which I hope will not have to be used any time soon as it’s now full of tar.  I shall ensure it is cleaned out before long.  There is still no indication that this leopard can talk in human tongue, so unless the orc has developed some divine power of talking to animals I am suspecting that he is merely suffering some form of hallucination.
Other than that bit of excitement this morning, the day has been peaceful, the only other noteworthy event being a man-sized crab that was nearly fished up by one of the crew.  I’m sure there will be many more where that came from.

Sixth-day, Second week of Elesias 1372 DR
I am surrounded by imbeciles!  All night I have been piloting this ship, thanks to my first mate and boatswain’s inabilities to handle a moderate increase in wind speed.  I hope we have not strayed too far off course, but that is Ygrette’s responsibility today.  I need more sleep…

…We have now docked in Urbeth.  I have decided to withhold punishment for now, as it would not do to show weakness in the crew’s immediate superiors.  Instead I have docked their pay slightly, the Boatswain receiving 75gp and 90gp for the first mate.  Apparently we had a brief encounter with Kumbhakarna, the feared Rakshasa pirate easily identified by his ship shrouded with a never-ending rain.  The medusa thought she was doing us a favour by illuminating his ship with lightning and faerie fire, I just hope that hasn’t given us unwanted attention.  I am sure we shall soon find out.  Where I am sure we could have set sail tonight, I would like to put some distance between him and us, so we have stayed in Urbeth for the night.  The facilities leave a little to be desired, but our passengers and officers seemed to enjoy themselves by having a small picnic on the beach after buying some precious stones from the natives, and with the first mate presenting wildflowers to the half-elf.  I hope she doesn’t fall for her too much, especially if this cleric does have traitorous intent.  I am sure a mutiny led by her would be unpleasant, especially on her part.
Our cargo has been reloaded with books and dyes, as tomorrow we set sail for Calimport, where hopefully the weather will become a little cooler.

~from the journal of Legendary Captain Theodore Tutor, of the Queen Alassa’s Revenge.

Some Time Later…

Hey guys, so I’ve had people tell me to come back to the blog… my intention was to put the blog on hold as I concentrated more on my novel, especially as we started playing every week rather than every fortnight- but due to popular demand, I’m back.  This post will be an abridged update on what has happened between the Roc’s Fall and now, and the action will resume probably tomorrow, as I continue my commenting- but with a twist.

The Arcane Archer

After clearing the wreckage of the ship that was destroyed by the Roc, the Dread Pirate… Daniel… (no it’s not self-insertion, he is an established NPC from Complete Adventurer) didn’t seem particularly distraught.  In fact he was quite excited at the prospect of the gold this Roc corpse would fetch, and as the party were at a slight loss as to what to do, the Rundeen Consortium decided to hire them to act as caravan guards as they delivered the Roc to Ithmong, where it would await a prospective buyer.  Meanwhile, an Arcane Archer who happened to be passing by noticed the unusual combination of a medusa and… whatever the cleric is.  In the spirit of investigation, she decided to tag along with them where she could analyse their behaviour and perhaps get cheap passage to centres of magic for her to conduct her research.  After doing yet more shopping (seriously, all female parties always seem to end up like this :p) the group were slightly seperated as the cleric had wandered off, but in her place came a centaur paladin who claimed to be looking for her sister.  Deciding they couldn’t waste any more time, the group met up with the caravan guarded by lizardmen and a human who didn’t particularly want to be there.
The first obstacle on the journey was a Basilisk that had taken residence in a coastal cave, with the party wary after seeing the various statues scattered around the landscape.  Sure enough the prty’s curiosity got the better of them and they investigated the cave, stirring the basilisk from its’ sleep, where it managed to catch a lizardman who acted as a decoy as the rest bravely ran away.  Further down the road they encountered a group of aquatic elves who were headed to the market to sell their harvest from the sea.  On reaching Sammaresh, the group did yet more shopping, mostly for the rare green pearls that were farmed there.  Spending the night, the paladin received a strange visitation from a ghostly Couatl that acted as royal advisor, and in the morning the paladin had gone as quickly as she came.
The next leg of the journey took them to Malaxer, a little further inland and bordering the jungle.  The cleric managed to catch up with the group, and the medusa realised she was heading into an area where snakes were outlawed, so made sure to disguise herself- though she knew another group of medusas claimed this territory as their own.  They arrived in Malaxer to find a small commotion going on in the centre of town as someone had apparently been turned to stone, and as the village cleric turned him back he was evidently traumatised, only able to babble incoherently about snakes.  The medusa quickly decided to enhance her disguise by wild shaping, and the party stayed for another night.  Unfortunately, a guard spotted something rustling amongst the remains of the Roc, and then was brought to the attention of the elf’s snake familiar leading the party to be quickly exiled.  Deciding they didn’t want to hang around anyway, the group continued on, remaining cautious of medusas, to the next village of Abreon.  They left the jungle and headed through fields littered with ancient barrows, before being ambushed by a pair of hippogriffs with unusual riders- two gnomes, a halfling, and a subrace of dwarf.  When the group led by the halfling quickly found themselves on the losing side, the two parties decided to call parley and in fact decided to travel together as the female gnome was sick and they were just trying to get some coin from passing travellers.  They soon arrived at the small farming community where they stopped for the next night, after hearing tales of undead that arose from the barrows every couple of months, and sure enough they arose on this night providing some small arrow fodder for both adventuring parties.  The villagers were grateful, though a reward was lacking, and so the groups continued to their next destination, Uzurr.  The large numbers proved a deterrant to any wandering monsters, and on arrival in Uzurr the elf immediately headed to the priest’s libraries for research, and the gnomes attempted to get the clerics to heal their ill companion.  Unfortunately it was found to be incurable, and probably related to a cursed item, which the medusa generously decided to take off her hands.  There was no way of telling which item was cursed, so she took all four possibilities and the gnomes parted company, leaving the medusa, elf and cleric to finish their journey to Ithmong, passing through Lhazanthal, a gnomish community.  Once out on the open road, the party encountered an Athach that was singing about being a ‘bad troll’ as he was polishing some gems.  Naturally a fight broke out, resulting in the Athach’s death, and the party’s journey was nearly complete.
Upon finally arriving in Ithmong, the group travelled through a series of underground caves before eventually reaching the Rundeen Consortium’s warehouse, where they dropped off the Roc and claimed their reward.  They were told that as part of their reward, they could have free passage on either of the Rundeen’s trade voyages- a short trip to the Lake of Steam, a slightly more dangerous trip to Calimport, or a long haul trip that could take several months to Waterdeep.  Naturally, the party (well, the medusa) chose Waterdeep.  But first, they would have to go to the temple of Umberlee in Ilyaport to pay their respects in the hopes of bribing her for a safe trip across her domain.  Deciding it could wait till morning, the party temporarily split up to explore the city and do various duties.  The elf headed for the library for more research, the medusa attempted to find information on the cursed item as well as get her bow upgraded, and the cleric decided to brush up on her knowledge of the local area and Umberlee.  As the medusa searched for a wizard, she came across a shady looking sorcerer who said he could help.  As a demonstration of his magic, he produced a small flame which hardly impressed the medusa, as she produced a somewhat larger flame of her own.  The sorcerer quickly ran off as the city guard came to investigate the now burning building, only to find the medusa.  They gave her a warning as they set to extinguishing the building as the medusa put on her cute little girl act and found a stray pug dog to accompany her which she promptly named Little Jimmy.  Continuing on to the higher class area of the city, she found the only wizard that could help the medusa was busy, and his assistant (identifying himself (itself?) as Igor) arranged an appointment for the next day.  Bored, the medusa headed to the library to meet up with the others and idly started playing with the small fish tank there.  Experimenting with summoning sea creatures, she quickly managed to break the fish tank, mend it, then break it again, eventually finding herself wild shaped in the form of a fish inside the tank, forgetting she couldn’t shrink to a size smaller than a halfling.  She was chased out the library, and found a room for the night in the posh area of town, and before long the cleric and elf found a somewhat cheaper inn of their own.

I'm not sure where the cat found the cigar...

As morning came, the medusa decided to send a message to the others to let them know where she was, first by donating a large sum of money to a street urchin to find them.  Wondering if that would be enough, she also decided to send an animal messenger to the Rundeen Consortium in case they knew where the others were.  Wondering if THAT would be enough, she proceeded to use most of her spells on animal messengers, all with messages to the Rundeen Consortium causing them to create a small totem pole of animals of various sizes.  As it happened, the urchin managed to find the elf-and-a-half easily, and told them the medusa was looking for them and she would be in the rich area.  The elf still had research to do, but the cleric decided to go with the medusa and they met up at the wizard’s tower.  They were let in by Igor, who told the cleric to wait in the waiting room as the medusa had her appointment, which it turned out to be with a Kobold called Tim.  He claimed he’d been experimenting with a polymorph, which the medusa was happy with, and he used a spell to determine which items were cursed.  It was discovered to be the pair of Bracers, and whilst they would give the bonus they were intended, they would also continuously deal constitution damage.  The medusa hurriedly left, donning the cloak of charisma she was given, and found someone to donate the bracers to- a monk that was browsing the market.  Eventually the bow was ready, and the elf had finished her research, so they were ready to go to the temple of Umberlee a couple of hours away, where they would meet up with a rogue that had advertised his services as a dungeon delver in the tavern.
On approaching the temple, it was starting to get dark but they investigated regardless, finding a large room with a few statues and a large religious symbol inside.  The temple was largely overgrown with ivy and looked like it hadn’t been used in some time.  There was a makeshift bed in one of the rooms, and across a destroyed bridge out in the sea was a statue to Umberlee, exposed to the elements.  As they started to leave, they encountered two men who were chatting to each other, a druid and a rogue- presumably the rogue they were going to adventure with.  The party decided to get a good nights rest before heading into the depths of the temple, and the night passed without event, apart from the medusa playing with Jimmy and giving him a Magic Fang to terrorise the local populace.  The rogue, who introduced himself as Al, joined them and the medusa left Little Jimmy with the druid as they started their investigation.  First they discovered there was a small invisible gutter leading from Umberlee to the main temple, so the medusa attempted to make an offering of an eel using the gutter, which the eel happily slid out of, though the water from the pot it was in trickled into the temple, and it became clear the water was inside the large symbol on the ground.  Investigating the statues, they decided they represented Talos, Malar, and Auriel- the deities of Fury, of which Umberlee was a part.  Checking the completely destroyed one first, which was deduced to be Malar, they found a small hole.  It was decided this hole would need an offering of blood, as Malar was the god of rage and blood, and sure enough the symbol was now tinged red with blood.  Next was Auriel, goddess of ice, and sure enough she had a small hole leading down the shaft of her spear, down which the medusa fired an arrow form her new Icy Burst bow, which froze the bloody water.  Finally was Talos, god of the storm and pointing his sword straight down at the symbol.  The medusa knew what to do without hesitation, and used a Call Lightning spell, firing all bolts simultaneously upon the statue, practically destroying it and shattering the symbol, causing a deep rumbling sound below.
As the group headed downstairs, they saw a staircase had opened up in the middle of the room, which they promptly headed down, ready to face the dungeon…

…As this blog’s getting a little long, I’ll just sum up the dungeon without going in too much detail.  First floor the group encountered a rust monster which was fried with a classy Combust from the elf; a destrachan which was fried by the medusa (and harvested for food); a room with no floor and an inaccessible chest, which Al managed to access but was discovered to be empty; several grimlocks collecting shinies for their medusa mistress; a hellwasp swarm which came close to killing the whole party twice; and a pack of cloakers that inadvertently caused the cleric to cut off the elf’s leg.  During this time, the group experimented with Al’s magic bag, a bag which pulled out completely random items including a Portal Sword which would come into play later.  They also encountered a strange hybrid of dwarf and dragon and female, who stuck around long enough to see the elf’s leg get chopped off but soon got bored.
The group returned to town to regenerate the elf’s leg, and the medusa decided to play with the bag some more- this time pulling out some greyish ointment which she tried rubbing on a passed out patron, who started decaying slightly.  She then experimented on a rat, who also decayed but then became animated with un-life, draining the medusa’s blood and causing severe strength loss before finally being decapitated and thrown on the fire where it erupted with unholy green fire.  The ointment was quickly given to the cleric that was found to help the elf, and the bag wasn’t touched by the medusa again.
The next morning the party took a drunk dwarf with them, and covered a bit more of the dungeon, bypaassing the arcane ooze that was sapping the elf’s power and headed down to the next level.  Here, they encountered a gargantuan monstrous spider which guarded several scrolls, one of which caused the elf to become extremely vulnerable to the cold conditions; a swarm of shadows that were quickly turned; hundreds of traps, including one which drained some of the dwarf’s power but unaffected Al, causing some dilemma as how they would reunite with the party until Al remembered he had a sword that could create doors (blue and orange ones that led to each other); and eventually a Frost Salamander which didn’t pose too much trouble apart from the help it received from the Greater Shadow that had been turned earlier, which struck those too close to the walls managing to kill the drunk dwarf and the arcane archer, more greater shadows emerging from their bodies and giving chase to the medusa, Al, and the cleric, who ran as fast as they could out of the dungeon.  Unfortunately, one of the shadows got Al who fell to the floor, injured but not dead, and so the cleric attempted a prayer for help to her god for some divine intervention.  Sure enough, her prayer was granted as one of his devoted arcane archers had fallen, firing an empowered ray of light at the shadow, killing it outright allowing the others to escape.

On arriving back in town, the group noticed it was unusually quiet, and when heading to the pub they heard voices inside but the door was locked.  When announcing themselves, all went quiet and a rather unintelligent voice claimed there was noone in.  After a bit of convincing they were eventually let in though with the door hastily locked behind them, and told that security was tight because there were reports of all manner of undead infesting the town- reports of vampires, and werewolves, and zombies, and flying rats- though only the rat had actually been seen, the rest was speculation due to mysterious bites on some commoners.  After conducting some tests involving mirrors and holy symbols, it was determined they were merely confused villagers and after setting up some feline patrols in case of undead rats, the remainder of the gorup rested for the night.  When morning came, they met up with a tiefling and water-borne orc who had come to collect them on behalf of the Rundeen Consortium, who intended on leaving soon.  The party decided to not venture further in the dungeon, instead paying quick lip service to Umberlee at her statue as they sacrificed a stingray, then hastily leaving the undead village, back to Ithmong.

The scene shortly after the party left

And that is where I shall leave things for now, next time I shall resume the more accurate account of our games, as the party sets sail on the high seas.

Roc’s Fall

An unfortunate delay in posts, thanks to various factors meaning we couldn’t play for close to a month.  As a result of this, a lot of the last session was off-topic rambling but we got some decent stuff out of it, though this post will be shorter than most.

Having angered one of the wealthiest and highest ranking members of society in Sigil, the centaur considered it wise to buy a few things and collect her money from items she sold before hastily finding a way to return to the place that is emphatically not Narnia (honest) to lay low for a while.  She knew the problems with time that affect going to and from the once-snowy plane, but even if no real time has passed then she could at least get a lifetime’s worth of training whilst she’s there.  The medusa also did some urgent shopping after her run-in (or swim-through) with the Black Pudding, and on returning to the pub she decided to think of a way to better defend herself, and after a moment’s reflection decided Fire solves everything.  She played around a bit with the fireplace, discovering a hitherto unnoticed talent for setting fires by tapping into some primal nature energy.  Also at the pub, a bard had arrived, unaffiliated with the guild the group had consulted to spread popularity.  The bard had heard about ‘The A-Team’ but was largely uninterested in their exploits, she had just happened to find her way into their headquarters as she was pub crawling, looking for gigs after a day of shopping.  She had lived in Sigil for some time, getting adjusted to this strange and alien world having come from a much different place when she accidentally spilt a drop of blood into her belt buckle.

The belt buckle was also her holy symbol

As the group relaxed, and noticed the minotaur and Steve were nowhere to be seen, the Cleric’s Ring of Communication began to ring (metaphorically, and no pun intended).  It was a worker of the Rundeen Consortium, who had been given a ring for informing the group of any potential business.  In this case, he informed the cleric that they were due to intercept a shipment of weapons but were expecting enough resistance to warrant the services of the A-Team, and if they weren’t interested then the Rundeen would unfortunately have to ignore the shipment.  The cleric inquired as to what the shipment contained, and was told that it was various rare weapons but the main prize was a collection of experimental weapons known as Calimshite Fire Spears.  The medusa suddenly sprang to attention on hearing the word ‘fire’, almost setting fire to the pub were it not for the bard’s intervention with her fascinating music, and it was discovered that these spears main function was to shoot a jet of deadly flame from their tips, not unlike dragon’s breath.  The cleric and medusa were happy to fulfil the quest, it at least letting them get away from Sigil temporarily, and when they asked how they would get there they were told that there was an active portal in the Yuan-Ti town they had helped recently, and that the intercepting party would be leaving in two days time.
The bard decided she would travel with them, hungering for more fans especially on a plane such as Faerun, and decided to set up a grand performance this night before they left.  She performed well enough, getting some interest from the locals who, being mostly unsavoury races and demons, soon set up a mosh pit, and so they rested for the night.  The night was uneventful, though there was still no sign of the minotaur, and so the trio set off to find Kylie the tiefling, knowing she would know where to find this portal.  Approaching her house it was clear that she wasn’t in, which wasn’t entirely unexpected, so the medusa tried to communicate with some pigeons to keep watch in case she came back.  The first pigeon just blinked in lack of understanding, concentrating solely on the food the druid was offering, so the medusa moved on.  The second was arguably worse at understanding, as when told that if it could ‘see the person’ it could then ‘eat the food’ it instead interpreted it as ‘see the food, eat the person’.  The medusa didn’t bother correcting the instructions, thinking it could be quite entertaining, and instead moved on to a third pigeon who thankfully did understand the instructions fully and completely.
Deciding the best place to find Kylie would probably be at the Lady’s Palace, touting her services, the group headed straight there and immediately noticed her leaning against a wall looking bored as the area was surprisingly quiet for this time of day.  Calling her name, the tiefling’s first instinct was to run but soon realised it was the medusa and cleric she had dealt with before, and asked how she could help.  The party stated their intent, and Kylie was happy to oblige, leading them through the city to the portal.  En route, she told them about how there was a contract out on their heads, specifically the minotaur’s, and asked what they had been doing.  They recounted the story of what happened with the pimp, and Kylie quickened her pace once she found out who they were dealing with- it turns out that he had a reputation for paying off the authorities and employing plenty of lackies to do his dirty work, all the while he would be socialising with the city’s cultural elite.  She would attempt to pull a few strings whilst the group were gone, but couldn’t guarantee anything.  Sure enough, they arrived at the portal guarded by two men who asked for identification.  On hearing the statement, one of them passed through the portal to check on the other side, and indeed there was a Rundeen trade caravan waiting on the other side, so they were allowed through.
Wasting no time in the yuan-ti village, the trio made quick introductions with the Rundeen worker and his lizardmen bodyguards before setting on their way, the bard summoning her Phantom Steed which appeared in the form of a strange mechanical device that billowed smoke and flames.  The bard added to the effect by using Ghost Sound to activate what she called a ‘radio’ that played music for them as they rode.  Of course, the noise attracted some unwanted companions, specifically in the form of a strange glowing orb by the side of the road in the marsh.  The group were unfamiliar with it though it was clearly some sort of creature, and it rose from the marsh ready to attack.  One of the lizardmen was first to charge in with his battle cry of ‘Rar Rar OohRarara!’, and didn’t appear to do much damage but got nastily lashed by the creature’s tentacles in return, so the Cleric decided to fire from afar with her wand of Magic Missile.  Unfortunately this did even less damage as the creature seemed to literally absorb the magical energy before firing it back at the other lizardmen who had run to engage it.  The bard quickly summoned a strange creature which she referred to as a ‘ground urchin’, an animal that has dangerous quills and some volatile contents in its stomach, and proceeded to dropkick it at the orb where it exploded on impact, landing just off target.  Thinking she would do better to enhance her allies strength instead, she concentrated her efforts on strumming out a battle theme on her guitar to Inspire Courage in her friends, as the medusa fired a barrage of arrows at the creature, making sure there were no magical bonuses for the creature to absorb.  The cleric tried a different spell, one which she knew would not harm her companions- Holy Smite- but again she couldn’t overcome the creature’s Spell Resistance and so the creature fired it back but to little effect.  Using brute force, the party eventually managed to fell the creature thanks to one of the lizardmen who scored a powerful blow, cleaving the creature in two, proclaiming his victory with a continuation of his clan’s cry that very loosely translates to ‘he can’t <Decipher Script> my <Bluff> face!’

it tore apart its opponents flesh to wear in future battles

The bard quickly mounted her mechanical phantom steed to escape the lizardmen’s awful singing, with the others in quick pursuit as a bolt of lightning struck a nearby tree, momentarily deafening everyone around.  Luckily the group arrived in the town before the storm could become too unbearable, and the bard immediately set to work finding a suitable tavern to perform for the night as the medusa and cleric did some more shopping and attempting to sell their healing services, though the medusa got caught by one of the fighting pit workers for selling her services without a license.  Finding the same tavern as the bard, mostly thanks to overhearing some of the slaves spreading word around the city, the group once again settled down for a night of music and rest before embarking on their pirate mission the next day, the medusa reflecting on how she would be glad to get away from towns or cities or urban environments in general.
During the night, the medusa was woken by a disturbance in the street- looking outside she noticed a mugging in process as two men in black were beating up a drunk.  The bard also witnessed this, and they both went outside to set things right.  The medusa wasting no time, she tried to intimidate them with threats of petrification.  This was enough for one of them to run, but the other thought that if the medusa was capable of turning to stone then he would be stone already.  Though the bard proved slightly more intimidating after the attacker noticed the size of her axe, and as he turned to run the medusa hit him with a well-aimed shot that was enough to make him fall unconscious.  Needing some healing for the drunk, they tried to get the attention of the cleric by throwing a stone at her window, which apparently failed so the medusa threw a bigger stone, not caring about smashing the window as it could be fixed with a couple of Mending spells later.  This was enough to wake the cleric, and turn her ethereal temporarily as well as her new Blink reflex kicked in, and she immediately set to work healing and sobering up the drunk as the others dragged the unconscious attacker into the pub and tied him up, hamstringing him for good measure.  He regained consciousness and immediately recognised the cleric, and became increasingly worried about where the minotaur was as he was the same would-be thief that targetted the honeymoon suite the last time the group were in town.  The medusa delighted in torturing him for a while, taking his license and burning it before returning him naked to the street, still with his hands tied behind his back.  Taking pride in a good deed done (in a somewhat morally grey way) the trio went back to bed for the rest of the night, before being woken by the general daytime traffic of the busy port town.
After their usual morning prayers, the group set off for the docks which proved to be by far the busiest part of town.  They easily identified the Rundeen ship, thanks to its conspicuous black sails, and went to meet the captain.  In true dashing pirate style, the captain swung down from the rigging with the wind blowing through his hair as he struck a pose in front of the party and introduced himself as the notorious Daniel Simone, and he would be their captain for the day.  He went through the compulsory safety procedure, informing the group that the sound of seven bells means the ship is in trouble and in that case they should follow the green paint on deck to the lifeboats, and they were also shown where the buoyancy aids were.  With formalities over, they set sail for adventure on the high seas with the horizon as the limit, getting to act as swashbuckling pirates in the name of good.

The Captain soon realised he shouldn't have eaten that egg for breakfast

Still within sight of the formidable coastal defences, the lookout on the crow’s nest sounded a warning of a Roc that was heading in their direction- an enormous bird spoken of in legend, said to be capable of lifting huge creatures for their dinner, sometimes even as big as elephants or dinosaurs on the nearby plains.  Sure enough it seemed to have the ship as it’s next target, despite the coastal ballistas trying to deter it from it’s course.  The ship itself fired a volley of ballista bolts at it, but it had a grace that defied it’s size that allowed it to weave through the bolts.  The cleric fired a barrage of Magic Missiles at it from her wand, which did decent damage but not enough to disrupt it’s flight, and hoping to get in a good shot before it came close enough for the medusa to use her spells the druid fired her new bow at it, enhanced by the bard’s music and the captain’s rallying cry, hopefully using the Dislocating power of the bow to either lower the roc into the water or confuse it enough to lose it’s balance.  Loosing the shot, the arrow flew through the air, striking the enormous bird right between the eyes, stunning it in mid-flight.  Unfortunately, being fifty feet above the water and flying at approximately nine miles per hour, the momentum was enough for the Roc to fall directly on top of the ship- a fact that the cleric’s Blink reflex quickly took into account as she turned ethereal, proving it’s worth for the very purpose she wished- getting her out of danger when large objects are falling towards her.  By a stroke of luck, the medusa was standing in just the right place for her to use her new tail to swing to the safety of the sea as the Roc fell onto the ship.  Unfortunately, the Bard did not have the benefit of the Lady’s wishes and suffered a fate true to most bards dedicated to her particular style of music- that of Living Fast, and Dying Young.  The captain had managed to use his experience to swing from the rigging onto the back of the bird as it crashed, and although many of the crew were crushed there were still many survivors with the presence of mind to jump to the sea.  The roc itself, though it had only been stunned, the fall was enough to get it entangled in the ships rigging and impaled on the various jagged bits of wood, causing it to eventually drown as it couldn’t break free.  Everyone helped to drag the bird ashore, annoyed that they had lost their chance at intercepting the weapons shipment but also hopeful that their acquisition of a full-size intact Roc should fetch a tidy sum from a museum or for scientific research.  Sure enough, the Rundeen Consortium offered 9000 gold to those involved in it’s capture, which was distributed evenly- the medusa getting 3000, the cleric getting 3000 (though offering more to the druid for it was entirely due to her that it was acquired), and the pirate captain getting 3000 which he distributed amongst the crew and donated to the families of the poor unfortunate souls that perished.
Interestingly, as they counted what they could of the dead, the bard’s body was unfound- all that remained was a small smattering of blood that was later rumoured to have been in the shape of the mysterious deity the bard worshipped, and brandished on her belt buckle.

Notable events:
Roc falls, one person dies.
Em’s centaur leaves the party to train with possibility of returning later, bard introduced instead.
Bard definitely not based on a certain videogame character, but proves that she would have made an accurate videogame character as she couldn’t swim.  Bard dies.
Players live up to stereotype, as when all the characters are female then a great deal of time was spent shopping.
By strange coincidence, when one of the last bards devoted to the music of the universe which she believed was connected to rocks and metal dies, another genre of music gains popularity in the form of the lizardmen’s battle cry that has begun to spread due to it’s success in battle.
It is revealed that the A-Team have a contract on their heads in Sigil, put out by the angered pimp.

 

Analysis of an epic moment:
Some clarification may be required regarding how a CR9 creature can almost TPK a fully healed party of level 9 adventurers, and a ship full of lower level NPCs.  Here is what happened in game terms.
Medusa fires bow at Roc, not expecting to do much but enough to not waste a turn doing nothing.  Natural 20.  Crit is confirmed, thanks to the Roc’s relatively low armour class due to it being so huge.  To determine the result of crits, we consult a crit table- percentile is rolled, 60-something% is the result.  This is a powerful hit, resulting in the target being stunned for one round on top of crit damage.  A Roc is a bird, and therefore in the sky when it gets stunned.  The Roc was travelling at 80ft per 6 seconds (1 round), which is roughly equivalent to 9mph.  As the Monster Manual text states, a Roc weighs 8000lbs and is easily big enough to cover the length of the ship with its wings spread, as when flying.  I decide to roll percentile to see where the Roc lands- low it’s in the sea, high it’s on the ship- with a small allowance for the displacement on the arrow.  The result was 97%, emphatically meaning the ship.  The cleric has the ability to Blink when large objects fall towards her, so she’s fine- that activates as you can’t say a gargantuan animal following towards you isn’t a large object.  The other two characters get reflex saves to see if they can jump out of the way- they both fail.  But then the medusa’s player remembers their wish, which resulted in being able to take a luck reroll on any dexterity based skill- so she took it, and succeeded- barely.  The bard, having not had any wishes, was unfortunately crushed by the Roc, which meant finding out how this sort of damage works.  For every 200lbs of an objects weight, the damage is 1d6.  A falling object also does additional damage based on how much momentum it has- 1d6 for every 10ft it moves before impact.  This made a total of 48d6 damage, on every creature that was on the ship, from a CR9 creature that could usually only do about 2d6 damage per round on a single target.

 

Don’t Split the Party

Once on the other side of the portal, the party discovered they had been separated, and were in what appeared to be a prison.  The cleric was already in a cell and was shortly joined by the minotaur, the medusa and centaur shared a cell, and Boris was in his own cell.  All that was visible was the adamantine bars, reinforced with magic, that separated the cell from the other side, the other side consisting of a complicated looking map on the far wall and two portals on opposite walls.  Boris immediately set off, attempting to walk straight through the bars but being magically repelled, so instead walking through the walls finding neighbouring cells.  The minotaur attempted to avoid the cleric, and set to work escaping, first by attempting to pull the bars free but to no avail, and then to hold his acidic axe against the bars, slowly corroding the metal.  Meanwhile, the centaur was at a loss for what to do but the medusa came up with the idea of wild shaping into a small enough creature to squeeze through the bars, which

Can anyone make sense of these maps?

sure enough worked so she started travelling through portals, unable to make sense of the maps that seemed to change randomly between cells.  As she travelled, she encountered (amongst other things) a lizardman druid, who was apparently too dumb to realise he could wild shape.  He still failed to get the hint, so the medusa shrugged and moved on.  At the next cell she witnessed a portal open up in the unattended cell, a huge construct behind it that threw a halfling into it, knocking him unconscious.  The medusa turned back, encountering the lizardman again who explained he got regular food here so didn’t want to leave- the medusa called his bluff, pointing out he’d just forgotten he could wild shape, so he tried to do so, shifting into a snake form that was still a little too big to squeeze through the bars.  He tried nonetheless, getting stuck but helped out by the medusa who told him about the halfling in the next cell, who would make a nice lunch for the lizardman.  The medusa set off the way she came, hoping to get back to the original cell with the centaur but unfortunately ended up somewhere completely new.
Meanwhile, the centaur had a troglodyte thrown into her cell, again by a large construct somewhere in the maze, but he died on impact with the bars.  The centaur proceeded the only way she could, by looting his body.
Boris was still exploring, unrestrained by the portals but not finding any way out, and tried floating upwards instead only to find more prison.  He soon came across a celestial paladin who spotted him and Turned Undead, causing Boris to run as fast as he could away, and bumping into a different shadow who didn’t say a word and merely started following him.  Boris tried to lose the shadow, but it just kept silently following.
Time passed, and the minotaur’s axe did indeed seem to be eating through the metal, but just revealed the bars were reinforced with a modified form of Wall of Force.  Considering what to do next, someone came through one of the portals carrying a tray of gruel.  After a short conversation, the minotaur and cleric managed to convince the guard that they were part of the party that helped save the Lady by killing the shadow dragon, and told him of their companions who were somewhere else in the prison maze.  the guard said he would look out for them, and if they were indeed the heroes he would set them free, and with that he took a note of some details from the map before continuing on.  Shortly afterwards, the guard arrived at the centaur’s cell- at the same time as the medusa who came through the opposite portal.  Luckily the guard had already been told the medusa was part of the heroes party, so was spared as he listened to their version of events.  It matched up, so he put them both under a Geas to follow him until they left the building.  He led them back to the cleric and minotaur, and after placing a Geas on them, they all continued, taking an erratic route that seemed to be two steps forward, three steps back, 5 forward, 2 back, and so on- the rooms apparently changing every time the group was two steps away from a previous cell.  Eventually they encountered Boris who was still running from the shadow following him- the party told the guard he was a member of the group but because he was a shadow he would have to have special permission, so had to wait there for his return.  Reluctantly Boris accepted, and the rest were escorted from the building.  They stayed with the guard and were taken to the Lady, who apologised for the inconvenience and seemed noticeably annoyed at the fact she was obligated to give out the promised wishes for her rescue.  The group told her their requests, and she informed them that a messenger would be sent once she had considered suitable rewards.
Now back in Sigil, the party noticed many people were looking their way, rumour having gotten round about their exploits- some looks were friendly, some not so much as some creatures preferred life knowing the Lady wasn’t watching their every move.  The minotaur wasted no time in going and getting Steve resurrected from a temple of Loki in the Outlands, as the others sold some of their spoils and paid the bards guild to sing their praises, under their new name ‘the A-Team’.

The similarities are amazing

On gathering their profits from the weapons shop and the Rosy Petal, it was discovered that the pimp who had previous ownership of a couple of the workers had come round with his demon lawyer, waving papers in the air and claiming they were still his.  Naturally, the minotaur and Boris weren’t happy with this as he had apparently taken more than his claim, so they decide to organise a raid on his property in the morning.  In the meantime, they would host a lavish Heroes Feast with the help of the bard’s guild, a spell that creates an entire banquet that cures all ailments and gives a bit more on top.  During the festivities, the Lady’s messenger arrived to inform the group that she had made her mind up regarding the party’s wishes.  Without further ado, the group hurriedly went to see the Lady to claim their rewards.
On arriving at her palace, they were informed she would see each member individually, with the following results:
The minotaur, requesting an ability to stay in combat for longer, was granted Damage Reduction.  He had a choice between vulnerabilities: slashing, piercing, or bludgeoning.  Slashing would result in him becoming flabby and gluttonous; piercing would give him patches of scaly skin, and bludgeoning would give him stone arms- he opted for the stone, meaning he would gain DR1 as long as he fought defensively (letting him block attacks).
The medusa requested increased dexterity, hoping though not outright stating she wanted increased ability to fire a bow.  She gained a prehensile tail, to serve as a warning about correct wording of wishes, but as the Lady knew the true request she also granted the ability to use a luck reroll once per day on any dexterity based check.
The cleric was next, requesting the ability to Blink in the face of terror- specifically when large objects are falling towards her (bringing her close to her death twice now).  The Lady took notice of the various modifications the cleric already had, and thought it couldn’t hurt to add another- an eye on her chest, slightly bigger than a human eye- that would effectively be in control of the Lady who would activate a Blink in the specific circumstance of falling objects, and would also monitor the cleric’s heart rate giving a chance to Blink when her pulse quickens.
The centaur made a modest request, merely asking that her bow was improved.  This not being a selfish body enhancement request, the Lady happily granted a composite property on the Psychokinetic bow, meaning the centaur could use her strength bonus on it- though it was made too strong for the centaur to use effectively without strength enhancing gear, and because the bow wasn’t initially designed to cope with the stress of being composite, it has also been made more brittle.
Finally was Steve, who requested Telepathy, making sure to include clauses about being able to use all his languages, nothing stupid like being given mind flayer brains, and not projecting his thoughts to everyone that happened to be in the vicinity.  His wish was granted, the only visible flaw being that his brain had grown slightly too big for his skull giving a visible bulge, but that was to be expected.
Everyone now more-or-less satisfied with their wishes, agreed that they should get a good nights rest and conduct a dawn raid on the pimp’s home- with some persuasion to get the centaur and cleric involved, eventually being convinced that at the Rosy Petal they would be working towards their freedom and getting a large share of the profit, compared to with this pimp where they were obviously being treated as slaves with little to no pay.  The night passed uneventfully, and all were ready for the attack, leaving some time for the Heroes Feast effects to still be active.
Arriving at the pimp’s mansion, they noticed it was quite heavily guarded, with two guards on every door.  They noticed a couple of finely dressed people leaving the building, and naturally assumed them to be customers, thinking nothing more of it.  Boris was first to move, quickly dashing into a wall- being spotted by a guard in the process who sounded an alarm, getting others from inside to keep an eye out.  Now the guards were at attention, the medusa decided to attempt to make a distraction by calling a pidgeon and feeding it some corn so it would ‘annoy’ the guard.  It did so, but the guard seemed to just shrug it off, slightly intrigued by a bird in this highly pest-controlled part of Sigil.  Deciding if you want something doing, you should do it yourself, the medusa wild shaped into a small pterodactyl form to fly over the guard and do the same as the pidgeon whilst making an unconvincing ‘caw-caw’ sound.  This didn’t fool the guard for a second, who Magic Missiled whilst shouting about a druid attack, causing the medusa to quickly retreat.  The minotaur sighed and decided sometimes the simplest route is often the best, merely walking up the path and telling the guards he would like an audience with the master of the manor, which he was sure enough granted.  Deciding they could probably handle themselves, and that if they were needed then they could get the pidgeon to give a signal, the three girls decided to go to a nearby pub (The Hungry Halfling) for croissants, sitting outside where they could still see the pidgeon.
Inside the building, the minotaur was escorted to a waiting room as Boris explored the upstairs.  He found some fine art in the attic, and a small armoury in the basement, but failed to notice there was a secret door leading from the master bedroom to a study, where the pimp was currently.  Looking through the floor he noticed the minotaur and Steve had got inside, so decided to lie low for a bit.  The pimp was taking some time, and there were no opportune moments for Steve to get away, so the minotaur asked to use the toilet, which the guards allowed him to so long as he was escorted there.  Finding an area out of view of the other guards in the house, Steve jumped up to the ceiling as the minotaur attempted to grab the guard from behind, but failed miserably as the guard sidestepped and judo-flipped him to the floor.  The minotaur tried to bluff, saying he just tripped and tried to brace himself on the guard, and somehow was convincing enough for the guard to believe him.  Getting inside the bathroom the minotaur tried again, this time getting a good hold around the guard’s neck, but he still managed to trigger an Alarm through using a Silent Spell.  The guards came running at once, and the minotaur tried to squeeze some life out of him but once again he got flipped onto his back, the guard deciding if he survives then he would start training to be a monk.  Meanwhile, outside the pidgeon noticed the guards running inside so sounded the signal, so the girls quickly came running, firing arrows through the window getting a couple of glancing blows.  Steve got into a showdown with one of the guards, trading arrows with Magic Missiles, though he also noticed the door at the end of the hall and suspected there was an invisible man.  He informed everyone of this, and as the fight was quite one-sided the guards decided to retreat, all except one which was felled by the minotaur- this gave the medusa an opportunity to try out her tail with a trip attempt, but the guard just grabbed the tail and flipped the medusa onto her back.  Wasting no time, the minotaur set out to find the invisible man who he assumed was the pimp, and though the trail was quite hard to follow he found it led out through one of the open windows at the front of the building, so he continued to follow as the rest of the party searched the rooms.
The minotaur found the trail to be heading deep into the city, towards the bazaar, and though it proved difficult through the throng of people he tenaciously stayed on the trail- after half an hour or so he came across his mark, now visible, who was trying not to be seen in the crowd, though apparently very experienced at staying hidden as he looked like he could be a perfectly ordinary bystander.  The minotaur decided to confront him, first by causing a scene with Steve who would jump onto him- the half-elf predicted Steve’s attack and swung round attempting a punch but to no avail, though this gave the minotaur an excuse to confront him in the middle of the crowd, accusing him of harming his monkey.  Seeing the minotaur head towards him, the pimp quickly drank from a potion and disappeared, Steve falling to the ground, the half-elf apparently having used some form of teleportation potion.  The minotaur had lost the trail, and so headed back to the mansion to find the others.
Meanwhile, at the mansion, as the group was searching the various rooms, there came a shout from outside- ‘Come out with your hands up!’.  Immediately panicking, the centaur decided to make a run for it, Boris quickly concealing himself inside her as she jumped through the window only to be rooted to the spot with a Hold Person spell.  The city guard bound her hands and gagged her, wary of spellcasters, as those left inside the building considered their move.  The medusa suggested the cleric should try to break the spell with a Dispel Magic, which she attempted to no avail, so the cleric decided it would probably be best to give herself up, doing as the guards said and exited with her hands up and throwing her sword to the ground.  The medusa was still panicking, and tried to Meld Into Stone using the oven in the kitchen, but couldn’t stay still enough so left again and started setting fire to the building.  This prompted the guards to advance on the building to find the spellcaster they detected inside, as the medusa now started climbing into the toilet, using Obscuring Mist behind her.  Meanwhile the centaur managed to break free of the spell, and the guards trying to restrain her with some help from Boris who strength drained them- unfortunately the guards were aware of strength drain abilities and immediately knew it was an undead creature, so one of them Turned Undead killing Boris once and for all.  The centaur kept running, but was attacked by a Howling Chain spell which immediately wrapped itself around her, bringing her crashing to the floor and producing a terrifying effect, causing her to pass out.  The cleric and centaur were loaded into the back of the prison wagon, as the medusa luckily discovered there is in fact a sewer system in Sigil that she could escape through, and it would take a while for the guards to discover that that was her exit.
Needless to say, when the minotaur returned he saw the mansion surrounded by guards, and decided his best course of action would be to return to the pub.
Once at the prison, the centaur and cleric were escorted to the holding cells, both now accepting of their fate, and were told they would be interviewed individually.  First was the cleric, who decided the best thing to do would be to tell as much of the truth as possible, so shared her story of how she had been told the pimp’s workers were enslaved and that they would be liberating them, and that the minotaur and shadow were in charge of the rescue mission.  The guards were interested to hear more of this ‘shadow man’, and were told that he had a special pardon from the Lady which they found highly unusual, and would have to check to see if this was true.  The cleric told them of their headquarters, and of the Rosy Petal, and was noticeably shocked when she was told that everyone who worked for the half-elf pimp did so of their own free will, were given high pay and lived in one of the better parts of the city, and simply said that that was not what she was told.  The guards led her back to the holding cell and invited the centaur in, who was noticeably a lot more nervous.  She decided she was better off saying as little as possible, worried she would say something that wouldn’t match the cleric’s story.  She explained they were going to rescue the pimp’s workers, told they were slaves by the shadow man, and when questioned she also said the shadow had been given a special pardon by the Lady.  Satisfied that their stories matched, they were left in the holding cells a while as they checked with the Lady to see if she knew of this shadow person she had apparently pardoned, despite shadows being the enemy.

the medusa also thought she heard singing... "Don't worry... be happy..."

Meanwhile, the medusa was exploring the sewers trying to find a safe way out- knowing that the main exits would be the city barracks, the prison, or the courthouse- all places she didn’t want to be.  After some exploration, she could hear a slithering from up ahead and due to her current skittishness was convinced it must be a sewer-dwelling dragon so exited the quickest way possible- upwards.  Unfortunately she wasn’t the best at climbing, and the sides of the pipes were very slippery, meaning she got stuck at the bottom end of the pipe, as the slithering got closer and revealed itself to be a Black Pudding directly below her.  She was aware that Black Puddings are a type of Ooze, and therefore only get stronger if hit with slashing weapons and would be deadly should she fall into one.  She continued trying to climb, but to no avail as the ooze merely waited for her to fall, however when the medusa decided to fire her bow at it then all she succeeded in doing was making it angry so it started climbing slowly after her.  She couldn’t outrun it, as it enveloped her foot and completely dissolved her boot as she clambered a bit higher, only to get stuck again letting the ooze envelop her other foot.  Slashing at it with her tail, she succeeded in creating an identical duplicate of the pudding and also lost her balance, falling inside it where she lost almost all of her equipment and much of her health.  Knowing her only way out was down, she quickly cured herself just in time to take damage that would have killed her as she swam through the second ooze, then fell to the contents of the sewer below, and quickly ran back the way she came.  Satisfied she was a safe distance away, she summoned a local rat that would hopefully guide her to a nearby exit, which it did as she climbed up to the manhole and banged and shouted at it, not strong enough to move it.  She heard voices from above, and the manhole started to move showing the faces of two dwarves, both unable to speak common but invited her in to their forge nonetheless, fetching a barrel of water for her to clean herself up with, though she wasn’t in a state of mind to do anything- half-naked and having lost all her equipment, she just sat rocking back and forth muttering about her shoes and twitching.  A couple of hours passed and she eventually composed herself well enough to robe herself with modest robes the dwarves offered her, and hire a Sedan Chair to take her back to the pub.

If you know where the pic's from then you'll guess why it's here

Back at the prison, the guards heard from the Lady who had insisted she had no idea about this ‘shadow man’, so the guards came to the logical conclusion that this group of adventurers had been tricked by a shadow spy, though quite why he had targeted a half-elven townsman was anybodies guess.  The prisoners were free to go, and on returning to the pub the centaur discovered she was suddenly the heir to the Rosy Petal, the deed being in Boris’ name and Boris had bequeathed it to her, for reasons only he knows.  The centaur also discovered that amongst Boris’ possessions that she had inherited, was his sword which was still inside her body.  The cleric calmly tried to inform her of this, with the words ‘don’t panic, but…’ which just terrified the centaur even more who desperately tried not to think of the sword soldifying itself inside her.  They quickly (but carefully) got to the weapons shop to get Cecilia, the yuan-ti sorceress, to remove the weapon which she did with the use of an Ethereal Jaunt spell, relishing in extracting the sword as slowly as possible so the centaur could see the size of the greatsword that was inside her.
It was quickly decided that the party should rest after the day’s events, and they would probably be on the lookout for any assassins hired by the pimp in the near future…
Important Events:
Everybody gains a wish, as listed above.
Boris dies.
Centaur inherits brothel, intending to turn it into a strip club/burlesque.
Medusa loses nearly all of her equipment, surviving with a bag of holding and some very damaged armour.
A pimp is angered.

Flash! Aaaaaaaaaargh

The cleric used this time to Restore the medusa and the centaur, keeping her distance from the minotaur.  The group were now stuck in this city, not knowing where to go- the portal they used to come in having sealed up behind them, only reopening to drop off the stonechild who had searched for the party.  The cleric went off to explore the city for herself, hoping to find some sort of clue, and the others decided the gyroscope must be the way out.  The gyroscope was huge, and was emitting a faint humming with the buttons on its control panel looking like they were willing the group to push them.  The medusa decided to take a closer look, but after confirming they were not magical runes she was pushed onto the panel by the minotaur, and instantly disappeared.  The minotaur shrugged, and followed suit- pushing a button and teleporting away.  Boris also investigated, trying to push buttons but failing due to his incoporeality- though luckily he found one button that could be used whilst incoporeal, and so he pushed that.  The centaur was next, and held onto the stonechild as she pushed a button- and sure enough she teleported but the stonechild remained.  Steve had been watching, and made sure to push the same button as the centaur, and finally the stonechild pushed a button at random, following the others into the unknown, leaving the cleric behind.

like this, but the human wasn't so armoured

When the party arrived in their new destination, they were seperated- all apart from Steve and the centaur who had pressed the same button and therefore were together.  As they arrived, each member got a message in telepathically in their head, saying ‘You have been caught trying to sabotage one of my power sources, for which you will be punished.  Welcome to the Maze.  If you are lucky, you will find the single portal that leads you to the exit.’  The minotaur was unfazed, being familiar with mazes, and whilst not as good with them as the rest of his family he still wouldn’t get lost, knowing if he turns back on himself at all.  With this knowledge, he marched onward tracking Steve.  When the centaur and Steve started off, they quickly came across one of the other inhabitants of the maze- a human wearing not very much other than a large sword strapped across his back.  Steve went into his usual role around strangers of acting as a perfectly ordinary monkey, and after a brief introduction the human and centaur decided to stick together, the centaur wary as the human said he could fight and cast magic- something she had only bad experiences of previously with other party members.  Meanwhile, Boris had just picked a random direction and drifted straight through the walls, after getting a bit of a headache when he tried to investigate above and below only to find more maze, but eventually his plan paid off as he stumbled across the stonechild.  The minotaur had caught up with the centaur and Steve by this point, and got Steve’s attention in giant- which unfortunately drew the human’s attention to him, who panicked on seeing a minotaur in a maze- not helped any by the centaur who screamed ‘Run! It’s a minotaur!’.  The facade was short lived though, as the minotaur and centaur started laughing as the human was visibly terrified.  Following the noise of the screaming, the medusa and stonechild met up and followed the sounds to the rest of the party- the medusa noticed the human run past the intersection ahead and so ran to meet him, narrowly avoiding falling into the minotaur and centaur who were following behind.  Once again, the human was tricked with the centaur shouting ‘It’s a medusa!’ and started running, avoiding the stone gaze he knew medusas had.  The medusa tried to intimidate the human further but failed miserably as she ended up reassuring the human who noticed he didn’t get turned to stone, though Boris attempted to steal the human’s weapon whilst he was distracted, spotting it was a ghost touch weapon and therefore usable by incoporeal creatures, but the human had the prescence of mind to stop the shadow.
As the party rested for a moment, now they were reunited, the medusa thought she could hear something that sounded like dull thuds, not dissimilar to footprints of large dinosaurs.  She cast a Daylight spell, illuminating the whole corridor, and Boris went through the walls to investigate.  Sure enough, a creature was spotted that was somewhat dazed by the intense light, and appeared to be a grotesquely misshapen  giant, specifically a Fomorian.  It did not appear to be interested in battle, so the minotaur decided to question it.  The giant told them that he had been stuck here for months, sent here for committing a murder in Sigil, and has since been scavenging on whatever he could find, and sure enough he would leave the group alone- if they could find alternative food for him.  Luckily, the group had some alternative food in the form of the herbal allosaur burgers, which the formorian eagerly devoured.  Once he was sated, the creature introduced himself as Urthak and asked the minotaur if he would be interested in a test of strength- in his culture, the strongest always has power over the weakest, and evidently this minotaur has many slaves accompanying him.  The minotaur accepted, and the fomorian threw down his flail as he psyched himself up.  The minotaur acknowledged the lack of weapon, so started with an attempted gore attack- charging in, the giant was ready and grabbed the bull by the horns, flipping him over onto his back (though not before the minotaur got a hit in).  As the creature tried to trample the minotaur, the bull punched him in the foot which caused a surprising amount of damage, which impressed the giant.  The minotaur kicked the giant’s flail out of reach and decided to use his axe- it never being stated that this was a non-lethal test.  Urthak didn’t mind, as he managed to reach his flail, though after suffering another mighty blow the giant conceded that the minotaur was the stronger fighter, and therefore the fomorian would be in his service for now.  After recovering their wounds, the party continued on their journey to find a way out of the maze.
A couple of hours passed, and the group began to notice spiders webs lining the tunnels.  Forward was the only way they could go, so first the medusa summoned her lizard friends to scout ahead, which they did willingly as the human ran off in the alternative direction.  Time passed, and the human found himself back where he started as the lizards were re-summoned.  The lizards told the others of what lay ahead, all they saw was more webs.  The party continued on, and at the next intersection they thought they could hear a skittering noise from one of the passages, which Boris decided must be a Dragon so he ran on ahead down a different passage.  The group waited for him to return, and he discovered a spider-like creature that had several humanoid eyes.  The creature told Boris that she and her sister had set up a lair in these tunnels, where there was often a steady supply of victims.  Boris said he could lure their next lunch closer, and accompanied the spider back to the party- though the other spider had by now got within threatening range of the group, so they attacked.
The medusa was first to spot the spider, noticing that it was not in fact a spider- it had ten legs- and although called a Harpoon Spider it was in fact an aberration.  The first thing the medusa did was use Daylight, followed by a quick rapid shot of her bow.  Unfortunately, she was in such a panic that she tripped over whilst drawing her bow, and managed to stab herself through the jaw with her own arrow.  And this being a magical bow, when it senses that it has struck a vital area, it emitted a Thundering effect- almost enough to deafen everyone around.  The group sighed at the medusa’s ineptitude, and the minotaur went in for the charge, having to step over the medusa to do so- which, again, unfortunately injured the medusa and there was an ominous snap as the minotaur stepped on her, followed by an intense flash of light that blinded the centaur, and suddenly everyone was fully healed, but also dangerously close to spontaneously combusting due to the immense amount of positive energy all had received.  The minotaur felt this, and stopped short of his target demanding that it hit him.  The spider was confused by it’s meal offering itself to her, so ignored him thinking it must be an elaborate bluff, and so moved on, though unfortunately not before Steve imploded with the positive energy, covering everybody with positively charged monkey brains.  The medusa had meanwhile called out for Urthak to hit them, which the minotaur agreed to, so the giant started hitting the centaur with his flail.  The centaur acknowledged it was necessary, but still wanted to injure the medusa for caudsing this so attempted to step on her but only succeeded in throwing more dust into her eyes making her blinded still further.  The stonechild and human were busy hitting themselves with their weapons, again causing a deafening thud with the stonechild’s hammer, and the spider with Boris just watched the carnage, concerned at the fact their meals were tenderising themselves.  The spider that had ignored the minotaur decided to go on the offensive, firing it’s fangs as harpoons at the stonechild and human, though not able to grab a hold and it didn’t take long before the spider was cleaved by the minotaur from behind.  The fomorian had been convinced to leave the centaur alone now as she was no longer in danger of exploding, and instead focused on the dead spider, pulling its legs off and playing with its tendons.  The party now turned their attention to the other spider who was climbing the wall, and as they got closer the spider successfully harpooned the human, leaving him hanging in the air which the stonechild saw as a good opportunity to rid the human of any risk of exploding like monkey.  Unfortunately he misjudged, and ended up killing the human outright, which at least gave Boris an opportunity to grab the sword, and raising it over his head in triumph Boris brought it down, killing the spider in one blow.
Mourning the loss of Steve, and looting the human’s body (though taking his head in case of resurrection), the party continued, searching the corpses that were scattered around the spider’s lair though not finding anything of particular interest.  They eventually found their way out of the spider’s territory, and after a couple of hours more travel- the minotaur getting increasingly worried about his level drain that was still in effect- the centaur could hear a female voice that sounded like it was calling for help but in an unknown language.  Luckily the medusa could speak the language, identifying it as Celestial, and guided the girl to the party who revealed herself to be a beautiful Deva, holding a large sword.  Evidently she was not something likely to kill them without provocation, so the party attempted to communicate.  She informed them that she was sent here by the Lady for no apparent reason, she was just a messenger for the celestial realm who were annoyed that the Lady had interfered with one of their plans.  The deva was told of the minotaur’s affliction, and said she would be able to delay it but not remove it completely, which the minotaur was grateful for.  She also revealed that one of her powers was raising the dead though she would need the whole body, so the group recovered the corpse of the human to be raised.  On return, the medusa wondered if the deva would be capable of a Reincarnation rather than standard Raise Dead, and the deva said she would be willing to give it a try.  After some concentration, the spell did indeed seem to be working (though came close to resulting in a Polymorph Other instead) and the body started fluctuating between different forms, some elven, some gnomish, though finally settling on female Kobold.  Understandably the now-kobold was not too happy about his (or, more accurately, ‘her’) new form, but at least it was alive again.  With this, the group decided it was probably night time so settled down for some rest.
In the middle of the night, the stonechild noticed a breeze starting to gather around the party so woke them quickly.  The wind was quite noticeable and seemed to be blowing from one end of the corridor to the other, so the party decided to follow it to its source, hoping for an open portal.  They followed, coming to a wall and no sign of any portal.  Boris looked through the wall, nothing.  The minotaur tried drawing a door with his magic chalk, still nothing.  Whilst investigating, another voice could be heard on the wind- on turning, the party saw a pair of windrazors, an extraplanar creature that delights in violence who were heading straight for them.  The party readied their weapons, but first the creatures had to get past Urthak.  He tried to grab one out of the air, but failed when the creatures got a hard hit on him, so violent were they in their assault that it was enough to shaken the giant and reveal a third creature.  When they flew for their next attack, one hit the minotaur and the other hit the stonechild as the third flew over the whole party, leaving all three in perfect position for retaliation, and sure enough they fell within seconds, the Deva demonstrating her skill with her flaming greatsword and Holy Smite.
This left the group with a still breezy corridor, and the medusa noticed her back was damp for some reason.  Looking in all directions she couldn’t see the source of the water, then realisation dawned.  She tentatively looked into her pack and almost got knocked down by a small typhoon eminating from her pack, the bags that contained the elementals starting to leak.  A water elemental started to form out of one of them, and swiped at the medusa as it was steadily growing bigger, so it was quickly decided that these bags should be disposed of by hanging the bag of devouring on the wall and sending a small summoned pterodactyl through it whilst carrying them.  The party were expecting an interdimensional tear or something, but none happened- instead a satisfied bag of devouring fell to the floor and the elementals were disposed of, which was enough to stop the wind blowing through the tunnel leaving the group as lost as they had been throughout.  The minotaur decided the next plan should be to keep a wall on their left side at all times, and sure enough after a couple more intersections a portal opened up before them, which the party eagerly dived through including the deva, though the fomorian was not quick enough and unfortunately remained behind.

Boris gains a level in badass

Important events:
Cleric left back in city, will catch up next session.
Met Chris’ character, a human rage mage who died and got reincarnated as a kobold.
Encountered and  befriended a fomorian
steve dies from a HP overdose
befriended a Deva
lost summoning bags due to leak.

The Strength of the Shadow

Before we get to the fight with the Storm Elemental, the medusa and the cleric were returning.  Passing through the room with the five-headed terror, the medusa had a look into the volcano, seeing the flock of fire bats overhead and the minotaur swinging to the other side below.  Continuing on quickly, they found themselves in the room with the graves, and after noticing the signs of a recent battle, they hurried on eager to catch up with the rest of the group.  The medusa was first to cross the wooden bridge, wild shaping into the form of a very small pterodactyl to fly to the other side- though unfortunately she attracted the attention of the fire bats who flew after her.  The cleric offered some ranged support, using her wand of magic missile which was enough to injure but not kill any of them, and Boris’ shadow merely danced around mocking the others who were struggling.  The medusa quickly transformed back as one of them latched onto her arm, and she ran screaming down the metal hall whilst bashing the bat against the wall but to no avail.  Luckily the cleric had the idea of creating water over the group, not enough to extinguish their flames but enough to annoy them sufficiently that the main group retreated, and once the bat that was attacking the medusa had its fill of her blood, it also retreated, leaving the cleric to cross the bridge safely.
They advanced down the metal corridor, wary of the runes on either side, and found the large steel door the rest of the party had entered moments before.  Trying it without hesitation, the medusa quickly realised it could be trapped but too late- though luckily for her, it wasn’t.  They entered the first room, which changed from how the others saw it- this time it had empty shelves and the wardrobe was on the other side of the room.  Whilst investigating, they heard noises coming from the room next door, so Boris poked his head through the wall and saw the others throwing their elemental bags into the corner of the room.  Opening the door, the medusa and cleric saw the storm elemental rising in front of them, the minotaur charging straight at it, the stonechild hurriedly getting out of harm’s way.

Unfortunately, there wasn't a bag of heart

In mid-charge, the elemental reached its full strength and expelled its thunder and lightning, deafening everyone around and very nearly killing Boris, and frying the minotaur with it’s bolt of electricity.  The minotaur continued regardless, trying to find a somewhat solid part of the elemental to hit with his axe, taking some static charge in the process, as the centaur and Steve fired their arrows attempting to do some damage.   The cleric and medusa did what they could, firing their wands and healing when possible, though none of the party knew if what they were doing had any effect.  Luckily, before the elemental could fire another Thunder and Lightning, it was slain, the bags that created it falling harmlessly to the ground where the medusa hurriedly picked them up before noticing the ground was moving underneath them.  Quickly retreating to the other rooms, they watched as the metal ground slided away, revealing steps leading down to a small hole with a ladder.  Deciding it was the only way to go, the party descended (save for the stonechild, who heard the rumbling of the ground so stayed hidden throughout).
On the next level, they found themselves in another metal corridor, quite narrow and splitting in two directions.  The group decided this would be a good time to recover their wounds from the previous battle, so as they settled down to rest the medusa summoned a pair of small possum-like lizards to investigate where the tunnels led.  They didn’t return, so the medusa resummoned them after a while and they informed her that there was nothing but corridor and eventually they met with themselves at the other end- the tunnel seemed to go all the way around the volcano with no doors or passages leading off of it, and before they could return the summoning spell expired and they were dismissed.  Satisfied with this, the party rested for the night, the only significant event being the medusa investigating the elemental bags and finding a ruby inside the first of them.  She took it out, and dropped it as it suddenly ignited, almost setting fire to the cleric who was sleeping by her feet.  The cleric woke as the medusa quickly picked the gem up, using the bag, so the cleric decided to take her watch as she was now up, praying in the process as she had no idea what time of day it was.  The night passed uneventfully, and as the group prepared their breakfast the centaur decided to investigate the tunnel to see if she could spot anything the summoned animals missed.  She didn’t, and when she returned then Steve suggested to the minotaur that no-one had searched the walls yet.  The minotaur knocked, and found his hand went right through, and as the medusa deciphered the runes on the wall she found they read the second half of the riddle above: ‘any other obstacles are but an illusion’.  The animals were once again summoned, and sent through the wall to report what they found on the other side- but they didn’t return.  The medusa shrugged, and walked straight through regardless, followed by the centaur and Steve, but the minotaur stopped the cleric before she could enter.  The cleric wondered what he could want, and saw he was down on one knee, offering the ring with the swirling blue gem.  A moment of silence passed, the cleric noticeably flustered.  The minotaur was growing nervous, ‘you’d best say something soon…’, but the cleric politely declined, as diplomatically as possible ‘I’m sure you’re a lovely person, but you’re just not my type’.  The minotaur grunted, put his ring away, and walked through the wall, leaving the cleric to follow as she tried to consider what exactly had just happened.
On the other side, the group found themselves in a very dark, shadowy city- the portal sealing as soon as they entered, evidently a one-way portal.  The minotaur distanced himself from the group, but all noticed that there were creatures around them, glowing eyes in the darkness and the occasional growl.  The cleric decided to put a spell of Light on herself, but it was quickly extinguished by the shadows.  The medusa tried her own Light spell, but that was also extinguished.  Advancing further into the city, the party found what they believed to be their target- a large mysterious structure, similar to a gyroscope, but with a swirling mass of dark shadow on top of it.  Before they could get too close, a couple of the creatures lining the causeway pounced on the group, revealing themselves to be shadow mastiffs but masterfully blending themselves into the shadows making this a tough fight- made all the harder thanks to the minotaur dragging his heels and refusing to participate, and Boris accidentally healing the shadow creature with his strength drain, though the party seemed to think they could handle themselves well enough.  The fight was certainly made much easier once the cleric and druid realised they shared a spell that could help: Daylight, and sure enough when Daylight was cast it wasn’t extinguished by the shadow.  This meant the mastiffs couldn’t shadow blend, making them easy targets, and the other mastiffs started backing off, but the cluster of shadow on the gyroscope remained unaffected.  Once the mastiffs were destroyed, the shadows began to laugh.
‘How amusing,’ it said, ‘you’re even more pathetic than the others that have come here’.  And with that, the druid quickly began casting Call Lightning, fearing the worst.  The creature in the shadows was delighted with this choice of spell, as all dragons have a flair for the dramatic- unfurling its wings against a backdrop of a crackling storm, the first bolt unable to overcome the Shadow Dragon’s spell resistance.  The party readied themselves, knowing they were in for a fight.  The dragon, knowing the lightning could prove dangerous and seeing the centaur readying a shot, quickly Dimension Doored to one of the nearby buildings, hoping to provoke the party into a tight cluster.  Again, the party rearranged formation for its new position, but the dragon created a Mirror Image- two identical duplicates flew to other vantage points, one back to the gyroscope, one to a building on the opposite side of the plaza, no way of telling the difference between either of them.  The cleric thought quickly, and used her wand of Magic Missile to determine which were the illusions and which was real, revealing the one that didn’t move was the true dragon.  The dragon was pleased that all the party were reacting in ways that revealed their strengths, as it was now aware that the medusa was a druid, calling the forces of nature; the centaur was an archer, predictably- not a problem for such a heavily armoured creature; and the cleric could use magic missile, interestingly, and the daylight itself was enough to show she was indeed a cleric- the dragon called upon its powers of shadow, making the landscape flicker as the previous spell ended and immediately replaced to extinguish the Daylight, which in turn was quickly replaced by the druid but served its purpose to slightly panic the casters.  The minotaur was suspiciously quiet, and the monkey sat on it had obvious signs of intelligence, so the dragon flew straight over the party, exposing all to its Frightful Prescence- enough to make the monkey panic and run as far as it could.  The rest of the party were slightly shaken, but held their resolve well as the dragon landed on the opposite building.  At this point, the minotaur had enough of the dragon’s mind games, and hadn’t acted before merely because it was perched out of reach- however he decided this building might just be weak enough that if he charged it- which he did- then it might crumble with the force combined with the dragon’s weight- which it did.  The dragon was visibly shocked by this display of strength, managing to suspend itself in flight but not without taking a hit from the minotaur as the centaur ran to flank it.  The dragon clawed back at the minotaur, spotting the medusa running into position nearby, and once the medusa, minotaur, and centaur were in the right position it flew over the minotaur, willing to let him have an attack of opportunity, leaving the three lined up perfectly for it to shoot forth a cone of intense negative energy, causing level drain in all three.  The minotaur and centaur felt weaker, but decided the dragon had to be killed before they could do anything about it, but as the medusa was panicking about whether it could cast spells any more it ran to the cleric, who prepared a Restoration spell though it would take a little while.

all dragons have a flair for the dramatic

The dragon started concentrating on the minotaur, thinking the easiest way to deal damage to it would be through spells.  It started with a spell it learned from one of it’s expeditions to a jungle, where it encountered the high priest of an evil cult- muttering ‘Kali-Ma’ to itself several times, an illusory hand appeared in front of the minotaur and entered his chest, heading for his heart- but the minotaur was too strong, able to resist the magic attempting to pull his heart from his chest.  The minotaur retaliated with a couple of strikes as the centaur ran to the medusa to pick up some more ammunition.  Once again, the group was in a perfect position for another of the dragon’s weapons- this time a spell it observed a cleric of Ilmater perform, when a party of adventurers tried to take on the dragon’s lair and as such they got surrounded by the dragon’s kobold followers.  Clerics of Ilmater are known for emporing spells with their own suffering, and this particular spell involves expelling elemental force from the user’s body, and if the user chooses to take damage then it doubles the effectiveness, though of course the self-inflicted damage would have to overcome the user’s own spell resistance, which in this case it didn’t as a cloud of acid burst forth from the dragon, injuring the entire party and successfully disrupting the cleric’s restoration spell without affecting the dragon itself.  Seeing the minotaur readying another powerful strike, the dragon muttered something incomprehensible to itself but the minotaur’s raging blow was enough to fell it, the shadow dragon returning to the plane from whence it came.
With the dragon felled, light returned to the city and the shadows evaporated, there being no sign of the mastiffs that were there before, however the gyroscope was still stationary.  The minotaur and medusa decided to hunt out the dragon’s hoard, as the others investigated the gyroscope.  There was a control panel there, but this was well out of any party member’s area of expertise, but there was a big green button and a big red button.  The centaur decided green must be good, because it’s the colour of grass and trees and nature, whereas red is the colour of fire and demons and general bad things.  Steve thought it could be a bluff, and that the green button summoned the dragon, however he decided it was more likely to be a double bluff so pressed it anyway- causing the gyroscope to start spinning into life.  Before investigating further, he party regrouped at the dragon’s hoard.
As usual, to be continued…

The Dragon’s Hoard:
A small obsidian pyramid with dragon etchings on the side, unknown value.
A tiara with ornate dragon horns, unknown value.
A fine toothed comb, in the shape of a dragon, unknown value.
A psionic crystal of Cognizance.
Pipes of Frenzied Revelry, a relic for worshippers of Olidamarra.
A Radiant Sphere, a crystal that emits bright light and has various effects.
3000GP
7000SP

Important events:
Stonechild needs to catch up
Shadow Dragon killed (or is it?)
Minotaur and Centaur level drained by 1, 23 hours to recover before permanent.
Medusa level drained by 3, 23 hours to recover.
Cleric rejected minotaur’s proposal, possible repercussions.

Deeper Dungeon Delving

Not all halflings look like Frodo... but this one does

Boris’ shadow scouted ahead, to find the source of the shrieking, though for reasons unknown to the party he didn’t resurface.  The medusa and cleric decided to head back to retrieve the dwarf without the centaur or minotaur noticing, but before the remaining party could get much further then their halfling friend turned up, apparently bored of waiting on the surface with the dwarf.  Believing they had a big enough group to face any further challenges, the group consisting of the minotaur, centaur, halfling and Steve continued down to the next level, where the screams had come from earlier.  Luckily the steps widened for the minotaur, and the party found themselves in a huge cavern with giant pillars supporting the ceiling, as well as the lack of one of the walls being extremely noticeable as it revealed the fiery glow of the interior of the volcano.  Letting the monkeys go first (Steve and the halfling), the minotaur and centaur stayed back in case of trouble.
Sneaking slowly, the first thing the halfling noticed was a hidden door built into the wall which he made a mental note of for later.  It didn’t take long before he discovered the stairs to the next level as well, and on the other side of the room he could see lots of rubble from the roof caving in, as well as what appeared to be a sleeping creature in the corner.  Telling Steve about his discoveries, the monkey attempted to communicate to him that he should investigate further but to no avail.  With the halfling looking at the monkey’s gesturing with a blank stare, a burst of magic nearby revealed the familiar figure of Zartok the Magnificent.  Checking his surroundings before announcing himself, he discovered he was in a cavern inside a volcano, and got himself involved in the monkeys conversation.  Understanding Steve perfectly, Zartok the Magnificent was told to send the halfling further to investigate, which he did willingly.  Steve climbed up a pillar for safety, and Zartok the Magnificent came up with the idea of casting Light on one of the centaur’s arrows, and shooting it in the floor near the creature to get a better view.  The plan worked, and it was now clear that the creature was an aberration, appearing to be a pair of wings attached to five heads on tentacles.  The light caused the creature to stir slightly, so the party moved into a position to be ready for battle.  Sure enough, the creature unfurled and started levitating, letting out a blood curdling scream that paralysed the halfling and Steve with fear.  It then advanced to the others, who were starting to get a little distracted by the scent of the organic waste they found themselves near.  All were also aware that after the scream, there was a noise coming from the volcano- a high pitch squeaking and some fluttering.   Luckily the halfling was now out of sight of the creature as it passed behind a pillar, and so he moved to a better vantage position- i.e the exit- as the minotaur charged in, overtaken by Zartok the Magnificent’s Lightning Bolt as the centaur ran to flank it, and with a skilful shot managed to sever one of it’s heads.  Much to the minotaur’s horror, however, the wounds were already starting to heal and it appeared the stump of it’s head was starting to split in two as it regenerated- so the minotaur quickly cauterised the tentacle to stop it’s head regrowing.  Meanwhile, the fluttering and crackling noise of fire was getting closer as what first appeared to be a huge creature of fire was quickly revealed to be a flock of smaller fire creatures.  Leaving the raging minotaur to carve up the shrieking five-headed terror (yes that is their actual name), the centaur turned her attention to the flock as Zartok the Magnificent cast an Ice Storm on them, which seemed to serve its purpose as the flock left as quickly as they had come.  Nearing death, the terror let out another shriek, enough to paralyse Zartok the Magnificent and Steve still further, but it was too little too late as the minotaur dealt the killing blow, breaking the fear-stricken characters free of their enchantment.  Cautious to stop the creature from healing itself, the minotaur made sure to chop up its body as finely as possible and throw it into the heart of the volcano, piece by piece.
As the battle had raged, the halfling who originally intended to retreat to the next level instead let his curiosity get the better of him, investigating the hidden door.  The door opened freely, and didn’t appear to be trapped, and inside was a tiny alcove which contained a metallic chest, covered in runes.  The halfling had encountered magical traps before, and dealt with these swiftly- rubbing some dirt against the runes to make them fade, and he opened the chest easily to find nothing but a tiny ring in the corner of it- too small for his own fingers, despite his already small size.  Luckily as he was analysing it then it expanded to fit his finger, and as he put it on he noticed there was an empty socket on it that looked like it should contain a gemstone of some sort.
The battle had finished by now, and as the minotaur was dessicating the corpse, Zartok the Magnificent was detecting any magic amongst the organic waste which he realised that although it was mostly faeces, it also contained ancient kitchen waste and was apparently from the hole above that led to the kitchens and mess on the previous level.  The centaur, meanwhile, had noticed the halfling had gone missing and, having easily spotted the hidden door, she went to it to try and catch him in the act of looting secretly from the party.  Sure enough, he was still in there, but it was far too cramped for her to see what he was doing.  Letting him out, she confronted him over what he found, and he freely admitted he had found a ring, which he let the wizard identify.  The wizard’s eyes lit up with recognition, and informed the halfling that it was a ring of spell storing, demonstrating by imbuing it with three magic missiles, which caused blue swirls to appear in the place of the gemstone.  He gave it back to the halfling, saying that the halfling could now use these magic missiles whenever he liked but once they’re gone they’re gone.  The party thought that once the spells are used, it may be best in the hands of the cleric when she returned, but until then the halfling could wear it, and so the group continued on to the next level, Zartok the Magnificent teleporting away once more, perhaps for the best as he had used up his daily allotment of powerful spells.
The next level contained another large room, this one better constructed and full of graves- better kept than the ones on the surface, each with inscribed plaques implying these were noble’s graves, and again one of the walls was open to the volcano- this time with a bridge starting to enter it.  Once again, the two monkeys went on ahead- Steve keeping close to the walls and the halfling navigating carefully around the graves, taking a seemingly erratic path to avoid traps (in truth he was just using his gut instinct).  Every step the minotaur and centaur were expecting a trap to go off, and were rather amused by the halflings display, and sure enough when the halfling reached about two thirds of the way across, three graves started to open, with what appeared to be zombies emerging.  Deciding this wasn’t worth their time, the minotaur and centaur ran to the bridge, but stopped short when they saw the stone bridge became wood a little further on, and the fire bats were starting to swoop in again.  Deciding not to risk burning their only way across, the minotaur decided these zombies would be an easy win so concentrated on them as the centaur attempted to pick off the bats before they posed any problems.  The first zombie lunged for the halfling, but failed miserably, breaking what was left of his leg in the attempt.  The halfling defended himself as the other zombies shambled closer, but seemingly transforming befor ethe halflings eyes, the creature seemed to be speeding up, a large worm crawling around its face and suddenly all three of the undead were moving at twice the speed of zombies.  It still wasn’t enough to touch the halfling, so he ran as far from the creature as possible, as the minotaur starting dealing with the other two.  Whilst dealing a lot of damage, it wasn’t enough to fell them, and after a couple of lucky hits one of the undead’s worms leapt from it to the minotaur, wrapping itself around his shoulder.  The minotaur ignored it for now, concentrating on the larger creatures still trying to slam him whilst also batting off the fire bats that were starting to head towards him, the centaur and Steve still helping pick them off where possible.  The halfling was still undergoing his battle with one of the undead creatures, and sure enough this one’s worm transferred itself to the halfling, attaching itself to his side, and both the halfling’s and the minotaur’s worms started burrowing into their skin, slowly climbing to their heads.  The minotaur finally managed to fell the creatures, and called Steve over to remove this worm that was now climbing his neck as he carried on hitting the bats.  It didn’t take long for the bats to decide they were beat, and started retreating into the volcano once more, leaving the halfling to slash wildly at the zombie as the centaur killed it with a single shot.  The halfling quickly used his dagger to remove the worm, throwing it into the volcano, and Steve did the same for the minotaur’s worm, the minotaur luckily able to grab hold of it inside his face before it could burrow to his brain.

After the battle, the open graves were searched where amongst the usual pile of coins were two scrolls and some gloves.  The halfling identified the scrolls, one being a scroll of Cure Serious Wounds (identified by the large green cross on it), and the other being a scroll of Wind Walk.  The halfling was instantly relieved, deciding to use the healing scroll immediately, but perhaps he was a little too hasty as something wasn’t going quite right- in fact, rather than healing him as intended, he instead somehow managed to transfer the glowing green cross from the scroll and onto his head, giving him an eerie green glow- a little too eerie for the minotaur, who became convinced the worm must have burrowed to the halfling’s brain, and so killed him on the spot.  After some digging through his pockets, and reclaiming the ring, the centaur knowing there’s not much that can be done for the halfling, the body was disposed of in the volcano, and the pair (and Steve, who was luckily looking the other way when the halfling was killed) continued.
The stone bridge was easy enough to cross, but for whatever reason the creators of the dungeon decided it would be a good idea to have a flimsy wooden bridge crossing the main part of the volcano.  Wishing they had the cleric with them, with her scroll of Tenser’s Floating Disc, the group reluctantly continued- Steve running across easily, taking minimal damage from the intense heat, and followed by the centaur.  The centaur decided to take things relatively slowly, deciding against the force that would be exerted if she jumped, and whilst it worked for about twenty feet she found a particularly weak part and got her leg stuck when her hoof went through it.  She pulled herself free, and hurried over to the other side, still sweating from the heat.  Finally, it was the minotaur’s turn.  Seeing that the centaur broke through the bridge by walking down the middle, the minotaur instead decided to waddle across, supporting himself by bracing his legs on either side.  This seemed to work for a short time, until the bridge gave under his enormous weight and left him hanging on the side.  Luckily he managed to pull himself up onto the bridge again, and this time he could use his magic rope to attach to the other side, swinging him to safety (though singing his fur slightly from the heat).  Finally, they reached the other side, finding a mysterious metallic corridor, with faint glowing runes lining the sides.
The minotaur went first this time- crawling on his belly, getting burnt from the heated metal, but avoiding the possibly trapped runes, then followed the centaur- walking calmly though cautiously down the corridor, apparently not triggering the runes at all.  They then reached a curious door, which opened easily but the room behind seemed to shift as they watched.  A wardrobe appeared in one corner, and a pile of humanoid bones in another.  In the centre of the room was a small fire pit, with a tiny ember in the bottom.  Three doors led away from the room- one shut but unbolted, one strong and stuck, and the other strong but open.  The centaur and minotaur decided to take turns opening doors, so first inspecting the unbolted door, the centaur felt a needle prick into her hand as she touched the handle, feeling poison entering her body but easily shrugged off, and on the other side were what appeared to be ant people- Formians.  They hadn’t appeared to notice her, so the door was shut and the next door investigated.  The minotaur attempted to trick the centaur by re-opening the wardrobe, but the centaur wouldn’t fall for it, so the next proper door was opened.  Behind this one lay a spirit naga, who again didn’t notice them.  The minotaur immediately shut this door, not intending on reopening it due to his fear of snakes, and so the final door was tested- it didn’t budge, and when the minotaur rammed it it swung open, revealing a solid metal room with an inscription on the wall and a tall stone man who was looking at them.  Apparently the door was stuck because he was stood behind it, and before he could say anything the minotaur shut the door in his face.  After a small discussion, the door to the metal room was opened by the stonechild who explained that he wasn’t one of the monsters, and had been trapped in this strange complex for some time- several months in fact- and had no recollection of how he arrived there.  The minotaur and centaur decided he couldn’t be one of the monsters, as he wasn’t attacking and could leave his room, so he was invited to stay with the party for a while.  Being the only literate member of the group (Steve not wanting to show his sentience to a stranger), the centaur investigated the writing on the wall which read as follows:
‘When mortals beat nature’s wrath, the way forward will be clear.  Any other obstacles are but an illusion.’
Interestingly, the words shifted as she read, seemingly able to be read in all languages understood by the reader.  After speculating on the meaning of the riddle for a while, the group were reminded of the fire pit.  Thinking of ‘natures wrath’ it was decided this must have something to do with it, so they investigated and found that the small ember was coming from a bag at the bottom of the pit.  The stonechild carefully picked up the bag, taking care not to burn himself, and it was decided they should check the other rooms.  The minotaur went to open the door to the formians, but was warned by the centaur- the minotaur continued regardless, and instead of formians it was instead a group of troglodytes.  Curious, they checked the room with the naga which now contained a fiendish cleric, which the centaur shot at to test if it was an illusion.  The arrow hit him, and he was visibly wounded by it, but was just wandering the room looking for the source.  The centaur did a final test, stepping into the room and the fiend charged at her- so she left immediately and the fiend stopped in his tracks.  Leaving the rooms alone, and becoming ever more perplexed about this area, they considered they should check the other rooms that led from the metal room and see what they found.  Leaving Steve in the metal room, they first checked the room between the fiend and the metal room, and found it to be empty apart from a hole in the wall where there was a draft.  Keeping this door open, as there were no monsters, they checked the room attached to that one, finding a large group of driders and monstrous spiders but no other features.  Leaving this room alone, they checked the room opposite the one with the hole, finding a displacer beast and a brick wall.  Finally, they checked the room opposite the fire and as they predicted, there was a fountain- guarded by a Behir, a huge serpentine draconic beast.

She wasn't really expecting it either

Deciding they needed to get to these other elements, they fought the Behir- the minotaur charged in, planning to jump down its throat, being supported by the stonechild who used his mighty hammer to make the ground shake, but they were doing decidedly little damage to the creature.  The Behir in return tried to constrict the minotaur, but they were at a stalemate.  Steve and the centaur offered ranged support, knowing they were invisible to the creature, the comfort of which was apparently enough to give the centaur time to take a perfect shot- waiting for just the right moment where she had a clear line of sight for the beast’s head.  Taking her shot, the arrow sung as it glided through the air, greatly accelerated by the psychokinetic bow from which it was fired, and it struck with such force in the middle of the creatures forehead that it came out the other side, spilling brains all over the floor.  As soon as the creature fell, it evaporated into thin air, letting the party approach the fountain.  First they tried putting the bag of fire in the water, causing it to shake violently and the water started steaming.  On closer inspection, the water was indeed being produced from a similar bag, which was taken by the minotaur.  Checking the unguarded hole in the wall yielded another bag, producing a light breeze, taken by the centaur.  Finally, they had to beat the Displacer Beast- an easy task thanks to the stonechild’s Blind Fight ability, and the minotaur’s raw strength.  As with the Behir, the beast evaporated as soon as it fell, leaving Steve to claim the last bag.  Unfortunately, there was a brick wall in the way- which the minotaur punched his way through, finding a bag at the bottom of the wall.
Returning to the metal room, the group decided ‘nature’s wrath’ must be a storm- a combination of all elements.  The minotaur started by throwing his bag of water in the corner of the room, where a puddle started to form.  Next the centaur threw her bag of air into the puddle, causing the water to spout up as a small watery tornado.  The stonechild contributed his bag of fire, causing the spout to crackle with electricity, and so Steve added his bag of earth to the mix- causing all of the elements to wrap around themselves, the bags circling each other in the air, creating a vaguely humanoid shape made of crackling electricity and dark clouds- a Storm Elemental.  The minotaur and stonechild retreated to the water room, and Steve and the centaur to the earth room.  Knowing there was no way forward but to fight, the minotaur charged in…

And that’s all till next week.

Important Notes:
Ring of Spell Storing retrieved, with 3 charges of magic missile
Ed’s character died, replaced by a Stonechild barbarian/dwarfbonded
First ‘critical’ critical hit (double natural 20.  A third was also rolled, but wasn’t confirmed)

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