THE MUSSORGSKY PART
When last we encountered our dauntless rabble of exotic-class mid-level adventurers, they had sallied forth into the woods (sans coconut-hoof-sound makers). Not long thereafter, they emerged into a clearing and observed a small, windowless hut. Enclosing the curious abode was a fence made of posts, but even curiouser was the decorations. Adorning all but one fencepost was a skull, mostly humanoid. Hellspawn warlord, Marduk astutely noted that one eye socket of each cranium glowed blue and the other red. Upon this revelation, multiple 20-sided die hit the table for arcana checks. It was collectively determined that electrical and fire magic resided here. At one point in the grizzly circle (no bear pun intended), stood a gate made solely of bone and fashioned into a gaping mouth. The welcome mat cheerily beckoned, “Welcome to the Jaga’s Domain.” Footnote–this was later discovered to be the Polish, Slovak, and Chzek pronunciation for the witch of legend, Baba Yaga (See, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baba_Yaga, read it for clues, dudes). Osokah again consulted the compass ring, which pointed directly at the hut. Elaina had to be inside.
Osokah approached the gate with the ring outstretched, and the gate swung open by some unseen. The party cautiously passed the gate and into the Jaga’s front yard. A cursory jaunt around the house revealed that there was no visible front door. Rather, an adjacent and massive tree blocked the only logical place for an entrance relative to the bone gate. Momentarily befuddled, a voice drifted down from the trees, but no person could be seen in the boughs, only conversant stork-like creatures. (immediately reminding Osokah’s operator of this little gal, who the other operators no doubt had previously encountered).
These must have been the “little storks” to which Maude fondly referred. Having been cautioned to be very nice to these sentient avians, our adventurers expected some degree of annoyance from the storks; however, no such annoyance followed. In stead, a stork dropped down and offered advice that sped things up considerably. Osokah and Marduk explained the party’s relation to Maude. The diminutive winged figure referred to Maude’s sister a “Mad Elaina” and spat out the password to reveal the door, which was: “Little hut, little hut, turn around.” Duh. The storks also explained that “Natasha would not let Elaina out.”
Upon Osokah’s utterance of command phrase, the hut sprung to its “feet,” which were comprised of two giant chicken legs. These were more like Godzilla-Pterodactyl legs, and Phil immediately had visions of barbecue. A resounding fart snapped him out of this wet dream and back to the task at hand. The hut shook shook like a wet dog, and pine straw flew everywhere. It then took to giant steps, shaking the forrest floor as it rotated counter clockwise and revealing the door, which was now about 20 feet above our heroes’ heads. Great. Now they saw the door but could not reach it. No doubt the hut would be nonplussed by a handful of grubby strangers pawing at its scaled legs, and the talons on the feet looked rather sharp too. After some deliberation and conversation with the stork, the party learned that they needed to sweet-talk the hut. At once the party launched a volley of flattery and sugar-coated complements to the fine, sturdy construction of the hut itself and the shapely beautiful scaled legs. But the hut merely swayed back and forth, impervious to verbal sugar. Upping the ante, Grak produced a sapphire and cut a small length of rope. He affixed the gemstone to one of the taloned claws of the left chicken leg. Apparently, the hut preferred pecuniary tribute as it immediately plopped back down, just missing Grak. When the dust settled, the door flung open. In the party went.
Inside the chicken hut appeared unnaturally cavernous compared to the view from the outside. This spacial incongruity was explained by another successful arcana check . . . the place was crawling with magic. From under a debris-littered table crawled a black cat (familiar, anyone?). Although Osokah attempted discourse in the language of natural animal, the cat conveniently spoke common, which was unsurprising given recent events. From the talking puss, our heroes learned that it did not like Natasha very much and that Elaina could be found “through the attic.” (dungeon crawl, anyone?).
And so, upon the friendly feline’s advice, our heroes ascended the spiral stairs to what they thought would be the attic; however, they had arrived in a large cruciform shaped room sporting a door in each cardinal direction. The stairs continued upward, and the party opted for this path.
The second set of spiral stairs led them to an irregular-shaped room that was fragranced with the overpowering stench of garbage. Adding to the ambiance was a sticky, spongy floor. Not wanting to hang out here for to long, and fighting back gag reflexes, the party continued up the spiral stairs. To their surprise, our heroes emerged back on the first floor where they had originally entered the hut. Realizing that continuing on this trajectory would be a long trek to nowhere, they went back to the cruciform room and selected one of the doors.
The party entered a long wide hall with three other doors. Positioned around the room were six tarnished silver statues. With much of the group clustered around the entrance from where they came, Oran went to examine the statue at the far left wall of the room.
ROLL FOR INITIATIVE
(apologies in advance for not capturing the details of this encounter, as Osokah was busy keeping his homies from “Game Over”).
The long and short of it is this: Six shadow puppeteers emerged from the statues. Not long after the battle began, Phil got dominated (which did not make him smell any better). Either Gordon, the bleeding-heart dwarven cleric or Kalen, the bellybutton-lint-picking sorcerer, carved a rift in the time/space continuum and whisked the dominated sword mage away to a comfy oasis (pun intended) on the Astral Sea. Then Gordon and started kicking everyone in the party’s ass. In a fight that spanned two gaming sessions, eventually all shadows were defeated and both Gordon and Phil returned to their normal (relative term) selves. Phil, however, did smell a little better after his trip to the Astral Sea. Or maybe that was just a placebo effect.
The party then chose the east door, and Oran scouted ahead. Crossing the threshold and examining the room beyond, Oran spied a red quartz throne on an ornate diaz. Across the chamber were two birdlike yet humanoid beings sweeping a poop-crusted section of the floor. Needless to say, the sweepers were filthy. Before Oran could address them, the two hurled globs of guano at him. It stung . . . a lot (take acid damage). Hearing the commotion, the rest of the gang poured into the chamber single file.
ROLL FOR INITIATIVE.
It was on. Though cruddy and rather decrepit looking, these birdies packed a magical wallop. Shaking their broom/staffs wildly, the room was all a splatter with sizzling guano. Ranged counter attacks ensued. One of the bird men slammed his poop staff down on the floor invoking a cloud of dark shadows from below to enshroud both birds in a radius of obscurity. That’s when the gang rushed in to the melee. Big mistake. The edges of the floor pad rolled up like flat tentacles and pulled Oran and Phil under its undulating expanse–a trapper. The bird men janitors then launched another poop storm just while Kalen summoned the power and mystery of Chthulu. Marduk lead the charge cleaving into the the two avian assailants, with a substantial hit, just as the writhing floor mass slung oozy pseudopod tendrils across the room. These splattered into Kalen and Marduk (who was reduced to nigh zero HP). Things were not looking good. Deciding it was time for double-duty, Osokah reached into the spirit world and summoned Tu-Daht to accompany E’baar. A second glowing bear faded into view, roared, and along with E’baar charged the trapper. Tu-Daht ripped the edge up with his massive blue paws, as E’Baar scooped up the wounded Marduk like a salmon. Gordon attempted “searing light,” but, rolling a natural 1, his plan backfired resulting in a case of bad acid indigestion. Meanwhile, Oran was still wrapped up like a Juan’s Flying burrito. E’Baar and Tu-Daat went to town rending the trapper to pieces as the rest of the gang dispatched a bird man. One got away . . . I think. With the encounter over, the party took the opportunity to lick their wounds and heal up.
DON’T FORGET TO SEARCH THE ROOM FOR GOODIES BEFORE MOVING ON.
As either fate would have it (or superb planning by our masterful D.M.) a bunch of boys from New Orleans whupped up on some dirty birds the week before Saints v. Falcons on Monday Night Football.
Marduk leveled – 14
Osokah leveled – 14