Ye Gilde

Basic Bitches IV
The Minotaur Caves

Shivs approached the fallen cleric and cast Speak with Dead. They used their three questions to ask where they could find the medusa’s elixir, where the minotaur cave was, and about the altar portal back to their world. They received some unclear answers in return. The began following the “right wall” which would lead them to the elixir. It took them deeper into the complex.

They arrived at the Temple of Chaos. It was only partially illuminated by Afarrah’s glowing shield. They could see a high vaulted ceiling, walls covered by tabestries, a giant bell in a wooden chassis, pews, candelabras and near them a door. As they entered the room the candleabras lit up with large flames. At the opposite end of the room were 4 bone chairs and a central ivory throne facing three altars of stone. The northernmost was black with flecks of red, the middle was mixed veins of black and red, and the last red with flecks of black. The wall behind was a smooth translucent polished red stone with mesmerizing shapes moving within it. Pugno opened up a door at the back of the chamber were they entered and discovered a room full of zombies and skeletons – more than the light would illuminate. Meanwhile at the opposite end of the chamber, the far edge of the tapestry moved and 4 men in full plate came out from behind it. Afarrah and Tiffany both stared and started chanting hymns to Chaos.

Pugno closed the door but it was immediately opened by skeleton warriors. Unfortunately there was a second door to that room concealed behind tapestries and skeletons and zombies started entering from an unguarded corner. Shivs started turning undead and taking out those closest to him. Gary and Weiss retreated into the pews firing arrows as Pugno and the chanting Afarrah and Tiffany started taking hits from all the blows raining down on them. Tiffany managed to break out of the chanting and retreat.

Two of the armored men went down with Shivs next turn attempt so they were known to be zombies. Pugno was now nearly overwhelmed as he was surrounded. The others tried to pick off undead where they could but the battle was very lopsided until Afarrah close to death broke out of her trance and also began turning undead. The air was filled with bone dust and the sound of collapsing bodies. The two clerics quickly finished off the horde of 20 skeletons, 20 zombies, and the 4 zombies in plate mail.

They explored where the four armored zombies came from and found what appeared to be the priest’s richly appointed rooms. The took their time to search and were rewarded with goodies and a secret door that led back into the hallway. Gary was nearly killed when a trapped demonic statue fell on him but he survived and two more gems were added to the loot. Most importantly they found the Elixir of Stone to Flesh.

Since the room containing the 40 undead was barren they quickly returned to the site of the Priest’s defeat and the statues of Weiss and Shok. They poured some of the elixir on Weiss and she returned to flesh. They did the same with Shok and estimated there were 4 doses left. After reviving he snake which returned to staff form, they again encountered the medusa. One of the party was quickly turned to stone again (who?). The medusa had decided to make this her new lair and wanted them out. She also wanted a cut of some of the loot. There was some arguing but in the end they paid her a healthy share of the loot and she moved off to explore the rest of her new home. They descended the stairs to check out the remaining barred door below.

That door led into a crypt and they turned around rather than explore it. After locking it they decided to lay a trap for the medusa here and took a dressing mirror from one of the rooms and positioned it around the corner in the hopes that the medusa would turn herself to stone. The didn’t find much else down this way so it was time to leave this evil place and return to looking for the Minotaur Caves.

The consensus was that they were too beaten up to continue at the moment. So when they exited the cave Shivs led them back overland back to the keep so they could rest for the night. Along the way Shivs led them into the path of another medusa. Two of the party were turned to stone before it was talked into leaving. She was looking for another medusa and they told her about the one the found in the temple. Luckily the last 2 doses of the elixir were carried by a fleshy Pugno that was able to use the last of it to fix the two others. Hopefully there would be no more medusas.

At the keep they took care of all their town chores and sold/converted a lot of the group spoils. Pugno spent some insane amounts of money on some healing magic and they all rested up in the inn. The next morning they didn’t linger and they returned immediately to their task.

Back at the Caves of Chaos they had a false start exploring some other cave entrances before realizing that the Minotaur Caves happened to be the cave entrance that Afarrah had randomly (or perhaps divinely inspired) picked out at the start. The cave was natural and filled with twisted passages that were difficult to navigate. They were almost immediately attacked by a flock of stirges but they were quickly dealt with. Poor Gary received the worst of it. That fight brought a minotaur though.

The minotaur wore a tattered chain shirt and carried a spear. It roared and attacked. Everyone began positioning themselves and Weiss and Gary began sneaking around for a backstab. The minotaur was soon joined by another. Neither was a match for the full party and Weiss did get a backstab on the first one. The chain clad minotaur went down then the second one. They even found the minotaur’s loot behind a huge stone that needed 3 of them to move. The treasure was nice but they were still looking for a way home.

The group wandered and wandered for an unknown amount of time. The labyrinth was very disorienting. Eventually they descended a silty sloping passage where they could hear snatches of conversation. It was coming from a waterlogged passage that connected to a large cavern that had some running water and the dim glow of a light. The passage they had been following ended is a tall vertical shaft clearly carved by falling water. They cautiously entered the cold water and waded through the passage into a waist high lake. On the opposite side was a small beach and a passage leading up and away. The light source had moved further up that passage.

One last obstacle remained. Just before the beach was a fast moving flow of water near the outflow of the lake. They roped up and plunged ahead. They almost made it without incident. Someone (Weiss?) lost their footing and instead of catching him both Afarrah and Tiffany were also pulled off their feet. Then Gary in the rear was yanked downstream toward the rapids. Shokkanaw made the save of a lifetime and planted himself firmly on the shore and held them all in place.

Basic/Expert D&D XP: 2248 + any Prime Requisite bonus

As they were getting their feet back under them a shadowy minotaur showed up to see what the noise was. At this time they also noticed that they had crossed back into their familiar universe (back to Pathfinder rules from DnD Basic). They began moving onto the beach and slashing at the rope that held them together. An even larger minotaur wearing a silver dragonscale breastplate stepped up in front of the first minotaur and roared, severely intimidating (2x normal penalties) Maestro Pugno. Then the bullman gave the armor clad monk a wicked chop from his ax. The battle began in earnest.

The leader tried to bull rush Pugno and Shok but couldn’t. The first minotaur moved up to the front lines and two more shadow minotaurs arrived. The armored minotaur remained hard to hit but was kept at bay by Pugno and Shokkanaw. The others concentrated on killing the weaker unarmored mnotaurs which proceeded steadily. Even Gary landed several arrows and Shivs blinded one with Continual Light. With the lesser beasts down the armored minotaur was killed before he could deal killing blows to Pugno and Shok.

Pathfinder XP: 1,000

Basic Bitches III
Hacking and Slashing Continues

The group went through the secret door that the female hobgoblin attempted to use. It led into a storage room. It wasn’t apparent but the hobgoblins were using the secret door to steal from the neighboring goblin tribe. The party marched the deserted passages of the goblin lair but all had evacuated. They returned to the hobgoblin complex in order to check out the door they had left behind that seemed to led outside. Meanwhile the escaped goblins and hobgoblins were on the canyon floor paying the local ogre for help with their adventurer problem.

The party got back around to the stout, wooden door. Weiss heard creatures approaching but as it was barred from the inside they remained unconcerned. They didn’t know there was a secret method of opening the door from the outside. So when it flung open they were shocked. Standing in the doorway was an ogre that clumsily swung and missed Weiss. To the side was the hobgoblin that had unlocked the door. In the second rank was a goblin archer and a hobgoblin spearman. Behind them was another archer, a spear-goblin, and a robust goblin wearing a headress of sticks and feathers. The groups began exchanging arrows and Afarrah cast a Hold Person spell on the ogre, 2 hobgoblins, and goblin chief but her feeble magic did nothing. Fortunately for them the ogre was nearsighted and couldn’t hit anything. When half of the goblinoids were killed the rest scooted down the hill to find refuge in the ogre’s cave.

The party pursued the goblinoids (with Afarrah tumbling head over heels down the steep slope) to the entrance of the ogre’s cave. There was another exchange of violence and poor Gary lost his pet panther. The adventurers pushed into the cave. The goblin chief was offering to pay them to go away but they slew him instead and rummaged through the stinky cave. The got a large haul of coins between the ogre’s stash and what the goblin’s brought as payment.

While the goblin’s last stand was going on, some people noticed that four figures were coming down from the top of the canyon. One of them appeared to be Shivs, their forgotten companion, and the others were assumed to be the Priest from the Keep and his two silent guards. That sight didn’t stop them from taking their time to count up and distribute money but at least they decided to go to that cave entrance next and check it out.

When they did arrive at that cave entrance they found it exuded a faint, foul draft from the large 20 ft wide opening. Red strata intertwined with black running through the hewn rock walls. The floors are smooth and worn by the thread of countless feet. Their footsteps echoed alarmingly and when they entered the diagonal passage beyond the entrance tunnel, Afarrah’s shield illuminated zombies coming at them from both sides. They were quickly surrounded and began taking hits, but Afarrah continued Turning Undead and destroying zombies until they were all gone.

The next two chambers went the same way except with numerous skeletons exploding into dust. The dead didn’t carry anything of value but one room provided some large rubies after they were pried from a throne. Gary snuck one but then Tiffany picked his pocket. There was no sign of Shivs and this southern area was a dead end so they turned around and walked north. They soon found two doors that needed to be investigated.

One was picked open revealing stairs going down. At this time though the other door opened and four red robed humans attacked. Two cast Cause Fear and the other two swung maces. Another group of four came up the stairs and started fighting from that direction. The spells caused Gary and then Shok to run off for short time. The young clerics never had much of a chance and then from below Shivs appeared attacking the clerics on the stairs from behind. The clerics lost the fight and Shivs reunited with the group. She told them that below is a torture room, prison cell, and some other passages she hadn’t seen. The jovial cleric was down there with his two silent companions. They had planned on sacrificing her and had her captured but the sounds of fighting distracted them. They left her alone with the torturer and she managed to fight him and get away to join the group.

Before rooting out the evil cleric they wanted to see a little more of the wide passageway behind them. They marched up a slope and turned left at a T intersection. The 20 ft wide tunnel led them to the Chapel of Evil Chaos. It was empty except for some items on the altar. They decided to loot the bloodstained bronze vessels from the altar not caring about the feeling of great evil exuded by the items. They looked extremely valuable. After they scooped up the items they heard armored people approaching and could see the glow of light. They rushed back to the sloping passage and saw five people standing there.

The jovial evil priest was there with his two silent guards in chainmail. There was also a hobgoblin standing behind and controlling a bound peasant woman with a bag over her head. They exchanged some words and then the priest said that they would make nice statuary and pulled the hood off of the medusa being held by the hobgoblin. Poor Shok and Weiss turned to stone immediately but the others averted their gaze quick enough to avoid the same fate. The fight was on!

Both sides began moving up and shooting arrows or casting spells at the other. Maestro Pugno was Held by the Priest when he ran up out of the darkness. Then Shivs tried the same spell on them but only Held one of the chainmail clad clerics. The battle was long and drawn out. Because everyone was averting their gaze away from the medusa, the cleric ordered the hobgoblin to secure her in on of the empty rooms and come back out to join the fight himself. Tiffany took the opportunity to run in the same room and free the medusa in a desperate attempt to change their luck. They were slowly losing the fight. The hobgoblin tried to shut the door but the medusa turned him to stone.

Having the medusa’s help spared Shivs the beating she was getting. Soon the Priest was surrounded but his armor kept him in the fight. He was eventually worn down and the remaining heroes defeated him. The medusa told them that she was carrying several doses of an elixir of Stone to Flesh when she was captured by the Priest so there is hope yet for those two. As the medusa left she called back that they are probably looking for the Minotaur Caves.

Basic/Expert D&D XP: 1,155 + any Prime Requisite bonus – Pugno, Shok, Weiss, Afarrah, Tiffany, Gary
Basic/Expert D&D XP: 254 + any Prime Requisite bonus – Shiivs

Basic Bitches II
Caves of Chaos

The group decided to try and find the bandit camp. Surprisingly they were able to trace the way back to the deserted camp. Counting up the bedrolls revealed that one person was unaccounted for. Sadly there was nothing of value except a partially full 2.5 gallon cask of good wine, some wine skins, and game hanging from the trees. The group decided to take a break and have a picnic before returning to the mission.

A couple hours after entering the bandit camp they cautiously crossed the hummocks between their hill and the densely wooded rise just south of the lizard man marsh. It was filled with briars, rotten logs, vines, and old trees. In 30 minutes, the party crossed the wooded hill to where they could overlook the insect filled marsh. They continued the search for the hermit in a decreasing spiral pattern until they did stumble upon the old man’s hollow tree.

He was cranky and initially unhelpful. A little good wine helped the interaction. He wasn’t the magic user that Afarrah hoped for but but he was someone from another world that years ago accidentally traveled here via caves. He was originally from a “city at the center of the world” named Lankhmar. He ended up joining them and brought along his pet cat, a large black panther. It was late so they decided to return to the safety of the keep for the night and the go to the Caves of Chaos in the morning and search for a way back to their world.

They met Shivs at the Inn and learned a little more about the area. They made an announcement and hired to mercenaries fresh off the farm. The picked up more rumors from the locals then headed to the inn for the night. Tomorrow was their big day at the Caves of Chaos and going home to Absalom.

The next morning Afarrah prayed and received spells! Does that mean Sarenrae is listening? Or where her spells granted by some Lawful force in this universe? She’s no longer able to use the chosen weapon of her god here and had to resort to a club. Nobody has a good answer. Anyway, the party went about some final town business including provisioning the mercenaries, Itchy and Scratchy. Their price was 1 gp or 1 sp per day with provided adventuring gear. So in order to save 9 sp a day the group spent 40 gp on gear for their new hirelings. As they were leaving a man in armor and clerical garb approached them. He asked whether they were the adventurers he has heard about going to the Caves of Chaos. He wanted to join them and fight the good fight against Chaos but he was insulted by Afarrah’s suspicions about his motivation. So he left with his armored companions. With that bit of drama finished the eight of them plus panther hiked out of the keep. There were so many they didn’t notice that Shivs was missing (having overslept) and was being left behind in this strange universe.

Gary and the panther led them on a 2.5 hour hike to the mouth of the box canyon. They still needed to hack their way through the dense woods. It was gloomier here and the thick twisted tree trunks, unnaturally misshapen limbs, writhing roots, clutching and grasping thorns all seemed ward them off. Regardless they pressed on and broke out into a sparsely vegetated box canyon. The steep walls were 100 feet high and dark streaked rock. Clumbs of trees grew in thickets here and there. The ground was littered with rubble, boulders, dead wood, and gleaming bits of bones. A conspiracy of ravens rose, beating their wings. Their croaking sounded loud and horrible. Most importantly, the walls had 7 cave openings at different heights. They had found the Caves of Chaos.

They quickly chose the first cave on the left which was conveniently at ground level. The opening was natural but the passage beyond had obviously been worked. They carefully checked for traps but didn’t find any. All the cave entrances were supposed to be trapped but not this one for some reason. They began exploring and almost immediately encountered 6 goblin guards that attacked immediately. The first two that charged up were cut down by the mercenaries but the others that had stayed back threw spears. One impaled Itchy, killing him immediately. The other wounded Scratchy and he pulled back.

Six more goblins joined the fight and attacked the group from behind. Their spears wounded Gary and his pet. Now there were two fights. The goblins were having some success throwing spears but were suffering lots of casualties. Scratchy ended up being killed by a spear before the goblins were taken out. Only one got away. They checked both directions but decided to continue in the original direction because there were stairs going up.

The stairs led to a door which when opened reveled a room full of hobgoblin familes. They tried to bluff but ended up retreating back down to the goblin guard room with the hobgoblins in pursuit. They cut down or shot the hobgoblins that followed them into the room then climbed back up the stairs. A few females left the common room as the adventurers entered. There wasn’t anything of interest. The hobgoblins (and goblins) all carried their valuables with them and the group had already looted the bodies.

Pugno opened the other door leading out. He met four bolts shot in his direction. There were three hobgoblin guards in chainmail facing them. Behind them were six hobgoblins in leather with crossbows. That fight took a little longer and the injuries were mounting for the adventurers but they defeated the hobgoblins and continued through the lair until coming up on the chieftain and his retinue.

The chief put up a fight but one of his females actually did more damage to Pugno than he did. Meanwhile Afarrah and Gary attacked some of his guards from another doorway. When the chief fell the last of the females tried to escape but all but one were killed right away. The last was shot with an arrow as she tried to work a secret door far down a hall.

The blood thirsty adventurers seemed temporarily satisfied with the hobgoblin tribes savings and the weapons they had taken from the armory.

Basic/Expert D&D XP: 402 + any Prime Requisite bonus – Pugno, Shok, Weiss, Afarrah, Tiffany, Gary

Basic Bitches
Keep on the Borderlands

After spending a quiet night in a small side passage, the three began hiking. They still didn’t know where they were but were hoping to get lucky and find a way out. Instead something found them. During a bathroom break for Afarrah and Tiffany, Pugno and Shok heard someone running their way. They both hid in a side tunnel just in time. Weiss, in male human hobo form, ran into the run and chucked his/her sunrod into Shok’s side passage. Then the ninja began climbing up the cavern wall. Neither Pugno nor Shok knew who it was so they stayed quiet.

Pugno snuck into Shok’s tunnel and kicked the light source down around the corner closer to where the ladies were peeing. They yelled at him. He heard the slap of approaching feet and called Shok over to him just as a horrible halfling entered the cavern. The former halfling and sewering partner of Weiss’, turned toward the dimly lit tunnel and spotted Shok. He ran toward the half orc. The halfling was pallid and headless. Where its head should be was a writhing mass of tentacles. Shok warned his master and the Maestro decided there was no sense in trying to hid now.

He pulled out a Light stone and attempted to tumble past the halfling monstrosity. It took a swing with one halfling arm but missed. Then Shok charged it and ran the little body through. There was little effect. The creature clubbed Shok twice with its tiny but surprisingly strong arms then stepped over to Pugno and thrust it’s tentacles at the man to no avail. Meanwhile on the wall Weiss still hadn’t spotted anyone but heard the fight and dropped to the ground. Then she saw and recognized her two guildmates battling the Spawning Canker, at least that is what one of her teammates had called it before running away. The kitsune threw a shuriken but missed.

Pugno and Shok gave the thing a beating. It hit Shok with the tentacles this time and tried unsuccessfully to grab. Shok was quite hurt but the creature missed Pugno and didn’t get a chance to do anything else before it was killed. Afarrah and Tiffany came over to see what all the commotion was and the group of five entered into the small cavern were they saw Shivs sneaking in against the wall. Weiss introduced Shivs the half elf to the group and told of how his group of guildies had gotten lost in the sewers too. This morning the halfling had sat up and then his head exploded into tentacles. The fourth member of their group ran off shouting that it was a Spawning Canker whatever that was. Weiss and Shivs took off down the nearest tunnel and it took off after them.

That bit of excitement done, they continued along with Shivs and the maestro leading the way. It wasn’t too long before they felt a change in the air and began to see a lightening of the darkness. They had found an exit! Their excitement turned to concern when they could see the exit led into a meadow surrounded by forest. That didn’t make any sense to them.

The group exited into a similar but strangely different world. They felt odd and the world around them somehow looked simpler. They realized that this universe operates with different rules.

Characters were converted to the 1983 D&D Expert (3rd ed./Dark Blue Box) rules.

Afarrah became a suli-looking human cleric 5
Pugno became a human fighter
Shivs’ human side prevailed and she became elven-looking human cleric.
Shok converted to an orcish-looking human thief
Tiffany became a thief
Weiss was stuck in the human form she was disguised as and became a human thief

Behind them the cave was still there but there was no longer a tunnel leading deeper into the hillside. They were stuck but to what they figured was west, there were some thin wisps of smoke rising into the sky. There was some sort of community there and they headed in that direction.

At the meadow’s edge, they heard a crashing and saw something running at them. Someone declared it looked like an ogre and Weiss stepped up and addressed it. Surprisingly it stopped. It’s name was Bert and although it carried some sort of rusty twisted up metal club with fresh blood it happily talked to the cute little people. In fact he wanted to hug and kiss them. For some reason a couple of them started drawing weapons and that made Bert the Ogre wary. It reminded him of the people in the big man-house. They’re mean. He also brought up a hermit that he thought they might know. After a few minutes of conversation they left Bert and spent about an hour traipsing through the forest.

The woods gave way to recently cleared pasture with a stone keep on a natural rock outcrop in the distance. They hiked there and paid or talked their way past the guards at the gate. They discovered that their coins were only a fifth of the size of the coins in use here. Everything is going to be very expensive.

Inside a little street urchin guided them to the inn and the tavern on the opposite side of the small bailey. They chose the tavern. It was remarkably clean and well run inside. The staff was cleaning up after a big group had left and just 6 patrons remained. A few of them bought some drinks with their tiny coins and discovered that they use something called an electrum piece. Afarrah and Tiffany tried to get free drinks as hot chicks but failed. The barkeep didn’t want Tiffany dancing on the bar either. Pugno and Shok walked over one pair, Erol and Otis, that seemed open to conversation and chatted them up with some free ale. They found out that the keep is located in a mountainous northern area of the realm. It’s just called “The Keep” by the locals and the “Keep on the Borderlands” by merchants. Weiss tried to pickpocket one of the patrons but could not.

Other information included another mention of a crazy hermit that also had wild stories of coming from a strange far off land. Afarrah was convince that the old hermit must be some sort of wizard that came here via the tunnels too. She wanted to find someone who knew about magic and was directed to the Curate at the Chapel of Law.

So the chapel was made their next destination but not before stopping off at the trader’s to stock up on adventuring supplies. Shok was talked into a 10 ft pole that would solve all their problems. He declined the offer to buy 9 and get the 10th free. Others bought torches. Weiss purchased some leather armor. Then they were off to meet the Curate.

The Chapel of Law was a long two story structure with a high peaked roof next to the wall to the inner bailey. The curate was a kindly gentleman in a fur trimmed cape and fancy plate mail armor carrying an ornate staff. He told them he knew something of magic but not any portals to another world. He said that he also heard about the crazy old hermit that lives on the other side of the river but doesn’t really pay much attention to idle gossip. He also warned them away from the Cave of Chaos which are populated with a diverse number of dangerous creatures.

Afarrah was convinced that the old hermit was their ticket back to their world. So she led the group, except for Shivs who stayed behind to gather information, out of the keep and across the wide river up a hill to the south. As they were walking the treeline, Shok noticed two men a hidden in the woods watching them. The rest of the group responded by charging into the woods and the men responded by shooting Tiffany with an arrow and piercing her with a spear. The bowman fell to missle fire and the other gave up. They stripped him down and cut up his boots. They eagerly looted the two pauper’s meager possessions.

They determined that he and his buddy were bandits watching the road and the keep. He claimed to have a camp and numerous friends nearby but they were more interested in what he knew of a hermit. The man did know of the hermit though he had never met him. He is known to be an old crazy coot that lives in a large copse of trees on a small rise next to the marsh just a little upstream and downhill of their current position. It was possible to view it in the distance. They were also told that it wasn’t safe because of the lizardmen that live in the marsh. Unconcerned, they released the prisoner and headed toward what they hoped was the hermit’s lair.

Pathfinder XP: 2,133 – Pugno, Shok, Weiss
Basic/Expert D&D XP: 125 + any Prime Requisite bonus – Pugno, Shok, Weiss, Afarrah, Tiffany

Bring Me Back!
What happens when the entire guild lineup is assasinated?

With the list of events plaguing Absalom and The Guild in particular (the heavy life lost when the demonic portal was opened in the Cairnlands, a powerful party lost on a mission in the Mwangi, several deaths on a repeated mission to the Precipice District, unexpected death in the arena games, the weakening of the planar borders and the shadow plane seepage, and most recently the self-inflicted exile of a party guildies turned traitor to the city) things have been tense for The Absalom branch of The Guild. Currently the shadow plane disturbances required constant attention from the more seasoned members not involved in missions and most of the resident clerics to deal with the undead and shadow beasts running amuck. They even received a capable shadow wizard, Phaedra Shadowsil, on loan from the Qadira branch in hopes that her insight might be of use in the current crises. With enemies on the rise and strength on the decline, all remaining members of The Guild were brought to reside at guild headquarters to consolidate strength and keep them capable of responding to requests quickly. Unfortunately, the night grew long and the more seasoned members failed to return in a timely manner. Phaedra, in charge since the other leaders were on missions of their own, using Chad as her assistant, decided to set watches and keep the headquarters on readied alert just in case. Her suspicions proved valid when those resting in their rooms were awakened by intruders standing over them. Theri, Kass, Kaleb, Morti, Purrima, Dirrasha, Shadow, Jerro, Than, Fancy and her rapidly maturing son Damien all received such visits. Most were taken completely off guard as these masked intruders pelted them with strange thunderstones that exploded with sound and a warping darkness. The Guild erupted in a rapid series of sonic booms. Kass, Kaleb, Dirrasha and Jerro managed to resist the assault on the first wave, though Dirrasha was rendered deafened. Kass and Jerro watched as their respective roommates (Theri and Purrima) did not resist and slumped back to the bed with their eyes wide open, unmoving. Kaleb and Dirrasha shared a room and Kaleb managed to stab one of the gray and black garbed intruders. The second round of pelting knocked them both into the wide-eyed and unmoving state. Jerro seemed unaffected by the strange dark thunderstone effects so the two assassins in his room flanked him and proceeded to shred him with their swords. He chose to play dead rather than be destroyed utterly and waited for them to leave. Kass would not be taken so easily. The seasoned veteran dodged and ducked, blocked and parried his attackers efforts. The arrival of a shadow aiding his attackers left him hopelessly outnumbered and severely weakened so he called for help and made a break for safety, tumbling past his assailants and out into the hallway. Meanwhile, a bell alarm had sounded calling all available Guild Members to the central gathering hall. Those left on guard duty heard the bell and the sonic booms then the muffled cries from Kass back towards the barracks. Fursifer, Xythric, Sophie and Valla responded to the sudden burst of activity as best they could. Sophie checked on the gathering hall to find Chad ringing the alert bell signaling an attack. She ignored his instruction to get in there and instead chose to aid the others on duty. They opted to go and save their comrades in the barracks. Back at the barracks Valla was on the scene calling to Kass as he fled his room. Fursifer and Xythric were present too, prepared to stop whatever threatened them. A shadow slipped through a wall and charged, barely missing Fursifer as it attacked. Kass continued to flee and raced past his allies headed for the gathering hall warning that the others were already dead and he was outnumbered. Xythric called out a challenge to the shadow and ordered his allies to stand and fight, but they were less than enthusiastic about their odds against such enemies. Sophie shouted a few jokes to aid the battle but no one but the teifling seemed interested in a fight. When Fursifer tried to retreat Xythric actually blocked his path until the halfling tumbled through his legs. The tiefling magus-slayer unleashed a barrage of magic missiles from his wand and destroyed the shadow before following suite in the retreat, cursing his companions as cowards. They gathered in the central hall with Chad and Phaedra. The shadow mage was conjuring shadowy creatures and releasing them into the halls which brought suspicion at first, but Sophie identified her spells as illusions creating allies. Moments later the door opened and in stumbled a very battered Jerro. The ninja doll told of his similar attack and of the retreat of the gray and black clad assassins through the walls. He informed them that they left the body of Purrima behind in that state of shock. He described a symbol on their clothing which was identified by the group as the Nether Assassins, a band of otherworldly-based killers that hired their blades out for a substantial price. They were also notorious for working with the undead.

Phaedra requested one of these strange stones to examine and possibly understand what they had done to the other members. Fursifer was the first to pipe up and head out on the mission to collect a stone. Kass mentioned a few being thrown in his bedchamber as did Jerro who was strangely unaffected by the weird darkness explosions. Fursifer reached Jerro’s room first and found Purrima still there in her bed untouched with eyes wide. He tried to examine her for signs of life but was hurried and unsure. He did find a few stones and returned with them. While the others huddled together preparing for another assault. Phaedra with the aid of Valla, spent time examining the stones. She came back with answers, none of them good. The stones were some sort of Astral bomb. They used the current weakening of the planar boundaries to basically blow apart their victims, effectively separating them from their souls which were shoved through to the Astral Plane. Their wide-eyed and unmoving allies were basically dead, soulless corpses and would be so permanently unless their souls were collected and returned to them quickly. This explained why Jerro was unaffected. Phaedra warned that they must act quickly, spouting off a variety of dangers and rules that applied to the Astral Plane. Most of the information barely registered to the group. She offered a path to get them there with her magic and told them a few important rules to remember. She bade them seek out Shiva a psychopomp ally that owed her a favor and would likely be tending to souls in the river of souls. She would be able to help them locate the missing ally-souls before they fed into the river that would carry them to their final resting places. The mage warned them to avoid the river at all costs since it would sweep them away to death. She warned them to avoid all portals in the Astral Plane for it connected to every other plane and could dump them anywhere. She warned them of the collectors, namely night hags and daemons that sought out wandering souls to steal them. And she warned them to watch for enemies like the disc riding xenophobic natives and undead, particularly incorporeal undead which would manifest in a physical form on the plane. They all stood around with dumbfounded stares as she called them to gather at her side for the transportation spell. What else could they do? All of their fellow guildies were going to die! Sophie, Xythric, Fursifer and Valla would take up the mission while Chad, Kass and Jerro stayed to help Phaedra defend the headquarters until their return. Just as she was casting the spell to carry them across planar boundaries a horde of shadows poured into the hall. The six incorporeal undead raced at them as they slipped between realities.

The four hung in the air on the Astral Plane, an endless sky of silvery light running in every direction. Their bodies were the same but translucent with a nimbus glow of color that suited their individual soul with a silvery chord that tethered them to the material plane and their real bodies. severing the chord would mean they would be as lost as their allies here drifting toward the river and death. Hanging in the air before them were the six shadows, little more than humanoid shapes of black ectoplasm here. The shadows seemed to move as normal gliding on the Astral air with ease, but the party dared not move for fear of losing control and drifting away. They were also warned about the travel here, an act of will to direct and guide your path. They fought the shadows and were surprised and relieved to learn that they were not draining strength here and actually had a physical form now so everyone could damage them. Their chilling touches still hurt though, well everyone besides Xythric with his fiendish resistances. They also learned that spellcasting was greatly enhanced here affecting spells as if they were quickened. The fight was difficult without being able to move and only Valla tried to do so to offer Fursifer a flanking aid. She managed to succeed. Eventually they destroyed the shadows and then the true fun began. How would they locate Shiva the psychopomp and their allies’ missing souls? But first, how could they move about safely without being quickly separated. Travel here happened so fast and the stopping process was the challenge. They decided to use a rope and tie themselves together. Time had no affect here so they didn’t have to worry about food or tiring, but that also meant they could not rest or heal naturally. For lack of a better option they chose a direction and all willed to go that way at once and off they shot at a speed of 150 which quickly accelerated to 300! It felt less like they were flying and more like the plane was racing through them. It seemed like days of travel before they spotted anything in the silvery nothingness. In the distance something big moved. They tried to shift their direction to soar near it for a better look but found mixed results. Some changed course while others were jerked rapidly in the direction when they failed to will the change into being. The rope kept them tethered but also proved painful. The new course soon brought them closer and they identified it as an Astral Leviathan. Something like a colossal whale with rows of jagged teeth and many eyes. They chose to avoid the 70 foot long monstrosity. It was almost a disaster as they tried to change their course and failed multiple times with the few succeeding being dragged along towards the beast by those that could not redirect themselves. More damage was sustained by the twisting and slinging inside the rope but they barely dodged a collision. They began to wonder if this rope was such a good idea. At least it kept them together.

As they soared by in the new direction, Fursifer caught sight of a lone humanoid figure hanging in the air. They moved so fast it passed them in a blur. He shouted for everyone to stop and again found mixed results and painful jerking rope damage. The halfing had had enough of this swinging and bouncing around so he untied the rope from his body. Unfortunately everyone else managed to stop and he kept going a few hundred more feet before he could gain control of his trajectory. The others discovered what the halfling had spotted, though. The visitor came to greet them. Xythric identified it as a night hag and knew her evil and abilities were considerable. They were instantly on guard. She introduced herself and eyed them all hungrily with a sort of shark-circling its food feel to the conversation. They asked a few questions and declined her offer to take them to a nearby portal for safety. She did not seem to know anything about their missing allies’ souls but was interested in tasting theirs. She began fondling the silver chord of life attached to both Sophie and Xythric. When Fursifer finally managed to reach them again after much effort, he noticed Sophie’s genius ploy. The bard pointed in the distance and shouted a warning, the halfling mimicked her. Together they got the hag to spin about and look for the threat. But – ha ha! – there was no threat. The party used the momentary distraction to jet away, fleeing into the sky as fast as they could, hoping the hag wouldn’t chase them down and eat them.

This time as they stuck together and soared away, Valla also untied herself since she was getting pretty banged up by the rope. Another figure materialized in their path. The few that spotted it shrieked and when Fursifer stopped due to being caught by the figure, they all put on the mental brakes, again with mixed results. Sophie and Xythric eventually came to a halt and darted back to aid the halfling but Valla had trouble controlling her path and took a bit longer to join them. The shaman hurtled away into the sky for hundreds of feet before gaining control again. Luckily for Fursifer he recognized the description of the being that held him. She was very tall, dressed in white with blue-white skin and long blue hair. She wore a mask hiding her features, all but her crystalline impassive eyes. This was Shiva the psychopomp they sought. They began asking her questions and quickly learned that she cared little for their mission other than the favor that was promised to Phaedra to get them to the souls and then let her know when the party were ready to return to the material plane. Seeing as how the party’s navigational efforts were lacking, she was convinced to allow them to all grab ahold of her as she carried them towards the location of the missing souls and the “Thought devourer” she claimed held them captive. She eventually delivered the party to a large mass of earth, similar to an asteroid hanging in the Astral air. A single cavern marked the entrance to the lair where their allies’ souls were being kept. When asked if Shiva would help, she impassively answered no. when asked about the threat of the thought eater, she simply informed them that it already knew they were here and was expecting them. That didn’t sound very good.

The psychopomp waited outside and the party entered the cavern. They were happy to find that their minds acclimated them to the earthy terrain and they could walk as normal here. The winding tunnel carried them straight into the lair where they spotted the souls they sought strewn about the ectoplasm-smeared room attached to the floor or walls by strands of the gummy stuff. The souls seemed listless and drained. They knew time would eventually suck all personality and morality from their allies so they needed to hurry. The coulborn or thought eater was there too. It’s loosely humanoid shape had a brain sack dangling below it and hooded skin over its eyeless head. a long toothy mouth protruded and both its long arms ended in two elongated fingers with claws. The creature spotted Xythiric in the lead and was waiting for them. It reached out with its mind and charmed the tiefling. Soon the others were entering but Xythric had enlarged himself and was directing the others to leave the creature alone, telling them that it was helping their friends. Fursifer joined in the defensive strain when it charmed him next., but the sisters, Valla and Sophie were not so convinced of its intentions. Valla believed it was tricking them so she blasted it with a confusion ability. For a split second it reacted but quickly shook off the confusion. In that moment it’s maw split open in three parts and clamped down on Xythric and its claws ripped into him too. The injured magus was set free of the pull of the charm spell. He began to fight the creature. Fursifer kept his loyalty and interposed himself defending the creature while Sophie told jokes to inspire her friends in battle. Valla threw spells at it and kept healing Xythric so that their only line of defense did not fall. Sophie started working her way around the room, breaking her allies’ captive souls free of the ectoplasmic bonds. They slowly crawled to their feet and shuffled from the cavern. She just prayed they didn’t reach the exit and dart off towards the river of souls that was surely pulling them. The thought devourer was no easy challenge. It used spells and actually began to heal itself of the major wounds Xythric inflicted. All the while Fursifer aided it and Xythric took a serious beating while Valla struggled to keep him on his feet with her healing and his cure wand. Valla moved to help her sister free the souls. The teifling fell and the creature attacked the sisters who were setting its meals free. Fursifer was finally convinced to stop helping the thing by a stern scolding from Sophie followed by a bite from the thought eater. Xythric crawled back to his feet after the sisters both healed him and the halfling flanked with him. They both took a serious beating by the creature and only at the eleventh hour did they barely manage to combine their efforts with a blast of magic missiles from Xythric’s wand that Sophie picked up and managed to activate. They toppled the monster and hacked it to pieces. Valla and Sophie rushed to check on the meandering souls and found Shiva at the entrance collecting and holding them. They searched the lair of the creature and uncovered a few works of art, and a couple of enchanted items which they claimed for sale or distribution. Then they gladly returned to the material plane when the psychopomp alerted Phaedra to their readiness. Once back, the souls returned to their bodies and the guildies were revived from the brink of death. None of them had any memory of what had happened leading up to the night of these events thanks to the thought eater slurping on their thoughts.

Xythric, Valla, Fursifer and Sophie each earned 2175xp

Jerro and Kass each earned 100xp for surviving the attack.

Hunting down leads