Episode V: Monkey Business
Rad leads the group inside, though they are still quite wary. He explains that he needs their help, because he was hired to try and dispel a curse that had fallen over this temple, which resulted in the decay they had seen outside. Unfortunately, his companions had been killed, and he was unable to deal with it by himself. He offered to split his own reward from the task, as well as any loo found within the temple. Hesitantly, they group agreed, asking who had hired him.
They were answered by a large gorilla, who sat in the centre of the temple’s main chamber. The gorilla is the leader of the local sentient apes, who are intelligent and peaceful, also the residents of the temple. Whatever has happened, any members of their number that have travelled into the catacombs below have not returned. They group agrees to help, Nilakanta leading the way down the stairs and into the catacombs. Titus lights up the torches as they go, and curiously, one turns blue. Ladorae grabs it, claiming it as her own.
They come into an octagonal room, with doors on each of the four corner sides, and a large stone door, currently locked and too heavy to move, on the far wall. Four pillars stand in the middle of the room, and a quick investigation by the party reveals a hidden doorway on the right-hand wall. This hidden door is sealed, and they can’t figure out how to open it. Resolving to come back to it, they investigate the other doors. Three are locked, while the fourth comes open. Oz flies in first to check it out, but is killed by a furry attacker, and the familiar dissipates.
The party deduces that the apes that came into these catacombs before must have killed Oz, and are waiting for them beyond the door. Knowing this, Ladorae readies her torch, and Titus opens the door slightly. The torch is thrown inside, and Titus makes it flare, cause fiendish legacy ‘n’ sheit. As the flames flare out, several small monkeys are killed, and the group moves inside. Cleaning up the last few is an easy task, and the room is cleared with speed. There is another set of doors on the far side, which the party proceed through, finding another room, this one with a pair of enraged gorillas and two chimpanzees, all of whom are savage, and attack the party immediately. After this is completed, the party examines the room. A small altar lies in the centre, with a statue of an enraged gorilla in the centre.
The party takes this statue, and after some experimenting, places it on the corresponding pillar back in the octagonal room. There is a rumble, and the next door unlocks. Suddenly, everyone’s vision goes dark, and a voice speaks inside their heads, warning them to turn back, or they will surely die. The party ignores this warning, proceeding through the next set of doors. This seems to fit the same design as the previous set, with two rooms separated by a set of heavy doors, and an altar.
Both rooms are completely empty, though Titus and Ladorae are hesitant to go into the altar room; the altar is empty. Convinced that the real attack will come from the way they came, Titus pushes Illithor into the room, and stands with his back to the rest of the party. When he does this, the doors close, sealing him and Ladorae outside. They attempt to break in, but to no avail. The party can’t hear them, and they can’t hear the party. Inside, a disembodied voice speaks to the rest of the group. If they answer five riddles correctly, they can take the statue and leave. They have three guesses for each riddle. They begin, as a fight begins outside.
The slain apes from the previous rooms return to life, attacking Titus and Ladorae back in the octagonal room. The fight is bloody, and somehow Ladorae ends up splattered with monkey faeces, but sheer force of will and might wins them the day. Their party succeeds and returns with the statue, placing it on the altar, unlocking the third door. After applying some blood to the red gem set into the concealed doorway, the group observes that it glows dully for a moment before fading, giving a clue as to how to operate the door, but not solving the riddle.
The next room they go into is littered with rotting corpses, which have been brutalised by some unknown creature. The group proceeds, as something massive drops from the ceiling. An infernal ape with red fur and blue skin, a Barlgura, drops from the ceiling and attacks the party. Titus takes heavy damage immediately, and is knocked to the ground. The rest of the group draws fire away from Titus as Ladorae heals him, scattering so that the Barlgura must choose a specific target. As the fight draws on, and the Barlgura takes more and more damage, it catches the party off-guard by becoming invisible. Evelyn manages to locate it roughly with her sense of smell, but not before it moves beside Brorsack and attempts to kill him. The party finish the demon off, and Titus cuts off the heavy metal bands on its forearms as trophies of their victory.
The party moves on, entering this segment’s altar room and finding a collection of seemingly undead apes within. The fight lasts a bit longer than their previous encounters with apes, likely due to the perseverance of their undeath, but this room too was conquered. The party retrieved the statue and placed it in the corresponding pedestal, unlocking the fourth and final side door. Upon proceeding, they encountered something resembling a small Beholder in the next room, that told them that all but the one who summoned it was permitted to pass. This creature is a Spectator. The party agreed to return with the creature’s summoner. Their return to the octagonal room, not thrilled with the idea of fighting a Spectator, and reasoning that the creature’s summoner, or at least something of value, would lie behind the hidden doorway in the room.
After trying several things, Titus uses magic to brighten the flame of Ladorae’s torch, so that it flares and licks the red gem. This seems to do the trick, activating the gem, which flares brightly, staying lit. Thy try cold magic against the second gem, a blue one, though to no effect. After several attempts with no success, Rad casts healing magic onto the gem, which lights up, and the door opens. Inside is a wide room with several old and rotting crates, and a chest on the far side. The group is suspicious, and the elves fire arrows and bolts into the chest from a distance. Nothing happens, so they advance through the room, checking the crates. Ladorae runs ahead to collect her bolt from the chest, and when she places a hand on it to push off and pull her bolt out, her hand sticks to the surface. The chest dives forward, lid opening to reveal a maw of teeth, attacking her.
The Mimic lands a solid hit on her as the rest of the party advances, surrounding the starved and feral creature to try and get Ladorae free before it eats her. It takes some doing, and careful movement so as not to hit Ladorae, but the creature is killed before it can do much. Inside of it they find a spell scroll of greater mending, some gold, and a cracked wand, though the Spectator’s summoner is nowhere in sight. Instead, they agree to rest here and fight the creature when they’re ready. After healing and preparing, Titus talks Rad through how to look like a possible creature that summoned this creature that he’s heard of, a Mind Flayer. Though it takes a good deal of the rest, Rad turns into something closely resembling a Mind Flayer, and they set off to try and talk their way past the Spectator.
Unfortunately, the Spectator does not believe their cunning ruse, and the party attacks. Two even smaller creatures show up to aid the Spectator, Gazes. Titus is almost turned to stone and thrown against the opposite wall, but Illithor lands the killing blow on the Spectator with an arrow through the central eye. Titus chops off some eye stalks, and they proceed to the final room of the fourth corridor, coming across two skeletal gorillas and two skeletal chimpanzees. The fight ends quickly, and the party looks for this room’s statue. What they find is an odd construct on the altar, a three-letter combination lock of sorts set under a metal plate. After some time, the party figures out the combination and a completely destroyed statue appears on the plate before them. Ladorae’s restorative magic has no effect, unfortunately, so they think on it for a moment and remember the spell scroll of mending that they picked up on the Mimic room. They use it, which succeeds in repairing the statue.
They place it on the pedestal in the octagonal room, and there is a rumbling. Sections open in each pillar, revealing four small ornate boxes. The boxes are crafted of marble, with golden hinges and trim, each with a small golden latch at the front, keeping them closed. Titus, Ladorae, Illithor and Brorsack take one each, opening them to find a ring inside, each one different. Before they can truly test out the rings, they snap together when brought in proximity to each other. The rings, now firmly stuck together, fit perfectly into a depression into the main stone door at the end of the room, which rumbles deeply before opening. The party continues down the stairs, coming to a corridor with four pools of water, two set into either side. Titus kneels, dipping his finger into the water and having a taste. It tastes amazing.
While on his knees, something hits him in the back of the head, knocking him to the ground. The group only now notices a giant snail hanging from the roof of the corridor, and combat begins. Titus is dazed, though Illithor and Ladorae shoot the snail from a distance while Nilakanta advances to defend his friend. The snail is too high for Evelyn, who jumps to try and attack it several times, missing and confirming that she is, in fact, a drain on society. Brorsack hits it with spells, though it seems resistant to this. Eventually, by the time Titus is able to get to his feet, the snail is slain. However, in death, the snail retreats into its shell and screams continuously.
Titus drinks from the pool once again, finding that the harm he took in the encounter suddenly healed, and revealing that these are in fact pools of healing. The group continues down the stairs at the end of the corridor, which opens out into a massive room.
Four tables are spread around, with beakers and vials on each, but before the party can investigate they see a figure at the far side of the room, drinking a glass of wine. The figure welcomes them, spreading a set of demonic wings and turning to face them. Titus spreads his own, and the group advances as they realise this is a Cambion. The Cambion mocks them and their efforts, and is met by even greater sass from Ladorae. The Elf is ruthless in her mocking, which goads the Cambion into throwing a spear at her, falling short by a few feet and earning a few comments about performance issues.
The Cambion growls, opening a portal behind him, through which comes a large skeletal snake, a Bone Naga. The Cambion and Naga attack as the party advances. Rad summons a cloud of daggers around the Naga, while Nilakanta and Ladorae attack it head-on. Titus and Evelyn make for the Cambion, Brorsack and Illithor stay at a distance, firing arrows and spells to aid whoever needs it in the moment. A good arrow hit draws the Naga’s attention to Illithor, who it attacks, biting and severely wounding with its venom. Heavily wounded, Illithor retreats to the pools of healing. Brorsack finishes off the Naga with successive magic missiles, shattering the bones so that all of the focus can now be aimed towards the Cambion.
The fight continues, and the Cambion charms Titus, who turns and begins to make his way towards Brorsack to kill him. Fortunately, an attack from Brorsack is able to break him out of the Cambion’s control, and the demon’s victory is short-lived. It quickly becomes clear that the Cambion is going to lose, so it looses a concussive wave that throws all of the members of the party back, except for Ladorae. It grabs the Bard, opening a portal and throwing her through, before following behind. The portal closes before anybody else can follow, leaving the party one member down and alone in the now-quiet room.