Reign of Winter

Summary 16: The Sands of Time

Chapter Three: Maiden, Mother, Crone



UPANIX
approached the Sons of the Mother Spirit and found something corporal to hack at.  The Specters looked to the Half-Giant and entered a silent rage.  Spirits began orbiting the Ghosts, one slamming into the Specimen.  The Ghosts reached into the Half-Giant’s soul causing viscous boils and torn flesh.  Not wanting to engage in close quarter combat, both OTAK and KRUSH took position and weakened a Ghost with reach.  Meanwhile, SHANG-TSUNG and the pregnant MIYUKI acquired line of sight and sent forth their barbs.  Pincered, the Ghosts stood little chance against rapid fire, whirlwinds and power attacks, but their point had been made sending the Specimen to the brink.  When the adrenaline had run its course, UPANIX called to the Healer for aid and received as much as she could muster.

The Samurai returned to the tomb he had open and looked within the sarcophagus.  Upon the mummified remains was a feathered amulet of sorts, the Ochki picking up traces of magic.  With ten other doors in sight, the Feather Tokens were collected and SHANG-TSUNG continued tomb raiding.  Four more doors were opened revealing nothing of value when suddenly, upon opening the fifth door, the warden’s Curse got a hold of the Elder’s mind, clouding his judgment.  Now impaired, SHANG-TSUNG suggested that the strong-willed Paladin finish his work but MIYUKI blatantly refused to take part in sacrilege.  Both UPANIX and OTAK took turns opening the remaining Cursed doors, the latter suffering from massive muscle loss as punishment.  Their reward, a valuable bejeweled necklace.  MIYUKI reached for her last Remove Curse Scroll and had both SHANG-TSUNG and OTAK pick straws.  The Half-Orc had won the prize but the Elder “accidentally” stumbled in front of MIYUKI’s path and allowed her to touch him.  A heated dispute ensued as a result but was halted, to be resolved once the mission in Artrosa was completed.

The mother door to the east led the Horde to a dark temple.  Intricately woven tapestries hung from the walls, depicting dark forests beneath crescent moons and filled with beasts and capering hags.  To the west, incense burned atop an alter; cloaking the chamber with smog and an overwhelming stink.  With nothing else of interest, the Horde converged on three exist points; a mother door to the west, a crone door to the east and a hallway just below the latter.  The door depicting a Goat skull was investigated first, revealing a dark corridor.  Within minutes, the path grew cold, the summer motifs becoming those of winter, and death.  Suddenly, MIYUKI let out a cry in distress.  The Paladin, now a barren mound of wrinkled and sagging flesh, had aged fifty or so years.  Using her bow as a cane, the Eldest tapped OTAK in the rump and insisted that the operation continue.

The tunnel led to a forest of stalactites above and sheared stalagmites below.  Huge webs filled the north end of the cavern, and a large, cryptic rune was carved into the ground to the south.  Five web-wrapped cocoons, each almost ten feet long, hung from the ceiling among the stalactites, a sixth lied on the floor in the room's center.  Using the Gem of Brightness, SHANG-TSUNG shed a light on this little mystery.  Doing so surprised their stealth stalker, dazzling a huge Bebilith hanging from a web high above.  Unable to strike, OTAK postponed his pounce.  Meanwhile, the arachnid hit the floor and took cover behind a huge boulder.  Both OTAK and KRUSH made first contact, the latter suffering from a vile poisonous bite in the process.  The Gom tribesmen countered but met heavy resistance.  UPANIX joined the fight and dealt a minor blow.  The Archers advanced but failed to get a line of sight.  The Samurai took a moment to contact his ancestors in prayer, requesting their guidance.  The Bebilith unleashed its wrath on the Half-Orc but blundered midway.  Poisoned, both OTAK and KRUSH’s internal organs began to liquefy at an alarming rate.  Luckily, MIYUKI’s strength had not been sapped in her old age allowing her launch her barbs, but alas, they all bounced off the spider’s infernal hide.  Inspired, SHANG-TSUNG launched a devastating cluster shot as all those in melee fought with all their strength.  Before falling, the Bebilith did claim a small victory by dismantling OTAK’s armor and nearly dropping him.  However, the damage dealt to the Half-Orc paled in comparison to that inflicted upon KRUSH.  Unable to fight off the toxin, the Ankylosaurus’ innards had been reduced to paste, leaving nothing more than a mound of withered scaly tissue.  After taking a moment to recover, the cocoons were searched revealing fallen Frost Giants and the Witch Ettin.

Looking for exits, the Horde located another tunnel leading south and they followed it.  A crone door was spotted and unbolted moments later revealing a staircase winding downward.  Rather than traveling further south down the corridor, the Horde opted to take the stairs.  Suddenly, SHANG-TSUNG’s Ochki spotted magical writing on one of the stone steps.  The Samurai spent several minutes in study and identified the rune’s meaning as Youth.  Several yards further, the Ochki got a glimpse of another glyph.  Fearing the thing was a ward of sorts, the Elder asked the others for advice.  Sadly, none was spared as no one else could even confirm the existence of such pictograms.  Bracing himself and asking the others to step back, SHANG-TSUNG closed his eyes and walked over the Glyph of Warning, nothing happened.  Relieved, the Samurai studied the next rune and spotted yet another ward several yards later.  After deciphering the second’s meaning as Fertility, SHANG-TSUNG bypassed three more unidentifiable wards before reaching another crone door.  Meanwhile, unaware of the ward’s locations, the venerable MIYUKI slowly made her way down the stairs unharmed.  UPANIX’ trek however didn’t go as smoothly.  Upon crossing the first invisible ward, the Half-Giant sacrificed his youth and fell victim to the Sands of Time, instantly aging the man to middle age.  The second rune demanded that the man sacrifice his fertility, but UPANIX fought off the Greater Curse.  The third challenged the Half-Giant’s health, luckily, the bubonic plague had no effect.  The fourth ward failed to sap the Specimen’s strength and the last did not slay him outright.  Fearing the echoed cries of pain, OTAK refused to undergo the croning ritual and informed the Horde of his intentions.  Upon reaching the door below, it was quite apparent that the Specimen’s journey had taken its toll.  Annoyed, UPANIX focused his anger on the door and revealed a room they had already visited, the Raven Swarm room.  Envisioning the path leading to the old crone’s cornfield, OTAK and KRUSH backtracked in hopes to rejoin their allies.

OTAK continued south down the tunnel and eventually spotted a black cauldron.  Not wanting any of it, the Half-Orc returned to the dark temple and investigated the path leading east.  His curiosity would be short lived however as the Ranger opted not to travel through the dark petrified forest beyond.  The temple’s mother door to the south west was opened next, revealing a dark stairwell descending into the abyss.  Discouraged, OTAK simply closed the door.  Retracing his steps, OTAK was successful in finding his friends.

Now within JADRENKA’s crone room, two doors remained.  One led to Artrosa’s invaders, the other, to fruitless endeavors.  Opting for the latter, the Horde opened the mother door to the south.  The cool wind subsided halfway through the tunnel beyond and MIYUKI found herself impregnated yet again.  Piecing together room layouts and MIYUKI’s erratic aging, the Horde came to the conclusion that they’ve been traveling in and out of Artrosa’s three statues somehow.  It was also noted that MIYUKI’s “condition” began the moment she killed JADRENKA.  After bypassing an empty cavern, the Horde found themselves within OTAK’s petrified forest.  SHANG-TSUNG unleashed a beacon of light in the room and revealed a three headed woman with six arms.  RANISUKALAPADI drew a longsword, a kukri, a spear and motioned the Horde to “Bring it” as the Upasunda took refuge behind a tree.  Also a firm believer in the Horde’s No parley mentality, the woman craved the challenge ahead.  UPANIX’ superior mobility gave him the chance to strike first, but his blade met heavy resistance.   Hasted, RANISUKALAPADI retaliated with half a dozen precise strikes.  By the time the others arrived, the tides turned quickly prompting the thing to Teleport away to safety.  Whilst RANISUKALAPADI regenerated, KRUSH was sniffing her out.  UPANIX followed the animal’s nose and traded blows with the Upasunda once located.  Again, after flaying the Specimen and withstanding another Horde onslaught, RANISUKALAPADI Teleported away to recover.  Annoyed, the Horde left the forest after enacting the stupid ploy two more times and found themselves back in the dark temple.

SHANG-TSUNG led the Horde down OTAK’s spiraling stairwell to hell beyond the temple’s mother door.  Suddenly, the Samurai heard two men and a woman conversing.  Sadly, the Horde’s attempt to eavesdrop failed when the pregnant MIYUKI accidentally kicked a nearby stone down the stairs and thus alarmed the two Frost Giants below.  SHANG-TSUNG was the first to enter the Mother’s storage room and endured the Giant’s preempted strike.  The Horde retaliated in kind and prevailed albeit suffering a number of lethal greataxe blows and a thrown cauldron filled with boiling water.  A thorough search of the room revealed a magical greatclub, a Broom of Flying and a Cookbook of Arcane Augmentation.  Strangely, there was no sign of a woman.  Crippled, the Horde gathered several blankets in storage and made sleeping arrangements.  Dangerously curious, the Samurai mounted the Broom of Flying and ordered it to animate.  As commanded, the thing sprung into the air, performed a loop the loop and drop the Elder face first to the ground.  Having a laugh, UPANIX noticed he had returned to his youthful self.  The cursed Broom of Animated Attack hovered over to SHANG-TSUNG and slapped away at his eyes relentlessly with its bristles.  After grappling and pinning the thing, the Samurai was forced to surrender a good night’s sleep in order to keep the broom immobilized.  Eight hours passed and MIYUKI began her rounds piecing the Horde back together.  Meanwhile, the broom played dead and resumed its assault once released.  SHANG-TSUNG fetched the Rope of Climbing and entangled his attacker, effectively pinning it.  Out of spite, the Elder unraveled a section of rope in order to drag the evil spirit.  Having recovered slightly, the Horde traveled to OTAK’s cauldron deep within the Crone.

MIYUKI shrank several inches, hunched over and sighed as the Horde entered the frigid corridors of the CroneOTAK led his allies to the black cauldron near the Bebilith’s lair, a ring of runes surrounding its base.  A bubbling and steaming multicolored stew churned within the kettle.  To the east, a table holding all kinds of spice was encountered.  A vile Mihstu spirit attacked SHANG-TSUNG as he approached the cauldron but failed to siphon his life force.  The Samurai dumped a bottle of random spice within the stew and watched the liquid change color.  The spice bottle was then filled with the strange brew and was analyzed.  Sadly the liquid reverted to its original state a minute later, the jar’s contents rendered useless.  Unimpressed, the Horde had wasted enough time and focused their attention to the path leading north.

 
CHALLENGE
XP
2 Sons of the Spirit Mother
1600
Trap: Warden's Curse
3200
Bebilith
2400
Trap: Croning Ritual
3200
Ranisukalapadi; Upasunda; endured
1600
2 Frost Giants
3200
Mihstu
1200
Session total
16400
Campaign total
95080

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