Whatever dissatisfaction I had about Session 28 was not in evidence in our most recent one, which nicely shook off the last vestiges of the holiday-derived lethargy I'd been feeling about the campaign. The characters continued their explorations of the catacombs within Dwimmermount dedicated to the Iron God, finding many chambers filled with mummified remains and grave goods (which they assiduously avoided taking, lest they rouse the wrath of the Iron God, as had the Termaxians). They also encountered weak undead -- skeleton, zombies, ghouls -- who were easily turned by Brother Canor or dispatched with magic. I keep forgetting just how potent clerics are against the undead in OD&D (and AD&D, for that matter), where a successful turn affects 2D6 undead rather than 2D6 hit dice of undead is affected, as it is in Moldvay, for example. Consequently, very few of the inhabitants of the catacombs proved much of a threat to the PCs.
It was then that Fate offered up one of its ironies. While checking for wandering monsters, I rolled up six shadows to attack the PCs. Now, in OD&D, as many of you no doubt know, shadows are not undead beings, as they are in AD&D. Thus, they can't be turned. Combine that with the ability to surprise on 1-5 on 1D6 and they have the potential to get a serious jump on unsuspecting PCs -- which is exactly what they did. The shadows surprised the party and seized the first round of initiative. Taken together, they did some serious damage to the adventurers, including some Strength drain. They also managed to slay poor Henga, Dordagdonar's shield-maiden, who'd died once before. This time, though, the elf opted not to raise her, feeling that two deaths proved her too weak as a henchmen, so she needed to be replaced. Once the PCs left Dwimmermount, they gave Henga a proper Norse burial and then headed to Adamas to re-supply and look for additional henchmen.
Because of the circumstances under which they last left Adamas, the characters decided not to pay a visit to many of the regular contacts in the city, especially Saidon, as the temple of Typhon wound up looking rather foolish for having been caught off-guard during the "zombie invasion" of several months previous. Nevertheless, the characters did seek out an alchemist to analyze some substances and objects they'd uncovered in Dwimmermount. In doing so, they discovered they had a jar of "ointment of gentle repose," which rendered a corpse incapable of being animated as one of the undead. They also possessed two large, circular plates made of a silvery -- but not actually silver -- metal on which there were many fine grooves. The alchemist could not ascertain the nature of the plates or the type of metal from which it was made, but he could say that it was not made of azoth, which has a more silvery-black color and a different density.
Because there are so few broadly useful 2nd level cleric spells, Brother Candor has been memorizing speak with animals recently, in order to speak with Dusty, the cat they found within Dwimmermount. When he spoke with him in Adamas, he learned that the city-state was the seat of the King of the Cats, whom Dusty suggested might know some useful information. Intrigued, Brother Candor and Dordagdonar set off for the King's home, carrying with them tribute in the form of fine cuts of fish and soft pillows. The King, as it turns out, lives in the attic of a flophouse run by an elderly couple, who allow cats to roam freely throughout the building. These cats are in fact courtiers and supplicants of the King's court.
Brother Candor rented a room in the flophouse in order to climb up into the attic, which was festooned with yarn, twine, and bits of cloth and filled with cages in which mice, rats, and birds could be seen, many of them begging to be released by the human visitors. The King accepted Brother Candor's gifts and heard his petition for information about "weird goings-on," particularly of "one called Cyrus." As it turned out, Dusty knew of Cyrus but had not mentioned it to the PCs because no one had explicitly asked him for such knowledge. The Thulian vampire was last seen in Dwimmermount, descending into the caves where the "silvery oil" pooled. The characters then promised to return and asked the King of the Cats if he might be willing to share any information of interest to them in the future. The King consented and implied that he might have more information very soon.
Meanwhile, Gaztea was seeking out a new shield maiden for Dordagdonar, who insisted on having another human female as his henchmen. She succeeded in locating a promising warrior-woman, whose ability scores I rolled in the open, in front of the players. Her Strength of 13 a promising start -- above average on 3D6 -- but it proved to be one of her lowest stats: Int 12, Wis 14, Dex 15, Con 16, Cha 17. A truly remarkable series of rolls! Seeing this, we dubbed her Angrboda and decided she was a statuesque nigh-Valkyrie, possibly with some giant blood in her. Dordagdonar was suitably impressed and took her into his service. Gaztea continued her studies of ancient Thulian -- Brother Candor wants her to be able to translate documents for him -- and there was talk of her learning alchemy as well, although no steps were made to undertake that.
Before leaving the city, Brother Candor paid his respects -- and his tithe -- to Morna, high priestess of Tyche in the city-state. From her, he learned that an inquisitor of Typhon was due to visit Adamas soon, looking into the zombie plague affair and (most likely) pinning the blame on someone within the temple for having been caught off-guard by the whole affair. Brother Candor also availed himself of the temple's extensive library, looking into the Iron God, whom he discovered to be an ancient Thulian psychopomp, revered for protection of souls against necromancy and similar violations of the natural order. His enemy was a being, possibly a demon, called "The Eater of Souls," who was so weakened by the clerics of the Iron God that he was imprisoned on earth, possibly within Dwimmermount itself.
With that, the party returned to the dungeon and continued their explorations of the catacombs, eventually discovering a roughly-hewn room in which there was a large pool of bubbling azoth, albeit an impure one, as the liquid seemed more "watery" and less viscous than it usually is. Dordagdonar took a sample of it and the session ended for the night.