Thursday, April 29, 2021

House of Worms, Session 223

The undead Ssú raised by Znayáshu struggled against a living Ssú patrol down a western passageway. Rather than wait to see the results of their combat, Grujúng and Aíthfo advanced northward, scouting ahead to see if there were more Ssú. Meanwhile, one of the Ksárul sorcerers used his door control spell to seal the double doors of another chamber in the same area. The rest of the group reinforced the undead Ssú, forming a second rank from which to attack. Nebússa took particular relish in this, using his spear to slay any enemies he could reach. 

Since this particular Ssú patrol consisted only of warriors, it was no match for the combined arms of the undead and the characters. Grujúng and Aíthfo returned from their scouting mission – having concluded that the north passage was free of any opponents – to join the fray. In fairly short order, the Tsolyáni were victorious. Elsewhere, Kirktá and Chiyé descended the shaft from the second level of the ruin. Kirktá was very keen to explore a chamber to the east that an earlier use of the extra-vision spell had revealed contained a treasure trove. The trove in question consisted of several coffers filled with coins and gems and a small silver idol that looked similar to the larger statues seen on the second level. While they did this, Keléno and Mírsha kept an eye on another passage, wary of the appearance of more Ssú.

The door control spell ended, Aíthfo, Grujúng, and Nebússa burst into the westernmost room, which contained close to two dozen Ssú. Not only did they surprise their enemies, they did so while still under the effects of the eye of being an unimpeachable shield against foes, which made them invulnerable to non-magical weapons. In the back of the large room, there were two statues, again looking like those on the level above. Standing near them were three Ssú sorcerers, recognizable by the distinctive harnesses. 

Taking advantage of the Ssú's surprise, Znayáshu let loose a plague spell on one of the sorcerers, reducing him to a putrescent smear on the ground. The trio of Aíthfo, Grujúng, and Nebússa dealt heavy damage to the front line of Ssú, with Grujúng being particularly effective against them (he took down multiple targets with each attack). The Tsolyáni warriors were joined by the remaining undead Ssú and the three soldiers who accompanied them into the ruins. Together, they proved quite formidable and the living Ssú were whittled down.

Responding, the Ssú sorcerers unleashed two spells on their attackers. The first was the spell of transmutation, which turned the stone floor into hip-deep mud, which hampered both movement and further attacks. The second was fear, directed at Nebússa, who once again found himself compelled to flee the chamber, though his flight was slowed by the mud in which he now found himself. Thinking fast, Aíthfo countered with his own transmutation spell (after removing his metal arms and equipment), turning the mud back into stone, after he and his companions climbed out of it. The battle continued, with Znayáshu making use of an eye of raging power to slay another of the sorcerers.

The commotion of the battle was such that Keléno, his wife Mírsha, and Chiyé, all decided to head westward toward it. Kirktá suggested they stay behind and watch the southern passage, but his words fell on deaf ears. Rather than stay behind alone, he joined his comrades as they made their way west. By the time they arrived, the fight was nearly over. The combination of good tactics, shrewd use of spells and magical devices, and invulnerability to normal weaponry led to a victory for the Tsolyáni. They then spent time examining the chamber of the Ssú, with Kirktá taking particular interest in the statues and just why the Enemies of Man might have been here. Was this a shrine or religious site of some kind? The statues were humanoid in shape, so this seemed unlikely, but he could think of no other explanation.

A few minutes later, the assembled characters headed southward to see if there were any more Ssúl they found none. What they found instead was a large, open chamber with no exits containing an over-sized sarcophagus. Znayáshu commanded the undead Ssú to lift its lid (since the spell that created them would soon dissipate). Inside were two mummies wearing golden masks and jewelry, lying side by side. At their feet was a smaller skeleton, presumably that of a child. Other than the masks and other finery, there was nothing else of value in the sarcophagus. Znayáshu uttered a few prayers to the aspect of Lord Sárku known as Siyenágga, the Wanderer of Tombs, as propitiation for his intention to take the valuables from the coffin (though he did wander if Sárku held any sway over this alternate version of Tékumel). When nothing ill befell him or his companions, he took it as a sign that his prayers had been heard.

With no other way to proceed, the group returned to the south passageway that had been left unguarded to the east. Moving forward with care, they came across a huge, empty room with a wooden carving depicting some sort of mythological scene on three walls. The scene was not recognizable to any of the Tsolyáni, though they could detect both beetle and flame imagery, suggesting to them that there was some connection to the worship of both Ksárul and Vimúhla respectively. Znayáshu suspected that the carving held some sort of buttons or hidden levers and spent time searching it for such things. His suspicion proved correct and he found a lever that, when pushed in one direction, caused a loud, grinding noise from the darkness to the south. Keléno mused that it must have opened a secret door and the characters then resolved to head further into this level of the ruins, wary that more Ssú might still be lurking nearby.

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