The heroes looked down the cliff, trying to figure out a safe descent. Ellinghad had the idea to cast the Dismissal spell on the Elder Fire Elemental, which he’d memorized after the first challenge. He wasn’t sure if it would work as he discovered the beast held Celestial traits as well. The spell failed, not breaking spell resistance. Sir Otto then produced a wand, attempting the same thing. The spell broke resistance, but again the elemental made his Will save. Between you and I, the thing would just reappear again, but I wasn’t going to tell them that.
Ellinghad then decided to start a Featherfall. With the winds I had him make an occasional Reflex save to keep from floating too far away from the cliff face. Hyphen Spiderclimb-ed with his Cloak of the Arachnida. Gygax turned himself and Esilidor into Dire Bats and climbed down, don’t ask me why. Lya decided to stay and offer bow support from the top. Her attacks were tremendous even with the negatives for the high wind. Sir Royse surprised everyone by lastly getting a running start, and jumping down the 100 feet drop with an Acrobatics check. Aye yai yai! We went into initiatives of course. Ellinghad the player (Dan) asked Elgene (Royse) if he was trying to Die Hard this encounter? Elgene said yes to laughs across the table. Dan referenced the scene where Bruce Willis jumped off the building tied to a fire hose, only Royse had no rope but just close to 200 hps to break his fall, lol.
I had fun detailing Royse’s armored fall as the knight plummeted past the other four. As the elemental was huge and had the appropriate feats, he provoked three attacks of opportunity. Yikes. It should have been more, but I was feeling magnanimous. Between the fall, slams and fire damage he took about 60 damage and landed prone. The elemental took the first round to move and unleashed a full attack on the knight dealing another 22 damage. Sir Otto came next, attempting another Dismissal from his wand. The clerist stayed above with Lya. Again, it didn’t work. Ellinghad came next, still floating down. He cast Resilient Sphere, breaking spell resistance and trapping the beast. That pretty much ended combat as they simply scooped up the crystal and climbed back up the cliff. Seraph the ghostly gold dragon reappeared, praising their ingenuity. He sang the next few notes while Lya recorded it in the music box, and the party moved to the next challenge.
Next up was the Island Ivory and the challenge of the silver dragons. Upon their arrival, the temperature dropped to 0 degrees, but thankfully the Endure Elements spell was still active. Rimed with snow and ice, it grew colder the closer they got to the shrine (-20 degrees). The shrine was an edifice of spired stone encased by shining ice. The spectral appearance of Soul the silver dragon challenged them to find the crystal in the heart of the beast. A huge Celestial Frost Worm burst from the ice, and thus started the third trial. Sadly, this one didn’t allow for ingenuity. It was a knock-down drag-out.
I won’t detail the entire fight, but I can say it was the toughest of the three thus far. At one point Sir Royce was at -10 and almost dead. The battle was won through fire magic from Ellinghad, and the Frost Worm exploded in hundreds of snowy crystals. A simple Detect Magic cantrip fished through the icy detritus and it was on to the next challenge. Before moving on the group checked in on Gilthanas. They found him sitting patiently before the portal, a dozen mixed corpses and undead splattered about the area. It seemed Chemosh’s influence was getting stronger. Lya instructed Grrr to Guard the elf. Gilthanas again told them to quicken the pace, and they set off towards the Island of Smoke.
The island was a burning desert with rivers of hot lava. Their Endure Elements again saved them from the worst of it. Through the waves of heat and flame, they found the shrine of the brass dragon made from obsidian and black rock. The ghostly brass dragon Sultan appeared, and he told them to find their prize upon the lake of fire. Outside the shrine was indeed a small lake of lava. Two large noble salamanders wielding spears of flame slithered out of the lava, blocking their way. One challenged them, waving the crystal in its free clawed hand. It disdainfully spoke “come and get it” in the common tongue, tossing the crystal 20 feet away on to a sinking island on the lake. We went right into combat, and of course, the group played it smart. While the others went on the offensive, Hyphen Spider Climbed up the shrine. When he was high enough he cast the web spell anchoring one point to the building and the other to the island, being careful not to get it close to the lava. The kender then swiftly walked across the web to the sinking island, having to Tumble as he was in the threat range of the Salamanders. Hyphen dived past like Spiderman on high rolls and retrieved the crystal ending the challenge. Lya recorded the tones and it was on to the final.
The last was the Island of Stone, a fractured disc of rock, with the group having to delve into tunnels to get to the shrine. On their way the island shook with earthquakes and tunnels opened into chasms. One instance threatened the heroes, but mostly everyone made their Reflex saves. Sir Royse and Otto both fell, taking 23 damage. Gygax healed them and they continued to the shrine, a temple of pillars comprised of geodes and rocky spurs. Stealth, the ghostly copper dragon appeared. He teased them in a mischievous voice to find the final crystal in the gullet of one of his guardians. Two large Xorns melted out of the rock saying in grinding voices “we compete, you win, we give rock. If lose, no rock for you!”
The battle started in earnest with Hyphen attacking from distance with the Hellfire Lash for minimal damage due to DR and the Xorns innate resistance to fire. Ellinghad attempted to cast a Transmute Rock to Mud spell, but it tanked having no effect. Esilidor charged in for a Pounce attack for 32 damage, starting a grapple with one of the guardians. Gygax attacked with the Lion’s Shield and fumbled. The shield took arcane fire backlash, singed from its own magical meltdown (Pathfinder Fumble Deck). Otto cast Judgement and took a five-foot step. Royse took a five-foot step and used his Noble Rhetoric to Inspire Confidence. Lya plugged the grappled Xorn with arrows for 29 damage. Ellinghad cast Lightning Bolt, dealing 42 damage to the other Xorn. The Xorns finished the round with the free one moving to aid his grappled friend. The beast unleashed a full attack on Esilidor. The tiger suffered 56 damage on three hits. The other failed to break grapple.
On round 2, Hyphen again lashed with the whip on the grappled Xorn. Sadly the Xorn had immunity to sneak attack damage and took nothing. Esilidor continued the grappled fight, dealing 21 damage with claw and bite. Gygax aided his cat attacking via scimitar. The blade did not pierce the Xorn’s DR. Sir Otto took a five-foot step and attacked the free Xorn but missed. Royse also attacked, dealing a measly five damage with his longsword. Arrows from Lya struck the grappled Xorn for 12 damage. Ellinghad cast another Lightning Bolt on the free guardian, dealing 14 damage on its successful save. The Xorns retaliated again to get rid of Esilidor, dealing enough damage between them to kill the Bonded animal. Gygax howled with despair.
On round 3, Hyphen held action in the knowledge that he could not hurt the Xorns. Gygax did the same, holding action hopelessly. This was a point where I became a bit worried for the party. I realized there is good roleplay but things started looking a bit grim. Otto hit for one damage total. Royse again followed up for four damage. Lya sent another volley for 21 damage, finally killing the previously grappled Xorn. Luckily enough I had rolled randomly and that was the Xorn with the crystal. Hyphen rushed over to pick up the stone, ending the challenge.
As we started the session late and went even later, that’s where we left it. I doled out XP. The conclusion of Spectre of Sorrows is tomorrow, and maybe we will even get to Price of Courage!