The hero's excitement about Zook Timbers's finding an exit from the sealed sewer and cistern complex is quickly squashed. The team, having spread out to search for an exit has left the 3-foot tall gnome alone in one of the cistern rooms. He now faces a gibbering horror and two ochre jellies on his own.
The horrible creatures all seem to be working in concert now. The two jellies move to block the entrance to the cistern to trap Zook with the horror. The gore across the floor in every cistern room, erupts, making movement difficult for all the heroes.
Attacking the jellies is the first order of business for the heroes. Throkk Baldesh uses the remainder of this javelins to do some serious damage to the first jelly blocking the doorway as he struggles to cross the shifting, gelatinous floor. Red Feather and the two mages assault the jelly while Ivor positions himself for maximum effect against the enemies. Zook squared off with the horror, beating it with his magical scimitar. As the battle progressed the heroes were able to destroy the first jelly, causing it to burst like a balloon full of custard. The second jelly was split in half by Throok's great axe after he traversed around and entered the cistern to help Zook from the other side.
The battle turned against the group, just as it looked like it was nearly over. Zook's luck ran out as the horror was able to sink its many mouths into the small gnome. Not able to see the extent of his damage, but seeing him fall the party rushed to his aid. Invigorated by its meal of the gnome, the horror was able to launch a blast of its blinding spittle, taking a few more of the heroes out of commission. Luckily Ivor was able to keep his eyes shut, so he wasn't blinded, and was able to do enough damage to the horror to stop it from devouring Zook, completely.
The rest of the heroes destroyed the now split jellies and the horror succumbed to the damage brought on by Red Feather and Ivor. In an instant the floor went still and the beasts vanished. The team was left to help their companion. Turok got there first and was able to administer aid. Pulling the unconscious and badly injured gnome out of the undead goo covering the floor he was the first to see that his friend might never be the same.
The gibbering horror, had taken Zook's arm.
Red Feather assisted the first aid as the team attempted to stabilize their friend. Throkk and Ivor went to work on the lock holding the gate shut. Finally shattering the lock and busting through into a large drain. At the end of the horizontal drain was a grate leading to the outside and blessed sunlight and fresh air. Red Feather was able to leap up and grab the grate and then force it up and out by leveraging up the wall. Turok used his Mage Hand spell to lift a rope to Red Feather and they all quickly evacuated the sewer. They found themselves, safe. The grate lead to a bank of the river that cut between the borough they were in and the main city center of the Capital. After such an ordeal, they decided to rest. The sand bar was comfortable and they were all able to bath in the cool shallow water. Across the river the large walls of the Capital stood before them and in the distance they could even see the top of the Hanging Gardens, their final target. They had learned from Anna that the resting place for the Book of the World Names was at the top of the great wonder of the world.
Taking a few days to rest the heroes recovered from their injuries. Zook started his new life, with one less arm and struggled with the loss. Deciding that they had taken enough time the adventures headed back to the trail, now sensing the end of this journey was growing near.
They crossed the shallow water of the river delta and found a narrow staircase to ascend back to the main level of the city. What greeted them was devastation. The city had clearly been the scene of a horrific battle. Most of the buildings, were towered higher than any they had ever seen, showed signs of collapse and fire. The streets were paved in green grass. White skulls poked out from the grass here and there across the landscape.
Looking for more weapons and equipment the heroes made their way over to a destroyed military fort, inside the walls of the city and just by the gates and a major bridge to one of the other islands. They found very little, until Red Feather and Ivor were able to find an intact box, with a long sword of find quality and a hand cross bow, two items that they had been searching for throughout their adventure in the ancient city.
Marveling at the scale of the place they adventures traveled down the main boulevard, which was wide enough for at least two great caravans to pass on. It took nearly a full day, walking and being cautious to get to the junction they needed to travel to the hanging garden. They stayed to the main road, as they didn't want to risk traversing through the ruined back roads.
A second day of travel brought them to the gates of the famed Hanging Garden. As they approached the entrance though, Zook and some of the others were sure they heard the sounds of Gnolls in the distance. The horrible dog like creatures they had fought before near Gravel Creek had an unforgettable howl. On edge, the party entered the gardens.
Once fabled for their incredible beauty and lushness, the party found themselves struck in awe by the gardens, despite years of over grown and and an almost sinister wildness to all the plants and animals they found. The heroes had to make their way through the lower, public gardens to find a way into the base of the pyramid that made up the additional layers of the garden.
The going wasn't easy, as the deeper into the garden they traveled the more obvious it was that the plants and animals here had gone quite wild. Every bush and tree seemed to have thorns or noxious pods. The screams and howls of baboons was heard echoing through the canopy of the trees that now towered over most of the paths and plazas.
Looking for a way through the heroes entered a secret plaza, one of many, hidden among all the public trails and areas. This plaza had a large tree growing in the center of it with roots, that had grown and been exposed with time. On a hunch Ivor walked over to a strange and out of place looking ceramic pot on the edge of the plaza. It had fallen over and was partial buried. He reached down and picked it up, not realizing that the picked it up upside down.
The contents, ash, poured out all over the ground and a hideous shriek filled the plaza as four spirits emerged from the scattered cremation ash and formed into horrible banshees.
Swirling above them and only coming close enough to attack the banshees screeched and wailed around the heros. The team coordinated their attack against first one, then another. Seeing the battle was getting close, one of banshees flew to the dark space under tree in the cetner of the plaza. Making use of the dark, away from the sun, the banshee let loose a terrible wail. The super natural scream cut into the soul of the heroes, instantly dropping all but Ivor and Red Feather. Now scrambling to save their quickly dying friends, the two remaining heroes stopped their attack and rushed to revive Zook, the only Cleric in the team. Zook then in turn helped revive Sharasen, and then finally Turok, who was starting to fade into a final death, if he hadn't been saved.
Injured but at full numbers, the heroes were able to destroy the final two banshees. Falling into the dirt, exhausted and shaken by their close call they made a quick camp to recover from the days trials.
This was a great session. The battle in the sewers and the groups escape was a great story. I thought there was some good drama around Zook falling in his solo stand against the Horror. When he dropped to zero he had to roll on the damage table in the DMG and rolled a 2. Loosing his arm. This is a cool narrative part of the character, how will the previously loner, hermit gnome deal with the loss of his arm. I still thought the battle was "to easy" but I think it was fun. The PCs are getting close to the final parts of "Book 1" and as they get closer to the hanging garden and final battle I am getting more excited. I have dropped several encounters, etc. in the interest of moving the story along.
The meta game in the hanging garden was a skill check, the PCs needed 7 successes, and each failure would result on me rolling on a random encounter table. Not all the encounters were bad, (they run into some of them in the next adventure anyway). Ivor's critical failure resulted in me rolling on the table twice. I rolled the 2X banshee line, twice. The PCs had to face four banshees, which was really just on the edge of being a seriously difficult encounter, especially if each banshee was able to wail. There is a note under the wail power that says it doesn't work in daylight, so that saved them. As the battle was progressing and going well for the PCs though, I wanted to up the tension. Once it seemed fairly well in hand, I let one of the banshees wail, which dropped the majority of the party and changed the whole encounter.
The fallout for Ivor after making such a "mistake" was pretty memorable and lots of fun. However, given that the one encounter took a good part of the gaming session, I will dial back the random encounters in the next session to keep things moving.
Thanks for the fun!