Thornkeep (Druid's Head)

Lobbi's Musings #14

I Still Don’t Like This Level

At the other side of the water tunnel we encounter yet another desert. Freaky place. Two draconic humanoids in mithral field plate armour with masterworked halberds are tough but are eventually defeated.
Using magic, Reeda spots a glow in a sand dune. Digging down, he finds a spindle of Ioun Stones shaped like a crown. All the crystals are clear. Seems they are a theme of the creator of this place. Reeda puts the crown on and the whole room changes into a throne room with goblins celebrating Zog outside and dancing goblin girls (appearing as Jimbob suggests them). Reeda seems to be the Chief. Hob is upset by this and snatches the crown off Reeda. With Hob putting it on, we are back amongst the Blood Moon Clan as Hob gives the crown to Chief Gut Splicer. I think Reeda will make Hob pay for that before long. Seems the Hob is completely loyal to the Chief after all. Reeda snatches the crown off the Chief using magic.
Reeda believes this effect is some sort of Mirage Arcana spell created by the spindle that obeys the wishes of the wearer. Reeda puts the crown in his bag.
Bored with this now plain room, we head down the carved 10’ deep stairs at the far end. It leads to a non-illusory cavern with humanoid hands as a form of chain curtain. Cool. Beyond is the stone-columned cavern with a raised dais. Beyond the dais are statues of black stone of scholarly men but with snake legs. Chained on the dais by hooks tight into the wall is a creature with a lion’s head. It appears to have been tortured and is in pain. We learn it is a creature called a sphinx; it was trapped by the mage who built this place, speaks Azlanti, and wants to be freed. It offers to bring us its treasure if we free it.
As we approach to kill/eat it, it lets loose a horrendous terrifying roar. We all run, back to the stairs out of this area.
We all avoid mentioning the sphinx. Returning slowly we discuss that there may be an Ioun Stone spindle in every room controlling the illusion. We decide to test this on the first Desert Room. Sifting the sand, a long boring job, we find a second spindle after Jimbob manages to see through the illusion. Jimbob tries it on and creates dozens of dancing goblin gobbling girls. At his request we leave the room for half an hour. We shut the door behind us. As they are illusions, must remember to watch where I’m treading when we next enter.
We quickly get bored waiting for Jimbob and decide to look in the Jungle Room. We cannot see past the dense undergrowth. Most of us are able to penetrate the veil, and see a tree that has grown up through a crown spindle, the two 6-legged large-frilled lizards, and a climbing frame that the 4-armed gorilla is swinging from.
Reeda shoots at the gorilla and it charges us. It is mauled by Slasher, but Slasher is soon dissipated by the ferocious beast. Hob steps in but the gorilla grabs and rips into him with all four arms and literally tears Hob to Pieces! We retreat back towards the stairs as I continue to bomb the creature. Reeda then casts a wall of stone across the corridor, blocking it completely and preventing the fearsome beast getting any closer. We are safe, but Hob is dead and Jimbob is in for a nasty surprise when he emerges from his time with the dancing girls!
Eventually we hear claws slashing at the wall (that Reeda now advises us is permanent) and spot the familiar snout of Slinky breaking through. Cautiously we look into the jungle room but can only see the rustling undergrowth. I start throwing alchemist’s fire at the real tree and eventually it catches and burns. Reeda uses magic to retrieve the spindle and the illusion disappears. We can clearly see the badly wounded ape and the two lizards, looking very confused. Seizing the chance, I throw another bomb at it and it collapses. We attack the lizards. Slinky bites one of the lizards and starts retching, possibly due to the taste of Hob that the lizard had been chewing on. Reeda attacks and runs off. Jimbob has already left. The remaining lizard chases after and attacks Reeda who goes invisible. The lizard tastes the air with its tongue and starts tracking Reeda. Another bomb and the last lizard dies.
I prepare Hob, taking off his mithral breastplate, his ioun stone, and his amulet of natural armour.
Looks like we’re eating a Hobroast tonight as Hog has wandered off up the stairs in the thick of the fight. I knew Reeda would get his revenge for the crown fight but I’m impressed with how quickly and thoroughly.

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