After a long hiatus during the Christmas season, the City States of Lemuria campaign resumed where it left off last session:
Still unnerved by their recent encounter with talking rats, the party quickly finished mapping the first level and then descended to the next; a system of karst caverns.
As the party entered the first, very large and fungus-filled, cavern, they heard some panicked whispers from the far side of the cave, which was still cloaked in darkness, followed by footsteps receding into the distance. Ignoring the departure of the cavern's unknown occupants, the party proceeded to make their way along the east wall of the cavern, intent on mapping its dimensions. A few minutes later they heard the rush of many feet coming toward them, and saw a dozen or so humanoid forms in the darkness, making their way along the north wall to cut off the party's retreat back to the first level. This was quickly followed by a charge of another dozen spear-wielding albino warriors that the party had encountered previously on the first level.
After a few rounds of combat, the party was running low on hit points, and several were wounded. They were flanked by overwhelming numbers and their retreat was cut off, so Aziz the thief convinced the others to surrender. The PCs were bound and relieved of their weapons except for a dagger that Aziz concealed on his person prior to surrendering, which was not found. They were herded through the cavern complex that was home to the Albino tribe and into the throne chamber, which contained a large fire pit and spit, around which was piled a large number of charred human bones; a grim hint of things to come.
Much to their surprise, the throne was occupied by none other than Sathera, the missing adventurer, who was believed to have died with the rest of her party. She spoke to her albino followers in Atlantean, ordering them to cut the party's bonds and return to their work. Her orders were obeyed, if sullenly, and the PCs were left in the throne chamber. Sathera explained that her party was ambushed by a party of albinos, who she refers to as Grimlocks. She alone escaped the nets that entangled her comrades and she cast Light of Aten in an attempt to stun and blind her attackers so she could escape. Bathed in the illuminating radiance of the spell, Sathera was mistaken by the grimlocks as the living embodiment of Derketo, Thrace's goddess of love, pleasure, and procreation. She was rushed down to the caverns below by the raiding party, who convinced many of the tribe that Sathera was the goddess returned to return them to the light.
The grimlocks, twisted and degenerate descendants of the human slaves of Thrace, had long ago given up worship of the Thracian gods and turned to Chaos, but Sathera's dramatic appearance sparked old memories, much to the annoyance of the priest of the Rat God whom the tribe now worshiped. Thus, Sathera had won herself an uneasy reprieve. Though the high priest was suspicious and jealous of her influence, enough of the tribe were awed by her that she was kept safe so long as she could maintain their belief in her divinity.
The priest of the rat god, meanwhile, was unwilling to concede the loss of his authority over the tribe, however, and was constantly working to undermine the grimlocks' awe of Sathera. Though Sathera was able to protect the PCs by telling the grimlocks that they were her servitors from the surface, this protection was running out, as it was only a matter of time, she believed, until the priest of the rat god would be able to reveal her as a charlatan, and that the party would need to act quickly to make good their escape if they wished to avoid becoming the main course at a grimlock feast.
After debating a variety of plans, the party settled on Aziz's scheme. He was in possession of a rat medallion taken from the body of the den mother last session, and he began to ostentatiously sneak away to make obeisance at the rat god's idol in the hope of attracting the attention of the priest. His hope was to gain the confidence of the priest and get close enough to assassinate him, place the blame on one of the other tribesmen and then escape in the confusion. The plan worked up to a point. The priest did notice Aziz praying at the idol, but became incensed at the temerity of the infidel surface dweller. He, and the three burly body guards that were always by his side, angrily demanded that he remove himself. Aziz showed the priest the rat god medallion, which he, the priest, recognized as having been taken from the slain den mother. Recognizing that the gig was up, Aziz pulled his dagger and attempted to thrust it into the priest's heart. He recognized that the odds were against him, since he would also have to deal with the bodyguards by himself, but maybe lady luck would smile upon him. As it turned out she was scowling in his general direction. He rolled a '1' on his attack, and the priest nimbly leaped out of the way of the thrust. Things went generally downhill for Aziz from that point on as he was forced to fight four angry cultists by himself. He did manage to avoid their attacks long enough to fatally wound the priest, but was cut down himself in turn by the guards.
The skirmish had drawn a lot of attention, and a crowd had gathered to watch. The commotion alerted Sathera and the other party members that something was up, and they arrived in time to see Aziz fall. During the upheaval surrounding the priest's murder, Sathera cast Light of Aten again, irritating the light-sensitive eyes of the albinos, and the party ran for it, cutting down the few warriors guarding the exit to the first level.
The party made good their escape and returned safely to camp, but for how long, now that there is a thoroughly roused and vengeful tribe of albinos looking for vengeance...?
As a happy epilogue to the session, two of the characters finally reached level two, gaining an additional 2 hit points each; ah, the giddy rush of power!
Welcome Back to the Labyrinth
"We have been away far too long, my friends," Ashoka declared, his face lit by the eldritch green glow of his staff. "But we have finally returned to the labyrinth whence our adventures first began."
"Just imagine the treasures that lie within," said Yun Tai, flexing his mighty muscles. "Wealth enough to live in luxury the rest of our days."
"And arcane artifacts of great power," added Ashoka his words dripping with avarice. "All ours for the taking!"
"Umm...guys?" Nysa interrupted. "Do you hear something dripping?"