Library of Howling

16.Urban Explorers

The party stands outside of what appears to be the palace in the city. The door of the outer gate has been completely ripped off and is lying on the ground on the path leading in. The party moves into the courtyard surrounding the palace and spreads out to investigate. To the left is a fenced area leading towards some sort of park, which they stay well away from. Small water inlets can be seen going under the walls of the palace on either side of it, and a pavilion type area is situated in front of the doorway. The party immediately notices the door of the palace, a piece worth quite a large sum being made of precious metals, has been ripped off and lays crumpled in the entryway. Red fires off a location spell outside the palace, but can feel nothing.

Venturing inside, the party spreads out just inside the entrance of the palace. Bill stops for a moment and casts some sensing spells to try and find anything in the area. He stiffens up and quickly hustles the party through the palace foyer while seeming to stare at something moving around the room that only he can see. The other party members seem interested to know what it is he can sense, but choose to take him at his word and move deeper into the palace.

The party emerges into a large room with many tapestries along the walls and a number of doors on each wall. Bill remembers an old trick of the King’s he had heard and has the party search behind all of the tapestries for hidden rooms, but this search turns up empty and only manages to rip down a few of the old tapestries. Stopping to admire the floor, Red notices jewels that seem to be actually inlaid in its design and uses his magic to pry a few loose and pockets them. The room is definitely a treasure trove, but removing all of the jewels will take time, and they don’t seem to be going anywhere, so the party moves deeper into the palace. They notice to their right a large room with a throne and many stone-covered tables, but choose to press forward opposite the foyer through the door there.

They walk into what seems to be some sort of entertainment room complete with a small stage to the left and some couches facing a large statue. Multiple doorways stand across the room from them on the other side of the couches. A glowing rod of some sort stands vertical in front of the statue of some sort of bull/human creature, and as the party moves to approach the statue, Bill once again calls a quick halt. Sensing something that the others can’t see, Bill warns them to avoid a certain area of the room, but spread out and search the rest. Some papers with writing that Bill can somewhat read are found on the stage, and he looks through them while resting his magically-fatigued body on one of the couches. The others spread out and find little new about the room, but someone does point out some writing on the base of the statue. Bill says he will translate the writing once he finishes resting, but curiosity and boredom get the best of Three Mules who approaches the statue and touches it.

A demonic creature bursts forth into the material world in the area Bill had warned them to avoid and flexes its oddly-shaped body as it emerges from the rift. The glowing rod falls to the ground and ceases to glow at this point, leaving only the demon as the center of attention. Three-legged, winged, and towering above the party it shifts its gaze around the room quickly. Bill is the first to act and springs from the couch launching his magical spear into one of the legs of the demon, looking to steal its balance from under it. He does penetrate the otherworldly skin of the demon, but the blow does not shake the creature much. It shifts its gaze to Bill as the others join in the attack. Marble and Thin Boots both let fly with arrows, but neither tracks into the demon’s oddly-swaying body. Moon mutters some mystical words and lets fly an icy spell which covers the demon’s upper body in a frosty mist while Red lifts his hands and sharply lowers them, causing the demons legs to sink down into the ground, rooting it in place.

Howling in rage, the demon takes a swipe at Bill, who is the closest enemy, but the rapid fire spells and damage it has taken leaves the blow weak, and Bill takes the blow to his shoulder without flinching. The demon has one attack left to play though and emits a poisonous cloud from its body which engulfs both Bill and X. Both manage to stagger out of the cloud without taking serious wounds, but in the meantime, the party finishes off the demon with a hail of blows and spells. Moon creates a frost inside the poison cloud causing it to fall apart and settle onto the ground much faster than it normally would have.

After collecting himself, Bill reads the base of the statue and discovers that this is not an entertainment room but a chapel…the statue is to honor the God of lust: Rit and Rage. Bill picks up the now non-glowing rod at the foot of the statue and tucks it away for later study, and the party gathers and exits out another door in the room.

This door leads to a staircase up, which they take. The staircase goes up and out into a hallway where twin silver lines can be seen criss-crossing back and forth on the floor. A walled up doorway is to the left, which Bill decides to get Red to knock down so they can investigate. While Bill, Red, and Ox enter the walled up room, the rest of the party splits up and follows the circular left and right hallways in front of them which both have their own silver line going down.

Bill and Red find nothing but a bureau full of old moth eaten black uniforms in a small tower off of the walled up hallway. Meanwhile Moon’s group discovers a doorway off to the left of the circular hallway which leads into darkness. Using his firmaking kit, Moon lights a nearby torch and finds himself in a room full of empty shelves. Marble’s group has found a doorway to their right and after lock-picking their way in, find themselves in a washroom area with another door leading to what seems to be a sleeping area for guests.

Moving further down the hall, Marble’s group finds another door to the right and opens it to reveal a darkened room with a hole falling down to the chapel floor in front of the door. Some busts of heads can be seen across the darkened way, but nothing else. Moon’s group ends up being joined by Bill, Red, and Ox and meets Marble’s group in front of the last door. The hallways have turned out to be completely circular and the twin silver lines have once again run together and criss-cross under the door into the room in front of them.

Entering the room they find themselves in sort of a foyer area with a door to the right and in front of them. Marble tries to pick the door to the right but is unable to bypass the elaborate lock. Bill uses his metal-destroying spear to rend the lock, driving it completely through the mechanism. Moon kicks the door in, and they find themselves in the room Marble’s group could see with the busts. A dust-covered sheet covers something in the corner, which Bill removes to discover a fine suit of chain-mail with water symbols inlaid on it. It seems to be the correct size for a lady’s build, but Marble and Moon immediately set to arguing over the armor for their respective seconds, and finally a game of stone, blade, magic settles the affair in favor of Moon. Three Mules dons the new chainmail, which, though tight, gives him a much better chance of taking a hit than his old armor. He passes his old boiled leather chest piece to the bard who lacks any meaningful chest armor.

Moving back to the other door in the foyer, Marble is once again unable to pick the lock. Bill destroys it with his spear again and kicks the door open. Stepping into the room, Bill is only saved by his agile reflexes as a trap door opens up just in front of the door which drops into the chapel below them. Hopping over the hole, the party finds itself in an elaborate bedroom. A silver-posted bed sits in the center of the opposite wall, and two posts surround each side of the bed with three of them holding green glowing gems. Bill believes the green gems to either be or hold something sentient, and Marble performs a show spirit spell causing each gem to sprout a smoky-looking head of a man.

Speaking with the first man in the gem, the party comes to find out the gems contain former lovers and champions of the queen here who tired of them and imprisoned in these gems. They retain their intelligence, but wish only to be freed from the gems. The first gem fellow is the most forthcoming and details some knowledge of the palace but is for the most part not overly helpful. The other two gems are just downright belligerent. After talking with them for a bit, all three gems are destroyed, freeing the souls inside.

Returning downstairs, the party enters the throne room. They noticed Thirsty acting quite strange the first time they passed the room, and this time he goes entirely bat shit crazy and starts obsessing over the still whole throne next to a melted down throne in the room. The rest of the party sees a granite throne of no great significance, but to Thirsty, who has a more focused mind, he sees it as it really is: a throne of pure emerald. Thirsty refuses to leave the thrown and the group promises it to him, but only if he can move it himself. Trying as hard as he can, Thirsty is unable to move the throne and resigns himself to having to leave it.

The party searches the hall, finding nothing of import except the stone and prepares to move on to another room.