The Westerlands

Session 42: The Eye of the Beholder

Beauty is in the eye of... aww, forget it!

Where we left off…

Our heroes stand before the altar deep in the kobold temple. Cries from the denizens of the complex can be heard echoing from outside as the kobolds flee in terror. Their leader is dead, their god has forsaken them.

But where is Rayne?...

Beauty is in the eye of… aw, forget it!

The dark-haired sorceress is missing. Last anyone noticed, she had just ported up onto a ledge back in the great hall. Meanwhile, kobold stragglers are dashing towards the exit of the room. Suspecting Rayne may have taken an alternate route towards the temple chamber, the rest of the party chooses to pursue the small reptilians fleeing through the most likely exit to cross Rayne’s path.

Piruk leads the way, laying out a straggling kobold sorcerer, unluckily stuck at the back of the fleeing mob. Frantic chatter can be heard through the exit. It appears that the rest of the kobolds are tangled up in the hallway beyond. Piruk pushes through the door, swatting at the heels of the panicked kobolds.

As he rounds the corner, he squints in the sudden glare of a beam of light. The hopping silhouettes of the fleeing, pass around a corner beyond the beam’s source, still barking in the strange draconic dialect. Once the crowd has passed, the dwarf can see a kobold standing calmly at the far end of the hall. It appears to be wearing Rayne’s watchlamp.

“It’s me, Rayne!” yaps the dog-faced reptile in the Common tongue.

Piruk considers this for a moment. He supposes that since the critter knows Rayne’s name, it must actually be her.

Daethin, who has pushed into the hall behind the dwarf, through a combination of caution and flippancy quips, “Oh yeah!? What’s the secret code?”

“Bunk beds.” yaps Rayne. “Now don’t move any further! those little buggers kept hopping over a spot in the middle of this passage… I think it may be trapped. I’ll go back around the other way and meet you in the temple.”

After the party regroups before the altar, they decide that the best course of action would be to pursue Juglanth Daar and the floating offering platform. Likely, the kobolds would have made an offering of the crystal, not realizing its true function.

Santiago leads the way, clambering easily up a secured grapple and through the hole in the back wall of the temple. The cylindrical passage through the hole continues for about 20 feet before opening into a massive, high ceilinged chamber. The room is lit by an eerie, blue glow, which appears to emanate up through irregularly spaced holes in the floor. Directly opposite the tunnel where the party stands, is a massive vertical split in the chamber wall. The gap runs from the floor, until lost in the darkness above.

Kit moves tentatively forward, wary of potential traps. Closer inspection of the gaps in the floor reveals that the blue glow actually emanates from the underside of the floor, which hovers above a void with no visible bottom. Stepping out towards the center of the room, Kit is suddenly surprised, when the floor beneath her feet begins to slide forward. The platform continues until it thuds into another section, at which point, Kit hops off. She makes her way over to the far edge of the room and peers through the gap in the wall at the seemingly endless abyss beyond.

Kit returns to the group and stands to the side with Daethin, letting the more inquisitive members of the party work out the solution to the shifting platforms. Santiago hops about the room, largely at the direction of Rayne and Eleanor as the blocks shift back and forth.

After shifting, and re-shifting the various platforms, at last they appear to clear a path for a block that is lined up properly to drift through the gap in the chasm wall. The whole party piles onto the close confines of the moving platform, and holds still as it drifts silently across the room and through the sheer divide. As they clear the narrow channel, the darkness opens out into a massive gulf of black. A great, subterranean canyon hollowed out beneath the mountainside.

The platform drifts silently on. The arcane glow from its underside is far too weak to illuminate the canyon walls or bottom as is the everburning torch held in the rogue’s hand. Soon, a pair of faint, blue lights begin to grow up ahead. The pinpoints become blotches, and then discernible blue flames burning in braziers beside a great stone arch. The platform drifts slowly into a slot carved in a stone ledge before the arch, slowing to a halt with a dull thud that echoes faintly in the blackness.

Our heroes step gingerly off the platform and peer through the archway. Beyond its span, they see numerous other points of the same blue fire, burning from numerous torches. The torches are held in the hands and claws of stone figures, standing silently in a broad gallery.

The group moves hesitantly into the gallery, Kit in the fore. Through the archway, they see that the stone figures are of various creatures, mostly denizens of the Underdark; drow, duergar, umber hulks and grimlocks but occasional surface species pepper the grim gallery. The statues are frozen in active poses, many with a look of surprise or horror permanently carved on their face.

“Basilisk victims… mutters Daethin. The kobolds have made them offerings to their god.”

Each statue has been decorated in a bizarre fashion. Draped with bits of clothing and baubles, but always in a way that would seem incongruous to the statue’s nature; Drow dressed in dwarven helmets and pink gowns, A gnome in kobold array, his face painted with draconic slurs. a great, flightless subterranean bird wearing nothing but a loin-cloth and a large novelty phallus, strapped to its forehead.

The dread of the beholder’s physical threat begins to be matched by a fear of it’s mental inclinations in the minds of our heroes.

As the group nears the center of the room, they stop at sudden movement from among the statues. Two swirling masses of wearerless clothing unwrap themselves from the statues and make for the party. The raggamoffyns swirl towards the nearest targets attempting to wrap their cloth tendrils around them.

The group beats back the assault, successfully breaking up and dispersing one of the constructs, only to see the other grab ahold of Rayne. Piruk, Lanna and Kit rush to help dislodge Rayne from the constricting grasp of the living clothes. The sorceress manages to hold the wrappings at bay, preventing the odd entity from gaining control, but soon the struggle devolves into a stalemate. Everytime a scrap is removed, another seems to grab on. After what seems like an eternity, the remaining raggamoffyn lets out a burst of sparkling gem dust, temporarily dazzling those around it. It then swirls away, carrying one of Rayne’s belt pouches in its clutches.

After blinking the spots from their eyes, the party continues to the end of the gallery and through the corridor beyond to a great, round chamber. The walls of the chamber are lined with alcoves, each holding a ridiculously-dressed statue. In the room’s center, is a dais holding a closed chest among a pile of various and sundry offerings, all presided over by the stone form of an illithid. Above the dais floats the horrible orb of Juglanth Daar.

The lesser beholder opens its great central eye as Kit peers into the room. The rogue goes rigid, stunned by the eye’s power. The rest of the party does not waste time trying to diplomacize with the horror. Leaping a shallow gap at the edge of the room, Lanna, Eleanor, Piruk and Daethin all rush in, firing up at the circling orb. Rayne moves into the doorway and unleashes a massive fireball. She does not think she can draw on such a large amount of arcana to cast another spell of its power. The ball of flame bursts, scorching the beholder as it dodges out of the way. Juglanth Daar responds by casting a ray of flame from one of his lesser eyes, setting the ditch at the edge of the room ablaze, separating the party with a burning barrier.

Several of Daethin’s arrows strike home, as does a blast of divine energy from Eleanor. Then the beholder makes a fatal mistake. In order to bring his central eye to bear on everyone in its chamber, the orb drops to hover just above the ground. Unfortunately for the aberration, the eye has little power over our heroes who immediately rush to engage the beast in melee. Piruk’s hammer opens several great contusions on the orbs rubbery hide as Daethin continues to fill it with arrows. Rayne lets loose several acid arrow spells, but each time they hit home, Juglanth Daar immediately dispels the acid’s effect to save it further damage.

The battle begins to lean our heroes way. The injury caused by Juglanth’s eye rays is outpaced by the battle prowess of the party. Soon, sensing that it cannot win the fight, the great orb lets out a snarl of frustration and withdraws straight upward in an attempt to flee its grounded companions. Lanna switches from her sword to her longbow, and a final volley from the Paladin, Daethin, and the javelins of Santiago at last pierces the life from the beholder. The great orb lets out a sickening gurgle before dropping heavily to the ground with a sickening squish.

At last, the party stands alone surrounded by the treasure horde of Juglanth Daar.