Called by the sound of the yeth hounds, the party turns to see another yeth hound from down below. Having experienced the previous screams from the hounds, the party fairs much better this time. Telbien’s gecko, however, takes off at a full run. By the time he is able to remove himself from the saddle, he is at the top of the stairs.
From just beyond the doorway that the hound came through, Nualia appears and releases a burst of negative energy that washes over the party. Reshoy moves forward to slam his flail into the new yeth hound as Orik draws his blade. Nadierra bends over to scoop up Telbien’s dropped crossbow and heads up the stairs with Pishyankan. While Nadierra and Pishyankan are running to flank Nualia, Telbien decides to follow them while Grael and Reshoy finish off the yeth hound as Staly tumbles forward to take a stab at Nualia. Pressing the attack, Reshoy moves forward and slams Nualia in the chest with his flail as Orik moves forward and scores a massive hit to her mid-section.
As Nadierra passes off Telbien’s crossbow to him, her skin begins to darken; fur growing across her body. Her teeth elongate as claws grow from her hands. As her spine begins to twist, her equipment melds into her form and an identical replica of Pishyankan sprints forward toward the back stairwell.
Staly attempts to jump and spin behind the blinded Nualia, but she manages to block her progress. Grael casts another spell, tripping Nualia to the ground. Staly steps around to stand over Nualia and stabs her. In response, Nualia kicks the door shut from the ground, rolls over and then swings her flail at Staly, releasing an explosion of negative energy as it slams into her chest. As Staly staggers backward from the blow, a large black panther enters the room from behind in a flash, launching itself on top of Nualia. With her tangled up with the large cat on the ground, another panther comes in from the same door and engages with her. Reshoy and Orik manage to push the door open, sliding the mass of fur and claws with Nualia across the floor, nearly knocking Staly over. As the door opens, Grael launches a glowing mass of force at Nualia, but the energy is snuffed out and absorbed by her ring. Unsure how to safely engage, the majority of the party stands over the sprawling mess of large cat and evil priestess. It doesn’t take more than a few seconds until Nualia stops struggling and as the cats release her dead form, it is obvious that they have shredded her to an almost unrecognizable state. As the panthers back away, one of them slowly grows and twists, in an almost ghastly display of transmutation as the cat twists into the shape of Nadierra.
The party presses forward, down further into the Thistletop dungeon. At the base of the stairs, a door sits slightly ajar. As the party moves through the door, there is an elongated room that is slanted slightly to the west. On either side of the long sides of the room are a pair of alcoves with a total of four statues; one in each. Whatever caused the room to shift also knocked the statues off their pedestals, leaning them up against the wall. The statues themselves looked like the runelord that we saw before with a glaive and a spellbook in his hand. Ahead, there is a hallway with two more statues holding glaives. When the party starts to move through the hallway, Staly grabs Reshoy to stop him and points out a trap that she has spotted. Had someone stepped on the floor in front of the two statues, they would have been trapped while the statues chopped them to pieces.
At the end of the hallway, a door leads to both the right and the left with the left door open. The circular room beyond is lit with everburning torches and lined with a red stone counter with a strange collection of old bones, scrimshaw, skulls, books, etc. In the middle of the room are three chairs. On the far side of the room a fountain with fresh water bubbles with magical energy. Upon closer inspection, it appears to be enchanted with never ending clean water.
The door to the right leads to an “L” shaped room. Along the western wall is a carving of an immense stack of tiny gold coins. Nadierra spots two small holes in the pile of gold. Dropping a gold coin in each slot causes the wall to drop below the floor, revealing a hallway beyond. Telbien points out that it looks like the hallway has not been traversed in a very long time. The party decides to continue through the explored section before moving into the previously unexplored area. To the south of the “L” shaped room is a pair of double doors. Beyond is a long room with dark alcoves to either side. In the center of the room, a statue of the same grim faced robed man holding a glaive and a book. In each alcoves stands a sarcophagus. As the party searches the room Nadierra finds a secret door on the eastern wall, and they realize they have awoken something as a dark shadow nearly claws Staly from the darkness. Suddenly, the party finds themselves surrounded by dark shadowy figures. It doesn’t take long to find out that magic is the only way to harm them, as Reshoy is able to damage one of them with the new found magic flail, but Orik’s sword passes straight through them. Once Cornu is able to engage by casting spells through his sword they are able to dispatch them, but not without being injured along the way. After resting for a full day, they are patched up and attempt to redouble their efforts below.
Checking the secret door back in the room where they found the shadowy creatures, they find a hallway that leads off to an empty storage room on one side, and a set of staircases downward. Taking the stairs down, leads to a crumbling room whose walls are carved with elaborate scenes of treasures in far off lands. The floor of the room looks like it has been turned into a tidal pool, with a once ancient treasure laying ruined under the tidal pool. Across the small room, a giant golden helm lays on the floor. As the party sloshes through, large crab claws emerge from below the giant helm as a giant hermit crab lifts the helm that it is using as a shell. Nadierra transforms into a dolphin to lead the crab away while the party loots the treasure room. As Nadierra returns, she spots something that the party had missed; new growth showing upon the top of an old wooden shaft, which is very strange for a piece of rotted wood. Pulling it from the surf, she discovers what looks to be an ancient druidic spear.
Heading back up from the treasure room and to the east behind the carved golden wall, there is a hallway that leads in three directions: north, west, and south. Below the southern door, a light emanates from below. The handles to door are actually small slots that might require a key. Behind the door to the north, a ghostly figure of the runelord repeats a message over and over again that doesn’t make much sense.
To the east, it looks like the room that was used to experiment on creatures. Three small tables have pieces of bodies on them, and each of the tables has tools that were used to undertake their monstrous tasks. With no-where else to explore, the party looks to head south.
The room to the south is lit by a long flickering fire that smells of burning flesh and hair. To either side of the room in the corner are candles that don’t seem to melt, and in front of the candles are seven pointed stars on the floor surrounding an anvil on the western side of the room and an alter on the east side of the room. There is an open alcove across the room just off to the right.
As the party steps into the room, a huge demon appears as it slams the door shut, leaving Grael locked outside as it drops down on Telbien. Telbien fires his crossbow upward toward the falling demon as it begins to emit a faint purple glow from Nadierra’s spell. Falling to the floor under the demon’s onslaught, Telbien cries out in pain.
Already waiting the beast, Reshoy, Staly, Cornu, and Orik rush forward from various points in the room to attack the vile thing. With lightning reflexes, the demon swipes forward to rend Reshoy as he tries to complete his heroic charge. Just barely able to keep his footing, Reshoy’s momentum carries him in range of the demon as he pivots, swinging his flail wide and connecting solidly with the demon’s leathery flank, causing the demon to howl in pain. Not missing the temporary moment of distraction, Staly launches herself at the demon, daggers leading, and tears into its hide. At the same time, Pishyankan leaps up from the rear to claw at the beast. Surrounded on all sides, the strange creature locks eyes with Reshoy. A strange glow flashes in the creature’s eyes briefly before that same glow is echoed in Reshoy’s. As the creature continues to claw at the party, Reshoy turns toward Orik and shove him to the ground. With Reshoy now charmed, the creature is free to turn its attention elsewhere, and nearly kills Cornu instantly as his limp body hits the stone floor under the weight of the demon’s onslaught. Frantically, Nadierra rushes to Cornu’s aid as Telbien, who has now crawled his way free of the creature, lays down cover fire with his crossbow and scoring several solid hits as his bolts impale themselves into the ugly beast’s hide. With Telbien clear, Nadierra reads the text from a scrolls she had been saving for a while, conjuring forth a flaming sphere that propels toward the demon.
With Cornu on the floor, but conscious, and Reshoy and Orik wrestling with each other, the demon sets its sights on Nadierra, who is still hovering over Cornu. Without anything between her and the demon, it only takes a moment for the creature to rip through her armor with its razor-sharp claws. As Nadierra joins Cornu on the floor, Pishyankan lets out a loud roar and renews her effort to claw through the demon’s back side as Staly continues to try to stab it from the other side. Just when things really seem to be going downhill (Both Telbien and Cornu are injured, with Cornu on the floor, Nadierra is unconscious, and Reshoy and Orik are fighting each other), miraculously the creature finally succumbs to its wounds, with Telbien’s crossbow and Nadierra’s unattended flaming orb finally inflicting enough damage.
Now free of the creature’s influence, Reshoy is able to help the rest of the party pick themselves up, open the door to allow Grael to rejoin the party, and begin the long process of recuperation.