A History Lesson and Preperation
The party enters the head office of the library, hoping to find out more information on the pyramid, Karavakos, the colossus, and most importantly, the means to escape. The office contains various pictures of previous headmasters of the ruined academy surrounding the library, various items of the said headmasters, a large oak desk (or perhaps made of a more fantastical wood), and in the center, a mechanical device that shows the alignment of various important stars.
Among the writings on the desk, the library’s Karvakos’ notes, the party learns that he was attempting to garner power from Gibbeth, the cursed green star, his contact with said entity causing the mind warping features on the left half of his face. It is uncertain if this would have eventually lead to his escape or not.
Amongst the items the party finds a few magical items, as well as a vial of residuum. Tempest, having been a cat burglar in her “normal” life, spots where a wall safe would be hidden, and removes the painting covering it and sets to work cracking it. The party wanting to help, tries to find a combination amongst the items in the desk and find a series of numbers, too many to make for a combination unless it was coded somehow.
A light glint catches the party’s eye, a pair of stars in the mechanical diagram a lined up pointing the small glowing suns light onto a wall. The party figures out that the numbers on the slip of paper are dates, dates from an era that none of them recognize. After inputting the first date in the device, the stars realign themselves and three of the stars, Gibbeth the green star along with an unidentified red star and a blue star create a line of white light onto the portrait of the 13th headmaster. Tempest, already on the 4th number in the combination by this point, confirms that that corresponds with the combination she’s discerned on her own.
A race begins to see if the planets will tell the combination before tempest can crack the safe on her own. Right as the light shines on the final portrait, Tempest has cracked the safe, and luckily so as the final portrait was missing from the wall. Inside the party finds some more residuum and gold bills and coins with Karavakos’ face on them.
About this time Vorastrix returns find his way back to the party. Astarian had dropped him off and then went onto some errand on his own. He also informs the party that Lucif had not regained consciousness. It’s learned that the party in the library had been gone for a week, but to them it had only seemed like a few hours.
Moving on, the party returns to the library halls. Asking one of the mouthless librarians about the colossus, the party is directed to one particular soul book. The pages, like the other books, are devoid of anything but a few letters. However a section near the back tells the tale of a man who had witnessed the fall of the colossus.
The book is told through the eyes of a man named Gunter “Oak” Crowley. He tells of a group of 5 adventures who had come into the pyramid to free the wrongfully imprisoned. The adventures had persuaded Oak’s leader to allow them to use a one of their holy sites, a giant structure known as the hanging gardens, as a trap for the colossus.
From a friend, Oak learns that there are 6 sigils, invisible except when exposed to certain magics, that are the weak points of the colossus. When all six are struct, the colossus will lie dormant and a 7th will form that will kill it for good. The book goes on to describe the battle, that ensues, that the adventurers had help from The White, and that in the end, two of the knights, sacrificed themselves to destroy the colossus.
They learned that the adventurers had forged a sword specifically to show where the sigils were and to strike the final blow to the giant. It had belonged to one of the twin knights who had sacrificed themselves, and currently lied beneath the hanging gardens.
The party makes for the gardens. A map tells them that it is a giant horse shoed shaped structure far on the east side of the city. The party makes their way there, encountering the colossus along the way. They hide and let it go by, watching as it chased after a group of devil legionnaires. It’s noted that the colossus seams to be moving slowly, almost like it was herding the devils towards the pyramid.
The party arrives at the hanging gardens, or what is left of them. Only a tiny section of the structure still stands. The party searches for an entrance to the underground but cannot find one. They make for the standing remains, hacking their way through the thick vines that had grown their, searching each floor. At the top they look down upon the remains. From here they can see that in the middle of a hedge maze is a massive reflecting pool that has the shape of a sword.
The party descends and finds the entrance underground near the head of the reflecting pool. Below they find a series of tunnels with large roots growing throughout them. A face in one of the roots speaks to the party, telling how they will have to face a series of five trials to ensure that they are ready to face the colossus, before they are ready to actually obtain the sword.
Two obnoxious and tedious challenges later, the party makes for the third but finds a pile of rubble where the door should be, a hole in the side of the room opening up into a cavern. The party finds tunnels created by kruthik, cat sized buglike burrowing creatures. Hopping over an open aquifer, the party moves on and finds themselves in a larger room, what appears to be a large kruthik hive on the other side.
Rumblings can be felt and pair of xorns appear, burrowing into the room. The party warns Tempest and Tavar of them, quickly describing their last encounter. These xorns however appear to be a bit nicer than the others. They explain how they are keepers of the kruthik, but the kruthik are mindless and will attack if the party does not leave. Another rumbling can be felt, the xorns warning that the party should leave before “it” arrives.
A shadow hulk, a more powerful version of an umber hulk, makes it’s way into the room. The party begins to fight it off as the xorns hold the kruthik in check, but eventually the kruthik numbers swell beyond the xorns control. The bugs swarm the room, attacking both the party and the shadow hulk, more of a hazard than any real threat. The shadow hulk is proving to be a powerful and annoying adversary, his gaze causing the party to become dizzy and attack their own allies.
Eventually the party feels the best option is to leave. They are able to escape by way of jumping into the open aquifer, allowing the current to carry them away from danger. The aquifer shoots them out into a small underground lake. The party swims to shore and rests.
Moving further into the caverns, the party finds a collection of skeletons hanging from vertical stone slabs over the water. They are able to tell that the water was much higher here at one point, and that the bodies were eaten away by small crablike creatures that even now inhabited the water. Most of the bodies are various common humanoids, but a mind flayer corpse is also found, prompting the party to move hurry along, not wanting to deal with anything that captures and tortures mind flayers.
The party finds where the aquifer begins again, this time however they are able to walk. After some travel they hear the humming of a machine up ahead and rushing water. They find a room with a large machine is churning the water about, other tunnels like the one the party is in, pour water into the room. The party has to jump into the large pool to reach the walkways on either side of the room. When they do, unseen entities attack.
A rather smooth battle ensues with a number of water archons during which many feats of badassery are made. You had to be there, sorry.
Buzart finds a section of the wall is a slightly different color than the rest of the room. A series of mighty blows from his hammer open a pathway back into what looks like the trial chambers. The familiar face in the roots speaks to the party, congratulating them on completing the trials. The party can tell they had skipped the actual trials, but weren’t about to tell. The roots open a door leading down a dark set of stairs into a room where the sword was being held.
The party finds a trap on the stairs and hears and loud clatter and movement in the room. Daelock sends his spider to scout, which is promptly squished by the flat side of a giant blade upon reaching the bottom of the stairs.
A plan if formed and the party enters battle. Using darkness created by Daelock, which the party could see through but not their adversaries, they are able to easily fight the trio of large war devils, the bone devil, and their chaos crystal.
And then the shadow hulk joins the fight. More good times ensue.
A sleep spell renders the shadow hulk after the devils are vanquished. The party decides to let the beast live. They then learn that the loud clatter they had heard before the fight was the twin knights’ sword being destroyed. The spirits of the twin knights appear, explaining how that they had bound their souls to the sword in order for it to be powerful enough to defeat the colossus. Promising to set them free the knights when all was over, the party takes the sword fragments and leaves through a tunnel found by the devils leading right to the sword’s resting place. Convenient.
The party decides its time to deal with Old Man Vakos. They return to the building than contained Vakos’ cottage, and can instantly tell that something is amiss. The grass on the little hill has died, the light pouring through the roof onto the cottage has returned to the oppressing red of the outside, and the cottage as a whole seems to have aged and fallen into disrepair.
Tempest offers to do the dead and kill the old man, not having had any prior meeting with him, she can push it aside as just something she has to do. Vorastrix will have none of that, and goes in to meet Vakos. The old man is sitting in his armchair next to the fireplace, the fire having died out long ago. The tiefling talks with a strained voice, asking where “it” is. They party circles around the chair and finds that Vakos has rapidly aged, his sorrow over losing his locket leaving him in some kind of corpse state.
Vakos’ eyes having rotted out, cannot see the party around him. Daelock attempts to give the head of Vyrellis to Vakos, much to the silent disapproval of Vyrellis. Vakos drops the orb, not knowing what it is, and feebly asks for his locket back. The locket is returned and Vakos cradles it in his hands, opening it and feeling around inside, finally content.
Vorastrix explains to Vakos what they have to do, and how he hopes when Vakos rejoins Karavakos as a whole, he will return the good in the man’s soul to him. Vakos seams to understand and says to give the locket to his whole self as a reminder. The deed done, the shadows claw themselves from Vakos’ corpse and make way to the pyramid. The party returns to the Tiki Man’s cavern to rest and prepare.