In Which a Much Needed Rest is Rudely Interrupted, and Riddle Makes a Terrible Mess of a Wasp’s Nest
Waterday, 12 Reaping, CY 601
With the party severely hurt and depleted there is little option but to barricade themselves into Kagro Thundersmiter’s elevated room for a long rest. They aren’t more than a couple of hours into Long Claw’s first watch when he is surprised by the entire wooden trap door collapsing beneath him in a roar of flame. He finds himself sitting on the floor below, facing off against five fire giant grunts with their bows trained and drawn upon him, a twelve-headed pyrohydra, and what can only be Bram Cleftshank, denizen of the Citadel whom the party learned of via speak with dead: a “mighty warrior, dragon slayer, and dwarf crusher.”
Long Claw absorbs every arrow attack while the rest of the party stirs from rest. He pauses quickly to lay hands on himself before attacking the pyrohydra full force and ducking out from under the trap door. The pyrohydra retaliates upon him with equal ferocity until Riddle, jolted from sleep, summons a wall of ectoplasm between Long Claw and the beast, giving the golden griffon the chance to fly up with the others out of the way and to heal himself again. Meanwhile, the presence of the ectoplasm shakes the pyrohydra, who tears and tears at the wall until it disappears. Acting quickly despite just being woken, Jane releases her prepared sirocco spell in exchange for the darker umbral strike and unleashes it on the pyrohydra for a devastating amount of damage. All twelves heads the pyrohydra are blinded by the spell, leaving it vulnerable to a volley of arrows from Archie, a brutal enervation from Scar-Eater, and finally, a cold ice strike from Riddle that destroys it.
Long Claw, fresh off another use of lay on hands, attempts to fly down and attack Bram Cleftshank, but the giant is ready for him and delivers harsh blows. Long Claw manages to get a swing in, but Cleftshank barely seems to register the blow. Tyrrell vanishes and slips to the floor to try to take some of the archers out of commission, but they manage to drop Long Claw anyway. Jane casts an extended spider climb on Scar-Eater so he can turn invisible and move directly over Cleftshank’s head for a big hit with his imbued flail, but Cleftshank seems to shrug off most of the damage.
Riddle uses breath of life on Long Claw from a distance as Cleftshank summons the spear he threw at Long Claw into his hand, triggering a readied response from Archie, who just manages to disarm him again. Cleftshank draws both his battleaxe and a handaxe, both of which burst into flame, and he takes Long Claw down again in one hit. The fire giant archers, now harried by Tyrrell, find themselves with limited options, but they do manage to put an arrow each into Tyrrell and Archie. Tyrrell bloodies one of them in response as Jane heals Long Claw back to full strength. Archie takes out one of the archers and then turns his attention to Cleftshank, just as an invisible Scar-Eater executes a catastrophic series of blows on the big guy, all with touch of idiocy channeled into his flail. Riddle senses an opportunity and urges the others to seize it, calling out in Vaati (Abyssal), the only language he is capable of speaking during battle, “If anyone speaks Giant, tell the others to stand down!”
Though Long Claw and Tyrrell continue to attack the brutalized Cleftshank, and no one in the party speaks Giant, Archie drops to the ground, makes eye contact with one of the fire giants, and slowly lowers his bow. The fire giants seem to understand and accept this gesture of truce. And now that the combat has ended, Riddle has his full facilities back. He addresses the giant, letting them know that their leader would heal in time, and they express perfectly willingness to tell him whatever he wants to know before he even has to threaten them.
They reveal that they are not usually allowed in the vault, and that a frost giant named Vercinabex is down there. They urge Riddle to seek his counsel (rather than theirs). The party forms and executes a plan to send Cleftshank to the cavern floor as they did Thundersmiter, with one of these fire giants along to protect him. The party returns to their rest.
Starday, 13 Reaping, CY 601
Following the fire giants’ instructions, and after boosting themselves as needed, the party moves through the dining hall and down a long set of curving stairs, deep into the heart of the Citadel. They come to a a landing with a giant-sized door ahead, another set of stairs going down, and a large room to the left with an open door. In the room to the left wafts the scent of incense, and Scar-Eater and Long Claw catch glimpses of silken accoutrement within.
And then suddenly a 20-foot-long snake covered in spines and with six arms appears out of nowhere.
This creature, a demon called a marilith, summons a blade barrier where Long Claw is standing at the bottom of the stairs. Archie moves into position to put an arrow in her, but it seems to shrug off most of the damage. Long Claw summons his aura of justice and charges her for a brutal attack, eliciting a horrific scream from her. Then the great griffon does something that appears very strange to his companions: he folds his wings down, turns his back on the marilith, and tries to touch the blade barrier on purpose, just as Jane succeeds in dispelling it. Scar-Eater charges her invisibly with a scorching ray and deals what seems like an exorbitant amount of damage. She screams in agony, but remains in the fight. Tyrrell vanishes and moves to the far corner, looking around keenly. Riddle, thinking Long Claw has somehow been bewitched, attempts to dispel his ally, but only manages to rid Long Claw of his own haste.
Watching Archie pelt the marilith with seven powerful attacks that should take the marilith down but don’t, Jane casts glimpse of truth and understands what is really happening: the marilith is an illusion, but there is a tiny little wasp in the next room that is the true marilith. Jane points down the hall and calls to the others, “IT’S THE WASP!”
Scar-Eater attempts to dimension hop the illusory marilith into her own blade barrier but it doesn’t work. Tyrrell searches for this wasp Jane is talking about, but failing to spot it, he tumbles adjacent to the false marilith and prepares to defend himself against her six-armed attacks. Riddle steps up and attempts to use control winds to blow everything in the far room towards the blade barrier, but the wasp resists the spell. The illusory marilith waves her arms and, using telekinesis, blast Scar-Eater back into the blade barrier. Long Claw looks quizzically to Jane, then down the hall, then back at Jane, who furiously nods back at him that that is indeed where the true threat lies. Archie waits to see what Riddle will do before wasting any more arrows, and Jane takes the opportunity to sharpen his sense with a spell.
Riddle releases the winds and teleports the entire party into the wasp room. He then casts spiritual weapon, which affords Archie the opportunity to see the wasp as it tries to avoid Riddle’s spell. He fires arrow after arrow into the wasp until it disappears, right along with the illusion.
And that, as they say, is that.