A narrow passage in the cliffside of the the Devil’s Cradle foothills transitions from natural to worked stone before ending in an entry chamber where the party now find themselves. They were brought her by Basil’s research. While he himself expected to find untapped crystal knowledge, the others were also interested in expanding their knowledge here in some way. However, Rita had an ulterior motive. She felt a need to keep the other two out of trouble.
The floor is covered in bits of smashed pottery. Opposite the entrance running diagonally across the corner of the room is a balcony twenty five feet or so off the floor. Passages on opposite sides of it lead deeper into the ruins, the one on the left from the entrance’s perspective blocked by bars. This one interests Basil, who heads over to check it out while Pavo starts looking for traps and secret passages. However, their tasks are soon interrupted by arrows raining down from the balcony above.
Everyone looks up to see what’s firing on them. Basil and Pavo can’t quite make out the figures by the light of Basil’s wayfinder, but Rita can see clearly skeleton archers, who at least aren’t very effective. The arrows fly wide of their mark, and the party shifts quickly into an offensive posture.
With carved bloodstone figure of a bear in hand, Basil summons a wolf up on the balcony to deal with the skeletons while he assumes a defensive stance. Pavo tosses a couple of throwing daggers at the skeletons, but they bounce off ineffectively. Rita’s magic strikes true, missiles of magical force streaking from her hands and dropping one of the skeletons. Basil’s wolf makes short work of the remaining skeletons.
The bars forgotten for now, everyone is interested in the balcony and what the skeletons could have been guarding. With Basil’s help, they tie a rope to the railing balcony, which Pavo uses to ascend. At the top, Pavo lights a torch to help him see and notices a lever that he assumes triggers the gate below. However, his first order of business is to check the skeletons for loot. The skeletons were pretty poorly equipped, most of their gear being broken. Regardless, Basil is still interested in the bows since he had neglected to bring a ranged weapon with him to the ruins. While Pavo gets to work lowering the bows and ammunition down to Basil, Rita checks out the pottery shards on the floor of the room. She’s not quite sure, not being able to identify the language or meaning, but symbols on them have to have some meaning. Unfortunately, distracted while looting the skeletons, Pavo doesn’t notice the two figures sneaking up on him from the passage at the back of the balcony.
The balcony flashes with scintillating colors. One of the small figures successfully got close enough to Pavo to hit him with a disco-like blast of color from her small hands. Pavo isn’t phased by the spell, but he is disturbed by what he sees: vampire spawn! He wonders aloud just why would there be vampire spawn here. Knowing that he wouldn’t be able to handle them himself, Pavo retreats to the rope to escape back down. The other figure follows but stops at the edge to sever the rope with his dagger, dropping Pavo to fall to the floor with a thump. The two groups trade spells and ranged attacks, but the tide of battle shifts only when Rita scores a particularly nice hit with her scorching rays, forcing the vampire spawn to retreat. Pavo moves into position to boost Basil up in order to follow after them, but Basil decides to help Rita instead, who had been hurt by the enemy mage. Basil uses his wand to heal her wounds while Pavo looks over incredulously.
Everyone is concerned about the vampire spawn. For one, if there were vampire spawn, then that means there are probably vampires. It also means that the crystals they came to find might have been disturbed if other people know about the location too. Basil also sighs, complaining that this won’t just be a milk run smashing skeletons. As for dealing with the vampire spawn, the party decides the only reliable approach is to beat them senseless and drag them outside to burn in the sun.
After rejecting a plan to send Rita’s familiar past to bars to scout ahead, the party decides to send him down the other passage. Bob, which Rita insists is what her feline familiar wants to be called, skulks down the stairs, sees a scene of carnage in the next room, and bolts up the stairs: Big cat! There’s a big cat! Bob describes the scene as something like when you’re hunting in the garden, and your prey just blows right up.
Still worried about being flanked by the vampire spawn, Basil comes up with the perfect plan, which Pavo bungles it. All he had to do was convince the vampire spawn that they were heading down the stairs while the party waited to ambush them, but he put in an awful and unconvincing performance. After waiting for a bit and hearing nothing, the party descends down to the next room. To watch their flank, Rita convinces Bob to hang back and keep an eye out for vampire spawn. She promises Bob many fish in return.
The room at the end of the stairs is filled with many old weapon and armor racks. The walls are spattered with blood. An overturned table in the middle of the room is surrounded by the remains of chairs. It appears the contents of several adventurers’ packs has been scattered around the room. A feline humanoid lies slumped against the door, a glaive lying at her side. Shortly after the party enters, Basil moves over to the body to examine it. It appears to have been clawed to death by something and has been here for a little while. Basil rifles through her stuff, finds a couple of potions and notices her holy symbol—a multicolored songbird. How peculiar that a cleric of Shelyn would be here of all places! Basil drags the body away from the door to continue going through the rest of her stuff, but Pavo notices the door creak open a bit and swiftly moves to hold it shut. Putting his ear to the door, he hears muffled voices on the other side. Pavo signals quietly to the party that the vampire spawn are most likely on the other side. Basil grasps the raw quartz amulet hanging from his neck, creating a protective barrier, and gets ready to charge in on Pavo’s go.
Pavo pulls the door open and slides out of the way as Basil goes barreling past. From the right comes and blast of color, the same that almost but not quite got Pavo earlier. The other vampire spawn comes from the left, slamming into Basil and trying to drain Basil’s life with his unholy claws. Basil keeps the vampire spawn back with his greatsword, sees an opportunity to put presure on the mage and closes on her, trapping the mage between the two bunks where she had been hiding. Pavo follows Basil so that he can study the mage and tell Basil her weaknesses and the opportune time to strike. Given that she can’t do much against vampire spawn, Rita decides to shut the door until at least the mage is down. This draws a concerned look from Pavo, but Bob tells her telepathically that he totally understands.
The vampire spawn continue ganging up on Basil, but they are unable to penetrate his defenses—both physical and mental. The warrior spawn tries to intimidate Basil, but there’s just not something very intimidating about a halfling vampire spawn that can’t hit to save its unlife. After Basil cleaves the mage with his greatsword, Basil suggests the other one surrender. Hearing this turn of events, Rita opens the door again only to get slammed by the remaining spawn, which drains her of some of her life energy. Basil doesn’t let up on the final spawn, smashing it good with his greatsword, but it’s not enough to drop it like he did the caster. The spawn turns slightly misty and translucent and tries to escape. Pavo thinks he recognizes the effect, but he’s distracted by the mural on the far side of the room—a large piece depicting numerous light- and dark-skinned creatures feeding on the living with a particularly nasty looking one behind them holding two sickles. The remaining vampire spawn escapes through cracks in the wall on the mural.
Assuming they have a bit of breathing room, the party drags the mage’s body outside (while smashing it for good measure), and burns it in the sun. During this brief respite, Pavo prepares an extract to help him read the inscription on the mural and starts studying it. It would appear that the text is written in ancient Azlanti!
Session Questions Answered
- Did we learn something new and important about the world? Yes. Azlant had some kind of presence in Garund, which is very unexpected.
- Did we overcome a notable monster or enemy? Yes. They defeated one vampire spawn and drove the other away.
- Did we loot a memory treasure? Yes. The cleric of Shelyn was carrying a potion of bouncy body, which every found amusing and somehow appropriate for a catfolk.