On Monday July 7th, Year 4, a couple of the Citadel House adventurers return to the dwarven prison where the gnome who impersonated Dorcas is now being held. Their intention is to learn how to get prisoners out in order to allow the gnomes to interrogate the prisoner on their next visit. They are:
- Agon (HuS): Level 3 Elf Magic-user (Fear, Stealth, and Travel)
- Rowan (MiM): Level 2 Elf Magic-user (Life and Death)
The prison is a couple of hours outside of Iron Fields, a new settlement an easy day walk from Citadel, about 8 miles up the East Confluence River from Confluence by a new road. Agon, having been one of those who discovered the prison, believes they should bring a native dwarven speaker to help with their reading needs.
Matthias recommends a few possibilities and they recruit Barnabas, the dwarven head mason working on the temple, to go with them for translation and structural help. They arrive in Iron Fields around 6 and know they can reach the prison by sunset, but decide the stay the night in a safe place. (The weather is hot and muggy with light rain from 6-7; Rowan is still tired, having only returned from the siege a couple days before, during which time he was badly injured; Barnabas is not accustomed to long hours marching.) They pass the night in the big canvas tent Jacob Pharoe’s teams are using until he picks a place to settle in.
In the morning, they follow the path worn by Jacob Pharoe’s teams checking the prison daily, arriving around 10. They spend an hour or so checking and noting the contents of each mirror/cell and review all text they can find, noting the number above each mirror.
With the outer prison mapped, they determine the safest way to enter the inner prison is through an empty cell (mirror/cell 4). They touch the mirror and pass through, Agon and Barnabas falling unconscious from the strain. While Rowan waits for them to awaken, the ooze opens the cell door, is startled by their presence, and departs.
Once they are all awake, Barnabas inspects the wall but is unable to find evidence of the door. With not mechanical solution, Agon opens a portal into the hall outside the cell. In the light of his lantern, Barnabas is able to examine the door and find some dwarvish numerals on a number of physical buttons. Agon asks him to put up a stone wall and tries a few codes on the door. Without any indication of how many digits are needed or which ones are more worn, he is only feeling out the function. Rowan’s magic sense indicates that the whole set of blocks has some detection and light magic on them.
They determine that since the buttons push in physically, and the ooze opens them multiple times a day, the evenness of the wear is indicative that the codes are 10 digit with 10 unique numerals. While they continue to try codes, a hole appears in Barnabas’ stone wall as the ooze burns through it. As more holes appear, Agon casts another portal and they escape into the cell.
The ooze opens their cell and looks in, but leaves when it sees them there. They decide to try to see what code the ooze uses to open their door and Agon designs a spell to put on a bone that, when jostled, will empower the closest person with the ability to see through walls. He includes the gate syllable, soa, so it will be able to empower someone through the wall. An hour or so before the expected dinner rounds of the ooze, Agon casts the spell (it has a three hour lifetime if not triggered) and put the bone out in the hall.
Rowan waits attentively to be empowered with the magic, but it takes him by surprise. When he looks up at the code block, he sees three of the buttons are already depressed (2, 4, and 8) and watches 6 0 5 9 3 7 1 depress before the door opens. The ooze enters the space if the door and deposits bread and water for each of them before leaving. Rowan continues to watch, seeing it open cell 8 across the way with some uncertainty on the order of certain pairs of button presses.
They wait a while to make sure the ooze had moved out of their hall and Agon creates another portal out to the hall. Their first guess at the code to door 4 (4826059371) opens it briefly and they all commit the code to memory. Agon starts to try codes on 8 based on the rough order Rowan observed. His first few codes fail and the ooze soon arrives, moving quickly toward them. When Rowan alerts them to it, Barnabas opens the door to 4 and they all rush in before the ooze can arrive. The ooze opens the door again, enters, and then departs.
Agon doesn’t have the magic to go out again, so they wait a couple hours until Agon can recover the power for another portal. He then portals out, finding himself right next to the ooze! He quickly opens the door and returns to the cell. The ooze checks in on them and Agon waits 30-40 seconds before passing through the portal (it lasts 1 minute). He sees again that the ooze is nearby and again opens the door to escape.
The ooze opens the door but this time moves into the cell, occupying about a fourth of its area while the door closes behind it! The gelatinous cube wins initiative and rushes the gathered party. Rowan and Agon manage to get out of its way, but Barnabas is swallowed up into it. Agon reaches in to pull him out, taking over half his health in the process. Barnabas is alive, but badly burnt and panicking. Meanwhile, Rowan hits it with a swift death burst.
The battle proceeds with the party desperately dodging the cube’s movements and attacks. Barnabas flees, throwing bones and rocks; Agon, out of spell points, draws his sword and hacks at it; Rowan continues to hit it with death spells. While the cube turns darker with each spell, Rowan eventually fails a dodge and is engulfed. Desperate, Agon hits it with a spell using the last of his spell points, but it’s not enough!
But Rowan manages to struggle free and they defeat the cube soon thereafter. Rowan doesn’t have the magic to heal them (they were all one blow from death), but with the cube gone there is nothing to fear.
Exhausted from the battle and with the hour growing late, they settle in to sleep. In the morning, they set out to deal with the consequences of having killed the prison warden. They soon find the combination to open cell 8 and then explore, noting the locations of all of the cells. At the statue of a blindfolded elf holding scales, they find food for the prisoners’ breakfast. Agon teleports this food to them.
With a plan if how to run the prison, Agon gets the others out. They use a light spell in the shadow cell to reveal a devilish creature there. Agreeing that Agon will be the prison warden until another solution can be found, Rowan and Barnabas return to Iron Fields slowed by a howling gale. They arrive by evening and spend the night. In the morning, the 9th, they travel to Citadel under light rain, reporting that Agon has taken command of the prison.
Agon, meanwhile, relocates Cripis’ body to cell 8, feeds the inmates, and tests codes, using cell 4 as his office and residence. By the end if the 9th, he has opened room 2 and learned that wrong combinations illicit a glowing number indicating the cell in question near the statue. These runes vanish when touched.
I thought for sure someone was going to die when they kept provoking the cube. Each time they got its attention, it started spending more time in their corridor until there was a 95% chance it was in their corridor at the end, and a higher than acceptable risk it would be right in front of the door. Had Agon teleported into it, he would almost certainly have died, leaving the other two stranded in the room until someone mounted a rescue. Since no one else has teleportation magic, this would have been interesting. These are the types of enemies I put in and wonder if the players will be clever enough to avoid death. So far, mostly good.