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Nov 30 2012

Chronicles of Netheril, November 24th, 2012

Editor’s Note: I thought it should be mentioned that our DM put together a very complex and interesting map for this part of the adventure. And as you’ll see, the story that went along with it was also very much fun and involving.

Endless Cavern’s – Aumvar’s Lair

When we woke up the next day, at least we thought it was the next day; we wanted to get going as soon as possible, so we decided to eat our morning meal while exploring the outskirts of Aumvar’s realm.

Since we were travelling through an area that was very near to Araumycos, it didn’t take us long to run into myconid swarms. Although large in both size and numbers we easily destroyed them because they were mostly mindless. Dirty Pig collected a bunch of the severed mushroom heads. He would use them to in a stuffed mushroom recipe because, as he said, “the myconids were just an appetizer for things to come”.

We eventually reached a set of cave that was different from the rest. The walls were composed of limestone and had naturally occurring veins of lead. Strange markings had been painted on them in gorgon’s blood. We had found Aumvar’s lair. The blood markings, while morbid and disturbing, were not of a decorative nature; they served a very specific purpose. While teleportation from one part of the marked-off area to another would not be hindered, the blood markings combined with the unusual geology of the caves would prevent any teleportation into or out of Aumvar’s lair.

We didn’t have to venture far into the lair for Aumvar to come and “welcome” us. Note the air quotes around the word welcome. He said that he new our reason for coming and that he would only give us the Key of Dark if we could defeat him. At which point, he attacked us.

We weren’t in a good position to fight. We were stuck in a very tight corridor, and the only way out was by jumping over a lava pool. It also didn’t help that Aumvar seemed quite resistant to anything we threw at him. Powerful cleaving blows were reduced to insignificant flesh wounds, and weaker attacks had no effect whatsoever. {Aumvar has resist 15 all.} But luckily, at this juncture we didn’t have to actually kill him. After we had wounded him a little, he teleported away into hiding.

With this reprieve we were now able to explore the lair; hopefully to find something that would help us defeat Aumvar.

We found ourselves in a hub that appeared to be at the centre of the lair. We had arrived from the North. To the East, a large two panel door was sealed by unknown means. To the West a short passage led to a small alcove containing a deactivated portal and some very very old dragon bones. Higher up on the walls of the passage, the presence of a pair of balconies seemed to indicate that the complex continued further on to the North and South; only at higher elevation.

The portal in the alcove was so heavily scrambled, that analysing it would take over an hour. We couldn’t waste that much time simply standing still; and even if we could, there was no guarantee that the portal could be reactivated, or that it would take us somewhere useful. Exploring the areas beyond the balconies would be more productive.

Aumvar’s Lair – The Library

We returned to the passage and climbed the South wall up its balcony. We found ourselves in a plaza with large doors to the South and West. Since the South doors were slightly ajar, we went in that direction first.

On the ground just outside the door, a circle of strange runes glowed with an eerie blue light. Voulge was able to determine that the circle was harmless, but that it was most likely connected to other runes beyond the door. It didn’t take long for him to be proven correct. When we opened the doors we discovered that in the corridor beyond each floor tile also had a glowing rune. Voulge determined that unlike the ones in the plaza, these runes were in fact quite dangerous. The energy in the runes would be released directly into anyone who stepped on a tile; resulting in bodily harm.

The solution to our problem was to be found in the ritual book we had obtained from Yder Tanthul. One of the rituals it contained could create an arcane bridge out of solidified shadows. The bridge we created allowed us to enter the room unmolested.

The room was a research library and was guarded by three undead servitors. After eliminating the guards we searched the library. It could take weeks, months even, to search the whole library; but luckily everything we needed was conveniently laid out on one of the research tables.

The table was covered with research notes, and in one small corner, three unique crystals had been melded into the table. Most of the notes were in ancient Netherese, and while they would be of interest to Curuvar, none of us could read them. A small subset of the notes had been written by someone else, and in modern Netherese. According to these notes, there were special rituals that could be performed in other parts of the lair that would weaken Aumvar. Additionally, the notes said that one of the crystals were magical switches. One would open the doors to the east of the southern plaza, and the other two would deactivate two runic circles in the library that powered the trap runes near the door.

We used all three crystals and left the library to go explore the area behind the western door.

Aumvar’s Lair – The South Lab

Behind the door was yet another short corridor. But instead of runes, this one had mirrors set into the floor. Eramus looked in one of the mirrors, and was severely traumatized. The mirrors would show any onlookers images of their bodies putrefying and decaying.

Ash who was resistant to such mental manipulations thanks to the powers of the Soulsword and Shadowbane {immune to fear effects} quietly ventured down the corridor to determine if there was anyone in the room beyond. Finding the room empty he returned to help his team-mates find a way to cross the mirrors. Smashing them didn’t work; they were as hard as granite. But we eventually discovered that flashes of bright light could overload them temporarily. With this discovery we were all able to proceed into the room.

According to the notes, this room was the South Lab. If we could correctly perform the indicated ritual, Aumvar would be weakened against extremes of temperature. {Vulnerable 15 cold & 15 fire} But before we could perform the ritual, we had to activate a glyph that was painted on the floor.

There were three coffins in the lab. In all they contained a dormant zombie, a mummified elven corpse, and the bones of a dwarf. At the back of the lab were three large vats. One was filled with blood, the other, liquid fire, and the last, water.

The notes said that to activate the glyph, the remains in the coffins had to be placed in the vat containing the substance whose elemental nature was opposite to that of the remains.

A more detailed examination of the remains showed us how to proceed. The elven mummy had gills. This meant it was a sea elf and consequently its nature was water. We therefore placed it in the vat of fire. When Dirty Pig looked at the dwarven skeleton more closely, he found subtle indications that it was in fact the skeleton of an Azer. Azers being of a fiery nature, we dumped the bones in the vat of water. This meant that the dormant zombie was to be dumped into the vat of blood. Most likely because blood means life and zombies are dead.

Once all three corpses had been dumped in the vats, the faded glyph on the floor began to glow with a sickly purple light. It was now time to perform the ritual in the notes. We wouldn’t know if we had succeeded until we faced Aumvar again…

Which we did once we exited the lab. Since cold and fire based spells and attacks seemed to hurt him more we assumed that the ritual had succeeded. After a couple of minutes of fighting, Aumvar again retreated.

Aumvar’s Lair – The North Lab / Apprentice Quarters

Once Aumvar had left we noticed some light coming from the northern balcony. The light had not been there before so we hurriedly crossed over to find its source. The northern balcony was just that, a balcony leading to a door that was now ajar.

Inside, in middle of a large room, was a man who identified himself as Mauthereign, Aumvar’s apprentice. He was surrounded by four zombie servitors. Despite the impressive runic circle he was using to enhance his powers, we make short work of him.

The adjoining room, a torture chamber, was a gruesome sight. The mutilated bodies of many a dead victim littered the floor. In the centre of the room a sacrificial altar was stained with blood, some still fresh. And in the two far corners, were pillars of purple lightning.

One of the victims was in fact still alive; he had been pretending to be dead in the hopes of avoiding further torture. When he realized that we weren’t Mauthereign and his undead servants he rose to his feet. He begged us not to hurt him, so we told him we had killed Mauthereign and the he was free to leave once he had helped us. We had used up all the parts of the notes that were in modern Netherese. But due to his accent we were able to figure out that the prisoner was also Netherese; so we asked him to look through the parts of the notes that were in Ancient Netherese.

Although he could only translate a small part of them, it was the mother lode. Apparently the altar was the source of Aumvar’s incredible resilience. If we could discharge to two energy pillars that powered it, Aumvar would loose his protection. {His resist 15 all would go away.}

But the only way to discharge the pillars was through a rapid and violent discharge of arcane energy. The only sure way would be to sacrifice one of our enchanted items into each of the pillars. {Paragon level at a minimum.} Voulge reluctantly sacrificed a pair of gloves that enhanced his healing abilities, and Eramus gave up his jagged khopesh.

Aumvar’s Lair – Inner Sanctum

As the pillars fizzled out the altar seemed to dim a little, and we heard Aumvar’s voice summon us to his inner sanctum.

We made our way back to the hub and as we approached the sealed doors to the East, they opened for us. Again, the floor tiles in the short corridor behind the door were marked with runes. We didn’t have the time to conjure up another shadow bridge, so we simply rushed in head first.

Inside the inner sanctum, Aumvar was standing next to a massive banquet table covered with the biggest feast we had ever seen.

To prevent Aumvar from getting the chance to attack us with any of his debilitating powers, we all attacked as quickly and powerfully as we could. He fell to the ground under the power of our assault, but we did not let up on our attacks until we had killed him. When the last blow landed, he disappeared again, before reappearing in his true form.

The shadowy cloaked figure we had been fighting up until now was nothing more than a simulacrum. His true form was grotesquely obese. Apparently, the feast was all for him. He had been gorging himself since he had gone into hiding, and because he was undead the food was not being digested. It was slowly rotting away, but since he was filling himself up faster than the decomposition, he was constantly increasing in size.

First he congratulated us on defeating his simulacrum and then as a reward he gave us the Key of Dark. In addition, he also gave us a scroll with a scrying ritual and a crystal ball to act as a focus for the ritual. Finally, rather than have us make our way back to the surface through the Endless Caverns, he suggested we use the now reactivated portal in the western part of his lair.

It would send us to his old keep in the Lonely Moor. His great grand-niece Morasha would be expecting us. He also said that he’d performed a Sending ritual to let our ship know where to go to pick us up.

After that, he asked us to leave.