AFO5.01: Thrice Three heads

The Fated Four for this session

Aelia, celestial pact of the tome warlock;
Angron, orc bear totem barbarian;
Zephrus, human cleric/fate;

ably supported by NPC this session, Tyche

The brains of the expedition

Fuzzy the divine, draco-ferret;
Hydrak the wise, donkey;
Screechy the owl <doesn’t count, just a dumb weapon according to Fuzzy>;
and introducing Floofles McGee Jnr, ram

The story so far

Princess Alexandra has been taken by Psysseria’s agents! Can the heroes learn of her whereabouts? Can they restore hope to her city, Illos?

Receiving wisdom first from Atalande the ancient centaur – and slaying the orcs serving mighty Chthon the Hydra in Memnoss’ ruins – then the sphinx known as Exile, the Fated Four have returned to Ithea, there to prepare for a journey into the Gargaran foothills. For it is there that the Fates, mysterious oracles, dwell.

An escort to Memnoss

Taking counsel from high priestess of Thessa, Agnes, the heroes accept the offer of an escort of hoplites. The four sturdy warriors will help them manage the sacrificial ram, keep pests off them en route, and serve as treasure-bearers once they loot the hydra, Chthon. For it is this little favor they must accomplish, first.

“It is an honor to serve as your escorts,” Hesparches assures them, “your deeds and service to my brethren merit much more.”

Clearing the ruins

Tyche reports back. “There are four orcs, but good news, they are quite split up at present, two at the big central statue and two way back.”

“Leave this to us,” Hesparches asks of the Four, “we will deal with these predators, and you will be fresh for the battle against Chthon.”

Not too long a time later, the three surviving hoplites lean on their spears, exhausted, and mourn the loss of Hesparches. All was going well until the fourth orc proved to be a step tougher than the others. However! The orcs are dead and although she has no doubt become aware of intruders, Chthon is still in the high temple.

The temple can be climbed but is most easily accessed by the main steps, west. Tyche slips in from the east.

Angron has a clever idea. Tyche sneaks in to scout for approaches, leaving one Lovers Blade with Angron. The three waiting can see a view that Tyche exposes using the matching blade’s flat. Then they ready for the advance.

Though forewarned that the hydra can breathe fire, and taking care to keep to cover, Zephrus and Angron are still singed when a huge cone bathes the entire lower area. Angron rages and hurls himself vaulting up to swing his axe at the three heads. Tyche, hidden behind a fallen pillar at the rear, slams a heavy arrow into a head. Aelia takes care to stay out of fire range: she raises her hand, gold light haloes her head and twin Eldritch Blasts arc across! Zephrus summons Screechy and with Sanctuary on himself, advances, healing himself.

Two heads drop lifeless as the heroes (and Screechy) inflict enormous amounts of damage! The hydra shakes its scales and poison sprays around it: Angron dodges. Then returns to the fray, and the last head drops!

Loot (and gold coin worth)

Tridents, Bolts and Masks (115)
Bone carving of dryad (10)
Worn bronze hand mirror (5)
Gold-bound ivory sword handle (10)
Copper coil arm-band, Bracers of Defense effect – to Aelia

A night of mourning, singing songs of praise, and a funeral pyre for Hesparches elapses before the heroes are ready to clear the ruins of any further pests, and loot.

The north-east of the precinct is a tomb with dwarven characteristics. (Memnoss being of dwarven origin of course.) Tyche scouts and locates a giant black desert scorpion!

Angron does get grappled and stung and slightly poisoned, but the battle is merely a speed-bump for these level 5s. Then they inspect the tomb more closely.

“This wall is fake… looks like a job for muscles” – Aelia

“Heh heh” – Angron (easily flattered)

The huge orc peers into the gap. A sarcophagus, bull-headed theme, chests, clay flasks… seems familiar somehow. Most prominent is a bull-headed, stooping effigy. Encouraged, nay, egged on by Tyche’s coin-flip and Zephrus’ curiosity, Angron meddles with the sarcophagus. The effigy pulls itself together out of clay bones and attacks with monstrous bronze axe!

During the battle, one-sided again, Zephrus discovers that the thing is a construct, not undead. They knock it apart with little help from Tyche, her arrows being near-useless.

Then they loot the sarcophagus chests and flasks.

Loot (and gold coin worth)

900 ancient dwarven gold coins (900)
gold ox figurine (100)
gold coil earring (5 – goes to Aelia)
gold signet ring (25)
gold mask (550)
massive gold seal-ring (250)
full set orichalcum dwarven plate (??)

The three surviving hoplites swear to bear all the treasure safe back to Ithea to await the heroes. Then they hand over the ram, and depart.

“I’m thinking of a name for this ram…” – Aelia

“Mutton?” – Angron

At the foot of Mt Cyrinthus, a word from your sponsor

“Did you hear that, Fuzzy?” Zephrus asks, gazing at his familiar. Who points to the heavens and nods significantly, as if to say, yes, that’s the boss.

“I need to cast the auguries again. I received a vision.”

The other three gather about to hear what has disturbed Zephrus.

“The fates we are going to see are not THE fates… we may be throwing ourselves heedlessly into danger. On the one hand the sphinx wants us to steal The Eye (whatever that is) and on the other hand we are supposed to sacrifice a ram…”

“Floofles McGee Junior” – Aelia

“…Floofles right, and ask for the Fates’ help. I’m not sure how to ask for this…”

The augury does not help.

“Well if we don’t need to sacrifice Floofles McGee Jnr we don’t” – Aelia

A sop? Hah, try our bronze blades!

They clamber up, up into the cold hill country that marks the border with Gargaros. Blasted trees, then mere petrified stumps, mark the hills. They are all glad of their excellent cold-weather clothing, readied for this leg.

At last a cleft the sphinx described, and a cavern beyond. Once again Tyche is elected scout and soon signals back to Angron, monster ahead. The cavern is lit to some extent by Zephrus’ shield, which has Light cast on it at this stage.

Angron advances – cautiously, for there are crevasses – and a massive hound with three heads scents him and awakens.

Before they can debate what to do or even think of whether they ought to have some sort of bribe, the hound attacks! It’s a brief battle but, as Angron actually falls at one point, really gets the blood pumping!

“We probably could’ve given it a treat and it would’ve let us pass” – Aelia

“Fuzzy’s noble steed is not to be sacrificed!” – Zephrus

Angron dusts himself off, none the worse. Had there been other hounds to take advantage of the trip attack, things may have gone differently.

The ferry to fates

Stairs cut into the living rock lead down through steams and mists to a black underground river. A mystic ferry glides towards them, guided by the shade of a dead hero. He gestures, Angron nods respectfully and boards. They say farewell to Hydrak for now, and all board likewise. Floofles McGee Jnr is reluctant but Aelia (with a DC20+ Animal Handling check) charms it aboard.

The sulfurous smoke parts as the silent ferryman guides the boat to a narrow stone walkway, the black water lapping at its sides. His head turns, as he raises a hand and points towards the shore.

“My thanks” growls Angron and steps up, steadying the craft. The others follow. Pillars are nearby and Tyche and Zephrus slip behind them, the latter to quickly cast Detect Thoughts.

As the other pair advance with Floofles, they catch shapes of ruins, but ahead of them, stone steps lead up to a stone altar… and behind that, at the edge of their vision, some sort of raised plinth?

“What have they brought us, sisters?“ croaks an ancient voice.
“Once they brought us white rams!” cries another.
“It is long since we have tasted meat.” cackles a third.

Reluctantly Aelia leads Floofles towards the altar. In response three weird crone-like figures caper down from the raised area. One, who can assuredly see them despite wearing a blank-eyed lead mask, guides her sisters, who seem to be blind, directing them by voice to take the steps up to the altar.

“Say, do you know where Princess Alexandra is?” – Zephrus

“He asks us?”

“Without making a sacrifice?”

“Hehehee, let us… sacrifice him!”

And the session ends.

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