2. With increased caution, the party approached the door and pondered how to open it. Yoshin cast a Mage Hand and tried to push it open, but the weight of water was too much for the rotting wood and a big piece simply tore off. This allowed Krizzen to peer through, discovering more silent, flooded corridor dimly lit by phosphorescent fungus. He smashed the rest of the door and led the way through.
3. A quick float around (Fly still being active) revealed the corridor to be a hollow square, with doors on all four outer faces. As Yoshin drifted down the eastern side, his acute elvish senses noted a dim outline in the stone that could only be some kind of hidden door. He kept this to himself for the moment.
4 East. Selecting the first door to the east, the party considered it - very similar to the last one - briefly and then smashed through it. Beyond was a square room, dotted with upended metal tables, some with the skeletal remains of humanoids strapped to them. Poking out from the ever-present water could be seen shattered glass vials and tubes, corroded metal tools rusted past repair, and more bones in large quantities.
Caitlin prodded around with a javelin, feeling similar detritus shift under the fluid, then managed to lift free a slimy, dripping piece of bone, the end of which had two parallel cuts, their sharpness indicating the owner had not survived them, but free from the splintering a combat wound would have delivered; much more like saw cuts. Shuddering, she dropped the bone back into the muck.
6. The door to this room was in far better condition, and secured with what Caitlin soon discovered to be a very high quality lock. After two attempts to pick it had failed, Krizzen grinned smugly and slammed his shoulder against the door. Despite an impressive bang, the door didn't move and Krizzen stepped back in surprise, just as Yoshin shot forward and kicked the door hard. It came off its' hinges and crashed into the water. Krizzen watched as it sank from sight. "I'm so ashamed..." he said in a small voice as the skinny elf grinned up at him.
Inside, the floor sloped upwards towards the far end, which was not flooded. A jumble of tables and fallen cabinets on the floor were mixed with an incredible variety of rusting scalpels, knives and flensing tools. In the far corner of the room stood a figure, human-sized and shaped, featureless like a manikin and covered in a patchwork of leathery skin.
Cautiously, Caitlin drifted into the room, eyeing the statue with distaste. She floated in front of it, noting the way the patches - around four, she thought - were of slightly different colours. One of them shifted position slightly, and she started, just as Monsarana barked "Evil!" from the doorway. The warning was too late. All four patches of skin flew off the figure in different directions, then whipped back towards Caitlin from all sides.
One caromed off her armour, soaring over her to swing around for another pass. The other three all slapped onto her body, squirming and slithering under her clothes and armour to snuggle closely and horridly against her skin. Writhing in horror and pain, she felt a tearing sensation where they touched, and realized the monsters were sloughing her own skin from her body!
From the doorway, Krizzen hurled the Blitzspear, and the lightning-stroke clipped the unsuccessful skin kite as it swung back for another attack. Ducking under both, Yoshin laid a hand on Caitlin's shoulder and cast a Mage Armour to protect her against another strike. Behind, Monsarana invoked Aderra's Blessing on the party, before shouting over the din, "They're undead!".
Desperately, Caitlin struggled to remove the creatures, which were undulating as they fed on her. He grip slipped from one, but on the next she got a good hold and tore it away, screaming at the pain. Her friends blanched at the sight of her - half the skin on her face was simply gone, leaving a mass of exposed, bloody red flesh. The detached kite slipped from her fingers and darted into the air, seeking another target, and revealing the crowning horror - the under surface that had been in contact with Caitlin was now the exact pale-rose shade of her own stolen skin!
With a roar, Krizzen swung Soothslayer in an arc through the air, bisecting the unsuccessful kite and reducing it to scraps of dried skin. The pieces rained into the dark water and vanished beneath the surface. Turning to look at Caitlin, he clenched a fist in frustration; any physical assault on the monsters bonded to Caitlin was going to hurt her as well, so he turned to the second airborne one. Yoshin released a flight of Magic Missiles, peppering the two attached kites. Caitlin felt the jolt of impact but no more pain.
As Krizzen turned, his eyes widened in shock - the loose kite was almost on top of him! Desperately, he dragged his axe up to block it, and felt the acidic surface tear at his skin as the thing went past in two pieces. Yoshin's magic missiles tore into the remaining two, and for a moment he thought he'd killed them as they peeled free from Caitlin's body. From the slow, sated way they flapped towards the door, though, he realized they had simply finshed feeding. With a scream of fury, Caitlin jabbed with her rapier, slashing wounds into each of them. Both made a dash for the exit, but Monsarana was waiting, and her warhammer splattered one across the wall. The last one ducked under the lintel and was gone.
The healing magic of Aderra eased Caitlin's wounds, but not the hideous scarring across her face and limbs. Monsarana was sure this would heal in time, but the young Tellaran had her hood up as the party retreated from the room and moved on down the corridor.
7. The next room's door was sagging open, and Krizzen glanced in to check what might lie beyond. The floor sloped upwards here too, and most of the room was above water level, though the cracked cobblestones were moist and thick with fungus. Several tables occupied the floor, overturned and broken. A thick glass crucible lay on the floor near the eastern (far) wall. It was cracked open, and a strange black growth had exploded out of the cavity, sending a webbing of rhizomes across the ceiling.
None of the party liked the looks of this at all, and saw no reason to risk a moderate response. Everyone else backed away up the corridor, and Yoshin prepared a Fireball, planning to flick it around the doorway and duck back out of the blast radius. Unfortunately, being in mid-air, he had no contact with the walls to guide him around the doorframe, and caught his shoulder on the jamb for a critical instant. His eyes widened in horror as the Fireball reached the end of the room.
Anxiously, the others returned as the blaze of light subsided, to find Yoshin scorched and smouldering slightly, but not badly hurt. The Fireball had filled the room, but only just.
The contents were nothing but hot, black ashes.
5. This room, also flooded, contained much larger bones, many sticking up out of the water. Sagging tables around the sides were littered with strange and ruined bone drills, saws, shattered crockery and steel wire. Under one of the workbenches was a cabinet that looked a bit less damaged than everything else, and had resisted the water.
Caitlin was still feeling cautious, so Yoshin and Krizzen floated cautiously over to examine the cabinet. It looked easy enough to shift, so Krizzen got a grip on it and lugged it out, placing it carefully on top of the bench, which creaked ominously.
At the same moment, a swirling noise attracted his attention, accompanied by a yelp of surprise from Caitlin. Several of the bigger bones had suddenly moved, gathering together to build up into a skeleton bigger even than Krizzen. Caitlin's guess of ogre was not too far removed; the thing was around the same size - but it had two hollow-eyed skulls riding atop its' shoulders.
Reaching to one of the workbenches, the skeletal Ettin ripped off a table leg complete with a large piece of metal angle-bracket, gaining an ad-hoc axe, which it whirled up to swing at Krizzen.
Slipping forwards, Caitlin slashed at it with the heavier of her two swords, chipping some bones, then remembered that blades have less effect against skeletons - no flesh to cut - so she backed off a bit and unwound her sling from her wrist.
Krizzen slashed with Soothslayer, and likewise found that the effect of the blade was less than it would have been on a live ettin. Yoshin leaned over and cast a Greater Mage Armour on him, yelling "Blunt!" in his ear to underscore the point. Wincing as the bony claws tore his skin, Krizzen dropped Soothslayer into the oily water with a loud splash and reached for his morning star.
DM Note: Greataxe critical hit on a sorcerer has got to be bad news... Lay on Hands was the only way to be sure!
As he did so, the bony monster changed its' target and delivered a devastating two-handed strike at Yoshin, catching the elvish sorcerer completely off guard. The blade cut deep into his body, sending him tumbling through the air to splatter against the back wall, mortally injured. Caitlin's sling stone bouncing off its' skull seemed a fairly unimpressive response.
Krizzen whirled the morning star up and struck back, the heavy spiked bludgeon making the undead monster step back, and Monsarana took the chance to zoom past it towards Yoshin, gritting her teeth as its' claws ripped her flesh. Then she was next to the elf, watching his last breath bubble out in several different places. Plunging her hands into the gory mess, she prayed to Aderra to spare the sorcerer, and watched as the miracle of healing knitted his smashed bones and torn flesh back together. Yoshin's eyes opened, and he gathered his magic to him as she turned him the right way up.
All four of the adventurers now closed around the skeleton. Yoshin's Magic Missiles blasted vital bones to powder, while Caitlin's slung lead bullet tore completely through a skull. Monsarana's warhammer smashed an arm off, and then Krizzen's morning star shattered the skeleton's structure and sent bits of bone scattering across the room to splash sullenly into the water.
Session Date: 23rd Nov 2014