Aurochs Island and What Lies Beneath
From the Ambassador, you have extracted that the deathless one has been sending ambassadors to Aurochs Island, which is just covered in aurochs.
Aurochs island is the source of devil-ore that the deathless one has been mining in the East. To gather more, he has dispatched three Ambassadors to negotiate with the Duergar who live deep beneath the labyrinth here.
Hespero suggests that the PCs lay low after the kidnapping at the dinner party. Malbec Riesling is dispatched to retrieve the devils ore or sirablood. One of his associates temporarily steps in for him.
The heroes arrive on Aurochs Island with Hespero’s merchant ship. The Mineosi ships are already there, so the heroes have to be careful.
As you sail along the shore, you spy a pair of masts behind a spit of land. The ship flies a Mineosi banner: A red circle upon a yellow field.
Malbec Riesling is on a boat with Hespero. They are pouring through some of the tomes Hespero has brought. Malbec reads some books to learn about the labyrinth. They read about the labyrinth. He discovers that the labyrinth is in another dimension.
Hespero asks him to head over to the labyrinth and find his way back to the gang. He gives him a magic string which will pull him out of the dimension. It is a one time trick which will only take one person.
After fighting some harpies
Venturing through the woods, there is an eerie silence. The air becomes stale and humid, and the breeze off the waves no longer cool you. You hear the voice of a woman singing, a melody more beautiful than any you have ever heard.
and dealing with zombified guards of The Ambassador,
Coming through the trees, you see an imposing wall made of gray stone bricks. Circling the sky above the walls, you see a swarm of harpies. They take off and land on the roof of the building. The entrance to the labyrinth is foreboding, a tall 10 foot entryway with no door to bar entry. Bright yellow orchids grow like vines around the columns that flank the entrance. Scattered around the entrance are four swords and four shields bearing the insignia of the Empire of Mineos.
the gang enters the labyrinth. The gang encounters Theo, who has been lost in this labyrinth for weeks. He is from the past. He fought a fiend named The Burr and was knocked into a portal that appeared behind him, hastily thrown up by the Burr’s ally, The Lich of the Godsbody. The lich disappeared before the fighting ended and left the Burr to die.
He doesn’t realize he has been knocked through time until the characters mention this to him. Hamiltonos Washington is also in the labyrinth and Theo can take you to him. He is ill and has seen better days.
Hamiltonos tells Abraham as he dies: “A darkness follows you, son.”
The labyrinth does a lot of strange things, moving corridors and making you lost. Eventually,
You enter a rough-hewn chamber, seemingly more crudely excavated than the rest of the labyrinth. An altar sits in the center of the room. On the platform, you recognize a figure with the face of an orc. A bull-headed statuette rises above the orc emitting a golden glow. As your eyes adjust to the dim light, you see a pair of horns coming out of the orc’s head. It writhes in agony as it gets to its feet, clutching at its head in pain. It collapses to its knees, huffing and groaning until it collapses onto its stomach. You realize it has a tail and hooves instead of feet.
Fighting off some quaggoths and minotaurs, the gang eventually makes it into the ruins below the labyrinth.
The Ruins and the Duergar
Less finely hewn than the labyrinth above, this room is much more like a cave than anything else. The air feels different here. Above you are stalactites and on the ground, stalagmites, which make the room feel like the mouth of some immense beast. A satchel lays beside a body dressed in the garb of a worshiper of Zeus. You see a bloody suit of chain mail, a heavy crossbow, and an unsheathed longsword with a wyvern emblazoned on its hilt. There is no body within this suit.
The wyvern is an old symbol for the Argolosi Empire, the empire that was long ago headed by Argot and united the Sickle Islands.
Passing through the cavern, you see a wall of plaster and a wooden door half covered by rubble and dust.
After breaking through the door:
Vermin scatter at your feet, curled millipedes and roaches. As you come in, the first thing that strikes you is a couple seated at a table, a bowl between them. They are covering their heads as if in frustration at one another. They do not move as you come in, and you realize that you can see them because there is a dim glow illuminating the room. There are orange glowing fungi covering the back wall. By their light, you can see a fresco on the left and right walls, which seems to wrap the entire room. It appears to be a battle at sea.
Behind the fungi, there are a set of stairs that are covered with rubble. Upon investigation, the couple are casts. Within the cast is hollow. They have been killed by a volcanic eruption.
Investigating the wall behind the fungi reveals a panther-headed man on a ship, commanding an army of undead pirate skellies.
The heroes go in further.
Passing into the hall, you see brick walls, windows with broken glass, and three tall columns. The structures are unlike dwarven mansions and more like a city attempting to burst out of the earth. Beyond the columns a flight of wide marble stairs lead into a shadowy cavern beyond. On the far walls to the left and right are stacks of fungi reaching up to the ceiling. Some of them glow, but others you can only see by the light of their neighbors.
After squaring off briefly with the Duergar, the heroes decide to talk.
They also notice another fresco:
There is a door to a home before you and a fresco as well. It is of a many faced creature with six arms outstretched. It wears a fine purple toga like a man, though parts of the paint are chipped off. Each of the faces is of a different big cat: a cheetah, a panther, and the center one, a tiger.
In a ritual room later on:
A statue of a god seems to keep the roof of this room from caving in. A mosaic of masks repeats across the floor. The mosaic is chipped and scuffed. Many of the faces are obscured but you are sure that they are all the same.
The place appears to be desecrated. These Duergar worship Hadrash, a devil. Hadrash appears at some point and the heroes kill him. He is a bearded devil.
The heroes eventually sit down and talk with the Duergar chief Xarog and the two Ambassadors that have come to treat.
In the center of the room, you see two Ambassadors speaking with a small hooded figure, both seated at a table. Upon the table, there are laid out fruits, cloth, and silk. The figure turns to you, focusing its pitch black eyes at you. It has a long white beard and crooked and grimy teeth. Its lips peel back as it speaks to the Ambassador.
The Duergar chief Xarog is negotiating the trade of sirablood and devils-ore with the Ambassador. The Ambassador has brought fruit, cloth, and silk to trade.
The Ambassadors recognize the PCs and knows what they did to their colleague at the dinner party. The Ambassadors are alone. They tell the Duergar chief to seize them because they tried to kill them.
The heroes somehow talk their way out of this one and decide to amazing race the Ambassadors to hell to talk to the devils there.
Previous Episode: My Dinner with Hespero
Next Episode: Zulon and Friends