On Sunday nights, a group of friends and I gather to play Dungeons & Dragons. This is the chronicle of their tale. (This post contains spoilers to “Curse of Strahd”)
While the party takes a short rest within the empty room, they discuss their options. They are still unsure what it was that attacked them. They know that they need to find Clovin and make sure he’s okay, but they cannot all go while Rolen and Y’shaarj are down. Cairie and Krossa both volunteer to sneak out and try to find him. Kasimir and Ezmerelda both cast greater invisibility on the two of them to provide them some extra protection.
Cairie and Krossa sneak across the balcony, past the dead horses, and begin searching for Clovin. They do not find him where he was last seen. Cairie begins to go down the stairs on the far side of the balcony, while Krossa checks behind a set of double doors opposite the ones behind which the rest of the party remains.
Inside, he disturbs a group of barbarians led by a large, muscular woman with a shield and spear. Five other barbarians go for their weapons, and the dire wolf lying in the room wakes up to stare at the open doors. Of course, Krossa is invisible, and the barbarians are confused and definitely on guard. Krossa asks simply, “Friend or foe?”
Meanwhile, Cairie stealths down the stairs, but slips on the icy stone and falls. This seems to call the attention of their unseen attacker from before, as a fireball detonates where she stood on the stairs! But Cairie leaps down the rest of the stairs and runs to her left down a wide hallway on the lower level of the temple.
Krossa faces the group of alarmed barbarians as the woman responds to the bodiless voice, demanding to know who is there. Krossa remains invisible however – not in control of the spell – and he tells the group that he is hiding in the temple after being attacked by fire.
The woman responds similarly, saying they do not wish to encounter the “fiery spirits” and were keeping the doors closed. She starts to move forward, swinging her shield around to try and catch whatever it is she cannot see, as Krossa backs away through the double doors, realizing that these people will be of no help to him.
Cairie, downstairs, sees her reflection in the amber glazed walls, polished to smooth perfection. However, her reflection does not match her movements. Rather, her reflection is flailing her arms wildly and pointing back the way she came. Her reflection’s face is screwed up in horrified determination, as her mouth silently screams, “No! No! No!” over and over again. Thoroughly creeped out, Cairie turns around and goes back toward the stairs.
Cairie and Krossa catch up to each other at about the same time – without realizing it because they’re both invisible – as lances of concentrated fire shoot across the vast temple and slam into the black marble walls behind them. The two unseen adventurers race across the balcony back toward their friends as the beams continue to just miss them.
Finally back in the other annex, Cairie and Krossa close the amber doors just as the invisibility wears off. They report back to each other and the others in the room, explaining what they each found. They are all alarmed at the fact that they were still attacked, even while being invisible, and now know that the way forward is going to be incredibly dangerous. They decide it’s best if they do not continue to split the party, and to take a long rest to let Rolen and Y’shaarj recover.
They next day, Rolen and Y’shaarj come to, and the group explains what happened while they were down. They inform them to keep quiet because of the nearby flameskulls, and of Cairie and Krossa’s invisible adventures. After much deliberation about what to do next, Y’shaarj begins exploring the small annex in which they find themselves. He finds a nearby room with smashed wooden furniture, and also a secret door. This leads to another room in which arrow slits overlook the entryway to the temple, and there also lies the skeletal remains of a wizard clutching a wand. Y’shaarj takes the wand and identifies it as a wand of secrets.
Back in the annex, everyone finally decides to head further into the temple by using the second pair of double amber doors in the room, which lead to the hallway with the cracked marble floor. Malis inspects the floor, and does recognize a slight pattern to the cracking, as if there were localized impacts that caused the cracks. While Y’shaarj and Krossa believe that this was caused by something very big and heavy moving across the hall, everyone else does their best to avoid the localizations for fear of traps.
As they reach the halfway point, Kasimir trips and ruins the group’s efforts at stealthiness. They hear a heavy booming in the distance, and decide to duck into a door to their right. Y’shaarj waits at the door and watches down the hall long enough to notice a very large figure approaching through the double doors at the end of the corridor before going into the new room and shutting the door.
Inside this room they find a brightly lit lecture hall. As they begin to explore and head down toward the lectern at the other end of the room, a few party members notice a figure hiding behind the podium. Hoping it’s Clovin, Krossa calls out to him. Not Clovin, but a man stands up. His robes are scorched and his face and hands are burned and blistered. He has a dagger out.
Ezmerelda and Fletcher draw weapons and take aim, but Krossa, Y’shaarj, and Malis seem intent on learning more about this man, and proclaim that they come in peace. The man seems unconvinced, but they get him talking. His name is Vilnius, and his fool of a master brought him here in search of hidden knowledge, and got himself killed – a wizard named Jakarion. Vilnius barely escaped with his life, and hid here from a monstrous statue-thing that surely wants him dead. He says he will not leave this room until it’s destroyed.
The rest of the group tries to get Vilnius to calm down and to come with them – that there is strength in numbers. He seems wary of their dubious desire to help him, but does put his dagger away. He supposes he could go with them and find safety among their large number, but he reiterates that he will not leave until the statue is dealt with.
The party searches the room, but finds no other way out. Their only option is to go back into the hall and face whatever it was that chased them in here.
The group gathers at the single door and readies themselves. Malis and Krossa open the door, and Ezmerelda takes a peek out — WHAM! She’s slammed in the head and falls prone. She gets up and turns invisible. Her unseen blades spark against the hard body of a ten foot-tall amber statue that stands outside the door.
Krossa and Malis spill out into the corridor, each attacking the constructed creature in turn. They each do a ton of damage. Ezmerelda, Fletcher, and Cairie all take their shots at it, and they eventually defeat it, but not before it slows Krossa.
Having finally defeated a physical threat within the Amber Temple, the group knows that they can continue forward together and hope to find Clovin, and also help Kasimir find whatever he’s looking for. And now they have Vilnius tagging along. Surely the rest of the temple cannot be worse than what they’ve already encountered…
Alright, here we GO! Some of the mystery of the Amber Temple is revealed, while more mysteries continue to crop up for the party. They seem confident after being able to take down the amber golem, but are also still shaken about being targeted by spells even though they were invisible. Only I know why (and perhaps you, too, reader).
The next session is going to be crazy fun, I feel, because they’re going to start making discoveries within the Temple, and there are lots of dark traps and evils lurking in the shadows. There are also A LOT of creatures for them to encounter – I mean, there’s a reason this place has earned a reputation online as a TPK temple.
But don’t worry, that’s not my intent. I want these characters to survive and continue their stories. It’s no fun when those stories come to an abrupt halt and are unfinished (I mean, unless it’s in a really satisfying way to the players).
So, until next time, Well Met!