3/8/1472: 20:56 – 21:00: Despite their wounds, the group's instinctive skills kick in, and they rise to face the oncoming monstrosity. The Golem is berserk, its stony body cracked, blasted, and shrouded in brilliantly coloured, ghostly flames of discharging arcane power. Sparks leap over its form as it charges, throwing itself with wild, chaotic abandon towards the nearest foe.
Despite its power, the golem is a doomed thing, for it has suffered structurally in the recent upheavals, and its magics have become chaotic and wild. Drawing on their expertise, the group are able to swiftly take it apart, hacking its stony form until the energies raging within it can be contained no longer. There is an explosion, and everyone is thrown back as a shockwave of fire and sizzling stone shards blasts outwards.
All are knocked off their feet, though Varracuda catches the worst of it, a large piece of shrapnel burying itself in his chest, pinning him to the wall of the chamber.
21:01 – 21:08: Grigori tends to the genasai whilst the assassin and warlock examine the reinforced door that guards the drug room. No traps are detected, and so, with the swordmage released and his wounds healed, the group carefully open it up...
...A wave of white smoke belches out as soon as the door is opened, washing over the party. It is acrid and everyone (save the undead) immediately begins to cough and sputter, their lungs burning from the noxious cloud. Tears streaming from their eyes, the group - except for Jaeger - stumble away from the room. The assassin remains, his face turned upwards, his empty eyes following things only he can see, and with a groan, the group realise that he is hallucinating.
The smoke it is quickly realised, has come from the drugs, many of which have roasted in the pressure cooker of the basement, and everyone holds their breath whilst the noxious gasses dissipate. This takes a little while, but soon the chamber beyond is safe to enter.
21:09 – 21:25: The group spend some time going through the various packages of intoxicating substances Deezel has stored in the chamber. Although many have been too badly damaged by the heat to be of any use, many packages are found that are intact, and soon they are thrown in the priest's Bag of Holding.
During the group's search, a well hidden tunnel is found at the back of the chamber. The door is unwarded, and it is decided that the group will explore further, though Varracuda warns that he can sense “unusual energies” that radiate wildly from beyond. Further analysis of these energies leaves the genasai to worry that there may be large source of some kind of tainted material beyond – sickstone, taintstone or something similar. He warns that such energies can be deleterious to both physical and mental health, and that exposure to them is not recommended.
However, with the assassin in a drug induced dream, and the rest of the group only too happy to ignore the swordmages' warning, the door is opened, revealing a natural stone tunnel filled with a distant, eerie green light. A strong smell, like burning metal hangs on the air, and the group feel a strange itching behind their eyes as they enter.
21:26 – 21:50: The group carefully move along the tunnel, noting with some concern the growing stench of alchemical residue, the increasing green glow that reflects off the roughly carved walls, and the distant sound of seething liquids.
The tunnel curves round in a large C descending about 15'. The group begin to feel a vice like pressure within their heads as they move closer to its end, and taste metal. As they move around the curve of the tunnel, they suddenly hear a mangled human scream from ahead, and a sharp crack . Then a strange shrieking sound, like gasses escaping under pressure, and a return to the slurping pop and hisses that sounded before. The tunnel ends at the entrance to a vast cavern, brightly illuminated by four massive pools of brilliantly glowing, green fluid. Clouds of luminous green smoke scud over the floor, and the air resonates with painful, chiming power.
On the left wall, at the far end of the chamber, the group can see strange markings worked into the wall and floor. On the opposite wall to them, some 120' away, they can see that an area of stone has been melted, and a faintly shining tunnel now leads from the chamber to the upper world. Just in front of the tunnel, several small pieces of something metallic burn with nearly colourless, frantically spurting flames.
Reluctant to enter the chamber, the group use Grigori's spyglass to check out both the symbols and the burning items.
The symbols, it is quickly deduced, are part of a portal leading to an alternate physical plane. Several other symbols – curious inverse triangles, who's points overlap - however are unrelated to its magics, and Thatari feels they represent the God of an alien species of rat-like humanoids, that have, on occasion, been seen on Arbel'Verdaniss; a race recorded in ancient records as being called Skaven...
The burning fragments appear to be delicate metal components of some shattered device, the flames apparently the product of whatever explosion destroyed it.
Having seen enough, and fearful that the portal may still be active, the group, dogged by burgeoning migraines, leave the chambers, and head back to the surface.
21:51 – 21:56: Rain lashes down as the group re-enter the ravaged former basement, the skies alive with lightning and a strange shimmering. Hauling themselves up to the surface, the group can see three armed men charging towards them – eyes bobbling, frothing, their skin livid, their necks distended and veined – ahead of two other foes. One is one of the one-eyed Orgon'Gigorim from the harbour; a lumbering, neckless behemoth that bellows a roared warning as it spies the party.
The other is.....Deezel?
He has changed - is still changing!
His body is three times its former mass, and is a frothing maelstrom of out of control mutation; boiling and seething with tumorous activity, his flesh luminous with the same green light that shone so foully from the pools beneath. His face is horribly intact, and upon spotting the group his mouth – now big enough to bite a man in two - opens wide, issuing a choked, bubbling scream that spurs the drugged up pirates and dim-witted gigorim on into battle.
The two groups meet in an explosive battle – literally, for Deezel leaks a combustible gas that surrounds anyone calling fire or lightning into existence in a personal mantle of agonising flame. This proves problematic for the swordmage, who relies heavily on both elements in his offensive sword spells, at least, until he awakens his talents, and converts such energies to pure force. Thatari simply opens his black soul to the spirits of hell-fire, and allows his mortal form to become consumed by it, transforming into a whipping whirlwind of shadowy flame, immune to the touch of mortal fires.
The first to fall is the gigorim. Dim witted and painfully slow, its blows can snap a back with ease. However, against the nimble group with their disembowelling blades and seeking spells, it is as helpless as a calf brought to the slaughter, and soon, with a despairing wail, it slams to the floor, its blood surging around the ankles of the other combatants, sizzling where it cooks on the scalding stones. The warriors are deadlier foes, their already considerable skills enhanced by whatever drug Deezel gave them before leading them here. Despite their skin reddening in the still pretty awesome heat of the ruins, they chop and parry with manic strength and inhuman reflexes. More than a few times do they manage to score serious wounds on the party, and when combined with Deezel – who keeps back and unleashes searing beams of corrosive green energy, or mordant bursts of sticky mucus into the melee – they are a dangerous foe.
Two of the three are hacked down, the assassin (now coming down from his drugged euphoria) adding his lethal quarrels of shadowstuff to the battle, and soon only Deezel and one of them remain. It is at this point that, over the roar and crash of battle, the group hear Lia's voice, raised in panic, coming towards them from the harbour.
“stEALING THE SHIP”
Lia slams into the remaining warrior, her pearlescent greatsword chiming with psychic power, sending him sprawling, a spurting wound in his chest.
“YOU LOT, HE'S ON THERE NOW, KILLING OUR CREW AND TRYING TO STEAL OUR BLOODY SHIP!”
A burst of luminous, corrosive gas erupts from Deezel (who towers almost three times as high as Shnecke now, his whole form merely a writhing blob of tentacles, dripping slime and pulsing orifices – though his face, his screaming, weeping face - remains untouched, splayed across a bulb of bleeding mucus that waves on a wagging stem of the same horrible material), filling a huge area with its opaque, choking presence, and those within it, enemy and ally, are tormented by its deadly touch.
“What” Screams Thatari, as he stumbles, heaving from the cloud, “are you screaming about woman?”
Lia slashes out at the warrior, surprised that her first blow failed to kill him, a series of tiny thuds telling her that the assassin has him in his sights too. For his part, the warrior makes an annoyed sound, and sweeps his own blade out towards the argent, her weapon's guard just managing to deflect a blow what would have removed her fingers.
“Shit. I, errr...A swordmage, that sleazy one from the Fighter's Gift, he's on deck with a bunch of other rogues and his bloody pet. Some kind of giant...”
She dodges to the side as a corrosive ray of mutating power bursts from the blinding cloud (within which she can hear continued screams of pain and battle from her allies, and can see vague, muted bursts of light as Grigori and Varracuda no doubt go about their work), and sweeps her blade towards the drug crazed warrior, a burst of psionic power radiating from her in a wave of colourless distortion. For his part, the warrior gives a scream, seeming to suddenly notice the serious trouble he's in, before his face is sliced from his skull by the argent's scalpel sharp sword.
Deezel gives a scream that could almost indicate gratitude when he is finally taken down, his tortured form deflating like a giant puffball, exhaling even more toxic, mutating fumes into the air. Everyone is wounded and tired, though Grigori's magic manages to remove the worst of the damage they have sustained.
Alas, there is no rest for them, for Lia quickly reiterates her news to the rest of the party, and within seconds of their battle with Deezel and his servants, they are running, full pelt towards the SC, which is slowly pulling out of the harbour, and heading for open waters...