Our sword-protecting party is running out of options, and having harassed Deathhand's army To A Bit of Death, is now trapped in the tomb of Aknar Ratella. The remains of that army have pushed their way into the tombs first room, hunched behind shields that are rammed up against the arrow slits of the ambush rooms that had given the party the ability to exact such a toll on them on their previous attack.
The monoliths (or 'mezaloths') start tearing up the doors to the secondary enfiled room - which luckily is full of Ogres that we have persuaded to join us. Mostly because they don't now have much choice now.
Anar dodges out of that room as the doors come apart; the rest head out from the enfiliding archer rooms. As Chita and Val leave theirs they see a flicker of a mezaloth appearing. They leave faster.
Outside the tomb, but behind the waterfall curtain, Tūd pushes Erlini into the water. Startled, she goes down, and then he lands on top of her. The water above them roars into steam as the efrit fires across where they were standing.
We all rise, streaming water, dim and damp in the mist (and in the fact); Tūd with wet carpet rolled under one arm and wet bow in the other. Thank goodness it's one of Nym's 'specials'. He wonders briefly about firing a wet rug at the efrit but settles for one of his rare ones; an arrow engraved with a dispel essence. It hits solidly, but while the efrit (just!) resists the runes, the effort distracts it from a far more potent version from Forgeillil and it vanishes in a puff off essence. The arrow falls from an empty sky.
Tūd heads off for it but the others call him back - we have people to rescue! Cavalry to emulate! We spot the two wounded ilin also lying behind the waterfall. There is some cavalrying to do, and as Erlini starts to feed them from her sackful of Nym's random unlabelled potions ("I might as well take the lot, what harm can it do?") we get the story from them. Nym's potion making seems to have improved, though our maths skillz have not.
We head off, Obsurdium mini-dragon scouting, and Tūd in the lead wondering if he can persuade Deathhand to drink a cup of Taiken Ra tea. ("Hi, before you -" no. "Hi, would you like some t-" no. "Tea sir?" hmmm. Could be tricky). Forgeillil calls them back - just a second, planning first, rushing in second. She intends to send the dragon in first to spy out the land, get in touch with the imp so she can communicate with the rest of the party. This all sounds terribly organised. Except that she seems to want drown everyone. In an organised way...
She gathers shadows around the dragon and sends it off, cautiously. Possibly it takes the caution rather too seriously but it takes a long time to not get very far.
Back in the tomb, the party are heading at top speed for the portable hole to the vault. The gnome is bringing up the rear but runs into Hagar, takes a flying leap over the top, and they all crowd through the artificial gap and rip it off from the inside.
We pause, gather our breath, and then settle down in a closed airtight sealed tomb with two sandestine creatures who have been here for a few thousand years, waiting... We chat, since the sandestine have run out of conversation topics [eg, the ghosts are evil due to the leakage from the sword, not naturally]
The gnome examines the room outside (the ante-room - has a few old sofas and some very very old magazines) and sets some trip wires across the floor, just to give a few extra seconds when the last moments come.
The dragon, somewhere in the Ogre's caves, sees a small party of gnolls bearing a box with magic symbols, just entering into the gaurd/ambush rooms with the arrow/ambush rooms. Forgeillil continues to consider various options of drowning everyone. Thranduil detects evil undead elves.
Forg summons her water elemental [boyfriends are summoned, fiances are controlled, husbands are mastered] and commands it to wash down the left hand corridor, sweeping all before it into the swimming pool with the ghosts in it. We follow close on behind; as it goes through the ambush room, the gnolls drag their box to the corner away from it, the priest in orange robes organising their defence. The rescue party pauses there to take some shots while the elemental rushes on to cleanse the corridors. "Oooh look" says Tūd "it's a bit like that ark, erm, ark of the... agreement?" Shut up Tūd and shoot them!
So in classic style, Tūd starts off shooting one through both ears and goes on to deteriorate; his immediate follow on shot merely nicks another. Chita shoots at the one in robes and nicks it. Thranduil gets another through the chest. Erlini wonders about some water based spell (Sarah: this water is a refreshing change from fire, we're awash with puns, keep things cordial, sparkling wit, more silliness keeps bobbing up. We could set up a water-themed park, in competition with the Isle of Dread) and settles for a water bolt, smacks into a gnoll and smashes it back.
The priestly gnoll gestures and Forgeillil, concentrating hard on keeping the elemental under control, collapses to the floor, her soul torn from her body and sent to its ultimate destination. Uh oh. Thankfully the elemental continues on to the swimming pool, the nearest body of water.
Tūd lands a solid shot through the lead gnoll's thigh, and misses the second shot. Chita hits it and it bleeds more. Thranduil clips again, it bleeds more. Erlini blinds them but they resist.
The gnolls have readied their weapons but stick next to the box; Tūd hits the priest again and he goes to his knees, still upright but not going to manage anything. Chita charges. Thranduil nicks another. Erlini hides the box -
- and the gnoll that Chita was charging half turns as the box disappears. Chita brielfy considers the concept of waiting for him to recover and then laughs and clobbers him. Tūd shoots another, wounding it a little. Thranduil gets another in the thigh, stunned and parried. A gnoll strikes at Chita and lays him out.
Tūd consistently gets yet another wound (13 and another low crit) with the first of his double strike, the second only nicking. Thranduil leaps into combat and strikes the struck gnoll, breaking its thigh and smashing it down. Erlini waterbolts the remaining, breaks its thigh, leaving it standing but largely useless. We finish them off.
We all look at the box, only it's not there. Erlini revisibles it. Tūd reads the runes and says (06) "erm, Made In China. Ark of... erm.... " Thranduil agrees with the first bit ("Where's china?") and runs out. Erlini's stroking it, and is smoking slightly as her eyes vibrate. Tūd looks at the symbols "This one means 'Danger!'. This one over here means you should wear hard hats and gloves. This one here says that if you can read it you're too close. Wait, there's on here.... 'Compulsive Reclamation' or something". Erlini stops shaking and the tomb goes very quiet.
As quiet as the grave.
A wave of something comes sweeping through the tomb room; the sandestine pop out and back into existance. The imp too drops out of existance and comes back. Hagar pops his helm and asks "what was that?!" The sandestine reply "we were briefly severed from our existance" and expand no more.
[It appears the effect Erlini had on tuning to the box was to invoke a similar effect to what the gnolls wanted, but on her terms and against her enemies, rather than theirs - which was presumably to affect the Angel & Devil].
Back at the 'rescue' party, we hear the sound of marching people heading back down the corridors towards us. We load up the rug with Chita, the mostly dead Forg and the ark and head out with Tūd as rearguard. They hide the rug up the chasm, Thranduil down the chasm, and Tūd hides out in the woods. The gnolls come marching past and out and away, in good order and laughing as hyenas do.
We all creep back in. Tūd asks Thranduil if he can detect evil undead elves, but he can't tell if he can.
In the tomb it's all still quiet - no thuds through the stones of traps being set off and no sounds of things being torn apart. They put up the portable hole and creep out - the two groups meet up and exchange stories. We check around the tomb and there are bits of gnoll all over the traps. Kisshand deathhead has dissappeared - presumably returned along with the mezaloths by Erlini's use of the box.
Anar reads the runes on the box properly: "This is the ark of forced return" "Made in taiwan - the people's republic of china" Oh I see. Val doesn't seem very impressed; it's a bit big isn't it? It's a big spell! Does it have any more power? Ermmm... dunno....
We have a chat with the angel (Tessakar) about getting Forgeillil's soul back to her body and he says he can find out. Isech the devil agrees and says he'll add his weight to the argument, if she volunteers to stay for a year. We can't tell if she will - Val offers to remain instead if she won't. They disappear, and return with Forgeillil. "Nothing to do with me!" cries Ryz, the first thing she hears. We point at each other.
Forgeillil settles for staying for a year.
We work out ways of spending a year without causing too much trouble.