Things started off with a bang as the party kicked in the door and Naunets, their game of tag rudely interrupted, cackled in glee and attacked the party with claw and tentacle. The party got their first taste of fighting Proteans and witnessed first-hand their ability to shape-shift into useful subtypes and cause confusion merely by striking their foes with their chaotic tentacles. The creatures attacked them viciously and sometimes through the walls, but spell and sword proved to be too much for them and good positioning and some luck ensured the party escaped with barely a scratch. Though the room, bizarre and recurring on itself, was curious, little of value was there and the party moved on.
As if they needed yet another reminder that the Proteans are chaotic, the next door they scouted turned out to have no floor or ceiling. Red swirling clouds that stretched into an infinite expanse instead replaced the natural rock that should have been there and the two Imentesh creatures in the room only made it more dangerous. Luckily for the party, magical flight is readily accessible now and Chaaz and Invidia were able to fly into the cavern and do battle with the floating creatures. Though they came perilously close to losing Invidia to a polymorph effect, the Imentesh were taken down swiftly before they could do any real harm, apart from a single negative level on Invidia.
With the Imentesh slain, Avarita spied yet another hidden door within the pulsating walls of the room. She opened it up to reveal a chamber of pure velvet and a variety of curious magical trinkets which the party was quick to purloin. Of special note were two strange keys prominently displayed on breathing pedestals. One of them turned out to be the now unneeded key to the skull box that contained the Book of the Damned. The other thing, a two-foot long tentacled bar with strange patterns on the end, was less obvious as to its function. But like any good PC encountering a strange but clearly important item, they pocketed in and went on their way.
Though they spied a giant, swirling maestro in the room as well, the PCs wisely decided not to screw around with it and left to the next room… which turned out to have an Inevitable in it. Surprised to see non-proteans exit the doorway, the Inevitable greeted the party, trying to pay no attention to the singing crystals surrounding the door. Remnus, curious about the crystals, extracted one from the wall.. and it kept singing nonsense words. As he pocketed it, the Inevitable talked with the party, quite pleased to hear there were a LOT fewer Proteans on the level now. He retreated back into the Inevitable’’s base to inform the others, leaving the party to open up the last room… the room with the Emerald Spire… and an Inevitable and a Protean sitting there in a stand-off. The protean, seeing he was outnumbered, fled backwards but ran right into Remnus’ army of undead. It wasn’t long before the insane serpent was surrounded and slain.
With the battle over, the party was able to properly inspect the giant, brass doors sealing the floor next to the Emerald Spire. Remnus decided to pull out the Comprehend Languages ioun stone and found that the runes covering the surface of the door said “Warning” in EVERY language in existence, including several unknown to the PCs or the world at large for that matter. Ignoring the literal warnings in literally every language, Avarita found a panel and poked it open, revealing what seemed to be a keyhole made to fit the bizarre tentacled item the party had found with the Proteans. Before they could shove it in the slot though, the Inevitable that was with them demanded the key back and that the party absolutely should not open the doors under any conceivable circumstance.
The party “took that under advisement.”.
As the Inevitables searched for a way to destroy the Protean’s portal jammer, the party was treated to the rest of the tour of the Inevitable’s base. They found the Inevitable’s portal, a large, gold-glowing archway attached to various pylons that sparked violently with magical electricity. The non-functioning portal was interesting, certainly, but the party wasn’t done with the tour. The “guest quarters” were their last stop and they opened it to find a trio of Caulborns (strange, hunched, insect-like creatures) and a man who looked half-metal with skin stretched out in a series of wicked looking, steel, black hooks, blades and spikes.
The ugly, ugly Caulborns greeted the party as curiosities but the strange man (a Kyton) got a whoooole lot more intimate with his greeting. He looked to Avartia, his stretched out mouth twisting into a fleshy smile as he praised fortune that they would meet. Though initially cryptic, the creature eventually revealed himself having once been Avus Falovir, of House Julia, Invidia and Avarita’s lost uncle, though he happily admitted to being much, much more now. Left with the prospect of dying alone in a magma cave, Avus, angry and cursing his hellknight companions and openly admitting he would do anything to not die in the cave, had apparently caught the attention of Aoz, Chaid’s Kyton familiar. Though he was vague about the deal he made with the hideously evil denizens of the plane of shadows, he apparently, in exchange for saving his life, allowed the Kytons to experiment with the family. Invidia’s brother was stolen, apparently for spare parts for Kyton’s bodies, and Avarita’s blood was tainted with a vile, evil darkness that gave her access to her supernatural magic… apparently for the sole purpose of providing Avus with a new body to assimilate into his own as he stared at Avarita with what could only be described as an unnatural and terrifying hunger.
The sisters didn’t need much more than that. Avarita conjured a burst of acid straight in her former uncle’s face. And before anything else could happen, Invidia soared to her former uncle’s side like a bird of prey and inflicted three utterly brutal hits, three of them nigh-artistic in how gracefully they pierced into the Kyton’s flesh. Her final attack saw her scimitar punch through Avus’ chest cavity and up to his heart, the twisted, malevolent creature not even able to sputter out a word before dying on her blade. Uncomfortably, the party got to witness his twisted body slowly stitching itself back together. Fortunate indeed, Chaaz could create a holy weapon with his magic and cut off the evil creature’s regeneration for good.
As if the scene wasn’t horrifying enough, Invidia recognized her brother’s face stretched out on Avus’ armor and mournfully took it with her, in the hopes of finding a way to resurrect him. Though the Caulborns were quite angry with having been splashed with acid, the brutal bisecting of their companion and Chaaz’s terrifying threats cowed them instantly into submission and they quickly ceased to be aggressive and meekly answered their questions, not that they learned much of what they didn’t already know from exploring the level.
With the grim business concluded, the party returned to the Inevitables who had just recently found the jamming device the Proteans were using and were making plans to destroy it. Wasting little time, the party flew to where it was, finding a small, serpentine skull with two tulips in the eye-holes, a circle of rocks surrounding it and a powerful aura of magic pulsing from it. Though resilient to dispelling magic, it was less resilient to being smashed with an adamantine sword and the Inevitables were as happy as emotionless robots could be.
With their portal unfettered, the Inevitables will report back to their Axiomite masters and secure the the wards to the lower floor once and for all. The party hopes to talk to an Axiomite and maybe secure access to the lower level. Unlikely as it is, we’ll find out if the Eternal City of Axis, bastion of pure law and ruled by the most powerful calculating intelligence in existence, will ignore their eons-old calculations now that five adventurers have shown up on a dungeon floor and just let them pass.