The session opened with the party discussing what to do about the rest of the village. Moon Circle and Dolmen asked if anyone else noticed that there were no pygmies in sight. Snow suggested that maybe they were out on a raid. Moon Circle laughed and said that clearly she thought pygmies operated on the same principles as civilized folk. When she looked confused, Dolmen explained that if the chief left the village to go on a raid, when he returned, he’d find that one of this lieutenants had claimed the village and was forcing him to fight his way back inside. If he stayed and gave the lieutenant more troops than he kept back for himself, then the lieutenant would never bother going on the raid, and would instead simply use those troops to kill the chief and take control of the village. Snow decided that pygmies were horrid.
Leaf and Winter decided to work their way around the wall taking out the guard-creatures in small batches since they seemed to be happy to just stand around and get killed piecemeal. Their plan was met by a gravelly laughter from one of the boxes in the room. Dolmen rapidly spun and fired an acid-enhanced bolt into the box. Winter scanned that direction and noticed a palpable source of evil in the room with them. They tried to look into the box but the nexus of evil, and the voice emanating from it, moved under the floor to a new location after mocking them. Eventually they decided to speak, and learned that it was a ghost, they presumed of a pygmy. Leaf asked how they had killed him and he said they poured molten iron down his throat. The voice asked them to go to the part of the courtyard where they had seen the wisp of smoke and kill the alchemist in that particular chamber, but to spare the life of the female courtesan that she had stolen from him. Snow, Moon Circle, and Leaf each independently came to the conclusion that if the voice was a pygmy, it was probably trying to get them killed. Leaf, however, wasn’t worried about it, and figured that setting off the trap in full knowledge would be the easiest way to deal with the enemies. So he boldly walked out into the courtyard toward the monolith Snow had been interested in earlier.
The group followed, but Winter only left after threatening the voice that it had better stay put until this alchemist was dead, or she would beat holes in the ground until she managed to kill it. It agreed. Outside, they walked until they were as far from it as Winter trusted her ability to detect. Then they whispered about what it had said. They all agreed that they couldn’t trust its stated motives, but that it was asking them to do something they were inclined to do anyway. Taking stock they saw 8 of the guard creatures. Winter detected 3 more evil beings inside one of the small rooms built into the wall (this room had 2 of the remaining 8 guards above it). They formed a firing line pointed at the nearest set of guards. Winter took a second to scan the nearby area, including beneath the ground. Two powerful evil things noticed her notice them and began to move toward the party through the inside of the ziggurat. She warned the group and half of them turned to face where she was pointing, while the others kept an eye on the guards. Dolmen, Wispy, Blinky, and Snow had missile weapons out and were kneeling, aiming at the guards. Avenger, Leaf, Winter, and Spoon were watching the ziggurat. Moon Circle was trying to keep an eye in both directions at once.
Winter reported that the things had risen up higher inside the ziggurat than she could follow them, but still nothing was visible. Shortly thereafter Leaf saw what looked like a nearly invisible scrying sensor slip out the top of the ziggurat and down the backside. Winter then saw a second gliding down the near side of the Ziggurat and pointed it out. Spoon did a flying leap, bursting into flames as she did so and slashed through it twice without doing anything noticeable. One of the two skull piles near the base of the stairway fired a blast of purple and black energy at her, striking her square in the back. Moon Circle hit the scrying sensor with his cursed dispelling power and it peeled away revealing a floating brain with a huge beak and many spiked tentacles. The creature swiftly enveloped Spoon with its tentacles and tried to stab her with the tip of one spike, but she managed to avoid this fate. Winter charged and destroyed the skull pile that fired on Spoon. All the archers unloaded on the guard, but didn’t do any significant damage. Leaf held his ground looking for the second sensor he knew to be lurking nearby.
Spoon slashed at the creature, damaging it slightly. Winter ran up the steps and smashed it with her giant flaming maul sending it crashing to the ground in a heap of gore. The second pillar fired at her, but missed. The two guards leapt down from their wall post. Moon Circle gestured gleefully and a swarm of black tentacles rose out of the ground just behind one of them (the unharmed one) and yanked it off its feet. The archers all unloaded into the wounded one again but still didn’t down it. Snow summoned her divine bear allies who tore into the guard preventing it from advancing on their position. Leaf continued to hold watching for the second creature.
Spoon and Winter both smashed the second pillar destroying it before it could fire on them again. Leaf caught sight of the second creature as is sped wide around him trying to ambush Snow. It reached for her, but she slipped out of its grasp thanks to his warning. Avenger slashed at it and Leaf then rushed it from behind impaling it and dropping it with one hit. Since the bears were blocking their shots the archers turned against the grappled one viciously damaging it as it tried and failed to escape the clutches of Moon Circle’s tentacles. The other slammed a mighty gauntlet into a bear which roared loudly, the first significant noise of the battle. This seemed to be its undoing however as the bears and avenger (who flew over) rent it to pieces. The group easily destroyed the second while it was pinned.
They stood around for just a second to see if there was any response. Winter noticed the three evil beings in the next tower were moving and pointed to them. Just then a pygmy dressed the the bare-chested leather harness of a leader kicked open the door she was pointing at and two others threw open windows. The leader hurled a javelin while its companions fired electrical-charged crossbow bolts, all at Winter. Her flying shield mostly protected her, but she did take the javelin on her breastplate. Moon Circle again called the dark tentacles, this time inside the room, and they yanked all three pygmies off their feet and back into the tower. Just before that the officer whistled and gestured at the group, and the last two guards on that half of the village turned to face the party.
Leaf rushed the nearest before it could move, using his magic sandals to run up the wall and slash it viciously, cutting into the steel umbilical cord connecting its neck to its belly. Spoon did another running leap, landing on the wall behind it hammering it solidly with both swords and sending out so much fire that she nearly scorched Leaf. The archers fired on the second and Winter advanced to meet it as it jumped down from the wall. The first swung at leaf, with both heavy metal gauntlets, but he easily parried them, then stabbed it solidly through the faceplate sending it toppling over the wall out of the village.
Winter stepped up to hers and slammed it so hard with her maul that it flew back into the wall. Whereupon it was attacked by Snow, Avenger, Whispy (now wielding his sword), and the bears who destroyed it in short order. One of the pygmies managed to get away from the tentacles and managed to leap out a window of the tower only to be struck in mid-air by a blast of energy form Moon Circle and hurled back inside. The horrible growling and clacking revealed to everyone that these pygmies as well were infested with whatever horrors had plagued the two they fought before.
Everyone decided to sit around and wait for Moon Circle’s black tentacles to finish off the tentacle monsters. Leaf was asking if anyone still had some alchemical weapons they could toss into the chamber to make it go faster when the ghost appeared on a nearby rooftop and asked why he’d want to end their suffering. Leaf said that he didn’t care so much about that, just wanted to be efficient. The ghost was clearly a pygmy from the size. His lower jaw was distended and hung against his collarbone. All of his abdomen and waist was torn out and burned, being more bone than meat, and his limbs were shriveled. What showed of his head was mostly hidden behind one of the enormous shaman masks they’d seen other pygmy shamans wear. His hands were glowing faintly green, and slime oozed off of them down onto the roof where he was squatting, though it only lasted a few seconds before fading back into the ether.
There followed a conversation, punctuated by the ongoing noise of the tentacle monsters being slowly chilled and constricted to death. The ghost, Leaf, and Snow discussed the nature of the creatures (called by the alchemist he wanted dead), what was under the ziggurat (tunnels leading all through the mountains, one going to a chamber where the creatures were building towers that tried to draw the divine energy that cursed pygmies out of them, but that only killed them and continued to imprison and torture their ghosts), the alchemist (his rival who sold him out to the creatures), and the fact that the creature who created the wards was inside the tower with the alchemist and was a particularly powerful witch wearing what remained of the ghost’s body.
The ghost warned that below them was a giant guardian, too large to fit out the tunnels, but that might be more powerful than they could handle. It pointed out that the alchemist was watching them and had locked down the tower. The last four guards were under her mental command and already waiting to move against the party. If they gave her a chance, she’d flee up the steps of the ziggurat and into the tunnel below where the guardian would protect her. She would also warn the other creatures that the ghost had escaped, and he would have to flee and not be able to help them. But neither the witch nor the alchemist was able to communicate with the creatures down below except by speech.
The group decided to take out the nearest skull pillars and block her path up the steps while drawing out the last four guard creatures.
And that’s where we ended for the night.