Session Log 2022-05-13
The party caught their breath as Robin wove a short bridge of rope. Ignis removed his armor and climbed the magic bough-ladder down to the portal hidden in the sculpted wall. Klaitos, Ekkels in tow, followed him down so that he could heave Fireheart through the air to the wicker wall. The two affixed the rope bridge. Ignis climbed down and verified the path was clear to the topiary room. Robin climbed across and down, but heard the squelching of magebane and hurried to catch up with Ignis. Klaitos and Ekkels remained above, tightening the knots of the rope bridge.
Ignis and Robin, meanwhile, killed the ant left unconscious and intoxicated from their previous visit. Robin, guided by Ignis's encyclopediac recollection of ants, extracted the pheromone gland from the ant's mouth. Using it, she was able to create a convincing-to-ants illusory pheromonal disguise for the two of them. While she concrentrated, her focus split between the olfactory cover and an illusory light, Ignis led them into the anthill.
He was able to find and follow some worker ants carrying mushroom meal, which led him to the queen's chamber. Wary of her wagon-sized bulk and venom-laden guard, they followed an egg-carrying drone to a nursery chamber. Inside the nursery, they found a stash of eggs and larvae, as well as a horse-sized queen pupa with a guard of four dangerous-looking soldier ants.
Meanwhile, Klaitos and Ekkels stood guard at the exit to the garden art-dungeon. Ekkels spied an elongated form lurking outside the tower, passing before one of the arrow-slit windows.
Ignis and Robin stepped forward to offer some of his healing liquor, which was greedily accepted by the larva. He tried to back away slowly, but the guard ants advanced on him, sensing him removing the larva's food.
Opting for another tack, he simply continued to pour the alcohol as a queue of food-bearers formed around him. The larva eventually succumbed to the brew and collapsed, twitching. Its guards were suddenly on alert and began producing an alarm pheromone, causing the chamber of ants to grow agitated. Robin tried to trigger their rage by switching to the musky smell of the elongated creatures that captured her previously. Suddenly sensing an intruder, they lunged for Ignis, who deftly parried the venomous mandibles.
The two of them started escaping the anthill, cycling between alarm pheromones, disguise pheromones, and the smell of the elongated ones. Robin's focus was strained, and Ignis was forced to fight off more of the encroaching ants when their disguise slipped at the wrong moment. Eventually, they were able to find their way back out of the anthill.
They sprinted across the topiary room, Ignis dribbling a trail of alcohol behind him to lure more ants out of their nest. Robin, leery of yet another encounter with magebane, told him to soak a rag in it. She hurled the rag across the wicker-hill room before the pair began climbing to the rope bridge.
The party climbed back up to the ceiling stairwell, as the rope bridge bore a torrent ants following after the smell of intruders and flavorful alcohol. They raced past Ignis's discarded armor into the library to find it ostensibly deserted once more. Undeterred, they charged to the first mezzanine.
Robin grabbed ahold of the rope she had used to escape the second mezzanine and climbed rapidly, ascending just as one of the creatures undid the knot and let the rope fall to the floor below. Klaitos and Ignis attempted to climb the bookshelves, but found them to be unsuitable to bear their weight, and fell back to the mezzanine below.
As the ants climbed steadily towards the three of them, they decided to change their approach, and began racing around the room. They were able to outpace the ants and reach the bridge below the summer constellation, leading to the central column and the archway of menacing void. They climbed up to the next mezzanine. A hapless ant triggered the void archway below them, letting loose a psychic wave of terror that startled Klaitos into nearly falling. With the ants deterred by the void, the three of them were able to reach the second mezzanine once more.
Two rotations around the room, Robin evaded the attacks of the first elongated figure and lured the ants to her side with the alarm pheromone to do battle with the approaching hordes. A contingent of them left the swarm chasing after her party members and fought by her side, their venom and sharp mandibles effective weapons against the terrifying figures. However, they were soon outnumbered. Robin aided the eyeless ants by taking a page out of Kidritch's book, firing flashes of bright illusion to blind and dazzle the creatures.
Escaping the melee, she climbed back to the ceiling trapdoor. She found Heiras's weight to be holding shut the upper door, and woke her up with a startling illusory sound. She carefully helped the part-giant climb down to the second mezzanine.
Klaitos, Ignis, and Ekkels finally caught up to Robin and Heiras. Ignis offered her a draught of his healing liquor. While it wasn't enough to fix what had been done to her, it did restore enough stamina to let her move under her own power.
The party deliberated for a moment in the chaos of ant-against-creature warfare, realizing they were at a lack for a safe way back down and out of the tower. They decided to delve the remaining upper floors and climbed back up, sealing the trapdoor passage shut behind them.
Ignis, Ekkels, and Klaitos found themselves in the room of crackling pillars for the first time. Ahead of them, in the center of the field, lay an apparently-functional portal archway, leading somewhere dark. A tortured-looking figure was partway fused with one of the pillars, their face buried somewhere in its length, their limbs stretched to unsettling proportions.
As the spires crackled with power, Klaitos recognized them to be channeling potent chaos, and stepped back almost unconsciously to protect the aether orb he carried in his pack. Heiras noticed it and realized that they had found the core stolen from her ship.