Our last session left off with our group being rudely attacked by a pernicious female monk in the Temple of Shurizo. We pick up the action freshly after the battle. The most obvious problem lingering from the fight is that Shalelu is indicating that she can’t speak. Skizzik inspects her with an on-the-fly physical and determines that her throat is slowly closing. This would seem to be a serious problem, but Koya seems confident that Shalelu has several days yet before the curse should prove fatal. She puts Remove Curse on her spell to-do list, but there’s not much else we can do for Shalelu in the Temple.
We decide to move on to the north, finding ourselves in a large cemetery. This area seems quiet, though we identify the graves as likely belonging mostly to nobility. Jira finds a block of incense with Shizuru’s symbol, but it looks at first like this is the most interesting thing we’ll find in the cemetery. Rika flies up to identify a quick route through the cemetery without marching across someone’s grave. Alas, the quiet can only last so long and we are ambushed suddenly in the middle by a group of shadows. All of us (other than Penelope) recognize these incorporeal creepers as the same sort of shadows we fought before. That doesn’t mean, however, that we can prevent them from inflicting strength damage on Thom, Jira, and Penelope. Rika’s chain lightning and Skizzik’s bombs manage to cut them down before they can kill any of us.
As we move into the northern half of the cemetery, there seems to be strange dust in the air. We continue moving on until suddenly a 20-foot tall figure with red eyes that seems to be made out of gravestones stands up. Unfortunately, he isn’t here to take our pizza order, so we have to fight again. Rika weakens it mightily before Thom can finish it off his lance.
At last, we reach the end of the cemetery and are ready to the cross the bridge and move on to the next area. Thom and Porthos lead the way, and wind up being knocked backward while doubling over in pain. Porthos in particular looks incredibly bad. After a quick inspection, we notice the greater glyph of warding on the bridge. We suspect that it is designed to weaken anyone wanting to commune with the spirits. Rika isn’t having any of that nonsense and casts dispel magic on the glyph. After that, we are free to pass the bridge to an area that seems noticeably warmer.
Bypassing what looks like an elaborate stage for ceremonies, Jira opens the door to the building directly to the north, Inside, he finds himself face-to-grate with an anthropomorphic furnace. Yet again, the creature isn’t here to cook for us. Instead, the furance golum roars to life and smashes Jira in the face before eating him. Quickly, the group launches into attack against the living furnace. Shalelu and Penelope eventually pepper it to death with arrows and Thom is able to pull Jira’s crispier-than-usual form from the furnace.
While investigating the nearby storeroom, we decide to perform some healing before continuing on this not-so-friendly island. On the south side of this area of the island, we find a couple of crypts. Ameiko prays in the first one with Jira and Skizzik acting as guards. Nothing much happens, and nobody is particularly eager to enter the tomb itself. We move on to the other crypt, noticing that this one belongs to the Amatatsu family. When Ameiko prays here, a flash of light and a loud sound beckon the coming of a beautiful angelic ancestor of Ameiko’s.
After fighting tombstones and furnaces, we’re a bit on edge at first until the Tian spirit introduces itself as Amatatsu Onako and seems relatively friendly. We ask her how to go about gaining the blessings of the five families now that we’re here. She notes that this will likely prove impossible unless we can calm the spirit of Emperor Shigure (the last Emperor of Minkai) which is raging at the nearby mausoleum. She also mentions that to speak to the less benevolent spirits, we will likely have to confront the Well of Demons. As this seems particularly ominous, we decide to start with the mausoleum.
Thom leads the way across a zig-zagging bridge. Beneath us is some nasty-smelling water full of dead fish. On the other side is a garden that would probably seem more beautiful if Penelope weren’t able to sense great anger in the environment. On the other side of the garden, the mausoleum awaits. Somewhat nervously, we lay down our weapons and slowly enter the place. In the center, the specter of the Emperor awaits. To say he looks pissed off would be the understatement of the campaign to this point. We look to Thom as the most diplomatic member of our group, and he tries to speak respectfully with the specter. The Emperor mentions that his friends (including Soto Takahiro who has now become the Jade Regent) betrayed and lied to him. They desecrated his body, leaving his spirit too angry to pass on. Thom meekly attempts to appease the Emperor and asks how we might find his body so that we can properly bury him, but the Emperor is too ticked off and decides to attack us. The Emperor is such an intimidating force that he manages to intimidate the majority of the group into running pell-mell in all directions. Even Rika and Thom flee in supernatural fear. This leaves only Koya, Sandru, Jira, Penelope, and Skizzik to duel with the specter. After a surprisingly heroic display from Sandru, Skizzik finishes off the incensed Emperor with a fire bomb.
We know that the Emperor’s ghost won’t stay truly vanquished for long, however, and that we will need to find his body if we want any shot at securing his family’s blessing. Our next step (after the scared members of the group return) is to figure out where to find the body. Koya performs a divination ritual, asking that exact question. We learn that, unfortunately, the body lies at the Bottom of the Well of Demons (because who could’ve seen that coming, right?). We opt to leave Ameiko and the rest of the NPCs behind at the Amatatsu crypt, as it seems safer than anywhere else on this dangerous island. The five of us venture on to the Well of Demons.
Looking down into the pit gives everyone the most curious falling sensations. We start to walk down the spiral pathway that leads slowly into the pit. The sensation keeps messing with us. While Rika and Thom are able to maintain their bearings, the others eventually fall over the edge. Thom’s feather fall slows his descent. Penelope’s ability to walk on water makes it so she falls prone on the water’s surface at the bottom, and Jira splashes into the drink in such a way that would win him no Olympic Diving Golds.
While Rika and Thom hurry to continue their descent, the rest of us only have time to catch our breath before three rancid-smelling ooze creatures rise up in the water and attack us. We had no way of knowing before the battle started how much we would grow to hate these things, but this would prove a vicious fight. It takes us a few moments to realize that being in water heals these creatures almost as quickly as we can damage them. A couple manage to grab Jira and start to drown him in nasty ooze. Skizzik initially has trouble flying out of the water because one is pulling him back with his brain. Rika finally flies down the pit to assist us.
Penelope has perhaps the least luck with her arrow shooting that she’s ever had, and one of the oozes envelops Jira in a dense and painful acid cloud that makes it impossible to see. The fight continues, Skizzik chucking bomb after bomb while Rika uses up her spells and Thom finds himself unable to help from 70 feet up on a cliff. Skizzik manages to confuse the oozes, but unintentionally prompts them to start threatening to sodomize his grandparents in Abyssal (among other such heinous acts). Rika finally pulls out the big guns, using a Hungry Darkness Spell to envelop them in darkness while Skizzik finally spots Jira nearing the edge of the acid cloud. Jira falls unconscious just before he can escape, but Skizzik pours a cure critical down his throat so that he is able to wake up and swim to shore. The darkness finally rips the remaining oozes apart and our beaten and broken group decides to retreat. Those of us with the ability to fly up the cliff do so. Thom then throws down a rope to Penelope so she can follow us. We make our way back to the rest of the group, overcome by exhaustion and ready to sleep for the night.
The next morning, our bad luck continues. Skizzik has somehow developed a horrendous fever. Koya diagnoses him a particularly nasty case of greater demon fever. She manages to remove Shalelu’s throat curse, but can’t seem to figure out Skizzik’s fever yet. For now, she’s able to use restoration on him and relieve his symptoms for the day. However, our gnome pyromaniac is in trouble if this fever continues. Our group could surely benefit from some R&R far away from angry emperors, murderous furnaces, and god-forsaken oozes, but evil does not rest. And while it’s hard to say how our heroes will fare in our next session against the horrors of the Well of Demons, that’s exactly what we’ll find out next time.