The next few sessions played out without archival, so this Adventure Log will be an abridged version of events without the last one’s formatting.
The next session pretty much picked up where the last one left off, with the group completing the Ritual of Welcoming. Each of the 8 pillars they had activated glowed and hummed, until the entire room gave off a burst of bright light. When everyone could see again, the 9th pillar, the one surrounded by the other 8, had doors on every one of its four sides. Entering one, the group found themselves in a chamber with an alter surrounded by Jing Statues, the Magic Mouth’s Den. It was here that they made two important discoveries. The first was the function of the Praying Jing Statue which, for a tithe, allowed a cleric to commune with their chosen diety without Jing’s interference. The second, however, was meeting the Magic Mouth of Jing, a pair of cherry-red lips that spoke in a mousey voice and with an all too familiar tone.
“To Compete the Ritual of Welcoming, one of you must Volunteer!” It cried out.
The one who chose to volunteer was Revan, the Drow from a distant world. It led to his demise, as his body was inflated until it exploded outward into small chunks. Each of the surviving members of the party were asked to put a item precious and important to them on the alter itself. Rhys put his Claymore, Sresh his Spellbook, and Oswin his Pistol. At the Magic Mouth’s bidding, they also put the largest bit they could find of Revan, his Left Hand on the alter.
The Magic Mouth harvested Revan’s soul and broke it into four chunks, infusing each of the four objects with one fourth of the soul’s mystical, new-agey energy. Each of the four objects became Jing Items, unique magical items that grow in power as the user they are bonded to does. It was at this point that the Magic Mouth also restored Revan’s body, putting all the pieces back together, but with a new soul and a set of memories leading up to the moment he volunteered (But not how he died). The revelation that he either was an entirely new person, or had an entirely new soul appeared to be jarring for Revan, as was the fact that his now-magical left arm seemed to talk at invonvenient intervals.
With the demise of Rrressa last time, the group at this point chose not to return to the Kobold Caverns, and instead attempted to navigate out one of the other doors in the Welcoming Chamber. This ended up being a back entrance to the Sanctum of Jing, the place where Jing’s Cultists once gathered to worship him, before it was abandoned. The group discovered that Ulrich Von Clevenstien’s force of enslaved adventurers were put to work here digging the entire place apart, forced by the Gnashteeth Orcs who were allied with Clevenstien’s occupation forces. Their goal: to discover the underpinning functionality of the Temple itself by tearing it apart, as well as to find one of the the hidden Vaults of Jing, of which there was one for each Grande Level.
The group chose to retreat, but not before liberating three slaves, who seemed to be of the same world as Oswin. Sadly, they were from different countries that were at war with one another. Oswin began mistreating them, as per the jingoistic nationalism streak instilled in him as part of being a State Alchemist.
They made camp in the Welcoming Chamber. This turned out to be a bad idea, as more Giant Spiders attacked them during the night. The two slaves they had set out to guard them both failed their perception checks, resulting in the party having to deal with giant spiders while being unarmored. This was especially disadvantageous to Rhys, who had spent the entire night in the throes of passion with the third slave, whom he and the rest of the group had dubbed Bitch Boy since they never bothered to learn his name. Bitch Boy was the only survivor of the three rescued slaves, having killed a spider with the pickaxe he once used to dig up the Sanctum.
Injured badly by spider attacks, the group decided to limp back to the Kobold Caverns, where they’d have to apologize to King Lickabutt the VIII for the death of Rrressa, but hopefully could rest in a modicum of safety. This worked out pretty well for them, as the group was able to convince Lickabutt that Rrressa’s death was due to enemy action and not their own failings. The king of the Lickspits, for whatever reason, chose to continue working with them. The group spent several days among the kobolds, healing and resting. It was during this time that Rhys learned of the northern parts of the Kobold Caverns, which the kobolds had sealed off long ago due to a Monster Infestation, and which they now called The Dungeon. At the prodding of Celeste, the mysterious elven translator for the Kobolds, he offered King Lickabutt a deal to clear out the Dungeon in exchange for a payment of gold, and King Lickabutt’s private promise to give Rhys an object of power that the tribe had kept secret.
The Dungeon turned out to be infested with Fire Beetles, Stirges, and a Half-Mad owlbear that had eaten Fire Beetles for so long it had started to mutate to become more like them. The group dealt with the first two sets of foes handily, and met a friendly pseudodragon named Thaddeus, who offered them tea and seemed to be chronicling and studying the monsters inside The Dungeon. While in The Dungeon, the four of them also encountered their first Riddling Jing Statue, and opted to take the Game of Riddles, a challenge where the group had to solve at least six out of ten riddles in a half an hour of Real World Time or face a penalty of ambiguous nature. Upon their success, the party met an illusory projection of a Sphinx, who bestowed upon them the Title of Honary Spinxes, and with it protection against all Riddling creatures in the Temple itself. He also encouraged them to seek him out on the lower levels of the dungeon, and suggested they continue walking the path of riddles, to learn the Ultimate Riddle, one of the only Defenses against Jing himself. After this, the group recruited Thaddeus to help them slay the Owlbear, which nearly killed the scholarly Pseudodragon. The fight left the entire party injuried (Save for Celeste, who had been tagging along to heckle and observe the group), and left Thaddeus at a single hit point.
Then Oswin shot Thaddeus, killing him instantly.
This led to the first feud within the party. Oswin’s actions weighed heavily on Rhys, who had grown fond of Thaddeus during their short time together, seeing the intelligent sapient creature as almost like a pet. In a flash of rage, he struck at Oswin, assisted by Revan, who had also developed a kinship with the creature. Szeth stayed neutral in the fight, tending to the unconscious body of Bitch Boy. “Despite” Szeth’s best efforts, Bitch Boy passed away from his owlbear inflicted wounds. At the same time, Rhys and Revan had killed Oswin, and Rhys beheaded him.