6th Kuthona Midday
After recovering from the fight against the hollow Munn, Taber leaned over the railing to take a look down at the surgery below. He could see neat rows of alchemical gear lining most of the walls, in between 3 dark, stained glass windows, each positioned in the middle of the south, east and west walls. Dingy white tiles lined the floor. In the southeastern corner of the room was a towering glass cylinder, containing some sort of yellowish fluid. Standing near the eastern window was an amalagamtion of tubing, wire, steel, and glass vats, filled with what looked to be offal held in an oily liquid the colour of decaying vegetation, that seemed to be an inanimate golem of some sort. Ignoring the elevator, the group prepared ropes, and climbed down onto the surgery table. As soon as feet touched the floor in the room, the golem moved over to the glass cylinder, and smashed it, revealing the contents inside to be an ochre jelly, which spread out and began attacking the ex-amnesiacs. Despite it splitting several times, it and the alchemical golem were shortly overcome.
Investigations of the surgery revealed a magical trap behind one of the stained glass windows, which Cailyn was able to nullify. Another of the stained glass windows was found to be covering a secret tunnel, lined with paving stones, leading down into the bedrock. Rather than investigate this tunnel or the elevator, the group decided to clear out the rest of the upper floors first, and used the elevator to re-ascend to the main building, and then climbed to the first floor above.
The room at the top of the stairs consisted of the entire floor, including another set of stairs to further floors above. The room itself appeared to be some sort of study, with many books and curios lining shelves around the room, a desk and stuffed chair in one corner, and a small table in another. In the middle of each of the walls was an unnerving-looking painting. Having already discovered a pair of traps, Cailyn cautiously looked about the room, and discovered that they were all magically trapped. After falling prey to the first two enchanted paintings while trying to render them inert, Cailyn decided to burn the rest, to avoid any further issues. The first had cursed her, and the second had inflicted a drowning sensation on her. Searching the rest of the room, and group found a safe, which Cailyn proceeded to try and open. Despite examining it first, she did not notice the poison needle trap, and upon trying to open the safe, was inflicted with purple worm venom. After completing the task, the group collected the wealth inside, and retired to Casomir for the rest of the day to recover.
7th Kuthona Morning
Venturing back into the infirmary, the group found little had changed since their previous foray. Lekovi, wondering what else lay above them, attempted to detect thoughts. He was able to detect what seemed to be a depressed mind, going over and over things it had had done wrong. The group then ascended back to the study, and mounted the stairs there to the level above. On the second floor, they found a gruesome laboratory. Dozens of books, jars, and glass containers on nearly every horizontal surface contained chemicals, unidentifiable sludge the dissected bodies and alien-looking parts of creatures, and a rainbow of various slimes, molds, and fungi. Some of the largest containers were draped with a thick brown cloth. The overpowering stench of bleach, ammonia, and other unidentifiable chemicals filled the air. However, the thing to immediately get the group's attention were the pair of horrible figures in the room. The figures both looked like nothing more than scarecrows, only instead of being made of discarded clothing, they appeared to be constructed from flayed skins stretched over wicker frames, stuffed with straw. As the group began to attack these creatures, they seemed to fall apart quickly and easily, but flying out of the straw came swarms of demonic wasps, stinging with abyssal venom. Although the group was able to defeat all of these creatures in the end, several were weakened or overcome by the venom, and the group decided to withdraw to rest and seek healing.
Before leaving, they looted the laboratory of many alchemical items. During the search, the group also found a leather pamphlet, written in Kelish, describing the Mysterium, a library in Katheer. Several covered jars proved to contain the eviscerated and dissected flesh and bones of an old man, the upper torso and head of a ghoul, and the spine, head and one wing of an insectoid fungal creature of some sort. The search also turned up two other items of interest.
The first was a sealed brass and translucent green glass bottle that contained what appeared to be a human brain. A curved horn made from metal and ivory sprouted from the top of the bottle, and a brass nameplate was stamped onto its base that read “A. Weigs.” Periodically, the horn emitted the quiet sound of whispered lullabies, but efforts to communicate with the brain proved fruitless.
The second was a large glass jar, in the corner of the lab. The jar contained a fluid, and swirling constantly within it was what seemed at first to be some strange, amorphous sea creature, but after some examination, proved to be instead a whole, flayed human skin, somehow animated within the fluid preserving it. The face on the skin was noticed to be attempting to form words every time it swirled past, and Lekovi used magic to communicate with it. The conversation revealed the creature to only know itself as Number 61. It was a failed experiment of Munn's, produced in his attempts to produce the Hollow Ones, like the creature the group had met when first entering the infirmary.
Number 61 told the group how it had overheard Lowls and Mun plan here. It knew they were heading to the Mysterium in Katheer, and that they were concerned about the guards there. Lowls eventually decided that bribery would be the best method to get in. Their goal was to steal a book called the Necronomicon from a part of the library called the Soul. Lowls greatly desired the book and the secrets within, claiming it would restore his reputation in Ustalav and bring him unspeakable success and fame. He kept talking about the library and the dangerous wards in the Soul of the Mysterium. He also spoke fearfully of the Mysterium’s guardian, a being known only as the Keeper. Although he didn’t know what the guardian was, he was very worried that he might end up meeting it and not be able to complete his mission in the library. Lowls also spoke about contacting his old friend, the gnoll slaver Biting Lash, in Okeno to help organize a trip to find the hidden city and acquire slaves and hirelings to serve as porters and guards, but seemed to regard the slaver with some amount of fear and trepidation. The pair then gathered a number of objects here and from other places in the infirmary before leaving the hollow ones in charge of the place. Number 61 also told of what Mun called his “anomalous friend.” in the attic, but did not know any more about it.
After this talk, Number 61 revealed that he wished to be put out of his misery. The group agreed, and followed his instructions to add a chemical to his jar, which then stilled Number 61's motion, and his skin slowly floated to the bottom of its container. As the group moved to leave, Taber noticed that there was a concealed trap door in the ceiling. A little searching around revealed that there was a ladder leading to the hatch, and that the ladder had been made invisible. Much excitement ensued, as the group envisioned all sorts of uses for an invisible ladder. The conversation continued, as the group left to find healing.
8th Kuthona Morning
After a refreshing night's sleep, and the application of many healing magics, the group again returned to the the old infirmary (also armed with several new purchases), and ascended again to the laboratory, and then Taber and River climbed the invisible ladder to the third story. In this area, the group found another ladder, leading up to the attic, and another Hollow One, sitting on the bottom rung, sobbing. The rest of the floor seemed to contain nothing but curtains draped about the room, hung from various cords. Closer examination, however, revealed the curtains to be to be scores of skins, taken in unimaginable agony judging by the looks on the faces that wafted eerily in an unseen breeze.
After talking to the Hollow One for a short time, River and Taber were attacked by unseen assailants. Calling for assistance, the pair were repeatedly hit in vital spots by projectiles, from various places about the room. Taber began slashing down the cords holding up the skins, trying to reveal their assailants. The rest of the group climbed, and flew up the ladder, and began assisting. Shortly, a Derro spellcaster was found hiding among the skins, and later, a second, female derro vivisectionist was discovered. The Hollow One also joined in the fight after being injured. After a drawn-out and vicious battle, the derros and Hollow One were destroyed, but at a cost to the group's health and resources. They ventured on, and once again climbed upward.
The group this time arrived in the large, open attic of the infirmary. In the shadows at the peak of the roof, the group found the source of the ivy that had spread over the walls of the stone building. However, the ivy here in the attic was clearly not very healthy, showing itself to be twisted and malformed, with putrid yellow berries sprouting like cancerous growths between the leaves. As the group examined this strange vegetation, Taber spied something hiding up amongst the ivy near the ceiling. Calling a warning, the group reacted to the threat, and the plant growth around them immediately thickened, and began grasping at their feet. The creature above proved to be an immature Dark Young of Shub-Niggurath, a betentacled horror. The thing attempted to strangle and drain the vitality from several in the group, before they were able to destroy the aberration.
Once again, despite having arrived relatively fresh, the group retreated from the infirmary to recover again, after having retrieved a chest of riches from within the remains of the ivy. The chest proved to also contain the deed to the infirmary.
10th Kuthona Morning
Finished with the heights of the infirmary, the ex-amnesiacs this time descended back to the surgery, and then climbed down the hidden tunnel. The tunnel evened out after narrowing, and the group squeezed their way through, and emerged in a gigantic, lightless cavern, hung with chains. A rickety wooden walkway ran around the rocky walls, and the bottom of the cavern was filled to an unknown depth with murky water. A crowd of nearly two dozen derros were here, half of them arrayed on the walkway, and half hanging from the chains, all alerted to the group's approach by their light sources.
A great battle broke out, with a number of the derros firing crossbows at the ex-amnesiacs, while others attempted to engage them up close. Lekovi, thinking quickly, employed a large illusion, making the chains appear to have turned into snakes. This caused the Derros hanging from them to drop to the water below. In retaliation, a number of them unleashed bursts of sound at the group as they clustered in the entrance tunnel. Several of the derros proved to be adept at hitting vital spots, firing crossbows while hiding under the water, to avoid attacks from a flying Taber. River and Cailyn cleared the walkway of Derro, while Taber, Scorcher and Lekovi devestated the swimmers. Shortly, all was quiet again in the cavern, except for the rattling of chains, and the flow of water down the giant hole at the end of it.
After recovering from their wounds, the group next followed the walkway along, and found a short, doored corridor that led into another vaulted room, this one hewn from the rock rather than natural, and about half the size of the cavern. At the end of this large chamber was a door similar to that leading to the elevator in the surgery above. Guarding the room, aware of the group's approach, were a pair of derros, riding what appeared to be gigantic centipede-like creatures. They charged at the group, stabbing at them, and then moving back, and lobbing bombs. At one point, one of the mounts pulsed with bright, strobing blue lights, which confused some of the group, and one of the riders. After yet another struggle, the ex-amnesiacs prevailed. The old infirmary belonging to Miacknian Munn had been cleared of threats. After licking their hurts, the group retreated one final time to their accomodation, before joining the sailing vessel scheduled to take them to Katheer with the morning tide.
Following an uneventful two month journey, the group disembarked at the bustling metropolis of Katheer, one of the greatest cities in the known world. A sprawling mass of glittering buildings, side-by-side with ancient creations that struggled to remain standing. By comparison, Cassomir was a village. Thousands of vessels plied the river, darting in and out of Katheer’s port. Countless laborers, sailors, and merchants infested the port, and in places the river was so thick with boats that it almost seemed possible to cross it without getting wet feet.
The group first searched the city for a Doctor Anya Chawaar, sister to the unfortunate Doctor Arosh Chawaar of Briarstone, who's notes the group had recovered shortly after first awakening. Doctor Chawaar was greatful for the return of her brother's notes, and rewarded the group with a large sack of gold. The group next looked for information about the Mysterium. Although not well-known, they were eventually able to discover that the building was a library, and a place of study and instruction, located in the University District of the city. Travelling there, the group was able to locate the building, but also heard rumours about how the Mysterium had been locked down, thanks to the actions of a group foreign thieves triggering something terrible within. The group spoke to the guards at the Mysterium, but were turned back, and directed to speak with the present master of the library, Elder Lythiin. They were able to find the Elder, at her offices near the Mysterium.
Elder Thyrr proved to be an older woman, walking with the aid of a stick, and speaking in a soft voice. She was clearly out of her depth, and had no way of dealing with whatever had happened in the Mysterium. After talking to the group for a short time, and asking them about what they wanted, and why, she made an obvious and deliberate decision to ask for their help in resolving things. She revealed that her previous superior, Elder Lythiin, was the real expert on the library. Elder Lythiin, however, had entered the Mysterium after a group of foreign thieves had triggered the institutions magical wards almost a month prior. Something had caused the wards, which were supposed to summon axiomites to defend the knowledge within, to instead summon terrifying hound-like creatures, which Lekovi was able to identify as Hounds of Tindalos. Despite their abilities, the Hounds had remained within the Mysterium. Lythiin and a contingent of guards had eventually entered the Mysterium to deactivate the wards, but had not been heard from since. Thyrr, now with no way of dealing with the wards or creatures, had sealed off the Mysterium, hoping a solution would present itself. She now offers to trade access to the Necronomicon for the ex-amnesiac's help in shutting down the wards.
The group readily agreed, and Thyrr provided what information she could about the defences – mainly that the layout of the library may have changed internally, and could interfere with teleportation magics. She also informed them that shutting down the wards required venturing into the depths of the building, to the level that contained the Soul — a chamber at the very core of the library — to find an angel statue without eyes, and insert their fingers into the eye sockets. A tolling bell would signify the wards had been successfully reset. Elder Thyrr told them that once they were let in, the guards would seal the outer door, and the PCs would be allowed out only after the bell tolled, signaling that the Mysterium was once again safe.
To navigate the library, Elder Thyrr instructed the group that on each level of the Mysterium they needed to find four different angelic statues with heads that swivel. These heads must be turned to face the walls they stand before, and once they are all properly manipulated, the gateways between the different levels of the library can be opened. Thyrr warned the ex-amnesiacs of some lingering dangers in the lower levels of the Mysterium. She told how the last time the Mysterium’s wards were triggered (nearly a hundred years ago), many Nethysians and other scholars were killed; their lasting psychic impressions had been known to rear up at times in bizarre and dangerous manifestations when people were studying in the lower levels of the Mysterium. Those who ventured to the lower levels frequently knew to look out for these manifestations, and some even studied accompanied by a priest to have a greater chance at combating them. Many of these manifestations were purged, but there were still numerous haunts that the clergy hasn’t been able to figure out how to permanently get rid of. She also warned that some of these existing haunts might have warped and changed, much like the summoned guardians. She demanded that before she allowed the group to enter that they swore on whatever they held dear to find and secure Elder Lythiin or his body. She asked that one of them say a prayer over any Nethysian bodys they find, and to wrap them in funerary cloths that she provides. She promised in return to allow them unfettered access to the library for a week and provide them a cash reward.
Elder Thyrr lastly told the group of a spherical chamber in the ceiling of the Mysterium’s first level, built into the body of the pyramid. This chamber was used by priests who meditate in complete darkness while levitating, but Elder Thyrr believes that the chamber might provide protection from the guardian hounds of Tindalos if the PCs need a place where they can rest or retreat to.
After a short shopping trip for additional supplies, the group returned to the Mysterium, and Elder Thyrr bade the guards unseal the door. They removed the 3 sets of 3-inch-thick iron bars, lashed to chains to the circular door, taking almost a minute to remove the protection. They then unlocked the lock, with an unsettling grinding noise, and opened the door. Practically pushing the group in, the guards then set about sealing them in. The group could hear the bars being replaced behind them.
Beyond the door stretched a long hallway, branching quickly to the left and right, and continuing off into the distance ahead of them through another crossroad, eventually ending at a last t-junction, almost 80 feet distant. In the main corridor ahead, a number of doors branched off the main corridor. The walls of the outer corridors were also lined with shelves, each crammed full of books. Each of the doors was wooden, and carved with dozens of faces, depicting a wide range of moods. Angelic figures graced the architecture in many locations, holding aloft keystones, dancing as sconces, and lurking in corners. All were made of white marble, hued like sickly honey, thanks to a skin of pollution from smoke and dust.
Almost immediately upon moving forward, the group heard the clicking of claws on stone, and the baying of hounds approaching. 4 hounds attacked the group, in two pairs. After closing with the group, the hounds then began to step in and out of angles in the walls, appearing in other angles far distant, to confuse the group's melee fighters. After a short struggle, though, the hounds were slain. As each died, they erupted in a frenzy of ripping entrails, breaking bones, and a terrible shriek that sounded like tearing metal.
As River healed the group's wounds, Cailyn moved forward to the doors in the first segment of hallway, looking for traps, and searching the small study rooms revealed. Shortly afterwards, the group was again assailed by a group of four hounds, running around many different corners in the hallways. Again, the group was able to dispatch the beasts relatively quickly, but this time, they inflicted significant damage on the spellcasters in the group, downing Scorcher. After the pack was again wiped out, River again applied healing magic to the group, greatly depleting his stored energy. And again, as the group approached the central intersection of hallways, they were again assaulted by a pack of four hounds.
Although the hounds were again dispatched, this time, the cost was Cailyn's life. In a barely-controlled panic, Taber spotted a concealed hatch in the ceiling above the central intersection, and a short search revealed a ladder to reach it. The group climbed up, River throwing Cailyn's body over his shoulder, her former Rhino companion being left behind. The hatch proved to lead to the spherical meditation chamber Elder Thyrr had described, and the group spread out what bedding they had, and rested to recover their strength again. River used a purchased scroll to return Cailyn's soul to her body, doing what he could to reduce the debilitating effects.