Our heroes rested up and continued their journey through the Mardak Desert. After a few hours of walking, the party got caught in a vicious sandstorm. Seeking shelter, Aust (formerly Ost, a misspelling of the Sorcerer’s name) guided the party through survival instinct to a nearby pyramid, the only structure in sight. Using the tents, Bardy’s followers kept safe from the storm in the alcove of the pyramid’s entrance. The rest of the party proceeded into the pyramid to explore.
Upon entering the first chamber, the room caved in, as the ceiling was highly unstable. Bardy’s Scout and Aust’s Barbarian escaped the debris and managed to un-bury everyone, including an unconscious Aust, who was subsequently healed by Alex. After Alex patched up the rest of the wounded, the party proceeded through a narrow hallway, triggering a Chain Lightning proximity trap. The barbarian took the brunt of the damage, while the rest of the party evaded the lightning and took minimal to no damage (in the case of Morak and the Scout, who completely evaded the lightning). They entered the room at the end of the hallway, and were sealed in the room by a Forcecage. A Janni appeared, but was easily dispatched by Morak and the Barbarian who flanked it. Upon killing the Janni, the Forcecage disappeared.
The next hallway had a fairly steep downward slope to it. Morak decided to search the hall for traps, and he found two pressure plates that, if stepped on, would lock the back doors and flood the hall and previous room with water, causing them to drown to death over time. The party jumped over the plates, and avoided the trap. At the end of the hall, Morak picked a mechanical lock, but suffered from a strength-damaging poison that coated it. Alex fixed up his ability damage with a Restoration spell.
The party then entered the central chamber of the pyramid, where they encountered five Lamias. Bardy opened the fight with a Haste spell, and he proceeded to play his inspiring music and fire shots at the Lamias in subsequent rounds. The Barbarian charged at one of the Lamias, causing it to draw blood. Aust then shot the same Lamia with a Ray of Enfeeblement, which weakened the Lamia and made it an easy picking for the Barbarian. Morak tumbled around one of the Lamias, and flanked it with Alex to finish it off. The remaining Lamias attempted to use their spell-like abilities to subvert and fool the party. Two used Mirror Image to create copies of themselves, and one managed to put Morak into a magical slumber. By striking the illusions, the party swiftly determined the real Lamias and killed them until one remained. The remaining one then tried to charm and bargain with the PCs.
Aust and Bardy saw opportunity here, and they agreed to spare the Lamia if he agreed to tell them about what awaited them in the pyramid and if he agreed to help them finish off the Sphinxes guarding the treasure room. Grudgingly, the Lamia consented, on the condition that he take five percent of the treasure. He told the party a password to bypass the Symbol of Pain, Symbol of Insanity, and Symbol of Persuasion that guarded three magical runes that needed to be activated to reach the Treasure Chamber. The party and their new unlikely ally then proceeded to the chamber.
The chamber instantly grew dark, as the Sphinxes hid and struck out at the party from unknown angles. Morak lit a torch, enabling the humans to see out a bit and enabling the elves to perceive most of the room. In a short battle, the Lamia took many blows from the Sphinxes, but he survived and the Sphinxes fell to the party’s combined force. The Lamia then took his five percent and made his way out of the pyramid through a back exit. The party then waited out the sandstorm and regrouped with Bardy’s followers, who were concerned for their safety after hearing the initial cave-in.
The group decided to rest until the following night. They then walked to the Temple of Boccob after a few more hours. The Temple was built into the side of a small mountain in the desert, and its entrance was surrounded by statues of ancient, powerful mages from the past. The party was greeted by Jaden, a half-dragon (brass) Cleric of Boccob who ran the temple. Alex spoke with him and presented her holy symbol, so that Jaden knew she was a follower of “The Way.” Jaden welcomed the travelers to the Temple, and the party explained their situation. Jaden said that they could and should use the Altar in the Temple to open the Tome of Understanding, but he warned them that neither Boccob nor his followers would allow just anyone to have the knowledge bound in the book. He assured them that while undergoing the process of opening the book, Boccob would test their strength as a group. He urged the party to rest and prepare, as a difficult fight lies just ahead of them.