How U Mine 4 Fish?

Into the Old Mushroom Kingdom Part 2

The Hand of Hextor makes his move

While Macronian contended with Maya Holdstein, Sig Ollivander mocked the fact Marria was a Halfling as to being the reason as to why her attempts to disintegrate the crushing wall trap failed, and cast two of his own to bypass the remainder of the pressing wall. While that was going on, however, a woman wearing an apron walked up to them. Her name was Velveeta, and she claimed to have woken up in one of the bunks rooms, where she did not originally sleep. While Velveeta didn’t know why she was here, it was likely for a reason, and she thought it was best to assist whomever she found till she could get home.

Back with Mac, Maya Holdstein made it clear (mostly when Zach made attempts to bring more potions of Spider Climb to the party) that she felt uncomfortable with bringing anymore people into the room other than Mac, and was willing to fight due to being threatened. With a little convincing, however, she was willing to allow at least two others to discuss matters with her. Maya explained that she intent on having her presence in this locale otherwise kept a secret, and that her being seen didn’t sit well with her…even though their appearance could possibly be of use. The door she was in front of was secured and trapped in such a way that she was otherwise hesitant to open, and should Mac be of proper use, she would be willing to allow them one of the artifacts held within. Otherwise, they would need to convince her they would be silent about her presence in order to walk away unscathed, because while she was certain they could overwhelm her, she also knew they couldn’t guarantee all of them leaving alive.

Making use of their telepathic bond, they party didn’t like the options presented to them, and figured if they really just wanted the treasure, they could simply defeat her and take all of it (especially if it was evil, for it was better in their hands than others). When the party took action, Maya was awaiting their possible betrayal, and her and the Nightwalker retaliated defesivly: Maya cast Air Walk and went to the ceiling, while the Nightwalker summoned Dread Wraiths. Maya was quickly held down by Marria with a Grasping Hand after she cast a Wall of Force over the floor of the trapped floor to allow access via walking. To keep Maya and Nightwalker held even longer, a Forcecage was cast around them by Velveeta.

With Maya and the Nightwalker believed to be cared for, Mac and Velveeta came in to deal with the door to the treasury. Aside from being locked and trapped, a ward was placed over it so that only one who could turn undead would be able to enter. Knowing this, Velveeta immediately dealt with the ward, after which Mac went through the process of opening the door. Maya was not finished however, for she was still able to fight with spells with verbal components only. While this was put a stop to with Silence from Alton Tealeaf and then Velveeta, the Nightwalker was still able to use its spell-like abilities, and managed to Dispel the Silence both times. Around this point the Dread Wraiths came in, but they were quickly dealt with due to the power of Velveeta. With the Grasping Hand keeping Maya from casting her magic, she ordered the Nightwalker to “send her home,” to which it was able to Plane Shift her before being dispatched by the party.

Within the treasury were four evil artifacts: a Book of Vile Darkness (trapped with Acid Fog), the Hand and Eye of Vecna, and the Sword of Kas (the item the party believed they would be given if they assisted Maya). They gathered the lot of the items and continued their search for a key to operate the bypass for the trap they found earlier. In one of the bunk rooms they found Shorty Biggins Ander Comby, who claimed to be here to wake up his Gnome ancestors. He was hesitant on helping the party, for Mac and Zach were with Marcus Longbottoms when two of his friends were killed by fellow party members. He was unwilling to be convinced, but Velveeta was able to Charm him and thus convince him to assist them, seeing as it would benefit both parties. In another room they found a fur suit believed to be of the Tanooki, a trickster raccoon known to masquerade as a beggar an take money from the unwary.

With no luck finding a key, Mac attempted to work the lock without it, and upon crossing the passage to test it, appeared as if his attempts succedded. He failed to noticed there was another trap past the trap he bypassed, and was crushed by an onrushing wall. The party was able to pull him out and heal him, and pass through the stone wall that now blocked their path with Stone Shape. Going deeper into the earth, a sickly green light began to fill the air, and the air became toxic to breath. It opened up into a huge open cavern, where a pool of acid wait below them. In the center of this pool was a single column with access via a very thin stone bridge. Upon it stood Bowser, King of the Koopas, and none other than Quincy up in the air upon a flying broom. They were both regarding a statue of a Gnome holding a rod, while Quincy was doing his best to convince Bowser to make a grab for the rod the next day (due to some unknown danger).

Velveeta presented herself and attempted diplomacy, though given she was asking to somehow awaken the Gnomes of old, Bowser was outright refusing to cooperate. Deliberation continued for awhile, and the party noticed that Bowser’s angry bursts were causing the thing bridge to break apart. Hoping to pull a fast one on the dragon, Sig teleported over to the statue holding the rod, almost getting himself killing by a trap, but getting the rod all the same. With the rod in his hand, Sig was immediately imparted knowledge about many of its powers, and aside from being a Rod of Rulership and Lordly Might, could Polymorph any object into something else once per day. Sig made quick use of this ability to turn a portion of the already unstable bridge into paper, which shattered the rest of the bridge, dropping Bowser into the acid below. While Bowser already had warding upon against the acid, it was not enough, and Quincy quickly rushed down to teleport the both of them away. Shorty expressed great dismay that someone other than a Gnome was holding the Rulership Rod of the Gnomish Lord, and demanded it be given him to him immediately. If all else, so that he could figure out how to awaken the Gnomes, for the rod was surely the key. The party resisted at first, but eventually relented, and found that when he held the rod he was given a mental message saying, “I am sleeping…awaken me…”

Beliving this had something to do with the statue the rod held, the party went as far to turn the stone back into flesh. This idea paid off, for the “statue” revealed himself to Willow, lord of the Svirfneblin (deep Gnomes). He asked “when” it was and if they were here because of the prophecy, and was quite dismayed at hearing there was only one sun in the sky. All the same, he asked to have his rod returned, which he then used to empty out the pool of acid below, revealing thousands of Gnome statues, which soon animated and began to walk up stairs that moved from the wall as well. While coming up to the surface to reestablish their homeland, talk of the four artifacts were had, and Willow reassured them that they could protect the items now that they were back for certain, and all four were returned to clerics under Willow’s command.

Back on the surface, the Cornerian army was facing off against ghosts from Smallville which traveled throughout the day, and the Gnomes immediately gave assistance. Soldiers gave word to the party that King Connery and Viktor were in danger, however, for the Hand of Hextor had somehow gotten into the castle. Viktor had placed a Prismatic Sphere at the entrance to the the throne room, but even that was bypassed somehow. Given that Errod Tour had Dimensionally Locked the throne room, guards were finding it difficult to assist their king. The party managed to quickly pass through the stone wall surrounding the entrance to the throne room via Stone Shape, just in time to see the Hand of Hextor strike down King Connery, Viktor already lying upon the floor dead. Assisting the Hand was a handful of ghosts along with Loard Kat.

The ghosts and Loard Kat did their duty to guard the Hand, but were dispatched quickly all the same (Loard once again disappearing as he did back in the Iron Giant). Meanwhile, the Hand rushed over to the cowering form of King Connery’s daughter Joanna, Disintegrated a portion of the wall with his shield, and pulled her through it with him. King Conner was quickly healed and Viktor True Resurrected from the dead, both of whom desperately asked them to save Joanna, the next in line for the kingdom.

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