I think it’s safe to say that the adventurers were surprised when nothing came out of the jungle in the night to try and eat them. By a quick reckoning, they realised in fact that it was the first time in a week (game time) that nothing had decided either that they would make a tasty meal or that they were trespassing in some way.
Given the escape of the Karrnathi Skeleton from the patrol, they were expecting Emerald Claw troops to descend on them under the cover of darkness, so there were definitely a few frown around the (virtual) table. My players have a strict policy of trying not to give me ideas however, so I haven’t been privy to the whispers on the chat channel – so I suspect an elaborate battle plan had been drawn up during down-time.
Instead, they debated about taking one of the two sets of enormous stairs rising into the main bulk of the temple, or investigating the enormous and slightly open doors nearest the dark elf village. They opted to go for the doors – partly to eliminate the possibility of something cutting off their escape route (how well they know me), and partly just in case the thing they were looking for was downstairs rather than at the top of the structure.
The doors were only slightly ajar, and were built for giants – so medium size creatures had to squeeze through carefully. Kurtis briefly checked beyond and found an enormous space on the other side, littered with dust and wreckage but with footprints leading further on. Rather than leave themselves open to ambush, they decided to force the doors open wider and then made their way further in. The smell of spoiling meat could be faintly detected as they approached another set of doors on the opposite room of the chamber, so Kurtis peered through, and thought he could see something metallic on the floor just inside.
Throwing caution to the wind, they forced these doors open too, and discovered half the body of an Emerald Claw soldier. They decided that the dark hallway needed more light, so cast illuminating spells, just in time to see an oncoming gargantuan scorpion that was rushing to attack them. Trapped here for hundreds of years, worshipped by the dark elves, the creature had eaten the lone Emerald Claw soldier, and was now merely famished.
The wide open doors meant that the scorpion was able to charge straight through at them, and Bumperklart took the brunt of its attack, surviving claw attacks and resisting its venom when stabbed by its stinger. A concerted counter attack killed it, but not without causing serious injury to the brave fighter. An application of healing spells later, and a search that turned up some old and rare treasures, and they found another set of sealed doors beyond that.
Looking at the map, they deduced that this was either a mirror to the first chamber, or the location of any staircase leading down. They set themselves to the task of unsealing the giant sized doors and their mechanisms, and Kurtis made it all look easy. Another set of concerted efforts, and the doors rumbled open, revealing the skeletons of five giants in ancient slab-sided armour.
These undead guardians rose to punish the non-giant intruders, looming over the adventurers at nearly three times their average height. Once more Bumperklart took the brunt of their initial assault, holding the open door space. Initially there was panic around the table, and the druids, clerics and mage began scouring their inventories for spells to cast and devices to use. The cleric’s attempt to turn the skeletons was foiled by their sheer size, and spells seemed less than effective against their supernatural vigour.
Still, they persevered, and I had the great experience of watch their journey from surprise and fear, through thoughs of flight and possible survival, to grim calculation, and then the dawn of hope as Bumperklart capitalised on the cumulative damage done by the spellcasters to run into the middle of them and execute a whirlwind attack. For two of the skeletons, this was too much, and they were destroyed. Sensing a possible change in tide, they battled on, throwing themselves into danger as meat shields to protect Bumperklart long enough for him to finish the job.
The victory came quickly, and the joy and relief on everyone’s faces was fantastic to see. They quickly secured a few valuable relics from the bodies and began to heal up, only to be disturbed by two cockatrices that had wandered into the area, looking in this newly opened chamber for somewhere to nest.
We stopped there, because I’m a kind and benevolent GM *cough*