This session may be the easiest one so far to describe. In-game, the session took place over the course of twenty days or so, from the 1st of December in the year 916 (Imperial Calendar) to the 20th of December, with pretty much all of the action taking place on the 5th, as the adventuring company finally delved down into the next sub-level of Shade Abbey, area 1B, the Temple of Spiritual Devotions. This area seemed to be a kind of proving-ground or series of trials for Abbey Monks in training, consisting of a series of riddles and puzzles all sequestered off in their own rooms.
The party made the three-day trip from Dämmendell by wagon back south to Shade Abbey, arriving there on the evening of the 4th. On the morning of the 5th, they went inside and found that the large central rooms of the first floor had been occupied by a small tribe of hobgoblins. Connor hobnobbed with the hobgoblins and made friends; the party learned that the mysterious creature in the shadows guarding the stairs down to the next level was in fact a vampire named Edmund.
After some hesitation, the adventuring company ventured downstairs to confront Edmund (at area 1B.1). There, they found a pasty, angsty teenaged lad with poofy hair who informed them that they were welcome into the Temple of Spiritual Devotions if they could get past him. Henrik answered with a combustion bomb, and Edmund let them pass, retreating to his coffin to recover.
The party moved through the next few areas in level 1B until they came to area 4, the Hall of the Golden Calf; the maze there delayed the party for a good long while, since only Connor deigned to explore the dwarf-sized labyrinth-passages at first, and he went about this with extreme caution, tying a rope to himself and never venturing beyond its reach, and always slowly checking for traps and mapping the whole way. This tedium dragged on for white a while to no avail; only the closest few passages were mapped, and they didn’t seem to go anywhere anytime soon. Connor was fighting rats in this maze, but once he spotted the shadow of what must have been some kind of dwarf-sized minitaur (ha-ha), the company decided to explore elsewhere.
The explored the Hall of Isles at area 6 and solved the riddles of the Hall of Cards at area 8; the King of Cards in the secret room there dealt cards out form a deck of many things. Henrik and Deliah chose not to pull cards; Connor earned enough experience that he’ll be able to level twice and might just be level six two games from now; Klaus also sort of broke even, getting a fat XP bonus and a free level of his own out of the deal, but he also got slapped with a permanent penalty to saving throws against turn-to-stone (which may or may not have been cured by overdosing on some anti-petrification medicine a short time later).
Viktor came away with a pile of bling and a couple of wishes, both of which got wasted to no effect. (“I wish for everyone in our party to go up a level!” zapped them all back up to level 1A of the dungeon. “I wish for everyone in our party to go up a character level!” caused them to be teleported to precisely their own height, spilling them all three-to-six-feet back to the ground in an awkward tumble. Yuk-yuk.)
And Gibli… poor Gibli. He pulled a bad card. Not one of the really terrible ones that just takes you out of the campaign forever. This was one of the bad cards that takes you out of the campaign if the ref is in a bad mood; otherwise it’s just a great inconvenience. The card left Gibli’s body comatose while his soul was sent “elsewhere”. I determined that “elsewhere” would be room 19 of this very dungeon-level, the “Hall of Heads.” The King of Cards snickered that they could all find Gibli’s soul if they “kept their heads about them, took care not to lose their heads, got ahead in life, etc., etc.” For the most part, though, they wound up stuffing Gibli’s body into the bag of holding and trusting that his heart-rate was now low enough that he wouldn’t need that much oxygen. (Don’t worry, they aired out the bag between encounters to make sure he was still breathing.)
That lasted until they found a treasure-cache in another room where piles of copper coins basically filled up their bag of holding; they had to carry Gibli the old-fashioned way after all. (You know, because treasure is a priority in these situations.)
Anyway, the party passed through the next set of rooms—the riddles of the statues, blade, and nun at areas 9, 10, and 11. Beyond room 11 was a sort of back hallway with some store-rooms, nothing too interesting there, and a suite of rooms belonging to one of the ranking abbey priests, Canon Voth. They killed the canon and took his stuff, and they found two interesting clues among the papers in his study: 1, the possible location of a Starshrine atop Thunder Table; and B, a letter indicating that high-ranking monks Abbot Mokor and Inquisitor Tyroelius were off visiting “Shade Abbey’s northern stronghold”, wherever that might be.
At this point, the party was starting to really worry about Gibli, so Deliah asked her new familiar—an adorable (and still unnamed) puppy which is the personified spirit of her Signature Spell, charm person. The puppy sniffed at Gibli’s body to catch a whiff of soul (“Not the nicest soul I’ve ever smelt,” the familiar commented of the recently ex-Chaotic thief); then, like a bloodhound, he followed the trail to room 19, the Hall of Heads.
Therein, the company found various museum displays of heads in strange positions and configurations. They didn’t pay much attention to these; game-time in the real world was running short by now, and the party was more taken with what they found in the center of the room: a beholder of some kind guarding an obviously magical sword on a pedestal. The beholder-kin told them that they’d better not take its shiny sword, or they’d face its wrath. They weren’t really willing to face wrath at the moment; they just asked if they could have Gibli’s soul back, please. “Yeah, sure, you can take that,” said the monster. They found a mana stone near one of the head-displays, from which Connor was able to conjure Gibli’s soul back into his body.
Gibli woke up debilitated (0 hit points, but no physical wounds); the party retreated from the dungeon and went back to Dämmendell at that point. They traveled over the course of the 6th, 7th, and 8th of December. On the morning of the 9th, Connor started training himself up to 5th level as a druid, under the tutelage of Matriarch Garavel. And after ten days, he completed his training. On the morning of December the 19th, Connor woke up in his quarters in the dwarf-palace to discover that his new Signature Spell, cure light wounds, had manifested to him on the material plane as a spirit-animal (the druidic equivalent of a sorcerer’s familiar), the reincarnation of his dead pet snake, “Salazar Slithering”, who’d been eaten by a hydra during the party’s explorations of Thunder Table the game-session prior.
So, all told, the party got really, really, really, REALLY freaking lucky with that deck of many things this adventure. As the saying goes, “lucky at cards, unlucky in love”, which means that this group must be the most romantically-challenged band of adventurers in the history of D&D.