Roster (Party Level 6th)Taking one of the open exits from the room, Jonas reconnoiters a long corridor, one end of which had been sealed up long ago with a crude brick-and-plaster plug. This has recently been pushed down, and beyond, a short stretch of corridor leads into a narrow space confined on three sides by thick black curtains. Jonas succumbs to temptation, pokes his head through, and sees a large room on the other side, with several pillars which appear to be made of mirrors. As he catches sight of himself in one of the mirrors, he finds himself instantly transported...
Berend - Dwarven Fighter
Elumai - Eladrin Wizard
Finial - Half-elf Paladin
Jonas - Human Rogue/Ranger
...To a small, sealed chamber, reeking of sweat and filth. A tired, emaciated gnoll barks in surprise as Jonas pops into existence, reaches limply for a nearby hand-axe, and struggles to its feet. With barely time to prepare himself, Jonas is attacked by the starving creature.
The rest of the party, following Jonas up the corridor, see him disappear from sight in the shadows ahead, in-and-of-itself not terribly unusual, but then the sounds of his combat with the gnoll ring out all around them, as if being broadcast into the corridor. Berend hefts his axe and runs to his compatriots's aid, pushing through the curtains... and vanishing himself, to the very same room as Jonas, the black curtains swishing billowing in his wake.
This is enough to galvanise the others, who most definitely are not used to seeing Berend vanish before their eyes, and they assault the chamber. Avoiding the fate of their friends by covering their eyes, they attack each of the mirrored pillars in turn, succumbing on occasion to other, draining magical effects, but making good headway to the other half of the room, hidden out of sight behind a broad corner.
Berend meanwhile appears out of thin air to find the gnoll already surrendered to Jonas, and with the sound of shattering glass, all three of them are returned to the original chamber as the teleportation mirror is destroyed. The adventurers push on, distracted by their efforts long enough to allow the gnoll to escape from the direction they came.
At the far end of the room, another set of curtains swishes aside and two splinter-boned skeletons surge out, rotting entrails swilling around inside their rib-cages, attacking the nearest of the company. Although this complicates matters, even as they attempt to avoid eye-contact with the mirrors, the adventurers draw on all their resources and handily dispatch the undead.
At last they reach the other end of the chamber. A frieze of a minotaur's head, with a large hand-shaped depression, lies embedded in the wall above a large, unadorned bronze altar. Suspended on the wall above is a magnificent sword, glinting in the half-light of the chamber. An inscription on the blade reads, in ancient minotaur, Supplicant claim your reward! After some deliberation, the sword is removed, without incident, and the party retreats.
Down the other corridor from the worm room, the corridor splits into a Y-shape and two similar broken seal opens out into something much different. What looks like a pool of swirling, lapping blood covers almost the entire floor, except for two raised platforms near the doors where the adventurers are standing, a walkway bisecting the room half way across its width, two stone plints both with swords slowly spinning, balanced on their points, and more worryingly, two massive blood-red minotaur statues, armed with multi-pronged whips and standing silent vigil over both ends of the room.
The goal is clear, and with enticingly rough walls signalling an opportunity to climb past the blood without ever stepping foot in it, both Jonas and Berend decide to take the risk. Jonas moves with speed and grace compared to Berend's more meticulous approach, but neither adventurer is surprised when the colossal minotaurs grind into life, sweeping their whips around every inch of the room. Jonas contorts himself and avoids contact, but Berend is struck and pulled heavily off the wall onto the walkway.
This encourages Finial into action, who decides to brave the blood and get to his ally. Indeed, the liquid is poisonous to the flesh, but the paladin is all-but immune due to the magical amulet worn around his neck. What he is not immune to, however, is the feral, ape-like demon that rises dripping with blood out of the pool and attempts to bite a chunk out of his face.
At this point, the room comes alive. As the minotaurs rake the room with their whips, catching the feet of anyone they hit and pulling them into the blood, two other blood-soaked demons emerge from the liquid, rushing Jonas who, after acrobatically reaching the first plinth, is disappointed (but not wholly surprised) to find that the sword is merely an illusion which shimmers and disappears as his grasping hand reaches through it.
With the pool a deadly and effective impediment, Jonas and Berend are cut off from their friends as the demons and the lashing fronds of the miotaur whips converge on them. Jonas bravely dives to the second plinth and grasps the very real sword suspended there, but pulled off his feet by the demons' attacks, his last, desperate leap to safety ends in his dying body lying in a ragged heap at the feet of one of the minotaurs, safe from the whips but in danger of expiring any second.
As Jonas' life ebbs away, it becomes a race to save him and get out of the deadly chamber. Berend scrambles with every ounce of energy to Jonas' side, the claws of the demons raking bloody strokes in his flesh, and force-feeds him one of their few remaining healing potions. This brings the Rogue sputtering to life, and the two of them leap to the walkway, half way home but by no means out of the woods yet.
With the life-sapping blood pool between them and safety, everyone has no choice at this point but to hunker down in the safe zone at the feet of the nearer minotaur, and focus on dispatching the demons. Berend comes perilously close to passing out, and Jonas is no more than one good hit away from falling into a coma from which his weakened frame would probably never wake up, but the bolstering healing and artillery of Finial and Elumai are enough to save the day.
Exhausted by their ordeals, the company nevertheless decides to make good on its reward. The two inscribed swords fit perfectly into the slots on the bodies of the minotaur guardians in the Hall of the Worm, and the wardens slowly come to life, straining lifeless muscles to pull the circular portal apart.
As if heaven sent, the semi-circular room on the other side invites rest and recuperation. Hard stone bunks offer respite from the trials they've undergone, but more importantly, a fountain which spits crystal-clear water into the air replenishes their energies. Another circular door on the far side of the room is obviously the way forward, and from the other side, the mechanical churning which has been a constant part of the background noise of the complex since they arrived is very loud.
The company is depleted, brought low by the various tests they have endured in the Well. Despite their obvious need to put an end to whatever rituals the gnolls are conducting with their Necrotech devices, they aren't fools. They have no choice but to rest, thence to face the final challenges of the Well with renewed vigour.