Into the Lair
The entrance to the ruins lies in the gorge between the cliffs. It is hidden by thick forestation but the hill can be seen clearly from some distance and if approached from the right direction, the entrance is obvious. There are remains of giant stonework everywhere around it, and the roots of trees growing around it snake on the surface. 2 Tirbana Eyewings (MM5 172) guard the entrance and they will alarm the rest of the hive if allowed to live. Once they spot the characters, their first action will be to fly inside.
The doorway is held open by two giant stone pillars. Roots and undergrowth hang over it from the hill that has grown over the ruins. The pillars are weathered but some runes in Giant remain, and their Goliath descendants have added their own art over the patches without text. The Giant runes read:
proud descendants — the War — never-ending — warriors
new enemy — vermin
The rest is utterly ruined. The paintings the Goliath have added depict a cluster which shows the different types of Tirbana (including the Spawner), an adult Kython (“four-armed, eyeless green insect with elongated maw”) and an Insectile Thri-Kreen (“eight-armed grasshopper with four different weapons: a greatsword, a boomerang, a spear, and a greataxe”).
The stairs leading down are partially covered in mud and dirt. The walls inside are filled woth patches of moss, mold and slime mould. The air is thick due to humidity, and there is a distict smell of blood (on which Manethak will comment – the Warforged cannot smell). Rubble from the shattered pillar and the holes in the walls surrounds these places where the stonework has been ruined.
The first floor is patrolled by a Tirbana Slayer (MM5 173) and 2 Tirbana Drowsers (MM5 173). A Tirbana Spawner (MM5 174) oversees the operations from its throne in the farther room on the left. If they were alerted, the insects will face the characters head on and be readied for their arrival. The Spawner will remain 10ft. behind the Drowsers which will begin a full defense (+4 AC). The Drowsers will have activated their Blur (20% miss chance) spell-like ability. The Slayer will charge at the party from the side if they enter carelessly. The Spawner utilizes a blood-covered +1 Everbright Blessed Byeshk Battleaxe taken from Manethak’s tribe’s elder (Dodge retrained for the profiency; it cannot activate the magic, however). Seeing it in the hands of an insect will cause Manethak great grief and make him recklessly rush against the Tirbana.
If the Eyewings did not alert the rest of the Tirbana Hive, the Slayer will patrol the entrance hall alone, and the Drowsers will wander in the surrounding areas separately. The Spawner will be in its throne room. Once the characters enter, the Tirbane will attack them but much less efficiently. The Drowsers will enter from different sides of the battlefield and attempt putting the characters to sleep. The same applies to the Spawner, who will enter from the hole on the left along with a Drowser.
The rooms on the left contain the Spawner’s throne room and the cell for the Goliaths (this door is barred from the outside with a stone). The throne is a heap of stones crudely placed together to form the general idea of a divan. The back of the throne will be painted full of extremely crude pictures of the Tirbana as well as the head of a horrifying being with a dislodged, divided jaw, compound eyes and antennae but otherwise vaguely human-looking features. The room also contains loot from the Goliath and Drow victims of the hive: 10pp, 200gp, lots of bloody rags (many of them fine cloth), 2 masterwork short swords, 3 masterwork battleaxes, a masterwork hand crossbow, Potion of Heroism, and Potion of Enlarge Person.
The Goliaths will mostly have died. The week Manethak took will assure that the eggs laid within them have hatched, and the larvae have fed on them for 3 days already. The two children are swarming with Tirbana larvae eating away at their corpses. The same applies for the village elder. Only two Goliath men still remain, and they have been reduced to 2 Con, leaving them barely alive. They are also under the effect of the Sleep Drone ability of the Spawner. Realizing their muffled groans or breathing requires success in a DC 15 Listen or Spot check. Confirming they are alive by examining them requires a DC 10 Heal check since they are extremely deprived. Manethak will realize that this is only about half of his tribe. The rest are nowhere to be seen although if their suffering is alleviated, the Goliaths who are still alive might be able to inform that the rest were separated from them before they woke up for the first time.
The doors on the right lead to the rooms with entrance to the cells of the mother (adult) mutant Kython and the Broodlings. They have also been barred form the outside with stones. The rooms themselves are covered in bloodstains due to all the chopping of the Goliaths and the Drow by the Spawner with its axe. In parts, tufts of white and black hair are stuck in the dried blood.
The Broodlings will swarm under the hole when they sense someone coming. The cell contains 1 mutant Broodling and 3 normal Broodlings (BoVD 179). They will emit a high-pitched growl in anticipation of food. Normally the mutant Mind Blasts its siblings to receive an unfair share of the food but if anyone wanders to the edge, it will attempt to Mind Blast them, causing a Ref DC 13 save to avoid falling in if the character first fails their Will save against stunning.
The Adult Mutant Kython’s cell will be covered with batches of slimy round rocks (actually Kython eggs). The hole will have been barred to prevent the Kython from Levitating outside. The Kython itself will hide from anyone inspecting the cell and wait for them to come inside. It will have readied using its Charm Monster power against anyone who peeks from the hole. The Kython wants to be freed, and it will ask this of its victim. It may also attempt to plant suggestions to break the bars (Hardness 10, 40hp, Break DC 28 each; at least 2 must be destroyed). If anyone actually enters its cell, it will ravenously attack them despite Warforged being inedible.
The bars might hint at the possibility that beings other than the Tirbana are in the area and behind the attacks. Clearly the Kythons are prisoners in here (although well fed). If negotiations or other kinds of social contact are attempted with the adult Kython, it might reveal its hatred for “Zsamsa”, the “changer”. If pressured about this, it will reveal Zsamsa being a shapechanging overseer protected by “worm man” slaves with “two arm blades” (Zern Blade Thrall, MM4 198).
The descent from the Tirbana’s hive leads to a hallway with doors to the Kythons’ cells along its length. These doors are barred with iron bars from the outside. If the characters did not interact with the adult Kythin earlier, it will attempt to telepathically persuade them to free it once they enter this level. Of course, if freed, it will merely pounce at the characters.
Its cell has a few batches of Kython eggs. In total, there are 20 of these rock-like, mucus-covered eggs. Half of them contain mutant Kythons although there is no real way to verify this outside of hatching them. The wall between the Broodlings’ cell and the adult’s cell contains an iron-barred opening. The wall seems to have collapsed and the bars are merely an addition to keep the Kythons separated.
Some areas, marked in the map, have become unstable. Stepping inside them will trigger tremors which cause pieces of the ceiling to dislodge and fall. This counts as a Stone Blocks from the Ceiling trap. If any of these “traps” are set off, it will alarm Zsamsa of the party’s arrival. Spot DC 15 will reveal the general bad shape of the area but not reveal the actual unstable areas.
In the middle of the level, there is a fountain full of fresh water. Its side has been breached and it leaks water that flows to the furthest corner. Although the flow is slow, it seems to have continued for quite some time. However, the water is knee-deep at most. The fountain contains 200pp minted by the Giants. Anyone who throws a platinum piece in it receives the benefit of Aid (1 morale bonus to attack rolls and saves against fear, 1d8p10 temporary hit points) for the next 5 minutes. Anyone who attempts to scoop the platinum pieces within must succeed in a Will DC 14 save or be struck by a curse (Bestow Curse trap; Search DC 28, Disable Device DC 28) that causes miserable luck: all rolls of 20 count as rolls of 1 until the curse is removed.
On the side of the fountain, the following text is written in Giant:
A precious sacrifice guarantees a moment of triumph; a blatant thievery turns triumph to shame.
The pillars are carved to show people showering each other with fruits. However, each of them carries a sword on his loin, even the women shown are so armed. However, moss covers most of the pillars.
The room which is partially filled with water hosts a shrine to the Giant pantheon. An altar is set against a wall filled with text in Giant. Hidden under the altar’s surface slab (Search DC 18, Str DC 15 to move) is a book bound in granite and filled with golden pages. The runes are actually holes in the golden sheets. It is the diary of a Giant hero called Arim Akridovoro. He writes in Giant, and if the characters manage to decipher the text, it contains the following information:
1. The Giants here are descendants of the Primordial Giants who fought with the Quori. They attempted to rebuild their civilization on this desolated island after the fall of their empire. They brought Dark Elf slaves and a few “mechanical veterans” with them.
2. Time passed – 30 000 years – and they managed to regain some of their lost glory. However, a new threat eventually brought their new prosperity to an end. The Daelkyr lord Nehushta whom they dubbed the Locust Made Man invaded the island with his insect servants. The Giants had never managed to regain their previous power in full, and they were eventually forced to scatter because of the onslaught of insectile aberrations. With the last of their power, they attempted to seal Nehushta entrance into the world above. It is not stated whether or not they succeeded.
3. The Dark Elves sided with the Daelkyr for they saw this as their chance to escape slavery. However, the last remaining “mechanical soldiers” sided with the Giants against this menace. Their names were Confector (“Slayer”), Praeses (“Defender”), and Magus (“Magician”).
4. There are other Giant strongholds in the area, although their locations are not revealed.
The third floor used to be a sanctum but it has been turned into Zsamsa’s laboratory of death. The lower part is utterly ruined by the rocks that have collapsed from previous levels, the remains of the supporting pillar, and the water that seeps here from the second floor. Blood from Zsamsa’s experiments with the prisoners they have taken and the Kython’s he has examined coats the altar and its surroundings.
If surprised, Zsamsa will sit on the altar, staring at the back wall. He will be in his Impervious Hide form (+4 AC, DR 5/piercing) by default. The Blade Thralls (MM4 198) will be in different parts of the room: one will be in front of the pillar nearest to the altar and another between the stairways that lead here.
If the characters have somehow alarmed Zsamsa (setting off his tremorsense, leaving the Eyewings alive, dropping the tiles in the second floor, etc.), he will have readied himself. The Zern will still be in his Impervious Hide form. However, he will have positioned himself on the altar, and the Blade Thralls will act as a shield between him and the party. They will begin with full defense (+4 dodge to AC), switch to fighting defensively when engaged (-4 to attacks, +2 dodge to AC). Zsamsa will prefer to pepper the enemies with his warping energy, but he might snatch someone with the pincer staff if they come too close. His attacks of opportunity will attempt to start a grapple with the staff as well.
If Zsamsa is brought below 20hp, he will either change into (small) Gaseous Form and attempt to squeeze between the rocks in the corner or change into his Speed Burst form and make a run for it. If the Blade Thralls are still alive, they will use their last breath to cover his escape.
If the characters do not initiate combat with the Zern as soon as they enter, he will attempt to pry information about the damage they have caused. This includes what happened in the Drow camp since if Irranna died, she will have not made contact with Zsamsa afterwards. (Note that if she managed to escape by using Dimension Door, she will be part of the encounter.)
Since Irranna managed to escape the massacre at the camp, she will have informed Zsamsa of the mechanical warriors. He knows of Bone’s abilities although the rest are still unknown variables. Having no idea of who sent them, they Zsamsa and Irranna will at least try to ascertain whether or not they still work for Sharroos Kent’tar. If the characters have alarmed Zsamsa (likely, due to his tremorsense and knowing that they are in the area), Irranna will hava hidden in the back of the room, between the stairs, so that she may attempt to charm Bone and possibly the others as well from hiding as Zsamsa buys her time (Chameleon gives her +10 to the check, for a total of Spot DC 31 due to her having taken 10.). Irranna will have received a new weapon, a +1 Shadowstrike Cutlass made of Gehennan Morghuth-Iron.
The wall behind the altar is filled with runes in Giant. Due to their underground location, they have actually been preserved well, and the wall is even free of the fungi and moss which cover most of the walls here. It reads:
In these halls, descendants of titans and their allies, may seek shelter in the sanctum. Call the name of the Elder with pride and you will be saved.
Anyone attempting to touch the portions of the wall with the runes must succeed in a DC 14 Ref save or take 1d4+1 force damage (an additional 2d6 to aberrations). If they are somehow held against the wall, this damage will recur each round and they receive no save.
If the name of the last Elder, Arim Akridovoro, is spoken by a Goliath or a non-evil Warforged, the wall will open and reveal the sanctum sanctorum. Arim’s ghost will sit on the alter there, meditating. Seeing him will force saving throws against his Horrific Appearance, for the Stone Giant’s wounds are sickening to behold. If the door is opened, he will slowly open his eyes and greet the party since the mechanical soldiers are their allies to the best of his knowledge and he knows that only one of the descendants of his race could have hoped to open the door.
The room also contains Confector whom Arim managed to save with the last of his power. He already knew that death would overtake him but he managed to seal himself and the ancient Warforged within with the last of his power. He had used his ability to shape stone to seal the entrance which the enemy had opened, and the last remaining enemies were also mortally wounded.
In addition to them, the room contains Arim’s equipment: +3 Large Mithral Breastplate, and a +1 Righteous Large Byeshk Greatsword. His body has long since been destroyed. He willingly relinquishes the equipment as long as he is assured that they will be used to fight the Daelkyr menace and its servants. There are also a few other Giant relics inside: a Belt of Battle (MIC 73), a Dragon Mask (MIC 94), True Strike Gauntlets (MIC 144), and Helm of Comprehend Languages and Read Magic (DMG 259).
Confector has been at -8hp for the last 9000 years or so. She has lost a majority of her power as a result. All her melds are unshaped when she is found, and she has no prepared slots. The Warforged is clueless of the time that has passed, and still believes that the fight with the powers of Nehushta is raging (which is not that far from the truth, though). If she is brought to consult with Arim, the Giant ghost will persuade her to join the party if he has reason to assume they will continue fighting off the Daelkyr threat. He will also remind the Warforged that Praeses and Magus are still nowhere to be found.
Arim, of course, will ask for the characters to search for the rest of the Giant strongholds which might have survived and to cleanse them of the Daelkyr’s minions.