S06E19 – A Macabre Zoo

The heroes continue through the aqueduct until they reach the tall rock structure at the end. A middle-aged ghoul with a wooden leg chewing a humanoid bone welcomes them. The undead lisper called Corpzgrinder informs them that they are about to enter Arren’s Zoo and that he is the zookeeper. During the conversation Fenna casually mentions that they just killed the black dragon that roamed the valley and the suddenly cheerful ghoul suggests them to, once inside the zoo, look for the hidden exit on the bottom floor, not the official one on the top floor. He then hands them a map, tickets and wishes them a happy day at the zoo.

Arren's Zoo Tower.
Arren’s Zoo Tower.

The heroes leave Corpzgrinder behind and enter the first exhibition room. Rows of terrariums containing undead spiders, snakes and bats take up the center while pedestals holding the taxidermic corpses of many adventurers decorate the walls. The last of our heroes to enter the room triggers a trap that locks all doors, covers the room in magical darkness and releases all the undead beasts. After a few rounds of shouting directions and fighting blindly the group kills all the critters.

The heroes fighting snakes and bats surrounded in magical darkness.

The heroes fighting snakes and bats surrounded in magical darkness.

The heroes descend to the next level and find an aquarium so large that it extends above and below the room. Inside it hundreds of zombie fishes in varying states of decomposition swim despondently. Anchors, crow’s nests, rudders and more dead adventurers cover mossy walls. Near the aquarium two empty barreled cages hang from the ceiling. After the last hero crosses the door a clink echoes throughout the room followed by a large whoosh as the aquarium glass walls slide down and the water submerges the whole room. Louis puts his comatose friend inside the bag of holding and seeks cover, along with Ada, inside one of the barreled cages. Fenna transforms into a shark and Mara-kai swims to the aquarium’s ceiling, now the only area with air. An instant later a thirty feet long zombie shark emerges from the depths of the aquarium and charges Fenna. A tense skirmish follows but the group puts an end to the giant shark’s miserable life before anyone has enough time to drown.

At the aquarium level fighting a giant cookie shark.

At the aquarium fighting a giant zombie cookie shark.

The group descends into the bottom level. After burning herself with a red hot door handle, Ada opens a door that reveals a room with a lava pit and barely any oxygen in it. A slightly slanted ramp circles the pit and rises tens of feet into a dark ceiling. Near the top a very dry zombie beholder hovers around minding his own business. Ada casts a spell engulfing the whole group in a veil of shadows and they start climbing the ramp. On their way up they successfully skirt three fireball spitting skulls and the undead beholder. However, they get overconfident and accidentally trigger a trap that releases a boulder near the top. The rumbling rock attracts the attention of the beholder who starts firing at the heroes. At that point the group had split into two: on one side Mara-kai who is carrying Louis under her arm, Fenna in rat form on her shoulder and the comatose Braga inside the bag of holding and, on the other side, Ada who is squeezing on the outside of the ramp hoping to weather the boulder. Seconds later Ada finds out that her calculations were a bit off as the boulder crushes her shoulder. Meanwhile Mara-kai creates illusory funny voices at the bottom of the pit distracting the beholder long enough for the group to reach the exit door at the top.

The maintenance room they enter eventually leads them back to the valley. As they clamber towards the exit they spot Arren, the sadistic gnome lich who owns this place, flying towards them, shooting fireballs and screaming like a maniac. The heroes reach the exit before Arren, start running and don’t stop until they are back at Woodchurch hours later.

While the group is having some margaritas at the only tavern in town an elegantly dressed man approaches them and announces that Zabha has an offer they won’t be able to refuse.

Memorable scenes:

– “We can’t get all in, there is no space,” announces Fenna. “What? We only have Albrecht in the bag of holding!” says Mara-kai. “No, we also have my crate of sacred druidic wood. You wouldn’t expect me to leave the crate behind back at the castle, right?”

– Mara-kai rolling three 20s in a row, a 18000 event.

– The vignette at the start with baby Ada in her crib and Enya’s Orinoco Flow in the background.

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