Adventure Date: July 21,2006
Last Updated: January 7, 2009
Day 53 (cont'd)
The trap door opened, our adventurers stood at the threshold of a 10'x10' shaft with rungs built into one side that disappeared into the murky darkness. Pennyweight secured a rope at the top of the shaft as a safety line.
Time being of the essence, Ebreck leapt into the breach, brandishing his mighty battle axe, ready to face the enemy in mortal combat. (Ed. Note: The previous sentence is how this adventure could have begun, but alas, here is the unvarnished truth) Ebreck volunteered to descend first into the subterranean passage, his darkvision would hopefully allow him to see the enemy first. As he approached the edge of the abyss, he tripped and fell in (Ed. Note: The first "1" rolled). The rest of the adventurers looked on in horror as Ebreck was swallowed by the darkness. A bright fiery flash and a clap of thunder erupted from the void. His fall was broken by another trapdoor about 30' below. To add insult to injury, the explosive runes that guarded this next portal drowned out his cursing.
The rest of the party was able to climb down to meet Ebreck without incident. The smell of burnt hair and toasted Dwarf greeted them as they joined Ebreck on the stone ledge around the sturdy 5'x5' trapdoor. Xana had to use her wand of healing six times to restore Ebreck to almost perfect health, but the bruises to his ego were not so easily cured.
PW searched for other physical traps that may not have been sprung by the Ebreck's impact. PW required the aid of two vials of acid and several mighty blows from HHH's hammer-hook to "unlock" the stubborn trapdoor. The trapdoor opened in the ceiling along the south wall of a 25'x25' room. Rungs were built into the wall leading down 10' to the stone floor. Across the room a small white orb, resembling bone sat on the floor in front of a man-size single wooden door.
From the relative safety of the hatch, HHH concentrated and divined that the orb radiated some evil. As a pre-emptive strike, PW hurled a vial of Holy Water at the orb. The spray of Holy Water and glass shards displaced the orb. The sound of stone grinding against stone was quickly followed by an earth shattering crash, as a 5’x10’x6" stone slab was released from the ceiling crushing the orb.
PW carefully descended to the floor and meticulously searched for any other traps. Once the all clear was given, the rest of the party joined PW. Nuria slipped on the top rung and landed hard on the floor (Ed. Note: The second "1" rolled). Agrona healed her physical wounds, but could not from the save her from the embarrassment.
After they cleared away the debris from the deadfall trap, PW discovered that the door was unlocked and free of any other deadly deterrents. HHH and Ebreck took up defensive positions as PW cautiously pulled the open the door, using it to conceal his presence, hoping to surprise any enemy that charged through the doorway.
Beyond lay a narrow and dusty passage of hewn stone, barely 5' across and 10' high. Along the east wall, there were two single doors, the first about halfway down and the other ten feet beyond the first. A set of double doors was located across the hall from the first single door.
PW lead the way, looking for the telltale signs of traps concealed along the corridor. Ebreck and HHH followed closely to fend off any would-be attackers. Using their keen senses of observation, Xana and Nuria searched for hidden portals as they moved forward. Agrona guarded the rear flank against unpleasant surprises.
The first single door was unlocked and free of traps. HHH and Ebreck assumed their defensive positions as PW pulled open the door. To their surprise, they were greeted by the blank stares of a multitude of life-size human busts made of marble on pedestals that filled the 20'x20' room. The fine layer of dust that blanketed the room had been recently disturbed. One pedestal stood empty, the bust smashed on the floor.
Agrona gasped as he noticed that one of the busts bore a resemblance to the image of Orcus that they had found in the cave of the Gnolls. A careful survey of the room yielded no other clues or information to the whereabouts of Tamara, the Duke's only daughter.
Diagonally across the room was single man-size door. An acrid smell drifted in from under the door. PW perused for booby-traps around the door and discovered it was unlocked and free of traps. Upon opening the door, they were greeted by the stench of fresh blood, which coated the floor and walls. HHH applied the flame of his torch to some of the congealed blood on the floor to rule out the possibility that it was some sort of gelatinous creature (Ed. Note: Luckily it wasn't oil).
Another door was directly across the 20'x20' room from where they stood. Nuria and HHH used pregistitation to clear a path across to the other door. As they carefully approached the door, HHH sprinkled Holy Water about the room to consecrate the space where evil deeds had recently been perpetrated.
PW found that this portal was also safe to pass through and was not locked. Cautiously the door was pulled opened, revealing a writhing mass of matted grey fur and gnashing teeth in the middle of this 30'x40' room, upon what looked to be the tattered remains a human body.
Disturbed by the presence of the adventuring party in the doorway, the swarm of rats began to scurry out of the room via a hole in the Northwest corner. As the swarm thinned, several larger rats stood by the decomposing body, ready to defend their quarry. Ebreck drew his bow and launched a volley of arrows and PW lobbed a flask of alchemical fire at the advancing pack. Several of the beasts were slain, but they continued to charge.
HHH stood silently in prayer calling upon his God to send him Henrietta, his faithful dire badger mount. Henrietta appeared in a bright flash of light to PW's right.
The dire rats were quickly closing, so HHH, Ebreck and PW drew their favoured melee weapons. PW stumbled as he drew his rapier (Ed. Note: The third "1" rolled) and to his horror, he had inadvertently clipped Henrietta’s nose. HHH quickly attempted to calm Henrietta knowing that once wounded, she would fly into a murderous rage; not stopping until her enemy was dead or she died trying. They all collectively held their breath, hoping that Henrietta would back down, but with a roar, she lunged at PW. Without hesitation, HHH had to send her back to the Celestial Realm form where he had summoned her.
Nuria stepped forward into the doorway to cast a spell on the advancing horde of dire rats, but the hisses of the charging swarm completely freaked out Smokey, causing him to attempt to hide in Nuria's fiery red mane (Ed. Note: The fourth "1" rolled). This distraction prevented Nuria from casting her spell.
A pitched battle ensued. The dire rats attacked viciously, inflicting many deep penetrating wounds with their fangs, but might finally triumphed over numbers. Xana healed the wounded with her wand. Agrona approached the corpse, but could not even identify the gender of the victim, due to the advanced state of decomposition and the feeding frenzy of the scavenging rats. The fact that this was once a humanoid was all that was gleaned from what little remained. A thorough search of the room yielded no other clues to the fate that befell Tamara.
They returned to the corridor to continue their quest. They advanced to the next singe door along the same wall, where PW's skills at disarming traps and lock picking were not required. Beyond the unlocked portal lay a large room (20'x40') with the remains of a stone dividing wall littering the middle of the floor. A methodical search of the space yelled no additional information about the subterranean complex or what had become of the Duke's daughter.
They returned to the corridor and approached the set of double doors in the east wall. Once again, their progress was not delayed by traps or locked portals. The double doors opened onto a once magnificent room (40'x50'). Old and tattered tapestries with images of spell casters and summoning adorned the walls. A single door was spotted in the middle of the north wall. There were indications of recent activity and across the room from where the adventurers entered, there was a noticeable human-size bulge in the tapestry. PW quietly stalked the figure across the room, as the rest followed a few feet back, weapons at the ready. Upon pulling back the tapestry, they found a marble statue of a female spell caster. The arms of the statue were missing and seemed to have been broken off. Ebreck noticed subtle drag marks in the floor leading back toward the door in the north wall. They quickly searched the room for secret passages and other tid-bits of information, all the while wondering if this damaged statue and the smashed bust were related in some way.
They carefully studied the door in the North wall, where the drag marks disappeared to make sure they did not encounter any nasty surprises. An unusual room, 20' square with the walls, floor and ceiling made of black polished marble accented with white veins of marble and four white marble columns offset from each corner was behind the door. The columns were covered with a brownish ooze. HHH applied the flame of his torch some of the brown ooze, to eliminate fears that it was a threat to their safety. Agrona, Xana and Nuria replaced the statue into the centre of the room, using the drag marks as a guide; with no affect.
A door in the East wall opened upon a huge empty room, about 50'x50' with a door located in the middle of the wall across from the adventurers. Agrona and Nuria noticed several designs on the North and South walls, which resembled spell caster glyphs of evocation for lightning. Assuming this was some sort of trap, Nuria used a knock spell to open the door across the room hoping to set off the trap, but to no avail. Xana summoned a swarm of bats in the middle of the room and once again, nothing happened. Ebreck decided on a more direct approach, and ran across to the open doorway. As he traversed the room, a bolt of lightning greeted him, but then there was also one less glyph on the wall. A few singed hairs, but none the worse for wear, Ebreck ran back to his companions, triggering another lightning strike. Ebreck ran back across to trigger yet another bolt. PW signalled Ebreck to wait where he was, and then PW charged across the room. PW was able to use his acrobatic skills to dodge the lightning strike. Ebreck sat there slack-jawed, impressed by the skill and grace PW demonstrated and his own idiocy for suffering three lightning strikes. PW traversed twice more to eliminate the final two runes, but missed his mark on his last pass and suffered the sting that Ebreck knew so well. Xana's wand was required to restore both PW and Ebreck to health.
Ahead of them was another narrow corridor that extended abut 20' west, then turned 90° to the North. The dust on the floor indicated the recent passage of several people, so they carefully approached the corner. PW used a small steel mirror to peer around the corner in case there were any unfriendly guards milling about. The corridor was clear of people and continued North about 40' ending at a set of double doors. There were also two single doors along the east wall, about 15' and 30' down the hall respectively.
They stopped to listen at the first door. They heard nothing beyond the door and it was neither locked or defended by a trap, but a familiar smell emanated from beyond the door. They tentatively entered the room and found four corpses, two human, and a male elf in a tattered blue robe and a female dwarf unceremoniously dumped on the floor. The four had died recently in a fierce battle as indicated by their gapping wounds and shattered bones. Blisters and burn marks indicated that they had probably suffered the lightning strikes or potentially worse before dying. Agrona quietly prayed for the souls of the dead.
The adventurers solemnly returned to the corridor. As they approached the next door, the floor fell away, exposing a 15' long and 10' deep pit, the width of the corridor. PW, HHH and Ebreck fell into the pit, but PW was able to avoid injury with an acrobatic tumble. PW, HHH and Ebreck climbed out of the pit as the rest of the party climbed down into the pit carefully. There was little space beyond the pit so Xana, Nuria, Agrona and Rhodesia remained in the pit, as PW, HHH and Ebreck examined the next single door. This door opened into what seemed to be a small holding cell for prisoners, with sets of manacles and other restraints on the walls. They quickly returned to the small corridor and to fill in the others of what they had found.
Chanting and many muffled voices could be head from beyond the double doors. In preparation for the upcoming battle, Agrona blessed his comrades in arms. Ebreck quietly stroked the head of his lion figurine to gain more courage.
HHH attempted to burst through the double doors, but alas this set of doors was locked (Ed. Note: Picture Elmer Fudd, Daffy Duck and Sylvester the Cat shmucking the locked door). PW quickly plied his trade and their passage was no longer blocked. HHH was finally able to burst into the room, followed closely by PW and Ebreck, but the bungled first attempt to enter the room alerted all of their presence. A wall of eight well-armed worshipers immediately barred their advance into the room. At the far end of the room, there were seven figures surrounding an altar, where they were preparing to sacrifice a scantily clad woman secured to the top of the altar.
Agrona had just darken the doorway with his mighty form, when he was suddenly stopped by a tangle of magical webs. The "muscle" that had greeted them at the door, were adept warriors, landing several mighty blows and also taking what PW, HHH and Ebreck were dishing out. One of the enemy noticed that Agrona was struggling against the webs and attempted to slip past HHH to strike a blow at the partially restrained Agrona. HHH swung his hook-hammer and fell the sneaking foe with one tremendous blow (Ed. Note: Nice Critical hit).
Xana summoned three mighty dire badgers behind the seven remaining armed worshippers, to aid her comrades in the pitched battle. Several more foes were felled by HHH and were pilling up at his feet. Several of the robed figures had begun to move away from the altar. Ebreck was struck by some magic missiles launched by one of the robed figures moving away from the altar.
To free Agrona from the webs and to clear a path into the room to join the battle, Xana produced a flaming sphere at Agrona's feet. The flames quickly melted away the webs, but also inflicted some damage to Agrona. Xana rolled the flaming sphere back into the corridor to clear away the rest of the magical webs. The sounds of the pitched battle stopped abruptly; one of the robed figures had cast a silence spell on the intrepid adventurers to prevent more spells from being cast or communication between allies.
Nuria and Xana were finally able to enter the room and join in the fray. Xana summoned three more dire badgers just before they were blanketed by a darkness spell. Then suddenly there was a burst of heat and the smell of brimstone as a fireball erupted within the darkness. This attack almost knocked Ebreck unconscious, so from the relative safety of the darkness he launched several arrows toward the robed figures at the altar, hoping to take some of them down, before he was killed by the next attack.
Agrona cast silence around the altar to prevent more spells from being inflicted on her allies.
PW saw that one of the priests at the altar had drawn a large and ornate dagger and had raised it above his head. The priest plunged the dagger into his victim. as the altar was plunged into darkness. As PW raced forward out of the darkness to save the woman, he noticed that it was not Tamara at the altar, but he was stopped dead in his tracks, held by one of the priests before he could utter a word to his allies. A knife was put to his throat and the priest demanded they surrender or PW would be slain. HHH and Agrona charged forth and PW was bled like a stuck pig. Nuria had earlier imbued Smokey with the spell Shocking Grasp and sent him forth to take down the priest who had mortally wounded PW. With a single bite of Smokey's razor sharp fangs, the priest was instantly killed. Agrona ran up to help the unknown woman on the altar, but he was un able to save her. HHH rushed to PW's side and was able to save his friend, but was back-stabbed by one of the robed figures in the process. HHH lashed out at his attacker and knocked her to the ground, revealing her as Tamara, the Duke's daughter. The surviving henchman and the priest capitulated when Tamara was injured. They were searched, then bound and gagged.
The magical darkness had begun to fade and revealed the carnage of a fierce battle. Tamara was found safe, but maybe not so sound of mind...Tune in next time for next episode of The Rod of Seven Parts - the Greyhawk Adventure...
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