The Tide of Shadows - Chapter 19

Adventure Date: October 19, 2013

Last Updated: July 19, 2014

Tide of Shadows – Log #19 Lost in a Space That Isn’t There

“Barbaric,” Pelias said as he looked at the grisly trophies before him.

“Agreed.”  Pelias turned in surprise at Ro-Lund-Do’s comment.  Pelias saw this as a good omen.  Maybe there is hope for you yet.

Scuro barely held his laughter in.  What a waste of fine working materials.  I could have made a small army with these resources.

A gasp drew their attention.  Thraor had been examining the stonework of the catacomb.  It was definitely dwarven-made, but it was of such exquisite workmanship that he sought signs of who the original builder had been.  Brushing aside gore and other refuse, he continued his examination down the hallway.  He reached the end of the hallway and rounded the corner.  Looking up, he saw the faces of three dwarves, flawless in their features, gazing down at the center of the room he had entered.  A feeling of security and strength washed over him.

Immediately, Thraor knew that he had entered holy ground.  This was no doubt where dwarven clergy communed with their bearded deities.  As the others rushed forward to see what he had discovered, they turned as they heard Ro-Lund-Do cry out in frustration.

As they had entered the room, Prima and Secundo, Scuro’s undead pets, were halted by an invisible barrier.  Scuro could feel the holy aura emanating from the shrine – the aura had protected the shrine from defilers who could not stomach its holy presence.

Clawing futilely, Scuro turned back and gave a silent command to his minions.  Guard the hallway and ensure no one, mortal or not, disturbs our peace.  Turning back to join the others, he saw that Kat and Shribryn were scurrying about the room like a pair of rodents, trying to find the next big hoard of treasure.  Thraor’s expression of horror brought a brief smile to Scuro’s face.  Soon, the sad expressions on Kat’s and Shribryn’s faces told all that there was nothing hidden or of value within the room.

“Let us rest while we can,” Raven suggested.  “This seems the best place to recuperate before we continue our exploration.”

Ska’arr nodded in agreement.  “But before we set up a watch, I have something important to tell you.”  A disturbed look crossed his eyes.  Sitting down, he opened his backpack, giving Lord Farragut an easy exit from his somewhat crowded quarters.  Climbing down Ska’arr’s arm, Lord Farragut nestled in the crook of his elbow.  Ska’arr began to pet Lord Farragut absently.

Ska’arr’s tone was solemn.  “For a while, I have felt the dual nature within one of us.”  Scuro was surprised.  He hadn’t thought Ska’arr was that perceptive.  Showing none of his consternation, he began gathering his energy for the battle to come.

Ska’arr looked at each of his companions.  “There are two souls warring for control and I don’t know which one is winning.”  Beneath his cloak, Scuro’s hands began tracing a complex pattern, the precursor to a devastating spell.

Ska’arr looked down lovingly at Lord Farragut.  “I need your help.  When Lord Farragut was brought back from the Deep Wilds, another soul latched on and entered Lord Farragut’s body.  Now they fight for dominance and I do not know which is winning.”  Scuro halted his incantation.

“How do you know about the second soul?” Shribryn asked.

A pained look crossed Ska’arr’s face.  “I feel it through the bond we share.  At first, I was too happy with Lord Farragut’s return and I ignored what I sensed.  But as time progressed, I could feel the other within him.”

Kat was greatly disturbed.  “What can you tell us about the other soul?”

“All I know that it is evil.”  Ska’arr looked pleadingly at Pelias, Ro-Lund-Do, and Thraor.  “Please.  I need your help.  Can you remove the other soul?  Can you make Lord Farragut whole?”

Ro-Lund-Do reached forward.  Though he knew the answer to the question already, he made a show of helping.  Incanting quickly, Scuro stretched his senses, looking for any traces of undead.  If it is an undead spirit, I could use this to my advantage.  Frustration showed on his face when he couldn’t find any signs of an undead spirit.  The others looked at him questioningly.  “I can sense the other soul, but nothing else.”

Pelias placed a reassuring hand on Ska’arr’s arm.  “We shall find a way to purge Lord Farragut of the second soul.  Do not worry in that regard.  There is a solution and it will be found.”

Setting up camp, the group lay down to rest while two of their members took turns with the watch.  Sooner than she would have liked, Raven was woken up for her turn at watch.  Rolling over, she saw that Ro-Lund-Do was being woken as well.  Shaking out the kinks in her limbs, she moved towards the doorway to begin her watch.

No sooner had she done so when a dark cloud formed overhead.  Hailstones, as big as grapes, pounded down on the party.  Roused from their rest, the hailstorm made it nearly impossible to stand, let alone react to the attack.  Above the drumming of the hailstones, they could all hear mocking laughter.

In the hallway, a golden elf with a skin of fine scales had appeared as her invisibility dropped.  Unfurling her bat-like wings, she turned and launched herself into the air.  Her wings pumping mightily, she brushed off Prima’s attack and quickly made her way down the hallway.

Ska’arr had rolled to his feet and rushed forward to smash the offending daemonfey.  Scuro had stepped into the entrance of the room to command his minions.  Ska’arr placed his hand on Ro-Lund-Do’s shoulder to move him aside so that he could continue his pursuit.  “Outta my way, skinny boy!”

Surprisingly, Ska’arr was unable to shove Ro-Lund=Do out of his way.  To Ska’arr, it seemed that Ro-Lund-Do was rooted to the ground, as immovable as a mountain.  Scuro’s glare caused Ska’arr to pause.  Turning back to address his minions, Scuro barked out his orders.  “Secondo, go and grab that flying freak so we can better learn about our enemies.”

As Secundo stepped forward to obey his master, his feet slipped out from underneath him.  The hallway had been greased, slowing pursuit.  With a snarl, Secundo became gaseous and floated down the hall.  Bypassing the greased floor, Secundo solidified and ran after the daemonfey.

Even as Scuro commanded his minions, Raven leaped forward.  In mid-air, her body changed suddenly into that of a large hawk, and she began to flap her wings, quickly accelerating towards the fleeing daemonfey.

The daemonfey looked back at her pursuer and smirked.  “Interesting.  You will be the first.”  Rounding the corner, Raven lost sight of her prey.  A heartbeat later, she turned the corner, but all that was before her was an empty hallway.  Taken aback, she scoured the hallway for any sign of the daemonfey, but found none.  Turning back, she rejoined the others.  They had not progressed far due to the greased floor, but at least none had fallen.  Coming in to land, she changed back to her human form in mid-swoop and landed softly.

“Our enemy vanished without a trace!” Raven spat out.  “They are cowards.  They come in and nibble at our flanks, then run away!  Why won’t they stand and fight?”

Shribryn chuckled dryly.  “Would you want to face us?”

Raven pondered her statement and smiled.  “I guess not.”

After a quick search, there were no signs of any further attacks.  Returning to their disturbed rest, the remainder of the time passed without incident.  Packing up, they headed back to the surface to explore the last tomb.

Then final tomb seemed unremarkable.  Its door was unlocked and was not trapped.  Opening the outer door, another staircase led down into the bowels of the earth.  “Why can’t tombs be full of nice flowers and fruit-filled drinks?” Kat asked.

Thraor chuckled.  “How many dwarves you know who like flowers and fruit-filled drinks?”

“This seems to be the last area,” Shribryn commented.  “Let us prepare ourselves.”  Casting various defensive spells to bolster their abilities, they headed down the staircase.  At the bottom, the staircase led to an empty, spacious room.  A large pair of double doors sat opposite the staircase.  The doors were adorned with an elaborate bas-relief (GET DESCRIPTION FROM NANAO).

Kat crept into the room, her senses a-tingle.  A sharp snap stopped her dead in her tracks.  Looking down, she noticed that small bones were scattered throughout the room.  Scouring the area for any traps, the only notable thing she found was a pressure plate in front of the double doors.  I won’t be fooled again.  Checking the area a second time for any additional traps, she went to work on the pressure plates to render them inert.

As Kat drew out her tools, an almost imperceptible shadow passed by.  Looking up, she saw Ro-Lund-Do directing Secundo.  An expression of concentration was painted on his face.  Secundo seemed to become even more diffuse and gaseous as he slid through the crack between the double doors.

Drawing forth her animalistic energy, Raven’s fists began to glow with a magical aura.  Stepping behind Kat, she prepared herself for whatever surprises would be coming through the doorway.

Thraor was intrigued by the bas-relief on the double doors.  Stepping forward, Kat halted him with an outstretched arm.  “Easy there, friend dwarf,” she chided.  “You almost stepped on a pressure plate that I found.”

Looking down absently, Thraor returned his gaze to the double doors.  Without taking his eyes off the bas-relief, he asked, “What did you do to the pressure plate?  I saw you fiddling with it before.”

Kat was confused by Thraor’s question.  “Well, I disabled it.  I usually don’t like traps going off in my face.”

Thraor finished examining the bas-relief and turned to Kat.  “I’m no expert, but I think the pressure plate could be used to open the door.”  Pointing at the images engraved on the double doors, he continued.  “This seems to be, not only a resting place for the devoted, but a place of worship where the faithful could come and pray.  The pressure plate would be a mechanism used to impress the devout and any guests.”

Kat was not fully convinced.  “So, you want me to reactivate the pressure plate?”  Thraor nodded.  Hesitating for only a moment, Kat began removing the blocks she had put in to disable the pressure plate.

As Kat worked, a flow of smoke drifted from the crack in the double doors.  Anticipating an attack, the party prepared to strike.  “Stop!” Scuro’s tone was commanding.  It is only Secundo returning to report his findings.”

The gas coalesced and Secundo stood before his master.  Opening his mind, Secundo relayed what he had observed to Scuro.  Beyond the doorway is a massive room.  The room has few features.  There are two rows of columns supporting the ceiling and there are massive stone statues on either side of the doorway.  They depict dwarven warriors, but they are heroic in their proportions.  The ceiling spans 60’ and there are torches on each column providing minimal lighting in the room.  At the end other end of the room is a raised altar.  A stone canopy, resting on four pillars, sits above the altar.

Scuro digested the information.  The ceiling is 60’ high?  But we are only 20’ below the surface of the earth.  Have we entered an extradimensional pocket?  What will that mean for our spells?  How can I use this information to my advantage?

Ro-Lund-Do pondered the dilemma.  If we are to achieve our goals, then we must tell the others.

Scuro pondered the dilemma.  Agreed.  We will appear to be supporting the group.  This will prove beneficial in the future.  But do not grow too attached to them.  They are merely tools.  Ro-Lund-Do quickly disclosed what he had learned from Secundo and his concerns.  “I am not certain if our spell-casting will be effective.  If the laws of nature are being bent or broken to house this extradimensional space, then we may lose contact with the Weave and our deities.”

Silence fell over the group.  Raven was the first to speak.  “What choice do we have?”  Looking at the others, they all knew the answer to the rhetorical question.  “Then let’s get to it.”

Ska’arr stepped onto the pressure plate, but nothing happened.  Chanting quickly, he sent forth invisible tendrils of energy to open the doors.  The plate beneath his feet sank down an inch, and he heard a slight grinding noise as the doors opened up.  Moving forward, Ska’arr heard both Ro-Lund-Do and Pelias casting spells.

As Ro-Lund-Do finished his spell, the entire party felt energized – their nerves were afire and their movements were blurred.  As Pelias finished his spell, Ska’arr’s already large frame enlarged as he took his first ponderous step into the room.

As soon as the doors opened, they could all hear the sound of stone grating on either side.  Kat and Raven moved forward to flank Ska’arr.  Kat removed a small flask from her belt and pulled the cork out with her teeth.  Pouring the contents of the flask onto one of her blades, it began to glow with a magical radiance.  Raven’s muscles bulged as she completed her spell.  Their defenses were sound and they moved together into the room.

The approaching sound of heavy footsteps drowned out all other thought.  The torches in the room provided minimal lighting and the party waited for their opponents to appear.  They didn’t have to wait long.  Two dwarven statues, each nine feet in height, came into view and began swinging giant stone axes.

Thraor closed his eyes and prayed.  “Moradin, grant me the resolve to see this combat through.  Clangeddin Silverbeard, grant me the strength to smite our enemies.”  Chanting, he opened a mystic channel between himself and Ska’arr.  As the first stone golem’s axe connected, Thraor bit back his cry of anguish.  He could feel Ska’arr’s flesh and muscle pulp under the impact of the axe.  Gripping his shoulder, he could feel the blood begin to pour out of the wound he shared with Ska’arr.

Ska’arr had run into the room, hoping to draw the golems towards him, leaving their flanks exposed to the others.  His plan was only partially successful.  As he ran forward, the golems focused on him.  Their stone axes swung out, one landing a painful blow on his shoulder.  He stumbled slightly but continued to run forward.  Or at least he tried.

As he approached the first set of pillars, he ran straight into an invisible force and staggered back.  The wall of force was blocked his path, but he couldn’t tell if it spanned the entire room or not.  Trapped between both golems, he began to whirl his chain.

Thraor clutched his side as he coughed up blood.  How is Ska’arr still standing?  He tried to heal himself, but he couldn’t maintain the proper focus through the excruciating pain.  Suddenly, his breathing became less labored and the pain began to fade.  Looking back, he saw Pelias removing his hand from his injured shoulder.  Moving it gingerly, Thraor only felt a small twinge of pain.

Seeing his master in danger, Baron Longtooth roared his challenge and rushed into the room.  Dodging to the left, he managed to dodge one axe blow, but it left him vulnerable to the other golem.  The golem’s eyes glowed as a feeling of lethargy swept over Ska’arr, Lord Farragut and Baron Longtooth.  Baron Longtooth continued to slowly amble forward.  The first strike staggered the bear, knocking him prone, causing his skull to rattle.  Shaking his head, he refused to give up.  Regaining his feet, he barely saw the golem’s foot lash out and strike him in the side, caving in his ribs.  Collapsing to the ground, Baron Longtooth convulsed.

“No!”  Ska’arr was in a state of rage.  Not again!  Before he could do anything, Lord Farragut plucked a goodberry from Ska’arr’s belt pouch, placed it in his mouth, and scurried down Ska’arr’s body.  The golem swung his axe low to strike the ferret.  With perfect timing, Lord Farragut leaped over the axe.  Landing in midstride, he continued to run towards Baron Longtooth.

Reaching his friend, Lord Farragut forced Baron Longtooth’s jaws open and spat the goodberry down the bear’s throat.  Immediately, the bear’s breathing stabilized and the flow of blood ceased.  Though Baron Longtooth was stable, he was far from safe.  His only hope now was for the two-legs to deal with the rockmen quickly.

Even as Thraor stumbled to his knees, Shribryn ran past him and vanished from view.  She had no trouble sensing where the golems were located as she manoeuvred to land a decisive blow.

Kat rushed into the room, rolling quickly to the left to avoid a stone axe.  Back on her feet, she surged forward, too quick for the golem to respond, and plunged her glowing sword deeply into the golem’s leg.  The leg cracked and the golem had difficulty maintaining its balance.  Perfect.

Pulling her sword out quickly, Kat tumbled between the golem’s legs.  As the golem reached for her, Kat’s sword lashed out at the golem’s exposed ankle, shearing through it.  The golem teetered and it tried to maintain its balance, which provided more weak points for Kat to exploit.  Leaping up, she kicked the golem in the lower back.  Normally, this would have had no impact, but she had timed it flawlessly.  The golem fell to the ground, throwing its arms in front of itself.  Darting forward, her sword cleft through the golem’s wrist.

As the golem continued its fall, Kat braced the hilt of her sword on the ground, its point aimed straight up.  Kat’s sword was jarred from her hand as the golem’s throat was impaled.  The impact was so brutal that the golem’s neck shattered, causing its head to roll along the floor.  Picking up her sword, she brushed the dust from her hair.  Well, that was easy.

Raven’s approach was more straightforward than Kat`s.  Two black tentacles sprouted from her shoulder blades, arching over her shoulders just in time to deflect the second golem’s axe.  Her glowing fist smashed into the golem’s abdomen.  A living creature would have died from the severity of the damage caused by Raven’s single blow, but the golem seemed to pay the wound no mind.  Lashing out with its fist, the golem smashed down on Raven’s head.  Seeing stars, Raven fought desperately to stay conscious, but it was a losing battle.

As the golem’s axe lifted to strike down Raven, Ska’arr’s chain smashed into its side twice, knocking it sideways.  A cascade of dust and pebbles fell from the golem as it reoriented on its most recent attacker.

As Raven tumbled towards unconsciousness, she felt herself being held up.  Though her vision was blurred, she thought she saw Pelias’ grim face.  Holy energy surged through Raven’s body, closing her wounds and revitalizing her.

Seeing that the others had the golems well in hand, Scuro sent forth Secundo with a mental command.  Explore the invisible barrier within the room and determine its dimensions.  Secundo flew forward and began feeling the invisible barrier.  Secundo soon found that the invisible wall spanned the midsection of the room but only reached a height of 20’.  Secundo turned to report back to its master and saw a hideous monstrosity appear behind Scuro.

It appeared to be a giant wolf spider, but unlike any wolf spider born in Faerun.  It was covered in variegated markings in white, gray, and blue over its legs and back.  Its eight eyes were silver-white and gleamed with intelligence beyond that of a simple spider.  Sinking its fangs into Scuro’s shoulder, Scuro could feel the venom pumping into his body.

Crying out in pain, Ro-Lund-Do wrenched himself free.  He quickly drew his dagger and cut his shoulder deeply.  His blood poured out, but so did the venom.  Even as he cast a spell to freeze the blood in its marrow, the phase spider vanished back to the ethereal plane.  Knowing he couldn’t track the foul creature to its own plane and that it could attack with impunity, Scuro looked about for a solution. 

Poor fools.  Scuro now understood why there were bones scattered about the room – the remains of the phase spider’s previous victims.  Maybe I can give them some justice.  Closing his eyes, he sent forth his arcane might.  Bone snicked against bone as two ossified frames rose from the remains of the phase spider’s victims.  Attack the phase spider if it appears.  With that, Ro-Lund-Do entered the large room to examine the mysterious altar.

Kat ran towards the second golem.  As she drew near, Shribryn suddenly appeared behind the golem, her chain burning with supernatural flames.  Her chain lashed down, ripping a deep furrow in the golem’s back.  The golem whirled around to attack Shribryn, just as she had hoped.

Now with an open target, Kat leaped up and drove her sword to the hilt into the golem’s back.  The force of the blow staggered the golem, causing it to stumble to its knees.  As it tried to stand, Raven appeared, her fists glowing with magical energy.  Her blow caught the golem on the side of its head.  The powerful strike shattered the golem’s head, sending shards of stone flying.  The golem’s body dropped to the floor, the magic energizing it destroyed.

Pelias went from person to person, examining their injuries and doing his best to treat them.  Noticing that they were all distracted, Scuro released his hold on the skeletons he had raised.  They were no longer needed and he didn’t want to deal with any petty consequences if they had been seen.  Continuing to the altar, Scuro saw that the dais upon which the altar stood was covered in elaborate carvings (GET DESCRIPTION FROM NANAO).  He also noticed that the bas-reliefs on the dais were partially defaced.

The others joined Ro-Lund-Do.  They still bore wounds, but they were determined to see this quest to its end.  Pelias extended his senses in the hope of finding the magical aura of the Tome of Moradin.  His mind was overwhelmed by the strength of the magic encompassing the dais and altar as he was knocked unconscious.  Thraor rushed over and checked Pelias’ vitals.  Seeing that they were good, he signalled to the others that he would watch over Pelias as he recovered.  In short order, Pelias regained consciousness.  His head pounded but he was otherwise unhurt.

Kat’s voice piped up beside Ro-Lund-Do.  “What happened to those guys?”  Several skeletons lay sprawled about the steps of the dais.  The ribs and spine of the first skeleton were splintered.  The second had its skull cracked open.  The bones of the lower body of a third skeleton were smashed.

Ro-Lund-Do shrugged.  They were of no use to him – the skeletons were too badly damaged.  As Kat searched about the dais, Ro-Lund-Do examined the ruined bas-reliefs.

Raven was looking at the four pillars holding up the tone canopy.  “Hey, the pillars aren’t stone like the others.  They seem to be made of...steel?”  She turned to Thraor.  “Why?  Is there any significance?”  Thraor shook his head, uncertain.

Shribryn had been examining one of the skeletons and found that a scroll still clutched in its hand.  Gently easing it out, it flaked and tore.  Its age was quite obvious.  “Found something.  But I need a little help.”

“I will decipher the writing,” Ro-Lund-Do offered.  Of course the blind girl finds a scroll.  Perusing the runes on the scroll, Scuro saw that the writing was in Infernal.

Eyes, Ears, Hands, Feet
Their goals together
To meet

Brain, nose, tongue, heart,
Work alone to do their part

Scuro swore softly.  “What is it?” Shribryn asked.

Scuro frowned.  “The message is incomplete.  The scroll seems to be torn and the rest of the message is missing.”

Kat had continued to examine the dais.  She saw that the steel pillars didn’t seem to support the stone canopy above the altar.  Strange.  Approaching the nearby wall, she began scaling it to get a closer look at the stone canopy.  As she climbed, she saw that the steel pillars passed through holes in the stone canopy, but didn’t actually touch it.  Climbing higher, she noted that the canopy touched the roof, but wasn’t attached to it.  How is the canopy sitting there without any support?  Oh wait.  Magic.  It could be a trap.  That would explain the crushed skeletons.  The canopy fell on them.  But then, how did the canopy return to the top of the pillars?  And why was it not damaged?  Hmmm.  Seeing nothing else of interest, she called down to the others about what she had found.

This proved to be a mistake.  As Kat told them to back away from the dais, she lost her grip and fell.  Pushing away from the wall, Kat threw a rope around the closest steel pillar.  Swinging out, from the pillar, she sailed around in a graceful arc.  Releasing the rope when she neared the apex of her swing, she somersaulted and landed neatly into Ska’arr’s waiting arms.  “Thanks, handsome.”  Ska’arr simply grinned as he put Kat down.

Scuro had continued to examine the bas-reliefs on the dais.  At the bottom of the dais, he saw that there was more writing in Infernal.

The body star
Provides the key
Two pairs and one
To open me

But all efforts fail
Unless they start
From one place only
The depths of heart

Scuro walked up the steps of the dais.  “Ro-Lund-Do!  Get back!” Kat cried out.  “The dais may be one giant trap!”

“Do not be absurd,” Scuro retorted.  “If it had been a trap, you would have surely activated it when you did your acrobatics.  I need to examine the altar more closely.  There may be further clues.”  Prima and Secundo followed their master up the stairs.

Master, look!  Secundo pointed at the front of the altar.  Scuro saw that the front of the altar was made of panels that resemble the bas-relief on the double doors.  Kneeling to get a closer look, Scuro noticed that the panels were set in channels.  Placing his hand on the first panel, he moved it over easily.  The panels seemed to depict the image of a person, but the image was all jumbled up.

Looking at the rest of the altar, there were only panels on the front of the altar.  The body star provides the key...  Inspiration struck Scuro.  Stepping off the dais, Scuro sent a mental command to his minion.  Secundo, lie down on the altar.  Following his master’s command, the vampire spawn lay down on the altar, not knowing what to expect.

Suddenly, the four steel pillars vanished.  Kat had a look of dismay.  “Uh oh.”  But the stone canopy didn’t fall as expected when the pillars disappeared.  Instead, it remained motionless.  Still worried, she slipped into the shadows and vanished from sight.

Expecting trouble, Pelias beseeched his deity for aid.  A feeling of power surged up in the party as they braced themselves for whatever was coming.

A sound of a heavy step caused them to look back quickly.  Two metallic humanoids resembling steel, armored giants had appeared behind the party.  Lifting mighty swords, they stepped forward to attack.

Ska’arr immediately recognized the threat – iron golems.  Summoning an invisible barrier of force in front of him, he intoned a quick spell and grew suddenly to twice his size.  Twirling his chain, Ska’arr winced – he was still badly injured from the last battle – but there was no other choice.  Shouting his defiance, he struck the first golem solidly across the chest.

Scuro also recognized the threat and knew that their chances of winning were slim.  Creating a burst of arcane power, Scuro energized the party once more, adding speed to all their motions.  “They are vulnerable to electricity!  It may be our only hope of surviving!”

Raven closed her eyes and focused.  Exciting the particles in the air, the hair on her arms began to rise up.  A smell of ozone permeated the air about her.  Pointing at the first iron golem, a bolt of lightning struck down from the air above it.  Sparks danced about the surface of the golem as the lightning coursed through its body.  The golem continued to move towards Ska’arr, but now its motions were no longer fluid.  Every action the golem took was interrupted by short spasms, slowing the golem down.

Thraor stepped behind Ska’arr, placing his hand on Ska’arr’s leg.  Holy energy coursed through Ska’arr’s body, closing his wounds and easing his pain.

The second golem stepped past its slowed companion to strike Ska’arr.  A green orb sailed over Ska’arr’s shoulder and struck the golem in the face.  Immediately, there was a sizzling sound as acid dug deep gouges in the golem’s face.

Seeing the golem moving unheeded towards its master, Baron Longtooth stepped in front of the golem and roared defiantly.  The golem opened its mouth wide and belched out a sickly brown cloud that enveloped the brave bear.

Losing sight of Baron Longtooth, suddenly the bear leapt out of the poisonous cloud and clawed the golem’s leg, hoping to knock it over.  Sadly, the bear’s claws broke on the golem’s metallic exterior.  The golem’s fist smashed down, once, twice, three times, leaving Baron Longtooth a bloody mess.

“No!” Ska’arr stepped forward and smashed at the golem.  His chain only managed to hit glancing blows.  Undeterred, the golem made to strike at Ska’arr when a bolt of lightning struck it from above.  Overcome with spasms, the second golem was slowed.

Pelias continued to launch orbs of acid at the golem.  The acid deeply etched the golem’s surface, but, feeling no pain, it continued to attack.  Slowly, the party retreated, but they were quickly running out of room.  Raven’s bolts of lightning kept striking the golems, and it was only due to them that the party remained alive.  If the golems had been at full capacity, they would have pulped the party quickly.

Seeing that his strikes were ineffective, Ska’arr tried cunning.  Whipping his chain out, he tried to wrap it around the first golem’s legs to trip it.  The golem’s arm reached out at the last moment and it caught the chain.  The golem yanked on the chain, pulling Ska’arr off-balance.  With a choice of losing his weapon or being pulled to the ground, Ska’arr quickly dropped his chain and drew his greatsword.  He knew the sword would not be very effective against the golems, but he had no choice.

Shribryn suddenly appeared behind the second golem.  With a slight twist of her wrist, her extended finger seemed to carve a portion of the shadows around her.  With another twist, the shadowy rope flew forward and wrapped around the golem’s neck, coiling tighter and tighter.  The shadow stuff dug deeply into the golem’s neck, causing the metal to warp.  Yanking her arm back, the shadowy rope pulled back, putting the golem on its heels.

Beside Shribryn, Kat stepped out of the shadows.  Whipping her arms forward, twin daggers slammed into the golem’s back.  Unfortunately, the daggers barely seemed to make a mark.  “This doesn’t seem to be working!”  Kat had difficulty keeping the panic out of her voice.  Backing away, she absently caught her magical dagger as it returned to her hand.

Thraor ran to the altar.  “The solution may be in the puzzle!” 

Ro-Lund-Do ran up and joined the dwarf.  “You will need my intellect to solve it.”  Turning back to the others, he called out, “You need to buy us some time.”

With a heavy sigh, Ska’arr threw himself forward, his greatsword poised for a devastating attack.  The golem belched out a blast of noxious gas which surrounded Ska’arr.  Stepping out of the gas, Ska’arr suddenly planted his front foot and pivoted on it, his greatsword leading.  It was an act of desperation.  Ska’arr knew he couldn’t take much more punishment and he had to end the battle quickly.

The air hummed as his greatsword slashed towards the golem.  The momentum of the blow was so great that it would cleave a great oak in two, but it left Ska’arr vulnerable.  The golem’s fist lashed out and struck a devastating blow to the back of Ska’arr’s head as he spun.  Staggered, Ska’arr stumbled in mid-swing.  Losing his grip on his sword, it continued to spin, but instead of a well-placed blow, the sword’s hilt hit the golem’s chest just as Ska’arr lurched forward, off-balance.  The sword’s blade pierced armor, pierced flesh, pierced organs.  Impaled on his own blade, Ska’arr managed to pull the sword out as he staggered away from the golem.  Coughing up blood, he was amazed that he barely felt any pain.  Must be the shock.  Clutching his side, he absently noted that the flow of blood was slowing.

While Thraor was moving one of the altar’s panels, he collapsed to the ground.  Coughing up blood, his vision blurred.  The trauma to Ska’arr was equally devastating to the one sharing the trauma.  Praying desperately to Moradin, Thraor clutched his blood-soaked side and channeled positive energy.  As his vision cleared, he saw Pelias focusing orb after orb at the golem’s neck.

Dancing back to avoid the golem’s counter attacks, Pelias continued his relentless assault.  As the golem raised its arm to strike, the golem’s head wobbled on an uncertain neck.  The golem stumbled and tried to readjust its head.  Even as its hands reached up, the golem’s head fell, denting the ground.  The headless golem collapsed and moved no more.

Turning to the others, Pelias saw Shribryn reach Ska’arr as Kat engaged the golem.  Kat rushed forward, dodging and weaving, towards the remaining golem.  Her movements were so graceful that she seemed to be performing a dance.  But if she had one misstep in this dance, the consequences would be dire.  Her sword flashed suddenly as she ran between the golem’s legs.  Lashing out left and right, she sought to cripple the golem, but her blade made little impact.  But her attack served its purpose – the golem was no longer focused on Ska’arr.  As the golem turned to focus on Kat, she winked and vanished from sight.  The golem peered about but could find no sign of Kat.

Ignoring the blood pumping from Ska’arr’s wounds, Shribryn reached forward with one hand while the other clutched her belt.  The belt glowed, and the glow traveled up Shribryn’s arm to the hand placed on Ska’arr’s gruesome wound.  Ska’arr’s eyes had begun to glass over, but suddenly, they were filled with life once more.

“My thanks.”  Standing up, Ska’arr went to attack the golem.  As he stood, blood continued to drip from his body.

Shribryn was taken aback.  “Wait!  You are in no condition to fight!  If you get hit again, I won’t be able to bring you back!”

Ska’arr smiled the smile of one who knows death is so near it is past fearing.  His voice was grim.  “The golem must be stopped, no matter the cost.”  Raising his greatsword, he slammed the blade down on the golem’s neck, digging a deep furrow and staggering the golem.  The golem’s fist struck a glancing blow and Ska’arr continued his assault on the golem.  Shribryn’s chain struck the golem, but it paid it no mind and focused on Ska’arr.

Suddenly, green orbs struck the golem’s wounded neck.  The acid worked quickly and the second golem’s head fell to the ground, followed by the rest of its body.

Blood still dripped from Ska’arr.  Pelias reached forward to heal him, but he shook his head.  “Please check on Baron Longtooth.”  Pelias ran over to the noble bear, but it was too late.  Ska’arr’s brave companion had already made the journey to the Deep Wilds and would patiently wait for its master and friend to join him once their journeys were complete.

Ska’arr’s expression was unreadable.  He rubbed his forehead with the palm of his hand and his face became starkly grave.  He knelt beside his fallen companion and closed Baron Longtooth’s eyes.  Lord Farragut scurried out of Ska’arr’s backpack and hesitantly crept up to Baron Longtooth’s battered body.  Lord Farragut’s ears drooped in dismay and anguish.  Nipping at his friend’s ear, he tried to wake Baron Longtooth from his slumber.  But Lord Farragut knew his friend would not waken from his deep sleep.  Rubbing Baron Longtooth behind the ears, Ska’arr said in a soothing tone, “Well fought my friend.”  Ska’arr began to weep in a dignified manner for the loss of his friend.

Placing a consoling hand on Ska’arr’s shoulder, Pelias opened a channel of holy energy that flowed into Ska’arr’s battered body.  Though physically healed, Pelias knew Ska’arr’s emotional wounds would continue to bleed.  Leaving his friend to his grief, Pelias went to the others and healed their wounds using his wand.

Kat felt Ska’arr’s anguish.  Focusing on examining the golem’s bodies, she hoped that she would not feel the full force of her emotions for some time, and by then they would be deadened and somewhat choked.  Interesting.  One of the golem’s has an emblem of a sword etched into its chest, but the other doesn’t.  I wonder if this has any significance in regards to the puzzle.  Other than the emblem, neither golem had anything else of interest or value.

“Aha!” Kat turned to see Thraor’s excitement as Ro-Lund-Do manipulated the engraved panels on the altar.  Following the riddle’s instructions, he shifted the panels about until a figure emerged with the image of the body star in the center.  They all heard a quiet click.  Scuro’s smile of triumph swiftly changed to a frown of frustration.  The front of the altar opened up to reveal twelve flat stones positioned in a circle.  They had only solved the first part of the puzzle.

Thraor and Secundo pushed the flat stones and tried to manipulate them, but nothing happened.  Ro-Lund-Do grumbled, “We are still missing something.”  What is the missing piece?  Scuro had another flash of insight.  Standing up, Ro-Lund-Do hopped up onto the altar and lay down spread-eagle.

A gentle rumbling sound emerged from the altar as it split in two.  Ro-Lund-Do rolled off the altar as it had begun shifting and examined his handiwork.  Inside the altar, various treasures glittered (DAVE HAS THE LIST OF TREASURE – I KNOW SHOCKING – GET LIST AND ADD IT TO THE DESCRIPTION).  Looking down, Scuro saw an amulet housed in the center of the circle of twelve flat stones.  When the altar had split open, the amulet was at the forefront of the treasure trove, on display for all to see.

“The Eye of the Dragon!” Thraor breathed.  Picking up the amulet, he handed it to Pelias.  Examining the amulet for magic, Pelias was once more knocked unconscious by the intensity of the magical field emanating from the amulet.  Several minutes later, Pelias regained consciousness.

Thraor handed the amulet to Ska’arr.  “I hope it was worth it,” he said.

Ska’arr looked at the Eye of the Dragon.  “I hope so too.”

Examining the rest of the tomb, the party found nothing else of value.  Shribryn was annoyed.  “Still no Tome of Moradin?  We’ve run out of places to look!”

Raven shook her head.  “Almost.  You forget the trap door in the center of these dwarven grounds.  We have as yet to explore what lies beneath it.”

Gathering the items of value, Ska’arr pulled Baron Longtooth’s body and placed it in front of the altar.  “Forgive me for not burying you properly.  I know you would prefer being returned to the earth that sired you, but I hope these accommodations will do for now.  Once this is over, I will return for you and give you the proper burial you deserve.”  Rejoining the others, they somberly left the tomb.  Closing the double doors behind him, Ska’arr asked Kat to reset the pressure plate.  Nodding, Kat did what he asked.

Heading to the trap door, Kat examined it for traps.  Finding nothing, she saw that the stone trap door had no handle.  Hmmm...  That’s annoying.  Motioning over to Ska’arr, he gripped the sides of the trap door, but couldn’t get a good enough grip to open it.  Thraor stepped forward and hammered in pins into the trap door.  Attaching ropes to the pins, Ska’arr took a firm grip of the ropes and pulled.  Individual muscles stood out on his thighs like a network of thick bands.  The hard flesh of his bare arms writhed as though small animals roved under his skin.  The trap door did not move.

Ska’arr adjusted his grip, took a deep breath, and screamed a wordless, guttural yell that caused the others’ neck hair to stand on end.  With a contraction that caused his rock-hard thews to vibrate, the young giant took a step back, pulling the trap door slowly open.  For a moment he stood there holding the trap door partially open, great veins standing out all over his exposed flesh like tiny snakes.  Then Ska’arr gave a final heave and the trap door fell open with a ground-shaking crash.

Ska’arr shook himself once and stretched his shoulders.  He turned and saw his friends staring.  Ska’arr grinned sheepishly – he never liked being the center of attention.  “Let us proceed.”

Kat shook her head in amazement.  No man could be that strong...  Looking at the opening beneath the trap door, she saw that there was a square shaft, 10’ across, that dropped straight down about 80’.  A solid ladder, anchored into the side of the shaft, travelled all the way down to the bottom.  Tapping the ladder with a small hammer, she knew the ladder was solidly built and would support all their weight.  The rungs were perfectly smooth, but that was more of an indication of the quality of the workmanship and not the indication of a trap.

Finished with her examination, Kat couldn’t help herself and called over to Ska’arr, “The trap door was a push door, not a pull door.”  Ska’arr grinned.  I’m glad he’s still able to smile.  Confident that the ladder was safe, Kat scurried down.  The others followed close behind.  Thraor admired the craftsmanship involved in the making of the shaft and ladder.  They both had to be centuries old, yet looked like they had just been made.  His focus on the dwarven-made work proved perilous for the group.  As he stepped down to the next rung, Thraor’s mind was distracted.  His hand slipped and suddenly, he was falling.

Ska’arr heard Thraor’s cry of alarm and looked up.  Ska’arr saw the dwarf tumbling end over end down towards him.  Bracing his feet and one hand, Ska’arr reached out and grabbed the dwarf as he hurtled past.  The added weight jerked Ska’arr’s hand from the ladder and then both were falling.

Ska’arr immediately called forth his arcane power.  “Pfeatherfall.”  His fall slowed as he floated down the shaft.  Thraor continued his fall down the shaft, running into Kat on the way down.  Jarred from the ladder, Kat tucked her body tight, somersaulting, before planting her feet on the opposing side of the shaft.  Pushing off, she leapt back towards the ladder.  Gripping the exterior of the rails of the ladder, Kat began sliding down.  Applying pressure with both her feet and hands, she controlled her descent.  Kat heard a loud crash.

As she reached the base of the ladder, she threw herself into a roll, cushioning herself even further.  As she rolled, she drew her weapons.  She tumbled past the fallen dwarf and took up a defensive stance.  Thraor groaned as he pulled himself up off the stone floor.  Ska’arr landed lightly beside Thraor and glanced down to check the dwarf’s condition.

“I think we need to work on those climbing skills,” Ska’arr said.

Thraor spat out blood and nodded in agreement.  Though he had fallen far, his sturdy frame had absorbed most of the punishment and he was not too badly hurt.

The shaft had led to a rectangular room 20’ by 10’.  The room was bare except for a stone door.  Checking the door, Kat could find no traps, no locks, and no way to open it.  “Pesky dwarves,” she said under her breath.  She jumped when she heard Thraor cough gently behind her.

Kat turned red as she stepped aside.  Thraor examined the door.  The door was definitely dwarven-made, but there was nothing peculiar about it other than the fact there seemed to be no mechanism to open it.  He repeated Kat’s comment, “Pesky dwarves.”

Pelias stepped forward.  “Allow me.”  Unfurling a scroll, he began to chant.  An almost invisible force exuded from his outstretched hand and seeped between the cracks in the door.  Suddenly, the door swung open.  Behind the door, they saw a huge circular room lit by numerous smokeless torches on the walls.  The walls themselves had carvings, but the party was too far away to tell what the carvings represented.  A large platform, 5’ high sat in the left side of the room.  Four sarcophagi rested on the platform.  In the center of the room was a large circular dais, about half-a-foot high.  Beyond the dais was an altar, though none could see to which deity it was dedicated to.  To the right of the altar was a strange sight:  a 5’ by 5’ by 5’ stone block that floated in the air.  Stairs led up to the floating stone, but they couldn’t tell its purpose.  There seemed to be no imminent threat within the room, but the party entered cautiously.

Ska’arr drew his silver greatsword and stepped in.  Kat poured a vial of silversheen on her sword.  Ro-Lund-Do encased Raven and himself in a protective field.  Focusing his spiritual and arcane energy, Ro-Lund-Do then created a ghostly, glowing hand shaped from his life force.  The ghostly spectral hand moved in front of Ro-Lund-Do, ready to act as a conduit for his spells.

“Let’s check the sarcophagi first,” Kat suggested.  “They’ll probably have the most loot...errr....I mean have the greater chance of providing information about where the Tome of Moradin is located.”

As they approached the platform, Thraor was examining the carvings on the wall.  They all seem to be dwarven made.  They seemed to be the tenets of the Morndinsamman.  The carvings on the wall seemed to focus on the proper behaviour all dwarves should follow to enter Dwarfhome.

Kat began searching the stairs.  There was an incredibly thin layer of dust on everything and it didn’t seem like it had been disturbed in an extremely long time.  Certain there were no traps on the stairs, Kat began lifting her foot to take her step up on the stairs.

Ro-Lund-Do’s placed his hand on her shoulder, stopping Kat.  His grip was gentle but firm.  She couldn’t move onto the steps if she wanted to.  “Let me check for any restless dead,” he recommended.  “Then you can continue this search for Moradin’s Tome.”  Scuro’s eyes went all black as he searched for the tell-tale aura of any re-animated creatures.  Finding none, he relayed what he had found.

Kat and Shribryn climbed the stairs and began examining the sarcophagi.  Each was ornately carved – the carvings seemed to trace the lives of four different dwarves.

From the stairs, Thraor peered intently at the first sarcophagus.  Examining the carvings, he mumbled to himself.  “...Bolk of citadel Kachar...xenophobic hatred...banished from his home...”

The last statement caught Pelias’ attention.  It was rare for a dwarf to be banished.  In fact, it was considered to be a punishment worse than death.  Thinking back, he realized that the sarcophagus could hold the remains of Bolk, once of Kachar, a small dwarven citadel in the Ice Mountains.  Bolk had been banished for abandoning elven allies during an ambush by a horde of orcs because he had believed that the elves diminished the purity of the dwarven race.  He had fought free of the ambush, but left the elves to fend for themselves.  Fortunately, the elves had managed to escape the trap and reported Bolk’s betrayal.

The first sarcophagus held no traps.  The lid was made of solid stone, so Ska’arr and Raven stepped forward.  Getting as good of a grip as possible, the two heaved, and the lid of the sarcophagus shifted.  Inside the sarcophagus, Ska’arr saw a scroll placed within a circle of mirrors.  The dwarven runes on the scroll seemed to be a title – An Ode To Trinitrotoluene.  What a strange name.  I wonder who this trinitrotoluene person is?  Opening the scroll, Ska’arr began reading.  The runes began to glow when they suddenly exploded.  Shards of glass flew out, catching Ska’arr, Raven, Shribryn, and Kat.  The glass severely cut Ska’arr and Raven, but both Kat and Shribryn managed to dive out of the way of the blast.

“Okay,” Thraor said as he removed glass from Ska’arr’s face, “dwarves like their traps.”

Searching the second sarcophagus, Kat and Shribryn found no traps.  But they did find a strange mechanism built into the sarcophagus itself.  Shribryn scratched her head.  “It either helps lift the lid of the sarcophagus or it is an elaborate trap.”

“Only one way to find out,” Kat grinned.  “Hey Ska’arr, there doesn’t seem to be any traps on this sarcophagus.”

As Ska’arr stepped up to the sarcophagus to open it, Kat and Shribryn nonchalantly moved behind the first sarcophagus and crouched down.  Ska’arr pushed on the lid and managed to shift it slightly.  The floor beneath his feet collapsed, sending him plummeting down 80’ into a pit of water.

Kat looked over the lip of the pit.  “Guess it was a trap.”  Seeing Ska’arr relatively unharmed and treading water, she gauged that they would need to tie two ropes together to reach Ska’arr.  Unfortunately, Ska’arr was the only one with a second rope.

“No problem,” Shribryn said.  Summoning her innate ability to climb surfaces like a spider, she scuttled down the pit wall.  As she reached Ska’arr, she called out, “Ska’arr, pass me your rope.”

Ska’arr pumped his legs furiously as he opened his backpack.  Pulling out the rope, Lord Farragut’s head popped out of the backpack opening.  Suddenly, Ska’arr felt panic, then rage and glee through his empathic link with Lord Farragut.  “Look out!  The second soul has taken over!”  It was too late.

Leaping up, Lord Farragut caught hold of Shribryn’s arm and scurried up.  Lunging for Shribryn’s throat, his fangs dug deeply into Shribryn’s flesh.  Shribryn’s shriek of pain was muffled as Lord Farragut applied pressure on her throat.  In desperation, brought her hand up to Lord Farragut and blasted him with a sheet of flame.

Burnt badly, Lord Farragut released his hold on Shribryn and fell back into Ska’arr’s arms.  Lord Farragut had a look of wide eyed confusion as he looked up at Shribryn.  Ska’arr cooed gently to Lord Farragut as he cried softly.  Without taking his eyes off of Lord Farragut, Ska’arr passed his rope up to Shribryn.

Shribryn scaled the pit wall quickly and gave the rope to Kat.  Clutching at her neck, Pelias placed healing hands on top of Shribryn’s hands.  Soon the pain faded and she could breathe properly again.

Tying the ropes together tightly, Kat threw one end down to Ska’arr while Raven and Thraor gripped the other end.  With a heave, Raven and Thraor began to pull as Ska’arr climbed up.  In short order, Ska’arr reached the top of the pit.

Lord Farragut lay nestled in the front of his shirt.  Gingerly, he passed his companion to Thraor who began to heal the ferret’s burns.

Ska’arr turned and looked apologetically at Shribryn.  She sensed Ska’arr’s guilt.  Before he could say anything, she said, “Don’t worry.  It was not his fault.  I’m sorry that I injured him so badly.”  Ska’arr simply wrapped her in his arms and gave her a gentle squeeze.

The third sarcophagus (NEED A DESCRIPTION FROM NANAO OF THIRD SARCOPHAGUS).  A golden shroud was draped over top of the sarcophagus.  “Okay,” Pelias said, “no more surprises.”  Examining the sarcophagus for magic, he detected a magical aura of abjuration on the shroud or the lid of the sarcophagus.  It was impossible to tell until the two were separated, but the mere movement of the shroud could activate a trap.  Checking the fourth sarcophagus and the nearby altar, Pelias determined that there was no magic on either.

Kat cracked her knuckles.  “Okay, I’ll handle this.  Stand back.”  Her hand was a viper, snatching the golden shroud from the top of the sarcophagus.  As soon as her hand made contact with the shroud, Kat threw herself into a diving roll off of the platform.  And it was lucky that she had done so.  As she rolled away, the top of the sarcophagus became enveloped in flames.  The trap discharged harmlessly and no one was injured.  Examining the shroud once more, Pelias saw that neither the shroud nor the sarcophagus held any magical aura.  Stuffing the golden shroud in her backpack, Kat examined the sarcophagus for other traps.

Poking her eye with a lockpick, Kat yelped in pain.  I don’t want to go through that again.  Wiping away the tears, she turned to the others and said, “I’m one hundred percent certain that there are no traps.”

Raven was a little taken aback.  “But you just poked yourself in the eye!”

Kat was adamant.  “No traps!”

Ska’arr shrugged his shoulders.  Pushing the lid off of the third sarcophagus, they found that the sarcophagus was empty.  Kat examined it for secret compartments, but found nothing.

Kat went to the final sarcophagus, and almost tripped as her toe caught in a groove in the platform.  Looking more closely, Kat saw that the sarcophagus was on rollers.  As she peered more closely, she saw small holes in the sarcophagus itself.  It must release a gas of some type when the sarcophagus is moved.  Plugging the holes with wax and adhesive, Kat was certain that no gas would escape and blast them.

Ska’arr pushed on the lid of the sarcophagus, and the entire sarcophagus moved on its rollers.  Underneath the sarcophagus was a large, empty gap.  If there had been any treasure here before, it had long since been pocketed by someone else.

Focusing on the lid of the sarcophagus, Ska’arr managed to shift it off the sarcophagus.  The sarcophagus was empty.  Finding nothing else of interest on the platform or in the sarcophagi, they moved to the low dais in the center of the room.

The dais was carved with dwarven runes.  The runes seemed to be a warning to others.  Reading the runes carefully, Thraor (NEED A DESCRIPTION OF RUNES ON DAIS – SOMETHING ABOUT “ONLY THE CHILDREN...”)

“We’re running out of options and places to look,” Shribryn moaned as she moved towards the altar.

Kat examined the altar and saw that it was covered in ornate carvings.  Surprisingly, the carvings were not to any specific deity.  Strange.  Looking for traps, Kat found none.  Feeling safe, Kat signalled Thraor closer.  “What do some of these runes mean?” Kat asked.

Thraor stepped closer and traced one of the runes with his finger.  “I don’t recognize all of them...”  There was a muffled grating noise and then an odd faintly pattering snowfall on Thraor’s neck...a thin snowfall of pale gritty stuff...grains of mortar...  Kat shouted as she threw herself back.  Thraor turned his head, and there was a ceiling stone rushing down.  Then darkness.

Pelias rushed over and lifted the block of stone off of the dwarf.  Thraor was a grisly sight to behold.  Focusing, Pelias poured holy energy into Thraor’s battered body.  Shribryn came over as well and healed Thraor’s wounds as well.  The remains of the altar were buried beneath weighty stone and could not be salvaged.

Once Raven saw that Thraor was healed, she turned her attention to the last unknown in the room.  (NEED A DESCRIPTION OF THE FLOATING STONE FROM NANAO)  Opening her inner eye, Raven examined the magical auras emanating from the floating stone.  There were two auras – one was an unknown aura and the other was from the school of abjuration.  Kat gently tapped the stone this way and that, but found no signs of any traps on it, magical or otherwise.  Climbing the steps that led to the floating stone, Kat softly tapped her foot to the top of the stone.  In a flash of light, she was gone.

“What?”  Raven examined the stone’s auras once more and found that they hadn’t changed.  The others were unnerved and they began to talk in a panicked manner.  Pelias calmed them down.

“Do not give into hysterics yet,” he said.  “I recognize the magical effect of the floating stone.  It was a teleportation spell, or some variation of it.  Kat has been moved from this location, and she may yet be unharmed.”

Shribryn drew out a small stone from her pocket.  Concentrating, she sent a message to Kat.  Kat, are you okay?  Where are you?

To her relief, Kat responded almost immediately.  I’m fine.  I’m in a similar room as you.

Knowing Kat was safe, Thraor stepped up onto the floating stone.  A vortex of energy surrounded his body, suffusing it to the point where it caused searing agony.  But Thraor knew he had to hold still – the moment he disrupted the energy matrix that transported him, it would tear him apart.  In what seemed like hours, but in reality was mere moments, Thraor appeared on a floating stone in a room similar to the one he had just left.  Kat looked up at him and smiled.  “Sorry, I forgot to warn you about the pain.”

Shirbryn went next.  When the energy entered her body, she yelped and shifted slightly.  Pain as she had never experienced lanced through her body.  Gasping for air, she looked about.  She had not teleported as the others had – her simple shifting had disrupted the energy transporting her and prevented her from traveling.  Gritting her teeth, she stepped back on the floating stone.  Again the pain struck, but she held herself still and teleported to the other room.  In short order, the others traveled via the floating stone with varying levels of pain, but they were all together once more.

The room they had teleported to was circular in design, similar to the room they had just left, but there were several differences.  The room itself was smaller and was much more elegant.  Tapestries were strung up all along the walls and a large throne sat at the back of the room.

As Pelias and Raven went around and healed the party, Kat and Ro-Lund-Do searched about.  The tapestries depicted various important events in dwarven history.  The tapestries were ancient, but appeared newly made.  Scuro was amazed.  These were woven during the height of the Netherese Empire!  I have not seen their like since.  The techniques used to make these masterpieces have since been lost.  The threads of gold, platinum, ruby, and other precious gems were woven together, creating a scene almost lifelike.  The tapestries were priceless.

Ro-Lund-Do thought about it – they were works of art, but the tapestries were too cumbersome, and how would they take them back through the teleporting stone.  It would be better to leave them here to be claimed afterwards.  Searching for magical auras within the room, Ro-Lund-Do found that the floating stone was the only magical object.

Kat and Shribryn approached the throne.  Kat recognized the runes on the back of the throne – they were sacred to Moradin.  Searching the throne for traps and hidden compartments, they found nothing.

Shribryn sighed.  “The Tome of Moradin doesn’t appear to be in this room.  We’ll need to explore further to find it.”  Heading to the open doorway, Shribryn strained to listen for the slightest sound but heard nothing.

The doorway led to a large hallway.  (GET DESCRIPTION OF HALLWAY FROM NANAO)  At the end of the hallway was a huge altar carved from a single piece of basalt.  Thraor pushed his way forward.  Staring at the altar, he saw the holy runes of Moradin.  Falling to his knees, he silently prayed to Moradin, asking for His blessing and forgiveness for disturbing His holy sanctuary.

Scuro approached the altar and found it to be well-made, but mundane – no magic emanated from it.  Kat and Shribryn searched the altar and the surrounding walls but found nothing of interest.  As they searched further in the hallway, they examined the weird wall (? – need Nanao’s description).  Within the weird wall, Shribryn found a hidden door.  It was only by sheer luck that she had found it.

Ska’arr pulled on the door and opened it.  Behind the secret door was a rough-hewn tunnel, about 5’ wide.  Shribryn listened intently but heard no sounds down the tunnel.  Ska’arr entered the tunnel.

Suddenly, floor began to shake.  “Earthquake!”  Glancing back, Ska’arr could see that the others were not being affected.  Walls, ceiling, and floor quaked and heaved.  Ska’arr staggered over rocky swells, dodging stony advances that were half bulges and half blows.  The tunnel began to clamp up and down with convulsive regularity, like a giant stony mouth.  Caught between the lurching ceiling and floor, Ska’arr was trapped within a crushing grip.

Lord Farragut gave one cry of agony as the stone drove down on his body.  The cry was quickly silenced as his life was extinguished once again.  Ska’arr screamed in anger as he tried to fight back.

Thraor recognized the effect – a maw of stone.  Casting quickly, he tried to dispel the effect with his own magic, but he couldn’t overcome the power of the opposing caster.  Hands grabbed Ska’arr’s arms and yanked him from the magical tunnel, but the damage had already been done.

Ska’arr looked down at Lord Farragut.  “Not again.”  The anguish was almost too much to bear.  Healing energy washed over his body, but Ska’arr didn’t feel it.  Wrapping the ferret once more in his cloak, Ska’arr felt so alone.  His only solace was that Lord Farragut had rejoined his friend Baron Longtooth in the Deep Wilds, and the two were probably frolicking together.  Lost in his own emotions, the others let Ska’arr be.

Prima!  Scout down the tunnel and report what you see.  Scuro was more pragmatic than the others.  Intangible, the murk did not set off the magical trap.  Travelling down the tunnel, Prima found that the tunnel was only 10’ long and at the end of it, it opened up into a small cavern.  Four creatures were in the cavern, but the murk could not tell what they were up to.  Hurrying back to its master, Prima reported its findings.  Scuro was well pleased.