Bluesky 24th … Continued
After rescuing the enslaved minions of the Tiamat Cult, the Party retreated to relative safety of the abandoned keep.
Additional information is gathered from the survivors
- Corwin: Previously met during trek to Kal Eisen, currently a Poor Knight of the Fraternal Order of the Gauntlets of Justice. He reports that his party had been in Beryl during the Cultist attack when he had been captured. He inquired if Diedrich of Baeduex had been killed, and swore loudly at the answer of “No”. He agreed to escort the remaining survivors back to the back to Beryl, and from there possibly back to Kal Eisen.
- Valkethys Rahksanna (Roxy): Part of the archaeological expedition to Dragon Spire, student sage to Sentarim. Despite her state of exhaustion, she insists upon accompanying the Party in the rescue of her learned master. Some ingenuity is utilized with the aid of the flying broom to transport her.
- Elder Harcourt of Beryl: With the deaths of so many, Harcourt has found himself in the unenviable position as town spokesman. He advocates the return to Beryl, stating “Such has it always been in Beryl; we struggle for our land but it is our land.” When asked about the roaming dead in the Mad Hag’s fields, he had no direct experience but knew of tales that his own grandfather told about a neighbour who had a cousin that had seen the dead roam. To the best of his knowledge, there was no attack of the walking dead during living memory but everyone knew that it had happened long ago and ever since they had made sure to cremate their dead. As none had risen to attack them since, it was only reasonable that the burning worked.
In the depth of the night, there is heard the sound of screaming, suddenly and violently cut short.
Come the morning, wishing Corwin well on his way, the Party returns to the scene of yesterdays battle and find that one of the bodies has disappeared, that of Jehri the Red. Fearing that this is but one example of something ancient was returning. Hurriedly the remaining bodies were heaped in a funeral pyre. As the greasy smoke spread wide across the sky, the Party continued their trek to the grey mountains.
Aged stone ruins, no longer recognizable as buildings, signaled that they were drawing near. Finally they came upon a revealed bronze gate, recently exposed from beneath a massive land slide. Searching for signs of who had unearthed it yielded no clues, though Roxy described how her encampment was ambushed by the Cultists at this site some weeks ago.
Lighting torches, the Party forced their way through the bronze gate (though later investigation revealed the ornamental dragon head above the doors was found to conceal a hidden latch to unlock it). Once past the vestibule, the darkness opened up to a vast dome. The floor showed signs of massive tiles being removed and shifted about while three alcoves had signs of former statuary. (_the design was reminiscent of ancient Arkean temples _).
From the darkness came four aberrations with a single monstrous bulbous eye unleashing baleful (and necrotic) harm. Upon defeating them, the party was able to further investigate the tiles, discovering hidden draconic runes that could be arranged to spell the names of Tiamat, Bahamut, and Platinum (the honorific of Bahamut), thus unlocking a magical stair leading down below …
Exploring the lower level, the party discovered (and later eliminated) a chilling brown mold covering a ruined tapestry (possibly of Tiamat and Bahamut battling), a caved in remnant of a library (where Pek and Jem had a strange encounter with an invisible pants threat), a chained door marked with numerous warnings in ancient languages, and a scuttling homunculus (dubbed George) that responded to commands from Suryna. Commanding George to lead them to the Master, they were led to a collapsed tunnel. Despite best efforts, the materials and tools at hand did not yield success.
Then, commanding George to lead them to all the hidden doors, the tiny construct thought deeply and then dashed back to the library, disappearing into the side wall. Upon investigation, the bottom eighteen inches of the side wall proved to be an illusion. A rat transformed Hilda led Pek by leash through the darkness, finding rubble and the smell of brackish water. The side passage leading to the smell of water was adorned with an ancient warning, but before there was time to investigate further there was heard the not so distant chittering of movement, growing less distant by the moment.
Hilda fled, leading the dark blinded Pek, hearing the clattering of inhuman legs chasing after them. The dove into the secret passage, passing Tordek (who had meanwhile squeezed himself and shield through the crawlspace). Tordek saw the charging chitinous beast, about the size of a large pony but with more legs and a mouth of writhing tentacles. He managed to get his shield in front of one of the two massive claws as he scrambled back into the crawlspace, feeling the creatures fetid breath hot in his face as it scrapped and clawed through the narrow opening.
This was going to take some more thought …