2 Illumination 509
The Crimson Cord, accompanied by two of their guards and a troupe of priests of Halor, continue to explore the Tomb of Secrets in hopes of rescuing the sorceress, Hekia Stormwing from the clutches of the necromancer, Kelthior.
After ensuring that the last chamber they encountered was free of spectres, the troupe decides to move on. Having examined the map provided to them by the halfling, Torvald, who was a former companion of Hekia, Surm determines the shortest route to the inner sanctum of the necromancer.
As they head out of the room on their chosen route, they are stymied by a wooden portcullis. It has no apparent mechanism to raise or lower. Savaric finds a hidden panel shielding a mechanism of some sort, but has no idea what it’s about. Mõrvar determines that is a mechanism associated with the portcullis, but no more. Surm says that it has nothing to do with the portcullis and that the group shouldn’t touch it because it’s probably a trap of some sort. He insists that Savaric should just lift or break the gate so that they can pass through, but Savaric refuses, opting, instead, to search the room for some means of using the mechanism: a rod, a key, whatever.
Mõrvar notes the hole in the top of the mechanism and decides that he’s going to try and manipulate the it. Everybody steps away from him and the panel. He places his multi-tool in the hole and turns It. A “click” is heard and the portcullis starts to raise. He manages to figure out how to secure the gate from shutting again. He looks at Surm and says wryly, “It has nothing to do with the portcullis.”
The troupe lines back up in marching order and heads down the corridor, with Savaric at the head looking for traps.
The corridor leads to a locked door. Surm is brought forward to pick the lock. It seems to give him a bit of trouble, but eventually, he manages to get it unlocked. He returns to his place in line. Savaric then bursts through the door to find that a large group of ghouls waiting for him.
The fight between the group and the ghouls doesn’t last too long, with Savaric and Mõrvar making a good showing. The group clambers into the chamber and then heads to the next door along their route—except for Savaric. He feels the need to the check an open archway on the opposite side of the room. He walks up and looks in—and spots another group of ghouls staring at him in anticipation!
Savaric backs away, hoping to leave some room for his compatriots to come to his aid. This allows the ghouls to come forward and surround him in the lower chamber. They all attack, and while he does take some damage, none of the ghouls manage to paralyze him or pass on their deadly disease.
The rest of the party manages to arrange themselves in a manner in which to help their friend by attacking the ghouls. Soon, the ghouls are sent to their final rest.
Savaric takes another look in the room where the ghouls came from and spots a charred shield lying in a corner, a fountain in the center of the room, and a strange, abstract statue of a swirling vortex at the back of the room. Mõrvar comes forward to detect magic on the finds before heading in detects none—however, he does note that the statue is a probably a representation of The Nazul, a force of chaos and destruction that works in opposition to the Acheran god, Azumazran. The rest clerics in the party start discussing what they know—or don’t know—about this evil being and Surm enlightens them with more information—including the fact that there is a “Vortex Grimoire” that details how to bring The Nazul to this world from its home plane.
After the theological discussion dies down, Savaric and Mõrvar both, but especially Savaric, are sore tempted to go and explore the statue room. The rest of the party talks them out of it and the troupe lines up and moves into through the next door on their route.
After traveling a brief corridor, they come to another locked door. Surm is brought forward again and spends some time working on the lock. He pops it open and heads back to his former place in line. Savaric opens the door and peers inside. Gasping, he notes that the room has five wraiths in it—and they all seem to notice him. They float down toward the doorway and start attacking.
Savaric manages to maneuver his way through the wraiths and into the room, allowing Mõrvar space to attack as well. Prioress Drenham assists with guidance spells along the way. Eventually, all of the wraiths are dispatched. Mõrvar and Savaric take a fair amount of damage, but neither succumb to the creatures’ life drain abilities.
Nothing useful is found in this room and the troupe moves further along on their chosen route. They follow a corridor down to an unlocked door, which leads to a large, empty, room. Here the troupe regroups a bit and performs some healing magics to recover from their previous encounters. The door that will take them further along their chosen route is also unlocked. Savaric opens the door and sees a strange sight.
There are a total of 6 ghouls in the room, but these are unlike most of the monstrous, feral ghouls he is used to fighting. Two, the ones facing him, are dressed in robes, headbands, and strange masks made up of pieces of human faces. The other four are wearing breastplates and wielding greataxes. One of the two robed ones facing him points at him and says in a strange, hissing voice, “Intruders!”
Savaric backs away and the rest of the party form a gauntlet for any incoming ghouls to run through. The first of the armored ghouls comes through, and is peppered with shots from Savaric, and attacked by Mõrvar and Rilka. It is quickly brought to its second death. Surm, in the meantime, uses sorcery to cause stones to spontaneously appear and fill the room with the robed ones; the stones and earth fall on the ghouls and cause the floor in their to be more treacherous. Two of the others run through, facing the gauntlet. All of the party members take an opportunity to attack the lead ghoul, while Rilka is skilled enough to get to attack both. Then, everyone is wracked in pain as negative energy bursts through the room, not once, but twice, each from the ghouls that just made it through the gauntlet. They also seem to emit an aura of cowardice about them, making everyone more vulnerable to fear.
The party attacks the ghouls in earnest and, fortunately, make short work of the two before they do more harm.
The last of the armored ghouls makes its way out and is attacked by Mõrvar, Rilka, Savaric, and a couple of the clerics. Rilka takes an especial interest in this one, making two critical hits in a row against, severing tendons and disemboweling it. Still he, fights on—though not for long, as the others all take a whack at him and bring him down.
Then, a single bolt of lightning comes zipping out of the room and striking Surm, though he manages to dodge some of the effect. “Oh, now it’s on,” he mutters as he prepares a return volley. He casts fireball into the room, hoping to hit both of the robed ones.
The troupe is now in a quandary—do they cross the difficult terrain of the dead ghouls and the falling stone that Surm set up in the other room to pursue their quarry or wait and see if these robed ghouls decided to walk their gauntlet?
Mõrvar uses his power to step all the way across the room, through the robed ghoul that attacked his brother, and arrive on the other side of him, shocking it along the way.
Surm cleverly uses a dimensional door spell to take himself and three of the others—Rilka, Brother Thoras, and Prioress Drenham, into the room and into position, instantly. The other robed ghoul manages to send a bolt of lightning into Thoras at point blank range. Unfortunately for it, it is in a position in which Savric can hit it with his bow. He fires and does a massive amount of damage to the creature with a single shot The creature is standing—but is not feeling at all well. Rilka and Mõrvar manage to dispatch their robed one, with help from magic missiles from Surm.
The final ghoul, turns to look at Rilka and casts a spell. She starts to cough and wheeze for a moment, but is otherwise okay—but she figures that the spell was meant to suffocate her.
Eventually, the final ghoul is brought down by the multiple attacks leveled at it.
The group now stands in the room, preparing to search the ghouls for loot, They note that the chamber is decorated with a mural on the ceiling depicting ghouls feasting on corpses.