24 Illumination 508 (cont’d)
The party stands at the base of the staircase heading into the second level of the pyramid. Mõrvar determines that, from an architectural standpoint, there are probably three levels to the pyramid (if all three levels follow the same scheme). The stairway is wide and steep. Savaric takes point, looking for traps, with Surm and Mõrvar behind him. Rilka and Brother Thorne take up the rear.
As the party makes their way up the staircase, Rilka is attacked by one of the Shadow creatures that have beset them throughout this journey. Fortunately, it misses her. The party rallies Rilka. Brother Thorne moves to allow Mõrvar to come into the fray. The priest also brings forth the light of Halor against the creature. Surm casts mage armor on Rilka to give her further protection as the creature touches her, draining her of her strength. Finally, Mõrvar finishes the creature off and it dissipates back into the darkness.
The party regroups and continues back up the stairs. They finally come to the top of the landing and find that can continue straight down a corridor or turn to the right. They continue straight. Continuing down the corridor, they come across a set of double-doors to their right, or the corridors continues. They decide to investigate the double-doors. Savaric checks them for traps, and finds none. They are unlocked. Surm suggests that the ranger look for signs of the previous party, the one that explored the area a century before. The half-orc finds none near the door (the current party has already messed up any chance of that), but does find signs of movement further down the corridor. Satisfied that they are on the right track, the party decides to open the double-doors.
The door opens into a large scriptorium. Racks of scrolls line the floor, as do several large, closed wooden cabinets. Several of the scrolls have been disturbed and have crumbled to dust on the floor. Savaric, Mõrvar, and Surm search the room while Rilka and Brother Thorne keep watch for more shadows. The room is illuminated by the sorcerous light provided by Mõrvar.
Over the course of their searching, the three discover that the cabinets hold more scrolls. Also, Surm discovers two metal scroll cases with indecipherable script written upon them. Savaric discovers another metal scroll case with the same indecipherable script. Opening the scroll cases carefully reveals carefully written scrolls on thin paper. Surm is able to read the two of the scrolls—one is for an Animate Dead spell, the other is for a Bestow Curse spell. He is unable to decipher the third scroll. Neither is Mõrvar. Surm attempts to take one of the other scrolls from the rack, but it crumbles in his fingers.
The party then leaves the scriptorium and returns to the hallway. Savaric attempts to track the previous group. He tracks them straight along the corridor, to a right turn at the back wall of the floor. Turning right, the party finds a series of four bedrooms, each well-furnished with a bed, a well-made rug, a wardrobe, and side table. Inside the wardrobe are well-made, but outdated clothing. Mõrvar appraises the rug alone to be worth seventy-five gold pieces. In three of the four bedrooms, money of a strange mint is found stashed away.
In the fourth bedroom, as they are searching, a Shadow emerges from beneath the nightstand to assault Mõrvar! The party rallies and Brother Thorne calls upon Halor’s light once again, but Mõrvar finally strikes the killing blow against the creature and it dissipates—but not before its cold touch weakens the sorcerer-fighter.
The corridor circles back down and the party finds that they can turn to the left, continue down, or they can check out set of double doors to their left. They decide to check out the double-doors. These open into a large library. Rows of narrow bookcases line the room. The party enters and begins their usual search protocol. As they begin to search, Surm notices a raven suddenly appear on one of the bookshelves. The large bird then takes off and flies across the room, shitting on Brother Thorne in the process, and lands on another bookshelf.
After a series of frustrating interactions with the bird, they determine that its name is Furfur, that it is “more than a raven”, that it was here when the previous party came through, and that they met their fate upstairs at “The Gate”. It seems to be able to talk, somewhat, and is intelligent. It likes to dodge questions with a wink. It also seems to have taken a liking to Mõrvar—who seems to have taken a liking to the bird.
Furfur settles on Mõrvar’s shoulder as the party makes their way from the library and back into the corridor. As the party makes their way down the left corridor, on the other side of the series of bedrooms, Surm notices that the raven, who is “more than a raven”, preens and keeps looking back at Brother Thorne in a mocking manner.
About halfway down the corridor, a door is found on the left. Savaric checks it out, but no traps are found. The door is unlocked. It opens into a large room with a wide spiral staircase leading up. They decide to leave the staircase until they finish with this floor. They return to the corridor and head down to the final turn. Here they encounter, once again, a series of four, well-apportioned bedrooms. The party searches all of the bedrooms and find nothing further of interest.
Finally, the party heads for the spiral staircase. As they head up to what Mõrvar believes to be the final level, they encounter yet another of the Shadow creatures. During the fight, Furfur seems to turn invisible on Mõrvar’s shoulder. After a brief fight, Rilka delivers the killing blow.
The staircase ends at a large landing with a door. Savaric checks it for traps and finds none. It is unlocked. After a brief discussion of a plan by Surm, they open the and Surm casts dancing lights inside. Looking about, sure enough, Surm sees one of the Shadow creatures lurking about, avoiding the lights. They shut the door.
Now they go in with a new plan. Rilka and Mõrvar burst in with the priest on their heels, ready to channel his energy at the first sign of spotting the creature. Surm casts his lights about and, once again, the creature is there. It rushes forward toward Rilka and Mõrvar. Brother Thorne calls upon the light of Halor, but it seems to have no effect upon the creature. Rilka is touched and turns pale as as a great deal of strength drains from her body. Finally, the creature is dispatched, but Rilka is in bad shape. They retreat to the first bedroom they encountered to camp and to recover.
25 Illumination 508
The next morning, Brother Thorne casts two lesser restoration spells upon Rilka and Mõrvar and takes one of his vials of potions. The party then regroups and heads back upstairs.
The room where they defeated the Shadow the previous day appears to be a large study and alchemical lab. The chemicals in the lab apparatus have long since evaporated, but the rig seems to be intact. A long row of books, written in that indecipherable script, line the back wall. The party searches the room out but find nothing further of interest. There is a curtain covering an arched doorway along one wall, the party enter the arched doorway to find a large bedchamber. The room is lavishly furnished with a large bed, wardrobe, brass bathtub, rugs, etc. As the party begin to search it out, a Shadow detaches itself from the wall and attacks Savaric! The creature is quickly dispatched. Nothing further of interest is found in the bedroom.
Another curtained arched doorway leads into a large altar room. Another hideous idol to whatever dark god was being venerated down below dominates the room. Another bloodstained altar lies here as well as two long-extinguished braziers. The party search this room as well and find nothing of interest.
Finally, a set of double doors lie between them and the next room. The party believes, based on their mapping of the area and Furfur’s talk of the party coming up here, that this is the final room of the pyramid. If the previous party came up here, this must be where their bodies lay. Surm asks Furfur about the shut doors, if the party that came before them shut them. The raven only winks at him, infuriating him. Rilka says a prayer for courage to Bruni. Savaric opens the doors.
The doors upon a large room. In the center of the room is a large, bloody pentagram, the blood looking thick and wet despite the years. A sickly glow emanates from the center of the pentagram, causing Savaric to become sick. Around the pentagram are four skeletal corpses, held together by their gear.
The party begins to discuss their options and what could have happened here so long ago. No one knows how to shut off this gate or what to do about it. Brother Thorne thinks it was open when the party got here a hundred years ago, that they didn’t open it. That’s all he can tell about it. Mõrvar begins to mage hand weapons from inside the room to them, starting with the longsword that one of the corpses is wielding.
He manages to get the longsword—which has the word “Edgefrost” written in Leilioran on the blade—to Savaric when the air in the room displaces and suddenly, in the center of the pentagram is a creature of nightmare. Its body is a mass of flesh covered in hungry, toothy maws. All of those mouths let loose a cacophonous scream as it enters the room, causing the party to cover its ears. It begins to squelch its way toward the door, not bound by the pentagram in any way. Furfur takes off from Mõrvar’s shoulder and flies to the back of the altar room, turning invisible.
As the rest of the party forms a battle line, Surm rushes into the pentagram room. He skirts around the pentagram and the creature and makes his way around to the far side to the corpses lying there. He begins to drag them toward the near side of the room.
Meanwhile, the creature slowly makes its way through the door to the waiting party. It seems to focus on Rilka and bites at her with its many mouths, scoring several hits. The others seem to be having a hard time hitting its amorphous body. Rilka scores a few hits, but it keeps biting Rilka and then manages to latch on to suck her blood. She must then try to detach herself from the odious creature. Brother Thorne casts healing spells on Rilka to keep her body and spirit alive.
Finally, Surm has gathered all of the corpses together. He then removes the scroll he found in the scriptorium and casts animate dead on the corpses of the previous party. They rise as bloody skeletons. He then orders them to attack what he knows to be a Gibbering Mouther, a foul aberration. The abominations do his bidding and attack the creature from the rear.
Finally, Mõrvar strikes the killing blow on the creature. It shakes and gibbers no more, sinking to the floor, a mass of lifeless flesh…
To be continued…