Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Session 2 - Tombs & Lanterns

Sunday, Readying 9th, 595 cy (con't)

The group entered what appeared to be a burial chamber, the large room bathed in an eerie, dancing green light. The light seemed to originate from a short hallway directly across from the entrance, one of eight the branched off from the octagonal chamber, including the stairway, and reflected off shards of polished glass embedded in the ceiling, making it seem as if a green starfield was overhead. After a quick look around, the four discovered that each hallway was about 40 feet long, ending in a thick chain hanging from a shaft in the ceiling. In all but two, there hung from the chain a single ornate lantern of colored glass, matching in design the indigo lantern discovered upstairs but with different colors. A green lantern seemed to be the source of the flickering light, and inside of it they discovered an everburning torch, which Ardynn held onto. The sarcophagus in the center of the room was white marble and bore a relief carving of a bald, muscular humanoid, noble in bearing and dressed in robes with a scarab around his neck, on which was carved the second Vaati symbol they had discovered upstairs. The group quickly connected the chamber to the mosaic upstairs, and placed the indigo lantern on the empty chain that corresponded with the mosaic, leaving only a red colored lantern missing to fill them all.

Lacking any obvious options, the four began thoroughly examine the room, starting with the sarcophagus. The sarcophagus sat east to west, the head pointing towards the orange lantern. After discovering the lid was trapped with some sort of fire spell, they were reluctant to disturb it, but while examining noticed the figure carved into the top was missing the pinky finger of his right hand. Reattaching the broken finger they had discovered upstairs with a mending spell revealed that the hand was making a gesture, its first finger curled and the other three extended. Unsure of the significance, the put it aside for now and began exploring the short hallways. They soon uncovered that under each chain, there was a circle carved in the floor, but were unable to tell if it was a secret door or not. They also found that the third hallway's shaft was just out of torchlight, unlike the others. Ashbourn climbed the chain and discovered a passageway at the top.

The hidden passage extended to the northeast for 70 feet, ending in a stone face carved in the same likeness as the person on the sarcophagus, but with its mouth thrown open in an angry scream. Snuffy joined him at the top as Ash approached within 10 feet, activating a trap. The eyes of the face began to glow in a kaleidoscope of colors and wind began to howl from its mouth. Resisting the compulsion to stare at the cascading lights, the two quickly made their way back down the chain as the wind picked up, forcing the entire group to take cover. After several minutes, the wind finally stopped. Taking a more cautious approach, Ash found the pressure plate that activated the trap, and surmised there might possibly be a chamber beyond the howling face, but he was unable to deactivate the trap or open the secret passage.

It was during this time that Snuffy noticed the bottom of the sarcophagus was carved in the likeness of an arrow, its point at the head of the carving and pointing directly into the orange lantern hall. With some effort, they managed to move the sarcophagus, slowly turning it clockwise until it clicked into place pointing towards the yellow hall. A rumbling was heard, and a metal cylinder rose from the floor and opened, revealing a small chamber inside, large enough for a person to fit in. Ash placed his quarterstaff inside, then they proceeded to turn it again clockwise. When it moved from the yellow tunnel, the metal chamber sank back into the floor. When it faced the next tunnel, green, the same rumbling noise was heard, but quickly turned into a loud grinding, and the the floor beneath the lantern gave way with a thunderous crash. An instant later, the hole in the floor erupted with a geyser of large beetles, followed by a strange-looking spider-like creature, known as a Mad Slasher. After a fierce battle, the group managed to kill the creatures, but their resources were near exhaustion. tThey retreated from the cairn to Ulgo Fant's mine house to rest.

Moonday, Readying 10th, 595 cy

The next day, Jhero came to the mine house to find out what had happened to them. The young man was excited to find that the cairn did indeed contain something of interest and was eager to hear of their exploits. Ardynn gave him the leaf bracelet, but Bolero and Ash made him promise not to try to hock it, for fear it might raise questions of its origins. Jhero reluctantly agreed. He promised to try to cover for Snuffy in the mines, but did not know if it would help.

Godsday, Readying 11th, 595 cy

The group re-entered the Whispering Cairn with the intent to explore the shaft in the floor. In the chamber below they found carvings of more of these strange, not-quite-human humanoids, pock marked and marred from the acid of the beetles. At a four way intersection not far from the chamber, the group moved to the right (east) and discovered a mass of some sort of hardened orange substance, containing a lair of more of the beetles. The light from Ardynn's torch sent the swarm into a frenzy, and an extremely large beetle burst from the hive. The party attempted to move away to avoid a battle, only to attract the attention of another massive beetle down the west hallway. Assaulted from both sides, they had no choice but to fight. After a fierce battle, they managed to slay the vermin.

Exploring the now bug free chamber to the east, the group discovered several bodies cocooned within the hive. All wore ruined red leather armor emblazoned with a stylized eight pointed star over the heart. The symbol was recognized as that of the Seekers, a group of unscrupulous archiologists that came from the Free City of Greyhawk. They made the connection that this group must be the adventurers that had entered the cairn 60 years ago and vanished. Among the deads possessions, the group discovered three unused potions of cure light wounds, a ring carved with a feather motiff (ring of feather falling), and a small pearl that carried a magical aura.

Exploring the west chamber, they found what looked to be a large sleeping chamber, stone slabs arranged around the room watched over by a large stone statue carrying a massive club. On one of the sleeping slabs was the body of another Seeker, his head caved in by some form of blunt trauma. His masterwork leather red leather armor was salvagable, and he bore a plain silver ring worth 75 gold.