D&D Next: The Desert of Desolation

3rd post

This is a long one.

The group says farewell to Barus leaving him in Thurnas Netmasters bedchamber. They now look down the long hallway to what the bugbear calms to be their compound. It appears to be clean and well used. The hallway is dimly lit with soft glowing balls of light. A closed door is visible at the end of the long hallway as well as two doors standing directly opposite each other half way down. Each door is decorated with a carving of a bald man with an earring in his right ear. Jay gingerly approaches the south door to inspect it and the carvings. Just as jay is about touch the door in inspection a jolting noise alarms from behind him.

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“Help, Help, intruder, Interloper, tourist, help, help” wails the bald man chiseled into the door. Then a silence begins almost as abruptly as the alarm. The group paused for a moment only hearing their own breath. Jay looks at the bald figure carved into the door thinking it looks just as benign now as it did before.

Then a jay hears a slight rustling behind the south door. It sounds akin to someone getting dressed or putting on armaments. Jay can discern the attempt at motion in silence beyond the door. Jay leaps up the door, climbing passed the doorframe and wedges himself between the ceiling and the wall. The rest of the group cautiously approaches the door and Jay indicates for them to wait a few paces away from the door. Once in position Jay gently knocks on the door with his stone rapier. Tap tap tap and the seconds pass slowly. Abdul moves forward and passes the door then readies himself on the other side.

The moment Abdul passes the door it opens slightly. Jay peers into the darkness that lay behind the door. The soft glow from the magical orbs seems unable to penetrate the room beyond. Jay sheaths his rapier and pulls out the Star Gem and stares inside. Just beyond the door is a dark elf in full armor poised for combat with his sword raised. Just farther into the room giant spiders are also bracing for battle. Jay slips the Star Gem away and quietly draws out his rapier. Then with a wild thrust, Jay stabs into the doorway. The rapier whistles as it moves through the air but finds no purchase on Jay’s foe. Jay frowns and shrugs his shoulders at the group. K’lara catches his eye and gives a “what gives?” shrug response. Jay makes a tight fist and then flings his fingers out into a wide open palm and finally points to the base of the door. K’lara starts slow smile and then a raised eyebrow.

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K’lara cups her hands as though she is holding an invisible sphere in front of her. The sphere becomes visible as light and flames swirl between her hands. She then moves towards the door with the tiny inferno trapped in her clutches. At that moment the entire group is touched by a chill but it quickly subsides. K’lara lifts her chin to point at the door and Jay knows how to take a hint. Jay flips the door wide open with his stone rapier then K’lara extends her arms pushing the fireball down the hallway to the base of the doorway. At the moment of impact, rather than an exhale of flames and pain the fireball seemed to inhale into nothing. For a second everyone, like the fireball, held their breath until the absence of the torrent of flames was certain not to come. K’lara pales…

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Jay makes another blind stab into the doorway from his braced position into the ceiling. This time the wild stab from the stone rapier gets purchase into something on the other end of the door. From the darkness behind the door comes a surprised yelp in pain. In that instance the magical darkness is filled with the ambient light of the hallway and the room beyond. Beyond the door skitter many large spiders, a male drow in plate and a drow priestess. The priestess is smiling and maintaining a magical gesture with her hand. The priestess then shifts her stance and cups her hand creating a sphere of light within. She pulls her hands back to her waste and then thrusts forward shooting the sphere of flame toward Jay and the doorway. Jay and male drow brace for the impending inferno. Everyone caught a little of the flames, but no one got it worse that the male drow. He lets out a hellish scream and stumbles to the ground in a smoky ruin. The priestess makes a tightlipped frown and glares at the corpse and then with baleful eyes curses the party.

With smoke still rising from his pink and blistered skin Edrin charges the door barricading it with his stout dwarven body. He quaffs a potion of healing and braces for the impending combat. Abdul steps up behind Edrin and cups his hands conjuring a tiny flaming sphere of his own. With an elegant motion he draws his hands back to his right side and then thrusts forward releasing the sphere. While in in motion, the tiny fireball grows in size and fury threating to engulf all its foes. At the moment of impact the fireball sucks air into itself like a backdraft that can be felt throughout the room, and then explodes unleashing fames and intense heat. Many of the giant spider’s hard shells crack and then burst like and overdone hardboiled egg. The drow priestess howls as her body is awash in flames. Abdul then backs away from the doorway to block the line of sight needed for some spell casting.

“May the blessing of Anew be upon you” Abdul says reverently raising his hand which then begins to glow with a weight aura.

The ambient lighting begins to flicker and the air starts to crackle as K’lara steps up behind Edrin with a clenched jaw and electricity dancing down her arms. The raw energy seems to materialize somewhat as K’lara throws the bolt like a spear at the drow priestess. Reflexively the priestess puts her left arm up with her palm forward and somehow dispels the lightning bolt as it leaves K’lara’s hand. K’lara is now incensed with her hands balled into fists and then she kicks the ground. The priestess again cups her hands and conjures a small flaming sphere and then thrusts it forward to the group. Flames burst outward from the fireball and wash over the group. A look of disbelief falls over her face as she sees the, albeit singed, group not fall to her lethal spells. With a huff the priestess moves out of site down the roughhewn hallway at the back of the room.

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In unison the giant spiders charge the door. One skitters up to the ceiling and spits webbing at Edrin but it aimed too high and the gooey mass splats behind him. One lurches at the dwarf and is knocked back with a mailed hand and another two rebound backward after shallow swipes. Jay drops from the doorframe and tumbles into the room running under and around large and scary spiders until at last he is face to face with the priestess. The priestesses expressions went from startled, to afraid, to enraged in the blink of an eye. Her hands begin to crackle with electricity as she begins to cast another spell.

Edrin steps to the spiders and begins chopping with Abdul on his heels slashing at the spiders. The spiders drop in slimy bits and pieces. Abdul’s hands cast reddish hew and then he points his fingers on sending a beam of flaming energy at the priestess. One stream goes wide of its mark while the catches her in the side. His hand catches flame from another spell. He snaps his fingers with a pointing motion at the priestess sending the flames whirling to her. This final flame burst catchers the priestess still reeling from the last spell. She staggers for a quick moment and then she stumbles to the floor. The electric energy in her hands dissipates into the cold earth.

K’lara’s hands cast a blue and purple hew as she points her pointer and index fingers at the remaining spider and shoots beam at the creature. Ice crystals form around the creature even as it drops to the floor to shatter on impact. K’lara, the most affected by the priestess’s fireballs, chugs some healing potions and exhales in relief that this nasty event is over.
Abdul and Edrin rummage through both drows belongings. Next to a nearly incinerated backpack are some coins that amount to 23 platinum and 30 gold. Both drows gear appeared to be in perfect condition.

Just beyond Jay he is now able to see down the rough hallway. The adjoining room has a decorative web of spider silk. Silk tapestries hang on the roughen walls show spiders admits decorative patterns. A rich look bed covered with silks and furs stands against the opposite wall. Scattered around the room are marble tub, a desk, and two chests. A heavy cord hangs next to the bed. Jay and Edrin close the door and jam spikes into the mortar around the door to seal it. “We need rest and that room will have to do.”

Jay and Abdul moves into the room cautiously. Just as they pass the threshold a blanket of webbing drops but they both manage to bound away from it untouched. Jay proceeds to the bed and investigates the thick cord. When pulled a curtain reveals a small alcove filled with spider webs. Once deemed safe K’lara sits on the edge of the bed and does her best to mend her burns and wounds. Edrin moves to the bed and puts his feet up and head back onto one of the elegant pillows. Noticing that one of the pillows is not a soft and favorable as he might expect, he reaches inside pulls out a handful of jewels. A diamond, 5 sapphires, and 10 emeralds in all are places on the soft furs and silk bedding. Edrin inspects the superior cut and quality of the gems.

Jay then moves to the chests and checks them for safety then pulls out his lock picks and begins to work on them. Once open they reveal drow lingerie and other intimate items. The second chest, once opened, reveals perfumes, oils, and cosmetics. Deep in the chest was a potion and wand. Jay takes the makeup and potion and hands the wand to K’lara. “I don’t know what this stick is for, do you”? K’lara accepts the wand and investigates it.

The group makes a pile of their newly acquired gear to detect magic on it. A great sword, a dagger, 2 suits of chainmail, 2 cloaks, 2 pair of boots, the necklace and the skull in all. Abdul and K’lara begin a magical chant investigate the magical properties of the skull, cloaks, boots, necklace, chainmail and dagger. The skull appears to be sacred to Set and function more as a holy symbol. The necklace has small red gems that can be turned into flaming projectiles, but K’lara also notices something off about the jewelry. They debate on leaving it behind but decide to keep it to prevent it from falling into the wrong hands. The wand seems to have the ability to paralyze ones foes and the potion seems to turn the consumer of it into gas. Once the other useable superior quality objects are identified the group divvies up the loot.

Everyone takes a place on the luxurious bedding and relaxes or dozes to recover as much as possible from the weary trials of the day. They agree not to linger more than an hour to rest. As Jay lay on his side debating if the hour is up or if he should continue to be half dozing, he notices a large figure move into his view on the far side of the room. Startled by the new on comer in the hallway his heart begins to race but he does not move waiting for them to close the distance for him to strike. Not one but two large forms now approach the sleepy party quieter than one would expect for their size. Just outside the thrush of the room Jay recognizes them to be bugbears. Jay waits for them to approach so her can strike but they start to back away instead. Once out of site Jay springs out of bed and gives chase. Everyone else sees Jays startling action and readies themselves to follow. Looking at Jays stealthy posture they hold back from a full on charge. Abdul also stealths after Jay.

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Jay quickly and quietly pursues the bugbears into the next room and sees that they have turned to face the exit which now appears to have been broken and smashed. Jay now closes the distance, leaps into the air and thrusts his stone rapier into the back of one of the bugbears head where the skull meets the spine. The rapier pokes out an eye on the other side and then releases the bugbear mid fall. Without a sound the bugbear collapses to the floor with bloody matter tripping from its eye. The other bugbear turns surprised at the fall of his companion and shocked at the appearance of the determined Halfling before him.

Abdul rounds the corner with his right hand already emitting a purple and blue glow. He raises his hand and points his index and middle finger and the bugbear. With a few words of power he sends a cold beam at the foe. The cold blast strikes the bugbear full in the side forcing a painful grunt to escape his mouth. “Don’t be foolish, surrender now or suffer death.”

“Help, they’ve found us” the bugbear screams and Jay lets out sigh of disappointment.
The bugbear turns to Jay and swings his Morningstar but jay jumps backwards to miss the blow. At the sound of the bugbears yelling Edrin and K’lara run to engage. K’lara moves next to Abdul and flames now cover her hands. She brings a hand back and a flaming javelin materializes in her grip. She throws her hand forward releasing it at the bugbear. The bugbear sees the flaming spear and raises his shield defensively. His shield comes up short slowed by its chilled movements from the last attack and the fire lances the bugbears chest. It drops to its knees in agony and then falls lifelessly to the ground.

Abdul takes a shield from the corpse of the bugbear and the group gathers to decide what to do next. Outside the broken door is the door across the hall. The group moves out of this corpse filled room into the dimly lit hallway. Jay inspects the unused door across the hall for traps and then slowly moves in. Inside the room are bookshelves and a desk that seem to be someone’s personal study area. Abdul searches the desk and shelve while Jay searches the perimeter for traps and secret passageways. Abdul finds a crystal globe and some oddities on the desk and in the drawer a key ring. The bookshelves had many books written in the evlish tongue. Jay picks one up on the local desert plant life.

The group slowly moves down the hallway with Jay in the lead toward the door at the end of the hall. Jay quietly opens the door into a large room with various torture devices. The group enters the room and sees a stretching rack, iron maiden, and dozens of other grizzly devices. In the ceiling of the room is a small hatch out of the room. On the far end of the room is a wooden door left ajar. With the stone rapier Jay enters the room with Abdul quickly behind him. Inside the dark room a strong smell assaults their senses. Rotting hay and refuse hang in the air. At first the room seems to have rows of empty cages until a weak wheezing is heard from a back wall cell. The group approach a broken man shackled to the wall. He is made of broken bones, blood and pain. Jay guesses who this captive is only by reasoning it would make sense to imprison him here in the depths of this compound. “Tolnus, is that you”?

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The man startles and tries to move away in fear but is unable to because of the starvation, fatigue, and pain. His wheezing breath becomes more rapid but he is unable to do much more. Jay again repeats his name “Tolnus Granicus, is that you? We are here to rescue you”. The man stops moving almost as if the words had killed him on the spot.
“Really, Truly”? The broken man replies.

Jay steps up to him and pulls out the key ring. On the third key he was able to release his bindings. They give him food and water and with a few moments he is able to recover somewhat. “I am Tolnus ,thank the Gods it is over. Thank you, Thank you” Tolnus says with a hoarse voice.

“We will get you out of here” Abdul says helping him to his feet.
The group moves the torture rack under the hatch in the ceiling and jay quietly opens it. Jay peaks out into a clear night sky and enjoys the fresh air that comes into the dank torture chamber. He then climbs out and lowers rope to his companions. With gentle effort they are able to raise Tolnus through the hatch into the Sand Voyager’s compound above. “We are near the outside of the compound, going over this wall here should get us out of the compound and into the town.” Abdul says pointing at a high wall ten feet away.
Jay Scales the wall and lowers the rope again to his companions. While the group is acceding Jay spots two guards not too far off speaking with animated hand gestures. Curious he signals his group that he was going to sneak off and be back soon. As jay approaches her hears their voices become more distinctive. “I don’t know what’s going on here these days, can you believe it?” says one guard.

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“It’s enough to make you want to leave town I suppose, all this activity” replies the other.
“I know, yesterday we get all those flaming beasts wreaking havoc outside the town walls”
“Mmhhmmm” in agreement. “Must be what those reports were all about with the other settlements”

“And then you get the fighting at the obelisk today. It’s like we don’t have a big enough mess with the elemental sightings we have to be at each other’s throats too”
“I know, right? Management man, it’s the management”
“I mean, how many assholes we got on this ship anyway?”
“I know, right”?

Jay moves back to the group now that they have scaled the wall and alerts them to the fighting at the obelisk. “It had to be the people we left to cover us, right? The Sand Voyagers” Jay asks.

“But the Sand Voyagers and who”? Asks K’lara “Korus Eikoth, the Sheik’s son”?
“Maybe, or maybe more cultists” says Abdul “if they aren’t one and the same”.
“We can’t really trust any of them” Edrin interjects. “Let’s go to Hogan’s, sort it out with a drink or three.”

As the move through the town it becomes clear that everyone is staying indoors. The town is eerily quiet this evening as they pass darkened windows and doorway. Once closer to Happy Hogan’s Tavern they finally hear some movement. Choosing to conceal the rescue of Tolnus, the group enters Happy Hogan’s through the back door. Upon entry they find the cook in the kitchen. “Is Hogan in”? Jay announces to make his presence known.
The cook is surprised and looks down at Jay and picks up a frying pan defensively. “Who are you, what are you doing back here”? Jay grins and waves his hands dismissively at the cook’s brandished weapon.

“Hogan is my cousins, cousin. I’m looking for him, have you seen him about”? Jay asks innocently.
“Well, I suppose that makes sense” the cook mutters. “You are a Halfling after all, wait right here”

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The cook shuffles off and returns shortly with Hogan. “This is a little peculiar.” Hogan says with a sound of frustration in his voice. “Why have you… Tolnus is that you? What has happened?”
The two embrace in a short hug “Its. Good to see you, no one knew what had happened.” Hogan continues.

“Your friends here save me from the unimaginable.” Tolnus says. “They feel, and I agree, that I must remain hidden until more is known about what has happened in my absence.
“Yes, yes, of course. Thank you friends, thank you for rescuing Tolnus”
“We are hoping that he will be able to recover here for a day or two and then move out to the pyramid. We feel it will be safe there and we could also use someone with his skill in leadership and management, if he agrees” Says Jay.
Tolnus looks stunned for a moment. “Yes, I suppose I’m unemployed now with that nasty Thurnas Netmaster at work”.
“Well, Barus Broadblade is likely having a few words with him now and I suspect those words will be a little rough on the ears…. nose, eyes, elbows and kneecaps.” Edrin says with a laugh.

Hogan lets out a slight sigh. “Well, I have wanted to say out of these local affairs, but now it appears that I cannot. I will do what I can to help”
“It is with deep regret that we have put you into this position.” says Jay. “We only ever meant to what is right and return order to this land of upheaval. I know how desperately you wish to remain in the simple life that we now threaten. If we can we would like to make it up to you and your family.”

Jay looks to K’lara and she pulls out the magnificent diamond from the bag of holding. “Oh my, this is not necessary” Hogan says with wide eyes

“We feel it is” interrupts Jay “Part of this is also your fencing fee. Also, we want this to pay for safe passage of Tolnus to the pyramid. In addition we wanted to make sure you had enough to secure your family and belongings how you saw fit.”

Hogan accepts the jewel with a pleasant grin and claps Jay on the back and says “Oh, I have just the drink to celebrate with”. Hogan leaves and comes back quickly with an exquisite bottle of wine. They retire to Hogan’s small breakfast nook and drink the magnificent vintage. Hogan also helps the group with supplies for their next endeavor.
Wishing to remain unseen and presumably missing the group sneaks out the back and into the alleyways. Rather than exit the main gate that has patrolling town guards the group decides to scale the wall under the cover of night.

They quietly move amongst the camps outside the town walls. The campfires are small and mostly abandoned to coals. People appear to be keeping to themselves after sundown out here as well as in the town. “Now to buy or steel mounts” Edrin says looking to Jay.
Not too far off four camels are tied to a post just outside a small tent. Hushed voices of idle chatter come from the tent. Jay begins to inspect the camels and notices dozens of small bells chiming softly with the ambient movements of the beasts. If spooked, however, jay did not doubt that these bells would make a great deal of noise. He pulls out his knife and considers a moment the best way to detach the primitive alarm. Just as he is about to make his cut a small child can be heard from within the tent. The fussy baby isn’t really crying, but isn’t altogether happy either. “Hold for a moment” Abdul says to Jay. “I might have a better plan”

Jay shrugs and puts the knife away. Abdul walks toward the tent but staying ten paces back. “I am a humble traveler and I seek hospitality”

Instantly the hushed voices cease. A few moments pass before a man stick his head out of the flap. “Who goes there? We have weapons. We can defend ourselves you’ll find”
“Oh no. No need for that good sir. I seek only hospitality from a fellow Thune.”
The man steps out from the tent with a cast iron skillet in hand. “What would you have of me? We do not have much to offer. Times have been hard and seem to be getting harder still.”

Abdul smile politely at the man with the skillet. “I am a traveler and need to be on my way. I would like to buy those four camels from you.”
The man scoffs. “I’m sorry sir. I cannot oblige. My family needs these beast for work and travel.”

Abdul continues to smile politely “Hear me out, I know the value these animals are to you. That is why I am going to pay you thrice what they are worth” The man’s eyebrows raise and it is clear he is listening with more consideration.
“In addition we have four strong camels at Happy Hogan’s to replace the once we have just purchased. There is one caveat, however. No one can know the conditions of this sale. We wish to remain obscure to the eyes of… others” Abdul holds out a hand of gold coins.
“You hear that woman, tell no one” the man yells to the tent. “You have our word, no one will know this. I’ve never seen you before”

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Abdul hands the man the money and the group unties the newly acquired mounts and sets off into the desert. They travel by night as long as they are able. The realization of not getting sleep for some time is finally taking its toll. A few hours before dawn they are able to find a large rock that will provide some protection from the sun that will soon be burning down with full furry. They set up a loose camp and agree to a guard order and hunker down for rest.

Hours before sundown the group is awake breaking fast with breads and meats supplied by Hogan and washing it down with wine. After an hour or so they were off again to trek through the desert. With the sun set and a cloudless moonlit night make for an easy camel back ride. Just before dawn they start looking for another camp. K’lara spots a few trees off in the distance and the group moves to discover a small oasis with fresh water to drink. The group sets up a pleasantly comfortable camp, set up a guard rotation then hunkers down to sleep. And again they wake up the next late afternoon without incident to pack up the camp, refill the water supplies, and be on their way.

As the party draws near their destination the landscape shifts from the sand and dunes to one with rocky inhospitable features. They feel like they should be getting to their target soon when they discover tracks in the dirt that are even apparent at night.

Finally they come upon ruins. The structure seems to be a collapsing half circle with a statue placed in the center. Even from afar they have a hard time coaxing there mounts to approach. Jay jumps off his camel and begins to scout the area. He starts with a wide circle path around the ruins and slowly centers in on the stature. Now up close Jay feels the foreboding that has the mounts spooked. He slowly and cautiously creeps up to the statue. For a moment he almost felt like he was going to run away in fear. Jay Looks up at the statue and the face is an ever changing shape. His eyes never seem to be able to lock in on who this statue is supposed to be. Jay pulls out his star gem and peaks into it for a better look to identify this magical statue. Underneath the shifting illusion is a featureless face. Jay moves around the statue looking for anything out of the ordinary. He finally notices that the platform for the base of the statue has something like runners. It looks as though a strong push could move the statue down the runners and perhaps reveal the secret entrance.
Once certain of the safety he calls the group down to the statue. The camels were unwilling to move any closer so they tide them off somewhat out of sight. Edrin and Abdul leaned into the statue and it quickly gave way to slide down the tracks on the platform. Underneath the statue was a deep well that went into complete darkness. Jay went into his climber’s kit and harnessed himself up for the decent. K’lara Picked up a rock and imbued it with light. “Don’t get lost now” she said and handed it to Jay.

They tied the anchor end of the rope to the statue and Jay climbed in. Jay lowered himself with the rope until he ran out of rope. He sat for a minute pointing the light from the rock down the shaft. “Well poop” Jay exclaims and then climbs back up the rope. The climb up was even slower going. At the top they tie another rope to his rappelling line and he makes another decent. He got to where he had reached before with a large knot in the ropes joining them together. Jay moved across the rope and began his second rope decent. Jay kept pointing the rock light downwards in hopes to see the bottom to no avail.
And then he was in free fall. He didn’t even realize that he was screaming until he forced himself to stop. It took a second for him to even notice what had happened. His harness was still on snugly and the rope was still in his hands but he still dove unimpeded toward an unknown destination. Abdul above heard the panicking Halfling’s screams and said a few words of power. Abdul then dives into the well as if diving into a swimming pond. Jay assumed large spikes with snakes tamed by cannibals lay beyond his vision rushing up to greet him with a splat. He hurriedly throws the light stone down the shaft to estimate the approximate depth beyond him. When the rock went on ahead but made no landing, Jay new he was in a bad situation. He reached into his pack and grabbed the gaseous potion and drank in completely.

In that moment his momentum slowed. He now floated down the shaft instead of flying end over end. He sees the stone pierce water below and sink to the bottom to lie amongst old bones and forty feet of the group’s rope. Jay slowly wafts his way to the water below. He touches it to investigate the bottom of the well but the water may as well been made of brick and mortar in his current gas form. Unable to precede downward he slowly begins to rise. On his assent he sees Abdul charging downward. Jay almost thought he was falling too except for his determined face despite being upside down rushing to the bottom.
Once at the bottom of the well Abdul finds the rock that Jay had been using as a light source. It lay a few feet below in the water. If the skeletal remains had been smaller Abdul might have guessed them to be what was left of Jay after landing in a pool of acid. “Where did that little bugger…” Abdul begins to rise back up the shaft. He does notice the foggy stretch of the shaft but thinks little of it. While racing down the shaft he did notice an exit. He chose not to peruse it initially because the light from Jay’s stone led him to the bottom. “That must be where he has gotten to”
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Abdul lands on the platform that enters the room. His sword light up with the same magic that K’lara placed on the Jay’s stone. He looked around briefly but to his dismay he could not find Jay. He then flew up to where the rope had been cut to inspect it. Abdul suspected that some blade trap had severed the rope so cleanly. He raised his sword slowly up to trigger the device ready to move out of the way if he needed. Suddenly with a pang a circular blade flew out of the wall and struck the weapon hard leaving termers screaming up Abdul’s arm from his tight grip to his elbow to his shoulder. “Son of a motherless goat” Abdul Curses.
Abdul calls up to Edrin and K’lara and bids them to descend with caution. They climb down the rope to the point it gets severed. Abdul triggers the trap one more time to allow Edrin and K’lara time to move passed it while it resets. They both swing down to the landing and look around. The room is a large circle with hallways north, south, east and west. The tunnel they just dropped in from is in the center of the room. “Any sign of Jay”? Edrin asks
“No, but I do not think he’s dead. I have seen no sign of blood or bones.” Abdul said.
“He’s dead’ K’lara interjects. “I’m pretty sure”

Just at that moment a fog rolls up the pit in the center of the room. The group braces for a poison attack but notice it doesn’t move toward them. The little cloud instead moves away from the group and then down one of the hallways. A few moments later the cloud reappears and moves down another hallway. “Think that’s Jay” Edrin asks.
“Might just be” Abdul answers

“I’m still pretty sure he’s dead.” K’lara says. “I just got a funny feeling, which usually means someone is dead”

Edrin, K’lara, and Abdul sit at the mouth of the pit with their feet dangling over and share an apple and some food rations. After a few minutes the cloud reappears and hovers over to the trio. The Cloud begins to spin creating a powerful vortex then collapses in on itself leaving a somewhat startled Halfling in its place. “See, I’m not dead” Jay announces.
“See, He’s not dead” Abdul repeats. “Pay up”

Edrin and K’lara hand over the wagered handful of copper pieces. “Never bet against a Thune… When Death is on the line… Ha ha ha ha”

Jay cocks his head for a moment. “Umm… ok. So Down each hallway is a statue. These hallways have a trap triggered by a pressure plate.” Jay points down the various passageways “Down that hallway is a statue on a hinge, that’s the way out. I peeked on the other side of the secret door and there is a couple of nasty looking undead.”
Jay leads the way down the hallway where a statue with many sharp swords stands proudly at the end. The leaver to move the statue and open the passageway was between two sharp blades. Edrin stuffed his mailed fist into the opening and pulled it back hard. The door slides inward silently revealing two mummies.

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Abdul cups his hands and conjures a small ball of light. With a grin he pulls his cupped hands to his side and then thrusts them forward ejecting the tiny flaming sphere into the room. In an instant the room turns into an inferno setting the undead creatures on fire. The mummies howl in rage and pain. Abdul runs to the closest mummy with sword in hand and swings it hard. The Sword lights up with a holy radiance that seems to indicate the Gods are happy to strike down these abominations. The mummy raises it forearm to block the blow and nearly loses its arm below the elbow. Edrin Charges into the room behind Abdul and strikes the still reeling undead with his axe of frost in the shoulder leaving its arm nearly useless. Edrin jabs the undead in the stomach with the top of the axe forcing it into an almost bowing posture. Jay moves forward and capitalizes on the stance of the mummy and runs his stone rapier through the eye of the creature. The mummy howls as it collapses to the floor. Edrin looks up from the fallen mummy to find the other undead charging toward him. The Undead stops just before contact and locks its eyes with Edrin’s. With its cold breath visible in the air, a wicked hiss screeches out of the undead and its eyes light up. Edrin breaks into a cold sweat of fear as this creature manages to break his spirit and courage. Only his prowess in combat gives him the strength to not abandon his friends and flee outright. The mummy strikes Edrin hard but it only manages to be a glancing blow to his shield. K’lara Follows Jay into the room with her hands already a blaze in fire. A flaming rod materializes in her hand as she brings it back to throw like a javelin. With a grunt she hurls the flaming spear at the mummy to have it lodge deep in its chest. A howl fills the room as the mummy erupts into flames and falters to the floor.

The group pauses a moment breathing heavily and looking around the room. Innate hieroglyphs cover the room. In the center of the far wall is the statue of a large man with a crook in one hand and a flail in the other. On either side of the statue or doors that exit the room. A trail of platinum pieces lead from the entrance to the statue on the floor. “That looks like a trap. Do we really need more money”? Edrin asks.

The group gives the coins a glance and moves to the far end of the room. Jay inspects the statue, first investigating for traps and secret doors, then the removability of the items in the statues hands. Abdul recognizes the statue to be of one of the predecessors of Amen Ra. Jay now moves to the doors and searches for anything nefarious. Seemingly safe, Jay gently opens one of the doors and peeks in.

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5 hunched figures move in the shadows of the small room beyond. These creatures are clad in ancient ornamented leather armor and are brandishing khopesh swords. Under their armaments are hieroglyphs tattooed to stretched skin over bones. One of the creatures hisses at Jay which prompts another to howl as they start forward. K’lara cups her hands and summons a small ball of fiery light and projects it forward. The small burning blaze flies past Jay into the room. The doorway feels like it breaths in as the fireball consumes all the air inside the room followed by a massive exhale. Edrin chases into the room to the inflamed undead with his axe held high over his head. With a furious swing down he chops a creature from the left of its neck to its right armpit causing the head and one arm to fall forward while the rest of it fell backwards. With his axe now low he swings it up catching the leg of another creature flipping it to be prone on its back. With a heavy steel boot Edrin stomps down on its still burning skull.

Jay lunges forward and stabs into the chest of the undead. He then tumbles backward to a safer position. What at first seemed to be mindless moans and howls from the undead now appear to be more vocal and meaningful, even if no one knows exactly what they are saying. Abdul points his index and middle finger at one of the remaining foes. His hand glows red for a moment until a scorching ray shoots out of it. The flaming beam m hits the undead in the chest.

They move to surround Edrin. One undead coming straight on swings to have his khopesh only to have it deflect off Edrin’s shield. Another comes from Edrin’s left and also gets slammed by his shield. With Edrin twisted blocking the other two creatures the third moves behind Edrin and swings. The first slash gets Edrin in the side between his plates and below his chain shirt leaving a thin line of blood. At the taste of blood the khopesh takes a dark and smoky appearance. A line of smoke trails from Edrin’s fresh wound to the weapon like it was trying to pull his very life out of his body. Edrin winces and becomes focused in a metal fight of wills. K’lara appears in the doorway with her hand flickering with fire. She opens her fingers and palms wide and pours flame into the room bathing all inside but Edrin. This breaks the undead’s focus and khopesh losses its smoky grip on Edrin. Edrin screams violently and grabs the undead with his mailed hand buy the skull. Another scream erupts as Edrin breaks and crushes the skull with the fury of his own out reached hand. Abdul enters the room and stands next to Edrin to face the remaining undead. Abdul slashes at the creature severing its left hand just below the elbow while it slashes at Abdul. Edrin brought his shield up and partially blocked the hit to Abdul.

K’lara throws a fire bolt at the one armed creature that pierces its abdomen and burns away at the creatures flesh. Edrin chops the smoking one armed corpse into two pieces that fall to the floor. Jay tumbles forward and lances both calves with one thrust of his rapier. He then leaves his weapon lodged in the undead’s legs in affect binding them together. The creature lunges forward at the retreating Halfling but stumbles to lay sprawled out on the stone floor. K’lara follows her target to the floor with the aim of her hand. For a moment it looked as though the undead creature was actually swimming in flames the way it flailed and floundered on the floor. Then after a moment it ceased to move at all.

The group strips the undead of anything that seems useful. They find a copper dagger, 2 scroll tombs and 2 white gaseous potions. The scrolls have wizard’s spells written. Evards Black Tentacles, Wall of Fire, and Stone Skin are all scribbled in sloppy magi handwriting on one scroll. On the other scroll is Protection from Elementals. The potions grant invisibility. The bronze dagger (+2) also had a special quality to it. The hilt of the dagger is crafted in a unique hide that is somehow unsettling and runes appear and disappear on the blade. The dagger is heavily ornamented and looks more like sacrificial or ceremonial paraphernalia than a weapon for combat. Abdul focuses on the runes and magically deciphers their meaning. Surprisingly, the runes seem to speak gibberish. Between the nonsense phrasings “Your soul is mine” appears briefly on the blade. Inspecting the runes Abdul suspects the language to be extra plainer. Also while investigating the blade he finds magical properties that allow it to cast illusions to look like other objects. Abdul stows the blade and protection from elemental scroll. Once stowed safely away, Abdul begins to secretly covet his new item.
Now able to look about the small room it appears totally unadorned. Still able to magically understand languages Abdul steps back into the previous room. He reads the words out loud. “He lays the eternal resting place of SomG’uy. The royal majesty that reigned from….”

As Abdul reads, the adventurers quickly loose interest and start puttering around the room. Jay moves to the other door on the far south wall and begins his ritualistic inspection. Jay quietly opens the door to reveal a small empty room. Jay raises the star gem to his eye and sees through the illusion to reveal a passageway on the far end of the room. Jay takes the lead and travels carefully down the hallway. When the hallway turns Jay peaks around the corner into a still blackness of the unlighted passageway. Edrin moves to the corner next to Jay and looks down the hallway with his superior dark vision eyes. The hallway continues even passed his dwarven vision. Jay continues to lead in total darkness using his stone rapier to feel the path ahead. Edrin follows Jay but back about 30 paces. The rest of the group followed behind Edrin by the same approximate 30 paces. The hallway seems to be approximately 100 feet in length that comes to an abrupt dead end. Jay runs his hands up and down the stone surface and then gives the wall a hard push. The wall moves grudgingly to create another passageway.

The short passageway opens into a large octagonal room with exits at the four compass points. To West is an archway that leads to a door, on the East side of the room is an archway that leads to something that the group will have to get closer to investigate, and on the South end of the room is an archway that leads to a dead end. In the center of the room is an eight foot tall obelisk made of black stone. Small detailed engravings are etched into the base of the obelisk. Abdul leans down to read the engravings. “Ask of me a question” Abdul reads out loud.

Jay and Edrin move to the Eastern alcove to investigate it. Just passed the archway of the corridor is a deep pit in the floor. Just above the pit is a matching hole in the ceiling. Rocks, pebbles, and other debris fall continuously down the open shaft. Jay gasps as a mummy surprisingly drops down the shaft through the pit in the floor. Jay and Edrin continue to watch the debris when another mummy falls passed them flailing its arms to reach them. Edrin forms a curious smile on his face and digs through is pack to find a used potion bottle. With one hand he gingerly tosses it into the pit. After a moment two mummies writhing fall passed them. “This must be the mummy shoot” Jay japes.

Abdul laughs and approaches the pit. As he stands there investigating mummies continue to pass at high velocity with outreached hands. Avoiding the mummy torpedoes flying by, Abdul looks up and down the shaft to find only darkness at either end. Jay loses interest in the mummy garbage disposal and investigates the South archway of the room. It takes Jay a while but he manages to discover the sliding portion of the wall that opens into a doorway. Content with discovering the passage he moves to the obvious door and puts his ear to it and listens.

After some time Edrin does see a potion flask fall through the debris. It looked markedly similar to the one he had just thrown in a few moments ago forcing his little smirk into an impish grin. Content in solving the ‘mummies in the hole’ riddle Edrin marches to the black obelisk. “Where is the princess’s current location?”

A low ominous voice can be heard throughout the room. “Despair, if you continue thus”. The source of the voice seems to be the obelisk.
“Where is the Efreeti, Pasha Khalitharius” Abdul asks the obelisk.
A low rumbling voice answers again “Another tactic might prove wiser”.
After listening to the door for a time Jay is reasonably content with the safety and slowly opens the door. Inside the door is a small ten foot hallway that opens up into a fifty foot circular room. A shaft of light pierces the darkness from the domed ceiling above to illuminate a translucent altar in the center of the room. The walls are covered in five different types of hieroglyphs. Closed doors are situated again at the compass points of the room.

Abdul enters the room and walks up the writing on the walls. He runs his hand across the surface of the smooth stone and mummers the interpretation of the hieroglyphs. “May Seker grant thy welcome to his place of rest and worship. May he aid you in your kindness and grant on to you the power that you deserve.” Abdul turns and moves to another set of hieroglyphs. “Mighty Seker, God of light, purifier of the unclean souls that has lost their way to heavenly rest is honored here.” After a brief pause Abdul reads another set of hieroglyphs. “If thou believes in his might and glory, a sacrifice at his alter shall gain thy boon.” Before Abdul finishes reading aloud he walks to the next set of hieroglyphs to read them. “Seker shall sign forth in the last days when all the world despairs, to assist in the destruction of the great evil that spreads across our land.” Abdul stands defiant before the last set and softly reads “His might will sunder the restless spirits and put an end to their sinful evils.”

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Abdul finishes reading the hieroglyphs and then says to himself “’He of Restau…” and then trails off in thought. Something d “Forgive me, I mean to say that one of his many titles is ‘the place of ‘openings’ or tomb entrances. He helps souls cross to the realm of the dead.”
As Abdul reads, Jay walks the perimeter of the room looking for traps and treasures. Next Jay moves towards the altar and then pauses in mid-step a few feet away from it. “Seker asks” whispers a voice in his head. Jay approaches the last few steps slowly and then examines the altar. Jay decides to make a sacrifice to this God of Seker and puts all the coin that’s on his person on the Altar. The light that shined like the sun continued to beam down to the altar. Jaw had to count to ten before truly giving up on something happening. It is hard to guess as to why nothing happened. Maybe he didn’t pray to this god Seker, maybe he didn’t in his heart believe anything would happen, or maybe it wasn’t the sacrifice the god had been looking for. Although to some the money Jay placed on the altar was great sum, but in his heart maybe he knew it was no great sacrifice while his vast wealth stashed in K’lara’s bag of holding.

After a long pause the group heads back into the previous room with the riddling obelisk and head to the south. Jay investigates the short hallway to the south and discovers the secret passage. The passage way opens into a room with similar size and dimensions as the one they are in. In the center of the octagonal room is a large cube with suits of armor standing motionless standing around it. As Jay steps into the room suits of armor turn his way. “Ummm…” Jay almost has a chance to give warning before they charge.

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“Haha” If laughter could ever sound like a battle cry, it was Edrin now in this moment. Jay ducked out of the way of Edrin’s counter charge. They clashed together like a summer storm shaking the walls and floor with heavy blows. Jay and Abdul engage with swift subtle cunning landing melee attacks when opportunities presented. K’lara set the room a fire with her magic grace. The animated armor seemed less affected by the touch of flame that K’lara thought appropriate. Her hands then turn blue with frost on the sleeves to unleash an arctic blast upon foe. With each cast the animated foes seemed physically jarred by the attack. “That’s more like it” K’lara grinned as they fell one after another under the group’s attacks. When they fell, the armor splashed to the ground revealing nothing had been inside. One pursues K’lara and then redirects toward Abdul. Abdul runs all the way into the large circular room with the altar and prepares to make his a stand. The animated suit charges to the threshold of the room and stops abruptly. It turns quickly and focuses back on K’lara. It never saw Edrin coming from its right flank. With a massive chop Edrin smashes the Armor to the floor.

The ceiling is twenty feet high leaving ample room above the ten foot cube. Jay moves closer to the cube at notices that it appears to be a foreign black stone. Jay walks the perimeter of the stone cube and then throws his grappling hook up to the top. At the edge the hook catches and secures indicating a lip. Once at the top Jay peers down into what looks like a ten by ten doorless, windowless room. On the floor in the center of the room lay a closed book. “God dam it” Jay curses.
“What”? Asks K’lara
“I think it’s a trap” Jay says.
“Why?” Abdul asks
“There is a book in the center of a barren room.” Jay replies “It looks like curious halfing bait”
“I’m curious now” Edrin responds “Go get it”

With a deep sigh Jay surveys the ceiling and floor and throws some rope down. In one fluid motion, Jay hops down and with knees still bent from landing jumps back up to his rope with the book in his left hand. In a mad scurry to avoid ice, fire, spikes, and poisoned darts he tumbled over the wall and landed next to his friends on the outside.

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“Bah, that’s just a book. I’m not interested” Edrin says laughing noticing no trap had gone off. K’lara takes the book and looks through it. The cover of the book has The Eye of Horus. Inside the book K’lara notices hieroglyphs written on the inside. K’lara hands the book to Abdul so he can read it. Abdul inspects the book and deduces that it most likely came from a high priest of Horus. Abdul’s face twists in disgust and promptly hands the book back. “I may not have a great relationship with Horus” Abdul admits.

K’lara doesn’t have any answers at this point but feels that with time she could study the book to unwrap its secrets. She stuffs the book into her bag of holding. Jay is already snooping around the room looking for traps and secret exits. The room seems to be nearly identical with exits at the 4 compass points. This time the bottomless pits are to the south and to the east and the unexplored room is to the west. Jay silently opens the door to yet another octagonal room with for exits at the compass points. To the south is a shaft with falling debris. The north exit should lead to the circular room with the altar. To the west is a suspiciously a dead end. The center of the room bares an eight foot tall black obelisk of stone. Small detailed engraving is etched into the stone towards the bottom. This obelisk appears identical to the previous one they found.

The group follows Jay into the room to explore the area. Edrin examines one shaft and sees small racks tumble down the shaft. Occasionally he spots crystal ball, a gleaming helmet and shield, scroll and two small bottles skitter passed. “Ask of me a question” Abdul reads the engraving from the obelisk. Edrin frowns. Edrin takes his shield and holds it out to catch the items falling endlessly on repeat in the shaft. A few times Edrin missed his prize but for once dwarven stubbornness is a virtue. Once they gather all the items from the shaft they make their way back to the topless stone box of the previous room. They all agree it will be much safer to rest behind the ten foot walls. One after another they climb inside and begin to look at their new treasures.

The bottles contain Oil of Slipperiness, Scroll of fireball written at the 6th level of use (one shot fireball), Shield +2 (Dwarvin Make-“You feel more important”-easy going- Covet wealth-), Crystal ball –Clairvoyance-Scry(once per day), and finally the helm is cursed-alignment change. Edrin give Abdul his Elvin shield and take the new one for his own, Jay takes the grease potions and K’lara takes the fireball scroll.

After some discussion on who to scry on between the princess and the Efreeti the group decides to scry on the princess even though they don’t even know what she looks like. Inside the crystal ball images start swirling. She is sitting in good health on large pillows. The impressions on her hand match the palm signs the group was given. The room is small and smooth with circular blue opaque glass like walls. There are no exits to the room. The ceiling tapers up high into the air. The group stares into the crystal ball searching for clues to tell them the location of the lost princess. Suddenly a popping sound fills the room and the images distort and grow. The princess turns to a smoky gas and rises out of the high point of the room. The orb of vision follows the princess out of the room into a much larger room.

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For a moment the vision is out of focus and then snaps back into clarity revealing that the princess was magically stuffed into a bottle. The gas settles and the princess reforms under the shadow of the looming Efreeti. “Ahh.. Princess. Interesting.” The Efreeti Stares directly at the invisible orb that is giving vision to the crystal ball. “You’ve been busy?”
The princess folds her arms “Busy? Doing what? I’m totally bored in there. Like, I totally don’t even have my iScrolls to read or anything.” The Efreeti makes a face that is either squinting in suspicion or wincing in pain at her voice. With a flick of his wrist the Efreeti magically stuffs her back into the bottle.

The group finishes it rest in the safety within the cube.

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