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October 13, 2004

Green Light

Sprocket's Journal

Eleasis 2, 1373 DR, Ruins on the outskirts of Pommeville

Ronyá and Zym decided that they had had enough of adventuring for now and headed back above ground. Everyone else continued to (slightly more carefully than before) open doors and check the remaining unsearched rooms of the catacombs. In one room, we found a rather smelly (according to Widget, anyway) well covered in rotten wood beams with a broken pail. I kept wondering about the magic that was clearly present on that statue of the armored warrior by the altar in the larger room. I mused aloud about this, and much to our taller companions’ dismay, Roscoe decided to check the altar room carefully just one more time. Of course, when he got within a few paces of the skull-decorated altar, four skeletons with scimitars appeared and began to attack him! He hightailed it back to the doorway, dodging all four skeletons with only minor injury. Too bad one of the doors had been removed from its hinges! This turned out not to be a problem though— we could easily fight them through the open door (I even ran up and hit one with my staff!) and Bryrgar and Charzth dropped the heavy door on the final skeleton, crushing it. I appreciated the chance to see how the magic of the altar worked, and wondered, since the previous set of skeletal fighters had “disappeared,” if the altar would be restocked with undead if we went near it again.

Bryrgar had found what looked like sleeping quarters, and though not much of interest was found there, another door leading from them turned out to be the private quarters of Nedrezzar (who, it turns out, is the evil source of the current undead infestation in Pommeville). I know the name, because Nosila handed me a journal she found under the bed’s mattress. I was about to skim the tome when Bryrgar found a pouch hidden amongst the room’s furnishings, which contained two moonstones and a diagram of the magically enhanced statue in the altar room. He called Roscoe and I over to study the diagram, and though we couldn’t tell for sure what the symbols on it meant, we were both sure that it meant that the statue must be further studied.

Our taller companions, who would be doing the majority of fighting if the skeletons sprang from the altar again, we not too keen on the idea, but we went back to check the statue. Thankfully, this time the skeletons did not reappear. We saw that three of the symbols on the paper matched what was on the statue’s breastplate, in the middle of which Roscoe could discern the outline of a square. The diagram also showed the right knee of the statue to be of some importance. Pushing on the statue’s knee caused the square outline on breastplate to part, revealing a drawer!

The drawer contained eight valuable gems, a gold ring, and a divine scroll with four useful spells on it for Bryrgar. While he poured over that, I skimmed through some of Nedrezzar’s journal. It indicated (unsurprisingly) that he had been a cleric of Tiamat some 240 years ago, and described his preparations for lichdom. Not being the least bit interested in how or why necromancy is practiced, I skipped to the last entry, which outlined his final preparations for the ritual, and more importantly, that he had a crypt that could be reached through a secret entrance— below the skull-adorned altar. Roscoe immediately set himself to studying the altar, and he determined that the skulls could be depressed. He pressed one himself, and then asked Charzth to use his shovel to hit the other three, lest there be a trap. At least one of the skulls had some sort of needle trap, so this was a wise precaution.

As the fourth skull was depressed, the altar slid open to reveal steps going down. There were footprints on the steps in the dust that looked as though they had been made in the last few weeks.

As we descended the steps, we noticed the temperature was markedly cooler in the crypt. We found ourselves in a small chamber with two single doors on either side of us, and a pair of double doors in front of us. Roscoe decided to systematically check each door, but Bryrgar had other ideas. He wandered through one of the single doors and seconds later we heard a bit of an “oof” and a crashing sound. He didn’t respond to our calls, so we all raced after Charzth, to find him peering down into a pit in the floor. Below us was the dwarf, with a spike sticking through him in an alarming way. The humans were able to pull him up with a rope, but we had no way to heal him. Now, Charzth and Nosila were willing to wait until the dwarf regained consciousness, but we were afraid he would not do so before nightfall (when, we feared, the zombies would bother the townsfolk again), so Roscoe and I volunteered to run to the surface and bring back something to heal him. We grabbed the gems we’d found and were off.

The halfling and I first turned to Pommeville’s one and only potion maker, an elderly human named Hama, who I’d met briefly during one of our overnight stays in the temple. We asked for every healing potion she had, and she gave us six for one emerald (worth about 200 gold pieces by my estimate), with a kind thank you for our help with the zombie attacks. Roscoe reminded her to head to the temple again tonight though— just in case we didn’t succeed in our quest by sunset.

Roscoe’s mention of heading to the temple reminded me that we had one other source of healing— the paladin Damota. We agreed it would be worth the few extra minutes it would take to go request his aid, and hurried off in the direction of the temple.

Our side trek turned out to be a very good decision, for not only was he willing to immediately accompany us back to the ruins, but the sorcerer Aseir was there as well, and had reconsidered my request of the night before. The four of us were in the crypt a few minutes later, at which point the paladin healed Bryrgar.

We walked back out to where the doorways all met, this time taking a look at the double doors, which we noticed bore the symbol of Tiamat. As we got closer, white writing appeared above the doors:

In this year, 1117 of the Realms, I set my seal upon the crypt beyond this door. Evil slumbers within. To ward the Realms I have placed my stave over the tomb; let no person disturb it. Heed this, my warning.

Prefect and Bishop Astara Trueheart

Roscoe moved closer to examine the doors for traps, which Bryrgar determined had magical wards. The dwarf then used the scroll we had just found to dispel the magic of the wards, and we opened the doors.

The room was bathed in an eerie green light from four braziers in the corners. In the center of the room, a large stone sarcophagus, showed a relief depicting a stately hierophant. Runes surrounded it on the floor, but, with a 2’ gap where a cylinder or staff obviously had been removed. On a shelf on the far wall, a crystal skull leered at us, completing the disquieting scene.

At this point, we all agreed that we should probably start looking for that missing staff, and remembered there was a door on the level above us that we had yet to go through. Though it was late afternoon, opening the crypt must have disturbed the already-unnatural order of things— four undead were lurching down the steps towards us, trapping us between them and the tomb! As my comrades prepared to fight, I feared we would be quickly overwhelmed if there were more undead behind these four, so I cast the illusion of a heavy iron portcullis and had it appear to drop down between the bottom step and the floor— keeping the undead on one side, unable to attack us, while we decided what to do. We apparently decided to attack, but my companions believed the gate to be real as well (I must come up with some sort of “warning” to give them so they can tell when I’m casting a spell). They took turns stabbing through the “bars” of the illusory door (though I believe Damota must have realized it wasn’t really there by the way he struck the zombie in front of him) while the animated corpses tried to reach through the “bars” to tear at living flesh.

Charzth realized he couldn’t effectively fight with his tiny (for him) knife while so many people were in that small area, so he did what (I hope) turned out to be a good offensive strategy— he ran back into the crypt and, using a mining pick, smashed the crystal skull. Shards went everywhere, and the force of the exploding skull threw him a few feet to hit the sarcophagus behind him. As Nosila ran into the chamber to see if he was hurt, a green “glow” flew from the smashed skull and into one of the zombies, lighting its eyes with an evil intelligence. As we slew that zombie, the green witchfire retreated into the sarcophagus— right past where Nosila and Charzth were standing. We had managed to take down two zombies and one skeleton, and only one skeleton remained. I let the portcullis “fall” over, pinning the skeleton to the steps so that Damota could easily smash it. We then all ran to the crypt.

Sliding off the stone lid revealed an undead cleric Nedrezzar clutching a mace and wearing the symbol of Tiamat. It jumped up quickly, and as it stood there, I could think of nothing to help, so I made it appear as though its cloak had risen up and wrapped around its head. I don’t know if it helped or not, but we were able to subdue it quickly before it harmed us.

While my companions hoped that the crystal skull was the lich Nedrezzar’s phylactery, it appears to me that it was some sort of “magic jar”— but one that allowed the essence of the lich to hop from one corpse to the next rather than between living beings. So, Nedrezzar will reform— we have to either find that staff and reseal this crypt, or better, find and destroy the phylactery.

Posted by Kristin at 22:55 | Sprocket’s Journal