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Looks Like Hell

Theona’s Journal

Kythorn 26, 1373, Somewhere in the Nine Hells

My comrades, either listening to my suggestions about the statues needing looked over again, or just unsure how to proceed, decided not to hop into the Vault of Sorrow. Instead, Deitricha, Areon and I went to check out the mage statue hall again, while Tassar and William went out of the ruins for some air. Neither attempted to beat the other, which surprised me, as I am certain I heard William mumbling in his sleep about “teaching that halfling a lesson.” While they were aboveground we examined the statues a bit more carefully. I can only assume that whatever spell the statues may have cast (for I am convinced the frozen hand gestures mean something), had been spent on the victims in the hall— perhaps some sort of enchantment that may have caused the human mage to attack a Tel-Quessir. I found the outline of a secret door, 5’ high, opposite the impaled mage, and upon opening it, we heard a lot of bellowing from a very loud, gruff voice. Curious, and slightly alarmed, we crept down the revealed 25’ corridor and found a shaft with a dwarf lying at the bottom. Apparently Tassar and William were done breathing outdoor air already, as they appeared and quickly climbed down the shaft. They began to chat with an obviously distressed dwarf who was trapped under a pile of debris. I quickly climbed down and pulled Tassar off the pile to help the dwarf, who introduced himself as Rosorc, up while Areon and Deitricha were climbing down, and then gave the parched dwarf some ale (which must have been the exact right thing to do, as I’ve apparently made a friend for life). He had been with traveling companions, but had been separated in some rather involved chase, somehow winding up in the ruins.

We looked around the area we were in: a small hall with two more mage statues and stairs leading down to yet another pair of mage statues flanking a pair of doors. Before I could stop him, Tassar moved between those statues and began to tug the doors open. I managed to leap out of the way as the statues shot electricity at the halfling. He looked dazed for a split second and appeared to shake it off. Rosorc helped look over the statues, somehow managing to break a finger off of one, but they appeared to no longer be dangerous. This led me to believe we’re either the first to make it this far, or any caretaker these catacombs had have been on vacation the last several weeks.

Tassar, now that the doors were open, started down another hall (about 40’ by 10’) towards another pair of doors, and Deitricha tried to catch up with him; all the while I was hollering at him for being careless with the statues. He stepped on a hidden plate in the floor and an iron gate dropped down out of the ceiling 5’ from the doors at each end. Two secret panels opened in the side walls and two dread guards, followed by twelve skeletons, appeared. I began a frantic search for a switch to pull up the gates, hampered by the attempts of the party to fight through the bars (which was necessary, really, but slowed things down for me). In fact, once or twice William pushed me out of the way so he could cast a spell, and Areon gave him a stern warning not to touch me. Deitricha dusted the skeletons six at a time— all that fit in the hallway simultaneously— while we beat on the dread guards with arrows and spells. Rosorc and William managed to burn one or two skeletons during this phase, as it was hard to fight the dread guards through the bars with all the skeletons milling about. Deitricha went down, but fortunately, Areon took out the dread guard fighting her. Tassar went down too, and his guard didn’t! Both were unconscious when I found a lever hidden behind one of the lightning trap statues— which thankfully pulled the gates back up. Rosorc finished off the last construct as Areon and I healed up our two wounded friends. William, oddly, didn’t help until I yelled at him— he figured they could lay there and bleed while he investigated the empty secret compartments that housed the creatures, even while Rosorc fought the last monster and the Tel-Quessir tried to stabilize their fallen comrades. Amazingly, our new dwarf companion seems to have melded with our fighting style faster than our new mage-like person.

Now that we had cleared the hallway, one more set of double doors stood in front of us. I suggested one or two people go back to the other end of the hallway (I asked William first, since he’d seen me find the lever, but he was not really interested in doing that) in case I managed to spring the trap again. The doors were clean though, so I opened them and we went in— dwarf first, then the rest. We found ourselves in a large, scorched and disheveled laboratory with a stone slab in the center, upon which was a dissected (well, likely vivisected, judging by the look on the face) gnome. I began to search the room for a secret door (this place is filled with secret levers, traps, doors, dwarves), once again wondering if this was a real dead end. Just as I found the outline of a door on one wall, the gnome on the slab turned to William and said, “Leave.” He bolted, as fast as he could, out of the chamber and towards the rope we’d used to reach Rosorc. Just as Deitricha rushed after William, I got hit as something invisible brushed me, and I felt a brief numbness that I was able to shake off. Then, those still in the room saw/felt something about halfling-sized flapping about. It was nearly impossible to hit, appearing to heal itself up half the time when we did succeed in stabbing it, and its barbed tail, if it touched one of us, made us feel sluggish and uncoordinated. We spent a long time attempting to hit it, while Deitricha was apparently “subduing” William to bring him back. By the time she did, of course, he was unconscious. Meanwhile, I staggered out into the hall when and told I “look like hell.” Tassar attempted to lasso the creature, now recognized as an imp, which was still zipping about the lab, but lassoed Areon instead. At that exact moment, the imp grazed Areon, and Deitricha hit him with a shuriken. Thankfully Rosorc snagged the imp with a chain he’d been hauling around, and it fell to the floor. Areon cut it in two, and Tassar removed its tail.

I finished searching the room and found a secret panel. Disarming it, I found two potions labeled Lesser Restoration (and quickly drank one), and a box of 50 platinum pieces. At Deitricha’s behest, we sat and rested for two days, getting to know Rosorc much better. The dwarf fancies himself a bit of a bard (just a bard with absolutely no sense of rhyme that can’t carry a tune), and can happily discuss the quality of any tavern’s ale from here to the coast.

After our rest period (during which Areon cast many meaningful looks at me— I think he wants to tell me something but didn’t want to share with the N-Tel-Quess), we finally opened the secret door off the lab and found a bizarre 15’ circle in the middle of the floor of a 25’ square room. It was ringed by runes, and obviously magical. While I studied the runes (William claimed to have little knowledge of arcane magic— note to self: next time we seek out a mage, make sure the mage can cast simple spells), Rosorc and Tassar bashed the lock off of a treasure chest in the corner of the room (200 gold pieces, 550 silver pieces, four labeled potions, two scroll cases, a spellbook, and an ash stick). Like the runes on the circle, the scrolls in the cases are written with symbols I’m not familiar with, but I flipped through the book and actually recognized the words “Ray of Frost,” though not much more. While I lamented the damage to the chest’s lock, Tassar threw a few coppers onto the circle. They disappeared. William indicated that it was a portal that likely goes two ways, and that my suggestion to drop a rope onto it would merely cut the rope in half. Before I could argue this logic, Tassar jumped in. Deitricha, who would jump down the gullet of a black dragon if Tassar were in there, followed. As did William. Then Rosorc. Finally, I turned to Areon and asked him if he’d, “follow me into Hell?” He nodded assent. I reached out and he gripped my hand firmly in his, and we stepped onto the circle together.

Blood red skies hover over mountains of blood red rock in the distance in one direction, a green fortress contrasts against the crimson sky in another. Distant bands of creatures appear to have bat-like wings and barbed tails. As I suspected, we are in Hell.

Posted by Kristin on March 15, 2004, 15:20 | Theona’s Journal