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March 10, 2004

Regrettable Vault

Theona's Journal

Kythorn 24, 1373, Ruined Tower

It is hard to search with certain people— sometimes one must just give up and let them find the traps themselves, and pray no one dies because of it!

After the stirge incident, I went down a small set of stairs to find a room filled with old bones and rusty metal. Half expecting to have them all rise to fight us, I was calling for Deitricha to have divine assistance standing by when Tassar just wandered in. The bones remained inanimate, as they should. We continued on, oh, about two feet, to come to a door. Finding no traps, we passed through into a bizarre scene— a long room, or a wide hallway, if you prefer, and eight statues of a mage in various contortions, as if casting a spell. William didn’t recognize the gestures, but we found some great stuff to plunder, though it would have been nicer had the items not been on two desiccated corpses: one, an elf in half plate, the other, a robed figure impaled to the wall by a bastard sword. What was left of their facial expressions showed confusion— perhaps one had turned on the other, or maybe the mage statues had cast a spell on them— it was clear that the only weapons in the room belonged to them and had been instrumental in their mutual demise. Good quality stuff though— in addition to the nice bastard sword, we found a well-crafted large steel shield, longbow and arrows. I was still admiring the stuff when I heard a pitiful “woof” sound. Running out of the room with my companions, I discovered that Tassar had found yet another pit trap; this time it was 20’ deep and filled with spikes. He was okay, but his poor riding dog Otto did not survive the fall, or at least, not the landing. To make matters worse, the trap doors swung shut again, preventing us from simply hauling Tassar up with a rope. While I was running back to the last room to grab a broken staff the previous party had used to beat each other to death, I heard another thud in the corridor with the pit— Deitricha had attempted to disarm it, I’m guessing, with her entire body, as she was now lying beside Tassar.

It wasn’t a total loss (except for poor Otto): they found a dead human rogue in the pit who had likely looted her former companions in the previous room— they obtained several carefully labeled potions, thieves’ tools, a rapier, shortbow and arrows, all of very good quality, and a bit of gold too. I was able to brace the trap doors open to allow them to be hauled out by rope.

Now, I don’t know where my brain was after finding all those neat trinkets, but I was itching to continue on and find more loot, so I tied a rope around my own waist to jump the 10’ across the pit, knowing Areon would hold on and keep me safe. I planned to let everyone else use the rope between us if they were uncomfortable jumping. I must remember to not do that when there is no room for a running jump, as I missed. The rope caught me though and Areon hauled me back up. I was reevaluating this, when Tassar (short of stature, heavy of armor, and now toting the large shield) jumped— and fell back into the pit. Well, now I couldn’t close the trap doors, as he was in the pit, so I jumped across (successfully) and hauled him out by a rope.

Before I could correct the issue with the open pit trap, we were attacked— the room we were on the edge of had six statues and two had wandered off their pedestals to smoosh us— two dread guards vs. Tassar the pincushion and I, still not recovered from the stirge attack. I would have probably died right there and then, but Areon pulled on the rope and hauled me back across the pit while Tassar fought the constructs, using his newfound shield to keep their own attacks less effective. By the time I got the trap doors shut and secured so we could run across as a group, Tassar was down and the walking statues were returning to their posts.

I quickly shut the trap and we dashed across. Deitricha ran up to stand over Tassar as the constructs reanimated and continued their assault. Both statues began to attack her, even with the rest of us in the room shooting them. Seeing she wasn’t going to last long, I yelled to Areon to pull out his wand. I am not sure where his mind was (judging by the nice grouping of arrows on the far side of the room, it was not on the current battle!), but after a few seconds my request filtered in and, with a look of recognition, he retrieved the wand of healing, alternately healing Tassar or Deitricha, or fighting the dread guard in front of him.

William was having trouble of his own. Apparently that nice spell he used on the stirge wasn’t an option, as he began tossing magical acid toward the fray. Unfortunately, the only thing he hit was Tassar. He went down. He got healed and back up, and then, I am ashamed to say, I hit him— a bolt aimed at his opponent hit him as he stood up. He went back down. Not wishing to endanger my friends further, I tumbled past Deitricha to stab the construct in the back. Had it been flesh and blood, this would have killed it outright. I hit it one more time and it went down, never to rise. I was about to run over and help Areon, noticing Deitricha was on the floor beside Tassar again and that William was apparently tapped out of magic, but Areon dropped his foe at that very moment too. He then helped patch up Deitricha and Tassar (who I apologized to profusely, though I honestly think Tassar somehow blamed William for my bolt)— I of course had to see what made those constructs work— but their armor was empty. In fact, their armor was now utterly useless, but they each had a rather nice shield.

We decided to just rest in this room, seeing as we were the only things left moving from what we’d seen so far. There was a rather largish well-like hole in the floor, but none of us felt up to investigating it. We ate a bit and took turns keeping watch. At one point I heard Tassar and William having it out— in the future, we’ll have to add “drink Tassar under the table” to our list of requirements after the “follow me” test so that new adventuring companions are truly compatible! Deitricha was obviously tired and not as talkative as I would have liked. Areon was, well, I’m not sure. He’d come over and sit by me for a minute, say something strange like “Nice night.” or “That pit was really big!” and then retreat to a corner for an hour or more.

After a length of time that we decided constituted a full night’s rest, we had a bit of breakfast and then went over to look at the hole in the far end of the room. It was about 12’ in diameter, with the words “Vault of Sorrow” written in Common over it. Now, from my small experience in these matters, taverns, inns, even mercenary units are given names in Common—places that hold great magics or ancient artifacts generally have a name in a more cryptic language— even Thorass would have given it an air of mystery. There was one interesting feature though— we couldn’t see the bottom, thanks to an inky darkness that our torchlight could not penetrate. We tried dipping a rope in and then pulling it out, half expecting it to be charred or cold or something, but it looked just as it had going in. We took a hunk of metal from the dread guard rubble pile and tied that on the rope— and then, we had to tie another rope onto that— finally hearing a clunk about 60’ down. The armor came out looking the same as it had on the way down. Seeing as we haven’t found any secret passages elsewhere, this must be the gate to one of the Hells, though honestly, I was expecting the glowing lights and ghostly moans promised by the local lore. Maybe we should take a closer look at the statues and locations of the corpses we’ve passed for more clues to where this pit leads....

Posted by Kristin at 18:03 | Theona’s Journal