The Withered Fortress

Session 5

Into the Underways

NOTE: This time the session notes were recorded by one of the players, Scott Ledet A.K.A. Valen. Many thanks, Scott!!

Excerpt from the journal of Valen deLarkin

Finally, a moment to rest! Although we take frequent enough breaks, we’ve been forced too, thanks in large part to the expediture of our magical energies in short but often fierce combat. Let’s see, where did I last leave off?

It was a few days back. The party had found themselves back at a grate that had been passed by previously, preparing to explore whatever was to be found below. After preparing the grate with oil to prevent it making much sound and possibly alerting the goblins known to inhabit the area, the grate was removed, revealing a dusty ladder leading into darkness.

Edvar began the descent, but a glimpse of some movement beneath him sent him back to the top. Wishing to clear a path beneath us, and after I had noticed traces of spider web on the ladder, Falyn dropped a flask of oil down the shaft, followed by a lit torch. Once the fire subsided, the party headed down, leaving myself and Vulf to keep guard at the top of the shaft.

Once down, Edvar was set upon by a still smoldering spider, which he quickly crushed to a pulp. The group found themselves in a small room, with two pillars, and corner filled with old crates. A niche in the far side contained a skeleton next to a large chest. As Morrykin investigated the crates, he noticed something moving, leading him to call over Edvar and Wendyl. Edvar lifted one of the crates, and was set upon by a swarm of spiders. He smashed the crate upon the creatures, and his cry alerted me to trouble, so I too descended the ladder. The spiders retreated into a corner, and I took up the torch, keeping watch on the creatures.

Morrykin and Falyn searched the rest of the room for traps. Noticing a path across the center of the room that seems slightly less dusty, Morrykin extended his hand into the path, drawing it back just in time as the floor in that patch slammed all the way to the ceiling, separating the room into two chambers divided by a series of bars.

Falyn took advantage of his small size to slip through the bars, and after successfully unlocking the chest, found a huge haul of items, many of which, he said, were giving off magical auras, along with a cache of platinum. He fed the loot back through the bars, keeping a larger share of the platinum for himself, before slipping back through himself.

Hoping to investigate the corner where the spiders are hiding, we prepared to assault the chitinous villains. Falyn wisely retreated halfway up the ladder, while I hung back with the torch. The other three crept forward.

Taking some lamp oil, Wendyl tossed it into the corner, following that with the torch. As the burning spiders streamed out to their dooms, Falyn and I beat a well ordered retreat up the ladder. Meanwhile, the others discovered that one of the crates is just a dummy, seemingly covering something. Edvar prepared to lift it up.

Underneath, we found a lever. Morrykin pulled it, and the bars retreated back into the floor. Not finding anything else of entrance, we headed back to the surface.

Sneaking past the goblin guard post, the we re-entered the necropolis. Wendyl took this chance to climb to the top of the tower to seek any sign of the pseudo-dragon, while the rest of the party remained below. Finding no change to the messages that had been left, he returned to the rest of the party.

Falyn peeked into the bone filled courtyard, but didn’t see anything. We proceeded into the corridor where we had earlier encountered the beetle swarm.

Quickly leaving the bad memories that spot brought back, we entered the necropolis. There was much discussion on where to go next, but eventually it was decided to explore a room that had previously been skipped.

Upon entering, we found a sarcophagus, filled with blue silk, but no body. It was surrounded by four huge, faintly glowing orbs, along with two pillars covered in words. Some of the party were able to read the languages found on the pillars, though I did not recognize any of them. Morrykin translated the text into common, and after writing it down, showed me the following:

Lady Teraeil

Fought with zeal for our city.

Scorched and scattered foes with her fury!

Guarded our treasures, live and dead.

Received command, power, and honor.

All gates threw wide, all ways passed through freely.

Fame grew without bound.

Threats faced, all defeated.

Wounds suffered – none but one:

Cursed by vanquished foes, or afflicted in self?

We cannot know…

Dying would not die.

Entombed would not rest.

Empty now, the sarcophagus.

Cursed, robbed of rightful slumber.

Her torment turns friends to foes.

Her treasures here yet lie.

Her remains sealed apart, alone.

Her bones must not return here -

Must not restore her tomb to whole.

She would surely wake once more!

All gates she throws wide, all ways she passes through freely.

Although intrigued by these words, no one could think of anything else to do, and so we left the room and swung around behind the stairs, back to the rooms covered in blood. Much to Wendyl and I’s surprise, the others who had sampled this disgusting goo on our previous visit, and then experienced the aftereffects, were looking with some longing at the red miasma. Falyn eventually had to be physically restrained, as he described the goo as looking like milk and honey (something I still would not eat off of the floor, but that’s Falyn for you). Passing beyond, we found ourselves back in the last rooms we had explored, coming to a pair of shut doors.

Once they had been opened, we continued on finding a room that was filled with old blood, with what appeared to be some sort of operating theater. We explored a few more rooms, not finding much of anything interesting. Falyn crawled into a small opening we found in one wall, came back out seeking a torch, and withdrew later, not telling the rest of us what he had encountered. [Perhaps an oversight. Falyn did show the group what he found in the cubbyhole, just not at that time. Later when he was doing his “identify” thing he identified a small glass bead which seems to be a one-shot sonic blast. That’s the only thing of interest he found in the little cubbyhole, if my notes are correct.]

Finally, we found a room that held some interest. A small platform extended into the room, with a deep pit surrounding it. At the end of the platform, a sarcophagus was visible. After Falyn and Morrykin checked for traps part of the way along the platform, Falyn decided to crawl down into the pit. After a few moments, we heard him make a startled sound, and the rest of us rushed to his aid.

We found him enveloped in some sort of tentacled sphere of darkness! Falyn was entirely surrounded. Edvar, who had begun to crawl down into the pit, watched as the sphere climbed up towards the ceiling of the room.

Seeing this, I took up my sling, removed one of my slingstones from my horn, and took aim. And my aim was true, right at the center of the beast, and then right into Falyn’s back! Realizing my error, I ran forward, hoping to find a chance to heal him. Wendyl fired off a volley of magical energy, striking the creature as well. Then Morrykin ran past us, vaulting off of the sarcophagus, and leaping at the creature, sinking one of his short swords into it.

DM Comment: This has to be one of the most impressive acts of heroism I’ve ever seen as a DM. It was quite entertaining to see Morrykin make a running charge then leap off of a ledge at a floating monster 40 feet in the air, trusting to luck to avoid a rather nasty fall, whilst simultaneously stabbing the monster.

[I concur with the DM here, an heroic act, and it no doubt saved Falyn from near-certain death. Way up there in the “cool” factor too.]

While Morrykin dangled from the hilt of his sword, Falyn took a magical shard he had found in the chest earlier in the day, and sank it into the creature. The shard morphed, transforming into some sort of acid, and killed the beast, which promptly fell back to the ground. Using his ring, Morrykin stabilized Falyn, while I lowered a rope to allow the others to climb back up. Once Falyn was back with me, I attempted to atone for my earlier attack on him by healing him, returning him to conciousness.

Meanwhile, the others turned their attentions to the sarcophagus. When the seal had been broken, a green gas escaped, stunning Morrykin. Once he had recovered, the party began looking through the contents. They also noticed that on the lid of the sarcophagus were the words “Lord Consort Teraeil”.

After splitting up some gold, and the other objects found in the casket, the party decided to continue on.

Returning to a more defensible room, we decided to rest from our latest misadventure. After we had cast what healing we had, I took the first watch with Vulf, and awaited my turn at some sleep. Falyn bent over some of the objects found in the casket, trying to divine their purpose. I didn’t note this at first, but he has become strangely skilled at divining the purpose of magical artifacts. It’s most certainly a useful feature in the fey creature, though his wings, coupled with his abilities, lead me to suspect there is more than a little unnaturalness to him.[Sadly though, Falyn believes this useful ability may have run its course…]

The next morning, we continued down the hallway. At a fork, we took the path to the right, coming upon a pair of doors. Listening carefully, I could hear something from inside, but could not make out the source. Upon opening the door, we found four zombie like creatures, and the fight began!

Morrykin’s swords flashed, Falyn threw more of the crystal shards he had found, which dissolved one of the creatures into a puddle. Running around the corner to get a clear view, Wendyl sent bolts of magical energy into the fray. Edvar tackled one, Vulf harried the last, while I sent a sling stone spinning at it’s head.

In short order, the zombies were defeated. Upon searching the room, we decided to add a length of chain to our provisions, along with a large hammer, covered in dwarven runes proclaiming it to be “The Bell Ringer”. Edvar took this.

Continuing down the hallway, we find another fork. Taking the right way, we find a switch, which when pulled, fires an array of crossbow bolts at a door further down the hallway. Not wanting to investigate what might be behind that particular door, we returned to the other branch of the fork, and begin looking at the first door we come to.

Once the door was open, we found a row of bookshelves, covered in dusty old tomes. Our trusty rogues begin searching for traps, as we slowly entered the room. As we continued on, we find further shelves, and a desk in one corner of the room.

Falyn noticed that the books on the shelves are written in draconic. Each book has a number on the outside, and the books contain records of births, deaths, etc.

Searcing the desk, Morrykin finds writing materials, and a large ornate book called “The Woe of Ilbann”. It tells of a large, prosperous city, which had flourished into a cruel empire. It foreshadows that the dark powers which have made the empire great could one day lead to it’s downfall. An additional chapter at the end covers attacks on outlying territories, including an attack on a rebel stronghold called Findle. Since the gnomes were sent from a village called Findleburrow, this leads to many raised eyebrows.

While I stand watch at the door, the rest of the party continues their search of this library. When convinced that nothing else of worth was to be found, we continued down the hallway.

The next door opens onto a circular room, with a large pillar in the center, and doors in the four cardinal directions, including the one we had entered from. Choosing a door, we continue on into yet another room centered upon a sarcophagus.

Upon opening this casket, it’s discovered to be empty but for a single lever. Some suspect this might open a door we passed earlier, so we set up a relay, with one person to pull the lever, and myself and Vulf near the unopened door.

The door slowly opens, and I call back to the others to join me. Continuing down the hallway, we finally reach a large room, with a series of crenelated fortifications. On the far side of the room, an undead is seen sitting in a throne. Next to him, in a large metal cage, is a large metal chest. And in the parapets of the walls, undead archers.

After a long, intense battle, we were able to finally defeat the undead. Morrykin found a key on the body of the leading undead, which opened the cage. Inside the chest, there was a cloth sack filled bones and a skull.

After the beating we had taken, we decided to rest up in this same, rather easily defended room.

Once we’d rested, we returned to the round room with the pillar, and checked the other two doors. Both led to the now familiar rooms with a single sarcophagus in the center. In one, we found a ghast, but other than a few sickened party members, we escaped unscathed. Having now explored every inch of the necropolis but for the area protected by the blue bars of energy, we returned there to investigate.

We’d become fairly convinced that the bones that we had found at the end of the last fight might be those of Lady Teraeil. And given that the lines in the poem mention how “All gates she throws wide, all ways she passes through freely.”, we started to reluctantly come to Falyn’s view that the only way to proceed may be to place her bones back into the sarcophagus we had found earlier.

Returning to the room, Morrykin throws the bag of bones into the sarcophagus. The glowing orbs fire beams of energy into the coffin, and the bones begin to rise from it, spinning around and around. Darkness from around the room begins to coalesce around the bones, forming a more or less feminine figure. And it howls with rage!

In the ensuing fight, many of the party become confused. The creature’s gaze could instill terror in those facing it, causing me and Vulf to flee. When I came to my senses, we were far from the battle, but upon our return, we found that our companions had defeated the beast, and the coffin had been sundered, revealing a cavity beneath.

In the cavity, we find a mettalic rod with a silvery luster, looking a bit like a key, two pouches, a small chest, and a crystal case covered with holy symbols, inside of which are 22 colored vials.

Returning to the room with the blue bars, Falyn approaches them, waves the rod in front of the doors, and the bars shrink and blink out of existence. After checking the door for traps, Morrykin opens it, to reveal a further hallway. At the end of the hallway, we find a stone, spiral staircase, heading down.

We descend into the underpassages. As we get further down, the stone steps become more rough, less finished working. A dripping sound is heard, which gets louder as we get lower.

After nearly an hour’s descent, we reach the bottom, finding a short hallway leading to a set of double doors. Once the doors have been opened, the stonework we’d been travelling through previously gave way to the rough stone floors and walls of a cavern.

As we explore the cave, the sound of dripping is louder to the right. A passage to the left seems to be blocked by a cave in, so we continue to the right, where we found a pile of humanoid bones near to the shore of a subterranean lake. Searching the bones, the rogues find several small buttons and metal bits, apparently the leftovers of some creature’s meal. [Is that all Morrykin and Falyn found? Falyn is not so sure. ;-)]

That’s all I have time for at the moment. The eerie cavern we now find ourselves in, although more welcoming to me than the carven passages above, still seems to threaten us, absorbing the feeble light cast by my dwindling torch. As always, if this journal is found without sign of it’s owner, please return it to the deLarkin family in…...

Comments

Great job documenting the session Scott! Immensely entertaining Jeff!

Session 5
 

I like the first-person character journal approach. It reads more like a novel than a documentary.

Session 5
 

I especially like the part where I didn’t have to write it up myself. :D

Session 5
 

Get an avatar man…

Session 5
 

I agree. In fact, I have posted the only picture I have of you, Jeff, in the Maps section. Feel free to use it as your avatar.

Session 5
 

I agree. In fact, I have posted the only picture I have of you, Jeff, in the Maps section. Feel free to use it as your avatar.

Session 5
 

It got a little squished in the map editor. Jeff, I’ll email you a copy. Sorry about the double post – I can’t figure out how to delete or even edit these.

Session 5
Backpack

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