Returning to the Scene of the Battle
No luck, the experience and treasure to be had below was too tempting a goal and too close a target.
Barely a footfall can be heard as the crew makes their way down below. *Crunch* *BZZZZT* *SHWOWM* *BZZZT*. The stragglers from their last combat fall to overwhelming force. Fungerfil’s curiosity peeks as he looks over the room to the south through the shattered wooden door. A long rectangular room is squeezed in the middle by two slotted stone embankments on either side of the room, with a tall metal fence and gate blocking passage beyond the thinnest part of the room. Four stone statues’ eyes move in their sockets, while the plaster statues sit motionless in the two nearest corners of the room and at the sides of the gate. On a whim, Fungerfil starts forward, eager to explore further, as two metal bolts fly out of each embankment thudding into the stone he stood on a moment before. *CLICKCLICKCLICK*
Now the room had everyone’s attention, shoving and pushing past each other to scrounge the room for an answer to the locked bronze gate. They receive a rejoinder of bolts for their trouble, slamming into the slower Boone and Heidi, but find no easy answer to the lock. Just as the thin leather pouch appeared in Fungerfil’s hands, Schlubbel had gauged the spacing of the bars to slip his tiny head through. “Get out of the way Schlubbel, I’m working here!”, Fungerfil cursed. Schlubbel continued to wiggle, narrowing avoiding a bolt as he popped through to the other side. Over here he could see two more watchful statues on this side of the room, as well as a stone door continuing south, a wooden door to the east, and two open archways leading into the two stone fortifications, where two ballistae were clicking away, winding themselves up for another bolt and reaiming. Before long, Boone, Heidi, Fungerfil, and Marina were through the gate to join him. A thrust of a halberd and a blast of ki-focused flame left the ballistae forever clicking, attempting but failing to put tension on their cut strings. A pat on the back from Heidi let Schlubbel know his prudence in waiting for the rest of his party before investigating the doors was appreciated. He had really just been quite fascinated with the magic effects present in the alabaster statues.
Schlubbel took the initiative to peek through the wooden door to the east, and found it nearly jammed with a mound of coffins on the other side. Worming her way in, the lithe Teifling made it past the empty wooden coffins to find a set of stone double doors continuing east. Heidi and Boone stumbled through before shoving open the double doors to a throne room beyond. Inside were a few copper breastplated zombies, a wired zombie with a long bow, and a living suit of armor. The monsters whirled around amidst the crackling bolts of electricity pealing off of four copper columns flanking the walkway up to a stone throne. Tucked in the back corners of the room were two sets of shelves lined with items.
The suit of armor turned and lunged in a single movement, striking at Heidi before she could turn. The adventurers scramble to find positions to attack the armor in the crowded coffin room until Heidi steps back to unleash a continuous rush of magical wind. Marina joins the onslaught with her own burst of ki-focused flame while Fungerfil and Schlubbel fail to connect. Boone holds the frontline, ready to strike at the oncoming zombies. The three haltingly take up a defensive line just inside the stone doors, with own of their own falling to Boone’s waiting polearm. An order is barked in a mysterious language by the bow-wielder, and the zombie strike out in a coordinated attack, wounding Boone.
Suffering from its wounds, the armor begins to exhale a red mist as it brings a flurry of blows down on our band of heroes. Its cloud expands quickly enough to catch everyone by surprise, inducing painful bouts of coughing. Blood vessels coming to the surface, Marina and Fungerfil find extra strength despite the painful haze and take down the armor, but not before Boone’s eyes go red. The Half-Orc starts to lash out wildly, catching another zombie to wound it deeply before Heidi’s wind reaches full strength and pushes the zombies back into the throne room and clears the fog away. The zombies trudge forward but fail to land any blows before they bow out of the way to a quick order. A line of lightning arcs down the throne’s walkway and through the heroes, bringing many of them near death. Marina, wounded, slammed the doors shut with a wave of her hand while the party retreated.
Like a Thief in the Night
During the night’s rest, Boone couldn’t keep his eyes open, and failed to notice until the shift change that a whole herd of giant blue buffalo had cuddled up around their camp. After quietly waking Heidi, she took the initiative to watch the buffalo during her watch and then talk with them in the morning. The buffalo had a tale of a group of men having passed through the area, half of them smelling of earth and the other half smelling of death. In a turn of events, a mother buffalo, when asked for aid by the party, offers up her young daughter to give her some experience traveling the world before she returns to the herd. While young, the buffalo is already the size of a small pony, though when full grown she will be the size of a cottage.
With their new, purple-blue companion in tow, the group decides to return to Woarfrost. On the journey, they come upon two signs “Shortcut” and “Shortkut” both pointing down one direction of a split in the road. Checking both directions as well as the sandy, gravelly soil in the middle turns up nothing. After a short distance the roads meet up again. Upon reaching Woarfrost, they immediately head to the markets to sell their looted goods. In the process, Schlubbel changes appearance to that of a burly dwarf to sell the magic sword, knowing that Boone’s bond with his weapon will allow him to recall it to his hand at any time. Fast talking reroutes the merchant’s concern for checking the magic on the item before a sale in exchange for a lower sale price. At the same time, Fungerfil attempted to find a buyer for an amulet he had recovered which featured an ancient Triumvirate symbol on its face. “What do you think about tomorrow?”, the collector asked, to which Fungerfil replied with a vague platitude. Unsatisfied with the answer, the collector changed the topic of the conversation to the rest of the haul Fungerfil was selling, doing his business, and going on his way. At a magic curio shop, Fungerfil had some thieve’s gloves ordered to help his manual dexterity, having them delivered to Sunny Dale in three days time because the merchant did not have any in stock. A stay at the inn gave the party time to rest.
A trip to Sunny Dale found the town deep in the preparation for the demon attack, with Mother Joe organizing the defenses. Trenches being dug, holy water barrels being stacked up, and incoherent symbols being drawn all over town. Deep bags run under her eyes as she notices the party arrive. Distracted and mumbling, she gives the group orders. They disagree and attempt to get her to go to sleep while they take over the defenses, mentioning that they have returned with the ewer. She is unimpressed and unconvinced, so the party leaves to go get more training in before the demon arrives in three days.
Paying their Dues
On the return trip to the tomb, they encounter a recently dug grave with a single animate zombie inside one mumbling, “paaaayyyy”. It is wearing a union uniform and a dilapidated cart sits by. Schlubbel kills it without a second thought, splattering its brains into the dirt. They are sure Harkar Landar Spark Cart Czar is dead and zombified. Delving down into the darkness, they quickly mop up the remaining electro-zombies in the throne room, but not before the lieutenant gets off a strong bolt of electricity from her bow. Investigation of the throne and bookcases reveals a few minor trinkets as well as a lever opening a bookcase revealing a secret room. Magic weapons and a pile of treasure pool onto the throne room floor when the door is pulled open, beyond it is a staircase heading further down.
The party backs up to finish exploring this floor, starting with the room to the north of the tubs holding the stitched-together oxen. Inside is a whole array of equipment, a green glass tank, books, and three statues that stand at attention. Heidi dives in after boone throws an axe at one of the statues. In bear form, she is able to hold her own even as two of the statues shut the door behind her. The others fight desperately to break through the wood and past the statues to help their dwarven bear friend. Once reduced to rubble, the initial explorations of the room reveal a book written in a mysterious language, so Schlubbel decides to start a ritual of Identify to determine the nature of this book and the magic items they recently acquired. They are interrupted by eight foot tall skeletons enveloped in a blue slime, rippling with sparks. The skeletons investigate the party, ducking low to get under the door and then laugh, “HA. HA. HA. HA.” The skeletons make no offensive moves even while the party stands weapons drawn, sweat beading. The two blue forms clasp hands and disappear in a flash of blinding light, sparks leaving singed arcs on the floor. As soon as Schlubbel’s ritual completes, the group grabs what they can to run out of the tomb, locking every door on their way out before setting up camp for a long rest.