Magnus, Øskur Røgnvaldurarsøn, Goa Finnbjorn, Elroy Wick, and Corun Dum’man appreciate the closeness and smell of forest after so much barren valley. The road they follow leads south, beside the river and beneath hardy green conifers. By noon tomorrow, the group should make the city of Tannis.
A Spot check. Elroy Wick and Magnus (Spot = 21, 24) catch sight of something across the river, ahead on their right. Wizard Corun (with a Natural 1 rolled for Spot) notices a river.
As for the last dozen miles, the river is swift and relatively narrow, only thirty or forty feet wide, shouldered by grassy green banks knit with tree roots and weeds. On the far bank the Bard and Fighter noticed a change. Recently, a large section of river bank collapsed and was swept away. The slide left behind a stark brown hollow of bare earth and exposed an ornate stone archway. The archway is not a natural formation. It looks to be the entrance to an underground passageway.
This is worth a closer look. The party dismounts at river’s edge and hides their horses in the forest. Again they have a river to cross and a lack of bridges. Magnus unpacks a coil of rope, trusts Goa with one end, and repeats his feat of agility by sprinting and leaping across the swift waters, planting firmly in the soft ground on the far side. He ties the rope around a tree. The Halfling Rogue pulls up the slack and ties off on her side.
Shimmying across, Corun Dum’man arrives safe and dry. Elroy Wick is halfway across when he loses his grip and falls in. A brisk effort (Swim = 22) and Wick is ashore. Goa Finnbjorn tries to tightrope-walk the span (with a Natural 1 rolled for Balance), tumbles in, and beaches near Wick (Swim = 21). Druidbarian Øskur shuns the rope and leaps the river, landing just shy of Magnus’s impressive mark.
The five explorers converge on the tunnel entrance. The archway and tunnel are solid stone, detailed to resemble masonry blocks. The passageway leads in several feet, where shadows overtake the daylight. This portal may have been buried for centuries, lost and forgotten until exposed by weather and wear.
But the party is not the first to discover it. Small humanoid footprints, goblin or kobold, indicate the transit of interlopers. The most recent of the goblinoid tracks lead into the tunnel. A Listen check at the threshold. Elroy Wick (Listen = 27) hears faint sounds from deep inside. It takes him a few seconds to place it – the working of tools against stone. Goa (with a Natural 1 rolled for Listen) hears water in her inner ear. The party members draw weapons, pull hooded lanterns from packs and strike flame to them. Corun Dum’man casts Mage Armour on himself.
Either everyone stepped back, or the Rogue stepped forward. In either case, she’s going first. Goa sizes up the threshold, arch, walls, scuffed mud (Search = 13) and decides there are no traps. She tiptoes in. Her friends follow, carefully manipulating their lanterns to provide minimal illumination.
The passage leads in a short distance to a fifteen-by-fifteen-foot chamber. Stone floor and walls, detailed but undecorated. It feels like a temple. Goa wordlessly halts the others. She hunts around (Search = 21) until confident there are no traps. The intermittent, insistent chatter of hammer and chisel beckon from further underground.
Goa leads again, following the sound down another narrow, dark passageway easing deeper underground. Would that their Dwarf friend Eberk could be here to offer insights into this place and its construction. With each soft, careful step the sound of stoneworking grows louder.
The far end of the corridor opens into a looming dark void. Alert Goa (Search = 22) finds a “dangle trap” – a string hung with metal utensils, at knee-height across the doorway. It waits to rattle out a warning. Careful hands of the Halfling (Disable Device = 28) easily and silently dismantle the trap.
Rationing light, the party exposes the new chamber. Forty feet wide, stretching into the shadows, this long hall has two rows of stone pillars supporting the flat grey ceiling. The stoneworking sounds are loud at the far end of the room. Everyone succeeds on a Spot check. Four goblins with tools work a section of the back wall. A nearly-Large-sized and very well armoured humanoid supervises. They are all facing away from the party.
Magnus assumes the lead from Goa. The Rogue and Fighter steal up to the third column on the right; the Bard is behind a column to their left. Behind them, the Druidbarian and Wizard also use the smooth stone pillars for cover. The party thinks they have the advantage. They do not.
The dark chamber suddenly explodes with violence. Four more goblins, hidden in shadows in unseen side chambers, screech a war-cry and fire their crossbows in a surprise round. Their bolts flick off the protective stone pillars and the party’s armour. Alerted, the goblins chipping at the wall and their hulking overlord pull weapons and turn to face the intruders.
Elroy Wick resonates the walls with an enjoyable song of courage (Perform : Sing = 19), valued at 1d10 silver. Their courage inspired and their inspiration boosted, the party follows Wick’s song into battle. They rush the goblins in the middle.
Magnus goes for the leader, a Bugbear clad in thick full-plate armour, with a steel shield and a wicked-sharp battle-axe. The best of both sides engage an epic tilt. Magnus hits, the Bugbear replies. Magnus Critically Misses, and the Bugbear’s Attack of Opportunity (with a Natural 1 confirmed by another Natural 1) is an embarrassing display. The Fighter’s blows sometimes glance off the Bugbear’s impressive armour, other times find a weak spot. The Bugbear piles wounds onto Magnus.
Goa Finnbjorn proves her insights and situational awareness second to none. Taking advantage of her tactical superiority and deft mobility, the Halfling antagonizes the enemy forces. Over the course of the fight she kills one goblin and wounds three others.
Øskur Røgnvaldurarsøn opens the fight by effortlessly slaying a goblin in the melee ranks. Then the Druidbarian drops one more moments later. He effectively prevents the enemy side from flanking Corun Dum’man or Magnus.
Wizard Corun Dum’man leads with his strength – magic. Scorching Ray, then bolts from his Wand of Lesser Orb of Sound, both hit their mark. After two unsuccessful Rays of Venya, the frustrated Wizard abandons ranged combat to advance into melee. That was unwise. A goblin archer pulls a blade and badly wounds Corun.
Elroy Wick goes on offense, slashing a goblin in the center ranks. Soon he is needed elsewhere. Magnus has taken almost as many wounds as his Bugbear nemesis. Øskur is hurt but can heal himself between attacks. And Corun Dum’man is a bloodied mess. The Bard hurries to aid his friends. The Wizard receives two Cure Moderate Wounds spells and a Cure Light Wounds, bringing him back from the brink of death. Magnus gets a welcome Cure Moderate Wounds.
His friends stabilized, Wick pulls daggers and throws them. He hits a goblin archer twice: with “Fish Knife” and again with “Soup Spoon”. Wick flings dagger “Archer Hater” but it misses.
After a brash surprise round to open the fight and some early losses, the goblins and their Bugbear leader fight more to wound than to win. The Bugbear battles the Human Fighter with some sense that he can prevail, but the six goblins who survived the first rounds of combat fight are in disarray. As fast as they can claw back the string, goblins litter the air with tiny, irritating crossbow bolts, pelting half the party for damage every round. Those minions with short-swords prove more a nuisance than a serious threat.
The goblins’ discipline breaks when Magnus kills the Bugbear leader. Half the goblins were dead by this time, and Magnus kills two more as the fight becomes a rout. One tries to escape but Corun Dum’man topples it with a paltry Ray of Frost. The last goblin weaves between the chamber’s stone columns and escapes to the surface. None try to chase it.
Not silence, but an exhausted quiet, returns to the stone chamber. Elroy Wick doles out healing, particularly to Magnus and Corun Dum’man. Øskur Røgnvaldurarsøn and Goa retrieve their hooded lanterns and expose as much light as possible. Their sweep of the entire chamber finds no more threats.
The bodies of the dead are relieved of valuables. A surprisingly good haul: 200 gold pieces and 40 silver, and a dozen gems of the generic variety. Corun Dum’man casts Detect Magic and is nearly blinded by the glow of all the enchantments.
The goblins carried +1 short swords. Small-sized and useful only as daggers to the disinterested Medium-sized party members, they are treasures to Goa. The Halfling takes the two best blades of the lot. One she names “Slice”, the other “Dice”. There is a heavy steel shield, and the Bugbear’s +1 battleaxe. Magnus is very interested in the Bugbear’s armor, as it is steel +1 Full Plate.
The most unusual treasures were already in this mysterious temple, in wide alcoves to the left and the right of the goblins’ work site. In one alcove, a suit of armor stands at attention, propped up for centuries, staring off into the dark. It is Full Plate, bronze, forged in the blocky, angular style of old Dwarven craft. With it, a heavy bronze shield. Opposite the shield, a bronze warhammer. It is all infused with strong magic.
In the other alcove, another suit of bronze Full Plate, but forged by a different style. This armor is gracefully curved, almost elegantly so. Beside it, standing almost as tall, is a bronze greatsword. These, too, are treasures of considerable magic. Where the artifacts in the other alcove resonate order and law, these items radiate goodness and positive energy.
The party bundles up this gear and that of their vanquished foes. The party needs to rest and heal, but this eerie temple is no place to do so. There is still one matter to investigate – the patch of wall damaged by the goblins glows with a magical aura. It will have to wait until tomorrow.
Daylight is fading when the party emerges onto the river bank. Fresh prints indicate the route of the goblin’s escape. In its haste or panic the fleeing creature did not notice the rope across the swift river. Carefully the party crosses the water, finds their horses and establishes a camp.
Quiet night in the forest. Morning comes. The party feels better. Crossing the rope over the river, once again Elroy Wick and Goa Finnbjorn fall into the river. Fortunately, when the Bard and Rogue come ashore, they happen upon familiar faces – Druid Yorgenson Uberson and Warmage Armst ! These long-absent friends were in the area trying to find the party.
The group reunites at the archway. There are no new tracks in the dry brown soil. Armst and Uberson are brought up to speed on what they have missed, as Goa leads back down into the darkness.
They return to where the goblins had been fervently attacking the wall. On closer inspection with better light, the party sees the outlines of a doorway around the chipped stone patches. Elroy Wick examines the seams of this door (Search = 19) but comes up empty; he can’t find any hidden latches or pressure plates. In every language they know, the group says the word “Friend”. The cliché does not pay off.
Magnus and Corun Dum’man keep an eye on the passageway leading back to the outside world, while Halfling Goa takes an hour (Taking 20 for Search for a total Skill Check of 31) to examine every square inch. She guesses the door is actually a stone slab, lowered in place from above during construction. That is all she can tell.
Pressing an ear to the slab, Elroy Wick (Listen = 28) is surprised to hear an extremely faint sound. Corun Dum’man, studying this chamber (Knowledge : Dungeoneering = 25), concludes that this is probably a tomb or a crypt. What Wick hears beyond the magic-infused doorway might be Undead. As a precaution, the Wizard casts Mage Armour on himself.
The group safely assumes there is a hallway behind this door. Druidbarian Øskur casts Stone Shape and bores a two-foot-diameter tunnel on an angle through the wall, bypassing the immovable stone slab.
When Røgnvaldurarsøn is finished, Wick casts Light on a new dagger, “Bugbear-Necessity”, and throws it through the hole into pitch darkness. The radiant weapon clatters to the floor of a passageway, shining bright. Corun Dum’man casts Light of Venya on himself, adding to the glow.
Almost immediately the light from Elroy’s dagger is blotted out. Puzzled, the party recoils in horror as some disgusting, gelatinous material begins to ooze from the narrow tunnel. The leading curve of the ooze molds into a humanoid face as the mass extrudes from the hole. The party draws weapons and hack at the creature. A Ray of Venya from the Wizard kills it.
Reluctantly, the party uses its weapons to pull the gooey corpse from the hole. The first thought was that this might be a dreaded Gelatinous Cube. Corun and Elroy (Knowledge : The Planes = 19, 23) identify it instead as a Lemure, a mindless evil Outsider, often the minion of a Devil.
Moving as close to the portal as he dares, Wizard Corun casts Clairvoyance. He locates the sensor-orb in the corridor behind the stone door. Corun relates to the others what the spell shows him.
By the light of Wick’s dagger, Corun sees a hallway. The walls and floor are stone. The corridor ends at a T-intersection. Corun cannot see around the corners, but he spots six more Lemures in the passageway. Their droopy humanoid faces are turned toward the light and the slim tunnel to the outside world. Slowly, as a group, the creatures are inching this way.
Viewing back towards the stone slab, Corun sees it is covered in magical symbols. These Corun (Spellcraft = 21) identifies as a modified Protection From Evil spell, acting as a planar binding effect.
This discovery creates anxiety. Lemures are primitive Outsiders, unable to cross Planes on their own. From Corun’s description of the planar binding, Wick thinks it very unlikely that the magic was meant to keep the Lemures in there. The Wizard agrees. The Lemures must have been summoned by a Devil which, itself, had been bound to that chamber. And is still in there. Possibly hiding just around the corner and waiting to kill them, or escape, or both.
Armst and Uberson suggest dispatching the Lemures as they squeeze out of the hole, but there seems little point in that. Fearing unleashing some serious extraplanar evil, Øskur and Elroy Wick want to seal up the bore-hole and leave well-enough alone. At least, until they know what they’re up against in there.
Druidbarian Øskur uses another Stone Shape spell to repair the wall. Thoroughly unsettled, the party wants out of here. When they are back outside in the warm, sunlit forest, they feel a bit better. The group scavenges the woods for loose brush to hide the entrance.
The party gathers their horses and resumes the road. They are quiet, preoccupied with thoughts on what evil they almost encountered and why it was sealed in there. Their spirits are raised when they see the city of Tannis. It is nice to get back to civilization.
The party is barely noticed as they pass the main gates. They immediately seek out Lieutenant Richard. The House of Davis officer is pleased to see them. He offers refreshments and sits to hear Elroy Wick narrate a compelling tale of the party’s encounters since departing on their assignment. The Bard begins with the ride along the route of the ambushed Orcs’ retreat, the discovery of the rendezvous camp, the road north from the mountain pass that likely leads to the Orcs’ home base, the Grimlocks and the carnage at the Orc camp, and the underground tomb.
Lieutenant Richard is impressed. He accepts the party’s report as a successful conclusion to their mission, all objectives met. He will pass the information on to his superiors, and contact the party soon for further assignments.
Dismissed from his tent, the party goes to the magic shop. The sum of gold taken off the goblins and Bugbear pays for Identifying all the treasure found in the crypt. The angular armor is +2 Bronze Full-Plate, Damage Reduction 5/chaotic. The curved armor is +2 Bronze Full-Plate, Damage Reduction 5/evil. The Bugbear’s steel Full Plate is +1 quality, same as the heavy steel shield. The angular shield is a +2 Bronze Shield of Arrow Deflection; the Bronze warhammer is a +3 Axiomatic weapon. Much to the group’s surprise, the Bronze greatsword is a +3 Holy weapon.
Decisions must be made on what to sell and what to keep. The party needs to relax and unwind first. Thoughts return to the mysterious crypt by the river. The party needs to hit up someone in town, or perhaps use a Sending spell to contact Gold Mountain, and find out some history.
(end of the session)