Return to the Tomb of Horrors

Facing Acererak

The Sidmouth Slayers waited for their comatose members to stir. After an hour of supine slumber, all were recovered, and the party pressed on. They followed a secret stair down into a narrow crawlspace and emerged into a corridor that ended with a metal wall that featured three small slots arranged one above the other.

Some experimentation led to three blades being inserted into the slots, and the metal screen slid aside revealing a great pillared hall.

The party entered. Bacon was first. He felt a southerly breeze. He investigated one of the stone pillars, and immediately drifted up into the air, to be carried by the breeze towards a great green face high on the wall to the north (like unto the face of the fiend near the dungeon entrance). Kito activated his flying boots and intercepted the halfling, then attached himself with a rope.

The hall featured three doorways to the north, a raised dias with an ebony throne to the south, and in the far southeast corner a glowing gem in the midst of charred ruination.

The northern doors each glowed with a coloured light. The first one that the party opened revealed a small room with a mummy lying on a bench. Various divinations revealed nothing, so the party entered in order to search the materials and perhaps recover the very large amethyst from the mummy wrappings. This, however, caused the spell that held the mummy in stasis to end, and the undead creature attacked. It could only injure Kito before it was destroyed, and Kito’s divine protection preventing him succumbing to the feared curse of the mummy.

The second door opened revealed another small room, empty save for dust. The third led to a chamber full of swords and shields mounted on the wall, with another door opposite. These armaments animated to prevent further passage. Whenever an adventurer crossed the threshold, another set of weapons joined the fray. It was a frustrating battle, but eventually every sword and shield lay broken on the floor. Beyond, a miserable chamber held dust, bones, and a magic flail left by some long-ago victim of the tomb who had become trapped here.

No further exits being apparent to the north, the party turned to investigate the throne and the glowing gem. Bacon’s conjured unseen servant could safely manipulate the gem, but when Kito sensed for evil he was almost overwhelmed. This was the strongest evil aura he had ever encountered! The party resolved to leave the gemstone alone.

Upon the throne there was a crown of gold, and a sceptre of electrum. The throne featured a silver inlay in the shape of a crown. Bacon put the crown on his head, and sat upon the throne. Apart from feeling very regal, Bacon also immediately knew that he could not be levitated by the columns whilst he wore the crown (although that magic had now expired and he was released from Kito’s rope); and that the crown could not be removed save by the use of the sceptre. Bacon also saw the throne room as if by the light of the bright summer sun. The throne could be moved, but nobody could learn how. Bacon touched the sceptre’s end to the golden crown – but chose the wrong end of the sceptre to use . The potent cursed items utterly destroyed him. Nothing remained but ash. The crown and sceptre lay once more upon the throne.

Bacon’s shocked companions gathered his things and the ash that constituted his mortal remains. The “door” into the throne room was gone, only a featureless wall in its place. To proceed, the party must either teleport out, risking demonic attack again, or work out how to get the throne to move.

Michonne put on the crown, sat upon the throne, and touched the sceptre to the silver crown upon the throne. She chose the right end of the sceptre, and the throne sank into the ground, opening up another passageway. Michonne also correctly used the sceptre to remove the golden crown from her head.

The room that the Sidmouth Slayers now entered was built of many precious and rare materials. A stairway led up to a pair of mithril portals. Upon the stair was a large brass key. The portals were featureless save for a hemispherical indentation, and a small hole in the centre of the indentation. Kito led the way. He tried to pick up the brass key, but could not. He became convinced that doing so would cause a great calamity. Shortly however, simply took the item from the floor. Now, try a key or use the sceptre upon the mithril doors?

The party made the right choice, and the doors swung silently open. Beyond them lay a crypt, and in the crypt a granite sarcophagus that bore the name “ACERERAK.”

A thorough search of the crypt found a hidden button on one of four demonic iron sculptures. Pushing the button with a long wooden pole caused the sculpture to glide to one side, revealing another passageway beneath. Kito opened the sarcophagus to be certain that it did not conceal an evil undead. It held only dust, bones, and a broken staff. He sealed it up again.

The party did not wish to proceed any further without a trapfinder. They elected to teleport out, choosing for their destination the ground outside the city of Kalstrand. As before, a demon came with them. This one was much stronger than the one that followed them to Skull City. A long battle ensued. Both Kito and Michonne came close to death at the demon’s hands as it grappled them in mighty pincers. Only dimension door spells from Shortly and Bearcloak rescued them. The party regrouped, and rushed the demon, finally destroying it.

Without the means to resurrect Bacon, the group recruited a replacement trap specialist- a third member of the Barrowburrower halfling family. And they returned to the tomb, via the means used previously.

Once back in the crypt, Barak Barrowburrower opened up two iron chests. One was filled to the brim with semi-precious stones, the other with platinum coins! Vast treasure! The merchant-priest Shortly was suspicious, and used the Gem of Seeing he had obtained from the Gargoyles. It showed him that the platinum was really copper, the gemstones only cheap quartz. A trick! Now, following the guidance in Desatysso’s Journal, the party descended into the hidden passage. As per the Journal, another secret door was found closeby. It opened only to the Gold Key.

Beyond, a small chamber empty save for a metal plate in the floor, and a keyhole in the plate. The Bronze Key opened this lock, and the whole floor rose upwards. Barak quickly jumped off before he could be crushed against the ceiling. Now, another mithril door barred the way. But this one had no keyhole, no indentations. It opened easily to a simple push.

This was the true tomb of Acererak the Eternal.

In a small chamber filled with dust, as well as gemstones and other treasures, a bejewelled skull sat atop a stone bier. Unwilling to await a fate similar to that of the band of adventurers that had come before them, the Sidmouth Slayers rushed in to attack. And the skull arose from its resting place and howled!

Acererak the demilich proved resistant to most attacks. It withstood blows from Michonne and Shortly with only minor damage. Barak could not harm it with weapons, but employed holy water to some effect. Only Kito, armed with the holy scimitar Marag and using the full power of his god Anubis, the Guardian of the Dead, could cause great harm to the demilich. Acererak defended himself with terrible force. Only Bearcloak’s magic saved Michonne from utter destruction. And Kito, after smiting Acererak with all his power, was consumed: his body mouldered to dust in an instant, his soul sucked into one of the gems in the unholy skull. Desperately, the remaining adventurers pressed their attack. When the demilich sank to the bier, quiescent, to fully devour Kito’s soul, it was momentarily vulnerable and that moment was all that was needed. Shortly’s magic hammer smashed the skull to pieces….

The survivors gathered Acererak’s treasures and their comrade’s remains. They found the second half of the Amulet of the Void, that Desatysso’s Journal spoke of. They left the Tomb via a series of phase doors, and rather than face the necromancers of the black academy they teleported back to Bearcloak’s barge, and sailed back to Kalstrand.

PC deaths: two.

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