The would-be lich slayers rested in the room where they destroyed the monstrous gargoyle. Nothing disturbed them as they rested, so the following morning they pressed onwards. The first set of doors led round in a circle, going nowhere. The next set of doors led into a featureless 10’ square room. But surely there must be a way on? As with much of Acererak’s tomb, there were secrets to be uncovered….
Bacon went to work, but was subjected to repeated arrow attacks from within the very walls. Shortly and Kito came to his aid, thinking to literally shield him from attack. After a fashion, this tactic worked. Whilst they could not block up the walls, they took a share of the attacks. In this way Bacon was given time to work, and uncovered one secret door after another. He led the party into another great hallway, and once free of the network of trapped chambers Shortly healed their wounds.
The new hallway featured walls painted with the images of varied monsters, each holding or standing atop a coloured disk. Three of the disks were found to be illusory, covering narrow crawl-ways. The party first tried the northenmost crawl-way. It led to a chamber with another gargoyle-creature. But this one remained inanimate, and in fact was missing one of its four arms which lay on the floor in front of it. The three intact arms each had an indentation in their open hands. The indentations fit the shape of the opal gems found with the animate gargoyle. Shortly decided to try placing those opals in the indentations. He put three of them into the gargoyle statue’s hands and immediately they were crushed into powder! The hands opened again. The party were aghast! What was Shortly thinking? He was supposed to be a greedy dwarf merchant-priest, why was he destroying treasure? But Shortly was convinced that there was some purpose to this, and placed three more opals. These were likewise destroyed, much to everyone else’s chagrin. Shortly was determined. He stubbornly continued with his plan and placed three more stones, which were also destroyed. At this, the rest of the party left. Shortly had clearly gone mad. With some reluctance, and still certain that there was some reason behind this room, Shortly followed them out.
The next crawlspace to be explored was a much longer tunnel. Both Kito and Shortly struggled through it on account of their bulky plate armour. The tunnel brought the party, via a hidden door, to a strange chapel. The walls of the place were decorated, not unlike the hallways. They featured pastoral scenes and a range of holy symbols. The symbols belonged to many gods of Good, yet all of the people in the paintings were clearly rotting, dead or undead. An altar glowed with a cool blue light. And a single skeleton lay on the floor, its outstretched arm pointing towards an archway filled with orange mist. A path of red mosaic tiles led from the secret entrance to the altar. Bacon tried the altar, to see what secrets it might hold. It blasted a wide bolt of lightning down the aisle. Fortunately the only adventurers in line of the bolt were Bacon and Michonne, both very quick on their feet, and they avoided harm. The altar now turned a fiery red. Rather than probe further, Michonne took the skeleton’s advice and passed through the misty archway. For a moment, she questioned her life’s path: all those years of training and sacrifice, were they really worth it? Both her mind and her body felt twisted and contorted. But she remembered her training well, the point of conditioning body, mind and spirit to achieve perfection! Beyond the archway was a small empty chamber. Her fellows called after her, was she alright? “Yes, I am fine.” She replied. Bacon followed her through the mist. He too questioned his life’s path, as both body and mind felt distorted. His brother had taken a quicker, easier route through life whilst Bacon dedicated himself to gaining admittance to the Fohlucan College. But Borus was dead now: his path might have been quicker, but it turned out to be much shorter also. Bacon knew that he had taken the right path. On other side Bacon and Michonne searched for hidden exits, but finding none they returned to the chapel. Bacon probed the altar again (with everyone else giving him a wide berth, and Shortly bestowing a fire resistance spell upon him). Sure enough, the altar exploded with fire, and then glowed blue as it had before. A little more experimentation showed that it went through a cycle of fire and lightning. Nothing was to be gained. Where next?
Bearcloak’s keen elven eyes saw something the others had missed. Upon a section of wall there was a small hole – a slot – and just above the slot was an inscribed ‘O’. Kito tried depositing a coin in the slot. He heard it fall, but nothing happened. Then the party remembered the rhyme they had found in the entrance hall. “If shades of red stand for blood the wise will not need sacrifice aught but a loop of magical metal—you’re well along your march.” Very reluctantly, and only after tying a thread around it, Shortly dropped a magic ring of swimming into the slot. Shortly tried immediately to pull the ring back out using the thread of fabric, but it came back without the ring: as stone ground against stone, and a section of wall lowered into the ground revealing a passageway beyond!
The passage led down a corridor that featured three doors. Behind each door was a pit trap. With clever use of an unseen servant spell, Bacon opened the doors whilst avoiding the pits. Beyond these traps, at the end of the long corridor, was a door with three locks. Bacon and Bearcloak between them determined that the door was covered by an invisible wall of force. Rather than use Bearcloak’s disintegrate spell to blast the wall of force, the party retraced their steps. In making his way back over the first pit, Kito saw a crudely hidden door in the bottom of the pit. Again the party recalled Acererak’s rhyme: “Two pits along the way will be found to lead to a fortuitous fall, so check the wall.” They opened the door. And found a stairway leading down.
Always careful to check the way ahead (after falling down a pit trap in the entrance to the tomb), Bacon found a secret door off the stair. The group decided to take this new hidden route. It led to a long-abandoned laboratory where everything necessary for mummification of the dead could be found, albeit in a state of decay. Three large vats held murky liquids, two of which smelled vinegary. A detect magic spell showed a magic aura within the second vat. A test with a wooden pole verified the acidic nature of the vat’s contents, so a protective spell was employed upon Bearcloak who fished around inside the vat and retrieved a golden device that appeared to be one half of a key! Where might the other half be? Fishing in the first vat found nothing. The third vat held not acid, but an enormous ooze! It grabbed Kito and crushed him. Meanwhile the rest of the group tried to give aid. Michonne sprang in to attack, but misjudged her swing. Others employed magic, and Bearcloak’s staff of fire proved its value again. Kito was badly injured, but was saved. Inside the third vat was the other half of the golden key!
The exit from the mummification lab led down stairs, over a long pit, to another chamber. This one held rotting furniture, funerary offerings and numerous coffers and trunks. Two drab, green-brown tapestries hung down from the ceiling. Stepping on the floor, Bacon found that it was suspended and unstable. But his balance was good and he kept his footing. Examining one of the hanging tapestries, Bacon discovered it was not what it seemed! The tapestry collapsed into a vast mass of green slime, completely covering Bacon! It was fortunate indeed that Bearcloak recognised the threat. “Get it off him! Burn it!” screamed the wizard. Bearcloak used his staff again to burn the slime away before it could dissolve the halfling. The second tapestry was similarly treated, being pulled down by an unseen servant and burned with flaming oil. The first tapestry had concealed an exit, and now the party ventured on.
A crossroads presented three choices (once the hidden pit was crossed). South led to a false door with a spear trap. East led to another pit, with a door beyond. The party passed the pit and the door and came to a chamber filled with gold-and-silver mist. Warily, some of the entered the mist. It affected Bearcloak badly. The wizard’s mind became that of an infant child. He was helpless. Shortly, who had not entered the mist, stayed outside and guarded the feebleminded elf. The rest pressed on through the mist and came to a small grotto, occupied by a fey sirine. Elspeth, the sirine, was quite taken with Bacon’s music and asked him to stay with her. He declined, but played some more for her upon his lute. Elspeth allowed Bacon to look inside one of her two sacks. When he did so, both Elspeth and the second bag disappeared. The sack that remained contained a pair of magic bracers. All left the grotto and rejoined Shortly and Bearcloak. What to do with the idiot wizard? Shortly’s spells did not help, but he thought that a heal spell might do the trick. That would have to wait till the next day though, so the group made camp as best they could in the cold stone corridor.
Their rest was soon interrupted. Two undead shadows came straight through the door. Only Kito at this point was asleep. Bacon began a load and raucous song so as to wake him! Mere shadows did not present a threat to such experienced adventurers and Shortly easily destroyed them with the power of his god, but the shadows were only scouts. They served a necromancer from the Academy, who flung open the door with his magic! He stood on the other side of the pit, ready to attack. Shortly gathered Kito and crossed to the necromancer using magic (both Kito and Shortly saw things during the instant that they dimension doored to the wizard). Kito struck out with Marag, his intelligent holy scimitar. “SMITE HIM!”
Marag grievously wounded the enemy wizard. Michonne leapt the pit easily and struck the wizard, but the wizard did not fall. He conjured a thick, acidic fog about himself, and vanished. The fog injured the adventurers and hampered their movement. They looked for the necromancer. Michonne saw something moving out of the pit and through the mist. Bacon summoned three dire wolves, and using more magic to speak with the animals he commanded them to seek out the enemy with their keen scent. They tracked the necromancer into the sirine’s grotto. Desperate, the enemy blasted the wolves and several of the party with a cone of cold spell, killing two wolves. He then sealed himself inside the grotto. Bacon thought to root him out and used a stone shape spell to open the grotto wall. But the necromancer was really gone this time. Rather than rest in the tomb again, the party decided to teleport to the surface. Now they realised the danger of such a plan: something followed them out the other side!
A battle ensued in the Skull City hovel where the party had teleported to, with a demonic toad-like creature. Marag again proved very effective: “SMITE IT!” Now the party could properly rest.
In the morning, Shortly again tried many spells in an effort to cure Bearcloak. None prevailed. Shortly tried a divination spell, to seek advice from his god. “The remedy lies but beyond the threshold.” was the cryptic response. What was the threshold? Kito decided to carry Bearcloak outside, and ask the market traders for remedies. But it turned out that the threshold was merely the doorway to the hovel. When Bearcloak breathed the air in the sunlight, his mind was restored. He was rather shocked to learn what had happened to him, and how much effort it had taken to try to restore him. The group decided to stay in their hovel another day so that they would return to the tomb at maximum strength.
Rather than risk pulling in another demon, Shortly teleported the group to the catacomb of the Academy, a short walk outside the tomb entrance. They retraced their steps. They had to go through the gauntlet of arrows again. Shortly decided to try the gargoyle statue again (everyone else rolled their eyes at him). The last opal gem was also crushed – and now the statue spoke! “Your sacrifice was not in vain. Look to the fourth to find your gain.” The fourth arm now held something, but it fell to the floor when Shortly moved the arm and he could not see it. He felt around on the floor, and located a small, invisible disk. He took his prize. A bit of experimentation suggested that this was a Gem of Seeing.
Before they went back to the strange chapel, the party tried the one hidden crawl-way they had not been down yet. It led to a room with three chests. Bacon set to business. Each chest held a sort of trap. The first summoned a bone golem. It caused a few wounds on the party before they destroyed it. The second contained a swarm of vipers. These bit several party members, and caused Bacon some harm with their venom, before being burned away with magical fire. The last chest contained a crystal box with a magic ring. Bacon discovered a trap that would go off if he moved this box, and avoided the trap with the old switcheroo trick. The box and the ring were added to the party’s treasures.
The party returned to the crossroads. This time they went north. A secret door hid a secret trapdoor, with a spiral stair leading down. The Sidmouth Slayers pressed on down the corridor first. They came to an airtight double door. Opening it released a gas, that knocked out both Kito and Michonne. Then, a stone juggernaut rolled down the passageway towards them! The rest of the party dragged Kito and Michonne out of the path of the juggernaut, but could not wake them up. Bacon summoned an elemental creature to try to burn the stone juggernaut, but instead the elemental Thoqqua got crushed.
The party retreated away from the juggernaut’s lair, and waited, hoping that their sleeping companions would soon awaken…….