Durego fingers his holy symbol nervously, and mutters, "Be wary, disturbed bones may mean undead nearby." The priest takes position in the northern branch of the passage as Mordikarr and Raúguey push west, past three empty alcoves.
"There's another door up here on the south side," says Raúguey, "and... an altar? Then a turn north."
"I think I see a statue in the north corner, beyond the fork," says Durego. "Don't get too separated!" He edges forward, peers down the western fork, and sees a figure looming out of the shadows! "Ware! There's something here!" He backs up a pace, blocking Maro's advance.
"What is it!?" cries the elf.
"It's a..." the cleric blushes, "another statue."
Maro slides past Durego into the west passage and calls out, "Raúguey and Mordikarr, I can see your lights, looks like that corridor loops around."
A few seconds later Mordikarr pokes his head around the far corner. "It does." The wild man shrugs and continues north, past another tumbled-over casket. "Big circle, or two big circles." He walks north to another corner, calls out "Door in little room here," and turns back east again. Another casket, an empty niche, and a statue in a corner chamber.
"Don't touch anything," warns Durego. "Grave goods are sometimes cursed."
"It looks like someone has beaten us to the punch anyhow," says Locky, stooping over the bones spilling from one of the coffins. "Nothing here but bones and rotten cloth."
"Something come here," says Mordikarr. "Marks in dust, but old. Maybe doors in here go someplace good."
"I don't hear anything here," says Ingvild from the southern door. "I don't see any traps either. Let me check the other door out, then we can decide what to do." This is quickly accomplished, with similar results. While the thief works, the others poke around the chamber without disturbing anything, but find nothing of value. It's clear this place was looted long ago.
The whole crypt is about 50x50 feet, arranged as a squared off figure-eight. Niches and alcoves line each wall, and there are four caskets, three wood, one stone, all split, open, or tossed over, in the area. The stone casket was raised on a marble dais. It looks like there was some sort of plaque set into the base, but it's been removed by force, the remaining brass studs hacked by an axe from the look of it.
In the SW corner there is a small altar, a rectangular table with the verdigrised bronze statue of a four-armed cowled figure bearing scepter, sword, bowl, and rod, on a raised dais of gray stone. Neither cleric has seen anything like it.
In the NE corner there is a four-foot tall wooded statue of a man mounted on a marble base. Decay and rot make it difficult to make out features, but he appears to be wearing armor and either an ornate helm or a crown. He stands with one broken-off arm raised, perhaps holding something or raised in salute.
In the center of the figure-eight is a 15x15 space with another, larger statue. This one is gray stone (the same as the altar dais), seven feet high, and depicts a warrior holding a two-handed sword. The weapon is bronze, and it looks like whoever took the plaque from the marble base also tried to take the sword. It has been hacked and cut by something.
There are iron doors in the W end of the S wall, and in the W wall in a small chamber at the N end.
Back to the Action
"I think we should go back and check out the other doors in the second hall near the stairs. I'd hate to get cut off... Raúguey!" Locky's speech is cut off as the big guy slams his shoulder into the northern door!
"What? We said we were going to check things out to the north!"
Durego mutters something under his breath that sounds distinctly like, "Hasty fool," and Mordikarr just grins and gives Suren a scratch behind the ears. The fisher has been very quiet the whole time the group has been underground.
"Well it's open now, may as well look," says Ohwatoo, gesturing for Raúguey and the rest of the front rank to proceed.
The door opens into another five-foot wide corridor, that turns north, then east, then north again, ending in a narrow flight of stairs that lead down into a pool of water. Beyond there's a short corridor that dead ends, with a door to the east just visible in the dim light. "Guess that goes back into the first big hall?" asks Raúguey.
"It would appear so, judging by the map. I'd suggest we not open that door though. Whatever was moving around there might be waiting in ambush."
The others agree and everyone turns their attention to the southern door, which also gives way to Raúguey's shoulder. Beyond is a short corridor, another door, this one ajar, and then stairs, lots of stairs, leading down. "How big is this place?" asks Locky.
"Big. Really big," answers Dagmarten. "Let's leave this for now and go back to the second hall. Check out the remaining doors there. Then we can decide what to do next."
Everyone agrees, and troops back to the second hall. The west door opens into a short dead-end corridor, the far end choked with debris and rubble. The two south doors both open into a single long chamber, 15x40, with another door in the E end. A crevice in the S wall makes for unsafe footing, and a circle of stones marks an old, old fire ring. The eastern door in this room is ajar, and opens into a 15x15 room, stripped bare.
Rawon peers into the crevice, "Hey, it looks like this goes pretty far down. At least twenty feet, and... I think there's flagstones down there!"
|The Explored First Level|
After a quick meal, along with some grumbling from Durego about not using the kettle, the group spends some time searching the two small dead ends, the 15x15 room and the rubble-filled alcove. The empty room is just that, an empty room. Aside from scrape marks on the floor that show where something heavy must have been dragged back and forth long ago, there's nothing. Exploration of the alcove is brief. It looks like a caved-in passage, and the big stones of rubble-pile are well-planted in muddy soil. Wherever this passage once went, it seems unlikely that the group will get there from here.
While the others search the two side-rooms, Rawon and Maro try to see more down the crevice. From what they can see, there *is* a floor down there, a narrow space from the look of it. They can make out little else without light.
Ingvild joins them with a twist of oil-soaked cloth in hand. "Let's see what we can see," he says, striking a spark to the rag and dropping it down the hole. The oil flares up, quickly consuming the rag, but not before it illuminates a narrow north-south passage.
"Did you see that?" asks Maro as the flame dies away.
Rawon nods. "The dust was disturbed, as if the corridor was used recently."
The group reforms and shares what they've found, then spends another half-hour carefully examining the tomb area, poking and prodding walls, peering into crevices, and examining the scattered bones and caskets. Ohwatoo spends the time sketching the altar and warrior statue, the other figure being too decayed to prove useful. Raúguey takes the lead on corpse-looting, and his efforts are rewarded. He finds three gold buckles on a rotted leather belt [maybe 20-25 GP each]. Aside from that, there is nothing else of apparent value or interest in this area. The party goes back to the second hall to weigh options.
"Well I guess we're about done here. Stairs or crevice?"
"Stairs!" says Durego. I'm not trusting a rope as our sole escape route. Besides the two probably connect up somewhere below... Rawon, what are you doing?"
The elf pulls his breeches shut and steps back from the crevice. "Just leaving a mark we can find later," he says with a sly smile. "Just... watch your step down there."
On that note the party heads back to the stair, forms ranks and descends. The narrow stair goes S, then E, dropping at least 20 feet before ending in the W wall of a N-S passage, 10 feet wide, and 30+ feet long, with doors at either end. The passage walls are mortared stone, and the floors are broad flagstones, thick, heavy, and damp. As Ingvild examines the south door, Maro cocks his head and studies the W wall near it. "There's something here," he whispers, pushing past Mordikarr. "Let me look." He runs his hands along the stone wall, floor to ceiling, ceiling to floor. "Aha!" He slides a small stone left. There is a faint click, followed by a grinding noise, then a section of wall shifts inward! Maro pushes the panel gently and it swings open, revealing a narrow passage running W, apparently cut through the native rock.
"No traps I can see on the south door, which way?" whispers Ingvild.
Durego looks at the narrow passage, dusty, and clearly unused. "We should pull that closed and check the obvious rooms first. They're more likely to contain an active threat."
Maro shrugs and tugs the stone panel, using a crack in the mortar as a handle. It closes with a gentle click, and the elf points out the lock mechanism so everyone can see it. Then the party heads south through the unlocked door.
The room beyond is T-shaped, roughly 30x30 feet, the door leading into the top of the T. "What the... Durego, what is that?" asks Raúguey as he moves into the room and W to where another door leads out of the base of the T.
The cleric studies the circle marked on the floor with some black substance, a five-pointed star within. 11 polished stone pillars are line two-thirds the circle's perimeter, each bearing a smeared symbol drawn in the same black substance. "I'm not sure. Ohwatoo?"
The mage moves forward, careful to stay well back from the circle's edge. "Don't touch that!" he snaps at Locky, who hastily draws his hand back from the nearest pillar. "No one touch the pillars or circle, and stay back from the edges. It's a summoning circle of some kind."
"Wouldn't you need to perform a ritual to summon something?" asks Dagmarten.
"Yes, but perhaps someone did that, and didn't release whatever they called. It could be sitting in there right now, invisible, watching us!"
"I got a bad feeling about this," mutters Durego.
"We should be fine as long as we don't touch anything. I suggest we press on, and close the doors as we go to reduce the chance of anything wandering in and accidentally disturbing this."
"Pressing on then!" says Raúguey, not really understanding the problem, but happy to open another door. The W door opens into a short 10x20 foot corridor ending in another door. The party presses forward and opens this one too, revealing a larger space.
There's a faint odor in this area, and Mordikarr says, "Creature in here some time. Don't know what." He studies the floor, "Walk back and forth many times to those doors." He points to the W and N paired double-doors. "And rock thing too," he adds, pointing to the statue.
"Shh," hisses Ingvild, stooped near the N doors. He listens carefully as the others fall silent. Finally he turns to the group and whispers, "I hear something beyond these, too faint to say what though."
"I don't hear anything here," says Rawon, from the W doors.
"What now?" asks Locky in a quiet voice.
For future reference, the kettle does not require a heat source. It self-cooks.
The symbols on the pillars are some sort of Logogram, but Ohwatoo can see portions of the complex symbols resemble markings used in ancient written Deleric, the tongue of demonic creatures.