In Which Many Undead Creatures are Destroyed, and the Mysterious Forces of “Alignment” Threaten the Party in New and Exciting Ways…
Earthday, 17 Sunsebb CY 595 (continued)
The Marquis continues, “You appear to have had quite a journey getting down here.” The party pretends not to notice or care that they are filthy and covered with blood, but the Marquis prestidigitates the mess from them anyway with an elegant, “If I may?”
Tyrrell nods to the chess game in progress. “Who’s winning?”
“I have yet to lose to my friend here,” the Marquis answers. “This is merely an exercise in new maneuvers.” Archie asks after the stakes but the Marquis replies that they are merely killing time. “’Til we move on,” he notes.
Archie asks, “To…?”
“Places above,” the Marquis says. He speaks a few words in the Infernal tongue (he finds it ‘more precise’), which only Riddle and Tyrrell understand. He notes the hue of Riddle’s skin, pale despite the fact that he lives on the surface.
Tyrrell tells him the sun is their friend, but the Marquis has no qualms with the sun. In fact, he seeks the surface.
Riddle cuts through the conversation by bluntly informing the Marquis that he believes the Marquis has something of the party’s. “We have never met, have we? How is this possible?” Riddle looks for a response, knowing through his spell that the object in question is still on the Marquis’ person. “You are here seeking something from me?” the Marquis asks.
Tyrrell further clarifies, “We’re seeking something, and you happen to be the person who has it.”
The Marquis seeks news of the surface and a way out. Riddle asks if he is willing to trade, information and an exit strategy for the crystal key. “I may be,” the Marquis says, but only if the party has anything of interest to him. He knows very little of the surface world and especially desires news of cataclysmic events such as the resurgence of horrible monstrosities. “They presage and portend a time to come that interests me and my friends. Do you know that we live in a time of prophecy?” he asks. “Come now, we should not treat each other like enemies.” He instructs the horde of drow zombies to move back.
Riddle continues to push the negotiations to trade the seal for information, including revealing that an ulgurstasa has recently been raised and released in Greyhawk, but soon enough the Marquis is able to surmise that the party has cleared the tombs above and opened a means of egress for himself and his friends. Riddle casts a spell to bind the Marquis to the Material Plane and a battle ensues. The mohrgs immediately cross the river towards their closest target, Tyrrell, who arms himself with his undead bane crossbow bolts. Scar-Eater heads for the Marquis while zombies flood towards the party. Jane flies to Tyrrell’s position and unleashes a snake of fire through a mass of zombies and the mohrgs. Archie peppers the mohrgs with arrows as Riddle sweeps in to enhance Scar-Eater’s flail with disruption.
Tyrrell takes advantage of the ranger’s distracting attack to deliver a deathblow on one of the mohrgs, but the other one responds with a harsh tongue attack, leaving the rogue vulnerable and paralyzed at the skeleton’s feet. Long Fist, under a spell protecting him from evil, floats to the ground and gets into the action with a burst of positive energy, cutting through zombies left and right. The Marquis dispels Riddle’s flying enchantment, but Scar-Eater soars over the Marquis’ head and thunks him, only to face the disappointment that this particular creature is too powerful to be disrupted by Riddle’s spell. The remaining zombies swarm Scar-Eater and Riddle but are more of a nuisance than an actual threat.
Jane finishes calling lightning but delves into her reserves to also stone shape the paralyzed Tyrrell into a safe shell so she can shift back into her eagle form and fly across the river to a more strategic position. Archie makes an attempt to take out the ghoul light lantern but his arrows fail to damage it, so he returns to pelting the remaining mohrg with fiery death. Riddle, surrounded by foes, tries to shuffle them off with lightning, and while several are badly scorched, none of them drop. Long Fist continues flooding the battlefield with positive energy and sending zombies back to the grave. With a vile grin, the Marquis curses Scar-Eater, who spends the remainder of the fight unable to act. Jane blasts the remaining mohrg with lightning as Archie takes over the attack on the Marquis, and the zombies continue their harmless attacks on Scar-Eater and Riddle (who manages to turn off the ghoul lantern and carry it away).
Long Fist shifts his position again to vaporize all of the remaining zombies and the troublesome mohrg. Though the Marquis escapes the worst of the blast, the positive energy reveals the first glimpse of his true bestial nature, leaving him growling and snarling at the party. He dispels Archie’s flying spell and sends the ranger into the water below, though he manages to avoid being swept away. Archie crawls to the bank as Jane dispels the shimmering field of energy surrounding the Marquis and Riddle blasts the ghoul with a column of fire and radiance.
Long Fist, now able to confront the ghoul directly, steps up and smites the beast with his powerful fists. The Marquis responds with a bolt of lightning directly to the half-ogre’s face. Jane casts snake’s swiftness on Long Fist so he may deliver another smiting blow, destroying the ghoul and unleashing its nasty inner spirit. With a soul-rending scream, the body collapses, its chest rips open, and sickly green ghost form of the Marquis rises…only to be immediately shredded by five arrows from the bow of the undead-hating Archie.
The party collects the Marquis’ loot, including an enchanted cloak, a magical greatsword, a ring of protection, the lantern, and, most importantly, the key to Icosiol’s tomb. He divines the secret to using the key: ”Speak the password to transport the seal. Present the seal before the door. Place the seal in the pillar. And return the seal to Icosiol.”
Out of curiosity, Jane tears the skin from the flesh of the Marquis to create another treasure map.
Godsday, 18 Sunsebb CY 595
With Archie’s new cloak, he and Athena can fly up to the secret door while Riddle dimension doors the rest of the party to the same spot. There is a great deal of searching and climbing, but the party grows increasingly concerned that the area they are traversing does not seem scaled to Wind Dukes. Eventually all the climbing leads to a smooth stone wall and most of the party is really starting to hate this place. However, Tyrrell manages to find a secret door and a trip lever.
Through the door is a 15-foot-deep, 30-foot-wide room of finished stonework. 50-foot-tall doors stand impressively at the opposite end, carved with innumerable runes, with no visible handles or hinges. Riddle is able to interpret most of the runes as a complicated series of curses against Chaos, with this warning most prominent: ”Dare not enter the tomb of Icosiol, Lord of Aaqa, Wandering Duke, and Bearer of the Rod of Law. His righteous peace and glorious memory are best left to the ages, and his enemies are best left forever sleeping.”
Tyrrell attempts to search the doors for traps, but as he crosses the threshold of the room, he feels an intense antipathy invade his mind and a heavy weight slow his physical movement. Riddle notes that generals of the forces of Law were often buried with their enemies, or relics of their enemies, in order to harness their power for the protection of burial sites.
None of the others who enter the room (Scar-Eater stays behind with Tyrrell) feel the same antipathy or force. Riddle removes the seal from his pouch and four blue scimitar-wielding elementals tear a whole through the fabric of space to enter the room. The party fights, but it’s only seconds before one of the elementals summons a stone wall to separate Riddle and three of the djinn from the rest of the party. Archie and Long Fist dispatch the remaining djinn on their side as Riddle teleports himself back to the group. The wall doesn’t seem to have the slightest hindering effect on the djinn, so they group suspects it is an illusion. Riddle dismisses another enemy just after Scar-Eater walks through the wall, which Jane then dispels with haste. The party quickly eliminates the remaining djinni.
Riddle approaches the doors and utters the passwords, “ Pesh, Aaqa, Icosiol.” He presents the seal to the doors. Despite a jolt of energy he is able to raise the seal above his head, and there is a long pause before they hear the distant sound of hundreds of gears falling into place and the doors open in front of Riddle.
The room beyond is a vast open space, with seven stone columns, each slightly taller than the next, rising slowly from the entrance to a small platform at the far end of the room before a second set of enormous doors. No floor is visible – in its place is a pit filled at a depth of eighty feet with glowing blue fog. Swirling patterns of wind and lightning dance and howl along the walls and ceiling of the chamber, filling the room with a tumultuous roar. Each of the seven columns appears slightly different. The closest column’s top is level with the ground in the entrance room. The next column is two feet higher. The third rises all the way up to the ceiling fifty feet above. The fourth is three feet higher than the second one, but rotates slowly in place. The fifth column’s upper surface seems to be covered with a thick layer of what looks like tar, and is about one foot higher than the last. The sixth column is two feet higher than the previous one but is made of a lighter colored stone. A larger column, nearly twice the diameter of the others, stands to the left of the main row. Jane spots some sort of indentation in the center of its top.
Riddle flies and dimension hops his way to just above the largest pillar and places the seal in the indentation. The entire pillar starts rising towards the ceiling. Riddle leaves the seal in place and dimension hops back to the party. The column rises to the ceiling and then goes back down. Riddle returns, removes and replaces the seal, and when the pillar starts rising again, he teleports away with the seal in hand. The instant he disapparates from the top of the rising column, it stops in place.
Through a combination of spells and effects, the entire party flies into the chamber, planning to crowd onto the top of the platform with the seal in place to see if that will allow them all to gain entrance to Icosiol’s tomb, but as soon as they enter the room, all hell breaks loose. As usual. Until next time…