Rappan Athuk

23 Firewane 947
Banth's Lair & the Wight Catacombs

Neep literally got carried away on the wings of his gargoyle pets, while Souka Yant watched in utter annoyance. The halfling would be useless, so she’d have to do everything herself again. Pulling up her britches, she lofted a door-opening spell she’d used before at the huge steel doors. Two full breaths of knocking and clicking ceased with a final thunk, and she declared the door open by her spell.

The party rushed through to get to the trapdoor before the floor started rising significantly. The last of them was descending the secret ladder before the floor had gone more than two feet. A month since they’d been here last, they were wary of new denizens, but none were to be found, save a pair of cave crawlers that nearly slew Souka Yant (if it hadn’t been for Kati) and claimed the life of Gosu the Well-Paid Ne’er-Gigolo Torchbearer.

Two hours of careful retracing of the upper levels and managing a great dirt slide put them outside the temple of Orcus they’d overturned. Barak had a mission to deposit a heavy leather-wrapped package into the lava. Distant thunder and an inexplicable darkening followed, which passed slowly.

Taking the only door out of the temple, they found stairs that wound down into the darkness. As they descended it got colder, enough that everyone could see their own breathing. Thankfully it was dry, but also there was a strange acrid and musty smell that reminded vaguely of the aromas coming from Ulman Dark’s abode. The room they found themselves in seemed to be large and full of stone coffins going on into the darkness.

Keeli aimed her evil detection spell in an arc around the room and spotted three evil sources. She alerted the party to them, and the whole lot jumped as coffin lids were thrown aside and wild howls echoed suddenly throughout the hall. Evil humanoid creatures that looked bereft of skin and having long black claws rushed toward them, seeking to scratch icy fingers across human flesh. When they succeeded the effect was awful. Boiling lesions appeared at wound sites. Worse, the creatures’ seeming conduit with realms of decay caused the affected to lose parts of themselves forever.

The undead did not die easily, and Souka Yant summoned her mightiest magic missile yet at great personal cost of the little life force she had. Four of them exploded in cold gibbets, mostly at range, though Aminatu got a face-full of undead. These horrific creatures seemed to keep no treasure, and finding no secret doors, in the room, the party egressed.

Keeli found it immediately apparent on the south wall outside the chamber of coffins, a steel door camouflaged to seem like the surrounding stone. It wasn’t trapped, so she wasn’t sure why her spell was informing her of the secret door’s presence. The spell gave no hint how the door opened, though…

Delve 16

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19 Firewane to 23 Firewane 947
Mausoleum
Weather

19 Firewane 77F, no wind, cloudy, drizzle
20 Firewane 78F, light wind, cloudy
21 Firewane 73F, moderate breeze, few clouds
22 Firewane 74F, clear, gentle breeze
23 Firewane 73F, clear, fresh gale (30mph)

Story

A month passed since they last ventured away from town. Recovery of health and the need to cash in on their plundering of the Upper Temple took them away from returning to Rappan Athuk.

But of course, return they did when the time was right. The adventure started quietly, no wind at all and a light drizzle that didn’t let up for a day. The overland journey was quiet too until they reached the Sinnar Ocean. Not far from where they’d seen ocean-faring brigands in the past, they detected the presence of ne’er-do-wells by their cooking smells. Badda Gruk sneaked through the tall grass to get the drop on them, but they didn’t seem to have much worth taking, and they noticed her first.

The party decided to leave this lot alone after the neutral encounter, but the next dawn that group and a half dozen others tried to surround the party while they slept. Neep was on guard and sharp as could be when he saw grasses moving unnaturally in the predawn light. He tried casting a spell while Kati woke the party, but it failed to go off. However, the party’s preparedness and apparent ability to weave magic caused half the attackers to back away immediately. The rest fled after Kati clove two into four and the rest of the band started getting their gamefaces on.

The rest of the journey to Rappan Athuk’s mausoleum was uneventful. As they turned inland to make for the sunken graveyard, they reviewed their known options with their newfound allies Hank, Wesley, and Rupert. A massive statue of a dwarf stood in the center, a plaque at its feet. Several ratholes burrowed into the earth among hundreds of gravestones that hung together in clumps. The smaller east and west mausoleums were still open, having been broken into some months back. The main southern one though was back in its complete and pristine condition: 8 green gargoyles and massive steel double doors with an impossible-looking lock.

Neep demonstrated what he learned from watching Souka Yant and charmed nearly the lot of them. He ordered the seven he controlled to destroy the one remaining, and with hardly lifting a finger, the party regained control of the exterior of the mausoleum. Now if only they could bypass those huge steel doors…

Delve 16

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19 Firemoot to 18 Firewane
Upper Temple of Orcus, Zelkor's Ferry, and Eastwych

The party wasted no time in gathering what they could from the chaotic enclave of clerics, hundreds of pounds of chain mail armor and a sackful of gold holy symbols and altar settings devoted to Orcus. Souca Yant sent her babies to collect the giant fire opal eyes, and after an hour of clawing and scrabbling, they were able to pull them free.

The day-long reset on the trap that guards the above-ground mausoleum had not completed, so the party holed up in a room near the ladder that would eventually clear to lead them out. During the wait, a clear gelatinous blob took Souca’s gargoyles by surprise, but the party overcame the common creature before it could do any serious harm. Finally, the hours passed, and they heard the trapfloor reset, and Souca felt well enough to move again.

As they finally escaped, the sun was only just up judging from the half-light in the sunken cemetery in which the great mausoleum lay. The rain that afternoon as they reached the ocean was the last bad weather they saw those four warm days of Firemoot.

Feeling somewhat recovered on the trek back to Zelkor’s Ferry, Souca had a nearly fatal experience as she cracked the Tome of Ineffable Foulness they had discovered, a leather-bound tome that forebode evil from the runes on its cover. Shocks of chaos energy coursed through her, knocking her hard to the ground. If not for her allies to recover her from the system shock, she’d have died. Later, they thought to try to sell it to Ulman Dark, the “necromancer” of Zelkor’s Ferry, and while they could see an inkling of interest, he declined to buy it. So they burned the thing in the fire at the inn.

They sold a half-ton of arms and armor and melted-down gold formerly purposed to the worship of Orcus. Big Morgan had been working with them a while now, and they worked out a good deal for the arms, and Kelgor didn’t see that the old use of metal had any bearing on its new use and happily melted the gold down. Couldn’t help with gems like those fire opals though, unless the party would take a fraction of their worth for one.

So they waited a tenday for all members to fully regain their health, and then the party undertook a fortnight’s journey to Eastwych to find a buyer for the pair of gems. In the big city, it was still hard to find a fair price, but in the end they were pleased at the trade.

In the meantime, a few partiers went out on the town and had a good old time! Souca stood up for herself in a barfight, which could have turned out much worse, and Aminatu threw a wad away on games of chance. Wesley got really drunk and proudly boasted how he’d slay every Orcus he found in Rappan Athuk. This boast was met with much good natured guffawing, but Wesley really means it.

Delve 15

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19 Firemoot 945 (2)
Morning, underground, Upper Temple of Orcus

Grumbly the Dwarf had been working up a lather in his beard as he approached this area. No one knew for sure what it was about, but Dwerfater was channeling through him in some way, and as the party found the massive double doors that would lead to the Upper Temple of Orcus, he stated, “We are here.”

No one knew what that meant, that crazy dwarf always going on about something or other, so Souka Yant cast an opening spell to handle the door at a distance after Badda claimed a magical trap lay at the doors threshold. The vision in the room beyond caused all to forget Badda’s warning: nearly a score of chaos-priests seemed to be preparing for their arrival! Their leader called out and cast a spell on the front of the party, who immediately felt a bit out of sorts.

Many charged in, seeing spellcasters everywhere, fearing being demolished at range before getting a chance to respond. Souka’s gargoyles crushed several priests before being overtaken by a flying demon enveloped in a cloud of inky blackness. The cries from the demon-thing and the gargoyles was suddenly cut off for all standing in the hallway as another spell created an impenetrable zone of silence.

Athalis stepped to and cast a spell causing the leader and a few of his cronies to fall into a magical slumber from which they’d not awaken for nearly a week! The tide of battle seeming turned, the party surged in and began slaying chaos clerics of Orcus. Souka’s magic missiles struck down the demon-thing with the sphere of darkness, and Athalis let loose with another magical slumbering spell. The few still awake or alive, surrendered before they were swiftly murdered.

As the party moved to tie up the prisoners, Badda sprinted to where the leader lay asleep and slit his throat. She could see there was plate mail beneath his priestly vestments, more appealing even than the gold holy symbol around his neck. She started unfastening the mail as the party did the same to the lesser priests, scavenging every scrap they can.

As the party collected their seemingly-easily-won loot from this unholy temple, from the shadows came a scratchy whisper of a spell being cast by a form which turned out to be a black-mist-enshrouded female form clad in ghostly plate, who seemed to float silently an inch off the floor. The magic she threw caused half the party to hear clanging bells and alarms, sending some to wander off into the darkness and others to attack their allies!

After Wesley punched Souka Yant in the head, she cast a spell that duplicated her image. Now two Souka Yants winked at Gosu as he haplessly held the torches for everyone to see by. Squib was stabbed before anyone knew what was going on, and Grumbly was running for the door. The ghostly creature nearly slew Badda, sucking his life essence from him with only touch, leaving him permanently weakened.

Mortal weapons had no effect on this undead female warrior-mage that stood before them. Hank’s and Aminatu’s striking it was harmless as spearing smoke, yet her fierce retorts felt most solid. Kati felt her chill grasp through armor and flesh and bone, staggering her mortal being. Only magical weapons would make contact, Kati and Barak discovered, and in a daring finale Aminatu snatched up the unconscious Badda’s elven dagger, ram it home in the warrior-mage’s face.

Finally it seemed quiet. The 40’-foot tall statue of Orcus peered down at them through massive fire opal eyes. Badda peered back with his prybar in hand…

Delve 15

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19 Firemoot 945
Morning, underground, Marthek's Place and deeper

The four new reluctant additions the party stood guard the whole night, since they couldn’t sleep anyway. Neep and Kit kept them company, chewing on iron rations through the night. The spellcasters grumpily demanded to be left to sleep in this dank place, but it was not to be. Somewhere in the wee hours the spiked-shut door’s handle rattled. The peasants immediately moved as far from the door as possible. The handle jostling got louder and eventually rose to a banging. Everyone hoped Souka Yant and Kati and the rest wouldn’t awaken at the noise, but they did, quite grumpily.

Another of those horrifying black skeletons was trying to claw its way in, and the party set up to take it out quickly. Souka Yant’s gargoyles caused the most damage, but Squib launched the felling blow with a dart to one of its glowing red eyes.

No one having a good night’s sleep, and no spellcasters recovering their energies, the party slogged out to the east, according to their recollection of Athalis’s directions. They found the steep dirt slide down and fashioned extra-long ropes to make the descent controlled, Neep and Kit leading the way. After nearly two hours of labor, the entire party arrived in a tight dirt tunnel 5 feet in diameter at most, which glowed a faint green at the far end.

Cautiously at first, they proceeded into a large cavernous chamber, in which grew a strange glowing green fungus. It did not seem to cause any harm, so Neep dragged Gosu around for light as he explored, leaving the rest of the party to watch as their light threw weird shadows behind stalagmites across 60 feet of dirt cave. Initial exploration complete, a “blurpy-sounding” tunnel was investigated. An oily-smelling room with iridescent liquid lay at the end of a three-foot wide tunnel and was quickly rejected as the way forward.

Neep suggested going “this-a-way” which turned out to be a route to a carved stone corridor. Brushing the dirt off themselves, a dozen surface-dwellers felt a wave of evil wash over them. It had been building – ever since they entered hundreds of feet above – but here there was a palpable malevolence that everyone felt down their backs.

Quietly as they could, the party explored a huge oddly-shaped room that had but one door at the far end. Nothing much turned up, they proceeded through the door and found a tunnel that led to a well-kept abode. Six beds, evenly spaced, a large chest at the foot of each, Badda leapt at the first one to see how it opened, as the party spread into the room. Flipping the latch caused a cloud of noxious green gas to blast out! Those who breathed it succumbed to the poison, but only Irwin was unable to be attended by a laying on of hands. Amazingly, nothing but robes, cloaks and kris knives lay within.

Throwing a look at Badda, Souka Yant determined none of it was magical, but “that’n over there”, pointing at one of the other chests, had something magic inside as well as something magical in the locking mechanism. Badda maneuvered the chest so he could hopefully pull open the lid from a distance, using a length of rope on a freed latch. Through an amazing feat of agility requiring perfect balance he led the rope across the room and pulled, releasing a detonation of cold!

Everything in the room was covered in an inch of frost, but all lives were safe within the entryway. Badda rushed in to see what Souka detected, and he triumphantly held up a dark-blue leather tome with evil-looking silver glyphs welded on the front. The helm of language comprehension yielded no meaning from them. Thassiodon packed the book away for safekeeping.

No one dared to try another chest, so they went to the only door in the east wall. Iron-bound and well-maintained, unlike most of the doors they’d seen above, Aminatu approached to listen. Cautious though she was, merely touching the door caused a magical concussion to slam through the air. Souka Yant could see it coming as a glowing wave with her magical detection spell, and as it washed over the party, several minds suddenly went dumb, turning witty companions into village idiots.

What lay beyond must be important indeed to have such barriers! Throwing open the doors, they found a short hallway that led to a monstrous pair of doors…

Delve 15

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A Dangerous Spell!
Atropos Blade

Having learned the spell called Atropos Blade, a power given by The Three Fates to their servants in need of magical enchantment to make their swords quite formidable, Athalis has learned that calling on this ‘gift’ comes at great cost. Someone known to him will die, their life force pulled into the blade and expended as they cry out their last breath into his mind.

But who is taken when he uses this dread power? The elven wizard has a living past after all, for nobody’s life story is forged in the middle, with no beginning. And Athalis has a family that includes parents and siblings, aunts and cousins, even grandparents and great uncles that are long-lived like any elf. As well he has a work life that he left behind to become an adventurer. He began as an apprentice to a well-known artisan after finishing his basic schooling – just as many young elves do. After a time, he made his own business, having a strong fascination with ancient cultures and artwork, restoring artifacts to new condition while maintaining their historic integrity. He had a few regular clients that would bring him such trinkets either to sell or pay for his fine work in restoring the item for their own private collection.

It was one of these pieces in fact, brought to him by a smuggler he worked with many times, that led him to seek Rappan Athuk. For the ancient statue depicting three women that he was given to restore reached out to him with its magic, sending visions and promises of great power waiting to be found. Perhaps it was his elvish blood, sensitive to magic such as this, that allowed to him see such visions. Or perhaps it was merely a whim of The Three Fates. Regardless, Athalis set foot upon that path and now he holds the fate of his family, old friends and new acquaintances in his hand. And The Three Fates smile as the names are writ upon the material they weave like a list, each with a thread that can and will be cut every time Athalis asks them for the power of the Atropos Blade…

Roll a d70 when spell is successfully cast to determine the fate of a known acquaintance!!

1 – Father
2 – Mother
3 – Younger Sister
4 – Older Sister
5 – Brother-in-law
6 – Nephew
7 – Niece
8 – Cousin
9 – Younger Brother
10 – Sister-in-law
11 – Niece
12 – Grandfather (Maternal)
13 – Grandfather (Paternal)
14 – Grandmother (Paternal)
15 – Party Member
16 – Uncle (Paternal)
17 – AuntDEAD
18 – Cousin
19 – Cousin
20 – Uncle (Paternal)
21 – Aunt
22 – Cousin
23 – Uncle (Maternal)
24 – Great Aunt (Paternal)
25 – Great Uncle
26 – Great Aunt (Maternal)
27 – Childhood EnemyDEAD
28 – Childhood Friend
29 – Childhood Friend
30 – Childhood Best Friend
31 – Childhood Best Friend’s Mother
32 – Childhood Best Friend’s Father
33 – Childhood Best Friend’s Sister (had a crush on her…)
34 – Childhood Favorite Teacher
35 – Childhood Least Favorite Teacher
36 – Apprenticeship Master
37 – Apprenticeship Master’s Husband
38 – Apprenticeship Master’s Daughter
39 – Fellow Apprentice
40 – Fellow Apprentice’s Husband
41 – Fellow Apprentice’s Elder Son
42 – Fellow Apprentice’s Younger Son
43 – Ex-girlfriend (left on good terms)
44 – Ex-girlfriend (left on bad terms… see affair below…)
45 – Artisan Shop Landlord
46 – Residential Landlord
47 – Former Roommate
48 – Former Roommate (such an asshole…)
49 – Bartender
50 – Adult Friend
51 – Adult Friend
52 – Adult Friend’s Wife (had an affair with her…)
53 – Adult Friend’s Daughter (could be his own daughter?)
54 – Merchant smuggler dealing in ancient artifacts
55 – Regular Client
56 – Regular Client
57 – Regular Client
58 – Weapons Trainer
59 – Kalgor the Gemcutter
60 – Ulman Dark
61 – Rasmus Pye
62 – Meregen Pye
63 – Big Morgan
64 – Odo Bristleback
65 – Favorite Barmaid at Bristleback Inn
66 – Least Favorite Barmaid at Bristleback Inn
67-70 (or rolled a DEAD acquaintance again) – Very casual acquaintance at GM’s pleaseure (maybe someone he met by chance at some point in his past or during the adventure?)


Rolled 17 on 2/12: Aunt Fridi dies. Damn… I really liked the cookies she brought to us every Yuletide.

Rolled 27 on 4/29: Childhood Enemy dies. I always hated that no-good little punk that always pulled down my shorts during gym class…

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11 Highsun 945
Geas

A week after returning to Zelkor’s Ferry, Grumbly heard the call from Dwerfater that he must come with his companions to a hidden dwarven sacred stone in the woods across the Canyon River. The journey was brief, Grumbly intuitively knowing the way to follow through the forest. Strange dwarven runes were carved into a great rock that jutted from the ground atop the hidden hill, and here Grumbly approached ahead of his companions, Keeli, the worshiper of Cthulhu staying farthest back.

The dwarf kneeled, head bowed, his gray beard sweeping the earth before him, and he communed with Dwerfater. His friends, watching the experience, saw a gray glow slowly emanating from Grumbly as his deity touched him from beyond this plane, and as they watched the glow increased. In a sudden bright gray flash that felt like getting hit by a sandstorm, bathing even Keeli, standing some 40 feet away from the jutting stone, the party sensed a great boon but also a deep compulsion.

The blessing of Dwefater was truly immense, but the accompanying geas was equally so. Within one year, all those present – Grumbly, Beilar Zhen, Sooka Yant, Athalis, Radek Angdur, Baba Zeez, Kit, Kati, Thasaidon, Neep Farrow, Badda Gruk, Keeli – must cleanse the unholy Upper Temple of Orcus in Rappan Athuk.

In exchange, everyone present received sudden deific knowledge of their calling, even Keeli of Cthulhu, Kati the Dervish, and those less even lawfully aligned. 50 XP!

Further, this knowledge included the forgotten or secret locations of powerful items that would be of great utility in this undertaking! Each seemed specifically attuned to the needs of the person, the Dwerfater apparently demonstrating a deep desire to see this mission to fruition.

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25 Highsun 945 (3)
Late evening, underground, Lair of the Dung Monster

Kit turned around just in time to see the corpse of a giant rat hovering in midair behind the party. It took a half second to register the other floating dungeon detritus – bones, leaves, rocks – behind a shimmering wall that had no business being there. “Cube!” she shouted, recognizing the legendary monster, and as she shoved her allies aside, she was engulfed by the thing as it surged forward. Sharp electric paralysis struck every nerve in her body as she painfully became immobilized in the thing’s body.

Grumbly banished the creature as it carried Kit, apparently causing great discomfort to it without hurting Kit. The rest of the party was reluctant to act for fear of harming their friend, so they just followed as it oozed into a rathole. The banishment spell was still hurting it, but not fast enough, and who knows if Kit would survive much longer. Soon it might squeeze into tunnels too small to follow, so Beilar used her ring of Lesser Elven Magic Sucking, firing three magic missiles into it, evaporating the remaining jelly. Kit slumped to the ground.

Grit was quick to help Kit, carrying her, smelling her, playing with her hair. It was strange to the others, but he didn’t care. Even after the party brokered an easy way across a covered pit trap that sprained Radek’s ankle, he leapt across with Kit in his arms.

Anyway, the option presented itself, as it does, to go north or south outside of the red-ant-skeleton-with-poisoned-deck-of-cards room, and the party chose north, away from the strange iron plate set out to make a pling sound every now and then when water drips fell on it.

The door before them had been blasted asunder in some previous incident, and several arrows were stuck in the wall nearby. They cautiously moved into the room, except for Grit, who gleefully clomped around. A desk in the corner contained a half dozen glass bottles, a few of which contained clear liquid, one of which even detected for magic. They stowed the items for now, continuing to literally follow their noses, which had been reeling against the rank smell of feces and rot pervasive here.

Athalis noted there was an obviously ajar secret door in the northwestern portion of the cavern, and this led to a room that smelled even worse than everything that they’d come across before. Dead center of the room there lay a latrine seating arrangement, three holes cut, and one covered with a rather nice looking white stone surface. Keeli had an evil detection spell in effect, which screamed a warning to her that the white latrine seat was not safe at all. While she focused her evil-detecting beam at it, the party approached cautiously.

And suddenly the white stone seat erupted into a massive quivering blob of animated goblin shit, moving to attack with some awful pseudopod of dung. Grumbly tried to banish this thing too, and even more effective, the beast made of excrement disappeared to wherever it came from.

Of course someone had to jump into the bogs since a dwarf smelled “a lot” of gold down there. Kit having woken and Grit now bored again, he jumped down into the shit. Luck favored him in some way, as he twisted his ankle on the little bag in the muck that contained the money he was told was there. He pushed his luck a little farther, sloshing around chest-deep in the crap of who-knows-what, but no further treasures were to be found. He called up to his allies to throw him a rope, who thought about it for a second, then acquiesced.

Everyone was ready for some grub and a place to sleep, preferably nowhere near Grit. It had been a long day, and none had died, so spirits were understandably high, despite the wretched smells and certain doom around the next corner.

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25 Highsun 945 (2)
Sunset, 60F, light wind, the Graveyard of Rappan Athuk

There the party stood before the great doors of the mausoleum, wondering how to get past the massive steel portal. The brave clandestine types stepped forth to attempt to pick the lock, but the mechanisms were well beyond their ken. Souka Yant then pushed the ne’er-do-wells aside and called upon some horrible blood magic to increase the potency of her spell. Fickle as the powers of magic are, her first attempt failed, her spent lifeforce wasted. After some divine healing from her friends, she made a second attempt, again cutting herself to gain power. Suddenly she was aware of all the doors nearby, and the one before her simply vanished.

Damp, musty air rolled out of the mausoleum, as the last of the sun set over the edge of the depression 50 feet above them. Near the doorway, broken bits of weapons and bone were visible. Torches and lanterns were lit, and Concorde cast a spell in preparation of facing evil, which would identify its location, should it be hidden. And the spell lit up the entire space of the mausoleum in his eyes, causing him to take a step back. Not only did the floor raise a concern, he could detect some powerful evil entity lying within the massive stone coffin in the center of the crypt.

The charmed gargoyles were sent in to remove the coffin lid as the party prepared where the steel doors formerly stood. A huge cackling skeleton arose from the stone coffin, its bones shining like black steel, and eyes glowing red pinpoints in unholy darkness. It screeched a frightful sound that made skin crawl, and two of the gargoyles fled, and those in the door had to harness their wills to stand fast.

Acting quickly, missile weapons were aimed and shot as the remaining gargoyle gouged its opponent, and a mighty strike felled the evil thing. The fight was over in moments, but the black skeleton cackled maniacally as it was destroyed.

Gathering their breaths after the brief exertion, those standing in the doorway notice the mausoleum floor beginning to rise! They could easily run out the front door, but then they’d be blocked and stuck in the graveyard overnight. They had to find a way through the crypt, and Concorde’s spell told the way.

Athalis’ elven eyes found the actual secret trapdoor which the spell only hinted at, and a few of the party made a dash for the mule for those hundreds of pounds of gear and rations they had it haul along. In the 40 seconds it took to unstrap the bags the floor rose nearly four feet, but they threw the bags up, pulled themselves up, and raced to the back of the empty mausoleum, as the ceiling was nearing head-height. No fear.

The smell down the secret ladder was revolting. Apparently Rappan Athuk was rotten in every sense, death and decay overwhelming Thasaidon, Cerngoth’s Brother, as they made their way ahead into the darkness. The remnants of the evil detection spell wore off, but dwarven gold sniffing abilities kicked in, and the party discovered a room with a massive cave-in at the back. Near at hand was an old wooden coffin, its lid loose and apparently long plundered. Someone smashed the lid open, and indeed it was empty. Souka Yant sent her gargoyles in before the ruffian could destroy the rest, as she desired a palanquin fashioned out of the coffin bottom for her charmed stone creatures to carry her on.

Vanity sated, the party proceeded in another direction, since it looked like a week’s work to clear the cave-in, according to Radek. The cavern walls changed to carved stone floors and walls, and the first chamber they found held a number of skull piles, neatly organized. Broken bones lay around, and seeing nothing interesting, they moved on.

A casket lay in the next chamber, the on the floor a well-trod rug of strange design. The casket looked empty and the rug worth nowhere near the effort to haul away, so forward again they went, taking the clearest route (following the rat larger tunnels would be easy enough for the halfling, but the rest of the party would have to crawl).

The stairs leading out of the room sprung a trap on Kit, or nearly did, as some halfling luck saved her by a hair. Instead her step just dropped the lid, and her foot hung there a few inches over some black-tipped downward-pointing spikes, which surely would have trapped her foot. As she counted her blessings the party turned in surprise at….

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25 Highsun 945 (1)
The Graveyard above Rappan Athuk

The blessings of Dwerfater upon them, the party regathered in the middle of summer, after each fulfilled personal quests imparted by the dwarven deity. Stronger and perhaps more able, the party had grown to 17 members, newcomers arriving from Renderby and other nearby hamlets and fishing villages. A new cleric joining the party offered to carry extra gear on his mule, sharing dungeoneering supplies and trail rations. In all, a rather enormous group departed Zelkor’s Ferry, ranks of both the holy and the base, and a recently-acquired set of magical coconuts granting supernatural speed overland.

Along the way, as the party was setting up camp the second evening, they were accosted by a group of four trolls, who were ostensibly guarding the nearby bridge over the Canyon River. Cowed by the troll warband, and owing to the fact that an attack did not immediately ensue, the party opted to parley in hopes of safe passage. The apparent troll leader suggested 30 gold coins would be enough for them to ignore the party today, and the adventurers were quick to agree to that sum. Money exchanged hands, and the rest of the night passed uneventfully.

Three uneventful days later, after following the eastern coast of the Sinnar Ocean back south toward where they discovered Rappan Athuk, they created stone cairns to guide them to and from the shore to the graveyard they’d discovered. The dervish had no troubles finding the way back, which they’d only trodden a month ago. In a matter of hours the party arrived at the graveyard, just as the sun was going down…

Finally, the southern mausoleum stood before them, all eight green gargoyles perched atop. Seems Rasmus Pye was fully truthful about the former gargoyle eyes of jet that the party sold and which had somehow reformed into gargoyles again and wrecked his shop on the way out. However, this time the party was ready. The green gargoyles simply, presumably, watched as they approached and lined up across the small depression between them.

Magic Missiles and regular missiles and Words of Command were all thrown at the idle gargoyles, and before they could begin to act, nearly half of them were dispatched or flying away under the command to “Retreat!”. As the battle ensued, the rest of the gargoyles fell from the roof or out of the air as they were swooping in, or else they fell prey to the powerful magics of Souka Yant’s Charm spell, and only one landed blows of any significance, though Kit was nearly slain by the stony bite and gore from its horns. Still, the party that had once nearly been entirely killed by these green-stone gargoyles made seemingly easy work of them, their new allies making the numbers overwhelming in the party’s favor.

Now five gargoyles lay dead on the ground or dying on the roof of the mausoleum, three under the charm control of Souka Yant, and the party must decide how to proceed. Before them, the massive steel doors of the mausoleum looked untouched by the passage of time, and the intricate lock on the door was well beyond what the roguish types had seen before in their practicing in small human villages. Probably of dwarven manufacture, if they pick it, it will be quite an accomplishment!

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