The Ruins of Evil, Part II
This being the fifth chapter in an epic account of great heroism and grand adventure. Accurately retold based on exhaustive research and witness interviews by Belkas Silverquill, realm renowned scholar, historian and author.
Exhausted and in desperate need of rest, our hero’s return to one of the barracks room to recuperate. Finding the room easily defendable, they settle down for some much needed rest. After what seems to be a number of hours, the bard Rethador awakens and makes his way over to where Arnisil is keeping watch. Settling down alongside Arnisil, Rethador begins talking to him about what he see’s as incredible feats done by the group.
Their conversation is cut short by noises from outside the room. Someone – or something – approaches. Arnisil quickly wakes the others, and they prepare themselves for the worst. All are amazed to see Elmo enter the room with two other heavily armed companions – a Human warrior and a Half Orc Barbarian. Momentarily confused, they stare at Elmo in disbelief, who is himself complaining of the difficulties he and his companions have endured in searching for our hero’s. Elmo cuts short their questions as to how he found them and instead starts questioning them as too all that had occurred in this place.
Confusion turns to suspicion as our hero’s consider the unlikely reasons Elmo would have to come in search of them, unless something of great importance had occurred that they were not aware of. Not wanting to offend Elmo, but concerned over his decision to seek them out in such an evil place, our hero’s are slow in giving away too much information, and ask a few questions of Elmo himself.
Without warning, the Half Orc launches into an attack on our hero’s, along with the Human warrior. Within a heartbeat all three of the visitors are attacking the group. As our band of intrepid heroes respond to this sudden and unexpected threat, a female Cleric rushes into the room and attacks them, followed by a Mage. Caught off guard, the group are forced to defend themselves on all sides. Just as our hero’s seem to be gaining the upper hand, another Mage appears out of nowhere and unleashes a fierce attack on them. The battle rages on, and as our hero’s overcome their confusion, they are able to defeat each of these new foes, including Elmo. On closer examination of Elmo’s corpse, it is revealed to be a doppelganger. Relieved by the knowledge that they have not slain the real Elmo, the group quickly search the dead and loot anything of value. More of the strange holy symbols are found on the bodies of the cleric and mages, only deepening the mystery. Resolving to unravel this mystery, the group set out for the crypt once more, determined to find answers.
The adventurers know they are close to the crypt when a sudden chill engulfs them. They enter a cold, dismal chamber filled with sarcophagi in crevices dug into the walls. After encountering a couple of ghouls, the group are able to search the area, but find nothing of interest. Preparing to move on, the group suddenly find a hidden door at the back of an alcove, behind and empty sarcophagus. Opening the doorway, a long passageway is revealed. Our parties spirits lift with the prospect of finding some answers, but are soon dashed when they find that the passageway only leads to an area they have already searched. Returning to the crypt, they decide to investigate the deep pit they encountered earlier.
They make their way to the pit. Nothing seems to have changed since they were last here. An unnatural chill emanates from the pit. A pulley system has been erected over the pit, with a series of ropes connected to the corners of a wooden platform suspended over the pit. It is obvious that the platform is some sort of elevator which can be raised or lowered using the ropes and pulley’s, and the rope can be operated by standing on the platform.
With little other choice, the group gather together on the platform, and the strongest of the group begin to lower them into the pit. As they slowly descend into the gloom, the air becomes noticeably colder. About 30 feet down, the platform passes through a round portal with tunnels on either side. Water flows from the tunnels and falls into the pit below. The party then realize that the round, flat stone they found in the chamber above is some sort of coverstone, used to seal the chamber they are now entering. Once in place, it appears the coverstone would have been mortared in over the portal, and the pit above would fill with water, hiding this chamber from all.
Passing through the portal, the group can see that they have entered a vast chamber that must be close to 300 feet deep. The chill increases again, to an uncomfortable level, and the group realize that they can not stay in this are for too long. They descend another 150 feet where they stop just above the top of what appears to be a tall column. The surface of the column resembles black marble, but it appears to absorb all light, as there is no luster to the surface. Thick violet veins intertwine over the surface. Another wooden platform is suspended by ropes off to one side of the column. Arnisil steps of the platform to make his way to the edge, but as he does, the veins in the surface seem to come to life and slowly writhe in his direction. He steps back onto the platform and the veins stop moving. Taking a chance, the group dash, one by one, to the second wooden platform, careful to avoid the writhing veins in the surface of the column. As the last member of the group land on the second platform, they start lowering themselves further into the chamber. It is soon revealed that the column, now looking more like some huge obelisk, narrows to a seemingly impossible point, balanced precariously atop a 30 foot piller. Although it appears the obelisk should topple at the slightest touch, it is as solid as the rock it appears to be made of.
Out of the darkness, a strange creature identified as a grell attacks the group, but is easily defeated… too easily for the liking of some in the party.
Eventually, the platform reaches the stony ground. The cold at this level is almost unbearable, slowly sapping the strength of even the strongest and most resilient member of the group. At this level, it can be seen that there are iron rungs set in the side of the pillar, leading up to the top where the obelisk appears to be impossibly balanced on a point as narrow as the tip of an arrow head.
The group step off the platform onto the rocky ground. An archway set into the wall can be seen on the far side of the chamber, with a smooth, flat surface filling the inside of the archway. Two strange symbols are carved into the ground a short distance from the archway.
The group is startled by a bone chilling scream from behind them. They turn in time to see what appears to be a demented Cleric flying in their direction. He appears to be human, but his skin has an unnaturally pale appearance which seems to match the unnatural coldness of the chamber. Paradox summons a hippogriff to battle the cleric. The cleric proves to be no match for this beast, and is soon slain.
They approach the archway, which is a carved mass of writhing serpents and tentacles set into the wall. The area inside the archway is completely smooth and utterly black. Silas makes a search of the area around the archway, but no clues as to its’ meaning or function are found. He also finds no hidden doors, traps, triggers or any other devices. Curious, he picks up a stone and lobs it at the centre of the archway. As it hits the surface within the archway, the stone disappears, and a grell appears in its’ place. After a tough battle, the grell lies dead at the base of the archway. Each member of the party looks at the others… what does this mean? Where does this mysterious portal lead? Does it even lead anywhere, or is it just a quick death for any who try to enter? And what of this massive obelisk – what strange power holds it in place?
Our hero’s are now thoroughly disheartened… Having come all this way, and having overcome all manner of adversity in search of answers, all they find are more questions. Where to from here?