Chapter 131 - "..preferred to have been rescued by the Illithids.."
As the statue lies broken on the floor, I pick up a large piece and brush some dust off while checking the swirling patterns and inscriptions. Under the scratches and chipped out pieces that are clearly damage from spell and blade, I can see the symbols more clearly, and with a sigh, simply utter the words "Oh bugger."
The statue definitely was the Deep Gnomes Deity, and with the clarity of hindsight we did have plenty of warning signs dotted around the whole tomb. I round everyone up to put the lids of the coffins back, and tidy the skeletons to make sure that none have accidently fallen into disturbing poses. Robbie then utters a prayer in the only way he knows how – a mixture of 5% sincerity and 95% pure sarcasm as he leads the forlorn tomb defilers with the words "Bless the little gnomes from harm dealt by those who knew no better, and may they sleep better in their beds tonight".
We find Jilenth sharpening a knife in the spot we left her at, and retrieving her, head back down into the tomb. Robbie gives words of encouragement and welcome with his usual style and flourish, chattering to her at the back of the group. He ends this fine speech with "You are now part of our gang – no, no, don’t thank us…" as she gazes upon the broken remains of defiled tombs to the fresh tracks that lead to and from them to the dust and grime on most of the groups clothing.
Hordex has remained in the main room, and reports that he has taken a look at the crack in the wall which was previously hidden by the statue, which looks big enough for people to go in. He adds that the path beyond slopes downwards, and rubbing his shoulders from the memory of the last time he ‘went first’ tells us "…I didn’t cross the threshold..".
Checking around the room once more, all eyes have turned to the old coffer sitting on top of the Dias in the centre of the room. No-one dares move forward, and eyes glint hungrily round the party as they wait for an idiot who does not comprehend the traps already placed around the room and doors.
They don’t wait that long, as the Elven trap detection squad, well more of a single person now as the other members are all surprisingly dead, Agador, steps forward and picks up and shakes the old coffer. Sadly it’s locked, and nothing bad happens.
Jilenth, after years of seeing no-one but statues and creatures that where more likely to eat her relishes at the chance to show off her skills, and from a pouch on her side, removes some lock picking tools.
She starts off really well, with meaningful glances at the other tools in the roll at her side, substituting one for another after announcing the first tumbler is completed, and inserts the second tool at a perfect 47 degree angle. And then, with an ‘oops’, fails like an Ian.
We check the remaining door, but that appears stuck fast. Agador attempts to open it by running and charging the door, but only succeeds in setting off runes of frost as he crashes into it.
The ripples of cold energy that emanate from the door slams into the party, and Agador and I only just get out of the brunt of the icy burst, with even the edges causing cold burns and disorientation. Jilenth however takes a face full, and drops dying*** to the floor.
I quickly Heal her, and making sure Agador opens no more chests, doors or anything that can physical be touched or manipulated in any way shape or form, I take Jilenth back to the cavern with the Dias. I try to ignore Robbie’s veiled whisper about Jilenth "…not being a very good thief…even the Dwarf got out of the way!" and hurry her back to safety.
We decide not to go down the corridor which could potentially lead to defiling more temple areas, and opt for the fissure instead, which as Robbie sensibly points out, is less likely to be temple related.
Once more the Elven ancestors look down in shock and awe at one of their own, as no sooner as we stand up, Agador has crossed the threshold once more and again sets off another trap.
Runes flare catching all four of us, and once more we all have to have a bit of a lie down before we feel well enough to continue. We find that the runes where carved inside, and Robbie says it could have been protecting the room from the corridor with the runes and statue blocking it, rather than protecting people from entering the corridor from the room. Or something.
Agador travels first via gaseous form and goes down the fissure, finding a strange flat smooth rocky area, big enough for 2 people to stand on. Once Agador calls out its safe, I follow Agador down and take a look myself at the flat rock. We work out that a Wall of Stone is what has covered the area, and subsidence that has happened over the years has further covered the floor.
I become ethereal, and drop down through the wall of stone, but am stopped but what I think is a Wall of Force.
Returning to the main cavern once more, we sleep for the night, and at midnight, hear the stone altar returning to normal. In the morning we Wind Walk back to the city, gain entrance, but only after explaining to Jileneth that we are not evil minions of any shape or size.
Why are we doing this? Because Robbie and his silver tongue has managed to convince Jileneth that we are in fact evil, and have planned to do nefarious things to her, and then sell the carcass to the highest bidder.
It doesn’t help our cause when just when we think we have her calmed down, we tell her we will deliver her back to the outskirts of Milbourne, but advise her things may have changed slightly as it kind of burned down during one of our last visits. No words are said by her, but there is that look that indicates she may be thinking she would prefer to have been rescued by the Illithids.
With a cheery "Come along!" we escort Jileneth to Milbourne and making sure we arrive away from any of the wanted posters, dump 1000 gold with her and point her in the direction of the town.
Once satisfied that she is ok, we Wind Walk all the way back to the city and beyond, heading back to the altar once more. Again I expend spells into the image of the altar in my mind, and once more we go inside.
We find that we have forgotten the coffer, and so I Wind Walk back to collect it hidden behind the altar, and return to Agador to cast knock upon it. The coffer collapses in on itself as the spell resolves, and the sides fall off and become sawdust blowing away with the breeze. It contains a book, which glancing at the title, Agador reveals it to be written in deep gnome.
Robbie casts a spell to read languages, and as he attempts to read the first page, announces he feels funny, but describes it thus "…my heart feels bad, like that time sweet Katrina of the woods left me for Bertie the bowman…."
Myself and Hordex start breaking through the Wall of Stone with brute force, and ensuring that I am flying, finally break through a small section. Once through, I signal a stop and we listen intently. I start to feel quite uncomfortable as I peer into the darkness - not quite the same way as Robbie did earlier, and guess a Forbiddance effect is in place.
Through the hole I drop a light stone, and from this light can see a stone floor about 20 feet below. Many small skeletons litter the floor, some clean, while others wear old armour or clothes scattered amongst some broken weapons.
I drop through the ceiling, and start to describe the area to the others above me. The room itself is a large cavern, 20 feet high, and I have appeared near the west side. A large humming noise has become more noticeable now I am in the room, but hard to describe, like angry bees but with the noise pitched as though they are in water.
More bodies can be seen on the floor, with lots of rags and rubbish strewn about, while another Wall of Stone shuts off one side with tapestries and unusual fixture hangings lining another wall.
An old table ringed with eight broken chairs stands to one side of the room, and a fireplace built into the wall is surrounded by bookcases. A central raised dais holds a glass coffin, which is flanked by two large statues. The statues appear as though made of dark metal, and are humanoids armed with buckler and sword. Hovering above the glass coffin with no apparent fixings is a metal sphere, which is the source of the strange humming noise.
We test the party going through the Forbiddance spell effect, and its only Robbie that cannot make it through. Agador drops in and magically scans the area more thoroughly, while I stand ready to block the hole. With nothing obvious being missed, we leave for the day, and I wall of stone our earlier demolition work. We then travel back to Jileneth’s old home where we wait for the altar to rise to seal things off completely before settling down for the night.
***(Jilenth actually died at this point, and there were stunned looks from us all, as Dave had indicated that she was probably about 18th level as we had taken so long, but was actually being sarcastic. See, sarcasm is the lowest form of wit....)