"Oh go on, open the footlocker. It's safe enough."
We rested for a time in the room where we had killed the clerics, barring the door, and setting watch while we recuperated from the fight. Shalev used his powers as a paladin to cast a healing spell on me, which was enough to bring be back to full capability.
While we convalesced, we examined the equipment that the clerics had carried in greater detail. KelLyn used her magic to identify the items of interest, and she discovered
- a ring imbued with the magic to create fire
- a ring imbued with the magic to destroy fire
- a scroll of Protection from magic with 1 day duration
- a staff aligned with the cleric's pantheon which will strike at those it is pointed at with divine power (has an unholy feel to it.)
The rest of the armor and weaponry was exceptional quality, but otherwise unremarkable. Tobias, Shalev, and Osman claimed a mace each to use as a backup weapon if necessary, and Osman also claimed one of the sets of chain mail armor, though wearing it hampered his movement somewhat. Shalev took the ring with the magic to destroy fire, wearing on his left hand ring finger.
After rechecking that everyone was mostly healed and able to continue, we ventured out of the room and continued to explore the tomb. The next rooms we discovered were the kitchen, pantry, and wine cellar - all of which were fully stocked. Since Osman was making a rudimentary map of our findings, we earmarked these rooms to return to later to restock and resupply.
Continuing our not-so-stealthy explorations, we discovered a basic armory that held only low quality weapons, and it was speculated that this was where the lizard men were equipped from. Further down the hallway was a door that lead to a barracks with 10 sleeping men. A whispered argument broke out among the party about whether or not Kellyn should put them to sleep, or if we should just kill them outright. I had no problems killing them outright, but it was argued against, and KelLyn went to the door to try to cast a sleep spell. The moment she began to cast, she was shot with an arrow by one of the men in the rear of the room who had been awake and watching the party argue. The arrow did no damage to her, thankfully, due to her incredible strength, and only succeeded in making her angry. Osman immediately returned fire, and KelLyn threw off the sleep spell an began to cast in Fyrewerian, using the word we had all come to recognize for "fire."
As she was casting, Tobias used his speed to dash into the room and brain the second guard at the rear of the room who was also awake, and then dash back out to safety before KelLyn finished her spell. I shot both of the enemies with arrows as well. Fife and Lan stepped out into the hallway to guard against potential rear attacks, and KelLyn's spell detonated with cataclysmic effect. The fireball in her hands turned incandescent and liquid, a hovering ball of fluid, flaming destruction. She released the fireball into the room with an almost negligent flick of her hands, and Shalev rushed to yank the door closed to protect us from the backlash of the explosion.
Good thing he did, too, because an instant later the room, the doors, and everything inside was vaporized in a thunderous clap of white hot implosion. KelLyn turned to us then, and we saw that her eyes had turned a strange amber color as an after effect of the spell. She shrugged with a small smile and sauntered away from the smoldering room with a disdainful sniff. The fearsome flames had done their work well, and there was nothing left in the room at all except for a doorway (which had been concealed previously) to the main hallway. The stones were radiating so much heat that we could not enter the room, and so the party continued on, following the hallway around to another door which lead to another set of barracks.
This barracks was much larger, holding cots and small footlockers for twenty-four guards. I could hear snoring coming from the door at the other end of the room, and I used my stealth to walk silently through the room to the other side, where I discovered one lone soldier, sleeping on the floor where he had rolled out of bed. I took him out silently and without effort, and motioned to the rest of the party that I was going to check the door as well. Shalev then attempted to make his way over to me to act as back up should it be needed.
Alas, though, my diligent student has much to learn in the ways of stealth, however, and only succeeded in making a tremendous amount of noise. I looked at him in exasperation, and shook my head resignedly before trying the door. Thankfully it only lead back out into the main hallway, so no harm done. I should probably remind him gently that I am quite capable of avoiding situations if I am undetected, and while his effort to protect me was appreciated, he needs to trust that ability if I am going to be on point checking for traps and using my stealth to scout ahead.
Since there was nothing else of note on the one soldier that I killed, it was suggested that we go through the footlockers and personal chests here to see what else we might be able to find. I warned that they might not be safe, and that they shouldn't be touched until I had a chance to check them for traps. Despite my warning, however, Osman foolishly began opening the footlockers, and set of the poison needle trap within the third one that he opened. The needle pierced his finger, and he immediately stiffened and collapsed in death like coma. KelLyn, Lan, and I instantly went to work trying to keep him alive. KelLyn and Lan worked together to preserve his body and prevent the poison from spreading any further. I went into a deep meditative ritual to work to remove the poison from his blood and bring him back from the brink of death. The poison was virulent and strong, but after an entire day, an entire bag of the priceless salts from the deep desert, and a bottle of the highly potent moonshine from the farmers, I was able to draw enough of the poison out of his body to revive him; though it nearly exhausted me to do so.
While KelLyn, Lan, and I were striving to save Osman's life, Shalev and Tobias stood watch, and Ishmael and Fife returned to the room where the clerics were to retrieve the armor and weapons that were left behind. They made a horrible racket as they returned, seeming not to care who they might alert to our presence, and the raucous din disturbed a mass of flying rat-like creatures that Fife said were bats. The bats chittered and chirped and flew out down the hallway, presumably to the swamp outside, for we didn't see anything else of them after they flew past.
When they returned, I wearily thanked KelLyn and Lan for their assistance, and told the rest of the party that morning would tell if I were successful in saving Osman's life. I took the poultice that I had made with the salts and moonshine, and threw it into the still smoldering room of the opposite barracks, where it instantly vaporized into a lethal green cloud of smoke. I returned to the room, to do one final check on Osman's progress, said a sincere thanks to my god and goddess for their guidance with the attempt, then sat down and retreated mentally into the deep meditations that work as restful sleep for me.
Morning showed that I was indeed triumphant. Osman was groggy, and having some trouble moving his left arm, but he was alive and awake. Shalev used his daily gift to cast a healing spell over Osman, and I said a second, quiet prayer of thanks for the success of the work. Osman asked what had happened and Shalev told him of the poison, that I was somehow able to neutralize it, and then of his healing spell that brought him up to mobility. I raised an eyebrow, but let it pass. I do not think he meant to leave out the exhaustive work we did to make sure he woke up in the first place, and I was still weary enough to just let the oversight be. Osman is still very weak, and will unfortunately be relegated to healing naturally for a period of time. I warned him that he should not over tax himself, and that healing would take time. There are plenty of small tasks within the party that he can do to help regain his strength, and help him feel useful while he improved, but that when we found ourselves in battle, his safest place would be back behind us all.
Ishmael used his hammer to knock the hinges off of the remaining footlockers in the deserted barracks, and searching the containers revealed 2 decent sized bags of various gems, and 40 silver pieces. We added these to the stash of things we had found before, and since Osman was weak, but mobile, we decided to push on, keeping him near the rear of the party in a more protected position. Perhaps he has learned his lesson to check first, then act? We shall see.
Shalev made a motion to cast another detect evil spell, but I cautioned him against casting it again, as we already knew there was evil in this place, and reminding him that every time he cast the spell, it rang like a bell to any who might be searching for us. He agreed with my counsel, and before we continued our explorations, I cast a quiet druidic ritual to bless the party moving forward. I felt like my god and goddess answered my request, and I thanked them for their aid. I do not know exactly what the blessing did, but here, in this place, every boon counts.
As before, I scouted somewhat ahead, searching for traps and listening at doors. The next hallway we discovered had doors to the left and right, and when I listened, I heard muffled voices to the right. I motioned to the party members, and stepped out of the way as Shalev kicked the door in to reveal a group of 7 men in armor, playing dice around a table. Shalev immediately moved in to attack, and Tobias - much to my surprise - began to berate him for foolish action, despite the fact that 6 of the armored men were also moving to attack. I wonder at the sudden venom that Tobias showed Shalev. His actions were no different than they had been in previous encounters, and undeserving of such vitriol. I also wonder if Tobias and Shalev need to have words with one another when this is through. Tobias should know better, that there is no reason to be jealous, and that taking out his frustrations on Shalev was unwarranted, and poorly timed.
KelLyn moved to cast sleep on the 7th man, and he turned to grab a trident to attack her in return. Tobias moved into the room to group brawl the 6 others, in an attempt to divert attention off of Shalev's attacks. I used my bow with success to put two arrows into the 7th man, who was apparently the leader of the crew. While KelLyn was casting, Ishmael stepped between her and the leader, acting as a physical block if needed. The leader's attack was successful, though barely making it past Ishmael's guard, and it was enough to interrupt KelLyn's spell. Thankfully, there was no ill-effect from the disruption, save KelLyn being doused with water from an unknown source.
Fife took the opportunity to throw a spear at the leader then, and Shalev engaged with the rest of the group using his ability to do multiple attacks with great success, wounding four of them. KelLyn stepped around Ishmael, and laid her hands on the leader's armor, saying the Fyrewerian word for "Fire!" The leader took a panicked shot at her face in an attempt to break her formidable concentration, and I retaliated by throwing a dagger in his, diverting his awareness long enough for KelLyn to successfully complete her spell. Where her hand had rested against the leader's armor, a red-hot handprint appeared, and his eyes went wide when he realized that all of his armor was heating quickly to uncomfortable levels.
Shalev and Tobias remained engaged with the other 6 men, when out of nowhere, a leprechaun appeared. The little man took one look at the table, and the gold laying there from the dice game that had been in progress when Shalev kicked the door in. The leprechaun said aloud "You're right, there IS a lot of gold here." and then promptly vanished, taking all of the gold with him. All 7 of the men we were fighting stopped and stared, then started running towards the door to try and locate all of their missing gold. Fife kicked the door closed, preventing their escape, and used the opportunity to throw an oddly shaped dagger at the leader.
His aim was, as it always is, deadly true, and the dagger pierced the leader's armor where the glowing handprint had melted through, and embedded up to the hilt. KelLyn had the leader up by the throat, and both Ismael and Shaelv took successful swings against him while he was held immobile, earning a purring comment from her that she felt loved right then.
I drew my sword then, and closed for combat, as my arrows were useless at close range. The sword cut through the air with a scream of shattering sound, and blue waves sparked down the blade as I swung at the nearest foe. My cut was true, and cleaved through the air, and the foe in front of me, as if I were slicing through butter. The whole room stopped to turn and look at what the sound had been, in time to see the person I had attacked fall into two pieces, as I slung blood drops off of the gently curved blade. I took a moment then to look at the graceful blade with new admiration. I had never used it in combat before, and it felt as if it were an extension of my own body, a part of my arm, and I smiled a deadly smile as I re-engaged, moving and turning with effortless, lethal grace, blue waves of energy sparking along the blade, and across my body as I did.
Tobias kneecapped one of the fleeing men, and used a second attack to take him out completely. KelLyn then threw the body.. or what remained of the body, as Shalev and Tobias' attacks took both knees and head off.. of the leader at the rest of the fleeing men, screaming out "I AM THE MAGE!" with a battle cry that made them all nearly wet themselves. After that it was short work to kill the remaining soldiers, and we did so quickly. Fife had backed away, into the closed door, staring wide-eyed at me, and he opened the doorway to continue out into the hall, when he suddenly stopped short, feeling the garrote there at his neck where Osman and Lan had strung the wires across the entrance to prevent escape.
He gently felt along the wire until he came to the edge, where he carefully worked to remove it before he hurt himself on it. Lan and Osman helped him remove the wire, letting him keep an arm's length of it when he expressed interest in it, quipping still wide-eyed that if he were going to be successful as a body guard that he would have to take the enemies out before we even got there.
The weapons and armor of the men we had fought was all but destroyed completely, and nothing save the trident remained of interest in the room. KelLyn used her skills to identify the weapon as a pre-Fyrewerian artifact used by an underwater civilization (which Lan confirmed with more than a little disdain in her voice.) It was enchanted to be used under water at speed, and would give the wielder an idea of their opponents actions. Fife and Tobias both expressed a keen interest in the weapon, and so KelLyn handed it to Fife saying that they would have to work out who got it between the two of them.
Shalev spent some time removing wall hangings and searching the rest of the room, revealing a latch hidden behind one of the tapestries. He took one look at the latch, and stepped away hastily, saying with wary amusement, "See Osman, this is how you get to the treasures without dying." and looked my way in a plea to check it for traps. I chuckled bemusedly, and checked the latch thoroughly revealing a door into a rather gaudily appointed bedroom. This was apparently the leader's resting place, and had rather horrid paintings on the walls, mismatched rugs, and a sword in a scabbard that hung over the shabby bed. KelLyn once again identified the weapon as being a cursed bastard sword. The wielder would attack all in an opposing army with great vigor. Fife commented that it was a "suicide" sword, and the description of the curse leads me to believe that the horrid thing should be destroyed.
We checked the rest of the room, and when we rolled the carpets aside, discovered a trap door. I picked the lock to the portal, and opened the door to reveal a 20 foot rope ladder leading down to a hallway that is only about 5 foot across. This, then, is the way to the next level of the tomb. I closed and re-secured the door, and the rest of the party agreed that we should set this room up as a secure base for the time being. Shalev, Ishmael, and KelLyn worked to move all of the food supplies from the kitchen and pantry into this room, as well as the barrel of water, and one barrel of wine. We cleared out space on the floors, and made a rather comfortable camp using the carpets and bed hangings, as well as other furniture we found there in the room.
We will rest here, resupply, and then make the decision on whether or not to finish exploring this floor, or venture down into the dark.
I do wonder, cautiously, at the seeming emptiness of the tomb so far. The groups that we have encountered have been small parties, and I fear that the bulk of our enemies still lie before us either in undiscovered rooms, or below us. For who knows how deep this decrepit tomb delves beneath the odious swamp? The supplies that were in the kitchen, and the layout of the barracks suggest much larger numbers than we have currently encountered. The noise that the party has made has been enough that it should have alerted others to our presence, and yet we remain - so far - unmolested in our explorations, save for those groups we have encountered individually. But why would they not attack? I feel like the bats should also be a clue, but I have nothing in my memory, or in any legend that says what they might foretell.