Sunday, April 19, 2015

A Dagger and a Key

The basin, which activated the switch that revealed the staircase, was completely cleaned of all dirt and dust, but had the remnants of a sticky red liquid that was mostly dried and caked on the inside of the bowl. “These are new.” Finfer said. The same evil deity symbols that were painted all around the room, were now painted all over the podium, as well. Even the wooden plank floor, once covered in debris and dirt, was now clean and covered with various non-religious symbols. Freija and Willow pushed the pedestal to reveal the staircase, and we went back downstairs, Finfer’s drift globe leading the way. Like the upper level, the room that contained the undead and skeletons was cleaned of all debris and dust, and all skeleton and undead bodies were removed. Perplexed, we continued through the door to the room that contained the mummy. All bodies, even the one of the mummy, were gone, and this room was spotless, as well. All sarcophagi were opened save one, but they were all empty. The pitons guarding the secret door Finfer had found were missing. “This is all very peculiar.” Temporalis said. Freija agreed. “I don’t like it. Why has everything been cleaned? Who cleaned it? Are they still here?” I looked at the secret door. “There is one way to find out.” I said.

Willow and I approached the secret door and paused outside, listening intently. “I do not hear anything on the other side of this wall.” I said. “Nor do I.” Willow agreed. Freija stepped up. “Finfer, would you mind opening it? I’ll go through first, with Willow behind me. Eloni, you, Temporalis, and Finfer can bring up the rear.” Finfer located the switch to activate the door, and it opened with a loud click. Cautiously, Freija started through the door, relying on her drow eyes to see in the dark without being noticed. Moments later, she returned, a look of determination on her dark features. “There are undead, maybe four of them, and a wight. And I believe they saw me.” As soon as she finished the sentence, an arrow whizzed just past her head, clanking off the wall behind us, confirming her belief. She immediately ducked and moved away as the undead began pouring into the room.

Finfer tossed his drift globe behind the undead, illuminating the longbow-wielding wight. It released another arrow aimed at Finfer, but he ducked and rolled away, loading a bolt into his crossbow as he did so, and shot an undead creature in the back of the neck, dropping it. The wight appeared in the doorway and released two arrows in quick succession, one hitting Freija in the arm, and the other hitting Willow in the leg. Temporalis thrust out a hand and tendrils of dark magic swirled from his fingertips, but hit the wall next to the wight. It cackled and moved toward me as I drew back on my bow, lodging an arrow in its shoulder. Undead swirled around Freija, Willow, and Finfer as Temporalis and I continued to battle the wight. It charged Temporalis and raked him across the chest with a claw, causing him to scream and drop to a knee. Freija started to move toward him but he held up a hand. “I’m fine! I’ll be fine!” He swirled his hands around in front of him and three duplicates of himself appeared. The wight attacked Temporalis again, but destroyed one of his duplicates instead of harming him. I planted an arrow in its back. Willow sliced a head off an undead. Temporalis thrust his hands out again, releasing a swirling wave of dark magic that caught the wight right in the neck, and it fell to the ground, writhing, then was still.. I planted an arrow in the ear of an undead creature, just as Freija finished hacking the remaining one to pieces.

“Is everyone ok?” Freija asked, panting from the effort. “I could use a bit of assistance, now that you mention it.” Temporalis responded. The rest of us sounded off that we were fine, or only had minor injuries that did not require much attention. We took a few moments to gather our belongings and catch our breath, then proceeded through the secret door, to see what else was waiting for us in next room. Surprisingly, the secret room was empty. There were no tables, or barrels, or anything, except for a door on the opposite side. Finfer inspected it for a moment. “I don’t see any traps. You could probably open it.” He stepped back behind Temporalis as Freija pushed on the door, leading the way into the next room.

A horde of undead was waiting for us on the other side of the door. Temporalis rushed past Freija, drawing the attention of a few undead away from the rest of the group. “Temporalis, what are you doing?” Freija cried out. “Just trust me!” he responded, his last two remaining mirror images flanking him. We took up positions just inside the door and started in on the remaining undead, in the hopes that not all of them would surround Temporalis. Temporalis produced a swirling ball of dark magic between his hands. Suddenly, he smacked his hands together then thrust them outward away from his body, sending the building magic out to engulf the undead surrounding him. They all melted to the floor. I stood there, mouth open, completely amazed at what had just happened. I had never seen anything like it before. Willow nudged me. “Eloni” she said. “We could use your help!” Her plea snapped me back to reality and I drew back on my bow, releasing arrows at the remaining few undead. Once we had eliminated them, I asked Temporalis, ”What was that?” He shrugged, nonchalantly. “Just a little spell I know. It’s very circumstantial. That was a good circumstance.”

The room led to a long hallway with no doors. I paused at the start of the hallway and crouched, placing my hands on the floor. “It’s empty” I stated. “There isn’t anything down there.” Still, we cautiously explored the hallway, Freija in the front, until we reached an intersection. Ahead, the hallway appeared to come to a point. To the left, there was a short hallway with three small alcoves on one side and a door at the end, and a small hallway leading to a single, round door to the right. “I recognize this.” Finfer said. “These hallways are shaped like the crime syndicate tattoo from that guy we captured in woods.” We went to the right, toward the round door, in the section of the hallway shaped like a keyhole.

Finfer checked to see if the door was trapped, and satisfied there were none, Freija went through the door. Once we all had crossed the threshold, the door slammed shut behind us and two large undead creatures came around the bend, larger than we had seen before. Freija tried the door - it was locked, and wouldn’t budge. Willow morphed into a bear and charged one, raking her claws across its torso. Temporalis place his fingertips to his temples and focused intently on the first undead creature. “Your work here is sub-par.” he said to it, and it responded by growling at him. From behind us, we hear Finfer call out “I can’t see in here, my globe is in the other room!” Four small purple candle fires appeared above our heads, illuminating our positions and revealing that this room was not so much a room, but a wide circular hallway winding around what appeared to be an interior room, much like a keyhole. I shot an arrow at the other undead as Temporalis said to it “My, aren’t you looking lovely tonight!” It screeched, running into the wall headfirst. Freija, confused by what Temporalis was doing, took the opportunity to behead it. The first one had followed the hallway around in the opposite direction and came up behind me, clawing my shoulder. I turned and stabbed it in the torso with a short sword just as Temporalis spun around, fingertips still to his temples, and said “Your skin looks so smooth and fresh!” The undead groaned and started toward Temporalis, but Willow was there and used her bear claws to bring the undead to the ground as Finfer planted a dagger in its temple. Freija came to assess my wounded shoulder as Finfer walked around the hallway, using the purple lights to help him see. “What was all that about, Temporalis?” Freija asked. “Undead don’t like compliments.” he said.

Before she could respond, Finfer called out “There’s a door over here, but I don’t see how to open it.” We followed Finfer to the door, which was located on the interior of the hallway, toward the keyhole, so to speak. Finfer and I looked all around but could not find a switch anywhere to activate the door. It contained no hinges or knobs or latches or anything - just a solid door. We heard a loud click coming from the direction of the door we entered, and found that it was unlocked and open. Freija led the way out of the round door and back out into the hallway, slowly, in case anything else decided to pop up. We passed the intersection where the dagger-shaped hallway intersected with the key-shaped hallway, and proceeded to the other door. After Finfer determined it was safe and unlocked, Freija opened it to reveal a small room with an indentation on the opposite side that looked like a square stone or block could fit. There was a horrid smell caused by a ghast in the corner. Freija immediately ran up to the ghast, sword in hand, and sliced at it, but she barely hit it. It immediately put an arm out to intercept her, and the moment it touched her, she was completely paralyzed. Temporalis and I ran in behind her, me shooting it with an arrow, but it was Temporalis’ magic that caused it to evaporate. Once the ghast was gone, Freija’s paralysis went away. Willow had morphed back into an elf to fit through the door, so she, Freija, and Finfer approached the indentation on the wall to take a closer look. “Nothing looks out of the ordinary” Willow said. Finfer tried to mess with it, using his thieves tools, but nothing happened. “Hey” he said, when he was on the floor inspecting the lower part of the indented area. “This looks like it could open. Like a door of some sort.” Temporalis looked around. “I don’t think it would be prudent to proceed at this point. I believe resting would be smart, and we explore further tomorrow.” We agreed almost unanimously, so Freija and Willow dragged a nearby bench to barricade the door. We wedged the door we came in, and settled in for our watch shifts and sleep.

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