To Rise from the Ashes

Finishing with the tomb
and making for friendly territory

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Luc and Amarack broke open the secret door and were immediately greeted by a highly agitated Deaton, who trie to push his way into the small chamber. Thaldayn stood to the side and shouted that the beast had arrived and along with its roaring, was reaching out at them with several tentacles. Realizing that they couldn’t escape quickly enough to ensure that all four men would be safe, they poured into the room to attack. Lashing out with bow and spell, they sought to damage or at least slow the creature, while Luc turned invisible and moved closer to the thing.

Tentacles, two inches thick, grabbed both Deaton and Amarack and began pulling them quickly closer to the snapping maw of the beast. Thaldayn knocked one aside with his shield and moved forward to attack.

Slinging spells and then melee blows, Thaldayn and Luc damaged and slowed the creature, respectively, while Amarack called on divine power to whither the tentacle that held him – then taking the opportunity to charge the thing with his warhammer. Deaton, meanwhile, was dragged into its mouth and was immediately chomped on, covering him in slime and threatening to crush him.

The team fought furiously to kill the beast as it tried to withdraw with its lunch, and before it could recede into the hall the killing blow was struck, seeing it collapse on top of the seriously injured Deaton. Taking some time for rest and recuperation, they were able to get their bearings about them and explore the room, too.

The room appeared to be something of a theater for the ages, chronicling the life and accomplishments of the OO’Stroch’KA, a seemingly important leader many thousands of years ago among the Dhakaani hobgoblins. Illusory scenes came to life on the walls depicting his involvement in the construction if the Six Kings monuments in the Graywall Mountains, as well as contributing to two great victories in war, one significant peace accord between hobgoblin groups, a major building project in what is now Darguun (at an ancient site known as Drach’Dach’Bol), serving as an advisor to a powerful king (looks like Mor’Kech’BRA, of the 4th Dynasty), and finally in his twilight years, still seen as a go-to guy for advice at some palace on the southern slopes of the Seawalls.

The OO’s tomb, at the other end of the hall, held the preserved OO’, some funerary goods of little value, and a few things of note: a +1 longsword, +1 longbow, an adamantine chain shirt, and a Pearl of Power (arcane). Additionally, there was about 1800GP worth of gems found along with him.

Departing the tomb complex, the team confirmed that their Tumbler (not theirs, I suppose) was gone, and that they’d need to walk home. Two days into their trek back to the mining camp and New Cyre beyond it they came across a trail that bisected their own, with moderate foot traffic heading north. The next day they came upon another such trail, with even more foot traffic. Following this second one they found the remnants of a camp, probably 2 or 3 days old, as well as evidence of some horses and perhaps 40 or 50 humanoids, along with a small number of giant-sized humanoids, all heading north into Breland.

Fearing an attack of some sort on their home they took off in pursuit of this second group but could not find them, beyond more evidence of their movement north. Once in the foothills of the northern slopes of the Seawalls, and in Breland, they decided to make for Drellin’s Crossing, a small Brelish town about 40 miles to the east of New Cyre, and connected to their home by both road and river. Within a few miles of the town and in sight of its watchtower the group was ambushed by several hobgoblins and their two hell hounds. Deaton snuck up on two, killing one and knocking the other unconscious with his poison, and the other four attacked.

It was a fierce fight, with Amarack being knocked out twice by melee blows and hell hound fire, but eventually the team – battered and singed – defeated all but one of the hobgoblins, who cut and ran when it was clear that although their ambush was well-planned, they’d taken on a group that was above their pay grade. Although Deaton thought for a moment about pursuing the escapee, they decided instead to make quickly for the town, carrying their prisoner along – better to seek shelter than to tempt fate, especially given their battered conditions.

30 minutes later they approached the tower at the edge of town – a town with no wall or palisade – and were approached by a human guard.

“What brings you to Drellin’s Crossing, and what trouble have you had?” he asks as he approaches cautiously, with two other guards standing back and to his sides, looking somewhat prepared.

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Reunited - and just in time
no time to trade stories - there's danger ahead!

Thaldayn and Deaton sat for what was likely hours, waiting for the scratching and pushing to end. Finally the sounds of scraping and scooting back toward the tomb they’d exited died down. Exhausted from their day, the two decided to rest in the partially-collapsed cylinder room, finding places of relative comfort among the rubble. There was no way they could get up to the 2nd level, and the entry far above to the 1st level was collapsed. Unless they could find another way out of this room, they’d need to try their luck in what they assumed would be another room down the hall, opposite from the tomb with the tentacled beast in it.


Luc and Amarack resumed their digging the next day, and by mid-day had made surprisingly good progress, uncovering what was left of a secret door much like the others they’d found elsewhere. Cautiously they headed down the steep, winding stairs until they reached a small landing, where the tunnel headed off to the left, sloping downward slightly for some distance. At the end of this passage was another tight spiral down, which took them to the back of yet another secret door. The builders of this tomb had a consistent approach to their individual burial rooms, each of which had an additional, secret means of entry and exit. These doors, however, were not meant for casual use, given that all of them were concealed with plaster and a false wall. Opening such a door meant destroying the wall. The reasons behind this consistent approach were a mystery; the existence and utility of the doors was not.


After waking and finishing what little food and water they had between them, Thaldayn and Deaton listened for the beast. Hearing nothing, they slowly, carefully, and as quietly as possible began removing enough rubble from the doorway to get through unnoticed – they hoped. Given the fine job they’d done barricading themselves into the room it took time, but eventually there was a large enough hole to move through stealthily. Both men climbed through, using no light at all – only Deaton’s goggles provided vision, and only for him. Thaldayn kept his hand on Deaton’s shoulder as they moved to the left, away from the tomb and the beast. Moving and breathing so slowly took its toll, with muscle aches and nerves adding to their exhaustion. The 60 or so feet down the passageway took what seemed like an eternity, but finally the two moved into a large room, much like the one in which they’d encountered the beast, albeit with a raised platform with a pillar in each corner in the center of the room, rather than a tomb. On the platform sat a table with some things on it, obscured by distance, dust, and height.


Amarack and Luc began working at the backside of the secret door, hoping that it would provide access to their friends. Blows from Amarack’s warhammer began knocking aside pieces of plaster.


Moments after Thaldayn and Deaton entered the room they began searching for a secret door, starting in the general area where they’d found the one on the 2nd floor. A pounding noise suddenly interrupted their search, along with vibrations from a section of wall between them – something, or someone, was attempting to break through. Plaster cracked and the shape of the door began to take form as it was pulled inward by whoever was on the other side. Drawing their weapons out of caution and reflex, the two men also heard a familiar, dreaded scraping, scooting sound well behind them, getting louder between the echoing blows about to break open the door.

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Trapped
tomb raiders, or entombed?

The four Cyrans entered the room with the single tomb, and a second later the 8 foot suit of armor animated, moving to block their way toward the tomb and swinging a huge metal club. Luc, ready with the Wand of Web, blasted it in sticky fibers, slowing its movement while the others circled around it to attack. Amarack and Luc alternated blasting it with spells while Thaldayn got up close to attack with his sword. Deaton circled around behind it, but had little luck hitting its massive, armored form. Spells and sword blows filled the chamber with sparks and noise, and Thaldayn was beaten within a inch of collapsing, before withdrawing and being given one of the party’s three healing potions. Meanwhile Luc hit the thing with blasts of lightning, scorching it and sending cascades of electricity into the walls, floor and ceiling. Amarack hammered home with his warhammer and spells, and the thing finally blew apart – literally, and in a final blast of fire, filling the chamber with a last attempt to strike down the intruders.

All but Amarack were able to shield themselves, and it took his divine magic to heal himself and other others.

The tomb itself held the body of what appeared to be an important hobgoblin, but not the one for whom the complex was named. Still, the perfectly-preserved body (owing to magic) held in its hands a scroll of Passwall and a platinum chain with ten charms on it, equal in function to a Chime of Opening. The tomb also held in it the equivalent of 2409 in GP and 1100 in precious gems.

Upon finding a portion of the painted plaster wall that appeared to hide a secret door, the group heard sounds from down the hall and in the cylindrical chamber. Deaton snuck down the hall to investigate and came back quickly to report that hobgoblins were about the place!

Moving quickly down the hall to the opening to the cylindrical chamber, the team discovered that their ropes had been cut and that there were hobgoblins above and below them. An exchange of threats, arrows, some spells, and sharp words ensued, ending in a stalemate as however many hobgoblins were exploring the tomb’s third level down apparently came upon a superior foe and were routed.

At this point the team decided that Deaton and Thaldayn should try and open what was believed to be that secret door, and those two took off at a trot down the hall to the room they’d all just cleared.


Meta
Since the party is split now, your individual situations are described in player secrets below. Please edit those to add comments about what you’re doing, so as to keep the other half of the party out of the loop – after all, you’ve no idea what the others are doing. You know each other are alive, but that’s it.

Only add public comments to this post if they are relevant and limited to the shared action summarized above, or you four somehow get back together while we’re between live sessions, which I’ll make clear if it happens.

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The Tomb of T'Rach, 2nd OO' of the Str'Tach Dynasty
A tomb, partially looted...are there still secrets within?

The team methodically moved from tunnel to tunnel, trying to discover a way into the mountain and whatever it held. Of the six tunnels, the first 4 led to what amounted to death traps, all in the form of vertical shafts and smooth floors. The unwary explorer would find a sudden and nasty way down, one way, in those. The fifth tunnel, on the right side of the entry chamber, led deeper into the mountain, and showed the same signs of some improvement to a natural tunnel, along with regular chalk marks, up to a point – this had been surveyed, and recently.

Some distance after the last chalk mark the tunnel ended in a chamber, within which was a doorway, about 5 feet wide, carved with ancient Dhakaani script and inlaid with reinforcing metal. After some time examining it, trying to find a switch or keyhole, and finally trying to force it open with a crowbar, Luc pulled out the party’s Knock scroll and read it. A loud “whack!” sound was heard, the script on the velum disappeared into the air as if fine fireplace ash, and nothing happened. Frustrated by their lack of progress and having just wasted a scroll, the party stood thinking for a moment.

Thaldayn – not always the most thoughtful of the group – piped up. “Those chalk marks stopped suddenly, and there’s nothing like that in here. Maybe that’s worth looking at again.” Lacking any other clear way forward, the team agreed and after some time carefully examining the tunnel discovered a hidden handle which, when pulled, opened an expertly-concealed secret door.

The hall behind it led quickly into a large chamber housing 12 separate mini-tombs, and the far end of the chamber was collapsed, buried under a long-ago cave in. There were also three ways out of the room: an open doorway on the left side, a door next to that, and an opening in the rubble in the back corner. Examining the room took a dangerous turn when a curious Deaton tripped a pressure plate in front of one of the tombs, which in turn opened 10 of the 12 doors, releasing zombie guards held within each. The fight was quick and decisive, led off with Amarack bathing the room with divine power, sending several of the creatures scurrying for the far exit into the rubble. The others, weakened by centuries in their tombs, were quickly cut down by the team.

Upon examination, the door led into a grave good storage room, with stations equal in number to the tombs just found. It had been recently looted of anything of value. The open doorway led to a reflection chamber of some sort, with images and carvings on the walls of hobgoblin majesty and conquest. A door led out of that room, deeper into the mountain.

Beyond that door was a long room with crumbling wooden benches along the walls and an empty font in the center. Amarack noted that it seemed like a room for ritual cleansing, common among the Dhakaani. Deciding that it was time to rudely mark the place, Luc, smirking and chuckling like a 13 year-old boy, began to urinate in the font, causing the fire trap in it to be triggered, burning him somewhat and Thaldayn more.

After an hour or so to recuperate and apply copious amounts of petroleum jelly to exposed, roasted skin, and dispatching the few zombies in the outer chamber, the team explored some more. Finding another chamber, also looted, they found no ways deeper into the mountain.


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Beyond the rubble they found their greatest threat of the day, a bulette hiding amongst (and likely partially responsible for) the piles of broken rock. Leaping at Deaton, the vicious beast bit and clawed at everyone in range. Luc and Amarack expertly weaved spells that slowed it considerably and harried it with angelic spirits. Despite their coordination and heavy blows, the creature chomped down on Thaldayn, knocking him out, and then made to escape with its would-be meal. The others sprang into action, pursuing it and killing the creature.

Due to Thaldayn’s injuries and the overall fatigue of the party, they made their way back to the tumbler to spend the night, get cleaned up, and prepare for another day.


The name of the tomb – that is, based on its stated occupant – is evident from script in the room with the font and on most doorways throughout both the first and second level.


Meta

You know what else happened. I asked last night if someone else – sometimes – could do the write-up, or at least part. If any of you are moved to erase this and replace it with what happened on the 2nd level, please do so. Sometimes my creative energy for writing is low.

That said, you found nothing of value. The place has been looted, with the first level quite recently and the second level perhaps recently, perhaps long ago; it’s hard to tell. The second tomb on the second level is the one with the 8 foot tall armored guardian/statue/something or another. You’re about 25 feet from it at the doorway and it’s not moving.

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Comin't'gitcha
About 7 feet of damp clay, with one oversized arm

Meta: Direct all comments to this post from now until game night.

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Deaton, shouting to his comrades, looses and arrow and steps aside to make room for Luc, who blasts the thing with his Wand of Web.

The arrow strikes it, sticks in its torso, and the thing doesn’t notice it at all. The webs cover it and slow it a little before it breaks the web free from the floor and lumbers forward, tearing and thrashing at the web stuck to it, ripping it. It’s slowed for now, but not for long.

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A dope ride and a new challenge
every hero needs a ride

The tumbler and her pilot, T’rAhn, blended nicely into the growing notoriety surrounding the team. Bowdry ir’Divar knew there was much to them, and some others in New Cyre had started to guess, too, that there was more to the four men than confidence and a willingness to help out others. Every time they passed through, momentous things seemed to follow. Perhaps they were associated with the shadowy Sons of Oblivion, some thought.
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-

The tumbler had in it, in addition to water and food supplies, maps, tools, and other useful items relevant to its use, several items of Dhaakani origin, some of them magic:

  • Dust of Dryness, 7 pinches
  • Potion of Growth
  • Potion of Giant Strength
  • Goggles of Night
  • Wand of Webs, 6 charges currently in it
  • 2 carved bone statuettes
  • Set of carved bone dice – very nice
  • Gold bracelet – also very nice

Additionally, the party had a total of 400GP in coin and 400GP worth of gems after paying T’rAhn a month’s salary and footing the bill for a six-man team to secure and study the cave complex where Mourning Mist was found – and found to be noticeably diminished after a week.

Moving deeper southward into the mountains another 50 miles, the team traveled by tumbler to the site of a set of very ancient Dhaakani tunnels – partially-improved caves at first glance – found tucked into the side of a mountain, accessible through a crag in the hillside. The tumbler and its pilot parked outside, blocking easy access from the mountain path, and the 4-man team entered, going down a dark, carved stone stairwell which ended in a wide cavern with six base relief hobgoblin faces carved into different points along the walls, each next to a tunnel leading out of the room. When approached each mouth bellowed in hobgoblin “This is not the way!” Deciding to investigate a smaller side tunnel in the stairwell first, Deaton found himself attacked by a swam of stirges, which only got a taste of his blood before Luc blasted them and their flying fellows with a fireball, which again he was able to deftly steer around his friends.
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Taking a short breather before continuing, the team considered their options. The cavern was dark aside from some faint patches of semi-luminescent mold and fungus here and there. The walls were natural, with some improvements. The floor was the same. Dust and dirt on the floor betrayed the fact that others had been in here recently, however, it was unclear which direction they’d taken out of the oblong chamber. Now that the buzzing from the stirges was gone, the faint movement of air could be heard coming from deeper inside the mountain.

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Far off...
a shift in direction

The old hobgoblin listened as his assistant went through the last report from J’rq’RA. The pool had been left open for a time, and it seemed clear that the cavern had been penetrated and the contingent attacked. The lack of contact over the last day seemed to confirm his suspicion that the ‘RA was dead. He knew his place and his responsibilities: he’d have contacted him if he’d been able to.

A loss, for certain, and not only for this particular ‘RA, who’d shown great potential. Material losses had meaning too, and that expedition had been outfitted well. The elder gritted his teeth unconsciously at the thought.

No matter. Work would continue. J’rq had made a major breakthrough, and those who’d follow him would build on his successes.

“Bring the next ’RA” he called to his assistant, not even looking up from his papers as he spoke. Minutes later two hobgoblins returned, one a tall armored, bald one with an eye patch, and older. This ‘RA, from peasant family of no recent remark, would do well. He’d risen through the ranks, mastering troops, the arts of war and magic, and would take what J’rq had done to the next step…maybe even to the final step.

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Even the best laid plans...
can fall apart

J’rq’RA‘s corpse lay on the cave floor, its face smashed and singed, armor blown away in places. He’d almost made it into the side chamber, where the thrumming noise and vibrations originated, but Amarack had run him down, blasting him first with a bolt of divine power and then caving in the left side of his head with a weapon blow.

A half-breath later Luc, surrounded by raging goblins, called on arcane forces to create the greatest wave of thunder he could muster, knocking them back and down, while ignoring entirely his friends. With the bugbear and hobgoblin dead, the Cyrans made quick work of the remaining goblins. Aside from the possibility that some were still alive elsewhere in the cave complex, the rotten buggers were all dead.

Surveying the immediate area, the team found what Deaton had discovered earlier: a goblin flop, with small piles of filthy rags, food scraps, and offal. The chamber where the thrumming still came from was a little nicer, with some makeshift furniture and a few boxes here and there, but the main feature in the chamber was the dome of odd-looking rock, vibrating. The stone clearly did not match that of the rest of the room, and the thrumming and vibrating continued. It was as if it were a great bubble of rock, welling up into this chamber, although at this point it was not moving – or not perceptibly so. If touched, the surface is the same temperature as the rest of the room, and the whole thing vibrates noticeably, irregularly skipping a beat – like a big engine idling. The floor around the edge of the thing is slightly blurry – like when you put some water in sand and vibrate it. You can’t separate it from the floor – can’t stick anything in between it and the floor around it – but it doesn’t look like it’s part of the floor.

The greatest shock lay in the room where the critters were performing their ritual. The fire had gone out, and the pit in which it’d been was now obscured by thick mist. The temperature was quickly dropping in the chamber, and the humidity rising to a clammy level. Several torches in sconces along the walls illuminated the mist, which had stabilized into a column about 8 feet in diameter and reaching the ceiling 9 feet above. The grey mist was unmistakable in color, smell, and presence: it was the mist of the Mournland, somehow transported or manifested here.


Meta
I figure that you’d explore the caverns, so you can see the map here. The chambers, by number, are listed below. Open this link in another tab so you can refer back and forth between it and the list below.

1. Entry hall: nothing here, although when you go back the door is open.
2. Overlooks: these are only accessible from the small tunnels enlarged from area #1, and provide a good view of both the entry area and the area down below in front of the rock face.
3. Main chamber: this is where the goblins and bugbears, it seemed, slept, ate, pooped, and whatnot. The water falls from the ceiling near the back, making for a good amount of background noise (you need to raise your voice to be heard).
4. This chamber is mostly empty, aside from the junk – broken boards and some rotten food – dumped here.
5. This is where it appears the hobgoblin had his space, and this is where the rock dome is thrumming away. The dome is in the area on the left side of the room (if you look at the map, there’s the #5, a constricted area to its left, then another open area – that’s where the dome is).
6. This is where the ritual took place and where the column of Mourning Mist stands, right over the #6.
7. Not much here aside from the winch mechanism and the water flowing out of the wall and through the hole in the floor..
8. The largest chamber, humid and load and misty due to the waterfall, it has several wagons, some boxes, and other items either brought by the monsters or stolen by them. One of the wagons is definitely from the mine, and has tools in it. After some inspection a larger exit is found, hidden behind vines and brush next to the stream.

As for loot, there’s a decent amount of mundane coin lying about, equalling 570GPa, plus 16 different gems worth around 400 total.. The hobgoblin is wearing a nice gold bracelet of ancient Dhaakani design – it’s worth 25GP or so, maybe more to a collector.

Additionally, upon inspection the morning star taken outside is +1.

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A Foothold for Dirty Deeds
and checking in with the boss

J’rq’RA stepped out of the smoke-filled room and into a larger side chamber. He needed to check in and provide an update, but this was an inconvenient time, at best.

Stepping up onto the deck he grabbed for the pitcher of blood and poured it into the basin. Moments later, as the warm liquid mixed with what was already there, an image of a distant chamber came into view, and soon thereafter the face of a wizened hobgoblin clarified.

As the older hobgoblin looked on in a nearly blank stare, J’rq’RA broke the silence.

“Master, our work proceeds apace…I expect a breakthrough today…”

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Back to the Mountains
Rescuing compatriots and looking for friends

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“They came at us from all directions, felling Xor’tR first, then firing more arrows. We immediately counterattacked and pursued them into the woods, where more were hiding, and remember that our patrol had not returned so there were many of them and…” the goblin droned before being cut off by the larger, hairy beast.

“So they’ve come for revenge? Fine. Oz’rech!” he boomed, waving a clawed hand toward another large beast-man much like himself. The camp was abuzz with activity for the next day, as the goblins packed their treasure and then moved deeper into the mountains, leaving a smaller group behind at the plateau camp, both bugbears among them. If the baldmen wanted a fight, they’d get one right here, thought Rr’bch’ta, the patrol leader. His master would be pleased when he brought the heads of the puny baldmen back as trophies. Although the thought of his goblin horde pouring over their enemies from all directions made for a pretty image in his mind he was okay with the departure of part of his patrol…the fewer the fighters, the more the glory for those who took part.

Two days later

Things had not gone as planned. The baldmen had arrived sooner than expected and had not moved so as to enable the goblinoids to deploy and surround them. And they had had several archers who could shoot well. Enraged by the death of his cousin, Rr’bch’ta charged into the fray once the baldmen made their way onto the plateau, seeking revenge and the glory he thought would have been his by now.


Upon closer examination of the campsite, no evidence of G’Toch or his possessions are found. Additionally, there are multiple tracks leading deeper into the mountains in various directions – clearly these little buggers were busy, and it seemed that they’d been using this site as a FOB for at least a week or more, given the amount of refuse and offal lying about. Of the different directions of tracks there are two that are most heavily-marked, along two paths off the plateau – one headed straight south generally toward a distant saddle, which is probably a pass; and another heading southwest, around a bend and up into much rougher terrain. The mountains continue to rise the farther south you go but they are steeper to the west.

It looks like it’s going to rain soon, too.

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