by Just Jae
The party must get the relics from hiding.
Escape and Back Again
Rather than explore further, the group headed back the way they came. They noticed that the skeletons didn't react when they sneaked into the room and approached the altar. Three lit oil lamps on the north wall illuminated the three open sarcophagi. One skeleton remained, standing near the western wall, holding a bow.
Along the south wall was a white marble dais with unlit oil braziers at each corner. A gleaming white sarcophagi and three statues occupied the dais. They found a dead cultist near the altar, killed by a sword. He had been dead for a few days.
On the sarcophagus there was a statue of a woman in a flowing gown. On her head was the outline of a tiara, on her wrists, the outline of metal bracers, on her neck was a blue-silver outline of a torc. The woman on the sarcophagus looked the same as the ghostly image Skrie saw at the old temple. The group decided that this must be the place where the items in the box must be returned to. Now they must go back to where the items were buried and get back inside.
The group chose the spiral staircase after exploring the upper and lower end. On the lower end they discovered a door, which they spiked shut. Heading down the stairs, they opened the trap door under the stairway and looked inside. Below the trap door, an old wooden platform with stairs going down is covered with dust. This place has obviously not been used in many years. The darkness went on seemingly forever, only the faint drip-drip of water far off could be heard.
Theren placed a Light spell on a dagger and handed it to Garrick so he and Skrie could see. The tunnel below the stairs was narrow and low. It had been cut directly from the rock, with a gradual rise. This was not a natural cavern.
About 100 feet down the tunnel they came to another set of old stairs. This one was also covered with dust, a few stair treads broken and floor boards missing. At the top of the stairs was another trap door. This door opened into the back of the western most mausoleum, behind the sarcophagus. Although the crypt had visitors in the past, it didn't look like anyone had visited in several years.
Taking a look outside, the group realized it was close to midnight. The area around them and the ruins was clear of cultists and undead so they headed back to their cave near the river.
The next day, the group had another good meal and sneaked up a hill near the village. They notice that several walls and the roof of the ruins have fallen in. Keeping watch on the village, they saw a number of changes. The north and west walls of the ruins have collapsed inward, except for one section. Stone rubble and wood roofing were all that was left.
There were fewer cultists and more zombies than before. The high priest, dressed in dusty black and red robes, was directing what few cultists were left. Coming from the ruins, a confrontation between the Drow and the High Priest starts. (The argument will be about the Priest not finding the artifact. He will tell her that it is hidden or too far away. Party hears scraps of conversation)
"We have searched within a mile of the village and it is not here or they have found a way to hide it. There are limits to the spell, Priestess, distance, time, or if it is buried under rock or metal."
Several zombies gathered firewood and a ceremony began. Red and black fire burst from the circle while the Drow chanted. When the fire burned away, the High Priest's and other bodies rose as zombies. The zombies gathered heavy tools and made their way to the other side of the ruins. Some of the zombies and the Drow went to the section of ruins that had not collapsed (north wall).
After waiting for some time, the group moved south and headed into the mausoleum. Going through the hidden door, down the stairs and tunnel, they returned to the hidden stairwell in the ruins. Checking the room beyond, they opened the door to the hallway. Looking down they saw two zombies at the end of the hall.
Malusk attacked the zombies as they approached. Garrick, Skrie, and Theren attack from a distance, finally killing the two. Just as the last one fell, two others appeared from the door on the west (the one that was spiked closed).
The group engages again, Malusk taking the brunt of the melee, with the others using crossbow and spells. Just as the last skeleton appeared to be defeated, a darkness with no light, or darkvision, can penetrate, falls. The last skeleton moves back into the darkness, as Malusk attacks it once more.
A booming voice comes from the darkness:
"You have thwarted my plans to acquire the rey'an, but there are other ancient devices in other ruins that will suit my purpose. The Cult of the One was a tool to a goal, but they have failed me here. Do not believe they have failed in other villages. What they seek does not lie beneath the ground, but above it. The more Believers that are convinced of their lies the more powerful their master becomes. He may be of use to me, later. More people come, but you will not survive to meet them."
As she spoke, Skrie moved to the western door nearest them, where the ghost's sarcophagus was. She pushed the door open and yelled at everyone to get inside. She ran out, telling Malusk to give her the box. As they fled to the doorway, a Giant Spider scurried down the hall after them. Malusk tossed his pack to Skrie. He stayed in the doorway, yelling at Garrick to get inside.
Next: "The Lady of Light"