After facing the mighty kracken, our heroes arrived at an island far out to sea. They soon landed and found the camp of the Knights of the Black Window. Other adventurers had also joined the camp, including one of Thorir’s old buddies and a dragonborn cleric of Ioun. A very, very tall lady informed the party that they had sent a strike team into the Tomb, but there had been no word of them since. She hoped the party would have better luck, and sent them in with a special token which would inform the camp of any deaths so they could send a reinforcement.
After this unsettling bit of instruction, our heroes entered the fabled Tomb of Gorstag’s dark master, Gandling, formerly known as the demilich Acererak. A rough cavern entrance soon gave way to an ornate hallway with a mosaic floor with a crimson path weaving and snaking down its length, and frescoes adorning the walls. Dak spotted the beginnings of a message hidden in the mosaic, and began to translate. The rhyme described the Tomb and its defenses, and gave (possibly nefarious?) hints regarding the obstacles ahead. The first paragraph was as follows:
Go back to the tormenter or through the arch, and the second great hall you’ll discover. Sun green if you can, but night’s good color is for those of great valor. If shades of red stand for blood the wise will not need sacrifice aught but a loop of magical metal – you’re well along your march.
Noting a fresco of a torture chamber, Thorir walked right up to it and activated the first trap of the day. Fortunately, the trapdoor was a bit rusty, and Thorir managed to hop aside before falling to his doom. After that, the party became very paranoid. Due to the poor lighting, nobody could spot traps until they were nearly upon it. What followed resembled a flock of blind men meandering down a hallway, using javelins to test the path ahead. After finding and forcing open four more traps, thanks to Dak and Abraxus’ pretty sweet eyes, Thorir’s big ol’ arms, and Sunny’s intimate knowledge of lockpicking, the party came upon a sickly green stone devil face and a misty archway. They also found the rest of the message, which read:
Two pits along the way will be found which lead to a fortuitous fall, so check the wall. These keys and those are most important of all, and beware of trembling hands and what will maul. If you find the false, you find the true and into the columned hall you’ll come, and there the throne that’s key and keyed.
The iron men of visage grim do more than meets the viewer’s eye. You’ve left and left and found my tomb and now your soul will die.
Paranoid as ever, the party chose to ignore the devil face and instead focused on the archway. As they approached it, three stones began to glow, yellow, blue and orange. Dak and Gorstag used their arcane abilities to discern the teleporting nature of the archway, and that the stones should be pressed in a specific order to operate the archway safely. Trying to avoid green, they refused to press yellow and blue one after the other, but that wound up being the correct combination. Sunny at one point tried to start using various permutations instead of combinations, but Abraxus put an end to that. Before completing the correct pattern, Dak threw his old brooch of healing into the archway, but nobody heard it hit the ground on the other side. With the archway cleared, the party threw some calamari into the portal, since they had plenty (they killed a kracken). Nothing happened. Thorir stuck his spear inside, and it was ripped out of his hands! He tried the same thing again and again with some javelins, all with the same result. Eventually, everyone decided to just step through and see what happened.
Everyone was teleported to a twenty-by-ten room with an eight feet tall gargoyle statue with three connected arms and one other on the ground. Again, arcane investigation revealed that a series of repeated actions would unlock this puzzle, and keen eyes notices crushed gems on the ground and small indentations in the palms of this statue. Dak stuck some gems in the indentations, and the statue crushed them. Then, in a terribly annoyingly sly sort of way, he used his Make Whole ritual to reform the gems and repeat twice more. The mouth of the statue opened to reveal a message: Your sacrifice was not in vain. Look to the fourth to find your gain. In the fourth palm, they found a gem of seeing, which is super useful at seeing invisible stuff.
After a short crawl through a crawlspace, the party arrived in the second hallway, as promised. Along the walls, various creatures held various luminescent orbs. Some of these orbs were just paint on wall, but others were illusions, like the one from which they just crawled. Gorstag tested one and took a magical spear to the face. Then he used his mage hand on the others, and caught Abraxus with another magical spear. What a good friend that Gorstag is. After their follies, the party got smart and checked the rest of the hallway safely. They found a few other illusions. One sphere hid a door which could only be opened from the other side (hm…), the black one (night’s good color, as Dak quickly discerned) led to a crawlspace, as did the red one. Another misty archway awaited at the end of the hall, but the colors on this one were kinda gross, so the party ignored it.
Anticipating the need for a “loop of magical metal,” Gorstag used his affinity for flames while Thorir used his skill with a hammer to forge a ring, which Dak would then enchant. Clever boys. Meanwhile, Sunny, Dak and Abraxus went into the red sphere and followed it to a dead end. With a good push, Abraxus opened the secret door and avoided the resulting cave in of the last bit of crawlspace. The three adventurers found themselves in a small room with three chests, one gold, one silver, and one oaken. Sunny chose to open the oaken chest, and a scimitar-wielding skeleton jumped out! The fight was on, and going pretty well until Dak’s area power popped open the silver chest, which started firing force darts everywhere. Sunny left the fight to focus on disarming the chest, and Abraxus nearly died (a few times) in the process. Fortunately, he managed to hold onto a single hit point, and made it. Sunny disarmed the chest (barely) just in time to finish off the skeleton. Inside the silver chest, they found a magical ring in a crystal box. They eyed the golden chest, but decided to collect the whole party. After grabbing Thorir and Gorstag, the party opened the chest and quickly dispatched the horde of vipers which emerged.
With that done, the party tried the black sphere, and followed a long, winding crawlspace to its conclusion. Noticing the secret door, Thorir broke it down and entered into a chapel. Abraxus could tell that the chapel was strangely enough consecrated to good. The party checked the pews and found almost literally a mountain of coin. The two front pews were clearly trapped, however, so the party took a step back and opened them anyway via mage hand. Gas flooded the chapel and filled the whole thing. Fortunately, the gas hit the party in a dissipated form, but it hurt nonetheless. At the front of the chapel, a blue altar glowed with the signs of Avandra, Moradin, Bahamut, and Pelor (oddly). There was also the corpse of a Knight of the Black Window pointing with his sword at an orange misty archway. The party considered the archway for a bit, but then noticed a slot in the opposite wall. Above the slot, someone had scratched a circle into the stone. Thorir tossed their new magical loop into the slot, and the wall opened up, crushing the loop in the process.
The party found themselves in a ten feet wide hallway with a door at the end. Thorir and Abraxus took point. Just on the other side of the door awaited a pit trap, which Sunny jimmied shut. Fifteen feet later, the same setup awaited. Sunny opened this one, which forced the whole party to climb down, cross, and climb up with the help of Thorir and a rope. Sunny expertly jimmied the third trap beyond the third door. After that, a nearly 200 feet long hallway awaited around a corner. The party, in a paranoid fashion, checked for traps every few feet. No traps were found. At the end of the hallway, a door with several rusted locks blocked the path to what sounded like happy partytimes. Thorir immediately went to work with Abraxus to smash the door down. When the door gave way, the party saw torchlight and screams fading in the distance. Moving as one, the party advanced down the hallway…until Dak stepped just a bit too far.
The whole hallway tilted down, hinged at the doorway, and the end of the hall opened up to a vent into the Elemental Chaos. Flames spewed forth an roasted the party. Sunny managed to deftly climb back up and tossed a rope down to help the others. Thorir also made it up easily and tried to lasso Dak, but missed. Gorstag managed to make it up with relative ease somehow, and Abraxus followed shortly after. Dak… well Dak had some problems. He’s not exactly athletic, so his climb was a struggle. In fact, he nearly got himself incinerated. Fortunately, at the last possible moment, he made it out. The party took a breather and backtracked. A secret passage was found at the bottom of the third pit trap, so our heroes steeled themselves for whatever was to come.
What further horrors will our heroes face? Will they all make it out alive? Will Dak ever learn the value of going to the gym between saving the world and conducting espionage? Find out next time!