Previously, on Phoenix Rising…
… No one else was around except for the small crew for the ship. Kimba told Kel that the people on the ship are completely trustworthy and will not betray anything. So our heroes boarded the Spelljammer and then took off in search of the Adella’s ancient tomb…
By mid-morning they had spotted the Lion Sleeps Inn on the banks of Usk Lake. There they knew to turn North-East to look in the foothills of the Mindspin Mountains. By late afternoon, they had found a site that looked like something out of the ordinary and landed. They had found hidden away between the hills an ancient walled enclave that had several large, ornate carvings of a medusa head with crossed-eyes and a rictus grin. They walked around to all of them and studied the carvings to see if there was anything at all different about them. And when they determined that there wasn’t, they set about attempting to enter the enclave.
Kel first inserted the funerary baton into the carved medusa’s mouth and found that the eyes began to glow with a blueish light when she did this, but nothing more happened. Asphodel suggested that Kel try turning the baton while it was inserted and when she did that they saw that the blueish light began to emanate outward from the carved head and envelop those standing near it, mainly Kel and Zola. She immediately took the baton out and the light instantly faded away. After some discussions, they determined to try it again and see what happened if they let whatever was happening finish. So Kel once again place the baton in the mouth of the carving and turned it. The light got brighter and reached outward to around 15 feet in a semicircular pattern from the carving. Then it looked like to the rest of the party that Kel and Zola were being shrunken and sucked into the medusa’s mouth. And then with a bright flash, they were gone and the baton fell out of the medusa’s mouth and onto the ground in front of it.
They had examined the magical aura of the medusa head and found that there was an aura of conjuration magic around it. They surmised that it was possible that Kel and Zola had been teleported somewhere and decided that it would be best if they also invoked the magic of the medusa carving with the baton. After the same thing happened to the rest of our heroes, they all found themselves in a very small space that was pitch black and stale air. Each of them either casted some light where they were or began searching around with their hands, but all came to the conclusion that they were now inside coffins (except Asphodel who immediately had a flashback to her days being imprisoned and just froze, unable to do anything).
It took everyone several rounds to break out of the coffins, some needing a little help, and Asphodel needing to be pulled out calmed down. They had now found themselves in a large chamber:
This octagonal chamber is made of fine, polished white marble. The domed ceiling peaks twenty-five feet overhead, decorated with frescoes of people in billowing robes, hands joined, looking down with pity on those below. Braziers along the base of the dome filled with flickering flames faintly illuminate the chamber. Twelve carved stone sarcophagi lie beneath the dome, surrounding a large carving on the floor of a leering medusa’s face.
They also noticed that each of the sarcophagi they had broken out of had their names, birthdates, and this very day as their death dates carved into the lids of the caskets. At the foot of each casket was another funerary baton. At the north end of the chamber was a very large stone block that appeared to be blocking the only way out of this area. They also noticed that the medusa head in the floor had holes the size of the funerary batons around the outer edge of it and that the head itself was not carved into the floor but appeared to be resting on top of it. Eventually they inserted the batons into some holes and were able to figure out that the medusa head had to be rotated in order to get the stone block to sink into the floor and allow egress from the chamber.
Once they were out of the chamber, they saw that they were in a large, walled in area that had numerous buildings and tombstones within. It was now night time, with a nearly full moon to illuminate the overgrown pathways. But being night seemed strange for just a little while ago it was only late afternoon and the sun had still been hours away from setting.
Directly ahead of them they saw several tombstones on the western side of the path here had been crushed and shattered in a wide swath. The back of an ancient carriage was visible through the overgrown weeds and shrubs at the far end of the array of destruction. Since this was the closest to them they decided to investigate the scene. But as they approached the area a blinding bright light flashed, then everything went black and they each felt a dizzying motion. Once they had their sight back they saw a chaotic apparition:
The carriage hearse barrels along a hard dirt road, drawn by four frothing, maddened horses driven forward by your frantic whipping. A quick glance over your shoulder tells you that your mounted pursuers are gaining ground in the hazy moonlight.
“Aroden save us!” shouts a beardless old man sitting beside you as he desperately clings to the wooden seat.
“We no longer serve fools, Parsimus,” you growl with irritation. “Best get that through your thick skull.”
You glance behind again, this time to the bed of the hearse, where the fine silver coffin lurches dangerously, despite the five straps of stout leather securing it in place.
“Forgive me, sister,” you think. “It was I who was the true fool.”
You hear a dull thud as an arrow strikes the seatback. Another arrow sinks into Parsimus’s shoulder, knocking him from his seat to the hard ground below with a cry of pain. As a third projectile thuds into the carriage, you cry out to the starlit sky. “Asmodeus! Have you abandoned me?”
With the cry still in your throat, a strange shimmer surrounds the hearse and the scene about you flickers and fades. The dirt road is suddenly replaced by a paved walkway, and the surrounding woodland by a graveyard.
Startled by the sudden change, the horses shriek and careen to the left. As the carriage leaves the road, the shimmering bubble of energy that encompasses it crushes the tombstones in its path. Suddenly, the horses seem to smash into an invisible wall, and their cries of terror abruptly cease. You are propelled from your seat, hurtled through the air as you and the carriage crash to the ground. You feel bones break, and as your neck snaps with a nauseating crunch, you hear a sinister voice behind your ear, whispering with an intimacy that terrifies.
“No, my puppet. I never forget a bargain.”
Once the vision fades, everything returned to as it had been. They then discovered a decomposing corpse just past the carriage and they knew that it was the body of the carriage driver they saw in the vision. But when Blackwell went to search the body, it lurched and stood up. He looked around at the group of heroes and said, “Begone! Leave this place now with whatever you have stolen!”
The group tried to ask him about where the sword was and who he was and several other questions, but all they got out of the undead being was that his name was Cadimus Adella and they would never get the sword. But he was allowing them to leave unharmed if they left now. Of course our heroes were not about to do that and just as they were bracing for a fight with this undead, Cadimus faded away and disappeared.
The next area they decided to investigate was the large building directly north of the carriage crash site. After cautiously approaching and having Blackwell scan the area for traps they finally opened the main door to this building:
This dull gray granite building looms in the center of the necropolis. Its entrance has a domed ceiling that rises to a height of twenty feet, and is decorated with intricate geometric designs. In the center of the chamber’s floor, a carved medusa crest stares endlessly upward. To the north, a pair of stained-glass windows depicting a handsome man and a beautiful woman look on.
Once inside, the party spread out to explore the three connected open rooms. To the west Blackwell and Asphodel saw:
Once an elegant domed shrine, this place of reverence has been foully and thoroughly defiled: statues lie broken on the floor, and the mosaic symbol of Aroden under the great dome is smeared with all manner of filth. The walls, bearing once-beautiful frescoes of deeds of the god, are soiled with ordure. Pools of red-tinged water stand to the north and south, while a scorched curtain that once sheltered the altar to the west hangs in tatters.
Asphodel found a magical dagger, still gore encrusted lying partially in the southern pool of fouled water and was examining it when something erupted at the east end of the building.
To the east Kel saw:
The walls of this domed and oval-shaped formal chamber are covered in complex geometric patterns of green and gold. It appears to be used for funerary rites, with marble tables to the north and south and two elaborate wheeled wooden biers at the center. To the east, the wall is made up of a huge iron oven with a closed door three feet square and two feet off the floor, with a shelf sticking out beneath it like the tongue of a huge, taunting beast.
And as she looked at the large oven, she saw a pair of glowing, fiery eyes look out at her. Suddenly creatures made of fire erupted out of the ovens with a loud startling sound of the iron oven door grating being ripped off its hinges and thrown aside as 3 huge fire creatures and 1 large one poured out of the ovens and began the attack!
Kel found herself nearly surrounded by the creatures before she knew what was really going on and suffered many wounds at the fiery hands of these beasts. Soon Zola, Aspohdel, Zerak, Blackwell, and Jobi joined in the fray, but Kel went down quickly and the party scrambled to save her from a fiery death. And it did not take long at all for Asphodel to lose control and become completely and uncontrollably enraged.
The smallest one of the fire creatures appeared to be the most skilled since it was casting fireballs and other spells at the party. But once the party was getting close to it, it disappeared from view. It seemed it had left the battle. But the other three huge fire creatures were not push-overs either. Their blows delivered crushing damage and had the chance of catching their targets on fire as well.
Next week we will witness the conclusion of the battle with the fire creatures…