Part 14: Chapter ElevenThe party makes their way north, over the rolling hills and into the highlands. They come across a canyon that cleaves the earth in two. A worn track winds its way down the crevasse to the scree-strewn floor below. Cliff faces looming to either side, they find the entrance to the crypt: two large stone doors set into the face of the canyon wall, above which stands the figure of a noble warrior, carved from the living stone. Flanking the door are two statues of noble, lupine beasts.
"I can't believe we're going through with this," Aria groans.
"Adventuring isn't all harvesting beans and toasting engagements," Deepmind retorts as she checks her knives. "There's dragon-slaying magic treasure in there, maybe, and it's our job to retrieve it."
"URK EXCITED FOR GRAVE-ROBBING."
Athtar frowns. "It isn't grave-robbing, it's..."
"Archaeology?" Urist offers.
The party stands around outside the tomb's entrance a few moments longer, the only sound the discrete sips Aria takes from her 'water canteen'.
"Well," Minar says, finally. "He's not getting any deader. Let's go."
Beginning the questbook"Crypt of Kharthuun"
Athtar pulls open one of the doors and enters the catacombs' antechamber. Beyond the slanting pillars of light that stream in through the entryway, the room is dark as night. Urist lights his lantern, and eerie shadows dance across dusty cobwebs that cover nearly everything in this shadowed hall.
Some decorations are just barely visible on the walls beneath the masses of cobwebs. Urk stops to clear the webs away to find a mural beneath. It appears to have withstood the passage of decades. The mural depicts a great hero taming two wolf-like beasts, the spitting image of the statues outside. These two creatures are seen throughout the other murals, following their master faithfully.
Clearing the webs from all the walls of the room, a grand narrative plays out. The hero in the murals goes on to face numerous trials, standing tall against monsters of ever greater power and ferocity. The penultimate portion of the mural depicts the hero in battle with the mightiest of all monsters, a dragon of unfathomable grandeur. In the final panel, the hero defeats the dragon with what appears to be some kind of magic relic, but part of the mural has crumbled away and the identity of the relic is unclear.
Leaving the mural behind, there are only two passageways that lead away from the antechamber. Urist holds his lantern high. The right passage goes only few paces before being blocked by a cave in. The passage to the left extends into the darkness beyond the lamplight.
A) Follow the unblocked passage to the left
B) Attempt to clear the blocked right passage
With his sword drawn, Athtar prowls down the open passage, Urist's lamp casting a long shadow out in front of them as they follow. The light from outside is quickly drowned out by the oppressive darkness of the catacombs. Some kind of subterranean vines grow between the stones of the walls and ceiling, hanging down in places like monstrous tendrils.
After a sharp turn, the floor goes from stone slabs to thick oak planks. The wood is sturdy and tarred. Although it shows its age, it has not fallen to rot or other damage. Athtar tests the flooring with a foot. The planks seem solid enough, but they clearly cover a hollow in the actual stone.
"Wait," mutters Deepmind.
Deepmind has Thievery
"That's not just a patch for a hole, it's a pit trap."
Athtar looks again, carefully moving his foot off of the wooden beams. "How can you tell?"
"Basic dungeon design, obviously," she replies, before nodding toward the wall. "That and there's a groove cut along the side there that shows the wood shifting when you put your weight on it. There's probably a trigger weight that causes it to open up."
A) Jump the trapdoor
B) [Reasoning] Minimize the weight on the trapdoor during the crossing
C) [Thievery] Examine the craftsmanship of the mechanism
Deepmind takes her time examining the floor and the edges of the wooden paneling along the walls. Urist rests his lamp on the trapdoor to help illuminate her work, and she discovers metal hinges hidden in grooves along the bottom of the wall, just as expected. The wooden flooring is a massive trapdoor triggered when enough weight is leveraged against the center of the pit the door must cover.
She produces a number of tools from her pack and sets to work disabling the mechanism. She jams the hinges in their locked state and disconnects the pressure trigger that pulls the locking pin. With that done, the way is safe.
Two time passes
Deepmind gingerly places her weight on the trapdoor, and it holds. "I mean, obviously," says Deepmind, taking a few steps forward, confident of having completely and utterly besting the creator of this foul device. Her stride picks up as the rest of the party watches, anxious, as she confidently marches across the corridor. However, after a few more paces, there's a distinct metallic clicking...
Deepmind does not have Willpower or Devotion
The trapdoor beneath her shudders and suddenly swings open! Deepmind shrieks as she tumbles downward. Screams and gasps follow from behind as the party watches her fall.
Deepmind collapses to her knees, her heart in her throat. She waits for the hungry shadows to swallow her whole, but... nothing. Her sabotage has saved her. The trapdoor has opened only a hand's breadth. Not enough to drop her, but enough for Urist's lamp to slip through. The whole party watches as it plummets into the darkness. It falls at length until they can barely see its light at the bottom of the pit, resting beside the decaying corpse of the trap's previous victim.
"I'm okay!" Deepmind calls back, a little too high pitched. "It's okay. I'll just..." crawling on hands and knees, she crosses the remainder of the pit. Upon reacing the stone floor on the other side, she sprawls out on her back, willing her heart and breat back to a normal rhythm. "Should be safe to cross now!"
Deepmind loses two stamina
The rest of the party inches their way across one at a time to join Deepmind on the far side, where she stays on the ground catching her breath. She pointedly ignores their looks once she gets back to her feet and continues onward down the corridor. Urist digs around in his pack and produces a mundane torch, which he lights, muttering about his lost lamp all the way.
After some time the party reaches the top of a stone staircase, spiraling downward into darkness. The corridor has reached its end, nowhere to go but down. Torch held high to light the way, they begin their descent.
Reaching the bottom of the tightly turning stairs, they find a long, wide corridor stretching out before them. Thick nets of white webbing fill the corners of the hall, rounding the edges until it looks more like a tunnel than a constructed corridor. Alcoves, hardly large enough to fit the dessicated remains of long-dead souls, are set three high into the walls. The webs drape the burial niches like dusty white veils.
Urist keeps the torch high as they move cautiously through the hall, cutting their way through thick sheets of web. As they pass through the curtains left by their blades, Aria stops to squint into one of the alcoves. "I think these things are full of jewels!" she says, as hundreds of red points of light reflect the torchlight.
The 'jewels' begin spilling out of the burial alcoves. "NOT JEWELS!" Urk yells, deeply grossed out as swarms of skittering spiders emerge from all sides.
At the last second, Urist thinks to look above the group, catching sight of two spiders, each the size of wagon wheels, descending toward them from the ceiling along impossibly thin strands of web.
A) Hack them down
B) Set the webs ablaze with the torch
C) [Arcana] Scorch the hall with runic fire
Urist fights to keep his panic in check as the party around him starts drawing weapons and hacking about the spider-strewn webs. He sweeps his torch above and around himself. The webs flash and burn to little more than smoke in an instant. One of the spiders becomes caught in a blaze of burning webs. Its hisses turn to hellish shrieking as its chitin cracks and its insides boil in the heat. It drops to the ground with a heavy crunch, its legs spasmodically curling in on itself.
The other spider cuts its trailing eb and drops directly onto his shoulders. Urist can feel its too-many legs all gripping his flesh, sending a surge of dizzying panic to wash over him. Before he can react, it sinks its venomous fangs into his shoulder. He screams and knocks the foul thing against the wall, but his arm is already going numb.
Urist loses four stamina
There is a crack of thick chitin, and the spider loosens its hold on Urist. It catches itself on a web and skitters behind the dwarf.
Urist does not have Willpower
Something goes wrong between the venom and the other substances flowing through Urist's veins. "A thousand eyes!" he suddenly shrieks above the noise of battle. "A million legs! Ahhhh!" Heedless, he flees deeper into the passage in fear that the horrid creature will bite him once more. He stumbles into a web that tangles around his face and head. In his panic to remove the sickening nest from his person, Urist shakes loose several smaller spiders from the ceiling that bite his hands and neck before he can brush them away.
Urist loses two more stamina
"After him!" yells Athtar over the melee, as Urist dashes away with their only source of light. Struggling through thick cobwebs and snapping mandibles, the rest of the party lurches forward to stay together.
The six adventurers reunite next to an alcove that emits a cacophony of chittering and clicking. They turn to see that the alcove in question contains the corpse of a gnome wrapped in spider's silk that is much more recent than the other remains. Even more horrifying is the swarm of countless spider young that have made it their home. Thy hiss and shriek at the intrusion, watching the party with a thousand glowing eyes.
A) Crush as many of the wretched creatures possible
B) [Craftsmanship] Drop the alcove's ceiling on the horrid swarm
Minar's hands fly to the lip of the stone slab that serves as a ceiling to the crumbling alcove. He pulls down with all his might and the stone slab breaks away from the rest of the construction, falling into the niche and crushing the body and the swarm of fist-sized spiders. A shower of bricks, stone, and dirt sprays forth from the exposed hole in the wall, pelting him with debris.
Minar loses three stamina
From two collapsed alcoves at the far end of the corridor slides a long limb covered in thick, jagged chitin. Thick as a sapling and long as a spear, a second leg extends from the alcove, then another, that curls out toward the ceiling. The three limbs reach outward, pulling behind them an armored carapace the size of a wild boar, five more eerily long legs trailing behind, pushing the bulk forward.
Eight rheumy eyes stare blindly in the darkened corridor, but it wrings its pedipalps, leaving no doubt that this beast is a hungry predator. An otherworldly sound swells from the massive beast, sending shivers down the party's spines.
"We could be dancing at the Drunken Hog right now, but noooo," Aria groans.
A) Engage it in melee
B) [Archery] Put an arrow between its eight eyes
C) [Arcana] Burn the wretched creature to ash
(I'll take the first vote to keep things rolling)
The creature skitters forward, far too fast for something so large. Aria draws back and looses an arrow. It caroms off the hard shell covering its head but slashes across two of its bulbous, filmy eyes in the process. The beast lets out a pained shriek, but its momentum carries it forward.
Practically before her first arrow had hit its mark, Aria had already nocked a second. The rest of the party dives out of the way of the rampaging spider as Aria stands her ground and fires a second shot. "Eat this!"
Aria has Athletics
Her arrow strikes true. There is an audible crack as it punches through the chitin between two of its loathsome eyes. The beast slows, but does not fall. It closes the distance and rears up on its hind legs, raising its forelimbs in warning.
Too close now for arrows, Aria rolls to the left as it stabs in with a scything foreleg. The creature presses the attack, nearly catching her time and again, but Aria stays just out of reach. The chase soon brings her away from her companions, either blocked by webs or occupied by more spiders bursting from hidden niches.
She finds herself backed against a web-choked alcove. Her hand closes on the haft of an ancient spear, slipped from the bony grasp of some long-dead hero. Aria raises the spear high to turn aside the spider's next attack.
Aria does not have Dueling or Willpower
The massive spider drives her back until she is pinned against a wall. It rears up on its hind legs and stabs a long, sharp limb at Aria. She raises her spear up high to turn aside the blow at the last second. But such a creature can bring to bear so many attacks at once, and another scything forelimb stabs deep into the muscle of her thigh. Her scream is cut off as she bites down hard, trying to keep her footing.
Aria loses four stamina
She slams the spearpoint into the creature's clicking mouth parts, causing it to hiss and retract its penetrating leg. A tidal wave of pain washes out from her wounded thigh as Aria raises the spear, steps forward, and with all her might, thrusts the spear deep into the creature's underbelly.
The creature shrieks and flails, swiping at the spear protruding from its body with frantic, spasmodic motions. It connects with the spear haft, snapping the hardened wood like a twig and leaving the head and much of the spear lodged firmly in the beast's body. Foul-smelling ichor gushes from the wound, splashing to the ground, threatening to turn stomachs. The spider thrashes about drunkenly, its motions growing more sluggish and erratic. Eventually it scuttles into a corner, curling its legs around its abdomen, and with a final choking hiss, it dies.
The party tears through the remaining veils of spider webs. They find Aria, kneeling on her good leg, her wounded one bleeding openly. Urist immediately starts pulling bandages from his pack and kicking up a torrent of nervous chatter, while Aria just scowls at Athtar. "This is officially the worst bachelorette party I've ever been on."
The thick curtain is torn by Minar's long knife and before them stretches a tunnel of worked stone. Urist's torchlight falls upon a massive doorway blocking their way forward.
The stone door is carved with stylized images, worn with time but still discernible. At the center of the door, a warrior of noble bearing appears to lie at rest. He is adorned in splendid armor and clutches a magnificent sword. Flanking the figure is a pair of hounds. They are noble animals, and their carved eyes are set with sapphires. Deepmind is briefly fascinated by the sapphires, before muttering "later" under her breath.
Urk has History
Urk points to the figure depicted on the door. "THAT KARTHUUN, LOST HERO OF DRAGON WAR. HOUNDS OF KARTHUUN FAMOUS AND DANGEROUS. URK THINK THIS KARTHUUN'S BURIAL CHAMBER."
Athtar lays his hands upon the doors, then recoils sharply. "It's ice cold! Some sort of magic?"
Urk shrugs, and Urist still seems distracted and anxious. With no further confirmation, Athtar sets his shoulder against the door and shoves hard. The cold cuts through his clothing and armor, but he can withstand a few moments of it before the frostbite sets in.
As the doors grind open, a creeping chill emanates from beyond its stone frame. Peering into the chamber's gloomy darkness, no one can be sure if it's just the flickering light from the torch, but something seems to dart from shadow to shadow just at the edge of sight. The room itself is huge, its ceiling lost to darkness. Pillars flank the center of the room, forming a processional toward a distant dais upon which rests a stone sarcophagus flanked by shallow stone braziers.
One by one they step across the threshold and a chilling presence crawls over the party. Their breath is ripped from their lungs in a gasp of freezing mist as an icy wind whips up.
Everyone loses one stamina
As they gasp for breath, the sound of clawed feet on hard stone floor fills the chamber. The steps come slowly, deliberately, stalking from the shadows. From the gloom near the dais, two nightmarish figures emerge. They possess the basic form of enormous hounds or wolves, but never has the comparison with such noble beasts been applied more foully. Rotting, frost-bitten flesh hangs in shreds about the bones of the creatures before them. Their milky eyes seem illuminated by some deathly glow.
In unison, the creatures raise their heads and howl. The stagnant breath of their shriveled lungs erupts from their maws in a cloud of icy mist. A shiver of dread runs through the party as the otherworldly sound washes over them. Minds reel and are overcome with utter terror.
Each party member has one skill disabled
As the beasts cease their howling, they lower their heads and look at the party with their dead, frozen eyes. The howl echoes eerily in the chamber as they begin loping forward, their rotting tongues hungrily licking their bloody maws.
Urk is the only active character, and only qualifies for one of the available actions
Urk recovers her wits and sees the creatures charging forward. "URK GOT THIS!" she bellows, breaking from the group's circle over the group's shouts of warning. She steels herself for the oncoming threat, planting her feet and raising her fists in challenge.
Urk does not have the Military skill
Urk cannot shake the sound of the howl from her mind, and her soul shakes as the undead beasts bear down. One of the hounds lunges at her with vicious fangs, and even in the face of certain death she cannot stir herself to action. It is all she can do to keep the beast from sinking its teeth into her throat. She feebly fends off the creature as it bears her to the ground. The other hound prowls the shadows nearby, watching her intently.
She works her forearm up between herself and the creature's bloody maw, and it sinks its fangs into the flesh. The creature shakes its head violently and begins dragging Urk deeper into the tomb. "ACTUALLY URK DOES NOT GOT THIS!"
The flat of Athtar's blade whips out, batting the beast by the side of the head. Its jaw slackens in shock and releases Urk's arm, who immediately scrabbles back to her feet and skids to a stop behind the elven knight. "These monsters are not a joke - we are in mortal peril," Athtar warns, keeping his sword up to threaten the slavering wolf.
Urk loses three stamina
Mark one progress
The hounds begin to circle the group, just beyond the edge of Urist's torchlight, their eyes glowing with icy blue flames. One of the beasts stalks with the faintest of limps, with the exposed bone of a hind leg where a patch of flesh has fallen away. Strangely, they do not move in to attack, only to circle and watch.
A) Engage one of the beasts
B) [Archery] Fire an arrow at the injured hound
C) [Arcana] Throw a ball of fire
(If you'd like a sense of how much of a sticky situation our heroes are in at the moment, take a peek at the trackers on the second page - including "Progress" and everyone's remaining stamina. Good thing we've got those healing potions!)
"Steady..." Athtar calls in the silence. Behind him, Aria and Minar track the hounds with their arrows, bows drawn taut. Behind them, Urist looks to Urk's wounded forearm.
Sullen and shaken, the orc looks up from the bandages Urist is hastily applying and gives him a firm look. "URK KNOW URIST HAVE SOMETHING GOOD FOR EMERGENCIES. NOW WOULD BE GOOD TIME."
Urist pauses in his nervous babble before returning a nod, and he pulls a clean new vial from a satchel and hands it over. Without hesitating, Urk pounds the vial's contents and her pupils immediately dilate.
One swiftness potion consumed
Urk gains Awareness, Thievery and Agility
"URK CAN SEE INTO ETERNITY"
"Yes, well," says Urist. "It can have that effect on newcomers."
She takes her flame rune and holds her hands before her, one over the other. Urk pulls her palms slowly apart, the energy of the spell resisting her pull. As she does, blazing tendrils of flame swirl into her hands from the cold musty air of the tomb chamber, coalescing around the shard into a glowing ball of fire.
One of the hounds begins to growl as the fireball grows, stalking toward the party. It drops its head low, the hackles of its thick mane raising.
Urk now has Awareness
With a sharp intake of breath, Urk realizes the beast is only acting as a distraction. She pivots and throws the fireball just as the second creature lunges toward her and Urist. The force of the fiery assault tosses the hound away and into the darkness, flickering flames smoldering in its frozen, mouldering fur.
Mark three progress
Backing off, the hounds stalk through the shadows, always watching. One disappears from sight as it slinks behind the sarcophagus that rests upon the dais. For just a moment, the other commands the party's full attention.
Then in a flash, the red-mawed hound leaps the sarcophagus and launches itself straight at the group. At that exact moment the sound of frozen claws scraping the stone floor fills the room as the other takes off at a sprint to hit them from the other side. Unable to cover both attacks, the party comes apart, barely having time to dodge out of the way as the first creature lands among them. Soon the party are scattered and running with the hounds on their tails.
Athtar, Urist and Deepmind round a stone pillar, trying to put the column between them and their attacker. "Get behind me!" Athtar insists, turning to face the wolf. "With our backs to the stone, I can fend the creature off."
There's a growl, and the three of them turn to find themselves backed against the column by the second hound.
"Clever girl," Deepmind mutters, as the beast leaps at them.
A) Dodge the beast's lunge and counter-attack
B) [Brawling] Knock the hound away
C) [Runes] Blast the creature with a rune
Would it ever be possible to say, drink a swiftness potion in the middle so people can qualify for doing a check properly?
Edit: Oh, Urk already drank one?
(You caught me doing the second post tracker update and the next post out of order! We haven't had to manage consumables or special equipment yet, so the way I'm handling it is if it would make the difference in passing a check then a character will use an item, unless we have some reason not to or people otherwise suggest we should be saving them. When we have non-consumable items to manage I'll treat it as when someone acts with that item it stays with them until the next round of activations, so for example if we had a magic ring that gave someone agility and someone used it to complete an action, that ring wouldn't be available for anyone else until the person who used it becomes active again.)
The beast lunges forward, and Deepmind cups one hand around her other fist and brings her arms down hard on the hound's head. Stepping aside, the beast's momentum carries it past her to collide with the column at their backs. From behind, the sound of the other beast stalks closer.
Deepmind does not have Athletics
Loath to turn her attention from the stalking wolf at her back, she fails to notice the one at her feet shake its head and regain its footing. It darts forward and locks its jaws onto the meat of Deepmind's calf. White-hot pain cascades over her, and it is all she can do to keep her feet as she slams her fists down on its back, trying with all her might to knock it loose from its death grip. Athtar yells something incoherent in response, but is pinned in place as the other wolf lunges in turn, forcing him to fend off its attacks
The beast surges, trying to drag Deepmind to the ground, but instead, she falls hard against the pillar. The breath is knocked from her lungs with the impact, and as she hangs there, wheezing and dazed, the only sound she hears is the sound of stone grinding on stone.
Through the haze of pain, she looks over to see Urist putting his back into the column. She tries to form the words to ask him what he's trying to accomplish, when suddenly Deepmind topples backward as the column at her back slips away and falls to the ground.
Deepmind loses five stamina
Mark two progress
No longer supported by the collapsed column, heavy stone slabs in the ceiling shake loose and tumble to the floor, showering the ground around the party with deadly debris. Everyone, living and undead alike, bounds for cover as they are struck by stones.
Everyone without Agility loses two stamina
Eight or more progress has not yet been marked
As the dust settles, both of the hounds are staggering to their feet, thoroughly bludgeoned and badly inured. One of the beasts struggles to right itself as its hind legs have both been smashed nearly beyond use. The other stands between the party and its pack-mate, growling menacingly.
"Deepmind!" exclaims Urist, skidding to a halt over the collapsed hyrrinx. "Are you still lucid?"
From the ground, the crumpled catfolk growls "Next time, just hit the thing over the head."
The still-standing hound charges forward, its pitiful twin following after as quickly as it can.
A) Bring sword to bear against the beasts
B) [Archery] End the crippled hound's suffering with an arrow
C) [Alchemy] Splash acid on the beasts
Things are getting pretty down to the wire in this fight, do we have a tie-breaker vote?
Edit: I see there was a tie-breaker! Hold on for an update
With the rest of the party exhausted by their trials in the damnable crypt, Athtar hefts his sword and steps to the front. The first beast leaps at him, but he turns its charge aside with a hard blow from his blade. The lamed beast staggers in to snap at his legs, and he plants a kick into its shoulder, sending it stumbling drunkenly backward. He has just enough time to raise his weapon and bring it crashing down onto its spine.
Athtar has Military
The strike lands with the sound of crunching bones. The blue fire in the beast's eyes fades until little more than icy blue embers, then snuffs out entirely. The beast lies motionless on the ground. The other hound regains its feet and returns to the fray. Athtar whirls and lands a glancing blow across its muzzle. It shakes off the blow, but in so doing gives him just enough time to put some distance back between himself and the beast, rejoining the party as they limp into a tight group.
Mark two progress
The nightmarish hound melts into the darkness that lies at the edges of th chamber, out of reach of the torchlight. It darts from shadow to shadow. Deepmind kneels on the ground, breathing heavily, while Urk rubs her throbbing head as the swiftness potion roils around her system. Athtar stands in front of them, trying to keep himself between the party and the beast. "I don't see it..." he murmurs.
"There!" shouts Aria, pointing into the flickering gloom. Minar brings his bow around, but can see nothing to fire on. "No, there!" she insists, pointing somewhere else.
"Is he there or isn't he?" Minar snaps, tense as his bowstring.
A) Chase the hound into the darkness.
B) [Archery] Fire at the beast with your bow
C) [runes] Conjure a bolt of lightning
Minar trails the beast with a hail of arrows launched wherever Aria points. The sound of arrows cracking on the floor and walls in the darkness echoes around the chamber, but not the sound of any of them hitting their mark.
Minar has Willpower
Minar nocks another arrow and draws back, waiting for the beast to show itself. For long moments it seems as though the hound has disappeared, vanished back into the nether realm from whence it came. Minar holds his posture, the arrow staying steady. Just as his arm begins to ache, he catches sight of the creature. He looses the arrow and hears the hound yelp in pain and surprise. The beast bounds or perhaps falls into the shadows beyond the torchlight.
Mark two progress
Fourteen progress has not been marked
The hound rallies and sprints to the sarcophagus, leaping upon it to glare down upon the party with hate-filled eyes. The blue flames in their foe's eyes burn brightly. Something about the effect is hypnotizing. The group reacts with a start as the beast suddenly charges! Athtar steps forward to intercept it, but the beast anticipates his action and leaps nimbly over the knight, bearing down on the injured party-members behind him.
Minar reaches for another arrow from his quiver and comes up dry, cursing. Aria, seized by nervous energy, tries to push herself forward to the front on her hobbled leg but feels a hand on her arm yank her back. She turns her head and sees Urist, eyes wild as his other hand furiously searches his pouches. Blood seeps from a number of untreated wounds and his gaze appears distant and detached.
"Stand clear!" he shrieks, a low rumbling building from somewhere inside his closed fist. "Stand clear!"
A) [Runes] Blast the hound with runic magic
B) Wrestle the beast to the ground
(Feel free to take a minute weighing this one up!)
Aria hesitates, and with only a moment to spare Urist lurches past her and almost stumbles straight into the oncoming wolf. As he staggers, he manages to jam back a vial of healing potion, and the bleeding stops.
Urist drinks one healing potion, regains five Stamina
In the moment Urist has before the beast's jaw crushes his skull, Urist raises his fist with his blasting rune held tight.The rumbling immediately snaps outward, and the uncontrolled explosion that issues forth sends both him and the hound hurtling through the air. The dwarf's back strikes a column, and he slumps to the floor. All around, the rest of the party struggles to retain their footing from the concussive wave of the blast. The hound smashes into the back wall and falls behind the sarcophagus and out of sight.
Urist loses four stamina
Mark four progress
Fourteen progress has been marked
"...Urist! Urist!" The battered alchemist opens his eyes, albeit slowly. He knows not how long he was out of his senses, but as he wakes, he is chilled to the bone. The cold of the chamber has seeped through his clothes and flesh as the adrenaline of the battle works its way out (along with a few other substances). He looks up at Aria and Urk, squatted over him, seeing their palpable relief.
"I fear I shall never know warmth again," he mumbles with a shiver. "Is it over?" He pulls himself shakily to his feet, leaning heavily on Urk and Aria's outstretched arms.
Athtar and Minar stand by the sarcophagus, looking down where the hound fell. It lies in a broken and bloody heap, still and silent. The blue fire in its eyes is snuffed out for good. "It is, brave friend," Athtar replies solemnly, sheathing his sword.
"MORE LIKE STUPID FRIEND," says Urk, masking her relief as best she can. "EVEN URK KNOW BETTER THAN PLAY WITH BLAST RUNE. URIST PROBABLY BROKE EVERY POTION IN EVERY POUCH."
"Something might be broken," Urist conceded as he winces. The battered party-members drag themselves in the direction of the sarcophagus.
The artistry and craftsmanship of the stonework is exceptional and seems to have survived centuries. The sarcophagus itself, sitting atop the dais, thrums with power, and something inside is the source of the unnatural cold that permeates the chamber.
Deepmind is already at work unlocking the stone seals, her fingers slow and clumsy with the cold and her many injuries. "It's loose," she mutters as she pulls the fourth lock free, and Minar and Athtar put their shoulders to the heavy stone seal.
Eventually they are able to pry the sarcophagus open. A breath of wintry cold air wafts out of the casket, chill mist pouring onto the ground. The blue coals in the brazier kindle to life with flames that seem to pull the heat from the chamber.
Inside rests the remains of an ancient warrior covered in a burial gown that has all but turned to dust. The skeleton is clutching a jagged shard of crystal inscribed with a runic symbol. The interior of the sarcophagus is rimed with hoarfrost.
The party is briefly mesmerized looking at the artifact. Urist reaches out to touch it, but Urk quickly bats his hand away. "DANGEROUS," she warns, pulling a sheepskin from her pack to carefully scoop up the prize.
Withdrawing the shard from the sarcophagus sends ripples of power through the room, even through the sheepskin. The icy flames in the braziers die down as the shard seems to absorb their light, and the room's unnatural chill begins to fade. By the time the party has limped to the doors, they can hear the dripping and running of tiny streams of water, the frost covering the chamber having melted in mere moments.
"So," says Aria, withdrawing her 'water canteen' and twisting off the top. "How about that bachelorette party?"
Five blank stares greet her suggestion.
Aria grimaces. "Straight to bed then," she finishes, with a surreptitious sip.
The party gains the Frost Rune
Mark two progress in combat training
Everyone recovers one disabled skill
Completed "The Crypt of Kharthuun"!
(Congratulations! That was an exceptionally difficult quest, believe me, you did well to actually get the Frost Rune in the end. I'm sure it will be a big help, now we just need to hope our heroes can rest up in time for the big wedding tomorrow!)
(Winning this quest restores a disabled skill, to make up for the one you lose at the start of the boss battle. The party will get stamina back as per usual once I finish off Day Four and start us on Day Five. Speaking of...)