After spending some time recovering and ensuring the corpses and hands were put beyond the ability to raise them again, the group moved into the passage that the Zombies with the pole-arms came out of when they were trying to escape the cavern the previous day. Taking note of the scrapes and damage to the limestone walls indicating heavy traffic through this tunnel, they moved cautiously, ready to defend themselves. The tunnel opened up into a vast cavern set up as a morgue/surgical workshop of some sort with some rather odd features.
The cavern had 4 stone slabs laid out along its left hand edge. Each slab looked like a tombstone suspended on a wooden frame to make a table of some sort. Lying on each of these makeshift stone tables was a cadaver, each in various states of decay and dismemberment. Around the stone tables were baskets full of gory body parts and between the 3rd and 4th tables, with it’s back to the party was a hooded, robed figure stitching a body laid in front of it. Along the right wall was a pathway up a cliff face, high on the wall (which seemed climbable) and along the back of the cavern was a rack of 4 full, human skeletons, hanging between a pool of clear water and a blue curtain, slung between one wall of the cavern and another, suspended on brass poles and a rod. The curtain looked like it covered a section of the cavern but none of the party could see beyond it. There seemed to be a set of stairs by the curtain, seemingly leading to the cliff path. In front of the curtain was a bench that had laid out on it various tools and surgical implements, pristine and obviously cared for, organised by function and size in a very precise manner. A jug of grain alcohol and a bowl of embalming fluid sat on the other table on the left of the cave.
Worried that these bodies may animate (and wondering if the robed figure was the Lord of Lance rock), the party moved into the cavern and spread out. Erik hung back in the entryway, ready to escape (as he was the most injured), Zydrunas moved towards the nearest slab and the girls moved along the right hand side of the cave where the cliff face ran, hoping to provide support should Zydrunas ‘wake the dead’. Zy picked up the body on the slab and took it to the nearest basket, ducking it head-first into the basket in an effort to make it difficult for it to ‘rise up’ on him later.
Body-dunking done, Zy started proceedings by shouting at the robed figure, losing the element of surprise for the party in a typically Bryan moment,
“Oi, dogtits! Where’s the party at?”
Looking over it’s shoulder briefly, the hooded figure turned to finish it’s stitching slowly then turned and hissed something low and unintelligible at the party. While it looked like a human man, there was no way to be sure as the robe covered the face effectively. Zydrunas moved as if to approach the figure to unmask him when Erik interrupted,
“Don’t put yourself at risk, Zy. Allow me”
and with that Erik used a ‘Mage Hand’ spell to remove the hood from the figure’s head.
The figure was a human male with a pale, bluish skin tint, clouded eyes and lips stitched shut with a thick leather cord. It was trying to speak to the group, but the bound lips were preventing it from being heard,
“Mssssstrrrrrrrrr!” it spat, making no move to attack the intruding adventurers.
Seeing a creature in potential pain and needing to question it, Myrtle carefully approached, couching her dagger where she could easily defend herself if needs be. Indicating to the figure that she meant no harm as she approached, she offered to unbind the man’s lips.
The man bowed down a little, offering his face to the halfling who went through her pack, retrieved her shears and used them to cut the cords. The cord had sigils running all around them but cut easily enough. Once freed from it’s bondage, the figure stretched its lips and shouted it’s sentence over it’s shoulder towards the back of the cave,
before starting to babble an endless stream of nonsense about surgical procedures, anatomical facts and names of tools at Myrtle, seemingly without aggression towards her. Lerissa advanced further into the cave, hoping to head off any danger and to get past the robed figure before he started to block their progress while Erik and Zy looked out for the obvious Zombie attack from the slabs that was not coming. The party got ready for a fight.
While Zy was fixated on the bodies on the slabs and Myrtle was interested in the hooded figure’s ravings, Erik noticed the rack of skeletons at the back of the cave moving a little unnaturally. Realising this was similar to what had happened in the chiller room, he shouted, “Skeletons!” to the group and a fight began.
Zydrunas put away his axe the started to run at the Skeletons. Erik prepared his spells, Myrtle went for her crossbow and Lerissa moved to support her Halfling friend. The 4 Skeletons split into two groups, one group heading straight for Myrtle and one group headed towards Zydrunas. As Zy approached his group, he grabbed a cadaver from a slab and used his momentum to slam it into the advancing Skeletons (who just sliced it in two, leaving Zy holding half a body by its arms). Sarah managed to balance a zombie figure on the figure for Zydrunas so it looked life the half orc figure was actually swinging around the body! Genius!
The other group harried Myrtle and Erik shot firebolts at them, damaging the skeletons but not stopping them. Lerissa moved to help Myrtle, leaping onto the tool-filled table and using her dexterity to flick, kick and shove various tools and implements at the skeletons surrounding Myrtle. A skillful kick on a bone saw saw it slice through a skeleton’s neck allowing Myrtle time to fire her crossbow into the eye socket of her second assailant, sending it’s skull into the blue curtain beyond. As the curtain moved under the force of the impact, it briefly revealed the shape of another zombie dog, advancing toward the curtain from the other side.
The hooded man, still blabbering medical nonsense, started to go around the cavern upending the baskets of body parts. While the party ignored him, he carried on moving to each basket and emptying it. The purpose to this would become clear to the group shortly.
With two skeletons down and two more attacking Zy, the party started to notice why the baskets were being upended. Crawling out of the baskets was more crawling claws, similar to the claws seen in the star-shaped cavern. Myrtle pinned one to the floor with her quarterstaff as it extracted itself from the basket while Lerissa picked up picks, awls, scalpels and other sharp objects from the table she was stood on and pelted another with the tools, killing it before it had chance to leap up at her. The hooded figure continued emptying baskets and was trying to extract the body Zy had dunked earlier.
For his part, Zy found himself unable to defend himself properly with his fleshy bludgeon and was being severely injured by his bony assailants so he threw the remaining piece of torso at the skeletons he was facing, spinning as he unslung his axe. A mighty blow caught the first skeleton off-guard and it exploded in a shower of bone shards all over it’s companion. Flying into a barbarian rage, Zy threatened his remaining skeleton with his more effective axe.
While Zy dealt with the remaining Skeleton, Erik spotted the crawling claws near him and ran for the safety of Lerissa and Myrtle on the other side of the cave. The girls advanced to help Zy and to deal with the hooded man. As Myrtle dealt with yet another claw and advanced on the hooded man, Erik headed down the cliff side of the chamber to take up a clear shooting position only to have the zombie dog leap off the cliff path from it’s hidden location down towards Erik. Forced to run again, Erik fled this new threat towards the hooded man, blindly firing his spells behind him as he ran to no effect. Seeing the new threat, Myrtle got the dog’s attention and put a bolt in it. Erik forgotten, the zombie dog rounded on Myrtle and leapt to attack.
Zydrunas felled his last skeleton in a mighty blow. Lerissa joined Myrtle in harassing the dog, hoping to keep it from eating the already injured halfling and give their Barbarian time to blindside the dog. Meanwhile, Erik was struggling to fend of the robed man, who was simply trying to grab him and hold him in place to be a victim for the final claw. Both Erik and the hooded man were weak, however, and from the other side of the cavern it looked like these two figures were having a nerdy slap-fight over a handbag or playing a child’s game of ‘keep-away’. At this stage Bry halted the game and illustrated the fight Erik was having by showing a YouTube video of two cats playing what looked like ‘Patty-Cake’ to the amusement of all the players around the table.
Picking back up with the next combat round, Myrtle defended herself from the dog, Lerissa stabbed it and Zydrunas ran in, blindsiding the beast and cleaving it in two. Threat neutralised, the team moved to help Erik fend off the claw and the robed man.
As Lerissa approached the claw jumped onto her but between Myrtle and Zy the claw was plucked and wrung out like a gory sponge. The hooded figure was put out of his misery and the team wasted no time collecting the bodies and torching the baskets of gory bits just in case. With Myrtle and Zy now on low health, and nobody able to rest effectively (all having used their Hit Dice already), the party opened the curtains and looted the chamber in the hope of finding something useful to heal with.
Behind the curtain lay a waiting room of some kind. Adorning the floor was a red rug (which
Dee refused to have Erik step foot on and both Sarah and Sara followed suit, drawing amused exasperation from Bry. For details on why Dee avoids red carpets please see the document, “a Dungeons and Dragons Odyssey”), a dining table carrying an open book and some writing materials, a bench and some iron shackles. The bottom of the stairs to the cliffside path lay here as well as an exit deeper into the cavern. While Zy climbed onto the path to explore (finding a release lever and a brick-hole showing the boulder trap room that Myrtle almost lost her life in earlier), Erik flipped through the book on the table and saw it was an unfinished treatise on anatomy, apparently being penned by the Lord of Lance Rock himself. Pocketing the materials, Erik avoided the rug again and got ready to leave. Myrtle saw that the shackles has been used to chain up something with putrefied flesh (some of the flesh still present on the iron rings) and Zydrunas defiantly walked onto the rug to prove it wasn’t a trap…….and promptly tripped on the rug edge briefly knocking himself out in the resulting fall.
Using the opportunity to rest a moment, the group brought Zy around, rearmed themselves and moved deeper into the tunnel beyond the cavern. This tunnel split into two and choosing to split up the group found it rejoined only to make a hard right-hand turn before splitting again. Electing to stay together this time the group headed down the left tunnel and found themselves at a large, square chamber decked out like a study-cum-bedroom complete with chest, dressing table and bookshelves dominated by a circular stone plinth in the center of the room. The walls had more blue curtains around them and the plinth held a glass orb upon it, some sort of fiery energy swirling around inside it.
Seeing no obvious way to advance the party split their attentions over several features in the room. Myrtle went for the chest, Lerissa and Erik made for the dresser table and Zy approached the orb on its plinth. In the chest were neatly folded clothes, mainly robes, and a clean traveller’s pouch. On the dresser was make up and a small table mirror. Erik gave the mirror to Lerissa and moved to see what was in the chest with Myrtle. As Zydrunas approached the shone plinth, a light shone around the runic inscriptions around the edges of it’s top, focusing into a burst of light on the side he was approaching from. Warily, he continued to approach, noticing a swirling eye inside the globe of glass, only to have a burning flash of light leap from the plinth towards him. Ducking out of the way just in time, Zy backed off only to hear the voice of the Lord of Lance Rock who was also in the room with them somewhere,
“Don’t you see it? The Eye! The Eye is wonderful, terrible. The eye is all powerful! Don’t you want to bow down in worship?”
Dismissing the question, Zy had a wicked idea.
Taking the mirror from Lerissa, Zy resolved to reflect the light blast from the plinth to hit the orb. Taking aim with the glass, Zy started to advance once more, his intent clear. The blast came a second time, nearly scorching Zy’s fingers as they held the mirrored surface. The beam reflected, almost burning down one of the blue curtains at the back of the room. Before Zy could set up for another attempt, Erik stopped him, pointing out for a second time,
“Why put yourself at risk? Let me.”
Using his Mage Hand spell, Erik lined up the glass from a distance and Zy moved forwards behind the mirror to trigger a third blast of light. The beam came but instead of hitting Zy, it hit the mirror Erik was holding aloft with his magic, reflecting perfectly at the glass orb that it was clearly protecting. The beam struck the orb, pushing it off it’s housing and off the back of the plinth. As it hit the ground and shattered into glass shards, the orb pulsed a blast of bright light, almost blinding the party. At this point the Lord of Lance Rock, having heard his precious orb destroyed, leapt out from his hiding place behind one of the curtains, magic wand in hand.
The fight was very short. The Lord of Lance rock fired upon Erik and Myrtle using his wand of magic missiles, dropping the Halfling but somehow failing to take the rival spellcaster down, too. Zydrunas and Lerissa advanced, but half blinded by the flash, neither could effectively take down the Necromantic nuisance. Lerissa opted to climb onto the plinth to gain the high ground and, boxed in as he was, the Lord of Lance rock met his demise without being able to use his wand a second time.
After dealing with Myrtle and ensuring she was OK, the group turned their attention once more to the Lord himself. Talking great care to apply a steadily increasing amount of pressure to the unconscious human’s skull, Zydrunas took great pleasure in slowly cracking it open until he was sure that this cave-dwelling Necromancer was no more. Looking through the Lord’s things, gathering up his diary and the glass fragments of the orb, the group decided to hunker down here to rest and recover from their trials.
While resting, the party read through the Lord’s diary. This was an interesting read, telling a story of a Waterdhavian noble ostracised by his family and striking out alone to perfect his dark craft and carve out a territory of his own. It was clear that this, Oerieth, started by finding this cave, finding bodies from burials or natural deaths and then came across a battleground between some monks and some blue armoured warriors (the same warriors Zy was looking for). Taking their bodies and selling their kit in local places for food and tools, it wasn’t long before Oerieth progressed to having to kill to gain fresh bodies to work with. He was obviously writing about anatomy and could have been an excellent surgeon but instead he chose this dark path. About a month ago, Oerieth stopped writing so extensively in his journal, instead making notes of bodies and experiments in brief notes before ceasing to record anything at all. No note of the Orb was ever made in the journal.
Resolving to return to Red Larch and turn over the evidence and cadaver locations to the constable and his men, the party made plans to return to Kayleesa at the Swinging Sword and tell her that they’d dealt with the evil at Lance Rock as she requested. What shenanigans will the party get up to once they return to Red Larch? Were the Monks that Oerieth got some of his bodies from the same Monks that were at the Swinging Sword? Who are the Knights in Blue? What was the Eye and where did Oerieth get it?
Find all of this out as our adventure continues (likely in 2017).