The City of the Dead
The three of them now went back towards the inn where they had stayed and where hopefully Gorfang and Gulblomst would be. Along the way, they found Tor, who had managed to gain his way to the surface.
They did indeed find them at the inn. The first thing they did was find clothes for when the spell wore off, they would be naked. Second thing was to think about Bevisric. The sorcerer said that now would not be the best time to try to rescue him, for the guards would be looking for the four of them.
Finally, the spell wore off, and the sorcerer said good-bye. He said that he was going to find a safe place to rest and regenerate magic points. He left us with a thought: “You should realize that a guard captain was paid a lot of money to grossly miscarry justice in a way that would get him killed if it were discovered.”
The day dawned, Witch-day of the ninth week of summer, and the group laid plans to escape the city. For Gorfang and Gulblomst, it would be easy, For Asmoufr, Boo-boo, and Tor, since they were escaped fugitives, it would be harder. They decided that they would try to climb over the walls as soon as darkness fell.
In the mid-morning, someone knocked on the door. It was a man that Gorfang recognized as an initiate at the Orlanth temple. His name, the man said, was Harvard. (“The first ’r’ is silent”) He had observed Gorfang when he had gone through the different temples, trying to get help to fight the miscarriage of justice. He was here to help us.
We explained the situation from the time we landed. He seemed reluctant to help us find Thingol, but he did say that he would help us try to right the wrong done to us.
At dusk, they went to the walls. Gorfang climbed up first, then he pulled Boo-boo up. When Harvard was climbing, a small crowd of children began throwing stones at him. Distracting them with money, the rest managed to get over the wall.
Going to a slum district, we reached the outer walls. As we were about to climb up, Asmoufr noticed the sorcerer a distance away, ready to Fly over the walls. We attracted his attention and asked him if he could help us yet again.
He asked if they were willing to become his slaves. No, they said. Then he asked if they would be willing to undertake an expedition to the City of the Dead. They might, was the reply.
The sorcerer agreed. He said he was low on magic points, so he would Fly himself to his tower, then he would come back to get them. So, he flew over the walls and disappeared. Some ten minutes later, what should come over the walls and land near us but a wyvern!
Ferrying them one at a time, they found themselves at the sorcerer’s tower. The door, if it could be called that, was a black block of stone that dilated as the sorcerer approached it, then closed up again when they had passed through.
He led them to a table, where they all sat. “Now tell me why you broke into the prison.” This they did.
The sorcerer went over to a trunk, pulled out a crystal ball and went into a trance, his lips mumbling. When he came out of it, he told them that he had been talking to the warden of the prison.
“It seems that he has some problems of his own. His watch sorcerer was found dead not an hour after you escaped. Someone was impersonating him. From what you’ve told me about your adventure, this would seem to be the deed of either a well-organized band of lesser sorcerers, or that of one very competent sorcerer. But why would anyone want you this badly? Why not just kill you and be done with it?”
They were reluctantly forced to admit that it could have been the owner of the scepter that Boo-boo and friends had stolen long ago in the swamps. This they told to the sorcerer.
“If I was this person, I would definitely want it back. And it is obvious that it would come to Fonrit, where the money is. This person must have a contact. I would lay good odds that this person is working in alliance with the King of the Dead.”
Asking who the King of the Dead is and what the City of the Dead is, the sorcerer told us the story. Back in the Second Age, when the Six-Legged Empire ruled, there was a city. It was very magical and very famous. The builders had placed it atop a hill. They didn’t know it was a volcano. At the end of the Age, the volcano erupted. Lava poured through the city, covering it completely, but leaving the subterranean areas intact, though buried even more. Now, people go to the city to, shall we say, mine it. The people who live there claim to be the descendants of the original inhabitants.
The King of the Dead is some kind of being. Nobody knows what he or she really is. There are also ordinary robbers who live there too. If you pay them, they will let you go in. If you come out with treasure, they will try to kill you.
The sorcerer’s deal was this. They would go into the City to try to find magical items. It would be split in half upon their return. This they agreed to.
He asked Boo-boo if he was the leader. He replied that he was. The sorcerer then went to a glass jar and pulled out a creature that looked something like a giant centipede and tape worm. It also had claws. “This is Zuzu. You’ll like him.” And he threw the creature at Boo-boo. It landed on Boo-boo’s abdomen, where it burrowed into his flesh like lightning. Then the wound sealed up.
“Zuzu won’t harm you unless you get too far away from me. Then he uses those claws you saw.” Boo-boo was enraged at the sorcerer, but he was adamant. “All you have to do is come back with the treasure, and I’ll remove him.”
With a monetary advance of 700 pennies, he told them to purchase whatever supplies they needed. They spent the next three days shopping and resting. Boo-boo managed to convince the sorcerer to give him something in exchange for having Zuzu inside him. The sorcerer gave him a Binding Enchantment containing a pain spirit.
On Gata-day of the tenth week, the sorcerer appeared with Bevisric! He then told us his tale. About ten minutes after the others had left, he heard a noise of chains rattling. With his halberd in hand, hiding to ambush the first person who came within reach, he was shocked to see a manacle and chain rattling along the floor, making sniffing noises!
As another one came in sight, he swung at the first chain and made a dent in it. Then it jumped up and wrapped around his neck. Another five came into the room just as the second one wrapped around his left arm. Though Bevisric managed to get one of them off, the rest hopelessly entangled him.
Into the room came the warden. The other ends of the chains were at his belt. “Where are the rest?” he demanded of Bevisric.
“My master Teleported out,” was his response. The warden cast two spells at him and asked again. “They went down the drain,” was his response124.
With the chains still entangling him, he was put back into his cell. Later, a sorcerer came down to question him. “What have you got to say for yourself?” Bevisric blew him a raspberry.
“Who’s your master?” “Fred.”
“How long has he been your master?” “For about a year.”
“Why didn’t you tell us you were his slave?”
“So that I could be with him and help him escape.”
The questions continued and Bevisric got more and more facetious. Finally the sorcerer said to the guards, “Heal him, then hit him.” Then they took him to another cell not on the magic level.
For the next three days, he had worked on a chain gang. Then, on Gata-day, a sudden cloud of darkness engulfed him and a few of the slaves chained next to him. The next thing he knew, he was freed of the chain and placed in a pocket. The sorcerer had Diminished his SIZ, then substituted a mandrake in his place.
Later that day, Boo-boo captured a shade while wandering on the Spirit Plane. On that day too, they convinced a Humakti mercenary to join with them. His name was Geraldon.
The next evening, they prepared themselves for the descent into the City of the Dead. The sorcerer said that he would cast one spell for each of them. Boo-boo, Harvard, and Gulblomst took Damage Resistance, Geraldon, Tor, and Gorfang Damage Boost, and Asmoufr an Enhance Strength and Enhance Dexterity. Asmoufr got two because Bevisric didn’t want a spell cast on him. When night fell, they started off.
They walked along the ground until they got close to the City. Then the ground changed to cold lava. As they walked, they could see some scattered camp fires. Suddenly, Gulblomst could hear someone approaching. She signaled for silence, then they all tried to sneak away. A voice called out, “Stop! We’re friends!”
Geraldon, with a geas against ambushing people, called out, “If you’re friends, let us pass!” Arrows flew towards his voice, but they all bounced. Bevisric, Boo-boo, Gulblomst, and Tor stayed behind while the rest charged. Boo-boo thought he could see about eight sources of POW. Bevisric, despite the bad light, managed to hit an opponent in the chest.
Gulblomst gave Bevisric a Firearrow and he promptly put it to good use, hitting a brigand in the abdomen. Geraldon and Harvard hit, felling their opponents. Asmoufr took a wound in his right arm. Then Bevisric fired more arrows, wreaking havoc. Geraldon scored again, as did Bevisric.
Then the brigands ran away.
After about a half-hour more, they reached a cave. Gorfang could tell that beyond the natural cave, there was cut stone. They went inside and found a stone corridor about 2 meters wide.
They formed a single file, Gorfang in front, then Harvard, Bevisric with a torch, Asmoufr, Geraldon, Boo-boo, Gulblomst with another light, then Tor. After about 10 meters, Gorfang could
- A combination of Mind-Read and Truthspeak.
see a light coming from around a corner to the right. Bevisric tried to sneak up and see, but he made a sound. Suddenly the light went out and then the sound of a loud bell began ringing.
Then a man came from the corridor wielding a spear. Boo-boo cast Disruption and Harvard a Demoralize. Both worked, but he still was stabbed Bevisric in the left arm.
Then he turned and ran down the corridor. Harvard turned and headed towards the sound of the bell. He found himself in a room with another man inside, ringing a bell. As soon as he saw Harvard, he dropped the bell and picked up a spear and shield. They fought briefly until Asmoufr and Gorfang came into the room, whereupon the man surrendered.
They took his bell and then left him. Just around the next corner, the corridor went forward, then turned to the left. Before that, it also turned right. Gorfang heard people quietly lurking around the corner to the left. Then a man jumped out from around the corner and fired his bow. It hit Harvard’s shield. Gorfang and Asmoufr sprang forward and hid behind the corner to the right.
This corridor went for about 2 meters until a portcullis blocked the way. Bevisric and Harvard readied their bows to fire.
A head quickly popped out, then drew back. Both Bevisric and Harvard held their fire. Then he jumped out and fired. All the shots missed.
A voice called out, “Back off!”
“Why should we?” questioned Gorfang.
“Are you going towards the left? Through the portcullis?”
“We might,” replied Gorfang. An arm tossed a rotten fruit out into the corridor. It landed about a meter from its starting point. “If you don’t come past the fruit, it’s okay with us.”
The portcullis was made of wood and bronze. Gorfang and Harvard tried to lift it, but failed as did Geraldon and Tor. Finally, Asmoufr chopped a way through it. Gorfang and Tor squeezed through and found a way to raise and lock the portcullis. This they did, then relocked it when everyone had come through.
The corridors led to many different rooms125. They found rooms with empty weapon racks, and rooms with empty trunks that may have held armor. They found broken arrows, empty crossbow quarrel cases, and rusted weapons.
Through another portcullis, they found a room whose door had no handles or knobs, but rather two silver plates whose touch caused the doors to open and close. Inside this room, they found an open chest that contained six cheap rings. In another room, they found stacks of parchment and rolls of papyrus, written in what appeared to be Fonritian. Each sheet or roll had what looked like a proper name at the top, but then it became unreadable.
Finally, they came to a set of double rooms each with an ornate door on the same side. The one on the left was smiling, the other, frowning.
Opening the one on the right, they entered a large room. Apparently, both of the doors entered into this room. It was about 25 meters by 15 meters, with 2 meter pillars placed evenly through the room. At the far end was a throne upon a dais, with what looked like a corpse sitting upon it.
As they spread out to examine the room, Bevisric noticed movement from behind one of the pillars. They approached cautiously, then from behind some pillars came six creatures. They were
- Doesn’t every dungeon?
all very ugly, very vicious, and looked very chaotic.
Four of them were snake-like or worm-like creatures. They had wicked-looking teeth. On their mid-bodies were riders who were also worm-like but bore long spears.
One of the other two was a bird-like creature with two heads. The last one was a large, hulking creature that we called a demon.
Bevisric whipped out his bow and fired at the nearest worm but the arrow bounced off a Damage Resistance. Then he was engaged in melee by a worm as were Geraldon, and Gorfang. Harvard was engaged by the demon.
Boo-boo released the pain spirit at the demon. Asmoufr was bitten in the leg and fell.
Geraldon managed to keep his feet despite a stomach wound.
Boo-boo then called up his shade. Bevisric, who had refused combat and instead run towards the corpse in the throne and chopped at it, whereupon it disintegrated. On the ground, Asmoufr was speared by the worm’s rider in the right arm. He fell unconscious, and the worm moved towards Boo-boo. Harvard criticalled the demon in the leg and it fell. He was attacked by a worm and rider, but his Damage Resistance kept him safe. Geraldon speared a worm and it fell, but the rider jumped off. Gorfang smashed at the same worm. Tor finally impaled it in the mid-body, killing it.
The shade now engulfed one of the worms and its rider. Boo-boo was knocked over by a spear in his right leg. Gulblomst tried a Firearrow dart, but missed. Bevisric, who had still not joined the fight, was speared in his right arm by a rider. Then, with his left hand, he punched the wall with all his might. His hand came back bloody. Harvard chopped at the demon again, but his stroke bounced. The demon then stood up again. The bird now flew towards Gorfang. He smashed at it and clipped a wing.
Gulblomst tried another dart with Firearrow, but missed again. The shade was dispelled and the worm and rider looked for opponents. Geraldon joined Harvard in fighting the demon, and he ht it in the left arm. Gorfang hit the bird again, knocking it over. Bevisric was speared in the chest, and died.
Gulblomst, fighting over Boo-boo, who was still Healing himself and others, took a spear in the abdomen, and died. The demon bit Geraldon, who had taken time to cast Truesword. Though he didn’t know it at the time, the bite was poisoned. Gorfang hit the bird again, and it stayed down. He shifted to the demon.
Geraldon cast Heal Wound and stood up just as Harvard scored on the demon’s chest.
Then Geraldon plunged his sword into the demon’s stomach. It died.
Tor, fighting a worm and rider, was bitten in the leg. His wounds were too much for him, so he died. Gorfang felled another worm in the mid-body, then fell himself as his wounds took their toll.
Gorfang and Geraldon accumulated wounds as they continued to fight. Then Geraldon killed another worm. Boo-boo, with his dagger, entered the melee, but his blow tinked. Geraldon scored on another worm, then killed it with another blow. Harvard scored as well. Geraldon then swung at one of the riders, but his swing was blocked, so he shifted targets, allowing the rider to escape.
Eventually, Geraldon killed the remaining worms. Then the poison hit him. He resisted, but
was still weakened heavily.
Bevisric’s hand was found to be covered in someone else’s blood! There was also a peephole next to the throne. Apparently, someone had been watching us from behind it. Bevisric then had punched at him or her, causing him or her to flee.
The only thing of value that the creatures had was on the demon. A patch of its skin held what looked to be some kind of spirit binding Enchantment. We left it there.
After testing the two doors in the room and finding them locked, we checked along the rear wall for a secret door. We found one and went through. It went down three stairs, then became a corridor. Along the floor was a trail of blood droplets. This we followed.
Turning a corner, with Gorfang in front, and Harvard behind him, they sprung a trap.
Crossbow bolts shot out from the wall. Gorfang caught one in the right arm, Harvard one in the abdomen, one in the right leg. After Healing them as best we could, we continued. The corridor dead-ended in a small room. Heading back, we went around a corner in a mirror image to the previous one where the trap had been. Laying a shield against the lowest crossbow hole, Gorfang triggered the trap. The bolts shot out, but no one was hit. Then we continued on.
The corridor zig-zagged around corners. Finally, around a corner, Gorfang detected someone. He and Asmoufr charged around the corner. Immediately, the person began a spell. He finished it before either of the two could attack. Flame burst from his outstretched fingers, catching the two of them, burning them.
Gorfang smashed the sorcerer’s right arm. Asmoufr bounced off a Damage Resistance.
Gorfang demanded his surrender, but the sorcerer refused and began casting another spell. Gorfang then smashed in his stomach, killing him.
We opened the door that was behind the sorcerer, and gasped. Inside were two humanoids, gagged and hung upside down. Two were human females, the other looked like a duck! But also in this room were objects that Boo-boo could tell were magical.
The two women were named Ilaire, and Minx. Ilaire was an herbalist slave who had run away from her master. Minx was a free thief. The duck was named Tommy Flanagen. They had all been captured by the sorcerer and had nothing to look forward to but being Tapped, then fed to the monsters.
The total amount of loot gathered was as follows: a stiletto and rock that the sorcerer carried; a vellum scroll; a small enameled box which was so black inside, the bottom could not be seen; a black blindfold which the three said not only was a regular blindfold, but that even after it had been removed, still kept the former wearer from seeing for about 24 hours afterwards; a right arm, artificial; a box with eight glass bottles filled with different colored powders; a large box containing ten amulets, all magical; a large device of many wires, tubes, and cages; a scroll; a small wand; a glowing shield; a sack full of gravel which was magical — each pebble would hold exactly one magic point; an eight-foot roll of silvery wire; a bottle of clear liquid whose cork had hair growing out of it; a bottle with a round base that was lighter than it should have been; two metal skewers that were so cold ice had formed on them; two crystal balls; a scroll with a partial map of the dungeon on it; and a chest containing about 7000 pennies.
Quick examinations proved that the gravel would store magic points. At a rate of one magic point per pebble!
Packing all of this loot plus the stacks of parchment and papyrus into some empty trunks, except for the device which had to be carried separately, we headed for the exit.
Back at the first portcullis, there was a guard lounging there. As soon as he saw us, he fled
back around the corner yelling, “They’re here!”
As we had brought the heads of the monsters we had fought, we then tossed them in the general direction of the robbers. After a brief parley, we left 2000 pennies in a pile in the room we were in. Then we left the dungeon.
With Gorfang in front, and Boo-boo watching the rear for any pursuit, we again traversed the lava flows. As we walked, a small person stepped out of a lava hole. “Hey buddies, do you need a guide?”
Our initial response was no, but logic prevailed. His fee was a handful of magic. We, of course, would let him have a handful of the gravel. His only instruction to us was, “Do exactly what I say when we meet people.”
As we continued, Gorfang heard some noise to our left. His dwarf sense told him there might be more than a dozen. The guide quickly said, “Everyone smile a really big, goofy grin and keep your hands away from your weapons.” This we did, as he cast a quick spell.
Suddenly, a line of men wielding crossbows showed themselves. Our skins then began to glow a soft greenish-yellow. The guide, in a strange buzzing voice said, “Come visit us!” The men then turned and ran.
Asking why they had run, the guide told us tales of the wazeen, who imitate the shape of humans for unspeakable reasons.
Finally, we were in sight of the sorcerer’s tower. We let the guide take a handful of the gravel, then asked him how he could be reached in case we wished to use his services. He told us to just drop a note in a lava hole that he pointed out. Or he could be reached at his house in the city.
His name, he said when we asked, was Thren.
Since he seemed friendly enough, we asked him if he could identify any of the objects we had recovered. Specifically, we showed him the scroll that went with the device. For another handful, he agreed.
After about a half hour of reading, he told us what the device did. Apparently, it was a matrix of some kind that allowed one to create living things by drawing certain characteristics from other beings, combining them, and then using a person’s blood to make the essential essence of the creature. It seemed to us that this was something that the sorcerer should not have.
The rest of the equipment he identified as follows: The rock was some kind of magic, similar to the stone we had acquired for Fusial. The vellum scroll held some kind of spell. The small enameled box seemed to have no bottom. The right arm was obviously to replace another right arm. The colored bottles would change the color of a person’s skin. The colors were bright green, pink, turquoise, black, violet, orange, transparent, and a bottle which removed the color. The identical amulets all stored magic points. The small wand would lessen the magic points needed to cast Heal by one point, to a minimum of one point. The glowing shield, he said, was just that. The silvery wire, he said, was a magic conductor. The bottle was what floated, not what was inside. The metal skewers were probably used to keep things cold. After he had examined the crystal balls, he then threw one of them to the ground. It broke into two fragments. But the fragments were still spheres! And when he put a magic point into one, it grew! The rest he didn’t know about, although the three new members did know about the blindfold. Besides acting as a blindfold, when it was removed, the person would still be unable to see for about a day after it was removed!
He now said that he wanted a skewer for his service as well. We let him have it.
We wanted to safely store the device, since none of us thought that the sorcerer should have it. We camouflaged it down in a lava hole, then returned to the sorcerer’s tower.
We showed him everything except the scroll containing the instructions for the device. He said that it would take about two days to analyze everything and that we should come back then.
On Witch-day, we did. Then he told us who would get what. He would take the small black box, the blindfold, the right arm, the large box, the small wand, 87 of the pebbles (half of what remained), the silvery wire, and two of the three crystal balls. Plus the parchment and papyrus scrolls. The rest we could have, including all of the money. For a fee, he told us what our stuff did. The stiletto wouldn’t come out of a wound except by the hand of the person who had inserted it.
The rock, or demon-stone, kept wounds from bleeding. The scroll contained a spell that stopped a Mystic Vision from registering. The glowing shield did just that. The clear liquid would grow hair, but only on certain inanimate objects. The bottle was what floated, he said, but object placed inside would weigh it down.
For the next few days we shopped for items that we needed. Our expressed purpose was to again enter the dungeon to find more magic items.
In the meantime, the duck had proved to be an intolerable being to live with, so we drove him away. In his place came another thief, Jihad by name.
So on Pamalt-day of the eleventh week of summer, we returned to the sorcerer’s tower.
The sorcerer’s offer was this: he would apply the spells to us in return for one-half of the magic items with a minimum of four. We agreed. Asmoufr took his Enhanced Strength and Dexterity. Minx and Harvard took a Damage Resist 10 while Geraldon and Gorfang took Damage Boost 10. As collateral for the amulet, the sorcerer took 20 gravel but put another pain spirit in it.
Our plan was to get rid of the robbers. Then we could finish exploring the dungeon with no further interference from them. The map we had found seemed to indicate a second way into the robbers’ hide-away. It might be that they had not discovered it and be vulnerable to an attack from the rear.
We managed to make it to the caves with no incident. Jihad went in the scout out the first room. He came back with word that there were two men inside, wearing a mixture of cuirboilli and leather. One had an axe and shield; the other had two shortswords. The room itself had a table and shelves of assorted junk.
After casting Speedart on his own shuriken and Minx’s dagger, the two of them crept to the corner. Then they threw. Minx’s dagger went true to the man with two shortswords. He fell with a dagger in his throat. Jihad’s throw was less accurate, nicking the man in his left arm. Jihad charged in, hoping to finish the man off. But just as he threw again, hitting the man’s abdomen, he had toppled the shelves with a resounding crash.
The others now ran towards the noise. Jihad jumped onto the table since the toppled shelf now separated them. The man connected his axe and Jihad’s abdomen, felling him. Asmoufr now came charging in and, leaping over the table chopped the man’s left arm off.
After he healed himself, Jihad finished his opponent off. The other had died from blood
Despite the loss of secrecy, we decided to continue with our plan. Thus, we followed the
map to the area indicated. Minx was able to slip underneath the one portcullis that we found and opened it. A long corridor stretched ahead, with doors on the left and right. The map said to open the first one on the left and, after first pulling the handle out, Gorfang lifted the hinges and shoved his way through.
The room looked like living quarters. There was a cot, a desk and chair, and a chest. A tapestry covered the far wall and two rusted, crossed scimitars decorated another. An oil lamp hung over the desk. A thorough search revealed 5 silver pieces in the lamp, moth-eaten clothes in the trunk, and some bronze lock-picking tools found in a case in the desk. A gilt-inlaid dagger with a jewel at the end was also discovered.
Behind the tapestry (of course!) was the narrow passage indicated. It went on for a long way to the right, but we went left then turned right. We entered a room that contained 15 saddles hung on one wall, saddle blankets on another, and pegs for holding other riding equipment.
Crossed riding crops hung over the far archway. Filling the archway and part of the room was a huge pile of straw. Gorfang though he heard voices on the far side of the heap.
After going back and conferring with Geraldon, who had stayed at the first portcullis, we decided on a two-pronged attack. Asmoufr, Gorfang, Minx, Jihad and Harvard would first attack through the pile of straw. When they were engaged in melee, Geraldon would come from the other side.
The five moved straw off of the pile, hoping that their work would be unnoticed by the
bandits. When they thought the time was right, they burst through. What met them was eleven men and two elves all with their weapons ready.
The fight was ferocious. Both Minx and Asmoufr were put out of the fight temporarily, the first by a Firedagger, the second by an arrow to the chest. Gorfang led the assault, killing five, including the two elves. Harvard killed one outright, as did Geraldon. Unfortunately, Geraldon died due to blood loss after sustaining many wounds. He was buried, as his will stated, “in my armor.”
The three survivors (the rest died of blood loss) bargained their gear for their lives and were let go. We equipped ourselves with their gear, Asmoufr the one most able to use it, and looked for their loot. Besides the gear, we found 460 pennies, a crude map, a crystal of some kind, two bound scrolls, a very nice bracelet with jewels, and three amulets.
Our return to the sorcerer’s tower was uneventful. There he divided the loot. The two scrolls were a Glow spell and an treatise on the Doraddi language. He took the crystal, which he told us would hold eleven magic points, two of the amulets, one of which was a Bludgeon 4 matrix and the other would confine a power spirit. He also took the Glow scroll. We were left with one amulet, which would also confine a power spirit, the Doraddi language scroll, the bracelet, and the rest of the loot. We traded some more of the pebbles and the amulet for the Bludgeon 4 matrix, which we thought could be very useful. He then told us not to come back, since we were not cost-effective.
Selling the weapons and armor turned out to be tricky. We ended up selling the entire lot to the local army for 3500 pennies. The bracelet we sold for 228 pennies.
The map was a crude drawing of the lava flows around the City of the Dead. The only writing on it was the words “Assim”, “Erlik”, and two spots marked “X” and “D”.
For about a week, we did nothing but enjoy ourselves, as much as we could in a city like Tondiji. But there was always bar-hopping and watching more innocent people turned into slaves. We met a son on a noble named Tathar. His family had given him the boot, and so he was now adventuring. He decided to accompany us for a while.
It was at one slave auction that we saw something completely different. It was a dark troll for sale. He was certainly in a foul mood, for he bit off the auctioneer’s fingers while he was demonstrating how tame the troll was. No one bought him.
Later that night, Tathar had an unexpected visitor in his room. It was the troll. Fearing the worst, Tathar was surprised when the troll asked him for help! He needed money so that he could get back to his people in the Mari Mountains.
Tathar brought the troll, whose name was Hooter, to the rest of us. We decided to help him by taking him with us back into the dungeon. We would evenly split any loot found. So back into the dungeon we went.
We continued our exploration of the area of the dungeon that contained the room that we had attacked from and the corridor next to it. The rooms appeared to be quarters, perhaps for a group of thieves. After exploring six of them, we had amassed a number of weapons, shields, pieces of armor, a small amount of money, and twenty feet of very fine gold chain.
Abandoning the rooms for the more mundane corridors, we went down an unexplored way.
The corridor forked, and both forks were blocked by portcullises. Fortunately, the mechanism was on our side, so we opened on and went through to the room beyond. Inside this room was a large wheel, set horizontally about four feet above the ground. A very large chain was wrapped around it, and one end went through a hole in the wall. Hooter, with his troll senses, could detect living flesh at the other end of the hole.
Leaving the wheel alone, we went into the other room. Luckily for us, we had left the wheel alone. For attached to the other end of the chain was the collar of a huge, chaotic creature. It had two heads, four tentacles, and a tail. It stood on its hind legs and hissed at it.
Hooter slung a stone at it, but it bounced. Jihad threw a shuriken and hit the creature, but the shuriken slowly came out of the wound and dropped to the ground. The wound continued to heal.
Since the monster could not reach us while the chain was mostly around the wheel, and since we could not hope to kill it, we left it alone. We were inside a large cavern with a stream running through the middle. On the other side was another corridor hidden by a false panel. The corridor ended at a metal door, but before that was a fine wire mesh, and a drain. When a spear was poked through the mesh, a loud ‘zap!’ was heard, and the spear slowly melted from the tip.
Behind another false panel was another corridor. Down this corridor was a store room. It held cloaks, belts, some old food, lanterns, beaten and battered swords and spears, and two crossbows which had been left cocked (which were of course now useless). At the rear of the room was what appeared to be a small closet. But when Hooter tried to enter it, he set off a Warding.
Since nothing responded to the alarm, Hooter went into the room. Inside he found seventeen small bags on a large wooden table, plus some other choice items.
Taking these items, we left the dungeon and went back to the city. Inside each of the seventeen bags were 25 guilders. There were 30 small gems, 20 better gems, and 20 pieces of gold. The three goblets were silver-plated and chased with jewels. Altogether, each of us came out with 315 pennies.126 Hooter thanked us, then left the city.
- Unbeknownst to us, Hooter had filched some of the items for himself. This included four bracelets and five rings. Hooter came out ahead 345 pennies more than the rest of us.
The next day, we decided to try the Lhankor Mhy temple as a source of information. We paid an acolyte to try to find any old maps of the City of the Dead. The acolyte told us to come back tomorrow, which we did. The acolyte had found two maps of a dungeon which an adventurer had mapped. The dungeon was supposedly the home of someone called Erlik. The acolyte said that Erlik was the name of the being who was the King of the Dead. He also said that the City of the Dead was where sorcerers would come and see different creatures held in cases and cages. In short, a zoo. But this zoo also held chaotic creatures as well.
Since on one of our maps was the word “Erlik”, we thought that perhaps the map we had just purchased would be the same. And if Erlik was indeed the King of the Dead, perhaps that was where Thingol would be found.
So we paid some of the local sorcerers to cast spells on us (Either Damage Resistance and Spell Resistance or Damage Boost) and we set out to Erlik’s place. With us went Dohza, a Humakti who wished to go with us and gain experience.
On the way, we saw a fire up ahead. Jihad and Minx tried to sneak up to it, but failed. There were three people, two of them were in robes. They saw the two, then in a buzzing voice said, “Greetings.” Jihad and Minx immediately fled, yelling “Wazeen!” at the top of their voices.
As they ran towards the others, they could see one wazeen jumping after them, with 20 foot leaps. Their hands were stretching outwards towards the two. Jihad stopped and threw a Firearrowed shuriken which hit the wazeen dead in the chest, but it kept coming. It tried to grab Jihad in a ten foot long arm that came from its mouth, but Jihad dodged it and ran away, Mobilized.
The rest of us had by now heard the two and began running also. But on top of the two sides of the lava canyon we were running in were the other two wazeen. They suddenly began to sort of open up, like a flower does from a bud. Tentacles began to cross our path, blocking us. Jihad, then Minx, Harvard, and Dohza jumped through. Tathar was a bit too slow and was attacked by a tentacle. Though he parried it, the attack ate away part of his shield. Then he was through.
We ran almost back to Tondiji. But on the way, we ran into a little man. He was glowing greenish, but when he recognized us, he stopped glowing. It was the same person we had met earlier.
For a small sum, he agreed to guide us to Erlik’s place. We learned from him that the wazeen aren’t the greatest trackers in the world.
We made it to the place indicated on our map. The entrance was a long paved path with stone pillars lining it. Jihad snuck inside to see what was there.
Minutes later he snuck back out, saying that there was a niche on the left side just a few feet inside. He had seen a big nasty troll-looking something.
Harvard and Dohza went in and killed the monster. It looked something like a cave troll. But as they finished off the monster, from a door up ahead came two people, hissing at them. One moved forward, wielding a scimitar.
Tathar quickly fell to the scimitar. A Stupefaction spell washed over us all, but affected none. Tathar then managed to get up again. He thrust with his sword and penetrated the man’s Damage Resistance. His sword passed through the man’s abdomen. Then his armor fell to the ground as smoke replaced the man. He was a vampire.
The rest quickly tried to dispatch the other with a blow to the head or the chest. But before we could do this, the second vampire had turned into smoke as well.
Inside the room where they had come from was a table and some chairs. From the other accouterments, we deduced that this was a sitting room. In the room next to it, towards the entrance, was two piles of dirt about the area of a man lying down. The piles were six inches high. They also had bodily impressions in them.
Jihad, who had run from the battle to try to get behind the vampires, had found himself in a chapel done entirely in black. He had seen a number of coffins, at least a dozen, but he wasn’t sure exactly how many.
Since some of us were injured and we were low on magic points, we decided to return to the city. This we did without incident.
We spent the next day recruiting for more people. Lured by the map of Erlik’s place, which had many symbols for money, we managed to get four more people to come with us. They were Libra, Lem, Ishmael, and Agrian. Only Agrian had professional warrior’s experience.
That night, after getting more spells cast upon us, we went back to Erlik’s dungeon. Jihad and Minx crept into the dungeon. They found the same two vampires in the same room. A furious melee erupted. At the end Tathar managed to force them both to dissolve. But we knew that they would reform in only a few minutes. We decided to wait for them to do this.
In the meantime, some of use explored the chapel further. In a small storeroom we found different light sources: candles, torches, lamps, and oil. The chapel itself contained a number of coffins.
But back where the others were, the vampires had reformed and were attacking Lem, Ishmael, and Agrian. Agrian immediately hit one and forced it to turn into smoke. The other turned into a bat and flew away deeper into the dungeon.
Continuing through the chapel and down a side corridor that Jihad had not taken, we discovered rooms that seemed to serve as washrooms or store rooms.
Further exploration on this level seemed pointless for the present, so we went down one of a paired set of stairs. They both ended up in the same landing. So we explored on this level.
At one point we came across two corridors that branched off to the left. Each of them contained many alcoves, and each alcove that we could see contained a human skeleton. Jihad went down the first alcove and thought he heard a hissing noise but could not be sure. Then as he went down the second, all hell broke loose.
From out the of the first corridor came a huge and terrible creature with large teeth, claws, and tentacle on its back. Minx, who was closest, managed to dodge the tentacle. The impact gouged out some stone of the walls. She then ran for it.
We were mostly strung out along the corridor, so trying to retreat produced only a mess. A tentacle hit Dohza in the abdomen and would have killed him had not Ishmael saved him. One of its claws then tore at Ishmael’s right leg, laying it open. Jihad, who had been caught behind the creature, courageously jumped onto the creature’s back and began stabbing it.
Finally, the creature lay dead. It then began to dissolve into a pink, gooey mess. Examining the creature’s lair, we found that there were 26 alcoves in all. Each had either a skeleton or a badly decomposed and mutilated corpse. At the other end of the two corridors was a crossing corridor and a door with glyphs of some kind inscribed on them. In one direction the corridor turned back alongside the other two corridors, but quickly dead-ended. The other sloped upwards, but there
were slits on the floor. Suspicious, we threw a corpse onto the floor. From out of the slits near and presumably under it, things whipped out and began to slice the corpse into tiny bits.
Concentrating on the door, which was sealed around the edges with lead, we got the lead out and picked the lock. The room inside was lavishly furnished with a carpet and tapestries for the floor and walls. Tables and chairs, books and papers, and on the wall above the door, two iron scimitars in jewel-encrusted scabbards stapled to the wall. With some effort, we removed the scabbards and discovered that the scimitars were iron.
Since we had hit the jackpot for now, we quickly left and made our way back to the city.
We estimated that the jewels on the scabbard were worth about 7000 pennies. We divided the jewels up amongst us as best as we could.
Next week, on Empress-day, it dawned on us that we could use some extra magic against vampires. We asked Dohza, the Humakti, to bargain for us. The price asked was 1500 pennies and the two iron scimitars. We paid it.
The next day, we picked up the matrix and set out on an expedition back into Erlik’s dungeon. After checking the first two rooms where the two vampires had been previously, we went into the chapel. And were ambushed. A Palsy spell caught all of us. Jihad was paralyzed in the left leg; Gorfang in the abdomen; Dohza in the right arm; Minx in the left leg; and Lem in the right leg. Neither Harvard nor Tathar were affected.
After a quick combat, Lem managed to kill one of the vampires. The other one faded just before Gorfang could administer a fatal blow.
We decided to see what lay down some unexplored corridors. In one side corridor lay a set of stairs going down. But in two alcoves flanking the stairs were two statues of lion-like creatures. As we tried to pass between them, the one on the right said, “Speak.” Jihad replied, “Hello.” “That is wrong”, replied the one of the left.
Stepping back and then through and trying different words always elicited the same response. But when the word “Erlik” was spoken, there was no response. Taking that as an assent, we tried to go through. Then the one on the left said, “Wait — finish.” Neat.
Deciding to explore further, we ignored the statues for now. In a nearby room, we found a rack of spears, some old torches, an alarm gong, and hanging upside down from the ceiling, four corpses with their throats slit.
Watching and listening down the corridor, Lem heard something coming. We kept quiet and let Lem tell us what he saw. What he saw were 16 men coming down the corridor from the entrance. One was in plate armor, five were in livery, and the other ten looked like hired men. One of them was an elf, and some of them were blue-skinned.
They went to the stairs with the statues. Each of them then recited, “Erlik, drink my blood”, then went through and down the stairs.
Quickly but quietly we followed them. Using the phrase we had heard, we went down the stairs. To be confronted with two more statues, this time of griffins. And the phrase, “Erlik, drink my blood” didn’t work!
We tried many different variations on the same sort of theme. None worked. Finally, we went up and back onto the level we had been on. A few minutes later, we could hear the sounds of fighting going on down the stairs. We all hid except for Lem, Jihad, and Gorfang. Lem used Wind Words to hear what the men said to pass the griffins. The phrase used was, “Erlik, crack my bones.”
Except for Jihad and Gorfang, the rest of us hid in the room again. What the two of them saw was one man come up the stairs, yell “Erlik, drink my blood” and suddenly stop when he saw the two of them. Then he turned and ran out. Three more did the same, then the two heard a noise that was not like a man. It was a large clanking noise. They too hid.
The clanking noise sounded like it had left the dungeon. There then followed a fierce debate on what to do next. Now that the creature was gone, some of us wanted to explore what was down there. The rest argued that doing so would make it real easy to get trapped down there when the creature returned.
Here the text of the Campaign Log ends.