28th Marpenoth (contd.)
Crake enters the hallway from the mosaic chamber, spotting a secret panel halfway down the corridor. The rogue signals to the others to approach, and they open the panel, revealing a narrow shaft heading down. Deciding to press on, Crake triggers a pressure plate in the floor which sends a boulder made of skeletal bodies rolling down the corridor towards the party. It runs over Gwastdyn and Turin first, then Ug gets caught up in it and is sent crashing into the wall at the end of the hallway!
With everyone feeling beaten up, the PCs take a short rest in the chamber. Turin tries to pinpoint the strong smell of incense but there is no obvious source.
Opening the door to the east, the PCs enter the former library, now stripped bare of books. The ghostly librarian, a woman named Ilda, manifests – her terrifying appearance shocks Ug who ages 20 years! Ilda was supposed to have guarded Diderius’ books and her failings as a librarian mean she is tied to this chamber. Gwastdyn speaks to the ghost who reveals that Diderius’ powerful divination pool allowed those using it to peer past the magical protections that block lesser divination magic. She warns the PCs that the pool’s revelations can drive you insane unless you asked a specific question, and that gazing into the pool without first making a sacrifice is very dangerous. She also tells the PCs that yuan-ti have taken up residence in the complex.
Next, the party enter the throne room. Here a well-muscled twelve-foot-tall male humanoid with a flowing white beard is sitting on a throne; a large pile of treasure lies at his feet. When the PCs approach, he says “Ye who seek Diderius’ insight must first furnish tribute, that Diderius might work his mighty magic. Lay such tribute at my feet and depart”. When the PCs ask other questions, they get the same response. They leave a few coins each and leave by the western exit.
Five bearded devils are sitting at stone tables in the dining room beyond. Although they don’t seem hostile, Ug is incensed at their presence and attacks. Turin casts shatter and Gwastdyn summons a pack of wolves to defeat the fiends. Stairs in this room lead up to what was once a bedchamber. Here, a pair of wraiths and four spectres attack the party, draining their life energy – poor old Ug suffers the most, losing 30 hp from his maximum.
Once the undead have been vanquished, the PCs search the room, finding books and treatises on divination, silk robes, a magical ring of poison resistance and two scrolls of remove curse. Crake “pours” from the empty silver ewer into one of the goblets on the side table. This fills it with a fuming gas. Ug and Turin deduce that the gas protects from poison when “drunk”. Low on spells and wounded, the PCs hole up in this chamber and take a long rest.
Returning to the library, the PCs give the books they found to Ilda. The ghost smiles gratefully before fading away into nothingness.
Next, the PCs reach the pool chamber – a dead cultist lies on the floor amidst broken arrows and other debris. Ug and Gwastdyn return to the well, fill a bucket and pour water into the basin. Sure enough, the pool fills, flaring with black light. Unfortunately, Crake and Turin do not heed Ilda’s warning and their eyes are drawn to the water. Both go insane – Turin passes out, while Crake starts crawling around on the floor, eating moss. By the time Ug and Gwastdyn return, the water has evaporated, but they are able to bring their companions back to their senses. Examining the cultist’s body, they realise he has been sacrificed. The arrows in here appear to have been fired from the southern doors and perhaps belong to the yuan-ti.
The double doors lead into Diderius’ crypt: the walls are covered in frescoes and his great sarcophagus rests on a dais. Ug can sense the presence of undead in the sarcophagus and behind the walls, so the PCs debate what to do next. Is there a sacrifice they can make to the pool? Would Rosie be willing to take one for the team?
After deciding against this drastic course of action, they search the dungeon for secret doors they might have missed before returning to the well. Gwastdyn wildshapes into an otter and is lowered down the well in the bucket. Unfortunately, the surviving troll is lurking at the bottom and takes a swing at the shapechanged druid, which turns him back into a dwarf. Gwastdyn scrambles up the rope as Ug pulls it from above, while Turin and Crake attack the troll. The foul creature drops back into the water and swims off when the druid drops a flaming sphere down the shaft.
Still stumped, the PCs return to the throne room. Crake realises the giant figure in here is a clay golem disguised with an illusion – Ug urges the others to leave it well alone.
With no other option, the party go back to the crypt and approach the sarcophagus to speak with Diderius. A deep clear voice from inside the coffin tells them that yuan-ti have taken Varram the White to their lair. A moment later, a secret door opens in the north wall...