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Into the Shadowhaunt
Landing!

…continues from Prelude, Scene #07

Synopsis
The 10th Day of Ches in the Year of the Sudden Journey
After embarking on The Guiding Fire the group have been attacked by a group of goblinoids at sea. After repelling the bulk of the boarders a spindly figure on the enemy ship summoned a creature from the depths of the sea that crushed their ship. Guided by the light of Celestia’s amulet the group found the lifeboat and clambered aboard. All on board were exhausted, and by the soft glow of the amulet they drifted off to sleep.
Scene Length
This scene starts on Thursday 9 September 2010 and is expected to be completed by the end of Friday 17 September 2010.
Players are expected to be able to post at least twice a day.
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Article Notice
Originally in Google Wave

!

This scene was originally written within Google Wave. The scene has been transcribed here for completeness, and has been edited where required.

The original Wave is now lost with the demise of Google Wave, but the PDF extract of that original scene is provided here.

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Storyline
The Bronze Lion Inn

01

Zero woke first, startled by the sound of a lock being turned and the tumblers moving out of place. He was in a smallish room, perhaps even the room of an inn, with a window that looked as though it had been hastily boarded from the outside — slim shafts of light streaming through into the room and hurting his eyes.

He was on the floor, on some form of mattress. Near him were Tradden and Khalin, also on mattresses on the floor. He sat up, and shoved both of them to try to wake them and scanned the rest of the room.

Kireth and Celestia were on two small beds at either side of the room. All of them were dressed in long nightshirts, and there was no sign of their gear. Tradden stirred a little, and Khalin woke with a snort.

The door handle turned and the large wooden door creaked open. Zero dropped back to a sleeping position and kept one eye slightly open for the door.

Two figures stood there, dressed in battered, but serviceable chain mail, each carrying a halberd in their hands and a longsword at their side.

‘C’mon, wake up!’ shouted one of them, waking all from their reverie. ‘The Council want to see you pronto.’

With that he switched his halberd around with aplomb and started poking the group.

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The Bronze Lion Inn

02

The party woke quickly, aided by the prods from the guards’ halberd hafts. The guards were not rough, and almost apologetic in their manner, but still seemed a little suspicious of the group.

Zero stood first and casually walked across to the guards, tripping over the loose sheets from the mattresses on the floor. ‘’Scuse me,’ he said apologetically as he delicately took the key from the guard’s belt and slid it up the sleeve of his nightshirt.

As Kireth woke on one of the beds he looked around frantically for his gear. After a few moments scanning the room without success his eyes sparkled with anger, but he managed to keep his calm in front of the guards, saying nothing.

Khalin rose noisily, great snorts and bellows accompanying his rise. He looked disdainfully at the nightshirt, too large for a dwarf and trailing on the floor. ‘This is no dress for a dwarf!’ he roared. ‘Where’s my armour, and my hammer?’

Tradden got up still half asleep, not entirely sure where he was. As Khalin and Zero padded forwards towards the guards and the door, he fell into line, wiping the sleep from his eyes.

Celestia rose last, somewhat embarrassed and also mildly furious at being in the same room as the rest of the group in such circumstances. She clutched the amulet at her neck, now inert and cool. At least they hadn’t taken that.

‘C’mon, they’re only downstairs. Then you can get yerself some breakfast!’ stated one of the guards, and headed out of the door into a corridor, his boots echoing on the wooden floors.

The group, somewhat dazed, followed silently out, the other guard bringing up the rear. Along a corridor and down some stairs and they were into the common room of a small inn.

A fire blazed to one side in an ornate grate, and a ramshackle bar filled almost one side of the room. Behind it, barely visible over the bar, was a small halfling, eyeing the group intently whilst cleaning a mug.

In the corner of the room was a large table with three figures sat behind it, and five chairs set out for the party. The guards motioned for the group to sit down, and then asked the figure to the left, ‘Is that all, sir?’

The figure nodded and the guards visibly relaxed, before heading towards the large oaken front door and out into the world beyond.

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Storyline
The Bronze Lion Inn

03

‘It seems your arrival is somewhat of a coincidence, gentlemen,’ spoke the figure in the centre. ‘And lady,’ he continued, with a sincere nod at Celestia.

The man was human, fairly tall judging by how he was sat, with fine but discreet clothing, and a well-kept beard and hair. Judging by the clothes and grooming, he wasn’t a pauper by any means. His voice was steady and assured, as though he was used to speaking to audiences, and he had a distinct accent as one from Deepingwald.

‘My name is Tymander Small,’ he said, ‘part of our Town Council. Here on my right is Captain Barghest of our guard, and on my left is His Radiant Servant, Tremak.’

Tymander indicated the larger, well-built man on his right, with flowing grey hair and a goatee to match over a ruddy complexion, and then to the man on his left, a smaller but slightly fatter man with a thin nose and overly ostentatious clothing and jewelery to match.

‘Between Barghest, Tremak and myself we represent the fortunes of our town, and always have a keen interest in, uhm, ‘visitors’. Don’t fear,’ he smiled, ‘you are not prisoners nor are you under any obligations, however, there are a number of items you could help us clarify.’

Kireth interrupted, coldly, ‘If we are not prisoners, perhaps you could inform us where our clothes and equipment may be?’

‘Ah, yes, of course. Skillet here,’ he said motioning at the barkeep with a flourish of his hand, ‘has them in the storeroom for safekeeping. They were a little damp when we found you, so they’re drying as we speak.’

‘Where exactly did you find us?’ asked Khalin, with a slightly puzzled look.

‘Unconscious in a barely seaworthy rowboat, bobbing about in the bay,’ exclaimed the well-built man, Barghest.

‘It seems you have had good fortune on your side.’

‘Now,’ continued Tymander, ‘perhaps you’d like to tell us how you appeared here so suddenly and at such a time?’

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The Bronze Lion Inn

04

It took a few moments before anyone in the group piped up. Kireth, still furious at the loss of his items remained tight-lipped, staring intently at Tymander. Tradden was still having problems waking up. Zero was never one for great oratory to a wide audience, and Celestia was still embarrassed and defensive after being left in a simple nightshirt.

Khalin took it upon himself to tell their tale. He was careful in the way he told it, leaving some details out, such as Kassar’s involvement, for now. He recounted the viciousness of the battle and the horror of the sea beast, ensuring that Captain Abraham received the honourable mention he deserved. Khalin mentioned that when he had been thrown through the air he spotted the small life boat, and had managed to get everyone aboard — omitting the detail about the light emanting from Celestia’s amulet. The rest of the journey had been a mystery.

All three of the Council looked glum as the news of The Guiding Fire’s destruction, and Tremak muttered something about a service of remembrance to which all nodded in agreement.

‘Then it looks as though we are alone,’ stated Tymander, slowly shaking his head. ‘I’m not sure the Elders will send further ships when The Guiding Fire does not return.

‘And you came as adventurers to Blackengorge, you say,’ continued Tymander. ‘Well, that is something we can offer you straight away! It seems such a coincidence that you have arrived on this day.’

‘Some would say a great coincidence,’ muttered Tremak under his breath.

Tymander continued with a scowl at Tremak. ‘Surely it is the Gods themselves that have blessed us with your arrival, guiding you safely through peril to your ultimate destination, for we have two of our own that have gone missing. Perhaps you would help us look for them?’

‘We can’t spare the guard at the moment to go searching. Snow draws near and goblin attacks won’t be far away,’ Captain Barghest interrupted. ‘But we need to find these boys.’

‘They went missing two days ago, perhaps the same time as you were under attack. Offa and Bailey they are called, both not yet at adulthood. We thought they might be playing a prank, as they often liked to play up near the old mausoleum on the hill outside of town.

‘After they’d been missing for some hours, Sergeant Valino, one of our guards, went up to the mausoleum, but there was no sign. However, the great door was slightly ajar. Valino went inside, but couldn’t see any sign of them, nor could he find any other exits. Where they have gone is a mystery.’

‘If you could search for the boys we would much appreciate it. We don’t have much money here, but I’m sure we could come up with something. So, what do you say?’ asked Tymander, beaming at the group.

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The Bronze Lion Inn

05

Zero leaned closer to Tymander.

‘Well, it seems we are indebted to you for taking us in,’ he said, with a winning smile designed to disarm any potential enemies. ‘My thanks. And I presume you are the mayor of this town, Mr. Small?’

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The Bronze Lion Inn

06

‘As my comrade says, it appears we owe you are our gratitude,’ Khalin nodded. ‘Honour demands we accept your request,’ Khalin added as graciously as he could, considering the group’s understandable and still simmering indignation at having their possessions removed — even temporarily.

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The Bronze Lion Inn

07

Tymander smiled and nodded at both Zero and Khalin.

‘I am no mayor, simply part of our Town Council. I speak on behalf of our economic interests, Captain Barghest on our security, and Tremak on our religious and moral well-being.

‘Thank you for accepting our offer so readily. We want to find our missing sons as soon as possible. Their names are Offa and Bailey, and our suggestion would be to search the old mausoleum for clues first. I’m sure Valino has done a thorough job as usual, but there’s no harm in a second opinion.

‘Skillet here,’ he continued, motioning off-handedly to the halfling barkeep, ‘will see to it that you get all of your possessions returned and you have a hearty breakfast before you set on your way.’

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Blackengorge

08

Skillet took the group through into the storeroom where their gear had been laid out in good order. With the use of a couple of the inn rooms — one separate for Celestia — they soon were back into their familiar clothing, now dried.

The little halfling produced a cooked breakfast, seemingly from nowhere, and they all tucked in, not quite realising how famished they were from the previous couple of days’ events until they started eating. Khalin especially seemed to eat well, examining others’ plates to check if they had finished or not, and whether they were leaving that last egg.

Tymander then led the group outside.

It was a chilly spring morning with fairly clear skies and a northerly wind, the storm at sea not reaching this far. Sounds and smells of a small hamlet greeted the group as they followed Tymander into the central area of the town. Oxen braying, chickens clucking, the sound of hammer on metal, the smell of wood fires burning and meat being roasted all wafted across the party.

The inn was one of the larger buildings, built around a central circular plaza where two old trees gave a large amount of shade. Around the rim of the plaza seemed to be the dark remains of the foundations of an old stone building, the stone blocks now removed and used elsewhere in the town. Other houses, presumably for the inhabitants of the town, were of more modest and wooden construction, arranged in rings around the plaza.

A larger stone building, with obvious carvings and decorations marking it as a temple to Pelor, stood behind the inn. To the east of town guards could be seen practicing on a patch of rough ground. A wooden stockade, roughly circular, wound its way around the town protecting it from intruders.

Tymander led the group over towards the east of town, past the guards, and over towards a small gate that was currently open. The group could see a small bridge at the other side of the gate over an empty moat. He stopped at the gate.

‘Well, if you follow the path north from this gate, you will head straight up the hill and towards the mausoleum. It’s well trodden — the priests have kept the outside of the mausoleum well tended, and you can’t miss it. It’s not far. Please take a look and report back what you find. Hopefully there will be clues to the boys’ disappearance.

‘Have you any further questions before you depart?’

With none forthcoming, the group were ushered outside and into the fresh air.

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Blackengorge

09

As the group mulled around the East Gate they noticed they were drawing the attention of some of the locals. Many of them had stopped their daily chores to examine the group, weighing them up almost expertly. From the shadows of one of the buildings, Zero was pleased to see a couple of young lasses looking at himself and Tradden, pointing and giggling.

Some of the guards had stopped their training, too, and were studying the group. One in particular, with immaculate scale mail and gleaming halberd watched them intently, before shouting at the guards to resume their duties.

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Blackengorge

10

Zero elbowed Tradden, drawing his attention to the girls.

He waved at them, eyes twinkling, heart thumping excitedly. Roll on this evening.

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Blackengorge

11

Khalin rolled his eyes. ‘This is no time for joking — two young men may be in danger, and if the stories are true, the mainland is no place for the fainthearted.’

The group’s escape from what looked like certain death on the stormy sea had been almost miraculous, and the warlord was somewhat sobered by the realisation of how close they’d been to the afterlife. After pondering a heartbeat to consider if the two haughty elves in the group would be likely to get anywhere near whatever passed for the great Hall of Heroes in elf lore, he gestured towards the path with his hammer.

‘Come on!’

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Blackengorge

12

Neither of the two warriors could know it, but their thoughts were not too dissimilar, although perhaps the thinking of the young human was even more sobered than the dwarf.

The events at sea had certainly left their mark on Tradden. Whilst he had been able to just about take the battle in the mansion and mine complex in his stride, even to the point of taking his first life of another person, being snatched from a sinking ship in the middle of the ocean by a horrific, slimy, tentacled sea monster and then being washed up on a far away shore was a step too far.

Unbeknownst to the others, he had actually been ready to make his excuses during the meeting with the town council leave the group. Even if there had been no immediate transport back to Deepingwald, he would have been happy to simply stay at the inn and wait for the next opportunity.

However, in truth he had no friends other than those he now walked with, and would have been loath to leave the side of Zero and Khalin in particular.

Of course, the attention from some young lasses had caused the two ends of his mouth to briefly flicker and register the smallest of grins, but that was as much as he could muster and he had turned away. His face and general body language betrayed morose depression, and it was all he could do to lift his legs one after the other as he trudged after the warlord, his head bowed.

As they walked, Tradden realised that despite the food and drink the inhabitants of the town had given them, he was still a bit peckish. He slipped his pack off one shoulder and rooted around to see if any of the hard, leather-like rations some of the sailors on The Guiding Fire had given him had survived. As he rummaged he found the envelope given to him by Guard Captain Jerrold in Deepingwald, until now completely forgotten about.

‘Oh yeah!’ he exclaimed loudly, suddenly enthused, whipping it out of the pack and holding it in front of him, as if it were an object of revulsion or danger. ‘I guess we should open this now?’ he asked aloud.

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Blackengorge

13

The letter was a little worse for wear — water had gotten to it during Tradden’s unexpected plunge into the ocean, and it looked as though the wax seals had come away slightly, allowing the envelope to flutter open in the breeze.

The letter itself had fared very badly — some of the ink had smeared and in places the parchment had completely disintegrated, large holes obscuring whatever text had been scribed. However, in areas some of the text was decipherable, albeit potentially parts of words. The text didn’t appear to be long and was signed, frustratingly preserved in all its glory, with a flourish from the Watch Captain.

What could be recovered seemed to mention an ‘elf’, or at least that syllable, as well as ‘cave’. Everything else seemed to blur into the parchment.

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Blackengorge

14

‘Oh,’ said Tradden dejectedly, letting his hand, still gripping the parchment, fall limply by his side.

He conveyed the contents to the group, and when finished he looked up to the skies, as if communicating with one of the many Gods, none of whom appeared to be paying Tradden any attention right now, bar those of ill-will and poor luck.

‘Perhaps I should have opened it earlier?’ he finished, steeling himself ready for the barbed comments that were surely to come, especially from Kireth’s direction.

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Blackengorge

15

Zero patted his friend on the shoulder. ‘Don’t kick yourself,’ he said. ‘Frankly, I’m just happy to be alive.’ Then his smile suddenly fell. ‘Although, the thought of all that treasure sailing away into the dark does put a slight damper on things.’

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Blackengorge

16

In spite of himself, Khalin had to smile. Sure, the last few days had been a big culture shock compared to his times with the dwarven Border Guard and the guild of artisans before that, but the apparent enthusiasm and camaraderie of his new friends in the face of danger and despondency was infectious.

Khalin looked over towards Kireth and Celestia. The two elves had kept their own counsel since leaving the inn. Kireth’s enigmatic visage and Celestia’s aquiline countenance betrayed little of their thoughts — particularly to a dwarf’s eye.

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Blackengorge

17

The group set off over the bridge and followed the priests’ path north towards to mausoleum. Khalin did his best to raise the spirits of his comrades starting a tale on how the dwarven lords of old had many halls under the mountains with copper and tin mines, and even rubies, emeralds, silver and gold, which piqued Zero’s interest.

It didn’t take the group long to march up the hill towards the mausoleum, where they could take in more of their surroundings.

Below they could see Blackengorge, two circular stockades surrounding the town. Past it to the west was the sea. To the north was a high cliff running all the way down to the sea, and this was mirrored to the south. Before the cliffs to the south was what appeared to be a lake, but a fine mist covered it, even in the breezy day today. Between the town and the sea were a few fields that had been carefully tilled, and a large area of woodland. The townsfolk seemed to have everything they needed right on their doorstep!

The mausoleum itself was a lonely granite and slate building, with a small iron fence and a few gravestones. A massive iron-bound double door allowed entrance to the mausoleum.

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Blackengorge

18

Despite his glum mood, Tradden found time to appreciate the view. It was impressive for sure, but the young fighter was in glass-half-empty mode.

‘So that’s the infamous Blackengorge? I thought it would be more black and, well, more gorgey.’

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Mausoleum

19

Tradden turned back to face the mausoleum, hands on hips looking at the doors square on.

‘I suppose,’ he said, ‘we had best start looking for these boys.’

[Tradden Perception Check: 1d20+2: 19] - success!

As Tradden looked around the outside of the mausoleum he noticed in the soft ground three sets of fresh humanoid footprints heading from the direction of town up to the mausoleum. One set of tracks appeared a bit lighter than the other two, as if an elf were travelling with a pair of humans.

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Mausoleum

20

Kireth walked over to the mausoleum doors, they looked stiff and heavy, nothing unusual there. No doubt that Valino gentleman could have managed them but could the boys? He placed his hand on the right hand door and gently tried it, not to open it but just too see how free it was and test his theory.

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Mausoleum

21

Still looking back and forth at the tracks, Tradden voiced what he was thinking as Kireth examined the door.

‘Hmm, slightly odd in that the tracks lead in, but not out. Also, who is the third person? Could Sergeant Valino be an elf, half-elf, halfling or somesuch I wonder?’

The young fighter scratched his head, messing up his newly styled hair somewhat absentmindedly.

‘I have never actually been inside a tomb of any kind,’ he continued, giving a little shiver. ‘Still, there is a first time for everything!’

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Mausoleum

22

As Kireth approached the doors he noticed that the right-hand one was open a crack. Not enough to peer through, but enough to suggest that someone else had come through recently. With his hand on the right hand door, Kireth could feel the sheer weight of the oak timbers, but to his surprise they moved with little effort.

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Mausoleum

23

Stepping back at the surprise of the doors’ free movement, Kireth studdied them in more detail, looking for signature of their origin.

[Kireth History Check: 1d20+9: 16] - success!

The doors looked as though they had been constructed at the same time as the rest of the mausoleum — the patterning and fitting being very precise. Judging by the overall architectural style and workmanship they appeared to be of human construction.

There were a few similar mausoleums back on The Islands, but only very rich families could afford the land for such a thing. Often there were stories of how these mausoleums were protected by the shadowy remains of the last in line to be interred there, but Kireth shrugged these off as stories to frighten children.

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Mausoleum

24

‘Go on then!’ dared Tradden to Kireth, betraying his young years.

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Mausoleum

25

‘I can’t believe I’m saying this,’ said Zero, stepping past them both, ‘but I should probably go first. Be a sport and fire up a torch or a magical…light…thingy, would you?’

He eased open the door and peered cautiously inside.

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Mausoleum

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Beyond the doors was a simple, grey, rectangular room, illuminated by sconces filled with some sort of everburning flame. Trios of stone sarcophagi lined the walls to the left and right, each adorned with the effigy of some long-dead warlord. In a niche above each sarcophagus was a small statue of either Pelor or Bahamut.

At the centre of the room stood a ten-foot tall marble obelisk bearing inscriptions on each side.

The room was quiet and a little stuffy.

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Mausoleum

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Mausoleum

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As Zero stood in the doorway, an interested onlooker stood by the obelisk would have seen his heroic outline, framed by the doorway and silhouetted against the bright daylight outside.

That impressive visage was then spoiled by Tradden’s head suddenly appearing over one of Zero’s shoulders, looking for all the world as if the rogue had suddenly grown another head.

‘Is it safe?’ the fighter asked, peering around the interior, his eyes struggling to adjust.

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Mausoleum

29

‘Ahem, allow me,’ coughed Khalin as he bustled up towards Zero. ‘We dwarves are used to living underground in the dark, perhaps I can see a little better?’

[Khalin Dungeoneering Check: 1d20+2: 18] - success!

The light given off by the everburning flames was enough to illuminate the entire chamber in a soft glow. There didn’t appear to be anything hostile or untoward about the area.

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Mausoleum

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Having come to the conclusion that there was no obvious danger, Tradden lead the way into the mausoleum proper, and walked in a circle around the main obelisk to see if he could read the writing present on the four sides.

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Mausoleum

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On each side, written in an archaic, but readable, Common were the names and deeds of the warlords that were interred here.

From the header inscription Tradden determined that this was the ‘Shadowhaunt Mausoleum’ and the final resting place for a line of local warlords called the Kaius Dynasty.

There were twenty warlord names in all, five to each side, and their accomplishments listed involved bringing peace and prosperity to the region by defeating tribes of goblins, packs of ogres, or marauding dragons.

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Mausoleum

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‘Fascinating,’ commented Tradden, who was always interested in such things given his bookish background.

‘Although,’ he continued, turning to peer over and around one of the tombs, ‘it’s not getting these boys found.’

He stood with his hands on his hips, fast becoming his trademark pose, and looked around in a wide arc, as if to make a point.

‘This is a pretty small place, and there is nowhere to go — I guess they must have come here, but then left and gone elsewhere? Into the forest maybe?’

[Tradden Perception Check: 1d20+2: 17] - success!

Tradden couldn’t spot anything unusual about the mausoleum interior, or the likely whereabouts of the boys.

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Mausoleum

33

Zero peered at the sarcophagi closely. Had any been opened recently? Was there a hidden door behind them? Or, more interestingly, was there some exquisite antique?

[Zero Perception Check: 1d20+6: 20] - success!

There appeared to be nothing unusual about the sarcophagi, their stone lids likely to have been shut for ages.

In the niches above the sarcophagi were small statuettes of either Pelor, god of sun and agriculture, or Bahamut, god of justice and honour. The three niches on the left-hand side of the room — from the perspective of the door — held statues of Bahamut, while the three on the other wall held statues of Pelor.

However, as Zero wandered around the room looking intently, he did notice slight scrapes and a strange draft near the obelisk.

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Mausoleum

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Tradden noticed that Zero had spotted something, and knowing from the look on the rogue’s face that he must be onto something, he knelt down next to him to add his own eyes to the task.

[Tradden Dungeoneering Check: 1d20+2: 22] - critical success!

There was definitely something fishy about the obelisk — Tradden’s observation was that the obelisk seemed to be hollow and that there was some mechanism somewhere that would aid in either moving it or opening it up. What that mechanism was, though, was still a mystery.

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Mausoleum

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As Tradden and Zero were bent down examining the base of the obelisk on one side they felt a chill go up their spine and the hairs on the back of their necks start to rise.

From the other side of the room, near the entrance, Celestia, Khalin, and Kireth saw the other two freeze, and then watched with gaping mouths as a shadowy presence rose up from the obelisk and entered the tomb.

In the light of the everburning sconces it took a little time to make out the features of the shadow, which appeared to be humanoid. However, after a while it was easier to see — a human, dressed in ornate plate mail, with a weather beaten face of some age. Its eyes were points of lights, bright and intense. It gave off an air of unfriendliness, but not hostility.

It turned and looked at each of the party individually, with a deep and penetrating stare, and then said in a deep and raspy whisper, ‘Interlopers, beware. If you trespass you will not realise the wisdom of my words. From entry sinister, the way becomes clear when son follows sire.’

The shadow then waited, hovering slightly above the ground near the obelisk.

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Tradden slowly stood up and took a step back, without taking his eyes from the apparition. This was, of course, new to the young fighter, ghosts not being that common on the streets of Deepingwald — indeed, they were the inhabitants of stories told to frighten children only!

However, here was one, stood right in front of him! Despite the underlying fear that lurked at the back of his mind and settled like a pall over his limbs, he was somewhat enthused by the experience, not least of all that it didnt have tentacles and he and the group were not under attack, which made a pleasant change.

As he studied It seemed to him that the ghost was indeed not overly hostile as such, and appeared for all the world to be following his gaze as he moved his head left and right. What was it waiting for?

‘Hmm, I think he wants us to do something…’ he said, not breaking his eye contact with the spectre. ‘Son and sire, son and sire… this is a family tomb, right?’ he continued, thinking aloud. He looked to see if there was anything apparent on the obelisk linking one to another, father to son, that might provide a clue, but nothing was immediately obvious.

A nearly pained expression came over Tradden as he thought about what the ghost had said, and what he knew about these tombs generally. He turned to face the shadowy man once again. Tradden was in some ways a simple soul — and he had always been taught that if you didn’t know something, it was OK to ask.

‘Erm… hello, sir. I beleive, that is, I was lead to understand that the youngest of each generation is tasked with being guardian of tombs like this, and a very nice one it is as well, nice … erm… reliefs, anyway … are you the ‘son’ to which you refer?’

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Mausoleum

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The shadow gazed into nothingness and kept a stony silence.

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Not hugely unused to being ignored, Tradden took no offence and went back to looking over the obelisk. As he waited to see if more intelligent types like Kireth or Zero might have more joy with the phantom, he wandered back and forth from sarcophoghi to sarcophoghi, to see if there were any links to be garnered from either the tombs themselves or the statues that were above them.

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Mausoleum

39

Zero had not moved since the apparition appeared, remaining bowed at the foot of the obelisk. Fear utterly gripped him. He was afraid to move, afraid not to.

He tried his best to conjure up his ‘I’m a friend and absolutely no threat to you at all’ smile, but it did not sit will with his sweaty, knotted brow.

Very, very slowly he started to back away, not stopping until at least two people were between him and the thing.

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Tradden noticed his friend was more than a little apprehensive, and tried to cheer him up a little, giving him one of those trademark Tradden slaps on the back which was, unintentionally, just a little bit too hard.

‘Look at it this way, Zero, it seems to me that this fellow would not be here at all unless there was something worth guarding!’ This seemed to have some positive effect on the rogue. Then, again displaying the complete misunderstanding of what made others ‘tick’, a frequent occurance for the young fighter, Tradden continued. ‘Yes, there are probably some really intersting and valuable books kept by these ancient lords —  how exciting!’ The fighter seemed much happier now as he went back to looking at the statues.

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While Tradden and Zero traded quips, Khalin was deep in thought. ‘Entry sinister. Entry sinister… hmm,’ he mused.

‘Back in my artisan days I’ve carved the odd crest on a shield or two.’ The dwarf gazed over to the near wall. ‘Sinister. Sinister means left.’

The others looked back at him confused.

‘Left. Left! Haven’t you people ever seen a coat of arms?’ More blank looks.

‘On a coat of arms, dexter is to the right of the bearer, and sinister is to the left. I wonder…’

The dwarf trudged towards the left-hand side of the mausoleum as he looked. He began studying the wall carefully. The sarcophagi on the left all had idols of Bahamut, the dragon god, above them.

‘Bahamut, son of Io. Son follows sire,’ he continued. ‘Sire is a king. And Pelor is the Sun Father is he not?’ The dwarf’s brow furrowed further as he rubbed his chin.

‘This vexes me.’ He turned towards the other sarcophagi and pondered. ‘If you trespass you will not realise the wisdom of my words,’ he repeated carefully. ‘We have all entered. We are all trespassing.’

He walked back and stood in the entranceway to the mausoleum.

‘From entry sinister… the way becomes clear.’ The warlord gazed to the left, then moved in that direction and looked carefully about again…

[Khalin Dungeoneering Check: 1d20+2: 17] - success!

Khalin didn’t spot anything further than already revealed, to the left of the entranceway was a sarchophagus with a small statue of Bahamut in an alcove above it.

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‘So, he doesn’t want us to trespass, eh?’ Zero blurted. ‘We’d best, erm, leave then, don’t you think? Logically. Er. Logical. Yes?’

He stepped outside and drew a very deep and relieving breath.

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The shadow remained impassive as Zero snuck out of the door, and simply repeated his monologue in the deep and raspy whisper.

‘Interlopers, beware. If you trespass you will not realise the wisdom of my words. From entry sinister, the way becomes clear when son follows sire.’

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As Zero slipped back outside, Tradden, always thinking, was still considering what was clearly an engrossing puzzle. Seeing that there was nothing unusual as such about the statues of Pelor and Bahamut from where he was, he decided a closer look was in order.

‘Hmm, I wouldn’t normally do this in such a sacred place, but this chap does seem to be inviting us to consider all of the things within this room…’

He then carefully took down one of the statues of Pelor from the right hand side of the room, and then inspected it closely whilst alternating his scrutinising gaze to the side of the obelisk facing the left hand side of the room to see if he could link anything.

[Tradden Perception Check: 1d20+2: 21] - success!

The statue of Pelor was a fairly good representation, and a fine piece of work. It was solid stone, and weighed quite a bit. Nothing particularly seemed to be unusual except that the bottom was worn very smooth, as though it had been put in and been taken out of one of the alcoves time and time again.

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Tradden crouched down to see if it was possible that the scrapes previously seen on the floor could have been caused by the bottom of this statue or the others.

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The statues didn’t look as though they had created any scrapes on the floor.

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‘Hmm,’ mumbled Tradden to himself.

He replaced the statue and checked all the others to see if all of them, some of them, or just that one showed signs of having been taken in or out of the alcoves numerous times.

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All of the statues appeared to have been taken out and replaced in alcoves judging by the smooth bottoms of the statues and the small scrapes in the alcoves.

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‘When son follows sire…’ mused Tradden.

‘Pelor is the son, Bahamut the father…’

The strain on Tradden’s face was obvious to see — his brow furrowed and eyebrows almost vertical given the way his face was screwed up.

The others watched as he swapped around the statues on the left hand side so that the first one, nearest the door, was of Bahamut, the next Pelor, and then the next Bahamut. The other three statues he placed back on the other side in essentially a mirrored state — Pelor, Bahamut, Pelor, just to continue the theme.

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As Tradden placed the last statue in the alcove a jarring, scraping sound of stone rubbing on stone began. It lasted for a few moments and then stopped abruptly.

From the corner of his eye Khalin noticed that a small door, just wide enough for one slim person, had opened up on the side of the obelisk furthest away from the main doors. Through it he could see steps leading down.

The shadow had also vanished.

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Tradden, his mood visibly lighter, drew his shortsword and made his way to the entrance as he waited for Zero to come back in and lead the way.

‘Ah, this is the life for me!’ he laughed.

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Zero peered around the doorway.

‘Is it safe?’ he asked.

At the group’s affirmation he re-entered and regained his composure.

‘Good work there with the statues,’ he said to Tradden and Khalin.

Feeling everyone’s critical stares upon him, he made for the doorway in the obelisk and straightened up his ruffled attire.

‘Right then. Shall we?’

Praying there were no more shadowy ghastly things, he crept inside.

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The stairs led down, twisted sharply to the left and eventually stopped at the entrance to a large chamber, about twenty feet wide and forty feet long. The walls of the chamber were adorned with carvings of what must have been members of the Kaius family worshipping Pelor and Bahamut.

Along the bottom of the walls were chunks of rubble that looked like they once formed more sarcophagi. Bones littered the floor.

Two intact sarcophagi had been moved to form a barricade in front of two corridors that led out of the far end of the chamber. A sputtering lantern sat atop each of these barricades, casting an eerie orange light over the crypt. The rancid lantern oil smelt strongly of dead fish.

Zero’s nose wrinkled at the stench. The smell of oil was too strong for only a pair of sputtering lanterns.

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As the group all reached the bottom of the stairs an arrow whistled over Zero’s shoulder and bounced with a thunk against the wall behind.

Behind the sputtering lanterns, trying to hide behind the sarcophagi were two hobgoblins, bows drawn and taking aim!

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[…Continued in Book #01, Chapter #01, Scene #02…]