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Into the Shadowhaunt
The Lower Chambers

…continues from Book #01, Chapter #01, Scene #02

Synopsis

The 10th Day of Ches in the Year of the Sudden Journey

After accepting Blackengorge Town Council’s request to find their two missing sons the party have headed to the mausoleum on a hill to the north of town. There, they have found a secret door leading down into a crypt where two hobgoblins lay in wait with traps. After overcoming the obstacles, the party move further into the crypts.

Scene Length

This scene starts on Wednesday 29th September 2010 and is expected to be completed by the end of Friday 8th October 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
Mausoleum

01

The worked tunnel leading out of the lower tomb soon turned rough and twisting, finally leading into a large natural cavern with an adjacent area of worked stone. Water dripped like a light rain down the stalactites of the cavern, and glowing fungi illuminated the warm and humid chamber. The eerie light reflected off many pools of water dotting the slick and irregular floor.

Across from the group, to the west, a large alcove was cut into the side of the living cavern. Ancient, crumbling masonry adorned the alcove, bearing vile pictographs and strange, spidery writing. A sinister iron-bound portal stood at the back of the alcove. An immense devil’s head was carved upon the door and its eyes glowed with a faint green light.

[Passive Perception Check] - success! (Zero and Celestia)

Very faintly, and through the sounds of the dripping water, the party heard what sounded like crying coming from the direction of the devil’s head doorway.

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Mausoleum

02

Concerned at the possibility of a maiden being in distress, Tradden seized the initiative.

‘Zero — you do your thing on the door, I will stand guard over that other passageway!’

With that the young fighter unsheathed his other sword and bounded over to the passageway, hunkering against the wall nearest to the door, peering to see if there was anything to see.

[Tradden Perception Check: 1d20+3: 4] - critical failure!

Looking down the passageway, Tradden could not see anything that surprised him.

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Mausoleum

03

Zero frowned and reluctantly crept toward the imposing doorway.

‘Ghosts, devilish doorways… oh, I am just loving this little expedition,’ he muttered.

He examined the ugly portal closely, using his ears to also determine who was sobbing and how far away.

[Zero Perception Check: 1d20+7: 12] - success!

The fiendish face’s eye sockets served as windows into a space beyond. The source of their green glow must be on the other side of the door.

Zero summoned up the courage to look through one of the eye sockets.

The chamber beyond appeared to be a long-abandoned tomb or temple. On each side, a line of stone statues of robed men stood watch over the chamber. In the middle of the chamber a magic circle adorned with geometric runes glowed with an emerald radiance. The magic of the circle was palpable, drifting upward like an eldritch vapour, slowly dissipating into the stale air of the ancient room. Cowering in the centre of the circle were two young boys in chains!

It was simple enough for Zero to see that the devil’s head door was locked.

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Mausoleum

04

Khalin quickly moved over next to Zero, examining the portal for weaknesses. ‘I wonder if we can break through…’ he pondered.

[Khalin Dungeoneering Check: 1d20+2: 9] - failure!

The devil’s head door was bound by iron and looked to be very sturdy. However, Khalin did notice that the ceiling around the door and stretching out into the cavern looked as though it had been slowly weakened by the running water. It would take no more than a relatively minor earthquake to collapse large parts of the natural cavern.

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05

Zero dropped to his knees in front of the door, being careful to avoid any puddles on the slick stone. He removed a small pouch from his belt and began using small tools to check the door.

[Zero Perception Check - Find Traps: 1d20+7+2: 24] - success!

‘Well, whosoever has locked these boys in the room thinks their lock is good enough not to put any traps on it,’ said Zero.

He then grinned at Khalin, ‘Of course, they didn’t expect me to poke around in their lock!’

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Mausoleum

06

Zero swapped some of the tools from his pouch and started inspecting the lock on the door.

[Zero Thievery Check - Open Locks: 1d20+7+2: 26] - success!

With a satisfying click, and a silent swing on the hinges, Zero declared the door open. He then realised he had opened the door to what looked like a magic circle with strange illuminated steam coming off of it. He casually shuffled behind Khalin and Tradden and away from the door.

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07

Loud cries of relief came from the young boys chained up in the magic circle. Their distressed faces could just be seen through the green, eldritch vapour that continuously rose from the circle.

As the group started to move forward one of the boys shouted. ‘Careful! That elf who captured us told us this place was trapped. Even if we escape these chains, if we leave the circle the ceiling will come crashing down on us!’

‘Please, please find a way to free us!’

With that the boy resumed his sobbing.

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Mausoleum

08

A Magic Circle! A real Magic Circle. Not one in a book you understand, a real one. Kireth wiped his chin.

‘Hmm,’ the half-elf mused. ‘Two things to consider. One, there are actually no traps here and their capture is simply playing on the naivity of the young-ones. Or two, the floor or some other mechanism is trapped or rigged to notice movement.’

Kireth looked down at the floor and then over to the circle.

‘I think,’ he added, stepping past his companions and into the room.

He held his breath for a moment as he stepped onto the floor. Nothing happened. ‘And I am correct!’

‘Now then, my interesting friend,’ said the mage excitedly. ‘What secrets do you hold?’

He slowly walked around the magic circle taking in every detail. The fact that it held two trapped children appeared to be of no consequence.

[Kireth Arcana Check: 1d20+9: 12] - failure!

[Kireth History Check: 1d20+9: 21] - success!

Kireth studied the arcane symbols on the magic circle intensely. However, whatever magic was laid here was currently beyond his power to unravel. The symbols and layout of the circle were nothing like he had seen during his studies, even in some of the tomes he had managed to view that he shouldn’t.

Kireth’s only conclusion was that this was a warding circle, and the threat that the boy spoke about may very well be real.

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09

Tradden moved forward, sheathing his swords, and went as close to what he perceived to be the edge of the circle without actually touching it. He crouched down to speak to the boys, putting on his best soothing tones and trying to copy Zero’s naturally disarming smile.

‘Hey there, fellas. Offa and Bailey isn’t it? My name is Tradden. Not to worry, we were sent here by Tremak and the rest of the Council specially just to find you chaps and bring you back to the town. We will have you out of here in a worry — Kireth here is a master magician and will have any nasty magic sorted out before you know it. Also, the dwarf over there is called Khalin and he is a master warrior — if anyone comes back they will have to get past him, hammer and shield and all, not to mention the rest of us!

‘Anyway, to help Kireth it would be really useful if you could tell us exactly what the elf you saw did  — anything he said, anything he used, how he pointed, where he went — anything you can remember really. Can you do that?’

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10

‘I can’t remember,’ cried the smaller youth. ‘We only came up to the hill to play and the next I remember we were here. The elf just said that if we left the circle the roof would fall in. Please help us!’

‘Get us out of these chains,’ sobbed the larger, holding his arms up complete with manacles and chains.

The boys looked to be fit and healthy and otherwise unharmed. They were young, maybe just coming into their teens, but looked distraught at their plight. The malign radiance of the magic circle and what their future might have held had certainly dampened their youthful exuberance to say the least.

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11

Tradden tried to reassure the boys as best he could, and then turned to the rest of the group, forming a little huddle and speaking quietly so as not to let the boys overhear.

‘It seems to me that unless there is a magical solution to this problem we could just make a grab for the youngsters and risk the ceiling falling in. Kireth, you are the authority on this. That said, maybe we should check out that other passageway first anyway? If that elf is hanging around somewhere perhaps we can, uhm, persuade him to turn the thing off? No doubt the town council would like a word with the fellow as well?’

‘My vote is that we leave someone on guard here whilst the rest of us explore down the way a little — I am happy to stay or go.’

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12

‘I’ll check the other passage,’ declared Khalin. ‘Who is with me?’

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13

‘Don’t leave us!’ screamed one of the boys. ‘Please, just help us get out of here.’

The other boy continued his sobbing.

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14

‘We will get you back — not to worry, lads. However, we are going to just try and find a way to get you out of this magic circle. Sit tight, we will be back shortly.’

With that, Tradden drew his sword and headed back towards the unexplored passage.

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‘No, no, don’t leave us!’ wailed the older boy, and began furiously pulling at his chains and manacles. ‘You can’t just leave us here!’

‘I want to go home,’ sobbed the younger boy.

The older boy stood up and moved towards the edge of the circle, dragging his chains with him.

‘I’ll do it, I’ll step out of the circle if you don’t help us. If you leave us here we’re dead anyway,’ he stated with a trembling voice, looking nervously at the green vapours rising from the edge of the circle.

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Celestia, who until now had been quiet at the back of the group after her ordeal with the flaming oil, moved forward silently and knelt down to study the magic circle.

[Celestia Arcana Check: 1d20+4: 17] - success!

She turned to Kireth slowly, shaking her head.

‘There’s definitely a ward on the circle,’ she muttered softly to the wizard.‘Look at the symbols there, and there. If the boys leave the circle, something bad will happen. There’s something else too, but I’m not sure. I think the ward can be removed, but it’s risky — if we didn’t get it right it might get triggered.’

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Tradden, who had stopped to watch the cleric as she had approached the circle, asked the obvious question to the two arcana users now in conflab. ‘Alright, how does one actually go about removing the ward?’

The look that Kireth and Celestia shared clearly suggested they had no immediate answer to this question.

That said, Tradden scanned the room to see if there was a simple, non-magical answer. He felt like he was starting to get the hang of how things in this kind of place worked — trapped doors, secret compartments, etc.

‘Could it be just as simple as there being an on/off switch, not unlike the lanterns that adorned many a wall in houses up and down the free islands?’ he thought to himself as he scouted around.

[Tradden Dungeoneering Check: 1d20+3: 11] - failure!

Tradden couldn’t spot anything obvious.

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‘Looks like we’ll need to stay here to comfort the youngsters — for now anyway,’ said Khalin, somewhat perturbed by the youths’ continued hysterics. ‘Perhaps Tradden’s right.’

Khalin started scanning the walls himself, again looking for a tell that might indicate another hidden compartment or exit.

[Khalin Dungeoneering Check: 1d20+2: 10] - failure!

Khalin couldn’t spot anything obvious either.

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19

Actually, the histrionics of the two boys was beginning to grate on Tradden. The free peoples were generally a hardy bunch — generations of vigilance and hard work meant that was always going to be the case. For settlers in an inhospitable land, even for the children, their behaviour seemed a little odd to the young fighter.

[Tradden Insight Check: 1d20+3: 15] - success!

Although hardy, and prepared for many hardships, young boys being captured, taken into an ancient crypt, chained up within an eldritch magic circle and being told if they leave they will cause a cave-in are likely to act hysterically.

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‘Hey now,’ said Zero to the boys, hankering down at the edge of the circle. ‘We’re not going to leave you.’ He hoped his smile would reassure them. ‘Hey, want to see a trick?’

He pulled back his sleeves and showed them his open palms, then, with a flamboyant flourish, attempted to produce a silver coin from nowhere.

[Zero Thievery Check - Sleight-of-Hand: 1d20+9: 15] - success!

Zero’s calm demeanour and simple tricks seemed to calm the boys down a little. It didn’t move the group forwards, much, though.

He sauntered over to Kireth and whispered,‘How do we turn this damn thing off?’

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Yes, he saw it now. The symbols Celestia had pointed out, although unfamiliar, did have structure and pattern. Structure and pattern can be reasoned out… if you have time.

‘How do we turn this damn thing off?’ Zero’s question pulled his thoughts back. ‘Well, as with any holding magic the creator can instantly dispel it, so find him or her and ask nicely. Or, if you know the right arcane word you can dispel it yourself. This is magic none of us have seen before so I think that is out too. The last, and most risky, is you put your magic and intelligence up against the spell and see which is strongest.’

Kireth turned his attention back to the circle and sized it up, much like a fighter might size up his opponent. In the background he could hear the mutterings of his companions, words like ‘must be another way’, ‘we should look for clues’ and ‘perhaps this elf the kids spoke of…’

‘Yes, you’re quite right,’ announced Kireth loudly. ‘I should take care of this.’

With that he rolled up his sleeves.

‘Celestia, your keen eyes spotted those first two symbols. Would you assist me further?’

[Kireth Arcana Check: 1d20+9+2: 25] - success!

Kireth matched the symbols around the circle in his mind and with Celestia’s help worked out the pattern and arrangement. It was obvious that the warding circle had been modified in two ways — a trigger on the children leaving the circle, and one on anyone entering the circle. The trigger for the children now seemed trivial for Kireth to remove, simply a question of the correct command word — ‘xylarthen’.

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Kireth stood back a little and uttered the word.

The emerald glow of the circle faded a little and the vapours lifting from the circle’s rim dissipated into the air. Kireth was confident this part of the ward was removed.

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The boys inside the circle looked ecstatic that the eldritch glow had faded.

Kireth focused his thoughts back on the circle for the second ward, and began examining the symbols once more.

[Kireth Arcana Check: 1d20+9+2: 16] - success!

This one was more tricky, but Kireth believed the command word to be ‘thenxylar’, a simple play on the symbols being in a different order.

He spoke the command word in front of the circle and turned to the group.

‘I believe the wards are removed. We can release the children from their chains, now.’

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Fully trusting of Kireth’s magic, Tradden stepped forward.

‘See — told you he was a master of magic! Look, nothing to fear now!’

He stepped over the boundary of the circle, into the ring…

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The dim glow from the magic circle finally died as Tradden broke the perimeter, and only stains of symbols were left on the smooth stone floor. The boys sobbed with relief and held up their arms with chains attached by manacles trailing to iron rings inset into the stone.

Tradden turned round to Zero, motioning him forwards to look at the locks on the manacles. As he did so a grating sound began of stone on stone. It started softly and began to rise.

Khalin looked swiftly at the roof of the chamber, but all seemed to be fine there.

Zero noticed them first — two of the statues at the side of the room, slowly moving and twisting to look at Tradden in the centre of the circle. The grinding rose to a crescendo and the feet of the statues cracked off their base, and the figures moved in towards the centre of the room.

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[…Continued in Book #01, Chapter #01, Scene #04…]