Everdusk

Echoes of Vengeance

The heroes must escape the ancient ruins of a dwarven city before the vengeance of the dwarves takes them...

After last session’s string of successive encounters, the PCs were beaten and battered, but still alive and kicking. They had descended into a series of ancient dwarven crypts in an attempt to escape the city of Telder without notice. The idea was to evade whoever might have coordinated the assassination attempt on them the previous night. After fighting through a series of undead, they reached an intersection where they were given the choice between going south or continuing east.

Tulach was absent for this session, so with only four adventurers now, the threats of the dwarven crypt were ever more dangerous. The PCs after some discussion, decide to continue eastward, the direction in which they were told to go. However, as they head down the eastern corridor, it begins to slant back toward the south, eventually depositing them in a small room with a set of doors ajar.

Suspicious of everything after having fought three encounters in a row, the PCs proceed with caution, sending Kriv, the Dwarf Rogue, to go investigate the door. He checks the door but finds no traps. Gazing beyond, through the opening, he sees a larger room, dark except for the swathe of light from his sunrod.

The PCs forge ahead, entering into a large, deserted room. Aside from some dust and scarce bits of rubble, it appears empty. Then, the PCs notice a large plaque set on the northern wall in a large alcove. They attempt to read it from afar, but alas the writing is too small and in a foreign language, so they’re not able to distinguish it. Thus, Kriv heads in to try and read the plaque. Just as he comes within a distance to distinguish the writing, however, a blade springs from the wall, cutting toward him.

Kriv is not to be caught off guard, however, and ducks just in time. The blade whooshes past him, coming to a rest. Kriv doesn’t move for a moment but examines the writing and sees that he can’t read the writing but does recognize the language as Elven. He crawls back to the rest of the companions and they send the Elven Paladin, Valinae, to go investigate. She approaches cautiously and, without incident, comes close enough to read the writing. What she reads is a simple phrase, “If you are reading this, Vengeance be upon you.”

The PCs wonder at this, for the entire crypt seems a place of contradiction. On the one hand, it seems to have once been a sacred, religious place. On the other, the place contains traps and fiends aplenty. Valinae and Mal both try to recall what they know of elven and dwarven lore. With their combined efforts, they deduce that this must have once been a dwarven crypt but during the Elder Wars, when land was constantly being exchanged between dwarf and elf in battle, the crypt must have been trapped against elves who might find their way into the depths. Dwarves, they know, have a propensity for vengeance. It is even said they have a tome called the Tome of Remembered Wrongs.

The only path before the PCs is to the south, lest they should return in the direction they came. They decide to continue forward and soon find their path circles back in a westerly direction. They arrive in a cluttered room.

Ahead lies an intersection of a couple corridors. Dusty rubble fills most of the area, indicating that the place must have once hosted a wider chamber that has now collapsed. The northern wall contains several empty alcoves. The chamber gives a sense of the forlorn desertion that comes with centuries of neglect.

They proceed with caution, the two defenders, Wilbur the Half-Elf Fighter and Valinae the Elven Paladin, proceeding first. They step amidst the rubble, climbing through some difficult terrain and coming down into a small section of clear floor. However, as they do so:

The ground begins to seethe and move about, like a cauldron of boiling oil. Accompanying the movement are the shrieks and squeaks of hundreds of rats. They flood forward, like one living mass.

One of these swarms of rats forms up around Valinae and Wilbur, moving into their space and snapping at their ankles. Another forms from the rubble behind them, moving back to the remainder of the group, biting at Kriv. The party members manage to defend themselves from the swarms, cutting through many of the rats, yet as the tide of battle shifts in their favor, a shadowy figure emerges from the corner of the room, snarling and launching himself at Kriv. This rat-like humanoid sinks his fangs into Kriv’s neck, inflicting a serious wound and causing Kriv to feel ill. Kriv strikes back while Mal moves forward and with his glaive, trying to dispatch the rats.

With a series of good rolls and potent damage, Wilbur and Valinae cut through the rats and move back to aid their allies. However, they are not able to dispatch the rat-like humanoid before he again manages to bit into Kriv, bringing the dwarf precariously close to death.  After another round though, having been flanked and reduced to little hp, the creature melts into the smaller form of a rat and attempts to retreat. The strategy meets with failure though, for Valinae and Wilbur both take the opportunity to strike out at it, skewering it against the ground.

As they take a moment to recover, Mal begins to sift through the rubble and finds a small statue of a dragon tucked away in the corner where the beast had been hiding. A further examination of the room reveals a couple alcoves that might have once hosted statues but have since been emptied. One alcove, they note, has a deep scratch leading away from it and into the room to the north.

The PCs decide to follow the path north and come to a room that glows with the faint blue light from a basin of water. In a couple alcoves to the north there are masses of webs, which the PCs don’t hesitate to quickly search for spiders. They find them. A spider lurches outward from the webbing and attacks Valinae. Wilbur moves in to attack the creature. However, another of the beasts emerges from another alcove and attacks from the other side, threatening to flank the PCs. The PCs divide up, two to each spider.

Kriv is the first to dispatch one of the beasts, scoring a critical. His dagger pierces it through one of its eight eyes, and he then proceeds to go and attack the next creature. The spider, sensing the danger from all these opponents, jumps out of their reach and attacks one of the companions on the edge of battle. This also gives the opportunity for the skeleton—one of the spiders’ former victims—to emerge from the webbing and strike at Wilbur, beating his high AC and striking a significant blow.

Valinae, eager to unleash her paladin’s divine powers on the skeleton, turns from the spider to face the creature. The other three companions struggle to finish off the beast, failing to meet its high AC. Eventually though, it is slain and the group encircles the skeleton, with Kriv slipping in and dealing a significant strike, severing the creature’s spine.

As the PCs recover, they examine the room, in particular, the basin with the glowing blue water. Without the wizard, they are unable to figure out what magic might be the source of the water’s glow. Mal is the first to touch the water and finds that it clings to his skin, giving off a faint illumination. They read a message across the basin that reads in Dwarven, Drink of this drought and be purged. An etymological debate over the context of “purged” ensues, and eventually Kriv takes an experimental lick of the substance. It is without taste, and he finds that the ill feeling suffered from the spider’s poisonous bites has diminished.

Valinae and Mal are the only two who eventually drink of the liquid, and they immediately feel cleansed of any residual poison. They also feel good, as if their spirits had been lifted (later, discovering they receive a bless effect). The group then debates what to do next. A path to the north and east lies before them. The scratch they’d seen in a previous chamber leads into the eastern passage. They decide not to venture in that direction, fearing that some beast might have dragged a statue into its lair.

Instead, they return in the direction they came and head back west (much to the DM’s frustration!), and search another room. The room is filled with rubble and is in exceptionally poor condition. Exploration down the two new corridors leading from the area gets them only collapsing tunnels, one of which catches Wilburs foot, wrenching it for some damage. Unless the PCs wish to return back to the first chamber into which they originally entered the crypt, they must go back and explore one of two paths, the room that they believe to be a lair, or else the sealed door that emanated cold.

The PCs do gain one bit of knowledge from exploration of the collapsing chamber. They find the rotted remains of a rug that depicts an ancient dwarven city which, from its distinct shape, Mal reasons must be Tel’verik, a mighty fortress from the Elder Wars. Although the location has been forgotten, the PCs reason that the Teluvian fortress that sits above them must have been built over the dwarven ruins.

They PCs return to the spider chamber and head eastward, following the deep scratch in the floor.

Deep scratches in the floor lead into this room, eventually coming to a stop in the southeast corner of the room. A statues lies on the ground there, surrounded in a pile of shaved gold. The statue bears short chisel marks and several large cracks. Beside the statue and small pile of gold is a skeleton, its fingers clutched around a chisel. The bones look to have been stripped bear, and they trail into the wide hole in ground, from which can be heard the murmur of sloshing water.

The PCs, examining the scene, reason that the skeleton must have been a grave robber (and had they bothered to search the webs and skeleton in the spider room, they might have found treasure and a clue linking that skeleton to the dead fellow here). Kriv eyes the gold eagerly, saying things to the effect of, “Well, it is just sitting here…” The party doesn’t stop him as he collects the shavings together, stashing them away for safekeeping. No one is eager to explore the hole, but eventually Wilbur volunteers, setting aside his shield that he might lower himself down.

A rickety ladder descends thirty feet, and though Wilbur has no trouble climbing down it, Kriv does, and falls to the ground. Wilbur slows his fall some, lessening the degree of injury. A small trickle of water flows down the tunnel toward the east and the companions follow it for about a quarter of a mile before coming to a wide expanse of sewers.

They are forced to break through a gate to gain access to the sewers. Unfortunately, only a small lip allows one to climb to a nearby stone walkway. Wilbur makes the first attempt but rolls a critical fail, slipping into the sewer below. Up to his shoulders in excrement, he heads for the stone walkway and ties off a rope to help the rest of the group.

Unfortunately, everybody except Valinae rolls dismally and by the time they’re done, three of four PCs are covered in sewage. In ill spirits, they head eastward through the sewers.

They occasionally glimpse shadowy movement from the corner of their eyes, but they’re never able to detect whatever creatures skulk in the darkness. They pass through the sewers without harassment and eventually come to a large colonnade with a frieze along the top. The area has pillars that must have once been covered in fine stone or metal but have since been worn to only the bare rock. It is in this strange place that Valinae begins having visions.

Valinae, unlike the rest of the companions, was not exposed to the chaotic magic that the Karthian Queen released. Instead, she explains to the companions that she’s had strange visions before—visions of the past, or so she believes. What she sees are the foggy, specter-like forms of dwarves milling about in the area, examining the frieze and going about their daily business. They all glow with a strange, purple hue. Some figures walk through the walls and grating of the sewer, but all seem sensitive to the presence of the columns.

The companions reason that this must be some kind of vision of what was once here. They deduce that these sewers must have once been part of the city that they’d seen below the keep of Tul’verik on the rug. When they examine the frieze closer, they are able to distinguish religious images—those showing glowing humanoid beings bestowing education and civilization to the barbaric dwarves. Mal recalls something of his childhood tales about the Terganiels, ancient beings said to have brought divine knowledge to dwarves, elves, and humans. He reasons that these might be those same creatures.

After some discussion, the PCs continue on. Gradually the sewers become more confined until eventually all the waterways combine into one route. As they go down this tunnel, the rank smell of excrement diminishes. Eventually their stone walkway comes to a dead end, as does the flowing water. However, they realize the water has to flow somewhere and Mal, feeling brave, removes his armor and shield and takes a swim.

He finds that there’s a narrow tunnel that leads from the sewers into a fresh water stream. The PCs reluctantly pack away their gear and one at a time, dive in and make skill checks to find their way through and tunnel and into the stream. Mal holds a rope on one end, with Wilbur on the other, to help assist those less skilled in swimming. No one manages to drown and they emerge, happy to have washed away the sewers filth and come through the dwarven crypt unscathed.

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WotC_GregBilsland

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