1200, Wir, 25 Febryan, 3E1000
The Heroes 4 Hire stashed their wagons and mounts and headed up the hidden forest path to the ruins where the Cult of Elder Elemental Eye had just recently vacated. They paused in the shaded, foreground approach to the entryway and listened, hearing nothing coming from the ruins over the midday chirping of birds, rustling of wind and other sounds of the forest. Illyia Baham sent Nightshade in to reconnoiter the massive archway, where she peeked in the arrow slits and murder holes arranged along the 40’ deep entrance, finding nothing. Illyia proceeded into the entranceway checking for traps, and finding none issued the rest of the team in.
The archway led to two great oaken doors, almost silver with age and banded in rusted iron. One hung slightly askew on its hinges, and the pair looked as if they had not been touched in millennia. Surprisingly though, when pushed open the doors swung easily and silently on their hinges, a careful attention to detail evident in their maintenance as to not diminish the facade. Beyond they found a 20’ square foyer, with dilapidated busts of stone flanking the walls and another set of double oaken door at the far end… these in perfect repair and free of defect. Beyond those doors, the party moved into a large, octagonal central chamber 40’ square, with hallways and doors departing in all cardinal direction. This room, too, was clean and in good repair. The hallway west was flanked by 3 pairs of full-size statues of various men of some unknown import, but the Heroes did not recognize.
And so a methodical search began of the first floor of the keep, room by room, where they found various bedchambers, dining rooms, mess halls, barracks, a small library, closets and staircases going up to a second floor and down to a basement. They discovered the same thing in each room… that the furnishings and supplies and accoutrements had been removed, leaving the entire place feeling bare. They moved down a spiral staircase to the basement, where they found more statues standing guard at the entrance to a shrine. They opened the door and found the shrine empty of furniture, but unlike the rest of the structure there was easily an inch of dust covering the floor indicating easily a century from the last time someone set foot in it. 60’ at the opposite end, a two-step dais held a man-sized statue of an unknown king staring over the rectory, complete with crown and scepter.
Naïlo Thia rushed in towards the statue, but when she reached the center of the shrine, a demon the team recognized as a Nycaloth appeared out of vapor in front of the statue and moved to attack. Seizing the initiative, the team rushed the demon, and quickly surrounded it dealing mountains of damage from blade, hammer, arrow and spell. The Nycaloth teleported from the swarm to where Thia was still standing, but she managed to sense its attack coming and ducked the swing of its greataxe. The party adjusted their attack, and a few seconds later the demon fell, bursting into a fiery plume until it was no more than a pile of ash.
The team resumed searching the shrine, finding little of interest, save Thia who discovered that staring at the statue long enough produced a vision of the same king figure, suddenly aging at hyper-speed and turning into a skeletal zombification of his former self. A blink of the eye or looking away ended the vision. Illyia made a once-around-the-room with the Gem of Seeing, observing nothing out of place except that the statue was emanating a strange, blue aura riddled with lightning when viewed through the gem.
The Heroes 4 Hire left the shrine and continued exploring the dungeons beneath the keep. They found a block of prison cells and a torture chamber that also had not been used in centuries. They turned north and found a crypt filled with sealed burial niches, and other than a cursory check through the area they left well enough alone. They turned west and entered an area of the basement that had obviously been well used, maintained and clean, but was otherwise bare as all the furniture and supplies had been removed. As far as the look of it, the chambers here were a kitchen, storeroom and barracks.
Exhausting the basement level, they returned to the first floor, headed through the huge mess hall they had found in the north of the structure, passed through a set of double door that led to a small antechamber that opened into the bottom of a 50’ diameter tower, complete with stair spiraling the exterior wall and pillar support up the center. The antechamber housed another statue of the unknown king, but as the party passed it a spurt of flame from a trap sprung forth from the vicinity of the statue’s belt buckle and singed Thia and Illyia. It took illyia about 30 seconds to disarm the trap, and the Heroes ascended to the second floor to continue exploring. There they found a balcony overlooking the mess hall below, and then down a hallway a set of servant’s quarters similarly cleaned out of any valuables.
Lastly they came upon a great library, seemingly lost to time. Cobwebs and dust abounded among the bookshelves, although the dust betrayed that a few tomes had been taken. In the middle of the room, standing upon a stone plinth, was a great blue crystalline formation 3’ tall. The plinth was surrounded by four pillars, and between each of the pillars a wall of blue electricity and force, creating an impenetrable barrier to prevent access to the crystal. The team slowly gathered around the barrier, observing and pondering what to do next.
1500, Wir, 25 Febryan, 3E1000
Will the Heroes 4 Hire be able to regain the Dark Priest’s trail now that he knows they are after him? What does the mad Breland King have to do with this? What secret of the giant crystal is the barrier protecting?
Tune in next week, on “TGC: Heroes 4 Hire!!”