ME5 / S14 / 28th of Astral, 88 AD (0:3:3/28), just before noon
Corm, Zan, and Flint enter a large room, which contain, a desk, a chair, and 8 skeletal forms (it will later turn out that the skeletons seem to be reanimated elves) clustered about a wooden door. In contrast to the three that they bested (in the previous session), these are armed and armored with quality equipment: chain mail and glinting scimitars. Flint channels positive energy through the skeletons, destroying one completely and at least singeing the others. The skeletons charge across the room. Zan attempts to cast burning hands, and one of the skeletons gets a critical hit on him as a result. The casting is successful, resulting in the crisping of two. The charging skeletons attempt to hit Corm, but to no avail. Al enters the room and disarms one. Corm counterattacks in his rage and smashes one into flinders. Back and forth the attacks go, the skeletons being relatively unsuccessful against Corm, while Corm, Flint, and Zan mow through their opponents (Al fails to disarm one of them before Corm pummels it into dust and bits).
After the dust of combat settles the party packs up the chain mail and scimitars while investigating the contents of the room. Nothing seems to turn up of note. The door is non-standard: wooden rather than stone. On its face is the bas-relief carving of a two tiered fountain, covered in gold leaf. This door is unsecured and easily opened to reveal a stony expanse filling the portal. Flint casts a dwarven eye on the stonework and notes that it appears to continue as a solid vertical piece behind the door frame, lintel and threshold. The surface glistens with a slick coating of some thin lubricant. A sample is scraped off for future study. Corm attempts to hammer the sharp end of a crowbar into the stone, a process of some difficulty given the propensity of the point to slip away on the slick surface. Eventually, after many minutes, he is able to insert some fraction of the bar into the stone. He tugs on it. There is no reaction when the attempt is to move either direction horizontally. Vertically he is able, with a few tens of pounds of force, to shift the stone a quarter inch or so in either direction, but then it runs up into some stop. Al inscribes a note on the inside of the door, and the party decides to leave things at that, and return out the room and up the stairs to the first intersection.
Danger and the Big Muddy
They proceed down the “straight” 10’ passage, with tattered wisps of webbing. The corridor takes a bend to the left and then they take the first passage on the right. This goes past familiar doors first on the right and then on the left, but after this, the layout of the corridor seems unfamiliar. Flint detects a hairline seam circumscribing the corridor, 20’ prior to where It takes a turn to the left. There is another seam in 20’ and with an additional 10’ of passage exits into a room lit by a pair of torches, to the right and left on the near wall. There is a 10’ wide passage going back, just to the right. A door is centered on the far wall. This room is reminiscent of one that was adjacent to where the ghouls had been found, though in an unexpected location and orientation.
The party takes that passage to the right, which heads back. They find another seam at 10’ into the passage, which turns to the left and proceeds, after another seam, for a fair distance and then takes another turn to the left. Twenty feet from the opening of this turn the party sees a narrow band of light circumscribing the passage as it continues on. Flint discerns that the passage ends in a door thirty feet past the band.
While still standing just past the turn, Al decides to experiment by heaving an unlit torch down the corridor.As it passes through the band of light, the entire 20’ of floor turns to an (apparently bottomless) surface of mud. Corm and Al fall into the mud, floundering around up to their neck. Corm is able to swim up to the edge of where the floor is still stone. Al flounders helplessly. Using a rope and Corm;s strength and expertise Al is safely removed from the mud before it returns to its previously stony state. Looking down the corridor, the tossed torch is nowhere to be seen.
The party returns to the torch room. Remembering that they can pull the individual torches down and result in some sort of shifting passages. Al, with his faithful piece of chalk, leads a series of experiments and concludes that there is some regular pattern that connects the torch room(s) with four possible paths, perhaps by some sort of rotation of a set of walls? In one configuration the right hand passage (facing the passages, now) leads straight for some distance to the original torch room (the one that door leads to the frigid ghoul room).
Proceeding to that torch room, they make another change and now its two passages are such that the right hand one (while facing) turns to the right, while the left hand one turns to the left. They take the left hand passage. After some distance it turns to the left again, and proceeds past a door on the right. They follow the corridor until it ends, with a second door to the right.
Entering this leads to a room that is uninhabited, but far from empty. To begin with there is a scrap from Hurinon on the floor, discussing someone that seemed associated with a “stone zoo”. In addition three shelves project from the right hand wall, and a stone cabinet door is inset into the left hand wall. On each shelf is a row of 8 helms, inscribed with a phoenix, and atop which was a piece of green jade. Each helm was also numbered, with two separated digits. The first goes from one to three, depending on whether the helm was on the first, second or third shelf. The second digit goes from one to eight.
Beneath each helm was a long metal tube, hung on a thong by one end (also enumerated), and a stick with a wooden ball on one end.
In the cabinet, after it is unlocked by Al, is a trio of slightly larger and more ornate helms, topped by a black pearl, and simply enumerated from one to three. They were associated with longer, heavier metal tubes, and a metal rod and ball.,
Corm experiments with wearing of the helms, as does Flint, and eventually Zan. Many things are tried including striking the tubes which then emit a penetrating, enduring pure tone, and seemed to in some way activate the helms. Flint is even able to “see” ranks of standing forms arrayed with their backs before him, at least during the long period while the tone persisted., It is decided to collect the major helms and the first eight.
The Adventure Continues