Our heroes were able to keep Kel alive amidst battling the fire elementals. The monsters were quite tough and were slowly whittling away at our heroes defenses. But just after the first elemental was killed, the creature that had disappeared earlier made his presence known. It touched Zerak and he felt a dizzying swirling sensation and his vision started to go black. Then he saw what looked like an entire sea of fire opening up before him. He struggled and fought the sensation of being pulled into it and after what seemed like forever, was finally able to break himself free from the grasp of the spell that had been cast upon him.
He then recovered his wits and cast a spell to help him see invisible things and that’s when he saw that creature standing right next to Jobi. He cried out to her but the creature touched her as well – thankfully its spell had no effect on her. It then started after Blackwell. So Zerak started casting lightning bolts at it and Jobi used her cold spells against it.
Meanwhile, Kel, Asphodel, and Zola had finally beaten down the last two fire elementals and turned their attentions to the last remaining creature. Asphodel was able to break free from her uncontrollable rage and was fatigued, but still went after the last creature and used her breath weapons on it. And soon that creature also fell. After the battle the group did a lot of healing wounds, searching the areas, and also cleaning up the defilement of Aeroden’s temple/shrine. In addition to the mithral dagger, Blackwell had found a large iron key.
Our heroes rested after that and then Kel casted a consecrate spell on the temple altar to help re-purify the area to the now dead god. The whole area seemed brighter and more cheerful afterwards – at least as cheerful as a crematorium can be that is. And after they had gathered themselves up, they consulted with Kel to see where and what they should explore next. Kel decided that the best course of action was to investigate the seven similar small buildings within the complex. Each one, except the one in the middle, had locked black iron gates with large stone doors behind – all facing toward the center of the compound. The central building had its doors facing south. In most of them what they found was the following:
Each internal wall has nine stacked interment vaults, a total of twenty-seven in all. The dates of death on these vaults fall between 3754 and 4050. None bear full names, only first initials (such as P. Adella, A.G. Adella, etc.). The limestone sarcophagus at the center of each crypt bears an epitaph in its surface, but the effects of time have rendered these illegible.
The central mausoleum was a bit different though:
The lid was also slightly askew and with a little bit of pushing they moved it far enough to reveal a set of stairs inside instead of a mummified body. They definitely believed that this was important to look into but thought it wise to check out the rest of the buildings in the compound before venturing down to who knew where. So they left this building and took a look into the three larger buildings.
In each of the buildings they noticed that if they stepped onto the medusa heads in the center of each room, they began having similar feelings as they did when they were teleported into the coffins, so they made note not to step on them for any length of time. A detect magic spell did reveal that each area was infused with conjuration magic.
Satisfied that there was nothing else of note on the surface, they decided to head down the stairs inside the coffin to see what lay beneath. After what had to be more than a hundred feet of steep staircase to traverse, they finally found themselves in an ancient chamber:
The catacombs beyond the archway are composed primarily of narrow, low-ceilinged (8 feet) corridors riddled with burial niches. Some host one or two full skeletons in tattered rags; others are packed with bones stacked in an artful, if grisly, manner—one niche may hold nothing but thigh bones, another jawbones, another an array of vertebrae. Some of the walls feature decorative brickwork, others are adorned with frescoes, and still others have bones and skulls mortared into place as though they were the most convenient and mundane building materials. The air is stale, and all areas are lit as though by flickering torchlight, though no such illumination can be found.
The heroes made their way along the southern branch of the catacombs and explored slowly, making sure they did not run into any traps or missed anything of significance. Blackwell led the way with Asphodel close behind him (but not too close, just in case the accident prone rogue set off an electrical trap which seemed he was apt to do). The western passage ultimately ended in a dead end and they were forced to backtrack and continue eastward. After passing a couple northern passages their searching led them to find a secret door on the southern wall within one of the burial niches. Once opened it revealed the following chamber, much to their surprise:
That’s all we have time for today. Tune in next week when we’ll find out the answer to the question: Can stone statues really swim?