Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Chapter 18: A Door with Teeth

The ceiling disappeared into the darkness above them. Some times a crevice or edge of the stonework being caught in the flickering light. The marble walls were of exquisite workmanship as was the floor, albeit covered in rubble from the collapsed ceiling and columns. Their they stood admiring the workman ship of the door, feeling a bit small and exposed in this cavernous space. Especially after the confines of the catacombs.

“We should wait for everyone before we do anything with it." Aurelious remarked as he arrived. He studied the reliefs of the door, but could gather nothing of the symbols. Being in a strange land was starting to be taxing. Very thing was strange and unfamiliar. Even the gods them selves seemed to be different here. Aurelious grimaced

Finally, as Thomas filtered to their chosen spot before the door, he remarked. "Perhaps we're getting somewhere now...well at least if we get through here. Well this symbol seems to be Moradin, of course, and this one I bet Lorem can tell us…"

“Dolor’daHan, the anvil, know for some of the greatest blacksmiths in the Dwarven empire.” Lorem said as he turned to look about the room.

“Yes, of course, but this last one seems familiar some how though I can’t put my finger on it…”

Calenon smiled, for he had just spent the last four months pouring over that symbol, studying its intricacies and meanings. The black Iron rod and the Crystal Ball. “It should Thomas, that’s the Symbol of Koral Lierman himself. It looks like we have finally found traces of him.”

“Well good!” exclaimed Thomas, “we’re finally getting some where.”

He stepped forward and examined the hole, "Well I certainly don't want to stick my hand in there. Instruments to play and all that...what about the odd wall sconce over there? But before we do anything, perhaps Richard should check for traps."

"Here's hoping nothing tries to decapitate me this time..." Grumbled Richard as he stepped toward the door.

“Don’t bother it’s not trapped.” Lorem’s voice came from behind them as he was searching trough the rubble, as if searching for something. “That is a door from the forges of Rom Mor. It is expertly crafted by the finest Dwarven engineers. Made out of adamantine the door cannot be broken nor can the face place be removed. The door is locked by twenty separate locks kept under the faceplate and placed intermediately around the outside of the door. The locks can only be unlocked by the activation of the central mechanism, which can only be activated by the key, which is also a necessary and central component too the mechanism. You can open the door by magic, but each individual lock needs a separate spell. You can pick the door too, but without removing the faceplate, which can’t be done in this case, the process is almost impossible. And even if you did remove the plate, each lock has to be picked separately. The mechanism in the center of the door can be made to go off too, but without the key… it won’t work. It’s a pinnacle of Dwarven engineering. Completely mundane, but effective against magic and thieves alike. Although, as a draw back, the door is almost never trapped because the traps get in the way of the complex machinery. The dwarves must have really liked this Koral fellow.”

Lorem approached the glowing rod on the ground which had been ripped from the wall some how. A bit of the Marble was still attached to it. Suddenly Richard called from behind him.

“Lorem Look out!”

“Lorem looked up into a bit of a hole in the rubble. A creature that looked like a mix between a boar and a rat had crawled out of the depths within. It snarled at Lorem as it dropped it’s meal, which looked to be the remains of a human foot. The creature looked as surprised as everyone else. It snarled.

Richard grimaced. “A Biter”

The party readied itself

Monday, July 23, 2007

Chapter 17: Into the pit

The companions stand on the edge of the abyss looking at the thirty foot drop to the stone below them. The eerie blue light ekes through the hole illuminating their stark faces. The drop seems almost ominous as a small stone breaks loose from the ruble and falls, clattering on the stone bellow. The sound echoes hollowly around the room, making it sound ancient and hollow. Suddenly Calenon dulls slightly as a blue shimmer seems to fade from him and his light goes out.
“damn.” Calenon frowned

Richard looked to Calenon

"Calenon seems most anxious to get down there." Richard extended his hand over the precipice and looked at Calenon. "After you"

Calenon grimaced as he lamented the loss of his spells. “While I am anxious to get down the hole, if, Thomas, you still think it a good idea for someone to wait here, I think I may be the best choice. Whether to run to your aid or from danger up here, my spells provide the quickest and safest ways in the group, I think.”

Lorem quickly assessed the situation. “As I don’t see how any of you will manage to climb down whilst holding a lantern, and that if their is something down their they will surely see us descend; I will volunteer myself to lead as my dark vision is surely as good as if not better than any of yours."

Lorem turned and started checking his gear. "I think the more important question at this point is do we leave the rope hanging for us to later ascend or do we take it with us? It is quite possible that we will need it later and with self-closing doors backtracking my not be an option later; however I do feel uneasy about removing our only way back... If we do decide to take it with us perhaps we should have whoever can fall the most gracefully come down last.”

Thomas paused for a moment and turned to Calenon. "As for the rope situation, what spell did you plan to use to get down there? Spider climb perhaps? If it is something where you can climb or float up as well, then I've the perfect solution."

“I have several options; Spider Climb is one of them.” Calenon responded as Thomas searched his bags for a small rod. He pulled it out showing the surface of the rod which was quite plain to look at and unadorned except for a carving of a dragons head at one end. Thomas pressed a button hidden in the carving’s open jaws and released the rod. On instinct Calenon reached to grab it when surprised it did not fall to the ground.

Thomas Smiled. "We can retie the rope to this, and I can use a mage hand to release and drop it back down. That way we could take the rope with us and still get back up. If you don't have such a spell though, I suppose we can always cut it in half. It's about a fifty foot length, so a chop in half would only leave us a slight drop down."

“If you would explain to me the way this wonderful.... rod, I suppose you would call it, works, if I have to flee I can take the rod, and thus the rope if we attach the rope to it, easily if I must flee down the hole.“ Calenon frowned. “If, however, we do not think anyone should be left here, I would prefer not to use any of my spells, at least to descend."

"It's simple really," replied Thomas as he reached forward and pulled the rod from the air, "you just press a button in the carving to activate or deactivate it.” Thomas turned to the others. “After the events in the previous room I don't know if we should leave one behind or not. While being blocked off is possible again, leaving that person stranded, having him separate from the rest might be the only hope of anyone making it back out..."

“Leaving a lookout behind seems like the best option to me.” Calenon marveled at the rod as he put forth his incite. “And, while not the best option for a solo flight, my magic gives me, I think, a better chance than anyone else for escape.” Calenon looked up from the rod. “But, if we do leave a lookout, we need a way to mark the path taken, a way to mark any traps not disarmed, and a decision on how long the person should wait."

Aurelious glanced up from the hole. "We have no idea if we're triggering something to close these doors or... It could be anything else. In our current situation I would suggest we not leave anyone behind, even as a lookout. As far as who goes first, Lorem I believe is the most suited. As for the rope situation... I believe the use of a spell is better than cutting our rope in two. Perhaps this rod and mage hand is the answer we seek"

"If you are up for it, than I would agree you go first Lorem." Thomas agreed
Lorem finished his preparations and stepped toward the hole. "I am not sure I like the idea of leaving someone behind. I was simply trying to find a way down that didn’t require loosing the rope."

"It seems the consensus is that we all go together. I can go second, but someone will probably need to catch my staff; I would prefer to use the rope if possible. Also, I believe my spell has just expired. And Thomas, just a thought for if and when we have to come back this way, would we be able to throw the rod in the air and engage it with a Mage Hand so that we need not use any spells in ascending either?"

"We will have to see on that one. With the weight of the rope attached it would probably be too much for it to lift and I don't know how well I would be able to time it trying to press the button if someone were to throw it."Thomas untied the rope from the rock and retied it to the rod before he activated it over the hole."Looks like you're up Lorem..."

"If their is something hostile hurry down otherwise take your time. And lets make sure not to undo the rope until we are sure their is an exit in this room that we want to take."

As Lorem dropped into the hole the fist thing his dwarven eyes noticed was the change in stone. The black stone which had choked the light of the catacombs above him had now given way to a fine polished marble. This room looked mostly destroyed by the gigantic stone that had crashed between the floors. From where he sat, still perched atop the gigantic dwarven hewn stone a good 20 ft from the floor bottom, it looked like great cools had held on the great vaulted ceiling. The light originated from an interesting wall sconce which looked merely like an iron rod that jutted from the wall and was writhed in a blue flame. Another rod had been knocked loose from the wall and now lay among the rubble on the floor. The room seamed unadorned, or at least what was left was unadorned. In fact the only thing that was worth mentioning was the door.

It was a magnificent door of the finest Dwarven work. Perfectly round it stood nearly ten feet across and made of a dark black metal. Three reliefs were carved into the door. One Lorem recognized as that of Dolor’daHan, the anvil, know for some of the greatest blacksmiths in the Dwarven empire and another was that of Moradin, hammer and anvil, who’s symbol is fastened to all great works, at least it was in the old days, but the third symbol gave him pause. It was of a great circle that held within it a storm and a black rod. Lorem did not know it. From where he stood he could see a hole in the center of the door possibly large enough to stick his fist.

The rest of the room was destroyed.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Chapter 16 (con): A Suprise

The door stood hard against thier minds as the puzled and talked amongst themselves. Little did they notice that one of thier number had slipped back out the way they had came. When they finaly decided to go, leaving the puzzle of the door for a latter date, the party found that Richard is long gone.

“where’d he go…” Calenon stated as he pulled his staff around.

"I believe Richard may be in the room with the hole." Aurelious stated as the party rushed after the dark and silent man down the tiny winding passage. After a short while they burst forth into the same blue light as before. Before them stood Richard standing on the edge of the precipice snuffing out his candle.

“so glad of you to join me.” He said with a smirk

Aurelious came down the steps into the room and stood with Richard at the edge of the hole. He looked into the pit of blue light and spoke "Care should be taken to not wander off. In order to complete our goal, we may not be able to backtrack to find anyone. We will most definitely not split our reduced numbers up, to find someone."

Richard shrugged his shoulders.

“Well now that were back in the creepy blue room it’s time to decide who gets to go first.” Thomas said as he tied one end of the rope to a protruding bit of rubble and checked it for weight. He then threw the other end down the hole.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Chapter 16: A Surprise

With more than a few grumbles the party turned around and head back thought the winding tunnel. They noticed traveling back a slight upward grade that had been unnoticeable before. The new lantern cast flickering shadows upon the walls of the tunnel, silhouetting the travelers as they ascended. Leaving the blue light behind them found their way back into the mural room.

The mural room was just as large as they remembered and although the light of the lantern helped them see the adventurers still saw fit to cling to the wall so as not to loose their way. Traveling left they relived the tale of Aym's reign on the throne, all the way too the end when she was kept from entering through the gates, all without meeting another entrance. There was now only two exits out of the room, including the path they had just come back through which left only the path back too the guards burial chamber which was now some where over the pile of rubble that littered the floor.

"But I thought..." Muttered Richard.

"Aye..." agreed Lorem. "Something is amiss. The Murals show no sign of another entrance either and this pile of rubble seems bigger than before..."

"What the hell is going on?" Calenon exclaimed.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Chapter 15: Colapsed Stone

"So I take it she lead the winning side, or helped to reunite the clans after the bloodshed, only to rule with an iron and too demanding fist?" Thomas inquired

Thomas reached out to touch a piece of the mosaic, but pulled away just before his fingers brush the stones."An over simplification I'm sure, if I am near correct. No wonder you hesitate to tell the tale. Not only could it take the whole night, but how restless the spirits involve may still be." After lingering sometime at the final scene of the mosaic, Thomas kneeled and began to rummage through his pack. "Oh good, I didn't leave this on Oleander," lighting his lantern he continued, "The small amount of light we've had is starting to bother my eyes. This should do it though." Thomas stood and glanced around to see if anyone had come to a decision yet.

“If any one has any pressing suggestions, or "creepy feelings," let's hear them. Otherwise, unless someone discovers something, it seems logical to use the same formula here: first path to the left of the entrance." Calenon suggested.

"I agree with Calenon... I don't have any specific ideas here, but, sticking to reason, will, eventually, yield a result." Aurelious said as he clutched the bastard sword in his hand, eyes sweeping the area illuminated by the crystal on his chest.

"At least we now know something of the story behind this place. But I was afraid it would be something like this..."

"That sounds like a fine plan" Lorem muttered as he turned his back on the Mosaic.

Eyeing the lantern, Lorem questioned it. "A lantern will help for 30 stones but we will have no vision beyond it, while it will serve as a beckon to any other nasty creatures that we are here."

"If there are creatures we've yet to find, we will encounter them whether or not we've the extra light," he taped the side of the lantern as he talked, "I would feel safer fighting in brighter conditions, not only for my eyes but I'm sure these creatures would not enjoy it themselves. Let alone making it easier for Richard to check for traps along the way. Wouldn't the rest of you agree?"

"You make a good point, the creatures may dislike the light, however their is much to be said for having the jump on your opponent in a fight, and with the lantern I fear we will always be on the receiving end of that surprise. Not to mention we don’t know if the light will deter them or draw them like moths"

"In a narrow passageway situation such as these... It is impossible to avoid an encounter. If the beast is there, we have no way around it, save another path. Putting the light out will NOT allow us to avoid confrontation. I do not know whether the beings here will be irritated by it or not, however, we have to bear in mind that they are accustomed to hunting in the darkness, and we are now in the darkness. They can find us, if they want to, with or without the light. I personally would prefer to stay in the light." Aurelious interjected.

“Oh come on! Lets go!” Calenon called from the door

“shhhhh!” the others said in unison.

“Do you wish to alert the prying ears of this place?” Richard asked Calenon roughly.

“no but I do wish to find the crystal ball before I die of old age.” Calenon said turning, leading the companions further into the Catacombs.

The Path continued on a level grade twisting haphazardly through the stone, indistinguishable from any where else. Richard reminisced on what he had just seen as they made their way through the black corridors. "Clan wars... not unlike the conflict in my own homeland. I wonder how many dwarves gave their lives simply because they were ordered to, or because of some ill-conceived sense of duty. To thrive in these times you cannot leave your fate in the hands of others, you must cut your own path."

Lorem grumbled incoherently.

“what was tha…” Richard was cut short as the corridor was bathed in a eerie blue light. They entered into what used to be a large cavern, but it seems the cavern roof has collapsed leaving only a section of a once grand stairway down into the room and a large hole in the floor on the far side of the chamber. All the exits of this room must have been closed in the collapse, for the only way out looks to be the way in and the hole in the floor. The blue light seems to be emanating from that very hole, wafting up from a lower level. Whatever use this room once had seems to be undistinguishable now, but an old pew sticking out of a pile of stone, seems to suggest a religious room of some kind. Oddly there seemed to be the smell of blood around the place.

The hole seemed to be roughly ten feet in diameter, but bears no other significance other than the light emanating from below. The rubble seemed to be of that same black stone of the walls and floors, but also were traces of other stone. Granite, marble, and other stones native to the region litter the floor and make it hard to walk.

“Look. a Support stone fell from the ceiling punching the hole in the floor. I bet the corridors above us faired much worse.” Lorem surmised.

“Great Lorem, but now where too?” Calenon asked.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Chapter 14: A story wrought in stone.

As Lorem marked the door they had come out of with an "X-1" so as to tell where they had been. The rest of the party moved toward their next hall way. Suddenly Richard stopped and looked into the inky blackness of the last hall on the right.

"What is it Richard?" Asked Thomas, following Richard's gaze with his eyes.

"That path. I don't like it." He said simply, but, coming from him sounded menacing.

Thomas looked into the black maws that lead away from the burial chamber. For a split second he thought he felt a presence there and shrank back.

"Your right. I think we should avoid that particular path if at all possible." He shivered.

Richard nodded.

Their light slowly traveled forward in the dark as the party treaded along the black stone floors. Only the soft plodding of their feet could be heard in the stifling darkness. Suddenly the walls and roof melted away into darkness as they entered a large cavernous space. Blocks of black stone and other rubble littered the floor as an apparent cave in must have shook them loose from the ceiling.

"Well bless my soul." Lorem's voice pierced the blackness.

"What?" Calenon asked as he turned around only to find Lorem not there. "Where'd you go?" asked Calenon alarmed. Aurelious drew his sword.

"I'm over here. Don't worry Dwarves can see just fine in darkness such as this." Came Lorem's voice in the dark. "You have to see this."

Following the sound of his voice the party stumbled upon a wall of the room in front of which Lorem was standing.

"What? What is it?" Asked Calenon annoyed.

"Take a look" answered Lorem as he stared up the wall.

The rest of their eyes traveled up the wall and set upon a work of art unlike what they had seen before. Glittering in a hundred gems and semi-precious stones was a massive mosaic that stretched up into darkness. as they followed it around the semi ovalish room. They found it depicted a story of a dwarven woman. In the first panel were a Dwarven king and queen sitting atop a mountain holding a baby, and behind, a massive dwarven figure holding a gigantic hammer. It{s head is cut off by the darkness.

"Look! The king wares upon his breast the symbol of the MorHan clan." Lorem cried out. "I wouldn't be surprised if that's Morhan himself. And behind must be Moradin."

The next panel is that of a great war. Dwarves killing dwarves; as a great river of blood flows into through two great gates. "The clan wars..." muttered Lorem. "There's my clan symbol. Ispem: the scale." The scene depicted Praying dwarves cut down by sword and ax. "The river runs through Admander's gate... many must have died." The Next scene bore a baby bathed in blood and emerging grown, holding a scepter. In the next mosaic it showed the woman dressed in fine robes, standing atop slain dwarves and wearing a crown. Around her all of the clan symbols were represented, hammered into the wall in cold iron. All the clans seemed to be bowing to her. Behind Admander's gate remained open.

Traveling around the room they came too a doorway that led into darkness. Ignoring it they continued on.

The Mosaic then grew bright as gold was hammered between the stones, outlining the actions represented by the pictures. The queen now sat on a throne of gold. sitting atop gems. Dwarves were mining and hauling vast riches, represented by diamonds, to lie at her feet. The mines continued to weave and intermix along the wall as the gold slowly faded into red-gold and blood stone. They now looked down and could see that the floor too had changed and now red veins ran through it. The dwarves in the mines looked sickly and kneeled before the now diamond throne. But the queen in this picture bore a lash in her hand and gold robes. The next scene bore many dead bodies that lined the depictions of the mines. The blood river returned and flowed once more thought the gates. The next panel showed many dwarves with pick axes and shovels around a walled fortress in flames. The next panel was by far the most gruesome. It vividly showed the queen burning sitting atop a pile of melting gold, holding on to it even as it took her hands and fingers.

Once again a doorway interrupted the mosaic story, only to pick up again on the other side.

The last scene left, for apparently a wall had collapsed taking out the rest of the mosaic, showed the queen depicted in white marble standing in front of the Gates as the flow of blood stopped and the gates closed. The figure looked incredibly sad and angry some how, even though it was just marble.

"Impressive." remarked Thomas. Wrought

"Yes, but it doesn't help us reach our goal. Which way should we go now?" answered Calenon.