July 01, 2008

Running the Tomb, Part 7: There Will Be Blood

Back to our “Tomb tale”…

What follows is Spoiler City. Going to play in the Tomb of Horrors? Yes? Then scat!
Our current player–character breakdown:

Adrian P. (covering for Mike F.)
Ceralt, 14th-level Fighter
Phelan, 9th-level Magic-user

Ken H.
Dendyr, 14th-level Cleric
Valdamane, 10th-level Paladin
Forethal, 9th-level Cleric

Steve C.
Rath, 7th/8th-level Dwarf Fighter/Thief

Will W.
Quint, 12th-level Ranger
Brandice, 4th/6th-level Drow M-U/Thief

The party marched into a fascinating foyer. Walls reflected the light from gleaming brass and beaten copper sheets. Ahead a short set of stairs climbed upwards, each stair constructed of a precious mineral. And at the top: a huge, vault-like door with a central depression and a tiny hole (a keyhole?) therein. A golden key, similar to the one found in the vat room, lay on a step. (Hereafter, we’ll call this the Second Key.)

Rath the dwarf mounted the stairs fearlessly, and proceeded to examine the door. Carelessly, he scratched the surface of one metal door. Almost immediately, the scratch showed red and soon began to drip blood—the blood of all those that died in the area of the Tomb! (This grim knowledge came to the characters, unbidden.) Before long the scarlet flow turned into a steady stream than ran down the stairs.

Forethal, scepter in hand, bravely inserted the scepter’s round, golden end into the door depression, and the great valve swung silently open. The party hastily ran through, but they realized the blood might flood the hall and still continue up… After a tense powwow, Forethal administered several healing spells to the nicked door and the flow finally ended.

The next chamber held many items, among them four fearsome iron statues bearing weapons, a ruined sarcophagus with bones, a smoking jug, and two chests. The thieves went right for the chests, Rath easily defeating his triple-locked chest (and gaining many gems) but Brandice failing his attempt to open his trunk. Meanwhile, the rest of the party inspected the area, including the sarcophagus (which they didn’t believe held the remains of Acererak, despite the named helpfully stenciled across the top in platinum), the statues, and the jug. Ceralt carefully deposited the jug back at the foyer for safekeeping.

A bit of true seeing by Forethal soon showed the true way—a secret trapdoor beneath one of the scary statues. Working together, the stronger party members shoved the statue aside and the group descended into the narrow crawlspace. The party, aware but confused by the “You’ve left and left and found my tomb” potion of the message walked past the actual secret door down a long corridor, but soon doubled back, found a tiny keyhole, and inserted the First Key. A section of wall rumbled away.

Beyond the sliding wall was a smallish area. The group filed in and a tiny hole was discovered in the floor. Another keyhole? Forethal inserted the First Key, and the resulting explosion blew him 5 feet upwards! Carefully, Rath inserted the Second Key, turning it once to the left (nothing) and once to the right, where a tiny click greeted his ears. The party waited … and nothing happened. Could the key have opened a door elsewhere?

Puzzled, they walked back down the corridor, where the hall eventually split. Some investigation led them to realize that the passages reconnected with the hallway leading to the siren’s grotto.

Brandice, assuming the way was clear (he had checked for pits earlier when coming the other way down the hall), waltzed through a door, plunged into a pit, and was stabbed by a poisoned spike. The pit was magical, and phased into the Tomb from another dimension when the door was entered from a certain direction! Climbing painfully out, Brandice joined his companions (who hastily inventoried their scroll collection for a neutralize poison spell).

The group walked back to the sarcophagus room, certain the answer was there! They surveyed the area, and Ceralt went back to the jug he had placed in the foyer, noted the puffs of smoke coming from its top, and popped the seal. Immediately streams of smoke and bright red light spilled forth, as well as an efreeti! The efreeti, pleased to be released after a long imprisonment, offered Ceralt three services. Ceralt choose to have three questions answered. The efreeti (truly happy at this simple arrangement) answered Ceralt’s questions about the Tomb in a truthful but cryptic way, but his last answer hinted that Rath had come the closest to finding the final resting place of the great Acererak.

After some brainstorming, the party walked back to the tiny floor depression and Rath again inserted his golden key into the keyhole. He turned the key, once, twice, three times, and suddenly the floor bulged, bent, and began to rise! Leaping away and avoiding being smashed to a pulp (my ominous DM countdown didn’t hurt), Rath watched in wonder as a huge mithril vault raised into the room. A humble pull-ring on a mithril door begged for use. The party walked forward, into the last room in the Tomb any would ever enter…

Stay tuned, gentle reader, for Part 8: Death to Acererak!
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