Catacombs, Part Five - Friend and Foe
After a few days rest and healing under the care of Mother Superior Constance, the group ventured back into the catacombs, determined to get back to the bone door they had heard about, root out the undead, and hopefully find Bran, the Minster carpenter whose disappearance had triggered their first encounters with the ghouls.
Retracing their steps from the previous foray, they found that the portcullis they had left open had been lowered again by unknown hands. However Tector was easily able to lift it again so they could continue.
Moving on, they were ambushed by two Deathjump spiders but made fairly short work of them. Proceeding with caution, they approached the ‘aqueducts room’ where they had encountered the goblin Rikavic on their last foray. This time, they saw a bright light emanating along the corridor from the aqueducts room, and head a very deep voice say ‘almost done’.
Tector and Storm moved to the entrance (with Sophia staying well back up the corridor) and saw two figures. The first was a huge, deformed giant with a yoke around its neck. The second was a female elf with terrible scars on her face.
The elf immediately noticed them and swung around, aiming her fine elven bow at them. “Back off, right now, or I’ll skewer you” she threatened in a hard voice. The giant, which was in the process of filling two wooden barrels with water, picked up a huge club with a menacing deep-throated rumble.
Storm and Tector stayed calm. “Who are you?” asked Storm.
The elf’s eyes widened. “A dragonborn! Who in the Hells are you, and what are you doing here?” the scarred elf replied.
“We are on our way to the bone door” stated Storm.
“Are you insane?” demanded the elf, still holding her bowstring taut and aimed at Storm’s head. “You need to turn around and go back the way you came.”
Storm considered. “We need to go through here to get to the bone door.”
“Back off” said the elf. “We’ll be done in five minutes, then your business is your own." She paused. “And DON’T try to follow us. If you do, we’ll kill you”.
“Errr … ok … ,” Storm agreed.
Storm and Tector retreated back the way they had come, picking up Sophia on the way, and waited around the corner some 30 feet up the passageway. After a few minutes a low grunt and splashing sound indicated that the giant was finished collecting water and had picked up the two barrels. The group waited a few more minutes before continuing on their way. They noted that, as before, only three of the aqueducts were operational.
Moving on, they came to the room full of smashed stone coffins. They checked that the single remaining unopened sarcophagus was still intact, and were pleased to find that it was. Leaving the rubble behind, they approached the large, cathedral-like room where they had been ambushed by Chokers during their last expedition. They were all very nervous about passing through this chamber, and made extensive preparations before running quickly through, with axe, arrow and lightning all readied and aimed at the darkened ceiling. To their surprise, they were not assailed, nor did they detect the slightest movement, and they continued on down a wide passageway.
They arrived again at the circular room containing the Roman statue covered in Latin script inlaid with iron. Remembering that it had showered them with acid when last they tampered with it, the group moved quickly on.
The corridor began to angle perceptibly downwards, and became more and more damp. They ignored side passages and continued straight on, and down, in accordance with the instructions Rik had given them. After a few minutes, they heard an unnatural low growling ahead of them. Storm quickly sent his flickering lightning torch forward, revealing two huge mastiffs and an enormous ogre, all of them marked with death yet fixing their dead eyes hungrily on the group. The Gravehounds both leaped at the group while the Zombie Hulk behind them hefted a huge iron mace and lumbered forward.
Storm unleashed the bitter cold of his draconic breath on the charging Gravehounds, before Tector took point and parried the first attack, slamming his blade into the hound in return. He was surprised however when the second Gravehound sprang past him and attacked Storm and Sophia, who had thought themselves safe behind Tector’s bulk. He managed to slash the undead creature’s flank with his greataxe as it passed, then battle was joined in earnest.
All three heroes rained blows and spells upon the Gravehounds, and suffered at the jaws of their foes in return, sustaining wounds not just from the razor teeth of the hounds but also from a chilling, deathly energy that assailed them each time they were bitten. The huge zombie hulk then reached the battle and slammed its mace into Tector, dealing him a staggering blow. The group quickly decided that they needed to draw on all their firepower to win the fight. The Gravehounds were despatched by a huge Tector blow and pin-point strikes from Sophia’s rapier, while Storm brought down the hulk with a combination of his Ice Javelins and Wand of Fire.
The undead had been guarding a huge double door, made of fused and knitted bone, which spanned the whole corridor. As they stood before it and discussed their next move, they were startled by the sound of movement behind them. Whirling round, they were shocked to see the hulk rising to its feet again and hefting its mace. Tector took another powerful blow, but the companions rallied and the hulk fell for the final time under a rain of axe blows, rapier strikes and lightning.