Catacombs, Part Four - Choke and Burn
Moving on from the room full of smashed stone coffins, they made their way along another corridor which emerged into a long, narrow chamber, like a vaulted church, with pillars running in pairs along its length and a high ceiling lost in darkness above them. Rik had warned them that the chamber was inhabited by Chokers, grey-skinned humanoids with incredibly long, cartilaginous arms ending in large, powerful, bony, grasping hands.
Sure enough, as they moved cautiously though the chamber they were attacked by four of the creatures, swinging down in ambush from the darkness above. With the element of surprise they managed to grab Tector, Sophia and Rik, and began to strangle them. Sophia used her magic to terrify one of them, sending it scuttling back up into the darkness. Storm dodged away, hurling Lightning Orbs at the creatures above and frying one with a blast from his Wand of Fire. The rest of the group managed to break free and fight off their ambushers.
All those who had been grabbed had nasty bruises to show for it, and they hurried out of the shadowy chamber before any more attackers could descend on them, glancing nervously up into the darkness above. As they did so, Tector felt a strange tingling surge up from the floor and through his body. His limbs began to stiffen, but with a herculean effort he shrugged off the paralysis and pushed on. Storm sensed that the floor was enchanted, and worked out that it must be a magical trap. He marked it on his map, and the rest of the group took care to skirt around the area.
Continuing along a broad corridor, they came to another large, perfectly circular room, again with four exits, one at each point of the compass. At its centre stood a plinth with a life-sized marble statue standing atop it. The white marble statue was clearly Roman in style, and was covered in Latin script inlaid with iron. It held a dish of some sort in one hand and an ebony baton raised above its head in the other.
The group searched around the statue, finding nothing of interest. Storm then pressed his hands to the statue, allowing his draconic senses to extend and feel eldritch power flowing through the iron-inlaid marble. Focusing, he had a mental impression of burning, but without heat or flame. The group was unsure what this meant, and continued to investigate. Tector climbed up onto the plinth and tried to wrest the baton from the statue’s hand. Something went badly wrong, as the baton shifted in Tector’s grasp and the dish in the statue’s other hand suddenly filled with a clear liquid and began to spin wildly. The entire group was sprayed with acid, all of them suffering nasty burns but with Tector, who was stood on the plinth, faring worst. Some quick thinking saw Tector use his waterskin to wash off the acid, reducing the burning somewhat, but the group were still badly wounded and Storm passed out from the pain.
Sophia called upon the last of her healing to get Storm back on his feet. Rik suggested that they turn back, given the extent of their injuries, but with the exception of Sophia the group were determined to press on. They continued out of the room, following the broad passage as it started to angle downwards and become quite damp. After a while they came across the dismembered corpse of a ghoul scattered across the corridor. Wondering what might have caused such damage spooked the group somewhat, and Rik reminded them that the bone door they sought would be heavily guarded. They finally decided that discretion was the better part of valour and started to make their way back to the Minster. Having guided them most of the way back, Rik bid them farewell, collected the remainder of his payment, and headed off down one of the side corridors they had passed earlier.
As they retraced the final steps to the Minster, they were ambushed once again by giant spiders. Sophia was struck by the acidic spittle of a Spitting Spider and finally succumbed to her wounds, collapsing to the floor. Storm and Tector slew the arachnids, with Tector scooping up Sophia and walking, together with a limping Storm, back to the Minster crypt. Quickly tapping out the ‘secret knock’ they had agreed with the Templar guards at the outset of their foray, they gratefully stumbled though the makeshift stone door.
They were quickly given first aid and then taken to Clementhorpe Nunnery just outside the city walls, to be placed under the care of the leading healer in the North, Mother Superior Constance. While recuperating, they were visited by Father Geoffrey, the more rotund and friendly of the Archbishop’s senior priests. The group gave a detailed account of their explorations beneath the city streets, and Storm showed him the map he had drawn.
Father Geoffrey complemented them on their work, and supported their desire to get back into the Catacombs as soon as possible to root out the undead infestation. The group asked for reinforcements in the form of a Templar bodyguard, but Father Geoffrey explained that many good men had died or been wounded in the undead attack on the Minster, and with the increased security requirements following the attack, none could be spared. Tector suggested that it might be easier to enter through the crypt in All-Hallows churchyard, where they had first encountered the ghouls, and they discussed their options with Father Geoffrey. After a long debate they decided to enter through the Minster crypt again as soon as they were fully recuperated.