Catacombs, Part Two - Riddles in the Dark

Sophia used the second of her two Heal Light Wounds powers to heal Storm and the group decided to continue on. Ignoring smaller passages to the right and left (from which the fire beetles had come) they pressed on down the wider passage ahead. They came upon an iron portcullis blocking the passage. Having spotted the lever mechanism on the other side, they failed to come up with a plan to make use of it and Tector finally showed he had brains as well as brawn when he decided to lift the barrier. His prodigious strength worked to good effect and he pushed it back into the ceiling. After some debate about the pros and cons of leaving an escape route open versus discouraging attacks from behind, the group decided to lower the portcullis behind them.

Continuing along the passage they came to a large circular room, fifty feet in diameter. In the flickering light of Storm’s lightning orb and Tector’s torch they could make out that wide passages led out at each point of the compass, and that there were four dark alcoves in the curving walls, each one equidistant between two outward passages. Most strangely, a human skull stood on a 4’ high marble pillar in the very centre of the room.

After much debate about how it must be a trap and who should go first, Tector finally put his foot into the room. Immediately the skull began to spin around and slowly float into the air, greenish-red fire flickering in its eye sockets.

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It addressed the group in a dry, brittle voice, welcoming them and bidding them come closer if they wished to pass through the chamber. Again there was much debate about the possibility of a trap, but after some friendly cajoling from the skull they moved forward, having been informed that they must simply answer a riddle in order to pass. They were asked “What has an eye but cannot see?” Initially stumped, Sophia used her intellect to come up with a clue and thought of the sewing she did as a noble lady. Eventually Storm hit on the fact that it must be a needle! The skull congratulated them and bid them proceed, before sinking back down onto its pillar.

As the group debated which way to go, they were suddenly set upon by a black spider the size of a large dog, which had made its way into the chamber via the ceiling of the eastern passageway. It sprang a good 20 feet before anyone could react, slamming into Storm and knocking him painfully to the flagstone floor.

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As he scrambled to his feet, Sophia tried and failed to scare it away with her trusty Fear spell, then Tector charged it, dealing a dreadful wound with a massive blow from his greataxe. The spider was dazzlingly fast, easily dodging Storm’s Lightning Claws and Sophia’s rapier, but Tector cleaved its carapace with another huge blow, leaving it on its back with legs curled up in the class pose of dead spiders everywhere!

Taking stock, and notwithstanding the fact that each of the group was badly wounded they decided to press on again. Examining the dirty floor, they noticed a very large (much bigger than Tector’s) imprint of a hobnailed boot near the western passageway and decided to head that way.

After a while they came to a crossroads, with the wider passage turning south and narrower ways heading north and east. They decided to follow the wider passage and soon entered another circular chamber, similar in dimensions to the first. This one also had four wide exits, one at each point of the compass, however it contained eight aqueducts, two between each exit, coming out of the walls at around eight feet high and gently sloping into the room for around ten feet before ending in a waterfall.

At the floor level the water entered a channel and flowed into a ten-foot wide pool in the centre of the room. Clearly in happier times this would have created a whirlpool effect in the centre, but at this time only three of the aqueducts were operating, so the water was little more than a trickle.

Entering the chamber, Storm sensed the remnants of powerful magic that reminded him of the standing stones at Ard Tursa. Eyebrows were raised by this, and they proceeded cautiously into the room. Thinking they had heard something, they moved to investigate, only to be startled as a goblin burst from cover underneath the arch of an aqueduct, cursing at them and sprinting for the eastern exit!

Sophia reacted the fastest in both thought and deed, brilliant use of her Sleep spell bringing the rogue down. Searching him, they found a few coins, a magical gemstone and a lot of daggers! Tector then took a firm hold of the little greenskin and they woke him to start the questioning. They spoke for more than an hour with Rikavic, a goblin thief, who was constantly on the make with a combination of cheek, charm and telling people what they wanted to hear.

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Through a combination of intimidation and charm the group managed to get quite a lot of information about the catacombs from their captive, while at the same time growing to trust him a little. At the end of the session they were negotiating a price for him to act as their guide through the passageways. This was proving quite tricky as they were still quite distrustful of him and so wouldn’t tell him where they wanted to go!

Catacombs, Part Two - Riddles in the Dark

Albion Andrew_Brereton Andrew_Brereton