AiS #019: Bones of the Ancients

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Having destroyed the skeletal inhabitants of the first crypt and comprehensively looted the area, the heroes’ appetite for more loot drove them deeper into the crypt. Taking the left-hand tunnel they cautiously advanced along a staggered passageway of strange design.

As they approached a set of black wood double doors, Alice set off a pit trap she—and the dwarves—did not spot. As the floor crumbled away, Alice quickly muttered a word of magic and began floating slowly into the pit. Thangrimm, behind the elf, acted quickly and grabbed her before she could get too far down into the 20-foot deep pit.

Dismayed, the party realised the pit’s collapse had completely blocked the passageway. As they discussed ways to get over the obstacle, Thangrimm decided to jump the pit. Tragically, the brave dwarf tripped on his run up and plummeted head first into the pit. The party now had a problem—as once he had recovered from the fall Thangrimm seemed incapable of climbing out on his own. Undeterred, Warg decided to jump across the pit and drop a rope down to his friend. Sadly, Warg’s jump was no better than Thangrimm’s and he also plummeted into the pit.

Meanwhile, the rest of the party were plotting a safer way across the pit. Returning to the tomb they had already plundered they carried the sarcophagus’ lid back to the pit. Luckily, the lid was several foot longer than the pit was wide and with the judicious addition of some rope and a few pitons the party constructed a temporary bridge. While they were doing so, Thangrimm had managed to secure a grapple hook to the other side of the pit and he climbed out—followed shortly thereafter by Wrag.

Now, the party were on the other side of the pit and approached the double doors, which they opened. Beyond lay an irregularly-shaped room. In one corner stood a dais surmounted by a stone statue of a woman dressed in archaic clothes. As they approached, the statue animated and battle was joined. The statue was difficult to damage, but failed to land any really decent hits on the party. As they fight raged, a clever dart trap activated and spewed missiles into the melee injuring several of the party.

Warg scored a mighty hit on the statue and although the battle dragged on for some time eventually, the stone guardian was destroyed. It was quickly determined the statue’s movement had triggered the trap. Two of the party standing on the trap’s pressure plate provided enough weight to turn off the trap long enough for Alice to deactivate it. Thangrimm made sure of Alice’s handy work by dumping much of the destroyedstone statue back onto the pressure plate.

The party’s attention now turned to a sarcophagus hidden in a previous unexplored niche. Within lay the mouldering bones of a woman wearing clothes of ancient that disintegrated when touched. The skeleton still wore, however, perfectly preserved leather bracers—later identified as bracers of armour—and had a wickedly sharp cold iron dagger. With this loot safely in hand, the party returned to the crypt’s entrance hall and took the right-hand passageway.

Steps led downwards into another crypt. Four skeletons lay on stone biers around the room which was centred on a pool of black, sludgy water. Several passageways led away from the chamber. Advancing, Thagrimm nudged one of the skeletons with his axe, which inevitably led to the four animating. Veronwe blasted the undead abominations destroying them but as the party began to relax a clatter of bones from one of the unexplored passageways heralded the arrival of more undead.

Although the undead were quickly destroyed, by now Kanbrar seemed convinced the party were mad. He just wanted to go to Coldwater, and couldn’t see the point in risking his life underground in this fashion. Veronwe led the agitated half-elf back to the surface and the two fell to talking. Kanbrar confessed he had been lying to the party about why he wanted to get to Coldwater, but reaffirmed he had the information he had promised to Johann. He offered to give the information now—freely—if the party would just let him go and Veronwe agree.

Thus did Johann learn his thunderaxe was crafted from a rare star metal known to the elves as Azangthal—glimmering soul metal—and to the dwarves as Tordel—soul steel. The half-elf further related the metal was reputed to be able to absorb the souls—or essence—of those it slayed and to slowly gain power over time. This was all the half-elf knew, although he suggested Johann might find more information in the Dreaming Spire’s “Special Collection”—a part of the library the party hitherto had known nothing about.

Shortly thereafter, Kanbrar departed the party and Veronwe kicked over the grave robber’s tent—so no on else would think to investigate the tomb—and returned to his companions.

Meanwhile, the party had discovered a large double sarcophagus and were busily opening it, although dire warnings graven in Draconic warned of “the two slumbering within”. Inside a vast jumbled mass of bones and silver and copper coins filled the sarcophagus. Eagerly, the party removed the bones and coins—for they suspected there may be more here than met the eye. Initially, their investigations revealed nothing but eventually Alice’s sharp eyes detected the tell-tale signs of a secret compartment at the bottom of the sarcophagus…