Lost Lore 34: Entering the Tomb
Satisfied with the safety of the second key, the heroes return to the Tomb to find unexpected danger
Atop a couple of Brooms of Flying, Ospher, Charity, Nika and I, set out to try and determine where the cries for help were coming from, if everyone was so insistent on saving people inside an acid filled stomach. We touched down on the first derelict to clear it for people and determine the age of the vessel or anything else notable about it, the smell of the acid burning the wood was very strong, slowly digesting the wood, but all was quiet. Nika hopped off immediately started looking for something to loot, while Ospher and I looked about, Ospher finding a cargo manifest from the prior month of Revelry, describing a timber hauler from Rylan, bound for Frial, noting it should have a lot of timber aboard along with logging equipment. Satisfied with that, I called for Nika to hurry up from what was left of belowdecks, and took back off with Charity towards the noises.
"Time to go!"With the stomach's "ceiling" laden with calcium deposits and 40' up, Ospher sent Servos up to there and attempted to spot the cause of the commotion, but the stomach fumes were collecting up top there and made it difficult to see far and clearly. Nika came back up to the top deck, dragging a treasure chest, and he interrogated her about finding anyone aboard, to which she explained she didn't see any sign of bodies or blood splashed about. She popped the lock with ease and pulled out a backpack filled with writing tools, a set of Ring mail with a surcoat stitched into it, and a scabbarded short sword, and finally a small wooden box with many different vials and chemicals, stands and burners, a pristine Poisoner's kit. He stashed most of that into a Bag of Holding and looked about as to where to go to find these people yelling. Charity and I had sought after the ruckus, and found a fairly large galley, unadorned with weapons, and slowly sinking into the fluids. Also among the ship, we saw more wispy presences darting about the ship and as we neared, one seemingly grabbed onto one of the men aboard the top deck yanked it over the railing to fall into the stomach acid. Quickly assessing from a distance, the wisps were able to traverse the solid walls of the ship at will so we couldn't get a count of them, but there were a dozen crew members left that we could pick out. I attempted to Sacred Flame one of things from afar, but due to their speed, it whizzed around the radiant flames and held still for a brief moment, twitching and then zipped towards us as we took the broom down onto to another wreck to fight the thing.
"But there's stuff here!!"
"Grab the good ones and let's go now!"
"Getting into trouble like this isn't my strongest suit, so I don't know the right way to approach a situation like this. "It closed just and we landed, taking both of us by surprise, though it directed both sweeps at me, going wide once and the second time connecting with me with a sort of chill electricity, and as my teeth began to chatter, the wisp's energy seemed to faintly intensify. I attempted to shoot a Guiding Bolt at the thing, but its speed helped it dodge my spell, but Charity's Wand of Magic Missiles was surefire as usual, visibly dissipating much of the wisp's enegy. Servos' optics were able to spot us through the darkness, so Ospher bade Nika to hurry up and they mounted the other Broom and dodged around a couple of acid clouds and joined us in the fight. Charity's Firebolt dealt another strong impact to this thing, but not enough to destroy it before it started to pulse with a pale white light and emitted a freezing cold aura, sapping more of our life force as it attempted to siphon life from us, but the Immortality Malady split the thing in two as it sort of faded away in the air like glimmering dust.
"Should have voted to leave!"
"No, it's the right thing to do, I just don't know how to do it."
"So I guess we're going to kill the rest of these?"
"I don't know that we can negotiate our way out of this now that we killed one of their dudes."
"What's going on? How many more of those things are there?"Collectively, we sped to the boat with the shouting to find that the wisps had worked quick, only 6 of the humans manning the vessel remained and they were desperately attempting to escape in a life raft. We touched down atop the deck and counted 5 wisps attempting to surround them, I cast Spiritual Weapon, calling a Dagger of Nisaba to strike at one of them. The dagger stabbed true injuring one, Ospher laid a Slow spell on them, afflicting four of the five of them with seeming lethargy and this was sufficient to draw their attention from the sailors, three wisps slowly bobbing through the air towards us but upon getting there, all three began their pulsing light attack, dealing a frightening amount of pain to each of us and laying Nika low. Their wispiness collectively churned more heavily as the energy they sapped from us with the attack bolstered their forms. The one wisp my dagger stabbed separated one man from the rest and dragged him overboard and to his death in the acid, but strangely enough it didn't rise afterwards. We had seen these thing go through solid wood, is the acid itself also magical in nature to mortally wound these things? Charity, still barely on her feet like Ospher and I empowered her wand of magic missiles again and dealt one of the wisps close to us a heavy blow, and Servos caught all three of the wisps in a gout of flaming breath and then attempted to bite one but while he is magical in nature, his razor sharp teeth went completely through the closest wisp. Charity changed tactics to using her Ring of Shooting Stars, creating two spheres of ball of lightning and lashing out at the three remaining wisps, destroying them in a flurry of electric zaps. She then repositioned them towards the final wisp by the sailors, zapping that one as well. I then charged the thing and between my strike and the Spiritual Weapon, the wisp disappeared into nothingness. The five remaining sailors all appeared very injured, clutching one another for support, though one stepped forward to me at this point, a ragged man, covered in acid burns asking where we came from and if were stuck here as well. They claimed to have been sucked up while on Lake Bask, "The water opened up and took us," and I ushered for him to follow me while going back to administer aid to Nika. He introduced himself as Rinn, captain of the now dying boat, Ospher asked if these were all that survived, and Rinn explained some of them got split up below decks and was insistent on having someone go to help them and maybe get them out of wherever we were, his words, not mine, I know what kind of horror we climbed into.
"We don't know the answers to any of those questions!"
"Well, who are you?"He pointed off in the distance, explaining that the orifice by which they came to this acid lake was closed there and as they careened down it from the lake, bashing and crashing the whole way through they landed here not long ago. Rinn thought there would be five more of his crew down there, including the ship's paymaster, I cast an Aura of Vitality to heal the lot of us and then began to descend a few steps down the center of the ship and immediately perceived an intense increase in concentration of acid wafting up. Knowing that only Ospher's Ventilating Lungs would get through it unscathed, Charity and I hung back to trust him to take care of the remaining sailors after she cast Protection from Energy upon Ospher and I gave him Nisaba's blessing of stealth, Rinn explained which areas he should see when below.
"We're from Frial."
"So are we going below to rescue these guys?"
"We should, it would be awful if we just saved these guys."
"Ughhh, I don't have the right spells prepared today for this."
"What did you think we were going to be doing today?"
"We got roped in by Rona YESTERDAY, this is the next day."
"I always have the right spells prepared."
"How in the fuck"
"Down there you're gonna see all of our timber holds, certainly then our paymaster's area. I don't want to sound ungrateful, but if you happen to see a chest full of coin there, it'd be helpful to have."He explained they got cut off around the bunks, so they would likely be somewhere past or around there by now, and warned that these things can hear heartbeats, which was an odd an unexpected thing for him to warn. At questioning, he explained there was no where anyone could hide to keep away from the wisps, so there must be something to living beings that they could sense or track. He set off through the green vapors into the decks, later telling me that he saw the stacks of lumber, a small office to the left and as he got in deeper, some shouting that wasn't carrying far, and following that a lantern bobbing about as someone in the distance ran from rapidly pursing wisps. Sneaking up behind some timber, he spotted a large 10'x10' section of the ship dissolved by their landing into the acid which was where a majority of the harmful fog likely wafted in from. Horrifyingly, it seemed this was where the wisps were almost herding the remaining people into, corralling them up to the edge of the boat and menacingly encroaching and goading them into the acid with coordinated pulses of their life sapping aura. He counted five survivors surrounded by seven of the wisps, and decided that he would attempt a Gust of Wind after calling out a warning to the humans, with four of them able to hold tight in the burst of wind, but the fifth losing his grip on the ship boards and tumbling into the acid, but the wisps seemed to be vulnerable to this sort of magic, at first blowing away, but then finding the strength to regain their forms and coalescing and four of them attempted to then electrocute Ospher, but their disorientation from the spell was too much and they didn't land a single blow on him. I didn't believe this either, but Ospher doesn't tend to embellish these sorts of things. Of the remaining three wisps, two of them pulsed their sickening light, killing the man struggling in the acid, and in a moment of weakness from the painful light, the final wisp grabbed another sailor and plunged them both into the acid, annihilating them. The remaining three fled from the wisps towards Ospher's initial cry, one of them jingling with coins, a chest strapped to his back. Ospher ushered the paymaster and the two sailors onwards in the direction of the stairs standing to face the Wisps and distract them from the vulnerable sailors. They attempted their pulses but it had a milder effect upon Ospher with the magics enchanting him, he popped out of the floor behind the sailors who were helped up by their mates with the wisps giving up the fight and content with their spoils, evidently. We didn't see any sign of them again afterwards. The sailors fled to one of the dinghies, intent on trying to make their way back to through the gullet that deposited them here after being swallowed by the sleeping Drydir, but we put a stop to that nonsense, insisting that the acid would get through that quickly and if not, them disturbing the lake may attract more wisps. Groaning about needing to bring these people back through the way we came, I realized that we'd need to lend them our foldable boat we took from the Harvest Children when they attacked the Orphanarium. We shuttled them over to the ledge we came through via broom train, impressing most of them with the weird magics we possessed and they assented to abide our rules of depature where they would need to be blindfolded as they climbed the ladder and then waited up top. Getting back to the ledge ahead of them and informing Bianca and Janka of the situation via Telepathic Bond, Janka had already cured herself of the sickness from the fumes and had Prestidigitated most of the vomit from her clothes while Bianca had filled a number of sheaves of paper with notes. Bianca expressed some disappointment about not being able to investigate the building near the heart, but this was no time to discuss why it was going to be a bad idea. The sailors took a final wistful look in the direction of their boat, but in the darkness and the wisps gone, the could no longer see their boat, The Knave, to wish it farewell. We bade the sailors to remain in silence for the walk with the rest of us, due to 'unexplained tremors' in these tunnels at loud noises, and I had to hush Captain Rinn several times. We got to the base of the ladder and spotted the pinprick of light at the top, giving us a faint assurance that Tadlo and Lorgen were still alright. The sailors and captain adorned their gunny sacks and I went first up the ladder to warn Tadlo and Lorgen of what was coming, they were excited to see me and had a lot of questions about what we found, but I impressed on them the need to cover the flying machine and mask the area in general before the sailors got up there and could make assumptions. Covering the hatch as well as the machine, I corralled the sailors away from the entrance and after everyone was up, removed the bags from their heads. Their relief was evident on their faces and posture, having been freed from their assumed condemnation of death to weird otherworldly things or acid.
"I have to be honest it won't be my first priority."
"Oh no, the men, of course, of course, but I mean we're gonna lose our whole livelihood here, so it would be nice as a good secondary if you happen to see it." Nika is winking gratuitously at Ospher after the mention of money, an obvious weird ugly wink
Pointing off to the north "I think you'll want to head off that way to Rylan."
with a severe look on his face "We swimmin'?"
with a smirk "At some point in the future, Captain Rinn, I'll come to collect this." Adjenna gestures to the briefcase in her hand
"SORCERY! WITCH!"We got the sailors names as well before wishing them a bonne voyage, as we heard some muttering and thought this could turn into a mutiny before long on the lake. They asked a few questions about us, but uneager to look a gifthorse in the mouth when we gave short or trite answers, they agreed to set off without much more pushing beyond understanding that as thanks they could fly the dagger of Nisaba on their next boat. Nika tried to convince both Ospher and I to shake them down for 10% of their paybox like they had promised, but I didn't care enough for such low desires and Ospher refused, citing that their money likely either was proverbially or literally soaked in blood in the past. I did not take the time to tell anyone I told you so as they sailed away in a boat I still wanted to throw at someone in the heat of battle. Once Rinn Berry and his crew had sailed off the shore, we gathered about and I finally had a chance to tell them something I thought people needed to start considering: Rycroft, and possibly Saville, could compel people to do anything against their will, based on the 'knife trick' observed in the Mayor's former house. This meant that in the worst case, if any of us were the lone person in control of their facilities and had to face off against Rycroft and the rest of us at once, have a plan in mind in order to effect an escape or a final chance to drop the psychopath, and whatever they came up with, to not share with anyone else. I told Janka that I expected that her magic with her Viola would likely work as a countercharm to whatever they pulled, but not to rely upon it. Prior to actually setting out to leave, Ospher used some of his transmutation powers to cover the hatch in similar stone to the ancient ruin nearby and we covered much of the site itself to render it unrecognizable as a dilapidated structure. Everyone considered the gravity of my words, and we had a fairly quiet ride back to the sunken Tomb while I reviewed the old headmaster's texts about manipulating enchanted meshes. Ospher also identified the ringmail from the chest aboard the first derelict as non-magical, but the shortsword could, once per day coat itself in a sheen of ice that would cause a more aggravated wound as it froze the flesh near the site of aa successful attack for up to a minute, we gave that to Lorgen for an offhand weapon. He and Tadlo explained that they poked around on the island while we were below the surface and found that the island itself is not particularly deep and then not far down there's a peculiar sort of barky substance. I told Ospher quietly that he should consider loading the reverse engineered Grannis-bullet into the dwarven pistol as his measure, or not, as I really didn't want to know. We parked the flying machine a good distance away from the digsite and by the time we circled around to approach from a different direction than the horrible keen of the machine, it was nearly dusk. Sanford's team had made a lot of progress in our absence, the doorway now mostly cleared, and he took notice of our approach. Still perfectly cordial, he thought maybe we were there on behalf of the Brans for a progress report again and I lied about us having been checking out an adjacent site, but otherwise explaining that the other place was completely derelict. They had uncovered more of the sides to the entrance as well for us to examine and based on how their work was evolving from there, I assumed it was likely that they'd find the fissure in the next two days if they kept going and clearing more of the connected bit. Ospher was as interested as any of us as to what other information the sides held, so he cast Comprehend Languages again as the rest of us took a brief break while Janka made some oatmeal to calm her queasy stomach. With eyes that could read Baradradi, Ospher spoke summaries of the sides, they spoke about various philosophical points Orimenhet advocated for, something called the 4 Virtues: "Life is the Origin of Innovation, The Cycles of the Natural World are Alive, Magic Favors Life, Death is Relentless" which ultimately advocated for a balance between Skyrir and the living rest of the world. She had an emphasis on making sure that the living world endures instead of scouring them away and paving them under.
"No no boys, this is the good kind. We'll take it, you wonderful lake witch, you."
"She sounds perfectly reasonable, it's a shame that she's probably dead. Or maybe she's an angry kind of dead."Making excuses for privacy, we left the front entrance and got privacy from the enchanted work team closer towards the fissure Ospher found. Charity used a few castings of Gust in order to cover our tracks in the still freshly falling snow and we tried to come up with ideas as to how to keep people from accessing this weakness behind us. We resolved to pack a lot of ice in the area behind us and create a very thickly laminated layers of ice and then once inside, Charity could cast a spell from her book Private Sanctum in order ot prevent passage through and hopefully forcing the Brans to work magic besides that of enchanted blood and sweat. Slipping into the fissure was tight for me due to my half-plate, but a Reduce spell made it a cinch and drastically adjusted my perspective of the world from the eyes of halflings and gnomes. As the first one through, entering the Tomb onto a stone floor, the air was very dusty and stale and remnants of the swampy forest above that made their way in made heaps by the fissure. The room must have housed a fountain at one point, or a basin, it was definitely made for religious purposes, but it was cracked and damaged from the tree. There was still some liquid inside the silvery basin, bubbling up from seemingly nowhere, slowly dripping onto the floor, and a couple statues that had been knocked over by the intruding roots and lay broken. Reaching out with arcane senses, I could tell that besides the webbing covering the entire place, the room had a lot of magic to it as well, and because of the webbing, Nisaba's whispers at the time were slightly unintelligible, but she urged me towards the basin. Ospher and the others followed me in and we set our three Driftglobes out to examine the room. He spotted the remnants of ancient scrolls on the floor, desiccated by exposure to the humid swamp for long centuries. The fountain, I observed, had a very reflective and polished basin, the liquid itself had a silvery nature to it, and I still couldn't get a better read of what she wanted me to do with it through the interference. I bottled up as much as I could from it, about two full tea cups worth and observed it sort of working to refill itself very slowly. Bianca got an eyedropper to take a small sample of what was refilling in case we need more of it later and for her own study as well, proving she wasn't as moon oriented as she normally comes off.
"What is it?"
"I'm not sure yet, I'm going to try and figure that out once I know nothing else in here is going to try and kill us."
"How did you know to take it?"
"My god told me."
hushed "That's crazy."
"Well you talk with that thing I saw."
"Yeah, it's fine, but I'm not gonna like worship her or anything."
"Sure, we have different relationships."
"Yeah, and she's like wrong all the time. Is it sippable? Should we take a sip? Should I sip it?"
"Or should I dip something in it?" she gestures with her pinkyAlmost across from where we entered from a corner at the ceiling, was a stone archway that was the only means of exit, but blocked by a pair of large stone slabs. Looking around it, it appeared as if there were some ancient physical mechanisms that were supposed to move the slabs that had broken down some time in the past, and Ospher attempted to apply the Phantom Caress to one of them, and it moved just a little bit, but seized up again. Nika then called out from behind us that she tasted the fluid from the fountain. Rolling my eyes and turning about to look at her, she wasn't actively dying so I asked Bianca to tag in for me to preserve the ancient structure while helping Ospher and I would make a concerted effort into learning what this stuff does. I sat down and communed with Nisaba while Nika sat down and had a pretty confrontational argument with her lady. I gleaned the words "luminous" "drink" and "power" from her, still leaving me somewhat mystified, while Nika wouldn't share what she got but claimed it was wrong and unhelpful. Attempting to access the magical weave here, it was clear this wasn't a control point, so I used the Gem of Seeing's final charge for the day and observed that the skeins of power interlaced all seemed to converge below and in tracing those about, magical inscriptions on the door that would trigger some kind of alarm if the doors were forced open, so I stopped Ospher quickly. He and Lorgen quickly disabled it, revealing that the power was connected to the broken statues within the room, telling us they were in fact stone golems, and still ready to 'wake up' as it were, but in dire need of Mending. Since they were inactive, Charity was able to use her Manual of Golems to reset the activation of them as we set about fixing them up with magics and keyed them to "attack only humans" that were intruding, as Fountainhead is nearly exclusively half-elves, Sanford included, and we wouldn't be retriggering any of the defenses since we expected the incursion to come in before we likely could leave. Ospher got the door open after a grueling effort from the magic item he wore, and we saw a long stone hallway, cobwebbed and more stale air. Off to the left, likely the entrance where Sanford and the team could come in if the front doors could be battered down, and across, another set of stone doors that are sealed and then to the far right the chamber continued and terminating in yet another set of doors and near that set looked like the top of a staircase that led down. Lorgen and Ospher set out to look for traps, both mundane and magical and they found beaucoup traps; pressure sensors in the floor of the hallway, arcane warding written in some stones, poison darts that would either fire from the walls or impale from the floor. We decided to get about the place, seeing what was here and resolved to come back and soften the blow of the traps as possible at a later point, because if we didn't sabotage the Bran's plan, there's no sense in having spared the Fountainheader's lives only for them to be worked to death. Bianca pointed out that the magical weave control would likely be able to disable them all, so that would spare us a lot of work if it was in fact in control of physical traps as well. We opted to go to the room nearest the stairs on the right side as it had a lot of writing on the door, avoiding traps and temporarily disabling them as needed, and Bianca and Ospher were able to suss out that it was a Safe of Knowledge for the location. With the alarm connection on the backside of the door, and none of us able to assume the form of a ghost at will (great suggestion Janka!), we consulted our various repertoires to determine other means to bypass the door and ultimately settled on me ritual casting Meld into Stone on Ospher and then 10 minutes later on Lorgen for them to disable the alarm again before prying open the door. I sent Ospher through after 10 long minutes of Charity telling Nika to leave me alone. I took a drink of water and set about casting it a second time...
harshly "Scientists don't dip. There's no dipping, they don't dip and lick."
Character(s) interacted with
Rinn Berry and the former crew of The Knave - I think they're loggers but also pirates. Ospher agrees, lots of weirdness to their demeanor. Hopefully they don't sell our foldable boat, I'd hate to have to chase it down by hurting people.