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Under the Citadel

General Summary

Under the Citadel

Decembra 8, 887 Af.

As the party gathered outside the secret entrance, Sif began to worry about the stirges they had left behind. While the others were not concerned, they agreed to go back and wipe out the nest before they moved on. Heading back into the room, they made short work of the little beasts, shooting, stabbing, or crushing each of the blood thirsty little beasts. After wiping them out, Sif shrugged and said that she thought they were bigger.

The party moved back through the hidden door, and found themselves in an underground boudoir. Silken pillows and sheets were spread out on a soft bed, and a table carved from alabaster held perfumes and incense. A bottle of mead was by the bed, and Kasret slipped it into his bag, while Sif and Sharlot looked over the items on the table. While the table itself looked incredibly valuable, it didn't seem to hold any hidden wonders. They spotted the back of a different secret door on the opposite side of the room, and proceeded through.

In the new room, they saw three different exits, two leading up and one staying at the same level. Sif sent the arcane eye out to search some more, starting with the level tunnel. Some strange tracks were found that direction, and the party decided to investigate. The tracks led to what appeared to be a dead end, and the players immediately thought that whomever was placing secret doors had placed another. Before they followed, however, Durdeg noticed that the tracks seemed a little off. Some of the strides were a touch too long, and at one point a print was backwards. They approached cautiously, searching for what might be waiting for them.

Kasret stepped into the passage that led to the dead end, and spotted a ledge above. Durdeg followed closely, while the rest gathered behind. Kasret pulled himself up, and as he did, the things they thought were rocks cracked open, revealing four gricks unfurling their tentacles and preparing to attack. Kasret dropped back down quickly and readied his crossbow, while Durdeg summoned his thorny whip and the rest readied their ranged attacks. The gricks fought hard, but were completely overmatched. Little Monty, the beastie that had hatched from Kasret's "dragon" egg, breathed out a cloud in their direction, and two of them passed out. Durdeg dragged another from the ledge, and they quickly dispatched it. Both Kasret and Durdeg had a few of the tentacles make contact, and even were bitten once or twice, but between their close up work and the hail of arrows from everyone else, the creatures were swiftly dispatched.

Sif began to send the eye farther away, while Durdeg looked for a door. He eventually gave up, as he concluded that it was never a path, just a set of prints to lure people to be food for the gricks. Sif's eye explored down the underground river, finding a path high above the water that eventually ended at a ladder leading down to the riverbank. She recalled the eye, and they returned to the room by the boudoir to check out the other passages.

Through the first passage, they found a staging room for the thieves, with a stash of low quality weapons and armor and a place to rest and watch for approaching enemies. They also noted a fiber of red cloth that matched what they remembered of the sashes worn by the Band of the Crimson Mantle. Having gone up to get here, they were comfortable with the idea that the other adventurers had come through here before passing farther downward. They decided to check the other path, rather than move forward.

At the top of this slope, they found the back of another secret doorway. The doorway opened easily, and they looked out to see that it was carved into the side of a cavern wall, just above the surface of a rushing river. At the edge of his darkvision, Durdeg could just make out a body laying on the ground across the river. Carta probed at the bottom of the river, and they found that there was a path just an inch underwater that would let them cross without danger. They all jumped across to the path, and made their way to dry land.

The body laying on the ground was similar to the thieves they had encountered before, with the exception of his head lying several feet away from the rest of the body. Near the body, a trail of blood droplets began, leading out of the cavern and down a tunnel into the darkness. They followed the path of whatever had been dripping blood, and eventually came to a chamber off the tunnel. As they first peeked into the room, they saw piles of bodies, stacked up, and began to hear the sound of children laughing and jaunty but dissonant music. The combination quickly brought on a sense of dread, and the party entered the chamber cautiously.

They crept into the room, and the members of the party spread out. Sif found the source of the music and laughter - two boxes, similar in size to a jack in the box. There was no clear place that the noise was coming from, but it was definitely coming from the boxes. She picked them up and brought them together to study, while the others continued to look around the room. As the music appeared to be winding down, an imposing figure suddenly appeared in the center of the room. Clad in plate armor that was blackened by soot and spattered with blood, he wore a helmet in the shape of a demon's head. A wave of fear poured from him, and the party steeled themselves against it.

As the group turned to face the threat, he looked at Carta, and cursed the name of Adalci. At that moment, the music from the boxes suddenly stopped, and the lids popped open. Thick, dark fog poured quickly from the boxes, and as it filled the room, all light and sound was cut off. Even the beings with darkvision were blinded, and they began to flail about the room attempting to hit their foe. As they did, they felt movement coming from the piles of bodies - the dead were rising, and stumbling in the dark against the heroes. As they surrounded Sif, she fumbled for her extradimensional haversack, hoping that she could get rid of the boxes without ripping a hole in the bag. Holding her breath, she dropped them into the bag.

As soon as she closed the bag, sound returned to everyone. It was still dark, but the darkness was no longer magical, but rather just the thick fog that filled the room. With the powerful lights held by both Sif and Durdeg, there was just enough light for everyone to make out the enemy. The blackguard had moved, attempting to close in on Carta, and was now next to Sharlot. Ten of the bodies had risen as the living dead, and were some were beginning to surround Sif while the others surrounded Carta and Sharlot. The blackguard assaulted Sharlot, dealing massive damage with his blackened sword. Durdeg hit the man with faerie fire, making him stand out in the fog and allowing everyone to be able to focus on him. Sif summoned sparkling lights that hypnotized several of the zombies near her, while Kasret fired repeated bolts into the group. As the active zombies near her fell, she was able to get into the battle with the others.

A single zombie was a putrid green, with a bloated torso and a stench more foul than the others. A tear appeared in its torso, and the belly deflated as a gas spread from them. The heroes began to choke on it, and a few felt weak from the toxic gas. It was also particularly resilient, standing up to several blows from Carta before he was able to put it down and focus on the blackguard. Sharlot scrambled, trying desperately to stay alive, using her skills to insult and distract the blackguard to try to avoid any damage. Dobra, standing just outside the fog, shot arrow after arrow at the man, not inflicting much damage but adding to the distraction. Durdeg moved in, killing zombies as he closed to help Sharlot. The blackguard finally knocked Sharlot down and out of the fight, and charged in on Carta, hatred in his eyes. Durdeg was able to move in behind him, flanking the man and helping both Carta and himself to get through the man's guard. Durdeg's hit him several times with his thunder gauntlets, and Carta was able to strike with his sword and channel the power of Adalci to smite their foe. The blackguard went down, his blood mingling with Sharlot's as they both struggled to stay alive.

As the man went down, Dobra approached him, and delivered a finishing blow. The others tried to call on him to leave the man alive for questioninig, but they were too late. Kasret charged to Sharlot's body, and was able to pour a potion down her throat. Color returned to her face, and the wound she was bleeding from closed. Her eyes fluttered open, and she thanked the bugbear for his help. The fog was starting to dissipate, and the only things left standing beside the heroes were four zombies, staring in fascination at the swirling lights created by Sif. The party quickly ran them through, returning them to the embrace of death.

The group took the time to search for any clues in the room. It became clear as they looked over the remains that this was the man referred to in the letter they found on the way to the Citadel. A search of the room found shattered pieces of armor that had the symbol of Uborum, City of the Gods. Carta said some words of prayer over the remnants, having avenged whichever of his brothers had fallen to the blackguard. The one piece of the armor that was still intact were the gauntlets. He brought them over to rejoin the others. Meanwhile, the others had searched the body of the blackguard. They found some coins that they stashed away, and stripped the armor so that Durdeg could use it in his constructions. Sif cast a spell to reveal magic items, and the gauntlets, the helmet, and a ring on the blackguard's finger all glowed with the light of magic. She then spent the time to identify the gauntlets and the ring, determining that the ring would allow the user to turn invisible and improve their ability to move without being noticed, and the gauntlets were holy relics designed to channel the power of the gods against fiends and the undead. The gauntlets were designed to only be used by a righteous follower of the Gods, which meant that Carta was the only one who could benefit from them. The ring, however, could be used by any of them, and they debated who could put it to the best use.

They quickly narrowed it down to Kasret or Sharlot. Kasret was already the stealthiest member of the group, and the power of the ring could only improve his abilities. However, if he had the ring, it would make him better, but he would still be alone in his ability to sneak up on or around the enemy. Sharlot was lightly armored, and after the current battle, the group could see how her having the ability to escape from danger by becoming invisible could be quite useful. In the end, they decided that giving the ring to Sharlot would be the best choice. She put it on, and focused on it. As she became attuned to the power of the ring, she realized that it came with a catch. The ring hungered for blood, and could only be recharged if the hand it was on was bathed in blood regularly. She attempted to remove it, but could not - she would either need magical help, or live with the ring. For now, at least, she would use its power judiciously, and decide if she would ever attempt to recharge it later.

Report Date
10 Jun 2021

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Cover image: by Chance Rose


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