Once you’ve passed the rubble, the cave opens up into a long passage as wide as a city boulevard. The floor is scattered with masonry loosened by the years.
“On the upside”, Robyn remarks, “At least it’s warmer in here.”
The passage continues into the pitch black passage.
(players reach main chamber)
The passage drops off sharply in front of you into a pit. You cannot see in what light you’ve cast how wide or deep the pit is.
(players illuminate the dropoff)
You can see rubble below and what looks to be scattered pieces of a switchback staircase jutting out from the cliffside. The cliff descends for at least 50 stories.
(elves get spot checks, dc 20)
(Success) You spot depressions and glints of metal between the stone bricks in the wall to your right. Clear indicators of a hidden mechanism.
(investigate) Further inspection indicates that the mechanism is a hidden door, you cannot determine what lies on the other side. The mechanism can be activated by manipulating the cogs between the bricks.
(players open the door)
The room on the other side looks like an armory. Racks of battleaxes, pikes and shields line the walls. The racks are covered in cobwebs, but the weapons look as though they haven’t aged a day. A row of three locked trunks are against the opposite wall and there is a lever on either side of the entrance. Each lever has a different rune etched beside it in the stone.
(players ask Bakario to check the runes)
Bakario takes a moment to look and says "The one on the left is the Rune for “Daylight”, the other translates to ‘Exit’, though I’m unsure whether it means the door we came through or the way to the surface."
(players look at the chests)
(left trunk contains a Mithril breastplate)
(center trunk contains an assortment of mundane weapons, though some are inlaid with expensive looking gems)
(players open chest on the right)
(spot DC 25: The trunk, though constructed of metal, appears strangely organic in nature. Rows of teeth are subtly etched in either side of the opening.
You attempt to open the trunk only to have it attempt to bite you (surprise round for mimic)
combat with mimic
(players exit room after pulling ‘daylight lever’)
You emerge from the room to see a massive array of luminescent stones hanging from and clinging to the ceiling. The area the cliff descended into has been partially illuminated, though some of it is still shrouded in darkness.
The chamber is massive, easily a size rivaling most cities. In it, you can see the ruins of a city that has long since been abandoned. Walls and entire buildings have collapsed and among the rubble-strewn streets below, you can see an ecosystem of aberrant creatures that you’ve never even heard rumored. Some of them look predatory in nature, all of them look alien.
(if players take note) Most of the creatures are just wandering, but some of them seem to be moving in orderly patterns. You are too high up to make out specific features, although enormous eyes, tentacles and gaping maws of sharp teeth are common.
You can also see a clearer picture of the dropoff. It’s at least 500 feet down, punctuated by short stretches of staircase jutting out of the rock.
(the largest platforms below are large enough to fit 7 people, real distance 520 feet)
(if the subject comes up)
Reilly says: “We’ve smashed her army, but Kartha is still down there. Our commandos can make it to the bottom this way if they have to, but it will take time we don’t have. If Kartha gets to the artifact first, we’re done. We can cover the exit or we can follow you as backup, but you need to go now.”
(DC 15 climb checks, DC 10 with a successful ‘use rope’ check)
(players reach second platform)
You’re just under 20 stories above the bottom of the rock face, standing on the only available platform. As you shift to make room for Enfys on the platform, the masonry underfoot begins to separate and stone blocks start falling off the edge.
(Lorraine and Christine)
You feel the stone beneath your feet begin to give way. You can make one standard action before you begin to fall. A move action requires a successful reflex save.
(players make it to the ground)
The city looks no different up close, save that you can see details like broken street lamps, windows smashed in and doors rotting away. Most of the doors are made of some kind of organic matter, similar to wood. Some are reinforced by rusting iron shims. Most of the strange creatures seem to be staying away from the edges of the city, but you hear the occasional throaty chirp or inhuman growl close by. From where you are you cannot see any creatures.
Enfys points to your left and says:
“I had Bakario make a rough map of the streets. That house over there looks intact. Let’s take shelter in there while we figure out our next move.”
(players take shelter)
The house was once a two-story structure, but the walls on the second floor have almost entirely caved in. a collapsed wall covers the staircase like a ceiling.
You first enter the living room, which appears to double as a dining space. The room has an empty fireplace and a large stone pew with a cushion that has long disintegrated into scraps of moldy cloth. Across from the fireplace are two sconses mounted on the wall with piles of wax. There is a dining table in the center that is set for a meal, albeit with some of the dishes and utensils knocked on the floor. A bottle of wine sits on the table next to a rusting corkscew. The table is crowded with pools of melted wax from the chandelier above that have since hardened.
Enfys moves an old plate and fork aside and blows off some of the dust to make room for Bakario’s map.
Bakario is halfway across the room examining scrolls, tablets and books on a shelf.
(players may search the house)
(kitchen) Enfys leaves the map and joins you. She lights a torch and mounts it in one of the sconses on the wall. The kitchen is small, but well equipped. A ceramic oven sits open with a lightly charred bone lying on a roasting rack, the marrow eaten away. There is also a lightly rusted iron stove with a pot lying on the floor next to it. All the food that may have been there is gone. You can also see a locked trapdoor in the far corner.
(open lock) The lock has rusted beyond the point of tumbler manipulation
(open lock result 15 or higher) Age and rust has weakened the locking point enough that the lock could be forced open with enough leverage.
(players open trapdoor) The room below you, illuminated by the kitchen’s light appears to be a larder. It’s hard to know for sure from the entryway, though.
(players enter larder) The shelves of the larder are empty. In the corner, lying on the stone floor, are two orcish skeletons huddled together. One adult, one child. The adult is still holding a rusted sword. Strewn about the floor are wax wrappings of cheese wheels, paper bread wrappers and other scraps. There is a note written on one of the bread wrappers. You can’t read the text, but you recognize the Orcish characters.
(players go back to the living room)
You return to find Bakario shackled by one wrist to the bench next to the fireplace. He’s trying to form words, but no sound is coming out. He’s frantically pointing at the bookshelf.
(players check the bookshelf) Bakario has removed several books and there is a key on the top shelf.
(players pick lock on shackles (dc 20))
The shackle on Bakario’s wrist falls off and clatters on the floor. Bakario says: “there’s a key on the table, but that works, too”
(players break shackles)
One of the links on the chain snaps and
(players unshackle Bakario)
Bakario says: "Thanks, those shackles had an enchantment that kept me quiet. I’ve known colleagues to use similar enchantments on creature’s whose utterances… ach, nevermind. Listen, Kartha was just here. She paralyzed me by magic before I even noticed her and shackled me to the bench. She told me to deliver a message to you. She said there are forces here that are more evil than you can imagine. She said that the creatures who drove out the people who built this place still here. She said something or someone appears to be giving them commands and that she wants to put an end to them. She said she was going to the large keep in the Center of the city. You have more experience with her than I do, but for what it’s worth, I think she was telling the truth.
(players decide next move, anything said by mind-chat is heard by ilithids.)
The keep Kartha traveled to is about 2 miles away as the crow flies.
The creatures you’ve seen so far are unlike anything you have ever encountered, there is no way to know their exact capabilities (allow dungeoneering check).
(Knowledge dungeoneering dc 20)
The environment has been pitch black for an extended period of time, so the creatures must either have darkvision or another means of perception adequate for navigating.
Some of them have discernable mouths and sharp teeth, even from a distance, so either they eat each-other or there must be some source of meat around.
(players head toward keep)
If your presence has been detected, the creatures seem to be keeping their distance deliberately. You can hear noises from the aberrant creatures in the background.
(ask players: Are there any preparations you would like to make? Any spells to cast? What is your formation? What is your pace?)
You pass rows of houses and tenements for several blocks. The street eventually opens up into a market place, arrayed with small ruined buildings and market stalls.What few stalls are still standing have merchandise and gold coins laid out on them as if the merchants had simply gone to grab a ledger, albeit crusted over by spiderwebs in varying states of age.
(Potential Drider encounter, if players try to pick up gold)
You push the webs out of the way and pick up a handful of gold coins. As you put them in your pouch, you hear a sort of malicious moaning coming from one of the nearby buildings. A emaciated head and torso of an elf crest over the roof of the building, followed shortly after by a spider’s thorax and abdomen, with eight spiny legs. The abomination prepares to pounce. (normal initiative)
(players defeat creature)
The abomination falls dead with a screech that is eerily human, as though it experienced a moment of awareness before death. Enfys approaches to confirm that it’s dead. “Hey,” She says, “Come take a look at this.”
Enfys points out an array of old scars on the elven part of the creature’s body. Some of them seem to indicate torture, though others are etched in arcane symbols.
Enfys runs her dagger across the creature’s throat, bisecting the airway and the carotid arteries. She says to you: “Go ahead and pick up anything useful you can carry. I need to examine this beast.”
Enfys, up to her elbows in blood, says: "Sorry about the mess, but I had to be sure. The humanoid torso is no elf, at least not like I’ve seen. The liver is much too large, the vasculature is all wrong and it has two extra vertebrae. I can also say for certain that this creature was once entirely humanoid, though I doubt it was of the same elven blood we know.
(players continue to keep)
After another hour of walking, the streets open up again to a public square with a dry and ruined fountain in the center. At the opposite end of the square is a 4-story keep with a massive staircase leading to a set of double doors. The 3rd and 4th floors both have balconies overlooking the square
(players approach the keep)
You see a figure cresting the balcony overlooking the square. It is humanoid, tall and gaunt, dressed in a black robe with tight sleeves. A hood conceals their face. They don’t speak, but you can hear them by some form of telepathy. The voice is eerily calm and shows no sign of emotion.
(if players used mind chat underground)
“I could not help but overhear your conversation. You seek our prize. That which will carry us into your realm unhindered. It matters not.”
(if players spoke of their army over mind-chat)
“We have dispatched a sortie to eliminate your forces. By now they will have sprung an ambush. Help will not be arriving.”
(regardless of mind-chat subject matter)
“You will die here. Buried in the dirt like all who thought to challenge us.”
(if players did not use mind chat)
You cannot hide the magic which pervades you. It will be your undoing. Tell me, what is it you seek which compels you to tread on the bones of a dead people, knowing you oppose harbingers to the death of civilizations?
(players say “artifact”)
“Material ends? Typical. You will die here. Buried in the dirt like all who thought to challenge us.”
(players say they don’t know)
“Creatures of the mundane flailing their curiosity at the darkness. I suppose it’s in your nature. Nevertheless, you will die here. Buried in the dirt like all who thought to challenge us.”
The figure casually waves it’s hand as it walks back inside the building. Two creatures leap out of a portal in the fountain and lunge (show picture)
combat with Otyughs
The second creature succumbs to its’ wounds and crumples to the worn cobblestone. There is no sign of the figure that apparently sent them.
(players enter keep)
(listen DC 14)
You can hear the signs of a fight going on inside the keep just beyond the door. One or both of the combatants is using evocation magic.
(players enter mid fight)
You see Kartha holding a spear and fighting an aberrant creature. The creature is a disembodied head with human-ish features and reptilian skin. Its mouth contains several rows of needle-like teeth and many eyes extend from its scalp on short, thin tentacles.
Kartha shouts: “Help me finish this thing off!”
(players kill creature)
The beast falls from the air like a stone and hits the stone tile floor hard. You hear the telltale sign of a skull cracking and blood begins to pool around its remains.
(players enter after fight ends)
You see an aberrant creature lying dead on the ground. The creature is a disembodied head with human-ish features and reptilian skin. Its mouth contains several rows of needle-like teeth and many eyes extend from its scalp on short, thin tentacles. It has a spear sticking out of its left eye. Kartha is holding the spear.
(fight is over)
Kartha takes a deep breath and says “I think we need to talk”
(out of character)
“See you on Thursday”