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The dark corridor winds around a corner and widens into a long, narrow chamber lined on either side by ancient burial niches. From the light of Res's spell, you can make out crumbling wooden coffins on shelves lining the walls on both sides. Your companions cast long shadows in the light shed by the greatsword, your shadows stretching out before you and falling upon the dusty resting places. The chamber is eerily silent, and the far end is only shadow - well beyond the glow of your light source.
To clarify, there are two doors on the same side of the outer hallway, granting access to neighboring office suites. Hinzackle's was on the left and had weird voices beyond it, but the door is blockaded. You entered the one on the right which was unlocked and unoccupied. That room had a door on the far wall into the clockwork room, so you are still continuing parallel to Hinzackle's suite (this second door was locked but readily picked by Sylvia). Sylvia knows that if you extend yet one door further, you will be in a larger laboratory room that is shared between the suites, so that you could access Hinzackle's office and storeroom from the back.
The surface of the well water appears to shimmer and ripple of its own accord. Peering within, it quickly descends into inky darkness. A rope attached to a pully descends into the depths.
Anuqa readily detects a moderate aura of Abjuration about the well.
Knowledge (Dungeoneering or Engineering) or Intelligence DC 15:
Entering the depths of this crypt, one of you idly remarked that it was remarkable that the crypt was not flooded, given the chapel stood in a swamp. It is possible this well is actually something of an enchanted sump, channeling water out of the rooms so that they are habitable.
Sylvia opens the door to a dimly lit workshop. This back room was evidently annexed by Professor Hinzackle for storage of clockwork parts and partially-finished mechanical creations. Gears, rods, and pistons clutter every available surface. An idle welding torch and other tools of metalwork occupy a bench along one wall. An odd glass globe on a table contains sparking and dancing patterns of electricity, the only source of light in the otherwise dark room.
Another door stands along the far wall, continuing further into the office suite. If these offices are like others in the building that Sylvia is familiar with, the next room would be shared between the two offices, and would link back to Hinzackle's assigned chambers.
You stand in the doorway peering inside. Perception checks, please.
Venturing a look around he corner in the southeastern corridor, Tybalt sees that the rough stone hallway extends about 25 feet and then bends to the right once again. The corridor is dark and there is no sign of anything stirring.
Tybalt sees some very faint muddy footprints in the corridor, headed in both directions, but they are at least a day old.
I hope nobody was really looking forward to slugging it out with that bog mummy. That just didn't seem like a good way to get this moving again.
We may have the badger with us again! Fortunately, Anuqa is still with the party.
To recap: The party is in the festering swamps of Souraigne. You are seeking the ancient relic Harag's Skull, said to be in the possession of the necromancer Monerre. Harag's Skull appears to be of interest to the vampires of the Crimson Court, particularly one by the name of Tetslin, as they relate to a ritual of the Grey Gates.
Seeking out Monerre, you became lost in the swamp when your guide Leclerc the Fishmonger went mad with a parasitic infection which ultimately devoured his brain. The mystical witch-doctor Chickenbone helped you find your way, but also warned you that something was preying upon the swamp natives.
You arrived in the necropolis and sneaked past some zombies with a hide from undead spell, and made your way into a chapel cellar where you are seeking Monerre's lair.
I hope you don't mind - trying to restart this game after 6 months in the middle of combat is going to be needlessly complicated. We are going to assume you destroyed the mummy, because that's what heroes do.
Struck by Leandro's holy wrath, the mummy lets out an unearthly wail as it crumbles into a heap of mud and moldy wrappings. A foul wind suddenly blows through the chamber, carrying upon it the sickly scent of decay.
As quickly as it began, the wind dies and the air grows still. Once again, you can hear the steady drip of foul water from the stone ceiling into the fetid pools on the floor.
A reminder of what the room looks like. On the western wall, the stairs back up to the chapel rise and bend northward. A foul well occupies the northeast corner, while a corridor extends from the southeast corner.
So I didn't realize that this game drifted away on a cliffhanger - Sylvia opening a door. What an opportune way to restart.
Rumor has it the badger may be rejoining us! Smitty can feel free to catch up with the party in a huff, having been told where his companions went by a department secretary. By the way, you foiled a train robbery.
To recap: The party is at the University, seeking Professor Laveness of the Antiquities Department. She is an ancient elf, learned in obscure symbology. You are hoping she can decipher the meaning of a scrap of fabric and some strange diagrams in the possession of the odd aliens you encountered in the cave, by a rift to another dimension.
Unfortunately, Professor Laveness has gone missing, and your new companion Faenor is seeking her as well. Professor Serevil in the Astronomy Department remarked that she had become obsessed with some odd celestial patterns. In Laveness's office, you found bizarre, rather insane correspondence with Professor Hinzackle of the Alchemy Department. According to some correspondence, Hinzackle and Laveness appear to be under the influence of "the speaker", but no other information is available on who they may be referring to.
You have sought out Professor Hinzackle's laboratory in the basement of the Alchemy building, and heard some strange voices from behind the locked door of his office. However, you found the door to the adjoining office unlocked, and have decided to enter that way.
Sylvia pulls open the door to the adjoining office. Abandoned for the last few years, the tiny office has become a place to store crates, empty glassware, and unwanted furniture. Dusty chairs stand stacked in one corner, while a heavily scratched desk sags under the weight of several heavy crates.
The far wall of the small chamber bears another wooden door.
Perception or Survival DC 13:
Given the undisturbed dust upon the floor, it appears no one has been in this room in some time, nor has anyone used the far door.
Indeed, there are many languages being spoken, but it is still a jumble of nonsense.
Sylvia is somewhat familiar with the layout of the offices in this building. The office suites are two rooms, but many would connect to the suite next door as well, as a safety measure for alchemical fires and the like. It is worth noting that the office next door to Hinzackel's bears no nameplate.
That said, you have not tried this door yet, or announced your presence.
As you listen more closely, you can hear many, many voices speaking at once - male and female, some louder, some softer. The voices seem to make no sense. A loud male voice is expounding upon different qualities of darkness, literally enumerating shades of black, while a woman is calling out arithmetic problems and their results. A child's voice recites nursey rhymes while a husky baritone is relating some nautical adventure. There are many others, and each voice seems to be having its own conversation.
Reflex: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (20) + 2 = 22
The gout of flame singes the mummy, but it's soaked wrappings do not burn so easily.
The sheer power of this creature is evident to those of you who are close to it. All within 30 feet must make a DC 16 Will save vs Despair or be paralyzed. This is a fear effect.
The mummy approaches Leandro and swings a gnarled hand at the paladin.
1d20 + 14 ⇒ (18) + 14 = 32
You proceed across the university green to the alchemy building. The hall is deceptively small; Sylvia is aware that many of the laboratories are underground.
Within the narrow corridors of the building, various noxious smells waft from the closed doors on either side of you. You descend two levels to where Professor Hinzackel's office and laboratory has been for many years.
At the base of the stairs, the wooden door to the alchemist's office is closed.
Perception checks, please.
Faenor's papers include more diagrams regarding astronomical phenomena. One of them is accompanied by a note from a Professor Hinzackel:
Sylvia (or any party member who makes a Knowledge Local DC 17 check):
The gnomish Professor Hinzackel is a tenured, if remarkably eccentric, professor of Alchemy at the University. What he would have to do with an intellectual scholar like Laveness is anybody's guess. His expertise is more practical - researching alchemical reagents, and the like. He has a particular fondness for mechanical and clockwork creations. His students regard him as insane, although his discoveries have brought him much notoriety within the field.
Sylvia finds a small journal as well. The professor's daily notes are remarkably terse - often just a sentence or two per day. Recently, there are a few mentions of Professor Hinzackel, to the effect of "Met with Hinzackel again; consulted speaker" and so on. For the most part, it is fairly vague, but the last couple of entries (they end about 3 weeks ago), reflect increasing anxiety:
This does not feel right. When I am with the speaker, all is clear, but sometimes, I can hardly imagine why I would continue this research.
And the last entry:
Confronted Hinzackel. He grew irate. Says the speaker will clarify everything. What frightens is the voice telling me he is right.
I found my map! I was about to redo the dungeon, but now I don't have to.
"The living no longer pass here," the mummy says slowly to Tybalt, its arms raised as it approaches.
Mummy initiative: 1d20 ⇒ 6
Since Jerry wasn't at the last encounter with Goodwin, he may not have the background. Goodwin is a department clerk, not a professor.
Goodwin regards Jerry with curiosity. "Maps indeed," he says suggestively, "So the plot thickens. Of course, of course, I have a spare key here somewhere." He rifles through a desk drawer. "Here it is. Laveness's office is the second on the left."
He then regards Sylvia conspiratorially. "If there's anything good going on, I hope I get to hear about it." His eyes glisten at the potential for good gossip.
Angalia steps carefully down the steps, shrouded in silence broken only by the reverberant dripping. The stairs end and open into a large room of hewn stone with damp moss-covered walls. Tarnished braziers shine their flickering light on a gnarled figure standing motionless by the far wall. The emaciated preserved corpse is propped motionless on the far wall. The effect reminds you of the phenomenon of bog mummification - corpses preserved by long airtight saturation in marshlike conditions.
In one of the far corners is a stagnant well while a passage leads off the far wall.
Sylvia leads the way out with an exuberant "Thank you!" to Professor Serevil. She leads the way down the endless flights of stairs from the Astronomy Tower, across the tree-lined walkways through the campus Green, and back to the Antiquities Department. You walk through the doors of the department just as the cheerful halfling Mr. Goodwin is stuffing half of a scone into his mouth. "Sylvia!" he says with a mouthful of pastry, crumbs tumbling out onto his strained waistcoat, "you've come back, and brought friends I see. Did you learn anything terrible and interesting?" He takes a generous swig of tea to wash down the morsel.
Andrzej, would that be the Crimson Court?
You descend the dank stairs, and the sound of dripping water grows louder, and seems to reverberate off the stone walls in a sour, musical "ping". Fetid pools gather upon the stone steps beneath your feet, but still the dungeon is not flooded, despite being (as you are quite certain) far below the water table of the swamp. As the stairs round a corner, you see a warm flickering glow coming from below, as of a chamber lit by torch or hearth.
Tybalt observes multiple sets of footprints coming through this chamber. All are human-sized, and some were shod in shoes while others walked barefoot. Within the last few days, a set of shoe prints came in this way and left the way the came. The prints stand out because they appear to have been made by a pair of fine shoes worn by a lady.
The stairs at the back of the chamber continue down into darkness and double back on themselves. A faint dripping of water can be heard below.
Anuqa tries to cast, but succeeds only in croaking helplessly. Eliva's arrow strikes true, and the enchanted missile seems to hurt the creature. At that moment, Res and Leandro strike at it with brutal force, and the creature crumbles into a pile of dust.
Perception DC 14:
As the creature crumbles, you notice that a jeweled headband it was wearing lies among the ashes.
The chamber beyond the open door is empty, but the floor is tiled with large slabs of limestone, carved with names and dates. It is apparent that certain persons were interred beneath the floor of the room. As before, much of it is caked with dust, but the footprints continue through the chamber to another set of stairs descending further down.
"Hmm," Professor Serevil muses. "I don't know that I am the right person to approve a search of another professor's office. But, perhaps I could provide a note that you are looking for something of mine. One of my charts, perhaps." He then adds, with a twinkle in his eye, "And what you happen to find while you are looking for the chart... Well that is no business of mine."
Reaching for his quill and ink, he scribbles a note upon a pad, tears off the page, and hands it to you.
Professor Serevil initially looks annoyed by the intrusion, until Professor Laveness is mentioned, at which point he suddenly becomes interested. "I see," the ancient professor says. "I will admit, I find her absence somewhat surprising myself. At first I thought nothing of it, but the more time passes..."
He clears his throat and moves over to a small writing desk against the wall and begins looking through the papers. "We had some notes here..." After a moment he appears to have found what he was looking for.
"When I saw your notes and diagrams there, I could not mistake the similarity to certain notes that Professor Laveness had made during our conversations. Mr. Goodwin did well to send you here - despite himself, I suspect. Laveness was making some inquiries into celestial patterns of a most troubling nature. Her inquiries related to alignments of various dark spaces in the night sky, some of which are visible only with the most sophisticated telescopes available - to which we are fortunate to have access." He pauses and looks troubled. "Her inquiries became more and more urgent - for lack of a better word. She may have a few centuries ahead of her, and astronomy is not a field that demands haste. I found it troubling. Something clearly disturbed her, but I do not know what."
"While I have the charts here from her inquiries, she had much more elaborate notes in her journal. She was looking for my assistance with some of the calculations, and in reading some of the star charts and using the telescope, but how this interacted with the other research she was doing, I do not know. If you could find her other notes, there is no telling what you might find - probably a great deal more than I have here. Perhaps something was left behind in her office."
He looks pained for a moment. "I do hope she is not in any danger. Her father was a dear friend of mine, and her grandfather was one of the first deans to foster the notion that the University should serve all races, and not just the elves. That is a proud lineage, and one that has done a great deal for the entire nation by their efforts."
Tybalt, I moved you to D6. You could not reach D4 with a 5-foot step.
Angalia stabs at the creature, but her dagger simply passes through the hollow shell of bones. Leandro has more success with his glaive, which hacks at the creature, while Anuqa's spell makes it shriek in response.
The crypt thing steps away from its attackers and points a gnarled bony finger at Anuqa, unleashing an ancient curse upon the sorcerer. Anuqa feels his throat begin to fill with dust and ash.
Anuqa must make a DC 15 Fortitude save or be affected by Caster Croak.
At the top of the round, all those who were blinded can see again. However, anyone inside the room must make another DC 15 Fort save. Again, failure means you take 1d6 ⇒ 5 points of fire damage and are blinded for 1 round. The ash is beginning to settle; this is the last round of the effect.
All PCs are up (all inside room roll another Fort save)
Remember to add +1 to hit and damage from Tybalt's inspire courage ability.
You proceed toward the Astronomy tower, a lofty old structured topped with an observatory. It is the tallest building on the campus, and Professor Serevil's office is on the 5th floor, making it a bit of a climb. When you arrive, Serevil is pondering his charts, and does not acknowledge you.
Professor Serevil is a tall man, thin and spry despite his years. His hair, pulled back into a braid, has turned white, but has a lustrous quality to it. Other than a few very fine lines about his eyes, it would be hard for non-elves to imagine this man is over six centuries old.
Ouch. Not a good time to roll a 3. That fails by 5 or more. Therefore...
Angalia begins inspecting the mechanism of the trap, when her eyes suddenly widen as she realizes she has tripped the sensor.
Suddenly, a cloud of ash billows forth from the urns and vaults lining the chamber. It fills the room with hot, stinging charnel dust, which gets in eyes and mouths, stinging them.
Fortitude saves, please, DC 15. Failure means you take 1d6 ⇒ 1 points of fire damage and are blinded for one round. A successful save negates the effect, but you will have to save again next round if you are still in the room. This is a [urlhttp://www.d20pfsrd.com/magic/all-spells/v/veil-of-ash]veil of ash[/url] effect.
I am going to say that Eliva and Anuqa are outside of the area of the effect, still standing beyond the doorway in the storage chamber.
As soon as the trap goes off, the door on the southern wall bursts open and, with no more than faint crackling sound, a skeletal figure appears beside Angalia. It wears tattered robes, which hang wisplike from the dried and dusty bones. Within the skull, two points of purplish light shine from the hollow sockets where once there were eyes, sparkling with malign intelligence.
The foul creature swipes at Angalia with its dusty claws.
1d20 + 10 ⇒ (18) + 10 = 28
All PCs are up
Knowledge (Religion) DC 15:
This being is sometimes known as a crypt thing. They guard places of burial, but are sometimes turned to a more malign purpose. They are typically the preserved remains of spellcasters and sages, and retain some magical abilities, they may vary by individual. Most have some capacity of teleportation, as you witnessed here. Because they are skeletal, piercing and slashing weapons tend to pass through them, unless those weapons are enchanted.