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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.
Tybalt, the tracks are made by human-sized shoes. A few sets of male footprints, and one set of woman's footprints.
Angalia Perception with trapfinding: 1d20 + 16 ⇒ (14) + 16 = 30
"Stand back, Tybalt!" Angalia says suddenly. "Look there, around the door. Those markings are runes. If you even approach that door, you will trigger it. You don't even need to be in contact with it." She sighs. "This horrible place..."
Since this is a magic trap, Angalia is the only one who can attempt a Disable Device on it. If it's something you think she should do, someone can roll her check (+12) for her. The DC on magical traps can be fairly high.
In the light of Res's spell, Tybalt can see that the door is old and of poor quality. It is not trapped, but someone went to the trouble of locking it. Given the corroded condition of the lock, it was hardly worth their effort, for Tybalt is able to get it open easily. The door swings inward with a creak.
Beyond it, the door opens into a long chamber lined on either side with countless tiny doors. Periodically, a pedestal bears a stately, ancient urn, as if to clarify the intention of this place. The air is remarkably dry, especially after the considerably humidity of the swampland. Through what means this place remains dry, you do not know, but the air remains still and silent. Dusk and ash are caked generously on the floor, disturbed by many sets of footprints going in both directions. A single door lies near the other end of the chamber.
MAP to give you a sense of the layout.
The bored secretary gives an uninterested look. "I don't keep track of the comings and goings of every student," she says unhelpfully.
At that moment, however, a nearby door opens, and an effete man, clad fastidiously in a tweed jacket and spectacles, steps out to greet you. "Good day, sirs," he says. "I am Professor McPherson. As it happens, I saw Miss Pari not long ago crossing the lawn. She was headed to the Antiquities department. Perhaps you will catch up with her there. If I know Miss Pari, she will no doubt be up to some trouble..."
He is able to tell you how to find the Department of Antiquities.
I am going to advance this a little bit, since Sylvia has not posted.
Sylvia greets her old acquaintance Goodwin and inquires after Professor Laveness.
"Laveness?" Goodwin says, drawing out his response for dramatic effect. It is clear he has some gossip he cannot wait to divulge. "She has not been seen in the department for... what is it... three weeks now? Benedict Glavin has been covering her classes. While Laveness's lectures were always rather dry, I'm not sure Glavin knows what he's talking about. He's only a third year graduate student. It's hard to say whether the students are better off or not."
"At any rate, right now the University is just regarding her absence as a forgivable truancy. You can get away with pretty much anything when you have tenure. Still, I would love to know where she is. What would make the stoic old Laveness run off? What I can tell you is that for a few days before she was last around her office, she was making lengthy visits to Professor Serevil's observatory in the Astronomy wing." He pauses for effect and then adds conspiratorially, "Of course, I would never imply anything by that. Serevil is something like 650 years old. Perish the thought."
Searching the chapel, Tybalt finds an amulet lying among the dusty scraps of cloth where the wight was hiding. Set into the amulet is a polished nugget of amber encasing a strange, prehistoric insect.
Detect Magic plus Spellcraft DC 19:
This item is a swarmbane clasp
Beneath a loose stone in front of the altar, there is also a small rotting pouch which contains a handful of semi-precious stones worth about 500 gp.
You make your way down the narrow stairs. They descend to a landing, and then reverse direction to descend further. They end in a small dusty chamber. While some dim light filters through via the open staircase to the chapel, this small cellar is dark. Vague shapes occupy the darkness before you, looming in the eerie stillness of this dank cellar.
This is a storage room. Crates, boxes, and barrels stand by, some covered by sheets that have not been disturbed in many years. A clear path cuts across to a door to the south.
Sylvia leads the way to the Antiquities department and finds who she is looking for - a portly halfling by the name of Goodwin who serves as a scribe. When you arrive at the department, he is out for his second breakfast, but arrives after a bit of a wait. He enters looking satisfied - in contrast, his waistcoat strains under the pressure of sausages, puddings, and who knows what else.
"Sylvia!" He says delightedly. "So pleased to see you. What brings you here?"
The arrangements made, you head off toward the University. A passing student is able to point you in the direction of the Chemistry and Alchemy department. Stately brick buildings, their faces fringed with verdant ivy, line the brick walkways that crisscross the parklike campus.
When you arrive at the wing a tired-looking secretary regards you coldly. "Good morning," she says without meaning it.
The only door is the one you came through. There is a staircase descending behind the altar; it simply goes down into the floor. Looking down, the stairs descend about 10 feet and then reach a landing where they switch direction. You cannot see past that point.
If you mean instead that you are locking the entrance behind you, that is a wise move.
Are you searching anything within the chapel, or are you going down?
The portly innkeeper keeps a cheerful attitude while he says, "She did, once upon a time. She's no longer with us. Don't worry yourselves, milords; it has been some years and it's not so uncommon to be asked."
He offers to let you leave your things if you need to, and suggests the services of a nearby veterinarian who he thinks may be able to look after Luce if you need a place for her.
Tybalt fails to trip the wight, while Res's sword fails to make contact. While the wight is fending off these attacks, it fails to pay attention to Angalia, who leaps into the fray and skewers the wight with her rapier, piercing it and then slicing open the undead foe. It collapses to the ground, raising a cloud of dust.
It is defeated. Out of combat. You made short work of that guy. I need to make these fights harder ;)
"Good sir, I believe the last time a strange ass lodged here he turned out to be a Member of Parliament." He laughs heartily at his own joke.
"In truth, no I have seen nothing of that description lately, but there are many inns and boarding houses in the village. Travelers come through frequently on account of the University."
He quotes a reasonable rate of 2 silver pieces per night.
Professor McPherson adjust his spectacles absently. "Cosmology, perhaps. Or..." He considers. "Professor Laveness in the antiquities department has been a resource on arcane symbology for the last couple of centuries. She may have insight, but sadly she has not been seen around the campus for the past fortnight or so."
Smitty remarks to the ladies, "I have no use for these bookish academics. Bessie needs greasin'. I hope ye won't mind if I don't go with ye."
I will probably retire Smitty for the time being. I don't want to run him as a GMPC if I don't have to.
You make your way to the university, which is certainly familiar to Sylvia. Stately brick buildings, their faces fringed with verdant ivy, line the brick walkways that crisscross the parklike campus. You head in the direction of the Department of Antiquities, to see if they have any information on the symbols you found.
As you walk under the heavy boughs of the maple trees, fringed with the first tints of autumn, Sylvia sees a familiar face approaching. It is Professor McPherson, a respected professor of alchemical philosophy. He sees you approaching and calls out, "Miss Pari! I did not think to see you here again. Have you resumed your studies?"
Professor McPherson is wearing the same tweed jacket he wears nearly every day. His hair and fingernails are fastidiously groomed, and he fidgets absentmindedly at his buttons. He is an effete and mild-mannered academic, but one that Sylvia never had any particular conflicts with.
The main street of the village does have a small bank, which you can avail yourself of at any time.
You find an inn relatively easily, as visiting academics and students come to Milton with some frequency. You arrive at a wholesome looking inn, under the proprietorship of a heavyset man who seems to sweat constantly, even though it is not hot. Still, he smiles warmly as you enter, and seems to pay no head to Luce.
"Welcome sirs," he says. "If you are looking for lodging you have come to the right place. I hope you will forgive us - it is somewhat early and our rooms have not been prepared yet. Still, if you wish to stay the night, we have rooms to let."
He looks over Jerry's shoulder at the lion. "Will you need help making arrangements for the noble beast?" He smiles and goes on, "We know good folk are doing all manner of research at the University, so it is certainly not the strangest thing we have seen come through the inn."
Foe init: 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (3) + 1 = 4
The undead creature stumbles forward, but is not so quick in its reactions.
All PCs may post at will in any order, since you all go before your enemy.
Knowledge (Religion) DC 15:
The creature is some manner of wight. They spawn more of their kind by slaying the living. Their very touch drains the vitality of mortal souls.
The weather is fairer today than it was yesterday. The village of Milton is a quaint collection of storefronts and row houses, occupied mainly with the support of the University. Tea rooms, tailors, and booksellers line the main thoroughfare, while boarding houses and taverns stand tucked away behind. The cobblestone streets are clean and clear following yesterday's heavy rains.
Where are you headed first? It is mid day.
The evening passes quietly, and the night is mostly quiet at the inn. Some of the visiting students keep odd hours, as students are wont to do.
You expect the others to arrive today. It is morning.
As you approach, you see that there is a stone staircase behind the altar which descends to a lower level. You could not see it from the entrance, as your line of sight was blocked.
Leandro uses the length of his polearm to carefully lift the cloth. The musty sheet rises slowly with the butt of his weapon, and takes some time to reveal its secrets. At length, you make out a small corner of what lies beneath, as a shaft of light from a broken windowpane reveals a withered and rotting finger, which ends in a foul, blackened claw.
The entire shape suddenly springs into motion, as the figure is uncovered in even a tiny amount. The mostly skeletal figure is hunched and gnarled. What remains of its flesh is blackened and withered. It tears forth from the sheet in fit of rage at the disturbance.
Roll initiative, please. Hide from Undead stops working if you touch the creature, and lifting the sheet it is covered with to see what lies under it certainly qualifies in my estimation.
The innkeeper looks somewhat confused by Sylvia's question. "Chanticleer? You mean your packmule? You most certainly cannot bring it inside!" She takes a breath and then smiles broadly. "He will be well looked-after at Mr. Gelsen's stables. He's been tending horses and livestock for going on three score years."
So, the Overland group is chronologically ahead of you. What do you plan to do with the couple of hours remaining in the day?
The desecrate effect continues in here. You also detect a faint aura of abjuration somewhere behind the altar.
You proceed into the chapel. The shape before the altar is still indistinct, covered as it is by an old, dusty sheet. The altar itself is unmarked and undecorated, as if dedicated to no god at all - an abandoned shrine to the absence of faith.
The innkeeper speaks quickly, so as not to lose your interest. "There's another room up on top, and I believe a third is opening tomorrow. I'm sure we can accommodate you all during your stay." As if to stave off further argument, she speaks as if the matter is settled. "We serve warm breakfast each morning, and there's always fresh bread and tea in the evening. Let me show you to the rooms."
Having settled the bill at the inn, you set off at speed toward the University. The weather is certainly fairer than the day before.
I might have to move a little bit slowly, because you're chronologically ahead of the other group and about to get there. Feel free to dawdle.
You inspect the lock carefully, and see that it is fitted with a trap for those not using the proper key. It seems that some type of blade would come through a crack in the door, if you were not careful.
Noting the trap, however, you can see clearly how to disengage it while proceeding to pick the lock. The door opens with a satisfying creak.
Tybalt fiddles about with the lock for a bit, but Res sees nothing stir within the chapel. Finally satisfied, Tybalt is able to open the door, and it pushes open with a heavy groan.
Within, the ruined chapel lies under dust, and you are no closer to identifying the form by the altar than you were before.
While Sylvia dithers in the doorway, a young man who appears to be hastily dressed and more-or-less ungroomed bustles out of the inn while an old woman bellows behind him, "I'd have more patience for your shenanigans if you paid your lodging on time! Be gone with ye!" The woman appears in the doorway to see that he has truly gone. Seeing you all standing outside, she brushes some stray hairs back in the general direction of the bun on the crown of her head.
"I'm sorry you had to witness that. Are you lot looking for lodging? I've just had a room open up."
The name of the village is 4 posts above your question. Chesterbridge. You've also traveled a bit since Elise's cottage, so it's not exactly up the road. Still, gossip travels...
It is not easy to find anyone interested in talking about the strange lady. Decent folk don't trust her, but regard her as an unsavory figure and seducer of men. One particularly gossipy housewife gladly tells the tale of how a man named Gregory left his family for that slattern of a woman, and now mothers and wives do not let their menfolk go anywhere near the place.
Peering through the window, Res sees a great many of the spider webs Tybalt predicted. The chapel is dim, but with what little light which manages to enter, he can make out dusty pews and a ruined iron chandelier which lies smitten upon the floor. An unidentifiable shape lies under a sheet close to what must be the altar, although Res can make out little of that area of the chapel.
Examining the door, Tybalt is fairly certain that he will not be disappointed at the creak it will generate when opened. As suspected, however, it is locked. The lock is a ponderous old-fashioned affair, however, and he suspects it may be within his talents to open.
You said you were checking for traps, then unlocking. That will need a Perception check and Disable Device.
You are able to find lodging at a small bed & breakfast. Luce gets more than few alarmed looks, but the villagers are for the most part quite warm to strangers. While it may be a provincial place, the folk are not close-minded.
You lodge for the night and awaken to the smell of bacon and fresh eggs. A spread has been laid out of these, plus the usual muffins, tomatoes, and blood pudding.