Musami begins dry heaving as he joins Zokama in the larder. The press of bodies coming through behind him forces him to move further into the room, but he is not keen on the idea at all.
Musami pushes himself past Zokama, the bard mere inches from his back as the explorers manage to stoop inside the room and not stand pressed upon the bodies. The floor of the chamber is muddy and soft, the long drainage of blood, bile, and other unwholesome fluids leaking to create a morass of defiled earth which sucks at the soles of their boots, attempting to draw them deeper beneath the earth.
Musami struggles against the grasping hands. He tries to pull his stricken legs from the grasp of the vile ground and the bloody hands and bony fingers grabbing at him, even as he is hampered by his armour.
Escape Artist: 1d20 - 5 ⇒ (11) - 5 = 6
Musami's dry heaves turn to a fit of vomiting as he is sucked deeper into the morass.
Zokama, horrified, reaches out and pulls Musami's head out of the filth. What are you doing? Are you insane? she says, trying to snap him out of whatever suicidal urge has overtaken him.
Turn around, go back. Time to find the others, now!
If he moves out of the room, she follows immediately.
If not, she tries cleaning his face with prestidigitation to see if that helps... maybe he is overwhelmed with the muck. Then she tries slapping him. Then, she'll try singing to calm him down mostly just story stuff here, but she can try distraction and fascinate bardic performances if she thinks that will help.
She'll keep his face up and cleaned with prestidigitation so he can breathe if possible, but if he starts harming her or pulling her into the muck rather than just trying to harm himself and bury himself alive, and she fears for her life, she will retreat and go find the others... but she is very reluctant to do that, since she doesn't want him to die.
GM Roll Will: 1d20 ⇒ 7
GM Roll Strength: 1d20 ⇒ 8
GM Roll Fortirude: 1d20 ⇒ 12
GM Roll Perception: 1d20 ⇒ 12
Zokama realizes Musami is lost in some nightmarish vision and cannot willingly come out of it. She manages to pull his head up momentarily from the sludge, horrified to find the dwarf is not only covered in the putrescence but has actually begun swallowing and vomiting it in his delusional state.
Calling for the others back down the passage she hopes someone can assist her, as her struggles are not breaking his mind clear of whatever has hold of him.
The back of her neck prickles as she tugs at her friend, sensing something malevolent watching the pairs plight, enjoying it immensely.
This is clearly not made for Braggi. He slacks a bit, waiting to see if someone else is staying behind also. "Probably Musami and Zokama don't need any help there, right?" If he's the only one staying behind, though, he'll follow... if his bulk fits the corridors.
When the call for help comes, though, he leaves all reluctance aside and "rushes" in for assistance as best as he can.
Filnefillan looks at Kaaro and Braggi, I am the slightest among us, I suppose I should try to help.
The elf then moves into the slight passage, attempting to squeeze through the tighter places with as little contact with the damp and filthy surfaces as possible.
GM Roll Will: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (13) + 2 = 15
GM Roll Strength: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (18) + 2 = 20
GM Roll Fortitude: 1d20 - 2 ⇒ (12) - 2 = 10
GM Roll Perception: 1d20 ⇒ 19
Zokama hears someone coming back down the winding passageway, hoping they know which way to follow to reach her as she continues to struggle with the dwarf, attempting to keep him from smothering himself to death in the throes of his delusion. She pulls his head out of the muck long enough for her cantrip to clear his face filth and offal, but he again succumbs and dashes it again into the slop. She does notice out of the corner of her eye a shadow move across the far wall, one reacting opposite the angle of the light shining over the room.
Realizing something malevolent is here, she hopes that another of her friends won't be drawn into it as well, and tries to drag the dwarf back through the opening of the room.
Not sure what to roll to try to pull him back. Plain strength check, or would it be a combat maneuver or something?
Strength Check: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (12) + 2 = 14
Her summoned magical defense now gone, Kaaro feels somewhat bereft and underwhelmed...she follows sheepishly behind their earlier experiences herein leading her to defer to their directions. She watches with grim foreboding as Zokama and Musami disappear into the small tunnel, assuring herself she need not go in...
”Zokama! Musami!” she calls, trying to determine if they yet breathe.
Apologies, was away, just got to the forums...
TOMI. NOOOO. I tried, I really did.
Tear roll down his cheeks as Musami continues to struggle in vain against the grasping hands.
Filnefillan follows the sound of Zokama's struggles and the weak calls of Musami's sobbing. He finds Zo+kama pulling vainly at the struggling dwarf and lends what support he can. Strength to Aid: 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (14) + 1 = 15
His aid and that of the dwarf himself is finally enough to allow the small huddle to pull the dwarf clear of the flesh mound and away from whatever malevolence haunts it. It seems to take the dwarf a short time before he realizes he is back with you and not buried deep under the pile of fetid and decomposing villagers, travelers, and itinerant wanderers forever trapped there.
Just a little inside baseball folks: The strength check I was rolling was for Musami's unconscious efforts to resist and save himself, ie aid another. The will was to break free of the haunt, the fort to avoid suffocation, and of course perception for Zokama to sense the entity within the pile.
Musami does not even look back at Zokama as he rushes out through the tight tunnels and out into the "main chamber."
He emerges out through the crevices and sees the others. The skin between his beard and eyebrows is pale, almost sickeningly white. All blood has drained from his face. Filth covers his arms, legs, torso and is matted into his beard.
He falls to his knees gasping for breath and retching. His body is shaking as the air rasps in and out.
Zokama casts prestidigitation about a zillion times trying to clean herself off, and wishes she had a nice fireball spell to burn the whole room to ash.
Just trying to think of ways to clear the room... would a rat swarm help since there is plenty of refuse to eat, or would the rats instantly come after us? Have spark and acid splash, but no fire spells. There is a scroll of burning hands on our loot list... could I use it even though it isn't on the Bard spell list? I also have summon minor monster if there are any carrion eaters of the correct size to fit that spell. ... Or is the room just supposed to be a hazard, and we should leave?
Umm, fireball in an enclosed space? That is going to create one heck of a backdraft through the entrance tunnels. Not to mention Fil may well get burned to death.
Filnefillan mentions he has the spell, but considers perhaps collapsing the tunnels at a later date if a priest cannot be arranged to put the souls trapped therein to rest.
If the souls of those sacrificed are trapped not in their shells but in the rancid earth of this place, my burning the bodies will only anger them further, and perhaps feed the vile taint that already exists here. But I will follow the direction you all prefer.
Zokama follows Musami and Filnefillan back to the altar chamber. She briefly describes the abattoir and the unholy presence contained within the collection of dead bodies, and the creepy feeling it gave her.
The abattoir is a Haunt, and not likely finished off by burning or sending summoned creatures to devour it. There are easily more than fifty bodies piled in the chamber, with remains for others likely depressed into the soil or tucked into the far corners and clefts as well. The room has been used by the ghouls for at the least a few decades, if not longer. It will likely take something strong in holy magic to eliminate the chamber as a threat, though one well isolated from the world at large.
I am ready to push on. When you are ready drag Musami to his feet and we'll venture forth bravely
Cool, whatever. Let's just go fight the regular bad guys. We obviously can't solve the bigger problems. Someone pick which ones to go after first.
No takers, eh? How about the less dangerous ones first?
I am just RPing. Musami is in a rough way. Yeah, go the less dangerous first
Yep, sounds good.
Zokama tries to calm down and stop obsessively cleaning herself with Prestidigitation, makes sure everyone else is clean of the filth, and then proceeds with the group to the next battle.
Sorry, I'm not RPing, I'm just having too many shifts at the Airport xD Summer here is a crazy season.
Braggi grunts. "We'll have to deal with all of them one day or another, anyway, so..."
He follows the rest to behead ayone, anywhere, anytime. Some heads are gonna roll.
Gathering everyone together you proceed to leave the narrow warrens the ghouls inhabited and back to the stone crypts where you first encountered them. Around the corner from the secret shaft you found in the gaol you find the passageway which led to the other areas of the dungeon you previously explored. It is a few minutes passage until you find yourselves at the intersection whereat you fought and slew a human priest and his reptilian companion.
Like the ghouls and other areas, this passage has succumb to the depredations of the strange mold blossom, the bodies now little more than decomposed waste piles of pale and pasty tubules and slightly iridescent toadstools or garish puffballs in purples and greens. The passage to the south however seems strangely devoid of any mold, pollen, or mildew.
Proceeding in the direction the ghoul priest said would lead below you find a set of stairs going south, down into darkness, from which a new and different foul stench arises. Braggi is immediately reminded of the old fishing wharves and icing houses of his former seaside home. The smell of death mingled with the dampness of the sea.
The stairs descend only a few dozen feet before landing in a rougher passage, not worked as extensively or as well as above. A short passage turns a corner into a larger room, unusual and unexpected.
This new chamber is very cold, and even the most insensitive can tell that the unnatural chill is more from a corruption in the air itself. No mold or fungi appears anywhere about the room. A wide pit in the center dominates the room, its sides slick with moisture. A pulley has been affixed to the ceiling, and a rope descends from it, connected to four more ropes. These in turn are tied to the edge of a 10-foot-wide wooden platform, circular in shape, in four different places to provide stability. A lantern sitting atop a stool in the southwestern corner illuminates the chamber. Scattered about the pit edge are picks and shovels, and a strange four sided statue rests in the corner farthest from the entrance. Against the north wall stands a large, round, flat stone about the diameter of the pit.
Shoved off to the side, clearly dead for sometime yet strangely preserved by the cold and moisture, is a large shelled creature, a deformed and demonic looking lobster like thing, battered, broken, and in places burnt some time ago.
Musami's face falls even more. Another statue? He edges his way to the statue and studies it for 10 feet away.
Perception, shaken: 1d20 + 3 - 2 ⇒ (4) + 3 - 2 = 5
From a distance the statue appears to be a miniature and thus perhaps portable version of the four sided pillar you found in the ghoul warrens.
Each side appears to be carved in bas-relief with figures facing outwards, like the other column, though this piece appears easily a third of the size of the other, and likewise carved wholly from a similar piece of stone.
From the position of the stone it would seem this was hauled up from below rather than brought here by the priests you previously killed. Unlike the rest of the chamber it does not appear to be damp or moist but rather is coated in a thin layer of frost.
Warily, Zokama casts detect magic, and examines the pillar.
Perception: 1d20 + 12 ⇒ (8) + 12 = 20
The statue and surrounding digging implements do not detect as magical. The statuette is actually a rectangular block 3 feet high and 2 feet on a side. Each side has a distinct figure carved into it.
The first side depicts a tall, muscular, bearded man in full plate with unfamiliar flanges and fluting. He wears a cape and holds a wavy-bladed sword. His helmet has a jagged visor resembling a bolt of lightning.
The second side shows a humanoid figure swathed in a flowing robe with long sleeves and a high collar. Covering it's face is a curved featureless plain mask.
The third side presents a thin youth in high boots, doublet, and strange gauntlets of twisting and interlocked design. A hood is drawn tight over the face, covering its head.
The last side of the statuette is of a elderly figure, clothed in a many-pleated robe with a sash. The sash or mantle is covered in strange tiny runes impossible to decipher. The figure's head is cowled, protruding an inch or so from the surface. The shape cradles a scepter in its bony hands.
Zokama sees if she can pick it up, and if it has secret compartments like the bigger one.
Hmm... don't have any other ideas... you guys want to bring it with us, or leave it behind?
Filnefillan suggests leaving it for now, It's sat here for who knows how long, it's not easily transportable, so should be okay a few more hours, while we finish of these cultists, nodding at Braggi.
The elf then goes back to examining the strange Lobster-like corpse shoved into the far corner of the chamber.
Knowledge Check: 1d20 ⇒ 4 Fascinating, that something so massive, so wrong, could thrive in what must have been a very small enclosure.
Zokama agrees, and also takes a look at the corpse, with detect magic up just in case.
Perception: 1d20 + 12 ⇒ (15) + 12 = 27
The corpse is not magical. It appears to have some resemblance to a lobster, though the large pincers are missing, removed postmortem. It gives you a vague, uneasy feeling, like it does not belong in this world. Amidst the rot and bloat you detect a faint whiff of sulfur. Added, the size of the thing being as large as a man may contribute to the unwholesomeness of the scene.
Let us not linger any longer than we need to. I am eager to be done with this place.
There appears to be no other exit from this room, except by the strange platform and shaft, which acts like a crude elevation disk similar to what Musami has experienced in some newer mines. The platform, rope, and pulley all look new. The stonework is well worn and ancient looking. There appears to be maybe four score feet of rope piled on the rim of the shaft and running up through the iron anchored pulley ring and split to tie at four corners of the disk.
The platform can be easily raised or lowered by someone either beside the shaft or on the platform itself. An odd loop and hook rig, similar to a sailing ship, is set along the side of the platform, such that at any point an operator can tie off the rope to the platform so that it no longer moves down.
Using the pulley, a rider can lift or lower the rig down the shaft. Six adults could easily fit on the platform; ten perhaps if tightly crowded aboard. The pulley likely magnifies the user's strength in such endeavors, more lifters enabling heavier loads and vice versa.
Not having a more elaborate breaking mechanism, Musami sees that if the rope is released, the platform would likely fall along with everything
on it, either to the end of the rope if heavily knotted or striking the bottom of the shaft, whichever came first.
The platform is not mechanically balanced, so anyone taking violent or reckless actions on the platform might cause it to tip and plunge loose objects or riders from it's wooden surface.
The shaft appears to extend from the floor of the chamber roughly down fifteen to twenty feet, the exact length partly blocked by a spray of water pouring from a rounded aperture inside at four feet below the southern surface of the shaft. It creates a cold mist inside the tunnel as it falls away into the darkness, greatly obscuring vision.
"Where is this water coming from?" Braggi asks, curious. "We might find good use for it later" he adds, with the idea of sinking the whole place coming back to mind.
Once the rest is done with whatever things they need to do, Braggi puts his sword on his shoulder and wipes his hands. "Ready?"
Um... we're going down that shaft?
Zokama shudders, not so much at what they will find at the end, but at having to get wet. At least she has prestidigitation to dry herself off at the end, but it could make the rope slippery... and were they sure they could get back up?
Are you sure you know how to use that thing?
Knowledge Engineering: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (1) + 7 = 8
Musami climbs onto the platform beside Braggi and grabs the rope below the barbarian's grip. Once everyone is ready he begins to work with Braggi to lower the platform, he even sings a cadence quietly under his breath as he works, all be it a short one.
Kaaro looks askance at the fiendish corpse, her practised eye taking in its many foul details. The statue holds little interest for her as everything here carries significance she is unsure of. When the group prepares to descend she too prepares.
"I guess it is down we go..."
Zokama steps on to the platform, running the words to her Feather Fall spell over and over in her mind, just in case.
Recalling his days with the rigging, Braggi coordinates with Musami and pulls as strong as he can.
"One, two... Heave!"
Str: 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (16) + 4 = 20
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Strength to aid: 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (9) + 4 = 13
Musami's biceps bunch and bulge as he heaves on the rope to help Braggi.
It was arm day at the gym, sorry