Shalina clapped her hands in satisfaction. "Good to hear."
She waited while he paid his respects to the tomb before leading them off in the direction that they hadn't explored yet. As usual, she kept an eye out for traps as they went and marked the wall with chalk any time they changed direction so that they could find their way back.
As they travel down, Shalina's chalk comes in handy. There are a maze of tunnels, ending in dead ends or looping back. Without it, they would have been lost in minutes. With it, they steadily work downward. They find a few rooms, but all are long despoiled and looted.
Indeed, as they descend, the signs of graffiti and destruction grow, some of them recent. At one corner Tekk stops the bard and rubs the wall, soot coming away on his fingers.
'Fresh." he remarks, needlessly, "Someone lives here and we are getting close."
Can Shalina learn anything from the graffiti as to who might be living down here?
Shalina silently nods at the paladin. Lowering her voice to a whisper she says, "I'll scout ahead and see who may be around."
Stealth: 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (7) + 10 = 17
She won't go super far without Tekk but she'll go a little ways up and see if there's anything they need to deal with.
Still kobold words and height signs, as it was above
Shalina sneaks around and sees a spiraling staircase, heading down. A warm, flickering light shines up,t he first light they have seen so far. The ruins of an old stone door lay at her feet. Distant, hissing voices sound, but they are very quiet or very far away.
She moves back to where Tekk is waiting. "There's a staircase and I can hear voices, most likely kobolds or something similar. They're probably not expecting anyone down here so we should be able to sneak up on them."
Where was the stone door? Is that at the bottom of the stairs or the top?
Yes Shalina will move towards the light. Can she tell where the stone door came from? Was it previously in front of the stairs? Is there a room off the hallway that I missed?
No, no. Sorry. The door was merely to the staircase. It was scenery, nothing more.
The pair head down the stairs, seeing signs of wanton destruction and vandalism. Shalina sees Tekk shake his head sadly a number of times, hands gently rubbing at the old, perfect stonework.
Here and there, they pass rooms, all empty and looted. Twice they pass old pits set in the stairs, bridged with crude blocks and chunks of wood. The kobolds must have bridged them long ago.
At the base, is a shattered, old door hanging from one hinge. Peeking around it reveals a large, cavernous room, lit with magical lanterns and a few fires. Inside are kobolds, nearly three dozen, arguing with each other, loudly.
Can Shalina tell what is being argued about? I assume that they're speaking draconic?
The argument seems to be religious in nature. Two main factions are divided up. One, larger has their backs to the staircase, and is shaking fists and waving spears.
The other end of the room is piled with gold, jewels and chests of various types. The loot of centuries is piled here, with careless abandon. Against the far wall is a old iron door, pitted with age but very solid and massive.
In front of it are a few kobolds, each with staffs and elaborate ornamental clothing. At the head is a clever looking lizard with an item hanging around his neck that appears to be the very object Shalina is searching for!
The argument seems to revolve around a dragon that lives behind the door.
Shalina ducks back from the doorway and whispers in Tekk's ear. "How do you feel about fighting about thirty kobolds and possibly a dragon? Or we could wait a bit and see if they end up fighting each other and thin out the numbers for us. They seem to believe that there is a dragon locked behind that door at the far end and are arguing about it. Good news is that I found the item I'm looking for...one of the lizards is wearing it."
If Tekk's up for the fight, Shalina will ready her crossbow.
Eschewing the diplomatic options? As a honest GM, I have to say fighting all of them would end....poorly unless you got some skills you haven't shown off yet,lol! Best answer is not always charge in, swords hacking. But as a bard, you know that.
Tekk rasies an eyebrow. "Thirty of them. Versus two of us? Did that bracelet drive you made, perhaps? We'd never get out alive. Not 30. Even if they are kobolds." He shakes his head. "Not to mention a dragon?"
Shalina smiles. "Just testing you to see if you had any limits to where you'd follow me. I'll listen to see if I can get more specifics as to why they're arguing. Maybe I can align my other talents with one faction over the other."
She moves back towards the door and listens again to see if she can determine why they're fighting over the dragon.
"It is a test!" the kobold with the staff says, some sort of priest. "We have had these in our past. The old legends!"
'Bah!" the other group says, dismissively. "Is it? Or are you just hiding the truth. Yous aid after we kicked out the others, the dragon would speak. Has it?"
The priest looks worried, from his few allies to the rest. His eyes squint int he darkness, facing directly at Shalina but obviously not seeing her in the shadows.
'Who are you to question the mighty dragon? Who gives us such gifts and lets us lounge on his wealth?"
It goes on for some time in this vein. It seems to be an ongoing debate.
Does Shalina recognize or know of any of these legends they speak of? It would be helpful rather than her just bluffing her way through.
profession,archaeologist: 1d20 + 9 ⇒ (9) + 9 = 18
knowledge,history: 1d20 + 9 ⇒ (12) + 9 = 21
Knowledge,religion: 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (3) + 4 = 7
Or any other roll you'd have her do that I didn't think of
She doesn't, it appears to be a local issue, but a general one among kobolds. However, she does know the creatures hold dragons int he highest regard and are often the leaders of such clans. A dragon is the only way for kobolds to truly win against other humanoids. Lacking a dragon is dangerous affair for them to be in.
Here goes nothing...
Stepping into doorway, Shalina clears her throat and asks in draconic, "Can I be of service? I am good with locks and I am good with legends."
Do any of them look familiar? Like those that were near the oasis?
diplomacy: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (20) + 2 = 22
How could I not have diplomacy? I thought I had had that. They love me!
Shalina hears Tekk gasp behind her, but he stays hidden.
The room becomes utterly silent as the bard steps into the old treasure vault. None of the koblods look familiar, but they look much the same. Relatives and siblings. They don't look as thin and careworn though.
"Who..who are you?" the priest says, totally at sea.
Shalina goes for the 'full guts' approach. I love it.
The bard gives the room a bow. "My name is Shalina Sekh-at and I travel around exploring ruins and collecting stories and learning about different cultures."
"I'm no intruder. I'm here because I've heard about your dragon and how it was treated so poorly by the Pharaoh who is buried in this tomb. The services I offer depends on what you are needing.".
'We don't need anything." the priest snaps, waving his staff at Shalina. 'This our home, for countless generations. Who are you to invade here? You will make our lord and master angry, coming to steal his gold!"
The other kobolds seem unmoved though and a few stare at Shalina calculatingly. They do seem to wish for the bard to make the first move, however.
"I have not come to steal any gold, especially from a dragon. However, if that was my intent then you would have never known I was here and I would have waited until you were asleep. Judging from the argument that was happening when I arrived, it sounded like you're having some difficulty with freeing or awakening your dragon. Perhaps I can help with that?"
Shalina continued to try and buy some time as she considered how to get the amulet from the priest's neck without having to fight a hoard of kobolds.
The leader kobold shakes his head, "Awakening? Our dragon is as strong and potent as ever. He merely only consults with the highest classes, his most devout followers. Do not doubt him. Now, seize her! Perhaps we can offer her to the dragon and he shall reveal himself."
Only a few of the kobolds move toward her, at a relaxed pace. the one who argued the most eyes her openly, as if waiting for her to say something.
"There's no need to seize me because I'm not hostile. I would love to talk with your leader. Let the dragon decide if I am friend or foe."
The arguing kobolds grin widely and one of them says, 'Yeah, let the dragon decide!"
The chant is taken up by the crowd. The priest looks uncomfortable but his voice is lost in the uproar. Finally, he raises his staff and a loud bang echoes from it, along with a green flash. The other kobolds stop, frozen for a moment in surprise.
The priest grandly turns tot he iron door and waves his staff.
'Oh, mighty guardian and protector, answer our calls for your judgement. His voice raises in pitch. 'heed our prayers and come to our aid in these troubled times!"
There is utter silence after the words finish. All the kobolds stare at the door, waiting. Shalina can hear Tekk breathing hard, still hidden.
Suddenly, a loud voice bellows, rattling the cavern.
"Who awakens me from my slumber of long ages?" The voice is deep, rich, with the weight of centuries behind it. 'Why do my people cry out for judgement?"
The priest's voice is low and soft. 'We humbly ask you to judge this outsider, my lord and master."
"She is a vile intruder and should be killed. My will is made known!" the deep voice booms, shaking the door.
Will Save and Spellcraft Please
spellcraft: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (16) + 7 = 23
will: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (5) + 5 = 10
Did I have to make both of the rolls or just one of them?
Shalina has her doubts that the voice is real.
I will post more once you confirm whether she can tell the voice is fake...
Shalina's musical laugh fills the cavern - not a mocking laugh but a true laugh of delight. "That's amazing - creating such a large voice out of nothing. Do you do that with your staff? Is that what the flash of green light was for? I'm always interested in how others cast magic...but enough about you. When do I get to meet the real dragon?"
Am I supposed to be making more rolls? I assume you'll tell me if I do. I thought it was 'or' for the rolls but I thought you had asked for them both so I wasn't sure if I needed to make them both. It's all good :)
If they all turn hostile, Shalina will cast invisibility and take off.
No, you are good with rolling. Only if you want to use a new skill for something.
Shalina's laugh pops the atmosphere of dread and awe like a needle bursting a balloon. There is a moment of silence then an angry buzz starts in the arguing kobolds.
The priest, looking scared, waves his staff. "How dare tyou impugn the name of our god?" he tries to thunder, but the babble of competeing voices robs the impact. Opening his mouth in a snarl he points the staff at Shalina.
"Die, intruder!" There is a wash of light and suddenly a fire-breathing hellhound is standing in front of Shalina, dripping froth for the muzzle.
The other kobolds shout and cower in terror but do not join in the fight, instead watching to see if Shalina runs or stays.
"Flee, filthy human." the voice of the 'dragon' bellows, filling the chamber. 'And leave the People of the Dragon."
Feel free to call Tekk if you think it might help
I'm assuming the hellhound is also an illusion? Does Shalina need to roll to disbelieve? Just wondering how to react here. I was hoping to leave Tekk hidden because if he comes in armed then we'll probably end up fighting and we already determined we shouldn't fight 30 kobolds :)
Shalina is pretty sure that she can avoid fighting the kobolds since they seem hesitant to wield weapons in the cavern; however, she isn't so sure about the hellhound that has just appeared. If it is indeed real then there is little point of turning invisible since it could easily sniff her out.
Shalina neither flees nor stays. She begins to back up slowly towards the entrance. "I will leave and you can all get back to your argument that I interrupted. Good luck with your dragon."
She keeps her eyes on them all to see if they intend to follow, especially the hellhound. Really she only needs to get the item off the kobold who she's pretty sure hates her at the moment. Stealth may be the best option for that later. They had to sleep sometime after all.
The other kobolds look disappointed as Shalina moves back toward the door. The hellhound advances but slowly, keeping the same distance. the priest cackles and waves his staff.
"Quake in fear before the power of the dragon-born!" he shouts, his Draconic rich and powerful now.
"What is going on out there?" Tekk says quietly, and Shalina can hear him being closer.
A mutter of disapproval waves through the assembled crowd at the hellhound and a few look ready to speak. But the growling beast silences them, as well as the memory of the booming dragon voice.
"I wouldn't say I'm quaking in fear," Shalina muttered but figured she had pressed her luck enough with the kobold priest.
Shalina holds her hand behind her back and waves Tekk back into the shadows as she watches to see if any of the kobolds in the crowd would once again question the priest. She also wanted to make sure that she was going to be allowed to go.
She moves into the shadows with Tekk and whispers, "The priest has the item I need. They're arguing about a dragon. I don't think the priest can deliver the dragon he's promised and the others are getting restless. He adamantly dismissed my offer to help. Oh, and there's a hellhound."
She continues to whisper, "They'll probably be on guard now but the priest has to sleep sometime. When he does, I'll sneak in and get the item I need. Then we leave."
"Hiding would be wise. If they can't find me then they'll assume I left. That will make sneaking back in easier."
Is there somewhere close that we can hide? Otherwise, the only other place Shalina can think of is the burial tomb.
Shalina backtracks their route they had taken down the staircase and finds a room that doesn't appear to be highly used which will allow them to hide for the time being.
I just didn't want to try hiding in a room where the kobolds were living or in another room where it was completely empty without anything to hide behind. If we can hide down here, that's good.
Shalina and Tekk retreat to one of the abandoned rooms they found. This one has the remains of a door, many smashed chests and even a few defaced statues to hide among.
Tekk makes some effort to hide them, then settles in. 'Shall I take first watch?" he offers, genially, before sitting down. "So the waiting game? What if the priest rallies them and they hunt us down? We can't fight them all and they live here, we might not be able to hide."
"You are right, we can't fight them all. But I don't think that priest is rallying anyone at the moment. There seems to be dissent and hopefully some doubt has formed about his believe-ability. The priest has been using magic to pretend to be the dragon giving orders to the kobolds. I'm hoping that they'll just assume that I left the pyramid and they don't even know about you."
She settles in behind one of the statues. "What I couldn't tell was how real the hellhound was. If it was real then it was probably summoned and hopefully it'll disappear eventually. But if it stays around, I may not be able to sneak in by being invisible because it may smell me." She gives a small shrug, "I guess we'll find out in a bit after we give them some time to let their guard down."
Tekk nods, "It is a travesty that such a place, built in ancient times for the most holy of purpose is desecrated by them. That the current Pharaoh allows such to happen..." He grumbles for a bit then turns to the dark corridor.
Hours later he shakes Shalina awake. 'We have visitors.": he whispers. "Look sharp."
Outside the door there comes the voice of a kobold. "I know you are in there. We wish to talk, nothing else. Let us in or we shall attack." From the scuffling of feet and breathing, there are a few out there.
"It looks like we'll need to work on our hiding skills," she mutters. Making sure Tekk is still somewhat hidden, she loads her crossbow and cautiously opens the door.
Peering out, she assesses the situation. Seeing that they indeed just want to talk, she opens the door a little wider to let the kobolds in and lowers her weapon. "Come in friends," she says in draconic. "Sorry that I have nothing to offer you to eat or drink but at least it's quiet."
Don't blame Tekk. It was a plot based finding.
A group of say a dozen kobolds are out there, armed by weapons held at ease. Only one, the angry priest-arguer from before, enters. He is unarmed and holds his clawed hands wide.
Shuffling in, he says, "I think we can work together, outsider."
A pause then,"You can prove the priest wrong and the others would believe you. This would free my people from a yoke to a dead god. My question is, what can I give you in return? I know humans like to trade for favors and goods."
She doesn't blame Tekk. That's why she used the word 'we' :)
"I'm glad that you've concluded that we can work together. It's always much better when we all work together. As for my price...let's see." Shalina takes time to consider the priest's question to make it seem like she hadn't already decided on what she'd ask for. She leans toward him with a critical eye. "The amulet you wear seems like a fair price for my help."
I'm hoping I understood correctly in that the angry priest wearing the amulet Shalina needs is the one she's talking to. If not, I'll edit the post.
"I'm glad that you've concluded that we can work together. It's always much better when we all work together. As for my price...let's see." Shalina takes time to consider the question to make it seem like she hadn't already decided on what she'd ask for. She leans toward him.
"The amulet you wear seems like a fair price for my help."
"The amulet that your priest wears seems like a fair price for my help."
"Who doesn't secretly want to meet a dragon? That would definitely be a highlight of my life, provided I survive of course. The other reason is that I find objects for people and someone is interested in it."