As they approach the left passageway, they see that it’s a closed portcullis and beyond that is a room with dusty skeletons littering the floor… a floor that is stained with blood! The skeletons aren’t walking around, waving rusty swords at them this time though, so it’s a marked improvement over the last room they were in. Sieglinde tests the bars and finds that they are, indeed, made of metal. She also realizes that they are way too heavy for her to lift. Once again, it’s Sophosticles to the rescue with his big manly fighter’s arms. He’s able to ease the gate up in its track, and as it gets to about the half-way point, the door on the opposite side of the room opens!
The party can see, through the bars of the portcullis, two human males poke their head through the open door. They’re both wearing leather armor and a bright yellow and black checkerboard cloth on their head, not unlike a pirate might wear. Before they can fully open the door and enter the room, they lock eyes with the party on the other side. The one in front says, “Whoops!” just before they both disappear and the door slams shut.
Sophosticles continues to lift the gate and finds that it catches in some sort of geared, counterweighted mechanism when it reaches the top. Feeling secure that it will stay up, he lets go and the party enters the room. Investigating the skeletons, they find nothing of value. As Sophosticles starts to investigate the walls, a heavy wind whips up a small cyclone in the room, blowing the dust and a few of the bones about. Then, a booming voice is heard: “FOOLS! FLEE BEFORE YOUR BONES REST HERE, EVERMORE! AH! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HAAAAAA!”
For some reason, the party takes this the wrong way and they decide to leave. They follow the humans through the door opposite where they came in and see that the passage takes an immediate left turn into a large room that looks awfully familiar as well as having a passage to the right. Walking forward, they see that they’ve come full circle back to the main entrance foyer with the spiral staircase. They decide to take the passage on the right.
This way quickly branches in a “T” to the right or left. So, marching forward without being cautious, Arya steps into the middle of a false floor pit trap! At the last second she feels the ground beneath her feet shift, so she’s able to roll well on the fall, taking a bruise instead of cracking her head open on the floor of the ten foot deep pit. As she hits the ground and bounces up, the two sections of the trap door snap shut, closing her in. Being a halfling, she can’t reach the lid of the jar she’s been trapped in.
Milo starts poking around the seams of the floor sections but can’t quite figure anything out. Sieglinde pops a quick gummy fish and casts Thaumaturgy, causing the doors of the trap to fly open. In the camera shutter quick opening, Milo notices three taught ropes and a piano hinge connecting to the stones before they slam shut again. Realizing that these ropes pull the doors closed, he slips a dagger into the cracks of the floor, severing the mechanism. This allows one side of the trapdoor to fall slack. With the door hanging into the pit, Arya is able to climb back out.
The party decides to abandon this avenue and heads through one of the other unexplored doors leading off of the main foyer. Arya decides to simply open the door like a civilized halfling and sees a decrepit kitchen past the doorway. An old, unused oven and some rotten shelves greet her eyes, while a horrible, septic smell greets everyone’s noses. Taking a look around the room, they realize that the horrible smell is emanating from the spigot over a sink on a wall opposite the oven. Thinking that nothing good can come of operating the pump for the spigot that smells like shit, they decide to check out the other door exiting this room.
Opening this door, they see a longish hall with a nook on the opposite end. The main part of the room is filled with a rotting feast table with broken pottery and cloth covering its surface. In the nook are some rusted and broken service carts with more broken pottery on them and nothing of value. The most interesting thing about the room is just inside the door they came through. A pair of dark blue shoes, ones that would fit most humanoids when laced up, are sitting by the wall. They are immaculately clean and well crafted. But the most interesting thing about them is that they are ridiculously oversized. The toe section is bulbous, as if to fit a foot that would be impossible to actually fit through the ankle hole of the shoe.
Sensing nothing arcane about them, most of the party ignores them, but Arya, never one to abandon an interesting possibility, straps them to her pack for possible use later, disregarding whatever disdainful looks her compatriots may have given her for doing so.
Taking some time to examine the only other exit from this room, Sieglinde smells a familiar smell to them all: old campfire. Wood that has been burned and the charcoal left for a long time. Opening this door, sensing nothing else, they find themselves in what looks to be a completely black and burned out room. Charcoal coats every surface of the room and the burnt remains of bookshelves and a couple of chairs are around the walls.
Investigating, Sieglinde figures from the mass of molten and hardened glass and brass between what used to be chairs, that someone likely tipped over a lamp here. That caught what must have been a rug and thus, the whole room went up before help could put the fire out. This room was likely a sitting room for those feasting next door to settle here for brandy and other digestifs. Likely only used by guards, but so little remains and this section has been picked over so many times that it’s impossible to tell, and nothing of value remains.
Exiting, they find themselves in the main spiral staircase foyer again. Deciding that the mystery of the sign pointing to “da dragon” needs investigating, they head down the hallway. Turning left, the enter a section that is not carved by hand, but is a natural cavern. As they look to their right, they see a small cave filled with both hundreds of bats on the ceiling as well as hundreds of pounds of bat shit on the floor. Looking left, they see another cave, lit by a couple of feeble torches and seven large canvas sacks, filled with bat guano.
Behind the sacks, kobolds occasionally poke their heads out, then snatch them back, not unlike the actions of children thinking that if they can’t see you then you can’t see them. Sieglinde steps forward and talks to them, as she did in the room where other kobolds were patching things up.
The kobolds, again, ask if they can help the party with anything, but they are being very careful to whisper. Sieglinde assures them that they are ok. She asks them again, what are they doing? They answer that they’re just collecting guano under the orders of Trustee Sniv. After a very uncomfortable conversation, the kobolds start to leave via the same route the party entered, all the while being very careful to be quiet.
The party, thinking that they’ve been down in the dungeon for quite a while, decides to head back out to the surface and on to the keep. There, they will collect themselves, collaborate about what they’ve found, and pay for their stay. Thinking back on what they’ve found and forward to what may still lay in store for them, they settle in for some rest at the keep…
Thus ends the first delve into Stonehell Dungeon!