After the side trip to the Ghost Beggars‘ hideout and the wizard’s cellar, Sieglinde was back at the keep trying to gather together a party for another foray into the depths. She managed to find an adventurous Drow by the name of Scott skulking around in the shadows looking generically bored, so they both set off to the canyon. As they approached the ruins of the wall, they heard the sounds of a fight.
Stepping through the busted portcullis, they saw an elf trying to hold his own against two wolves, but the gash on his leg indicated he wasn’t doing so hot. Rushing into the fray, Sieglinde used her favorite spell, Thaumaturgy, to make her voice booming loud. Along with a couple of swift sword strikes from Scott and the elf that dropped one of the wolves, the other was so scared it ran away. Asking about him, they found the elf’s name was Beg and he was there to seek his fortune, as countless others had, in the depths of the dungeon. He seemed like he was legit, so they hooked up with him
As they started to descend into the dungeon, Scott, in stereotypical mysterious, lone-wolf Drow fashion, decided he had some pressing business to go attend to by himself, so Sieglinde and Beg found themselves alone. Sieglinde thought better of that and went back to the keep to hire that slightly over eager hedge Mage she’d seen milling about, Sinetel. After a bit of negotiation, and spending a bit more coin than she would have liked, Sieglinde had herself a hireling!
As they came down the stairs into the main foyer, they heard voices and saw some of the Ghost Beggars exiting the old kitchen. One of them was heard saying, “Yeah, we’ll make sure to come back and get it all next time. Nobody’s going to mess with it”. Then the two parties spotted each other and the bandits drew their weapons. Sieglinde remembered the pass phrase, though, so everyone was cool and went on their way.
Looking over the map, Sieglinde realized that with all that her parents’ teachings -her love of her religion from her father, and how to wield a weapon and shield from her mother- neither had taught her how to read a map, let alone draw one… She decided to head to the passage just south of the kitchen where Arya fell into the pit trap, since that had the closest unexplored sections on the map. Crossing the trap, they headed “north” and found a basically empty dorm, with rotted and destroyed bunks. On the far wall was a holy water stoup filled with stagnant, smelly water. Upon further inspection, she noticed that the sanctified symbols carved into the side of the bowl had been scratched off and crudely carved over with symbols associated with the worship of Chaos.
Heading down the other path from the fork, they encountered an odd door. Its construction was of solid stone on an offset pivot instead of the typical heavy wooden thing with normal hinges and such. Turning it slowly on its axle, Sieglinde peeked inside to see a dwarf with an explorer’s slouch hat with the brim tied up on one side, a monocle, and an impressive (even for a dwarf) mustache and beard. He was walking around giving orders to four other dwarves who were all intently taking notes or producing parchment rubbings of the rather impressive looking dwarven stone carvings lining the walls.
Stepping fully into the room, the dwarf turned around and said, “Ah! Good. Finally! I sent for help ages ago. You’re rather late. Well, nothing to do about that now. Here, take these and get to work, please.” At which point he shoved parchments and charcoal into the hands of the three newcomers. The door slid shut very solidly and firmly on this side and they couldn’t see a way to open it again. Sieglinde explained that they weren’t actually the help he had sent for, sorry, to which the dwarf looked rather crestfallen as he replaced all the tools he had just handed out back into the large chest in the corner. “Ah. Well. Hmm. I wonder what the devil must have happened to them…? Oh well, nothing for it now, eh? Erm… You wouldn’t happen to be looking for work while you’re down here would you?”
Interested, but looking for more details, Sieglinde asked what he would need. “Let me properly introduce myself, the name’s Snorri Broadshoulders. I’m here to document the relics and records of any of my brethren that were incarcerated – quite on false charges, you can be assured of that! – down here in this infernal prison. If you are headed further in, you’ll likely come across such work as is displayed here on these walls. If you could just get me some good rubbings and a map showing how to get to them, I will pay you… Hmm… How does one hundred gold pieces per parchment sound? I’ve got seven extras right now.”
Beg and Sinetel both take a few and Sieglinde takes the remaining four. She agrees that this is a good deal, indeed. Asking about how to find these dwarven records, Snorri says he doesn’t know where they are, else he wouldn’t need any help, would he? “But you can probably hire a guide over in Kobold Korners. I’m sure you know the place, don’t you?”
“Oh, yeah, I know it”, Sieglinde lies for no apparent reason. She’s never actually been there and doesn’t really have any idea of what he’s talking about. Never the less, she starts to set out again. “OK, good luck!” Snorri calls to the small party as they leave via the open passage to the south.
They soon find themselves in a cross intersection. From the left comes a horrible stench of rotting garbage while to the right is what looks to be an empty room. She decides that cleanliness is next to godliness and heads into the empty room. All around the walls are flaking frescos in a decidedly strange style. Ultra surrealistic with visions of melting mountains and animals with too-long legs striding across a barren landscape of dead trees draped with navigation instruments seemingly constructed out of liquid or pudding…
As she is looking at the odd landscapes, Sinetel gasps and says, “there is a powerful sense of residual chaotic energy coming from these paintings. They’re not active or anything, they’re just… I don’t want to be in here anymore.” And then he quickly walks out to the hallway again. Sieglinde thinks a bit before marking the room on her map and labeling it “Bad Stuff”. Nodding with tremendous satisfaction at her obvious knack for this whole cartography thing, she and Beg go join the Mage in the passageway.
Still wanting to avoid that smell, they continue down the passageway. At another four way, they head right, down a very long passage. Just before a large room, there is an alcove on the right hand side. On the wall at the end is a large glyph carved into the surface. Examining it, they determine it is imbued with Conjuration magic. As beg and Sinetel discuss what this could mean, Sieglinde simply reaches out and puts her palm on the glyph. Nothing seems to have happened however, so she turns around…. To find herself in a completely different place!
It’s a smallish room, about ten by twenty feet. The walls are lined with a few bookshelves, most of the books long since turned to dust, and one end of the room has a table with broken alchemical equipment on it. There is also a large easy chair that looks like it’s a good breathe away from collapsing. A thin layer of dust covers the furniture and floor. Before doing anything else, she touches the glyph again and is transported back to the hallway with her companions. Sinetel gasps and says, “Absolutely fascinating!” While Beg is less impressed. “What the hell was that?!” He yells. Sinetel explains that this is obviously a teleportation glyph, nothing to be alarmed about. He wants to see what’s on the other side so he and Sieglinde prepare to go in again and look about. Beg has other ideas though. “No way in hell you’re getting me to go through that thing! Those things kill you and replace you with a lookalike on the other side of it. Nuh uh! No way.”
Fine, the others say as they each touch the glyph and are transported to the small study. They didn’t think about the fact that it transports them to the same place, however, and they bump into each other on the other side and fall down in a tangled mess. As they pick themselves up, they start to investigate. Sieglinde manages to find a spell book that is still intact. It’s pages contain three first level spells and two second level. Not knowing the first thing about such magics, she hands it to Sinetel and tells him to figure out what they are, then she’ll figure out what to do with it. Finding nothing else, they leave again.
Beg simply shakes his head at the both of them when they materialize again. “No way…” He mutters. Sieglinde remembers to mark this down on the map. Again, she takes a bit to figure out what to write down… “Wizard shiz” she writes, using a term she had heard her father use when talking about the fireworks on the festival of Congruence.
They all head into the large room to the west. It’s a long gallery full of carved stone statues, except they are all smashed and thrown to the ground. Searching through the rubble, they find a small sack with a smattering of loose change and, much more interestingly, an unusual key! It is carved so that the bow looks like two grasping, skeletal hands, the shaft is a femur, and the blade and bits are teeth. It truly is a skeleton key. Unfortunately, there is no indication at this time of what lock it fits.
Figuring, what the hell, they head back to the room with the rotting garbage. Walking in they see, of all things, rotting garbage. All of it is fresh and mostly consists of food scraps. Taking advantage of this windfall are somewhere between 15 and 20 giant rats, scurrying all over the mounded refuse. They notice that one is acting strangely and sitting in the corner. They also notice that it seems to be wearing some sort of collar, but they don’t seem to think much of it. Boldly striding in, the party is pretty much instantly set upon by the swarm. As they strike down a couple of them, Sieglinde uses the old trick of using Thaumaturgy to yell in a booming voice at the rats as she rushes forwards to scare them away. Her dedication to the Life Domain means that she tries to not harm innocent animals. Luckily, it works! The rats all go rushing off into the next room. Not so luckily, her voice and the fact that over a dozen pissed off giant rats just ran straight for them didn’t go over so well with the small troop of orcs in that same room. They start yelling and the sounds of a rat slaughter are heard, and both of those sounds begin to get closer very fast.
The party decides that running away from a bunch of pissed off orcs is the better part of valor, so they book it down the hallway, making their way to the alcove with the glyph. As they reach it, the orcs round the corner in the hallway behind them. Sieglinde and Sinetel both tell Beg that he’s got to touch the glyph if he wants to live. He does a quick glance down the hall, groans a bit, then ducks into the alcove and slaps the image on the wall, disappearing just before the other two follow suit.
Here ends the first part of delve two!