Codex V-Chapter 4

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Their senses heightened, their attention fully ahead of them (though Jenika did occasionally check behind them for spiders creeping up), the party advanced, picking their way through the cleared rubble. Rynn was able to tell that some of the stones had long been cleared, their surfaces worn smooth by dripping water from the ceiling. As they got further in, the stones began to have a rougher look to them, indicating to the ranger that they had been more recently moved.

Khaska found his breath coming sharp and fast. After years of hearing of the tales of Tawru, and months of searching, he might very well be within minutes of finding the sword of his childhood hero. The heavy armor around him seemed light, and the rough ground easy to traverse, as his mind wandered to what might be ahead. Internally, after a few moments, he chided himself, focusing on his breathing and bringing his reaction to the situation more under control. But there was still an element of excitement. A moment of destiny seemed at hand and here, in this dungeon, abandoned for centuries by the dwarves that carved it, and the final resting place of a noble Knight of the Silver Dragons, he may find a relic that had been searched for by members of his race over many generations. He was awed, humbled, excited, and nervous all at the same time. As he advanced, he reflected on his adventures of the last few months. What a strange path had led him hear, from goblins and sacred sticks, to dragon riders and death cults. He had made friends, like his companions behind him, and he had lost friends, whether to evil, like Amara, to circumstance, like Orensland, or to untimely death, like Fan.

Eventually his light illuminated a door ahead. The passageway had gotten more and more narrow, and they had to pick carefully through the debris, wary of causing more to collapse on them. The door itself was massive, two iron sides each pointing out. It was obvious that the collapse had made opening them difficult, but they had managed to swing open a few degrees each, enough to create an opening that one could squeeze through. A softly glowing silvery light came from beyond the doors. There was some writing on them, elvish, if he wasn’t mistaken, but he couldn’t read it. He relayed all of this as he could to his companions, who could not see well past him in the narrow confines of the cleared passageway. He swallowed hard, pausing a few feet from the entrance to the next room.

“We’re with you, Khaska,” Jenika said, from the back. “Whatever we find.”

Buoyed by the silent strength of his companions behind him, he stepped forward into the door.

The room was small, each wall about twenty-five feet long. In the center was a stone sarcophagus. The top had been removed; it had fallen to the ground and split in half, the two portions resting on the side of the sarcophagus. The strange light was coming from a glowing circle of some silvery powder that ringed the sarcophagus. A goblin skeleton lay to the side, its head completely chopped off, collapsed in a heap where it died. Khaska brought his scimitar up to an en guarde position, wary.

“I can read this,” came Rynn’s voice. Jenika stopped just at the entrance, to turn and look at the ranger. “My final resting place, that I may keep the evil of my actions from spreading further.”

Khaska’s brow furrowed.

“For what reason would entombing himself allow him to contain evil?” he asked. “He was a full Knight up to the day he died. He must have been good.”

Rynn stepped into the room finally, beckoning to Ranna.

“I don’t know. It was a loose translation of the words …”

Rynn cut off as a low growl emitted from Ranna’s throat. The wolf was just outside the doors, illuminated by the torchlight and the softly glowing circle on the floor. Her teeth were bared in a rictus of hatred, and her hackles were completely raised.

Rynn drew his sword quickly and looked around.

“There’s something in here,” he said. “She can feel it.”

Eryx (DM)
You are in the tomb of Likran Treewind. It is a 25 x 25 foot room. There is the sarcophagus in the middle of the room, the circle on the ground made of silvery powder, and the broken lid … and something else that only Ranna can sense at the moment.

What do you want to do?

DeltaWolf
Jenika is not familiar with these kinds of things. She will keep alert for any physical danger that she is able to fight off and rely on the others to deal with the more mystical aspects.

BlackWolf
Rynn will cautiously enter the room and check the perimeter, avoiding getting too near the silvery glowing circle. He'll check high and low, plus peer at the sarcophagus from a distance to see if there's anything to be found (maybe a sword? a mummy? Blackbeard's ghost?).

Skill checks:

  • Listen: 24 (rolled 18 + 6 bonus)
  • Search: 24 (rolled 20 + 4 bonus)
  • Spot: 16 (rolled 9 + 7 bonus)

Based on the description we've had thus far, I don't expect to find anything in this little room… just making sure. Rynn is deferring to our Maha'i cleric to know about tombs, magic, and such things. (Perhaps a Spellcraft check is in order?)

Eryx (DM)
Rynn doesn't hear anything, but his search turns up two arms of a skeleton, broken off at the elbow, on the wall to the left (oriented when you come into the room). Inside the sarcophagus he can see a skeleton, encased in old, dilapidated plate armor. The skeleton is propped up inside the sarcophagus, as if it had been disturbed somehow, then not replaced in its original state.

As he enters and as he moves deeper into the room, Ranna whines and whimpers more. She will not come in, and stays outside, a few yards from the door.

Thev
Khaska will do much of what Rynn is doing, staying at a safe distance from the glowing circle.

  • Spellcraft: 2 + 2 = 4

Are there any other checks I should roll here?

  • Knowledge (religion): 2 + 10 = 12 (Wow, was Khaska hit on the head back there or something? Haha.)

The three of them froze, eyes sweeping the room. As their eyes fully adjusted to the new light, they were able to see around the room more completely, but nothing could be seen. Nothing stirred, except Ranna, whose growls were continuous. The wolf hovered just outside the doors, barely visible from the light.

After a long while, when nothing happened, Rynn took a step forward, tentatively. Still nothing happened. He began moving carefully, weapon still at the ready, eyes scanning back and forth. He edged to his left, circling around the sarcophagus and trying to stay away from the glowing circle of dust. Down on the ground were two skeleton arms, ripped off at the elbow, knocked askew. He got on his tiptoes to peer into the sarcophagus. Inside there was a skeleton, slightly propped up on that same side, as if it had been disturbed and then not fully replaced in its resting state. Khaska began to follow suit, but circling around to the right. He crept closer to the circle, leaning down to look at it. He tried to think what it could be, but he could not think of a spell that would be so long-lasting and made up of such a component.

The top of the sarcophagus had two symbols on it. One Khaska recognized from the documents he had seen in the library of the Knights, all those months ago—the personal seal of Likran Treewind. The other was the symbol of Heironeous—a lightning bolt grasped by a strong hand. He and Rynn met in the middle, at the back of the sarcophagus. It pained the cleric to see Likran’s body so obviously disturbed. Getting a better look, Rynn discovered that Likran’s body was missing one of his arms. The other was obscured by the rest of the body, clad in old, dilapidated plate armor, but it seemed logical to conclude the arms on the floor were from Likran’s corpse.

Khaska looked at Rynn, and at Jenika, who was fully in the room, and looked prepared for anything. Ranna remained outside.

“Khaska,” Rynn whispered, “I’m not really sure how to proceed here. What shall we do?”

Eryx (DM)
Well, Thev, this seems to be your show. Both BlackWolf (in IMs) and DeltaWolf (here in the gray boxes) are deferring to your character. How would Khaska like to proceed?

As a note, though I’m not trying to play your character for you, you do have several spells that might be of use. Detect Magic. Detect Undead. Find Traps. Locate Object. Those spells all seem relevant and useful. (Though did you prepare Spiritual Weapon or Summon Monster II? You can’t have prepared both, as your spell sheet currently indicates.) If you did use Detect Magic, I would let you roll another Spellcraft check as you investigate the glowing circle of powder on the floor, this time with magic instead of just your eyes and knowledge.

DeltaWolf
I was going to wait until Thev posted… As indicated Jenika will support Khaska and follow his lead.

Eryx (DM)
I just got off the phone with Thev. He apologizes for the inconvenience, as he is traveling at the moment, and will try to get his response up in the next few days.

Thev
Hey! I'm back. So, Khaska suspects that someone has been to the tomb and taken Tawru's sword already. This is depressing, but he did almost think it would be too easy merely to find the sword that quickly. He will immediately set to work, casting the following spells in the following order: Detect magic, find traps, locate object, detect undead. Locate object is, of course, focused on the missing sword. If Khaska is able to learn something about the powder circle and can ascertain that it is innocuous or can be disabled somehow with minimal danger, he'll try to do so in order to look into the tomb and, if nothing is there, restore the bones to their proper place and seal the tomb again.

  • Spellcraft: 3 = 1 + 2 (WOW, I have been having terrible luck.)

Eryx (DM)
Here are the results of your spells.

Detect Magic and Spellcraft: You still have no insights.

Find Traps: There are none.

Locate Object: You detect nothing. This doesn't surprise Khaska, because a) he might not be visualizing Tawru/Likran's sword well enough, b) if it's been removed it's likely well out of range of the spell, and c) they are underground, so if it had been moved at all even in these abandoned mines, the spell might be blocked. The sword, it appears, is not in the tomb.

Detect Undead: There is ONE strong (per the rules) undead aura emanating from inside the circle. Whatever Ranna is detecting, it's in there, and it hasn't revealed itself, and hasn't yet attacked you.

How does this information change your general plan?

Thev
So, given a Knowledge (Religion) check in chat, Khaska surmises that the undead (whatever it is) is being held back in within the powder circle. It would probably be released when we disrupt the circle or cross it. Khaska would be alright with stepping back and getting ready to disrupt the circle before doing so by throwing a rock (or the like), but that might not be the best idea at the moment given Rynn and Jenika's residual wooziness from the centipedes. Should we enter a pretty large fight now, or should we head back up out of the caves to recover overnight?

Eryx (DM)
Thev's Knowledge (Religion) Check was 14 (roll) + 1 (bonuses) = 24 total. So his speculation about the undead is pretty well informed.

BlackWolf
So, it seems that this tomb, Tawru's sword, and Kagu's goblins all have some common thread. I'm just not totally sure what. Perhaps Kagu wanted to get the sword to be more powerful, but ended up being driven mad? Seems like the goblins disturbed this tomb, but how did they manage to avoid breaking the circle? Or did they cast it?

All these questions aside, I think we should go ahead and confront whatever it is now. The centipede poison will make things a little more difficult, but hopefully not much. (Rynn will be fighting melee anyway.) Maybe it would be more prudent to leave it be, but Treewind deserves a better rest than this.

Rynn will stand ready. Hopefully Khaska can use turning to help turn the tide in our favor.

Eryx (DM)
If you choose to fight now I want a few things from you before you start (going back up and resting and preparing more specifically to fight an undead creature is also totally an option).
1. What are you going to do about the circle? Enter it? Throw a rock at the circle to break it up or into the circle to see what happens?
2. All of you give me initiative and three rounds of actions.
3. Thev, give me the results of three different turning checks. (That's the maximum number you can cast per day.) Basically for each, give me:
a. Roll a d20 + your CHA (which is 0). This is to determine the maximum size of the undead you can turn.
b. Roll 2d6 + 6 (your cleric level). This determine the actual size of the undead you can turn this time.

I would like to reiterate that this is an IF/THEN statement. IF you choose to fight THEN give me this info. If you want to go up and prepare to assault the tomb tomorrow, that is still a perfectly viable option. Nothing has attacked you yet, and whatever it is appears to be trapped in the magic circle of mystery (tm). Heck, you could specify that you're going to go take the night to prepare, and then give me this information, and I could just bring the narration up to that point.

Thev
Khaska would still vote to go rest and prepare - he thinks that preparing spells specifically to combat undead would be beneficial.

Eryx (DM)
So either DeltaWolf has to break the tiebreaker, or Thev and BlackWolf need to come to a consensus about whether they're just going to go for it right now, or go rest up for the confrontation in the morning. Also, I amended the above comment of mine in a slight way. Khaska detects ONE strong undead aura. Whatever it is, there's only one of them that he could detect.

BlackWolf
Out of his element, Rynn will completely defer to Khaska. Plus this is essentially his quest.

Previously it seemed like Thev was suggesting we fight it; I was just saying I'd back that play despite the poison. But if he'd rather retreat to rest up first, that's fine by me too.

Seems like there are a couple other leads we could follow up on, if desired. We could try to hunt down Kagu's goblins, or even return to town to ask Mirwen more about Treewind. But again, I'm deferring to Thev/Khaska on this one. Just throwing out some possible ideas. I'm just as willing to duke it out and kill some vampire skeleton zombie lich ghoul thingy. :)

Per our DM's email, here are some rolls in case they are needed now or later:

  • Initiative: 6 (rolled 4 + 2 bonus)

It's hard to pick a fighting strategy against an unknown evil, but given the room situation, it seems like melee will be the order of the day. So here are some dual wielding rolls assuming full-round actions, adjust as necessary:

  • Round 1
    • longsword: 10 (rolled 3 + 6 base + 2 STR + 1 mwk - 2 dual wield), damage: 9 (rolled 7 + 2 STR)
    • longsword: 20 (rolled 18 + 1 base + 2 STR + 1 mwk - 2 dual wield), damage: 8 (rolled 6 + 2 STR)
    • dagger: 16 (rolled 9 + 6 base + 2 STR + 1 mwk - 2 dual wield), damage: 2 (rolled 1 + 1 STR)
  • Round 2
    • longsword: 19 (rolled 12 + 7 bonus), damage: 5 (rolled 3 + 2 STR)
    • longsword: 18 (rolled 16 + 2 bonus), damage: 6 (rolled 4 + 2 STR)
    • dagger: 26 crit! (rolled 19 + 7 bonus), damage: 6 (rolled 1 + 1 STR + 4 max weapon damage)
  • Round 3
    • longsword: 26 crit! (rolled 19 + 7 bonus), damage: 11 (rolled 1 + 2 STR + 8 max weapon damage)
    • longsword: miss! (rolled 1)
    • dagger: 9 (rolled 2 + 7 bonus), damage: 4 (rolled 3 + 1 STR)

(Note to self: really need to get a magic weapon or two sometime soon…)

Thev

Having Rynn's support, Khaska will push for them to sleep the night and return better-prepared for the battle the next day. For one, he'll consult with the others on whom it would be most beneficial to cast Protection from Evil, and will abide by their vote.

When they return and are ready, Khaska will cast Protection from Evil on all party members and then proceed to try disrupt the circle. First, he'll try throwing a rock into the circle; if that doesn't work, he will toss a rock directly at the powder circle to disrupt or break it. If that likewise does not work, he will try to break it manually.

Turning checks:

  • d20: 5 2d6+6 = 11
  • d20: 15 2d6+6 = 14
  • d20: 18 2d6+6 = 18

In combat, Khaska will do what is most advantageous, beginning with casting Spiritual Weapon on his own sword and casting Divine Favor and Searing Light as situation demands; he will also have his sword drawn and will attack the being with it if possible.

Scimitar Attacks:

  • To hit: 16 = 10 + 6
  • Damage: 8 = 6 + 2
  • To hit: 13 = 7 + 6
  • Damage: 3 = 1 + 2
  • To hit: 25 = 19 + 6
  • Damage: 11 = 6 + 3 + 2

BlackWolf
Survival check for spending the night above (hunting and whatnot for the group): 14 (rolled 5 + 9 bonus)

Khaska swallowed and thought through his options. “I have a few spells that ought to be of use,” he said. “Let us try those first. Be on guard.”

He did not have to say that last part. Both the ranger and the monk looked ready to spring into action. Jenika looked ready to leap any which way to face danger, and Rynn’s eyes kept scanning the room.

Khaska said a prayer under his breath, invoking his connecting to Teresh to cast Detect Magic. He certainly could feel through the spell that the silvery powder on the ground was magic, but he could not identify the school it was cast from. It was still a puzzle. He could think of very few spells that could last this long … he doubted anybody had been in the room since the goblins, and that would have been long enough ago that the magic effect should have faded.

Next he cast Find Traps, but his magic revealed none. Then, though he had little hope of success, he cast Find Object, focused on Tawru’s sword. He had never seen it in person, so had to visualize and hope that the real sword was similar to the statue in the courtyard. Again, his spell failed to detect anything. The sword was likely not in the tomb.

Finally, he held out his holy symbol, invoking a final prayer to cast Detect Undead. A feeling like a cold winter blast settled into his bones as the spell became active, and he sucked in his breath sharply. Focusing, he was indeed able to sense that there was one single undead in the tomb with them. The spell was directional, and a bit of movement around the circle confirmed that the creature … still unseen … was in the circle, somewhere near the sarcophagus.

The cleric was puzzled. The creature had to know they were there. Why did it not attack? His eyes glanced at the silvery powder, glowing with some sort of magic. It seemed likely that the undead creature, whatever it was, was trapped by the magic. It would not assault them unless they entered the circle or disrupted the circle. For now, though he was cautious, it appeared they were safe.

“I think,” he said cautiously, “that we should leave and come back in the morning. I will tell you more once we are out of earshot.”

“Earshot of what?” asked Jenika.

“The creature here in the tomb.” He kept his eyes straight ahead, but motioned with his scimitar to the door. Rynn went first, and Ranna immediately calmed down, though was still nervous and shaking. Jenika went also, and then Khaska slowly backed out of the room. They advanced back down the tunnel past the cleared rubble, past the spider webs (which Jenika still observed warily), and made it almost back to the water before Khaska informed them of his speculations about the silver circle and the undead. “So if I prepare spells accordingly tonight, we will be in a much better position to fight this being, whatever it is. We are in no rush, so I feel it best to be careful.”

The emotions of finally finding the tomb left Khaska feeling weak and drained, the tension leaving him feeling unsettled. There were still questions to be answered. He would prepare Speak With the Dead again, to converse with Likran Treewind’s corpse, and they would rid the tomb of the undead creature, leaving Tawru’s friend to rest in peace once again.

Up in the ruins again, Rynn left to go forage for food and water, while Khaska meditated and prayed in front of Tawru’s statue, and Jenika meditated, trying to rid her body of the toxins from the centipede swarm. The ranger was able to find some berries as well as kill a fox in the woods, thus providing their evening meal. Though Khaska’s sleep was restless, nothing disturbed them during the night. In the morning, after the cleric’s prayers and preparations, they once again descended into the depths of the abandoned mine, speaking and conversing about tactics as they went. It was agreed that they would try to lure the creature out first by tossing rocks through the circle, and if that didn’t work, to try to disrupt the circle by throwing rocks first, then a torch or something else like that.

“I hope it’s not some kind of incorporeal undead,” said Rynn. “You’ll basically be on your own then, Khaska. Neither of us have magic weapons. I guess if that’s the case I would just keep us all healed.” The ranger had made sure the healing wand was ready-to-hand in case it was needed.

“That thought has occurred to me also,” the cleric said, “but we must try. Treewind deserves better rest that he has been granted, and we must still place Loremaster Onasus’ brooch in the tomb. My ability to turn undead should prove useful, in any event. I am confident we will prevail.” His words shook just a little, indicating that he was not as confident as he had said, but neither of the others spoke up about this.

“Hopefully you’ll just smoke them, like you did some of those zombies back in Hammerdine,” said Jenika.

After they passed the spider webs, but well before reentering the tomb, Khaska stopped and cast Protection from Evil on each of them. Now additionally protected by his divine magic, though it would only last a few minutes, they entered the tomb. Ranna, as before, began to growl and snarl, and would not come past the door.

Nothing had changed during the night. Not wanting to waste the spells he had just cast on the group, Khaska quickly picked up a rock from the small amount rubble just inside the doors and threw it across the circle. The rock sailed through the air, hitting the back wall of the tomb.

Nothing happened.

He picked up another rock, took a deep breath, and threw it at the circle with some force, hoping it would disrupt the magic.

The cleric’s aim was true, and the palm-sized rock landed right in the middle of the circle of powder, scattering grains of the silvery material into the air, and forming a small break.

A shriek erupted from the floor and a dark mass emerged from just inside the sarcophagus. Its cries echoed in their ears, shrieks and howls that made Rynn’s skin crawl, made Jenika falter for a moment, and made Khaska doubt his resolve, so evil and violent was the impression the creature made. The glittering powder that had spread in a puff of dust appeared to stick to the creature, and it shied away the small expanding silver cloud, moving rapidly to the back of the circle. The creature’s shadowy essence coalesced into a vaguely humanoid shape with no discernible detail aside from a head and two arms, but attached to its right arm was a scimitar, perfectly formed, crisply outlined in inky blackness, clearly a mirror for Khaska’s and similar to the one that adorned the statue of Tawru above ground.

The glittering powder on it vanished, and as the puff of silver created by Khaska’s thrown stone settled on the ground, the creature began advancing slowly towards the newly formed break in the circle. It had no legs, and its lower portion morphed and moved over the floor as it advanced like some black fog. Jenika noticed that it moved such that it avoided the rock Khaska had thrown, which was faintly glowing with the silvery powder.

Eryx (DM)
Khaska may roll a Knowledge (Religion) check to determine the type of undead that this is. It is advancing towards you, and appears to want to move out through the break Khaska has created in the circle. It does appear to be incorporeal, and you would all know that means that non-magic weapons, like Rynn’s weapons or Jenika’s fists, cannot harm it. Khaska’s scimitar is magic, so he will be able to injure it.

I need DeltaWolf to give me initiative and 3 rounds of actions. Anybody else can post further instructions, but I think I’m generally good on the actions that Rynn and Khaska will take from both IMs and the gray box above for BlackWolf and Thevarou.

BlackWolf
"Jenika! Dag's axe! It's magic!" Rynn shouts as he suddenly realizes that they have one other weapon that could hurt an incorporeal being. It's no monk weapon, but still… better than nothing. She'll take a -4 penalty for using it (no weapon proficiency), but it's magic so that's at least +1 back again. Jenika will probably lose a round for arming herself with it, but it should just be stuffed in the haversack, so it should be easy to retrieve.

But even with the axe, it looks like this really is going to be the Khaska show. Although his weapon could damage it, I'm guessing his spells are going to be what really turn the tide. Especially Seering Light (please don't miss with that…)

Since it appears to be incorporeal per their discussions, Rynn won't even try to attack as I had outlined previously. Instead, he'll just drop his weapons then crouch down to scoop up a bunch of the silvery powder. Seems like this thing doesn't like the powder, so the ranger will try to throw handfuls at it. If the first throw seems effective, he'll do it again.

I'm guessing this would work similar to throwing a splash weapon, so here's a couple ranged touch attacks:

  • 19 (rolled 11 + 6 base attack + 2 DEX)
  • 21 (rolled 13 + 6 base attack + 2 DEX)

DeltaWolf
Initiative: 19 (15+4)

  • Round 1: Pull out Ax from Handysack
  • Round 2: Attack with Ax
    • To hit: 18 (14 Rolled +4 Base +3 STR -4 Proficiency +1 Magic)
    • Damage: 5 (2 Rolled +3 STR)
  • Round 3: Attack with Ax
    • To hit: 5 (1 Rolled +4 Base +3 STR -4 Proficiency +1 Magic)
    • Damage: 4 (1 Rolled +3 STR)

Hopefully I did that right

Eryx (DM)
I was authorized to roll this for Thevarou.

Knowledge (Religion): 5 (roll) + 10 (bonuses) = 15.

It's a wraith, and yes, they are incorporeal. I should have the post up later today.

“It’s a wraith!” Khaska said, bringing his scimitar up. “Only my weapon will damage it.”

“Jenika! Dag’s warhammer! It’s magic!” Rynn shouted, as he suddenly realized that they did have another weapon that could harm the creature. Jenika quickly grabbed the haversack off of the floor where she had deposited it and reached in, pulling out the hammer as Khaska held out his holy symbol, his prayers ascending to Teresh as the creature slid through the opening only it could see, right above the break Khaska's thrown rock had formed.

His attempt to turn aside the wraith failed, and the creature swung at him. The crisply-defined ebony scimitar sliced through the air, knocking into Khaska and passing through the cleric. Khaska felt his soul grow cold and his body weaken as the dark magic swept past his defenses. Its strike had hit home.

Rynn was in a panic for a moment. He had no weapon to help! No way of harming the wraith! Then, a thought flashed through his mind, and he moved around the wraith, attempting to grab handfuls of the silvery powder. If the creature was avoiding the powder, perhaps the powder could damage it!

Jenika struck home, the warhammer smashing into what would have been its face. The strike landed and the creature shrieked as pieces of it spun off into the nether, vanishing as they disintegrated. Still reeling from the attack, Khaska attempted again to turn the undead, his fervent prayer echoing through the chamber. This time, the cleric’s divine magic was successful.

Shying away from the Maha’i’s holy symbol, which now blazed with holy light, the wraith retreated, going as far as it could in the tomb, for Khaska was blocking the exit. As it began to retreat Jenika clubbed at it with the warhammer, but missed, and Khaska swiped at it with his scimitar, but also missed. Rynn threw one handful of the powder at it as it passed by. It stuck to the creature, and the portion that it impacted seemed to ripple and distort. It had damaged it, a little. But then the creature finally reached the back wall and vanished.

Rynn was startled. “It’s just running away?”

“It will flee from me for a minute,” said Khaska. “And it can pass through walls, but it will not travel too far.” He pointed. “It is likely right there, just out of our reach.”

Rynn almost laughed. “Well, at least we’ll have time to heal you up, if you want.” He reached for the wand of healing, and that’s when he noticed his hand. Much of the silvery powder had stuck to his hand, coating it in a thin sheen that faintly glowed. He dropped the dust from his other hand. It too was completely coated on the palm.

Eryx (DM)
Khaska used Turn Undead. It was super effective!

Unfortunately, that means the wraith, fleeing by the most efficient means possible, ran away from the cleric and into the wall. It’s probably just inside, since it “must remain adjacent to the object’s exterior” per the rules. You cannot do anything to it, and if Khaska gets too close, the turning will break and it will come back at you.

You have nine more rounds to think about your life. What do you want to think about? :)

Khaska is at 33/35 hitpoints, and now has a CON score of 10. (If you get to 0, you die, and become a wraith in 1d4 rounds.)

DeltaWolf
Well now might be a good time to look at the sarcophagus. Otherwise Jenika will wait for the thing to come back and so she can wack it again!

Eryx (DM)
Give me three rounds of actions for when the creature attacks again, too, so I don't have to pause the narration.

Your previous spot checks were pretty good, and now that you can actually look inside the sarcophagus, you can confirm for sure that both Treewind's arms are missing (probably the two on the ground, since the armor matches), and the sword of Tawru is not inside.

Thev
First, how can Khaska's CON score be restored? Because that seems that it should be a priority.

Second, he'd look at Rynn's hands, seeing whether the powder is harmful to him. If it isn't, then it might be best for the party to coat themselves with it as thoroughly as possible. Maybe it would deflect the wraith's attacks.

When the wraith reemerges, Khaska will proceed to attack it, only trying to turn it if the situation turns (ha, NPI) against the party. When the wraith leaves melee range, Khaska will use Searing Light against it (or within range if it's advantageous). Otherwise, here are scimitar rolls:

  • To hit: 26 = 20 + 6
  • Damage: 9 = 5 + 2 + 2
  • To hit: 26 = 20 + 6
  • Damage: 7 = 1 + 4 + 2
  • To hit: 24 = 18 + 6
  • Damage: 11 = 6 + 3 + 2

… OH MY GOODNESS.

Eryx (DM)
The powder is not harmful to Rynn. It also does seem to stick to just about everything.

BlackWolf
Thev, seems like we're on the same wavelength! I was thinking that while the turning is still in effect, Rynn would rub the silver powder on his weapons and on our characters.

As for restoring your CON score, you've been the subject of ability drain so the restoration spell is probably our only recourse. It's a level 4 spell for a cleric/paladin, so you could cast it on yourself after we level up next (which could be a while) or else we need to find somebody to cast it on you.

Hopefully nobody else will be afflicted by the CON drain. I'm hoping for a lucky casting of Searing Light — it should be able to dish out some major damage. But after that, it's gonna be a lot of swiping and hoping for the best.

As for healing Khaska, I think it's better to not spend a round on that. The CON damage is the real problem and we can't fix that right now. So Rynn will focus on putting silver powder on everything, then attack. Per IM w/ the DM, I'll be using the rolls made previously which were discarded when I started throwing silver powder.

Also a very minor thing for the DM: the narration says Jenika got the warhammer (not sure why I kept thinking it was an axe…) from Rynn's haversack. But I thought we had stowed it in Dag's haversack which Jenika was supposed to take?

Eryx (DM)
I don't have any compunctions telling you that you have, with BlackWolf's post, figured out the "puzzle" I put in place, with help from some other D&D friends of mine, to help you be able to succeed at this encounter even though you only have one magical weapon. (Two, if you count Dag's warhammer, which I actually hadn't considered.) You will get a little extra XP at the end of this encounter … assuming you survive! Mwuhahahahaha!

However, even though the silvery powder was a kind of "gimmick," it also evolved into the story of this Codex relatively organically, so don't think it was merely serving as a gimmick.

If I could get DeltaWolf to give me three rounds of actions, then I can proceed to write up the next post.

“This might be a good time to inspect the sarcophagus,” said Jenika, who moved over to peer inside. Unfortunately, a closer inspection didn’t yield any more clues than what they had already seen. However, as Rynn got closer and touched the edge, peering in, he noticed that the silvery powder on his hands also transferred to the sarcophagus edge. It seemed to stick to everything.

He glanced at Khaska, and it appeared they both had the same idea, and they spoke at the same time, hurriedly.

“I bet if we put this stuff on our weapons, it would help with the wraith!” said Rynn.

“Coating ourselves may be beneficial in deflecting the wraith’s attacks.” Khaska stated.

The two of them smiled, and then Rynn went to work picking up handfuls and spreading it on himself and on his weapons. Jenika coated herself and made sure some was on the end of Dag’s warhammer, while Khaska made sure to thoroughly coat his shield and armor in it, leaving a little bit for his scimitar at the end.

Thus prepared, Jenika and Rynn advanced to where the wraith had vanished, while Khaska stayed back. They did not have to wait long. Shrieking incoherently, the wraith erupted from the stone wall, its dark scimitar leaving a trail of shadow as it struck at Rynn, who managed to duck out of the way. Khaska was prepared, a prayer sounding through the crypt, and a blazing ray of light burst from his open palm. The divine light raced through the air and struck the wraith full on in what would be its chest, burning away portions of it as Rynn and Jenika both attempted to hit it with their weapons.

Still focused on Rynn, the creature’s scimitar struck out again, and this time the ranger could not dodge it. The thrust impaled the ranger in his chest, and Rynn felt his skin grow cold and his body weaken from the attack. Another ray of light blazed from Khaska’s hand, burning away virtually everything that was left of the creature. The remaining shadowy parts reformed again into that well-defined scimitar, now hovering virtually alone in the air, and again it struck at Rynn. The scimitar arced upward through his chest. Had it been a real sword it would have cleaved a slash from his navel to his neck, and the ranger again felt his life-force draining as Jenika missed again with Dag’s warhammer. The ranger stumbled to his knees, overwhelmed by the weakness and the nausea he felt from the attacks he had suffered.

Khaska entered the fray himself, swiping upward with a vicious blow that smashed into the dark scimitar. Then Rynn stood and thrust forward. His longsword skewered the remnants of the wraith, and the scimitar held for a moment, as if trying desperately to maintain its cohesion, but it could not. After a moment, the sword vanished, a wail coming from it that faded to nothingness as the darkness dispersed.

Rynn collapsed to his knees, weakened and cold from the attacks. He felt like his strength had left him, as if he had just gotten over a particularly serious bout of illness. Ranna ran up to him, no longer afraid of the wraith, licking at his face and whining her concern about him.

Eryx (DM)
I had Thev’s permission to use his rolls for things that would work better, should the opportunity arise, and with above-average rolling on damage for two castings of Searing Light, the wraith didn’t really have much of a chance. Still, it managed to do some serious damage to Rynn before it died.

Your individual situations are as follows.

Khaska: 33/35 HP. 10 CON.
Rynn: 28/34. 5 CON.
Jenika: No damage.
Ranna: No damage.

BlackWolf was right above. You will need a cleric of level 7 or higher, and you will need 100 diamond dust per person to cast the restoration spell. As I understand it, that’s your only option for restoring lost ability scores. Rynn is skeptical that a cleric of that level can be found in Twilight, which is the biggest city around.

What do you want to do now? I assume you will Speak With Dead with Likran Treewind’s corpse, so make sure to post your three questions here as well. I also assume that you will leave the monastery and head back to Twilight. I’d like to just bring the narration to there, so let me know what, if anything, you would do on your way back to avoid goblins, and to help with traveling (survival checks and the like for the three days of travel it will take to get back).

BlackWolf
Crap. Being down to CON 5 is going to suck. The lowering of constitution also affects his total HP at a rate of 1 HP * hit die (i.e. character level) * CON points drained. So 1 * 6* 8 = 48 but the drain can't lower you to less than 1 HP / hit die, so he's left with 6 HP total. And he's taken 6 points of damage, so he's really at 0/6 HP (barely conscious).

The same would apply to Khaska, so 6 * 3 = 18 putting him at 15/17 HP.

So given the situation, I think that Rynn will heal himself with the wand then sit down against the wall while the others check out Treewind's tomb and/or speak with dead. Though he will suggest that, "We should put Treewind's arms back with his body."

Wand healing rolls:

  • for Rynn: 9 (rolled 8 + 1)
  • for Khaska: 2 (rolled 1 + 1)

Perfect, just 2 charges used and now we're at full. :/

After we do whatever we're going to do in the tomb, Rynn will want to head back up to the surface to rest. They're still affected by the poison, after all, and given his newly weakened state he won't want to try going anywhere until that's worn off. So he'll use the time to work on his bow and hunt for the group:

  • Survival checks:
    • 17 (rolled 8 + 9 bonus)
    • 14 (rolled 5 + 9 bonus)
    • 23 (rolled 14 + 9 bonus)

Luckily, his skill checks aren't affected by a lower CON. Just as long as he avoids any angry badgers or whatever, he should be fine.

Depending on what we learn from the tomb, I/Rynn had been thinking about going after the goblins next to see if Kagu's got Tawru's sword. But that doesn't seem like a very good idea now. Even just getting back to the town seems dangerous now, given that it's more or less under siege by goblins.

Still, even though Rynn is skeptical of finding a high enough level cleric (based upon, I assume, Khaska telling the ranger about how powerful of a cleric they'll need) he'll still suggest they head back to Twilight next. Maybe we'll get lucky and find one that's stuck in town.

DeltaWolf
I don't really have much to add. Sorry!

BlackWolf
After thinking about it a little more, we did fight goblins at level 1… so maybe I'm overreacting to the severe drop in HP. At level 1 Rynn did have 8 HP rather than 6, but his other skills are much improved now.

In any case, I still think returning to town is probably the wisest idea, but I'll be very interested to hear what Khaska wants to do.

Thev
Khaska is willing to head back to Twilight, especially given the CON drain he and Rynn are suffering from, but there also isn't a rush to return. Instead, he'll suggest that they stay at the mines an extra day in order to allow Rynn and Jenika to work off the poison and to increase the number of potential questions for Treewind's corpse from three to nine.

Survival Checks:

  • 18 = 13 + 5
  • 8 = 3 + 5
  • 22 = 17 + 5

In terms of questions, here are several Khaska's thought of:
1. How and when did Tawru lose his horn?
2. What was the evil that you said must be contained in the inscription here?
3. What did you do with Tawru's sword?
4. Why did you leave your post in Hammerdine and retire, founding a monastery?
5. What information about Tawru and his life did you neglect or alter in your written confession?
6. What are the identity and purpose of the silver dust encircling your coffin?
7. What about Twilight and its environs led you to establish this monastery here?
8. What is the purpose of your tomb's placement so deep underground?

And, a more personal one:

9. What advice would you give to a young Maha'i who wishes to honor Tawru's memory -both fabricated and real- while at the same time striving to heal the rifts between his people and the other races of Jenoa?

How do those sound for you guys? Any thoughts?

Eryx (DM)
With permission from Thev, we decided to do the Q&A of Likran's corpse in IMs, so as not to double up on relevant information. Most of the questions he posed are the ones we used, but others turned out to be redundant. So here's our conversation. Likran's corpse is much more amenable to being questioned than Dag's was, which probably reflects their personalities and alignments in life.

1. How and when did Tawru lose his horn?

"I am unsure. When he left us to free the slaves, his horns were intact. When we met again, it was broken off."

2. What was the evil that you said must be contained in the inscription here?

"The sword of my friend Tawru."

3. What are the nature, origin, and method of containment of the evil in Tawru's sword?

""The sword was cursed when I met him after he freed the slaves. I had hoped that being buried in this shrine would keep it from ever being used for evil, because I no not how to undo the curse."

4. Why did you leave your post in Hammerdine and retire, founding a monastery?

"Ashamed of my actions. Wished to live a life of contemplation and service instead of combat after Tawru's death."

5. What information about Tawru and his life did you neglect or alter in your written confession?

"I included all that was relevant in that confession."

6. What are the identity and purpose of the silver dust encircling your coffin?

"A special boon from Heironeous, maintaining a Consecrate spell here in the tomb to keep undead out."

At this point Thev rolled a Knowledge (Religion) check: 10 (roll) + 10 (bonuses) = 20 total.

Remembering that the wraith would not cross over the line, and that it seemed to be very fuzzy except for the part with the sword (which was the last remaining part as you blasted it apart), Khaska suspects that the wraith was actually created over time by the evil of the sword, but it was trapped in the circle and couldn't get out.

7. What about Twilight and its environs led you to establish this monastery here?

"Isolated, but with dwarven miners nearby in Twilight that could help with construction and teaching me stonework."

8. What do you wish you could have shared with Onasus before your death?

"I regret not being able to say goodbye to him, nor tell him the story of my failure, because it is not my story to tell."

9. What advice would you have given to a young Maha'i who wishes to honor Tawru's memory -both fabricated and real- while at the same time striving to heal the rifts between his people and the other races of Jenoa?

"I had hoped that there would never be such a one, but if one ever did discover the truth, I would hope that they could perhaps endeavor to restore the sword to its sanctified state, though I know not how."

With this new information, what do you all want to do? Go after the goblins? Head back to Twilight?

Thev
Khaska would vote to go back to Twilight to see if there's anyone who could restore the lost CON levels. At best, they could be out adventuring soon. At worst, they'll find they'll have to go elsewhere and come back.

After taking a few deep breaths, Rynn pulled out the healing wand, using it to repair his injuries. The wraith’s magic had drained him somehow. The wand brought him up to full health immediately, but he still felt less than himself, physically. He also healed Khaska, but then sat down, his back propped up against the wall. “I think I’m just going to rest here for a bit,” he said. “You can talk with Treewind now, though we should put his arms back with his body.”

Khaska nodded and moved to retrieve them from the ground. He and Jenika pushed Treewind’s body back into the sarcophagus so it was resting once again as it should. Khaska tried his best to put the arms back at his sides, but it was obvious to his eyes that the damage to the body meant it would never quite look right. No matter. He had done as he could, and he was sure that Treewind would honor that attempt to do him some dignity in death. However, Khaska had prepared the speak with the dead spell again. He spent a moment focusing in meditation before raising his holy symbol and then beginning the series of prayers to cast the spell.

Ten minutes later, the spell was complete. Treewind’s corpse responded willingly and quickly. The tension that was so palpably present when interrogating Dag’s corpse was completely absent. Khaska began the questions that were most present on his mind this morning.

“I am seeking the relics of a hero of my people, Tawru Khimmak Tovan Nem Rujdha. How and when did Tawru lose his horn?” he inquired.

“I am unsure. When he left us to free the slaves, his horns were intact. When we met again, one was broken off.”

“What was the evil that you said must be contained in the inscription here?” asked Khaska.

“The sword of Tawru, which you seek.”

“What are the nature, origin, and method of containment of the evil in Tawru's sword?”

“The sword was cursed when I met him after he freed the slaves. I had hoped that being buried in this shrine would keep it from ever being used for evil, because I no not how to undo the curse.”

The spell ended with that, and Khaska contemplated this new information.

“So someone came in here and took the sword?” Rynn said. “Maybe the goblins?”

“That may be true, but even if we stay to ask more questions tomorrow, the body only knows what Likran Treewind knew in life,” responded Khaska. He glanced over at Rynn, still sitting on the ground, absentmindedly scratching Ranna’s head, and Jenika. “Could we stay another day? If I prepared two castings of speak with the dead on the morrow we could ask six more questions. This is a rare opportunity that will not come our way again.”

Jenika blew a breath out. “You are both still injured from the wraith, and I’m not quite back to full myself from the centipedes. We could stay another day before beginning the walk home. Rest up some more.”

Rynn nodded, and began to get to his feet. “I agree. And taking the day to hunt and enjoy the woods would probably rejuvenate me some. Don’t much care for this underground environment.”

“Then let us return on the morrow,” said Khaska, “to further converse with the body of Likran Treewind.”

It was barely late morning when they returned to the surface. The time they had spent in the mine had been a little over an hour or so. Rynn did spend the day wandering the forest nearby, though he didn’t go far. Jenika found a nearby stream that allowed them to wash off the silvery powder—Rynn was worried it would make them more visible when night fell. The ranger and the cleric together were able to bring down a large buck deer. Khaska used his clanking armor to good effect, driving the deer towards Rynn, who took it down with an arrow. They ate well that night.

The next morning Khaska prepared his spells for the day, and they again descended into the abandoned mine. Jenika still warily watched the spider webs as they went by, but again nothing attacked them.

The prayers were repeated, and Khaska again invoked the blessings of his God to speak with the body. Then he continued with his questions.

“Why did you leave your post in Hammerdine and retire, founding a monastery?”

“I was ashamed of my actions, and wished to live a life of contemplation and service instead of combat after I was forced to kill a dear friend, Tawru. The monastery was named for him.”

“What information about Tawru and his life did you neglect or alter in your written confession?”

“I included all that was relevant in that confession.”

“What are the identity and purpose of the silver dust encircling your coffin?”

“A special boon from Heironeous, maintaining a consecrate spell here in the tomb to keep undead out and to partially negate the evil of the sword.”

That was it for this casting of the spell.

“So, the consecrate spell didn’t work, then,” said Jenika. “Something got in here anyway.”

“Perhaps.” Khaska contemplated for a moment. “However, the wraith could not leave the circle. If the spell was there all of the time, did Treewind trap himself in with a wraith? That seems unlikely.” He looked around at the remains of the silvery powder. “The wraith was unusual, also. It seemed to have no form except for the sword, and that was clearly well-defined. As we blasted portions of it away, the part that always remained was the sword. It would be my guess that the wraith formed over time from the evil of the sword, and was trapped here in the circle and could not get out. That would explain both its chosen form and why it was stuck here. Whatever took the sword from the sarcophagus did not disturb the circle, so the wraith remained trapped.”

“You’re the expert on such things,” said Rynn. “I’m just glad that it’s dead.”

“As am I. I will proceed with the second casting.”

For the final time, Likran Treewind’s body was animated by the cleric’s divine magic.

“What about Twilight and its environs led you to establish this monastery here?”

“Isolated, but with dwarven miners nearby in Twilight that could help with construction and teaching me stonework.”

Khaska held up the brooch from Loremaster Onasus. “I have hear a brooch from Loremaster Onasus, who claims he knew you in life and wished it to be placed at your tomb. What do you wish you could have shared with Onasus before your death?”

“I regret not being able to say goodbye to him, nor tell him the story of my failure, because it is not my story to tell.”

“What advice would you have given to a young Maha'i, who wishes to honor Tawru's memory—both fabricated and real—while at the same time striving to heal the rifts between his people and the other races of Jenoa?”

“I had hoped that there would never be such a one, but if one ever did discover the truth, I would hope that they could perhaps endeavor to restore the sword to its sanctified state, though I know not how.”

And then for the final time, the magic dissipated, and Likran Treewind’s corpse grew still.

Contrary to their experience with Dag, the mood was light and even a bit happy, even if every so slightly tinged with melancholy because of Treewind’s answers regarding his life and his penance. Rynn had felt no chills in his body at all during all the conversations with this dead person.

Khaska took the brooch from the Loremaster and put it on Treewind’s chest, placing the hands atop it as best he could to make it look natural. He signaled to Rynn and Jenika to help him, and they replaced the broken pieces of the sarcophagus lid, hopefully this time giving Treewind more peace than he had had previously. Khaska then moved to the foot of the sarcophagus, and knelt, his hands upraised, and his head looking up at the ceiling. He said a prayer in Maha’i, pleading with Teresh and Heironeous (Treewind’s deity) that the tomb remain undisturbed this time. Then he ended with the traditional Maha’i incantation, specifically for this ally of Tawru, who had long passed.

“May Markus keep you in the everlasting hills, Likran Treewind,
And may you never know aught but happiness.”
They closed the door on their way out, this time, sealing it shut. Khaska felt rejuvenated as they journeyed back to the surface. He was closer to finding the sword, had delivered the brooch that Loremaster Onasus had given him to do so, and conversed (in a manner of speaking) with a dear friend of Tawru. His time had been well spent. As they climbed up the stairs leading out of the mine, he paused at the top, and glanced back down behind him.

“Thank you,” he whispered in Maha’i. He wasn’t even sure to whom he was speaking, Treewind, the gods, the spirits of his ancestors, but he had much to be thankful for. But now it was time to head back to Twilight, to try their luck and see if there was a cleric that could restore them. He was growing in his abilities and powers, but he was not able to cast that spell yet. Soon, perhaps.

Rynn was leading the way up the stairs out of the mines, past the dead goblins, and up to the main floor of the monastery. Ranna loped ahead to where the sun broke through. Rynn followed shortly after, breathing in the fresh air.

Ranna stopped, and after a moment, the ranger did too. He smelled something different. Ranna dropped lower to the ground, her teeth bared in a snarl.

“Attack!”

Goblins poured out of the surrounding hallways, intent on swarming the party. Rynn barely managed to unsheathe his sword when he was completely surrounded. Their blows brought him down in moments, still weak as he was from the wraith’s draining ability. He was unconscious in moments.

“Take them alive!” cried one. “Kagu wants them alive!”

Khaska fared a little better than Rynn, actually managing to slice one’s head with his scimitar before he too was completely surrounded and overcome. Jenika’s feet and fists lashed out, but there were simply too many. She did note, before their blows took her into unconsciousness, that they were not trying to kill them. The thought of why they would want the party alive chilled her before a club smashed into the side of her head, and everything went black.

Eryx (DM)
Kagu has sent quite a large war party after you. There was no chance you could get out of this scenario by winning. There are simply too many of them, even weak as the average goblins are. You are all unconscious, and we’ll pick this up in Chapter 5.

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