[The story so far]
Session 23 - The tomb of the iron god (iii)
Worried that the echoing metallic banging caused by the animated statue now confined in the pit trap could attract unwelcome attention, the party decided to quickly search his now vacated room and then put some distance between them and the noise.
The angry statue's room had obviously been rather luxurious before it had been trashed. Although the carpets and wall-hangings looked valuable they didn't seem worth the encumbrance they'd cause to remove. Aurelius found a book bound in an unusually coloured leather while poking through the remains of the writing desk. Leafing through it he felt his fingers tingle and it fell open naturally at a page crammed with diagrams and magical writing. Our mage couldn't decipher it but recognised enough to realise it was necromantic magic - then he remembered that such books are often covered in human skin and threw it aside in disgust. They left hurriedly, with Jean muttering darkly about the undead spider-web wrapped corpses of Aractheon they'd faced in the burial mound a few weeks previously.
The first passage on the East side of the route they'd taken contained a dry fountain with two more iron monk statues standing beside it. One's face was covered by it's hood, but the other bore the same expression of dread terror as the first statue they'd encountered. Keeping a very careful eye on the statues they scouted quickly round and then left without finding anything of note. The other East turning previously ignored was almost the same, except no statues and the basin was full.
A careful dip of the finger and lick gave Nausicaa a feeling of wellbeing which encouraged the others to assume it was holy water and they all drank deeply leaving them revitalised and refreshed. They also filled their water bottles afresh from the wide basin.
Where next? Tybalt wasn't keen to return to the rats nest which had given him a savaged ankle, but the promise of revenge was enough to persuade him. He would get his wish! They stood outside the door through which the rats had poured and got themselves ready. Aurelius tore a strip of cloth and fed it into the opened neck of one of the embalming fluid bottles, Oiseau leaned his torch forward to light the cloth which took immediately, Montagne opened the door just wide enough and for long enough to the wizard to hurl the bottle through the gap.
The door shook and bulged outwards against Montagne's back and bright light shone out under the doorframe. A moment passed. The silence of the complex seemed strange and heavy after the echoes died away. "Well, whatever is down here knows where we are now," commented Gwen with brittle cheerfulness. No-one else spoke, but they readied their weapons and opened the door to find out what was left of the rats. The answer was "not much". Small chunks of smouldering rat littered the edges of the room which was badly scorched. Not wanting to hang around, they quickly picked a door on the south side of the room and kept moving.
The room they entered was dominated by a large stone table or altar aligned from North to South. Closer inspection revealed it to be heavily inscribed with small text relating to the rules by which the monks of Ferrus were supposed to abide. Gwen noticed that in quite a few places sections had been chipped back and new text saying the monks were allowed to keep the gift offerings for themselves was now freshly carved.
Also in the room were wicker trays about seven foot by three, and a narrow slope up from the south end of the room. Nausicaa investigated and found that it came out in the jar being held by the statue of Ferrus in the first room they'd entered! The party decided that it must be where the dead were brought to be handed over to Ferrus' keeping and they were slid down through the jar, onto a wicker tray which brought them down into this room for embalming.
Did the changes to the rules suggest what might have befallen the monks?
Heading through the only unexplored opening into the table/altar room (North), they narrowly avoided a pit trap by luck, rather than judgement, with Montagne swaying precariously on the edge for a moment before regaining his balance. Lucky, as this one had spikes in the bottom!
The chamber beyond was bare except for an ornately carved open doorway with a message above it warning them about heads being covered and speaking their name to the "scribe of the dead" lest they face peril from the "catacombs". After a long discussion and a quick, uneventful, dash back to the store room to retrieve the monks' robes, the first few spoke their names aloud and passed through with Nausicaa, Gwen, Tybalt, and Aurelius hanging back nervously.
Their caution was well founded as a damp patch of stone on the ceiling above the stairwell they were descending seemed to peel away and drop amongst the first four, lashing out with pseudo tentacles from its amorphous bulk. In desperation they hacked away at it but saw their weapons hiss on contact with it, small nicks appearing along the edges of their blades. The spike on Montagne's morningstar embedded in the... thing, but dissolved. Tybalt shot bolts at it but they dissolved on impact, while the others ran up to help, crossing through the archway. Unable to get away from it, and panicking, Oiseau (at Jean's frantic yelling) lit another bottle of embalming fluid and tried to throw it into the gooey creature to destroy it from within.
An explosion. In a confined space. With an acidic goo monster at the centre of the explosion. Yup. Genius... The cries of "Noooo!" from their more thoughtful comrades came too late.
The creature erupted in a gout of flame, lumps of its goo scattered in all directions, splattering over hastily raised shields and eating away at them. I wonder how well they'd stand up to a sustained attack in the future? The explosion itself threw the party in all directions, crashing them into walls and each other, but fortunately a lot of the force of the blast was directed along the corridor and so there were no fatalities. Well, not quite.
They decided they'd better keep moving. Down into the dark..