Vita est ludus
The thin line between fantasy and reality...













The City of the Spider Queen - Day 1 - To the Dordrien Crypts

Marpenoth 28, 1372 DR (Morning) Daggerdale

The next morning, the party follows Randal Morn's instructions and travels 10 miles south along a disused road. Around noon, they find a trail leading into the hills past a group of burned out homesteads. Some of the buildings seem to have been destroyed recently, others, long ago. The trail goes to the base of the Dagger Hills. Here they find a grouping of mausoleums. Most have been looted, their doors standing agape, but two seem reasonably intact. The path leads between the two up to a closed door in the side of the hill.

"Wow!" says Hazen. "Let's check out these tombs!"

"Why?" says Igor. "Do you think the drow we are after are within?"

"What drow?" asks Hazen. "I want to find golden coins lying in chests and coffins."

"I have no problem looting the bodies of our defeated foes, but taking treasure buried with the dead is not right," says Igor.

Tebryn frowns. "What have you been doing your whole career, Igor? Seeking lost and buried treasure. Why get cold feet now?"

"We just recycle, Igor," says Hazen. "Coins and magical items, buried, lost, forgotten - we find those and put them to good use. Why make NEW items if you can find and reuse old items that are still perfectly usable?"

"As I said, we can recycle items from foes that were wielding them against us, but things that were sealed away with the intent of keeping people like us out should just be left alone," argues Igor.

"I'll check the door for traps. Hmm. Nope, none there. Come on - just put your shoulder to that door and let's see what is within!" wheedles Hazen.

Igor sighs. "I don't see the point, as I don't expect to find drow in there, but I seem to be alone with this viewpoint." Igor gives the door his best and it doesn't budge. "It's stuck tight."

Hazen examines it more closely and discovers that it appears to be sealed with plaster at the sides and top, although not at the bottom. "Kress! Help out Igor!"

Kress and Igor together apply their shoulders to the door and it quivers but still holds fast. "Too hard, Hazen. Maybe another strong shoulder would help?"

"Forget it," says Igor. "This is not what we need to be doing."

"What do you think we need to be doing, Igor?" asks Tebryn.

"I think we should check out the buildings that we think the drow could possibly be in, or have left clues in," says Igor.

"Igor, our quest was given to us by Loviatar," says Veracity. "We only went to Dagger Falls to get directions to the Dordrien Crypts. We got the directions and here we are. What do we care about drow raiders coming out of the Underdark and slaughtering country folk? We must go to Maerimydra to kill the cultists in the Undying Temple. But why not collect a little free loot along the way from these human tombs? If you don't like this tomb, how about that one?" She points to the other mausoleum with a closed door.

"I was not suggesting that finding the drow raiders was more important. I just thought that while we were here we could check the buildings for signs of them; even if we are just passing on through, we don't want to be taken unaware. But why waste time robbing tombs or passers-by (not that anyone has suggested that - yet - but I mention it, just in case)? I still would like to check the other building," explains Igor.

Veracity nods. "I see. I like your focus!"

Igor walks to the opposite tomb and examines the door. Hazen joins him and they both search for traps. "No traps here!" says Hazen. Igor shoves against the door, which swings open without resistance. "Huh."

Within the mausoleum the party finds several small rooms, each containing a large stone sarcophagus. Each of these is thickly covered with dust but the lids were slightly askew and each had numerous scratches and marks, as if pry bars had been used to open the boxes. Indeed, the sarcophagi had long since been looted and nothing of interest was found within them.

"Come on, Igor, how about one more try at the opposite tomb - with Veracity and me helping?" suggests Hazen.

"All right. One more time, Hazen," grumbles Igor.

This time, the four strongest adventurers break open the door. The air within is deathly still. The invisible Hazen enters, followed by Igor and Kress. "Yol! come look at this!" calls Veracity from the doorway. Yol comes up and enters while Tebryn and Brianna stand outside and look at the party within.

There are two fancy stone coffins within, each covered with a layer of dust. They appear to be inscribed, but before anybody can examine them more closely, two humanoid forms materialize out of gaseousness and confront the party. "Thought to rob the dead, eh? So did we..."

One looks closely at Igor and says, "Come here, friend." Igor curls his lip disdainfully. "You are not my friend!" he says.

The other peers into Kress's eyes. "Come here, friend!" Kress's eyes glaze over briefly and then clear. "Hello! How did you get here?" The vampire smiles. "No chit chat. Go attack that man!" he says, pointing at Igor. Kress looks at Igor and seems to struggle inwardly. "Huh. Why would I do that? As I said, how did you get here, friend?" The vampire frowns.

"Hmm." says Tebryn. He casts a potent spell. "haste for all of us..."

Brianna unslings her lute and quickly checks the tuning. Veracity stares at Kress. "You weak-minded fool! Do I need to force you to do what you need to do?" She attempts to dominate Kress - but his mind is uncharacteristically strong and she fails. "What?!" Veracity peppers the vampire who had charmed Kress with magic missiles. "Grr."

Brianna starts to sing. "I sing of the heroes of old and the heroes of today. You are heroes..." Several members of the party look at her as if she were completely nuts, but all begin to feel inspired.

Tebryn, having heard some muttering from the back of the tomb, as if somebody had been casting a spell, casts see invisible and spies the master vampire standing on one of the coffins. "Ah hah!" he exclaims, and peppers it with a volley of magic missiles. The vampire stares at him and curses. It then sends two lightning bolts in quick succession out the open doorway of the tomb. Hazen and Brianna each dodge the first one, while Veracity, Tebryn, and Yol all tingle with the electricity but resist the magic. The second bolt hits Brianna with full force. "Yowtch!" she yelps, and ducks around the corner, faltering only slightly in her song. Veracity, too, is somewhat singed by the bolt. She curses, staring at the spot where the bolts had come from, but, seeing nothing, draws her two swords and advances towards the vampire that had charmed Kress.

Yol steps up. "Bow before the priestess of Hel, goddess of the Underworld!" she says, rebuking the undead. Both vampire spawn cower in awe before her. Igor repeatedly strikes one of them with mighty slashes from his Great Sword and it goes gaseous.

Hazen, unnerved by the lightning emanating from near him which he had barely dodged, looks for the origin - and cannot see it. He hops up onto a coffin and down behind the vampire that had charmed Kress. He strikes it with mighty blows, staggering it, but does not kill it.

Veracity advances to finish off the vampire and Kress interposes himself. "Veracity, friends should not fight. You may not strike my friend!" Veracity stares at him, her mouth hanging open in astonishment. "I can't believe it!" She stomps out of the tomb and steps around the corner to find Brianna.

"I can't stand it. That weak-minded fighter succumbs to the weakest of all charms, cast by some wimp, and throws off my domination. I have been studying Enchantments for years. I am very, very good at it, and Kress just shrugs it off? Oh!" She stamps her foot in a fit of pique.

Brianna smiles at her. "Calm down, Veracity." She throws out her arms and pulls her close for a hug. Veracity relaxes.

Tebryn looks over at this little display and rolls his eyes. Shaking his head and sighing, he turns his attention back to the master vampire who had thrown up some mirror images. "Enough of this." He dispels the vampire's improved invisibility and mirror images, and quickly follows up with melf's acid arrow. "Oh, you felt that, didn't you? And you'll just keep on burning..." Yol hits it with some magic missiles.

Igor steps up and smites the now visible master vampire, driving it into gaseous form. Hazen finishes off Kress's grievously injured vampire, driving it, too, into gaseousness.

"Yes!" exclaims Tebryn. "That was easy enough! Let's look at those coffins."

"That wasn't fair," complains Hazen. "He wasn't supposed to be invisible too! It was quite a shock, so to speak, when that lightning bolt went whizzing by my ear! Well, having once been a vampire myself - briefly - I know it's not an easy 'life' and I'm happy to be able to help them dissipate all their troubles." Hazen holds his nose. "Phew! Now we'd better open this place up and air these boxes out before we are overcome by these gaseous forms!"

Without too much difficulty, Igor and Kress drag the coffins into the sunlight and open them up. The gaseous vampires had seeped into their coffins to recover, but seconds after they were struck by the bright rays of sunlight, they crumble into dust.

Meanwhile, Yol wanders over to Veracity and Brianna. "It looks like you were both scorched by that lightning. Do you want some healing?" Both nod and Yol invokes Hel and touches each in turn.

"Who is your Goddess?" asks Brianna. "I don't recognize that holy symbol."

"Hel, the goddess of death and the underworld," responds Yol. "What is life, but the preface to death? All is corruption in the end." She peers at Brianna. "You are still damaged. Shall I cure you some more?"

Brianna laughs nervously. "Allow me to cure myself." She sings a short tune and touches her own arm. The rest of her lightning burns heal.

Yol arches her eyebrows and stares at Brianna. "And who is your Goddess?" she asks.

Brianna smirks. "None." She looks over at the coffins being carried out by the strong fighters. "I want to see those." She wanders over to the entrance to the tomb and looks up at the lintel. "Look - over the door is a name. This vampire must have been 'Chahir'." She examines the lids of the coffins. "And the writing on the coffins says... hmm. It seems to be written in an archaic form of Common. It says..." Her brow furrows. "I don't know. I can't quite decipher it."

"A simple spell would let us read that," observes Veracity.

Tebryn waves his hand derisively. "Don't waste your spell. It's hardly likely to be worth your time. As Igor pointed out, this tomb doesn't seem likely to pertain to our real goal on this quest."

Within Chahir's coffin the party finds a bag of coins, both silver and gold, along with a garnet ring and a nice emerald. From the dust of Chahir himself, they collect a pair of bracers, a cloak, a ring, and a wand. Yol detects the magical aura of the items and concludes that all the items are of minor power.

"Minor or not, that ring's power would help me," says Brianna. Nobody seems to hear her, and Tebryn packs up the loot. "On to the mountain!" he says. Brianna sighs. She hugs herself and hunches her shoulders. Bowing her head, she follows without further comment.

Prev Top Next

Copyright © 2004 by Brianna Sollandry <brianna at hambo dot com> Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu
R'lyeh wgah-nagl fhtagn.
Created with
        Emacs Made on a