Bearly Alive

Somewhere in Northern Tarlanor, 15th March 1626

The stairs at the back of the spiders' lair led straight down for some fifty feet, ending in an open archway crafted of white marble into a darkened room beyond. The arch had originally been worked with silver-inlaid glyphs and holy symbols of Shuskrah. They had been recently defiled and daubed with evil symbols written in charcoal and blood.

DM Note: For more information on the Fae Mhor, click here...

Caitlin, leading, lifted a hand to halt the party and stared up at the arch. The blood's not completely dry, she thought, this wasn't done all that long ago. The others, further up the stairs, looked over her head at the runes and sigils rather nervously. "I wonder what they mean," mused Krizzen. "Zaknrae'xundus waerr'mal, tu'nin ilttalin. Jarlress usaerthress aerth'ur - izzragvelve'suul udossat'elend ghaungaer'suul! It's obvious!" said Caitlin a little impatiently, then paused. "Looks like I speak another language," she added quietly.

From behind it, the shaken Yoshin spoke up. "Not a nice one," he said. "That's the dark elvish tongue; the language of the Fae Mhor. Have another look for traps."

Session Map

1. Caitlin did so, and declared the arch safe. Confidently, she shepped through - and the blood-marked rune at the very apex of the arch flared suddenly with black radiance which blazed down across the entire archway. Caitlin threw herself forwards desperately, evading most of the blast, but was still badly burned. Above her, the trapped glyph flared and vanished.

2. Rather tentatively, Krizzen and Yoshin edged through the arch, but the energy of the trap was expended and nothing happened. Casting a Mage Armour, Yoshin tapped Krizzen on the arm. "Something coming," he observed. Glancing up the passage, shapes came into view in the dimness, resolving themselves into four humanoid skeletons, their empty eyesockets constantly seeping blood down their bony faces. The companions had only a moment to stare at this horror, as the undead clicked across the stone floor and broke into a charge directly at them.

Caitlin braced herself, longsword drawn, waiting for their attack, while Yoshin sent the pale ray of a Disrupt Undead across the closing gap to blast some bits of bone off one of their foes. A moment later the skeletons crashed into the party. Krizzen ducked an attack and flicked a backslash at another as it passed him heading towards Yoshin. Caitlin put herself opposite one, smacking it with her sword and cutting free a rib. With no flesh to slash, the blade had less effect on them than Krizzen's morningstar, which crashed into his foe's face, shattering his skull like a dropped pot.

Yoshin backed frantically up, two skeletons converging on him, zapping one for a third time with Disrupt Undead and receiving a painful wound in return. Caitlin, too, was hurt, but fought on until her foe whipped its' club around to crash into her head. Her sword fell from her hand and she toppled to the stone. Seeing this, Krizzen spun and battered the clubbing skeleton back against the wall, breaking it in half. Yoshin backed up a little more, fending the bloody-faced skeleton off, his attention on Caitlin. A moment later Krizzen smashed the undead down, freeing Yoshin to drop to Caitlin's side and force a healing potion between her lips. The magic coursed through the Tellaran girl's body, mending bones and knitting flesh, and she was sitting up by the time Krizzen had battered the last skeleton to bits.

All three were badly battered, and elected to return to the upper level and fortify themselves in the Knight's tomb to rest and recuperate.

Somewhere in Northern Tarlanor, 16th March 1626

Untroubled save by disturbing dreams, the three resumed their quest the next morning, feeling stronger and with Yoshin's magical energies back at full power. Returning to the lower level, they examined the room where they'd fought the skeletons a little more closely.

2. This room must once have been an antechamber to the burial halls. A pair of strange stone protrusions, probably once basins for holy water but now smashed and desecrated, flanked the inside of the archway. Tattered shreds of ancient tapestries depicting Shuskrah hung on the walls or lay beneath them, plastered like the walls in more filth, blood and foul symbols.

Carefully exploring along the passage, the companions discovered a right-hand side passage and - a little further on - a secret door. This was very poorly hidden, and a variety of runes on the wall looked as if the opening of the door would break them. Caitlin spent some time examining this, finally declaring it to be trapped, and then managed to disarm the trap safely - a major achievement for an amateur trapspringer.

3. To start with, the group headed down the side passage. At the end was a room 15’ wide and 10’ deep, with a battered stone table in the centre. Deep marks were gouged in it, but it looks more like a desk than an altar, and the marks recent rather than ancient. Behind it, still suspended from two rusted chains, was a huge bronze gong five feet in diameter.

Caitlin looked at the gong with eyes dancing with curiosity, and even Yoshin gazed at it speculatively. Krizzen had to hint at moderate violence for both of them before he could get them to leave it alone and ungonged.

6. The far end of the main passage opened into a large hall with side-passages opening off to both sides, with steps down visible through the archways. Larger corridors went off ahead leading to stairs up. In the centre of the room stood two enormous animal skeletons, unmoving, but radiating a distinct sense of menace. Caitlin recognized them as the remains of two cave bears.

The three gazed at the skeletons for a while. Then Yoshin spoke. "Er, no," he said, "let's try the trapped secret door instead."

4. Opening the secret door, Caitlin ventured carefully into the narrow passage on the far side. It ran straight for thirty feet and then curved out of sight. As she walked down it, it dawned on her that the temperature was dropping rapidly. Her fingers began to feel numb, and her lashes froze. Puffs of condensed breath filled the air in front of all three. A moment later, she felt her skin begin to hurt as the temperature of her metal armour plunged down towards freezing. She stumbled back into Krizzen, who was also gasping at the pain of sudden frostburn. Yoshin, merely chilly in his leather and wool clothes, was already backing away as the two warriors, rimed with frost, turned and fled headlong back down the passage, slamming the secret door shut behind them.

Gasping for breath, Krizzen looked over at Caitlin. "Bears?" Caitlin nodded firmly. "Bears."

6. Standing at the edge of the doorway in, the three regarded the bear bones mounted in the room's centre. All were quite sure that the things were going to animate and attack as soon as they entered, and all they could do was prepare. Caitlin was keen to throw rocks at them, as she had the zombie knight, but the others dissuaded her.

Finally, Krizzen at the front, they stepped into the room to confront the inevitably animated skeletons.

Their coming to 'life' was completely expected. What no-one had expected was how fast the bear skeletons were. Krizzen only just got his bludgeon up to the garde in time as the two skeletons both bounded across the intervening space and bore down on him. Their speed put Yoshin's aim off and his Distrupt Undead went wide, as did Caitlin's swing with her sword. Adjusting, she belted one on her backswing, and it promptly changed targets from Krizzen and attacked Caitlin instead.

Behind the two, Yoshin kept up a barrage of Disrupt Undead spells until they were all expended, then switched to Magic Missiles, his increasing skills with his magic allowing him to control two of the darting bolts with each spell.

Krizzen weaved, struggling to get a good strike in, while the bear tore at him with its' claws, ripping through his armour twice to inflict deep wounds. Caitlin's sword chipped off some bones in a couple of places, but then the massive jaws closed on her neck and the bear shook her like a puppy before dropping her in a pool of blood. Turning, it lunged towards Krizzen, but a well-placed Magic Missile from Yoshin smashed its' spine and it dropped, the remains of its' skeletal form unable to anchor the necromantic magic that made it move.

DM Note: At this point, Terie and Lizzie really needed good rolls, despite being dogged by crud dice all game; Terie to finish the bear before it splattered her helpless friends and Lizzie to stabilize Maddie in her last 6 seconds of life. Both came up trumps!

The sorcerer glanced back and forwards between Caitlin and the bear skeleton. His friend was obviously dying. He could kneel down and try to save her, but that would leave him open to the thing's attacks. On the other hand, if he and Krizzen fought the skeleton together, the Tellaran might die of her wounds before they could finish it off. Deciding in a blink, he lifted his hands and wove another Magic Missile, blasting two more holes in the skeleton before clawing his first-aid kit out of his belt and dropping to Caitlin's side. Next to him, Krizzen rolled his shoulders and took his morning star in both massive scaled hands, bracing his feet for an all-out strike.

The Gods smiled on the three friends. As Yoshin bore down on Caitlin's slashed neck, staunching the flow of blood, Krizzen drove home a mighty blow straight into the bear's face, smashing most of its' upper half into bonemeal. The skeleton crumbled as Caitlin's bleeding stopped and her eyes flickered weakly open.

Session Date: 13th April 2013