With the apes repelled, and the most serious injuries attended to, we picked up where we’d left off last week. Most of this week’s session was devoted to searching through this level for more signs either of the Emerald Claw, or for the cipher that would reveal the secrets of the two pyramids. The biggest worry at first was that more of the dire apes would come to investigate, but the few still roaming on the outer layers of the temple level seemed disinclined to pursue them.
This was probably just as well, because turning a corner brought them face to face with another pair of cockatrices. It was becoming clear that they were relatively common in this part of the country. Gear – Ruin’s wolf companion – nearly came to a sticky (or perhaps lithy) end as he came to his druid’s defence but the foul creatures were quickly despatched with minimal injury.
The tall dark hallways were relatively clean of traces, though some of the lonelier areas had managed to accumulate enough dust to be noticeable. Two recent victims of the cockatrices from among the ranks of the Emerald Claw were found in front of a doorway to one such area. Working on the assumption that their opponents had not yet found the cipher, they decided to try anywhere that looked undisturbed as a priority, so they forced their way in.
The dusty chamber beyond seemed to have once been an ancient library, with most of its contents having long since decayed into dust. Within that dust lay the remains of a grey render, fallen into undeath as a zombie by whatever strange magics were still lingering in this building. The zombie grey render lurched out from under the drifts of dust and began to try and eat the adventurers.
The fearsome bulk and reach of the creature were intimidating, but the adventurers rushed to put the creature down, despite the crushing blows and fearsome bite with which the zombified creature lashed out. Only minor injuries were sustained, though fire spells cast by the druids and the mage ensured that any hidden paper treasures did not survive the encounter. A further encounter as they explored with a couple of wandering dire apes ensured that they didn’t relax as they explored, but things remained relatively quiet until they found another set of undisturbed doors.
Up until this point, their progress had been careful, with plenty of time taken to check for traps, locks and suspect mechanisms. For some reason though, having opened the outer sets of doors, the group rushed towards what looked like one final door, only to trigger a pit trap in front of it. Most of the adventurers managed to fling themselves to safety, but Kurtis, Bumperklart and Quilynn were not so lucky. They fell into what turned out to be a razor-lined pit that rapidly ejected them into open space some hundred and fifty feet above the ground.
Quilynn took some minor damage from spikes and protrusions in the chute, while Kurtis was able to flip and shift between the worst to avoid injury. Bumperklart was wearing so much armour that the spikes and razors broke off. Fortunately, the drop beyond the chute held no fears as all three had the rings of feather fall won during the airship battles in the pursuit of Lucan.
The rest of the group were still trying to work out how to reopen the pit or neutralise the mechanisms when they got back up to them, and for Kurtis it was a matter of moments to isolate and disable the trap. The door’s locks surrendered shortly after and then they had opened the vault it had all been protecting. One further trap awaited, centred on the pedestal within, and Kurtis again detected and neutralised it.
A gold hoop, about a foot across, filled with crystal lay on top of the pedestal – could this be the cipher for which they had been searching?