A wave of restlessness passes through the party, a shared feeling of itchy feet, and an unconscious decision is made to move on. After a quick breakfast, packs are stowed, weapons are sharpened, bowstrings tightened and spell lists finalized. Eyes are cast around the inside of the church one more time, and at least one, though likely more, lowered voice asking Morradin for guidance. A nod passes around the party, a few words of encouragement, and Ihsahn cracks the door to the blue haze outside.
The lack of breeze means there is still an oily, meaty haze throughout the village. This does nothing to subdue the ambiance of Hadley’s Hope, and possibly helps hasten the party onwards.
The mountain (for lack of a better word), lies about 3 or four miles away to the west and slightly to the south. As you approached the village the first time, from the side you saw, this just appeared to be another pile of rocks and boulders like those that litter and line the landscape. But, from this approach, you notice something different. There seems to have been a smaller hill or mountain here, at the heart of the pile, and the detritus has been stacked up the sides and around it, at least doubling or tripling the original size. It is through this rubble that the path Norad spotted winds, heading up the side, logically to the plateau of the original mountain.
Ishan: Thul, can you tell from here, is that Dwarven Construction or something else?
Thul: Thul stops in his tracks and givs Ishan the you stupid boy look
“Ishan if you continue to ask meh every time we wonder past a pile o rocks “did Dwarves put them there.” Im going to drop one on ye head n er sleep!".
You reach the beginning of the rockpile unobstructed, a gap in the Rubble large enough for two of you to walk side by side with ease. The top is open to what passes for the sky, with the rocks being about 15 to 20 foot high,giving you enough light to traverse the path ease, but enough shadowy corners to cause equal amounts of unease.
The path through the rubble is reasonably flattened and worn, indicating some use, instilling in Thuls mind the possibility that this is of Dwarvern construction, thought the width ( or lack of it) indicates this was more just for ‘personal’ use, for example lacking the stairs and slide sections that the path up to the landing platform had. The gradient isn’t to bad, the mountain only being about half a mile high or so, but the path cuts back and forth across the mountainside, causing the trek up to take another couple of hours.
About halfway up, a small tremor, felt in the pit of your stomachs, send a small cascade of pebbles and small stones down a rockface, causing everyone to start out of their reverie.
The unevenness of the rocks means that brief glimpses of the surroundings outside the mountain can be seen, but not enough to give any real indications of the layout.
Seems like an ideal place for an ambush, Norad, are you able to scout ahead and see what’s up there?
Norad responds with an almost imperceptable nod and is off up the path in an instant. The path ahead of him is straight, and reasonable will lit for the area, but he does a strange side of sidestep, and disapears into a small pool of shadow, and is gone, the sound of his bootsteps evaporating into the cold, still air.
Ihsahn speaks “this doesn’t augur will friends, I suggest we advance slowly”. He draws his sword and suggest the group advances slowly towards where Norad disappeared from
As you to this, Norad steps, silently, out of a shadow infont of you, a bemused smile on his face at your premature worry. The smile quickly fades from Norads face, as he reports on what he saw.
‘The path up the mountain continues much like you have seen so far,’ Norad says, ’ no major surprises, the only signs of life are some old spiderwebs on rocks. A few tracks of drow, but not many and not really recent.’.
‘The path plateaus out onto a resonably large,flat mountain top,’ he continues. ‘I am no dwarf, but this seems naturally flat, not like where we entered this damned place’. The outbreak of emotion and wild cursing from the normally stoic elf startles you all. ‘I could see trees around, both singles and in clumps, but these are nearly petrified, like thoses in the villiage below. Small rocky outcrops abound too. i could get a good view of the valley below and the lands infront of us from the top of the path too.’
He waits for a small second before adding ‘There seems to be two smallish structured of somekind towards the middle of the mountaintop.They were a little to far off for me to get a good view’. Norads exhales long and slow, and looks around. ‘What next, my freinds?’
Thul : Show me what you saw.
You reach the mountaintop with no issues, and the lay of the land streches out infront of you, for as far as the meagre light afforded here illuminates.
Beneath you can be seen the path that lead you Hadleys Hope, and beyond that is the northen road which leads away from the crossroad on that path. The northern path continues between a pair of the rock and boulder mountains that cover the area. The path leads away, and you lose sight of where it goes over the horizon of the planets curve.
This path leads directly to the silhouette of the mothership Sulacco. The mothership Sulaco, backlit by the skies purple haze, hangs just over the horizon like bricks don’t. Her gigantic size is slowly dawning on you, and the view from here confirms her spiderlike-ness, but with towers and minarettes adorning her shell, and extra legs/fangs compared to the smaller version you saw attacking the Nautiloid.
Scale from here is hard, but she is still easily the largest ’jammer you have ever seen.
Ishan: I got a bad feeling about this…..
The purple haze itself seems to brighten slightly as it gets closer to the Sulaco, intensifying directly over it, giving her sn unnatural haloed effect.
Ihsahn speaks “There must be something else that we missed unless the relic of yours is on the road in to the belly of the beast. Perhaps even directly underneath the Spidercraft itself. Maybe there is a reason that its anchored where it is”
The plateau you stand on is as Nordad described, fairly flat, but not unnaturally so. Small rocky outcrops dot the area, as do the same nearly petrified trees you saw in th village, standing alone or huddled in small clumps. Toward the middle of the mountain, two smallish structures ( for lack of a better word) can be seen. No real discernible shapes can be recognized, though you all agree that one is forward,.standing a small distance closer to you than the other.
Thul: Lets move up men. Jonny up front. Norad stay by shadow. Keep your elven eyes wary. Ishan in the mid with me.
Ishan: Agreed, perhaps the hermitage we seek is one of those structures.
Keep a look out for any more of those infected, ghoulish, abominations. Let’s aim to deal with them from afar this time around
You cross the distance ( about a mile) will no incidents, and very little effort. You slow up a little towards the end, as what you are approaching comes into focus. About 100 yards away or so is what appears to be a statue of some kind, which Norads elvish eyes discern to be of a dwarf. A couple of hundred yards behind is a large rounded mound of somekind, rising out of the ground.
Ishan: “A burial cairn” Ihsahn says “perhaps this lost artifact is interred with one of your people Thul. Is there someway we can divine it’s location without disturbing any graves unnecessarily? I would not want to incur Moraddin’s wrath by interrupting the eternal repose of one of your forefathers”
The statue is carved from one single piece of granite, with such precision, skill and an attention to detail that nearly brings a tear to Thuls’ eye. It is of a dwarf, about 8 feet tall(though to scale), in full armour, shield and battle axe in a protective stance, his eyes looking over your shoulder towards the villiage from whence you came.
He stands on a pedestal still made from the same piece of granite, which has an inscription carved into it in Dwarvish runes.
The burial mound has to large, stone doors at it’s front, which you can see from here are opened at what seems to be odd angles.
Ishan: "Are we too late? Has someone already plundered the tomb of its treasures?
Perhaps someone is down there now waiting for us. Thus, this is your holy ground, what do you counsel?"
Norad can determine a few different tracks of differing ages. The area has been walked flat a long time ago, presumably in the construction of the site, and presumably by dwarves. More recently, there are some bare footed drow-type tracks, and mixed in with these are some arachnid type tracks, with accompanying drag marks, but neither lots of these seem very recent.
“Should we proceed with caution? Johnny Alexei, Norad Ben, do you want to scout ahead?”
Jonny: Aye im in
Johnny and Norad approach the burial mound cautiously, Johhny taking point, with Norad giving cover and support, they pause briefly at the broken doorway, and you see Johhnys enchanted gauntlet flare, and shine into the darkness.
The pair enter the broken doors, and descend, heads bobbing down some unseen stairs. They are quickly out of sight, the tell-tale glow of Johhnys torch visible for a second, then swallowed by darkness. After 5 or so minutes, Johnny, then Norad emerge, slightly dusty looking, and Johnny becons you all over.
Jonny: The stonework is amazing, must be Dwarven..
About 30 steps down, the spiderwebs are pretty thick – but there’s a pit trap that’s been sprung with a stack of drow on the spikes… it’s about 40 feet wide… think we should go and check it out..
Ishan: How fresh were the bodies? Can we safely navigate over or past the trap?
Jonny: The bodies.. are… desiccated. Yes, the pit only traverses part of the room.. so we can navigate past. But we will have to be careful lest more traps are present
The stairs down will fit 2 abreast, thought a slight squeeze, especially when one of them is a big ball of misplaced rage and anger. The room after that, in johnnys opinion, is large/wide enough for everyone to stand side by side with ease.
Ishan: Right, glory awaits then my brothers!
Passing through the large, broken doors, you see the stone work Johnny described. The stairs, walls and ceiling have all been hewn out of the rock surrounding them with such skill and dedication that not a single blade stroke, work mark, seam or blemish can be seen. The stairs descend quickly, tso much that at the 10th step down, your heads is below the ground level above, taking the last of the (un)natural light with it. Cobwebs, hang by the walls, broken by Johnny and Norads previous excursion. The air is stale, dusty, with a slight bitter tang to it, the taste of an age, undisturbed.
At the bottom of the stairs, the corridor flares out slightly, giving the impression of a landing area, but this floor has gone, and the pit trap below has been revealed, spikes still glinting with deadly sharpness, their drow victims on show. The pit’s shap continues to flare out, widening to about fourty feet in width, when the floor of the room begins for real, a 10 foot gap in total to cross.
Thul: Ya know for all the horror we seen on this rock. I like it here.Ah mean , look at them spikes down there.
Thats what that is.
Every spikes a killer, no higgilty pigilty goblin pungi pit. nnoo this is a death trap.
Nothing worth seeing on the bodies in the pit, they seem to be much like most of the otheres, minimal clothing, no adornments. From the shattered tiles on the base of the trap, you can tell this flooring would have been made from interlocking tiles, giving perfect support if walked long them in the right order. Obviously, these drow did not…and the floor/trap cannot be reset without remaking the tiles. Johnny plays his torch over the room behind the pit, and it’slight is quickly swallowed by a combination of gloom, distance, and thick spiderwebs. The back of the room cannot be seen from here, but pillars of some sort can be seen running back down the middle of the room.
Ishan: How do we get safely across or around the Pit? Johnny Norad can you show us a safe way?
Jonny: backs up for a running jump…. shall I? So, ill head on over with the rope and lash a pillar. Ishahn can hold the other side while the others come across then leap the void too… Yeah? YEAH!
Ishan: Well the Drow bodies will break your fall, worst case scenario
The first pillar is set about 20 feet back, slightly off center to the right of the room. Again, like the stairs down,.it has been carved seemlessly out of the surrounding stone, ceiling joining floor.in one continuous peice. The spiderwebs here actually reqire.some effort to get through, but the amount of dust you dislodge while doing so show that they havent been disturbed in ages. The pillar is reached and a knot is tied securely.
Using nothing but natural ability and moxy, AlexeiJohnny ties the rope to the stone pillar with gusto, gives the line an exploratory tug,and gives the thumbs up to Ihsahn. Ihsahn leans back, taking the strain of the rope. It creaks loudly under the strain, but seems to hold.
With a nervous giggle Shadow steps up to the rope, and peers along it’s length. He looks at Johhny, then at Ihsahn, then back at Johnny, inhales deeply, and then sets his weight onto the rope. A slight grunt escapes from Ihsah as Shadow begins a slow, clumsy hand-over-hand Monkey climb across the rope. He reaches half way….
and hesitates for a second, the muscles on his thin arms starting to stand out, beads of sweat on his forehead. His breathing intensifies, and the group as a whole take a breathe,
Then, out of an unseen fold of his robe, a spider scuttles up shadows side, and sets its self on shadows shoulder. Before your eyes, his grip intensifies back onto the rope, and he starts to move with confidence, and quickly reaches the other side, landing deftly on his feet.
Alexei Johnny grins a smile of vindication, and beckons to Thul
Thul: Umm maybe lower meh into teh pit ill navigate across then pull me back up
Insahn lets out a mighty belly laugh, as much from relief as anything else. I knew you had a trick up your sleeve Mage. Thul, where’s your courage.Moraddin will protect you from the worst
Thul: Moradin gave mr brains enough to know never to take ye advice. And wisdom enough to know me own failings. Besides ah get to see teh spikes and skill o dis death trap up close with out having one lodged up me anus."
a subtle shudder goes through the universe at the mention of Thul’s anus. Ihsahn passes the end of the rope around his back, back towards the pits edge, and starts feeding it down the pits wall. He then digs in, as Thul slowly descends down the pit, jumping across effortlessly as the dwarf reaches the bottom. After a couple of minutes examination, Thul calls up to be hauled up the opposite side of the pit. After much groaning, farting and effort ( from Thul), he reaches the other side of the trap.
The group congregates on the other side of the pit, and Alexei Johnny scans the room with his enchanted torch.
The room is, as seen, about 40 foot wide, with two rows of columns running down the room at the third-point of the width on each side His torchlight is unable to find the back of the room, due to the thickness of the spiderwebs filling the space, though two open doorways, one one each side, can be seen alittle further down the room, obvious by the way they swallow the light.
some strange large,slightly elongated clumpy shapes can be seen through the gloom and webs.
The place is quiet as a tomb, not to use a redundancy.
The webs are reasonably strong, but they stickyness is nearly more of an issue. After a couple of swings, you need to spend nearly the same amount of time removing the webs from your blade.
Norad steps towards the webs edge, and casts a critical eye over the area. he nods, and kneels, and tilts his head, and stands tip-toe as he surveys the area as best he can. He then goes down and goes down on one knee and starts scratching in the dirt, working tragectories and areas of effect. After a couple minutes deliberation,.he stands and turn to the party. ’As solid as these webs my be, there is precious little in them to catch an arrow,.and hence catch afire. But, i have a solution, though not an ideal one…..
These clumpy shapes that adorn the web, i beleive that these my assist us. They seem to be spread around enough that if i aim for these,they should disribute the fire sufficiently. Any thought?
Ishan: What if they’re full of baby spiders? The last thing we want is to be drowned under a wave of vermin.
Is there one of those pods near enough by that Ihsahn can slice one open and see what’s inside to confirm?
Norad draws four arrows from his quiver of plenty, and rolls the head of each around in a nearby sheet of web, encasing the tip of each.
‘a spark at least then, mage?’ he asks.
with a literal click of his fingers, a small flame burns on the tip of Ben Shadows thumb.
As a group, the arrows are placed over this small flame, untill they catch, and one by one they whistle into the gloom, small whisps of web shrinking from their heat, each landing with a dry, scratchy, ripping noise.
for long seconds, nothing happens.
It begins as a small crackling noise, the echo from multiple points bouncing aound the room, confounding the senses. Four glowing points start to break through the gloom, growing quickly to a vaguely humanoid outline, flames visibly licking around the shapes like an aura.
Then the first explodes like a festival firework, quickly followed by another, then the last two nearly simultaneously covering the area aound them in sparks and burning debris, the webbing around them quickly, and quite effectively, catching alight.
The fire builds rapidly, consuming the webbing with gusto, untill a near raging inferno fills the back of the room.
Then it begins to burn forwards.
The party is suddenly aware of a breeze flowing from behind them, as the fire draws the air in from outside, feeding it’s frenzy. Orange light is reflected on warey faces, and a few nervous glances are cast around as the first wall of heat hits the party, singeing eyebrows.
The dwarf gulps, and sidesteps behind the barbarian.
As quickly as the inferno began, it dies out, its fuel quickly consumed, stopping mere feet away from the party. small motes of black ash slowly float around the party, as they all blink the flare marks from their retinas, and check each other for flames. Finding none, they all turn back to the room, and Alexei Johnny plays his torchlight around the room, revealing what lay behind the webs.