Grand Duchy 85

Grand Duchy of Adventure

Session 85
April 1 - 13, 2016

Thieves in the Temple

Teserdain 27 Yarthmont

Milk Cows and Gift Horses

Earlier, before Remar entered the temple. 
Remar’s thoughts wander as he watches the others make their way into the temple through the rent in its roof. 
Wot’re ya doin’ ere, Rema’? 
Startled out of his reverie, Remar double blinks and turns to Stephan who is waiting with him outside the temple.  “Did you say something, Stephan?”
“Me?  No, nothin’, ” Stephan replied.  “I mean I -was- thinking though.  What do you think they’ll find in there?”
He flashes Stephan a quick grin. “Oh; thought you said something.  I dunno.  Likely the usual trouble-and-treasure...” Remar’s follow-on chuckle trails off as Stephan nods and already is engaging in conversation with one of the others. 
Ere ya’re, just collectin’ a bit o’ coin...ok some nice coin, but still...ya minimally contribute as if opin’ to not get anyun’s attention, ar keep it apparently. 
Remar looks at the others.  All of them, in fact, appear to be engaged in casual conversation as they watch Griff, Draven, and Iris reach the top.  He looks around nervously.  It doesn’t appear that anyone was speaking to him, but he could have sworn... 
Ah, so predictable, but tha’s good.  It keeps ya out o’ trouble. 
He slowly turns and looks around skeptically.  Seeing nothing, Remar starts to ask the others if they just heard that, but hesitates.  It’s probably just my imagination, he thinks to himself.  The last thing I’d want to do is draw attention to nothing. 
Oh, tha’s wot this be about - lyin’ low.  Ya’ always seem ta instinctively retret bok inta those ol’ abits, don’ you Rema’?  Gotta kep unnoticed after all...et mens a greata likelihood o’ avoidin’ the losh, eh?  I can relate. 
This time, spinning toward the direction he clearly heard the voice coming from…
Remar stares directly into the eyes of the horse whose lead he is holding.  He didn’t remember seeing it a moment ago, let alone it being here, nor holding its lead. 
Sure in this case the losh be relative, synonymous with a dagga’ in the ribs, or a claw-rent across yer chest, but it sure fels the same lotely, don’ it? 
A bit wild-eyed he stutters in the equines direction, “You...you..didn’t just…say something, did you?”  A side-glance at the others still shows they are otherwise occupied and paying no attention to him.
He reaches up and scrubs a hand hard over his face.  The sleep he hasn’t been getting lately must be taking its toll.  His fingers rasp a bit against the coarse bristles that apparently have been sprouting for a while now.  Hmmf.  Beard?  He suppresses a laugh.  Not only does it seem like forever ago that I started my excursion into the Atlan Tepes, but apparently I guess it really has been a while. 
And wot do ya ‘ave ta show far tha’ while?  Become quite the animal andler aven’t ya?  Some mage ya tearned out to be, though.  I’m glad, really.  I like the company.
Astonished and a bit fearful that this may be more than sleep deprivation, Remar whispers back. “How…how are you doing that, horse?  Reading my mind?”  What...what are you?
Ignoring him, the horse nags-on.   
Now them, they’s heroes.  They all go out, make all the ard choices, take all the risks,  invest more life-and-limb than ya.  It be alright though, ya still get paid an’ ya be safe...well mostly.  There was tha’ time wit the Werewolf…
Remar steps away and turns from the horse, thinking to get some cover and prepare a spell to blast this demon.  But as soon as he does so, he’s again nose-to-nose with the mare. 
Try not ta fret too much, Rema’.  Like I says, as it stands, yer mostly safe.  Ya be like their safe, prize...milk cow...ha!  Yeah, tha’s it!  Their milk-cow tha’ they tap inta whenever they ave the need. 
“I’m NOT a milk cow, now you stay back you sway-backed walking gluestick!” Remar hisses through clenched teeth. 
‘Ey tha Rema’; would ya mind passin’ on a spot o’ the ol’ flight spell?  We need ta get to the top o’ tha’ temple so tha’ we can thwart this greater evil an’ solve these people’s problems. 
Gee Rema’, could ya be a sport an’ Bolt tha’ chap over tha fer me?  Shame we ave to ask ya, I know. 
Rema’, would ya be a good lad an float the light aroun’ fer us so we can see betta?  After all, we need ta see in order ta make all these key decisions, an’ take care of ya, hahaha...  
I said stop! 
Rema’, be a peach an’ give the orses a good brushin’ while ya watch them for us now will ya? 
I’m warning you... 
Rema’, old still, we need some milk... 
Everyone else outside, now frozen in the middle of what they were doing, stares at Remar, hands to either side of his head and fingers entwined in his hair, following his outburst.  The silence that follows is deafening.  Marcel, still stares open-mouthed while the apple he was eating falls from his hand to the grass below. 
So wot’re ya waitin’ fer, then? 
The piercing sound of a wolf’s howl sends shivers down Remar’s spine.
“What I meant was, I think I’ll just go make sure Griffin, Draven, and Iris don’t need some additional magical assistance.”
And with that, Remar clears his throat, hurriedly cast a Flight spell on himself, and jaunts up to the top of the temple.

Inside the Temple

The snap, crackle and pop of burning zombie flesh and dry skeleton bones fills the air. Occasionally, loud impacts can be heard from the barred doors leading to the front chamber of the temple as the restless dead there continue to try to get through. Everyone breathes heavy for a moment, wiping sweat from their brows in the elevated heat of the chamber. Griffin goes over and retrieves his shot bolt from the unmoving Zombie. He grimaces as he wipes the undead gore from the tip of the missile. Remar ponders the large ball of fire he has crafted and whether he should expend the energy to keep it around or not.
Taking another quick look around after the immediate threat appears to have been dealt with, Remar breaths a momentary sigh of both relief and satisfaction.  “Well, that was...enlightening, wasn’t it?  There really is nowhere we go these days that doesn’t involve something...even reanimated corpses in this case... sneaking up on us, is there?  There’s gotta be a spell for that...let me just take a moment to check while I catch my breath; those others are held fast by the door anyway.  ” See?  I’m useful, definitely not anyone's’ milk-cow or anything!”

Griffin smiles, one eyebrow raising. “Of course you’re useful, man. You’re the go-to guy for all things magical.” He gazes around the chamber. “I’m going to sweep the door towards the outside for traps, then see if we can get the rest of the group in here.” Griffin proceeds to the doors on the south end of the chamber and checks for danger. Let’s see - where would I hide a trap if I were a crazed cult from ancient times…

Remar stutters and runs a hand through his hair.  “Th..th..thank you Griffin.  Um...since you are checking around the doors and all,  would you mind also taking a look at those back doors as well?  They were barred from our side...not that it seemed to matter anyway with these,” Remar pauses in speaking to lightly kick a piece of charred remains away from him, “manifesting from somewhere back there.  Actually, would you mind if I helped to ensure they weren’t placed there by some magical means?”

Remar and Griffin move slowly through the large chamber checking all of the doors for mundane and magical traps and find none. The whole process takes some time while Draven keeps an ear trained on the door to the south, listening for any signs that the undead on the other side might be making some headway at getting through the door. Iris stays near Draven and examines the architecture and decoration in the temple, letting out occasional exclamations of delight or astonishment. At the request of everyone else, she stays away from both the burning ring of fire and the dark altar at the north end of the room.

Under no such admonitions, Draven, satisfied that precious little is going to get through those doors without them knowing well in advance, decides that the altar needs some investigating. The whole place is so incongruous and not at all of a single vintage or style. Approaching the dark altar, he opens himself up to whatever feelings he might get about it, as well as more closely looking at the iconography for any clues.

The altar is large and black. It’s front is nearly 8 feet tall, slightly angled out from the top to the ground. It looks like it is made of some smooth, black rock polished to a shine. There are several long grooves running down the front of the altar and in the center, a large relief carving of a stylized Hutaakan head surrounded by a starburst. On either side of the altar, wide steps lead up to the higher, raised area behind the altar. The sides are smooth but appear to have some sort of lighter swirl pattern beneath the surface of the stone. From the raised area, the altar is only 2 feet above the floor. The back is straight up and down and smooth black. The top of the altar is a lighter stone and though it is smooth on top, it has the look of a very textured surface. In the center is a shallow, curved recession that looks like it would hold a large bowl or basin of some type. Around the center depression is a ring of intricately carved stone, though Draven has trouble seeing it clearly as it is too far away to see without leaning over and touching the surface of the altar. Examining the altar, Draven does not feel any type of unease or anything, though he is well aware that this space is sanctified to those other than his own.

Remar finds a spot to start resting a bit and watches as Draven moves toward the altar.  “Well, I hope you have better luck than we did, Draven.  As far as I can tell, there’s no magic involved in this whole area.  I don’t like not being able to explain how those other shuffle-stepping horrors moseyed on in behind us.”

Griffin ponders the huge chamber and its layout. There are numerous exits in addition to the huge dark hole in the center. “Right you are, Remar. Where could those undead have come from, folks? Did anyone see which direction they attacked from? I didn’t find any secret doors in my sweep, but I might have missed something. Barring that, I say we cover our flanks and check out this door to the east, see if it has any surprises behind it.”

“Well,” Remar swipes a hand downward over his beard and ponders.  He  started looking around the chamber right after Draven unleashed holy-heaven on those pressing the door.  “Facing toward the altar from this door these are pounding on, my best guess initially was that the others came from somewhere to the end of the hall to the left.  That’s why I wanted to light them up or at least block them off to the left side with that sphere of fire.  I thought they had somehow forced the door up that way, and was surprised to still see it barred.”

Griffin nods, “Well, okay, then. Let’s go check out that corner again.” He motions Remar to follow, then heads to the left hallway. He’s looking to see if the door has been opened recently, footprints from the undead they fought.

Upon checking out the ground near the large double doors to the left, Griffin is sure that they had been opened very recently and much of the dust is disturbed between the doorway and the corner at which the undead first appeared.

Griffin nods and holds up a finger, then whispers “As you thought, Remar, they came through here. Wanna check it out? We already know it’s not trapped.”

Remar nods back in the affirmative and then mutters more to himself, “I’m not sure how they came through a barred door...and then had the courtesy to bar it again after entering.”  He mumbles to Griffin, “Yeah, let’s take a look.”  He waives his arms about until he has Draven’s attention.  He then points to himself and Griffin and makes a thrusting hand gesture at the door they are reexamining.

Are ya sure takin’ the initiative be wise tha Rema’?  Don’ ferget the losh...

“Now hush, you.” Remar says.  Upon seeing Griffin’s expression, he adds, “No, no, not you...um...nevermind, let’s do this.”

Brow furrowed at the ancient but apparently inert altar, Draven joins Griffin and Remar at the door. Once briefed on the situation, he wonders aloud, “Is there a passage through the door that doesn’t involve moving the bar? Or do we have some sort of… Remar, are these doors at all magical? Or perhaps… illlusory?”

Both Griffin and Remar are quite sure that the doors are neither magical or trick doors. To satisfy Draven’s question, both men take a moment and re-examine the doors, coming up with the same results. Large, normal doors, barred from the inside.

Examining the situation with a sideways glance, Iris speaks up, “What if something on the other side just has some way of raising and lowering the bar? I mean, it doesn’t really make any sense, but all the evidence shows that these barred doors were opened and those blights came through, right?”

“I say we have a look on the other side. Might be the answer to our mystery waiting for us. And if nothing else, we're short one golden bowl…”

A disturbing thought coming to mind, Remar goes into his satchel and fishes out a writing utensil and something to write on amongst his personal basics.  “That reminds me,” he says as he hastily scribbles.  “Before things get too dangerous, I’d like each of you to have a basic copy of my wishes should something...untoward become of me..” He folds it in half, tears it, and hands Draven and Griffin each a piece.  “Griffin, you are more mindful of contract-like matters and Draven you spell better than I do, would you both mind checking it over to see if I covered the basic possibilities to make sure I didn’t miss anything?”  He puts the slightest emphasis on the last part.

Each note reads:
My apologies for the melodramatic tripe.  There is the chance that someone is in the room with us, unbarring doors and moving about unseen (remember that Minotaur?).  Ree isn’t with us for me to consult, and I didn’t wish to discuss it to arouse any more suspicion than this likely will.  I’m probably just being too paranoid.  Griffin, do you recall seeing any other footprints amongst the detritus and soot?  Draven, other than maybe flour or me smoking up the place with a spell if the situation proves necessary, is enhanced sight or somesuch something within your repertoire that wouldn’t be too selfish to ask the Divines?

Griffin tenses, covertly gazing around the room. Hmmm… He may have a point. He looks for swirling dust, listens for the odd scrape of boot on stone, even takes a sniff to see if there is the mustiness he has come to associate with undead in the air. Well, of course there is. You just chopped down a bunch of them.

Seeing Griffin make a face when he starts sniffing the air, Remar offers, “I could clean up the, uh...battle-stink in here if it bothers any of you.  I know how some smells can really get in the way of things, like those bats for example, and I can take care of it with the snap of my fingers.”

“Sure, if you want, that’d be fine.” Griffin watches Remar to see if this is a ruse to cast another spell instead.

Griffin waits, poised, as Remar does his magic. His eyes move, though he does not turn his head. The moments stretch longer and longer.

Finally, he relaxes and starts moving again. “Okay, I think we’re clear. Stay alert, but let’s check out this door. Let me reload, then we’ll pop the bar and see what we can see.”

Preparing to aid his comrade in case the need arises, Remar prepares to cast an Armor spell at the drop of a hat.  “I’ll do my best to cover you with a protection spell, Griffin, should we encounter danger.”  He also passes his eyes over this chamber one more time.  Did I  already check the ceiling and the rafters?

Door Number One

Carefully, the companions move toward the door, looking at each other to decide who will actually lift the long, metal bar from its brackets. Draven looks down at his one hand and shrugs. Griffin hoists his crossbow and likewise shrugs. Remar holds up his hands and wiggles his fingers indicating he is ready to cast a spell. “Fine,” Iris exhales and steps toward the door. She gingerly touches the door, pushing up on the bar. It does not move. She leans into it, pushing harder. It does not move. She braces her feet and shoves it with her whole body, grunting loudly. The bar does not move. “Um, guys,” she says meekly, turning to look at the others.

Griffin slings his crossbow and moves to assist Iris. “Okay, you take that side, I’ll try from over here.” Maybe it takes two two get this thing to work.

Even with two people, the bar does not even budge. There are scratch marks that indicate that the bar does move, but remains immobile at this time.

Looking over at Draven, Remar swallows that asks him, “Draven, you don’t suppose this temple could have spirits here...or even deities making things difficult for us until we track down and bring back that bowl, do you?”

“We’ve encountered stranger things. Had we not already checked, I’d have assumed they were magically barred, but there’s nothing that points to any sort of magical action taking place here at all.” Fumbling through his pockets, Draven turns up the needle from their infamous tapestry. “Maybe this is another time that this little artifact will have some relevance to the situation,” he asks, suspecting the answer will still be no.

Remar shrugs at Draven’s assumption, “Actually, I only searched for magical traps and those sorts of things. I can pick out those types of signs that indicate magical traps, but my current repertoire of spells does not allow me to detect active magical wards such as a door that has been Magelocked, for instance.” The young wizard smiles weakly at Draven. “You got any good tricks up that sleeve of yours?

Draven nods and flashes the needle in front of Remar’s face. “This has done the trick a few times recently, maybe it’ll work again.” He turns toward the nearby doors and thrusts the needle out toward them. Nothing happens. He steps closer, waving the needle back and forth. Nothing. Gingerly, he steps right up to the door and pokes the metal bar holding the door closed. Still nothing. It is Draven’s turn to shrug.

Remar turns his weak smile on Griffin.  “Are the hinges of the door on this side?  Or do you think the slats the bar is braced in are able to be removed with a crowbar or somesuch since they are on our side?  Or the bar itself at the hinge for that matter?”

Remar then looks at both Griffin and Draven hopefully and quickly speaks excitedly.  “I mean if not, and we have no other options...and you -really- want to try and get to the other side of that thing instead of looking elsewhere for that bowl, I could try to blow the bar...or maybe even the door off its hinges, though I’ve never tried something to that effect before, and I may need to rest for about 10 minutes afterward.”

“Allow me one last thing,” suggests Draven, and he calls upon the power of the gods to ascertain, once and for all, if any dweomer exists on the door or the bar.

As Draven concludes his first spell he nods, “Yes, there is a magical enchantment on the bar and door. I shall make an attempt to dispel this magic so we can see what lies beyond. Are we ready?”

Cast of Characters: 

Garrett "Griffin" Constantine, a Thyatian rogue of a gambler from Penhaligon rolled by +Arne Jamtgaard 

Draven Rickart, a Thyatian Acolyte of the Church of Karameikos ministered by +Jason Packer 

Remar Umerusan Alphatian battle mage that escaped forced service in the Thyatian army currently marshalled by +Patrick Kelly 

Iris Vardaa Thyatian explorer and historian searching for answers and adventure, now guided by +Stephanie Kelly 

and +Jason Woollard as The DM

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