Halmary and Eshan make their way to the wooded slope, where a tree stands burning away. There is no sign of life and in the night, there is little to see beyond the fire. They search the woods, and come across a clearing of charred earth, with a 20’ spire in the middle, surrounded by a patch of wild grass dotted with daisies. It’s hard to make out, but there seems to be a door in the spire. Leaving Eshan to watch and guard, Halmary attempts to cross the charred circle, but as soon as he crosses the threshold he feels intense heat; so hot, that his clothes begin to smoulder and his hair singes, even with the Ring of Fire Resistance he wears. He steps back, and the heat dissipates. The cleric sets his own beacon by placing a continual light on the edge of the circle, then the two of them huddle down amongst the trees and wait to see if anyone comes looking: as someone set fire to the tree and Halmary’s goddess did say that he would meet his party here (as this seems to be the place she mentioned).
Sure enough, after a few hours, he is discovered by an invisible Sindi, who scouted ahead as they rest of the party waited on the edge of the woods. After their devastating attack in the foothills, they decided to break camp and make their way to the woods where Sindi had lit a tree on fire. Reunited, they swap stories (albeit briefly and without going into too much detail), and Halmary shows them a map he found in the caverns he was trapped in, which seems to show the place they’ve now found, and which seems to be the place that the nomads told tales about at the camp; to quote:
Legends dating back to before the Suel Imperium speak of gods that once walked the land, subjugating the savages and tribes that lived in the region now known as the Sea of Dust. These tribes rebelled when they discovered that the gods bled and could die, and became hunters and slayers of their former deities. Those gods that survived did so by retreating and sealing themselves in vaults hidden beneath the earth, where they placed themselves into hibernation, waiting for the right time to awaken and reclaim the land.
One such vault is said to lie beneath The Blackened Spire, a shrine of rock, blackened as if from intense heat, that stands in a clearing of charred earth, amidst some woods on the slopes of the mountains to the east. There is said to be a tunnel leading from the vault, which cuts through the rock beneath the mountains, coming out into the jungle on the other side of the volcanic range. No one knows what lies within the vault, but the passage through the mountains is said to have been dug to allow the sleeping gods a safe egress should they ever been found and hunted again.
The Blackened Spire lies directly east. If you point towards the sun as it crests the tallest peak in the morning, after a day or two of hiking through the foothills, you come to a wooded slope that climbs the foot of the mountain. There, in the centre of a charred clearing, lies the shrine.
They settle down for the night, setting guards as usual, and refreshed and undisturbed, they awake next morning and investigate the blackened spire. After probing, levitating and throwing sticks, they quickly deduce that the spire is enclosed by a hemisphere that contains immense heat: enough to incinerate a thrown twig, cause clothes to smoulder and burn, and would no doubt cause some nasty burns to anyone who tried to walk across the charred ground. Calibos again tests it using Halmary’s Ring of Fire Resistance and quickly steps back, armour heating up and his hair smoking. Halmary tries to dispel magic, but it has no effect. They then search the woods and immediate area for alternative ways inside, or secret doors, but find nothing. They break for lunch, Halmary conjuring food & water, and afterwards Calibos remembers that he has a scroll of Ward Against Magic_. They try it out, and success! The circle of anti-magic allows everyone to cross safely. At the door, which bears an engraving of a scarab beetle, Halmary Finds Traps_ and identifies glyph of warding on the carving. They dispel it, and Halmary forces the door open.
Inside is a small chamber, tapering to a point 15’ up. Along the wall, in niches, are tall obsidian statues of scarab-beetle headed men, similar to the golem that they fought in the nomads’ camp. There is also a pit, 10’ wide, descending as far as they can see. They drop a coin enchanted with continual light and the shaft goes 120’ down before it opens into a room or corridor. Sindi and Ungrid, using their Boots of Levitation ferry everyone down, into a corridor capped by stone doors, again with scarab beetles engraved on them. Five alcoves line the corridor, each with an obsidian statue, 10’ tall, beetles for heads. Halmary detects no traps, but everyone is obviously wary of the statues; prior experience has earned them the right to be wary. The air is chilled, and as they crossed the threshold of the pit, everyone felt a shudder through the stone, their flesh and bones, that was there and gone, leaving them feeling like they were trespassing.
Guessing that the tunnel through the mountains lie east, they head to the eastern door, arranged in battle formation. Calibos opens the door: beyond it is a corridor, that stretches 30’ to an archway, and beyond the arch, the tunnel goes on for as far as the eye can see.
And as soon as the door swings open, the statues come to life and move to attack!
One of the statues punches Wulsted, but the barbarian rolls with the punch and bounces back to his feet, merely bruised. Xellos and Eshan hurry through into the new corridor, as the others cover the retreat and fail to land a blow, their weapons failing to cause a dent in the thick bodies of the statues. Then another statue pummels Halmary with both its fists, almost forcing him to his knees. Something cracks, and Halmary has to lay on hands as he struggles to stand, feeling those punches…
End of Session
No kills, but no deaths either, and both NPCs still alive.