Rappan-Athuk Reborn

Zhulkir's Lair

Some days the bear gets you…

It would figure that the end of a long and winding secret tunnel in the dark would dead-end into a nearly invisible secret door that is ferociously trapped. But there it is. The darkness was thick and foreboding. If it were not for the occasional orbs of light from Zorland or from Da’Mar’s sunrods, one might never find their way out.

But again there was a trap there. Three levers. All or one could be trapped. No way to know. Zorland, believing himself to be clever, gave the ninja a potion of gaseous form to better see what we were dealing with. That decision nearly killed her, as a strong anti-magic aura bounced her form back out of the lever holes and into humanoid form again.

Zorland decided on a more simple approach, casting light on a simple stone and tossing it in the lever compartment. Naturally the light winked out. And while the party pondered what to do next, the wizard uncharacteristically dove forward and reached the furthest right lever pulling it… and opening the secret door.

“Sometimes taking the initiative pays off!” he exclaimed, dusting himself off from the cobwebs and dirt that were in the hole.

“Sometimes stupidity kills,” muttered the paladin, rolling her eyes and stepping forward into the pitch black room that was newly revealed.

Spreading out – most of the company move along the smooth obsidian walls of this strangely shaped room. Four large jade statues stood in the center of the room, standing twelve feet tall and spaced out by about twenty feet.

Da’mar noted how quiet it was in this chamber and had taken precautions casting beneficial spells to his companions before entering this odd place.

The wizard, Iroh and others began to exam the statues, looking for writing or some indication as to what they represented. The Ninja made her way to the top of a dais near the back of the room where a lone sarcophagus sat unmoving.

She had no time to really exam that, however, as the door closed shut descending from the ceiling to the floor, blocking the druid from getting in. At the same time, two of the statues moved from their stoic silence and aggressively moved toward Da’Mar and the ninja.

“Golems!” Zorland shouted from across the room. “Iron golems! Try to keep back!”

The remaining group splintered off in different directions as the two golems took aim at everyone. Worse, and a diabolical shadow and laughter seemed to appear and disappear every so often. No doubt the occupant of this room.

No fierce battle was to be had here. As the entire company began to quickly realize, this was a struggle to survive.

Trying to stay ahead of the walking behemoths was no small task. Zorland muttered a few words dropping grease on the ground underneath them, hoping they would fall. Others threw objects, or climbed up upon them and smacked them in the head if nothing but to keep them distracted. Hitting them was simply not realistic.

The laughter and appearances of the shadow continued. Almost immediately, Dravina ceased all emotion and effort about her as a blast of darkness and twinkled light surrounded her vision and then finally draining her. To the rest, she just seemed to lose interest in the fight.

Soon after, looking for a way past the slammed door, Da’mar and the ninja made for the top of dais to try and see if there was a way out from there. Meanwhile Zorland reached into his tattered backpack and pulled out a rose colored stoppered vial. He wasn’t at all sure it would work – but for their sake it had better.

Not wasting time, he made his way around a golem swinging for him and threw the elixir at the stone door. It immediately began to wither and change, turning to large strands of flesh, tissue and blood vessels. Rather gross if you think about it!

Da’mar looked behind him seeing the work. “Brilliant idea, Zorland! We can burn our way out now!”

Naturally, being pawns in this game of the enemy, they needed another challenge to overcome. As the iron golems continued to close in on us, one of which had destroyed Dravina’s body, a wall of fire sprung up right in front of the new opening that was made.

And with no way to get inside the coffin, the only sensible thing to do was try and make it through the opening before the golems blocked the party in…forever.

Keeping everyone alive seemed almost futile as Da’Mar channeled and prayed to Sarenrae over and over, rushing to the door. Zorland managed to quench the wall of fire dispelling it but not before both golems made it there.

With Iroh and Dravina now dead, the only hope for escape now was to somehow make it past the clutches of these giant walking piles of metal and not be caught in the process.

Out of breath and also out of options, Da’Mar grabbed a lock of Dravina’s hair before running to the door, and as he drew close, blocked by a golem, Zorland, jumped up onto the top of the iron menace screaming! Da’mar and the ninja could do nothing but watch as he distracted it by jumping down – drawing its attention – allowing enough time for the ninja to pass through its clutches unnoticed, but at a high price.

Zorland was bludgeoned to death by a pair of iron fists slamming into his frail body utterly splattering him all over the room. It was as if someone took a warhammer to a cantaloupe.

Now in a state of near panic and no time left, Da’mar reached inward. Concentrating, calling out to his goddess. The end was near. If she deemed him worthy she would answer his prayer and if not. He and the survivors would die here. In this cold dark place.

The others that had made it outside looked back to see Da’mar, stammering, his eyes closed. It was hard to make out what he is feeling or what was being said. But their curiosity changed, as an angelic voiced filled the dark tunnel and obsidian room. Time stopped. Nothing could be felt or heard except the voice of a woman, wise beyond the count of wizards and elves and the surviving heartbeats of those that still lived.

“You have come further than most. You have sacrificed much, however it is not yet your time. I shall remove you from this place, that you may return as you once were or you may cross to the beyond. I will light the way. Decide now. And be Free.”

The stillness and the heartbeats seemed to last an eternity. Do you continue on, or if you fall, do you move on? Internal decisions being made by each of the company.

However, decisions were made.

The light that followed was so bright, the eyesight of the party didn’t come back for several minutes.

The stillness was replaced by quiet conversations from a dozen people nearby. The passing of a couple of horse and buggies over cobblestone. The shrill of several seagulls overhead and in the distance the sound of surf breaking against rocks and piers.

The air was fresh and filled with seaspray. Salt was in the air… And after still more minutes, the smells of freshly baked bread and pies, a nearby smelter where the sounds of metal being worked and the smell of smoke tinged the air.

The bright light finally dimmed. And as the party looked about to see the tall monumental arches of Magnimar and an empire long forgotten. They realized they were safe. For now. Da’mar was still standing there with his eyes shut when a friend gently grabbed his arm and guided him with others off of the bustling street.

No one spoke the rest of the way to the tavern and inn a few blocks distant. No one said anything at all…

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