Masters of the Universe

What Lies Beneath?

Session 3, Part 2/2

The party listened intently for sounds on the other side of the iron doors, but heard only silence. Zanne inspected the door for signs of traps, but found none. Tim Frostbucket inserted the key they had found and, with a turn, the tumblers fell in place. Pushing the door open revealed a small room with a small statue on a pedestal of a dwarf hammering at a forge. The statue’s raised fist was empty, where a smith’s hammer might be. As the party looked around the room, they noticed a faint boot-print that disappeared into the south wall. Those versed in religious studies noted that the statue was a depiction of a dwarf god, and that this room was probably used for religious offerings. It would have been typical for followers to come here and make offerings, and when the iron doors were sealed, someone might come through a hidden passage and remove the offerings in secret to give the impression that the god had received the gifts. Jonbon thoughtfully rummaged through his pack and produced the hammer totem that Garwin had given them. It seemed to be the exact scale of the statue before them.

Jonbon placed the hammer totem in the statue’s empty fist and with a slight twist of the hammer, the section of wall where the footprint was discovered silently slid open. A short passge opened to another room that was similar to the one they were standing in, except where the smith’s statue would be, instead it lay in a pile of rubble. Beyond the room was a large staircase the spiraled downward about 15-20 feet, obscured slightly by a fog or smoke. Jonbon pulled the hammer totem from the statue and the passage remained open. With a trusty sunrod in hand to light the way, the party began descending the stairwell.

Half way down the stairs, our heroes noticed the dark fog beginning to thicken. The smell was not of something burning, but had a stale odor to it. At the bottom of the stairs, a large chamber opened up, but was obscured by the dark cloud. Visibility was only good out to 25 feet, but the chamber appeared to be a burial chamber of sorts with racked burial plots and large arches rising upwards from the sides of the room to support the arched ceiling 20 feet overhead. Ahead in the smoke, there was a faint hissing sound of air passing through an opening that seemed to be dying.

The party moved into the smoke cautiously, Tre flanking the west side of the room inspecting the alcoves, and Zanne doing the same on the east wall. Tim and Scragg sought out the location of the hissing noise. The sound seemed to be emanating from a little casket, about 12 inches long, which lay on the floor and was now sputtering plums of the black smoke. Near the casket was the fresh corpse of a dwarven miner with his eyes gouged out. Jonbon steped forward to get a better look and had a sinking feeling as he figured that the miner was probably used as a sacrifice to unlock whatever was held within the casket.

Suddenly, Jonbon, Tim, Scragg and Zanne, the closest party members to the chamber entrance, were struck by an agonizing blast of force which left them all immobilized. Zanne and Jonbon were closest to the attacker, and they could see through the smoke, materializing into sight from making the attack, a black-bearded dwarf in robes standing atop one of the burial racks. The dwarf spat at them,

Fools! My divinations foretold me of your coming. I can thank you pathetic stooges for doing what my dragon failed to, returning the totem and releasing me form this forsaken tomb. You shall, however, pay for destroying my special pet. You can perish knowing that you have sealed the Realm’s fate by aiding Durnog as your last deed.

A dark purple glow then surrounded Durnog as he floated out of the room and rose up the staircase. As the dwarf exited the room, descending from the ceiling were five reapers, cloaked in hazy dark robes and carrying spectral scythes. They seemed to blend with the smoke that hung in the air. As they attacked, the heroes could see gaping, empty eye sockets on the shadowy visages under the reaper’s hoods.

The reapers were heinous foes, immobilizing the heroes as their blows landed and preventing the party from making a well-formed line of attack. Zanne seemed overcome by the terrifying, unnatural creatures and was unable to find a mark with his double sword as he swung helplessly into the air. Scragg became furious with rage and began to cut into the reapers with his devastating warpick. Tim, fought to hold the attention of as many reapers as he could while Tre pounced across the room to aid Zanne. Jonbon did what he could to lift the spirit of his friends in this dark hour. As the battle raged on, a violent tremor began shaking the tomb as bits of rubble fell from the ceiling.

As the dark smoke began to dissipate, the reapers became more distinct and the MotU were able to gain the advantage. Scragg cleaved a reaper with a might blow and vanished from sight. Bloodied and wounded the heroes fought on, vanquishing the other reapers. With one reaper remaining, its dreadful scythe caught Tre Hoogar and he collapsed. Avenging him, the heroes focused all their attacks on the reaper and sent it back to its own vile plane of existence. Jonbon quickly attended to Tre and brought him back to consciousness.

As the rumbling and tremors of the earth subsided, dust and dirt rained down the stairwell.

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