Many years into an alternate future, the adventuring group is known throughout the land. Having long ago laid to rest the vampire queen, having slain dragons, demons, and giants, fame and fortune follows in their steps. Receiving a summons from a king, the heir to the deceased King Pendar, the Rogue, the Barbarian, the Bard, and the Monk all travel to answer his call. With much hemming and hawing, the king reveals that there is a blight on nearby royal lands, the center of which is an ancient hill, believed to be the final resting place of Acererak, the Demi-Lich.
Many hard days travel brought them to the center of the tainted lands, a tall stony hill, rocky and desolate. Searching for a possible entryway, the rogue found one possible entrance. Cautiously prodding the ceiling, he leapt back, narrowly avoiding a cave in. Another entrance led to a compacting trap, from whence the rogue just barely escaped. Finding a third way in, barely large enough to squeeze through, the rogue entered the tomb. A long hallway led into the side of the hill, clearly the work of skilled craftsmen.
Brilliant colors are everywhere; pigments painted on stone are undimmed by the passage of decades. The floor is a colorful mosaic, featuring a distinct, winding path of red tiles forming a 2-foot-wide, meandering trail south down the corridor. A few chips and gaps reveal that cement or plaster covers the underlying stonework of the corridor, and it mostly provides a smooth surface for the many illustrated scenes.
The images depict fields with cattle grazing, a copse with several wolves in the background, slaves—human, orc, elven, and strange human- animal mixtures of pig-human, ape-human, and dog-human—going about various tasks.
Certain frescoes are more focused and show rooms of some building—a library filled with many books and scrolls, a torture chamber, and a wizard’s work room. Chairs, windows, boxes, bales, doors, chests, birds, bats, spiders, and all manner of things appear on the walls.
Tying a rope around his waist, he carefully walked down the hallway, and found that the precaution was well taken. Hidden pit traps were set into the floor at seemingly random intervals, and he nearly fell into several, coming face to face with skeletons, grinning among jagged poisoned spikes. He examined the paintings as he went, finding specific interest in the fresco of the wizard’s work room.
Two jackal-headed human figures in this painting are portrayed as if holding bronze chest—which is real, and protrudes slightly into the corridor! The chest is hinged on the bottom so as to allow the lid to swing down.
Avoiding a simple trap within the box, he pulled a hidden lever concealed inside, dropping the floor out from under him, leading to yet another spike trap! He called to his friends, still outside the tomb, to haul him back up.
Reaching the end of the hall, he found himself face to face with a massive green devil’s head, mouth gaping open, wide enough to step through.
A fork of the red tile path leads directly to a leering devil face set in the mosaic at the corridor’s end. The devil’s mouth gapes wide and empty—in fact it is dead black, emitting no hint of light and allowing none entry.
Deciding on the other fork, he called to his companions and began to inspect the curious sight along the second fork.
A section of the red tile path leads into a mist-filled stone archway. Three large stones are embedded in the arch. Each has a different hue—yellow on the lower left, bluish at the top of the arch, and orange on the lower right.
Touching the stones at random, the rogue found that the stones glowed as they were touched, clearly magical. He began to carefully try them out in sequence, finally finding the combination “Yellow, Blue, Orange” caused the mists to dispel and allow further entrance to the tomb. Stepping through the archway, he found himself in a strange new room, facing down a massive gargoyle statue.
A broken, 8-foot-tall statue of a four-armed gargoyle squats here, alone and in the dark. Its three remaining hands appear as if in positions of supplication, or need.
Searching for a way out, he discovered a crawlspace hidden behind the statue, just in time for the rest of the party to appear, having followed him through the arch. They squeezed past the imposing statue, finding themselves in another long, painted corridor.
The floor of this long, wide hall is inlaid with tiles, and the walls and ceiling are painted with figures of animals and strange signs and glyphs. Humans and humanlike creatures hold painted spheres, each a different color from the next.
Looking around, the party realized they had just emerged from a hidden passageway, disguised by the image of gold sphere, held aloft by a monstrous figure. Testing each sphere in turn, they first discovered a secret passage leading to a trio of heavy chests.
The chamber is bare but for three conspicuous chests, each about 4 feet long, 2 feet wide, and 3 feet deep. One appears to be of gold, the second is silvery, and the third is constructed of hardy oak banded with thick bronze.
Carelessly opening the wooden chest, after finding that it contained no obvious traps, the party accidentally summoned a massive bone golem, wielding two scimitars, their first company they had had since entering the deadly tomb. After putting the bone golem to rest, the rogue deferred to the barbarian for the opening of the second, the silver chest. Inside, lay a clear crystal box, seemingly of carved from a flawless diamond. Inside the clear box, lay a brilliant ring, glowing softly. Pulling the box free, the rogue was treated to a volley of spring loaded darts, but managed to avoid the worst of them. Finally, the barbarian opened the gold chest for completions sake, quickly slamming the lid back down on a massive nest of vipers.
Returning to the hallway, the party next ventured down a secret passageway, leading to a massive chapel.
Chapel accoutrements fill this chamber, including great wooden pews on either side of a central mosaic path that leads toward an altar on the far side of the room, which is separated from the pews by a wooden railing. Scenes of everyday life are painted on the walls, but all the people are portrayed with rotting flesh, skeletal hands, and worm-ridden orifices. Yet depicted amidst these disturbing portraits are various symbols of readily recognized benevolent deities.
Behind the wooden railing is an opalescent blue altar, which is set before a tiered dais that supports a well-carved and padded wooden chair. Two large brass candelabra, each holding five white candles, stand on either side of the dais. Two large white pottery urns, each stoppered with brass, sit in each corner. A human skeleton wearing badly rusted and torn black chainmail lies dead in the south- western portion of the room, one outstretched arm seeming to point into a mist-filled arch on the southern end of the west chapel wall.
Approaching the chair sitting on the dais, the rogue sat down in the heavy chair, and touched a glowing blue stone on the arm. As he touched it, a lightening bolt shot from the chair, down the center aisle, charring the wall opposite. Luckily, no party members were inside the blast at the time.
TO BE CONTINUED