When last we left off, we had checked the whole first level of Errin’s Tomb. There were several in the team who now had enough: After all, we had heard of the horrible fate of three goat-men when they met a flying skull and a ghost, and we did not want to share it. But Reinaldo felt that it would be too fast and useless to retreat without ever even looking. After all, what would we have when we came back? It would be good to gather at least some intel.
“Just one peek”
“Let’s just take a quick peek.”
Jasper was on board with that: He wanted to retrieve the personal effects of his fallen friends. The others agreed when they heard that their job would be “standing guard at the top of the stairs”. Reinaldo just went with his retainer Defre, Dirk the acolyte slash grave robber, and Jasper the goat-man.
They found the dead goat-men strewn about right at the foot of the stairs. They had been cut down on the run, in quick succession. That spoke of a mighty foe — but that foe was nowhere to be seen. What was seen was a door to the left, and a corridor that went on into the darkness ahead. “Let’s just take one quick look through that door,” said Reinaldo.
“Just one more step”
While Jasper picked up the personal pouches of his friends and Dirk held a light for him (and offered their three leather armors and three short swords to the humans), Reinaldo and Defre sneaked to the doorway to the left and found a grisly thing: A suspicious looking heathen effigy, a three-foot-tall statue with antlers, a wand, and a short spear. Around it, there were various pots and bowls with offerings, and it wore an amulet. Reinaldo felt an instant dislike against that statue. It did not belong here. And arrayed around it were ten stones with inscriptions: A warding circle. Great!
To the north, though, there was something more: a doorway.
Reinaldo looked along the corridor and at the statue. Nothing moved.
“Let’s just take one look through that door.”
While the GM kept reminding them of the gold in the offering bowls, Reinaldo and Defre ignored those and went looking northward. Dirk and Jasper covered their retreat. The two clerics found a circular pool with clumps of goo and slime in it .. and the glint of lots of metal in the murky depth. Not very deep, though.
Reinaldo was not happy with that slime, but he wanted to know more. He went back and tried to trick Grimble the Sayer up on top of the stairs: “Say, what is your star sign, Grimble?” Grimble answered, surprised. “Nice!” lied Reinaldo: “I have read that this sign makes you great for handling water challenges!” He described the pool.
Grimble was not convinced, but he and Colbin came to take a look. Indeed, Grimble agreed, that glint of metal was worthwhile… however, he felt he was not the right person for splashing around in water. Instead, he convinced Colbin to check the metal. After the promise of the party staying with him to save him in a pinch and an extra gold coin on top of his usual pay, Colbin agreed. The con man slowly lowered himself into the pool, while Grimble, Reinaldo, Dirk, Defre, and Jasper watched over him. Eostre and Ephre watched the stairs, Reynard and Gerd minded the mules.
Reinaldo’s fears proved to be well-founded: The slimy flakes in the pool assembled to form the classic “Green Slime”, and they attached themselves to Colbin’s back while he handled the treasure (and treasure it was).
The party started yelling, Colbin started trying to get rid of the slime, but so it got onto his hands and started dissolving them with acid! Quickly, Grimble pulled his shocked retainer out of the water. Reinaldo shouted: “Fire! We need fire!” But he did not want to set Colbin himself aflame. Instead, he shattered an oil flask on the ground and put fire to that.
“Colbin! Go into the fire! Burn your hands! It is the only way to save you!”
“You want me to burn my hands??” asked Colbin incredulously.
“YES!” Reinaldo reaffirmed. “We will heal you. But you must get rid of the slime.”
Colbin did it, and the slime died! Colbin took 3 HP damage in the process. (would have killed Grimble)
Then Defre used his spell: He healed Colbin … and managed to heal him completely. All good.
Meanwhile, the whole party gathered to check the pool and discuss options. In the end, we poured two oil flasks into the water and lit the oil up. Despite the water, the heat sufficed: The green slime in the pool turned to brown flakes and died. “Hooray!!”
Colbin had enough of water, though, so Grimble now stepped in, while Reinaldo held him, and then he scooped up gold and a silver dagger!
Nobody watched the corridor, though, and that’s when we heard a weird cackling from there, and something came to the door. “Oh shit!” said Reinaldo. “Our exit! Sounds like a witch. Maybe Eostre can talk with her, get her to cool down!”
Eostre was taken aback: “What on earth makes you think I could talk with witches?”
Reinaldo shrugged: “You seemed to get along swimmingly with …. uuuh! Look at that!”
It was not a witch after all, it was the flying skull!
Eostre and Ephre went into melee, Grimble shot an arrow — and missed. But Reinaldo called upon Clobrek to scare the skull off — and rolled a 9 on “Turn Undead”. That was the ticket: The skull shrieked and sped away, down the tunnel into the darkness.
Colbin’s armor had been damaged by the slime, so he got one of the goatmen’s armors. And we dragged all the loot so far up to level 1 for Reynard and Gerd to watch. Meanwhile, Dirk looked at the effigy and declared that he might know how to handle the warding.
Clerics versus the Idol
Reinaldo devised a plan: Dirk as the expert would break the wards with his secret knowledge. Reinaldo and Defre would stay here at the door, guarding his exit. The rest would secure the stairs. Should anything weird happen, Dirk should run like hell, the clerics would shield his retreat.
He agreed. Then he looked at the stones carefully…. and then just pushed them out of line before turning and running like hell.
Reinaldo was not impressed. “That’s how expert level looks, is it?” he asked. Any toddler could have done that. He went forward to take a look at the little effigy with the antlers. The warding seemed to do nothing, and it had not resisted being destroyed. But still, Reinaldo felt a strong animosity to the statue. So he pulled out his mace, and to everyone’s shock, smacked it right on the head. “Better now than after it starts taking stabs at us!”
The idol splintered into hundreds of shards, and only wand, spear, and amulet remained. And the sacrifices. More loot, which we also brought up to Reynard and Gerd. We also kept the ten rune stones of the warding circle, which might serve as a portable alarm system in the future.
Reinaldo made sure nobody was ever alone down here, every guard post was manned by two party members, and every trip to carry things up the stairs was done by two together.
Going on north felt to risky to everyone, so the group thought about retreating. “We have done enough here,” some said. “Going north into that dark corridor after the skull, that seems like a bad idea.”
But Reinaldo did not have enough: “Let’s just [again with the “just”!] quickly use the time before the skull recovers and check the south and west wall of that idol room for secret doors.”
With a sigh, the others went … an indeed, there was one! Reinaldo levered it open with a crowbar and they found the back of another secret door that led into a new room — one with a marble statue with sword and shield, standing guard against an entrance from the north. To her left was a stone double door, looking important.
Eostre wondered if we should not make amends for disturbing the quiet of this place. Reinaldo thought nothing of that and explained that we had done nothing wrong to make amends for: We had only destroyed an undead fiend and a heathen idol that had no place here. We were good!
But Eostre felt that we needed to do better, and so she addressed the statue, laying a bead from her hair down at its foot.
And she got an answer! A female voice asked in her head: “What makes a true knight?”
Eostre thought: “Valor!” and the statue sighed in agreement… but expected more. Eostre had, as a small girl, looked up to knighthood in awe; and although the real life knights she later saw seldom measured up to the ideal, she had never forgotten the tenets of the call. And even though she had not seen the statues from above herself, their message was strong in her mind: “Valor,” she repeated in her thoughts, “Piety, Wisdom, and Duty.”
“Correct!” said the statue, and opened the stone door.
A Knightly Heart, in Iron Clad
Reinaldo and Grimble, who had thought a bit more shadily and had tried to sneak past the statue for fear of her disapproval, to find a way to crack the door like thieves, were surprised as it just swung open. Eostre’s courageous honesty had prevailed over their serpentine sneakiness.
Muttering surprised praises for Eostre, the group entered the room and found it a crypt, with a stone sarcophagus of Errin, the bold hero who’s name was now borne by Errinsford. Wall carvings told more of his life, and his death, depicting him on his deathbed and a procession with his casket. Statues of loyal dogs symbolised his loyal spirit.
“If we find a plate armor in here, it sure belongs to you,” babbled Reinaldo. Careful not to be disrespectful, the group shifted the sarcophagus’ lid, and found the mortal remains of Sir Errin … in plate armor! The plate armor was a bit aged, but still serviceable. The sword, blessed and strong, gleamed like new, testament to its magical properties.
Careful, the team lifted the sword and the body out, and removed the withered skeleton from the plates. The clerics carefully bedded Sir Errin back into his eternal rest, closed the lid, and prayed, and re-dedicated the sarcophagus to its purpose with the use of a flask of holy water.
Meanwhile, Grimble, Colbin, and Ephre helped clad Eostre into the set of plate mail, and girded her with Errin’s sword. A hero rose … and our quest to destroy the Beast of Errinsford, which was until now more of an excuse for looting than an actual actionable goal, suddenly started to look tangible.
Top image: Photo by Razvan Cristea on Unsplash