The previous day's encounter with the undead, whilst profitable, has left everyone tired and sorely wounded. They decide to spend a full day at rest to recover (with the aid of the cleric's spells). They amuse themselves by singing elven songs, which involves much teaching of them to Aldira -- and trying not to laugh at her accent. She speaks very fluently, but no one would mistake her voice for an elf's. They also spend some time looking over their treasures, and dividing out 15% for the Church. They decide that this will include all the coppers: 'the better to give alms to the poor.' Brother Mundlo is not amused, but goes off to pray (or maybe sulk; who can tell?) by himself.
The morning is cold, but everyone feels rested and eager to return to the dungeon.
Descending into the entrance chamber, they are pleased to note that the giant skink's corpses still have not been moved, though putrefaction seems to be proceeding at an alarming rate, especially given the cold.
Walking down the western corridor, they come into an antechamber, the mirror image of the one to the east. There is a closet in the north wall, whose door is barely hanging on one hinge. Tramping through the rubbish-strewn floor they continue down the western passage, passing by a passage to the south until the corridor abruptly comes to a dead end [except not really; an illusory wall conceals room 12. Contents: monster & treasure.
Q: Does the monster, (1d3=)1 chattering bones attack from behind? Somewhat Likely: 47, Yes. And a roll of 2 on a d6 indicates it achieves surprise.]
Everyone turns about and is about to walk back to the southern passage when a sudden, familiar gibbering and chattering is heard behind them. Before she has a chance to turn round, Lycinia feels claws rake down her back, shredding her tabard but fortunately not penetrating the mail beneath.
round 1&2. It wins initiative]
Lycinia wheels about and manages to make it back off from her, smashing it hard in the jaw with the pommel of her sword [i.e. it rolls a 4, missing her; she hits it for 5 damage, bringing it to 12hp]. The jaw hangs limply, dangling by one shrivelled tendon, but the chattering emanating from the thing continues unabated. There's just enough room for two to fight side-by-side, so Miolla moves up to attack. The two elves together make short work of the creature [both hit for maximum damage, dropping it to -7hp].
Behind the illusory wall is the undead thing's lair [room 12]. The room appears to have been swept clean; no rubbish litters the floor, and there are almost no furnishings at all. All that remains are four large stone mills, each of which contains 100sp, stacked meticulously in piles of five. The party help themselves to the silver, then go through the door to the south.
The door opens directly into the adjoining room [room 13]. The room once was decorated with costly tapestries, which now all lie in rotten heaps where they fell. The smell of wet wool and decay is overpowering. Grotesque, bulbous fungi grow on the ruined tapestries and have taken over parts of the floor. Rusty kitchen utensils, shattered crockery, and broken furniture have been heaped into the room.
As the party make their way through the room, the door slams shut behind them. And at that same moment, the fungi release clouds of spores which sting the eyes and cause choking, coughing and gagging. Everyone stops, momentarily blinded. They grope their way back to the door, but it won't open. After some deliberation, they decide to get out of the room; there is a passage on the south side. They creep out into the corridor until they are outside the cloud of spores. Their sight seems to take ages to return, but as Lycinia's torch is still burning when they can see again, they surmise it must only have been about a quarter of an hour.
They explore some twisty corridors which seem to go nowhere (though one of the walls seems like a new room was about to be excavated at the time of the Monastery's fall) then finally head back through the entrance, travelling south from the eastern antechamber [room 2], and west at the 4-way intersection.
Heading south again they come to a chamber [room 14; contents: monster only - 6 dwarves. I've added a status table to the dwarf entry on my encounter tables. I roll a 5: Prisoners. Permanently insane]. Six dwarves, emaciated and wearing rags, are sitting in the midst of the floor. They are bound together in a single line, the right hand of one to the left of the next. The ligatures are made from dirty rags: hardly the sort of thing that would contain prisoners. But the dwarves make no move to free themselves, nor do they respond at all when spoken to. The door to the east opens in to the room where the first group of dwarven prisoners was discovered [room 3]. They are still there, in the same state as before.
"What's keeping them alive?" asks Miolla.
"I think it's this place," answers Lycinia.
"We should tell that priest," says Aldira.
They decide there's nothing else to be done with the catatonic dwarves, and head down an unexplored passageway to another chamber [room 15].
It is heaped with filth and smells like a sewer. The party is on the point of turning round to get away from the stench when the torchlight reveal movement in the far corner. A group seven twisted little mannikins [#11s] are doing something unspeakable with a pile of dwarf corpses. The light gets their attention; they swarm and attack. The fight is over almost as soon as it starts; the little homunculi are no match for elven steel. Only Aldira suffers any wounds, and those minor [2 damage]. A cursory look through the chamber reveals that one of the dwarven corpses still wears a worked platinum beard ornament (1300sp); Debinvarr cuts it free and stows it in his pack. Théscine espies a scroll case sticking out of the muck. She gingerly frees the vellum roll inside then discards the befouled case. Studying it for a few moments by the light of Firdeth's lantern [casting Read Magic] reveals it to be full of magical spells:
Force of Forbidment
Force of Forbidment
Having explored the whole of the upper level, the party decide to press onward and downward. They return to the untested staircase in the corridor off the sarcophagus room [room 10] and, lighting a fresh torch, make their way down.
At the bottom of the stairs is a short passage leading into a rectangular, open chamber [room II]. Within are two creatures, looking like the all-reptile version of centaurs [centaur lizards]. They panic when they see the approach of lights, and attack with their (apparently dwarf-made) battle axes. They fail to even injure any of the party members, and one of them is quickly slain by the counter-attack.
[round 2] The remaining lizard [failing its morale check] throws down its axe and calls out "I surrender! Please don't kill me!" in perfect common. The PCs lower their weapons slowly, and look to each other for someone to speak. Aldira steps forward without hesitation.
"A friend of mine," says Aldira, raising her crossbow to emphasise her intentions, "was killed somewhere in this accursed maze about a month ago. About my size, similar armour, red hair with a white streak. We've come to take her out of here and give her a decent burial. Help us if you want to live."
[Q: Does it agree? 50/50: 20, Yes.]
"Oh, certainly," says the lizard. "Follow me." The party follow it down the corridor. Lycina is right behind it with her torch, Aldira beside her with her crossbow.
[Q: Does it know where it's going? 50/50: 72, No. It's playing for time, so I will randomly determine which way it turns.]
Coming to a T-intersection, the creature pauses for a moment to think, then turns south. The passage ends in a door. "Through here," says the creature.
"Well?" retorts Aldira. "Open it then."
An intense smell of decaying flesh assails everyone's nostrils as the door opens. Even the lizard looks momentarily faint. There is a large chamber beyond [room III], which looks like a charnel house. Piles of rotten corpses and parts of corpses, many nothing more than slimy collections of bones, litter the floor of the room. Looses bones crunch underfoot as the party advance. There are two enormous chests in the room sitting amongst all the carnage. Near one lies a corpse of a woman, more intact and fresher than the rest. Her long red hair seems to shine with its own fire in the torchlight. "Oh, Aldira," says Miolla, "don't look..."
But she cannot avert her eyes this time. "Help us get Una to the surface," she says gravely to the lizard, "and we'll let you free."
Just then a rustling is heard; faint at first, then a crescendo of shuffling and scratching. The corpses and bits of corpses covering the floor are starting to move, to crawl forward, clutching and scratching and biting at the living.
[round 1. The Charnel Carpet wins initiative.] Everywhere they look, the floor writhes with grasping limbs and creeping torsos. They are clawed at, nipped, pulled, and tripped up by the gruesome swarm as they frantically strike at it, trying to beat back the ever-advancing horror. Their lizard companion finds a broadsword discarded on the floor and joins in the desperate fight. [Aldira is hit for 3, debinvarr for 1, Lycinia for 4, Théscine for 1, and the centaur lizard for 4. Only Lycinia manages to do any damage this round: 8 points, dropping the carpet to 34hp.
round 2: more of the same.] No matter what they smash or sever, it hardly seems to make a difference. [Aldira takes 2 damage, Lycinia 1, Firdeth 2. The centaur lizard needs a morale check to not cut and run, but succeeds, and hits for 5 points, even. Aldira hits for 6, and Miolla for 8; the undead swarm still has 20hp.
round 3: Aldira is hit for 2, the centaur lizard for 1, Firdeth for 1, Debinvarr for 2.] There is a last, desperate struggle, as the greedy dead are about to pull everyone down to join them in their putrid throng [Lycinia hits for 7, the centaur lizard for 4, Théscine for 3; it has 6hp left]. Aldira begins to scream, in fear, in rage, in terror, as she is confronted with the oozing, flopping, twitching corpse of her former companion. She kicks and stamps on it with her heavy boots, stabs, cuts and slashes with her rapier. The head is severed and sails away, blazing a trail with its crimson hair [6 damage; it's finally at 0hp]. There's a bit more smashing and cutting, as the horror and disgust have clouded everyone's judgement. Finally they realise that whatever hideous force had been animating the carnage has been banished.
Miolla rushes to comfort Aldira, and leads her to the edge of the ring of lamplight, away from others. Lycinia roots around for Una's backpack, and finds her spellbook inside; she presents it to Aldira, who is still fighting back tears. Debinvarr and the centaur lizard (who is visibly trembling) collect the body and wrap it in one of the blankets brought for a winding sheet. Firdeth sets down her lanters, and she and Théscine empty the treasure chests into a few sacks (1500sp & 4 gems: Smoky Quartz-75 sp, Zircon-250 sp, Bloodstone-100 sp, Rhodochrosite-25 sp).
Aside from Miolla, everyone is in pretty bad shape [current hit points: Théscine 3/4, Lycinia 7/12, Aldira 4/13, Firdeth 4/7 Debinvarr 2/5, centaur lizard 4/12]. Miolla takes charge of the body, the rest shoulder bags of coins, and they trudge back to the surface. Fortunately, they meet no more monsters on the way out. Once back in the open air, Firdeth tells the lizard it is free, but should leave the area forthwith, a proposition to which the thankful creature readily assents. The lizard runs off towards the forest, and the weary adventurers return to camp.
In Room 13, I actually rolled Trick/Trap for the contents, which resulted in a gas trap: gas causes blindness for 1d6 turns (I rolled a 1). There's already been an arrow trap and a spear trap. I was beginning to wonder just what kind of maniacs built this monastery. So in order to maintain some sort of credibility, I decided to make up a natural explanation for the 'trap'.