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5E The Kalarian Precipice - Chapter Two

Dain - Further Down

The mixing of Dain's torchlight and the mystical light of Suru made Dain pause briefly and rub his eyes with the back of his sword hand. His mind raced, images flashing across his vision:

Pale, flawless skin glowed in the light of flickering torches, sliding free from blankets of dark fur. A flurry of long black hair, and the flashing of a woman's eyes, deep and dark. "I will always be with you..." The voice was a whispered promise. A song. Essithea.

The vision passed as quickly as it came, and Dain was once again in the tunnels of the mine, his torch flashing in his hand. Taking a breath, he continued down the passageway. "If they are mice." He shook off the last vestiges of his memory. Was it a memory? "If they are mice, they will scurry before us. If they are not...then we shall have more tales to tell."


Beyond the Pit

The tunnel twists with snakeish bends as the group treads forwards, with evidence of miner’s sampling at times, here and there upon the walls. Random depressions appear in the rock as dark shadowy pockets where picks and spikes have jabbed at the surface in search of a lucky find. As you walk further still, a few of these areas have grown to become small and tight passages leading off into the dark. Ahead, another bend in your path with no visibility beyond.

It is then that Dain hears the subtle sound of impacts. Rhythmic and percussive clinging and cracking, as though metal is meeting with stone. From beyond, the palest scent of something familiar blows in with a light but chilling draft. Salt.

Then another sound joins in, audible by all, footsteps… getting louder… down a tight exit to the left, as your hairs might begin to stand on end...

<The narrow passages to your left and right are only wide enough for one person or entry in single-file>
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Otiroth: Beyond the Pit

So far, nothing but silence and tension. Only a few moments before, they had been so light-hearted! That was all gone in an instant. Otiroth's fingertips traced the stone walls. Unconsciously, he flicked his lips with his tongue, miming a trait he had picked up from he knew not who.

"Wait," he whispered, at the sound of the footsteps.

Here, they had an opportunity. Wait for it to come to them, or try to charge in after it.

"Jeovanna," he said. "Can you still use that?" A nod to the bear trap on the side of her pack.


Metea: Beyond the Pit

It is the uncertainty that does it. The mystery. Metea figured that whatever lived down here would have noticed their torchlight. But in the same token, should they not be able to see some torchlight in return? Not if it saw in the dark, as she and her brother did.

Not if it didn't even have eyes.

It was less a mystery than a riddle, but even a riddle was worth knowing!


Jeovanna: Beyond the Pit

Jeovanna had her sword at the ready, but glanced back at Otiroth. "It's for game," she murmured back. Not exactly bear-sized game, either, despite the look of the trap.

But, it could catch the leg of something. Not a bit of animated armor, that'd probably crush it, but something fleshy at least. She hadn't thought to use it like that.

The barbarian would set the trap- push it to a position near the entrance of the cave from where they heard footsteps with one foot, though she'd not push the trap directly in front of the hallway, so it was not immediately visible. Near the game trail, not under the paws of the wolf. She made sure the rest of the group saw her do it. They'd better not step in it themselves!

Whatever was coming towards them in the dark may very well step in it, if it was eager to charge at them.

Then... easy prey.
Carthum One-Tusk: beyond the pit

Carthum found the idea that their company was still stealthy somewhat laughable- though he could understand the necessity of some discretion.

The smell of salt- the ocean- was close. These caves had taken them further and deeper than they had thought, and again, Carthum was reminded that time had slipped away from them.

The group hung back- charging into the side passage was foolhardy. The trap seemed an interesting twist of fortunes. Still... conscience gripped the priest, perhaps that clawing at their minds was not fear, but guilt.

Carthum put on his best scary-orc voice. "Halt. Identify yourself," he growled into the darkness, into the abyss of the curved tunnel.

Were it friend, let it respond. Were it foe, let it charge them and see how sure-footed it was!
Dain - Beyond the Pit

A bear trap? He approved of this plan heartily, even if he showed it with just a nod of his head and a gesture towards the narrow opening. As Jeovanna laid it and set it, Dain hovered very nearby, trying to position himself to gain advantage on whatever came through. His head did swivel back and forth, however, between the trap and the tunnel further on.

The last thing they wanted was to be caught unawares!

His sword was ready.


Beyond the Pit

A subtle sound of clattering drifts in from the narrow passage, as does the eerie pattern of footsteps while the group anxiously waits.

Then all goes quiet for a moment, as if the approaching mystery has decided to pause, wait and think, before you sense it's ominous motions commence once more.

Around a dark corner it comes, moving further and further into the reaches of the light.

Your first sight might make you shudder, as this is a being devoid of skin and flesh. The old armor it seems, isn't the only inhabitant that should otherwise be still. Around four and a half feet tall, a biped formed of nothing but bone and cartilage steps out of the chiseled crevice. Around it's waist a sheathed dagger is tied to an old leather belt. In one white and boney set of phalanges it grips a small pick axe, a favored tool of miners of old.

As the skull atop the creature's head turns, two milky white and almost pearlescent stones set into its orbits regard you with mixed curiosity.

Another step, and it blunders into the jaws of the well laid trap.


The device shuts around a dry and skeletal shin with a cringeworthy crunch. But there is no scream. In fact, you might doubt if such a being is capable of speech, until it looks down to the trap ensnaring it, and then turns to you all, mouth opening in an emotional response, surprise?

<Rolls - Perception to notice trap = 10 Fail. Dex check to avoid trap = 7 Fail.

You can all have one round of surprise actions. After that we will roll initiative (only if required).

Please make wisdom checks if you wish (d20+wisdom modifier), and I'll see how much you might have heard about such a creature and how much attention you paid in any earlier anatomy classes haha. It is clearly undead, but maybe not in a conventional sense.

Should your instinct be to attack, we'll let two characters in melee at a time versus it, due to space constrictions. Advantage on all melee attack rolls for you whilst it is trapped. No disadvantage to those firing from range or casting spells into combat, as I assume you have all positioned yourselves nicely in waiting.

As Dain has undead as a favored enemy, he is welcome to have a little flashback if you want.>
Dain - Beyond the Pit

The sight of the undead creature coming into the range of the torchlight made the hairs on Dain's neck stand up and his eyes narrow into slits, brows furrowed. His knuckles grew white as he gripped his sword with a clenching strength.

A young woman surrounded in an aura of yellow light from the neck up, dressed in an elaborate gown and headdress, shrieked in fear as a collection of bony hands reached up towards her throat, their fleshless fingernails yellowed and ragged. Her eyes were full of fear, but behind it was something else, something more like determination. One of the creature's heads came into view, and its lifeless eyes turned back to stare at Dain.

Dain sprang forward towards the creature, its eyes becoming the eyes of the creature in his vision. "Terras and the Alabaster throne of Andilar! My Lady!!!"

The words were not spoken with any meaning, they had seemed to have risen from his soul and exploded out of his mouth from instinct. But he was not hesitating to ponder their source, whether they were a buried memory or a twisted enchantment. The torch dropped to the ground as he now wielded his longsword with two hands.

He was going to destroy the undead atrocity.

<Wisdom check: 7>
<Initiative: 5>
<To hit: 17>
<Damage: 11 from 'versatile' use of longsword 1d10+3>


Beyond the Pit

Dain's blows land strong and true upon the brittle old bone of the creature, cleaving through a shoulder. There is more clattering then, as a humerous and hand tumble to the ground, the dislocated fingers still clenching it's axe but likely never again to chip at stone or dig into flesh.

The skeleton is very much worse for wear, but still stands facing you with a resolute icy glare.


Otiroth: Beyond the Pit

Otiroth stands for a moment aghast, but only a moment. The walking armor had been a mystical curiosity, for certain, but this was a far more visceral threat.

Or perhaps visceral was the wrong word?

'Burn it' was his first thought, and one that chased aside any other consideration, at least for the briefest of moments it took to once more call upon a bolt of flames at the creature... the desire to remove the walking skeleton from the equation came before any thought of studying it.

<Wisdom roll= 18+3=21.>

<Spellcasting: firebolt. 15 to hit, 10 for damage>


Ensnarement and brute force followed by the lick of magical flames bring the fleshless creature to its knees. Broken and blackened, it looks upwards at you before finally collapsing into a pile of smokey bones.

Two small and rough stones roll out from the eye cavities, apparently unscarred, and tumble off across the ground a foot or so near your feet. Milky. Shiny. Full of fire in the twinkle of Carthum's magical little rock and Dain's accompanying torchlight.

Undead. Rarely seen and even less spoken of, but still mentioned here and there within texts of years long lost. Necromancy, a topic of interest no doubt for The Burning Rose, as some forms of magic come at a heavy cost and warrant great warning. It is not a path encouraged by the wise. Otiroth recalls perhaps lessons of restraint and how one must dodge the most foul of corruptions. Yes, there are ways to immortality through magic, and though the study of death and the leeching of souls may be tempting for those wishing to extend their grip on life, this particular path comes at a most horrible price. Perhaps the price of a youngling. The size and proportions of the remains would indicate a human, definitely in its early years.

The church of Suru too, would find the existence of walking dead most abhorrent. A violation of justice of the highest order. The right to rest in peace. The sacrilege of preventing a soul from its final trial, to prove worthiness and enter the quiet tranquility of the heavens.

For this to have existed, someone must have animated the remains. A sombre thought, that perhaps down here somewhere lies a guardian still capable of breath. Even more worrying perhaps, is how a child came to be here of all places to see its humanity snuffed out.

Stood with back to the far wall, Annit's expression of surprise probably mirrors your own. Then her gaze turns down to the pair of gems silently waiting on the floor. A twinkle returns to her eyes as she points to them.

"Moonstone," she says. "My father calls them the stone of permanence, but it seems you've just put an end to that theory."

For the magically gifted in the group, you can almost feel a shallow wave of power radiating from them, like ripples upon the top of some dark unknown pool.

Somewhere far away the occasional sounds of rock splintering under impact can be heard, but for now, all else is still...
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Carthum One-Tusk: beyond the pit

In a twist of flame and elven steel, the undead was put to rest. Sometimes, they had little choice in the matter.

Whoever had created the undead had had plenty of choice, and had chosen the greatest of sacrileges as its path. "It is not the permanence of gems that holds such here, but the malice of the living. Or near-to living."

Carthum went to one knee before the shattered bones, for a moment speaking a short prayer in the old tongue. Last Rites. Let whichever god had waited for this soul judge it with the greatest mercy.

And let Suru guide them to the same for any others cursed here.

He'd not let any touch the stones until he was done. If they wished to take them, so be it- Carthum himself would prefer to bury them, and find stones untainted by undeath, but it was not solely his decision to make.


Jeovanna: Beyond the Pit

Walking skeletons. That just wasn't right.

Well, evil magics or no- and even the sorcerer seemed to think so- her trap had still caught it. Jeovanna bent to retrieve the trap, investigating it closely for a moment to make sure it wasn't damaged before securing it at the side of her pack once more. It had worked well, but she did not think it'd be so handy in situations where they couldn't wait for their foes to come to them.

And from the sound of noise further down the mine, they would need to go to them.

"People fought wars over those?" Jeovanna asked, nudging the stones with the toe of her boot. She did not seem too impressed. She'd expected... shinier!

"Well, they will have heard us now. But still they dig. Perhaps they have guards."


Metea: Beyond the Pit

Metea's reaction to the undead had been awfully muted. Forbidden magic...

...very amazing.

"Have you seen these things before?" She'd ask Dain, but already, Metea was bending down by the stones. "Look- they definitely have some magic in them. From the spell that made it walk? Or is it a natural quality? Oh, it's fascinating, isn't it?"

Metea had begun to reach out to scoop the stones up, but she felt Carthum's eyes on her, and she'd relent.

She'd pocket them once his back was turned.
Dain - Beyond the Pit

As the undead creature fell in flames, its body broken, Dain took a step backwards, his sword held up high in an aggressive stance. His eyes followed the orbs that fell from the small head...and in the back of his mind he heard distant voices that slowly receded as the tiny orbs came to a stop.

He shook his head slowly as the others inspected the stones, and at Metea's question. "I do not know. They are abhorrent to me...but that is not surprising." He said nothing of the young woman, and already the words he had spoken were difficult to recall.

Relaxing slightly, he reached down and retrieved his torch. He looked towards the sound of mining, and then back to the dark corridor from which the undead had come. "We must remember our purpose here. I would like nothing more than to hunt these vile creatures and free their souls...but perhaps it is not the time. I still hold that speed and directness is our best strategy to finding what we came for and leaving here alive."


Otiroth: Beyond the Pit

"Necromancy. It was forbidden before magic was forbidden. A firebolt may light a campfire, a Power Word may serve as a last-ditch defense against an invading killer, but necromancy exists to do little more than enslave and torture a lost soul."

Otiroth seemed far away for a moment. He remembered not only what the Burning Rose had taught him, but what he had read as well. Dragons lived so long, they feared undeath most of all* and he had adopted that fear.

"We move on. Down the path- towards the miners. They will have put any gemstones they mined where they can watch and guard them- and anything they might have found would have joined the hoard," Otiroth declared suddenly, eyes especially firey. "If we can move past without a fight, so be it; we will know this den of evil is here, and make sure to return once we are better prepared. If we are forced to fight... then many damned souls shall be freed this day!"

He raised his hand, and a few orbs of light flickered in place, dancing over his head. Their light so far had gone unnoticed. If it was noticed, then these orbs would serve as a distraction, should he use them correctly.

It was time to move!

*Quote credited to Peter