Saturday, 13 April 2013

Team Adventure - Pyramid Scheme

The next morning, Elysia despatched Relic and Rufus to scout out the two roads and see what lay ahead. It was not long before the pseudo-dragons returned to report that to the north-west lay seemingly endless tracts of sand dunes, whilst to the south-west, there appeared to be rocky hills rising out of the desert. There was a brief debate within the party about the direction that they should take; some thought the city sounded worth investigating whilst others were keener on the hills; somebody remembered that many weeks earlier (or so it seemed) Benbo had mentioned mountains across a desert and thought this might be them.

I should note at this point (for it was overlooked in last time’s report) that the party had left town without Benbo. The hobbit had not been present when they started their journey into the desert and nobody was particularly inclined to search for him.

The team set off towards the hills and arrived about mid-morning. The terrain was harder going but they nevertheless reached the high places with no great mishap.

At last, a break from sand!
From the peaks, they could see down across the desert plains and far off in the distance, Alurax (with his hawk-assisted vision) was able to pick out a tiny black speck on the horizon. Thinking that this could be the pyramid about which the obelisk had spoken, the party pressed on, coming out of the hills and into the desert again. Elysia sent off Relic to see what he could find out about the distant object but the team were setting up camp amidst the dunes before the pseudo-dragon returned, very hungry and thirsty, to relate that it was definitely a pyramid, with the ruins of some sort of temple outside.

When the sun rose, the party was eager to get moving again, now that they had confirmation that they were on the right track. It was not long before something unusual happened. Alurax suddenly went rigid in the saddle, moaned, clutched his head and fell to the sand. The rest of the party gathered round, very concerned. The doughty fighter soon recovered his wits to relate that he had experienced a weird vision; he had been in a moonlit desert when he was confronted by a mysterious figure in rags, beckoning to him. When he refused to approach, the figure came to him, revealing that it was the spirit of a long-dead king, who was now cursed by the gods to linger outside the afterlife as punishment for his greed and arrogance in life. He told Alurax that he needed help; if the party could seize the Staff of Ruling and the Star Gem from the tomb within the pyramid, then his soul could move on to the afterlife after hundreds of years. He also warned Alurax to beware of somebody called Munafik, whose heart had become filled with darkness.

The other members of the party seemed to consider that Alurax had been chosen by the King’s spirit to enter the pyramid and lift the curse. They rode for most of the day, with the distant pyramid getting slowly larger on their horizon.

Hmmm...I wonder if that's worth investigating
At last, however, they arrived at the foot of the huge building. It was getting on for late afternoon by now, but the gang were undeterred and scrambled up the steps which led to the only visible entrance. 

Inside the entrance, they found a passage running to the left and one to the right. Ahead of them was a long dark hall with four thick pillars on each side. Away at the far end of the room was a statue, dim and hard to make out in the gloom but Elysia used her Wand of Illumination to light the chamber and they could make it out. Alurax recognised a similarity between the figure he had seen in his vision and the statue, concluding that it must be of the King. It was also noticed that the statue was not carved of the same material as the wall against which it stood; further examination showed that it seemed to be concealing an entrance. Alurax and Gullhor tried to shift it but it was too heavy for them so they enrolled the assistance of Larsh and with his furry strength, the statue was soon heaved aside to reveal a short passage to another room, which had another statue of the King and two passages leading off to either side.

Concluding that the statue must hide a similar door, the party soon had it shoved aside and sure enough, a long passage lay beyond. It sloped downwards and the party followed it for about seventy feet until they arrived in a large room. On the far side, facing them were three statues of the King, with two more on each side of the room. The party edged around what appeared to be some kind of altar in the centre of the room. Elysia noticed that the ceiling and walls were covered in strange inscriptions and Ferros used his Comprehend Languages spell to decipher that they repeated the name of the King in many different but archaic languages.

On examining the altar, the party noted that there seemed to be the impressions of a left and right hand on one side of it. They were reluctant to place their own hands there, and instead conducted a thorough search of the room. One of the statues on the side opposite the main entrance yielded to the power of fighters and polar bear, only to reveal a small but empty room beyond.

Not wishing to leave any stone unturned, Alurax volunteered to place his hands onto the impressions on the altar. Nothing happened when he did so; nor did it when Gullhor tried. Then Ferros and Alagon remembered that the King’s name was almost everywhere in the room and thought that perhaps uttering this might give some result. So it transpired, and with a click and an eerie grinding noise, one of the statues on the side wall slid slowly aside to reveal a passage into the darkness beyond.

With Alurax and Alagon leading the way, the party moved further on into the tunnels and chambers. The passage led them into a grand hallway – or perhaps it had been grand once, many years ago. Now, the plaster frescoes had crumbled to rubble and there were axe and hammer marks all over the walls. At the far end was a broken door, showing the signs of violence.

The party decided to investigate further and found that beyond the door was another huge room. This had carvings in the wall which, when translated by Ferros, read ‘Treasure Room’. If it had ever contained treasure, there was none there now; merely broken pots and smashed chests. An archway at the end of the treasure room led to a room inside which lay a stone sarcophagus. Its lid had been heaved off and smashed into fragments. The sarcophagus was empty apart from a thick layer of dust. On the wall behind it, there were words which read “Here lies the true tomb of the King. Know that you have arrived too late to plunder his riches”.

Gullhor speculated that even if somebody had plundered the tomb, they might still find the treasure somewhere else in the pyramid since it had been said by the man who spoke to Alurax in the tavern in Sandholm that nobody had ever returned from the desert.

Meanwhile, Elysia and Ferros had despatched their pseudo-dragons to investigate some of the side passages that the party had passed on its way to the plundered tomb. The reports came in; the two passages that they had found just inside the main doorway led to a room with a statue of the King in on one side and a similar chamber on the other side but this one had a statue which held a large bowl in which blazed flames. The second pair of side passages led to deep wells within the pyramid, one of which was filled with murky water whilst the other was fed by a fountain that came pouring out of a hole in the wall of the well.

The party decided to check out the flaming bowl room, and were soon examining the statue, which stood at the top of a flight of stairs. Alurax approached the fire and noticed that it gave out light but no heat. Curious, he put his hand into the fire and found that he was not burnt. He tried placing a small twig into the bowl and at once, the fire flared up fiercely; when it subsided, there was no sign of the twig.

It was at this point that Galadeus, who had been checking around the room, noticed that as well as the tracks of the party, there were other footprints disturbing the dust, which climbed the stairs but did not go back down again. However, this observation did not deter Alurax from clambering into the bowl of fire. As had happened before, the flames blazed up, momentarily blinding everybody and when they could see again, there was no trace whatsoever of the trident-wielding fighter. Alurax was gone.   

DG note - a shorter session than usual this time, since it was Junior Grognard's tenth birthday this weekend and after we broke for lunch, the lads wanted to do other stuff. Nevertheless, they got a long way in a couple of hours, which pleased me greatly.

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