The rest of the gang were probing the passageways to the south of the minotaur room. They found that two of the passages looped round and returned them to their starting point.
The third passage produced a three way split which led to three more rooms. In the first room were three dead bodies – ever the opportunist, Ferros animated them to become the latest recruits in his undead army
The door to the second room stayed open on its own until Alagon stepped in and it swung shut behind him, the bolts sliding into place and trapping the paladin within. As this happened, the walls started to close in but the party could not get the door open. Larsh was brought forward to smash the door to pieces and they found Alagon stuck between the two walls and being crushed. Elysia cast a Reverse Enlarge on him and with that, they managed to pull him out.
The third room was empty was disappointingly empty.
Eschewing further exploration of the maze, the party now decided to head up the shaft to see what they could find. As they headed back towards the minotaur room, they had an odd experience when a stone flew out of one of the misty doorways. They thought they were under attack for a moment until it was revealed that it was Alurax, testing to see what lay beyond the door from his side. With the party reunited (albeit temporarily) Elysia flew up the shaft and then lowered the rope so that everyone could climb up without recourse to pesky DEX checks.
Rather than take the seemingly dead end passage, the party found the passageway that led north out of the statue room. There was writing all over the walls and ceiling and at the far end of the passageway was a shimmering curtain and the sound of running water. Alurax approached it and prodded it with his spear to find out what it was. He realised that it was the rear of a waterfall.
Ferros used his Comprehend Languages spell to work out what the writing said – it was an account of the activities of Munafik the High Priest and contained some valuable information, though it did not seem as if anyone reading the verses really worked out what this was.
The party tried the two doors on the left of the passage and found that they led into gloomy rooms where tattered curtains screened empty rooms. Ferros pushed on through the second of these rooms, then out across a passage and into another room, where he found two stone sarcophagi. Beyond them was another door which he opened and peered through.
He found a figure in armour holding off what looked to be eight ghouls with a sword. He stepped in and raised his holy symbol – the power of his faith blasted the ghouls to fragments. The armoured figure removed its helmet to reveal a beautiful young girl who thanked Ferros for saving her life.
Now came the interesting part – who would Lydia pair up with? Ferros, who had saved her life but who was commanding a small force of undead, or Alagon, a fellow paladin and undoubtedly more charismatic? Both men seemed eager to win the young paladin’s favour and this started a subtle rivalry that would run on and on.
For the moment, Lydia was making no choice, but she did explain that she had come into the pyramid in response to the request of a spirit figure which had visited her in a vision, asking her to plunder his tomb of the star and staff. The similarities to Alurax’s vision were all too obvious. She also mentioned that she had taken on the High Priest Munafik in a room with a waterfall but despite striking him with her sword, it had no effect. He declared that his life was ‘kept elsewhere’ before rising up into the air and disappearing into a dome. Although Ferros was listening intently, he may well have been affected by Lydia’s beauty because he did not relate this information to anybody else in the party later.
While the rest of the party gathered in the ghoul room, Elysia and Alurax were investigating the waterfall. Once they had realised what it was, there was no problem in passing through it. They found themselves in an octagonal room, whose ceiling was a good fifty-five feet high, twenty-five more than the other rooms in which they had been.
The waterfall was coming from a huge carved lion’s head and it fell into a large pool, then flowed out in a stream through an entrance in the north wall of the room.
There were four palm trees in the room, each with pineapples growing on them. to either side of the pool were identical granite altars, with the impressions of a right and a left hand carved into their tops. On each face of the altar was a gold rune. They managed to decipher the mysterious runes on the sides of the altar and even placed hands into the impressions but nothing seemed to happen.
Alurax managed to climb one of the palm trees and secure a pineapple, which he brought back down to examine more closely. However, when he cut into it with a knife, it exploded in his face, knocking him off his feet and spattering both himself and Elysia with chunks of wet fruit, which – unfortunately – was inedible and smelt of gunpowder. (not that the characters would recognise the smell but I had to give the players something to go on.) Elysia, in high dudgeon, decided to make use of the pool to get a bath and wash her clothes.
Meanwhile, Ferros led the party through a door on the far side of the ghoul room and down a passageway which led to three short tunnels. Each of the tunnels led into a circular room, with a walkway looking down into a room below. In the first one, there seemed to be nothing although Ferros noticed that there was something not quite right about the ceiling of the room. He decided to stab at it with a knife, then shot at it with a bow; at this point, the lurker above – for such it was – decided not to hang around and dropped down into the room below where it tried to make itself scarce. The party gave up at that point.
The next room looked down into an empty chamber; the party wasted little time in here and tried the last room. This one gave onto a chamber full of spears that extended from floor to ceiling. It was clearly a trap that had been triggered and the skeletal remains of a dwarf that had been caught by it still hung impaled on several of the spears. Ferros could see that the dwarf had been carrying a bag in which were a quantity of gems, some of which had spilled out onto the floor. Unable to get to the dead dwarf, Ferros sent Rufus in to collect the jewels and the bag, finding that amongst the fake gems were five very valuable ones, which the cleric stuck in his pocket.
The party retraced their steps and investigated two more doors, which appeared to lead to kitchens and store rooms, long since abandoned. Beyond the store room was another passageway, beside which was an alcove with a carved stone statue in the shape of a woman with the head of a cat. The party managed to dislodge the statue and investigated the plinth, which sounded hollow when they tapped it. They smashed it open and recovered the treasure that lay within.
|As with most cats, this one was on top of what they wanted to get to.|
The party immediately noticed the rapidly-moving stream that flowed from an entrance in the southern wall right through the room and out through an exit in the northern wall. The presence of water and light from the ceiling explained the lush tropical vegetation that filled the room on both sides of the river and almost entirely screened the walls of the chamber. Amidst the foliage, they found two huge bronze bowls full of fruit but as they approached the bowls but as they did so, the ‘fruit’ took wing and flapped around, making for the upper reaches of the palm trees. Alagon and Gullhor grabbed for them – Gullhor was unsuccessful but managed to shoot a couple down with his bow. They found that when they ate the fruit, they felt a lot stronger and more nimble and agile.
Whilst they were there, Elysia and Alurax came through from the next room. They revealed what they had found, including the exploding pineapples, which Alurax demonstrated to the party.
They had managed to locate a side door out of the foliage room and this led them into a long and winding corridor. As they explored the passage, they found two hooded figures huddling over a sack. The figures turned out to be wraiths and they moved menacingly towards the party until Ferros managed to turn them. The sack was filled with gold pieces – another profitable encounter for the cleric.
|Your soul - give it to me|
As had been the case on the far side of the level, Ferros found passageways leading to three viewing rooms and with Alurax, he investigate each one.
The first room looked down into a chamber in which was a chest filled with platinum pieces. Four skeletons were pinned to the wall around it by steel spears. The opposite wall was covered with small holes. It did not take them long to find out that anything which passed in front of the holes triggered a steel spear to fly out. Neither of them wanted to risk being hit by an unknown number of spears so they pondered the conundrum for a few minutes before deciding to go back and get Elysia to join them so that she could use Unseen Servant to carry the treasure to safety. This is just what happened, although there was a hairy moment when the three wraiths reappeared; Ferros managed to turn them again but he was very much the cleric in demand as nobody felt safe going anywhere in this section without him.
The next room that they entered looked into a chamber which had a large X carved into the floor. Alurax decided that he wanted to know what happened if anybody stood on it and he soon found out as a large stone box fell out of the ceiling and struck him. He managed to extricate himself with Ferros’ help and he was very annoyed when he found that the box was empty.
The final room held little to see; a blade attached to a pendulum had been tied up against the wall; it was clear that anybody entering the room via the door would trigger the trap but our heroes were looking into it from above and therefore it was of only academic interest.
Ferros, Elysia and Alurax returned to the fruit and greenery room, where the rest of the party was waiting. They began to go over their options; Alurax headed off up the tunnel down which the river was flowing but he had only got so far when he decided to return, realising that nobody else was willing to accompany him.
Meanwhile, the others had begun to wonder about the walkway thirty feet above their heads and the fact that this room’s ceiling was substantially higher than other rooms that they had entered. It was decided to use Larsh’s height to try and get Alurax up to the ledge. The polar bear lifted the fighter as high as it could, and Alurax leapt for the ledge, actually managing to get hold of it. He could not lift himself on the fist attempt and the ledge crumbled under his grasp but a second attempt got him onto the ledge.
Once up there, he began to look around but before he could investigate the door in the south wall, he heard a tapping noise from behind the stones of the east wall. He soon found that the noise was coming from a loose stone in the wall, which he prised out to reveal behind it a narrow tunnel and the wizened face of a gnome, who introduced himself as Prit.
|Let me introduce you to my friend Mr Spoon...|
Examining the object which it had been guarding, they found that it was a glass jar inside which was a beating human heart. Alurax wanted to smash the jar to get the heart, but Elysia advised against damaging it until they knew what it was and what it did. She had visions of it being the heart of the pyramid and the whole structure coming crashing down on them if they harmed the heart.
|It's significant - but why?|
It was a 30-foot wide semi-circular room into which a huge column of thundering water poured from a hole in the ceiling into a hole in the floor. A symbol on the floor in front of the column of water represented a question mark and on the other side of the room were two large bronze doors. Where they led, and what the function of the room was, the party had no idea. They would find out in the next session.