Chronicles of Khaldun: Crux of Eternity

The Crux of Eternity, Part 5

Freeday, Fireseek 21, 553 CY (51 AN)

Bezaldooz, Bosabrieln, Peren, Torinn, as well as “Mad Dog” Eddie, Mike Dyer, and Renthiruhar, awaken in Mordenkainen’s magnificent mansion. After breakfast, they set out on the road back to Sorgtomb.

Arriving in the city without incident, they plan on returning to the Sorgtomb Citadel to report their success to the Marquis d’Ennui. However, as they move through a downtown street, they are aware of movement and clanking from the nearby alleyways. A knight with glowing red eyes, clad in black mail emerges from the alley and throws a gout of black flame at their party, injuring the Shields of the Sorrowfell, discorporating Goruthrel, and killing several of the townsfolk on the street.

As the knight emerges, several mail-clad soldiers, all in an obvious state of decay, emerge with longbows and open fire.

Under heavy fire, Peren and Torinn move into melee with the knight — noting that the undead knight is accompanied by two of the mail-clad tieflings whom they encountered guarding the crater at Barony Aalsburg — while the rest of the Shields seek cover and begin fighting back with magic. Most of the bewildered townsfolk are too slow to evade the ambush and are cut down; the sole exceptions are two men who stepped out of a nearby inn just before the attack started and quickly retreat to the building. A guard manages to whistle for nearby guards before being slain by the soldiers, and two people who were walking on the street are caught in Bosabrieln’s hypnotic pattern, allowing the soldiers to slay them while they stand transfixed.

Despite the heavy losses on the street, the Shields quickly emerge victorious. Torinn fights the knight and the tieflings while Peren dashes around the battlefield, engaging in melee with the soldiers. The rest of the Shields and their allies take cover — with the exception of “Mad Dog” Eddie, who charges into melee with his bladed prosthetic hand — and eventually manage to wipe them out. Another tiefling emerges, clad in leather like the tiefling they saw yesterday, but is quickly dispatched, falling into mirror shards and scraps of flesh as the others do when slain.

With that done, the Shields check on the men inside the inn, learning that they are Jonas and Silas. Silas runs this inn, called The Creeping Spider, while Jonas is one of his regulars. Shortly thereafter, the guard arrives to inquire as to what happened, and Bosabrieln manages to explain their mission without escalating the situation. (The guard, for their part, has heard of the Shields of the Sorrowfell, even here in the Shadowfell.) The guard continues to examine the scene and move the bodies, also insisting on sticking around while the Shields take an hour to bandage their wounds and recover. Bosabrieln plays music while they rest, and manages to attract a surprisingly large crowd in The Creeping Spider (and curving around the nearby block, away from the recent urban warzone).

Eventually, the Shields are ready to go and are escorted to the Citadel. The Citadel, having been informed of their presence, sends them directly to the Marquis d’Ennui, where Bosabrieln presents the skull of St. Neluthien. The Marquis d’Ennui accepts it, and after asking a bit about the ambush the Shields of the Sorrowfell fought against (he says he will be on the lookout for additional mayhem caused by Morana the Forsaken’s remaining minions, seeking for the Crux of Eternity in Sorgtomb).

The Marquis d’Ennui goes on to say that he knew the Shields of the Sorrowfell by reputation, and suspected they were those fated to claim the Crux of Eternity. He asks if they believe their group is secure, and when Bosabrieln responds affirmatively, the Marquis says the Crux of Eternity is hidden below this Citadel, held within the Tomb of Sorg.

He can show them the way when they are ready.

Bosabrieln says they will return on the morrow, and so the Shields of the Sorrowfell are dismissed.

They find an alley a couple of blocks over and Bosabrieln casts Mordenkainen’s magnificent mansion so they can sleep for the night.

The next morning, Starday, Fireseek 22, the Shields return to the Sorgtomb Citadel. Their arrival is expected, and so they are met by two robed, silent, pale, wizened elves who quietly lead them deeper into the Citadel until they find themselves in a room with two lifts. (It is apparent that the lift already down in the pit acts as a counterweight for the other lift.) A skeleton mans the winches and the elf gestures to the lift. The Shields board the lift and the skeleton winches them down into darkness.

A similar winch sits at the bottom, similarly manned by a skeleton. Ahead sits a heavy stone door with few markings. The Shields form ranks and push the door open.

They wander into a silent stone hallway that swiftly turns left. As the Shields turn left, they are led into another hallway. Off to the left is an alcove with two benches. Two pale elves with shaved heads, tattoos, and piercings, wearing studded leather and carrying spiked chains, sit within. They stand and bow, giving greeting. They ask if these travelers are supplicants, and Bosabrieln explains they seek the Crux of Eternity. The two elves — monks of this temple, evidently — indicate that they serve the Raven Queen, and that their reward for loyal service is death. As such, the only way one may take possession of the Crux and end the monks’ long vigil is by slaying the tomb’s guardians. Bosabrieln apologizes that it must be so, as they seem decent sorts, but he accepts. They take a few steps back and teleport to the end of the hallway — right where the hallway turns right — as Peren invokes a spell to turn invisible.

Bosabrieln hits them with confusion as the Shields begin advancing down the hall. Peren rushes down the hallway and sights down the righthand turn, noting two statues in alcoves (they resemble bearded men with hammers, dressed in the manner of a smith) as well as a small congregation of misshapen, humanoid things wandering toward the battle. He retreats and fills the hallway and the righthand turn with fire as he conjures a wall of fire. One of the elf monks shakes free of its stupor and leaps into the fray, but separated from its allies, the monk is quickly slain. As the Shields advance down the hallway, Peren drops the wall of fire, revealing the other monk, still confused and badly burned. He, too, is quickly slain.

When the fires drop, they also reveal that one of the statues is clutching its head and seems quite bewildered — it, too, was affected by Bosabrieln’s confusion spell and has been affected by the flames in the hallway. (The Shields strongly suspect the other statue is also an animate statue, but it remains still.) As they push into the hallway, they destroy the first statue while Bosabrieln forces the other out of its alcove with a dissonant whispers spell. When it moves and blocks the hall, Torinn steps forward to dismantle the creature with his axe. It manages to hit him with some effect that drastically slows him before it is destroyed, and as the Shields of the Sorrowfell begin to emerge into the next hallway, they are faced by the three misshapen humanoids Peren saw before, as well as more of the creatures that begin pouring into the hallway from side passages.

Of the creatures, some appear to be lumpy creatures, weeping black tears and bearing limbs ending in spikes. They seem to primarily attack by launching their spiked limbs at foes, spikes attached to ropy sinews which they then use to pull victims back to them. The others are creatures with multiple spiked arms that seem to try to grab and pierce their foes.

Despite these creatures’ unnatural movements and unrelenting attacks, they are quickly slain. They tear into “Mad Dog” Eddie and manage to menace the still-slowed Torinn, but a fireball and a few seconds of fighting make short work of the lot of them.

When the dust settles, Peren moves to examine the side passages. Apart from a couple of largely-empty rooms, he finds an unoccupied barracks with a bookshelf containing several holy books regarding the Raven Queen and Sorg. When he goes to pull them off the shelf, the copy of The Ballad of Fallen Sorg only budges slightly, activating a panel that slides to the side. Behind the panel is a small room containing several objects associated with smithing: a rusty nail, ancient tongs, and the like. In a place of prominence is a large iron key, about the size of Peren’s forearm. He takes it.

Reuniting with the others, they press deeper into the temple, finding a room divided in the center by a wall, which funnels occupants to a set of two doors: one to the left and one to the right. The left and right walls are covered with curtains, and examination reveals a door behind the curtain on the right side. As the Shields take position, they breach the door.

Inside are four elves, standing guard in what appears to be a storage room. When Peren and Torinn breach the door, Bezaldooz and Bosabrieln also end up investigating the room briefly, at least until Torinn conjures a fog cloud that obscures the room. While most of the others don’t have the space or the senses to get involved, Peren and Torinn manage to keep the room locked down while Bezaldooz throws spells while blinded. (At some point during the fray, Goruthrel is discorporated.) Quickly, the elves are dispatched and the room is still.

Tired from their battles, the Shields and their allies decide to gather in the storage room while Peren uses rope trick so that they may rest and bandage their wounds for an hour or so. There is not enough room for the shield guardian to accompany the group, so they

However, after roughly ten minutes, a group of three armor-clad knights evidently made out of flames, as well as two misshapen creatures with armor, scythes, and wings, enter the room to investigate. They are poised to destroy the shield guardian when the Shields, having witnessed this through the rope trick portal, begin dropping into the storage room.

The battle is short, and intense scrap as the Shields begin pushing back the defenders from the storage room. The winged creatures manage to cloud the minds of “Mad Dog” Eddie, Mike, and Torinn, allowing them an opportunity to glide out of the room while the three flaming knights cover their escape. When Peren gives chase, he finds another person in the hall, a mail-clad pale elf wielding a maul, evidently operating as some manner of priest. Peren flees him while contending with the hit-and-run tactics of the winged pursuers, and when Torinn shakes off the effect, he runs into the hall to face the priest. (Eddie and Mike spend most of the battle trapped in the storage room, frozen by some manner of magical effect.) Torinn manages to shake off some prayer the priest invokes before he and Peren finally slay him.

As the Shields spill out into the hallway, they take the fight to the winged defenders, managing to discorporate one before the other escapes through one of the unexplored doorways. Peren runs ahead and chooses the other doorway, finding that it is trapped with some sort of magical sigil that siphons some of his water, leaving him withered and enervated. Still, he runs into the next room, finding a massive chamber featuring a centrally-located anvil, bolted to the floor, as well as mostly-cold forge at the far end, containing only a few hot coals. At the far end of the room, there are doors to the left and right. Peren starts examining the room as the Shields slowly make their way inside, only to be ambushed by the remaining flying defender as it continues its hit-and-run tactics, emerging from behind a weapon rack.

As it moves into the hall to menace Bosabrieln, however, it is finally slain by blade and spell.

As the Shields make their way into the room and begin investigation, Peren has already opened the doors. He notes the door on the right is weighted such that it will close when no longer held, and that it leads into a hallway that swiftly curves out of sight. When the Shields have arrived, Bezaldooz retrieves a cold coal from the forge as the others examine the tools and such in the room.

Peren decides to use the lefthand door, finding the same manner of curvilinear hallway, and finds an object to wedge the door open. He then steps into the hallway, casts greater invisibility, and follows the hall to the end, opening the door to find an oblong chamber. At the far end is another door — presumably connecting to the curved hall on the righthand side — and against the wall is a raised dais upon which rests a large coffin.