Fireday, 14 Lamashan 4707, early evening
In the crumbling remains of the wizards laboratory, the Sandpoint Heroes found another wooden door on the southern wall. It opened to a set of stairs leading down into darkness. Zandu and Charrone descended the stairs, and the rest of the party followed. The stairs opened up into a dank chamber. The flagstone flooring of the house had been dug up to reveal a much older stone spiral staircase carved into the bedrock. A cold, clammy breeze wafted up from the open stairwell, and there was the distinct scent of death on the air.
Zandu thought that the staircase should be exactly below the strange spiral-shaped mold growth on the floor above. While Charrone looked at the opening, she had a sudden feeling that something wasn’t quite right in the room, so she channeled the burning light of the Inheritor. To the others, a ghostly image appeared, but Charrone saw the image in lifelike color. In her vision, the floor was intact again. Standing where the staircase now lay was a shirtless Aldern Foxglove, an excavating pick in his hands. As he swung the pick downward to break the stone floor of the cellar, he spoke to himself, “For… YOU! For… YOU! For…YOU!” Each time he said the word “you,” he looked directly into Charrone’s eyes. In the vision, he broke through the floor to the staircase, from which a horde of ghouls swarmed over him and carried him down the stairs. The ghouls then rushed Charrone, but as the undead monsters attempted to draw in the paladin’s life energy, she realized that it must be an illusion, and the vision vanished.
The stairs descended about 100 feet and opened up into a natural limestone cave with a high vaulted ceiling. The stench of carrion was very strong in the damp air. Ominously, everyone could hear a distant rhythmic whooshing sound that reminded them of the of a great beast breathing. Three passages led out of the chamber.
The first passage seemed to have once been a natural cavern that was recently widened with mining tools. It opened into a long but narrow natural chamber that contained a pile of humanoid and animal corpses in varying states of decay. One of the victims in the pile of bodies was a very recent kill: the body of the notorious bandit “Redshiv” Bilger, who had a 500 gp bounty on his head in Magnimar. Halfred removed the head from the body so as to claim the purse. As they began to loot Bilger’s corpse, a huge bat swooped down at them, and savaged Halfred badly.
Declan noticed right away that the creature wasn’t technically alive: it appeared to have the abilities of a ghoul! The creature put up a terrific fight, badly wounding Charrone, but in the end, the party was able to defeat it. They turned their attention back to Bilger’s corpse, and found that he had been wearing a mithril chain shirt! They also liberated a coin purse and some other items.
The passageway narrowed to the west, as the ceiling got lower and lower. The passage ended at a deep pool of spring water, and there was an almost perfectly circular hole in the ceiling above it. They felt fresher air coming from the shaft, and Durrok remarked that it was probably the well that they’d seen near the ruins of the carriage house. McGregor suggested that the undead bat was probably using the well shaft to come and go.
Seeing no other way out, the party returned to the entry chamber and took the lower passageway to the west. As it opened up into a larger chamber, four ghouls that had been hiding in natural alcoves lunged at the party! The ensuing fight attracted four more ghouls from deeper in the caverns, but they were no match for the Sandpoint Heroes. Another passage looped back to the entry chamber past a growth of dangerously poisonous mold (which Durrok noticed and told the rest to avoid).
Pressing forward, the breathing sound got louder as the passage forked. To the left was a large natural cavern with the overwhelming stench of death. That seemed to come from a huge pile of bones and corpses piled in a vast heap. Nothing else of interest was in the room, save a very narrow natural passage to the northeast. They turned around and went right, and found themselves in a very large underground chamber with a naturally vaulted ceiling that stretched at least 40 feet upward. It also seemed to be the source of the breathing sound: below the dome, the wet, slick floor of the chamber sloped steeply downward to a pool of churning seawater.
As the party stood there, arrows shot past them from across the pool! McGregor cast dancing lights and sent them into the chamber, revealing six goblin archers on the opposite side of the chamber! As they let a second volley fly, the party noticed that getting across the pool would be very treacherous. Durrok and McGregor stood their ground and returned fire, as the rest of the party went back into the other chamber to see if the narrow crevice would lead to the same ledge that the goblins defended. It did!
Halfred, Charrone, Declan, and Zandu made their way across the narrow, rocky, slippery ledge, while taking heavy fire from the goblin archers. As they closed, they made a grim discovery: the goblins had been turned into ghouls! Charrone and Halfred engaged the goblin ghouls hand-to-hand, and Charrone was briefly paralyzed. Despite many of the goblins’ arrows finding their marks, the party was finally able to overwhelm and destroy the goblin ghouls.
Set into the wall behind where the goblin ghouls had been standing was a stone door.
[To Be Continued…]