The Failed Rescue
Here, I write upon a new page, in a new book. I do this commemorate my lost and fallen companions. Thus ends the association of many of us and begins a new life for some. It is with a heavy heart that I write these words.
We did indeed travel back to the dungeon. We were witness to an extraordinary sight upon reaching the place. Two animated trees were at the front, demolishing the entrance to the place. The druid told us to hold our weapons and approached them. He spoke to them in a language I did not understand and they spoke back. He explained to us as we walked further in that during our week of rest, he spent time communing with nature and speaking with the animals and trees. He offered to awaken the trees and they accepted his offer. He asked that in return they turn the entrance to the dungeon to rubble.
They had the entrance to the dungeon blocked off but kindly cleared some large stones from the path so that we could enter. We walked in and down a couple of levels. Kahn's tiger companion, Shiva, scented for the other party. She was able to takes us directly to where they were. Sadly, we found 5 of their corpses laying there. It seems they were in a mighty battle in which they had slayed several goblins. They were left for dead, only 4 of them even recognizable. George's body was not among those that were there.
Marius cast a familar spell to me, and as he touched the five bodies of the fallen adventurers they were teleported back to the tower where he requested they prepare the bodies and transport them to Rakmar for resurrecting. Marius assured them that he would incur any costs associated with the raisings. Upon Marius' return to the dungeon, we continued forth. Shiva still had the scent of George and would lead us to him.
We were surprised to discover that Shiva had followed George's scent all the way back to the chamber where the huge caldera was. The scent was lost in the water. We continued down underneath the water and back into the chamber where the vile crypt was. Shiva had no trouble picking up George's scent again. We were led back to the crypt itself and Shiva was positive that George was past the doors. Krom removed a portable battering ram from his bag of holding and commenced to pulverizing the door before us. The door was made so much dust, and we were surprisingly all able to enter the crypt this time.
Hap found the seam to a trap door in the room and used a crowbar to pry it open. I was amazed that he was strong enough to do it. I will not quickly judge one so small as being weak again! We descended down a finely carved white stone staircase. At the bottom of the stairs was a room, perhaps 40 feet deep and 60 to 80 feet wide. There were two pillars on opposite sides of the room which depicted more horrible scenes, the likes of which no decent person could even imagine. There was a set of double doors beyond the pillars. As we approached them, a wispy figure materialized and begged us not to go through the doors. I tried to determine whether this was an evil creature or not and was able to discern that it was not. Indeed, it appeared to be a paladin of some kind. He introduced himself as Igni and continued to warn us that we should not continue. Igni went so far as to threaten us that he would fight us to the death to keep us from opening the doors.
Further questions to him led us to determine that some powerful being had geased him even in death to guard the entry to the point beyond the doors. Igni told us that in life he had been a paladin of Pelor. But now, he was destined to remain here at the order of the one who defeated him and warn off those who would try to gain entry. We were determined to enter the doors, and also to free Igni from his responsibilities to the evil creature who had commanded his spirit.
We attempted to ram the doors open at which point Igni did indeed attack us. The five of us made short work of him and with a touch of Kord's healing hand, I was able to destroy him. It saddened me to do so, but I was convinced his spirit was finally free to enjoy the afterlife. I took solace in that fact.
Hap was able to unlock the doors we had try battering open. They opened up into a long hallway, the end of which we could not see within our field of vision. It stretched beyond 60 feet. On the left was a 6 foot wide bit of flooring that was pure white. On the walls were scenes of serenity. On the right was a 6 foot wide bit of flooring that was blood red. On the walls were scenes of death and destruction. Along the middle was a 2 foot wide strip of a greenish metal. On the floor was a riddle of sorts. I did not take the time to write this riddle down, but we determined that we should walk directly down the middle path, as the riddle said that good should follow that path.
Marius flew into the room on the left side. He came back out and reported nothing bad happened to him. I stepped forth onto the green metallic path, and was followed by Brunis and Krom. Hap then stepped on the metal and disappeared. We had no sense of where he went. Suddenly, two glabrezus appeared where the two columns had been. They attacked us and called forth vrocks to aid them in our destruction. We were finally able to dispatch them, all but one of the glabrezus. Crafty demons they are. They have the ability to alter gravity itself, and one of the vrocks had cast a spell which engulfed a very large area in complete darkness.
We finally made it past the hallway, the last glabrezu hiding in the darkness. On the other side stood a huge chamber, filled with what appeared to be living statues. I recognized one of them as Hap. There was nothing I could do for Hap at the time, for after a short while, the aspect of Orcus himself suddenly appeared through a portal in the center of the room. His gaze fixed onto me quickly. Surely, he sensed the goodness that resided in my being and sought to destroy me first. An ugly and cruel creature is Orcus. I shall be haunted by that face for my whole life, to be sure. His grotesque figure moved towards me and I drew my sword in defense, ready to strike a blow. He swung a rod towards me with unerring accuracy and the next thing I knew, my body was no more.
My soul traveled across several planes and then in the blink of an eye, I felt like my soul was being lifted and moved. A familiar voice whispered to my soul, "Flynn, my child, I would not have my strength diminished by allowing what has befallen you to pass. In the recent time of troubles I walked your realm and tested many of my so called 'faithful' and was beginning to despise the lot of them until our paths crossed. As so it passed that you protected me as I have protected you in the past. So once again I will impose my will on your behalf. I will not command you not to enter Rappan Athuk again , to do so would put you at odds with your 2 strongest traits, but It would displease me greatly should you choose to enter that place again, ever."
Thus, my soul was restored to my body and I found myself, naked and shivering, upon the altar in the unfinished temple of Kord in Tyro. Nearby, I found Krom in a similar state. Some workmen found us there and offered blankets in which to cover ourselves. We then stumbled our way to The Happy Dragon, where rooms wer made up for us and clothing was arranged. I requested a bath and asked not to be disturbed afterwards all evening and informed the staff that I would be skipping dinner and wished solitude. I clasped Krom by the arm and told him I would see him in the morning. I soaked for nearly an hour then tried to sleep but was unsuccessful.
I spent my waking moments in prayer and thanked Kord for his further blessings on my behalf and oathed to him that I would not return to Rappan Athuk unless he himself ordered me so. I decided my next few weeks would be spent in Tyro working on the temple I had commissioned be built for Kord. In the meantime, we would wait to hear from Sitnalym and tell him of all that transpired.
I know not the fates of our other companions. I pray that they are safely out of Orcus' grasp, either in this life or the one after. My thoughts will always fall back to these days and the battles we shared.
Rest in peace, brave ones. May you be greeted in your heavens with open arms.