7 Tarsakh, The Year of the Star Walker’s Return (1490 DR)
Tomb of Diderius, The Serpent Hills
The two colossal statues looked imposing.
As the adventurers approached the statues, they heard the sudden sound of grinding stone.
The statues turned their massive heads. Their shattered features stared down at the five adventurers.
Two voices issued forth in unison and boomed out like an eruption from deep beneath the earth.
“Halt.” One statue intoned. “You come before Diderius, ether walker and conduit of clairvoyance. Behold ye now his wondrous triumphs. Diderius extends wisdom, and Diderius offers knowledge. Which do you seek?”
The group looked to one another and began to discuss which answer they should agree upon.
After a few moments, everyone agreed that “wisdom” would be the best answer.
“We seek wisdom!” Patch yelled to the statues.
The heads turned their attention to the fighter. “Diderius shall grant you what you seek, but only if you heed him and continue to show respect!” They then reverted to their original positions.
Everybody waited to see if anything would happen.
When it seemed safe enough, they made their way to the entrance.
Varram’s group had left a wooden ladder that extended up thirty feet to a stone stairwell leading to the entrance.
“Very nice of them to leave a ladder for us,” Patch said.
Once on top, they were able to see that the entrance had carvings depicting strange, otherworldly scenes.
“So who exactly was or is Diderius?” Deb asked. She touched the carvings in curiosity. “These carvings resemble places one can only dream of or visit on some other world or plane.”
Both Caldreas and Winslow were about to offer what little they knew about Diderius when Lo-kag interrupted them both.
The goliath barbarian cleared his throat. “Well, according to widely accepted disquisitions on the matter, Diderius, also known as The Great Oracle, was very much fascinated by powerful divination magic.”
Everyone stood dumbfounded and could only stare at the goliath in complete disbelief.
“Who are you?” Patch asked, moving closer to the barbarian. He tapped Lo-kag on the forehead. “Whoever you are inside him, what have you done to our friend, Lo-kag?”
The others chuckled.
Lo-kag ignored the elven fighter’s side remark.
“As I was saying before being rudely interrupted,” Lo-kag proceeded to say. “Diderius was a scholarly wizard who was fascinated by the future possibilities of prime material realms.”
Lo-kag waved his arms as if presenting the wall carvings to art connoisseurs.
“Is he alright?” Deb asked scratching her head in disbelief. “Should we get him a healer?”
Caldreas put a finger to his mouth motioning for Deb to remain silent and not interrupt Lo-kag.
“It was while writing one of his famed treatises, aptly titled Transubstantiality Across Potentialities when Diderius discovered the location of a mysterious pool in a cavern complex said to be somewhere in the Serpent Hills.”
Lo-kag was now guiding the others past the carvings as if on a tour in some Waterdeep museum.
The goliath suddenly stopped as if pondering a sudden revelation that came upon him. “Therefore, this must be the legendary Tomb of Diderius.” He was now standing before a stone door that led inside. “Originally part of a manse the wizard had commissioned around the mystical divination pool he discovered, the complex was later converted into a crypt after his death.”
Lo-kag turned to look at the sand-covered plaza below. "The crypt looks down over the ruins of a town that once grew up around the magic pool which catered to the many pilgrims seeking Diderius’s oracular wisdom. "
The barbarian turned back to face the stone door. “The legend went on to suggest that Diderius lived for centuries. During his rather lengthy existence, untold number of kings and wizards came bearing tribute to his greatness.”
Having completed his presentation, Lo-kag turned to the others who still stood in awe at his vast knowledge regarding the ancient wizard.
“I only have one question, Lo-kag,” Caldreas started to say. “How exactly did you know all this?”
Lo-kag looked at the eladrin wizard as if the answer should have been obvious.
“I noticed a book in your library back in New Bear’s Head when I came to visit one day. It was a book about wizards interested in divination magic.”
“What made you choose that particular book?”
Lo-kag shrugged his shoulders. “Dunno. It had pretty pictures?”
The others barely managed to contain themselves.
Continuing on, the group entered a ten-foot wide antechamber.
The walls were once decorated with relief carvings. But looters had long ago defaced most of it.
Set in the walls were a dozen funerary niches. They were empty save for torn pieces of ancient linen and rags.
The floor was littered with splinters of bones.
“Looks like a big fight with skeletons,” Lo-kag stated as his foot crushed a skull underfoot. He pointed to several blood splatters along both walls. “Doesn’t look like he lost any of his followers, though.”
“Let’s be careful,” Caldreas warned. “There may be more to worry about than tomb guardians here.”
Patch and Lo-kag, both leading the group, took careful measured steps. They scanned the floor for any indications of traps.
There was another door at the end of the antechamber. From the looks of it, Varram’s men must have forced their way through as well.
Past the door, they entered a hall with six stone statues: three on either side.
Since everyone was able to see in the dark, either through spells or magic items, there was no need to use any light source.
The statues were carved to resemble cowled wizards, their faces obscured by deep hoods. The hollows formed by the hoods were particularly dark.
Making their way though, everyone had the unnerving feeling of being watched as they looked into the dark hoods.
Some secrets are not meant for mortal minds to know, everyone suddenly heard in their minds. Look away from the darkness in which such knowledge hides.
Unsure of what the warning meant, everyone continued on.
As they continued past the statues, everybody felt a strange affect sweep over them all.
Caldreas felt a powerful sense of understanding sweep over him. It was as if the world seemed much clearer to the eladrin wizard.
Deb, however, stopped to stare at one of the statues. She began to drool and mumble incoherent words.
Caldreas, realizing that the statues must have affected the halfling ranger, quickly cast a spell negating any magical effects on Deb.
The halfling shook her head to clear it. “Wha-…what happened?” Deb asked.
“The statues,” Caldreas said. “I believe anyone caught looking at them could be affected by some enchantment which affects the brain.”
The halfling looked to the others. “Was I the only one affected?”
Lo-kag pointed to his head. “I’m too smart, I guess.”
“Let’s move on,” Patch insisted.
Past the second door, they came upon a large chamber with a high vaulted dome with a deep inset ledge which circled the entire room some fifteen feet above the floor.
The floor was set with beautiful tiles set in a mosaic pattern depicting a knight in plate armor wielding a glowing sword against a chimera.
The word “SAFE” was written in chalk on one of the doors leading out of the chamber.
A set of double doors, both slightly bulging out, was against the opposite wall.
A narrow passage slanted downward to the southeast.
Just as the adventurers entered the chamber, the chimera suddenly appeared to claw its way out of the mosaic floor!
When it was complete out of the floor, it stood in two dimensions. It was flat on one side, appearing like a large tiled wall. It made a clacking noise as it moved to attack the party.
It’s dragon head suddenly belched a gout of flame, catching everyone in the savage attack.
Despite suffering from burns, the entire group was on it quickly.
When it was struck by an adventurer’s weapon, pieces of tiles flew, rather than blood.
The creature tried to flee, but Lo-kag had gone into his barbarian’s rage as soon as he started swinging his great axe.
Along with the others’s attacks, each of the barbarian’s furious strike broke large chunks of tiles off the chimera.
Before the chimera could even take flight, it lay shattered in hundreds of pieces on the floor!
Tired and injured. The party decided to enter the door marked “SAFE”.
But suddenly, the door burst open.
Out stepped two trolls! The two looked like the ones that fled from the battle in the courtyard outside.
However, the two trolls had now fully regenerated!
Despite having already been injured, the adventurers bravely fought on.
In less than a minute, two trolls lay dead on the ground. Thanks in part to Lo-kag’s furious rage attacks!
Certain the room beyond was safe, the group entered.
The circular room held a large well in its center. A bronze bucket on a rope sat next to the well. An empty basin ran along one wall in a downward angle.
“Is this the divination pool? " Deb asked. She looked towards Lo-kag for an answer. The barbarian shrugged his shoulders in uncertainty.
“I don’t think so,” Caldreas said. He was walking around the well, inspecting it for any indication it might be magical. “I don’t see any runes or other marks of magic.”
“The trolls must have came here through that well,” Patch said. He peered into the well. A small opening was visible near the bottom of the well. “Since we’ve blocked the well outside, nothing’s coming in and out through here.”
“So what does the basin do?” Winslow asked.
“I’m not sure,” Caldreas said. “But let’s rest before we do anything else.”
An hour later, Caldreas poured water into the basin.
The water sloshed into a drain set into the wall facing north. Nothing happened.
The group decided to return to the mosaic room.
The bodies of the two trolls were starting to reek. Patch avoided them and moved to inspect the double doors, while Caldreas and the others kept a watchful eye on the other exits and the sloping passage to the east.
As Patch stood before the doors, he noticed again how the doors were slightly bulging outwards, into the room.
“I have a bad feeling about these doors,” Patch said. He started to take a step back.
Just then, the doors buckled inwards sending tons of debris cascading down on the fighter.
Despite being struck by several large rocks, Patch managed to jump out of the way to avoid being buried alive!
“I’m alright,” Patch said. He wiped dust off his armor as he stood up. The passage beyond the double doors was completely covered with rocks and fallen tiles.
Everyone knew would take hours or days to dig their way through the rubble.
“Guess we’re going this way,” Caldreas pointed down the sloping passage.
The passageway was not wide enough for the group to walk side by side.
“It’s never a good idea going through a dungeon without the benefit of a rogue’s skills,” Deb remarked.
“We should find a rogue to join us,” Patch added.
“Agreed,” Caldreas said. “Meanwhile, let’s use the skills we do have to get through this tomb alive.”
Patch led the way, followed by Lo-kag. The others followed close behind with Winslow taking the rear.
Halfway down the passage, Patch heard a barely audible click. He realized that he had stepped on a pressure plate!
At the back end of the line, Winslow heard a deep rumbling coming from the mosaic room behind him.
Suddenly a large ball, unbelievably made up of skeletal bodies dropped from the ceiling and began to roll down the sloping hallway.
“Move! Move!” Winslow yelled.
Too late. The adventurers tried to run but the bone boulder gained speed and was quickly rolling towards them!
All but Lo-kag and Patch managed to dodge the bone boulder by pressing themselves as flat as they could against a wall.
The elf and the goliath however were both struck by the bone boulder.
Skeletal hands grabbed and pulled them both into the sphere which continued to roll at a breakneck speed down the hallway.
Patch and Lo-kag tumbled end over end inside the sphere. Jagged bones slashed through armor and skin.
The bone boulder exited into a large stone chamber, but was still rolling towards a stone wall.
Lo-kag was able to get some leverage and with his powerful legs broke out of the sphere before it slammed full speed into the wall.
Patch wasn’t so lucky.
The bone boulder slammed into the wall. Patch was caught in an explosion of bones and stone.
Everyone entered the chamber and quickly came to the aid of their friends.
Patch was hurt. Lo-kag wasn’t as bad off, but did sustain some injuries.
After catching their breaths, the party looked around.
The chamber they were in was large. On the south wall, a small chute barely allowed light to enter from the outside.
“That must be the small opening we saw on the cliff just past the well,” Deb said.
The smell of incense filled the room. A set of double doors stood along the north wall. A single stone door led out of the room to the east.
Eleven sarcophagi spread throughout the chamber were embedded into the walls.
“I don’t like the looks of those,” Deb said pointing at the sarcophagi.
They all suddenly heard an unfamiliar voice in their minds. Humility proffered in the manner of Mystril shelters those opening the way to seeking knowledge.
Caldreas explained that he had studied a book about Mystril back home.
He went on to explain that Mystril was known as the Lady of Mysteries and was the first incarnation of the goddess of magic. Later incarnations of the goddess were named Mystra.
Mystril was most notably known as the being who embodied the Weave, the primary source of magic in the cosmos. She supplied and regulated magical energy to all, making possible spells and magical effects.
But her portfolio also included knowledge and energy, invention and creativity, song, time, and the season of spring.
Deb looked at Lo-kag. “Did’t read that particular book, didn’t you?”
The goliath shook his head. “Nope. It didn’t have pretty pictures.”
“Those who worshipped Mystril,” Caldreas said. “would, in holy gestures, turn their heads downward and raise their hands as if holding a lamp. I suggest we do the same before opening any of those doors.”
They decided to try the single stone door leading east first.
After imitating the gesture made by worshippers of the fallen goddess, Patch opened the door.
Beyond lay another antechamber.
As they entered they saw that the room contained dusty shelves and empty wooden tables. It was clear that the room must have been Diderius’s library and contained hundreds of ancient tomes and scrolls. But it had been looted long ago.
A set of double doors was set against the north wall.
Caldreas was disappointed to see nothing but empty shelves and tables.
Suddenly a ghostly figure materialized in the middle of the library.
She was young and had short hair. She was dressed in simple clothes.
“Who are you spirit?” Winslow demanded. He readied his shield and sword. The others readied themselves as well.
“In life I was known as Ilda. I was one of Diderius’s apprentices. I died soon after my master.”
The ghost rose higher into the air. “Be warned. If you came to loot the library, you will find only death here.”
“We want nothing of yours,” Winslow said. “Besides, there is nothing here to take.” He motioned towards the empty shelves lining the walls.
Ilda was suddenly overcome with misery. “I have failed my beloved master!”
“How so?” Caldreas inquired.
“I had misplaced a favorite tome of my master’s. It was a book he had written himself. Its title was Transubstantiality Across Potentialities.”
Everyone looked at Lo-kag. His smile was as broad as the blades of his great axe.
“After misplacing it, my master thought I had stolen it,” Ilda continued. “I was labeled a thief and banished from his service. I cannot rest until the tome is returned to this library.”
“Where did you misplace it?” Patch asked.
“Somewhere in this tomb. I can no longer recall where.”
“If it’s still here, we will find this tome and return it to the library,” Winslow offered.
“We will do what we can,” Caldreas added. “Can you tell us anything about this tomb? It could help us find the missing tome. Also, how did your master live for centuries?”
Ilda admitted she didn’t know the secrets to his longevity, then went on to share that a large group of Yuan-tis now dwell deep in the complex.
She also explained that the divination pool allows those using it to peer past many magical protections that block lesser divination magic. She warned that the pool’s revelations could drive a user insane unless the questions asked were specific and dealt only with the physical world, avoiding metaphysical concerns.
Ilda said that gazing into the pool without first offering a personal sacrifice was dangerous. Over time, the pool’s demands grew steeper.
If others have been using the pool since Diderius died, as she suspected the yuan-tis must, the pool’s current price must be dark indeed.
The adventurers looked at one another.
They asked Ilda if she had seen a group led by a dwarf come through the library. She said she had seen them, but that they had not stopped in the room. They went through the double doors.
She said they seemed to be in a hurry.
The adventurers agreed to help find the missing tome as they continued to follow Varram.
Ilda appeared grateful and wished them luck before disappearing.
The group readied themselves while deciding which set of double doors to go through. The one in the room with the sarcophagi, or the one in front of them in the library?
Heroes and NPCs