Friday, September 2, 2016

Looting a Tomb with a Saint's Permission

While Luka and Tristan rested after their sojourn into the Grail Tomb beneath the Church of St. Othric, Kylic kept himself busy burning the corpses of the witches and aberrant things they had killed; Kylic seemed particularly interested in "bathing" in the smoke given off by the funeral pyres. Tobias Rune, scientific diabolist, arrived in time to bolster the group's next expedition into the dark places beneath the church. 

Back down into the frigid depths, then. Tobias was given something of a tour of the places Luka, Tristan, and Kylic had already been--they hoped he might be able to tell them more about the things they had previously discovered. Sadly, no one interacted with either the carved skull or the black mirror as they sat upon their particular altars. Mysteries remain unsolved!

However, some mysteries were further unraveled. Piecing together the images inscribed throughout the Grail Tomb alongside some of the history of St. Othric that Pen Bennett had previously dredged up told a tale of the ages: at some point before his martyrdom, St. Othric confronted and fought a dragon upon a peak of the Nachtmahr Mountains; Othric was victorious against this creature of gluttonous sin, but did not slay the beast; rather, Othric subdued it, renamed it Volamnus the Sacred Flame, and bade it put its ravening gluttony to good use; Othric would later bind and bring monsters who were apt to be reformed in Hell when killed on earth (such as fiends) to Volamnus, who would consume them--destroying the essence of their souls so they could not be reborn to plague mankind once more.

The group again heard the sound of sorrowful singing resounding throughout the main chamber of the underlevel. Kylic's mocking remarks about bones caused a showered of brittle remains to scatter from the room previously found littered with pulverized skeletons. Investigating, Kylic, Tobias, Tristan, and Luka found themselves confronted by the specter of a woman clad in leather armor. 

She explained that her spirit, and those of her companions, was trapped in the Grail Tomb by the powerful and containing blessings that had been placed upon in by the ancients followers of St. Othric. Her cohort had entered the Grail Tomb to rob it of its treasures, but had been crushed by some unseen guardian for their troubles. She also mentioned that she was looking forward to watching this new group of interlopers meet their demise, so that she might have new company with which to while away the coming centuries. Kylic attempted to use his holy powers to set the woman (whose name was neither asked nor given) free from her imprisonment in the vaults, but alas such a feat was not in his purview. 

Exploration continued. Tobias was able to identify the glass eye that Luka had destroyed in the previous foray beneath the church: the object likely contained an eldritch being known as the Watcher of the Equinox, a herald of the Elder Scholar. The carvings upon the walls that Kylic uncovered with his thaumaturgy confirmed that the Watcher of the Equinox was likely defeated by St. Othric and imprisoned within the Grail Tomb. (But why wasn't the Watcher fed to Volamnus to destroy it utterly? Another mystery unanswered, for now.)

In another chamber the group discovered a life-size statue of the church's patron saint. When Tristan put his hands upon it to move it, it began to change color and form--becoming a red-tinged, hooded being with furred and claw-like hands. Put to the question of who (or what) it was, it introduced itself as Ventromere, and asked the group to stand aside from the door so that it might leave peaceably. Wasting no time with parlay, Kylic attacked. The thing responded in kind, its hood falling back in the melee to reveal a fox-like head replete with a ravening maw. The concerted effort of the party managed to slay the thing calling itself Ventromere--its body turning to rotten globs of meat as it died--but not before it had wounded Tristan, Kylic, and Luka with its polluting claws.

A horrid realization set in among the group: it was clear that the creatures and beings they were encountering in the Grail Tomb had been imprisoned there by the faithful of St. Othric, so what if "killing" these creatures was actually setting them free to reborn again into the world? 

Spiteful applause was heard issuing from the hallway; the ghost had been watching them. The apparition also noted that three of the party had received "the black mark" from Ventromere. Checking their wounds from the fight with the fiend revealed a curious black "infection" festering at the edges of where they had been slashed by the thing's claws. Tristan swore that he would help set her free if she would steer them clear of further danger; she became much more helpful at that promise, and guided the group to the stone doors that shielded St. Othric's tomb. 

After a bit of a struggle with the doors, the group uncovered a chamber with niches holding the remains of the ancient and holy dead. Alcoves with unlit candles lined the walls and a stone tomb decorated with the carved form of a knight in armor clutching a greatsword lay in the middle of the room. As they entered, the candles sprang to life and the room began to take on a heat that was welcome in the otherwise icy depths of the Grail Tomb. 

Prayers were offered to St. Othric; a voice spoke not aloud, but rather within the heads of all present; oaths were sworn to uphold the mission of St. Othric: those present would take up the cause of the destruction of the undead; the saint asked what it could do to embolden the foursome to carry on his crusade; boons were asked for, and granted: Tristan was told to open Othric's crypt and to take the saint's armor as his own; Luka was told to take the saint's medallion and use it to gain entry to the treasure chamber found prior without fear from assault; Tobias was instructed to take the skull from the altar (but not to let anyone else touch it); Kylic requested to take one of the saint's fingerbones so that he might construct a compass that always points to the greatest threat to the land.

The treasure was conveyed back up to the main floor of the church. The ghost asked them of their promise to set her free, but they found that this was not in their power to do. A promise broken! Surely that won't have ramifications in the days to come...

Oh, and the blackening around the wounds caused by Ventromere begins to spread; little by little, more flesh is turned black and horrid as it creeps toward its end.

* * *

The Spoils


675 each

3112 gp in copper, silver, electrum, and gold coins—all old coinage no longer in circulation, but it all spends the same

15 holy symbols of St. Othric (worth 5 gp each)
Seventy-five brass syringes (worth 2 gp each)
A set of six copper chalices with silver filigree, depicting the ancient Lamians (worth 25 gp each)
2125 gp in gemstones, gold ingots, and assorted jewelry

Eight warhammers and six war picks
Three rusted suits of plate armor, nine rusted shields, five rusted suits of ring mail, eleven rusted helms, and six rusted breastplates (worthless)
Four rusted greatswords (worthless)
7,000 wooden coins painted gold (worthless)
Fifteen thin, leather-bound prayer books

A trunk filled with six fine dresses and gowns, all remarkably well-preserved but hideously out of style (worth 25 gp each)
A bronze crown encrusted with emeralds (worth 750 gp)

A silvered rapier with a hilt of scarlet glass - silver rapier +1 to hit, +1 to damage, grants another attack as a bonus action, requires attunment

The armor of St. Othric - full plate, the wearer is immune to critical hits, requires attunement

The engraved skull of Iokanaan - requires attunement, the bearer can ask Iokanaan three questions upon awakening him—he knows quite a bit about arcane lore and undeath

The fingerbone of St. Othric—always points toward the current greatest enemy of St. Othric, grants the bearer +1 to all saving throws, requires attunement

Tobias, Luka, Tristan, and Kylic all get Inspiration if they didn't have it previously