Posts Tagged ‘cyclops’

The Tomb of Koban Hairfoot – Part 4

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2016

Day #2-29 (Fireday, 9th Dewsnap, 4333 BCCC): After battling the evil creature and then finding the Pendant of Winstone in a chamber that adjoined the evil creature’s bedchamber, Lightstep lit the two candles on the altar in that adjoining chamber, and said some prayers. Lightstep then carefully wrapped the Pendant and the chalice in cloth and placed them in his backpack. Gwenette asked him if he was going to take the candlesticks, but Lightstep said to leave them to burn down. By now, Clayton had poked his head into that room (through the 4’ high door), and hearing that exchange of words, said, “I think you should take the candles and candlesticks with us. If they will be needed for whatever ceremony is needed to use that pendant, well, we don’t want to have to come back for them!” Lightstep pondered that statement for a moment, then agreed that he should take the candlesticks also. Since Lightstep’s pack was sort of full, he gave the candlesticks to the halfling thief Falafela, to carry in her backpack.

There now ensued a lively discussion of how to leave the dungeon. Vox couldn’t stand on his feet without assistance, and especially needed help with walking. The party were also going to have to retrieve the body of Tureg, the dwarf, who had fallen in combat vs. some skeletons in the burial chamber of Reedus, and the party was also going to have to return the bones of Koban Hairfoot to his burial chamber in the level above the party’s current level. Some of the party thought of using the bed to carry Tureg’s body, but that idea went by the wayside as the bed was sort of heavy all by itself, and since it had held the body of the evil creature that had attacked them, they really didn’t want any part of the bed. They also considered breaking the doors off the wardrobe and using them as an improvised litter, but decided that the doors didn’t look sturdy enough. So finally they decided to use the table as a litter, after first breaking off its four legs. Fortunately the tabletop was not too heavy.

The party then left the bedchamber. Clayton led the way with a torch (and his sword drawn in case of any more attacks), then came Opalent and Gwenette, who were helping the energy-drained human fighter Vox the Just to walk. Then came Lightstep and Douag carrying the table with the bones of Koban Hairfoot upon it, Lightstep in the lead. Lightstep rested the table on the top of his backpack to help with carrying it, as he was only 3’1” tall (Douag was an even 4’ tall). Vandin Lakesplitter (dwarven fighter) and Falafela brought up the rear, Falafela carrying a torch. Vandin was very seriously wounded, and was doing all he could to just walk by himself.

After leaving the chamber, the party turned left after 10 feet, then turned right after another 10 feet, then passed through the shattered door to Reedus’ burial chamber. They needed to retrieve Tureg’s body from the black obsidian coffin of Reedus that they had left Tureg in, to keep his body safe from any vermin. When Clayton moved the lid off the coffin, he exclaimed, “Tureg’s arms are not in the same position that I left them! I left his arms crossed over his stomach, and now his hands are up by his head!” Clayton then checked for a pulse, and detected a faint beating of Tureg’s heart! Vandin then prodded Tureg with the butt-end of his war hammer, and shouted at Tureg to try to wake him up. Tureg gave out a slight, very quiet moan, and moved his head ever so slightly. That proved to everyone that he was indeed still alive!

The party then loaded Tureg onto the table along with Koban, and proceeded out the near door of the chamber, marching in the same order as noted above. They turned right at the main hallway, went about 40 feet, turned left, went another 90 feet or so, passing by the room on their left that they had earlier inspected that had three skeletons on the floor as well as a toppled podium and a burned book. They had no time for any more inspections now, though. After proceeding down a long hallway of 110 to 120 feet, they reached the right turn at the stairs to the upper level.

At this point, the stairs were narrower than the hallway, and in any event, the door they had to pass through at the top of the stairs was too narrow to carry anyone on the table, so the party had to shuttle people and bodies up the stairs one-by-one. Clayton led the way with the torch, then Opalent and Gwenette both helped Vox up the stairs. Then Opalent and Gwenette went back downstairs to bring up the table, turning it on end to get it through the door under the small waterfall. Then Lightstep and Douag carried up Tureg, and then Koban’s remains, and finally Vandin and Falafela ascended the stairs. The party left the door to the lower level open, to make it easier for anyone else to find the stairway down.

After leaving the “waterfall” room, the party turned right (having no choice in the decision as to which way to go), traveled about 40 feet, then made a quick left-right jog, then went another 40 feet, passing over the iron grate in the floor. They then turned left into the crypt room of Koban Hairfoot, about 30 minutes after leaving the tomb room of Reedus. They were sort of surprised to see the glass case that had covered Koban was still intact. Clayton said, “I guess Koban was able to lift the glass enough to slip himself out of the bottom to join us!” The party then reverently replaced the remains of Koban Hairfoot under his glass case, including his broken mace. Lightstep then said more prayers over Koban.

After leaving Koban, it only took another few minutes to reach the stairs to the surface. At about this time, the party’s two torches were flickering and were close to extinguishing themselves, so they lit a new torch, but only one torch (provided by Opalent). Clayton reckoned it must be getting close to midnight by now. “OK,” said Clayton, “we need to figure out how to get past that cyclops on the surface!” Nobody had a solid plan, although several ideas were tossed out to the group. Someone said, “Maybe we should see if the cyclops is still up there in the mausoleum?” They all agreed that it needed to be someone with infravision, so that left out the humans Clayton, Gwenette, or Vox (not to mention that Vox was too weak to ascend the stairs by himself). So, believing the halfling thief Falafela to have the best infravision, it was decided to have her take a peek, after others opened the lid of the tomb. The party had, of course, wisely decided to close the lid to the false coffin above when they descended into the dungeon. They had worked a lever at the bottom of the stairs to close the lid, and Opalent had wedged her dagger in the latch mechanism to keep it from possibly locking them in.

Falafela said, “Shine the torch up the stairs so I can see where Opalent’s dagger is at, then take the torch back down the hallway so no light shines up the stairs. Then have someone open the lid about a foot or so. Clayton and the others then retreated about 60 feet back up the hallway while leaving the legless tabletop with Tureg upon it close to the bottom of the stairs. When Falafela was in position with her hand upon the dagger, she whispered towards the bottom of the stairs, “OK, open the lid!” Vandin and Opalent worked the lever, and when the lid was opened about a foot, Falafela looked into the above-ground mausoleum. She saw the cyclops! He was sleeping in the far corner to the left of Falafela’s position. Falafela whispered down the stairs, “close the lid again,” and while Opalent and Vandin worked the lever to close the lid, Falafela stuck the dagger back in the latch to keep the latch from engaging. Then Falafela crept back down the stairs.

Falafela motioned Opalent and Vandin back down the hall to where the others were waiting with the torch. “Yes,” said Falafela, “the cyclops is sleeping in the mausoleum, about 40’ feet away in the left corner. He is sleeping on his left side, facing away from us. There now ensued much more discussion about how to get past the cyclops. Occasionally, someone had to remind everyone to not all try to talk at once, and to keep their voices quiet so as to not alert the cyclops to their presence.

Day #2-30 (Spiritday, 10th Dewsnap, 4333 BCCC): At some time during the discussion about how to get past the cyclops, midnight passed. One of the ideas was to lift the lid and shoot arrows at the cyclops, but that plan was nixed as the only competent bowman was Clayton, and he, being human, lacked infravision. It was also feared that shooting arrows might amount to only pinpricks to the cyclops, and might enrage him so that he would just hide behind one of the marble columns in the mausoleum or perhaps wait just outside the door to the exterior, making it impossible to ever leave. It was also suggested that someone from the party could sneak out of the dungeon and blind the cyclops by plunging a sword into the cyclops’ eye. But then a voice said, “But who will be the ‘someone’?” Nobody volunteered to be that “someone”! A dissenting voice, perhaps Opalent or Falafela, said, “Isn’t it sort of cruel to maim that cyclops? After all, he hasn’t caused any harm to any of us.” Someone quietly stated, “At least not yet!” A consensus was reached that trying to blind the cyclops also wouldn’t work, because he could just crawl out of the door and wait for the party to try to leave.

Another idea that was presented was to put together a mock skeleton from bones in the dungeon, and set them on fire after opening the lid, and try to scare the cyclops away. The plan went so far as having Falafela, Opalent, and Douag go back down the hallway (with the torch) to one of the barracks rooms off the side of the hallway and gather up a set of bones, including a rib cage and a skull. The other party members were not exactly thrilled to be left sitting in the dark during the short time the bones were being gathered. Of course, Lightstep didn’t care one way or another as to the discussion, as he had fallen asleep. But then as folks were getting ready to tie the bones to Opalent’s 10-foot pole, someone said, “You know, if this doesn’t scare away the cyclops, then he’s just going to be waiting for us!” So, this plan was discarded along with the other plans that had been discussed.

Clayton stated, “It’s too bad we didn’t think to arrange any way to signal Flenda and Jorgio, so they could arrange another diversion to draw the cyclops away from the mausoleum so we could make a break for it. Of course, how could we signal them without the cyclops knowing it? I suppose we could lift the lid a little and I could shoot a flaming arrow through the door to the outside, but what if the bowstring awoke the cyclops? Another problem we have is that we need to get the cyclops far enough away so that we can drag our wounded into the woods to our left, which will be about 150 yards away. One thing we have going for us is that it is another moonless night, so the darkness can hide us somewhat once we all get outside. I wonder how much starlight there is, and what the cloud cover is? Hmmmm….”

It didn’t take too much more discussion to decide that someone would have to sneak past the sleeping cyclops and then try to contact Flenda and Jorgio, whom, it was presumed, were still watching the mausoleum from somewhere outside. It was Flenda and Jorgio who had made an excellent diversion to draw the cyclops away from the mausoleum so that the rest of the party could find a way into the dungeon beneath the mausoleum. Falafela was selected for the hazardous duty of sneaking past the cyclops, as, after all, she was the group’s “thief” and so should be the best at sneaking about in the dark. But before she left, the party finalized the rest of their plan. The plan was for Falafela, once she found Flenda and Jorgio, to have them come down and stir up the cyclops’ goat herd. They would make coyote howls and try to get the goats to moving about and making noise. When the party inside the mausoleum heard the coyote yells, they were to try to wake up the cyclops enough so that he would go outside to investigate. Then, when one person from the party in the mausoleum noticed the cyclops was far enough away, they would hurriedly usher everyone else up the stairs, then go outside and make for the woods to their left as fast as they could go.

Finally, when all was set, Douag and Clayton worked the lever to raise the lid enough for Falafela to exit the coffin-stairs. Falafela very carefully and quietly put forth first one leg, and then the other, onto the floor of the mausoleum. She hesitated for a second to ensure the cyclops hadn’t changed position, then she hurriedly tiptoed towards the door to the outside. When she had safely made it to the outside, she briefly paused for a deep breath, relieved to be free of the stale air in the dungeon beneath the mausoleum. Opalent stayed at the head of the stairs to watch the cyclops, and to let the rest of the party know when the cyclops departed.

Falafela quickly made her way to the southwest, across the clearing that surrounded the mausoleum. She headed for the bluff upon which Flenda and Jorgio had lit their signal fire to attract the cyclops the previous late afternoon. Fortunately, although there was no moonlight, there was only about 10% cloud cover, so there was enough starlight to navigate by. When Falafela was atop the bluff, she started whispering, “Flenda! Jorgio! Where are you?” When that didn’t attract her companions, she picked up two rocks and started banging them together in a rhythmic manner. Tap tap tap! Tap tap tap! went the rocks as Falafela moved about the bluff, listening intently after each series of taps. Finally, after a couple of minutes, Jorgio spoke out from the darkness, “Stop banging those rocks together!” After a quick exchange of hellos with Falafela, Jorgio went off into the darkness to fetch Flenda.

When Jorgio and Flenda rejoined Falafela atop the bluff, Falafela explained the group’s plan. She said they needed to create a disturbance among the cyclops’ herd of goats in order to wake him up and have him leave the mausoleum to see what was molesting his goats. They would also have to draw him to the bluff, or at least far enough away from the mausoleum so that the rest of the party would be able to reach the safety of the woods on the far side of the mausoleum. Flenda said, “I can make excellent coyote calls!” Jorgio chimed in with, “I think we should also light a fire. Even if the cyclops doesn’t pursue us far enough, if he sees another fire he’ll have to come and investigate it.” Presciently, Flenda and Jorgio had gathered more wood for another fire, after the cyclops had extinguished their previous bonfire the previous afternoon.

While Jorgio was kindling the new fire, Falafela explained the party’s plan to meet along the north bank of the stream, about a hundred yards into the woods on the other, eastern side of the mausoleum. When the fire was burning strong enough, the trio descended the bluff and re-entered the clearing. They carefully stole their way towards the sleeping cyclops in the mausoleum, and when about 50 yards from there, they started prodding goats with their feet or with sticks. That served to get some goats on their feet and bleating a little. Then Flenda let out with the most wondrous and horrific imitation of a coyote howl that either Falafela or Jorgio had ever heard! Suddenly, most of the goat herd was awake and ready to flee! The three adventurers started shooing the goats towards the bluff to the west, Flenda in the rear and Falafela and Jorgio on the flanks, to keep the goats moving in the desired direction. Flenda occasionally let out with another blood-curdling howl, and spurred the goats to moving faster and to making more noise.

All this while, about 30 minutes worth, Opalent had maintained her vigil over the sleeping cyclops. Opalent could hear the commotion outside, but the cyclops was still sound asleep. Not particularly desirous of going over and kicking the cyclops in the back to wake him, Opalent used one of the bones the party had gathered for a possible decoy, and threw it at the recumbent cyclops. The cyclops merely shrugged it off and continued his slumber. Opalent went down the stairs to get another, bigger bone. She also ordered the lid be raised all the way to give her room for more arm swing for more velocity for the next throw. Although Opalent had to throw the bone to the side of the marble column that was between her and the cyclops, she made an excellent throw that firmly struck the cyclops right in the middle of his back. The cyclops brought his right arm around to scratch his back where the bone had hit him. Then the cyclops suddenly woke up! He sat up, then turned and looked right at where Opalent had thrown the bone from the pseudo coffin! But Opalent had quickly retreated down the stairs to the level below and so was not seen.

After a few seconds of trying to clear his head and trying to figure out what had touched him, the cyclops finally heard the commotion outside with his goat herd. He gathered up his huge eight-foot long club and crawled outside. Opalent heard the cyclops crawl out the door, then she arose to the top of the stairs again. Opalent then climbed out of the coffin and crossed the floor to the door to the outside. She could see the cyclops marching across the clearing towards the right, directly away from the mausoleum. When the cyclops was at least 50 yards away, Opalent hurried back to the stairs and whispered as loud as she could, “Let’s go now! The cyclops is moving away!” Gwenette then helped Vox most of the way up the stairs, and then Opalent joined in to help him climb out of the coffin-stairs. Then Gwenette went back down the stairs and helped carry the table to the surface, then went back to help with Tureg. Somebody did have the good sense to wake Lightstep, else he might have been left behind. The party left the burning torch at the bottom of the stairs, and didn’t take time to close the lid to the coffin they had just emerged from.

Then the party loaded the unconscious Tureg on the tabletop, and were able to easily carry it horizontally through the wide door of the mausoleum to the outside. The party then turned left and moved out for the woods. While they were moving as fast as they could, it was only at the pace of a brisk walk. They bunched up into a tight group, and moved so as to put the mausoleum building between them and the cyclops, should that giant creature decide to look back. Everyone could breathe a sigh of relief when they all finally reached the woods. Clayton quickly took a head count to ensure everyone was present and accounted for. Then, as they were about 50 yards north of the stream, they angled their way into the woods towards the stream. There was much stumbling about in the woods, as nobody dared light a torch where the cyclops could see it.

They finally made it to the stream, and then proceeded a few more paces to the east until Clayton reckoned they had made it about 100 yards into the woods. As could be expected, it was pitch dark in the woods with the leafy canopy blocking out all starlight from above. Clayton ordered the group to stay put while he reconnoitered back towards the clearing. A few moments later, he reappeared and said, “We are about 100 yards inside the woods. The cyclops should not be able to see us here. As long as we don’t make any loud noise we should be OK. We’ll just have to wait for the others to join us. Try to get some rest, I will watch our back trail.”

After being pursued by the cyclops across the clearing, Falafela, Jorgio, and Flenda gained the relative safety of the bluff. They moved past the bonfire and struck out into the woods. They crossed to the south bank of the stream in order to get farther into the woods, and then they moved to their left, keeping the stream to their left. They did have to find a way down the cliff to the side of the waterfall, but then they found the traveling wasn’t too bad if they stayed just inside the fringe of the woods on the opposite side of the stream from the cyclops. As they made their way through the woods, nobody spoke unless it was to ensure their companions were still with them, and that they weren’t straying too far from the stream.

After about 90 minutes of hard travel through the dark woods, the trio reached the others. After crossing the stream, and getting wet and a bit chilled in the 50-something degree air, everyone was back together. Clayton spoke and said, “We should be safe to light a couple of torches now, else it will be nearly impossible to travel through the forest at night. We will have to alternate who is carrying Tureg and who is helping Vox to walk. And Vandin, are you able to walk yourself?” Vandin grunted that he would be able to manage carrying his own weight. Opalent and Douag were the first torchbearers, Falafela supplying Opalent with a torch. Clayton reckoned it was probably about 1:30 in the morning when they set out.

After a very hard forced march of three miles, always keeping the stream within earshot on their right, they finally reached the main trail. It had taken about 6 hours to cover 3 miles. That was about twice the time it had taken them to cover that same territory the day before, except during the previous day they were in the daylight and were not encumbered with wounded members of their party. At the intersection of the stream and the trail, they all rested for 30 minutes and ate some of their jerky and hardtack. The eight conscious party members ate a total of 4 days worth of those “iron” rations, then refilled their waterskins before resuming their march around 8 am. At least they didn’t need torches any more, as enough light was filtering through from above so that they could see the trail. It did seem like it was overcast above the trees, though.

The party followed the winding trail for another three miles, leaving the stream far behind them. Finally, when some party members were just about at the limit of their endurance, they emerged from the woods. To their relief, they did see the woodcutting party from Karnack’s castle, along with the 5 cavalrymen as their escort. The woodcutters had almost given up hope of seeing the party emerge from the woods, and had just loaded their two wagons with cut firewood. The wagons were quickly unloaded, and then the party members clambered aboard, trying to use whatever they could for padding for their more seriously wounded members of Tureg, Vox, and Vandin. On the way back to Karnack’s castle, most of the party fell asleep and so didn’t feel the jolts when the unsprung wagons hit bumps in the trail.

Eventually, the party all made it back to Karnack’s castle where they were helped to their bedchambers. The wounded members Tureg, Vandin, Vox, and Douag were given excellent aid and had their wounds washed and bandaged by several women at the castle who specialized in healing wounds. Word was sent to Karnack that the party had success in finding the Pendant of Winstone, and then the party all fell fast asleep. Lightstep did make sure that the scroll he had found with a drawing of the Pendant upon it was forwarded to Karnack, so Karnack could make an early start in trying to decipher what its strange runes said.

The Tomb of Koban Hairfoot: Part 1

Sunday, January 17th, 2016

DM note: This is a longer post than usual, as it gets back into what Dungeons & Dragons players and characters live for, a “Dungeon Crawl” where the characters go down into an underground labyrinth in search of treasure.


Day #2-29 (Fireday, 9th Dewsnap, 4333 BCCC): The party awoke the next morning in Karnack’s castle and found the weather had cleared with bright blue skies and with only a few scattered clouds; however, after their heavy drinking of the previous evening, Vandin had a minor hangover and Douag was nursing a major hangover. Fortunately for him, Vox had no after-effects of his drinking. By around 8:00 am, they were all at breakfast, eating hotcakes with syrup, and sausage links. Falafela mentioned how she really enjoyed the hot breakfasts, as she was getting really tired of eating hardtack along the trail. Around 9:00 am they were all summoned to see Karnack in his tower. When all of the party (including Douag) were assembled, Karnack addressed them. “The past day and a half, my scribes and I have been very busy indeed. We have scoured through all of my books and tomes, and I believe we have found something that may aid you in your quest.”

Karnack continued, “Decades, if not a century or more ago, the cleric Koban Hairfoot was a great and powerful healer in the region. He grew up from humble beginnings to become an ardent warrior of his holy faith. Koban survived many adventures with several groups of adventurers and his fame and fortune grew, as did his skill in the clerical arts. Koban specialized in the creation of healing mixtures and made a habit of curing plague victims, as his own parents succumbed to disease when he was very young. Many villagers owed their lives to Koban’s tireless pursuit to finding healing methods to diseases that afflicted the land. Koban’s quest to cure disease finally led him to his demise in a remote part of the Anshar Forest. There, among his comrades, Koban fell at an old dungeon complex. Out of respect the local gentry helped build his crypt to honor his memory. In the years that have passed, most folks of the region have forgotten the location of the crypt.”

“It is known that Koban found the Necklace of Harbinge, indeed, he was reportedly buried with it. That necklace is a gold, crescent shaped device with opals and turquoises, on a gold chain. It can be used with a gold chalice of high value to create a potion that can cure many diseases. But, Koban was looking for another, even more powerful artifact, the Pendant of Winstone. The pendant is gold, mostly round with a sort of handle on one side, and a large jet-black jewel in its center. Reputedly, the pendant must also be used with a gold chalice of high value.”

“Bring ye back those artifacts, and we may be able to devise a cure for the villagers of Crystal Shores!”

“I will send 5 of my cavalry with you as an escort. Two of them will carry crossbows. They will escort you as far as the entrance to the forest. I will also send my ranger, Clayton, to guide you through the forest to the tomb.” Karnack motioned to a tall woodsy looking fellow wearing brown with a deep green cloak who was standing behind him. “He has visited the site of Koban’s crypt in the past, although not for a few years. And, to save you all walking, I will send two wagons with teamsters to drive them. They will take you to the entrance to the forest, but cannot go farther because the trail into the woods is only wide enough for foot travel. They will also take a few woodcutters with them and will return to the castle with loads of wood. They will return to the same location the following morning, along with the cavalry, and can provide transportation back to the castle.”

Before the party left Karnack’s presence, Opalent presented him with a gold ring (with one of the small opals from Bella Dora) that Opalent made in the craft shop. Karnack thanked her for the gift.

It was finally around 10:00 am when the party had checked their gear and were all set to go. Between then, they had 25 person-days worth of rations (mostly hardtack and jerky, with a bit of dried fruit) and a whopping 31 torches. They loaded into the wagons and were on their way. The teamsters drove their teams west along the cart trail that followed the south shore of Bridgefield Creek. Around three miles from the castle, the cart path crossed over to the north (left) bank across a small wooden bridge. It should be noted that the creek averaged about three feet deep, with a few shallower places and a few places where the depth reached as much as 6 to 10 feet. The creek flowed towards the east, towards the village of Bridgefields. The party tried to glean any information they could from the teamsters and woodcutters, but they didn’t know much about the interior of the Anshar Forest. They said they only went as far into the forest as they needed in order to haul out enough timber to load their wagons. The cavalry escort, for the most part, were too far away to speak with, as they were scouting ahead and on the flanks of the wagons.

After about a 45-minute wagon ride, during which Vandin had napped almost the entire way and Douag was moaning with his hangover every time his wagon hit a bump (the wagons were basically buckboards with sides, but without any sort of springs). When the party dismounted at the entrance to the forest, the guards repeated that they would be back with the wagons the following morning. Then Clayton spoke to the group. “We will start out walking on a good trail. It will wind around a bit, and after a few miles it will reach the shore of the Bridgefield Creek. We will then follow the north bank of that stream to the west for another three miles or so. That second three miles will be much harder hiking as there isn’t any permanent trail to follow. Make sure you keep close together, and make a minimum of noise. We will take a lunch break when we reach the creek.”

By 11:00 am the party entered the forest. The trail started mostly south, but once made a sharp turn to the right to loop around an obstruction and seemed to be heading back north for a quarter-mile or so, then made another left turn to head back to the southwest. Falafela was especially keeping track of the windings of the trail, and periodically looked back to see what the trail looked like heading the other direction. When the party had penetrated about a mile into the woods, a large pack of birds (they looked like finches) took noisy flight. Clayton wasn’t sure if the party had spooked them, or if something else was the cause. He halted the party, motioned for silence, and directed them to rest to the side, just off the trail. He then went and scouted ahead, alone. After about 5 minutes he came back and said, “I believe it was us who startled the birds. The only thing I worry about is that it of course could have alerted others to our presence.”

After about two miles into the forest, where the trail turned from mostly southwest to mostly south, the party could hear what sounded like a horn trumpeting far to the south of them. Could it have been a bugle? An animal sound? Clayton mentioned that sometimes the deep woods played tricks with sound, and not to worry about the sound. This part of the woods was very dense, and it was difficult to see the sky at all. Also, it was rather dark as no sunlight could penetrate through the canopy of leaves above. Although it was still mid-spring, the southerly clime meant the trees filled out with leaves early, and there were a number of evergreen coniferous trees about. If one left the trail, there was a surprising amount of undergrowth, in spite of the low light conditions. Although it had rained steadily two days ago, the ground was barely damp.

Finally, after three miles and about one and a half hours of walking, the party reached the creek. Clayton encouraged everyone to remove their backpacks, rest, and drink as much water as they could, then to refill their water skins. He also mentioned that they would be near the stream all the rest of the way to the tomb, so water should not be a problem. The party also ate, and rested for a full 30 minutes. Then, they hoisted their backpacks once again, and proceeded on their way. At the rest stop, Falafela made sure to mark the trail they would need to use to return the way they had come. It was also noted that the trail crossed the creek at their resting place, and the creek was quite fordable at that place as it was only one foot deep. The water was clear and cold, and quite refreshing to drink.

It took another three hours to cover the three miles or so to the edge of the clearing where the tomb of Koban Hairfoot was located. It was now mid-afternoon, probably around 4:00 pm. The clearing was about 300 yards in diameter, with the creek along the south part of the clearing. The crypt itself was north of the creek, and just about in the center of the clearing. There were a couple of low, gentle rolling hills in the clearing, and on the far side of the clearing was a granite cliff about 50 feet high, with the creek tumbling down the cliff in a waterfall, then into a wider area to make a pond about 50 yards south of the crypt.

Clayton cautioned everyone to silence, and to stay out of sight of the clearing. He said, “This is strange, there is a herd of goats here, maybe 50 or a hundred of them. They were not here when I reconnoitered this area a few years ago. You all stay back in the woods while I do some scouting. Clayton was about to walk to the north through the woods, but Falafela joined him. The duo worked their way to the north of the crypt while staying under cover of the woods, noting that the wind was out of the south so that they were downwind of anybody or anything in the clearing, and that being downwind they shouldn’t spook the goats. That’s when they saw the cyclops! He was fully 20 feet tall, carrying a massive club that looked like a small tree trunk (it was probably 8 feet long). The only garment the cyclops was wearing was a fur loincloth. The duo waited a few minutes, didn’t see any other creatures other than the cyclops and his goats, then silently made their way back to the others of the party.

“Well, we have a quandary on our hands!” related Clayton. There is a 20-foot tall cyclops in the field on the other side of the crypt!” That sparked a bit of a discussion, so much so that Clayton wanted everyone to move farther back into the forest so they wouldn’t attract any unwanted attention from the cyclops. Gwenette stayed at the forest’s edge and kept an eye on the clearing in case anything came their way. The party discussed various methods to deal with the cyclops, including using Clayton’s and Vox’s bows to shoot it with arrows, at which time Vox mentioned that he had never even shot his bow at anything! Clayton remarked that he wished he would have had time to take Vox target shooting and then hunting. Clayton also reminded the party that a cyclops could usually throw a 40-pound rock quite a ways, perhaps as far as 50 yards! One good thing, Clayton noted, was that such creatures usually lived solitary lives so there probably wouldn’t be any other creatures to have to deal with. Vandin took the opportunity of the discussion to take another nap. By now, the long hike and the element of nearby danger had cleared Douag’s head and he took an active part in the discussion.

One of the options discussed were to go and try to steal a couple of goats to get the cyclops to chase, but that idea was shot down with a reminder of the cyclops’ rock-throwing prowess. Finally, it was thought a diversionary fire might draw the cyclops off in the opposite direction, but who would set the fire(s)? Flenda and Jorgio then volunteered for that hazardous duty. Everyone else figured that maybe Flenda and Jorgio would want to do that so they could be alone, as everyone had noticed how the two had been spending as much time as possible in the near company of the other. Flenda had even insisted on walking closest to Jorgio during the hike into the woods.

Between the two of them, Flenda and Jorgio possessed eight torches and enough food for a day or so. Flenda also mentioned they could probably catch a squirrel or a rabbit (or even a goat, chimed in Jorgio) to supplement their rations. They did not own a tinderbox, though, and to avoid them having to search for some flint (of which there was good chance to find some atop the granite cliff, although there was a chance of being spotted by the cyclops before they got a fire going), Vox loaned them his tinderbox. So off they went, as it was now around 4:30 pm, meaning there was less than two hours of daylight left. Clayton reminded everyone that it would be a moonless night, with only starlight to provide natural illumination. And while the dwarves, elves, and halflings all had infravision, it was of limited range meaning a cyclops could be almost upon them before they would sense his heat signature in the dark! At this point all of the party members made sure their water skins were full from the creek.

It took Flenda and Jorgio about 45 minutes to work their way around the south edge of the clearing. They first had to cross the stream, and then they went a hundred or so yards into the woods to make less of a chance of their scent being carried to the goats. They eventually made their way to the top of the cliff to the west of the clearing and saw that the cyclops was seated on a rock, watching his flock, looking quite contented. They then spent about 15 minutes gathering as much brush as they could, and getting it close to the edge of the cliff. Then, about an hour  before sunset, they started a small fire back from the cliff with their torch, and then carried that fire on two sticks to the brush they had gathered. Within a few minutes, the bright yellow flames of the brush were standing out against the dark background of the forest on top of the cliff. At first, the cyclops just gazed with his mono-vision at the flames, but when the human duo of Flenda and Jorgio began to jump up and down, yelling and swinging their arms to attract attention, the monster stood up, and then began to walk in the direction of the cliff.

Flenda and Jorgio knew the cyclops probably wouldn’t directly climb the cliff, but would go to either side of the cliff to gain altitude. When he went to the north side of the cliff, the human pair swiftly ran to the south, going deeper into the woods. Flenda  told Jorgio, “That cyclops will have to crawl to move quickly through the woods, otherwise his head will be up in the branches!” But Jorgio answered, “But what if the cyclops just breaks off the treetops and throws them at us…?”

When the rest of the party noticed the cyclops heading toward the cliff, they moved fast. They quickly crossed the 150 yards of open ground to the crypt, trying at all times to keep the crypt between them and the cyclops so that if the cyclops would turn around, he wouldn’t see them. The crypt itself was made of rough-hewn gray granite blocks, fitted together. The building was about 110 feet wide across its entrance, and a bit longer than that in its depth. At its tallest point, a granite domed roof, it was 25 feet high. At its front, facing the pond in the creek to the south, were several wide granite steps leading up to its entrance. The entrance had two black wooden doors, reinforced with iron bands, each door measuring 8 feet tall and four feet wide, making an 8 foot by 8 foot aperture. The doors had evidently been barred and locked from the outside, but they had been forced open from the outside previous to the adventurers’ arrival. The party was slightly out of breath when they reached the crypt, and then one by one they turned the corner of the building and crept into the dim entrance, watching to ensure the cyclops did not see them.

Once they were all within, Gwenette stood watch in the shadow inside the doors, watching to see if the cyclops was headed back their way. Inside the tomb, they noticed a strong body odor, most likely from the cyclops’ bedding. In the southeast corner inside the crypt was much debris, mostly old rags and some dirt and branches. There were also a number of animal (and possibly humanoid?) bones littering the interior, and some animal flesh, apparently the remains of a recent dinner. “At least the cyclops didn’t ‘do his business’ inside the place where he slept!” said one of the party, possibly Tureg. Besides the debris, the floor was made of white marble with gold veins in it. There were four rough granite pillars holding up the ceiling, and in the northwest and northeast corners of the interior were two circular staircases that went up about 15 feet to an observation deck across the back of the interior. But the main feature of the interior, in the middle of the floor, was a carved marble crypt that resembled a sleeping person on a padded bed, and the bed was suspended on the wings of eagles on all four sides. Around that feature was a red pentagram inlaid into the floor. And, at either side of the pseudo-coffin were two white marble angels, one on each side of the coffin. The angels faced the entrance door, and were in a battle-ready crouch, each holding a marble sword in its hand.

Although it was a little dark inside the building, there was enough of the setting sun to the southwest to illuminate the inside enough for the party to see these features. Quickly the party examined every part of the inside. The marble coffin seemed to be of a single piece of marble, and nobody was able to open it in any manner. Lightstep sensed an aura of some sort emanating from the coffin. Finally, Opalent noticed that one of the angels could be rotated. Then Lightstep verified that the other angel’s arm could move. Opalent turned the angel to the right of the crypt to have it face the marble coffin, then raised its arm. Lightstep then raised the arm of the angel to the left, then rotated it to face the coffin. After that, a loud “click” was heard, like that of a latch being released. Vandin and others were then able to raise the lid.

Some of the characters, particularly Vandin, were ready to grab for the Pendant of Winstone and be on their way, but lo! There was no body inside. Instead, what was presented to the party was a solid white mass of cobwebs! Vandin borrowed Opalent’s 10-foot pole and whisked away the cobwebs as quickly as he could. Then they all saw stairs leading down into a black void. Lightstep and Opalent lit torches, and then Vandin and Lightstep led the way, single file, down the stairs. While this was going on, the ranger Clayton was reminding others that Koban had found a dungeon below ground at this feature, and he was believed to have been buried in the lower reaches of that dungeon. Finally, when all the others had made it down, Gwenette brought up the rear.

The party speculated about what the cyclops would do when he returned and saw the lid to the marble coffin open. They also saw a large lever protruding from the floor at the bottom of the stairs. They quickly surmised that the lever would close the lid, but not wanting to chance possibly locking themselves in, possibly for all of eternity, Opalent used her dagger to wedge the lid so it would not close all of the way while Vandin and Douag worked the lever to close the lid. The party then proceeded down the hallway from the stairs. Inside the hallway, the walls were also of rough-hewn granite, about 10 feet wide with a 10-foot tall ceiling. At random places on the walls were iron sconces, sans torches. The iron of the sconces had surface rust, but were not rusted too badly seeing as they had been installed at least 100 years before. There was not much evidence of moisture.

The party only went about 40 feet when the corridor turned 90 degrees to the left, then back to the right. Although, if they were to have gone straight after the left, they could see 20 feet in front of them what looked like a solid wall of cobwebs. Lightstep used his torch to burn away the webs, and inside they found a circular chamber of 30 feet diameter. They noted that the dust on the floor had not been disturbed, and around the walls, frescoes had been painted many years ago, portraying ordinary life around the area, probably from 100 years or so ago. Some of the areas of the frescoes had peeled off. Douag and Opalent checked for stonework traps and for secret doors, respectively, but detected nothing. The party then went back to the hallway and took the other passage that was formerly to their right, although now it was to their left.

After heading in their new direction for 20 (human-sized) paces or so, the hallway once again branched. Ninety-degrees to the left was another hallway, while if they went straight ahead they could see a right corridor about at the extremity of the light from their torch. They decided to take the left passageway. About 25 paces down that passage was an anomaly in the floor. Right in the middle of the hallway, one of the paving blocks was raised about 3 inches above the normal floor height. Nobody wanted to walk on that stone, lest it prove to be a trap. The party members checked for stonework traps; none were detected. But not wanting to tempt the fates, all party members stepped around the raised block.

About 50 feet past the raised block, there was a side corridor to the right. That side corridor went about 30 feet, turned right, and then had a wooden door another 10 feet down the hall. The other corridor, in the direction the party had been heading, turned left, then back to the right after 20 feet, then went straight as far as they could see with their torchlight. So, the party decided to investigate the right hallway.

When the party came to the door, Vandin tested it, found it unlocked, and pushed it open. It opened surprisingly easy, in spite of no hinge lubrication for decades. Inside was a room about 40 feet long and 30 feet wide. Along the far wall were wooden racks full of wooden weapons, apparently once used for training purposes. Along the long wall to the right, many bones were fastened upon the wall, and in the center of the wall was a large skeleton, apparently of an ogre. The ogre skeleton was fastened to the wall intact, and there appeared to be writing on the wall around the skeleton. Although none could read the words that were written, they did point to various parts of the ogre’s bones, like they were part of training regimen, instructing trainees as to the best places to strike an ogre. Opalent moved in for a closer look at the writing, but as she quickly approached the skeleton, its skull suddenly dropped from its upright position so that its jaw rested on its sternum! This caused a moment’s consternation until Opalent figured it must have just been the air she moved that had caused the movement of the skull. The party did a thorough look-around of the “training room,” then departed.

After leaving the training room, the party resumed their original direction of travel, away from the raised stone in the hallway floor. The party’s marching order at this time was Vandin & Vox in the front, followed by Gwenette and Lightstep, then Falafela and Opalent, then Clayton and Tureg, and Douag was the rear-guard. Lightstep and Opalent were carrying lit torches. After several left-right 90-degree bends in the corridor, they came to a dead end at a wooden door. With a little bit of effort, Vox was able to push the door open. Inside the door was a room about 30 feet long and 20 feet wide, and it looked to have once been an armory. There were overturned empty weapon racks, with some old, rusted, broken weapons strewn about (such as broken sword blades and broken spear shafts), and a large wooden chest against the wall in the back of the room. As the party moved into the room, they noticed two full skeletons on the floor, mixed in with the debris. Vandin wasn’t taking any chances with the skeletons — he immediately set upon the skeletons and crushed their skulls with his hammer. Lightstep then prayed for the souls of the departed, whomever those skeletons may have been in their previous lives.

Falafela then went to the large wooden chest and checked it for traps, but didn’t find any. Not taking any chances, though, Vox then borrowed Opalent’s 10-foot pole and used it to open the lid of the unlocked chest. A quick observation showed the interior of the chest was empty. Vox and Lightstep then made a closer examination of the chest, and determined it had no false bottom or other secret storage areas. Vandin then kicked the chest in disgust. Opalent then examined the floor under the skeletons and the right side wall for secret passages, but found none. By this time the party’s two lit torches were about half-burned, meaning they had been in the dungeon about 30 minutes.

The party then retraced their steps, using the same marching order as above, until they once again came to the raised stone in the floor. Vox really, really wanted to step on that raised block to see what would happen, but several party members vociferously talked him out of that action. Vandin did a close examination for any stonework traps, and being satisfied that there were no traps, the party pushed on, once again carefully avoiding stepping on that raised stone.

About 10 (human-sized) paces past the raised block, the party re-entered the passageway to the surface. But instead of heading right towards the surface, they instead took the left passage, towards the unknown. About 30 feet or so, the hallway branched to the right, and they took that passage. After another 50 feet, the hallway split to the left and to the right. After 10 feet in either direction, there were closed wooden doors. Falafela was brought forward to check the door on the left, but didn’t find any traps. Vandin tried to open the door, but it was stuck, so he applied his hammer to it, and the door popped open. Someone towards the rear of the party commented, “If there is anyone or anything else around, they now definitely know we’re here!” Inside the room were several broken bunk beds, and some broken clay pots. The party did not spend much time in this room. The torches were about 2/3 burned by now, so the party had been in the dungeon about 40 minutes.

Falafela then returned to the hallway and went to the door on the right. She once again searched for any traps, and once again found none. Vox tried to open the door, but it was stuck. He put his shoulder to it, but still could not budge it. Vandin then brought forth his hammer and smashed the door open. (After all, when all you have is a hammer, everything looks like it should be smashed with your hammer, n’est-pas?) Inside the room, the party saw more broken bunk beds on their sides, but also piles of loose bones. Some of the bones were wrapped in cloth, and the tattered cloth appeared to have been sliced by edged weapons. One of the piles of bones had an old rusted broken sword blade embedded in it. It did appear that a battle had taken place in this room, many years, perhaps even a century, ago. When the party looked closer at the bones, they found four humanoid skulls. Douag speculated that this room must have been a barracks or a guardroom, and it looked like the guards and been attacked and slain. There were also four intact, closed footlockers present.

The party then determined what was in the four footlockers. Vox checked the first one — it was empty. Falafela next checked one, and it was also empty. Opalent checked the third, although she was warned not to lest she trigger a trap, but it was merely an empty footlocker. Falafela then checked the last footlocker, and it, like the others, was devoid of contents. Lightstep said, “It looks like someone else has already cleaned out this place.” It should be noted that while in the room, Vandin did not feel compelled to smash any of the skulls.

So they all went back to the main passage, Vandin and Vox once again in the lead, and turned right to continue in their original direction. After 30 feet, the corridor turned 90 degrees to the left. After another 60 feet, the corridor branched to the right, and five feet into that branch was a closed wooden door. The party also noticed that if they would have gone straight, there appeared to be another passage diverging to the right not too far down the hall. But since the party was trying to be systematic about their explorations, they decided they must first see what there was to see behind this door. Of course Falafela did the obligatory search for traps, and when none were found, Vandin took his turn at trying the door. He was able to open it by degrees by putting his shoulder to it, but it squeaked and squawked ferociously all the while he was forcing it open.

Inside the door, the party proceeded about 30 feet when the hall widened into an octagonal chamber that was about 30 feet across from one parallel wall to its opposite wall. In the center of the room appeared the final resting place of Koban Hairfoot. Upon a marble table with the words “Koban Hairfoot” etched in its sides was a glass coffin, or at least a glass covering over the bones of Koban Hairfoot. Surprisingly, there was not too much dust on the top of the glass. Koban himself, or at least his skeleton, as all that was left of him was bones, was wearing a crown and a gold and jewel encrusted surcoat. Next to his body was his silver holy symbol, and a broken footman’s mace. It was at this time that the two torches were nearly burned to extinguishment, so the party lit two new torches (supplied by Vox and Gwenette). This marked about 60 minutes they had been below-ground.

When the new torches had been lit, the party noticed the murals in five of the angular walls of the chamber. From left to right, the murals depicted these scenes: 1) a young cleric watching what looked like cultists killing a family, perhaps the cleric’s family; 2) a cleric (presumably the same cleric) with an adventuring party; 3) that same cleric and his party posing with a slain green dragon; 4) the cleric healing peasants; and 5) that same cleric meeting his demise from electrical lightning bolts. Then four of the party, Vox, Clayton, Gwenette, and Opalent, lifted the glass covering off of Koban’s tomb and gently set it upon the floor. The party then examined Koban more closely, and inside his surcoat they found what looked like the Necklace of Harbinge, one of the artifacts that Karnack had mentioned had been buried with Koban. It was in the shape of a crescent moon, with a number of small opals and turquoises embedded in it, and was attached to a golden chain. Lightstep took the Necklace and placed it around his own neck for safekeeping. No other possessions of Koban were disturbed, and then Lightstep prayed most reverently over Koban for several minutes. When Lightstep had finished, he directed the party to replace the glass lid.

While all of the above was taking place, Tureg was watching their back-trail down the corridor. And Douag said he recognized the murals as being the story of Koban’s life. And since there was a door on the left side of Koban’s burial chamber (relative to the other door from which they had entered), Vox tried the door. As the hinges were on his side of the door, Vox pulled the door towards him. The door squeaked only a little, and opened with relatively little effort. Outside the door, which was set back about five feet from the main hallway, were passages going to the left and to the right, although the right passage turned to its left after a short distance. The party reckoned that the left passage led back to the hallway outside the other door to Koban’s chamber, so they proceeded to the right. At about this time Opalent made the observation that “Vox is learning to pray!” Lightstep answered with “Praying for wealth is not praying!” Vox then said, “I just want to find the Pendant and get out of this place!”

After the initial left turn of the hallway just after they left Koban’s chamber, the hall went straight for 90 or a hundred feet, then turned right. After another 30 feet, the hallway dead-ended, although there was a door on the right-side wall at the dead-end. Naturally, Falafela checked for hidden traps, and finding none moved back so Vandin could open the door. He had to put his shoulder into it, but with a moderate amount of squeaking the door opened. After a short passage inside the door was a sort of diamond shaped room, roughly 20 feet deep and 30 feet wide. It was quite apparently a library, as bookshelves lined all the walls inside the room, and the shelves were filled with old books. In the center of the room was a 4-foot square wooden table with two chairs. There were also some books and loose papers scattered about on the floor.

While Vox stood guard in the hallway outside the room, Opalent speculated that there might be a book here that could explain how to use the Necklace of Harbinge or the Pendant of Winstone! Lightstep cast a Detect Magic spell, but detected no magical auras. Opalent wanted to check the bookcases for secret passages that might lie behind them. And Vox leaned into the room and offered the suggestion to check the books and papers on the floor.

(to be continued)

— The Dungeon Master

DM note: What lies ahead for our intrepid party? Will they find the Pendant of Winstone? Will they all return to the surface alive? Check back in the future for more adventures!

Read The Tomb of Koban Hairfoot – Part 2