TSM Update: Questions Three

IN OUR LAST (few) SESSION(s)…

…our heroes descended into the lost dwarven mine of Dol Seguria.  At the base of the ladder which ended in a tunnel heading both east and west, a large barrel, with its contents partially spilled greeted them.  And not far away, a drunken ogre reclined.  On “watch.”  He was surrounded by other barrels, seemingly of recent vintage, clearly marked with the symbol of Hugo’s distillery.

The ogre, Greb, tried to stop the heroes, but proved no match for them.  Beyond, the heroes discovered that the tunnel led to an area of different, presumably much more ancient construction. Two identical stairs led to a great open hall. The incessant drumming that the heroes had heard emanated from a crew of orc drummers down on the floor. There was a buzz of activity, including runners who would report to the drum leader, which seemed to inform the resulting drumming patterns, and a runner who had been waiting on one knee then would run off, to be replaced by the new runner.

In seeking alternatives to a brazen entrance down the open stairs, the heroes found a “trap door” (neither trapped Nor truly concealed) covering two open chutes, one running to a space under the stairs to the north, the other to the south.

Attickus discovered that Segur’s map was changing. On the roughly drawn layout a new path was superimposed, showing a route down the stairs and to the right (south) and leading to a door along the southern wall.

The heroes decided to use the chute and attempt to sneak to the southern door. They were discovered and chased, but managed to get through the door to the south, down a long stair, and through a door to the right (per the new route the map revealed), although there was also a door directly across from the stair.

The passage to the right led some ways and past a human man seated at a large wooden desk with a mess of papers scattered across it.

As the heroes attempted to move closer, the first who approached was caught in some invisible field. The man at the desk (the “Secretary”), then posed three questions of him. The questions were generally, but not always of the form, “Who are you? What is your purpose in trying to pass here? What will you do if you are successful?” At each response, he would glance through his papers as if confirming the veracity of the response.

Each of the militia in turn, plus the centaur and the party’s guide were posed these questions. Each, after giving thier answers was permitted to pass. Except for Norm. It seemed that Norm’s response, related to carrying out treasure that they might find along the way, was not judged as acceptable. Eventually he tried again, this time without insisting on removing items, and that was deemed by the Secretary as acceptable.

The militia advanced down the passage.

Eventually they emerged into a huge space with a massive vaulted ceiling above. There were sounds of significant combat, though mostly from above.
The heroes encountered a ghostly dwarf, Mudron Voon, who led them through this complex. Once entering a kind of mausoleaum, they realized that they were being pursued and set about preparing an ambush. The creature that then accosted them was some evil spectral creature that Walter, aka “Shaggy” had taken on in death. He confronted the heroes, but they prevailed.
Voon then lead the militia to a great doorway protected by a serpentine Guardian Naga.
The Naga helped to heal some of the heroes, and then being convinced that they should be permitted through, opened the great doors. The heroes proceeded.

The militia moved through another hallway and into another large, open space, this one bisected by a narrow, arching stone bridge over an abyss. As the heroes moved across the bridge, each was visited by a ghostly form of a dwarven soldier. Each dwarf, as it passed through the hero, had a message for them in ancient dwarven.

As the first dwarf passed through Tovlakov, the militiaman uncharacteristically lost his balance, and somewhat clumsily tumbled from the bridge. Norm cast Feather Fall on him as he disappeared into the depths. The heroes attempted to find Tovlakov, spelunking off the bridge. A small, circling black dragon shape sent them scurrying forward.

Eventually the bridge met up with a mechanical drawbridge emerging from a great stone dwarven face. The heroes moved through. This new hall seemed somewhat similar to the dwarven dwellings of Dol Seguria that the militia had previously seen when entering from the woods. Tall walls with apartments or other spaces looking down onto a hallway. Unlike that other setting, there was no obvious way up to these dwellings. Along this hallway, the heroes found detailed carvings of dwarven heroes, some matching the ghostly forms that had approached them on the bridge. Here, the messages given to each of the heroes could be read beneath the statues:

Norm “Fear not the sworn.”
Dain “Respond to suffering not just with kindness, but with action.”
Tia “A key may turn two ways.”
Alamein “The dark of the well does not decrease with each water bucket.”
Attickus “The whiskey ages in the cask; that is not its purpose.”

There were occasional sounds emerging from the great hall. Sounds of wind. The slapping of feet on stone. The beat, as on the bridge, of leather wings.
At one point, a huge planter of dead flowers came unmoored from above and crashed in the middle of the party. The cause was not identified.

The hallway ended in enormous double doors. Their weight proved beyond the ability of the heroes to budge. However, after careful inspection, a hidden door was found. Norm spoke the dwarven phrase that he had read at the mouth of the tunnel and the door opened. The heroes moved inside.

This more narrow hallway extended before them. Far less ornate than the outer hallway, twin doors faced into the hallway every 30-50 feet. As the heroes explored, they found the lock of the doors to be beyond their abilities. However, Tia, perhaps inspired by her spirit interlocutor, decided to try the Warden’s key, which effortlessly opened the doors. Each of the rooms that the heroes then explored (six doors, at this point have been opened) contained similar accoutrement: two medium-sized stone tables, a number of stone chairs, perhaps some spoiled food and drink, some scraps of paper here or there; spider webs, signs of rodent activity… and in four of them, a creature or creatures. The heroes faced undead beings, including some vampire-like creature, as well as a black pudding. After defeating the latter, the heroes determined that they needed to find a safe place to catch their breath. Alas, when they opened the next door, they were treated by a flame skull who brought a fireball down in the middle of the party. As we left it, the heroes had limped back to a room they had previously determined was empty.

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