Aided by Carrion's "restful" bagpipe playing, the group quickly recovered from their injuries as artificer Razi studied the stone obelisk in the courtyard. Though extremely weathered, he was able to make out carvings that appeared similar to the pictographic language they had found in the bear cave mural—though these carvings appeared more sophisticated and elegant. After conferring with the others, the party was still unable to translate the symbols—but did conclude that the writing in the cave appeared to be a degenerate form of the language, rather than a primitive precursor. Unable to discern anything further, Razi made a rubbing of the symbols for later study.
Deciding to explore the grounds surrounding the ancient building before trying to enter, the party managed to spy out a large portion of the first floor through various window openings—but found no sign of inhabitants, living, dead, or undead. Comparing notes, their roguish reconnaissance revealed several possible options for entry:
Though narrow, the first floor windows could provide entry with a little squeezing—though it would be a tight fit for most of the party.
The windows on the second level looked larger, but would require careful climbing to reach, as the ancient cobblestone walls were covered with loose stones and yellowed patches of dry, dead razorvine.
The balcony overlooking the courtyard was another option, as it had doors opening into the two side wings. Of course, that entailed the same hazards as climbing up to the upper story windows.
Finally, the party resolved to simply try the enormous front doors (after checking them for traps of course), though as this consensus was reached they realized that Dixn had disappeared again. Assuming she was off scouting around, the others attempted to pull open the enormous, heavy wooden doors. Eventually succeeding in prying one from it's rusted hinges, the door fell to the ground with a resounding bang and promptly collapsed into splinters and sawdust.
Stepping inside revealed a large, open room dominated by a circle of strange symbols marked on the floor. Twin staircases led to a balcony above, while numerous closed doors led off to other parts of the building. Scattered stains and marks from weapons spoke of battles both ancient and recent that had been fought here, and a strange air of simultaneous decay and timelessness seemed to hang over everything.
As the others began cautiously examining the ring of symbols, Carrion simply walked over to stand in it. Despite his companion's distress, nothing appeared to happen—though a muffled thump and what might have been a string of curses did sound from one of the other rooms. Before anyone could stop him, the tiefling bard then cut open his palm and began smearing the blood over the symbols in an effort to "activate" them—again without apparent effect. Completing his investigation, an exasperated Razi soon confirmed that the symbols carried no magics or enchantment, though they appeared to be yet another offshoot of the same archaic language found on the obelisk and the bear cave mural, with some elements bearing a resemblance to the sylvan and goblin tongues.
Meanwhile, Dixn had managed to free herself from the window she had gotten stuck trying to climb though, and finished examining the back room she had entered. Finding little of interest besides the fact that it appeared to have once been a study and the general disarray of the furniture, she proceeded to open the door and make her way across the main hall to the door immediately opposite without being noticed by the others—who were busy lecturing Carrion on the recklessness of his actions.
A few moments and some lockpicking later, both Dixn and Razi found themselves opening doors into the same room—Dixn entering from the south and Razi from the east. Examining the small room revealed it to be an armory—or at least it had been before every weapon therein was methodically and maliciously mangled.
Moving counter-clockwise, Dixn continued opening doors—discovering what appeared to be a barracks or guard room in each of the wings flanking the courtyard. Both were in similar disarray to the other rooms they had seen, with tables and benches knocked over and seemingly flung about with great force and anger, and each contained a flight of stairs leading to the second floor.
As this was going on, Carrion attempted to kick in one of the doors on the opposite side of the main room, but succeeded only in stubbing his toe—and then hitting his head when he instinctively bent forward in pain. This was followed by one of the other party members examining the door, and then opening it outward—revealing what appeared to be a large kitchen and dining area taking up most of the back portion of the building. A stone fireplace was set into the far wall, while various barrels, tables, and baskets filled the right-hand side of the room. As the group proceeded in, they spotted movement in the shadows among the barrels, and a shrill, hungry squeaking began…
A multitude of vicious rats boiled out of the shadows, quickly swarming over Cade and Carrion as Treize and Zakariya hurled spells and flasks at the tiny furred beasts. The alchemist's concoctions splashed friend as well as foe with viscous, volatile vitriol. With a whistled command, Dixn sent her cloud leopard companion, Ser'Racha to help—though his assistance may have proved disconcerting to those already engulfed by the swarm as he batted and snapped at the teeming rodents. But at last, the rats were defeated—if with a bit more collateral damage than some would have cared for.
Meanwhile, Dixn had discovered another armory—though this one contained a locked chest in addition to racks of broken spears. Razi came over to join Dixn, and the pair soon discovered that the chest contained a stash of arrows and crossbow bolts. After determining that they were enchanted, Razi began a ritual to identify the ammunition's properties, while Dixn and Treize moved on to investigate the room in the south-east corner of the building.
This room appeared to be yet another study, nearly identical to the one Dixn had climbed into except for a wooden door to the east. Unbeknownst to them, Cade and Carrion were currently in the kitchen contemplating another door which opened to the same area as the one the knight and ranger were examining. Both doors appeared to have swollen in their frames, and were stuck fast. As Treize attempted to force his door open, Carrion surreptitiously brought up his tail to attempt to pick the lock without Cade seeing what he was up to—doing an excellent job until he realized that the door had no lock.
After some effort, knight Treize managed to force his door open—only to be greeted by a wave of dry, noxious stench and the low groans of a hideous, shambling figure:
[DM Note: Image Redacted. I spent too long googling for a suitable pic and now I feel ill.]
The mold-covered zombie lurched out of the ancient storeroom amidst a choking cloud of spores and decay, but knight Treize's hearty constitution left him unaffected. Dixn focused on the foul abomination, assessing it's weaknesses with senses honed by mystical training before sending an arrow into it's throat and calling out a simple strategy:
"Kill it with fire."
The pair continued to assail the undead horror as Dixn called Ser'Racha (who had been dining on rats in the kitchen) to her side. Choosing the shortest path, the big cat barreled past Cade and Carrion, shouldering the other door open and plunging into the miasma-filled pantry. Beset from both sides, the mold zombie finally succumbed when Treize tore it's rotting head from it's shoulders with a rapier thrust—not the first time he'd accomplished that particularly impressive feat.
Having once more claimed victory, (though Ser was briefly quite ill) the adventurers were left to wonder what other horrors lurk within the ruined priory, waiting to be discovered…
- Seeking Arrows, 1 quiver (20)
- Seeking Bolts, 1 case (20)
This enchanted ammunition counts as a magic weapon and grants advantage on attack rolls made with it, but each arrow or bolt is destroyed upon use.
Session XP: 600
Inspiration: Carrion, Dixn