Chapter 10- Beneath the Citadel (1359DR, 17th Eleint)
It did not take long for sleep to overtake us. Our first day ashore had
had more then its fair share of adventure. How long we slept in that chamber
I do not know. Faergil told us he had cast the spell "Mordenkainen's Faithful
Hound" to guard us while we slept. He said that the spell would last over
six hours but the hound was gone when we awoke. (On both these accounts
we had to take Faergil's word since the phantom hound the spell conjured
was invisible to all but the caster.) As we began to stir from our deep,
refreshing sleep we were started by the sound of the door banging against
the frame; someone had tried to enter but found the door locked. Bazil,
a master locksmith, had skilfully locked the door before going to sleep
but when he went to unlock it luck (or more likely Gond) was not on his
side and he was unable to do so. Luckily the person on the other side
had a key, the door was unsealed and Andal entered.
Andal had brought with him a map of Carifar Citadel and a dark-haired
half-elven woman who he introduced as "Lady Darkshadow". Lady Darkshadow
lived up to her name, dressed entirely in black and moving with a liquid
grace. Her pale features and dark eyes were framed by her black hair.
Andal informed us that, of The Revenant's entire band, she knew the route
to the dungeons beneath the castle the best.
I took the opportunity to ask if Bazil could have his sword back. With
a smirk Andal agreed and returned Kithral, complementing Bazil on the
quality of his sword as he did so. I continued to make light conversation
with the thief while Faergil, Colatto and Bazil looked over the map. Andal
confirmed my suspicions that many of The Revenant's traps used silver
(so they could hurt the wererats). Unsurprisingly given the climate he
was ignorant of the herb wolvesbane but when I described its use, by the
time he left, he was very interested to know where he could get some.
Before we set off the mages took the time to relearn their spells and
Baldric and myself went through lengthy dedications to our respective
deities. Lady Darkshadow simply waited in silence.
During this time Bazil got up to something rather unusual and not a little
distracting. He gave Kithral and one of the short swords he got off the
wererats to Primrose and, after blindfolding himself, asked her to place
the two swords at his feet. Blindfolded he began to practice with first
one weapon then the other, taking about half an hour before he seemed
satisfied. Much later I was to learn the Bazil was suspicious of Andal
and that "Kithral" might have been a fake (an illusion I suppose). Therefore
he had devised a test.
Eventually we were prepared to go. Colatto and Faergil both cast minor
spells of protection on themselves and, before we reached journey's end,
Colatto cast one on Bann too.
Lady Darkshadow told us that taking a light would increase the danger
of an already perilous journey so we would have to travel in darkness.
She had inherited the famous "elven sight" from her elven parent, a gift
which Faergil (of course) shared. Bazil and Primrose both of "Stoutish"
decent and could see in the dark like dwarves (I have heard it said that
the Stout clan of halfling have dwarven ancestors but that could be just
an old wives tale). Though compared to my father I am virtually half-blind
I had inherited enough of his ocular prowess to see in the dark better
then all but the rarest dwarf or elf. That only left the three humans;
Baldric, Bann and Colatto. Colatto was prepared and cast a long lasting
spell on himself that gave him elven-sight. Baldric and Bann had to resign
themselves to be led through the darkness.
The journey Lady Darkshadow took us on was as long, if not longer, then
when Andle took us to see The Revenant. Time stopped having any meaning
as we were led through a maze of passages, chambers and more passages.
In one chamber we found stalactites and stalagmites of various size and
age, I took the opportunity to harvest four of the smaller ones as they
were the offering in a prayer I knew. Twice to my knowledge our guide
led us around hidden traps (no-drought with silver points) and twice our
route took us through concealed doorways. At one point we entered a chamber
where shafts of daylight beamed in from pinprick holes in the ceiling.
Lady Darkshadow led us to what she informed us was one of the oldest
parts of the catacombs and it did look old and not a little unstable.
The way forward was through a low (five foot high) aperture in one wall.
Somewhere in the chamber beyond was the way into the dungeons beneath
the castle but other then vague rumours about it being beyond "the rags
of curtains" she didn't know anymore. She informed us that she would check
a distinctive circular chamber a little way back for our presence every
twelve hours for the next few days. If she found us there she would take
us back to the Revenant. With that she was off.
Once I was sure she was gone (you can never know for sure…thieves have
good ears) I asked Colatto what he intended us to achieve. He replied
that our objective would be twofold; we were to find the Crown of Fire
and defeat Woren. Since the crown could be hidden anywhere in the citadel
(Bann confirmed that though only a Carifer could use it anyone could carry
it around) we would make for Woren's chambers and, if we had not found
it on route, make the tyrant tell us where the crown was. Since this was
Colatto's hour we deferred to his plan.
Bazil went ahead to scout out the area. I offered to place a charm on
him that would warn him of traps. Bazil declined, in his view we would
not have to worry about traps until after we had found a way in to the
In the darkness we waited. I can just about remember a time when I couldn't
see in the dark and I did not envy what Baldric and Bann were going through.
Baldric took the opportunity to don his holy vestments over his clothing
so if nessary he could invoke Tymora to make them as durable as chain
mail. Before we had set off I had retrieved my shield and scimitar from
Faergil's hole while Bann had kept hold of my staff to aid his disguise.
Now we swapped over.
Within a few minutes of Bazil's departure those of us who could see became
aware of a multitude of rats poring into the room from every crack and
crevice and, apparently, heading towards us. Once he was told what was
going on Baldric called out to Tymora and a miraculous ward prevented
the rats from closing on us. Unfortunately even without the barrier they
were more interested in going around us and through the opening after
Bazil! Even before we heard his voice calling out to us we knew that Bazil
has found trouble and were ducked through the hole after the rats.
Despite the low entrance the chamber beyond was as high as the one we
had just left and apparently led into another, even larger cavern, though
our view was blocked by a warn and thin curtain. Ahead we could see a
mass of movement but it wasn't until Baldric pulled out a Light Stone
for Bann and himself that we saw exactly how much trouble Bazil had managed
Bazil was facing six wererats, each one armed with a slim short sword
and a dagger, and three carrion-crawlers (if you have never seen a carrion-crawler
it is a ten foot long, multi-legged worm with a large head from which
sprout a forest of paralysing tentacles). In the larger chamber we could
here heavy footfalls of something else but we could not see what it was.
And closing on him rapidly was a carpet of rats and giant rats.
Wading through the rodents Colatto rushed to Bazil's side and began to
cast a spell. Before the wererats could stop him they themselves were
intercepted by a swarm of insects summoned by Faergil's magic. The carrion
crawlers were outside the area of the spell however and lunged at Colatto
and Bazil with their tentacles. Luckily the appendages are too light to
cause damage and the pair was able to withstand the paralysing stings.
Colatto was also able to keep it together enough to complete his spell,
unleashing a blast of arctic wind that killed four of the wererats, most
of Faergil's swarm and the curtain. The two remaining wererats fought
on with the ferocity of cornered animals, their swordsmanship was no match
for Bazil's agility but Colatto took a couple of hits. A second later
the rats reached Bazil and Colatto swarming over them. By now Primrose
and Bann had reached the fray. Primrose dispatched one of the remaining
wererats. Bann delivered a skilled blow with the scimitar (he was clearly
a highly skilled warrior) but the blade was neither magical nor silver
and his wererat target shrugged it off. In an attempt to demoralise the
wererat enough for it to either flee or surrender I invoked a minor miracle
of light and, by centring it in his face, blinded the wererat. The wererat
lashed out at Colatto blindly but didn't make contact.
Now the last of Bazil's pursuers burst into the cave. It was similar
to the wererats in so much as it was humanoid with a rat's head, tail,
claws and fur. But it was also almost twice as tall and it's hulking,
bulky frame several times as heavy. It stank of decay and its fur was
covered in ice crystals thanks to Colatto's spell, though it didn't appear
bothered. It lunged at Colatto with its claws and teeth but only made
contact with one hand. Bazil plunged both of his magical blades into the
creature's flank but it was clearly made of tougher stuff then the wererats.
During the fight so far Faergil had been hanging back casting a spell
which would result in the next being he touched being paralysed. Now he
leapt into the battle with uncommon valour and tried, unsuccessfully,
to place his hand on the hulking Rat-Thing
Throwing the Light Stone in ahead of him Baldric had entered the room
and made for the nearest carrion-crawler, delivering a powerful blow with
Twin-Death. Whether the wound would have been fatal I would never know
as, a heartbeat later, Bann cleaved it in half. The two remaining carrion-crawlers
continued to attack, trying unsuccessfully to paralyse the two halflings.
Bann was quickly at Primrose's side and with two swings of the scimitar
killed the carrion crawler that was attacking her. Not particularly wanting
to kill if I had an alternative I tried another miracle of light, this
time at the third carrion crawler. It moved its head at the last moment
and it was the top of its cranium, rather then its large eyes, which began
to glow. Deciding to resort to more basic methods I struck it a stunning
blow across the head with my staff. It collapsed, alive but unconscious.
With the death of all but one of the wererats many of the rats they had
summoned had left but there were still enough to spread themselves amongst
us biting and scratching where they could.
The Rat-Thing had turned its attention on Bazil, who dodged its claws
but not a vicious bite. The blinded wererat continued to hack frantically
away at Colatto and by a fluke managed to score a couple of hits. Its
luck abruptly ran out seconds later when Baldric caved its skull in. This
gave Colatto the opportunity to press an attack on the Rat-Thing. Bann
moved in to support him and he, Colatto and Bazil rained sword blows down
on the creature (which clearly lacked the magical protection of the wererats).
Through shear stamina the creature withstood the onslaught, just, but
Faergil found the opening he needed and paralysed it. It didn't have to
endure being helpless for long however as Colatto ran it through.
By now all the rats had departed except two the size of small dogs. Baldric
killed one and I drove the other off.
As we surveyed the battlefield Bazil explained how he had gone as stealthily
as he could through the curtain into the cavern beyond. The cavern had
seemed to have several exits and as he had begun to explore he noticed
a statue. Getting closer he found what he had then thought to be a rather
crudely fashioned, disproportionate statue of a wererat. Now he realised
that it was a rather lifelike effigy of the Rat-Thing. Before he could
get a closer look he became aware of laughter behind him. Quick as a flash
he had tumbled to one side and brought his weapons to bare only to find
his way back across the cavern blocked by the six wererats. The wererats
pounced but Bazil was too quick for them. He leapt safely over their heads
and darted back the way he came. The wererats gave chase, as did something
(the Rat-Thing as it turned out) from a passageway. Just as he reached
the cave in which we found him so did the three carrion-crawlers, drawn
by the noise and activity.
While Bazil had been talking the Rat-Thing had been quickly rotting away,
prompting Baldric to speculate that it might have been some form of undead,
and Colatto, much to my dismay, had dispatched the unconscious carrion-crawler.
Now we ventured into the large cavern. There were several smaller caves
off of it in which we discovered the lairs of both the wererats and the
carrion-crawlers. Acting on an intuition I removed the lens-like prism
that Elminster had given me and looked around the cavern. Through the
prism I could plainly see that there was an almost invisible, hinged panel
in the chest of the statue Bazil has told us about. The fact that the
prism could find concealed doorways was encouraging and I pointed it out
to Bazil. He opened it to find a pouch containing a pair of large sapphires.
Faergil had found another passage hidden in the shadows and Bazil went
down it to investigate. He returned a couple of minutes later with the
new that it led into a small room that showed signs of being man-made.
Down we went. The room was as Bazil had described and had no visible exit.
I invoked the trap finding charm on Bazil and after he told us it was
all clear we entered and began a search for the concealed door we suspected
was there. Yes, I could have just used the prism but I didn't want to
become over reliant on it nor did I know if it could only be used a limited
number of times. (After all Elminster had given it to me so we could by-pass
the magic that hide the DarkWatch) As it was it was Faergil's delicate
touch that found the skilfully concealed door. After giving it a look
over Bazil told us to hide the light sources we had been using since the
fight and, opening it, he stepped into Woren's dungeon.
The room by which we entered was perhaps a little disappointing, being
as it was simply a storeroom that had decayed through disuse. Once we
were all in we released the secret door through which we had entered and
it swung back in to place via some cunning arrangement of weights.
Bazil was to be our guide through the dungeons with Colatto, who was
by then wearing his magical cloak, a few paces behind. We would travel
in darkness as much as possible in an attempt to hide our presence. The
few times a light was produced, usually to search rooms, Baldric took
to sketching a map showing what we had found.
As Bazil approached the door that led out of the storeroom he stopped
in his tracks. The charm had alerted him to a wicked poison-needle trap
(though the venom had gone bad with time) in the door's lock. Expertly
he set to work disarming it and then unlocking the door to reveal a corridor
heading straight ahead. Right in front of the door Bazil found a second
trap. This one was a trap door. It seemed to be intended for people going
towards the storeroom (which must have made collecting supplies quite
an adventure) as the hinged edge of the trapdoor was at Bazil's feet.
With a boost from Colatto Bazil leapt the ten feet across the pit and
quickly wedged the lid shut with the daggers he had claimed from the wererats.
The next room we investigated turned out to be the dungeon cells, fourteen
tiny, cage-fronted cells set in pairs off a narrow corridor. Other then
a scavenging rat there were no sign of life in the cells. In a nearby
room we found an office, possibly it had been that of the jailer, but
it was now in disrepair.
As Bazil headed off down a new corridor he discovered that the charm
I had placed on him had expired when he was hit in the leg by an arrow.
Moving up to Bazil I called upon Silvanus first to heal the wound and
then renew the charm (I renewed it several times over the next few hours).
Bazil reported that he could now see dozens of similar traps lining the
corridor ahead, each one linked to one of the corridor's flagstones.
Colatto quickly came up with a plan to get us across. Using the power
of his cloak he took the form of a harpy and flew us one at a time along
the corridor to the safety of the connecting corridor.
As Colatto shuttled The Company across Bazil continued his search. Primrose
and Bann were next across but just as Colatto had returned to collect
Faergil, Baldric or myself we head sounds of a struggle from ahead. Grabbing
Faergil, Colatto flew back down the corridor, Baldric and I telling him
to stay and help the others rather then come back for us. Together we
waited. The dark was no problem for me but it must have made the wait
ten times worse for Baldric. Eventually, just as Baldric was giving serious
consideration to placing his life in The Lady's hands and dashing down
the corridor, Colatto returned. As he ferried us down the passage Colatto
told us that while investigating a small but (once) well furnished bedroom
he had found, Bazil had spotted a chest of money in a partially collapsed
wardrobe. Since the charm had not revealed a trap he had taken a closer
look only to have the chest attack him! It had grown a pseudopodia, which
had all the appearance of being wood, and struck him with it with considerable
force. Then the primitive arm had stuck to him like glue and he found
himself being dragged towards a rapidly opening maw in the "chest's" side.
Luckily Bail's arms were free and he began to stab at his attacker, as
did Bann as soon as Primrose drew out a Light Stone. (Primrose would have
joined in too but she couldn't get around Bann). The creature, which both
Baldric and Primrose identified as a shape-changing predator called a
"Mimic", took quite a pounding from Bazil and Bann. It managed to get
another two pseudopodia onto Bazil before it succumbed to the swords and
a flurry of magical missiles from Colatto.
As we arrived we discovered that Bazil now had a new problem, he was
still glued to the now dead mimic. Both Baldric and Primrose had heard
that alcohol would devolve the glue, a theory that we disproved when we
tipped a flask of wine over Bazil. We were puzzling over how to free Bail
when the three pseudopodia simply fell away of their own accord. Plainly
a mimic's glue does not survive long after its demise.
The door to the to the mimic's lair was one of two. The second led to
another bedroom almost identical to the one that had contained the mimic.
Bazil didn't seem too inclined to search this one so Faergil and Baldric
gave it a once over (once they had proved to their satisfaction that none
of the rotting furnishings were another lurking mimic). Meanwhile Colatto
ferried us back past the dart traps so we could check out a corridor and
doorway we had previously bypassed. At the bottom of a chest Baldric and
Faergil found a sword and an ivory scroll tube. Whoever had prepared the
sword for storage had done a fine job and it was in excellent condition.
Once he learnt of the sword's existence Bann asked if he could have it,
relegating the scimitar to a back-up weapon. After examining the scroll
from the ivory tube Faergil announced that it had been inscribed with
a magical ward and whoever read it, whether mage or not, would be guarded
The door we had until now neglected led into the most ghoulish room we
had encountered so far as it was empty except for some fifty human (or
at least humanoid) skulls.
This left only a single corridor we hadn't explored. It wasn't overly
long and led into what had once been a library. Time had worked to undermine
the library as it does with all things; the shelves had collapsed and
of the books only their tougher bindings had survived. A pair of doors
led off of the library. One led into another bedchamber, larger then the
two we had previously found but still ruined by neglect and time. The
second door opened onto a large room. It was not clear what the room's
function had been but it had suffered more then the others at the hands
of time, the far end having collapsed in on itself. In the room were the
dry and brittle bones of some long forgotten unfortunate. I noticed that
that the ring-mail armour that still hung around the fleshless body was
intact and suggested to Bann that he might want it. Bann agreed and, after
removing as many flacks of the previous owner as we could, he donned it.
I doubted there were many in the city above our heads that would have
recognised blind, mad Bann by now. Kited out with swords, shield and armour
he looked more like Elladyr the Knight-Protector.
Now we had a problem. We had checked down every corridor and in every
room we had found but none had revealed a way up into the citadel. It
was possible that the way onward could have been destroyed when the room
with the dead warrior had collapsed but we put that theory aside and instead
stated an extensive check for another concealed door.
Faergil found the second secret door as well. Opening the door we found
a set of steep stair going upwards. Following them we found a corridor
heading to our left. The corridor seemed to run some sixty feet before
ending in a thick curtain. About halfway along one wall was a door and,
with Bazil in the lead, we headed towards it. Beyond was another bedroom,
the largest we had found so far (it had a walk-in closet bigger then the
cells we had found in the level below). I was by then beginning to wonder
who had lived in all these bedrooms, shut away from the light of day and
the fresh air. Perhaps, I mused, they had been cells for prisoners of
higher value (though that didn't explain the sword or scroll) or maybe
After giving the bedroom a quick search we headed down the corridor.
As we approached the "curtain" it became apparent that it was in fact
a thick mass of webbing. What was more the corridor, which ran on for
about another eighty-feet, was swathed in thick cobwebs. We closed formation,
Bazil was still at the front but Colatto was now at his shoulder and using
his sword to sweep aside the curtains of webbing. As we proceeded deeper
into the corridor, all our senses alert for trouble, we passed several
bundles of spider silk ranging in size up to as large as a man's head.
Some of them may have been large rats, cocooned by the spiders to feed
on later, but the larger bundles were almost certainly masses of spider
About forty feet into the webbing we came across a rather unusual corpse.
It was humanoid in form, naked, but seemed to be a composite of several
different animals. It was part man, part animal, part bird and part fish.
But rather then its many parts being blended into one hybrid being each
of the parts that made it up was separate. The bet way I could describe
it was like a "half-elf" who was human on his left side and elven on the
right. The being could easily have been considered grotesque or freakish
but I had had some experience as being regarded an oddity and my heart
went out to it. As to the creature's origin we were stumped. When I described
it to Elladyr he couldn't put a name it which meant it was unlikely to
be some being native to the area. As we left the poor unfortunate I mused
that we had heard vague rumours that Woren practised the foulest of magics,
Necromancy. Could this have been the result?
My thoughts were interrupted by a soft call from Bazil; he had seen movement
ahead. Those of us that could see in the darkness strained our eyes to
the front; yes there was movement ahead. It had to be spiders but the
web curtains made seeing detail difficult. Baldric produced a Light Stone.
Its steady light instantly banished the darkness revealing that moving
with fluid grace towards us along floor, walls and ceiling were about
a dozen spiders, each over ten feet in span.
I used the following references:
Vilhon Reach. Didn't use much in the way of resources this week
(other than the normal three - PHB, DMG, MM), as it was all my own stuff.
The undergound maps have been downloaded off the Internet (I'm far too
busy to spend time making up maps). I think they came from the wizards.com
site. The Citadel is actually the map of Castle Spulzeer, again the full
adventure is available at the WotC website.
The 'Rat Thing' is from the Marco Volo Departure adventure.
The game went rather slowly, but this is basically because it was
dungeon-based and we're not really a 'Dungeon' group of gamers.
The encounter with the wererats, rats, Rat-Thing, and Carrion Crawlers
was rather chaotic but fun. It wasn't really that dangerous considering
the level of the characters, but I like to maintain the illusion. The
Rat Fiend is immune to cold-based attacks, which proved useful considering
Collato's Cone of Cold! Well, it lasted a couple more rounds in any case...
The were rats lair (see map) had about 3000cp amongst other things. Faergil
(Ian) was considering emptying it all into his Portable Hole until someone
pointed out that it was worth about 30gp...
Once the characters found the secret door in the 'dungeons' they were
very consious of traps and took it very carefully. Edd and I had a discussion
about disarming Pit traps, and I think we still disagree on the details,
but Bazil managed to stop it claiming any lives.
Thorn (Nick) spent most of his 2nd level spells casting Detect Traps on
Bazil which helped things move on.
It has been a number of years since I ran a true Dungeon so decided to
introduce to few cliches into the mix; pit traps, arrow traps, and of
course a mimic. I chose not to include a Gelatinous cube, and the party
missed the room full green slime ;-)
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