So after much discussion and an unrelated but violent encounter with a murderous ooze, we went with a symmetric approach. Brandr and Gertie were quietly manacled each to one end of the locked chest. (This is the chest within which is the evil dagger that with some luck nobody was going to touch anymore.)
Obviously if I am later able to write this, it means that we have not yet been killed and eaten by either of them. Honestly, nobody is more surprised about this than I am.
The temple had three doors but the one in the back looked the evilest so we went that way. In the room there was a font and a basin with a duergar statue. Prodding with a 10 foot pole showed the statue’s head could be turned. Turning the head filled the font with water. The water when drunk by a goblin caused said goblin to grow to an enormous size, free its bonds, pick up its goblin friend under one arm and run away. This last turn of events stunned us long enough for the goblins to make their improbable escape.
The other door in the room led up stairs . Up there was a much rougher passage leading both left and right. Going left we came to a duergar statue and another bell rang as we approached it. A voice rang outWe of the depths… Beseech the one… Who in hunger… Gives us life.
Not creepy at all! Around the time of the second verse Verdant sensibly knocked over the statue but at the end it stood up, and relatively nimbly too. After some frantic bashings by us it went back down, less nimbly and in more pieces.
Skipping ahead – A cavern with glowing bits, stalagmites, stalactites, and nasty choking dust. Pass. A little area up on a ledge in which three very murderous giant bats were trying to sleep, and which when disturbed settled for trying to kill us. At the back of this little area was a secret passage, within which we found 2 chests.
Verdant checked for traps and picked the locks, at times glaring at the locks for reasons she kept to herself. Inside – gold, and some kind of magical-looking rune-inscribed dwarven hammer that went to Karamail.
Oh. I forgot about Gertie and Brandr. You might ask why the two of them so blithely continued as willing members of a party that had just manacled them to a locked chest. It was Kayoshin who found the line of reasoning that worked. Here’s a taste:
“We could unmanacle you, but then we’d have to take the chest away from you and then you wouldn’t be near the dagger. Is that what you want? Not to be near the dagger? This way you’re both equally near the dagger, and actually nobody is closer to it than you two. Isn’t that the best arrangement?”
It was most excellent, although it had to be periodically re-argued.
We doubled back and this time took the rough passage the other way. A large dark cavern, the far wall of which fell away to an abyss. Bones and armor scattered about turn out to be 12 skeletons lying in ambush. Gertie’s shouted prayers to Xandu the Insignificant caused 8 of them to run away in terror – leaping into the abyss and to our great delight. The other 4 we just bashed into little pieces which was also fun.
The abyss is quite a thing. A torch fell longer than is comfortable to think about before snuffing out suddenly in what we’re pretty sure was a river. There’s a great wind as well. And an archway over the abyss at one point. And on the far side we could see a huge statue of another maggot thing. And a warren of passages that I struggle to remember.
Gertie and Brandr continue to be a little off. Gertie for instance proposed that they swing the chest with all their might across the abyss, and then use the chest’s momentum to pull the both of them across to the other side, 80 feet away. Wiser heads prevailed.
But I am using too much paper. Let me go quicker. We came upon a furnished room with many books. Notes on mineral deposits and places where a pool of “dark energy” could be extracted. Some talk of red crystal this-and-that, but it’s mostly about “blue dark energy”. Must be the same funny blue-purple magic that the goblins had imbued their crappy weapons with. There’s a journal about extracting this energy, about efforts to mine a great pool of it, and also encountering neighboring elves and suchlike. Evil and more evil.
Also there was a room with coffers that had been turned over and ransacked, and 12 statues in odd poses. Many or most of the statues appeared to be peering at something in their hand, and one of them was peering at a ring on his finger, a ring which was most suspicious for being an actual golden ring and not carved as a part of the “statue”. Very carefully and without touching it, this ring was removed and ignominiously dropped in an old sock which was then dropped into my pack. Note to self – do not change socks ever or at least until further notice.
Gertie around this point lost her mind and attacked the chest, broke the lock, acquired the dagger. She was still manacled to the chest of course but this was a moment of much apprehension. She seemed quite content though. The bad moment passed. For Brandr though, content is not a word you would use.
Brandr: “Unmanacle me!”
Xandros: “Ugh. I will. At some point. Possibly when you stop asking me to do it.”
From there we daringly (stupidly?) rushed across the narrow archway, nearly being knocked down by gusts of wind. We defeated zombies. Gertie stabbed a zombie with the evil dagger, which caused what is best described as a “flash of darkness”, a dimming of all our lights, and the temporary blinding of some of us.
We took to knocking on doors and saying “housekeeping”, but thereafter found only empty rooms. We found a room full of weapon racks and weapons. I picked up a sword to have it suddenly start glowing right through its scabbard. Verdant took the pieces of a nice looking crossbow. I remember a trident and a broken mace. I think the others may have taken these but I’m not sure. I am a of this moment armed with the glowing sword and I gave the other most excellent longsword to Kayoshin.
We continued on, deeper and deeper. The passage we followed was choked with more and more rubble, and became slippery with a little cataract of water running down its length. But down we continued, using ropes to move down safely. Finally we reached a chamber where someone had diverted the little streamlet so as to irrigate various large and strange mushrooms. Some of them tried to kill us and very nearly succeeded but were themselves killed instead.
It’s dark. It’s cold. It’s wet. Most of us are injured. Brandr and I have a disgusting amount of apparently nonremovable squidgy mushroom tendrils attached to our bodies. Somehow though, we’re still alive.