Warning: The following contains detailed spoilers for the final dungeon of the Tomb of Annihilation
Note: For brevity’s sake, I don’t say every time I check for traps, search for secret doors or use detect magic. Just assume stuff like that happens in every damn room!
28 days to go, continued
There was an obelisk before three tunnels leading deeper into the cliff face. I say three, because one which had been hidden by bushes was bared to the world by blast marks. Presumably the Red Wizards’ doing. On the obelisk was a passage of text in common, wiped down (possibly by Orvex, we’d seen him wipe down carvings and plaques like this). There were vague threats by this Acererak guy about we should fear him, etc. Then there was what we guessed were a series of clues. The enemies oppose. One stands between them. In darkness it hides. Don the mask or be seen. Speak no truth to the doomed child. The keys turn on the inside only.
We went through the blasted entrance. Flask saw recent footprints, probably those of the Reds. We sent the zombies ahead of us to place the cubes in the nine slots. We tried two different configurations, both times getting zombies electrocuted by the trap on the lock, before we figured out that the first two lines of clues were about this: The enemies oppose, one stands between. We put each of the enemy gods across from each other as according to the myth Orvex told us (the order of that didn’t seem to matter) and Unkh in the middle. That did the trick.
Unfortunately we fell badly for the next trick. Thankfully only the zombies took the hit. There was another door ten feet behind the first, and it had a lever and an hourglass, which started ticking away as soon as the zombies entered. I panicked, and order them to pull it. The floor fell away, and those zombies in the room fell onto spikes. One was fully dead under the others, but the rest were able to climb out with help. The cats climbed over the pit and together with them and the zombies, we all got across.
We continued down the corridor and came toward a t-junction. Ahead of us was a devil’s head mask taking up most of the wall. I sent my zombies ahead, and they felt out the floors and wall, taking some darts from pressure plates as they went. Seemed a good strategy, so I kept that going through the rest of the dungeon. When we reached the T, there was a crystal window down the left hand passage, and a balcony to the right. All around us were bones interred in nooks in the walls. At least I’ll never be short of skeletons in here. Especially if they are the skeletons of the Omuans who were forced by Acererak to build this awful place. A zombie of mine reached into the blackness inside the mouth of the giant devil mask, and out came a shadow demon, which my undead soon dispatched, though not without casualties to my undead army. In darkness it hides had been the clue! But it hadn’t hurt us too badly to trigger that trap.
We went right and saw that we were at a giant square spiral staircase. There were other exits branching of off this floor, and then the stairs descended to the next level. Looking below, a small masked figure saw us and scampered off. Was this what the clue Don the Mask or Be Seen meant?
We backtracked in the direction of the crystal window and found a metal grate on the floor. Only Oz was small enough to slip between the bars, so he did. Beneath, a small underground stream flowed. With a torch, he flew upstream. Then he exploded what I could only assume was a gas pocket up there. Summoning him back, I sent him back in with a light stone from Fionn. He was able to get to the end of the upstream section, and found stairs up to a dead end, then further along to another dead end, a strange locked casket, as long as a coffin. Unable to open it, I made him check downstream this time. The stream went on for a long time, and much further than my range to connect with him, so he came back.
Looking through the crystal window we could see into a room, but with no way for us to enter it. Inside was a sarcophagus, bear statues holding up a strange shield or disc with eyes on it, and six inert undead on thrones wearing masks. Since there was no opening obvious to us, and we didn’t want to smash the window, we decided to try and find a better way. We went through the nearest corridor on the spiral staircase, and found ourselves looking into a room, at the end of which stood a statue of a knight with a shield, with strange scraps of metal in the room. We called out, no response. My zombies lumbered in, and nothing happened to them, so I stepped forward. Immediately my scabbard holding the Flametongue began to pull me forward. I had the zombies grab me and drag me backward. I got my skeletons to fire a volley at the knight, and the strangest thing happened. The arrows gained speed as they flew towards it, and the arrowheads got absorbed as soon as they hit. We realised it was a magnetic trap. I had Oz scout. He could see, flying through the room, that there were corridors either side of the magnetic statue. To the north was a larger room with a sickly looking fountain, and to the south, what seemed an empty corridor. We decided for now to backtrack, rather than risk being unarmed in that room.
In the next nearest corridor, we were confronted with a giant skull with flames for eyes. Its open mouth showed us a room beyond, with another sarcophagus in it. I sent Oz through the skull, which made one of the two flames go out, and he saw within that the sarcophagus was kept company by bones in niches, tiny holes in the walls otherwise, and a crystal box with a skull floating within. As soon as he looked at this, I heard a voice in my head. It was a lost little girl, who started panicking that she couldn’t see anything. I had a horrible suspicion she was the skull Oz had seen, but I managed to repress this thought before she heard it, and reassure her that I was a wizard and would do everything to fix the curse on her that had turned her into ‘a crystal’. The others, looking through the giant skull mouth, were able to see the crystal box and Copper Bell was able to help me calm the girl, whose name was Nepartak. She was the daughter of Omek, an ancient king of Omu. Oz picked up the crystal box and brought it through, which made the other flame in the last eye socket go out. Surely, some sort of trap. Oz gave the box to Copper Bell and she carried it, telling Nepartak happy cat stories. In a quiet moment later, Copper Bell told me she no longer wished to die until she could exact vengeance on Acererak for doing this to the child. Speak no truth to the doomed child, I remembered too late. Thankfully, I had done that instinctively.
We backtracked to the magnetic statue, stripped off our metal and tested that it could be safely transported with Fionn’s bag of holding before continuing. Unfortunately we had to leave Al behind. We checked the northern room with the fountain. It had three stone maidens in the middle, and I could sense transmutation magic on it. I had some of my zombies drink from it. One was silenced for a while, and the other was sex-changed. We left the fountain and continued to what seemed to be an empty corridor to the south. Naturally, we found a secret door, and it led, as we thought it might according to our rough mapping, the room on the other side of the crystal window.
Peeking ahead, we could see the disc of eyes, and it was here I clicked. Don the mask or be seen. I summoned an unseen servant to grab a mask off one of the undead within, and it brought it back to us unscathed. Then I masked a skeleton and made it fetch us the other masks. With those masks, we were able to enter the room. On another hunch based on our mapping, Flask found the secret door at the south end of the room which led to the stairs from the river which Oz had found. So we took those down and waded through the mucky water to the dead-end with the casket. I could sense there was some odd magic in there, so we backed out far down the river, and using Oz, I cast the Knock spell to unlock it. Then Oz joined us, and I had a zombie go in and open the casket. There was no explosion or anything, so we went in. The casket had vanished into the mud! We had other zombies dig it up, and the zombie emerged from the casket, covered in mud, but otherwise fine (good thing it didn’t have to breathe!). Also in the casket we found 500 gold pieces, a golden tankard which shows a happy face when full and a sad face when empty, and a scroll with a spell to remove curses.
Backtracking to the sarcophagus chamber, I investigated the disc of eyes further, and determined that it would have awakened the undead on the thrones if we had been maskless. So we threw a blanket over it, and all the skeletons and zombies could come in. Then, using Knock again, we were able to open the sarcophagus. Inside was a small pile of bones and a beautiful ring with a blue shield design. Fionn identified it as a ring of protection. Hugo picked it up, and suddenly he could hear the voice of Obo’laka in his head!
Through Hugo, she was able to tell us a few things. All nine of the gods were of course buried here – it is called the Tomb of the Nine Gods after all. She wasn’t able to remember how the nine gods took over from Ubtao, only that they did, emerging fully formed from the jungle one day. They used to live in the forms of their chosen animal, and reincarnate, watching over their shrines as Omuans showed their dedication by doing the trials. But all that came to an end when Acererak came, enslaved the Omuans, and had them build the tomb. The gods died and were unable to reincarnate, and entombed here. Hugo’s personality seemed a little affected by housing the god. He was saying Obo’laka was nervous and wanted to leave the tomb. Naturally, there was no way to do that, so we ignored him and her.
We decided to see what was on the other side of the underground stream now, so we went back in and travelled all the long way that Oz could not alone. At the end of the river was a waterfall, and a treasure chest on a ledge opposite. When I sent Oz over to open it, it turned out to be a mimic! He managed to escape it, and we killed it at range, cramped as we were in the tunnel.
Back up the tunnel a little way was a set of stairs leading to a dead end, but we of course searched and found a secret door to the back of where we had found Nepartak. We could see the back of the giant skull, and how heavy the teeth looked. Remembering how each flame had gone out, we decided not to go through the teeth, but return instead by the stream. But first, we opened the sarcophagus in here. Within were the bones of a jaculi, and a staff of python. I picked it up, and heard the voice of Moa. She promised to be good and help us. I now find myself unable to lie, which means I cannot speak to Nepartak without giving away her fate. However, I can now turn invisible whenever I want. It is a thrill.
We went to investigate the final corridor on this level, and found a nasty bladed propellor cutting off our path. Whenever someone stepped in the corridor, it would start, and pick up speed quickly. Oz was able to fly through without setting it off, and within I saw a deep pit with a sarcophagus inside, three chests, and an odd looking skeleton walking around. Looking behind it, Oz could see its skull extended weirdly into a triangular key at the back! I cast fly on myself and went through. Flask took a great run up and dashed through before the blades started. We took down the skeleton quickly and took its skull. I flew back out, worried my fly spell would run out, and used Oz to detect magic on the sarcophagus. Trying Knock on it did not work. He detected magic on the chests: the onyx one was necromancy, the iron oen transmutation, and the silver one evocation.
We realised we were going to need to try and get more people in there, so we tried using heavy objects from around the tomb to jam the propeller. Eventually, the stone lid of Obo’laka’s sarcophagus did it, breaking the nasty mechanism completely, and we were all able to get in. We got zombies to open the three chests’ lids. Each of them had a key inside, and a lock inside too! So I made three zombies climb into the chests, and turn the locks with the keys. Three buttons popped up on the sarcophagus. We pressed them. Two of the zombies were killed, one turned to dust, the other frozen, and the last one was unaffected by whatever spell went off in its box. The sarcophagus began to glow, and we could see the mummy of a su-monster within. Fionn reached for the mace beside it, and we had to fight the spirit of Wongo! Taking him out, he entered into Fionn. Her manner changed immediately as she fought his violent and deranged tendencies. She now also seems to hate me, and I can feel Moa hating her back inside me. Her mace that she got from the sarcophagus has a magical effect of creating fear in her enemies.
We rested, having found everything we could on the first level of the tomb.
Number of undead who died this episode: 5
Total undead after spell slots refreshed: 21