PrP: Earthshaper Part I

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Title: Tomb of the Earthshaper Part I - Guardian of Flame
Emitter: Chiddle
Characters: Talitha 2, Wilma 3, Marek 3, Garthos 2, Karl 5
NPCs: - 
Place: Veyshan - Tomb of the Earthshaper
Time: March
Summary: The team go to investigate reports of missing archaeologists at a vast and ancient pyramid, buried until recently ni the shifting sands of Veyshan.
APL: 3
Encounter 1: Giant Scarab x2 (Medium Giant Centipede) CR 4
Encounter 2: Fiery Guardian (Large Advanced Animated Object) CR5

Veyshan! A land of wonder, of mystery and of... sand. Lots and lots and lots of sand. All is not lost, though! There's also a river! Contrary to popular belief, there is indeed water in Veyshan. And plants, too! But mostly sand. Why are they traveling on a boat? Well, to recap.

Some time before alexandria sank into the mists, an archeological team unearthed what appears to be a massive pyramid, burried beneath the sand. Five years pass with Alexandria in the mists, and disaster after disster strikes the dig site, causing most of the archeologists to die of horrible unfortunate accidents, bandit raids, and other unpleasentness. In it's ongoing efforts in Veyshan, the guild of explorers has dispatched a group of fresh faced young adventurers (ok, so maybe it's not as romantic as the fliers make out) to investigate the ruins.

Karl's settled in on the deck, legs folded beneath him; there's a long piece of leather that's made to secure a variety of tools splayed out before him, and he's checking them one at a time to make sure everything's tight, sharp, calibrated, and polished. If they're going into a horrible pyramid, there may be traps, so he's making sure his tools are are arranged correctly. "You know," he opins, "I haven't seen one veiled dancing girl since I've gotten here."

Marek is riding along on the boat, watching the craft cut through the bow. He seems relatively at home on water, or at least not uncomfortable. "Man, there better be a city nearby. I was told Veyshan trim is out of this world." He muses, staring out at the horizon of sand, sand, and more sand.

"Ya know, somehow I think the river's worse than the open dunes." says Garthos, idly. He'd introduced himself to Karl - who's the only one that doesn't yet know him! - at the beginning of the voyage, using his usual choice of 'Numbers, or Garth, whichever ya like more' for names to call him. He's trying to remain in the shade, should the boat have a tarp or other means of protecting people's heads from the scorching sun. "But at least there ain't no monkeys." It's a good thing.

"Or damned bits of wave-fluff," Wilma agrees from where she sits at the base of the pilothouse, working the edge of her greatsword with a whetstone. A sense of deju-vu afflicts her a moment, before she shakes her head. "But it's good to be havin' a direction for work."

They approach a small wooden jetty, apparently abandoned, near the pyramid- which looms in the distance. According to the guide, what is visible of the pyramid is only the upper few levels. The complex extends further underground than any excavation team has ever gone. He also tells the group that the jetty is as far as he will go, as the sands around this place are cursed.

"So, does anyone know what this 'pyramid' was used for? Some sort of temple, or something?" The tools are rolled back up, tucked away and Karl's rolling up to his feet as they approach the jetty. Then he regards their guide for a moment. "Cursed." A pause. "Cursed sands. Wonderful." He starts out over the wooden jetty, "Well, let's go get cursed, everyone."

Marek eyes the pyramid in the distance, chin resting on his arms as he leans against the railing of the ship. "Don't suppose any of you are priests or got an in with the gods, eh? I ain't too keen on being cursed." The half-orc, despite his wariness, does pick up his kit and ready to go kill some mummies or other appopriately themed desert monsters.

Garthos stands, walking towards the front of the boat and gazing at the pyramid, using a hand to shield his eyes from the glare of the sun. He gives a boisterous little laugh at Karl's words and a nod, and then goes to disembark from the boat (assuming it's actually docked by now) and see how cursed the sand really is. "I just hope it ain't cursed to go into the boots in bigger amounts than normal." he half-jests. Sand in the boots SUCKS.

"Do I /look/ like I be spendin' most of m'time talkin' to the gods, or up in the air? No? I didn't think so. Though, truth told, bein' cursed isn't so bad - especially after a rousin' evenin' of ale and tall tales, eh?" Wilma asks as she gets to her feet. The rest of her kit and weaponry is put away, before she dares venture near the edge of the boat. Just 'cause she can climb down, doesn't mean she can swim!

As the group disembark, their guide tethers the boat to the jetty. He calls out in accented common, "Good luck! You will need it. I will wait here until dawn tomorrow, if you are not back, I will assume you are dead and leave." He informs them cheerfully, and then retreats to the shade of the pilot's 'cabin' (which is really more of an awning.)

"So... nobody knows anything about ancient pyramids, eh? Well," Karl adjusts his hat, "Guess we'll learn as we go. Try to keep together, look out for traps, curses, undead, giant sand scorpions, djinn..."

Talitha waits for the barge to reach the shore before she disembarks, noting the guides 'encouragement' but not commenting on it as she waits for someone else to lead the way while checking her bow. "Do you have any idea what to expect to find here?" she asks from the rest of the group.

"If you leave me here, you better pray to whatever pile of cat teeth and feathers you people call a God that I'm dead." Marek calls back, shouldering his pack and sliding his new shiny metal shield into quick-ready position. "God, I'm sweating like a whore in a temple in this armor. Let's get in the damn death triangle, maybe it'll be cooler in there." The half-orc grumbles as he heads towards the pyramid.

"... stop hoggin' m'job, Karl. /I'm/ supposed to be the grumpy 'ale-jug-broke' person 'round'bout here," Wil calls out with a bit of a smirk before moving out to the sand. "Feh. Sand."

The walk to the temple is short, but not exactly easy. A moderate wind shifts the sand under their feet, but does little to take away the scorching heat of the sun. The walk would take no more than fifteen minutes on a well traveled path, but in these conitions it takes the better part of an hour. As they draw nearer the entrance, they find their path flanked on either side by huge sandstone monoliths, some broken and crumbled, but a surprising number intact to lead them to the imposing main entrance up ahead.

"Sand." Garth asides to Talitha with a friendly grin. He turns to Karl, looks him over. "Any of ya got a way with traps?" he asks, curious, of the group in general. Just in case. The huntsman brings up a good point. He goes to follow Marek, languidly. As they approach the pyramid, he draws his sword, unsure what to expect. "Right. This is it." Captaaaaaaaaaain Obvious!

"I'm a fair hand with them," Karl admits, his gaze sweeping up the monoliths that flank the old, sand-strewn road up towards the pyramid's entrance, murmuring under his breath, "Makes you feel kind of small, doesn't it...?" He pushes forward, a brisk stride to the front of the pack, "Once we get to the entrance, move slowly and keep behind me, so I can try and make sure they haven't left any surprises behind."

Marek pokes at one of the monoliths with his spear, taking off a bit of caked on sand to reveal some appropriate iconography. "What kind of sun-baked mind builds something like this, out here in this forsaken land. Something wrong with those ragheads." That bit of fantasy racism aside, Marek continues on after taking several gulps from his waterskin. "I got your back, Karl, less Wilma here wanna do the honors?"

Talitha does not appreciate the coarse language overly much, but she has spent enough time along humans in various kinds of caravan guarding jobs that she has got used to it so now she just ignores it. She lets some of the more brawnier members of the group to take the lead and stays near the rear of the group with her bow at hand as they journey towards the pyramid which proves to be further away than it looks. "Traps most likely, and eternal guardians who do not sleep, probably." the Llyranesi offers.

Wilma looks about at all the tall folk, the snorts. "Might as well, Marek - that way folks are at least bein' able to see over my head," the dwarf admits, before grumbling about unnatural heights.

Finally, the group reach the steps leading up to the entrance- mercifully, only a couple of dozen still rise above the sand, but it's clear that at one time this building was beyond massive- something to rival even the mighty kulthian flying cities. Either side of the door are large statues, carved from black stone and adorned with gold and jewels- depicting humanoid figures, with animal faces.

Karl stops dead, staring up at the gilded statues. "Oh yes," he states dryly, "Massive statues covered in gold and jewels outside the pyramid, that haven't been looted yet. I certainly trust that there's nothing dangerous here..." He holds up a hand, moving carefully forward towards the steps.

GAME: Karl rolls Perception: (2)+10: 12

After a few moments, Karl allows, "...stairs should be fine. There's no door, so that's not a problem. I'm pretty sure the statues are trapped, but..." He frowns up at them, " idea how. Hopefully if we don't touch them, we'll be fine."

Garth shrugs, taking his place around the middle of the group, what with there being no special tasks for him to attend to. He keeps his sword drawn and in hand, though. He doesn't terribly trust this place at all. "Sod the statues. More hopin' to find out what's been eatin' the people who studied this place." he says to Karl. He's not in it for the gold! ... Okay, he is, but only partway.

Marek takes out his dagger as soon as Karl is done, approaching the doors but pauses a moment and rethinks it. "Get it on the way out, that way won't have to lug it all over hell's creation and back down there." Spear readied, Marek falls in behind Karl, ready to begin dispenses violence at a moment's notice.

Talitha waits patiently while Karl studies the entrance and the statues. It is only after he speaks that she will reply. "Let us move on then, keep eyes keen, tread lightly." She offers as she looks down the stairs into the darkness, her elven eyes likely able to see much further down there than the humans. She does not actually move in yet though, still perfectly fine to let Karl take the lead.

Wilma snorts a bit, keeping back as Karl does his thing, but not about to let the ranger get too far ahead. Not the least because she isn't much of a sprinter, never mind long distances.

As the group heads inside, they find themselves in a long corridor, the light spilling in from outside just about lights the first fifteen feet- though those with keener eyes can make out an archway leading into a dark room about thirty feet down. Beyond that, though, is pitch darkness.

Karl's lips purse in a tight line as he looks down the shadows. "...well, let's get going, then," he allows, moving to carefully make his way down the corridor, "Someone light a torch or something so we can see."

"I can see just fine. How is that I can see in the damn dark yet I'm the only one to remember to bring dungeoneering supplies? These things ain't cheap, y'know." Marek grumbles, setting his spear aside to unshoulder his pack and produce a sunrod. He smacks it against his chest and hands it off to Karl before putting his pack back on and reclaiming his spear.

GAME: Marek used a Sunrod.

As the group ehads down the corridor and into the room, they will find it matches the countours of the outside- a square base, tapering up to a triangular point at the apex of the ceiling. In the center of the room is a pedestal, with two hollow grooves in the surface that look like they once held something. There is also a dessicated corpse in here, leaning up against the pillar, and clutching a leatherbound book to his chest, where dried out skin stretcehes tightly across his ribcage. It's hard to tell how old the corpse is, since the dry heat of this desert does not promote rotting.

Garth... simply follows along. Keeping his eyes peeled, but otherwise allowing the trapfinder to do his job. He hits things. With a large sword. That's HIS job. He nods his thanks to Marek, though, as he lights the sunrod.

As they creep into the room, he tenses a little bit. "Reckon it's safe to poke around?" he inquires of Karl. He's in charge of this expedition! Until he falls into one of the traps he's failing to notice, that is.

Karl holds the sunrod high as they step into the room, the sullen alchemical glow spreding through the pyramidal chamber. "...oh, yeah, I have no idea how these people got the idea the place was cursed," he murmurs dryly, "Dried-out corpses clutching mysterious books is never ominous..." He makes his way slowly around the corners of the room, eyes mostly on the pedestal as he checks the place out.

GAME: Karl rolls Perception: (16)+10: 26

"... I've known too many magus who'd let themselves go into that condition if the book were bein' interestin' enough," Wilma points out with a bit of amusement as she considers the dessicated corpse.

"Make a move, boney, I'll fuck you up." The half-orc warns the corpse from a distance, brandishing his spear at the skeletal bibliophile with one hand while pulling the pistol from his belt, perhaps hoping that he might actually be able to use it to some actual effect this time.

"Hah." goes Garth, grinning at Wilma. He eyeballs the corpse. " 'S clutching that book awful tight. Got trapped here, maybe?" He peers around suspiciously, but doesn't otherwise move until Karl gives the all-clear. He's not terribly keen on stepping on any pressure plates.

Talitha steps into the chamber after the others, looking around the room with curiosity, seeming more interested about the architechture than the corpse with its book. Looking for any kind of writings or hierogylphs or the like. That is the main reason she came along, to explore. "Interesting..." she muses to nobody in particular really. Eventually her attention does move to the corpse though. "Do you think that is the remains of one of the people who originally built this place, or the remains of a would be tomb robber?" she ponders. "I would reckon the latter, since it has just been left there and not properly buried. Unless he was the last... that there was nobody left to bury."

"Whoa--" Karl's hand thrusts the sunrod in the direction of the corpse, "--don't touch it!" Not that anyone was planning on it. He slowly approaches the dessicated remains, crouching down a bit, "Okay, there's... a plate under him, that..." He looks up, around, pauses, "Ah. The door. He moves, we get locked in here."

Marek scratches his head. "Aight. Well, should I get some pitons hammer them into the arch there, make sure the door or whatever doesn't fall on us?" Marek offers, still eyeing the skeleton suspsiciously. Racial profiling against the flesh-impaired continues to go on to this day.

The large room has only two apparent exits. One heading back towards the main entrance, and a second apparently heading deeper down into the pyramid, sealed off by a huge stone slab. There is some kind of pictograph on the slab that depicts what appears to be the room. The symbol on the door is shown in the center, where the corpse is, and where the door is. A second symbol on the crude map lies where the main exit is.

"You do that," Karl agrees, glancing over to Marek, "Once those're in place, I'll try and get the book free without disturbing the pressure plate too much... looks like a journal, maybe it'll have some clues."

"Yeah, I'm thinkin' we'd best secure the entrance, then. Not terribly keen on dyin' in here and all." says Garth, turning towards said door to inspect it and attempt to gauge its weight and how they could possibly stop it from closing if it wanted to. With their luck, it's a huge stone slab not even the gods could hope to hold up.

Talitha turns her attention back to the walls after Karl explains the nature of the corpse. "Fascinating." she notes, pointing at the pictograms at the walls. "These tell a story of a great war. War between the elements. The Water betrayed the Earth, which was destroyed, then Water in turn was enslaved by the Fire and the Wind, who according to this are still fighting to this day, or at least to when this was made, even though they have reached some kind of a temporary truce." She explains, narrowing her eyes as she studies the writings more. "There is probably more information here... but I do not know the language this is written in." she admits, seeming rather disappointed about that.

Talitha looks around, noticing how everyone seems to be focusing on the closed far door then, so she walks over there as well, studying the symbols in the door as well. "If I understand this correctly, the two doors are linked to each other with some sort of mechanism, to open this one, you would need to close the other, by moving the corpse like you said earlier."

Examination of the entrance reveals something odd. There seems to be a gap between the outer layer of the pyramid, and the inner layer the room exists in. However, there is no apparent door or mechanism in place over the entrance.

Marek drops his pack to the floor, fishing out six pitons. He rummages through his pack a bit more, producing a goblin army knife. "Shoulda brought a real hammer. This gob piece of shite is such a pain." Marek heads over to the archway the group came from and starts hammering the pitons in, leaving just the head exposed to stop any would be doors from falling and leaving us drawing lots on who is going to eat each other.

"That would be why he died, then." says Numbers, seeming to have a realization from Talitha's words. "Folks, we need a nice, large piece o' rock from outside." Garth says, nodding. "Y'see... he was the only one left. He had nothin' but himself to hold the plate down."

"Whoa, whoa," Karl scrambles up to his feet, holding a hand out, "Marek, wait. We may need to close that door after all, stop with the spiking just yet..." A glance to Garth, a brow lifting, "We don't need a rock. We've got the corpse."

"Don't want that thing somehow becomin' misplaced, or bein' so light it needs a special balance to hold the plate down. Best have a backup." says Garth to Karl, shrugging. "Depending on just Rotty 'ere could end bad, eh?"

"Fer fuck's sake, I got one halfway in already. Stupid veyshan and their fucking triangles. Almost as bad as a fucking dwarf hold." Marek complains, turning the gobling army knife over to the small pry hook for removing nails.

"Damn straight. A fuckin' dwarf hold wouldn't let you get within sight of the outside while you were bein' crushed to death," Wil pings back.

"Says you. Used a trapped to shite dwarf escape tunnel to get that rich fellow's kid that got kidnapped when I killed that Basilisk. With my bare goddamn hands." Marek replies proudly and defiantly, lifting a foot to show off his reptilian-skinned boots.

Talitha does not offer an opinion on the rock issue, she is certainly not going to be carrying one though. "I would like to take a look at that book once we are sorted. Perhaps it will have information of what else we are to expect further inside. I do wonder though, what happened to whatever was originally holding the plate down." she thinks out loud. "Maybe the book will have answer to that as well."

"Lazy bastard." Garth jokes at Karl's words, but does get on his way to find the MYSTICAL ROCK (tm). "Keep the door open, eh?" Off he goes. For the rock. A nice and heavy one - but not TOO heavy, he wouldn't wanna damage the mechanism.

"Congratulations for losin' all your weapons an' survivin'" Wil pings back with a smirk for orcish compet, er, companion.

Karl straightens from his crouch. "Well, as soon as we get a big rock, we'll take the book and start reading. Assuming that moving the corpse doesn't result in an army of skeletons pouring through the door or something like that," he allows cheerfully, even as he regards the opposite door with a frown.

It doesn't take terribly long before Garth's on his way back with a nice slab of what used to be impressive architecture in tow. THUNK. "..." THUNK. "Can ya get that sunrod a bit closer, please?" comes from the tunnel. And once they do, in he goes with the Rock (tm), depositing it nearby the panel and corpse carefully - not on, though. "There we are."

Marek bristles at Wilma after he finally tears the piton out with a loud grunt. "Fuck, it's bent now." He grumbles, tossing it aside with a cling. "Didn't lose nothing. Threw my blade aside got that critter to come right at me, busted him right in the damn head as he was coming right for me." Marek brags, finally putting everything back in his pack and reclaiming his spear. "We ready to do something now instead of playing switches and levers like some kind of godawful goblin gadget?"

Wilma twitches a touch, "No goblins. That way lies 'orrible strangeness." That said, however, Wilma smirks at Marek. "Didn't have it to begin with?" she asks, not quite taunting. After all, job here.

"Nope." Karl takes hold of the corpse's shoulders once Marek steps away from the entrance, "We're still playing with switches and--", he heaves the dessicated corpse to one side with a firm push, "--levers. And pressure plates."

Talitha reaches out to pick up the book from the corpse as Karl gets ready to push it, to make sure it isn't damaged by the fall.

As the corpse is moved... nothing happens. At least, not at first. There is a dull thud, seemingly coming from eep, deep below. And another, stronger than the first. And another, this time shaking dust from the walls. And another, and braziers spark to life of their own accord all along the walls. And then the room begins to tremble and shake, before with an almighty noise of stone aganst stone it begins to turn, pebbles and dust and chips of old plaster falling from the ceiling and showering down on the group as the enormous structure groans against the ravages of time. The entrance dissapears from view, and it takes several minutes before the open archay lines up with the now open stairway leading down the other way. It comes to rest with one last shudder, and the stone creaks and protests for several minutes before.

That pounding noise deeb below continues its slow, ponderous rythm.

Karl's hand braces against the pillar as the entire room begins to move--glancing to the braziers that've sparked to life, then back to the doors. "Let's hope this whole thing doesn't just collapse," he mutters under his breath, only relaxing once the door's become visible and open. He's starting to push himself up to his feet when he stops, head cocking to one side. "'s still going. Still doing something down there."

"Oh, I had it. I carry all I need with me right here." Marek retorts, reaching to grab his crotch before a look of terror sweeps over him when the room begins to shake and rumble. "FUUUUUU-!" He calls out, trying to find a corner of the room least likely to have a stone block fall and crush him. Which has the effect of him running around looking like an idiot.

"Well. That's not what I expected to happen." says Garth a good few seconds after everything has stilled. He'd had his arms above his head a moment ago, in attempt to keep bits of the ceiling from impacting his cranium. "Suddenly not so keen on this place." Natural curiosity versus survival instinct... natural curiosity losing out. He listens. "Yeah. Reckon it'll move again?" he asks of Karl. He... is not very technically minded. Bright, certainly, but... Swords. Large ones. He hits people with them.

Talitha sways a bit as the room starts spinning, but manages to mostly keep her footing without extra support, Elven grace and all. Not to mention she was expecting something of the like to happen. Once the room stills again she opens the book she picked up from the corpse and starts browsing it over, hoping to find something that would tell more about this place and what to expect.

With the room's new alignment, the now-sealed entrance and the switch now bar the same symbol, while the newly opened way down bears the other.

"... I'm so not goin' to ask how you actually used your hands on that poor wee baskilisk," Wil starts with, before grunting a bit as the room actually moves, "What the hells...?" she mutters, not moving much to keep her balance beyond taking a wider stance.

Most of the early section of the book consists of lurid tales of sexual conquest, over-indulgence in drink and morally ambiuous ventures facilitating the first two. However, it doesn't take long to find the entry where the man and his group entered the dungeon. It tells the story of how they came seeking riches. They removed a pair of jeweled scepters from the pedestal, which is what caused the entrance to seal up on them. As they explored deeper, several of their number were lost, until only three remained and decided to try to escape. The author of the journal stayed on the plate while his comrades went to go find a rock. They never came back. Of particular interest are repeated mentions of 'the heart of stone' a supposedly enormous diamond that resides at the center of the deepest level of this dungeon. The dates on here put this venture at some time during the period when the mists settled over Alexandria. The final page is a half-finished note to the author's mom, apologizing for being a bad son.

Marek peers down the entranceway, taking a few steps inside to get a look where his darkvision picks up and the sunrod's light drops off. "If they didn't want folks like us coming in here, you'd think they'd just seal the goddamn place up." Marek complains again. "We ain't got all day to look at some book, it didn't help that dipshit to survive, it ain't gonna help us."

Talitha finishes reading over the book after a few minutes and walks after the others. "Apparently there is some kind of large diamond at the middle of this place, somewhere far below, called Heart of the Stone. There is also apparently some kind of crocodiles in there somewhere that ate some members of that mans group." she offers the most useful entries from the journal.

Karl slants a look back over his shoulder. "...crocodiles. How've they survived all this time...? Well, maybe there's an underwater access from the river," he muses, "A diamond, though? I'm all about the gigantic diamonds." He flashes a grin, then steps through, "Let's go find these crocodiles..."

"You had me at diamonds." Marek beams. "I wonder what croc tastes like. Maybe like gator. Gator is good eating, get down to the tail." The half-orc offers, spear and pistol at the ready.

"... well, at least they're not bein' lizardfolk," Wilma opines, before moving to follow Karl, greatsword resting on her shoulder.

"Mm. Would be a nice bonus, but let's stick to doin' what we've been sent to do." goes Garth, being either the partypooper or the voice of reason. Or both. He does nod at Karl, though. "Lead the way." He flexes his hand on the pommel of his sword, spinning it a couple times to get a good grip. He'll follow the trapfinder, yes.

The Sunrod appears to no longer be neccecary- the braziers seem to have lit up all over the pyramid. The part they can see, at any rate. They descend into another long corridor, which leads them into a square room. There is a very narrow walkway, just wide enough to shuffle along sideways, over a pit full of sand. That pounding sound continues deep below.

Karl tucks the sunrod in his belt--still glowing, but it's not hot, so he can always pull it out later--and steps up to the edge of the walkway. "There's just... sand down there," he observes, "This is going to be a little tricky to navigate. Take it nice and slow, alright? I'll go first..." He takes a slow breath, then exhales it before beginning to creep out onto the walkway.

Wilma looks at the 'walkway'. "Oh, hells no. At least, not in this stuff," she says, thumping her shoulder once.

Talitha looks down at the pit with a frown. "I am sure there is more down there than just ordinary sand, I would suggest not falling down." she offers matter of factly before carefully making her way over the pit along the walkway after Karl, demonstrating that well known Elven grace.

Karl is confident--perhaps too confident, given that he slips near the end, but he's close enough to the far edge that he can throw himself forward and catch himself against the wall. "There," he allows, easing back from the wall and turning to watch Talitha cross, "That wasn't... so bad."

"Yeah. That... doesn't look good." Garthos agrees with Wilma. Armored people aren't terribly good at that sort of thing. He sighs as two of five cross right away instead of helping the armored people out. Rude AND incosiderate! "Help her get hers off. I'll do mine." he, being a gentleman, asks of Marek. "We can carry it across, but it ain't gonna be pretty if we have to balance on that itty bitty path with it on."

Wilma smirks a bit, then shakes her head. "They can be waitin' for us," she points out to Garthos, before starting to tug on various pieces of her kit, undoing a buckle here, there, working to pretty much slither-shrug her way out of the whole thing.

GAME: Marek rolls Acrobatic: (16)+Acrobatic: 16 <OOC> Marek says, "With the +5, that's 21."

Marek watches the rest of the group stripping off rather impatiently. "For fuck's sake, just hold on and I'll go across. Taara's Titties." He grumbles, and starts to shuffle across the walkway, hopping off to the other side. "I did it armor, you fucks can too!"

"Okay." goes Garth once his armor is fully off. It's really just the clasps for the most part, since the armor is a simple breastplate, a sculpted bit of metal. Let's just say that even with the armor carried, he's not elegant at this. At ALL. He has to stop, windmill, and generally look like a moron a couple of times before making it to the other side. Where he uses some colorful Goblin curses to sum up his experience.

GAME: Wilma rolls Acrobatics: (11)+1: 12

"Put a troll sock in it, Marek - if the sand eats me when we're runnin' back, I'm pullin' you in with me," Wilma wheezes around her pile of armor she's bringing with her.

Garthos, in the meantime, begins the arduous process of placing the armor back on. "If ya could...? Just the ones that are hard for me to reach, please." he asks of Talitha, who clearly wears armor AND is the most civilized of the group.

GAME: Talitha rolls perception: (17)+4: 21 GAME: Garthos rolls Perception: (16)+3: 19 GAME: Wilma rolls Perception: (2)+3: 5 GAME: Karl rolls Perception: (8)+10: 18 GAME: Marek rolls Perception: (7)+8: 15

Marek chuckles as he helps out putting armor back on for the less agile of his comrades, "I swear to Kor, Wilma. When it comes to you and rope, there's just nothing but trouble." His demeanor shifts back to quasi-professional violence distribution agent when Talitha lets out a warning and he draws his pistol once more, cocking the hammer.

With Talitha's advanced warning, you're all able to hear it after a few moments- Scuttling noises, and it's growing louder and more numerous. There's something coming.

Current Initiative Order ====

21                  Wilma

20                  Scarab1

19                  Talitha

11                  Karl

9                   Marek

5                   Scarab2

4                   Garthos

The source of the scuttling comes closer still, and beomes apparent. A pair of giant bugs, easily as big as a very large dog are scuttling down the corridor towards the group. Their hides are covered n sand and dust which seems to be slughing off them, along with chips of sandstone.

GAME: Wilma rolls 1d20+9: (7)+9: 16 GAME: Wilma rolls 4d6+12: (12)+12: 24

Wilma, still in the process of making sure all her armor is fitting right, catches sight of the bugs. "Gods damn... Land crabs," she swears. Leaving off on the rest of her armor, the bottom part flapping a bit, the dwarf runs towards the giant bugs, immediately swinging her sword and severing the head of one of the bugs, leaving it in two pieces. An antenna twitches, as the body collapses.

GAME: Talitha rolls 1d20+9: (16)+9: 25 GAME: Talitha rolls 1d8+3: (8)+3: 11

Talitha was already focused the way the sound was coming from, so as soon as she sees the big bugs emerging from the darkness, she takes aim with her bow, though it seems the dwarf reacted even faster and already slew one of the insects, so she focuses on the remaining one, sending an arrow with precise aim towards it, striking true and wounding it, but apparently it takes more than a single arrow to bring the critter down, as it still stands.

GAME: Karl rolls 1d20+10: (9)+10: 19 GAME: Karl rolls 1d10+1d6+8: (6)+(1)+8: 15

Karl's rifle is brought up, the darkwood stock resting against his shoulder and the magicite crystals that line the barrel beginning to glow with an ominous blue light as he takes aim--sighting down the length of the weapon, a bullet follows a half-second behind Talitha's arrow, cracking through the carapace in a splash of sticky, unpleasant ichor across the floor.

Karl's rifle is brought up, the darkwood stock resting against his shoulder and the magicite crystals that line the barrel beginning to glow with an ominous blue light as he takes aim--sighting down the length of the weapon, a bullet follows a half-second behind Talitha's arrow, cracking through the carapace in a splash of sticky, unpleasant ichor across the floor.

Marek brings up his own pistol a moment later, ready to take a shot, before Karl splatters the other bug with one well placed shot. "Goddamnit." Marek whines, staring at the bug a second before he shoots the corpse anyway, immediately cupping his hands over his ears. "I CAN'T HEAR ANYTHING." The half orc bellows.

Garth isn't even able to pull his sword in time before the overlarge pests get to paint the walls and floors. "Huh. Nice shots." he commends his comrades, going right back to putting his armor on PROPERLY, because right now, it's only halfway, haphazardly fastened and clinging to him kind of awkwardly. "What ARE those things? Ain't ever seen a bug like that - and I ain't talkin' about the size."

"I'm just glad it isn't a swarm of fucking crabs." Someone has picked up Marek's cussing. However, upon realization that the bugs are all dead, the dwarf trots back to the others. "Can someone get those last couple of buckles in the back?"

After the creatures die and collapse to the ground, their bodies calcify over a period of just a couple of minutes. And then the remains crumble away, revealing a pair of jewled sceptres, one red, one white.

"HOLY FUCK BUGS IN VEYSHAN TURN INTO JEWELS. I LOVE THIS PLACE." Marek loudly announces, rushing forward to scoop the scepters up like a kid with a new toy.

"...well." Karl stares as the scarabs dissolve into scepters, "That's not something you see every day..." He reloads the rifle out of habit, his head shaking slightly, "Shall we see what's down there, then? Seems like they've gone to a lot of trouble to keep us out of here."

Talitha walks into the next room and takes a look, her gaze stopping on the pedestal with the grooves for several long moments as her brow furrows some. Then she remembers something, taking out the book again and browsing it to one of the later entries. "The scepters! They are keys. The journal tells of them taking two jeweled scepters from the first room, there is similar grooves here, I am sure the scepters fit right to those."

Marek rubs at his ears, scepters tucked under his arm. "I THINK These Go Here." he says, slightly less loud as his hearing starts to return. "I Shouldn't Have Used That Much Powder, I Guess." He takes one of the scepters and tries to fit in a groove.

"Don't just--" Walk into a possibly trapped room without checking for traps. Garth's shoulders sag. Assuming nothing horrible happens to the pair, he strides into the room - but not as far as the pedestal, letting them tinker and fiddle with it on their own while he scans the walls and floor of the place.

When the Scepter is inserted, the room immediately begins to shift and shake. Suddenly there is a booming voice, "You are not the designated wardens. Prepare to be eradicated." And the stones of the wall begin to shift, taking on the shape of a bearded face, with glowing gemstone eyes.

"Marek, ah--" Karl stops just within the boundary of the room, even as Marek strides along past them, apparently not hearing them talk, "--maybe you shouldn't-- should let us-- oh, Reos's burnt beard that was a bad idea." He looks at the wall for a moment, one hand raising as he clears his throat, "Ah-- excuse me! Excuse me, Mister Guardian?"

Maybe he can talk to the face in the wall!

"... great." Thankfully, her and Garthos's armor has been repaired. While Karl acts like a bard, Wil pulls her sword from its resting spot on her shoulder and has it point down onto the floor, ready and waiting.

"I'll eradicate you, shitwit!" Marek retorts, firing his pistol at the face on the wall. Or would if he bothered to reload it. "Fuck, Karl, you wanna buy this pistol from me?"

Current Initiative Order ====

20                  Marek

18                  Talitha

13                  Karl

10                  Wilma

9                   Garthos

4                   STONEFACE

GAME: Marek rolls 1d20+11: (14)+11: 25 GAME: Marek rolls 1d8+12: (6)+12: 18

"Here, take a look at it a sec." Marek quips to Karl, tossing the pistol over to the gunman before he lets loose a crazy battleroar and rushes forward, spearing the everloving shit out of the face in the wall. "You got a spear in the face. What now, bitch?!"

GAME: Talitha rolls perception: (18)+4: 22

Talitha blinks in surprise as the stony face appears to the wall, her eyes widening some for a moment before they retain their neutral mask. "Maybe we should try to nego...." at which point the half orc charges past her with his spear to smash the thing with his full strength... so much for that idea. She has her bow in hand still but seeing how little impact the barbarians spear had she does not have faith on her arrows doing more than annoying it, so she instead looks around the room trying to find any kind of clues as to how to disable that guardian.

GAME: Karl rolls 1d20+10: (7)+10: 17

"Marek." Karl closes his eyes for a split second, whispering an actual prayer. Possibly for survival. Possibly for the patience to deal with the half-orc without shooting him. Then the rifle's brought up, the barrel's ominous blue glow flashing with a crack of magicite dust and black powder, but the bullet ricochets off the edge of the stone face without causing much harm.

GAME: Wilma rolls 1d20+9: (9)+9: 18 GAME: Wilma rolls 2d6+7: (11)+7: 18

"Best hope that one's not an alarm," Wilma calls out as she goes towards the face. Keeping a decent amount of space between her and Marek, she slides to a stop and lets momentium lend its weight as she swings the greatsword up. With a protesting sound as steel meets rock, a long gouge is left in its wake.

GAME: Garthos rolls 1d20+2+4+1+1-1: (19)+2+4+1+1+-1: 26 GAME: Garthos rolls 2d6+9: (4)+9: 13

Garth grumbles something about overeager comrades-in-arms, jogging forward with a big clanking of metal and pulling his greatsword free of its sheathe, bringing it across the stony guardian. There's the sound of steel meeting stone, and although most of the blow is deflected, it still leaves a tiny bit of a bite behind in the construction.

GAME: Wilma rolls Ref: (20)+2: 22 GAME: Marek rolls Reflex: (5)+2: 7 GAME: Karl rolls Reflex: (16)+11: 27 GAME: Talitha rolls reflex: (14)+4: 18 GAME: Garthos rolls Reflex: (7)+2: 9

The guardian's eyes glow for a brief moment, before projecting beams of searing energy. They sweep across the room from left to right. Most of the group are quick enough to dodge, but Marek is not. The bricks making up the walls warp and shift, flowing out into a pair of huge fists moments after the heat beams dissipate.

GAME: Marek rolls 1d8+12: (2)+12: 14

Marek takes the laser right to the chest, tossing the spear aside and growling. He pulls the flail tucked away in a scabbard on his back, throwing the head across the face of the rock monster with some effect, but not much. "COME OUT OF THAT WALL AND FIGHT LIKE A MAN IF YOU GOT THE STONES!"

GAME: Talitha rolls reflex: (13)+4: 17 GAME: Chiddle rolls 2d8: (14): 14 GAME: Chiddle damaged Talitha for 7 points. 11 remaining.

Talitha after a bit of looking around the room, her attention focuses on the scepter and she tries to pull it out, but it turns out to be rather hot so she has to pull her hand back quickly with a scream of pain as she shakes her hand. "Ow... that was unexpected." she notes.

GAME: Karl rolls 1d20+10: (13)+10: 23 GAME: Karl rolls 1d10+8: (4)+8: 12

The paper cartridge loads the rifle with black powder and another bullet, and the rifle's snapped shut once more. "In the name of the Champion," Karl swears under his breath, bringing the mithril-chased rifle up once more, "I hate constructs... golems..." Another shot, the magic-wreathed bullet smashing off a chunk of the stone face's lip, "...and all of these mechanical abominations!"

GAME: Wilma rolls 1d20+9: (16)+9: 25 GAME: Wilma rolls 2d6+7: (10)+7: 17

Wil groans. "Got the stones? /Really/?" she has to ask Marek, even as she brings her greatsword up again, trying to make the the stone even more battered - and succeeding to some degree.

GAME: Garthos rolls 1d20+2+4+1+1-1: (4)+2+4+1+1+-1: 11

Garth glances briefly at the arms as they spring from the walls. "Great." he mutters, bringing his sword about - but there's WAY too many people in melee now for his fighting style to be efficient, and while thankfully the swordspin doesn't take off Wilma's scalp (she's real short, see, goes right overhead!), it doesn't do much to the stone either, just scraping against it ineffectually with a couple sparks and a grinding noise.

GAME: Chiddle rolls 1d20+10: (12)+10: 22 GAME: Chiddle rolls 1d8+15: (7)+15: 22 GAME: Chiddle damaged Wilma for 22 points. 11 remaining.

The creature might be slow and ponderous, but once it decides to start moving, it sure is hard to stop. One of the enormous fists swing across towards wilma, simply overpowering her defenses and slamming into her with all the force of ten tons of stone.

GAME: Marek rolls 1d20+9: (9)+9: 18 GAME: Marek rolls 1d8+12: (4)+12: 16

Marek might be riding an adrenaline high that would kill a lesser man, but he's not entirely gone full retard strength. Looking over his shoulder, he sees Talitha burn herself on the scepter and drops his flail, kicking it out of direct combat while he draws his longsword and brings it down on a cracked portion of the stone, revealing some glowing core inside. "USE THE FLAIL CHAIN TO MOVE THE SCEPTER!" he bellows.

<OOC> Talitha says, "I will pick up the flail and try to pull the scepter out with the chain of that then." GAME: Talitha rolls strength: (18)+2: 20 GAME: Chiddle rolls 1d8: (2): 2

Talitha shakes her hand a few more times, gritting her teeth, then she hears what Marek yells and turns her attention down to the floor, reaching down to pick it up, and with the same motion wraps the chain of the flail around the scepter and gives it a firm tug, managing to pull the scepter out from the groove, sending it rolling along the floor some distance away.

When the rod is removed, the creature lets out an enraged bellow which shakes the walls. Its arms flail about, smashing holes in the masonry. "Unexpected power failure. Elemental core breeched. Detonation in ten... nine... eight..." this would be a good time to run away.

"You've exposed its core," Karl shouts to the warriors, "I'll take the..." The rifle's brought up... and then the scepter is removed, and the thing goes completely haywire. He lowers the weapon, dropping back a step, "...oh, Deimos laughs. Move, people! Move, move, move-- get the bloody hells out of here!"

Marek snatches up his spear and pistol, running like a mad bastard for the explosion that will inevitably follow hot on his steps that he will not look at.

'Oh shit' might be a good expression. In fact, "Oh, SHIT!" It's a good spoken expression too! That said, Wil picks herself up and turns towards the exit. "This is so gonna suck,"

"..." That's Garth's choice of words. He breaks into a run... then slows, just a little bit. Why? Wilma, that's why. The badly-wounded dwarfgirl isn't exactly fast, and she's a bit too heavy to lift and carry bodily. So instead, if he has to, he'll shield her with his body. Because that's how he rolls.

He still runs, mind you. Oh hell yes.

Talitha blinks as she hears the words from the construct, and indeed follows along with the example of the others and runs out of the room back the way they came, even though she doesn't add any choice curse words to it unlike most of the rest.

Of course, it's going to be a bit of a problem once they hit the walkway... but one problem at a time. Karl ducks under a flailing hand of stone, taking up the rear as he heads after Talitha, "Go, go, go!"

The group are barely able to make it to the relative shelter of the sand-filled room before a huge explosion rocks the complex. Fire comes pouring out of the corridor and surges ainto the room, but hiding around corners shields the group from the brunt of it. The explosion has also blown all the way through to outside, so naturlal light pours into the room they had been in. That Rythmic pounding sound from deep below? It just got faster. In fact, it almost sounds like a heartbeat. However, with a new way out made, it's going to be a while before excavation teams can clear enough rubble for the group to be able to continue.

"Ya alright?" Garthos asks of Wilma once the place has finished EXPLODING. He glances down, patting out a tiny bit of fire on the part of his ragged sleeve that juts out from beneath the armor... then glances up. "Thanks." he says, seemingly to the gods. For allowing him a way out WITHOUT crossing the stupid pathway again.

".... Vesyhan is awful. Always with the explodin' an' the smackin' around," Wilma informs Garthos, before smirking. "It's only a flesh wound." There is a pause, "An' some broken ribs."