True Death Reforged
Upon emerging from their magical hut, the Efreeti presented them with the reforged blade, commenting in his guttural version of common, “I cannot finish the magical work. It requires the touch of weakness.” When the team returned confused stares, he tried again, “It…uhhh…what do they call weakness…grrr…a touch of goodness.” Then the heroes understood, it needed to be blessed, imbued with divine goodness, or something similar.
Levi set to work, blessing the sword and chanting some prayers over it. Upon completion, he lifted it and could feel the sentient sword contact his mind, “I am Chalychia’s Bane, True Death”. Levi and the sword continued mentally chatting for a bit and then Levi expressed smug satisfaction when he related to his companions that it was magical and could create a magical shield against lower level spells. Paelius mentally noted it as a globe of invulnerability, but no point in spoiling Levi’s moment.
True Death is a long sword +3 defender with the ability to create a lesser globe of invulnerability.
The Efreeti held out his shackled hands and said in a near growl, “I’ve have completed the task, now release me!” There were some unintelligible words that followed, which were probably elemental insults reserved for prime material scum. Levi, acknowledging the conditions of its release fulfilled, released the Efreeti, who was gone in mere moments, presumably back to the plane of fire.
At the prodding of Quinn, Levi questioned the sword about Chalychia. He share what he learned: she’s a powerful evil female lich; in order to destroy a lich, you need to kill the bodily form and then the phylactery (the object in which its actual soul is stored); a phylactery can be any object, but is typically a small, portable object of some value with no distinguishing marks or runes on it as it is supposed to be kept hidden and protected.
At Paelius’ prompting, Levi asked the sword who was its creator. It did not know as this event preceded its existence – everyone recognized that as a dodgey answer. When asked about how it ended up shattered, it said it was shattered in the last battle with Chalychia – not exactly informative.
Levi got the impression the sword was good, but odd in its relationship with Chalychia. It left him with confidence in the answers provided, but suspicious of its intentions.
Giving up on questioning the sword, they headed out of the forge room to explore the other parts of the underground complex. They had a choice between left and right with a both ending in a door. They were about to go left, but Klang’s dwarven senses told him there was gold to the right. At first, he thought he had been bewitched, but then he could smell it – gold…and platinum…lots of it.
While Klang knew he had a greedy streak in his heart, this was something more visceral…something instinctual was drawing him to the right passageway. Unconsciously, he found himself a few steps down to the right and opened the door before he got his wits about him. That and Levi’s hand on his shoulder holding him back.
It was then Klang noticed the 3-inch holes in the walls ever foot or so. The holes were 4 feet off the floor of the 10-foot high walls. In this trap infested hole in the ground, that was obviously a bad sign. Levin and Quinn suggested they go left, following their standard exploration plan.
But Klang was having none of that. There was finally some wealth to be had from these evil undead and he meant to have it…for good, of course!
Klang returned to the forge, grabbed the first round object he could find, then returned to the doorway and rolled it down the passageway beyond. No affect. No traps triggered. Nothing. Hmm…that didn’t tell them anything.
Paelius sent his familiar flying down the hall and it got about 10 or 20 feet away and vanished from sight. Paelius confirmed his familiar was not just gone, but that it’s magic was fully dissipated. It was not obvious what trap had triggered or what had happened.
Not happy, Paelius took 10 gold from his robes and re-summoned his familiar. Then he cast detect magic and scanned the passageway ahead. There was no magic. Nothing at all. Not even the usual ambient background of residual magic. And that was truly bad. There was something creating a complete void of magic down there. Paelius shook his head and said, “Tis some anti-magic field down yonder. Someone should explore it.” Klang replied, “Ye first Paelius.” with an evil grin. Paelius just glared at Klang while the others laughed. It was obvious that Paelius was truly nervous at venturing down the passageway.
After a bit of thinking, Klang suggested Quinn cast a divination to see if some divine guidance would help. Quinn obliged asking, “If we venture down this hallway, what effects will this passageway have on us?” The answer he received was, “The hallway suppresses magic.” Standard divine guidance – stating the obvious.
At this point, Klang could no longer resist the gold he sensed was so near and volunteered to venture forth. Levi suggested tying a rope to Klang, just in case it was more debilitating than magic suppression. Klang readily agreed and was soon walking carefully down the passageway with a rope under his armpits and around his torso with Levi on the other end, slowly releasing more rope with every step Klang took.
Sure enough, Klang felt the anti-magic field turn his magic items mundane (and heavy). Even his connection to the divine was severed, a very unsettling sensation. He called back to his comrades that the anti-magic was indeed in effect still. Then a few steps more and he fell into a trap as the floor gave out beneath him. Levi was quick to catch the rope and stop Klang’s fall.
The pit was 60 feet deep with sharp spikes at the bottom. Klang was dangling 20 feet down. That was close. Pulling Klang backup up, Levi observed they were now stuck without magic trying to cross a 10-foot pit. Quinn, seeing it was relatively safe, came down the passageway to join them. Paelius was more hesitant. It wasn’t until Klang volunteered to be thrown across the pit and that they would need Paelius’ help did he enter the anti-magic field.
Wait, Klang volunteered?! This gold truly had Klang losing his mind. Perhaps he was under a spell?
With Quinn and Paelius holding the rope, Levi heaved Klang across the pit, landing solidly 15 feet away on what appeared to be solid floor, until it wasn’t. Again the floor fell away and Klang disappeared from sight. Quinn and Paelius grabbed the rope, but started sliding forward, Klang’s bulk pulling them towards the first pit trap.
Quinn did a quick mental calculation and realized he was going into the pit, but if he let go, Klang would surely die. So he wrapped the rope tightly around his arm. Paelius made a similar calculation, but let go of the rope, launching Quinn over the edge and slamming into the pit’s far wall. Being of similar weight, Klang and Quinn were both dangling from the rope over pits on either side of the intervening wall. Not looking down, they pulled themselves up to the top of the narrow wall between pits.
Finally perched on the wall and looking down, Quinn and Klang shook hands laughing.
Levi and Paelius just shook their heads – life clerics are a special kind of crazy.
Then the second trap then triggered again, the bottom falling out with another set of spikes below the first. You know, just in case you managed to live through the first set, they had a second set to get the job done. Quinn and Klang stopped laughing and just looked down that second trap.
The second pit itself ran right up to the door. So there would be no throwing Klang this time. It would have to be pitons and rope along the wall. What a pain in the ass, hammering pitons into solid stone walls at an awkward angle, over and over again.
An hour later, clinging to the wall and stepping on pitons, they finally reached the far iron door. Finding no traps, they listened and heard nothing. Anything on the opposite side had heard their approach long ago with all that hammering. Opening the door, they each quickly their way across pit trap, carefully stepping on the pitons, and holding a rope. None wanted to be caught clinging precariously to a wall, standing on pitons, above a pit of spikes.
Standing inside the door several feet and looking around the large dark room, they could feel the magic returning to them. Klang brought forth light from his mace and caught his breath. There was gold! Mounds and mounds of the stuff. And platinum! Potions, scrolls – what a magnificent hoard!
Paeilus, suspicious of such displays of wealth, started a ritual to detect magic. But no good deed goes unpunished in this wretched place. A minute or so into the spell, a devil slowly arose from the piles asking in common, “What’s the password?” They looked at each other, shrugged and looked back. Klang guessed, “Chalychia”. That was wrong and the fight was on.
Quinn had to ward off a mental attack, but never understood what exactly the guilded devil tried to do. It certainly wasn’t good. Then the piles of gold started moving, as if a alive. Klang stared in disbelief – a horror the likes of which he had never seen – as the treasure started to whirl like a tornado and started coming his way.
Suffering from shock, Klang was shaken back to reality as his mace was ripped from his grasp by the whirling gold and platinum. Turning, he saw Paelius lose his staff in the same way. That explained the size of the hoard.
It also helped that Quinn banished the devil within seconds of its appearance. Then they were being pelted by the gold and platinum tornado. As the treasure hoard finished bludgeoning the heroes, they were able to see another devil in the room.
Paelius tried to dominate the treasure hoard, but it laughed at him as it reformed behind them. Levi tried to banish the devil, but failed.
The devil turned their magic items against them, temporarily changing their shape to sharp objects that stabbed and jabbed at their wearers. Klang unleashed a fire storm on the treasure golem behind them, which was left the creature angry and it pounded on its nearest target – Paelius.
Quinn banished the second devil, allowing the heroes to focus their attention on the treasure golem. Paelius successfully struck at the creature with his necrotic fireball. Klang invoked a guardian of faith, which successfully struck at it. Again the golem pounded Paelius. Quinn hit the golem, but it wasn’t enough. It was the second necrotic fireball that took the golem down.
Yes, Quinn should have needed to concentrate for a full minute before casting banish again, but no one caught that until later.
While some of the gold and platinum was melted, most of it remained. Paelius quickly retrieved his staff. Klang was a little slower in retrieving his mace, his eyes watering a little as he ran his hands through the piles of coins.
They tried opening their bags of holding and portable hole only to realize the devices were not functioning in this room. Seems the anti-magic field fully encompassed this room and prevented any extra-dimensional connections. There would be no magical means to get this loot out of here. They took the magical items they could carry, but they’d have to come back for the rest.
They agreed on a long rest and recreating the magical hut to rest in, but realized it too would not work here. Klang volunteered to keep watch over the treasure hoard. No one objected. When they woke, they saw all the coins were sorted by country of origin, mint dates, metal type, and neatly grouped into easily countable quantities. Klang was resting against one wall, a gleam in his eye as if he needed no rest. He was as close to paradise has this mortal coil would allow. Perhaps there had been some divine intervention, rewarding Klang for his work here.
potion of clairvoyance
potion of superior healing
potion of storm giant strength – Levi
spell scroll w/7th level spell – Paelius
spell scroll w/8th level spell x2 – Paelius & Quinn
spell scroll w/9th level spell – Paelius
Making their way back across the pitons and using the rope as a guide line, they left the dangerous passageway behind and headed down the other passageway. Checking the door for traps and opening it with mage hand, they entered a triangular room that was clearly a laboratory and library, including a large slate board held vertically in a wheeled wooden frame. This was clearly Paelius’ area of expertise. With no obvious threats, he was volunteered to enter first.
A few steps in, Paelius quickly realized that he could hear nothing, nor could he hear is own voice. It seems a permanent silence spell covered the room. Odd for a laboratory. As he proceeded into the room, he started making out the letters on the spines of the books and a word written in Draconic on the slate board – “Hello”. The others watched from the doorway and Levi commented to Quinn, “I don’t remember him being that stealthy quiet.”
Ignoring the chalkboard, he went to the shelves of books. Glancing around, there were a gambit of languages on display. Then, from the corner of his eye, he noticed the word on the chalkboard had changed, now reading “Sure, don’t talk to me!” Oooooh, this could be interesting. He left the books for the chalkboard. He noticed there was a large gem in one corner and some sticks of calcium carbonate in a tray at the bottom. He picked one stick up and wrote on the board, asking a question. It replied with more writing on the board. Now this was useful! More questions and answers followed.
Eventually, Paelius returned to the doorway. He explained what he learned. No other form of communication can take place in this room except writing on this slate board – not telepathy, not audio, etc. He can write in one language and it is automatically translated to another, depending on the setting of the gem in the corner. The language settings included Abyssal, Draconic, Common, Elvish and more. Then they all entered the room.
Paelius returned to the slate board and changed the language setting to Common so they could all follow along. It seems Chalychia used this room for research and had it silenced this way to prevent herself from accidentally uttering a word of power or worse…a safety measure for her laboratory. When asked to explain the book collection, the board explained there are 100s of books.
Just then, several books that had been moved were magically replaced back in their places. It was about then that they noticed there was one shelf was different and held books much older than the rest. Quinn took a closer look while the questioning continued.
Why was the slate board set to draconic? That was the last language glyphs used by Chalychia.
Where is Chalychia’s phylactery? Don’t know.
When was Chalychia last here? Before the last battle with beings of good.
What is True Death? Chalychia’s bane.
Is True Death trustworthy? Unknown.
Even Paelius grew tired of the vague and often useless answers. Yet the slate board wanted to leave this place, badly. It had no eyes and only was aware of what people wrote on the board. Yet it could sense that Paelius had entered the room and that he ignored it. Hmm…this magical slate was a puzzle they had neither the time nor inclination to decipher. It was time to move on.
Levi had moved to investigate a desk and chair. The desk was covered with papers, scrolls, and books in no particular order. He decided to comprehend languages by touching a book. Despite sensing magic, it only revealed it’s title – Tomb of Black Tongue – with a physical tongue affixed to the front. He was unable to read its contents. He repeated the process with the other book entitled Canticle of the Damned, which was written in infernal, the contents of which lived up to its name. Both books were centuries old.
Levi moved on to the chest. It had 3 locks. He was able to carry it, so he lugged it out of the room so he could hear what he was doing and so Paelius could cast the knock spell on it three times. When opened by Paelius, three poison darts struck him in the chest. Then Levi asked why Paelius didn’t use mage hand. Paelius just started at him, visibly annoyed – “Only after I’m poisoned does he decide to make suggestions, ugh!” Levi helped counter the poison in Paelius and they moved to investigate the chest’s contents.
The chest contained 47 gems that looked valuable, but their worth was uncertain. They all had illusions cast on them to portray a person or creature inside. They crushed one to see if it would release the thing inside, but it was just an illusion. This was confirmed when Paelius cast dispel magic on another gem and the illusion vanished. They were all magical. So they decided to leave the rest in the chest.
It was the scroll and vials below the gems that they removed. A scroll of divine power, more of a potion recipe rather than an actual spell. It stated that it would provide those who imbibed this potion would impart to them strength, dexterity and damage resistance. The three vials were labeled as containing this same potion. The 3 vials were distributed to Quinn, Levi, and Paelius.
They searched for well over an hour and found no other exits. Not in this room, nor any other on this floor. Hmm…?
Then Paelius cast detect magic from outside the room on the contents of the room. The strongest indication of magic came from the odd bookshelf that Quinn had investigated. The 8 books were as follows.
1. Walking on Air (Auran)
2. Dirt and Why It’s Important (Terran)
3. Biology of the Kraken (Aquan)
4. Infernal Recipes: Cooking with Fire (Ignan)
5. Better Castles and Courtyards (Terran)
6. Hellhound Breeding Principles (Ignan)
7. 101 Uses for a Dead Aboleth (Aquan)
8. Breaking the Wind: Harnessing this Underutilized Resource (Auran)
Finding their contents to reflect their titles, they seemed to be intentionally bland and boring stuff. Then they noticed the top shelf was empty. No other shelf was empty. So they put one of the books on the shelf and a barely noticeable spark of magic was seen. So there was something more here than meets the eye. Looking closely at the titles, they decided to order them by plane and then by title, sorted in alphabetical order as follows:
1. 101 Uses for a Dead Aboleth (Aquan)
2. Biology of the Kraken (Aquan)
3. Breaking the Wind: Harnessing this Underutilized Resource (Auran)
4. Walking on Air (Auran)
5. Hellhound Breeding Principles (Ignan)
6. Infernal Recipes: Cooking with Fire (Ignan)
7. Better Castles and Courtyards (Terran)
8. Dirt and Why It’s Important (Terran)
The DM let us know the if we had put them in the wrong order, we would have been dropped into a pit of acid. Lovely.
The bookcase moved aside to reveal a secret tunnel. Paelius returned to the slate board and writing to let it know we’d be back for it, then followed his companions down the passageway.
Quinn questioned Paelius about his interest in the slate board. Surely it had arcane value, but the thing weighed well over 1000 stone and, even on wheels, required the strength of many hands to move. It would take months to extract that thing from this undead death trap of a dungeon. Paelius assured him that the uses for a translating slate board were great and many, then said no more despite the odd looks Quinn gave him.
One Dead Dragon
The passageway led on for quite some ways, north to a door. It opened into circular room with a passageway leading to the right. Another long walk, then turned right to the south and a massive black door about 20 feet ahead. After checking the door for traps and using mage hand to open it, they saw the room’s contents.
First were piles of bleached bones covering the floor for the first 20 feet or so. Then there was a huge open trap door in the center of the floor. In the distance on the far side of the room, they could make out something glowing, like lava. But there were no volcanoes in this part of the world, and they certainly were not far enough below the surface to be encountering it. At this distance, they could just barely make out a door on the far wall.
Klang lit up his mace so they could better see the bones and nearby walls. The room was very large, something the size of a royal hall or…dragon lair. That’s when Klang cast beacon of hope…just in case.
As if on cue, the clawing of some vast beast could be heard coming up from the pit. First was a large claw grasping the edge of the pit and then a head emerged. Only scraps of dried skin remained on this beast however, for this was no ordinary dragon. They realized this was an undead dragon as it launched itself out of the pit as the heroes crouched for battle amongst the bones.
The usual dragon fear was emanating from the beast, but none were affected. Levi’s aura kept them focused and their minds sharp…or it would have if he hadn’t run up the beast only to swing and miss. While that was bad, it was when he brought up the globe of invulnerability that he really inspired his team. What a charismatic paladin! Bah!
The dragon used it’s tail to good effect, smacking the heroes around like small dolls. Paelius’ ray of frost went awry, missing the undead beast. Quinn got in a flame strike. Klang’s attempt to use the Talisman of Good to have the beast swallowed by the ground was foiled when the thing lift off the ground until the effect passed.
Levi got in his first hits…or should more accurately, smites. Whatever it was, he got a dragon tail slap for his trouble. Much magical healing was meted out by Quinn and Klang before Paelius vaporized the draco-lich with his fireball spell.
They split in teams of two and searched the place. What they found was curious. In addition to the lava and the door, there was also a dais to one side. At the top of the dais was a magical portal to what appeared to be a Drow city. They definitely not interested in that right now.
The lava was pouring out of a similar portal, apparently connected to the plane of fire. Sensing a strange yet familiar magic at work, Klang was able to pick up the portal. It was a Well of Many Worlds – something highly prized among the planes walking folk.
Levi drank the vial of divine power in preparation for whatever was coming next only to find that it was, in fact, no such thing. It was a poison. He quickly neutralized the poison and warned the others not to drink them.
Not keen on investigating the pit from which the draco-lich emerged, they opted to check the door for traps and used mage hand to open it while they stood at the ready. It was an ordinary passageway…well ordinary for a devil lich crypt anyway. Levi took the lead with Klang close behind. Quinn and Paelius brought up the rear. The hallway lead down a short ways and ended with a large double door on the left.
The Decorated Door
The doors were engraved with a panoramic view of some distant battle, with a sword wielding winged devil creature having the foremost role in the metallic picture. They stood in awe of the artwork, trying to decipher if it was another trap that would explode on contact, or have some riddle or pattern that would deactivate traps. Nope, none of that. No secret doors in nearby either.
Paelius asked Levi to compare True Death to the sword in the devil’s hands. Seeing they were remarkably similar, Levi held it up next to the door, confirming they were an exact match. Everyone was thinking the same thing – that ain’t good.
They all made a mental note – Chalychia’s Bane my ass, that thing was her sword. So why was it broken into shards, protected by all manner of traps and evil beasties? She herself was as evil as they come – half drow and half devil. Why would evil fight evil? Now they all shared Klang’s suspicions and they spoke them aloud.
Once again, more questions than answers for the heroes. Levi shook off good sense like paladins are trained to do and reaffirmed that this was meant to be, he would slay her with her own sword! Paelius, eager to be free of this undead pit, used his mage hand to open the door, and Levi strode in…foolishly followed by Klang and Quinn. Paelius just put one foot in the room, his head craned through the crack between doors to assess the situation, just in case it warranted a hasty retreat.
There was a wide 60-foot area spanning the from right to left, which dropped off into a pit of lava. Beyond, suspended over the lava by large chains (probably Adamantium) was a fortress some 30-50 feet from the ledge. Man, how do these bad guys always have the coolest headquarters!
And as with every arch-villain, they had minions. Standing guard on the platform inside the door were 4 lich hounds. These pleasant little beasties looked ready and raring for a fight. Must have been waiting centuries for them.
Chalychia certainly was expecting them as she stood atop her fortress, laughed and immediately teleported True Death from Levi’s hand into her own before he even had a chance to swing the damned thing.
Quinn made for one side of the platform, lining up the dogs for a lightning bolt to hit them all. While his attack was extremely successful, he also was struck by the fear they emanated, making him less confident in subsequent rounds.
Levi was quick to draw his other weapons, knocking one dog down with a thrown hammer and killing another. The dogs attacked, turning ethereal in the process, making them difficult to hit. Klang pulled out his boot & hammer holy symbol and turned the undead dogs, causing them all to cower at the edge of the platform, effectively putting them out of the fight.
None too pleased with that bit of divine magic in her lair, Chalychia let loose a powerful magic, one of the most powerful spells the heroes had ever felt…literally and figuratively, as the three in the room were hit by meteors. Taking bone crushing blows from the falling stones, Klang, Levi and Quinn survived.
She also setup a weird black link between herself and Levi that all could see. No one was sure what it meant, but Levi seemed unaffected and pressed on, using misty step to cross the lava, launch an attack and knock her prone.
That made her an easy target for Paelius’s lightning bolt. But he ducked out of the room once cast. He wanted no part of falling meteors.
She was hurting now, but Levi felt that hurt as well, seemingly sharing in the damage inflicted on her. Ouch!
Klang, wanting to deprive her of any more powerful spells, cast silence on her, but she countered it. Grr!
Quinn, fearful of dying, sent a guiding bolt (cranked up to 8th level) strait into her, driving her from the repulsive undead form she had taken. But she did not fall into the waiting arms of his god, the Raven Queen. Levi, having been connected to her momentarily, sensed her retreat into the sword. Reasoning the sword was her phylactery, he scooped up her body and the sword and cast them into the lava.
They all stood watching as first the corpse was incinerated and then the sword slowly melted, giving off sparks of magic as a faint screaming could be heard. Quinn received a warm feeling of divine satisfaction from his god.
Klang, receiving no such divine insight, was busy launching the lich hounds off the ledge with his mace. They too were destroyed by the lava, giving off just faint puffs of smoke. Any that tried to escape by Ethereal means were followed and killed by Klang when he cast his Ethereal spell.
Paelius, seeing the coast was clear, finally entered the chamber in full. He set about detecting magic and investigating the novelty of the chains and fortress. It seems the fortress was actually a magical artifact called Daern’s Instant Fortress. After a few hours of rituals and divine guidance, the were able to discern the command word, shrinking the fortress to a small inch-square cube that Klang pocketed.
After a few hours of discussion, they pieced together what they would later confirm. Chalychia had been imprisoned by forces of good, possibly not knowing that True Death was her phylactery. True Death had been broken into pieces and secured throughout this dungeon. After a few centuries, she managed to corrupt the prison staff and eventually turned them into undead.
Perhaps she could not leave this place, or perhaps refused to leave without her restored phylactery. Either way, she stayed here hatching plans on how to reforge her phylactery True Death. The Efreeti had said it needed good to complete the reforging process, so perhaps she needed to lure some saps here to reassemble the sword for her. Yeah, saps like them. So she had her minions spread the rumors, kill the monks, and plant books full of lies about True Death…all leaving a well marked trail to her abode. She even had conveniently setup a forge staffed by craftsmen from the plane of fire.
Yeah, that was probably the biggest trap of all – the notion that True Death may actually be something heroes could use against her. Even the bad guy’s schemes are better than the heroes’. Dang!
18000 1 Draco Lich
33000 1 Lich
2900 4 Lich Hounds
8400 1 Hoard Golem
5800 2 Gilded Devils
1800 For having Efreeti reforge sword & avoiding additional traps
69900 Total (divided by 4 = 17400 per character)