We continued our exploration of the under-temple, wandering through catacombs amply stocked with bones.
(Pondering: back in the old days, when necromancers walked the lands, what was the economy of corpses? Were there enough to go round, or did they have to compete for places like this?)
Here and there we found a few sarcophagi, presumably belonging to the better-off among the deceased (if that isn’t an oxymoron), with inscriptions in ye olde Formalle Common.
Several of the skeletons had valuable-looking jewellery, gems and brooches and the like, some with similar workmanship to the amulet of Asmodeus but with a wide selection of gods represented. Quite ecumenical.
By mutual agreement we did not loot the bodies, on the principle that if nobody had already done so in the last few centuries there was probably a good reason for that. We did ask Billy if his mob had been curious about the place; he said no, and in hindsight, that seemed suspicious to him.
We had established that there was a concealed area in the middle, but we needed to find a way in. Going back up a level, we applied our scrutiny to a statue of Rovagug, and Billy found a catch for a secret door that took two to work. When we activated it we heard a clunk from downstairs, and on investigating we found that the secret doors we’d previously identified were now opened.
Inside was a room laid out as if for a ritual, with a magical circle under a statue and symbols of Pharasma around the walls, which were inscribed with a powerful spell. The room emanated magic strongly; Faye walked in first and was almost overwhelmed by it, and Vall was stunned until I pulled him out and walked in myself.
I had thought I’d be better able to withstand the effect, having more familiarity with magic, but my knowledge may have increased my sensitivity; I was quite dazed until Vall and Chrysta pulled me back out and were impolite enough to tie me up.
“That was a hell of a thing.”
Looking at the circle I concluded that it was not one of summoning or protection, as I had first thought, but preservation, with the inscription on the wall reading “WE PROTECT” repeated over and over, with a strong hint of necromancy. Undead guardians?
I extricated myself from the ropes and re-entered the room; this time, although distracted, I was able to keep it under control and examine the circle further. It was open, not sealed. On closer examination of the wall inscription I found it was holding things in the room and protecting the room itself from detection, and that the spell itself was… creating undead from the essence of Pharasma?
“We’re happy goth Pharasma-ites!”
Chrysta was, to put it mildly, not at peace with this disclosure, which seems to run rather contrary to her views on the undead.
(Note to self: make sure C is elsewhere when I transcribe that scroll of animation; I don’t think she entirely appreciates the value of knowledge, and might mistakenly assume that I aim to summon an army of the dead or some such.)
(Not that an army of the dead wouldn’t have its advantages, I suppose. If nothing else, it may be an interesting intellectual exercise to consider…)
[following two paragraphs in an undecipherable shorthand of Nura’s own invention.]
Eventually Chrysta decided to write to Mother Augite for guidance, which should at least postpone the problem until return post. We closed off the temple and headed back to town, with Billy agreeing to keep quiet about our discoveries. I think the town has lost enough foolish young men already without some sort of inevitable “horrible death while trying to rob the catacombs” incident.
On our return, Vall talked to “Mother”. As we’d surmised, she was from the previous wave of adventurers, and she cautioned us: “Christa and Nura will have a problem. They will reach a point where they cannot go any further.”
Hmm. I suppose we’ll just have to see what THAT’S about, and see what we can do about it.
All in all, between the reward from Mother and other takings, we mustered about fifteen thousand gold’s worth! That’s some serious money, my share should keep me in quills for a while when we divide it.
Shiny points: 12 carried over, -1 spent, +1 earned for summary, total 12.