Chronicles of Khaldun: Arctic Death, Infinite Night

Session 35

Monday, February 19, 758 BC

Alyonka, Boudica, Gus, Jezzy, Torbjorn, and Xevok, as well as Gennifer and Laurie Weathermay-Foxgrove, awaken and begin making plans. The plan is straightforward: create a front rank to slow down the skeletal guardians and hammer them with whatever spells seem most effective against them. (There is talk of determining an order in which to cycle through spells, but it is eventually decided to just wing it, as it’s likely to fall to chaos anyway.) Jezzy gives the wand of orgonic disruption to Alyonka, largely because Jezzy is probably going to be focused on her guns and Alyonka seems more likely to have an opportunity to use it. Torbjorn has prepared speak with dead so that they can interrogate Khatun Javach’s corpse for clues, while Xevok gathers some of yesterday’s corpses to raises a zombie and a skeleton to bolster his remaining skeleton before they disembark for this tomb.

Satisfied, the travelers meet with Igan and Sukai, and after breakfast, descend again into the mine. Torbjorn invokes tongues so he can effectively communicate with everyone, including Igan (who did not prepare tongues today so that he would be better positioned to war with any monsters present) and anything they may find in the tomb.

They open the doors and find the beginning chamber as they left it yesterday. The skeletal armatures do not move, but they suspect the creatures will animate when someone enters the room. Once everyone is in position, they begin.

Xevok sends his undead into the tomb to form something of a shield wall as Boudica summons four black bears, sending them to attack the skeletal armatures. The skeletal armatures quickly cut them down, although it slows them enough that the undead front rank is particularly effective. Gus and Torbjorn move behind the undead to enter into melee while Jezzy begins firing at the skeletal statues and the rest of the spellcasters begin pelting the skeletal creatures with spells — although the creatures are resistant to many of their magics, holy magic and sound-based attacks seem particularly effective. Boudica eventually moves forward, invoking thunderwaves before turning into a dire wolf to better destroy her foes.

Although the skeletons manage to destroy the summoned undead and cause minor abrasions to Laurie when she enters into melee with one of them — a flurry of rapier strikes and gunpowder — the skeletal guardians are soon dismantled. However, Torbjorn recognizes his chance: if they attempt to ambush Igan later, it may be more suspicious than continuing the current onslaught. As such, he nods to Xevok, flicking his eyes over to Igan. Xevok gets the point and turns on Igan, who has enough presence of mind to trace a counter-sign in the air and negate the spell.

Sukai is caught more off-guard than Igan, although when he begins to defend Igan, Torbjorn makes sure to say that this was his idea. Igan is caught off-guard, but doesn’t hesitate — he invokes a spell that causes him to phase from this reality. Xevok recognizes the blink spell, meaning that Igan is in the ethereal plane and will return in moments; he tells the others to surround Igan’s former position to prevent him from escaping, and Xevok emphasizes this by summoning Tenser’s floating disk to help block Igan’s escape.

As Igan reappears, Laurie was ready, shoving her Parthian rapier through his throat and pulling the trigger, blowing off his lower jaw as he slumps to the ground in a pool of his own blood. Sukai runs, and both Gus and Jezzy try to prevent his escape, with Jezzy firing on him while Gus runs after him, throws his spear, and then pulls his crossbow and fires. Despite the fact that Sukai is clearly becoming tired and is grazed by the spear, he flees up the stairs and out of the mine shaft, yelling all the while.

It swiftly becomes clear that the guards in the camp establish a perimeter, and the shouting indicates they have orders to fire if anyone emerges. They are clearly ready to starve the travelers out, and they do not listen to their bluffs. (Even though Sukai suspected Igan was some manner of cultist, he is far more worried about the potent warriors and spellcasters currently hiding in the tomb.)

Torbjorn, however, develops a plan. He cannot cast speak with dead, as he will need that power to escape, but they can always take the Khatun’s head with them and speak with dead at a future time. He asks the others to cover him as Boudica thunderwaves the tent into the campsite and Torbjorn invokes thaumaturgy while saying that he means no harm to anyone, but he will not let the guards stand in their way. The guards, having taken positions behind tents, rocks, and boxes, open fire, but Torbjorn only has to dodge a few of the bolts thanks to his heavy armor, and only one of those manages to graze him. He then invokes Thor’s power to summon a storm cloud and call down lightning in the middle of the camp. Not feeling comfortable calling his bluff (and not realizing how tired he is), Sukai and the guards stand down. Torbjorn explains that they only wish to examine the tomb, take what they came to find, and take their leave. Sukai is displeased at the prospect of them disturbing the tomb, since they came on an academic expedition, but Torbjorn says they only want information. Sukai agrees to let them into the tomb unmolested as long as they take a guard with them, and if he does not return, they will open fire on the group. Torbjorn agrees, and Sukai sends one of the lieutenants, a man named Tuulu, down to accompany them.

They ask what Tuulu did to anger Sukai and get on this duty, but he says it is merely his job. The travelers first investigate the tomb beyond the opening chamber, finding another vaulted stone room. At the far end is a raised dais with a sarcophagus, and the walls to the left and right are lined with funerary niches — six to a wall, or twelve in total. Each niche contains a body wrapped in a burial shroud. Most notably, one of Xevok’s skeletons is in here, clearly having been bashed or cut apart by some large force. The travelers, recognizing that this room is both in plain sight and not as grandiose or well-guarded as the hidden tomb — and that something here destroyed one of Xevok’s skeletons — is probably a decoy of some sort and likely contains a trap. As such, they ignore it and investigate the hidden tomb. After debating a good way to test the sarcophagus, they just decide to open it; Torbjorn approaches the sarcophagus and shoves the lid open, breaking the wax seal around it and catching a whiff of stale tomb air. He feels a strange sensation — a feeling of vertigo and light-headedness, perhaps — but the feeling quickly passes. Looking into the sarcophagus, he sees a paper-skinned corpse, well-preserved but clearly quite old. (He suspects that this person was probably naturally preserved due to conditions in the tomb.) The body’s clothes are feminine but are old and threadbare. Of true value is the gold, gem-studded crown upon her head and the silver brooch around her neck. Knowing that Tuulu is closely watching him, he tosses the crown to Tuulu and uses the distraction to wrench her head off while subtly palming her brooch and hiding it in his sleeve. (The others present see it, but Tuulu is too surprised by the crown and aghast at the bodily desecration to notice Torbjorn taking the brooch.) After chiding Torbjorn for desecrating a body that his employer — as Sukai is theoretically his employer now that Igan is dead — will no doubt want intact. When Torbjorn intimates that the crown can just be their secret, Tuulu’s spirits improve significantly as he notes that the sarcophagus and body might have already been like that. He puts the crown in his pack, helps replace the sarcophagus lid, and accompanies the travelers back to the surface.

Having retrieved the skin of the tupilaq as well as Khatun Javach’s head (and a brooch that is likely worth some money), the travelers prepare to leave this camp, although Xevok continues to contemplate how he might steal Igan’s spellbook before they leave the area…

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