Original game date: November 10, 2019
The game resumes with Fortune’s Irregulars deep inside the Tomb of Horrors, on a mission to retrieve the famous Draakhorn, an ancient artifact sought by the Cult of the Dragon as part of their scheme to free Tiamat from her prison in Hell. For Aesar, there is a secondary (or is it primary?) mission – to locate one of the Enigma Stones that are part of the personal quest he is on.
The party has just discovered a secret door within a pit trap, but before pressing further into the dungeon, they decide to backtrack and have another look at some of the options they skipped. There are two portals, one in the Hall of Spheres, and one in the Chapel, as well as the secret door off the Hall of Spheres that remain unexplored. There also remains the mystery of the broken gargoyle.
Secret Doors to Secret Doors
Returning to the Hall of Spheres, the party begins to explore beyond the secret door, discovering a complex of hidden doors, each with a unique locking mechanism to decipher. As they do so, they are under constant attack by darts that sap their strength. Finally making it beyond the sixth such door, they emerge into a chamber and are attacked by a four armed gargoyle who wears a gem-stone encrusted collar.
The party defeats the gargoyle and retrieves its collar. Within the collar, Aesar finds a secret compartment with a slip of parchment inside that reads:
Look low and high for gold, to hear a tale untold. Take the archway at the end, and on your way you’ll wend.
Beneath the magical language is inscribed the letter “A”.
Three regular but locked doors lead off from the chamber, which Vorai decides to explore. Once he begins to do so, the darts begin firing in the rooms again. Beyond a second door, Vorai discovers a small chest full of what first appears to be salt, but which Grellosh identifies after as about 5000gp worth of diamond dust.
Going back in to explore the second set of doors, Vorai and Aesar discover another similar chest, but when they go to take this one, a trap is triggered and they fall 10 feet onto poisoned spikes. The chest falls open, spilling its sand-like contents everywhere and revealing it to be Dust of Sneezing and Choking.
The third and final door leads to a small room, with a mosaic similar to one near the front entrance, with a chest half sticking out of the wall. Disabling a trap and opening it reveals a rod sticking out from the bottom, similar to the one at the entrance (which triggered a pit trap) but white in colour. After taking some precautions, the party pulls the lever, causing piles of platinum coins to rain from the bottom, each of which is emblazoned with the familiar devil’s head of Acererak.
A Cruel Jest
Having finished exploring the complex of secret doors, the party returns to the Hall of Spheres, still trying to figure out the mystery of the gargoyles. While some of the party puzzles over it, Grellosh has a closer look at the misty archway at the end of the hall. This one features glowing stones likes the one in the entrance hall but these are olive (left), citron (right) and russet (top).
Deciding to be bold, Grellosh presses a stone and steps through – and finds himself standing at the entrance, looking down the length of the marked out red path. He is fine, but he is naked. A laugh echoes around him and a cackling voice declares: Thanks for the donation!
Returning to the Hall of Spheres, frustrated but not embarrassed, Grellosh advises against further use of the portal. The other members of the Irregulars offer some clothing and extra items to arm himself with.
A Mystery Partially Solved
Aesar realizes that the facets of the gemstones in the collar retrieved from the four-armed gargoyle match the impression in the broken off arm of the first such gargoyle they came across. Removing one from the collar, he places it in the hand, and watches as it stirs to life and crushes the gemstone to dust. Several more are placed in the hand with the same outcome. The party puzzles over whether this is linked to the diamond dust they discovered, but pouring the powder into the hand has no effect. Neither does carrying the broken arm back to the room where they found it.
With eight of the ten gemstones sacrificed, they put the puzzle aside and decide to explore the Chapel further.
Gender Bending in the Chapel of Evil
Returning to the chapel where they had earlier found a wealth of coins hidden in the pews, they examine the misty archway. This one has no glowing stones of any colour, but a skeletal body lies on the floor pointing toward it.
The first one through on this occasion is Ander, who steps through to find a small square room, empty except for a large mirror on the opposite wall (behind him the archway remains misty). The mirror reveals that while Ander has not lost all his items, his gender and alignment have been flipped.
Stepping back out, the rest of Fortune’s Irregulars are surprised to see a female Ander. Ander steps back through and discovers his gender and alignment switched back again and returns to report to the others. There is curiousity about the mirror, so Grellosh, Vorai and Ander step through. While worth a lot of gold, the mirror is too large to carry and there is nothing hidden behind it. Returning to the Chapel, Ander realizes that he has remained female. Grellosh is able to go back in and out and return as a male. It seems to be that a third change is permanent. Vorai remains female by choice, considering whether such a change is just the cover he needs to leave his old life behind.
The party returns to where they started this session, the door found within the wall of a pit trap. Stairs descend to the west, filled with air that is slightly cloudy. Saul takes the plunge down and discovers that it is Fear gas, which causes him to hightail it back through the dungeon until he regains his senses. Using a Gust of Wind spell to shield themselves, the party descends the stairs and finds a locked door.
Making their way through, a stairway leads down. The way is blocked by thick webbing that fills the area from the steps to the ceiling. Ander quickly dispatchs the webbing with some fire magic, avoiding the obstacle.
Lying on the floor at the bottom of the stairs is an iron mace inlaid with silver. South of this location is a modest-sized room that appears filled with rotting and decayed furniture. Grellosh picks up the mace, which begins to glow with light.
Entering the chamber, the party sees a solid gold couch on which reclines a skeletal form wearing an impressive looking crown. The creature rises at their approach and demands “Who dares to disturb the rest of Acererak? It is your death which you have found!“
To which Aesar replies, confused, that’s not what a demi-lich looks like, while Grellosh casts Holy Weapon on Vorai. The assassin goes to town on Acererak, quickly cutting the ‘demi-lich’ down in just moments with his opening salvo. The creature is revealed to be an advanced form of zombie. Inspecting the room, the party figures out that the mace found outside was enchanted to automatically hit the zombie and that the whole scene was staged. As they loot everything but the couch, the room begins to shake as the ceiling falls in. Escaping out of the room, the party regroups in the hall. On a hunch, Saul returns to the room and discovers it unaffected as the collapse was an illusion.
Back in the hall, the party decides to scout around the corner in the last unexplored region of the dungeon they are aware of. Before they go, they use a Locate Object spell on Grellosh‘s Belt of Giant Strength and sense its presence somewhere in the opposite direction.
Around the corner is the longest corridor yet, untrapped until they arrive at a door. The thick wooden door is heavily bound with iron bands, and there are several locks keeping it shut. Sounds emanate from the other side, far-off music and happy singing, which the party is immediately suspicious of. The door proves impossible to open and they are forced to smash their way through.
Entering the corridor on the other side, it proves a trap, with the entire floor tilting to dump the unsuspecting into a pool of hot magma. The quick wits of the party avoid calamity, with only Aesar being in danger but saved by a Levitation spell.
A Mystery Finally Solved
Regrouping, the party decides to place the remaining gemstones from the collar into the gargoyle’s hand. It crushes them, and after the tenth gem is ground to powder, the gem-stone inlay in its hand disappears and a smooth palm appears in its place. Oberon says he sees something invisible in its hand, and Aesar tries to grab it, but it proves a slip and Oberon must chase it down. It is revealed to be a Gem of True Seeing covered in an invisible film that is wiped off.
The magic gem proves the key to further progress, as a nearby secret door can only be seen through this device. Beyond the door they find an L-shaped hallway that leads to a door.
The party goes back through the dungeon to see if the Gem reveals any further secrets.
They find no other secret doors, but back in the chapel, the party investigates the altar for the first time, examining it through the Gem of True Seeing. They discover that it contains a magical trap and something of great power within. Disabling the trap, they open the altar to reveal a Talisman of the Sphere.
Mummy Preparation Chamber
The room the party enters if packed full of old items, shelves line the walls and there are a number of flat slab tables piled with old pottery. There are also three large vats. One of the vats is revealed to contain a large Ochre Jelly but otherwise the room is uneventful. Aesar finds in a drawer a book about mummification procedures he suspects might have once belonged to Acererak.
A hallway leads off from this chamber and that is where the party heads next. A descending staircase ends in a corridor heading east, where they come across a ten-foot deep empty pit completely filling the passageway and extends so far as to make jumping across it impossible. Using rope to descend to the bottom of the pit, the party starts making their way carefully across the spikes, when nearing the other side a trap is tripped and the spikes begin to thrust upward.
Finally getting across the pit, the party is feeling pretty worn out and considers taking a long rest to recuperate before pressing onward.