Original game date: December 14, 2019
The game resumes with the party split, while Grellosh, Ander, Saul and Dawnstalker remained sealed below in the Wondrous Foyer, contemplating how to open the Valves of Mithral, Aesar and Vorai have been stripped of their belongings and teleported back to the beginning of the dungeon. Alas for them they also find themselves amongst rival forces led by Maximillian de Rigueur.
Among the Opposition
Outnumbered and unarmed, Vorai and Aesar allow themselves to be captured and led back to Max‘s camp just outside the entrance to the Tomb of Horrors. Max is accompanied by the drow gunslinger Vosz Draken and his mechanical servant Aegis IV, as well as the elf cleric of Corellon Larethian Valorna Daesa, a half-orc fighter named Toureg, a large shirtless man with skin mottled with pale blue named Bligdenvald, a strapping barbarian woman with face tatoos named Vanya, and a local company of dwarf miners and mercenaries they have hired as guides. They appear to have climbed down into the Vale of Arnoch from above. A banner outside Max’s tent proclaims the group The Glorious Vanguard.
Max offers clothing and furs to keep Aesar and Vorai warm against the winter’s cold while he plays considerate host. When questioned about Vosz’s presence despite having claimed a falling out when last he spoke to Aesar, Max says that it has taken a lot to forgive the drow elf for shooting Roark Kincaid, but they have been friends along time and Vosz has his uses when it comes to treasure hunting. Vosz did what he did because he thought it was what Max would want. He bristles at the suggestion that Aesar cares more about Roark than he did, who was his apprentice for so many years, when Aesar knew him only a matter of months.
Switching to the matter at hand, Max says he has come for only one thing – the Enigma Stone. He cares not if Fortune’s Irregulars wants the glory of retrieving the Draakhorn. He also offers up any other treasure that is contained in the final trove. He removes an Enigma Stone from a Bag of Holding, this one displaying a creature that Aesar recognizes as a Flail Snail and remarks that at the end of the day, Aesar will still have four stones to his two, and that he has no doubt that this is just the beginning of a long and mutually beneficial relationship between he and Aesar. He betrays some ignorance of the wider story of the stones, the quest and the Heart Room, and seems to think Aesar is part of a secret society and that ultimately the stone unlocks the greatest treasure of the ages.
The deal sounds good but there is a catch, Vorai will need to remain behind as a hostage as Aesar leads Max and two of his team through the dungeon to make sure they pull no tricks.
Meanwhile Down Below
Down in the Wondrous Foyer, having just watched two of their compatriots disappear after turning the gold key in the lock, the remaining members of Fortune’s Irregulars take stock of their situation. While both keys reappear, as do the crown and scepter, there is no other trace of their friends. Investigating the large adamantine door through which they entered the Pillared Throne Room, they realize there is no way out. They decide to make a virtue of necessity and take a rest while they hope their companions are still alive and making their way back to them.
A Clever Ruse?
Aesar and Vorai reluctantly agree to Max‘s deal. While Vorai is watched, he is not restrained while Max, Aesar, Valorna and Vanya, as well as one of the dwarf mercenaries enter the Tomb of Horrors.
Aesar leads them as far as the Great Hall of Spheres but instead of continuing onward he passes through the portal at the end of the hall that Grellosh previously passed through. He and his companions find themselves back at the start of the dungeon, stripped of all belongings. Max is furious and demands to know what Aesar is playing at.
Vorai quickly approaches and casts Darkness down on the small group, adding further confusion as he and Aesar try to make a break for it.
Max orders his men to avoid killing anyone as a melee ensues. An embarassed Valorna breaks for her tent to re-clothe herself. Bligdenvald shows himself to possess magical talent and uses his staff to bring up a Wall of Ice to seal off the portal at the end of the entrance hall, forcing Vorai to stop and break his way through. Toureg, despite being well-armed, attempt to grapple his opponents and when forced into melee with Vorai tosses him a dagger after claiming he will not fight an unarmed man.
Despite their best efforts, neither Vorai or Aesar are able to make it away safely and are retaken by the Glorious Vanguard. Max is angry but still seems set on coming to an arrangement.
The False Treasure Room
After a short rest, some of the remaining Irregulars down below decide to have another look at the Valves of Mithral and try pressing the golden cap of the scepter into the lock. This proves to be the key and the doors swing open.
The imposing chamber on the other side has a silvered ceiling, just as the foyer has, so it is brightly illuminated by the reflected light. The walls are of ivory with gold inlaid. The floor is polished agate. In each corner stands a statue of black iron, easily nine feet tall, each bearing an impressive and deadly looking weapon. Near the centre of the room is a large bronze urn filigreed in gold. A thin stream of smoke issues from a tiny vent in its brass stopper. On the southern wall stands a granite sarcophagus that appears to be damaged. Flanking the sarcophagus are two large iron chests. Arrayed before the chests are several piles of treasure and belonging – Grellosh recognizes his stuff, as well as piles with items belonging to Aesar and Vorai respectively. There are also four additional piles with items belonging to others, and they recognize Max‘s sword and Valorna‘s hammer from when they fought the white dragons together.
A New Deal is Struck
With Aesar insisting that Vorai not be left behind, Max agrees but the entire Glorious Vanguard is now coming with him, and Aesar and Vorai will be bound and leashed to members of his group to make sure they don’t take off. As for the treasure, he will now have to see what is contained below before he agrees to let Fortune’s Irregulars have it all except the Enigma Stone. The party then begins making their way through the Tomb.
Down in the Treasure Room, Grellosh re-equips himself while Saul looks through the piles of loot, dumping out one of several Bags of Holding and spilling a large supply of potions out across the floor and breaking several.
The two groups come together as the Vanguard enter the Pillared Throne Room and approach the Wondrous Foyer. The scene is tense as Grellosh negotiates with Max, offering the Vanguard’s belongings once Vorai and Aesar are released and demanding first inspection of the Treasure Room. Max readily agrees, pointing out that he sees no Draakhorn and explaining that Acererak often employs multiple false endings in his dungeons. The deal is struck but complicated when Saul disturbs the smoking urn just as Max, Vanya and Valorna approach with Vorai and Aesar being ushered up after them.
From the urn erupts a large Fire Elemental Myrmidon, who speaks in a primordial language that only Saul can understand. It proclaims itself Karz, who has slumbered for too long and seems eager for a fight at long last.
As both parties engage the creature, Saul attempts to engage it in conversation and eventually offering to free it from its service.
After the fight is won and all parties reconnected with their belongings, the room is explored further. The sarcophagus contains a broken Staff of the Magi and the chests contain 10,000 gemstones and 10,000 gold pieces respectively. By moving one of the large statues, they discover a secret passage in the floor leading to anohter small tunnel system.
The Crypt of the Demilich
Working together, Aesar, Vorai, Max and Vosz are able to find the secret doors and make proper use of the keys to locate the final treasure room. As they enter, a hooded figure with a face masked by mist briefly appears over Aesar’s shoulder warning him that none should touch the skull, you are not yet ready for that fight.
Within the treasure room, Max takes possession of the Enigma Stone, this one showing a hare with a horn on its head. He also claims the Rings of the Twinned Soul, modified Rings of Protection that bond the two wearers together, for he and Valorna. He then stays true to his word and he and the Glorious Vanguard depart.
Left to their own devices, Fortune’s Irregulars inspects the remainder of the treasure room’s holdings. There is one trap, a Glyph of Death on a slender box, that is tripped when Ander goes to cast Identify on it. It explodes with necrotic energy, killing Ander instantly and very nearly finishing off the rest.
Within the box is a book bound in white calf-skin leather and worked in gold – The Book of Exhalted Deeds.
Other treasures identified and collected:
The Draakhorn. A massive horn suspended by chains between two stone pillars. Carved extensively in draconic runes.
+3 Shield of Glamour. A rather ordinary looking iron strapped wood shield, with the scars of many battles. The wood currently appears a deep oak, and the metal is adamantine but its appearance can be changed at the will of the bearer.
On a pedestal and veiled by a silk covering that is subtly stitched with skulls – Tela’Nîs Vâl (Moonblade, +1 Longsword, Finesse property. If fully bonded then: it becomes a +3 longsword, +2 Dexterity, Elfshadow).
Periapt of Proof Against Poison. A delicate silver chain with a large brilliant-cut dark green gem pendant is draped upon the shoulders of the ivory bust of a beautiful but unnerving woman.
Ioun Stone – Absorption. Pale lavender gemstone, egg-shaped, lies on a deep purple cushion.
Staff of Power. A long metal staff, flared at the top, is suspended on a stand crafted of ebony wood.
Two large metal chests, one contains 1000 platinum and the other one contains 1000 gemstones (500 worth 100gp each, and 500 worth 50gp each).