Session 48 – Svades Maroul

The heroes rest for the night, and in the morning set off for the Gloomdeeps. According to the map they obtained at the library, the entrance lies two days hard ride to the northeast of the city. Phaean again summons ghostly steeds for the party, and they are able to make the trip in under a day. 

A small but deep crack in a low cliffside leads to a series of caves. With careful exploration, the party enters the mapped area within an hour or two at the point marked “To the Surface”.

The group carefully makes their way deeper into the caves, and begin to hear several guttural voices chanting, “Turog! Turog! Turog!” The walls and stalagmites of the cave system glow with phosphorescent fungi as a passage opens into an enormous cavern. The ancient corpse of a monstrous wormlike beast with lavender scales stretches across the ground. Four large, one-eyed humanoids circle the corpse, chanting the name of the Crawling God, Turog. A 10-foot-long wooden chest with black iron fittings rests against the southeast cavern wall. Combat ensues, and the party then notices an enormous wormlike creature crawling across the ceiling of the chamber. After a short but bloody battle, the heroes slay the Cyclops cultists and the huge Carrion Crawler they had mistaken for Turog. Within the chest, the party finds a large iron key, which radiates strong magic.

The party takes a short rest and moves on deeper into the caves. 

They eventually reach another large cavern, lit with flaring torchlight which reveals a smooth wall of worked stone set with iron double doors to the south. Two pools of water in the cavern floor are surrounded by four statues—a pair of ancient kings standing along the west wall, and two gargoyles crouched on basalt pillars to the east. The area around the doors seems oddly shadowed, darker than it should be considering the bright light.

Etched above the doors is a cracked and stained phrase, covered in moss and written in Draconic:

Beyond these doors lies not treasure but disaster.
To breach this portal is to invite the doom of a bloody and gruesome death.
Unholy, unholy, unholy is The Tomb of [Dreams].

The party notices that the last word, “Maroul”, actually has a chunk missing from the wall. It lies on the ground nearby, and when it is replaced, the word reads not “Dreams” but “Horrors”. Faced with the entrance to the legendary Tomb of Horrors, they decide to rest for the night before opening the doors.

After waking and preparing themselves, the group uses the recovered magic key to open the great black doors and enters the tomb. They find themselves in a long, empty stone hallway which leads off into darkness, and the doors close softly behind them. 

The party advances for a while – for how long seems hard to say – but eventually the hall collapses into a great round chasm. A steady outpouring of black sludge flows over the edge from great cracks in the walls and ceiling. A greater torrent jets out from faults in the rough rock of the chasm, falling as the hissing curtain of a black waterfall into the depths of the “well”.

Rough ledges jut out from the well’s walls as the rain falls 70 feet to fill a wide pool below. Above the surface of the pool, a circular slab of white stone is set with four trapdoors, each one bearing a different rendition of the symbol of the Sleeper’s Eye (closed, slightly open, half open, fully awake). There is some discussion of the best method to climb down, when it is noticed that the “rain” seems both damaging and sentient in some way, twisting to lash at and pull anyone moving into the chasm.

Pype tests his luck by thrusting his arm fully outwards, and is pulled violently out into space. He falls, making and missing several attempts to grab one of the ledges on his way down, and lands gracelessly in the black pool far below. The rest of the party has similar difficulty navigating down the well, suffering great amounts of both necrotic and falling damage.

Meanwhile, Pype and those who join him attempt to open each of the trapdoors in turn, and find that all seem to be decoys – and trapped. Alternately unleashing fireballs, acid mist, poisonous gas, or necrotic clouds, none of them turn out to be true doors.

After some amount of consternation, the heroes search the rest of the well, and locate a passageway set twenty feel up the wall behind the black waterfall. They each manage to swing, climb, or jump their way into the hidden passage, and take a short rest to recover.