The door’s opening pummeled them with a frostbitten wave of cold. The surrounding temperature dropped significantly; they could feel it in their bones (-2 check to all skills and attack rolls). A jagged hallway continued forward for a short distance before splitting left and right. The brave men chose left first.
A short path leds you to another heavy door. Getting close to it revealed a pungent stench as they notice it was closed shut. It did not have a locking mechanism however.
Fenix carefully opened the door to reveal an even darker room. The hum of maggots and flies became audible while the stench became almost palpable. Skeletons, fresher corpses, and separated pieces of the bodies lined a narrow room. They all seemed to be of women.
Nothing other than these bare bodies could be seen upon the floor until they looked upon the opposite wall. There were words, crudely, but almost ritually written in blood upon it. They could recognize it as abyssal. Fenix’s knowledge of Infernal allowed him to translate it, but he had to endure the disturbing surroundings for minutes that seemed an eternity.
“Gda nleeg ba gnootb me geam goomga eaen leng,” he read, “The blood we drink so does taste our lord.”
It was all they could muster. They had to continue.
They backtracked the way they came. The cave winded as they passed the door they had entered from. It widened and split left and right again. However, the right seemed to continue onward as the left already revealed another door.
A heavy, unlocked door just as before.
They could hear three voices, chanting in a synchronized whisper. Keeping his place at the front, Fenix opened the door with confidence. Within was a room only lit by a blue aura emanating from the ground. Three figures stood beside the circular source, entranced in their speech. They did not notice the opening of the door, but Fenix instantly began to feel tired…drained.
Kraiven knew the figures were thoroughly preoccupied and made child’s play of slipping through the door himself, a shadow to them. The fatigue and dread of what felt like hollow ground washed over him.
Johann wasted no time. He wanted to avoid whatever now ailed his allies, and sent a ball of flame between the figures, setting two completely ablaze. Fenix rushed toward the fiery blaze to crack the skull of a figure whose back was still to him. It turned the man around to reveal a robed and well-armored creature of glowing green eyes. A Deathpriest of Orcus. The assassin saw it as well and slid beside one of the Deathpriest’s companions for a stab. He revealed them as Crimson Acolytes.
The Acolytes proved slippery, shifting as they pleased and swiping with heavy scythes. The Deathpriest was more resilient, backing up for only a moment to release a pillar of sickly black fire from his hands. It grazed by the Warlord, reminding him of his own wounds. He called upon his power for newfound strength…but could only muster up a fraction of his potential. The Necrotic Ground beneath drained him of the sweet sensation, leaving him only a taste.
It made no difference. The darkspawn and worshippers of Orcus fell to fire, blade, and hammer leaving the company to take away their intimidating, but well crafted armor and weaponry. It also seemed they were performing a ritual. The scroll found amidst their bodies read “Endure Elements”. They decided to perform it atop the pulsating blue circle on the ground. The ritual seemed to allow them to fight past the bitter cold, releasing the pain from their bone to continue normally…but the circle amplified it further. The cold was a pleasure. They embraced it. It made them stronger.
The divine evil of the situation became clearer and the party continued on past the door to the right path. About to turn a corner, they heard two Orcs’ muffled shouting.
Voice 1: “Oi, it’s yo’ fault! If you didn’t bloody lose the note, we would be able to get in the room! Damn bars could be in any order!”
Voice 2: “I ain’t mean to! I was just washing me knives, they was stained with human blood. She screamed like banshee though, haha!”
Voice 1: “HAHA – that she did, but yo still an idiot. And be careful before you slip and crack your dumb head!
As they turned the corner they revealed a long, ten-foot-wide passage. Two orcs stood at the very end of it, leaning on opposite walls. They continued to bicker normally. Kraiven glided ahead, bathing in the darkness of the narrow passage. He made it to the middle of the hall and placed his last step upon a patch of ice with a slight slip. The hallway was covered in it. No matter, he pulled out his handcrossbow and placed an accurate shot through the head of one of the Orcs – killing it instantly. The other cried only have a roar before the fire mage made dust of him.
A handful of shouts answered from the next room as more Orcs poured into the hall. Fenix power-slid deftly through the ice to stand beside one and bludgeon it with his mace. Dead. He could see the next area now, circular and open with a larger Orc than they had seen so far stood at its center, rushing toward the party. Two leaner ones ahead shut a crude, spiked door to block further passage.
They fought on making festering, sliced, and burned corpses of the Orcs. The large Bloodrager stood last, hitting a wall accidentally to allow water to freeze beneath him. The ice hindered no one as the party surrounded him. A final blast from Johann melted his surrounding ice and set the Bloodrager up for a back-stabbing execution.
They forced the heavy door aside and continued their onslaught.
The cave went on and took a sharp turn left. The path then opened up to reveal a small pond of still, dark, icy water. The area just felt…strange. They could not quite put their finger on it. The path also still continued in a straight line much, much further and became dark before they could see an end.
Remembering the the argument between the Orcs, Fenix inspected the water and its surroundings. The water was slush, tainted with blood. The rocks beside however revealed a piece of flattened parchment. It was scribbled upon with clumsy hands. Five pillars with differing numbers of circles beneath them. The others stood to his right as they passed the opposite wall, ready to continue through the long tunnel.
Blood appeared on the wall beside them that drew itself into a large teardrop, halting them. This must have been what they were sensing. Their knowledge of the arcane told them the ritualistic blood drop of Orcus awaited the right words. They were unsure what they could say.
Fenix uttered, “The blood we drink so does that our lord.”
Nothing happened, but they could all feel he was close. Johann said the end seemed wrong…there was something about tasting.
Fenix tried again – “The blood we drink so does taste our lord.”
The wall dissolved. Behind it was a room locked away by five thick, metal bars. They were far too close together to be squeezed by. They rested a hand upon a bar…and watched it glow a brilliant white resultantly. In fact, each one glowed when touched, but when all five were turned on, they turned right back off.
They tried different orders of activation, even tapping multiple times. They referenced the parchment, finally flipping it upside down to feel they now had it in the right orientation, but their perception of the writing still proved incorrect. They allowed themselves time to study it further.
“The drawn bars are not necessarily the bars we see,” Johann figured, “they are just an order of operations. Steps.”
“I agree,” replied Kraiven. “The circles beneath each column likely indicate a bar itself.”
It clicked. They touched them in the outlined order. The first, the third, the fifth, the second, and last the fourth. They each glowed as before, but then dissolved to allow them access. The room was small and seemingly only used for hidden storage as they found a large chest in the corner. It was full of the Orcs’ spoils from murder and pillaging.
1. Collar of Recovery (AV pg 151)
2. Bloodthirst Bracers (AV pg 114)
3. Burning Gauntlets (AV pg 132)
4. Gloves of Agility (AV pg 134)
5. Ironskin Belt (PH1 pg 253)
6. Bag of Holding
7. 500 gold
They took their spoils and resumed down the final, lengthy tunnel. The remainder of the cave continued straight for several minutes until they finally reached an end. The small opening led into a gargantuan cavern, round and high. Icicles the size of trees hanged from the top as well as jutted up from the ground like frozen stalagmites. They refracted the sunlight entering from an opening seemingly far ahead…but they could see nothing beyond the towers of ice. Their breath smoked before their mouths. It was colder. They could feel the tingling in their bones, but it only strengthened their grasps.
Their first steps softly pressed upon snow, freshly fallen and undisturbed somehow beneath a ceiling of stone. They could hear the idle grunts, shouts, and labored breathing of orcs. They fought amongst themselves and argued over frivolous things. They sounded in great number.
And then a voice boomed that only one of them could recognize.
“Silence all of you! We finally have what we need. Now it is time for you to see just how capable our Lord is.” He began an infernal prayer of death, calling for blood and reanimation. His words were babbled, mixing tongues and dialects, slowly lowering in pitch. He spoke of lore and myth…and Mojadiin. A demon known only of children’s stories.
As they approached the frozen ledge about fifteen feet high, they revealed a more open area. A small body of frigid water sat below a bridge in its middle. On the far end, Orcs sat in a corner while three others gawked at the man speaking. Tall, bulky, with stringy black hair, Wilhelm Van Der Pol, brother of Johann Van Der Pol, stood beside a glowing circle in the ground. The corpse of a young lady lay in its center as it began to convulse and twitch.
He was reanimating her in the name of Orcus.