Children of Netherhearth
The restless tomb
It is one week after the ratkin attack and the rebuilding effort continues. You have been mostly involved in hunting ratkin in the tunnels, but over the last couple of days there have been few sightings – it seems they have for the most part been driven off.
Your experiences over the last couple of weeks have had a noticeable impact on your powers. After the stress and adversity faded, your surging powers settled down somewhat, but their default resting level is now noticeably more powerful, and you have all mastered some new tricks that you could previously only perform unreliably and outside of combat.
During this time you also discussed your plans as a group. It was decided that when you had a chance, you would ask Viceroy Quill how – or if – he would like you to proceed with the investigation into the death of his wife and son, as well as querying him on the possibility of investigating the temple in the humid cavern. At some point you are also resolved to escort Stanley back to the xilix tomb to decipher the script there. Hopefully your investigations will give you some information about how to get to the surface world. If they do, you will likely then head there to try to find a way to repair the Skystone.
That evening, the three of you were summoned to a meeting with Viceroy Quill. You learned that Viceroy Edward’s niece – a woman called Matilde – had gone to pay her respects in his tomb and hadn’t returned. When her young son, Jerub, went to find her, he felt an overwhelming sense of “wrongness” outside the tomb entrance and ran to get help. Viceroy Quill ordered the three of you to investigate.
During your meeting with the viceroy, Grindle used her Ritual of Psychic Senses on Jerub, but detected no magic. She also surreptitiously scanned the viceroy’s room. In a securely locked stone chest she detected some simple enchantments, which she recognised as the viceroy’s small supply of precious luminen and Netherhearth’s lightrod used at council meetings. She also recognised the magical signature of the xilix sceptre within the chest.
The viceroy’s chains of office also had an enchantment on them of surprising complexity. It is well known that the chains are enchanted, but even the most capable priests of Erydes throughout Netherhearth’s history have been unable to deduce the enchantment’s exact purpose. What Grindle could initially discern matched what you’ve all been told at one time or another: there are many latent threads of magic that seem to be designed to activate some other unknown artifice; there are other enchantments too complex for their purpose to be guessed at; there seems to be some link between the chains and the iron portal to the sunlit world, but the relationship is unclear (the chains seem keyed to recognise when they are in close proximity to the portal); and there seems to be no link between the chains and the Skystone.
Grindle’s scrutiny did also reveal something of which you hadn’t been told. Although the chains didn’t appear to have any psychic influence over the wearer (as Grindle suspected they might), in searching for that specifically she did notice that the chains appeared to somehow monitor the viceroy physically, as there were very subtle threads pulsing in unison with his heartbeat and respiration.
You left the White Tower and headed to the tomb of the viceroys. En route you saw the old shepherd, Olaf, having trouble with his sheep who were behaving oddly. You helped him out and fetched some children from Deepvale before continuing to the tomb entrance.
Near the tomb entrance and inside the tomb itself, you experienced disturbing phenomenon: a feeling of wrongness, grass coiling around your feet, large numbers of insects congregating on the back wall of the cave, visions of toothy maws and bloody eyes appearing briefly on patches of scrim, and a buzzing at the back of your minds that was simultaneously maddening, terrifying and pleasurable.
You passed by the tombs of the viceroys and up to the back of the cavern where you saw Matilde on her knees facing the wall where the insects swarmed. As you approached, a strange hue washed over her skin; an unsettling multicoloured hue like oil spilled in water. When you put your hand on her shoulder, she turned revealing an eyeless face … eyeless, that is, except for the bloody eyeballs sitting in the oversized toothy maw that opened sickeningly in the side of her head.
Then abruptly she was standing, as though time no longer governed her movement. Nearby the insects started swarming towards you across the floor, while gaping maws appeared once more in scrim patches – this time not disappearing again – and started slithering and teleporting towards you, all the while keening a sanity-threatening tune. You managed to smash a couple of the maws, while Matilde flailed clumsily at Varian, the blows glancing off his chitinous head, before she abruptly teleported between Varian and Grindle, her arms and body distending and sprouting ghastly eyes and jagged teeth.