Having found a secret door to the west which seemed like it would open into the room beyond the as yet unraised portcullis, the party hatched a clever plan: half the group would attack through the secret door while the other half would raise and then hold the portcullis corridor.
After making their preparations, the group attacked simultaneously. As Elmo opened the secret door, Lion activated the portcullis. Things did not go to plan. While Elmo opened the secret door without any problems to reveal a tomb with four intact sarcophagi, the portcullis began to rise very slowly. As the portcullis inched slowly upwards, four undead monstrosities—hobgoblins wearing rusty chain armour, carrying battleaxes and wrapped in bandages emerged from their final resting places.
Battle was joined. As Lion, Dimble and Polumya cast bolts and spells through the portcullis at the undead that could not reach them, Elmo was hard-pressed to hold the secret door against the two shambling horrors that assailed him. Only with Theoden's inspiration and Helmia's healing did the half-orc withstand their assault.
By the time the two undead were killed in the portcullis corridor, things had grown grim at the secret door. As Helmia retreated from helping the beset barbarian, she was cut down by a lucky swipe from a battleaxe. Only Polumya's timely intervention saved her life. Still, this was the undead's last success, and shortly, the last creature had fallen before a barrage of magical missiles hurled—in desperation—by Dimble as the creature had taken an incredible (almost unbelievable) amount of punishment before being finally destroyed.
By now, the party's resources were depleted. What magical healing existed was quickly used to cure the worst of the group's wounds. Clearly, rest was called for before the heroes assaulted the last unexplored chamber--the chapel to the south.
Returning to the tomb above the hidden shrine, the party rested overnight (but not before Dimble had carefully checked to make sure no owlbears were lurking in the vicinity.)
The next morning, refreshed and ready for the final challenge, the group descended the hidden stairs again and began plotting their assault. Getting through the portcullis seemed tricky, and most of the heroes were convinced the bronze statue in the chamber would animate. Thus, Dimble--under Lion's supervision--used his magical powers of telekinesis to tie up the statue's legs with a stout rope. With this precaution taken, Elmo tried to whack the lever on the east wall, assuming that this would raise the portcullis. This proved rather tricky as the half-orc could not see what he was doing. Unfortunately, his whacking of the lever only resulted in waking the shrine's guardians—two sentient axes—that rose up from their places on the shrine's twin altars.
One axe flashed through the bars of the portcullis and slashed poor Dimble badly. The gnome staggered back, almost mortally injured. The other axe—at least initially—failed to slip through the arrow slit to get at Elmo. Battle was again joined! The axes seemed indifferent to Theoden's maniac mocking and went about their business of slaying the interlopers. However, the party had numbers on their side. Some well-placed blows and well-cast minor magics again proved effective, and in short order, the two animate axes were destroyed.
An orgy of looting then ensued, the party claiming an oversized silver ceremonial goblet and a beaten silver plate from the two altars. Unfortunately, Lion managed to shatter the two black onyxs that served as the bronze statue's eyes, thus rendering them almost valueless.
With the axes destroyed and the shrine looted it appeared that the party had exhausted all avenues of adventure offered by the shrine. Thus, they fell to discussing their next plan; they had several courses of action:
- Return to Dulwich and return Taisto's remains to his family.
- Investigate the statue-fringed cave opening that lay across the valley.
- Retrieve the bones of the ghostly woman and bury them in the forest as she had requested.
- Slay the monstrously large frog lurking in the reeds by the muddy pool.
- Wait for the fully grown owlbear to return and slay it.
No one seemed particularly keen on the last option—a fully grown homicidally angry owlbear was a daunting proposition—so the heroes carefully weighed their other options...
This post is a session summary from my weekly 5e D&D Edgelands of Darkness campaignset in the Duchy of Ashlar.