Darnorth led the charge up the pyramid steps, emerging on the flat top in time to hear the sound of stone scraping on stone on the far side of a large alter. The dwarf rushed around to find a round stone slab with an iron handle, which he opened while the rest of the party caught up. A narrow spiral staircase descended into the heart of the pyramid, and the party rushed down to catch their fleeing foe. Passing through one room without pause, they descended to the bottom of the stairs into another room. Here they found two bugbears, who rushed to block the bottom of the stairs and proceeded to jab at Darnorth with their spears. With a mighty effort, the dwarf pushed one bugbear back, allowing more of the party to descend and engage. Which was good, because now a squad of bullywugs leapt out of the darkness behind them, spears flashing. The three sided melee soon added a fourth combatant, as another band of bullywugs jumped out from behind a shimmering curtain across one end of the room. The party surged from one threat to the other until all their foes were slain. During a lull in the action, Riley peaked behind the curtain to see a yg-ti fleeing down another set of stairs; it would seem one of their foes was able to escape after all.
With their slain foes lying in blood and gore on the floor, the party bandaged their wounds and started down the stairs after the yg-ti. Darnorth led the way into a corridor, but behind him Riley felt a stone sift beneath his feet. Once again there was the sound of stone scraping on stone, this time from the darkness ahead. Darnorth and Riley dropped to the ground while Aratheas, Gurruk and Vorn fled back up the stairs. But nothing emerged from the darkness, so the party reunited and head down the corridor. After about 50’, they came to a dead end. Assuming there must be another way, they started looking around. The walls were adorned with bas-reliefs of giant serpents and serpent men slaughtering and sacrificing humans. While searching, Darnorth noticed one great serpent stood out more than the rest. He pulled on it (after first poking at its eyes) and the left wall pivoted open, reveling a narrow hallway running parallel with the one they were currently in. It was only 30’ long, and at the end was an obvious handle in the wall. This opened another door back into the corridor they started in, on the other side of the blockage. Moving on again, they found the corridor soon narrowed to 5’ wide and then broke into a huge cylindrical chamber. Up and down it disappeared into darkness, while ahead the corridor continued as a narrow stone bridge. Sensing a trap but determined to push on, they stepped onto the bridge and were immediately beset by a flock of strange creatures; flying winged snakes with human-like arms. In a flurry of bites and poisonous spits they fell on the party, who with flashing blades slew half before the remaining creatures flew back into the darkness below. And the party rushed on across the bridge before any more emerged from the gloom, finding themselves in another narrow corridor, then a room.
This somewhat oddly shaped room had lit torches in wall sconces, and was decorated with a large number of tapestries or banners. Close examination by Gurruk showed these were made of treated snakeskin. A single door exited the room, to a corridor and a short set of stairs. At the bottom of these was an even stranger room. Instead of the usual grey and red stone blocks seen so far, this room had walls, ceiling and floor covered in a strange black/grey rubbery material. A single door covered in the same material was located to the east, and another corridor exited to the north.. As Darnorth led the party in the door`s direction, the floor on which he stepped sank and there was an immediate hissing sound. A green/yellow gas could be seen entering the room from the corners. The party immediately turned about and headed back up the stairs and into the previous room. There they waited for a short while before Darnorth opened the door again. However, gas could still be seen filling the room at the bottom of the stairs. Darnorth and Riley pulled down a few tapestries and descended the stairs a bit, planning to use the snakeskin to fan away the gas. All that did, however, was expose them both to the gas as it was stirred up. Darnorth was fine, but Riley became paralyzed and had to be pulled back up the stairs by the redoubtable dwarf. Another half hour of waiting and Riley started to move, and the gas started to dissipate. Heading cautiously down again, the party avoided the pressure plate this time and headed again for the door. Halfway there, a loud klaxon alarm sounded and echoed throughout the dungeon. When nothing seemed to arrive in answer to the alarm, they finally reached the padded door. Opening it, they found a simple 10x10’ room. In a niche by the door stood a plain hourglass. After a little brainstorming, Riley decided it must be a safe room from the gas, and the hourglass was a timer to tell when the gas dissipated. Darnorth, on the other hand, simply pocketed the hourglass.
Heading deeper in their search for Kern and Erijay, they encountered a small room with a rack of glaives on one wall. The next chamber was long and narrow, and crowded with alcoves containing a series of statues of yg-ti, all carved of black stone. Darnorth decided to poke at the eyes of the middle statute on the right. Nothing happened, but he did notice the statue was hollow. Taking a swing at the body, he broke open the thin shell and out poured a pile of strange silver coins and a handful of gems. The gems were scooped up quickly, and few coins taken as souvenirs. The rest was left for now as it would only be a burden during their search. Checking the other statues on the way (which all proved solid), they were surprised when two live yg-ti steped out of the shadows of the last two alcoves. Both had scaly skin and snakes in place of arms, and with a few magical words once more had the party running in fear. Except the mage Aratheas who resisted and stood her ground. Her response was to try dispelling the, but she could not muster the power to negate it. Left to face the serpent men alone, she soon fell dead, victim of their biting arms.
Meanwhile, the rest ran in fear for some time, making it almost back to the pyramid before successfully shaking off the effect. Turning back to face the serpent men once more, they hurried through the twice travelled halls, but were stopped cold at the stairs out of the rubber room by a band of bullywugs. These started leaping down the stairs in pairs, doing great damage with their spears before the party was able to force their way up and defeat them in detail. Pausing just long enough to wipe blood off weapons (and bind more wounds), they pushed again into the hall of statues. They saw the treasure had been cleared away and Aratheas gone (although a pool of fresh blood was found on the floor where she last stood). When a quick check proved the yg-ti were gone, the party moved down a sloped corridor to another door. Darnorth pulled it open, and on the other aide was a room lit by four torches on tall polls. A small door at the other end was flanked by two other poles, but on these sat a pair of golden cobra heads, each with gems for eyes. On the floor was a mosaic showing an unholy symbol of Yg. Cautious moving around the pattern on the floor, the party boldly walked up to the cobra heads and lifted them off their poles. And from behind came a ‘clicking’ sound as the wall opened up and fired a volley of spears into their backs. Thankfully none were slain, and just Vorn and Gurruk impaled.
Out through the door, they found themselves back in a 5’ wide corridor, which once more led onto a narrow bridge through the cylindrical room. Apparently far below the first bridge as they couldn’t see it within the range of their light. Rushing across the chasm in case the winged snakes came back, they burst into a room on the other side. At the far end they could see a pit or hole of some kind, surrounded by a narrow catwalk. At each end of the catwalk stood a bullywug, who turned to face the party.
To be continued …