Monday, 13 May 2019

THE CRYSTAL SEAS... EPISODE 8: SUNKEN CITADEL

The following content borrows heavily from the 5e update for The Sunless Citadel, available in Tales from the Yawning Portal. There will be spoilers, although the module has been adapted for our Crystal Seas Sandbox. If you intend to play The Sunless Citadel, please look away now!


10th Sositi


The party were woken by their new guide, Zadu, before dawn had broken. Making their way to the south bank of the lake at Okraha, they found their mounts as they'd left them: tethered to individual posts with a healthy supply of grasses and seeds. Between the mounts, the servants of Belphegor slumbered in black heaps, apparently oblivious to the powerful stench of animals and their dung.

By the time the sun had risen, the party were already marching southward across the desert. Ursula explained the purpose of their journey: to explore the sunken citadel, a temple complex located in the Blue Mountains of the Ezran oasis. Apparently it dated back to the age of the Aniasi - the elven civilisation preceding the humans of the southern continent. Zadu knew his way their as he had already led Dr. Maus and his party back from there previously. Apparently, a third party had already ventured there, and Maus had been scheduled to rendez-vous with them, although details were sketchy...
Chanel in the Desert of Tears
Throughout the day, Zadu would occasionally scamper over dunes tyo scout ahead, or bid them remain still when an unusually large silhouette would appear in the clear sky, but the day otherwise passed uneventfully. At night, Zadu would prepare camp, and secured it with Kuriakos' assistance. 

11th Sositi

Horace and Analica continued their journey to the Blue Mountains through the Desert of Tears, towards the Sunken Citadel. Ursula was beginning to look a little pink, in spite of her best efforts to keep the sun off her skin. At night, Bolg snored loudly.

12th Sositi 

Rising in the morning, the group were able to spy low moutain range emerging on the southwestern horizon. By midday the ground had begun to ascend towards the peak, and Zadu had made out the traces of an ancient road, leading into the mountains. By mid-afternoon that same road had cut into a ravine within the mountains, and the party continued in the shadow of its high stone walls. 

Presently, they arrived at a larger rift within the rift, flanked by a series of ancient, crumbling marble pillars. A rope was tethered to one of the pillars, leading down into the rift. Zadu and Bolg set up camp at the top, while one by one Kuriakos, Horace, Analicia and Ursula descended into the darkness. The rope brought them to a broad ledge, from which emanated a switchback series of stairs. In the darkness, they could just make out the outline of a vast fortress: the sunken citadel.

The fortress had all but sunken into the bedrock, but across the crumbled remains of an ancient courtyard, a circular tower loomed housing a wooden door. Boldly - recklessly - Analicia bounded forward, triggering a pit trap that opened up just beneath her. Dropping ten feet, Analicia's lightning reflexes enabled her to catch he edge of the pit. She gently lowered herself down, discovering the bodies of two creatures similar in stature to Dr. Maus' assistants mouldering in the trap. One was relatively fresh, the other was but a pile of bones. She looted the corpses and scrambled from the pit.

Somewhat more cautiously, the party edged their way around the pit and eased open the wooden door into the circular tower. Four corpses in the advanced stages of decay, closely resembling Dr. Maus' assistants, littered the scene, as though they had been slain in battle. Kuriakos studied one closely: it possessed a bold head, fanged mouth and large eyes and ears but was otherwise humanoid.

"Orok." said Kuriakos, although these creatures did not resemble the Oroks they had met in Jehemen at all.

There were no items on the bodies.

Continuing onward, the party ventured through the southwestern door, opening up into a twenty foot wide hallway. Crumbling masonry and rubble littered the southern extremity, whilst a single door stood closed on the western wall. Ever intrepid Analicia cautiously prodded the rubble with her rapier, only to be surprised by a giant rat, which sprang up and made a futile attempt to chew of her face.



Caught momentarily off guard, Analicia equivocated long enough for Ursula to eradicate the vermin with a mote of fire flicked from her finger tips. Analicia was able to cast aside her embarrassment, however, when her skills with the thieves tools were put to work on the sealed door on the west wall. An ancient enchantment powered the magical mechanism, but even this seemed no match for her nimble fingers, and with a resounding *click* the door was opened.

There was an audible hiss and a puff of dust as the door opened into an ancient chamber. A mouldering, ancient odour wafted up to their nostrils. On the north wall were mounted three shattered crystal spheres, whilst a single,l intact sphere sat on a pedestal in an alcove on the south wall. Ursula approached the sphere, gingerly, but as soon as she was within five feet of the object, an eerie music sounded. For a moment a peculiar feeling of submission washed over her, but she snapped out of her moment of reverie, too late to realise that her three companions were already under the influence of a cruel magic, and were wandering mindlessly from the chamber.

Ursula called out after them, but to no avail. They drifted back through the crumbled hallway, back through the ruined tower, and out through the door through which they had entered...

Straight into the pit trap by the door.

There was a sickening crack as they fell ten feet into the pit below, but the enchantment was sufficient to mask the pain they would otherwise have felt. Lying in a broken heap on the floor Horace, Kuriakos and Analicia were happy to remain, blissfully intoxicated by the magical music.

Fortunately for them, Ursula came to their rescue, smashing the crystal sphere and freeing them from the charm. Groggily, the three adventurers scrambled out of the pit, tending their wounds as best they could. Though the hour was already late, they were determined to press on, and uncovered a further chamber, opening up into a musty, twenty-foot long corridor.

No sooner had Analicia set foot in the chamber than a huge crossbow bolt was launched from the wall, piercing her chest. She collapsed to the floor, dying in a pool of her own blood. Horace sent Kuriakos in to retrieve her body, and fortunately he was able to use the power invested in him by his Holy Order to arrest the advance of death. Horace's magic healed the elven maid, not for the first time bringing her from death's door. Tired and wounded, STILL our intrepid heroes pressed ever onward.

After disabling the trap with the last of their iron petons, the group cam into an ornate chamber dominated by a ten-foot tall statue of a dragon, carved from white red-veined marble. Between the knowledge of Ursula, and the backgrounds of Horace and Analicia, the three of them surmised that this citadel was the work of both the ancient Aniasi elves, but an older dwarven civilisation, perhaps the Iron Kings they had previously plundered. 


Their tentative investigations were interrupted when they came too close to the statue: this time, however, it was no trap, but a magical enchantment. The staue's lips began to move, and it issued the following words:

Arribem de nit, sense ser convocats
Desapareixem de dia, sense ser robats.
Què som?

Gauez etorri gara. Inork ez digu deitzen.
Goizean igaro gara.  Inork ez digu lapurtu.
Zer gara?

In high elven and dwarven respectively, it had said:

We come at night without being summoned,
we disappear by the morning without being stolen.
What are we?

In spite of their poor history with riddles, it was not long before they were able to respond with "stars" in their native tongues, revealing, once again, a secret door in the west wall...

This time, Analicia was not the first to enter. Kuriakos sprang forth, as their somewhat indentured servant, drifting around the room and yelling back his discoveries. The ornate hall was grand in design, and featured several statues of honourable elven knights, carved from the same red veined marble as the dragon statue. All was covered with a thin film of dust, like a layer of snow, but the dust had been disturbed more recently. At the back of the hall, a set of three-toed footprints led to the edge of an open pit, filled with spikes, before vanishing.

Across from the pit sat an enormous sarcophagus, carved in the likeness of a dragon. Kuriakos gave the all clear, and the party entered. The usually flippant Analicia felt overcome by solemnity in this tomb of her ancestors, and reverently paid her respects at each of the ancient elven statues. Horace was somewhat suspicious, for he immediately recognised the chamber as being of dwarven design... why then such elven adornments?




Kuriakos and Horace decided to make their way to the sarcophagus by climbing into the pit, edging their way around the three-foot spikes, and then scrambling up the other side. THere was enough space for them to do this two at a time, so Analicia and Ursula waited. As Kuriakos offered a hand to assist Horace, there came an eerie, almost demonic chuckle, and a bizarre, three-foot tall creature sprung from behind a column and began to attack Kuriakos.


Kuriakos was monetarily caught off guard, but sustained no serious damage from the attack, and immediately set about slicing u the monster with his scimitars. He managed to inflict a nasty gash across the creature's chest, which issued a font of foul-smelling, black blood. The creature muttered some infernal curse, before transforming into a bat. It flew into the rafters, laughed that same, demonic chuckle it had done moments before, and then vanished.

Horace and Kuriakos stood their ground for a moment, bracing themselves for a further attack. None was forthcoming. Analicia and Ursula joined them on the other side, and the party resumed their exploration.

The lid of the sarcophagus was bound with several heavy straps, but with Analicia investigating the south wall, there was nobody around to undo the bonds through wit alone. Instead, Kuriakos and Horace began to use brute force, as Ursula looked on, holding the burning torch. All three were oblivious as their elven colleague unveiled a hidden trapdoor, and slipped into a tiny passage way, leading her back into the main hall on the other side of the spiked pit.

"Hey everyone! It's me! I'm over here!"

The party were unmoved, for they had just broken the 3,000 year seal on an ancient tomb, and following a flash of blue light, witnessed the awakening of an ancient creature. Emaciated and worn, and dressed in the raiments of an elven priest, the creature was nonetheless unmistakable to Horace: here was a being of legend, that had plagued his people since the dawn of time.

It was a troll.

To be continued...  

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