There you stood, staring into the dark hole beneath the abandoned academy, the building surrounded by mad townspeople, Nicolette looking at you expectantly. Nothing for it, right?
Guyver did some quick architectural assessments to learn about the fire traps in the floor tiles of the chamber below, and the party descended carefully into the catacombs, torches, bucklers, and shock gloves aglow. You proceeded down a number of hallways, all lined with alcoves, a decaying corpse or skeleton in each. After several turns, you came to an intersection rigged with trip wires.
Finn thought he would toss a skull at the wires to trip them, but when he reached out toward one it awoke and bit his hand. Apparently the catacombs were chockful of bone bugs, ethereal parasites that dwell within and mindlessly animate the bones of the dead. And wouldn’t you know it, this was a doozy of an infestation. The catacombs came alive with a chittering rattling noise as the bones of all the corpses began rattling and rolling, trying to assemble to claim a fresher meal.
Finn was equal to this challenge though, taking “Diplomacy” to all the nearby skeletons. This didn’t solve the tripwire problem though. The party finally just snapped the wire manually, and watched the floor of the intersection drop out to reveal a pit full of bones all beginning to assemble into something…bad. Queue fireball action. You crossed the pit on a bridge of Guyver’s mechanical creations and proceeded as quickly as possible in the direction of the lower numbered corridors.
…until you reached a large room with embalming equipment, stairs leading up, and a big platform covered in bones rapidly assembling into a gigantic amalgamated skeleton. Maelgyn transformed into a bull and charged right through the creature, smashing its legs, but the legion creature immediately began to reform. Daelwyn began singing and weaving about with his sword, his songs a bright light in the darkness of the catacombs. Finn charged forward maintaining a dispel magic bubble, and where it touched the creature the bones fell to the floor, inert and ready for smashing. Guyver fashioned an acid sprayer from the embalming equipment, and soon the room was full of smashed or dissolving bones.
The party had only a moment to congratulate themselves, as down the stairs (from the church above) came a steady stream of implacably menacing townspeople. As the bone creatures cleared the platform, Daelwyn noticed a circle of inactive magical runes indicating some sort of trapdoor to the lower catacombs. Finn dropped his dispel magic bubble and the runes flickered back to life, and he was able to activate a descending stairwell. The party fled downward, pursued by the murderous mob. The lower catacombs turned out to be a gigantic cavern full of unorganized bodies/skeletons. You also found the recent remains of a campsite (and it appeared to have been occupied by at least one dwarf!).
At the far end of the cavern, you discovered a metal, oculus-like door, clearly of Imperium-origin, labeled “Nidhogg Vault 1”. Examining the panel told you that the area beyond was under some sort of partial containment. Magical seals had been turned off, the power diverted elsewhere, and the facility’s life support (oxygen) had also been deactivated. With some diversion of the magical energies, Guyver unsealed the door and brought life support back, and a hologram of the AI construct you met near Murat popped up to say hello.
The construct (named Nidhogg) objected to your entry, claiming you were meddling, lives were at stake, and that the facility was operating normally. You disagreed and inquired as to why containment was off and what could be causing the problems in the village above. Nidhogg wasn’t forthcoming, as you ran into blocks in his programming preventing him from even speaking about certain information.
You proceeded into the facility, finding a huge bore-like multi-tiered complex, with oculus-like doors on every level. Each was labeled things like “Aeronautic Devices” or “Sonic Warfare” or “Dangerous Xenomorphs”. Before going too far you encountered security constructs, magic powered crystal and metal devices that shot disabling rays at you. Daelwyn used his Flute of Discord (obtained from the bowels of Queklain) in the ensuing scuffle, setting off an alarm claiming that “A breach of the BLACK containment vault has been detected. Initiate containment protocols. Personnel evacuate.” After examining several doors and a map, you realized several things:
-The black containment vault is near the bottom of the facility, and seems like it could be the source of the problems Tristram is experiencing.
-At the very bottom of the facility is an arcane dynamo that serves as both the power source for the facility (and whatever it is being funneled off to) as well as part of the brain for Nidhogg.
-The current lockdown prevents you from entering the vaults; lifting the lockdown will allow you entry but also will unlock all the vaults.
Faced with the decision to gain cool stuff at the cost of unleashing madness or creeping cautiously through the locked facility, you opted for madness. Guyver rearranged the mana streams and voila, every door opened. Creatures and tentacles swarmed out of some doors, while others revealed repositories of items, ancient advanced and awesome. And arcane beam eyes popped out of the ceilings all over the place too.
Everyone except Maelgyn (who felt the whole place was just shudder-inducingly unnatural) grabbed what they could: Guyver grabbed some sort of leyline-linked jetpack (and threw one at Daelwyn too) as well as a Fire Stone (congealed magical energy capable of applying an elemental effect to equipment); Daelwyn raided a musical vault, gaining a song that may allow him to turn back time, using words to find a way (or some such nonsense), as well as a perforated scimitar labeled “Song Blade”. Finn dove into a chamber marked “Department of Defense”, and grabbed a halfling sized suit of shimmering “power armor”.
Loot in hand, you flew out into the central bore to find horrifying black ooze creature(s) ascending the complex. They shot clingy dark shit at the party, which paralyzed and continued to eat away at the body parts it touched. The ooze seemed to react and defend itself as a single entity when Finn shot a fireball it, but repeated shots made the creature(s) disappear. As giant tentacles thrashed and other unidentifiable creatures fought the facilities magical security, you dove down to the lower levels, where Guyver led you toward the arcane dynamo to try and do something about this mess.
The dynamo chamber contained a mass of spinning crystal and floating runes, aglow with the power of a leyline hub. Nidhogg appeared again, chastising you for making a mess of the facility and again importuning you against touching the dynamo or changing the routing of the energy. He claims that the fate of a village or some slaves is nothing when the world is on the line, but could give no more elaboration on what he meant. Guyver seemed particularly intent on not leaving things be, but Nidhogg mentioned that the Fear, the phenomenon or creature responsible for Tristram’s state, is over in the black containment vault. While it is not within his power to destroy it, perhaps you could try/die doing something about it?