After returning to Carynma and receiving the thanks of a tearful Lady Henet, the three took a short moment to examine their situation.
Lady Henet advised them that the map they had found was brought by an adventurer, who sought funding to organise an exploration to the one, nearby, point. He had told her husband it was an ancient tomb full of treasures, and he’d already found some kind of evidence of this nearby. She didn’t know what the evidence was, and assumed the man himself had been killed by the Klork.
On examination of the backpack he had forgotten about, Jaric found a small replica of the map and a thumb sized phial with a green liquid within and pins on top. From the legends every adventurer knew, Jaric surmised this to be one of the fabled Nanik – and with caution to the wind – pushed the needles into his arm. For a time nothing happened, but he would later realise he had gained an affinity for water and could indeed survive beneath the waters of his bath tub for nearly half an hour without rising for air.
Realising that this map had some validity, Natalie, Nate and Jaric made plans to expedition to the location on the map – approximately two days south of Carynma.
Taking a single horse as a pack animal, and enough supplies to see them through a long week – the three set off. The sun barely risen over the great range, and a cool breeze ruffling their hair and fur.
As night fell that first, uneventful, day – the travellers came upon a small campsite. Poorly set for a wilderness trek – but offering warmth and light at least. Sat on a small blanket and eating some dried foods was Hayden, a human man with a knowledgeable air to his demeanour.
After a little conversation and some pleasantries, it became apparent that Hayden was in possession of some research that showed how to find the entrance to ‘The Tomb of the Six Peoples’, but not the mountain range it was located in. Jaric and the Faury had the opposite.
With a little haggling, the four decided to pool their resources and seek out this tomb, bringing together their experience and information. And soon the four were talking of their pasts and dreams, sharing food and drink.
As night fell, the group were brought from their reverie by a soft scuttle at the bottom of the hill Hayden had chosen as his camp. In the twilight the two Humans could make out the chitinous forms of a scamper of Ripplespine making their way towards the warm meat of their chosen prey.
Little time was given for the Ripplespine to advance any further, as the Faury and Hayden – revealing his calling – unleashed magical devastation upon the creatures. Although they did not die easily and several spines were launched across the intervening space, pinning Jaric’s arm and catching one of the flying Faury unaware.
Jaric leapt the last few feet to land among the ravenous beasts, his longsword slashing and cracking through yellow shell to pin the creatures to the dusty ground beneath – their squeals barely carrying on the wind as they died.
After ensuring that there was no further danger close, the newly formed party arranged for watches through the night and slept until the sun rose.
The next few hours passed without much of interest; the two different maps were compared and Hayden was able to fathom the valley which should hold this mythical tomb. And – they all hoped – a trove of treasures (whether that be knowledge, power or precious stones depended from person to person).
Hayden divined that the entrance should lie at the end of a gently rising valley path, through which wound a small stream and pleasant grassland. Easily found and quickly assailed, the motley band none-the-less kept an eye out for danger.
Unfortunately, they could not know what was actually awaiting them.
Some hundred yards ahead, a mechanical man – a golem – took careful aim with a magically enhanced musket. It had been set here millennia ago, and now followed its instructions to prevent interlopers entering.
The magically enhanced shot tore through Jaric’s shield, armour and flesh…on both sides. The force of the blow took him off his feet and pitched him into the shallow stream, where his tenuous consciousness finally notes the age old skeletons and rusted bits of armour that this guardian had destroyed previously.
The Faury began to take cover, preparing to enhance their abilities (and perhaps fly to safety) whilst Hayden ran to Jaric’s aid. The guardian lined up a second shot and…with a click and an odd whine – the musket appeared to jam up. With a quickness unexpected of their size, the faury bounded to the metal automaton and hammered at it with their weapons – whilst Hayden melted its armour with magic and Jaric, recovered slightly – finally leant his weight to the fight.
The golem was rent in two, revealing a complex mess of magical construction and strands of alchemical alloys.
Stopping to secure the magical musket and several items left in the stream by hundreds of years of unwary (and unlucky) travellers, the group moved on. Finding the entrance to the tomb concealed by a small waterfall from higher up the mountain range.
Within the tomb entrance; a simple cave opening, the tunnels appeared to be coated in a layer of slick limestone. Spaced every few yards, a mysterious and perhaps magical glow would emanate from the ceiling – through the rock. The group of motley adventurers seemed non-plussed by this, and continued on, wary for traps and dark creatures.
A few minutes of careful approach brought them to a larger cavern, where the eerie lights cast shadows from tall pod like rocks that grew organically from the floor. There were rows upon rows of these pods, almost perfectly aligned through the cavern. Hayden took a moment to tap upon one of the pods – which crumbled quickly into a pile of rocky lime and, more unusually, scraps of rusted metal embedded within like an ore.
As Hayden leant in close to examine the remains, a low – heart stopping growl reverberated through the mystically lit cave. From the darkness of the pods leapt several wolves – giant and twisted into even more deadly versions of their normal appearance. Dire Wolves.
A quick moving and gory combat ensued, with the dire wolves suffering the onslaughts of magic and might alike – whilst worrying at their opponents – but to little avail. Soon all that remained were enough scraps to make a wolfskin scarf.
The group ducked through an archway and into a darkened sub cave; lit only barely from the light of the previous cavern, the space was filled with an unusual sweet aroma. As torches were lit, the companions noted that plates seemed to have been embedded in some areas of the wall and floor. Although here, large swathes of the floor were turned over and earthen as though ploughed for planting.
As they rooted around amongst the detritus and dirt, before finally locating the source of the scent. A thick gelatinous substance dripped from a crack in the wall, and pooled upon the floor creating a shallow basin. As Jaric approached the pool, the ground erupted violently and disgorged the terrible form of a Carnien. The massive worm like beast – far larger than any heard of previously – snapped and flailed at the brave souls. Attempting to rend through their flesh and gorge on their remains. As the team threw all they had at the beast, it slid back beneath the earth…only to erupt again and again…throwing those on the ground away and snapping at any that remained too close.
Finally, with magic flames, blades and force – the Carnien flopped, in chunks, to the floor.
Another mysterious room annexed the Carnien’s lair; water dribbled down the one wall whilst three other doors lay around the walls. In the nearest corner, a mound of limestone made itself obvious through an odd luminescence that glowed from within. Scouting around, several areas of stone were found to cover metallic draws – and a brief force brought them open. Revealing some strangely packaged bandages and strong smelling liquids in phials. One draw even contained a pair of ancient annihilation rings.
However the glowing pod was of most interest to Hayden, who carefully chipped at it with a dagger. Evidently – he was not careful enough. A thick and abhorrent yellow liquid spat from the rock and forced further breakage to the stone.
Whatever leapt from that hellish embryo was like no creature any had ever seen or heard of. The thing was a mass of extruding teeth, spines, hair and sinew. Rows of jagged teeth gnashed at them and a keening wail filled the air. Even worse, as a blast of telepathic energy was directed at it…the thing performed the same attack in return. Scuttling up walls and throwing itself onto the adventurers, it brought one of the Faury sisters down with a blast of elemental fire – before finally being sliced to pieces by Jaric.
The bandages found mere moments before, came into good use to help revive the fallen mage.
Though Hayden tried his best, it was likely he would never know what the creature was and what purpose it had been confined in the fragile ova for.