[The story so far]
Session 27 - The tomb of the iron god (vii)
With Nausicaa still irritated about the marks that the ghoul claws had left on her face, Tybalt complaining about about his dreadful luck, and Jean pale and staggering like a man just back on his feet after a three-day fever, Gwen took hold of her map and led the way through the doorway the injured ghoul had apparently fled through.
Thus began their wanderings. One chamber after another of catacombs, walls lined with niches containing skeletons keeping them on their guard. Montagne got in a bit of a strop when the rest wouldn't let him smash up the bones as a preventative measure, the two clerics and the dwarf in particular objected.
Thwarted, the huge fighter poked around for any treasure to loot, eyes lighting upon a golden ring with a large garnet set in it. He snatched it up and, to the horror of the others who were just too slow to stop him, slid it straight onto his finger...
"Don't do that! It could be cursed or something!" Too late... panicked, Montagne tried to remove it but the ring was stuck. No amount of twisting or pulling or lubricating with lamp oil had any effect. To his further dismay, the ring started to feel slightly warm. "Oh great, I'm going to die from a cursed ring, what a pointless, stupid way to go. I'm going to have to cut my own finger off, aren't I? Dammit!"
He wasn't happy and trailed along muttering after the others as they retraced their back to the chamber where they'd fought the gelatinous cube, the intention being to investigate the staircase that spiralled upwards through the rock. Bullying the halfling into sneaking up the stairs and taking a peak didn't work, but Gwen volunteering to go in exasperation was enough to guilt-trip him into going anyway.
The instant they poked their heads up above the floor level it felt as though they'd passed the open door of a furnace - energy was emanating from a hulking mass of iron in the centre of the natural cavern. They hurried down to fetch the others who, reassured by the lack of a feeling of malevolence, followed the two shorter ones back up into the cavern. Oiseau and Dumnorix struggled up the stairs, every hair on their heads crackling, and their whole bodies feeling like a swollen seed pod about to burst. "Gods" Oiseau managed to croak. Nori simply nodded.
They looked at the iron bulk, images overlapping and shifting. Sometimes it looked just like the statue in the first room, but when they looked away the memory was of something far too large to fit in the cavern. They felt rooted to the spot. "Is it another angry statue?" asked Nausicaa. The clerics shook their bowed heads. "I think, I think it's Ferrus himself!" declared Montagne. "Oh Ferrus, we came to cleanse your temple, I beg of you free me from this accursed ring." The ring slipped off his finger and rang gently as it bounced across the floor.
Montagne tried to approach but it was like walking into a gale; he made no progress. Nausicaa unexpectedly threw her lodestone towards the statue but it repelled across the floor at high speed away from the bulk...
...and suddenly it was as though the sun had gone behind a cloud - the intensity of that sensation of presence eased.
"Let's follow the lodestone" was the decision. And they did. "You know what," mused the muscleman, "I could follow a god like Ferrus; he did save me from that ring." They wandered a little further through the caverns and were just moving back into manmade passageways when Tybalt heard a noise ahead. Voices, footsteps, then a bang and one voice raised in cursing and others in harch laughter. "Goblins!" declared Aurelius, the only one to speak their language. They fell back to a point where they could envelop them, and waited.
"We should kill them," insisted Montagne, but the others wanted to see how many and how hostile they were, particularly as several had suffered injuries facing the ghouls. A gang of about a dozen of the beasts came into view, two of them carrying a chest between them and another hobbling and clutching its foot from time to time, still muttering. A better equipped goblin barked an order at the others and drew his sword when he saw the party. "These are our caves now. We are many, many. Better you get out of our way." He readied a horn as though to blow for reinforcements.
"We really should kill them, they've clearly been looting the temple, Ferrus can't want that!" But Montagne was over-ruled again. Aurelius agreed with the goblin that they would pass by each other peacefully and so it played out. The goblins swaggered and leered at them as they passed, heading into the caverns that held Ferrus (if it was him), much to the disgust of Montagne and Oiseau.
More wandering followed, passageway after empty passageway with only the occasional goblin (?) footprints in dust, or scattered debris. They did find some rust-coloured hoods hanging on hooks which they took and put on remembering the inscription earlier [I'd been rolling every torch worth of time to see if they were affected by the hallucinations that entering the catacombs without the proper hoods should bring on, with an increasing chance from 20%, then 25% etc. They'd passed every time!]. But otherwise it seemed functional but deserted. Frustration rose.
They agreed to spend another torch wandering and then head back to the caverns ("And kill those goblins") to return to Ferrus. They opened a door. The floor inside was thick with dust but hints of metal could be seen through it. Carefully they swept the dust aside to reveal concentric iron circles set into the stone floor with a solid disc of it about two foot across in the centre.
"Maybe this is where we should put that little statue I found?" asked Dumnorix. "I'll do it," volunteered Montagne. He fished it out of the cleric's backpack and stepped forward. As he placed it down on the central disc... BAM
Instantly dragged up into the air, Montagne hung motionless about three feet off the ground. The air around him shimmered as though he was in a heat haze. Then the visions started. Montagne's mind's eye was filled with a rapid retracing of their steps to the statue of Ferrus; it was as though he stood before the statue once more. No words were given, but Montagne felt the iron god's fury at the presence of looters, treasure seemed to be offered except for an unusual chest full of silver coins, he saw (like it was a promise) an iron mace suspended from a stalactite, and then there was the image of rending teeth and hunger. These two last images flickered back and forth repeatedly. Montagne felt he should be finding the mace to apply it to the teeth.
Then he fell back to the floor, exhausted.
Cautiously the others approached and the fighter relayed his vision. Dumnorix was delighted. "This must be what we need to do to cleanse this place. Let's go!" But the others were more cautious and the consensus was to make sure the area they were in was secure before facing The Hungry Teeth. "Ok," agreed Montagne, "and if we see any looting goblins we get to kill them and reclaim their treasure. I reckon I could worship a god like Ferrus!"
So it was decided. So it was done.