Hamlin was pretty badly beat up, and Dante offered to walk him to the priests, stating using up all of Cairn's spells so early on in our exploring would be a waste. I think he was being a little lazy as well, not wanting to possibly fight stuff again right away. But mainly the badly injured thing.
The room we fought those last creatures in was apparently an old, run down prison. Cells were all along the lower level, with a wooden catwalk up above, which led to a small stone hallway.
There were two doors in the connecting room, and Cairn asked which way we should go. I went up to the eastern door and examined it quickly, and unlocked it. Cairn opened the door and an orange mist came out of the door suddenly and my face felt itchy for a minute. Stairs led down to a floor with wooden pallets scattered about.
I moved to the southern door and put my ear to it.
"They wouldn't trap two doors in the same room," Cairn said from behind me.
I shrugged. That made as much sense as anything else, so I pushed the door open. A ruined office-like room was behind the door, with three identical doors, each with a seven-pointed star engraved. I vaguely recalled reading a book that had the symbol in it. "Something... magical?" I asked aloud.
"Yeah, that symbol reminded me of something I read once. Something to do with magic."
Cairn narrowed his eyes while looking at the doors, then turned abruptly toward the ruined desk in the room, reaching down and pulling out a scroll case. He removed a scroll, looked it over briefly, then put it back in the case and shoved it in his pack. "Mhmm, magic," he said, nodding. I nodded back.
Cairn moved to the first door and pushed it open. A deformed, humanoid skeleton was chained to the wall. One arm was smaller than normal, it had an extra leg, and second skull appeared to be starting to grow out of its original skull.
I opened the second and third doors, and found similar scenes. Skeletons with odd deformities, extra limbs, etc.
I headed out of the room and saw a big, black cat with reddish tints to its fur sniffing around.
"What the-!? There's a... uh, mountain lion out here!"
"Oh. Shadow. You come looking for me?" Cairn said to the feline. "Shadow's my cat friend. We travel together. Shadow, Mat. Mat, Shadow." He pet Shadow's head and motioned me over to say hello.
"Uh... hi, Shadow," I said semi-nervously as I patted my hand on the cat’s head a couple times.
Cairn motioned with his hand as he moved toward the stairs. "Let's go."
“So… is Shadow your pet?”
Cairn shook his head. “Shadow is my friend.”
We went down the stairs and there were wooden pallets, apparently covering pits in the floor, moaning noises emanating from them.
Cairn moved into the room first and readied himself to attack, turning toward the left side of the stairs. I couldn’t see whatever it was he was reacting to.
"What are you doing here? You're in my queen's territory. She doesn't want you around the little ones. I watch the little ones," I heard someone say as I reached the bottom of the stairs.
"Well, we’re here to kill the little ones, you little- what the heck is that thing!?" I said, changing my words mid-sentence as I saw what Cairn had been looking at.
In the corner of the room was a goblin the size of a human, with an arm growing out of its back. It was holding a wicked-looking red sword that seemed to be emanating smoke in one hand, a dagger in the other, and a handaxe in the arm on its back.
I was rather surprised at seeing it and took a step back, pulling up the hand crossbow I'd taken earlier and letting fly the bolt I'd readied in it. The shot flew wide.
Cairn moved around the pallets and took a chunk out of the goblin, his cat companion moving into place to flank the grotesque goblin. I couldn't get in close for an attack. I hooked the crossbow back on my belt and readied my shortbow as I moved to be able to shoot around Shadow, but missed again.
The goblin unloaded a flurry of blows on Shadow, his burning sword carving into the large cat, and his axe chopping into Cairn, who returned the favor with another swing of his two handed axe while Shadow ripped a wound in its side with his claws.
The goblin hit the druid with his sword and Cairn collapsed. I shot an arrow into the thing and Shadow avenged his companion with two final swipes of his claws.
I rushed to Cairn and fed him a healing potion. When he came to, we searched the goblin’s body.
I picked up the sword, and was surprised to find there was no heat emanating from the smoldering blade. It wasn't even hot to the touch. I smacked one of the pallets with the sword and it burst into flame.
"I think this was Koruvus, the 'hero' of the mosswood goblin tribe. He was rumored to have a magic longsword," I said. Cairn nodded in agreement.
The dagger was made of silver and had a skull carved into the pommel, and the hand axe turned out to be rather finely crafted. It would fetch a decent price since none of us were interested in using hand axes.
The pits all had zombies in them. Cairn suggested we destroy the unnatural creatures. I agreed and took careful aim to kill a few with one arrow each, while Cairn used his sling to literally knock the brains out of the rest. It only took a few minutes to finish with them all.
There was a spiral staircase down the next branch in the hallway, but we walked up to the door at the end of the hall first. I put my ear to it and could hear what sounded like bits of static electricity.
I slowly inched the door open, and peeked inside. Behind the door was a spherical room lined with a strange, red metal. Black lightning seemed to arc through the air randomly. Periodically, the lightning would form Thassalonian runes. “Angst”, “revenge”, “anger”, and other similar words were what appeared.
There was a book floating in the middle of room. Orbiting around the book was a scroll, a glass bottle, a dead raven covered in maggots, and a twisted iron wand with a forked tip.
I looked back at Cairn and gestured toward the room, opening the door a little further so he could see inside. He looked intently at it all then shrugged. "I got nothing," he said.
We decided to leave the room alone for the moment, and went back to the spiral staircase. The stairway suddenly collapsed in front of us as we moved only a handful of steps down. We didn’t get caught in the collapse at all, but we weren't going to be moving any further down after that.
Right as the stairs collapsed, I heard what sounded like a ghostly, animal-like wail.
As we moved back to the main hall and headed south, we came across a dais with a black marble basin, a white marble statue of a jackal-headed pregnant woman behind it. Later, I would realize this was a statue of Lamashtu.
A little further down the hall was a set of double doors, the seven-pointed star engraved on each. They stood open. A large chamber lay beyond, a ring of skulls seemingly floating nose-deep in the center of a circular pool of water about 20 feet across. The water looked to be about two feet deep outside the ring of skulls, and much deeper in the middle.
I could just make out a triangular pedestal in the middle of a platform with stairs on either side at the back of the room. A small basin sat in the top of the pedestal, filled with a thick, glowing liquid. Wisps of steam and smoke wafted up from the strange substance.
We had only taken a couple steps into the chamber when a mysterious, high-pitched voice came from somewhere near the pedestal. "Who dares enter the sanctuary of my mother's sanctum? Do you bring news of the raids?"
I whispered to Cairn. "Should we tell the weird voice that we destroyed the raids and stuff?"
And Cairn replied to the voice, "We have come to stop the raids."
"Or we can do that," I muttered with a shrug.
"That will not do. The Mother wills that the raids be successful. I will destroy you." A foot-tall, goat-horned, demonic-looking woman with wings was suddenly standing at the triangular pedestal. She cut her hand and drops of blood fell into the basin on top of it. The light coming from the basin flickered briefly and the demon lady had a worried expression flash across her face for a moment.
The ring of skulls in the pool in front of us lit up with blue flames and the water began to froth, two sin eaters rising up from the middle of the ring. The demon woman then vanished in a sparkle of light.
I struck one of the creatures with an arrow, and it stalked up to me, missing with a swipe of each clawed hand and a bite from its grotesque mouth.
Shadow moved around it and took a bite out of it, and I followed up with a stab of my rapier as Cairn moved up to keep the other one from surrounding me. Shadow finished the one we started on and Cairn repositioned himself to be flanking the other.
Cairn was readying an attack, but suddenly froze in place, and the demon reappeared back by the altar.
“I hate magic,” I said. Cairn managed to grunt while magically restrained. “When it is used by our enemies,” I finished.
I circled around the remaining sin eater and skewered it with my rapier.
The foes in front of us downed, Shadow took off across the room, leaping ten feet up onto the platform the pedestal was on, lunging at the tiny demon, barely missing.
Inspired by his cat's heroic action, Cairn visibly shook off the paralyzing spell that had been cast on him.
The demon shook its hands in Shadow's direction, and the big feline curled up and fell asleep.
"Well, that sucks," I said as I hurried up the steps on one side of the platform.
Cairn charged through the water, icy tendrils licking at his feet. He pulled out a potion, but as he finished it, he threw the vial it was in on the ground, seeming enraged, looking around with an angry look on his face, switching his gaze between me and the demon, settling on her as he growled.
I noticed she was just barely closer to him than I was. “I really hate magic,” I muttered to myself as I made certain to keep my distance from Cairn for the moment.
The tiny demon flew out over the water in the middle of the room and threw a small dagger, missing Cairn. It vanished just before hitting the ground, reappearing in her hand.
I stood on the platform, pulling out my bow again and unleashing an arrow into the demonic creature assaulting us.
Cairn howled and stepped toward our enemy, but even in his enraged state, he stopped at the edge of the waters and used his sling to throw a rock at the thing. If he stepped into the water, he wouldn’t have been able to reach it with his axe.
I struck her with another arrow, and saw Shadow stir awake and move to the edge of the platform, watching the small flying creature, which darted past Cairn, scratching him with a claw.
In its new position, I had to run back down the stairs to take another shot with the bow, but missed.
Cairn's rage seemed to be over just as suddenly as it started, and Shadow jumped off the platform, leaping at the demon again and barely hitting it with a swipe of a claw.
The demon tried to cast some spells but failed, and Shadow got in two more claw swipes, Cairn swung with his axe and was dodged, and I charged in with my rapier and got a good stab in, and Shadow followed up after another failed spell, knocking it from the air for good.
"No, Shadow! Don't eat!" Cairn called out.
Searching the body, we found the tiny magical dagger she had thrown at Cairn before, a little tiara, and an obsidian holy symbol of the strange jackal-headed deity. A scroll of Glitterdust was also on the body, and I handed it to Cairn to keep.
We searched the two rooms on the sides of the large chamber, and they appeared to be storage rooms. One had a bunch of dead ravens covered in maggots in it, the other was empty.
After clearing out this level of the tunnels, we returned to the spherical room. I searched for traps beyond the door, and determined the flashing runes appeared to be harmless. Regardless, I ran in quickly and grabbed the items, then bolted back out of the room.
I was able to determine the book was written in Abyssal, which I added to the mental list of languages I needed to learn while traveling, and the bottle turned out to be a normal bottle of wine. Neither of us really felt like drinking from it, though. The wand was enchanted with the Shocking Grasp spell. I kept it for myself. Having seen a few wizards use them before, I figured I could manage to use the wand if need be.
We moved back to the large chamber to make sure we didn’t miss anything, when we suddenly heard footsteps coming from down the hallway, in the direction of the way out.