The Crypt of House Sibelius is the sixteenth episode of The Chain. It aired on May 15th, 2019.
The Search Continues
Before proceeding deeper into the mausoleum, the Chain of Acheron spent a little time getting themselves back up to snuff healthwise. Before taking the stairs down, first, they checked the skeleton that was in the gelatinous cube to see if they could discover anything about it. It looked old, with ancient rings on its fingers, a bronze torque around its neck, and a primitive belt buckle. Leech took one of the rings and put it on. Leech imparted to the rest of the group that the skeleton appeared to have been there for some time.
Everyone but King and Slim decided to check into the alcove at the end of the corridor. The marble, gold foiled sarcophagus in the tomb had an enameled depiction of a noblewoman and an engraving. The engraving identified the occupant as Lady Sibelius. There were a lot of scrolls in the room. A spot check indicated that they were getting further away from their serial number.
King examined the torque that the skeleton was wearing and determined that it might be magic, so Slim kept it. The stairs were ten feet wide but the ceiling was low, leading some of the party to feel like they need to duck to make it through without braining themselves.
Slim and King led the party as they made their way down the stairs. It is 25 feet long and empties into a corridor going North and South. All along the corridor, there are dead bodies on the floor which appear to be old and desiccated. Slim and King notice that on the wall directly opposite there are three lines of text that appeared to be written in the same script as that on the sarcophagus above.
In the space immediately in front of the stairs, the floor is clear of bodies. There are paths that wind between the bodies in the dust on the floor. In some places, footprints are visible in the dust. King calls Copper, the Best Ranger, to the front to see if he can identify the footprints or see if there is a trap present. He determines that the footprints are mostly Human, but also some Elves and Dwarves. Some appear to be a few hours old. They all seem to be walking normally, not shambling. There was definitely heavier traffic in one direction than in the other. King feels the hair on the back of his neck rise up, indicating the presence of undead.
Boots approaches the wall and uses a spell to mentally translate the script engraved there. It says, “Bow your head, visitor, for you enter the family tomb of a noble house. Those interred here were greater than thee in life and more stately in death". When he turns around, he sees that the columns holding up the archway was carved in the shape of caryatids, Boots bows to the statues and says that these might be the crypt protectors the librarian warned them about.
They choose to go first to the doorway that appears to have the most foot traffic to it. Inside appears to be a tomb of a noble knight, full of scrolls. They choose another room. Inside are paintings, vases, and other works of art. There are piles of scrolls and parchment all over. Checking serial numbers of scrolls in each room indicates that the first room has scrolls closest to their number.
They go to the end of the corridor and open a door into a huge room with a vaulted ceiling. At the base of each of the pillars holding up the ceiling are a bunch of records. Boots bows again before entering the room and checking the records there. Slim follows Boots into the room, refusing to bow due to his past as a slave to Mind Flayers: “Slim bows to no one!” -- This triggers a fight.
Slim Bows to No-one
Two statues, revealed to be golems, come to life and appear ready to attack Slim. Copper reacts first and shoots the leftmost statue with a hail of thorns, and Bigcat co-ordinating her attack. Slim maneuvres around to an advantageous position and hacks at the same stone creature with his greatsword. Judge attacks a golem and hits keenly, causing big chunks of stone to break off. The first Golem casts slow on Judge and Slim, while the second golem slams its fist into the Gith. Leech orders Odie to turn invisible, and go assist Judge and Slim. Odie says, “They’ll never see me!”.
Boots notices a humanoid figure in heavy robes organizing some of the documents about 40 feet away from him. Boots calls out to him, “Hey, who are you? You there!”, and the figure appears to turn, but Boots can’t make out any features. The figure screeches at him, then turns back to their task. Boots says, “As you were”. He then advances to attack the first golem, making little progress, before singing to inspire Slim. Leech throws an agonizing blast at one of the golems, chipping some more stone off. King uses his rank to order Judge to attack, while he casts a spell, but both efforts miss their target.
The corpses around the party start to glow, and the light emerges to form six terrifying figures. These creatures are specters, which join the battle also. One behind Copper reaches out and inflicts a bone chilling cold on the Goblin, as though his life force were being drained away. Judge and King also come under attack from the specters the figures and are drained of life force. Another moves past King to attack Leech, and though Leech's health is permanently reduced, King manages to strike the distracted spirit.
Copper uses his bonus action to disengage from the golems and shoots his Stone Arrow, one of his five magical arrows, at the first golem, and hits. The siege arrow, which is magically effective against stonework, detonates on impact and several members of the party are injured slightly by the concussion. Copper shoots again, with Bigcat also descending on the golem. Boots sees the hooded figure go to another column and begin tidying the scrolls below it, revealing long, withered hands from the cuffs of its robe. Slim hits the first golem and is successful in shaking off the slowness spell he'd received. Judge, also slowed, hits a golem but fails to free himself from the spell. A golems slams Judge twice with its stone arms and knocks him unconscious. Slim tries to riposte this golem but fails. Odie invisibly returns Copper’s Stone Arrow, on Leech's instructions.
Boots casts the spell hypnotic lights, but not only did it not have any effect on the golems or the specters, but it also transfixes King! Boots realizes his mistake quickly enough to revoke it, and pokes his head through the hole in one golem to give Judge a healing word: “Hey! Get up, slacker!" Leech puts his fingers on the foreheads of the two specters surrounding him and hits them both with a point-blank eldritch blast. King advances and uses his holy power to turn the undead -- which all of the specters fail to resist. They each heed King's power and return to the bodies they came from, their light dimmed.
Copper shoots each golem once, making progress on the first, and hitting the second with his recovered Stone Arrow. There was another powerful detonation; once again Boots, Slim, and Judge were caught in the concussion. Bigcat continues to chip away at the first golem. Slim steps up and uses a battle maneuver to attack a golem three times with his greatsword. After his third strike, it shatters, sending pieces flying everywhere. He redirects his last attack to the remaining golem, chipping away just enough for Judge to shatter it with a critical hit from his two-hander sword.
A Rest? An Arresting Stare
After the battle, the party heads back upstairs to rest in relative safety. King utters a prayer of healing, and Boots sings a song of rest, to help the party recover its strength before they press on. Back downstairs, the robed creature is still engaged in its task. Boots checks a scroll and finds that they are close to their target. There are many thick columns in this room, painted with old Riojan nobility, which easily block vision. Scrolls are piled up very neatly at the base of the columns. Boots bows and addresses the cloaked crone: “Pardon me, Curator-". It turns around and Boots is taken aback by its hideous appearance, but gathers his courage and asks if it could help him find this scroll. The bodak, not convinced by Boots' diplomacy, screeches at Boots, its eyes glowing red and causing a deathly chill in the Riojan that he has to steel himself against. Another battle, this time with a bodak, an incarnation of anti-life.
King gets the sense that there are still undead in the area. Boots tries to cast a spell on the bodak, but fails, as his life is sapped away just from proximity with the creature. “It’s so undead that it’s making me dead!” Judge and Leech also take necromantic damage from the bodak, as Leech attempts to invisibly edge around it, following indistinct whispers coming from the corners of the room. Slim tries to attack the bodak, but accidentally looked into its eyes -- and drops unconscious.
Back on the library's ground floor, the librarian is talking to a co-worker about the party. The co-worker asks “Did you tell them about the Archivist?” The librarian gasps and covers her mouth.
The camera comes back to the party, who realize that if they can see the bodak’s eyes, they can also be knocked unconscious. Leech, with his medical training, immediately reacts to Slim falling down and attends to him, waking him back up. Slim stands and activates his ioun gem, which causes his sword to glow with psychic energy. He screams out a curse and attacks the bodak -- critically wounding it. He missed with his second attack and misty steps to reposition himself near Boots. King calls upon his spirit guardians, and orders Boots to attack alongside them. The whole party is slowly being killed just by being near the bodak, but continue fighting, trying not to look at it as they attack. Copper deals the final blow with a well-placed arrow, killing it.
Before the party can do anything, wraiths step out of the pillars, though some are immediately damaged by King's spirit guardians. The wraiths nearest King attack, one of them connecting and permanently limiting his health. Another wraith attacks Boots, who is not injured as permanently. Leech has Odie hang around and help Judge, who lands a critical hit with his greatsword. Boots stabs and chases down a wraith as it is pushed away from him, wispy, sooty vapor coming away with every cut. Leech uses healing lights to heal Slim, then moves to take suppressing eldritch blasts at a wraith, though it doesn't connect. Slim, whose sword is still wreathed in psychic energy, slices twice at a wraith, before using his second wind to recover further.
King casts spiritual weapon and attacks a wraith, before channeling more divine power to turn the wraiths. One of the wraiths is frightened and flees into the waiting weapons of the spirit guardians, who set about all spirits who come close. Copper coordinates attacks with Bigcat to cause one wraith to evaporate and to damage a second. The other wraith passes through Boots to attack Judge along with the other remaining spirit. Judge retaliates by whacking one with his sword until it dissipates, while Boots turns around to stab the wraith that just moved through him, obliterating it.
The hair on the back of King’s neck stood down now as soon as all of the undead are... more dead.
Secret Door and a Lost Courier
The party spread out to look for the document they came for. Odie digs through a pile of documents and finds a secret door. Leech calls out, “Sirs, I found a secret door. Perhaps someone more able, with a weapon, should go first.”
Despite his objections, Leech is the first through the secret door, discovering a large room. It looked like someone had turned it, at one time, into a reference room. There’s a desk in the center of the room and documents all over. The serial numbers in this room don’t seem to be in any order; a dead end. Under the desk, Leech finds an ancient, rusted lock box. Judge uses his sword to wedge the padlock off the box, succeeding handily. There are a couple of letters in the box, a book, some boots, a gem, and a sword. The boots are soft soled leather boots and each one has a stylized cat’s eye on it. Boots immediately claims the boots and puts them on.
Judge reads the letters and discovers that these are the items they ordered from Sumat Pol, transported somewhere the Chain would find them. Judge happily hands out the presents to the rest of the party.
They search through the rest of the room, sure that the scroll they’re looking for should be here, but it’s nowhere to be found. They spent another hour resting here before exploring the other end of the corridor. They open the door and hear a gasp. It’s dark in the room, but they hear footsteps scrabbling away. They find an emaciated human figure trying to hide behind one of the crates, pointing a dagger at them. He says, “Begone spirits! Shades! I do not wish to join you!!” Boots tries to reassure him: “I am not a shade. I am simply a handsome Riojan man in fancy boots.” The boy looks relieved and then passes out.
Leech attends to the boy to try to bring him around, immediately recognizing what is wrong: The boy is suffering from extreme malnutrition. The boy woke up and is terrified of Leech, but the Drow is able to slowly calm him down. He explains that he’s been down here for about ten days and has been trying to stay away from the unquiet dead. He says he’s a courier who had been sent here to retrieve a document. The party explained that they also are looking for the document and ask if he’s found it. He says he looked the whole time he was here but hasn’t found it. Copper gives him some cheese to eat.
They ask the boy to show them where the scroll would be found. He says he’d like to help, but he’s in no condition to, so he is put atop Bigcat’s back so he can lead them to their destination. They open the door and find it to be intensely cold in the room, even as compared to the rest of the mausoleum. They instruct the courier to stay behind them as they enter, with King casting Haste on Slim. Judge, realizing some preparation is a good idea, uses the wand to magically improve his sword again.
They encounter a matronly looking ghostly figure dressed in a much older version of the Riojan fashion, who seems to be engaged in document organization, much like the bodak was. Slim walks into the room -- and into initiative once more.
Slim, being in front and hasted, is able to move first and hit the ghost five times. Copper puts a hunter’s mark on the ghost and shoots her twice, then moves around it so the Bigcat and Boots can hit her. Boots bounds into the room -“Have at thee, librarian!”- and hits her twice before inspiring Slim. Copper notices what looks like a shadow on the ceiling extend a pseudopod down. Slim succeeded on a save versus possession. King fires a fireball at the top of the pillar towards the shadow, a black pudding, and channels divinity to maximize the damage. Fire erupts and ripples across the pudding, then goes out. King then orders Slim to attack again; he does and kills the ghost. Leech and Judge leap to action, sealing the creature with an interdict before firing an eldritch blast and hurling a javelin at it. Big chunks of the black pudding start falling down from the ceiling. Where the javelin hit, there was a fissure and now there are two distinct puddings on the ceiling.
The Scroll and its Consequences
Slim searches through the room in haste, almost immediately finding the scroll they’ve been looking for, and leaves. The courier kneels before them all and pledges his service to the Chain, introducing himself as Illario. Slim quickly renames him Grumbles in honor of the noises his stomach was making when they met him.
Judge notices that the Diplomat’s Pouch on King’s hip glowing, and King feels a shift inside it. A letter has arrived, sent magically by Angel, reporting the Red Falcons think they’re here to try to take the island. Furthermore, House Alvaro also thinks they’re making a play for the island and are sending Duke Prospero’s best knights, the Order of the Twelve Dragons, to come up with an excuse to kill them -- and the weapons they have with them are technically illegal. Both groups think this because the document they were sent to retrieve proves that House Burnadetti is the rightful heir to this island, having been granted it by the Prince before his death. House Burnadetti is in the Fulcrum’s pocket, so neither the Red Falcons nor the Dragons will allow this to happen.
The party tries to figure out a way to get off the island and proposes putting their weapons -- the most likely pretext for their arrest -- in the Bag of Holding. The courier exclaims “That won’t work! They’ll just kill you and plant weapons on you anyway.” King suggests putting the document in the Bag of Holding and trying to rush past the opposition by saying that the courier needs immediate medical attention, before making a break for their ship. The courier says that aside from the docks, the island’s margins are all broken rock and that the ship may be wrecked trying to retrieve them.
Ultimately, they decide to transmit the document to Angel via the Diplomat’s Pouch and instruct him to stash it on the Somnium Tenebris as try to bluff their way past.