Chapter 9 - Didn't We Have a Thief With Us At One Time?

With the approach of the two more mummies, an aura of despair swept over the group. Only Ornrik and Saris seemed even capable of movement, though even they were a bit shaken. Saris found himself toe to toe with one of them, and cut a deep swath into the mummy. The strength with which the undead creature slammed back in retaliation almost took Saris off his feet, and he found himself revolted by the touch of the creature’s petrified skin. The other one got a good slam in, too.

Again Ornrik boldly presented his holy symbol, and both the undead turned to flee. Saris took the opportunity to land one more blow on the one he had already damaged. It fell to the ground spilling dust and dried herbs from its body cavity.

At a fork in the cavern, Ornrik followed the escaping mummy while Saris went the other direction to look for the first. They met on the far side of the circle with Ornrik herding both mummies towards Saris. Hurt as he was, Saris pulled back and exchanged his sword for a crossbow. He was able to drop another mummy (he had no way to know anymore which was which) but the other continued to flee from Ornrik’s holy aura…

… right towards the rest of the party, paralyzed with fear.

“Oh, this could be really bad,” Saris noted as he took aim to fire one more time. Luckily, it struck true and was enough to finish off the undead creature.

Everyone composed themselves, and Urol soothed the horse. Then all spread out throughout the catacomb searching for the blue rod.

“I think I’ve found something,” Ornrik noted, calling everyone over. There was a secret door in a cul-de-sac that did not contain any alcoves.

Beyond the secret door was a chamber; clearly a crypt, dominated by a large stone sarcophagus. Both the walls of the room and the sarcophagus itself were covered in decorative patterns and carvings of animals. The top of the sarcophagus depicted a man dressed in robes, wearing a feathered headdress, and clutching a blue rod in one hand and a ceremonial dagger in the other.

There were symbols on the wall representing a human and a dog skeleton. Before Urol could speak, Ornrik said, “I believe these are both representations of the Olman god of Death and the undead - Mictlantecuhtli.”

Urol looked closer. “Could be,” he said, clearly surprised, “I did not even know that, I must admit. I am impressed.” He then began examining the walls more closely. “This chap,” he said, reading the hieroglyphics and indicating the sarcophagus, “was an Olman shaman named Teonahwanhi. He blessed the creation of Dark Mountain Pass and volunteered to be buried alive within it in order to appease the often fickle and capricious nature of their deities in hopes of ensuring the complex’s safety and longevity.”

“It seems to have worked, Skald said from outside the crypt. He stood at the threshold with Diamondback and Avner as Urol, Ornrik, Saris and Viselys examined the crypt.

“Well, let’s get to it,” Saris said, moving up next to the sarcophagus. “Viselys, you get that side.”

“Wait,” Ornrik said. “You know there’s a mummy in there, and it’s likely to be tougher then the last three stooges we encountered. Let me give you some magical propping up before you do that.” He cast his spells of armor and strength, blessing and augmentations. Then he levitated up to get a better vantage for the expected battle. “Okay, now.” With that, Viselys and Saris moved the lid aside.

Suddenly the floor became alive. From small holes beneath centuries of dust, spears shot up to the ceiling. Saris, Viselys and Ornrik were each hit by six spears, while Urol, perhaps because of his size, only took three. The spears were tipped with poison, but perhaps the centuries had weakened their potency because none of the injured were done in by it. Of course, the physical damage from the bronze tipped wooden shafts was quite enough. Viselys and Saris were both still able to stand, though grievously wounded, but Urol and Ornrik were both incapacitated.

Saris let fly with a series of curses. “Well, the little guy's out, but not dead,” he said, checking on Urol. “How about you guys?”

“I’ll live,” Viselys said, making a surreptitious sideways glace towards Diamondback in the doorway.

“How about you, Ornrik?” Saris asked, looking around from Urol, “Ornrik?” He scanned all the way around him until his eyes stopped on Viselys, who pointed up at the ceiling.

There, hovering nearly 40 feet up, several spears hanging from him, floated the unconscious body of the dwarf.

“Great!” Saris said, pulling a length of rope from his backpack, “Both healers are unconscious. That one could be dead or dying, and he’s floating like a kite out of reach!

“So how you going to get him down?” Viselys asked, wincing at his injuries.

Saris just held up the rope, into which he had tied a lasso. He gauged the distance, swept low and hurled the rope up catching Ornrik by the foot.

Viselys nodded, clearly impressed, “Wow, you’re pretty skilled with a rope.

“Sailors usually are, if they intend to survive at sea,” he replied. He tested the rope by pulling on it, trying to determine if he could climb it. The resistance was probably enough to hold him, but it seemed spongy. Not knowing enough about magic, he wasn’t sure he wanted to risk climbing 40 feet up and having the magic fail. “Hey, help me out with this,” he said to Viselys. The two of them together were able to pull Ornrik down and hold him.

Diamondback used her healing prayer bead to awaken Ornrik who, then, dispelled the levitation and immediately began treating the wounded, including himself.

When Viselys and Saris were patched up enough, they went back to the sarcophagus and looked closely at it’s occupant. The mummy held a silver dagger and the blue rod just as the painting on the lid depicted. Around his neck was a golden medallion inset with a shining pink pearl. Ornrik took in the scene with his monocle.

“Hmm, a Pearl of Power,” Ornrik mumbled.

“How do we know there aren’t any more booby traps?” Saris asked.

“Or that this guy isn’t going to wake up?” Viselys added.

“I don’t detect Evil from him,” Ornrik offered.

Avner had finally had enough. In a huff, he stormed into the room, “You already set off the trap. If he was going to sit up and say ‘hi’ he’d have done so by now. Is this what we’re looking for?” Without even waiting for an answer, he reached in, grabbed the rod and walked out. “What’s so difficult about that? We’ve been under this mountain for almost three days putzing about! I swear, if I wasn’t here…” his voice trailed off as he moved farther down the hall towards the room with the two pillars.

Saris just rolled his eyes, “Yep. I guess we’re done here.”

They all headed out of the crypt, but Ornrik went back and grabbed the pendant, “Sorry, buddy. I need this more than you do.” Then he darted out, closing the secret door behind him. As it clicked into place, he heard the sound of the sarcophagus lid moving, and the mechanical sound of the trap resetting itself.

Avner had already inserted the blue rod into the recess in the blue pillar, but was unable to do anything else until Ornrik arrived with the red rod. With both levers properly installed, they were able to work the mechanism to open the great iron doors.

The doors opened with a screech of protest, flooding the chamber with fresh salt air from the world outside. Beyond the doors was a broad set of seaweed-choked stairs that led down to a small beach.

With the doors opened, Urol could get a better look at the mechanism. “At high tide, the water level gets nearly up to the doors. I’ll bet that’s why these doors were built, to keep the cavern from flooding.” He examined beyond the doors and the stairs until he found some other part of the mechanism he was looking for, “Yes, see? The doors were designed to automatically close at high tide. Or, more precisely, to open at low tide. The mechanism failed, probably from rust, and the doors were stuck closed; a fail-safe to protect the cavern in just such an eventuality. However, the rod and pillar system was also put in place as a manual release for such a circumstance. These Olman were clever, clever engineers!”

“Hooray,” Avner said, hollowly, breezing past him to down the stairs.

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Everyone continued on to the beach. No sooner had they set foot in the sand, the ground began to shift as three giant crabs stood from their low-tide resting spots.

“Oh, boy,” Saris said, grabbing his sword…

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