Wednesday, 15th June 1498 – Night
The first chamber we encounter when we proceeded deeper into the caverns turned out to be a trap. Water flooded the caves and Zamas was drowned by sinuous, thirsting leeches. An unfortunate end for our new companion but we were able to entomb his lifeless body in one of the sarcophagi that had been broken open. At least he may have some rest here.
We seemed to not be the only ones who were lost in the maze however as a druid named Shanae arrived to assists us against the leeches. She seems far from home and the implication of her arrival is staggering. This infernal maze must stretch for miles in all directions, or else all space is meaningless to it.
Continuing onwards, we found a mercenary named Leera who had fallen foul of one of the malicious traps in this place and had been left for dead. I advised caution, as she was clearly one of Xeron's flunkies, but Guillaume was down that pit like a shot to pour one of our precious potions down her throat. One might think he had taken a liking to he looks! We convinced her that we were working with Xeron, using a contract taken from the earlier encountered goblins, and that she was best of staying with us as the way back would be treacherous. She didn't much seem to care for Xeron so we planned to have her assist us in dispatching him. In return she would gain a measure of payment and revenge for her fallen friend who had not been so lucky!
It seemed that Xeron's group were taking casualties too, and at a rapid pace. Every room we pass through seems to have more horrors to fight through as well as a number of corpses of the large goblin creatures. It definitely seemed like they were rushing through without care for their own. Construct creatures with wicked blades and broods of spiders fell to our swords and magic however as we methodically wound our way through the tombs. Even the Fey who dwelled here chose not to trouble us.
Leera's company proved helpful however. Her knowledge of the history of this place, and her skills in dungeoneering are clearly the reason she was hired and we were able to use her presence to convince more of the goblins to let us pass. Enough confidence and bluster will get you anywhere!
At last we arrived at the final rooms of the complex. Magical, moving pictures depicted key points in the life and death of Hasdrubal. For the first time we seem him as he would have looked when alive – an imposing figure with blonde hair and brandishing a mighty black sword. He is joined in the images by his presumed wife – a sorceress queen with flame-red hair wielding the power of lightning. They are joined by a character we have dubbed the Betrayer – a raven-haired general with two curved swords. We see them defeat some evil beast with great eyes and mouth before the Betrayer cuts Hasdrubal down as the Queen lies mortally wounded.
Unfortunately, the Betrayer was still inhabiting this place. We found a black-haired man sitting on a golden throne not long after and we tried to reason with him, to learn from him. What Guillaume said must have angered however as he leapt to attack! The glamor faded from his form and revealed the truth – a broken, corpse of a man on a stone throne and a crown of rust. He dealt a vicious blow to Lydia, who barely survived and near pinned me into a corner! It is only by the narrowest of margins, and with the help of the others that we were able to defeat him. Guillaume and Lydia took his swords and goods as recompense, although I cautioned against this action.
Finally we came to Xeron himself. With only a single follower remaining, the rest sacrificed to make it this far, he was in the tomb of Hasdrubal, the Queen and their faithful retainers (an elven lady with a green cloak and ivory bow and another tall human with black hair and a salt-and-pepper beard). We backed them into a corner where Xeron revealed his true form as some scaled creature whilst Lydia sowed confusion with her magics until Xeron was left begging for his life. His lies found no purchase in our ears however and Lydia and Leera disabled him using their sorcery before Guillaume ended the fiend.
A tunnel extended further down, although to an unknown destination, but we were too exhausted to continue. We chose to spend the night in this space to regain our strength.
Thursday, 16th June 1498 – Morning
We attempted to make good on our promise to the water guardian, but Guillaume insisted on taking Hasdrubal's black sword from the tomb rather than return it to its rightful place, despite my protests. I warned him that it will be his responsibility if it comes to answering to the guardian.
We returned back through the caverns without incident, making notes about the structure of this place as we went. In particular we found a recurring motif of a Sword, Scroll and Passage.
The presumption is that the Sword is the black blade we now had with us and that the Scroll may be the original of the text we now have inscribed in the crocodile-skin book, but the Passage eludes us.
As we came to finally exit and return to Kingsholme, things took a turn for the worse.
The water guardian was not pleased with an artifact such as the sword being taken from the tombs, and it was contradictory to our agreement, but Guillaume was convinced that it was not safe here. Much discussion was had, but eventually Guillaume decided that a test of might would be the only fair way to determine where it would be best kept. It was certainly an epic combat and Guillaume emerged victorious, although seeming quite drained from the ordeal.
Then the black sword which he was using came to life. It whispered evil things to him, was covered in flame and refused to be sheathed. It called itself the the Weeping God and bade Guillaume to slay more people on the surface. I have never seen such power! Clearly this is an evil thing that should never have been unleashed. After several minutes its power disspiates and it returns to its original, unsuspecting form.
We should have left it back in the tomb, beyond the maze, but Guillaume was like a man possessed. He would not be reasoned with and I fear he'd have struck me down like he did the elemental had I insisted. Lydia clutched her ill-gotten coins tightly and I fear they've both been corrupted by the lure of money and power. Have they so easily forgotten our noble purpose?
We sit back at Kingsholme now, but there is a great unease. The weight of what we've seen and what Guillaume carries hangs over us and I fear it will tear us apart. The power of such a blade is too much for any man to handle and will be coveted by all who seek power – and I doubt many seek power than the royalty of this land or their night orders. They should not be trusted. The sword should have remained forgotten…