Arlynn steps out onto the balcony overlooking the pool to investigate the raised voices. She spies several additional figures among the Shoanti waiting with the horses, including the looming shape of Krojun Eats-What-He-Kills. She hollers her discovery to the others and asks them to join her in speaking with the barbarians.
Slim and Zandu, however, are eerily obsessed with translating the runes and spend a moment bickering with one another over who should go back. Arlynn impatiently calls for them to join her and a confused Irabeth shouts back that “There appears to be some disagreement.”
Finally giving up on the others, Arlynn starts to walk towards the Shoanti when two figures in chitinous red armor drop from the ceiling to either side of her.
“Guys, you should really get out here!” the paladin calls.
Steel clangs against steel as the two Red Mantis assassins lash out with their sawtoothed sabers and Arlynn’s blood spills on the black granite floor.
Do Not Disturb the Water
As the sounds of battle ring out across the darkened Acropolis, Slim and Zandu remain unable to pull themselves away from the enrapturing runes. Remmy gives them a concerned look, but instead dashes down the hall in her clanking armor towards the fighting.
Out in the main chamber, Kyra slides out to flank one of the assassins. Egan attempts to baleful polymorph their foe, but the red-clad killer manages to shake off the spell. As the chanting and clashing echoes around the chamber, the entire Acropolis rumbles and shakes and the water in the pool begins to churn.
From across the room, Krojun chastises the meddlesome tshamek for awaking the evil that dwells in this cursed place.
“I fear no monster,” Arlynn declares.
“Then you are a fool!” Krojun retorts.
Kyra stabs one of the assassins in the thigh, then leans around him to look at Arlynn and put a finger to her lips.
Riddles in the Dark
In the rune chamber, Irabeth attempts to rouse Slim but grows frustrated by his lack of response. Finally, she just grabs him.
“Sharamûl tarbûrz!” she groans as she hauls him out of the room. “Story time’s over.”
“No, let me go, I almost have it figured out!” the rogue protests, squirming against her kraken-like grip. Once he’s in the hall out of sight of the runes, his senses return to him and after thanking the half-orc, he begins to move stealthily down the hall.
Irabeth next drags Zandu out into the hallway to get him free of the runes as well. Just as she sets him down, Ashla coughs and gestures at the ceiling.
“It looks like we’ve got a bug problem,” she says. Looking at the two Kuthites, she adds “You want to do something about that?”
Then Ashla turns and runs down the hall.
Sial nods at Asyra and the chain devil casts a spell that causes one of the two assassins clinging to the ceiling to clutch at his throat. The Shadowcount’s own magic is less effective against the other one. Both retreat out into the hall to attack Slim
Fingers of an Unseen Hand
Two long, green tentacles emerge from the water and begin groping blindly around the chamber. A Red Mantis Assassin is nearly grabbed by one tendril and all the combatants edge away from the balcony overlooking the pool. The second tentacle brushes up against the Sihedron rune on the the double doors facing the rune chamber hallway, causing the doors to slide open.
Reaching inside, the tentacle snares Zandu. Gripped in its slimy embrace, the sorcerer’s psyche is suddenly bombarded with impossible imagery of noneuclidean geometry, threatening to rend his mind apart. But amid the meaningless chaos, he is able to latch onto a pattern and peer into a deeper understanding of the weave of magic that runs through the world. Though the pattern begins to fade as soon as he sees it, for the next while he is able to imbue his spells with a degree of power beyond his natural ability.
However, it is Asyra and Sial who free him from the tentacle, lashing it with spiked chains until it releases him and slithers back into the dark water. Unfortunately, as Zandu backs away from the open doors, a fifth Red Mantis assassin emerges from a side corridor and shanks him in the back. Irabeth turns to confront the new threat.
While Arlynn, Kyra, and Remmy kill one Red Mantis and gang up on the other, the remaining two assassins attack Slim in the narrow corridor. Remmy races up the corridor to assist him and together they are able to turn the table on the killers. When the assassins try to move down to support their beleaguered sister to the south, Remmy knocks one of them flat and finishes him off. Slim returns to the hall in front of the rune room to help Irabeth and Zandu against their foe.
More tentacles erupt from the pool, fumbling about the chamber in search of targets. One of them grips Arlynn, whiled another stretches out to the other side of the chamber and snags hold of Slim’s horse. The boneslayers try to evacuate the other horses back up the stairs, but they can’t take them too far because the emberstorm is still raging outside.
It’s at this point that Egan begins using his druidic magic to start systematically sealing off the pools. He rescues the horse by casting wall of stone over the southern end of the pool, forcing the tentacles there to retreat back into the water. Next, the druid casts spiked growth around most of the northern end of the pool, forcing the majority of the tendrils into retreat.
With the last of the mantids finally dispatched, the party hunkers down to wait out the tentacle beast, with Slim and Irabeth safely in the west hallway and everyone else in the Illumacone room to the east. After about twenty minutes, the last of the tentacles sinks below the pool and the party (quietly) regroups.
Let’s Check the Map
Slim takes the opportunity to confer with Krojun. The hulking Sklar-Quah warrior says that he and his companions took shelter in the ruin to avoid the emberstorm. He asks what the Crimson Blades are doing in this dark and accursed place, aside from waking its unfathomable horrors. Slim says that they are exploring it as part of a quest that no tshamek before them ever dared undertake. Krojun snorts dismissively, but won’t stand in their way if they want to keep poking around the Acropolis “like those stargazing Desnans of the Lyrune-Quah.” He does ask them not to stir up the creature in the pool again.
Back in the Illumacone room, the party has Slim assemble the map of the facility. When the wedges are aligned correctly and the circle is placed in the illumacone, the emerald light rising from below projects a diagram onto the ceiling. Examining the map, the Crimson Blades realize that the chambers they have seen so far were once part of a much larger facility. Looking closely, they see that the illumacone shaft descends 70 feet to a smaller set of rooms below. One room appears to be the home of the sacred globe they are searching for, while the map depicts another room that looks like it has been sealed shut by a heavy stone plug.