You decided as a group that there could be other dangers lurking in these dark passages, and to take a short rest to recuperate a bit before proceeding. Wisely, Dayareth elected to trance for the duration, which allowed him to keep a watchful eye on your surroundings, thus keeping the rest of you safe while you relaxed a bit.
As you started to rouse from your dozing, the Kobolds began to regain consciousness and were dismayed to find that they were trussed up like holiday birds and, as far as they could tell, just as likely to be cooked and eaten. Their wailing only redoubled as you approached, jaws snapping at your outstretched hands in panicky defense. It was the dwarf who finally sat down near them and spoke softly, taking some of his ration and offering it to one of them, and thus calmed them down despite not being able to speak their language. Once they stopped screaming, Adrie the Paladin explained to them that they would not be harmed if they did not attack the party, and started trying to figure out why they were in the halls in the first place.
As best as the draconic speakers could discern, the force that you just defeated were loyalists in a coup carried out by a kobold named Dakka, who usurped the fallen chief’s position and drove them to look for a new home. You also discovered that the gnome, Alvin Grudbunder, apparently invited the kobolds to search for treasure in the tunnels and disable traps. In exchange, they would be offered residence in the caves and halls.
“Kobold-sized-man-thing made bad deal,” the second in command explained, citing the lack of water in the chambers and that there was only one way in – or out – of the place, something the kobold tribe could not abide by.
With this new knowledge, you agreed to free the kobolds and work together to search the chambers as well as, hopefully, a way to get out. The kobolds had run out of water two days prior and you were starting to doubt the integrity of the gnome.
As the kobolds took you to see what they called “Dead Man”, you noted that they had quite expertly flagged or disarmed nearly every trap in the halls. The place where “Dead Man” lay was one trap they did not have to, for the spiked pit had already been tripped by a human man about 4 weeks ago, judging by the stage of decomposition. The kobolds claimed to have searched the man’s belongings and not found anything of value – or any water, for that matter.
At the back of the line, Sleven thought he heard a rasping, rustling sound. After pausing for a moment he declined to mention it to the rest of the group and proceeded down the hall.
At one doorway, the chamber opens up into blackness both above and below. There is no ceiling, with a very faint light coming from above where you could just make out the stairwell you came down. Below there was nothing. Adrie picked up a chunk of broken stone and tossed it into the darkness below, where it vanished into silence for a good 10 seconds or more before a faint clack was heard from below.
As you were about to give up on exploring any of this, the kobolds piped up and pointed out that Adrie’s shield had wedged in the rock about 20 feet down. The paladin vigorously declined trying to retrieve her shield, and Thia did not seem to enjoy the idea of being suspended over nothing. Before you could object, the kobolds produced a length of rope and harnessed up one of their brethren, who climbed down the wall of the abyss and latched on to the shield, whereupon he was hauled up to the top again. “More water!” they demanded.
Without further interruption, the group made it’s way to a huge metal door, upon which was perched a huge, mechanical dragon’s claw. Dayareth, after some inspection, realized that the small bauble you had taken from the gnome’s shop was very similar to the look of this device, but from the angle and the height he was unable to tell where the orb might fit. After some persuasion, Thia was elected to climb up to the top of the claw with the orb and determine where it might fit, and if it could be re-connected. With the help of one of the kobolds, she explained to Dayareth the mechanics of the fittings and what she saw, while he instructed her on what she would need to do to repair the claw. From the look of things, the orb had been pried loose, but fortunately none of the fittings had been damaged in the process.
The orb snapped back into place with a pressurizing hiss and Thia and the kobold quickly climbed down. The claw sat at the top of the door, motionless. At Sleven’s prompting, the kobolds switched the levers to either side of the door to the up position (much to the irritation of the paladin for using them to test the safety of the door). The claw sprung to life, descending to the base of the door and inserting the long talons into three sockets at the door’s base, then heaving upward.
With the door open, two things were apparent. One, that the door was composed of steel and stone, and was a lot thicker than previously imagined. Two, the last person to pass here had not lived to tell the tale. Where the door had been resting was the half-crushed, mummified remains of what appeared to be a humanoid woman, judging by the attire. A ring, which had once been adorned with a ruby, was flattened on the threshold to a paper-thin wafer.
The woman’s other belongings, a belt pouch and a pair of leather boots, were all of value that remained and were quickly pillaged by the kobolds as the party stood gawking at the remains. The creatures were overjoyed to find a flask of water in the pouch and scrambled to take a drink.
While they were distracted, Thia discovered a potion of cure light wounds and a short sword which had come close to having the pommel flattened by the door.
Within the chamber, you discovered that this was the tomb of Sha’Lueth Stoneclaw, also known to mythology as Sha’Lueth the Coward, and his mate Karganaa. A carved stone details the accounts of his disappearance during the war of Bael Turath. Rather than abandon his people in need, he and a few acolytes smuggled dragonborn hatchlings out of the city just before the attacking tiefling forces slaughtered the populace, thus the coward was somewhat of a hero, and many dragonborn bloodlines likely owe their survival to Stoneclaw, even though they have been taught to hold him in contempt.
A small amount of gold in ingot form was discovered, along with an amulet and some kind of icon or family crest. Further, a mysterious staff was found in the sarcophagus of Karganaa the Mystic; it’s powers unknown. The staff seems to make Dayareth very uncomfortable, but Slevin does not seem to be bothered by it and decided to take it.
Thia acquired Karganaa’s platinum ring. Having no magic powers, it was decided that it would be a fairly easy sell that would attract little attention compared to the suits of dragonborn armor at either side of the chamber.
As there seemed nothing left to discover within the chambers, the group decided to try to make their way back up the stairs to see if they could find a way to open the heavy door into Alvin’s shop. Carefully skirting the marked traps, the party made their way back to the chamber where they battled the kobolds earlier. As they approached, a sound met their ears. Difficult as it was to tell the source or nature, it was unsettling all the same. Almost a chewing sound…
It was not long before you all discovered what the sound was, however. You had left the bodies of the fallen kobolds where they fell, which appeared to have attracted droves of massive centipedes! The insects, detecting your presence, moved almost as one and attacked Adrie and Harbek. Slevin entered the chamber and unleashed a fountain of magical flame upon the hoard of insects, Dayareth blasted them with magic, and with the help of the dwarf, the paladin and the druid, the last of the creatures were destroyed.
So now, you are faced with the task of climbing the stairs up to the top and, hopefully, finding a way to get out. Alvin has some explaining to do…