Dear Diary…the echo of water dripping in a cave pool

Alert: May contain spoilers for the adventure “Descent Into the Depths of the Earth”

Had a bit quieter afternoon. The path continued without any passable off-shoots, eventually opening out into a vast cavern. The ceiling was so high our lights couldn’t reach it, and ten or twelve yards to one side, the slab of rock we walked on dropped into a chasm. Off in the distance, things glowed – like some of the sea creatures we’ve seen in murals…likely one of the strange fungi they have down here.

On the edge of the drop-off sat a pyramid of black stone, probably 120 feet tall. Some kind of worn-down path led to it, but I’m sure it hadn’t been used for centuries. I’ve never seen so much dust piled up in one place…there’s no wind down here.

Mikael had summoned his rock elemental for extra manpower, so Ezekiel insisted we investigate the pyramid. He said it smelled like vampires…although all I smelled was something like dry, dry animal leavings.

We disturbed the dust on the path to the pyramid, and hesitated outside the black, yawning doorway to check for traps. Ezekiel finally stepped forward with his cleric senses up, and cast light into the central chamber of the pyramid. We all jumped a little, I think, when a cloud of bats – millions, probably – swarmed out of the pyramid. They poured out of the door, and from some opening on the opposite side, rising like a dark cloud above the pyramid and disappearing into the invisible space of the cavern.

Once the evacuation was over, Ezekiel and Agnar could examine the interior of the pyramid. The entire floor was coated with guano – probably a foot deep or more. I didn’t see any lumps that might indicate furniture or anything else under it, but a dozen or so yards from the entryway, the floor dropped away into the chasm below…and a dozen or so yards beyond that, the far wall of the pyramid came down and hung in mid-air. All over the ceiling were symbols of some kind, but even Aliana couldn’t read them.

Raven waded through the dusty debris, belayed with a rope, and said a second floor jutted out below the first one, the one we were standing on, and there might be another door underneath us leading back into the pyramid, to ankther level. He didn’t recommend anyone else come see, because besides being gross, the floor also sloped gently toward the bottomless abyss.

Ezekiel was so eager, though, that Mikael suggested his earth elemental could clear a path through the guano so we could reach the edge and lower ourselves on ropes. (I guess the elementals can “wade” through the stone, so they can’t exactly fall off the edge like we can. That worked great, except that I hope whoever lives at the bottom of the abyss never finds out who we are.)

We secured some ropes and rappelled down (although Lydia used her staff, I think to show off). The shelf below is much like the floor above, except the guano is concentrated in a pile directly below the drop-off (I’m glad most of it is centuries old, and just smells musty).

As Raven had said, there was a second door. It led to a room with an altar before a stone sarcophagus – both piled high with dust. Ezekiel pointed out that any blood from the altar would flow into a channel along the side, which I guess means the owners were very tidy…and also capable of flight or climbing, unless there used to be another side to the pyramid.

Ezekiel told us to hug Clatrial, while Aliana and Raven helped him open the coffin. Agnar said if he hugged Clatrial, she’d stab him, and Ezekiel was explaining that if we found a vampire that’d be the least of our problems, but I told Agnar it wasn’t just him, and she’s just not a feelings-kind of woman, so then he consented to wait back with us, provided Ezekiel saved him some of the fighting.

Turns out there wasn’t any fighting to be had. The sarcophagus had nothing but dirt in it, which Ezekiel said was prepared by a vampire for “reasons.” He sprinkled holy water in it, then we asked the earth elemental to kindly dump it and chuck it down the bottomless abyss.

I told Ezekiel, vampire or no, nobody’s been here for years…and he said a vampire with multiple coffins would be powerful indeed. He explained a lot more about it to Raven, and they compared stories they’d heard, but I was busy helping everyone back up the ropes.

We finally continued following the path, which is fine with me, as I’m not eager to tangle with vampires.

Had an uneventful few hours’ walk. A group of something big and winged flew overhead, too fast and too dark for us to see what they were. Other than that, we haven’t seen anything…which kind of bothers me all by itself. This place is huge.

Spending the night in the fortress. Very thankful to have it, even if it does have some dents in it.

****

Slow, uneventful day, yet exhausting for all that. When we got up in the morning (what I assume is morning), I found 75 distinct foot-marks, not all of them feet I could easily identify, plus some groups of creatures that passed by together. It seems we’ve been traveling during the off-hours, while “rush hour” was while we were sleeping. Odd that none of our sentries noticed anything. The denizens of this place are sneaky indeed, which disturbs me. They could have been all around us all day without us knowing it!

Raven said that 75 creatures meant he and Agnar each got 35, with some “extra” for the rest of us, and Clatriel was not amused. Just because Aliana could take that many, doesn’t mean she wouldn’t be a lady and share with someone else. But we got distracted from that argument when Agnar shook down each of the sentries demanding why we didn’t wake him up for the scuffle, and we had to assure him there was no scuffle actually.

The day has been grating on several of us. The path keeps dropping in large steps, up to my waist or more, and we have to climb down each time. Sometimes the ground is wet from a trickle through the cracks of the earth, or from the passage of some slimy beast. Lydia has her staff of levitation, which helps for her, of course, but Aliana was getting slower toward the end of the day. I don’t think anyone else noticed.

Worst of all is when a chasm opens up beside the path, on one side or another, and we have to slow to a crawl as we move past. Even Raven couldn’t survive a fall like that. I asked Agnar if they had treacherous pits where he was from, and he told a long story about his uncles who liked to trip the kids into shallow pits and then laugh.


Find the previous entry here.

2 thoughts on “Dear Diary…the echo of water dripping in a cave pool

  1. Pingback: Dear Diary...the first outpost - Kimia Wood

  2. Pingback: Dear Diary...enemy of my enemy is worse enemy? - Kimia Wood

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *