The heroes awoke from their rest and headed directly to house Hyalmar. Led by the seemingly recovered Sindri Stribog, they arrived a short time after departing the inn.
The house was lavish, but a bit smaller than some of the others they had seen in the halfling Capital of Basque. But, like the others, it had a gated fence surround the premises and a bell to be rung. Knowing Neo enjoyed ringing bells, though not exactly why, Al’ev indicated the armored man should pull on the rope so as to announce their presence. He did so and they didn’t have to wait long before a well dressed man approached the gate from the direction of the house. This man asked what their business was and Sindri quickly pointed out he belonged to house Stribog and was seeking a visit with house Hyalmar’s masters.
The heroes were allowed entrance and after a short wait inside a well decorated room, they were greeted by house Hyalmar’s master. After dancing about the issue a while, the heroes disclosed that they were seeking the Sparls, indicating that the adventurers were involved with the declining house shortly before their disappearance. Through this conversation, the heroes learned that house Kashka had taken over the double vote of the twelve house system that ruled the halfling nation of Markstal. They had since enacted several laws that were not much liked by some in the populace by buying off many of the other house votes. This meant that the heroes had very powerful enemies within the nation, but it was a problem they’d have to deal with at a later time.
While this conversation was happening, T’lemya spotted a pair of people watching the proceedings in the room from behind a hidden door that was disguised as a bookcase. She pointed this out and Al’ev quickly called their observers out.
It turned out that Mr. and Mrs. Sparl were watching the group, testing to make sure that they were who they claimed to be. The heroes explained why they had returned and asked for aid in bringing their dead friend Velius back to the land of the living. The Sparls said that they heroes would need a very large Diamond, explaining that they had to sell their home in order to get two for their children. The heroes asked where they could get such an item and they were directed to a merchant within Basque.
Before leaving, the heroes promised to return for dinner, and again when they had finished retrieving their diamond so they could attend the ceremony Al’ev promised that they would.
The heroes left to find the merchant, following Neo who seemed to have a good grasp on where they needed to go. They found the woman and a hooded man in conversation. Waiting for a pause, Neo inserted himself into their talk and asked for what they were seeking, large diamonds. The woman, Carena, told Neo that she was out of stock, the last two just recently being purchase. Neo asked where she got her supply, but the woman was unwilling to reveal that information. Seizing upon what he heard, Al’ev offered to return with several diamonds so that they could replenish her stock, helping both parties out. At this, the woman looked over to the hooded man and, calling him Cassius, told him he’d be out of business if the heroes had their way.
Crim crept forward and “accidentally” knocked Cassius’s hood from his head. The heroes caught a quick glimpse of very pale skin before the man quickly threw his hood back on. The heroes eventually agreed to follow Cassius to a location where he was getting his gems the following morning.
Then, stopping only for Velius’s body along the way, they returned to House Hyalmar for dinner, then found a peaceful rest soon afterwards. The following morning, they left Velius in the care of house Hyalmar and set out to meet up with Cassius.
They found the man waiting upon a horse. The heroes asked where it was they were heading and they learned that they were to return to the desert.
In the month and a half since the heroes had freed the air elemental from the elemental planes the desert winds that had ever been a constant had seized. As a direct result, the desert was now shrinking and revealing several long hidden secrets. The location of these diamonds was one such secret.
The heroes decided that instead of covering half the continent on foot, a portal would be much quicker. With Sindri remember the word to the portal in The Crystal Room in the Desert, the heroes were able to instantly travel much closer to their destination.
After T’lemya’s attempt to unsuccessfully find gems that Crim had mentioned would help her out, Neo offered her several. Crim helped the shy tiefling by taking them from Neo and handing them to her. It was no secret that T’lemya and Neo didn’t exactly get along. Al’ev watched this occur with a smile, seeing that his allies were starting to show signs of more cohesiveness without his intervention.
The heroes scrambled their way out of the tomb of dragons and begun a long two day journey to Cassius’s diamond source.
They entered and quickly found a curious scene before them. Three doorways, all in different conditions welcomed them. The one to the west looked like it had been bashed in. The one to the north and directly in front of them looked more or less like normal. The one to the east appeared to be a secret door, though it was currently open. All around the room Harry saw the claw-prints and footprints of creatures. Between Al’ev and Harry, they were able to narrow down the clawed marks to two possible creatures. The larger ones were a bit more difficult to discern.
The heroes closed the door to the north and decided to venture into the east wing first, Cassius leading the way and saying he had found the diamonds in their first.
The heroes followed and soon found themselves in combat with the owners of the claw-prints, troglodytes. Combat was quick as the enclosed spaces made for limited maneuvering room. Eventually the heroes found that this direction had nothing to offer, beyond a few hints at who these ruins were created by. They returned to the first room and decided to try the northerly direction.
Again encountering more enemies, the heroes allowed them to file down a confined hallway as they picked them off one by one. Then they found that they were facing at cave giant. This foe attempted to use rocks and hit them from a distance, but Neo easily shrugged these stones off. Al’ev and Blasphemy answered with explosives and Harry followed it up by charging down the hall and smashing the giant with his hammer. The final foe vanquished, they continued their search. Harry and T’lemya located several hidden doors and switches. They opened these and beyond them the heroes were able to locate two octagonal objects that had drawings of opening doors on them.
It was suggested that they may be keys for doors further into the ruins and they decided to take the two objects with them as they continued their search.
The north direction gave them the option to go up to a second level. But after T’lemya heard something up there, they decided to try the final remaining direction on this level, the west where the busted in door was.
The next obstacle in their way was no less than two chained to the ground dire bears. From what the heroes could see, they would have to get rid of the beasts if they were to continue on in this direction. With considerable effort, and after Neo found out just how dangerous these beasts to could be, the heroes finished off the second one and prepared to move on when they heard a loud roaring from the next room they had yet to enter.
T’lemya had enough time to move to the doorway and peak around and see a large form barreling towards the heroes.
She retreated and a two headed, dual wielding giant ettin burst through the doorway, finding himself among the heroes.
Combat again begun and the heroes, somewhat weary from already having three fights under their belts in the past several minutes, rose to the challenge. It was a quick, but hard fought battle. Daggers and hammers struck hard. A whip lashed out to disarm the hulking monster. Desira did her best to heal the wounded heroes struck by the clubs in the monster’s hands. In the end, several powerful explosive vials collided with the ettin and it fell to the ground dead.
The heroes looked at one another, relieved to see that they had not lost anyone, and agreed that they needed to rest up before continuing further into these ruins. They returned outside and set up camp, taking time to rest and prepare themselves to venture further in a few hours.
Their rest was interrupted after a short time by a pair of large lumbering figures stumbling forth in the darkness of the night.
The alarm was raised and the heroes were quick to rise and meet their enemies, two large cave giants. Able to keep one of the giants out of the fight, they made quick work of the first and when the second fled back into the desert cave, the heroes gave chase, following the creature to the door of the room that T’lemya had warned them away from. The heroes chose to return back to camp and finish resting up before venturing any further.
The rest of the night was uneventful and the rested heroes proceeded back into the place of diamonds, returning to the room they had fought the dire bears in. There they found only small pieces of the creatures remaining. Harry was able to determine it was likely the work of the same creatures they had fought before after examining what little remained of the fallen ettin as well.
The heroes moved on, finding little more of interest until Harry entered a circular room and managed to trigger a runic trap. This trap flared to life and summoned a minotaur which promptly rushed the dwarf broadsiding him with its massive frame. The heroes all rushed in and fought a quick battle with the beast. A short time later, they stood over another vanquished foe, eyes much more open to the possibility of more traps.
A short time after this, the heroes had followed a natural cave that branched off of the handcrafted ruins they found themselves in. It led into a small cavern covered with faintly glowing lichen. In the center was a pool of water which Crim was quick to explore.
The ninja swam to the bottom of the pool and discovered a small tunnel underwater. He followed its length and soon found himself in another room. This one had a skeleton of a long dead being perched against the wall. The dead body was clutching another of the octagonal key objects. Grabbing this and making note of strange writing above the dead being’s head, he returned to the rest of the heroes and convinced them to have a closer look at the writing.
Several followed Crim back into the room and the writing turned out to be in Sylvan. It spoke of the key always running through this person’s fingers. Indeed this key did seem to have some enchantment upon it for once they heroes removed it from the previous room and brought it through the water, it turned into water itself only returning to its original shape upon falling back into the pool.
The heroes knew they would likely need the key in the not too distant future and so starting thinking of ways they may be able to transport it should they need to use it. Determining that they could always come back for it, they group continued on.
Eventually they came to a room covered in webs and soon found themselves in combat with a pair of very large spiders, which turned out to have very hairy and venomous hides. It took a couple minutes after the fight had ended for a few of the less fortunate heroes to regain control of their stomachs. When they had, the group continued on until they found themselves at another door requiring a key.
It was clear that this door needed the key they had left in the pool and so with a bit of team effort, they returned to the pool, recovered the key as well as water to put it in. Then then came back to this door and placed the key inside.
The door opened as though it were water and the heroes continued forward.
Harry took the lead and soon noticed several weakened looking sections in the stone walls on either side of the hallway. Bringing his hammer to bare, a few swings made short work of the first wall. What he found was a war-hammer that, upon closer examination by others within the group, was identified as a holy object, one that was aligned with the good deities. This hammer was passed along to Neo, who the heroes felt would be best suited to wielding it.
Harry repeated his wall smashing two more times. The second wall hid nothing in the room beyond. But the third hid a war-hammer that was diametrically opposed to the one that Neo now held. Blasphemy decided to pick hang onto it, while others in the group who recognized the deities on the weapon couldn’t help but eye it warily.
Finding no more of interest, the heroes continued forward until they found themselves in another room with multiple directions in which they could go. Left, Right, and forward. The door forward was locked with a serious looking lock mechanism that seemed to require a conventional key, thus ruling this direction out for the time being. The path left seemed to gently slant downwards. The path to the right was a narrow hallway and was the direction they chose to follow first.
After walking for several minutes in an every decreasing spiral of left hand turns, the heroes arrived at an end to the hall where only a shield with a butterfly upon it sat. Only Sindri was able to make his way through the narrow passage to the shield. He grabbed it and the heroes reversed direction returning to the room with the locked door and slanting pathway.
Caramel wasted no time in heading for the slanting pathway, but just as she was about to enter the hall, she tripped a wire and alerted her companions at what had happened. Al’ev, taking into account that it was obviously a trap and that it was meant to be triggered by someone heading downhill, looked up at the ceiling and quickly located a false panel. He promptly pulled Caramel out from under it and warned the others.
Shortly after this, large rocks crashed through and pounded down into the ground where the adventurers had stood moments before. The rocks tumbled down the downward slanting hall and out of sight. When the avalanche had concluded, the heroes decided to head down the hall, except Crim who insisted on investigating where the rocks had come from. He was given an arrow of light and then he jumped up to the ceiling where he disappeared into the chute the rocks had appeared from.
Meanwhile, the heroes followed the sloped path to its bottom where the rocks had all piled up against what appeared to be another door. While most of the heroes piled rocks on either side of the door trying to clear a path, Sindri continued forward using his magic and passed through the rubble and door all together. In the room beyond, the halfling found a pair of keys. But these keys, he discovered upon picking them up, turned out to be cursed. He was unable to let go of them after his skin touched them. He returned to the group just as they finished opening the doorway and Desira was able to remove the keys with a couple spells.
The heroes set them aside then several moved into the room that Sindri had just exited, intent on exploring everything in case the halfling missed something. It was at this point when Crim rejoined them, having found nothing of interest beyond some leather straps.
The pinging of evil while finding another three cursed keys in the room beyond was the only indication that they had indeed stumbled upon something the halfling had missed. And it was no wonder when shortly after the final key was picked up, three of the adventurers were attacked by hidden adversaries who appeared to be invisible.
Al’ev was quick to take away their enemy’s advantage when he showered the room with golden dust that clung to everyone within the area, including those who were invisible. Combat ensued, but these enemies appeared to have the ability to teleport about. It was a rough fight, but the adventurers emerged victorious. As the final skeletal enemy fell to Harry’s hammer, another key appeared in its remains, this one was not cursed.
The heroes took this key to the main room and used it to unlock a few doors that lay between them and another room. This room appeared to be quite grand, with a large fountain containing pure water in its center. To the left, another door. To their right, an archway with grand decorations adorning it. On the archway was more writing in Sylvan.
“The name of the rainbow rings true.” Al’ev read out loud.
The heroes kept this in mind as they proceeded through the archway and found themselves in a room covered in mud. Rays of light shone through slits carved into one side. The rays hit the opposite wall. A large statue, also covered in mud, appeared to be the only other obvious item of note within.
Al’ev, recalling the writing from a previous room in the dungeon which stated something about cleaning what was dirty to reveal the path, suggested they try to clean the mud off of a few things around the room and see if anything was hidden.
Sindri started drenching the room, though thankfully it was with magic and not his own bodily fluid for once. He first poured water over the statue which, curiously, emitted steam when the water hit it. This drew Al’ev’s attention and he began walking over to that side of the room as Sindri continued revealing more and more of what lay beyond the mud.
Then Harry saw a button and decided to hit it.
Seven slits opened in the wall that was being illuminated by the rays. Within each sat mud covered objects that appeared bell shaped. Seeing this, and the statue’s arm beginning to move, Al’ev put the two lines of Sylvan together and yelled to everyone to get the bells cleaned off. The heroes began to move to do just that when the statue’s weapon burst into flame.
Al’ev put himself in the way of the giant, drawing his whip and casting a shield spell as the heroes who had been outside of the mud room came in. Quick communication between them allowed the heroes to work together to clean of the bells while Al’ev and Cassius attempted to keep the metallic construct busy.
The construct was a vicious opponent, proving to be extremely accurate in short order. Throwing out all of his defensive magic, Al’ev was still unable to halt the metal behemoth’s blows. The construct was even able to see through invisibility and, in the moment Al’ev was recovering from a blow that left him bloody, it turned to Cassius and crushed the hero’s guide beneath its flaming blade. It was not immune to losing its balance, however, and Al’ev was more than happy to demonstrate this with precision magic and a whip. The metalic foe fell to its face as the magus backed away a few feet.
The bells, the heroes noticed, all turned out to be in different colors of the rainbow. It also became apparent that they had to hit each bell in the right order. Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet. Working together, they accomplished this just as Cassius fell unconscious and Al’ev managed to trip up the construct for a second time.
Just as the final bell rang out, the heroes watched as rainbow colored magic shields dissolved from two of the doors in the room and from around the behemoth. They turned back towards where Al’ev was backing away from his foe, whip flashing, to see him trip up his opponent once more with a loud crashing noise.
The magus was in bad shape, that was obvious from across the room, but he was somehow still standing. They rushed to his aid, and before the enemy construct could return to its metallic feet once again, it fell victim to an onslaught of blows, the final of which being Harry’s hammer which crushed the metal of its head. It fell to the ground just as Al’ev received a healing spell from Caramel.
Then the construct exploded into steam propelled shrapnel, catching all of the heroes before they could escape its range. When the air cleared, Cassius and Al’ev were not moving.
Then Caramel’s final bit of magic from her performance kicked in and the magus slowly stirred back to consciousness.
Cassius, however, appeared to be beyond healing and the heroes were silent a few moments before they decided to continue their search of the remainder of the ruins.
They found several items and interesting rooms along the way, but beyond one of the last doors they looked behind was a statue holding a very large diamond.
Hoping this would be all they needed to bring Velius back to the land of the living, they took the diamond and prepared to return to Basque…