After a pitched battle with the Sehuagin, Captain Foamrider brought the fleet to the Freeport of Mintarn for repairs and resupply. Before they could settle in Jamna Gleamsilver approached the Spices with a job offer. A group of Zhentarim ‘archaeologists’ has gone missing on a nearby island while investigating a tomb. She was tasked with the recovery of the team and their goods, but intends to finish their mission as well. She needs muscle, hero muscle… Spice muscle! The area of Mintarn is lorded over by a ornery ancient red dragon named Hoondarrh and she had no intention of ending up in his belly. Having a week to kill, the Spices decided to make some coin while they waited for the Lonely Son’s repairs to be completed.
Jamna commissioned a small sailing vessel to take them to the somewhat remote island where the tomb was said to be located. Besides an attack by a pair of hungry Perytons the voyage was uneventful. By mid afternoon they had beached their vessel and made their way to the far side of the island. They were surprised to find a group of sailors from the Howling Hound on the beach as they rounded a rocky outcropping.
The sailors had heard tales of a great stag with a coat of pure gold that made it’s home on the island. They promptly took to the woods to search for and slay the beast. The Spices decided to join them and before long Jarrus Stormrider and an invisible Rowen Evenwood found their quarry. Amazed by the beauty of the golden stag, Rowan could not raise her hand against the beast. With the help of Ossendar Osterius they persuaded the stag that they meant it no harm. The creature then beckoned the Spices, seemingly asking them follow it into a nearby ruin.
They followed, and once they promised not to slay it for profit it revealed a divination, saying “Though much pain lays yet before you, stay true to your path and follow the river of Gold to the castle in the sky.” The stag then offered them an Elvish Songbow to aid them in their quest and thanked them for their mercy.
The Spices reached their destination by late afternoon. The Zhentarim expedition’s camp was pristine, but deserted. The camp laid just outside a great cave opening along the craggy seashore. Jamna noticed that the tracks of the archaeologists led directly to the cave opening.
The Spices carefully investigated the cave and found a gruesome but puzzling scene inside. The expedition members were found all dead on the cave floor, their battered bodies covered with blisters and apparently drowned as well. A great door stood at the far end of the cavern above which read in dwarven script “Here Lies Kugag, Beloved Betrayer. Endure as he and you may pass” and four pillars of unique construction stood at it’s center. On each pillar a riddle was written in a different language:
A smooth blue stone pillar with a basin protruding from it read in Celestial, “I look flat, but I am deep, Hidden realms I shelter. Lives I take, but food I offer. No man can own me, yet I encompass what all men must have.”
A intricately carved sandstone pillar with a small hole carved in it read in Primordial “Born of cold and born of heat. Pacing the world on legs fleet. Swiftest on high, lethargic down low. The actions are seen, but the form does not show.”
A roughly hewed granite pillar with a jagged recess read in dwarven script, “I wear a crown of white and a shirt of green. My heart is heavy and hard, though I know no sorrows. To the sea I march day by day and yet I never reach it.”
Finally, a jet-black glassy pillar with a notch in it had writing that nobody could decipher, so the Spices decided to rest the night while Rowan brushed up on her Comprehend Languages Spell.
Shortly before dawn the Spices were awoken by the sound of howling wolves in the distance and quickly came under assault by a pair of Dire Wolves and their wolf pack. The massive beasts burst forth from the trees and their snapping jaws dug into the Spices where-ever they could. Jarrus was surrounded, but his flashing blades slew many of the wolves before they make a meal of him. Coming to the aid of his companion, Cain Sundersword channeled all the fury of his faith and smote the male Dire Wolf…HARD. With their pack now in ruin, the remaining Dire Wolf fled into the gray morning mist.
Ready for whatever might burst forth from the tombs massive doors, the Spices set about to solve the riddles. Casting her comprehend languages spell on herself, Rowan read the black pillar’s Jotun (giant) speech riddle, “A bound serpent dances on the cave floor. A writhing guardsman of the windy door. Sharp yet supple and mute yet speaking. Devoid of hunger, nourishment seeking.”
The elements of course! But what sequence would spare them the same fate as the last expedition? With no obvious course before them the Spices decided…to hell with it! Cain poured his flagon worth of seawater into the blue pillar’s basin. What’s the worst that could happen, right? The cave mouth immediately sealed them in by some hidden mechanism and water burst forth from the tomb’s ceiling and began to rapidly fill the room. Sensing a slight weakness in their plan, Cain scooped up a torch from a fallen researcher, lit it and placed it into the black pillar’s notch. Immediately the water and the air in the room began to feel much warmer and several of the party began to feel the heat. Jarrus reached down and scooped up some sand from the cave floor and stuffed it into the granite recess, causing the ceiling to begin dropping down toward them! Time seemed short as the water deepened, the ceiling began to drop while the temperature climbed. Jamna swam down to the remaining air pillar and blew into it as hard as she could. Arcane light burst forth up from the cave floor, revealing an unseen portal circle beneath the sands between the pillars. After a blinding flash, Jamna and the Spices found themselves prone on the floor of a great circular room. They could see faintly above them the depths of the ocean through clear crystal. Faint blue light from the far away surface revealed a room with intricately carved reliefs on the walls and a massive humanoid statue at the room’s center. Four dark doorways lined the walls around them… they had arrived in Kugag’s Tomb!