As Malusk rushed everyone except Garrick through the door, the priestess and her giant spider attacked.
“You have meddled for the last time, Horc!” screamed the Drow, seeing the party disappear into the tomb.
Skrie watched as the priestess whispered another spell, no doubt hoping to prevent the party from returning the artifacts. A noxious green cloud billowed into the hallway, some gas seeping into the chamber. Still in the corridor, Garrick succumbed to the poison, falling to his knees, gagging and shaking.
Theren, barely able to see the spider through the cloud, cast another fire spell at the eight-legged nightmare, hitting the spider. The monstrosity screeched and managed to side-step most of the flames, but Skrie could see a portion of its hide smolder. Nearly blinded by the gas, Malusk dashed past the spider, grabbed Garrick, and dragged the choking man into the room. Malusk slammed the door.
“Skrie!” yelled the half-orc, “find them wedges in me pack.”
Dumping the contents of his bag onto the floor, the halfling finally found what she was searching for and tossed Malusk the wedges. She slowly made her way to the altar, opened the silver box, then scrambled up the stone to place the torc, bracers, and tiara on the sculpture.
The statue began glowing with a brilliant white light as a translucent image appeared, hovering above the sarcophagus. Skrie recognized this as the same entity that had insisted they return to Nemeademore. This time, she was much larger and brighter than at the temple on the hill. A bright light swirled around her. It was almost unbearable to look at. Then shadows began insinuating themselves into the light, dimming the brightness.
“I am Rea’Las’Uhn!” boomed a voice, “Bringer of Light, Guardian of the Unliving! You have restored the key and my power.” She closed her eyes her aura reached out. The ghostly figure stopped, the shadow in the light turned darker, and the entity’s face changed to a fearsome image. “Who has desecrated my temple! Who has destroyed my Guardians!” The image looked over at the halfling, wide-eyed and frozen on the statue’s shoulder. Her eyes shifted to the rest of the group in the tomb, then her gaze turned toward the hallway. The light and darkness burst out of her in a wave, penetrating the hallway and rooms outside.
“Ahh!” a loud scream came from the corridor outside the tomb, followed by a loud ~POP~. Then silence filled the crypt once again.
“The creature has fled,” said the figure, looking around the tomb. “She will harm mine no more.”
The ghost stretched upward, the bright silver light getting stronger. “I can feel them all,” she said, reaching out her arms. “The few ancient ones buried here, the hundreds of ancestors, heroes of the Great War, the thousands of warriors in the battlefields.” The light took on a tinge of oily darkness, and the voice boomed louder, “I can feel them all, I can call them all to my aid.”
The light grew brighter, and the shadow disappeared.
“No. NO! I must not repeat our history,” as the light dimmed to a soft glow.
“You have done a great service,” said the figure in normal tones, turning to the party, “and given me a great purpose. The people that tended to Nemeademore may do so no longer. This valley is under my protection; they are no longer needed to tend and protect the ruins. That is my duty. Once you leave this place, all entrances to the tombs below will be sealed,” She waved her arm to encompass the whole of the ruin. “For your deeds here, take these gifts from my Guardians.” The lids of the three sarcophagi of the guardians moved and slid to the floor as a loud ~whomp~ reverberated through the tomb.
Peering into the sarcophagi, Skrie saw a torc, belt, bracers, and a shield. She climbed down from her perch and walked over to the stone coffin. Malusk picked up the shield, comparing it to his. Leaving the old one behind, he strapped the new one to his arm.
“These items offer protection from evil,” said the entity, “may they serve you well in your battles to come.”
“You have our thanks, My Lady,” said Skrie, bowing her head to the ghost.
After stuffing Malusk’s gear back into his pack, the party filled their water bottles from the barrels outside the tomb. Everyone picked up a lantern and filled their oil flasks. The group exited the ruins through the underground tunnel they used to enter the crypt and headed back to their cave.
“I smell smoke,” said Malusk, sniffing the air as they traveled. Looking back toward the village, they saw the barn was ablaze.
“I wonder who did that,” rasped Garrick, still suffering from the effects of the toxic fumes.
Once back at the cave, Skrie used a spell to detect the magic on the items they received from the ancient priestess. Theren then cast a spell on all the items to determine they were imbued with the same incantation.
“Here’s what I can tell,” said Theren, pointing to the items, “each piece has a spell to protect its user from evil. You can activate the spell once a day, but they all have a slightly different activation chant. The inscriptions on the pieces indicate those phrases,” he pointed to the inscriptions engraved on the back of each item. “To activate the shield’s magic,” the mage pointed to the shield Malusk held, “just say ‘Protect me from evil.’”
“‘Protect me from evil,’” said Malusk, repeating the words to himself several times. “Got it.”
“For the belt,” Theren picked the belt off the blanket and held it up, “the spell is ‘Guard me from evil.’”
Garrick reached for the belt, muttering the incantation to himself.
“What about these?” asked Skrie, holding up her arms, the bracers having already magically fit themselves to her tiny wrists.
“‘No evil shall touch me,’” chuckled the elf, then held up the torc, placing it around his neck and over his collarbones.
Taking the rest of the day to recuperate for the next leg of their journey, they spend the bulk of the afternoon sorting through the items they managed to retrieve from the cultists and the crypt. Around dusk, Malusk and Skrie noticed that the flames of the barn had died out, but they could see what appeared to be campfires scattered throughout the village.
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To read from the beginning: Exploring Everine
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