Perilous Gateways

The Trail of Tears

By Eric L. Boyd

The Darkcrypt

1. Forecourt (EL 16)

Kethoth lurks here along with a dozen Medium-size skeletons. Although mad, Kethoth retains sufficient sanity to approach interlopers and seek their help in recovering his missing items. If questioned, he explains that he died overthrowing a tyranny of priests who sought to oppress the right of freedom-loving wizards to openly practice their Art without restriction. (Despite his resemblance to Red Wizards of the present era, Kethoth's ethos were shaped during a different era and he speaks the truth as he believes it.) He explains that he cannot rest until his possessions are returned to him and that his possessions lie within the Darkcrypt, so named for its role as a memorial to a long-dead god of the sun. If attacked, Kethoth retreats into the surrounding stone, leaving his skeletons to their fate, and waiting an appropriate moment to attack.

Skeletons (12): hp 6, see Monster Manual

1A. Outer Memorial

Although over 2,000 years old, this building is still in excellent shape, reflecting centuries of maintenance followed by four centuries of isolation. The inner walls are adorned with painted scenes of ancient battle, depicting the god-kings and their followers in battle with a horde of orcs led by orc gods pouring forth from a portal to another world. A successful Knowledge (religion) check reveals the identity of the god-kings of the Mulan (DC 15) and/or the deities of the orcs (DC 10). Priests of Mulhorandi deities and inhabitants of Thay, Mulhorand, Chessenta, Threskel, and Unther receive a +4 circumstance bonus to the first check. Orcs and their kin receive a +4 bonus to the second check. These DCs and modifiers apply for all similar images found within the Darkcrypt.

A successful Track check (DC 15) suggests that this chamber has served of late as a practice arena.

2. Inner Memorial (EL 16)

This inner chamber is adorned with painted scenes depicting the valiant death of a hawk-headed god (Re) beneath the blade of a one-eyed orc god (Gruumsh), in defeat ensuring the freedom of his retreating armies.

Ramanthanhur is usually found here when not practicing his martial skills in the outer memorial (1A). If attacked, Ramanthanhur counterattacks, but he prefers dialogue. He explains that he remains here, forever on guard, to atone for his failures and to defend Mulhorand's claim to all of Thay. If asked, he explains that he cannot allow anyone other than a true follower of the Mulhorandi pantheon to pass, no matter how compelling his or her reason might be.

This chamber and the rest of the Darkcrypt are protected by the aforementioned forbiddance spell. Moreover, this chamber and the rest of the Darkcrypt are also protected by a hallow spell linked to a zone of truth. The latter spell effect has survived long past the normal duration of one year thanks to Ramanthanhur's dedication and the will of Horus-Re.

3A. Stairs (EL 8)

Stone steps leads down an unlit hall to a small landing with three stone doors. The center door is adorned with the symbol of a sun at high noon. The right door is adorned with the symbol of the setting sun, while the left door is adorned with the symbol of the rising sun. All three doors are carefully inscribed with a permanent symbol of fear (caster level 16, DC 29).

3B. Chamber of the Rising Sun

The Chamber of the Rising Sun is adorned with painted scenes depicting the founding of Skuld, City of Shadows, by a hawk-headed god. A successful Knowledge (history) check (DC 25) identifies the scene. The room is otherwise empty.

3C. Chamber of the Setting Sun

The Chamber of the Setting Sun is adorned with painted scenes depicting a mortally wounded hawk-headed god (Re) passing his crown to another hawk-headed god (Horus, later Horus-Re). A successful Knowledge (history) or Knowledge (religion) check (DC 30) identifies the scene. The room is otherwise empty.

3D. Crypt of Re (EL 8)

The Crypt of Re is the symbolic crypt of Re, founder of the Mulhorandi pantheon. It contains an ornate, stone sarcophagus, carved and painted in the shape of a hawk-headed man clutching an ankh to his breast with both hands. The sarcophagus is warded with a carefully inscribed symbol of death (caster level 16, DC 25). The sarcophagus contains only a single fingerbone, which is said to be a remnant of Re's mortal form. Although nonmagical, this relic is sacred to the church of Horus-Re and the rest of the Mulhorandi pantheon. Anyone disturbing the relic triggers a glyph of warding inscribed in the bottom of the sarcophagus. The spell glyph stores a bestow curse spell (caster level 16) which bestows a -4 enhancement penalty on attack rolls, saving throws, ability checks, and skill checks.

4. Guard Chamber

This chamber once served as a guard chamber for those priests who dwelt within the Darkcrypt, but it has long been abandoned and is currently empty.

5. Priests' Quarters

The Priests' Quarters once served as living quarters for those priests who dwelt within the Darkcrypt. All that remains of their former habitation is a stone table and stools where they once took their meals. Lying atop the table is Kethoth's spellbook, as well as his two other surviving possessions: an amber amulet of vermin (Large monstrous scorpion) and a jackal-headed rod of fury +3. (See Magic of Faerûn for details of both of these items.)

A successful Search check (DC 30) reveals that one 10-foot section of wall is actually plastered brick, not stone, and can be broken through with a bludgeoning weapon and a successful Strength check (DC 25).

Amber Amulet of Vermin (Large monstrous scorpion): This amber nugget on a gold chain holds a normal-size scorpion within its yellow depths. When broken, it releases the vermin, which instantly grows to enormous size (Large monstrous scorpion) as if you had cast giant vermin upon it. This amulet works only once.

Caster Level: 10th; Prerequisites: Craft Wondrous Item, giant vermin; Market Price: 700 gp; Weight: -- .

Rod of Fury: These rods, first created by the wizards of Mulhorand, typically have the top end carved to resemble the head of one of the Mulhorandi deities. In addition to giving the bearer a deflection bonus to AC (+1 to +5, varying depending upon the type of rod), the rod allows a spellcaster to increase the effectiveness of one spell per day. The spell must be of 6th level or lower and is altered as if it were under the effects of the Empower Spell feat. Activating this ability is a free action and does not affect the spell level or casting time of the altered spell.

Caster Level: 17th; Prerequisites: Craft Rod, Empower Spell, Spell Focus, protection from chaos/evil/good/law; Market Price: 26,800 gp (+1), 38,800 gp (+2), 58,800 gp (+3), 77,600 gp (+4), 95,600 gp (+5).

6. Chapel of Horus-Re (EL 12)

This chamber is a long-neglected chapel of Horus-Re, son and successor of Re. A hawk-headed stone statue clad in bronze scale mail stands on a dais in the far right corner. The statue is actually a stone golem (hp 77), with AC 31 thanks to the additional armor. It attacks anyone attacking it or attempting to move through the secret door on the far wall. The secret door, which stands atop the dais, is warded with a carefully inscribed permanent symbol of discord (caster level 16, DC 25).

7. Hallway of the Ancients

The walls of this long-unused corridor are adorned with a painted depiction of the Mulhorandi pantheon traveling in the Galley of the Gods through the stars, landing atop the Teylas Shan (Godswatch Mountains), leading a rebellion against the Imaskari wizards, and then leading a large populace of slaves to a new land on the shores of the Alamber Sea. At the head of the pantheon is a now-familiar hawk-headed god (Re) holding up the blindingly bright Ankh of Life to lead the way through the darkness of space. Recognizing the scenes depicted and the participants requires a successful Knowledge (history) check (DC 25).

8. Bridge of Darkness (EL 15)

This chamber is filled with what appears to be bubbling tar. A narrow stone bridge leads across the room to a corridor on the far side. The "tar" is actually a gargantuan black pudding held here by means of a binding spell (hedged prison) and cannot leave the room. It can and will, however, attack anyone attempting to cross the bridge. Its preferred form of attack is to cover both exits from the room and then envelop anyone trapped within. Remember, tar has a specific smell, so you might want to allow PCs to make appropriate checks -- especially if they've encountered tar before!

Advanced Black Pudding: CR 10; Gargantuan ooze; HD 30d10+180; hp 345; Init -5; Spd 20 ft., climb 20 ft.; AC 5 (touch 1, flat-footed 5); Atk +25 melee (2d8+10, slam); Face/Reach 10 ft. x 40 ft./15 ft.; SA Acid, constrict (2d8+10 plus 2d6 acid), improved grab; SQ Blindsight, ooze traits, split; AL N; SV Fort +16, Ref +5, Will +5; Str 25, Dex 1, Con 23, Int -, Wis 1, Cha 1.

Skills and Feats: Climb +15, Hide -17.

Acid (Ex): The pudding secretes a digestive acid that dissolves organic material and metal quickly. Any melee hit deals acid damage. The pudding's acidic touch deals 50 points of damage per round to wood or metal objects. The opponent's armor and clothing dissolve and become useless immediately unless he or she succeeds at Reflex saves (DC 31). The acid can dissolve stone, dealing 20 points of damage per round of contact. A metal or wooden weapon that strikes a black pudding also dissolves immediately unless it succeeds at a Reflex save (DC 31).

Constrict (Ex): A black pudding deals automatic slam and acid damage with a successful grapple check. The opponent's clothing and armor suffer a -4 penalty on Reflex saves against the acid.

Improved Grab (Ex): To use this ability, the black pudding must hit with its slam attack. If it gets a hold, it can constrict.

Blindsight (Ex): The creature maneuvers and fights as well as a sighted creature by using non-visual senses (enter type). Invisibility and darkness are irrelevant, though the creature still can't discern ethereal beings. (enter range). The creature usually does not need to make Spot or Listen checks to notice creatures within range of its blindsight ability.

Ooze Traits: Immune to poison, sleep, paralysis, stunning, polymorphing, and mind-influencing effects; not subject to critical hits or flanking; blind.

Split (Ex): Weapons deal no damage to a black pudding. Instead, the creature splits into two identical puddings, each with half the original's hit points (round down). A pudding with only 1 hit point cannot be further split.

9. Corridor of Insight

The walls of this long-unused hallway are adorned with a painted depiction of the Galley of the Gods again sailing through a sea of stars. This time, however, only the body of Re is seen, lying in state in the center of the craft as the galley sails away from a shadowed depiction of Abeir-Toril toward a far-off beacon of light. The beacon of light is shaped in the form of the Ankh of Life and is painted on the door at the end of the hallway. The door is untrapped.

10. Chamber of Life

This long-unused room is shaped in the form of an extremely narrow isosceles triangle. To the left and right of the door are bookshelves filled with ancient religious tracts discussing the early history of the Mulan (through the end of the Orcgate Wars). At the far end of the chamber is a stone statue of the hawk-headed god Re, but this statue is inanimate. In his hand the depiction of Re holds the Ankh of Life, which is a legendary Mulhorandi artifact, although by its appearance one might suspect otherwise.

Ankh of Life: This powerful symbol of divinity and major artifact was believed to have been lost during the Orcgate Wars but was secretly hidden in the Darkcrypt immediately after the death of Re by the command of the high priest of Horus-Re. It is a worn and dirty rod of birch wood, without any ornamentation, in the shape of an ankh. This relic is much sought after by the priests of Horus-Re and Osiris, as they wish to place it with the mummified body of the manifestation of Re in the Tower of Eternity in Skuld.

The ankh of life has the following powers, which all operate at 20th caster level. The DCs to resist their effects are 20: restoration (3/day), regenerate (3/day), searing light (at will), sunburst (3/day), true resurrection (2/day). If used by a mortal (non-outsider), the ankh adds one negative level each time a power is used, unless the mortal succeeds at a Fortitude saving throw (DC 20). Those who fail can gain back their negative levels at one level per 24 hours or via a restoration spell. At the moment when the negative level is regained, the user must make a Fortitude save with at DC of 20. On a success, the negative level goes away with no harm to the user. If the user fails, he or she loses the negative level, but also has his or her level reduced by one.

The Trail of Tears