All characters like to find artifacts. However I also know that most DM's don't like them in the game since they do tend to skew things crazily. Either the bad guy has them and the group kills him and takes it, or the bad guys wipes the party out because they are too stupid to run.
So here it is, artifact in the game and available for them if they want to keep it. The problem is that now that they have it, it's too dangerous to just leave it somewhere and letting the bad guys take it.
We'll see how it plays out for them going forward. Write up follows:
It was decided that we were pretty much shot, our reserves were non-existent, and as a group we needed to hole up somewhere and rest. Problem was there wasn’t any place we had passed so far to do that, and from what we had deduced by talking to the gnoll Glaskar, there wasn’t any such place near here.
So instead we decided that Roper was a fairly known and large threat – we would rest perhaps 50 paces from the monster’s corpse, relying on the fact that its presence would deter casual wanderers. This placed us sort of mid-way between the pool and the Roper and with luck, we could relax and get some sleep.
Detheron cast Log of Everburning on a pile of wood and we lit two torches – placing one 30’ up corridor and 30’ down corridor from where we were camping out. Mebali, Draugmor, Guyus, and Norris all took watches, the party opting on two at a time. Eventually we ate a dinner of cold rations and we drained some water from our skin. Just before sun”out” Detheron made to cast create water so we could refill our skins – but the spring disappeared almost immediately and we heard 3 or 4 distinct musical notes ring out from the direction of the pool – echoing towards us.
We froze and waited silently, it did not repeat. Norris said a water spirit or elemental might live in the pool and we should avoid any sort of water effects while down here. He then cast Invisibility sphere on the party (and animals!), we all took camp sites on the edges of the corridor (leaving the center open) and fell asleep. Norris took first watch, then Mebali, Aleron, and eventually Draugmor.
It was during this time that we had some visitors. Two cockatrices – one male, one female, came down the hall from the direction of the pool. They seemed puzzled by the torches and gave them a wide berth. Eventually the male used his serpentine tail to drag it away, down the hall, where eventually we heard a distant “hiss” of it extinguishing (most likely the pool). They came back and took the 2nd, making the corridor darker by that much more – leaving only one.
Daring, Draugmor lit another stick of wood and left it in the area of the former and when the cockatrices came back – they were hopping and hissing and disturbed. They stayed in the distance, just outside of light range, silent for 10 minutes before coming back to the torch. This time they took the new one, and the last one – plunging the hall into pitch blackness and Druagmor waited. They did come back and went onward in the direction of the piercers – where he was satisfied to hear the sounds of “dropping” stones and angry cockatrice hissings.
It wasn’t until after Guyus woke up that we had our next issue – out of the darkness came a chilling cold sensation that crawled across the party. Guyus hissed “undead!” and willed his connection to Odin to flare brightly – driving the shadow away. Lights were lit and we swung what we could to force the undead menaces away, their touch not only chilling but also draining our strength! At one point Gwyn even lit his underwear on fire and was swinging it wildly about, dropping burning embers everywhere before accidentally engulfing his own head. It was when the last shadows were being finally destroyed that our battle sounds recalled the 2 cockatrices and we gave the stone turning a short battle from the distance. Flare spells, arrows, crossbow bolts, and even Guyus daring to run up and intercept the charging cockatrices until the battle ended.
We hadn’t gotten enough sleep as a party and only a few of us were going to get spells back. Eventually we had Detheron’s sun”on” notification and we broke our fast, struck camp, and marched on.
As a group we came back to the “pond” room and decided to leave it alone – heading instead down the eastern corridor and onward. It meandered a bit and eventually opened to a large pit. It was 30’ across, the ceiling showed some damage, and the floor was crumbling at the end. Do we cross? How? The bottom was unseen. We dropped a rock and guessed at over 50 feet. It was decided that a light spell from the wand down the pit would work – and it was instead about 90’ deep – the floor was all broken rock and uneven. Gwyn let us know that the collapse of the floor was less than 10 years old and more than 1. From what we could tell – at the bottom of the pit was a 4’ metallic looking handle.
It was decided that we would go down – Draugmor, Norris, and Guyus being the people in question. One by one they went down the silk rope we had bound together and anchored with Smokey until they made the floor. Then it was careful navigation across the broken expanse until they arrived at the handle – it went down into the rubble and was well over 5” thick. While checking the area out carefully before daring to touch it, we did spot something faintly bluish and glittering under the broken stone.
We moved the pieces aside one at a time, the last three larger ones the most difficult to maneuver. It was taking so long that Detheron, from 90’ up, was constantly calling down for us to “forget about it and let’s go”. The group refused. Eventually they did reveal a crystal – 18” in diameter or so, and shaped like a 20 sided die. There was something inside, bluish and distorted through the facets. Norris told us that it would be something that a powerful minion/follower of Thrym might have used for imprisoning purposes. And it would be VERY difficult to open. We took it with us.
As for the handle – Guyus was the one to dare to take it. He reached out, gripped the handle, and pulled – and it broke free of the stone and was now a 4’ long footman’s mace that he held – and as he held it – it felt “good” in his hand. It was perfectly balanced, had 5 flanges, and swung with a serious practiced ease. When Draugmor tried to hold it though it fell immediately to the ground and he could not lift or budge it! Guyus took it again and it felt wonderful.
We took the mace and the crystal and called up to Detheron that we should work on getting the group across the pit to the other side. Almost 3 hours after sun “on”.