Pondering the Alchemy Jug that our heroes had found, they all decide to simply take a short power nap there and then to recover their strengths, before moving further into the eerie crypt.
Moving past the remains of the slain golem, the brave adventurers encountered a bend in the halls covered by a huge cobweb. Already fearful due to children's stories of man-eating spiders, they find the corpse of a rather large spider on the ground. Noa rapidly decides on a no-nonsense approach. Namely to just burn the entire thing to the ground.
After throwing his torch in, the bravest of heroes needed to run from the billowing smoke and hide out in the previous room for an hour or so. Once the smoke finally dissipated enough, they bravely set forth once more.
Carefully scanning around for traps and avoiding suspicious pathways, they eventually uncover a room with a big basin in the middle, four braziers around it and a locked door at the end of the it.
After taking in the room for a few moments, they are stunned to find piles of bones floating in the basin. Ulfgar mentions that the bones appear magically preserved, untouched by the passage of time and the bleaching of the water. They also recognize these bones as having belonged to Minotaurs.
Stepping forward to investigate the locked door in the back, they disastrously feel the click of a trap tile below their feet and the vibration of magic in the air. Lumivarax freezes and recognizes the spell being cast; it is Animate Dead.
With ominous splashing of the water in the basin, two Minotaur skeletons rise and pick up their rather large and scary looking broadaxes.
Another fight for life and (un)death erupts as the Minotaur skeletons charge and gore the party with the passion of the afterlife. During the chaos, Noa manages to aggravate one skeleton badly enough to get violently slammed into a wall, collapsing in a particularly unheroic heap.
The well-meaning Andrea runs over to Noa and quickly drags him back to the passage they came from in an attempt to protect him. While this act had a high potential of being heroic in and of itself, the fact that she stepped into a previously undetected pit trap while dragging Noa somewhat detracted from it. Luckily enough, she managed to stabilize herself to avoid falling to a gruesome death and dragging Noa along with her.
As the fight raged on, Noa got back up to fight but had the light knocked out of him once more. Even though the resident cleric was able to patch him up, it was clear the fight weighed heavily on all of our dear adventurers. After gaining many wounds however, they managed to fell the unbeasts.
For a moment the greed inside them made them consider taking the large axes of the felled Minotaur Skeletons with them, surmising they might perhaps sell them to some very large lumberjacks, but ultimately deciding against it.
With renewed fear of deadly pit traps, Noa actually finds even more of them around the brazier room. Best not get impaled today. Examining the braziers and locked door, Darion speaks to the Alchemy Jug "I would like some oil please!". The magical jug churns for a few moments, and after uncorking they find about a quart of oil in it. They decide to use it to light the braziers.
When lighting each brazier, the magical aura around them appears to intensify. After lighting the final one, the somewhat innocent fires all simultaneously erupt in a blaze that gives off a tremendous amount of heat. Inside each fire appears a key, apparently magically suspended right in the center.
After testing out a range of things from shooting arrows at the keys and seeing the wooden shafts burn up, to swinging a Minotaur axe at a fire and waving their shields at it, they appear somewhat confounded by the situation. Nonetheless, our heroes did not take long to apply their collective genius to resolve the conundrum. That is, they decide to send Lumivarax into one of the fires because "Dragonborns are fire resistant anyway".
After poor Lumivarax got rather badly burnt in this endeavor due to peer pressure, Noa eventually runs back down the hall (carefully avoiding the traps) to retrieve the rocks of the golem's remains. Reasoning that these rocks are magical and thus would not be consumed by the fire, he starts tossing them at the fires, noting how they fly through some keys and bounce off one particular one.
Carefully waving their shields at this fire again, they note that these flames do not seem to respond to the gust of air. More deliberation occurs for a while, during which Darion becomes so impatient that he douses himself in the water of the basin and simply grabs the key. The fire does not harm him.
Opening the locked door reveals a wall between two pillars. On the wall, suspended in mid-air hangs a glowing and softly humming crystal.
There are decorations all over the pillar depicting the life and accomplishments of a rather important-looking Elf. Looking around the room itself, our heroes notice that there are similar decorations there.
Wondering what the crystal might be or what it might do, Noa touches it with the tip of sword and is instantly teleported to a room even deeper into the crypt. In this room he sees vast riches against the far walls, gold, silver, gems, fancy looking chests, you name it, this Elf had it.
It does not take long for the others to join him. In between the delicious bounty, they see a blindfolded skeleton in tattered black robes sitting in a chair.
Above him on the walls, an Elven inscription reads:
"Here rests Ceanasan Dakear, who with heavy heart committed his genius to grant the Just a final line of defense against the Shadow. Goddess watch over his remains until the day of the Awakening."
Around the inscription, more depictions can be seen about the life of Ceanasan Dakear. Many of them show him creating things, artifacts, and our heroes recognize some of them from the eerie depictions they had seen before.
The Elvish-speakers among them attempt to communicate with the skeleton for a few moments, but it appears to be silent as the grave. HAH.
Andrea darts forward though to get a closer look on the skeleton and its riches, inadvertently stepping on a similar trap as the previous room contained. As the reanimated remains of Ceanasan Dakear rise before them, our heroes realize that perhaps they should have taken some time to rest.
Fighting viciously with the power of magic, Ceanasan Dakear employs thundering magic to knock everyone away from him, lobs flaming spheres at the already badly burnt clerick, blasts the people near him with destructive rays and attempts to put all our heroes into magical slumber to easily pick them off at his leisure. Through series of violent shakes and slaps, the party members unaffected by the magical sleep manage to wake up the rest as Ceanasan's sword lights up brightly with magical fire.
Lumivarax has to flee the scene to avoid succumbing to the rolling ball of fire chasing him, as the rest of the party gives it everything they've got. Finally, as Ceanasan Dakear shields himself temporarily to brush off his attackers and engulfs Ulfgar's boar-form in flames with a slash of his sword, the resident druid manages to retaliate with one final strike of magically enhanced quarterstaff, reducing the ancient elven inventor's remains to dust.
Finding themselves alone with the loot, our valiant heroes waste no time grave-robbing everything in Ceanasan Dakear's tomb. From his remains they even take his magical sword and, surprisingly, the blindfold that also turned out to be magical. Putting the blindfold on, they find that it grants the bearer a minute of Truesight at the cost of its magical charge, inadvertently wasting a part of its power.
Distributing the wealth and objects they found, they move outside the crypt and set up camp nearby. It is now past midnight.
After their rest, they huddle together once more to decide what to do. Andrea and Lumivarax work together to identify the tracks of another person on the ground, leading back to Aredyl. They decide to follow it.
Coming back to the edge of the town, the tracks naturally start to mix with the regular tracks of the town's inhabitants. With great precision, Ulfgar manages to differentiate between them and follow the original tracks – all the way back to Alan's house.
Camping outside of his house for a while, Lumivarax performs rituals to detect magic and evil. As he notices a hint of evil inside the house, that is all the convincing that Noa needs – who promptly dashes towards the house and kicks in the door.
Inside they find a startled Alan, busy packing his bags. A fervent discussion between them starts with Alan claiming he was following their advice to leave. At first he denies all the allegations, but our heroes would not be fooled again and see through his lies. Noa decides to threaten Alan quite heavily, clearly hitting a nerve.
Clearly afraid now, he tells our heroes that he will lead them to where he has hidden the hourglass, but only in exchange for his freedom. Tiring of this exchange, Ulfgar decides to cast a Charm Person spell on Alan, and succeeds. As Alan suddenly becomes all about pleasing them, he immediately resolves to lead them to the tree stump to the east of the village where he has hidden the precious artifact.
Alan also admits to finding the hourglass and using it against the villagers because they laughed at him. He had fallen in love with the owner of the general goods store's daughter, but her father would have none of it. Stomping around the forest in anger he had happened upon the crypt, unleashing his anger on the front to break it down. Inside, he had encountered the golem who had swung at him, missed and broken open the hidden room instead. There he quickly grabbed the hourglass and ran away.
Turning the hourglass over to our heroes, they feel the weight of its magical power tower out from it.
Returning back to the town, the Charm Person wears off of Alan, who breaks down in pathetic sobs and cries and keeps saying how sorry he is. After another round of discussion, they lock Alan up in the cell of the afflicted guard captain and leaves him some food and drink to survive until the guard sends a delegation to clean up Aredyl.
Meanwhile, Lumivarax attempts to apply his knowledge of magic to understand what it is exactly that they have just uncovered. Identifying the magical nature of the hourglass tells him that its magic is ancient, over a millennium old, and its power is beyond his current ability to perceive completely.
For a while, the group of friends discuss the implications and responsibility involved with possessing an artifact of such demonstrable danger and power. At one point realizing that its power could even topple governments.
On the three-day journey back to Minghonda, Andrea ventures deep into the forests and comes back with a tamed wolf. Branding it her new companion because people are stupid anyway, she names it "Loki".
Arriving back in Minghonda, they are surprised to find that a sprawling news corporation is now selling magically printed newspapers in the streets. They decide to buy one to read up on all the going-ons in the world. It bunch of articles stand out:
- Serial killer with M.O. of executed terrorist still on the loose in Minghonda!
- Another group of children vanished, adding to the recent disappearances of young ones…
- Political tensions with Himmerion rising over potential cause of desertification to the East…
- Monster sighting in Lurker Lake! Fishermen claim their boat was capsized by the beast of legend.
Visiting the League of Archeologists once again, they make the mistake of asking Maikel the receptionist how she has been doing. Maikel immediately breaks down in sobs over how tough her life is, and how she recently has had a downswing in the relationship with her boyfriend.
Avoiding the awkward emotional situation, they meet with Verner and discuss the hourglass. Verner, clearly unsettled by the presence of something so powerful, refers them to Mages Guild, Minghonda branch.
They also discuss the Elven currency that they had left behind, upon which Verner remarkably steels himself from his previous uneasiness and enters into a true barter-mode. After quite a lengthy back and forth, they agree to sell the Elven coins for their regular value and an additional 15% on top, with a guarantee of at least 15% being paid out in platinum coins. Noa seems especially pleased at this particular part of the deal…