Overnight Julie spends time healing wounded refugees while Grimolf steals several bludgeoning weapons so he can handle undead like those in the tunnel. More and more refugees leave the waterfall settlement, heading for the Ice Hold. Farmers are trying to harvest everything they can – ready or not – while pack animals and carts are in high demand. Food, equipment, and weapons are hoarded while other items are discarded in the hurry to escape the Sea Devils. Very few new refugees arrive from the coast.
Heading out the next morning, Grimolf misreads the map and almost takes the group the wrong way. Fortunately, Dr. Snow uses her academic skills to correct him and show him how to read the map properly. The group has a few close calls with wild animals and the hunting snares set for the beasts, but manages to reach the ruins on the First Strata.
The ruins are large and intimidating, made of a dark stone similar to granite which stands out of place among the island coral. There’s a threatening aura to the ancient monument. Floating just off the ground beside the ruin entrance is a slick metallic vessel close to the size of a large rowboat. Ominously, there are several dead bodies laying beside it.
The group examines it from a distance. Grimolf notices that the tracks of the dead people are heavy around the vessel, indicating that they stood by it for some time. He chucks a stone at the vessel but nothing happens. The group nominates Kura to go close and explore. There is no response until he notices the vessel. Then an illusionary parchment – which Julie recognizes as a hard light hologram – appears in the air over the vessel. It flashes red and displays test in Elvish script, which they cannot read.
Dr. Snow thinks back to reading Jules Vernes’ Ten Thousands Leagues Under The Sea, which is often considered to be the first novel dedicated to her field of Marine Biology, in which the submarine defends itself by electrocuting attackers. She surmises that the vessel has a similar defense mechanism but, not knowing Elvish and being unfamiliar with the seemingly advanced technology, she has no idea how to deactivate it. She casts Detect Magic, on a whim, and is surprised when the vessel and the ruins ping as magical.
It is relieved Out of Character that Grimolf inadvertently saved the life of Curcy, the hunter who was planning to steal the Athran Elf’s “boat”. By stealing Curcy’s weapon and map, Grimolf eroded his confidence and he headed for the Ice Hold instead.
Grimolf examines the ruin entrance and finds faint etchings of runes and other symbols. They are eroded by the elements and he isn’t able to tell what their function was.
The air hangs heavy inside the ruins. The weight of time and stone can be felt, along with something more sinister. Ahead of them the coordinator – lined with columns – continues straight down several flights of stairs before reaching a large hunched statue. Two large rubies are set in the statue’s eye socket. Four hunched figures sit in a semicircule around the statue, with something on the ground in front of them.
Advancing cautiously, they fight two swarms of vampire bats and a strange floating worm. Grimolf also discovers a hidden passage behind one of the columns but hearing the raving gibberish of the aberrations he decided not to explore it further.
The statue at the bottom of the stairs looks like this but with long ears instead of horns and feet instead of hooves. Grimolf wonders if it might be an Elf.
On reaching the bottom of the stairs, the group realizes that the hunched figures in the semicircle are corpses and that a weapons rune stone is on the ground in front of them. Grimolf taps one but there is no response. Being familiar with these kinds of situations, Kura wisely decides to attack the nearest figure and destroys it. The other three stand, relieving themselves as undead. The three are quickly dispatched – thanks to several mighty blows from Kura’s Twig – while the group discovers that worms like the one they slew earlier inhabited corpses and that they are vulnerable to water.
When Julie reaches to picks up the weapon rune stone she immediately gets a sinister premonition about the leering statue and recognizes that it is a Goblin. The premonition fades when her hand touches the weapon rune stone and is replaced by a sense that the rune will protect her. The sinister premonition returns when she hands the rune stone to Kura but fades away after a few moments. The rune is revealed to be Goblinoid Bane, which enable a weapon to deal extreme damage to Goblins and their kin.
Julie panics at the unnatural feeling and expresses her concerns to the group, to which Kura responds, “It’s probably just a curse, don’t worry.” This has the opposite of a calming effect on Julie who begins to worry about curses and their ramifications. Kura tries, again, to calm her by talking casually of curses but, again, Julie is not reassured. The discussion is cut short when Grimolf climbs to the top of the Goblin statue and pries out the ruby eyes. Grimolf pockets his loot and then searched the larger chamber, realizing that there’s a passage behind the chamber.
Kura discovers a series of passages on the right side of the passage and entering it discovers a series of three tombs. The group opens them one by one, finding two more of the strange zombies which were easily dispatched and a Wight which presented a significant challenge. Kura’s Lay on Hands, Julie’s spells, and Kura’s Twig manage to defeat the Wight. Unfortunately, Grimolf is hurt by the Wight and Drained.
In the Wight’s tomb, Grimolf discovers a strange obsidian orb. As he reaches for it, he again feels the dread that the Wight caused him when it drained his life energy…but as his fingers close on the orb he feels the reassurance that he can cause his enemies to feel that fear. The orb is revealed to be a Weapon’s Talisman, which allows anything to make an Intimidating Strike as a Fighter.
After the battle with the Wight, the group decides to explore the passage behind the Goblin statue. Grimolf takes the lead until he comes to another set of stairs leading down and see a horrific entity lurking at the bottom of the stairs! Terrified after a failed Will save, Grimolf retreats back to the others.
Strangely, when Kura looks down the stairs he sees no sign of a horrific entity and instead sees a large chamber with some kind of platform. Descending down the stairs the group finds a large chamber dominated by a central platform with two stuppas flanking a altar with a round metal plate engraved with a symbol. Grimolf somehow recognizes the symbol but can’t remember from where. The group suddenly notices the body of an Elf laying by the righthand stuppa and hurry over. The Elf appears dead at first but Grimolf immediately sees faint signs of life. Julie stabilizes the Elf with magic and begins to treat her with medicine.
Grimolf takes this opportunity to search the chamber. He gets a strange feeling from the large round metal plate. On examining it, Kura concludes that it’s a simple but powerful warding spell designed to keep something them, not them out. He concludes that they could open and close it without damaging the seal but, wisely, decides against openly the seal even temporarily.
Grimolf then examines a smaller goblin statue at the back of the chamber and discovers that there’s a hidden chamber behind it. He isn’t able to find the mechanism to open the chamber but with Kura’s help is able to force the statue to slide aside. Behind it he finds a chamber filled with strange religious tools, relics, and talisman. Nothing seems valuable on it’s own but might have some kind of ceremonial importance. Grimolf decides to take them.
Julie finishes treating the Elf but she still doesn’t wake up. As she thinks about this, Julie – who is the only one without Dark Vision and, thus, the only one with a light source – realizes that the Elf is not casting a shadow. Startled, she calls for Kura.
The construct confirms that the Elf does not have a shadow and looks alarmed, noting, “I’ve seen this before…but I can’t remember what did it. It wasn’t good, I remember that.” This does not reassure Julie who abandons her Elven patient and darts back several feet.
The group discusses what to do next. They decide against taking the Elf outside without curing her first. Instead, Grimolf searches her personnel belongings to see if there’s a key. He finds strange tools, glass tablets, extremely well made glass and metal jewelry, and a strange longbow with no arrows. Julie vaguely recognizes some of the items as being similar to technology from her time.
While she was treating the Elf Julie had another sinister premonition about the nearby stuppa and finds it seems freezing cold to the touch. So the group decides to investigate it in hopes of learning if it had someone to do with the Elf who they found beside it. Julie climbs up to the altar, by the round metal plate, and waits for Kura – of course it’s Kura – to open the stuppa.
Instead the stuppa Kura discovers a
living unliving shadow. It silently flees the light of Julie’s torch and into the shadows of the columns that line the chamber. Grimlock, who was also hiding in the shadows, can see it with his darkvision.