Headcount: 0 mercenary lieutenants left. 4 mercenaries left. 1 mercenary captain left. 2 apprentice mages left. 1 freemage left.
1. So, once the surviving mages and mercenaries got to room 14 they saw the entrance to the tombs proper, as shown on the following isometric map:
As with the prior map, each square = 10 feet.
2. Thus, the entrance on the bottom left hand corner of the map faces North, and the tomb furthest from the entrance points South.
3. Where the stairs reach their lowest point, you can see what looks like water buildup on the floor. This can also be imagined as pools of blood–all of it belonging to three of the four trolls (the other half of the 8-troll strong expedition from the Waymoot Catacombs) that split off to explore this part of the tomb.
4. The trolls just got their heads handed to them (almost literally) by the spectral guardians (i.e., Ghosts; MM 147) that manifest as armored from head to foot warriors in gleaming armor wielding paired longswords and possessed of a wicked bad attitude, that emerged collectively from the tomb chambers they were left to guard for all of eternity very soon after the magical backlash from area 1 ripped through the dungeon.
5. A custom among nobles of Esparin was to have one bonded retainer–better an altar sworn veteran mercenary, when they could be found–who protected them at all times, and fought for them when matters could not be resolved peacefully. The spectral guardians were all altar sworn warriors (variously sworn to Tyr, Helm, Tempus, Lliira [you read that right] and Tyche), and they agreed to follow their charges into death by becoming ghosts. Think of this as a poor man’s version of a baelnorn (goodly elf ghost protector).
6. One troll was Possessed as per the Ghost ability.
7. The freemage had good intel on the tomb, and she came prepared with a spell to even the odds against spectral guardians: Ghost to Flesh. As the spell suggests, when seven of the eight ghosts were caught in its area they all became flesh form temporarily. They lost all their terrible attacks (Withering Touch, Etherealness, Horrifying Visage, Possession), but gained in terms of their incorporeal armor and weapons becoming solid on their bodies.
8. If you’ve ever seen Game of Thrones, specifically the episode with a flashback scene where Bran Stark watched his father’s force of five men take on dual-longsword wielding Sir Arthur Dayne and an ally of his, then it shouldn’t be too hard to imagine how the now fleshform guardians looked as they brought the fight to the mercenaries.
9. And this was the fight the mercenaries had been waiting for: warrior against warrior, sword vs. sword.
10. The possessed troll attempted to bull rush right over the closed ranks of mercenaries and its ghost allies, so as to get at the spellcasters in the back rank that were further up the stairs. Unfortunately for it (and the spectral guardian riding inside it), the mercenary captain unloaded with her Heavy Crossbow of Wand Detonating. What’s this delicious item, you ask? See entry #6 in the post after this one.
11. The bolt flew true, and the exploding overcharged wand took the head and shoulders off the troll. The ghost was ejected and the mercenaries (who’d fallen prone and covered eyes and ears, as they’d been trained to do) went to work on the guardians who’d been hurt and knocked down by the boom, hacking and slashing them. The apprentice mages unleashed carefully aimed Burning Hands spells on the fallen troll parts–especially any heads or hacked off arms that could potentially trip up their sword-swinging allies, and the freemage targeted the ghost when it reappeared.
12. Then the tide came in.
13. What tide? The tide of magic. It was like a tsunami, and the shattering of the entryway door was the earthquake that spawned it. So in other words, when the apprentice mages attempted to channel the self-destruction spell ward on the doors in area 1, they didn’t account for how the fabric of magic would react, and it reacted by rippling away from the tomb and then flowing right back towards it in a wave that was invisible, but that manifested in trees swaying and gusts of wind blowing like a miniature hurricane before flowing into the earth and to the tomb proper.
14. In the tunnel steps, the riptide of crashing magic dispelled all magic in the tomb. It washed away the preservative wards that had kept the memorabilia like new and kept the tomb in pristine condition. In its wake some of the objects aged years in just seconds, as though catching up for lost time. A few of the sarcophagus chambers and satellite rooms in the tomb were spared the worst of the magical tsunami. As for the wind, it howled in the stairway tunnel, knocked warriors prone and put out all torches. Only the burning flesh of the trolls remained alight.
15. Now freed from their fleshy confines, the spectral guardians waded into the mercenaries, slaying them mercilessly.
16. The freemage attempted one futile casting after another, but the wave of flowing magic drank her spells. Her life was ended when a pair of guardians caught her in their Horrifying Gaze, thus aging her by 80 years. She died a round later of hearstop (A Realmsian catch-all term for heart attacks or any condition from age to sickness that ultimately stills a beating heart).
17. While their master was aging to death, her apprentices threw caution to the wind, drew their Wands of Fireball, and set to blasting. The wands had no effect as the tide of magic was still washing in. Then the apprentices ran for their lives.
18. The mercenary captain was left to fend for herself. As the guardians closed in on her, she set a wand in her Crossbow and made sure it did not sit true. When she pulled the trigger the Crossbow misfired and the wand exploded, taking her and her attackers with her.
19. A guardian had bypassed the captain to chase the fleeing apprentices. It caught one ascending the stairs just before room 14, and slew her.
20. By then magic returned to normal in the tomb, as the invisible ripples and eddies of magical current settled down again.
21. The last apprentice was so utterly terrified that he ran headlong into the north wall of room 14–and was whisked away to the Waymoot Catacombs.
22. The north wall of room 14 is a magical gate. It consists of a fresco that runs floor to ceiling and wall to wall. Any creature incapable of taking Legendary Actions that comes into contact with the gate is instantly transported to a room in the Waymoot Catacombs that contains a duplicate fresco. This is the other side of the gate. After, the Gate does not function for that creature until the next day at dawn (or 24 hours…DM’s call).
23. Using tools or objects on the gate, as well as casting spells that come into contact with the gate and that require concentration (like Bigby’s Hand) will get you transported instantly, and end your spell.
24. Otherwise the gate absorbs the effect of any spell that targets it, or whose area intersects with the gate, if that spell is 7th level or lower. The gate likewise absorbs the effects from any magic item whose rarity is less than Very Rare.
25. Not sure what the fateof that last apprentice was (a topic for another day). But I can say that his appearance was rendered on both fresco walls, in very small form, when he was transported. The same has been true for everyone that’s ever used the fresco gates. Where one appears has to do with one’s alignment and temperament.
26. One may well notice that a dragon or two are visible on the fresco walls, and other creatures like dopplegangers and shape changing Malaugrym–these always appear in their natural form on the fresco. The trolls are visible, as are their metal-collecting flesh blobs.
And that about covers what came before in the Sundered Tomb and the Tomb of Eight.
Now it’s time to think about how the place aged over the next 2 to 10 years, and to get it ready for the arrival of soon to be dead 2nd level PCs.