Cast of Characters:
Mordecai, a Cleric-4: Adam
Forlorn, an Elf-3: Bo
Mister Moore, Magic User-4: Mike
Grumble the Smug, Halfling-3: Nogal
Shy, a Fighter-3
Phat Kobra, a Dwarf-3
Zeke, a Fighter-3
Starkweather, a Thief-4
Barzai, a Cleric-3
Hammers of the God: Spoilers
The group watched the acrid corpse smoke pour out of the tomb, and decided it'd be a good idea to camp further up the canyon. They set up their tents out of sight from the entrance and huddled for a cold night in the mountains. They were roused when a stone giant investigated the source of the smoke, knocking around boulders and making a racket, and sent the stealthy halfling to scout, but they avoided detection and the giant eventually left.
They took their time the next morning waiting for the smoke to clear; once satisfied, they returned to the tomb, briefly scouted the main temple to ensure the ancient corpses were destroyed, and then went through the west door.
Purple smoke still filtered out from beneath the west door, and the room was obscured by it. It made breathing difficult so they wedged the door open and waited a few minutes for it to clear. The smoke was coming from a handful of burning seeds in a fire pit, which they doused. The other intriguing element was the meditative dwarf priest.
Seated across from the fire pit was a half naked dwarf priest, cross legged, and surrounded by a magic circle. His eyes were closed, but he was still breathing. This presented a puzzle - the group spent a long time trying to figure out how to safely wake him up (Mordecai's theory was that the magic circle kept him safe from whatever toxin asphyxiated everyone else in the complex). Grumble the (Halfling) Barbarian kept flashing the elbow and telling them to do a wrestling move on him, like a forearm to the head - "That would wake up anyone!". At one point, Grumble slipped and accidentally pushed the dwarf over, and then there was a "Weekend at Bernie's" moment as they kept trying to prop up the limp, unconscious dwarf priest and pretend nothing happened. Eventually, they concluded he wasn't going to wake up and they just backed out the room carefully.
Out in the main temple, Forlorn decided it was time to experiment with the altar. They had stolen a pair of golden implements days earlier, and had bypassed the huge chunk of meteoric iron that had flecks of gold all over it (which they interpreted was that it would be struck by the golden implements during a ceremony). Forlorn did some striking, and a secret door was revealed. They had a new area to explore!
They passed through a room with multiple fountains, puzzled over a few of the inscriptions (and made a big show of who would drink and who wouldn't - Forlorn and Barzai drank no water!) and then descended some short stairs into an immense cavern beyond.
The cavern was large enough that their lantern lit up only a nearby section; the ground was sandy, the air was damp, and conversation was hampered by the roar of a waterfall somewhere deeper in the cavern. But their attention was drawn to a metal structure nearby that stretched from the sand up into the darkness above them - metal girders and beams, like the superstructure for a modern radio tower. A ladder was attached to the side.
Starkweather took a torch and began climbing, while they watched from below. About 80' up the tower, there was a box at the top (a control cabin), and the tower had an armature and cable coming out of the cabin like a modern day crane. Starkweather managed to hang on to the ladder when a dwarf zombie lurched out of the cabin opening, startling him and then swiping at his head. He ducked in time but dropped the torch; Starkweather quickly bounded down the ladder and hoped the zombie wasn't clambering out of the cabin after him.
When it was clear the zombie was staying put, they voted to send Shy up the ladder, with a light spell on his magic sword. Shy is their official undead slayer. Kobra went up behind him. They stopped a bit down from the cabin to secure ropes from their waist to the ladder; if Shy fell, he'd drop 15' instead of 80'.
The zombie and Shy battled at the door to the cabin, and Shy sliced off one of the zombie's arms; but then the zombie wrenched him off the ladder. Their rope idea was a good one - Shy took damage when the rope jerked, but he caught on to the ladder. Kobra scuttled up the ladder and finished off the zombie.
The cabin had a winch and a breaking lever; Kobra started cranking the winch and had the impression something at the long end of the cable was getting hauled in, but then it abruptly stopped and he wasn't strong enough to crank further. Excitedly, he and Shy went down the ladder and told the group they needed to try and trace the cable to its end and see what was out there.
Their path took them down the beach to the edge of the churning water. A 20' long metal canister (with a hatch) was tethered to the end of the cable, and was pulled nose first up against the shore. Beyond the canister, the water churned and swirled, and they saw the edge of a whirlpool. Water was crashing down a waterfall, swirling around the pool, and disappearing down the drain.
Mordecai exclaimed, "Ha ha! It's like going over a waterfall in a barrel! The dwarves lowered people down in that thing. Look at the size of the dents in it!"
Mister Moore looked at the whirlpool, the dented submarine, and immediately said, "I have a better idea, fellas. We left some gems encrusted in the door of the emperor's tomb - let's go get the gems, scoop the gems out of the fountain pool, and call this one a wrap - we've got some decent loot. Mordecai can tell his "girlfriend" (the evil witch of witch mountain) we couldn't find the Elf Bane, and that'll be that. You're not getting me in that death trap!"
While they decided to consider Moore's idea of scrapping the delve, they first wanted to see if anything was in the submarine. Shy opened the hatch and got a face full of zombie, and splashed back away from the opening as a troop of those hard-to-turn dwarf zombies spilled out of the submarine to maul the party, but the group put them down fairly quickly.
After the zombie battle, they saw the inside of the submarine had a series of chairs (the seatbelts were rotted away) and a smaller winch for letting out cable from within the submarine.
They decided to postpone the discussion about whether they'd actually take a submarine ride until this week; instead, they surveyed the rest of the beach and discovered that there were two additional cranes and cables. There was a second submarine by the shore, whereas the third cable stretched into the water and down the whirlpool. One of the submarines was already at the bottom!
See you next time.