Journey to Fate’s doorstep: Netherise Laboratory

The metal staircase collapses upon itself forming a symbol on the floor of the entrance chamber; a slow thumping rhythm like a heart makes, can be heard in the ears of the party.
“Do you hear that sound? It sounds like a subtle heartbeat in the distance.”
“I hear it too.”
“Me too.”
“I as well. And it sounds like it’s coming from everywhere and nowhere at the same time.”

The entrance chamber is lit by ambient light similar to the entryway outside the pyramid. The smell is stale and leaves a bad taste in your mouth, but at least there is air to breathe. The party looks around and notices in their periphery, black masses in the north, east, south and west walls that wiggle to alert the party something is there; but looking directly at them reveals just blackness below four archways.

Royce casts Detect Magic and walks the square room; he picks up several different magic auras with an additional aura he’s never seen before.
“There’s a strange magic aura here that is not one of the familiar magic schools.”
“I wonder if that is what I felt all over the place outside?”
“Maybe this is related. I hope it is, Talina.”

Nong reaches out to the wand of Orcus and only feels the familiar emotions of annihilation and destruction emanating from it, nothing out of the ordinary. He moves toward the north wall and watches as the wall wiggles and recedes backward revealing another room containing several prison cells along a long hallway.
“How did you do that?”
“I just walked up to it.”
“And it just moved out of your way?”
“Let’s move quickly before that thing wiggles back into place.”

The party moves into the room and notices eight cells, four cells on the right, four cells on the left; they can still hear the heartbeat in the background. Inside every cell is a skeleton resting along the back wall, except for one cell that contains a red robed figure. Mordrock casts Eyes of the Grave and senses many undead within sixty feet. “Guys there are plenty of undead here, be on your guard,” he says.

Naismith searches the first cell door and figures out the contraption that serves as the locking mechanism; he easily unlocks it. He casts Mage Hand as his companions open the door. The wispy spectral hand moves toward the red robbed hooded figure and touches it. The figure tumbles forward, revealing a skull and bony arms, however something else is interesting here; the arms and face are covered in tiny bite marks. Naismith moves to the opposite cell, opens it and beckons Nong to move in. Nong approaches the skeleton and notices a similar thing; the skeleton’s bones are covered in small bite marks. As he moves closer to inspect the body, a ghastly spectral claw emerges from the wall and strikes him. The claw rakes across Nong’s body, stealing his breath and life force in one swoop.

The party is now alerted to the other wraiths that emerge, one from each cell, all hungry for their life force. They ready their weapons and respond. The wraiths swipe several party members, some more than once with each swipe sucking more life away. Mordrock and Royce channel their gods’ wrath and turn several of the undead, leaving the remaining few to be taken down quickly.
“Move quickly down the hallway. We need to get out of here before they return!”
The party runs down the hallway toward another black mass. As they approach, it wiggles free revealing another room. They quickly proceed into a room filled with bookcases and tables.

The spines of tomes stuffed into the bookcases are metal; pulling one out and opening it up reveals stone pages scribed with similar characters seen on the dais – all unreadable by the party. Talina pulls a few tomes from bookcases and can deduce these are not spellbooks, but maybe research journals. The party takes a moment to catch their breath and assess the impact of the battle; some party members are winded and tired as a result of being drained of lifeforce.

The party decides to take the eastern exit from this room and proceeds down a corridor that eventually turns ninety degrees south. It becomes obvious they are walking the perimeter of the pyramid’s eastern side. Mid-way down the corridor the path opens into a small room that contains an ascending staircase and they also see a black mass on the western wall.
“I bet going through that thing only takes us back to the entrance.”
“Yeah I think so too, let’s not do that, ok?”
“I vote for taking the stairs up.”
“Sure, why not. It’s not like we know where we’re going.”

Ascending the stairs feels like it takes forty minutes or more before they enter a very large room, too big to see the entire space. The first thing the party notices is the thumping heartbeat is progressively louder here. The room is filled with bookcases in every direction; each bookcase is crammed with many of the same kinds of objects; the nearest bookcase contains long swords and the next one is filled with maces, and on, and on. Talina notices under each item there is a nameplate with the familiar pattern of foreign characters no one can read. Nong breaks from the group and runs up a bookcase to get a better view; as his feet bump items along the way, the items shiver and turn to dust, too ancient to withstand the motion. Unfortunately, the bookcase abuts the twenty five foot ceiling giving Nong no advantage perspective of the room.

Royce casts Planar Ally after walking aimlessly about. He summons a deva to help them decipher the room. A tall deva appears, wearing beautiful golden armor that gives off a bright glow. Its face wears no expression until it glances over at Nong and then scowls in response. The angel carelessly glances over the rest of the party and settles on Royce; when it looks down on him, Royce can hear the angelic voice in his head,
“How may I aid you?”
“Praise be to Tempus. I seek your knowledge on what is in this room as we cannot read the language.”
The deva nods and begins to glide toward the bookcases; Royce accompanies it while the others trail behind. The deva points southeast,
“This area holds weapons and armor of the school of Conjuration.”
Pointing east, “This area holds weapons and armor of the school of Evocation.”
Naismith speaks up, “What is he saying? We here nothing,” but Royce ignores him paying attention only to the deva.
“This area holds weapons and armor of the school of Divination. The magic here no longer holds power. None of these items can help you.”
The final area the deva crosses in the northeast causes it to abruptly stop, tilt its head, and stare. Royce can hear a whisper of surprise in its voice as it says,
“Strange, the school of chronomancy.”
“Deva what is chronomancy? I’ve never heard of that before.”
“It is a lost school of magic dealing with manipulating the essence of time; too dangerous for mortal experimentation.”
The deva turns to Royce fulfilling what it came here to do and Royce gives the celestial payment for its services. As the deva departs, Royce hears one final thought from it,
“Beware of the worm that walks.”

Nong looses interest in the library tour and moves closer toward the middle of the room. He finds an open space that contains a large metal and glass contraption surrounded by metal tables; there are many tubes protruding from it, with some connected to each table. The party discovers Nong and join him near the tables. Mordrock notices an indentation the size of a humanoid on each of the table surfaces; he then looks at the contraption and puts it all together,
“People were experimented on here. The indentations suggest people were placed here and belted in.”
“Maybe this contraption has something to do with chronomancy?”
“Let’s see what it does. Hook that tube up to me,” requests Royce as he places his body on the table, fitting inside the groove. He beckons the group to puncture the sharp endpoint of the glass tube into his arm. They watch as the blood pours out toward the large contraption.

Behind Talina there is movement. She turns around and sees shapes moving quickly in their direction. She taps her staff on the ground in quick repetition to get the party’s attention as she readies herself for the worst.