Night was falling when the party began to investigate the ruins of Tora Norrith. Prometheor and Jalez chose to creep slowly through the lower of the two tunnels, while Everitt and Kez (the two more agile adventurers, to be sure) clambered up the jumbled piles of stonemasonry to enter the upper corridor.
As Prometheor and Jalez moved deeper into the gloom of the tunnel, the floor sloped down, and soon the two rogues were ankle-deep in brackish black water. Venturing deeper, Prometheor found himself set upon by a pack of vile, wriggling black leeches the size of his arm, but the holy fires of Rhianna purged these vermin before the astonished eyes of Jalez. At the end of the subterranean corridor, some 30 feet from the rubble-strewn entrance, Prometheor and Jalez encountered a heavy oaken door banded in iron. Acting without thinking, Prometheor worked the latch to open the door — inadvertently triggering a trap that flooded the lower chamber, flushing the two miscreants back out into their campsite in a torrent of water.
Up top, Kez and Everitt moved warily down an inky black passageway that was a mirror image of the one below — albeit drier. With the sun now fully set, the two adventurers lit torches and crept down the shadowy hallway, encountering no threats but discovering several copper cauldrons full of black oil. They were joined shortly by Jalez and Prometheor. Thus united, the party moved deeper into the corridor and encountered a door, very much like Prometheor’s own portal on the level below.
This time, though, the door was blocked by a partially collapsed wall, which the adventurers dealt with the old-fashioned way: with shovel and pickaxe! After half an hour of backbreaking work, the four cleared the rubble away and prepared to open the oaken portal. Suddenly, a wail cut through the dim hallway, coming from the direction of the camp. The party rushed back to the mouth of the tunnel, only to find their two bandit-henchman gone and huge humanoid footprints sunk deep into the earth around the campsite. A light rain began to fall, and ominous thunderclouds loomed on the horizon.
Back in the tunnel, the party successfully opened the door and stepped through into the middle level of the three-tiered stone drum tower. By torchlight, the adventurers explored the circular chamber, noting the huge holes in the floor and ceiling, and the heaps of broken masonry that indicated the keep’s state of ruin. Runes and etchings were carved into the pillars and doorways; Jalez deduced that they were of Dwarven origin. By casting ropes, the party was able to clamber up to the third level, which was open to the sky and ringed with battlements.
The rain intensified as the party moved down to the lowest level, strewn with huge heaps of broken stone covered in thick moss. The rubble was teeming with giant beetles, four feet long and gleaming black! Protected by Prometheor’s stout shield, the group quickly fought their way up the stairs to the second level, where they devised a trap to pour burning pitch rom the nearby cauldrons into the beetles’ sanctuary below. But the beetles had plans of their own — several of the the gnashing insectoids swarmed up the stairs and lashed out at Jalez, even as the wizard prepared to unleash his fearsome spells.
Only quick thinking from Kez and Everitt kept Jalez alive long enough for the adventurers to follow through with their plan. They dumped the oil through the great holes in the stone floor and down into the lowest level, setting this fuel ablaze with a single torch. The beetles hissed and snarled as their carapaces cracked open and burned. Within a few minutes, the raging inferno had died down, and the adventurers eyed each other warily before heading down once more to investigate the lowest level…