Feegle the goblin has turned into a very useful porter. As long as I don’t have to carry the barrel full of squid we’re using for rations, I’m happy to have him. The elaborately-locked and vault-like door has the words “Land of the Dead” painted over it in goblin. I suspect that between the bugbears, and explorers like Feegle, the place has claimed more than a few lives. It will pay to be careful, but I doubt it’s quite the apocalyptic scene the goblinoids envision.
Beyond the door (which we opened with the bugbears’ key), we find an array of curious machines and a series of ramps leading upwards. The ancient machines are apparently useful for making noise and the odd puff of black smoke, but little else. We did find the picture of a woman in one, and the controls seem scaled for human use. Beyond that, who knows what motivated the ancients to build this place? Based on the cryptic journal fragments we’ve found, we’re not the first to get lost in here. In fact, the writers seem to have regarded themselves as prisoners. If and when we find the bars of this “cage”, I wonder if we’ll reach the same conclusion?
At the top of the ramps we find a series of corridors and chambers in some form of grid. There are repetitive arrangements of alcoves stuffed with bones, and sarcophagi. Land of the Dead indeed. Oh, and fleeing elves. Did I mention them? Turns out the place is infested with swarms of beetles. Beetles that like to fill up corpses and then walk around in them until they get close and then burst out like some really bad birthday surprise. First mission: don’t become a corpse. Damn I hate beetles. There are some symbols here that I’m making some headway with, although the bits I’ve translated don’t sound very encouraging: “way”, “god”, “the”, “guards”, “flesh”, “makes”. Later on we found one that just translated “wrong way”. Ch’yuh. D’ya think?
Here’s how wrong it was: four magically-animated mummies (the first sign of arcane activity in the complex so far), and a couple of spell-casters of some sort. They were a bitch to deal with. We sealed ourselves up inside this room to escape the friggin’ beetles, which seem to have wandered off (perhaps to chase some more of those wandering elves?) A good night’s rest and a squid-wich for breakfast and we’re rarin’ to go.