Guide team leaves early for Archileus at Pride rock. The Rakasta switches back and forth, riding with the riders.
Arrive at Pride Rock
Guide for priest leaves for base caves. Pushes a bit, arrives tonight.
Archileus et al leave for the caves. They go south to the river; at the fork, south to and around the hill's edge, and south to the next hill line to search for the caves.
Kalestios and guide leave base caves.
Arrive at desolate area at end of day. Camp tonight, will begin search tomorrow.
One of the riders and a hoblite find the correct marker, quickly find the entrance to the cave today.
Enter, leads to a 4 way intersection, door at the end of each 3 halls. After killing an undead in the room to the left, we get into a fight vs 3 tough undead, 1 from each door, backing to the intersection to fight them, and defeat them. During that, the bricked in tombs along the main hall are broken out by the skeleton within, filling the place with them. We have to retreat to the middle room where we find the master of heat and flame in a stupor state. We fortify ourselves inside, stuck. A couple hours later, he wakes up.
Somehow the intelligent undead here were able to trap him. These undead were the bones of the original race of Malakaz. Some of the Lords of the Malakaz were entombed here also, 6 of the 12 including the leader; tiefling halfbreeds. The race were a tier down from the Lords. There is also a human race called the Malakaz that simply adopted the name and some culture (the Gozerians). There are similar other caves in these hills as well. The leaders were disturbed a while ago and are no longer here, in spirit/life essence. They do require mortal coil to walk the earth. This means someone has been here, and their bodies hijacked by them who knows when. The former owner of the body is a prisoner in their own body. Eventually it will turn into the Malakaz's natural form. A creature unto themselves, like hybrid incorporeal and corporeal. The skeletons are not neg plane tied, though were at some point. Animated bones only now. That means their neg plane essence is out there somewhere else.
He has necromancer brothers he wishes were around to truly explain all that.
If we can retrieve the crown of the Cairn Wight King (last king of the race; the race were exterminated in a war with the Celestines) in his room they will likely ignore.
The rune marking this particular cave is of the Northmen, but which stretches across many cultures, called Ansuz, a derivitive of the Malakaz chief it is named after: Andzus. The rune does change some in meaning across cultures.
We found a jetblack short sword with gold wiring on handle found in the tomb of the Malakaz chief, in the wraith's room. He tells us it is not the chief's main weapon, or he would have taken it. The design is too new, in the last couple decades of the Master's rule. It's powerful, not evil, but neither good. It will allow us to carry and transport us but will not let us wield it. Likely whoever is bearing the chief's essence was the one who brought it here. The Malakaz didn't need it so left it here.
Archileus asks if he can summon, he can! Archileus writes a note to the riders and sends it out on a small summoned bird after the Master of Heat and flame warps a corner of the door open just large enough for it to fit. It lands at him outside, obvious note attached. It instructs to assault, with Kalestios's magic, from this side and blow their signal horn to lighten our burden getting to the crown.
Late night Priest and rider arrive.
We gather loot in this center room in the meantime:
Chest of coin: 67pp; 430gp; 240sp; 700cp; gems 90 amber, 120 amber, 80 blue spinnel 110 pearl, 90 tourmaline
Augmented ancient breastplate (= half plate): on chest is symbol clenched fist holding a ring of what was gold, but paint is mostly off; hand was painted of silver. Looks like a Celestial's armor. plus 1 magic! vs good foe becomes massive bonus like plus 20. Maybe it won't like wearier fighting good people at all, then. Vs true evil = light fort.
Otyugh hide leather (tentacles still hang off back) armor = leather
Potions: invis to undead; prot chaos
3 man chariot in decent shape. Archileus says we will use this as a ram through the skeletons.
Morning, Kalestios and guide are met by one of Archileus's 2 riders at the turn south around the hills. He guides them south, arrives tonight.
The other rider has seen the inside of the tunnel and received the bird's message. He blows the signal horn to alert those inside of the arrival.
After daybreak, the desolate cave escape begins. The riders attack from the entrance to draw some weight off of us, backed up by Kalestios magic.
The skeletons turn out to be very brittle. The chariot as a ram is a master stroke by Archileus, we get to the room with no issues but sweat.
The master checks out the crown, and feels the skeletons will obey the wearer, but he can't wear it. He won't explain. Archileus will do it, he tells them to return to their tombs, and they do.
He says we now command these animate objects, of sorts.
We loot the tomb:
1000gp in coin
2 10lb bags salt
10lb bolt of canvas
8 boxes 20 arrowheads
14 50' ropes
5lb iron prybar
11 mortor and pestles
12 pairs dice
23 10' poles
signet ring of the cairn wight
41 small casks oil
2 hunting traps
Meanwhile, kalestios and the master study the stories in the wall art. the race was buried here by survivors of the race. There are hints as to where the remnants went: South of here and underground. Interesting. Do they still survive?
There are 5 other caves around this extent of hills. We could have an army of animated object skeletons. Thousands!
Back to Pride Rock.
Kalestios will stay behind with the 2 riders. He will wear the crown, gather all the skeletons from the other tombs all together, and bring them to the hills north of here, south of the river fork. This could be a useful though brittle army if needed later vs the gnolls.
Night, Hoblites return to Pride Rock.