Unaware that Andres, Adam, and the frozen Thracian perished while Bam and Hark are alive but trapped in the tomb, Xan and Barbara return to the ship for additional resources.
Eldwin, Cad, and first-timer lock pick extraordinaire Cory return to the ruins without Barbara or Xan. On the way, they spot a four-armed white ape deep in the jungle but not far from camp. The creature avoids them.
The three take the usual route through the ruins. They find the Gnoll and Minotaur guard posts empty and the trap door leading to the frozen hallway held open by a rock from a nearby crumbling wall.
Upon reaching the tomb area, they see the cut rope and Eldwin immediately spots Bam looking down at them.
They throw a new rope up and tie it to the gargoyle statue as before. The three climb it pulling the rope up behind them. Then they hear the tragic water trap story and see the evidence of the frantic digging into the two-foot thick stone doors.
The group quadruples their efforts finally breaking through. A river of water torrents out the hole creating a river of water that waterfalls into the statue room below. Eventually, the torrent subsides into a small but continual flow as the vault empties. Eldwin spots Andres’ ring float by and scoops it up.
The hole is now big enough for Eldwin to enter. He sees the grisly twisted and melted bars formally blocking the ceiling chute and the three corpses of his fellow explorers. The group works the hole so it is big enough for all to pass. The thief deactivates the original trap mechanism and then they investigate the chute.
Cory climbs up and hammers in pitons to reach the landing where the Thracian met his fate. The elf follows in support. They take out the adamantine snake construct and begin inventorying the treasure it guarded. They leave the chest with the king’s dinner set, copper coins and demonic-looking ring, but remove all the other Thracian coins, a golden magical bowl, and an awesome-looking golden glaive.
Thinking the shaft up might lead to the surface, the thief scales it to a forgotten secret trap door. Opening it, he emerges into a circular room of decadent Thracian design. Standing guard in a Deathwalker wearing a skull painted facemask and exorbitant Thracian plate mail. Cory sneaks up from behind and slits his throat killing him in seconds. He then peers behind the mauve curtains and witnesses a tall black statue of the god Thanatos. He closes the curtains and returns to the others. As he closes the trap door, he slips almost falling seventy feet, but a piton provides stopping power as it gashes his chest. Saved and bleeding, Cory climbs down and joins the others.
About this time, they decide to avoid the minotaur, gnoll, and dog brother war band waiting in the rivulet-divided statue room below. The group avoids the beastmen then investigates the unexplored web-clogged stairwell leading north. They use torches to burn the web and quietly make their way to the top of the stairs. Who knows when or if the Beastmen will follow.
From the top, they open an ancient door closed for millennia into a hallway lit ghastly green from the glowing eyes of skulls mounted every five feet down either side of the hall.
They turn left to an empty chamber with a 40’ ceiling. Once they step inside the room, everything changes. A near blinding column of golden light shines down directly on a pedestal on the rooms opposite side. None of the light touches anything but the pedestal, but illuminates the room. They see the walls decorated with ornate fresco paintings showing activities of unknown gods and heroes.
Basking in the light lounging on the pedestal is Ontussa (a gynosphinx) as she introduces herself. She riddles them about what knowledge they seek. The immediate answer is not to her liking so she requests gold for their naivety. She wants all the Thracian coins she detects they carry. The group, not immediately forthcoming and somewhat taken aback by her rudeness, hesitates. She symbols a sign of sleep; Cory, Harkness, and Bam drop to the floor snoring. Eldwin and Cad remain awake.
Cad bows in fake sincerity then swings a sneaky mace uppercut surprising the gynosphinx. Battle ensues. The two heroes finish the haughty sphinx then wake the others.
At this time, the door behind the sphinx’s pedestal opens revealing a glowing blood red hall beyond.
They investigate and a werelion statue at hallway’s end animates transmuting through the stone floor as it attacks them.
After destroying the living statue, Cory peers behind the set of curtains to see what the werelion guarded. He finds a circular room with two remarkable and large holes: one a central pit possibly leading to the abyss and the other a strange black shallow darkness containing a chest. It is at this moment Cory realizes his hands are affixed to the curtains!
They burn off the gluey curtains terribly scarring Cory’s hands. They now look ghastly but remain functional.