The Hollow Earth

Lair of the Crocolich

GOODBYE MU’FRELLAN

Time to Leave

Big breakfast spread of food provided by Mu’Frellan.

Mu’Frellan needs the PCs to come outside and come over to Gracie. Gracie is a simple camel that has four humps. She bends down and lets the PCs climb up on her back. Despite the load, she seems to be able to handle it just fine.

The PCs are asked by Mu’Frellan is there’s anything they need to do before they go. Regardless of the reply, Gracie turns around and looks at them all. She brews up an awful ball of snot and goo and spits it on the PCs, causing them to become overwhelmed by the smell. The rest of the world begins to spin out and they’re teleported away. As they go, they can hear Mu’Frellan say quickly, “I’m terribly sorry about the awful mess but it’s the only way to transport you across the desert without my ring and don’t forget to get it back from the university for me at some poinnnntttt…” and then the world goes black.

SCHOLAR’S CAMP

Sudden Arrival

The PCs land on top of each other, each covered with thick black goo. It takes a few minutes but the world stops spinning and they realize you’re very, very far away from where they were a short time ago.

The PCs are at the mouth of a narrow canyon that towers tall overhead. It is approximately 1 meter wide at most. At the mouth of the canyon is a small, broken crates half buried in the sand. From inside the canyon the sound of chimes gently clinking together and people talking.

Camp Guard

Gorah, an elderly man who knows a lot about combat but hasn’t seen any in a long time. He’s long retired and guarding groups like this is sort of a hobby to him. He is currently under the employ of Balad University to protect this caravan while they do their research. He tells the PCs they’re early, then asks where the rest of the supply caravan is. He’s not sure where Professor Lim is but says they can ask the students – they’ll know for sure.

Students

Dam, a researcher who talks slowly and purposefully. He appears to be dim-witted but has extensive knowledge of desert communities and construction procedures (his specialty).

Jin is a tall, skinny elf with dark, ashen skin, white hair, and a purple tunic. She talks quickly and has an air about her that boasts superiority. She’s a hard worker who’s always eager to go on a dig, and always wants to be the first to uncover relics. She seems to have little patience for what they’re doing now, sifting sand and looking for small fragments while Professor Lim is inside.

Adala, a researcher who knows a lot about digs and the dig site. She can answer any questions the PCs have. She will correct anyone who is wrong, not meaning to be a jerk but almost always coming off that way. She is Professor Lim’s closest research partner and can describe a bit more of the dig site and where the professor might be.

White Dog, Kelev is in a plain dog house positioned near the students who are working sifting dirt and sand. Nearby, between two rocks is a makeshift doghouse made of old crates and boxes. Since it joined their caravan in Hux, the group befriended this female dog who they’ve since named Kelev.

In Whistler’s Throat, Kelev helped them deal with a large black scorpion that attacked their camp at night. The dog is a white greyhound with some small black patches on her shoulders and reacts nicely to anyone who approaches. Kelev is clearly of her own mind and won’t follow anyone she doesn’t want to. She will accept snacks and drinks but seems to prefer running around, chasing insects, scorpions, and snakes, etc. to any real purposeful action.

CAMP SUPPLIES

  • 3x Cure Moderate Wounds (2d8hp)
  • 1x Cure Light Wounds (1d8hp)
  • 1x Potion of Magic Fang (+1 to any unarmed attacks and unarmed dmg rolls for 1minute/10round)
  • 3 days of water/food rations
  • 5 camels
  • 1 horse

ENTRY GATE – SOBEK’S GLORY

The gate is a long, wide room with pillars supporting the roof, all covered in symbols and hieroglyphs painted with earthen colours. Large figures are carved into the walls depicting half-women, half-crocodile figures, pouring water into the Ayfan river and life sprouting from beyond it.

There is also a wall depicting a vast army of soldiers and another massive crocodile figure fighting all of them at once.

At the foot of this mural you find a larger woman with long black hair, large hoop earrings, and a simple, square brown hat on her head. It’s Professor Lim.

She is studying the hieroglyphs and symbols on the walls:

  • The temple is called Sobek’s Glory
  • It’s a tribute to Sobek, a crocodile god worshipped by Ayfans and revered for his triumphs in vitality, fertility, water, and war.
  • There is a set of three strange symbols that make passing reference of a hidden key called “the serpent’s rib”, protected by Sobek’s terrible fury. The three symbols are:
  • A Boat
  • A clutch of reeds
  • A cane and khopesh crossed at the middle
  • There is an obvious door at the end of the room, sealed with a clutch of bones, bindings with hemp, and sealed with wax.

WARM CANYON

Beyond the gate to Sobek’s temple is a winding canyon that’s fairly well lit from above via a large cracks in the roof. Not large enough to see clear sky, meaning it must be bouncing off more cracks from above.

Professor Lim leads the group and ignores any suggestions that she not head into the fray. As she goes around a corner ahead, you hear her shout and you hear a familiar clattering sound coming from where she is. By the time you arrive she’s been caught by the neck one of the large scorpions and is grasping at the claws to get it to release her. If she’s not released in 1 round of combat, she’ll die with her head popped off.

SOBEK’S MAW

Beyond the canyon is a small rectangular room that shows Sobek smashing groups of warriors. There is a central door with two diamond-shaped recesses in it. On either side of the room are two secret doors that lead to two rooms that hold the keys for the door in the Maw.

WHEAT DIAMOND ROOM

Across a bottomless chasm, is a perfectly round room with a large clay pot in a pedestal in the centre. On the walls are depicted scenes of mortals working alongside the half-crocodile people reaping the benefits of an endless harvest of wheat. In another scene, people are being anointed with water and having their organs removed and put into canopic jars but seem to be celebrating eternal life.

There is a secret door in this room that leads to a worker’s bunk and some refuse. Smaller characters can squeeze inside without a problem. At first glance there isn’t much there (3 gold coins) but hidden under the bunk is a diamond-shaped slab with pair of wheat on it (Investigation check, DC6).

If the players look in the jar before investigating the other room, they’ll release a Tekenu, a floating mass of entrails, and they’ll have to fight.

BOAT DIAMOND ROOM

About 30’ high, this room has a large statue of one of the half-human half-crocodile women holding a large basin up at the sky seemingly in the middle of the room, pointed toward a wall. Pouring from a hole in the celling is a steady, but narrow stream of black water that collects in a central drain (about half a foot in diameter) and then trickles away. The floor tiles feature an interesting system of grooves that subdivide the tiles into four squares.

The PCs have to push the statue along the system of grooves in the floor so that the statue collects the water and prevents it from going straight to the drain. Pushing the statue requires a STR check (DC 16). People can push it together. For each PC that does, the DC is reduced by 1 (up to 3 people can really get a push on the statue at one time). On each pusher’s turn, the statue can be moved 1 square.

Once the statue is moved into position and the basic catches the water, the water overflows into the room itself and anywhere it touches lichen, moss, reeds, and other small plants grow up. Some small dragonflies appear and flit around the room. If anyone catches the falling water and drinks it, it will recover up to 1d12 lost HP and remove any status effects on a PC (stunned, etc.). It can be bottled and retains the same HP gain and status repair.

When this clear water flows into the central drain, a pedestal rises up from it, revealing a stone tablet in the shape of a diamond. Once the pedestal is in place, the water stops flowing and the plants in the room slowly wither and vanish into the ground again. On the tablet is the symbol of a boat.

CROCOLICH LAIR

When the two stone tablets are fitted into the central door in Sobek’s Maw, a low rumble of thunder that can be heard and the ground begins to slightly with some small chunks of stone fall from the celling. In the Warm Canyon room, some rocks fall from the ceiling too, letting in more light, but the avalanche isn’t anything to be worried about. The wall ahead actually falls inward and the rocks stop falling. Once the dust clears, a dark room lies ahead. The previous room illuminates about 15/3 squares of the immediate entrance but beyond that the room is dark. From what you can see, silver and gold coins lie on the floor along either side of the room. If illuminated, piles of coins, jars, bottles, and statues of large crocodile figures painted with gold is revealed. You can again hear a low rumble of thunder drift from the dark room beyond.

On either side of the room are basins that can be lit if the PCs want to do so.

There is a group of 20 plainly-sculpted humanoid figures of various sizes with their hands up, palms facing toward the left side of the room. Whatever they’re pointing at is hidden by a corner in the room and a column. Around the corner is a shallow altar topped with a large statue. The statue is a large gold human with a crocodile’s head. It’s wearing a gold headdress and a shimmering mantle inlaid with gems. Its arms are crossed in front of its chest. Floating in midair before it is a simple wooden rod about a foot and a half long.

Once the PCs cross into the group of them, the statue comes to life, shouting something in an ancient language at them with an awful roar. If Professor Lim is still alive she’ll translate:

“Cower, dregs of the dark crone! You threaten the sanctity of Sobek’s temple by seeking the gate’s key, wisely protected by the external foresight of Sobek. Your queen will not succeed and the key will remain hidden. You will not leave here alive!"

Crocolich Fight!

The creature will begin fighting hand to hand and will attack with tail slashes and touch-based attacks. Once reduced to half HP, it will reach out and grab the rod floating before it and draw a curved scimitar great sword from midair.

When equipped with this sword, the Crocolich has reach and the ability to trip targets. When defeated it is possible to pick up the weapon.

COLD CANYON

Beyond this room is another canyon illuminated from above. Curiously, scanning overhead the PCs see a long rope coming from one of the cracks onto a column’s plateau to the right of the space. Then another rope comes down from that into an area beyond the stone forest-like set of columns just inside the room.

There were the bodies of three tomb raiders in this part of the dungeon. One of which is dressed like one of the agents (he is dressed similar to Mung) encountered earlier and the other two are a human cleric and a halfling fighter. The cleric is clutching a green pendant.

If picked up, the pendant is an Eye of Elsewhere. It grants its bearer +2 to Perception checks involving the detection of secret doors and passageways.

The agent has a folded up rudimentary map of the desert that points to a cliffside oasis that appears to be a couple of weeks’ journey from here, and another point called “Lady’s Rest” further out in the desert wastes, marked with a large black pyramid.

On the map is written:

“We’re looking for a key, known as one of the Serpent’s Ribs. They’ve almost all the ones they need to unlock the great gate’s secrets. Other agents are scouring the world for remaining keys. You’ll never be able to stop them in time."

If searched, the fighter and cleric have recognizable items on them. The cleric bears a tattoo of Gunnar’s paladin/monk order and the halfling has a beaded braid of hair, a characteristic of someone from Akrotiri. When defeated, it’s revealed that the agent has had one of his ears docked, a trademark of someone from Merisiel’s tribe who betrayed the tribe.

HIDDEN TEMPLE

If used, the cleric’s pendant will reveal an illusory passageway between some stones that leads into a natural, bowl-shaped clearing with steep sides that is open to the air. On the wall is one massive sculpture of a large skeletal serpent, dominating the sky.

It’s missing some of its ribs and lines stream from it down the wall to the bowl below. The lines stop at different points but one line continues down the centre of the space to a small rod sticking up out of the ground about 4”.

When pulled from the ground it’s revealed to be a wand exactly like the one Ezren/Furio have been carrying and using the entire time. It functions in exactly the same way as the other does, except that it doesn’t hurt the user (yet).

GRISLY SCENE

At this time, Kelev runs in to where the PCs are, barking like crazy. Her muzzle is stained with blood, she has a clean gash on her right flank, and there’s a scrap of purple cloth in her teeth. The PCs follow her outside to find the grisly camp site and to find that the students and Gorah are dead and that Jin is missing.

Professor Lim will demand to stay here (as she’s set to receive supplies the next day) and will keep Kelev with her for protection. The PCs can spend the night there to keep her safe before the caravan appears before heading out themselves. The next day, Kelev has no interest in leaving the camp site with the PCs, instead is chilling out in her doghouse watching Professor Lim carefully and purposefully.

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