As the team walked back down the hallway, they saw that beyond a gate the hallway turned to the left while there was another door straight ahead.
"We need to hurry, so let's split up," Faith instructed. "Compel and Ardan with me, we'll take the door straight ahead. Malut, Thysmac and Twila, take the left turn and clear out any cultists and sahuagin you can find. We'll check our room then come back you up."
Everyone nodded and Malut pulled the lever to lift the creaky gate.
"Go quickly," Faith whispered loudly. "They've probably heard us."
Faith, Compel and Ardan pushed through the wood door ahead to see another downward sloping hallway, very similar to the last room they had cleared. As they came around the corner a sahuagin was intoning a low chant.
"Kragwulf Heyton, in life you served the light. In death you will arise to serve your sahuagin masters!" said the sahuagin in a gurgly, fishy voice.
Faith felt her anger swell as two zombies arose and shuffled toward them. The zombies moaned and she realized that was one of the sounds they had been hearing from the crypt, the wails of the reanimated corpses. She would not let the bones on the altar be reanimated. She threw herself at the sahuagin, but he saw her coming and had turned with his spear aimed at her. She felt a blow to her shoulder but paid no attention as she punched and kicked the foul fishman until he fell, never to rise again. Ardan shot arrows at the altar and it cracked, dropping another blue crest with a gold backing.
Compel quickly picked up the crest and said, "Let's keep moving."
Ardan noticed Faith's wound as they turned down the hallway where the others had gone ahead.
"You're bleeding," he said.
Faith hadn't really noticed until now. Suddenly she realized there was a sharp stinging from her shoulder.
"I'll be ok," she assured him, touching the leather bracer on her wrist, then the wounded shoulder. The bleeding stopped and the pain abated, but she knew it was only temporary aid.
They passed several cultist bodies and more desecrated sarcophogi in the hallway. They came to a wider spot in the hall where a wood door blocked the way to the left and a large blue magic shield blocked a room down a short hall to the right. Ardan opened the wood door while Faith and Compel looked through the magic barrier and saw a sahuagin pulling a body from a ruined sarcopogi. This room was bigger and more important looking than the others they had seen but had one of the odd purple skull-headed altars in the center, just as the other two had.
"It's a shrine," Ardan said from behind them. "You can rest here, it will heal you."
"I don't have time to rest, they are about to raise that body in there!" Faith was frustrated. But she didn't know how to get in... then she saw three faded brass plates on the wall, in the shape of the crests they had found.
"Compel, put the crest here," she suggested.
Compel placed the crest in the first socket, but nothing happened. It fell away when she moved her hand. However when she placed the crest in the second socket, it stuck there as if held by a magnetic force.
"We need the other two crests!" Faith exclaimed.
"Look, you two get at that rest shrine and I'll go fetch the others. Thysmac's carrying at least one crest and maybe they've found a third by now," Ardan suggested.
Faith reluctantly agreed; she didn't want to be weak during the coming fight because she felt they were getting close to being too late to stop the ritual. She glanced through the barrier to see zombies shuffling around the room and the sahuagin still working over the body in the rubble. It wasn't on the altar yet, maybe they had time still.
They entered the small room opposite the force field. There were two large stone statues or women in the small room flanking a magical blue fire. The fire didn't put out any heat but the light from it had a calming effect.
"This one," said Compel, seating herself in front of the statue of the lady holding a glowing blue crescent moon. Faith followed and did the same. As she lowered her head, she slowly felt her wounds being healed and her strength returning. She didn't know how long she had been sitting there but suddenly her eyes were open and she felt invigorated. Compel had stood up and looked ready to go as well.
"Let's go," said Faith.
Before they reached the door, Ardan and Twila appeared from further down the hall. Malut and Thysmac were already in front of the barrier, trying to fit the crests into the sockets. Suddenly, the blue field disappeared and they heard a now familiar chanting.
"Kyleanne Heyton d'Cannith, dragonmarked noblewoman of House Cannith, you shall be the lowly servant of those who now command you," chanted the eerie voice as the sahuagin waved a scepter over the dessicated body on the altar. Zombies surrounded the altar, staring mindlessly at the sahuagin necromancer.
The team charged the room. Faith leaped over the altar at the necromancer while Ardan destroyed it with arrows from across the room. Twila dispatched one zombie after another with her blades while Thysmac zapped any zombie within range of his hands with a shocking touch, alternately pounding them with his quarterstaff. Malut simply stood in one place and swung as the zombies came for him and soon, all was quiet except for the heavy breathing of the exhausted party.
"We did it," Faith was triumphant. "We stopped them from making any more zombies and we released those they had already raised."
"It's not over Faith," said Twila. "I think we found how they are getting in. This way!"
They raced out the hallway and down the direction that Twila's party had taken. Ahead was an open door and to the left was an odd sight... a small flooded room containing a chest on a dais. The body of a cultist lay next to the chest. Beyond the chest, the hallway curved up to the left.
"Did you kill that guy there?" asked Ardan.
Malut shook his head. "We didn't have time to come up here, " said Thysmac. "We had just cleared that room at the end of the hallway and picked up the third crest when you found us."
They heard the sound of rocks grinding on rocks distantly, then they heard it again. Thysmac started foward into the water room but Twila held up a hand to stop him and Ardan put his finger to his lips to indicate silence.
"Someone's coming," he whispered, barely audible.
Indeed, there were careless footsteps slapping quickly against the rock floor and in seconds, a figure appeared from the curved hallway. Jacoby Drexelhand stopped in shock to see the team staring at him from the other side of the water.
"You meddling troublemakers! You're still alive. You've ruined everything," he screeched in frustration. "It's your fault the mayor and the others are milling about in the storehouse isn't it? Well, no nevermind, I can still escape and you will not live long once I do!"
He pulled a lever on the floor on his side of the water room. A gate slammed shut behind the adventurers and a lid rose up from under a pile of dirt in the shallow water just beyond the chest. Jacoby spun a ring on his finger and an air bubble surrounded his head.
"You've just forced the sahuagin to act now instead of later," he cackled, "Say goodbye to your pitiful short lives and goodbye to Korthos Village!"
Then he jumped into the hole. Before they could cross the room, the lid slammed shut and a spray of deadly acid shot out of the wall, nearly reaching the far wall. At the same time, a gates closed behind them, trapping them inside the room with the pool. Twila was already searching and soon found a control box to disable the acid trap. Malut tried to pull up the gate behind them with his bare hands but it wouldn't budge. The others waited for Twila to disable the trap. They heard an audible "click" and within seconds, the acid stopped spraying.
"Nice work," Thysmac praised.
Twila beamed with pleasure. "I did it! I am a decent rogue."
Malut pulled a lever he found near the floor on the far side of the pool and tried to move it. Ardan immediately went to examine the portal lid in the floor.
"It's stuck," said Malut, turning red in the face from exerting himself on the lever. "It won't go."
"This seems to be sealed as well; we aren't getting out through the water tunnel," relayed Ardan.
"I'm looting this chest," announced Twila. "I think we earned it."
In their panic at being trapped, they had forgotten the chest in the center of the room. Well, everyone but Twila had forgotten. With that she opened the chest and the others gathered round to take their share.
"Jacoby came this way," said Faith, heading up the curved hallway. "There must be a way out."
But the hallway ended in a solid wall.
"That doesn't make sense," Faith argued. "How did Jacoby get in?"
"Wait, I sense something," Twila interrupted and started to look around left and right. Directly in front of them, a section of the wall lit up faintly.
"Here," she said and touching the lit area, a section of the wall slid away, rock grinding against rock, to reveal the entrance hallway. They were back at the front door.
"You are brilliant!" Faith told Twila.
"Nice job," Malut clapped her on the back and even though she pitched forward a little from the blow, she smiled happily back at him.
They raced quickly to the door of the crypt, but it seemed to be locked.
"I can't open it," Faith said.
"Stand back," ordered Malut and they did. He swung his greataxe over his head, impacting the door just above the lock. The metal door dented and crumpled a little. Malut swung again and again and soon the handle and the lock were twisted and bent. He gave the door a great yank and it gave way, opening to let in the pastel light of three moons shining on the snow.
"Let's go," he said and he didn't have to say it twice.