The party continues their journey through the temple
With the smell of smoke in the air, the group found themselves standing together, alive, at the far end of the town just past the trees and portal. A doorway had opened in the barrier revealing a corridor beyond.
They briefly discussed the events that had just occurred. Iyanden asked Tobi why he did not fight like that during their encounters and he explained that he was always too busy trying to keep them all alive rather than killing them.
Andra was a little disgruntled over being the first one downed and feeling a bit targeted. She turned and headed into the corridor. Tobi called after her, "Hey! You might want me to go first and check for traps."
Andra looked ahead of her and saw nothing and shouted back and replied over her shoulder, "I'm fine. I'm being careful. There is nothing here."
The words had barely escaped her lips when she felt a little pressure just above her ankle and then a 'snap' as a wire was broken. Two bolts fired from the darkness and struck her in her shoulders. Andra grunted and had to concede that perhaps Tobi should go in the front.
Tobi began to search carefully for anything out of place. He came across another trip wire and carefully disarmed it. He noticed that just on the other side of the trip wire, several of the stones did not look quite right in the floor. Upon closer investigation, he discovered they were pressure plates that would have caught anyone trying to jump over the trip wire. He disabled the pressure plate on the left and directed everyone to walk on that side, avoiding the pressure plate to the right.
The group continued down the corridor until it came to a T intersection. They looked both directions. They noticed some gargoyle heads high on the walls in the left corridor and did not see anything to the right. They decided to go to the right.
They continued carefully and uneventfully for a time before they began to hear a whooshing noise. As they continued and the noise grew louder, Voyou and Andra both thought the sound reminded them of the sound of swinging a blade through the air. Soon they were able to see movement ahead and it was indeed swinging blades. Five rows of large, curved blades swung back and forth across the corridor in sets of two. Before Tobi even had a chance to look for a way to disable the trap, Iyanden summoned her echo and sent it ahead between set of the blades and when the echo was not destroyed, she switched places with it.
Tobi looked for a lever or pressure plate or chain or anything that might disable the blades but could not find anything.
Iyanden continued to place her echo ahead and change places with it and safely made it beyond the blades. Andra stared intently and listened, timing the blades and dodged the first set. She skimmed through the second set of blades so closely that a bit of fabric was shaved off the back of her pants. Once she was between the second and third blades, the sounds both in front and behind her caused her to mess up her timing and as she dodged through, one of the blades caught her shoulder and thigh. This caused her to go into a rage and she charged through the next set unscathed. She nearly made it through the last set but did not pull her leg through quick enough, the blade nicking her calf and heel.
In the meantime, Voyou reached into his bag and pulled out a red cloak, the Cape of the Mountebank. He traded cloaks and then told Torrig he would get them across. Grasping Torrig's arm, Voyou used the cloak to cast dimension door and transported them safely to the other side.
Tobi got close to the floor to see how much space was between the blades and the cobblestones. It was less than an inch. He watched for a moment and then rolled deftly between the first set, dodged the second, ducked between the third, darted past the fourth, and finally, rolled through the last and popped to his feet in front of the rest of the party smiling.
Andra scowled as she sat on the floor tying the bandage around her calf although she did get some satisfaction seeing that Tobi had rolled through some of her blood and now had red smudges soaking into his armor.
They continued down the corridor to another T intersection. To the left, there was only a shallow alcove and to the left, a corridor. They were suspicious of the alcove and thought perhaps it was a false wall. Upon feeling it, it felt like a stone wall. Andra tried pushing it and then Voyou stepped up to push with her but the wall did not budge. Iyanden was looking closely at the corners where the walls met and realized she could get her fingernails in between so there seemed to be a crack running vertically to each side. Tobi determined that there did not appear to be any traps. Torrig, having grown up around among what might be considered by some to be some of the best stone architects in Illyria, stepped closer. to investigate and determined the wall would slide upwards. Andra and Voyou tried to lift it but could not get it to budge.
Checking the corridor, Tobi noticed a slight concave curvature down the center of the floor. Andra poured a little of her water onto the floor and noticed that it trickled away from the alcove. They decided to go down the corridor but keep an eye behind them because they just knew that the wall was probably hiding something horrible that would be unleashed behind them if they triggered a trap. As they continued carefully down the hallway, they saw that the hallway seemed to end in spikes sticking horizontally out of the wall facing them. They did detect a shadowy area to the right that appeared to be an opening in the wall just before the spikes.
Tobi looked meticulously and he did find more pressure plates. He knelt down and got his dagger and thieves tools. He intended to disarm the pressure plate the same as he had done previously but no sooner had he slightly lifted the stone to get a better look at the mechanism than the sound of grating stone followed by a large 'kaboom' and then the sound of a large boulder rolling down the corridor reached their ears.
The group took off running. Startled, Iyanden cast Bigby's Interposing Hand behind her as she ran. The surge of adrenaline caused her wild magic to flare and she found herself hovering in the hallway. Andra pushed Iyanden ahead of her, hoping she could make it to the opening before the boulder smashed them into the spikes.
Tobi and Voyou were the first to reach the opening. They had seen the remains of skeletons in the spikes as they ran but did not have time for a closer look as they turned the corner into the narrower hallway. No sooner had they taken a couple steps when jets of fire burst out from the walls on each side. Tobi was able to duck and roll just in time but Voyou took the full blast.
Tobi yelled, "Fire!" just in case those behind them had not seen the blast. Torrig was next and he slowed slightly as he came to the narrow corridor. He saw a glyph on the floor and jumped over it realizing too late as the fire once against burst towards him, that the glyph was not a pressure plate but instead seemed to be triggered by anyone passing beyond it. A bit singed, he followed after Tobi and Voyou.
Andra kept running, pushing Iyanden in front of her. Bigby's Hand was not able to stop the boulder but it ever so slightly slowed the momentum giving Andra just enough time to swing Iyanden into the corridor and step in herself. As they turned the corner, Iyanden reached out and grabbed at a leather strap she had spotted amongst the spikes. She was scraped by the spikes but did manage to grab the strap and pull away a small satchel as she was pushed into the corridor and into the flames that shot from the walls. With the shove from Andra and pushing herself off the wall, she avoided some of the flames as she bumped against Torrig's back as the boulder smashed into the spikes.
Andra turned and waited to see if the boulder would somehow reset or disappear. While Andra waited, Iyanden opened the satchel. She could hear the clinking of broken glass so she was careful as she removed items. She pulled out a small, silver bell. Next she pulled out a bag of caltrops. Remembering the battle royale, she tossed those to Torrig. She then pulled out a small, brass, clockwork bee. Lastly, she removed a small box full of buttons.
When the boulder failed to do anything, Andra gave up. She decided to take a page from Tobi's book and did a barrel roll and managed to dodge the gouts of flame. With everyone regrouped, they discovered they were in a similar corridor with an alcove on one and and spikes on the other. Again, they made their way down the hallway and Tobi pointed out the pressure plate stones. They decided to avoid messing with them all together. Voyou walked up the wall and bypassed the trapped stones. Iyanden was still hovering so Voyou just held her arm and pulled her long like a balloon. Torrig took out the carpet and spoke the word to activate the flying feature and he and Andra both got on the carpet. Voyou and Iyanden went to the end of the hallway to look into the corridor and see if there was anything interesting in the spikes. The corridor was just another narrow, dark hallway. There were some skeletons in the spikes but there did not appear to be anything of interest.
Torrig and Andra flew over the trapped stones and down the corridor toward Voyou and Iyanden. Tobi was still on the far side of the stones. Andra stepped off the carpet and as her weight hit the floor, the entire hallway shifted and went from a horizontal corridor to a vertical pit. Iyanden was still hovering and Voyou was stuck to the floor, which was now a wall due to his Cloak of Arachnida. Torrig managed to hang onto the Carpet of Flying. Andra and Tobi, however, fell downward toward the spikes. Andra landed mostly across Voyou but she did press down on Iyanden causing Iyanden to be jabbed by several spikes. Tobi missed Torrig on his descent and landd on Andra and Voyou which pushed Iyanden onto the spikes a bit more.
Torrig reachd down and hauled Tobi onto the carpet with him. Andra pulled herself completely onto Voyou and reached down to help Iyanden as Iyanden extricated herself from the spikes.
They realized that weight had caused the hallway to turn into a pit trap. Iyanden noticed a lever amongst the spikes. She reached down and pulled it. They heard stone grating against stone and an opening appeared in wall in the same place it been above revealing a corridor. Iyanden floated through followed by Torrig and Tobi on the carpet. Andra wrapped herself around Voyou like a backpack, trying to make herself as easy to hold and not unbalance him as he judged how to leap through the doorway and hopefully get them both through without being crushed as the corridor would move once their weight was removed.
Voyou dove through the opening and he and Andra crashed to the floor, hurt, but alive. Andra remained on the floor. "Fuck it. I'm resting right here."
Hover wore off of Iyanden. She walked to the end of the corridor and looked and saw that it opened into a slightly wider, short corridor. They decided this would be a good place to rest. While they rested, Iyanden showed everyone the stuff she found in the satchel and asked Torrig if he could examine everything and identify if there was anything of any use. All of the items were mundane except for the little brass bee which Iyanden said she had already named Macey. Torrig determined that it was a Clockwork Healerbee and if one was attuned to it, it would fly and could deliver healing to those in need. They discussed who might be able to use it and Tobi said he could so Iyanden passed Macey to Tobi.
After resting, they continued through the corridors until they came to a large, open room. They could see there was a 15 foot moat that surrounded an area of floor and a walkway leading through a doorway on the opposite side of the room. All around the room high up on the walls were stone dragon heads with slightly glowing blue gems for eyes. Everyone had the feeling they were being watched. Tobi also noticed there were planks of wood laying around on the floor on their side of the moat.
Andra walked up and took out one of her regular javelins and stuck one end into the inky black liquid in the moat to see what it was. It was slightly viscous and stuck a bit to the javelin. She noticed that it had corroded her javelin a bit as the liquid slowly dripped off.
"It's some kind of acidic stuff," she informed the rest of the group.
They decided that Torrig should get on the carpet and try and fly across. As soon as he got on the carpet and started to fly, chained lightning came out of the mouths of the two nearest dragon heads. They all were jolted by the lightning bolts. Andra reached over and dragged Torrig off the carpet.
"I guess we find another way across," she stated.
Tobi started dragging one of the planks over and Voyou and Andra grabbed the other two. They estimated that each plank was roughly twelve feet long. They decided to make a bridge by having Voyou stand on one plank and having Torrig walk out on it and slide a second plank out to him to lay across the end of the plank and the floor of the island in the center of the room. Torig placed the plank but lost his balance while crossing and fell but managed to grab the plank. He felt the acid burning as he pulled himself up and across the rest of the way. He used prestidigitation to remove the rest of the liquid from himself as it continued to burn his skin.
Tobi made his way across easily as Torrig stood on the opposite plank to help stabilize it. Iyanden lifted up the edges of her robes and scampered across, nearly tripping as one of her heels slipped off the side of the plank but she regained her balance and made it safely across. Andra matter-of-factly walked across. and took the third plank with her. They placed the third plank on the end of the one Torrig was standing on so that all of them could add extra weight for Voyou to cross. Voyou repositioned his plank so the far end was now on top of the opposite plank. He made it a little more than halfway before losing his balance and falling into the murky moat. The group hurriedly shoved a plank toward Voyou and he grabbed it and they helped haul him out. Iyanden and Torrig worked together to get the acid off Voyou.
They went through the doorway into another corridor leading to ornate doors. The doors were the image of a dragon with the curve of each wing forming the outer curve of the doors. They saw that the nostrils indented as a type of door handle. They decided Voyou should be the one to open the door.
Voyou pulled the door open and they stepped into a large room. The center of the room was dominated by a floor to ceiling hourglass that looked like the one Voyou carried. There were elaborate murals on each wall. On either side of the hourglass in intervals of 10 feet were pedestals with a basin atop them. There were plaques with writing on each pedestal.
Before they could step forward to read the plaques on the pedestals, an Androsphinx stepped around the hourglass. His gaze scanned over the group and settled on Voyou.
"You have come to be Bahamut's champion. You have passed the trials so far. Let us now test your wits." He then turned and walked through a doorway on the opposite end of the room. As the door closed behind him, the doors slammed shut behind them as well. Sand began to pour through the large hourglass and the images in the murals began to move as though living.
They ran to the first pedestal and read:
I am there for sorrow and great mirth,
often present at the moments of death and birth,
I'll be there in your hour of pain,
but you'll hardly notice me in the rain
Andra realized the answer was 'tears'. She tried to think of things to make herself sad. Iyanden said, "Excuse me," and stepped past Andra to the basin. In no time, tears streamed from Iyanden's eyes and fell into the basin. The basin seemed to absorb the tears and a little gem below the plaque began to glow.
The next pedestal read:
My life can be measured in hours,
I serve by being devoured.
Thin, I am quick.
Fat, I am slow.
Wind is my foe.
They thought it was fire so Iyanden cast a fire bolt into the basin. The crystal did not glow but a swarm of skeletons stepped out of one of the murals. "Nope, that wasn't it," shouted Andra as she ran towards the skeletons while grabbing her axe.
They dispatched the skeletons and ran to the third pedestal, agreeing to skip ones they didn't know and come back to them.
The third read:
A precious item born of coal;
The tool with which a hole is made.
A weapon made from unwanted wood;
The beating life that lies within.
Many hands, many faces.
A full court lies inside.
They immediately thought 'diamond' but that did not fit with the whole thing. They weren't sure so they continued to the fourth:
You write me with five letters,
But seven I contain.
I have keys but no locks,
Keep time but no clocks.
Having seen the skeletons come out of the mural and having things in the mural moving, they wondered if they could grab things from the murals. Torrig spotted a centaur playing an oboe. He ran over to the mural and said, "Hello. Can I take your oboe?" Without really waiting for an answer but not meeting any resistance, he reached his hand into the mural and grasped the oboe. He could feel his fingers wrapping around a solid object. He pulled his hand out of the mural and was holding an oboe. He ran back to the pedestal and placed it in the basin. At first it seemed as though it wouldn't work and then the oboe disappeared and the gem lit up.
The fifth pedestal read:
The foolish man wastes me,
The average man spends me,
And wise man invests me,
Yet all men succumb to me.
"Time!" Torrig exclaimed. "Oh, there is a gnomish timepiece in this mural!" called Iyanden as she ran over. "Ask first!" shouted Torrig. Iyanden asked if she could take the timepiece as she reached in and removed it from the mural before running back to put it into the basin and they watched it disappear and the gem begin to glow.
They proceeded to pedestal six:
Alive without breath,
As cold as death,
Clad in mail never clinking,
Never thirsty, ever drinking
All of them began to scan the murals. Andra saw some fish and thought perhaps that could be the answer. She reached in and grabbed one of the fish and found it just as slippery and wriggly as if she had pulled it from a stream. She maintained her grip on it as she ran it back and successfully fulfilled the riddle.
Pedestal seven read:
What does man love more than life;
Hate more than death or mortal strife;
That which contended men desire;
The poor have, the rich require;
The miser spends, the spendthrift saves;
And all men carry to their graves?
They all looked at each other and shrugged and started to walk to the next pedestal when Voyou said, quietly at first, "Nothing." The others turned, "What?"
Louder this time Voyou said, "Nothing. The answer is nothing." As he said this, the gem began to glow on the pedestal.
They proceeded to the eighth pedestal and read:
Only one color, but not one size,
Stuck at the bottom, yet easily flies.
Present in sun, but not in rain,
Doing no harm, and feeling no pain.
Figuring out the answer was 'shadow', Andra stood next to the pedestal as Tobi held a light. Andra watched her shadow disappear into the pedestal and the gem began to glow. She was concerned that maybe she would no longer have a shadow but id not have time to worry as they saw that the hourglass was nearly out of sand. They ran back to the second pedestal.
They realized it was referring to candles. Iyanden remembered seeing a candelabra in one of the murals. She spotted it and grabbed one of the candles from it and placed it in the basin, leaving only one riddle remaining.
They gathered back around the third pedestal. They were sure the first line was a diamond and thought that diamonds could be used to cut so perhaps that could work for the tool to make a hole. It didn't seem to work for the rest because surely the fourth line referred to a heart. As they began to break it down line by line Voyou realized it was a deck of cards. They scoured the murals for a deck of cards and found one. As they placed it in the basin, the final gem lit up and the sand stopped pouring through the hourglass and the doors to the room opened.
Andra had Tobi check and make sure she still had a shadow and was relieved when he held the light near her and they both saw her shadow.
They proceeded down a short hallway to another set of doors. This door was two dragons facing each other, their front claws meeting where the doors met. Voyou pulled these doors open as well and they stepped into another large room.
The Androsphinx stood in the center of the room and they saw there were statues in each corner. Carved into the walls with rectangular niches below them were the words Devotion, Vengeance, Glory, Watchers, and Redemption. Each statue had a rectangular plaque that looked as though it would fit into the niches below the words. They saw that the Androsphinx also had a plaque around his neck.
He again addressed Voyou. "Your wits were quick and served you well. Now let us test your memory and your weapons." He then crouched down into a pose that looked as though he was ready to pounce and the doors once more slammed shut behind the group.
There were names on the plaques. Voyou recognized the names as those of former champions of Bahamut. They surmised that they would need to get the plaques with the names from the sphinx and the constructs and place them into the niches below the name of each oath. Iyanden summons Bigby's Hand to help. When a plaque was removed from a construct, the construct would animate to life and begin attacking whoever it could reach. The sphinx was also attacking and trying to thwart the efforts of everyone to place the plaques. Voyou was trying to remember the names of the champions and which oath they had taken. He pulled out one of his books and began flipping through to find the names.
The sphinx growled at Voyou to remember. Torrig placed a plaque into one of the niches and a jolt of lightning shocked him and sent the plaque flying from his hands to land fifteen feet away. Voyou remembered and called out to everyone which names went with which oath. Several times, the majority of the group felt as though they had aged instantly. As Voyou then began to try and help fight, he was paralyzed. The group was being bludgeoned by the constructs. Finally, the last plaque was placed and the constructs stopped attacking and Voyou was no longer paralyzed.
The Androsphinx congratulated Voyou and the group on completing the task. They asked of there was a way for the sphinx to reverse the aging that several of them had experienced. He said he could reverse the effects on one of them but then he would not be able to prepare their reward. They decided to get the reward instead.
The sphinx prepared an elaborate meal for all of them with their favorite foods and drinks. They sat comfortably and ate and felt magically fortified by the food. They thanked the sphinx and continued into the next corridor. It led to a small room with a teleportation circle with another pedestal and orb.
The pedestal had writing on it:
Do not come to me unprepared
The weak and the injured shall not be spared
If you choose to enter my lair
Be ready to fight, if you dare
The group was pretty beat up after their previous fight so they thought it would not be a good idea to proceed. They decided to relax for the rest of the afternoon and then have an early night and then go through the teleportation circle in the morning.
Torrig used his Sending Stones to message Krankle and see what information he had. Krankle said he had been busy since Stirling had fallen. The tunnels had to be closed and Thimbledeep had taken on many refugees from Stirling.
Andra attuned to the Scrying Eye and used it to see if she could find her dad. She found Evan sitting in a dimly lit room near a window. He was leaning his elbows on a desk and wearing comfortable clothes, his boots next to him on the floor. His face looked as though he was deep in thought and he occasionally glanced out the window. He did not seem distressed and Andra couldn't tell where he was.
Next, she scryed on Alessio. He was sitting at a table in a tavern. She could hear music, talking, laughing, and the sounds of dancing. He had a partially eaten plate of food in front of him and an empty glass. She was not surprised when Timmons approached the table. Timmons apologized for slow service and said they were just so busy. Alessio asked for another drink and he pointed to someone and asked for "her" to bring it to him. Timmons said he would do his best but they were very busy. Andra continued to watch as long as she could. The way Alessio was surveying the room gave Andra a creepy feeling. He reminded her of a predator on the hunt.
She told the group what she had seen. The group thought that Alessio probably knew that was their tavern and he was now looking to hurt their staff. Iyanden remembered from her book that onis were known to eat their prey and especially liked children. While Violet was not exactly a child, she was still a young woman. They figured he was after her. Since they still had things to do to finish in the temple, they discussed their options and decided that calling on their friends in the River Rats would be their best option.
Torrig messaged Keegan and told him that an oni was stalking their barmaid at the Belligerent Beholder. He wondered if there was anyone they could send over to get rid of him or at least keep an eye on him. Keegan said that he had several people playing cards that had nothing else to do so he'd see if they would go over and take a look.
Tobi then messaged Timmons and told him that some help was on the way and to just keep an eye on the creepy guy until help arrived. Timmons was relieved to hear that someone would be coming to help.
The group then began to talk about what they should do after finishing up at the temple. They all thought that returning to Riverbend would be a good idea. They could check on things at the Belligerent Beholder and replenish their coin purses. They thought that maybe going to the elven kingdom might be their next move. Iyanden was unsure about speaking with the queen since Urial was still trapped in the sword. She understood what a problem that could be since he had been declared the heir to throne now by default since Norilyth was dead. Since she and Urial were also considered suspects in the death of Norilyth and Urial had been accused of killing Telathis and Iyanden did not technically have any proof that they were not involved nor what had actually occurred with Telathis, she was not ready to face the queen and the Erta Nolwe. They did discuss possibly going to the hidden section of the Grand Athenaeum to see if there was any useful information there. In the end, they decided they would head to Riverbend and then decide on their next move once they found out what was happening at home.
They felt that they were safe in the temple so they all settled into their bunks to sleep and be ready for the next trial.