Monthly Archives: March 2008

Strong Dwarven Workmanship

As the others had focused their attention on the stone vault, the youthful rogue Nicolai had been examining the ladder. It appeared to be a normal, finely carved, but old, elven ladder leaning against the wall.
“Brilliant, Feldard,” said Hasan, as he eagerly stepped forward to see what had been so carefully safeguarded in the vault.
Maruc lent against his shield as he waited for Nicolai to finish his investigation of the ladder. “It seems Feldard has found access. I guess they are waiting for you.”

Nicolai’s eyes narrowed in swiftly concealed annoyance. He feared he was too late to stop Feldard from making a foolish mistake. “There may be some gas trap or…”

“Strong dwarven workmanship,” the dwarf commented as he reached for the door to the vault and hauled it open. As Feldard opened the door, Miklos withdrew to the stairwell outside the vault, bracing his staff in the doorway in, in case some clever dwarf-trap might seal off the vault.

Leather-clad skeletal remains lie on the floor directly in front of the dwarf. Based on its total decomposition, the corpse had to be decades, if not centuries old. The rest of the cube-shaped vault appeared to be virtually empty. Only a few ancient gold coins remained scattered about the floor of the enclosure.

Very interesting…the body appeared to be…decapitated?

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Vault of the Elyan

Nicolai shook his head slightly as the elves slid passed him into the dark room beyond. This place had long since been ransacked and any traps would mostly likely have been circumvented or activated. Still, with an edge of caution borne from inate self preservation, he slipped across the room ingnoring the frescos and shone a narrow beam of light at the top of the ladder so see where it lead to.

The priest made his way down the remaineder of the stairs and into the chamber . He scanned the room quickly and retuned to the stairwell and called up the stairs. “Feldard, there’s a way on by the looks of it, but this place hasn’t be touched for centuries. There’s a huge stone block that seems out of place though. It could be nothing but your opinion on it might help. My guess is its a falling stone trap thats landed on someone.” It was a macarbre joke but Maruc grinned anyway.

Miklos stalked around the room . His lightstone illuminating the intricate frescos. “Wonderful! Wonderful…”, he said as he studied the subject matter. Time hadn’t been kind to them but it ws impressive none the less. Then he turned his attention to the block. He tapped it with the base of his staff to see if it was hollow.

Hasan wondered at the grandeur revealed in the images of times long past. The contrast with the humble village of his childhood was stark. The Elyan had fallen far. Was this the cost of the Quiet Way? Wouldn’t his people serve Illsundal even better if they had the strength they had long ago?

Feldard grumbled and made his way to join the rest of the group in the room. His glance about took in the fresco but as Maruc had comment it was the centre block that caught his attention. He kept back mindful of the last errant block of stone they ran across—a lodestone it was. The dwarf circled the stone carefully studying it.

Here, the dwarf saw further evidence of his brethren’s role in constructing the temple. This stone vault was not unlike those of his native Rockhome. He searched for the hidden latch in the stone work. There should be a gap underneath…yes, there it was. He pushed it, and thus released the latch. They could all now see the faint edge of the hinged door to the vault.

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Into The Vault

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The dwarf paced impatiently in the maproom not in the least bit interested in the priests reasoning and justification. Delays were still exactly that delays. Feldard eventually moved into the library and stood watch by the double doors, every so often glancing back over to the mage and the cleric to wait for the indication to descend or the all clear. It was a long one hundred breaths – made even longer in that the dwarf really could only count up to a score with any amount of confidence.

“More likely to a bedroom or harem, Miklos, but we can hope,” Saeth said with a cheerful wink as she moved to the front. She was delighted to have been invited back into the van. Unusually impatient for an elf, she did not bother waiting long before following Nicolai. Right on the young rogue’s heels, she saw the cracked door, and gripped her sword tighter.

Nicolai caressed the door applying just enough pressure the move it a fraction. As the elf started to translate the inscription behind him he hissed, “Shh, Miklos knows elvish and the priest doesn’t want to know and your letting everyone in there,” he jabbed his thumb at the door, “know we’re here. And that wasn’t a hundred breaths.”

He peered through the gap in the bronze door sniffing the dank stale air. No movement, good. No light either, he drew out the pouch at let a narrow beam of the lightstone illuminate the area beyond. The chamber ahead was still and appeared empty.

Miklos finished counting. At the top of the stairs Miklos pulled out a new lightstone and allowed it to blaze openly down the stairwell. He turned to the Dwarf & priest beside him. “Well that sounds hopeful, no cries of despair..” Miklos followed the Plateclad dwarven warrior to the landing and turned the corner. In the pale magelight, Miklos scanned the inscription above the aged portal. Then his heart sank at the state of the door. “Not so secret passage then.” he muttered.

Left at the back Maruc flicked is gaze behind him then pulled the secret door almost shut behind him allowing the magelight to light the passage. At the first landing he again looked back up at the Maproom door before turing his attention to the crowded lower stairwell.

Nicolai rolled his eyes and not for the first time wondered why he bothered with this quest at all. “Since you’re so keen Saeth, Lady’s first?” His larconic smile was lost in the gloom. He stepped back allowing the elfmaid to choose her own fate. She paused a moment to cast a spell of protection upon herself. Someone’s on the far side of that door, she thought to herself.

Hasan moved quickly forward with Saeth to support her. It was hard for Hasan to wait for the thief’s work to finish, and when the way forward was offered to Saeth, Hasan grinned at both and took it. He pushed open one of the doors.

Faded frescoes of golden towers and diamond trees covered the wall and ceiling of the 30-foot square room. In the center of the room sat a 10-foot square cube of stone. A ladder leaned against the south end of the east wall.

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Continuing Down the Stairs

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The mage hesitated as he peered into the gloom, at the retreating Nicolai.  Glancing over at the metal clad dwarf and priest he said doubtfully, “Perhaps you should go next to support him, Mistress Saeth. He has no enchanted blade. Hopefully, you find missing maps or books down there.” Then, more to himself, he muttered, “For why else lead a secret chamber from a maproom and library?”

The priest, bulky in his Halavist emblazoned platemail swiftly deduced that descending these stairs would not be a quite prospect, best to leave it to the lighter clad party members. He offered a prayer for the Elves’ safety then turned to Feldard, who didn’t seem at all concerned by the depths, “It will be worth the cost in time, even if it proves a false trail. At least nothing will slip behind us!” he grinned.

Nicolai moved silently down the stairs. At the end of the staircase was a heavy bronze double doorway. Elven script indicated that what lay beyond was the fabled riches of the Elyan. The doors were slightly ajar. Whatever locking mechanism that had been used to secure the doors had been breached.

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Down and to the Right

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“Down we go, then? With these undisturbed cobwebs, is anyone likely to be down there?” Saeth’s vision from the rear of the party was far from perfect, but she wasn’t about to let that didn’t stop her from making suggestions.

Feldard peered into the darkness, and then to the cobwebs. The elf had a point. They were looking for the elfmaids and the Eye, not dungeon-crawling for adventure and gain. He turned to regard the party. “Miklos, you seem to be the expert on Sisters Three and the Tower here… is it worth our time to search below? Or shall we backtrack to the collapsed hall and check one of the other routes?”

Hasan stepped forward into the stairway. “Saeth’s instinct is probably right, but i have tracking lore that may help me see any recent movement more easily than you, Master Dwarf, if you would yield your place in line.” And with that, the elf moved down the stairway, no more than a dozen yards, searching for signs of recent passage. He didn’t see any. The stairway leveled off and then continued at a right angle to the east.

As Feldard started to answer, Maruc cut in. “The undead, for so I believe we are facing, may pass without disturbing dust. Do you not recall our encounter with Sevastian? Webs were srewn before his door, yet he dwelt beyond. Also I do not trust that things are what they seem down here in this darkness.” He turned back from the door. “There must be a purpose for this passageway, a secret purpose, else why place it here? I for one would like to minimise the surprises in store for us. Knowledge is our ally against the Sisters and the designs of the Darkers. My vote would be to swiftly investigate this staircase and return if we find naught of interest.”

As the priest finished, Miklos muttered, “Nice sermon.” He turned to Feldard, “I saddens me that I agree with Maruc. Leave no stone unturned in our hunt for the Sisters. He is quite correct in that spirit forms move through the Ether therefore not not affect the material world in the traditional sense. It maybe that we might gain an edge with this passageway? Onward.”

“Miklos, may I have one of you lightstones?” Nicolai said producing a small leather pouch. It still had the slit in it when he had relieved it from the possession of the fat merchant in Specularum. Now sadly empty, and never one to discard the useful he accepted the proffered stone and placed it in the pouch, he tied it. Stretching the pouch around the stone the slit allowed a little light to pour forth. Satisfied he silently held up his hand stopping the dwarf. “Give me a few moments, I shall be faster. If I do not return within a hundred breaths, follow.”

Allowing a few moment for his eye to become accustomed to the dark he allowed a trickle of light illuminate the stairs he crouched and ran his hand over the cold stone. He didn’t get the feeling that it was trapped. Waving back the others he stalked quietly and swiftly downwards into the darkness, the pale beam his only solstice.

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A Staircase

The mage shook his head in silent regret at the carnage of knowledge displayed yet again before him. Each time he came across a ruined tome his sadness was renewed afresh as if reawakening an old painful memory. Such a waste. Sorrowfully he sifted amongst the ruins with a vain hope that something or some clue might have survived.

The priest’s eyes swept the room, a brief moment of doubt crept over him as memories of the fire at the cloister flashed across his vision. He shook the thought out of his head and with steely determination he followed the dwarf toward the only exit from the room.

Nicolai drifted across the room like a ghost, despite the dust of ages none stirred at his passing. He nodded at the dwarf, who stood aside for him and indicated an indistinguishable patch of wall. Lightly he traced with his fingers the outline of the secret door that Feldard had pointed out. He struggled to hide his admiration for the dwarf, this door was cunningly concealed. Dwarf-make no doubt. Using his professional knowledge, he felt for the tell tales of needles and hair triggers…

Satisfied, he released the catch that Feldard had found and opened the door. The dwarf immediately stepped through.

Hasan and the others followed the party forward, though his guts and heart longed to stay behind to search the library of Elyas. “Some other time,” he counseled himself, but having spoken aloud, in reassurance to the party. ” Some other time we shall more closely search this, the Elyan lore. But now—alas! Hasten, my friends.”

Cobwebs lined both the walls of an old, but ornate staircase which led down into darkness.

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Missing Maps

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Miklos’s eyes lit up as he scanned the room beyond, evidently some sort of cartographers study. “My friends, if you might indulge my curiosity for a few minutes. These maps may prove important as to the designs of the Darker order.” Without waiting for a reply or permission he swiftly made his way over to the central table to see if the last occupant had left anything of interest on it. He also checked to see if it had a lifting lid (as map tables often do) or draws. Indeed it did, but it was empty.

“All maps are of vital importance and take scholars months and years to produce.” He looked up at the impatient faces of the milling party. “I would like to take as many of these as we can with us. I would be a disaster if these were lost, they may hold some clue to further our knowledge of the Darker order’s intentions.” Miklos cut through the the first words coming predictably from the surly dwarf, “If you help, the less time we’ll take. Do not bother with the unreadable ones.”

Miklos hurriedly marched to the map archive and opened a scroll case. Empty. So was the next.

The cleric turned to the dwarf as he wandered over to the archive. “Can you determine if there are any concealed exits from here?” he asked whilest idly opening a scroll case and observing the contents.

At Miklos’ words the dwarf snorted, so much for haste. Feldard brusquely nodded at the cleric’s question and circled the room, and seeing little of interest, moved to the door to the north. The charred remains and missing maps had not evoked any amount of sympathy or sadness from the dwarf. Books and maps were for scholars, those like Miklos and Maruc and elves evidently; not for warriors such as himself. The prison cells had renewed the vigor and pace at which he and his companions worked through the rooms. He intended to keep up the pace until either he dropped from exhaustion or found the Sisters and the elfmaids.

At the sight of his companions stopping to investigate the maps, Hasan returned to the library to search there. “Tell me if you find anything, but we don’t need six here, and I cannot bear to leave the library less searched than here. Come, Saeth, you surely cannot pass by this chance to see the lore of my ancestors. I would love to discuss what differences you see in our story and yours.”

As Miklos continued examining scroll cases, he finally found one that wasn’t empty. Very heavy for a map case though. Odd. Opening the case he saw that it did not contain a map at all, but rather held 2 very old bottles of elven wine, elegantly labeled with faded elven script.

As the mage pondered his find, Feldard looked over the stonemanship on the north wall, and discovered a hidded door in the northeast corner of the room.

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