Monthly Archives: April 2008

Art Appreciation

As Miklos finished examining the last fresco. “….Karalena…Solorena….Trilena.” he mumbled as he tranlated the transcript beneath each portrait. “Here at least is conformation of the villagers recollection of events. Sadly it gives no clue or foretelling as to how to defeat the Sisters. It poses one question though. Why, after the initial defeat of the Sisters would you come down here finish off a fresco then bury it along with everything else? They set a powerful stone guardian to guard the way to the ruin? I either have no true understanding of elves, or we are not in full possession of the facts.”

“Still, we mustn’t stay here discussing semantics. I can almost hear our redoubtable Dwarf summoning words to hasten us before they have be voiced!”

The priest was no less absorbed by the intricately fashioned art. His eyes darkened as he scanned the images of the Darker incursion. He listened the Miklos’s quiet translation. The solemnity of the room was not lost on him. In the days of its might it would have been glorious, now it was a sad reflection echoing the corruption of the incorruptible.

Musty air. The thin beam of light from Nicolai’s lightstone swept the empty room. Straightening he slipped in, eyes on the alcoves in case of sudden movement. Miklos’s lightstone blazed in though the doorway ruining Nicolai’s nightvision, he squinted angrily but said nothing. Like a moth to a flame Miklos had begun staring at the wall decoration. He left him to it, it kept the mage out of his way at least. He needed to make sure all the alcoves were secure anyway and it would take some time for the mage to finish buy the speed he was going at.

Nicolai flitted over the the first easternmost alcove to see what it contained…

Feldard, much as the Mage had guessed,was impatient to continue on. He’d done a circuit of the room, while the mage looked over the frescos, keeping alert for telltale signs of a secret doorway or such. It was unlikely he’d spot anything the rogue missed given it was mainly wood here, not his preferred stonework.. but he circled the room anyways, listening to the Mage yammer on about this and that.

As he walked about, the dwarf noticed a downward grade to the room as they walked toward the artwork.

Hasan gazed appreciatively at the works around him. As Miklos had said, it conformed with what he had long understood, and—as a contemporary account of this history—Hasan considered it decisive. Reflecting on the relative lack of undead encountered until now in these caverns, Hasan wondered if perhaps this party had gone deeper than any had ever gone into these warrens since the fall of the original necromantic cult. But if so, where were the three young village girls?

“We must move on,” Hasan urged.

Saeth looked up at these frescos, finding them more inspiring than the book of psalms she’d had her nose in for the past couple hallways. “You don’t think we could wait here and look at these a bit longer?” She queried, trying to fix the images in her mind. “Ah, well, beauty is beauty because it is fleeting. Let us be off. Back the way we came then?”

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An Illustrated History of the Elyan

Feldard all but stomped his way through the halls, heedless of the looks Nicolai and the others gave him, in their attempts to move through the halls quietly. He was tired of tiptoeing around. As they arrived in front of the northern doors, Feldard strode forward to open the door but was stalled by a cautioning hand from the priest. Feldard scowled and looked the rogue. “Make it quick.”

Maruc released his restraining hand from Feldard’s shoulder. “Patience, Master dwarf. We must all trust in each other and the skills we can bring to bear. Give him some room. We shall pass if Halav wills it.”

All this running about wasn’t taking so much of a toll on the mage now. He was tired but still feeling relatively fit. What he wouldn’t do right now for a cooked meal, warm bath and a soft bed though. He leaned his back against the wall next to the door. Ignoring the sudden cold of the stone he allowed himself to slide down the wall until he was crouching. He gazed ruefully at the priest and the dwarf in their armour wondering if they sat down that would be it for the next eight hours. Well it was high time for some meal or other and he fished out and apple and took a mouthful of water from his canteen as he waited for Nicolai to open the door.

Hasan looked over at Saeth, whose stony silence in recent times was worrisome. Had she lost interest in their quest? Hoping not, he winked at her, and muttered about how her fisherfolk ancestors never dreamed their children would see adventures like these.

Dismissing the others with a wave of his hand and bringing his finger to his lips, Nicolai waited for silence. He listened for a few moments then tried the lock and to push the door. You never knew, certain people have locked unlocked doors with lock picks, and Nicolai wasn’t about to join their number. Then he tried pulling, he wasn’t about to lose face on that one either.

The door opened with a loud creak. The room beyond was a huge 30-foot-wide hall with a cracked ceiling. Two alcoves were set in the east wall, facing two more to the west. A huge elaborately carved woodcut fresco decorated the north wall. Its elaborate elven scenery and symbology matched that of the vault entrance.

In the center of the wall was an artist’s rendering of the Temple on Gray Mountain. Starting at the top, and proceeding in a clockwise direction, the artistry told the story of the history of the elves and the origins of the clan of Elyas. It began with a depiction of the destruction of the original sacred homeland of the elves, called Evergrun, by the Great Rain of Fire. It then showed the Immortal Ilsundal leading the Great Migration to the Sylvan Realm. Next, it depicted a split of some kind as some elven clans struck off on their own, settling on the continent of Brun. The ancestors of the Elyan settled in the Dymrak forest. The elves carved out their peaceful foresthome in the wilds of the land then known as Traladara. However, their sanctuary was threatened as indicated by the renderings of dark hooded wizards invading the countryside, building a foreboding tower in the lands nearby.

Next, was the first illustration of Elyas as he led a group of elves to do battle against the cult of necromancers. Vanquishing their foes, they built a new home in the vicinity of the tower, broke from their previous ties and formed a new clan of elves, the Elyan. Next, the fresco showed how the elves turned their back on their peaceful ways, pursuing power and magecraft as the Black Opal Eye exerted its influence over them. The Sisters Three, Karalena, Solorena and Trilena rebelled against Elyas and attempted to usurp his power. Finally, the collapse of the tower led to the end of Elyas and the return of the Elyan to their roots as they became followers of The Quiet Way.

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Nothing Stirs

Feldard watched the elf a tad impatiently. “Have we exhausted our search of the place yet? Maybe you like me to try and move the vault to check underneath it for some manner of secret passage?” His tone of course, was surly. “Now. If we are quite done, I’d like to find the elf maids before my beard whitens anymore.”

Once more the dwarf made for the steps, this time, he didn’t wait at there base but continued on up.

Maruc lent against the wall of the adjoining passageway and adjusted his straps while he waited for the others to finish their investigation. “I fear we have exhausted the value of coming down here. I agree with Feldard, we need to press on. As I suggested earlier let us we what lies beyond the northern doors back up in the main circular chamber.”

The mage nodded and circled round the vault and joined Nicolai and the priest. With one more wistfull look at the ancient murals he knew they didn’t have time to research their meaning. “Come Hasan, let us rescue your kinsfolk and put an end to the Sisters, and their designs. The entrance hall then?” He followed the others.

Hasan agreed, it was right to press on. As he climbed the stairway out of the room, he turned nonetheless. After a long last glance at the visions of times past and perhaps to come again, Hasan jogged ahead to rejoin his companions.

Nicolai crept back up the stairs and glanced about the maproom to see if anyone had been attracted to the noise of their searches of the vault. Satisfied that the room was empty he glided quietly over to the doorway to the blackened library. He darted his head round and swiftly withdrew. Empty. He skirted the wall to the main entranceway and peered around into the gloom of the wide corridor beyond that led to the circular chamber. Away from the party he took a few moments to listen intently while his eyes grew accustomed to the dark. Again he drew forth his pouch containing the lightstone and illumated the way as mush as he dared. It seemed the way back was clear. Swiftly he returned to the party.

“Nothing stirs.” he said simply.

The group returned to the large chamber filled with rumble, and approached the northern doors. As Nicolai had informed them, all was quiet.

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Solid Dwarven Construction

Well, well … this could be useful someday,” smiled Hasan, as he pocketed the key. He exited the vault, satisfied that they had exhausted the possibilities there, and turned his attention to the ladder. “Is anybody going to climb this thing?

The dwarf muttered into his beard as his prompting backfired with the Nicolai. Oh well he was just as content to leave it unchecked. In answer to the Siswa’s question, the dwarf shook his head “Seems not. You are welcome to climb it. ” Then he mentally kicked himself as yeah sure enough there went the elf. “Just don’t be all day about it.”

As the dwarf spoke, Hasan was already starting to hoist himself up on top of the vault. Searching the area, he found nothing except for solid dwarven construction.

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A Tiny Golden Key

Nicolai stood back as Hasan did some kind of weird elf trick. Still if Hasan trusted magic, he was welcome to it. He backed off allowing the Siswa entrance to the inner chamber. Whether Hasan commanded Nicolai’s full trust or not was yet to be tested…

“Nice trick there, Hasan. ” the dwarf commented after a moment of tense watching, half expecting the trap to trigger again.

With the vault being checked over, Feldard looked back over to the mage still peering up at the ladder. “Hey, Nicolai, how long are you going to let Miklos stare up there without offering to check it out? We do have other places to check.. so if someone is going to climb the damned ladder, get to it already.” The dwarf’s comment was rather abrupt sure, but he hoped it prompted folks to action. He’d climb it himself, but was rather leery of heights, and when given a choice avoided them.

The room was too small for Maruc to be of much use. So he stepped out of the vault chamber to glance up the stairs to ensure they were not going to be surprised by uninvited newcomers.
Nicolai, ignoring the dwarf, joined the cleric in the stairwell. As usual their eyes didn’t meet and he made no attempt to start a conversation.

Miklos had left the ladder behind and joined the others by the vault. He nodded in appreciation at Hasan’s elf magic. All too rarely had he witnessed this Saeth being rather reserved in her somatics. Hasan was the opposite, with determined sweeps of his hand deft and expert. He leant on his staff and watched as Hasan searched the vault, especially the floor and roof, reasoning that the out walls could lead nowhere, as the vault was positioned in the center of the larger room. As he was doing so, he grabbed the ancient coins and examined the skeleton a bit more closely.

Underneath the bony hand of the long-dead raider, he saw the glint of a tiny golden key that appeared to be of Elyan origin.

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Safely Back Into The Vault

From his position near the foot of the stairs, Feldard kept watch both up along the stairway and back within the room. The ladder was a bit of a mystery, he had to admit. Did it lead up to a hidden alcove within the wall it rested on? Or was it merely set there while not in use someplace else?
The dwarf leaned against the corner of the hall glancing back into the room. If the ladder did lead up to a hidden route or alcove, it was rather dim-witted to hint to its hidden presence by leaving the ladder out. Feldard scratched at his beard. Maybe the ladder itself was a trap? The dwarf took a few steps back towards the room. Should he suggest that to the others? Bah, the rogue was a cautious one and Miklos well-learned, surely they’ve both thought of that possibility themselves. Still, he moved to the doorway and kept closer watch.

Injured though he was, Hasan didn’t want to ignore the inscription that room contained the treasures of the Elyan. Yes, that writing could be bait. But the frescoes showed that the possibilities for the rebirth of his tribe were great, and that was something that he couldn’t ignore. Surely, the trapped vault must contain something of value.

Hasan approached the vault again. However, before entering the vault, he winked at Nicolai and said, “While your skills with the mechanical are amazing, let me try something a bit more direct.” With that, he drew he hands back and smote them firmly together—the heart of an incantation he had learned that locked doors. After casting the spell to hold the portal that contained the trap, Hasan cautiously stepped again into the vault and around the unfortunate skeleton. The door to the trap remained firmly closed allowing free access to the room.

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Trap Inspection

Hasan quickly exited the vault as the blade continued to swing in a swinging/stabbing motion. Once he made it away, the blade withdrew back into the secret panel.

Nicolai gingerly rose and gently patted the top of his head pleased to note that blade hadn’t given him an unstylish haircut. “Well that explains that. Nobody move, I need to see what Hasan did that activated the blades and try to deactivate it.”

The cleric picked himself up. He didn’t remember quite how he had managed to avoid the blade then saw Hasan clutching at a deep wound in his side. “Come Hasan let me have a look at that scratch. Glad to see you didn’t lose you head!” he grinned as he cast his healing spell on the stricken elf.

Miklos, too busy to turn and see what the cries of shock were all about produced one of his lightstones and shone it up the ladder to get a better look, but didn’t see anything unusual from his vantage point at the bottom of the ladder.

Feldard, standing ahead of Miklos and hearing the comments from the others, half-turned only to be near-blinded by the sudden unveiling of the lightstone by Miklos. He stepped back, almost bumping the ladder, shielding his eyes. “Some warning next time,” the dwarf grumbled.
A glance towards Maruc and the others at the entrance to the vault, confirmed that the vault had indeed been trapped, but it looked like the elf Hasan had fared better than the corpse. With the vault and the corpse mystery being somewhat solved, Feldard hoped that the others would ignore the ladder and follow Maruc’s suggestion to head back to the main circular entrance chamber and try to find the maidens along another route. But his hopes of such were dashed as Nicolai tried disabling the trap and Miklos shone his light up and along the ladder obviously intent on finding its purpose down here. Feldard shook his head and moved back towards the stairway to keep watch while yet more time was wasted.

“Aiii! That was a harsh knock,” said Hasan, who submitted to the cleric’s healing hands willingly. “I can’t imagine such a trap would be set as a diversion, or to safeguard nothing. What do you see, Nicolai?”

Nicolai finished his search for the trap activation switch. It appeared the floor had a pressure-sensitive plate. It seemed as though someone else had previously attempted to disarm the trap, but failed to properly do so, damaging the tripswitch to the point where it could no longer be de-activated.

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