Monthly Archives: May 2008

Opening The Coffin

When the book said nothing more in response to his flipping of pages, Feldard slammed the tome shut with a muttered dwarven curse. “What a waste of paper. It’d be better off used to wipe my…” The dwarfs words continued on in dwarven for a bit. For those understanding his cussing, keeping a straight face was difficult.

Still a bit red-faced from his tirade, the dwarf left the tome to the others to gawk over, he busied himself with doing a circuit of the room checking for more hidden doorways or secret passages. This damn place seemed riddled with them.

Hasan was a bit astonished. He gave up the book to Miklos for safeguarding, and joined Feldard in searching the room, although Hasan’s preoccupation with the strange riddle was such that he sincerely doubted his mechanical actions would lead to much good. Finding nothing of great interest, he swiftly gave up and moved to return to the hall beyond, as if further perusal of the great mural might explain things more clearly.

After Feldard snapped the book shut, Miklos tried to pick the book up, but it would not budge from its resting spot.

Meanwhile, the priest joined Nicolai at the coffin he had been working on. “Any luck?”

Nicolai looked up, “Not much. No sign of traps. Might be magical traps but you only live once,” he grunted. He turned to Miklos, “By the looks of the dust these haven’t been disturbed for a long time. If that mage-book is true then they’re not in here anyway. No harm in checking though. Here Maruc give us a hand.” Nicolai fingered the edge of the stone lid for purchase and with the priest’s help tried to slide the lid open a fraction to see within with his lightstone.

Maruc nodded and reluctantly put his symbol back. He gripped the slab with his gauntleted fists the heaved as hard as he could. The lid was very heavy, and it took nearly all of their combined strength to move it.

Inside the coffin lay the skeleton of a woman covered with the tattered remains of a deep black robe.

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Ye Stupid Book!

Saeth smiled delightedly at the poem, it’s words echoing in the back of her brain, though its meaning confused her a bit. Her musing on that meaning took a similar form.

“So must we find this mystical rock,
thereby the witch-prison eternally lock?
Or is it youth’s virtue that seals the cell,
and by bringing one such we renew the spell?”

Glancing around, she chuckled darkly. It certainly wasn’t likely that the latter condition would be fulfilled by this group!

“Elf, are you really that daft? The stone it speaks of is the Black Opal Eye… the cursed stone that led us to the elven village in the first place. It’s what’s is keeping the Three Sisters alive. The ‘innocence sweet’ are the elven maids that were taken in order to release the three witches.”

Feldard threw up his hands in annoyance. “We already knew all this.” The dwarf, in his little tirade, approached the book and flipped another few pages. “Tell us something we don’t know, ye stupid book!”

“Fascinating.” said the mage after a few moments thought. “Elyas trapped each witch in a dragon’s eye, but the Opal ensured they did not die.

As Elyas raced to destroy the Stone…” He paused again rolling the words through his thought. “I have read about soul gems in my studies, and mirrors for that matter. But what concerns me is the sentience implicit in the line about the Black Opal Eye. You see, I would assume the the Opal is a thing to be used. Such is the evidence we have seen so far. So unless the Sisters have power to command it whilst entrapped within their gem-prison—again assuming the the dragons eye is a ’soul gem’ of some type—another force or intelligence has used the power of the Opal to ensure the Sisters did not diminish. Or the Opal performed this function by itself either passively or actively. I have never heard of any creatures captured within such devices having ever influenced things beyond their confinement. That leaves three possible answers. One; my experience and knowledge is insufficient, two; the Opal is intelligent, or three; there is another ‘player in the game’—that player might have been the Rahib. There are many clues that indicate the Sisters have considerable influence beyondtheir confinement, namely the conversion of the Siswa, the subversion of the Stone Guardian and the creation and maintenance of some impressive illusions.”

Miklos chewed over the words some more. “Why, if he had managed to capture the Sisters did he not ‘destroy the stone’ there and then? This leads me to the conclusion that poets obfiscate in an irritable manner!”

“My concern is are we the ’some fate’ that releases the Sisters into the world?” Maruc said thumbing the edges of the Halavist symbol. “Wouldn’t that be an irony.” he grinned.

“It seems that we must complete the binding spell to ensure their influence seeps out no longer.”

Under his breath Nicolai added, “Or we could just make sure that the elfmaids are not so innocent…”

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The Book of Years

Glad of the extra light Nicolai approached the first unopened coffin to see if he could wedge it shut.
Maruc kept a steely eye on the coffins not slackening his grip on his Halavist symbol.

Feldard paused his approach as the book on the stand rose and he stared at it warily from a distance, suspecting a trap. “Nicolai, Miklos.. what say you of this? Magical or mechanical?”

Panic began to subside in Hasan. He tried to study the woodworking of the coffin, but the short time he was able to devote to this task. From what he could surmise, the defiled coffin did indeed seem as thought it could have belonged to his clan’s founder.

Like a moth to a flame, Miklos glided over to the revealed plinth. “Aha! The dead speak at last. Let us see what troubles them…”

The strange blue luminescence drew Hasan’s attention away from the coffin. Following behind Miklos as he approached the book, the elf shivered at its antiquity and watched warily as the human opened the book. As the page was turned a wizened elven voice emanated from the tome, speaking simultaneously to each of the group in their native tongue.

Receive the tale of years!

The light in the room dimmed as Hasan and Miklos looked at the open page of the book, which was blank.

Come woodland folk and gather near,
The tale of the black wizard’s keep to hear.
Whence long ago, in a younger age,
The Dark One was defeated by Elyas the sage.

The Black Opal found increased his magical might,
But led the clan of Elyan away from the light.
The Sisters Three wished to heighten their power,
Rained flame and stone upon the tower.

Elyas trapped each witch in a dragon’s eye,
But the Opal ensured they did not die.
As Elyan raced to destroy the Stone,
A granite mountain crushed the mage in his home.

The spell ne’er completed, the three sisters wait,
In eternal suspension until by some fate
Their souls are released upon innocence sweet,
The revenge they will reap upon all they meet.

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Four Coffins

At seeing the three closed and intact coffins and then the fourth opened, the dwarf paused a moment, subconsciously scanning the corners of the room for a figure hidden in the dark shadows where the lamp and torch light did not yet reach. “The Three Sisters and your founder,“… I presume” the dwarf commented to Hasan.

Feldard looked to Nicolai, “Any way to tell how long that coffin has been opened and more importantly how? From outside or from within?” Sure it was an odd question but given that they we’re dealing with those that could control the undead it wasn’t unreasonable.

Feldard continued closer, to investigate the throne and opened coffin.

Hasan swallowed hard. It seemed they were getting to close to the heart of the matter. The dwarf was probably right, although he had never dreamed that the Three Sisters had entombed Elyas after overthrowing him. “If you’re right, Feldard, and it certainly sounds reasonable, it would seem one of the four, living or dead, manged to burst from his bonds. I don’t think it was Elyas, or my clan would have known his presence since he was free. We must be wary.”

And yet, Hasan could not heed his own advice, as he began to imagine a horrible scenario. What if the risen one was a depraved Elyas, seeking to reconstitute the Sisters Three, using the living girls from the village to do so? Fear and revulsion throbbed in the elf. He began to scrabble at the closed coffins, hoping to open them and dispel such an awful fate for his neighbors.

Miklos brought his lightstone to bear on the shadows beyond. “I agree with Master Feldards’ assessment. From here Karalena, Solorena and Trilena seem to have forced the fourth tomb in their attempts to win the Black Opal Eye. We must reply on the trusty power of mage-wrought weapons and Halav. And the last charge of Dentiata’s wand of course.” he said waving the artifact.

The priest needed no magic to divine the wreek of evil from this place. He could practically taste it. He looped the handle of his flail behind his shield for quick access and drew forth his Halavist symbol. Summoning the liturgies of banishment once more in preparation for a fight with the undead. He approached the open tomb alongside Feldard and peered in…

‘Mage-wrought weapons and religion eh?’ thought Nicolai as he slipped into the room after the others. He fished around in his back pack until his hand closed on his hammer and steel wedges. Normally these where used for overhangs whilest climbing but he was pretty sure they could wedge a coffin lid shut, providing they were that kind of lid…

He began to make his way over to the first coffin.

Saeth stood back as the others crowded around the open tomb. She was curious, certainly, but she was also a bit concerned at having everyone clustered about the sarcophagus, lest a trap or flailing corpse have them all within reach. Keeping what she imagined as a safe distance from the open coffin, she approached the throne, her eyes searching for a verse or inscription to make clear its original use.

Closing the distance, they could see that the open coffin had been burnt and defiled. Whatever remains had been within had been torched.

As they approached, a metal stand rose up from the ground to the left of the throne. A large, ancient leather-bound book sat atop the stand, facing the ash-covered throne. The book was close, its cracked cover held by a metal clasp. A long quill pen lied atop the book. A stange blue glow now lit the room, its lightsource unclear.

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Tomb Of Souls

“The room beyond is large. I see something at the far end but can’t make it out,” the dwarf informed the others. “I don’t see any living thing in my range. It should be safe enough.”

He pushed open door and stepped into the room, giving space for others to follow. The large shapes at the far end were intriguing and he headed towards them first.

Hasan followed close, while Saeth squinted through the doorway, the humans’ torches spoiling her infravision.

Midway through the room, three curved steps led down to an area with three stone coffins surrounding a cast-iron throne which stood in front of a fourth coffin. The coffins were covered with more elaborate elven carvings. The throne was covered with soot, as was the coffin behind it. That fourth coffin was open, its lid lay in pieces on the floor.

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Turning The Key

The dwarf, seeing the keyhole, searched his somewhat fallible memory, his stubby fingers burying deep into his beard as scratched his chin. “Anybody find any keys recently?”

“A key, you say?” Hasan withdrew the key he had collected from the vault below and passed it forward to the dwarf. “I found this downstairs.”

Nicolai spent a few more seconds seeing if the door was trapped in some way then backed out of the way. “I couldn’t find any triggers but be careful nonetheless. I’d back off a few yards.”

“Halav protects those who protect themselves.” said Maruc as he stepped back a few paces.

As he moved past Hasan, Miklos placed a friendly hand on his shoulder. “Good luck, keyfinder. I’m sure we are just being over cautious!”

Feldard accepted the key from Hasan, looking about at the others who suddenly decided that caution was the better part of valor. With slight chuckle, he inserted the key into the keyhole and turned, attempting to push/pull/slide/lift the concealed door.

At this point, Hasan’s ambivalence over the destruction of the great fresco had disappeared completely. Intrigued by what could have been so carefully concealed, no doubt by Elyan ages ago, he stepped past the retreating humans and eagerly watched over the dwarf’s shoulders. “Hurry up,” he told the dwarf. In Dwarvish, of course; such words barely existed in his Elvish vocabulary.

Saeth didn’t feel the need to take a step back at Nicolai’s advice, given her now-typical position in the rear. Suppressing her tears for the now-destroyed fresco, she watched carefully as the key turned.

Sweat glistened on Feldard’s brow as he rotated the key into position. He heard the faint sound of a latch being released and tumbler falling. The nearly invisible crack running down the middle of the fresco widened ever so slightly.

Peaking through the crack, the dwarf’s infravision was able to make out that the room that lay beyond was a large one. He could see that at the back of the room were some large rectangular shapes. He couldn’t quite make out what they were. Large pieces of furniture? Big chests full of riches? He couldn’t tell…

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Keyhole in the Temple

Nicolai nodded in agreement at Feldard’s assertion. Then bend his skills to opening the portal.

Miklos turned to his cleric friend. “Why go to so much trouble for artful concealment?”

Maruc’s hand rested on his flail. “Let us hope we don’t regret our discovery.” he grinned as waited for Nicolai to finish.

Feldard stood back, letting the rogue do his thing. He felt better for having hacked at the wall. There was something calming about wielding an axe…ah but now was not the time to be relaxing. Hopefully, this new hidden entryway would lead them to their goal. Because thus far, their search of the tower ruins was not faring so well.

Nicolai carefully searched for a means of opening the door, if that’s what it was. As he poured over the woodwork, he saw that there was a small hole located in the center of the entrance to the temple depicted in the fresco. A hole just the right size for a key.

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