Friday, April 03, 2015

The Strange, pt.3

Our excursion to Ardeyn went ahead without McNulty and Soderstrom. Rumours around the Estate suggested that McNulty got a sudden assignment somewhere in Siberia and that Soderstrom got a tryout with the Canucks in some NHL-based recursion.

[spoiler warning]

Our first obstacle was the entrance to the Mouth of Swords, a cave opening ringed with dozens of blades. A few nicks and cuts later we were through. Further on, we came to a central chamber with a giant copper brazier and encountered a hooded figure in tattered robes, a wrath lord calling itself the Myth Keeper. We decided to talk to the wrath lord and he offered to keep treasures safe for a fee. We had nothing to give it. We said we were there to claim the dragon eggs. However, we did not have the means to prove ownership and the Myth Keeper told us to leave. Roll for initiative!

The Myth Keeper proved to be less of an adversary than we anticipated. He had a seven-sided ring that controlled the fire in the brazier. There were seven doors around the room, each one inscribed with one of the Incarnations of the Maker; Death, Desire, Lore, Silence, War, Commerce and Law. With the ring, we could direct the fire toward one of the doors, which would then become unlocked. For no particular reason, we selected the Silence door first. It opened to a long stairway circling downward, eventually reaching a chamber with a statue of a unicorn. The statue was made of stone, while the horn was metal. We uncovered a secret door that could be opened by rotating the unicorn's horn to the left. A sign on the wall warned us against entering the Night Vault, lest the umber wolves consume our souls.

With the sound of howling in the distance and no sign of dragon eggs, we decided to try our luck somewhere else. So we chose the Death door. I mean, why not, right? We headed down a corridor, past another unicorn statue (which we chose to bypass) and came upon a chamber with four large sarcophagi and a large, smoking urn. A layer of water covered the ceiling. Not liking the look of this room one bit, we decided to try our luck elsewhere, although we all had a sneaking suspicion we would have to return eventually.

We next tried our luck at the door of Desire. A short passage led to a room with several corpses. We searched the room thoroughly, suspecting a secret door. There was a secret door and we also uncovered a small, hidden cavity in the floor containing a qephelim clay figurine. After some study, we determined it to be a talisman that allows the Myth Keeper to regenerate. Not knowing how long it would take the wrath lord to return, we decided to keep it as leverage in case we couldn't find all the eggs and needed to force the Myth Keeper to reveal them to us. Moving on throughout the secret door, we found a room with three statues. One was a muscular human male throwing a hammer, the second, a graceful qephelim dodging two pendulums and the third, a female human reading a large book. Holbein approached the second statue. It animated and reached out a hand. Upon making contact, Holbein got blasted for some serious Speed damage, but the outstretched hand of the statue held a dragon egg. Wilcox and Buckingham followed suit with the other two statues, each doing a type of damage appropriate to the style of the statue and relinquishing its treasure. However, neither held another egg. Rather, they were a large gem and a book.

Moving on, we found rooms behind the door of Lore to be largely empty, so we continued on to the door of War. By this time, our more martial team members were itching for a fight and that seemed like the best place to find one. Inside, we found a large black-tiled chamber with a large statue of an armoured qephelim and racks of weapons on the walls. An open door led to a large chamber beyond. As we examined the room, Wilcox touched one of the weapons. Suddenly, the open door slammed shut, the statue bellowed "Your challenge is accepted" and Wilcox disappeared. Wilcox found himself in a large chamber with a stone step pyramid occupying most of the available space. He stood at the base of the pyramid with the weapon he had touched in his hands, while two sark stood atop the pyramid raining arrows down toward him. As Wilcox worked his way up the pyramid to close on the sark, Holbein touched a weapon as well. Holbein and two more sark joined the battle. Holbein provided cover fire with his bow as Wilcox dispatched the sark with his sword. As the last sark fell, the previously open door reopened. At the top of the pyramid was a bronze altar with a bronze dial affixed to it. Wilcox turned the dial and the top of the pyramid collapsed. Fortunately he was able to dive to safety. After the trap reset itself, Wilcox tried again, this time turning the dial in the opposite direction. Another door in the room opened revealing another room beyond. Inside was another armoured qephelim statue and several chests. The chests contained some ancient bottles of wine, a few cyphers and another dragon egg. Two down, one to go.

After skipping over the door of Commerce (seemed lame) and spending some fruitless minutes not finding any eggs behind the door of Law, the time had come to return to the door of Death. Back at the room with the sarcophagi and the water on the ceiling, we jammed a large rock into the door to keep it open. Then Buckingham went inside and proceeded to push open the closest sarcophagus. As soon as it budged, the door started closing, crushing the rock as it did so. At the same time, the water on the ceiling started flowing down the walls and pooling on the floor. Buckingham dove throughout the door just as the rock shattered. We waited for roughly an hour and the door opened. The water was once again pooled on the ceiling. Holbein had a cypher that allowed him to breathe under water, so he volunteered to go in and look for the final egg. Sure enough, as he searched each sarcophagus, water continued to fill the room. Holbein was able to open the sarcophagi, retrieving some coins, a valuable amber statue and the third dragon egg. We smashed the Myth Keeper's talisman to ensure he wouldn't return, then fled the Mouth of Swords with a good supply of stolen treasure and the precious dragon eggs.