posted by wererat
July 6, 2006, 16:35
Category: Vasha's Journal

Planting 21, 593 CY, Valor’s Vault, continued

We needed some time to think about the riddle, so we turned to the next sarcophagus in the room and repeated our search for traps, opening the lid and fighting the resulting lemure (devil) that opening the crypt summoned. This time though, we only found an old staff and rusty dagger with the occupant. We continued on to the next one, which provided two lemurs to fight off. My attacks had no real effect on them, so I hopped up on the edge of the sarcophagus while my friends fought the devils. To my surprise, this one did not contain a body, but rather, it was filled to the brim with green slime!

Before daring to touch the green glop, I asked someone to pass me the old staff from the other sarcophagus to test the slime. At first, I though the slime was eating away the staff, but when I looked more carefully, I realized that it had not affected it at all. So, I carefully touched a gloved finger to the surface of the goo. My friends were horrified, though it didn’t hurt me at all. I put my hand in further and was suddenly being dragged backwards– they were sure that my hand had been eaten away as if by acid! I had to leap back up on the sarcophagus quickly while assuring them I felt fine. I thought I saw a glimmer of silver in the bottom– a keyhole, and, as I had a silver fish key, I hopped into the sarcophagus and inserted the key. Wisdom is the key. We all heard the sound of four bolts being pulled, and then a staircase appeared below the sarcophagus. In spite of this, Strum, Grundl and Wölfel we convinced that I’d burned off both legs and arms, and there was no convincing them otherwise. I started down the steps with Strum to check for traps, and got to enjoy listening to them all argue about how incredible my balance was without limbs. I’m assuming that they eventually figured out that the green acidic slime had only been an illusion.

We descended about 100 steps and came to a chamber with one door leading out– and the manticore. We were congratulated for passing the test of Wisdom, and told what the three potions that we carried would do: one was for Bull’s Strength, one was for Heroism, and one, a deadly poison. Of course, the creature would not say which was which, or which test would need which.

The door out led to a room filled with statues of humanoid warriors with spears. The floor was decorated with a coiled serpent design that wound through the statues to an archway on the other side of the room– the tail of the serpent was at our feet. We were not sure what the statues would do (I could not see arrow slits or other visible means of attack), but I was sure I was the least likely to be hit by anything, so I hopped out onto the tail, telling my friends I thought we had to stay on the snake pattern to avoid damage. I was half right– staying on the snake minimized damage, but as I passed in front of the first pair of statues, I was struck by something and felt some of my strength leave my muscles. Strength is only the path. I realized I was not strong enough to get through the room. As I made to go back, Strum suggested I step off the snake pattern. I realized that was probably not a good idea, but still, it might be important to make sure that we had the right idea before sending someone else out. I stepped off and leapt for the door– and was struck by rays from most of the statues, weakening me further.

We could not tell which potion was which, but Wölfel is the strongest of us by far, so he drank one of the vials. We could tell immediately by the look on the half-orc’s face that he’d taken the poisoned one! Fortunately, he is made of strong stuff, and, though visibly weakened, he survived what would likely have killed the rest of us.

We had two tests to finish, and two potions. Grundl opened the next vial, and said it smelled “beefy”– drinking it proved it to be the Bull’s Strength drought. He went quickly over serpentine pattern, getting hit only a few times by the rays, before making it to the other side. He found a lever to deactivate the ray trap and the rest of us passed through the room without further incident.

We wanted to rest, but felt that we were very close to our goal, so we pushed on. The next test was in a large chamber, with a bridge over a chasm through the middle. Lit torches lined the walls, and a door was visible on the opposite side. In front of the door was a stone statue of an armed warrior bearing a two-headed hammer.

Valor will open the way. It seemed clear to us that our paladin was the one for this last task, so he drank the potion of Heroism and walked towards the statue. As we suspected, the statue sprang to life and began to swing heavy blows at Strum. After a few moments, we decided that valor didn’t necessarily mean “alone” and joined in– I used my crossbow while Grundl and Wölfel got much closer to the statue, and when Strum fell from his wounds, I pulled him back so that I could dump a healing potion down his throat. I had time to shoot one more bolt at the stone construct before Wölfel finished it off.

With that, we dusted ourselves off and gathered at the door. The seal of Saint Cuthbert was emblazoned upon it. I checked it for traps and did not find any– luckily for us, the only thing that attacked us as the door opened was fear, and after those tests, fear was unable to infect any of us.

The chamber beyond contained murals depicting scenes of Saint Cuthbert, a dais, and a sarcophagus– this one bearing the relief of an armored knight on the lid. I was reluctant to disturb this particular tomb, but fortunately, I noticed a small hidden compartment on the outer base of the sarcophagus. I disabled a poisoned needle that was ready to spring, and pulled out a box. Inside was the silver head of the hammer– the Haft of Justice.

Not wishing to tempt fate further, we decided it best to leave without touching anything else. Even in our weakened state, we wanted to be outside and away from this crypt. Unfortunately, when we finally found our way to the exit, we were stopped. A figure with burning red eyes, dressed in plate-mail and equipped with a greatsword, and surrounded by crossbow-wielding minions, accosted us. In a deep, ominous voice it spoke: “Turn over the key to my father’s prison.”