Althaea’s journal entry for 18th of Sunburst continues
When the worried Dulkan re-entered the travel chamber, we came to know that the same time had passed inside and outside of the chamber, although our physical presence might have been someplace else. Carric attempted again to move the spheres of the floor – after some protest from Dulkan. Now, for some reason, the spheres would move. Perhaps the room had been out of use for so long that it needed to warm up. As they now moved, a discussion ensued of what alignment the spheres should take relative to the three doors and the vessel holding the power-generating gem. The doors and the vessel formed four ends of a cross while the middle sphere – around which the rest orbited – was at the centre of the imaginary cross. Carric noted that while the central sphere could represent the sun and the second sphere could represent our planet orbiting the sun, the third sphere could not represent our planet’s moon as the orbit was not correct; also what would be representative of our second moon. Therefore we had no knowledge what the third movable sphere could represent.
As Dulkan had some knowledge on dwarven craftsmanship, he suggested that we should attempt sliding the spheres along their tracks to see if we would feel a clicking or some disturbance in the sliding of the sphere. We did not: apparently this was not a tumbler –type lock.
We re-aligned the spheres, and again Carric placed a piece of tourmaline in the vessel. As before, there was a flash of light going through the room, and a distinct humming. After this powering, or activating, of the chamber we decided to inspect the doors. Carric chose to open the door which had held the spear trap the previous time we had activated the chamber. Mindful of possible danger, we all stepped aside as not to directly face the opened doorway– should something be hurled in none of us would be in harm’s way. The moment Carric opened the door, there was a sudden feeling of shift, and we all lost our balance, slid and fell against the wall where the opened door was. Gravity had changed in opening the door, and the doorway now led to a deep, dark pit. Unfortunately, as the door swung open outwards and not inwards, we could not just pull to close it. While I was still thinking what could be done with the door, could we perhaps lower someone down with a rope to pull it shut, Borel acted. He made a valiant effort to try and reach for the gem to deactivate the room to return gravity to normal. But his leap was unsuccessful and alas, he failed and fell out of the doorway. Luckily he had been caught by his belt buckle on the hinges of the door. He was now fighting for his life, trying to hold on. We threw some rope down, and this was the opportunity to try to close the door altogether. Borel thus tied the rope to the handle of the door and with an extraordinary effort Dulkan, Carric and I were able to provide enough muscle power to pull both the door and Borel back up and shut the door. As soon as the door was shut, gravity was returned to normal. Carric then lifted the gem away, deactivating the travel chamber and the magic of the room dissipated.
The third door that had been sealed when we first came to the chamber and when we first attempted to activate the room, was now open. This doorway led to a room, apparently formerly occupied by a wizard. All furniture had been broken and their remnants were scattered across the room. In the wall opposite the door was a small niche, containing magic scrolls. Scrolls immediately attracted Carric’s attention. As Carric and Dulkan advanced towards the niche, a trap in front it was triggered. Part of the stone floor slid from its place and flipped, sending Dulkan trapped beneath the stone slab. I could see a glimpse of the tragic that was inside; the floor was littered with the bones of those unfortunate souls who had previously sprung the trap. We could hear Dulkan’s voice underneath the stone slab, telling us he was all right apart from hurting his posterior on the fall.
We now considered how we might save Dulkan. Carric suggested we should spring the trap and jam the stone slab to prevent it from closing. As the room had broken furniture, I suggested we might use some of that debris to jam the trapdoor. Surely enough there was remnants of a sturdy table that could possibly do the trick. Carric then went ahead and sprung the trap. I had but just exclaimed that should he tie a rope around his waist for security, but I was too late. Fortunately enough, no such measures were necessary, as we were able to jam the door and Carric was agile enough to jump away from danger, being now aware of the danger. So, we fished Dulkan out, no worse for wear.
Carric and I then inspected the niche. There were three scrolls: two were written in a language neither Carric nor I could read. One scroll was legible to me and it was “Feign death” spell, to be used only once. I carefully placed the scrolls to my case, as there could be later use for them. After removing the scrolls, Carric noted that there were magical words inscribed in the wall behind, roughly translating into something like “curiosity killed the cat”. Very nearly indeed.
We then continued exploring this structure inside the Spire. We found a room that had apparently functioned as a gallery showcasing statues and other works of art judging from empty pedestals and showcases in the room, but there was not much else there. The objects and artefacts likely furnishing and decorating the room had now been burned – deliberately, as the ash was in piles in centre of the room. Furthermore, someone had been camping there, not just burning the stuff, as there was indication that a campfire had been kept in the room.
After completing the inspection of the gallery we found a staircase. As we descended down the stairs I could feel a sense of magical transport, and as I had ritual casted “Detect magic” spell I could tell that indeed there was a magical passage in the staircase. The others felt it too, but we still continued.
In the bottom of the stairs we found a door leading to a room that had apparently functioned as a library, as there was a book case with books and parchments in the shelves. I also detected magical glow in two of the rugs and two hanging armours in the room. I was reminded by my blunder with the tapestry and of Dulkan’s sufferings with the other trap; I remained carefully near the door of the room. As I informed the others of my observations, to caution them to take care when handling those artefacts, Borel’s following actions were inconceivable, placing us all in jeopardy. He wished to agitate the magic in the objects and decided – I cannot believe I am writing this – to take a piss on one of the rugs! Had he not learned to at least to be careful in dealings with magic, if not respecting it?
The objects promptly animated and attacked. Unfortunately I had positioned myself close to one of the armours that I had to quickly “Blade ward” myself; this choice proved most useful in the following combat. I had my hands full trying to combat the armour with “Acid splash” so I had little time to pay much attention how the fight was going for my comrades. I was taken off guard to this battle, stunned by Borel’s behavior and I was still a bit perturbed by my previous encounter with the magical trap that my acid splashes did little damage. From what I could observe, Carric’s magic was also a bit awry today, and he did almost as much damage to the surrounding structures as he did against the rug attacking him. The book case was unfortunately too close by, and many of the parchments were ruined in the collateral damage. The rug Borel had pissed on was now attacking him, trying to smother him. Dulkan leapt to his assistance, and was able to help him before the other armour attacked him. Dulkan then decided utilize higher ground as he jumped on a table, and with precision strikes of his rapier he dismantled the armour by cutting leather straps holding it together. The others defeated their adversaries much sooner than I, so they could come to my assistance. I was indeed in need of assistance as the acid I was able to conjure did little to slow the armour down.
As the fight quieted, I found myself in a really poor shape. For the first time, I had to perform “Cure wounds” on myself. We all needed a short rest. During our rest we had ample time to inspect the book case with Carric. He found a book that could be useful when attempting to use the travel chamber, although its cover and bindings had been dissolved by collateral damage from his acid spell. I found a series of ledgers, where the most recent one was from 73rd year of the reign of Merexia. When consulting historians, this could be used as an indicator on how long ago the structure had been in use. The ledger held little other interest at the moment, as it was not much more than a catalogue of the tributes given to Merexia. Another parchment I found dealt with the worship of Quirion.
Carric, on the other hand, found a book describing the worship of Ochrana. Borel showed quite keen interest in the book and asked Carric whether he could have it. Surely enough Carric agreed, and immediately Borel took a moment to read. He then asked Dulkan for his dagger; took it, and went away. Coming back he had a fresh injury on his hand: as my mother had educated me well, I knew that the worship of Ochrana can involve blood sacrifice, and the most valuable blood one can sacrifice is their own. However, Borel chose to be secretive about it, and I saw no reason to confront him on his choice of worship. But what I did consider confronting him for was his reckless behaviour with the magical items, which had placed all of us in perhaps unnecessary jeopardy.
After this hour of rest, we continued. We passed a very ornate hallway, which had apparently been decorated with some works of art, but none prevailed. Common all the rooms we investigated were traces of fire, with furniture of the room piled, and burned. Then we came to a great hall, which was a lounge area of sort. The floor was at a higher terrace along the walls and at a lower level in the middle of the room. But the most dominant feature of this room was an impressive oak tree growing in a big pot in the middle of the room, although no light was coming from anywhere. It was not lush but not scrubby either. It apparently grew thanks to some magic. After the short rest I had to recast my ritual “Detect magic” spell. As it took effect I was alarmed to find that the type of magic the tree was gently glowing was the same magic that had taken a palm’s width out of my height! I was alarmed and in a hurry now to warn my friends; Carric is always interested in things – magical or natural in nature – and Borel expresses a very childlike enthusiasm with little regard of repercussion or personal safety. I cried out a warning, just in time as Borel was apparently preparing to climb on the tree. After the shock had worn off, I suddenly realized that my clothes fit me better again. Dulkan noticed this and came to me to confirm of my feeling to be true. He attempted to lighten the mood by telling some clumsy but endearing joke about me not having to shorten my name again to fit my shortened height. Dear brother, what a nice gesture!
Onwards again we went, passing through a dining room. As we entered a room that had apparently functioned as kitchen, I immediately smelled the ocean and, when listening carefully, could hear muffled voices carrying from a distance. I saw that there was a crack in the floor at the corner of the room, and instantly realized that the smell of ocean and the voices were coming from there. Carric identified that as oceanic and luckily he could understand it. Apparently a Sahuagin Priestess was speaking; rather chanting to agitate bloodlust amongst the Sahuagin. This was a mass of some sort, for the worship of a deity called the Bloodmother, likely a Sahuagin name for Ochrana.
We understood that no time could be lost as they were preparing for a major manoeuvre; having captured an important landwalker, as they expressed it, for interrogation and the arrival of someone called the Baron.This meant that we were close to Sahuagin activity. Apparently the staircase had magically transported us closer to the sea than we actually were supposed to be. The crack was too narrow to lower anyone down for inspection, so we pressed forwards, but carefully as voices carry both ways. I also detected magic again. Thanks to my mother’s secret study, I was able to identify the magic in question: it was an arcane door with an arcane lock. We took a brief moment trying to open the door, but as there was little to go on how the door might be opened, and as we were pressed for time (rations grew fewer with each day passing), we continued forwards.
We passed barracks and reached an armoury with weapons and protective gear; Borel was interested in what it had to offer. I voiced the idea that we could perhaps upgrade the men’s armour and weapon. In this room there was a well, which could be our means to get to the lower level where the Sahuagin were. We decided that Dulkan should fetch the men without delay. Dulkan shot of with speedy, light-footed run. We decided to utilize Carric’s spell of invisibility to gain intelligence of what lay ahead. We came to the conclusion that we should send Borel down as he had the best fighting ability and, by the stealth of his invisibility, he could swiftly capture the Priestess for questioning, or kill her if capture was not an option.
As soon as Borel reached bottom of the well we realized we had made some miscalculations. First of all, Borel could not see in the dark and had to light a torch, which was a serious handicap against the invisibility. Second, Borel is hot-headed, and could ruin our changes for surprise attack by impulsiveness. We definitely needed the element of surprise as we had no way of knowing if we were to be outnumbered, even when fortified with our nine brave men.
But, we had no other option but to wait for Borel and Dulkan to come back, as we could not very well shout at him that we had changed our mind and needed another reconnaissance man. I think I had never heard so much splashing, shuffling of clothes and clinking of armour when Carric and I were listening intently on Borel’s procession. Luckily the chanting continued uninterrupted, indicating that the noises coming from Borel’s movement did not carry but were only seemingly amplified in our ears.
But, alas, it seemed that I had been premature in my relief; there was a discord in the chanting, and then sounds of quick-paced movement and scuffling were carried up the well. Luckily Dulkan and the men arrived at the same moment, and without delay Dulkan jumped down the well, eager to get to Borel’s aid. Carric went down next.
It was up to me now to give a motivational speech for the men and encourage them for the coming battle. This is what we came in for, this is what you were destined for, and now the fight is on. I poured a sense of pride and belief in ability in them in form of bardic inspiration. I bound my spell in encouraging lyrics of my song, and my notes followed the men down the well. I wished to aid their belief in their ability, and so I cast a curse of “Bane” against the enemy. This allowed greater injury by the men’s blades on the Sahuagin. I hoped this motivational speech and my abilities as a bard would help the men follow my orders in the battle.
I was the last to go down, and I could hear the sounds of the battle, making me anxious to participate in the fight as well. Once I was finally down I could see that the well opened into two passages, and that a fight was going on at both passages. The corridors were very narrow; only two men had room to stand side by side. To the left were Borel and Dulkan, fighting against five Sahuagin. Towards south, so in front of me was a hoard of Sahuagin attempting to corner us. The men, encouraged by my words and spells, were holding their ground steadfast. To my right was a sturdy wooden door, which Dulkan jammed using his halberd. It was in the nick of time, as the door soon began to tremor from the blows when yet another group of Sahuagin attempted to open it. Had they succeeded, they would have completely surrounded us.
Borel and Dulkan came victorious from the fight on the left corridor; they had slain the last Sahuagin. Borel and Dulkan then joined the men fighting in the passage leading south. I could see the Sahuagin Priestess in the southern corridor, aggravating the Sahuagin to attack us. There would have been no need for that: each time the Sahuagin drew blood from us, the smell of it made them frenzied. The Priestess summoned a magical trident, and it made a massive hit on Dulkan. I was concerned as I could see that Dulkan was in very poor shape, but I could not help him by curing his wounds as I was too far and I needed to assist the men. I felt torn, but I knew that Dulkan, even in his injured state was a trained fighter whereas the men needed encouragement and supervision: they were now on my responsibility.
Borel and Carric were in close combat with the Priestess, and soon they managed to overpower her. We by no means had upper hand of the fight and therefore we had to forego the idea of capturing and interrogating the Priestess. When the echoes of Carric’s words for the spell of “Chromatic orb” ceased and the Priestess was dead the Sahuagin suddenly lost all courage and cohesion, and they scurried away. Emboldened by this triumph the men began pursuing those Sahuagin who fled. I commanded them to come back, as there was still a group of Sahuagin behind the wooden door, attempting to break in. The first wave of men had been too enthusiastic and could no longer hear me, although I had made sure before going in the battle that they were accustomed to hearing my voice and obeying my commands. The second wave of men did hear me and I could lead them to flank the Sahuagin that were left. It was no feat to conquer the remaining Sahuagin. Carric had come with me, but Borel needed to stay with Dulkan as he attempted to stabilize his condition.
After the fights had quieted, and the men who went pursuing the fleeing Sahuagin came back, it was time to address the men and praise them of their bravery. As Dulkan was not able, I did this task – and quite happily, I might add since I had been the one actually leading them in the battle they had joined our quest for.
We had now ample time and opportunity to inspect the structure further. It had apparently been some sort of temple for Ochrana. There was an indoor harbour, allowing access from the sea. Finally, in a raft in the middle of a shark tank we found poor Kerach, who was the captured landwalker, as we all had suspected when we heard Carric’s translation from the Priestess’s words.
Now that things had settled down, I got anxious of Dulkan’s wellbeing. I remembered that his injured condition was facilitated by Borel’s inconceivable behaviour with the magical rug. It had been quite an unnecessary fight with little to gain from it; but when considering that our aim agenda was to fight the Sahuagin, agitating the magic rug had been selfish and reckless.