Episode 73: The Sentinel In Darkness
Magnus drew his attention away from the residium dust and considered the temple. Drawing on a dim memory of a lecture he heard centuries ago in the El Astrum Public Library, he realized that this place was a Wanderer’s Temple: an ancient, sanctified space built by Dragonborn adventurers for millenia to provide aid and succor to those who would come after. The conceit was balance: whatever was taken, an offering of equal or greater value must be given.
The party opened another offering box, one inscribed with a dragon scale. Inside, they discovered ancient ring-mail armor covered in black leather with embossed stitching reminiscent of dragon scales. One sleeve of the heavy coat displayed a series of magic sigils. Sirlius realized these symbols were found in the Book of Draconic Rune Forms he had found in Levani’s pack, and cross-referencing was able to identify two of the five: protection from cold, and protection from lightning.
Meanwhile Ara noticed a second hand on the statue had closed into a fist. It seemed clear that the statue was indicating the imbalance of offerings taken versus given. The party experimented with various offerings, and found that some items were deemed valuable, others less so, and none of their offerings seemed sufficient to open either of the closed fists.
Keen went to investigate the doors at the back of the chamber, and found that they were unlocked and swung freely open at a touch, revealing a passageway beyond leading to a staircase, the mirror image of the passage they entered the night before. The party decided to leave the temple. As they exited the main chamber and entered the passageway, they found that the stairs ascended to a stone ceiling, and stopped: the way out was closed. Just then, the booming footfalls of the four-armed Dragonborn statue echoed through the chamber; the construct was activated when the party had attempted to leave without balancing the offerings.
Trapped, the party had no option but to fight. Magnus and Ara ran forward to confront the construct and traded blows; the closed fists of the statues impacted with bone-crunching pain. Worse still, Magnus’s greatsword disappeared from his hands when he struck. Frustrated, he pulled his silvered hand-axe and struck again, and again the weapon disappeared. Seeing this, Ara put his staff away and attacked with fists, Crushing stone and sending shards and debris clattering to the tiled floor. Yuna and Sirlius attacked at range with magic. Keen threw a handful of gold at the statue, to no obvious effect.
Whisper cracked the stone construct with forceful arrow strikes, only to have her weapon disappear from her hands. As the weapons disappeared, one of the statue’s hands opened, but it continued to attack with its remaining fists.
Growing desperate, Sirlius waved his Wand of Wonder. The status shimmered, and then shrunk to half its size. Seizing the opportunity Magnus pushed past the animated statue back into the main chamber, racing to the offering boxes. He found that the party’s weapons had been magically teleported here as offerings.
The combined magic of the party shattered the statue, which sent chunks of stone scattering across the chamber floor. As they watched, the debris rolled over the tiles, up the side of the pedestal, and began to reform; in a minute, the statue had completely reformed and stood regarding them silent and still. As Magnus retrieved the party’s weapons, the fists of the sentinel closed tight once again.
Realizing they had little alternative, the party began offering various magic items, weapons, and coin, attempting to match the value of the residium dust and armor. Magnus decided they should just take whatever was in the third box, and opened it, discovering a magical dagger carved from a single dragon’s tooth. Yuna offered magic scrolls; Whisper unbreakable arrows; Ara a magic ring. Keen offered a common magical wand, which appeared not to appease the sentinel; Magnus and Whisper argued with him about submitting suitable offerings. In the end, Magnus dropped the huge slab of residium they had removed from the chest of Whibraxis, balancing the offerings: the sentinel’s fists opened fully, as did the doors leading out of the Wanderer’s Temple.
The party left via the southern passage. The stairs led up into a natural cave system; a narrow fissure and a wide, naturally-formed tunnel led away from the cave in opposite directions. Whisper investigated the area and saw signs of creatures living within the caves, and recommended the stick to the smaller, more confined paths where possible. Thus, one by one the party attempted to squeeze through the crack, which proceeded some 200 feet or so through the solid stone before widening into a passage. Magnus got stuck part-way through, but sent his undead hand back through the crack, past Keen, to retrieve the Ring of Reduction from Ara. Wearing it, the tiny undead hand scampered back to Magnus and reattached, causing his whole body to reduce in size. He made it out, with Keen following. Whisper followed without incident. Sirlius and Yuna came next, though the latter was unable to get her tall, lithe frame through the narrow space. Magnus sent the Ring of Reduction to her also.
Last came Ara, who managed to get both himself and his staff in the narrow space. As Magnus’s hand crawled back into the crack to deliver the Ring of Reduction, Ara unleashed a blast of arcane force from his staff, sending a cloud of dust and shattered rock through the gap. The force also sent Magnus’s hand flying end-over-end through the tunnel. Magnus returned it to his arm, but found it had lost the Ring of Reduction in the explosion; Keen crawled back into the fissure to find it. Finally, the party was through, dusty and bruised by whole. A long tunnel proceeded away from them into the darkness.
Offerings Taken: 3/3
Generosity Levels: Grudging
Days Until the Full Moon: 9
RP Rating: Awesome!