Episode 82: Into the Feywild, Part VI
As Magnus and Ara attempted to navigate the sand pit, their companions waited on the other side of the solid stone wall. Before long Keen grew bored and snuck off to investigate the other forks in the tunnel. Realizing he was gone, Sirlius hurried after with Whisper and Yuna close behind. Whisper caught up to Keen just as he entered the middle fork. As she scolded him for taking unnecessary risks they found themselves separated from Yuna and Sirlius by a second wall of stone that sprung up behind them, trapping them in the second puzzle room. Yuna was worried, and was inclined to wait for her companions to solve their respective puzzles, but Sirlius convinced her to investigate the third room.
Whisper and Keen found themselves in a low-ceilinged room with large stone tiles on the floor. When stepped upon, some of the tile glowed with multicolored runes and erupted in a explosion of arcane energy; others crumbled away revealing a hidden pit of spikes beneath; a scant few were solid, safe, and provided safe passage. Keen brazenly stepped forward and fell through one such spike trap, earning him nasty puncture wounds and a scolding from Whisper, who used her rope to tie a harness and leash onto him to keep him close. As they carefully made their way across, the found chunks of irregularly-shaped metal; collecting all five they found they formed a solid cube, which slid neatly into a small hole in the floor at the far end of the room. The cube served as some sort of lock, which caused a metal grate to slide into the floor. Behind the grate was a small plinth with a jewel-encrusted skull atop it. Keen grabbed the skull, and the two of them made their way back to the entrance. Though the way was still blocked by the wall of stone, as Keen approached with the skull the stone began to slide into the floor; they were free.
Meanwhile, Sirlius and Yuna found the third puzzle room to be utterly dark save for the dim glow of four green lights. They moved to the closest and found the source: a green crystal glowing with a faint internal light set into an alcove on the side of a large pillar. Yuna had just picked up the crystal to investigate it further when a low, ominous rumble echoed through the darkness. They turned to see two green eyes staring at them some distance away. Yuna surmised this must be the gorgon from the children’s story Ara had related. Using her divine power she distracted the gorgon by conjuring forty pounds of raw meat in the centre of the room. Sirlius then cast Stinking Cloud on the centre of the pile. The attack enraged the gorgon, and it charged, goring Sirlius with its horns, slamming him to the ground, and trampling him. Yuna and Sirlius battled the huge metallic beast, fending off its charges and hurling spells. The gorgon backed them into a corner by the pillar and readied another attack. At that moment, Yuna recalled the story of Gorfa the Mighty, who was charged with solving the Sphinx’s puzzles not with brawn but cleverness. Considering the crystal she held in her hand, she thought to smash it, thinking perhaps the four crystals in the room and the gorgon were connected in some way. She raised her hand to hurl the crystal to the ground just as the gorgon let loose a mighty blast of green dust and smoke from its mouth. The cloud enveloped the two heroes, and while Sirlius resisted its effects Yuna felt her body turn to stone and froze in place, a stone statue holding a glowing green crystal. Though near to death himself Sirlius slew the gorgon, and slumped to the ground next to his friend.
Bloodied, bruised, and exhausted Sirlius wondered how they would save Yuna – for amongst the party only she had the power to cure petrification. His eyes turned to the crystal, and gently, gingerly pried it from Yuna’s stone fingers, and hurled it to the ground. The crystal cracked, and a flash of green arcane energy passed across Yuna’s form. Again he smashed it down and again the green light flashed. On the third attempt the crystal shattered, and the light contained within it dimmed. Sirlius inspected Yuna and found that though still mostly stone, her form was now mottled with rough, pale flesh. He hurried to gather the other three crystals in the room – as well as the jeweled crystal skull in the gorgon’s lair – and shattered them one by one. When the forth and final crystal was destroyed, Yuna regained her physical form. Together, the exited the chamber and rejoined Whisper and Keen.
Ara and Magnus did their best to navigate the sand pit; they could see no sign of any crystal skull, and Magnus learned the hard way that the vortex of quicksand would quickly pull him under. He leapt, climbed, crawled, and hauled himself onto broken stone pillars dotting the room. Atop one he found a large brass valve; turning it he found it controlled the flow of the quicksand and was able to stop it completely. Ara then used his Fist of the North Wind to blast clear a temporary path through the sand, revealing a broken staircase leading from his position down into the centre of the room. The pair hurried down before the walls of sand filled on both sides of them, and climbed up the large stone pillar that just barely cleared the top of the sand. Perched precariously on the top of that pillar they found it was more chimney than pillar – the centre was a pit some 30 feet deep, ended in grate of solid metal bars locked shut and forming a sort of floor. A ladder was bolted into the side of the stone, and Magnus was able to ratchet it up above the pit towards the earthenware pot dangling above it from a long rope.
Even fully extended the ladder was too short to reach all the way to the pot, but Ara was able to climb the ladder and then lever himself up onto his immovable rod and hook his quarterstaff through one handle of the pot. Pulling it towards him, he found the rope suspending the pot unspooled and the pot lowered easily. Inside he found a jeweled crystal skull and small phial of liquid. Magnus made to drink the liquid to see what would happen but Ara stopped him, spilling a drop over the edge and onto the sand. The sand immediately fused into an irregular platform of stone, enough for one person to stand on safely. By sprinkling the liquid onto the sand in front of them, they were able to quickly cross the pit and return to the safety of the entrance platform.
With the three skulls in hand and the party reunited the trials of the Sphinx were complete. Thinking it wise to rest and heal before returning to the surface, the party made camp in the tunnels. Keen was alarmed to discover that putting on the Ring of Bliss had no effect, and worse, he seemed unable to sleep at all.
DM Puzzle Design Rating: B
PC Puzzle Solution Rating: S
Keen Status: Leashed
RP Rating: Awesome!