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5E The Kalarian Precipice - Chapter Five

97mg

Villager
Pulling her gang of pseudo-captives along, Metea is first to bravely step into the expansive area, and there is much to take in. This circular space must be sixty feet in diameter. All is quiet, except for the movements of her followers and the odd light breeze of warm air against her neck. The stinging heat of coals has been left behind you too, which bodes well for the less fire-resistant of the group.

The circular and lowered section of floor is most unusual, now that it can be seen up close. Yes, it is basalt, but very different from the cracked pipe formations and roughness you've grown accustomed to. It is smooth as glass, perfectly level, and reflects your face should it be peered down upon. Along the circle’s edge runs something of a walkway. To your left two dark sections of wall give way to unexplored passage entrances or rooms. To the right, another two possible exits look across the cavern like a pair of unblinking eyes.

And then there is the door. Carved directly into the rockface on the wall directly opposite you, it is little more than a rectangular outline. The hexagonal shape you noticed upon entering the area catches your eyes. It too, is reflective even in this darkness. It is a foot across, at least. A huge, beautifully cut stone, mounted into the wall!

Below it there most certainly are carvings, hard to tell without further inspection, but it looks that four distinct markings are arranged in a row.

<Will update map and draw carvings tomorrow. Feel free to search / investigate / assign guards etc. Carvings will require a religion / arcana check or other effect for interpretation. Quality of rolls will effect accuracy. Also need to know what light sources are active (if any). Thanks! >
 
Dain - The Carven Door

Acting the churl made Dain's stomach churn. And yet, he understood well enough that many had suffered that exact fate. Had walked the same path he walked now.

What a miserable existence...a life squandered in pursuit of shiny stones...slavery and deceit. Always we desire power...more and more. Essithea, I desire only to sink into the warmth of your embrace. What is power compared to that?

Coming into the strange room, Dain turned to look with probing eyes, taking in as much as he could. He also looked one last time behind them. Just to be sure.

Sticking to the left of the smooth indentation, the party made their way forward. He peered down into it and then above him and around, looking for any interesting clues about the chamber that he could share with the others.

<Perception roll = 25 NATURAL 20>
 

Metea

Villager
"Alright, alright. I suppose you all can take a rest," Metea said.

Her eyes glittered- not just the thaumaturgy, this time. She was having a good time! A nice break from the terror from before. The others weren't sulking about it all, were they?

"Well, sorcerer? Come look at this door with me?" She cajoled him, before he could settle in for a quick break. He needed it, though... hopefully investigating the door was not too strenuous!

Metea knelt down and investigated the stone for anything unusual. "It is a shame the dwarf is still asleep. Their people are good at stonecraft, are they not?"

A moment's pause, and she'd open her tome once more. It seemed to flip open to a page of its own accord- but the page was blank. Hm. Taking the quill that had rested somehow between the pages- it looked like one of her own tailfeathers, honestly- she'd copy the symbols on the door into her book.

<Arcana check=13>
 

Otiroth

Villager
"Yes... of course. I'll take a look," Otiroth moved over, casting dancing lights as he did to illuminate the area for him. Dain seemed on watch for now...

The sorcerer, though, took a moment to get a few 'tail feathers' of his own. Turnabout was fair play, after all, especially when Metea had had such fun for the past leg of their journey! He'd hate for her to feel entitled... or left out!

He'd kneel by the symbols, though unlike Metea, he did not particularly want to touch any. A closer look, then. They could mean so many things- a warning, a roadmap to a demonic overlord's room, even a puzzle to pass the main door, like some kind of lock. The trick was figuring out which before they all failed of old age...

<Arcana check=22>
 

Jeovanna

Villager
Jeovanna jostled the dwarf just slightly, but rather half-heartedly. "Let him sleep," she replied.

The woman took in the room, relieved to be able to see at least something with Otiroth's dancing lights in play. "Can we not light a torch?" She asked finally.

There was little to look at, given she had no darkvision, aside from the doorway and whatever light spilled over into the smooth stone, so Jeovanna took a look. Was it a puzzle? Her father had had a puzzle lock on a safe in the wine cellar, though she'd never been able to open it...

<Investigation=17>
 
Carthum One-Tusk: The Carven Door

They stay off of the glass-like stone, for glass would surely shatter.

The stars are made of eggs,
Their light hatches and the shells fall,
Breaking, cracking, shattering, falling,
Light is born even in chaos.


Carthum watches the smooth stone, the other entryways, not letting himself be drawn in by the doorway. Were they above ground, he might have thought themselves at the edge of a great roc's nest. But down here- what nested down here?

<Religion check =15>
 

97mg

Villager
The Carven Door

Walking along the left arc of the great circular ledge, Annit listens out for the sounds of others, be they undead, spiders, constructs or fiends. All is quiet. Slowly, she takes Carthum’s light filled stone from her pocket, and lets a little illumination creep out between her fingers. Dain seems observant and alert much of the time, hopefully this will assist him. The rogue remains by his side for now, keeping an eye out while the others check some of the oddities on display.

The first exit on the group’s left as they pass, appears to be a medium sized room filled with old and decaying mining equipment. Well used hammers, the odd bent or broken spike, a rusty sieve, and there in one corner what might have once been parts for a cart. An iron wheel, a few splintered sections of timber, and a bent piece of metal tubing, possibly a handhold of some sort.

The second exit is of similar size, but to it's rear a tunnel leads out into a new unknown darkness. Upon the ground, many tipped on their side, are old hessian sacks. Some appear to be marked in common, “waste”, “small”, “large”, “unsorted”. Sadly they all lie empty and limp.

Otiroth and Metea are clearly more intrigued by the large gem and symbols on the far wall, and who wouldn’t be! With a sorcerer’s lights helping those without the racial luxury of darkvision, the mystery begins to unfold.

The design of the symbols is not unlike the carving onto which Metea recently thrust her hand. The actual markings though, although feeling to radiate magical possibility, don’t feature in her memories or learnings as of this moment. Otiroth on the other hand, has seen something similar to the second one before. Flames. And within the fire one of the earliest and most rudimentary symbols for life, or man, or woman. A humble circle. It is a simple guess from there on to assume that a person is featured in each of them… Yes, this is an old magic text, and looks to cross boundaries between the traditional runes of Kalair’s varied races and history. Whatever else Otiroth might make of these markings, would be up to a wild and youthful imagination.

Above the symbols the beauty of a faceted stone surely catches the eye. It is clear as a daylight sky and still as a pond, reflecting perfectly the faces of those that look to it and the room that surrounds them. At almost a foot across it is enormous as far as known gemstones might go, and if the rumors are true, with size comes power. It looks to be lodged deeply into the wall, and likely not something too simple to prize out.

Carthum might ponder upon the religious significance of this site or it's markings, but Suru’s teachings can not specifically guide him in this moment. No ancient rituals, gods or ways of life really come to mind.

Dain on the other hand has been soaking up the whole gloom-encrusted experience. His eyes run around the space like a cat hunting prey. With him looking, and Jeovanna adding her input, they come to quite a few surprising conclusions.

The low and flat expanse of rock. That was once magma or superheated stone for sure. A pond of perfect red lava, viscous and skin-stripping heat. Thankfully it has cooled, but how it has been preserved so perfectly is anyone’s guess. It is like a lake that has frozen in the blink of an eye. Nobody has made skin-contact with it yet, and whether that is wise or not remains to be seen.

The room’s they’d passed were most obviously work places. Small, cramped spaces where crevice’s treasures were surely unloaded, sorted and cleaned. But where did they go after that? Dain might regard the circular floor again, with renewed interest.

Then there are the symbols. To Dain and Jeovanna they might mean little, except the first on the left. The tallest stroke. It is something like a tree standing atop a patch of horizontal earth?

“A rest sounds good,” Annit says, breaking a little of the silence. "I’ll guard the exits on the other side if you wish."

<If you plan on a short rest, just let me know who is guarding where.>




 
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Dain - The Carven Door

After putting down his load of weapons, Dain squatted next to the edge of the circular impression. He studied it for a moment, before standing up again and rejoining the party.

"Good a place as any for a rest." He said quietly. Looking at the carvings, he tilted his head slightly. He shared what knowledge he knew of the circular floor and the first rune, even as he listened to Otiroth's gleanings. "At least they didn't leave any room for interpretation."

He grunted, stepping away from the door. "It says: wake up the dwarf, he's slept long enough. And see what the talking skull knows."

Annit had the right idea, about a rest. "A rest will benefit us all. I propose those of us with weapons take a tunnel. Those of us with learning can have words with our dwarf and the undead soul about these carvings and this door."

There were four tunnels to guard, and between himself, Annit, Carthum, and Jeovanna, a body for each of them. Dain stationed himself at the tunnel on the left side.

Sliding into the darkness of the entrance, he slid down the wall and sat in the gloom with his sword across his knees. He took a piece of goat jerky from his bag and gnawed on it, washing it down with a swig of ale. It was warm, from traveling in a mine and rubbing elbows with lava, but it was still refreshing.

I sit here and think of all that I do not know. The void scratches at my heart, rakes at my soul. Who I was, who I am...over and over I peer into the darkness. And I find only Essithea...
 

Otiroth

Villager
For a moment Otiroth observes that faceted gem with pure, impotent greed.

He even contemplates reaching out to touch it, but... remembers what happened to Metea. Beautiful, perfect, wicked Metea, who would... never let him live it down if he got stuck to a giant gem and summoned a monster. So, the sorcerer managed to restrain himself.

Instead, he flicks out his small red gemstone, rolls it between his fingers.

Do you whisper, still? Then let that be your name, and let it be your purpose...

They would have time to focus later. For now, Otiroth nods at the others as they take up watch, and snaps his fingers, creating a little spark of flame which he'd let caress the symbol of fire. Just a touch! Nothing to stone, he was sure!

<Prestidigitation; cantrip>
 

Jeovanna

Villager
Jeovanna set down the dwarf on the stone rim. She would keep an eye on him, though.

Otherwise, the barbarian lifted her sword, finding great comfort in its weight. She hadn't supposed she would ever be so obsessed with her blade, but good steel was a shield between life and death. "I am lighting a torch," Jeovanna muttered, there was no argument, and she'd get to work on that, before circling the great enclosure. Jeovanna would take the middle path on the right, between the one they had come down and the one nearest the group.

If Blutith had seen her in chains, even mystical ones... ridiculous!
 
Carthum One-Tusk: The Carven Door

Ah, it was good to have his mace again!

Carthum kept an eye on the dwarf, too. Metea had been up to her old tricks of late, and he'd hate for her to traumatize the weakened dwarf. The brew was strong.

They were all agreed not to step into the cooled lava pit, then. Carthum took up guard near the far entrance, the one they had come down- just in case anything was following them... Annit could keep his lit stone for now!
 

Metea

Villager
Metea's eyes lit up as Otiroth tried to use flame on the... flame symbol. But that symbol on the right- was it water? Well, perhaps she could give it a try?

She'd pour a bit of water from her canteen into the palm of her hand- ugh, the water was warmer than the air around them- and focus a bit. The water danced in her palm- did Otiroth see?- and then would flick little droplets of water at the symbol.

Of course, if it were mystical runes, they'd need to activate all four at once, surely. "Well, Magaw?" She hoped he hadn't gotten too comfortable in her pack! "Any of the rest look familiar?"

And the dwarf? She'd tickle his nose with the tip of her tail.

<Spell casting: shape water, cantrip>
 

97mg

Villager
The Carven Door

“For you I shall,” Otiroth's stone replies to the sorcerer's subconscious.

“Name my task.”

Then his small flame begins to lick at the wall, dancing against the carving of fire. There is no doubt in Otiroth's mind that these symbols hide some magical power, he can almost feel it radiating against his hand, but such prestidigitation isn't the key. Alas, nothing happens.

The sensation is similar for Metea as she carefully wets the rightmost symbol. They are close. The magic is designed to be reactive. Unfortunately though, water is not the reagent required. “One of these is yours. The gift... pleases me,” says the quiet tones of her patron’s voice, as though from a distance, and fading away as quickly as they arrived.

Magaw pops out of her pack then. “I promise you I have behaved myself, after all, the contents of a lady’s bag are not to be spoken of,” he says nodding to her in thanks for the concealment. Then it is time to view the carvings that have attracted the mage’s interest.

“Well these are special aren't they? Not seen these markings before, anywhere else in the mines.” Rotating on the spot, he then looks out across the dark, mirror-smooth circular sunken floor.

“But I can guess what that is, or used to be before Immel carved up the pie. The fiends, the devils, the imps, all came out of that. Lucky for us I guess, that it is closed for business.”

The dwarf stirs then, sucking down a snorish gob of air and exhaling a raggard breath before opening his eyes.

“Hell. I should have guessed. Not every man have the lux o’ walking the straight path all his years.”

He doesn't seem afraid. No, he's just very confused. Then he wipes his lips on a sleeve and remembers. An act of kindness. The taste of a rather unique ale.

“Oh, :):):):),” he grunts, leaning forwards and moving into a sitting position.

“Where am I?”

Annit decides on a guarding position at the northmost tunnel on the area's east side. She slides in a little way, before attempting to let her shadow become one with the dark. Like a fox disappearing at night, the rogue is gone from view. Still and silent she rests, and waits...

<Magaw arcana check for symbols = 5.
Annit stealth check =28.
Is Oti asking his gem for the “message” cantrip?
Map coming later.>
 
Dain - The Carven Door

With his back to the wall, Dain sat amid the darkness. Was it still darkness? Could he call it that, now that it offered its secrets to him so willingly?

No. He could not. He should not.

Darkness was his past. Darkness was his life before Kalair.

He would call it the shadows. But not the darkness.

With his newfound vision, he scanned the blade of his sword. The symbol that had emerged on it, when he had pulled it from the earth...it was a mystery of his new life. Was it in any way connected to his previous one? Did it matter?

Closing his eyes briefly, his heart beat in his ears as he saw again a vision of the outline of a throne, backlit by some great light behind it. A voice, a woman's voice, could be heard, but the words were like in a dream; nonsensical and elusive.

Blinking his eyes open, he took another bite of food. He rested. And he waited. And he watched and listened. The pain in his chest, the burning pain, was slowly subsiding.

<Stealth = 6>
<Perception = 24>
<If an hour passes for a short rest, rolled 6 to regain hit dice. I think that puts him at 23/30 HP>
 

Metea

Villager
"Magaw- is this an infernal portal? A gate?" Metea asked. She looked at it a bit more warily, now. A gate directly to the nine hells, or just the nine hells' waiting room? "If so, we shouldn't be trying to open it."

Her hands came close to the symbols- she could feel the heat on the stone from where Otiroth had burned them, the cool mist from the stone on the right. Fascinating, beautiful, tempting. But actually opening a Gate would be disastrous! Worse than disastrous! Kalair was not ready for a freely opened gate, nor was anywhere else?

"But... it does not seem to be awake. Unless this is a back door, and the main door has opened elsewhere," Metea murmured.

She heard her patron's voice. She felt it. That there was something here, still something to investigate.

She mulled it over, for a bit, before turning back to the dwarf. "You're on the path of flames. Demon territory. But don't worry. It's still Marix." She could be at least mostly certain of that!

"Mold earth," she murmured. Next to the strange tree sigil, she'd try and create a temporary symbol in the stone of her own. A circle, and... well, she'd try to get it right... elemental magic! The purest of forms! A small triangle-shape within the circle itself...

<Arcana check=16>
 
Carthum is not even trying to hide, honestly. His guard position is more one of contemplation, though his eyes scan the darkness. The faint light from dancing lights in the distance enough to allow his orcish eyes to see.

In his head, he recites old prayers to Suru, and imagines himself in the shining metal armor of knights of old. Foolish day dreams. He should focus.

A short rest is enough to steady their spirits, but enough only for short prayers. Still, he feels some measure of Suru's light returning to him, and it is enough.

<If this is a successful short rest, Carthum will regain his Channel divinity, praise Suru>
 

Otiroth

Villager
"Hmm."

"Indeed, if you feel fit to move, come sit with us," the sorcerer offered the dwarf. "We have, after all, been traveling together some time now."

Infernal portal? Possibly. Either that, or a store room. The sorcerer sits down cross-legged in front of the door to continue investigating it further, taking a moment to center his thoughts. His thoughts fall upon Whisper once more, though. Their silent communication seemed a gem of a hint, and the stone's talent needed to be heard- even if the others could not understand it.

Otiroth knew of the spell; a cantrip written to be used regularly by wizards, but here in the hands of dragon and gem. Message.

<Will try and attune the red gemstone to the cantrip Message>
<On a successful short rest, Otiroth will regain 5 hp with one die spent- should bring him to 17/18 hp after Carthum's healing>
 

Jeovanna

Villager
Jeovanna could see little beyond the torchlight, and she was not sure how much her limited vision helped. Glancing up and down the hall for a moment, the woman found an outcropping of gnawed rock just beyond the tunnel entrance to stick the torch into- that way, at least her hands were free- and then would step back towards the main room.

She might not be able to keep a great eye on the area beyond, but she would certainly notice something stepping into the torchlight!

Half crouching and half leaning near the entryway, she'd try to at least make herself less completely obvious to anything that might dare to approach them. Perhaps, if something did approach them down this tunnel, both sides would be equally surprised!

<Perception check-6>
<Stealth check-17>
 

97mg

Villager
The Carven Door

Annit remains quiet in the darkness, resting both mind and body. The underdark of Kalair is changing them, changing them all. She feels not the frail young thief that entered not so long ago. The magic of this place is inescapable, invisible and clinging. Somehow, it has also made her a little stronger. Much of the burning pain has subsided, and thanks to the priest’s quick decision-making, all that remains is tender reddened dryness. Nothing that won’t heal naturally.

Silently focused, the ranger might wonder if his ears are playing tricks on him. Is darkness, like the innards of a seashell, creating the sounds of a rolling distant sea? The movement of stale fiend-stenched air, weaving through tunnels deep beneath the earth? Or perhaps his highly tuned ears do not lie. The ocean is close?

Magaw hangs around with Otiroth and Metea, intrigued to be in the presence of fellow mages. A young duo on the precipice of ensuring some imminent doom? Or standing on the edge of some great discovery, a corner-piece of this great underworld enigma?

“Perhaps,” he says in response to Metea’s hell hole theory. “If I was a betting man which I undoubtedly am, I’d say this portal of sorts, as you call it, allowed the access of beasts usually reserved for the outer planes. Imagine it, easy access to Kalair’s greatest concentration of power. A slow and constant theft, of what is rightfully the property of people such as yourselves, from above.”

"Ah! Speaking of above..."
He moves over to face the first symbol on the left. "If the circles are people, then this one is above, is it not?"

Demons. Marix. The tiefling made it believable. The dwarf shuffled backwards in a moment of fear, before realizing that not all in attendance were of devil-touched blood.

“Never heard o’ a path o’ flames, but demons…”


Shakily he stands, “... I got a few scores to settle with em!”

A bit wobbly on his feet, he looks to a bright looking young man. Otiroth.

“Hey fella, you got any grub? What you poking at there on the wall? And that head, some trickery of yours?”


The group’s words float from a distance into Jeovanna’s ears, as she patiently waits. Restraint was rarely on the menu with her Gnoll-bred kin, but she is doing well. Even the Gnolls, infamous for living in the vicious immediacy of the moment, knew when patience was a virtue. Better to let the prey come to you in situations such as this. For now though, all is still, and a short rest looks to be attainable.

<Metea / Otiroth roll Insight please. Everyone else can continue to rest or explore as they wish :)>
 

Metea

Villager
Metea's tail twitches a bit- always quick to find some condemnation of her demonic blood, it takes very little for Metea to read such into even the most innocent of comments. The dwarf probably doesn't mean anything by anything he says at the moment, honestly. he still seemed a bit confused and shaky, but perhaps he'd be able to walk from here on out, which she was sure Jeovanna would appreciate.

"A slow funneling of gems into the abyss, hm?" Metea murmurs, focusing on Magaw at the moment. "It would make sense. And if the mines dried up, it'd make sense they abandoned the place," Metea was silent for a moment. "A few last prospectors and whelps, staying behind for their own reasons..." like the whelps above ground, which now seemed like feral beasts compared to Kravikus and the ooze demons.

The symbols now copied safely in her book, she'd attempt to puzzle them out more directly, but the idea of giving any additional sacrifices to the demons seemed... unwise.

<Insight check=17>
 

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