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5E The Kalarian Precipice - Chapter Five

Otiroth

Villager
Otiroth: The Carven Door

A nod to the dwarf, and Otiroth would briefly go to his pack, pulling out some rations. They were doing well in that regard, as far as actual physical and base sustenance went, but Otiroth had to admit... eating nothing but hardtack was wearing on his spirit more than his stomach! It mattered little, ultimately- he was just spoiled, perhaps.

Either way, it was good the dwarf was hungry.

"What do you hunger for, friend dwarf? Rations will be as rough on the stomach as anything," especially if the dwarf had note eaten real food for awhile, but Otiroth wasn't about to scold some dwarf and tell him to eat slowly like he was a child, "but a bit of flavor is not entirely out of the question."

Depending on what the dwarf answered, he could flavor the rations as such- maybe even chill or warm them, too, before handing the small wrapped pack over to their demihuman companion.

Otiroth enjoyed using his mysticism in such a way, to try and make someone's day at least a bit more pleasant. It was mundane application, but sometimes using the fantastic to assist the mundane was the best they could do.

<Prestidigitation to flavor the food>
<Insight check=10>
 

Jeovanna

Villager
Jeovanna's mind was indeed on the gnolls, though her thoughts were taking a circuitous, unhelpful route.

She had been told that some gnolls were themselves as bad as demons. Did she believe it? Yes, if only because the ones that had told her as much had been the pack themselves. But having seen full-blooded fiends now... she would not like to meet such gnolls without being able to put forth a display of great strength.

Not that such a thing had ever been a problem for Jeovanna. Her size and strength had more often than not been a hindrance before... but not down here. Not with her new pack. Even the fury had meaning down here. It brought a new perspective on a part of herself that she reviled.

Kravikus' horn was still in her pack, as were the bat skins, and she wondered- what greater display of strength was there than armor set with the horn of a slain demon?

Ah, but, all thoughts were vanity. The pack would survive this descent, but would they find anything that would help Kalair survive? Were they strong enough?

Perhaps it did not matter. They need only hunt.
 
Carthum's mind is also on the past, but his eyes still cut the darkness.

Late nights spent studying Suru's teachings from old tomes and older priests. He should have perhaps spent more time on theory than on crushing melons with his mace. Still, he retraces memories of training that are still quite fresh, as despite their perilous trip, he is still a young acolyte of the faith.

The symbols in the great temple- they were old runes, carefully painted into the shape of Suru's light.

He had been taught to stand true against demons, but were any of those tales told... could they have referred to the demons down here?

<History check for fun: 21>
 
Dain listened to the sounds of the sea. It made sense, actually. But had they come that far?

Creeping forward, he moved down the tunnel another ten feet.

He stopped and let his senses reach out.

<Passive perception 15>
 

97mg

Villager
The Carven Door

Metea’s newly crafted symbol sits happily alongside the originals, an excellent duplication of their style, form and size. As she then works on a transcription into her personal tome, Magaw moves closer to the wall, hovering in front of each in turn. At the last, on the right, he pauses.

“Oh…”

Something is tickling an old memory. The skull tilts sideways like a curious mind attached to an invisible neck. The Tiefling alone notices Magaw’s reaction, like he knows a little more than is currently being vocalized...

The dwarf gratefully accepts Otiroth’s offer of food, and moves towards him.

“Rough? You underestimate the power of me gut!” He slaps a hand against his once bulbous belly and grins. “I hunger for sunshine, family and peace. But for now, a well-done venison with a brushing of herbs, oh could you imagine?”

Miraculously, the dried meat tastes wonderful. The little jaw rips and chews at it greedily until he is about half way through. Then a deep look of anxiety and suspicion forms in his eyes.

“Too good to be true. Now, don’t get me wrong lad, but that can only be magic. Your group, you’re law-breakers aint ya? Question is, why are ya ere, and why did you help me? Don’t worry, I won’t dibbadob, owe yas me life, even if ya brought me outta hell into a new one.”

Carthum has plenty of time to rack his brain and think about hell, and demons. Such creatures have rarely formed part of Kalair’s recorded history. A few great spiritualists claim to have traveled between the planes over the ages, and witnessed such despicable creatures of blood, heat and death, but here on Marix soil? Yes, the existence of Tieflings is widely accepted, even though with a degree of hesitation. Perhaps some past transverser of planes became corrupted, or sealed a deal with members of their kind, and along the way two bloods become intertwined. As for full-blooded demonfolk at work within Marix’s underdark… the priest has grounds for concern! What they have witnessed thus far will be of immense interest to Suru’s higher order!

Enticed by the sounds of a faraway ocean, Dain has moved further into the dark. Shifting position, he can see that the passage turns right after another twenty feet or so, but so far there is no change to his perceptions. The familiar voices of his friends far behind and their trickle of light. Shadows and pitch-black mystery ahead. The slightest hiss of some distant sea...

 
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Metea

Villager
Metea's gaze has turned towards the gemstone above. If they cannot open the door, then surely sealing it is the next best step. "Magaw- do you know what happens if we break the stone? Will it prevent the gate from opening again?"

She was not too familiar with the properties of gemstones, obviously, but they looked so glasslike and pure- perhaps they would shatter?

The tiefling had raised one hand to try blasting it- her eldritch energy was more 'pain magic' than anything, but it might be able to affect a gemstone- but paused as the skull-face of Magaw seemed to look troubled. Well, insofar as he could wear expressions... without skin and all. "Are you alright? What's the matter? Magaw, please, anything you might know, even if it seems silly to you, will surely help!"
 
Carthum shifted in his armor- turned back towards the others as they continued to prod at the door. Yes, he had been listening!

"We cannot risk the door opening and allowing fiends to freely wander again, Metea," he said. "Is the gem a seal- or a power source?" Were they even demons beyond, or was it a key lock to great treasure? Could they risk treasure when the trap was yet another plague upon Kalair?

Perhaps he had been thinking about this the wrong way...

<Arcana check=20>
 

Otiroth

Villager
Otiroth grimaces at the dwarf. "Magic? Indeed. And if we hadn't, you'd still be stuck in a pillar of demon filth. Prospecting and mining in closed mines- that's also quite illegal, isn't it?" They were in the same boat, here. Very curious that the dwarf would try and get any kind of leverage.

The sorcerer stood once more. "We will take one more shot at this- then we should move on. Carthum is right- better to seal the door permanently on the off chance it could summon a demon," and he cast one hand forward at the rune of flames. If prestidigitation flames would not work- perhaps it needed to be more aggressive?

<Spellcasting- firebolt>
 

Jeovanna

Villager
Jeovanna was keeping her watch- then frowned, as if she sensed something... not quite right.

Turning back towards the others, she'd find mostly darkness beyond- she could not see that Dain had disappeared into the tunnel! In act, the torchlight may have more blinded her than anything.

The barbarian grimaced, licking her teeth for a moment, before turning back to watch. They should be moving on soon. Any gemstones taken by the demons would be long gone, she imagined.
 
Dain - The Carven Door

Dain frowned in the darkness, his mind spinning over and over as it tried to make sense of things. At the edge of his mind, a sensation was gnawing at him. An itch he needed to scratch, a tingle that demanded attention.

Is it nerves? Or is it you, Essithea? These caverns are barren and lifeless, so different than the moss-lined caves that are sacred to you, flowing with water from the roots of the earth. I am here searching…for gems, for sacred stones…and for my past. Maybe I search for too much at once?

The sound of the sea drew him forward again, into the tunnel beyond the small room. His newfound vision in the dark was still a novelty, still something that filled him with awe and wonder at the world and its many mysteries. His head turned around, and through the darkness he searched for the others. He recalled Annit's face, the curve of her neck and the shape of her collarbones, delicate and fine.

He resisted going back to check on the others, and instead continued on. He could hear them talking, Carthum's voice echoing across the chamber.

Once inside the second tunnel, he knelt down on one knee. The itch had become a sensation that could not be ignored. He put his sword across his shoulder and bowed his head. Taking a long and quiet breath inward, he let it out slowly, closing his eyes.

I seek to know…these twisting paths and carven halls…what souls do wander here?

He felt his awareness expanding, seeking out beyond him. His grip tightened on his sword.

<Primeval Awareness>
 

97mg

Villager
The Carven Door

“Break the gemstone?” Magaw repeats Metea’s idea to himself. “Such a pity that might be, it is beautiful is it not?” He floats up then to view the massive jewel more closely. “Whatever remains in these twisting passages and caves, is through Immel’s choice. As much as I’d wish to destroy this… it might not be particularly wise.”

Noting that the warlock has sensed some trepidation in his earlier mannerisms, he returns to the four symbols, and places himself again at the far right. “This one I have found in old memories. Ironic perhaps that it's meaning is for one trapped between life and death, the darkness of earth and the world above. This marking means undead… I am sure of it.”

He turns to face Metea then, asking, “shall I?”

Rotating back to the symbol he moves forwards, as if about to touch it with a dry boney forehead.

With his ears full of the distant ringings of theories and hypothesis, testing and wonder, Carthum could be onto something. The demon gate is closed. Is that something to risk tampering with? But what of the carved door? The arts of healing and protection are the half-orc’s gift, and magic symbols are widely used in both. Maybe whatever is behind this door was so worthy of protection, that four separate spells were cast upon it… or four things must be done to prove worthiness? Even back in the Church of Suru, there are tomes and artifacts out of reach for frontline clerics and priests. With knowledge and progress, comes further knowledge...

“Hey ho, not judging friend, just saying is all,” the dwarf responds to Otiroth. “To be honest, I’m mo’ comfortable in the presence of folks like you, than the Dolstian fools above. Yea, you’re right, I’m no saint. But I am in debt to ya.”

A projectile of flame bursts upon the sorcerer’s favorite symbol then, another test, but as the heat subsides and the bolt dissipates into oblivion, nothing has changed.

We got a symbol in the hills I seen once,” the dwarf mentions then. “Two sides of a triangle, with a circle in the middle, tis a racial thing. Hey, instead of cookin’ it, why don’t ya just finger it? And that gem, well hells! That be larger than Aunt Daint's left teat, or Baker Oddolf's apple pie! That my friends, has to come with us!”

Despite being devoid of fingers, Magaw is already on the same track. His noggin lightly bumps against his chosen glyph.

For a moment, the floating skull is suspended in a cone of ocean-blue light as the line and it's intersected dot glow.

“Oh, dazzling!”

Then, as the blue glow subsides a new illumination creeps in. The right edge of the carven door now leaks a shaft of pure, white light. Small particles of dust dance and weave within the beam, and cool air scented with salt begins to drift into the darkness.

The barbarian has been so patient letting all this unfold. Watching. Waiting. So far, nothing appears to threaten them, except the consequences of their own decisions and Magaw’s rub against the rock. So strange to be keeping company with a skull… then again, the gnolls would keep their hunting trophies on occasion too. A finger. A tooth. A head. So whose trophy was Magaw, she might wonder? And what might they do to get it back? Jeovanna would know that Magaw wasn’t skinned by some feral animal or pack of blood-hungry carnivores. No. The manner of this one’s death was less… natural, and complete.

Off in his own private patch of shadow, Dain is staring down a relatively straight section of tunnel as he meditates. So dark. So inhospitable. So infertile. Yet life abounds! Through the very stonework and it's airy gaps, below, above and on all sides, the ranger reaches out, an almost supernatural sense in search of sentience. The results are quite overwhelming.

The chaotic and mysterious signs of fey in abundance. Hints of fiendish folk both large and small. Natural creatures, such as the bats and spiders already witnessed, humans and other Kalarians among others as yet unseen. Undead, drifting throughout the space like souls lost in a midnight sky.

Four kinds of life.

Four symbols.

Four sides to a door.

Infinite ways to die.
 

Metea

Villager
"Fine, let's try it, and move on if it doesn't work," Metea replies. Magaw needing to have this information asked for, when he knew they were looking at it, was an irritant, but what could one do? The fact that he didn't get trapped by the gem was reason enough to try it herself, but the fact that it needed undead to touch it probably wasn't for the best, either.

Metea would try the fire symbol as well, since it seemed the most 'fiendish', but she could probably also try the others, if one was meant for her.
 

Otiroth

Villager
"Alright, then, dwarf. You try it," Otiroth says.

Otiroth would touch the corresponding glyph.

<Arcana check=22>
 

Jeovanna

Villager
Enough time has passed and the door remains unsolved. Jeovanna retrieves her torch and heads back to join the others, investigating the faint opening of the door with them.

"Does not smell like demons," she mutters. But how much did that mean? It was like trusting a poisonous frog to be orange instead of green.

<Wisdom/perception check-15>
 
Dain/Carthum - The Carven Door

Illumination! Devil's arse! If only my memory were so easily revealed to me!

Scrambling backwards after his mental sojourn, Dain rushed back into the main chamber. He was obviously excited about something. When he spoke, however, it was with a low and serious voice.

"I have had a vision. Four types of creatures. Fey...Fiends...the Natural...and the Unnatural." He scowled slightly at the mention of the final type. "These are who roam and wander here."

He realized shortly after that he was perhaps stating the obvious. But he was adamant with his newfound knowledge. Seeing that the great door was now revealing some secrets, he shook his head. "All sorts, obviously. Those symbols must be connected to my vision. I believe that to open that door is to invite death."

He gestured back towards the tunnel he had come from. "The sea is that way...and probably little else. We should try the tunnels on the other side."

*****************

Carthum listened to Dain, his skepticism more or less hidden. Then his attention went back to the door. The skull had done something. But was that something good?

But did they want to open that door? Were they ready for what was on the other side? His teachers had warned against foolish arrogance...

"We do not want to be party to the end of Kalair. That door was closed and sealed for a reason. It is arrogant to pry such a gateway open. That is not our quest..." He made eye contact with Metea.
 

97mg

Villager
The Carven Door

Reaching out and making contact with the symbol of a fire enshrouded being, Metea is bathed in subtle blue light, as is Otiroth as his youthful fingers grace the carving on the far left.

The sensation is a pleasant one, like a cloud of peace being dispersed around the magic-wielders, a feeling of calm and assurance flowing about you.

“Come to me, seekers of Immel’s grace.”


The words are whispered in their minds, the voice of a lady in a refined, aged and well-to-do tone.

“I am not alone,” Annit whispers under her breath within the darkness of her passageway. Movement. The sounds of small, light and careful footsteps. She waits, ready to pounce upon some unknown foe, but the cause of her worry is not visible to her eyes. Moments later, a shadow blocks the light of her colleagues from leaking down the shaft. Turning, the rouge watches as the silhouette of a small woman appears near the entrance to the great circular cave.

It is the pitchling girl. She appears as though from thin air before the team of young explorers, smiling and pleased to see you all once more.

“Walkers of the path of flames,” she says, “Immel will see you now.”

Slowly, she steps forwards in the direction of the symbol-locked door.

From her tunnel, Annit can be seen behind the new arrival, stood ready, an expression of curiosity on her face and a dagger gripped tight within her right hand. Slowly and hesitantly she slides it back within it's sheath.

Three sides of the carven door now cut the cave’s dim light with pure white, like a morning sun sneaking through the shutters of a window, into a home plagued by fiends, death and loss.
 

Metea

Villager
Metea frowned, pulling her hand back. But the sensation is not unpleasant... still, as she looks away... she looks to Carthum. His concern is not unjustified, but perhaps misnamed.

It wasn't a demon door, then, but a fey one?

"Sela!" Metea declared in greeting, but the pitchling was already continuing past them, to the door. So, here was the fey then, to open the door the rest of the way...

This was a secret Metea could not let walk away from them. She felt as refreshed as she ever could, even a short rest being enough to refresh her spell-casting ability... and they were stronger now than they were when they met Sela last.

One last glance towards the others- and Metea would follow the pitchling woman.
 

Otiroth

Villager
Fey could be just as dangerous as demons. Moreso, perhaps, for they could be capricious.

Perhaps it was no coincidence, either, that Sela had appeared now, after Dain's warning. The dragon sorcerer grimaces- dragons were dangerous as well, but less so in his current form- and he'd watch the pitchling interact with the door herself.

He would not let Metea out of his sight, though...
 

Jeovanna

Villager
Jeovanna's hand remains on the hilt of her sword- recent events have made her somewhat suspicious of everything happening down here. Of course, she doesn't draw her blade... not quite yet.

The barbarian blew her bangs out of her eyes, and shot a glance back towards Dain and Carthum. They will have to keep an eye on the mages, in case they get too... enthralled by what is happening here. In truth, Jeovanna might have felt better had she been able to put her blade in something. Since their meeting at the crossroads, though, they had been leading to this.

White fire... or just light.
 
Dain/Carthum - The Carven Door

Dain's sword switched back into a ready position when he saw the pitchling girl again. He watched her with narrowed eyes as she headed for the door. When the carved opening began to glow, he shook his head slowly.

We are reckless! This fey is a manipulator...

But this had been their decision. His eyes met Annit's for a brief moment, then flicked back to the pitchling.

Moving up near the fey, Dain made no pretense of friendship or ease. The blade of his sword turned slowly as he adjusted his grip. His position was clear: if something terrible came through the door, she would be the first fatality.

**************

Carthum joined Metea, his body and his shield positioned before her. Whatever happened, he would protect his sister first. "Suru watch over us." He said without hesitation or pretense.
 

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