Entering the Shrine
The mists disappate immediately after entering through the torii gate. A large circular cave is set with 10 torches, each evenly set along the walls A set of ruined stones forms an altar on the far side, opposite the entrance. Two small candles burn perpetually at either end of the altar, next to two small offering bowls..
The chamber appears to be well kept. Paintings of dragons of all colors in the skies, while mythical races like Nymphs
work the fields and the mountains underneath. The landscape looks like any you would find in the Dragonshome Islands
, with blue seas, giving way to fields of grain, then rolling hills and low lying mountains. The images have a hazy dream like quality to them.
But it's apparent that others have been here. Scratches at the wall, markings on the floor seem to indicate that it's been thoroughly searched looking perhaps for a nook, or false stone.
The altar itself looks to have been desecrated, with a large symbol of Dieu carved onto one of its stones. The offering bowls on top of the altar appears to have dried blood.
Magnus mutters, "This is the false Dieu."
Vulcan and the others investigate the room. Cille notes the similarity between this and some of the Elder (Goliath) altars. The room appears to have been created by either magic, or a tremendously skilled craftsman. Cille and Ajax investigate a seam that might be part of a trap door, but can find no discernable means of triggering it.
The group agrees to try placing the blood of Magnus and Ianthe into the bowls.
As Magnus drips the blood into the bowl, Ianthe yells out a scream. "What? It was tense!" She then steps over and drips the blood into the second bowl. Day begins to break as the blood splashes against the bowl. A slight flash of light, and the floor to the chamber disappears, revealing a dark stairwell leading down.
Caverns of Riches
Magnus attempts to remove one of the torches, but declines to force it. The group begins to head down the dark stairwell.
The descent from the shrine is narrow, approximately five feet across with low ceilings. The walls are slightly damp, and the sounds of dripping water can be heard throughout. There is no natural illumination once the shrine door slides shut, nor any place for torches or other artificial means of light.
The southern most entry at the top of the stairs exits into the Eleusis shrine. The stairs open into a larger cavern at the bottom of the half kilometer descent.
A larger chamber opens up at the end of the stairs. The room is rough walls with high natural ceilings. A quick scan of the room reveals several tunnels leading out to the north, east and southwest, as well as the long stairwell leading up to the south.
Signs of a recent battle appear here, with trails of blood from what appear to have been bodies dragged off to the southwest. The broken remains of a stone golem lie in the center of the room. No bodies can be found, and all is quiet.
Myconid Melding Cave
The large cavern is covered in all manners of fungus and moss, and the area is filled with clouds of spores. The walls and 20 foot high ceiling are covered with thick moss. The earthen floor gives rise to a forest of fungi, including barrelstalks, timmasks, tongues of madness, and trillimacs (see “Fungi”). Two conspicuous rings of large mushrooms form a ring in the centre of the chamber.
Six giant centipedes and four giant fire beetles are meandering among the fungi.
Traces of blood can be seen along the floor leading to the east passage.
The room opens to a small chamber to the southeast.
As the group works their way through the circle, they come into contact with communcation spores.
First Cille and then Otlyn begin to communicate the Myconids. They describe themselves as being from outside.
When the group indicates that they might be in danger, they respond "From the rock monster?" Confused, the group is led to the Myconid Soveriegn.
The cave floor slopes upward, reducing its height from 15 feet near the entrance to 10 feet at its north end. Exotic mushrooms sprout from the earthen floor. The walls are lined with ripplebark (see “Fungi”).
A 9-foot-tall myconid sovereign stands near the back of the cave. Its bioluminescent cap sheds bright light in a 10-foot radius and dim light for an additional 10 feet.
Upon seeing the sovereign, Astor begins to break. Magnus pulls him back and helps to calm him down.
Floot, the sovereign, introduces himself. Otlyn does as well. Several smaller myconids begin to surround the party. Magnus, continues to calm Astor, who appears as if he's going to bolt. Several of the smaller myconids begin to climb up onto Otlyn, who's loving the attention.
Otlyn asks whether any others similar to them have come through?
"Hmmm. Thinking." responds Floot. After a burst of spores, Floot continues, "We were in the dreaming. Yesterday however, others... came... to end. Serve now."
Otlyn asks about dragon scions.
Floot thinks. "Huge Lizard?"
Otlyn responds, "Yes, big lizards!"
Floot responds. "They are all over." And an image of flying dragons appears in her head. "Some visit. And then there are little dragons. We can take you."
Otlyn pauses. "Are they friends?"
"We give them things. They bring themselves when they are done. They'd like you." The concept of different tribes, on good terms and trading partners.
As Otlyn smiles, Floot turns to Cille. "For you."
She takes two clay gourds from the Soveriegn.
"Fix! Heal!" says one of the small Myconids on Otlyn's shoulder.
The group continues to talk to the soveriegn, and if asked if there's anything that they can do to help they discuss the rock monster.
The group heads out of the soveriegn's room. In an alcove off to the right, three human and one hobgoblin bodies are stacked. Fungus covers them. Their guide notes "They're done."
Otlyn looks over and tugs on Magnus. "So done."
Magnus exchanges a few words with Otlyn who nods. He heads over to investigate the bodies. They appear to be mid-ranked level nights. The bodies all show heavy bludgeoning damage. The helmet of one of the knights completely caved in.
As Magnus asks about the rock monster, one of the small friends on Otlyn's shoulder generates feelings of panic and terror. She soothes them.
A heated discussion breaks out as to whether to pursue the church
invaders or defeat the rock monster. Hermione, Otlyn and Vulcan scout forward. When Hermione returns, she describes an old Myconid cave that is currently uninhabited, as well as an old mine.
Over Otlyn's objection, Magnus insists the first priority is to find the church invaders. The group has a discussion, but Magnus remains firm. Magnus assures Otlyn they will return to defeat the rock monster.
Magnus continues to drone on about invaders, which confuses the Myconids. The Myconids view the invader as the Rock Monster. Reluctantly, they guide the group further north towards the "Little Dragons."
Finally, Cille shrugs and begins to move north. The group reluctantly continues and follows the Myconids.
The small passages prove difficult for Cille to navigate, banging against the close walls and low ceilings.
The passage opens up into an enormous cavern, with a 200-foot-high ceiling dotted with stalactites 10 to 15 feet long. The room is lit by a bright blue-white light at the peak of a 120-foot-tall stalagmite.
A 60-foot-long stalactite hangs directly above the stalagmite tower, its tip 10 feet above the brightly glowing stone.
The cavern floor is relatively level and worn from heavy use. It is dotted with stalagmites 10 to 15 feet high.
The group looks out to see a mix of sleeping and working lizard like humanoids
. It appears that the main cavern is at least one complete tribe, of up to 150 creatures, of what appear to be Kobolds.
Cille, who recognizes the creatures, shares a bit of background on the creatures with the group.
Magnus calms Astor and the group reinforces to him "They will not harm us if we do not provoke them."
The myconid accompanying the group nods in a sage way and points to the tower. He says "Big lizard!" And then he gestures around the cave. "And little lizards."
CIlle grins at the phrase "Big lizard!" and turns to Magnus and Ianthe. "Let's get you to the big lizard then."
As the group begins to move towards the tower, Astor is asked one more time about the group that came through.
Astor recounts what he shared as he was revived. Otlyn inquires what the prisoner looked like.
"Tall, silver hair, old..."
The group cries out at the same time. "Phlios?"
Ianthe moves and pins Astor to the wall. "Where?!"
The group calms Ianthe and releases Astor from her grasp. "Easy. We'll find him."
After more discussion the group debates move west along the cavern wall without waiting the kobold lizards versus an introduction. Cille breaks the tie, asking the myconid for the introduction.
A Kobold, carrying a load of laundry stops and begins interacting without words with the Myconid. The Kobold turns to the group and begins to speak in a language that the group doesn't understand.
Otlyn mutters a spell to understand the language. The Kobold explains how this is the first time that the Myconids have brought outsiders to them. He goes to get the tribe's elders.
As the Kobold departs, Cille comments to Magnus that these could be Allies. "They know the caves better than us."
Magnus nods. "Agreed. I think we can work under the assumption that the church leaders are here to kill a big lizard."
After about 15 minutes, approximately 10 kobolds approach. They appear a bit bigger and a bit more "grizzled." These wear strings of many teeth around their necks.
Otlyn hears in the strange language. "Are these the ones from outside?"
After the smaller Kobold nods, the Kobold with the largest string of teeth asks in broken Drákonic
. "Are you with those who broke the stone guardians?"
Magnus responds. "No."
What the group presumes is the elder looks around behind Magnus at Astor. Placing a hand on Astor's arm Magnus continues. "This one is with us. He is ok."
The group looks suspicious. The elder again speaks. "So what do you want?"
Cille responds. "We are pursuing those who destroyed the stone guardian."
The elder considers. "Perhaps you can ask Asími
." He gestures to wards the tower.
Otlyn mutters to herself in her own language, "Oh shit, we found the dragon..."
Cille continues, "Could you introduce us?"
The elder shakes his head. "No. Asimi... is... grumpy. We don't disturb his study. But we will take you to the door."
Cille considers. "Thank you. If Asimi won't help us, can one of your people guide us?"
The elder considers. "Speak with Asimi first."
The group is led to the stalagmite tower. The tip of the giant stalagmite at the center of area 13a is pierced by a large hole. Set within this hole is a 10-foot-diameter, circular lozenge of translucent white crystal called the Runestone. The crystal radiates bright blue-white light in a 120-foot radius and dim light for an additional 120 feet.
The stalagmite tower at the center of the main cavern is 120 feet tall and has chambers hollowed out of the lower two-thirds of its height. Those hollowed-out areas have 3-foot-thick outer walls, 2-foot-thick inner walls, and 3-foot-thick floors, all hewn from solid rock. All ceilings in the tower are 20 feet high.
A large door is carved into the eastern side of the stalagminte.
Runes are carved into the door. Otlyn inspects the runes and comments "I can't read them, but they do appear to be trying to keep something in, not out."
Cille knocks at the door. No answer.
After several moments, Cille tries the door and finds it locked.
Vulcan casually strolls up and with a few deft movements, the group hears the lock click open.
Cille opens the door and enters, with Vulcan, Otlyn, Magnus and Ianthe enter the building. Hermione, Eunice, Ajax and Astor remain outside the tower.
Inside the tower, The interrior of the outward facing door is covered a bas-relief sculpture of a dragon with black saphires in each eye socket. Closer inspection by Vulcan shows a tiny red-black spider carved into each one.
Cille grabs Vulcan's shoulder. "Don't. Touch. Anything."
With that, she opens the door and enters the next room.
The Animated Staff]
Waxed candles in holders light the room. In the center of the room is a board with figurines that appears to be a game in progress. Floating next to the table is a five foot long staff made of ice.
Cille glances around the room, and moves towards the next door.
The staff moves to block the way.
"Are you Asimi?" Otlyn shakes her head. "It's been a long day."
The staff moves side to side.
Otlyn asks, "Is that a yes?"
The staff repeats the movements.
Otlyn asks, "Can you show me a yes?"
The staff leans forwards and backwards.
Cille, becoming irritated asks the staff if they can see Asimi whoever "he, she, it is? Can you let us through?"
Magnus looking around spots the board. "Is there a way to talk to Asimi?"
The staff leans forward and backwards.
Magnus considers. "Must we play game to see Asimi?"
The staff shakes as if laughing. It looks at the board, and then at the group. In perfect Drákonic, "Depends. Can you win?"
Otlyn considers the board and then the staff. "You're going to lose!" She looks at the board and then shows the staff a series of moves.
It looks at Otlyn, then Ianthe, then the board. With another shake it says "No shit."
Otlyn asks "Is she awake?" The staff makes the laughing movement again and then steps aside to allow them to pass. The door unlocks and swings partly open.
The group steps into the dusty, cobweb-filled room. Stacks of books line the desk and the floor, and bookshelves are filled with scrolls, tomes and other materials.
On the desk is a large, open tome. A writing instrument lies besides it.
Otlyn slides over and looks at the tome. It appears to be Asími
Magnus joins her and reads the open pages. From that he is able to interpret that it is someone seeking to cure a disease, with a level of "compulsive" quality to the writing.
The remaining books are in many different languages. Each are from self-proclaimed experts in the nature, treatment and cures for maladies of the mind / consciousness.
While the group reviews the room, Cille continues up the stairs.
Statue at the top of the Alcove
As Cille reaches the top of the stairs she is confronted with a life size statue of a beautiful woman sketching. The statue is so well done it creates the illusion of movement.
Otlyn notices the resemblance to Ianthe, just as Ianthe begins her way up the stairwell. As Ianthe rounds the stairwell, Magnus is taken aback. He is struck by a vision that it is what Ianthe will look like in 5-6 years.
Ianthe stops, speechless. The expressions of anger, sadness, loss and disbelief flash quickly across her face.
Suddenly many separate conversations between Ianthe and the group of students come into focus. This woman must be Ianessa Meletitís
, Ianthe's mother who took her own life when Ianthe was an infant. The rumor of the artist, with the perfect man who no one had met, start to coalesce. With Ianessa's pregancy becoming apparent her family became more strident and aggressive. Ianessa continued to withdrawl and stories tell of her rejecting Ianthe at birth.
Cille places an hand on Ianthe's elbow. "Ianthe, we must continue." She opens the next door and steps through.
A Mirror on themselves
As the group enters the room, Cille avoids making eye contact with the mirror and propels Ianthe along with her.
Mounted on the south wall 6 inches above the floor is a 3-foot-wide, 9-foot-tall rectangular mirror with a stone frame. Carved into the top of the frame is a human-sized eyeball.
As Otlyn pauses to investigate the mirror, she feels a small drain or focus of magical energy. The mirror however doesn't reflect the room they are in. Rather it depicts an antechamber where people would gather. It's naggingly familiar, as if they've been there before.
Vulcan walks up next to Otlyn and recognizes the scene as part of the Meletitís Family
. He dashes down the stairs back to the group left behind. He asks Eunice to send a message to Crethon
asking him to go into the antechamber from Vulcan. Thanking her, he dashes back up to the room as Eunice sends the message.
As Vulcan returns he shares his request with the group. Ianthe, hearing this spins and watches the mirror. As he relays this, a very confused Crethon steps into the room, and walks around. Shocked, the group calls out to Crethon, but with no effect. A silence falls amongst them as they watch him leave the room.
Cille, in the next room already beckons for the group to join her. Ianthe, now seething, follows Cille up the stairs to a landing lit by a candle. Cille and Ianthe, moving quickly, throw open the door to the next room.
They emerge into a room is filled with a working table, what appear to be reagents and a bowl of crystals. Not slowing, they continue into the next room.
The Magic Circle
Both are pulled up short as a large magic circle carved in the floor. After a brief investigation it appears to be a masterpeice, and the group guesses that it is used to bind beings in place.
Cille and Ianthe move on while the group carefully skirts the circle and opens the door to the adjoining room. It is a small room with no obvious exits other than the way they enter.
A shallow alcove holds a six foot tall painted statue of the older version of Ianthe with a handsome male human. Clutched in the hands of the male is a leatherbound tome.
Otlyn nudges over and touches the book. She pulls it out and begins to leaf through, recognizing it as a spellbook.
Vulcan casts a spell to detect magic and confirms the book is magic, but nothing else of note.
Cille paces, becoming more agitated.
Otlyn remains engrossed in the book.
Vulcan continues to search the room and notices a large stone plug in the ceiling. As he points it out Cille growls and gives it a shove. Magnus joins her. Vulcan eyes it and casts a spell, at which the plug suddenly slides open.
A voice shouts from above "What the fuck?!"
The man depicted in the statue drops through the opening as Vulcan prepares to sprint in.
"You come into my house, you..." he pauses as he stares at Otlyn. "You read my book?!" He turns with a flustered gesture and spots Ianthe peeking out from behind a Magnus with aggressively crossed arm.
Magnus glares. "You. Have some explaining to do."
Asimi ignores Magnus and then begins to tear up. "How?"
After a brief pause, Cille whispers "You were locked in here, weren't you."
Vulcan snarls "Can you explain the spying us."
"Silence" responds Asimi with a gesture. Suddenly the Tabaxi goes quiet. Petulantly, he tosses a dagger and then recalls it.
Asimi ignores the rest of the group, focused on Ianthe.
Ianthe sits behind Magnus, staring.
Otlyn uses the moment and continues to flip through the book.
Magnus reaches around and gives her a bit of a hug tot he shoulders.
With that Asimi smiles and sighs.
After a long pause Asimi says "Would you like to meet your mother?"
Ianthe just... crumples.
"Is she locked in here too?" asks Cille.
Asimi levitates back up into the room and beckons. "Come."
Cille gives her a boost, along with the others and then with a bit of help from Magnus, pulls herself up.
Asimi sits beside Ianessa, laid out on a silver bed and surrounded by soft pillows. Ianthe stands close by quietly staring.
The group is stuck by a vision of him sitting beside his sleeping wife, telling her about Ianthe's life, flashes through the group.