Asleep on The Job

Adventure Log by Elios Add comments

After the loss of Oathbreaker, the party regrouped at the dungeon entrance to determine our next course of action. There, we were startled to find a young half-orc by the name of Traunk, who had apparently intended to join us on our expedition, but had overslept. When he awoke to find we had departed without him, he set out alone across the wilderness in hopes of catching us before, as he put it, he “missed all the action.”

The juxtaposition of his enthusiasm and our somber mood did not sit well with me, and I was inclined to return to Westhaven and see Oathbreaker laid to rest, but Arxaggus and Signore, who have both lost comrades in arms before, convinced me that we did a disservice to our friend’s memory if we did not continue on while we could.

Upon reentering Dragon’s Delve we turned west, down a staircase we had not previously explored. There we found another corpse, this one much older than any we’d encountered previously. John estimated the body had been there at least a year and, after he was positive the body was not possessed of some unholy magic that would cause it to animate, began looking for clues as to the bodies origin. Having had my share of death for one day, I decided to closer inspect the frescoes adorning the walls.

Of all of my studies, I would have chosen my time studying fine art as the least likely to impact my newfound career as an adventurer. Surprisingly, I would have been wrong.

While studying art history at His Majesty’s academy, I learned that folk wisdom has it that equestrian statues contain a code whereby the rider’s fate can be determined by noting how many hooves the horse has raised. The most common theory has it that if one hoof is raised, the rider was wounded in battle; two raised hooves, death in battle; all four hooves on the ground, the rider survived all battles unharmed. While this so called “Rider’s Code” was easily disproven, the concept of hidden codes in art fascinated me, and as a child I spent many hours looking for patterns in the works of my favorite artists.

It seems I unconsciously applied a similar type of analysis to the work before me. Though somewhat amateurish, the artwork was quite elaborate – depicting humans riding, running along with, or chasing horses. There were even a few winged horses being ridden through sky. Naturally my eyes were drawn to the position of the horses’ legs, and almost immediately I noticed that the position of the legs in one group of horses appeared to spell out the word “gray” in elven. Dismissing it as mere happenstance, I was struck almost immediately when I discovered the word “between” cleverly depicted in the legs of another group.

I called out to John, showing him my discovery, and the two of us quickly set out to find all the text hidden in the artwork. After a number of minutes, and an embarrassing verb conjugation error on my part, John and I were able to derive the following message:

The gray lies between the black and the white. The shadow lies between the dark and the light.

There was no indication as to what the message referred to, and though I longed for more time to search for further clues, Arxaggus declared our search over and kicked open a rotted door to the south. As the light from Ham’s sunrod spilled past the dwarf’s stocky frame, I froze at the sight before me, certain we were all about to meet our doom. Turning to face us was a creature who’s very name instills terror in the most seasoned and powerful adventurers – a beholder!

The monstrous aberration closed its largest eye as a green ray shot forward from one of its flexible eyestalks, and our fate would certainly have been sealed were the beam not dissipated by a near invisible cylinder of glass (unquestionably of magical origin) that surrounded the creature. If it is possible for the toothy maw on an eye tyrant to form a smile, I would swear the vile creature grinned in amusement at our horror as it descended down through a hole in the floor.

Upon closer inspection, the cylinder of magical glass seemed to create a tunnel down into the depths of Dragon’s Delve, though how far it extends, we could not begin to determine. I would have liked more time to further inspect the room, but Arxaggus, Signore, & Traunk all recognized this fact and moved forward through another door to the south before I could protest.

As John scouted ahead of the party, he shouted aloud as he entered a small side chamber and was immediately enveloped in blue lightning from all directions. The smell of ozone filled the corridor, and I feared some magical trap may have cost us another companion, but John remained upright, apparently surviving the ordeal completely unscathed. It was only later that we discovered the magical scroll he carried had been completely erased by the room’s magic.

The “Blue Room,” as Ham so named it, held two crude wooden statues. Searching them revealed no secrets or valuables to speak of, and aside from the unusually poor condition of the floor and tile, there appeared to be nothing of interest that would warrant magical protection.

The room adjacent was adorned with four banners along the south wall, each with a unique symbol. While I was unfamiliar with these particular symbols, their composition struck me as decidedly similar to sigils I have seen used to represent the four elements – Earth, Air, Water, and Fire – in certain older dialects of elven (the symbols themselves are most likely adaptations from draconic, though some have argued their origins lie in the celestial tongue).

Standing before these banners were two pedestals, each with a small inscription. The first read “Pieces of your brief earthly existence,” atop which we found the torn hem of a cloak, a quill pen, a pipe for smoking, and a small leather pouch containing dust. The second pedestal read “To bring myself closer to your essence.” This pedestal held a slightly tattered scroll, a finely crafted dagger bearing one of the four symbols on the banner (the one I believe corresponds to “Earth”), a silver comb, and three sticks of incense with a copper incense burner.

John and I both inspected the pedestals for traps, and were confident the items were safe for closer inspection, but upon reaching for the dagger on the second pedestal, I found myself overwhelmed with an instant drowsiness I could not escape. In my mind I fought a loosing battle to keep my eyes open, then, as I felt my legs collapse from under me, I struggled desperately to move my arms to brace my fall, but the sorcery affecting me was irresistible – I was in a deep slumber before I even struck the ground.

I am told by Arxaggus that he and the rest of the party grew bored while John and I inspected the pedestals, and though he claims he told one of us they were continuing on during our investigation, I’ve a feeling they simply moved on while we were engrossed in thought. Regardless, only John was there to witness my collapse. Unfortunately, he has been unable to clearly recall the event after that moment, as he was also struck by a magical defense which fogged his thinking and slowed his wits.

John recalls carrying me out of the dungeon, and complaints from Wrenly that his bow was taken by a women (something I need to inquire further upon), but little else of his recollections make much sense. Luckily the priests at the temple were capable of removing the curses that had beset us without much trouble.

I fear my old world colleagues may be right – although Dragon’s Delve nearly claimed my life twice in this one visit, I find that I am as enthusiastic as a child before holiday at the thought of returning – I must be crazy.

Tonight's Cast:
John "Doc" Smith, Human Thief / Dedicate - Mat
Captain Arxaggus "Ox" Dunnbuldanngen, Dwarven Myrmidon - Tristan
Signore, Human Berserker - Keith
Ham, Human Harrier - Scotland
Traunk, Half-Orc Armiger - Eric
Wrenly "The Clever", Human Harrier - Mike
Elios "The Cat", Human Hunter / Man-at-Arms - Paul
- Connar
DM - Russ
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