This is How One Crits a Puzzle

Adventure Log by Arxaggus Add comments

Having finally gained a rough knowledge of what surrounds Westhaven, we decided to return to (somewhat) familiar ground: the vast underground network of treasure- and danger-filled hallways known as Dragon’s Delve.

Returning with us was Elios, that skinny human wannabe-loremaster.  I swear that guy doesn’t eat enough.  The slightest breeze sends him into a shiver.  Regardless, his knowledge of what we find in the Delve is valuable enough for the rest of us to babysit him, so we brought him along.

The road south was uneventful, as it generally is.  Upon reaching our signposts, we were surprised to discover new chalk marks upon them.  We suddenly realized we weren’t the only adventurers out here.  Indeed, evening talk at the Hob increasingly involves rumors of unspeakable treasure outside the walls.  It seems our little band has inspired copycats.  All the better, really; we can’t tame the wilderness by ourselves.

Arriving at the entrance to the Delve, we encountered…allies, an entirely unexpected occurrence.  Two thoroughly beat up figures emerged from the entrance, carrying a third party member, clearly deceased.  They introduced themselves as Kirk the human and Jim the half-elf, and their friend, now naught more than bones.  Perhaps carving a map into a table at the Hob wasn’t such a good idea; these three had the idea of setting out for themselves in search of riches, and it got one of them killed.  They warned us of goblins down in the corridors, and indeed, we heard guttural voices and footsteps retreating into the blackness.

Traunk and I prepared to charge in after them to avenge the death of our countryman, but Elios, ever the cautious one, insisted we descend quietly down the stairwell.  I argued with him, but he would have none of it.  Frowning, I took a step…

*thunk*

Me mailed boot hit the first step.

*clink*

Me shoulderplates rattled against me breastplate.  This wasn’t working.  I looked back at Elios.  He scowled, then proceeded to trip over the first step and fall the entire way down, landing at the bottom with a great thud and a loud cry.  Fortunately for him, nothing was there to greet him.  We bade Kirk and Jim farewell, and turned our attentions fully to what lay ahead.

Glancing to our right, we noticed that the well to the moon goddess was once again filled with water.  We realized the shrine’s activity must be related to the phase of the moon, currently a week or so away from full.  I also had a disturbing thought: if the shrine had logical activity, it would make sense that only an evil moon deity would command undead minions…

However, it was only a bit of intrigue, as our attentions were to fully explore the hallway heading left at the entrance.  We found the hallway with the dancing horses and the statue room just as we had left it.  Elios set about examining each statue.  The rest of us set up a defensive position in the hallways.  I don’t know what the man did, but one moment I was glancing around a corner, and in the next I’m glancing back as Elios is chomped nearly to death by a suddenly summoned giant crocodile!  Meatwad the half-elf, yet another new recruit, and I desperately tended to him with healing potions as the rest of the party engaged the beast.  It was likely the strongest creature we’ve fought to date; it’s giant maw was powerful enough to drop even meself or Traunk in only a few bites.  Wrenly also collapsed under the weight of its teeth, but several well-placed blows from the party were able to defeat it.  It’s corpse vanished into nothingness, much in the same manner it had materialized only a few seconds earlier.

Elios, conscious once more, returned to his studying ways, furiously scribbling notes.  He discovered a book that described in detail the nature of the Delve and what manner of creature inhabits it, or used to inhabit it.  The author of said tome was some sorceress whose name I can’t pronounce.  It seems she had a study somewhere down there.

The first statue’s inspection complete, he moved on to the next.  Realizing this one had moveable arms, he went about positioning them as the rest of us looked on in alarm.  Wrenly branded him Elios the Cat; his curiosity will surely kill him soon enough.  Sure enough, yet another crocodile is summoned on top of us.  This one, though, seemed smaller, and proved to be less of a threat than its larger predecessor.

We safely progressed through the room of lightning and soon enough discovered a hidden door.  It led to a well-furnished domicile containing a fancy chair and a bookcase protected behind a thick pane of glass.  The rest of us sat down to relax for a few minutes while Elios went about figuring out how to open the glass and reach the old tomes inside.  A puzzle of some sort seemed to be the opening mechanism; there were a row of twelve brightly colored wooden pegs with letters written on their undersides, spelling out “evil to good.”

As I relaxed in the very nice chair, I suddenly had an epiphany, brought on by Elios reading aloud the clues we had discovered a few weeks prior:

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

This entire place was called Dragon’s Delve, right?  Well, there are five colors each of evil and good dragons, and with two extra colors that’d make a dozen, the same number of pegs.  I went about arranging the colored pegs in order according to the strength of each colored dragon species, using the two clues for the extra pegs which didn’t match a dragon type.  Lo and behold, Elios and I solved the puzzle on the first try, and the glass pane slid neatly out of the way, revealing the treasure trove behind it.

We came across yet another secret passage.  Upon opening the door, I was greeted by a small swarm of skittering demons, called Dretch by Elios.  The little buggers immediately put me into a state of magical fear.  I fled down the passages and towards the exit as fast as me long legs could carry me.  Speeding past me was Wrenly; he too was affected.  The fright didn’t last longer than a few seconds.  Once it had worn off, I turned about and ran back down the corridors, eager to rejoin me embattled mates.  On the way back, Wrenly again sped past me, informing me that our horses that we left topside were missing and had likely been stolen.

Wrenly gave one of the demons a solid hit with the flat of his blade; the beast flopped to the ground, very unconscious.  Traunk felled one with a single blow from his double-headed axe.  The remaining ones expelled a terribly foul gas.  Ham and Wrenly lost their lunches.  Once their tricks were used up, however, the demons were no longer a threat.

Thinking through the logistics of our loot, we realized we needed multiple trips to haul everything back to the city.  We decided to split up.  Traunk, Wrenly, and Ham returned to Westhaven to purchase a wagon sturdy enough to haul the hundred or so books and the extremely weighty ivory-and-copper triptych we discovered.  Elios, Meatwad, and I decided to make camp at the river crossing and wait for their return.  That night, both groups were beset by monsters.

Elios needed rest, that much was certain.  I opted to stay on watch the entire night, not wanting to be caught without me armor again.  To me surprise, the half-elf also chose to stay awake, earning himself a token of respect in the process.  We were attacked by what Elios later called Spitting Fel Drakes, dragonkin of some kind.  Elios mostly slept but did wake up long enough to attempt to rouse us with song.  Meatwad and I flanked one beast and killed it almost immediately.  The other spit and burned the lad with its acidic saliva, then cut him up a bit with its claws, rendering him unconscious.  I finished the second, then Elios and I tended to Meatwad’s wounds.

The other group joined up with us shortly after dawn.  Traunk appeared heavily wounded; they informed us they were attacked by some manner of demented ogre, but luckily managed to destroy the beast.

We loaded up our cargo and safely returned home.

Tonight's Cast:
Captain Arxaggus "Ox" Dunnbuldanngen, Dwarven Myrmidon - Tristan
Ham, Human Harrier - Scotland
Traunk, Half-Orc Armiger - Eric
Wrenly "The Clever", Human Harrier - Mike
Meatwad "Phyllis", Half-Elf Executioner - Connar
Elios "The Cat", Human Hunter / Man-at-Arms - Paul
DM - Russ
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