Continuing on Jeff's Mini...
We still need to investigate the other side of the temple. Hextor's side.
The door isn't locked, and Nera Fionn kicks it open. It clangs as it hits the wall.
The room is large, and a symbol about fifteen feet wide is engraved in the center of the room, with sinister looking designs.
At the far end of the room three statues stand at rest, each with a different weapon: a sword, an axe, and a mace.
A blood trail leads from the circle, to the wall, where the body of a dwarf lays.
Earl, the mercenary, lets out a cry of surprise. It's his captain.
The rest of us step into the room, and we can feel a presence. It feels wrong to me. Hextor does not get along well with my god, Heironeous. In fact, he doesn't just not get along well, but they're brothers. This room is filled with evil.
Andry is familiar with constructs, and she spots the telltale signs that the statues have some sort of limited movement in the arms.
Earl drags the corpse outside, and a pouch falls out of the dead dwarf's hands. Andry picks it up, and finds some gold and a letter, written in common, from Baroness Amberdine to Captain Stonefire. It tells Stonefire that his mission is to recover the stone from the tower. He has a week, or his sister dies.
After investigating the room a little more, we apprehensively jump into the circle, and nearly instantly find ourselves in a battlefield.
There's a group of orcs, a small watchtower, and a large ogre, and voice fills us, demanding we show our worth.
I challenge the orcs, and they answer our challenge.
We kill them, without too much trouble. Andry does get thrown from the watchtower, but Nera has her back and throws the orc who punted her off down after her.
The scene disappears, and we find ourselves back in the room. The statue with the sword's arms move, crossing themselves.
Two more fights, it seems.
We jump back into the circle, and find ourselves on a large flat rock, which seems to drop off into nothingness.
In front of us is a cave, and a stone giant emerges from it.
He's not happy to see us. In fact, he looks pretty hostile.
It's soon dead, especially after Nera fells it with a mighty blow.
We spend a while resting.
Andry is on watch, she wakes us up. A large four legged creature is emerging from the fog, with a large bony frill and three horns pointing out from its head. Triceratops.
It charges me, and hits me with its horn. It tries to throw me, but I manage to disengage myself from it. Nera is feeling pretty angry at it at his point, but it seems to be ignoring his and Andry's biting attacks, as it continues inflict me with its horn again and again. Finally, we finish it off.
It's morning. I feel a little sore, but otherwise I am in good shape. We tell Earl to keep an eye out.
We go into the circle again, and we hear words of wisdom.
But these words, they're not wise. They're the words of an evil god that would wish to lead those who heed them astray.
"You must show strength not only body, but also in spirit. You must exert your will on the week."
We're surrounded by a dozen orcs, who are running forward with us. Ahead, is a helpless village.
We slaughter the orcs. For baby! Hextor is not pleased by this, but I enjoy the irony. We hear his fury threatening to destroy us, but we are saved by the will of Heironeous, which fills me.
We soon find ourselves back in the room with the circle and the three statues. The statue with the axe in hand crumbles.
I feel a warm object in my hand. It's a stone, glowing with righteous valor. We return to the beginning room, and like the stone put on the side of the statue of Fharlanghn, we put the stone we retrieved from Hextor's side on hand of Hextor's side of the statue.
But it's not Hextor's stone. It's his brother, who he hates so, and his side of the statue melts.
The statue then rises into the ceiling, revealing a stairway leading up. A bright light shines down from the newly revealed hole.
We go up the stairs, and we find ourselves above the temple.
Except, there is no fog, and this does not look like the temple exterior. It's bright and sunny and there is strong evidence of fancy Elven influence in the architecture here.
There's a table set up. One one side sits a man wearing travel stained clothing. On the other side, is a chair with only an evil looking helmet sitting on a chair.
Fharlanghn turns to us, and tells us he had a bet with Hextor. This temple was built long ago. Their view of the world changed and did not agree. He gestures at a door, there was one final keystone (which opens and closes the portals we came through), which you will find there. The doorway is arched, and the door is made of oak. It has a circular brass knob, and the hinges match the knob. Jess is finally satisfied by the door's description, although she could keep asking... There's not really any point. He says as soon as we take the keystone, the temple will have served its purpose, and will return to the earth.
With Fharlanghn's blessing, we take the treasure and the keystone and go. There's quite a bit of it actually...
We collect Earl and return the way we came. Across the ferry, hook a right back to the map.
We reach the ziggurat, and find a carrion crawler hitched up. It hisses at Nera, and Nera hisses back. They have a secret language. It does not attack us though, and we leave it be.
After going through the portal, we close it behind us.
We decide we should head to Beligard, the capital of the barony, where our Knight-Captain is. We've only met him once, and let's just say Eric Stonebreaker is a rambunctious fellow.
As we leave the tower we see a figure wearing a cloak of purple grass gathering some mushrooms.
I greet the fellow, who turns and yelps, dropping the contents of his pouches on the ground.
He resembles the ferryman, but instead of having transparent jars, has metal casings. Like the ferryman, his face is made of metal, and he has metal feet and metal hands.
He prostrates himself before us. His name is Opex and he hopes he has no offended us with his curiosity.
We talk with him. He is curious about these lands, and finds our composition unusual. He's an Escarian. We ask about the collapse, and he says his people try to go to our land to spread their knowledge, and they try to save us by putting him in these bodies.
He mentions his masters, and also Hexen, which is an old fortress guarded by Whom, ancient one.
He also reveals that he has a keystone too, so is not bothered by the portal being closed. His masters are Escarian like him, and have keystones, but their minds are not sound, and they are responsible for the fog we saw.
Before he parts ways with us, he shows us his skill in healing.
We stop at Myremoore, and we put the villager's minds at ease. We give Grelin the sacs we had collected, and she gives us some gel and potions in return.
Elder Arragen also has a message for us. Captain Stonebreaker wants to see us.
We leave immediately.
Beligard is a small city, and has a Hall of Arcadia like ours, but a little bigger.
We go to the hall, and we find Marla Catchcobble. She hasn't a hair on her head, and she's in the same exact position we had last seen her in, years ago.
Nera can't resist bothering her, and she tells us Stonebreaker is at the tavern, as usual, especially being the sun has already set.
So, we go to the Yak and the Maiden, which is probably the most popular tavern in town.
There's a brawl going on, and unsurprisingly Stonebreaker is at the middle of it. He kicks one in the stones and laughs uproariously. It's how he got his name, we're pretty sure.
Two other knights are there with him, but they haven't joined in. Gary Store thinks its hilarious, but Riardin Oakenheel seems unamused, only glancing up from his book.
Nera joins Stonebreaker, and things going flying even more. People back away, and the brawl is soon over. Nera and Stonebreaker get along pretty well.
We return to the hall, and show Stonebreaker the note, which he shows great interest in. He mentioned the Baronness had not only hired the Steel Talons but also the Crimson Crotch Actually, look, I can't remember what they're really called. Crimson Chimeras maybe?.
We all know the baronness is up to something, Stonebreaker says, and he could arrest her. Nera suggests to start with that, and Stonebreaker likes that idea, but thinks we really need more to go with. The letter is a good start, at least.
Gary had been investigating a rumor about Arcanax the Blight, a dragon who is deeper in the swamp. Stonebreaker had wanted to deal with it earlier, but the Baronness Amberdean had forbidden it. But with things going the way they are, we should deal with it. Stonebreaker, meanwhile, will deal with the prisoner the Baronness had been threatening to execute, and the other knights will investigate what the deal with the Crimson Chimeras is.
The Baroness isn't well loved, and at one point, she was to marry the crown prince. The was a long time ago though, and it seems she holds a grudge.
The trek will be dangerous. It'll be dark and full of terrors, during the night. During the day, it's light and full of terrors.
We get closer to the lair of the dragon, and we see wildlife running past us.
Soon, we see a strange group of creatures. The traveling circus, Jeff calls it. An allosarus, a grick, a rust monster, and a gibbering mouther.
We slay them all, but not before the rust monster has a tiny taste of my shiny armor. It's a little less shiny now...