The twin suns rose with their normal radiance on a warm morning in the City of Cymril on the 29th day of Phandir. The day started out to be an uneventful day much like the last several days. Barack, Bladez, and Jor-el would spend today sight-seeing around the city and casually looking for future employment. It wasn’t that they couldn’t find gainful employment, just that they still had considerable funds left over from their time in Danuvia. And no real desire to start working for a living again. They would spend the day sampling strange foods and drinks from all across Talislanta and finish the evening with a good dinner at the Jaded Wayfarer, with several of their new friends they have made during their stay in Cymril.
The large dinning table in the rear of the Jaded Wayfarer was setup tonight like it is set up the first night of every week. The staff would place settings for seven and the eastern end of the table, Klienal’s assistants would drag the almost three hundred pound stone chair into place for the Kharakhan giant known as Barack to sit and enjoy dinner with his companions.
Bran’di the Ariane Seeker was always the first one to arrive for dinner. She would observe the others has they entered the inn and note how their day had went by the different ways they address their dinner companions. She was usually followed by the three Brothers in Arms, Barack, Bladez, and Jor-el. But on several occasions the paled skinned Mirin known only as Jh’tiel would arrive a few moments after her. The strange women whose race and origin doesn’t appear to based from Talislanta but claiming to be a native of Cymril Kintarea, would usually arrive right as the dinner drinks where being served. Veris, who was probably the strangest member of this very unusual group would always show up ten minutes after the first course was served. Usually in jovial spirits, but lately Veris has seemed to be in a very melancholy mood the last few meetings.
Dinner this evening was much like it was last week. Barack always started off by telling stories of his days as the leader of a small elite guard force that was responsible for defending the last Danuvian Queen. The rest of the group would laugh or make comments about the many stories he boasted about. With Jh’tiel and Veris rarely speaking except when they were address directly. I would silently listen to their tales so I could record them into my Tamar after dinner.
But this evening dinner would last longer than any of the previous ones. About twenty minutes into dinner a strange Pharesian peddler entered the Wayfarer’s dinning room and began setting up several small metal Bodorian looking dolls on his table. He push a few buttons on the dolls and they began to play a lively tune and slowly dancing around the table. Barack howled in laughter and offered the peddler several hundred gold lumens for the dolls. After the dolls finished their last song the peddler placed them back in their case and approached our table.
“Greetings, my friends. Allow me to introduce myself, I am Timmentote a simple peddler of normal items and the occasional rare treat. I’m greatly pleased with the fact you enjoyed my choice for tonight’s dinner entertainment.” In his deep voice Barack again asked to purchase the dolls. “Ah, I’m sorry my giant friend but these dolls have been in my family for ages and I don’t think my ancestors would allow me to sleep in peace if I parted company with them.” replied the peddler. Veris eyes glowed with a dark gaze at the mention of restless ancestors. “But, I do have a special item for sale that just might calm your desires for strange and unusual things friend giant.” The peddler reached into his pack and produced a finally made ornate ten by ten inch box made of rich hardwood and decorated with archaic symbols and beautiful silver inlay-ed designs. “This sir, is a Phaedran puzzle-box, an ancient item that was used to store rare and valuable treasures. I purchased it from an Sindarian collector in Nakar several days ago. But my equs fell earlier today and broke her left front leg. Causing me to walk the final miles to Cymril. For me to be able to continue on my journey to Zanth, I need to purchase a new mount.” After several minutes of haggling Barack, handed the peddler four hundred and fifty gold lumens in exchanged for the puzzle-box.
We spent several minutes discussing Barack’s new purchasing and amusing ourselves with the way it magically changed from a square to a triangle with push of a button. Jh’tiel let us all know that he spoke with a Sindarian collector a several weeks ago that was an expert in all things Phaedran. He was sure that the collector could enlighten us on the exact workings of the box for a small fee. As dinner was winding down, Kintarea tapped her drinking glass with a fork. “Barack, if your willing to try a different route to gaining an understanding for your new box, I have several ancestors that might be able to help figure out the mysterious of the box.” After a few moments of discussion, several of us decided to excuse ourselves from the table and seek a private audience with Kintarea in one of the inn’s back rooms. Veris and Jor-el elected to stay in the dinning room and finish their drinks.
I closed the door behind me and waited to everyone to be seated. The back room in the inn wasn’t very big and once you added Barack’s considerable mass it was quite small. Once everyone was ready, Kintarea asked Barack to place the box on the table and step back. She opened her cloak and pulled out two small bags. she carefully withdrew two fetch’s out of the bags along with a third that was cover by a silver bag on top of her staff. Several of the group including myself drew in a shape breath of air, it wasn’t everyday that you saw a shrunken-head much less three at one time. “My Lady, you know that those are illegal in almost every civilized country?” exclaimed Jh’tiel. “They maybe pale one, but no social laws set by the unknowing could cause me to abandon my family, no matter what form they appear in.” stated Kintarea. She took an amber-crystal vial and drank some cinnamon smelling black liquid. Her eyes began to glaze over as if she was in some far away place of strange dreams. After several moments she began talking in a strange guttural language that consisted of many strange chirps and sounds. The three shrunken heads began chattering in the same foul language, and they appeared to be arguing with each other. After about fifteen minutes Kintarea appeared to snap out of her dream state and began writing on a piece of parchment. Here is the information we require.
“Always the morning follows the night, the rainbow after the rain.
Two days shall pass, the first one clear, for so it is ordained.
Start out at night and follow the way, to undo all the locks.
Press seven squares and you will see, what’s hid inside the box.”
“I must rest before doing any further magic towards the box and the riddle that my ancestors have given us.” Kintarea breathlessly uttered. The group agreed to meet at Kintarea’s alchemist shop in the Sindarian district an hour after noon the next day.
All seven of us actually arrived on time for our late noon appointment at Kintarea’s shop. Kintarea showed us upstairs to her personnel lab where she had cleared away enough space for all of us to get a better look at the puzzle-box. As everyone was discussing the riddle, Kintarea’s ancestors gave us. Jor-el picked up the parchment and glanced at it briefly and then picked up the box and began pushing the sides in a seemly random pattern. As he pushed the seventh side in the pattern he had decided on using, we were assaulted by a blinding flash of light and a loud bang. The last thing I remember is the sound of glass breaking.
I was one of the first too awake. It was completely dark as if the moon Zar had swallowed whole both of Talislanta’s suns. Within moments my companions all began to come too. After a few seconds in the darkness we realized that we where no longer in Kintarea’s shop in the Sindarian district of the City of Cymril. But in some small dark chamber that was heavy with the odor of death and decay. Barack pulled a lantern out of his pack and used an ancient flame spell that he was taught by a Tanasian Magician during one of his old adventures, to light the lantern. As the lantern light illuminated the chamber, we discovered that we where in a crowded twenty by twenty room with several empty torch holders hanging high on the walls. Jh’tiel noticed two skeletons lying on the floor in front of the north wall. Has he bent down to pick up a small ruby encrusted, silver comb held in one of the skeletal hands. Barack began pulling on the torches and pushing stones to see if he could find a hidden release mechanism to open some unseen door. When Barack pulled the southern torch bracket a low grumbling sound could be heard from the north wall as a door began to slowly open in the wall. The door was about eight feet wide and it was opening at a snails paces. It seemed like five minutes passed before the door had opened five to six inches. Kintarea drank another vial of her dream inducing potion and transformed into a small misty cloud. She slowly slipped under the cracked door and disappeared for several minutes. As she returned and assumed her original form, she stated that there was a spiral stairwell that headed down about a hundred or so feet and ended at a large iron door with a strange silver rune inscribed medallion on it. Barack and Jh’tiel reached down and grasped the door and began forcing it upwards not want to wait in this room for it to open on its own. Once they had opened the door about two feet Veris slide under the door towards the stairs. He had gotten about half his body through the space when he screamed in terror yelling at us to pull him back into the room. Bladez and Jor-el grabbed Veris by his black leather boots and pulled him back into the room. Unfortunately he did not come back into the room by himself. Veris’s upper body was engulfed by some sort of large clear slime creature with multiple tentacles that where thrashing and flailing in every direction.
Luckily for Veris that the slime creature was much larger than him. There was barely enough room for Jh’tiel and Bladez to strike the beast with their weapons and destroy it without hitting him. Kintarea healed some of the worse acid like burns on Veris as we waited for the door to open fully. We decided that Jor-el should be the first to head down the steps since he was the fleetest of foot and had a natural sixth sense that tending to warn him of incoming dangers. The stairs where uneventful except for the few time Barack’s huge body got hung up making the tight turns.
The large black iron door at the bottom of the steps appeared to be unlocked. Jor-el, positioned himself to the side where he would have a clear shot with his Ariane white-wood longbow into the room as Barack slide the door open. As the light from the lantern lit up the room we could see a large room with a high vaulted ceiling. All of the walls were covered from the floor to ceiling with some type of red velvet curtains. In the center of the room I could see a large rug apparently made of some sort of animal hide dyed in different colors. Behind the rug was a large sarcophagus that appeared to be made of some type of blue crystal substance.
As Jor-el’s eyes came across the sarcophagus he immediately began getting a feeling of danger. “Beware the sarcophagus, my friends it holds a great danger.” he purred to us. We fanned out around the room as Veris, Barack, and Jh’tiel approached the sarcophagus. Jh’tiel noticed another animal skinned rug beyond the sarcophagus. As Kintarea examined the closer rug, she state that this rug is made of the skin of sentient humanoid beings and not animals. With Jh’tiel taking a closer look at the other rug, Veris reached down and removed a small silver rune inscribed seal off of the sarcophagus, identical to the one on the iron door. Veris had maybe cleared the sarcophagus by a few inches with the seal when the sarcophagus lid burst upwards off of the sarcophagus as if thrown off with some sort of arcane explosion. Hitting Veris full in the face and knocking him back unconscious several feet from the side of the sarcophagus where he was standing only seconds ago. As we scattered to avoid the sarcophagus lid that had now became a deadly projectile. A large ghastly form sprang out of the sarcophagus and did a flip through the air clearing a good thirty feet coming to a stop against the northern wall. It raised its hands in a threatening manner and began laughing hysterically and gave us a greeting. “Greetings to you The Seven, from Talinlore. May your first trail be your last.” it gasped. I unleashed one of my blunt arrows and struck a true shot to the ghastly beasts side. Followed by a barrage of arrows from Jor-el’s white-wood bow, but unlike my arrows his where sharp and made to tear through the flesh of both the living and the dead. And that is just what they did to the fell beast. Bladez threw two of his deadly Arminite knifes, sinking them both hilt deep into the decaying flesh of its huge chest. Barack not to be out done by our ranged attacks, leaped across the sarcophagus and landed a thundering blow with his ancient one hundred pound Drakken war maul. Crushing the creature head again the crypts stone wall with an explosion of flesh and stone smashing together, covering him in a bloody mess.
It took a moment to realize that the creature was dead. It happen so fast it was almost as if it didn’t happen. Bladez and Barack checked out the beast to make sure that it was really dead. Myself and Kintarea rushed to Veris side to see if he was still alive. Thankfully he still was, the force of the sarcophagus lid being thrust upwards had just knocked him unconscious. Jh’tiel continued to examine the flesh rugs and found a trap door beneath the north rug. After a few moments Kintarea had Veris back up on his feet and ready to continue. Barack convinced Jh’tiel to help him turn the sarcophagus lid into a usable shield once they were free of this cursed crypt and back in more civilized lands.
Jor-el was lowered down the small trap door about seventy-five feet into a corridor heading east. Once Jor-el gave us the all clear signal the rest of us followed down. With Bladez using several well placed kicks on Barack’s shoulder when ever his large frame became stuck. The corridor headed east and sloped downwards for about three hundred yards and ended in wall with some sort of black swirling portal surrounded by silver and gold runes that were lit up by some type of magical flame. After throwing several copper coins through the portal. Jor-el decided to go through with Barack’s rope tied around his waist. Jor-el went through the portal and was immediately assaulted by bright sunlight and a strong southerly breeze. He was standing on a large platform, high above the clouds. As he looked around the landing he was on, he noticed thousands of The All-seeing Eyes of Aa. Placed randomly around the platform. As he reached back to tug on the rope and give us the all clear, he noticed that the rope trailed behind him about ten feet and the other end just disappeared into thin air. After he gave us the all clear we all went through the portal and came out on the landing. I had never been up here on the top, but I have seen this place that is known as the Watchstone from afar. This huge white stone structure rises almost two miles above the Plains of Golarin. About a ten days journey south-west of my home in Altan.