The other door led to another octagonal room with three doors, including the one he was looking through. In the middle was a 20 x 12 foot stone dais with a large 8 x 5 x 3 foot black rock. He said it had engravings in gold leaf, and gargoyles with twisted bodies on the corners. Orntately carved thrones on either side faced away from the dais.

This sounded very promising. It looked very much like a hero's sarcophagus, and it was guarded by a significant trap: a plate in the hall would close the door and release spores into the air. I asked Prestley if he could describe them, but he couldn't give me any specific information. Sadly, Prestley said what looked like a sarcophagus was just a solid stone. Apparently this was merely a well-baited trap.

Instead, Kyuskay and Prestley went up the long spiral staircase and reported on what was up there. They found several rooms and came back before they explored them all. Prestley described them carefully, and I mapped them. They also found a hidden parchment with a hand-drawn map that was sort of similar to where we were. But it didn't match reality, no matter how much searching we did. José even tried looking for magic that was hiding something from even Prestley's sight, but there was none. I filed the map away, but I don't think it's of any use. I kind of wonder if it was drawn to make anyone who didn't belong here waste a lot of time looking for something that didn't exist.

So we all went up the spiral stairs anyway. There were a lot of rooms that had been guarded by dwarves earlier but were now empty. The dwarves were busy fighting elsewhere.

We debated trying to cross a trap that Prestley couldn't figure out how to disable, but I found a different way to explore on the map. I thought there was maybe a path we hadn't gotten to yet on the same level as the lake. Prestley and I figured out two ways to get there: a short easy way that would probably run us into fighting dwarves, and a longer winding way that wouldn't. We took the second, of course.

We eventually came to another octagonal room with 20 hooks around the walls. Nine of them held more of those reproduction religious robes -- well-made, expensive, modern copies of archaic robes. Beside each hook was a wooden staff leaning against the wall. They were obviously antique. Each hook had a rune above it, and runes on each staff matched the hook it was near. José again said none of them were magical, but they all had that religious aura.

Goldrim said the runes didn't mean anything. That is, each was a word, but without context, he couldn't figure out any larger meaning to them. Someone who knows what they're supposed to mean would know what they mean. There are lots of empty hooks, each with its own rune. This is probably important.

From there was a dead-end hall and stairs going down. Kyuskay insisted on exploring the empty hall, and Res Li found a hole inside the wall that he couldn't get to. José checked it out and discovered it was just an illusion that made it look like there was a wall there. José prayed to Verena to remove the illusion and let him see the truth, and she did. Amazing. As Miara said, knowledge is powerful.

Inside was a collection of ancient scrolls that crumbled to dust at our least touch. I hope they were no more than some ancient and long-dead dwarf's private diary. Of more use was a scrollcase that had protected its contents: a scroll with archaic dwarven symbols written in verse. We paused for a while to let Goldrim try to decipher its meaning. It was magical, so he worked it from the bottom. It took him a good 20 minutes or so to figure out the last verse, but the rest followed more quickly. He really only got the gist, but it was enough.

We now hold a ritual to summon a fire elemental as a portion of a burial ceremony for dwarven kings. There's obviously more than we have. Still, it's at least a hint.

Ravenna, A Monk of the Biancan Order

Part the First:
Blood and Mud

Part the Second:
Murder and Mayhem

Part the Third:
Puzzles and Crystals

Part the Fourth:
Dwarves and Rocks

Part the Fifth:
Diplomacy and Daggers

Part the Sixth:
Crystal and Chaos

Part the Seventh:
Sheer Insanity

~ The End ~