One more exit to follow from the octagonal room, so we went downstairs. Another octagonal room. Prestley peered through the door before we opened it, and said it contained another fake sarcophagus: a large black stone in midle of room, about 6ft long, 4 ft wide, and 2.5 ft high. Solid rock again. It was carved with runes and strange symbols, some with silver leaf. He couldn't read them, but said they looked just like rest of the runes around here.

Kyuskay said he believed all the black rocks are altars: they are all near rooms with robes nearby. That was a surprisingly wise guess.

Assured by Prestley that the door was not trapped, we entered. It was much as Prestley had described, and I added it to the map. Goldrim confirmed that the runes are indeed more relatively meaningless archaic dwarven runes. The rest of the room was pretty plain, though. The top edge corner of the rock that pointed to the other door out was very noticeably worn down, as of numerous hands brushing against it over time. Ritual? Habit? Young noviates rubbing it for luck? Kyuskay rubbed the corner and nothing happened that we could tell.

Prestley looked all around and through the walls, floor, and ceiling. He said he could see nothing but the exit, which was stairs descending farther than he could see. He warned us that there was a trap on the stairs: if anyone walked on any of five certain steps, it would trigger a bear trap to close on his knees.

I spread out the map and we all clustered around it, trying to figure out what's next. Since all the stairs going into the lake ascend to it, perhaps we needed to go downstairs.

Prestley said the trap extended all the way to edges, covered 5 steps, but was clear after. He disabled it rather easily and we started down. A few steps after the trap, he exclaimed, "Ah, I see it now!" At the end was another octagonal room with a big stone dais, two thrones, and a big black block of stone. This is the temple room we saw from the other side. No traps on this side leading to it. On the other side of the closed door, he saw:

The great temple of Kadar Gravning is one of the few areas still undistrubed. The room was 20 feet high, and all surfaces were painted black. Bare rails for tapestries ringed the room; the remains of a few still hung from them. The tapestries that had been on the north wall were puddled on the floor, with the skeletons of about 6 orcs. The tattered tapestries were damp an dmoldy, but we could still make out the designs, which were like those on the robes in the vestry area. In the middle of the room was a three-step stone dais, about 20 feet by 12 feet by 2 feet. On it was a large solid black rock, about 8 x 5 x 3. It was carved with archaic runes that still had gold leaf in some places; in others they were crumbled. At each corner of the blcok were dwarven gargoyles. At either end of the altar were ornately carved stone thrones, facing away from the blcok. The one on the north side was inlaid with gold and silver, while the one to the south was very plain. Scattered around the room were the remains of wodden furniture, some charred as if there was an explosion here. I guess maybe the orcs didn't know what they were doing and loosed a fire elemental in here. We need to find the rest of the ritual so we don't do the same.

The room had three doors, as we'd seen before. We now stood at one of the two western doors. The other western door was the one on the other side of the trap we didn't go through. On the south side were double doors that opened into stairs that Prestley said led straight to the lake room in a steep climb.

Prestley opened the door and we all saw what he had described. Before we entered it, José told us to wait a minute. I hurriedly updated my map, and then he said the entire room reeked of magic. he said the big black block, the thrones, the tapestries, and gargoyles, and the south doors were especially powerful while the rest of the rom echoed all that magic.

He added that the stone has somethign to do with burial rites, rites of the dead. Same for the thrones. Same for the gargoyles. The tapestries were protective against all those who were unclean, defilers, intruders, or sacreligious. The south doors were locked by the magic.

José said his guess here is that the room is used as part of the burial rites for kings, so the priests who did the burying had a way to come in here without getting wasted by the gargoyles and tapestries and the rest. Kyuskay and Miara spoke almost simultaneously, "Wearing the robes and carrying the sticks are probably part of it."

José pointed out that the scroll is obviously incomplete and part of a greater ritual which we don't have. We might find the rest elsewhere. In the meantime, this room is obviously well-guarded against the like of us, so we decided not to enter it just yet.

Again, we all pored over my map, and I took the opportunity to clean it up a little and add more notes to it. We realized there was a huge hole in it. During our brief employment by the current residents, we were walked upstairs through a long series of tunnels we weren't mapping at the time. We remembered a few forks we didn't follow (doors, passages). And when we were given our first (and last) assignment, there were also some forks we didn't follow. The dwarves were all over the place, but they're likely busy elsewhere because of Mendri's arrival. So that is where we need to go next.

We reset the trap at the top and retraced our steps. Back at the top, we started exploring. We went through several halls and rooms, but found nothing of significance. Still, I was happy to complete more of the map. We returned to the room with the shrine and the ladder hidden under it. At Miara's request, Prestley took a closer look and realized the top rung of the ladder was hollow and appeared to contain a parchment.

We took the chance and recovered the scroll, which had been well-protected by the ladder rung. José confirmed it was not magical, and Goldrim read the dwarven script:

Speak the runes, and with hands fresh cleansed, touch the holy signs which weave around the words. This, then, shall pass you on into the holy place free from taint and free from hurt.

Now if we could just make sense out of the runes, we have the safe passage through the room. But it's something we want to be sure of before entering. Prestley looked around and said there wasn't anything else of interest anywhere here, and no dwarves were in our way yet. We continued on.

We again entered the throne room, which Sundrim was using. Prestley looked around and said there were nothing special about the three thrones and five statues on the dais except that he could see a scrollcase lying on the floor at the foot of the center statue, hidden behind the large center throne. he said it contained scrolls with more dwarven writing on them.

Then, disaster! Kyuskay immediately stepped up on the dais to retrieve the scrollcase Prestley was pointing at before Prestley look for traps.

As Miara shouted in Nipponese, "Wait!", it was too late. The trap was spring, and the five statues came to life and attacked Kyuskay. José informed us later that it was magical and Prestley would not have seen it. Still, we had been so careful up to that moment, allowing Prestley and José to scout carefully ahead, knowing there are traps in this place that, once sprung, will collapse the entire cave complex down on top of us. Luckily, this was not one such, but it was bad enough.

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 ~