Excerpt from “My Adventures – The Life of Theros Vitalstatistix, vol.1”
A closer inspection of the automation revealed some form of glowing tube in the chest cavity, and an even closer inspection of the tube revealed that yes, it was super bright and hard to get past being blinded, and yes, there was more than met the eye, with symbols engraved down the length of the tube, and just the top symbol glowing.
Theros stared at the symbols and had a suspicion he had seen them before.
“These symbols match the engravings above the shaft we saw earlier.”
Proud of his attention to detail, the others immediately moved past him, caring very little other than to accept that this was probably true. Feeling deflated, he suggested a short excursion down the remaining tunnel before examining the shaft more closely.
The second tunnel led down a similar depth and had an exposed part of the tunnel that showed the same green material the shaft and the strange automaton looked to be made of. With nothing else of note to find, Theros led his party back to the shaft.
The tube looked as though it would fit quite nicely into an indention in the wall beside the shaft, so after some tentative testing, he slotted the tube in and watched as a second symbol lit up. With no discernible change other than that symbol lighting up, the group struggled to comprehend where to go from there.
“Up? Down? One? Top? Bottom?”
As Theros started muttering words in hope something would trigger in the shaft. Instead, the world went dark and Theros felt the chill of shock ripple through his body, and nearly panicked when he realised that he was suddenly all alone. His stressed mind couldn’t grasp what had just happened and he zoned out, looking into the shaft and seeing that it now went both up and down. Not hearing anything, he tried to focus on what he had been saying when he teleported.
“Oh god…I have no idea…”
The panic seriously starting to settle in and his mind whirred. All of a sudden, he appeared back next to the party. It must have been something he thought! The party appeared as surprised as Theros himself when he appeared again.
Some testing later revealed that the thought of a number and a maximum of three beings could travel at a time and it seemed as though where ever you were when you triggered the tube, you appeared next to the shaft on that level.
Some of the tunnels coming off the shaft were empty, some were short and not well excavated, while others had…things…in them.
It is at this point that peoples natures revealed themselves a little more clearly. Ashe was fascinated. Fascinated with the mode of travel, the destinations and what could be possibly be found. Nugg and Dog were stoic and interested primarily in moving forward as the party cleared the mines. The idiot, who up to this point had STILL not given us the pleasure of his name, has started to appear less of an idiot and more as a sane man. Possibly something to look into more carefully at a more opportune moment. And here too, Barney and his alcoholic addiction started to hamper the group. A massive focus on his next drink and the tavern alone started to wear the others in the party down.
Theros made a hasty decision…not his last, and also not necessarily his best decision…and touched Barney on the shoulder and teleported to the top of the shaft and suggested to Barney that if it was the pub he wanted, the exit was back the way they came, hoping that the option the drunk wanted being made available would sate him. An immediate departure for the exit put paid to that notion and Theros shook his head and went back to the group.
A brief discussion with the others led Theros, frustrated at the situation, to head back up in search of Barney, hoping against hope that he hadn’t already disappeared. Luckily, he found him at the top of the mine, drinking from a skin, already seeming happier. A note to the needs of the party and some of the drunkenly hidden character of the man emerged, and Barney returned to the party.
And just in time! A beast of which Theros had only heard of in tales, an Ankheg, was found wandering and the bright glare of a stone with the light spell on it alerted it to the groups position and it attacked. With acid for blood and fearsome pincers, this was nothing to be taken lightly.
A charge, a few arrows, a dog bite later and the fearsome beast lay defeated. It had clearly been here quite some time. Somehow, some of its blood splashed on the tube, lighting yet another symbol.
Deeper into the mine, a tunnel littered with wooden handles indicated something lying in wait. A cautious approach revealed a creature that again, Theros had only heard described in tales, this time a dangerous Rust Monster, which literally eats metal of any kind.
In what was fast becoming a combat trend, a charge from the drunk, the dog and sometimes the baker, followed by some arrows and gibberish saw the beast killed, with little more damage done that Barney’s sword being badly damaged. or so he thought! The idiot simply asked to look at the weapon, shrugged his shoulders, handed the sword back, clearly confused as it wasn’t damaged at all. Again, there is something more to this idiot than appears.
The deeper the party got, the warmer and more eerie the mines became. Reaching a deep tunnel, a light could be seen. Ahead, a lantern appeared to floating by itself in the air. A strange occurrence, in a mine of strange. And stranger still, the lantern talked, and both Ashe and Theros were able to converse with it. An added bonus was a feeling of warmth and rightness emanating from it. Introducing itself as Lantern, the Lantern Archon was exploring and felt that a combining of forces would be beneficial. After a short discussion, mostly around the inability of the rest of the group to understand what was being said, Theros and Ashe invited Lantern along.
Lantern immediately proved his worth, healing Dog with some form of ray and also investigating a tunnel a little deeper into the mine, finding some form of lizard creature sleeping further in. The description from Lantern led Theros to wrack his brain for a tale and finally remembered that this sounded much like a fabled Basilisk! The ability to petrify a person somehow was a terrifying prospect. Nobody wanted to attack this head on! Theros came up with a cunning plan (along with a weasel tail).
“We could sneak up to it, teleport it to the edge of a shaft and push it down the shaft and let it fall to its death!”
Genuinely excited and impressed with his own creativity, Theros was in for a rude awakening as the rest of the group unanimously voted against the idea by moving on, leaving the Basilisk to its slumber.
Finally reaching the bottom of the mine, the party appeared to interrupt some form of ritual, with a large goblin looking creature, flanked by four regular goblins…no, not regular! Dead goblins! And strangely, some form of portals, two of them, apparently guarded by giant faces.
The large goblin creature snarled in frustration as the heads disappeared, and it gestured to the dead goblins to take care of the party, while pulling out a large bow of its own. Splitting into small groups, Dog and Nugg focused on a couple of dead goblins, Ashe strode forward, filled with the confidence of his god, a flash of godly power emanating from him twice, disrupting the dead goblins somehow, Lantern also seemed focused on the goblins, almost disgusted by them, incinerating them with a beam of golden light, Barney charging directly toward the large goblin, and Theros, nocking an arrow and attempting to take out a small creature quickly.
The small goblins quickly taken care of, the large creature was proving a serious threat, and its archery was proving deadly. A quick check of the creature revealed that it had not just a bow, but a morning star as well, and with party members moving in to flank it, Theros cast grease on the melee weapon in the hopes that it would make the morning star difficult to use.
An arrow then took down Barney, and he collapsed in a heap, bleeding badly. Theros visibly paled as the rest of the group looked around at each other and tried to think of a scenario where the rest of the group made it out of the combat alive and failed.
Theros had a flash of brilliance. Clearly the beast had got down here somehow, but surely some time could be bought to restore the party somewhat with the healing magics at their disposal. Taking a deep breath, he strode forward, reached out to touch the beast and thought of the level that they Basilisk resided, hoping that one or the other would kill each other, and thinking himself back down to the same level as the party again.
Some hurried healing and a hectic ambush was set up, and the party was as ready as they could be for the beast as it simply floated down the shaft. As it descended, it reached the bottom and dropped its bow, and reached for its morning star, struggling to get it out, causing the party to attack quickly without fear of reprisal. A roar of frustration from the beast was the last sound it made as it was cut down.
Relief evident on all the faces, Theros breathed a sigh of relief that his slightly mad plan paid off so handsomely.
After some time to regather their wits about them, the heads reappeared, along with the portals behind them. A cryptic comment followed…
“You have one question. Behind one door is certain death and the other, our treasure. One of us lies and the other tells the truth. What is your question?”
Unfortunately, while the party immediately and correctly moved away and started working out what was going on, Theros only heard “One of us lies and the other tells the truth. What is your question?” and immediately figured out a quite brilliant solution. Taking a silver coin, he asked…
“What colour is this coin?”
The face lied and said gold, and Theros turned to the others, facing glowing in triumph! The look on the others was a mix of shock, and clearly, awe at the intellect shown. Or, as the reality sunk in, it was shock, frustration and disappointment, and Theros felt crushed. He’d missed something vital and cost them all a chance at certain treasure.
Ashe showed some remarkable bravery, choosing a door and stepping through, regardless of the error in judgement made by Theros.
Waking, face hurting, throat raw, head thumping and stomach churning, Theros found Vigeo in the chamber, concerned about the group. Apparently a couple of days had passed and the bandit had become concerned at the party not returning. Vigeo had saved Theros’ life twice now. The debt would be repaid!
In the mean time, Ashe had worked a way to get through the correct door, in a feat of logic that left Theros shaking his head in confusion. Regardless, it worked and Vigeo was able to choose a door, allowing Ashe to step through and reveal a ring of exquisite craftsmanship. Vigeo was able to determine that it was a magical ring of protection, which was immediately offered to, and even more quickly accepted by Barney, leading to a shock for the party as a vision of a woman flowed before their eyes, leaving a lingering urge to find a book somewhere in Hexagon.
Leaving the mine was hastened, as the party was weary, tired and in need of a break. So Vigeo led the group back to the top, only to find as they exited, a large burly creature screaming at the party for killing its minions. It seemed out of it mind and it immediately charged, wielding a massive axe.
It was unlikely that any outcome other than the party standing victorious and Barney clutching yet another trophy was to be expected.
The trip back to the village was short, but eventful. A fated meeting with the groups protector, a gnome calling himself Christoff, found hiding in a bush, somewhat ineffectively, provided some confusion and mirth in equal measure.
Another portal opened in front of the group, similar to the one on the way to the mine. This time however, the being was able to step through, still disrupted in some incredible manner, and all that could be worked out was a single sentence.
“You put the ring on?!”
It sounded exasperated as it disappeared.
A short while later, a pack of wild dogs were spotted, and they immediately rushed the group. Nugg reached into his backpack and pulled out some trail rations, throwing them on the ground, halting the dogs immediately. A clever idea and the needless death of the pack was avoided.
Finally making their way back to the village, the prospect of some rest attracted the party immensely. Unfortunately, this was not to be…