We cautiously opened the secret trapdoor at the top of the ladder and peered through to see a chamber lit by a blue light from a brazier, with a throne and three coffins. We rapidly shut the trapdoor again, fearing to wake the witches. The long shallow stepped corridor rose steadily and ended in another secret door than opened onto the corridor from the main chamber. We decided to cross and try the other stairs that we had found, but as we entered the main chamber, an ogre leapt onto the pile of rubble and threw some stones at us – Alki was hit. We fanned out to surround it and leapt forward. It swung ineffectually and was cut down. We continued onwards.
The other stairs (behind the secret door in the map room with the painting of the Madonna with the…) led down a series of windy flights until we entered another 30 foot square room with a 10 foot stone cube in the centre. This one seemed to be lacking the gelatinous cube though. We easily found the secret door in the cube, but the chamber within was empty. We checked, and the ladder led into the throne room again. The long shallow stepped corridor ended up by the main chamber, again.
Oin decided that he wanted to re-visit the room with the red eyes in the corner. His plan was to have Bryan throw a lighted torch into the corner by the eyes, cover his mouth and nose with a damp cloth to protect against the gas and to examine the shelves. The plan was well executed with Bryan accurately lobbing the torch into the corner. However it began to unravel when the gas caught light and a huge flash of flame filled the room singeing his beard and burning exposed flesh! Bryan also took minor damage. Everyone else laughed.
We returned to the prison block to interrogate Merdiz magician again, and get some more rest. He elaborated on his story of the throne room, so we went to check after we had rested. We were nervous of what might be in the coffins, but were running out of other options. The coffins were stone and carved with indecipherable symbols that we were unable to read. Next to the throne was a lectern with the book on it, and also a quill. The magician had said that he had received a shock when he had tried to touch it, so we delegated Titus to try, as he was the most Lawful amongst us. He was able to touch and unclasp the book without issue – it proceeded to speak aloud and recited a poem which revealed something of the location of the witches and the need for a black opal to destroy them for ever:
Come woodland folk and gather near
the tale of the wizard’s keep to hear
Whence, long ago in a younger age
the Black Opal was held by Elyas the mage.
The Opal increased his magical grace
But he kept the stone in an open place.
three witches wishing to heighten their POWER,
rained flame and stone upon his tower
Elyas trapped each witch in a dragons eye.
But without the opal, they did not die
As Elyas raced to retrieve the Stone,
a granite mountain crushed the mage and his home.
the spell ne’er completed the three witches wait
In eternal suspension until by some fate
their souls are released upon innocence sweet
then revenge they will reap upon all that they meet.
The quill quivered in Titus’ hand when he touched it. We though it would write something of its own accord, and it finally did, in response to repeated promptings. It seemed that it would answer yes/no questions. One useful question as to whether the witches were in the vicinity was answered with a no. However Oin then tried to be clever and outsmart it with a series of complex questions that didn’t actually tell us anything, and it seemed that we could only ask it five questions, so it soon stopped responding and we were left having found out nothing useful.
As a result of normal dwarven stupidity, we were again at a loss, so decided that we would have to risk the blue disk lift. We returned to that room and summoned the disk with the command ‘Pah’, having first lowered a lantern down the shaft to see that it was deeper than our rope was long. All 10 of us climbed on the blue disk, ignoring the warning sign about maximum capacity and we said ‘Nwad’ to get it to descend. It descended rapidly for a great time, and we guessed that we were now far, far underground. It finally stopped atop a dais in a room that was otherwise a copy of the one above.
We opened the double doors to see a similar corridor, but longer with 3 niches on either side, and a total of seven statues of ecstatic running adventurers. We opened the doors at the far end, into a larger room, with double doors on the far side and a silver arch on either side wall. Bryan recognised the silver arches from his dream. Beyond the arch on the right wall was a vast chamber piled high with treasure. We assumed that this was an illusion and trap. Beyond the arch on the left side was a similar, but empty chamber. We assumed that this must be the one that contained the opal, as Bryan has seen in his dream. The room didn’t appear to be trapped, but when Bryan entered, there was a blinding flash and he was turned to metal. The metal statue then floated out to the corridor and placed itself in a niche. This explained the other statues, although they had obviously been running towards the treasure.
Blocked from the silver arches, we opened the double doors. Beyond was a corridor, ending in a door, and with doors on either side. The door on the right side opened into an opulent bedroom, with women’s clothes and make-up. The strangest feature was a niche on the far wall, closed off by a barred gate, and a lever (and a ladies feathered hat) on the wall next to it, which we guessed was to open the gate. The door on the left hand side of the corridor was locked, and we had no means to open it.
We opened the door at the end of the corridor, and entered the room beyond. It was dominated by a statue of a large, fat man, sitting on the floor, with his open mouth towards the ceiling. On each of the north, west and south walls was a barred archway. We quickly linked this to Zoe’s observation that the codes on the labels of each bottle of wine ended in N, W and S. Pouring some of the wine from the Champagne bottle, which ended in N, into the mouth of the statue caused the north gate to open. Some of the party entered, while others remained in the central room in case the gate closed and we needed to reopen it.
The room beyond, down the flight of steps, was small with three alcoves, marked 1, 2 and 3. Oin entered the alcove marked 3 and disappeared. Tanara followed him, and Pavel followed her. The others waited in the room.
Oin, Tanara and Pavel found themselves in another small room, this time with four alcoves marked from 1 – 4. They stepped into alcove 4 this time, following the sequence of numbers in the code at the bottom of the Champagne bottle, for we had noticed that there was no number higher than 4 in the code. We reached another similar room, and left via alcove 2, into another similar room (we should have marked each room, but were dashing so fast that Tanara hardly had time to not down the sequence of events, let alone mark the rooms. We left this one via alcove 4, and arrived in a different room, with three alcoves on one side, doors on the other three sides and a stone obelisk in the centre, which sounded like what Bryan had seen in his second dream. After talking for a while, it suddenly told us that we must answer three questions:
What is your name? – Tanara Silverleaf.
What is your quest? – To find the black opal.
is the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow Do you know the name of the last creature that you killed? – (long pause as Tanara checks her memory) No.
The obelisk now allowed us to ask three questions. After some muttered discussion we asked it where the Black Opal Eye was – in the empty domed room, hanging from the ceiling.
Then we asked it how we could return Bryan from his metallic state and it said that he would return to normal when the witches were defeated (no pressure there then).
Finally we asked it how we could defeat the witches, and hit the jackpot, as it started declaiming a long list of information.
Beyond the three temples of the elements,
the Black dragons eye waits for thee
find its secret through nearby magical ways
that have waited for many long years.
Beware the tricks of old Elyas
and return here with the Black Opal Eye, to give it power.
Then, set it in its place and behold
the end of great sadness; the beginning of life
the destruction of evil and the end of strife.