Super Mega Monkey Ultra Extreme
Dungeons & Dragons Edition
Recap 27: Just Throw It in the Mirror
May 30, 2009
A week is spent in the frost giant village in order to allow Oliver to recuperate. During this time, Josy receives a message from Yondalla in a dream, berating Josy for using her powers on those who are of an evil disposition - i.e. Flerm. Josy decides she needed time to decipher the veracity of this dream and left through the mirror to join Leento for a time.
Snurggi, the healer, brews healing potions for the adventurers to help them along now that they would be without their cleric. It requires a prayer to their frost god Ymir from all of the party. Flerm declines but none of the others are overly worried by the action. In addtion to the potions, the giants generously offer a week of rations to all the party and 2 barrels of snow to add to their water supply.
The giants helpfully bring the group to a stone marker bearing the seal of Chumera. The message is written in code, but Lieralyn is able to break it:
HERE BE THE CONTINUED TRAIL TO THE DESERT!
The path is steep and icy, but Malouf and Oliver help the others traverse it.
While scouting ahead, Malouf and Oliver discover a goblin army apparently performing training drills. Between one group of goblins is a large, metal construct full of more goblins - a war machine of sorts.
Believing a little caution and misdirection in order, the group splits into two groups. Alana, Oliver, Brecaryn, and Flerm wait on the top of a cliff overlooking the training grounds as Malouf, Snow, and Lieralyn proceed to engage the goblins to negotiate passage.
At first, the goblins demand surrender and show no interest in letting three lone travellers pass. Snow gives the signal and Brecaryn rains lightning on one group, killing most of them. Flerm, Oliver, and Snow each kill a goblin before Malouf grabs the leader, telling him it is time to negotiate.
Captain Brog of the Dripping Jaw: You do not negotiate from the perspective of strength that you actually possess. If you had represented your strength properly, we could have avoided all this tragedy.
One goblin tries to run but Flerm is able to teleport and catch him. In doing so, Flerm also notices a large iron door. The goblins indicate that this is the entrance to their kingdom. They agree to provide 2 escorts, Bigley and Glom, to see the party safely through their territory. After a few questions, it is evident they can provide little intelligence on the area beyond.
The next day, the party finds itself in front of a wide chasm. A narrow bridge is the only way to cross. Another marker sits on the path.
A ROPE REQUIRED ONE AT A TIME!
Flerm floats Brecaryn over with the rope. Vain follows by running across the bridge easily. Flerm ties the end off on Vain and holds the rope steady so the group can begin to cross. Lieralyn anchors the near end as Alana goes first. More of the exploding spores created by the Flasher dwarf magick user can be seen floating out towards the bridge. With Malouf anchoring, Oliver and Lieralyn make it safely across with the mirror while Alana tries to explode as many spores as she can. On Snow's attempt to cross, a spore approaches too close for comfort. Unfortunately, in her attempt to explode it at a distance with her kau sin ke, Snow inadvertently drops the weapon into the deep chasm. Nightshade distracts the spore by dropping a rock on it so that Snow can continue across. Flerm teleports back to the near end to anchor and allow Malouf to cross.
The seal to the entrance was engraved with runes and a dragon - Chamber of Competency. Studying the seal, they discover the hole in the seal looks remarkably similar to the scepter they took from the Dragonkin cave. Trying it in the lock, the large round door rolled open. Descending into the darkened cave, they see a spore floating in the corner. When it turns to look at Brecaryn, the magically lit torch goes out - Beholder!
Malouf and Snow run up to it, using the mirror as cover. Snow grabs it with the Beholder Fork and its eyes immediately droop although the main eye continues to move. Snow turns it towards the cave wall so that the eye cannot look on anyone. It tries to speak, sees Brecaryn, and pauses as if in thought. This is all the opening the group needs. They shall not be deterred by any possible information that could be gleaned by their new captive. Lieralyn pummels it and Oliver stabs it until it dies.
That obstacle quickly dispatched, the group takes some time to study their surroundings. The carved out area leads to an ornate door with a dragon-shaped doorknob. A crystal window shows a room empty of anything except for a canvas and painting supplies. Carved on the door are the words "Royal Entrance".
Alana puts a Dragonkin coin into the slot. She touches one of the vowels, a buzz is heard, and the letters disappear. No matter what letter is touched, nothing, the results are the same. Malouf tries the door after a coin has been inserted but the trap is still active. Alana tries with a copper coin resulting in a burst of magic that injures the whole party.
With no other choice, Brecaryn dons the crown once more while Snow is ready behind her to snatch the crown off at a moment's notice. Brecaryn feels an attempt by the queen to take over her mind, but she is prepared this time and able to resist. She steps through the door successfully. Snow attempts to follow but is hit with electricity again. Vain enters before the door slams shut.
Alana tries the coin puzzle again. Brecaryn is able to see the letters on her side of the window, backwards. The coins dropped into the slot do not reappear, though. She picks up the paintbrush and instinctively knows what to do. She begins painting images, waiting for the party to guess what one is before continuing to the next. In the end, it is revealed that "Minotaur Loves Fish".
Having successfully solved the picture puzzles, they are rewarded by a door to the left of this room opening into a library.
Brecaryn then begins drawing anew. Her next message - "Bow to the Dragon". The royal entrance is now open and all can pass without receiving an electric jolt.
All of the items are packed into the mirror and the four prepare to leave the library. The door slams shut and a voice is heard saying, "Are these all to be graced with competency, Madam?"
Looking at the others and shrugging slightly, Brecaryn says, "Yes". All the candles in the room light and the occupants feel suddenly lightheaded. When they recover a moment later, they realize with amazement that they feel more skilled. So this was what the Chamber of Competency meant. Upon learning what happened to her companions, Alana was quite put out by the unfairness of it all. Instead of increased skills, she would have to content herself with acquiring some candles, a paint brush, a bowl, four chairs, and a desk from the rooms.
Deciding the cave was as good a place as any to spend the night, the group makes preparations for sleep. Alana finds a lever in the room where the beholder was. Pulling it reveals it controls the door at the cave entrance. Brecaryn studies the strange devices manual some more and finds a reference to a scepter that can control dragons. Finding an item like this would lessen the anxiety of the eventual showdown with Gloiterwome. Flerm, with an air of smugness, takes a paint brush and writes "Flerm wuz heer" on the wall.
As the party continued on their way the next day, it was evident that the further they walked, the warmer it became. They were quickly leaving the cooler environs of the mountains. Soon, a third marker:
HERE LIES SIR FOLNARNE DEUX HOMME SLAIN BY BURROWING DESERT ANTS!
Beyond the marker was nothing but vast amounts of sand as far as the eye could see. Not relishing the prospect of traveling in desert conditions, the group decided to camp for the night and start across the desert the next day.
Moving a little further back up the mountain, they decide to spend the night near a large, unnaturally shear wall. On Snow and Alana's watch, as the moon comes out, words appear on the wall that only Alana is able to see. It is later revealed that all the elves in the party can see the message, as well.
Merchants of Nara take note: Two days travel to the southwest will bring you to the Oasis of Sehanine Moonbow. This will be a safe place to restock your water supplies and recover from the desert harshness. Another three days travel due south from the Oasis and the human city of Al-Laqant wil be visible
Later, while Malouf and Lieralyn took their turn, a scream could be heard off in the distance, a scream that reminded Malouf of Gloiterwome's death cry.
Snow takes the position of scout as they move across the desert. Soon she begins to feel a shifting of the sand in front of her. She jumps back and tries to shout a warning to the rest of the party, but Malouf and Lieralyn are caught with Snow in newly-formed sinkhole. In the middle of the hole, the head of a giant ant can be seen protruding out. As the three desperately try to find purchase on the shifting sands, Malouf is bitten by the ant and suffers from acid in the ant's venom. Snow jumps in to aid Malouf, cracking the insect's head wide open. Malouf quickly rubs off the acid with sand before it causes too much harm.
Climbing out of the hole, they can hear skittering beneath the sand. Presumably, an entire colony of desert ants lives underneath the sand, tracking their prey by sensing the vibrations caused by anything moving over the desert surface.
Setting up a lean-to using Dragonkin masks and several cloaks, the party stops to rest during the hottest part of the day. As soon as they stop moving, the skittering also stops. The question is, how do they get across the desert without ending up ant food?
While they're debating this, the elves all notice movement from the east - a pack of 10 giant ostrich-like creatures with razor sharp beaks approaching the group at high speed. With the appearance of these creatures came an idea. If they could be captured and used as mounts, the party could travel very quickly over the desert and decrease the chances of encountering the ants.
Malouf, Snow, and Alana prepare to jump on the back of one of the axebeaks. Lieralyn takes a guarding stance while Oliver moves to the center of the group and activates the shield on his ring to surround the whole party. Flerm casts darkness above himself.
As the axebeaks charge, they cleverly break off and encircle the group before charging right smack into the shield. Oliver feels a jolt from the impact.
Alana manages to mount one, using a rope around its neck to control it. Malouf and Snow also successfully mount, but Flerm is thrown from his. Meanwhile, the remaining axebeaks surround and attack Lieralyn, Brecaryn, and Oliver. Oliver falls unconscious. Lieralyn and Brecaryn fight them off with arrows and magick. Seeing her companions in danger, Snow abandons her mount to protect the unconscious Oliver from further attacks.
In the end, all but one axebeak is killed. Flerm manages to subdue this last one enough for Malouf to attempt riding it. While Flerm and Malouf work together to control it, the rest of the party enter the mirror so that they can all travel on one bird.
By this time, night had fallen and the daytime heat begins to dissipate. As Malouf and Flerm ride the axebeak while carrying the mirror, they hear a bloodcurdling scream. Up in the sky, a brown, dragon-like creature with a scorpion tail spots the riders and swoops down for an attack.
The frightened axebeak reels in terror. Malouf barely manages to retain control. As the flying creature comes in for a second run, Malouf pulls the axebeak hard to the left at the last second and the creature smashes head first into the ground. It stands, shaken, and decides to fly off leaving Malouf and Flerm unmolested.
As early morning approaches, they see an oasis ahead. Suddenly, out of the sky, something appears, moving lightning fast, landing in front of them. The sphinx holds up its paw and the axebeak stops.
Narasimha is its name. If they can answer of two of its three riddles, it will allow them to pass. Knowing they would fare better if the whole group participated, Malouf sets the mirror down, and the rest of the party step out.
Though they try, none could think of the answer for the first, but the second and third are easier - a hole and an axe, respectively.
Narasimha is impressed and readily gives the solution to the first - a pair of boots. He now offered a boon if they could come up with a riddle he could not answer.
After spending some time thinking of it, they come up with:
What is jagged in the morning, smooth in the afternoon, and flat in the evening?
The answer being a mountain. Unable to guess, Narasimha tells them they may summon him at any time while traveling in the desert to aid them once in a fight. He then flies away and the party enter the oasis to rest.