|Session 29: Spirits and Sphinxes|
|Real World Date||Mar 15th, 2015|
|Game Date||Jun 20, Year 0|
|NPCs||spirits and sphinxes|
Session 28: The Kobold Kerfuffle
Session 30: Vague Visions and Villainous Vampires
The dungeon continues to reveal passage after winding passage. Vic planeshifts an encounter out of the session. The Party meets the ghost of one of the leading opponents of Time Magic. Namfoodle and Emilie engage in a battle of wits. Not against one another. Namfoodle would win.
The Party wakes up the next day unharmed, still in the T-intersection deep in the Octopus Temple. Last night, Namfoodle felt fingers pushing at the edges of his brain, but he did not succumb to nightmares as Vic did previously. As Isaac is falling asleep though, he sees the haunting image of the rest of the party rising to attack him. Emilie, in turn, feels as though she has died once more. And Kal has a night terror that the dungeon is flooding and they are all being drowned. This time, Vic sleeps undisturbed.
Down the darker passage connecting to the T-intersection, a cave-in completely blocks The Party’s journey. So they retrace their steps to the kobolds to venture down the only remaining passage – the one that the kobolds warned them against. Upon seeing the adventurers, the kobolds shrink together and guard their backs until the party is out of sight again. They remain silent and ignore the dino people.
So there are worms this way, apparently. So far, the only wormy thing in sight is the switchback path descending a steep incline. At the bottom lies a bridge that stretches into the darkness. But as The Party approaches, the bridge slowly grows transparent until it is completely gone. Where it used to be lies a ravine that stretches downward for a great many yards. The bridge picks up again in the distance, and continues on for the length of multiple football fields, not that the term “football fields” means anything.
Emilie drops a pebble where the bridge used to be, and it falls to the bottom of the ravine, clacking off the rocks. A low scuffling comes in response. Namfoodle urges The Party to back away so he can check something. Sure enough, the bridge returns. But as Namfoodle returns by himself, the bridge remains a bit. It lacks substance, and it collapses under Namfoodle’s weight, only to reconstitute itself when he withdraws.
Vic suggests spending several days using his Create Water spell to fill the chasm completely. The DM categorizes this plan as "ultimately successful." However, the other heroes aren't in such desperate straits as to waste the days necessary for that project. Isaac douses his light completely and touch reveals that the bridge is now solid. Everyone makes their slow way across. This is a faster solution than Vic’s, but his was a good plan B. Vic licks the bridge.
On the other side, the path continues on. So does the scuffling. Emilie guards the rear as another slope of switchbacks appears. The Party’s ears pop. Then the walls and ceiling of the tunnel angle away at the entrance of an enormous room. It is the bottom of the same ravine that the bridge spans. Emilie keeps looking out for enemies. She keeps seeing faces at the periphery of her vision. The presumed “worms” continue to burrow under the surface of the chasm. Namfoodle can speak with burrowing animals because apparently that’s a thing that gnomes do. He tells the worm(s) that the heroes are friends, but a voice replies to him “No,” insistently. So Namfoodle says “Danger. Flee. Flee. Flee,” in hopes that they will leave. So they do! But, IN the direction of The Party. And there are the sounds of footfalls. So, not worms? Confused.
The Party isn’t able to all hide in time. An elephant-sized quadruped erupts through the far tunnel in a panic. It doesn’t look like a worm at all! What gives? Vic planeshifts it to the earth plane while it’s fixated on Emilie and hey, bloodless victory. That turns out to be the only encounter this session.
The far tunnel has been dug out by the Bulette. Offshoot tunnels are crammed full of poop. The Party eventually reaches another T-intersection. They can either continue or turn left. They turn left. They find a room full of the bones of small animals. Ew. They continue.
The main tunnel eventually splits left and right perpendicularly. Vic’s Augury reveals… nothing helpful. So The Party just goes left. Eventually the path slants upward. It becomes a circular tunnel with immaculately carved octopi reliefs. Then the tunnel becomes a glass tube through the ocean. The large tower that could be seen from the beach looms ahead through the semi-translucent waters. Emilie and Isaac convince Namfoodle to let The Party go back to the fork to see where the other option leads.
The other path leads to what used to be a mage’s study. His body still lies in a corner, holding a staff and spellbook. As Namfoodle approaches, his ghost appears over the body and tells The Party that these items are not theirs to take. That’s good enough for Namfoodle, who wants to get on with the mission. But Isaac employs his honeyed words to try and convince the ghost that the staff will do more good for the world in The Party’s hands than locked in this room. But the ghost refuses.
Emilie coaxes Isaac to just drop it since Namfoodle would rather leave than anger the ghost to get the staff. But Isaac will not take “no” for an answer. He pulls out the Tome of Time, believing that it may be related to the mage’s unfinished business, since all specters that The Party has seen have been tied to it. The mage reacts dramatically, and the Tome fills Isaac with the urge to physically attack the mage. But he resists. Isaac explains the party’s quest to the mage, who is sated to hear that they plan to destroy it once it is completed. Have we ever explicitly said that? I don’t think we have. But yeah that’s what we’re doing because what kind of protagonists would our heroes be if they were just equal and opposite rivals of the evil villains?
The mage, Virqen, still will not relinquish his possessions, for purely sentimental reasons. But he does reveal some of the mythos surrounding the Tome of Time. Namely that the Tome has been imbued with the essence of an evil pioneer of Time magic, and that he will be resurrected if the Tome is completed again. Virqen was killed in an altercation with this colleague, and as a consequence, enough of his soul was forged with the Tome that he cannot move on. So he is a proper ghost, not a figment of the Tome. Isaac finally relents, and The Party returns to the glass passage.
Halfway through the tube, Namfoodle notices a trap trigger and clears the threat. It looks like the tube was rigged to open up. Yikes.
The Party arrives at the base of the crumbling tower they saw from outside the dungeon. It is better preserved on the inside than the rooms previously explored. Someone seems to appear in front of The Party and walk toward them. Around the figure, the tower returns to perfect condition. It looks like the Tome figments are beginning to act up. The party must be close. Emilie remains right in the elf’s way, confident that he will phase through her. He does not. He trips and falls, scattering books everywhere. And he fades, along with the books. Emilie is shaken and guilty. Why can these echoes be touched?
The room is large, and nature is starting to take over. Stalagmites dot the floor. On the far side, a door of petrified wood is guarded by stone sphinxes. There is also a staircase leading up along the wall, which leads to another door.
Isaac spends a long time deciding how to best cripple the sphinxes. Namfoodle sets up an ironic moment by monologuing about how they would already have come to life if they could at all until Emilie tries to open the door and the sphinxes come to life. The Party now has to answer three riddles correctly or suffer pain of death. Namfoodle cracks his knuckles and steps up to the task, but Emilie urges him to let her try too. He agrees, with reservations.
The sphinx begins its first rhyme. "You saw me where I never was, / And where I could not be. / And yet within that very place / My face you often see."
After some deliberation, the party decides this must be in reference to a reflection. The sphinx is satisfied by this response.
A second: "Reaching stiffly for the sky / I bare my fingers when it’s cold / In warmth I wear an emerald glove / And in between I dress in gold."
Emilie guesses a tree, but at the displeased look of the sphinx she corrects herself. "A deciduous tree!" The sphinx relaxes. Crisis averted.
The last riddle is told. "If you would speak my name, I’d vanish all the same."
Well it wasn’t quite like that but I closed the chat window so I can’t read it anymore. It’s silence. Alternate answer: the fourth wall.
At the utterance of the final answer, the sphinx leaps aside and becomes motionless once more, like stone SHOULD be. The doors fly open. In the next room is an enormous chamber. The heroes are stunned to find themselves in the middle of a sunny forest glen. The cave walls and ceiling are still visible, but trees and grass flourish from rich soil all around, and some sort of light source shines painfully bright light on the expanse. What is the purpose of this room? Oxygen? Mental health? Produce, even?
Elves dot the glen in a state of angry panic. They argue amongst themselves and are making a huge racket. They appear to be more a part of the material plane than previous figments have. This is probably directly linked to why Emilie was able to knock one over just a bit ago. What could be causing the figments to interact with the present? Whatever the reason, it can’t be good.