A Dark God Arises

The Vault of Heritage

The land of Bysynth was in a state of celebration. The next heir to the throne was finally old enough to attempt the quest through the Vault of Heritage. She must pass through the trials within to prove herself worthy of the throne and return with the Scroll of Mithral. The time had come for Nephelle to rally to her side a number of chosen heroes and follow the hidden markers to a valley containing a temple buried into the cliff face.

The group is comprised of Nephelle, Rothelar, Davik Windblade, Brand, Dreyhan, Bast, Fiona, and Gwyn. Each having acquiesced to the request of the Empress to assist Nephelle in this quest. They approached the large doors of the temple which are barred with the royal symbol of Bysynth. Nephelle steps forward and recites the ritual phrase, “I will be tested by the foresight of my ancestors.” At her words, the symbol splits in half, and the doors swing open.

They walk through the doorway into a room lit by torches mounted on the walls. The light reveals a large room with a map of Southern Sentali embedded in the floor. Seven statues surround the map staring greedily upon the image below. Between the statues and the map there are words inscribed onto the floor. The group moves closer and Bast reads,

Never forget my children that we are surrounded by those who covet our land
Always must the house of Bysynth stand ready to protect that which is ours.

Nephelle reads the inscription then moves past it to examine the map. As she steps across the words, the doors behind them slam shut and the statues grind to life. The Agents spring into action, casting spells, swinging blades, and attacking with claws. Stone chips fly off the statues as they attack in turn, dealing heavy blows with stone axes and casting spells of their own. For several tense minutes, only the sounds of combat could be heard in the room until the first statue was defeated. It disengaged and moved back to its pedestal and resumed its initial pose. With one bested, the rest fell quickly, each finding their pedestals and becoming motionless once again.

The group breathed a collective sigh of relief and checked themselves for wounds. They now see two separate paths leading from the room. Just as they started to discuss which they would take, the middle section of the floor rose to the ceiling, effectively splitting the group. On either side of the newly formed wall there was only one exit.

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Dreyhan, Bast, Brand, and Gwyn looked at each other perplexedly. Gwyn banged on the wall to see if they could communicate with the rest of their party, but it was no use. They kept their weapons drawn and went through the open doorway.

The hallway they enter is also lit with torches. It’s a long, straight walk with a door at the far end. They head for the door, passing an open archway to the side along the way. The door refuses to budge, despite their attempts to force the lock. They move back to the archway and peer into the room.

The room contains a picture inlaid into the floor with silver and gold. In the far corner of the room, they can make out a table with what appears to be stacks of golden cubes on it. They notice there are also stacks of varying height of the same golden cubes lying on the picture. On the floor in front of the image, they can make out the words, Test of Law. Hesitantly they step into the room. As soon as the last person enters, a door drops from the ceiling, sealing the exit. A voice fills the room,

Rulership is more than strength of arms. It is strength of mind. The rulers and councils of Bysynth must be fit in both.
If merchants, in an attempt to make theft easier to detect, stack their gold in such a manner that no pile is ever left empty, nor stacked higher than seven, and so that each row and column contains one stack of each height, some being required to be higher or lower than those next to them, how would the merchants stack them?

As the echoes of the voice dissipate, the group notices a mist slowly filling the room. They move to the picture and examine it more closely.

Next_VaultOfHeritagePuzzle.jpg

They struggled through the puzzle, moving stacks of the gold cubes from the table onto the floor. As they did so, they would have to frequently stop and cough from the mist that was continuing to rise around them. There were a couple of times they didn’t know how to proceed, but invariably one of them would make an outstanding deduction and they’d get back to work.

When they put the last stack of cubes onto the last tile, they paused for a moment, looking at each other as if to ask, “Now what?” Suddenly the poisonous mist, which had risen to be chest high, was suddenly sucked from the room and the door they had come through was opened. They looked at it, then heard a grating sound from behind them. Turning, they saw a section of wall move to the side, revealing another short hallway.

They walk through it and realized that the locked door also exited into this room, for it was standing open to their right as they entered into sunlight. They squint at the bright blue skies overhead and breath in the smell of grass and fresh air. Ahead of them are large, rolling hills. Dreyhan looks down and sees the words, “Room of the Beasts” inscribed in the soil. A moment later, they hear a voice around them intone,

Always dark magics and entities have corrupted the natural world. The corruption can take hold anywhere: abroad or within the borders of our land. Always you must be vigilant to stave off their attacks and influence!

On the heels of the voice is the sound of thundering hooves. Cresting the hill closest to them is a band of beastmen. Having been seen, the four ready themselves for battle. The leader of the band is riding a giant tiger, and it springs into motion, followed by three other beastmen on horseback. Bast loosed an arrow at one of those on horseback, and the bolt catches the rider in the eye, knocking him off his saddle, dead before he hit the ground. Dreyhan is a blur of motion and he flies at another rider, pulling him out of his saddle and dealing several rapid blows with his claws. Hands bloodied, he leaves the fallen and moves toward the next. The tiger the leader is riding upon lashes out with his ferocious claws and takes a chunk out of Gwyn’s armor while the leader casts a spell upon Brand. Whether it was due to the spell or the shifting cat beneath him, he was distracted enough to not notice Bast until her twin blades poked our through his chest. He slid off the tiger who bounded away, freed from her cruel master. The final beastman fell quickly to the group, and as he breathed his last, the hills and blue sky faded away and the group realized they were standing in a huge cavern. They cleaned their blades and claws then moved toward the now visible archway at the far end of the chamber.

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Rothelar, Nephelle, Davik, and Fiona….

Test of Wisdom
Room of the Dead

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The two groups entered the massive chamber at about the same time, each stepping over the words, “The Room of the Outer Dark” etched into the floor. Between the two groups was a massive, shallow bowl set into the ground. In the center of the impression was a large, silver orb, casting soft light into the rest of the room. At first glance, the ground leading down to the orb was incredibly rough. Those who looked closer, saw that the ground was actually a relief carving of thousands of demons attacking the silver orb. The group moved into the room, stepping on the heads and hands of the stone demons. The now-familiar voice speaks to them,

Greatest still is the threat to the world from beyond. Dark alliances in the land are forged with blood-soaked pacts. Daemons from beyond the veil seek ingress into our world, and all who live here are threatened by them.

At the last word, seven stone demons crawled out of the ground and launched into attack. Rothelar, Nephelle, Davik, and Fiona took heavy blows, removing most of them from the fight. The spell cast by one of the demons lessened the air-pressure surrounding Rothelar enough to cause one of his eyes to explode outward, the pain and agony of which knocked him senseless. Separated by the entire room, the rest of the party did their best to fight through those closest to them to give aid. Bast’s blades scored deep lines into the statues, and Dreyhan was a blur, landing blow after blow. Brand took a more direct route to aid his companions and ran onto the smooth orb. Dreyhan was hit savagely and fell to his knees, shaking his shaggy head to stop the room from spinning. Staggering to his feet, he launched himself back into battle.

What seemed like hours passed, but finally the last stone demon crawled back into its slot in the floor and silence settled on the group. A grinding sound echoed through the room and an alcove appeared in the back of the chamber. Those left standing went and gave aid to those who had been knocked unconscious before moving as a group toward the alcove.

Stepping inside, they see a Mithral Statue of Bysynth. In his outstretched hands lies a long scroll case. The statue’s mouth moves and they hear an all-too-familiar voice speak,

Long have I guarded the treasure of our people. Return it to Cyntyr and present it to he who sent you here. Return it when you are finished so that it may away the next heir and the dread purpose for which it was created. May you rule with wisdom and power.

Nephelle carefully took the scroll case from the statue and slung it over her back using the attached straps. Nodding at the group, she led the way from the temple.

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