Finally, some time to write. We are somehow still alive, in spite of some of our best efforts otherwise (Musushi) and the booby-trapped cave we just left.
To start, after climbing/leaping down into the depths of the Great Maw we decided to stabilize Musushi and get some sleep. Rooke was nominated to keep watch, and he accepted this post without complaint. In fact, Rooke hardly said anything because he was staring at that book, the Codex of Duri, from Naphrem. Apparently he performed his duties well enough because we all survived the night.
We then began our exploration of the Illecin Delve. It isn’t a very nice place – too much gross fungi growing on all the dead things. Oh, and the traps. We came across some stupid dead orcs who had gotten impaled by spikes. Presuming the orcs didn’t throw themselves onto the spikes on purpose, we decided the corridor was likely booby-trapped. That pot I’ve been carrying around (to keep it away from Musushi) turned out to be useful – I just banged it around (using magic, obviously) the path ahead of us to ensure safe passage.
Next, we entered a room containing a stone golem and were promptly trapped by a stone door. We turned to Rooke to ask him to check the Codex to see if the heart of stone might be in this golem. The answer was No, but it wasn’t Rooke who was talking. Well, it was, but he was kind of possessed by the Codex… Anyways, weird. I became rather concerned, as there was a starved orc inside this room who had clearly not been able to escape. Layla, out of the goodness of her heart (far too generous, I don’t understand her sometimes), attempted to give the orc some food (which we should have saved for ourselves, seeing how we were trapped) but Musushi decided to grab the food back from the orc because he wanted to ask it some questions first. This give and take of food did not sit well with the orc, and it was obviously angry. So we had to kill it. I think Layla was mad about this… but we had bigger problems to deal with, because it turned out that the stone golem wanted us to answer a riddle. And he wasn’t very nice about it. Musushi and I argued about the answer and even though we were BRAINSTORMING the golem decided to just attack us with lightning. Thankfully Layla gave it the correct answer. The door opened, and we escaped.
We escaped into a hallway that floods with very little warning. My shoes got wet (not okay) which I immediately noticed, and this gave me a good running head start. We barely made it to safety, which happened to be another room with a very heavy stone door. In the center of the room was a clock-like device that began counting down from 12. As the count down continued, the panic in our group increased. We pulled a lever attached to the clock, and this reset the countdown. This was repeated many, many, MANY times as I had to keep pulling the lever while everyone else relaxed. I came to believe that this lever was a trick and distraction meant to keep us in the room. Also I was tired of pulling the lever. It took many tries to convince everyone to let the clock count all the way down to 0… but finally it happened. Lo and behold, we escaped.
More traps and tricks followed until we reached a narrow stone path leading into a void of darkness. We bravely continued on until we were met by a large boulder that took up the entire width of our path. It approached us when we approached it. It seemed to be mimicking the movements of the person in front… This was a tricky puzzle, but Layla (she’s pretty smart) had the excellent idea of using her owl to lead our group. The owl plan worked, and as the owl flew to the side of the path, the boulder tipped off over the edge. Our way forward was clear.
Rooke/Codex took charge at this point, leading us through another set of (fake?) booby traps into a large empty room. Empty except for one large stone golem, with a sparkling stone hanging around its neck. We immediately believed this was the heart of stone. Musushi climbed up the golem and reached for the stone, which awakened the golem. It didn’t like us. Layla’s owl retrieved the shiny stone hanging around its neck, but the battle was going rather poorly with poor Kayras taking most of the damage. Miraculously (praise whatever gods were watching and caring), Thomas awoke at precisely the moment we needed him. Rejuvenated, he grabbed his longbow and shot off his arrows, some of which hit the golem directly where the stone used to be. Defeated, the golem sank to the ground. At this point we thought we had already gotten the stone via Layla’s magic owl, but Rooke/Codex told us that we were wrong. The Codex of Duri (the book) began to talk to us… yes, a book… and it told us that it (the book) was actually the golem we just defeated, and he also used to be some sort of shamen who trapped the heart of the world in his physical form. It’s all a lot to take in and keep track of, but basically we figured out that we needed to dig around inside the fallen golem for the REAL stone. We found it! We asked the Codex of Duri what we should do with the stone, and he responded by showing us ancient visions of shamens using the stone to fight back demons. Quite a handy artifact.
Our last task was to figure out how to LEAVE, no easy task considering a large orc encampment surrounded our exit. Sir Thomas, fully recovered from his bout with postofficius, valiantly volunteered to be our ambassador to the orcs and parley with them. Through a combination of flattery, showmanship, and lies, Thomas managed to convince Drekha that the shiny stone was the real heart of stone AKA the heart of the world AND that we were offering it to him because he is soooo cool. This pleased Drekha greatly, and appeared to give him and his followers a big moral boost right before heading into battle with Uzgash. Perfect timing, and a great way for us to make a discrete exit.
We are now in our way to the city of Gemoor on the coast. Who knows what we will find there, but hopefully we can find out where some of the Nine Eyes of Cyric have been sent and use our new weapon to defeat them. I hope I can also get word of Roger. I miss him.