The party rides the sand raft across the desert, blown by gentle breezes. They see birds circling in the distance, but decide to press on.
After a week of hard travel, a rumble in the distance grows closer until a herd of two-legged beasts comes stampeding over the nearest dune.
With a look of fear, Mena halts the raft, and says to us, “Dia, Dia!” as she points the back of the raft facing upwards.
Taksum realizes that she wants us to uncleat the sails, and Taksum does, to her relief.
Moments later, a giant sandworm bursts out of the ground and feasts on the beasts, right where the raft was headed. We watch the massacre and carefully maneuver away and onward.
We come to realize that Mena is an excellent forager, allowing us to complement our rations with desert fodder. As she sails, she teaches us some nautical terms and we learn to converse on a basic level with her.
Later, we see a stone tower off in the distance. We approach cautiously, and it is a well-crafted tower, approximately 4 stories high, towering into the desert sky.
Upon parking the raft, the group approaches, and sees a metal door with a slit at Ilek’s eye level. We notice something strange at the top of the tower. It could be a weapon or a spyglass, and it’s pointing upward.
Ilek knocks. A gravelly voice says, “are you prepared?” And Ilek says, No.
The door opens and a golem is standing on the other side. This circular room almost looks to have a solar system spinning around in the middle. There is a gnome in the middle, scurrying around, preoccupied with something.
Ilek goes first, Taksum goes in second, and Sariel’s shoulders and hips seem to be blocked, despite the very clear space the door offers. She tries again and also gets stuck. The gnome says, “In our out! It’s coming!” He tells us that there is a sandstorm blowing towards us.
The group figures out figure out that the limitation is height, so the others sit on each others’ shoulders and awkwardly saunter into the room.
The center of the room holds what seems to be a rotating model of the primary plane, with four elemental planes circling around it. In the far distance, they can see the Feywild and Shadowmeld spinning slowly.
Metal cords are spinning around, encasing the whole thing like a weave.
The Gnome introduces himself as Bilxim.
As Sariel walks by, he grabs her by the wrist, and says, “look through here!” She looks through an eyeglass and sees the sandstorm swirling outside.
Bilxim says that his recent hobby is sandstorms. He has been studying them for 17 years. Sariel asks him if that’s why he has windows.
“The sandstorms in this desert are different than other desserts. I feel like they are created by magic, but I can’t prove it. Is it a desert god? Is it a brown dragon that is coughing up the storms?” He seems frustrated. Sariel looks again, and nothing about the sandstorm looks special, and she should know as the group’s resident expert on sandstorms.
He questions Sariel, “Are you sure you’ve been in school?”
He pushes Sariel aside, and grabs Taksum, “You look!”
Ilek looks as well, and there is nothing special.
Bilxim gestures to the planar model. “That’s my old hobby. I get back to it now and again, but sometimes I get bored.” He says, “I’m trying to map out our world.”
“Gods are restless. Some are trying to make moves, but no one knows what to do next. There’s an unknown force in the Feywild, and I’m worried it’s going to become tainted.”
Sariel looks concerned. “Tainted?”
Bilxim continues, “But why would anyone want to attack the Feywild?”
The group recalls that once upon a time someone tried to attack the tree of life to abuse its powers, and that the only ones who have ever tried to attack the Feywild are demons. They wanted to destroy the realms.
“It doesn’t feel like demons though. That’s what’s strange about it – the power feels alien. But oh! the Familiar – that’s all I’m hearing through the grapevine. Not sure what it means, though.”
“Do you know that the whole world started with one seed? It was just one seed, floating in space, and then it germinated into the Feywild – the positive energy. But the positive drew a negative, and the Shadowmeld was created to balance it out.”
“That’s why we have the hole of Tartarus. When you die, you go to the hole of Tartarus.”
He points to the bubble of mesh. “This is the bubble, almost like a protective layer. Only with magic can you see it. Do you know why the outer beings are more powerful than we are? They were closer to chaos when they were created.”
We ask about help/information on our quest.
“Bravos has a bit of political instability. I hear that there are some merfolk who are getting rowdy. It’s all down low, though, very few people know about it. I feel that you guys are important. Remember to keep your mind open, not like this guy, and points to the golem.”
The sandstorm clears, and Ilek goes to look through the telescope, but can’t see anything since it’s daytime.
As we depart, he says to Ilek, “Remember what you say to kids. Don’t trust strangers. Or is it, ‘take that out of your mouth.’ ”
When we leave, the raft is waiting, and upon turning around, the tower is gone. As we get our bearings of this new location, we see a structure, a hexagon-shaped building. It is jet black, almost absorbing the sunlight.
We decide to go to the hexagon, and Mena says, “old.” Sariel asks, “Magic?” She shrugs and says, “Maybe. Old old.” It is a giant hexagonal monolith, with a hexagonal entrance in one side. It is made of sleek black stone – like marble but not. Mena says, “I stay here.”
We walk down the hallway, and there’s a room with an unlit brazier next to the entrance. There is a statue of a heavy knight, made out of a different kind of rock. There are shelves lining the walls, with different statues of heads made out of rock, and ornaments.
The knight has a necklace of three keys which seems out of place.
After looking around, we see another door, which is locked.
There isn’t much in the room except a bookshelf. The books are very old and dusty. Ilek searches the shelves, and finds a lizard head that seems to be facing the statue and more nicely carved. There are several more heads. The party turns them all away, but nothing happens.
They then turn the knight statue, and it un-petrifies and ages before them.
The knight falls to the ground and says, “It’s not worth it. They’re too wise.” He dies.
Ilek asks, “Did he say, ‘their two eyes,’ or ‘they’re too wise?’ ”
They collect the key from the knight’s corpse and enter the next room.
The next room has a collection of creatures – possibly statues or more frozen beings. They are all old races – before the age of chaos. No humans.
There are three stones in the next room – red, blue, yellow.
There is an open exit into the following room. Beside the exit is a plaque that reads:
At my feet lies three stones to hold dear.
The source of three gifts that no one should bear.
The keeper of secrets; the guardians of exits.
Let the guessing begin because shit’s gonna get hectic.
Taksum picks up one of the stones, and it becomes evident that he can only speak when someone else speaks.
Upon recognizing the nature of the curse, it is broken.
Sariel picks up the next stone, and when anyone speaks (including herself), she is in pain.
Ilek picks up a stone as well. His “curse” was to verbally disagrees with anyone causing pain – to someone else or to themselves.
After recognition of the other two curses, we can leave the chamber.
We continue down the hallway and the wall has hexagonal holes. There is a pool in the middle, almost like a barrel, with a mist covering it, but it looks like there’s liquid under the mist. There’s an inscription that says, “We were blessed with everything, but the world took it from us.”
There is a symbol of two snakes around a stick. There is an inscription below that reads, “Reach in for what you want, but then you will be one of us.”
Sariel reaches in, wishing for a magical short sword, and she draws exactly that out of the water. But a buzzing begins to emerge from the hexagonal holes, and swarms of metal wasps fly out towards the heroes.
They flee the hexagonal tomb and frantically tell Mena to start the raft.
They sail for hours and hours, with the huge swarm of wasps in their wake, until they spy a village. They make for the village, and they see the villagers running frantically to long boats as they see the approaching swarm.
Everyone in the village jumps into the boats, beckoning to the party to join them. After a bit of hesitation, the party accepts and they paddle off, the swarm being unable to fly over water.
On the boat, there is a child eating a beetle. He offers some to Taksum. Taksum takes a bite of one of the beetles, and the father slaps it out of his hand and smacks the child. He looks concerned for Taksum.
The old man shouts at Taksum, and says, “YOU ATE THE BEETLE?” We are all trapped here because of that beetle. We have been here for 300 years eating beetles!