Winter Night 432 AC
World Tree the 3rd
The Platinum Depths
While travelling the arcane oceans, Liara is greeted by Mishakal. The Lady of Blue asks her to stand as her champion in coming days and gifts her with powerful relics, before seeing the Companions safely through to an underground cavern. Asked not to reveal the true nature of her task to the Companions, it is yet clear that they are given little choice in their purpose; a Goddess has greeted their arrival, and bade them follow her will… only a fool would wilfully stand against such might.
Before them, the Companions find themselves in a place unheard of since the Age of Starfire; a place they will come to call the Platinum Caverns. The smoothly worn underground stonework is seamed with rich minerals, glittering magically under the otherwise weak phosphorescent light saturating the caverns water-worn chambers.
As the arcane portal closes behind them, the Companions face several truths;
- They stand here at the will of a Goddess
- They have no way home, nor home to go to
- Their only allies appear to have fallen
- This is their first chance to rest in over 3 days of flight
Succumbing to the urgent need for rest, the group finds a discreet chamber and begins the painful act of closing open wounds, both emotional and physical. It is in this most vulnerable state that the group is discovered by a most dangerous foe; wicked imps flapping invisible through the stale cavern air. With little ceremony, the dark outsiders fall upon the group, striking with stinger and spell, hoping to overwhelm their weakened foes; had the demons struck hours earlier, they would have fared better. With a grim resolve and weary hands, the Companions strike down their deadly foe… yet Liara remains unwilling to aid them in their endeavours. Faced with questions, she reveals that she is to be tested here, and asks for the aid of the remaining Companions.
With reservation, the party seeks to restore themselves before moving forward. After hours of travelling in the complex caverns, they find themselves before an unnatural stone bridge, spanning an abyss so deep as to be black in the low ambient light. With trepidation, the group attempts to travel safely across the slick stonework by tying themselves together with rope, but misfortune strikes yet again. Distracted by what could only be the flapping of wings high above them, Crixus carelessly slips from the stonework into the dark below, dragging each of the party members (except a recalcitrant Red) following. A quickly spoken word of arcane power from Blue arrests their fall, but does not prove as effective against the sharp stalagmites standing thick along the cavern floor.
Trapped and injured, the party is rejoined by Red, and slowly they struggle their way across the expanse once more. Demonstrating true dwarven strength, Red decides the best way through an obstacle is head down and directly forwards, and noisily stomps his way through the dense stone barriers along the bottom of the cavern.
Finally, the party manages to escape the brutally treacherous expanse of stonework, and finds themselves in a five-fingered chamber of low cavern rooms. It is from here that they must aid Liara, or risk the dangers of failure.
Each chamber stands as a test to virtue, and only the worthy shall pass. Yet the first chamber stands impassable, violent and noxious liquids and gases spurting from the floor render this room nigh-impassable. With reluctance, the Companions move to the next chamber.
Nobility requires restoring a crown to a fallen Kingpriest standing amongst his peers; as this task is achieved an ancient trap is activated, forcing the party to flee an oversized boulder intended to crush those unworthy of standing before the light of the vain.
Generosity requires sharing, and the party assist in lending aid to an elderly woman trapped atop a worn walkway high above the broken cavern floors. With a hint of a smile, the cackling woman disappears into the chambers far beyond.
Integrity requires that the truth be upheld, even at the possible cost of others. A dying Kobold’s wish for aid and succour is refused because in his confusion he has mistaken one powerful artifact for another. Left to carry this curse alone, Liara spares the Kobold of the pain a lie would have wrought. Blue and Buck Wyrmseeker found themselves fascinated with the noxious properties of fungi growing around the ailing Kobold, and took the opportunity to gather samples with varying levels of caution.
Obedience proves a bitter test indeed, as a foul smell greets the party in the next chamber… with divine guidance given to her by the Lady of Blue herself, Liara is forced to watch as one after another, her companions are laid low by powerful insects capable of biting through a dwarf from asshole to breakfast in seconds. Despite grievous injuries however, the Companions are gently treated (with one notable exception), and as the air clears the powers of divine healing flow to close fresh wounds once more.
With no other recourse, the group finds itself again before the impassable room… yet now, where there were spewing liquids, there are now barely puddles and trickles. The air remains oppressive however, and the pull of dark magic carries strong hints of the unhallowed circle encompassing the room.
The pressure that was causing this room to be so volatile appears to have partially abated. The liquids in this chamber prove to remain more than volatile however, and in an unfortunate act of experimentation Buck finds himself 5 fingers shy of a wave. These dangers are further compounded when an act of careless spell use in a clearly unhallowed chamber leads to an unexpected rise of undead; with divine might the party clerics fight off this newly summoned foe, leaving a suitably chastened Red to apologise for his reckless experimentation. With considerably more caution, the other members of the party themselves take samples of the vile liquids around them, but still find themselves unable to cross safely.
Finally, chagrined at his earlier mistake and eager to prove his worth, Red resolves the final hurdle in travelling the room’s length safely. With a feat of divine strength unseen since the Whitestone was split in two, Red throws Buck’s Dragonlance deep into the far wall, trailing a line of carefully coiled rope behind it. With some caution, the party finds itself safely across, with the Dragonlance trapped firmly in the wall above (much to Buck’s frustration).
Strength stands as the only remaining challenge, and it is here that Liara finds herself ultimately tested. Before her stands an altar, and in it two simple receptacles… perfect fits for her remaining goddess-gifted relics. With no hesitation, she restores these items to their resting place, and with a burst of divine light the chamber is transformed. The party finds itself standing before Mishakal in all her deific power. With words of humble thanks, she grants the party powerful relics of their own, and thanks them for their aid. Leaving Liara to last, the goddess regrets she cannot offer the powerful relics once more, but instead offers her own simple staff and shawl to the grateful cleric. With a sudden realisation that the shawl was the same one gifted to the old woman earlier, Liara is filled with an overwhelming sense of warmth and gratitude from the beautific goddess that has guided her steps so far.
This moment ends too soon, and the party finds itself standing once more in the unadorned chambers of the cavern… but a pressing need has arisen. Above them, powerful digging noises can be heard. With haste, the party retraces their steps, hoping to discover an exit to the caverns before they are buried in them. While tactically retreating, a quick flick of arcane power from Blue covers the precious Dragonlance with enough grease for it to be retrieved from the cavern wall. This proves to be a fortuitous move as the party’s pursuer breaks through behind them, and is revealed to be a huge blue dragon! Buck notes the powerful digging action of the beast’s claws, but before he can stop to further admire the party begins to drag him back over the stone span as a blast of hot lightning strikes off the walls around them. With quick thinking and judicious use of Blue’s alchemy, the less agile members of the party are given sticky adhesive shoes to aid in their rapid retreat, and with the gentle and invisible aid of Mishakal all are safely across the stone walkway before the dragon is once more upon them!
With little recourse, Crixus offers to stand against the beast while the others retreat… and miraculously before them, a doorway appears in what was previously sealed stonework. Fighting for his life, Crixus manages to sorely wound the massive blue dragon with a punishing stab of the Dragonlance before he is flung backwards conscious but dying towards the party.
Deciding discretion is the better part of valour, the Companions flee further into the new chamber, only to discover that they have found the watercourse that leads outwards. While Buck begins to dig around in his bag, the other party members look to delay the dragon’s approach in any way they can. All seems lost and the dragon is upon them, swelling to deliver another punishing blast of his lightning breath until finally, Buck finds what he was looking for.
With a pop of magic and an irritating giggle of glee, the Widow’s Veil appears floating on the waterway before them. Wasting no time, the party retreat to the ship, only to see the mast struck down by the dragon’s vicious breath blasting the vallenwood to pieces. As the powerful bolt ricochets around the chamber, ancient eroded stone finally collapses, and the chamber is flooded with a sudden rush of water. Damaged beyond control, the party can only cling to the sides of the Veil as she is blasted from the chamber, while with a roar of frustration the blue dragon behind them begins to dig his way up and out of the now flooding caverns.
Listing and uncertain of the pursuit behind them, the Companions can only wearily watch the sky as the Widow’s Veil slowly drifts out to sea.