A Deadly Meadow
Posted by grimdarkly
Our heroes awaken to find themselves in a forest. They have no recollection of how they arrived here, and are unsure where they are. Rummaging through her bag, The Beholder finds a mysterious owl statuette. It has emerald eyes and exquisite craftsmanship. Looking around them, they see thick trees side by side, forming artificial walls in the forest. A stony, cobble path that has cracked with age, is nearby. They begin following it. It is broad daylight, and despite being in these beautiful, lush woods, they can’t help but feel an overbearing of a sinister presence.
“Where the hell are we?” Chuck Norris asked.
Nander Gruff had an idea, and in a deep voice, replied “Nander Gruff thinks we’re in the Briarpatch Woods. There’s nothing really dangerous here, aside from a few Phangshrubs and bandits.
“Good”, spoke The Beholder, “The less dangerous, the faster we will progress. Time is our greatest enemy at the moment”.
Travelling along the path, they were careful not to stray off it. After heading someway through the forest, they came across a ladder leading down into darkness.
“Is it really a good idea to go down this hole?” asked N. Greyford.
Cleve, at the back of the group, said in an almost offended tone “Darkness is not as bad as it’s made out to be: the hole may contain something critical to our mission”.
One by one, they descended, and found that their surroundings were peaceful.
“Rats.” said Nander.
They found that they were in a sanctuary with many long corridors and hidden passages. Stone signs on the walls said they were in “The Shrine of the Raptor”. A small altar laid in front of them.
“This alter looks important”, said Delia. “Perhaps we should try placing something on it?”
“What about the Owl statuette? It obviously does something”, said N. Greyford.
They placed it on the altar, and sure enough, the wall faded away to reveal a secret room. On the left, a magic fountain that invigorated all that drank from it, and on the right, a chest filled useful items and oddities, the strangest being a mysterious staff.
“That’s a Caduceus of Life”, Whispered Delia. “It can bring the dead back to life, with no side effects.”
“I hope we won’t need it.”
A sign next to the chest said:
“Welcome to Hyperborea, please help yourself to complimentary travel gifts in chest.”
After exploring the dungeon’s many rooms, they finally came to one that was definitely significant to their quest. A wall filled with runes and symbols taunted them.
“Anyone read Gibberish?” asked Chuck.
“It’s Hyperborean script”, stated The Beholder. “It says:
Mine talon sets word in prose to say, Nine tabula writ I to lead the way. The first of Time and Entropy, is held secure by aerial lofted key. I writ thee… Lachesis.
“Look”, said Chuck, “I solve my problems by kicking people, not deciphering riddles. What does it mean?”
They all looked at The Beholder, before being unnerved by her great giant eye.
“Well, it sounds like it is referring to nine stone tablets, that each represent something. The first tablet is “held secure by aerial lofted key”… your guess it as good as mine for that part. As for Lachesis, I’d say it would be reasonable to assume that refers to either the name of the tablet, or something that is associated with it.”
X. Greyford, although usually quiet and subtle, spoke out at these pieces of information.
“We were supposed to find a “magical clock”, wind it, and then the quest would be over. Now we have to collect nine stone tablets?”
“Patience, brother”, said N. Greyford.
Some of the more warrior-like party members began expressing their displeasure.
“Nander Gruff wants to go back to his house. You promised Nander Gruff a big juicy ham for finding this “clock”, and then he could go home.”
“We already found you a ham in that chest.”
“That small ham did not sate Nander Gruff, he refuses to leave until he receives a large, juicy ham.”
Through out all the commotion, Cleve slipped on a damp part of the floor, and slapped the wall in an effort to prevent himself from falling. Once again, the wall opened, revealing another secret room.
Mariel restored order to the room.
“Shut up, Nander, I’ll get you as many damn hams as you want when our quest is finished. Unlike you, I chose gold as my reward, which can be used for plenty of things, ham purchasing none the least. And if the rest of you didn’t realise, Cleve found another secret room.”
They wandered into the room, and discovered stone signs detailing the other eight tablets.
“Within the depths of the Ziggurart, this tablet in shadow rescquiat. To retrieve it thou shalt expiate, the beast who feasts on sins he ate. I writ thee… Nemesis.”
As if the first riddle wasn’t complicated enough, the others flung them into a spiral of confusion.
“This tablet is given to evil Queen. She dwells in darkness, sight unseen. Her fertility and offspring royal, shall hold my stone in safety loyal. I writ thee… Arachne.”
N. Greyford was alarmed at hearing this.
“Well, you don’t have to be a genius to figure that one out: that particular tablet is guarded by some sort of “Spider Queen” and her offspring… I really hate spiders.”
“Nander Gruff likes these riddles, read him another.”
“Water dwellers preserve my tokens: A secret traced and never spoken. The emblems of the scaly clan, are drawn upon the burning sand. I writ thee… Scylla.”
“Hrmm, Nander Gruff’s guess is that more information about these “mermaids”, is located in a desert somewhere.”
“Who says they’re mermaids? They could be horrible sea monsters!” said Cleve.
They traveled methodically through the room, examining each set of riddles. The second last one was the most ominous.
“To demons I cast thee tablet mine, who trapped within the spike do pine. For freedom to rage upon the land, deferring not to mortal man. I writ thee… Thanatos.”
“Demons”, said Cleve “Even I hate demons, and I’m a necromancer. A friendly demon would be quite a sight to see. I really hope we don’t have to travel to the infernal plane to retrieve that tablet.”
Scribing down each of the riddles before returning to the surface that was the forest, our heroes feared that this quest might not be as simple and straightforward as initially told.