Riddles

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Once the ghost is gone, Phaedra examines the door to the right. It opens into a room with a sarcophagus. The cleric tells her brother to use his wand to see if the coffin has been tampered with. There seems to be no magic trap, so Lilith slides the lid to the side: the sarcophagus is empty. Behind the second door is an ornate sarcophagus, and when Lilith opens it, the remains of a decomposed body are exposed, two rings still wrapped around the finger bones. One is an expensive family ring with a pearl, which looks familiar to Jharrath. The other ring is magic. The cleric breaks off the skeleton’s fingers and removes the rings.

Whomever despoils this tomb is defiled by demons seven days hence.

A voice resonates through the room. Lilith pours some holy water over the corpse, but nothing happens. Yet.

Two closed double doors remain, and the scout takes her time to examine them. The wood is beautifully carved. When she opens them, she sees eleven statues of drow males, soldiers with full gear, attached to a wooden platform. In the middle stands a large chest, inlaid with gold. Lilith wipes the dust off each of the statue’s plinths to reveal arcane writing. Jharrath uses his spell read magic, upon which the letters rearrange themselves to words.

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The eleven plinths read:

  1. At night I come without being fetched, at day I am gone without being stolen.
  2. No beginning. No end. I am a symbol of the world’s cycles.
  3. Two brothers we are, great burdens we bear, all day we are bitterly pressed; yet this I will say – We are full all the day, and empty when we go to rest.
  4. Here, in this place, you swallow me. Yet, were I more, I could swallow you.
  5. I have seen the mountains rise. I have seen the fall of Netheril. You shall die but still shall I march on.
  6. To those within the dungeon I am joy. To those fully beneath my gaze, I can be hell.
  7. I will save your life yet you can die by me. I will settle disputes yet not with words.
  8. Name me and so shall you break me.
  9. Always do I tell the truth, yet cannot speak. Look to me and see what really is.
  10. I have two heads but one body. The more I stand still the faster I run.
  11. Try to defeat me but try in vain. When I win I end your pain.

The only way to move forward is to solve these puzzles. Phaedra has no trouble opening the beautiful padlock of the chest. Inside are eleven objects, and they seem to be the possible answers to the riddles on the plinths. Together the siblings decide which object belongs to what soldier and Jharrath and Lilith place them on the platforms.

  1. Star medallion
  2. Golden circlet
  3. Worn out boots
  4. Jar of water
  5. Sundial
  6. Sun medallion
  7. Sword
  8. Gagged man
  9. Mirror
  10. Hourglass
  11. Grinning skull

As soon as the last object has been placed in front of the statues, Alvra notices a glow emanating from the chest. It has been filled again! He calls out to his cleric sister. Lilith discovers a leather belt; a dagger that ends in a barb made of obsidian glass; a large shiny spiked chain and a pair of bracers. She asks Jharrath if he can identify them. The dagger seems to be made by drow, since a spiderweb is engraved in the weapon, as well as in the spiked chain. The bracers seem to be arcane.

Lilith gives the spiked chain to her sister, and then hands the other objects over to Alvra. As long as they are not properly identified, the belt, dagger and bracers are not to be used.

The Portal

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The Matron Mother eagerly awaits their return, so the four siblings leave the Steelshadow mansion as soon as they have rested a bit, the men carrying the treasure chest and Phaedra holding on to the gems. They only stop at the Hammer & Anvil Inn to pick up their lizards. The beasts seem to be in excellent condition. They thank Ivar for taking good care of their animals and then set out into the Underdark, riding the big reptiles in single file. 

The Xaniqos cross the bridge, looking imposing but none too glorious. The Cleric is wearing shards of her burned robe and ill fitting dwarven armor. Still she likes the feeling of riding above the crowds in the streets; it is rather comfortable to travel this way. Alvra is an excellent rider and Phaedra and Jharrath also manage quite well. The lizards stay calm and are well trained, even in the ruckus of the busy bridge. They travel to the south of the town and set out into a remote area, south-east of Dunspeirrin. With the map, Lilith leads the way to the portal that will take them back to Looblishar and consults her sister every now and then to double checks if they still head in the right direction. Their mounts don’t seem to tire and the Underdark passages provide enough insects and fungi to feed them.

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After a while the path gets rougher and it leads them towards a passage: an arc, twenty feet wide and very high. It is surrounded by walls and there’s no other way to pass than underneath the arc. It seems like they have arrived at the portal. The siblings stop at a safe distance and first take a short break. They secure the lizards there. When they proceed towards the arc, their vision is blurred, the closer they come to the entrance. At ten feet distance, there seems to be a streaming curtain of mercury in front of it and at five foot distance it resembles a mirror. Suddenly a mouth, then a head becomes visible in the mercury mirror, though nothing else happens.

Lilith tries out several passwords, like ‘Looblishar’ and ‘Steelshadow’, but to no avail. Then her sister says ‘We want passage’ in Duergar. A voice answers from afar and tells them they first need to solve ten riddles. Seven will grant them passage, ten means passing without harm.

Question 1:
I can have no color, though there may be darkness within. I have no weight and hold nothing, and if placed in a container it becomes lighter.

The Drow decide on the answer Space, which alas is incorrect. The correct answer was Hole.

Question 2:
Of all your possessions, I am the hardest to guard. If you have me, you will want to share me. If you share me, you no longer have me.

To their delight, they have the right reply now: Secret.

Question 3:
Alive as you but without breath, as cold in my life as in my death; never a thirst though. I always drink dressed in a mail but never a cling.

Again they know the correct answer: Fish.

Question 4:
I am free for the taking through all of your life, though given but once at birth. I am less than nothing in weight, but will fell the strongest of you if held.

Their answer is assessed as positive: Breath.

Question 5:
They flow and leap, but only as you pass. Dress yourself in darkest black, and they are darker still. Always they flee in the light, though without the sun there would be none.

And again: Shadows.

Question 6:
They come to witness the night without being called, a sailor’s guide and a poet’s tears. They are lost to sight each day without the hand of a thief.

Their fifth good answer: Stars.

The Xaniqos breath a little easier at this point. But then…

Question 7:
The more that there is, the less that you see. Squint all you wish when surrounded by me.

After a long discussion, the Drow decide on Mist, but the voice tells them the answer should have been Darkness. They have only one mistake to spare to gain access to Looblishar, and the tension grows worse.

Question 8:
The life I lead is mere hours or less, I serve all my time by being consumed. I am quickest when thin, slowest when fat, and wind is the bane of the gift that I bring.

The answer Candle is correct!

Question 9:
A spirited jig it dances bright, banishing all but darkest night. Give it food and it will live, give it water and it will die.

Though their solution Flame is on the track, the right and only answer is Fire. No more mistakes!

Question 10:
Lighter than what I am made of, more of me is hidden than is seen, I am the bane of the mariner, a tooth within the sea. Speak my name.

Fortunately they manage to solve this riddle together, and tell the voice it’s Ice. And that is correct.

They have gained access! The mouth says ‘You may pass’ and then disappears. All that is left is a void. Alvra mounts his lizard and Phaedra takes hold of the others, which are connected by a rope. When the portal doesn’t open and nothing else happens either, Lilith walks towards it… and sees a small thorny head poking through that looks malignantly at her. When she consults the Wizard about the creature, Jharrath tells her that it reminds him of a portal drake, small dragons that live in and near portals. They love to attack travelers who use the portals. Seems he is right.

portal drake

The little creature flies from the portal, accompanied by two other drakes. They are light gray, four feet long and have razor sharp teeth, as the Cleric is about to find out. One of them is attracted by Lilith’s weapon and it bites her arm. Another uses its spell-like ability and shimmers in the air. They converse in Draconic, figuring out some kind of strategy, and laugh in anticipation.

Jharrath summons a salt mephit and orders it to attack one of the drakes with a ten feet cone of salt crystals. Though its victim is angry, it doesn’t seem hurt. Alvra’s javelin has more effect and hits one of the portal drakes. It counterattacks with a cone gas attack from its snout, but stops when it is hit by a bolt from the Scout’s crossbow. The animal is not amused. Another gas attack hits the Fighter and the Salt Mephit, and both feel weaker and seem to lose strength. Lilith’s flail scores a hit on the one that has been gnawing her arm.

Suddenly there are four drakes where first there was only one; seems they know the spell Mirror Image as well as Blur. Alvra takes his two-edged sword and steers his lizard towards the drake that is hovering over him. His mount attacks with its claws and all of a sudden the mirror images disappear: the attack has taken the drake by surprise. Now all go into a frenzy to hit each other but they alll miss. When the salt mephit’s opponent evades its attacks, the Drow Wizard sends a Kelgore’s Firebolt. Try to evade that! He wounds one of the drakes heavily and it warns the others about Jharrath. Seems like they are magical creatures indeed.

Lilith is still fighting ‘her’ drake and hits it well with her flail and a fire burst. In reaction the beast again bites her shoulder and its teeth sink deep into her skin. Big mistake! Enraged, the Cleric beats the creature to pulp, while another Firebolt finishes off Jharrath’s opponent. Alvra’s lizard strikes with its claws and takes down the last drake from the air. The Drow Fighter cuts the body into tiny pieces before it hits the ground and then jumps down to retrieve his javelin.

The portal is clear!

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