After the riddles were successfully answered by Team 11, Flako the Face offer the capable party a reward for helping find his stone hand, Grum.
Having passed the great vine monster in the chamber with the missing constellation and solved the puzzle of the poles to get through the water spiked crossing the team of recruits now finds themselves in front of a stone face that blocks the passage forward. In a gruff, grinding old man’s voice the face speaks:
- “Hey – more recruits. The wizards said I should only let you through if you use that brain of yours to answer a few riddles. I’m Falko the Face and if you answer three riddles I’ll move to let you pass. If you fail, you’ll have to beg for the wizards to come help you out of this dungeon cuz I’m not moving…”
Without much choice the party agrees to Falko’s game of riddles. He asks them:
- The person who makes it, sells it. The person who buys it never uses it and the person who uses it doesn’t know they are. What is it?
- The more you have of it, the less you see. What is it?
- What’s black when you get it, red when you use it, and white when you’re all through with it?
Having answered Falko’s three riddles he explains they’re free to pass. But because he’s so bored down here he offers the recruits a chance to win something extra if they answer several more riddles. If they answer two they get some coin to line their pockets, three and they get a minor item of arcane enchantment, and if they answer a fourth riddle they can have his prized Graver’s Key – a special artifact left by the cultist that once occupied and expanded this region of the underground halls. With Nat and Gnarl having expertly answered the first three riddles they decide to see just how hard the next few could be…
- You throw away the outside and cook the inside. Then you eat the outside and throw away the inside. What did you eat?
An ear of corn.
- I never was, am always to be. No one ever saw me, nor ever will. And yet I am the confidence of man, To live and breath on this sundered land. What am I?
Tomorrow or the future.
- It is greater than God and more evil than the devil. The poor have it, the rich need it and if you eat it you’ll die. What is it?
Nothing. Nothing is greater than God, nothing is more evil than the devil, the poor have nothing, the rich need nothing and if you eat nothing you’ll die.
- Until I am measured… I am not known, Yet how you miss me…When I have flown.
Having successfully answer every riddle that Falko the Face can produce the party gains entry to the halls beyond and take from an alcove the Falko opens with a word the fruits of their mental labor. Quite impressed, Falko the Face then offers the party another reward for something more personal:
- “Because you did so well with the riddles and everything I was hoping you might do me a bit of a favor. I’ve lost track of my hand…my right hand to be exact. Several days ago it was out searching the forbidden caves for remnants of the cult that once used many parts of this vast complex. I’m going to adjust the area you next go into – it’s a little off the beaten path for college training but a group as capable as you could take a little more excitement, right? If you find my hand send it back here and make sure to scold it good …my precious left hand shouldn’t have to do all the heavy lifting down here.”
Falko the Face offers the group a sizable reward in gold (500gp) if they bring back his right hand. Seeing no down side to this but not sure if “off the beaten path” is worth the gold they accept Falko’s offer to track down his lost stone hand. To aid them Falko gives them a small stone that shines with a blue light similar to those they’ve seen embedded in the walls along these underground tunnels. He explains it to be a key to shifting the halls ahead – a diversion to the way the Keepers have laid out for the testing grounds.
Past the stone face of Falko the group sees an alcove where a large stone hand (the size of a large dog) with a bunch of bones and bone dust sits on a plush pillow – there is only one bed in this alcove with no sign of the other hands resting place.
The hall leads to a square chamber of finely crafted stone with shelves in corners, pedestals standing in the center, lines carved in various colors on the floor and a series of vents arrayed around the room. An imposing door stands across the room with two levers that have spiked handles (anyone who applies much pressure on these risks cutting their hands).
Upon entering this room the entry door closes and a black, smokey vapor begins to seep out of the vents of this room – sapping at the strength of the party as it licks at their ankles and legs – filling the room. As the vapor fills the room the shape of an hour glass in the center materializes. The party turns the hour glass and phantom goblets begin the materialize on the pedestals – to which scratching sounds can now be heard as something invisible to the eye begins to clamor at the vents for entry. The group quickly discusses the game plan of grabbing the goblets with care, moving them tot he corners and working to ratchet the spiked levers that click in response to the placing of the phantom goblets.
Amazingly group worked in such unison that the exit door opens before whatever invisible scratch that was heard at the vents could enter the room – the black vapors begin the recede as the party exits with haste.
In the next hallway a light on the wall that was flickering caused the group to replace the flickering stone with the glowing stone provided by Falko the Face. This initiated a shifting sound in the stones around them and a passage form in the wall before them that led off in a different direction than was provided by the College Challenge.
Moving slowly and cautiously the recruits notice the dimly lit contrast of the new hallway made of a more roughly cut stone. This hallway leads to a hexagon-shaped room with a great well in the center and scattered debris around the well. Moving into the room they look through the debris for any sign of another passage or valuables – nothing but the castoffs of something that feeds in this area – which leads the group to look down the well in the room to see something shining at the bottom some 100 feet below. Gnarl drops a rock down the well which results in movement at the bottom. Exploding up the well as the party rains arrows and arcane might down on the ascending gelatinous sphere moving up the well walls. Cresting the edge of the well this large, clear menace engages the party in this small space.
Plain for all to see in this gelatinous mass are a few bones, decaying flesh and a stone hand in suspension – the party has found Grum – who looks to be fighting to get out of the gelatinous sphere. As the grueling battle that resulted in Kraye nearly dying by acidic juices that enveloped his warforged body comes to a close, Gnarl grabs at Grum as the dying sphere disintegrates into goo back down into the well.
Grum, thankful to his savior, Gnarl, relays he was send on another scavenging mission by Falko the Face to bring back shiny and valuable objects when he was engulfed by the giant ooze and drawn down into the creatures lair at the bottom of the well. Many objects of worth lie at the bottom of the well which the party retrieves – including shields and chain mail armor, long swords, an axe and assorted coins.
Grum shares with the party several potions and other objects in the chest that he wears on his back as thanks. A stunningly beautiful necklace Grum holds on to telling Nat (who asked about the necklace) and the party that he would give them his most value item if they would help him find his family in Dwarven ruins very far from here.
Explaining that Falko requested the party to bring Grum back leds to a sad Grum telling the party of the abuses Falko the Face has wrought on him through the years – giving love and attention to the left hand while neglecting and sending Grum into harms way for valuables found deep in the cultist catacombs that Falko would keep. Not wanting Grum to suffer at the hands of Falko any more they ask if he would like to leave this place with their help. Grum gladly accepts their help – determined to leave Falko and the nasty left hand behind.
Not finding any other passages the party returns to the Keeper’s Challenge section of the catacombs to the exit of the challenge where archways randomly imbue a few of the party with temporary boost based on which arch they walk through.
Now out of the Keeper’s Challenge, what will the party next we tasked with? How will Wendy the Vine and Grum the Hand integrate the party and be treated by the Keepers? What will Falko the Face and the left hand do with Grum running away? How deep do these cultist ruins run and what was their original purpose?