After coming to Camp Cairn as part of the Xenos Initiative, Team C3-11 is led by their Handler, Hector the Troll, in the dead of night through a wooded game trail to an abandoned underground cultist layer that has been turned into a training camp for initiates. The unique characteristics of this underground honeycomb cause the various chambers to shift tunnels, rooms, doors and stairs to the will of it’s caretakers, the Keepers who have cleared our the cultists.
Hector addresses the party:
- “You’ve done well so far Team C3-11…but this challenge will test your true metal…the metal of the mind. It will also test your agility …the finesse of your mortal forms (looks at Kraye) somewhat mortal at any rate. This cavern was cleared some years ago by the college and was deemed a local hazard to be marked on caraveener maps. Once the Xenos Initiative was started and Camp Cairn established this site was reopened, the horrors that a dark cult once filled this underground den with were deemed…ideal… for use as a testing ground for new recruits.”
With that Hector then gestured to the guide stone bracelet that was put on each recruits wrist and began to explain it’s use:
- “It is now time for you to understand one important feature of your guide stone. With it you have a way to signal for help or a hasty exit should the worst arise and you are unable to strategically retreat to safety. If you should need to use your guide stone, say ‘The light breaks forward…’ and you should hear my disembodied voice speaking to you from the stone. Any questions before we begin your next phase of testing?”
Eager to find out what challenge the college has prepared they the team is then lead to the entrance to begin their first true test – the Narrow’s Maze.
Entering this rough hewn stone quick became fitted stone blocks that lead to a T. At this T passage the wall in front of them displays a message to the initiates in glowing blue letters:
- A TEAM IS BUILT FROM A GROUP OF EQUALS
FOR ALL TO SURVIVE YOU MUST WORK AS A TEAM
A TEAM SHARES IN THE WEALTH THAT’S FOUND
YOU MUST ALL LEARN TO TRUST IN YOUR TEAM
A TEAM WILL FAIL IF THE WEAKEST LINK FAILS
Passages lead from this wall to either side splitting Team C3-11 to the left and right. The shifting of a stone tile prompted the party to lift that tile revealing vines that whipped away from the light and could be heard off in the room ahead where the two passages come together leading to a dim light ahead.
The cautious party ventured to a dimly light room that shone with tiles on the dome ceiling in exquisite detail of Terraden’s night sky. One the floor before entering this room can be seen the letters:
- Lone you enter, missing stars surrender
To gain a better view of what the tiled domed room Narm, the Eladrin Swordmage, steps into the room first. The rest of the party finds a thin magic veil now blocking passage for any others. With Narm the only member in the round domed room he can now clearly see a large hole in the center of this sloping room – faint orange light shining from the grated hole below. From this large grated hole flows several vines that radiate along the floor of the room to several corpses of soldiers and a cloaked skeletal figure.
Narm moves slowly along the circular room to examine some of the corpses next to the vines – finding the cloaked skeletal remains to be that of an woman in a teal dress next to a vine of the same color. Upon reaching this vine it comes to life and “looks” at Narm, moves slowly toward him and, much to his surprise, rubs against his leg with tender affection. As the vine wraps slowly around his leg in a hug, Narm’s mind is flooded with images of a female priest dying at the tendrils of a blood-sucking plant. An image of her final moments of death as she prays to her Goddess shows her essence infusing into the vine that killed her – becoming the teal color of her dress.
With his new found friend, Wendy the Vine, now observing his progress he advances to check the other corpses and the dome tiles above.
After some poking and prodding of the fresher soldier corpses located at the opposite side of the room where he found Wendy, Narm finds small gem tiles just as the blood vines near the soldier corpses react to his movement. Below in the grate can be heard a great rumble as he begins a combat exchange with the malicious vines – the grate cannot hold back whatever beast Narm has awoke below and without his fellow recruits he would be doomed to face it alone in this chamber. Arrows bounce of the force barrier as the team attempts to help Narm tackle the vines that now assault him so he can solve whatever riddle will unlock this room before the beast below confronts him – luckly a few spells pass through the barrier to assist Narm as he methodically cuts down the vines in this room. With a loud ROAR his enrages the beast below who now smashes at the grate to assault it’s next meal directly.
Now needing to solve the puzzle before the beast below breaks through the grate, Narm takes the small gem tiles found on the soldiers corpse and looks to the ceiling above for what significance the tiled stars above may have to getting out of this room. The party, namely Nat who is well versed in the knowledge of nature as a Druid, notices when examining the dim stars in the tiles of the ceiling that a prominent constellation is missing and informs the lone member of their party, Narm, of this omission above. But how can he reach what is above him by 15 feet? As he stretches up the curved wall to reach the missing constellation in vain he feels Wendy wrap around his torso and heft him upward to the length of her full “body” putting Narm near the missing stars.
Looking back at his team for assistance as to the shape of the constellation, Nat tapes on the barrier in the pattern of the constellation, lighting a sequence to model the pattern for Narm. With the grate bent upward and the beast almost into the chamber Narm plunges the gem tiles into place. The new constellation glows with a brillance, then matched by the other stars down upon the circular hole in the floor where the beast is bursting to come out and with a great whirling the grate, beast and orange light below are sucked down in a WHOOSH that leaves a faint blue light below.
The party is now reunited with short trek down the central hole into a hallway that leads down to a gap filled with water some 30 feet long. At the edge of the landing before the water reads:
- FIND THE i IN TEAM
The narrow hall and low ceiling make flying across to the other side impossible for Aelyria and a shot from her bow across to the other side shows fine threads stronger than steel blocking the opposite landing. Kraye and Gnarl drop a lite sun rod into the water which is covered by a thin oil slick which lights immediately in a flash. The clearing of the surface reveals wicked spikes lining the bottom and notice the subtle movement of an transparent ooze flowing among the spikes below. On the surface also floats thin sticks of wet bamboo that are all exactly five feet across – which the team quickly collects. As they examine the sticks and the walls of the area the team sees the letters on the landing start to light with blue fire – just as the letters as that were encountered when they first entered the caverns. This complex puzzle now involves several rooms in the cavern and prove the intricacy of tasks the College have prepared.
Kraye and Gnarl then backtrack to the entrance and feel along the five sentence message for clues – Kraye feels a small indentation in the A of every TEAM in this message. Pushing on these indentations resulted in a beams arising from the water downstairs in five foot intervals – the party has a way across if they can keep each button in the message pressed. It is then that the party closes a set of doors at the entrance – locking the front to use as a surface to brace the rods. Closing those doors lowers the spikes and empties the water (and oozes with the water) in the hallway below via hidden mechanisms in the hinges of the door. Kraye and Gnarl then use the rods collected below, bracing the five bamboo rods against the door/walls and into the indentations in the message to keep the beams up the hall below. Kraye and Gnarl join their part below to jump the beams as they cross the now drained canal. In crossing Kraye collects a few objects that were covered by water and hidden in the spikes.
On the opposite side of the water/beam/spike challenge, the team now advances down the hall and turning left find a stone door with a large face that moves slowly as it seems to sleep.
What is this door and how will they pass it? How far is the team through this intense College challenge? If this challenge is getting harder, what’s in store beyond this door?