Rysarian stared around the now empty room, the book sat innocently on the pedestal. He hesitated, but then shut the book, packing it under his arm as he headed down the stairs. He wanted to make sure the chests got on the boat. It took a couple minutes to get down the dozens of staircases and back to the main room. The pile of chests sat in the room that the group had first entered. Rysarian stepped out of the tower and yelled down to Ted, who seemed to be sleeping in the small boat. The man jumped, his hat sliding off his face and onto the boat’s floor, his eyes squinted in the evening light. Rysarian jogged down to the boat, carrying one of the small chests with him in one hand, the book in the other.
“Ted, there are a pile of chests up in that first room in that tower. Several small ones like this one and one big one. Make sure they get to the boat, okay?” Rysarian asked.
“Yeah, sure I can do that,” Ted replied with a nod.
“Also, this book is magic. If we don’t come back out of it, give us twenty-four hours, after that take it to the capitol and let them test it.”
“What?” Ted asked, staring at Rysarian in confusion. “A magic book?”
“Yes, the others went in here and if we don’t come back take this to the capitol.”
“But it’s a book,” Ted said pointedly.
“Yes,” Rysarian agreed. “A magic one. Ted, will you just take it to the capitol if we don’t come back?”
“Yeah, but it’s just a book. I don’t know where you’re going,” Ted said, confused.
“Just, watch, okay? You’ll see,” Rysarian said, flipping open the book to the first page and looking down at the picture on it. Slowly, he lowered his finger onto the page, feeling the texture of the parchment and the slight indents from the pressure of the quill where the ink rested.
A bird cawed from the tower as the two men stood there.
“Told ye. It’s just a book,” Ted said, adjusting his hat. Rysarian ran his hand over the page again and again, but nothing changed. As he stared at the page, though, he could have sworn he saw a flash of red shimmer across the top half of the picture. He wasn’t sure if his eyes were playing tricks on him, but the ink seemed to carry a red tint of color to it on the upper half of the picture. Something was happening. Maybe if he got the book back to the pedestal the book would work. He closed the book, tucked it under his arm, and headed back to the tower.
The sun shone high in the sky, a field of patched grass with a crumbling stone wall enclosing the large space. Large rocks scattered across the field, crumbling into the uneven ground. On the far side of the field, there were cobwebs covering the ground from one end to the other. On each side, there were torches and in between them, a large pentagonal brazier, densely covered in webs and looking to be the middle of the webs. Behind that, in the stone walls, a large stone door stood. A large square button, larger than the one that they had seen in the tower, was set in the floor in the middle of the courtyard.
“Where is this place?” Phoenix asked.
“Interesting,” Quinn said, shading his eyes. “Somehow we were transported somewhere completely different than where we were.”
“What do you mean?” Meadowlark asked.
“The sun, it’s midday here. It was almost evening when we left,” Quinn explained. Meadowlark walked towards the button in the middle of the courtyard, Quinn followed behind slower, curious.
“Either way, I don’t like the look of this,” Phoenix said as she wandered to the right, liking the idea of setting the torches on fire to get rid of the spiderwebs.
None of them get very far before a familiar shrieking sound comes from above them and four Lizalfos drop down. They shriek to the sky and brandish their short swords. Startled, Phoenix steps forward, letting out a lungful of frozen air, attempting to attack the Lizalfos, but it freezes in a sheet of ice in front of her before it falls and shatters. Meadowlark walks around the button, cautious about it, and attacks a Lizalfos. The others shriek in anger and surround her, only two of them actually hitting her with their short swords. Quinn moves up to help out, pulling his Netherstaff from under his cloak and shocking the Lizalfos closest to him. Phoenix steps up on the other side and swings her hammer at the closest to her, slamming it heavily into the lower rib cage of the Lizalfo’s, breaking several ribs that poke through its’ leathery skin. Meadowlark follows up the damaging attack with a wide swing of her sword, the force pushing three of the four Lizalfo’s back, one ending up getting tangled in the spiderwebs the one with the broken ribs is shoved into one of the pieces of rubble. It shrieks in pain and jumps several times backwards, getting caught in the cobwebs as well. Another one unwisely follows, ending up next to the first. The one in front of Quinn, however, swings it’s short sword at the man, but barely gets a glancing blow before Quinn retaliates with an electric shock with his staff.
A tremor runs through the ground and everything seems to vibrate in front of them, the movement slowly growing in intensity. The three realize that it’s the spiderwebs that are shaking as a soft scratching sound starts to echo around the courtyard. Even the last free standing Lizalfos stopped and looked around, sensing something wrong. The ones in the cobwebs were panicking even more. Everyone’s eyes focus on the raised pentagonal brazier in the middle of the cobwebs as two large, dark, hairy legs shoot out of it, followed quickly by a face of black eyes, slick looking fangs clicking in front of it’s mouth. Six more legs, a thorax and an abdomen followed along as the giant spider surveyed the dinner guests.
“I hate spiders,” Phoenix muttered. As the spider descended along the webbing, the top of its thorax became visible, revealing a large, rolling red eye that looked at each of the four still free fighters hungrily. Phoenix thought back to her idea of setting the cobwebs on fire and wished she had done it before. “There’s not a chance I could make it to those torches,” she said.
“We don’t know if the cobwebs are even flammable,” Meadowlark said. The spider had stepped in between the two Lizalfos that were close together and was quickly wrapping it with silky threads of webbing..
“You would have to run through the cobwebs to make sure you wouldn’t get trapped in them,” Quinn added.
“What does the button do?” Phoenix asked, looking at it desperately.
“We don’t know!” Meadowlark said, not exactly trusting it, but looking at it the same way as Phoenix.
“Maybe we can get out of here? Just run?” Phoenix said, looking around. The door was the only way out of the courtyard. Everything else was just a giant wall.
“We’re in a book,” Quinn reminded them, a grim look on his face as the spider moved on to the other Lizalfos. It was almost pathetic listening to the third one as it seemed to realize its inevitable fate.
“Maybe the button will get us out of the book?” Phoenix asked hopefully.
“Just try it!” Meadowlark yelled at her. Phoenix obeyed, stepping onto the button. For half a step she felt unbalanced as the button slowly started to compress into the ground. Her shift in position put her a couple feet directly in front of the last free Lizalfos. She pulled out her last javelin and threw it as hard as she could. The javelin hit square in the chest, the impact having such a force that it bounced back through the air into her hand, the Lizalfos falling backwards.
Meadowlark attacked the Lizalfos from the side. It stood up, off-balance as it tried to attack Meadowlark and missed. Quinn stepped up next to Meadowlark and sent a shock towards the Lizalfos, but he was too distracted watching the spider as it moved to the last Lizalfos caught in the webbing before turning back to the middle one for a quick snack.
The button under Phoenix clicked as it fully compressed. The ground shook again, harder than before. There was a faint mechanical whirring, muffled and eerie as the group became silent. The last Lizalfos looked around in fear, its head snapping back and forth as it looked for the source of the sound. Phoenix, Quinn, and Meadowlark all watched the far side of the courtyard. Maybe it was the door opening. A loud pop was the only warning before an explosion of fire burst out of the pentagonal brazier. Smoke billowed into the air, spreading an acrid smell as the fibers of the web darkened and curled away from the flames that licked rapidly across the webbing. When it reached the wrapped bodies, the smell of burning meat rose into the air. The spider’s legs caught on fire, its hairs flickering like candles as it burned up its body. The spider reared and hissed angrily, stumbling on the burning ground.
Phoenix hoped that would be the end of the spider as she turned her attention to the last Lizalfos that was spinning around, looking at the fire and the spider and back at her. Phoenix swung her hammer, smashing the Lizalfos to the ground. It coughed up blood, but collapsed and was still.
“I guess there’s only one thing left to deal with,” Meadowlark said with a heavy sigh. She walked around a taller piece of rubble and swung an arcing attack at the spider. Quinn walked closer to the spider as well, stopping along the line of fire.
“Quinn, what is it?” Phoenix asked, not wanting to get closer if she could help it.
“Well, it looks like a giant spider,” Quinn replied, squinting through the smoke. “I’d guess it’d have a weak venom, so I wouldn’t advise you to get bit. It seems to have a vulnerability to fire. Standardly, like most spiders no matter the size, it can sense movement through the ground. Even with all this smoke, it could sense where we are.”
“Just learn how to fly,” Meadowlark muttered.
“It’s a fairly sturdy creature,” Quinn added, not seeming to notice Meadowlark’s comment. “It’ll be difficult to kill. Good thing it’s on fire, though. THat’s rather helpful.” He then holds out his hands, one towards the spider, the other towards Meadowlark. Darts shoot out of both, damaging the spider and healing Meadowlark. He also pulled out his barbed wire from under his cloak, lassoing it around the spider’s abdomen, behind the large eye on its thorax.
The spider reared and hissed again, turning to face Quinn and Meadowlark and charging towards them, out of the fire. Meadowlark jumped out of the way, but her sleeve caught fire. Quinn isn’t able to dodge and he’s slammed down to the ground. He half rolled and coughed up blood, watching as the spider shook and spun in a circle, the fire on it slowly died, some hairs still glowing red through the smoke.
Phoenix stepped forward, blinking rapidly from the smoke billowing from the spider’s body and swung her hammer, but it didn’t connect. She swung again, this time her hammer landing on the barbed wire. There was a crunching sound with the impact and thick pale blue fluid oozed out of the cuts caused by the barbed wire. Meadowlark followed up with a heavy swing of her sword. She added another backhanded swing and the barbed wire embedded itself deeper into the body of the spider. Quinn stayed where he was, using a healing infusion on himself and attempted to send a shock of lightning, but he was woozy and it missed.
The spider turned towards Phoenix and snapped its large fangs at her, but she dodges, singing her hammer into its legs. Meadowlark swung her sword at the spider’s legs on the other side, cutting into them. Quinn swung his staff, sending a blast of energy that whacked the spider in the head. The spider tried to bite Phoenix again, but with a couple gimpy legs and a pulsing headache it missed again. Angrily, it shot out a web at Phoenix’s feet, making her stuck to the ground. Phoenix hit it with her hammer again, not worried about going anywhere.
Meadowlark swung and cut into the thick hair of the spider’s abdomen and Quinn sent off another bolt of energy to whack the spider with. The spider hissed and snapped at Phoenix once again, finally catching a hold and poisoning her.
Phoenix didn’t appreciate being bitten. Summoning her strength she roared back at its hissing and ripped herself from the webs holding her to the ground. She swung her hammer underhanded square into the spider’s face, breaking the fangs that had bitten her, before she reversed the direction of her hammer, taking it up and over her head. It flew through the air and slammed down onto the large eye on the back of the spider, popping it as more blue fluid splattered out. The spider collapsed, its legs curling up under it, twitching. Phoenix jerked her hammer out of the collapsed eye, the body crunching around it. It twitches again and turns black before disintegrating into smoke. Meadowlark jumped away from it as the smoke started to glow a yellowish white. The light pulled together and formed a small metal and crystalline heart that floated in the air in front of Phoenix.
“Well, you were the one who killed it,” Meadowlark said when no one else spoke.
“I agree,” Quinn seconded. Phoenix nodded and reached out. As soon as she touched it, it turned back into light and zoomed into Phoenix, filling her with energy.
A tremor shook the ground and the three looked around nervously. The door on the far wall was opening. The three exchanged looks that all said they were glad to leave. The head across the courtyard, all the spiderwebs burned up and only patches of still smoking grass were left as they walked through the doorway.
The three enter a small room, the stones the same green as the tower. In the center of the room is an engraved table with an odd looking staff. A large, green, uncut crystal floated above it. At the foot of the table was a large treasure chest. Behind the table was another podium with a book on it.
Quinn almost skipped towards the staff. “Amazing. Part of it is metal. This part here is wood. And this here! It has a crystal inlay! Fascinating!”
Phoenix rolled her eyes and went to open the chest. Inside is a broach with a similar crystalline heart to the one that she had gotten, but smaller. The dark red crystal had iron gold and silver intertwined around it. Magic seemed to radiate from it. Next, she pulled out a large iron bracer. It’s weight in her hands also had a magical aura to it. She put it back down and saw four glass vials filled with red liquid, a leather satchel tied with a violet ribbon that sounded like it was filled with coins when she pushed it over to look at a dagger it was sitting on. It was a large dagger with gold and silver inlay and gems studded into the hilt. The blade itself didn’t appear to be that sharp, but the inlays mimicked the designs from the tower.
“There’s a book over here,” Meadowlark said from the podium. Phoenix looked up from the chest and Quinn barely registered that Meadowlark was talking. He was focused wide eyed on the staff he was holding, a smaller crystal orbiting the top of it. “The picture looks like it’s the room at the tower. I think we have our way out.”
Quinn shook himself and looked around, catching himself up with what Meadowlark had said. He looked over at Phoenix who was still crouching at the chest. “Ah, Phoenix, bring that stuff with us. I can appraise it and divvy it up between us. If you think that’s fair.”
“Sounds good to me,” Phoenix said.
“We trust you,” Meadowlark agreed. “As long as you don’t get distracted by the walls and forget all of it.”
“Don’t worry, I’ll get the chest,” Phoenix said, closing it up and hefting it as she shuffled to the book. They take turns touching the picture and end up back in the room at the top of the tower. Footsteps from the stairway precede Rysarian coming into the room.
“Oh, you’re back,” he said, taking in Phoenix, her face smeared with the pale blue fluid from the spider, carrying a large chest, Quinn, his cloak spotted with blood, carrying a new staff, and Meadowlark, her sleeve burned and her face darkened with soot. “Looks like you guys had fun.”
“No thanks to you,” Phoenix muttered darkly.
“Do you even know what we had to deal with?” Meadowlark demanded. “No! You weren’t there! There was a giant spider! It tried to eat us! It caught me on fire! You don’t even understand! We could have died! And what were you doing? Nothing!”
“I was making sure the chests got on the boat!” Rysarian tried to defend himself.
“Great idea. Get the chest to the boat. I don’t want to carry this much longer,” Phoenix cut in before Meadowlark started again.
“Oh, well, Ted is taking the chests to the boat right now, so we might have to wait a little,” Rysarian said. Phoenix gave him an annoyed look.
“Then you can help me carry this down and then we’ll wait for him.”
Quinn led the way, his step light and happy as he swung his new staff in front of him, watching the crystal orbit the top of the staff. Meadowlark followed behind him, muttering angrily about Rysarian not being any help. Phoenix didn’t say anything as Rysarian tried to keep up with her with his end of the chest.
Outside of the tower, they only had to wait a couple minutes before Ted to get back. He called out to them, waving his hat in greeting.
“Hey Ted!” Meadowlark greeted.
“Hey you guys. Glad to see you’re back. Ready to head to the ship?”
“Yeah, I’m tired,” Meadowlark said, eagerly hopping into the boat. The others followed and sat in a tired silence as they flew to the ship. The sun was setting and the sky around them was turning peach.
“Take that stuff to my room. I’ll appraise it there,” Quinn said.
“Sounds good,” Phoenix said, dragging Rysarian after her. Quinn followed behind, waiting for them to put the chest down in his room and stepping out before he nodded.
“I’ll look this stuff over, start counting maybe, but I’ll go to bed soon. I’ll finish dividing it up and give it to you tomorrow.”
“Thanks Quinn,” Phoenix said. She gave one last annoyed glare to Rysarian before she headed off to her own room to sleep. Meadowlark was already in her own room.
Rysarian gave Quinn an awkward nod before heading to his room where a large chest sat in place of his bed and a small chest on his desk. He looked at both and smiled, liking the look of them. Then his smile widened. They would look even better if there was something inside of them.
In the middle of the night, Rysarian pulled himself out of his trance. Everyone else should be asleep by now.He snuck out of his room and moved silently across the hall to Quinn’s door. It was sitting there, as if asking to be opened. He tried the handle and found it unlocked. He opened it slowly, wincing slightly as it squeaked ever so faintly, but he slipped inside without much trouble. The room is dark, but dim light filtered in from the hallway and from the moonlight in the window.
Quinn lay asleep in bed, his breathing slow and heavy. Rysarian looked around, getting his bearings. The bed was along the back wall, fitting snugly in the small room. A desk was on Rysarian’s right had a small chest on it, along with the large armband and potions. The large chest sat where he had put it with Phoenix between the desk and the wall with the door. He stealthily opened the large chest. Inside he found the dagger and the floating crystal. He noticed that the staff it had been circling wasn’t there. Rysarian took the dagger and moved over to the small chest on the desk. It was more of a lockbox, and a fairly simple one. But it was locked. He caught sight of movement in the corner of his eye and he looked over at it. It was a small imp holding a key.
“If you want to get into that, you’re going to need a key,” the imp said, offering the key to him. Rysarian ignored the imp and pulled out his tools. In a matter of seconds he has the lockbox opened.
“You were saying?” Rysarian asked.
“Oh, I didn’t know you were that good. I just thought the key would be easier,” the imp said before it poofed away.
“Bye then, weird thing,” Rysarian said. He found the brooch and the bag of gold inside the lockbox. He opened the bag and estimated about 500-600 gold pieces in it. He stared at it, debating, then grabbed a couple handfuls. He looked back at the things on the table, the armband and the potions, debating again, but he decided to leave those. He turned back to the lockbox and locks it back up before turning to the chest and closing that. He stepped toward the slightly open door, but it closed. At his feet, a ring of runes light up, completely immobilizing him. When his eyes got used to the light, he saw Quinn standing in front of the door. Rysarian glanced back at the bed, but the form was gone. The imp sat on Quinn’s shoulders looking at Rysarian sadly.
“iI tried to help you,” it said.
“Look who I’ve caught in my little trap,” Quinn said, his arms crossed in front of him and his eyes sharply focused on Rysarian. All appearances of airheadedness or distractedness gone. “I sort of have an issue with you. You’re not someone I can trust. You’re an ‘every man for himself’ type of person. That’s a problem for me.”
“I tried to make it there!” Rysarian tried to defend himself. “I was on my way!”
“Yeah, sure you were,” Quinn said dismissively. “Either way, you still abandoned the rest of us. No matter. I think I have a way to fix this issue.” Quinn walked over, pulling out his dagger from under his cloak. He grabbed Rysarian’s hand and cut the palm, drawing some blood. He pulled out a piece of paper with the blood.
“What did you just do?” Rysarian asked nervously.
“I’ve created a blood bond. It’s an old form of magic. In all actuality I’m being exceptionally nice you with this. If you’re 500 feet or more away from the person you’re bound to, you’ll become weakened. If you stay away for one day, you’ll become sick. If you stay away for two dies, you will die. Also, if either member of the bloodbond dies, the other dies as well.”
“And I’m now bloddbonded to you?” Rysarian asked.
“No, actually. I had a volunteer. Someone else who doesn’t trust you very much who volunteered to be your, uh, keeper, of sorts. Our very own friendly dragon,” Quinn said.
“Of course,” Rysarian muttered.
“On the bright side, since bloodbonds weren’t originally meant to keep guard over people, there are some benefits. You both will have an increased attack power, since you’ll be drawing on each other’s strengths. And with your teleportation, you can appear at her side, even if it’s further than you normally could. Yes, I know about the Eladrin and your abilities,” Quinn added at Rysarian’s surprised look. “If you really want that dagger, go ahead. It was used for ceremonies. It’s not that helpful with battles, but it might fetch a good price.”
“See, I was only taking my fair share,” Rysarian defended. Quinn ignored the comment. The runes on the ground disappeared and the door opened.
“You are free to go,” Quinn said, stepping aside. Rysarian stepped forward and stopped.
“Just wondering, who’s the imp?” He asked as he stood beside Quinn.
“Oh, this is my familiar. She’s kind of annoying,” Quinn said, losing the threatening, power aura he had been carrying through the conversation.
“Yeah, I bet. She tried to help me steal from you,” Rysarian said.
“Well, you’ve met him! Bothersome, controlling, forceful. Wouldn’t you help someone to steal from him?” The imp asked.
“Well, normally he’s pretty calm. I’ve only known this side of him for about two minutes.”
“Wait, you don’t really know this about him? He’s so annoying!”
“That’s enough out of you,” Quinn said, waving at the imp who poofed away with an annoyed humph.
Rysarian looked at Quinn curiously, wondering what else the man was hiding, but he just waved at him as he headed off to his room again.
“Maybe the button will get us out of the book?” Phoenix asked hopefully.
“Just try it!” Meadowlark yelled at her. Phoenix obeyed, stepping onto the button. For half a step she felt unbalanced as the button slowly started to compress into the ground. Her shift in position put her a couple feet directly in front of the last free Lizalfos. She pulled out her last javelin and looked at the terrified Lizalfos in front of her. It eyed her warily. Phoenix extended the javelin in front of her, her arm stretching out as she booped the Lizalfos on the nose. She jumped backwards off the button, lolzing.
In the event that Phoenix, Quinn, and Meadowlark had been killed by the giant spider (perhaps because Phoenix booped a Lizalfos and jumped off the button in her good humor and then they were all killed by the spider that had never been set on fire).
Rysarian was over halfway up the tower when it started shaking around him. He slowed and stopped when he reached a landing. The walls were starting to crumble around him. He turned around and raced back down the stairs. The closer he got to the ground, the less the stairs shook under him, but the more sounds of breaking came from above him. The ceiling started to fall down around him and suddenly the entire tower was falling sideways. Rysarian, unable to keep his balance on the tipping stairs, stopped and leaned against the wall while he concentrated, teleporting out of the tower and onto the grounds in front of it.
“Ted!” He yelled, seeing the small boat start to take off as Ted had gotten the last of the chests on the boat. The boat stopped and came back to the island as Rysarian ran towards it while the tower crashed to the ground behind him, stones rolling out around him. Rysarian makes it to the boat and Ted takes off, allowing Rysarian to catch his breath in the couple minutes it take for them to get back to the ship.
“Captain, let’s get out of here,” Rysarian called when he boarded the ship. Captain Charlotte nodded, looking back at the tower with a grim expression. This Path of Fortune didn’t seem to be worth anymore lives.
“Ready the sails!” She called out to her crew and led them back out of the rocks. The spiral of wind surrounded them, transporting them back to where they were before the riddle. Before them, sat two large galleon ships. “They found us,” Captain Charlotte yelled. “Man the cannons! Prepare to fire!” The other ships were already in ready position and their attack started before most of the crew could even react. Rysarian fell to the ground as a cannon blew through the ship’s mast, the splintered wood raining down on top of them. The crew was yelling and and screaming as the ship was broken.
Rysarian checked his energy and decided to try a teleportation again. He could make it to another island. He focused his thoughts on a safe plot of land and teleported. The rushing of wind lasting longer than it should, he opened his eyes to find himself falling towards an unseen ground. Thinking quickly, he pulled his backpack around and yanked out a large canvas square. Something he had in place of a bedroll since he didn’t need to sleep. He found the corners, fumbling as the cold air started to numb his fingers, caught tight hold and let the canvas open up. His arms were jerked as the wind caught in the canvas and he worried he would lose hold. Or his arms. His descent slowed, his arms aching from the force and his hands losing all feeling, but he held on. He couldn’t hear anything beyond the rushing of the wind around him. Suddenly, he felt warmth behind him that quickly became blistering heat. A fire blast hit him, roasting him perfectly in a matter of seconds, the canvas square burning and floating away as a dragon swooped in for its second breakfast.
Moral of the story: Don’t make the DM mad. You will die.