The chief’s body yielded a key, two gems and a good sum in coin. Given his lack of interest in material wealth, it was agreed that the thri-kreen should carry any valuables found. The party rested in the hejkin lair, despite the unpleasant smell. After several hours they returned to the electrified door. As Althaea gingerly approached the door with the hejkin’s key held in front of her, the crackling stopped and the bard could push the door open safely.
Beyond lay a corridor with doors ahead and to the left and right; on the left lay a room littered with entrails and rotting remains of who knew what creatures, and the right door gave on to a dusty corridor, which the group resolved to explore later. The door ahead opened into a chamber with a plinth and two barred doors either side. As they entered a disembodied voice spoke a riddle: “Give me food and I will live, give me water and I will die. What am I?” “Easy,” said Maro, “that’s got to be fire.” He placed a lighted torch on the plinth and the bars on one door slid back. Naivara pushed it open and looked in.
The room she saw was curiously laid out. To the left, at one end stood a huge throne on which was seated a tall humanoid statue made entirely of bone. Its hands and feet ended in sharp claws and what seemed to be ribs curved above its head like a set of antlers. The psion noted with some disquiet how the sculptor had captured a natural sitting pose, as if the figure might rise at any moment. At the opposite end of the chamber was what Naivara took to be a large, circular, bowl-shaped cavity carved into a piece of dark rock set flush with the floor. She was sure she could hear whispering coming from this basin. Four statues, each of a man, dressed in a long robe that seemed to swirl around him, stood at each corner of the tiled area between the door through which the monk had entered and the one opposite and the only other exit.
The Bone Construct upon the throne
These features might have been odd enough, but they were surpassed by what was happening in the tiled area. As Naivara watched, each tile around the edge seemed to slide sideways, filling the space occupied by the one next to it as it moved. Anyone standing on the tiles would have been transported around the outside of the pattern without having to move. The rectangle of tiles one row from the outside was also performing this sliding motion, though in the opposite direction, and the row of tiles inside that also slid, following the direction of the outer layer. No problem for a light-footed eladrin like me, thought Naivara, and stepped forward confidently. The tiles beneath her seemed to speed up, and she found herself travelling around the edge. Luckily Mik was just behind her and snatched her off the rumbling belt of stone just as she was about to go around the corner. Maro was next, charging in and stumbling from tile to tile. As he reached the far side he fell, but not before seizing the door handle and hanging on firmly while his feet sought purchase on the moving floor. Ku-ki’cha smiled inwardly, tensed his great jointed legs and sprang into the air, seeming to run as he flew forward and landed just in front of the door. He too grasped the handle, but lost his footing too. At that moment there was a creaking from the end of the room and the bone statue rose to its feet. It moved forward, stepping easily between the moving tiles and swung a clawed arm at Mik. Naivara tried to cross again but once more the floor swept her away. As she arrived next to one of the robed statues, a wind sprang from nowhere and lifted her into the air, and with a scream she was tossed bodily into the carved basin at the one end. Naivara’s ears were filled with the whispering she had heard earlier. She knew, instinctively, that these were the voices of victims that the cauldron had claimed in the past, and it would drain her life force too if she remained there long.
Storm Seat Area
As this realisation came, she saw a dust devil appear each side of the cauldron and move towards Ku-ki’cha and Maro, who had managed to get the door open and were standing just inside it, looking back anxiously. The eladrin concentrated on this spot and fey stepped next to them, sending a mental thrust at the bone giant for good measure, then the dust devils were upon them and it was impossible to see. In the confusion Maro felt someone push past him and guessed it was Mik. Only Althaea was left on the other side of the chamber. She tried to cross, but the treacherous floor took her footing and she too was hurled into the black cauldron. The area around the exit was impossible to make out clearly, but she called, “Grab on to me!” and fey stepped as her friend had done over to the door. For a dreadful moment she felt herself being pulled back into the grasp of the dust devils, but then a strong hand pulled her through the doorway and closed the opening. At once the sounds of rumbling stone and whirling winds stopped. Althaea heard a click-click-click as if of bone feet moving, then everything went quiet again.
“I hope we can find a way around – I don’t fancy having to go back through there again,” said Naivara, and her companions nodded in agreement. They stood in a corridor, studying the image on the wall and the writing beneath it. I bind it and it walks, I loosen it and it stops it said. The picture was painted on to tiles, and depicted the assassination of some unidentified Tyrian noble. The companions studied each aspect of the scene intently; the shocked faces of witnesses, the spear as it pierced the victim’s throat, and the multicoloured tiers of the Great Ziggurat above it all. Eventually Althaea reached out and pressed the noble’s sandal. The tile moved in slightly, and another door opened. “Nicely done, sister,” said Naivara. Beyond the door, the corridor ran straight for a while and then branched into two dead ends left and right, while ahead some steps lead down to a tiled area bearing a sigil on the floor in the form of a dragon. Various humanoid remains lay here and there. “Ku-ki’cha hopes these dead will rest in peace", muttered the thri-kreen.