|Should I click "no?"|
Taking the lead, the Solamnic Knight in the party, Lord Benjamin, headed toward one of the hallways. Before he could reached the hallway, however, the mist at his feet collected in front of him. The mist formed into a spectral shape of a man with a sword.
"Know this, knight...you will face many tests in these tombs!" the spectral knight told Lord Benjamin. "Only those true of heart will pass the tests."
|No. My life is my life. My honor is my honor.|
"You have begun the test of honor. Remember the oath. My honor is my life."
Lord Benjamin reached out to the knight, but the vision faded as the mists fell back to the ground. The rest of the party came up behind him, vowing that they would accompany him on the tests. Nodding, Lord Benjamin lead them deeper into the tomb.
Whispering voices followed the party as they headed further into the tomb. A chill flowed in the air. It seemed to the party almost as though the stones themselves were alive.
The mist ahead formed into the shape of a face. A man stared out from the mist and regarded the party with judgmental eyes. "What would you sacrifice to help those in need, knight?" the booming voice asked. "Your money? Your possessions? Or your very life? Choose now!"
Without hesitation, Lord Benjamin spoke: "All three."
A hearty laugh filled the tomb as the spectral face grew larger. "Brave knight, I will spare you the loss of your life and take only some of your money and possessions." A flash of light surrounded the party as the face disappeared.
The kender, Wil Dhargon, suddenly realized that a few of his precious maps were gone. He uttered a few words about how if knights were really honorable, they wouldn't take away his hard-earned maps. Tamera Beldon quieted him down.
As the party continued forward, they were once again approached by a spectral figure. Behind him, two swords hung on the wall.
|If I take both, can I go backward?|
The spectral figure told Lord Benjamin that he could take only one sword, and that it should be the one on the right. Again, without hesitation, Lord Benjamin did as he was told and took the sword on the right.
The sword, as it turned out, glowed with magical power. Indeed, the party had never seen a sword so powerful or well-designed. It was marked by glowing runes and seemed to be constructed of the strongest metal they had ever encountered. Was this the treasure of the tomb that the party had been sent to recover?
A vision suddenly appeared in the mists. A man was surrounded by a pack of wild wolves. He had nothing to defend himself with. The wolves were about to tear him to shreds. The spectral knight appeared again.
|Once again, I am tempted to pick "no" and run.|
With a deep sigh, Lord Benjamin tossed the sword into the mists at the man who was surrounded by the wolves. Spotting the sword, the man picked it up and went back to engage the wolves. As he did, the mists fell apart and the vision faded.
The party were shocked. They demanded to know what happened.
"What happened does not matter. Whether the man lives or dies does not matter. What matters is that you have successfully proven your honor and passed the first test. The test of battle begins now." With that the spectral knight disappeared.
The party pressed forward. Thaddeus Durin suggested that they prepare their weapons. After all, a test of battle probably involved some fighting. There was no sense in being unprepared.
The party entered a room full of treasure. Wil Dhargon's eyes lit up immediately. Voices in the mists warned the party that they should touch nothing and take nothing. Wil Dhargon pointed out that his precious maps were stolen from him, so it was fair that he take something.
|I won't take nothing. I'll take everything.|
The party expressed quite forcefully how much they would appreciate it if the kender didn't touch anything at all. And that he should keep his hands to himself at all times. Possibly in his pockets. Or behind his back.
As the party soon discovered, others had tried to take the treasures in the room. A group of Draconians had been turned to stone, their faces twisted in horror as they grabbed at the treasures in the room. From the items that the Draconians had dropped on the floor, it was obvious that they had not not been in the room for long.
Sir Karl had been right. The Draconians knew about the tomb.
Moving quickly through the treasure rooms and keeping the kender in check, the party discovered something else...
|These are some smart skeletons.|
The party, still reeling from the trap, managed to pull themselves together and face the skeletons head on. Tamera attempted to repel them with the power of Mishakal, goddess of healing and restoration. But the skeletal knights ignored the attempts of the party priestess to destroy them.
Swords and arrows did little damage to the creatures. The magical flail that Tamera had seemed to do the best damage against them as it crushed into their brittle bones. The battle was hard, but eventually the party prevailed.
Badly wounded, the party attempted to rest and gather their strength. But the mists formed into horrible visions and the party were assailed by noise. They would find no rest within the tomb it seemed.
Perhaps, if they were lucky, that was all there was to the test of battle and they would not face any additional foes. Perhaps they had already passed the test. Just to be safe, Tamera prayed to Mishakal for the power to heal some of the wounds in the party. She managed to get Janessa completely healed.
It proved to be a good thing that she had taken the time to do so. Because very soon thereafter, a pack of undead dragons appeared from the mists. Lord Benjamin, knowing that in order to pass this test the party would need to fight instead of flee, rushed at them, hoping it was the right choice.
|Not shown: Another dragon! There were four of them!|
Janessa decided to immediately put her magical prowess to work by casting multiple Fireball spells. The rest of the party fought with everything that they had. As it happened, the dragons were not nearly as hardy as their living counterparts. Their bones rattled to the ground quickly as the party damaged them.
A spectral knight appeared as the dragon bones faded into the mists. "You have passed the test of battle. Remember, a Solamnic Knight never flees and never refuses to battle evil. You will now face the test of fear."
As the spectral knight disappeared, large rings of fire appeared in the doorway ahead. Voices in the mists shouted at the party to flee for their lives before they were consumed by fire. The mist even retreated from the fire.
"I am not afraid," Lord Benjamin said. As the party watched, unsure of what to think, Lord Benjamin walked straight through the rings of fire. The fire burned his skin and he howled in pain, but he pressed forward. Nearly dead, he stumbled through the fire to the other side and fell to the ground. Had he made a mistake?
|These guys all look the same.|
A spectral knight appeared suddenly. He reached out with his hands and dismissed the fire. Then, he touched Lord Benjamin on the head and healed him. With another pass of his hands, the rest of the party was healed as well.
"I am the spirit of Sir Dargaard. Finally, a knight of virtue has reached me. Now receive our charge that I might rest in peace."
A magical suit of Solamnic Plate Mail armor appeared along with a glowing sword. Lord Benjamin reached out and took them. They seemed almost built to fit him.
"Go now, knight. Use these items in your fight against evil. It begins sooner than you think," Sir Dargaard's spirit said before fading back into the mists.
A sudden noise sounded behind the party. They swirled around to find...
|Oh, really? Is that what you think is going to happen?|
The party brought their weapons down upon the Draconians, reducing the Kapaks to pools of acid. But, the remaining Draconians (which the party later learned were called Bozak) had quite a nasty surprise up their sleeves.
|Winged Draconians everywhere!|
Not only did the Bozaks fight harder and nastier than their Kapak cousins, their very bones exploded when they were killed. As Thaddeus stuck his sword in one, he was suddenly enveloped in shards of flying bone fragments. Wil Dhargon was gravely wounded by another, as he hit it with his hoopak. Even in death, the Bozaks were dangerous!
One the Draconians were dealt with, the party quickly left the tomb and headed back to the outpost to report to Sir Karl.
|Just once, I want this guy to greet the party with a "hello" instead of getting straight to business.|
Sir Karl was glad to hear that the party had defeated the Draconians and recovered the items from the tomb. He then showed them a message that was intercepted by the forces of good. It read: "We have contacted a traitor at the renegade ogres' base. We can slip in unobserved and slay the renegade leaders. If we are not successful, beware. Our spy tells us that the renegades might try to ally with the forces of good. Their knowledge of Kernen makes them dangerous."
Sir Karl told the party that they would need to investigate this matter.
UP NEXT: The party follows the trail of the message