Following the deadly combat encounter with the arrow demons (MM3) and bonedrinkers (MM3) the party took a moments respite to regain their bearings.
Caven Henderson mourned the death of his niece Alexis Monroe. He mourned her death, knowing that her test in this life was over. Resurrection was out of the question as it violates the (current) principles of the Believers of the Source. Nevertheless he spent the hour preparing her body for burial.
Darian Gravier and KB studied the fountain present in the room. They racked their mind over what the different colored waters could represent. They puzzled over the phrase inscribed on the fountain: Life is a test. What do you seek from this test?
Benedict Cumberbatch delivered a glass chalice that he discovered with his keen owl eyes.
The inside of the chalice was inscribed with several sentences, each vaguely colored according to the colors of water cascading down the tentacles of the glass fountain.
There were nine pursuits listed.
I seek to gain power
I seek to embody grace
I seek resiliency
I seek to attain knowledge
I seek to inspire others
I seek to gain wealth
I seek to survive
I seek to learn
The party considered their walk in life and pledged themselves and drank accordingly:
Kalira vowed that she sought to attain knowledge from this life.
KB and Gravier vowed that they sought to learn from this life.
The massive Owl vowed that he sought to embody grace in this life.
Big Bad John vowed that he sought resiliency from this life.
Cavan Henderson vowed that he sought to inspire others in this life.
No one felt any different from drinking. Why would they? They were already in their test.
The party progressed from this room and elected to rest after the foul stench faded to a memory.
The following day they continued onward. After descending down a roped hole the group came upon a dark wooden and steel door with no visible entry. Their first inclination was to destroy their way through the door, but after a few moments of thought the group instead decided to search the immediate area. Doing so revealed a lever that opened the door. Upon pulling the lever down, the group was blasted with an unearthly heat that took the breath straight from their bodies. Immediately their skin was burned and their body began to overheat. As the fatigue set in the one who opened the lever let their hand slip and the door snapped closed again leaving the party drenched in sweat and suffering from heatstroke.
KB offered up an armor gem that he had in his possession that provided some protection against the heat. Gravier took him up on the offer and as the others returned up the pit he girded himself to enter the unearthly heat. He used the excess climbing rope to tie the lever down and entered into the brilliant room.
The rather small room was swelteringly hot. Spiraling along the walls in the room were long stone grooves that protrude from the wall. The grooves appeared to be containing lava, with a steady stream flowing slowly along the grooves into a large metal container at the far end of the room. The container appears to have writing around the base of it.
Above the dark colored wood floor of the room was a large platform suspended by chains, anchored into the wall. The platform is suspended covered a significant portion of the room. It provided some shade, but given the heat of the room Gravier was doubtful that it helped very much.
As Gravier approached the large metal container two large eyes appeared along with a mouth that grew onto the side. When Gravier was close enough to read the phrase Progress unlocks the way (in Dwarvish) the eyes focused on him and the voice spoke out to him. While it was speaking, Gravier cast detect magic and, along with his skill in spellcraft, he identified the presence of a single Magic Mouth spell on the container, and also a Magic Jar spell active deeper in the container.
The voice identified himself as Erik Stephenson and the two spoke briefly. Gravier eventually became too warm and had to leave. He promised to Stephenson that he would return the following day with a story for him.
The party elected for a full day’s rest where Purifier Henderson sought new spells to resist and endure the elements.
The party entered the room again empowered by divine support. Gravier made due on his promise and was moved to recite the story of the The Pact Primeval. As he regaled this story the rest of the party enacted their plan to chop down the supporting platform.
This endeavor did not bear fruit as nothing changed following the falling of the platform. KB took this time to speak with Erik Stephenson about his life and learned about an individual named Lord Baggins whom KB believed to be responsible for Erik’s current predicament. Also during this conversation it was uncovered that Erik does not posses the sense of sight at this time. Yet the group did not make any connections with that. Before KB was able to pursue his line of thought the party had decided to enact another plan.
Big Bad John does not have time for puzzles. He took up Alexis Monroe’s adamantine greatsword in order to cleave the metal container in twain. Mid swing he found his body paralyzed. KB, using is proficiency with regard to spells, recognized that Big Bad John had been affected by the spell Hold Monster.
Erik Stephenson began to panic, crying out for the party not to harm him inside the container. KB calmed him as the party continued attempting to cleave the container.
After repeated paralyzations Purifier Henderson realized that the eyes were focusing intently on Big Bad John whenever he would bring his attack. This prompted Gravier to cast glitterdust on the eyes.
Although they were not blinded by the attack, they clearly didn’t like the assault. This is evident because the eyes flew out from the container revealing that they were attached to one another but not anchored in the container. The set of eyes was identified as a Lurking Strangler (MM3), a pet often owned by beholders.
Purifier Henderson, filled with righteous fury, immediately flew up and smote the creature. Curiously the creature did not attempt to escape its fate.
Following this scuffle Gravier continued to puzzle on the phrase written into the side of the container. He realized that the phrase Progress unlocks the way may intentionally place emphasis on the word “progress” as a word. He eventually concluded that the solution was to get Erik Stephenson to say the word “progress” in the dwarven tongue.
Doing so resulted in the metal container splitting open, pouring lava all over the room and revealing a Conflagration Ooze (MM3), an intelligent gelatinous creature formed of fire and hate. The party’s hopes were placed on Big Bad John and KB as smoke filled the room from the floor being melted under the heat of the lava. Big Bad John (empowered by divine strength given to him by Purifier Henderson) went toe to toe with the ooze and KB used his spellpower to delay the actions of the Ooze. The creature was overwhelmed by the power of the party working in tandem and Big Bad John had to nimbly dive through the air to avoid being covered in the remnants of the creature.
As the lava continued to spread the door was sealed off leaving most of the party in the room. Panic never set in, as they were safely in the air via levitate which had been cast over 30 times from the same wand during these events.
The dark wooden floor began to give way underneath the heat and the voice of Erik Stephenson called out for salvation. Disregarding his own safety, Purifier Henderson plunged his hand into the lava in order to rescue their new acquaintance’s gemmed form.
As the floor continued to melt it was revealed that underneath the room was a deep stone chamber leading down into the earth. Levitating down this revealed a final corridor leading to the final chamber of this area which was inhabited by a remnant the one who created the arch by which the group entered in the first place.
In the final room the party came face to face with Steve the Great, the founder of their division of Godsmen. Steve ushered the party to complete this current test by passing through a running waterfall within the room. After submerging themselves and passing through, he congratulated the party on being forged and emerging stronger.
He gave them various Emblems which matched the corresponding color of virtue that the party had committed themselves unto. Before leaving, Purifier Henderson delivered Erik Stephenson to Steve the Great. Steve was grateful for the company of Erik and allowed the party the opportunity to speak with him. Holding the reminders in their hand the party engaged in discussion with their superior, truly an opportunity that would never come again.
Steve did not seem to know what the large crystal devices were that unleashed taint upon the world, but recommended hunting down the deity Vecna for the answer to that secret.
The party decided against continuing to bother the legend and simply expressed their gratitude for his life.
Following the enlightening discussion he empowered the party with the ability to use the portal sticks keyed to his arch. Purifier Henderson took the liberty of breaking the inaugural stick and creating a portal by which the party could return to the Isle of Freedom from which they came.
Upon reaching the other side the party was surprised to discover a living Alexis Monroe who was deeply distraught over failing her test. Purifier Henderson was overjoyed to see her once again and they embraced.
The party took a moment to consider their next move.