Tuesday, June 30, 2020

View of the Vanfrost - Episode 3

by Eric "Rosetta" Willisson

It was an RTC night out! Janus, Bright, and I were joined by three of our petitioners, Tirvanel, Laika, and Arryn. We traveled to Rhiassa, where the Vanfrost can usually be found. We were met by Ulric and Aeston, but surprisingly Aeston left without saying much. Ulric let us know that the Vanfrost had been taking people all over the worlds connected to Norlund, so it was hard to say where we would end up. We agreed to try to meet up with Laika if we got separated, since he probably had the least planar travel ability. I took a few moments to study the Vanfrost, but was unable to get any hints at where it might lead. Fighter in the front, we entered the portal.

We found ourselves at the bottom of a circular room, with raised platforms receding like a stage all around us. The sign of Leo was on the floor, and there were decorations and symbols suggesting the Moon all around. In addition, Janus’ keen senses told him with certainty that we were in fact on a Moon.

A more pressing issue was that we were surrounded by automata. There were small ones near us, and larger ones farther away with some sort of light-based ranged weapon. Several of our number have plenty of experience with constructs, but we were unable to apply it because an intruder alarm sounded, and the automatons began to attack us. Thankfully, a storm of missiles, a Lightning Bolt, and a Sword of Light easily took them down.

Once we had a chance to look around, we found that there was a sort of orrery at the center of the room, with a representation of a Sun and five planets spaced equally around it (I am unclear on whether this presents us with information about Norlund’s new cosmology. It would certainly be interesting if it were, to coin a phrase, ‘aurorocentric’). There were also five small orbs, colored red, green, blue, yellow, and purple, on separate pedestals. Three of them were locked in place, but two, purple and green I believe, were free to be moved. In addition, there were archways with various colors spread around the room. Each looked like a doorway, but instead of a door, there was a slab of stone. On each stone were one or more phases of the Moon, in particular places, and in the colors of the orbs we had found.

We figured out that we could open a doorway by placing the orbs in locations indicated by the stones. The orbs were able to be placed near the planets, and they would hover where they were released. So, a purple full moon in the lower right position on a door meant putting the purple orb near the planet that corresponded to the lower right, with the orb on the far side of the planet from the Sun.

Because of some orbs being locked in place, most doors were impossible for us to open. The first one we did revealed a small chamber with a crystal we were able to take. The second contained a puzzle with a series of locks and keys. Unusually, each key fit every available lock, and the secret involved how the keys were rotated. They were akin to clock hands, and the hours had to add up to particular values. Once we had the keys oriented correctly, a new orb was released, giving us access to more doors.

The next door we opened, attached to the puzzle chamber, contained more automatons. These had shields which our Magic Missiles could not penetrate, but neither could their ranged weapons. Laika fought the ones who came close enough to engage in melee, which kept their shields up. The others lowered their shields to fire at us, and succumbed to our missiles. Behind them was another crystal.

We continued like this, picking up crystals and solving puzzles that unlocked orbs. There was a color-matching puzzle where we had to place nine tiles such that adjacent sides had the same color, and we used just the slightest amount of Foresight to pin down one of them and reduce the time we would have to spend. Before long, we were advancing down what seemed like one of the final hallways, where we were faced with a huge, well-armed automaton turret.

It was equipped with deadly beams of light, which were fixed in certain directions but turned on and off, and with small explosive “missiles” which took the form of artificery rather than the standard magical energy (they did turn out to be magical in nature, however, which we used to our tactical advantage). It was a difficult fight, which expended a chunk of our healing, but eventually, Tirvanel was able to claim the crystal in the room, while Laika got behind the turret and demolished it. Along the way, Janus called for Divine Aid and was rewarded with an item unlike any I have seen since Kahlenar’s pirate weapon. Some sort of long metal tube that emitted a directed blast at least as powerful as a Lightning Bolt.

With the turret destroyed, the final orb unlocked, and we were able to open the last doorway. It is worth mentioning now that we had examined some of the objects around, and found repeatedly that instead of the usual clockwork or magical sigils, they seemed to rely on the artificery of hair-thin metal wires. The automata worked this way, and the crystals were laced with them as well. This suggested that there would be sockets to insert the crystals to control a mechanism. Beyond the final door, we found such a mechanism, with crystal sockets, directional controls, and foot placements.

We entered the crystals into their panels, and found that we were unable to walk away. However, our attention was drawn to the other end of the room, which had a forcefield protecting us from a vast void, and a distant platform. We found that each of us was able to control one particular shape of tile, with an associated color. We had to manipulate the tiles into position to form a bridge spanning the void. When we had succeeded, the forcefield dropped and our feet were released. We crossed the new bridge, and on the far platform, found a giant acorn, as big as a boulder. It was an acorn of Yggdrasil, the World Tree. We will keep it safe until such time as it is ready to be planted.

Our mission completed, a portal appeared to take us back to the Vanfrost, and back home.

((OOC: Thank you again to Jason and his staff for finding a way to run this cool quest while we’re all unable to have in-person events! It was great to think and act as our characters again for a bit.))