25 Arodus, 4718 (Starday) cont.
I couldn’t help but feel a bit unnerved by the wax mannequins as my friends and I split up to search the room. Layers of dust caked the outdated figurines, but it all reminded me of pictures of Galtan galas I had seen in my history books as a child. Both the men and women wore tall powdered wigs, though the women’s tended to be more elaborate, with braids and ornaments. Their makeup would now be called garish, with bright red lips and rosy pink circles on their cheeks.
The wallpaper was faded and peeling. It depicted grass and trees, attempting to give the room the appearance of being outdoors. I was taking a closer look at a trio of mannequins in one of the corners of the room. Their expressions frozen in mirth were rather off putting, and I found myself frowning at them. I heard Cornelius make a comment about one of the wigs being magical, and a few seconds later he let out a rather shrill shriek. In the few seconds it had taken me to turn around, Verity had already drawn her blade and cut what looked like a wet clump of hair out of a wig Cornelius was clutching. She was scolding him, and Oliver looked as confused as I did as we exchanged glances.
Cornelius explained that the wet clump of hair was actually a creature called “animate hair.” They lived in wigs and would take over the minds of whoever happened to put the hair piece on. After this he glanced down at the wig the creature had once inhabited, and exclaimed that it was similar to a hat of disguise before plopping in onto his head. I glanced down again at the slain creature and decided then and there that I would never wear that wig.
Another hat one of the mannequins wore proved to be magical as well, and could be used to provide magical light to the wearer. Verity took this one, and gave over the magical lantern we had found earlier to Imistos so that our companions had a light source as well.
This room had three other exits, one on each wall. We decided to take the door to the “east” which should also have a door that leads back “south” to the museum room. This room was filled with rows and rows of glass display cases, each of them containing carefully labeled relics. The walls of the room were covered in maps. After some inspection, we discovered that the cases were each dedicated to different Armies of Exploration. The maps on the walls were of various regions the armies had “visited” and some of them seemed to date back to nearly 1500 years ago.
Cornelius told us that he could detect three magical auras in the room. One of them was a jade turtle necklace, and another a cloak. The third aura was coming from the floor, and after some concentration, he discovered that the entire floor of the room was enchanted with the effect of a shocking grasp spell. I’m sure it was an anti theft measure, and would most likely trigger if a case was broken into.
I asked our fellow survivors if any of them happened to be skilled in skullduggery, and was told no. I felt myself bristle when Wilfen looked down at Imistos, as if all halflings were thieves. Annalise is one of the bravest women I have ever known, and to think that people would regard her as a common thief simply because of her heritage made my blood boil. I turned to Imistos, and in his people’s tongue, told him to ignore Wilfen and his rudeness. He seemed surprised for a moment that I knew how to speak Halfling, but gave me a small smile and told me that he was used to it. It is quite sad, and yet another prejudice that needs to be left in our nation’s past.
I herded all my friends out of the room with the display cases. I looked around, and picked up a rather hefty piece of rusted armor that was once one of the phantoms and approached the doorway.
Oliver turned a shade paler than usual, and seemed quite nervous as I approached the doorway. I heard him say, “I don’t like this,” as I took aim and threw the broken bit of metal at the display case with the magical amulet. The floor of the room crackled to life, glowing a bright blue as electricity arched up the metal legs and corners of the display cases. The air buzzed, and a strong smell of ozone filled everyone’s nostrils. As I darted into the room, I heard one of my friends mutter to another “do you think she’s done this before?” I grinned, casting my own detect magic spell after grabbing the turtle amulet. The magic on the floor was fading, and didn’t seem to be recharging, so I ran over to the case with the cloak, shattering it as well and grabbing our prize before returning to the group in the museum. Unfortunately, an elven vase and an orc fertility statue were also broken during my endeavor.
I gave Oliver a smile, but he still seemed strangely upset about the whole ordeal. We were able to tell that the turtle amulet gave some measure of protection, and decided Oliver should wear it as one of the members of our front line. Felyx donned the cloak which provided additional magical abilities.
After the distribution of our new magical finds, we once again checked the floor of the display room, and it was bereft of magic. We continued on to yet another strange room filled with taxidermied animals. Birds of all varieties hung from the ceiling, though an eagle and an owl did stand out to me. There was a pair of wolves, a huge snake, a big cat and a tortoise bigger than any that I had ever seen. In the center of the room was a large elephant. It’s neck seemed to be slashed open, or perhaps it had just torn from all the years standing with no upkeep. As Verity moved closer to the elephant, the pair of wolves began to move, the fur stretched and split over the metal frame, and a horrible, warbling, off-key noise that I think was supposed to be a howl emitted from the creatures. We all spun to face them, but nothing more happened. Upon a closer look at the elephant, Verity found gears inside. At one time, these creatures were all probably able to move and mimic the noises they had in life as some sort of interactive display.
There wasn’t really anything of note in the room, and the only magical creature on display was a large griffon in the corner. Oliver told us it was a World’s Edge griffon, native to the mountains of his home. The plaque on the pedestal the griffon was on had the crest of the Darahans. While Oliver is a soldier, his family are well renowned monster hunters, so it’s no surprise that one of them could have brought down, and then donated the creature to this museum.
As Oliver and I were looking over the griffon, it too began to move. At first I thought it was similar to the wolves, just a lingering magical effect, but then it began to climb off of its display. It let out a screech that was less bird like and more the sound of grinding metal as it leapt to the attack, swiping at Oliver. He told us it was a taxidermied creature. Apparently if taxidermied animals are left alone long enough they can simply animate, and they possess many of the abilities the creature would have when it was alive. As the griffon beat its rather large wings, pieces of metal and feathers fell from them, I was glad we were in a small room and it couldn’t take wing. Oliver, Verity and I were able to box it into the corner, keeping it from getting to Cornelius and Felyx. Our blades proved surprisingly effective considering the griffon was now made of metal and stuffing instead of flesh and bone. While it did get a rather good bite in on Oliver, we still made short work of it.
As we searched the room, we joked about the creature probably animated when it sensed the presence of another member of House Darahan. Other than the stuffed animals, we found nothing of interest so we pressed on through the only door.
It led us into a long hallway, extending to our right and left lined with several doors. Thinking about our path so far, two of the doors probably lead back to the display room and the wax mannequins. As we moved down the hallway, we could see a door completely covered in circles filled with equations. With its unique appearance, I have a feeling that this door is our way out of this odd museum.