25 Arodus, 4718 (Starday)
After we contemplated our situation for a few moments, we all concurred that the scriber of the circles, and our way out, was most likely behind the ironbound door. While I thought we should continue to seek the way out, the others thought it would be prudent to make sure we weren’t leaving any threats at our back. Rather than using the door with the circles, we opened the door across from it
This led into a room similar in size to the others we had explored. There was a large pillar in the center covered in banners. More banner racks lined the walls, though in one corner of the room several racks had been knocked over, leaving a pile of cloth on the floor. As in almost every other room in this museum, the banners were covered in circles, this time inked rather than chewed or cut out as they were in the previous room.
I took a closer look at the banners on the pillar, and found that many of them were related to the Taldane Horse. Mixed in among them were banners of foreign nations. These were often hung outside the senate building as a sign of friendship when dignitaries visited Taldor. Oliver was able to identify many of the banners on the racks as those of various regiments of the Taldane Phalanx. He could tell by their condition that the banners weren’t used in battle, but were most likely replicas meant for display purposes. It really is a pity that these rooms have been lost to the ages. There is so much history here, and much of it may be forgotten. My idea to speak to Princess Eutropia about a thorough search of the archives had mostly been pushed to the back of my mind considering the current situation, but it was still something that I thought needed to be pursued eventually.
Under the pile of knocked over banners, Cornelius found several equations scrawled within yet more circles, though he wasn’t able to recall what it was for. We all took a closer look, and I must admit that math was never my strong suit, nor was it something that was taught enthusiastically at the Kith. Oliver, however, was able to determine that these equations were used to find the radius and circumference of a circle. He did think it was a bit odd though, because it seemed like the circles were drawn first and then someone used the equations to find their measurements.
We were all ruminating over what this meant and if we were going to encounter an unhinged geometry professor down here, and why such a person would be in the archives in the first place when we received a message from Martella: “still not safe yet. assassins stalking the Senate halls. The Ufen Guard have withdrawn. Senate Guard outmatched. Lion Blades reinforcing them. Be careful my friends.” We responded that we had found more survivors, and were attempting to find our way out the archives.
Other than the strange equations, there was nothing worth salvaging for our current purposes, so we made our way back into the hallway. After getting Martella’s message, we decided to try and go through the ironbound circle door rather than explore further. We needed to find Martella and the Princess as soon as possible.
Our fellow survivors kept their distance down the hall – thank the gods for that – as Verity attempted to open the door. It was locked. I started to suggest that perhaps a key could be found if we continued down the hallway when the circles on the door began to glow, and then spin out around us, infinitely replicating themselves. The hallway seemed to expand, following the spinning circles, before everything seemed to shatter. I blinked, placing a hand on the wall to steady myself while the circles kept spinning all around me. I was able to ground myself in reality, realizing I was still in the hallway, not flailing in an endless void.
A quick look at my companions told me Cornelius and Felyx had been able to ground themselves as well, while Oliver and Verity…well they had not. Both of my friends bent over, holding their heads before retching, vomiting onto the floor. Cornelius tried to reach for Verity, but she stumbled away. I’m honestly not even sure she knew he was there. Felyx reached for Oliver, but he too was lost in circles.
When it was obvious after a few seconds that the effect was not ending, I cast a spell to determine if the effect was magical and began to concentrate on the circles to determine what was going on. Oliver continued to vomit. Cornelius reached for Verity, but she pulled her blade and swung at him, missing his hand by mere inches. Felyx also tried to reach for her, and this time Verity turned and charged straight towards her. Felyx stepped out of the way, and Verity ran headlong into the pillar in the banner room. Luckily she didn’t seem to injure herself that severely. A charge like that could have broken her neck.
Thankfully, the magic began to recede. I couldn’t tell much about it other than it was some sort of illusory effect. Neither Cornelius, Felyx nor Zubari could identify the magic either. Unlike the shocking grasp floor of the display room, the magic on the ironbound door remained in effect. We can only hope that we find a key, and that said key will bypass whatever effect is on the door. Otherwise we may very well be trapped in here with no way out other than breaking down this door and suffering the effects of the magic every time we interfere with it.
After giving Oliver and Verity a moment to recover from the spell, we continued on. The hallway was fairly long, and ended in a door that was already partly ajar. As we approached it, we began to smell a damp, earthy scent, like a river or a garden after a good rain storm. Verity cautiously pushed the door open, and I was quite surprised at what we found. The room was large, and filled with overgrown plant life along both of its walls. Lanterns hanging from the ceiling gave off a soft, warm light like a sunny afternoon. At the far end of the room, there was a stone structure, similar to a temple built in the old Taldane peripteros octastyle construction. A glowing statue of some sort stood inside, and as we got closer, we could see the Eye of Aroden on the front facade of the building.
The plant life along either side of the room were all common to Taldor, including blackberries. I picked a few, and Oliver raised an eyebrow at me as I popped one into my mouth. As far as I could tell, they tasted fine so I gave him a shrug.
Cornelius couldn’t tell what type of magic the lanterns were giving off, but we both concurred that it had to be some sort of spell that replicated sunlight – perhaps the spell of the same name.
We were about halfway to the temple when I caught a whiff of something like rotting vegetation. I turned, looking for the source of the smell when I spotted a branch slowly extending out from the brush, reaching towards Verity’s ankle.
Once more, we found ourselves under attack. Our foe this time was a rather common garden ooze, the bane of many of Taldor’s green-thumbed citizens. They tended to feed off dead plants, but when presented with a living target they would ambush them, hoping to dissolve their foes with a sticky acid. I warned my friends that when hit, the ooze would let out a foul smelling cloud as a defense, which it did when Verity brought her blade down on the creature. We dealt with it quickly, and in truth I was glad I didn’t need to get close to it, though it did let out a sound similar to a deflating bagpipe when it died, and for a second I felt a bit sad for it. Like most oozes, it had no real intelligence, even less than that of an animal, and had probably been living quite peacefully among the plants here.
We turned and made our way to the temple at the end of the room. The statue inside was one of Aroden, though it was broken. The face and one of its arms were shattered. There were two other statues in the room as well: one of a woman wearing plate mail armor and holding a longsword. The other was a winged woman, raising a rapier into the air. Before we had a chance to further inspect the statues, an apparition floated free from the statue of Aroden. It looked us over before declaring: “You are in the House of Arodean. Prepare your sacrifices.”
I raised an eyebrow, wondering what sort of spirit in a temple of Aroden didn’t even know how to pronounce the dead god’s name correctly.