Darrin looks at Adrik and Bennet as they peer into the doorway, Lorawyn’s translation of the strange text bouncing in his head as he tries to parse its archaic form. Adrik takes a deep breath, takes a small piece of rubble he’d picked up in his beard during the swim through the previous collapsed tunnel, and tosses it through the doorway.
Clack-clack comes the sound, echoing many times, getting fainter each time. It seems the next room has great acoustics.
Everyone waits for a moment, breath held, until Adrik lets his breath leave him slowly, smoothly, his shoulders slumping forward in relief. The room moves to match him, a tension having been cut. Ero looks at the floor for a moment, a thought having struck him. Turning to jog back up the tunnel, he pauses and turns back to the doorway briefly, smiles to himself, and then turns fully and jogs up the tunnel slope.
Clearing his throat delicately, Darrin begins to speak, breaking the silence that fell over the group. “You don’t think it would be too much to hope that Mrs Tall-Dark-And-Horrifying was the ‘test’, do you?”
Raising a padded glove to Darrin’s shoulder, Theodore gives a comforting look. “Not to try to ruin your hope, but wouldn’t this writing be further up the tunnel is she had been?”
Darrin stares at the chain-covered man trying to comfort him, his face struggling to form a cogent expression. “That makes perfect sense, god damn you!” And with a shrug, Darrin removes the hand from his shoulder and adopts a stoic pose, arms crossed.
Taking a moment to process his brief interaction with Darrin, Theodore juts his jaw slightly. “I’ll do it, if you want.”
Simon has been standing against the wall, staff magically lit and leaning with him. He lifts his head and looks around, then cocks his head at Theodore. “Do… what? Did someone ask something?” Bennet rolls his eyes and then nods at Theodore, his body language communicating caution.
“I can go through the doorway first, if you’d all like?” Theodore clarifies, Simon letting out a silent ‘Ah’ before closing his eyes and nodding.
“I think we should go in.” Lorawyn says to the group. Looking at Bennet and Theodore, she gives them both a nod. “We’ve got your back.” Theodore stops at the doorway, looks from the ground to the ceiling and feels his way around it a little ways, psyching himself up to go through. He takes a deep breath…
“Gangway!” shouts Jila, the Elven warrior jumping to the side, his gruff voice still surprising Bennet who, reflexively, pulls Theodore aside. Ero charges up to the doorway carrying a dead Meenlock and hurls the creature’s body into the cave ahead. With a smack, the lifeless body strikes the stone floor. A moment passes before the satisfied smile on Ero’s face, while not disappearing completely, turns down at the corners. A sound in the distance begins to reach the doorway. A stretching, straining sound, like that of freshly cured leather breaking in, or the creak of a wooden floorboard not quite fitting in its place, starts to waft into the antechamber, getting closer. Despite some eyes turning to Ero, few of them are accusatory.
With the sound being indicative of the group having gained some attention, Nix, Ero and Lorawyn quickly look at and around the doorway again for signs of any trap, any active magics that might have done something. Lorawyn spots a broken piece of the doorway, a facia piece having been ripped from the outside and tossed into the cave. Being on the far side of the doorway, it was difficult to spot, but the telltale crumbled masonry on the floor and her eyes adjusting to the gloom inside showed it to her. She nudges Ero, pointing it out to him.
“Something seems amiss with the doorway, something out of place…there’s no obvious magic happening.” He says to no-one in particular.
“I say we go in, I have a feeling there is something big, scary, and soon to be dead, on the other side.” Talison adjusts his wrist guards as he says this, making sure his armour is secured.
Nix looks at the walls and the writing, then back at the doorway, allowing her mind to wander slightly as the strain of concentration begins to weigh on her. While her mind drifts, her eyes begin to dart quickly and unconsciously between the sides of the doorway, evidently seeing something that hasn’t quite clicked… “Well we’ve got this far… I think we are worthy…” she mutters to herself. Breathing deeply through her nose, Nix seems to wake herself out of a daydream. “Let us see.” Gather her wits, she reaches out with her mind and begins to process everything she’s seeing, along with running a mental training excercise she uses to see faint magical essences. Almost like a candle snuffing out, Nix instantly knows what her eyes saw, the lingering haze of the doubt that was slowly diminishing. “A ward of some sort. To signal… I don’t know. A worthy person would trigger an effect here. But it is broken. Perhaps its been broken for a long time… Or maybe more recently… I wonder… Could it be fixed?” She stops musing to herself, instead speaking clearly to the group now: “Oh, hey everyone. It is safe to pass through I believe. Though, I am very curious as to what this used to do and why… An unworthy person of magical power would break it…”
Ero, spotting the broken piece of doorframe, dashes into the cave upon hearing that it’s safe, running full pelt towards the stalgmite propping up the broken bit of masonry and, upon reaching it, picks it up and runs back. Taking as little time as he can to do so, he places the broken piece gently where it came from on the wall. Seeing that it rests neatly, he dives back through the doorway into the antechamber with the party. Gasping for a moment, he stands with his hands on one side, apparently nursing a stitch despite it not hurting.
“So it ‘seems’ safe, if creepy, in there. I can try to heal the gate and we all get measured for worthiness, or we just…slug on through and deal with whatever we might not have had to if we had been worthy?” he begins to trail off at the end, his frequent stops for breath confusing his sentence.
“Good find, Ero!” Nix congratulates, moving to get a closer look at the doorway again now that it’s complete.
“So, question here. What if ‘being worthy’ was determined by this enchantment? If we fix it, isn’t there a chance it won’t deem us worthy?” Theodore voices his concerns to the group, Jila wandering up to the armoured man and starting to speak. Ero, however, interrupts before the first syllable is ccompleted. “I’m afraid there is, possibly, yes. Then again, there is a possibility that worthiness is determined by taking the time and chance to fix what has been broken, even if there is a chance doing so could be our downfall. The universe wants to kill us and grind us into a fine powder, but it does have a certain sense of humour.”
Jila scowls at Ero, but quickly shakes off the feeling to stand over near Nix, ostensibly to guard her while she’s hunched over the broken bit of doorframe. After he does so, a brief cracking sound can be heard on the edge of everyone’s hearing from that end of the room. Simon, meanwhile, turns to Korik and Bennet, asking them if they had found any other traps at all other than the flooded tunnel. Just as Bennet finishes explaining that the flood wasn’t technically part of the trap mechanism, only the doors were, Nix pipes up again. “Just… Move through to the other side. I believe it created a positive effect of some sort. Nothing terrible.”
Theodore starts forward towards the door again before stopping himself. “Well, have we fixed it?”
Ero swings his shield around to his front, removing the carrying strap and holding it firmly. Bashing the boss with his palm, it immediately begins to glow a bright electric blue. “See you on the other side!” he shouts, rushing past everyone and into the cave.
After a few seconds, Ero clears about thirty feet from the doorframe before his light catches a reflection: about four dozen feet from his swordarm stands a glistening body. It stands a little over two feet tall, a wide-brimmed brow encircles his head and his feet and hands appear to be nought but stumps. There’s an odd texture to his skin, and no clothes on his body despite very little being evident to that fact. He raises his brow so as to more clearly look at Ero, and as he does his eyes catch the light, gleaming an off-red. Despite having no mouth, it begins to growl; an odd sound, somewhere between a creaking door and a new leather boot.
Roll for initiative (1d20 + Dexterity modifier). What do you do?
Nix, I took the liberty of assuming a casting of the Mending cantrip. We can easily retcon this if you desire. This was the faint cracking sound.
Ero is currently the only person in the cave apart from the little mushroom man.
Talison has 1 level of exhaustion, meaning he has disadvantage on all ability checks. This does not include saves or attacks.