Ero looks about at the surrounding cave structure, the bright green light providing ample glow to see by. There appears to be no discernable exit, no way out of this cave bar the way the group entered. As vast as the cave is, the airflow and visible ecology seems to support this assessment. Very few predators, little diversity in the plantlife, and the relative cleanliness of the cave show no signs of visitors in recent memory. There also appears to be no ambush point or sign of a trap; no mezzanine, no platform, no murder holes. It seems safe.
Darrin lets out a breathy gasp. “Wow… Look at that…thing!” He catches himself and shakes the feelings that begin to stir within him. While he’s never seen something like this, something within stirs and seems to want to connect with the structure. Licking his lips and stepping forward, he appears struck with a thought as he stops and rumages through his pack. Pulling out one of the green shards, he holds it in front of him, partially blocking the monolith in the pit, noticing the similarities in their composition. “Simon…is that thing… The treasure?” He turns to look at the bearded holy man, who returns his look with a wide-eyed look of bewilderment. “Because I didn’t bring my big bag.” Darrin continues, before turning back to the structure in awe.
“… I think this is going to be a tad more complicated than I thought…” Simon responds, glancing over to Jila before moving closer to Darrin and whispering his concerns over what is to come. Nix’s agreement with the Elves, after all, would be to negotiate on how to deal with the treasure once it was encountered, and Simon suspects that Jila knew about this monolith all along.
Theodore sees Darrin take out the small green shard and compare it with the monolith. Looking down at his hands, he sees that the larger pieces he has picked up also match the monolith. Some pieces seem to resemble crystal wands, while others are broken chunks, but regardless they seem to match up with the smaller shards that the others appear to have. Seeing Nix disappear over the lip of the pit, Theodore starts after her, following her down the steep slope onto the stepped ridges that help with climbing in and out.
Standing side by side, the two Druids invisibly share their connection with this monolith. The Order was right: they do recognise the artefact. This is it. The crystal monolith is the Druid Artefact they are tasked with protecting. “Adrik, we’ve found it! Oh, thank the Feyweave!”
“Yes we did lorawyn. And it’s very beautiful.” the usually silent Dwarf speaks deeply, almost euphorically. Of course, the limits of the mission the Order gave were vague; now the monolith has been found, it’s clear how close Simon is to finding it… now what?
Reaching the bottom of the pit, Nix and Theodore look up the tall, ridged slope they’ve descended. Friendly faces look on above, with Bennet and Korik taking the time to look over the claw-like crown of stalagmites surrounding the monolith. Mushroom people gather around them, making friendly gestures. They do not respond verbally, nor do they seem to understand what is said, but they accept your presence and continue to make stretching, creaking sounds.
“Do you know what it is or does, Nix?” the heavily armoured knight asks, reverently keeping his distance from the object, and a hint of interrogation to his voice. While he was sure of its purpose, he needed to establish what she knows. Nix seems entranced by the structure, slowly walking around it and moving closer, her fingers caressing the surface gently. It feels solid, like polished stone, with a static charge around it that gives a spongey sensation. The creatures emerging from it must have done so with magic, as that facet seems entirely intact now.
Slowly wandering and allowing her eyes and mind to explore this giant crystal, Nix lets her hand slip into her belt pouch and remove a small pearl and a glassy shard. She then disappears around the far side of the stone.
Seeing the small bundle of fur in the arms of the smaller mushroom creature, Theodore kneels down to its level and adopts a caring tone. “Is it okay? Can I take a look at it?” Holding the furball close to its chest, the small one moves towards him until he bumps into him, and then turns and sits on Theodore’s thigh. Cuddling into him, he twists his body so the knight could see the small wolf cub, its hind leg injured and its eyes clamped shut. It lies very still.
Atop the mouth of the pit, standing a short distance behind the others, Jila turns his back to the party and moves his face close to Talison’s in order to speak privately with him. In a low, gravelly tone, he whispers to the Half-Elf “This is the prize, Talison. This is what we were sent here for. Not exactly something we can split with these others.”
“Again, something the mule wasn’t made aware of.” Talison replies with a brief smirk. “Then what do we do, if we can’t split it?”
“We leave. Let the others do what they want. That monolith is now under the jurisdiction of the royal court Magolglir. Our mission now is to return, and inform them of our findings.” He pulls back to read Talison’s face, which has begun to scrunch into a disapproving look. Furrowing his own brow, Jila speaks more sternly “An army will be sent to secure the area and any remaining people will be… ‘dealt with’.” Despite initially conspiring with Talison, Jila pulls back slightly, seemingly uncomfortable.
“Dealt with?” Talison quickly looks around, knowing he was being louder than he hoped. Hushing his tone, he tries to cover his upset. His aggressive hand gestures betray otherwise. “You wouldn’t be here without these people! And now that you don’t have a use for them you want them dealt with?”
Matching the hissing, whispered shouting, Jila returns Talison’s tone. “They are outsiders, Talison! Do not forget, we are here on a mission for OUR people! We may have fought alongside these warriors, but that does not mean we abandon our mission…” Quickly taking a breath, Jila recentres himself and exhales deeply, walking around Talison and stopping by his side, the two of them no longer looking at each other but now both regarding the party at large. “Look, we’ll make sure everyone is removed. It’ll take us around a week to get back, arrange a contingent to travel out and secure the area again. These people will be gone by then. Our people will then take control.”
“Our people? More like your people. Just… don’t hurt them, or so help me it’ll be the last thing you do.”
“… That sounds an awful lot like a decision being made. Be sure it’s not one made in haste, boy.” With that, Nix approaches.
“A decision has been made, be sure you are not in the way.” Talison leans in to whisper this to Jila before Nix gets too close.
“Geran is here!” Nix blurts out, almost breathlessly.
Nix grabs Talison’s arm and waves Bennet over, who leaps down from his stalagmite climb and joins them. “Geran is behind the monolith…” Nix continues, elaborating on how she saw him sitting with his back to her, a few of the mushroomoid beings sat with him. He didn’t seem to notice her, but once she performed her magical readings she quicly came up here. Having proven himself power-hungry, she proposes they sneak around to the far side, bind him and gag him, making sure he can’t cast spells or try to use the monolith. Jila takes a deep breath before agreeing, nodding at Talison with a look he had seen many times. His emotions were gone again, and it was all about business. Their spat, Talison knew, wouldn’t get in the way of the task at hand. While handy in a pinch, it can be infuriating to witness the cool, collected way Jila conducts himself at times.
“What of the mushroom people? Are we sure they won’t respond if we become aggressors in their domain? Do they live here?” Bennet begins questioning as the Elf makes his way around to the far side of the pit, ready to strike from above.
What do you do?
Nix discovers that the monolith contains the following spells, made available after a week-long ritual to attune to the monolith:
*Power Word Stun
*Mordenkainen’s Sword – Unique Spell
*Investiture of Wind
*Zone of Truth
*Glyph of Warding
*Detect Poison and Disease
Talison has 1 level of exhaustion, meaning he has disadvantage on all ability checks. This does not include saves or attacks.