Apr 20 2012

Chronicles of Netheril, April 13th, 2012

The Well of Dragons – Chamber of Souls Vault Puzzle

Tairen’s information was incorrect. Wherever this Chamber of Ascension was, the Last Grasp of Shadowbane was not to be found there; it was here in the Chamber of Souls.

At the back of the Chamber, access to a large alcove was being prevented by a powerful elemental barrier. Inside the alcove, in addition to large amounts of gold, there was an antique sword and a strange scepter. The sword fit the description we had of the Last Grasp of Shadowbane; and based on its shape and the markings engraved upon its surface, the scepter’s function was related to the opening or closing of portals. This was most likely the key to closing the Netherese portals in the Shadowfell.

Taking down the elemental barrier would prove to be an interesting challenge.

There were four other alcoves in the Chamber that were also blocked by elemental barriers. Above each of the five alcoves was a plaque, and on each plaque, a single unique symbol was engraved. A further search of the Chamber also revealed what appeared to be some kind of control panel.

Elemental Barrier Plaques & Control Panel

Elemental Barrier Plaques & Control Panel

Next to each symbol on the control panel was a hole where a peg from a nearby bin could be inserted. When we inserted a peg in one of the holes, its symbol began to glow with energy. We surmised that by activating specific symbols in a particular order it might create an energy pattern on the grid of the control panel. The correct pattern would probably allow the elemental energy of the vault barrier to pass through it drain away.

The question was, which symbols did we need to activate, and in which order. It was a logic puzzle and therefore should be relatively easy to solve once you had the proper context in which to think. Unfortunately, until we could translate the symbols, the context would elude us and we would be stuck with literally millions of possible combinations.

It was at this point that we had a sort of group epiphany. One of the documents we had found in the Netherese garrison was a note with hastily scribbled annotations next to a series of strange symbols. We had initially dismissed it as insignificant; but in our present situation it seemed likely that it could be relevant.

A quick comparison showed that the symbols on the note matched on both the control panel and the plaques. What we had found was a translation key. Apparently the Netherese were exploring other ways of obtaining the Last Grasp of Shadowbane.

Translation Key

Translation Key

The symbols on the plaques represented elements, and the ones on the control panel stood for specific types of dragons. So we assumed that you had to activate the symbols of dragons whose element matched those on the plaque.

Turns out we were partially right.

Since there were at least two dragon symbols on the control panel for each element, we had to activate them in pairs. When we did so, a line of energy connected both symbols. The difficulty came when there were more than two dragons with the same element; there was no way to know which pair of symbols was the correct one for that element.

We had to start over quite a few times, because if we chose the wrong pair of dragons for a particular element the energy line connecting them would intersect the line of another element and overload the system. The control panel would reset itself and temporarily blind the operator in the process.

When we eventually found the correct solution, the elemental barriers in the Chamber disappeared and we rushed into the vault.

Puzzle Solution

Puzzle Solution

Drake took the sword and Voulge the Scepter of Rift Closing. Seeing as it was supposed to be a very special sword, we assumed something would have happened when Drake took it. But nothing did, so we grabbed as much gold as we could before we left.

The Well of Dragons – Chamber of Ascension

At this point, the Cultists had realized what was happening and sounded an alarm. We would soon be surrounded, so we rushed to the Chamber of Ascension. Tairen might have been wrong about the sword being there, but let’s hope he was right about the Chamber having a secret exit from the Well.

When we reached it, we discovered that the Chamber of Ascension was in fact a large circular cave containing a pool of lava. There was a small walkway running around its outer circumference and four wide ramps led to a larger elevated platform in the middle of the chamber. On the other side of the Chamber was what appeared to be an abandoned tunnel; our exit. If we could reach it, we would be able to lose the Cultists.

On our way to the Chamber they had steadily gained ground and were about to catch us, but then suddenly stopped when we entered the Chamber. We soon found out why.

No more than a minute after we had entered the Chamber, two very large volcanic dragons popped up out of the lava and attacked us. They were backed up by a large number of fire elementals. But rather than attack us, the elementals bolstered the dragons instead. As if all that wasn’t enough, a brain in jar joined the fray and attacked us from the cover of the elevated platform.

We somehow managed to kill all the monsters, but just barely. We were in very bad shape and in no condition to keep on fighting, so we ran as fast as we could to the abandoned tunnel in hopes of finding an exit.

The Well of Dragons – Underground Tunnels

We had gone quite a distance without hearing any hint that we were being chased. The bodies of the monsters we had killed in the Chamber of Ascension had fallen back into the lava and disappeared beneath its surface. Hoping that the Cultists believed we had suffered the same fate we took a few minutes to rest and tend to our wounds.

During our rest, all the emotion drained from Drake’s face and he started talking in a voice that was not his own. The spirit trapped within the Last Grasp of Shadowbane had awoken and was somehow speaking to us through Drake. It introduced itself to us and asked who we all were. And despite being to speak through Drake, it apparently could not read his mind, for he also had to introduce himself.

The sight of Drake talking to himself, and in two different voices at that, was a strange one indeed.

After our short break we resumed our search for the exit from the Well. We eventually found our way to a very large cavern. Near its centre was a large crystal formation engraved with strange runes. As we approached it, we caught sight of the skull and eventually the skeleton of an immense dragon.

This was not going to end well.