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The Second Test of Resolve

Posted in: Weekly Update by Ariel on February 13, 2009

plane-of-resolveIt was in an uneasy silence that we journeyed to the Field of Cysts, where the test of Resolve would take place. No one, except Alek felt very optimistic. Kaurophon was rightly quiet. Acgar perhaps thinking of her own place as a somewhat outsider. Sadi, Cinder, Myntilly….. I don’t know, can’t imagine their thoughts. For me, I’d gone from total certainty that Kaurophon had to go to believing that his very soul was at stake. I feel like I’ve betrayed everyone.

What use is a faint-hearted cleric? Well, the mummy handed me the lantern. I hoped that I could redeem myself in the second test. As we stood staring out at the pulsing landscape, I wondered if we would survive the day. The land was filled with suppurating cysts. God, it was gross. Kaurophon says that there was a great battle here and that the land is trying to digest the bodies of the good people. It swallowed the evil ones without much trouble. My heart lifted when he said that in fact, each good body makes Occipitus just a little more good.

The lantern showed a beam of light pointing east. We slowly walked on to the ancient battlefield. basilisk

And almost walked right into a large creature that was, I found out the hard way, a basilisk. I think the beam from the lantern woke her. Since I didn’t know what it was, I cast a quick tongues spell so that I could talk to it. I had a feeling there was a limit to how long the lantern would burn and I did not want to waste time fighting.

It didn’t pan out as I wanted. Before I knew it, Sadi and Alek had been turned to stone. We were trying to drop the creature and it was not going well. Myntilly yelled in my ear, “It’s part of the test! We’ve let ourselves be distracted! Let’s try to move past it.” Acgar had already summoned Hamouk and she put Sadi’s lifeless body on his back.

solid-sadiKaurophon grabbed one of Alek’s legs and dragged him past the basilisk. Cinder fired arrow after arrow to keep its attention. And then we were past it.

I asked Kaurophon and Acgar to bring our fallen friends together. I pulled out my spell book and thumbed to the page with break enchantment. This is a fairly new spell for me and with the chaos of the battle my hands were shaking, but I wanted a moment to review. I closed my eyes, said a prayer and began to recite the spell.
It worked! It worked perfectly, actually.

We couldn’t stop for celebration, though. We needed to continue following the lantern’s beam. We seemed to meander for hours. At one point we came within a few yards of the basilisk again. As we came around a boulder, we saw a winged serpent stuck in one of the larger cysts. Alek cried out and ran up to it. “This is our friend from last night! We have to help it!” And he began to hack at the gelatinous mound. While I bent to check on the creature, Sadi and Acgar pulled at Alek. “We cannot stay and help. We must keep moving.”

resolve

Myntilly pointed to the north. “I think we are making our way there. That big rock. And the lantern is not going to burn forever.”

The creature had been unconscious. I took a moment to do a quick healing on it. “We cannot stay, my friend. May god be with you.” I picked up the lantern and we continued on.

What seemed like an hour later, we heard voices in the distance. Cinder stepped closer. “Four people, I think. Humans….. Digging? Why are they digging? And talking, arguing about something. I heard them say something Wee Jas.”

The path through the battlefield was very specific. If we erred from the path, as we had done at first, we were transported to the beginning of the path. If these people were on the path, we had to get by them. The first thing I thought of was obscuring mist. It can be useful if we were avoiding a fight. When we were standing just beyond their hearing, I had another thought and began checking my spellbook again. “What are you doing?” asked Sadi.

“I can cast command on them and make them, I don’t know, fall down. Or something.” I finished quietly.

Sadi nodded. “OK. Sure. Why not make them keep digging instead?”

Pelor was certainly watching over us. We all tiptoed past the diggers without incident. As we were out of earshot, Kaurophon said, “They are other seekers! They are, quite spectacularly, failing the test of resolve.”

A few more turns and we arrived at the glowing white rock. The lantern suddenly shone bright from all four sides. We circled the rock. Myntilly said, “We should all join hands and approach the rock together.”  And we were transported to a forest.

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