After checking on everyone in the Temple and revitalizing our bodies with food and sleep, we received a most peculiar message…from Alabaster the cat. Though he was no ordinary cat, he was as we thought, Gray’s familiar. He wanted us to meet him in the back of Ravenshaw Manor at noon the next day. Our curiosity piqued, we couldn’t help but go.
When we arrived, his voice seemed to come from the trees surrounding us and we never actually saw him. We had to leave, he said. Leave Hadley and let what happened to the people actually happen. As barter, he would allow myself to be cured and not harm us, but Thurik spoke for all of us and blatantly refused. Good ol’ Thurik, always wise, always right. We then knew we were on the right track, however slow getting here, we were on the way.
We left immediately for the tomb. Climbing the cliffs on the East side of Hadley, we came upon a cave. Of course, being somewhat “junior” investigators, we headed right in. Moe first to check for traps, followed by Thurik and myself. About halfway in this dark tunnel, a large stone blocked our exit and the door we found at the end of the tunnel, we quickly realized was false. We were trapped! Not sure if it was my imagination, but the air was becoming thinner and thinner. It was getting harder to breathe. Thurik pulled out his scroll he received from Trevor to “walk through walls”. Praise Ezra it worked! The stone blocking our way seemed to dissolve briefly while we walked through. Sucking in a lung full of air and sang praises to Ezra.
We camped. When we awoke, Moe seemed a little strained from some reason, bad dreams maybe? Not unlike myself, chasing the shadows in my mind perhaps. We searched the nearby area and realized Moe was missing. Thank goodness he hadn’t gone far, he found a small crawlspace nearby and went in without concern! Frustrated, I went after him after Thurik tied a rope around myself. A strange red light seemed to be coming in from the end of the tunnel. Once I realized Moe was fine, I looked around and gasped.
We found the real entrance to Gray’s tomb. I was surrounded by splendor and beauty. There were exquisite paintings on the wall, all depicting Gray at various points of his life. It was something I hope to have towards the end of my own life as well. It told such a story in such a vivid way.
We explored, fell through traps. Then out of exasperation, when nothing we did or said seemed to work to get us further, I tried to push aside this demonic screaming mouth at the end of the tunnel. I slipped and to catch myself, my left hand reached out for the bottom jaw, I felt a burst of pain, took my hand away and screamed. I just lost the top of my four fingers! They seemed to disappear in the ever ending blackness of the Balok’s mouth.
Its maddening…this curse. Each moment that passes makes me consciously aware of the struggle going on in my mind. It takes all my energy and focus not to let it consume me and fall into darkness.
Looking around, it seems I am not the only one struggling to figure this out. Thurik, always wise and brave seems to have the best attitude. Moe, his face, now aged you can see his brow furrowed with concern. I must say it is easier to read now, much to his dismay I’m sure. We have been trapped in this “puzzle” that our dearly departed Gray Ravenshaw left us for a few hours now. The gorgeous artwork on the wall is worthy of decking a king’s hall to be sure. Yet, one of the painting’s beauty is a lie. Our initial inkling was the painting of the dragon. The concept is just too…far fetched.
We have already fallen into a couple of trap doors, I have lost the tops of my fingers on my left hand in the mouth of the Balok. I would be more dismayed, but something tells me I could have lost a lot more, and for that I am thankful. What kind of magic could that be? Unassuming, yet extremely affective nonetheless. When and if we get through this, I want to go back to the study of Gray and spend time studying what he left behind. All that knowledge and history is amazing! And to think, it could go left undiscovered for the rest of time. Coming to the realization that Gray’s intentions may not have been the most scrupulous, but his expertise is undeniable. That is for another entry…
Whether out of frustration or educated guess, Thurik begins to hack away at the dragon painting, and after a few moments, we discover what seems to be a door behind the smooth, flawless plaster. Energized with this discovery, we clear away the rest to find a completely plain door.
Moe opens the door and inside is a dark tunnel. I pick up the lantern loosely with my injured hand. Its no longer bleeding thanks to Thurik’s healing, but it throbs with every pulse. If I am not looking my bandages, I still feel my fingers and there is no question in my mind that I lost them but moments earlier.
We head into the tunnel, Moe going first to check for traps, then Thurik and myself with the lantern. We move slowly and carefully until we come upon beautiful glowing runes in the stone of the floor and our way is blocked by a mist that blurs out what looks like a stone statue with its hand up motioning for us not to continue.
After carful study of the puzzle, Thurik seems certain of the answer, from the beginning. Moe and I are not as certain. It just cannot be that easy to push in all the “S”s. Yet after some back and forth, we cannot come up with an answer as good as Thurik’s, so we go with his theory.
After pressing all the “S”s in the puzzle, I braced myself for an unseen impact and closed one eye. Lo’ and behold, it worked! The mist cleared away and the statue almost welcomed us with open arms. Thank Ezra and her blessings for bringing us Turik and his wise soul! I could have kissed him with relief! Moving on, we discovered a labyrinth of a puzzle with magical gates and levers. In one room, we even found 2 stone knights that nearly killed Moe and Thurik with there long arms and deadly force. It went without saying that was not the right room. If it was, we would surely have died with no one to come get our bodies. Nothing short of Ezra herself, could stop those statues.
Plan B, not that there ever was a Plan A to begin with, but our current path wasn’t leading us to our destination. We split up and finally figured out the puzzle of the tunnels and gates. Now that we are completely exhausted, we had to sleep. We knew we would be secure, the way these gates open and close, so we felt safe enough to rest and set up watches. When the time came for my watch, I focused and concentrated on squelching the fires raging in my mind. I knew for us to continue and live, I had to stop this. After hours of fighting the shadows, I came to, drenched in sweat. Out of breathe and wiping my brow, I cam to the realization, it was gone! It was gone! I have beat the shadow! Praise Ezra! Wait, it was me that did this, me! I alone without the aid of priests or healers…I cannot believe it, yet I do.
I began to feel light, giddy even. As the realization hit me, if I could cast away magic as powerful as that without aid, what else is my mind capable of? I looked around at the sleeping bodies of Moe and Thurik and smiled to myself. I look forward to finding out what else I could do knowing now there must be no limit.
I woke them up and told them that my fight with the dark adaptation was over. Thurik still seemed slightly cautious, but he will see.
After we were all roused and had some rations, we continued on with the plan. In the next room, a stone gargoyle sat in the middle, unmoving. As we proceeded to the door on the opposite side, it’s gaze started to follow Moe. Suddnely, the room began to quickly fill with water and the Gargoyle came to “life” and began to attack us. Once he was vanquished, we turned our attention to the water, waist deep now with no sign of letting up. I tried to help Thurik as best I could to help stop or slow the flow while Moe tried his best to unlock the 3 locks on the iron door.
I was underwater, completely submerged. Is this what it was like to die? Is this were it was going to end for us? Blackness was everywhere, I could not see. I could only feel the water pressing me down and hear the slight tinkering of Moe and the scrape of Thurik’s shield on the stone wall. My lungs were begging for air. My body was screaming for relief either air or death. I began to fight to live. I will not go down like this! Suddenly, the water began to quickly move out in the direction of the door. Moe must have gotten the locks in time! There is yet hope…