A Salty Demise

3,378 Polidrysion 10

We headed southeast along the coast to investigate a dream Tydeus had about a sacred helmet.

It was a hot day, and even riding my new steed, Cupid, the heat from my chain mail was almost unbearable. After about two hours we reached the edge of the Eldenwood wood and skirted the southern edge until we reached the other side after an hour.

With hills ahead of us and the coast to the right, we headed toward the hills until we reached the town of Arnedemos, at which point we realized we had accidentally gone southwest.

Continuing on, a bit lost, we saw a string of hills to the southwest, the coastline to the south, the Triton village to the northwest, and the Eldenwood to the northeast.

I rode off and found a high viewpoint, from atop the highest peak, we could see the peninsula continuing to the southwest into a narrow strip of land. To the east, we could see a fortification in the distant coastline. To the south, some structure rested on the high cliffs in the distance.

It was getting late, and Sephiro prepared a Tiny Hut for us to rest safely within.

In the night, Pericles woke us, alerted to the sounds of snorting in the distance. Soon the Tiny Hut was surrounded by at least three wild boar. I stepped outside of the safety of the hut and impaled the nearest one. The others fled, and I dragged the dead beast into the hut for Pericles to carve up. All I know is that in the morning, the place was a mess with boar blood and guts and there were only a few pieces of bacon left for me.

In the morning we continued on, and after four hours we reached a fortification. It was approximately one hundred square feet, and the guard outside informed us that it was known as the Jolly Camp and was a base of the Irreverent Band. We asked the guard about what lay beyond, and he said it was only the Salt Flats, which was similar to something from Tydeus' dream, and that no one ever travels that way.

We asked to speak to the lieutenant about hiring the band, in case we needed their assistance dealing with the renegade Tritons, but he was rude and had no interest in speaking with us if we didn't have the job and pay at the ready.

Continuing south a wide country spread out before us, with the Eldenwood still to the east and the coast to the south. We followed the coast south and the Eldenwood faded away after a couple of hours.

We were heading east when, after an hour, we saw a figure in the distance. The humanoid figure, dressed all white, was twice the size of a normal man.

It was only a quarter mile away, and I only had time to don my chain shirt before it was near, and I rode up to meet it in advance of my companions.

Before we could engage it properly, Sephiro summoned an invisible creature to battle it. It had soon dispatched the invisible foe and was advancing toward me. It left a trail of white powder in its wake, and it seemed to be made entirely of salt! I impaled it twice with a mighty Divine Smite of my spear, but it barely flinched and slammed me with each of its salty fists. The blows were so hard, I barely managed to maintain my sense, not to mention stay mounted. My shoulder was crushed, and I was bleeding badly and barely able to lift my shield.

Cupid disengaged and I rode to Pericles, who had blasted the creature with Scorching Rays, hooking his arm with my good arm and lifting him on to Cupid. After an agonizing attempt, he had soon packed and wrapped my shoulder, and at least the bleeding was quelled.

I commanded everyone, especially Athyn, to stay clear of the beast, and flee. Unfortunately, Tydeus got too close to it, and the creature's salty blows left his corpse smashed and disfigured! I don't know what he was thinking. Poor fellow!

Pericles' divine spells were effective, so I rode him around the creature, keeping our distance, while he peppered the salty construct with Sacred Flame until it eventually crumbled in a salty heap. Unfortunately, the ordeal took so long, it was too late to cast Gentle Repose on Tydeus.

We retrieved Tydeus' body and rested in another of Sephiro's Tiny Huts.

Once we were rested, we followed the creature's salt tracks northeast to a structure several miles to the east. The Eldenwood was again on our left, and another forest was on our right.

Approaching the structure, it was a long and narrow two story temple with a red roof and grand columns. Stairs led up to a pair of plinths, on one of which was a pile of salt. I waited outside with Athyn, while Pericles entered with Sephiro, who lit the inside with Dancing Lights.

Eventually I entered and found, on a marble pedestal, a life sized marble statue of a powerfully built man with a horned helmet, wearing hoplite armour, holding a sword high over his head with both hands. The walls were lined with urns. An altar was in the back of the temple.

Using my Divine Sense, I detected no indication that the area had been consecrated or desecrated.

On the floor in front of the pedestal was an inscription written in Ancient: "Sacrifice can only be asked by those willing to give it."

On the base of the statue was another inscription in Ancient: "The archon fell like a star from the sky, meeting the rising son at the Horizon's Edge. On that fateful day, the lord of light sent us a king to lead us back to him. Praise be to Heliod, and his divine son Agnomakhos."

Pericles detected abjurations, enchantment, illusion, and transmutation magic from the statue.

Sephiro cast Identify on the statue and shared that he detected multiple spells: two castings of Glyph of Warding, Magic Mouth, and an enchantment on the statue that he could not identify. He concluded that the sword must have transmutation.

Pericles found a hollow behind the base of the statue. It was trapped with a blade, but after the trap was disarmed we discovered a silver statuette of a horned, helmed warrior riding a Pegasus.

On the back wall of the temple, Pericles found more inscriptions in Ancient: "Behold the temple of victory, erected by the Archon Agnomakhos, in celebration of his triumph over the wretched Archon Aegyptos. Here lies what is left of him and his brethren, to stand witness to Agnomakhos' glory for all time, while his subjects now server Agnomakhos', toiling endlessly in the mines for the glory of the empire of the sun."

On the altar were blackened and crumbling scrolls. Pericles was able to make out a few sections. One of the scrolls contained a theological treatise, and included: "Heliod teaches that an indebted servant is by nature to submit to his master's will, so long as it does not result in harm. However, whatever means are necessary are to be used to chastise an indebted servant is subservant to the master, the master must answer to his archon. This is the way of the illumined order." He also found a personal letter including: "...requesting another shipment of the purest salt to create another automaton. Make sure to head to the hills due south of the forest. The bustling labor in the mine will make it too easy to find. If you reach the Four Winds Plateau you have gone too far, and there is no time to waste, acolyte. The first automaton has been a complete success."

Sephiro searched the urns, and in three of them found a total of 1,000 electrum coins, each marked with sun with a spear on one side and labelled "Agnomakhos the Great" on the other.

We were at a loss, having come here to pursue Tydeus' dream. I placed Tydeus' body on the altar.

Examining the statue's sword, it appeared that there was a reflective speck on the blade, and its white material lacked the marbling of the rest of the statue. We all exited the temple, along with Tydeus' body, as Sephiro leaped up onto the statue and removed the sword from the statue.

A voice emerged from the statue, saying: "Put this weapon back as you found it and go southwest as far as you are able."

The sword had an ivory handle and a large topaz gem in the pommel. The word judgment was inscribed on the crossguard.

Assuming the words were part of a clue, I urged my companions to return to sword and head southwest.

We marched for hours until we reached the shore.

From the sea emerged a half shark, half hippocamp chimera, approaching aggressively. I stabbed it with my mighty spear and it soon retreated back into the sea.

We searched the area, but found nothing.

Realizing our folly, we returned to the temple.

We found the place as we had left it and I lifted Sephiro up so he could retrieve the sword. We tied a rope around Sephiro's ankle and exited the temple, the other end of the rope in my hand. Again we heard the words: "Put this weapon back as you found it and go southwest as far as you are able."

This time, Sephiro let go over the sword and began running from the temple. I tried to grab him, but he leaped around me. I tugged on the rope and he fell to the ground, where I grappled him. We struggled, as he used his spells to distract me, but eventually we overwhelmed him and tied him up. With no other way to dispel the magical influence on him, we had no choice but to stand guard over him through the night as he struggled to be free of his bonds and head southwest.

By the morning, the effects on Sephiro had worn off. Pericles prepared spells to dispel the magic should it affect us again.

Again I tied a rope around Sephiro and lifted him up to the statue. Only this time I made the foolish mistake of staying in the temple while he grabbed the sword. Again we heard the words: "Put this weapon back as you found it and go southwest as far as you are able."

Sephiro was unaffected, but this time I was compelled by the urge to obey. I dropped Sephiro and tried to take the sword from him. Meanwhile, Pericles once again rushed to my rescue and was able to Dispel Magic, dismissing my urge to obey.

And so it was that we returned to Neolantika, laden with treasure, Sephiro wielding a magic blade, and the unfortunate remains of our new companion, Tydeus.

Your son in search of glory,

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