From The Records of Tala
We awoke the next morning ready to continue our search for the mysterious items of the Knives’ Shadow Games…or at least some of us did. After a late night dealing with the Great Adventure and questioning the ork tribals, Lokan and Dave were not ready for an early morning. We left them in bed and Iktomi, Gen and I made our way to the bazaar to try and locate Tetchia’s bracers. I can’t say I was upset by the loss of Lokan and Dave on this first stop. As far as the social graces are concerned, they are the least gifted, and without adequate sleep, I shudder to think of the two of them trying to negotiate with anyone.
Knowing what you’re looking for is helpful, and we quickly located the bracers, prominently displayed at one of the shops in the bazaar, just as Tetchia had said. Gen and I quickly made friends with the person working the booth, but were disappointed to learn that any business regarding the bracers would have to go through his boss, Gurin. We were initially less successful in befriending Gurin, but as a businessman he explained the situation. Apparently Tetchia had cut him a good deal on the bracers, but he was required to only sell them to someone for his cost, 300 silver, as well as a foundation stone from old Tenko.
Let me just say when Tetchia decides to set a challenge, she does not mess around! Foundation stones are said to be pattern items for Tenko and maybe even Ahtenko. I’ve heard of some of these stones in the possession of the Knives, but they are rare and valuable prizes. No one would part with one if they had it, and finding one is even harder.
Gen got Gurin to warm up to him, as most people seem to do, and we found out that there had already been some interest in the bracers by a t’skrang, probably the one we’ve seen with the Enlightened Materials. With some quick thinking and a bit of silver, Gen secured us a bit of an edge on any other caravans that may be seeking this prize. With a promise of a down payment of the 300 silver, Gurin agreed to take the bracers off display. Hopefully that will curb any further competition from the Great Adventure and a little bit of good will while we try to locate a foundation stone.
Gurin’s only advice was locating a history on old Tenko to try and discern the location the stones were originally laid. It was a good thing we already had an appointment later that morning with Aya Siropese. With her impressive library, she would surely have the information we needed, though at what price we’d have to see.
We had time before our appointment with Aya, so we stopped by Atsin’s stall at the bazaar to check in and let him know the leads we were working on. He seemed busy as some of our goods were already getting some interest. We left him to his task and headed for Aya’s office.
We were shown in by the same wizened man as before to the darkened office. This time Iktomi opted to light the candles himself, rather than wait for him to return. Aya soon joined us, and is her way, cut right to the heart of it. She is not one for the games, and does possess one of the items we’re looking for, a set of gloves to be exact. While she was not one for the intrigue of the Shadow games, she was willing to use them to her benefit. Due to the recent dry weather, she has recently become aware of a new passageway into the Shelter beneath Ahtenko that should be unflooded. She believes it leads to an old library that contains 6 volumes on the initial shelter building plans. If we can secure them for her, or a majority of them, she would reward us with the gloves. She may also be interested in any other tomes we might acquire. Unfortunately, she had meetings with the other caravans scheduled for later that morning, so our advantage was short. We tried to convince her to allow us a chance to retrieve the books without completion, so as to not threaten the safety of the relics with our game, but she seemed unmoved.
We moved on to the subject of our search for a foundation stone. She indicated that she may have a text that Jonah may well be able to scour for some hints at possible locations, but she would only be willing to part with the texts in exchange for 10 units of orichalcum. Though we possess none of the desired commodity, we knew that with the bazaar in full swing, there would be some to be had. We thanked Aya and hurried to the bazaar, to try and utilize whatever lead we may have on the other caravans. We stopped at the bazaar and advised Atsin of our need or orichalcum for the games. As it is to his benefit for us to succeed, he agreed to try and procure the item on our behalf. We left him with the true elements we had acquired and silver to barter with and headed out. On our way we collected our now rested teammates and some rope to make the decent to the crater.
We reached the crater at the center of the city. The rest must have revitalized Dave. He descended the crater, practically free climbing the sheer face an impressive feat to be sure. Iktomi and I were less confident in our abilities so we tied ourselves off and repelled down without any problems. Gen soon followed, unscathed but not one he’ll be writing songs of. I think he may have been too focused on making sure his clothes weren’t wrinkled. Lokan was last to follow, and let me say, whatever sleep did for Dave, it had the opposite effect on Lokan. For a moment I thought he might plummet to his doom, but luckily he managed to catch himself and finish the decent. No worse for wear, but I’m sure wide awake now.
We were quickly able to locate the entrance that Aya had described on the northwest edge of the crater. The passageway had many long ago collapsed passages. Following the only path open to us led to a locked door. Lokan easily had us past and led us to another few intersections with only one viable path forward until we could see in the next room, some stylized pictures and some sort of flowery writing. It was hard to make out. Iktomi said something about, “what is an amount” and something like stairs. We approached cautiously and upon further inspection read, “What has large families and sounds like it fell down stairs?” Gazing around the room we noticed a total of 6 doors all with pictures. Iktomi easily identified each as an Ork, a Windling, an Obsidiman, a Human, an Elf and a Dwarf. Clearly Dave shares a sense of humor with Grandpa Theric, because he raced right through the Ork door and disappeared. Literally disappeared! Showing either extreme bravery or rash stupidity, Iktomi raced in after him only to disappear as well. The rest of us showed more caution. I called to them, but there was no response. Lokan tested the door by throwing a rock in, but it remained visible. We were unsure what to make of the door when a disembodied hand tried to summon us through. The rest of Iktomi soon followed, rematerializing and advising the door was safe and we had to keep moving.
The next room contained half a dozen sculptures on large pedestals, each bearing a large button as one very large locked door. For my taste, the art was a bit too abstract, but per Iktomi and Dave they were large panoramas depicting:
1. A bull running through a corn filed with a large cornstalk wrapped around it
2. A wilting cornstalk surrounded by cows and bulls.
3. 3 growing cornstalks flanked by 2 grown stalks.
4. 2 grown stalks of corn, surrounded by barnyard animals.
5. A cornstalk and husk with something coming out of it.
6. 2 big cornstalks, 2 little ears of corn and 2 wilted cornstalks.
As the previous room had the same number of options we assumed they must correspond to Namegivers. We were clearly not grasping the meaning as after numerous attempts, the only results were some severe shocks from the pedestals and hearing raucous laughter coming from the distance. The shock must have jogged something in Dave’s mind because he started saying something about how, “Any Namegiver should be able to solve it.” I’m not sure if this was meant as a slight on our intelligence (it’s hard to tell with Dave) but it must have inspired him, because he started pressing the buttons, correctly in order, (3-6-4-1-5-2 should you be as baffled as we were.) The door clicked open and the laughter stopped.
We carefully entered only be greeted by another corridor with 3 more doors, one wood, one steel and one intricately carved stone door. We were immediately drawn to the latter as it bore an impressive drawing of ancient Tenko on it. Mirrored on either side of the image, were 4 steel buttons accompanied by a smaller image. From top to bottom they were; a cliff wearing a crown, a large fish, wavy lines with circles in a pyramidal shape, and a step pyramid with a rising behind it. This art was far less cryptic than the last room, with the images representing Vasheen, Phibium, Silver Traders, and Aztlan. The question was, what was the connection that the door was intended to represent?
We didn’t have long to debate this though as we were joined by 3 members of the Enlightened Materials, also after Aya’s reward. Debate soon raged amongst our group as to how to deal with the competition. Dave, Gen and Iktomi favored teaming up with the Enlightened Materials as a means to edge out the Great Adventure. Lokan and I, however, were strongly opposed, after all this was a competition meant to be won! The argument continued with little give on either side until finally Iktomi just turned and pressed the buttons (Vasheen and Silver traders, I believe) and ran off into the library. The race was on!
I followed right behind him. Iktomi went straight back into the stacks. I waited at the door for our opponents. Their t’skrang swordmaster entered, flanked by their large ork guard, Greng. I followed after them passing Gen in the hall talking up their leader, Melison. The t’skrang started searching a stack while Greng set watch. Concerned that they might have a better idea where to look than us, I wanted to make sure I could get at the books should my rival swordmaster get lucky. I tried to throw Greng off with a few insults, looking for a way passed, but with no luck. It started to come to blows, neither of us quite ready to outright draw blood though it may have come to that had we not been interrupted by the arrival of the Great Adventure from another door to the library.
We agreed to help each other fight off the Great Adventure. Gen calmed Greng down, and I went off to check on Dave who was trying to hold one off at the door, while Greng , Melison and Lokan were taking on others that had slipped down the next aisle. Dave had managed to pin down his opponent back behind the door. I went in search of their swordmaster, who had disappeared down another row of shelves, and was once again searching the books. I scanned the spines, and found a few interesting titles and slipped them in my bag, but no sign of the Shelter plans.
That was when everything seemed to go wrong all at once. The room started quickly flooding with water from the corner Lokan had been in. Before I could investigate, there was a loud explosion from behind me. I rounded the corner to find a rather singed Iktomi. He said he had the books, and it was time to go. Gen led us out. I helped support Iktomi (now short a couple eyebrows), while Lokan led an apparently blinded Dave. Not our best moment but we came away with the prize!