As they descended into the depths of Kel’Este, the great pyramid temple of Yamen’Kathala, the party encountered, at the base of the stairs, a branch in the dark, unlit stone halls. Taking the upper branch, the party found themselves in a medium sized, heavily furnished room. The walls were lined with urns, bookshelves, wardrobes, and chests, which, after special examination by Cam and Ix, were revealed to contain many items that suggested that this room is the King’s Chamber, where a high shaman or a king would have been buried at the building of the pyramid, but upon further examination, three valuable art objects were found that were elven in appearance, but had a strangeness to them that suggested that these items were simple replicas, put in place by someone trying to mimic the native society. A large column in the middle of the room, quickly smashed open by A’kahn revealed beneath it’s stones a wide glass tube with purple streaks of lightning flowing down from what the party assumed was the crystal atop the pyramid inside of it. Knowing for sure the temple held an Ancient presence, they were cautious of the two blindfolded statues near the doorway.
Up the stairs within the King’s Chamber, a smaller chamber was revealed that was noticeablly less furnished. Six statues lined the walls, which turned out to be mechanical on the inside, as a common trope among Ancient guardians. Besides two valuable necklaces, the only item of interest in the room was a strangely placed large pile of sand. Cam, being the first to enter the Queen’s Chamber, dug through the pile to reveal a metal plate with a molded imprint in the center. A human hand, perfectly sculpted as an indentation into the metal plating, with a single red crystal embedded in the palm. Sure the hand was going to do something very bad with the guardians standing silent and stoic around them, Cam decided to place not his own hand upon the scanner, but the severed human hand colored and decorated to look like a bird. The console roared to life, causing the entire temple to suddenly blaze with ambient lighting, and the group was greeted with an echoing mechanical voice. It seemed to try several hundred languages before locking onto common, stating “DNA sample has been verified. Please proceed to intellect processing rooms for analysis.” Knowing they had gained access to the temple, the party took the descending path, wandering deep into the depths of Kel’Este.
They faced four puzzles that tested their wits and endurance. First, they were challenged by a set of six animate statues, which appeared to move and act as queens on a chessboard. Before they attacked, the party heard a riddle played as a clue for the puzzle.
“When the king fell there lived six queens
All who wished to rule the land
Six castles they each erected
they tried, but they could not stand.
For each Queen placed themselves
across the land from another’s
and their towers came into conflict
like the conflict between brothers
when the castles fell, there was peace
and they could not see one another
because the queens stood strong and fast
where they couldn’t take each other."
After deactivating several queens, the party soon figured out that they had to force or trick the queens into standing in locations where, according to the rules of chess, they would not threaten their position. Next, the party was faced with a disorienting room filled with smoke and lined with mirrors, with six “runes” engraved onto the floor. After discovering these runes were not magical, but sensors designed to appear to be runes, the party faced a daunting threat. Exact duplicates of themselves appeared around the room. Without attacking first, the doppelgangers didn’t attack them either, and the party quickly figured out that they had to move themselves so the duplicates would stand on each of the runes. Next, they found themselves in a room where the laws of time appeared to work backward to a point. The players had to move backwards to move forwards, and had to target behind themselves to attack in front of themselves. After defeating the six guardians within the room, A’kahn found that leaving through the door they expected to only placed him back at the entrance of the room. Quickly realizing this, he then tried to leave from where he entered, reversing the time effect and opening the room to the next area, revealing a slow moving body of the Uru’Gwaith attempting to escape from something beyond. The other door, connected to the smoke and mirrors room, revealed a group of Alu’Nore attempting to do the same. The party decided to fight the Alu’Nore, finding that the choking gasses within the room seemed to be aerosolized acid, leaking from the walls. While resting, the party experimented with the super-sharp metal they found back near the village. They discovered, under certain conditions, the metal would float with an electric current flowing through it, defying gravity.
The final puzzle was in an open and brightly lit room with a giant orrery floating in the center. The herald told the party that the “ecliptical defense system [was] online” and warned them that “enraged holograms are extremely hot” when two holographic beings were summoned beside the orrery. Each of the monsters appeared to embody a heavenly body, one with powers and appearance to match the moon and one to match the sun. Mid combat with the holograms, Cenarious and Ix figured out to set the orrery to appear as if there was an eclipse, lunar weakened the moon being and solar weakened the sun hologram. With this knowledge in mind, the monsters were quickly defeated, and a suit of Moon Armor and a Sunblade glaive materialized where the holograms were summoned. With the final puzzle complete, the doorway to the final room was unlocked.
As the door wrenched open, the lights cut out, revealing in the darkness an Ancient structure. The glass tube connected to the King and Queen’s chambers stuck out of the ceiling, spewing lightning to all corners of the room out of it’s broken base. A ring of scalloped panels were placed in the center of the room, each of which appeared to be constructed of the same metal as discovered before. This ring of panels appeared to be containing a massive swirling vortex of gravitational energy, that, at the moment the door was opened, began to suck the party in towards it’s black hungering maw. It appeared that the panels were missing in one place, so the party focused on those. The party anchored themselves upon the control panel for the orrery, and entered the area, attempting to repair the massive hole in the machine with a Make Whole Ritual. All the while, gravitational spirits began to spew out of the vortex with abilities to push and pull the members of the party toward the hole in the device and into the mouth of the singularity. Before anyone was destroyed, the hole was closed.
Victory was short lived, however, when, due to the panels lacking a charge for their anti-gravitational effects to take place, three panels were relentlessly pulled into the singularity. To make matters worse, the singularity began to produce stronger force beings with the express intent of forcing the party into the maw of the singularity. Cenarious found himself pulled into the vortex when he was attacked by the Gravity Weavers, and even as the party were busy repairing the holes in the shielding, realizing now the electrical charge was necessary, A’kahn fell into the hungering vortex, meeting his irreversible and untimely demise as well.
The remaining party which consisted of Arlyyn, Elliora, Cam, and Ix, managed to defeat the Gravity Weavers, and with but one hole in the machine, were faced with the greatest challenge the singularity had to offer. A great beast of force with the ability to manipulate the gravity around it to massive quantities, known simply as the Event Horizon, materialized out of the singularity. Luckily, with quick dodging skills and smart placement, the shielding was repaired by Elliora’s hand, and the Event Horizon disappeared into the singularity as the gravitational forces around them equalized once again. Buried in the muck of an escaping Uru’Gwaith, the party found a small device that, while badly damaged, appeared to adhere to the muck well enough to avoid the force of the singularity. The device spoke with a familiar metallic voice, and revealed the secret.
The Singularity was used as a tool for powering all of the Ancient world’s weaponry millennia ago. Harnessed by the plating, and powered by itself in a perpetual energy production device, the singularity was used to great effect at the time of the ancients. This facility was created to last for as long as possible, for if the shielding would rupture, the singularity would fall into the planet, destroying the world. As time went by, the power of the singularity slowly waned, until it failed completely about a century ago. The power, now with nowhere to go, began to be absorbed by the surrounding Astralite and became a breeding ground for magical energy, the most prominent of which was Primal energy. The secret is the existence of the singularity at the base of the temple, which, by a High Shaman nearly a century ago, was used to trap the spirits of the Alu’Nore and the Uru’Gwaith within.
The party was now armed with the secret of the ancients, but at the expense of A’kahn and Cenarious’s lives. Such is the price of such knowledge…