Last we left our heroes, after a brief encounter with a worg and a goblin, they had just entered into a room carved into the stone of a small cliff face. Noting the forest themed wall decorations, the party determined that this place is a shrine of some sort dedicated to the old god of nature, Umrar. In a small room to the right of the entrance, Helmut and Tallyn find a ruined fountain and pool of still water, but nothing else. The only thing to do is to continue on into the dark hallway to the left.
Qin stealthily leads the way, with the others following close behind. His care pays off when he notices a tripwire not far down the first hallway, and small holes punched through the right wall. A devious trap, no doubt. Sneaking past and rounding two quick corners, they see another hallway leading off to the south, and ahead a torch lighting the entrance to a room. They sneak up, and find two goblins in the room, completely unaware of the party’s presence. Helmut, ever the optimist, walks into the room to greet the goblins. The rest of the party isn’t so friendly. Tallyn runs between the goblins and terrifies them. Rin readies an attack. Qin looses an arrow at one of the goblins, killing it instantly. Helmut follows suit and knocks out the other with a mighty blow from the flat of his sword. So much for that.
The room is clearly meant to take advantage of the tripwire trap, with the holes in the wall letting the goblins shoot arrows at unsuspecting intruders. Coming from behind another door in this room, the party hears scratching, and Rin opens the door to investigate. Immediately, a wave of rats pours out before the door can be shut, and Rin and Helmut are covered in swarms of the creatures. Not so much of a threat to Helmut’s sturdy construction, but Rin is squishy and the rats get in some bites before being cut, burned, and splattered fairly quickly after. Rin heals himself as the goblin begins to come to. He helpfully informs the party (after counting on his fingers) that there are “more than two” goblins in the shrine, and that they are lead by someone called Skarg. For his help he is locked in the former rat room. We’ll let him out later…
Hyped up from the fight, the party loudly makes its way down the other hallway they had passed, soon finding themselves in a much larger room with a high ceiling, an altar, and a large statue of Umrar behind it. It is in noticeably nicer condition than the rest of the place has been so far. Qin senses magic emanating from the altar, and has the idea that something from nature should be offered. He goes back out to the entrance, returning with a small stick, and places it on the altar. Vines quickly grow up around the alter, entwining the stick and breaking away, leaving a behind small loop of vine. Qin takes it and keeps it for later, not sure of the significance of this object. Meanwhile, Tallyn finds and unlocks a hidden door leading from this altar room directly back to the entryway.
Continuing deeper into the shrine, the party finds a small room with a worktable directly south of the altar room. Not much to see here. Let’s just move on. Wait, no. Qin detects magic coming from a corner of the room. There’s a hidden stone door in this wall, but its locked. It’s much different than the door Tallyn found, too. Anyone know how to use a lock pick? Anyone even have a lock pick? Maybe Helmut can just smash it open? Helmut smashes it open. Behind it, there’s a tiny room with another door, this one made of wood. This room is different, though. No decoration, and noticeably warmer. That door is what the magic is coming from. Every type of magic.
Qin goes over to open the door. He reaches out, grabs the doorknob and pauses for a moment before quickly letting go. Come on, just open it. Tallyn walks over, grabs the doorknob and pauses for a moment before letting go as well. What’s wrong with you guys? Rin walks over, grabs the doorknob, and freezes in place. When they touched the doorknob, Qin and Tallyn saw themselves open the door and find a vast barren desert behind it, with nothing around for miles and miles. But they came to their senses and let go, realizing this to be some sort of magical vision or hallucination. It seems Rin didn’t see the illusion. Rin walks through the door and finds himself in the middle of the wasteland. Turning around, the door is gone. With no other choice, he begins to walk towards a megalithic building in the distance.
How does one save a friend whose mind is seemingly lost in a magic door? Even touching Rin gives Tallyn the same vision as before. Qin ties a rope around Rin, being careful not to touch, and with Helmut’s help they pull Rin away from the door…and he falls to the ground on his back, arm still reaching out, frozen in position like a statue. Helmut smashes the door with his shoulder, and the wood buckles against the stone directly behind it. This door doesn’t even have hinges. And Rin is unaffected. Qin doesn’t think anything medical he can do will help. Helmut bops Rin with his metal foot and Rin finally comes to his senses, and recounts his desert wanderings. Before moving on, the party notices a now rather smudged set of footprints left by someone walking out of the door. Maybe leave this thing as a puzzle for later.
There’s only one way to go from here, and the party moves off quietly down another hallway. They hear a throaty growling coming from somewhere behind the doors to the south, and from the north they can hear water dripping and splashing. Making their way decidedly away from the growling, they find a (non-magical) wooden door not properly set in its hinges, behind which is the source of the watery noises. The door is forced into place, and opening it reveals a small room, partially flooded by an underground stream that runs through it. There’s a skylight, and below the opening is a small shrub growing in the stream.
The shrub greets the party. “Hello. I am a shrub.” It tells how it was awakened by the shrine’s keepers a long time ago. After coming to terms with the idea of a talking shrub and naming it Schröbert, the party asks it what it knows about the shrine. In its own shrubby way, Schröbert says that after a long time of very little happening, someone new has come to the shrine, bringing these goblins with him, and has been reshaping things to suit his purposes, whatever those might be…