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Yet again, Sedryn's gentle approach is trumped by Aeroz's aggressiveness ...
When Aeroz and Sedryn both knock on the door again, the panel slides open for a second time. This time, the eyes look angry.
"CAN'T YOU SEE THAT WE'RE ... uh, closed?"
The voice takes on a different, meeker, tone when the eyes see Aeroz's crossbow pointed at them.
"OH! You mean those ... uh ... people. Just a second ..."
You hear the sounds of bolts being drawn back, then the door swings open a crack. Aeroz grabs the doorknob and pulls the door all the way open.
The interior of the building is very dark, so it takes your eyes (even Aeroz's) a moment to adjust. The entranceway is a narrow 5' x 10' passage with a pair of heavy velvet curtains at the other end. Along the walls are ratty posters of various bards and other musical acts, presumably the scheduled entertainment for the bar. (e.g. "Coming soon - Warmy Melamot and the Wemics!" and "Gibbering Mouther ROCKS!")
The curtains are swaying, suggesting that the "doorman" has beaten a hasty retreat back into the Golden Griffon.
Achkby takes a long look around the street outside. The buildings in this part of town are run down. Garbage lies festering in the streets. The few passers-by keep their eyes on the ground, trying not to be noticed. No one seems to be paying any attention to your group. Achkby shrugs, then turns and enters the Golden Griffon behind the others.
Aeroz and Darius stride confidently into the bar through the velvet curtains, and the rest of the party follows ...
The interior of the Golden Griffon is surprisingly large, almost cavernous, and very dark. Even though it is midday outside, the only illumination inside comes from a small number of dimly glowing sconces along the wall. The dimness is uncomfortably dark to all except Aeroz.
You have entered on the upper level, a balcony that runs all the way around the interior. You look down onto the lower level, which is where the bar is located. There is also a small stage and a number of tables and chairs down below. Again, the illumination is faint, almost non-existent.
There are very few patrons in the Golden Griffon at this time. A small humanoid is behind the bar (on the lower level) polishing glasses. A pair of (probably inebriated) humanoids sit quietly conversing at the bar. Another humanoid appears to be sleeping at one of the tables, a half dozen empty glasses before him. There is something wrong with all of them, but you can't quite put your finger on it at the moment, because your attention is immediately drawn to the "doorman" who is waiting for you just beyond the curtains ...
A large bulbous creature hovers above the floor in front of you. Ten eyes (two of which look familiar) are attached to writhing tentacles on top, while a larger single eye lies in the center of the creatures "body". The central eye is closed. Below is is a gaping, toothy maw. The corners of the mouth are turned upward in a wry smile. The creature is wearing some kind of tunic or apron around its circumference. On the "shirt" is a message: Don't run, you'll only die tired.
One of the ten smaller eyes looks behind you. You hear the outer door slam shut, then you hear several snicks as the bolts are thrown home.
The beholder speaks, "Greetings and welcome to the Golden Griffon!"
The beholder laughs. "Me, the owner? Nah. I just work the door. The owner of the establishment generally sleeps during the day ..."
"I have to tell you that we don't usually serve your kind here (except occasionally as hors d'oeurves). And I really don't like being threatened with pointy objects." About four eyes look directly at Aeroz as it says this.
"Disintegrating the lot of you would be easiest I suppose (and would be more than you deserve, elf), but you've got moxie, and I like that."
The beholder grins.
"Today must be your lucky day, because I'm in a good mood. More to the point, I'm in the mood for riddles. Answer me two of the three and I'll let you live. Get them wrong and you all die for busting in here as if you own the place."
The beholder doesn't wait to see if you agree to play his game.
"Here is the first riddle ..."
I am always hungry.
I always must be fed.
Let me lick your finger,
and it will soon turn red.
The beholder's central eye opens, and its expression becomes stern.
"Fire. Your answer is fire. It needs wood to burn, otherwise it will die, hence feeding. And the licking fingers symbolizes the fires movement, and if it touches your finger, or eye in your case, it gets burned, turning red."
Aeroz sheathes his rapier.
"Sorry I threatened you. We have some friends who said they would meet us here, and we needed to get in. I had no clue an eye tyrant was the doorman though. So whats your next question"
"Close, elf. The answer is 'air' (or 'oxygen' if you will). But air does not turn brown leaves to green, nor does it turn blue flames to red (quite the opposite actually). Your answer, therefore, is not completely correct."
The beholder's eyestalks survey the rest of the party.
"Is the elf the only one among you with any wits? Can any of the rest of you explain why 'air' should be the answer to the riddle?"
"Blood. Blood in it's natural state is a bluish, purpleish substance. When air or oxygen mixes it with, it gains a red hue. That is the third part of your answer. Well, that is 2 out of three I beleive."
A smirk crosses Aeroz's face.
"Well, I now that we are done, I have some questions for you. I'm looking for three women. Perhaps you have seen them? A white haired elf, and two human women. One blond, one brunette. We were told to meet them here."
"A good guess, but a seed needs water, soil and sun in addition to air before it turns into a plant. That was not the answer I was looking for ..."
The beholder fixes its eyes on Aeroz.
"Your SECOND try was better than your first. The riddle refers to the effect of air on copper, iron, and blood. But I give you partial credit for answering 'air' and recognizing that the second part of the riddle referred to iron and rust ..."
As Aeroz smirks at the beholder, the beholder's visage darkens.
"But, arrogant elf, you apparently don't listen well with those pointy ears of yours. I did not say that I would assist you if you correctly answered two riddles, I merely promised not to kill you ..."
As the beholder speaks those words, Aeroz turns to stone, the smirk still frozen on his face. The stone statue that once was Aeroz rises off of the ground and rotates until it is facing the rest of you, a warning that insolence will be punished.
The beholder addresses you as a group. Its expression is grim.
"One and a half riddles answered correctly. One riddle remains. For your lives, answer me this ..."
Pronounced with one letter, but written with three,
Two letters there are, two only in me.
I'm double or single, black, blue, or gray.
Read me from both sides, I'm the same either way.
The beholder descends a few feet and its eye tendrils droop. He almost seems to deflate slightly in an expression of disappointment.
"Well done, human. Indeed, the answer is 'eye'."
The beholder sighs, and the statue of Aeroz floats gently to the ground. It rocks slightly and threatens to fall, but Sheyra grabs the statue and prevents it from toppling and smashing into pieces.
"You have won my challenge, but we really are closed right now," the beholder explains. "If your friends (whoever they are) planned to meet you here, then you should return after dark.
"In the meantime, you'll probably need to take your friend here over to the hospital. I am sure you can find a good transmuter there."
You hear bolts being thrown once again, and your group is pushed by an invisible force back out through the front door. You find yourselves out on the street with a fragile stone statue.
Once your eyes have adjusted to the sunlight, your group gingerly carries Aeroz back toward the center of the Merchants Quarter. Amazingly, you attract relatively little attention. No doubt passers-by assume that Aeroz is just a well crafted piece of art.
When you ask where the "hospital" is, you are pointed to one of the large guild houses on the hill, marked by a large red cross. You discover that within this house of healing are wizards and clerics of all schools and faiths, ready to help to heal or remove curses and the like (for a fee of course).
You spend several frustrating hours in the waiting area (a pillared pavilion with fountains and greenery) surrounded by the sick, cursed, metamorphed, and the infirm. Finally, Aeroz's name is called, and you carry him into one of the back chambers.
Two strikingly beautiful woman with flawless, almost glowing, skin dressed in simple white robes look Aeroz over. One aasimar jots down a few notes.
She asks, "Does your friend have any medical conditions we need to know about? Any recent illnesses? Is he on any kind of tincture or medication?"
The other aasimar looks Aeroz up and down.
"Hmm hmm. Petrification, I see. What did he run into? A medusa? A gorgon? A basilisk?"
The aasimar physician raises her flawless eyebrows. "Petrified by the gaze of a beholder?" She shakes her head in wonder.
The second aasimar takes notes as the physician continues ...
"The stone to flesh casting will require the services of a transmuter, senior grade. In order to cleanse his body of the filth fever, we will also need to pray for divine intervention. If your friend has any particular religious preferences, please let us know and we will try our best to accomodate him."
The aasimar scribe finishes writing, and hands Sedryn an invoice:
Sheyra reaches into her backpack and pulls out a pouch containing the 200 gp she won at the Mud Bowl. "I was saving this for an emergency," she says, "And this seems like a perfect opportunity."
And then they made me their cheif.
While you try to assemble enough gold pieces to pay for Aeroz's restoration, one of the aasimars leaves the room.
She returns with a bald man in a crimson robe. His scalp tattoos mark him as a Red Wizard from the Thayan territories of the Mulhorandi Empire. The red wizard pulls a thin stiletto from his robes and waits patiently as you look for the additional 400 gp required for the stone to flesh spell.
"I wonder how much I can get for my spleen..." Darius says jokingly. "I really have practically no money. I suppose I could contribute the measly bit I have if need be, but I'd rather not sleep in the street tonight. Anyone else rolling in the money?"
__________________ Currently Playing: Lotho Vendara, Halfling Rogue, in End of Ages IC/ OOC