Conquering the Barbarian Altanis: Session 90


Character Class Description
Tarkus the Promising Cleric level 2 Follower of Bachontoi, God of Red Wisdom.
Hjordis Fighter level 1 An avaricious, imposing, and slightly unstable warrior.

A timeless parallel existence

As recorded on a series of scrolls by Tarkus the Promising.

I am having a crisis of faith. Not in my faith to Bachontoi, God of Red Wisdom, but my faith in my faith.

I thought I have been a loyal worshipper of the Wise One, and while I have passed one of his greatest tests, I feel I have failed.

During one of my earlier adventures, I fell ill after being bitten by a swarm of rats in a dungeon. I was feeling feverish and ever weaker and thought I was soon to be lifted up into the afterlife when we were attacked by the undead.

Just as I turned these foul beings, I vanished.

At least that’s what my companions thought. I instead found myself, fully healed and healthy, with a stranger at the entrance to a completely different dungeon. A message in my mind told me that this was a test, in which a series of riddles would gauge my wisdom. If I passed within a certain time, I would be promoted within the priesthood and restored to life. If I didn’t make the deadline but still passed the many tests, I would be restored to life. If I failed, those rats would have their way and I would perish. My companion was there to aid me.

I and my companion were told that we were entering the Temple of Greed, and were given the hint that the answer to the final riddle is the opposite of what we thought.

The first riddle was easy. At the entrance was inscribed,

“V R C A A E I” “To enter, one must know greed.”

The answer, of course, is “avarice”.

That opened the portal, but from then on the puzzles became increasingly complex. At one point we faced a statue holding a sheaf of wheat in one hand and a gold bar in the other. In front of it were three rows of tiles, obviously pressure plates. The statue’s arms looked like they could be moved, thus opening a portal further into the dungeon.

I chose poorly. The hint that the answer was the opposite of what I would expect made me second-guess everything. Do I walk down the side with the life-giving wheat, the choice of the wise priest? Do I walk down the side with the gold, since we were in the Temple of Greed? Or do I prevaricate and walk down the middle?

I cannot remember if. I walked down the gold side or the middle, because the moment I stepped on the tiles a scythe cut me in half. A most unpleasant sensation.

Bachontoi restored me to life a moment afterwards. I then walked down the side with the wheat to move the arm. I reminded myself that only the final riddle involved such contrary thinking, although how to know which was the final riddle mystified me.

Many more tests faced us, and one by one we solved them, although I had another unpleasant sham death later on when I dropped into a cauldron of gold. A most fitting end for any worshipper of greed, and a warning by wise Bachontoi never to heed the temptations of the world!

The riddles became increasingly complex and we passed the deadline for promotion. But we still had the greatest prize on offer—our lives.

At last, we passed into a room where an old man sat atop a pile of gold. At first, I did not recognize my deity, for he did not wear his signature red robes, but when I did a prostrated myself to him. A rare boon, to come face to face with one’s god!

The Wise One asked, “If you return to life, how will you spend it?”

This must be the final question. The answer had to be the opposite of what I thought.

The proper answer would be that I would spend my restored life in service of him.

The opposite answer would be something base and worldly.

But if the opposite answer is the answer I thought I should give, then wouldn’t the opposite be the actual answer I should give, or, knowing that, would the second answer be the true answer?

And around and around my head went, my braining ringing as if I wore a helm and a hill giant had hit me on the noggin with his club.

Bachontoi watched me. I had to choose.

“Oh Wise One, I will spend my restored life in dissipation, pursuing all the things of the world that are fleeting and superficial in nature.”

My heart clenched as I saw disappointment in his holy face.

Then, to my surprise, I found myself in Hara, restored to full health. I had answered correctly.

Or had I?

Why had Bachontoi looked disappointed at my answer? Did he think such an answer unworthy of one of his priests? Would he rather have me answer the correct way and snuff me out of existence? Perhaps if I answered that I would serve him, he would have sent me to the Great Monastery in the Sky to forever study the Holy Scrolls and pray to him. Perhaps to die was the wiser choice.

But I am alive, and I will devote however many years are left to me to spreading wisdom and worshiping the Wise One. And in all those years, I fear, I will constantly question my answer to him.

All hail Bachontoi, the God of Red Wisdom!

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#Wilderlands #SessionReport

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