The heroes stepped into the Forgotten Shrine, joined by Goladin, Crank, and the mysterious face in the wall named Pelethor. Upon entering the first dimly-lit room, the floor fell out beneath Dietrich and Ayla, dumping them into a viciously spiked pit. Once the trap door opened, the spikes began churning within the pit, threatening to grind them into meat.
Obed, Ivy, and Cain Silverkin worked together to disable the device, sending waves of magical power into the pit to demolish the spikes or nimbly working the gears to slow the turning spikes. In the pit, Ayla and Dietrich shattered the spikes with brute strength.
Eventually, enough of the spikes were destroyed to allow the bloodied Ayla and Dietrich safe passage out. Pelethor congratulated them on a job well done and opened the door to the second Trial.
The second room contained a standing pool of water with four pulleys situated on high ledges in the corners. Four large stone blocks stood near each pulley. Upon entering the room, Pelethor once again closed the door at the far end. Tentacles sprouted from the pool and whipped about the room, striking and clutching the heroes. Obed found that the pulleys were attached to a large net under the surface of the water and worked to tie the anchor rope to the large stone blocks while Cain, Ivy, and Ayla worked to keep the tentacles at bay. Dietrich, seeing Obed’s progress, worked on one of the other stone blocks.
Finally, after some struggles in teamwork and with the help of Cain’s summoned elementals, they managed to tie all four pulleys to the stone blocks and kick them into the pool, raising the giant squid out of the water and suffocating it. Pelethor granted them access to the final Trial.
A large sand pit with the elvish numbers of 1-12 written in onyx blocks sat square in the center of the room. Glowing symbols graced the wall on the far side, which Cain immediately began translating from Sylvan. Once they entered the room, the door behind them sealed shut, two stone golems came to life, and the ceiling — filled with holes to allow large spikes through — began sliding down, threatening to crush them. Ayla and Dietrich held off the golems while Obed and Ivy dug around Cain’s first translated number “3”. Meanwhile, Pelethor made corny quips at them regarding their use of time.
Cain successfully translated the symbols as a series of numbers: “314”. Dietrich immediately realized this as pi, the ratio of a circle’s radius to its circumference, and suggested they draw a line in the sand from the “12” to the center of the circle.
Ayla stepped away from the golem and did exactly that, which shut down the golems and raised the ceiling back to its original, non-threatening position. Pelethor declared they had passed the Trial of Skill, the Trial of Might, and the Trial of Time, but had one more trial to endure. The heroes scoffed, but were led into a final chamber in which Goladin and Crank were pinned to the wall. They requested that Crank be released and Pelethor acquiesced. However, he asked them to pass judgment on the “god” of chaos, whose actions led to the creation of the Heaven’s Shield and brought ruin to the land.
Goladin argued with Pelethor, claiming that it wasn’t his fault Pelethor died at the hands of Ordinem. Eventually, the heroes unanimously voted to spare Goladin’s life and Pelethor, admitting his judgment was clouded by anger, reluctantly released his rival. Cain then asked if Pelethor would like to transport his soul to the citadel, and Pelethor agreed to consider the offer.
The heroes entered the next chamber and climbed down a circular staircase whose walls were covered in Abyssal scribblings. Cain translated some of them and relayed the information back to his friends. This chamber, it seemed, led to the gateway through the Heaven’s Shield, and its existence was possible only through the usage of planar rifts. Such rifts would not please certain powerful beings on the Outer Planes — perhaps Ordinem was one such powerful being, thus explaining his appearance during the ritual to raise the Heaven’s Shield.
When they reached the bottom, they found a set of white-hot iron doors. Above the doors sat a plaque with an inscription written in Abyssal: “Fire beyond this door to burning bodies maim; whence thee pass, thy soul thou must reclaim”. Dietrich soiled himself in fear, realizing that this was a gateway to Hell itself.
A single stone basin sat beneath the stairs. When Dietrich poured some of his own blood into the basin, it disappeared and filled a small crevice on the door. The others gave some of their own blood until crevice was filled, and the door opened.
Beyond the door stood a guardian Devil, who offered them the ritual in exchange for removing the offspring of Vermyntherinax, a great Dragon Overlord, from their midst. On some occasions, he explained, Vermyntherinax is an ally to the minions of Hell. On this particular day, however…
The heroes entered the lair of the dragon, who seemed intent on eating each one of them. After an intense battle, in which the dragon and Obed exchanged taunts — the dragon specifically warning that his father would hunt them down for their insolence — the dragon fell before the might of the party. They recovered the dragon’s treasure hoard and found the ritual, which was written in Celestial. After copying the ritual to parchment, Ordinem appeared and declared his/its intent to deliver swift justice for tampering with the natural order of the planes.
The heroes ran for their lives, and when they returned to the Forgotten Shrine Pelethor caused several ceilings to collapse, slowing down the angered god and giving them time to escape.
When they exited the Forgotten Shrine, Goladin raised his hands dramatically and lowered them, magically crushing the Shrine into the ground. The ground continued lowering, however, and sunk into the Blood Marsh, forcing the heroes to retreat to the citadel and watch helplessly as the southern portion of Shieldus sunk into the ocean.
In the citadel, Ayla read the ritual and explained that it could only be performed on a night of the full moon. Cain, an avid student of the phases of the moon, said that the next full moon was only two days away.
Thanatos will be executing the ritual to lower the Heaven’s Shield two days hence.