“Stand back,” said Milacent, “I’ve got something for this.”
The party had worked their way through the natural tunnels headed west, finally ending up in a square chamber with walls of blue-veined white marble. At the center was a square shaft leading down into the darkness, which everyone figured would lead them toward the interior of the Lady’s Light somehow. Unfortunately, the pit was surrounded by pillars sculpted into the shape of voluptuous warrior women wielding two-headed guisarmes, which everyone also figured were going to animate and attack anyone that entered. Because of course they would.
“Yes,” Scratchy added, “you have a ranseur, which you’re going to stab them with.”
“Well that, but also this,” Milacent answered, pulling out a scarab-shaped pin they had found in the derro laboratories at the bottom of the Crow. “Remember how we couldn’t identify it right away? Well Theodore spent some more time on it later and it turned out that it’s a Golembane Scarab. That means it …”
“That means it can detect the presence of golems and let its wielder overcome their natural resistance to damage.” Theodore said proudly, the a little less proudly when he saw the dirty look Milacent was giving him, “What?”
“I was telling them.”
“What? Magic is my thing! I was just, you know, doing that … thing … that I do.”
“Whatever. Just stay back.” Milacent took the scarab in her hand and concentrated on the pillars. After a minute or so of no alarms going off in her head she turned back to the party and announced, “Nope, no golems here.”
“Good,” said Scratchy, “but I’ll check it out for other traps, just in case,” and with that he began cautiously making his way into the room. No sooner had he passed one of the pillars when it suddenly sprang to life, stabbing at him with its guisarme.
“Ack!” screamed Scratchy.
“Golem!” screamed Theodore.
“But, the scarab!” screamed Milacent.
“Acid dart!” screamed Zelcor.
What had been a fairly static scene was now a whirl of motion. Scratchy was falling back away from the pillar moving to attack him. Milacent was leveling her ranseur. Theodore and Zelcor were casting spells, and in the room itself, three other pillars were coming to dreadful veined-marble life.
There was a flash and a sizzle as the spells and went off, and an acid dart and magic missile went flying into the nearest moving pillar. Disturbingly, they didn’t seem to have any effect. “Fine, we’ll do this my way,” said Milacent, and hit it with the edge of her ranseur. There was a loud thwacking sound as the pillar fell back, cracks appearing across its body. Milacent’s joy at hurting it was immediately tempered when she saw a crack in her ranseur as well. She turned to the others.
“Oh no,” said Scratchy, who had been readying his horsechopper. “Do you have a backup weapon? Something you don’t mind losing?”
Milacent was trying to think of what she would use when Theodore chimed in, “No, keep using your ranseur. I can fix it with magic once this fight is over.”
Milacent smiled and turned back to the moving pillars. With another loud crack she broke apart the first one, then turned her attention to the next. Zelcor, for his part, figured that if he couldn’t hurt them, he could at least blind them, and he cast the spell to cover them in glitterdust. Scratchy had switched to his flail, and ordered his wolf, Fleabait, to just try and knock the pillars down, not hurt them. With the pillars being knocked down and blinded, it wasn’t long before Milacent finished them off. And then Theodore came up and cast a mending spell on her severely-battered ranseur, rendering it good as new.
“And now that that’s taken care of, it’s time to find out what these things are.” He bent down to touch the shattered remains of one of the pillars, and let the power of Nethys feed the knowledge into his mind.
“Hmm,” he said presently.
“Hmm what?” demanded Milacent.
“They’re called caryatid columns, apparently. Usually crafted as guardians, immune to most spells, hard to hurt without damaging your weapon …”
“Yes yes yes. But why didn’t the scarab tell me they were golems?”
“Because they’re not golems.”
“What do you mean they’re not???!!! They’re statues that came to life and attacked us! They were crafted by a wizard to use as guardians! They’re as golem as you can get!”
“That’s a common misconception, actually. Being crafted by a wizard just makes them constructs. A golem is a very specific, albeit extremely common, subclass of construct that people often take to be a synonym for construct even though there are a number of very specific features which you’ll find in a golem that differentiate it from, say, an iron cobra. For example …”
“ALRIGHT!!! I understand! Now please stop talking!”
“Well you asked.”
Meanwhile, Scratchy and Zelcor were examining the pit in the middle of the room. Scratchy had tossed a rock into it, hoping to see how far it was to the bottom. The rock had disappeared into the inky darkness, and several minutes later, they still hadn’t heard the sound of it hitting the bottom. Zelcor cast a light spell on a copper coin, and tossed it in after the rock. Immediately as it fell below the lip of the pit, the coin disappeared in the darkness, light spell notwithstanding, and like the rock, there was no sound of it hitting the bottom. Scratchy took an arrow and poked it into the pit, and where it crossed the plane of the floor, the arrow disappeared into darkness.
“Well,” Zelcor said to Theodore and Milacent as they approached, “the pit is covered in magical darkness, and probably magical silence as well. It could be an entrance to the Lady’s Light, or it could be a horrible trap. Someone’s going to have to check it out.” And with that all eyes turned to Scratchy.
“I’m not going in,” the goblin protested. “I deal with physical threats, but this is magic.”
“I’ll go,” said Theodore, “Nethys is with me; magic is my friend.” And while everyone else was less sure about how much protection Nethys would provide, their distinct lack of willingness to go themselves meant that soon a rope was being tied around the aasimar’s waist. “Let me down slowly,” he said. “One tug means stop, two means pull me up.”
“And what if you’re killed and can’t tug?” asked Milacent.
“If you feel vigorous thrashing, pull me up really really fast.”
With the signals worked out, Theodore began his descent. Soon he was encased in total blackness, beyond even the ability of his darkvision to pierce, and total silence as well. With no visual or aural clues, he had to guess how far down he’d gone. Ten feet? Twenty? It was hard to tell, and as the descent continued, Theodore was beginning to feel distinctly uncomfortable. Then suddenly light appeared in his face. He had passed the the bottom of the darkness and now Theodore could see the pit opened up into the ceiling of a grand chamber, lit by a glowing globes in the ceiling. On the floor, 25 feet below, sat the rock and the glowing coin that had been dropped in earlier. Theodore smiled to himself, but there was one more thing he needed to check. He dropped a copper coin of his own, to see if anything violent would happen to it when it hit the ground. Nothing did, but what was more interesting was what happened when he let go: the coin fell, but not quickly. It floated gently to the ground like a feather. Theodore’s smile widened, and he gave two tugs on the rope.