It takes us about half a day to reach the ruins, but they are indeed here!
There is a single large wall with an odd symbol on it. “What does that mean?” I ask as I point to the marking. Everyone turns to look at it for the first time. Aeryn says it is the long dead language of Thassilonian. That must mean these ruins date back before any history I've ever been taught.
It reads, “Enter.” Aeryn thinks that the symbol can be changed, parts can be shifted around. We stare at it for a long while.
"Hey, guys. Is this a large tree?" asks Tyler, a ways behind the party staring up into the sky. We go to where he is standing and look up, too.Holy Erastil! It is a tree! And just like a tree trunk, there isn't a clear entrance. The walls look very much solid, not a doorway in sight.
I look at the symbol and see if there is a way to fiddle with it a bit. I can't make it say anything, as I don't know Thassilonian. I turn to my companion and shrug. Aeryn takes control of the symbol.
I look back to the tree. I examine it more closely, walking the perimeter. There aren't any other symbols, nor are there any doors. I keep getting this idea that these ruins aren't ruins at all, but in fact they are a large tree. Why is it a freakin' tree? That has to be important somehow! I suggest to Aeryn that maybe she should move the symbol around to make it look like a tree. Nothing happens. Then we change the symbol to spell out the word tree in Thassilonian. Nothing happens.
Then Aeryn says, “Tua,” and the wooden walls of the massive tree opens up! She turns to us with a huge smile on her face and signals us to go enter.
The inside is completely dark. I go in without waiting for the team. It's very quiet in here. It is too quiet considering that the others are only a few feet away and I can't hear them at all.
In the darkness I see that I am emitting a blue glow. It's worse than glitter, but there isn't anyone to notice here. As I move my hand, it elongates, as though it is dragging through time. I take a cautious step forward. My face launches forward, stretching my whole body, then my legs get pulled up behind me just as quickly a moment later! What am I being pulled into?
[Travis and I get launched out into a overly large room, stumbling for a moment. As we look around, we see that it is crowded with thousands of pale faced, pointy eared humans. Oh, Erastil! These are Elves! Impossible! We slowly place our weapons on the ground and kneel. The last thing we want is to die so far away from anything we recognize. Then their leader walks right up to us and speaks in a bizarre language.
Travis and I stumble into the room with the rest of the party. How did I get here, exactly? They are all tied together. Odd. Also odd is that none of them have a blue glow around them, only me, the sneaky one. That's the fates alright, always messing with me. I guess they all came into the tree behind me, but how did Travis...?
Suddenly, Travis pulls a small box out of his pouch and opens it. Inside is a clear copy of the stone Roran showed to us as an example back in camp. Where did he find it? He doesn't know where he found it, only that it was sitting on the ground, so he put it in his pocket. Anyway, it looks like it is time to go back to camp, victorious.
Ma'ud is excited to lead us back to the camp of the Oracle, and so we run off after him. We use up the rest of the day to get back, but at least we got back before nightfall. Roran meets us. He is happy we succeeded, yet he is compelled to test the stone to be sure. Joachim's voice answers and says we are to meet him in his tent.
When we see him in person a moment later, Joachim congratulates us on our completing the final test. Then he gives us each a rune stone of our own. We can use them to communicate with each other! He also presents us with some other items. Evan gets two amber cestus. Travis gets a beautiful bow. I get an obsidian hand crossbow that can be mounted on my wrist! :-) Tyler gets a jade dagger. Aeryn gets a circlet that strengthens her connection to Desna. Lily gets a golden circlet that hones her witchcraft.
Joachim says we have been with the camp for two years now. He says that we can stay on with them, or we can leave. If we stay, we will be like the teams that periodically leave the camp and later return. Those teams go off to find special items and are rewarded with the right to keep the incidental loot they find. He says that we can be treasure hunters like them! He offers it to us one by one. “Are we ever going back to Tarenvale?” I ask.
"In time, I think you will,” he answers. One by one, we all accept. We are to be assigned missions based on our group skills. We will be sent to collect a specific item, but 90% of the incidental loot that we find is ours to keep! This is all agreeable for us.
He says Tyler did not lead our team well enough. Joachim believes that among us, only Evan is fit to lead this group. Maybe in time, Tyler will be able to lead again. He then talks with Tyler in private.
I decide to rest from a long, weird day.