The two slowly traverse down the hallway for a ways and eventually they come upon another double door, this one a replica of the doors at the entrance to the hallway. As they approach the door the fear of another encounter with a stone guardian clearly etches itself upon their faces.
“Shit mannnn.” groans Rangrim loudly.
Muzgash takes a breath and approaches the door. He again pushes upon the door with all his might but, like before, nothing happens.
“Mhellon!” Muzgash says to the door, but the only response is Rangrim’s “Yes?”
“Rangrim, knock on this door.” orders Muzgash.
Rangrim does as he is told and grabs one of the bronze rings and raps it against the door, GHUNG-GHUNG-GHUNG!
Nothing happens as Rangrim lets go of the ring and takes a few steps away from the door. After a moment, they hear the door begin to shake and then it begins to slowly creep outwards. A bright light forces its way through the crack in the door and slowly floods the hallway with white brilliance once the doors open wide. Inside is a small room built out of the local rock, with another of the illuminated portal doorways. Muzgash heads for the portal doorway, with Rangrim following in tow. As the two half-orc monks head into the white light they are brought to another small room, resembling the one they just came from, although, in place of another great hallway there is instead a stairway leading upwards at the other end of the room.
Muzgash pulls out his sunrod and he leads the way up the broad set of stairs, which climb straight up at a steep incline. The two travel for what feels like an endless amount of steps, all the while looking out for any mechanisms that could potentially set off a trap; fortunately the two see none.
Just before his patience reaches its end, Muzgash sees an opening looming father up the stairs. He stows his sunrod away into his bag and begins to creep stealthily upon the remaining stairs. As he reaches the peak of the stairs he is stricken with a peculiar sight. Expectations of another temple room prove wrong because the stairway opens to a small dilapidated terrace overlooking a moonlit valley. Muzgash looks back and peers down the stairway and then back to the valley, pondering if this was the wrong direction, if they might have missed some other passage within the temple.
He extends his foot over the edge of the terrace where the railings have broken away, leaving a sizable gap. He prods the air with his foot, examining the area for any magical bridges that could be out of sight, but he does not locate such a bridge. He pulls his sunrod out from his bag once more and holds it out over the edge and peers down into the valley below. The sunrod does not illuminate far enough for Muzgash to get a good perspective on the distance to the ground so he lets go and watches the light descend. He watches as it goes about twenty feet down then it suddenly disappears out of sight.
Muzgash hears Rangrim limping up the steps behind him. When Rangrim reaches the top of the stairs he puts on a confused face as he looks about the surroundings outside, “Hey, what the fuck?” he says.
“I don’t know.” is all Muzgash says in response.
Rangrim pushes his way onto the terrace, crowding the small space that Muzgash was already occupying, “Scoot over I wanna see this shit.” he says plaintively to Muzgash.
Muzgash steps to the side to let Rangrim upon the terrace but there is little footing to spare, Rangrim presses harder anyways, nudging Muzgash’s arm with his elbow, “Hey scoot over a bit man.” he says again.
Muzgash inches to the side once more but his footing gives out as the stone’s edge crumbles away, and he begins to topple over the side of the terrace. Before he can fall over the edge completely a strong hand lunges out and grabs him by the shirt and holds him precariously leaning over the edge, “What are you doing!?” shouts Rangrim as he pulls on Muzgash’s tunic.
“Iunno, you knocked me off the cliff!” snaps Muzgash in an annoyed voice, “What the fuck are you doing!?” he shouts, still leaning over the side of the terrace.
“Pull yourself back up damn it, I’ll back up.” says Rangrim in a panicked voice.
“Alright.” Muzgash says plainly as Rangrim helps pull him back onto the ledge of the terrace.
“Euhh, what are we doing here?” asks Rangrim after they successfully averted the potential crisis.
“I thought we were looking for some damn stones.” responds Muzgash.
“Well I know that, but what’s going on. It’s just this damn ledge?” Rangrim says back.
“From what I can see.” Muzgash replies as he peers about their surroundings once more.
“Oh shit.” Rangrim says.
Muzgash leans over a portion of the intact railing and focuses his sight downwards. From what he can tell it seems as if the terrace sits about seventy feet above the valley. Muzgash strains to see if there is any other light in the valley other than the beaming moon above, but he sees none. He also looks around to see if there is an alternate path leading into the valley below, but he sees none.
Discerning that there must be a reason for a stone guardian to be protecting this passage outside, he decides to descend into the valley by means of his climbing rope. While he is gathering his rope, Rangrim shuffles through his pack and pulls out his own rope and hands it over to add to Muzgash’s, “Here take my rope too Muzgash, we don’t know how deep this place goes.” he says as he hands him the rope.
Muzgash knots the two ropes together and looks for a secure place to tie off. Judging that the remaining railings would probably not be secure enough for the both of them, he looks for any other object to tie off on, but this small terrace is lacking in that aspect. Muzgash then decides to lower Rangrim down with the rope by strength alone. Rangrim ties the rope around his waist and clambers over the edge as Muzgash slowly lowers his friend down one handful at a time. When Muzgash reaches the knot holding the two ropes together he feels the weight upon the rope ease off, and the tension then goes away. Muzgash peers over the edge but cannot see or hear anything from his fellow monk.
Fearing something has become of his friend Rangrim, Muzgash hops down, over the edge of the terrace with a sudden disregard to caution. Muzgash falls for about twenty feet before thinking to himself midfall, Oh shit, this is hella deeeepppp! and suddenly Muzgash is engulfed in a strange, hazy fog. He reaches backwards and drives his fingers into the rock, scraping along the face of the cliff, tearing rocks and roots out of the wall as he cascades further down. He is able to get his feet against the rockface as well. All three of his limbs help slow his descent, and as he tears down along the edge of the rockface he is able to see the ground looming below. Before he hits ground he pushes off with hand and foot and bounds to the ground with a skillful roll, thus accomplishing the death-defying leap from the terrace. Muzgash only suffered lacerations along his hand, arm, and knees during the fall.
He stands up, brushes the dirt off of himself and peers about in search of Rangrim, but fails to see him anywhere. From where he landed the moon cannot be seen, for the mountain blocks its gaze, making his surroundings pitch-black. Muzgash walks forward, in what he thinks is straight ahead. He soon comes back into the light of the moon and from here he sees the valley stretching before him, filled with an expansive field of tall grass.
Muzgash looks around for any sign of Rangrim or lights in the distance, but all he sees is the expansive field of chest high grass gently swaying in the cool night’s breeze. Muzgash continues on, and from a couple dozen paces away he hears, “Muzgash wait.” in a familiar voice.
Muzgash looks forward and sees Rangrim appear from within the thick grass, still with the rope wrapped loosely around his waist, and he raises a sunrod over his head, illuminating Muzgash.
Muzgash asks him if he saw anything.
“I can’t see shit.” replies Rangrim in a spiteful tone.
Muzgash orders Rangrim to untie the rope and give him back his portion, which Rangrim obliges to, but while Rangrim is struggling to untie the knot holding the two ropes together, Muzgash notices a patch of grass in the distance sway wildly, even though the breeze has subsided.
Rangrim unties the knot, quickly rolls the two ropes up and hands one off to Muzgash. Muzgash takes it and tosses it into his rucksack, and then walks off into the tick of the grass with Rangrim trailing in tow.
They get several dozen paces within the grassy field when they hear a sudden noise. They both freeze and listen. Their ears pick up the sound of something large rustling through the grass nearby.
Muzgash focuses his senses and prepares for any danger, clenching his fists in preparation. The sound subsides and then the two of them start to tread slowly through the tall grass. Once they move a few paces further the whole area surrounding them goes wild with activity. Muzgash can see several trails of parting grass encroaching with speed onto their position. Whatever was running through the grass was scattering in systematic patterns.
Rangrim looks around in panic, but Muzgash peers around for an area out of the grass. He spots a rocky outcropping poking over the grass in the distance, and he motions to Rangrim. Once he is certain Rangrim sees it as well, Muzgash bounds through the grass towards it.
Muzgash sees the activity amongst the grass break into different routes and he hears two strange animal calls, then the activity comes rushing in towards the two of them from all directions; the rock outcropping is still some twenty five feet away.
Muzgash reaches for his Golden Lion Statuette and slams it against his muscular pectoral. Suddenly Muzgash feels the familiar warmth of the Beast Triad’s power move through him. In that moment an emblazoned mane of arcane fire erupts around Muzgash’s head. He feels the magical energy flow into his legs, and he dashes in a large circle, leaving a ring of fire in his wake. He repeats this once more and returns besides the awed Rangrim in the center of a double ring of fire. The wet grass smolders and hisses, sending a great, circular plume of smoke into the air.
The movement among the grass ends abruptly at the borders of the flaming circle. Muzgash notices several elongated reptilian faces peek out from the cover of the grass and then, just as quickly, disappear back into the grass.
Rangrim murmurs in fear as he sees the faces lurk back into the veil of the reeds. He asks Muzgash what they are going to do. Muzgash’s mane begins to subside and he calls out to the inhabitants of the grass, in a hopeless attempt to reason with them.
No reaction is heard, only the hissing sounds of the dwindling fire. They await patiently as the protective ring of flames also subsides, leaving a smoldering ring of charred vegetation. As the fire ring fades, so does the bright light it brought with it, so Muzgash pulls forth a sunrod and plants it into the soft earth between himself and Rangrim, illuminating the space around them.
“What the hell are we going to do?!” questions Rangrim in a hushed and panicked voice.
“Fuck if I know, I don’t know either.” Muzgash replies with an uneasy voice.