Snail's Trail

The mound

Yours is the only car you see as you drive down back roads in between South Bend and Warsaw. Abandoned house dotted the road side, crouching behind shrubbery long untrimmed. It hadn’t taken much investigation to discover that these homes had been abandoned after an industrial plant tainted the ground water. The families that once owned these properties had lost everything to corporate greed, while those responsible escaped unscathed by the consequences of their actions.

The mound was set aside when development in this area first began. It was possibly an Indian burial ground, but if so the descendants of those buried here had been driven away or exterminated. No archeologists came to investigate this place, and it is as overgrown as anything you’ve driven past.

Hank drives up and parks the SUV, pulls a magazine out of the glove compartment and leans his seat back. He clearly intends to stay with the car once again. The rest of the party starts the long walk around the mound.

As they walked into the clearing that surrounds the mound a shiver passed over them. The hedge was completely open here. There is no boundary to keep THEM away. The mound existed solidly in both the human world and THEIRS and where human eyes saw only grass and dirt, theirs saw a hewn stone archway and a door.

Into the lintel of the door the following words were carved:

“What am I?” The two lines ask.
Finding it becomes your task.
You sign your name, but cannot write.
A secret pirate treasure site.

And the door itself also contained a message:

A stroll under the sky so blue, upon the grass so green
Should relax any warrior bold, and make him quite serene.
But here the warrior draws his club and bashes at his foe
Who tries to flee but cannot hide when his pace starts to slow.
Through ways so fair and places rough the warrior takes his toll
Til he just taps his little foe and drops him in a hole.
Where eagles fly you will see the warrior wear a grin
He’ll help his foe out of the hole and then smack him again.
No lives are lost, no blood is drawn, that’s not this warrior’s way
Instead he’ll take his foe back home so they can fight another day.

Vivienne quickly surmises the meanings of the paired riddles, touching the X in the word ‘relax’ She triggered a grinding noise from behind the door and a howling from behind the party.

Guardian dogs attacked as soon as she touched the door. They reformed after being defeated and re-attacked after a few rounds. The only way to escape them was through the slowly opening door, or out of the clearing. The shape of the entrance kept their attacks down to three at a time. There were seven of them. They seem skeletal at a distance, but as they approached their real make-up became visible. They were woven out branches and thorns with human eyes set into sockets woven from vines. Each had a floral harness wrapped around it, and for each the harness was a different flower. The dog with the white carnation harness was smaller than the other’s, and Uffe thought she looked more human than the rest. As the party fought them and waited for the door to open far enough to escape through several were temporarily destroyed. Each released a wisp of sound as it disintegrated.

White carnation: Why? Why Jenna, Why?
Red rose: a woman’s voice singing in
Purple Clematis: voices laughing while something is struck with a hammer
Blue Lotus: running water, more stream than faucet.
Fox tail astilbe, Golden day lily, and Lily of the valley were not destroyed during the combat.

The party retreated into the mound, climbing down into the darkness before following a dark tunnel to an room where torches lit themselves, To there right an left the following message was engraved and before them was another hallway. This hallway was tiled, eight tiles long. Door leading out of the hallway were located on either side of a plinth in the eighth tile.

Seven tricky traps are here,
Some are deadly, all severe.
Over, under, left and right,
Which come first? Oh what a plight!

Five tiles have traps, three in a row,
No two paired squares are safe you know.
Seventh square doom looms overhead.
Jump ‘ere you swerve or you’ll be dead.

You must go left after swerving right
Or surely you will get a fright.
After you jump over under,
Roll under over else you’ll blunder.

Of three ways in two will abuse,
One is left which you must use.
When treasure’s won if you’re still strong,
You must go right or else go wrong.

They had a hard time with this particular puzzle, but eventually Adam followed the instructions, retrieved a key from the plinth and opened the correct door.

The next room was once a treasure chamber. Empty shelves climbed the walls of this cone shaped room. Plinths were scattered about, but nothing rested upon them. In the center of the room a burning flower sprouted, shedding radiance all about it. Vivienne spoke to it seductively for a time before Uffe reached over to pluck it. In his hand it transformed, petals becoming jewels, stem and leaves becoming a golden filigree that would keep it stable if set on a flat surface.

The bottom seemed to drop out of the world for a moment as the hedge returned to it’s normal configuration. As the intrepid trio emerged blinking from the darkness of the mound they found themselves in a hedge garden, surrounded by eldritch bounties and goblin fruits. They ate their fill, then gathered up as much as they could carry and followed Uffe through a tangle of overgrown pathways to emerge into the human world a few blocks from where they entered. They rejoined Hank to show off their harvest and an artifact powerful enough to radiate magic like a lamp gives off light.

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