Day 306: Excavation Site C
I write this update with mixed feelings. After toiling under Avalon for what felt like an eternity, the dig team and I have finally unearthed the source of the disturbances! Toward the far northwestern area of site C, the phantom chanting (or so we call it) became more pronounced and was heard more frequently. The best way I can describe it is a deep, undulating battle dirge that immediately sets you on edge. Casting our fear aside, we doubled our efforts in this location and after 8 days of rigorous excavation, we discovered a heavy chest made of witchwood.
Since this had the potential to be our most significant discovery to date, the dig team and I decided to turn this unveiling into a public affair. We were pleased to see that people came from all over to witness the momentous event! Two volunteers, Tashie and MECHSidhe ended up being instrumental to my safety and I thank them deeply for their assistance. Otherwise, I might not be here updating you all with this field note.
Following some initial safety precautions, the chest was opened and that’s where the jovial gathering took on a serious tone. I was instantly teleported to a chamber of soot and flame. The sobering smell of corruption put all my senses on high alert as I scanned my surroundings with rising anxiety. The flames appeared to awaken to my presence and began consuming the air by some destructive instinct. The mark of Duach was palpable. As my lungs struggled to inhale their vital resource, I detected the object of our search. Ominously perched on a blackened pedestal, lay a pale mask with the following description:
You see a Ceremonial Bone Visage. This sinister mask once belonged to a Saurian High Priest.
Immediately after I clutched the mask from the pedestal, the ground shook violently. The two volunteers summoned me back safely to the dig site in Crystal Caverns to welcome cheers and far away from that infernal plane.
Against my better judgement, the crowd then persuaded me to try on the mask. That proved to be an irresponsible action as the ground trembled again until I quickly stripped the mask off my head. I knew at that moment we needed to find a secure location to store this artifact, as it holds tremendous power. Following a productive discussion with the crowd, it became clear that the scholars at The One Academy could possibly provide more insight and recommendations for secure storage.
The next afternoon, upon my arrival to the academy on the western edge of the capital, I spoke with Orwain, who surprisingly shed much knowledge on the mask.
The scholar informed me that these masks were typical of high-ranking priests in the Saurian order and have all been destroyed. However, one has been rumored to have remained intact. Interestingly, this artifact is well known within alchemist circles, for it is believed to be a vessel for divine blood and can channel what he regards as “the power of the gods.”
As an archaeologist, I am still shocked and somewhat crestfallen to have never heard of the mask. I’m well aware that the Saurian were bloodthirsty zealots that spread devotion to their hungry, mysterious god by way of the sword, but not this. I was told by the scholar that blood sacrifices imbued the masks and channeled heightened attributes to its wearer, flourishing their prowess in battle. However, after the fall of the Saurian armies, the destruction of the ceremonial masks was ordered when alchemists discovered that the masks could also harness the might of our traditional gods. As an added precaution, the legend of these masks was stricken from history.
Learning about these ritualistic offerings caused the hair on the back of my neck to stand on end. What we’ve been hearing under Avalon for months only confirms the scholar’s assessment.
The good news is that the esteemed alchemists of the Arcanum within the elven city of Drune have accepted the task of maintaining the mask’s security. The scholar and I agreed that the Reliquary of Shadows vault room will make a suitable location, but bolstered security is necessary for such a dangerous relic. I’ve been assured that the alchemists have a trick up their sleeves, one that I am happily not privy to. I have to admit I am relieved and grateful that they took on this challenging task.
The scholar parted with a phrase that no quantity of Leinster ale can erase from my memory.
“Spare the fool, for he breaks worlds unknowingly.”
His words haunt me. Were they directed at me? Now I often wonder if it was wise to pursue this reckless endeavor, or should we have left the chest alone to fade into obscurity? My only comfort now is that the mask is in capable hands.
After a much deserved rest, my team will return our focus toward the hunt of rare crystals to fund our continued operations. These excavations aren’t cheap.