Later in the travels, the PCs come upon a domed room with a single statue in the middle. The dome appears to be made of black stone, with very little gloss. It could almost be ancient iron, except that it is perfectly smooth. The statue is of a queen, sitting atop an armored horse, and holding out her hand and pointing at some indistinct part of the dome. A PC who knows their directions (in Blade & Crown terms, a successful skill check against Navigation) will notice that she is pointing exactly at the south pole in the sky.
The PCs might think to look at her pointer finger. It is unadorned, and sculpted in the same dramatic way the rest of the statue was carved. The PCs might also think to put the sapphire ring on her finger. If they put it on in just the right position, the ring will glow slightly and the inner surface of the dome will come alive with a projection of the night sky.
- The projected stars do not match those that the PCs know from the night sky. This is because they are from the other hemisphere of the planet, a region none of the PCs, nor anyone they know, has ever traveled to. Taking careful note of the constellations depicted will be of immense use if they ever travel there.
- The projection slowly drifts, faster than the stars drift in the sky. As they do, the circular base of the dome lights up with ancient runes that slowly scroll. In a forgotten language, they give historical commentary; the stars are precessing through the centuries, and the commentary is describing important events that happened when the stars were in their various positions.
- When the queen is asked nicely in her native language, she will describe the progress of the stars through the sky, explaining stories of how the stars came to be where they are. She will also make editorial comments: “This shows the sky when that ne’er-do-well, Kharus the Elder, tried to usurp the throne from my grandmother.”
- As the array progresses, small scrolls appear here and there amongst the stars, each bearing a few words. In an ancient language, they give astrological commentary: “Ill omen”, “Poor time to give birth”, “Only foolish warriors will be victorious”. The commentaries are eerily accurate.
- The stars do not resemble any night sky the PCs know of. As the star slowly circle, they appear to be winking out. The PCs may note a pattern as they do so: they represent a growing threat, encroaching upon towns the PCs hold dear. Each star is a castle or village being wiped out.
- An astute observer will note that the stars depicted are similar to the ones the PCs know, but shifted. Someone gifted in astronomy and mathematics will be able to tell that the night sky depicted is that of a world nearby, but not their own. And they will then notice that the queen’s mount is very much like a horse, but slightly different; the scales of its armor are actually its skin, and its teeth are sharp.
- When the PCs take the ring off the queen’s finger again, a ghostly, glowing series of symbols glow on the inside of the ring. PCs who know their stars will be able to identify them as the astrological symbols of the stars just shown on the dome. Even more astute PCs will determine that, if they can say the names of the objects in the sky so depicted in the queen’s language, the ring will project a display of stars onto any ceiling, dome or not.
- The stars shown in the dome precess as if passing through eons of time, because the PCs and everything within the dome actually are passing through time — the dome is a time machine. If the PCs can figure out how to make the projections go backwards, they can return to their own time. If they go back far enough, to the time of the queen herself, she will arise from her stasis (she was never actually a statue) and try to make sure the PCs haven’t damaged anything.
- As the stars slowly circle, the statue becomes translucent, then transparent. The longer the projection goes on, the more insubstantial the statue becomes. Surrounding the statue, the PCs can see motes of light that resemble the stars projected on the dome. There is just enough space for two more people to ride the horse with her…
- Every rotation the stars make, the statue will ask one question: “Are you loyal children of Soris?” “Do you bear the stigma of Kharus?” etc. It’s pretty clear how the questions are intended to be answered, but only a historian of the queen’s time will be able to say what the questions are really asking about. If someone answers questions as they’re intended, the stars continue to circle; if not, the statue slowly comes alive, and if the questions are answered wrong twelve times in a row, the queen eventually draws her sword and fights all comers. If they are answered correctly twelve times in a row, a small click will be heard from the dome, and a door will open just where her finger points. What could be inside? And how to get to it?
- The stars wink out and come into existence, slowly turning and evolving. The PCs slowly understand that the stars show true stars, but they are also linked to people in the world. If carefully studied, the stars projected may be used to predict how bright a person’s life may become, and how when it will be snuffed out. A lifetime of careful study may even allow prediction of people’s lives by looking at the real stars.
- As the PCs study the slowly turning projected stars, a royal astrologer bursts in, surrounded by guards, and demands to know what they are doing in this most secret, most holy of places.