|What Manner of Madman Built This Device? Is it Really a Device?|
You left most of them behind when you took passage south. For more than a decade you have delved into the dark and forgotten places that lie undiscovered beneath the fetid and plague-ridden jungles that have grown up to swallow so many of these vast, cyclopean ruins of a people, a culture, an entire civilization that your own people sometimes even refuse to believe ever existed. But you know better.
This last trip was very costly. There were many deaths from poison gas and there was no way to ever suspect that the last section of the ruins would be the sealed domain of a three-headed mummy. No one could have expected that. Certainly none of your rivals.
As you escaped from the grotto-like cyst of the cerebian mummy, you uncovered a set of gold-alloy disks that were inscribed with peculiar diagrams and pictographs. There were three of them. You wrapped them in what remained of your cloak and focused on getting back to civilization.
You were younger back then. Almost reckless and much less patient. It has been years of diligent research, hard work, dangerous (and very secret) expeditions into the jungles and the ruins they contain. But finally, finally you have succeeded where none thought it possible. You were right. The three golden alloy disks were a sort of map after all.
A vast chasm reaching more than a mile down into the darkness didn't stop you. Crossing a raging torrent of hot, foul-smelling sulfurous waters didn't stop you even if you did lose three hirelings in the effort. Tribes of venomous fungifolk didn't deter you even though they seriously wounded many of your remaining adventuring party and the overall mood and morale began to turn ugly.
You pressed on.
Cannibalistic Olyan-descended degenerates and unwholesome fishbelly-white hybrid-things killed the rest of your friends and associates, but that didn't stop you.
You kept going.
Finally, wracked with fever and the lingering effects of spore-toxins, you reached a deep purple shaft and the trapezoidal chamber you knew would be there. You knew because you had deciphered the maps. You knew that a great treasure awaited you, that you just needed to reach it, to seize it, to claim it and make it your own and it would make you great and powerful.
Powerful enough to destroy your enemies.
When you awoke from your fever-dreams you climbed down the shaft.
You entered the trapezoidal chamber.
There on a block of translucent green stone you could see a fairly inert-looking rectangular plaque of metal about the width of your hand, probably less.
The metal object looked like some sort of flattened device or possibly a talisman of some sort. It looked like it held many, many layers of overlapping etchings or fine engravings that seemingly went on forever. Perhaps it was some kind of mirror or a skrying device of some sort?
You had come a long way for this thing.
Maybe it was the fever, maybe the poison, possibly it was because of all the horrors that you had endured to reach this place, to claim this treasure. Whatever the case, you reached out to touch it.
It was cold. At first.
The seemingly inert rectangular plaque of metal turned out to not be so innocuous after all.
It attempted to graft itself to your flesh.
Did it succeed?