I’ve been here before I think.
A place of quiet stillness and justice and righteousness.
And the Valiant Lady.
She stands in shining plate mail, heraldry on her gold hilted sword and long shield, basking the space with their warm light.
A light that seems to beckon.
At once I feel compelled to step forward into her embrace but instead, I kneel down before her. I dare to look up after a long moment, into a face obscured by her radiance and can just make out an expression that I can’t read.
At her feet lays a strange, metallic rod, an object in stark contrast to the surrounds, but it looks though like something’s missing.
Almost instinctively I reach into my tunic, closing my hand around the heavy weight that hangs there. Always a dark stain and no less so than here.
Stepping out from behind her crimson cloak is a large pale creature.
Breathing heavily, head cooked it could be Wynter but no… It’s a creature much larger. Stretching it’s neck out, I can see now, it’s a huge Elk, antlers intertwined by vines.
It steps forward, hooves clattering on the hard floor and lowers it’s muzzle down to me, its earthy breath close.
There is a new light, a cooler light… an older light.
I awake to a distant din of clashing metal and desperate shouting.
I prop myself up from the slop of half frozen entrails I find myself in, staring blearily into the headless neck of an Ogre Necromancer- mauled, disemboweled and unlifeless.
Shouting still; steel on steel, growling, a terrible noise like a Blacksmith’s bellows.
I’m alive! If only barely.
The undead Giants are slain, but the Forge Fiend is back renewed!
Athene, Wynter and the Dire Tiger are formed up against it.
I draw my bow but there’s no need as a volley from Moriava seems to find every weak point in its metal shell.
We rest and heal.
The wands near depleted, we move on.
We follow a series of tunnels though the Forge Fiend’s slag-lined Silo, turned lair to arrive in a long, wide hallway.
The high ceiling is propped up by numerous pillars, the walls chiseled with Thasalonian runes (including Sihedrons) which according to Mhad pay tribute to the Peacock Spirit.
Two single doors stand to the east while huge, bronze, double doors feature at the far end.
Our resources waning, I urge the others to move onto what must surely be the prize behind those double doors, but all seem intent on thoroughly investigating each nook and cranny.
It’s Foxglove manner all over again.
However, the Cleric does make a good point that we don’t want any surprises from behind, so I go along with their plans.
When the first door reveals only a bricked over wall, everyone (much to my surprise) decides to follow my suggestion and try the Bronze doors.
They are magical but not trapped.
Cut into a large metal star is the clear relief of a Sihedron about the size of our medallions. I remove one of the many we’ve accumulated but it doesn’t fit!
That was an anti climax…
There’s no lock, so simply go to push the doors open… But a brilliant, malevolent energy emanates from the portal and we step back.
A strange, vaguely female humanoid form materialises before us, her body reflecting an intense light, gouts of bright sparks poring from her eyes and mouth.
We step back again.
A pressure at the back of my head and a sudden, terrible pulse of blinding light.
Everyone’s left reeling…
Athene and I rally and charge the outsider.
She blasts me with a beam of searing light that seeps through my armour.
Dragging Wynter behind me, Athene and I move to flank the Shining Child.
I smite her, nearly cutting her in half and Athene finishes the job.
It was a quick but costly exchange… Looking around, all but Athene and I are staggering blind!
I try the doors again, this time more warily, but they still won’t budge.
After a brief discussion about what to do, we shuffle back to and through the last door to a towering cave with a huge unstable looking pillar. The walls seem especially worn and Athene observes the construction here is relatively new.
Leading the blind along the wall to another pair of double doors, the chamber is suddenly echoing with a trio of otherworldly growls…
We turn just in time to see three, lean, long-limbed hound-like creatures with soulless eyes and toothy maws bounding forward- Hounds of Tindaloss!
We stand ready but the hounds skid to a halt and screech.
The sound is physical.
A shower of knives, that rip and tear the flesh.
They run on an we meet them and despite our sorry state, manage to make short work of them.
Another victory but this will not do.
We must be nearing our target but a few more fights like this and we won’t stand a chance.
Again however, we thank the gods for the strange arrival of this cleric.
Praying to Erastil she able to cure all but Wynter of their affliction. I only hope that her Roc makes a good account for itself in the upcoming battle.
We check the doors and try to penetrate beyond with our senses… but nothing.
As I open the door it’s apparent that something is immediately amiss. I don’t know what, but Athene notices something too.
There’s nothing for it.
Guiding a blind Wynter by the scruff of the neck I swing the doors wide and step forward… To be met by a wall of impenetrable cloud…
It’s is grey and odorless but no less ominous.
Somebody knows we’re coming…
It starts to roll in after us and we clamber backwards.
All except Mhad who pushes us aside, staff from the Wyvern’s cave held aloft and with a word of magic blasts the cloud away with a gust of wind.
Beyond is a cavernous library, dotted by pillars and random piles of texts and other Arcane materials… and at the back, atop a wooden platform, a creature who can only be he who we seek- Mokmurian!