Monthly Archives: January 2008

Through The Mirror’d Portal

“Well, let’s not let that stone beast lay a trap for us! The sooner we’re through, the better!” Without waiting for discussion, her withdrawn sword went back through the portal, and this time all of Saeth followed it. Hasan shrugged at the debating humans and followed her.

The dwarf guffawed loudly at his elven companion’s straight-forwardness. You’d think she was part dwarf with an attitude like that!

Feldard finished padding his wounds, tying off the bandages tightly, then the dwarf strode forward once more, closing his eyes just before reaching the mirror.

“Stubborn as mules them two,” Nicolai muttered, as he followed them through the portal.

As Nicolai passed through the portal the priest turned to the mage. “So much for wisdom, common sense and logical surmising. I’m surprised that Dwarves and Elves are reknown for longevity.”

“Ahh, but you only hear from the the ones who have lived the longest!” Miklos chuckled. “It seems our decision is made for us. Still it was encouraging that Saeth could withdraw her weapon from the surface. Let us hope that it wasn’t the fact the the weapon was enchanted that this was possible!” Miklos stepped through the mirror’d interface.

Maruc rolled his eyes and offered a prayer to Halav in case that beyond the mirror was a plane of existence that his powers could not penetrate. Madness and foolishness all of this. He followed the others.

* * * * *

Those that walked through the portal felt a tingling sensation upon their body, and their surroundings became an unfocused blur. It was disorienting, but not terribly so. After walking a few paces their view became sharpened once more and they could see where they were.

Saeth, the first to enter, had been the first to emerge. Disappointingly, she found herself in the same room that she had just left. The portal had merely reversed her direction. She was soon joined by the dwarf, the mage and cleric.

But, where on Mystara were the rogue and the Siswa? They could see no sign of them.

* * * * *

Hasan had charged forth ready to join his fellow elf in battle, but quickly found that there was no sign of the elven swordswoman. Instead, he found himself companion-less in what appeared to be an old laboratory. He quickly took in his surroundings. The portal was still behind him. In front of him were two rows of tables covered with lab equipment. Dust covered the ancient glass beakers; brass coils were tarnished with age. Cobwebs hung like lace between the cracked jars on the shelves. Two alcoves were in the eastern wall. And, in the corner of the room, on a peg in the wall, hung the Pendant of the Elyan.

Though his friends were missing, he was not alone. Guarding the Pendant that it had stolen from his twin, the stone creature prepared to attack.

* * * * *

Nicolai was not as brash as his comrades. He was always careful to put his skills to use to avoid the pitfalls and traps that could kill so quickly in an environment such as this. Though he could not see, he could still feel. As he bent to examine the floor, he noticed the tingling sensation lessened as he held himself lower to the ground. Adhering to the Tingling Is Bad Theory, he crawled carefully forward. After a few feet of crawling, he too emerged in the laboratory, and saw Hasan about to engage in battle.

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The Magic Mirror

Feldard came up out of his roll, hefting his axe in one hand and staunching his newest wound with the other. He watched sourly as the flames did nothing to the stone construct. Unfortunately, the same couldn’t be said of them; they’d have to wait for the flames to die back some before pursuing the twisted Guardian. That would give the creature either the time to escape or to set up another ambush.

“It’ll likely be lying in wait for us on the other side of that magic mirror.” He let that comment prompt ideas from the group as he watched the burning fabric, willing it to hurry up.

Saeth shook her head as her reserved bolt hit the wall just behind the fleeing demon. “Can we go through the mirror that easily?” Careful to keep away from the flickering flames, she reached with her sword, testing if the tip would pass through. The sword met no resistance as passed the surface as though it were thin air.

Hasan stepped forward to watch Saeth’s experiment with interest. As he did, he mused, “Ahh, the poor, twisted thing. I know it has no living soul, but to see the handiwork of Elyas go so ill is humbling to all who aspire to know the arcane.”

Miklos stalked through the remains of the curtain. “Something about it seemed familiar. I guessed it was a creature that I had studied at the guild, but no. It was the other construct. Fascinating. But what is more fascinating is this mirror. Obviously some sort of window to another place. Or time. I’d be very cautious about following the beast in there in case there is no returning. It is possible that the creature stepped out of the mirror to assault us in which case it would be relatively safe, as opposed to getting stuck somewhere unpleasant for all eternity.” Miklos waited to see if Saeth’s sword could be withdrawn.

The elf drew her sword back as easily as she had moved it forward.

The priest rehooked his flail onto his belt and hoisted his shield onto his back. “I suspect that only enchanted weapons will cause harm to the stone guardian. Is that not so Miklos?”

Surprised at the observation ventured by the priest Miklos replied. “It depends.” Somewhat enigmatically.

“My vote is for discovering what we can this side of the mirror before jumping into the unknown.” said Maruc.

Feldard considered the options left to them. Continue on through yet another magical portal where there was the chance of becoming trapped within with a magically animated stone guardian whose purpose had been twisted by evil spirits – OR – return to the main hall to continue searching for the captured maidens, the Black Opal Eye and the Sisters Three.

Feldard’s wariness of all things magical, had him leaning towards agreeing with the cleric… mind you why else would the Guardian be down this hall if not to guard that which the Sisters felt was important to them… the captives and the Eye. Yes it could be a trap.. but there were easier ways to lure folks into a trap then setting them up against your strongest defenses. Feldard scratched at his beard in contemplation. “Maruc, I see your point, but I do not think the Sisters would waste the protection the Guardian provides on merely a trap I believe our path lies through that mirror.”

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Light It Up!

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“Sounds fine to me.. I’ll keep it busy while you light the curtains!” Feldard called back even as he hacked randomly blinded by the light of the curtains.The dwarf swung out with his axe in a wide arc.. using up as much space about him as possible to increase his chance making contact with his foe. Though fighting blind, the dwarf wielded a magical blade, and somehow it found its way into the very hard hide of his foe.

With no supplies to provide the blaze, Hasan instead prepared to launch a magic missile into their opponent. Unable to see the creature in the close quarters of the curtains, Saeth backed away from the light source until she could open her eye. She too had begun to intone like Hasan, but then held back, seeing Maruc prepare to burn the curtains away. Her gesturing hand, however, remained raised, prepared to complete the spell if fire failed them.

Nicolai continued to fire at the creature, muttering “Why couldn’t this be an illusion as well?”

“Its a possibility, Nicolai. But all the other illusions were of beasts renowned for their fear and horror. I don’t get the same feeling from this creature.” Miklos replied.

“Ah, wishful thinking I suppose,” said replied the youthful rogue.

Miklos knew this conundrum was going to frustrate him. Was it some sort of fire elemental, a Fire Mephit? No. No heat and too big. Some form of lesser daemon? No. Maruc felt no evil. Some sort of malevolent faery-spirit? It would be interesting to see if it would be affected by the oil.

Dropping his flail and shouldering his shield, the cleric delved into his back pack and rummaged around for one of his precious vials of lamp oil packed carefully amongst his tunics for safety. “Dwarf! I’m about to burn it so jump out when I say!” He oil-soaked a torn rag and jammed it into its top. He opened the front of his lit lantern and lit the end.

“Excellent, Maruc!” Hasan cheered on the cleric’s efforts. “We’ll either trap this creature in the burning cloth, or flush it so we can bring our numbers to advantage.” Like Saeth, he held his magic arrow in check, waiting for a clear shot.

The strength of the creature’s attacks increased, and Feldard found himself rather thankful that the cleric had talked him into upgrading to the platemail. Feldard’s mind raced… with it’s speed he would be lucky to land even one hit and while burning it out sounded good.. it could just as likely speed out of there before the fire really took. They needed a way to entrap it. That was it!

With his next swing, the dwarf purposely tried snagging the edge of the curtain onto his blade and then charged in towards and then around his opponent trying to encircle it in the blinding curtains voluminous folds.

“Now Feldard!” he cried.

As the dwarf rolled away, the creature’s claws sunk into his flesh. Following Feldard’s command, the cleric dashed the vial into the curtains and scooped up his flail.

The luminescent curtains were quickly engulfed in flame, but their foe quickly rolled away from the flames. The magical red light faded, and the room was now lit my the amber glow of flames as the cloth was burnt away. Before them they finally got their first real glimpse of the creature battling Feldard. The hideous creature was no longer a silhouette of horns, wings and teeth. They could now see its flesh, which was of the same stone texture of the guardian Ular-Taman.

Behind the creature was a shimmering reflection. It was as though the wall of the hallway was covered with some sort of liquid, pulsating mirror. Wounded as it was by the elf’s magic and the dwarf’s blade, the creature quickly walked backwards from the group, and, ducking under the remained of the flaming curtains, it disappeared into the mirrored wall.

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Strange Winged Creature

“Argg! I’ve been bit! Maruc, stand back. We’re under attack!” He stepped away from his work of tying off the curtains, squinting against the light as he drew forth his axe from its place at his back. Hearing the clerics’ clink and chink of armour moving away he took a few blind slashes towards where he’d been attacked from. The thing was fast. And very strong. “I can’t see a thing! Anyone, some help here.. where is it?”

Nicolai attempted to take aim at the creature attacking Feldard. Though obscured by the luminescence, it was a large target. He set loose an arrow, but the thing moved with great speed amongst the curtains, and the arrow flew wide, sinking into the glowing cloth.

Needing no further encouragement Maruc lept back out of the way to give Feldard room to defend himself as he withdrew. As his eyes grew more accustomed to the dark of the corridor he saw Nicolai sighing his bow and dived out of the way.

Knowing there was very little he could do here Miklos stood back and dwelt on the strange winged creature. He couldn’t quite make it out enough to recall what it could be from his memory of the Beastiary Mythologica, but hopefully it would come to him. Perhaps on their return journey he might make a sketch or two to get the librarians opinion at the guild. Perhaps it was unique? He could make his name on this discovery. He strained to make it out. It was definitely humanoid… with wings… horns… claws… the skin had an unusual texture that he couldn’t quite see… Though he had never encountered a beast of this description, something about the way it moved seemed familiar.

The clanking sound of various attacks bouncing off the dwarf’s armor cause a latent pyromania to emerge from Hasan. “Feldard, stand back. Come now, we’ll never be able to fight this thing. Let’s burn it out of there!”

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Unseen Attacker

“If there are no ill effects I would tie it out of the way, Feldard. Its pointless to wantonly destroy something. I can’t say what ward spells protect the fabric so tieing may circumvent disaster.” replied the mage.

The cleric stepped in, “Here, if you roush the fabric like this,” he said wrapping the material around itself, “Then it will hold back by itself. See?”

But, they couldn’t see for the red light was too intense. Still, they did their best to try to pull the material out of the way to see what lay beyond.

“We’re gonna be at this all day,” grumbled the dwarf.

They had to work with eyes closed in order to preserve their site. The others had a hard time making out the shapes of their two friends as the light from the many layers of curtains reflected off their armor and the walls of the hall.

“If this doesn’t work, just burn it,” suggested Hasan. “It’s just like underbrush in the forest, fire will clear it faster than…”

Suddenly pain shot into the dwarf. Something had bitten him! They weren’t alone amidst the curtains. Claws raked against Feldard’s body, but this time his armor protected.

In the midst of the light source, neither Maruc nor Feldard could see the attacker, but the others, who stood further away, could make out some sort of winged humanoid creature moving in the curtains.

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Frustrating Fabric

Hasan strained to watch the brightly lit action up front, a bit flummoxed, but thinking that this seems more a situation where brawn may be worth more than wit.

“The curtain is secured firmly. I’ll need help to bring it down.” Then after a moment Feldard paused and in a sour tone added. “Mage, there’s a opening in the fabric here in the middle and more layers of fabric behind. It seems like it could be walked through. Could this be another type of magical portal?” Inwardly, he was kicking himself for speaking of it. Now of course, everyone would be wanting to traipsy on through… a stupid notion to him. But… it might just lead to the Sisters and the abducted maidens.

“I’ll cut it if you like,” Saeth suggested, raising her blade slightly. “I mean, I wouldn’t think that cutting the curtain down would destroy a portal, merely reveal it if it’s hidden behind.”

She stepped forward to see about trimming the curtain a bit.

Frowning, Feldard lifted its hem at a point not at the gap and checked beneath for what was behind. He didn’t dare open his eyes, for the light would blind him. The dwarf grumped a bit as all he finds are yet more fabric going further in. “Cut it down if you wish, there’s plenty more behind.” He stands straight once more. “So what say you, Mage? Do we take the time to take them all down or simply go through to see where it leads?”

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Curtain of Light

“Well, that is interesting.” Saeth mused. “I certainly didn’t expect it to STICK in the wall. We could probably pull this whole thing down without trouble… and if we’re lucky, carry it with us. Can you imagine a shirt made out of that stuff?”

“But what’s its purpose? Damn magic.. never makes any sense whatsoever…” He continued his typical dwarven grumbling as he pushed past the group and moved into the hallway striding towards the curtain.

Hasan looked at Saeth and said wryly, “Never mind the shirt. You’ll be lucky to have enough fabric to make an eye patch once the dwarf’s work is done.”

“Nah, I think it’s Dwarfish high fashion. Pre-battle stressed shirts and trousers. Must be a bomb in Highforge,” said Nicolai.

He shielded his eyes with axe arm, the heavy blade still in hand ready to descend in an arc if something were to suddenly pop out from behind the bright curtain of light. He stopped a foot away and ignoring the typical outbursts of shock and dismay from the others he reached first for the knife, pulling it free from the wall behind, tucking it into his belt, then he reached out once more and tried grasping the ‘fabric’ the curtain of light was made of.

The curtain seemed to be made of cloth. Feeling around the dwarf was able to locate a gap in the fabric, but as he probed, there was more layers of fabric behind. It seemed that it would be fairly easy to push through.

The cleric non-plussed glanced across to the mage, “Well? What do you make of it?”

“Think.” said Miklos, “Why place this here? Magic as a rule of thumb is never used lightly. It must perform some function. Notice its ‘fabric’ like qualities? Gauging but other magics in the area it is most likely to perform a defensive function. It could be another illusion designed to lure us into a trap. It looks inoffensive enough, but again this might be a bluff. Oh for a wand that dispelled illusions! But I am forgetting, there might be a mage nearby. This may be something to confuse and delay us. My gut feeling, as Saeth’s blade has not disappeared, would be to open it or destroy it with enchanted weapons. I wouldn’t suggest touching it with flesh.”

Nicolai turned to Miklos and says, “Doesn’t magic counter magic? What about using only enchanted weapons?”

‘Sure’ the dwarf thought,as his hand touched the curtain ,’the mage says that NOW.’ Grimly, Feldard grasped the ‘fabric’ and gave a huge tug trying to rip it down from the wall. There was a ripping sound, but the curtain was secured firmly. It would take more than one tug to bring it down.

Miklos realised that Nicolai hadn’t quite caught his concluding comment replied, “Exactly my thoughts, but is still only an educated guess, anything could happen.”

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