Monthly Archives: October 2008

The Sisters Three

Hasan’s cautious instinct had been to scout the room further, but there was no time for such prudence now. He plunged toward the alcove after his companions, prepared the dwarf along, certain the dwarf’s natural resistance to all things magical would need to be overcome.

But the dwarf needed no prompting this time; something stronger was driving him—a sense of camaraderie and loyalty. Feldard wasn’t about to let the witch keep control of Saeth, not when he had means to stop it. He charged into the alcove after Saeth and Nicolai, without the aid of the Siswa elf. “You won’t get away that easily, Witch!”

Maruc clenched his teeth on the last syllable of his spell and launched himself after the elf. “Halav!” he prayed as he threw himself through the dancing lights of the alcove in pursuit of his fiends.

The mage picked himself off the ground—he had missed the elf by mere inches, as he had cast himself at her feet as she sprightly sped for the alcove. Miklos spent a moment appreciating the teleporter after-effects. When the bulky form of the priest swept passed him, he gracefully followed. This was rather spoilt as he stepped on the hem of his cloak as he passed the interface.

* * * * *

Valuable seconds passed as Nicolai’s eyes, and stomach, caught up with his urgency to catch his quarry. His legs were moving before his mind was considering direction. Involuntarily, he scrabbled with his arms, catching Saeth’s clothing before his eyes could confirm his whereabouts. He tackled her to the ground.

They were in a 20-foot square room, upon a raised, semi-circular platform opposite a set of steel doors, etched with decorative woodland patterns.

Sticky strands of magic dissipated as the others appeared an instant later.

Not of nought had been his training, Miklos thought to himself. He’d known what to expect of the dimensional displacement. He calmly reached for Dentiata’s wand. Something was different about it. Earlier, he had sensed that its power was waning and that perhaps it was on its last charge, but suddenly it felt different. His ponderance of this phenomenon was quickly curtailed however as the double doors were violently thrust open. Golden light shone in the room, reflected light cast from the treasury of the Elyan located in the room beyond.

Standing now before the group were two female elves, which the companions immediately recognised as the missing maidens. They wore black robes and were speaking in the tongue of the arcane arts.

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Stopping Saeth

Despite his companions misgivings about his actions, Feldard was expecting the worst and when ‘Saeth’ made a dash for the alcove, he broke free from Hasan’s restraining hold, and bellowed as he gave chase, cursing himself for not having his crossbow at the ready. “Stop her escape! Nicolai—your bow!”

Hasan wasn’t as quick to react as the dwarf and Saeth’s surprising dash left him stonefooted. He wondered if he had been taken in and trusted her strength, her independent spirit, and yes, their racial bonds too much.

Miklos knew he wasn’t strong enough to restrain Saeth, that didn’t stop him trying as sprang upon her. He tried to catch her off guard, “The scorn of Karelena will be yours if you let us escape!”

Nicolai didn’t have any weapons to hand. As he ran to intercept Saeth, he wondered how he could string his bow, nock, draw and loose an arrow by the time Seath had fled—what did Feldard think he was, some kind of elf? Not that there was any place to flee to in a room without exits. Still she was moving with a purpose and he was the only one fast enough to be able to stop her!

The priest spun on his heal at the surprise sprint of the elf. His arm snatched out at thin air and he started to purse her before he realized he wasn’t going to catch up. Think fool! He began to cast his spell as Nicolai was reaching to tackle the elf. “Spirit of Halav encompass thee that thy purpose is…”

And then, just before he could complete his spell, Saeth and Nicolai disappeared in a flash as they both tumbled into the alcove.

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What Are You Doing?

Hearing the cleric and mage confirm his worst thoughts, the dwarf strode forward while the ‘witch’ was still confused. Crouching down beside her, Feldard struck ‘Saeth’ a backhand to keep her dazed and unable to cast any magic . “What is your name? Come on, tell me. Now! Or I will strike again!” He roughly grabbed her by the collar of her garb and shook her as she lay on the floor. He harried the elfmaid, mercilessly, keeping her mentally unfocused and off balance. Or so he hoped.

“What are you doing? Have you lost your mind, dwarf?” said Saeth as she tried to defend herself.

This somewhat unique approach rather took Miklos aback, he was too stunned to say anything. He awaited what the elf had to say. Probably something about amnesia and repeatedly saying ‘it’s me’ or some other non-committal response. Still he felt a more civilized reaction from the dwarf would have been better.

“Stay your hand Feldard!” snapped the priest. “Despite everything we do not know her condition. It is a guess.” he said with a sideways look at the mage. “We are all close enough to stop her putting a spell on us, wouldn’t you agree Miklos? Give her peace to answer the question.”

Nicolai folded his arms and shook his head. He returned to his previous task of scouting the area, at least he could try and ensure they warned of impending danger.

Then he had a thought.

“Trapped in these statues would the witches have some way to talk to each other? To err…. ‘feel’ each other without actually being there? They’ve done a lot here in a short time and that needs organizing. Remember that prison cell above had been recently occupied? We reckoned it was one of the elves so they can’t have been actually doing anything ‘emselves for long. So they have to be able to talk eh?”

He paused. “So they’re going to know that she’s been free’d yes?”

At Nicolai’s words, Miklos slowly turned he head toward him. He couldn’t deny the possibility. “Bugger.” he said.

Hasan could hardly make head or tail of the situation they found themselves in. Nicolai’s unexpected verbal explosion utterly defeated the elf’s still strained sense of the humans’ common tongue, though the fact that the human chose to string his first sentences together at the same moment that the dwarf’s began to abuse Saeth surely didn’t help matters. Hasan joined his companions in trying to restrain the dwarf.

The elf recovered, and backed away from the dwarf. “Why do you all look at me so?” She stayed in a defensive posture, and made no move for her weapons or to cast any spells.

Suddenly she broke into a mad dash, sprinting toward the nearest alcove.

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What Has Happened?

“What are you daft woman!? He said NOT to touch!” Feldard’s tirade continued on more for venting than to chastize the unconcious elf – given that there was nothing he could do to assist. “It seems a gender trait common to all races to ignore common sense.” He switched over to dwarven expounding on the faults of women and their lack of care and common sense. He fumed, as he waited for the cleric or mage to give their pronouncement as to the elfs fate.

Startled by the Dwarfs outburst Miklos stalked over to the fallen elf. “…them.” he finished. He knelt down and raise one of the elf’s eyelids and gazed at her pupils. He looked up at the glowing red gem, and saw that it had turned green. “So much for ritual. What I would like to know is how the first witch escaped. By the looks of it all the Siswa were male and one elf maid would have had to have been inquisitive indeed to have stumbled down here by accident to release them. You could argue that the Rahib released them but it doesn’t make sense. He was a servant of Dentiata and was woo’d by his ‘new masters’, I doubt the witch’s ghosts visited him passed all of Dentiata’s wards. He could have been hedging his bets long before I suppose. The disappearances of the elf maids from the village must have been happening for some time for the Witches to have developed such a comprehensive reconstruction of Elyas’s defenses. No, we are missing something.”

Maruc knelt the other side of the fallen elf. He checked her over. Hmm, no outward sign of damage. “This is some sort of mental jolt.” he said.

“Based on the facts we have, my guess is that she is no longer Saeth but that a witch dwells within her body.” Miklos looked up at the green gem. “That is Seath, there. Didn’t you warn her that she might suffer this fate Maruc? As a replacement for Rahasia? Alas I fear you spoke true. The question is what do we do with her?”

Nicolai rubbed his bristly chin. “Much as I’d like to, you can’t leave her tied up. You’ll have to keep her unconscious. I would like to guess what would happen if the other two got hold of her.”

“We’ll need a stretcher. We’ll need to gag and bind her first.” Maruc hunted in his pack for rope. As he did so, Saeth awoke. “What has happened?” she asked, blinkingly clearing some cobwebs from her head.

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My Advice Would Be Not To Touch…

As his eyes became accustomed to the gloom after the fiery room Miklos stalked around the room casting his eyes over the statues. Hmm, three statues, Witches Three, Rahasia is safe but two maidens are trapped, one we have seen. Two green stones, one red. Green for unactive, red for active? Surely no light would show if no magic were present? The palm print…like that of the teleport device that brought him here. Perhaps its is some sort of teleport?

He stalked around some more. Then suddenly the dwarf joined him.

The dwarf gave a shudder as he realised that once more he’d been unwittingly transported to like the mage before him. As he glanced about he took note of the statues and then the iron throne. He wasn’t of a mind to care about the glowing eyesocket gems—they would only bring about more magics, no doubt. The empty eyesocket of the smaller statue however was rather telling. “The Black Opal Eye.”

So they were in the right spot.. but where were the Witches? Or rather the possessed maids they were here to save? Feldard moved away from the center of the room and began an circuit, checking the walls, yet keeping a respectful distance from the statues. He had no desire to experience yet more magic.

Shortly thereafter, Hasan, Maruc and Saeth joined them.

“Ahh there you all are. Splendid,” said the young mage as he joined Feldard at the throne. “The Opal goes here then?” He cleared his throat to get everyone’s attention. “My friends you’ll notice that two of the statues glow a different colour to that of the third. My guess is that they hold some relation to the witches. As Rahasia is safe with her kin only two of these have been used. Perhaps in some dark ritual? My advice would be not to touch…”

As he spoke, Saeth had wandered over to the statue in the center and placed her hand in the carven spot along the neck. She and the statue were both bathed in bright red light, and then the elven swordswoman fell to the ground unconscious.

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The Throne Room

As the fire flared, the dwarf braced himself and tucked an arm about his face and beard expecting the worst, but when flames did not consume him, he glanced up in time to see the flash of Miklos’ disappear. By the beard of the Gods! “Where did he go!? What just happened?” More damned magic.

The priest let out an explosive breath. He didn’t realize he was holding it. “Miklos you foolish boy!” he railed, “I only hope Halav has saved you from yourself.”

Feldard eyed the glowing handprint—it looked to be the source of the foul magic. The dwarf began to stalk forward towards the alter, hefting his axe into position to swing at the handprint.

“Feldard, you might well destroy our only chance of getting Miklos back,” shouted Maruc after the reckless dwarf. ”Release the desire for stonemasonary!”

At the cleric’s words, the dwarf hesitated at bringing his axe down upon the elven handprint, but before he could turn to respond, he was gone in a flash. Quickly thereafter, the altar’s glow and flames receded.

“As I charged you to not leave this quest, we cannot leave Miklos and Feldard alone,” declared Hasan, who stepped forward unhesitatingly to follow the dwarf.

Nicolai groaned. Now we’ll have to go jumping into no man’s land with no idea if we’ll end up in solid rock. Still there was hope. From the doorway he called, “I don’t think Elyas was evil. Sevastian was and his magic didn’t bury you in rock. My guess is its the same.” Nicolai shrugged, “I still don’t like the idea of leaping into the unknown but where’s the choice?”

“It might be an idea to hold on to Hasan, unless you can speak Elvish of course,” he added stalking across the room. He grasped Hasan’s shoulder. “Who wants to live forever?” He whispered mockingly in his ear.

Saeth and Maruc joined them at the altar and Hasan then pressed his palm where Miklos’s has gone just before. Once again the flames erupted along the top of the chamber and the same riddle was presented. Hasan supplied the identical answers to the mage and all of the group disappeared from the room.

* * * * *

The group now found themselves in an alcove, looking into a 30-foot wide circular chamber. Three other alcoves lined the walls of the chamber. Three tall blackstone statues stood in front of the other alcoves that faced the companions and surrounded a smaller center statue. All of the statues were blackrobed figures topped with giant dragon heads. Gemstones in the right eyes of the statues to the left and right glowed with dim green light. The gem in the right eyesocket of the statue in the middle glowed with a pulsing red light. An impression of a hand was carved into the neck of each statue.

The robe of the smaller center statue opened to form a niche. Within this niche sat an iron throne. Unlike the others, this statue’s dragonhead had only one eye socket located in the center of its head, and it was empty.

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Fire, Water and Air!

Feldard backed away from the ceiling column of fire, and edged towards a wall. More damn hoity-toity elfspeak, and spellcraft. He didn’t envy the mage in the least.

Maruc glanced swiftly back at the doorway wondering if he had time to grasp Miklos and drag him into the main antechamber—but events where overtaking him, to die in a conflagration would not serve Halav, but he could not leave a friend in peril. Valuable seconds passed in indecision….

Nicolai backed immediately out of the room expecting the onrush of his friends as the flames danced across the ceiling.

The mage glanced across to the Elves. Neither the cleric, rogue or dwarf would understand the riddle. He bearly grasped the translation himself. Still, the riddle was not about to defeat him. The Obelisk gave the first clue; “Beyond the Temples of Elements Three”. This was plainly the Temple of Fire.

“The temples of Fire,” he called in elvish, the others clicked into place—that which runs and is never weary—obvious, “Water,” that which cries and is never seen? Certainly not Earth! “and Air!”

Hasan stepped toward the mage, confident Miklos had deciphered the riddle correctly. Besides, the elf thought with a wry smile, with magic this powerful, a few steps in either direction likely wouldn’t avoid any ill fate.

For a moment, the column of fire running along the ceiling of the room flared up, but then it quickly receded as the altar and Miklos were bathed in amber light originating from the handprint. In a flash, Miklos disappeared the light upon the altar continued to pulse.

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