Monthly Archives: November 2008

The Black Opal Eye

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Miklos gently leafed through the pages, turning each in turn hoping against hope that some spell or other might be salvageable. Some text at least must have survived the ravages of time and fire else the witches could not have charmed all the other elves into servitude. As the saying goes; “You are as useful as a Sage without a book!”…or in this case a “Mage,” thought Miklos ruefully as he turned another ruined leaf.

Maruc returned with the rope and grapple. He tied some knots at spaces the help the assent. Judged the weight and glanced at the chain supporting the Opal. “It would be wise for everyone to leave the room before I attempt this. We don’t know what further magics protect the Eye.

The cleric allowed the others time to position themselves as they wished. “I’ll try and lasso the chain supporting the Gem, climb up and retrieve it,” he said.

The mage gently closed the tome. It appeared that there were enough decipherable pages that he would be able to transcribe a few spells. It would take time a fair amount of time though.

“Think about this Maruc.” said Miklos. “It is far more sensible that the least armoured person climb the rope. I also have an affinity with the arcane arts and should be more suited to dealing with them should the need arise. Pass me the rope.”

To be honest Maruc didn’t relish the idea of climbing the rope in full armour. Although the suit bothered him less now, in fact he hadn’t thought about the discomfort for some time, he felt that his skills might be needed if something went wrong. Seeing no reasonable argument against the mage’s suggestion he passed him the rope.

Miklos smiled. “Stand back,” he called, and without waiting for anyone to leave the room he started to swing the rope in wider and wider arcs.

Feldard grumbled to himself and eyed Miklos sourly at his suggestions. Rather than uselessly piling treasure, Feldard began a circuit around the room, checking the walls and any fixed architecture for a release mechanism—lever, switch or trigger. He was certain that there had to be some way to lower the Opal… mechanical or magical; the dwarf was hoping for the former.

Miklos threw the chain upward in an attempt to wrap the grapple around the chain supporting the opal. His lack to preparation is telling, for he completely missed the mark.

Watching, Hasan gulped in dismay. He had no compunction with letting the mage retrieve the Orb. He did worry about the condition of the spellbooks and the Orb itself, with such amateur methods being employed to retrieve them.

After a couple more failed attempts, Miklos finally had some luck. The grapple still had not taken the trajectory which he had intended, but nonetheless seemed to have hooked securely onto one of the carvings in the ceiling near the chain. His long mage’s robes kept getting in his way, but thanks to the knots Maruc had provided, Miklos made slow but steady progress up the rope. Clearly, Nicolai had made this sort of thing look far easier than it was.

Finally, he got within armsreach of the gemstone. It was mesmerizing up close. Encased in a dark metal holding, it flickered subtly as it seemed to bend the light around it. His fingers gently undid the clasp. It was a small object, and it fit easily in the palm of his hand.

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Rummaging Through The Riches

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Feldard caught up to the others after a swift knock to the back of head for each of the elfmaids. He whistled as he looked over the treasury. Then his eyes came to that pocket of darkness. He scowled.
The dwarf had caught Marucs’ gesture in regards to Miklos, and was more than a little concerned that the mage would end up on the wrong end of his battle axe, unless that damned opal weren’t destroyed.
“So how are we going to get it down?” The dwarf didn’t comment on the certainty of there being traps, he was sure everyone present were aware of it. It would only serve as a reminder of the loss of their companion.

“Perhaps it uses the same magic as the elevator we rode before,” Hasan answered. “Neuwoude,” he commanded the orb.

Nothing.

Miklos’s swept over the treasure hardly registering it. His gaze locked onto the Opal. “Ah Nicolai, he would have had that down in a trice. I wonder if he had a rope and grapple, Maruc go and see. Oh for a Levitatius Incantata spell I would get it myself. The witch’s spell books may prove useful. I’ll search the horde for them. In the meantime Feldard and Hasan you might make use of this treasure. You could empty and stack up the chests to see if you could reach it?”

“Yes my Lord Abbot,” Maruc replied, his voice thick with sarcasm. Still the Mage had a point but rifling through corpses was less than tasteful. The greater good had to be paramount, he turned and went to take a look in Nicolai’s backpack, and had no trouble finding what he was looking for—a grappling hook and a nice length of rope.

Meanwhile, the mage rifled through the treasure, pushing precious metal and gemstones around like they were copper copecs. It wasn’t long before he found something interesting. In one of the chests, under some gold, he spotted something dark. Clearing the golden grains aside, he saw three spellbooks that had apparently been hastily hidden in the treasure pile. They were dark black, with platinum bindings. Unfortunately, they appeared to be badly damaged.

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Seeking The Opal

With frustrated clawing Maruc freed himself from the decaying spell and leapted across to Nicolai. His heart sank arterial blood. The boy didn’t stand a chance. His pale lightless face caught in mid plead. He closed the dead eyes. “Halav Incarnate upon your carven throne.” He prayed solemly. “Receive your son Nicolai. Blessed was he and noble of spirit. Selflessly he sacrified himself for the Greater Good and the furthering of your Light.” He pulled the rogues’ cloak over his face. “Be at peace.”

After allowing some time for the others to start mourning their friend, Feldard discussed with them his idea. He’d had plenty of time to think of what to do while they were paralyzed.

“Miklos, do you think it possible that by forcing the Witches to touch the gemstones again, it might do the same exchange of spirits again? Return Saeth and the elf maids to their rightful bodies?” It sounded reasonable to him. The gemstones had been the original cause of all this. “Of course, afterwords we’d need to devise a way to destroy the gems once and for all.”

“So my next question is.. How do we exit this place to get back there?”

Released from the witch’s spell, Miklos stretched. He listened carefully as Feldard recounted his theory. He stood and did not answer him for a moment. He walked over to the bound witches, followed closely by Hasan.

“Come my friend,” said the cleric to the dwarf as he waited for the mage’s response. “Let us see to those minor scratches,” he said, downplaying the seriousness of the dwarf’s condition. None of the wounds were particularly grave, but cumulatively they had taken quite a toll on the stout warrior. He laid hands upon his friends and relieved the worst of the pain.

Hasan regarded two of the Sisters Three. He knew them not as the witches they were, but as the elf maidens they had been. “Sylva, Merisa, you must reject this possession. Elrond is dead. You know his ring. I wear it now, and I will lead the Elyan. Listen now, and search yourself for the strength you need to free yourself.”

Miklos turned to the pleading Hasan, “The elfmaids you seek dwell in the dragon statues. As does Saeth. Do not be fooled by their appearence, or their words.” He met the glare of the Witch’s gagged and bound as they were. “Karelena. Solorena. We have denied Trilena Rahasia’s body, and now we shall deny you the bodies of Sylva and Merisa that you have cruelly stolen. You seem surprised how well informed we are? I see it in your eyes. What schemes you have be plotting to further you aims with the Sons of Night are as dust. I claim the Opal for myself!” Miklos chuckled darkly. He turned to the Dwarf with an edge of command and uncharacteristic steel in his voice.

“Feldard, I recall the verse from the obelisk thusly
Beyond the temples of elements three,
Above riches of ages past,
The Eye does dwell.

Touch Opal Black to Obelisk Pure,
Light shall swallow Dark,
As thou complete the Spell.

“Seek the rooms beyond for the resting place of the Opal. Then we shall cause Light to swallow ….Dark. Render them unconscious, they may still have powers that require no movement or words.” Miklos stood. No longer thin and rangy, but tall and lordly. “I go to seek their spell books and the Opal.”

The three bound witches could not hide the alarm in their visages. Never had they imagined that interlopers such as these could turn their ambitions to dust. Buried deep in the ruins, they felt so secure that they hadn’t even bothered to cover up Elrond’s inscription on the obelisk.

The mage stalked though into the following room from where the Witches had come.

As the mage had spoke, Maruc checked over Saeth and bound her wounds. With half an ear, he had listened to Miklos address the witches . The cleric’s eyes swiveled over to catch Feldard’s gaze. He raised a quizzical eyebrow and nodded over to Miklos, as if to say that’s not normal ‘Miklos’ behavior. Still, he did have impressive recall. “What I think Miklos meant, Feldard, was to thank you for saving our lives. As do I. Again.” Miklos’s speech brought flashes of Dentiata’s mocking face crossed his mind.

After seeing to the warrior and averting his gaze from the bound witches he made to follow Miklos.

Hasan watched in alarm as the mage walked toward the treasury. “I will return. You will be freed, sisters,” he said, with uncharacteristic softness to the bound Elyan maidens. “But nobody, even one to whom I owe my freedom, will plunder the treasure of Elyas, the patrimony of the Elyan,” he thought stonily. He followed the mage quickly. As he walked forward, he unclasped the Pendant of Elyas and pocketed it. His hand never left the pocket, though. He poised his ring to activate the pendant’s magic at the mage’s slightest surprising step. Hasan too would have the Orb.

In the treasury, they stood among the treasure of the Elyan, thousands and thousands of gold pieces, giant gemstones, ornate jewelry and golden statuettes, all overflowing from exquisitely carved chests. A glowing domed ceiling covered with decorative golden carvings, sent reflective light bouncing off the polished marble floor and treasure horde. As they looked up, in the center of all the light, was a small pocket of darkness. A jet black gemstone hung from a chain, suspended some 30 feet above them.

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Nicolai’s Final Breath

Feldard nodded solemnly at the rogue’s request. “On my honor, she will know your good deeds, my friend. What is her name?”

“Her name…is Marta,” said Nicolai with his final breath.

Miklos, still motionless, gripped within the witch’s spell stared as the dwarf crouched over Nicolai. He caught none of what words passed between them but as Feldard looked round his face spoke volumes. Miklos’s heart sank.

He dismissed blaming himself. If he had not used the wand, three foes they would have faced. One had done enough damage. A cruel turn of fate. He watched as Feldard secured the other witches.

He must acquire the Black Opal Eye. Only then would this nightmare end and some goodness come from this adventure. Yes, the Eye is the key. With such a treasure he would help restore the balance. Perhaps restore Saeth to her body? And the elf maids?

And turn back the Night of Dread? Foil the enigmatic Sons of Night? There was much to do…

Maruc strained against the force that held him. The elf-witches cry echoed in his mind in mockery as he watched helplessly as the poor Rogue paled in front of him. What torture was this? Why had Halav visited this upon him? To watch a friend die as he lay motionless. He felt like screaming. But he couldn’t. He could do nothing……as he watched the light die in his companion’s face a tear rolled down the clerics cheek.

Time seemed to drag on forever as the dwarf sat with his friend’s body. First, Miklos began to move, and then shortly thereafter the others. The witches were as furious as Trilena had been, but like her, they could do nothing bound as they were.

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Nicolai’s Last Wish

With Saeth pinned and struggling beneath his armoured weight, the dwarf made efforts to gag and bind her with whatever was at hand—his oiled rag for wiping down his axe, a torn scrap of tunic—anything to keep her from casting yet more magic.

She twisted and turned, causing the dwarf to grimace in pain. She scratched and bit, trying her best to get loose and bring her sword back into the fight. The dwarf’s wounds were taking their toll on the stout warrior, and he finally had no choice. He brought his armored elbow swiftly across the elf’s forehead, and knocked her out.

At last, Saeth lay motionless and he was able to retrieve the rope from his backpack and went about tying up the other two elf maids more securely removing any weapons from them, then checked on his companions. First, he went to Nicolai who laid motionless on the floor. The damage done from the witch’s attack was severe, and it appeared his friend was in grave condition.

“I’m not going to… make it…” he whispered.

Feldard moved closer to his companion. The dwarf knew how to take care of battle wounds, but the magic missile strikes were quite a different thing from axe and sword wounds. Three large scorch marks indicated the points of impact, but the bulk of the damage was internal and unseen. There was little he could do; he was no healer.

“You must find…” said the rogue, cutting the dwarf off before he could speak. He had little time, for he was fading fast. “My mother… Threshold..Fogor Isle.. tell her… tell her what we did…that I didn’t die a thief.”

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NOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!

Feldard watched the witch-elf warily in return as he stood once more. Unsurprisingly, he was relieved that she was pulling Saeth’s sword rather than trying for another spell, even if he was at the disadvantage. He was acutely aware he had no weapon. His crossbow had been left behind when he rolled and his axe lay behind the witch from this throw.

“You think you have what it takes to take me on, Witch? Think again. Even unarmed, I am more than match for the likes of you. Must be that elven blood.” The dwarf knew that when taunted to anger, people were rash and made mistakes.

He backed away slowly towards the fallen Maruc, his eyes not leaving the Witch as she made her approach. She swung to strike, and, aided by the enchantments placed upon Saeth’s sword, she cut a deep wound on the dwarf as he jumped back and rolled once more; this time over the downed cleric, reaching for the paralyzed humans’ weapon. He was unskilled in using the flail, but circumstances were rather dire. He struck out, as he’d seen Maruc do many times before. His target: the witch’s legs—yet again. Not familiar with weapons her stance was too narrow; if he could topple her, he had a good chance of pinning her and saving Saeth, as well as the others.

From his prone position, Maruc admired the quick thinking Dwarf as he fished the flail from his hand. A flail would have a different balance to an axe, which is similar to a mace, it’s all about judgment and swing. If the fight played out in front of him he’d be interested to see if the dwarf handled it with any finess.

Miklos glanced to the right and had the unnerving experience of looking at the back of his own head. He noticed he was balding prematurely at the crown. He sighed inwardly and readdressed the action being played out in front of him. He fervently hoped the Feldard would prove the bane of the magical classes as he was swiftly earning a reputation for.

As Nicolai bled on the ground, Trilena attacked again, but this time, Trilena’s attack was clumsy, leaving herself wide open to the dwarf’s strike. Her legs swept from under her, she knocked Saeth’s head hard against the ground as she fell awkwardly. Frantically, she tried to blink away her dizziness and re-engage before the dwarf could pin her down. She managed to cut and slice at the wild-eyed warrior, but it was of no use. Despite sustaining a number of painful wounds, the determined Feldard would not be stopped. Eventually, he pinned her down, and knocked her weapon aside.

“NOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!” screamed Trilena. After waiting so very long, and coming so very close, it appeared the sisters’ plot had been unraveled.

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Feldard vs. Trilena

‘Heh, not such a good a defense as he had hoped,” thought Miklos, his body frozen by Trilena’s spell.
Still he quite admired the turn of casting speed and the subtle movements. “At least my dieing moments will be educational.”

His shot too slow, and the witch’s recovery too swift, Feldard didn’t have the time he needed to reload his crossbow—already he could hear her speaking her magics to bring him down. There was no way now that he could save Saeth, not if he hoped to survive this himself, which he did. Feldard rolled to the side grabbing up his trusted battle axe in doing so, and heaved it with all the strength he had. The dwarf let loose the axe at the zenith of his arc aiming it towards the possessed elf. Battle axes are not made for throwing, and Feldard could tell as it left his hand that its rotation was clumsy. For once, even the dwarf prayed. Let it be enough.

Maruc continued to pray for release so he could aid his companion. “Mighty Halav sat on thine throne aid my dwarven friend against this foe!” he wished.

Both their prayers were answered for the moment, as Trilena’s spell was disrupted when she was forced to raise her arms to block the dwarf’s swift, but awkward toss. The heavy enchanted axe cut through Saeth’s armor, lightly wounding her forearm. Again, the witch winced in pain. Her anger heightened and eyeinging the dwarf’s crossbow, she drew Saeth’s blade with her unwounded arm. Trilena had virtually no combat training, but the stupid dwarf had just thrown his only melee weapon and she was anxious to take advantage of this young, strong, nimble body she had stolen.

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