Ezekiel wanted to experiment with the magic stones, and the portal runes.
Raven wanted to experiment with the potions of diminution, to see if we could squeeze the giants through Lydia’s portal.
Ezekiel won the argument (for now) but we’re still waiting to see if that was for the best…
He and Raven headed down the hall from the giants’ room to where there’s a circle-rune (Node of Air, I think, but my notes are kinda disorganized), and while they played around with it, I stood watch over the corridor (Ezekiel took the smoky quartz – which we assume matches Air – but gave me the other two stones for safe-keeping).
He started with setting the stone carefully on the edge of the rune circle…but nothing seemed to happen…even after he waited the time it usually takes to teleport with one of the runes. Finally, he just held the stone and stepped into the portal – while Raven held his other hand.
And that’s when they vanished.
Well, if they were ripped apart by the duplicated energies of Air-rune and Air-gem, I couldn’t tell. We’ll have to wait while Lydia tries to scry them, and see if they ended up somewhere different…like back on the bottom floor of the Temple, like we hope.
In the meantime, I have returned to the others, and Elmo is enjoying actually talking with giants for once. He’s using his “dumb” voice, which means he doesn’t completely trust them, but that just makes sense. Mikael is also having fun talking to Schakka, and having Schakk translate for him.
Lydia stepped out of the air and told us Ezekiel and Raven had found “new” place, and wanted our help. So we packed up the fortress, said good-bye to the giants, and followed her back to her room – then waited while she re-set the portal on the other two.
Stepping through, we found a huge room…expensive, magical, and impressive.
We set up the fortress in the corner so Lydia could park the portal inside, then join us in exploring. The room was quite worth a look!
Four runes pulsed in the floor – even fancier than the others we’d seen. The eight-sided shape of the Fire rune kept spitting up gouts of flame, and triangle one pulsed with an earth-colored glow, and the circle one had some kind of steam rising from it. Ezekiel theorized that it’s some kind of “hub” for the Nodes – but of course, we’re not sure yet.
Raven went around the room, looking for traps – and checked the entrance…but didn’t find anything. I drew Tressarian to check for shifting-stone traps, but he didn’t smell any.
The only exit (unless there’s a secret one) is a corridor that leads to an even bigger room…a room cloaked in darkness, and filled with hideous, shadowy forms. Sculptures and pillars of misshapen fungal shapes loom over you – especially in the odd lighting from our shields – and the walls drip with nauseating colored slime. We could just see a platform to the north, with a throne on it…though it was indistinct in the shadows, the seat didn’t look “normal.” I think we all got the feeling that we were approaching the end game…although without all four gems, we can’t unlock the Queen to kill her.
Several doors open off the southern wall (what I’m calling “south”) — one of these has the same weird runes that none of us can look at, but another door opens to a side chamber. It really reminds me of our early days in the Temple: obsessive murals, these ones showing humans and demi-humans being robed and crowned with gold, and scenes of the elements destroying things…a room beyond was littered with broken dishes and overturned chairs, and other evidence of an interrupted party (not a party I would want to go to, of course).
We took a little time to scan that room with our magic swords (Schakka objects that he’s a “scimitar”!), but didn’t stay to loot the candlesticks, even though Ezekiel thought they looked worth the effort.
The next door we were able to look at led to a very similar room, with more murals of death and destruction and demons bowing down to the robed humans, who I assume are the leaders of the Temple or something (their gold crowns have skulls all over them, and frankly they turn me off). Also a plain blackwood chair that we checked out very thoroughly, but the swords say it’s totally regular (Tressarian says it’s not any more Evil than the rest of this place, although the whole area is kinda sketchy).
The room beyond had suits of armor lining the walls…rich, ornamental suits of armor, decked out in the colors of the elements…and I don’t think anyone was surprised when they straightened and moved to attack Ezekiel as soon as he stepped over the threshold.
Mikael and Lydia waved their hands – but the sparks from their spells seemed to just bounce off the suits of armor (if that made sense). Raven and Heiron did pretty well (naturally), but Tressarian and I have never fought animated suits of armor before, and I dropped him and had to pick him up before we could finish them off (he says it’s my fault, but he totally twisted in a way I wasn’t expecting).
Studying them once they stopped moving, it’s clear they wouldn’t be useful as actual armor for a person (if anyone dared try them on!). The decorative spikes are especially confusing, and the topaz gems (while valuable) wouldn’t protect much (evidence: the way Ezekiel was able to pop them right out). The little gold skull emblems also seem to be real gold…which is nice, because it means someone can melt the skull out of existence and make something nice.
This room also had frescos – this one of two figures on thrones, a fat demon guy, and a warped, bulbous monstrosity with a mushroom for a head, both surrounded by demons and slaves giving offerings and bowing down. Ezekiel pointed out a babau, and a bodac, and a succubus…and there were some vrocks, too, but they weren’t allowed too close to the throne, apparently. Raven drew chalk mustaches on the two rulers before we left.
While wandering around, searching for secret doors and traps, Schakka pointed out a door that led to a secret hallway. Following it down, Ezekiel found a recessed shelf – opposite was seems to be the back of a tapestry.
He splashed holy water over his head, and peeked through the curtain (I guess he forgot about that last curtain, that happened to be a deadly fungus).
Next thing we knew, some squeaking old-lady voice was shrieking, and another, deeper voice was booming, and Raven jumped through the curtain.
I switched to my bow, because I’m just handier with it, and next thing I knew, Heiron and Elmo had slipped through. I heard muffled thumps and clangs, but most of that was probably Ezekiel walking around…which probably meant the curtain didn’t melt them on contact.
I looked at Lydia, debating guarding our escape path vs. joining the others…and then –
[to be continued]
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