Whilst the other guys were knee deep in the dead (and undead), Schnecke, Emmiven and Grigori were up to their collective nuts in the works of magic; artifice, animations and conjurations. Enjoy!
THE MARKET TUNNEL
12:10 – 12:12 – The warforged (who wield rune emblazoned halberds, which seethe with a thin skin of fire) leap to attack whilst the other creatures (which are quickly identified as skeletons) surge to join them, each wielding a glass sharp blade of blackened steel.
The battle is brutal and short, with the barbarian smashing into the warforged, whilst the priests unloads waves of radiant energy into the undead, whilst tagging the living constructs with guiding runes. Emmiven uses his new hammer to devastating effect, charging full tilt into his foes as much as possible, using it to blast horrible dents in their armour, and to smash them, writhing to the floor.
Shnecke is particularly eager for this battle, having had nothing to kill for several days and having a brutal new axe (his reward from the their recent adventures in Karrag'Durzal) – a gleaming thing of Dundorin construction, struck with runes of thunderous magic and carved with realistic screaming faces on each face of the blade – to test out. All the group are a little shaken when, after slaying one of the warforged, the downed foes likeness replaces one of those rendered in the blades metal; a perfect representation of it screaming in agony...
12:12 – As the last blow falls, and the last warforged dies in a blurt of machine cant, the air around the party suddenly seethes, buckles and twists with focused energy, and a trio of imposing robed forms, dripping with power and authority manifest. Two are dressed in black robes, armoured with rune scribed plates of some unknown material. Potent warding mantles float around them, and their faces are obscured by heavy masks complete with circular eye pieces of smoked crystal, and artifice re-breathers. Each wields an auto-incantation pistols, and their personal might is evident to all. They flank the third and most imposing figure – a being dressed in dull red and black robes, bearing the sigil of the Unified Order. His eyes weep power from behind an intricate mask of glyph carved darksteel, and a sword of lensing nothingness flames darkly in his gauntleted hand. His battle mantle glows with myriad strange and alien energies, and when he speaks it is with utter authority.
“I am Archevult, and you are needed. I shall find the rat Rubus, but you must find your allies and aid them”
And before they can say a word, they are simply somewhere else!
12:13 – The trio find themselves in a well planned garden. A sweeping wall of white, rune emblazoned stone stands behind them, and ahead, beyond well manicured lawns and sweeping beds of exotic flowers, soars an ornate tower of white stone; thick with ornamentations, gargoyles and grotesques, as well as balconies with rune scribed plinths.
Immediately before them is a wide path of crushed white stone chips flanked by two flower beds. At the corners of the flower beds flicker fantastical carvings of elemental energy; elaborate things of fire, ice, lightning and radiant energy. Ahead of the group, between them and the flights of steps leading to the ornate front doors of the tower however are enemies; two more of Rubus warforged house guard, and a curious, floating thing that looks like one of the sculptures given life, its form in constant motion as clashing elements roar and surge, continually cancelling each other out and resurging back in to fill the sudden voids – an Elemental Warder!
With Archevult's words ringing in their ears, and realising that the tower is where their allies are, the group prepare to fight!
12:14 – 12:16 – A screaming bolt of clashing elemental energy hurtles towards the Warlord from the elemental wardens churning form, but he smashes it aside with his shield, and with a bellow, charges...
...Only to be blasted by coruscating lines of seething elemental energy as he crosses between two of the seemingly inert elemental carvings flanking the path. Before he reaches the floating elemental thing, he is hit by another blast as he crosses another invisible line between sculptures, and when he lands a heavy blow on the thing, he receives yet more pain as the thin skin of elemental energy surrounding the warder flows over his weapon, down his arm and blasts him.
And so a fierce battle ensues with the group having to navigate the trapped battlefield of the path, whilst fighting deadly opponents. The Warder's aegis of blasting elements it is quickly discovered can be removed with a strong enough blow, though it quickly reforms, and it strikes a particularly vile blow on the barbarian when it launches a javelin of frozen acid at him, impaling him and pinning him, like a butterfly on a lepidopterists board, the frozen fluid searing his guts until he finds the fury and strength to break free.
Like their comrades, the party are sorely tested by the battle. However, thanks to the barbarian's fury, the priests stunning healing abilities (which at one point drag both Schnecke and Emmiven back from the brink of death) and Emmiven's “charge 'em and knock 'em flat” tactics, they win through. However, as the last warforged is slain, the party notice that several of the White Stone Gargoyles on the towers decorated exterior have animated and unfurled great wings, preparing to launch into the air...
12:16 – As the gargoyles launch, the great doors to the tower open, and more Orellio House Guards emerge...