10:52 – 10:57 – They are lanky things; all lithe balletic grace and shredding corrosive claws, and they seem to almost dance across the rogues span towards the group. First blood is drawn by Grigori, who unleashes a blinding beam of chiming radiance at one of the daemons; searing its flesh and fixing himself as its first target. Jaeger (still under the bridge) also manages to land a blow, after sending one of this shadowy blades through a dismal portal and up into the legs of one of the fiends. Both daemons are raked by lightning, breathed by Seren's familiar, which still flitters over the bridge – though one manages to gracefully duck under the blast and avoid any harm.
In the blink of an eye the daemons are amongst the party...and then not.
Grigori experiences a rush of confusion and suddenly finds himself a little way behind Seren, on the opposite side of the arcane barrier. Slightly dizzy and disoriented, his view of the sorceress is suddenly blocked as the daemon apports next to him, and hits him with two vicious blows, which tear through the mantle of magic protecting him and shred the armour beneath.
A moment later, and Varracuda finds himself whisked away to the far side of the barrier by the second daemon. He is still wounded from the battles earlier, and finds himself in serious trouble when the monsters talons and vicious teeth tear into him and open deep, bleeding wounds.
Now trapped on the opposite side of the barrier from the battle, Shnecke and Emmiven can only watch as the horrors unleash their deadly attacks on the three adventurers with them. Jaeger however is able to manipulate the nearby shadows to open a portal through the wall. He appears amongst the carnage as Seren lashes out repeatedly at the daemons with her magic, finding that almost every attack is turned aside by their innate protections.
Grigori saves Varracuda's life as his wounds pile up, and the daemons – themselves burned and blasted by shadowed blade, arcane fire and divine radiance – begin to pour with acidic slime, the wounds they inflict burning with its touch long after the initial blow is struck.
The battle continues, and the first of the daemons is taking a sound beating despite Seren's apparent inability to land a solid blow. Its form is becoming less than solid; billowing strangely as if it is made from black smoke rather than chitin and bony flesh as the spells binding it physically to this world are undone by the cumulative damage. It tries to escape the carnage by stepping through the force field of the barrier, though this puts it next to the barbarian. Jaeger tries to stab it as it moves, warping space with a pool of shadows and sending his blade through the barrier, though the daemon swats this aside almost without looking. Unfortunately for it however, it is not able to avoid the descening razor edge of the Ulnyrr's axe, and the ensorcelled steel of its edge slices the vile spirit in half, its form instantly dissolving into a cloud of noxious, smarting, black smoke.
Whilst this has been occurring the other daemon has shifted slowly away from the arcane barrier and round the corner of the tunnel, hoping to gain some cover from putting its back to the solid stone. Varracuda has moved to attack it, his flaming blades slashing hissing wounds in its diminishing form. Alas, he discovers that the fiend has still another undisclosed trick up its sleeve, for as each blow lands, the thick slime it sweats sprays onto him, burning him painfully with its corrosive touch. Seren also gets sprayed by the burning slime as she stabs the monster with her daggers, channelling a spell through the blade (with no effect).
More silvery magic flows from Grigori like strands of some coruscating web, touching both Varracuda and the daemon. The swordmage is healed, the energy probing his wounds and repairing them, whilst the magic around the daemon solidifies into a blade-shaped rune of unravelling power, which plunges into the monsters form. The daemon screams as it feels its innate defences being weakened by the astral seal, its link to its home universe blunted by its interference, and Varracuda leaps in, landing a solid blow against it. As before, caustic slime burns the swordmage, only this time, more healing power, born from the seal, flows down the genasai's blades, further healing him.
Out by the bridge, and Shnecke and Emmiven decide that they will try to get to the other side, and to seek out any kind of mechanism that may bring the arcane barrier down. This is despite neither of them really knowing what to look for, or how to safely dismantle even the simplest of magical artifice. To this end, they throw themselves under the bridge, and begin to swing across, the bridge once more swaying alarmingly from side to side, threatening to catapult the pair out into the black air and to a lethal smash into the waters far below.
Seren gives a mental call to her familiar, who has been out over the bridge, constantly fighting near petrification as it has drawn fire from the basilisk stare trap, and the tiny creature wings its way to the arcane barrier. Jaeger uses the creature as a focus for a short range shadow step and apports to the far side of the barrier. Running, he leaps under the bridge and begins to swing expertly towards the two warriors, hoping to use his expertise to aid them in their search for a disarming rune. However, he changes his mind, and slashing the ropes he has been playing out behind him, he swings towards the far wall, smashing hard into it. Luckily, he manages to roll with the force of the impact, and sustains only superficial wounds. He then climbs back up and runs towards the barrier, opening another portal next to Grigori as he strikes the daemon with another seal of power .
Varracuda hacks the daemon again, scoring another hit, and Seren's run of bad luck continues as another one of her spells fails to harm the fiend. Then Jaegar, his blades seething with hungry darkness, stalks around the corner of the tunnel and launches towards the daemon. He seeds the monsters form with a kernel of darkness and stabs at it, landing a blow that strikes the very heart of both the monsters' form, and the spells holding it in this world. With a piercing scream of rage the daemon dissolves into nothingness, its cries echoing as if from the bottom of a deep well.
By this point the two warriors have swung across the bridge and pulled themselves up at the far end. They find that there is a 10' deep alcove set into the far wall, the way forwards blocked by a formidable door of steel. Schnecke shivers as the petrifaction trap sends a wave of fossilizing magic through him (though he shrugs this off), and both warriors quickly decide on what to do.
They charge the door!
Filled with adrenaline and pumped up with rage the two men crash into the door with terrific force. The steel door holds solid, but its hinges fail, and they manage to rip it off its frame and send it smashing deafeningly to the floor beyond. Now engaged in a search for any way to remove the barrier from their end, Varracuda, Seren and Grigori look at each others with clear apprehension as they hear the terrific boom, and peer across the gulf of the pit to try and see what is going on. This concern only deepens when they hear Emmiven yell, and see him stumble back, a crossbow quarrel embedded deeply in his shoulder – apparently fired by an unseen foe or device somewhere along the revealed corridor.
With a roar, Emmiven and Shnecke charge into the darkness. Jaeger, now back under the bridge swings up to stand behind them, but stays where he is, desperately searching for a control glyph to lower the arcane barrier. This, it turns out, is a very wise move, for a moment later and both the charging adventurers are surrounded by searing magical flame as they trip a hidden glyph of warding carved into the floor 15' from the doorway.
“Get fucking back!” hisses the assassin, hugging the walls of the corridor.
They stumble back, and all three of the adventurers scramble back under the bridge in order to try and formulate a plan out of range of the petrifaction trap (which in truth Seren's familiar is keeping busy) and of any further missile attacks. As they do this, something unusual occurs, for suddenly all the suspension ropes and cables of the bridge pull taut, and the rogues span is pulled into a rigid shape; the individual planks locking together to form a sturdy pathway.
Then they hear the voices. They are speaking some abominable tongue similar to gorgryn, and have a deep, roaring timbre. The three hear heavy footsteps, and the distinctive clank of heavy armour. Curious, Emmiven and Jaeger strain to peer over the lip of the bridge, and see, clumping down the corridor, two massively built humanoids, clad in thick, dark plate armour and wielding massive mauls. Each is some kind of gorgryn; though flat-faced, tusked and covered in short, bristly fur. They have wide yellow eyes, and flat, broad noses.
Jaeger recognises them as Gorashym (bugbears) – physically powerful brutes with a penchant for raw meat and an instinctive cunning – and they are approaching the bridge with speed.
Under the now solid bridge, the three adventurers look at each other, and seem to hatch a plan without words, an evil grin spreading across their faces.
“Aha” Yelps Grigori, “do you two think this may be a weakness in the barrier?”
The cleric points to a seemingly unremarkable section of the barrier. However, with a little effort, both the swordmage and the sorceress manage to shift their awareness to a less physical, more magical level, and both recognise a slight deformity in the intricate weave of energies forming the wall – an imperfection they may be able to use to shatter the barrier. Together, the three magic wielders draw on the ambient energies and their own internal powers and subtly manipulate the substance of the wall. As they pour energy into it, so it begins to shudder and weaken, and eventually, after what seems like an eternity – though in truth a mere heartbeat has passed – the barrier reaches a critical resonance, and shatters in a flash of silent, blue light.
Blinking the glare from their eyes, the three notice two huge, armoured forms running across the suddenly very solid looking bridge towards them. Realising immediately what they are, and understanding what formidable foes they are, they back off a little trying to form a plan for destroying them. Then they notice, at the far end of the bridge Jaeger, Schnecke and Emmiven emerging from under the bridge; the warlord scooping up the door he and the barbarian smashed in and hoisting it in front of him like a shield, blocking the corridor with it, whilst the assassin and hulking Ulnyrr setting about smashing one of the bridges supports with their weapons.
The two gorashym spot the three magic users before them, and give savage grins thinking their lightly armed and armoured foes easy targets. Behind them, the barbarian flies into a rage, striking the post with horribly powerful blows, aided by the tenebrous blade of the assassin, and with superhuman effort, they manage to cut through it, immediately unleashing the powerful tensions imbued into the bridge.
By the time the gorashym realise what is going on it's too late. The bridge literally tears itself apart, the ropes and cables lashing the air like the tentacles of an insane monster; slicing one of the monsters in half and stunning the other. The boards shatter and fly across the chamber, and with a shrieking boom, the entire structure smashes into the waters beneath, vanishing in a frothing mess of floating debris and churning foam. Both gorashym are lost.
Realising that they are now going to have to climb down into the waters, swim across and then climb up the other side, Varracuda, Grigori and Seren unfurl their rope and move towards the edge...
...Meanwhile, Schnecke joins Emmiven in his charge down the corridor towards the unseen crossbowmen, whilst Jaeger hangs back. With the door held in front of them, they charge blindly ahead screaming. Numerous crossbow quarrels slam into the door, bouncing harmlessly off, though one ricochets off the roof and snags in the meat of the barbarian's shoulder. Undeterred they continue their mad charge, fully intending to smash the life from whoever stands before them at the end of the corridor.
However, both suddenly realise that they are falling as a vast, bottomless chasm opens up beneath them, swallowing them, and all they do is scream and flail as they fall to their deaths...
Jaeger sees everything. He sees the two warriors charging ahead, sees them almost reach the end, and spots a robed figure stepping out before them, magic darting over her hands. He feels the prickle of sorcery, and watches in horror as the pair suddenly fall to the ground screaming and writhing; the spastic flailing of Schnecke being halted by one of the archers as they fire a quarrel, point blank, into his face, blood immediately washing over his features, clogging his beard and pooling thickly around his head. With the others still swimming across the chamber behind, the assassin realises that he needs to act fast. He charges ahead and leaps towards the Rookery illusionist slicing her across her throat whilst firing a poisoned bolt into one of the crossbowmen. He then spins back to the illusionist and swipes at her, warping the space around her with ribbons of shifting shadows. His blow lands and she is sent flying towards her allies, smashing into them and sending them all sprawling. Emmiven snaps out of his daze and as his eyes focus comes face to face with the draining form of Schnecke. Harnessing his powers he begins to scream at the barbarian, yelling at him to snap out of his malaise, and against all sanity it works. The Ulnyrr's eyes roll and open, and with a gasp he grabs the quarrel in his face and tugs it free, seeming to actually draw strength from the pain of it.
The illusionist is dead by this time, her life ended by Jaeger's blades, and he unleashes another deadly attack, his shadowed sword ripping at the three downed archers. One of them is hit in the neck and expires immediately. The other two are seriously wounded.
An ear-splitting roar and a thick cloud of acrid smoke as Emmiven, still prone, blows apart the head of one of the archers with his dundorin blunderbuss – more than enough for the last surviving Rookery rogue who immediately throws down his weapons and begs for his life.