09:48 – 09:50 – Sick and dizzy, covered in bruises and cuts, the party drag themselves from the shattered guts of the sky ship and up onto its deck. There they find that the ship has gouged a huge divot across the platform, the ripped rock stained dark by the fluids from the burst Order soldiers they crushed on their landing, and to the left of the ships nodding aft tower, a deadly group of Order soldiers heading their way.
The group are lead by a middle-aged man who bears a goatee beard and shaved head, dressed in flamboyant robes. A number of flashing swarms of tiny missiles float around him; living spells of some kind, the weakest of his formidable allies.
The first and most frightening of these is a hulking construct of animate clay; a golem. It lumbers along with the menacing might of a mountain, the spiral runes carved in its “flesh” shining with a green light, its eyes, discs of cold blue light. Further away from the party stalks a creature that is both beautiful and nightmarish; a warforged crafted into the form of a great, fanged, hunting cat – all lithe predatory movement and skulking, efficient power.
Finally, stumbling towards the group with thuggish intent are two massive creatures that seem to be the somewhat amateurish blending of flesh and artifice. Both were once normal humanoids – a dundorin and a well-build human – but they have been grafted with artifice parts (actually those of an Iron Golem), their pallid, tortured flesh giving way to slimy metal pipes, armour plated limbs and in their swollen and bruised bellies, sickening glassteel orbs within which slosh brown and blackish-green fluids. The Dundorin has no face any more, its original features being replaced with a death-mask like countenance of burnished steel, whilst the human has retained most of his brutish looks, though his eyes are now polished orbs of rune engraved red crystal, and where hair should be, snakes a festoon of ribbed pipes and cables. Both bear reinforced spines and ribs, and corded metalline musculature.
There is no exchange of words, no dramatic exclamation of rage or anger, just the unspoken understanding that blood will be shed and only one party will leave the area alive. This does not stop the mage giving the party the option of submitting to the Order's mercy however – a call that is met with derision at best.
09:51 – 09:53 – And so another battle. By this point the group are acting almost on instinct alone, their weariness, dizziness and pain a blanket that detaches them somewhat from the horror around them.
Realising that the ship is about to fall over the edge of the platform, the groups first concern is to get off it. This becomes even more urgent when the mage orders the golem to shove the ship off, the massive construct lumbering forth to obey. The living spells dart in, but meet a swift demise as their fragile energies are dispersed with well aimed weapon blows or shaped forms of magic, and Ormid quickly uses his artifice to construct a bridge from the ships high deck down to the platform.
The threat of the Golem is neutralised when it slips on the oily exhalation of Ferrous, the warforged leaping onto its back and laying about it with heavy swipes of his fiery blade, the searing edge cutting steaming divots deeper and deeper into the constructs massive form. However, the construct emanates an unseen aura of mental energy that clouds the minds of the group somewhat, making any kind of subtle tactical shift impossible whilst they stay within it. This leads to Ferrous almost dying as it bears the brunt of the half-golem's attacks, their massive, curved blades ripping through its adamantium plating as if it were paper. Things only get worse for the group when most of them are hit by blasts of corrosive vomit, it's toxic properties corroding armour and flesh with equal vim, and almost everyone suffers when the tensile wire holding the Wisdom from its final flight snaps, the super-stretched cable whipping lethally through the battling throng, opening horrific, bleeding wounds in all it hits. With its support gone, the sky ship drops away with a final roar of snapping wood and crumbling stone, to smash moments later in the ruins far below.
Once again the parties pain and weariness is lost in the dissociative haze of battle, adrenaline and endorphins surging through them as they dispense death and chaos upon their foes. Wounds that would slay normal men are shrugged off, and powers enough to make the air haze with disruption are called upon, focused and unleashed by both parties. Lightning describes jagged patterns of scorching light, gunpowder weapons disgorge smoke, noise and biting lead and the fatal pathways of the Veteran's blazing axe blur through the stinking miasma of battle that billows and twists around the ugly, desperate melee. Frost, flame, acid and waves of concentrated psychic energy curdle the aether with their power, whilst radiant energy is used to heal and to hurt; vaporising where it is focused in destructive bolts or blasts, mending where it is channelled with subtlety and skill. Spirits of ice and air are called by the silent seeker, bound into arrows to give them much greater power, and clattering things of artifice are awoken and set to battle by Ormid.
Ormid is taken down, and for a moment, slips close to death, the lingering energies of the mage continuing to devour his body even after he has fallen into merciful unconsciousness. Fortunately, Ardwaine, covered in blood, both hers and her enemies, whispers a prayer of healing and brings him, agonised and weeping, back to life.
One by one, the enemies fall. The Golem never manages to rise from the oil slick, though its cursed blows still send several members of the party flying, their wounds filled with baleful magic which prevents them being healed, whilst the hunting cat is taken down by the vyrleen's chewing mace. The half-golems are smashed apart with hammer, axe, spell and arrow, and the mage is silenced forever by Llewellyn's mace, his head snapping to the side with jarring speed, his incantation silenced in the time it takes his neck to snap.
Before long the Order welcoming party lies dead, and the group, weary almost beyond tolerance, are victorious.
09:54 – 09:56 – There is little time for the party to steady themselves and to enjoy a little healing from the priestess before they turn, limping, towards the impressive rune-bound double doors of stone and Gothniir that lead into the edifice from the platform.
“Everyone ready?” croaks Ormid, bloodied bandages binding his most recent and vicious wounds.
Grim nods from all.
“Then let's finish this.”