Trying to keep their feet in the screaming, unnatural tempest, Ormid, Llewellyn and Shadevia spy three areas of the maddening carvings which they believe are tied to maintaining the barrier. Cursing as they are thrown about by the gusting winds, Ormid tromps over to one of the areas, whilst Llewellyn cartwheels and leaps towards another accompanied by the shadowy form of the darkling. Ormid applies his magical knowledge to the problem, and silently marvels at the intricate work done to subvert the inlaid magics to a new, secondary purpose.
Llewellyn on the other hand looks at the “hack job” and sneers. Shaking his head, his long plaits whipping in the screaming winds, he mutters something about “amateurs” and sets to work reversing the alterations made, the seeker's sensitive eyes and magically attuned senses aiding him in his work.
Within a few seconds, two of the three areas have been undone, the glowing lines between them and the barrier dimming, the energy surrounding the massive humanoid weakening enough that the strongest winds push through it. Veteran, Ferrous and Ardwaine – still fighting the powerful gusts – take up ready positions along its boundary, ready to smash apart the first enemy which comes within reach once the barrier is down, and seeing this, the massive great cat begins to pace up and down between the warriors and its master, growling deep in its armoured chest.
Llewellyn and Shadevia are much nearer the final area, and they reach it long before Ormid, huffing and puffing, does. Llewellyn sets to work at once, his tiny fingers a blur as he ties small pieces of wire and drops misaligned shards of crystal over the carvings to scatter their magics and re-direct them. However, with a shriek he is picked up by a brutal gust of wind and carried some 20' towards the edge of the area, his face turning white as he feels death looming. Ignoring his plight, the darkling kneels down, and with a gesture, bathes the carvings outlined by the rogues work in pulsing darkness. Coils of almost angled smoky darkness rise from the carvings, and at once both the barrier and the tempest goes down, the vyrleen crashing to the floor a few feet from oblivion.
Veteran's axe strikes the great cat, Ferrous sinks his adamantine fangs into the beasts legs, and Ardwaine fires a bolt from her fine dundorin crossbow, all three attacks hitting with brutal force. A shadowy arrow arcs from Shadevia, missing its mark and vanishing into the agitated clouds beyond the areas' edge, and Llewellyn skips and jumps in, hurling an enchanted wedge of steel towards the massive Aethran.
The great cat is quickly put down, despite it raising a shield of flickering blue light about itself, which for a time prevents the weapons and spells of the party hitting it, each attack instead sending out a colourful burst of sparks and warping light. The Aethran however proves to be every bit the deadly, intelligent opponent the group feared it would be.
In their favour, the monster is already wounded from its battles with the Unified Order mages before, and it has used some of its powers against them, and sunk even more of its energy into powering the chrono-portal ritual. However, it still commands a deadly arsenal of spells; blasting the group with acidic shards of ice, psionically induced lightning, and summoning fields of death infused frost which hold onto those within, weakening and rotting them as long as they are unable to break free. With stark ease he swings his tree sized crystalline staff out at his enemies, each hit sowing carnage, each miss filling the air with a deafening crack and sending shockwaves through the ground.
The party though are far from defenceless. Ormid enchants the warforged's axe so that it weeps powerful acid, and Shadevia calls upon her dark hosts of spirits to aid her. Llewellyn quickly singles himself out as a target of the monster's ire, by repeatedly leaping within his arc of attack and concentrating unrelenting attcks on his left knee; climbing like a manic gazelle up the monsters cliff like calf and striking with horrific force at the tendons and softer tissues at the knees' back. The monster tries to smash him down, but the slow swings of the gigorim's attacks are unable to hit the nimble rogue, who bounces and tumbles about them like a flea avoiding the agitated picking of a huge tramp. Shadevia fires a few arrows at the monster, scoring a few hits, but then charges in, the air around her seething with a nimbus of shadows. Getting up close, she unleashes a burst of darkness, which whips out at the monsters legs, sending it sprawling towards the edge with a thunderous bellow. It manages to stop itself from falling to its death, but crashes down heavily, hanging over the edge of the platform, its face a mask of raw terror.
Sensing the possibility of a quick victory, the group try their best to weaken the gigorim's grip on the platform; charging at it full pelt, striking it with numbing blows and seething spells. Arrows infused with elemental spirits and prayers of divine strength also pepper it, but the monster manages, somehow, to keep hold. Several times the monster manages to pull itself up, and with a huge grunt of joy, it squashes Llewellyn flat, smashing him unconscious and sending his limp body, trailing steaming crimson, spinning across the battlefield. Shifting along the edge of the platform he finds himself marked by the warforged as a target, and he responds by sending a curse at the living construct, which ties their fates together – the Veteran suffering a half measure of all harm visited on the Aethran. A moment later and the gigorim is hanging over the edge again, courtesy of Ormid's thunderous artifice, and Llewellyn is up again, spitting teeth and wiping blood from his eyes, his mangled body partly restored by the artificer's healing infusions and the dundorin's restorative benedictions. He charges, slightly giddily, in towards the struggling behemoth, and launches himself high into air in a whirring forwards flip, using the momentum of his acrobatics to drive his seething adamantium mace into the brute's thick skull. Despite the vyrleen's diminutive size the blow is sickeningly powerful; a perfect storm of momentum, skill, luck and weighty enchantments. With a dull crack, the mace hits home. The monsters' skull is breached, a thick gob of brain matter and cerebrospinal fluids erupting in a smoking spume from the monster's head, and it shrieks in pain. Across the way, Veteran also screams, the curse relaying a measure of the harm to him, a crack suddenly appearing in his armoured head. Ormid bellows a warning, but the Veteran, incensed by the Aethran's temerity, and determined to punish it, strides in, his axe a mass of billowing flames and fuming acids, and leaping up, sinks his blazing, corrosive weapon into the creatures exposed brain.
The Aethran screams in panic and shock as the blow strikes a vital blood vessel. There is an explosive eruption of red mist and steam, and it spasms, managing somehow to pull itself up onto the platform in he process. Acid sizzles in the critical wound, further punishing the huge spell caster, but all is not well, for as his axe landed, so the Veteran fell victim to his own skill. Relayed to him through the Aethran's hex, the force of his own blow causes the back of his head to burst open in a shower of metal and stone shards, magical sparks and frothing oils. He jerks as if pulled by an invisible string, and staggers backwards, collapsing into a convulsing pile on the floor. Shadevia runs over to him, and at once begins to administer first aid as best she can, granting the doughty construct the support he needs to initiate his internal healing mechanisms, and then, as consciousness returns, to activate his potent healing cloak. Within a few seconds, the Veteran, now bearing a new scar, sits up, shaking the cobwebs away, whilst the downed gigorim struggles to get to his feet.
The party lay into the monster once more, determined to send it to its death.
Impossibly, the Aethran, bleeding heavily and clearly dizzy from his terrible head wounds, limping noticeably as he favours the less mangled leg, and bearing scores of other wounds from the parties efforts, his body pin-cushioned with blazing arrows, burns, sheets of thawing arcane frost and other signs of signficant abuse, stands up. His red-irised eyes glare insanely at the party, and the air around him seethes with agitation as he draws on yet more power. Ghostly fire erupts from his outstretched hands, blanketing almost all the party. It burns both physically and psychically, and all struck by it are disoriented and dizzied. Another burst of roaring sonic energy from the artificer, and the gigorim once more hangs over the edge. Its grip is weakened even more as Ferrous exhales a cloud of corrosive oil over it (and the group realise that the monster's hex must have failed, for the Veteran is not harmed by these attacks), and it begins to look desperate, its eyes widening, a look of panic clearly etched on its tattooed and bearded face.
For a moment Ormid considers trying to negotiate a peaceful end to the battle. However, he becomes aware suddenly of the chrono-portal, which, without guidance from the gigorim, is starting to become critically unstable; a billowing, flickering tear of black and green darkness, edged in negative light and limned in black corposant, dancing wildly like a flame in a strong breeze. He realises that there is no time, and so is relieved when the warforged, cold with the need to destroy his foe, leaps up and sinks his axe into the same wound that has born so many attacks, carving out a mass of brain tissue and fully ripping open the blood vessel within.
The Aethran gives a long, howling scream as his life flees him, and a massive burst of gore whips out from the head wound, pushing the group back, soaking them in blood and brain fluids. The air around the massive monster begins to writhe strangely, and as the Aethran's life slips away, and it begins to slide over the edge of the edifice, it becomes insubstantial, and then, with a blur of distortion, collapses inwards, leaving, briefly, a window into another universe.
It is a place of infinite stars and strange, impossible angles. A place of ethereal mists and echoing energies. Strange snatches of psychic conversations and chiming resonances flit through the star edged portal, and Ormid realises that the universe beyond is the so called Psychic Plane – the medium in which other dimensions float, which is simultaneously separate from them, and a part of them, suffused somehow into their fabric.
The portal snaps shut. The chrono-portal, utterly uncontrolled now, gives a scream.
Realising that unless they somehow take control of the rituals wildly unravelling magics they will all be killed, the party move to the touchstone and set about working together to channel the wildly bucking magics into something they can use. It takes every single ounce of control, ability and understanding, but with the rogue manning the physical side of the portal, and the artificer and seeker working on the magical side, they manage, impossibly, to stabilise the portal for just a second, and with Ormid sending a single thought into it...
...Before Brundor. In the time of Laertraine's golden age...
...The portal opens and draws the group in.
Side Note: 11:36; 24/5/1472 - A Reality Storm rages over the ruins of Laertraine, destroying the Unified Order base there and causing catastrophic planar breaches across the physical plane. The “Day of Sundered Worlds” is a world / dimension wide catastrophe that will have long term ramifications on the universe and all those that dwell within it. It will later be discovered that the source of the storm was the collapse of a Chrono-Portal within the ruins; the result of a treacherous Aethran'Gigorim's dark magics and an unknown factor.