Using My Monsters

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

The Three Levels of Mishazael - Solo, Elite and Standard Level 19 Soldier

So, if Zaruel had been bloodied before 10 rounds has passed, Mishazael, the Angel fo Treachery, would have emerged in a much more potent form. 

Between 1 - 5 rounds of weakening only, and the solo version would have got free (and a TPK would have almost certainly ensued). Between 6 - 9 rounds and the Elite version would have wreaked his silvery doom. 

Fortunately, they managed (despite about 60 of my powered up minions, Amued Zor and a few non-minion Chained Syndicate) to keep Zaruel's hit points topped up, and it was the standard version they met  - still tough, though not so bad once he got critted a couple of times by Veteran and the vorpal enchantments placed by Ormid on his blade.

Anyway, here are the three levels of Mishazael 

Level 19 Solo Soldier

Level 19 Elite Soldier

Level 19 Soldier

I will get Amued's stats up here soon too!

Friday, 22 July 2011

Ormid et Al - Session Report 19/7/2011

03:06 – 03:09 – What ensues within that chamber is a truly epic battle that pushes each member of the party to their absolute limit. Swarms of Chained Syndicate soldiers come through the portal, each focused on trying to disrupt the paladin before he can fully weaken the angel, and time and again the group, despite the overwhelming number of enemies, hurl them back into death.

Amued finds himself battling toe to toe with the Veteran, though to the warforged's utter shock, the daemonhost proves to be a foe almost his equal. Time and again his deadly axe surges in to hack at an exposed leg or flank, and time and again the mutant's own weapon – a huge khopesh forged of mottled steel – suddenly appears in the way, driving the blade back with supernatural strength. For every wound he lands on Amued, the horror returns a blow, and worse, his unnatural form is seething with black power, which heals his flesh almost as quickly as Veteran can lay it open. As they battle, Amued mocks the warforged in a voice like liquid hate. He calmly tells him how he will savour ripping his machine soul from his body, and will treat it as a rare morsel. He mocks each swing of the construct's axe, despite the fact that slowly but surely, it is starting to win through more than not, adding more and more deep dents and splits to the heavy armour of the daemonhost with each passing second. Tens of genasai fall as they try to engage the Veteran, split open by the constant whirring of his axe, as he focuses on trying to find an angle from which to strike his deadly, powerful foe.

Activating the repulsion field on his armour, Ormid takes up a position close to Zaruel, the magic around him pushing back the waves of fire and lightning wielding genasai who surge to strike with blades of obsidian. Alas, there are others who need not get close to wreak ruin; deformed babbling things that were once water genasai, but who have become corrupted by the madness and vile power of the pit. Wheezing and gagging obscene invocations, they hurl seething balls of corrosive energy at the paladin, and even his incredible angelic armour bubbles and blackens under the assault. Desperately, Ormid works to repair the steel and to stop any of the foul stuff harming the angelic knight, his efforts managing to keep the corrosion at bay....just. He also hurls flasks of healing compounds at his allies, the alchemical powders sealing wounds and banishing weariness that would otherwise see them stumble and fall.

Llewellyn has a horrible time of it.

Initially he seeks to shut down the portals that are allowing the troops to flood into the chamber, reasoning that the more of those he shuts, the easier the battle will become. He is successful with one, but suddenly finds himself unable to think clearly, his mind scattered, as a dark robed genasai with dusky purple, bruised flesh, spits a psychic curse at him. Drunkenly he lunges at the nearest figure, and feels his mace burst the monsters stomach, but he is hit again by another bolt of raw hatred, and is suddenly fighting for his very life. Activating his boots, he teleports to another of the portals across the chamber, the flames that emerge at his point of exit blasting the crowing monsters out of existence. But this only puts him in greater peril, for the portal flares as he arrives, and four genasai – two dressed in shining obsidian armour with razor-sharp scimitars of the same, two bearing massive tesubos, with flesh like granite – step from it, immediately launching a series of deadly attacks. One of these – a sweeping blow from one of the earthen monsters – strikes the vyrleen square in the skull, and he is thrown 20', to lie, unconscious and bleeding to death, close to another of the portals.

Working to keep the numbers thinned down, Seren stands close to Ormid and launches arrow and arrow at the closing hosts. Time and again her arrows find the eyes, throats or hearts of her foes, but for every one she drops, another two emerge. Seeing that her ally is down, and realising that she needs to slow down the constant arrival of new foes, she reaches into the shadows of the chamber, and with a grunt of effort unleashes a huge cloud of flitting, screeching bat like shadows, which engulfs the area around the portal that Llewellyn bleeds next to. These horrible manifestations of her black soul do a fine job of distracting those enemies that step into the chamber there, their aggressive flapping and horrible screams serving to slow down movement towards the battle.

Ardwaine, positioned close to Zaruel, is already bleeding from a dozen wounds. Breathing heavily, a fine red mist visible with each exhalation, she is close to the gates of death. Her hammer rises almost mechanically as she smashes down her foes, and upon seeing the vyrleen's broken form flying across the chamber, she calls upon her most potent spells of healing, dragging him not only back from near death, but closing almost all of his wounds.

On the opposite side of the chamber, Ferrous, wreathed in his fae magics of misdirection, is having a better time of it. His corrosive oily breath has not only sent several of the foes to their deaths, but has created a treacherous zone around one of the portals – a zone that sees more than a few enemies tumbling as soon as they enter the chamber. Charging across the room to stand by his master, the Iron Defender keeps enemies from the Veteran's back; withering charging foes with his lightning breath, taking off a leg at the shin here, a hand at the wrist there, as well as more than a few throats. Time and again an enemy swings at him, only to find that their weapon or spell passes harmlessly through an illusory duplicate of the homunculus, and of all the group, it is only Ferrous who emerges from this insane melee barely scathed.

Around the chamber, death is dealt by the party over and over, whilst Zaruel continues his chant. As the moments stretch painfully by, a blinding column of pure white radiance begins to thicken around the perimeter of the binding circle, becoming opaque, hiding the screaming, railing angel within. Zaruel himself becomes surrounded by swirling currents of luminous energies, angelic sigils forming delicately within it, only to fade moments later, and over the din of battle, and the strident chants of the paladin, Mishazael's beautiful, horrific voice chimes out like a bell of purest crystal.

“NOOO! STOP! I COMMAND YOU, STOP! YOU CANNOT DO THIS! I AM A SOLDIER OF HEAVEN! YOU DO A GREAT WRONG HERE....HELP ME YOU BASTARD SYNDICATE FOOLS, SMITE THIS ARROGANT MITE, AND GIVE ME REIGN TO SERVE WITH YOU AND TO ERADICATE THESE WORMS!”

Finally, one of the Veteran's blows cleaves through the daemonhost's infernal armour, and carves a smoking line into his flesh. At once, a blast of raw abyssal hatred boils from him; a crushing wave of absolute, blackest horror, that steals sanity in almost all the party, sending them blindly running away, driven by their deepest animal fears to get as far from the source of their dread as possible. This gives the daemonhost the opening he needs, and with a roar of triumph, he vaults across the chamber and rushes Zaruel. Eyes burning in his deformed head with hells own light, he swings, two-handed, at the paladin, a bestial howl of triumph torn in bloody scraps from his alien throat...

...and misses, his blade deflected by the prayers and heavenly metallurgy within his glowing plate armour. Amued has only a split second to consider his failure before he is thrown sideways by the quarter ton bulk of the Veteran slamming into him, full tilt, an unfortunate flame genasai getting mangled in the resultant tumbling of potent, armoured forms.

Ardwaine finally succumbs to her wounds, only to be brought round by one of the artificer's potions, whilst Llewellyn fights to stay alive as his ongoing efforts at closing the portals is hampered by the piling attacks of the genasai. Shadevia launches arrow after arrow, dropping more and more of the enemy, and shifts slowly back to stand by the artificer after her brief, headlong flight.

And then a mage mantled in distorted magics and bearing a warped staff of bone and unnatural metals steps from the portal nearest to the vyrleen. Speaking a curse, he hexes the rogue, placing a spell on him that will turn his despair whenever he misses with an attack into a self-destructive psychic fire within him. He then begins a guttural incantation, the air close to Ormid warping with unnatural distortions. A high-pitched whining cuts the air, and suddenly a shimmering sphere of collapsed reality manifests, a powerful wind stirring around it as the plane's fabric is folded over and over again to give it substance. Laughing like a drowned man, the warp caster turns to regard the struggling rogue near him. Almost at once, the planar warp sends tendrils of mangled energy out towards each of the heroes, striking Shadevia and Zaruel; dragging them bodily towards it. Zaruel returns to the side of the angel without missing a beat, and Shadevia simply uses her new position to end several more of the corrosion lobbing mages who had just stepped through one of the portals.

In the end there are two turning points in the battle. The first comes when Amued finally begins to succumb to the warforged's might. Despite all his strengths, unnatural healing and dark magic, the simple, direct attacks begin to wear him down, and eventually he makes a fatal mistake. Stumbling back, he leaves his midsection open for a deadly split second, and the warforged steps up, using his massive strength and momentum to drive his axe deep into the daemonhost's belly, and on through it until it severs his spine. At once a terrible scream – two voices wailing together; one human, the other daemonic – rings out. The unholy warrior stumbles back, his body shimmering with heat, before suddenly collapsing inwards to some unseen singularity, his body and equipment turning to ash which is sucked into it.

In the split second that he is destroyed, a nightmare form is seen, writhing in torment above – a vast clawed humanoid with a dog-like head and menacing pincers. A daemon known by many as Glabrezu.

The death of Amued, coupled with the dwindling number of troops willing to sacrifice themselves, sees the few remaining Syndicate warriors seeking an escape suddenly – the second turning point in the battle. Several make it, leaping in a panic through the portals and running away. However, more than a few foolishly let their guards down for a moment in their fear, and pay the deadly price.

03:10 – 03:12 – In the middle of the chamber, the light becomes too bright to tolerate, and with a song that sings of certain death, eternal hatred and ineffable beauty, the ritual is completed by Zaruel, and the wards surrounding Mishazael shatter, and he is set free. At once Shadevia moves her shadowy zone to engulf the fabulous being, who, weakened to the point where he is but a ghost of his former self, he finds ievery bit as tormenting and restrictive as the Syndicate soldiers did.

“He is fully weakened.” Pants Zaruel, drawing his weapons, “Strike now. Cold Iron will burn him, whilst fire and radiance will barely touch his immortal form.”

Mishazael glares at the paladin, and a sword of silver flame manifests in his hand.

“TREACHEROUS VAPOUR! EVEN IN THIS DEGRADED STATE, I SHALL....ooof!”

Everyone leaps to attack. Ormid quickly activates several deadly enchantments on the warforged's axe, its edge suddenly dancing with killing magics, and sees it put to perfect use as Veteran almost decapitates the angel with three perfectly placed, swift strikes. As this happens, a glowing halo of divine fury erupts from him, striking every adventurer; burning their souls, blinding and deafening them, and hurling them like broken toys to the far corners of the chamber.

“YOUR ACTIONS DOOM YOURSELVES BODY AND SOUL!”

Sweeping upwards with his shining wings, Mishazael is clearly shocked and disoriented, his mercury like blood flowing like glowing rain from the ragged wounds in his neck. Pain etches itself on his fabulous face, and everyone has to give themselves a mental slap not to rush to his aid, so deeply does his agony affect them on some primal, illogical level. Blinking the glare from his eyes, Llewellyn lobs several daggers at the luminous being, but finds them deflected by his wings, whilst the same happens to the shadeling's arrows. In retaliation, Mishazael speaks a perfect word of undoing, and without so much as a sigh, the vyrleen falls over, close to death, much of his life-force unravelled by the divine spell.

Zaruel speaks a word of holy power, and at once grows a pair of shimmering feathered wings. Bringing his own mace of cold iron to bear, he soars into the air to battle the angel, and is roundly blasted back by a sweep of his glowing sword. Lightning chews the air from the Dundorin's hammer, only to slither like quicksilver harmlessly off his divine mantle, and from the ground, the warforged reluctantly brings forth Dracusvir, and takes aim – not to strike the angel directly, but to unleash a blast of acid from which he cannot escape unscathed. The projectile jets upwards trailing black mists and erupts into a cloud of burning fluids. Mishazael shrieks as the mordant stuff withers his feathers, sending them tumbling like rotten leaves from above. His perfect, luminous skin blisters, and his eyes begin to weep glittering tears that fall like stars.

Despite this, his fury remains untarnished.

“DESPAIR AND DIE YOU INSIGNIFICANT VERMIN”

A column of heavenly fire suddenly falls from the air, but distracted as a drop of magical acid drips into his eyes, the angel misplaces it, and it roars harmlessly several feet away from his intended targets – the stricken vyrleen and dundorin. A hot pressure wave blasts back from it, and the angel howls his anger at his foes continued survival.

“Enough!” Screams Zaruel, sweeping towards the angel with his own wings, “This ends NOW!”

Mishazael, still giddy from the loss of blood and the pain in his eyes is slow to react. As the paladin comes within reach, his mace sweeps out, and Mishazael fails to stop its deadly arc, the head of the weapon tearing and blasting its way through his armour and biting venomously into the body beneath. For a split second, time seems to freeze. The look of shocked horror on the angel's face is burned into the minds of everyone in the chamber, and then, as Zaruel falls to the ground with a bone crunching crash( his attack preventing him from concentrating enough to keep his wings active), the traitor angel dissolves into a formless mass of blinding silvery energy – energy which is drawn inexorably down in shining tendrils towards the chiming blade of the angelic paladin. A sudden storm of planar turbulence sweeps like a dust devil of shimmering warps throughout the chamber, as with a soundless blast, the angel is drawn and imprisoned within the sword.

Impossibly, the toughest battle they have ever faced is finally over!

Ganulf - Guardian of the Path of Shadows, Gorgom Senior (Level 12 Solo Soldier)

So, here are the statistics for Ganulf. As soon as I get the report done, I shall also get the three different sets of stats for Mishazael posted here, so you can cringe at his awesome power..then his power...then his normality...


(Clicking enbiggens)

Stat block created with the DnD4eCM

Ipokken Returns - Session 1

NOTE - Much as I would love the time to do a fully detailed, story type write up for Ipokken, like I do for the two main current campaigns, I'm afraid I don't. So, I intend to keep up the "note book" style of recording what has happend, like I did before.


I hope this won't disuade you from reading it, as this is a great ongoing story (and I had awesome fun continuing the tales Craig and I began to tell back with 3.0 D&D, all those years ago), and I think you will find plenty to enjoy.


*   *   *


10:40 – Ipokken heads back into tombs. Bodies of mercenaries have been either eaten or dragged away. 
 
11:00 – Reaches stairs to lower levels. Is greeted by Overghast minions; mostly brute types, but also one of the acid spitters. Brief but brutal battle. Ipokken is seriously wounded by them, though much of the harm comes from the cursed amulet.

11:08 – Having rested, and scraped most of the necrotic acid from him, the monk decides that he must try and get the amulet removed, as it is making him far too fragile. Is torn about where to go. Fears that if he goes to Irin, Moiety will emerge and a catastrophe will ensue. Frustrated as he realises that best chance of getting the amulet removed will be in the city.

11:20 – Having rested and thought a little more. Returns to surface and feels rhythmic thumps coming from south. Can also hear deep crunching booms from same direction. Decides to investigate.

11:40 – Encounters warforged goliath, packed with troops, headed for the weaker southern flank. Can see at least two more heading in the same direction in the distance.

11:45 – Runs ahead of the massive construct and tries to grab their attention by waving his everburning torch. When this fails, he calls upon his Ki and launches himself 50' into the air, and onto the massive constructs shoulders. As he flies, he is seen by the amazed troops within the goliath's chest chamber. Sits in lotus position, awaiting arrival of crew,

11:47 – Four soldiers and a mage (Captain Avari), arrive from a door set into the massive warforged's neck. They challenge Ipokken, and when he is unwilling to allow them to put shackles on him (they suspect he is an aelwyn infiltrator or similar dangerous individual and want to get him to the relative security of the mustering point far to the southwest), and fails miserably to calm their fears, they move to attack him.

11:48 – Ipokken drops from the construct's shoulder, and manages to land with only minimal wounds (though these are amplified by the cursed amulet) back in the forest. As the goliath strides onwards, he can see the tiny silhouettes of the guards, lying flat high above, as they scan the forest below for any sign of him.

11:49 – Cursing the “stupidity” of the guards (and not really appreciating the viciousness of the aelwyn wars and the cunning they have demonstrated), he reluctantly decides that he must head north and seek help in Irin – planning to come out before Moiety has a chance to emerge.

16:20 – Arrives at southernmost defences surrounding Irin (there is a wide semi-circle of deep trenches and fortified positions all around the cities southern and southwestern sides – a guard against the ever nearing war front.

16:25 – Is spotted by warforged manning the defences, and a bridge dropped over the spiked pits.

16:28 – Ipokken is met by five warforged; four standard troops, and a hulking one based on the the Veteran template – an ugly brute with black enamelled armour, bearing an admanatine great axe.

16:35 – Ipokken gives the (now out of date) password he and Andras were given by the patrol six days before. This actually raises the concerns of the 'forged, as they feel he may be an aelwyn infiltrator given out of date information. A mage is summoned.

16:40 – Ipokken is getting angry at the constant mistrust, and only just manages to remain cordial when a young man dressed in the robes of a Unified Order mage arrives and politely informs him that he will be taken to a secure place. Ipokken makes him aware that he is an associate of two mages currently serving with the Unified Order, and tells them of Andras and Mendle. The mage agrees to try and locate them.

16:50 – Ipokken is placed within a warded tent, and told not to try and leave. Sees potent runes sewn into the flap, and feels a magical tension immediately gather when the circle of the closed tent is complete. Angrily, he waits.

18:10 – Andras and the mage arrive. Andras asks Ipokken why he didn't use the friends bracer to contact him and arrange to be met. The monk is unable to explain.

18:11 – Andras and Ipokken move to enter the city. The monk expresses his fears about being around so many people, when he is unable to say whether or not Moiety will re-emerge. He explains to Andras that the amulet is cursed, and shows the mage the horrible thing. Andras flinches, and lets the monk know that he has been forced to tell a High Priest of Merriel'Shaava of him, and the burden he carries. “If anyone can help you get rid of the amulet he can.”

18:12 – The pair decide to seek out Velluriel Salanatha. Andras tells the monk that his research has pointed to three possible places where a device for restraining Moiety may be located; Laertraine, Draxia or possibly a dwaer'syth city such as Mrith'Arnth. He also explains that Velluriel is helping him, and that he has told the High Priest all about him and his problem.

20:00 – The pair arrive outside the Unified Order tower in the Plaza District; a huge edifice surrounded by spired temples to the Lady of Mysteries. After some negotiation with the clerics on guard, are allowed in.

20:10 – Ipokken spends a little time taking in the sights of the temple (pentangular altar suspended in column of raw energy. Illusory icon of the goddess above it, shifting between a female human form and a cloud of chaotic runes and raw, elemental power. Seats suspended by magic- entire place is in a pocket dimension. As always in Merriel'Shaavite temples, no singing, but a constant drone of chanting).

20:12 – Velluriel arrives. Works a divination of the Talon, and cries out in pain (drawing concerned silence from nearby clerics) as jagged crimson sigils blaze suddenly across the limb, and a wave of psychic hatred lashes out at him. Ippoken is also badly hurt by this, and is outlined in a bright red light – a warning to all and sundry of a daemonic presence within the temple.

20:15 – Velluriel is shaken by his experience with the talon, and after getting permission from the monk opens a portal to a physically and metaphysically secure chamber, deep with in the stronghold temple (single bed, icon in an alcove. Binding runes set into cornice of ceiling).

20:16 – Velluriel states that he had no idea how serious the issue with the limb was, and confesses that he suspected Andras was exaggerating. He then states that it is vital that the foul thing is neutralised, and that the resurrection of Adathraine prevented. To this end, he asks Ipokken if he will stay in the chamber until he can find some kind of solution. The monk agrees.

20:22 – Velluriel agrees to remove the cursed amulet, and will take any residuum that is created as payment.

20:24 – Begins the ritual to remove the amulet. Ipokken soon passes out from the agony of the magics tearing through him.

21:24 – Ritual is completed. Amulet is removed without any harm being done to the monk. Ipokken remains unconscious. Nightmares as Moiety struggles to break free.

8/10/1467 Thick freezing fog – Very heavy frost that remains all day.

03:24 – Moiety has taken control of the monk and wakens in the darkness of the chamber. Andras slumbers by the bed, and the dark spirit immediately plans to end him. However, the runes in the chamber immediately blaze into furious life, and scarlet light and warning glyphs burst into existence around his body. Magic thunders from the glyphs, paralysing the monk and the dark presence within him.

03:35 – Andras is clearly terrified. Velluriel arrives and tells Moiety that his time in this plane is drawing to a close, before uttering a powerful word of magic and knocking him out. The High Priest is shocked to notice that the ancient, incredibly powerful restraining runes within the chamber are smoking with the effort of holding Moiety in check. He questions whether it would be wise to simply kill the monk now and banish the limb from the world. Andras refuses to allow this.

Ipokken remains unconscious for the rest of this day.

9/10/1467 Thick freezing fog until late afternoon when it clears. Bitterly cold night. Crushing frost by dusk.

14:20 – Ipokken awakes to find Mendle is in the room. They swap small talk, but the conversation dies when Ipokken and the ghaerduun disagree on the need to take the battle to the aelwyn (Ipokken states he would never be the aggressor, despite all that they have done).

15:30 – Mendle leaves.

18:40 – Andras arrives and informs Ipokken that Velluriel is working to try and find some
way to permanently contain Moiety. The monk wonders if he would be allowed to sleep in this chamber, so that if the dark presence emerges, it can be immediately contained (he notices that the walls now bear additional warding sigils, clearly added after the ancient ones struggled to hold Moiety before).
 
18:43 – Andras finishes explaining that he is concerned that Moiety will seek his end now that his true loyalties are clear. Ipokken tells him that he wants to do some good for the refugees of the war.

10/10/1467 – Sunny, but temperature remains below freezing. Bitterly cold by nightfall.

09:00 – Andras informs Ipokken that he has been told he can assist the monk in his quest instead of him being sent to the war front. Tells the monk that the only real missions that he could do for the refugees will involve helping to escort about 200 of them through the “buffer zone” (i.e. active war zone) between the western most secure cities and the occupied zone. Ipokken is worried that being so far away from the city (the journey would be over 100 mile), would mean that Moiety may emerge – to the detriment of anyone unlucky enough to be near him.

12:40 – Andras informs the monk that a bracer capable of binding moiety (though this would also bind all the magics in the Talon) may exist somewhere in the Throndas'Gothica mountains. Ipokken states that he wishes, despite the risks, to help escort the refugees. Then he will journey with Andras to seek the binding bracer.

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Grim Tidings - Post War Natives - Session Report 18/7/2011

Arrival +13 days, 6 hours, 01 minutes - +13 days, 6 hours, 07 minutes – The party struggle up the stairs to the dancing skin of the portal, and feel the strange currents of dimensional interactions crawling like leaden static over their skins. Limping, wounded, dizzy and near to collapse, they grimly steel themselves to face whatever lies beyond, and step through...

...The entire chamber is made, it seems, of glistening raw meat, though from the stench and the cloying humid heat, it is clear that the meat is alive. A vague coppery light bathes the entire place, seeming to drench everything in a bloody glow. Vast pipes of muscle and sinew, tangle across the ceiling, twitching in time to the ponderous beating of a massive heart the size of a cottage, that hangs from vast tendons in the ceiling 100' above the ground. Massive ribbed arteries snake across the floor of this place, pulsing with their heavy cargo of blood, and gargantuan ribs, oily with fluids and carved with bleeding runes, form the frame of the chamber. The floor is a grey membrane, streaked with yellow fat and surging veins, which twitches from time to time, and with sickened horror, the party realise that the chamber has been built within the living body of vast being of incalculable power and resilience.

In the far right hand corner of the chamber rises a horrific semi-circle of rotting stones almost identical to the menhir used by Gor'Kuul. A psychic breeze that tugs at the group's minds veritably roars into this, channelled it seems through the robed and armoured abomination that stands just behind and above it, upon a platform of raw, bleeding bone, dark magic flowing around him. The group notice that two similar platforms rise on either side of this chamber, glistening in the coppery, misty air of this place.

Standing over 20' tall, it is a withered gorgom, clad in robes of corroded chain armour, and bearing a monstrous maul of black steel, carved to resemble a mass of wolf's heads clustering outwards. Dark runes gleam and burn along its handle, and Ulframm grows pale as he reads its name.

“The Sender. The Final Death. A weapon of legend, capable of killing even one of the old gods. A soul eater. That monster must be Ganulf, Senior of the Gorgom.”

Just in front of the robed gorgom is the monster that Schnecke caused to fall back through the portal. It is clearly undead, its life force obviously drained and unholy animation put in its place. A shadowy aura reaches from it within which the flesh of the chamber immediately bruises and weeps large pools of gore. It's flesh has withered and sticks to its bones like ancient parchment, and it grips still the massive axe it bore in the corridor.

At sight of the party, pale flames burn in Ganulf's empty eye-sockets, it's wintry voice a curse.

“Ah. I have been expecting this. You're the ones that slew my human son. You're the ones that undid the outer edge of my Mythal! YOU'RE THE ONES WHO ARE TRYING TO KILL ME!!!!”

His voice is a psychic gale that send black waves of weakness through the entire band, and as his anger presses against the fabric of the chamber's reality, so three blobs of winking, bloody light appear; motes of unstable death energy drawn from the Path of Shadows – the source of the rushing psychic breeze.

“I CANNOT DIE MORTALS, BUT YOU, I CAN STOP YOU FROM ENTERING THE PATH AND MAKE SURE YOU ARE NOT ONLY DEAD, BUT ANNIHILATED!! YOU AND ALL THE CHILDREN OF THE MOUNTAIN WILL RUE THE DAY YOU SOUGHT MY DOOM!”

And with that, he and his undead companion attacks.

Arrival +13 days, 6 hours, 01 minutes - +13 days, 6 hours, 06 minutes – It is a battle that no one in the party truly expects to survive, for both the undead are terrible opponents.

The zombie is a simple brute, who's attacks are capable of opening anyone in the party up to their viscera with a single blow. It emanates a deathly shroud of negative energy that rots the living flesh of anyone within twenty paces of him, and stops them receiving any healing as long as they remain there.

He is taken down under the combined fury of the warriors, who quickly surround him and chop him down like a vast, roaring tree, as well as the spells that the drakven and priest hurl over their heads, blasting and burning its head away, charring its defunct lungs and liver to ash and bitter smoke. However even after its second death, the shambling thing proves a potent foe, for to the group's surprise it reanimates from its own apparent demise to strike at them; stumbling clumsily to its feet a few moments after falling – a headless nightmare bearing a sweeping, dismembering axe with deadly effect. Momentarily taken by surprise, the horror manages to land several crippling blows against the party before it is blasted back to the floor, where finally, it remains.

Ganulf is by far the deadlier foe in the chamber, for he not only wields the Sender, but calls upon vile magics that rot both the living bodies of the group and their soul's strength, leaving them drained of vitality and less able to take the constant harm being meted out to them. He screams and bellows, sweeping his deadly maul from the near impunity of his ossified perch, and it takes teamwork and ingenuity to strike at him; the Nordvyrr giving a charging Emmiven a “leg up”, allowing him to catapult upwards and strike at the horrors armoured legs. His hammer strikes with unerring strength, and Ganulf screams his deafening rage as he receives his first wound.

Throughout the battle, the dimensional distortions summoned by Ganulf's rage randomly drift across the chamber. Now and then, they shimmer and grow briefly unstable, allowing deadly influxes of death energy to sweep through the chamber – corroding the flesh and will of the group when they make contact, and mantling the undead in snarling layers of armouring darkness.

Seeing that the elevated position that Ganulf has taken is making him almost impossible to hit, the swordmage and Mord Bit repeatedly shove the hulking cadaver of the slain zombie towards it; a ramp of ex-animate undead flesh. However, no sooner has this been done than Ganulf hurls another barrage of boiling black and blood red bolts, two of which strike the shapeshifter, almost killing him, and one of which rips into the drakven.

The air above the unholy Senior boils with blinding light, and a streaking meteorite of radiant fire suddenly appears and blasts into the hulking undead as Seren responds to her wounds. The glassy ball of energy envelops Ganulf, and the lifeborn radiance simply evaporates flesh where it touches, spilling across the pedestal and wreathing it in ghostly flame.

The air around Ganulf folds suddenly, and he vanishes, reappearing almost fifty paces away, atop another of the bone platforms. His laughter is manic, and the group roar in anger as their prey escapes.

“FOOLISH MORTAL FILTH. HOW DARE YOU PRESUME TO STRIKE ME IN THIS PLACE OF HOLY POWER. DEATH IS A LUXURY NONE OF YOU SHALL ENJOY, FOR I GIVE YOU OBLITERATION!”

These are the last words Ganulf will speak.

Realising that unless they can gain control of this situation quickly, they are worse than dead, the group quickly move to negate his advantage. Strangely aware once more of the ways of magic, Emmiven surmises that the bones are inlaid with runes that allow the monster to teleport, “We need to get him off them and down here.”, and the party quickly form a strategy.

Grigori summons a healing circle, who's golden light rises like sunlit smoke from the floor; mending the flesh and bones of his allies, and potentially, searing the flesh and unholy darkness of Ganulf if he can be dropped within it. Seren conjures a shimmering field of rainbow lights which form a dazzling zone of confusing colours, and Jaeger summons his shadowy power and with a low growl, hurls it at Ganulf. The dark magic becomes a twisting web of shadows, which engulf the undead warrior. Seeing that he has the fiend trapped, the assassin pulls his magic tightly and warps space around his foe, dragging him bodily from the podium, depositing him – dazed and reeling – within Grigori and Seren's zones of destructive magic.

Everyone piles in.

Despite the unholy shadows that pour from the undead monster, dampening the parties ability to heal from harm and rotting their mortal bodies with its polluted radiance, the group's vengeance is a force far more potent than any single spell or weapon. Ganulf is an impossibly deadly foe, and for many would be overwhelming, but against this unified front of focused, elite adventurer's, he is helpless, and in the blink of an eye, he is smashed to a vast, bloody pulp; a mangled, twitching bulk of shadowy shorting magics and glubbing breaths, continually seared and rendered vulnerable by the magics that seethe and boil from the ground and air around him.

“NO! NO! THIS. CANNOT. BEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!”

His screams grow more desperate and horrific as he feels his body being torn apart. Seren drops another ball of glassy fire directly onto his prone form, exposing his crumbling ribs as it dissolves the flesh on his back, his desiccated, smoking entrails visible between them. Ganulf tries to rise, but the gnawing radiance summoned by the cleric around him has corroded his arms away, as well as all the flesh and substance on the front of his body, and all he can do is thrash helplessly in the devouring light, his screams becoming weaker and weaker. The roar of the unnatural energies tearing through the chamber towards the rotting menhir grow commensurably stronger as Ganulf energies fade, the decayed stones resonating with an increasing song of tortured magics and vile power...

...And then...

Emmiven's eyes go wide, and suddenly a malevolence that stifles that of the stricken undead flows from him. All eyes turn to regard him, and grow wide as they see the warlord as little more than a shadow, eclipsed by the hulking silhouette of a rotting, robed figure. When he speaks, it is Jantherak's rotting voice that comes from his mouth.

On your guard fools, he is not done yet. One of you must die to drag his soul into the Path of Shadows. The stones are singing! It's now or never!

Numb with the cumulative horror of this battle, Schnecke manages to gasp, “What does that even mean?”

“It means,” starts Grigori in a hushed voice, “that someone must be forever killed in order to see Ganulf slain, it means that...”

He never gets to finish his thoughts, for without missing a beat Ulframm, motivated by his honour and his love for his people, strides over to the body of the gorgom Senior (which he can see is fighting to repair itself within the crackling field of relucent magics) draws the Neck Cutter, and without a single word slits his own throat to the spine.

And know this. One of you must walk a path darker than the rest, and their soul shall be the price of your salvation.”

As the group watch the Nordvyrr die in horror, the words of the Shaman ring in their minds. Ulframm drops over the gorgom's corpse, and Mord Bit howls in misery as he sees his master and life long friend die. The roaring of the spectral wind increases, the song of the menhir an eerie keening that fills the air. The air temperature suddenly drops, and two ghostly figures suddenly appear above the heaped bodies of the gorgom and Nordvyrr.

It is Ulframm and Ganulf. The spectres are locked in silent mortal battle, the former trying to heave the latter towards the stones. For a moment it looks as if Ulframm's sacrifice will be without meaning, as the gorgom – in death reduced to the size of the barbarian – almost breaks free of his grip. However, in life Ulframm was a champion wrestler, and in death his powers are no longer governed by mere flesh, muscle and blood. Drawing on his rage and love, the Nordvyrr curls his thumbs into the Senior's eyes, sinking them up to his knuckles, and all at once, the two ghosts are caught in the currents of the Path of Shadows, and are swept away...

...To Hell...

Arrival +13 days, 6 hours, 08 minutes - +13 days, 6 hours, 09 minutes – The nightmare song of the Menhir Stones fills the chamber. The spectral wind of the Path of Shadows shrieks through the chamber, and above the group's heads, the massive heart begins to beat erratically and madly. The room shakes with convulsions, and the huge arteries that cross the floor strain under the pressure of the blood being forced through them.

“The Blood!” Screams Grigori, “We need to drink the blood!”

“But it will kill us!” Replies Seren.

Foolish drake-kin! Bellows Jantherak, his might amplified by the spectral energies screaming through the chamber, and the soul of Emmiven (now given to him, the vial mystically transported into his custody after the dark one's argument with Grigori out on the mountainside) Maybe this will help you all decide!

Faster than anyone thought possible, the warlord draws his thundering spear and slashes it across the heaving blood vessel that snakes across the floor. At once, the pounding pressure of the blood within it forces a massive blast of the thick, toxic stuff outwards, and the slice ruptures, the entire artery ripping open in a smothering wave of pressurized death. The entire chamber shakes violently, and the massive heart goes into a mad frenzy, blurring as it becomes dangerously tachycardic. Everyone is thrown to the floor, panic clawing with dizzying fingers at their thoughts, though the thick slime of Jantherak's voice is a constant presence.

There, the choice is easy. Drown in the stuff, or die quickly and imbibe its toxins!”

Despite knowing that they are now going to die, with no way of escape, everyone resists the urge to do what they know they must. Some inner resistance to the idea of surrendering to death stays their hands, even as the warm coppery fluid rises to their thighs, stickily forcing its way into their armour and clothes, smothering them with its burning, poisoned caress.

Of course, once you perish, you will be drawn into the Path of Shadows, in truth, a trans-dimensional current which stretches through the psychic plane and leads to a dizzying number of other realities, most of which you would not enjoy.
Serve me, and aid my return, and I shall tether your souls to the part of me here, and ensure your safe return to your own world. Spurn me, and you can find your own way – an impossible task.”

“I'll come with you.” Gasps Seren, wading through the thick gore to stand by the shadowed warlord.

“YOU TREACHEROUS FUCKING HALF-BREED!” Screams Jaeger. “FUCK YOU JANTHERAK, I'LL TAKE MY CHANCES. AND WHEN I GET HOME, I AM COMING FOR YOU ALL!”

Dark laughter from the arch-necromancer's echo.

Anyone else coming, or are the rest of you similarly determined to spend a cold eternity lost in the void?”

The blood is up to their chests now, and Mord Bit is yipping piteously, panicking as it struggles to stay afloat in the rising gore. No one says anything, but their hate filled glares speak volumes.

So be it then. Farewell fools!”

Emmiven and Seren bend over and allow the poison to surge into their throats. A moment later, and the spectral form envelops them both in the folds of its tenebrous cloak, and they vanish.

BASTARDS!” Screams Schnecke, his beard thick with the blood.

What do we do?” Screams Varracuda.

This.” Replies Grigori quietly, before scooping the deadly blood into his mouth and perishing.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Post War Natives - Session Report 12/7/2011

Arrival +13 days, 4 hours, 48 minutes – +13 days, 5 hours, 15 minutes – Grigori and Emmiven work in tandem on the wolf; the former pouring golden energy into him, restoring flesh and bone, the latter urging him to waken. Down here, in the bitter unnatural cold, surrounded by shadows and the stink of the slain dracani, hope is in short supply. However, after what seems like a small eternity, the huge beasts breathing grows deep and strong, and its angular tawny eyes slowly open. Then, with a low growl, Mord Bit leaps to his feet, before bowling over the slight cleric with a massive pair of paws and a slobbering tongue.

Ulframm is simply speechless with joy, and knocks both Grigori and Mord Bit to the scaled flank of the slain monster with a crushing bear hug.

Arrival +13 days, 5 hours, 16 minutes - +13 days, 5 hours, 50 minutes – Still stiff, dizzy and weak from their trials, the group take a moment to centre themselves before scaling the slippery cliff that leads back up to the ledge. Limbs burning, heads spinning, they eventually scrabble back onto the black ice above, and allow themselves a few moments to let the pain of their weary ascent pass. Then Jaeger takes the mummified eyeball given to them by the Nordvyrr ghost, and holds it before his own eyes. To his shock, he is able to see through the wretched orb as if it were a telescope, though the world it reveals is a place of shifting shadows, where there is no real darkness, only gradients of glowing gloom. Scanning the way ahead he groans a little, for the eye reveals that a wide path runs behind the waterfall, clearly obscured by a powerful illusion. And it is next to that path, directly behind the fuming fall of deadly clutching water, that he spies the way into the mountain; a massive pair of black stone doors, carved along each side with complex glyphs of alien origin. Joining these are tangled lines of magical conduits, and although he cannot fathom out how, the assassin realises that there is some trick to opening the door safely.

One by one the group peer through the eyeball, and soon Grigori, Seren, Varracuda and Jaeger are discussing how they feel the door could be safely opened. The assassin states that some of the runes seem to be variants of glyphs he has encountered before when hunting mages; glyphs designed to unleash a temporary but deadly distortion of the local planar fabric. Grigori tries to divine some pattern to the way the runes and lines flow by putting himself in the mindset of the creatures that created it, whilst Seren and Varracuda draw on their respective understandings of magic to try and decipher how they were laid down. However, with all their input they are still unsure as to how to open the door – that is until help comes from a very unexpected direction.

Emmiven, silent until this point, suddenly moves forwards, his steps oddly invigorated for one who has been so much. Eyes bright and dark, he offers some insights into how the lines are aligned, and impossibly, his analysis proves to be not only true, but the key to solving the mystery.

...No one, in their exhausted state thinks to question how a warrior could know so much about this ancient and alien magic...

After a while, they agree that the runes on the right hand side of the door must be awoken from top to bottom. This they feel, is done by activating the rune on the left hand side that is linked to each through one of the tangled conduits. This of course means that they then have to carefully trace each conduit through its contorted path from its source glyph to its destination one – a task made difficult by the weird light of the world the eye sees into, and by the sheer weariness that presses like a cold vice on each adventurer's mind. However, eventually, they feel they have worked it out, which means that they now only have to activate the runes. Unfortunately, as far as they can tell, the only way to awaken a rune is to channel arcane energy into it, and with most of them being very high up, the only one who can try this is Seren. This means that one of the groups most fragile member (although how anyone can refer to the 7' tall, quarter ton draconic humanoid as “fragile” is a mystery to most) must bare the brunt of any mistakes made – though she will be accompanied by Ulframm.

And so, with the cold vapours of the fall whipping around them, and spying through the eyeball for reference between each casting, the drakven throws her spells at the runes in the order prescribed by her and her allies calculations. Alas, forced to work almost blind, with only the gaze before the act of spell casting to guide her aim, the sorceress misses the appropriate runes twice, and each time is rewarded with agony and injury as the entire area in front of the gates is briefly plunged into dimensional chaos; the very air igniting with every kind of energy imaginable for a split second, freezing, blasting, warping and ripping the scales in chunks from her flesh, and leaving poor Ulframm bleeding heavily from several deep lacerations and burns. Luckily though, on her third attempt, the sorceress gets it right, and her spells ignite the runes in perfect order, the air resonating with the power awoken in the vast portal.

As her last spell strikes home, so the illusion masking the door and the ledge is washed away, and all can see the dazzling lights of the glyphs as they awaken with the magic forced into them. For a moment it seems as if the only thing that is going to happen is this luminous display of harnessed power, at least until the massive portal, with a crack like lightning, begins to swing open with ponderous inertia, the groan and roar of its movement and the rush of air as it swings wide, enough to send the nearer adventurers back on their heels.

Brilliant blue-white light strobes from within, throwing eerie rainbows through the plummeting fall of frozen vapours, and steam dances like wraiths in the doorway as the warmer air from inside freezes in the utter cold of this barren world. Gathering their strength, the party move towards the doorway and into the corridor beyond.

Arrival +13 days, 5 hours, 51 minutes - +13 days, 6 hours, 00 minutes – Beyond the vast portal is a huge corridor, almost 60' across and three times as long, who's vaulted ceiling arches some 80' above. It is carved from the rock of the mountain, and every inch of it is decorated with gorgom runes of vast size. Approximately 45' from the entrance to the corridor rises an incredible structure; a vast portal of dancing white and blue light, stretched between the talons of two full-sized dracani skeletons, each posed to look as if they are holding the gateway's disc. A wide stairway of dull stone reaches 30' up from the floor to the lower edge of the portal; a convenient access point to the gate – or from it. The portal is clearly active, and every now and then a lazy arm of radiant energy reaches from it and rolls over the skeletons in a liquid caress, the air spitting as it is agitated by the potent planar disruption.

Swallowing hard, Ulframm points at the portal and says “So, this must be the door that leads to the Altar within the Gorgom high temple. I guess we are almost at our goal, and...” he stops, his voice seeming to catch somewhere in his throat, “where we find out what the shaman's prophecy means.”

The portal flares suddenly, the corridor drowned in a burst of harsh white light, and the ground begins to shake. Agitated feelers of magical disruption play around the edge of the portal, their snap and hiss bloodless in the cold air of the corridor. And then something emerges from the disc of light; something so huge that the party almost find it impossible to accept how it can move and act with such speed and focus – a vast humanoid, clad in dark chain armour, its huge head armoured by a spectacled helm, an axe of impossible dimensions clutched in its hands. It is bearded, the pale white hair bound into elaborate plaits, and over its armour it wears the skins of vast mountain bears, stitched together as a barrier against the cold.

A gorgom!” Yells Ulframm, hefting his axe, “By the old ones, a gorgom!”

The entire group spend a moment rooted to the spot, watching the terrible, inexorable advance of the gigantic humanoid, and the horrific momentum that its vast weapon picks up as it swings forth. Then a second figure emerges from the portal – another titanic warrior – and the spell is broken. Weapons are raised in defence and offence, and magics is called upon as they prepare to face the oncoming juggernaut.

It is Ulframm who first clashes with the leading monster, the Neck Cutter slicing in a silver arc towards the leg of the lead gorgom. Unfortunately, even that blade's razor edge is unable to do much more than dent the thick rings of mail that protect the deadly brute, and the Nordvyrr suddenly finds himself hurtling backwards, his own armour almost laid open to the flesh by the scything edge of the gigantic axe.

A third gorgom, every bit as huge as the first two, but bearing a massive mace in one hand, a rimed scimitar the size of a small ship in the other, emerges from the dazzling surface of the portal, the sword raised in a the air, a wordless roar of fury escaping it as it summons spectral light and bathes himself in its glow. The second gorgom to emerge from the portal gives a strangled scream, and seems to become somehow even more huge. His flesh, previously pale blue-white as if frostbitten, flushes an ugly blotchy purple, and his eyes boggle, suddenly bulging with veins. Bloody foam froths from his mouth, and his thunderous voice becomes a painful screech as he allows a berserk rage to overwhelm him, and with his huge axe raised charges...

...Only to meet the warlord in a catastrophic impact. Emmiven seeing the gorgom berserk charging the still tightly packed group gives his own battle cry – feeble and almost unheard in the face of the monster's deafening voice – and runs to meet him, his hammer shimmering with power as he surges forth. The shapeshifter does not even reach the massive monsters knee, but his weapon, forged of magically dense metals and enchanted to smite even the largest foe, strikes with terrible force, blasting the gorgom to its knees with a deafening howl. The entire chamber shakes as many tons of gorgom hits the ground, its own blade screaming off the warlord's armour – though there is enough force behind the blow to send him sprawling, and lay his shoulder open to the bone.

Grigori's voice rises above the tumult of the battle, somehow heard by all, and a golden light surrounds him. Feelers of restorative magic flicker from him and lightly touch the warlord, immediately mending his ravaged flesh. With this done, the priest utters a word of divine power, which smites the berserk that struck the warlord, sending it reeling, its defences lowered temporarily. Schnecke gives into his rage, and flies at the nearest berserk, his flaming axe melting and blasting links of armour, whilst magic crackles and flashes from the sorceresses staff and from the blades of the swordmage, and poisoned bolts snicker from the assassin's delicate crossbow, the venom surging with terrible force through the colossal monsters.

Quite quickly the battle settles into a deadly rhythm; the gorgom strike hard, leaving terrible spurting wounds and weeping contusions in their wake, Grigori summons incredible amounts of healing magic, erasing or reducing the lethality of the blows, and the rest of the group unleash their attacks upon the foes that smote them. First to go down is the first berserk that emerged from the portal, his thick skull chopped and leaking pink and orange tissue from a multitude of strikes, his flesh burned and tortured from the flaming strikes of the barbarian and swordmage, the chewing magics of the drakven, the searing poisons of the assassin and the unrelenting pounding of the warlord's hammer and the Nordvyrr's sword. Slumping down, the floor ankle deep in his gore, the monsters' corpse forms a barrier that the group use for cover against their other foes.

The dual-weapon wielding gorgom is the next to go down, unable to keep all the group from him at once. He manages at one point to almost kill Ulframm, his mace crushing the Nordvyrr's head so seriously that shards of bone punch through his scalp, and he is thrown across the corridor, where he crumples against the wall, blood pouring from his ears and nose, his breath bubbling in his crushed chest. Fotunately for him, Ulframm is saved by the priest, and the monster is cut down in short order, its howls of rage and agony leaving everyone's ears ringing.

By now the group's initial fervour is once more fading under the weight of their continued efforts and extended privations, and the last enemy is still stubbornly attacking, its axe leaving red ruin in its wake. However, it is Schnecke who concludes the battle; raising his axe into a high guard position and emitting a piercing battle cry as he charges, heedless of the monstrous axe that sweeps out to meet him (missing and gouging a huge divot in the stone of the stairs leading to the portal) and lands a horrific blow on the brute's shin. The searing razor of the axe snips through the armour guarding the gorgoms shin, and kerfs a neat, agonising wound into the bone, sending the berserk hopping back in shock - straight into the portal, which swallows it with desiccated boom of warping magics...

Urrm, did you mean to do that?” Asks Emmiven, struggling to his feet after being knocked back again.

Let's get in there and kill everything.” comes the snarled reply...

Monday, 18 July 2011

Ormid Et Al - Session Report 14/7/2011

02:41- 02:56 -Beyond the wall is a vast chamber of dully polished Durium. Almost 40' across and two and a half times as long, it is not empty. At the right hand end of the room, loom a massive set of double doors covered in corrupted angelic glyphs. They stand shut, though it is from beyond them that the group can feel the distant throbbing of whatever magical alarm currently sounds.

At the left hand end of the chamber loom three huge golems; two massive humanoids of mithril, and a third of iron. Ormid immediately recognises them as incredibly dangerous constructs, possibly beyond even this troupe's ability to cleanly defeat. Behind them are a pair of huge double doors, covered in more corrupted angelic glyphs.

Holy masters!” Spits the paladin, “those sigils are the purest blasphemy, perfect for containing an angelic being. I feel we are now very close to our goal.”

What are the circles?” Asks Shadevia, pointing at the ground around the golem's feet where three semicircles are carved into the metal, encompassing the three constructs as well as the double doors.

Hmmm, I think I might need to have a better look.” Replies Ormid, adjusting his spectacles with his massive artifice arm and shuffling over towards them.

Llewellyn hugs the edge of the room, almost vanishing into the darkness that pools there, whilst Ardwaine and Zaruel keep an eye on the doors at the opposite end of the chamber, ready to sound the alarm if trouble arrives. Getting on his hands and knees, the artificer considers the carvings, whilst the shadeling watches over his shoulders.

can you see those carvings under the obvious surface of the channel?” She asks, drawing an annoyed glare from Ormid.

Well, of course...I....err...have. They appear to be warding sigils that bind several different layers of magic into this area. Give me a moment, and I shall try to sense where the magics lead.”

Entirely aware that the artificer had not seen the symbols at all, Shadevia merely nods her assent, and steps away from him to give him room to think. Giving himself a moment to clear his thoughts and seek inner focus, Ormid once more shifts his awareness and analyses the weave of the areas' magics. After a short moment he blinks owlishly, and reports that the golems are magically tied to both sets of doors, as well as to the circles. Llewellyn trots over, and peers at the symbols worked into the circles, stating after a few moments that they are rigged with “Blocker Traps” - spells that summon invulnerable, invisible walls of force when tripped.

The idea is that if you wander over the lines, or screw up opening the doors, or even try to destroy the golems, that you get cut off from your allies, and worse, are stuck within smashing reach of one of these ugly fella's. Simple concept, but bloody nasty if you are the one stuck inside.”

A series of dull thumps gong from the doors at the opposite end of the chamber, resonating like a death knell through the gloom.

We need to move on quickly.” Growls Zaruel, “There are definitely enemies approaching.”

Fine! Fine!” Snaps Ormid, looking towards both the shadeling and the rogue for help. “Shall we then?”

Ardwaine moves to assist the three adventurer's, and slowly but surely the four of them pick through the powerful warding circle, delicately unravelling its internal spells, as well as those magics linked to the deadly, inert constructs, and after a short while the group sense the sudden end of a subtle vibration that they were not even consciously registering, its presence only felt in its absence.

There, danger gone!” Laughs the dundorin, stumbling slowly to her feet.

Err, not quite.” replies the vyrleen, who has skipped up to the doors, casting his eyes over their carved surface. “There is a pretty unpleasant trap on here too that could still activate the golems, and unless I am mistaken, summon more enemies.”

Well get rid of it and get it open.” Hisses Zaruel, his normal composure suddenly slipping, his face rigid with sudden anxiety, “Our window of opportunity is rapidly closing.”

02:57 – 03:03 - In truth the door's wards are far simpler than those worked into the circles, and the rogue and artificer are able to quickly disable them. As they do this, so whatever spells are keeping the doors closed are undone, and with a ghastly pulse of corrupted silvery light, the glyphs that spider over its surface pulse to life and the vast halves grind open revealing a large chamber of durium and cold iron beyond, every inch of which is covered with more corrupted angelic binding glyphs and foul symbols of infernal magic, all of which seem to link to a huge, impossibly complex series of circles carved in silvery light in the middle of the room. Within this circle, wings spread out like a cloak, rests an angel; a being every bit as beautiful and terrible as Zanoriel. Around the edge of the chamber, almost lost in the painful arrays of runes glow another five smaller circles, each blazing with light.

03:04 – 03:05 - As soon as the group enter the chamber, the angel – Mishazael – looks up, his eyes the colour of mercury. After a moment, he begins to shake his head, the light he emits increasing until it is almost blinding. As he does this, he mutters to himself, his voice painful in its pain, pure and beautiful as the primal light.

“No! No. Just more illusions sent to test me. I do not believe that...”

Zaruel cuts him short, his voice grim, his face a mask of cold rage. His blade is drawn and he moves with deadly purpose towards the trapped angel.

“Mishazael Annar'Vaethri Zaal'Anar, I am Zaruel, chosen executioner of the Bond Eternal, sent to free you from the shame of your crimes, and to take your essence back to the high choir for imprisonment and eternal tormentation.”

Mishazael looks shocked, then horrified. Ormid also jerks as if struck, and begins to move forwards – though the Veteran grabs his arm and grimly shakes his head.

Mishazael stands, the light around him burning with cold effulgence. “NO! No, you misunderstand me brother Zaruel, I was no traitor. I was bound, bound by the very spells you see here still, forced to...”

“YOU ALLOWED YOURSELF TO BE CAPTURED RATHER THAN FACE DISSOLUTION, AND THROUGH YOUR COWARDICE HAVE GIVEN THE ENEMY THE WAYS TO SPREAD THEIR MISERY INTO A MULTITUDE OF WORLDS. YOU ARE A MASS MURDERER MISHAZAEL, AND I AM HE WHO IS SENT TO END YOU!”

By now Zaruel is at the edge of the angel's binding circle. Magic is crawling over him in argent curls, rising from him like glowing smoke, and as the angel starts to comprehend the deep trouble it is in, he inverts his holy sword, and begins to chant. Fiery runes of angelic magic blaze on its blade, and the group can see that the words he says apparently strie Mishazael like heated knives.

However, their attention is suddenly torn away from the horrible spectacle, for the five lesser circles blaze into life, and at once dark forms manifest – one of them the deformed nightmare spotted briefly on the surface – Amued Zor, daemonhost and captain of the Chained Syndicate.

“STOP HIM!” Amued roars, “END HIM AND THE OTHERS BEFORE THEY CAN WEAKEN THE TRAITOR ANGEL!”

The other shapes are Chained Syndicate soldiers; genasai of air, fire, acid and earth, and at once everyone surges forth, most of them heading towards Zaruel.

“Keep. Them. Off. Meeeeee.” He growls, “Unless, you wish to face an angel in its full fury.”

“NOOOOOOOO!” Howls Mishazael, “AMUED HELP! HEAVEN HAS SENT AN EXECUTIONER! I AM NO GOOD TO YOU ANNIHILATED! STOP HIIIIIIIM”

...and the battle begins.