...A vast space, alive with impossible colours and a maddening kaleidoscope of images, sounds and textured radiance appears before the group. Beneath their feet is stone, though it is daubed with runes and symbols pregnant with elder power and reason crushing meaning. The stone only extends so far, a vast pit of boiling madness falling away into impossible depths beyond its limits, and the group realise that a similar mass of stone hovers in the distance on the “other side” of the the pit. And floating above the middle of the pit is something that none can bear to look at for more than a moment; a fragment of madness made manifest – a vaporous, tentacled, pulsing, roiling, shrieking, shuddering, awful, beautiful, amazing mass of non-colours, warped images and sanity breaking angles that screams with a deafening choir of voices within each adventurer's mind.
“NYE'DDETH! NYE'DDETH! NYE'DDETH!”
It floats above another figure, who stands rigid, eyes closed, within a circle of glowing orange, liquid glyphs. He is a Lir'Aelwyn – slender, tall and even in this place of raw insanity, supernaturally beautiful. His robes are those of an Imbuer, and all realise that he is currently at the heart of some terrible ritual. The figure is motionless, though the air around it veritably boils with monstrous eldritch power, and the group quickly spot that he holds something in a vice like grip – something metallic that seems to writhe like a agitated slug...something that seems familiar to Ormid and the Warforged...
It takes most of the party a few moments to realise that they are missing one of their number – and Llewellyn is the first to spot poor Ormid, alone and confused on the far away mass of stone. Communication with him is impossible over the deafening voices in their heads and the cacophony of sounds that boom through the turbulent substance of this place.
The thing in the air – this Nye'ddeth – at first seems not to notice the arrival of the group, and instead stays floating above the Aelwyn; a sickening haze of chaotic power. However, with a jerky, almost reflexive lurch, it swoops in towards the main group, suddenly shimmering with impossible energies.
The voice is warped and garbled, its pain and fear crystal clear, and it is coming from the Aelwyn.
“Lets deal with this.” Snarls Llewellyn, bringing his heavy mace before him, and throwing himself towards the pit, the bizarre entity moving, extending fractal tentacles and shimmering mists, to meet him. The mace actually mewls as it makes contact with the entity, and a nightmarish scream, composed of a million other voices echoes through everyone's minds as it strikes with particular force, sending fractures of distorted light crackling through the horror's form. Ducking beneath the monster's mass, the vyrleen slashes upwards with a second attack, only catching it a glancing blow.
With a bellow, the Veteran also charges, every system within him alive with battle lust, his axe arcing out to cleave into the boiling morass of pure insanity. His blade hits something, and Nye'ddeth emits another scream of agony as a flaming wound briefly appears in its substance. However, it then retaliates; its form becoming smoky and thorned, a concentrated blast of mental energy lashing out towards the Veteran, infusing his mind with raw insanity. The Veteran arcs backwards in pain, a halo of psychic energy flickering like translucent flame around his head, his mind so ravaged that a portion of his fighting knowledge is lost, and for the first time ever he screams – an atonal, bloodless sound that the mental voices immediately begin to mock and mimic, adding to the terrible, confusing sonic morass that fills the place.
A black arrow bites into Nye'ddeth, vanishing into its form, and once again, the alien thing emits a mind shredding wail.
“Nothing this horrible could be real.” Whispers Llewellyn, tears burning down his cheeks, though he lacks the will to try and disbelieve it, in case it does not fade and proves, indeed, to be real.
A second arrow, crawling with primal energy arcs from Shadevia's bow, striking the alien thing. At once a network of spines erupt from it, as the energies render it vulnerable to further harm for a short time.
Orimd, his heart beating too fast, his bowels turning to liquid has to think fast. Moving to the edge of the platform, he peers into the flickering, dancing, dizzying maelstrom of the pit, and realises that he must somehow get to his allies. Closing his eyes, he calls upon his magic to activate a device he has built, a bridge manifesting over the pit linking the two sides. Normally, it would be a thing of black metal – all well engineered lines and mathematically calculated angles. However, caught in the winds of probability that gust from the pit, it warps and twists, and to the artificer's horror is seemingly made from mummified dogs who emit an overpowering scent of toast and honey. Fighting his rising gorge, he moves onto the bridge, looking ahead, steadfastly ignoring the infinite chaos beneath him.
“By the Goddess,” Snarls Vladislav, a line of drool slipping from his lips, “you are too ugly to exist!” He closes his eyes as he summons a burning mantle of lightning and flame around himself, before screaming a potent incantation, summoning a huge hand-like structure made of raw force. Fired forth on the wings of his will, the hand slams into Nye'ddeth and tries to crush it. Alas, the chaotic energies of the thing are stronger than the Heldazzler's spell, and the hand corrodes into whirls of harmless light where they touch it.
“You are fucking kidding me!”
Halfway across his bridge, Ormid is close enough to the writhing glyphs surrounding the aelwyn that he can examine them. It's painful work, for they represent a fundamental violation of this universes laws, and at first they make no sense to him. However, the part of his mind that has been damaged by his travels through the tower – the part that has seen him snapping at his allies and distracting them as much as the voices in all their minds have – recognises what they are and what they are for. With a sick wave of cold sweat, Ormid realises that the glyphs are meant to serve as a conduit for this Nye'ddeth, in order to allow it to possess a mortal form. He realises that Nye'ddeth is not a lifeform in the true sense of the word, but a sentient fragment of Xixior - the dimension of madness - and realises that it would take a powerful body, already used to holding and shaping incredible magical and potential energies to contain such a force without immediately disintegrating or mutating beyond use.
He also recognises the thing that the Aelwyn grips – having seen it depicted in the carvings on the seal he and the Veteran found in their first travels together, back in Laertraine's ruins, in the shattered Xixian temple.
“Oh gods no.” He breathes, his head pounding with a splitting headache.
The Veteran finds himself violated, his mind suddenly overwhelmed with horrifying and at the same time, alluring images of death and torment, as a dripping, foaming, smoky tendril of Nye'ddeth's substance flickers out towards him and slides through his armour. Distracted, he lashes out with a heavy blow, but fails to connect with anything solid. Dizzy and shivering, struggling to fight at anything other than a basic level, he calls upon his might, and manages to savagely tear his blade into the monster's anarchic material, a peal of beautiful music incongruously blaring from the wound.
Seeing that the warforged has made an opening for him, the vyrleen cartwheels towards it, and lashes upwards, his adamantium weapon striking with incredible force at a spot currently vulnerable to harm. A million voices roar, sing, croak, scream, chant, choke and snarl in pain and joy at the blow, and a maddening bust of light and tactile hallucinations erupt from the planar entity as it reels from the strike. Chaotic power sparks and smokes from the wound, further weakening Nye'ddeth, and realising that he is in a perfect position to visit real harm to it, Llewellyn hits it again, scoring another burning hit, before leaping backwards, avoiding the things swishing tentacles, to stand by the artificer on his madness warped bridge.
More arrows slice into the thing, vanishing with bursts of colourless light into its writhing depths, and with a rumbling mewl, Nye'ddeth attacks.
Another horrific blast of mind dissolving power erupts from it and envelops the warforged, ripping into both his psychic and physical being, a burst of haemolymph spraying across the area as his mind is devolved even more. The dimensional thing then shifts a little, before vomiting forth a ripping wave of distilled nightmares; a burst of shifting, boiling, hissing power, which envelops Llewellyn, the Veteran and Ormid. All three adventurers are stunned by the abhorrent, terrifying images that overwhelm them, real wounds appearing on them in response to imagined attacks.
Ormid is no longer able to maintain its magic, and the bridge that keeps him and the rogue from falling into the pit vanishes, dropping both into the embrace of the raw madness below.
No longer threatened by the fighter, and eager to end the threat of the party, Nye'ddeth drifts towards Vladislav and Shadevia, who both back away from it, finding themselves suddenly backed against a wall of solid chaos.
Desperately, Shadevia fires off more shots, which allows Nye'ddeth to strike her with a reflexively flicked tendril of itself, her mind collapsing briefly under its assault. Blood runs freely from her nose as the mental assault takes its physical toll, and she too struggles over the screaming voices in her head, the half glimpsed phantasms that flicker around her, and the growing sense of isolation and fear within her, to fight with any skill or tactics. Despite her wounds, her arrow bites into the horror, and it howls again, a gale of coloured agony shifting from its chaotic form.
The Helldazzler has a similar experience as one of the Nye'ddeth's tentacles swipe across his face, dissolving through his mask and filling his mind with coiling horror. Gasping in agony, he falls back against the “wall”, and swipes ineffectively at his foe with a suddenly appearing axe of screaming, chaotic energies.
Across the way, the Veteran struggles to break above the surface of the ocean of nightmare in which he drowns, and, buoyed by his artifice body and his sheer bloody mindedness, he manages to shatter the hold the visions have over him, and whirs to life, a reddish glow returning to his eyes. Immediately realising the sheer hopelessness of the situation he raises his blade, looking around desperately for Ormid and Llewellyn, and realising that they are gone. Fury fills his mind as he sees their absence, and with a roar, he charges.
A sanity dissolving tendril brushes against him as he moves not towards, but away from Nye'ddeth, and he almost stumbles as the wave of psychic pain crawls through him. However, he fights through it, gaining momentum as he runs towards the pit. With a bellow, he throws himself into the void, aiming his bulk towards the ring of glyphs and the aelwyn. For a terrible moment, he fears he will not make it. However, he sails over the circle of glyphs (a horrific sensation of being embraced overwhelming him as he does), and lands in a crouch next to the screaming Imbuer.
Up close, the agony etched on the aelwyn's face is almost too much to bear. His screams are agonisingly loud, and tear at the warforged's mind like cracked fingernails. Dizzy with amazement at his continued existence, the Veteran considers a number of plans. However, his eyes focus on the thing that pulses and writhes in the aelwyn's grasp, and with a nod he knows what to do.
Blazing with arcane fire, the axe blade passes easily through the fragile bones of the Imbuer's wrists, the hands and artefact falling in a shower of thin blood to the floor. The colour drains from the Imbuer's face, and his screams take on a more natural timbre.
For a moment, the Veteran thinks he has managed to win the day.
He could not be more wrong.
A moment later, and the aelwyn has vanished. The glyphs pulse with chaotic power and the warforged immediately feels a colossal force gripping him; entering his mind and controlling him like a puppet. Violated almost beyond his capacity to compute, he is helpless to prevent himself being swept away on a wave of madness, and held rigid within the circle, the Xixian artefact now held in his own painfully gripping hands, his essence suddenly under attack by the deadly glyphs that surround him.
“HEEEELPL MEEEEEEEEEEE!” He screams, but in the distance only Vladislav and Shadevia can hear him, and they are too busy fighting to survive against Nye'ddeth to do anything about it.