The look of hope and expectation faded from Ulthok’s face as it became evident the stand wasn’t the hiding place of the real sword. “Oh well, nothing ventured, nothing gained..... As old Uncle Trapspring would say “There is nothing quite as dull as bright idea that doesn’t shine.”
The Halfling then turned to survey the scene and drew a deep sigh at the sight of the losses the party suffered. Three of the party were lost and two others had been turned against them. Now the Elven Enchantress seemed quite stressed from the ordeal and was challenging the naked warrior that had lead the charge to save Althena and perhaps was the pivot that turned the battle to their favor. From the moment the strange naked man opened his mouth and uttered the foolery so familiar now, it was clear that Maggot had returned. Ulthok just shrugged as he knew not to get in the way of a woman’s ire.
As the mage walked to help tend the fallen he heard Cor, "Ulthok, the corner where what once was your brother appeared, did you check it well? Perhaps there is something not right about that corner."
Pausing the mage looked back the Cleric, “ You betcha there is something not right over there. Divot was doing his best to drag me into a secret room there to have me for lunch.” Ulthok watch the cleric’s eyes and knew where his next search would be located. Well at least he’ll be walking in on his own.
"Tried to drag ya off did he? Well that was nay more brotherly than trying to kill ya. Do ya mind a wee bit of company checking it out, don't want to have ya walk in on a nasty surprise all alone. Perhaps we should all be ready before checking further. Let me see how the others are fairling downstairs."
As he came to the bottom of the steps, Cor saw the others held at bay by a very unhappy cat. "Seems the wee kitty does not take kindly to ya approaching her master." Looking at the cat, Cor slowly approached the fallen. "I am nay sure if ya ken understand but I mean no harm to yer master wee one. Perhaps I can help her if you will allow?" Cor moved a bit closer watching the cat's reaction."
Maggot stood feeling rather proud of his companions and himself at the moment when the Lady Rayne approached and stops a few feet short. “ I would care for your wound but tell me who you are that names us and seems to know things about us that you should not.
Maggot’s eyes fell down to the wound on his knee that until this point he had only felt and never truly looked at. His blood grew cold in his veins. That was the wound he felt but that was not his knee. “Oh my, I seem to be without clothing and it is not time for the summer ritual.” The old man dropped his sword to the ground and moved to his clothing and very gingerly picked up a bit of clothing, so the others in the room might see it was only clothing he was after. He used this to wrap around him to cover the lower half of his body. As he did so the old man noted that his whole body had been made young again. His hands whet to his face, as he felt no lines of aging, nor stubble of growth. “I now understand your question Lady Rayne.” Maggot then offered his knee to the Lady Rayne so she may see to it.
Cor spoke "Rayne lass, do ya nay recognise our demented companion? True, saying he looks a wee bit differant would be an understatement but it is indeed Maggot." Looking at Maggot, Cor added "Might be best if ye could explain the snazzy new outfit and visage lad."
“Yes, you see…” Maggot was going to answer when the Sirene spoke up and not with to kind of words. Maggot was going to try to say that he was trying to answer her when she turned away from him and spoke to the others.
Maggot shook his head and dressed himself and while doing so began to mumble to himself, “A Drunken Orc!?” … “I know I do not look the same and why did the Goddess Freya have to do that?” … “Well you have more of a chance to speak with her than I do.” … “Yes! Now Shush and let me get dressed.” The once old but still crazy man, gets dressed. Maggot then bundles all his weapons and belongs up to his pack. He then takes them up and stands, leaning upon his staff…
The setting up of Camp
Maggot took his bundle and placed it beside Cor’s things, “I think it would make others feel a bit safer if you held on to these things for now,” Maggot then stopped by Uthlok’s things and place the Axe next to them, “Thank you for standing with me on the field of battle Uthlok, Master of Shadows. May your brother truly know peace now.” then went about readying the camp. Some time went by when Maggot stopped and sniffed the air, “Hey Cor! It seems you will be herding cats again.” Maggot motioned with his head to the stairs.
After Cor hits the bottom of the stairs
Maggot sat alone, away from the lady Althena. His legs crossed and a staff across his lap. It was then the Ranger in him came forth and he began to weep. In a soft Elven voice as he had not been able to do since the goblins nearly took his life with that rope he spoke, “Niamedris, Eyesov HovSus nie ten’ lle tanya wanwa. Ten’ astald er lle nie Il-“
(OOC: The Elven spoken is translated loosely to mean, I weep for yours that is lost. For one so fearless as you would not weep.)
Posted on 2012-04-17 at 10:00:50.
Edited on 2012-04-17 at 10:06:10 by Kyle
It was a hard thing to admit. She was so old; so old and beautiful. She looked so much like her Mother: the same black hair, and piercing blue eyes. But where her Mother had always smiled and laughed – she could still hear the sound of that laughter – she never did. She shouted at her, she was always unkind, she…
“We’re all scared child,” she replied in that far-away voice of hers. She raised her small frame onto her lap and gently stroking her hair. “The dreams you have, scare us all.”
Her eyes widened in surprised at the unexpected and sudden kindness. She chewed her lip for a moment, wondering if now was the best time to ask.
“Can I have a kitty?”
She laughed then, the same sweet sound her mother had once made... ‘I’m tired,’ Sirène realised, her eyes momentarily closed to the world. Even in her waking hours the half-forgotten images of things that once were whispered to her. They were memories gathered over decades and centuries; a slow accretion of dust over dust. So old that, now when she relived them, she was unable to recognise that voice, those emotions, that life.
“A stranger to my dreams…” she mouthed, humming a fragment of a song she had once heard, and now could no longer place.
When her eyes opened she found yellow cat’s eyes staring back at her. ‘Niamedris’, she remembered. The elven cat’s tiger-patterned grey-brown fur hug limp upon its rapidly wasting form. It was no longer as aggressive as it had been when they had first stumbled upon it. The cat had reared and hissed then, its sharp claws glinting in the feint light. Now it was content to wrap tattered remains of what had once been Haila’s clothing, and curl itself into a ball. But still it peered at her, frightened of the end it knew was coming.
“Re na gurth, amin sinta,” Sirène murmured soothingly, as she produced a bowl from her pack and filled it with water. “Re nae niasamin, ar’re gurthe var lye; var amin.” “Nan’amin caele il’coiasire sint anwanin he,” Sirène confessed, remembering still the warm touch of Haila’s blood as it had sprayed all over her. “Aa’na, Niamedriselle, ile kwentraya amin enhe? Ile nuva mellonamin veer’amin merne amin nae he.”
[OOC: Sirène wil offer the kitty some water, and hope her words win the cat’s trust.
Elven portion translates as: “She’s dead, I know. She was my companion, and she died to protect us; to protect me. But, I never had the time to really know her before the end. Perhaps, little Niamedris, you can tell me about her? And you can be my friend as I wish I had been hers.”]
Posted on 2012-04-17 at 18:37:47.
Edited on 2012-04-17 at 19:16:22 by Ginafae
Lothors heart slowed to Valenes touch, apparently easing him. Her eyes met with his and a smile flickered across his face, she held him firmly but not tightly on his forearm. Valenes words that followed, helped to further soothe him and he replied to her.
“For the love I bear you, Valene I will stop this. However this Elf will have to earn my trust.” Lothor was shocked by the calm and open words he had just spoke, the surprise evident on his features.
Lothor thought for a few seconds and as an awkward silence began to threaten the conversation.
Valene pitched in again “I will not be dying a slave. A pity I have no poisons to aid in our venture... Ayreon, I will either die fighting for freedom by your side or share a meal with you and Lothor, should he decide to aid me...us, at the next tavern we come across when we get out of here.”
“I share your opinion on this Valene. I am fed up of living in fear. I suggest we eat tonight their should be a few scraps from that fanciful creature.” A look of scorn passed over his face as he looked at the Elf. “Lets see what tomorrow brings we will be stronger and the Elf here must still recover, I hope you're quick about it we may strike on the morrow.”
With that Lothor looked over his shoulder at the nearest Giant “We must leave soon they grow suspicious.” The fear was back in him and once again he was nervous, this talk of escape could not be overheard.
Posted on 2012-04-18 at 13:00:31.
Raven Resident Finn RDI Staff Karma: 69/3 998 Posts
Soon, my friends, soon.
Ayeron watched as the halfling and the human exchanged a few private words quietly. He'd noticed the way the man looked at Valene earlier and his sharp eyes didn't miss the affectionate touches they shared as they spoke. A human and a halfling… The elf had never heard of such a thing, but sometimes even elves kin mingled with humans. Shrugging, the paladin turned his eyes at the bridge and the giants guarding it. Maybe the captivity had brought the two closer. Maybe it was their way of surviving constant danger and the horrors they must have witnessed during their time in the giant camp. Whatever the case, it wasn't his business.
In a short while Valene came back and let out a deep sigh. Ayreon could see she had made up her mind. Her face didn't show even a hind of the smile that been there only a short moment ago. “I will not be dying a slave. A pity I have no poisons to aid in our venture... Ayreon, I will either die fighting for freedom by your side or share a meal with you and Lothor, should he decide to aid me...us, at the next tavern we come across when we get out of here.” Having voiced her decision, Valene turned around and headed back to the spit with the grimness gone from her face.
Lothor seemed to agree with the halfling lady up to a point. They both were going to join him in the attempt to escape. Nodding at the man Ayreon spoke softly: "Good. You don't have to like me human, but trust me, I am better company than those giants. Let us rest for a while longer and wait for the best moment to make our run for it. You two know the routines the giants go through and when they sleep and so on. Therefore I will be waiting for your sign."
The elf lifted his bound hands and looked Lothor in the eye. "But I'll need to get rid of these first. If you could secretly bring me a knife with the next cup of water, then I can start cutting through the ropes when the guards aren't watching." Ayreon keep a short pause and gave the human a slight bow: "And thank you."
With an Elvin cat on the defensive below, allowing no one to come close to Haila’s body. With an old man returned younger by the grace of a goddess to the land of the living, yet un-trusted by some of his former friends. With a Dwarf and Halfling curious about a darker area of possible hidden magic, the question had become a choice between investigation or resting.
As Ulthok moved to help Sirene, Rayne and Kenji carry the two fallen party members downstairs he was briefly stopped by Cor.
"Ulthok, the corner where what once was your brother appeared, did you check it well? Perhaps there is something not right about that corner."
“You betcha there is something not right over there. Divot was doing his best to drag me into a secret room there to have me for lunch.”
"Tried to drag ya off did he? Well that was nay more brotherly than trying to kill ya. Do ya mind a wee bit of company checking it out, don't want to have ya walk in on a nasty surprise all alone. Perhaps we should all be ready before checking further. Let me see to Maggot and Althena then I will join you to see how the others are fairing downstairs."
Turning to make his way from the glass stand to stand by the now dressed Maggot and the recovered Althena, he paused to speak to both. In the time it took the others to carry Cynil and Conall’s bodies downstairs to face an angry Elvin cat the dwarvin party leader had relayed his plan for all to rest below. Then the three with Cor in the lead descended the stairs to be met by the scene of Niamedris defending the corpse of his master.
“Niamedris, Eyesov HovSus nie ten’ lle tanya wanwa. Ten’ astald er lle nie Il-“
Though the words of Elvin spoken by Maggot were addressed to the cat as he rested both himself and his things, he did not approach him, feeling somehow it was not his place. Then as first Sirene, then Cor, gazed at Niamedris both feeling the longing of the Elf cat for it’s dead master both decided at almost the same moment that each would take the cat under their care. Though Cor had known the cat longer then the Elf Mage/Druid the cat itself was a mystery no one had ever asked Haila about. How did a very Human mage gain an Elvin cat as a familiar in the first place?, as Niamedris clearly was not a normal type of familiar a wizard gained when called for.
Had Niamedris and Haila found the other in need and in that moment of shared necessity bonded?.
Had Haila somehow been more then a normal Human Fighter/Mage, unknown to the party her exact nature?
Was Niamedris more then the Elvin cat he appeared? Was he linked to her as more then just her magical companion.
Such was the mystery of Niamedris and Haila’s bonding, yet no one had ever asked the truth of it. Now strangely that could end up being a sad mistake on the parties part ending in the Elvin cat‘s death.
It was Cor who first attempted to befriend the Elvin cat, only to be hissed at and find himself facedown on the floor as if having been tripped. Clearly, though Niamedris had enjoyed the teasing of the Dwarf Knight Cleric and the others of the party while Haila lived, it wanted nothing to do with Cor and perhaps the others with Haila dead.
Sirene seeing how Niamedris reacted to Cor still had hope within her of saving the Elf cat from a slow death and having no familiar of her own hoped Niamedris would become such for her. However she did not want to force it with a spell of Find Familiar, she truly wanted Niamedris to accept such a union on his own and was prepared if he chose death over a new companion. Plus the casting of such did not guarantee that it would effect Niamedris at all, he being a semi-intelligent creature of magic himself.
However though Niamedris had reared and hissed at Cor, its sharp claws glinting in the feint light, it had chosen to trip the Dwarf rather then attack him, showing that there was still a sense of friendship to the party within the cat‘s heart. Now having gotten it’s message across it seemed content to wrap itself within the tattered remains of what had once been Haila’s clothing. Curled into a ball Niamedris was easily ready to once more explode into a state of violent aggression at any moment.
Kneeling before Haila’s dead body and the cat within the clothing, but not so close as Cor before her, Sirene began to speak soothingly to him in Elvish. Peering directly into the eyes of the cat, she produced a bowl from her pack, filling it with water.
“Niamedris Re na gurth, amin sinta, Re nae niasamin, ar’re gurthe var lye; var amin. Nan’amin caele il’coiasire sint anwanin he, Aa’na, Niamedriselle, ile kwentraya amin en’he? Ile nuva mellonamin veer’amin merne amin nae he.”
However though it had heard the Mage/Druids words and clearly understood them, it’s ears standing straight up the whole time, it only peered at her. Clearly frightened of the end it knew was coming, and breaking Sirene’s heart in sadness, Niamedris made no move to accept the Elvin Mage/Druid’s offer to take Haila‘s place.
SOMEWHERE WITHIN DROW MOUNTAIN “Valene I ask you once more if possible, will you help me escape?”..…
The Elf Paladin had asked that of her once more, somehow knowing her heart wanted that more then anything and after a moment’s hesitation she made that very clear.
“I will not be dying a slave. A pity I have no poisons to aid in our venture... Ayreon, I will either die fighting for freedom by your side or share a meal with you and Lothor, should he decide to aid me...us, at the next tavern we come across when we get out of here.”
Clear from the look in his eyes and by the next words from his mouth he too would join them. However that was not the only thing he confessed.
“For the love I bear you, Valene I will stop this. However this Elf will have to earn my trust. I share your opinion on this Valene. I am fed up of living in fear. I suggest we eat tonight their should be a few scraps from that fanciful creature. Lets see what tomorrow brings we will be stronger and the Elf here must still recover, I hope you're quick about it we may strike on the morrow.”
With that Lothor looked over his shoulder at the nearest Giant “We must leave soon they grow suspicious.” The fear was back in him and once again he was nervous, this talk of escape could not be overheard.
"Good. You don't have to like me human, but trust me, I am better company than those giants. Let us rest for a while longer and wait for the best moment to make our run for it. You two know the routines the giants go through and when they sleep and so on. Therefore I will be waiting for your sign."
The elf lifted his bound hands and looked Lothor in the eye. "But I'll need to get rid of these first. If you could secretly bring me a knife with the next cup of water, then I can start cutting through the ropes when the guards aren't watching." Ayreon paused and gave the human a slight bow: "And thank you."
As Valene returned to stoke the fire and continue to cook the slowly roasting Pegasus and Lothor returned to his woodcutting duties the human knew the risk of getting a knife to the Elf Paladin was great. However without him free they would have no chance at all so it was a risk worth taking. The three in agreement to escape, the only questions now were when, where, and how?...........
THE NEXT NINE HOURS
With Sirene’s seemingly failed attempt to gain a familiar and in the process save Niamedris life, the party set about to sleep. With a watch rotation set of Althena, Rayne, Kenji and finally Cor, each taking a two hour shift, the main spell casters of the group including Sirene, still with a heavy heart, fell quickly asleep.
The first three watches went quietly by, for the first time since entering the mountain there seemed to be no next test or looming threat. However during the second hour of Cor’s watch he was startled by the graze of fur upon his bare hand as he sat gazing on the area around him. To his surprise it was Niamedris come from out from Haila’s clothing. Though still looking somewhat thinner there was a new `glow` about him. As Cor reached down to pick him up the Elvin cat jumped back just out of reach to sit upon it‘s rear legs. For a long moment the two of them, Dwarf and cat, looked at the other then with a swing of his tail Niamedris turned and moved towards a still deeply sleeping Sirene. Reaching the Elf Mage/Druid’s side, Niamedris gave the old Knight Cleric a last look as if to say thank you then quietly moved to lay within Sirene’s clothing. Disturbing his new master’s sleep not one bit.
Cor could not help but smile ruefully at the cat’s choice in it’s new master and vowed to stay the cat’s friend regardless. Then the eight hours were over and he roused them all from sleep. Quickly Haila’s things were gathered and her body like that of Cynil and Conall’s wrapped with respect and with a short prayer led by Cor it was time to investigate what some might call the last hidden bastion of the Pyramid.
With Ulthok once more in the lead the party moved steadily up the staircase and spread out so as not to remain an easy target, moved into the magic distorted area. Almost at once, now not fighting for his life, did Ulthok notice a dust disturbed area as if someone had tried to gain entrance to something beyond this wall. His brother perhaps? Moving gently on tip toes it seemed the Halfling Thief/Mage moved to the wall and checked it for a hidden door and traps. A door he did find but not a single trap placed in protection and to Ulthok this seemed somehow out of place. Instead with the door discovered a series of magical words did appear.
MAET SACIREMA SYOBWOC SALLAD
Sirene with her new familiar now firmly perched upon her shoulder, being the only one with the spell of Read Magic ready, easily cast it upon the door only to have the letters rearrange themselves into yet another unknown tongue. This time however the language was not of magic and it seemed it was unknown to all. The last to gaze upon the door, the rest of the party keeping her back for her protection, was Althena and at once she knew the language as her own.
“Only the last of the Valar may open”
A second check by Ulthok just to sure he had missed no trap, Althena’s hand briefly upon it, a door that had been closed for a long time screeched as it was opened. Althena moving back gave way to Ulthok once more as he peered inside. With all that could see inside the room cramming for a look, The Halfling found himself gazing at a large extra-sized closet type area and a long dead corpse upon it’s floor covered in dust. Making as if to move forward to check the corpse he was halted by Althena’s voice.
Moving to pass him she blocked the entrance from the rest of the party, talking over her shoulder to explain.
“Everyone please move back, I feel the sword somehow within.”
As the rest of the party gave her space the last of her race moved forward to gaze upon a corpse that she had already guessed it’s identity.
“Oh Father” she murmured loud enough for all to hear “so this is where you came all those years ago, but why.” Her answer was quick in coming as a gust of wind through the ages closed door blew enough of the dust away that she saw the blade gripped in her father’s hands, the red and black blade glowing and the green gem at the base of it’s hilt beating in rhythm as if that of a heart.
Here was what they had come for, died for and fought hard to reach.... The Steel Maiden.
Quickly reaching within her pack she bought forth a rune scribed sheath and magic enhanced wrappings. Taking a deep breath she gently moved, and in some cases, breaking the fingers until they were all clear. Wasting no time for fear of the evil of the sword now possibly released she grabbed it expecting a rush of evil to assail her, but instead she felt only a small portion of the evil contained within, her immunity real. Sheathed and wrapped she placed it upon her back and under her cloak much as Maggot had done with the former sword he had carried for so long.
It was here that she saw the letter sticking out of a pocket of her father’s tattered robe and picking it up moved out of the room. A moment of silence and a prayer of farewell she closed the door one last time. With their stated goal in Althena’s hands it was clear to all that it was time to leave the Pyramid behind. However the same problems that had confronted them on how to enter now came into play on how to leave.
As the party discussed the various options and idea’s Althena quietly moved away to read her fathers last words to her, the letter clearly marked with her name.
`My dearest daughter if you are reading this then the Dark King has come once more. I’m sorry I left you as I did but the draw of the sword you now bare became to strong for even I to resist. So I returned here and knowing the evil that I might do under it’s control I took up the sword, locking myself magically within this room. You must now be it’s carrier and undo my mistake of hiding it, instead of destroying it. For even at the time I cut it from Karza’s hand it had entered my mind and planted the seed of it’s survival to this day. Go now, linger not, for time has quickly passed you by as a day within this mountain is as a month outside of it and I know not how long you have been within. However be forewarned my daughter once you leave this floor the Pyramid will start to collapse, the magic withdrawing back to whence I drew it from. I wish you speed and safety but know that you will be hunted from this moment on.
My love to you always my only child.
Make me proud.`
Telling the rest of the party what she had just learned, calculating the time they spent inside, to roughly ten days, the party realized that almost a year had passed since they had landed at the town of Chard Rush. With the staggering knowledge of so much time having passed speed was of the essence, but again the question of how to leave was paramount.
A front door unblocked but worm like slugs on it’s outside.
Tiny passages within the Pyramids walls and below it’s base, would they stand the Pyramids weight upon it’s collapse.
The quickest way out perhaps the most dangerous the party had yet another choice, in a long line of them, to make...............
(DM OOC: OK as all but Brianna posted and I had most of this post already written I decided to finish it and post it tonight to speed you all along to the merging of the two parties. Below is my old hand drawn pic of the most evil of swords so don’t laugh if it looks all funky . Ok next post Sunday the 29th or sooner depending on how fast you all post.
Great job everyone!)
Posted on 2012-04-19 at 07:43:14.
Edited on 2012-04-19 at 07:57:18 by TannTalas
Niamedris nuzzled the dwarf's hand but sprang away when Cor reached for her. "So tis to be a continuation of our games it is wee one?" Then he watched the elvin cat curl up with it's new chosen companion. "A fine choice ye have made Niamedris, a fine choice indeed." Who would have ever believed a dwarf and an elvin cat anyways. Course I'll still keep an eye on ye until we can try to bring back your real master. I promise I'll do what I can to see her walk again with us or failing that, walk under Odin's protection in the next life." The rest of the watch went smoothly and without event.
The next morning, the party struck out to search the secret room and after much seeking, casting of magic and finally Althena herself opening the door the party beheld the item the had for so long sought. "Tis an evil sword it is. Crafted as if by a child with colored chalk it was designed but I can feel the evil rolling from it." Althena read the note from her long dead father and now the party had a choice to make, what path to choose for their escape. "Any thoughts on which way we go? Makes no nevermind ta me, one is likely as bad as the other. I could ask Odin for assistance but it seems a small matter to bother him with."
Maggot sat by his things as those around him moved about doing their own thing. ‘Once more the Gods have seemed fit to toy with us once more.’ He mumbled to himself. Maggot knew there were some of his friends that did not trust him and rightly so, there were some who saw in him the madness that still remained and knew that it was still Maggot inside. So over dinner he spoke clearly and plane to them. Telling every detail of the past 9 days in the mountain. He then went on to recall some of the common talk around the campfire that only he and his friends would know about. He hoped this time would put aside the distrust but only the next few days would tell.
It took Maggot more time then normal to get to sleep. It seems the loss of his burden could not be put behind him as easily as he hoped. But sleep soon came to him and though they were not unpleasant dreams She still seemed to be in the back ground, just beyond sight but never beyond thought. He might have lost what was hers, he could not lose the fact she still played in his thoughts and still held a place in his heart.
the next morning
The next morning he awoke fresh and ready for the day. He also noted that the night before must have put him in the good favor of some. For he found next to him his things he had placed in Cor’s keeping and a few items from the cash of loot. He smiled, as he made ready. Perhaps he had found a place to belong.
Posted on 2012-04-21 at 12:48:51.
Edited on 2012-04-21 at 12:49:39 by Kyle
Sirène was gazing into the smoking embers of the camp-fire when Maggot came to her. She was thinking of the poor plight of the cat that had chosen to die instead of taking offers for companionship from her or Cor. And, there was something cat-like about Maggot. The unpredictability and quixotic changes of mood reminded her of Niamedris, and all those other times she had worn a cat’s shape as her own.
‘He’s as old as Grandmother,’ Sirène remembered as Maggot began to speak in order to prove his identity. A sudden flush of shame stole up her cheeks.
“I’m sorry about what I said earlier,” she replied to Maggot in the Common tongue. “I shouldn’t have questioned your loyalty. And I things I said to you were cruel. You were the only one to see Alasdair for what he was. If I had seen through the lies earlier then perhaps …” Sirène tailed off leaving unsaid the shame she felt for aiding in Alasdair’s betrayal. “Well, l hope you can forgive me, Maggot.”
Posted on 2012-04-21 at 17:11:36.
Edited on 2012-04-21 at 17:12:16 by Ginafae
She knew it was not her dream. She was passing through a strange and unfamiliar forest. There were no silvery, smooth mallorns here, but sickly sweet evergreens and wrinkled oaks sighing at a world that no longer cared for their kind.
She found herself stepping over a fallen birch, drawn to a feint mewling sound in the aether. She pressed on, entranced, to a shallow hollow in the earth, half covered in yellowed leaves. He was as fragile and wrinkled as the fallen leaves when she saw him. A tiny shrivelled pink thing burrowing beneath the fur of his brothers and sisters in an effort to keep out the cold.
It would not save him. The others were dead, the litter abandoned. She held out her hand, her heart moved by pity for the little creature. But he shrank deeper in his blanket of fur. And then she realised, as the hand turned before her eyes, it was not her hand…
Sirène woke with a start. Her hair was tousled, and the shift she was wearing was drenched in sweat and clung uncomfortably to her skin. ‘Just a dream’ a voice in her head sounded, as she rose and crossed her legs beneath her, trying to calm her rapidly thrumming heart. But she knew it was something more. Ever since she was a child the Greensight had come easy to her. And she had learnt to not so easily discount what she dreamt.
::Not just a dream. My dream::
Sirène’s brow furrowed in confusion, until her hand brushed soft, downy fur.
::It’s rude to steal thoughts you know:: Niamedris communicated as he jumped onto Sirène’s lap, and arched his back in a feline yawn. He looked much better than he had before. His eyes were alert and bright. His stripy grey-black fur glistened healthily in the feint light.
A smile slipped over the elven sorceress’ lips. Partly in joy that the little cat had chosen to live rather than die by Haila’s side and partly in relief as she began to understand what it was she had dreamt. ::I’m sorry little kitten, I didn’t know they were yours.::
::Hmph. Well, ok. But I’m not a kitten you know. I’m four, almost five!::
::And I, brave Prince, am one hundred and eight-six … as the humans measure time::
The cat’s eyes widened in surprise.
::Have you never spent time with Elves or those of your own kin, mighty taegrisha?::
Niamedris shook his head no.
::Well, then I will take you to meet them in E’Loth Lo’Rian. Once we escape from this place::
::Alright:: the cat purred in agreement, sprawling itself over Sirène’s lap. ::For now, though, you can pet me::
“A whole year?” Sirène queried, louder than she intended.
Before the door had been opened, Sirène had prepared her spells in expectation of some final battle. She had even cast a spell that transformed her body into translucent diamond, leaving her unsure what emotions she’d be able to feel once the magic had taken hold. When no monster emerged form the dark, she half-expected the sword that Althena had quickly grasped to transform her into some hideous abomination. But there was no grand battle, epiphany or earth-shattering portent. Or at least not until Althena read aloud a letter that had somehow survived amid all the decay.
“… a day within this mountain is as a month outside of it …”
::Yes! I’m five!:: Niamedris had exulted. The cat was perched on Sirène’s shoulder, reduced to a tenth of his size and weight, happily pawing at a pearl that hung from the elven sorceress' right ear. But Sirène could not share his mirth. A year in the life of an elf, were as the passing phases of the moon, and yet even elves knew that a lot could change in a year. Who knew what may have happened while they were squirreled away in the dark?
“I think … I think we should take the quickest route out,” Sirène responded at last after Cor had spoken. “I don’t think the passages underneath will support the weight of the pyramid if it collapses. And … I would sooner leave this place before we spend another year inside.”
[OOC: If everyone is in agreement about leaving through the front door, Sirène will cast Wizard’s Eye to scout out what may be lurking immediately outside.]
"well lass, I agree that the passage ways will nae support the weight of the pyramid. Perhaps the front door is the best escape. It was likely warded or trapped to keep folks out but not as likely to keep them in. Cast yer spell and see what lies ahead." Cor looked at the others and then added, "Tis true a long time has passed outside these walls but evil hasna yet won. The very fact that we are chased shows that ta be true for if good had shed it's last measure there would nae be reason to come after such as us. No, as long as we still draw breath the world still has a chance."
The party honored their dead and each member treated moment in their own way. As these brave friends had served the group now the items left behind would continue to aid in the quest, only in new hands. Ulthok chose carefully those items that he could use the assist group. The thief had no greed to simply add to his treasures. As the group rested the mage took time to prepare spells may aid them as they would once more seek the sword.
After dually resting Ulthok lead the group back the upper chamber, this time seeking that area darken area where he free his brother.
With great care Ulthok searched the darkness and revealed what appeared to be the outline of hidden door. To him amazement instead remaining hidden the produced letters. MAET SACIREMA SYOBWOC SALLAD. The mage had not prepared to read magi, but luckily the Enchantress stepped forward and deciphered the letters. Sirene caused the letters to rearrange but they were still in a language they colud not understand.
Althena then voiced what was written for it was her native tongue, “Only the last of the Valar may open”. As the theif double check for traps Althena pushed the door and the long unvisited room was revealed. Moving to checkthe room Ulthok was halted with an abrupt “Ulthok STOP” . Althena took charge, “Everyone please move back, I feel the sword somehow within.”
Moving into the Althena found a body clutching the sword. “Oh Father” she murmured loud enough for all to hear “so this is where you came all those years ago, but why.”
The blade was gripped in her father’s hands, the red and black blade glowing and the green gem at the base of it’s hilt beating in rhythm as if that of a heart.
Here was what they had come for, died for and fought hard to reach.... The Steel Maiden.
Taking a deep breath she moved quickly reaching within her pack she bought forth a rune scribed sheath and magic enhanced wrappings. Wasting no time for fear of the evil of the sword now possibly released she grabbed it expecting a rush of evil to assail her, but instead she felt only a small portion of the evil contained within, her immunity real. Sheathed and wrapped she placed it upon her back and under her cloak much as Maggot had done with the former sword he had carried for so long.
When sword was secured Althena noticed a letter in the pocket of her fathers robe. Taking the note the party left the room closing the door. Moving away to read the letter the Valar was surprised to find it addressed to her. Although the message was personal there needed information she shared with the party. Time had outside the mountain had past faster than realized. Though they had seemingly been there a few days, those waiting for them had lived a year. Also they must leave quickly for the temple will start to crumble as the leave the chamber.
Hearing this Ulthok exclaimed, “ Even though we were not treated as guests, we should leave by the front door. Compared to these blasted roaches those slugs out there should not be such a challenge. Anyone got a salt shaker?”
Maggot sat quietly as the Lady Sirène spoke to him…“Well, l hope you can forgive me, Maggot.”
Maggot took the back of his right hand and lightly placed those fingers upon her right cheek. This was the ways of his people of long ago. “Good Lady Sirène, they were forgiven when you spoke them. Do not take blame for that which evil has done, for in your heart you felt it was right.”
With their goal literally in hand the party was more then ready to leave this Pyramid and journey back above ground. The only question was how. Warned by Althea’s father’s farewell note they knew speed was of the essence for once Althena and the sword moved from the second floor to the first, the Pyramid would quickly begin to destroy itself. But how would they be able to gather their gear, carry two bodies and Haila’s remains and still make the front door and off the Pyramid grounds in time. And how much time would they even have as none knew just how fast the structure would collapse.
“I’ll stay” Althena’s voice once more brought the parties attention back to her at first in somewhat disbelief. Seeing that the party had taken her words the wrong way she hurried to clarify.
“I mean I’ll stay up here long enough for Ulthok to check the front door and the rest to gather our gear and our fallen. Once everyone is ready I’ll come down the stairs and run to meet you all at the main door. Then we leave this place for good”
With everyone in agreement the party, minus Althena, filed down the circular stairs to gather all gear. To the parties shock the two bodies and two halves of Haila were gone! With no evidence to explain who had taken them. Yet somehow as the party gathered at the place they had been left each felt a calm soothing presence letting them know somehow that it was alright. Perhaps it was only in his scared mind or his short time on Asgard, but Maggot thought he caught a glimpse as what appeared to be one of Freya’s Valkyrie’s flying away carrying Conall’s body.
With that worry somehow off their minds and everything readied the six members moved to the door where Ulthok checked found and disarmed four normal traps and with Sirene’s help one magical to unlock the Pyramid’s main door. Then opening the door just a crack, Sirene using a spell of Wizard Eye looked beyond them to find the scene very much as it had been seen from the top of the ledge leading to the cavern’s base. Hundreds upon hundreds of slugs crawling everywhere, over and on each other, many eating the newly dead slugs. While yet others appeared to possibly be mating in some grotesque way. Everywhere she looked it was nothing but hideous slimy looking slugs. Relaying this to the rest of the party they all realized that they would have no choice but to fight through them somehow and spells of mass destruction were readied.
Then it was time for Althena to make her run and at the urging of the party did so, making it halfway down the stair case before the earth and Pyramid walls began to crumble and shake. However all was not in the parties favor as more and more large stones and pieces of ceiling caused Althena to have to dodge and find new ways around the growing rumble, unable to run a straight path to the party. As the Pyramid collapsed faster it was clear to all neither they or Althena would make it out and off the Pyramid grounds on foot. It was here that the party once more thought alike and three things happened almost at once.
Sirene knowing Althena would not make it, at once released her spell of Stoneskin and using her Druid ability, shape changed into a giant Eagle on the run. Ulthok seeing what Sirene intended quickly cast a spell of Fly on himself and followed. As these two members of the party went for Althena, Maggot having the spell ready and knowing the rest of the party did not have the ability of flight Polymorphed himself into a large Red Drago. Then motioning for Cor, Kenji and Rayne to climb upon his back he moved to the two main doors. Once the three were settled as best as could be, Maggot using his now large snout pulled open the wide main doors to a scene of utter chaos.
Where hundreds of slugs had once been, large fissures had opened in many areas before the Pyramid swallowing many slugs whole and crushing others into blackish goo. Moving quickly past the open doors and out in front of the Pyramid the Ranger/Bard for a moment lost his footing as a fissure started to form beneath him. However catching his balance and with a great heave of his new wings Maggot Red Dragon took flight.
Inside the Pyramid, things were much different, as Sirene the eagle and a flying Ulthok had to dodge the many pieces of falling debris, not always successful as one large slab hit Sirene, momentarily dazing her. However, a vigilant Ulthok flew under her as she dipped keeping her upright till she was once more ok. Then finally, they reached Althena just as she was dodging yet another fallen stone. Diving quickly Sirene grabbed the Valar female by her armor, and with Ulthok’s help, picked her up and began to carry her out of the Pyramids main floor. As Sirene flew Althena with Ulthok’s help, climbed up Sirene's ealge legs to finally seat herself upon the eagle’s broad back. In minutes, the three were out the front of the Pyramid and climbing to meet a slowly circling Maggot.
The party in their various shapes watched in silence as what had been a resting place for evil finally in a burst of magical flames consumed itself, leaving nothing but a crater behind. Again, the party moved to the same ledge as they had first gazed upon the Pyramid and landing Sirene and Maggot resumed their natural forms. With the only way to go, back the way they had come and with Ulthok in the lead once more, a small torch lit for the benefit of Kenji, they moved up.
Shortly they came to the area of the hallway from which they had descended from the floor above and found it blocked by rumble from crumbled walls. Yet by this crumbling of the walls a new opening had been created leading into perhaps a forgotten tunnel looking to lead only upwards. Having again no choice the party ducked through this new hole in the wall, into this new hallway and started following it up. After the ordeal they had just been through this walk felt as if the longest so far and finding a larger area Cor called a halt for a brief period of rest. Sitting, resting, and catching their wind the party talked quietly to each other.............
SOMEWHERE WITHIN DROW MOUNTAIN
The three prisoners a Halfling, a Human and an Elf having decided to be free wasted no time. As Valene finished cooking the Elf’s mount, the Giants, still waiting on the rest of their elder males, granted her wish to feed herself, Lothor and Ayreon. Palming one of the few knives in the camp she passed it to the Elf Paladin as she handed him his plate of cooked Pegasus. Having no intention of eating the meat upon his plate he placed the food beside him, gesturing to Lothor and Valene to share it, and began to slowly cut the ropes binding his wrists. In minutes he had them almost cut through but then the floor and peak began to shake. The shaking catching everyone including the giants by complete surprise, one of the younger male guards standing too close to the ledges edge falling off it, that for a few moments time seemed to slow.
The giants falling or attempting to remain on their feet.
The baby giants crying like a horde of Banshee’s, the female giants trying to calm them.
The cooked meat falling into the fire causing sparks to fly, some landing on bedding and old rags causing fires and smoke to thicken.
And a small hole barely big enough for a human but easily big enough for a halfling opened in the wall to the prisoners right.
Seeing this Ayreon using his strength broke the last of the rope and quickly gained his knees.
“Hurry now is the time, move, move” he spoke quickly as the slowly diminishing shaking still had the giants in disarray. Being the first to reach the small hole the Elf Paladin beginning widening it for ease of both his and Lothor’s use and as Valene went through it with ease he continued until Lothor was through then as one of the giants finally noticed the escape he too was through and crawling out the other side into an old hallway of sorts headed down. As the three stood looking at the tunnel leading downwards into the darkness they could clearly hear the grunts and shouts of the remaining younger males digging at the wall.
Wasting not a word or time they moved quickly down the hall before them almost running with Valene in the lead, followed by Ayreon, all Lothor could do was hold on to the Elf’s ragged shirt having no infravision of his own. Then suddenly what seemed like hours but was more like 45 minutes Valene came to a sudden halt, Ayreon almost running her over. Turning to the two men behind her, whispered a quick head’s up.
“Voices ahead I think 7 or 8, maybe more, and a small light, maybe a torch. What do we do??”
(DM OOC: OK here’s my new update I hope everyone enjoys it. Now my next post WILL be next Sunday the 29th without fail so have fun and stay thirsty my friends )