War of the Burning Sky Session 32

“The Ragesians are here,” Ulfgar alerted everyone. “There’s six of them.”

The front row of three soldiers maneuvered to block the other side of the bridge with their large tower shields.

Ulfgar stepped up to the bridge and waited for the Ragesians to advance.

Touching Cyrus on the shoulder, Bernardo muttered, “prisa” and cast haste of the warrior.

The rear row shot their heavy crossbows, but none hit their mark.

I rushed onto the bridge and cast spirit guardians as I passed the center, engulfing five of the soldiers in swirling ghostly hammers.

Dashing passed me, Cyrus shoved the nearest soldier aside and tried to kick him in the lava, but using its shield, the soldier braced himself. With a surge, Cyrus continued to kick at him, and on the third try sent the soldier falling into the lava with a blood curdling scream.

Suddenly a door at the far side of the large chamber burst open and a masked inquisitor emerged.

“It's an inquisitor,” I shouted, as Bernardo began to ask what was happening in the darkness.

The inquisitor pointed and a fireball engulfed Cyrus, Ulfgar, and me. My companions evaded the worst of the heat, and I stood my ground, relying on my innate resistance.

“Bernardo, be on your guard,” Ulfgar yelled. “These inquisitors hunt magic users.” Then the monk ran onto the bridge and from right behind me leaped across, but lost his footing as the ground crumbled away under his feet! Sliding down the cliffside into the river of lava, he summoned all his insp[ration to grab the edge of the cliff!

“Ay dios mío!” Bernardo gasped as he moved up and hit the lone soldier not engulfed in swirling ghostly hammers with three magic missiles. Then he called, “Cyrus, throw the light further into the room.”

Three of the soldiers fell to my spirit guardians, leaving two standing, both of whom retreated, dashing back to stand by their inquisitor and pushing them through the door with a shout, “Get out of here!”

“You need my help, Ulfgar?” I shouted.

“Just go after them,” Ulfgar replied.

Chasing the soldiers, I engaged them, surrounding them and the inquisitor in my spirit guardians, and smashed the archer’s skull in with my spiritual weapon.

“Ulfgar, stop messing around,” Cyrus chastised. “Let's get into this fight.”

Dashing past me and around the remaining soldier, Cyrus slashed the inquisitors in the head twice with his long sword and raked its mask with a flaming clawed hand.

The inquisitor waved his hands in evocation and Cyrus and I were engulfed in a wall of fire. While I relied on my natural resistance, Cyrus reacted with absorb elements.

Pulling himself up from the ledge, Ulfgar advanced to the flames and yelled, “Bernardo, can you help? There's a wall of fire!”

Crossing the bridge, Bernardo approached us, but couldn’t think of any way to assist.

As the soldier succumbed to the heat emanating from the wall of fire, I cast dispel magic, but the inquisitor’s casting was too powerful. Then, relying on my natural resistance, I ran through the wall of fire, beyond the door, and into the room beyond, where I saw that the inquisitor had retreated out of the range of my spirit guardians and was approaching a door at the opposite end of the room. “He's getting away!” I grunted through clenched teeth.

Stumbling out of the wall of fire, Cyrus caught up to the inquisitor and brought his longsword down on its head, unleashing the fire he had absorbed. Then, as the inquisitor began muttering some arcane words, Cyrus cleaved through its clavicle and through its heart.

As the inquisitor fell, the wall of fire disappeared and Ulfgar and Bernardo emerged into the room.

Quaffing one himself, Cyrus handed me a potion of healing, which I also drank.

Bernardo offered a potion of healing of his own, noting “I have another one as well. You all took quite the beating. Do either one of you care for this?”

“Hang on to it,” Cyrus suggested. “We might need it later.”

“Okay,” Bernardo acknowledged and put it away.

The somewhat triangular room had two doors on the far west wall flanking a large stone dragon head, snarling with its snout wide open like it was about to breathe fire. To the south were three bedrolls near one wall. To the north some chairs surrounded a table with some half eaten food and some playing cards. Our light did not penetrate its darkness inside the dragon statue’s maw, nor did our vision.

Searching the inquisitor’s corpse, Cyrus discovered claws—similar to Ulfgar’s—dripping in blood. He tossed them to Ulfgar, saying, “Hey, these might be a better version of what you got.”

Meanwhile, searching the soldiers’ corpses, Ulfgar collected sixty gold coins, which we promptly divied up.

Cyrus took the inquisitor’s mask, which resembled a pig or boar skull with two tusks coming out from the front. “It might become useful if we're gonna try and disguise ourselves or something later.”

Ulfgar noted that the claws seem to be of a higher quality than the ones he had and discarded the old ones.

“Unfortunately, I just wanted to share with you,” Bernardo said, “that I don't have the dispel magic spell, so I couldn't get rid of the wall. That's why I was calling to you, Cyrus, to get the light over to him. Because maybe I could have countered his spell before he cast it. So I apologize for that.”

“It's good that you saved that,” Cyrus replied. “I expect Lee is gonna have a lot of spells.”

“I'm sorry I wasn't able to get that off in time,” Bernardo added. “I'm glad you're okay.”

“No problem,” I quipped. “It was just a Wall of Fire. No sweat.”

“Just when we're dealing with Lee,” Cyrus warned, “no holds barred. You gotta use all your abilities to the best of your ability.”

“Count on that, my friends,” Bernardo promised.

Still feeling pretty beat up from the battle, we agreed to take a short rest before continuing.

We considered whether we should explore the darkness on the dragon statue’s mouth.

“What if Lee's in there?” I cautioned. “We go through the door and Lee runs out.”

We all stood back as Cyrus grabbed one of these chairs and stuck it in the dragon's mouth.

The chair disappeared into the darkness, but it encountered no resistance and was intact when he pulled it out.

“Let's search the rest of his compound,” Cyrus suggested, “and if he's not around, then maybe we can start investigating weird possible portals.”

“But what if he's in there and he runs out,” I repeated. “While we're in another room, we just let him escape. What if this is a closet with a Darkness spell on it, and he's hiding in there?”

Cyrus nodded.

“I have an idea,” I said, focusing on my emblem of Moradin for the ritual casting of detect magic.

As I roamed around the area, I sensed an ambient magic throughout the entire place. The most powerful magic seemed to be emanating from runes surrounding the lava river.

“Those claws are enchanted, Ulfgar,” I announced, having detected magic from Ulfgar’s new claws.

Some type of evocation magic was emanating from the dragon’s mouth and there was various other magic emanating from within the darkness.

“This darkness is magical,” I shared, “but I can't detect much more beyond. There's magic beyond it. That's all I can tell.”

“What if we go exploring after this, assuming we don't find him, and Ulfgar hangs here, because he can easily catch up with us if we get into an altercation.

Once I was done, Cyrus bid, “Hey, Bernardo, come here and give me a hand.” Together they began checking the doors for traps, and I cast guidance on Bernardo as he investigated the doors, uttering, “Blessings of the soul father help you.”

Cyrus opened the southern door, impatiently urging, “Let's go. Let's keep searching this place.”

As Bernardo followed Cyrus beyond the door, Ulfgar guarded the east door and I stood guard in the southern doorway.

They moved cautiously down a long corridor, searching as they went, until the corridor opened into a larger room which connected to the northern door in the room with the dragon statue via a second corridor. The room and the corridor appeared to surround the darkness beyond the dragon statue’s mouth.

On the far side of the south wall was a door. Beyond that, on the west wall was a pillar of magma flowing from the ceiling to a hole in the floor. 

Cyrus began investigating the contents of a shelf on the east wall (west of the darkness) and, reading through the texts, discovered that the tools and manuscripts were used for something called biomancy. He noted that some of the weird shaped tools looked like they might be surgical implements.

He shoved the manuscripts into his pack.

Then he joined Bernardo, who was inspecting a large tank full of green fluid in the northwest corner. A humanoid creature floated within the fluid, while several smaller tanks were stacked against the wall.

“This is quite incredible,” Bernardo noted, “what they're doing here.”

As they watched, the creature's eyes opened and looked at them. It just continued to float within the tank and they realized that it resembled the weird sahuagin we had fought.

“Ohh!” Cyrus surmised. “He's augmenting sahuagin.”

“This is quite diabolical,” Bernardo suggested, “I would think.”

I opened the northern door and we confirmed that it also led to a corridor into the same room. From this vantage, I could see the green fluid filled vats, a second column of ceiling to floor flowing magma, and a door in the north wall of the corridor.

We agreed to check the north door first.

After Cyrus searched the door for traps, he opened it, revealing a smaller room that appeared to be a bedroom and study containing a large bed, a bookcase, a sitting chair, and a desk, all appeared relatively new and in good shape.

On the desk, sat an eight inch sphere of black glass etched with unusual, curving silver patterns. The sphere was held in an oval wooden setting, carved with images of two gods blowing storms from their lips.

“Maybe we should destroy it,” Cyrus suggested.

“What do you think it is?” Bernardo asked.

“It's something that Lee likes, clearly,” Cyrus surmised, “so it's something we should destroy.”

While Cyrus searched the room further, I repeated the detect magic ritual. Examining it, the etchings seemed to swirl, almost like storm clouds.

After confirming that the sphere emanated magic, I switched places with Ulfgar and he confirmed that the wooden carved gods were a representation of Oceanus blowing storms and the other was a god of wind and sky.

“Maybe this is what he’s using to make the storm happen outside?” Cyrus wondered aloud.

“Yeah, like a storm sphere,” I concurred. “The etchings, like magic, swirl around, like storm clouds within.”

“I think we should deny it from him,” Ulfgar suggested.

“You don’t think we should destroy it?” I asked.

“We don't know what effect that would have,” Ulfgar considered. “I'd rather give it to the Lyceum to study, if need be. It might be a historical artifact. Or we could give it to Torrent and the worshippers at the temple of Oceanus.”

“Bernardo, can you see this writing here?” I asked. “Can you read it?”

“I cannot,” Bernardo admitted. “It seems that your use of Detect Magic is allowing you to recognize that.”

“Perhaps if you cast Detect Magic,” I suggested, “you might be able to read the writing.”

“If I had it,” Bernardo stated, “I would cast it.”

“I think Torrent would be able to read it,” Ulfgar speculated. “Doesn't she work in the temple of Oceanus?”

“I think we should destroy it,” I concluded. “If it wasn't for the storm, I would want to bring it back.”

“Well, perhaps it's prudent to destroy this thing,” Bernardo agreed. “If it's somehow connected to this weather, like you suggest, perhaps better to destroy it. Ideally I think we'd love to research this and observe it, but…”

“That's what I thought as well,” I agreed.

Reaching over, Cyrus tipped the sphere off its wooden setting and rolled onto the floor, unharmed.

“We can throw it in the lava,” Ulfgar suggested.

“That might very well destroy it,” Bernardo agreed. “Incinerate the thing.”

We agreed and Cyrus scooped it up in the bedsheets and we took it to the bridge, where he tossed it over the side into the lava.

After a few moments, the glass cracked releasing swirling wisps of cloudy air as it  began to break apart into many pieces that melted into the lava. I could see that the magic emanating from it was gone.

We returned to the dragon head statue room, where Ulfgar continued to guard the east door.

Cyrus and Bernardo searched the south door, while I stayed within eyesight of everyone.

Cyrus opened the door into another large cavernous chamber with another bridge crossing a river of flowing lava.

“Anyone in there?” I asked.

“Not that I saw,” Cyrus shared. “There's another door on our side of the bridge.”

Before venturing into the cavern, we agreed to search the dragon statue’s mouth.

I took a chair and threw as far as I could into the dragon statue’s mouth and heard it crash a dozen or so feet beyond.

Volunteering to go in, due to my natural resistance against fire, I borrowed Ulfgar’s staff and tied a rope around my waist and, with Cyrus holding the other end of the rope, entered the darkness probing ahead with the staff.

After a few feet, I passed beyond the magical darkness into a small room with a door on the far end. The door’s edge was traced by glowing red runes that read, “The spirit of the Pyromancer Damatarion shall destroy those who disturb his body’s rest.”

I could sense evocation, necromancy, and abjuration magic coming from all over the room.

“It's light in here,” I announced. “You should come in. It says something on the door. ‘The spirit of the Pyromancer Damatarion shall destroy those who disturb his body’s rest.’”

As my companions entered through the darkness, I returned Ulfgar’s staff.

“Bernardo,” I waved the mage over, “Do you wanna check this door?”

“If this is some tomb,” Cyrus presumed. “I don't think Lee’s going to be in there.”

“Maybe this is a tomb we don’t want to disturb,” Ulfgar suggested.

“Is Lee going to be hiding in here, you think?” Bernardo asked.

“I don't know,” I wondered. “It could be a good hiding place.”

“I don't think Lee's hiding,” Cyrus surmised. “I think he's either escaping or he's gonna confront us, I don't think he's gonna be hiding in some hole.”

“Especially a pyromancer,” Ulfgar surmised, “and Lee seems to be more with storms and water. Fire and water don't mix.”

“What better disguise?” I pondered. “That's my point. Who would suspect him?”

“I'm not a Tomb Raider,” Bernardo shared, “but I don't see any traps here.”

“For whatever it's worth,” I shared, “I'm in agreement. I'm not trying to mess with anybody's tomb. I'm only trying to find Lee. It says the spirit of the pyromancer shall destroy those who disturb his body's rest. I was thinking that opening this door would not disturb the body's rest.”

“I just don't think Lee's here,” Cyrus concluded. “I think he's elsewhere in the compound.”

Cyrus pointed out that it didn't look like the door had been disturbed, noting that if Lee had recently opened it, it might have shown in the dust on the floor, which had not been recently disturbed.

“That's good enough for me,” I agreed and we all filed back out of the small room.

We all headed through the southern door, continuing west down the corridor and through the south door into the huge cavern.

The cavern was divided by another magma flow that disappeared underground. A bridge, of similar construction to the one where we fought the soldiers, connected us to the southern section of the cavern.

At the edge of my vision to the south were what appeared to be cages. There seemed to be an object inside the nearest cage.

“I can't see across the river,” Cyrus hinted. “Do you see anything?”

“There's another door on the other side of this bridge,” I shared. “It's not just a door, there's cages over there. There's something inside one of them, but I can't make it out from here.”

Cyrus and Bernardo checked the door on our side of the bridge, and having not found any traps, opened it.

Inside was a torture chamber with multiple racks and cruel instruments. One one rack was the scarred body of an elven woman, her clothing torn asunder. She was barely conscious, but still alive.

Examining her, I determined that she had been tortured with many small cuts and healed many times. Her midsection was still bleeding from fresh cuts performed by multiple small blades.

“It looks like this person has been tortured with a small object and healed over and over again,” I conveyed.

“Lee’s one sick bastard!” Cyrus cursed.

“Wasn’t one of those claws that you retrieved earlier covered in blood?” Bernardo surmised.

“Oh, it was that guy?” Cyrus acknowledged.

“The Inquisitor!” I nodded.

“Unless,” Bernardo hedged, “did he cut one of you with them?”

“No,” Cyrus confirmed.

As I cast cure wounds on the woman, Cyrus loosened her bonds, and Bernardo covered her with a spare shirt.

As she began to rouse, her eyes widened with fear and she began to struggle.

“You're Okay,” I urged. “You’re safe now.”

We all backed away from her.

“Oh, thank the gods!” she sighed. “Thank you for finding me here.”

“Who are you?” Cyrus asked.

“I am Faquaniel,” she replied. “We were attempting to teleport, and we somehow appeared in this place, and they captured us.”

“Wait,” Cyrus interjected. “Who's us?”

“Myself and my companion,” Faquaniel clarified. “We were trying to teleport from Shahalesto to Seaquen to discuss alliances. We realized there was a problem with the teleportation, but we decided to take the chance to do it, and we wound up in this place.”

“So they intercepted your transport and brought you here?” Cyrus surmised.

“That is correct,” Faquaniel confirmed. “And before we could resist and get out, we were captured, knocked out, and the sick bastard strapped me to this table and kept torturing me.”

“Was it the guy wearing a mask?” Cyrus probed/

“He was wearing a mask,” Faquaniel confirmed. “I believe he was one of the Inquisitors.”

“Did you see this guy with them?” Cyrus asked, describing Lee.

“Yes,” Faquaniel put her hands to her head, thinking hard, “a couple of hours earlier, a man by that description had come in here actually, and he was talking to this bastard. And if I recall correctly, he said he was taking—I wanna get this right—he was taking the control wand in case he had to change the weather in a hurry. I don't know what that means, but that's what they were talking about.”

“A control wand?” I asked.

“That's what he said.” Faquaniel confirmed.

“Did he say anything about a storm sphere?” I pressed.

“He didn’t,” Faquaniel shook her head. “And you know what? I think I passed out shortly afterwards, so if he did, I probably wouldn't have heard it.”

“Well, if the sphere is what we think it is,” Cyrus suggested, “then his wand ain’t gonna do anything.”

“There's cages out there,” I noted. “Maybe your companion is there.”

“Perhaps,” Faquaniel replied, struggling to rise.

“Maybe you should rest here until you're ready,” I suggested. “Until your strength is returned.”

Cyrus provided a quick description of the way out, just in case, explaining, “if you go through this door, this way over the bridge, there's a shaft that goes up into a flooded zone where you need to hold your breath. But if you swim out of there, you'll be in the ruined part of Seaquen. If you want to wait here and wait for us to escort you out, that's fine. But in case you just feel the need to leave by mundane means, I just want you to know the way out.”

“Are you guys gonna be leaving soon?” Faquaniel asked.

“We're looking for Lee,” Cyrus explained, “that guy that said the thing about the wand, to take him into custody, because he's clearly a criminal. But yeah, once we're done with that, we're leaving.”

“I'd much rather leave together,” Faquaniel hinted, “if that's an option.”

“That’s recommended,” I responded.

“Yeah,you can absolutely hide somewhere or come with us,” Cyrus offered. “Whatever you're comfortable with.”

“I can come along with you,” Faquaniel agreed. “Can anybody spare a dagger or any kind of weapon that I can defend myself with in the meanwhile?”

“There’s a knife on that table,” I pointed. “Grab that long one.”

Faquaniel grabbed a nasty filet knife and Cyrus gave her a dagger, which she put in her belt.

“Did you encounter that inquisitor?” Faquaniel inquired.

“Yeah,” Cyrus replied, “we killed him.”

“Bastard!” Faquaniel cursed.

“Ulfgar, can you go grab one of those crossbows?” I asked and he ran off, quickly returning and handing Faquaniel a heavy crossbow and bolts.

I led the way across this bridge where we could see four iron cells in the dark southeast corner of the sweltering cavern. The nearest cell held a white stone pillar, one foot square and six feet high. Ulfgar and I recognized that the pillar was crafted from an alchemically created stone called opalite that was typically used in magical devices.

“We should knock it over,” Ulfgar suggested, “and smash it.”

“I wonder what it's for,” Cyrus pondered, suggesting, “Let’s check out the rest of the room before we start messing with it.”

Further south, we found a young man cowering in the corner of another cell.

“Faquaniel,” I asked, “is this your companion?”

“He is not,” Faquaniel replied. “I know not this man.”

“Hey, psst,” Cyrus called to him. “Hey.”

The man lifted his head from his knees and looked up, revealing a human face.

“Who are you?” Cyrus asked.

The man scrambled to get to his feet, and said, “I’m Timor. Can you get us out of here? Have you come to rescue us?”

“Maybe,” Cyrus replied. “Yep. How many guards are there? Who's here?”

“I don't know these crazy bastards,” Timor replied. We got caught in some kind of teleport trap. I was teleporting with some wayfarers.”

“You're a wizard?” Cyrus asked.

“I am,” Timor replied. “We got caught in some kind of teleporting trap.”

“How long have you been here?” Cyrus asked.

“At least a week,” Timor shared, “if not more.”

“Have you seen them do anything with that,” Cyrus asked, pointing at the pillar.

Looking through the bars, Timor said, “I think that's the damn thing that captured us. I was here with my companion, but they took him and he threw him into the lava over there and killed him.”

“What?” Cyrus gasped.

“These bastards are crazy!” Timor said.

“Alright,” Cyrus replied, “we'll see if we can find the keys to get you out. We'll be back.”

“No, please don't leave me,” Timor cried. “Don’t leave me here!”

“Shut up,” Cyrus insisted. “Quiet, man. You’re gonna get us all caught.”

Ulfgar inspected all the other cells, which were bloodstained, but empty.

“Timor,” Ulfgar asked, “is that bridge the only way in or out?”

“I don't know,” Timor replied. “I got trapped in here and they threw me in this cage and I'm lucky to be alive.”

“Okay,” Ulfgar pressed, “and when they threw you in the cage, where did they go?”

“Well, as far as I could see,” Timor answered, “out that way. Past the bridge.”

“I think we've hit a dead end,” Cyrus warned. “There's no more doors. We're either missing a secret door or…”

“Or Lee’s invisible,” I speculated. “Or Lee’s hiding in the tomb. Or maybe Lee never came in here in the first place.”

“She said she saw him recently,” Cyrus corrected. “But yeah, we might have just missed him. He might have left before we got here.”

“Yeah, he took some kind of wand, right?” I corrected myself.

“Yeah,” Cyrus nodded. Alright, let’s free these wizards, and let's get the hell out of here.”

Kneeling in front of the cell door, Bernardo took a little packet out of his chest pocket, revealing some tools, and some unlocked the cell door.

“I may not have Dispel Magic,” Bernardo noted, “but I can do some other things.”

Bernardo repeated the process on the door of the cell with the pillar.

Uh, which is conductive of magic.

Cyrus patted Timor down, but found nothing suspicious on him.

“You both were transported here while you were teleporting,” I asked Faquaniel and Timor. “Is that right?”

“Yes, that's right,” they both confirmed.

“Were you harmed at all in that process?” I asked.

“I was not harmed,” they both confirmed.

“No burning?” Cyrus asked, “When you teleported?”

“We tried to teleport,” Timor explained. “We had some magical protection against the burning, which was helpful, but I still found myself quite singed getting pulled out of the teleportation. I was quite weak and I didn't wasn't able to put up much of a resistance.”

Bernardo examined the pillar and explained, “I see a glyph of warding here. Let me see if I can disarm it.”

Suddenly everything went silent around the cell.

A moment later, Bernardo jumped back as the cell quickly filled up with some sort of white foamy material.

Stepping out of the effects of the silence, Bernardo admitted, “Unfortunately, I guess I tripped the trap, which you may have noticed.”

“Are you okay?” Cyrus asked.

“Yeah, I'm fine,” Bernardo replied. “My pride is merely hurt more than anything else.”

“Do you think the pillar was destroyed in that?” Cyrus asked.

“I don't think so,” Bernardo explained, “and here's why. Because it's a glyph of warding that’s there, and it was non destructive.”

Cyrus nodded, “What do you think that foam is?”

“I'm not sure,” Bernardo admitted. “I wanted it to get away from it for a moment to see if it would have any other effects. We can take a look at it again shortly.”

“So we'll have to wait a bit and see if it goes away,” Cyrus agreed.

After about ten minutes, the effects of the silence went away and Bernardo returned to the pillar, and stabbed at the foam with his dagger. The foam was dry and brittle and fell away.

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