Life is a Coin
Thanks Sharon for the write up!
The trap now behind us, we take a moment to regroup before facing the large, open room before us. Morwen and Amalia treat Ulrich‘s injuries, while Lindy faces the room. Across the room she sees a man, by himself, next to a large stone altar. She recognizes his garb. It’s familiar, but it takes a moment for her to place it.
It’s formal robes from near her homeland. Lindy screams a sound of pure rage and transforms into snarling black bear that is foaming at the mouth with fury. The robed man smiles a cold smile and reaches up to place a hand on the pillar before him. The glass globe on top begins to glow, as do five others evenly spaced around the room. A static blue flicker crackles between them.
Aran fights through his confusion, having never seen Lindy transform before, and quickly casts two spells, one to show him the presence of magics in the area, and another that will slow missiles aimed at Lindy .
Ulrich, now healed of his injuries, points a finger at the robed man, but the magical energies that form around his hand dissipates and has no effect.
A brazier near the robed man lights up, as do three others in the other corners of the room. Behind the altar is a raised dais with a single man, richly robed, standing, observing the group. He smiles. A heavily armored man on the lower level turns to face the group.
Lindy charges, and as she passes between two pillars, a lightning bolt cracks between them, passing through her body and leaving the stench of burnt hair behind, but Lindy is focused on the robed man and does not even pause. She rakes the robed man across the chest, forcing him back against the wall.
The man on the dais laughs and raises his hands. Shadows in front of the alter coalesce into a wriggling mass of rats that splits into two groups, one going for Lindy , the other for rest of the party. Lindy sweeps some rats in an arch that splatters against the walls, but it makes no dent in the swarm, so she returns her attention to the robed man, and mauls him once more. His hands move and his lips form ancient words, and Lindy takes another swipe, but the robed man is determined, and Lindy freezes, immobile.
Amalia raises both hands and her voice in a sonorous chant that echoes through the chamber, granting her allies great fortitude in the face of oncoming dangers.
Aran crosses to the left of the entrance, ducking the crackling lightning and engaging a grey-robed cultist who has stepped out of the shadows. First it’s one, then two, then four as they pile out of a small side-chamber that the party hadn’t seen, but they are no match for Aran‘s quickness, and, with backup from Morwen’s darting rapier on the flanks, and Amalia’s covering fire from her longbow, he kicks their makeshift weapons out of their hands and drops them into a concussed heap of bruises, long arrows, and deep stabs on the stone floor.
The armored man steps away from his corner and charges towards Morwen , who’s just dropped a cultist, but he stumbles on his way through the rats underfoot, and his longsword falls from his hand as his arms pinwheel to keep himself on his feet. Ulrich, seeing his opportunity approaches the armored man and slaps his shoulder, and arcane lighting rips through him, but the man just snarls in anger, and grabs Morwen in a bone-crushing grip. Morwen starts singing her songs of courage, slightly muffled by the armored man’s hold.
Lindy roars from the corner and lurches back into motion. She refocuses on the robed man, ursine lips pulled back over bloody teeth. In a panic, the robed man magically hurls Lindy across the room, and she slides to a halt behind the armored man. The robed man breaks into a cloud of bats, and he retreats to the dais.
The armored man sinks his teeth into Morwen’s shoulder, she screams and her struggles get a bit weaker. The man on the dais speaks a sharp command in an arcane tongue, and sleet and ice chunks pelt the group. Amalia summons fire in both hands and hurls it at the rats, where it splashes like a liquid. Most of the rats die instantly, and the rest scatter to the corners, seeking dark places to hide from the carnage.
Aran turns away from his pile of cultist bodies and pulls a narrow wafer from his belt pouch. He lifts it over his head and breaks it in half, and the stored divine energy there ripples across the room. The man on the dais, the robed man, and the armored one all wince as though slapped, but do not stop.
From a corner as yet unsearched, a woman peels herself from the shadows. She is unseen as she lines herself up behind Lindy and plunges a dagger deep into her back. Ulrich summons his telekenetic powers and throws the woman up towards the man on the dais. His aim is a bit low, and the woman smacks into the railing and slides to the ground.
Lindy rakes both sets of claws across the armored man’s back, and he drops Morwen , who takes the opportunity to get some quick rapier thrusts in, and with one final hit, Lindy fells the armored man, who dissolves into a black ichor.
The woman gets to her feet and hops up onto the altar. She grips her dagger with both hands and leaps onto Lindy, once more driving the blade into her back. Ulrich crosses to Lindy and throws a fine grey powder over her and her matted fur hardens into a stone-like substance. He steps back, but the lightning globes strike him. Amalia fires several arrows into the woman, then crosses to Ulrich and summons a mighty healing energy, and his lightning burns fade.
Aran approaches the woman, but once he’s close enough to see her clearly in the gloom, he pales, and turns away, getting a final solid kick in at a cultist who had the gall to move. The man on the dais points his finger at Aran and four bolts of bright red energy shoot towards him, impacting his shoulders and chest.
Ulrich, on a throwing people spree, uses his telekenesis once more, this time lifting Lindy into the air and throwing her towards the man on the dais, Lindy hit him head on, forcing him back a step. Lindy reverts to her human form, looking exhausted and unfocused, but her eyes land on the man in front of her and she draws her greatsword in a flash.
Back on the lower level, Morwen’s flashing sword has pierced the woman in several places, and she falls to the ground. She sprints towards the dais, jumping onto the altar and leaping towards the railing, pulling herself over in one quick motion. Aran runs straight up the wall and is behind the man within seconds. The robed man, seeing this, dissolves into a mist and attempts to flee, but Ulrich spots him, and points his hand at the cloud, unleashing a bolt of lightning that hits it squarely, dispersing the mist into a fine rain of black ichor that falls on the stones.
Amalia summons a swirling mass of dark clouds with nascent lightning rumbling deep within them. She smiles and points at the man and a powerful bolt arcs down to him. Ulrich magically gathers the scattered weapons and debris from the ground into a single massive ball of steel and edges and throws it at the man. He staggers but does not fall.
The man strikes Lindy with a solid blow and with his other hand, grabs Aran by the throat and lifts him from the ground.
Ulrich gathers up the dead cultists into a meaty mass that he hurls into the man. This time the man slowly starts to petrify, hardening into a protective shell, Aran still dangling from his hand, croaking and trying to loosen the stony grip.
Lindy pulls back and thrusts her greatsword directly into his heart. The first thrust is minor, but she leans her full weight into the blow and forces the sword in further until its hilt halts its travel, the point of the sword gone all the way through his chest and now inches from Aran’s nose. The man dissolves into dust and Aran drops to the stones.
Lindy reaches down to the robes that have crumpled to the ground. She pulls out a gruesome string of ears, many dried and mummified with age, but some still fresh and moist. A twinkling brass earring in one of the older ears catches her eye. She rolls it between her fingers pensively, then ties the whole string to her belt with a single satisfied nod and a grim smile. She also finds a small leather bag with some coins minted in the mainland. These she pockets.
The party searches the side chambers, and in one of them finds a considerable amount of gold, a pair of leather gloves of superior craftsmanship, a black cloak with silver embroidery, a mace, a shield, and a carved and twisted horn, straight rather than curved like most. There is also a small leather pouch that contains a scrap of paper and some coins from Ornthalas. This is given to Amalia .
In the other room, Mires is found to be deeply asleep. When roused, he has no idea where he is, or how he got here. Aran shows him the journal that the party found in his room, and Mires says that he’s dreamed of this place, but had no idea that it was real.
Amalia shows the paper scrap to Aran, who also has no idea what is written upon it, nor in what language it was written. He shows it to Lindy and Morwen . Lindy correctly identifies the writing as “words,” but Morwen immediately calls it out as the names of music notes. She gives the paper a couple of reads through, them hums the notes written there. Back in the trapped passage, the runes glow in sequence up the hallway and back, and when tested, there are no spears, and no poison. No traps.
The way now made safe, we return to above ground to report to Walthas.