“RUN!!!!” yelled Zy’an, “JUST RUN!!!! There are too many of them!”
“But which way, blast it?!!!” Yelled Areai. “If we take a wrong turn, I could easily miss the season’s new line of shoes.” Typically, she was the only one giggling at her joke, all the while stabbing a beast with large slashing claws where arms should have been. The thing was clearly another of Melf’s creations. Behind it in the dark passage came other monstrosities pouring in from unseen tunnels. Each as demented and horrific as the next. Zy’an was right, they were running out of time.
A sound whizzed near Iricah’s head and she ducked something in the darkness. She didn’t have time to light her torch. She swung her rapier below, her bags twirling around her. She felt the blade find a home, and as one of Frank’s spells sizzled by her, she saw her weapon instantaneously lopping off a fleshy glob. She saw just enough of it to think it might have been the head of a creature but it was impossible to tell. It was peeling itself off the wall, just as they backed up beyond it. “The place is coming alive!!! Move it. Move it, people!!!” She hollered. Several of them were wounded, and Frank tried to call the Flame’s holy power, but he was exhausted. He had little will to give.
The birds, Frank. The birds.
Shuffling as quickly as they could, those more heavily armored physically or mentally moved to the front of the battle. Frank heard Zy’an’s call and wished he could give more aid to those hurt. He had grown to trust this ragtag assortment of personalities, and he knew that many of them had started to see more of him, just as Tiresias once did. But there were limits to the power he could call forth, whether his mentor believed it or not. So there in the darkened passage, while the others attacked creatures from Melf’s nightmarish imagination, he did what he could do. He willed his hands to pull harder as he helped Areia drag Thrak along the floor. His thick red blood left a trail behind him. His tail no longer swishing under him.
“Ahead, there’s a chamber!” called Zy’an. He was followed by the little man named Lood, they had just met. But Lood wasn’t helping much. Zy’an helped pull Thrak to a stand, using the only thing he could reach in order to help the other two. It took all three of their might. “Thrak, muster your strength, we need you!”
“If you would sssstop twisting my tail around, I could help mysssellfff!” he hissed moving backwards, while Frank and the others fought the demons. One would fall, but others took it’s place, whether crawling on the floor, walls or ceiling. Thrak tried to keep his balance, while simultaneously he put his taloned claw into something from his little sack. It was a potion bottle, and with a little snap he inserted a nail into the top, twisting the cork out of the bottle. He poured it into his throat, and several of his wounds began to close. But not fully.
Zy’an saw the others racing forward and knew they wouldn’t make it. As he had before, he turned to the attackers. Shadowy wings grew from his back and his eyes blazed with dark energy. Several of the creatures shrieked and turned away. It gave them the time they needed.
“RUN!!!!!!!!” He moved backwards, punching, kicking, he was a flurry of blows, bouncing from wall to wall.
With Thrak running now, they made it into a huge chamber, and sealed the door just in time, as a horde of beasts came hurtling, twisting upon them. It looked like something out of a twisted vision, some demon’s dream, as though beasts were sewn together to make new ones. Owls with bears, and others that had swordlike appendages. Frank, Thrak and Zy’an shoved their weight against another large stone Kasillian door. Click.
Her back against the door, Iricah listened to the things claw outside, trying to get in. The simple clicking sound of so vast a door wasn’t making her feel very good, but after a worrisome minute, it became obvious nothing was getting in, at least not right now. She felt herself breathe in, air filling her lungs. But is was so foul and metallic, she immediately wanted to spit it back out. She wasn’t sure how long she had held it. Around her, and above her was empty space. It was dark, and stuffy. The air smelled like heated metal. She drew her torches out, and lit one. Instantly, a great chamber came into view. Round, with symbols and etchings. The room was grand, over 50 feet high, and devoid of much except a floor with runes traced in a circle upon the floor. In the center of these runes lay a ring of concentric circles, matched by the same on the side of the wall opposite them.
“What do you make of this, Iricah?” asked Zy’an.
“It’s another teleporter,” said the bard. “I do believe this may be the way out. But there is no way to tell.”
“Well, we haven’t much time,” said Thrak, wiping away blood from his snarling mouth. “We may have to rissssk it.”
“Wait!” called Zy’an. He was squatting over one of the symbols set in the floor around the teleporter. “Iricah, what are your thoughts about these markings?”
Iricah and Areia came to stand next to the one that Zy’an was studying. “I have never seen these. They are unfamiliar to me.”
“It is the symbol of fire,” said Lood in his elderly voice. “This,” he walked to the others, “Is ice, then water, then sun, lightning, thunder. And so on.”
“But why? What are they doing there?”
“Well, it’s obvious isn’t it,” began the old man. “Just….,” he looked confused, “just not to me. Oh dear.”
“Well, I love that we invited our friends for cocktails, but I’m stepping out ladies,” chuckled Areia. She moved to the teleporter, and before anyone could comment further, she stood upon the inner circle. Quickly, the outline of the portal from the opposite wall began to glow, and a wrenching grinding sound chiseled it’s way in their ears. It was as if some mechanism below their feet was trying to work, but couldn’t.
And then the larger circle under Areias’ feet began to rise! Areia, in a rare state, looked puzzled, but only for a moment. She walked around, peering down at the rising columns of metal holding up the stone platform by some magic or engineering.
“Finally, you guys put me on a pedestal!” she called out. “But Iricah, I thought this thing was a teleporter!”
Iricah didn’t answer. She was staring straight at the center of the rising disk. Under it, rising also was a man, a giant man, completely made of metal. A giant statue made of dark iron. Bang! The disk came to it’s full height some 40 feet above their heads. Areia, peering over the edge saw the others watching whatever Iricah was.
The giant metal man’s face was molded into an expressionless gaze, uncaring, unkind, unsympathetic. It’s eyes were closed, or open, it’s mouth was the same. And before they had time to think, there was a loud creak, as one massive leg stepped forward and the metal golem moved outwards.
Areia jumped down upon it’s back, trying to slice into it with her daggers. Her daggers barely pierced the hard metal.
“MOVE!!!!!!” roared Frank. But too late, the construct was so large it easily reached him, slamming a great hand down upon him, Frank knocked backwards some many feet, sliding into a heap, trying to regain his footing, and the air that was taken from him. With the other hand it reached out for an open mouthed Iricah, picked her up and threw her to the floor like a rag doll.
Iricah bordered on the unconscious with the pain of the assault she had just taken. Lying upon the ground, she knew she had only moments to prepare a spell, something, anything that could save herself. She knew the others would come to her aid, at least some of them, but she couldn’t bare the thought of another dying for her. Again.
Her fingers dripping with her own blood, she pointed to the glowing portal on the far wall. Zy’an saw her, and shouted, “No Iricah! No!!!! You musn’t. You don’t know what is there, you may be…”
Iricah vanished just before the golem’s hand struck the floor with a mighty thud, sending rock shards flying outwards. One struck Lood, who fell upon the chamber floor.
There came a time in the battle with the golem (which Areia would henceforth call “Rusty”), when each of them bordered on death. Zy’an remembered how the giant’s unblinking, unfeeling face stared down at him, breathing a noxious cloud of vapor that enveloped his friends. How he fought on, while others fell, and then, how the golem looked to him. How the fists, like great battering rams made the earth bounce, how the world grew dark, after his eyes closed.
There once was a monk named Xy’an,
Who was said to have quite a wingspan.
He had hair like the sky,
Kissed his monastery goodbye,
But in Cellinor found a new clan.
And although each knew their own demise was near, each knew something else. They knew they were not alone. Areia couldn’t explain it, but as she was thrown from the back of “Rusty”, she struck the wall and felt the life dwindling from her, but just as so, she heard a voice, a voice inside her own head. It was Iricah, the voice. But not the power. The power was something else. Someone else.
There once was a half elf named Aeria,
Who thought gold a universal panacea.
Her party members impart
Riches come from the heart
She laughed, what a stupid idea!
Frank had managed to stand, his feet wobbling. Here he would stand his ground, as his friends had. He had just seen two of his party fall, the old man Lood struck, possibly dead. Iricah was gone. He looked to Thrak and nodded. There was nothing to say, only that which to do. By the Light, I will vanquish you! He roared inside his head. The golem crossed the room in a matter of a few steps. And to his utter surprise, Frank found the will, his power returning to him, but it wasn’t the familiar strength of the flame. No! It was something else. Another. And he heard the voice too, in a ridiculous chant. He couldn’t explain it and knew he didn’t need to. He only needed to fight on, and that he did!
There once was a cleric named Frank,
Of the Order of Flame devout rank.
He sometimes transformed
Sprouted Ketian horns,
But in his Light the Darkness shrank
Thrak swished his axes. He was thrilled to be engaged with such a thing. What trophy could this mighty thing have was his only thought, and lunging forward, Iricah’s verse filled his mind as well.
There once was a lizardman named Thrak,
Who liked to chop stuff with his axe.
Things here and there
Vanished into thin air
And wound up in Thrak’s bag of snacks.
“NOW!!!” yelled Frank, somehow knowing the others could hear him as well. At the same time, Areia the clever, and Zy’an the mysterious, Thrak the brave, and Frank the goodly, struck the golem in the same leg, sending it falling before them!!!
Areia jumped upon it, and nimbly crept through it’s flailing fists, she spun and sunk her magical daggers into the metallic joint of it’s neck. Black liquid sprayed outward as she stabbed again and again until the it’s huge arms fell against the stone, the massive metal body lying still at last.
And just then, the glowing portal peeled away from the wall, and behind it stood Iricah.
This way she said smiling. She was holding two fingers to her temple. But she didn’t say it out loud, and somehow, they all heard her.