Previously in our story...
"I died by misadventure..." - unknown
With the unfortunate fairy pinned to the wall with the trident, the lizard king turned his attentions to the party. Fife and Osman reacted immediately with ranged attacks, aiming for the figure's face. Ishmael stepped in to grab the trident so that he could attack as well, and the lizard king also stepped forward to grab the weapon so that he could attack Shalev. I got to the weapon first, though, and while I was able to successfully able to pull it out of the wall, it was too heavy for me to wield with the body of the fairy still on the end.
Tobias ran over to where the lizard king had stepped out of the mosaic, and he began smashing the tiles with his mace to prevent anything else from stepping through the image. Shalev attacked the lizard king directly, but was unable to score a successful hit, much to his growing frustration. Osman and Fife both did hit successfully, and when Fife's spear struck him in the eye, the lizard king turned to face Fife directly causing the impaled spear to wobble grotesquely. The lizard king did not appear to be concerned by the damage he was taking, but the party kept up their attacks regardless.
I had lowered the trident and the body of the fairy as gently as possible to the ground, and Lan ran over to help me see what could be done, if anything. The trident was wickedly barbed, however, and we saw that removing the weapon would cause much more damage to the fairy. The fairy was definitely dead, at least as far as we could tell. Not wanting to cause further harm, we elected to leave the trident where it was, and I did what I could to clean the wounds gently.
Osman took aim again to shoot the lizard king with another round of arrows. Ishmael moved to grab the spear that was stuck in the thing's eye, but missed his mark, instead shifting his titanic grip to a grappling move to try to pick the lizard king up and throw him. The lizard king also groped for the spear to remove it, but not before Tobias got to him. Tobias grabbed the embedded spear and twisted it viciously. Fife threw yet another spear, and managed to hit the lizard king in the other eye.
The lizard king continued to grope for the spears, and grabbed one of them, yanking it - and his eye- out. I looked up from my work with the fairy to blink in disgust as I saw the lizard king yank his eye off of the spear before tossing the weapon negligently to the ground. Again, he turned to look at Fife, and again the spear that was still stuck into his face swiveled nauseatingly.
Shalev at this point, having had enough of his missed attacks, drew his holy sword and attacked the lizard king with a cry of fury. This time he hit, and sparks flew as his sword lodged in the side of the lizard king's head. Ishmael then reached out to grab the remaining spear while the lizard king was distracted. Ishmael pushed the spear, as Shalev pulled to try to free his sword, and the lizard king... or what we thought was the lizard king.. crumbled into a pile of mosaic tiles and rubble.
I was still tending to the body of the fairy, and Lan moved over so that she and Osman could work together to summon the fairy folk to deal with their fallen kin. Tobias stepped up then and demanded that we pull the trident out of the fairy to give to him. I argued with him stating my disapproval in defacing the body or showing any further disrespect. I also cautioned that anyone holding the trident might be associated as complicit in the death of their kin. He glared hotly at me, and said that he didn't care, the weapon was his and he wanted it.
He has never argued like this before, especially with me, and I was taken aback at his callous attitude. I held my ground though, and refused to let him remove the trident, and he stalked off to the other side of the room. I eyed him carefully as he stormed away, wondering at his sudden display of temper, and worrying that there might be some sort of curse affecting his psyche. I had the thought to ask Lan to check Tobias when she had a chance, as she had done with Stephen, for signs of induced madness, when my contemplation was interrupted by the sound of a thousand trumpets.
The party startled, putting hands to weapons to ready for the next round of fighting whatever it was, but quickly realized that it was the fairy throng answering the call that Lan and Osman had sent out. We stood down, remaining wary, but trying to appear as non-threatening as our group is capable of being.
We watched as an army of fairy warriors wearing shining layan armor rode through the nearest wall astride silver horses. Row after row after row of them appeared, and one warrior/guard rode ahead of the others. He stopped before the body of the fallen fairy, looked at me, then down at him. He unceremoniously yanked the trident from the body, then stabbed him through the heart with a shining blade. I made a cry of concern, but the warrior ignored me completely, simply saying "He's certainly dead now." He reached out and placed a bar of some sort of dark metal into the wound, stating "...and this will keep him from coming back."
He then moved away as simpler dressed fairy folk bundled the corpse into an odd burlap type fabric, and tied it closed with a simple rope of the same material. They tied the body to a drab brown horse, and the warrior/guard slapped the horse on the rump to send it galloping off toward the west.
The army turned then and began to march back through the wall, and a beautiful fairy woman rode toward the party. She came up to us and said "I cannot guarantee your safety, but the balance is in our favor now, so we will keep an eye on you." Then she turned, and followed the shining throng back into the mists. As the mists dissipated, the solid wall reappeared, and Lan was left staring after them in wonder. I looked down, seeing the trident still on the floor, and I picked it up.
I carried the trident over to where Tobias stood with his arms crossed, glowering smugly, and I dropped it at his feet with a pointed look. I tilted my head slightly and raised an eyebrow at his continued display of almost childish temper, before turning and walking away without a word. I am disappointed, as I had thought him above such things and I forget, sometimes, that he is so very very young. Regardless, he has his new toy now, and I hope it serves him well. Lan said that it felt sort of magical when she looked at it, but it may be a magic that faded with the death of the image that wielded it. Time will tell there.
We searched through the rubble and remains, but did not find anything of interest or of value. Shalev took a step over, and looked into the other hallway that we had not yet explored. He saw another mosaic, this one depicting another image of the lizard king, this time holding a long bow in one hand and the leash for three gigantic hunting hounds in another. They faced off with a massive snarling ape creature. As Shalev looked, he also saw a stack of corpses at the far end of the hallway, the remains of those unfortunate adventurers who had come in times before.
The party began discussing whether or not to step into the room to bring the mosaic to life. Shalev mentioned that the bow this image of the lizard king might be useful, and the discussion ranged to whether or not the fight would be worth it in the long run.
KelLyn, who had been oddly reluctant in the previous encounter, suddenly stepped forward and offered to simply destroy the magic on the mosaic. Not wanting to deal with yet another fight, the party agreed to let her work. She spent several moments considering the mosaic, and then began building circles of power. Circle after circle she traced into the floor, until, standing in the center of four concentric rings, we could see the sparks arcing and popping around her. She then reached out one crackling hand, and leaning across, but not stepping over, the threshold, simply touched the edge of the mosaic. There was a rumble and the mosaic crumbled off of the wall with a crash. Her spell radiated out down the entire length of the hallway, destroying any magic that it touched. Two arrow traps fell from the ceiling, and several of the corpses at the end of the hallway were thrown off of the pile as the magic items they bore exploded into useless ash.
KelLyn dusted off her hands, and shrugged off the loss of the potentially useful magical items in an almost uncharacteristic act for her, saying simply that "At least we didn't have to deal with fighting anything else." She assured us that the hallway was perfectly safe to enter now that all of the magic was removed, and Ishmael cautiously crept over to where the arrow traps had fallen. He examined them carefully, then proceeded to thoroughly dismantle them to remove the springs and mechanisms from them. He gathered about twenty of the coiled wire pieces, which he safely tucked away into a belt pouch. We examined the rest of the room, but there was nothing else remaining on the remains of the adventurers, so we all moved back over to the central hallway where the feast mosaic remained.
We all stepped into the room, and were instantly greeted by servile lizard men who welcomed us to the feast and offered to serve us. Shalev asked them in genteel fashion to feed Amit, and then kept them distracted with talk of foods and foreign dishes while the rest of the party cautiously explored the room. Ishmael asked them then for some of their strongest alcohol, and they said that the strongest and best was reserved for guests of the lizard king. They asked then if we were said guests, and Shalev replied that yes we were looking forward to seeing him shortly. The lizard servants, missing the meaning behind his words entirely, and being easily convinced that we were here for the feast, happily produced three dusty bottles of some sort of brandy.
The table was set with gold, and piled high with food and delicacies of every imagining. At the head of the table, there was a great wooden throne, gilded with gold leaf. Ishmael walked up to the wooden seat, and asked politely if he could sit there. The lizard men just stared blankly at him, and when he heard no admonition to stop, he moved the chair out to take a seat at the table. As soon as he moved the chair, a door underneath opened up, revealing a set of dark stone stairs leading down into yet another level of this seemingly endless place. We all looked cautiously, but the lizard men continued to serve unperturbed by the sudden revelation of the stairway.
I asked Tobias, still somewhat cautious of his recent display of temper, if he would look into the dark to see what could be seen. He said that the stairs emerged into a dark hallway, but could see nothing else otherwise. Shalev secured a rope to Fife, and Fife explored down the stairs to check for traps and pitfalls. He made it the fifty feet down to the floor below, and there were no traps or anything else to bee seen. The rest of the party followed him down shortly after and we saw a room with black stone doors in the center of the far wall. On either side of the doors was a great black stone basin filled with water. As soon as we had made our way down the stairs, the food and drink that had come from the feast table vanished as if it had never existed.
Shalev, being cautious of the basins, moved in to listen at the doors. He heard chanting, and quickly, quietly stepped back to whisper to Lan a request to use her sphere to see if she could determine who was inside the room. Osman also moved forward to listen, as he could speak the tongue of the lizard men, but he was unable to determine how many lay beyond.
Lan pulled out her shiny sphere at stared at it for a long moment, when suddenly she turned into a misty cloud and flowed under the doors into the room behind them, leaving behind her orb which glowed and pulsed gently. The rest of the party was completely taken aback, as this is the first time that we had ever seen her do this particular feat. After a moment, the misty cloud eased back under the door, and Lan reappeared to the party, telling us that she had seen three priests on a dais surrounded by chanting lizard men. She also noted with a grim smile that the head priest leading the ritual was the same priest that had attacked us in the count's court at the beginning of this whole adventure. The party quietly discussed options and strategies for attack, and after agreeing on a plan, Ishmael grabbed the doors and yanked them quickly open.
Tobias and Shalev moved immediately into the room to attack the high priest. Having the element of surprise on our side, Ishmael dashed into the room to look for a circle to destroy, interrupting the ritual in progress. Fife threw three prepared spears with wicked accuracy at the three priests, aiming each for the base of the intended victim's skull. I used my bow to fire at each of the priests as well. My first shot missed, but Fife was successful, striking the priest on the left. Tobias rammed into the high priest - the one one in the center - and pinned him to the wall behind him over the altar with the trident. He was not able to control his speed during the attack, however, and also impaled himself on the butt end of the weapon.
Ishmael, finding no circles or ritual implements to destroy, snarked at the other two priests "Seriously? Nothing?" and then waded into the nearby lizard men to begin grappling and brawling with the group.
Osman's arrows were successful, and I made a mental note to ask him to help hone my own skill with a bow once we were safely away from this place. The high priest was still pinned to the wall, and not moving, and Tobias struggled to free himself without exacerbating the injuries he had received. I shifted my second shot to avoid hitting Tobias, and that arrow also skittered away harmlessly. Fife took the opportunity to spear the high priest a second time, and just barely managed to miss hitting Tobias as well. Shalev stepped in and decapitated the left hand priest with a single blow, and I lowered my bow, as I no longer had a target to shoot. Fife threw a spear at the right hand priest, and again successfully hit, although this priest was armored, so the spear did little damage.
Osman shifted his arrow attacks to the remaining priest, and Shalev moved over to help extricate Tobias from the trident. Fife used his spears again, this time aiming for the back of the head of the remaining priest. He hit, but the priest was able to complete a spell successfully anyway. The lizard men in the room were oddly unmoved by the attacks happening around them, and continued their chanting with their heads bowed. I took the opportunity to come up to the three nearest to me, taking them out silently with a knife to each throat.
At that moment, I heard Tobias scream loudly, and I looked up to see the remaining priest grab him and twist him violently on the trident, almost spinning him around. Tobias passed out from the shock of the attack, and Shalev swung out with deadly precision to remove the offending priest's head from his shoulders. Tobias fell unconscious off of the trident to the floor, and the dead priest's armor began to crack and groan alarmingly. Shalev, hearing the cracking and groaning begin in his own sword as well, and remembering the dread paladin from the upper floors, quickly cast a dispell on the armor to render it inert, and it fell to pieces harmlessly to the floor, leaving his sword unharmed. He then knelt down to give Tobias one of the major healing potions, bringing him back to full health.
Ishmael waded into the still oblivious lizard men, smashing and brawling effortlessly, dropping all five of the group he was engaged with into a pile. The rest of the lizard men in the room realized then what was happening, and looked around in terror before they bolted towards the door and up the stairs into the room with the feast mosaic. Tobias and Amit chased after them, only to come to the top of the stairs in time to see fifty armed lizard men step out of the feast time mosaic.
Tobias and Amit retreated quickly back down the stairs, and Shalev commented that he didn't think they would come down here. I cautioned that such an assumption was foolish to make, and Lan and Osman began summoning elementals to aid us. They summoned opposing creatures of fire and water, however, and the two immediately began to fight one another. Osman dismissed his water elemental quickly, and Lan grabbed up the diminutive fire elemental and commanded it to go upstairs and burn all the things. Ishmael went up with her to provide protection, and was able to use his armor to deflect all of the ranged attacks from the lizard men. The elemental tried to burn things, as it was commanded to do, but nothing would catch as all of the armed lizard men were made of the same mosaic stone. She dismissed the elemental, and she and Ishmael also retreated back down the stairs.
She told the party quickly about the stone nature of the army, and KelLyn once again offered to destroy the magic holding it together. Ishmael followed her up to provide cover while she cast, and again she created circle after circle to concentrate her power. Four concentric rings later, and she once again began to spark visibly with power. She cast the spell, and the mosaic and stone lizard men disintegrated into dust. The six remaining lizard men looked on horrified, and Ishmael ran in to smash them to death. KelLyn fell then to one knee, panting slightly with the statement "That's tiring. I want beer." and then cast a quick spell to create a keg of beer. She over cast, however, and the keg exploded, thankfully only causing minimal damage. She grumbled "dammit, I'm going to have a beer." and etched a quick circle in the ground before trying again. This time she was successful, and a keg of moderate dark beer appeared which Tobias promptly tapped open.
While she sat against the remains of the wall sipping happily on her beer, the rest of us searched through the room below to see what we could find. We discovered a shattered staff which was good for nothing but firestarter, a set of crushed armor, and a combat hammer in good condition. Shalev noted that there were some kind of runes etched around the hammer, and he promptly handed it to Ishmael who gleefully declared that he could read dwarven. As Ishmael studied the hammer, his eyes grew wide, and he whispered the translation of the runes out loud "From Uzerik's Forge". I remembered where I had heard the name, when Ishmael had picked up the power to sing from the Island of Prometheus, and I glanced at him curiously. He looked again at the hammer with dawning awe on his face, and tucked it safely into his belt loop.
In the scouring of the room, Shalev noticed three levers against the far wall behind the altar. He stepped away from the levers quickly, muttering about how everything in this cursed place was trapped, and I stepped forward to take a look at them. After a careful scrutiny, I saw that all three connected into the altar somehow, but the center lever had a different connection than the other two. I mentioned this to the rest of the party, and offered to tie a rope around the lever so that it could be safely pulled from across the room. Fife made a derisive sound at this, however, and telling everyone to step back, reached out to yank the lever down.
When he did this, the arrow trap at the rear of the room activated, striking him in the back, and dropping him instantly. KelLyn, Lan, and I moved over to do what we could to keep him alive. KelLyn looked once at the arrow, pulling it out before saying that it was a magical arrow, and then she once again began drawing circles on the ground to create a well of power for Lan to use her magical skills in healing. Four circles later, and she stepped back indicating to Lan that she could proceed with her part of the spell. Lan concentrated for a moment and then cast her spell. Fife's body glowed a sickly green color, but began to obviously heal.
She sat back with a satisfied sigh and said that she had done what she could, but it would not be a good idea to move him until the spell had done it's work. We made camp to keep a vigil while he continued to improve, and KelLyn and Lan immediately fell into a deep, exhausted sleep.
Ishmael sat down to study his new hammer, and asked as well to study my sword further. He still declares, somewhat irately, that the blade I wield should not be possible, but he has agreed to try to repair it if he can. The patterns in the blade fascinate him, and I see him trying to figure out it's make every time he looks at it.
Osman used the down time to study the book of demons that he picked up in the library earlier, and Shalev likewise used his time to study the book detailing the types of undead. I asked him if he would mind letting me borrow it, or even read it to me, as my grasp of the common language is not a fluent one yet. He agreed to help me with the translations, and we both have the thought that this book might prove useful in determining what we still face here in the depths of this place.
I go back and think on the riddle we were given, and wonder still at what may lie ahead. I also continue to study my own books and language, to see what secrets may be revealed to me. It is odd to think of my language as circular, and I do not know if anyone has done so in the past. There is a certain rhythm to it, however, that lets me believe that I am on the right track with my studies.
I can't help but marvel at the amount of power that KelLyn has used over this past day, and also can't help but wonder at what the toll is for such a casual display. It is obviously unhealthy to move that much power so quickly, and it bothers me greatly to see her do so without a care. I also wonder at what she draws the power from. It bears contemplating, though I am not a mage, and I doubt that she would take my advice gracefully.
The lizard king remains to be found, along with who knows what else we may encounter here. The pile of corpses of past adventurers above lead me to believe that perhaps we are the first to make it so far. It does not bode well for what lies ahead, though, so I continue to pray for guidance and strength that we make it through this alive. This far underground, in such a hostile temple, I have very slim connection to my god and goddess. I hope they hear me, even quietly, and look forward to being quit of this place once and for all.