The party has collected all three magical gems and begin to make their way down to the altar room. As they reach the staircase, a disturbingly tall dwarf greets them, his head haloed in a faint golden glow. He explains that he is looking for something – and will stick with the party until he finds what he is looking for. He identifies himself as Ditran and is briefly questioned by Alvyn and Rhogar, who are suspicious of the figure suddenly appearing amidst a deadly dungeon, however he doesn’t seem to know much about Edgar and definitely does not appear to be a member of his gang, so they continue together.
With this new member in tow, they progress back to the altar room. They are faced with the challenge of a chasm splitting them from the altar. Leshanna provides Rhogar a grappling hook and some rope, which they tie to his bow and fire at a crumbling pillar across the room. Using a second piece of rope, they fashion a harness and one by one make their way across the chasm.
Placing the three gems in their inserts in the pedestal the party watches the heavy doors at nearby expectantly. . . . . As nothing happens. Then the dwarf steps forward and places a key in a slot in the door and it slides open with a rumbling groan of process.
Inside the hallway narrows to an octagonal room with a portal in the center. Before the party can contemplate it, their guide rushes in.
Rhogar, having protected him this far, charges in after him. . . . . only to reappear facing the party! Alvyn whips his dagger out and races in under Rhogar’s arm. He emerges in a dark room, in the dim light he sees movement scurrying around.
Strange noises and a terrifying scuffling as a scorpion comes charging out of the darkness. Alvyn shrieks, though nobody can hear him do so. A stinger towering higher than his head waves in the air behind the giant insect as it chitters closer… closer…
Rhogar jumps back through the portal and emerges in pitch blackness. He invokes the hidden magic in his bow and ignites the arrow in the notch. The room springs into light but there is no Alvyn in site. He lets off a snap shot at an insectoid creature near the edge of the circle of light. The arrow snaps off the stone walls high and wide,then extinguishes itself as it careens off into the darkness.
... Alvyn leaps out of the way as the scorpions stinger whistles through the air above where his head had been. Seconds later, Leshanna, Izzussan and Alek burst through the portal behind him. Leshanna and Izzussan get stung as they try and flank the scorpion, and are instantly gripped by paralysis. The Dithan the dwarf erupts into the fray, but is immediately knocked back through the portal.
On the other side of the world, Rhogar reloads his bow in time to see the sweeping arc of the scorpion’s stinger come crashing down upon him. He brings the bow up just in time to deflect the poisonous stinger.
Cliff and Elmiria pop out of the portal next to Rhogar’s insect and set upon it.
Then the arrows start. From the darkness fly a hail of destruction, breaking upon the party like wave over rock. Or rather – they would be, had their senders had any of their former ability. Luckily, they lost much in their deaths, and only mere flesh wounds ensue.
The battle develops slowly from there. Each yard into the room seems to come at the cost of personal injury. A long, ongoing battle of attrition begins.
Leshanna’s fire blast erases a half dozen of the lumbering hulks in a tight circle near a bend in the room. She follows this quickly by summoning a bright glowing orb that finally illuminates the room… and its dozens of inhabitants.
Izzussan charges forward into the midst of several bow-wielding horrors, bringing a hail of arrows down upon him for this troubles. He ducks and weaves to avoid the hailstorm, but cannot avoid the full onslaught. An arrow pierces his leg, and he falls to his knees. Still, he struggles to keep his balance and smashes through the ribcage of one of the skeletons. It sags under its own weight and collapses atop its bow. Another arrow finds the soft skin underneath his arm protector as he brings his sword back. He cringes and manages to hold onto the sword as his arm falls useless at his side, blood running freely down his hand and filling the links between his chainmail. Izzussan grunts, grasping at the emblem on the front of his shield. This subtle gesture saves his life, as a fatal arrow bound for his heart deflects off the edge of his shield. The remaining skeleton beside him finishes clumsily reloading its bow, pulls back the string and levels the arrowhead at Izzussan’s face from mere inches away. Izzussan tries to raise his shield, but the last of his strength has left him. He utters a final prayer, and prepares for the end. His world explodes in a flash of heat and light, and his body falls to the ground.
Leshanna watches her magic missile lift the pile of bones off its feet, shattering the bow and half the bones in its body. The remains of the creature falls forward, and the skull crashes atop Izzussan’s head. She watches as he collapses, but does not have time to stop as she hurries around the corner in the room to take out the remaining archers.
Alek sees Izzussan collapse and races forward to help him. Invoking a soothing tone, she begins to sing. Her song rouses Izzussan into a groggy semi-consciousness, enough to invoke an oath to his goddess. Strength fills his body again and he struggles to his feet like a machine re-oiled for the first time after ages of disuse.
Alvyn meanwhile brings to an end the remaining skeleton in the side entry to the room. The creature lunges, sword in hand, towards the gnome only to find that not only is he missing, but his skulls has been separated from his body. The lower portion collapses as Alvyn flicks his wrist and dislodges the undead skull from his short sword.
Meanwhile, Elmiria, Rhogar and Cliff have cleared the far side corridor. As they come around the face the main room, Cliff charges forward into the midst of a throng of enemies. Rhogar shouts a warning and looses a flaming error in the direction of Cliff’s engagement. The arrow ignites a large covering of inflammable moss, wiping a number of archers off the face of the world. Again. Cliff dives out of the way, but too slowly. His fur takes a singing from the blast. However, the tide seems to be turning.
The party, now finally aware they are in the same place, fight their way to the dais in the middle of the room. When at last they meet up, and the last pile of bones returns to the underworld from whence it came, they take a well needed breather. Cliff and Izzussan are breathing heavily, barely still on their feet. Leshanna nurses a hideous gash across the side of her face. Elmiria’s hand is swollen and in pain. A shining gem sits amid the center of the dais, but goes largely unnoticed as the party collapses into a well-needed rest around the alter it sits upon.
Hours pass. Blood begins to clot, salves are applied, and the wounds of battle slowly begin to mend under care and attendance. Finally, the adventurers get to their feet and get set to finish their quest. Rhogar reaches forward, and before Izzussan can shout NOOOO, grabs the gem from its resting place.
The air grows suddenly very stale, the lights in the room all go out, and moaning can be heard from the darkness. Rhogar ignites his bow in time to see a shimmering figure in midair a few feet away. The figure erupts into flame, and then the singed arrow falls to the ground, its flight interrupted.
The party spins around so their backs face the altar, and fight.
The creatures in the darkness reach forward,groping just as blindly as the adventurers try to fend them off. Where they meet skin, the flesh seems to whither and age instantaneously.
From the darkness, a hideous, sickening sound can be heard. Cracking, popping and groaning accompanied by a sickly wet SLAP SLAP-A-DAP. Like someone beating a bowl of rice crispies with a wet pool noodle. In the brief flashes of light, red eyes glare from the abyss… coming closer…
Leshanna encounters the creature first. Before she can make out what the mass of limbs and decaying extremities is, it holds her fast. She fights against it, but it holds tight. Stabbing wildly, she manages to squeeze free as a flaming arrow from Rhogar blasts the creature in the center of its rolling mass. The rest of the party quickly finishes it.
Moments later, a second one appears and Rhogar is caught in its web. Alek takes a blast at it, but the creature moves Rhogar in the way and takes the full brunt of the attack. He doesn’t bother fighting the creature’s hold, rather unleashes a flurry of arrows blindly into it as his world slowly dims before his eyes.
The rest of the party focuses on the remaining apparations. They struggle to defeat them, most of their strikes passing right through their airy forms.
Finally, more and more of them cease to be altogether. Alvyn rescues Rhogar at the last moment with a flurry of strikes to the creature’s rear.
At long last, they are alone again. The room is silent. The party has time to catch their breath. And yet… something does not seem right. . . . .