This is a snapshot copy of Planewalker before our recent database crash. Please go to www.planewalker.com for the current site.

Game: The Malevolence Mandate

Announcement!

We have moved to new, and hopefully better hardware! Along with this move came a bunch of updates to our code base. Please let me know if you spot something wonky.

16 posts / 0 new
Last post
Ornum's picture
Offline
Namer
Joined: 2004-05-11
Game: The Malevolence Mandate

The wind was slow to whip up, the horizon had a hint of more dust than before. Something was not quite right. Kalma could not put her finger on it, but something was wrong.

"Pick up the pace, now! Move!" There was more than a glim of steel in her voice, as she started pushing herself to double her walking speed. "If you find the pace too fast you can stay here."

She continued to push herself forward half carrying, half dragging Drachmir, outsripping the rest of the walkers as she continued to plunge forward.

It is getting hotter, somethign is terribly wrong. Got to keep moving. Kalma thought.

-

The gnoll dug his heels in, forcing Kalma to a stop. "Wait, there might be closer shelter."

Drachmir raised his muzzle to the sky and sniffed the air, feeling the wind across his fur. What he felt sent a dagger of ice across his spine. He was standing without assisstance now, and while his movements were still slow, they weren't quite as hopeless-seeming as they had been.

Mevar ran up a bit, looking irritated. He had a hand-crossbow in hand, and despite his agitation, managed to not point it at anyone. He was still looking over his shoulder half the time at the 'Shapes' in the distance.

"Will someone please tell me whats all this about? Or has everyone gone crazier then they usually are?"

"Sandstorm. From the east. Can't you feel it? Strong winds, pushing sand and hot air in front of them. We've half an hour, maybe less."

This shut Mevar up rather quickly.

Drachmir looked around the area. In truth, Darbel is a land of ridges and valleys, with rock outcroppings and loose grit and sand all over. You were lucky to be able to see over the next ridge. And one giant reddish-brown rock looks much like another.

Nevertheless, the gnoll had lived here for decades, and while he wasn't exactly a master nomad, he could still tell landmarks. Still clutching the now-dim Sword as a walking aid, he pointed a clawed finger at one particular rock, a massive, truncated form that bore a slight resemblance to a quarter-mile long whale.

"Genasi, ask your creature if theres a square-shaped sand dune behind that rock."

-

Osoron turned toward the clear spot of air hovering near him and presumably repeated Drachmir's question. It was difficult to tell since it seemed like he did little more than exhale some wispy noise at the air elemental, and the sounds themselves were barely audible over the noise of the rising winds. An instant later he turned back to the gnoll.

"Saphirel says he saw one, yes." the genasi confirmed, "Do you know what it means?"

-

Drachmir was already walking towards the large rock, his Sword tapping against the sand and rocks of the desert floor. He was leading the group on a course around the giant stone. The gnoll wasn't moving very quickly, but he kept going by sheer force of will, or by sheer bloody-mindedness at any rate.

"Of course I know what it means. Otherwise I wouldn't ask. Come, sandstorms wait for no man or gnoll."

-

The genasi turned to follow Drachmir, but kept glancing over his shoulder, past the rest of the group, and toward the rising sandstorm behind them.

"Well, what does it mean?" the genasi asked, sounding distracted.

A deep, primal excitement glittered deep in his silvery eyes while he watched the approaching storm. Goosebumps rose along his bare shoulders and spread rapidly down his arms and torso. A subtle grin tugged at the corners of his mouth and he felt a shiver of exhiliration run down his spine. Finally, the urge got the best of him and a full grin spread across his face, his eyes growing narrow and intense, focused in his excitement.

A storm was coming...

-

Drachmir turned to look over his shoulder. Yes, a sandstorm, but he also looked at the Shapes, six of them it seemed, or perhaps more, still jumping in and out of the sand like so many sand-fleas. They disturbed him considerably more then the sandstorm. The gnoll felt the Sword pulse slightly. Returning to matters at hand....

The gnoll scrambled past a sharp stone that came up to his waist and answered.

"It means theres shelter." He walked a few more paces, then decided to elaborate. It wasn't as if they didn't know he was from around here, so he deigned to explain. "When I was a guardsman at Sabaa, I used to read the old histories."

The gnoll shrugged. It was a hobby. The very idea of the written word had come as news to him when he'd first arrived amongst the humans. The idea of books, unchangeable and eternal, carrying a voice through the ages had fascinated the gnoll. Drachmir grinned as he thought of the half-read history of Rowan Darkwood in his satchel.

"Anyway, theres mention of an old temple to the Sky-Lord Aurifar nearby. If the genasi's creature is right, then its half-buried under the sand behind that outcropping. It'll have shelter, and the Caliph of the Sky is an enemy of the undead, so we won't have any company." The gnoll pointed a finger over his shoulder at the Shapes following them. "We'll rest there for an hour or two till the sandstorm passes and the undead get bored." And till I can regain my strength..., the gnoll thought but didn't say aloud.

Mevar listened to the gnoll's explanation with only half an ear. The rest was looking at Osoron and trying to figure out why exactly he seemed to be virtually giddy. Then it occured to him. Air genasi. And a druid to boot.

Mevar put a hand on Osoron's shoulder and gave the azure-skinned genasi a slight push forward.

"Keep moving, you can play in the storm later. I don't want half the Powers-damned desert coming down on my head, thank you very much."

-

After passing the rock previously indicated by Drachmir, the sand dune was now clearly in view. However, the temple was nowhere in sight. Suddenly, a strong gust of wind shifted part of the dune, and a weathered steeple was slowly uncovered. The rest of the building, however big it may be, was still covered in the deep sand. Tallus looked over what was visible, thought to himself for a moment, and then he spoke.

"That looks to be some sort of bell tower. I do not know how big the temple is, but I think the storm will be on us before the wind can finish uncovering it. We may have to enter there and hope that the rest of the building is not filled with sand. And if we go too far down, we had also hope that the coming storm does not bury us alive."

-

"Well, we've not much choice. Come."

Drachmir scrabbled up the sand dune, wincing occasionally as his tortured back protested the exertion, and managed to climb the dune without much trouble. The gnoll stuck the Sword into the sand and holding onto it with one hand and the side of the tower with the other, leaned inside and looked around.

What does Drachmir see? Particularly, does the tower go down, if so, how far, any way down, side entrances, and any obvious threats? Webs to indicate giant spiders, sounds of shuffling for undead, etc?

"Where's the bell?"

The tiefling managed to get up the dune much more gracefully, and waited behind the gnoll, a hand-crossbow in one hand. Drachmir answered while still examining the inside of the tower.

"Probably taken when the temple was abandoned. It would've been massive, copper or bronze, maybe brass. Metal's rare out here, it has to be brought all the way from the Great Mountains, a few months travel to the east. They wouldn't have left something that valuable behind."

Drachmir pulled his head from of the window.

"Sand."

With a light step, the gnoll entered the tower through the window. The floor didn't seem to collapse under him immediately, which was a good thing. If it could support the gnoll's weight, the others were in no danger. Of course, wood being as rare as it was in the desert, the floor was likely stone, and the priests of Aurifar went for stability in their designs.

The bottom of the tower was filled with sand up to the level of the large, man-length windows. Sand had been filling up the tower for years, and anything above the level of the windows was blown through the tower.

"Its safe, get inside."

Drachmir began to poke his sword cautiously through the sand, trying to gauge the depth of it. If he recalled his readings, the priests of Aurifar would climb up to the tower and hit the bell with large bronze mallets. Something about being closer to the sun, not that Drachmir understood the mindset of a priest. There was a symbolic reason for not using a rope anyway. The mallets might even be around, although if they took the bell, they'd have taken the mallets as well most likely. More importantly, there'd be a trapdoor somewhere, for the priests to get in.

"Look for a trapdoor beneath the sand. There should be one somewhere along the edges, they wouldn't want to come up straight into the bell. It'll be made of a different material then the floor, probably wood or mud rather then stone. Probe around with your weapons."

Drachmir continued along the outside of the tower, poking his sword through the sand.

"Wonderful... Now we're looking for a trapdoor buried under sand... hap-py day..."

Mevar took out his rapier and began probing the sand, using the thin metal blade to test the floor.

-

Osoron didn't realize that Mevar had laid a hand on him until after the tiefling shoved him. Once the thought connected with his mind, he felt a tingling, almost an electrical sensation run down his spine. The genasi's musings were lost between the recent event and the oncoming storm until they entered the tower.

It took him only a moment to realize what was going on. A secret trapdoor hidden under sand. Sand, which winds picked up easily. He nonchalantly moved to stand opposite the doorway and smiled.

"Clear the doorway, please," he said brightly, "Unless you relish sandstorms."

He gave the others a moment to move, and then began chanting in the words of the Lords of the Air. He pulled both hands back and called out an airy, breathy command, and then forcefully thrust both hands forward. A sharp, sudden burst of wind shot forth from the genasi, sweeping sand up off the ground and expelling it from the tower entrance. The gust lasted only a moment, but when it had cleared, only a light sprinkling of sand covered the floor where the wind blasted through.

"Does that help?" he asked, a hint of smugness in his voice as he glanced to Mevar.

Casting gust of wind to clear a space out of the floor and blast the sand outside.

-

"It would've," the tiefling said as he thrust his rapier down through the sand in one of the corners. The point stuck slightly, and Mevar had to wrench the long blade out of the floor. "Except that the trapdoor's over here."

"Something that isn't stone at any rate, here, right in the corner." Mevar probed around with the rapier a bit more, establishing an area for the door. "Right...about...here!"

He drew a square on the sand with his rapier, then stood back some.

"Any more feats of magic," The tiefling raised an eyebrow. "Oh Druid of the Planes?"

-

"No," the genasi replied pleasantly, "But Saphirel does. Stand back and cover your face."

He turned to the elemental and addressed it in Auran. Saphirel responded and flew over to the corner. A whirlwind picked up suddenly, whisking the sand away from the trapdoor and spraying it throughout the room. Osoron lifted his arm to block most of the sand until Saphirel finished and floated back over to the druid.

"All clean for you, sir," the druid beamed again at Mevar.

-

Mevar dusted some sand off his clothing, grimacing as he tried to get the grit out of the ruffles around his sleeves. He shook himself off, black hair whipping around his face. You catch a glimpse of something peculiar, but it disappeared from sight before the mind could register more then a moments unease.

The tiefling turned towards Osoron and gave a dapper bow, then straightened and grinned. "I said it was dust devil, didn't I?"

Drachmir brushed the sand off his fur and padded over to the trapdoor. It was old, wood that had since become dessicated and near-petrified. There was a ring at the top, which the gnoll grasped and heaved up. With the creak of ancient hinges, the trap-door swung open, revealing darkness beneath.

"Good job both of you."

Drachmir knelt by the trapdoor, then peered into the depths, lowering his head into the hole to look around. It was dark a tomb, perhaps literally, but gnolls need very little light to see.

-

Kalma stood by, looking at the storm and the sand fleas in the distance. The wind was whipping quite badly now.

"I think we should get in the church soonish. The weather is not getting any better. I hope someone has light with them."

-

Below the square bell-room, a circular tower led down, farther then even Drachmir's eyes could see. There was a stairway, just wide enough for one person, winding down and down into the murk. The steps might've been stone, or perhaps perified wood, the gnoll couldn't tell, but they looked sturdy enough, with only a little bit of sand in a few places. Torch alcoves ran every so often.

Circular tower, 15 foot diameter. Stairway is three feet wide, so the open, central area is 9 feet in diameter.

The gnoll stood and shook himself off, a canine gesture that was nevertheless effective at getting the sand off him and on everyone standing next to him.

"Looks safe."

Drachmir looked at the assembled group. The wind was picking up, and they'd have a full-blown sandstorm here in only a few minutes, if the gnoll was any judge. He considered Kalma's request. He didn't need a light, nor did the half-orc or genasi, but the humans would be useless without it. Except that a light might disturb anything down there. Well, nothing for it, it'd be disturbed soon anyway, assuming it even existed, and if it did, the gnoll wasn't going to deprive himself of half the group's ability.

"I'll go first. Kalma, behind me, then Mevar, the genasi, Tallus, and Korag guard the rear. Leave the trapdoor open." The trapdoor opened upwards, and they'd have a devil of a time getting it open if there was a half-ton of sand on it. Let the sand fall down the stairway, it was deep enough.

With that, Drachmir jumped down, less lightly then he would've liked, since he was still dead-tired, but he wasn't completely helpless.

"Glow."

The Sword burst into a cheerful white light, illuminating the dark tower better then a torch. It suddenly occured to the gnoll that the whispering that had been pressing against his skull since he got the Sword was gone, replaced by a low, soothing hum. It had been so mild he hadn't even noticed it, although now that he thought about it, there were no whisperings to be heard since whatever had happened in the valley that nearly split Drachmir's mind. One more mystery...

With a careful step, testing each stair before placing his full weight on it, Drachmir wended his way downwards, holding the Sword before him like a beacon.

-

Tallus and Korag fell in line as Drachmir suggested and began to follow the others down. Tallus felt a little nervous about leaving the trapdoor open above them, but he said nothing. After a moment, he noticed how stale the air was and a thought crossed his mind.

"Osoron, keep you elemental friend handy. There is no telling how long this temple has been buried under the sand, so air might be a problem, especially if we find ourselves locked in a room or if the storm outside covers this place once again with us inside."

As the group traveled down the staircase for a time, the bottom became visible. The stairs they were walking down eventually led to a closed set of doors. Once they moved closer to the door, the group saw that the door was padlocked. Tallus puzzled over this before speaking.

"That is odd. Why would someone lock the door on the inside of the tower?"

-

Drachmir shrugged. How was he expected to know why humans did anything?

"No idea. Anyone care to handle this?"

"Here, let me."

Mevar returned the hand-crossbow to its pocket-holster and kneeled down, drawing a set of lockpicks from the calf-length black boots he wore. He spent a few minutes examining the lock, trying this and that, muttering to himself.

"Mechanisms surprisingly good for something this old. Probably 'cause there's no water to rust it. Of course, I'm better."

"Just open it."

-

Saphirel, almost in response to Tallus, began idly circling the two druids as they descended. Osoron, on the other hand, gave Tallus a confused glance. It took a moment before the realization set in.

"Oh, right," he said with an airy chuckle, "You all have to breathe, don't you? I'd forgotten."

He turned his attention to the doorway with a faint, smug smirk on his face. The elemental, meanwhile, continued lazily floating in a circle around them.

-

Kalma bad been quiet while they had descended the steps. She had continued to be quiet as the quarrel circled around her like the air elemental continued to do. The door puzzled her, why lock it from the outside, unless there was something on the otherside that would be hoped to kept there. She conciously relaxed herself, her breath coming as small slow gasps, her heart rate calmed and her hearing became more sharp.

She listened.

-

The tumblers of the old padlock shifted and moved, the old metal protesting every step of the way, before the lock fell open. Mevar stepped away with a flourish, pushing the door ajar with a touch. It glided open, with relatively minimal creaking.

"I am good..." The tiefling returned the lockpicks to his boot and headed for the darkness beyond the open door. "I declare Ye Olde Forgotten Temple to be open for visitors."

Before the rogue could pass through the doorway, a heavy, clawed hand fell on his shoulder.

"I shall go first." There was hint of a snarl in Drachmir's voice. The tiefling shrugged.

"After you sir..."

The gnoll stepped through the open door, holding the Sword aloft, letting the light shine across the hall. It was a long, open room with a vaulted ceiling. Statues of old priests lined the walls, and at the far end, a large set of double doors with the circular symbol of Aurifar engraved.

-

Kalma followed closely behind, moving from statue to statue along the hall two steps behind Drachmir. Something was wrong and she did not like this. No one bit.

-

As Tallus walked towards the next door, he stopped and admired each of the statues in turn.

"It is a shame that something like this has not been viewed by the living for such a long time. What did each of the men and women did to deserve to be honored in this way, I wonder? Even though I worship the idea of the natural order of things, I still honor those who serve an actual deity. Drachmir, tell me more of this god and this place. What did the stories you read say?"

-

The gnoll strolled along the statue-lined avenue, prodding one statue a bit with the Sword. They didn't seem to be coming to life in anger, which was probably a good thing. These days, Drachmir didn't think he'd have been surprised at anything.

Dusting the sand away from a few stones in front of the statue of one robed old man, then prodded a bit more with the Sword, shining it this way and that.

"Watch where you sit. You sometimes find spiders hiding in little nooks and crannies."

"Spiders?" Mevar looked up from his inspection of the far door at this.

"They like dark places. They get pretty large, two hand-spans or so." The gnoll spread his own massive hand. Mevar shuddered. A foot-and-a-half spider was just what he wanted to hear about right now.

Apparently content that the folds of the statue's robes contained nothing poisonous and a multi-legged, Drachmir sat down, reclining against the smooth stone of the robes, the Sword resting lightly against his knees, illuminating the the room and giving off a soothing hum to the gnoll's mind.

"Ahhh...." Finally, a chance to rest. The gnoll gazed in a reverie for a moment, then heard Tallus' question.

"This place? It's a temple of Aurifar." Drachmir pointed a finger at the holy symbol on the doors, a massive brass circle polished to a mirror-like sheen. "He's called the Caliph of the Sky. He's a sun god basically. You've been outside at noon, I'm sure you can guess why people worship the sun around here. He's the god of fire, of the sun, of the desert. Also a judgement deity."

Drachmir continued in a professional tone. "Some of the cities actually execute criminals by chaining them out naked in the desert and letting Aurifar exact justice. If the prisoner survived for a full day, he was usually pardoned. Course, that's almost as likely as having a hangman botch the job three times, so it didn't happen often."

"He's also a great enemy of undead, for obvious reasons. Sun, light against darkness, etc. That's why we're pretty safe here from those things outside. 'Less of course this temple is desecrated."

"Great, more good news..."

The gnoll paused for a moment, trying to recall what else he knew. "As for this temple... I think there was a city around here at one point. This region's been occupied constantly for the last three, four thousand years or so. There are ruins all over the place if you dig deep enough."

"I forget what the city was called, but there was an oasis and some springs here, so it was a trading post, like Sabaa. Eventually the oasis dried up, city did soon afterwards." Drachmir shrugged. "There are a lot of volcanoes here as well, you get cave systems, underground rivers, regular earthquakes. Probably something diverted the river that fed the oasis."

"Anyway... the temple kept going for another couple of centuries, mostly as a monastery. It still had a working spring back then. This was before Sabaa was founded, so it also did a bit of duty as a trading outpost. Then the records just, well, stop. One years its here, the next its gone. Happens every so often. I'm guessing the spring dried up, or maybe gnolls finally got them. There were tribes moving around at the time."

"I'd say this place has been buried for at least a thousand years. Deserts preserve places well."

At this point, the gnoll yawned, a long, feline yawn that showed off a lot of teeth and a very pink tongue.

"And now, I'm going to get some sleep."

-

"I guess we are staying here for now."

Kalma dumped the contents of her bag of holding on the floor. Gold coins scattered as it discorged its contents. She shoveled the rest of the coins back into the bag absentmindedly depositing the fine sand from the floor as well.

She laid out her armour out each piece where it should be. Each rusting buckle and worn leather tongue carefully laid out. Each layer taking up its own space.

She took out everything from her bag and rummaged through it, pulling out a stub of a tallow candle and her tinderbox. She rummaged around some more before finally pulling out a carefully leather covered bundle.

Kalma opened it on the ground and there was a threaded needle, gauze, a sharp blade and a mirror. Stripped to the chest and with the lit candle she cut away her beard, the tufts slowly being sawed away. The blade was run carefully down her cheeks and jaw, the neck until it was all gone. She looked in the mirror and a well cut face looked back being dabbed with the gauze.

She stripped down, taking the dust off the floor and carefully rubbing it on her body. Where sweat had pooled it stuck to her body, some parts of her limbs had turned red and she gingerly scrubbed those areas as well.

Satisified she put on her underwear, working her way slowly outwards, building on cloth with cambesome, chain with plate. She put therest of the things in her bag, pulling out some jerky that she happily sucked on. She looked around the hallway after placing everything safely away. Kalma walked its length carefully looking about for these so-called spiders.

-

Osoron walked idly through the vast, vaulted chamber, his bare feet padding gently on the floor. He glanced up toward the statues, but barely saw them. He was more interested in something else. Saphirel floated aimlessly near the druid, occasionally stopping to fling dust around with his airy form. The two air-creatures seemed lost in their own little world.

"This is a temple of fire?" the genasi asked suddenly. He'd said nothing while Drachmir spoke and had not really seemed to be listening. His voice cut through the dark silence like a sudden spear jab. "Where would the center of the fire be? Or the spring?" His voice drifted off as his silvery eyes rested upon the door at the far end of the chamber.

Slowly, he began striding toward the door. He tried to reach out to the world around him, to see if he felt any elemental power, anything that might appeal to him at all.

Those volcanoes Drachmir mentioned were sounding quite exciting...

...

He stopped suddenly.

"This place is cold," he said quietly, standing halfway between the two doors, "Too cold. There is no fire here." His breathy voice echoed ominously in the empty room.

-

Kalma stopped pacing in the hallway "Most likely there is a portal to the elemental plane of fire. In the centre may involve a golden disc worn by the head priest when struck with the sun will cause the portal to open up. It could be also that the god cursed its priests and left this place to die."

-

Mevar was pacing like a caged jackal. He'd taken the opportunity to ogle Kalma from the corners of his eyes, though a profound sense of self-preservation had kept the wolf-whistle stifled. The tiefling enjoyed having all limbs attached.

"You people are just full of cheery thoughts today. Curses, giant spiders, undead. Exciting bunch I signed up with."

Drachmir settled into a deeper doze.

Mevar paced some more. The gnoll's snoring was starting to cause emotional distress.

"Anyone feel like some exploration? Maybe we can find a golden disc or two. Or at least a spring with enough water for a bath."

He paused to flash a grin at the genasi.

"Besides, moving around'll help you warm up."

-

Osoron smirked at Mevar's comment.

"That and some other things," he replied evenly, then shook his head, "For a temple of fire, there is no fire here. It feels colder than it should beyond the door...As if the fire has left this place."

-

"Well, one way to find out."

The tiefling took his toolkit out and began working on the door, humming to himself as he did. He considered the genasi's statement, and all its myriad implications.

"Cold?"

-

"Not really," Osoron watched Mevar work for a moment, then glanced back to Kalma, his glance asking if she was coming along or not. After a moment to see what the warrior-woman was doing, he looked back to Mevar.

"But I wouldn't mind being warmed up a bit," he grinned, "Maybe get some fire back into this place."

-

"Well, we'll just have to see what we find."

The tiefling continued at his labor, fiddling around at the door.

-

Kalma stopped pacing in the hallway "Most likely there is a portal to the elemental plane of fire. In the centre may involve a golden disc worn by the head priest when struck with the sun will cause the portal to open up. It could be also that the god cursed its priests and left this place to die."

Kalma walked up behind Mevar. "I could just smash in the door is that would appease your curiosity."

-

"Was a portal," the genasi corrected, "If there were still a fire to be felt at all here, I would feel it. I feel...quite the opposite. Any portals that might've gone to Fire are long closed...Any fire that was in this place is long gone. It is cold beyond those doors."

-

Kalma looked at the genasi "In what way cold? Describe it in detail."

-

Osoron shook his head and thought for a moment. He'd long ago become so attuned to the elements that he rarely felt affected by temperature changes. A shiver ran down his spine regardless. How to explain it though? It was just...cold. Colder than it should be.

"I don't know, really," he said, "I imagine if there was still any holiness from Aurifar here, it would be warmer to my senses. This feels like the fire was overpowered by something cold and that coldness is lingering. Sort of like an avalanche smothering a blaze."

-

Suddenly, there was a click, and the Mevar straightened with a self-satisfied grin.

"Ha-ha... They try, they fail to keep Mevar out! Am I good or what?"

The tiefling replaced his toolkit and pulled open the heavy doors.

And was nearly knocked off his feet by the blast of freezing air. As the double doors opened, a cold fog emerged, obscuring the sight of the room beyond. From what little could be seen, the floor, walls, even the inside of the heavy doors were covered in frost.

Drachmir continued to doze, untroubled by the sudden change in temperature. He was desert-bred after all, and used to such things.

Mevar rubbed his arms to warm himself. The hot-blooded tiefling was not fond of cold. He peered into the room ahead. His clothing was damp from the mist, and stuck to the skin, while water condensed in the tieflings black hair.

"Will someone please explain why in the name of the Four-Fold Furnace is there an ICEBOX in the middle of the desert?"

Until the temperature equalizes and the mist is dispersed, treat it as if an Obscuring Mist spell had been cast, centered on the door.

-

She lit a torch from her backpack, its flame guttering with the difference in temperature. The cool air was welcome to Kalma after a day of extreme heat, it was quite enjoyable. "Sometimes things are the way they are. No reason - just are. Frightened?"

She coolly walked into the mist disappearing through the doorway. The difference in temperature made it difficult to see, vapor condencing on her armour, dribbling off in big droplets. She calmly and carefully picked her way along the flagstones as she listened for any kind of activity. It was a comforting feeling being alone for the moment. Nothing, but that which lay ahead.

The mist began to disappear to snow crunching under foot. The stones of the walls peppered with snow. It was a large square chamber in which she stood. in each corner facing towards the middle were statues their eyes intersecting in the focal point of the room, a golden sun tempered into the floor with careful writing worn from many feet and covered in a light patina of snow.

Three high arching doorways loomed in the twilight, each wide enough for two men the size of pillars to walk through abreast. There was a bit of a breeze that blew in from the door opposite to hers. She walked across the sun towards the doorway on the other side. Stopping for a moment to listen if anything or anyone was approaching.

-

It took Osoron a moment, but once he realized Mevar's predicament, the genasi couldn't help but stare.

"Now who needs to be warmed up?" he smirked coyly, giving the tiefling a once-over before turning to the task at hand.

The druid gestured to Saphirel and breathed something in Auran. The air elemental seemed almost giddy as it floated up to the mist and spun madly, creating another whirlwind to disperse the cloud.

"Not scared," Osoron corrected Kalma, "Curious. This is a fire temple. There shouldn't be so much ice."

-

Mevar shivered slightly. Wet clothing in freezing air was not fun. Hopefully he wouldn't catch pneumonia.

"No, I'm not frightened. Freezing, yes, frightened, no. It's going to take more then a complete and utter violation of the natural order to scare me." Mevar's voice was just slightly sarcastic. Or more then slightly actually.

The tiefling shivered again. He was hot-blooded, literally and figuratively, and right now, he was also cold and wet. Soaked tiefling was not a pleasant state. His greatcoat was fairly dry, but the black silk shirt was a mess. At least the cravat was fairly waterproof, and the condensed water droplets gave the onyx an interesting appearance.

Mevar put his katar on and drew his rapier, progressing cautiously into the room, pausing in the doorway.

"Anyone think we ought to wake Sleeping Beauty back there?"

The tiefling paused at the golden circle in the middle of the floor, crouching by it and drawing the lancet along it, clearing the frost to get at what is underneath.

-

"Are you offering to go back and wake up the gnoll?" Kalma said looking back as Mevar tapped the tempered and beaten copper sun with his rapier. There was something wrong with what Mevar was doing, but Kalma could not put her finger on it. In a moment the thought disappeared.

"The breeze seems to be coming from this opening." Kalma said as she held the torch in front of her peering into the darkness of the doorway. "This corridor seems to lead in the centre of the temple." she walked a bit, snow crunching under foot, the thick walls almost turning into their own small narrow bit of corridor. Passing through another archway a huge cavernlike room opened up. The cold was much more permeable here. It seemed to have its own life as it played with the snow on the floor blowing it gently one way than the next.

The hairs on Kalma's neck stood up.

-

Mevar muttered to himself. First, he was cold. Second, he was wet. Third, the circle turned out to be copper and not gold. Fourth, Kalma was having fun at his expense. Wonderful, really it was.

"Why don't you do it? He likes you more then me. Less likely to bite something important off."

Mevar entered the next room. This was getting decidedly bizarre. The tiefling shivered again. It would be just wonderful if he managed to catch pneumonia in the middle of the desert.

His next shiver had nothing to do with cold. There was something very wrong here. A cold elemental maybe? Or something more obscure? Shendivari had never bothered to drill him in the various creatures of the planes on the idea that the 'Loth would give Mevar all the background he needed before missions. Right now, that was starting to seem like an oversight.

The tiefling looked about for any obvious source for the cold, or an entrance to the next room or the like.

-

Kalma moved away from the doorway, the light did not shine high enough or far enough to light more than a part of he cavernous room. The wind rippled and twisted along the small drifts of snow. She continued to walk forward the light penetrating the gloom. The light caught something on the floor with her sweep and she walked over closer to the glint.

On the floor, nearly blended into the floor was a yellow robed human, a man it was, unless of course she too had gone drinking the last night with Rule-of-Three and through a strange twist of fate had decided that this would be a good place to forget about the beard, fall asleep and, well, die.

The man clutched a pendant of a sun in one hand. His body having convulsed in a way that seemed to have snapped his spine. Snow too had collected in his eye sockets and his body had been withered to yellow leather on bones from the great cold.

Kalma continued to look around, seeing if there was more bodies waiting outside of her torch light. There were pillows instead that drew her closer to the centre of the room. Upon those pillows lay bodies, snapped and broken, limbs torn off. All covered in a fine sheen of hoar frost rising from their bodies like they had been speared with giant snowflakes that rose as crystalline ridges from their bodies.

Kalma looked around at the bodies, her torch flickering across them as she drew a circle of light around them by pointing her torch. This was not amiss. This was natural.

What was unnatural was the loss of wind.

-

Mevar stooped by the body of the first priest, turning it over with one gloved hand to get a closer look. Freeze-dried corpses were something new to Mevar, and a professional has to keep up after all. After a moments inspection, the tiefling made a disappointed face. It didn't seem to be new at all.

"Hmmm... I'm guessing something mangled them and then froze the bodies. How long did dog-face say this place was uninhabited? Thousand years? So something really cold has been around here from the moment these priests were killed till now."

Mevar took the amulet from the dead priest and rose. He didn't need it after all, and it might have value as a souvenir. He looked at the pendant closely, then pocketed it.

Suddenly the tiefling tensed.

"Where'd the wind go?"

Elsewhere in the temple....

The Sword lay quietly in the lap of the sleeping gnoll, soft white light illuminating the entry hall's gloom. Suddenly, it pulsed, rising to a brilliant glare then subsiding.

Drachmir opened one eye groggily. He'd been having such a nice dream too.... The gnoll looked around the hall. Aside from one gnoll, one glowing sword, and a score or so of statues, it was empty.

Where did everybody go?

Well, from the sounds of it, the sandstorm was still raging above, so they hadn't left Drachmir behind, so some good news. He looked at the other doors. They were open, and Drachmir could feel a new chill in the air. That answered that question.

With a sound halfway between a snarl and sigh, the gnoll put on his armor, grasped the Sword, and padded away on silent paws after the rest of the group.

-

Osoron walked quietly through the cold cavern, snow and dirt crunching softly under his feet. The cold and the humidity didn't seem to bother the druid. He made no move to cover his bare torso, didn't shiver, and showed no signs of being chilly at all. What he did show was an intense uneasiness. His gaze darted about anxiously, silver eyes flicking to and fro. The hairs on the back of his neck rose sharply, and his mouth was pursed into a pensive frown. Something eerily unnatural was happening here, something Osoron didn't like. Even for an underground cavern, this place shouldn't be so cold. And there definitely shouldn't be snow.

He felt it, too, perhaps a moment before they did because of his elementally-attuned senses. The wind stopped. The genasi shivered despite himself.

Something is going on...

-

A sudden realization dawned on the genasi. The air behind him was getting gradually warmer as the temperature from outside crept into the frigid chamber. He glanced around, eyes widening in alarm.

"Something did this," he murmured anxiously, "Something came here and devoured the heat of the place and killed these priests. Something that might still be here."

His silver eyes darted to and fro, skimming the darkness with his enhanced vision, searching for something that might yet be alive.

-

"Great, juuuuust great.... remind me not to listen to the gnoll anymore about where to go."

Mevar dropped his katar into a pocket a flicked his fingers, once, twice, three times. A spark flew from them and started to grow, enveloping his hand in a warm, red-orange flame. He held it aloft like a torch. He didn't actually need the thing to see, but it was useful cover.

"Next question: If 'something' is still here, then where is it?"

The tiefling gazed about the room, a strange, hellfire glow in his eyes that might've been the reflection of his fire. Or perhaps not....

Drachmir entered the room with the four statues and looked about. It was cold, colder then it had any business to be. Very strange. The Sword pulsed gently.

-

Kalma continued to look around carefully. If there was something changing it would happen. She stepped over the bodies of the monks crushing pillows and occasionally a foot landing on a long dead hand or a hidden item.

She continued to walk past the pile of bodies, away from the rest of the group. It was dark, the weather was no longer worrying her as her own heat kept her warm in the layers of armour she was wearing. The entire place seemed familiar, but she could not put her finger on why.

***

Korag had broken away for a moment from Tallus. The massive half-orc looked around the temple entrance. He came back from the other entrance and pointed to Drachmir that the rest were in the larger room ahead. Korag had plenty of training about how to tell that a place was unhallowed, but this was the first time he could put it into practice. His impressions and feelings were complex as many streams of ideas and possible reasons spread through his mind. In anything but his broken common it would have been easy to say, to describe it in greater detail.

Unfortunately common was what he knew what all else knew he turned to Drachmir and said. "Place smells bad. Bad. Not good."

-

Mevar was looking at his hand in consternation. He spoke in a very casual tone as he walked in the direction that the flame seemed to point.

"Now, normally, I'd say that the wind is blowing the fire in a specific direction, right? Except that the wind just died in a rather unpleasantly forboding fashion." He nodded to Osoron. "So whatever eats heat is still around."

Mevar stood by the frozen forms. They were limp and emaciated, just nearly transparent skin stretched over fragile looking bones, all encased in slabs of ice. He was still feeling unpleasantly cold and wet, but he was no longer shivering.

"Care to wager these poor priests got too close to what is eating the heat? Someone help me move these blocks of ice out of the way. There's probably something in the back of the alcove that's draining the heat."

Mevar poked at one of the still forms with his rapier.

"Looks like they were nearly starved before being frozen."

Drachmir sniffed the air. Cool, moist, slowly but surely warming up to the usual Darbelen heat-stroke inducing temperature. He could smell the rest of the group, mostly a combination of metal and leather and sweat, human smells, with a hint of half-orcish pungency, a fresh, airy scent Drachmir guessed was from the genasi, and a faintly musky, spicy smell the gnoll couldn't identify. Nothing else.

Then he realized what Korag was trying to say. A bad feeling, a bad aura. The gnoll shrugged. He had all the emotional sensitivity of a lump of sandstone, but he could tell something strange was going on.

The Sword pulsed.

Drachmir nodded to Korag, then walked towards the rest of the group. They were all engrossed in something in an alcove, a trio of frozen bodies by appearances.

The gnoll watched, not interrupting.

-

Osoron shook his head anxiously when he saw Mevar approaching the ice-covered figures. The genasi took several steps backward. Something clicked in his mind. Why were those bodies near Mevar encased in ice when the snow simply dusted the others?

"There's something wrong about those," Osoron murmured, "Something unnatural."

-

With a bit of help, Mevar managed to manhandle one of the frozen solid bodies out of the indentation in the wall. They felt odd, a kind of dry cold that seemed to have nothing to do with the fact that they also happened to be encased in ice. The tiefling shrugged it off.

To his disappointment, there was nothing in the alcove. No passageways, no hidden treasure chests filled with gold. The back wall was covered in scratches, as if the three figures were trying to get away through the wall before their unfortunate icing, but that was all.

Mevar straightened and kicked one of the figures in annoyances, the tip of his boot making an odd metallic scraping against the ice.

"Nothing." He looked around a bit. The room seemed empty of anything promising either interest or monetary reward. "Care to go and try the other doors?"

The tiefling headed off back to the room with the two other arching doorways.

Drachmir stood at the back and continued to look quietly at the alcove. The half-orc was right, something smelled decidedly wrong here.

-

Osoron almost turned to leave the room, too, when he saw it. The slow, slow shambling of emaciated, nearly lifeless figures. The ice had melted almost completely, and frost clung to their scrawny frames. His eyes widened for just a moment, and then his face became grim. Before the monstrosities could move, the genasi's clear eyes began to spark with electricity as he opened his mouth. A vicious, crackling noise, punctuated by periodic thunderous booms spilled forth from the genasi's throat. The voice of the Plane of Lightning reached its pinnacle. Osoron's eyes glowed with brilliant blue-white light and the odor of ozone became heavy in the air. Lightning streaked down his arms and then a ball of electricity leaped from his hands, closing the distance between him and the geluns in an instant. The electric ball struck the back wall where the furthest gelun sat in the alcove and exploded with a thunderclap. Lightning shot out in a vicious eruption, grabbing the geluns in its wicked claws. Then, just as quickly as it had happened, the explosion faded, its only memory seen in the tiny arcs of lightning that danced along the walls, floor, and the geluns.

Immediately after the spell's energy fled his body, Osoron backpedaled ferociously, anxious to put some distance between himself and the monsters so he could hurl another spell.

Unfortunately, the druid's stormy onslaught did not slow the monstrosities' already slow advance. They scrabbled toward the party, hungrily seeking the warmth of fresh, live humanoids, and lashed out with their filthy, spindly arms.

-

The room exploded into chaos.

Kalma was the fastest of the warriors, channelling the anger that was her trademark into a massive blow that would sent luckless gelun flying had things turned out differently. As it was, the ugly creature managed to dodge, and the two foes circled each other, ignoring the outside world as they fought, driven on by hunger and rage.

Mevar had been walking to the exit when he had felt the blow, ice-cold claws tearing across and through his back, missing vital organs by scant millimeters. Hot blood gushed from the wound at his back, steaming slightly in the air.

"Yeeeeow!"

The tiefling whirled, hands flying to his weapons as he looked at the supposedly-dead corpse being remarkably living and unpleasant. Then he looked over the creature's shoulder. Mevar smiled unpleasantly.

"Have fun."

The Gelun raised it's claws to deliver the deathblow to this heat source, to feed and be warm for once, when it heard a sound out of place for a battle. A high-pitched, slightly hysterical laugh, approaching rapidly. It half-turned to find the source of the sound.

Drachmir rammed into the creature, four hundred pounds of metal and gnoll carreening into abomination. In fairness, the creature tried mightily to stay on its feet, but it was over-born.

The gnoll raised his blade and brought it down with a "chop" on the creature, the Sword seeming to pulse with the joy of battle.

Mevar had his weapons out, and drove his rapier into the creature, puncturing its lung, assuming something that seemed to live on heat had a lung. The Gelun squirmed, but a follow-up blow from the tiefling dispatched the creature.

Korag was not to be left out. With a grunt, he slashed at the gelun near him with his longsword, following up with a mace blow that unfortunately missed crushing the creature's skull. The Gelun seemed to have found slightly tougher prey then they would have liked.

Mevar looked around, ignoring the burning pain in his back, taking a moment to see just what in the Nine Hells was going on. His gaze fell on the broken alcove wall, then instinctively flickered up.

"Careful with the spells you lightning bug! You don't want to bring the whole cave down on us!"

-

Tallus took a quick survey of his companions. Mevar, despite his attempt at confidence, looked like he'd taken the worst brunt of these aberrations' attacks. The human druid murmured a few short phrases under his breath and his hand began to glow white. He hurried to Mevar and laid the hand on the tiefling, closing up the worst of the wounds.

The two remaining geluns were unphased by the defeat of their third. If anything, they moved more quickly, with deadlier precision. They lashed out with their dirty, frosty claws at the nearest sources of heat: Kalma and Korag.

Osoron already started chanting his next spell. The words of Lightning spilled from his lips and electricity crackled along his fingertips. Brilliant blue-white light filled the room as a loop of electrical energy circled around and through the gelun attacking Kamla, streaks of lightning dancing across the creature's body before dashing across the ground and disappearing into the earth.

-

Would've responded earlier, but Philly has a rather miserable wireless system. Ah well, good to be back, and hopefully now we can actually get this game going on a more then post-per-week basis.

Kalma circled her foe slowly, trying to get it in between her and the two other warriors. Even with the bubbling, boiling, overflowing rage was kept under firm control. It was a tool, to serve Kalma. The warrioress would not serve the tool.

Without warning, she lashed out with her strange old sword, slashing across the ice-being's chest, hoping to collapse its ribcage. No such luck. At the mid-stroke, Kalma flexed her sword-arm slightly, sending the vile anger at the creature. It traveled down her arm, through the sword, exploding in a burst of viscous acid against the ice-beast. It hissed and smoked, and the Gelun screamed, an ear-splitting and miserable sound.

The creature was on its last legs now. Kalma tried to follow up with a second stroke, but the cursed cold one danced out of reach, the heat serving to speed up its reactions to preternatural levels. The warrioress cursed once, but then stopped. While her face wasn't about to burst into a smile as Mevar had, a muscle did twitch.

The gnoll raised his head from his and the tiefling's kill, his black nostrils trembling as he scented the air. The tiefling smelled of blood, understandable given how much he had lost, but there was another spicy scent in the air. Drachmir filed it away as a mystery for another day. The creature itself didn't smell of anything, just cold, which was odd in and of itself. There was another source of blood nearby however...

Kalma. The gnoll's reaction was instantaneous. Twisting his massive, pulsating greatsword from the dead ice-beast, Drachmir broke into a lumbering run, twirling the Sword in an overhead arc. The Gelun, defending against the warrioress's fierce attack, never even noticed as Drachmir attacked.

The creature's head flew from its shoulders.

Drachmir lowered his blade and nodded to Kalma, gruffly. No one, not man, demon, or ice-beast, would harm the gnoll's followers, even if at the moment his followers were limited to a traitorous spy and a none-too-stable berserker. Ah well, thought Drachmir as he broke into his hyena-grin. Such is life.

Mevar nodded politely to Tallus, and sped off, ignoring the persistent pain in his chest, or the vaguely fluid sensation in the back of his throat. Part of his training was ignoring pain, which was coming in a little too useful for the tiefling's comfort just now.

Kalma and Drachmir were taking care of the Gelun over there, whom Mevar did not particularly envy. That just left the one engaging the half-orc, and Mevar seemed to be the only person not currently busy. He skulked along the edge of the chaos, coming up behind the final of the ice-beasts.

"Hey, Icy, pick on someone your own size!"

As the Gelun turned towards Mevar, his rapier lanced out, narrowly missing the beast's eye. The lancet followed, stabbing deep into the creature's chest. The ice-beast rasped with pain, and glared hatred at the small tiefling. It raised a clawed hand to drain the heat from this upstart.

"And more importantly, ignore the half-orc behind you."

Before the Gelun could tear the tiefling limb from limb, the half-orc acted. A longsword sprouted from the creature's chest, and then Korag brought the mace down on the ice-beast's head with a resounding thunk, crushing its skull.

Mevar wiped a few bits of splattered brain off his face before nodding thanks to the half-orc.

"Messy, but effective."

Drachmir stooped and picked up the severed head of the Gelun gingerly in his claws. He hadn't a clue as to what it was, but someone probably would. And besides, what was a fight without a trophy to remember it by? Dropping the head into his satchel, he straightened and looked out at the group.

"Is everyone alright?"

"Eh, I'll live, thanks to you and tallus and the half-orc here." Mevar wiped the blood off his weapons before sheathing them.

Suddenly he was caught up in a massive bear hug by Korag, who seemed intent on squeezing the life out of the tiefling. "Small odd-smelling person friend!"

"Korag *gasp* put me *choke* down!" Mevar squirmed out of the half-orc's embrace, coughing up a bit of blood on the floor. He'd felt better.

"As I was saying, I'm fine, thanks to you and the gnoll and Tallus." Mevar paused for a beat. "And thanks to Osy..."

-

Osoron's flighty attention fled elsewhere when the last gelun fell. His silvery eyes darted around the cavern until he heard his name. Then, he cast another trademarked coy grin at Mevar and winked.

"You can thank me later," he said slyly.

Tallus ignored the exchange and moved to Kalma to cast a healing spell on her.

-

Uh-huh. This promised to be interesting. Still, Mevar didn't mind. He'd been celibate for quite nearly a week, and for the moment his campaign for Kalma had stalled. It didn't do to make a habit of it, after all.

Mevar shook his head, a gesture that got his black hair out of his eyes, grinning slightly at the genasi in the process.

"You know, I don't believe I've had this much excitement in ages."

The gnoll paid only scant attention to the conversation between the genasi and the human. Humans were always talking, it was a flaw of theirs.

Drachmir turned his head this way and that, examining his followers. Mevar and Kalma were wounded, but lightly. The druids, on the other hand, were unharmed and the half-orc only a little hurt. The gnoll didn't like this much. Nor did he much like the lightning bolts the genasi had been throwing around. He made a mental note to keep the blue one near him.

"Follow."

With that he moved into the new entry carved by Osoron's spell, ducking his head to pass beyond the alcove, before turning to cast a glance back. His muzzle split into a sharp, ivory-toothed grin.

-

Drachmir stepped through narrow doorway, wondering why this room seemed to have been plastered over. Maybe there was a secret door somewhere, or maybe a thousand years of condensation had simply deformed the door beyond recognition. Drachmir didn't know, though it was an interesting question.

The room itself was ancient beyond belief, a round room similar to the room at the top of the bell-tower. The walls of the room were covered in a mural, an exquisitely detailed view of the desert around the old temple, although at the time of the drawing, there was a living city here. A great, glowing sun occupied a position high in the north wall, the noon-day sun that the Aurifaran's worshipped.

Drachmir's nose twitched. The air was stale, though not nearly as bad as would be expected. Either refreshing magic, or there are tunnels that lead to the surface and the place get's aired out every so often. Unfortunately, it was also very, very dusty. Drachmir tried not to sneeze.

A few bones were scattered around, human bones that turned to powder when the gnoll nudged them. A lectern stood just off the center of the room, an old, leather-bound tome upon it. The dryness must've acted as a preservative.

Drachmir stepped lightly to the center of the room, the bone-dust crunching underfoot. For a moment, he gazed at the mural, marveling quietly at the clarity and detail. One could almost make out the street plan of the long forsaken city. Drachmir wished he was a decent sketch artist. This was an archeological treasury completely on its own. Quite aside from any scholarly wish, there were historians in the capital who would pay well for such a detailed map of a thousand-year-lost city. Too bad they wouldn't buy it from a gnoll. Drachmir sighed. Life was very unfair.

He turned to the lectern and the book on it. No markings, so it probably wasn't a formal copy of the Aurifaran holy book, whatever they called. "Testaments of the Sun" or something. Maybe a priest's daybook or journal. Drachmir rested his clawed hand lightly on the cover, then opened it. He couldn't make heads or tails of the writing.

With a slight grumble, Drachmir rested the Sword against the lectern, and reached into enchanted satchel at his side, pulling out a pair of steel-rimmed half-spectacles, and perched them on his muzzle. Casting a warning snarl at the entering group members, he looked back at the book. Anyone who laughed was going to have his arm torn off.

Mevar entered the room without having to duck his head, being probably the shortest of the group. He ignored the pretty mural, looking instead at the glowing sun some twelve feet high.

And at the gnoll in glasses. The tiefling choked down a remark when he saw the look Drachmir cast him. It made his throat feel itchy. Instead, he walked to beneath the glowing sun and looked up at it, trying to figure out what was what.

"Hey, Lightning bug? Take a look at this, would you?"

Chrysalis's picture
Offline
Namer
Joined: 2004-10-27
Game: The Malevolence Mandate

Kalma strode into the room, carefully, quite fearfully to be honest. The sun that shone so brightly bathed her white skin in a golden colour. It seemed to flash for a moment, its light becoming intense for a moment. Arcane sigils burned their way through her skin for a moment, arching and scrawling across her forehead.

Her sword drawn as it was seemed to resound in a dark and unpleasant echo. The markings burn for a very brief moment as the light diminishes, turning from embers to smoke to nothing again.

"Do you know, what that is tiefling?" Kalma said to Mevar. "That is no light but a mote."

She turned her back on the place, she looked at Drachmir over her shoulder. "I will see if there is anything to loot."

NeoTiamat's picture
Offline
Namer
Joined: 2007-07-20
Game: The Malevolence Mandate

Drachmir nodded absently as he turned another page carefully, using his clawtips to lift the page up.

"Right."

Very odd. He paused to adjust the spectacles and peered somewhat owlishly at the page. *Very* odd.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The tiefling scowled at Kalma's words. The jig was up, although it didn't bother Mevar too much. He could pass for a human most of the time, but not in close quarters. He cast a glance at the oblivious gnoll before continuing, quietly.

"So I'm a tiefling, don't spread it around too much, alright?"

He paused. Was it just his imagination, or was Kalma acting a bit strangely? She looked almost [/i]scared[i], or at least as scared as battle-scarred woman in full armor can look.

"So what's a mote? Humor me, I'm just a city boy from Gehenna."

Center of All's picture
Offline
factotums
Joined: 2004-05-11
Game: The Malevolence Mandate

The genasi looked up at the sunlight piece and frowned. "It doesn't really look like anything special," he muttered, "Just some globe with a heat lamp spell cast on it." He shrugged, his eyes trailing up and down over the mural.

A moment later, the blue-skinned druid stretched languidly. "This place is too stale. We should go back outside."

__________________

http://kaitou-kage.deviantart.com/ -- My deviantART gallery

http://www.planescapemetamorphosis.com/ -- Planescape: Metamorphosis, a Planescape webcomic in the works

NeoTiamat's picture
Offline
Namer
Joined: 2007-07-20
Game: The Malevolence Mandate

Mevar seemed mildly disappointed by this news. He'd been hoping for something more interesting. Also more valuable. Then he brightened. This is a sun god's temple, right? Well don't sun gods like gold? It's bright and yellow.... He gazed up at the wall. It was dusty, but he could make out some hand holds in the old stone that made it up.

"Well, if it's that old magic, might still be worth something."

The tiefling walked over to the wall, then paused to adjust his clothing somewhat. From inside the white ruffled sleeves came a pair of short spikes, and another pair of spikes snapped in place on his boots. Satisfied, Mevar started to climb.

Climb Rolls vs DC 20:
Result 8+8=16 No progress
Result 6+8=14 Fall, only thing hurt is Mevar's pride.
Result 14+8=22 Moved up 7.5 feet
Result 20+8=28 Moved up remaining 4.5 feet, slight overkill.

After a few false starts which left Mevar a bit dustier then the dapper tiefling would have preferred, he reached the orb. Holding on carefully and squinting against the light, he took out the punch dagger from its sheath and tapped lightly against the material of the orb.

What's the thing made of? In particular, would it happen to be soft and yellow?

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Drachmir turned another page, squinting at it through his spectacles. Yes, they all seemed to be written that way. The gnoll looked up, ignoring the climbing tiefling.

"Anyone read Auran or Ignan?"

Center of All's picture
Offline
factotums
Joined: 2004-05-11
Game: The Malevolence Mandate

Osoron grinned at Mevar after the tiefling fell on his butt. "You'll need someone to take care of that," he said cheekily, "I think I might have just the thing."

But then he caught the gnoll asking about Auran and Ignan. The genasi looked up, then beamed in Drachmir's direction.

"I read both. What's up?" He sauntered over to the furred humanoid.

__________________

http://kaitou-kage.deviantart.com/ -- My deviantART gallery

http://www.planescapemetamorphosis.com/ -- Planescape: Metamorphosis, a Planescape webcomic in the works

NeoTiamat's picture
Offline
Namer
Joined: 2007-07-20
Game: The Malevolence Mandate

Drachmir peered over his glasses at the genasi. Somehow he didn't inspire confidence in the gnoll. Not to mention that Drachmir still had only a vague idea of who the newcomer was. Still, maybe he could be useful.

"Read this."

He reversed the book and held it before Osoron, open to the first page.

The book was fairly large, with a solid leather cover but no title. The parchment was old but tough, with black ink spelling words in Auran across the first page. Except for a little ink running. Osoron blinked. The words were now in Ignan. After several seconds, they turned back into Auran, like little moving pools of ink, forming and reforming the words.

Drachmir grinned.

"Interesting book."

Center of All's picture
Offline
factotums
Joined: 2004-05-11
Game: The Malevolence Mandate

Osoron stood before the book and stared at it intently for a time. The words swirled and after a moment, the genasi had to turn away, rubbing his eyes.

"Whatever magic that is makes it hard to read," he complained, squinting at the gnoll, "I'll cast a spell to decrypt it tomorrow. I can't read it today."

He shook his head as if to clear it and turned toward the exit. "Think the storm's passed yet?" he mused aloud.

__________________

http://kaitou-kage.deviantart.com/ -- My deviantART gallery

http://www.planescapemetamorphosis.com/ -- Planescape: Metamorphosis, a Planescape webcomic in the works

NeoTiamat's picture
Offline
Namer
Joined: 2007-07-20
Game: The Malevolence Mandate

Drachmir turned his head to listen. He couldn't hear any wind, but they were pretty far below ground.

"Should have." He turned to Kalma. "Find anything?"

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Mevar scowled. Seemed to be glass or crystal. Using his punch dagger, he pried the glowing orb out of its socket in the wall, then jumped down, landing with rather more grace then he had used getting up.

Jump check: 19+10=29 vs DC 15. Three point landing!

The tiefling dusted some grit off his black jacket then held up the glowing orb. It was warm to the touch, but no more. Mevar grimaced.

"Fear me, for I bear a glowing rock." He looked around. "Well this has been a remarkable waste of our time."

Ornum's picture
Offline
Namer
Joined: 2004-05-11
Game: The Malevolence Mandate

As Mevar held the orb aloft and spoke, the light from the sphere winked off, leaving most of the room bathed in darkness. The only light that remained came from the tome that both Osoron and Drachmir had been examining, shifting from a light blue to a deep orange, which coincided with the magically changing alphabet within the book's pages.

Noticing something even more strange, Tallus quickly cast a minor spell on the end of his staff, which flared to life with a light of its own. With the room once again illuminated, the druid's suspicions had proven true. Pointing at the wall directly in front of him, he addressed the group.

"Look at the walls. Does anyone notice anything missing?"

The walls, which once contained the mural of the desert and the ancient city, were now completely blank.

Center of All's picture
Offline
factotums
Joined: 2004-05-11
Game: The Malevolence Mandate

Osoron looked up, glanced over the walls, and then shrugged. "So maybe that stone put the murals there," he said, a touch impatiently, "We need to get back to Sigil."

He closed the book and tucked it under his arm, and then began walking back toward the sanctuary. "I'm going to go check on the storm, see if it's over yet," he called back.

__________________

http://kaitou-kage.deviantart.com/ -- My deviantART gallery

http://www.planescapemetamorphosis.com/ -- Planescape: Metamorphosis, a Planescape webcomic in the works

NeoTiamat's picture
Offline
Namer
Joined: 2007-07-20
Game: The Malevolence Mandate

The gnoll looked at the plain stone walls and shrugged. This was getting increasingly odd. Drachmir shrugged. He just wanted to get off Darbel at this point before people with sharp sticks found him.

"Mevar? Check the room for secret doors or such. Call if you find anything."

With that the gnoll turned and followed the genasi to the surface.

--------------------------------------------------------------------

"'Call if you find anything'..." Mevar mocked once the gnoll was out of hearing. He grumbled a bit, but kept quiet. Kalma's nearby presence kept him from saying anything more venomous. With a sigh, he started looking around the walls for anything of interest.

"So any idea whats going on here?"

Search: Take 20/20+9=29

Chrysalis's picture
Offline
Namer
Joined: 2004-10-27
Game: The Malevolence Mandate

Kalma looked back at the room as she looked around the open air crypt where what had once been dead now would eternally lie. A snarl and one lurched its way across the cool stone floor with a booted kick.

Things unremembered caused the bile to rise and fall. She walked back in the room, as the dust settled over her revelation and she and Mevar were left in a room.

"No. No idea of "what is going on. We should have left long ago, but now we are searching in the off hand chance that there is gold. Why bother with the game of taking to exchange for something not of equal value when one can just take?"

"A mote is the essence of a god. A bit of dusty vanity that it lost and hid away on some objects it felt close to. Sometimes they cause interesting things to become visible."

NeoTiamat's picture
Offline
Namer
Joined: 2007-07-20
Game: The Malevolence Mandate

Mevar listened to Kalma with interest. He had no idea what she was talking about, but she said it in such a pretty way. Pretty confusing for that matter. It took him a moment to puzzle through things.

"Generally if you just take something, people try and hurt you." The tiefling responded practically. "Every so often they succeed."

He gave a last look at the room. "Well, this place is empty as a tomb. Bleh. Come on, let's catch up with the others." With an impish grin, Mevar stood aside from the door, making a sweeping motion towards the exit. "Ladies first."

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Drachmir got out of the tower and looked over the desert. The sandstorm had ended a while ago it seemed, and from the progress of the sun along the horizon, it was moving on past noon. What a day.

He tried to see if the 'Sand Fleas' were around, but he couldn't be sure if the visions in the distance were them or the product of his tired imagination. Still, they hadn't attacked before, so hopefully the group would remain safe.

"Portal is that way," the gnoll said, stretching out a clawed finger into the distance."

Chrysalis's picture
Offline
Namer
Joined: 2004-10-27
Game: The Malevolence Mandate

Kalma ignored the bit of chivalry and walked on through the door back into the entombed temple.

---

Kalma eyed where the gnoll had pointed, already the storm had left and what was the sun hammering away at her like an anvil. She could feel her skin crawling as if it would already begin to blister. Kalma waited for something to happen.

NeoTiamat's picture
Offline
Namer
Joined: 2007-07-20
Game: The Malevolence Mandate

Mevar sighed and followed Kalma back to the surface. No one appreciated him.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Once everyone was on the surface, the troupe set out towards the oasis, and hopefully, civilization. They trekked in silence, the gnoll leading the way. The rest had done him no end of good.

Mevar was unfazed by the desert heat, strolling along across the sand. "So how much longer till we reach the portal?"

"Few hours" Drachmir growled.

The tiefling rolled his eyes. After a few minutes, he spoke up again. "Anyone have a good tale or two to make the walk go by faster?"

Planescape, Dungeons & Dragons, their logos, Wizards of the Coast, and the Wizards of the Coast logo are ©2008, Wizards of the Coast, a subsidiary of Hasbro Inc. and used with permission.