Saved from certain death by the time egg, Alurax began to investigate the contents of the library, finding the books on the evil Outer Planes very interesting. Gullhar made his way down one of the corridors that, according to the very artistic map he had been making, had not so far been explored. The rest of the party followed along and found that it led to a room that was completely filled with water, to a depth of about thirty feet or so. Beyond that room was another corridor, at the end of which were two golden doors.
Alurax, who had now rejoined the party, decided to swim across the pool but halfway there, a water weird materialised and attacked. It missed due to Alurax’s high armour class, but had another go – and missed again. Alurax, having found that his trident had little effect on the weird, climbed out of the far side of the pool, none the worse for wear. The rest of the party followed suit, Alagon swimming across and Elysia flying everyone else. The water weird did try to catch itself a victim but was simply unable to get anywhere near them. On his crossing of the water, Alurax spotted a large metal disc in the middle of the floor of the pool but had no time to investigate it.
Alagon led the way to the golden doors, but found that he couldn’t open them as they appeared to be locked. He called on Gullhar to deploy Larsh, and the polar bear began to hammer on the doors, shaking them but not opening them. Finally, with the assistance of Alurax, the doors were pulled off their hinges and the party peered through the opening.
Inside was what appeared to be a bedroom of sorts. There was a huge fur rug on the floor, a large four poster bed, a bedside table with some paperwork on it and on the far side of the bed, a large metal chest. Nobody could decide whether to enter the room so Gullhar took the initiative and went in, heading for the chest, which – if the examples of the other rooms were anything to go by – was where the goodies would be found. However, he noted that there seemed to be no lock to the chest and its lid seemed to just slide off. He was about to do so when there was a flash of magical power and before the horrified eyes of the party, Gullhar crumbled to dust.
At once, Alurax deployed his time egg to wind back the previous five minutes and the party found itself on the far side of the golden doors again; Alurax explained what was about to happen and the party resolved to be more cautious when investigating the chest. They tried various means of getting it open without touching it but found that it was impossible to do so. Having reached what appeared to be a dead end, they retraced their steps to the laboratory and took the other narrow passageway.
Alagon took the lead and after a couple of turns in the passageway, which was only five feet wide, he noticed a symbol on the wall ahead. He moved closer to see what it said and it suddenly glowed with a sinister magical power. He began to feel very confused, seeing weird visions of the rest of the party without faces, the walls sprouting tentacles and other strange hallucinations. Gullhar dragged him away and back to the laboratory, where he crawled into a corner, whimpering and gibbering.
Using her magical knowledge, Elysia deduced that what Alagon had seen was probably a Symbol of Insanity and there were only three ways around it – a heal spell, a wish or a restoration. She decided that the only way to get clerical help was to find Ferros and that meant a teleportation to Vergez. She held on to Alagon, told the party to await her return and vanished.
She arrived in the city safely. Unsure as to where Ferros might be, she sent Relic to find him but the pseudo-dragon had no luck. Elysia then asked the guards at the city gate if they remembered a cleric and a horde of zombies and skeletons leaving at all. The guards at the western gate said that they had seen him leading his merry band up the western road and Elysia set off, having hired a couple of horses and tied Alagon safely onto one of them.
Two days later, she arrived at a site where a large number of zombies and skeletons were working hard on digging foundations, clearing trees and transporting stone blocks. She swiftly found Ferros, consulting an architect on the progress of the new temple of Foik. He was pleased to see her but when she explained what she needed, he told her that he was not a high enough level cleric to cast any of the spells she was asking for. He recommended a friendly cleric in Vergez and after bidding him farewell, she rode back to the city again.
By now it was October 16th, which meant that she’d been away for four days. She hoped that the rest of the party had been okay in her absence and had not wandered too far from the laboratory. She found the cleric and after explaining the situation and mentioning Ferros’ name, they agreed a sum of 10,000 gold pieces to heal Alagon. The spell was swiftly cast and Elysia teleported back to the laboratory. To her great relief, the party was still there, having spent their time exploring the safe areas of the dungeon and reading the scrolls and tomes in the library.
The party decided that it would be best if they explored the passageway at a crawl so that they would not see the symbol that had caused Alagon so many problems. This approach worked, but as they neared the mid-point of the passage, Alurax crawled over a glyph of warding and it exploded beneath him, causing him a great amount of burn damage. The lead was taken by Alagon, who was keeping a keen eye out for suspicious looking glyphs and symbols. Thus it was that he spotted one ahead and managed to trigger it with a ten foot pole. It sprouted sickly green fronds, replete with barbs and thorns, which shimmered in the air for a few moments, before dissolving into nothingness.
The far end of the passageway debouched onto a long hallway, off which opened five doors. At the far end of the hallway, there was another five-foot wide passageway. Alagon tried the door nearest to him and found that it led into a bedroom which, from the state of the furnishings, had not been used for a long time. He searched it but found only perfumes and women’s clothing.
Gullhar sent Larsh through another door and the sound of clanging and crashing was soon heard. Once Larsh had come out, Gullhar went in and found that the room was a disused kitchen. A small passageway, only three feet high, led off it; he followed and found a low-ceilinged room where the withered skeletons of eight hobbits were chained. In the eighth compartment, a violet fungus waited for victims but it failed to hit the doughy elf and he – along with Alagon – soon hacked the malevolent plant to pieces.
The next door led to a large dining room with an oaken table, at which there was a large silver chair. Too big to be easily portable, the party noted it as treasure and moved on. They also investigated an old bathroom, but there was nothing of interest there.
Finally, they found another bedroom, in which were two beds and more female clothing. Alagon, whilst searching the bedside tables, found a large sapphire in a pouch, but sensed great evil coming from it. Alurax looked into the gem and sensed a malign intelligence therein, trying to establish mental contact.
With his elvish abilities, Gullhar detected a secret door in the wall opposite the door, which – when followed – led back to the bedroom with the metal chest.
There was only the narrow passageway to investigate now, and Elysia sent Relic up it to see what he could find. He reported that it led back to the library, and that there were two dangerous glyphs there, which the party wisely decided to avoid.
Returning to the library, the party pondered their options. Finally, they decided to look again at the water room, where the mysterious silver disc suggested that there might be something underneath. But what?
New Story Arc Begins In Valiant's X-O Manowar #4 - Out Tomorrow... - As well as new adventures of Aric of Dacia, the collected issues of the first arc of this new run of X-O Manowar (Vol 1: Soldier) will also be available to...
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