They pulled the Devils Bride’s longboat onto the makeshift shore of the island’s cave. Gretel deduced that from the rough edges present on both the cave’s entrance and the broken rocks that made up the shore, that none of this had been exposed to the elements for very long. This cave was new, and from the way the entrance grew winder as it drew inside, it was possible that some force exploded outward from within. Alluvian discovered the telltale signs of tracks, there had been movement through the rocks on the ground, at least at some point the statue had moved by its own will. There were minor signs of smaller tracks as well.
Ragnork took the lead, delving deeper into the cave. Ved’rail continued to play his enchanted instrument, the music’s power canceling out the anti-magic aura that surrounded the island. Samnymian had done a quick test, sending out a light spell to determine that they had about a twenty foot radius around them in which magic will still function. Before long, the cave opened up into a large chamber, dominated on the far side by a curved surface of pearlescent blue material traced with fine edgings of silver, now faded and dull. The smooth surface was marred in the center by a vicious rent, eight feet wide and well over fifteen feet tall. The hole was filled with a familiar oily black metal, that appeared to have oozed over the opening like hot wax, hardening into a unpleasent looking patch. The metal bore a striking resemblance to the Abyssal Iron they found in the demon infested volcano.
Ved’rail continued to play, his fingers deftly plucking the strings, to continue to provide access to the magics everyone employed. Alluvian confirmed the tracks had passed through the rent in the blueish wall, and followed them over to the side of the cave where it was clear a campsite had recently been left. The campsite had been large, for perhaps two dozen, and there were a few crates left over from supplies which bore the sigil of the Church of the Benevolents. Ragnork took a few minutes to confirm that the campsite had not been hastily abandoned, they had methodically packed up before continuing on to there destination. Likely though the tear in the blue wall.
Alluvian and Ragnork used their enchanted blades to cut away the Abyssal Iron patch in the wall. The unholy metal howled as it was cut, then dropped heavily to the rocky ground. They cut away enough to allow the far side to be viewed. On the other side was a wall of crimson light. The wall looked like web of red light at the center of which was an orb that appeared to spin and fall in on itself, causing the viewer to struggle to focus on it. The red lines of the web looked like oozing wax, or even blood, flowing from the edges into the orb at the center. Samnymian could see that there was a larger area beyond the wall, but the light glared to brightly to allow him to see any details, although everyone could hear scratching sounds from the other side.
Although clearly magical in nature, the wall didn’t depend on Ved’rail’s playing to operate, leading them to conclude the wall and anti-magic aura were linked in some way. A simple spell directed at the wall by Samnymian saw the magics fall into the sphere, consumed, seemed to confim that. Weapons had little effect on the wall, it wasn’t until Alluvian reached out and touched the wall that it drew in on her palm and vanished, seeming absorbed into the Fey’ri herself.
Beyond the wall was a small chamber, about fifteen feet wide and thirty feet deep. As the light from Samnymian’s magics chased away the darkness, a hallway, and several worn looking doors came into view. The chamber they found themselves in looked elven in design, but the stone looked faded, as if the essence of the stone had been bleached away. They found bodies on the floor, recent dead, semi consumed by some long clawed fiend. The wounds looked familiar, as if they’d seen others slain in a similar fashion. But where the killers were, or the source of the scratching heard earlier, there was no sign.
They continued the search, opening a few doors to peer into empty rooms, splattered with blood, but not dust, as if the place had been sealed tight until recently breached. Without warning, sickly, spindly limbed beings appeared amongst them. Armed with long spears, their bodies oozing a foul acidic ichor, the demons screeched as they attacked. The group formed a line around Ved’rail as he continued to play, his music ensuring their weapons would be viable against the outsiders. The combat ended swiftly, demons melting into pools of acidic slime with the living barely scratched. One demon was able to take advantage of the music as well, teleporting away moments before death.
In the aftermath of the battle, they had a chance to closely examine their surroundings. Much of the area was filled with stone. Not rubble, but a solid mass, that blocked off rooms and passageways. It appeared as if molten rock had poured into the building then solidified, leaving some areas untouched. Gretel noted that the edges were not smooth, like one would find with cooling, but instead sharp, which to her made little sense. Samnymian concluded that some form of magical effect had generated this, perhaps the same that had brought this building to this remote location.
They explored onward, Aluvian opened a door and was suddenly beset upon by the demon that had teleported away earlier. The fiend was dispatched swiftly, leaving a bubbling pool of acidic ichor as the only sign of its existence.
Demons. Again. Aluvian was incensed, she charged down the spiral staircase they had discovered, taking two steps at a time. She quickly outpaced Ved’rail and entered the anti-magic field, but that did little to quell the huntress’ rage. The stairs gave way to a landing that opened up onto another floor, as well as continuing downward. Two demons stood there, looking at the steps below. They were covered in dark feathers and shrouded in foul smelling spores. They screeched angrily in Abysaal at some minions below. And then she was upon them, raining down blows from her heavy two handed blade.
The demons fought back, reduced to beak and claw by the anti-magic field. One met its end upon the Aluvian’s blade, exploding into a shower of rotting meat and feathers. Heavily wounded, but still filled with outrage, Aluvian and the remaining demon fought on as the rest of the group reached the landing. The last demon was felled and Gretel was able to heal the rangeress before she could succumb to her wounds.
Beyond the sickening remains of the two demons, they could see a dozen or more squat demons pounding away at what appeared to be a wall of freshly harvested wood blocking further decent down the stairs. The nearly mindless minions had already pounded a foot of wood into pulp, and continued to do so, heedless of their presence or the lack of constant shrieking by the now dispatched vrock demons.
They maneuvered into position, then unleashed spells in the overlapping area of Ved’rail’s music to slay the minions with almost embarrassing ease. Faced with the magically created Wall of Wood, Samnymian summoned an Lesser Orb of Fire that slowly burned its way through. Where the brute force of the demons failed, the fire quickly cut a path through. When the orb neared completing a breach in the wall, they could hear voices on the other side, preparing for a fight against what was believed to be demonic foes.
A confrontation was averted as both sides chose to take a chance and talk before drawing steel. The leader of the small group on the other side was Talethian Larthane, and Elven adventurer and friend to the family of Samnymian and Ved’rail. Talethian lead his men through the breach in the wall, introducing Burgen Ironfall, a veteran dwarven warrior and two human sailors from Kovir, Gellori and Meddin.
As Gretel tended to the wounded, Talethian explained what brought them to this place;
Information came to the Church of the Benevolents in Kovir about a lost Elven stronghold on a rocky island in the Bay of Azuretherix. The Church believed that Avenesse was using the stronghold as a navel base for the pending war on Kovir. They selected one of their best Knights, Darsarias Corendale to lead an expedition to the island. Darsarias’ second, a woman they knew as Ashna, recruited Talethian and his friend Burgen. Talethian took the job on the chance that the information was correct, he would in turn pass what he learned to Tal’Mytherasil, while Burgen enjoyed the coin.
The island was found and the entrance to the cave discovered. Within the cave was the half burred pinnacle of a tower of elven design. There were no doors into the pinnacle, so Darsarias’ Sorcerer used magics to breach the wall. This proved to almost be their undoing, there was still some form of defensive spell on the place, which resulted in a much larger cave opening. A golem staggered out of the breach, but only made it to the edge of the cave before coming to a halt.
They entered the upper floor and began to explore the empty tower. The interior was a mess, any non stone work long since turned to dust. They recovered a few magical trinkets as they progressed; three wands with a handful of charges, a lantern with adjustable color light, arcane sight spectacles, and a metal device that when attached to the spine of a book, preserves it from harm. Three floors down, they found that central spiral staircase was blocked, but they also found a teleportation circle on the floor. Arcane energy activated the circle, which acted as a one-way teleporatation to another location in the complex.
Further exploration took them to the lowest point in the building, where they discovered two more teleportation platforms. Darsarius sent Talethian, Burgen and six men back up to the portal on this floor to examine the runes, so the Sorcerer could compare them to those found at the new portals. Darsarius had not appreciated the earlier surprise teleport and didn’t want to repeat it without being prepared.
They had only begun to copy down the runes when suddenly they were beset upon by demons. They lost four men in the initial fray, the sailors simply not prepared to deal with the fiends as seasoned adventurers are. Talethian used a item to generate a wall of wood in the staircase to slow down the flow of demons when suddenly all magic ceased to function. Fortunately, the demons were just as hindered by the lack of magic as they were.
They’d remained on this floor for four days, working out a plan to escape the trap they found themselves in. There hadn’t been any word from Darsarius, Ashna or dozen men they’d left behind. Talethian was grateful for their intervention and rescue, but he had one question for Samnymian,
“I was told by your family that you were dead, how is it that you are here?”