Flames and Steel: The Chromatic War

The Guardians of Ancient Stone

The dead dragons lay just about everywhere. The only more prevalent thing in this place was the very sand they stood on. Well, stood on when not having to step on corpses that was. The once majestic creatures appeared to have been dead for a least the past couple of days. That did little to put their minds at ease, however.

Deciding that this would classify as a crypt, what with all the dead in it, the group continued on. They began searching rooms throughout the crypt and didn’t find overly much of interest.

Instead, the first interesting things actually found them.

Sandmen. Very upset sandmen it seemed as they didn’t hesitate to attack the group. Three of them attacked the adventurers. As there were only three enemies, the fight should have been a simple matter for the increasingly experienced group. But the vast majority of the group was unable to inflict serious damage. Instead it fell to Desira and Al’ev “Olive” Reldin‘s magic and Garyuu Reddaile’ fists. After a lengthy encounter the group managed to put down the monsters for the time being and continued on.

While they continued searching for the stone crystals, Al’ev showed Sindri Stribog the reason why they had all come here in the first place. The stone that contained at least a part of his mother’s soul. Sindri examined the object with avid interest and confirmed what the Quellion witch had told Al’ev in the forest outside Daora. Al’ev was a little surprised that the halfling was able to hear this nursery rhyme he had heard from within the stone as well. Asking for the stone back they continued to search the tomb which gave them both time to think about other things.

Such as the room they had just entered. It was much larger than the standard 10×10 rooms they had ventured into thus far. This room was very large. So were some of the dead dragons that covered the floor. As for the floor itself? The blue and white scales of numerous dead drakes of varying ages were now all that could be seen. This room had seen some heavy fighting.

On the opposite side of the room was what appeared to be a pair of very large doors. On it was a relief that seemed to depict prisoners and their captors…as well as a very large crystal. A prisoner who was being forced to touch the crystal appeared to be in the process of turning to sand, a look of agony on its face. While some of the group was examining this closer others had decided to check out a pair of rooms that were part of a hallway that branched off from this larger room. Eremes and Caramel, on the other hand, were more concerned with what they saw approaching from the room’s entrance. It seemed their friends, the sandmen, weren’t quite done with them yet.

Another fight ensued. This one appeared to nearly exhaust Garyuu and Al’ev. It was only thanks to Sindri’s added magical might that they were able to take the pair of sand creatures down to grains again.

Once again they continued on, finding nothing else of important note as they search several more 10×10 rooms. They had just made it to another of these rooms when they were jumped yet again by their friends.

Make that friend, as this one attacked alone. This fight appeared to take almost all the remaining strength out of Al’ev and Garyuu. But the group succeeded in downing this creature again. They all hoped it would stay dead this time.

Having caught their breath, they ventured forward again through a hole in the wall. They emerged in a room on the opposite side of the large doors they had failed to open. In it was more dead dragons. What dominated their view, however, was a very large blue dragon that appeared to not be moving at all. On closer inspection, Al’ev was able to determine that this dragon would not be moving on it’s own again. It was quite dead.

They began looking around the room when Sindri made a discovery within a pool of blood. The halfling dove in and attempted to pull out what his senses told him was magic. He was unsuccessful, which was frustrating as whatever it was appeared to contain a voice calling for help.

Sindri told Al’ev what was going on and the half-elf decided to try his hand at retrieving whatever it was that had peaked the halfling’s interest. After all, Sindri could be scary when he didn’t get what he wanted.

With a bit of effort, Al’ev was able to snap off a piece of whatever it was that was in the pool of blood. He heard the voice a little more clearly as he touched what turned out to be a crystal. It wasn’t one he recognized however, and so he handed it over to the halfling.

Caramel pointed out that many of the room’s support columns appeared to have been destroyed in the fighting. The roof already appeared a bit buckled. While the others were discussing this, Sindri was talking with whatever was in the crystal.

The crystal’s inhabitant turned out to be the soul of the large blue dragon in the middle of the room. His name was Celestrus. Sindri learned that he was one of the guardians here who were charged with guarding the ancient stones. He was betrayed by Aerolous, a white dragon who was also charged with watching over the stones. The one mighty blue pleaded with the halfling to avenge him and destroy Aerolous before he could get very far. Eventually Sindri agreed and Salestrus revealed a hidden door and latter that lead down to where the stones were kept.

The group went down the latter and eventually found themselves in a room that was quite strange. Across from where they had entered was a door that appeared sealed. On the walls around the room were numerous glowing orbs of four different colors, red, blue, green, and yellow. There were also four pedestals within the room with symbols engraved on them. One had a triangle, another a square, the third had three vertical wavy lines and the final one had three horizontal wavy lines. These symbols were repeated by the etchings above each of the four other doorways that were in each of the room’s four corners. Being thrown across the room after an unsuccessful grab at some of the orbs, Crim lead the group down the vertical wavy line hallway. There were statues in the hallway, each carying a torch carved out of stone. The hallway eventually turned an abrupt ninety degrees. Perhaps remembering something from the past, or perhaps it was sheer dumb luck, Crim decided to crawl through this next length of hallway. He had just made it to the feet of another statue that looked straight down the hallway he had just crawled down when Garyuu, and Al’ev turned the corner.

The stone statue’s torch suddenly started glowing. Crim started to yell a warning just as Al’ev started to sense the magic. But neither had much time to react before a fireball narrowly missed Garyuu and Al’ev and hit the wall behind the two. Caramel, who was just about to turn the corner was hit with much of the heat from the missile. Al’ev and Garyuu, now slightly singed as well, retreated back around the corner.

Crim noticed that the statue had returned to normal the moment they were out of its sight. Searching the statue closer, he found a switch behind one of its legs and flipped it. This disabled the statue and allowed the group to stop just short of the next turn in the hall. At its end was another of these statues which Crim disabled. Finally past the fireball traps, the group made it to a stone door at the end of the hall. They pushed it open and found another room with no other apparent entrances or exits. The floor in this room was roughly bowl shaped, though the slope was not very steep. In its center was what appeared to be a pit that was slightly blackened on its walls. The ceiling appeared to mirror both the bowl and pit features. While everyone was looking at this, Garyuu took a look at the casket that was on the far side of the room. Opening it, he was disappointed to see several logs dissolve as the fresh air hit it. Relaying this information, the group figured out that the pit had something to do with fire.

Retreating back to the room’s entrance, the group watched as Crim threw a concoction of oil fire into the pit. The result was a pillar of fire that sprouted from the pit and into the ceiling’s pit. The pillar disappeared and Al’ev walked back over to it just in time to see something disappear from the walls within. He was not sure what it was.

The group made their way back to the pedestal room and found nothing had changed. They decided to try their luck in the square etching’s hallway. It ended up being Crim who would try his luck. The hallway was mostly uneventful until they found a 50 foot section in which the floor, ceiling, and both walls had holes within them. About halfway down this section was an indent in the room. Guessing that whatever this trap was, for it was obviously another trap, it had a switch much like the fireball statues, Crim made a leap and hit the button that was within the indent. Nothing happened as he flew through the air. But after he hit the button, that changed. From the far end of the 50 foot section came the pulsing noise of waves of darts flying. As the pulsing continued the group could see the wave as it came closer to where Crim stood.

The ninja had actually activated a deactivated trap! He paid for it with a few darts connecting as the wave passed him. Not waiting to get hit again, he continued down the path leaving the rest of the group to wait while he search the area beyond. He came to another stone door which pushed open just as easily as the one in the room of fire. This room had several debris piles strewn throughout it. On the wall was a picture of a Crystal that sat on a circular base. Taking a guess, the ninja began digging through piles until he found a crystal and base that appeared to match the picture. Satisfied that he had found what they needed to for this hallway, he came back to the waiting group, timing his run through the still pulsing 50 foot section so that he would not be hit by another wave of darts.

They all returned to the pedestal room and found the corresponding pedestal. Crim placed the crystal on it and the group watched as about a full quarter of the glowing orbs on the walls wrinkled out. They headed back to the room of fire and caused another pillar of flame to appear. This time they watched the pit a bit closer and saw the bricks inside pull back a bit to reveal a small coin. Pointing it out to Al’ev, he used a mage hand spell to pull it to them and they returned to place the coin on the flame pedestal. Another group of orbs disappeared. Only two halls remained.

They chose the triangle etching hall next. This one appeared to be a bit tricky. The group went down the hallway and found pits with spikes at the bottom in several sections of the floor. What was odd was that anything thrown into it appeared to simply disappear. Several voiced their thoughts that they were seeing another illusion. Just in case, Al’ev tied a rope around Sindri’s waste and told the halfling to try walking over the pit. With a bit of trial and error, the halfling, Al’ev and Garyuu holding onto the other end of the rope, found a safe path through the sections of floor with pits in them. Several of the pits were indeed real, just as several sections of the floor were actually illusions covering pits. With another tricky hallway behind them, they found another stone door and opened it. The room beyond was as strange as the hall they had just been through.

The whole middle section of the room was a pit with pillars that reached up from the pit’s bottom to just about floor level spaced all around. On the far side of the pit was a ledge and selves that appeared to have several vials of varying contents on it.

Caramel and Al’ev noticed writing on the wall which read “Walk on the rays of the sun.” in Sylvan. On the ground was a picture of the sun and a long string of numbers. While most of the group was puzzling this riddle out, Crim decided to just do a trial and error method. He picked a island and tested its solidarity. It was real, he jumped onto it and tested the others around it. Some were illusions much like the pits in the hall, others were real. He did this until he was at the far side where he took all the vials and shoved them into the bag of sharing. The group returned once more to the pedestal room and found a clear vial with a base that matched the indent on the pillar’s top. They placed it there and unstopped the vial. Air began rushing out of it and another quarter of the glowing orbs went dark. One hall remained.

They went down the horizontal wavy line etching hall and had no issues getting to the door. This stone door was different than the others though. Instead of opening in, it pulled up into the ceiling. Aware that this was likely the room of water, as the three previous rooms had been fire, earth and air, they all entered. This room was spherical in shape. Like the room of fire it had a gentle sloping bowl shaped floor and ceiling. At the center of the floor was a literal bowl. Sindri ran over to pick it up, but, as it cleared the ground, the door to the room slammed shut and a hole opened in the ceiling. Through that hole came rushing water which quickly began to fill up the room. Looking around for a switch, the group was unsuccessful in finding one. They noted that where the water was touching stone, the stone began to glow. Eventually lines of glowing light began forming on the floor and they lead to the four corners of the room. A few seconds later, the room was completely full of water. The adventurers were holding their breath. The lines met up at a point just off to the side of the hole the water had rushed in through. Taking a guess, Crim swam up and pressed. They were relieved when the water level began to drop and the door to the room opened up.

They were all flushed out of the room and back down the hall to the pedestal room where Sindri placed the bowl. They put some water in it and watched as all but four orbs of light dissolved. They took these four orbs and placed them in the small sockets on the door across from the one they had originally entered in. There was a small thud beyond it and Al’ev was able to push them open.

They went down this hallway, aware that they were nearing their goal. They stopped when they came to a circular room with sconces placed about it. Opposite from where they entered was another door, this one with was appeared to be a large padlock on it. Off to the left was what appeared to be an opening to a hallway. The only other thing of note in the room was a crystal chandelier that hung well above the center of the room. Garyuu and Al’ev took a step into the room. It was a mistake. The floor began to quickly tilt beneath their feet. Al’ev managed to throw himself back into the hall, but Garyuu wasn’t as quick. He fell 20 feet, and landed rather painfully on the spikes beneath. He survived simply because he was able to use the wall in the pit beneath the floor to slow his fall. But he was very hurt. Another run in with those spikes would likely spell lights out for him.

Meanwhile, Crim decided the situation wasn’t bad enough. Just as Sindri had discovered that his floating disc spell would work here, Crim latched his grappling hook onto the chandelier and tugged. Down came a green vial which, upon impact with the floor, shattered. From the contents? Poison gas. It began spreading about the floor.

Al’ev, now familiar with several of his companions abilities swiftly broke the situation down into several problems.

Garyuu was still trapped below. He should be able to climb back up as, judging from the cursing he could hear from below the floor, the monk was still alive. The floor was impossible to cross in the current state. The poison gas was the most immediate threat however. He asked Caramel to use an alter winds spell to try and delay the gasses’ approach to the sides of the floor where they could spill down and kill the monk before he could return. She attempted to shove it down the hallway that was on the left, but was surprised to find that it wouldn’t go that direction. It was another illusion. The hallway didn’t exist. There was only one direction she could keep it. Up.

She managed to buy the monk enough time to scramble back up. Al’ev then asked her to move the gas to under the floor where it would be out of the way. The gas was no longer a problem. The floor problem was solved when Sindri brought his floating disc spell into the situation. The final problem was getting the lock on the door open.

With great timing, it was then that Velius, the group’s dashing rogue, decided to snap to from his daydream. Seeing this, Sindri took Velius on his floating disk over to the padlocked door. The rogue picked the lock and the door was open. Sindri then ferried the group over to the floor one by one to the hallway beyond the now open padlocked door.

The hallway was long. The group knew what likely lay at its end. Eremes was beginning to sense evil. Sindri and Al’ev were temporarily blinded by the sheer force of magic they were sensing.

They paused to take a quick breath for it was likely that the white dragon Aerolous lay beyond…..

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R2s_JlfJjtY

The Guardians of Ancient Stone
Azcatryo

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