The farther we ventured into the depths of the city, the more it seemed we were traveling to another city entirely. The air was thin here, so thin it suffocated us while we slept. Only it was not suffocating “us”; I do not need to breathe anymore. Whether it is a part of my fey heritage or something else, I only need to inhale before I speak. The others became protected by various magics, and fortunately no one was hurt long term.
The thin air was only a slight distraction from the towers and buildings we saw as we rounded each corner of the cave. Eventually, we grew close enough to the pull of power that we entered the old goblin temple.
I am not certain what the creatures were, other than vial, but there were two of them in robes, each with six snakes for each arm. What made it interesting was the ability each snake head possessed – shooting some type of strange energy ray that seemed to have a secondary effect.
I made one of them howl with a spell, but the other resisted my magic. During the course of the fight, Gilroy took a beating, including from himself, as some of the snake rays caused him to become confused. Xerxes was knocked down some time in the beginning of the fight, but that did not stop him from participating, spellcasting from the ground even as he burned from a snake ray. The Animated did their best, but unfortunately the creatures possessed the thick, scaly hide of snakes, making it all but impossible for arrows and bolts to pierce their skin. Even Torby found difficulty injuring one of the creatures, even when he caught unawares. The first died by our hands, but the second made the room explode by casting scorching ray on whatever chemicals laid in the tubs of the room. He killed himself, and though the rest of us were injured by it, his plan worked, as we could no longer study what it was in those tubs.
In the next room Jayden found a faint aura of magic in the corner. As I came around the corner and peered into the room, I saw a Rakshasa, invisible, who smiled at me as I called him out. He tried using enchantment magic on me, suggestion, but I resisted. He said his name was Kalabar, and claimed he was the scribe for the city. We briefly questioned him about the remainder of the temple, and he gave some answers, noting we could not trust him before he dimension doored away. As Jayden continued searching the room, he found a trap on the desk drawer, which Torby was quick to disable. The notes on the scribe’s desk were plentiful, and some of them talked about the different noble houses. Those we took with us.
Down the next hallway there were two statues. I cannot remember their appearances exactly, but it is because I blocked them out of my mind. At least one was built to look dark-skinned, and I remember a jackal’s head and a very large lizard’s head. While Jayden found a locked door at the next juncture, Xerxes noticed one of the statues was built to be looking at a wall. Upon investigation with some detect magic, we found it was a wall with a power teleportation spell built into it: teleportation circle.
Torby opened the lock door and we found a half-elven woman hanging from the ceiling in the next room, bound in manacles. She had light brown hair, was maybe five and a half feet tall, and was wearing a bloody gown. She was alive, but seemed very weak. Gilroy rushed in immediately to use his healing magic on her, as Torby unlocked her manacles. Upon waking she said her name was Taraya Kirist, and that all she remembers was being at a formal event and then waking up in this room. She believes she was kidnapped, and used as a play thing, because she was assigned to spy on the rakshasa. I guess they figured her out.
After an exhausting discussion regarding a magic cloak and facing death, we headed into the final room to find a two-headed rakshasa, a panther-headed rakshasa, and a tiger-headed rakshasa. The two-headed one said, “Jayden make sure you lead them downstairs. Til then,” and then dimension doored away. I feebleminded the tiger, and we made decently quick work of him and the panther. They possessed magic, but wielded blades efficiently as well.
Downstairs, Jayden felt a pull ahead of him, almost directly in front of our group. I did not notice it immediately, but the group pointed out a mist or fog coming from the next room. On the wall, there was an image of a long-eared creature with a maw of sharp teeth, like an advanced form of goblin, or just a really angry one.
When we finally entered the room ahead, after preparing ourselves, we found a massive nightshard 10 feet wide, huge, and we could see some type of winged creature inside the nightshard. The strange fog, violet in color, was emanating from the nightshard, and the circle of stone surrounding the shard was accented with blood stone and dark stone. When Gilroy tried looking for evil in the area, it was so overwhelming it stunned his senses and his mind. Then the creature, the two-headed Rakshasa, Lord Prehasta, began taunting us. Jayden exchanged words with it as it continually tried to get him to betray us and use the nightshard’s power for himself. I do not know if Jayden was tempted, but I never detected any hesitation, although I would probably be the last person to notice.
My impatience with the creature grew, as it taunted us over and over again. Only after we had used several spells at the place we thought the creature was located did Jayden point out where it was hiding, but by the point the battle was about to begin. I had already summoned an azata from the heavens, an impressive creature, who wished to slay the evil, but even her blade had difficulty harming Lord Prehasta.
From the get-go, I wanted to destroy the nightshard. I have a tendency to break spirits and creatures out of things I guess, and maybe I was hoping for another wish. It may have proved difficult with Lord Prehasta in the room, but Xerxes polymorphed him into a cat. Unfortunately, the magic does not strip the creature of its memories, or all of its power, so I pointed out the creature, the cat, must be slain, and that we needed to take the body with us to make sure its evil would not return. Gilroy killed it; I do not envy him for that.
Breaking the creature out of the gem was interesting to say the least, as it revealed this insane-looking, and acting creature named Palazzo. A friend, of some kind, to the mages, he insisted that he could take us forward or backward in time using the magic of the room, so after a brief discussion, we went into the past.
We appeared in what should have been that same room, I think, but instead found ourselves in a blown apart building under an early night sky, with colors cascading across it and smoke filling the air. Not long after appearing we were “greeted” by the most terrifying elf I have ever seen: Keldrith.
I do not think elf is the first word I would use to describe him. He had alabaster skin, which I would later learn was the skin of a devil his friend Iskar grafted onto his body (after flensing it first), and that white skin was a direct contrast to the black veins of blood (I think) coursing through his surprisingly powerful-looking frame. On his back was a cloak or shroud of some kind that moved of its own accord, dancing its own dance. His obsidian black teeth and paled black tongue were not the result of a lack of cleanliness, but a reflection of the darkness within him. Perfectly polished, his teeth were that of a predator, even more so than the two-headed rakshasa we had faced only a moment beforehand. His hair was a dark black, not particularly long, but below his elven ears. His eyes will haunt me forever, so dark, so black, so empty, they drank the light. He had no distinguishable pupil, or white of his eye – just darkness. On his head was a beautiful looking crown, and behind him – bat wings. Keldrith’s black, leathery bat wings stretched out behind him like they were always meant to be there, but I do not think elves are supposed to possess any type of wings, unless it was magically. His? Not magic.
After briefly greeting us he analyzed our power through some spell and told us we were weak still, but answered his own assessment by casting some powerful magic, calling to his god Nuitari for power, making the stars themselves part in the sky so he could imbue us with magic beyond reason.