Slowly, the tracked vehicle and the procession of animals plodded on.
A Novyet Explorer-Sku, piloted by a Dwarf named Rugar, rode across the frozen landscape. In or on top of the vehicle was Trent, James, Zander and Helldamn Spellshroud (the Sowki formerly known as Pall Mall). They were being led through the inhospitable countryside by a trader they met named Magnus VerMagnusson, and his 8 or so Gypsy men.
The weather continued to work against the travelers but they still made slow progress on their way towards the Mongolian border. On the second day out from that weird cave the caravan encountered a small Gypsy village. Magnus and his men went into the village for their own business and invited the others to join them. Trent and Helldamn declined but both James and Zander eagerly ventured forth.
Zander took in the sights, tried to talk with some people, and ultimately just settled back to play his guitar with some other musicians for the enjoyment of those who listened. Seeing the poor and the hungry James tried to offer up some of the chocolates from his own rations – once he got them to understand that it was a treat to eat, the villagers thoroughly enjoyed it.
James then decided to go hunting for the benefit of the villagers. He managed to stalk an Elk and with almost no tools was able to easily slay the creature and prepare the carcass properly. Sills no doubt mastered by his time spent with Artemis. He returned to the village and offered to cook the meat as a feast for the village. They accepted, but Magnus had been about ready to leave. He agreed that it would be good to stay just a little longer to eat, but he was very clear – they must leave by sundown, before the moonrise.
While that happened, Helldamn was lost to his own meditation. He lay in a bunk deep in thought. Over what exactly is unknown. Rugar relaxed in the cab, still working out how he was going to solve his own personal issues. Trent had read a recently received letter by Boz and followed the instructions within to receive a rude mental surprise – in his temper and rage he lashed out in the lab area until he calmed down, then spent the rest of the time everyone else was in the village cleaning up the mess he made.
With dinner done and sundown fast approaching, Magnus, his men, Zander and James all bid farewell. They resumed their journey. James and Trent talked for a while about the letters that Trent received so far, and what their contents meant for the group. Meanwhile the travelers quietly crossed into Warlord Burgasov’s territory without incident. This placed them in the steppes of Russia.
The weather seemed to break for the next day and the group thought they would make good time for once. Shortly into the day’s travel, however, they stopped. Before them stood a Greek temple, and Magnus stated he had never seen it here before in all his travels.
Everyone present could feel voices calling out to them telepathically from inside the temple…
“Come. I am the one you seek.”
“Pick me and together we will defeat all your enemies.”
“Let me help you fight.”
And so on. More voices than could be counted, and they all overlapped but basically said the same thing: Come inside, find me, and take me with you.
The Trader and his men began to walk inside but James and Trent asked them to stop. James took charge, declaring that since this was a Greek temple, it fell under his protection and jurisdiction as the only Greek present. Magnus grumbled but made his men wait for now, but warned that they would not wait long. Trent and James then entered the temple.
There was a rune sword near the entrance, glowing and pleading to be picked up, to be wielded. But a sense of evil could be felt coming from it, so neither James nor Trent decided to pick it up. They looked around and discovered both Greek and Egyptian writing, which identified this temple as dedicated to the Greek/Egyptian god Serapis. Scattered around the temple in side rooms were what appeared to be hot baths, and more rune swords were resting in them.
James used the Dragon’s Eye gem to look around at everything, and to his surprise discovered the weapons in the baths all now looked like battle-scarred Elves and Dwarves, some of them still displaying horrific, life-ending injuries. He and Trent quickly came to the conclusion that somehow, the spirits trapped within the rune weapons could manifest freely within this place. James then looked at his own sword, Appolyesties, and was shocked to see a beautiful Greek woman.
She began speaking to James disapprovingly, and Trent could hear her for the first time. She and James got in another of their usual arguments but this time she didn’t have to stand there and take his abuse. She walked away from him and over to an unoccupied bath, where she decided she would relax and never leave from again. She felt, she said, as if she could stay here forever.
Trent was beginning to really suspect something was off about this place. His knowledge of other dimensions allowed him to recall the dimension of Palladium, which had suffered (as he recalled) from a centuries-long war of Elves versus Dwarves, and it was this war which spawned some of the most feared and powerful magical rune creations ever. At the end of that war, many of those weapons were destroyed or hidden – the most powerful, sealed.
As impossible as it seemed, Trent was now beginning to believe that this temple somehow was one such place. A prison, or a vault, for dangerously powerful rune weapons. Putting this thought to the test, Trent went and talked with Appolyesties. He introduced himself and the two of them had a pleasant conversation. She re-iterated her desire to stay there forever, without James, and Trent convinced her into at least trying to leave (“If you can leave anytime you want to, then prove it”). She walked to the entrance and was stopped by an invisible barrier which was unseen and unfelt by Trent and James. Both of them became a little worried at this point.
The swords were all still calling out for release, for wielders, and Magnus and his men were growing restless. They started moving to come in anyway. Trent tried to open a dimensional pocket and have the weapons transported and hidden in that manner, but the barrier prevented the swords from entering the pocket as well.
Magnus and his men entered, and they found the place to be an awe-inspiring treasure trove. The quickly dispersed throughout the place to examine everything in more detail, and to ascertain everything of value. The didn’t get to do too much, however. One of the men picked up the sword near the entrance and instantly transformed into a twenty foot tall giant demonic creature which called itself Necrom. He announced that he would cleanse the world of Elves one life at a time and began looking around.
Magnus was perplexed and, using his magnetic powers, attempted to wrest the weapon from the former Gypsy’s hand. Necrom was too strong, and decided at that moment that Magnus looked enough like an Elf to him. Necrom swung and before Magnus could properly defend himself the weapon tore through his armor and cut into him deeply, dropping him to the floor in a bloody, unconscious mess.
His men shook out of their euphoric treasure-induced trances to see the threat in the middle of the room which had seemingly killed their leader, and immediately attacked – half with rune weapons, and the other half with rail guns. James and Appolyesties sort-of made up from their argument. The rune sword woman actually grabbed a nearby rune sword herself and charged into the battle. James, now weaponless, also grabbed a random rune sword and ran to engage the creature.
Trent suddenly remembered the Deevil and the Demon spy in the troupe, and wanted to kick himself in the ass for not dealing with them sooner. He looked around but only saw the disguised Demon. He couldn’t see the Deevil anywhere. Trent hadn’t felt any dimensional travel so he was positive the creature was lurking somewhere, likely up to no good. But he had more pressing matters to deal with – Necrom was one by one dropping his attackers.
Trent tried casting a few spells at the creature but they seemed to have no effect. He then cast a Time Stop spell to encompass the creature and all the melee combatants. That spell worked, and Trent then tried to convince the Gypsies around the room to start concentrating their fire against the creature during this brief reprieve. A couple of them agreed to the plan, while the Demon and another one decided to live to fight another day and ran away.
Trent took this opportunity to drag Magnus away and cast a Greater Healing spell on him. It seemed to work, though Trent didn’t know for sure since he had no medical skills. Trent began to furiously think of something to do. With little other choice, he broke down and radioed back to the truck to stir Helldamn from his meditation and have him come help. The Sowki made some non-committal noises but did come out of his meditative trance. Once he assessed the situation through the radio/video cameras, he began casting spells on himself to protect and enhance himself for battle.
The Time Stop ended and all the rounds from the rail guns impacted Necrom with noticeable effect – it seemed they may have turned the tide! In its rage Necrom lashed out powerfully, and fell the rest of the Gypsies. At that moment James made a decision he had been putting off for some time now. He stepped back while Appolyesties held the beast’s attention, took out a certain key, and unlocked the bracelet on his arm which restrained his godly power.
With a flash a red glow enveloped James, and the power from the amulet surged into and through him. The lock melded into him as his body drank in all the power which had been held by the bracelet. James flexed and felt powerful again, like he did back in Africa years ago… or maybe nearly so? It seemed to James he didn’t actually feel quite as powerful as he remembered. Before he could dwell on this further, Appolyesties shrieked in pain and the beast sliced into her manifested form. James rushed in, activating magical talismen as he did so, in order to pit his godly might against Necrom.
Appolyesties fell. Trent tried another spell and the monster eyed him as its next target. Trent’s reaction was to use the Deevil amulet to metamorph into a Dwarf form. This confused the beast and it went back to combat versus the newly empowered James, who managed an amazing blow that blinded the creature in one eye. Bellowing in pain, it redoubled its attacks against James. Unfortunately the demigod’s power wasn’t enough, even newly-unleashed, and with one final blow James was ran through. He fell to the ground, the life rushing out of him.
Trent did the only thing he could think to do – he metamorphed again, this time into an Elf, and deliberately got the creature’s attention. “Hey, ugly! Look over here! Hey! Your mother was an Elf!” Confused and enraged Necrom charged at the Elven looking Trent but with his depth perception destroyed he missed and ran headlong into the invisible barrier at the entrance. Trent quickly slipped by the stunned monster and stood just on the other side of the door, continuing to throw taunts and jeers at Necrom in an effort to keep it away from James, Appolyesties, Magnus, or the other Gypsies.
Necrom got tired of banging uselessly against the barrier and tried to reverse-taunt Trent by threatening to hurt the recently fallen James. Trent wagered that as long as he kept up his own actions and refused to acknowledge his friendship to James, Necrom wouldn’t follow through. Luckily, it seemed he was right and Necrom soon bored of this and walked away, to rage in some of the back areas of the temple out of sight.
Helldamn arrived at this point, buffed up magically for a fight, but instead worked with Trent to get Magnus and the dead Gypsies out of there. James healed past the critical point and became conscious again. Trent felt a dimensional portal open inside the temple, near the back somewhere out of sight. Acting fast, the three of them exited the temple and outside Trent cast an Anti-Magic cloud over the temple. This was to cut off the Dimensional Portal, and an attempt to bypass the mystic barrier preventing the exit of rune items. James was able to pick up Appolyesties and bring her out, yet curiously the other weapons Trent tried still could not exit.
Wondering about that Portal, and that still unaccounted for Deevil, Trent cast magic to become invisible both to the naked eye and mystically. He then dared to sneak back into the temple to see what was occurring in the back of the place. When he got there he encountered about half of a Deevil squad! The Deevils were simultaneously arguing about what had happened to shut the portal, and ecstatic over the treasure trove of rune weapons. Trent used morse code to silently communicate with his teammates.
Helldamn was ready for battle, but needed Trent to drop the anti-magic cloud first. Trent told him to be ready and then used Time Slip to gain a 7.5 second advantage against the Deevils. He cast Time Warp: Stop Time spells to temporally freeze most of the Deevils there. He then cancelled the anti-magic cloud. He missed a couple, but a Magic Net incapacitated one, and Helldamn went to take care of the other one.
But with the anti-magic cloud gone, the portal re-appeared! Quickly the remainder of the Deevil squad stepped through, explaining how happy they were to be able to escape Necrom – it seemed he slipped into Dyval when the portal first opened, and was wreaking havoc! A Deevil Beast arrived, armed with a scroll it was preparing to cast. It was no fool, and was going to do something about whatever they were facing now. Trent used Ignite Fire to burn the scroll up in the creature’s hands and it’s response was to have two of it’s underlings also pull out scrolls, so that all three of them would try to cast whatever was on it.
Trent didn’t wait for whatever they were trying to cast to happen – he used Time Slip again and dropped another Time Stop on the new group, and their dimensional portal. When he resumed normal time he announced to his companions that they had about two and a half minutes to figure out how to get the goods and get out. They began investigating the temple and Helldamn identified a series of Wards. He required Trent to disarm them for him and once they were disarmed, Trent retrieved an ancient book written in archaic Dwarven.
Trent skimmed the book to discover that only “good” weapons could leave, and then only if bonded to an owner. Trent quickly comminucated that to the rest of the party. Helldamn grabbed a weapon that was compatable with him, and James grabbed two that would not hurt him either. Trent found one that matched his own ethics as well. Time was almost up on the Time Stop spells and Trent wanted to make sure they had some extra time to get away, so he began to recast the spell in all its currently active locations.
In casting the third one, something happened and Trent felt a temporal anomaly start to form. The time stop warp effect itself warped, and in only a few moment whatever was going to happen, would happen. Trent yelled at the others to pick up whatever they had and run out, now! Both James and Helldamn were able to leave the temple with their weapons, but Trent found his was still affected by the barrier.
He stood there in horror as these weird, almost demonic looking beings seemingly walked right out of the time stop effect he had active. Trent’s mystic invisibility was still effective against these creatures it seemed, since they didn’t seem to notice Trent. Instead they examined the time stop areas and talked amongst themselves in a strange language. Through the Tongues spell, Trent understood what they said, and his companions did as well.
“The is definitely the work of the Doctor. Trent Logan may not be here now, but he was here recently. We’re close.”
Trent tried again with the sword but it still was stuck. The spirit inside implored him to take her with him, and he mentally replied that he was trying, it was her fault it wasn’t working. He gave the sword one more try, intending to drop it and run away if it didn’t work – and if it did, he still had every intention of running away! The entire temple area sort of… blinked and wrinkled in space and time at that moment, and it allowed Trent to remove the rune sword. She began speaking to him but he silenced her in his mind. James, however, seemed to be having a three way argument with Appolyesties and the other two weapons he grabbed. Helldamn looked normal – as normal as a crazy Sowki can look, anyway.
Trent cancelled the time stop spells, hoping the Chaos would buy them the time they needed to get the hell out of there. Working with Rugar and the Gypsies still alive, they got the vehicle and the pack animals out of there fast! Just in time to see and feel the entire temple collapse in on itself in a massive dimensional and temporal implosion, sucking everyone and and thing there into the void between dimensions. Thankfully, it did not suck in anyone or thing from the group.
Rugar backtracked for a ways, then Trent had him begin a slow turn around that would give the ex-temple area a wide berth. He also used illusionary terrain to cover their tracks and leave a false trail heading in the opposite direction. Only after travelling for a few hours unmolested did Trent finally start to relax.
James and Helldamn both confronted Trent about what happened, but the only thing Trent could really say had to do with that letter from Boz. They both read it and asked Trent a lot of questions he didn’t have answers to. When they asked about the memories in the amulet that Boz mentions, Trent offers to let them wear the amulet briefly in order to experience those Deevil memories for themselves – forgetting that months of Trent’s own memories were on there as well!
Magnus was revived and had the situation explained to him. He was now down to two Gypsies. He wasn’t too broken up by their deaths and simply said they needed to press on to where they were headed. If they traveled through the whole night, they would have put 1,000 miles between themselves and Warlord Seryev’s encampment.
Slowly, the tracked vehicle and the procession of animals plodded on.