Ladies in Hades and the Dyval Wears Prada
Journal - Trent - Entry 50
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Now that I’ve addressed those letters, it’s time to get caught up again.
I won’t re-iterate the weather. It’s cold and it sucks. It’s not likely to change anytime soon. Not while we’re still trekking across Russia. We’ve traveled close to 1,000 miles so far, according to the truck’s instruments and my maps.
We ran across a village, but that was quick and simple. Just a stop for a few hours. That happened right after I started getting that barrage of letters, so I didn’t bother to get out in the cold and interact with whoever was there, since I was digesting all that information. It was a town of Gypsies, I found out later. I did miss James killing an Elk with his bare hands, that sounded… well, a little unnecessary. Isn’t he some sort of hunter? Why didn’t he just use a bow and arrow?
Whatever. There’s more on him later. A day or so after the village we ran across a temple in the middle of the Russian wilderness. Magnus swore he’d gone this way many times but never seen it there before. It had writing in Greek and Egyptian – James immediately identified it as a temple to some Egyptian-slash-Greek god named Serapis. We all could hear voices in our minds beckoning us to come in – that was incredibly worrysome. But Magnus and his men seemed eager to follow those voices inside.
James moved in front of them to block their way faster than I could try to formulate a speech to convince them why following strange voices was such a bad idea. He gave a speech about being Greek and how it was a Greek temple and he took responsibility or something like that. It placated Magnus and his men and gave us a little while to explore.
After our initial look, it seemed like a bath house for rune weapons. But when we observed them through our Dragon’s Eye gems, we could see them as the spirits they were in life! What we saw were all battle-scarred Elves and Dwarves. They all still beckoned us to pick them up and wield them. Something nagged at my mind with this… Elves, Dwarves, rune weapons… I started to get the feeling this was connected to the dimension of Palladium, where a war raged between the two races that made both sides want to make rune weapons. After the war, the survivors tried to atone by destroying or sealing away those that they could find.
When I looked back at James to discuss this with him I was shocked to see him shocked by the very same thing I was now seeing. His sword, Appolysties, was also affected by this place and before our sight was a beautiful Greek woman. She and James started arguing, something I had seen him do occasionally with this sword, but this time I could hear her talking to him and hear what she had to say! Incredible! For a moment I contemplated taking out my own rune-ish item, my staff of time, but then decided against it. The creature within was an Elemental essence and I didn’t think I’d be able to do more with it here than I have been able to before. It was just as good that I didn’t.
Appolyesties walked away from him and announced that she rather liked it here, and wished to stay forever. In retrospect I think it may have just been a little lover’s spat, but at the time it really worried me. I started to envision this place as a prison for rune items – no, prison wasn’t the right term. A retirement home, maybe? I went to talk with Appolyesties (which is how I learned her name – James always calls her “Apple” for short – no respect!) and asked her nicely to try and leave, if she could. To our surprise she was blocked by an invisible wall at the door! It didn’t affect James or I, but it seemed that now Appolyesties was stuck here too.
Not that I needed a reason to figure out how to break these rune weapons out of here – I mean, what a treasure trove! But for James’ sake there was now a personal reason to do so. Which, I might add, is something I would’ve loved to have done. But at that time Magnus got tired of waiting and marched in with his troupe. I tried to place some weapons in a dimensional pocket, thinking that could get them out, but the barrier existed there as well.
Magnus and his men marveled at the treasure trove in front of them. One of the men picked up a sword that was near the entrance – James had gone to pick it up earlier, but it radiated a sense of evil that warned him off. This guy though, he either didn’t notice it or didn’t care, and as soon as he grabbed it he transformed into a 20 foot tall demonic creature who called himself Necrom, the Undying. He professed a desire to kill Elves and then cut down Magnus because he “looked like an Elf.”
This was about the point that I remembered, there was a Deevil and a Demon spy amongst Magnus’ men. What were they doing? With the Dragon’s Eye gem I looked but only saw the Demon, wisely sitting out the fight on the sidelines.
Oh yeah, the fight. Everyone pretty much ran in to fight Necrom. Gypsies with rune swords, Gypsies with rail guns, James with a new rune sword, and… Appolyesties, weilding a sword of her own! Necrom was laying waste to his attackers so I had little time to consider the missing Deevil. I tried to hit Necrom with a few spells but they seemed to have no effect. Until I used a Time Stop spell. That worked.
The Demon and another Gypsy took that opportunity to flee – we haven’t seen them since. Good riddance! The others started stacking up their weapon fire so that when the time stop effect ended, Necrom would be in for a world of hurt! I took the opportunity to see if Magnus was alive. He was, and I used magic to stabilize him. I pulled him out of the way so he could recover. We needed him to survive to keep guiding us through this land.
The time stop ended and battle resumed. Necrom took a LOT of damage but it still wasn’t enough. He defeated everyone but James and Appolyesties. It seemed then that James made a decision. He stepped back out of the fight, with Appolyesties covering him, and unlocked the locket on his wrist. An aura of power enveloped him and I could feel his power level increase… somewhat. I’ve been around gods before, and I must say compared to them James did not impress. But what do I know about this process, anyway? What does anyone know?
According to James, he was elevated to godhood by Zeus a few years ago, but then the same Zeus sealed away his godly power into that bracelet. Is that really what happened, I wonder? To hear James tell it, the power he wielded then was a whole league more than what he wielded in that temple. Did Zeus actually take power away from the demigodling and feed him a lie? Who know. I’m sure the god is too mad now to even ask.
Which begs an excellent question – if this plague on magical energy has affected the gods so severly, then will James succomb to the same madness as his family and all the other Pantheons? I’ll have to watch him closely to see if he starts showing signs.
Back to the fight! James re-entered combat but he still wasn’t powerful enough. First Appolyestes, then James himself fell to the demon. Both were near death, so I did something incredibly stupid.
That’s right James, you don’t have a monopoly on doing stupid things.
I used the Deevil amulet to morph into an Elf and taunted Necrom, in order to get him to leave James alone. It worked too well! Only because his rage made him miss me on his first pass did I have the chance to get outside, and use the weird barrier to my advantage. Once I was safe, I really riled him up!
It took some time but he eventually left us alone to go rage somewhere else in the temple. Necrom may not be a stupid, beastly brute, and that’s something I will need to remember. Pall Mall finally woke up from his nap and came to join us, so we extracted James, Magnus, and the other dead Gypsies. James’ powers of healing kicked in and he came to. Appolyesties, looking as a human, appeared to be dying. I used some healing magic on her and it seemed to help. I don’t know if it was necessary for me to do that or not, but… well, if something happened to her I’d have to hear James whine about it, so I felt it was better to do something.
I felt a dimensional portal open from the back of the temple and we knew that couldn’t be good. We needed to hurry up. That Deevil was still unaccounted for, and probably the cause of the portal! To try and get Appolyesties out (and the other weapons!) I put up an anti-magic cloud over the place.
It didn’t seem to help, unfortunately. What powerful magic keeping these things here! Even the near-legendary Anti-Magic Cloud couldn’t negate the spell. I stealthed up in order to see what was going on in the back of the temple, where the Dimensional portal was. I was not surprised to find Deevils – about six or so. But I surprised them! With a Time Slip and some Time Stops, I immobilized most of them. I cancelled the Anti-Magic Cloud so Pall Mall could enter and join the fight if necessary.
Oh, wait, I forgot. I’ve called him Pall Mall twice now, but he’s really Helldamn Spellshroud. Somehow, he claims to have been a captive in Pall Mall’s mind for years, and only recently managed to free himself. I’m no mental expert, and if this is an insanity it’s definately a strong one – his magic, his attitude, even somehow his physique all seem to be different now. I thought briefly about using one of the Millenium Tree’s leaves on him, but I need to keep those close – I need to keep one handy in case I need to deal with an exceptionally mad mage.
And the other I decided a long time ago I would use in my future, in the past, on Num I can’t waste one now on Pall Mall, or Helldamn, or Hablar, or whoever he decides to be. As long as he helps up, he can do what he needs to and I’ll play the game.
Helldamn found a straggler I missed and dispatched him. But with the Anti-Magic Cloud gone, the portal re-opened and another seven or more Deevils popped through! They were led by a Beast, and he was armed with a scroll of some kind. I didn’t give him the chance to use it and incinerated it in his hands! His response? He and two others each withdrew a scroll, to use them simultaneously. Exceptionally smart. But not smart enough. Another Time Slip and a Time Stop and they just all stood there for me, silently frozen in time. Even the portal was caught in the effect.
Finally. NOW we could start trying to figure this place out. Necrom was nowhere to be found – did he find a way to slip out through the portal? As long as he was kickingthe Deevil’s asses the way he handed our own to us then I certainly hoped so! Helldamn identified an area with a bunch of wards that he found. I spent the time and energy to dispell them since he apparently couldn’t do so anymore. Or maybe he just wanted to investigate the weapons? Both he and James were checking out the weapons, which was jsut as well – we would need an inventory of them eventually and having them readily accessable to take should we drop this barrier would make our exit from here much simpler.
The wards guarded a small compartment, and inside I found a book written in ancient Dwarven. Using the magic of The Eyes of Thoth I skimmed the book for information to help us in our task. Sure enough, it seemed to talk about the barrier and the purpose of sealing away the items in this place. It was as I thought, the survivors of the war locking up some of their most powerful artifacts! I was certainly excited! According to the book, in a time of great need, one could remove items which were “good” as long as they were bonded with a wielder. I pocketed the book to review it in more detail at a later time.
How super convenient, I remember thinking. Take the “good” ones, and leave the “evil” ones sealed behind? OKAY. I rapidly told the others about this and they started to pick amongst the weapons STILL all shouting telepathically for our attention. In retrospect, it might have been all that mental noise which led me to make the mistake I was about to make.
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