Still I seek. The trail I’ve been following for no short time led me to the Seven Pillar Hall, a subterranean township, of sorts. History has it that the Hall was reclaimed from minotaurs some time ago, though from what I have seen of the locals, I can hardly say it was for the better. Though I had wanted to avoid contact with the denizens of the Hall, my tracking led me to some odd waterway, which I was in no way inclined to swim through. Eager as I was to press forward, the deceptive passageways would bring a fool’s end had I surrendered to haste, and so I had to return to the Hall and seek guidance. This was how I came to know of a party, mercenaries from their description, that had set off for a foreboding part of the Thunderspire rumored to be fouled by dark conjurations.
It took no small effort to find someone coherent enough to provide me with proper directions. I made the decision to rest before beginning the next part of my journey. The road had been long coming to this place and if I was to dare venturing further into the labyrinth I would be best served doing so unfatigued. I slept a bit longer than planned and cursed myself for allowing such an ill afforded luxury. As I made ready to depart, a young lad approached me with an offer of information. Trading him a coin he informed me that a detachment from the mercenaries had returned during my slumber escorting, of all things, a boar. While the significance of the pig evaded me, I did learn from the exchange that they had gone back deeper into the spire and had a few hours lead on me.
I followed the paths given to me without much trouble. It wasn’t long before I came across the first signs of the work done, I presumed, by the earlier party. Several rooms contained the drying smears of blood, not even a full day old, upon the stone floors. I took caution to ensure that each room I passed was indeed inhabited by only those who had fallen. It was then that I felt a welling up of the taint I had pursued here.
He was, of course, quite pleased with this. It had been days and he hungered. Ignoring his excited urges I continued on until a great cacophony filled the halls. Something, metallic maybe, ground harshly against the stone of the corridors nearly masking the faint airy twang of arrows or bolts streaking through the air. I came upon the last set of doors between myself and the din and drew one open. From the ceiling twin trapbows launched their missiles into a side passage. The furthest started its turn towards me by the time I reached the first and shattered its tubes. Luckily avoiding the first salvo, I likewise smashed heavily into its framework. Time had thankfully not been very kind to these devices.
Risking a look down the side passage I found yet another doorway into a larger hall, in which echoed that assaultive grinding noise. At the foot of the door laid the wreckage of someone’s Warforged. I recalled that the youth’s report mentioned it was a Warforged who returned the boar earlier. Moving to its side, I caught sight of the source of that horrid grinding. A spiked orb, large enough to consume the entirety of the hallway, was mere feet away, seemingly regaining some traction on the uneven floor. I pulled the wreckage from the doorway and sealed the entrance. I was able to enact some small repair that brought the automaton back into a functional state when I heard an unsettling roar. Someone had unleashed a drake in these confines!
When it rose, I asked the Warforged about what they had done, but got only a quick, confused, if not nearly panicked, gaze back. Understandable, given it was probably separated from its controller and without orders that took into account the present situation. I got across a message that I would help the others if we could reach them. After the deadly orb had made a fresh pass, it led us out of the room, around a bend, and into another. Entering opposite was a human, whom I would later learn was named Shinta. We exchanged gazes for a moment when the Warforged reported that I was offering assistance. Shinta turned and ran back out just as quickly as he had entered. Keeping a distance between myself and the automaton we approached the other archway. Again the orb passed, long steely tendrils sparking against the walls. Once the passage was again clear the Warforged bolted out and I followed very shortly after.
Ahead I could make out an opened doorway with a layer of mist beyond. We made for the billowy fog when the Warforged turned ahead of me and drove into a side opening. And angered roar blasted from the space where the Warforged diverted to. The drake was just around that corner! As I nearly reached the misty path, I took a glance to the right and saw the automaton heading back my way carrying what I at the time would assume was a badly kept furred sack. Beyond it was the green scaled beast. The gaze of the wyrm froze me in place, mere steps from the fog. I could feel the will to move drain away, though my mind roared at the danger. A sharp blow along the side of my face thankfully woke me from the guile.
Shinta had emerged from the mists, alongside two Eladrin and another one of their Warforgedds. The male elfkin, Feyd, gestured desperately and the drake was thrust further back into the room. We capitalized on the opportunity to escape into the mist, which seemingly the drake was unable to enter. We found ourselves in a short hall before a shut set of doors. A quick introduction was exchanged between myself and the lady Eladrin (who I came to find out was the master of the furred sack, which after mending, was actually a large predatory cat!). Shinta and the other Warforged eased open the doors ahead of us, and quietly slipped into the room. I stood there a moment, a bit puzzled by the choice to enter at that particular time. After they had passed through the door, the sack….cat rather….slinked into the room. Voices raised in alarm signaled our discovery!
After Feyd and Kyvren pushed in I was able to finally see what opposition we face. We had interrupted a dark ceremony, being conducted by an ornately adorned human who stood aside two demons and a few reanimated soldiers. Two others stood together at the far side of the room over a rather uninviting pit, oblivious to our disruption. I would later learn these were to be sacrifices. One was spared from this fate.
He roared in my head and I recoiled from the intensity. There was too much of it about. It pulsed in everything here, driving him into a frenzy. I could deny him no longer and crashed my staff upon the floor as I silently spoke the words that would sever the chains. He became manifest at the side of the biggest demon as his raging howl twisted within me. I refocused myself and let forth a wave of primal force at the winged gnollspirit and called upon the ancients to guide our hands in battle against it.
Shinta and the other Warforged were at the back end of the room and could not keep the demons from reaching us. One of these vile things seemed to recognize Feyd and immediately set upon him. We were able to minimize the damage done by the demon and Feyd turned his energies to immobilize the unholy brawler as we escaped his reach. The battle was short but not without some casualty. The Warforged, whom I had found broken before, was again felled by the fists of the enraged demon and one of the humans was consumed by the ritual power being unleashed by the ceremony. I gave what aid I could to the remaining would-be sacrifice and roused him from his stupor. He began to ask about the fate of the second, the answer to which I left for another to give. This band searched through the room, discussing the awarding of the single elven cloak they discovered. As they did so, I felt a presence, briefly, leering at us from the hall. Before I could fully turn it had vanished, but the stench lingered. Shinta, I think, felt it too as I noticed his gaze had likewise shifted. Somehow, there is a connection. How and why I do not yet know, but it is there. I can feel it. Still, I seek…