Frozen Waste III

  • What if the Seldane were Evil?...

            • # Chron Part Three: THE QUEST CONTINUES # # * * * * *

      • PNYX &C. * *
        When they made it back to the surface, giant troll-golems were guarding the cave entrance. Timon and Meleager started fighting the trolls, while Jehezekel kept their torches. At first the adventurers seemed to be winning, but soon the trolls had the upper hand and were driving them back into the caverns. Soon they were even with Jehezekel, and one of the trolls reached out to crush him. He parried with a torch, and the troll fell back as its arm crumbled to dust on the ground.

    Timon saw what happened, and grabbed one of the torches with his whip. The torch went twirling through the air and across the faces of the trolls. Several crumbled into dust, and Jehezekel charged the trolls, a torch in either hand. A troll swung at him, and when he blocked with his torches the momentum was high enough to get sand in his eyes, blinding him. He jumped back, and fell to the ground. Meleager grabbed the torches and renewed his attack.

    Soon, no trolls were left and Timon washed Jehezekel's eyes out with cold water, while Meleager repacked the bags. "Where to now?" Asked Jehezekel, struggling not to inhale too much water, "Somewhere that I can get fighter training I hope."

    "Not yet." responded Timon, "First we must get your weapon from wherever the Seldane hid it. From what Eioneus said, Pnyx should be a good starting place."

    They traveled for hours, perhaps days. The foggy darkness was so deep that the only light came from their torches. Luckily, Timon was very familiar with the road, else they might have died within ten feet of Pnyx, never once seeing the walls. Eventually they arrived at Pnyx, and walked in through unguarded doors.

    The small band of adventurers padded silently along magnificent hall ways, bedecked with crystal chandeliers and gilded door-frames, but all was silent and drear as a long deserted crypt. They came to a door, Timon whispered something, and it opened. Down a long and twisting flight of steps they walked for what must have been miles, before they reached the bottom. A golem was guarding the archway infront of them, but only for a moment. Meleager's only regret was that it didn't afford him a longer workout.

    They traversed dank tunnels, until Jehezekel was no longer sure which way was up. Suddenly, a huge demon appeared before them. Jehezekel's second encounter with a Terrorization spell, didn't feel any better than the first one. But this time, instead of bursting out through a hole in a cliffside, he charged THUD, into a wall that hadn't been behind him a moment ago. Timon and Meleager converged on the demon, and subdued it. Then Meleager lifted Jehezekel in his strong arms, and they walked a little farther down the corridor.

    When Jehezekel regained awareness, he was lying on soft ground in what seemed to be a study or workshop. Timon was pouring over a book shelf, and Meleager was shadowboxing near the doorway. The wall groaned and Jehezekel leaped up and across the room in one bound. Timon and Meleager turned, on guard. Fingers appeared from the wall, grasping a small sphere; a long grey face appeared farther down, and turning toward Meleager said: "Where fear grows, the wise man seeks answers." Then the face was gone, and as the fingers followed, the room was filled with swirling wind.

    "The Orb of Wind!" Shouted Timon excitedly. Shards of sand cut at the party as he tried prying the orb out of the wall with his sword, but the orb would not come. Then Jehezekel steeled himself against the buffeting blast, and reaching into his pouch withdrew one of the empty wands. He tried to walk toward the orb, but the wind was too strong for him. Meleager saw his plan, and helped him across the room. When they reached the wall below the orb, Timon helped steady him as Meleager lifted him up to the orb. He reached out with the wand's claw, and the orb rolled into it.

    The wind stopped and the party sank down onto the sandy floor. Timon opened his pack, and produced several potions. They quaffed them and immediately felt their raw flesh knitting back together. Timon turned to Meleager, "What's this about the place that fear grows?"

    Meleager looked thoughtful for a few moments, and then replied, "As far as I can figure it, the only place that would apply to would be the iron mine. I was eating dinner in the Two-Tailed Rat a couple of days before you arrived in Cademia, and overheard one of the Strymon's talking to someone who was dressed like a miner. The Miner didn't really say much, but he seemed to be terrified about something. Pretty soon he'd downed five bottles of brandy, and was out cold. The Strymon walked away muttering something about the 'downfall of Strymon if this doesn't end soon.' I figured that I didn't want to get mixed up with their problems, and hoped you'd come along soon to fix it. I promptly forgot about it, and didn't remember until you asked."

    As they made their way back out of Pnyx, they continued to discuss this and their hopes for the curing of Cythera. When they reached the entry, Hector was waiting for them. He was dressed in stone plate mail, and wielded a large battle-axe. Timon greeted him, "Hector! You've come to join me on my quest, I hope."

    "Nay, troubler. I've come to stop your attempt to destroy Cythera. Will you not repent of your evil and hand over your Items?"

    "Come Hector, the Seldane have deceived you. Rejoin the allies of Cythera."

    Hector charged at Timon, swinging his axe like a berserker. Timon gestured toward him, and Jehezekel motioned with the Wind Wand. Hector lifted off his feet and went flying back out into the darkness.

      • THE IRON MINE * *
        The party quickly made its way south toward the mine. A few hours later they found a path, and the road was easier to follow. Golems attacked, but were quickly defeated, and they continued east along the road. When they reached the miners fort, the gate was barred. Meleager called out, and a guard looked out an opening in the gate.

    "What d'ya want?" he asked gruffly.

    "To exterminate your vermin." replied Meleager.

    "We ain't got no vermin left. The ghost's scared 'em all away."

    "Then we will attempt to exorcise your ghost." Responded Meleager gravely.

    "Just a moment."

    They stood waiting for several minutes, and then the gate creaked open, "Come in, Captain wants to meet you. You'll find him in the grub pavilion, over yonder." He motioned with his hand and Jehezekel was surprised that he could indeed see a pavilion where the man pointed, the fog was much thinner inside the enclosure. They made their way to the pavilion where they were pleased to learn that the "grub" referred to was food, and not the miners word for smelting ore. The captain motioned them into seats, and placed salted titan ribs on their plates.

    They sat there, eating, and discussing the news. Then the captain pointed out the mine entrence, and they left. Jehezekel looked confused, and Timon explained, "We agreed to 'exorcise' the 'ghost' for 250 oboloi, due upon completion, no obol down. He wanted to give us a small hiring fee, but I insisted that the meal was a generous hiring fee in itself. Now, I hope we can find some answers in here."

    The mine was cold compared to the pavilion, but much warmer than the outside air. The party journeyed along gallery after gallery, and descended several ladders before they came to the haunted chamber. They peaked through the opening, and saw a young seldane sitting in a rock. Jehezekel gasped, it was the same figure they had seen in Pnyx! When they entered, the seldane rose from his seat and nodded to them.

    He began to speak, and Timon translated, "I'm glad to see you could make it. The Balance does poorly, and my people are more ruthless than ever. Were you able to retrieve the wind orb?"

    Jehezekel lifted the wand to show him. "Good!" The seldane remarked, "I had a hard time getting it to you, and am relieved to see that it was not in vain."

    "What's your name?" Asked Timon, "I did not see you any of the times I visited Maayti."

    "You saw me once, when I was very young," replied the seldane, "I am Jhiaxus."

    "Son of Sabinate!? 'Rebelled against the elders, and despised our traditions'?"

    "NO!" declared Jhiaxus, "They are the ones who despise our tradition of living in harmony with the other elementals! I sought to build up the Balance, they sought, even in those days, to gain mastery over the whole of Cythera!"

    He sat back down and Jehezekel asked, "What can you tell us about the orbs?"

    "You have two of them. The Earth Orb is green, and hidden in a field of green minerals. The Water Orb is held by Tavara, who uses its power to keep from succumbing to the Seldane."

    "D-do you know about my weapon? The Elemental Machete, Eioneus called it."

    "Gossip in the Maayti taverns indicates that it has been transported to the Ayrit in the Cave of the Seldane, it is beneath LandKing Hall, and is the heart of our race. Rumors abound, but I know of no human accesible entrance."

    Timon nodded, "We'll see what we can find. But meanwhile, we are being paid to exorcise a ghost. Could you leave, and promise not to return without an invitation from the miners?"

    "I could, but it would do no good. I can sense my people coming, they will be here soon, so you should hurry. The miners must not return until the balance is restored. It will not be safe until then."

    "Thank-you, may the Balance be with you!"

    Jehezekel looked at him quizzically, and Timon responded, "Uh, it's from a dream I once had..."

    "One more thing: Bahoudin seeks to aid you." Said Jhiaxus as he walked off into the wall.

    The adventurers quickly made their way back up to the surface. Once outside, they stopped by the pavilion and told the captain, "Don't let anyone go beyond the first chamber for awhile, dangerous events are afoot in there." Then they left, heading north.

        The landscape glowed softly, like moonlight on fresh snow, as the party made its way back northward. "Watch carefully," Timon said softly, "We'll probably pass near Hector, and we don't want interference." But the journey continued without incidence, and eventually followed a small frozen creek. At the head of the creek was an ancient fortress. Mighty in their day, the gates were now no more than a reddish heap of earth, and the time-worn walls were crumbled.

    They followed the frozen creek to its origen in the cliffside. Beside the spring stood a statue of a knight rampant, battle axe raised to crush his opponent, and at his feet a hastily scrawled plaque: HECTOR, CHALLENGED THE SELDANE, FIRST OF THE FROZEN, MAY THIS TORMENT CONSUME HIM. Timon turned away to hide a tear, but Meleager stooped and whispered something to Jehezekel. Jehezekel smiled, nodded, reached out with the fire wand, and tapped Hector on the head.

    Immediately, Hector began to swing his battle-axe, and Jehezekel leaped backwards knocking down both Meleager and Timon. Hector stopped, blinked, lowered his weapon, and shook his head to clear the cobwebs out. "Timon! Is that you?" He asked as the jumble of adventurers unsorted themselves. "Thank-you for rescuing me. After you knocked me back with that wind gust, I could not find my way, and eventually ended up here. I saw a stone covered with writing of a mode that recently came into favour in Alaric's court. I recognized this as an entry way to the Cave of the Seldane, and arranged the pattern to summon entry. I was about to activate it when a small band of Seldane emerged from the mountain. I asked them to bring me to the cave, I had something to report to Sabinate, but they said they were in a hurry, they needed to subdue Tavara quickly, so I reached to activate the pattern. The leader slapped my hand away violently. He said that humans are not allowed to enter the Ayrit without a guard, and all the troops were busy ensuring the final victory over all the other Elementals. It made no sense to me, but that is when it all came together, that they are using the LandKing as a puppet in their bid for absolute power. So I raised my axe to crush them, but the leader motioned toward me, and next thing I knew I was being consumed by an icy flame. Somehow it seemed to find its source in my armour. After what seemed like an eternity the sensation abated, and there you were. It seems you rescued me from their enchantment."

    Timon acted quickly, "Meleager, you come with me, we're going to stave off Tavara's downfall. Hector, you take my assistant with you and get into the Cave of the Seldane. Follow the spring, it should take you there. Jehezekel, you know what to look for, catch-up as soon as you can. Oh, and Hector? Once that's done, it's your prerogative what to do, but you may be able to help Alaric some. Farewell!" Jehezekel and Hector saluted him as he charged out to aid Tavara, and then turned to the task at hand.

    Hector eyed the spring dubiously as he removed his stone armor, "It would take years to get through this if we had an enchanted pick. How does he expect us to do it?"

    "With fire." Jehezekel grinned as he lifted the Fire Wand, and pointed it toward the spring.

    The water quickly melted, and they jumped up on a pedestal to keep out of it. Jehezekel nearly lost his balance, but quickly regained it. When he started laughing about it Hector looked at him oddly, but refrained from inquiry. Then they proceeded through the opening of the spring. Hector barely fit through the hole, but like in Catamarca it soon ended in a decent tunnel. Jehezekel held the wand aloft, and the heat radiating from it melted the ice as they journeyed into the bowls of Cythera. In about an hour they emerged from the tunnel into the shadows at the edge of the Cave of the Seldane.

        "OK, most of the royal Seldane were in the party that went to dispose of Tavara, and the royal troops had already left for another project, so only Sabinate and his assistant, Bahoudin, should be here. I could risk creating a diversion, but I doubt it would give you enough time to navigate the puzzles, find the object, and escape before they catch you. So I think I'll try to find it for you. What's the object?"

    Just then a seldane rounded the corner of the Ayrit, and strode straight toward them. "Oh no, Bahoudin has detected us!" whispered Hector agitatedly, but Jehezekel smiled, "Jhiaxus says Bahoudin will help us."

    "But Sabinate says that Jhiaxus... oh. OH! Now everything makes even more sense!"

    They strode out and met Magpie part-way. As they walked back to the Ayrit he said, "Approximately five minutes you have, then Sabinate is aware of you." He produced two gold discuses and handed them to Jehezekel, "These to get in, you will need. For you, Hector must wait to exit."

    When they neared the Ayrit, they parted ways, and Jehezekel went on alone. He rounded the south corner and nearly ran into a short pillar. Beyond it, on the other side of a solid archway, was another pillar of the same sort: Three feet high with a concave top. On a guess, Jehezekel put one of the discuses on top of each of them. Nothing happened. Four minutes remaining. He picked them up again, and examined them closely. With three minutes left, he noticed that faint symbols on the discuses lined up with symbols on the pillars. He put them on the proper pillars, and the archway opened. Inside was a spacious chamber, and in an adamantine case at the far end was the Elemental Machete.

    Jehezekel rushed forward, and tried to open the case. It wouldn't budge, it was as solid as the foundations of the earth. Earth! That was it! He grabbed the case, and tilted it in his mind. CRASH It imploded violently, and the machete was in his hand. Two minutes. He went flying out the archway, and flung the discuses into his pouch as he careened past.

    In a minute Jehezekel had found the others. He gave the discuses to Magpie who put them to either side of the portal. Hector stepped through to LandKing Hall. Magpie rearranged the pattern on the lintel, and Jehezekel stepped through onto a mesa, west of the flax farm. Bahoudin removed the discuses and rearranged the pattern. Sabinate would never know exactly what went wrong, and thus would be less able to counteract it.

    The air on top of the mesa was thin and bitterly cold, but nonetheless Jehezekel paused to examine his weapon. At first glance, it was a normal machete, a cubit and a span in length. But on closer observation, he saw that the handle had four small gems mounted around it: Orange, for fire; Milky, for air; Green, for earth; and Blue for water.

    He rubbed the milky gem with his thumb. To his surprise, the weapon turned to point at his pouch. He removed his thumb from the gem, and regained control of his machete. Curious, Jehezekel did the same thing to the orange gem, with the same result. He was beginning to think that he would have to avoid touching the gems altogether, but decided to try on more. He rubbed the blue gem with his thumb, and the machete turned to point North-West. He smiled, and rubbed the green gem. The machete turned to point south. Jehezekel held his machete, focused on a cushion of air, and leaped off the mesa.

    He fell gently to the ground, but not as gently as he was thinking it should be. The air was still bitterly cold and hard to breathe. Jehezekel started trudging south through the thick snow, but his head ached, and he couldn't think straight. He struggled on for what felt like an eternity before he remembered that he had the Fire Wand, and could probably use it clear the snow. He motioned with the wand, and the snow crackled and melted away. Suddenly, the air was easier to breathe, and he soon felt better.

    After that, Jehezekel made much better time. The air was now thick enough to be of some real use; he held the wand in one hand, his machete in the other, and flew directly to the Earth Orb. <How can you find a needle in a haystack? With a powerful magnet of course!> He laughed as he mounted the orb in its wand. But his elation was short-lived, a blood curdling sensation encompassed him, and all Cythera seemed on the verge of total collapse. Tavara was fallen, the Seldane had the Water Orb! The Balance was in extreme danger.

    Jehezekel worked the three wands together, and suddenly a plume of smoke and flame burst into the sky in the south-west. A minute later, all of Cythera shook upon its foundations. The Balance was safe for the moment, but reality was weakened. He summoned the wind, and flew like the lightning toward the last orb.

    Part 1
    Part 2
    Part 3
    Part 4

    This post has been edited by Jehezekel : 14 January 2007 - 09:02 PM

  • Again, nice job on this part, Jehezekel. Out of curiosity, what happened to all the mages in Pnyx?

    Is Magpie a full Seldane or still half-Seldane and half-Undine? If he is still half-Undine, how did he end up working with Sabinate?

  • As a half-shapeshifter / half-earth-elemental, he was able to appear to be completely Seldane. And, with all the water frozen into ice, Sabinate was feeling overconfident, and did not check his references.

    (EDIT) Whoops! I didn't answer your question about the mages. They were all statues, in their classrooms. The students also. (poor students, stuck in small rooms with their professors) (/EDIT)

    This post has been edited by Jehezekel : 14 January 2007 - 09:06 PM

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