Second Darkness

Summary 19: Road to Oblivion

Chapter Six: Decent into Midnight

 
The Winter Council was now a thing of the past. No longer would they rule from afar. They would simply serve as guardians against the demons outside, to ensure no claws grasped the Sovereign Stone. The knowledge within the tower’s libraries was also the most vast in all of Golarion. Within, Allevrah had found a way to pull a star from the sky. Such secrets would have to be kept from the world, unless an even greater calamity should arise. With Allevrah's remaining notes, the Immortal's had enough information to start their search. They would seek out Haiten, the genie who ruled the Land of Black Blood. With any luck, she would be able to guide them. And so, after a few powerful items were given to the Immortals by the former Winter Council, they stepped into a portal, and were plunged into the underdark again.
 
They lit the way towards the Shrine of Bound Earth, where there they would find the genie they sought. The Land of Black Blood itself was a cavern that stretched a hundred miles in every direction. Somewhere in the distance, the sounds of rushing water could be heard, and it was this that the name of the land they were in came from. On the outside of their light sources, denizens slithered away, and serrated teeth leered from hidden cracks.
 
Soon the four arrived at what seemed like head stones, but were in fact elegant sculptures carved up from the rock. The small field of artistic statues flanked the tiled walkway that led to the double doors of the Shrine. As they approached the door however, they heard the sounds of battle within. Gunderhoff led the way, past several drow corpses, to another set of double doors. From there, the Immortals entered into a large room, where there they saw the earth genie Haiten being attacked by a half dozen drow, two of which were dead. Haiten saw the intruders and threatened them in terran.
 
The drow were very surprised to see the intruders, with two of them turning and firing at Ruil and hitting him in the arm. Gunderhoff moved in and smashed one in the ribs greatly wounded him. Citrine them threw a daylight pellet into the room and blinded all the drow. She then walked past the genie whom, unknown to everyone, was also blinded. She took a scimitar swing, but missed the Sarenranian. Ruil then moved up to the blinded drow and drained away the life force from two of the drow with his vampiric touch imbued sword. Corthana then fired off four daggers, with one of them lodging in a drow’s heart, dropping him dead.
 
Haiten realized that the Immortals were there to help her and so sliced through one of the remaining drow. Gunderhoff then moved up to the same one and smashed his hammer into it, nearly dropping it. The other one received a blast of fire in the face from Citrine. From there it was a simple matter to dispatching them in their weakened state.
 
Haiten thanked the Immortal's for their aid. She said that Allevrah had come to her realm several years ago and had asked to begin a magical project within her realm. After gifting Haiten with a vorpal scimitar, the genie agreed. Yet only today, it seemed that Allevrah had decided to cut off any loose ends to whatever plans she had created by killing Haiten with a few drow soldiers. After the Immortal's expressed their desire to destroy Allevrah and the runes she had created to call down a meteor from the sky, Haiten directed them to the only rune she knew of. She said that it was located in the Livid Santum that used to serve as a temple to Camazotz, Demon Lord of Bats. She directed them to the location, on their map, and they headed off to the location.
 
The Livid Santum was a massive tree root over two hundred feet in the air. With only one charge remaining in the levitation wand, they decided to rest a few hours so that Citrine could pray for a wind walk spell. It would transform them all into a fast moving mist, and would allow them to resume solid form or return to mist form as long as the spell lasted. Corthana head the sounds of dozen of bat swarms, which would mean a challenge to overcome even for them.
 
A few hours later, they were drifting up faster than a horse could gallop. They passed a room with a huge line of rope, past several spider swarms, past a cloaker beast whose moan threatened to frighten their senses. They continued all the way up until they came to the top most room. They left their mist form to survey the surroundings, which was a very large living quarters. The only occupant was a drider sitting on a throne. It spoke to them in its undercommon language, and waited very patiently for a reply.
 
The Immortal's response was with steel and spellfire. Citrine blasted the drider with holy fire, hurting it badly. Corthana looked at the drider and told him that the statue of Camazotz nearby was moving. It looked at where she was pointing, and that was the distraction the spellthief needed as she launched dagger after dagger into the arachnid. Ruil blasted it with his a ray of enfeeblement taking way a large part of the drider’s lifeforce.
 
Xizho, High Priest of Camazotz, could no longer remember how to cast his high level spells and knew that Ruil's spell was to blame. He charged at the elf, but Ruil was more than ready for the attack, deflecting the mace high and wide. Citrine capitalized on Xizho's moment of imbalance as she cut low, chopping four of his legs off and knocking him down. With a second swipe, she cleaved Xizho's head in two.
 
Now the Immortal's were faced with a mystery. They were unsure what the glyph they were looking for looked like, only that it was large and magical.  They searched far and wide, but found absolutely no sign of it. That meant that what they were looking for had to be on one of the lower levels. Yet after destroying a few specters on the level below and searching around, they found nothing. Corthana did find a pair of shields that were unique to spellcasters in that they could be wielded without impeding the delicate movements of casting.
 
On the level below, they found themselves in the middle of a forbiddance spell. That sent a psychic lash of energy into their minds, hurting them all. Gunderhoff seemed to take the most pain as the spell was specifically aligned to hurt people of his faith in life. There was nothing else in the room, other than a pile of skulls with gems in their teeth. At first, they were hesitant to touch them, fearing tales of demiliches rising up. Ruil detected magic emanating from them as well. Corthana was confident in her searching skills and as she found no traps, and just assumed that they were magical items. She thus picked up a skull, and after it didn't explode, tried to activate it. As she did so, Camazotz's Sight struck her, taking away her hearing and eye sight. Gunderhoff was quick to use the staff of life upon her to lift the curse.
 
The next level, the Immortal's stumbled upon another forbiddance trap. They also came across over two dozen dead bodies, all of which had been mummified for a hundred years. A quick scan produced no glyph. What they did noticed however was that no other soul had wandered the chamber in just as many years. A few spider swarms emerged from the shadows which they easily dealt with, but there was no glyph in sight. The only room remaining was the one with the long rope, and that had nothing either.
 
The Immortal's were sure they had missed something. They searched the pile of jeweled skulls; they searched the statue on the upper lever, triggering another Camazotz's Sight trap. They searched the waters in the pool. They searched everywhere for over half a day, but still nothing. There was only one logical explanation: Haiten had lied to them.
 
Returning to the Shrine of Bound Earth, it was only a half surprise when they saw Haiten and the very much alive drow from before, standing side by side. It had all been an elaborate hoax to gain more time for the master glyph to charge. Ruil quickly blasted a drow with a ray that drained away some of his life force. The drow all fired their crossbows at Ruil, including the two disguised as spellcasters. One of the bolts bit into flesh, sending a small rivulet of black blood into his veins that chilled his movements. The "genie" meanwhile sent a black ray of disintegration at the elf. Luckily, Ruil dodged most of it, and it burned a line across his side. Haiten then turned invisible.
 
Gunderhoff blessed his friends to aid their attacks. Citrine cast an invisibility purge allowing for everyone to see Haiten. Corthana saw all the drow on the balcony and threw her daggers, killing the drow that Ruil had hit before, and then hitting the other drow that looked like a mage. As she siphoned off the drow's spells however, she realized the dupe. Her last dagger sliced across the drow's neck, and he dropped dead from the massive blood loss.
 
Ruil flew up and blasted Haiten with an enervation ray but which dissipated over her magical resistance. The genie then sent a mindfog at the Immortal's, but they resisted the magic. The drow then got up and blasted Ruil with crossbow bolts, each one bouncing off his armor. After Gunderhoff moved in closer to the melee, Citrine enhanced her own offense and defense with magic. Corthana again sent a volley of daggers, wounding four of the drow and knocking three of them down to the ground.
 
dimensional hop brought Ruil right next to Haiten, and he used a dispelling touch through his sword to dispel the illusion cloaking her and revealing a drow named Denrelwe in her place. Gunderhoff tried to smash a drow on the ground, but it reached out and hit his knee, throwing him off balance and spoiling his attack. That drow then got to his feet and impaled the dwarf with a rapier. The other drow all got to their feet and fired at Corthana, but none of the barbs found their mark. Denrelwe looked at Ruil and began casting another disintegrate. Yet she was not used to actually feeling pain, and despite the minor cut on her arm, it was enough to make her misspeak her magic. Gunderhoff smashed a drow with his hammer, but it held onto life. Citrine then spiderclimbed up the railing in order to get closer to Denrelwe.
 
Corthana again let fly her daggers, again wounding four of the drow and this time knocking all four of them down. Ruil advanced on Denrelwe and slashed her twice, nearly killing her. With no other option, the drow illusionist used a wand and dimension doored away from the fight. The remaining drow were easily taken care of after a few quick dagger tosses. Yet the Immortal's did not want their enemy to come back and disintegrate them in the back. They thus headed out into the Land of Black Blood and began scanning for any sign of her. And after several minutes flying around in mist form, they finally found her flying towards the center of the cavern. Her form seemed to shimmer as though from a displacement spell.
 
Ruil blasted fire into the air, but each blast went through her phantom form. Gunderhoff found himself way to far from their fleeing foe and so grabbed the spear they had found on Xizho's body and let it fly. Although he missed his target, he was surprised that it returned to his hand almost immediately, and thus revealing the enchantment within it. Corthana threw a volley of daggers and darts, each one going through the displacement. Citrine cast a dispel magic, and nullified all the drow's spells. With only one remaining option, Denrelwe used her most powerful spell in her inventory, and cast a limited wish to teleport away next to her master.
 
After a rope trick by Corthana, the Immortals were ready with new spells to tackle the next day. She used her rogue skills to find a secret passage leading down to a second level within the shrine. Gunderhoff led the way to an immense room, where at its far end was the earth genie, bound within a crystal prison. Haiten reached out with her mind and implored the heroes to aid her, saying she was bound until the light of the sun touched the prison.
 
Citrine blasted the crystals with a sunbeam spell, freeing the genie from its confines. Haiten thanked her and said that a dark elf named Allevrah had imprisoned her many years ago. Ruil then asked for a wish, but Haiten claimed she did not have the power to do so. She did say that she knew of all the locations of the focus glyphs and the Master glyph which was located on an island called the Throne of Abraxus. As for allies, she mentioned the drow had enslaved a race called the chardas. If they could befriend these demonic creatures, they could prove helpful. As a last boon, she gave to Citrine her magical speed scimitar.
 
The Immortal's headed off toward the first glyph. They came to a field of rotted vegetation, and at its center was their goal, it flame of Fury burning bright. Surrounding the glyph were six ropers. None of the four knew what the beasts were, but after the battle, all would remember them.
 
Gunderhoff blessed his allies. Citrine improved her defense with magic. Ruil went to his trusted scorching rays, watching as the second ray was absorbed by the tentacled aberrations resistance to magic. The first ray however blasted one in its bulbous body and burned hotter than against most enemies. It seemed the ropers were vulnerable to fire. As Gunderhoff was the closest to the action, he found himself attacked by four of the ropers. Despite the attacks, he found himself unscathed. Citrine too found six tentacles reached toward her, as did Ruil. Yet both were unhurt by the attacks. Corthana blasted two of the ropers with lightening from a wand, but both absorbed the magic.
 
Gunderhoff charged in, his hammer swinging and burning away flesh. Citrine cast a fire shield hoping to inflict major pain on any enemy who dared attack her. Ruil went to his fire again, this time getting through the ropers defenses and horribly burning the same he had blasted before. The ropers retaliated, this time four of them lashing out at Ruil. There were simply too many attacks, and he felt them drain his strength completely away. The warrior found his body would not obey his mind, and could do nothing but stand there helpless. Gunderhoff too was attacked, but he resisted the draining touch. Corthana sent a volley of dagger into one of the ropers, greatly wounding the one Gunderhoff was attacking.
 
The dwarf continued his hammer smashing, sending more gore to the ground. Citrine moved in closer to the battle, while Ruil continued looking at his friends in the hopes one of them would help him up. Now the ropers charged in, flailing at Corthana. Yet the thief showed off her acrobatic skills and jumped one the tentacles, grabbing it in midair and wrapping it around the other five. The roper found itself completely turned around in the confusion, and it found itself with five daggers in its head from Corthana, nearly killing it.
 
Gunderhoff, as was the norm, swung his hammer and stole the kill away from his friend. Citrine moved into the fray, cutting away at the one Ruil had burned before and wounding in further. The ropers all turned on Corthana, and this time there were too many attacks to dodge. One of the tentacles slapped her in the face and drained some of her strength away. Corthana decided that her time in the battle was over for the moment and tumbled outside the ropers reach. She then cast a greater mage hand and grabbed a wand from Ruil's belt. Two of the ropers reached at Gunderhoff, but he deflected all their attacks aside. Citrine found herself attacked on every side by tentacles. Her fireshield sent rivulets of pain along each of those appendages, burning four the ropers badly. After yet another hammer strike from Gunderhoff, Citrine continued her butchering, sending blood flying everywhere, and slaying it. The remaining ones all soon fell to fire and steel as the Immortal's destroyed their foes with no mercy.
 
Now attention turned to the glyph of Fury. Citrine touched the glyph, taking a backlash of electrical energy. From Allevrah's notes, it seemed there was some way to bond with the glyph. She felt the anger that made up the magic contained within and knew she had to calm it somehow. Yet her soothing words simply weren't enough to dwindle the flame. And so the Immortal's pounded it with their weapons and spells, with only Gunderhoff's hammer having any effect. It took over two days, but eventually he was able to destroy the glyph. With the last hammer blow came and explosion of burning electricity. Corthana wasn't expecting it at all and took the brunt of the energy blast. All the Immortal's were horribly scorched, but all survived. And as the glyph of Fury died, it sent a bolt of energy across the Land of Black Blood; pointing the way to the next glyph…

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