Farewell, Isle of Dread
Part2: Isn’t anyone ever pleased to see us?
It had been three weeks since the crew had returned from their disastrous visit to Mora. They had all recovered after the period of convalescence at Tanaroa. Berun and Goll were coming to terms with being less agile than before, but they still had determination and courage in abundance. It was time now to take The Hammer to the salamanders and collect the gorgonite sword, Kalan.
Once again Goll donned the crown and the Despair flew off towards the two volcanoes. In a short while, and without mishap, they had reached their destination. In a display of amazing control, Goll brought the Despair to the very entrance of the salamanders’ cavern. The ship hovered and a rope was thrown over the side. Gul, Zaen, Berun, Brun and Gorlab all climbed down and made their way carefully along the passage. As they felt the heat increase they new they were approaching the forge. Gul and Brun remembered the last time they had been here and the party halted before anyone could be harmed by the heat. They had all had enough of that. Gul threw The Hammer to the salamanders.
"Here is your Hammer. Now give us the sword, as agreed,” shouted Gul.
To his surprise and momentary anger The Hammer came clattering back. A salamander voice echoed down the corridor.
"Take hammer. Go thin spur of land on south east of island. Seek temple on mountain. Unmake crystal. Hit with Hammer. Keep treasure you find. Come back, you get sword. Good!”
"Nothing’s ever easy, is it,” said Gorlab, shrugging his shoulders.
The party returned to the Despair and set off in search of the temple. It wasn’t long before they were flying along the mountainous peninsular, all eyes peeled and searching. Gorlab, with his magic eye, was the first to spot the temple. It was set on a craggy summit, inaccessible to any but birds or those in a flying ship. Another piece of expert piloting brought the ship to rest on the mountain side and the adventurers clambered on to the rocky slope. They picked their way carefully over the uneven, dangerous terrain until they were within sight of the temple.
It was circular with a conical roof, the apex of which appeared to be missing. The roof was supported by ten ornate pillars and steps led up to a paved floor. The pillars were decorated with statues of gargoyles which were perched in niches near the tops. As the party got closer two of the statues came to life and flew towards them. They hovered near the temple, observing the intruders. Gul and the rest continued their approach and the gargoyles swooped down to attack.
They realised that these creatures could only be harmed by magic weapons. There was a momentary panic as they realised that all their magic artefacts had been lost to Ajani. Luckily, Gul had a spell which allowed him to turn any blade into magic.
"We’ll use magic to attack them at a distance until they close, and then I’ll enchant a few blades before we go head to head with them.”
With that they commenced to fire lightning bolts and magic missiles at the approaching gargoyles. One went down under a hail of electricity from Goll. The other was dispatched by Brun’s magic weapon. More of the gargoyles left the temple and met a similar fate. Brun hacked another to death while Gul and Zaen brought down one each. It was difficult fighting on the craggy mountainside but the party were beginning to get the better of the gargoyles. Gul enchanted his own sword and those of Zaen and Goll. Berun used his ‘Bolt’ to bring down two of the creatures and Gorlab blew two out of the air with lightning bolts. The last gargoyle fell to Goll’s sword and the party were able to enter the temple.
As they reached the top of the steps leading to the temple they could see two smaller pillars in the middle of the round, paved floor. They flanked dais or altar of some kind on which was mounted a shard of crystal.
"That’ll be the crystal, then,” said Gul.
"Yep,” the others chorused.
Gul took the Hammer and cautiously approached the centre of the temple. His comrades, remembering Gul’s past performances in such situations, hid bravely behind the ten outer pillars. The captain raised his arm and brought the Hammer down on the crystal, shattering it into splinters. There was a blinding flash of light and a shockwave spread outwards, knocking Gul back to the edge of the temple. The others held on for dear life and Gul managed to grab hold of one of the pillars as he careered backwards. Briefly a portal opened where the crystal had been and a fiery avatar emerged, crying triumphantly, "Free at last!!!” The avatar flew over the stunned adventurers and sped off over the mountain tops.
When they had recovered their composure, the party began to search the temple. They noticed that there was a definite glow from the empty niches in the pillars.
Gul said, "I think I spotted a secret door in the dais, it was around about, er, ah here it is.”
They all examined the door and agreed that it appeared harmless. Gul tried it and sure enough it was safe. Inside they found a small chest, but a magic glyph was glowing on the lock.
"Anyone know ‘Dispel Magic’?” asked Gul.
Berun stepped forward and muttered an incantation. The glyph gradually ceased to glow and they were able to open the chest. Inside they found a pair of bracers (The Bracers of the Magi) and a strange-looking mask. Berun tried on the bracers and felt the power course through his forearms. "They provide some kind of protection,” he said, "A ward spell or some such. They also help to detect invisibility, very handy.”
Goll volunteered to try the mask. As he put it over his face, he spoke a magic word and a wraith appeared. The wraith was in thrall to he who wore the mask. "Another handy piece of kit,” said Goll. Again they noticed the glow in the niches was getting brighter. Speed was of the essence.
Gul took the two items, saying, "I’ll decide who’s getting these later. Now back to Tanaroa and then we’ll go and get our sword.”
After two days rest, the Despair once again flew to the volcano and the three salamanders. Expecting it to be a simple transaction the crew approached the cave in buoyant mood. One of the salamanders approached them.
"It is done,” shouted Zaen, "the crystal is destroyed.”
"Azurra free,” cried the fire-lizard to his comrades. There was much jubilation and conferring. The one holding the sword ‘Kalan’ held it aloft and waved it belligerently. The three looked at the crew occasionally as if weighing their capabilities.
"I don’t like the look of this,” said Gul quietly to the others. "Best be prepared for a fight.”
Sure enough the fire-lizards turned to charge the crew. Zaen was too quick for them and loosed a lightning bolt, wounding two of them. Gul quickly followed with another bolt which dispatched them both. Brun, meanwhile, cast a spell of fire resistance on Gul and Berun. Gul ran forward into the salamanders’ forge and quickly sent the last creature to meet whichever god it worshipped. Berun followed Gul and the two began to search for anything of value. They were joined by Brun but the others were still held back by the heat. Berun was rummaging around in a tool box and found a pouch. It contained two keys. A further search revealed a loose flagstone under a bench which covered a pit containing a chest. Upon opening it the three discovered 400 gold pieces. Believing themselves to be unobserved they agreed to each take 100GP and tell the rest of the crew they had found only 100GP. Gorlab and Zaen had seen everything, but said nothing.
The heat eventually died down enough for Gorlab and Zaen to join the search for whatever the second key opened. They tried a cage that sat in the cavern but it was useless. Gorlab then spotted some scrape marks on the floor by the anvil. He and Zaen looked at each other and came to the same conclusion. They both set about pushing the anvil and, sure enough, they found another chest underneath. It contained two hundred platinum pieces, which they agreed was much better than a mere 400GP. The sword ‘Kalan’ was now in its rightful place; with the followers of Vhaeraun. All that was needed now was someone who knew how to create a magic sword. Berun’s eyes lit up at the prospect of expanding his magic lore.
It was time to return to the Valley of the Great Sword.
"Before we go, I have a plan to get back our property from Ajani” said Berun. "If we go in at night, using stealth and speed, we could overpower him before he gets the chance to use his magic.”
Gul thought it over and was almost persuaded. The others, especially Dur, Tsab and Arla along with Gorlab and Zaen, were less convinced. The thought of a rematch with such a powerful sorcerer was not an inviting prospect. Gul made a decision for once and put his foot down with a firm hand.
"Let’s get back to the Valley and see what can be done about my curse!”
They crossed Imperial air space without encountering any Roc Riders and landed gratefully near a Cronk village. Gul had Dur and some of the other crew members carry the Ibis statue, much to his brother’s disgust.
"You’ll do as you’re told and like it, brother.” Said Gul angrily and slapped Dur across the face. Dur shouldered his burden but remained sullen. As they entered the village the inhabitants came out to challenge the party but on seeing they were faced with Drow they soon retreated back into their houses. The local priest approached them, begging them not to do too much damage or kill too many people.
"Fear not, I don’t want plunder, I need advice” said Gul. The priest breathed a sigh of relief.
"Anything, lord,” he said.
"Does that statue mean anything to you?” Gul told the story of the curse.
"Sorry, lord, you need to go to the next village down the road.”
"Drat, why can't things go smoothly for once?”
With that Gul and the boys set off for the next village where a similar scenario played itself out. However the priest here bade Gul put the statue in his temple as the villagers were followers of Tehru. The captain clicked his fingers and the statue was carried into the temple.
"Return in a week’s time and then we will see about getting the curse removed” said the priest.
The crew returned to the Despair and flew to Trade Town. At last they were back in civilisation.