Devils in the White City

The Library (Part Three)

At the end of the staircase the party found the doorway to the tower’s top room, its attic and entered. A dark and dusty space, unentered in an age. The walls are lined with once priceless treasures, devices strange and vacant. The room is empty of all magical energy, a vacuum. In the center of the room lies a small chest which the Warrior walks straight to, flinging open its lid. A circular indentation at its centre holds a small, fragile orb. He reached for it but it flies from his grasp into the hand of a shadowy figure. “Back again? Or…no, is this the beginning? Things start but they never seem to end. It wanted to end us and we couldn’t stop it, just like you can’t stop me. Years, years we worked in those final minutes. It was too much for him, he gave up, gave in, accepted an unhappy ending to his story, but I couldn’t do that. My happy ending was still out there somewhere, I knew that.” The robed figure steps out from the dark but the shadows covering it don’t part: beneath the hood, inside the sleeves and between the collar there is only darkness. You see now that in its other hand it holds the horned staff of the Apprentice.

“If we couldn’t stop it together there was no way I would be able to stop it alone, but you see, I wasn’t alone. They spoke to me, told me they knew the secret, they knew how to save me. All they wanted in return was energy, they were too weak, too hungry to give me what I needed. So I fed them all our devices, but It wasn’t enough. I gave them all my magic, but it wasn’t enough. Then, they took my body, but still they were unsatisfied and so they left. To my horror I found that like this the wave didn’t destroy me, so time continued. It took a year or two for it to settle in. That there was no going back, that what was done was done. But I knew it couldn’t end like this, so I waited, waited for them to come back. My body didn’t satisfy them, but maybe, just maybe, yours will. So lets end this.”

The Apprentice rose up on the darkness and struck out at the party, who avoided his beams and batterings with ease until the Warrior strode in and struck him down with a mighty blow. The shadows holding the robe together receded into themselves, imploding and The Apprentice dropped his staff and the Orb, which shattered as it hit the ground.

At the end of the staircase the party found the doorway to the tower’s top room, its attic and entered. A dark and dusty space, unentered in an age. The walls are lined with once priceless treasures, devices strange and vacant. The room is empty of all magical energy, a vacuum. In the center of the room lies a small chest which the Warrior walks straight to, flinging open its lid. A circular indentation at its center holds a small, fragile orb. He reached for it but it flies from his grasp into the hand of a shadowy figure. “Back again? Or…no, is this the beginning? Things start but they never seem to end.” “Shut it,” the Warrior retorted and charged towards the shadowy figure. The battle went much like the last time, The Apprentice felled by another mighty blow of The Warrior’s sword. Again the orb dropped and shattered and again the party found the doorway to the tower’s top room…

The Bard ran straight to the chest and, without opening a catch, pulled it from the pillar it sat on. The Apprentice emerged again and recited the speech a third time, only noticing at its end that he didn’t hold the orb. Instead of fighting he rushed at the Bard, grasping desperately at the chest but without a physical form he had no way of wrestling it away from him. Again The Apprentice succumbed to the parties attacks and this time he fell for good. The looting and celebrations were cut short however, when the tower began to shake. The party carefully made their way back down the staircase with the Orb in their possession. They climbed back through the bedroom and down to the next floor where they found the Ladder down was missing.

The tiles from the spiral mural had all fallen off the wall, a victim of the tremors which now increased in severity. Fearing that they hadn’t the time to deal with the puzzle the Party instead decided to send the Mage into Tafkap’s memory to steal the solution from there. One red, one blue, two red, three blue, five red, etc. They continued the journey down, made it as far as the Library hall when the tower collapsed, killing them all and crushing the orb.

Waking back in the Attic the party felt the first shudder in the stones beneath them and sprinted down the tower, this time making it outside with seconds to spare. Long enough to see the woman running off into the distance. A dust cloud shot out from the wreckage when it hit the ground and then got sucked back in as the tower, hesitantly, reformed once again by the residual energy of the orbs’ magic. The warrior, intrigued by the blue glow holding the bricks together, got closer to the walls and, straining his eyes spotted the silhouettes of six figures running on air outside the tower’s top floor. A voice echoed down, his own voice, “The chest, it’s empty?” Then the tower collapsed again, this time for good.

As the dust cloud settled the Party saw what had caused its collapse. Two huge quadrupedal beasts bearing a massive siege engine were beating at its base. Behind them a great crater stretched across what had been the open courtyard on the University. A dwarf in gold-plated armour looked at them from atop the machine and shouts, “Surface architecture huh? You pinks make it too easy. Speaking of, let’s do this the easy way and have you just hand over the orb, huh? Lads, go help ’em out with that.” At this fifty of the armored dwarves stepped off the siege engine and started towards the party.

Jurado turned to the Bard, who was still holding the chest, and whispered, “Run. Get away then find some way to destroy it. I’ll hold them as long as I can.” Jurado then turned towards the approaching dwarves and took a small step forward, dragging himself along with his staff. Then another small step. On the third he faltered, bending over, as if in pain. All of a sudden two great, scaly wings sprouted from his back and his spine began to shatter and stretch. In a matter of seconds he was airborne in the form of a Great Wyvern, swooping at the approaching soldiers.

The Bard muttered a few words and conjured up a crowd of illusory replicas, sending them off in all directions, while leading the party back to the Pub. They were almost there when one of the Dwarves spotted them for the real adventurers, grabbing two of his friends and calling them out. The Bard handed the chest to the Warrior, said ’We’ll handle these" and nodded to the Rogue, who was already slinking into the shadows. The bard bailed off into a side alley, two of the Dwarves on his tail. He stopped and turned to face them, they raised their axes and barreled towards him, unaware of the Rogue rapidly advancing behind them. She stabbed both through the neck, stopping them cold and the pair set off deeper into the city.

Once they reached the gate leading outside the Bard clapped his hands together, causing a thunderous bang that echoed throughout the city. He then went to return to the Rogue, who was waiting nearby, but was stopped by another three of the Dwarf warriors. The Rogue again approached from behind, and again she managed to slay two before they could even register surprise, but the third did not fall so easily. In open combat the Rogue was bested by the dwarf, who struck blow after blow through her light leather armour. The Bard tried to assist, but his strikes were of even less effect. The Rogue lay prone on the cobblestones of the square, the dwarf stalking towards her for the killing blow; both bloodied and bruised from the battle. He rose his axe to strike and she pulled a hidden dagger from her side, swiftly throwing it into the now exposed armpit of the dwarf, who dropped his axe and slowly fell to his knees, wherein the bard kicked him in the head, scooped up the fading Rogue and the pair hobbled back towards the Diving Swallow Inn.

They arrived to see the Warrior throwing the corpse of a Dwarf warrior out the door and onto the street. He ushered them in and they all descended into the sewers together, out of breath and energy, battered and bruised. “One down,” the Warrior said, nudging the chest with his foot. “Two to go.” The mage answered.

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Viginti

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