15 March 2011

Chapter the Sixth: Small But Deadly Heavens

From the Cathederalisle of Drouss, Ulmo and Tyrian sailed back to the Mother Enclave of the Roeblini to find passage on to the Monastery of the Masterminds. With Tyrios help they secured passage with a "trade" vessel headed near the forgotten psychic order's retreat. The Monastery proved to be a great sphere of some otherworldly material perched precariously and dwarfing a small island rising from the Forest Sea. In a small bay nestled next to the sphere, a hobgoblin pirate raider lay docked, two landing craft beached on the coarse sand. Rough shod footsteps led up to a crevasse in the cliff face, below the horizon of the alien sphere.

As the doughty adventurers approached, black arrows arched from the darkness of the cave. Tyrian rushed the entrance with Ulmo using his much larger comrade as cover. Inside the cave mouth two hobgoblin archers engaged the adventurers. The fierce humanoids were quickly joined by several more hobgoblins armed with flails and swords. The two adventurers made short work of the hobgoblin raiders, the remaining three surrendering and fleeing in their vessel. From the rough cave, well carved stairs rose to a platform at the equator of the great sphere.

From this platform Ulmo and Tyrian saw a vast orrery shrouded in mist, its heavenly bodies replaced by orbiting ruins and debris. Winged shapes twisted between the many gravitational fields of the flying bodies of the orrery. To the left and right two large flaming bodies representing suns burned in the salty fog. Through a hidden crack in the base of the sphere, a large pool of seawater had gathered, forming a small sea. Tyrian with Ulmo on his back, leapt to the first planetoid, only to find it running near the orrery's twin suns. The suns were revealed to be firelashers imprisoned for the past millennia, as the firelasher reared back to strike it noticed Tyrian's Mark of the Efreet and stayed its hand.

Ulmo and Tyrian lept to the next orbiting ruin, a water scarred and wet mass that plunged into the briny sea at the base of the orrery. However just before they met the dark water, the adventurers lashed themselves to the stalagmites. As they struck the water, a spiked tentacle belonging to an otyugh hidden in the waters struck, dragging Tyrian to the edge of the ruin. However, Tyrian wrestled the foul tentacle from his body before he could be dragged from the rocks and into the beast's diseased maw. As the adventurers' lungs burned for air, a party of sahuagin intercepted the sinking island. As the fish priest attacked with water bolts and spectral shark maw, his Ichthy minions engaged in melee with vicious tridents. Tyrian threw himself into the midst of the blood mad fishmen as Ulmo cast his icy daggers at their foe. The battle raged in murky depths, each blow payed with the strain of sinews or a drop of blood but all taxed by lungs desperate for air. Despite the brave explorers waning strength, more and more of the fish demons fell before the remaining three fled.

As soon as the planetoid burst from the dark waters, the party quickly jumped to the next planetoid, another fragment and its moonling that orbited near the two suns. Here they rested and made the transient acquaintance of a firebat before being attacked by a wandering gargoyle. They jumped again to another orbiting ruin that plunged into the grey green waters below. Here Ulmo was nearly swept away by the otyugh's tentacle. The party leapt to another element of the orrery's collection, a large slab of stone with multiple alcoves housing gargoyles in their hibernation/statue state. Two of the grotesque statues came to life, the gargoyles rushing to attack the party. They were dispatched by the magic and might of the two explorers. They escaped via the planetoid's small moon and debris field, hurtling like asteroids through the orrery.

The party's next planetoid was revealed to be the animate head of a nameless titan, who had explored the planes eons ago. The skull was able to help the party identify their next destination, an invisible planetoid that they marked with dust. They rode the invisible rock until meeting another fragment of a room, again making the daring leap between the heavenly bodies. The next inner orbit held a dirty white rock, resembling a dragon, Ulmo and Tyrian leapt only to discover that this planetoid was indeed a sleeping dragon, named Glacier White Death who was none to amused by the sudden hijinks of two humanoid mortals. As the wyrm woke and flared its wings, Ulmo and Tyrian leapt to a small fragment, nearest the central tower of the orrery. As they tried to calm and influence the irate dragon, they inched toward their final leap. Ulmo and Tyrian crossed the last span and divide into the tower stairs. Glacier White Death sealed the tower with its icy breath and the adventurers scampered down the stairs as the dragon's fury shook the very stones.

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