Beyond the Fiery Gate

The heroes turn their attention to the large, fiery gate. Tanamier stares intently at the glassy pool from whence the Bone Naga came. The cautious side of him clearly distrustful that the threat is ended. Tanamier stares for a few moments then turns away, satisfied for now that they can move on. Caelynn whispers in his arcane tongue to disturb the water, but nothing came of it. Caelynn and Tanamier share a knowing glance and then, with a second glance at the two huge fireplaces on the far wall, they finally turn to the large steel gate on the other side of the room.

As J’afrock furrows his brow at the prospect of simply lifting the huge gate, Caelynn examines the roughly-hewn stone floor to see if there’s any indication of passing traffic but cannot determine. Turning his attention to the gate, it seems unclear whether the gate is magical, and Griften notices no mechanism to allow for easy passage. Putting his axe on his back, J’afrock grasps the bottom rungs of the massive steel gate. With a powerful heave, J’afrock lifts upwards and the massive gate lunges upwards. Heaving it above his head, J’afrock grumbles, “Through the gate my friends!” Eagerly, the heroes file through the gate and J’afrock lets it slam closed behind him as he slips underneath as well. Griften glances back at the half-orc warrior; “Good to know what can or cannot keep you out…” he says with a smile.

Staring down a dark corridor, Caelynn quickly casts a light dweomer on the edge of his sword and holds it aloft. The end of the hallway reveals stairs heading downwards, but no sound echoes from the end of the heroes’ gaze.

There are stairs that descend at a sharp angle at the end of the corridor. It is obvious that the source of the heat that you were feeling through the grate before, comes from further below.
Caelynn cautiously creeps to the top of the stairs, and J’afrock meets him as they slowly descend the stairs. From the end of the corridor, a faint light is visible, but J’afrock pays it no mind and brazenly reaches the end of the corridor, and turns the corner to see in front of him, and most obvious is a large wall of magma pouring from the ceiling, J’afrock immediately recognizes the being as a Salamander.

The heat increased rapidly as you descended the stairs and now you see the source; an enormous wall of glowing magma reaching to the cieling from the chamber ahead. Piles of cooled lava lie scattered around the room, and you can just make out enormous, iron-bound doors leading out. A single crimson, serpentine creature holding a longbow stands guard near the wall of magma.
The heroes hear a monstrous call in a strange, guttural language emerging from the head of the serpentine creature. Griften recognizes the language as Infernal; a foul language contained only in some of the most evil of the books Griften had studied. The scream meant, “Intruders! Humanoids and not the same as came before!”. Griften‘s eyes narrow:

Tiemel and Bajastelle are here.

Realizing the serpentine creature’s intent, J’afrock‘s mind automatically begins calculating the odds.

Close on the monster, take it down fast, there are more. Get the bladesinger up there now.

With a brief command, Caelynn launches forward to begin closing on the huge snake-like creature. Just as Caelynn moves, bursting through the wall of magma, a creature of elemental fire made entirely of flame, but contained in what looks like scale-metal robes. The creature releases from its outstretched arm a ball of flame in the heroes’ midst. The flame washes over Caelynn and J’afrock and sparks smolder on even J’afrock‘s resistant armour.

Before even Griften and Tanamier turn the corner, a huge fire giant strides forward from behind the wall of magma.

“Ha! More battle practice for us! Three astral diamonds for whoever can split their head!”

The giant hurls a massive javelin at the bladesinger, but it narrowly misses the agile elf. Recovering, Caelynn charges the fire giant, but his blade bangs helplessly off it’s scale armour. The fire elemental archon swings wildly at J’afrock, but it glances off J’afrock‘s armour. With a burst of speed, J’afrock charges the huge giant as well, and with a yell he swings his mighty axe and bites into the fire giant’s knee. Recoiling, the fire giant looks down and says with disdain, “I’ve taken harder hits from gnomes…” Another of the fiery salamanders burst into the fray through the wall of magma; scattering sparks through the room. It draws back it’s mighty bow, and fires two arrows in rapid succession at both J’afrock and Caelynn. Seeing it from the corner of it’s eye; Caelynn ducks the huge arrow as it whistles above his head, but J’afrock takes the hit in his shoulder. The first salamander sees J’afrock flat-footed and fires two more arrows, connecting with the half-orc and staggering him for only an instant.

From the corner hallway, Tanamier surveys the joined combat. Moving forward briefly, Tanamier extends his arm towards the huge fire giant, but a rushed prayer to Parthen begins to does not come fully formed in his mind. Instead, he glances at J’afrock and a brief aura glows and theen disappears around the half-orc. With a grunt of approval, J’afrock‘s back straightens and a battle-hardened smile flashes across his face as he focuses on his enemy.

As if on queue, another of the foul snake beasts slithers forward from through the wall of magma, with two arrows already drawn. One sails by J’afrock but the other connects with the elf; and a short yell indicates it made contact.

From the end of the hallway, caught on his heels, Griften rounds the corridor to see the battle. With a narrowed gaze, Griften focuses on the fire giant and a small, fiery symbol glows briefly but then dissipates as quicly as it appeared.

No… it’s happening again… Griften thought to himself. Focus; they need you!

Seeming to ignore both Tanamier and Griften, the archon of living flame disappears in a puff of smoke of flame, but immediately appears again, and sends a blast of flame down the corridor to where Tanamier and Griften watch helplessly. Flame washes over both the heroes, and the force of the blast knocks them both back against the wall of the corridor. The fire giant looks down at J’afrock and says, “You can hit, but can you take it?” And swings his mighty greatsword, slamming J’afrock in the side. J’afrock sees in the fire giant’s gaze that he’s gotten his attention; this will only end when one of them falls.

Caelynn, trying desperately to brush the embers from his glistening armour, hears the ancient song warriors of old undoubtedly heard countless times. With a quiet peace seeming to settle over him despite the blaze of the flames and the huge opponents, with the sound of rushing wind, Caelynn disappeared from sight, appearing in the same instant amidst the huge snake-like beings. Eyes closed, Caelynn pulls back his fine longsword and slices neatly across the back of the leg of the fire giant. “Arghhh!” the huge beareded warrior calls out. Caelynn, eyes still closed extends the wand in his left hand towards the tall fire giant; snapping a bitter cold around his legs; and despite the fire a brief frost seals the giant’s foot to the ground. Still in one fluid, graceful motion, three white, crackling bolts of electricity leap out from the bladesinger’s blade; crashing into all the foes around him. As if in a whirlwind, the blade flashes forth again towards the fire giant, slicing in to it’s other huge leg, the icy bite cutting in to the fire giant again. It all happened so fast, the heroes now

J’afrock, with a grin of satisfaction at the tiny elf’s prowess, gazes up at the fire giant now wincing in pain. With a grunt of disdain, he swings his mighty battle-axe and cleaves into the fire-giant’s side. With another growl, the fire giant grabs his side in pain. Caelynn, eyes now open and watching his comrade, grins and feels the strength back in his arm.

One of the salamander archers fires two arraows at Tanamier and Griftne; missing both. The other tries to swat J’afrock with it’s tail, but with a quick dodge, J’afrock leaps underneath the huge tail.

Ignoring the cinders burning on his tunic and with a brief, whispered prayer, Tanamier charges forward and connecting with the archon seeing his swing strike home.

Reeling from the lightning-fast actions of the bladesinger, falling back more from reflex than strategy, the huge snake like creature falls back to fire off two arrows at the snakes; but misses both.

Griften walks forward and extends his arm outwards to both the archon and one of the salamanders; conjuring a field of force to reign the foes in place. Confused, not knowing where the impact came from, the archon swings wildly at Griften as he moves past but misses.

In defense, the Fire Archon crouches down almost as though he’s almost about to collapse into the fetal position, but immediately stands up strong; limbs extended and explodes in a burst of brilliant flame and sparks. Tanamier and Griften recoil from the massive burst, cinders showering them both and causing a flashing pain to sear into their brains. Unseen by the two blinded heroes, the archon disappeared again in a burst of flame and smoke behind the wall of searing hot magma pouring down from the cieling. As if in response to the devastating attack of the archon, the fire giant, now staggered, bleeding, bloody and coughing up blood, sayis “You think you’re so tough… ” and picks up his sword, swinging it wildly around him in a last desperate attempt. J’afrock and Caelynn, staring in surprise at the giant’s final attempt, feel the massive blade crash into them. J’afrock, spun around by the force of the blow, follows through by turning around with his axe and stabs the vulnerable fire giant in the back of his neck. The massive fire giant collapses in a heap at the foot of the warlord.

Caelynn; the faint music still audible against the thunder of the magma fall slices into the huge snake creature; it’s red blood splashing on the ground as Caelynn shifts quickly away to prevent the gore from covering him as well. J’afrock, calling the attention of the snake-like creature pivots quickly on his heel and hammers into the salamander without a moment’s hesitation from the killing blow on the giant. With a grim sigh of satisfaction, J’afrock stands tall; ready for more fodder to cut itself on his massive axe.

Reeling and confused, the salamanders slink backwards beyond the wall of magma in an attempt for arrows to earn them some distance. Caelynn would not be fooled, and slices the snake as it slinks away. Desperately, one of the arrows catches the bladesinger off guard, and it slices across Caelynn‘s arm. The other salamander, ignorant to the plight of the other guard, fires two arrows at Griften, only one finding its mark.

Still staggered and blind from the piercing pain of the archon’s burst, Tanamier calms himself and remembers the words his god taught him; sealing his wounds and steeling himself, trying to ignore the pain in his head while knocking off the remaining cinders hot against his chest and shoulders.

Realizing their circumstance, the other salamander turns its attention now to Caelynn; finding him with one of two arrows. Also shaking his head from the brilliant burst of sparks, Griften stands upright and closes off the chaos around him. Finding for a moment the center of his self, Griften seals some of his wounds and moves toward the archon as his vision clears. The archon, seeing Griften stagger forward towards it appears again in a burst of flame closer to Griften. Having regained his sight, Griften ducks underneath the fiery fist of the archon.

With a quick glance at the tear in his shirt, Caelynn narrows his gaze and with another graceful slash, widens the gaping wound he opened in the salamander earlier. With a disgusting hiss, the salamander spills over backward, dead. J’afrock calls out “Well struck Caelynn; slay the other salamander!” Caelynn looks over his shoulder at the warlord, the silent acknowledgement of each warrior’s battle prowess giving Caelynn renewed strength. Desperate to flee, the other salamander flails wildly at Caelynn but the elf deftly avoids both mad swings.

Tanamier gazed across the battlefield; his sight nothing but a blur of yellow and white light. Closing his eyes hard for a moment, Tanamier opened his eyes to see one of the salamanders desperately fire an arrow into J’afrocks side while he was turned away. Behind him, the Archon turns again to Griften, just having dodged its last swing and slams him hard with a fiery first. Griften grimaces as the cinders explode around him again; covering him and threatening to engulf him.

Caelynn runs forward to the salamander creature trying desperately to distance itself from the bladesinger and cuts into it again; serving as a reminder of what happened to its comrade.

J’afrock pivots on his heel and connects with the same salamander, and the force of both massive swings knocks the snakelike creature to the ground; coiling up in defense. The other salamander, now able to turn its focus to the heroes sails an arrow against the bladesinger and its advantage works; the arrow lodges itself in the bladesinger’s leg with a thud.

Tanamier gazes at the archon, casting down a sacred flame across its silhouette in front of the magma. Seemingly immune to the divine fire, the archon stares at Tanamier; well aware of the priest’s intent. Tanamier, seeing Caelynn take the arrow in the leg, bathes the bladesinger in Parthen’s healing light. Caelynn grabs the arrow and yanks it out; but doesn’t turn even for a moment to look at Tanamier; he knew all too well the reason for his renewed vigor.

The battered and bloody salamander slinks quickly to an upright position, and tries to snap its tail at J’afrock. Grabbing the snake creature’s tail with his free hand, J’afrock swings his mighty battle-axe one-handed at the flailing creature, cleaving it in two at it’s midsection. The gore spilled backwards toward the wall of magma and began to fill the small room with a foul stench as it immediately boiled on impact. “RAWWWWWWR” J’afrock‘s cry reminds his colleagues of his wild nature. The last remaining salamander glanced quickly at the horrible sight and immediately shrank back.

Now able to see on the other side of the wall of magma, Griften narrowed his gaze at the archon who blinded him only moments before. Imagining the air around it closing in, Griften quickly hammers the archon with an unseen force, and tethers it in place. Immediately, the ash disciple bursts forward to charge Griften but he had already regained his composure and deftly stepped aside to dodge the desperate lunge.

Caelynn charges the salamander; blood now seeping through the fine mithral shirt. In a blink, Caelynn extends his arm outwards towards the last serpentine assailant and knocks it to the ground. J’afrock, with a smash of his massive axe carves into the serpentine creature. Realizing it’s peril, the serpentine archer recoils desperate to get away. Sensing an opening, J’afrock twirls his axe in his hand, and with a massive backhand, slices the snake creature and cuts its head off.

Tanamier, sensing the end is near calls down the Sacred flames of his god and bathes the other archer in a fiery torrent; inspired; Griften, starting up at the full height of the Flame Archon, blasts the archon with mental force and with a quick backwards spin, connects with his staff against the reeling form of the archon. The archon swings desperately.

Caelynn, seeing the flame dwindle, carves neatly into the midsection of the archon, and the fiery form explodes outward in a shower of sparks, covering the heroes.

The heroes catch their breath and listen closely to the echoes through the halls; ever watchful that their battle certainly raised alarm elsewhere in this strange place…

Able now to turn their attentions to the large iron doors, Griften focuses on the door, and certain it’s not magical in nature, listens closely but hears nothing. “We must press on. May I suggest a distraction? The noise we made almost certainly has drawn the attention of anyone on the other side of this door. Perhaps rather than walking straight in, we should simple push open the doors and lure anyone on the other side into this doorway.”

“I will open the door.” says J’afrock.

J’afrock, perhaps by luring them in, we can surround them and your axe will find rest in a foe rather than on your shoulder.”

The heroes position themselves appropriately, and with a thought, Griften pushes open the door with a loud creak. Melting into what shadow is offered by the flickering lava behind them, the heroes wait to see if anything comes forward. Seeing and hearing nothing, Griften gestures to J’afrock to advance; the hulking warlord steps forward immediately; his willingness to stand back clearly limited.

The heroes start down the corridor and a few steps ahead of them, they see another pair of massive, black iron doors, but this time sound is definitely coming through them.

“Shall we attempt the same strategem again? There is very little cover here.” Without waiting for a response, J’afrock slams hard against the door, but it doesn’t budge.

“Now they know we’re here.” Caelynn says.

J’afrock, again!” Griften urges the warrior to throw his muscle into it. BOOM! The doors burst open! Beyond the massive black doors is a feast hall occupied by a number of giants served by fiery, dwarf-like creatures. Twin statues of giants flank a throne while a pair of humble braziers illuminate the room. From the giantess-queen sitting on the thone, Tanamier notices a small glowing blue flask hanging from her belt and shares a knowing glance with Griften. Griften nods back, steadying himself for battle.

The fiery-giantess queen sitting in her throne, not even making a move to get up. Her gaze turns to J’afrock and her eyes squint, examing his armour. Recognizing the standard of Nyrond, she speaks in the guttural giant tongue, “I recognize that design. I met someone else who was wearing that today…” and then she reaches from the base of her throne and holds up the bloody, broken corpse of Tiemel, finishing “DO YOU KNOW HIM!? You will meet his fate!” and she throws his body to the ground with a complete lack of dignity.

Recognizing the unique set of armour Tiemel wore, Griften reflexively reaches out and screams “Nooooo!”; all composure lost as the sight of his friend’s body. Regaining his focus, Griften locks his gaze onto the advancing forces and says quietly to his comrades, “Don’t let the small ones surround you!”

With lightning-fast response, Caelynn extends his hand towards one of the advancing fiery-dwarf like creatures. With a word, missiles of force scream out towards it, and it tumbles into a heap, dead. At the same time, one of the advancing giants hurls a massive spear at J’afrock, slamming into his shield and jarring him slightly.

The Air Archon mobilizes and rushes forward with a burst of wind, it’s lightning sword crackling in the humid air. Waiting for the sword to sail by, J’afrock returns with a swing of his own, and finds the air archon isn’t quite as amorphous as it looks. Another fire giant races forward and swings its massive sword in a wide arc, but the heroes duck below the massive blade.

“I see I’m going to have to get my own hands dirty..” the forgecaller yells out. With purposeful strides, the huge fire giantess steps forward and unleashes a massive burst of fire in the middle of heroes.

Grasping the amulet at his neck, Griften stares through the cloud of emotion washing over him. Images of those he knows and those he’s lost flash before his eyes and he can feel the focus slipping from him. Trying desperately to focus on the foes in front of him, his efforts falter and the waves of energy and force slip away; unable to call the power required. “No…. not now!” Griften cringes.

Tanamier invokes his Shield of Faith; and the heroes feel a surge of confidence in the face of the huge giants. Staring at the giantess, Tanamier plans his next attack, but is distracted long enough for a giant to reach down with a swat and connect against Tanamier‘s shield.

Realzing the gravity of their situation, the familiar eladrin hum begins to emanate from the elf. Disappearing and appearing again at the foot of the giantess, Caelynn slices neatly through the armour of her midsection and the frost bite of his attack clearly jars the giantess. Turning, Caelynn slices also into the giant behind him, making the giant reel backwards slightly. Completing the full circle, Caelynn bites again into the giantess. The feywild magic befuddles the mind of the fire giant as he stumbles forward and strikes her in the side. She screams in rage at both you and her stupid companion, and with another quick slice Caelynn grins slightly as the blood streams from her side.

The fire giant screams, “Get this faerie off of me!” Griften smiles at seeing the bladesinger in action again. Impressive.

The Air Archon responds to the mistresses demand, and flies in a bolt of electrified wind toward the melee.

J’afrock scans the battlefield and issues a few short-worded commands to align the comrades.

Ducking underneath a fire giants swing, Caelynn uses his fey magic to drag the forgecaller towards him, “Come dance with me, my love.” A devilish grin spreads across his face.

Griften; disappearing in a blink to appear further into the room looks at the Air Archon and narrows his gaze; thunderous force hammering the elemental from all sides. With a casual gesture, Griften slides Caelynn further against the wall; his plan coming to fruition. With another thought, a fiery symbol glows on his forehead and a burst of radiant damage slams into the group of giants, knocking them backwards and to the ground. With a cry, the giantess crumples in a heap against the hard stone floor; eyes staring blankly at the cieling. There is no satisfaction in Griften‘s eyes, however. Speaking loudly enough to reach his comrades, Griften says, “Caelynn, J’afrock, finish them while they’re down.”

Caelynn says over his shoulder, “Perhaps we should interrogate some of these fellows.” Turning to one of the fire giants, Caelynn says again, “You should drop your arms if you know what’s good for you.” The giant staggers towards J’afrock in a daze.

Desperate at the sight of its fallen comrades, the fire giant swings madly at Tanamier and slams into his side. “You’re not going anywhere!” it taunts aloud.

Griften calls out, “Caelynn, J’afrock, bring that one to its knees!”

The giants, realizing their plight both drop their weapons and surrender. The heroes bring them together and force them to kneel. J’afrock, hefting his axe.

Tanamier and Griften rush over to the unmoving body of Tiemel. Turning him over, Griften‘s eyes darken to see the elf’s beautiful face marred by blood and dirt from the floor. Lying to the left of the throne, Tanamier gently lifts the corpse of Bajastelle and lays it next to Tiemel.

The giants, despite admitting defeat in battle, don’t seem anxious to volunteer any information to the heroes. Tanamier, his brow creased in fury, strides over to the fire giant and slams it’s knee with his mace. Screaming in pain, the giant yells “You haven’t asked us any questions! What do you want?!”

“I don’t intend to ask you any questions, we’ll see if the other one talks after he sees what I do to you.” tanamier raises his mace threateningly,

“What? What do you want?”

“How did those two come to be here ddid you pull them into the portal?”

“They were intruders, we had every right to defend our home against them”

“Have you ventured out of this place?”

“No, we receive other people in.”

Tanamier, remembering the flask at the hip of the fallen fire giantess, moves forward and rips it off her belt. Staring at it, he realizes pouring it into the braziers opens a portal back to the place from whence the heroes came. With a leap of faith, the heroes emerge on the other side carrying the bodies of their fallen comrades.

Author: Turnerbuds

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