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The Crystal Anchor

Page history last edited by Kirk 3 weeks, 2 days ago

back to the Index, the Saga, or to Chapter 77:  The Electric Emissary 


Chapter 78

The Crystal Anchor


9:30 Dragon, 16th of Solace, Fireday - Summer


      Our group consisted of:


  • Eornan

  • Alpheus

  • Bran

  • Landon

  • Alistair

  • Alys


     We were at the Blasted Gate, in what seemed to be the Fade. Wind blew continually, with snow falling on us; there were no sounds of humans (or dragons). In the sky, whirling clouds surrounded a green cyclone touching down beyond the ruins. Rocks trailing green vapor shot out of the whirling clouds where the cyclone penetrated it; they fell on the landscape with heavy thuds, causing some damage. The trail behind us was blocked by rubble.


Attack on Alys


      Bran looked closely at Alys, squinting and raising his axe. Bran took a step towards her and said "It's a trap!" Alys drew back and raised her hands. "That's it? Nothing else to say?" the warrior said in an accusing tone. Bran turned to his friends and said "This isn't Alys.  It's a trick." 

       The Helwyr swung his axe at the woman -- it passed through her. Her form shimmered and changed monstrously ... to a bloated, stretched monster.


the frightening mask!


     The terrible entity said, "Ah, you caught me. I would love to chat more, but I have so much to see, so much to do. Don't worry, I will catch you later," and faded from sight. It had actually been actually Davos!


Towards the Rift


      The world was strangely out-of-focus -- things seemed to be appearing when we looked for or at them. Eornan seemed extra-charismatic. We still could not see the Dark City, and wondered, "How could this be the Fade?"

     We entered through the ruined gate -- the doors and windows to the side were filled with blackness, but could not be entered -- they were openings to nothingness. A large set of "castle" doors far ahead were blocked by some rubble, but an open section of wall allowed us to proceed.

      The landscape included ruins of all sizes -- old masonry; and not from an identifiable culture -- along with towering cliffs, slanting spikes of "natural" stone, and some hillsides with snow and trees. Much of the level ground was covered in ash.

      There were veins of green running through the "natural" rock, but never quite near us. The further we got into the mysterious zone, the more we saw odd intrusions of red crystals. Small fires were erupting from parts of the ground, and some scorched corpses were half-buried in ash. The corpses were "real" when Bran touched one with his axe.

      Our mages felt the massive power in the red crystals; Bran threw his axe at one outcropping, and it exploded into shards and fragments! Alpheus peered through his glass sphere at a shard, and saw it as it appeared.

     Landon carefully scooped up some fragments into an empty potion bottle.


Though they probably wouldn't appear when we returned to the real world.


     Crossing the landscape, the trail we followed passed under ancient arches, around strange rock spikes, and generally closer to where the greenish cyclone touched the ground.

     The "magical cyclone" was anchored at its lower end in a strange green crystalline object, which grew branches and retracted them in an eerie rhythm.



     This crystal was floating a couple of yards above the plinth on which a tall statue of Andraste stood -- or most of a statue, for the head was broken into a few large pieces which floated above the figure spinning slowly.



     We noticed, far away among the mountain-peaks, the forms of cavorting demons. Bran repeated, "It's all a trick," as he peered through a doorway into black nothingness.

     While we stood in a darkened area, we saw that a patch of Eornan's chest was glowing -- in fact, under his shirt, what glowed brightly was Maeves amulet. In time we also noticed a spot in Bran's lower back glowed dimly - eventually we decided it might be his core. Alistair's core stone shone in the bottom of his large backpack. Eornan's core had also made its way into his body, hiding behind some organs in his lower abdomen. Presumably this happened to him when he was on the slab in the haunted house - like it had done so with Bran - just no one thought to look for it until now.

     The path led us into a low area around the plinth -- perhaps the area had been a temple, or was meant to represent a temple.


Investigating the Temple


     We prowled about the plinth, which was at least 6 yards on a side -- but we stayed well away from it, and the red crystals at the base.



     Half-buried in the ashes nearby we found the rim of a circular well, basin or brazier, filled with ash. The rim was made of some dark metal (volcanic aurum?), with unfamiliar runic characters etched into it. Digging into the brazier, we eventually found some few dozen varied human teeth and a couple jewelry rings -- grimly indicating that the brazier had indeed been used for cremating bodies.

     For some reason, the book Australi Botanico wanted to slip from Landon's backpack -- it seemed to be pulled into the brazier. Landon carefully re-stowed it and thoroughly lashed his backpack shut -- and stood away from the brazier.

     After fruitless digging in the brazier, and poking at all the surrounding rocks and ruins, we decided that the crystal object was a sort of anchor, or source, for the place we were in -- and this place was not the Fade itself, but a mere illusion in the Fade.

     Our mages cast defensive spells, and with weapons at the ready we approached the plinth ...


Demons Emerge


     ... and a massive Pride Demon appeared!



     An aura of dread and despair spread from it; but Our Heroes steeled their nerves and soldiered on.


Well, except for Alpheus, for a few seconds.


     Our warriors shot arrows into it, and slashed at its strange flesh; Alpheus put it under the influence of a Vulnerability Hex spell. Its Shock Whip was disturbingly damaging to all of us -- fortunately, the Fade made our spells less draining to cast, so Landon and Alpheus began blasting the demon again and again.  To add insult to injury, Alpheus cast a Walking Bomb spell upon it.

     Our initial hopes for a quick victory faded as arching green "lightning" from the crystal struck down at the ground; and from that spot erupted a Horror Demon! We continued to focus our attacks on the Pride Demon, as the Horrors were less of a menace (and we hoped that destroying the Pride Demon would end the rain of Horrors).

     Though the Pride Demon cast spells to increase the damage of its claws and those of the Horrors, we continued to blast and slice great chunks from its flesh. After a minute and a half, the giant creature fell dead -- just missing Bran Helwyr as it crashed to the ash. 

     Again our hopes were raised -- and they were dashed again as more green lighting arched down from the crystal, bringing two more Pride Demons!  The remaining Horrors had just been destroyed, though.

     Bran cried out "Somebody smart figure out what to do!"  Eornan shouted that we needed to destroy the crystal, and began to fire arrow after arrow into it; however, mundane attacks did not seem to have much effect on it, indeed the arrows seemed to explode on contact. 

     The Pride Demons brought forth a Stinging Swarm and a Blood Wound. Alistair's Templar powers were able to suppress the Swarm, and we shouted, "To the crystal, suppress the crystal!"

     More Horrors continued to appear, and Alistair scaled up the plinth, getting nearly to the top in an amazing display of athleticism. The rest of Our Heroes smashed and blasted the demons, and the Templar clambered up onto the plinth. "Go, go, jump!" we screamed; he gathered his strength and jumped up and out. As his Templar powers overcame the crystal, the ground, the landscape, the demons, and the world itself began to tremble and fall apart, like the ash remnants of a log. We fell through the crumbling illusion ...


Into the Fade


     ... and found ourselves in the proper Fade, with the Black City visible in the distance. Strange architecture was warped about us; there was no certainty of which direction was "up", let alone east, west, north or south. Jagged rocks floated in the sky, some with buildings on them. The rocks and buildings sometimes had "windows", black or white -- but nothing beyond the openings.

     Recognizable objects were scattered about, some broken or tilted:  tables, Alamarri columns, doors, felendaris flowers ... Alpheus said, "These things are echoes of objects that were important to people." Far away on the "mountains" were demons and more hideous, insane creatures moving about. Some wisps, possibly spirits, floated about closer.

     We soon noticed an eluvian nearby, and walked over to it. It seemed "real" within the Fade. We examined it for a bit; Bran pulled out his eluvian key and muttered some elven words. It shimmered and we stepped through into a snowy landscape, elsewhere in the Fade.  A broken eluvian stood behind us, dashing any hope of returning that way.

     Beyond the eluvian, many more of the strange red crystals, or growths, were seen. No clear route or destination presented itself; Alpheus tried meditation in an attempt to wake himself up in the real world, but the effort required was tremendous. Alistair listened to Alpheus' description and likened it to the sloth demon's influence in his trip to Kinloch Hold.

     In the far distance we could see the swirling vortex and cyclone of the Rift ... perhaps that was the direction to proceed? There were few directions otherwise ...



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