Most would consider a failure what I consider a resounding success. True, the Seed of Winter itself is not in our possession, nor that of the Free Riders. However, other than that minor detail we have triumphed in spectacular fashion. I sit on a bloody cot, surrounded by my companions who not only hath aided and assisted me in survival, but who have also through thoughtful and careful consideration pinpointed my motivation for adventuring and brought it to fruition. A single tear of sentiment rolls down to my chin. Such devotion and loyalty. Really, I must resist stealing from them even if the item is indeed choice. Sell it, then steal it back from the merchant perhaps. Yes, that is the far better plan. Having done so much for me, it wouldn’t be right to deprive them of their gold.
After our encounter with the guardians of the monastery, the worthless, moronic, traitorous descendants of fungus, we continued our explorations. Damakos seemed somewhat distracted. I suppose nearly having your soul rended from your body might induce introspection. The short of it, is that we found nothing of particular note other than a strange contraption. Brokenglass and Damakos (once he was roused from his woolgathering) proclaimed it to be an “interdimensional transfer device” but that it was inactive, and had had its power drained. Worthy of inclusion in a collection perhaps, but far too large to move. We passed onward towards where Damakos insisted the only magic in the place lay.
A set of double doors entered into an inner sanctum unlike any I’d ever heard of. I had thought Ioun the god of knowledge. This looked far more like a place dedicated to the god of making things whoever that may be. The chamber was long and tall, running nearly the full length of the monastery. The right hand wall was constructed of fire brick. It jutted out and back in several times to increase its length and make room for more of the furnace gratings which opened into now cool and dark cavities beyond. Workbenches and the remains of workbenches lined the center of the chamber, and the left wall hand three fifteen-foot circular alcoves lined with display cases! The center alcove was smashed apart, but the other two were entirely intact!
As I was drawn to the first of the alcoves, Damakos put his hand upon my shoulder. “Powerful and primordial magics reside here. Be very careful. Consequences might be far worse than you may imagine.” Snapped back to myself, I nodded and proceeded with utmost caution. Every sense stretched and looking for the hidden trips that might indicate a trap, or the slight chill and tingle that often presaged the triggering of magics. Nothing. I moved closer to the cases glinting in the alcove. As I set foot within, there was a twisting sensation. I was certain I hadn’t tripped anything. “It wasn’t me! Look out!” I called.
In the center alcove, what I can only describe as a twisting of the very space into a somewhere that wasn’t here formed a five foot sphere. The temperature dropped as flashes of light bled from its center and coalesced into beings next to it. A man dressed in robes and wielding a wand called out “Find the Seed of Winter and let us be gone!” Surrounding him were frosties. Little quick creatures made of snow and ice. Then there was the ice hawk, and last, but not least by far, the big piles of hoarfrost rimed stone with a burning light shining betwixt the cracks. Piles shaped vaguely like huge men.
I don’t know who the wizard was ordering around. Nobody listened to him. Certainly not his minions who scattered into the room to attack us. Gil Jh’Dek dashed off across the room and slammed into the wizard with his sword, figuring on taking out the leader I suppose. The fighting became chaotic as little spirits dashed around the chamber, exploding if they were hit. The huge ice stone thing slammed Co’Bok, Yamis, and Damakos around like playthings. I attempted to blast the little spirits with my crossbow. Damn thing jammed up. That’s what I get for trying to be fancy and hit them all…
Damakos called out that the portal could be sealed by manipulating the whatzamwhozit cofiguration across somewhatithow something or other. The magic-using types seemed to understand what the heck he was talking about and threw dirty looks and obscene gestures in the general direction of the twisty space amongst their other activities. Forget about closing the gateway I thought, far better that the guardians should come along and rend up the souls of these beings for us. No way they’d be surviving the soul-rending Damakos had suffered under earlier. I called out to the whispers that never quite left.
“As a duly appointed contractor of the most Holy of Ioun in the Mortal Realm, charged with the recovery and preservation of the Monastery of the One Truth, I call upon the Guardians of this place and declare that these newcomers who have entered through the portal are defilers, desecraters, vandals, and thieves come to prevent us in our mission! I charge you to fulfill your duty and come forth in assistance to our cause!”
It was a great idea and Yamis, Jalissa and others picked it up too. Too bad it didn’t work. The flaming cowards. Perfectly willing to attack duly authorized representatives, but unwilling to do the same to named enemies! Though the whispers returned, and got louder, the undead soul eaters did not appear. The rings of silver inlaid into the alcoves lit with a faint white glow however, and Damakos declared that if we touched the ring and willed it so, energies would flood our bodies to restore lost vitality. I suppose the spirits helped a little. But should I ever see Ioun, I must be certain to mention the dereliction of duty in addition to the very prejudiced hostility policy shown by the doormen.
The fight started going our way anyway, but then more enemies flooded through the portal and replenished their numbers! Including two more of the huge stony frost things and some huge floating thing with a big eye, a mouth and maybe a dozen tentacles on top each ending in an eye! Brokenglass says it is called a Beholder. Very dangerous. Each eye shot forth rays of magic. Each one does something different. One, I learned from experience later in the fight can pick you up and move you around!
But rather than get bogged down in the details, let me summarize. The battle was epic and many of us suffered rather nasty wounds as the tide turned dramatically against us with the new arrivals. Were it not for the timely arrival of the Free Riders who had apparently appeared in the basement, all would have surely been lost. Ghena was instrumental by placing a huge billowing cloud of caustic nastiness in the chamber which she could move about, greatly harming all the huge creatures crowding the area. The others did their part to assist as well, but Ghenas spell was the turning point in my opinion. For myself, I received some rather serious blows and fear a cracked rib or two until such time as the priestly magic can heal my wounds.
The end of the fight was dramatic with the last stone ice thing trapped in an alcove. We learned the hard way earlier that they explode rather emphatically in a fireball that must be forty feet around! Fortunately, it takes a few moments for them to go off once they’ve been broken enough. Time enough to scramble away if you react quickly. Damakos, bless his burning blood saved one of the tree cases in the alcove by using his lightning whip power to pull the creature just far enough out! I thanked him with a lump in my throat and stealthily collected the surviving goods save for one which was obviously a holy artifact which I secretly gave to Jalissa later.
Searching of the area revealed no sign of the Seed of Winter save for a plaque and stand which Gil Jh’Dek acquired for me. I was mortified by the behavior of Yamis however. He was very obviously trying to pick a fight with Megan. He was very hostile and insulting and to what possible end or gain? Has the man no honor, or leaving that question aside, even the common decency to have a little gratitude for the timely assistance without which several, or likely all, of us would be dead? He must still be suffering from the touch of the chaos. His abhorrent behavior seems to be directed toward women rather than men. First Jalissa, now Megan and Ghena.
We looted the bodies, and the “artifacts” in the monastery and split the proceeds with the Free Riders at 33% as agreed. Their share was paltry. Barely over 100 in gold. Of course, I didn’t split the contents of the first salvaged cabinet. Everybody was too busy looking for the Seed to notice me gathering those goods around the corner so they don’t count.
Note: Speak to Brokenglass. If he can learn that cloudy spell, it is very much worth knowing!
Later that evening, Brokenglass made a proposal to me. If I compensated him for the residium, he would move about the monastery with me and use his magic to repair perfectly some of the artifacts. Eagerly, I agreed and we reconstructed several choice pieces. I will need to sell several of them to recoup the money for the residium, but the White Rose will know to whom they were sold for later recovery.
In the morning, Damakos plans to enlist the aid of all the magic-wielding types to bend the primal magics of the alcoves into the interdimensional contraption in the other room to return this monastery to the real world. Should he succeed, we’ll have a long trek ahead of us from wherever it appears. On the way in, I noticed some boats outside. Maybe we’ll be near a handy river or lake to make a journey easier, and certainly such a landmark would be helpful in figuring out where in the world we are.