Collapsed on the floor lying perfectly still, with an occasional twitch was the comatose body of the summoner Maximillion. Not knowing what to do, the group decided that pressing on in their current condition was not a wise option, and decided to stay near the pillar to sort through their thoughts, and plan a course of action.
Rest did not come easily.
Upon awaking, the remaining allies were surprised to discover that Maximillion had disappeared, but in his spot, in the exact same position lied a sleeping body of Blythe, her tattoos refusing to extinguish entirely, glowing softly of her their own accord in a soft blue fuzz, mildly pulsating in rhythm with the blue shard now imbedded in her arm.
Lying near her was a crumped up piece of paper. Inspection of the paper revealed a drawing of an elven male, prominent in stature. Blythe immediately recognized the drawing to be that of her father, but how she knew that, she couldn’t be sure, as she had never actually met him. She knew, however, without a doubt, that it was surely him. Curious, as well, that she could not recall where she had been when she disappeared; memories that would be sure to recover over time, as she became re-acclimated to the scenery that she had returned to.
Missing from the group now, were Maximillion and Alexander, lost to them were Cedric, while Hazel and Nekel had both run off on their own, taking with them three other of the seemingly magical shards.
A loud roar, seemingly that of a dragon tore through the catacombs.
Choosing to press forward, the group quietly made their way through the dwarven catacombs, coming to the door that led into the what looked like a main hall of the dwarven mines. The sight was expansive, and breathtaking. Hollowed out of the mountain was a massive enclave, with a large road ramping up into what looked like the central hub of the city.
Pyramid in nature to reflect the outer mountain shell, the city rose high into the ceiling, seeming to connect eventually to the highest peaks of the mountain. From what the group could tell miles and miles of ground lay between the road they were on and the next that ran perpendicular in the exact same grade of elevation.
The oddest part about the whole thing. It was quiet. And it was dark. Blythe lit a ball of light, and the group proceeded to head up the ramp, with Maud’dib in Panther form. Entering into the main chamber, that also acted as a central hub, were a series of pillars and an alternating pattern of staircases and lifts, each one connecting a different floor level to another passage, all intersecting into the middle of the room. It seemed to go on up, forever.
It was still quiet.
Continuing on to the middle of the room, the group heard a disturbing childlike giggle cut through the silence and darkness. Soon it was joined by another, and then another. Always just out of reach, the group proceeded to follow the laughter, eventually separating themselves, which proved to be a mistake.
The laughter suddenly stopped, and hidden sconces in the pillars suddenly burst into flame in a domino pattern, revealing a score of recognizable foes: Goblins, Orcs, and Kobolds. It became very apparent that these mines no longer belonged to the Dwarves, and that perhaps, Cleaver and his masters had succeeded to a point in bringing together the three tribes of beastmen. The laughter resumed.
The battle encompassed not only the floor level, but proceeded to escalate up the next floor up, as the monstrous humanoids stayed out of range, and picked off clean shots from above. Maud’dib, still in panther form found it easily to communicate with the cat now, and was able to determine prior many interesting features. Together they coordinated a feline attack, with the cat taking out one of the goblins, all by itself.
When all seemed lost, and the battle at a stalemate, a thunderous roar ripped through the main hall and it approached quickly. All remaining beastment fled, and the laughter turned to wimpering that quickly disappeared into the dark.
As the impending doom descended onto the group, the roar turned into a deep, grumbling voice not unlike rocks grinding together in water.
“Who dares enter into my Master’s domain,” it said. “I am Vanquesh the Vitriolic, offspring of Narse the Maleficent, destroyer of Xak Tsaroth. There is no escape. Your lives are forfeit. The mistress demands it!”
Each step brought the beast that much closer, with the group unsure how to proceed.