The Shadow Circle

Galens Keep

On the other side of the two heavy gate portals that was meant to keep the old dwarven keep secure, the group waited in the shadows and out of normal sight for the patrol of Zentharim soldiers to clear out.

The soldiers continued further into a large tunnel that seemed to serve as a huge long central hallway in the entire keep. They put up their horses nearby, it was apparrent that this was not meant to house animals.

Immidiate dangers gone, the group began locating each other, some invisible and some hidden very well in the shadows. Once together again they went about figuring out where Sarah’s mentor Garr Twinblade could be. They soon found the usual hired orcs quarters and dispatched of them without much hazzle and alarm. Even some of the more experienced Orcs suffered death at the hands of the shadow circle.

Daxx snuck down past the mess hall, and into the kitchen and servants quarters, getting an idea of the layout. As he passed by the mess hall he overheard the soldiers chatting.

“That guy from high wood sure can take alot, I wouldnt like to be the subject of Halrim and Galens interrogations.” another responded “yeah, I think he’s one of them ranger folks”. Another one chimed in just then “Maybe Halrim is gonna feed him to his lady” with a slight humour in his voice someone responded “Maybe they want some information from him about high wood, maybe Galen wants us to attack high wood?”.

As Daxx was sneaking back through the main tunnel leading into the mess hall he was passed by five soldiers chatting about the dwarven monk “He didnt look too happy that monk when he returned, and neither did Zortan when he was finished debriefing him!”. “yeah I sure wouldnt wanna be at the other end of eithers bad mood. Maybe Bane found himself another favorite now” the youngest of them all mused aloud “I wonder if this means those Black Galens is taking over Juewe’s mission?” they all shrugged and wandered into the mess hall.

When Daxx returned to the group Ronald suggested that he go back with Daxx and cast a charm spell on one of the servants to find out where Garr was being held captive. They surprised an elderly man and chatted with him about the place and the prisoner, the man was puzzled as to who they were and why they were there, but he trusted them none the less and told them that he most likely was held further into the keep near the tunnel leading into the mines.

As they snuck back, five soldiers were also leaving the mess hall, Ronald encouraged Daxx to try and see if he could find anything of interest in their pockets. Which they didnt really, but luck wasn’t with Daxx as one of them noticed him in the corner of his eye and yelled in alarm. Ronald quickly covered the area in darkness and in a half a minute all five soldiers lay dead on the ground. But they now had bigger problems, it sounded like those in the mess hall had heard the yelp of alarm and was coming towards them in a few heartbeats.

Their companions had heard them and was rushing towards them in the cover of shadows, Seranylla kept back towards the entrance of the tunnel Daxx and Ronald had fought in, keeping an eye on the grand hall in the center of the keep. There she saw two figures coming towards the tunnel, a man and a woman clad in full plates, shields and wielding maces. In just a few minutes Sera had covered them in silence, charged them and chased the female out of the silence to end her life with a perfect thrust in her heart. That was when she felt magic surround her being and being defeated by her race’s natural resistance to magic, the man had tried to blind her with magic. Seranylla silently thanked her mother Elistrae and rushed to finish him off.

Sarah had snuck back into the grand hall and saw Sera just as she cut down the fullplated cleric, together they quickly pulled the two into the shadows of the tunnel leading down to the mess hall, hoping none had seen them from the opposite side of the hall where the keeps antechamber to Bane’s temple were situated.

Before they had completely finished their hiding of dead clerics, Ronald and Daxx finished off the oncoming rush of soldiers from the mess hall, Daxx tucked away his fireball wand and Ronald seemed quite pale as he finished his sonic ball. Ronald had to stand against the wall, his use of the ancient forbidden blood magic had taken its toll.

Together again the group debated what to do now, and what the elderly servant had told them, while some of them began rummaging thro the burnt corpses looking for loot. Daxx had snuck off towards the temple’s antechamber where he overheard a higher ranking officer talking loudly wanting to know what the rucuss was about and making it very clear that he wanted a report of what the two clerics found out. As he left the stairs with his two guards, Daxx snuck his hand towards his belt pouch. But the lieutenant saw him and snatched his hand, looked at him in utter disbelief “what the … !” Daxx turned his face into utter surprise and fear and pointed terrified behind the lieutenant “look out!”.

Even tho he knew it was a trick, reflexes got the better of the lieutenant and when turned his head back to look at Daxx, Daxx had snuck off into the shadows once again. Knowing this was a bad turn of events he tried to reach his friends as fast as possible. He managed to get back to them and explain that he might have sort of blown their cover alittle bit. This turned into a slight debate on how to proceed. They didnt notice how much time passed by while they tried to figure out their next steps, suddenly they found themselves talking without making and sounds and in the next heartbeat darkness engulfed them. They had seen nobody but only heard a faint chanting in the distance. They were under attack !

They instinctively rushed from the darkness and into shadows or out of sight behind the stone walls of the keep. Time passed, none came forth from the darkness, a scary thought dawned on them all, the Zentharim were gathering on the other side preparing for them to come out to them. Daxx crept along the wall into the darkness doing his best to hide in the natural shadows but came to an abrupt stop as he came upon a stone wall crossing the width of the tunnel. They had been sealed in!

They spent a few minutes checking the area they had been sealed into, it was closed off by servant quarters, kitchen and the privies. They gathered around and decided to let Sircha punch a hole in the conjured stone wall and have Seranylla rush out followed by Sircha, Daxx and Sarah, Ronald holding the rear. But surprise hit them as Seranylla and Sircha lost all pull of the gravity and turned upside down being pulled towards the ceiling. Sircha quickly grapped ahold of the conjured stone wall and just hung there up along it with her head down. Seranylla clung to a small crack in the floor, but then decided against it and let go and up up up she went until she hit a gooey mess on the ceiling, her natural agility kept her out of it tho.

Seranylla quickly alerted everyone else as she ran across the ceiling heading out of the darkness, luckily the silence had dissapated awhile ago. Dax cast a enchantment on himself giving him clingy hands and feet like a spider and began crawling across the floor also heading out of the darkness.

Sarah strung her bow and shoot several arrows out into the darkness to scare off any would be awaiting ambushers out there. Ronald waited, the darkness completely threw him off and the goo on the ceiling did not sit well with him at all. Seranylla was fast, she quickly came out of the darkness and reversed gravity and saw three rows of five soldiers behind a shield wall waiting for them, as soon as she came into view silence suddenly erupted around her. Cursing her luck she made a quick decision, she ran as fast as she could towards the soldiers and at the last second made a long leap tuck and roll above them landing perfectly behind them all forcing the last row with crossbows to draw weapons, thinking she would force her silence on any invisible spellcasters here and drawing the crossbow fire away from her newfound friends.

Daxx crept out of the darkness to see Seranylla jump behind the soldiers and start fighting, he pulled out his wand of fireballs, knowing full well the advantages Zentharim trained soldiers benefitted from a shield wall. Sircha did not feel comfortable at all hanging along the wall surface and had doubts about how to proceed. Sarah let a few more arrows into the dark while Ronald found himself doumbfounded by something so simple as darkness, what was he supposed to do, if he went out there he would be stuck in darkness and goo on the ceiling unable to help his friends, yet if he stayed he could not help out either.

Seranylla discovered first hand how well trained the Zentharim soldiers were, all five in the back turned and pulled forth their short swords and took stabs at her. She only managed to deflect a few stabs, many hit home and thoughts of fleeing surfaced very fast, she would not survive long here. Fire erupted around the soldiers as Daxx pointed his wand and uttered the command word for fire. Sircha finally thought to hell with it and let go and as she stuck to the ceiling she surprised herself by escaping the goo with a nimble roll and began making her way out of the darkness too. Daxx kept the fireballs raining down on the soldiers but he noticed that he didnt see much fighting in the background anymore and suspected the worst.

Seranylla thought to herself that she should have listened to her gut and she should had run off saving herself, just as one of the short stabbing swords effortlessly slid into her heart and stopped her dead in her tracks. As she fell down, she noticed out the corner of her eye a female shadow at the entrance of the tunnel, with bright green eyes and the shadow of tail behind her, then she closed her eyes.

Sircha hit the ground running from the darkened ceiling and tore into the shield wall with her raw dwarven power. Daxx still kept raining fire on the soldiers, trying carefully to avoid Sircha and tossed his onyx dog figurine into the midst of the soldiers and yelled the command word as it flew thro the air and in the bat of an eye the soldiers had a huge black furious war dog clawing and biting at them. Ronald had scorched an area of the goo in the ceiling with some alchymist fire and when he finally made his way out of the darkness, people in the tunnel witnessed a spark of the amazing power firewielding wizards possses as the ground itself under the soldiers began erupting in geizers of fire throwing them in all directions trying to avoid it and left only 4 of them standing whom very quickly got dispatched by the dwarven warrioress as the shield wall was disrupted.

Picking up Sera the survivors crept into the shadows in the grand hallway, sneaking deeper into the keep. They could not give up now, if they left now it might all have been in vain.

As they came further into the keeps shadows, they saw in a huge chamber one of the amazing Zentharim portals which is connected to the main Zentharim headquarters and could supply troops and materials once a week. By the portal stood an elf, clearly male, with white hair braided in 10 thin braids falling gently down his black robe with a golden Zentharim emblem on it’s back. By his side stood a slender female, just half a head lower, with snow white hair braided in 10 braids as well. However each braid ended in a thick silver ring with small symbols carved into them, her skin was ebony black. She wore tight red leather pants and a thin golden chain serving as a symbolic belt ending in long ends at her front. She turned half around casting a glance down the hall as if her bright green eyes saw something.

“I have no patience for these petty ambitions of Galen, I need to research that rod! I might have stumbled upon maybe the greatest weapon ever in our fight with those crazed Cyric vermin.” Halrim the hawk summons one of the nearby servants and tells him to fetch some holy water from the temple for his study. The young man quickly runs towards the temple.

The group creeps across the big hall and hides in the shadows moving towards the old ancient mines, when they spot the Zentharim General Galen at the other side of the huge cavern. He walks with his closest guard and talks with the dwarven bald headed monk about some purple dragon spawn in Everlund.

They ventured abit into the mines but turned back towards a door they had passed, silently moved up the nearby stairs and began searching the hallway they came into. Behind one of the wooden doors, they finally found the chained Garr Twinblades, but also another prisoner a dwarf who had no recollection of how he can come to be there.

Ronald searched the halls other end, that went on and turned around a corner. He saw the servant Halrim had summoned step out of a door in the hallway. He convinced the group to search the rest of the hallway, for the stone that Raargh had died for had begun to feel warm he was convinced the rod Halrim had talked about was what Ronald was searching for himself.

They encountered a few traps on the doors, a frost circle of binding and a nasty acid ball spell splashing into the hall. But they found the rod Halrim had been talking about and his notebook. Ronald was uneasy, he had noticed magical symbols of an alarm spells on the top corner on the door. They rushed out of the room, the male dwarf they had found severely singed by an exploding glyph on Halrims floor when he picked up a few weapons in the room.

They rushed out into the shadows in the portal cavern, where they saw Halrim appear thro a magical dimension doorway with narrow piercing eyes as if he was trying to peer thro the fabric of reality itself. He began chanting a very powerful spells of air magic, and turned the beginning of the grand hall into a swirling vortex of vacuum while he watched intently around the room. He began floating up in the air until he stood on top of the big portals stone frame, further down the grand hall his lady exited a door and nodded his way and began walking toward the gates while suddenly in midstride transforming into a huge black dragon that took to the sky as she came out of the gate.

The shadow circle knew this mage, this skymage. He had led them on several occasions, giving them missions and debriefing them. He knew without a doubt who they were if he saw their faces and if he found out, they would be in trouble every day until they confronted him and his followers. They crept slowly along the walls shadows, by the time they reached the hall’s entrance in the cavern the vacuum had dissapated. They were relieved to see that he still had not noticed them in the shadows, they silently thanked each their gods that he did not know it was them, because then he would know to look in the shadows.

When they came further into the hall, just across the mess hall tunnel Daxx rememebered he had forgotten his onyx dog figurine. They all saw Halrim come flying down the grand hall, slowly he swept forth until he was midway he began chanting again and down by the second gate a huge gas cloud suddenly began forming, Ronalds nerves began jittering alittle, he knew what that was he had recognized it from his studies. That was one of the nastiest clouds you could conjure, a killing cloud that moved.

Daxx crept across the hall, very slowly and silently praying that Halrim wouldnt look down and spot him, but when he came into the mess hall tunnel he saw that all the soldiers corpses and gear had been cleared, so had his figurine. He glanced back at the grand hall, bit his lower lip as he cast a simple illusion on himself making him appear as the elder servant they had interrogated with a charm spell and began running into the hall as if wounded screaming that the intruders were down by the mess hall hoping Halrim would buy it and rush down there.

Halrim looked down at the servant, his brows furrowed and suspicious. He wondered, had the intruders cast a spell on this servant to throw him off guard in the wrong direction while they fled out the front door? He could not risk it, the rod was too important, he flicked through his memorized spells and cast the strongest disruptive magic he knew at the servant removing any enchantments on the elder man, unless these intruders were very powerful he would get the truth of this matter. He looked in disbelief as the hair and skin of the elder man changed into a more virile younger look, he could not get a proper glimpse of the face, but something looked familiar to him he just couldnt place it, but this must be one of the intruders for sure.

Daxx acted quicker than the eye and pulled forth his eversmoking bottle and unstopped it, immediately covering a huge area of the hall where he lay with smoke and ran as fast as he ever could towards the gates.

Halrim snarled, they were still inside!! They could not be allowed to escape with the rod, he reached into his memory for one of his more powerful prepared spells. It was a simple fireball, but with a twist, he had maximized the damage of it and turned it into a ball of pure lightning and cast it just infront of the killing cloud where he had noticed a slight move of a shadow.

The imprisoned dwarf was blasted well into the entrance hall and there he laid, unmoving a hairs breath from death. Ronald sat against the wall, his head lolled very unhealthy downward and his arms slung limpy down his sides. Sarah supported Garr as they ran all they could for the front gate, Sircha popped her small legs with Seranylla and ronald on her shoulders half dragging half carrying them into the fresh air. Daxx quickly grapped the unmoving new dwarf and did his best to pull him out of the gate. As they came out Sarah called out for her wolverine and Bird as she began searching for some place to hide, for above them in the sky they could hear heavy wings beating and rushing air about.

They ran for their lives, for their lost comrades, for the dying ones through narrow winding paths and rocks on the mountain and pure luck was with them yet again as they came upon a crack in the mountain. Sarah led the way into the darkness, and the rest rushed after her, just in time, just as a huge shadow and the rush of beating wings went past above them.

Here they huddled in the dark, waiting, holding their breath…..

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Bahne Bahne

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