After accepting the mission to head to the east coast to uncover what the orc armies were up to, the heroes stocked up on supplies. Solerion told them that they would be taking one of his ranger guides along with them to get them through the hilly plains approaching the main army stronghold. He further informed them that they would be making most of the journey on dragonback, though not completely. It was too dangerous to fly dragons over the orc-held lands, so once they approached the border, they would be left to their own means of travel.
The flight over to the coast was leisurely at first, but the peace did not last. Enemy dragons had sighted them and were closing. As expected, a large battle erupted in the sky with the heroes' dragons barely supplanting the resistance. Fain spent a lot of time unconscious, though he was sharing a dragon mount with Arie who kept him more or less safe, though not out of danger.
As the dragons alighted to the ground and let the adventurers go their way, the main dragon in the bunch gave Vanoviel a small crystal. He said it was a powerful device that had only one use, so she should be careful. If they found great evidence of what the orcs were up to, they should break the crystal and be prepared for a lot of confusion.
Being led through the area by their ranger friend, they circumvented a lot of trouble from passing patrols and small outposts. However, as they got closer to the central orcish stronghold, reputedly by the sea, the resistence became more intense and harder to avoid. The heroes knew this orcish stronghold to be the future site of the city of Brekon, though there was no city there yet. They decided it was time for Tupaia's help in the matter.
Tupaia was able to call up on O'Ma's blessing and transform the lot of them into birds to fly the rest of the journey, though they had to be careful because her spell had limits to its duration. Once they got close to the area, they decided to hunker down and take some more cautious scouting measures.
With only a little exploration, the heroes found something amazing. In the center of the stronghold, there was a gigantic glowing hemisphere of energy. It appeared as some kind of shield, however, when Kung transformed into an owl and flew into it he was able to pass right through and back again with no problem. It did not impede movement whatsoever. The only strange thing they found was that no form of detection or scrying could penetrate the bubble. But after a few moments, Kung realized that the bubble was not the main issue. It was what was inside the bubble that was the problem.
Contained within, was a gigantic crystal seething with energies crackling about. To each cardinal direction, there was an altar with all sorts of robed figures surrounding them. Surrounding the altars were summoning circles of all sorts with groups of wizards working furiously to bring in denizens from the planes. These denizens were summarily being sacrificed on the altars, along with a few war captives here and there, visibly giving up their unholy life energies to the crystal focal piece. In the meantime, orcish magic users of all kinds who were not busying themselves with the sacrifice were channeling their own magical energy into the crystal.
Kung was enthralled. He exited the dome and changed into the form of an orcish sorcerer whom they had enountered back in T'Nanshi. Then he entered back in. Clandestinely taking out the crystal the dragon had given Vanoviel, he broke it on the ground with a swift stomp, and then gingerly turned around to exit. Getting past a few individuals who seemed to know him, he managed to leave and get back to the others.
The rest of the crew decided to check it out for themselves. Gor the timid korobokuro elected to stay behind. Morphing into birds through O'Ma's magic once again, they surveyed the crystal. It looked as if the orcs were channeling energy for a great invocation spell of awesome destructive power. The heroes did not know what do to, and then they spotted the Negerai standing there. He was directing parts of the operation!
Deciding to make a distraction, the heroes changed into their true form.... all hell broke loose. At that instant, elements of the elven army began to teleport in to the sphere..... including their dragon cohorts. A fierce tangle of good and evil dragons, wizard spells, and footsoldiers enveloped the area with the heroes caught in the middle. All they could do was fight furiously to stay alive.
In the fighting, they noticed that the negerai was nearby and they attempted to get closer. As he spotted them, the fighting was getting worse because more and more elves were teleporting in with dragons, and more and more spells were flying back and forth in answer. Deciding this was too risky, the Negerai shook his head and once again reached for the pendant at his neck.... uttering a command word, he attempted to disappear, and succeeded.... but there was a price....
To the heroes' eyes, everything went white. They saw the magical emanations from the Negerai's artifact and the crystal focal point collide and explode.... The explosion was worse and more powerful than anything they could have conceived, but it did not hurt them because they were so close to the Negerai that the magical field from his artifact enveloped them and ripped them out of timespace... but not before they saw a fading after image of Solerion Rinthon's head being ripped off in the blast.....
When the white light faded, they were in a forest. By the looks of it, Tupaia determined it was a very old growth, and was in good shape. But on closer inspection, there was a problem with it. Animal carcases littered the place... they all seemed to be torn apart with tooth and claw.... possibly from each other.
This puzzled the heroes. They looked around and saw no one but themselves. The Negerai was not found.
Then they came upon a fairy in the woods. The fairy was immediately hostile and asked them to state their business. Vanoviel and Tupaia presented it with their O'Ma holy symbols, thinking it a gesture of good faith. However, upon seeing the symbols, the fairy bolted away screaming for help.
Slowly piecing it together, the heroes had a bad feeling about where they wound up in time... for they were fairly certain there was another time shift when the Negerai used his artifact.
"Truth has no form."
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