…and Find a Giant…
…who appears to be imprisoned.
When Andrea identified the Bloodgem Shard, Relvain Dragonpinner decided Nox could use it most.
“He kills the most enemies, he draws the most fire, and his defenses are weaker than ours,” she told Andrea.
But Nox was already working on the wards blocking a stairway he had found in the room he peeked into. She saw he was immediately able to destabilize the wards by exploiting the arcane energies surging around the stairs.
Relvain tried to lift the metal bars blocking their way, but only succeeded in making them harder to stand on. Andrea told her that the Dragonmark she was using to enhance her arcane powers did not seem to be able to help her exploit the energies in the manner Nox had just tried.
“But the Dragonmark does improve my arcane detection capabilities,” Andrea told her. “I can see something is pulsing inside the mirrors.”
Relvain looked around and saw four mirrors on the walls around the circular room. “I’m just a dwarven fighter,” she said. “I don’t see anything.”
She could tell Andrea had further destabilizing the iron bars blocking the stairs, but that did not stop Nox. He was able to balance on the shifting bars well enough that he got out on them and was again able to exploit the energies surging up from the stairs to weaken the wards.
So Relvain decided to try attacking the bars directly with her axe. But her glancing blow only overloaded the wards, destroying the bars and releasing a blast of force which hurt the rest of the group, but left her unharmed.
“It’s only force damage,” she told them. But Nox took further damage when he fell to the stairs below.
It took Roland the Betrayer two days of walking through winding jungle paths to reach the shantytown he had seen from the cliffs. The jungles were full of dangers and he had to fight them, but they were nothing he did not expect. “It’s a jungle, after all,” he told himself.
Andrea Ravn was hardly surprised when four Planestalker Marauders erupted — one after another — from the mirrors after the Stair Gate collapsed.
She was surprised, however, at what happened when they began putting some serious hurt on one of the Planestalkers: First, it partially phased into another plane, making it insubstantial and difficult to damage. Then, it teleported itself and her into that other plane.
She found herself in an extradimensional space 10 feet tall and 20 feet wide. She couldn’t see any of the others and she doubted they could see her.
“I guess I’m on my own,” she said, swinging her new sword — the Sword of Bahamat she planned to give to Garen — and connected solidly. Both of them reappeared back near the Stair Gate.
“When they teleport you,” she told the others, “just hit them as hard as you can.”
They finished off the one which had taken her away, then the next one phased, taking Relvain with it.
“When they phase,” she told Nox, “they are about to teleport you to another dimension.”
Then Relvain reappeared, and they killed the Marauder which had taken her.
The next time she was teleported it took two blows to force it back to their plane of existence. “If you could call this place ‘our plane’ of anything.” she thought.
Admiral Kada’ne was still fretting about the reaction to his decision to send a scout to check out the Fane of Chanir. “I know they think I’m a coward. But those fools should have reported back by now. They think that the Sovereign Gate make them invulnerable.”
Nox Rhasgar was hardly surprised when he found himself whisked away to another dimension.
“Andrea and Relvain both warned me.”
He hit the Planestalker with an Elemental Bolt.
“Not as much magic in this place,” he told himself as the arcane energies left his fingers. “But that should be enough to force it to return me do the Stair Gate.”
Sure enough. As soon as he hit it with the bolt, it took so much damage it could no longer hold them in that strange room. They returned to the exact spots they had been teleported from.
After that, it was no problem to finish it off. But it left no bodies to search. The others gave him the Bloodgem. They had figured out what it was. They told him it would improve his defenses whenever he knocked out or killed an enemy.
“Anything that improves my Reflexes,” he told them as he replaced his Amulet of Truth with the blood-red crystal. Even before he had killed anything while wearing it, he could tell it improved his ability to dodge out of the way of an attack. "I can always put the amulet back on if we need to search for hidden doors.
“Or if you want Insight for diplomatic situations,” Andrea reminded him. Andrea had one of her own and she really liked those Amulets of Truth.
Andrea checked out the other door in the Hall of Shards, but it just turned out to be another way to get to the Stair Gate.
“Just as Andrea had predicted,” he told himself.
They decided to go down the stairs.
“Wouldn’t it be funny if we just came back to this room?” the Warlord joked as they started downward. “From above?”
But that seemed unlikely to Nox since there were no stairs coming down from the ceiling. Sure, the dimensions were strange here near the Sovereign Gate, but he did not see how that could happen.
The ivory stair led them downward. Nox estimated they were about 300 feet down when they saw a white light seething in a corrosive whirlpool filling a vast chamber below.
The air was hazy above a stone platform extending from the bottom of the stairs across the seething vortex. Pillars of glowing stone rose above the maelstrom, their surfaces crawling with an ever-shifting flow of arcane runes.
The far side of the chamber was taken up with what appeared to be an oversized arcanist’s study. Tall shelves and wide tables were covered with well-worn tomes and tattered scrolls.
He was sure Andrea was going to love this place. She was always looking for more rituals, even though she couldn’t perform them all.
A violet-skinned eldritch giant glanced up in surprise at their approach, the Whitefire Mark burning at his wrist as he held up a hand in warning.
“I am Haryssus. It has been long years since any but the masters of this place breached the Stair Gate, but those who did so lived no longer than will you. I have no quarrel with
you. Flee while you can.”
Nox could tell the words were more a warning than a threat. Andrea confirmed this a few seconds later by telling him and Relvain she could detect faint traces of magickal shackles around the giant’s ankles and wrists.
“I don’t think this giant is the real threat,” Relvain told them, shaking off her race’s natural hatred of giants.
A sudden flare of yellow-white light heralded the appearance of a ghostly Githyanki. Larger than the shades they fought in the fane, this creature was wielding twin bastard swords, a white light burning in its eyes as it attacked.
“That’s the real threat.”