…From a Hazard Both Friendly and Unfriendly
As she watched Nox attack the Astral Giants in the Shard Room, Andrea noticed the room itself seemed to be a hazard.
The floor and ceiling, composed of huge crystal shards, each had pure planar energy surges within their shards, which focused and honed it like lenses into twin pulsing spheres of white light at the bottom and top of the chamber.
When Nox used an arcane power — in this case his Elemental Bolt with an Elemental Escalation — these Astral Nexuses aided his efforts, but the backlash from that aid could hurt him as well.
Then the Astral Nexus in the ceiling began shooting balls of pure astral essence at the Sorceror.
Using her Dragonmark for focus her Perception on things arcane in nature, she saw that she or Nox could calm the local arcane energies. If successful, the area around them would be outside the hazardous region for a short time.
Andrea could tell that if Nox tried to calm the local energies he would not be able to focus on subduing the Astral Giants.
“So I will just spend as much of my concentration on using my Dragonmark to calm astral energies as it takes,” she told the others. “As long as Nox stays close to me, he should be safe.”
The Dreamer found herself back in the dream: the one where Obanar sent her to investigate the camp of the Hill Giants besieging the City of Argent. Only it was more of a cave than an encampment. “Makes sense,” she thought to herself. “Hill giants would find the nearest cave and set up camp there.” Still it seemed a bit more well-appointed than a makeshift bivouac in an empty cave. “Must’ve been planning this for a long time.” Once again, she found herself in a room with a bunch of giants. She noticed a Fire Elemental dancing in the flames of the hearth. Dashing from the Common Room, she found herself in the quarters of the Hill Giant Shaman. She tried to sneak through, but failed. Captured by the giants, she almost forgot who she was under their torture. Then she woke and remembered: She was Relvain Blackaxe the Dragonpinner
Relvain awoke to find the fane bustling with activity.
Troops were being brought in through the Portal, which Bejam was now calling “The World Gate.” Defenses were being set up: around the Gate … and outside as well, according to a Freerider she recognized. Sections of the fane had been walled off and mages she recognized from Nefelus were poring over the books Andrea had found in the libraries here.
One of them recognized her and waved.
“I did save their city from Chillreaver,” she thought as they went back to their books.
Bejam told her about the World Gate and the dangers it posed. When he told her the rest of The Order of the Black Feather had gone ahead to scout some mysterious location to which the Gate connected, she volunteered to go and help them.
“But first you will have to be given a Whitefire Mark,” the Deva Wizard told her. “Only Githyanki and their most trusted servants can pass through the World Gate. The Whitefire Marks are how they identify those servants.”
She knew enough about Githyanki to know that Bejam really meant “slaves” when he said “servants.” Just being polite.
A group of Wizards working on the bodies of the two Fomorian Painbringers were able to help Bejam transfer a Whitefire Mark to Relvain’s forearm.
“You can cover it with your armor,” he told her. “But it will feed upon your own life force to power its effects.”
Thus empowered, she was able to step through the World Gate — with the help of some of the ritual casters studying it — to find herself in a strange room crackling with arcane energies.
“Which makes sense,” she told herself. “Bejam said they were siphoning vast amounts of power from the Material Plane to this location.”
That was why the Order had been sent to clear the place.
She found Nox and Andrea in a lounge area. They were trying to bottle the magic-infused waters of a pool there. They only got two of their bottles filled before the arcane energies of the pool were depleted.
“We’ll have to wait 24 hours for the pool to be back to full strength,” Andrea told her. "We don’t have time for that. We can expect more Githyanki to come through here before it replenishes itself.
Andrea gave her one of the vials. “Drink this to turn a short rest into a more thorough sleep.” The other vial went to Nox.
They told her about another room — accessible from both sides — where two Astral Giants were meditating on what appeared to be Ritual Books. Relvain could tell Andrea could not wait to study the books herself.
They decided to try Diplomacy on the giants. The giants weren’t having any. They started blasting as soon as she opened her mouth.
When Nox returned fire, the Astral Nexus above them blasted him as well. When he was hit, Relvain found herself caught in the secondary burst which centered on Nox.
She was dazed by the blast. She decided to concentrate on defending herself while she tried to shake that off.
Which took her longer than she expected.
“Why are there no reports from the Sovereign Gate?” Admiral Kada’ne shouted. “Send someone to check on them.”
Nox Rhasgar saw that Relvain was having difficulty shaking off the effects of the white burst of astral energies. So he concentrated on shooting Energy Bolts at the Astral Giants. They separated, each heading towards a different door at each end of the platform bridging the room.
Eventually Relvain emerged from her daze to leap across to that bridge and engage the giants directly. By then Nox had knocked one of them out and was concentrating on the one which remained.
The one which Relvain was now forcing to concentrate on her.
Made taking it down that much easier. “Quick fight,” he thought to himself.
After the fight, they searched the bodies and found a Bloodgem Shard and 480 platinum pieces.
But Nox was already ready for the next fight. Peeking through the doors at one end of the bridge, he found another strange room: a round chamber of pale gray stone.
The air inside flared with swirling currents of white light — four circular mirrors were set along the walls, their surfaces rippling like quicksilver. In the center of the chamber, the stone floor was replaced by an uneven grid of black steel bars.
A stone plinth stands at the center of the barred floor, its sides set with glowing keyholes. Beneath the bars, steep ivory stairs could be seen twisting down into a haze of white light.
Using his Arcane powers, Nox was able to determine the ambient astral energy on the other side of the door was harmless. A stronger pulse of arcane power was surging, however, in the four mirrors.
Something was lurking within their silvered surfaces, waiting to be called forth.