World Dates: 2010-07-21 to 2010-07-21
Everyone stepped back away from the slowly drifting poisonous smoke. Knowing what the elf had done at this last, Shane guessed where the pastille might be and figured an area large enough to encompass that where all fires would be extinguished. The smoke started drifting slower.
Nessa was still reeling, but she was conscious. Ser Issac was doing just a bit better than she was and so Nessa tried some healing upon him so he could be back toward the front line. Before she could do the healing though, she needed a bit of time and some energy and so pulled her athame and slid next to one of the unconscious elves as she started her ritual.
While she was going that, Sin went body by body, placing his sword through their throats and Shane picked their bodies clean of magic items finding one ring and three phials on each of them. When the looting and killing was finally finished, Shane cast some last bits of healing on both Ser Issac and Nessa and then they prepared to move out.
Ser Issac wouldn’t be in the lead this time. The honor would fall to Shane. He would hold his breath, push through the cloud and to the left and see what was there. Ser Issac would give him a two-count and then follow and Nessa and Sin would do the same.
Shane led off, swords in hand and rounded the corner. Two seconds later, Ser Issac followed him and Nessa spoke out that she heard the sounds of battle. Shane had encountered a group of elves that were keeping him in place, fighting him in the hall and keeping him in the poison. They were shooting at him with their flaming jets while he tried to strike at them with his swords. Just as Ser Issac touched his back though, the elves got in a good shot and Shane dropped both blades.
Sin ran forward as soon as Nessa informed him of what was going on, but came up on Ser Issac and could go no further. He held his breath, maneuvered around to try to see what was going on, but just couldn’t get anywhere close to the battle. Nessa followed after him, holding her breath as well, and was stuck in the poison cloud at the juncture of the “T”. She had nothing to do but prepare a fireball and hope she would need to use it soon.
Meanwhile, up at the front of the line, Shane continued fighting with the two elves. The fore elf had dropped down to a crouch and was blasting away with dual flame jets while the one just behind him did the same. The blasts went back and forth for a few seconds until Shane got a solid strike in on the one on floor, took him out of the fight and was able to press in a bit and found himself outside of the poison at last.
Ser Issac and Sin were able to press in a little bit, but neither could quite make it out of the poison just yet and let Shane have the room he needed to fight. They fidgeted as they held their breath, unable to do anything else while behind them, Nessa grew her fireball to it’s fullest size. She was feeling a little cocky and ready to throw it when the chance occurred when she felt a sudden conflagration take her from behind; the fireball she held fell to the ground even as her eyes closed and darkness overtook her.
The fireball exploded down the hallway further, scorching the armor of Sin, Ser Issac and Shane and even touching upon the fallen elf at Shane’s feet. Sin turned and looked, and noticed Nessa was down and realized they had just been ambushed from behind. It made sense that they would wait on either side of the intersection and the probably saw the tremendous amount of magic items and so could easily target them even through the poison cloud.
Sin turned and ran down the corridor and exited the poison cloud to find himself facing off against half a dozen elves with fist of fire pointed at him. He dodged and spun around as the jets of flame licked at him, some even catching upon his armor before being deflected and then he grabbed the arm of the nearest elf and twisted it around intending to use him as a shield. He yelled back for Ser Issac as the blasts came at him again.
Shane pushed himself forward in the diminishing light from Ser Issac’s shield even as the elf he was facing off against retreated. Behind him, the light wavered after he heard Sin’s call and the light all but left him. He could see it refracted in the poison cloud behind him and could see numerous points of light before him…the tale-tell sign of magic items wielded by the group of elves before him.
Ser Issac ran into the chamber with Sin, stopping short of the pitfall they suspected might be there and was shocked to see the group of elves on this side as well. He put up his shield to block off the first blast of fire and then the world started to change…
The world shifted to a realm of darkness. They were standing on a board or eight squares, alternating in color between black and white. Sin sat as the white king, Nessa was the white queen, Shane the king’s rook, Ser Issac the queen’s knight and Sable was the queen’s bishop. A number of sailors took the position of their pawns and they found themselves shy three pieces. Across from them sat two ranks of elves filling all positions. It was their turn to move.
To the left of the board, and some distance across a vacuous expanse, sat a large golden throne upon which sat a large horned, red demon. The demon looked down upon them and spoke, “Play for my pleasure.” It was Hcitib again….it had been a while since he had made his presence known.
At once Sin started plotting out moves while Shane kicked back and greeted the old magic spirit with his normal fondness and contempt. Sable was thrown by the whole situation, as were her sailors, but they listened to her and Sin and Shane were able to explain to all of them what was going on. Hcitib wanted a good game, the game was the answer to his riddle this time, and if they played well, he would be more giving while bad playing or a loss would hurt them. They had to try even though they knew not how much time was passing by.
What they did know was there were sixteen elves arrayed against them which showed the group was over matched most likely. Shane recognized one of the elves across from them and Sin thought he recognized a few more, but there were a lot they didn’t know. What they did know was that there were sixteen of them and they happened to have only enough pieces with Sable and her crew to come up short by three…that left them three against sixteen since Nessa was down.
The game started slowly with Sin being cautious with his pieces, but the elves set up their queen for a trade and he had to take it. He and Sable started debating every move even as Shane explained that Hcitib was really only in this for the game and they didn’t need to work so hard…they just needed to make it interesting for him. The demon sat in his golden chair squealing every time a piece faded from the board.
The game dragged on as they exchanged piece for piece until they came down to just a few pawns and Sable versus the elven king and his rooks. It was about that time they realized they had been so wrapped up in the game that they had missed the true boon that had been granted them. Sable and her crew were aboard the Mystral’s Tryst still and didn’t know where they had gotten off to and this game them the ability to communicate and seek her aid. It seemed so obvious as the game wound down.
The game was getting tense as one more rook fell and then the other and at last, down to nothing but the elven king, there was no game anymore. and then they were gone…
Sable found herself aboard deck on the Mystral’s Tryst, fully aware of what had happened. She surveyed her deck and found five men down; those being the five pawns that had been taken. She surmised that Shane, Nessa and Ser Issac would also be down and that would leave Sin alone with the elven king. She started around to her people and hoped Sin could handle matters by himself while she prepared to go after them at last.
Little by little she and the conscious top-deck crew were able to rouse the downed men, but it was a bit of a struggle to get them to come to. The men knew what was happening when they realized the predicament they had been left in. There wasn’t much convincing needed to get five of them to join Sable as they prepared to go ashore and make way to the wood…she just hoped she had enough in the way of direction to get there.
Sin awoke and found himself with a small chamber of downed elves and one downed knight. The light from his sword and Ser Issac’s Shield kept things known for the moment. Sin took his sword and finished off the elves one-by-one to make sure they couldn’t harass them any longer. Once that was done, he nudged Ser Issac, then pushed him harder until he came around.
The two surveyed the area and then moved through the poison cloud, snagging Nessa on the way and dragging her to the next chamber. The chamber held another nine elves that were down, but there was no sign of Shane. Sin and Ser Issac dropped off Nessa and finished the rest of the elves then started through the passages until they had made their way in a circle back to where they were and found only one way that might lead deeper.
Nessa wasn’t breathing too well, but they dared not leave just yet. Ser Issac followed as they pushed forward into another chamber where sat an elf upon a wrought iron throne. Behind him stood another elf in robes and from a further passage there emerged an elf they both recognized as the king. Apparently this king was no more king than Sin had been, but was the highest ranked individual amongst those chosen to play the game.
“Why is it you have invaded my domicile and killed my students,” the main in the iron throne questioned?
“We come looking for a man, a man we believe you took just a few short days ago, and we shall not stop until he is liberated.”
“Hah! One man! Why should I give you one man after you have taken so many of my students from me? I should drink you know and be done with you!”
This last line made Sin and Ser Issac a bit nervous. They didn’t know exactly what the line meant, but they could not fathom any pleasant experience that involved them being drank. They were at least happy this elf spoke a degree of Anglish since none of the others had and their interpreters were both down.
“You give him back to us and we’ll leave you and yours alone from here on out. There needs to be no more bloodshed.”
“Fine and well. I’m not interested in any more battles. Felewyn and Seran, fetch the man they seek!”
The two other elves looked upon him, but did not question. They simply headed down the passage the former “king” had come from and disappeared.
Sin and Ser Issac stood there, braced and ready but unsure what to do next. Sin then spoke up saying, “and fetch my man too, we won’t leave him behind.”
“No! The deal has been made and you did not bargain for your man. You will take what you bargained for mensch or I will destroy you!”
This was going downhill quickly. Sin was sure that they had truly fallen into some type of personal hell. The creature wasn’t going to negotiate anymore as far as he could tell. He couldn’t very well leave people behind and risk this again, but he didn’t feel like he could fight either. The situation as a whole seemed untenable and he didn’t know where to go, but he felt that fighting might be his only choice.
The elf on the throne was quicker than he thought though and seemed to anticipate his moves. The room was suddenly filled with fire. While it didn’t affect him or Ser Issac so much, the flames themselves and the sudden light gave them a moment’s pause with which the elf used to sprint down the hallway.
Sin activated the extra speed enchantments he’d added to his armor and sprinted after while Ser Issac came along at a slightly slower pace. It only took a couple seconds to leave the room dash down the short passage and into one last room. Ser Issac was only a second behind him.
Along the edge there sat a number of people with chains around their arms that tracked up to the ceiling and across to a central area where a line descended down to the elven master who had attached himself to it. The master also held a blade that appeared to be made of glass and wielded it one-handedly with incredible deftness. Sin waited cautiously for a moment as he scanned the room. He found Shane on the far side of the room, chained as well, and saw the other two elves still working to disengage another man from the chains. Ser Issac entered and acknowledged the man they were working on was Ferdinand Antigua.
“Come any closer and I will kill them all. Or, you may take your bargain and leave with that one.”
Sin thought about it hard. He didn’t like the notion of leaving Shane, but he needed to get the Duke out first and foremost for Tredroy. He didn’t know what the Duke was going to bring, but it was important enough that he was here and as the two weighed on him, he felt Tredroy was more important than him, or any one member of his team. He lowered his weapons and nodded his head.
The elf looked at him, searching him for a sign and then he did something and everyone around the room twitched as if in pain. “Do not forget, I will kill them all if you try anything. There is nothing you can do to stop that, so take your bargain and leave my home!”
Once he was freed, Sin motioned for Ser Issac to fetch him as the two elves backed away. The Duke was unconscious and so Ser Issac packed him up over his shoulder and started away slowly. Sin watched, keeping himself between them as Ser Issac left and then there was a problem.
“Sin, there’s poison back here!”
“Hold your breath and push though,” Sin yelled back as he back cautiously away from the elves who were forming up in the middle of the room.
“Not me! Ferdinand can’t hold his breath, his not conscious!”
“Just run him through and pray then, we don’t have time for this.”
Sin heard the step behind him as Ser Issac labored through the room and then he held his breath, turned and sprinted through. They met on the far side and quickly made their way back to the room where Nessa lay. Sin grabbed her over his shoulder and started toward the exit. By this time, the poisoned area had cleared somewhat, but they still held their breath as they passed through. There was a clatter upon the floor and Sin saw Shane’s blades there and so stopped to grab them up and place them in his pouch.
The two men carried their fallen comrades slowly out, working them slowly through the narrow opening and then they found they were in just as bad a situation as ever that they were in the Blackwood once again.