“Erkon, son of Ergir, of the Earthammer clan” reads the plaque above the ajar doors of the mausoleum. Stooping inside (it is a dwarf tomb after all), the party quickly realised that this tomb has already been raided. A hole has been punched down about 25ft, and down the party went, scrabbling down the sides.
It appeared that the necromantic energies may have mutated a plant or two down here because in the earthen antechamber they find themselves confronted with a stone entrance, a bust of Orcus, and a mutated underground flower that shoots constricting vines and razor-sharp petals. Uthal got an uncomfortably long hug from vines that pull him towards the nasty red pointy flower, while the rest of the party tried to cut down the vines faster than they could burst from the walls. After some determined cutting and freeing of team mates, the flower was bashed into the walls, taking all of its vines with it. For now, it seemed safe to breathe.
Walking down the dark corridor with a sunrod lighting the way, the party noticed huge necromantic runes written on the roughly-hewn floor stones. As they entered the room at the end of the hall, it became obvious that something nasty had gone on here for a long period of time. The floor was covered in a layer of bones, the entrance had another head of Orcus carved in stone, and there was a nicely-made coffin in the centre of the room. Needless the say, the party wanted to know what was in the coffin, whence Lasciel sensed strong ambient necromantic energy. A sleepy wight dwarf was found inside, whom the party suspected to be Erkon. Perhaps because they knew the soul had already departed, or perhaps because they didn’t want their healing surges drained, the party dispatched the wight and his skeleton warriors who rose around the party’s feet as they tried to reason with it.
All this time, the whistling sound has been getting louder as they ventured deeper into the complex. They know they’re getting close when they tip toe down the west corridor and they see a pale blue light coming from the end. When they entered the final chamber, they saw the source: a large oval portal into some swirling grey and light blue plane. Around the portal are a bunch of orcs in the middle of some kind of ritual involving a large slaad whom they have restrained. The party see their old druidic friend Makani in the corner, tied up in elf form, and immediately decide to act.
“Karmen?!” the orc leader, Wakkar, exclaims as Elle charges into battle with Uthal as Lasciel runs up to study and hack at the runes that are begining to flash azure.
Thanks to clandestine signalling, the druid was ready to cause havoc once Esteban decided to act. Unfortunately the orc warriors guarding her are too wily and discover him before he can act. As they shout and draw arms against Esteban, she polymorphs into a dire weasel and the orc warriors are split up into two to contain the swordmage and druid.
Meanwhile, the orc main forces on the semi-circular staircase are occupied with the defenders as they hack and slash away at the orc raiders descending on them. It is an uphill battle in more than one way, however, as the orc caster is wreaking havoc on their defences with his white, glowing eyes. Moreover, Wakkar (who as it turns out has the same lightning enhancement to his armour as Morkaan) is battering Elle with both insult and injury.
Luckily (for Lasciel, Uthal, and Elle), Wakkar was distracted by the druid’s escape and left the fray to grab her again. Separated from Esteban who is dicing up the last raider at the base of the stairs, she is caught and hauled onto his shoulders which were crackling with lightning as he roared in triumph.
As the slaad becomes more agitated than ever, tripping over Elle at one stage, the battle approaches endgame. The portal somehow switched destinations, and the high-pitched whistling wind sound suddenly stopped. Makani is thrown, kicking and yelling into the new portal. Wakkar and his caster then start to make for the portal, which is starting to make rippling pulses in the air. As Elle and Lasciel down the last-but-one raiders, the orcs get to the portal in slow-motion. Somewhere in the aether, a voice goes “not another time magic!”, but obviously it wasn’t coming from any of the party members because what do they know?
The gaps in the runes that Lasciel had hacked out were beginning to flare up with flashing arcs of white light, and the portal began to flicker. Proving to be too much for the last raider, he flees the scene as the whole party runs for the flickering portal. On her way out, pity overwhelms Lasciel as she attempts to ask the slaad how he got here, but she gets only disconnected phrases in response. A quick heal on the slaad appears to stabilise the portal, but it starts roaring and thrashing about as Lasciel departs for the shimmering oval gateway in the wall.
As they leap from the portal into the Elemental Chaos one by one, it appears that time has been playing tricks on them because they emerge in a haphazard order, with the caster isolated early by Uthal who got there the earliest by far. There is no sign of Makani – just the infinite expanse of floating earth motes, sheets of ice, rivers of lightning, air as sharp as knives, and ever-rolling thunder. Interestingly there are at least 2 other portals nearby that the party could see. The party saves the best for last and unleashes action-point-fueled mayhem on the caster who falls, surrounded by enemies.
Elle barely had time to dodge before Wakkar leapt through the portal with greataxe upraised, booming with thunder. Waves of sonic and lightning exploded in the air as the raging orc battled the entire party. Each blow against his foes seemed to rejuvenate his stamina, knocking out Elle and Esteban with hefty swings of his crackling greataxe. Then all of a sudden, with a smug air, he declared “I’ll finish this later”. Checking his hourglass, he strode to the nearest portal, but not before the party had more to say.
As he was kept down and dazed by various party members, Wakkar exchanged harsh words about paladins and bullywugs, but he was not to be trifled with. Barging past the fighter and swordmage, he leapt through the portal which now had hobgobliny shapes peering through it at the battle. Soon afterwards, the portals began to close, except for the one leading back to where they’d come from, although that was was flickering badly. Deciding to think about what just happened later, the party quickly scrambled back into it, whereupon the slaad expired, turning to yellowy dust. Patching themselves up, they return to Brinn for an early night.