Blades of Light

Tal's Journal, Entry 79

Well, this is the stupidest thing we've done in a while...

It didn’t take us too long to get to a city… it was pretty massive, with what looked like it could have been vegetation once… it also had a lot of damage that might be akin to me having a bad day. The comet was hanging directly over a tower in the middle of a massive fortress in the center of the city, like a blue and purple flame.

Fabulous.

Upon getting closer, the city looked like it’s been through multiple rounds of combat (including siege combat), with layers of damage laid on top of each other. Some was so old it’s weathered into the wood and stone, and places with soot so fresh it could be wiped off. Some buildings were still smoking. There were some signs of repair… but not many.

There was a building that had been a shop of some sort… it appeared to have sold large panes of glass, bigger than I’ve ever seen in any building, except maybe a cathedral. it was all shattered now, of course. Ceor said the signs of destruction looked like a few armies had been going back and forth, or like a single battle had raged back and forth across it. There was a faint chiming coming from inside, and a sound like metal or stone cooling down.

We decided to investigate, because obviously nothing bad could happen. The building we elected to investigate had been a home at some point, and Reeshka said she smelled something rotting. When I looked, there were easily two dozen bodies stacked up along the back wall. Most had decayed into skeletons, but a couple had more mummified than anything else. The skeletons looked a couple hundred years old… the mummies were impossible to tell. I was able to tell that they’d been dressed in very fine clothes, there were still some tatters of silk with them.

Not entirely unexpected, but Reeshka, who has a better grasp of the whole idea, said that the corpses were practically the same… like the same two people had died and been placed in here over and over again. That’s pleasant.

Ceor checked the shop and said that the chiming noise was coming from an old, damaged brass windchime… swaying in no wind at all.

I suppose it’s to be expected.

There was a guard tower that we passed that should have never been standing… it was balanced on a third of the wall of the second floor, and the upper floors should have just toppled in. Reeshka said it was impossible… Ceor just assumed that a wizard that was not me did it. Reeshka tried her shatter spell… and some of the lower walls did break apart and shatter, but the rest of the tower didn’t budge.

Moving on.

As we made our way further into the city, we drew near a building that still had smoke coming out of it. It looked like it had been a temple of some sort, looked like it had been hit with a flaming catapult projectile.

Ceor proceeded, and stepped out onto a crossroads… and obviously didn’t like it. It was a bad feeling, apparently… Reeshka elected to investigate, and apparently she and the mule felt it too. Brimstone certainly didn’t want to move into that space… and I could understand why. It felt wrong, like the world had slid just a little to the left. It was wrong, even for the Goblin Wastes. The only way I can even begin to explain it is that the planes are broken here. Only Keshemet seemed to not feel it… which is odd.

Ceor spotted a symbol on the temple, a gate barred by two staves and a sword. Reeshka said it looked like her staff, my staff, and Ceor’s sword. The building itself seemed structurally stable, except for the corner that had been knocked in. We elected to move the mounts off the road that was bothering them, and investigate.

Besides the catapult stone, there was a mural at the back of the room that seemed to depict three figures… two humanoids and a little figure… could be us, if you squinted. The figures were standing next to a sort of swirling portal or energy vortex of some sort. I found a sort of drawer in the altar, with a statue of what appeared to be a smiling tailor. I have NO idea what deity this is meant to represent. The best Reeshka could come up with was an aspect of Rava… maybe, but it’s an odd portrayal. Reeshka found a very shiny, silver medallion on a kobold skeleton that was about to crumble to dust, that looked newly polished.

When we came back up from the crypt, we could hear a very faint whispering that sounded like a bunch of people chanting. It seemed to be a sort of chanted story, I understood part of it. It seemed to be about the Openers and Closers, though I couldn’t tell any more than that.

When we left the temple, the feeling of wrongness hit us again… funny how it didn’t bother us at all in the temple. It seemed to intensify as we moved further into town. And the destruction was worse in the center of the city… the buildings were just shells, and the road was ruined. We haven’t seen any living creatures, either… though we saw what looked like them from outside the city.

All of the buildings in the central part of town were demolished, save one watch tower that was over a hundred feet tall. There was a large building that looked like it had been probably a jail, that looked like it had exploded from within. The tower was the highest vantage point in this area; probably had been a garrison building, probably one that included casters, because the tower seemed relatively intact, and I could see some workshops inside.

We used airwalk to get to the top of the tower, and the comet was so close that we could see it visibly shift in our perspective as we went up. It was hanging directly over the keep in the center of the city. There did seem to be activity in the keep, but it was too far away to make out much. And we saw other movement in other parts of town… or at least, the suggestion of movement. The people in the keep were clear enough, but the others… well, I have some serious doubts as to whether or not they’re real.

We were discussing ways of approaching the keep, when it felt like the world turned upside down and inside out, and I just crumpled. At the same time, a wave of scarlet and black energy rolled off the central tower of the keep up to the comet. At a best guess, that was the sensation of a tiny section of the material plane sliding Outside. As I tried my best to recover, the shimmering effect from the tower faded, and black lightning started arcing off the comet, carving chunks out of the landscape. I expect that’s what’s destroyed most of the city.

This is only going to keep happening, and it’s probably going to be worse each time. Between that and the wards that will notice me as soon as I get close, we simply don’t have any more time, I think. We need to put a stop to this before they let in something they can’t put back. Reeshka had consecrated the area on top of the tower, which helped… and one of the bolts of black lightning hit the barrier, and deflected off.

They’re going to notice that now. We’re on a timer. So we elected to just go for it. We had airwalk and invisibilty, maybe that’ll give us just enough of an edge.

We got close enough to sense the wards… it seems like they’re designed to go off if something not of this world crosses them… I’m not sure how they’re not going off all the time with how wrong everything is around here… Reeshka was able to collapse one side of the wards, enlarging a small gap that we’d noticed.

We got inside the keep wall through a gap in the tower. The inside of the keep walls was carved with all sorts of blasphemous symbols, mostly depicting something like an island surrounded by fangs curving inward.

Why are these people so stupid?

They’d noticed the ward that failed, and there was a lot of commotion on the wall now. We could see black skeletal figures loping alongside humanoids, and black dog-like things. Though they didn’t seem to have realized the wards had been breached yet. The gate into the keep was ajar, and more or less unguarded.

We got inside, and there were massive stone walls, and a door that seemed to be ajar.

No turning back now.

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Kassil RiaHawk

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