Last we met, Fletcher and Storm had found the hallway with the niches, and spotted, at the end of the hall, a Templar archer with arrow nocked and the Green Sorceress – or rather, a half-dozen green sorceresses, clustered together in a Mirror Image. But behind them, on a dais, hung a red banner.
Everyone suspected a ruse, but even the possibility that, after so long, they might finally have a chance at the Sword of Valor, they had to take it. Flashheart moved into the room and towards the sorceress, knowing she would be the tougher foe. Gato joined him and Storm pressed the attack against the sorceress.
Bardos joined Gato and Flashheart, and Illendar Enlarged Fletcher, who went around the Sorceress’ Wall of Force to take out the Templar.
“Deskari, aid me!” said the sorceress. Nothing happened at first, but the statue that stood in the niche where Flashheart, Gato and Bardos stood – a 12-foot high image of Deskari, the Lord of the Locust Host– began to shed it’s stony carapace.
From the interior of the statue came an immense locust-demon, who closed on Flashheart with a series of hungry clicks and hisses. Flashheart struck at it with abandon, swinging Radiance in deadly arcs. But the sorceress called upon the power of Deskari again… and the walls began to emit similar creatures – behind Farina, behind Gato (now near Fletcher), and two more from the southern end of the hall.
Fletcher made short work of the last Templar, and Storm got around the forcewall and continued bringing heat onto the sorceress, although with less luck than before. It was a Fletcher critical, piercing the sorceress’ veil, that delivered double damage and threw her into the wall.
But a more interesting development than the chastening of the sorceress was afoot: after striking the locust demon, Flashheart saw it disappear. Everyone else could still see it, bearing down on the Iomedean. “It’s an illusion!” yelled Flashheart… but the other creatures, bearing down on their individual targets, looked quite real and very dangerous. Bardos’s summoned celestial ant took damage from one, but Illendar was able to use Magic Missiles to dispel the illusory demons.
The illusions had more power than simple figments, as they proved to everyone quite suddenly: Gato, who had sought the protection of Fletcher from the creatures, found himself face to face with one, who attacked him and, in a single stroke, sent him to the stone floor. Gato screamed once, then fell unconscious. Many thought he was dead, so still on the ground did he lay.
Bardos was struck with a thought: although Flashheart had cautioned the red banner, patterned with a lion, was likely not the Sword of Valor, perhaps it was connected to the illusionary Deskari-spawn that bedeviled the party He sent a globule of acid at it, to help destroy it. Combined with Fletcher’s greatsword strikes and storms tearing claws, they destroyed it. And Bardos turned out to be correct – as the flag was destroyed, it slowly effervesced into vapor, and the demonic creatures followed suit, sliding into nothingness.
The party searched the bodies of the dead, coming up with several magical treasures – weapons are armor of typical fashion and enchantment from the Templar, rings and scrolls from the sorceress. Good loot! But something was wrong with Gato…
“Stay back! Why am I here? What are you doing here? Leave me alone!” yelled Gato.
“What do you remember?” asked Illendar.
“Dash and I were guarding the town…”
“Do you remember the caravan, when you were captured …”
“What? I don’t remember any caravan!” Gato said as he drew his dagger, waving it around menacingly. Neither Detect Magic nor Detect Evil turned up anything out of the ordinary, perplexing the party.
“Do you remember your name?” asked Bardos.
“Of course I remember my name! It’s Lini Zarzuket!”
The party debated resting – they were significantly depleted in both spells and heals, and so they repaired to the tool room, setting barriers and watches to protect themselves from intruders, and rested until the next morning.
Gato awoke and seemed better. “What are you talking about?” he asked. “The last thing I remember is facing the demon.” His face was etched with confusion, and uncertainty.
Rova 21 dawned in darkness, deep in the earth of the northeastern Worldwound. The Citadel was taking it’s toll. And the Sword of Valor was, as yet, not in their hands.
The party moved out – carefully, with skill – down the hallways to the south. They’d searched the hall and found nothing in the way of secret doors, so they proceeded down the path that Bardos had seen earlier the previous day, letting (now, seemingly recovered) Gato stealth forward to see what could be seen before all stumbled across whatever threats laid in the path. The doors opened relatively easily, showing a large circular cistern, dominated by an immense bust of a multi-armed creature, each arm bearing a large exotic weapon. Farina sent Otto ahead, to keep an eye on and guard Gato as he explored the circular room. But for some reason, Otto’s presence put a scare into Gato that the environment failed to, and he backed up against the upper tier.