Providence appeared to be with the party, for they were not happened upon during their rest. After a few hours sleep, they once again ventured forth into the fog. In the midst of their wanderings, armed humanoids appeared to be overwhelmed by assailants protecting a second mystical torch. The heroes entered the fray and defeated the decaying foes, but life had already fled from the bodies of the wounded. As the second torch was a destroyed, the black glamor was lifted from the ruins.
After catching their breath, the party began their ascent to the top of the ruins only to encounter three defenders that beckoned them to halt their approach. A brief dialog ensued where the warriors identified themselves as minions of Skarrow. As mystical flares burst in the sky, Lamentation decided the time for talk was over and charged the enemy.
Their tactics were clearly methods of delay to prevent disruption of the ritual. Three guardians stood between the heroes and their objective. A mystical sword wielder isolated Osrik from the party and engaged in hand to hand combat. The other proceeded to engage in both a battle of wits and weapons with a warlock. His riddles soon proved no match, just as his flesh provided little resistance to steel.
Osrik dispatched his foe first and quickly proceeded to combat the third and final guardian. When the warlock lay slain, the rest of the party rushed to Osrik’s aid. As Abard crossed the threshold to join combat, a magical barrier appeared that prevented additional aid. Abard and Osrik eventually purified the body of the corrupted cleric and the last of the ritual caster’s barriers crumbled.
A second, sky-born blast began to appear as the party disturbed the rune circle on the ground. As the magical script was disturbed, the radiant energies began to distort and warp. The gathered energies in the sky erupted at the ritual’s corruption. Indistinct presences were released; one rocketing to the east, the other to the south as a brief eruption of mystical energy and light filled the party’s vision. In the Aftermath, very few structures remained standing… indeed, only they and the caster remained. A lich stood before the party, its malevolent power visible. And yet, the heroes remained stalwart and rushed to engage the villain. A rapid exchange of radiant and necrotic blows occurred before unknown allies began to appear. An angelic form appeared just as Lamentation began his charge toward the vile creature. As his pick descended upon the bleached skull of the fiend, his opponent vanished leaving behind only a whispered message. “Two of them have still escaped. You will pay for your interference and your death will not be kind.”
The mysterious allies would not divulge their identities to the party, but did offer Lamentation a symbol of their thanks. A small circular disc embedded with a simple silver triangle was entrusted to his care. No other explanation was offered and the travelers departed without another word. A quick look around the ruins discovered the bodies of over forty slain adventurers presumed to be on a similar mission as the party. After providing burial rights to the slain, the weary party began their journey back to the town of Ar’Sel.
End – Chapter 01