The End of Eternity: LoF Session LIII
A thunder rolled across the war torn plain. The juggernaut siege engine’s treads whorled, its elemental fired engine roared, and its terrifically animated arsenal flailing and jettisoning large ballista bolts ammunition at moving targets. Faharid captained the helm across the greatly barren pocked and blotched veld. The embossed weight of the animated machine leaving a heavy and strange trail from where the fight with other bit of its brethren.
The gigantic siege engine barreled across the landscape toward the distant direction of a blackened obelisk and dormant volcano. Across the badlands, the recuperated and reinvented enchanted siege engines continued to attack the juggernaut combat tank, yet each fell effortlessly to its immense fire power and overpowering destructive force.
The trouble coming aboard the massive vessel was noted and would have been similar to exiting from the craft. Instead, Ce-tan shifted the party through dimensional space and away from the sight of the enormous automaton, its munitions and arms continued to fire and flail respectively. The black spire jutted into the sky as the crag-like and jagged landscape dotted its horizon.
The Azer blacksmith… perhaps he knew more about the blackened spire, but until that clandestined meeting, the questions were left unasked and unanswered. Switchbacks, canyons, and a natural road flowed forward toward the destination. The walk onward continued. Over and upon a crest known as the Quasar Mesa, a cliff exhibited a roaring and crashing sea upon highland cliffs of breakers. Its sheer rock face and stark stiff drop demonstrated the beat and battered debris of anything that fell to the water. In the distance, another hostel stood on the way to the volcano. Beyond the hostel, about a mile up a long trail, a lengthy and delicate bridge spanned the Mesa to part of the volcano face adorned of a rosy marble and latticed filigree. The Phoenix Bridge glimmered rainbowed and multicolored hue, brilliant against the sun like a high arched walkway without rail.
At the hostel, unlike the armory and sparring terrain from the building before it, this hostel remained normally adorned with food, drink, and bedding similar to the accommodations that were when originally landed in Kakishon. Half between sleep and awake, most of the party perked up as a candle on the wall seemed like it danced, and moved, and swirled. Alerted to the peculiarity, fiery dancing creatures giggled, and danced, and flew back and forth in no real pattern while they ate newly conjured food and continued to be merry.
Subtly interested, Ce-tan rose trying to examine the fire-things. The fire spirits listened to Ce-tan as he shifts into Ifriti-form calling, “Come to me my children.” The fires winked and startled. Within a second the fire spirits scattered into the wind. The remainder of their presence, a dissipating trail of light as they headed toward the island. Scoffing, Ce-tan laid back calmly and the rest retired in earnest. Upon the dawn breaking, a breakfast feast was set upon tables as would have in all the hostels with visitors. Rested, the party set back out toward the bridge, filled and ready for the next hurdle.
The inlayed and translucent bridge spanned 3 bodies wide and seemingly fragile to the point of being unable to be walked upon, any weight-bared step would send a traveler falling through to the cragged lava-strewn earth. However, its creator bared its beauty in mind. Slightly above the intricate filigree was a slim floor of force, an effect which allowed any to walk properly without danger. Across the Phoenix Bridge, Ce-tan sat upon his levitated carpet as Faharid and Khatovar took the lead, Zahir to his side and Zhakmed to the rear. The volcano threw ash into the sky. It covered the bridge with its ashen fog and misted the air with dark snow. The wind from the ocean blasted across the archway, swirling the ash and heat. The archway continued without guardrails to offer safety, its steepest point peaking high above the chasm of lava, unnervingly arched in a way to thrill and unsettle its traversers with awe and trepidation.
Between the whorls of ash and fog, to the distance of the bridge laid a structure or creature taking up the entire width span of the bridge. Closer and closer the faint and large thing laid, taking up the width with restive action. As the party drew ever closer, its head perked up, a metallic bronze gleam shone from its surface without noticed wear from the deleterious environs. As it moved, white light bounced from and within in its eyes, and bore the marking of draconic features as it shook a patina of ash from its surfaces. From curled like a feline on wicker chair, it sat back on stout haunches and shook itself from a long and deep sleep. It presented amazing clockwork makings, its center sparking with constant of white sparking energy.
In the Ignan tongue, Farid (it called itself) stood resolutely and immoveable reporting he was no phoenix. Ce-tan introduced the party to the presumed bridge guardian. As the conversation progressed, Farid minds he knew none of our kind within the islands as its eyelids closed and reopened with an eerily living quality; Artel Norin would not like anything to do with visitors. As Ce-tan let loose the information of the escaped Jhavul and his minions upon the material realm. Farid released a horrific electric ear shattering scared burn into the skies, “YOU HAVE RELEASED HIM!?”
The ire of the constructed bronze dragon wreathed emotions abnormal for simple minded creations. To quell its anger and redirect its hate, Ce-tan smooth tongued as ever replied “NO, not us…” to which Khatovar honestly and guilelessly divulged with accepted consequence, “Yes, we have.”
Ce-tan shuddered in exasperation as the electrically powered dragon roared and charged and expelled its crackling brilliance into the sky, its snout wreathed in dynamic energy. Faharid stepped into the verbal foray with concern and resolve, “The longer Jhavul remains in the mortal realm the more harm that may come to pass.”
As if guarding from travelers, pilgrims, and petitioners alike against the mythical mastercrafting Azer; knowing the direction the conversation was heading Farid roared in irritation with electric spittle exiting its metal teeth, “ARTEL DOES NOT WISH FOR BATTLE, ONLY PEACE.” To our defense, we implored the dragon to allow passage; though some Ifrit-blooded existed not all followed Jhavul’s disposition. The hulking glittering metal scale shook and shimmied all ash and sediment from itself, somewhat stretching more the long slept limbs and breathed in the core of electric wonder within its center, arcing its back, unfurling massive metal wings, and splaying out the beautiful and deadly craftsmanship of the only being who could create such a marvel. With a hunch of its back and snap of teeth, Farid slammed back down to the rainbowed bridge kicking up ash and dust as it poised on all four limbs. Intending to test us, Farid starts stretched its wings with quizzical menace.
Exasperated from from the endless tests within Kakishon, Faharid charged the dragon without hesitation and began his sword dance, hearing smoothing sounds of metal on metal. Zahir activated his ring pushing a ray of fire toward the metal wonder, but the ray is diffused across its scaled plating and fell away like water around a stone. Wing buffeted backward with a mighty, graceful, and fluid leap the bronzed mechanical sentient breathed heavy and thick bolts of pure lightning. The spouted electricity burning Zahir and Ce-tan and Zhakmed in pure fire. Zhakmed saw the grievous wounds inflicted and remained behind to tend to the burns. With a shocking eagerness, Khatovar charged forward, inward to the made beast, closing the gap. His defenses open to attack, the dragon bit down with all its weight and clung to the shoulder of the warrior. Faharid saw the gap, the swordsman took advantageous opportunity and the gambit of his friend to divert the dragon’s attention diverted. Farid testily bit down tighter and used the length of its talon like claws to the adjacent pugilists, Faharid and Khatovar.
Speed came, and speed left the warrior inaccurate and imprecise as Khatovar barraged the guardian with a flurry of blows. One… three… six attacks. His speed unmatched, he blurred his body in wild and off-mark punches, kicks, and elbows affixed with icy and electric demeanor. Farid moved and dodged and feinted against the attacks, each missing the mark and not penetrating the heavy-weight of the monster, but it was too late. The onslaught of attacks had left the guardian in worse position, its neck exposed Faharid slashes viciously and hits between the plates and scale which interrupted the cogs and whirring and thrum of electric powered noise.
As the dragon reared its head around to regain balance, Khatovar saw his opportunity and placed a crushing punch with full and supernal force against Farid. Its jaws knocked and closed. Its head snapped backward exposing its chest and an arced electricity reactor. With another well placed blow between the plates, to the side of the reactor, a ring of finality and lightning jettisoned upward into the sky, blinding everyone; and a sound of defeat entreated on the ashen fog stirred winds. When the party could regain sight again, a trail dispersed from the bridge and into the distance an arc of lightning came back down from the darkened grey strewn sky into the volcano.
The lava poured downward from the top and sides of the volcano. As the party progressed from the bridge and down the pathway, an length and foyer entryway into the volcano proper parted as if a force was strong enough to maintain the weight and heat the earthly disaster had to bear. Followed further, created works of art lined the pathway. The creations fell ugly, twisted, and miserable without life or joy inferring the creator as a poor and hapless artisan. Some of the “works” looked degenerated and perhaps detested like they were built and smashed.
The cave mouth entered into the mountain. The road was kept and maintained, the walls glow with lava light, all was immaculate. The massive wide double doors stood, their surfaces inlaid with the runes of Nex and a Dwarven Hammer, hot to the touch even with those of elemental bloodlines to resist such heat. Ce-tan knocked. After a time of silence, Khatovar rapt thrice. After a time, Faharid did the same. The doors pulled inward and a dozen firey mephits cracked the doors and struggled to pull them open. Ce-tan japed and stepped forward, knocked with enchanted hand and pushed the doors open effortlessly. The monumental volcanic forged items crowded the large voluminous space. The floors were naturally worked stone with massive rivulets as lava channeled into chambers toward a center. Weapon racks set on their sides with mannequins are empty and yield nothing in the ways of their offensive or defensive purpose. Further inward, a chamber barren and yet impressive supposed armory, housed though empty ideas and hollow action with pieces of scrap metal sat dullfully in a corner. The mephits scampered to another large set of doors. As they tried to pull the door, they abruptly and frighteningly swung open quickly. A huge brass golem stepped into the doorway, holding the door, and oddly posturing to walk onward as expected. To the sides, doors and hallways lead perhaps to other quarters of the complex, but in front lied the forge itself. A lava flow channeled from an unknown source bled into a duct which lead to a pool of lava with a bridge on an island at its center. A six-headed hydra, dangerous yet oddly domesticated, breathed molten fire on a sculpture to which it dutifully tried to continually keep the metals hot. An Azer stood working on their next piece of “art”.
As the metal of a chisel and hammer skimmed and clanged sonorously on the worked art piece, the Azer sighed as he put down his tools, the Azir sighs. He stood annoyed of the expectations of the artwork. With a stray look from the corner of his eye and another deeper and exasperated sigh, he knew that the conversation may lead to weapons, and to a greater extent was frustrated that his work may be interrupted. A deep shame centered on his face. “Yeah, I’m Artel. Ye did a number on Farid, it’ll take 3 to 4 weeks to put him straight.” Without remorse of tact as Azer brethren can be, the pilgrimage party started into terse and blunt discussion regarding the histories of Kakishon and as Wishcraft obscured Jhavul’s existence, his dealings with the Ifrit.
Though the genie had long plagued the realm, the feigned apathy for the future and the plight of the realms from Jhavul. Artel was stoic with contemplation and reminiscence as the arms-smith and craftsman enlightened the newcomers that, under the glorious wings of Nex, tried to carve a world with logic and reason. His thoughts and somber edification fell unto the Mana Wastes and how his weapons and destruction created miles of dead and wasted lands. With only his knowledge to guide, the power to extinguish flame through explosively catalytic excision – Ebonfire, may help but would not be the best to fight the dark red-skinned genie. Ce-tan handled matters. He inquired rarer and unique elemental seeds which brought the power of the elements and their shaping the elements into the material planes, the earth seed being the last the seed of fire, to be the object of question.
Artel fire silent, his fire color beard and hair swayed in the stagnant heat driven air. His shame, and for all his sins disclosed… The seed of fire was traded to Jhavul from Artel for his life. It was seen as the genie and his armies sped forth ascending into the material realm. The memories flooded forward to everyone. Clutched in Jhavul’s violent and baleful hand leading the charge… It was as lengthy as thirteen swords. A masterly crafted, intricate and ornately honed tall brassed falchion.