After the ordeal against Solomon and the demons, a rest was much needed. After spreading out among the study, tending to their wounds, and preparing themselves for the continued trials before them, our heroes decided to search the study a little further. They had done this already quite extensively, but some time ago and with much less knowledge than they had now. Valorin found a couple of books worth note, but has yet to have the time to read through them properly. Perhaps they will provide useful knowledge in the future.
When they were rested up, they approached the stone dais that sat waiting in the corner of the study. As twice before, they held up the new crystal to the dais and it was pulled into one of the many jagged slots that made up the dais’s surface. Once the essence was slotted, it began to glow alongside the others and the spell Carter had prepared continued to work its magic. Whiteness again came over our heroes vision and they felt themselves transported.
They awoke in a rather small, quaint room with no doors (again). It seemed to be a study with a few notable features. A glass menagerie was in one corner, made up of several animals, beasts and creatures. As our heroes studied the room, they discovered some kind of spirit was with them. When they drew on the chalkboard, the chalk reformed to a picture of a man with a greatbow and a small girl holding up a dead fox, presumably after a hunting trip. They found several more clues that this study once belonged to a man that felt at home in the forest, loved to hunt, and loved his daughter even more. What seemed to be confusing at first, actually became clear as our heroes realized this was a puzzle. Piecing together clues (even if haphazardly), they determined that a mouse, a fox, and a drake had to be placed on the pedestal that was in the room. When this was done, a piece of the wall slide away and revealed a small girl standing in the revealed corridor.
She began to speak:
“Welcome, heroes. I sensed you coming. I know why you are here, but I’m afraid I alone can not give you what you seek. You will have to find the strongest of us. Only she will have the power, but she is troubled. Here is where we all keep our secrets, our dreams, our fears and our regrets. They must be quelled if she can be reached. Go now and may you bring us peace.”
With that, the girl turned and walked through the corridor wall, disappearing. Our heroes followed the corridor until it came to a large, expansive room. The stonework was rough and unpolished. Large stone columns reached all the way to the ceiling, nearly twenty five feet up. A few sets of tables and chairs were about the room, but it was devoid of life. On the walls were six tapestries, all featuring a female in different forms. The first, a small child, was lush with colour and strongly detailed. The others were faint and nearly translucent. They were, starting left from the door and after the child: three pre-teen girls standing in a circle, a dark, brooding teenager, an adult woman standing tall with a crown upon her head, an old woman with a walking stick and a bird on her shoulder, and the last seemed to be a spirit or magically infused being in the silhouette of a woman. At the centre of the room was a 3’x3′ square indent, about half a foot deep. Finally, at the far end, to the east, west and north were heavy stone doors.
Our heroes took a closer look at the detailed, coloured tapestry. Although they couldn’t be absolutely certain, the girl in the picture was blonde and finely featured, much like Lady Saraphine, as well as the young girl spirit that had led them through this room. Tater and Valorin were the first to point out that they must have arrived safely in Saraphine’s mental realm. Whatever this place was, it was a physical manifestation of the powerful sorceress’s mind.
They decided to head west, where they came to a living room of sorts. There was a desk, a couch, bookshelves, some dolls, books and even a sweater hanging over the desk chair. But the most interesting thing was the gilded mirror hanging on the far wall. When Tater inspected the mirror, she realized that when she looked behind her in the reflection, she could see a small pink and white painted horse atop the stack of books on the desk. When she looked back, the horse was gone. Bango hit the books onto the floor, but when looking in the mirror, the books were still stacked up. They decided to go look elsewhere, but not before Valorin took the sweater with him. Once outside the room, Valorin quickly realized the sweater was gone. They looked back in the room and it had returned to where they had first found it. Bango grabbed one of the dolls and left the room and the same thing happened. This was certainly odd, but there didn’t seem to be anything else they could do at the moment, so they continued on.
Back at the main room (now called the Annex), our heroes decided to try the north door next. Another long corridor led them to a similar room, though not quite as large as the previous one. It was filled with lush chairs and couches, darkly stained tables, pillars and even a few plain looking plants. They also noted another pair of doors at the other end of the room.
A large number of the chairs were positioned into a semi-circle facing a statue of a man that looked quite familiar. When Tater apporached the statue, she realized it was a depiction of Maximillian. When she got closer, to her surprise, the statue seemed to come to life. Though only its shoulders and head moved, it managed to turn enough to face her. And then it spoke: “Oh, hello,” he says. “I haven’t seen you here before. Have you come to serenade me?” Tater was puzzled for a moment and then shrugged and began to sing the first song she could think of. Immediately the statue’s face contorted with disgust. “What is that garbage? That’s not what I want to hear. Come again when you have something worth listening to.”
Our heroes weren’t sure what else to do with the statue, so they decided to continue inspecting the room. Valorin and Areamis found a vent in the wall far above near the ceiling, but it was much to small and covered to gain access to. So far, all of the doors they have found had been made of heavy stone, but in the northern part of this room, they found a rough, beat up wooden door. When they opened it, dust billowed out and they senses were assaulted by the pungent odour of mildew and mould. This was a bit too strange for our heroes for now and they decided to also try the last door in the room.
When Bango’s hands touched the door, the young spirit that had greeted them earlier appeared again. “I’m sorry. These… things terrified me for much of my childhood. My cousin was the only one left when one of our raiding parties was decimated by such a creature. He spent years drawing the thing over and over again, obsessed with its grotesque image. I’m so sorry…” Bango didn’t like the sound of that much and they all decided they weren’t quite ready for a fight. There were still other places they hadn’t explore yet.
Back at the annex, there was still an eastern door. When they went through it, they found a perfectly square and empty room with two more doors, one to the east and another to the south. Bango opened the southern door and it opened immediately into another room. A pungent odour wafted from the room and garbage spilled out onto Bango’s feet. When he stepped into the room, all he could see were piles of garbage; chewed up books, dismantled desks and bookcases, mouldy clothing and heaping piles of filth. He could just make out the top portion of another stone door across the room. Unsure of what else to do, Bango began to sift through the garbage, hoping to find a music box or something that stood out amongst the garbage. As he did, however, the mass of waste began to shift. Bango looked a little closer and saw two beady, red eyes looking back at him…
A mass of rats filtered from out from the waste. Rats on fire, giant rats and rats excreting pure fear. It was a nasty fight, but our heroes managed to fell the rats. When it was done, they searched through the cluttered room and found two things of interest. The first was a pair of sparkling glasses, called the Glasses of True Sight. The second was a silver scroll with a single line of text written on it. Nothing seemed to happen when it was read, but they were sure it was important.
After much debate on how to continue, they decided to shove through the room of garbage and find the buried door. They opened it to find a rather elaborate room. It had black iron bars, formed into intricate designs all across the ceiling and candles light all across it, like a Gothic chandelier. A large black, magic circle had been drawn on the floor. A girl in a small black dress stood on the other side of the room. She seemed to be another version of Saraphine, this one in her early teenage years.
“What do you want?” said the girl. “Come to stop me? Don’t bother. This is what I was meant to do, the power I was meant to wield. You’ll see.” Our heroes tried talking to her. “Why are you doing this? What is it for?” The girl grinned at this. “For power! Of course. What else is there in life besides the quest for more power?” They began to discuss a plan of action, but Saraphine didn’t like this. “What is all that whispering over there! I don’t like it!” She went over to the nearby desk and picked up a book. As she read from it, they could all feel the power swelling in the room. In a desperate attempt, Areamis threw a dagger across the room in hopes of knocking the book from her hand. He was successful, but with the wave of a single finger, the book stopped in mid air and Saraphine continued to read. Determined to succeed, Areamis ran across the room and tried to flip through the air and grab the book. As his finger touched the pages, a blast of energy shot out from it and the thief slammed against the wall.
Then, Valorin began to have a different thought. It seemed like she knew what she was doing and she also seemed quite adept at doing it. “Perhaps we could assist you?” asked Valorin, having a little experience with demons himself. And so he did, as she beckoned him to chant alongside her. Soon, Piper joined in as well and with their combined voices, the spell surged to full power. Soon, a rift opened to another dimension and a giant demon crawled forth from the depths of this unknown place. A perfect barrier kept the creature at bay. Saraphine thanked them for their assistance and offered to grant them a piece of the power that she would draw from her summon. They accepted and found themselves improved by the strange power.
Saraphine also noticed a flaw in the summoning circle. She bowed her head to Valorin and Piper. “Without your help, this spell would have failed for certain. I would be dead, if not for you both. Thank you.” With that, the spell concluded, the room lit up with magical energy and when the light faded, only an empty room remained.