With the golems defeated, the party moved into a large rectangular room which was completely given over to one of the most amazing machines they had ever seen. The heart of the device was a large, spherical clockwork mechanism that contained thousands of delicate looking metal gears, wheels, and springs, all moving with what appeared to be absolute precision. A dozen slender metal rods jutted out from the massive central sphere, each ending in an assembly of globes that appeared to move in circles, about each other and then (as a group) about the mechanism itself.
The convolutions of the machine made moving around the room a very difficult task, but Delen was impossibly curious about the workings and the knowledge it might hold. Unfortunately his eagerness for the power of the Orrery outweighed his caution. As he attempted to work his way inside the device, he misjudged the timing and was struck by one of the moving arms. He was hurled across the room and the resulting damage caused the device to start throwing random components inside the room. Elleandra, Iorsakn and Jarvix dove back into the crystal hallway, while Way-lynn, Gwyn and Delen dove the opposite direction into the next room. The device continued to break itself apart so the two groups each headed out to try and meet up in another part of the fortress.
The Bone Hall
Delen, Elleandra and Gwyn found themselves in a narrow chamber stretching nearly 150 feet in front of them. Three pairs of very slender, hourglass-shaped pillars rose from the floor of the room and stretched all the way to the ceiling some 50 feet above. The columns were built from some sort of unusual crystal and glowed so brightly that they were difficult to look at directly. The walls and floor were tiled in elegant white marble that gleamed brightly in the radiance of the six pillars.
As if all this were not wondrous enough, the room was filled with the skeletons of great animals. The largest of which was roughly five times the height of a man and looked something like a giant silt runner. The smallest was twice the height of a man and resembled a hejkin with an extra pair of arms. All told, there were some three dozen skeletons standing there.
The ever impulsive Delen used his magic on one of the skeletons to animate it, knowing that they would need more muscle if other golems were encountered. His spell was a success and the skeleton started to move under his control. A fraction of a second later, he lost control to the force of rage that had animated the dead of the city into zombies. The skeletal monster charged him and knocked him down into unconsciousness. A fight ensued with Way-lynn using every trick they had to keep the beast immobilized while Gwyn and Delen assaulted it with their spells. The beast fell into a heap of bones and they moved on.
The Southeast Tower
Back in the Jade Hall, Jarvix, Iorskan and Elleandra headed toward the east door and when they were about to open it, a flash of lightning struck the floor and two golems appeared blocking their path and attacking the party. As before, the party was able to defeat them, but not without suffering injuries themselves. Once the golems were defeated, the group passed through the doors without hindrance.
They entered a large domed chamber some 100 feet in diameter and 75 feet high. The floor and walls were tiled with hexagonal slabs of obsidian, making the entire chamber seem dark and foreboding, like an open grave. Dozens of cages, each fashioned from polished obsidian cylinders and large enough to hold a thri-kreen, hung from the ceiling on long bone chains. The lowest of these were some 30 feet over their heads, and the majority of them hung some 10 to 20 feet higher. It was difficult to see what the cages contained, but moans of suffering and agony drifted out of them, giving the entire area a heavy, macabre atmosphere.
Having had their fill of strange necromantic magics, Jarvix and the others turned away from the room and headed down the hallway eventually meeting up with Way-lynn and the others.
Old and New Friends
A wall of sparkling energy hung across the entrance to the northwest tower. Through the translucent barrier, a magnificent dome some 100 feet in diameter and 75 feet in height could be seen. The floor and walls appeared to have been cut from a single sheet of charcoal gray granite. At the center of the room, a bone tube jutted some 20 feet into the air, where it unleashed a cloud of blue-white fire that provided an unnatural illumination. The place was adorned with harsh, utilitarian furnishings fashioned mainly from bone and hardwoods. An uncomfortable bed and several other items gave the impression that that this place might be the living quarters of Nibenay himself. A great maze of shelves and cabinets fills the far half of the room, providing storage space for countless scrolls, trinkets, and macabre-looking devices.
Delen attempted to enter the room but only succeeded in burning his hand when it made contact with the barrier. He was tormented by the items in the room, but knew that it would take far more time than they had to breach the barriers, if it could be accomplished at all.
They reached the northwest tower and saw a sprawling dome some 100 feet in diameter and 75 feet in height. Comfortable furnishings and pleasant adornments gave the place a look of intimacy that belies the vast openness of the chamber. From the nature of the items in this room, it was clearly a private living area. Near the center of the room was the body of a young girl – Siemhouk. She lay crumpled on a sleeping cushion, her unmoving, willowy form was draped in a shimmering black aura.
Having some experience with the various wards around the Naggaramakam, it was not terribly difficult for Elleandra and Delen to undo the magic that kept Siemhouk asleep. When freed, she was even more strange and ethereal than when the encountered her the first time. She gave only vague one-word answers to the questions she was asked. Eventually the party learned that she knew where Kira was and they were lead to a nearby room.
The party entered a poorly lit room some 50 feet wide end three times that long. The walls and floor were polished to a rough, dull finish the color of slate and they seem to absorb all the light that fell on them. The entire place is filled with a maze of ornate wooden shelves holding en incalculable umber of clay tablets. Asleep at one of the tables, was Kira. When the magic keeping her asleep was lifted, they found that she was only slightly more coherent than Siemhouk. They learned that she had been studying for the past week but had been asleep since the strange lightning storm happened.
The Throne Room
Although her friends were concerned about her mental state, Kira did not want to discuss the matter and so the group decided to move on. Delen attempted to acquire some of the books, but Siemhouk simply said “no” and he decided to not press the issue. Siemhouk lend them to the southwest tower, where they saw yet another wonderful sight.
The floor was tiled in 6-inch hexagonal slabs of turquoise, while the walls had been polished smooth and painted a pleasant aquamarine. In the center of the room was a grand fountain seemingly fashioned from a single piece of blue-white marble. Clear, sparkling water shot high in to the air from the center, then splashed into a broad basin some 30 feet in diameter. The echoes of the cascading water were relaxing and comfortable, but they made quiet conversation impossible. Something about this place seemed to lessen the feeling of hatred and anger that had been gnawing at them ever since you entered the fortress.
Around the fountain the party rested for a bit and tended to their wounds. The fountain water was cool, clear and refreshing and did much to invigorate them after their many battles. Nothing further was learned for Kira and Siemhouk stared quietly into nothing while the party rested. Eventually, she announced it was time to see the throne room and they moved back into the Jade Hall.
As they drew near the north door of the Jade Hall, the hanging orbs grew dark. The only light in the room now came from the doors; which radiated a pulsating emerald aura. Siemhouk stepped forward, her frail body trembling. As she reached the door, the priest child stretched out a slender arm and touched the surface of the portal. Suddenly, all lights were extinguished and the area fell into absolute darkness. For a second, all was still. Then a minute trace of blue light appeared before them as the mighty doors began to open. Blinking, they looked into the strange room beyond, gasping at the sight.
The room itself was an immense rectangle, easily 200 feet wide end 150 feet deep. A great domed ceiling extended up nearly 100 feet above they floor, supported by a pair of massive arches. The inside of the dome was painted to resemble the night sky with diamonds, rubies, emeralds, and other jewels marking the positions of various stars. A step pyramid some 40 feet high was beneath the center of the dome, and a greet obsidian throne stood at its peak.
Seated in the throne was a mighty figure. If it was to stand, the creature could easily be 12 feet tall and might weigh 700 pounds. Although more or less humanoid in shape, its body was a mess of tightly packed muscles covered with the scaled skin of a black reptile. A whip-like tail curled around the base of the throne, gripping it tightly, and a slender neck lifted an almost serpentine head some 2 feet above the shoulders.
The beast did not seem to notice their presence. Its reptilian features were set in a grimace of pain and its mouth was open as if to scream. A great sphere of energy and mist hung about the creature, pulsing and throbbing with electrical discharges that filled the room with an unending cacophony of hissing static and booming thunder. A veritable storm of hatred hammered into their minds with such force that they almost believed they were under attack.
In a barely audible voice Siemhouk said: “Behold the sorcerer-king, Nibenay.”