Nestled innocuously in the corner of the trader’s enclave, the stone doors to the Aureon temple stood shut to the bustle that surged on the streets. Once it had served as a bank, but the son of Kundarak relocated his holding to Micham square. Crowded in by poultry wholesalers and tanning warehouses, it now squatted amongst a profusion of chaos that assaulted the senses.
Beside him haggled an old lady, the wool trader pursing his lips now and then as the bargain spun out of his control. Behind him stank the poultry wholesaler, a warehouse exploding with frantic squawks and shrieks. And amidst it all, Tarren heard the unhurried clop of a horse-drawn carriage. The carriage slowed to a stop before the temple doors, allowing two figures to alight. In the half light of the gloomy day, he caught a glimpse of a richly embroidered dress beneath the grey coat. The taller of the two gave some instructions to the driver, and then turned to his companion. Together, as though escorting the smaller figure, the couple climbed the steps towards the stone doors. The carriage sluggishly swung round. As it passed the wool trader’s shop, it paused briefly. Then, with a nod from the driver, the carriage continued the way. Tarren had by then, faded into the crowd.
“That night, both were found dead in their rooms. One poisoned, the other hung. Medani agents announced that they were unrelated cases of suicide.”
The man paused and retrieved two brown folders from his desk.
“While they were not our best, agent Tarren and agent Carrick were still Brelish Dark Lanterns. Neither have been known to slip up, and having both silenced forces our hand,” the emissary continued. “We know that those Cyrian scums hold a King’s Sword in captive and that the agents were trying to free the man. The last reports we had were of a temple of Aureon in Metrol, one that by all means, have fallen into disuse and now belongs to a Cyrian noble. We have assembled you here because we have faith in your abilities. The Crown tasks you all with the rescue of the King’s Sword within Metrol.”
“And what if that proves difficult?” The cindersoul genasi asked. “From what you’ve said, it seems to me that we’ll be breaking into a fortified building.”
“Indeed,” the emissary closed his eyes. “The building is of dwarven make, boosting Kundarak senses. It would be difficult to infiltrate and near impossible to break in. While we still would want the information held by our King’s Sword, I fear it might be too late.” The man stood and and waved at a shimmering dragonshard propped on his desk. The air began to hum and a sheen of arcane images flowed out before the party.
“Your deeds are known to us and we believe that you will be able to complete the mission.” the emissary said quietly. With a gesture he brought forth a plan for a building. With another flick of the wrist, the image was replaced by detailed mission plans and infiltration notes. “On the day that you are to enter the old temple of Aureon, we have planned several simultaneous attacks on a number of Cyrian holdings in Metrol.”
The emissary nodded. “I assure you that we don’t target the dragonmarked House without cause. We have evidence that Dannel and her lackeys have contracted House Cannith to bring forth a new weapon of war. We know that she is quite near completion of her project, and that she is confident that its invention would certainly turn the tide of war. This operation has been in the planning for some time.”
“That temple,” the scholar frowned, “is no temple is it.”
“Indeed no. House Cannith has taken it and converted the lower vaults into an experimental creation forge.”
“And you suspect that this might be the one that the Queen was building?” Jett said, shifting in his seat.
“Perhaps. Everything is but conjectures now. You will know more than I when you get within the temple’s walls. And that,” he gave a small smile, “has been arranged.”
20 Ollarune, 994 YK
The riots started late in the afternoon. What started off as a playful protest by students of the Jorés Academia quickly devolved into an angry mob marching through Torentia precinct. As the unrest infected the rest of the ward, a group broke from the main contingent to go down Yantem’s Way. They barely paused before the disused temple before they entered. Beyond, rows of bookshelves lined the central aisle. Rays of light filtered through the stained skylights, illuminating the great symbol of Aureon in the center of the temple. As if they crossed a threshold, the air suddenly grew dense and scintillated with sorcery. It reeked of burnt copper and ozone, and deeper within the bellows the building, came the whispering hum of machines
“What the heck is a War Devil doing here?” Cried the priest of Aureon. “What in Aureon’s..!”
“Watch out! Here they come!” The cindersoul genasi growled as the two sphinx constructs shuddered to life. Their impassive steel masks belied their bloodlust as one of them immediately pounced towards him. Deftly, he sidestepped the attack, dismay creasing his face for a moment as he noticed tendrils of electricity crackling across its plated surface.
“I’ll see if I can turn that thing off,” said a calm voice behind him. With only a slight stir in the air, the eladrin blinked behind the war devil, opened a gash on its arm, appeared behind the lightning sphinx to slash at the cables beneath the plates, and then blinking beside the frost sphinx to do the same. The lithe fighter than disappeared, appearing on the platform overhead and proceeded to investigate the control panel. The lightning reactor housed in the centre of the room continued to cackle and whir, bathing the entire chamber and it’s occupants in an electric blue light.
“I guess we’ll have to turn these off ourselves then,” the cindersoul genasi gave a wolfish grin. An orange glow pulsated in his palm and he flung it towards the devil and the sphinxes. Where the liquid fire splattered on the ground, erupted a raging wall of fire.
“We burnt the acolyte,” the windsoul genasi floated nearer to the group, her melodious voice ringing in tensed air. “Even though I thought we were meant to question him.”
“I incinerated him.” Jett growled with a measure of pride. “He’s just an acolyte. Besides, we’re bound to find more Cannites here.”
“Disturbing, simply disturbing. House Cannith working with devils? Disturbing. Aramil, what of the panels?”
“Nothing special that I could discern,” said the eladrin fighter as he inspected the reactor’s housing and the ropes of cables snaking all around it. “Typical Cannite manufacture. I think.” The reactor now laid silent , a two of its glass cathodes broken after the accident that created a temporal rift.
“Coming.” Whispered a soft voice. The elven ranger fell back to behind the group, her arrow nocked and drawn.
“I’ll just hide here,” Janna said as she floated leisurely into the store room, each word lingering like a breeze.
Before long, two humanoids materialized in the chamber, one beside the base housing of the reactor, the other up on the control platform. As far as Sindar could tell, both wore what could be laboratory coats, with the back cut out for a pair of bat like wings. The cambions did not take notice of the intruders at once, but when they did, the party was well into beating them back to the Nine Hells.
“Isn’t this supposed to be a House of Aureon?” Sindar grimaced. He sighed, then focusing on one of the cambion, he channeled his divine powers into a mighty curse.
Jett chanced a glance back at Sindar. “What’s that I heard about his mom and a toad?”
Aramil blinked beside the half devil. “It’s called creativity.” The graceful feint forced the cambion to block on a bad foot; the eladrin’s sword flashed, scoring a deep gash across the cambion’s chest. Almost immediately, two arrows speared through the air, thudding heavily into the beleaguered cambion. With a gurgling groan, the half devil crumbled to his knees, dark blood foaming at his mouth.
“And that’s brutality.” Jett smiled, delivering the final blow.
“And what in the Nine Hell’s is a Pit Fiend doing here!” Sindar screamed as he clumsily dodged the devil’s attacks.
“Ask him,” Janna chimed breathlessly. Outside of Jett’s sphere of influence, red flames pulsated from the large devil in waves, immolating furniture and arcane apparatuses. In the far end of the deep chamber sat a huge machine, not unlike a furnace. Its doors opened to a bizarre array of colours, but even through the incredible heat washing out from the pit fiend, an intensely cold darkness lurked within the furnace, almost like a consuming void. Standing like silent sentinels before the furnace were six crystalline tubes, each holding a mummified body suspended in a glowing blue liquid.
“And that’s the creation forge?” The priest cried. A sense of powerful magic suddenly blanketed the room, and with an anguished roar, the pit fiend and its scorching influence vanished. In its wake, the air smoldered with acrid smoke and soot. Jett gave a guttural howl.
“You ask too many questions!” The cindersoul gritted his teeth as the maddened dragonborn delivered yet another crushing blow.
“Pardon me,” came the tinkle of Aramil’s voice, and then a stir in the air. The House Orien courier appeared on the other side of the chamber. “But I have questions to ask of my own. He then ran through one of the adjacent doors.
“For the Keeper!” The dragonborn roared and renewed his attacks on Jett.
Cynthar retreated to a corner of the room and continued shooting her arrows at the thrice damned warrior.