Desert of Desolation

The Black Abyss

   Day 74 (continued) Having placed all but one of the crystal minarets in the miniature model of the Citadel of Martek, the band had just one more crystal minaret to acquire before they could enter the Inner Sanctum of Martek. But before venturing on, they needed to rest. During the first watch, which was Ariel and Stilgar, Stilgar noted at some point that he experienced a strange tingling sensation and had the distinct impression that they were being watched. He looked around but could not find anything and never said anything to anyone about it. Little did the band realize but they were being scryed upon by Trifakas. 

   Day 75 Following an undisturbed night of rest, the band prepared themselves for the day and when they felt they were ready, they proceeded to the chamber where the teleportation pad lay which corresponded with the final world where they hoped to acquire the sixth minaret. Stepping onto the raised disk at the center of the chamber, the band was whisked away and soon found themselves at the back of a huge cavern-like structure built of polished white stone. The walls and ceiling of the structure were lined with spots of brilliant white light, except in one direction where there was no wall, but rather a sky of glowing red light. Much of this was obscured from view however, by trees and shrubbery that grew in a green, garden-like area. In the opposite direction, along the wall at the back of the structure, stood two large stone figures. Each of these statues was labeled in a script that suddenly altered to the common tongue when gazed upon. One was named Time and the other was named Space. Between the statues was a large obelisk with writing carved into it. 

   When the band moved closer to the obelisk so they could read the writing, it also altered to the common tongue. It said: 

Beyond the knowledge of mortal man

Guardians of the worlds stand guard

They look toward the crystal minaret

And watch that path so hard.

Beyond the end of space and time

Beyond all magic's sphere

Where all the worlds breaks down

And chaos does appear.

'Tis there the crystal minaret

Awaits that valiant day

When men shall walk paths of oblivion

And take that key so far away.

   As the band was reading these lines, six smelly, lizard-like people (known as troglodytes), attempted to sneak up behind them. Fortunately, most of the band spotted them and were able to defend themselves when the troglodytes attacked. During the battle, one of the troglodytes tried to escape and was stopped by a dwarf with an axe that suddenly appeared from behind one of the bushes. After the troglodytes were defeated, the dwarf introduced himself as Besender and told them how he had somehow appeared in this unusual place.

   According to him, after he and some companions had defeated an evil wizard near his homeland near the city of Mirabar, they were going through some of the magic items they had just discovered when one of his dwarven companions unwisely placed a portable hole into a bag of holding. The next thing he knew, there was some kind of explosion, he was knocked unconscious and he awoke sometime later, floating in what he assumed to be the Astral plane. Sometime later, when he was approached by a band of strange looking humanoids carrying large swords, having just come from a ship of some kind (githyanki) he decided to flee by entering a color pool and wound up in this place.

   Realizing the dwarf might be a helpful ally, the band asked him to join them, and he gladly accepted the offer. From there, the band moved through the garden area and as they did so, the foliage around them become sick and yellow, while the ground around them became jagged and rocky. Eventually, they could see where the floor, walls and ceiling of the huge structure they were in came to a jagged end and beyond lay an angry red, cloud-filled sky. Soon, they came to an area where all the trees and shrubbery were dead. Here, they were attacked by six spectral minions. Farther on, when they came to the edge of the structure, they were attacked by a xorn that rose up out of the ground. 

   From this point on, lay a series of long and relatively narrow patches of ground that floated in the air above a swirling vortex of red clouds. With no other options, the band proceeded onto the floating chunks of earth. Here, the wind around them began to increase and to make matters worse, the spatial relationships began to break down, causing the ground to periodically expand and shrink. Sometimes the band would suddenly find themselves very far from each other, while at other times they would slam into each other as the distance between suddenly shrank. As they tried to deal with this problem and make their way to the other end of the piece of ground they were on, they also had to battle three otyughs that suddenly appeared before them. 

   Having made their way across this section of ground, the next section became even worse as the wind grew stronger, the land continued to expand and shrink, and now time began to break down. For some of the band, they suddenly began to move very fast, while others stayed the same, and others still moved very slowly. This too, altered several times as they made they way to the far side. And as they did so, they had to battle three umber hulks. This became quite a challenge as the group's best warrior, Stilgar, became confused by the umber hulks' gaze attack. Somehow, the band managed to get through this and move on to the next section of ground. 

   Yet again, things became more challenging, because as space and time continued to change, now magic became unstable and spells that the band cast became unpredictable, causing all kinds of random and bizarre things to happen. Here, the band was forced to battle an efreeti, though thankfully not Kalitharius himself.

   Finally, after all these challenges, the band had reached the end of the large slabs of ground that floated in the air above the spinning tunnel of red clouds. Here, small chunks of rock would break away from the slab of ground and slowly float out to an island of rock in the far distance. It was to that island of rock that the band needed to get to, they believed, in order to retrieve the crystal minaret. But how to do it without using magic, in the roaring wind, and without falling into the abyss below? This was the question. Lerris was the first to try and ride one of the chunks of rock out to the island. He made it safely and found that once there, all of the wind and chaos around him did not affect the island. One by one, the others likewise took their turn riding chunks of rock out to the island. Somehow, most of the band made it there without incident. But when Lerris then picked up the crystal minaret, the island began to rumble and break apart. Putting the crystal back in its place did not help. Then arcs of red lightning began striking the island as the entire island exploded! Helplessly, all the members of the band found themselves falling into the swirling vortex below, into the black abyss that was waiting there. But moments later, they were all unexpectedly back inside the crystal cathedral, having been teleported into the corresponding chamber for that particular world. 

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arkhemedes

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