Rush Of Blood To The Head, part 7.2.
We move from one platform to another with extreme caution, being as quiet as possible in order not to attract attention of the dangerous creatures that no doubt lurk around this place. Signs of their activity are often observable in the remains of the elven bodies that are an integral part of the landscape, no matter in which direction we turn.
We cannot allow ourselves to be distracted by the scenery, but even then I notice the beautiful architecture of this city, the large platforms surrounding the tree trunks with the trunk itself being hollowed out in creating a comfortable place for dwelling. In most cases, the tree houses are supplemented by artificial extensions, but in a way that even those seem so natural and fitting to the landscape.
At times it is quite unsettling to walk the narrow rope bridges, considering that we are walking on branches as high as three hundred feet from the ground, but luckily none of us has a bad case of acrophobia. Our path leads in the direction of the Royal Palace, but we make sure to explore almost every building on our path, in hopes to gain some valuable information from the few unlikely survivors of the carnage… So far our search for survivors has yielded us some valuable information, but it has also cost us precious healing spells from Viconia and Jaheira, spells that might be crucial to our own survival. Still, the people of Suldanessellar are in such a shock, that they can’t speak coherently, before they have received healer’s attention.
According to one of the most reasonable elves we have came across, an elderly female, Exile or Irenicus arrived in the city, flying on the back of a huge, black dragon, who was causing a mayhem by spraying its acid breath over the hapless defenders of the city and soon after that, the city was overwhelmed by masses of demons, golems and elementals…
To say that the mention of a dragon’s presence has left our group unaffected would have been the understatement of the millennia. While Jon Irenicus is undoubtedly a fearsome and dangerous opponent, his demeanour is not as intimidating as the look of a giant wyrm, as it raises on its hind legs and makes you feel like a lowly ant in front of its might.
Of course, our exploration of the elven houses is not purely altruistic in saving them or a mission of gathering information, it also presents us with a fine opportunity to grab some very exquisite loot. Items of elven craftsmanship are valued very highly outside of the elven settlements, not to mention that they might prove very useful to ourselves, things like elven-made cloaks and boots are undoubtedly much more comfortable than those made by lowly humans. And not only that, Imoen has already managed to find a few very useful and rare spell scrolls, such that they even make our Edwin drool and I swear that he almost hopped in the air from excitement, once…
“Here’s another one that I can’t decipher,” Imoen throws a yellowed parchment into Edwin’s hands as we inspect yet another house, this one devoid of any forms of life.
“Hmm, now let me take a good look at this… oh!” Edwin falls silent and stares at the scroll in his hand and after a good while he recovers and quickly tucks it inside his belt.
“Well? Aren’t you going to give us a lecture on the nature of that particular spell? We have been subjected to your ramblings of such nature, twice already, during the last hour…” Viconia says.
“Ah, you chimps need not to be concerned about it (they should be grateful for those little bits of my glorious wisdom that I decide to share with them),” Edwin retorts and tries to look as indifferent as possible.
“Mage, I dislike that you are withholding the information from us,” Keldorn speaks, “it is very difficult to maintain a composure in the fight, if one has to be weary about one of their own comrades, suddenly casting a spell, effects of which are unknown to the rest of us. The tactics of the group must be well coordinated, if we are to succeed.”
“Well, paladin… I can assure you that this spell will not require you changing your tactics on the frontline, that much I can guarantee and that is my final word in this matter,” Edwin snorts.
“Theodur, I…” Keldorn starts, but I interrupt him.
“No, I’m not getting involved in this one, Keldorn,” I say, “All things magical is the sphere of Edwin’s responsibility… if he says that there is nothing to explain about this spell, then we should trust him. Am I correct, Edwin? We can trust you, can’t we?”
“Eh… what? Oh… yes, yes… of course, my apish friends,” Edwin looks a bit startled, “but we should move on, this idleness is starting to bore me…”
We head outside the house and continue on our way forward, walking from one branch to another, passing even more houses on our way… but our walk comes to a sudden halt. Keldorn, who has been leading upfront, stops suddenly and points towards something with the pointed end of his Hallowed Redeemer. We gather around him and through the thicket of leaves, I can make out at least five or six huge shapes, clustered together on the next platform in our wake.
“Golems…” Imoen sighs, “all kinds of them… the two smaller ones look to be made from clay and there is another one… no, wait… another two that look like stone golems…”
“You’re right, Imoen,” Nalia whispers, “just like those guardian golems in my… my keep. And… uh, there are two large ones, too… the one is from iron, but that… that one I do not recognize.”
“Pah, it just shows how uneducated the two of you are,” Edwin chimes in, “that is a golem made from pure adamantine… good luck in destroying that – it is completely immune to magic and even the most powerful weapons do little damage. And even if you were to get close to take a swing at it, one hit from those enormous fists and you are history.”
“So how do we kill it?” I ask.
“Obviously, we need to disable it somehow, to prevent it from retaliating when we attack it,” Jaheira offers a solution.
“And how would we do that?” I turn towards her.
“Heh, I might have an idea…” Imoen pipes up and we all look at her, hoping to hear something ingenious and clever, “what about the good, ole trick with getting them to chase one of us and luring them into a tripwire trap? Look, we could draw out a wire right here and fasten it here around these trunks… better make multiple traps just in case… then I could go over there and get their attention, while the rest of you hide somewhere where it’s safe…”
“That is too risky, I forbid you to even think about it,” Viconia cuts her off, “Theodur will be the one who lures the golems into the trap…”
“No, he won’t, I will do it myself,” Jaheira disagrees.
“Jaheira, you’re wearing a plate mail and can barely run, are you out of your mind?” I ask her, incredulous.
“Will all of you just shut up?” Imoen raises her voice, getting desperate, “look, I’m the rogue, right? So it’s my job, right? Right… and don’t look at me like that, Vic – hey, I have a potion of invisibility, in case something goes wrong…”
“Well, in that case… all right, you can do it,” Viconia yields, “but let us find more suitable place to set the trap, this one does not seem to be the best choice…”
In the end, we choose to set the trap on one of the rare artificial bridges, this one looks to be made out of some kind of magical crystal, and conveniently enough, we can tie and fasten the ropes around the metal bars that are forming it’s railings. After we are done with the preparations, Imoen winks to us and disappears out of our sight as she heads into the direction of the golems. We do not have to wait for long and she reappears in our sight very quickly, running back to us and I see that she is being chased by two of the largest golems… nimbly Imoen jumps across the wires and speeds towards us as we have gathered together at the end of the bridge.
The iron golem is the first one to make it onto the bridge and I hold my breath, hoping that it will entangle in the wires and fall… and even though the first wire does not stop it in its tracks, the second one does and with a huge crash the magical construct collapses on the bridge, making the ground beneath our feet to rattle so that we find it hard to remain upright. The adamantine golem, following the iron one, suffers from the exact fate and after another huge rumble, both golems lie on the ground, struggling helplessly to get back on their feet.
Jaheira is the first out on the bridge, her scimitar raised as she rushes to finish off the golems and I follow her closely, as suddenly…
“Theo! Stop! Turn back, hurry!” Imoen screams and I hear a very unpleasant crackling noise growing stronger and stronger… and as I look down at the bridge, I see huge cracks appearing in the smooth crystal surface…
“Jaheira!” I yell in panic, grabbing her by the shoulder and almost toppling her over, but luckily she manages to maintain her balance. She reacts quickly and we both hurry to get off the bridge until it has collapsed under the weight of the two large constructs…
Just as we have stepped back on the platform, or rather being dragged on it by our friends, the bridge behind us shatters and after a split second in the place where it once stood, now is only huge emptiness…
“You… you saved our lives, Imoen,” Jaheira hugs her, looking quite pale in the face.
“Yep, thanks a lot sis…” I join into the hug.
“Aww, shucks, it was nothing… you are exaggerating about that saving lives stuff… you can fly, can’t ya?” Imoen chuckles as she is buried deep in the embrace.
“We can’t… and this was not the time to start learning it, either…” I reply.
“Ow… well, anyways… what are we going to do now?” Imoen asks as we disengage from the hugging.
“I hope that we didn’t just destroy the only way leading to the palace,” I note looking down to the ground, some couple hundreds feet below…
Rush Of Blood To The Head, part 7.2.
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