We traveled deeper into the mountainous spire, quietly stepping over the many corpses of past questers. To our surprise we heard shouting from ahead, two persons in a heated argument. We came to find a shirtless towering man with many wounds holding a white robed figure at bay by means of a six foot tall great sword. Some explanation revealed that the tribesman awoke freshly bandaged at the hands of the other, a half-orc. The half-orc in question introduced himself as Zee, but before more pleasantries could be exchanged Arenwe recognized strange runes on Zee’s staff and declared him a maleficar. Zee quickly explained that he lost his ability to cast magic and that he hates blood magic more than most.
Both Zee and the unnamed man came here with separate groups, but the tests left them both the sole survivors of their party. As long with they meant us no harm we allowed them to accompany us as we sought the Oracle. A short distance away we encountered a terrible hallway filled with swinging blades, spikes and only navigable by use of a 5-inch wide shaky beam. Arenwe still injured insisted he was the only one qualified to safely traverse the danger and shut off the trap from the other side. Although he did offer several times for Zee to go first. Both Kara and I tried to dissuade Arenwe, but he would hear none of it. With the grace of a prancing dear Arenwe made his way expertly through the trap without so much as a cut. Once the trap was deactivated the floor raised and the rest of use safely passed.
We next entered a dark cavern with smooth reflective obsidian stone flooring and walls. The deeper we entered the more frightened Zee became. He called this place the Cavern of Dark Reflections. A few archaic runes read “To live, you must die”. The stoic warrior kept us on a northern course for an immeasurable amount of time till stopping for a moment to examine the stone. After a cursory strike against the stone dark shapes emerged from the rocks all around us. It was as if the stones themselves came alive mimicking each of our shapes and weapons, all of us except the now terrified Zee.
Within moments we were surrounded by two dozen of these creations and by the comments from Arenwe there were more, deeper in the cave. Surrounded by five I kept behind my shield awaiting an opening. From the sounds of combat I could tell my companions were in no better position then I. Zee from the back casted some type of healing magic on Arenwe and the muscular warrior, who was offended by the aide.
Finally I found an opening and struck down the two largest foes first each shattering them into shards of black glass, but not without taking my share of wounds. I could hear the voices of my friends from deeper in the cavern, but although their voices were exact their choice of words and thoughts betrayed them as some horrible reverse copy of us. It then became clear what type of test this is, should we hope to pass this test and exit the cave we must destroyed the physical manifestations of our mirrored images. And if we should lose then these alternates would leave in our place.
It still sends shivers down my spine at what my reflection said he’d do to the world and Princess Anneka after killing me. With all of the black-glass beings destroyed we each squared off against our own reflections, at least for a moment. Arenwe quickly ensnared his doppelganger and landed a mighty arrow into the dark version of Kara. One by one we bested our darker selves revealing the true exit. Once the battle was over Zee revealed his true name Zanthor and that he in fact was a commander of importance in the Dark Lord’s army or at least that was who entered this cavern initially, but he is in fact the opposite of that person and managed to best his original and was granted the reward of life. With much consideration we allowed him to continue to accompany us.
We next entered a large domed room lying before two massive doors. We were attacked by a dozen Snake Cultists and a naga. Near to death the tall warrior instructed Zanthor not to heal him and threatened a penalty of death. Despite the odd request we cut through them till only the Naga remained. The doors opened and we were invited in to see the oracle. With the exception of Zanthor, his life was its own reward. The Oracle’s emissary knew each of our names including the quiet warrior Khal. It was explained that we’ve each earned one question, and that our magic would not work here.
The oracle’s beauty was supernatural, I can think of no other way to describe it. Once invited I stood in a ringed circle and asked, what is it that the Dark Lord seeks in Kear Maga? The oracle answered the celestial observatory inside of the Vault of Heavens. Arenwe asked how to save his people. The oracle explained that the spires are the correct course, but he lacks the power, but that power can be found in the Vault of Heavens. Next Khal asked what the one-eyed orc was after. I don’t know the context of the question but the oracle instructed him it was in the Vault of Heavens. Lastly Kara asked if the Dark Lord would win. The oracle replied that it was undecided, but her future actions would affect the outcome.
As we all prepared to depart the Oracle gave us one free warning, whom ever possesses the power of the vault of heavens has the ability to rewrite the world.
We were offered a magical portal to exit the broken spire and all accepted minus Khal who preferred to walk back rather than have magic used upon him. Moments later the three of use reached our old camp happy to see Goliath and the other mounts safe and in the same place. Exhausted we decided to rest the night as the fate of this world now rests on our shoulders.