Part 22: The PortalFirst half of the update.
- The Portal
I woke up a few hours before noon to prepare for my trip to the Water Mages' ruins. Now that I had the pieces of the ornament, the water mages could combine them and, I hoped, open the portal.
I left the tavern and walked southwest, toward the hidden teleport pad.
A nearby cave contained a few undead goblins. I didn't have the time or resources to deal with them at the moment, but I took note. Where there were undead, there was usually treasure.
The teleport pad was still active from my last trip. I walked onto the stone platform.
My surroundings swirled around me and within seconds, I found myself back in the middle of the Water Mage's research base.
I walked into the main chamber and met with Nefarius.
"I found them." I said, giving the two remaining pieces to the mage.
"That's terrific! Now I have them all. All we have to do is put them together. We will have to use our combined powers to fit the ornament back into a ring. Here. I can give you some gold coins for your trouble. Follow me!"
The other mages were waiting for us when we arrived. Nefarius placed the four ornaments onto a stone slab at the far end of the room. The water mages stood in a half circle around it.
Saturas gave a signal and every mage began focusing their magical energy at the platform. The shards lit up, and there were a series of explosions. After a few solid minutes of this, the ornaments were magically fused together. It worked!
Nefarius called me over. "The ornament has been put back together", the mage said, "Since you brought us the necessary fragments, you should also set them into the portal. Go to Saturas and let him give you the reassembled ring. Hopefully, the portal will then open"
Saturas was already on his way back to the main chamber.
"I belong to the 'Ring of Water' now." I said.
"As I see, you wear the armor of our children. And I see in your eyes that you speak the truth. Very well. I shall accept your entrance into our ranks. Bear in mind that this comes with a great responsibility. I hope for your sake that you will do it justice."
"Give me the ring. I shall open the portal."
Saturas briefly contemplated the idea. "Good. As a new member of our children, you should be granted this honor. However, I am still waiting for a message from Vatras. Until I receive it, we cannot go."
"I have a message from Vatras for you."
The Mage looked surprised. "Very interesting. All right." He took the letter and gave it a look. Satisfied, he placed the fused ornament ring into my hands. "Here, take the ring. We shall gather at the portal and wait for you. If Nefarius is right, the portal will open as soon as you insert the ring there."
I quickly hurried over to the portal room, where the mages had begun to assemble.
Within a few minutes, all six of the mages were present. I took the key, and inserted it into the slot to the left of the portal.
The large, ancient stone doors slid down into the wall. The portal was now open.
I looked back at the gathered Water Mages. It seemed that I was to be the granted the honor of being first to go in. I took a deep breath, and walked into the portal.
In mere moments, I found myself on the other end of the portal. The room was similar in design to the other side, with the exception of it being far messier. I noticed that some torches were lit. Could the bandits, or other group, have taken refuge in these ruins?
In the next room were two stone sentinels. I wasn't sure if they were active or not, but I didn't want to risk it. I skirted around them and continued through the lit corridors. A short while later, I saw sunlight coming from the end of the hall. The exit was nearby.
I stepped out into the scorching sun and was immediately accosted by the head water mage.
"Adanos be thanked. You are finally here. We thought you would not show up again." Saturas said.
"What?" I asked. "How are you already here?"
"We have been here for several days." he replied.
"SEVERAL DAYS?" How can that be?"
"After we could not find you anywhere, Nefarius sought to ascertain what might have gone wrong. He seemed to be thoroughly baffled until now. Well. Now you are here and can begin your work."
"What happened in the meantime?" I was still having trouble believing I'd been gone for a few days. The trip felt like a matter of seconds for me.
"We have collected many new insights. The earthquakes do indeed appear to be STRONGER here. We are not very far from their center now. The builders of these old structures erected a city here in their day, so much we can already say. However, for some reason their culture came to an end. So far, we can only speculate as to why."
"What about Raven?"
"In his letter, Raven spoke of a temple and that he was trying to get inside. We are unanimously of the opinion that it is a temple of Adanos that Raven seeks to desecrate. The earthquakes are obviously the result of unholy incantations which keep colliding with a powerful spell. The gates of the temple are magically sealed, and this is the very magic that makes the stone sentinels arise. The temple is defending itself. We must stop Raven before he can penetrate into the holy of holies."
"Raven is only a former ore baron, not a magician. How can HE carry out an invocation like that?"
"Perhaps it is not he himself, but rather a renegade magician in his pay. One way or another, we MUST avert the evil."
"Have you found a trace of the missing people?"
"Only yesterday we found the body of a fisherman. He was lying under one of the ruins to the east. It looks as though the fisherman was from Khorinis. You should look into this." the Magician said.
"What happens next?"
"WE shall remain here and continue studying the ancient culture. The old scripts of the builders conceal a great many secrets which we must reveal - if we want to understand what happened here back then. Meanwhile, YOU must do a few things for us."
"What does Raven want in the temple?"
"We only know that it has to do with a powerful artifact that is somehow connected to Adanos and Beliar." Saturas looked grim. "We can certainly assume that he is not up to anything good."
"What should I do?"
"You must find Raven and prevent him from desecrating the temple of Adanos. "
"You mean I should KILL him." I needed to do what I couldn't do before.
"If that is the only way to stop him, then in Adanos' name YES. On your way, collect all the ancient relics and inscriptions of the builders you can find and bring them to us. We must know about these people and their demise. Only when we see through Raven's plans can we thwart them. Furthermore, we must find a way to free the slaves."
"Is that all? I can do that left-handed."
Saturas looked mildly annoyed. "I know that it is much to ask. Regard it as a chance to regain my trust."
"I'll get going then."
"One more thing... Raven has gathered a large number of bandits about him. In your absence, we have fetched another member of the Ring of Water here. We sent him to the swamp. He did not come back. We suspect that the bandits attack anyone who does not look as they do. So, acquire some of the bandits' armor. That is the only way you will get close to them without being attacked right away."
The letter from Vatras