We all got to our feet and got ready to move forward. Urgral took the center of our line with Dagmar and me on each side. Suulin and Vridich formed up behind us. Dremnin was put on personal guard duty. He was to keep Vridich from getting hit again. I was not sure how much more he could take or if we would be lucky enough to save him again, our supplies were running very low.
There was nothing in the hall we were in. We could see the glow of a great fire somewhere ahead. We started to walk forward we had only taken two or three step when four gargoyles descended from the upper dark corners. Three attacked the front line. The fourth swung around the line to attack the group behind us. I blocked the attacks as they came in. The creature was extremely strong. I returned the attack with the hammer and turned to my right turning my back to Urgral. I taunted the gargoyle that was behind our line. The last thing we need was for it to attack Vridich or Suulin. Vridich cast his circle of darkness again. We all knew to stay close. I continued to block blows now that I had two stone beasts attacking me. I was just trying to give the others time to dispatch the ones they were fighting. Dremin chased the one he had been fighting and slammed his axe into his stony hide. Suulin fallowed him and struck it also. I taunted it again and cast engaging dance on the other one that was attacking me. I then backed up to pull them even further from Vridich. Suulin and Dremnin continued to press their attack. Urgral’s attacker was the first to fall. He then turned to help Dagmar. I continued to keep the two Gargoyles busy, but I was having very little luck damaging them. I heard the sound of someone pouring gravel on the floor, I knew the dwarf and troll had taken the second gargoyle down. Suddenly one of the attackers in front of me fell to the floor writhing in pain. I could see that Vridich was smiling. It was a new spell the elf had learned. (I hope he never gets mad at me.) We circled around the last two enemies and continued to rain blows down on the crippled gargoyle. The same fate awaited the last attacker.
When we were all done we looked around. Each of us took a moment to making sure that each of our friends was still standing. We had been in some tight spots before but this had to be the worst. All of us tired from the long day before and the journey of constant combat was taking the toll on each of us.
We formed up our ranks again. Moving quietly down the hall way we were watching every dark corner and shadow, expecting to get attacked at any moment. As we got closer to the end of the hall the temperature continued to climb. We could see that there was hole in the floor and there was a great fire below. It was not a wood fire as there was no smoke filling the tunnel. We came upon two doors, one on each side of the hall. The door on the left was hanging open on one hinge. The one on the right was closed and looked solid. Dagmar created a stone wall to block that door. As we were moving down to the open door we could see what looked like a door jamb made of stone floating above the fiery hole at the very end of the hall.
We moved in to the door on the left. The room was dark. Looking at the fire light coming from the end of the hall had made our eyes blind in the dark. We moved through the mostly empty room towards the two doors on the far side of the room. We were almost to the doors when the scream came from behind us. One of the villager mutants came running from a dark corner to attack Urgral. As we looked to the charging mutant three more came out of the doors that were in front of us. The charging mutant got two attacks on Urgral from behind and drove the dwarf to the floor. Dremnin charged forward to help Urgral and chopped his axe into his back.
I slammed my hammer into the one in front of me and pushed him back. Dagmar faced two mutants. He slashed the first one that got to him. Then they returned the attack. One attacked Dagmar high and the other went low, he took several hits. I could hear Dagmar grunt with each hit, but he held his ground and did not fall. I knew Dagmar was hurting and I yelled at him to get out of there so that I could take his place. The stubborn troll refused to be beaten and swung his giant sword again at the enemies. I caught the incoming attack from the mutant trying to kill me on the flat of the hammer head and then punched the hammer forward driving his skull back and pushing him away again. This gave me a second to taunt the mutant to my left by giving a quick head fake (I acted like I was going to head but him). It turned and took a swipe at me. They may have been very strong but they were not very fast in combat.
I could see that Urgral had gotten back to his feet. Dremnin and Urgral were battering the mutant. It was rolling around on the ground screeching in pain.
The two mutants came back at me again. I set to receive the attacks. Two chain bolos flew past me crashed in to the mutants and wrapped them up tight. I bashed the one that had been attacking me again. He went down sliding up to the wall and did not move.
Suddenly the one in front of Dagmar went down screaming in pain. I could hear Vridich giggle from behind me. Urgral and Dremnin moved up and helped me finish my second mutant. Dagmar howled in pain, I looked over and saw that it was not from the attacking mutant. Dagmar had smoke coming from his wounds, they were bubbling and pop like someone had poured acid on them. As bad as this look this was actually healing him, closing his wounds by heating his blood. He then sent the sword to its work, slashing the last mutant into a pool of yuck.
What we really wanted to do at this point was stop and catch our breath. We had lost count of the amount of enemies we had killed and the wounds on our bodies. Determination drove us on.
We went through the left door first. We went down a short hall and found two chests that were heavy with treasure. We decided to leave them for the moment and went back to the last room and went to the right. The hall went down and to the right it came out to a natural bridge that went about 20 feet over a pit of lava. We could see that Hanna was tied up on the other side with some kind of cocoon. Her head was not covered and she started yelling as soon as she saw us.
Urgral was the first start for the bridge. I grabbed my friends arm. I instead that I go first. I was lighter and I could both leap and run on the air if something went wrong. He agreed and I started to cross the bridge, I did not have any trouble getting to the other side. The roar of the hot air rising from the lava below had made it impossible to hear what Hanna was saying till I got next to her. She was shouting that it was a trap. (As if we did not know that already.) I as I went to get her loose the trap was sprung.
Five men made of fire and burning rock came out of the lava at the bottom of the pit. There was also one of the giant praying mantis running that came from up high across the wall from the other side of the pit. I saw his route to me and timed my attack just right. I slammed the hammer to the ground for the third time that day. BOOM! The walls shoot with the power of the blow. The mantis that was running on the walls over the lava lost its footing and fell in to the burning rock. It screamed as it burst in to flames and sank.
The lava men made their move. They move in the lava unhindered and came right up the short rock race. One attacked me, three went after the rest of The Unchained, and one stayed out in the lava and started casting spell. I was really sure that I did not want this thing to touch me. I put on my best display of blocking and dodging that I could in the tight space. I also could not move away as I was the only thing between Hanna and the lava man. I saw Urgral strike one with his axe and knock it back in to the lava. Vridich’s flying worm came to my side or the open cavern carrying a circle of darkness with it. Vridich was making sure that I knew I was not alone on my side of the bridge. Dagmar was fighting against another that was trying to get up on to the ledge. Suulin and Dremnin had the third busy on the other side of the bridge. Then I lost sight of them as a circle of darkness appeared on their side of the bridge. Hammer, tail mace, hammer, tail mace, and hammer again hit the lava man. He just would not die or fall back. I saw that the lava man that stayed out in the lava gave up his spell casting and charged at me. I did not want to get caught between a pair of these guys. I baited the lava man that I was fighting. I lowered my guard on my right side just enough for him to think I had made a mistake. He swung with his left fist at my head. I ducked and spun under his left arm. The tail mace struck first in the spin. It smashed in to his knee and I could feel his form buckle slightly. I could feel the heat of his arm over my head as I made the turn and brought the hammer around. I caught him flat in the chest with the hammer. The burning rock form broke and I drove the hammer right through his body. Burning rock sprayed out in to the lava pit, the rest of his mass crumbles in to a pile on the ground. I saw Urgral drive the one he was fighting out of the circle and back in to the lava again. I slashed the cocoon that held Hanna and she fell loose. I do not know why but when Hanna was cut loose the remaining lava men retreated back in the fiery rock. I put my hammer in its holder on my back so that could scoop up Hanna in one of my arms and the chest that was next to her in the other. We started across the bridge.
There was a rumble and a shaking of the old temple as the two of us reached the other side. We did not know the source. We did know that we did not want to find out. The group headed up stairs and back to the main hall. We could see that there was something going on at the end of the hall. The stone door jamb was glowing and there was a swirling milky shimmer inside it. We stopped to look at the floating door. Then a face burst through it, a face that most of us knew. It was a horrible face from our past. Vargaxes was trying to push his way through the door. This is the Horror that was in control of the pocket realm that we destroyed. A Horror of unknown power and he was already unhappy with us. We started to fall back to the main door to the temple. The stone wall was still blocking the door. Dagmar was slow getting back to the door as he was still looking at the god like horror that was squeezing himself through the door. Some of his centipede like body was out and he was using his legs now to push on the door to pull more of himself into our world. Everyone was yelling at Dagmar to hurry up and open the door.
Vridich turned and looked at the floating gate way. Vargaxes had pulled enough of his body though that he was now holding on to the wall with is first pair of legs and pulling more of himself through. Vridich started casting a spell a large bolt of energy slammed in to the gate. Vargaxes turned and looked down the hall at Vridich his deamon eyes were wide with rage.
Urgral ran past Vridich and started yelling obscenities at the horror. Vargaxes Looked at Urgral and cast a spell. Urgral laughed that the giant horror. Dremnin grabbed Urgral and pulled him back. Dagmar dropped he stone wall and we opened the doors we found that there was still about 20 of the mutants outside the entrance. They looked shocked to see us. I was gripped with fear. I did not know what to do. I felt very helpless. Urgral was still yelling at Vargaxes when Vridich cast his spell again. This bolt was much larger and brighter than the first one. It struck the floating stone door jamb and the gateway in to the other world exploded. Vargaxes was only about two thirds of the way out of the gate when it closed cutting off the last third of his body. The giant horror howled in pain so loud that I’m sure that they heard him in the realm that he came from. Vargaxes charged down the hall toward the open doors. The party dove to corners and edges of the hall. I don’t know how bad Vargaxes was hurt but he did not bother to try and kill us. He just ran out the doors and trampled the mutants out in the cave entrance that had not yet run to get out of the way. We decided to use this as a distraction we grabbed Hanna and the treasure that we had found and ran as fast as we could. We did not run in to one mutant the whole way back to the ship.
We got back on to the Stag just as the sun was coming up. We yelled at the crew and Stilicho to get the ship moving and get us out of here. They could see the urgency in our eyes. The ship was sailing in under a minuet’s time. The crew put on as much speed as we could staying well above the trees this time heading south. The party was still lying on the deck battered and bloody, but everyone had made it safely back. We started to laugh now that we were safe. No one was going to believe our story, that we had survived a second encounter with Vargaxes and that one of us had dealt him such a serious blow.