Chapter 20 - We Will, We Will, Rock You, Rock You...
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The statue of Demogorgon, made of stone though it was, was surprisingly quick. Although the group began to pull back, it was upon the nearest of them in the blink of an eye. That nearest member happened to be Viselys, who bravely set himself to do battle to give his companions time to withdraw. Avner was the first through the double doors – not that anyone could really blame him. He was almost at the doors, having collapsed there after leaping from the fire pit. Plus, he was so badly hurt, he was likely to expire if the animated statue so much as looked in his direction. Saris and Adameus made it most of the way to the doors, but then held up to wait for their companions. Urol’s legs were too small to keep up with his companions, and there was no doubt that, had Viselys not inserted himself into the attacker’s path, Urol would have been snatched up.

The first indication the party had that this was more than just an animated statue was the horrific wail. One of the two heads let out a howl not unlike that of a baboon, but something about it was so unnatural and chilling that it nearly caused one to be overcome with fright. Ornrik recognized this as a magical attack, but there was precious little advantage this knowledge game him.

Ornrik also knew from experience that this golem, for surly that was what this construct must be, would be immune to most of the magic he might otherwise have hurled against it. Instead, he set his mind to how to keep his friends alive, giving them every advantage possible. From his position hovering high above the floor, he devised such a plan. Surly Adameus and Urol would be as impotent against this statue as Ornrik was, but both shared the ability to make use of the magical items he kept in his arsenal. Calling out to them, he dropped wands and shouted instructions. These instructions distilled down to “Keep out of the attacker’s reach, but keep Viselys fighting.”

Meanwhile, Saris had his own plan – leaping though the fires of the pit and coming up behind to flank the golem. It was a spectacular display, but since it was the second time he had accomplished this flashy feat, it failed to impress anyone but himself.

It proved to be a very good thing that there were three individuals that could dispense healing for Viselys. Two of the golem’s four stone tentacles held him fast and constricted with a strength that Viselys knew he would not survive. Additionally, on some unconscious level, he was somehow aware that this tainted, evil construct’s very touch was corrupting and, had he not been as strong or as healthy as he was, the itching he felt where the tentacles touched him would literally enflame with rot. If Viselys didn’t extricate himself fast, this would be a very short battle for him.

Ornrik knew it too. He also knew that his magic, while completely ineffective against the golem directly, would be very effective if channeled through his friends. He cast a spell to increase Viselys’ strength, and then quickly followed it up with an enlarge spell. This gave Viselys just what he needed to break the golem’s hold. He quickly put some distance between them. He needed to heal up just a bit before he could continue. Urol and Adameus stayed with him, hitting him with healing wands all the way.

Saris moved to try to get into the fight, but the golem moved away from him in pursuit of the others.

Meanwhile, Avnar was having a mind-bending time. He ran down the hall lined with monkey statues, setting off alarms all the way – not that they mattered to anyone now. He threw open the double doors at the end of the hall and charged through them…

…right back to temple room where his friends were fighting. It took a second for his mind to comprehend what he was seeing. “How did you guys get here ahead of me?” he asked, rhetorically, and then the answer dawned on him. Nonetheless, he ran down the hallway and through the double doors to end up right back where he started again. “Oh, this is not good,” he noted entirely to himself.

With a good deal of magical healing and augmenting, Viselys was ready to engage the golem again. However, when he turned around, expecting to find himself toe to toe, so to speak, with the golem. Instead he found it very effectively climbing the wall.

Ornrik had thought he was in a safe position high above the ground, out of the statue’s reach. Not so. It was going to reach him, and he wouldn’t last as long as Viselys had. Two tentacles swung out and … just missed. Ornrik actually felt vile corruption of it’s touch, it was so close.

This gave Viselys just enough time, and he needed to make the most of it. He rushed to the wall – and due to his enlarged size, he could reach the statues lower section. The stone crown of the gargoyles granted him the ability to smite, once per day, with the elemental force of the stones underfoot. This, coupled with the vicious might of his magic great sword, he hoped, would really get the statue’s attention. He swung, once, twice and three times. Each hit struck and each strike caused massive damage. Viselys had forgotten that, as they had begun the battle with the monkey demons, Ornrik had placed a blessing on the sword. All these things combined to make Viselys’ attack a fury of destruction. With the third strike, the statue broke into pieces that rained down as harmless pebbles (Which was a relief to Viselys, who had a sudden flash of the giant centipede).

“The evil currents are gone now,” Ornrik noted, very relieved to still be alive. Everyone also noticed the fire pit began to die out.

“I have to find Diamondback,” Viselys stated.

“I’ll go with you,” Ornrik said, “I feel really bad about what happened to the wee lass.”

“Well, I’m going to clean up here,” Adameus said. “That cloak the monkey was wearing looks valuable, if not magical.”

“We’ll stay with him and catch up to you guys when we’re done here,” Saris said.

As Viseslys and Ornrik headed for the doorway, Avner muttered, “I’m not sure that’s going to work…” but when they didn’t come back, he was bewildered.

Urol picked up on that and looked at him quizzically, “Avner? Are you okay?”

* * * *

Viselys and Ornrik looked all over throughout the installation section they were in. They finished up in the large cavern with the natural walkways above. Ornrik looked at the mirror and said, “Well, we speculated about this. I think this is the way back to the other part of the shrine.”

Viselys examined the mirror. He, too, knew that this was their best option. “I’ll tie a rope around my waste. You do the same. I’ll go through and see. I’ll either come back or you pull me back.”

“You know there are a lot of other possible outcomes,” Ornrik noted.

“I know,” Viselys noted, “but we have to try.”

The plan seemed to work. Viselys passed through the surface of the mirror and found himself in the room with the bleeding thrones. He looked back to find that the rope remained taught through the mirror behind him, so he turned around and found he was able to walk back the way he’d come. He told Ornrik and they both went through.

More searching and, just when they started to consider the possibility that Diamondback might not be in the shrine, they found her chained to the wall where they’d found Adameus.

She was unconscious, but she came around when Ornrik had cast a healing spell on her. It was obvious, though, that she was disoriented and didn’t realize where she was. She began thrashing and kicking. “No, not again! Please! Leave me alone! Just kill me! Please!”

Viselys reached out to her, trying to hold her. She started screaming all the louder, “Don’t touch me!”

“Tara, please, it’s me. You’re okay. You’re okay now.”

She stopped screaming and looked at him with incredible anger in her eyes. As her gaze focused, Viselys could see that there was no confusion any longer. She knew exactly who she was talking to. In a low, growling voice, she seethed, “Don’t you touch me. Don’t you dare. For hours last night, I don’t know how many, that THING violated me and tortured me. What did you do last night? You slept. Comfortably? All rested and fresh this morning?” She seemed to be building up to something, but she just stopped, shook her head and looked away.

Ornrik knew that he would not get the opportunity to touch her for healing purposes, so he cast healing at her from a distance using his wand. Together the three waited until the others arrived.

With the danger passed and the question of Lavinia’s whereabouts settled, there was no longer a pressing time restraint for getting to Farshore, so the group felt that they could take the time to set up camp for the rest of the day and that night, giving them the opportunity to heal and recoup spells.

In the morning, they broke camp and set off south.

Continue to Chapter 21...

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