Chapter Eighteen

Veit ek at ek hekk vindga meiði a
netr allar nío,
geiri vndaþr ok gefinn Oðni,
sialfr sialfom mer,
a þeim meiþi, er mangi veit, hvers hann af rótom renn.

The four warriors stood up and looked upon the defeated dragon in disgust. They slowly recovered from the bout and gathered up their things. After catching their breath, the battered adventurers made their way to the temple and gathered.

“That it?” Leomourn nodded; hands on his knees, bent over.

“The Cuirass of Bahamut?” Amarella asked, still smiling and not really winded at all.

“It just seems…small and boring.” Leomourn shrugged, and reached out to the armour. His fingers passed right through the cuirass, the image ripped.

“An illusion.” Delgen said pointedly.

“This is not the armor?” Leomourn asked, a look of dread crossed his face.

“This is a decoy. The real one must be hidden.” Darella’s rogue mind had turned the temple’s layout over and over, the shadows at her feet served as extended feelers and she was aware of all the cracks and dimensions of the temple. “There is a way down.” She said, walked near a large pile of rubble.

The state of the ruined stone columns and other debris almost fully covered the secret stairwell that might have been in the center chamber of the standing structure. The party descended into a darkness. An odd icy feeling over came them as if they had fallen off the last step into a cold liquid devoid of gravity or any other sensation. Then they were climbing up steps.

The new ascending staircase lead to the inside of a beautiful marble temple. The temple was a nature temple, with just as much vegetation as stone, the walls were adorned with sigils of nature and imagery of old gods. They exited into an atrium open on three sides. The dark, wet, verdant forest pressed in gently. There was a light rain and the sounds of night animals and insects echoed off the marble, as the milky moonlight reflected off of every drop of rain around.

“Where are we?” Leomourn asked.

“I cannot tell.” Delgen was confused. His dwarven internal compass was confused, unable to recognize up from down.

“We are either in a pocket dimension, or a mirror realm?” Darella proposed.

“This feels like home…I think it is…” Amarella trailed off and walked down the crepidoma and dipped her toes into a pool of rainwater, a small forest creature ran up to her. Soon she was surrounded by small odd woodland-like creatures.

“Are we in the Feywild?” Delgen sniffed hard.

“What is the name of this temple?” Darella asked. Leomourn shurgged. Delgen shook his head as well. “Amarella!” She called out a few more times, before the enamored babarian’s focus was pulled from the forest.

“The Temple of Reflection.” Amarella answered, after her sister had repeated the question number of times more.

“I get it. It is a reflection of the Temple below itself, like a mirror.” Darella said.

“So is this the Feywild?” Leomourn asked, not really sure what he was asking.

“I don’t know, but that means the real Cuirass is hidden here somewhere.” Delgen said. “Get too looking, there must be a clue.”

They all began looking. Darella was thorough and precise as Leomourn kicked over a few pebbles with his hands in his pockets. Delgen had procured his dwarven crystal spectacles and was on his knees, measuring stones and licking the hewn marble…analyzing. After about an hour’s worth of search revealed not a lead, they dragged Amarella from the Forest. She had actually wandered off and it was a scary effort to try to look for here, for this wood was deep and magical, it felt as if if one were to step two paces they were lost in a verdant ever-changing welcoming forest.

Amarella was annoyed her companions but soon was cognizant once again. They attempted to explain what they thought this place was and that they had to find the hidden armor. She looked at them puzzled.

“You can’t see that huge altar?” Amarella pointed to the center of the atrium. Her friends looked and then looked back at her, all they saw was an impluvium and a wide expanse of space.

“It says: To know greatness, one must first know sacrifice.” Amarella read from the altar that only she could see. She then knelt down and touched a rune, it cast a bright green light as the ancient magics were activated for the first time in fathomless millenia. Four pedestals spontaneously erupted from the four sides of the impluvium and stood at waist-level.

At the tops of the four pedestals were four stone sculptures, each depicting a different part of the body. One was a muscular foot and lower leg, one was a powerful fist punching into the air, one was a lean and poised torso, the last was the neck and head of an ancient sexless form. The sculptures hummed when the warriors approached. Each of the stone eidola were life sized.

“What do we have to do?” Leomourn asked. Poking the foot statue with his bow, absently. “These things are weird, they vibrate when you get near.” He said, disgusted.

“That’s it! You’ve done it!” Delgen screamed after looking up at his companion. “They are not humming when we near, they are humming when enchantment gets near. Notice Leomourn you are not near the pedestal, but alas your bow is.” Delgen said. “Quickly, remove your chainmail Amarella!”

“Hey!” Amarella said and glared.

“We must all sacrifice a dweomer to unlock this, it is very similar to ancient dwarven technologies that burn magic to power them. Some say the ancient dwarves came from the future.” Delgen said as he removed his gloves as he spoke and placed it upon the pedestal. The others mimicked the dwarf and soon they all saw the Altar in the center of the atrium.

“The real Cuirass.” They said.

Chapter Eighteen

The Flame of Time gabrielegandrake