Invisible Chains

Chapter Fifteen

Navigating a Fade Maze (or How to Kill a Dwarf Twice, Redux)

Continuing the battle, the group comprised of Fabre, Pelekor, and Riordan manages to defeat the Rage Demon. As the beast dissolves a spirit forms were it stood: Ozoren, who spends his time goofing around as usual before disappearing; soon after two members of the Enlightened Brotherhood enter from a locked door, having hidden from the demon and darkspawn. Fabre, who had run off previously, remerges from the other side of the island, the portals forming in a loop. They then go through the only remaining portal and find themselves on a smaller island with a table and a tea set on top. Sat at the table is a middle-aged elf sipping tea, as he raises his cup in greeting towards Pelekor, the dwarf reacts by attempting to perform a jump kick, in response the elf raises his hand freezing the dwarf in mid-air, Pelekor, in his mad attempts to come down unfortunately poops his pants, thankfully Kadrial is gracious enough to swap his pants out for a clean pair thanks to his mastery of the Fade; something the dwarf could never manage. He then introduces himself to the rest of the group as Kadrial a Dalish Keeper. After some discussion with Riordan he agrees to the help the group (after laughing at Pelekor's twice-death by darkspawn). After doing some calculations and map reading of the islands, Kadrial manages to lead them to what he hopes is the map island.

Meanwhile, the group of Crastis, Ardal, two guards, and two Enlightened Brothers, continue to be wary of the old woman serving them food, gaining back health as they eat. As the charade continues unabated, she shocks the old woman twice with her power; this causes the woman to transform into a huge and angry Envy Demon, the cottage growing dark before disappearing as she does. As Ardal and the four others run off at top speed into the fog, the Demon sets its rage onto Crastis dealing massive damage to the elf. The others are soon stopped by the demon which seems to teleport itself, knocking down everyone but Ardal, the Purifier leader and trained Templar, draws his blade and attacks the creature, managing to knock it down with a furious blow while the rest of the group attack it until it dies. Killing the creature the fog begins to withdraw allowing them to see the surrounding area and the islands. The group decides to travel back to the island they were just on and take a different portal.

At the same time, the group comprised of Kynedrin, Killian, and the two guards, continues their journey through the endless forest. Following the river to the north, they find two portals next to each other, one blue and one green. Deciding to step through the green portal and find themselves on Island Thirteen, with an armoured elf wielding a large sword the only thing in sight. Kynedrin approaches the elf and asks for directions, the elf, happy to oblige, directs the group to the map island.

At this point the three groups then meet up on Island Five, which has a weeping willow in the middle with ten ordinary branches and one red one, with all groups together they then plot a plan of action. Kynedrin points out that the Pride Demon they passed on Island Four held a soul, probably of one of their friends, turning back to fight the demon the whole group works together and smites the demon. As it dissolves leaving its bones, the group watches as Aedan's spirit appears questioning what happened, before he vanishes Kadrial tells him to "remember where you go."

Returning to Island Five, Riordan takes leadership of the group and asks Kadrial to direct them through the maze of islands. After spending some time on the island Kadrial manages to hold each of the branches, peering into what that Island holds. At the same time Kynedrin, spotting three shrubberies (nee) decides to lick them, noticing that only one of them is actually real, the dwarf also realises that the shrubbery (nee) reacts to his licking with delight, uprooting itself it begins to keep close to Kynedrin. Kadrial then comes back to the group and explains that the islands are arranged as a maze of three different levels, with puzzles at each level, only by solving the puzzles at each level can the proceed to the next. He tasks the group with finding any weird stuff in the Fade as that might involve a puzzle, the rest of the group then points to the shrubbery (nee). Kadrial then locates where the plant is meant to go (Island Three). The group decides to go back to Island Eight and deal with the elf behind the green portal.

Island hopping back to the endless forest, they arrive at Island Thirteen. Seeing the large group arrive, he inquires if any of them would be worthy to challenge him. Fabre, a Colonel in the Val Royeaux guard, steps forward. Pelekor, Kynedrin, and Crastis, not having an honourable bone in their body prepare to also attack the spirit and win the fight. As the duel begins, both individuals are pretty evenly matched, however Fabre is soon distracted by the antics of the three dishonourable sorts, however there weapons and magic spells continually pass straight through the elf who isn't bothered by them. Pelekor tries three times to use his secret jump kick that he has no skill in whatsoever: the first time he misses, the second time he careens straight through the elf hitting Fabre in the process injuring both, the third time by sheer luck and improbability he hits the spirit, in response the elf freezes the battle strikes the dwarf a fearsome blow before knocking him out. Continuing the fight Fabre manages to defeat the elf thanks to two free hits. As the elf is struck for the final time he begins to disappear stating: "ah death, how I have longed for you." With the Island Thirteen cleared Fabre picks up the green gem the elf was guarding and pockets it, while Crastis heals Pelekor.
 

Continuing on, the large group journeys to Island Three, arriving to find a large swamp, they journey carefully through it, but disturb a large horde of skeletons who attack the group, managing to knock down Pelekor and Crastis, the rest of the group kills as many as they can, but they are always replaced with more, with even more rising out of the water. With no way out, and the murderous skeletons pressing in on all sides, Kadrial uses his diminishing power to knock back the skeletons surrounding them giving the group room to move. Riordan, noticing that the elf has aged considerably, chastises him, Fabre and Ardal pick up their fallen comrades and they all leg it towards the island in the centre of the swamp. When the group steps foot on the island, the skeletons loose interest in the large group, simply pretending they don't exist, the skeletons go back to lying down in the water. After healing their fallen comrades, the group notices that the shrubbery (nee) roots itself into the island, opening a green portal behind it.

Stepping through the portal onto Island Twelve the group is face with a vicious wolf, easily killing the vicious animal. Riordan fishes out a blue gem from the river, in a brazen act of burglary Pelekor manages to steal the blue gem out from the Grey Warden's nose (literally) without him even noticing, he also steals the gem from Fabre's pocket and decides to shove both up his ass for some unknowable reason.

Continuing on, the group sprints back across the swamp avoiding the skeletons and island hope back to Island five, from there Kadrial calculates that the next portal will open on Island Ten. Travelling there they find only blue portals and a large hill. Riordan notices a mark on the top of the hill; standing on it he has a vision of castle walls and a vase. Splitting the party up, Riordan goes with Kadrial to Island Two to find what he saw. Locating the vase, he smashes it on the floor. Back on Island Ten a green portal springs to life, the large group hastens through and are immediately engaged by a single shade. The group stays back and watches the shade engage the more magical members of the group, who manage to destroy the creature.

Riordan and Kynedrin, rather than return to Island Ten, decide to travel to Island One and discover what is there. Once on the island they discover a huge portal that presumably leads back to the real world. While there they also discover a Despair Demon “Loneliness”. Loneliness initially tells Riordan that it wishes to lead the two of them to his mistress, while Riordan, not trusting a demon, attacks the creature. Startled by the damage, it rises from the ground and stabs the Grey Warden with an icicle; the ice fills up Riordan’s blood stream freezing him from the inside. Thanks to Kadrial he is only frozen momentarily, being healed  by the Keeper (who suffers minor aging as a result), the Grey Warden kills the demon after this freeing Bertrand’s soul who appears before them, before the Orlesian disappears Kadrial reutters that he should: “remember where you go.”

Riordan then travels to Island Four, and with Kadrial’s help solves the final puzzle: putting out the fire in the back of the Island. Revealing the four and final Green Portal. The two then travels back to Island Ten, grab the group, then island hop to Island Fourteen. Stepping through the portal the group sees a pedestal in the middle of the island with three circular grooves set into it, large enough for the gems they have found. They also see a huge ogre guarding it. Feeling cocky and maybe poisoned by the gems in his butt, Pelekor swaggers up to the ogre with the attempt to convince the ogre to disappear, like he did with the ghost darkspawn, however on approach he realises that he has made a huge mistake. Staring down a massive Ogre, Pelekor can barely form a coherent sentence, and nearly poops out the gems in fear, averting the ruin of another set of pants. The ogre, annoyed by the little dwarf, smashes his club against Pelekor knocking him out cold and nearly hammering him into the earth. The rest of the group spring into action and begin to battle the fearsome beast.

Meanwhile on another Island at the centre of the Fade maze. The Desire Demon: Kalyco, contemplates her plans, behind her three skulls, and to her side twelve figures trapped in green, all are asleep. She laughs, longing for the battle to come and the pure ecstasy she will get from killing her foes.

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