Rise of the Runelords

Leng, and the Devices and Denizens Thereof...

20 Pharast, 4708

Hikage and Ayruzi find themselves facing off against a dozen of the robed, enigmatic Men from Leng, who have turned away from their manipulation of the Leng Device. Before they can react, Hikage has leapt among them and unleashed a gout of flame, burning several of the unprepared denizens badly. The monk remembers the advice of his ‘allies’, the Leng Spiders, that the denizens of Leng are resistant to cold and lightning.

The Device in question seems to be a huge stone ring at the far end of the room, which projects some sort of energy field that gives a view of the city of Xin-Shalast outside. However, the view is a strange one. The ‘window’ created by the device does not show the haunting, desolate cityscape that Hikage knows to be outside the Pinnacle. Instead, it depicts a Xin-Shalast of vibrant color and activity, seemingly teeming with giants and other residents, overflown by blue dragons and other, smaller beasts. The lava flow that buries the eastern districts is nowhere to be seen, and, more strangely, hints of music and traces of the aroma of food and smoke dance through the air, as if the field sustained in the stone ring were more an open window than a scrying pool.

The stone ring itself is connected by sturdy cabling to a variety of tables and cabinets scattered about the sides of the room. Each table or cabinet is cluttered with dozens, if not hundreds, of small lever and switches, as well as other sorts of appurtenances. It looks almost as if an alchemist’s laboratory had been mated with a clockwork assembly. Strange calipers and other devices, seemingly unsuitable for human hands, litter the stone and metal slabs.

However, the overwhelming feature of the room is the horde of robed, snarling denizens of Leng who quickly mob Hikage and bar access to Ayruzi. The men, if they are indeed such under their swaddling robes, move strangely to Hikage’s eyes, and their limbs possess entirely too many joints. The men’s hands, when revealed are coated in sparse, coarse hair, and tipped with sharp, short claws. The denizens of Leng claw and swipe at the monk, but few can gain purchase in his flesh, as Hikage’s ki has strengthened him against such assaults. More gruesomely, the men from Leng distend their jaws, revealing probing, oily tongues too large for their mouths, and Hikage is careful to dodge their disgusting touch.

His acid-wreathed fists strike against several of the wounded denizens, smashing them to the ground unconsious, but he notes that the burns and breaks he inflicts heal with dismaying speed. He calls out to his angelic ally, Ayruzi, and is amazed when the Planetar unleashes a holocaust of holy fire which burns nearly all of the denizens, some quite seriously, setting many on fire, and consuming the corpses of the fallen. As Ayruzi’s storm of fire subsides, the Leng Devices sparks and whines, the field within the ring distorting and wavering.

Corvus and the other Avengers, trapped within the extradimensional maze generated by the black stone doors leading to the Leng Device, face down their phantasmal terrors again, and the wily wizard quickly figures a way out of the strange trap. They find themselves behind Ayruzi and see Hikage being mobbed by a group of the Men from Leng. One of the men is able to pierce Hikage’s defenses and his unexpected assault proves quite painful. A fireball from Corvus immolates many of the men from Leng, but as each falls, the strange device emits distressing whines and the images of the field grow more distorted and disorienting.

Hikage finishes off several of the burning men, and Ayruzi speaks a single word which strikes several of them blind and wounds most of the twisted humanoids. One of the beings from Leng, more resistant to the magic than others, lunges forward at the men, screeching, ’There will be others! This is not the end!". It proves to be his end, at least, as Ragnar deftly slices him apart from shoulder to hip with his greatsword. In the end, the men from Leng are no match for the Avengers and their angelic ally, whose divine wrath burns most of them utterly from existence.

Left behind is the enigmatic Leng device, which continues to generate a field of swirling, smeared images and light. The Avengers look about for some quick way of disabling the construction, but Zendo’s careful manipulations with Mage Hand and Gellius’s exploratory smite with a lightning-sheathed scimitar both prove ineffectual. Ragnar steps forward and chops his greatsword down brutally towards one of the cabinets, but a deafening blast of sound and wind is his only reward, and the Ulfen shakes his head, slightly concussed by the blast. Ayruzi steps forward and heals the warrior, as Hikage moves towards the stone ring at the far end of the room which seems to be the source of the wavering field. He smashes a fist into the stones, but only hurts his hand as it slams into the cold stone. Zendo tosses a coin at the image, but it passes through and clinks against the stones beyond.

The men are puzzled, but their puzzlement turns to dismay as an alien, unwholesome entity stretches the membrane of the field and pulls itself into the room. The foul creature resembles the Hound of Tindalos the Avengers fought in the halls below Jorgenfist, but this eerie monstrosity is far larger. Its dead, black eyes still confer the same painful rending sensation, however, and its translucent, needle-like teeth still convey the same aura of menace. However, the Hound, if that is still what it is, also manifests a vicious, bladed tongue which whips towards the heroes.

The Avengers, momentarily taken aback, soon regroup, and fearlessly smite the dimension-shifting Hound with blade, fist, and spell. Before it can do little more than pounce sinuously into the room, it has been forcibly eviscerated. But as soon as this happens, the distorted image within the stone circle brightens and disappears, like a flash of lightning, and a powerful charge of static electricity seems to build in the air. The wires and cables connecting the device to the cabinets crackle with sparks, and an audible whine builds in volume and pitch. With a sudden, startling pop, the electricity dissipates, and the room seems suddenly, surprisingly, mundane. Only the silvery corpse of the Hound, leaking acrid fluid, and boiling away like water drops on a stove, belies the sensation.

Corvus is convinced that the Leng Device has been disabled, or turned off, at the least, but the other Avengers are not so certain. Hikage feels bound to destroy the device, as per the agreement with the Spiders from Leng, while the others are concerned that the arcane contraption could simply be restarted. However, no amount of fiddling with the controls, or assaulting the mechanisms, seems to result in anything other than occasional eruptions of some sort of force field. Examining the cabinets and consoles, Corvus recognizes the strange script as Aklo, but does not have a command of the language sufficient to read the runes. However, when he examines the stone ring of the inert Device, he feels a disturbing sense of recognition. Though much smaller, the stone ring resembles strongly the massive runic arch that spans the harbor of Riddleport. Corvus had studied with the Cypher mages there, whose intensive study of the magic of the runes influenced even his own methods of scribing spells. Though not identical, the stone circle of the Leng Device bears strong design similarities with the rune arch itself.

At a loss on how to destroy the seemingly impregnable artifact, the men reluctantly retreat from the chamber, but Ayruzi stops at the threshold, and lifts his huge arms in supplication to Heaven. With a low rumble, an earthquake begins to shake the room, and stone blocks tumble from the ceiling as the stone floor itself begins to crack and shift. The deafening blasts of the force fields boom through the commotion of the earthquake, and a choking cloud of stone dust billows into the antechamber where the Avengers stand, amazed. Truly, the forces of Good have sided with them today!

Hesitant to enter the room and risk a collapse of the ceiling, or floor, the Avengers decide to retreat via Corvus’s carefully prepared spell of teleportation. They convey the location of their sanctuary to Ayruzi, who agrees to exit the Pinnacle via the tunnel in ‘his’ room and seek them out once outside. Though it pains the men to allow Khalib and Viorian the opportunity to rest and recover, their own resources are also deeply spent.



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