As the ground gave way beneath the adventurers, they rapidly fell to their doom, smashed on the rocks below Ascension. The End.
You’re not buying that it happened that way? No? Okay, here’s what really happened…
Plummeting to their certain deaths, an enormous runic ring, inscribed on the ground below, sprang to life, slowing their fall and gently landing them on the icy cavern floor below. Vito inquisitively nudged the edge of the fading, drained circle, sending a burst of dust into the air…and swarming around him, sent him into a short-lived coma.
As Raphael effortlessly dragged Vito back within the safety of the circle, Tsura examined the runes inscribed into the solid stone. “An enormous focus for a massive slowfall spell,” she murmured. “Ancient….two thousand…three thousand years old.”
As Vito regained consciousness, a voice laden with a heavy Lannet accent, cried out in the chamber, “Finish up the damnable thing, it’s now or never!” Those with quick eyes saw the spectral speaker, just before he crumbled to dust at the exit from the chamber.
Meanwhile, Vito heard his own new voice: “Greetings, esteemed senator! Reactive protocol exaltation online!”
Soren scouted ahead, looking for an exit from the cavern…and found a gruesome scene of carnage. Azure Alliance soldiers and techs, entombed within icy webbing, hung suspended overhead. Moving quietly, he reported his findings to the Circle, and quietly led the group along the safest route to their destination.
Glowing blue runes emblazoned the walls of the tunnels… “A wizard’s mark,” Vito mumbled. Annnnd that’s when the spiders attacked — not from the front, but from the sides — the three ice spiders they didn’t even know were there. Six feet in length and two hundred pounds, they dislodged themselves from the walls with a cracking and shattering of ice, lashing out with scything fangs and talons. Vito was the first to fall victim to the icy, numbing poison as a fang pierced his armor. He wasn’t without retort, however, as he planted a bolt through the creature’s skull. The beasts started screaming — a high pitched keening that we heard not with our ears, but with our minds. Attracted by the wails of their brethren spiders, three more webbed sisters show up… One of the new arrivals, bloated with thick hairs protruding from it’s thorax, fixed its lifeless eyes on Tsura, and she, in turn, turned her glazed eyes to Raphael. Unleashing her arcane energies, she blasted him repeatedly with lances of heat, wounding him gravely. Meanwhile, Soren, propelled to action, hacked at the vile creatures, slaying two before any one could stand before him. The last spider clacked its way down the hall, only to be mortally wounded by a shot from the sluggish Vito.
More specters appeared from the shadows: “They have betrayed us. They shall be damned.” Another larger shadow materialized behind him, shaking the earth and speaking of scripture.
The group entered another large chamber, where more wizard’s marks marked another large circle. Hesitantly stepping into the circle, the group suffers its unleashed energies, magically reknitting torn flesh, restoring expended reserves, and generally raising the group’s morale.
More specters… “Doors guard the path to ascension and serve as a monument to great battle…” When the specters evaporate, the group is left in a room filled with a bas-relief of an enormous battle involving the floating fortress of Ascension. A poem is the key to the door, asking the intrepid companions to select from a number of symbols inscribed on the floor of the room. Considering for many minutes, the group realizes the poem is the story of their adventures since they were brought together on the fateful airship journey many months earlier. The symbol — the wheel representing the Council of Gaea — served as a key to unlock the door.
Rolling aside, the door revealed a green mist enveloping an upward path. A second wizard symbol joins the original — and Tsura and Vito recognize, at the core of the complex, interwoven symbols — their own wizard’s runes, crude by comparison to these masterpieces.
Loping down the hill, apparently set on escaping the hellish glow of the mists, two malformed, rotting, giant creatures come wading through the mist, accompanied by their loving man-sized hounds of hell. Dispatching their foes, the group climbs until they see an enormous army of the undead creatures. The cryptic specters re-appear, commiserating with one another: “The time has come to begin a second assault on Ascension, for our allies have not been faithful.”