Prison Of The Ancients
Mika is sucked into the collapsing portal and deposited in the Gloom. Around her, the denizens of the shadow plane roar in confusion at the portal’s sudden collapse. As she attempts to clear the chaotic area surrounding the sealed boundary between planes, the charts inlaid upon The Robe of Stars begins to glow with a silvery light; responding to being within The Gloom. Mika sees tendrils of the Gloom extending outward from Lir, marking its expansion beyond Lir.
Sa-Nah-Gig is growing in power by spreading her influence to worlds beyond Lir. She is slowly assuming the aspect of the one true being that rules over death itself and the intermediate plane of judgement between life and the afterlife.
Mika studies the patterns on the robe further, discerning small regions among the multitude of planets where The Gloom has not yet reached, suggesting protection by a force capable of resisting Sa-Nah-Gig. The closest region resisting her influence is Lir’s moon, suggesting that there is a power there resisting the demi-goddess.
The patterns unfold further revealing planets that have succumbed to Sa-Nah-Gig’s influence as completely as Lir has. One such planet, marked as Raegaal upon the cloak, is within the same system as Lir, and also appears to harbor life.
Mika turns here eyes away from the dizzying patterns withing the cloak and continues onward, trying to discern a path through the featureless landscape, and fleeing from the riot of confused and angry spirits that were effected by the portal’s collapse. Soon she arrives at the lip of a crater, where the voices have quieted. As she crests its ridge, the Dead Stone is revealed below.
She spends a cautious moment studying the monolithic black stone before her, and comes to understand some of its potential for giving form and power to the spirits of The Gloom. In her reverie of understanding, she places her left hand on its smooth black surface and takes some of it into her body. A small bit of the stone slowly withers beneath her touch and veins of black run through her veins crystallizing her hand and forearm into a onyx skeletal appendage.
A legion of voices echo from all around her, “You understand this stone, don’t you?”.
Hearing the voice of her dark mistress, Mika relies, “Yes, it is power.”
A shadowy being that is a shadow upon the cold mist of The Gloom comes forth and demands, “Where is the Heart of Lir?”
To which Mika can only reply, “Not in my possession.”
Sa-Nah-Gig retorts, “Clearly. I need it, and you have made me a vow. A vow that I promise to reward richly. You can see how far my influence has spread, and know that I can give you what your heart longs for.”
Mika ponders the notion that Sa-Nah-Gig might take her anywhere among the heavens that she so desires, and fights back the conniving presence of Val-Drek’s soul as it tries to convince her to kill Daren to serve the aims of The Homeward.
Once she has control of her thoughts, she humbly asks the Goddess, “Why do you desire the Heart of Lir?”
The Goddess moves towards the Death Stone, seemingly transfixed, and mutters, “It is a means to cheat me that many would use to escape my grasp. All must know the touch of Death.”
Mika braves on last line of questioning while The Goddess seems preoccupied, “But what of my soul and the soul of those that you choose to send back?”
A whisp of Sa-Nah-Gig’s form touches upon the stone, drawing rivulets of the substance into her shadowy form. Slowly, a smokey crystalline arm takes shape, flexing with power.
“Ah, yes.”, she replies, “I choose to keep the useful in my service upon the material plane, and some even find their souls again. You should feel proud Mika, I have chosen you, and placed your soul among the vine choked ruins of The Stargazer’s Temple. It is in a place of great honor.”
Once again, Val-Drek asserts himself, saying to Mika, “We have what we need!”, before forcing her to speak aloud, “Thank You, mistress. Please send me back to do your bidding.”
Sa-Nah-Gig merely replies, “So be it.”, and reaches out and gently pushes Mika, instantly forcing her between planes and depositing her in a vast chamber that is filled with the booming voice of The Master of Dragons.
Towering above all, Gar-Loa-Vox speaks, “Daren, would you have all of your allies die yet again to further your diabolical plans? You could finish this all in but an instant, yet, you continue. What is your goal?”
Malharath studies the words closely as well as the being uttering them and says to Daren, “Either he speaks the truth or he is among the master of liars.”
Lir’s chosen replies matter-of-factually to the dragon, “I have one goal, you know this.”
The ignores the retort and asks, “Daren, do you remember this place? I would guess not, so allow me to remind you. It is a prison, and I plan on using it to save your allies from your lies.”
A hum builds in the massive chamber and lightning erupts from the towers disintegrating everyone, except for Daren.
“Oh, Daren…” Garlic opines, “This is the end of you. You have held the soul of Lir back long enough.”
With that he charges forwards and unleashes his defiling breath…