Skulls and Shackles - PFO

The Maw Of Fire And Blood

After the old hag set before us the agenda, we spent the day trekking through jungle to the westward shoulders of the mountain. I had thought we might find La’Luka and Owlbear in the waterfall cave where we had last seen them, but there was no sign of them there… I think it likely they were spooked by our failure to return last night, and so they may be in hiding elsewhere. In any case, there was nothing we could do, and so we continued on to find the ruined shrine entrance.

I spotted it first, lurking ominously among trees and undergrowth.

The arch which made up the entrance was carved in cyclopean fashion from the living rock of the mountainside such that it was quite obfuscated from any view but a narrow arc in front of the edifice. We found it sealed to our entry, just as the pygmies had. Some manner of magical barrier, it gave off the sensation of a vast iron door, solid and impassive.

I managed to decipher the Celestial inscription which was tied to the spell via a minor magic of my own. It gave instructions for a complex ritual to summon a bound spirit — the means to undo the spell which sealed the entrance. Stehlen demonstrated remarkable faculty and soon began preparations. It is his area of expertise, after all, the conjuring and binding of spirits.

I did feel a mysterious connection with the blood ruby I had been carrying… The way it pulsed with energy when brought near the spot, it was like the beating of a meaty heart, crying out in thirst for blood to nourish it. We all gave of our blood to innervate the ritual. One does not want a powerful spirit to arrive without thorough placation, does one? And the ruby reacted to our mingling sanguine essence.

It was as if a dark soul still thrived therein, hungry, burning — seductive.

There must be a connection between that stone and the spiritual energies which haunt this place, it is too similar a feeling I sensed for it to be a coincidence! Exploring this mysterious quality may prove quite important for my survival in this place, not to mention that it may also provide deeper insight into the Ways of The Craft if I can unravel the secret.

The spirit which responded to the Calling was quite impressive, indeed. I felt, distinctly, that it could lay waste to nations were it not so bound by the power of the spells which called it. It towered over us, wreathed in inky, fiery miasma and cloaked by wings like a shroud of Doom. Before we could speak to it, it turned its back on us and seized the very pillars which bore the seal. Rippling thews and gouts of flame bore witness to the spirit’s strength as it seemed to physically tear the metaphysical barrier apart!

I cannot say what happened precisely for the spells which held the seal reacted with an explosive force so concussive we were blasted away in a heap!

When I returned to my senses, the terrible spirit had vanished and so had the barrier which sealed our path. The ruby stone we had fed with our blood was also gone…

The gaping maw of the mountain yawned, smoking, before us.

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sintaqx AuntTony

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