The discovery that the magic orrery revealed visions of the past added a new dimension to the party’s explorations. Entering the next room, they found 2 wraiths that they quickly destroyed, then shined the orrery’s light into the room to see King Xin become enraged with several emissaries, entombing them in crystal prisons, and then those tortured souls devolving into wraiths over agonizing millenia.
The party waited until the symbols of insanity would have worn off, then returned to the room where they had fought the shining, emaciated children. As they entered the room, Milacent told the spellcasters, “These things float in the air, someone cast a fly spell on me.”
Her request was lost, however, in the flurry of activity that followed. Scratchy, invisible, set off to one side to prepare to shoot at the creatures. Zelcor put up a Wall of Force to divide the enemies in two. Theodora started firing off magical attacks. Helanda charged in, jumped on the table, and began slashing at a shining child that hovered just above it. Milacent figured that was a good thing to do and followed suit. “Come up behind me and cast Fly“, she shouted back at Theodora.
One of the shining children fell, hacked to death by Helanda and Milacent. One of the two surviving children flew straight up to the ceiling, thirty feet above, and fired magic bolts at the fighters below. Zelcor summoned strange, flying elf-like creatures to attack it, while the party shot at it with missile weapons. Milacent knew there was a better way, however, and yelled at Theodora, “I need to fly! Now!”
The second shining child dropped, and Zelcor’s summoned creatures flew beneath the Wall of Force, then up into the air to attack the last one. It tried to cast a spell, but Scratchy shot it, breaking its concentration and causing its spell to fail. It then increased its brightness to blinding levels, but the party was prepared this time and shielded their eyes. It rocketed up to the ceiling, and Zelcor’s creatures followed it. “Theodora!” Milacent yelled as the priestess rushed up to her and began intoning the words of the Fly spell. Milacent looked anxiously toward the ceiling, where the shining child was being rent by the summoned creatures and shot repeatedly with arrows. Finally, the spellcasting was complete, and Milacent shot upwards … just as the shining child fell to the ground, dead.
A cry of “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!” reverberated through the palace.
As glad as the party was over clearing out the level, it was also clear that they were running low on spells and needed to rest somewhere. Since they appeared to be trapped inside, they decided they would use a Rope Trick spell to set up an interdimensional space in one of the smaller rooms in the workshop upstairs, then rest in there, hopefully beyond the reach of the blue apparition that kept on harassing them. Before they did so, however, there was one more thing they wanted to do.
Taking the orrery, they went to all the rooms they’d visited so far, hoping to catch glimpses of the king in the past. In the room with the shining children, they saw many years of sumptuous banquets pass in minutes, with the king collapsing at least twice, only to be revived by the power of the Sihedron. There were other scenes of scholarly activity, of worshippers before the statue of Lissala, and the king himself building various constructs in the laboratory, including an iron golem apparently keyed to the amulet that the party had already found. The room with the magical instruments played a harmonious, pleasing symphony when illuminated by the magical light, but the most informative visions were in the rooms they saved for last.
In the upstairs spellwell, the one devoted to the school of evocation, they saw the king toiling in a series of vaults, each apparently lined in plates forged from one of the seven skymetals. As each vault was completed the skymetals stored within were used to craft strange guardians, weapons, armors, and devices. While the vaults themselves had no entrances or exits, Xin traveled between them via a Sihedron rune engraved in the the ground, teleporting from one to another in specific sequences by a touching a tine of his Sihedron crown to the matching tine of the rune on the ground. As the party watched, the vaults shook and shuddered for a brief instant, then were still again as centuries passed in a heartbeat. The seven runelords appeared in momentary flashes, trying and failing to bypass the king’s wards, then finally the walls shook and cracked one more time in a cataclysmic earthquake before the vision ended.
The vision was fascinating, but the palace had one more in store for the party before they went to rest. At the door before the room with the Sihedron rune in the floor, Zelcor held the orrery aloft and commanded its light to flare to full daylight once again. They were greeted with the sight of Xin, pacing back and forth before a very familiar-looking group of seven exquisitely dressed court wizards, an army of retainers and handmaidens behind them.
“Leave us!” the king commanded, and the retainers scurried away, leaving only him and the seven behind. “The Shoanti tribes refuse to break antiquated oaths. The Varisians refuse to share their ancestral lands. Can civilization not eclipse old ways? Why do they not heed their emperor?”
“Your grace’s wisdom is vast,” one of the wizards began, “but our emperor’s time is too precious for such trifles. Perhaps we …”
He did not finish, for the king disappeared with an eldritch flash, reappearing before his apprentice with his aging hand clutching the wizard’s throat, wreathed in arcane fire. “And what would you do, Xanderghul?” he sneered, “Rule in my stead?”
A staggeringly beautiful woman laid a calming hand on Xin’s outstretched arm. “We mean only to administer your justice, your grace – to ease the heavy burden of your rule.” And with that the king released his grip on his gasping assistant.
“I have taught you well, Sorshen,” he told the woman, then turned to the others as they all prostrated themselves before him. “Are you not all my devoted disciples? You have always served me faithfully. Perhaps it is time you served me further.” He turned his back on them, and the vision faded as the seven regained their composure with malevolent smiles.
Theodora scratched her chin as she pondered the meaning of what she had just seen. Scratchy, on the other hand, just yawned. “Now that that’s done,” he said, “let’s go get some rest.”