Good day, ladies and mentalmen. It is two hours past the very black of the night, so without further ado, I present the next installment of the Passage of the Planeswalkers.
The group looked the skinny wizard up and down. He was the newest member to have joined their rag-tag Planeswalker party.“Is that a bathrobe?” asked Rathalohse. He was toying with a new, powerful compound longbow.“Yes. Yes it is,” replied Wizard Wolfenight. He was a young fellow and seemed oddly at ease with his state of undress.“You’re just going to wear a bathrobe through the gates of Lisseth?” asked Mange, a very confused look on his small, pinched face.“No. Of course not,” replied Wolfenight.“That would be far too silly,” agreed Jet-Ulfgar, who was sitting nearby, sharpening his axe.“Yes, which is why I’m wearing my hat too!” said Wolfenight, indicating the pointed wizard’s hat perched upon his head. Lereahl, who was skulking in the shadows nearby, simply face palmed.Stepping through the crystal gates of Lisseth was quite familiar now to our ill-assorted companions. The white magic pulled them through the irrational, blinding white ether, dumping them all unceremoniously in a pile at the other end.“Ow. That’s my ear,” moaned Rath.“Sorry,” replied Jet, removing the offending elbow.The group picked themselves up, untangling Mange’s harpoons from Lereahl’s new crossbow. Once they had sorted themselves out, they were able to take in their surroundings. They were standing in a perfectly square room. The floor, walls and ceiling were of the same perfectly polished green stone. There was a corridor ahead of them, with a bright light at the end. After checking the room cautiously, they ventured down the hallway.“Go towards the light…” whispered Rath, jokingly.This hallway opened out into a great, pentagonal shaped room. The ceiling was lost in darkness and the walls were of blue tinted glass. Behind the glass were thousands upon thousands of creatures. Creatures that looked humanoid, but that were horribly changed. Some had the head or hands of animals, others had mutated, disfigured features, some had horns or spines or glowing eyes – some had no eyes at all. There was a low buzzing, roaring noise that ceased immediately when the companions stepped into the centre of the room. Every single one of the near-human creatures turned to look at the travelers. They raised their weapons only to find themselves no longer looking past blue glass.The pentagonal room had vanished completely. The ground under their feet was now soggy and marshy. Trees with low hung branches surrounded them and thin slivers of white mist curled between the leaves. Spotted through this now wide landscape were thousands of headstones.“Er… Either I just dropped acid, or we’re suddenly in a really bad place,” said Wolfenight, now aiming his staff at the four, misshapen, discolored creatures that shambled from the shadows of great tombstones. Mange, being Mange, was the first into battle with a piercing war cry. Unfortunately, all the smaller ghouls turned upon him. The first ghoulish creature’s arm fell to the ground at the behest of the halfling’s great sword. Rotten black blood began to dribble from the wound. The rest of the creatures piled upon the halfling, one managing to get its teeth into him. The beast’s bite was enough to paralyze Mange.Wolfenight recovered well after the group’s second, sudden displacement of the day and sent a blast of white light into another ghoul, flooring it with a squishy thud. Rath went into action too, wielding his new longbow with ease. Fitting an arrow to the string, he took out another of the ghouls which already had a bolt in the shoulder, courtesy of Lereahl.At this point, Jet was accosting the largest of the ghouls. Lately, he’d begun to favour rushing his enemies with his large, spike shield. This was only useful once, after that, there was no room to ram again, and his battleaxe swung into play instead.Wolfenight, with no more magic to throw at the time, decided to simply rush up and clout one of the zombies on the head with his staff. He was unfortunate enough to run right into Rath’s line of fire. The ranger’s sharp arrow pierced him in the shoulder. Wolfenight turned around, fuming.“You shot me!” he yelled.“You got in the way!” snapped the ranger.“But you shot me!”Outraged, Wolfenight ran up to the ranger and clouted him too on the head with his staff.“Ow,” muttered Rath, rubbing his ear for the second time that day. Suddenly he pushed Wolfenight out of the road, drew an arrow swiftly and finished off the last ghoul as it was about to go for the paralyzed Mange’s throat. With a great roar, Jet beheaded the last ghoul.Mange groaned and sat up as the group stopped to rest and share some candy around. The mist swirled eerily around the five companions. Suddenly, as quickly as it had appeared, the damp graveyard disappeared. They were back in the pentagonal room, thousands of quasi-humans behind blue glass, all watching them intently. There was a new sound now – a roaring, thunderous applause. The travelers looked around in surprise.“I get it now. This is some sort of arena… We just finished a bout, which means…” The five turned around as a large chest materialized behind them.“Prizes!” they all yelled and dove forwards to collect their spoils.They were now standing on a peaceful, grassy hill with a large rocky cairn at the top. A sweet breeze blew around them, rippling the soft grass. There seemed to be nothing around. Lereahl’s eyes were the sharpest though and he was the first to spot the large leather sack. Hurrying up to it, Jet was a bit overexcited. Without thinking, he jumped on the leather bag, eager for more treasure. Whatever was in the bag was definitely not treasure, and was quite offended at having been stood on. Shaking its great mane and snarling menacingly, a dire wolf stepped out onto the grassy hilltop.“Oh,” said Jet.“Puppy!” cooed Wolfenight.The wolf howled. There was a great rumbling. What they had mistaken for a cairn moved, and then with surprising speed, stood up.“Er. Yes. Puppy. A giant’s puppy,” mumbled Wolfenight, quickly backing away.The giant roared. The sound was earth shattering, but not as shattering as the vibrations caused when it swung its huge club. The club that was practically a dead, uprooted tree left a crater where the companions had just been standing. The wolf raced after Jet.“Bad puppy!” yelled Wolfenight. “Bad dog! No! You sleep now!” A bolt of purple lightning shot from the wizard’s staff with a few more choice words, hitting the great grey wolf in midair. The huge beast slumped forward, fast asleep.Mange meanwhile was flying towards the giant’s patella. With a great slash to the giant’s knee, he dropped to the ground, and was promptly bashed twice over the head with the huge club. This effectively drove him two feet into the soft dirt and knocked him out as cold as one would expect from being hit with a tree.The rest of the group had already begun firing whatever they had at the enormous creature. Right before Jet prepared to charge at the beast, he and Rath locked eyes over the battlefield. Something passed between the two. On the other side of the hill, Lereahl straightened up, looking around curiously.“My sexy senses are tingling…” he muttered to himself.Jet charged the giant, slashing vicious swathes in its ankles.“This is not working!” cried Lereahl as a bolt ricocheted off the giant’s tough skin. He went to reload, only to have the string snap. Mange struggled out from the hole he’d been pressed into and rolled gently down the hill to the half-elf’s feet. Lereahl bent down and with a swift motion, pulled a potion of healing from his pack and tipped it into the little barbarian’s mouth.“You’re right! We have to stop him moving,” growled Jet as the giant roared and took a swing at him. When Mange was back up on his feet, he took a harpoon from his pack and aimed it at the giant’s legs.“Guys, I have an idea…”Jet ran, puffing, around the giant. The enormous creature roared and followed him, tangling the lines further around its legs. It swung several times, but missed. The beast was growing furious at not being able to hit the stocky dwarf. Jet banged his axe on his shield, further taunting the giant.“Hey! You! Your mother was a whetstone!” he yelled, garnering him another blow of the huge club.“Now pull!” Mange yelled. The other three grabbed the ropes wrapped around the giant’s legs and pulled. Slowly, incredibly, the beast toppled forwards onto one knee. With another heave, the giant collapsed onto its back. There was another, closer roar. The dire wolf had woken up. Hackles raised, it took a flying leap, knocking Wolfenight to the ground, pinning him beneath huge paws. With a roar of his own, Jet came charging up and bashed the wolf solidly in the chest. Wolfenight, in his panicky wriggle out from under the wolf’s paws, head butted it in the nether regions. As it was then rather incapacitated, Jet was able to pin it to the ground with his shield and snap the beast’s neck.Lereahl sailed through the air and rolled to a stop, coughing and moaning. The grounded giant was still flailing dangerously. As Mange approached it, sword aloft, it was able to smush him again into the dirt. From then on it was a confused frenzy of healing the nearly dead halfling and watching in amazement as Jet finished off this huge creature too.A short rest later, and they then found themselves standing in a hot, dry wind. All around them was the soft sound of sand drifting and falling in a vast desert. They were ready with their weapons this time, not fooled by the apparent lack of danger. Fifty yards away there was a strange disturbance among the dunes. Everyone turned to face it. There was a weird hissing sound as the sand fell away and something dark rose from the dunes. Glittering in the harsh sun, shaking sand from its leathery wings was a huge blue dragon. It shook its head, and then turned intelligent, sparkling blue eyes on the five. It considered them for a moment. Wolfenight, knowing that dragons were extremely clever creatures, lowered his staff.“What are you doing?” hissed Mange as he stepped forward slightly.“Hello over there!” the wizard called to the dragon. “We would very much appreciate it if you didn’t attack us. In return, we shall not attack you-” The gangly wizard’s words were cut off very abruptly as the dragon smiled and unleashed a blazing bolt of white lightning at him from the horn on its head. Wolfenight turned back to them, now smoking and frizzy haired.“Well,” he said with a cough of smoke, “Diplomacy has obviously failed.”The ranged fighters were slowly backing over the dunes, getting more and more frustrated as the dragon’s scales simply deflected each and every one of their arrows. Mange and Jet were up under the dragon’s feet, stabbing and hitting wherever they could. Wolfenight, out of magic after singeing the dragon’s toes with a fiery spell, was simply holding armfuls of healing potions, dancing madly around and feeding them to the fighters as they were needed. The dragon roared as an arrow finally pierced its neck, bent down and snapped up the dwarf. But Jet refused to be swallowed by the beast. Instead, with a feat of manly strength, he pried the dragon’s jaws off and fell from its mouth, sprawling in the sand and rolling down a dune. The dragon seemed to grimace. Maybe dwarves tasted bad. Mange however was still raging away at the creature’s forepaws. However, the dragon looked lazily at the halfling, and with a smirk and swat of its tail and claws, he was down too.Lereahl and Rath looked at each other. This dragon would surely kill them. Most of their attacks weren’t even penetrating the beast’s armored hide. Mange and Jet were on their last legs. Wolfenight had no legs to speak of.“Guys! We’re not going to make it!” Rath shouted to the others. Mange ducked another swipe of the dragon’s claws and then rolled to avoid its tail.“Sure we are!” he yelled back.“We’re really not,” said Lereahl. “I’m not dying out here in this wasteland. I’m too pretty and you know it!”Jet, who had paused to get his breath back, could only nod at this statement.“He is a formidable opponent, but just not this day,” added Rath. The ranger and the half-elf vanished in puffs of white and purple smoke, letting the ether draw them back through the gates of Lisseth.“Well, that means I’m out of here,” declared Wolfenight, vanishing too.Jet looked to where Mange still danced and poked and prodded the great dragon.“They’re right Mange. I too shall leave this admirable beast in peace, and those monsters behind the glass to find new entertainment,” said the dwarf and then he was nothing but smoke.Mange glared out at the empty desert, his brow furrowed in rage. With a final scream of frustration and a last swipe at the dragon’s belly, he too vanished.