Iona, Part One - Reunion
Suddenly Tector stopped falling, and found himself completely submerged in freezing water. Unable to breath, he looked around frantically, and noticed a faint light shining through a solid skin of ice above him. Using his mailed fists, he quickly smashed his way through the ice, and dragged himself out of the pool and onto its surface.
Looking around, the Dragonknight found himself atop a frozen pool of water in the middle of cold, darkened cave. A translucent light emanated from a mirror standing against the back wall of the cave, while opposite he could make out a faint sliver of light, outlining a sealed entrance of some kind.
The Templar could make out a narrow walkway around the pool, and a humanoid figures close to the sealed entrance. It had a face aged and long since dead, with hideous milky white eyes, and skin tattooed with the ancient iconography of the Picts. It held a bible bound in black leather, with a painted white crucifix on the front. With its other hand it clawed at crossbow bolt lodged in its left cheek.
Noticing Tector emerge from the ice, the ancient priest seemed to recognise the Templar cross. Ripping the bolt from his cheek with a strangled scream, it shouted to the big warrior: “A Templar! Brother, to me! Help me defeat this vermin.”
Confused, Tector gasped as he saw his old friend Manzio step from the shadows gathered in the gloom close to the cave wall. They exchanged a shocked grin of recognition, and Tector noticed the Vesuvian was bleeding from several places. Before either could speak, the priest bellowed a word in gaelic. Manzio seemed prepared for the mental onslaught, his open wounds prickling but inflicting less pain than the priest’s original attack.
Ignoring the priest’s command, Tector decided to protect his friend. Still trying to retain his purchase on the ice, Tector loaded his crossbow, loosing a bolt that just missed the rapidly retreating priest.
Just then, Sophia appeared in the icy pool, bursting through the gaping hole left by Tector, and gasping for breath. She scrambled for grip but slipped back, before grasping a large chunk of ice which provided just enough purchase to prevent her falling back into the freezing waters. She hauled herself out of the water and began to scramble away from the hole, unceremoniously crawling across the surface of the ice.
As she did so, Storm burst from the water, flexing his wings and taking to the air, circling the vast chamber. As Sophia steadied herself, Storm took stock of the situation, identifying that his friends were battling the priest. From his high vantage point, he summoned his ice javelins, sending them flying at his foe. The first struck home, pinning the priest’s shoulder to the cave wall, while the second exploded beside its target, showering the priest with icy shrapnel. The last javelin exploded in shards before leaving Storm’s hand, sending icy needles painfully into his outstretched arm.
Furious and now badly outnumbered, the priest ripped the javelin from his shoulder, a bright white light surrounding his body. The intensity was so great that the four friends had to shield their eyes. Peering through their fingers, they saw the priest step forward confidently, turn his bible to a marked page, and once again begins to chant in ancient gaelic.
From the centre of the pool, not far from the hole through which the group emerged, a giant, blazing conflagration of pure white light began to surface, forming a cross which rose rapidly into the air at the centre of the cave. As the group continued to pepper the priest with ranged attacks, now bolstered by Sophia’s magnificent bow and Storm’s devastating sorcery, the cross began to pulsate with a dangerous build-up of energy. Finally, the cross exploded, white light filling the room with extreme heat which blasted the group like a backdraft.
Anticipating the explosion, Tector charged forward, quickly closing the distance between himself and the sealed doorway. Fully committed, he hammered into the door with his left shoulder smashed through a weakened section of a concealed oaken door. The wood and shards of attached stone splintered and then disintegrated under the brutal impact, with first Tector and then Manzio stumbling over the threshold and out onto a sandy beach.
Back in the cave, Sophia and Storm were shocked by the force of the detonation, although Sophia’s Solstice Amulet protected her from the worst of the blast. Firing once again she saw her arrow strike home, as did Storm’s lighting sorcery.
The priest cursed and released a hidden trapdoor in the cave wall, disappearing within, seeming to collapse away from them before a cylindrical stone rolled back into place, sealing this alternative escape route.
Exiting the cave, the group was glad to have left behind the freezing cold, but in truth the weather conditions were little better outside. It was dark, and a swirling, biting wind was blowing in from the ocean, with huge waves crashing onto the cliff face further down the coast. Sophia, Tector and Storm each embraced Manzio in turn, but the freezing conditions curtailed the reunion and they were forced to seek shelter from the elements.
A gentle climb took the group up from the cave and onto the cliff top. Despite the swirling winds, Storm took to the air in the buffeting cold for a quick reconnaissance, and was able to spy the outline of a track leading north, following the coast. Little else could be seen in the darkness, and only a sliver of moonlight allowed sufficient visibility to chart this course.
The dragonborn was about to descend when a sudden burst of violet light caught his eye from the beach, much further down the coastline. A vortex of necrotic magenta and crimson light seemed to cut through the darkness, and from within one, two, three, four, five figures emerged.
The window of excruciating purple light, which even from Storm’s safe vantage point seemed to tug unnaturally at the very fabric of the elements, closed vanished as suddenly as it had appeared. Storm observed that three of the group were moving away from the Fellowship’s position, remaining on the beach, while the other two were moving in a different direction, climbing an unseen pathway onto the coastal path.
Storm returned to the group and described the ‘Hand’ he had seen emerging from the darkness. Sophia, Tector and Storm quickly explained to Manzio why they had been sent to Iona and told him what they knew of the Hand sent by Morrigan to reclaim the Spear of Lugh. For his part, Manzio told a truncated tale of how he arrived on the isle and his quest to find the third Tuatha de Dannan jewel.
With a great deal to consider and the weather growing dangerously cold, the group scouted for shelter but could find none. Instead, they used the snow as protection, wrapping themselves in blankets distributed by Sophia before burrowing into the drifts, away from the winds biting in from the Atlantic. They took turns keeping watch, simultaneously trying to keep some warmth in their shivering bodies. Storm seemed to experience only minor discomfort, whilst the other three passed a fitful night, praying that the snows would relent by dawn.