Keys of Binding, Part Three - Bloodaxe
Having bid farewell to their friends Manzio and Heraclief, the group headed back to crossroads where they had fought Lahm Bas. As Storm led them down the passageway towards the silver doors, Tector head the low, growling voice calling to him once more. “Come to me. Free Me. Wield me!”
Roarc stopped them. “I don’t think this is a good idea,” said the warrior in his lilting accent. “That thing was calling out to Lorcan. There can be nothing good in it.”
“You didn’t hear the prophesy about the Bloodaxe,” replied Tector. “I’m sure it’s in there, and Isabelle de Neville said it was destined for my hand!”
“I still don’t think you should do this,” said Roarc.
Storm looked at the others. “Right, we are going in then,” he stated.
Roarc frowned. “So, you’re just going to ignore me are you?”
Storm looked at him. “No, we’ve considered your view, but we think it would be worth checking what is in here.”
“Besides,” said Tector, “one of the keys might be in there.”
“Alright,” said the dark elf. “If you’re determined, I’ll watch your backs. I just hope you know what you’re doing.”
Storm advanced, keeping the others behind him, and stood before the silver doors.
After studying them for a moment, he opened his mouth wide and exhaled a freezing cloud of dragon breath. The doors were covered in frost. After a few moments, a crack formed down the centre of the double doors, where they joined, and they opened inwards.
Standing on the threshold, Storm saw a square chamber within, thirty feet on a side. At its centre stood a cage formed of steel bars, ten feet on a side, running from floor to ceiling and about three inches apart. The bars sparked with electricity, cracking along their length or arcing between them every second or so.
Within the cage stood a white granite block, three feet tall. A fine greataxe with a runic pattern on its double bladed head was embedded within the block, one of its blades buried deep in the granite.
Storm looked around. The chamber was otherwise empty, save for a pair of iron double doors in the north wall and a pair of bronze doors in the south.
The dragonborn extended his senses into the room, and felt powerful sorcery within, but was unable to discern exactly what abjurations might be in place.
Wary of possible traps, the companions conferred and developed a plan. Storm handed Heraclief’s Ring to Tector, and explained how to use it. The Dragonknight concentrated, activated the ring, and teleported himself into the cage.
Reaching out, he grasped the greataxe in both hands. The voice sounded in his mind once again. “Yes!! Free me! Wield me!!” Bracing his feet widely on the flagstone floor, the big warrior activated his Brooch of Mithras, pulling with all his might as the surge of adrenaline washed through him.
Suddenly the blade of the greateaxe wrenched free of the granite. Tector stumbled back, but managed to catch himself before hitting the bars of the cage. The voice in head sounded again, louder than ever. “Yes, at last! After two long centuries I am free!!” The Dragonknight felt the voice forcing his own consciousness aside, and tried to resist, but to no avail. As the voice screamed “Kill! Kill! Kill!” in his mind, rage possessed the big warrior and he began smashing the greataxe into the bars of the cage in a berserk attempt to cut his way through to his friends.
Shocked at Tector’s behaviour, but not entirely surprised, the companions were grateful that the iron bars stood between them and their friend. As he continued to smash away at the cage, Sophia focused her will on the axe and attempted to dispel the enchantment upon it. She succeeded, although given the power of the axe she was unsure whether it would be a permanent effect; she felt it more likely that she had merely suppressed its magic on a temporary basis.
Suddenly free of the voice’s will, Tector placed the axe on the floor and pushed it through the bars, toward the open silver doors. Storm stepped into the chamber to pick up the axe. As he set foot over the threshold, the floor exploded in a blast of flame that scorched him terribly. He leaped back, out of the room, and Sophia used her healing hands to ease his burns.
Taking a different approach, Storm called upon the North Wind to fly him across the threshold. He was able to grab the axe but could not sustain enough power in the gust of wind to carry him back out. Forced to land, he walked out, taking care to step in exactly the same place as he had when he triggered the firetrap. To his great relief, nothing happened.
Storm walked a few paces down the corridor before sitting with his back against the wall, the axe in his lap. Falling quickly into a trance, he focused his senses on the weapon meditating on the axe, but felt only a faint trace of magic within. He was slowly exploring deeper into the enchantments of the weapon when a sudden cry from Sophia startled him from his trance.
The lady had been standing guard with Roarc when two giant spiders emerged from the darkness, coming from the direction of the crossroads. The larger one, a deep brown bladespider with sharp bone blades on the ends of its legs, advanced down the passageway toward them. The smaller arachnid, a black spitting spider with green acid ichor dripping from its maw, hung back at the edge of the light and launched a glob of acid at Sophia. She swayed aside and it flew harmlessly past, retaliating with an arrow which sank deep into its black hide, while Roarc pinned the bladespider with an arrow before dodging slashes from its leg blades as it advanced.
The spitting spider launched another glob of acid at Sophia, hitting home this time and burning into her side. Luckily she was able to rub it off quickly and avoid being more badly burned. Roarc slashed the bladespider, opening a gash in its abdomen, and deftly parried its stabbing blades.
Putting down the Bloodaxe, Storm moved closer to the fray before unleashing a thunderbolt that blasted the spitting spider apart, its dark blood spattering across the walls of the passageway.
Roarc and the bladespider engaged in a deadly dance, each drawing blood from the other but with the sithe warrior landing the more telling blows. Sophia’s aim was out, and two of her arrows went wide, but Storm’s lighting orbs struck true, the second blasting off one of the bladespider’s legs. Back in the chamber, Tector sighted down his crossbow and loosed his bolt at just the right moment. It flew past his friends and buried itself deep into the bladespider, which spasmed for a few moments before lying still.
While Roarc clearned the spider ichor from his longsword, Tector called on the elemental protection of his Key of Binding, before grasping the bars and pulling them apart with all his might. The lightning crackled and sparked, shocking him repeatedly, but the Key protected him from much of the harm and, after a couple of attempts, he was able to bend the bars sufficiently to squeeze out between them.
The Dragonknight walked out of the chamber and stooped to pick up the Bloodaxe, which was lying near the door where Storm had left it. As he reached for it Sophia noticed and called back down the corridor. “No! Don’t touch that thing!”
Tector ignored his friend, grasping the haft firmly, and was immediately overwhelmed once again by the will of the Bloodaxe. Bellowing in rage, he charged down the passageway at his friends. Sophia was ready, and used her sleep enchantment on the big warrior. His fury helped him resist the full effects of her magic, but it slowed him down significantly. Storm backed off, using his whirlwind to lift Tector into the air, spin him around and slam him into the flagstone floor, leaving him prone. As he struggled to his feet, Sophia used another of her enchantments, forcing aside the raging will of the Bloodaxe and making Tector cast the weapon aside.
The Dragonknight stood, shaking his head, as if waking from a dream. Storm walked over and, after steeling himself for a moment, picked up the Bloodaxe. Immediately his mind was filled by the rasping voice of the weapon. “Kill, kill, kill!!”
Storm resisted its urging, focusing on the strength of his own will. The voice snarled at him “It has been two hundred long years! I need to taste blood!!”
“No,” replied the dragonborn firmly.
“Blood!!!” bellowed the voice in response.
Supressing the spirit of the axe with the force of his will, Storm pressed on. “Who imprisoned you?” he demanded.
“My enemies,” growled the voice. “The elves and danagrim.”
“They were afraid of me. I killed so many of them,” replied the voice.
Storm continued, dominating the hostile spirit. “If you possess my friend again, we will put you back in that cage and trap you for another two hundred years.”
The voice went suddenly quiet, and the sorcerer felt the rage of the weapon recede. Taking a deep breath, Storm strapped the axe to Tector’s back and clapped his friend on the shoulder, before walking along the corridor toward the wary figures of Sophia and Roarc.