Milo hadn’t been heard from in a day and they had no leads on his whereabouts. Another check of Aleera’s deck of cards told the party that they had very little time to save the people of King’s Crest and in turn the rest of Novos. They began their day by asking for a map of the city from the old artisan and mapped out quadrants to search for Milo in. They were in the middle of their planning when Kaladrax stopped talking mid sentence and looked off into the distance.
The entire party stopped talking and looked at him in silent worry. After a few moments he looked back at the group with clear eyes. He told them that Malthazar had sent him a magical message, an invitation to the dwarven regent’s manor to talk. Kaladrax said they had to go. Not only was it clear that Malthazar knew where they were, he could also harm the old dwarf for sheltering them. They had to step into the trap, they had already been caught.
Instead of going out to search for Milo they had to prepare for this “dinner”. They had to be confident enough that Milo could escape or get himself out. They got ready. Aleera concealed several things on her person should they need them, but her biggest weapon was her dancing anyways. After they were set, they headed out to the Manor in style.
When they arrived, the guards parted to let them through and, surprisingly, no one was hurt. They proceeded through the large foyer into a cavernous study. Aleera had to touch down on land since her blessing only worked while she was out in the open air. In the center was a simple but comfortable chairs and table set.
On top of the oaken table was a gorgeous group of Dragonchess pieces. The white side consisted of delicate, carved marble pieces. They were so lifelike in their design as to mimic movement. The black was an equally delicately carved obsidian that seemed to draw the very light into itself.
Malthazar acknowledged Kaladrax’s arrival with a deep nod and waved the group in. He motioned for Kaladrax to join him on the two chairs, apologizing for the lack of additional seating but not really seeming to care. The two former friends began to play. Mentor fought mentee in a battle of strategy and mind games.
They exchanged pleasantries at the outset of the game and moved on to what they were really here for. Malthazar wanted Kaladrax on his side. The rest of the group was welcome to join but it was not necessary. Kaladrax was the real prize here. He spoke of power and strength as his queen pushed forward relentlessly. Down went Kaladrax’s pawns and knights. Bishops were lost and Rooks destroyed. At one point it looked like he might get the upper hand but Malthazar had had decades to hone his play. In a few more swift, relentless moves Kaladrax’s white king fell.
The party had no chance to react. As the white king fell, an opening appeared below them and down they went. Kaladrax ran over to look into the darkness of the hole, hearing the screams of his friends as they fell to their deaths. He turned to Malthazar to protest when the man grabbed him by the robe collar and held him balanced over the edge of the chasm. He growled at Kaladrax,
“Join me, student. She promises power. The power to never have to see your loved ones die. To never have to die yourself.”
Kaladrax looked at his fallen mentor in abject sadness and shook his head. With a grimace of pain and anger, Malthazar thrust his hand forward and let go. Kaladrax fell in silence looking his former friend and confidant in the eyes until the darkness swallowed him whole. He fell for a long time and then there was nothing but pain then darkness.
He awoke to find his friends around him. Kariss was working to heal his wounds and Aleera was looking at him with worry in her eyes. When he was well enough to sit up he asked where they were. It was a huge cavern with no end in sight. They had walked a little ways out but didn’t want to stray too far from each other. They had not seen any walls on their excursions. They were saying this when there was a commotion from above.
The hole opened again and a small bundle was thrown down, falling into the darkness. The party ran towards the falling projectile but when they got to the place where it should have landed, there was nothing there. Aleera had hoped that it was Milo and, when she said as much, was met with nods by the others. With nothing left to do and no visible way to escape they made a loose plan to explore the cavern for a way out.
Kaladrax and Aleera both cast their light spells allowing the party a much improved radius of vision. They picked a direction and made their way forward hoping to find a wall and work their way around or through from there. They had been walking for a few minutes when they heard a loud roar from somewhere ahead and stopped dead in their tracks. Something was waiting for them, something huge.