“For now I must focus on our oathsworn mission. We must find and retrieve the Orb of Lermia. At least we now know where to go… If the lich can be believed, the orb is to be found on the island of Ierendi. And that is our next intended destination.”from Revelations at Azan Gedat
We left the forlorn and abandoned halls of Azan Gedat with heavy hearts, but filled with resolve too. For the first time in weeks, our goal seemed clear. Through the woodlands of my kin, we headed to the coast, then south along the sea road to Dixxon’s home town of Robert’s Landing.
(But not before annihilating our bitterest enemy to-date — the band of Black Fist assassins who maimed and tortured me weeks earlier. Who killed Aramil outside Talon Harn. They thought to ambush us at Azan Gedat, but it was their blood and guts drowning the earth and painting the rocks at the knees of the mountain. Even that silver-haired drow, whose name I never knew, met her end at Aramil’s hands. Two massive blows was all it took; may her dark soul be cursed for all days.)
From Robert’s Landing, we took a free trader ship to the island of Ierendi. A nimble little ship, the Black Kestrel. She conveyed us to the pirate town of Freeport in three days. In Freeport harbour, we docked in the shadow of Stormkeep, a stone tower rising out of the waters.
And then the fun began.
The people of Ierendi were mainly pirates, sea elves and slaves, as far as we could tell. Freeport bristled with weapons and swam in booze. We had a fair idea of where the Orb of Lermia might be found, but not a clue how we would steal it, let alone make our escape.
We stumbled around the town for a while, Aramil and I attracting just the wrong kind of attention. Until eventually he, Brosia and I found ourselves, lured by a desperate hope for information, in the cellar of the Blue Dolphin Inn, invited to secret meeting.
An elf slave called Virondel was there. He begged us to expedite the delivery of a message to his lost love, a human woman in Rivermeet. There seemed to be something else on his mind… but we’d reached a stalemate, neither party daring to speak plainly.
Then somehow it all came out. He revealed he was part of an underground slave resistance on the island. We revealed we’d come to steal the orb — needed to defeat dark forces rising in the west. (By the stars, we were putting a lot of faith in the prophecies of Labelas.)
Virondel then said he would help us in exchange for our aid in freeing all the slaves on the island. I might have blinked in surprise — but of course we agreed. Would have agreed even without his pledged aid.
How could we refuse?
By this time we knew the Orb of Lermia was in the possession of an old sea elf known as the Stormwitch. She used the orb from the pinnacle of Stormkeep to fend off wild sea storms — or possibly bring them, when she felt so inclined.
She was atop the tower at that moment, in fact. The eerie glow proclaiming her work.
Virondel said a great storm was brewing, likely to peak the following day. The Stormwitch would remain with the orb atop the tower until it passed. He told us the only access to the tower was a portal in her chambers within the pirate palace. If we helped free the slaves, he would give us a magic key.
The slaves on Ierendi, Virondel told us, were controlled in monstrous fashion. Each wore a slave collar that doled out pain and death, powered by a stone known as the Eye of Lagran. This glowing red stone was embedded atop the Temple of Namtar (God of Death), which is on the Island of the Dead to the west of the town. We needed to infiltrate the temple and deal with the stone — but, because of its link to all the slaves, we needed to nullify its power before stealing it.
Oh, and we also needed to deal with about fifty highly trained monk fighters. Unless we could sneak past them. (Which we couldn’t.)
Temple of Namtar
The storm built all the following day, kept in check only by the Stormwitch’s control over the orb. We made our move in the dark of night.
Despite our best efforts at sneaking, the monks clearly knew we were coming. That may have been due to some of their spies following us around town as we finalised our plan. We rowed our magic folding boat to the temple and climbed over the walls; but when we got inside, a phalanx of monks waited to defend their temple.
Looking back, it’s hard to believe we pulled this off. There were just five of us. The Eye of Lagran, our target, was fixed high in the air over the roof of the temple. It glowed a ghastly red, having just been charged by sacrificial blood. Spiral stairs led up to a trapdoor in the ceiling — and between us and the staircase were the monks.
When Alek and Dixxon started fighting in the foyer, Aramil, Brosia and I were still invisible. I leapt onto the temple wall using spider climb and made my way across the ceiling towards the trapdoor. Aramil flew up with Brosia. Between the three of us, we carried the four explosives Virondel had given us to bring down the structure holding up the Eye.
The monks on the ground realised what we were doing when Brosia opened the trapdoor and set off an energy pulse. Some of them hurtled up the stairs towards us, but somehow we held them off. Aramil returned to the battle below, leaving Brosia and me to set the explosives. After it went boom, Brosia managed to grab the fallen and extinguished Eye before it toppled to the ground. We shoved it into a lead case Virondel said would block its power.
Down below, the battle was almost over. By the time we descended, only a few monks remained. The Grand Master was dispatched and the Temple of Namtar was ours.
We didn’t hang around, though. Our night was not yet done.
At the Seaweed Inn, we exchanged the lead-encased Eye for the key to the Stormwitch’s chambers, along with instructions for getting into the palace. Then we headed back to the town to infiltrate the palace.
By arrangement, as soon as the power of the Eye failed, the slaves in the resistance had revolted. The town had erupted into chaos beneath the gathering storm, with armed pirate guards trying to restore order. We circled around the outside of the town walls, past the docks and the King’s Wharf, to a side entrance. It was no problem to dispatch the guards (that night my friends and I did much dispatching), enabling us to enter the palace by a back door.
In the midst of the harbour, the glowing summit of Stormkeep lit up the night.
Unfortunately we didn’t have sufficient magic to make us all invisible. Once inside the palace, we ended up fighting our way up the stairs to the Stormwitch’s chamber. I seem to recall there were a couple of minotaurs and many pirates. It’s all something of a blur now. We made it, though, to the Stormwitch’s chamber, which opened easily enough with the key we’d been given.
Inside, we activated the portal and crossed through to the top of Stormkeep tower.
The wind howled. Jagged lightning split the dark sky, rocking the tower with its thunderous growl.
The Stormwitch was there, her hands on a glowing crystal ball resting atop a plinth. Controlling the storm. She was doing nothing wrong, merely trying to divert catastrophe from the waters. Ought we have asked her to give us the orb? It would have been a wasted breath. Can we justify what happened next by the oaths sworn to blessed Labelas?
We needed the orb to defeat the darkness. We needed the orb and we took it.
She was not unguarded, but two sea elves with tridents were no match for us that night. It was over quickly. A mere skirmish. We bundled the orb in a blanket and stuffed it into Aramil’s backpack.
We’d always known that escaping Ierendi with the orb would be difficult. From the top of Stormkeep, we saw the town alight with fire and somewhere a gong was being struck. The chain was being lowered across the mouth of the harbour to prevent any ships leaving.
Fortunately, the Black Kestrel was already out at sea, brave against the rising storm. We’d arranged to meet her in Shipwright’s Cove to the south of the town — but getting there looked to be impossible. We’d have to go back through the palace. Instead, we decided to use our folding boat to aim for the northern beacon.
Dixxon translocated to the ship to advise Captain Pilo of the new plan, and the rest of us struck out across the seething water. With the storm whipping up around us, it was a harrowing journey.
By some miracle, the Black Kestrel found us and her crew bundled us onto her decks, then we made haste for the mainland, the storm raging at our heels.