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Friday, October 31, 2008 The Armor of Righteousness - Part 1

After dropping Cristophe’s team off in the Griffin Cliff, the Aurora picks Alexis’ team up in the halfling village Ekinmor in Edel. Alexis’ group is not in tip-top condition though Andreas and Chiel’s healing spell halved the ship healers’ work. All the champions do is resting and then replenishing their stock of healing and spirit potions for later use.
Dejan Pavlovic the halfling animorpher joins the group for his new task: To watch over the Greaves of Diligence and make sure anyone ‘borrowing’ it will return it eventually. There are two other reasons of Dejan’s coming, which are to test his abilities in new adventures, and to travel and see the wide world because staying in the village as an outcast will be boring and lonely for him.
Wearing the powerful new greaves, Alexis feels faster, better and stronger than before. The weight of his full plate armor doesn’t bother him anymore, and he is confident on the next quest to claim the Armor of Righteousness.
Due to injuries, Hernan and Carolyn are resting in the airship infirmary. Of course Carolyn feels extremely uncomfortable being in the same room alone with this flirt. Fortunately, Hernan is still too weak to even move a muscle as he is recovering from severe wounds. Father Andreas and Carolyn’s pet, Chiel the micha continually apply healing magic treatments as well as medicines during the flight, to ensure there’s no infection and permanent damage on the champions.
The flight from Edel to the mountainous kingdom of Castoria in the southern part of Regia Confederation takes all night, and no discussion between Captain Quazar and Alexis about the stars since the Red Prince sleeps during the flight.
A knock on the cabin door wakes him up.
‘Prince Alexis, we are about to land in the mountain village, our next stop,’ the stewardess’ voice comes. ‘The champions will gather on the deck in fifteen minutes.’
‘Thank you,’ Alexis responds, and since he slept with his armor on, he only washes his face, prepares his weapons and supplies, and walks to the deck.
He joins the other three champions as the guide angel comes aboard and announces, ‘We land here in Kparev Village, and I will guide the ship back to Halethia and pick up Team Cristophe, then return here, pick you up and fly back to Yvais. The ship will refuel petra oleum in Klosser, so we might come back late. Well, finishing your quest is the most important thing, so once again I say, good luck!’
One hour later, the champions find themselves walking out of Kparev Village to Mount Urzaghi with Dejan and a guide. Due to tension, they don’t talk at all during the mountain climb. They only have one clue, that the Armor of Righteousness is hidden in the Lava Caves of Ougl Urzaghi – a labyrinth cavern with numerous monsters and guardians inside – not to mention lava pits and extremely tricky paths.
To their wonder, the entrance of the cave is like the open jaws of a dragon – man-made to represent warning and threat rather than secrecy. So few heeded that warning, and none of those who came in ever came out. Fume and smoke come out from that entrance like dragon breath, telling everyone to keep out or suffer the consequences.
This overall situation makes the champions prepare themselves with Omnigalatr mass-protection field and walk in formation into the cave to anticipate surprise attacks. The quick and nimble Dejan walks as scout in front. The forceful Alexis handles frontal attack and the versatile Hernan handles the back and flanks. Carolyn handles long-range and magic attacks and Andreas handles magic support.
The heat from the ever-burning lava and brimstones makes Alexis and his team sweat all over. It’s hotter than a desert, bringing temptations to quench their thirst from their water bottles every minute and every step of the way.
Andreas, the least athletic of the five sweats the most and quickly gets tired. He is about to reach his water bottle when he sees a shadow moving like wildfire. The dwarf priest warns the others, ‘Careful! I think I saw a monster went past.’
‘Yeah, I saw that too,’ says Carolyn, wiping cold sweat on her forehead with the sleeve of her witch robe. ‘Better get ready...’
‘WATCH OUT! Behind you!’ Hernan shouts.
Carol instantly swings her trident backwards and blocks the fire blast coming to her. The fire gets deflected, and it lands not far from her. The fire stops moving, revealing its true form: a salamander*), and it’s not alone. Five more come and attack them with Salamander Fire Pounce and Mushroom Fireballs.

(* Fire Salamander is a fire elemental version of the original, common salamander, one of the biggest lizard species in the world. It looks like a comodo dragon and is as big as a crocodile.

With his condition reaching sixty percent fit, Hernan Parvaez is indeed the nemesis of any fire monster with series of his water-based moves: making a salamander shish-kebab with a single thrust of Seafarers’ Overture, blocking and neutralizing a Fire Pounce with Whirlpool Polonaise sword rotation defense and counters with the cascade-pattern slash combo called Dances in the Cascades, making neat diagonal slices like salamander sushi. Never before Hernan looks so spirited, like this is his finest hour.
Carolyn, on the other hand is the most disadvantaged one. She only uses a lightning-based spell on a salamander, but it didn’t inflict much damage to it. One salamander even bites her trident Esthagar before Alexis comes and cuts the lizard into three with his twin black-and-white swords.
The priest Andreas perfectly defends himself from the salamanders, and when he swings his magic poleaxe to retaliate, the big lizard wades and runs away, leaving a portion of its tail like common lizards do. The tail wiggles on, arousing curiosity from anyone near it. However, Andreas does another thing instead. ‘Eleviant!’
He levitates the wiggling tail and throws it far away from the champions. And the tail explodes!
No sweat. I taught about these things in Valanis, he thinks with his usual smile.
The last salamander pounces on Dejan. The halfling evades it with a somersault. The monster goes past under him and goes on to flee, but it stops dead midway, blood sprouting from its head all the way along its upper body. Dejan just walks away, licking his bloody sharp nails already blackened with much blood.
‘That’s Dejan when he goes all beastly,’ says Andreas, shrugging, walking along with the others back in formation.
Further in and deeper underground, the path becomes more hazardous. Narrow paths with chasms or walls on the sides, pits and holes to jump across and various monsters inhabiting this cavern present an ultimate test of physical and mental strength for the champions and an exciting challenge for Dejan.
Andreas almost falls into a chasm as he cannot jump far enough, but he’s saved by Carolyn’s Levitation spell. This works every time, but not in the vast lava pit they’re facing now.
‘Don’t expect this as an illusion like in Enia’s Sanctum,’ says Hernan. ‘If you want to jump in, be my guest. But I’d rather give up and take a detour.’

(author's note: pg 61-64 of chapter13 file)

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