|The Airship Aurora - Temporary suggestion from the art by Boo1989 - http://digital-art-gallery.com/picture/14452|
The Morning Light
One by one, the surviving hunters come out floating from the sacrificial pit. Among them are Vadis and Adair’s champions, Adair’s dark elf guides and Enia’s elf guides: Robert, Adler, Alexis, Kyflynn, Dar’gum, Sheena, Andreas, Carolyn, Desmond, Agustina, Iris, Eidos, Ney, Baxter and Ellephar. Orlevant fell, Fargothum the minotaur, Akh’mal’s bodyguard also fell, and Paliades turned out to be the heir. Chiel the micha is inside Carolyn’s goodie bag so it is saved and protected from the explosion too. Some of the hunters float too far from the landing path, so the mages use tractor beams to levitate them to safety. The Omnigalatr protective force fields really helped minimize the wounds caused by the explosion. Kyflynn’s plan really worked.
Once all survivors land safely and no more comes from the pit, Hernan shouts, ‘Let’s get out from here before the explosion triggers a chain reaction!’
Without any further ado, the hunters follow Hernan through the floating stone paths above the lava pit where the fire wyrms are entombed inside.
Then they come once again into the engine room. Hernan guides the hunters through the middle path, because he only went through fire pillars and fire elementals there – the easiest path according to him – and this time the hunters ignore the elementals and go through the fire and steam bursts and get no worse than blisters, thanks to Omnigalatr force field.
Suddenly they come across three maintenance probes and ignore them as they are in a hurry, but the probes wail out a deafening siren sound.
‘ALARM! ALARM! DEATHBLADE IS OUT! ENGINE ROOM! EVACUATE! EVACUATE! SELF-DESTRUCTION SEQUENCE WILL COMMENCE IN TEN MINUTES!’
Without waiting for the next alarm, Hernan yells, ‘QUICK! To the exit! GO, GO GO!!!’
Then while running, he looks at Adler still bringing the evil sword Deathblade with him, and Hernan yells at him, ‘Lord Adler! Drop that sword! If you take it to other rooms, it’ll trigger another self-destruction sequence as well! Drop it, I say!
Adler snaps back at Hernan, ‘NO! I’ll keep it no matter what! Otherwise you’ll have to kill me!’
‘No, I won’t kill you, and I don’t want to touch that sword either! You go and guard the back, Viscount! So you can buy time for use before the alarm blares!’
‘I won’t forget this insolence, Don,’ says Adler grudgingly, but he goes to the back of the pack anyway.
And Hernan is right. When the hunters go in the ice generator room, nothing happens. But when Adler comes in with Deathblade, the maintenance probes in the room react and the alarm blares again, giving them another ten minutes to evacuate the ice chambers.
It takes five minutes for Carolyn and Akh’mal the Minotaur Shaman to clear the ice sealing the entrance tunnel with Fireblast and Fire Wall, and another minute for all hunters to go through it. Even with Ney’s help, the hunters don’t have enough time to evacuate the ice chambers. The self-destruction sequence begins before the hunters are halfway to the exit. The Ice Mirrors of Illusion shatter, the stalactites, stalagmites and ceiling collapse. Shards of ice fly and fall upon the hunters, but barely hurt them at all, once again thanks to Omnigalatr force field.
The maintenance probes repairing the five-in-one giant rock golem react upon seeing the Deathblade in Adler’s hand (Oh, man, I knew this will happen again and again, says Hernan) and sounds the alarm. As it is another ten-minute evacuation time before self-destruction, all stone doors in the stone chambers open automatically and they will close again as ten minutes expire.
The hunters rush to the rune room before time runs out, avoiding the rock golems who are active again upon recharging. A few unfortunate hunters become victims in this rush, and those who are lagged behind will surely die.
Almost all hunters arrive at the rune room of the stone chambers in time with Adler being the last one. There are three tunnels in the rune room, two of which were ignored by the hunters the first time they went into this room. Apparently one hunter, a faun with a whip on his hand is staying in the rune room all this time, starving, exhausted, and too scared to go anywhere else.
Robert asks him quickly, ‘My friend, do you know the way out? There’s no way back to the wind tunnels!’
The faun answers Robert timidly, ‘Y-yes, t-t-this one!’ He points to a tunnel on a side of the room. ‘F-follow me! This room is about to collapse!’
The hunters have neither time nor chance to suggest any other way; they all follow the shy and cowardly faun through the tunnel. Adler even sees the entire rune room collapse behind him. Is this faun telling the truth? What if he leads us into a trap?
Adler’s mind rushes in doubt, but he soon finds that his doubt is but a fruit of his character – he tends to distrust and disdain anybody below his rank and prestige – as he comes into an open space. It’s Enia’s Forest of Temptation outside the sanctum entrance. And as Adler comes outside, the nymphs, plants, trees and animals of the forest instantly react, transform into banshees, carnivorous plants and mutants and attack the hunters simultaneously.
Once again the hunters are in a desperate situation, attacked and surrounded by a mob of ever-regenerating monsters, plus they are exhausted and wounded. Although their victory over the heir lifted their fighting spirit and they’re still protected with Omnigalatr field, those things are still not enough to overcome their attackers. As it is impossible to persuade or even kill Adler to make him drop the Deathblade, the hunters fight very hard to push their way through. They are all far enough from the sanctum entrance now, but still too far from the waterfall entrance. They are all going to perish, there’s no more hope left.
Suddenly a flare soars high into the sky. The hunters are surprised and some look back to see the launcher. It was Eidos Crydias. Nobody knows what that flare for, but they soon find out. No less than a minute later, a loud rumbling sound comes from the top left cliff bordering the forest – the sound of propellers and engines.
And there it is, hovering in the sky. It’s some kind of a ship, but it’s nothing like an ordinary ship at all. It’s big, strange-shaped, a mixture of a ship and a dragon. It has big propellers on its top, starboard, port and stern. A huge spoiler is also installed on its stern to make it easier to turn when flying and floating, and keeps the airship stable. It also has four wings, wide and big enough to keep the airship flying. If we look from its bow (or stern), the wings form an X-formation, the function of which is to give more balance to the airship when doing complicated maneuvers like in the air dogfight in modern ages. It is also equipped with twenty cannons on its starboard and twenty on its port, two cannons and one grand cannon on the bow, in the ‘mouth’ of the dragon’s head-shaped figurehead.
‘Behold the Aurora, the Morning Light,’ says Eidos. ‘My masterpiece, my greatest invention, the first battle airship in Eternia. I and Lord Paliades came here with her, and look; she comes down and lowers the ladders to save us. Let’s go!’
The hunters now begin to climb the rope ladders towards the airship. Nobody has a chance to question why Eidos refers to his airship Aurora as ‘she’, because the banshees are now flying upwards to attack the hunters climbing the ladders and the airship.
A banshee throws a hobgoblin headhunter down from the ladder after the headhunter throws his spear through another banshee. And before the banshees take another casualty, the airship crews shoot a shower of arrows and hit most of them. And the banshees who come too close to the cannons are hit by arrows or get blasted by the razor beams from the cannons. The champions are the last ones to climb the ladder, but they are surely the best at banishing banshees and exterminating other monsters, especially those who are trying to pull the ladders to make the hunters and the airship fall to the ground. And as all hunters are on the ladders and aboard, Carolyn shoots a series of Fireballs and Akh’mal another Fire Wall as the last resort to exterminate the assailants. The airship Aurora immediately hovers upwards and is about to turn, to fly away from the collapsing Enia’s Sanctum.
Suddenly Dar’gum sees a most bizarre thing and shouts, ‘Captain! Look! Enia’s statue is moving! It’s about to throw its fireball towards us!’
Dar’gum is right! The left statue of Enia is indeed moving and ready to attack from afar, in front of the airship. The Aurora and the entire people aboard are in danger, and they are about to be destroyed with one shot. This is indeed Enia’s final defense against all who desecrated her sanctum and took the Deathblade out from there.
The statue launches its fireball! It darts towards Aurora like a huge meteor. Suddenly something is glowing on the tip of the Aurora grand cannon, and it blasts a huge razor beam right towards the fireball. And – praise Vadis, says Andreas – the Grand Lightblast hits the fireball, smashes it in pieces! But the great blast of light doesn’t stop there; it goes right towards the statue’s face, and smashes the face in pieces too! The statue is now broken and moves no more, and the statue on the right shows no movement either.
All hunters aboard the airship shout victory, congratulations to airship Aurora and its entire crew and thanks for their rescuing them. The airship Aurora turns again while hovering, its spoiler moves to give balance to the turning.
Eidos moves towards the stairs to the control room as the hunters are watching with curiosity and excitement of what will happen next. After a while, Aurora comes in the right position, its propellers start turning, and it flies away from the sanctum.
More explosions come again from the back of the sanctum entrance, and a huge one comes off far, far away, as though a volcano is erupting. Actually it’s the eruption from the lava room, and it also blew the entire engine room, ice generator room, all the way to the wind tunnels and the sanctum itself. Only the forest and the waterfall entrance seem untouched. Maybe they are reserved for Enia’s true followers to rebuild a new sanctum, a new temple which sole purpose is as the place to worship Enia and her grace for all natural (and supernatural) beings.
Lavennia Iris, one of the elf guides, comments gloomily, ‘I think we ought to build a new temple for Enia. This one is no more, desecrated beyond repair. And we (referring to herself and her fellow elf guides) were guilty for bringing these people to our temple just to defeat the “heir”. And hear me, brothers and sisters. I now banish myself from Thyrine, and I shall not return until I find the way to redeem myself from this guilt. And now… h-hey, HEY! Rob, Carol! Andre! Look there! Under there!’
Andreas comes towards Iris hastily, followed by Robert and Carolyn. Andreas responds Iris’ call in a funny way, ‘What-who-which-where-why?’
‘Look! It’s… It’s Ariel! He’s still alive!’
‘Christopher, you mean?’ says Carolyn, correcting Iris.
‘Ariel! I said his name is Ariel, so he is! And he is… Hey! He’s with another woman! Fighting side-by-side! It’s not fair! CAPTAIN! CAPTAIN!’
Meanwhile, the airship Aurora flies very slowly now, as though it’s searching for more survivors down there and found at least a couple of them. At last it stops into the hovering mode again above an open plain so the crews can scan the ground and search back into the forest more closely. The captain of the ship who is going down the stairs with Eidos is surprised on hearing Iris’ rude calls. Eidos, however, is not surprised at all and goes on to meet the hunters and introduce them to the captain.
‘This is Captain Quazar Gykkos-Assis of Aurora. As you can see he’s a centaur. He has incredible skills: navigating and forecasting by the stars, and excellence in terms of intuition and precision. He can shoot anything with the cannons in this airship just like his own bow and arrow!’
‘Ah, Mr. Eidos, you put too much credit on my account, but after all, you’re the owner of this ship now. By the way, welcome aboard. This is Air Aurora. Our crew will lead you to your decks. Please make yourself comfortable and don’t forget to fasten your seat belts, because this might turn to be a bumpy ride!’
Nobody laughs. This is not supposed to be a joke after all, but as this is the first flight for all hunters but Eidos, the captain’s instructions are enough to make them confused. Iris, on the other hand, is muffled and held by her comrades. She bits Robert’s hand and starts to yell again.
‘CAPTAIN! CAPTAIN! I can’t stand this anymore! I need to come down!’
‘What do you mean by that?’ says Captain Quazar, who was quite distracted by Iris’ behavior that he forgot to give understandable directions to the passengers. ‘Our scouts have found two survivors down there, now we’re lowering the ladder for them to go up, not for you to leave! Are you airsick or something?’
‘No! Grrh, the guy down there is my boyfriend, and now he’s with another woman! I want to go down there and kill him!’
‘Now, now,’ says Eidos. ‘I won’t allow that kind of attitude in my ship. My crew is searching for them now. They must be somewhere within this area. Just take it easy, Miss Iris, and have a rest. You must be as tired as the rest of us, right?’
Iris is about to answer Eidos when Robert cuts in, ‘Please pardon my friend, Sir Eidos, Captain Quazar. She is just eager to meet her boyfriend down there. And we also ask your permission to debark this airship.’
‘What makes you say that, Mr. Robert? Don’t you like the accommodations here? Although this is a battle airship, I’m sure you’ll be comfortable here, don’t worry about that.’
‘Oh, no, it’s not that at all, sir. We would like to join you in this grand and formidable airship, but you see, the man and woman down there are members of my party, so it’s our duty to search for them and take them here, not leaving this matter to your crew.’
‘I see. Well, if you insist on that, Mr. Robert, your group can debark now and search for them. I will stop the search and withdraw my crew. But remember, we only give you half an hour to return here, otherwise we will leave you and your party here.’
‘Thank you, sir. Well, Iris, Carol, Andre, you heard Sir Eidos. We must get going now!’
The prospect of seeing Chris alive, leaving Enia’s Sanctum and completing this mission in full team makes Robert and his party very eager to find and meet their long lost partner. As they climb down the ladder and step on the ground, Robert’s hunting party hastily runs towards the spot in the forest where they last saw Chris.
And there he is, Christopher, pretty much alive but is wounded here and there. The healing salve and potions Christopher brings with him have healed most of his wounds, but now he is fighting a horde of assorted monsters fleeing from Enia’s Sanctum. A woman also fights side-by-side with Chris. Robert tries to recognize that woman, and he is most surprised to find that she is none other than the chubby, plain-looking, but resourceful Yemima Genilda, the witch from Bresconnor.
‘Chris, Genilda! How glad I am to find you here!’ Andreas exclaims happily.
‘Oh, she’s Genilda? I’m relieved now,’ says Iris.
Chris, however, doesn’t return their greetings as gladly and yells, ‘Don’t just stand there, guys! Help us! Look! The next wave is coming!’
Robert warns his team mates, ‘We have to fight-and-run to the plains! We must reach the airship before 30 minutes run out! Incoming!’
Robert’s party and Genilda carry out the hit-and-run strategy on the monsters, killing as many as they can whenever possible, but no matter how hard they fight, when Robert’s party reach the plains, the airship is already gone. Genilda looks at her pocket sand-watch and grunts, ‘Oh no! We’re too late! Now we have to reach a safer place before we can talk and rest!’
Robert responds, ‘Let’s carry on, then!’
And they keep on fighting, but this time they fight harder to annihilate the assailants.
Author's Code: pg343/354 rev3 may08