19: The Vault of Ka'Azalin
Master Martin’s team was the last to reach the center of the vault. All paths lead here. A large underground cavern, hundreds of feet high and a thousand feet across. Three bridges that came meet in the center: a Massive round steel and stone sphere, 100 feet in diameter. A narrow 10-foot ledge surrounded the sphere’s outer ledge. The teams did their jobs. They encountered traps and monsters along the way, and each team defeated the enemies. Some even found some rather interesting treasures left behind by other groups who did not win against the warp pack demons.
Master Hoko, Master Raven, and Master Martin met with the massive Iron Sphere base groups. “Well, this is it.” Master Hoko spoke, “It is time.” Andrea nodded and headed over to what looked like a door. A number of the rogues had already been inspecting the large black metal door; it was as big as the entry door.
Andrea stood before it, lowered her head, closed her eyes, and began concentrating. Time passed. The assembled group frustration grew with the wait time.
Charmeine approached Master Hoko, “I don’t think we can open this door. I have seen a door like this before at the Great Cathedral of Toluene in Kir. That is a grace lock.” He pointed at the symbols at the base of the door. “Those are all to the old gods. Maybe if you had a god item that held the grace of one of the dead gods. You said Andrea had a key? That dagger of hers, maybe?”
Master Martin put his hand on his shoulder and shook his head, “No, we said Andrea was the key.”
Charmeine felt the power; he had felt this before; when Toluene produced rain, he had the ability to feel grace. His heart stopped; his mind was spinning and beginning to understand what he was witnessing. Charmaine felt the vibrations and could hear the physical chains rattling around him. The vibrations he had felt before when he had touched Andrea.
“Master, I got it!” Andrea turned to face Oliver smiling triumphantly. Her body began to glow, a crimson red. She turned back to the three guild masters behind her. The crimson fire flared out of her eyes. “I did it.” Even though her white leather armor, the Circle Hand's sigil, burned in the crimson fire on her chest. The Hand of Toluene had a crest on his chest; the magic glowed when he used his grace.
Charmeine then flashed back to the conversation he had with Andrea. How would you know if you ever met a god or a god’s hand? He knew grace when he felt it; it was washing over his senses. The feeling was different when Toluene created rain; it felt a calming peace presence. What he felt now was vibrations of raw power, and there was a taint to it, darkness stitched into the power. The feeling was the same when he touched Andrea before; he was feeling the grace she possessed. He could hear chains scraping in the presence of the grace being used. The grace was flaring out of her eyes like it was barely under her control. He realized what was going on. She was channeling her god's grace, without the god in control. The god is not in control of the hand. The eyes should be a solid color, not pulsing widely like a raging fire. He turned to Oliver, demanding an answer, “What the hell is this. Who is she!” The rest of the guild members were just as dumbfounded.
The priests who recognized the miracle of grace dropped to their knees before the goddess or Hand of a God. They showed their respect by showing acts of submission to the Goddess and praying for salvation or guidance.
Andrea was slowly moving towards the door. The grace was flaring out of her eyes, leaving trails of red light behind her. Her body glowed with her divine presence. She touched the door with her hand, and runes lit up, tracing a path along with the door. The entire structure began to twist and turn, like bands turning and twisting. The sound of stone and metal moved and ground against each other until the structure stopped. The door flared with the sigil of Circled Hand.
Oliver said proudly, “You already know, and she has not lied about who she is. She is the Demon Sorceress KaAzalin, the Hand of Katalina, and my servant.”
Charmeine looked back at his Andrea with fear-stricken eyes. Now he knew what the warning bells in his mind were; he had never felt them before, the danger he felt he was in. He understood his dreams now; this was the danger he had seen in his dreams. Andrea, no Ka'Azalin, was the demon in the inferno. Ka'Azalin was not as powerful now; he might be able to defeat her. This was the demon he was meant to defeat. He was going to have to defeat a god!
Master Hoko was stoked; he just wanted to see something like this, actually, see Andrea use grace. He was giddy. Charmeine now thought Master Hoko was insane. A Demon Lord had corrupted this entire leadership of the guild. They were good people, maybe save Master Martin.
Andrea collapsed to the ground; using grace was physically demanding. Last time she completely passed out, this time, the drain was less. It looks like using this power was like flexing a muscle; the more you use it, the easier it is to recover. She pulled herself up with her staff. The vault door was opening slowly. Everyone could see piles of treasure, gold in stacks. Rare gemstones, necklaces, this was a treasure horde that could ruin the economy of any kingdom.
Andrea turned back, “Nobody goes inside, do not take anything here. Taking anything that is not yours will incur the wrath of the Vault Guardians. Andrea nodded at Clara. Clara produced a bag and gave it to her. With that, Andrea moved into the Vault and proceeded. All these items, treasure belonged to Katalina. Thus they belonged to her as well. She did start taking gems and jewelry; these were worth a fortune. She was going to need these to pay for the guilds part of the payment. She collected a few rare items as well. The emeralds would also reward the guild members who fought their way down here with her. What she came here for was a large green emerald; this was a special gem. The Forge Stone of Rolland, this was required to power the Rollands Crafting Forge in the Citadel. She plucked it from its special box and tossed its green body into her side pouch.
Katalina had also instructed Andrea to grab a few other trinkets as well. A special chained choker with a red ruby and some special metals in an ornate metal box. Andrea quickly stashed the items from their respected resting places in her bag.
Andrea was making her way out when she noticed something lift and fly out of the Vault; it was just a simple gold coin. “Who’s taking.” As the figure crossed the threshold of the vault, the creature became visible. A green flying imp, smiling with its toothy grin and red beady eyes. It held a single coin, and the creature darted out and over the edge and turned back invisible. Andrea screamed, “RUN!” She bolted for the door as well.
The ground began to shake, the bridges leading down began to collapse downwards into the cavern below. Slagtites fell from the ceiling and crashed into the ground below. Andrea reached the rest of the group. Looking at the devastation of the three bridges. Master Hoko looked past her and shouted, “Defensive line! Warriors upfront, healers, and magic caster behind! Prepare for a fight!” Andrea turned around to see out of the piles of coins and treasure; ward pack demons were basically crawling from below the mounds of gold.
Andrea turned to face Oliver shouting over the rumble of the collapsing bridge. “Master?” Andrea pulled out Bloodfang, "I will try to seal the doors. May take some time."
Above the entrances of the cavern, they all could hear the howling of more demons above them. This time they were not prepared; this was going to get a lot of guild members killed. Varriss picked up Andrea's bag of loot and tied it to his belt; he would make sure he got paid for this.
The fighting started in the front ranks, and spells were being cast; many of the healing spells had already been used to get to this point. Andrea was trying to capture the last bit of grace stored in the Bloodfang.
Andrea heard Master Martin, “Andrea, any time, now would be good.”
“I am sorry I can’t. I can do this when I am not pressured, but not like this.” Andrea struggled to wrestle to control her grace. She knew how to do the feat, but the practice is what Andrea really needed, neither of which she had time for.
Oliver knew what he needed, a miracle. Oliver needed the goddess. “I am not for sure how this will work.” Pulling his left glove off to reveal the four command sigils. “I command Ka’Azalin, to provide my guild an escape route to the surface and to defeat my enemies that threaten my guild in this vault.” Oliver was trying to make this as specific as possible; dealing with demons was tricky enough, but a god is a different danger level. He felt a command sigil burn from his hand.