Switch runs past me handing over the key, with the dragon in pursuit, and continues over to the other orb in order to pick the lock ahead of me unlocking it.
Tol tries to draw the dragon’s attention away from me with a splintering shot as I disarm the second gate and flee its wrath.
As I disarm the gate I can feel arcane cogs wheeling slowly into action as the gate to the plane of fire start to close. I can also feel that this action may enable me to recover some of spells as a by product of the activity. Good news! It appears that Volvagia can also feel the arcane powers starting to close the gate. His roar is one mixed with anger and pain.
Memnnon and Kathra are batting away at the annoying sparks of flame. Memnnon does notice however that when he wipes one out that Volvagia appears to strengthen and heal from the dismissal of this spark.
Kathra tires of batting the flames and with a very feminine leap crosses the gap from the orb island and rushes down to engage the dragon, which has turned around and struck Memnnon with its claw, removing his fire resistance. Kathra arrives just in time to be the recipient of its fiery breath attack along with Memnnon.
Then with the heavy beating of wings Volvagia takes to the air in pursuit of Switch again. It is during this flight that I notice that Volvagia is not a strong flier, for he lands again after a short hop.
Meanwhile Tol has taken advantage of the departure of the dragon to leg it across the bridge towards the fourth orb. As he does so he is pursued by the flaming sparks all the way up to the fourth orb-gate. Memnnon recovers from the shock of having his fireproofing stripped away from and goes off to assist Tol with the last gate.
Switch is quickly and calmly working on the lock of the third portal, as the dragon eyes him and me up. I shout at it that the mighty warrior wizard Tol is going to shut down the gate in an effort to distract Volvagia. I also fire a pitiful ray of frost at the beast both of which have no effect whatsoever.
Switch’s lock picking is getting more frantic as Volvagia lands on the island next to him. I shout to Switch to hang on as I’m on my way, at the same time Switch anticipates Volvagia’s lunge and ducks behind the orb as the dragon’s head snakes past a hair’s breadth away.
Kathra and I are in pursuit and trying to distract the scaly beast with our arcane and martial powers as Switch finally picks the lock and then desperately tries to shut the gate himself. Unfortunately there is a surge of arcane fire from the orb as punishment for dabbling in things he doesn’t understand. There is also an increased flow of lava around the chamber and more of the fiery spark creatures fly out through the gate. They have now started to attack the party.
The dragon again tries to take a lump out of switch and another hammer whirls over its head. This time it grabs Switch in its jaws and it is only through Switch’s dextrous wriggling he escapes in one piece.
Across the chamber Tol wipes the sweat from his forehead as he concentrates on the orb and focuses his foresters mind around tings he doesn’t understand. His reward is a burst of raging fire from the orb and another perceptible rise in the level of the lava. Tol steps aside from the orb to allow Memnnon the opportunity.
As Kathra and I close on Volvagia, I concentrate my mind and connect with the mighty beast, I mentally convince Volvagia that he is beset by a swarm of icy stinging wintery bees. This is big enough of a distraction that Switch is able to leap off the island and to safety. He is bleeding from a number of puncture wounds and I can see the relief on his face that he is out of the range of those crunching jaws. However he has done his job in unlocking the orb so I can now get to the island and close the gate.
I now face the rather daunting prospect of closing the gate right under the very jaws that have been scissoring on Switch….. eeek! I’m not sure I can do that. At that very moment Volvagia turns around and backs onto the island a bit more as Kathra comes to attack him. She receives a nasty bite in return for her daring. Horaay for Kathra, as she has distracted Volvagia in such a way that I may be able to jump across onto the island and unlock the gate…hmmm, still under the nose of the beast.
Then there is a simultaneous roar of triumph from our infernal colleague and one of pain and frustration from Volvagia. He whips his head around to glare across the chamber at Memnnon who is giving him the bird. Only one part of the gate remains. Volvgia suddenly rears up and disappears into the lava.
With a bit more time to concentrate, I manage to trip over my robes as I try to valiantly leap across the lava to the final orb. I give a terrified scream as I pitch into the lava.
I drag myself out of the lava onto the island, the red shirt having saved me from all fire damage. Lava ain’t that hot I mutter as I move over to concentrate on the orb.
Kathra starts cleaving the sparky lights into little shreds.
Suddenly…Surprise, surprise..! Volvagia bursts out of the lava and flys up to the ceiling, causing the floor to open large cracks behind Kathra with lava bubbling up, making the ground uncrossable. In addition The burst of lava has splashed Kathra and I and solidified so rapidly we are unable to move. However this is the least of my worries at the moment, as I concentrate on the orb.
Tol and Memnnon are moving back to the bridge. Tol nocks an arrow as he moves across the bridge, hitting with his first shot, the other bounces off the dragon’s scales.
I ignore everything around me and concentrate my powers on the orb, shutting the gate down – yeeeeahh, freeing myself from the lava and moving my Bigby’s hand to grasp the dragon if it comes closer. We now have a chance.
There is a bubbling sound and an eruption of lava, as I successfully close the last of the locks holding the gate. A shimmering sphere appears on the high island in the middle of the lake of lava. Ohhh no – more swimming in lava for me I suspect.
The eruption of lava broke the bridge and where it once was, there is now a large whirlpool.
Volvagia looks different since coming out of the lava. He is no longer damaged and doesn’t appear to have a permanent aura of poisonous gas around him. His tactics have also changed. He is now bashing himself up against the roof of the chamber, knocking down large chunks of rock which are falling on top of us and making terrain difficult to cross.
I recall what the Gareb dhur said about the locking mechanism. This final orb is a safety valve, and must also be turned off to completely shut the gate. I notice that the level of the lava has started to drop. I could wait until it drops enough to walk over to the island, but I don’t think we’ve got that much time. Where is Grushenka? Where is the pitfiend leader? Both must realise something is up and be coming to get us? No time to lose then.So hitching up my still smouldering skirts I again make a brave running jump across the lava….and again I stumble and plunge into the lava. Woe is me, why can’t the dextrous athletic lot do this and I’ll concentrate on my books and spells?
Fortunately the lava is very shallow here and I am able to get up and wade onto the island.
To be continued….
A video of Volvagia……