Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Missing Heir - The Son of Herbert

So, another story finished. Or, well, another segment of a story finished. Also, as a bonus, I will post portraits of the group as I recently remade them. Or, cleaned them up after having htem go through the original Grimrock. I mean, they would probably kill for a bath after that!
Disclaimer: Grimrock belongs to Almost Human, the mod Missing heir belongs to royandanna on steam.

Missing Heir – The Son of Herbert

The group appeared with a flash of light. When it faded, it was pitch black.
"Light, Sin," Jack murmured softly, not sure if there was something that could hear them. Better safe then sorry, right?
"Sure," Sinister answered just as softly. And said the required spell.
Their surroundings slowly became visible.
"Why do all the underground areas we go into look like Grimrock?" whined Jack.
"And where did our gear go?" Shadow asked.
"The court mages probably botched the summoning..." grumbled Sinister. "At least we have our clothes that we were wearing when being transported." he added.
"We should be happy for small miracles," Ruk'Ur nodded.
"So, which way?" Jack decided to change the topic.
"That way," Sinister pointed. "It's the only way that's not blocked."
"So, does anyone know where we are?" Shadow asked after they turned a corner.
"Well, according to this text, it is the Steeprock Old Town," Sinister said after he read the inscription.
"Doesn't look like much..." muttered Jack.
"Probably because this is the old Steeprock. The new one was build on top of it," suprisingly Ruk'Ur was the one to answer.
"How do you know that?" Sinister asked with interest.
"Because one of my kin used to live in the Old Steeprock Town. Of course, it was known as just Steeprock back then."
"So do you know the way around?" Jack asked.
"I might recognize some areas from the tales I heard, but it has probably changed a lot since then," Ruk'Ur answered.
"So let's go!" Shadow urged everyone. "This time all of us are going! Jack is not steeling all the fun this time!"
"I just hope that the prince has a better name than Herbert..." grumbled Jack and pushed the door open.

The group went to a halt when a giant snail appeared from behind a corner.
"Grimrock all over again..." sighed Sinister as the thing tried to bite Jack who dodged easily and then slashed at the back of it's neck with a knife he found on the floor a while back.
"Little help here?" he called as the thing turned after him.
"I think you're doing great," Sinister quiped, leaning against a wall. Though he did prepare a fireball spell just in case.
"Oh come on!" Jack yelled as he dodged another attempt from the snail and burried the knife hilt deep in the thing's head.
"See, you did just fine," Sinister said when the snail dropped down, dead.
"Yeah, well, if you fried it, it would have been faster," Jack comented.
"But less fun!" laughed Shadow and danced away from Jack who tried to whack him on the head.
"Come on, you knuckleheads, we have an heir to find..." Jack moved on.

"Hum... A presure plate," comented Sinister.
"Shall we test what will happen when we step on it?" Ruk'Ur asked.
"Might as well," Jack decided and walked to stand on it.
As soon as that happened, a wall slid up on the side of the room.
"The Master knew you would come," the skeleton that emerged said.
"Holly shit!" Shouted Jack. "It talks!"
"Let's ignore him while he freaks out," decided Sinister and approached the monster.
"Who or what is the Master?" the mage asked as he dodged an attack, preparing a lightning strike spell.
But the skeleton remained silent after it's initial snetence.
"Wrong decision," remarked the sorcerer and said the final word of the spell out loud.
The lightning strike found it's mark and the skeleton crumpled to the ground, umoving.
"Leave some fun for me too!" whined Shadow who suddenly appeared from who knows where.
Nobody even noticed he dissapeared.
"Where have you been?"
"There was a passage opened on the other side of the room too!" the rogue said proudly and showed them his find.
"Thanks," remarked Sinister as he snatched the plants from his hands and stashed them in a pouch.
"Sure," Shadow grinned and moved to inspect a newly opened grate that led to stairs down.

 "I hate big rooms," Jack decided when something blunt smashed into his back.
"You need to keep an eye on what's going on around you," Shadow piped as he slashed at the herder with his dagger.
"And you need to shut up," decided Jack and cleaved the thing practically in half with his own blade. "And that's for trying to sneak up on me!" he spat and kicked the caracas.
"Calm down..." Siniser laughed as he laid his hand on Jack's arm.
"I am calm. But what the hell gives them the right to sneak on me?" he groused and then was silenced by Sinister kissing him.
"Can you kiss after we find the heir?" Shadow asked.
"Eh... Don't worry about the brat. He's probably fine," said Jack, but turned to continue onward to the back of the room where there was something bluish.
"Ooh! Portals!" whispered Shadow excitably when they could see what it was.
"And you're excited why?" Sinister muttered, but more to himself than anything else. And he got no answer either.

"I've had it with this room!" Screamed Jack in frustration.
They've been at this for at least several hours by now. The area was comprised of small spaces with walls that opened almost on random.
And they've been walking in the maze for so long that they no longer even knew which way was the exit. Which would have been useles anyway as it sealed behind them the moment they stepped through the first opening a rising wall created.
"Just bear with it," Sinister siged. "I'm sure we will find an exit sooner or later."
"I'd rather it be sooner," Jack grumbled, but seeing the tired look on Sinister's face, he decided to cool it for now.
"I am positive that we have been to this spot already," Ruk'Ur declared when they entered another area.
"This is where I got the key!" Shadow realized when he looked around.
"Didn't anyone think of making a map?" Jack asked.
"I've been trying to make sense of this place for a while, but I'm not yet completely sure where we need to go."
"Sin, at this point, anything is better than just blindly going through the openings," Jack said and laid a hand on the mage's shoulder.
"Then I think we need to go that way," Sinister pointed to one of the two openings.
"And now?" Ruk'Ur asked when the wall closed behind them and two more opened.
"Let me thing for a bit," Sinister said and closed his eyes.
The others were silent. For all of two seconds before Shadow started talking. Even if it was in whispered.
"Think we will ever get out of this maze?" he asked.
"I sure hope so," Jack answered.
"I believe-" but before Ruk'Ur could finish, Sinister's eyes snaped open.
"This way," he declared and marched through one of the openings.
"How do you know?" Ruk'Ur asked.
"Based on the areas we already went to, this was the best option. Also, based on the walls that never open, this area is limited in space. It's actually rather small, we were just walking in circles," Sinister explained as he marched through another opening and sure enoguh, they could see a portal in front of them.
"Love you," Jack declared and kissed the mage before turning to the portal.
"Shadow, the key," he called when he spied the lock next to the grate blocking the portal.
"On it, boss," the rogue called back and skipped – yes, skipped – to the lock.
The grate slid up and the group went to the teleporter, but before that, Ruk'Ur picked up a small gold key from the corner of the area.

"I don't like all the red light," Shadow decided when they entered the cells area.
"And you're not the only one," Jack answered.
"What are we looking for anyway?" Sinister asked.
"I believe we need one more gold key to move forward and therefore closer to finding the heir," answered Ruk'Ur.
"Then let's move it, people!" ordered Jack and started moving forward.
The others followed right after, Sinister muttering a spell in preparation in case they had to fight.
And good thing he prepared one too, as they ran into a skeleton patrol the moment they turned the corner.
The patrol went to strike at them, but the group managed to evade the attack. Well, mostly. One of the spears left a gash on Shadow's forearm.
Thankfully, it lookes shallow and it didn't seem to faze the rogue.
The guys started to circle the patrol, but before they managed to land a single attack, Sinister's path was free and he let white lightning fly from his palm and three skeletons from the patrol went down, not getting up. The last one was quickly dispatched by Ruk'Ur and his mace.
Funny thing how the stuff they were finding really looked like the things they got from Grimrock prison and also the goodies Jack got from the basement in the wine cellars.
The group was about to move onward, but then Ruk'Ur stopped.
"What kind of spell was that?" he asked, refering to the white lightning.
"I decided to try and experiment a little," Sinister addmited. "It is a spell I've been working on for a while. And I decided to test it out against something better than a training dummy. Works good, but not good enough. Could have dealt with all four of them if I used regular lightning strike, but this one took out only three of them."
"So how exactly is the spell different?" Jack decided to ask. Against his better judgement too!
"I added a bit of ice magic to the lightning," Sinister said, keeping it simple, knowing that Jack had no clue about magic. Most of the time.
"What elements can you use?" Shadow entered the conversation.
"All seven primaries, some better, some not so good," Sinister replied.
"I always believed that there were only five primary elements?" Ruk'Ur querried.
"That is a common misconception," Sinister nodded to the minotaur. "Most people believe that there are only fire, water, earth, air and lightning, but truth is that there is also light and darkness... Hey!" Sinister interrupted himself. "That's it! Light instead of ice, that should work!"
"How do you even get ice out of the elements you listed?" Shadow asked, confused.
"You combine them," Sinister said. "For example, Ice. You get that by fusing water and air, or wind, together. Another possible combination element is a fire that can burn underwater. A combination of fire and water. Then you have the black fire, which is extremely volatile and should only be attempted in the direst of situations. Of course, there are more, but I don't think we have the time for a lesson on magic right now."
"Is there a difference for when you use a single element to a combination of two or more?" Jack asked, deep in thought.
"Yes, to a mage, who is unskilled in combining elements, the cost for casting a spell that uses more than one, is complete exhaustion and if the mage is not strong enough, then possibly death."
"So that's why the ice bolt back in Grimrock knocked you out..." Jack sighed.
Sinister nodded.
"Okay. Just don't do crazy stuff if you know it will knock you out," Jack grumbled.
"I'm not making any promises!" Sinister declared.
"Not even one?" Jack pleaded.
"Depending on what it is," Sinister decided.
"Don't use that black fire thingy," Jask said.
"I won't, unless," Jack groaned at that, but Sinister ignored him.
"I won't, unless the only other option is the death of all of us."
Jack thought it over and then said "I guess I can live with that..."
"Good," Sinister nodded and then started walking forward again.

They had to fight through several more skeleton patrols, but there were not mor eproblems or injuries. Mainly because Sinister reverted back to the regular lightning and therefore managed to fry each patrol before they even started their attack on the group.
Turning another corner, Jack quickly backpedalled as something whizzed by only to clank on the wall.
"Archer?" Sinister guessed.
"Yup," Jack nodded and groaned.
"I hate those!" Shadow whined.
"Just don't get shot this time," Sinister said and started muttering a spell.
It took only a few words for him to formulate it and then he peaked from behind the corner. The skeleton archer was turned away from him, so Sinister stepped into the area and pointed his finger at the monster. With the last word, a highly concentrated lighning shot from his pointer finger and engulfed the archer, turning it into dust.
"Nice work!" cheered Shadow.
"That was light and lightning?" Jack asked.
Sinister nodded.
"And what?" Sinister looked at him.
"How're you feeling?"
"Trust me, I'm as surprised as you probably are, but I feel fine," the mage answered.
"Okay then," Jack nodded and went to pick up a gold key that was in an alcove to the side. A place from which the skeleton archer emerged.

"What?" Sinister called.
"What's the sound?" Shadow called next.
"What did you do, Jack?" Ruk'Ur rumbled in his deep voice.
"Nothing!" Jack shouted back. "Just dropped the key!"
"A wall slid up!" Shadow yelled and bounded to the newely opened area to see what's in there.
"Maybe we should follow," Sinister said. "Or he will get himself killed."
"Yeah..." Jack nodded.

They followed Shadow to the area, but when they turned the corner, they came to a halt, just staring.
"He really is stupid, huh?" Jack remarked.
"Definitely, but I think we wouldn't want him to be any other way," Sinister laughed, watching Shadow sprawled on the floor, obviously unconscious, with a golden chalice laying nearby.
"Should we wake him up?" Ruk'Ur asked.
"No, let's leave him and explore the area. We will pick him up when we're done," decided Jack.
"Your call..." shrugged Sinister and entered the room.

Inside the room there was an altar with a book that Sinister snaged before anyone else could even move.
"I believe these levers open a passage into some of the cells," Ruk'Ur said, inspecting one of them.
"But do we want to go there?" Jack wondered.
"I think there's no need," decided Sinister. "There wasn't anything interesting in them, I was peeking in from the outside."
"Good," declared Jack. "Then let's go."

And soon, they were past the double locked grate and standing on top of a staircase leading down.

When they reached the last step, Jack noticed something.
"Where the fuck is Shadow?!" he growled.
"Huh?" Sinister looked at him.
"It appears he is missing," Ruk'Ur stated.
"Way to state the obvious..." groused Jack and started looking around himself, but not seeing the rogue anywhere.

Meanwhile with Shadow...
"Outch!" the man whispered and held a hand to his head.
"When I find out who bonked me, I'll end them!"
He stood up and looked around. Not seeing anyone of his friends, he paled.
"Don't tell me they left me here!" he yelped.
"WAIT FOR ME!" he wailed and started running through the cells area and back to the begining of it where the teleport was.
Shadow practically jumped through it and landed in a heap on the floor back in the big main area.
"Now what..." he said out loud as he picked himself up.
He started walking in a random direction, but thanks to the fact that he wasn't looking where he was stepping, only around himself, he overlooked an opened trapdoor.
"KYAAAAAAAAAH!" he landed on his back, his breath knocked out of him.
For a long while, he just layed there, trying to catch his breath and hoping that nothing was going to eat him while he did so.
It took several long minutes, but in the end, he managed to slowly climb to his feet and started inspecting the new area.
What he saw made him almost screem. He was standing on a closed trapdoor and around him were big flying buzziing things. So far, they didn't see him, but they would soon discover his presence. He was sure of it. But how was he gonna get out of there? All the other trapdoors around him were open and the solid ground was too far away for him to even think about attempting a jump.
"Help?" he squeeked.
And suddenly, al the buzzers were looking and more importantly, flying, in his direction.
"Fuck!" Shadow swore and drew his dagger.

At the same time with the rest of the group...
After backtracking in order to look for Shadow, and not finding the rogue anywhere! They decided to go forward instead, hoping against all odds, that he managed to stumble through some kind of a shortcut and was actually ahead of them.
"I just hope he's not dead..." whispered Sinister.
"I think that all of us are hoping for that," said Jack. "He might be a bit of an idiot, but he's our idiot!"
As they were talking about the possible places Shadow might be at, they fought their way through throngs of skeletons, but found it somehow easy. The monsters were, compared to their Grimrock counterparts, relatively weak.
Well, that was perhaps going a bit too far, but they certainly were weaker than Grimrock's were. That was for sure.

The group took another flight of stairs leading down. And then stopped in their tracks.
“Are you as reluctant to go forward as I am?” Jack asked the other two.
“It’s the walls,” said Sinsiter.
“Then let us hope we will not have to face what we have associated with them,” concluded Ruk’Ur and was the first to start walking again.
As it turned out, they did not have to fight another Undying one, but that didn’t mean there was nothing waiting for them.
“It’s a fucking Goromorg,” declared Jack. “Why is there a fucking Goromorg? Why does everyone of the so-called bosses look like a bloody Goromorg?”
And he would have kept ranting, had Sinister not silenced him with a kiss.
“Look closely,” he said when he broke the kiss. “He’s caged and there’s something different about him.”
“He looks…” Ruk’Ur trailed.
“Somewhat more human?” suggested Jack after taking a look.
“Maybe he can talk?” Sinister added.
“Let’s find out,” decided Jack and made his way closer to the ‘monster’.
But before he could so much as open his mouth, the Goromorg spoke.
“So you came,” he said.
“Uh…” Jack stumbled over his tongue, not sure how to reply to that.
“My name is Bartheus,” the Goromorg said.
And that’s where Sinister had enough.
“Sorry to but in,” he said, sweetly.
“No problem,” Jack said. “You’re probably the best to talk to this guy anyway.”
“No,” said Bartheus.
“Excuse me, but it’s not really up to you,” growled Sinister. “You see, I’m his boyfriend and whatever you have to discuss with him, you can say to me as well, and anyway, I’m better at this talking thing, he has a chronic syndrom of a foot in the mouth.”
“Don’t worry, dear, I love you all the same,” Sinister told Jack and then turned back to Bartheus.
“So, where were we? Oh yes, I was about to ask you why you are in a cage.”
“No!” screamed Bartheus, “you have to listen to me, I don’t have much time, if Master find out I’m talking to you, we will all be in big trouble!”
“Who is this Master? And why is he so dangerous?” Ruk’Ur asked from behind the shorter two.
“For you to understand that, I will have to start at the very beginning…”

And Bartheus started his long tale. How he was a lowly druid that attempted a summoning way above his level, which resulted in Master coming to this world. Bartheus managed to contain him here, in Steeprock, but at the cost of cursign himself and never being able to leave the place.
But Master wanted more and he thought that a kidnapping would be a good way to start his career of world domination. But Bartheus managed to create an opening for someone who would be able to take Master down. However, first, they needed to recover twelve druidic stones to even be able to summon Master to this dimension, otherwise he was invincible.
The rocks were scattered a few levels down, but apparently, Bartheus had some control over Steeprock and was able to create a prtal for them that would lead to the entrance to the area they needed.
“I will see you there,” he said and then he was gone.
“I have to say I’m a bit sceptical…” Sinister said when they were alone again.
“And we still have to find Shadow!” added Jack. “And what’s with that mumbo-jumbo about me being so important?”
“I have a hard time believing that as well.” Deadpanned Sinister.
“You don’t say…” grinned Jack and then pounced on the sorcerer only to start tickling him.
“You will have enough time for that later, we need to move,” Ruk’Ur separated them.
“Fine…” pouted Jack.
And they stepped through the portal.

With Shadow…
No help came, and the poor rogue was forced to jump down one of the holes surrounding him. Unfortunatelly, he landed wrong and fell unconscious again.
Bad luck seemd to follow him today…

Back to the group.
They appeared in a sort of library. The central area of which has been sealed off. In there they could see Bartheus. So far, he did not notice them. There were also two portals on the other side of the room, if you could call it that…
"Oyi! Bartherus, where to now?" Jack hollered to get the goromort look-alike's attention.
"Ah, so you have arrived," Bartheus said and turned toward them.
"As youc an see," he continued, "one of the portals is sealed off, it leads to an area where you can take on the Master, but to unseal it, I will need the power of the druidic stones. The other portal leads to the area they are scattered in. Please hurry."
"Why do we need to hurry?" Sinister asked. Something still didn't sit right with him.
"Because, your lost companion managed to get himself stranded there and it is unclear how long he will survive on his own," Bartheus explained.
"Shadow's there?" Jack asked, surprised.
"If that is his name…" allowed Bartheus.
"Then let us go and rescue our missing rogue," declared Ruk'Ur and made his way around Bartheus's 'cage' and towards the unsealed portal.

They managed to get eleven out of the twelve needed stones and were making their way toward where they thought the last one was, when they heard it.
"HELP!" a familiar voice screeched from somwhere in front of them.
"Shadow!" all of them yelped together and dashed toward the sound of runnign feet, that were soon followed by something much heavier.
"Don't tell me he managed to get himself chased by one of those wardens?!" yelled Jack in disbelief.
"Then I won't tell you," answered Sinister and started redying a spell or two for when the warden finally came within sight and reach.
And then they turned a corner and could see Shadow running impossibly fast toward them and before anyone coud react, he smacked into them, knocking them all to the ground.
But Jack would have none of that. Quickly untangling himself from the dog-pile and swiftly grabbing Sinister, he stood at the ready, waiting for the probably-warden that was chasing Shadow, to show up.
"When this is over, I'm smacking you on the head," he informed the rogue and then turned to Sinister.
"Yeah, though I'm not looking forward to fighting those again…"
"You and me both," Jack said and gripped his sword tightly.
At that exact moment, the warden came to view. But it wasn't alone. Something else was following it. And it was fugly!
"What the hell is that naga wannabe?" asked Jack, an annoyed expression on his face.
"Hell If I know…" muttered Sinister and sent a bolt of electricity toward the warden.
"Let's worry about that after it has been defeated, shall we?" suggested Ruk'Ur and threw one of his spare axes past the warden and toward the naga-wannabe, nailing it in its shoulder.
"Good shot!" pipped Shadow happily.
"Less yapping, more fighting," Sinister borrowed Jacks phrase. And then promptly set another lightning toward the warden, this time, it was one of his new white lightnings.
To the entire groups surprise, the warden crumpled down.
"Wow!" Jack stared. "Did you know it would do that?" he asked Sinister.
"Not to that extent!" Sinister answered.
"Cool!!!" grinned Shadow, stars in his eyes.
However, talking came to an end when the naga thingy finally came within reach. It swung at them, but they managed to dodge the blow, retaliating with their own. Jack managed to completely cut off the previously injured arm and Shadow somehow got behind the thing and stabbed it in the back.
And then Sinister finished chanting another of his spells, and set a lightning at the naga wannabe, this time, the lightning was red.
"What the hell was that?" Jack asked when the thing was confirmed dead.
"Another combination of elements," Sinister said with a smile on his face.
"And the drain on you?" Jack pressed.
"Almost none, this was one of the better combination, being fire with lightning," Sinister explained.
"Okay," nodded Jack. "I'm not gonna pretend I understand all this magic stuff, but like I said before, don't put yourself in unnecessarry danger, kay?"
"Sure," Sinister smiled and kissed Jack lightly on the lips.
The moment was interrupted when Ruk'Ur spoke.
"It appears that Shadow managed to find the last stone we need."
"This thing?" Shadow asked.
"That's it!" Jack nodded and took the stone from the rogue.
"What's it for?" Shadow wanted to know.
"To help us find the missing heir," Jack explained.
"Well, to be honest, it is to help us defeat the Master, because we won't be able to reclaim the heir if we don't," clarified Sinister.
"Who is the Master?"
"Think of him as this place's Undying one," Sinister decided to say.
"The full story is too long to explain now anyway," added Jack and turned toward the way leading back to the library and Bartheus.
"Are you coming?" he called over his shoulder.

"Now, that you have placed all the stones in their proper places, I can begin the ritual to summon Master to this plane of being, but be ready, he won't be fighting alone, you will probably have to fight a lot of his servants, the sluggomorgs, or as you call them, naga wannabes. And if you're unlucky, he will summon me to help him."
"How will we know when to go?"
"The grate blocking the portal to the final area will not lift until the summoning has been completed, take the time it will take to rest and replenish your energy," Bartheus explained and them vanished to get the ritual started.
"And he's gone," deadpaned Jack.
"Way to state the obvious," Sinister grinned.
"We should probably heed Bartheus's advice and rest, so that we may win the fight that is to come," suggested Ruk'Ur.
"Good point," nodded Jack and then promptly dropped to the ground.
"Wake me when it's time to go."

About four hours later, Jak was awake, courtesy of Sinister, and he and the group were getting ready to go through the portal, the grate opening about ten minutes ago.
"Shall we go and see what the hell is this Master?" Jack said when he was ready.
"Let's," nodded Sinister with Ruk'Ur and Shadow right behind him.
The group stepped through the portal and appeared in a relatively small room with several cages filled with the… what did Bartheus call them again? Sluggomorg? What kinda name was that anyway? Clearly, they were naga wannabes. And on the other side of the room, something akin to a Goromorg was standing. Only, with less tentacles and a lot darker. The Master.
"So you have come…" the Master said and moved his hand.
The ground under the group exploded, sending them crashing onto ground and into walls.
"You will pay for that!" Jack growled when he managed to pick himself up from the floor. Blood was dripping in his eyes and he looked wild.
Then he charged. The ground blew up several more times and he had to dodge lightning and fire as well as ice, but at this moment, nothing would stop him. Not after seeing Sinister on the ground and not moving.

Ruk'Ur and Shadow managed to pick themselves up and made their way towards Sinister. Their first thought was that he was dead, but looking closer, he was breathing. And it wasn't irregular either.
"It would seem that the mage had us all fooled," Ruk'Ur chuckled in his deep voice.
"Don't give me away!" hissed Sinister. "And make sure that you keep an eye on those cages, if the Master openes them, you two will have to fight those beasts."
"What about you?" Shadow asked.
"I'm gonna help Jack."
"Good luck," Ruk'Ur said and he and Shadow started making their way to a spot that would let them keep an eye on all of the cages.

Sinister slowly turned his head toward the fight between Master and Jack. Jack, obviously driven by grief, was winning. He had the Master on defense, but how long can he keep it up? Slowly, Sinister stood and muttered an invisibility spell.
Moving along the wall, he walked toward a suspicious looking doorway. He placed his hand on the metal and could feel it thruming under his palm.
"Of course it would be magical door…" he whispered.
Frowning, he put his other palm on the door too and closed his eyes to feel the magic properly.
He's there. And the magic feels like…he turned toward the fight, that now included Shadow and Ruk'Ur fighting the nagas.
He was about to join the fight, but before he could so much as even think about which spell to use, Master vanished.
"Come back here you son of a bitch!" Jack screamed.
And so Sinister grinned softly and made his way toward his lover.
"I'm still alive you idiot," he said and dropped the invisibility spell.
Jack wasted no time crushing him in a bear hug only letting go when it became apparent that Sinister could not breath.
"Don't scare me like that again!" Jack scolded and kissed the mage.
"You needed the push, but don't worry, I don't plan on dieing for real any time soon."
"Good," Jack nodded, now calmer. "But don't scare me like that again anyway."
"I'll try, but for now, shouldn't we help them with the naga wannabes?" Sinister answered.
"Right," and the duo turned towards their still fighting companions.

Soon the fight was over.
"Now what?" Jack asked as he looked around the room, which was mostly destroyed.
"What about the door over there?" Shadow asked pointing at the door Sinister checked earlier.
"No good, it's linked to Masters life force, it won't open unless he's dead," Sinister said.
"And when did you have time to check that?" Shadow whined.
"When you guys left me to deal with the naga wannabes," Sinister said.
"Didn't see you there," Shadow was being stubborn.
"Invisibility has its perks," Sinister simply said.
"There si a draft coming from here," Ruk'Ur called from one of the corners of the room.
When hearing this, Sinister started looking around the room again.
"What are you looking for?" Jack asked.
"Hidden buttons of course," he answered.
"Then I think I've been staring at it the whole time," Jack said and pointed at the wall he was staring at.
"And you couldn't have said that earlier?" Sinister hit him over the head and made his way forward to press the button.

"Another portal?" Jack almost whined when they stepped through the newly created opening.
"It probably leads toward Master and maybe even Bartheus," Ruk'Ur said.
"If that happens, I suggest we focus on Master and as for Bartheus, just try to evade his attacks," Sinister said and was about to step thgouth the portal.
"Not so fast," Jack grabbed him. "I'm going first, not you!"
"Then stop being so overprotective and just go," Sinister said and with that, pushed the fighter through.
"You next, Ruki," Shadow said, giving Ruk'Ur a nickname.
"We shall talk about your taste in nicknames later, little rogue," the minotaur rumbled and stepped through.
"And now us," Shadow said and dragged Sinister into the portal.

Shadow and Sinsiter appeared in a darkened area and the first thing their senses comprehended was a lot of metalic noise. Softly, Sinister whispered a light spell and then they could see it was a lot of grates that were falling and rising in irregular intervals.
"Well that will be a pain…" muttered Shadow.
"I'm more worried about where Ruk'Ur and Jack are…" Sinister replied, looking around.
"Over there!" Shadow suddenly pointed and when Sinister turned, he could see Ruk'Ur and Jack holding their own against the Master.
"Let's go help them!" Shadow suggested, grinning.
"I'm afraid it will not be possible," a familiar voice said.
"Bartheus," Sinister nodded to the cloaked figure and dodged the fireball it threw at them.
"I do not wish to fight you, but the Master's comand is absolute," Bartheus said.
"Then don't fight us," Sinister said and started chanting.
"I'm sorry but you will not be able to complete the spell," Bartheus declared, readying himself to send a barrage of spells at the young mage.
"You'll have to go through me first," Shadow growled from behind Bartheus and stabbed him in the arm, then danced away.
"Whatever you're planning, do it fast, I can't keep hem ocupied for too long on my own!" he threw toward Sinister as he dodged a poison bolt and then darted toward Bartheus again.
"It is no use, little rogue, I'm invincible," there was sorrow in Bartheus' voice.
"Get away!" Sinister screamed at Shadow as he finished his spell.
Shadow didn't have to be told twice. With a quick backflip, he put enough distance between him and Bartheus to not be caught in Sinister's spell whatever it turns out to be.

Sinister finished the last gesture needed and a barrier rose up around Bartheus, effectively keeping him contained.
"How long does it last?" Shadow asked softly as he made his way to Sinister.
"For as long as I feed it magic," the mage replied through gritted teeth.
"So…" Shadow trailed of uncertainly.
"Go help the others," Sinister growled lowly and did an additional gesture with hishand, sending more power into his barrier.
Shadow looked at the mage, but could see he was serious. And there was nothing that Shadow could do to help anyway. So the rogue turned and started making his way through the grates and towards the fight against Master.

"He's too strong!" Ruk'Ur grunted as he fell down to one knee.
"What did you expect?" Jack called back from where he barely managed to dodge one of Master's spells.
"We're probably in his domain now!" He added as he somehow managed to get close enough to leave a scratch on their opponent.
"Can we even win?" Ruk'Ur wondered as he slowly stood.
"We have to!" a new voice shouted.
"Shadow!" the two grinned happily.
"Sinister's holding of Bartheus, we can't give up!" Shadow insisted and danced around several ice bolts Master send his way, making his way close enough to stab him in the arm.
"He's right!" Jack yelled and threw his shield away, grabbing his secondary sword.
He sprinted right through a poison cloud, coughing, but keeping up the speed, he got right in front of Master and stabbed both of them in the enemy's stomach.
The Master looked surprised for a moment, but then grabbed Jack by the neck and threw him into a wall only to be assaulted by a thrown axe from Ruk'Ur. It grazed his shoulder, but he managed to avoid any major injury.
"You're dead," sounded from behind the Master and for the first time in his life, he felt fear.
How did the little pest managed to get so close without him sensing him? And shouldn't he be dead by now? What the hell was Bartheus doing?!
That was the last thing in his mind as Shadow managed to drive two of his daggers into Master's skull and end his reigh of terror.
The Master was dead before he hit the floor and with him, his domain started to fall apart.

Sinister was reaching his limit when he felt the shift in this place's magic.
"You can lift your barrier, little mage," Bartheus said, "I am myself again."
Sinister did as he was told and Bartheus promptly caught him as he collapsed. Then he started making his way toward the other three. The mage wouldn't forgive him if he left them there.
When they heard him approach, they looked up from Jack who was out cold.
"I can keep this realm alive long enough for you four to escape, but you have to be quick," he told them as he handed Sinister to the rouge.
"What about you?" Ruk'Ur asked.
"I cannot live outside of Steeprock, for this place is both my life and my grave," Bartheus said, "now go, the portal won't be stable for much longer."
Heeding his advice, Ruk'Ur threw Jack over his shoulder and helped Shadow with Sinister, who was awake already, but for now too weak to walk without support. They made their way to the portal as fast as they could and quickly stepped through.

They appeared back in the area where they first encountered Master. It was still littered with naga bodies and the ground was destroyed, but the magical doorway was open.
"Through there," Sinister weakly pointed.
"Aye aye captain," Shadow grinned and started walking, Ruk'Ur hot on their heels.  
They stepped through and found themselves in a small but cozy room. There was a bed and several bookshelves. Also a desk and a chair.
On the desk was a note and a sack with something in it.
"It's the druid rocks," Sinister said when he was close enough to feel the energy radiating from them.
"It would be nice if these were returned where they belong," Ruk'Ur read the note out loud.
"And there's the heir," Jack pointed from his place over Ruk'Ur's shoulder as he regained consciousness.
True to his words, there was a body lying on the bed in deep sleep.
"Should we wake him?" Ruk'Ur asked.
"Hell no!" Jack grinned and dropped to his feet.
"You carry the brat," he pointed to Ruk'Ur and went to snag the sack with the druidic stones Sinister was about to take.
"I'll be carrying this," he grinned and gave his mage a playfull kiss.
"Hey!" Shadow suddenly called.
"What?" they called back.
"There's something behind this bookshelf."
"And there's a hidden button right next to it," added Sinister when he took a look. "I suggest you press it, as it is probable that the shelf is hiding a way out of here."
"I'll ge the heir," Ruk'Ur stated.

Shadow pressed the button and the bookshelf slid down into the ground, revealing a portal hidden behind it. The group took one look at each other and then they stepped into it and vanished from the Olde Steeprock Town.

And from his realm, the new Master was watching them, smiling.

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