This week it’s Legends of Windemere: Sleeper of the Wildwood Fugue. I’m taking slightly bigger risks with these excerpts in terms of potential spoilers, but the books have been out for a while. This one shows part of Helgard, which is from the later chapters of this volume. It also introduces a character that I don’t really get to talk about. Well, at least he makes an appearance even though he doesn’t talk here.
Joining Nyx among the rubble, the adventurers look out at the vast, rectangular room before them. The back wall is nothing more than a pane of enchanted glass, giving people a view of the bubbling magma below. Gold chandeliers with unlit candles hang from the polished ceiling where the depiction of a great caster battle can be seen shifting in the stone. Basalt furniture with damaged cushions are strewn across the room, most of them shattered into barely recognizable pieces. The walls are covered in sculpted masks, each face with steaming tears dripping down their cheeks. Built into the middle of the floor is a wide pit with a large stack of wood rising from its center.
“You really should redecorate, Nyxie,” Sari suggests as they enter the room. She spins around and hurls a dagger at the sound of shifting stone, the weapon getting stuck in the reforming wall. “At least if this place lets you.”
“Anybody see any doors?” Luke asks while taking a closer look at the rebuilt wall. He leaps away when one of the masks grows eyes, their light revealing a real skull within the stone. “I just realized that none of those corpses had heads. Something put the skulls of the former champions into the wall. I’m liking this place even less now that I know I could become one of the gaudy decorations.”
“The test of the champions,” Dariana whispers to herself, a flickering memory making her eyes twitch. “I don’t know why, but that phrase keeps coming to my mind. Helgard is very important to the champion prophecy. More so than any other temple.”
“It appears I have to explain things to you again,” a deep, male voice says from the far side of the room. “Again we play the roles set out before us, near goddess. Such boredom and . . . is that the Scepter of Nuerin?”
The glass wall ripples as an eleven foot tall figure steps through, steam drifting off his crimson skin. The hulking being stretches his arms and scratches his white claws down the glass, filling the room with an ugly screech. Burning footprints are left on the floor as he approaches the adventurers, his leonine head peering at them with yellow eyes. With a yawn, the beast exposes his sharp teeth and reveals the light of an internal fire that spits lava onto his moist tongue. A thick layer of ebony fur is on its muscular chest, the matted hair showing signs of having been singed. The creature’s black mane and the tuft of hair on his thin tail bristle with excitement as he bends down to get a closer look at the scepter. He takes a deep whiff of the familiar scent, which stirs memories he has not recalled in well over a century.
“It appears this will be more interesting than the previous times,” the creature declares in a whimsical voice. He turns to Nyx and licks his lips at her scent. “A channeler returns the lost relic of Helgard. So delicious, but not as surprising as I thought it would be. Gabriel does have a sense of humor at times.”
“What’s an Ifrit doing here?” Nyx asks, keeping the scepter away from the beast.