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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Spectrum: Chapter Two 5/5

   The Golden Goddess was the most powerful enemy they had fought so far. She had a wide variety of dangerous magics that could dazzle their vision with sunspots, making it impossible for them to see her. Half of the time they were fighting blind! The Goddess’ tremendous limbs were also deadly, as a single crushing blow could easily render them unconscious. To make matters worse, golden statues of various enemies they had fought before—Whackoons, Fanged Caterpillars, Piggapods—would sometimes fall from the Goddess’ hair and come to life to aid her in battle! These new opponents came as more of a blessing than a curse, however. At this point, they were well experienced in fighting such beings and could easily dispatch them, and when defeated, these lesser monsters dissolved into golden light that gave the party a feeling of serenity, allowing them to continue fighting.

   It was the job of Seles and Clara to attack the Golden Goddess head-on. Seles’ arrows gave him the distance he needed to strike safely out of range of the Goddess’ blows, and Clara’s rod remained the most effective weapon against her stone skin. Niay destroyed the golden enemies as quickly as the Goddess could summon them to keep the party in good shape, and when Pyre wasn’t using acupressure to keep her allies fighting, she attacked whatever was closest to her with sword and fists. Although it seemed like it was the end more than once, the quartet emerged victorious, and the Golden Goddess broke apart and fell to the ground in pieces.

   They managed to wrestle the heavy lid of the ebony coffin to the ground, and the moment they did so, the room was filled with a marvelous light. Even weakened and drained of power, the spirit of Earth was a majestic sight, rising from her prison with impossible beauty and grace. Yes: it was she, Faience, who had been incarcerated within the coffin.

   Someone had entered the Sepia Palace and attacked Faience, damaging her so severely that she had been unable to prevent her imprisonment within the coffin. The element of wood had further weakened her powers, leaving her unable to help herself. The stone sentinels that lined her halls had been called to life by her need and danger, but without her control, they had attacked anything they saw, including Seles and his friends. She apologized abjectly for indirectly endangering them and gladly entrusted to them her powers through an ancient artifact: the Opal Scroll, which empowered them with her element of Earth.

   To Pyre Faience granted the ability to coat her weapons with elemental magic, strengthening her strikes against enchanted enemies such as the Golden Goddess. With the breath of magic upon her weapon, Pyre could even call upon magical enhancements, allowing her to perform mighty finishing techniques as long as she could gather up enough chi through her preliminary strikes to fuel them.

   Through Niay Faience manifested the “yang” of her earthly powers, giving him the ability to weave spells of protection and healing. These spells, Faience said, would be fueled by the kindness of Niay’s spirit, and would protect his friends upon their journey.

   Through Clara Faience manifested the “yin” of her earthly powers, giving her the crushing strength of rock and the formidable anger of the shaking earth. These spells, Faience explained, would be fueled by the strength of Clara’s soul in much the same way as Niay’s would channel the kindness of his spirit.

   To Seles Faience granted her most potent gift: mastery over the Opal Scroll. Using it, he could call upon Faience herself, manifesting an avatar of her power that would come to his aid. She was so weak, however, that she would need time between such manifestations to recover for the next; he could not simply call upon her indiscriminately. Regardless, if Seles called upon her at the entrance to Mount Hellena Bas-Crysalli, she would gladly lend him her strength. Furthermore, now he could use the Opal Scroll from anywhere in the world to return to the Sepia Palace for healing and advice.

   There was more, however. Faience recognized the flaming wreath Seles had won from the Tinderfly oh so long ago as the Garnet Wreath, the unique magical artifact of Rogalian, the other elemental spirit whose powers they would need. However, the wreath’s powers were startlingly low, convincing Faience that Rogalian had to be in as much trouble as she herself had been, if not more. The spirit told them that although the Garnet Wreath should have been able to take them straight to Rogalian’s Crimson Palace, this was no longer possible with its virtue so reduced. They would have to return to the Ringcon Caves and search out the path to the Crimson Palace on foot. Faience wished she could tell them more, but as the spirits never left their palaces, she knew the way no better than they did.

   There was also, of course, the matter of the mark of the evil arrow on Seles’ skin. Faience attempted to use her powers of healing upon it, but the mark was filled with such potent dark magic that she could not even touch Seles’ hand because of it. The silver birthmark on the opposite side of his chest captured her attention as well, but even she could not say why. She could not help Seles with the curse any more than Melise or Agatha, and from the state of the Garnet Wreath, she very much feared Rogalian would be rendered equally powerless. However, she promised to think about the problem while they were gone and inform them of any solution she could devise.

   One last gift Faience gave them: a tuft of Kitsune Fur, which she had used in the creation of the Golden Goddess. She told them to seek out Fu, the demonic blacksmith, who alone would have the skill needed to unlock the fur’s potential. Although Pyre and Niay balked at the idea of dealing with a demon, Faience assured them that the Opal Scroll would serve as both bargaining chip and protection against any mischief Fu might consider.

   Seles used the Magic Carpet to fly them back to the entrance of the palace out on the side of the Opal Mountains, and they returned to Mandala to discuss their next move.

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