Chapter 30: The Tower of Silver Artemis Mountain
Silver Artemis Mountain, as was stated before the party left, was the tallest mountain in all the Frigid-Phrygia Mountains. So it was little wonder why a long-forgotten person or group decided to build a tower on it to get it closer to the heavens. There had to had been a sophisticated ancient technology, or magic, or both, that allowed them to build it without asphyxiation from little air higher up.
The five soon walked up the trail to reach the large stone bridge—which also had steps—that spanned a gap between one portion of the mountain to the next. This would be the most direct way to the tower entrance gates.
It was midafternoon when they arrived at the foot of the trail. They braved the hard path and the cold as they ascended up the road up the large mountain.
“We’re making good headway, friends,” said Nauplius. “We’ll be reaching the tower well before sunset at this rate.”
“I’m afraid you’re about to be stopped cold,” said a gruff voice further up the trail.
The five looked up and saw what looked human before, but was a large white wolf-like beast with a thick gray-tan coat and black pants, as well as medium-gray boots. In his hand was a large glaive. His eyes glowed magenta-red with dangerous intent.
“Who are you?” demanded Galina.
“I am the Werewolf Warrior of Silver Artemis Mountain,” the beast replied. “And I will not allow you up this mountain. Master Erebus’ orders are absolute!”
The dangerous canine warrior thrusted his glaive at Valerius. It barely missed injuring him, but it did pin the sleeve of his shirt to the wall of the mountain.
“I’ve missed the taste of human flesh,” the werewolf said with a slurp.
“You won’t put the bite on my buddy!” said Nauplius as he swung his battle hammer into the beast’s stomach, knocking him back.
Rouvin pulled the glaive out of the stone, freeing his ally.
Zanthe then cast a spell to make part of the trail give way, as the werewolf was standing near the edge. The beast fell down with a thud.
But the beast wasn’t dead yet. Enraged that he had been made a fool of, the werewolf started climbing up the stone with his claws, snarling curses as he did.
Rouvin then shot an arrow that pierced the canine in between the eyes, causing him to fall backwards in pain.
Galina then cast a lightning spell which struck the arrow, finishing off the canine with a good surge.
“That takes care of that hassle,” said Valerius.
Zanthe then conjured up a small pouch, which was teleported from Emerald Kavala City. She then proceeded to sew up the hole on the sleeve. Once that was done, she transported her small pouch back to its original location.
It was about three-quarters of an hour for when they made it halfway up the trail, which one might say is very decent a speed to ascend up a mountain trail.
Soon, the stairway bridge came into view.
“Here it is!” said Nauplius. “The stair bridge to the tower.”
“All right!” cheered Valerius. “Watch out, Erebus!”
But before the team could set a foot on the bridge, a bolt of lightning from within a higher window of the tower struck the bridge, causing it to collapse.
“No!” said Galina.
“How will we get into the tower now?” moaned Rouvin.
“All is not yet lost, my friends,” reassured Nauplius. “There are some caverns that also go to the summit. We can still make it.”
“Good!” said Zanthe. “Lead us through!”
A trail near where the bridge was led down slightly, but it led into the portion of the mountain where the tower sat. Before the stair bridge was completed, the caverns were the only way to reach the summit, and therefore, the tower.
Before going into the caverns, Valerius looked once more out into the distance. Long before Erebus’ troublemaking, he himself remembered playing with Delphinia in the wintertime. Delphinia would wear an amber orange parka with jasmine colored mittens and belt, and saffron colored boots. It was as though she brought sunshine in the colder times. Her compassion was, in its own way, a source of warmth to Valerius and others.
Valerius’ attention soon turned to the task at hand, as he followed his companions into the caverns.
The caverns in Silver Artemis Mountain were filled with crystals, just as in the Crystal Caverns of Archapalaia, but these were in more ornate, intricate patterns than the ones in said island. And there were more varieties of colors. As with the previous crystal cavern, this area even had glowing crystals and glowing mushrooms to light the way.
Inside the cavern were thermal springs as well. Some were there naturally, but most were created there by magic during the early days of the tower’s construction.
In addition, there were elevator lifts in the caverns to help in the ascent. They looked old, but still well maintained.
“How could these elevators be still functional after all these years?” asked Rouvin.
A sound of rattling was heard.
“I think we’re about to find out!” said Valerius.
A couple of skeletons, most likely those who died during the construction period by one cause or another, soon rose up, wearing tattered remains of their clothes. They also picked up their pickaxes, shovels, and other tools they had during the last moments of their life, and were ready to use them as weapons.
“I say we should make it our sacred duty to return the souls to their rest,” giggled Galina.
“I’m for that!” replied Rouvin.
Zanthe cast a few spells that made the rock soft without it being super hot. This made the ground beneath the skeletons’ feet bones snare them like soft marshmallow fluff. Once they were in place, Zanthe cast another set of spells that trapped them. This made the skeletons easy targets for Valerius and Nauplius. The fight was over within seconds, but the five knew that this was just a warm-up for later encounters.
The group soon got onto the lift and carefully rode it up.
This time, there were walking dead—zombies, if you will—that approached. Since they had some semblance of flesh on them, they were more recent than the skeletons. One could guess that they were previous adventurers that pushed their luck too much and perished in the caverns. In any case, they were ready to latch onto the travelers and do harm to them.
Galina cast a few lightning bolts that burned the clothing of the walking dead, so they would burn to ashes before they could cause any damage.
The five continued through these caverns, fighting more skeletons and zombies along the way. Soon, they found an elevator lift with some light from the outside—most likely sunlight—shining through the hole.
“We’re almost at the summit!” said Nauplius.
But as they got closer to the lift, bones of a large dragon—these bones were unmistakably that of a dragon—knit themselves together, and an eerie, green-white glow surrounded them. They formed into a Ghost Dragon.
The Ghost Dragon roared in an almost eerie version of the roar it had in life. It spat out orbs of magic from its mouth, which might be a replacement of fire or whatever its breath element was when it was alive.
“Distract it as long as possible,” said Zanthe. “I’ll try to find its weakness.”
Everyone else nodded, and they soon ran about.
Valerius waved his Plasma Blade about in a mocking tone. The undead dragon roared and spat at it. The human hero swung the blade like a baseball bat and sent the shots back at it. They did not do much visible damage, but it did disorient the hulk quite well.
Nauplius went up to the dragon skeleton’s back left leg and swung his hammer at the foot bones. The beast seemed to hop in pain despite being dead. This made the five adventurers laugh a bit.
Soon, Zanthe was able to sense where the weak point was.
“Friends,” she said. “I sense the magic giving the beast un-death is in the skull. You must smash the skull!”
Rouvin shot some arrows into one of the skull’s hollow eye sockets. This allowed Nauplius to swing upwards and make the skull fly up into the ceiling, where it broke into four sections upon impact.
The rest of the skeleton body collapsed onto the ground, and the ghostly glow subsided. At last, the Ghost Dragon returned to its rest.
The party approached the elevator lift and rode up. They had made it to the summit, and it was an hour and a half before the sun began to set.
“Wow!” said Nauplius. “Even I’M impressed how much we covered in a short time.”
“Don’t get too blown away,” said Valerius. “We still need to stop Erebus.”
The five sat outside the tower entrance, resting for a few minutes and having some of their rations. Once their energy was restored, the party soon entered into the tower.
But Erebus would not be taken unawares, as he had arranged more Werewolf Warriors within. Also, there were some Mountain Orcs. These Orcs were similar to the porcine orcs of Rhudis Island, but had various tones of blue and violet for their skin, and had weaponry that reflected that element.
In fact, practically all of the monsters that the party had faced thus far were in the tower, preparing to give all they had to ensure their master succeeded in his plot.
“Sounds like we’re going to have to earn our audience with Erebus,” said Galina.
“Let’s get crackin’, Jack—and Jill!” said Nauplius.
At once, the party began to fight the monsters that guarded the way up the tower.
As the party began their ascent, Erebus stood on the top of the tower. The sun was almost starting to set, and the full moon would soon rise.
“Ha, ha, ha,” laughed Erebus. “They’ll never reach me before I have ascended to godhood!”
He soon began the foul Forbidden Ritual.
First, he took out the vial containing Delphinia’s blood and poured it on the Crystal Dragon Heart, which absorbed the blood like a sponge. Once the fluid was soaked up, it began to give off a pulsating glow, like the heart itself had sprung to life again.
Erebus then placed the heart onto a pedestal, and he took out the Glowing Lodestone and Black Steel Dagger. Aiming at just the right angles, he struck the lodestone with the dagger, causing blue-white sparks to fly into the heart, and made the heart glow lavender.
Once that was done, the evil warlock placed the Indigo Crystal, sideways, onto the Crystal Dragon Heart, and a sphere of eerie magical energy began to form above the combined artifact.
Finally, with an evil grin of triumph, Erebus placed the Crown of the Tyrant onto his head. The orb of magic then flew like a cannon shot into Erebus, and the glow surrounded his whole being. An evil transformation had begun!
The sounds of battle echoed throughout the tower, and they only momentarily quieted down when the party entered the occasional elevators to rest, heal their wounds, and get shortcuts up the floors.
Some occasions, though, they had to go down a few floors to find the correct elevator to go higher up.
“Erebus must’ve sabotaged some of the elevators,” assumed Rouvin. “He probably wants to stall for as much time as possible.”
“Well,” replied Valerius, “whatever the case, if he thinks he can stop us from stopping his plans, he’s wrong!”
“That’s the spirit, friend,” said Zanthe.
Soon, the party found the right combination of floors and elevators, which really reduced the amount of climbing they needed to do. As well as reduce the number battles they would’ve had to do otherwise.
The sun had almost completely set when the party reached the roof of the tower, and the full moon had just finished clearing above the mountains.
But when they got to the roof, they looked in horror, as the transformation of Erebus was half complete. His skin glowed a sinister aura, and his eyes glowed fiery colors of crimson, flame orange, and golden yellow. He was currently a demigod, and was not going to stop until he was fully a god.
"Advice is free, Alexander. Making use of it costs much more!" --Ali the bookshop owner, from King's Quest VI: Heir Today, Gone Tomorrow
Maverick Hunter D-Boy at your service!
All Hail Shadow! Heroes rise again! Obliterating everything that's not your friend!