Tobias stands first, and makes his way over to the body, but Edward and Kor stay back. With a look around the sanctuary, you see a table heavy laden with gold and three shining jewels. The heavy stone doors open once again, and you turn to see the villagers tentatively enter the sanctuary. One of them, sidestepping the ruined curtains, gently grabs Kor’s arm. “Does this mean we’re free?”
The pyramid shakes in answer, the strange devices in the heart of Karavokos’s lair rumble and hum, but even as they fade from view, the room lightens. Daylight filters in through the vanishing walls; you can see trees. A forest takes shape around you, and the rest of the sanctuary disappears. Looking down the edge of the temple, you can see creatures, covered in shadow, escaping from the pyramid and into the trees. Wind, cold and fresh, whispers across your skin, and the mustiness of the pyramid fades away.
The forest isn’t familiar; the trees aren’t as dark, the branches aren’t as thick. From the height of the pyramid, you can easily see out of the edge of the forest. The terrain is strange, absent from your memory.
The villagers don’t hesitate, they climb down the edge of the pyramid as fast as they can manage. All of them except the young woman clinging to Kor’s arm. “I knew we’d get out, some day,” she whispers. “Thank you. I knew you’d protect us until the end, even if your companion the priest would rather have enslaved us and used us as a walking shield. It was undoubtedly respect for you and the others that stayed his hand.”
With that, she tentatively walks to the edge and starts the slow descent into the forest, leaving Kor standing at the top. Edward appears, stuffing one of the jewels into his pocket. “Onward?”
“Not just yet.” Kor turns to look at Tobias, without whom no victory could have been achieved. He is standing over Fenrir’s body, saying a blessing. Nevertheless, hatred burns in your heart. Those men and women, free at long last, had narrowly escaped the tyranny of your own party. Edward, seeing the glare, steps away, removing the jewels back out of his pocket. He begins trying to juggle them, his back toward the otehrs.
Tobias smiles at Kor, relieved as the rest of them to be out of the stench of Koravokos’s lair. “A battle well fought, I believe.”
“Yes. But you know what would have made it a much simpler task?” Kor removes his dagger, polishing it with the hem of his shirt. “Human sacrifice.”
Tobias’ reflexes are fast enough that he ducks out of the way of the dagger, but he can do nothing to avoid Kor’s free hand, which catches onto the fabric of his priestly garments. Edward barely turn quickly enough to see Tobias as he flies of the edge of the pyramid, his amulet flashing uselessly in the sun as he plummets to the earth.
You can hear the crash, and soon after, a cheering from the villagers. It’s a small sound from such a distance, but enough to seal Tobias’s fate. “If he’s not dead now,” Kor says, sheathing his dagger, “he will be soon enough.”
“Regrettable,” says a familiar voice, and you all whirl around. A maiden stands before you, fair hair curling around her shoulders. Her eyes are dark, but hold nothing but gratitude. Vyrellis.“Still, the most worthy heroes remain. Your noble companion will find peace here, the pyramid will return his body to the forest, where he will rest. Your other companion will not slumber so peacefully, and may his god have mercy on him. Alas, it is now my sad duty to tell you of the ruin left behind by this prison.”
She waves her hand, and suddenly the three of you are outside of the forest, in one of the shallow valleys you saw from atop of the pyramid. “Your world has vanished. There is no shadow of it left, only the blood and sorrow that has become water for this sad forest. It was a time for heroes, yet no heroes stood, and all has passed into darkness and out again.”
“We lingered too long.”
Vyrellis nods, gesturing at the sparse land around them. “But had you rushed carelessly through the prison, you still may not have returned in time, and I would still remain as I was. That hopeless place has cheated you, has cheated us all, out of any home we may once have had.” Then, with a faint smile, she adds, “But you have proven yourself heroes, and you will always find those who need your help. Help them, as you have helped me.”
She bows then, a princess of the eladrin, and her image fades away with the wind. You are left standing alone, the villagers out of sight and the tip of the pyramid still barely visible over the sad forest.
“So,” Edward asks, throwing one of the jewels into the air and catching it. “What now?”
Unsure of yourselves, you start to climb the nearest hill. A town, a village. Some place to find fresh food and rest. The rest can be damned until the morrow. You can almost smell a wood fire, some wild beast roasting slowly on a spit.
But no, that’s not your imagination. You can smell smoke, and from quite near…
Beyond the hill, a scream pierces the air.