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17 January 2004 - Saturday

Dave and I were awake until 2:00 watching Al play a remote descendent of Arkanoids called Ricochet. I think Marith and Sherilyn were up even later burbling, so there was much sloth in the morning. I suppose it's theoretically possible that Harold was sensible, but if so, we set him a bad example. Anyway, we eventually got our acts together for...

Amazon Quartet of Justice VIIb: "On the Path of the Sun! Trial by Fire!"

After fending off the spectral assault, Our Heroines retreat to their pocket dimension for the rest of the night. When they open the gate the next morning, they see sunlight pouring out of the mouth of the dungeon. Since the sun is rising on the other side of the sky, they find this somewhat peculiar, but by the time Fresa is done with her prayers, the light from the dungeon has faded without obvious effect.

Exploration straight in from the entrance reveals a long, straight, highly magical tunnel that should intersect the labyrinthine architecture of the rest of the place, but doesn't. The tunnel ends at what they calculate should be the same position as the center of the complex, however. After working some magic, Amaryllis and Fresa set out to examine the rest of the dungeon before the spell expires, but are immediately jumped by a vampire, some sort of flying-head monster, and a summoned imp. The latter two are quickly done in, but the vampire turns to mist and escapes through tiny crevices in the rock.

Now able to read the inscriptions on the walls, the Amazons determine that the complex is a temple to the god now known as Pelor, but contains nothing interesting except one inscription that translates as "We honor the sacrifice of Avalon and comply with [his/their] wishes as best we can, for the time will come when the fate of the world rises or falls on [his/their] legacy.". They open the gate to their pocket dimension in the hallway that the sunlight came from and wait for the next dawn.

As the sun rises at the mouth of the tunnel, its inner end melts away to let the light of the sun pour out from somewhere beyond. The radiance doesn't seem to be harmful, so Gabrielle, who happens to be a lay worshipper of Pelor, leads the Amazons through the portal into a realm of brilliant light.

The personage at the gate asks each "What is your name?", "What is your quest?", and one more question. For Gabrielle, the question is "What god do you worship?" (Pelor), for Fresa it's "Can you heal?" (yes), for Amaryllis, "Can you call fire?" (yes), and for Alyra, "Are you a virgin?" (no, surprisingly enough). When all his questions are answered, he gestures the Amazons past, and they enter a land where sky, earth, trees, and all are composed of sunlight.

Following the obvious path, Our Heroines soon come to a river. As they cross the ford, a water elemental attacks from concealment, severely battering Fresa. Gabrielle confuses it with a spell and scrambles up onto the far bank, and Amaryllis teleports herself and the other two to safety. The elemental charges Gabrielle, who did not get quite out of reach, but then the four are able to outdistance it on land. As it returns to the river, it salutes them.

The next test is first seen bounding over hills in the distance; as it draws nearer, the Amazons can see that it is the offspring of a dragon and a celestial dire sheep. Fortunately for Our Heroines, it has the brains of a sheep rather than of a dragon, and Amaryllis is able to blind it, produce a stone wall for it to batter its head against, and then roast it, without any of the Quartet being endangered.

From there, the way becomes drier and less verdant, until the Amazons are trekking through desert hills. The path leads through a small bowl-shaped depression, surrounded by magic wards, within which waits a minotaur. Since this is obviously another test, the four prepare themselves for battle and enter the arena. The minotaur downs Alyra, but Amaryllis teleports her to safety and pours healing potions into her while Fresa and Gabrielle finish it off. Just as it falls, though, two handsome celestials charge in from the opposite direction. One, mounted on horseback, rushes right in to the fray, while his winged friend (of the same kind as Gabe) hangs back a bit and attacks with magic. The rider, who is not particularly immune to magic, doesn't fare too well, but when his comrade calls for a parley, keeps fighting until his own friend knocks him unconscious to keep the fight from going on until someone got killed.

The winged celestial introduces himself as Paolo, admits that the Amazons have passed this test, and apologizes for his young impetuous brother, but does suggest that anyone following the sun's path should complete it by sundown. Healing is exchanged, no dates are made, and with a couple of scrolls with Flame Strike spells, Our Heroines journey onward.

The path of the sun leads into more fertile terrain, and then to the edge of a sea. Waiting for the Amazons on the beach is the biggest crab they have ever seen. Possibly, the biggest crab anyone has ever seen. Given time, they could probably do it in, but there doesn't seem to be any reason to do so, when they can outrun it, so they just leave it behind.

* * *

We broke there so that Harold could get home early enough to spend some with Danelle, so the path of the sun will have to be completed in our next episode, currently scheduled for 7 February.

This means we got home in time for me to write 116 words before passing out.

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