The Ruins of Auromia, Session Six: Bath House Battle

Pressing deeper into the overgrown city, the group soon discovered an ancient mercantile district by the foot of a hill. There was a cave in the side of the hill, with a dim light coming from within. Outside, a statue of a noble woman stood. It was covered with moss and vines, giving her a living green dress and a crown of ivy leaves. The group entered the tunnel. It stretched deep inside, further than the size of the hill would suggest possible. Flowers grew from all the walls and the floor of the tunnel, and Sorrel plucked some and made a floral crown for herself. At the end of the tunnel, a young woman wearing a floral crown like Sorrel's and an ancient tunic sat in front of a fire, singing to herself. The fire cast shadows over her face and over the wall. She greeted the explorers without seeming to recognise them: it was Pia, who had been taken by the city what seemed like an age before. Pia gave them all an ancient wooden goblet of dark red wine to drink from before they could enter to see the goddess, and all save Forza drank. It tasted of fruit, and left them all dazed and light-headed. Then they made their way through a new tunnel that opened up - all save Forza, who found himself outside the hill again. He waited for hours, but there was no sign of the others. Eventually, as he prepared to leave, the other five emerged from the cave. To them, it was as if only minutes had passed. They had seen the goddess, Tellaia herself, the earth mother, and stood in her awe-inspiring presence. She was unnaturally tall and beautiful, with a dress of living leaves that changed their season to match her mood, long hair that turned into a cloud of butterflies at its end, and about her brow a crown of antlers and myrtle leaves: another of the sacred artifacts. They had sworn themselves to her service; especially Sorrel, whose crown was now alive upon her head as a sign of the goddess' pleasure. They were to prove themselves in battle against her enemy, her sister Urbina, by claiming back a bath-house that Tellaia wanted to wash in.

Allies came to aid them then: animals and elementals and stranger beings still. Peisinoe the harpy queen, who they had fought with before, was their leader. She still remembered Accluso's arrows, and had not forgiven them. The stag that had stolen Pia away came with its brethren and bore them to the bathhouse, before darting away. The bath house was a huge complex, now open to the sky, but its waters still steamed. There was only a small force of Urbina's soldiers there: four ghost-soldiers, pressed into eternal service, four giant ants in suits of brazen armour, and two waspish archers who fired arrows like stingers from their bows. The fighting here was fierce, and the wasps rained deadly fire down upon the others. In desperation, Forza drew the sword Durofende forth and claimed it as his own. It was the ancient blade of the Goddess of War, which his family line had guarded for the thousand years since the fall of the Auromian Empire, which his mother had warned him never to wield. He felt the power of the goddess and took it as his own. Using its power, he was easily able to lead the others to victory over Urbina's forces.

Image: 'Ancient Ruins Used as Public Baths.' Hubert Robert, 1798.


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