Sleep has always been a hazardous, especially for adventurers, but when there’s a door into your head sleeping might well be like charging the gates of hell. Erky found sleep easy as he hadn’t remembered about the open door yet, and late that night his mind asleep his body was commandeered. Erky moved to his work area and using his own resources draw a symbol onto the floor before sitting in the middle and activating the linking signal.
A trail barely a thought wide lead a stream of magic from far to the north that build a proper link that dragged Erky’s mind and soul from his body then delivered it to the home he had escaped. A few hours later at the changing of the watch he’s absence from the sleeping quarters was noticed. Though with the lodges size he was found fast and since he was sitting in a pulsing magical circle with more power than Quara had ever seen she ordered that no one enter the circle. Her knowledge of such circles only gave her that is was a trap, she didn’t know what it did or how to undo it. So she instead read through all their books on magic to find more information.
She learn little but a few key points, it was a marker used to link two points of planer travel. It seemed that unlike the ones she read about this one didn’t move the target body and soul, and was likely to be reversible. Armed and ready for a fight Gepav, Lia, Quara, Rupert and Varric stepped into the circle.
A sudden lightness and freedom came over the party as they watched their bodies disappear beneath them. Pulled on a immense and unseen force they quickly accelerated toward the north mountains and clouds became a blur but then slowed and refocused as they approach a city they had all seen before. It was the very city they had all last seen before their journey south began.
Their flight took them where none of them had even been straight into the Gnome Quarter. Their lightness and freedom ended and they found themselves standing in an identical magical circle as the one in the lodge. Even with Erky sitting in the middle but unlike the static motionless body in the lodge here Erky was very animation as he struggled against chains that bound him.
The party only clearly saw each other and the chains that bound Erky everything else was a blur and difficult to make out any details. But they all released that there was two gnome with magical chain linking to Erky, Quara knew this magic, it was mind control and likely a second attempt as they Erky was able to resist it. Still not knowing the nature of the magic that brought them here she told the other to remain within the circle but to take out the gnomes.
The gnomes where so focused on their assault on Erky that they had failed to notice the party until they were attacked. Heavily drained from attacking Erky they didn’t put up much of a fight, magic and projectiles flew but when they were defeated instead of falling their form simply dispersed like they had been made of smoke. Before one had been defeated he was able to pull a rope leading to a guard room alarm above. In the brief pause before the guards arrived Erky said that they could and would need to leave the magic circle. The chains that bound him were dependant on the statues holding them.
Rupert attempted to break one but only scratched it, Gepav snored and made a quick inspection of the stone statue before carefully placing a piton hit it once with his hammer. The statue crumbled under its weakness, releasing Erky right side. Erky then pointed to a part of the wall, which was actually a black curtain surrounding the whole room, and said that there was the entrance that two guard would soon be entering.
The party readied for the new threat and as a gnome in full plate wasn’t silent they knew when to strike he stepped through the curtain only to have magic throw him back through. Gepav leaped after him thinking another quick and easy victory was at hand. But even prone the plated gnome was hard to hit cleanly and once the gnome regained his feet his sword flew fast and true into the side of Gepav’s head. The attack held more power than the gnome himself was capable, divine magic of a paladins deity had enhanced the attack and Gepav fell.
As Gepav fell unconscious he realized he wasn’t unconscious and thought how, what was going on, then he remember his body wasn’t here so he only thought he was hit and hurt. The damage he had suffered closed and the weapons he had used returned, he restored to when he had first arrived on plane. The paladin didn’t notice this restoration and stepped over the fallen dwarf to attack the rest of the party.
A shadow moved in behind the paladin and remained unknown behind the curtain. An assassin stalked the party as they focused on the paladin. Seen only as a movement in the curtain they moved away from the walls forcing the assassin out but even still his attacks were precise and hitting vital locations with ease, the party was glad that their real bodies weren’t here. The assassin and paladin were hard to hit in their own ways but they fell quickly as those that fell stood quickly feeling invincible in this plane of thought.
With the fight over Erky free and immanent threats resolved Erky explained the situation. This was the manor when he had learned magic and all his knowledge. The gnomes had attacked him through a small statue that was here in the manor and if not destroyed they would continue to attack him, and possibly even attack them. The gate way that had brought them here was controlled by their own thoughts, simple wishing to return would allow them to do so.
Erky directed the party up the stairs to the first floor basement where the guards had been stationed, the room now empty Erky quickly informed the rest of the party that no objects could be taken back when they left. With nothing but servant quarters and storage on this floor they continued up to the ground floor.
The stair lead straight into another guard room Rupert and Varric snuck up to see the two guards playing cards. Though they were curious as to why they hadn’t responded to the fighting they had been doing down stairs or the alarm, another issue drew their attention. This floor held windows that looked out into a void of nothing, this was an absolute nothing and Rupert almost totally flipped out at the sight. He managed to slip back down stairs undetected before curling up in a corner, Erky having been in this plane before and was so use to the sight that he had forgotten that most new comers had such reactions to the void.
A few minutes of convincing and positive help from his party Rupert shrugged off the strange fear, drowned mostly in sham that he had to be treated like a scared child afraid of the dark. Now recovered Erky told they that sound didn’t carry in this plane, in fact only a focused mind might notice something was even there. This mean they could probably all get in the guard room before the guards even knew they were there.
The battle with the two guards ended fast the party barely caring about hits as they thought themselves invincible. Erky knew better but didn’t know how much to tell them, if they knew too much they would become targets for the gnomes and unlike with himself they were likely to just be killed and have their souls enslaved. This in mind as he remember that that the war room and office were just off this guard room, these held more information about Sylta.
As the party got use to the sight outside the window he moved into the war room to see if he could gather information, he having never been in the war room himself warned the party not to look at too much or learn anything just in case. From his search he learned that the mountain to the north west of Sylta was home a an ancient red dragon “Grim Dark”, most likely not his real name. It was him that had stopped the empire from expanding into the south, a map showed that he had claim a large area as his own which included almost all of Sylta.
This new was disturbing but the information suggested that he was mostly inactive as he was given tribute by sailors at a coastal city on the west side of his mountain and no villages were build in his territory. There were listings of past villages that he had burned, three had been in Sylta. Little else was know about Sylta only rough notes about the inhabitants nothing the party didn’t already know.
Erky then moved to the office but found that it wasn’t empty. As they entered the Gnome at the desk was clearly writing a scroll and all his attention was focused into doing that. Erky laughed and told them to ignore him, but not to get directly in his line of sight or touch him. The plane of thought enhanced your focus at the expense of awareness.
This room held information on the trades that when south along the Sylta coast, trading furs and magic item components from the centaurs there for mostly food. Erky also found the records on the expeditions that had sent them to the south in the first place, he discovered the count, supplies and date of the next ones heading south. To this he and Rupert created a convincing forgery on the documents and added a copper still to the supplies.
Satisfied with this they moved to leave but the gnome writing the scroll suddenly cursed and the scroll in his hands exploded. The gnome and his writing equipment and the fragments of the scroll vanished in black smoke. Erky laughed as this made returning the forged document was so much easier now, the gnome mistake in crafting had aided them. Though Erky also felt that he probably failed because they where there, an unconscious itch that distracted him.
With new information and resources set to arrive the party decided to hurry out to avoid any further contact as each meant exposure and becoming targets for the gnomes. They quickly and quietly headed up to the attic to find Erky’s statue, encountering no one else on their way up. Once they reached the attic they saw a crack in the plane that pulsed with magical power, this was the source of the gnomes power. Fortunately they didn’t have time to study this ultimate secret as the guardian detected intruders and activated.
The guardian didn’t look like a gnome but more an animated suit of armour, the party was quicker getting a few hits in before it fully activated. Thinking another easy fight was about to happen Erky ignored the guardian and searched for his statue instead. He spotted it in one of the side chambers, these room had clear walls that one might have thought where glass. The doors to each had a panel that required a code to enter, Erky knew these codes and hoped that hadn’t been changed since he left.
The guardian now fully activated drew two battle axes and closed on Gepav nearly dropping him in one series of attacks. It was fast and hit hard, it also resisted the bulk of the damage that the party threw at it. Erky realised this was no push over he gave a warning the party that taking too much damage a once could really kill them. This helped little as Gepav was cut down his form blurred and flickered as he suffered in the thoughts that had he been in his body he would have died from that hit.
Erky saw the party falling and figure that if he could destroy the statue they could instantly leave with a thought instead of fight the guardian. He entered the code and to his relief the door opened, he knew that the if the statue was destroyed by magic in the right way the gnomes would think he had died and stop pursuing him. He called up his remaining magic hit the statue, but it only cracked he didn’t have magic left to destroy it correctly.
Erky returned to the door and called Quara to help and noticed that only Varric now stood against the guardian in melee. Lia and Gepav lay on the ground blurred and flickering, they could leave but they would take the thoughts of their damage with them and most likely die from stock. If the treat was remove he knew their mind could relax and recover easier and the guardian was heavily damaged and failing. He moved to cover and Started to at support to Varric and Rupert to bring the Guardian down.
Quara approached the statue and studied the cracks to find the right place as she hit it with magic. Her well placed hit caused the statue to crumble and fall just as Erky had describe it need to. Satisfied she returned to the door to help them defeat the guardian, as she reached the door Varric was cut down too. Her attack caught the guardians attention and no one standing to fight in melee she closed the door between herself and the guardian.
Almost as insult the guardian walked up to the door and entered the code. Eyes wide with fear Quara said “There’s no place like home, There’s no place like home.” and vanished in a puff of black smoke. At this point Gepav was able to recover his mind and stood once more to attack the guardian, Lia and Varric quickly followed but even as heavily damaged as it was the guardian still beat Gepav and Lia down again. Varric, who had remain out of melee this time, drew a final arrow thinking “Just die already.” to his relief the guardian obliged his request and it changed into black smoke.
His relief was short lived as the smoke didn’t dissipated like the others had but instead moved to a panel and started to reform. At this point Gepav and Lia had recovered again and they all thought “Home please.” and vanished in black smoke. All except Erky who had slipped downstairs and made his way to the library, this was likely to be the last chance to get near one he had intentions not to waste this opportunity. Armed with Quara’s and his own magic write inks he was able to spend four hours researching spells and coping down notes to make learning them easier.
Once the inks ran dry he closed his spell book satisfied and returned with a thought. Soul who had decided not to go was still turning away as the party returned. Only a few seconds has pasted in all that time Erky was stationary for half a minute longer than the others. Within the plane of thought time moved differently, one sec outside was one thousand inside. Triumphant about the massive success of their little trip ended abruptly as the side effects of entering the plane of thought hit.
Massive waves of exhaustion cause most of the party to fall helplessly to the floor, even Erky who was use to enter the plane fell, never had he been in for so long. Several hours of real world time had passed since he had been taken, to him several days of thought had passed. Also he had been under attack almost continually during that time too. Rest would be easy for a few days.