Having collected all three runic keystones, hidden behind clever traps, countless Banes, and winding passages that turned at impossible angles, we returned to the central hall, ready to face the spirit trapped behind the mystic shield. There was no doubt in my mind that, once we properly placed the keystones, it would be freed, and it would attack. Each member of our party giving a nod in readiness, we walked warily towards the glowing sphere, and the cloud-like thing trapped inside.

As we placed the keystones the creature seemed to follow us with what could best be described as its eyes – two pits of darkness within the hazy creature. It started to move more frantically with each stone we correctly placed, and we all stood back, arms ready, as Verse slotted the final key before sprinting back to the group. No sooner than she made it back to us, the sphere exploded, loosing the creature into the room after unknown years of confinement. It roared, a sound we heard as much with our minds as we did our ears, and charged us, no sign of emotion or intelligence beyond blind hatred and rage.

Summoned by the noise, Banes began to fill into the room from dark recesses, swirling with othernatural energies. We were separated, split by the sheer number of enemies, and each found ourselves fighting for our lives, unable to call for or count on assistance. I did my best to work my way toward where I heard Barik, knowing he was the only one of us without a truly effective weapon against these uncommon foes. Soon we were back-to-back, cleaving and striking anything that dared come near. I couldn’t see Verse or Eb, but flashes of arcane spellfire and the sound of deft fingers firing her new bow told me they were at least holding their own against the onslaught.

Peering through a gap in the combat, I saw the creature from the prison actually directing, gesturing to each of us, the banes moving as directed. “Kill the leader!” I shouted, not knowing if my words could be heard over the din of battle. Barik and I began carving a path toward the towering creature, even as more Banes clustered to try and prevent our advance.

Burning arrows rained from the sky as Eb lifted Verse over the combat with her magic, each shot striking the creature at the center of our hunt. It roared in pain, giving all of the Banes momentary pause.

“Now!” I yelled, and charged with Barik directly at the creature of smoke and fog. Our blades slashed, Verse’s arrows pierced, and Eb’s magical charges exploded all around us. Moments later, with eyes single to our purpose, the thing died with a soul-tearing wail that sent the Banes it had summoned fleeing back from whence they came.

Breathing heavily, I looked about the room. Verse was holding an unconscious Eb, supporting her and trying to lift her to a seated position. Barik was shaken, and finally allowed himself to sit down, confident the battle had been finally won. All of us were bloody, battered, and bruised, but we had won the day.

The Regent’s artifact was finally ours, and with it the way into Sentinel Stand Keep opened.