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A history of Hellbound

A History of Hellbound
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After Beleth had, presumably with some help from his followers, escaped from the dungeon under the Ivory Tower, he made his way to what is now known as "Hellbound Island". His problem was that this place was not empty. Although the whole island is permeated with an evil force - which is why Beleth was attracted to it in the first place - it had an autochthonous population with quite a high level of culture and civilisation. So he first of all killed Hannibal, a soothsayer and seer who was, via her third eye, able to communicate directly with the gods and enjoyed a very high respect among the natives. Bereft of their spiritual leadership, the local people soon fell for his promises of wealth and power.

Once he was firmly established on the island, Beleth summoned more of his followers to him. Suddenly the natives found themselves no longer masters of their own land. The Dwarf Tully, Beleth's long-time assistant and a genius when it came to engineering tasks, built for the "Devil" in the eastern half of the island the Steel Citadel, a massive castle secured by outer fortifications and consisting of three mighty towers: the Base Tower, the Tower of Infinitum and the Tower of Naia, where Beleth himself resides. For his own needs and pleasure Tully built a huge workshop of eight floors. This workshop is at present guarded by Beleth's general Darion, a deadly fighter clad in heavy armor and wielding a large sword as well as a heavy shield he likes to slam into those challenging him. A huge structure like the Steel Citadel, even if it is rather dimly lighted, requires an enormous amount of energy just for its regular day to day operation, and in addition to that there was the machinery in Tully's workshop. Therefore the Dwarf built in the western part of the island a receptor array, called "Enchanted Megaliths" by the natives, that collected the evil energies permeating Hellbound and channeled them to the Steel Citadel for further use.

As anybody can imagine, the construction of such an impressive fortress required an enormous amount of materials. First of all, Tully's workers resp. enslaved natives opened up a huge quarry in the center of the island to get the rocks for the foundations of the Citadel. Although the necessary steel and other high-grade materials were provided by the evil forces from a different dimension Beleth had allied himself with, the construction project still needed a lot of wood: for the scaffolding, for the temporary workers' accomodations on the site and even for the workers' cooking fires. Hellbound, as the name suggests, had never been a nice place. It had always had an arid climate that supported only a sparse vegetation. In the time it took to complete the Steel Citadel, Tully's men literally felled every last tree on the island, turning it into the bleak desert it is now. This ecological disaster was compounded and made worse by the magical barrier Beleth erected to isolate his hiding place. This force field did not only block any normal access to the island - Hellbound can only be reached via two Warpgates in Heine and at the southern entrance of the Wastelands - it also stopped the rain-carrying clouds coming in from the sea. The desert climate led to a serious problem: what should all the natives Beleth had either charmed or subjugated eat now? The answer was obvious: fish. But Beleth did not trust even the charmed collaborators to go out on fishing boats - they might keep on sailing until they reached the mainland, leaking information about his new power base to the Ivory Tower wizards. Therefore he made his own "fishermen". In a basin south of the Steel Citadel he set up a factory, among the natives known as "Anomic Foundry", where he created, using techniques he had discovered in the Archaic Laboratory, a great number of monsters, slightly resembling sharks, but with two arms and two legs, so that they could serve in a double function as soldiers, slave supervisors etc., strengthening his hold on the island.

But the natives did not take this lying down. Soon a Resistance Movement formed, a coalition of the ancient, shamanistic inhabitants of the island and the so-called "newcomers" who had arrived from the mainland in a later wave of settlement, seeking new opportunities to acquire wealth and fame. In order to get a grip on the continuously deteriorating security situation, Beleth's general Darion has given out special tokens, both to the monsters under his command as well as to native collaborators, which identify them and permit them to travel freely throughout Hellbound. Those travel permits, known as "Darion's Badges", are of course much sought after by the Resistance Movement.

Adventurers wanting to gain the trust of the Resistance Movement must first of all procure for them a certain number of Darion's Badges, preferably by killing monsters that carry them. Some of those monsters can be found right in the harbour area, where anybody arriving at Hellbound Island via the Warpgates gets deposited: the Junior Watchmen, the Junior Summoners, the Blind Huntsmen and the Blind Watchmen. A certain distance southwest of the harbour, at the Enchanted Megaliths, one finds Arcane Scouts, Arcane Guardians (vampiric succubi) and Arcane Watchmen. With every monster one slays in the harbour area (they are all highly aggressive), the level of trust one enjoys with the Resistance Movement increases by one point, with every monster killed at the Enchanted Megaliths it increases by three points. A certain problem for would-be resistance fighters is that those monsters don't take seriously single adventurers. They often will only appear when groups of five or more enemies enter their area, although sometimes they just show up out of the empty air, attacking like mad anybody they see. Everybody be warned: those monsters, like all others on hellbound, are formidable foes! A Junior Summoner can kill an experienced combat-wizard with two shots at most, even if he has full support magic and is wearing the best equipment there is, while a Blind Watchman can drain that wizard's magical power in one cast. And a single Arcane Scout at the Enchanted Megaliths can wipe out a whole party of seven persons within a few minutes. Trying to sneak past those Scouts by using concealment magic will not work; they can see through the Dance of Shadows, or any other silent move skills like Stealth. None of the monsters on the island can be wrested down by a single fighter, and even a group should have a long experience of hunting together, with every move well practised and having become second nature to them.

When the members of the group have colllected 20 of Darion's Badges each and their trust level has reached 300,000 points (yes, three hundred thousand), they should make their way to the Hidden Oasis southeast of the Megaliths. There they can find the trader Falk, riding on his well-armed native servant, who will exchange Darion's Badges against a Basic Caravan Certificate. (The Caravan is a third faction that is not happy with Beleth's rule; by enslaving the population, the "Devil" has significantly reduced their customer base). Collecting 300,000 trust points does take some time. Adventurers in a hurry can shorten this by specifically killing Junior Watchmen and Junior Summoners, thus saving Subjugated Natives and Charmed Natives from Beleth's cruel oppression. For each of those supervisor monsters killed, one's level of trust increases 10 points. If one should, however, by mistake kill one of those native, which are aggressive as long as they are still in thrall to their overseers, the trust level will fall 10 points.

A further step necessary for anybody wanting to join the fight against Beleth is to acquire clothing as the indigenous people wear it. As with all tribal cultures, they have only one uniform set of "folk dress" consisting of a "helmet" (actually a head cloth), a tunic and trousers. All those pieces of clothing can be obtained from Tailor Buron at the harbour. He won't sell them for money, however, but wants ten of Darion's Badges for each. With putting on this folk dress, one acquires the skill to turn into a real native. Then everybody has to collect five more of Darion's Badges and move again to the Hidden Oasis. There they will find Bernarde, with whom they can exchange those Badges against Holy Water (Bernarde will only talk to persons wearing native dress). This Holy Water is necessary to anoint the Remnant Diabolists and Remnant Diviners haunting the Ancient Temple Remnants in the southeastern corner of the island, so that they can rest in peace.

This is easier said than done. Those ghosts, filled with bitterness about the injustice that has been done to them, are quite hard to kill. Even when they have lost all their blood they persistently refuse to die. This is the moment when the Holy Water must be applied. Only then the ghosts will leave this world. People venturing into the Temple Remnants should not worry: a small drop of Holy Water is absolutely sufficient to relieve the ghosts of their suffering; the bottle they have purchased from Bernarde will be practically inexhaustible. And an additional advantage is that with every Diabolist or Diviner one kills, the level of trust one enjoys with the Resistance Movement grows by five points.

Laying the ghosts in the Ancient Temple Remnants to rest is something one does out of compassion. If adventurers want to obtain a higher certificate of trust from the Caravan, helping the Resistance Movement to establish good relations with that faction, they should move on to the Sand Swept Dunes. There they can find Wandering Caravans who have betrayed their colleagues and have been expelled from the community. Apart from those rogue traders, there are also Sand Scorpions and Desert Scorpions living in the Dunes. Adventurers would do the Caravan a big favour if they killed the traitors for them and made the desert safe by eliminating the Scorpions - while always keeping an eye on the Sandstorms, Desiccators and Sand Devils, dusty whirlwinds controlled by skeletal warriors inside. For 30 Traitor's Necklaces and 60 Scorpion Poison Stingers, Caravan Merchant Hude, who is staying at the Caravan Encampment east of the Sand Swept Dunes will issue a Standard Caravan Certificate to adventurers who have collected 600,000 trust points.

Once somebody has obtained the Standard Caravan Certificate, they can buy from Hude the Caravaner's Remedy for 25,000 adena per bottle. A major problem in the desert is the extreme heat that is sapping everybody's life force and makes it only possible to hunt there during the night. The Caravaner's Remedy counteracts this effect. Once taken, it protects an adventurer for one hour from the heat of the sun. But everybody should keep in mind that the Caravan traders take their relationships very seriously. Even if somebody paid for the Remedy, this is still a personal gift to this one specific person. It can not be passed on to sombody else and it can also not be dropped on the ground, where anybody could pick it up.

The next stage on the path to an accepted resistance fighter would be the Battered Lands, which can be reached via a corridor from the harbour area. Be warned: at the end of that corridor there are about five Wounded Land Guards in a row, barring access. And behind them there is an invisible barrier that can only be crossed by adventurers who have gathered enough experience on the island. By using concealment magic you will be able to run up to the Guards and even past them, but that is a trap. If you are unable to cross the barrier and have to retreat, the Guards will take very much notice of you and promptly squash you flat.

To eliminate the invisible barrier blocking access to the Battered Lands, adventurers have to go to the natives' village south-west of the Hidden Oasis. This is an important basis of the Resistance Movement and as such is often attacked by Beleth's demons. General Darion already has an inkling that the native resistance fighters are in the process of joining forces with adventurers from the mainland. Therefore he is sending his lieutenant Keltas with a large detachment of Enforcers and Executioners to the village every 2 to 4 hours, with orders to wipe out any resistance they encounter. Keltas and his platoon are executing this order to the letter: they are moving from house to house and killing anybody they see, no matter whether resistance fighter or civilian. Since the active resistance fighters are usually out in the desert, harassing Darion's troops, it is the women and children who stayed at home that get killed (which is the reason why there are now almost only men left on the island). There is especially one large building where the floor is strewn with corpses, but, although they are returning to their barracks after some time, Keltas and his detachment keep coming back. This is because they are searching for the valuables the natives have put by in better days. Of course, in a harsh environment like Hellbound there is not that much wealth that can be accumulated, but occasionally Keltas does find a treasure chest. This has also aroused the interest of the Caravan. Since the people at the village are dead anyway, it would be a shame to let those treasures fall into the hands of Darion's soldiers. Trader Jude will give a rich reward to any adventurer who brings him 40 treasure chests. In Darion's anti-insurgency squads, as in all armies, the loot goes to the commander. Therefore adventurers have to kill Keltas to obtain the treasure chests, which incidentally will also raise the level of trust they enjoy with the Resistance Movement by 100 points. Even killing Keltas' underlings will raise their trust level by 3 points for every dead Enforcer or Executioner. Being official members of Darion's army, those monsters usually carry the travel permits the Resistance Movement so urgently needs. If adventurers hand any of Darion's Badges they found on the killed monsters to Kief, the local area commander, their level of trust will go up by 10 points per badge.

When the adventurers have accumulated 1 million trust points, they should direct their steps again to the Ancient Temple Remnants. There they might now be able to find the ghost of Derek, a soothsayer of the First Age. Like Hannibal, Derek enjoyed a great respect among the natives, and if adventurers should succeed in laying his soul to rest - even after his death he has retained a lot of his former strength - their level of trust with the Resistance Movement will rise by 10,000 points. Then they are accepted enough to take part in real commando actions such as rescuing the slaves in the Quarry. This is not easy - the Quarry Foremen will Root any attacker, so that the Patrolmen with their Windstrikes and the Supervisors with their close-distance physical attacks can easily finish them off - but it will seriously undermine Beleth's economic basis and make it impossible for him to continue expanding his fortress, leaving him only his magic to defend himself. Once the guards near a group of slaves have been eliminated, one can talk with them and they will follow their rescuer. At the southern end of the Quarry there is a little road through the mountains that connects to the Caravan Encampment in the Sand Swept Dunes. This is the fastest way to lead them out. If the overseers notice that slaves are escaping, they will kill them without any thought to the economic loss, and the adventurers' level of trust with the Resistance Movement will go down by 10 points with every dead slave. But once a train of rescued slaves has reached the stone pillar at the southern exit of the mountain road, they are safe. (To express their gratitude, the slaves might even leave some materials on the ground). In the end, General Darion will have no alternative but to commence a tactical retreat, concentrating his forces behind the outer Enceinte of the Steel Citadel and abandoning most of the island to the Resistance Movement.

Still, Darion's army will do everything possible to defend the Steel Citadel's energy source. The general will dispatch his staff officer Hellinark to the Enchanted Megaliths, who then uses his considerable magical powers to summon Naia Failans, cactus-like crystalline beings who can cast evil curses on anybody whom they feel is threatening them and their master. In addition to that, Hellinark has a great number of Failan's Guards at his disposal. But now the united front of the natives, the "newcomers" and the Caravan is strong enough to attempt an attack on the Enchanted Megaliths. Once those are taken, the invisible barrier isolating the Battered Lands will fall and the Chimeras living there can be eliminated. For this purpose one first needs a magical bottle which can be obtained from Kief, who has now set up his command post in the central building of the village, for 20 Scorpion Poison Stingers. When a Chimera has been beaten almost to death and only 1/10 of its life energy remains, the magical bottle can be used to capture its life force: Dim Life Force or regular Life Force from the lesser Chimeras and Dim Life Force, regular Life Force or Contained Life Force from Celtus, their leader. If an adventurer has captured 80 units of regular Life Force and 20 units of Contained Life Force, he or she can exchange the Life Forces with Hude at the Caravan Encampment for a Premium Caravan Certificate. The owner of such a Certificate can then purchase from Hude recipes and parts for truly excellent equipment. The monsters on the island will upon their death occasionally drop an old book, the famous "Ancient Tome of the Demon". If one opens such a book, one will obtain, purely at random, a Demon Contract Fragment, a Hidden First Page or a Hidden Second Page. Hude will exchange his recipes and equipment parts against those pieces of paper, similar to the Luxury Shop in Giran, which takes D- and C-Grade Crystals. Thus well equipped, the resistance fighters will in their now unstoppable march sooner or later reach the outer gate of the Steel Citadel. Again, defeating the Enceinte Defenders is not easy. Some of them can take out single attackers over a long distance, both with magical and physical methods, while others can wipe out whole groups with one single strike in close-hand combat. But well-trained adventurers with good experience in coordinated fighting will eventually prevail. Once the Outpost Captain, a fierce horned devil using dual swords, is killed, the gate will open and the resistance fighters can proceed to liberate the slaves Beleth keeps at the oasis within. But everybody should be aware that Beleth's forces have very good intelligence. If adventurers have not yet forged strong enough bonds with the native Resistance Movement, the Outpost Captain will know it. While he, being an example in discipline to his soldiers, usually firmly stays at his post and pulls any attackers to him by magic, he might then rush out at a single enemy, trying to drive a wedge in the fragile front of the resistance fighters while at the same time satisfying his own personal bloodlust.

Turning south after the gate, one soon arrives at a little lake, with two trees and tents put up in their shade. The slaves living there are far from home. For their dangerous journey back to the west of the island they absolutely need those travel permits general Darion has given out. If adventurers donate five of Darion's Badges to a slave, this will help a lot to ensure his safe return, and it will also raise the level of trust they enjoy with the Resistance Movement. This oasis is the place where the legendary blacksmith Shadai can sometimes be met. He visits only occasionally, staying in one of the tents, but since he can change the armour adventurers have acquired from caravaner Hude in a way that best fits their needs - making it stronger but a bit heavier for Dwarves, lighter for archers etc. - it is worth waiting for him.

After talking to Kanaf, adventurers can then enter the market town that was supported by the oasis before Beleth arrived, getting both its food and its drinking water from there. Now this once thriving center of civilisation has changed. People who have been there have described it as "more like an instance of hell" - which is why Kanaf will only permit groups of two or more adventurers to enter the town. The natives there are being kept under control by Torture Expert Amaskari, a classical, red-skinned devil. Most of them are heavily traumatized; if one tries to talk to them, they just disappear, screaming that guards would be coming. After the victory at the Enchanted Megaliths a native commando unit of the Resistance Movement had tried to sneak into the town and free their brethren. But within a short time they were discovered and fierce fighting ensued. The major part of the commando was killed, while the rest were taken prisoner. Amaskari has succeeded in terrorizing the prisonerss to a degree where they will instantly do his bidding, no matter what it be. If adventurers are courageous enough to take him on, he will tell a great number of the broken men to attack those who have only their well-being in mind, even if it should cost them their life. As soon as Amaskari is dead, however, they are free and will run away. Once the natives in the town have been liberated, the Resistance Movement can start taking possession of the Steel Citadel itself.

First the prospective demon slayers must find a Keymaster in the town - he is often hiding inside of a building - and kill him, which should not be too hard. If they are lucky, he will have carried a Key of the Evil Eye, engraved with words in an ancient, dark-looking demon script. Walking to the northern end of the town, the adventurers must then insert this key - one for each group will be sufficient - into the little keyhole at the bottom of the Moonlight Stele they will find there in front of the Citadel's gate. After five minutes the whole group will be teleported inside. There might still be monsters in the town, intent on killing anybody they perceive as an intruder. So it pays to be carefull during those five minutes and occasionally look back over one's shoulder. Right after they have entered the Steel Citadel, a Body Destroyer wielding a double-bladed axe will be waiting for the intrepid adventurers. The name "Body Destroyer" is fully justified: he can curse attackers, predicting their death, and if he is not killed within 30 seconds thereafter, the cursed person will suddenly have only one single drop of blood left. Therefore it is necessary that the members of the group concentrate all their forces and eliminate the Body Destroyer as fast as possible, while those who got hit by his curse should immediately retire to a safe corner, sit down and try to recover their strength. There is a reward: Body Destroyers frequently carry on them a Forgotten Scroll where it is recorded how to call up an intelligent Cubic, a skill many knights and summoners are interested in learning. Apart from that, these particular officers often also carry other spellbooks.

Of course, defeating the Body Destroyer and the Soul Dominators under his command is not easy. It should only be attempted by really well equipped fighters and mages. Anybody who has not yet acquired top-grade weapons from Merchant Hude should, before they enter the Steel Citadel, direct their steps back to the Hidden Oasis. There they will now find the caravaner Jude. Unlike his colleagues, Jude is not only interested in commerce, but also in producing things, in adding value to raw materials. Jude is especially fascinated by the so-called "Evil Weapons" used by Darion's soldiers. He has already seen some samples and was really impressed by their excellent quality. Now he plans to study those weapons in detail, hoping to find a way to refine them, remove their evil aura, so that he can sell them in Aden at a great profit. For this purpose Jude needs in particular the weapons carried by the Lesser Evils and Greater Evils roaming the grounds of the Anomic Foundry, at the eastern end of the island. For 200 Evil Weapons he will give an adventurer a recipe to craft a truly excellent Icarus weapon, and for every 5 Evil Weapons he will pay with 3 Icarus parts. Only the best Warsmiths can craft weaponry of that level. They need 2 recipes and 18 parts as well as an enormous amount of material, and then there is still a chance of one out of three to fail. In addition to that, Jude gives out his recipes and parts at random, so an adventurer might end up with 3 Icarus Trident Pieces and 3 Icarus Wingblade Pieces. But since Hellbound is only suitable for groups anyway, everybody can combine their resources and together craft several weapons. Entering the Steel Citadel without the very best equipment is tantamount to suicide.

On their way back to the Steel Citadel adventurers might want to talk to the Dwarven architect Matras at the oasis behind the Enceinte gate. Matras was responsible for several of the buildings in the market town, but then, when Tully came and built the Steel Citadel, he was confronted with a whole new dimension of architecture. Matras' curiosity was aroused. After doing some research he came to the conclusion that the Steel Citadel might possibly have been built by several, independently working parties. That sounds certainly strange, but Matras was not able to find complete blueprints of the Citadel, and this was the the only way he could explain that phenomenon. At the moment Matras is searching for additional information. He has already found out that the Demon Prince and Ranku in the Tower of Infinitum might have blueprints of the Citadel, but the Body Destroyer and his Soul Dominators in the entrance hall won't even let him into the Base Tower, which has to be crossed to get to the Tower of Infinitum. Matras promises a rich reward to anybody who will procure the blueprints for him, and since Ranku and the Demon Prince have to be defeated anyway to reach Beleth, adventurers should by all means agree to help the Dwarf.

To aid them in their quest, Matras will provide his assitants with six pieces of Rough Ore, namely Rough Ore of Fire, of Water, of Earth, of Wind, of Darkness and of Divinity, which can be applied to equipment like regular Attribute stones. If someone is lucky, those ores will increase an existing Attribute of their weapon by 5 and an Attribute of their armour by 3, but, as with regular Attribute stones, there is a chance to fail. Experienced adventurers say that there might be a greater probability of success if one applies the Rough Ore only after entering the Steel Citadel. This may or may not be true. In any case, Matras is, apart from the blueprints, also intereted in the Red Stones the monsters in the Base Tower are carrying. The Base Tower is a two-storey labyrinth infested with Body Destroyers, Soul Dominators, Labyrinth Watchmen, Labyrinth Mystics, Labyrinth Captains, Labyrinth Seers, Passageway Captains, Passageway Guards and Passageway Mystics. Any of them might carry those Red Stones. Once somebody has collected 744 Stones, he or she can bring them back to Matras and receive a nice reward.

As mentioned above, the Steel Citadel is a complex structure consisting of three towers and Tully's Workshop. First of all, the resistance fighters must force their way through the labyrinth of the Base Tower. This labyrinth can be entered through two doors, the Door of Destruction and the Door of Darkness, on the left and the right side of the entrance hall. The monsters in the entrance hall will upon their death occasionally drop keys for those doors. The labyrinth itself, with shoulder-high walls, is at first a bit confusing, but if one keeps going in a general northerly direction, one will sooner or later arrive at a long, upward-sloping corridor - the exit of the labyrinth. Some people may be in doubt whether they should enter the labyrinth through the Door of Destruction or the Door of Darkness. If one enters through the Door of Destruction, the way is relatively short, while the way from the Door of Darkness through the labyrinth is a bit longer. Strange as it may sound, but adventurers intending to progress through the Steel Citadel might want to take the long way. First, because this gives them more opportunities to collect the Red Stones for Matras, but mainly because the monsters roaming the labyrinth will on occasion drop a key to the Door of Blood that will be needed later on.

The long passageway is also infested with monsters, but there is no more danger of getting lost. It is a simple matter of storming straight upslope and killing anything that dares stepping in the way. A great, vaulted hall, dimly illuminated by little lamps giving off a greenish, phosphorescent glow marks the half-way point. Then, after another length of corridor, there will suddenly be a suspicious-looking Human mystic who calls himself Sailiang. He claims to have waited in this spot for a long time (how could he have survived among all those monsters?), only to tell adventurers that they must disguise themselves as demons if they want to survive the following trials. This disguise is achieved by showering onself with the warm blood of monsters. The Captains, Guards and Mystics living in the passageway the resistance fighters have just come through will sometimes drop whole bottles of blood. After a few seconds the blood will evaporate, therefore everybody has to be quick to pick the bottles up. Once they have stored them in their packs, the blood will keep. Then, when every member of the group has a sufficent supply, they just have to pour the blood over their heads and Sailiang will teleport them into a mysterious room with a tightly closed door at the end. Unfortunately this door is guarded by a "Cosmic Scout", a monster which is very skilled in using paralysing magic.

Only after this guardian is killed - which is very hard - the Tower of Infinitum can be entered, where the Demon Prince and, on the third floor, Ranku reside. It is those two who carry the blueprints of the Steel Citadel the architect Matras is so much interested in. First the Demon Prince has to be defeated. Although in the Underworld he is a noble in his own right, here in the Steel Citadel he is taking orders from Darion, who has made him responsible for all defence measures in the Tower of Infinitum. The Demon Prince is able to plant a Dark Seed in the body of attackers which will gradually eat up their life force and, once it is fully grown, paralyse them. If attackers should escape his Dark Seeds or his scythe-like wings and push him too hard, the Demon Prince can use a spell that will greatly increase his resistance against physical and magical damage. While this Ultimate Defence is in effect, he will not be able to move, but for such cases he has his fiendish minions who can in turn Root attackers, then curse them so that they will easily surrender to their master's next Dark attack, or, as if that would not be enough, pummel them with close-distance physical attacks. But if adventurers should succeed in overcoming the Demon Prince, they will not only be rewarded with a blueprint of the Steel Citadel and other valuables he is carrying on him (like for example pieces to fashion an Arcana Mace), but also with a so-called "Transform Sealbook" that will it make possible for them to assume the outer shape of the Demon Prince for half an hour, while also being able to use his amazing combat skills.

When the Demon Prince has fallen, a magical crystal will appear, which teleports the adventurers up on the third floor of the Tower of Infinitum, where Ranku and his Eidolon minions are living. While the central column below was surrounded by greenish circles of light, the glow here is yellow. Ranku has signed a contract with Beleth at the same time as Darion, in which they both were hired to help the "Devil" during the planned invasion and conquest of the mainland. But since that might still take some time, Ranku serves at the moment as security officer, with orders to prevent any intruders from penetrating deeper into the Steel Citadel. Ranku is a formidable fighter: with his heavy sword he can stun any attacker, only to destroy them immediately afterwards with a Dark Explosion, while his minions will use an evil spell to raise the attackers' magical energy consumption and then finish them off in close-hand melee fighting.

The next challenge is Tully's Workshop, where not only the crazy Dwarf himself and his Banshee minions are living, but also a large number of his Devotees and Apostles. Tully may not be the greatest fighter, but he and his minions are quite skillful in slowing attackers down, even stunning them into immobility, so that they can finish them off at their leisure. Quite a different kettle of fish is general Darion, who has set up his command post in Tully's Workshop and is personally trying to make a last stand against the rebels. Darion and his officers must be defeated, only then will it be possible to proceed to the Tower of Naia and take on Beleth himself. But everybody should keep in mind that here, deep in the lair of the "Devil", the magic is very strong. They must conquer each room, which is guarded by an Epidos, within a certain time limit, otherwise all their efforts will have been in vain. Originally there had been a large number of elemental spirits on the island, which Beleth, who tolerated no force beside him, had imprisoned soon after his arrival in the basement of the Tower of Naia. In the course of time, these spirits were ever more affected by Beleth's magic permeating the building, until they coalesced und were transformed into four humanoid warriors - the Epidos. They have an unstable shape and mind, but they are still slightly conscious of their previous nature as elemental spirits. Each of the Epidos sees itself as a representation of an element: Fire, Water, Air and Earth. They can be discerned by their slightly different colour and they also use different elemental magic: Surrender to Fire, Surrender to Water etc. Everybody be warned: the Epidos are incredibly strong adversaries.

It is only after all four Epidos have been killed that a teleportation crystal will appear, by means of which the whole group can reach Beleth's throne room. Beleth has had a lot of time to further refine the mirror magic he had already used at the Battle of the Wastelands to kill Summoner Sejarr. Now he is able to create 16 images of himself, not just optical illusions but physical copies which can surround and autonomously attack anybody daring to disturb him. Apart from that, he has of course mastered the control of fire. He and all of his copies can incinerate whole groups of attackers with fearsome balls of flame, even if they are spread out over a wide area. But Beleth is wearing valuable jewelry with magical properties, so it might well be worth it to take him on - apart from the moral obligation everybody has to remove this "Devil" from the face of the earth.





















Bibliography: www.wikipedia.org