Athos: The Return

Session LXXI: Fireballs Blazing
Session 71: Fireballs Blazing

An excerpt from the Spirit Fuel Symbol covered journal of Simon Bloom

I spent a lot of my 3000 years exploring the Realm of Athos but there are still surprises everywhere, like a hidden cave leading from the Mountain’s of Brimmir to the continent of Cisplatina. Sure it’s a long 14 day walk, but that gave me plenty of time to wonder about what I’ll do when we’re done with saving the world. Leading a ship probably isn’t for me anymore, but I’ve just got to see what the world has to offer from a new point of view. I’ll start with this Lance of Mortality. From what I can uncover about it the type of metal it is made up of is the portion that is actually lethal to Immortals. Something about it is “poisonous” to an Immortal body. It is covered from blade to hilt in the symbol of Spirit Fuel and that is where it gets it’s power from. It doesn’t even have a lot of Spirit Fuel in it, the symbols connect the lance to the greater force of Spirit Fuel instead of caging energy in. I started carving the same symbol all over my Architect’s Staff. I have been trying to power up this magical artifact with Spirit Fuel for some time but it appears I was going about it the wrong way. Anatolius followed suit.

It took 10 days of delicate carving before our weapons had the uniform pattern of Spirit Fuel. When we were done we could feel an obvious difference, it was as if a giant force had latched onto my staff. The Architect’s Staff has had a rich history even before I wielded it. I’m ashamed to have been the cause of it’s original destruction when the Rust Demon dismantled it; even though we had it reconstructed the blueprints designed into it were in ruin. Now at least I can put a new worthwhile message on here. A secret about the world will forever be a part of this staff, guiding its wielders to a hidden truth.

Still something bothers me; the Plainsbeing said the Lance would “punish” anyone who uses it on someone unworthy, someone that is not at the level of immortality as Nox or Athos. I hope it is the metal of the Lance that punishes the user and not the symbols, if so I may have just made my staff and Anatolius’ sword worthless…Oh well I’ll get my answer when we get in a fight!

Finally we exited the 14 day long cave and ventured onto the soil of Cisplatina and felt the sun for the first time since we ventured into the mountains of Brimmir. On the outside of the cave though there was a note, it said “Come to Shinari. Signed Rathaka.” The Deva who gave Araris to us only after he killed him. The creator of the Deva killing blade currently in Anatolius’ possession. Out of the frying pan and into the fire as the saying goes.

Compared to the inter-continental cave it took us no time to get to Shinari. The town wasn’t abandoned, but there was no one to around either. Everyone was hiding from Rathaka and the three ships that he had at port. I’m sure they could see our little force of over 100 demigods heading their way as well, which would send anyone running. You could smell the coming conflict in the air; no one wanted a fight but we stank all the same. That smell guided us to the docks, Rathaka standing in the open with a salesman’s smile. Behind him were the three ships we could see from the town and next to him stood the Rashaka Majinn. Last time we saw Majinn was a the Conclave trapped in the mirror Anatolius had been forced to imprison him in. Rathaka must have freed him before the Conclave was destroyed.

“HELLO, MY FRIENDS!” Rathaka started.
“What do you want, Rathaka? We all said in unison.

“No time for familiarities I see. I’ll get to it then. Give me the lance and I’ll give you these three ships to sail off this continent together.” His composure was shaken, and Majinn looked worse. Before Anatolius could only imprison him, but today we have a blade capable of killing a Deva or Rashaka.

“What would you do with it?” Asked Uruhua

Rathaka looked her in the eyes and only hers. Majinn wouldn’t look at any of us. All it would take was one glare at Anatolius and it would be over. Even the rest of the demigods could feel it, Anatolius was ready for a fight, he wouldn’t let Majinn get away and he was taking those ships for himself.

“I can become immortal with that lance. This world is in a dangerous state and I just want to ensure my own life, that’s all. What do you say?” Rathaka said. That conversation could have gone back and forth for a while, but we all knew how this was ending. We weren’t going to hand over the lance and we weren’t letting Majinn walk away again.

“I’ve heard enough, I’m going in Fireballs blazing. What about the rest of you?” Said Anatolius as the flames rose from the palm of his hands.

“Fireballs blazing!” I said and for the first time with my newly powered staff I prepared a spell.

I stopped paying attention to anything Rathaka said, he opened some portal and a beholder flew out. One final desperate trump card for a deva that was out of options. I barely noticed it. My staff worked perfectly, Anatolius’ sword worked perfectly, Uruhua’s lance hurt her pretty bad for attacking someone “unworthy” just as the Planesbeing said. Thankfully she never gave her original spear away and switched mid battle. The battle was over before we knew it, we were too powerful now and still getting stronger. Rathaka was the last one standing, all his defenses destroyed and all his trump cards used up. We couldn’t destroy him with our Deva killing blade like with Majinn because he created that blade, but we could still take his life and he would be reborn with all his memories lost. A consolation prize, not what we wanted, but Rathaka was never really an evil guy, just a selfish one.

With his defeat there was nothing left but for us to board our newly acquired ship and see the state of the world.

Session LXIX: Unearthed
Chapter 69: Unearthed

From the scholarly text “On The Coming of the Third Age”

The Gates of Dis stood closed as they had for centuries. Anatolius looked at them and smirked, “Not yet” he thought. Now armed with the Lance of Mortality, and reunited with their brethren, the Spirit Fueled demigods led the slow march back to the surface. Although there was much joy, sadness still weighed on them. Random’s body had been found, Nox’s assassin. And the question still hung over their heads, “What now?”

The tunnels back to the surface were as dark as ever, but a few days of travel proved fruitless at first. Until an echo in the dark. “Hold up, wait here while we investigate. We will signal when the way is clear.” Uruhua commanded those behind here, with Valane and Vondal left to guard the weakened. A slow, cautious advance brought them to a fork in the tunnel.

“I’ll check the right path, listen for my call.” Uruhua took the first few steps. Oberon warned her, “Be wary, these sound like Underdark Cutters. They lay eggs in their victims and raise the corpses as wrackspawn. In hordes, even we should be frightened.” Uruhua nodded, and moved forward. A stack of corpses laid around the corner, and within moments cutters began to rush out from the walls. Uruhua whipped out here spear, and began running.

“Move forward, take the other fork! I’ll wall them off.” Simon’s staff glowed, and soon a wall of ice closed off the wrackspawn and their cutters. Their screams echoed throughout the chamber, and slowly cracks began to form in Simon’s frozen wall. “Let’s move!” The left fork beckoned, and the four demigods rushed towards it.

Cutters burst from the cave walls further down, rushing to another stockpile of bodies that they had gathered. Rushing forward, the demigods moved to stop them from raising more of the walking dead. But it seemed the cutters were not alone with their wrackspawn, as a xixecal wormed itself forward from the tunnels. An icy worm, made almost of slush, threatened the party. And while the foes put forth a strong fight, ultimately the demigods were successful once again. With the tunnels cleared, the demigods were brought forward and the last legs of the journey were completed. Drrummerrt beckoned.

Soon, the light of the dwarven capitol shined on them. As they marched forward, a stout dwarf in military attire strode forward. “Aye, there you are! We was wondering when you’d be returning. And it seems you’ve multiplied!” The demigods nodded, happy to see the city once more. Now, filled with life Drrummerrt lacked the emptiness it had when they last visited. “Tell us, good dwarf. What news?” A grin sprouted from his face, “The news is good, victory! The blasphemous Church of Athos Dominus has been crushed, and we now make preparations to annihilate the next foes on our shores. But King Onyxheart will surely want to see you straight away. Follow me.”

Session LXVII: The Man in the Leather Masque
Chapter 67: The Man in the Leather Masque

The mouth of the cave loomed just ahead. Gentle drops of water fell from long stalagmites, leaving crystal puddles beneath the feet of the demigods. So deep beneath the earth, Anatolius thought, perhaps it is the very Oceans themselves above. At the end of the tunnel, a feint flicker of light but far worse, bleeding out form the cavern, a droning, oscillating frequency. Once at the gaping entrance to the wider chamber within, the musical automation effectively ceased.

“Strange,” Simon said, “We’ve entered the field of someth-“

“That.” Pointed Oberon.

Within the Chamber, the eminence of the Urn of Frailty spun in an infinite vortex falling in upon its swirling black core, contained only by a translucent veil, like a thin shade. The pressure of the spiral pulsated. With each throb, the arteries of the Urn could be felt in the room. They reached out and branched their capillaries deep into the upper wings of the circular annex.

With the falcon’s narrow vision, Anatolius arched his long view and cast it upwards. The heart of the urn vacuumed not from any morsel or known source of magic purer than this. Near eighty demigods, dozens of deva, and several Titans lined the wing. Emaciated and covered in filth. So deep in the moist earth, the fungus reached high around them, like great rose bushes, poisonous thorns, Black millipedes and swarming Glow beetles bred amongst the forest birthing in the warmest places. The wounds and open sores bled both pus and the rankest spawn of the under-Earth. And still the Urn siphoned from them, sipping gently the last dribble of sweet life.

“We must free them now!” Oberon flew high and came to the first. Lighting his beacon, the Morning Star shone warm light and melted away the corruption. Smiling, their brother Cogidubnus whispered.

“We never lost hope. The prophecies are written and shattered. We are made and unmade in the image of God, Athos Vater saffet mij, and unto you he has done more. Athos be praised.” Then passing into sleep, Cogidubnus rested his eyes peacefully.

Rushing, Oberon began to unchain him. Calling to his siblings still below, he shouted “Hurry, help me!”

Then a loud breach of the plan echoed in the chamber from Skyros, lost within a mound of mushroom caps unseen, “HE’S STILL HERE!”

Then, an instant of reflecting light, there hovered behind the urn a glow. Shimmering into existence came a pale man in a robe like fish scales. It shone like metals and sent out blinding, resplendent rays as though through refined diamond. His eyes were hollow and the horror indicated the preconceived knowledge that this rescue would not be easy.

Simon spoke through the psychic void, “Assassin, I feel him too. It’s a tra-“

“Take them.” Spoke the Dragon. His tongue split in two and slithered between his teeth. Uncontrollable excitement indicated far more disability than previously noted. We are unwelcome. A second moment later, it sucked its tongue back within the bounds of its jaws before gritting its teeth into a smile. As a shop keep shows wares, the creature waved at the sacrifices before the altar. Then, speaking again, “I want you to take them, please, and go. This, this is the cavern of the Urn of Frailty. It feasts. But they were put here, not I who did this. Surely you will take them to avoid, such, inconvenience.”

Simon asked first, “And you are?”

“Avantador, the Diamond Dragon of Athos, I am the crystalline father of the greatest spawn to burrow throughout this earth. The diamond ruins of my progenitors run through this entire world. I have seen the dawn and the twilight within this cavern in my dreams from start to finish. Time holds me nothing. Take them and be gone. The wheel must spin.”

“I would rather take your body as stock and barrel. A fine jeweler above might enjoy your mantle.” Anatolius readied his hands. No dragon, diamond, gold, tin, or glass would stop them. The wheel had been broken and all the rules of Athos, made to keep man from the secrets of existence, were thrown out. The raging fires of the earth heated and pressurized the demigods into action and at the cost of stability, the gaskets had flooded with steam and the locks burst. Now was the time of War and the dream of peace still far off.

Communicating his feelings to the demigods, the issue was decided.

“So, will you take this offer and flee?” Avantador asked.

“First,” spoke Uruhua, “will you help us to deactivate this Urn? Can we find a way to free the world from this and fulfill your duty?”

“Certainly not. Nox shall bring the long night of Athos. It was ordained. We follow his will. We are not to kill you in the name of Athos, but this artifact is my charge.”

Then, in a sound of falling glass, the dragon’s limbs burst forth like shards of exploding stars, resplendent and glorious. In a great roar, his battle cry proclaimed,

“And Athos’ Will is the Truth.”

Before the Dragon, now in its final form, a black puff of smoke released the assassin into the fold. Daring and dashing blade work pushed back Uruhua who replied, poking with her long spear against the tumbling gymnastics of the Assassin. Too flexible, sickeningly formless and slithering like a worm around the polearm, the dance continued whilst the dragon reared and let loose a white beam of energy, neither fire nor quite liquid, it melted like magma against the rock and washed away. Magic armor alone hardly kept Anatolius from feeling some unexpected heat.

Simon raised a thick wall of ice, expertly segregating the battle.

“I have you now.” Cried Anatolius and in a blazing onslaught of void strokes he began to paint the assassin with deep strokes, pausing briefly to fire incredible blasts at the dragon. Avantador reared after the first and leveled into Anatolius and Uruhua. Restored by Oberon, high above, the Assassin was quickly repelled again. But the dragon, preparing a great burst of its radiant magma, was interrupted by a massive strike at its throat. Well placed, the eldritch bolt of deep azure flames struck the monster, blasting off a huge chunk of rock. Reflecting the light of the urn in a colorful mélange of rainbow, the pieces were sent wide and fell into dust as they hit the solid ground.

Reduced, the Assassin turned to flee, but a wall, thick and enflamed guarded the entrance. A sudden thrust like the sting of a wasp and the assassin looked down to see the sizzling skewer of Anatolius driven through him. One gasp and he too crumpled to the floor. Dead at last.

As the diamonds had fallen into dust, so too the assassin fell into sand. Laid open, organs of various decay spilled out onto the ground and dirt blew gently in spirals, dancing in circles to the hypnotic melody of the Urn. An odd phenomenon. Uruhua reached down as Anatolius looked away at the diamonds and sand mixing in the ever churning spirals, growing and morphing around them. The leather mask peeled back with difficulty, taking out suture, skin, and flesh. Though it was suspected, it was quickly known that below that mask was the visage of the old jokester. Random, the Wanderer, had been found again.

Collecting him into a small container, Oberon, having come down for the revelation, said the prayers of Athosian rest and then turned to begin the task of freeing the remaining Demigods and Deva feeding the Urn.

The spiral on the ground grew around them, regardless of effort or truth or power or even time itself, it collected all the ruins of battle slowly and quietly in an unbroken wheel. The demigods, and the Earth above, continued on.

Session LXVI: One Aboleth’s Pit is a Another Demigod’s Battlefield
Chapter 66: One Aboleth’s Pit is a Another Demigod’s Battlefield

An excerpt from the journal of Simon “No Aim” Bloom

I never feel ready. We came knowing the Big Urn would be here. We spent several months getting here with it as our destination, but now that I can see it I just don’t know what to do. Not touch it I guess. That never ends well. These thoughts ran through my mind, it probably ran through all of our minds which is why we didn’t check for traps.

The floor collapsed under us, only Uruhua reacted quickly enough. Oberon zipped down, his body flattening out into a controlled fall. Anatolius rummaged through his pack looking for his feather fall boots. Oberon caught him and glided to a safe stop. The boots never even made it out of the bag. I’m sure Anatolius heard my snickers as I slowed closer to the ground.

“Feather Fall is best prepared Before you fall, Anatolius.” I said

We had fallen 60 feet, into a pit dimly lit by mushroom spores. In front of me stood a grotesque Aboleth. (Do Aboleths stand? Do their goops of tentacles and slime count as legs and feet in relation to the ground?) In front of Anatolius and Oberon, a Beholder. (which was definietly flooting) In front of Uruhua was the Assassin. He had been waiting for us to fall into this trap and we did not disappoint.

“Uruhua, get down here! The Assassin will follow one way or another.” Anatolius said. Uruhua teleported behind the Beholder. Our first target was set and flanked. I was fine with this decision; beholders and I have a bad history and getting my baggage out of the way seemed like a good place to start. Two horrific monsters and one sneaking, teleporting demigod killer was what stood between us and the Big Urn. My normally creepy grin grew wider, I could tell the others were the same. Anatolius drew his sword, the pit brightened by the blue sparks; “GO WILD!” he called.

This was not like wading through an army of eels in a tight cave, or defending our siblings from giant tunnel snakes, this was a battle between legends. Beams and blue fire flashed. Some faced mental assaults and others assaults on the mind. Radiant zones and fire walls covered the ground. The Assassin snuck blows and transformed what blood was spilt into dangerous larvae. The mushrooms were both our only light source and a grim trap as their spores poisoned whomever came near. What was once a pit was now a battlefield.

The Beholder went down quickly, but the Aboleth turned out to be harder to snag. It could weaken our minds and force our strongest attacks onto each other. While Anatolius and Uruhua floated in the air, suspended by my own reverse gravity spell the Aboleth had forced me to use, I grew frustrated. I mean not a single one of my attacks had hit! Sure I could transform the space around us to my whim, but what was the point. I opened my magical third eye and released an ever changing reality onto the Aboleth.

My mind was split as so many of my spells flew around in a frenzy, but it felt nice to let loose. We all took our fair share of hits, but none of us got knocked down. We fought as a real team, prepared and in sync. The Aboleth fell and with no more monsters to distract us with the Assassin vanished and ran away. The demigods came to the top of the pit. Tired and out of their element they came to help us whatever way they could. We warned them that the Assassin was here and to keep a sharp eye out for him. Next time we’ll corner him, fight him properly, and remove his mask. I felt confident, we felt confident. We were a trusting party again for the first time I can remember since The Oncoming Storm.

Session LXV: Underdark, Into Shadow
Chapter 65: Underdark, Into Shadow

From the scholarly text “On The Coming of the Third Age”

The Underdark is a place of strange beings. Very few accounts accurately depict the creatures that dwell within. According to the dwarves, most can be scared off so long as you travel in a large group, generally fifty dwarves or more. To defeat one of these creatures requires the most stalwart and brave. The demigods, it seems, fall into this category.

Although there are creatures stronger in sheer power, the Tunnel Snakes are generally considered the rulers of the Underdark. Their ability to practically swim through the earth along with their enormous size makes them one of the most formidable of all the Underdark beings. In all of dwarven history, there are but four accounts of Tunnel Snakes being killed – with only one of those kills confirmed. On this day, the 1st of Selenth, the demigods took on two. The Party were the main combatants, while their dwarven guide Gafree and their fellow demigods stood to the side. Although the remaining demigods attempted to join in the battle, after several arrows and blows clattered against the thick skin of the Tunnel Snakes, they decided to step back. However, their siblings imbued with Spirit Fuel had more success. The snakes’ deadly acid breath took a toll, but ultimately the demigods were able to overcome the monstrous, dual-headed creatures and lay two of these creatures to rest. Anatolius’ famous azure flame engulfed the two creatures and burned them from the inside out, forever ending the age-old beasts. Snakes defeated, the demigods could continue onward.

A few more hours following Simon Bloom’s spirit fuel compass lead the demigods to a strange gate. A massive doorway, standing nearly two hundred feet high with naught but a few flickering torches to illuminate it. Anatolius, having dreamt of this gateway for years – recognized it immediately. “We stand at the Gates of Dis. Entrance to the Nine Hells” and with a murmur, “my future domain.” The compass flew out of Simon Blooms hand to smack into the door, but stopped midair a few feet shy of it. As close as possible to the Urn, it took the demigods but a few moments to discern that the Urn must lay in another realm. Simon searched, and found that indeed a rift to another portal existed. A loud cough by Gafree, followed by his last words. “Worry not about me. I see your face. There is an evil energy here – but I can bear it.” Simon nodded, and opened the portal.

Once all of the demigods had come forward through the portal, it was clear where they were. The Realm of Dark Shadows – a realm of pure destruction and devastation. The demigods each and all felt the heavy weight of an Urn here – pulling slowly their life force from them. Only Gafree and the spirit fueled demigods felt differently. Those demigods felt the pull, but like the current while standing ankle-deep in the ocean. Gafree, felt much different. Within a few moments – his life force was pulled out from him, sucked into the Urn. The demigods around him saw the middle age dwarf age into an old man, and then and old skeleton. The Great Urns are not a place for mortals.

Before the demigods, at the end of a long tunnel a pale blue glow shines. A massive Urn, with dozens of men and women chained to the walls around them. The Sixth Urn stands ready.

Session LXIV: Onyxheart's Welcome
Chapter 64: Onyxheart's Welcome

Journal Log of Gaferee, Day 10,404

The war has been tough on us. I remember still the day when we first heard the roar of horns as the dwarven communications came down from the great entrance hall. An army arriving was not unexpected, but still to hear it… It has been quite some time since we’ve last had an army at our gates. And longer still since an army of blasphemous zealots. Although the assault has been happening for quite some time now, it stings me harder this morning than normal. I’m not sure why.

Suddenly, a boom. A loud, echoing voice calls out within the halls. In all my confusion, I can’t even remember what it said. But the intent was clear. “I am here, let me in.” We check the back tunnels. All of them. Young dwarven children running to and fro to try and find where this Thundering voice went. Suddenly, I see old man Gozzal waving me over. He’s found the door.

“Demigods. They claim to be children of Kaz-Doran.” Gozzal’s words shock me. Perhaps Athosian trickery? I call over several of our female conscripts – often underestimated by humans. They’re well trained with crossbows, and should this be an impressive Dwarven trick, they should be able to hold them off long enough for reinforcements to arrive.

“Go ahead, tear down the barricades. Slowly but carefully. I will tell them they can enter.” The people follow my orders, one of the benefits of war time being that I get proper respect, and I activate the old runes still on the door. “We will let you in, step back.” I watch the makeshift barricade come down, when we reinforced this old door’s barricade I never expected I’d be the one tearing it down. Once the longer-standing boulders began to roll away, I find myself questioning my choice. What if this leads to the army sneaking in? Or worse – the demigods are not friendly? Time is out, the barricade is closed and I motion for Gozzal to open the door. I take a few steps and stand to the side, hiding myself from the door so I can signal for help if need be. Gozzal begins speaking to the demigods – I’m certain now it is them. Who else but Kaz-Doran’s children or the church would have the power to project their will through a barricaded door like that? The church would have stuck out by now, so demigods it is. A few minutes of conversation go by, and Gozzal steps back and beckons me to him.

“What is it? What do they want?” I ask him. He tells me that they are looking for something deep in the mountain, but based on their description it could be anything – a myth more likely than anything. They mention speaking to our king. I think King Onyxheart could help them – but putting such beings in contact with my king could put him in grave danger. I’ve heard tales of the demigods, incredible power from those who claim to be descendents of the Dead God. Now that Onyxheart’s name has been raised, it becomes my responsibility to speak. I come around the corner, and address the group before me.

Awe is the first thing that strikes me. I have seen opulence, but never quite the like of that which these beings wore. Among them there are nearly 20, but I see six with magnificent suits of armor. Plate and leather, gold and gems entombed within. A gnome halfbreed steps forward to speak to me. I hadn’t realized that Kaz-Doran’s children had her kind amongst them. I bite my tongue and answer her question. “Yes, I can lead you to King Balar Onyxheart. But I can only take a few of you. Five or six.” My hope is that they will accept this, letting me bring only their leaders, clearly those in the armor. A man behind her speaks out, and an echo of agreement by the pixie at his side. “No. We have come too far to be seperated now. Either you take all of us, or we head into your mountains without your king’s approval.” I can’t let that happen. If I return to Onyxheart with the knowledge that an armed group of highly dangerous individuals are galavanting about the mountain… I stop the thought in its tracks and agree to their terms. “Follow me.”

The city, often full of life and movement, feels empty. Curfew along with the majority of our people building defenses or fighting makes the city quiet. We arrive at the palace, and I can sense already that the demigods will not like what I have to say next. “We’ve arrived. Please, disarm yourselves and you six may come forward.” Immediately, I am hit with rage. The man who spoke earlier flicks blue flame in his hand. “Who’s going to stop us? We told you before. We’re not splitting up.” Before I can talk sense into him, my fellow palace guards snap to attention. “I will speak with our king on this matter.” I rush inside, hoping to find a way to disarm the situation. I tell my king about the demigods, their numbers, their equipment. He keeps to his stubborn dwarven nature, but the mention of their fantastical armor opens him up. I return, and tell the demigods that they can enter, disarmed. This time, it is the pixie who surprises me. Such fury for such a small creature! “No! We told you before. Either we come in now, as is, or we don’t at all! We don’t need your king’s permission and we won’t wait to enter the mountain!” They begin to murmur amongst themselves. Something takes hold of me, and I approach the angry godlings. “Please understand,” I whisper, " we are in a time of war. We have conceded once already to your demands, surely you can see the need for us to disarm you? I simply cannot allow heavily armed, dangerous beings such as yourselves into close proximity with our king." A moment of silence. “Very well. Lead the way.”

I lead the Dead God’s spawn into the main chamber, where King Balar Onyxheart sits atop a glorious throne, forged of solid gold with gems scattered throughout it. The back of his throne depicts three dwarven warriors facing down a black dragon, all in gems. The picture seems to move as you look at it, showing the dwarves throw axes at the dragon, and the dragon spewing fire. The scene depicts our king earning his given name, Onyxheart for his valour in that very battle. I stand silent, as my king addresses the demigods.

“Greetings, children of Kaz-Doran. Welcome to my home. I am King Balar Onyxheart, what brings you to me in these dark times?” Introductions are made. I learn that the man with the blue flame is Anatolius and the angry pixie Oberon. I’ve written down the rest of the names elsewhere so I can look up their legends later. Manisc is another one who stands out. After Balar complements the armor, this one steps forward and takes credit for it’s creation. Of course, a fellow dwarf. The demigods explain that they need passage through the mountain, perhaps a guide as well. “You intend to head into the Underdark then? There are many tunnels that run that deep, but the Underdark twists and turns. Ways that were dug change, and it is easy to become lost. Mind flayers and aboleth dwell there. My domain does not extend that far. It is not a place for mortals. In those deepest of caves, the tunnel snakes rule.” The demigods nod, understanding the gravity. “It is good then, that we are not mortals.” Simon Bloom jokes. Onyxheart gives out a thunderous laugh. “Indeed! I will send a guide with you, Gafaree!” My name spoken, a cold sweat slides down my back. “As you command, my king.” Now, Balor asks for his payment from the demigods in exchange. Information against the Church of Athos Dominus. I can’t quite make out what is said, but once the demigods are done talking, our king is ecstatic. “I will relay this information to our front lines at once! When they hear proof, from Kaz-Doran’s spawn, from their King’s lips, about the Church’s blasphemous lies… this may be just the morale boost we need!”

With our king satisfied, goodbyes are said and I leave with the demigods, guiding them into the tunnels. I’m certain the next few days will be filled with nothing but tunnels, but I fear the Underdark. I’ve been before on several occasions, but the King’s warning was not without merit. There are dangers there that are tough to comprehend. Although I can feel the safety of travelling in number with the demigods… King Onyxheart’s words echo in my mind. “There… the tunnel snakes rule.”

Session LXIII: Eel in a Days Work
Chapter 63: The Eel-ien Conspiracy

The KRAKOOM of mighty fists on the city gate was deafening, like a great hammer pounding an anvil into the ground. With each blow, the mighty door upon which our lives depended during these dark times creaked and shook more violently than the last, as cracks began to form where there were none before. Were I not there, my very own eyes present to witness such power and awe, I scarce to think I would believe any dwarf. But it is the Truth, that They, the leaders of the last surviving Children of Athos struck down the mighty door

A gentle ocean wave lapped at the shores behind us. I watched with whitecaps froth and dissolve against the pale sand and rocks of the beachhead we landed on, their soothing drum all but drowned out by the din of battle to the west. It was the blasphemous church who falsely bore our fathers name waging war against the dwarves of this land. We had no time to quarrel with them, misbegotten though they be. Our mission was to find out surviving siblings, and continue in our quest to restore balance and order to the chaos Nox has wrought.

We crested a small hill, the only natural feature between us and the door to the walled city; the four of us, and some 20 of our siblings we could recruit. The door itself was a mean thing, seeming to blend directly into the wall surrounding it, save for the wrought iron and hard wood reinforcements. We attempted, thought I use the word loosely, to communicate with the dwarves inside, but they were unswayed by our claims to be above the war raging to the west. Fortunately, things worked out to our advantage, even after Anatolius blew up the door and any hope of closing it behind us. With fire and light and a booming voice we cowed the dwarven militia out of a fight; for their best interest if not our own. Briefly, we spoke with the leader of a band of Sand Dwarf refugees, hiding out from the war in an abandoned sector of this Mountain Dwarf town. With a little diplomatic encouragement, we secured a guide to take us as far he’d dare, into the mountain herself, to seek an audience with the King Under the Mountain.

It was here, dear readers, that we encountered the most dangerous and despicable foe in all my years as a vassal of my father. As our guide took us deeper, and deeper in the cavernous belly of the Mountain herself, we found our path slowly filling with water. We waded further until it seemed to level out, with a murky bath of icy water up to my knees. It was cold and unforgiving, but still not the final horror we would see that fateful day.

We trudged through water and muck, snaking our way through tunnels, until…they were upon us. They came not as a shout, but as a whisper; deviously worming their way into our minds before launching their sinister attack. I felt the slime covered body of one brush past by boots, and watched as their twisted, squirming shadows slithered under the water. Before I could say I word, they struck! The Eels!

Dastardly and cunning, we fought wave after wave of terribly eels whom prowled the murky waters looking for an easy meal. For hours, seemingly days we fought tooth and spear, tail and sword with the vile beasts, but for every one we sliced down, or charred beyond crisps, or froze solidly in an ice wall, or immolated with holy light, two more emerged to challenge our dominion of the river.

It is with a heavy heart that I confess, we did not wipe the Eel menace from this world; the remaining pests fled before our eyes after two monstrously huge ones were gutted by our hands. But I swear upon our Father, when he is restored to his rightful throne, I shall personally return to cleanse this Mountain of all creatures that move with less than two legs.

After the slaughter, we made our way up a steep incline, onto a patch of dry rock. There, we made camp, and bivouaced in peace; Anni conjured a low flame for comfort and dryness, and my brothers and I learned the true, dark secret of the Eels that patrol these tainted waters: they taste awful.

Session LXI: Lead-Tongued
Chapter 61: Lead-Tongued

These, the Fragments of the Anatolian Tome Volume 28

I cannot remember much. This sting of anger pains me deeply. This world has become so corrupted. Distransfigured like a thousand peaks falling into valleys lined in a deep, blanketing snow phasing through its twisted, dead trees. My bones have been shattered, recast, and reanimated, therefore no blow has lain me aside that I could not have once survive. That day lasts within me. The day I died and remembered nothing at all. These things have devoured me entirely.

Rathaka, measured in the inches of his blade, lunged into the heart of Araris. Then in an old way, counted backwards in the pure tongues that echo like the guttural throes of a newborn, choking for its first attempts at language, easing his victim with an imaginary arithmetic into soft darkness. Left to die, his feline grin extended far beyond his thin lavender cheeks as he addressed us.
“Who seeks finds. Surely you have sought and most surely you have found. Such beautiful craftsmanship, Anatolius. And to you Oberon, surely the weight of Athos does not cause you to hover so low to the ground and with such a dull aura. You have grown ill-tempered, Holy one.”

Sayeth Oberon, “Death to the one who forged the weapons of his own genocide. I am the power to undo and you are only an ancient and forgotten wrath, bound to the calming light I bear.”

“You would not strike me. For if you do, how would I see your powers? Reveal them to me!”

“Enough.” I compelled against my better judgement. There was surely not enough time and surely this was a trap.
“Do you wish to insult me as well, Boy-of-Blu—“
Though the flames Blades were drawn and the Slit eyes of the Deva widened from the Black fire now surging and filling the cavern.

“You shall have none of it. You will fight us or you will go. The Night speaks softly and commands with the whispers on the wind and the tides that stretch out upon the shore, that you are to recess and Die. Strike or fly, Rathaka. Even Lions must judge their prey by their own numbers first.”

“The Master of the Everlasting Moon shines upon us all. Athos has commanded it of him; and I. It seems you have itched a sore wound of mine. I will enjoy this when you finally come to battle!”

The Charge and the fall, Rathaka’s jaw shuttered as the Blade cut hard against flesh and shattered fragile bone. The Rakshasa fell to the ground, but did not die. Choking from the remains of his ruined face and rising with some difficulty, I fell back.
“Cruel, deceptive Anatolius, too frightened to use my precious key? The Nexian sits idle even now.” Skull reformed, his reply cut me deeply. “Now let us dispense with this and move to the true prize. Will you watch Araris die?”

From a corner, Simon spoke up, “Beat it!”

A wry smile crawled over Rathaka’s face. Flippantly waiving his cape over the corpse of Araris, the creature Rathaka stepped over and proceeding forward began to fade. Every closer and ever farther he crossed beside me and whispered, “That blade holds untold surprises. I hope you are ready.”

And was gone.

“Wow… That was Easy.”

Revived, Araris found himself trapped between his mistakes and the potentially endless consequences to come. Back from his darkness, he had entered an entirely new nightmare.
“We will return him to our brothers and sisters to elicit their collective judgement.” So rang the words of Uruhua. Logical, calculated, but prone to mercy.

“So be it,” Sayeth I. “But let it be known that the chambers and punishments to a traitor to his own are more vivid than he could possibly imagine.”

Interjecting quickly, Oberon spoke, “Araris was not returned to us for suffering alone. He knows the enemy plans and will reveal them to us. He will mention the Urn, or he will lose everything.” Oberon looked hard at Araris and finishing his words focused on his brother. “Everything.”

“I will speak,” Araris was reluctant, his eyes drooping and his voice cracked. The haze of life after death sat ill on his mind. The doom growing more and more lucid by the words of his brothers. Betrayed thrice and broken, the light of Athos penetrated his heart once more and breaking into tears confessed his Mortal Sins.
“All this I have done. From the days of our Father I led us into this. Sedated in Conclavia, the demigods were prevented from interfering with our most Holy Brother. Made a living God, he disappeared and grew mighty. And there was I to aid him. Always keeping the Children of the Moon in high morale and in constant work. This world has been guided to this moment and it is through my words that the Moon Shines and the Sun wanes, that Twilight and Dawn were but a distant memory. How has it come to this? No more, there are Sins against mortals too which I could not bear to speak. For 3000 years, from the days of the cult to the now ruined Religions of Athos, we have washed the land with blood in our name and his. False gods and prophets, we destroyed so many bright stars and cast so many constellations into pitiful darkness forevermore.”

“So this I will say. Lastly and most importantly. I go now into your hands. I am so tired and ill with myself. That I say this final Urn, emblazoned with Obsidian fineries and coated in a lacquer made of maroon blood, it bears the final words of God, ‘Lest he Be Undone.’ And lies wide as a tower deep deep below. In the realm of the Underdark of Brimir. By doors of solid Adamantium cast black from the heat it protects. Therein, therein, I speak no more. But without, and through the cast of that Earth thrown into Shadow, there lies the portal. God Forgive me, Athos Pater Infinitum, I am but a fallen star!”

Then falling into uncontrollable sobs. Begged us for his life, his titles, and forgiveness. But in the end, we would show him only the one. Athos forgive us.

Session LX: Sealed with a Kaw
Chapter 60: Sealed with a Kaw

An excerpt from the journal of the Storm that Talks

Back at the adventurer’s guild I told every member present about how we returned the sun and how I nearly defeated all 12 dozen sorcerers myself. The rest of the party was distracted by a letter of some sort that had been addressed to us. It had a vague letter that said “I’m finished with him” or something like that. I was busy regaling the guilders, and mulling the title “The Storm that Walks” given to me by the 12 dozen sorcerers. Yes this was truly an important story that these young guilders would tell their grand-guilders and great grand-guilders.

Anatolius ran outside after interrogating the person who saw a bird drop that letter by the guild house. The next thing I knew I was interrupted by kaws and screeches of an army of birds. All different sizes and breeds. Oberon and Uruhua had called every bird that Uruhua’s psychic words could reach. Somehow they found the bird that delivered the letter and on it’s ankle was a ring; a more advanced version of the compass I use to find the urns. This ring focus in on spirit fuel users. And we decided that our best option was to follow the ring and the vague where abouts given to us in the letter.

It took us only about two days to reach the island where the letter had been sent from, and only a few hours before we found anything other than grass and a single path. A solid and sleek black box blocked the path. The ring seemed to be pointing down underneath the box, though I think we would have realized this was our destination considering it was clearly creepy and out of place. Anatolius was able to blast it open and we were able to jump in before the sleek, black wall closed in on itself behind us. The traps and and hidden doors were not too hard for us; a slamming rock here, deep hole there, nothing we couldn’t handle. In part that made it creepier, the traps and puzzles seemed to be more like welcoming gifts. We were invited here so why the traps? If they wanted to kill us then why ones we can get past so easily? They must know how strong we are with ring that can detect Spirit Fuel so distinctively. In the back of my mind I heard the birds kaw and screech again. Could this mysterious letter writer have known we’d somehow get the Spirit Fuel Ring from that one bird in hundreds?

The first door these sleek, black walls had shown us stood in our path, a door like any other but on the other side could only be what the mysterious letter writer had wanted us to find. We kicked the door open ready for another inevitable battle just in time to see Araris stabbed to death. A Shadar Kai with golden armor pulled his blade out of Araris and turned to us. He was familiar to us all, but for me I could see a vision of Chronotalk in his face. A Shadar Kai with golden armor stabbed through the chest, laughing at us. Was another vision about to come true?

The Shadar Kai looked at each of us and said in a familiar voice “It is so nice to see you all again, it has been far too long!”

Session LIX: The Chosen Warlord of Turok
Chapter 59: The Chosen Warlord of Turok

Dictation of Urog’Thorain, Leader of the Thorain Clan, Mistress of the Spear, The Terror of Thrashkar, and Chosen Warlord of Turok
-Penned by Lok’Thorain

“At last, I will see the Khaz clan fall. It has been too long that this scourge has been allowed to roam free my lands. I expected that Kul’Pukre would’ve bested him, but it seems that Dun is a craftier snake than I expected. I will not make the mistakes of Kul and underestimate him. We ride all of us now, and when I find the insect in the heat of battle he will be crushed. The Khaz Clan will fall at last, and with my army doubled in size I will have Thrashkar at last, and soon will meet Turok to ride through the stars.”

The battle begins. I watch as Turok’s Chosen Warlord begins to mow down the Khaz. I see Turok’s light begin to shine down on the field of battle, illuminating his Chosen Warlord. Each that falls is a warrior less that we will have once Dun is broken. Urog is careful to show her dominance, but leaves many of the Khaz intact. Once Dun falls they will come to us as many others have. Warrior blood need not be spilled without cause. Suddenly, Dun’Khaz the blasphemer appears, a beam of holy light from the sky. Truly, Turok is ready for the Thorain Clan to join him. Her foe in sight, a throw that showed Turok’s favor undoubtedly, Urog’s spear jumps across the field of battle to sink in Dun’s black heart. Like the snake he is, Dun slithered away, letting his beast take the spear instead. The horse hits the ground, and now with the advantage Urog’Thorain rides to take the Khaz warlord.

A boom echoes the land, and the very ground shakes. Suddenly, I am blinded. Safe from the battle I worry not for myself, but for my Warlord. What trickery have the Khaz used to attack us so? After what feels like hours but is truly minutes, my eyes open to daylight. Daylight. After nearly two years in the darkness I had almost forgotten. My Warlord returned to my side, quicker to recover from the light and ready to issue orders. Truly she is Chosen of Turok.

“It seems the long dark is over at last. Look there Lok, the Black Tower is falling. This is critical, even the death of the blasphemer can wait. My blood riders will follow me to learn what has happened here. The Khaz can wait.”

We begin our ride, stepping away from the battle for a moment to find who destroyed the Black Tower. Any Orc great enough to cross the death field around the tower is great enough to be worth our time. But it seems that the Khaz filth is drawn to us, and we watch as their army rides towards us, with Dun rehorsed and with his blood riders at his side. The command is given, and our army turns as well. All of us will see who brought the tower down.

“See Lok, it’s crumbled. And with it’s fall the light of Turok returned. The darkness started us on this path, but now as we defeat our final foe on Thrashkar he has seen fit to return light to us so that we may sail across his realm and begin the ride to the stars.”

She see’s Turok’s plan. The Chosen Warlord undoubtedly.

The tower approaches, and Dun’s riders not far behind us. A small band is rushing away – there! Surely intimidated by the size of what will soon be my army. They look ready like they mean to fight us. “Stop the army, only my blood riders shall move forward. Hopefully the Khaz are not fool enough to threaten these men. Not before we see their faces.”

The voice booms through the air louder than anything I’ve heard., terrifying the horses and knocking me from my saddle. It has been years since I was unhorsed, and I see I am not alone on the ground beside my fellow Thorain Blood Riders. Only Urog and Dun are able to keep their horses under control. The two trot forward, ready to speak to the band

“That’s far enough. Who are you and what do you want with us?” The one with the booming voice speaks loudly, with command, but not with the terrible noise from moments ago. Dun is the first to speak, nearly everything coming from his mouth blasphemous. “I am The Tall Rider, The Dominatior, The Just Leader, Dun’Khaz of the Khaz Clan, and Chosen Warlord of Turok. Who are you that has destroyed the tower of black?” False titles, only his name true. The speaker for the band, now saddled again I see six of them, says nothing. Urog steps forward, words ringing of command and tact. She speaks showing her power, but with respect as well. The Chosen Warlord of Turok. Her words ring out, “I am Urog’Thorain, Leader of the Thorain Clan, Mistress of the Spear, The Terror of Thrashkar, and Chosen Warlord of Turok. And I know you, Anatolius.”

It takes me a moment to recognize the name. Where had I heard it before? Yes… the demigods. Great warriors of Turok who claim to be his spawn. Their stories are passed around camp fires, but I know nothing of their faces. Of course Urog knows them on sight. A scholar as well as a warlord. Truly Urog’Thorain will lead us to ride through the stars.

He is not surprised by the recognition. More…disappointed. His companions are introduced and my initial count was false. The band is composed of seven, a pixie godling who escaped my eye at first glance. Each of them born of Turok, and although they speak flawless Orcish they refer to Turok as Athos, his name in the common tongue. Only one of their band is a mortal, the orc Rog’Nahk. I wonder if he knows that the Nahk clan fell to the Khaz only months ago…

“Great Warrior of Turok, Anatolius. Tell me, what has happened here?” The blasphemer asks. “The tower that once stood there has been destroyed. Dark magic there was causing the eclipse that blackened out sky. We have destroyed it. Now let us be, we have matters to attend to.” Urog speaks now, “You destroyed the Black Tower? Tell us truly what happened here.” Disgust flashes across the face of Anatolius, and a mocking call is shouted from the band of demigods behind. “He just told you – learn to listen a bit better!” I am filled with fury and restrain myself from launching a spear at Simon Bloom. Spawn of Turok or no, such rudeness cannot be accepted. The short demigod standing beside Anatolius speaks next. Uruhua, Heartbleeder. “My brother speaks true. Twelve dozen dark mages under the allegiance of Nox once kept the spell of eclipse strong. Now they lie dead, and their tower crumbled. This is what happened.”

“Tell us more!” Dun is furious. A short temper often accompanies those who try to stand above their true position. Blasphemer. The demigods are tired now of these constant questions, their intent to leave as clear as it was when we chased them down. Silence, then Dun dares to speak again. “I hear that it is proof of divine providence to kill once of your kind, demigod. Perhaps now is the time to secure my title.” Dun’Khaz shoots a wicked glance at Urog, a challenge. Anatolius stares down Dun, sizing up the mortal who would threaten a godling. And he arches an eyebrow.

The short temper of the Khaz Warlord runs out, and he beckons to his blood riders. “Come, these being waste our time. Let us return to battle and take the Khaz to the stars!” With that, he whipped around and rode back to battle. Anatolius it seemed, was not quite done with him. “That beast deserves death.” He spat. “And I will bring it to him, oh Anatolius of the Sapphire Flames.” Urog was not boasting, but promising. Then she let her brilliance truly shine. “Unless you wish to race to his death?” Yes of course. Anatolius is known as a dealer, offering great gifts at great cost. A deal bargained with him would be dangerous, but if victorious it’s worth untold. “Very well. The stakes?” The deal began. “I propose a single favor to the victor.” Anatolius shook his head. “Not enough for me, should I win I will have your soul in addition to your favor. The value of my favor outweighs yours.” If it was a sleight Urog did not take it as such. “Done.”

With that word, Anatolius’ wand whipped out of his hand and a blast of flame shot across the fields like a bolt of lightning. I will remember that for all my life, the terrible power of the godlings. Surely they must be Turok’s spawn to have such destruction at their fingertips. Fifty feet later the bolt struck Dun’Khaz’s mount and for the second time he was dehorsed. A bad omen for him. The backside of his steed melted, and we could hear the creatures cries of pain even over the clash of battle before us. Urog turned her steed and began to ride down the now horseless Dun. He stood and stared her down, and missed the second blast of flame from Anatolius. It hit him square in the chest, and I watched the masterwork armor begin to melt onto him. The Jakur were know for their craftsmanship, and to damage their armor as such was unheard of. Yet still Dun stood. But the third blast knocked him from his feet.

Three blasts in the blink of an eye. It would take perhaps months for even the most powerful mages to conjure such force for a single blast if it was even possible. The godling had fired three without so much as a sweat. Yet still Dun lived. For all my talk of his weakness, the Khaz warlord could take a blow. But now Urog was upon him, spear in hand. “Goodbye, Dun. The Judge is upon you now.” With that, she brought her spear into the newly formed gaps in Dun’Khaz’s armor and twisted. The blasphemer was dead, killed by Urog’Thorain, Leader of the Thorain Clan, Mistress of the Spear, The Terror of Thrashkar, and Chosen Warlord of Turok

“Well shown, oh mighty Anatolius. It is almost a pity he did not truly challenge you, to watch you defeat such a foe. But now he is dead at my hands.” A look of pure fury flashed across the godling’s eyes. He was not used to being beaten. “Your favor, what is it.” He gritted his teeth. “Ride with us. To Brimir. Help us take the continent of the dwarves! With their siege weapons taken the rest of the realm will crumble, and then Turok will guide us to the stars!” True to his word, Anatolius bowed his head. “Very well. When?”

“I will take the Khaz clan, the battle will not last long once they realize that Dun was a false prophet, and I am truly the Chosen Warlord of Turok. Do you have a place nearby where we can meet and ride?” Uruhua nodded and spoke for her brother. “There is a guild a few miles from here. We will return with Rog’Nahk and await your arrival.” Urog’Thorain, Chosen Warlord of Turok gave a stiff nod, and beckoned to us, her blood riders. “Onward!” We turned back to battle.

Truly she is the chosen one. With the Khaz broken and soon beneath us, a godling in her debt, and the light of Turok shining upon us nothing can stand in our way. The Thorain clan will soon meet Turok in the skies to take the stars.


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