Athos: The Return

Session XLVIII: Familiar Consequences
Chapter 48: Familiar Consequences

An excerpt from the planar vacationing journal of Simon Bloom

I woke up from what felt like the longest sleep I had had in a long while. It was both refreshing and deeply uncomfortable; refreshing in that I never get to sleep in anymore, uncomfortable in that I hadn’t been sleeping at all but instead was knocked unconscious by a violent explosion of spirit fuel from the Urn of Vision. [[Sikarenia’s]] tower, which had once stood tall as a monument to one of Athos’ excreted Urns, looked like a peeled banana. I’m glad I had never stepped foot in The Realm of the Green Mist before this, seeing new places was never quite the same unless it involved us destroying something that seemed important. The rest of the party rose and I got to work trying to open the planar door that would take us back to Elandir. It all seemed pretty familiar; anger some big bad, cause a huge explosion, wake up some unforeseeable time later groggy and no where near a comfy bed. Everyone yawned and stretched, but opening up the planar door was essentially the greatest wake up call I will ever receive. I could feel every metaphorical ounce of magical energy inside me hum with the rhythm of two separate worlds; the magic items I wore shook in arcane excitement. Unfortunately the excitement the cosmos and I shared vanished at the site on the other side of the planar door. The great forest of Elandir had been burnt down and this sadly seemed familiar too.

Less than an hour ago these woods were bountiful, lively; one big silver dragon/blown up Urn of Vision/planar vacation later and everything in Elandir is torched. The ash is cold to the touch and the trees look like they’ve been broken for a while. It’s clear that we didn’t cause this twisted fate of Elandir’s; at least not directly…by Athos I really hope we didn’t do this. We all know that Urns can slow down time for those near them, but it’s still frustrating not knowing how much time has past. What’s more frustrating is not knowing how much the world has changed since we’ve been gone. One symbol still stands strong though, Nox’s eclipse hangs above our heads.

The walk back to Silver Leaf, the village we stayed in the night before, is wrapped in silence, but everyone is thinking about what caused this. Nox is obviously involved, especially since learning of his plan to spread chaos around the realm of Athos. I think we’re all more concerned about the direct cause though. What army, monster, or even god related being was involved in this. The Oncoming Storm and Planesbeing are another option, but Big Stormy denies any involvement for whatever sway that holds over the rest of the party…apparently it holds a lot. Everyone is dismissive of the Planesbeing, I expected Anatolius to come up with the first excuse to hunt him down. From what I remember we freed the Planesbeing and he just left to do his own thing. Even Oberon should find that questionable. Of course pursuing that discussion would be the same as telling everyone to yell at me and I guess I’m just not in the mood to make everyone hate me.

Everything is in ruins on Elandir. The great forests have all been burnt down, the skyline is shrouded in thick, grotesque smoke, and the island once known for it’s connection with magic and nature is long gone. I can’t shake this familiar feeling, this deja vu. We almost walk right through Silver Leaf without even realizing it. The whole village was scorched and flattened. Oberon doesn’t say anything. These were his friends in a way; they took us in because of his presence. The soot and taste of death is in the air, it coats our tongues and no one can say anything. Without a word between us we begin the walk to the only place on Elandir that could stand this kind of disaster, the kingdom of Turodor, home to our brother Ricard Carreon. I wish Uruhua had done the same, it would have been easier. Instead she berates us for not trying to find survivors. I suppose we deserve it; if we had the time, the resources, if I was a better person I would have agreed. Unfortunately we can’t afford to take stragglers, let alone protect them from whatever caused this in the first place. More unfortunately I don’t think I would trust them and I don’t think anyone else would either. Everything sucks, we need some fun again.

Another few days of travel, at least a week of the same, ultimately depressing scenery and we finally reach Turodor. I’ve never been so happy to hear guards yelling from behind a wall; it feels a touch normal. Regardless of the destruction burnt into Elandir, Turodor stands strong and protected. Ricard Carreon’s kingdom stands as a monument to Elf culture, towers of wood and stone lay behind the city walls as if they had grown out of the ground naturally. The sight of Turodor was enough to lift our spirits, but not enough to make us feel ease. We still needed to know if our demigod brother ruled behind those walls and if he still stood against Nox. Statistically, the riskiest option was our most successful (also our most common) so it’s clear how we approached the situation.

“We are the demigod siblings of Ricard Carreon, the King of Turodor! We ask you to open the gates and let us in.” Anatolius said from outside the gates, we just kind of waited for something to happen next.

“If you are truly demigods then tell us where your fortress was built?” a familiar voice shouted down at us.

“Titan’s Hold stands strong in The Frozen Coast!” Anatolius said.

I stand by the fact that that answer was too risky, we have no idea how long we’ve been gone or how the world has changed. Gotta hand it to Anatolius though he has confidence in our new home. A few seconds went by and there was no response from above, but we could hear some murmuring. I seized the opportunity and decided to have some fun again.

“Come on Ricard, could anyone really confuse me for someone else?” I yelled up at them as I cast my signature unicorn horn prestidigitation. In my head I brought some much needed brevity to the guards atop that wall; I heard them laugh like they haven’t laughed in months, I saw Ricard crying over the sight of his long lost siblings, the party patting me on the back for a job well done.

“Only you could tell jokes at a time as serious as this, Simon. Open the gates!” Ricard called out. No laughter, no tears of joy, all in all no fun. I got the job done at least.

Maybe I need a new signature joke.

Ricard welcomed us to his kingdom and his palace. Though Turodor still stood it was hardly better than outside the walls. The place was overflowing with refugees who looked scared and hungry. Maybe I would have felt better if we had saved some survivors like Uruhua said. The evening was themed by a feast, our brother seemed happy that we were alive. We kept most of the events and details of our latest adventure a secret, but thankfully Ricard was more than willing to tell us anything we asked. Athos be Praised that we have such a brother by our side!

This is what we learned: It had been almost exactly one year since I opened the planar door to the Green Mists. Since then Nox’s eclipse had not wavered from it’s ominous presence. All of the major religions, not just The Church of Athos Dominus, had declared the eclipse as evidence of the apocalypse and have since been trying to subjugate as many people under their religion as possible. Aside from that, large armies of Shadar-Kai have been raiding, destroying, and attacking any land, kingdom, or village that stands. The world is for the most part separated from each other and what little pockets of civilization are left have no choice but to focus on protecting themselves from the continuing assaults of the Shadar-Kai and powerful religious groups. The Realm of Athos was shrouded in chaos. Nox’s plan was already coming together.

The feast ended and we were more than happy to sleep on real beds for the first time in over two weeks. This would be the comfiest, most uplifting sleep we’ve taken in a while. In the morning we would head to The Isle of Bloom to pick up our boat and then straight to Titan’s Hold. We were split into two separate rooms so we could all have some space to relax, but Anatolius wanted us to perform the spirit fuel ritual we tried on Harker’s boat once again.

“Do not do this, Herlad. These are not forces to be trifled with.” Big Stormy’s voice rang in my head. Unfortunately it wasn’t enough to just say no to Anatolius, and any mention of the Storm would only spur his curiosity. I hate being between two people, tugged at each end with no say in the matter. Thankfully Anatolius would have performed the ritual without me, and one thing Big Stormy seems to hate more than disobedience is being left out. Uruhua joined us this time as we performed the ritual in the room Ricard had given to the three of us. Once again we drew the symbol of the arrows that appears to be associated with the Urns and spirit fuel, and just as before we saw the different strands of spirit fuel extend away from us. We followed the strand of deception; it slid in and out of our sight, difficult to follow but obvious in its origins of deception. It did not show us what we assumed though. Instead of truths of the world or the source of deception it showed us a painting hung up in the room we were staying in. Of course we looked, who wouldn’t. Behind the painting was a safe, to us in that moment it was deafeningly ominous. So we cracked it with Anatolius’ roguish skills, who wouldn’t. What we found was both more and less shocking than we ever imagined. Pictures of a beautiful elvish woman and a necklace sat in the safe and nothing more. None of us could recognize the woman, she was no one important. The safe was of no importance; generally a huge let down.

We were about to put everything back, close the safe and painting, clean up the ritual, and go to bed. “About to” being the key phrase, and I hope my dear brother Ricard realizes the humor in this when he finally gets around to reading my journal. We were about to do all that when Ricard walked through the door and saw the unfamiliar ritual drawn on the floor, his secret painting and locked safe open, and the clearly personal pictures and necklace in our hands. An hour later all of us, including Oberon and Valenae sat on boat sailing away from Turodor. I could hear Anatolius apologizing to Oberon as he yelled at us for taking away his first real bed in weeks. To be honest it felt just like old times; Oberon yelling at Anatolius, the smell of the sea and rocking of the boat, knowing that we had just been apart of some brilliant comedy. When our adventure is at an end, and the world is safe, I’m going to tell this story at a huge feast and I’ll finally hear some laughs. An honest smile crept onto my face, it felt like old times. This was the fun I was looking for.

I turned and took one last look at Turodor, but I caught a glimpse of the entirety of Elandir or what was left of it. That familiar feeling came back, that deja vu and I realized this is what it was like when Sysitar fell. Nox had done it again and who knows how much of the world has fallen to the same, twisted fate. That may have been the last honest smile I’ll feel for a while, but it will have to last me till we finally defeat Nox.

View
Session XLVII: Visions of Grandeur
Chapter 47: Visions of Grandeur

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

The great silver dragon Sikarenia had revealed his true form. An impressive beast, yet also filled with cunning and intelligence. Simon Bloom spoke softly, “If we’re going to kill him, let me see the amulet first.” Anatolius laughed. “Now brother, is that you or the Storm talking?” Simon said nothing, but his silence convinced Anatolius that his worries were well deserved.

Quiet at first but now sensing the imminent battle to come, Uruhua could no longer contain herself. “Sikarenia, we must have words. At one point I too, was an ally of Nox. Perhaps we could come to terms.” From within her bag, Uruhua pulled her trophy. The golden coat of the dragon Golagoraraxx, brother to Sikarenia. Uruhua placed the coat around her shoulders, and made a solemn vow to Sikarenia. “So long as I wear this coat, I shall not harm you.” Uruhua laid down her weapons, and approached the massive beast. Behind her, Anatolius pleaded with her not to approach. Oberon stood by Anatolius’ comment, “Uruhua think! Sikarenia has already pledged to be an ally of Nox. There can be no reasoning.” But Uruhua tried regardless.

“Why have you sided with Nox? How did he convince you?” Uruhua’s eyes showed perplexity. As one of the ancient Noxarii,, Uruhua felt she was the only one who could truly understand Sikarenia. She knew how Nox could persuade, convince. Yet in the back of their minds, her brothers and sisters worried if Uruhua was searching for an excuse, some way to alleviate her former ally of his guilt. “It was not Nox who convinced me, as he once did to you. I am the guardian of the Urn of Vision. I have seen the end of things, and I know that Nox will be victorious. If I side with you, I am accepting defeat. But when I destroy you, I will come out triumphant, alongside the Chosen One; Nox.” Sikarenia’s answer provided no help in Uruhua’s goal, only proving that he was beyond salvation. Uruhua shook her head, and slowly walked back to her compatriots. As she reached her allies, she whipped the golden cloak off her shoulders. As it hit the floor, she turned and charged Sikarenia, spear in hand. The battle had begun.

Uruhua lead the charge, and her spear struck valiant and true. But the guardian was no a stranger to combat. His claws lashed out, and in the time it would take a normal man to swing a blade, Sikarenia was able to strike several times at the demigods. A whirl of claws and teeth showed the great guardian’s strength. Unleashing his power, Simon Bloom released a storm of chaos magic around himself, with Sikarenia at it’s edge and himself at the core. With the cloud of chaos engulfing him Sikarenia flashed in and out of existence, allowing the demigods the opportunity to strike simultaneously. Oberon found a weak spot in the dragon’s scales, and was able to exploit for his allies. The blood flowed, and as the dragon took his last breath, Anatolius’ blade cleaved the dragon’s head from his body. The head flew off the edge of the spire, and the body turned to ash without its head attached. Where Sikarenia, Guardian of the Urn of Vision once stood there was now nothing but a pile of ash, and the amulet.

thumb.png

Anatolius picked up the amulet, and his siblings watched as a strange look came over his face. “This symbol… we’ve seen it before.” Indeed they had, it had been on the floor of Golagoraraxx’s chamber, as well as engraved on the door to the Urn of Deception. They promised to record the symbol to memory, and began the discussion on a question. “What do we ask? From what I’ve gathered we can learn anything; Nox’s history, the truth of the Urns… we could learn about Random. But we only get one shot.” Simon’s words rang true, and clutching the amulet Anatolius lead the party up the ramp to the Urns. They discussed, perfecting their question and ensuring that its wording lacked any flaw. Finally, Anatolius handed the amulet to Uruhua. “I’ll keep a telepathic channel open. This way we’ll all see what the Urn has to offer.” Uruhua took the amulet in her palm, and walked towards the Urn. She pushed the cold steel of the amulet against the soft blue glow of the Urn, and spoke clear. “What is the nature of the energy contained within the Urns?”

Simon bloom focused on Uruhua as she asked the Urn their question. He saw the energy of the Urn link with that of the amulet, and the Urn’s power reached out into all Athos’ creation to find a vision of truth. Everything that ever was, or would be, was subject to the Urn of Vision’s power. Uruhua’s telepathy allowed her to share everything she saw with her brothers and sisters. This proved to be an excellent decision, because what she saw was the most incredible thing she had ever laid her eyes on.

First, nothingness. The blackness that only comes during the darkest nights. Even now, after thousands of years of life, Uruhua had never seen something so completely dark. Floating in darkness, her eyes turned to find the sole thing in the everlasting blackness, Athos. There her father floated, alone as the only thing in all of the universe. Yet he looked sickly, as if he had taken ill. From within his own body, the pale blue energy of Spirit Fuel flowed forth and out from him, until it formed a large sphere before him. Athos’ strength returned to him, and Uruhua’s mind saw her father now at his full strength having purged the Spirit Fuel from himself. The blackness took over and the vision faded, leading to the next scene that the Urn had to offer.

Now, Uruhua’s vision came down towards the Realm of Athos which she so loved. The Urn’s vision showed her high above the clouds and descended down to where she and her siblings found their first Urn high in the mountains of The Frozen Coast. As if floating downward, she came to where the Urn of Power once rested. There, she saw but a small fraction of the Spirit Fuel sphere that was once before Athos. It spun, almost forming a tornado as it did so. Finally it solidified into the Urn of Power. The vision faded, and Uruhua snapped back into her own body. She turned to her brothers and sister, and spoke. “Wow.”

The halfling’s vision echoed in the minds of the demigods. “What does that mean? What does spirit fuel have to do with our Father?” Valenae’s question barely lingered on the wind before the Silver Spire beneath them began to quake. The Urn of Vision, having absorbed the amulet, began to glow with pale blue light. “Oh shit. It’s gonna blow!” Simon recognized the telltale signs of a collapsing Urn, and the Children of Athos began to make a run for it. “We have to get back to the portal!” Simon took the lead, racing towards the portal. The demigods could only move so fast, however, and as they reached the final step of the spire, the wave of released Spirit Fuel caught them, and the demigods fell to the ground, knocked unconscious by the blast.

View
Session XLVI: Oculus
Chapter 46: Oculus

Gently gliding his finger through the ether, Simon Bloom unzipped the fabric of space and time. Then, reaching his hands between the thin glowing tear, stretched the portal wide and climbed through it, disappearing into the resplendent glow. Following close behind, though weary from astral combat, the party crossed through and breached the Realm of the Green Mist.

The faint haze of alien pollen and yellow floating bacteria drifted lightly, obscuring the distant husks of hallowed, fallen trees and twisted vines. The winds howled and as Valenae gracefully stepped onto the verdant grasslands, the soft smell of the shore wafted in the breeze. The trees extended in every direction and the dense atmosphere made it appear infinite.

“The smell,” Oberon spoke, “Follow the smell and we can escape this.”

Following the tiny god, the party weaved through the polluted sylvan landscape, stretching their hands outward for support against the flora which seemed to substantiate at random. The smooth blades of grass soon receded however, and the air grew cleaner. The spores were less frequent and the ground mixed with sand, growing into a light pink. Ahead, a dune appeared from the mist and as the party began to ascend the sound of the waves crashing grew clear. Over the dune, the sand stretched far down and the torrential foam from the sea washed over the pink sands gently.

The skies, now empty, revealed the vast cosmos of the fey landscape. Three suns illuminated the sky and cast eternal life onto the planet. Below the warped nimbus clouds, a towering silver spire stretched like a light beam straight into the sky. Beyond all mortal architecture, thin metal ovoid structures formed constellation paths around the tower. Solid orbs glided in regular intervals on the tracks, enacting a vast, vertical cosmos. From the lowest rung of the tower, an opaque bridge was made known only by the reflection of the bright white sun high above. When the bridge met with the beach, a massive boulder stood sentry.

Approaching cautiously, Simon Bloom examined the hulking impediment. The sand around it gave no hints to its arrival, its purpose. Though it was the whispering old man at the foot of the boulder, which gave method it its location. Covered in a brown, ragged cloak, the man hunched whispering in a deep guttural tongue that sounded like gargled water over clashing stones. Weapons drawn, the old man reached and pulled down his hood. Under, lay a cracked face of ossified skin. As he whispered, the skin around his lips scraped against the tiled squares of broken cheek, grinding his face and casting a limestone dust over his cloak. Then the geomancer widened his mouth and in a wail of pain summoned the stone to life. As it washed over with magic the stone split with a resounding clash of force and two separate beasts formed the vanguard of the Silver Tower.

Roaring into action Valenae and Uruhua charged into the stone guardians whilst Anatolius, reading his arm fired with great force into the enemy. The Geomancer roared once more and with his staff of humble ore, commanded his valiant troops. Though his constitution was solid, even the greatest of natural wonders are eroded by the onslaught of nature’s might. As quickly as their tremors shook the ground, so did they end, falling into the sea and onto the shore. Anatolius, firing his great inferno into the chest of the Geomancer watched as it swirled into its body and shattered the wizard into a thousand unrecognisable pebbles. The foam from the sea washed over the remains, hiding them amongst the sand and seashells.

At the crux of the ornate silver stairs in the hallowed interior of the tower, a wide door stood half-ajar. Beyond it lay a wide room of arched windows where the wind roared into the room. The arches reached high into the room above the door. The room beyond the door was flanked on either side by two ascending staircases against the rounded wall leading to a platform. As they entered, twisting runes and designs on the ground began to glow and the reflection of a shimmering cloak threw light onto the large polished calligraphy of an ancient dragon which connected the series of runes.

“Why have you come here, forlorn sons and daughters of Athos. There is naught but doom in the chamber of Sikarenia. Look above, and weep, at the Glory of Athos!”

The man in robes, with the face of a high elf, lifted is jeweled finger towards us and gripping a small silver locket dangling from his neck with the other, then cast his view upwards with his opal eyes, the jewel encrusted pupils of some otherworldly monster, and shouted, “BEHOLD!”

Just above, on the ledge above the entrance portal, stood a great Urn. A massive eye scratched into its exterior. The painted hand of Athos, the size of a man’s, smashed into it a thousand times in a haphazard ornamentation. A meditation of madness. In a flash the monster dissolved and reemerged at the top of the platform. Falling to his knees he scratched at his face wildly and turned to the party, with blood running down his pallid face like tears staining his pearly white visage with red deltas, horrifying to see.

“Now do you see?!?! You are all doomed!” Then pressing the silver locket against the urn called out:

“WHY HAVE YOU COME HERE!”

Uruhua, seeing that this creature was certainly as the previous, gold encrusted guardian of the Urn of Creation, began to speak, to calm the sentry. His words unmet. Simon Bloom, too, desperately recalling the fall of Golagoraxx, pleaded with the dragon. Though, poor argent Sikarenia, too warped by his duty, had already been lost. Sikarenia, rejecting the pleas and offers of Athos’ chosen, cast his bloody face to the oculus of the tower and allowing the sun to bleach his face with its rays, shuttered with fear and closed his eyes with a wince of pain. Then he spoke:

“No, there is but Nox, there is but night. The days in the Realm of the Green Mist are over and all the universe is to be repainted in blackness. I am sorry, children, but this war is over. I am over. I am vision, I am the sight, and I have seen all that needs to seeing. Now, close your eyes with me children, and embrace the everlasting evening. See the void, and realise Athos’ glorious salvation!”

View
Session XLV: Hail, Planesbeing
Chapter 45: Hail, Planesbeing

Anatolius proceeding cautiously wrenched down the first of the steel beams. A sound like clockwork below the flat sleek surface echoed and clamoured until screeches pierced the reflective surface in resounding static pitches. The Inferno struck out and incinerated the foes with felling flames that ripped through the air like black arrows. Valenae quickly pulled the second beam. A creak and that wailing sound heralded the static winds resurgence as more beams independently fell. A second success. The reflections danced from the light burning eerily from their fragmented forms. The vial… Reaching into a socket above the heart of his breastplate, he withdrew the container of souls. In the tongue of Old Naxos he whispered names into the void sending the smoke of extinguished life onto the darkening tile. Four twisted figures of shadow and fire appeared clad in black armour made of sulphur and carbon. Their arms formed sharp blades or dense shields and morning stars being at once armour and weapon. The demigod’s eyes widening, he stepped back an instant; flickers of bright flame across his eyes. Hands trembling, he beckoned them forward. Simon Bloom pulled the final switch and brought down the third success. The doors echoed open and the static fizzled quickly under the offence.

Though from that monstrous door pounded the image of a draconic abomination. Itself, a spectre lost between dimensionality, was neither here nor there. Its roar echoed across planes. The sound phased in and out of ears: a fragmented, isolated, and broken cry. It was only Valynae, whose cry rose above harmony and commanded the shadow dragon to rest. Her strike carried with it vengeance, crippling the foe. Its ephemeral movements ceased and its hulking body massed in a quiet darkness. The crash of holy radiant thunder and searing blue flame tore into the dragon. Though its battered head reared quickly with pride unequaled (for that is the tragedy of dragons), the dragon’s constitution could no longer sustain its ambitions. The demigods, in their display of superior command and execution summarily annihilated the beast, sending its phasing body into nothingness as the killing strike sent the dragon spiraling across the infinite planes lost amidst the stars beyond Heaven.

The descent beyond the monstrous door was easy. Upon the door was cast a mural, embossed deep with the event of an imprisonment by Athos. His hand, reaching out, seemed to grip Anatolius where he stood below his fathers watchful glare. But below his outstretched palms lay the large static sphere, glanced at the height of of the Sky Temple. Within the sphere was a star. Though I have seen no star quite like this. Anatolius considered to himself as he ran his cinder-still fingers down the length of the lightning cage. I imagine you were thrown away rather easily, too.

At the bottom of the staircase the mouth of the exit stretched high above the sphere. The sphere itself, One hundred metres in diametre lay in the centre of the chamber. Below its howling torrent of thunder and light, seven beams. Atop each the Athoian symbol for a plane. Oberon and Simon Bloom began. The beams fell. Arbitrary at first, but perseverance and continued attempts yielded a final wrenching sound. Anatolius nearly fell back as a bright light filled the room. The rays retracted and focused into a body that fell back into itself as if space and time bent only to reveal its existence. Slowly, an inky purple bled through the ether surrounding th aberration. The royal shade slowly formed into the shape of a man, though featureless to see. The uncomfortable concision of flat eyes and a mouth-less jaw composed the image of a being not of this world’s understanding.

The creature, as if slipping through the very air, appeared before Anatolius and inspected him.

Hail, I am Planesbeing. Who art thou who grounds the chains which shock the very skies? Who is it that wishes to see me freed?

“I. I would see yo-”

Your words ring hallow demigod. I have seen inside your minds. I am at one with this force and have watched inside of each and your comrades. I know now, though I had not before. You are the children of Athos and you would see me side in a war for which all its causes and traumas I have not known nor endured of any consequence until now. An appeal to emotion is unreasonable, Blue Ember. This is a wide, wide universe unto which you cannot begin to surmise the facets that govern it. Therefore, you had better try something different to enrapture my spirit. I am not unreasonable. Though I see you believe it so. You have freed me from my brother’s snare and for that I am obliged by the laws of Athos to view you on friendly terms. So, Anatolius, Son-of-the-Morning, try again.

Anatolius cringed. “Our Brother.”

Pointing to Simon Bloom, he continued, “He has sworn fealty to the Oncoming Storm and has been ordered here to use your mastery of travel as a tool for our quest and his power. We seek Athosian artif-

No, you seek revenge. You seek power and your arrogance assures you already have it. While you may not seek fratricide you have hurled yourself into it and committed the taboo yourself in doing such. You may think you seek to save this world, all of you do, but you each only truly seek your own betterment. This competition is no more than your training has led you to strive for. I shall trade information in exchange for your freeing me. Anything else, I should like to see traded. This power I grant in exchange for a task, perhaps. I see into you that you are not without hope, though your desires better each of you. I shall assist lightly in this affair of yours as well, granted you accept.

“What would you ask of us?” Simon Bloom questioned the Planesbeing. The Planesbeing violently twisted its head behind its body and glared directly into Simon Bloom. It arms ripped like long tubes and grasped the sides of Bloom’s head, restraining his movements.

You will kill _my _ brother for me. Do this, and I shall help destroy yours.

Though his face lay still, the thick presence of a smile reverberated lightly across his mannequin cheeks.

I was imprisoned here by my brother, your Master, The Oncoming Storm. When Athos was through with us, his tools for making these realms, we were left to our own dispositions. You know nothing. It is what lies between all these worlds that is the greatest mystery. There is so much. But he squandered it and cast us aside! That Storm and his havoc cost us our freedom. And each imprisoned the other against the bonds of eternal containment. How he escaped brings me WRATH! Though I recall him a sealed being, as I am. You are a lucky one perhaps, Boy-of-the-Blue-Flame. I have impaired his connection to The Labyrinthine Wanderer, but truly, no matter what he will be summoned to the Master’s call across any divide. Such is our magic. A word of caution, he must remain conscious.

“Why is that?” Oberon piped up. The Planesbeing again bent his neck round.

Lest the Storm seize all of him for eternity. A husk without a name?

The smile erupted and space folded around his glaring empty expression, horrifying to see. A planar jest.

But do not lose hope, Tiny One. Should he pass, you shant be far behind I imagine. For in your brother’s skin he will rise higher than before. In truth, all he must do is wait for this one to die! Ultimately, he has gambled on you to lose this fight. So? Do you accept? My assistance for his destruction. I, too, seek revenge.

The party looked down. It was Simon Bloom, again, who cast his eyes upwards and nodded. The metonymous decision. The essence of a smile faded on the Planesbeing. He reformed and cast his eyes upon the Demigods.

So be it. Recall this, for he shall not.

With his finger, the Planesbeing struck Simon Bloom’s forehead. His eyes melted over white and his face calmed from the shock.

“Planesbeing,” Anatolius kept his eyes to the ground, watching himself as he spoke in the cool reflection. “What is spirit fuel? What is this inside of us?”

So that is what you have decided on. I’m afraid I cannot give that to you. This war you face, is not that. Memento mori, Anatolius.

The clouds descended and once again Anatolius found himself in the grove on Elandir. The Storm himself struck to the ground and its ringing projection loudly asked, “And of your journey?”

Simon Bloom, unaware of its implications, replied, “A success.”

The cloud hovered a moment and then disapated. Behind the evaporating darkness, Anatolius stared deep into the face of the Planesbeing. No longer before him, he remained and was gone.

View
Session XLIV: A Prison for a King of Doors
Chapter 44: A Prison for a King of Doors

An excerpt from the unfortunately vague journal of Simon Bloom

My memory of this adventure is a little hazy. I remember everything for the most part, but it’s as if a few details are missing. I gotta say though, I did not forget the jealousy I felt towards the monsters charged with guarding this prison; I mean they get to live outside The Oncoming Storm’s influence and ignore direct orders from him. The orders were given by me, but what’s the point of the being the second in command if no one will respect any of my commands? It was a pretty simple command too, nothing crazy or weird like jump off a mountain or kiss [[Anatolius’s]] boots. I suppose “back off” and “let us pass” are pretty extreme to monsters whose whole purpose is to protect a godly entity imprisoned by their creator.

Where was I…RIGHT! Jealousy, violent jealousy. Overpowering jealousy. To be honest I sort of checked out mid-fight and let the party decide the battle strategy; that may have something to do with my hazy memory come to think of it. When I came to the subjects of my brutal jealousy were replaced by a number of large switches. It was a generally simple puzzle, almost all of the switches activate or deactivate another switch when used. So far this whole cage was kind of a disappointment, for something that is meant to hold a planar deity I was expecting something more dangerous and exciting. When we escape with the Planesbeing I’ll teach Big Stormy how to build a more impressive prison; maybe some shifting walls, invisible guards, more complicated puzzles, I’d give it the works.

Sorry, I keep getting side tracked, my memory is just too unfocused here. So anyway, Anatolius threw a fit over this switch puzzle, but ended up solving it on the first try. Though he was probably just wildly flipping switches to burn out some of his frustration, but clearly that won’t impede anyone from freeing the Planesbeing. The next room of the prison opened up and I can’t shake the feeling like things are going to start changing once we free him, maybe that’s just because we’re heading to another urn after this?

View
Session XLIII: A Glimpse of Enlightenment
Chapter 43: A Glimpse of Enlightenment

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

With the decision made to head to Elandir, the five sons and daughters of Athos set off to the land of Elandir. Electing to stay behind once more, Vondal remained at the fortress of Titan’s Hold, although Uruhua once again accompanied the party. Their hearts heavy, they set off aboard Harker’s vessel Filiis to his home island. Before leaving, Anatolius and Simon loaded their rooms with tomes and scrolls of knowledge, searching to learn more about Spirit Fuel, the fall of Nox, the creation of all things, and the Pillars of Eternal Reverence used to drain the life from Sysitar. And with these tomes loaded, they set off for their month long journey across the ocean.

During their journey, The Party spent their time doing more than just hunching over old tomes. With the permission of Captain Harker, Simon Bloom and Anatolius set off to conduct a powerful ritual. With an intricate circle drawn in chalk onto the floor of their room, they began. Anatolius sat across from Simon, both with legs crossed as they slowly entered a deep state of meditation. Moments went by, until it seemed it had been hours. Each of them reached into the depths of their bodies’ Spirit Fuel and by channeling through the ritual circle, they were able to see what they had never seen before. Deep in trance, their eyes slowly opened, revealing the awesome power of The Great Urns that flowed within them. Looking down at their own arms, they could see four distinct strands of Spirit Fuel flowing through their veins. Power, Annihilation, Creation, and Deception had all left their marks. Creation was clear to discern, as it seemed to be growing through their bodies. Like a sapling, roots were expanding out from the flow of Creation. Annihilation and Deception were more difficult, and true understanding of them was not grasped. However, the most interesting of all was that of the Urn of Power.

Flowing not only through themselves, the Spirit Fuel from the Urn of Power reached out from them. As if a thread connected them, Simon and Anatolius saw the link of the Urn of Power between them. From each of their bodies, four more threads reached upward, spread out through the roof of the ship. And two threads, nearly touching, reached out toward the ship’s bow. One of these threads reaching towards the bow had a unique quality to it. Rather than a thread connecting and linking alone, this thread pulled. Like a straw it pulled on Anatolius and Simon. Each of them focused on one of these two threads, ignoring the other four. Simon focused on the pulling thread, and found it to be massively powerful. It seemed to be drawing power from him, and from all those connected to it. Anatolius focused on the thread beside it, and found it to be quite strange as well. From the moment he focused on it, he could feel something wrong. A necrotic energy permeated this thread, and the sickening smell of death filled his nose. Pain and anguish entered his mind more and more, growing every second he spent focused on this thread.

The boat rocked, hit on it’s starboard side by a large wave. Anatolius and Simon were knocked out of their trance and awoke from their trance. They began to discuss in depth what they had seen, deciding that each thread lead to another linked by the Urn of Power. The most powerful thread, pulling on them, they deemed to have been Nox, and they decided that the threads leading through the top of the boat lead to their brothers and Simon’s creation Golagoraraxx, who had been powered by the shard of the Urn found by Anatolius. After much discussion of the matter, they rested long and prepared for their arrival at the Isle of Bloom.

When they last came to the residence of Simon’s descendants, they were showered in wealth. The riches of the island and the Family Bloom had been immeasurable. Now after the brokering off all the pirate ships, the island was much more desolate. Once stepping off Filiis, Harker led the group to his family’s estate. Once surrounded by elaborate paintings and fine crafted statues, the estate now seemed as if everything not nailed down had been sold.

Stepping out from around a corner, Harker’s uncle and Lord of the Isle of Bloom Meritus appeared. “Greetings Children of Athos, Friends and Companions of Simon Bloom, The Labyrinth. Welcome once again to our home, The Isle of Bloom.” Before Meritus could finish his bow, Anatolius spoke in concerned voice. “Meritus, what has happened? Your home looks as if it had been raided. Surely the cost of the pirate fleet has not robbed you so.” Meritus nodded, “Unfortunately it has. But don’t fret too much Lord Anatolius, we’ll make back our fortune. This isn’t the lowest we’ve been, and the Family Bloom is resilient. There’s a reason we’re the most successful pirates this side of Sysitar.” Anatolius let out a hearty laugh, and thanked Meritus once again for his kindness. Simon Bloom shook his descendant’s hand. “You will let us know if you need anything, won’t you? We are truly in your debt.” Simon’s promise would be remembered, but at the moment Meritus told him he’d save it for another occasion, and thanked him.

That night, they ate well. Their rooms were still well kept, and although the exterior of the Bloom Estate looked in shambles, the quality of service had not declined at all. The Party arose and set off once more, headed now to the great continent of Elandir, home of the elves and hopefully the location of the fifth Urn.

Their landing was done on a small boat, with Harker anchoring Fillis a few miles off the shore. He promised he would wait for their arrival. This too, would be put to the test. Once the demigods landed on Elandir proper, they set off for the scent of Spirit Fuel. After three days travel, they arrived at the village of Silver Leaf in the heart of Elandir. However, the once happy community of Silver Leaf was no closed, shut off from the world. What had once been mighty trees were now cut down, sharpened into a crude barricade the cut off the village from the forest. As the demigods approached the town, an elvish voice cried out. “Halt! State your intentions or be put down.” Coming forward, the High Priest of Asthur, Oberon stepped forward. “I am The Light of Athos, High Priest of Asthur, and Child to Athos. My companions are my brothers and sisters. Who are you, and why has the village of Silver Leaf become so hostile?” With Oberon’s words, the door slowly creaked open and an elaborately garbed Elf stepped forward. “Greetings Oberon, I am Olwë Mithrandír, leader of the village of Silver Leaf. I apologize for our inital hostility, but I am sure that you understand. The world is no longer safe as it once was. Come in, and welcome to Silver Leaf.” Oberon lead his compatriots inside, and pulled Olwë aside. “What is this hostility of which you speak, we have no heard. You see, we have been travelling for some time.” Olwë’s eyes turned sad as he asked the demigods to follow him to his home.

“You see, my lords… things have not been right in the world these past few months. Strange reports are coming in that, well. It’s hard to say. It seems that all the world’s gone crazy. The powerful Church of Athos Dominus has deemed this lasting darkness as the end of the world. They have told their followers that this is a great test of Athos, and that only by destroying all the ‘blasphemers’ and ‘heathens’ can Athos be appeased and the end of the world stopped.” Outraged, Anatolius fumed. “How dare those bastards say such things? Surely the Church knows that they don’t have the power to take on the world?” Olwë nodded, slowly. “Yes, but they are not the only ones upon which this eclipse has caused madness. The Dwarves to the north have heard from their scryers, several of their highest all confirm one vision, a rotting of Athos. They claim that the actions of the Church is draining the end of Kaz-Doran’s power and causing the apocalypse. The Orcs are no better, as it seems that this ongoing blackness has caused several Warlords of Turok to claim that now is the time for the great hunt. They are preparing for battle, they claim the time is now for a great warlord to lay claim upon all of Athos and bring everlasting peace to the world. It would seem that all the world now thirsts for war.” The party was taken aback by this news. Only Valanae spoke, asking, “What of the elves? Have they too, lost their minds?” Olwë’s answer at last contained some good news. “Not all of them. Any follower of Asthuriesse would tell you they can feel a sickness on the Realm. Everything feels weaker, sicker. Most have chosen this time to fortify, defend. But a few have begun to build an army, blaming these religious fools for the end of the world and tasking themselves with the job of destroying them. The world will soon bleed if these ridiculous claims cannot be stopped.”

Distress. Worry. And then, focus. The party turned back to the task at hand, asking Olwë if he knew of any strange places nearby. Perhaps somewhere that people had gone missing, or odd occurrences had been known to happen. They returned to the task of finding the Urn. Olwë was able to point them in the direction of Clearing of Solace, known for such odd events. The party laid down to rest in a small inn within the town and set off for the clearing at the next morning’s first sign of eclipse-covered sunlight.

When they came to the clearing, immediately they sensed something strange. The yellow-green grass swayed in the wind, opposite in direction to the sway of the leaves in the trees. The air felt thick, permeating with magic. Simon Bloom, tapping into the magic, found the reason. “The Urn is on another plane. Likely The Land of the Green Mist, one of the Realms Beside. I don’t know how we’d get there.” Discussion occurred, and the realization that finding a portal could take weeks, and even once a portal was found there could be no guarantee they would be anywhere near the fifth Urn. As hope ran thin, Simon spoke up. “The Storm has a solution. He’s been talking to me…and well. He wants us to save his brother in order to leap between the planes.” Anatolius retorted in fury. “We’ve already decided never to do such a thing! You tell the Storm that-” Anatolius was cut off by a crack of thunder issued out forth from Simon’s staff. Simon’s eyes rolled into the back of his head, lightning crackled across his skin. The sky above the clearing went dark, as black clouds covered the sky and Simon’s staff gave out another boom of thunder, followed by a bolt of lightning from the sky. “Behold, for he is The Oncoming Storm, Lightning Liege, The Storm Who Walks, and he has graced you with his presence.” Simon’s possessed state ended, his pupils returning to see that now the Oncoming Storm had graced them with his presence.

“What do you want? We don’t need your help.” Anatolius was curt, tired already from dealing with this creature that had such a hold on his brother. The Storm’s response came quick, with a sense of power behind him that even the demigods had difficultly understanding. “This is the only way. Free my brother, The Planesbeing. He can grant Simon the ability to create portals between the realms. I will take you to his prison, high in the sky and of mine own creation. You will free him, and he will teach you.” The party debated, discussed. It seemed they had no choice, this was the fastest way. Nodding, Simon Bloom gave the party’s consent to the Storm. And with a gust of wind, the Storm raised all the party into the sky, higher and higher beyond even the tops of the tallest mountains. And there in the sky, it was. A great prison, formed of cloud and electricity floated. Almost as if a prison had been ripped from the earth and left to hang in the sky. “This is where my brother is stored. Free him, and the power you seek shall be yours.” The Storm left them, at the edge of the Skycage. A deal with the Storm, trading this creature’s freedom for their time. Even now, they questioned it. But there could be no going back. The party ventured on, into the Skycage and towards The Planesbeing.

View
Session XLII: Back to the Scene of the Crime
Chapter 42: Back to the Scene of the Crime

It was a stupid idea.

I told them all, it was a stupid idea, why are we doing this?

“To gain information,” Anatolius said. From whom? The Collector? The minor pawn in Nox’s plan? The “art collector” who was tasked with protecting the petrified “statues” of Random and others? There’s no way this guy knows any more than we do. However, thanks to the self-proclaimed geniuses of the group, we were on our way there.

The Storm granted us safe passage through his territory, which made the trip up less of a pain than it was last time. We were able to arrive in four days on horseback, stopping each day at “nightfall,” if you could call it that based on how dark the daytime is.

We arrived at Hollowfield, the village of the Collector. Immediately, I noticed that there were more police and security personnel present than I had remembered previously. This eclipse has really disturbed the people of Athos Terrarum; they are clearly preparing for the worst. They were checking identification at the front gate. No worries, though, Anatolius was carrying the magic identification papers that would identify us as the Duffelmeyers, again, because someone thought that would be a good idea.

We entered the town and headed straight for the house of the Collector. As we rode through, I felt as if some of the guards were suspicious of us. I could see them looking at us and whispering to each other. We should’ve just turned around there. We dismounted our horses and hitched them close by, as to ensure a quick escape if we needed to make one. The museum looked the same as always, but like the rest of the village, gratuitously stocked with security. As soon as we walked in the front door, a Drow guard recognized us from across the room.

“Hey!” he screamed as he hastily marched across the room. “What the FUCK do you think you’re doing here?”

Suddenly, all eyes were on us. At least two dozen Drow security guards lined the visible area of the museum, as well as the Elder Dragon that slept right in front of us. The museum was full of confused patrons, innocent peasants, tourists from lands probably not so far away. Really though, what did we think we were doing here? It was time to bolt. We didn’t bother saying a word, and high tailed it right out the door.

We sprinted to our horses and hopped right on, taking off for the village gates in full panic mode, the guards behind us in pursuit. As we galloped toward the gates, the guards manning the station stood to block our exit.

“Papers, ladies and gentlemen!” one shouted. Anatolius pulled out the identification papers in haste and handed them over to the guard. As the guard glossed over the papers and inspected their authenticity, the hoard of Drow guards behind us grew closer and closer. Pretty soon, we were out of time. We took off on a full sprint with our steeds, knocking guards out of the way and leaving our papers behind. Dear Anatolius was not happy about this, and he let us know all about it on the four day ride home, which would’ve been lovely if I didn’t have to spend the whole time listening to the hotheaded one explain how hard it is to find magic paper.

After another uneventful ride home, thanks to The Storm, we arrived at Titan’s Hold, ready to depart for Elandir on the next leg of our journey.

View
Session XLI: A Letter From Anatolius
Chapter 41: A Letter From Anatolius

Marik, I charge thee with possession of this letter. This seal establishes your overriding authority as Steward of the Titan’s Hold in my name. Similarly, it bears my will on these eves of departure. It may be my last account so do keep it safe, will you? -Your Brother, Anatolius of Pyramus

We have filled the ship. We leave in five days time. Though, I admit, I know not the day from the night. Such is our fate. I recall the word of Athos. He spoke, the Father of Nox, and said: “Do not fret, Ember-of-mine, it is such that the path to the Inferno is easy. Disean gates lie below unattended. That Black Heart no longer burns quite-so-dark. But for you to breach my door, for you to descend and claim that vacant seat you so desire? Then, to rise up and taste the open air? I should like to see you try.” The Words of Athos.

From then, I have always decided that fate is malleable, if one only grasps it. Though above us the sky is laden with an endless darkness, below, we grasp ourselves and rise. It is this audacity for courage and a divine bravery which empowers us even in these darkest times. If only we can reach out and seize it. We are the children of Athos. We have survived the War of Wars and 6000 years of endless trials. We are, whether we admit it or not, the divine guardians of this earth. We are the consistency that binds together the whole of Athosian life. Though, even this is want for change. I have seen the Shadar-kai of the Andarii. I fought their forefathers, hacked down countless, and even gave favour and assisted in the conflagration of Zaragoza. But I have gone back and seen them. They have so much to offer this world in their aesthetics and culture. We, too, are guardians of them. This planet, this whole system, must survive. Life must survive. It is not without power. It can save itself. And it should be allowed to. This is my everlasting hope in these darkest times.

The Church rallies in the East. The Collector’s hideaway, our sole link to Nox’s physical plan, lies there too amidst snow and ice and rock. That such men have survived this far south is truly astounding. I watched a man bite off his own finger, hard from frostbite, and use it to ice his bourbon. I long for the Spring. For the warm scent of bluebell and hyacinth, and the soft pink rain of petals from the trees in Shinno… We leave for the West. To Elandir and another Urn after this expedition. Lest it prove as I believe it so. I worry for this world. It is being eaten from within. There is rot in Elysium, and it comes from many sores. Vinsanthius has determined with the remainder of the Conclave that they shall remain in the fortress. The fools. The tale of Troicean Ulysses, returned from the War of the Duelling Hearts, lost for 14 years at sea, only to find his home infested with vagabond princes! Not in the Titan’s Hold, I assure you. Their duties shall be assigned. This is not a gang’s hideout, but the last remnants of order on this planet. We must continue to operate a system of intelligence and dominion in the south, lest we lose our position.

Our research has finally been collected. We have loaded it on the ship. I have reflected much and find perhaps that this historicism I have embraced may be more foolish than I supposed. I have grown more in tune with the Asthurisse practiced on Cisplatina. The monks are potent and are reflective to the interior. If this Spirit fuel is within us… perhaps we should look there. I have taken several hermeticist writings from my own collection to potentially attune this investigation. There is something wrong about all of this…

This is all for now. Above us, darkness. Ahead, bleakness. And yet, we shall not allow it to determine our drive and diminish our courage. We are the children of Athos, and we are the Guardians of this earth. An unfair fate from an unfair Father. It seems, then, that all we must do is reach out, and touch fate.

View
Session XL: No Time for Jokes
Chapter 40: No Time for Jokes

An excerpt from the tear stained journal of Simon Bloom

Everyone probably blames themselves for what happened. Manisc was the reason we took the risk, Oberon knew from the start it was a bad idea, and Valenae I’m sure has something to feel responsible for. But none of them are really responsible for what happened, even Anatolius who remembered the vision the Chronotalc gave me can’t be blamed for what happened to Random.

Nox blocked our path along with a small child holding a deva toy. that frightened Manisc, of course we were too busy bickering over the situation to be overly worried. I hope we at least ticked Nox off, I’m sure being ignored is not befitting of someone trying to take over the world. At some point Nox left and trapped us in this massive room; if it seems like I was distracted when this happened that’s because the small child had completely transformed into the most vicious, massive version of the most vicious, massive brother of ours. Behemoth stood as the largest monster I had ever witnessed in 6000 years of living and my intrigue caught my attention more than Nox, more than the trap door that had just been set, more than the hand of Behemoth hurtling towards me. He smashed the castle walls behind me as he pulled me towards him. I took the opportunity presented and let my intrigue take over.

I stared Behemoth through the eyes and right at the Spirit Fuel inside. Nox didn’t fuse Behemoth with Spirit Fuel, he split him in two with Spirit Fuel. The simple, childish side of Behemoth (seriously, where was he hiding that side of him for 6000 years) was spiritually and mentally separated from his brutality (apparently he’s been held back). What we were seeing was the physical manifestation of Behemoth’s pure carnage. The Behemoth we had once imprisoned was not the monster that we now fought, he wasn’t even on the same level. Suddenly I realized that pure carnage was grasping me in a hand that just wrecked a castle wall. For a moment fear took over, but he threw me and as I was hurtling toward the floor I felt relieved; I was going to make sure he didn’t pick me up again.

Anatolius didn’t even give me a moment to stand before he shouted at me. “Simon, the door!” was all I heard from him before I realized what was wrong. The door blocking our path had been used several other times throughout the castle. A stone block sat in the doorway, only one person could lift it open and if anyone helped the stone would retaliate with poisonous gunk, this one though was much larger than any of the previous blocks. I flashbacked to a drug induced vision of Random in his giant mode holding that very block up. His weary face told me to run. I came to my senses just in time to see Anatolius grasped by pure carnage, only instead of being thrown down he was crushed and dropped. He wasn’t getting up and I had forgotten what relief felt like.

Oberon healed Anatolius immediately, but it was obvious we were fighting a losing battle and I did not want to think about that door or my vision; so I did what I’m best at, I stalled. The only thing I could do was keep Behemoth from moving and I immobilized him with the stirling prowess that only someone with the nickname “the Labyrinth” could. I froze him, webbed him, threw sand in his eye, pushed him back into the web, I even tried to crush him, which was predictably beyond me. I unleashed every tactic I knew that could keep him from cornering us, but I wasn’t doing damage at least not enough to make a difference; none of us were.

Each of us had tried to lift the stone, but it was far too big. There was one person who could attain that strength among us and I know because I had seen it done. Behemoth loomed in front of us and desperation in back. I turned to Random and told him that he could lift the stone if he became a giant. He understood immediately and ran to the door. Looking back this moment mattered, but I didn’t get a chance to realize this as Behemoth got a hold. I got distracted and Behemoth did the very thing I planned to not let happen, he grabbed me. I wasn’t thrown this time and instead I felt my entire consciousness squeezed out of me in the most painful way possible.

I woke up seconds later, Oberon had saved my life for the millionth time. Random had grown into a giant and was lifting the massive stone block. Desperation loomed in front of us with Pure Carnage in back. His face weary told me to run. I didn’t have time to think, I didn’t have time to mourn a friend who wasn’t yet dead, so I ran under my brother and out of the reach of Behemoth. We all made it out; Manisc, Oberon, Valenae, Anatolius, and myself, but Random was still holding the block up. Before he could even move Behemoth threw a massive chain around Random’s giant body. Random turned to us and managed to get out, “Don’t worry, I’ll find a way…” before he was dragged back toward pure carnage. The stone plummeted, blocking our path once again and there was nothing we could do.

In that moment everyone blamed themselves, everyone probably still does, but I’m the one who told Random to become a giant and lift the door open. Knowing the vision, I still sent Random to his death. It’s my fault and I’ll never forget that.

There was no time to mourn, no hope of helping him without killing ourselves as well. We ran to the teleportation circles and didn’t look back. I used a bit of my Spirit Fuel to activate the circle when Nox appeared and sucked it up. The bastard does nothing but take from us and I wanted to hurt him for it. I paid attention to him this time hoping to find an opening. Of course he didn’t give us one, but what he said mattered:
“You really thought I would let you escape? I’ve been planning this for thousands of years. Every move is calculated. You think chance brought you together? No. I chose you to be the ones I break, and when you fall the rest will see there is no choice but to surrender. I will take this Realm and I will take the Heavens with the power of the Urns, regardless of what you do them I have been attuned. Darkness will fall, and as the Realm blames you for the chaos, I will take hold of our father’s power. And since it seems Behemoth let you slip away, I’ll have to take care of you myself.”

He drew his sword and I didn’t think about living or dying as much as how good it will feel to immobilize this fucker. Before his blade even left it’s scabbard I fell unconscious. Again I woke up seconds later, but this time by Manisc. All of us, even Nox had been knocked out by something. Manisc was the only one of us left standing.
Nox laid in front of me; I was barely standing, but this was an opportunity I might never get again. A chance to take Nox out would be worth the risk. A chance to get revenge for all of our siblings that were killed at The Conclave, a chance to get revenge for Charzi, a chance to get revenge for all the fucked up shit that I’ve endured, a chance to get revenge for fucking Random! Manisc shook me and said, “Get us out of here!” I was barely conscious and the rest of the party wasn’t even that. Risking even one more sibling was not worth the chance to attack Nox and at best injure him. Maybe if I had the power of Anatolius or the ability to heal everyone like Oberon or even the durability of Valenae I could have done something, but all I can do is stall. I teleported us out of there and straight to the Titan’s Hold.

The next few hours were a blur of mourning. Uruhua had also fallen unconscious just like the rest of us, which means whatever did it was related to Spirit Fuel. We held a meeting of the Demigods, now with twice as many Demigods as before but still one noticeably short. We told them of the successes; the rescue of over twenty of our siblings, the destruction of the Annihilation that left the Conclave in ruins, the fool we made of Nox and his castle. We then told them of the failure, the fate of Random. Nothing could be done, nothing could be said, but we could believe that Random was alive and we’ll never stop.

Manisc offered to build us the greatest armor he could muster with the jars of magical weapons that we stole, but before we could fully discuss the offer one of our guards rushed in. The sun had been eclipsed for the first time since Nox had presumably been defeated in his last battle against Athos. Tired of being weak, tired of holding back, I got serious and opened the magical third eye for the first time in millennia.
Eclipse.jpg

View
Session XXXIX: A Ray of Hope
Chapter 39: A Ray of Hope

Final Chapter of “Random: An Autobiography”

We’ve nearly done it. I’m jotting this down as fast as I can, but I dare to have hope. When we first laid eyes upon our brother’s palace, despair was all I could think of. But now… We are but moments away from escape and I dare to think that we will have victory over Nox.

Once leaving our lost sister Charzi with a proper burial by Anatolius, we rushed downstairs to meet Uruhua with the brothers and sisters we had saved from cells. We met them at outside the archway to the experiment room. We split at first over where to head next. After all, Manisc was still trapped at the forge, hopefully alive. But we also had twenty three of our weakened brothers and sisters with us. After some debate, we decided that no matter what, we had to send our brothers and sisters back. We deemed our best bet to be the teleportation circle.

Each spire in Nox’s Palace has followed a pattern. A large central room with a twin staircase leads to a door, often enchanted with a powerful trap. Behind this door lies a spiral staircase, leading upwards and downwards to the two functioning rooms of the tower. The two rooms that this spire lead to were the teleportation circles… and Nox’s private quarters. But perhaps the strangest thing of all was the door to this staircase. While those in the other rooms had been protected with enchantment, this door was naught but plain wood. We hesitated at first, of course. Yet once we opened the doors we could see why. While the staircase leading downwards was plain and simple, the one leading up towards Nox’s room had an impressive amount of protective enchantments on it. Simon told us that it seemed each individual step had one on it. Looks like Nox at least put some time into protecting his own room.

When we headed downwards into the teleportation circle room, we found two smaller circles that seemed to be linked to what was once the Annihilation. So, of course, we destroyed them. Just in case, after all. The third circle was large, gigantic really and sat in the center of the room. After some investigation, we were able to discover that the circle was powered by Spirit Fuel and would teleport those within the circle to a location that the user focused on. We deemed this safe for use, and sent a message to Uruhua to bring our brothers and sisters down, along with the gnome slaves. She helped them to find us quickly and quietly, and they filled the circle. Uruhua decided to go with them, in case the circle’s teleportation sent them to an unsafe area. We bid them goodbye, and I told our sister Imani Blink I would catch her up on the details soon. Anatolius focused on Titan’s Hold, and pumped Spirit Fuel into the circle. As the energy flowed out of him and into the enchanted circle on the floor, it began to fill with the bright blue energy we had seen so often. A flash, and the twenty four demigods and countless Gnomes disappeared. The five of us were left, and we had to decide what to do next.

“If you choose to press onwards we will surely be destroyed! There is no way Nox is not yet aware of our presence, we must escape immediately!” My brother Oberon’s words spoke true. Indeed, the danger of facing Nox on his own turf was too dangerous to ignore. But we couldn’t leave Manisc. I couldn’t. Thankfully, I didn’t have to stand alone against my brother Oberon. As a collective we agreed to go after him, Nox’s presence be damned. We decided to be a quick and quiet as possible, and then rush back here to escape. With our plan set, we headed towards the spire with the Obstacle Course, Armory and Forge.

Again, the door to the main chamber was plain, although easily explainable now. After all, this is where Nox was planning on his ‘applicants’ coming. When the door opened, we saw the course that he expected his soldiers to accomplish. This was no simple task. Balance beams and ropes, ladders and hanging chains, spikes to avoid and atop it all, a single level to pull. The mechanism would open the door at the top of the room’s circular stairs that wrapped around the chamber. Luckily for us, we were able to avoid this. Oberon’s ability to fly allowed him to quickly circumvent the entirety of the room and pull the lever with no difficulty at all. The door opened, and we stepped into the armory. A plain and empty room, all the space for equipment was not being utilized, but we were able to detect a hidden door. We followed it slowly towards the bellowing of a forge.

Three Shadar-Kai stood in the room, along with Manisc. His body was covered in burns, and as I looked at it I couldn’t help but feel the pain that he must’ve felt. Manisc was always known for his ceaseless pride in his work, and to lose his freedom and his greatest creation at once is a crippling blow that many could not have lived through. When I saw his face, I knew that we had to do whatever could be done to escape with him. Simon Bloom’s new coat made him look quite similar to the doctor we took it from, and he and Anatolius set to a plan. Simon called over a guard with claims of a message from Nox. Anatolius stood by as his ‘minion.’ Thank Father I lived to see this. It took almost more than I had in me to keep from laughing while Bloom mocked Anatolius as if he were so below him. Anatolius’ face burned a hot red trying to keep in his fury. And as I laughed to myself, Mansic locked eyes with Bloom. He leaped up on the forge and bounced off, bringing his chained hands across the neck of the Shadar-Kai next to him in a stranglehold. The two speaking to Anatolius and Simon turned, and were immediately struck in the back by Bloom, and Anatolius seemed to unleash his rage against Bloom’s mockery on the minion before him. The poor guy never had a chance. We met with Manisc, and as we freed him from his chains he informed us of what had been done to him. After being tortured out of his armor, he was forced to create a suit of incredible quality for Nox, for the unknown assassin, and a spiked chain. We let him know of the urgency and began to run out.

I am writing this as we run out from the Forge towards the circle. I fear that my work would lose much of the adrenaline that pumps through my blood if I waiting to write this in my comfortable desk at Titan’s Hold. Victory! We stand but moments away from a completely successful escape from Nox’s Palace, with all of our captured brothers and sisters with us. The Annihilation that destroyed The Conclave has been eliminated, and we stand with a great advantage on our brother. I knew I made the right decision to come along on this particular outing, victory has never tasted so sweet. I can see the door to the large chamber room now. Better leave this journal in Oberon’s knapsack for now, I’ll finish it when I get back.

View

I'm sorry, but we no longer support this web browser. Please upgrade your browser or install Chrome or Firefox to enjoy the full functionality of this site.