Athos: The Return

Session XXXVIII: The Answers We Were Looking For
Chapter 38: The Answers We Were Looking For

Excerpted from the Journals of Oberon

After separating from Uruhua and the rest of our siblings we recovered from the prison cells. We followed the map to the section of the palace labeled “repair room”. Here, unsurprisingly, we found the siege weapon used to destroy The Conclave and capture our siblings. The weapon, although visibly damaged, was a sight to see. Massive in size, the weapon resembled a large catapult, equipped with ballistae and cannons affixed to the sides. There was also clearly plenty of space onboard to transport a huge army. On the siege weapon, there were over two dozen Gnomes, working hard to repair the damage sustained at the attack on The Conclave. Also in the room, there were a couple of Shadar-Kai slavers, ordering the Gnomes around. Dormant in the corner was a construct resembling an elder dragon.

Soon, our fears were confirmed. When we began to attack the Shadar-Kai slavers, the metal dragon came alive and began to attack us alongside the slavers. One of the slavers quickly released two ravens, probably to inform Nox of our presence. Luckily, like the last raven, we were able to swat them down before they made any progress. As the Gnomes trembled on the siege weapon, we engaged the slavers and the dragon in battle. With relative ease, we were able to shut the dragon down, leaving the slavers very vulnerable and easy to defeat.

After freeing the Gnome slaves from their overlords, they were happy to comply with our requests, and gave some of the party a thorough tour of the inside of the siege weapon. I stayed outside with Valenae to keep watch, in case someone were to barge in unexpectedly. Thankfully, I was able to listen in on the tour, thanks to Uruhua’s telepathy. The siege weapon, along with being an excellent instrument of destruction, served as a transport for many soldiers. Thanks to several teleportation circles within the weapon, Nox’s troops were able to travel to and from the weapon from another location.

After leaving the repair room, we reunited with Uruhua and our freed siblings. We brought the Gnomes along with us, at Uruhua’s request. I noticed a small vent in the hallway on the way to the experiment room, and after checking the map, we were able to deduce it might lead to Nox’s throne room. I decided to take the risk and fly up the vent, as I am the most qualified to do such.

Hiding in the vent, I was able to eavesdrop on a conversation between Nox and one of his advisors, Theronis. We learned that Nox doesn’t know the location of the seventh Urn, just like we don’t. This was very encouraging, as it should give us some more time to find it, knowing Nox hasn’t yet. We also heard Theronis deliver the news to Nox that the Church’s forces had lost the battle at Titan’s Hold. Nox was disappointed to hear this, but he was sure that his General, if captured, would not reveal any important secrets. Nox was also shocked to hear the our brother Vinsanthius did not strike allied with the Church. When Theronis informed him that he had been seen allied on our side instead, Nox was furious. We heard how “the Annihilation” needed two weeks of repair, and in a strange moment of kindness Nox chose not to sacrifice half the gnome slaves to save four days. Or perhaps he assumed he would get better use from the by not killing them. Finally, Nox asked Theronis on the position of The Collector. It seems that this strange man who had petrified demigods is also of importance to Nox. I flew back to my siblings with haste when their conversation ended.

Next, we headed to the experimentation room. Here, we found no trace of our sister, Charzi, as we thought we would. However, we did find some interesting items, including several jars of disintegrated magical items, similar to the dust created from our magic items by the rust construct. There was a large, stone dragon statue in the corner of the room. We also found a spiked chain, imbued with magical energy. Shortly after we entered, a Shadar-Kai emerged from another door in the room and noticed us immediately. The Shadar-Kai cast a spell on the dragon statue, releasing several flame dragon spirits. Anatolius, with great haste, was able to jam a spike of domination (found conveniently on a nearby table) into Nox’s minion, killing him very quickly. With the Shadar-Kai defeated, Simon Bloom was easily able to deactivate the statue. With no answers in this room, we continued to our next destination, the torture chambers.

We soon arrived at the torture chambers. Unfortunately, we found some more answers in here. We found the body of Charzi, maimed and dismembered, sprawled on a large wooden hand. On the body of a nearby dead Shadar-Kai, we found a journal, detailing the torture and interrogation of our sister. For 30 days, Charzi refused to talk, but on days 31-36, she gave Nox some of the answers he sought. It is hard to blame her. On day 37 she was accidentally killed by the interrogator. We also found evidence of someone being burned alive. After seeing these sickening sights, I decided I was done looking for answers in this room, and my comrades agreed. It was time to move to the teleportation circles, so we could send the freed prisoners and slaves back to Titan’s Hold.

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Session XXXVII: Assault on the Palace of Everlasting Midnight
Chapter 37: Assault on the Palace of Everlasting Midnight

From a Lost Annal at the End of Time

And so the ancient milky-eyed poet
sat upon the charred oak stool, muttering
tired words, his breath frosting his cloak and voice.
To the crowd, huddled against the wind,
his icy words sang the song once past
of that once fated day! He spoke: O!
That I could but begin to inscribe the tale
of that Fullest of Moons. How hard-footed
Random, once the most foolhardy of all
the serious gods on cracked Corvasa, fell
into darkness! That Great Machine! How
it resolved into vapour by that molten
Anatolian blood! That Vacant face
of lost Charzi immolated by azure
flame and salted tears! Such tragedy!,
though it rings in our hearts more resounding than
joy, I shall not recall! Nor the foolhardiness of gods
with naught but fear in their hearts. Lo, for my tale
shall be of bravery, accomplishment, and true Athosian
Sight! Though I permit, that I myself, am not
soft-made, for that which Father Athos may grant vision,
so too must a toll be paid from the high-holiest-penance.
And with these words,
he turned his head skyward, towards a sunray high above the mountain.
His hallowed eyes retreated and a smile erupted on his face.
The tears froze to his cheek and, harshened by the South wind,
purpled them. His words: No, my hosts.
One does not truly see until he looks within
himself to find that though the prophecies of gods
may weigh upon the soul, such heaviness may always
be alleviated by the courage to deny them and fashion
from your own hands, Fate. And so: The Path of Fire,
trod with the Shadar-Kai doorkeeper’s remains, the war plans
of Nox lain bare, O how they could not have truly known!,
So I tell the tale of the Path of Water to Earth, and the solidification
of immortal courage. At the top of that peak
at the height of those flagstone steps which eroded
under each boot-step and each thund’rous clap of resounding armour,
the gods selected by that most divine chance listened through the sturdy
bars as the enemy dragged their husking chained masses
close to their sides. These were no ordinary chain balls. Their thick
bellies wound well-wrapped in chain, they not only buried into
the flesh, but within that blood-gluttonous bud lay those
radiant beams, sharp as a steel dragon’s maw, that
penetrate like rays from the Sun-killing-Moon in its
thirst for life. Those gods; unafraid. For beyond the
black bars lay their brothers and sisters, [insert number here] in number.
For them they had come across salt, and sand, and oozing tar.
For them it was forfeit to the will of Athos. That, perhaps,
he would look favourably on their considerations
and be Father Athos once more. A pop.
Blinding-moment-of-the-mysterious-transcendence-of-space.
And that beauty, Valenae, rose from the
ripped vortex of golden snow and, of her title,
lured each to their death. Such an insult
was it to deem themselves battle worthy of
that Outlander of the demigods! And as lightning-
bolts from her storm, the gods breached the
bars and charged headlong, into darkness,
into fate, into the misted smoke of the
Second-Tower of the Waning Moon, high above
the oozing tar in the smog of a vacant sky
at the Palace of Everlasting Midnight.
With vigour they struck each foe and laid
bare their intentions. In madness and chaos,
those situations most valuable to a god,
for who has experienced such as those
ever-competing fools, they struck down
the foe to blood. In panic, the foe
scurried to the cages to draw blood.
In heated passion, Random glanced back
at his embattled brethren and sighed.
With lips made soft he turned to Anatolius,
Would-be-Emperor of Nine Hells and Lord-of-the-Azure-Flame,
and mouthed his sorrow. I am Sorry, that wanderer whispered,
his fate rehearsed. Hurled headlong into the darkness
beyond the guards’ post, Random gave chase
and with his stony heart and ice’d tongue
laid curses on the shadar-kai and sealed
their deaths. One strike upon miserable Imani, Mind Shaper,
and with his arcane prowess far-cast Madness,
It’s dazzling eye fixed in everlasting haze.
Deep into the heart of the Nox-borne kainaktehn,
twisted fowl by spiritual fervour ran himself countlessly
from his own path, onto the the divinely-ordained
path of the Demigod. As quick work was made of the
Shadar-kai, the demigods reunited amongst the fowl
ruins of far of nostalgia. Their tears could not wash
away the sickening feeling in each of their hearts
that the scene reeked most of familiarity. O! That
smile shared between most fervent Random and
Imani Blink. Words unspoken, best left so.
The gods keep secrets only Athos might know,
so we know, we known, we’ve known.
When tears quickly dried and latent Anxiety
again crept over their faces, the demigods
did as they always had and pondered. Uruhua, seeing the lengths
to which such discussion might go, asserted herself to protect
their kin, weak and weary from the oppressive beams of
the Sun-killing-Moon. She would lay behind and, like a pantheress
in the heavy jungles of Zanzar, lurk in the shadows
out of sense and light. The demigods:
fair Oberon weary with misery,
Simon Bloom weighted by his desperate choices,
Anatolius maddened by the puzzle before him,
that Random whose filial duty shines through his inner turmoil,
and Valenae thrust into duty by the shades of her past.
But not in motley shambles did they approach that third spire.
The descent into the Earth would rebirth their resolve
and strike that blow much needed, much desired,
into the plans for the everlasting night. For within the
Earth lay that seed which would cast the urn of renewed
Hope. The Annhilation, that vessel of darkness,
like the old war machines of the First Age cast
in new flames. Before them lay that vessel in the
heart of the Palace. Its malice, radiant black against

-Fragment ends-

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Session XXXVI: The Castle of Many Names
Chapter 36: The Castle of Many Names

An excerpt from the journal of Simon Bloom covered in goblin’s blood

Uruhua rose back up after giving a huge chunk of her life force to a single riddle, what riddle has that kind of fail safe? “Oh you can’t solve me? This doesn’t have to be an issue, just carve out your name in blood and pour it over my body.” In my experience this is how evil clones, possession, or the summoning of the truly terrible begins. We didn’t overly pay attention to that problem though as we the door to Nox’s Castle was now open.

In terms of security I feel like Castle von Worst Nightmare was lacking, sure Nox was expecting to hire some soldiers but I was expecting at least a dragon to greet us. A lone goblin sat behind a pile of paperwork, I guess he recognized us as Nox’s siblings since he sent a raven in an attempt to alert the rest of the castle. A single Eldritch Bolt cast by Anatolius did the trick. The goblin and the paperwork stood in our way now. The interrogation process went smoothly enough as the goblin was very willing to tell us the very little that he knew about Castle Uncharacteristically Unguarded. The deciding what to do with him process went characteristically not as smooth. Rare is the opportunity that we can capture someone, interrogate them and then let them live; though it could have proven to be advantageous to take him with us as we explored Anatolius felt differently. Holding the goblin in my hands, Anatolius took him out with a single strike. Being covered in goblin blood should probably have been the least of my worries at that moment, but Athos be damned goblin blood does not come out easily!

We found a basic map of the castle on the goblin’s desk and headed to the prison cells marked as two towers away; leaving the pile of paperwork to keep the rabble of the world from Castle Particularly Unguarded. Apparently most would-be assassin’s were designated to head to the obstacle course to prove their worth, which would mean that that was probably the least booby trapped way to go. We’ve all raided an enemy’s fortress a few times in our lives, we all know the routine, and we all know that the way with traps is most likely the safest route. This may seem hard to believe for beginner adventurers and we were all there at one point in our lives (about 6000 years ago for us), but where there are traps there is bound to be overconfidence.

As I was saying, Traps. Not many surprisingly, which only serves to make Castle Particularly Unguarded a more fitting title, but there were a lot of doors that were designed to slow us down. Terrible, frustrating doors that only manage to crush our spirits. If I’ve learned one thing on this adventure it’s that doors are terrible and I much prefer just moving through walls. I simply looked at one of these doors trying to decipher the magical trap that lay within it and the trap activated. I LOOKED AT IT! I looked at one of Nox’s doors the wrong way and it attacked me. I will subject the rest of my studies to discovering the secret spell that blasts electricity at anyone who gives me the nox eye. I still found out that the door needed to be unlocked magically and physically within a certain amount of time, but by Athos was that a frustrating trap. We came across it again, but I was ready for it. There was another door that we were able to unlock with only our spirit fuel, but the room was nothing special.

A war room should usually have a few interesting pieces; it should be daunting and powerful, but Castle Cooler on the Outside only had a table in its war room. This was a nice table though, a brilliantly crafted three dimensional map of all of Athos made up the table. It would have been a wonderful centerpiece for the library of Titan’s Hold, but Anatolius called it first. Normally I would have guilted him about the goblin’s blood all over my coat, but a table wasn’t going to help that anyway. Of course we couldn’t take a whole table with us, but I doubt a single one of us would forget that was there. We did find a single book with the same three dimensional design, but I took that; it practically belonged in my library!

I’m going to cut to the chase as we avoided most everything else on our way to the prison cells. It was guarded by a handful of deva and contained at least twenty of our brothers and sisters. Rarely do things go our way by this point. How often do we find what we specifically set out for, once maybe twice. All we had to do was to beat these guards quietly and get out. Nothing’s ever that simple though, but something I’ve learned a lot about quite recently is not to plan too far ahead so we devised a plan of attack in a hurried whisper. There I’ve given you young readers two great pieces of adventuring advice in one log and you’d best take it to heart! Or not, it’s not like 6000 years of adventuring has ever made any of us very good at it.

(Bonus Original Annotations)

Excerpt from the scrap of paper Simon Bloom uses to keep track of cool things to say before he gets a chance to write in his journal.

-Anatolius is a dick who kills Goblins for no reason.
-I looked at a door funny and it attacked me, I shoved a lot of blue energy to open another.
-Nox has a pretty sick map-table and map-book, I bet his castle is a pretty sick map-castle.
-We do a lot of whispered arguing before a fight.

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Session XXXV: Death's Door
Chapter 35: Death's Door

Excerpt from “Random: An Autobiography”

I haven’t slept well in weeks. In fact, since we won the fight at Titan’s Hold, I have been uneasy. Although truth be told it has been much longer than that. I was certain that the impending fight against our own brothers and sisters was the cause of my worry, but once the dust settled and we all survived, the fear lingered. Now fueled by my anxiety, I fear that something far worse lays at the edge of our plans. My conclusion is that our brothers and sisters are in dire danger, something we can fix. As we battle onwards towards Nox’s Palace I feel that this is where my fear lies. But I saved my siblings at the Cathedral, and I can help to save even more now.

In the face of this I fight with confidence. We all do. I have expressed my concerns to each of my closest brothers in turn, with responses as I would expect. Battling spirits on the invisible pathway over Kal-man-Raez is the least of my worries. We eventually come to the path’s end, where five colored orbs await us. A set of green, yellow, red, orange and blue spheres floated before us. Five placements for the spheres sat in a line, before a large pass of black tar. A riddle was inscribed on the orbs, one line on each.

Green: A single flame singes the grass
Yellow: Grass is furthest from the sun
Red: Surrounded by the sea
Orange: Twice as far from sea as sun
Blue: Place me last

We spent much time debating their placement. Our first attempt resulted in failure, and with it a blast of energy that knocked us off our feet. The blast left us weaker, and although only slightly so it still worried us. We needed all that we had to face Nox’s Palace. Our second and third tries also resulted in failure, and with each attempt we felt worse. Our sister Uruhua took a new approach, and attempted to communicate through her telepathy with the orbs. Each orb responded deaf, save for the blue. It offered her a trade of strength for knowledge, and after our third failure she accepted. Weakness filled her knees, and for a moment she collapsed. But with confidence in her voice she stood once more. The correct placement of the orbs was shown to her, and as she arranged them Green, Red, Blue, Yellow, and Orange with the placement of the blue orb last, the pit before us changed.

Nox_s_Palace.jpg

I felt a shadow on my back. When Uruhua placed the final orb, weakness and danger sank into our bones, and chills up our spines. Before our eyes, a structure began to appear. As if a curtain were being lifted, Nox’s Palace began to appear in the tar. Slowly from the bottom up, the veil was lifted. The thick black stones it was constructed of seemed to have grown out from the tar, light flickering off the slick stone. A gate forged of black iron sat in the center of the palace, raised and secured. Laid down in front of the gate sat a drawbridge, the tip of which stopped just past the orbs. As my eyes were drawn higher, I could see only a few thin windows, all of which were constructed for military use by bowmen. But above that stood five towers, spiral topped and dark. The palace of Nox stood before us, and we sat to rest before moving onward. I can feel that our brothers and sisters are here. We will save them, we must.

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Session XXXIV: The Shores of Grashnak
Chapter 34: The Shores of Grashnak

Excerpted from the Journals of Oberon

After much bickering and deliberation, it seems as if we had finally come to a conclusion. Against my best wishes, my siblings have decided that we are to travel to our brother Nox’s palace instead of pursuing another urn that we’ve located. As counterproductive as it may seem, I would rather just be alone in my quarters here at Titan’s Hold. After I am done with this business, I am quite looking forward to retiring here and resting for a couple centuries. We have much work to accomplish before I can rest, however. I only wonder if we will live to see it all completed.

The last two years of my life has gone by very quickly. My siblings and I have been constantly on the run, aiming to undo the evils that Nox has brought upon this world. In such important work, there is no rest. Not once in my life have I appreciated a 7 day voyage by sea so much. I took the opportunity to remove myself from my stressors and problems, opting to meditate for much of the voyage. I would need to be calm of mind to venture into Nox’s home. I expect my companions also feel refreshed after a long and uneventful voyage.

Soon enough, we arrived at the shores of Grashnak, a short distance from the supposed location of Nox’s lair. The town at which we docked was small, but conveniently had enough room to dock our large ship. This being my first time in Grashnak in several millennia, I knew nothing about where we landed, but Uruhua had some knowledge about the area, so we had her lead the way. We decided that it would be valuable to pay a visit to the local watering hole to get some information.

Upon entering, I spotted a few suspicious individuals in the corner. Talking quietly in secret, hoods draped over their heads concealing their seemingly non-human faces. Most of the other patrons of the tavern were Orcs, blue collar folks who likely worked for shipping companies based at the port. We approached the bar in order to strike conversation with the bartender.

We learned that those shady characters huddled in the corner were most likely Shadar-Kai servants of Nox, probably taking residence in the barracks of his unholy palace. Uruhua approached them and feigned interest in their cause, convincing them that we’re capable candidates to do some dirty work for Nox. Apparently, Nox was seeking assassins to eliminate some individuals who threaten his global dominance. Ironically, I believe that we are the targets for the assassination we pledged to carry out. We were given special amulets and told to report to the belly of the beast, hidden within the nearby tar pits.

After a short travel by foot, we arrived at the tar pits. In the distance, I could notice several small pillars, and faintly glowing orbs, but the fog of the pits limited our field of view. Our amulets began to emit radiant light once we approached the shore of tar. A faint glowing golden path appeared to hover over the tar, bridging a narrow passageway to the center of the swamp where the palace was seemingly located. Stepping on this path was safe, but it seemed to have awoken some spirits living within the swamp. They came on the offensive almost immediately, but with some amount of haste we were able to knock them back down. As we advanced further on the path, we realized that those were not the only spirits living in the dark pits. It seems Nox has planted a formidable challenge for his prospective assassins.

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Session XXXIII: Never Worry During Parties
Chapter 33: Never Worry During Parties

Excerpt from the infinite whines of Simon Bloom

Those that could stand partied and drank like they had just conquered the world, and those that couldn’t partied and drank a tad wilder. Us demigods though, especially the Sprit Fueled, were barely awake. For the first time in over 6000 years I didn’t feel eternally young. The Party (we demigods, not the uproarious mass of mead) headed to the throne room. We had important things to discuss so I braced myself and grabbed a drink out of the hands of a young pirate. I don’t even know why I joined them, I was kicked out anyway. I hate being kept out of the loop and I doubt Big Stormy even cares about our plans. I got to sleep for a few seconds though, so it wasn’t all bad.

I would be lying if I said I wasn’t interested in what they had decided; it had been unanimous so we headed to the lab. On the way there that unfortunate young pirate was carrying about six mugs of mead; taking my second drink of the night from him I noticed that everyone else had done the same. Things were tense, we were tired, and Chronotalc has a controversial history in our group. I went first and for a second I wondered how I could ever be so enamored by something so painful. I had three visions before I was dragged out. Anatolius then took it upon himself to slam me up against the wall. “Did it see!” he asked. Obviously the Storm saw my visions Anatolius just needed to re-establish his dominance, it had been during the battle since he last hit something and that was a whole five or so hours ago. I spit blood on his arm before speaking; I was injured way more than normal.

My first vision showed Nox in front of a castle at the Tar Pits in Grashnack. The second one showed a monstrous silhouette wearing Deva skin, the floor littered with dead Deva. Someone said “So this is what you’ve been up to.” It was a familiar voice, I think. My third vision had a Deva in elaborate clothing have a sword slam through it’s shoulder, so naturally the freak lifted the sword out while the shoulder grew back. Laughter isn’t what I would call the sound the Deva made though, that sounds too fun and not horrifying.

Anatolius had one vision and walked out of the chronotalc cage; it bothered me more than the slamming. His vision was of course about me. I will supposedly open a portal that summons a horde of armed Deva in the future. Why couldn’t I have a wicked vision like that! Instead I got horrifying monsters, gore and violence, and an ominous castle; I always get nightmares.

I only half paid attention to what they decided next; I only half cared what part of Titan’s Hold we were walking towards, and I only half wanted the third drink I stole from that young pirate on the way there. We had a prisoner apparently, one of Nox’s generals; of course we let Anatolius be in charge of the torturing, the sicko did design the torture chambers after all. Let me say, that what Anatolius did to the general was so creative and unpredictable that it was just like another nightmarish vision. “Spin him” was the only command he gave to the torturer we hired. I’m dizzy just writing it down; it’s too bad we didn’t learn much that the letter from Nox that we found on him didn’t already tell us. Before leaving, Anatolius told the torturer to keep spinning the general. Death might have been more humane actually.

I excused myself, told the party some bullshit about studying portals in my library. I found that young pirate and had him bring me a couple more drinks. Tired, drunk, and a little worried that these wild pirates would do more damage to Titan’s Hold with their party than the army that invaded early that day I couldn’t concentrate at our last meeting. Grashnack was our next destination. Nox had more demigods in his castle. The meeting was over, everyone went to bed, but I was tired and drunk and joined the party.

The young pirate actually approached me without a drink for me to take. He told me my Thunder Titans were a great help during the battle. He started a cheer for myself and the titans; tossing me into the air the cheer shortened to a simple name, “Thunder!” If any of the party had been awake I’m sure it would have bothered them immensely. I tried not to joke about it the next morning when we headed to Grashnack, tired and hungover.

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Session XXXII: That it Be Forgotten, Our Sins
Chapter 32: That it Be Forgotten, Our Sins

Anatolius had trouble counting. The formation was incalcuable. Ships creased the sea in long spotted lines, texturing the tiny panorama found between the crenellations of the Ice Gate. The curtain wall would fall. It was decided.

The insult held in his throat and he rapidly descended the uneven steps into the gate house. Men sped by with long hewn trees. One, held by ten running with great speed, was suddenly gripped by the air and carried across a small length of the gatehouse into the iron portcullis. It reverberated silently behind the clatter and curses. Brittle icicles rained down on the heads of the men by the gate who had dived from the path of the speeding barricade. The wind ripped through the gatehouse and swept every voice through the whistling cracks in the ice and into the open air. Anatolius, beheld, looked to where the icicles had formed and walked headlong into the wind towards the army forming in the court.

The image of the ship returned to Anatolius. Uruhua, having seen it herself, had transmitted it. In the dire need of battle, she had entered a meditative trance deep within the Vault beyond the labyrinth. In her vulnerability, however, she formed a flowing river of sense and thought that deposited in each of her brothers and sisters in arms.

When he entered it, the Cathedral was empty. The statue of Athos behind the marble alter beheld Anatolius, and stared blankly through.

Anatolius walked to the alter and, in the ancient way, prayed. On the alter he placed a stone goblet of snow, the feather of a kingfisher, and in a simple porcelain bowl poured clearwater. Anatolius then took a flower of nightshade and burned it with a snap sending a bitter smoke into the room. The heaviness of the room bore on Anatolius and he looked into his father’s hardened eyes. Finding no tears, no divinity, Anatolius bowed his head, and spoke:

“Man did not know war until it came to him on seraphs wing. The kings of Sysitar were but guardians by tradition. None ascended by ways of blood or bronze. Then came man turned against his brother and precedent, in black attire, formally presented. So long. And now how many? How many more? This cycle will repeat itself. And all that will be remembered are its falsities. But I will see to it that no one writes this story. That no epic is cast in its name. Should we win, our discretion will be buried. And all that will be left are loglines. We will award, as it is custom to. And those will be remembered. But no more. I have neither the wings nor the strength to carry men to heaven any longer. So I ask you, Father, Athos Athorum, let this battle fade. Let this war never be recalled. Let all of the planet sleep and forget. This was never meant to be. The age of the Demigod ended millennia ago. The age of Athos, still further. Let us forget, just once, the squabbles of petty gods. Athos be Damned, we shall bear this alone.”

Anatolius left the room silently and crossed from the cathedral into the Great Hall. The hewn rock columns towered over the demigod, their shadows swallowing his footsteps. Their unfinished, jagged edges cast hard lines across Anatolius’ face as he swept into the western wing and down. A short hallway. Nondescript; as they had asked. The path wound in all direction. The smooth stone hallway slowly tightening around him, Anatolius finally reached the point where the torches ceased to burn and, adjusting his eyes, caught a feint blue glow. He walked without fear into the darkness. It swallowed him and he heard the sounds of all the dead brothers and sisters, pleading for time. Just more time. The feint blue glow upon him at last he run his nail along the rune. The character ran red where he marked it, forming the first symbol for Athos in the Most Ancient Words. Completed, the rock shook violently, and falling upon itself, ground into the rocks beside to form a smooth arch into Bloom’s laboratory. He looked to the glass chamber at the centre and considered a minute if he had been too hasty with his last words to Father.

Anatolius crossed towards his siblings and met their hushed faces with a smile. “I think today, we will win.”

From Anatolius’ Journal

More visions from the Chronotalc. Each more dire than the last. But the last in this-. I worry. For these ones I worry.

- I saw a gorgeously crafted suit of armor, as beautiful as functional. I recognize it as the impenetrable armor of Manisc, Divine Smith. Flames cover the suit and lick the walls, and I could hear the loud scream of the dwarf.

Where? Somewhere. It must…

-Next I saw a swarm of ships, each mightier than the one before it. Thousands of men and elves commanding them, and a black flag is raised above the ship.

This will be most bloody.

-Simon’s vision worried me. He spoke of Random standing before him, with stress on his face and his body towering over Simon’s own. A huge stone block weighing on his back in an archway. He looked Simon dead in the eyes and screamed at him,“Run!”

We will not lose him. We can not.

The Battle of Titan’s Hold

In their Name, So that They Be Known, However Briefly

The Demigod, Lord Ricard Carreon- For valour in Battle. So it is observed, The Proud Son, when hope had much faded, grasped the Storm soldiers bequeathed by Simon Bloom and spun their power into such a typhoon that the forces of Nox were Once Repelled.

The Titan Positron- For Sacrifice

The Titan Neutraeon- For Sacrifice

Harker Bloom- For valour and leadership. For the gift of Victory in his command of his family and all Mercenary forces, responsible for Success in The First and Second Battles at The Bay of the Titan.

Legion X- For Bravery and Sacrifice. When the Curtain Gate Fell, to those who remained and perished.

To Random- For Master Dragon Skills. For his magnificent harassment of Enemy combatants.

His Kingship of Sysitar, Divine Healer, Oberon. For his accomplishment that all Divinities survived the onslaught.

For Tak and Dak. For Superior Defence and Bravery. For their persistent defence in the retreat to the second wall.

Uruhua. For Logistical Genius. For the incredible mastery of warfare and battlecraft communications.

Legions Psi, Omega, Epsilon, Delta for Master War Wizardry. For their tremendous decimation of enemy forces at the Second Wall.

To Vinsanthius. For True Athosian Merit. For his repentance and courage in the face of Revelation. For his true devotion to his brothers and sisters in assembling for the defence of The Realm of Athos. May he be Praised.

To the Family Bloom. For True Athosian Divinity. For their mobilising the greatest force of Mercenaries across the known Realm. For their economic brotherhood. And for their sacrifice in blood. May they be honoured as the most divine family in all Athos present.

To the Titan’s Hold. For vigilance. That though battle raged, our stomachs were full and our bodies cared for.

To the VII and VIII Legions. For Sacrifice. In the initial Sortie, for striking fear into the hearts of the enemy. Your sacrifice shall be recalled.

To the Citizen’s Legion. For the Valiant defence of the Western Borough. Your Sacrifice shall be interned.


Add Things you think, in this style are necessary reminders

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Session XXXI: Deliverance
Chapter 31: Deliverance

Excerpt from “Random: An Autobiography”

Now this is where it gets good. There they were, my own kin, following the strange rituals required to become an Archknight of The Church of Athos Dominus. After they told me what happened, really I think it was all just excessive. But I’ll leave the good part to the end, first let me explain what I was doing during their time in the Cathedral.

My brother Marik and I spent this time at the construction of our stronghold. Ensuring the proper use of materials and that everyone spent their time working. We received reports of strange storms brewing over the The Elysian Mountains and a complete stop of merchants travelling through them. Reports also included tales of a monstrous dragon flying over the land, resting in the mountain caves. Confident that we could deal with the dragon problem, Marik and I headed out to see what we could find. Any dragon we could find should be no problem for a powerful combination such as ourselves.

We spent several weeks exploring the local caves, with no luck. Locals in small towns told us tales of a monstrous beast flying across the ground leaving havoc in its wake, but we could find no trail of destruction nor learn of any specific deaths the dragon had caused. After over a month of a fruitless searching, we finally came upon charred cattle, killed from local livestock. A dragon’s fire had done this, no mistaking it. With this clue, we quickly located the only cave nearby that could house such a beast. We went during the day, blades in our hands and our eyes and ears alert for any sign of danger. Quite understandably, after a few moments of this I became bored and began to shout. “If there’s a dragon in here, come on out and let us get this over with!” Marik smacked me in the back of the head for the comment, but when we heard the footsteps of what could only be the dragon, it proved my tactics were quite good. We moved towards the sound, ready for battle. A sharp breath, and for a moment I felt my own mortality. Death for a demigod is not a rare instance as it once was, and I remembered my fallen brothers and those gone missing. To be slaughtered in their own home… An atrocity we would not allow Nox to get away with.

Before I could focus once more, I heard an voice that could only belong to a dragon’s tongue. “This could not be random.” It came from behind us, and we spun around to see a large creature, silhouetted in the cave. Two large dragon feet stepped forward, green scales covering the creature’s feet. He echoed his former comment, but this time there was unmistakable glee in his voice. “This could not be Random!” The dragon stepped forward into the light of our torches, and I calmed Marik. For the dragon before us was none other than Gorbash! He and I ran and embraced, much to Marik’s confusion until I filled him in. Together, the three of us left the cave and returned to the stronghold, with Gorbash explaining his story on the way.

You see, after our brother Vondal was captured by Vinsanthius, Gorbash flew off. My petrified body was left where Gorbash had last seen The Party, and he left to find his brothers and inform them of what had occurred. He spent many months trying to locate them, and eventually became disillusioned with his tracking abilities and settled in the mountain caves of The Frozen Coast. During his time, he did his best to learn the location of the demigods, as he had sworn a hundred years of servitude. However, since he lacked the ability to speak in the common tongue, he spent months flying above the cities of man and learning how to speak their language. He lived off of wild creatures of the land as well as rarely turning to cattle when hunting became too sparse. Finally after many months, Marik and I met him in his cave and we returned to the stronghold.

Now, I apologize for my lengthy explanation of my own adventures during this time. But to be fair, I think they were more exciting. That twist at the end? Masterful. Anyway, back to my brothers and sister in the Cathedral. Having just defeated the challenge of the spiders, they moved deeper down the cathedral’s chambers. Each set of stairs seemed longer than the last, bringing them far beneath the city above. As they descended onto the third trial, the party was filled with confidence. And on the third level, another puzzle faced them. Three specters stood in the room before them, A knight stood in one corner, his armor dented and rusted, but in his eyes his spirit still shined through. A beautiful maiden stood in a second corner, her long blonde hair flowing down past her lower back. Her green dress matched her eyes, filled with sorrow from deeds long past. And in the third corner stood a great bear, with blood sticking his hair in patches around his body and ferocity in his face. After some discussion with the knight and the maiden as well as Oberon using his instinctive Pixie nature to speak with the bear. It became clear that if left alone together, the knight would kill the bear, and the bear would do likewise to the maiden. The Padros appeared and told them that with seven moves, they needed to bring all three to the final door. With some quick thinking, the party was easily able to surpass the third challenge of the Padros. Onward they moved, down further into the Cathedral.

In the fourth room, a great golem stood. The creature’s stone body stood still, with a glowing key floating in the center of his chest in a great gap. The golem braced itself behind its great claymore, and spoke a riddle to the party. “You have but one word to solve. I have a riddle. Greater than Athos, Nox’s failure. This controls the luck of the dice and weakens slavers. A gnome’s love and fear, inside lies a ring. Do you know the answer to my riddle?” My brothers and sister stood stumped. They took a seat and began to discuss the possibilities. Freedom was mentioned as a possibility, as well as death. However, after quite some time, Simon Bloom’s eyes lit up. “Of course! It’s so obvious!” Standing before the golem, Simon spoke his answer. “Yes.” The golem clutched his claymore in one hand, and forced his other arm through his chest, removing the key and dropping it before Simon. With this last act, he collapsed and the party moved evermore forwards, descending deeper into the tasks of the Archknights.

Their fifth task was their most complex. I remember that this moment stuck out in my brother Anatolius’ mind. His fury lasted for weeks afterwards. In the fifth chamber stood an elderly man in the gear of an Archknight, a long white beard growing down from his face. A pile of nails and screws covered in rust sat in one pile, and a well with a small bucket a few steps away and a pile of sand sitting by its own end. The man approached the party, “You must be archknights like myself. I have been lost in this mad tunnel for so long, I can no longer keep track of time. Please help me. In order to pass, we must separate all the screws from the nails, drain the well of water using only this small bucket, and move the pile of sand grain by grain across the room. In this way, together we will pass on to the final two challenges.” With looks of disdain in their eyes, the party slowly set themselves to these menial tasks. Time ticked by, with barely any progress being made. After some time wasted, tempers flared. My brother Anatolius’ temper got the best of him, and he attacked the Archknight. Empowered by their attempts to triumph at his tasks, the Archknight took the form of a ferocious beast, and a great battle ensued. Fueled with fury and fervor, the once Archknight stood no chance, and was quickly eliminated. Two chambers remained, and each seemed to pose a greater challenge than the last.

In the sixth chamber down, three statues of great devils stood. The Padros’ illusion appeared once more, telling my siblings that this room was designed to test an Archknight’s capabilities to battle devils should they ever arise on the Realm of Athos. With that he disappeared, and a devil stepped forth from each of the statues. As every minute passed, another devil would step forward from the statues. When their spawn was slain, the statues became vulnerable and eventually were destroyed. In this way the sixth challenge fell to my brethern. And only one more barrier stood between them and the power source below them, their hopes of finding the fourth of The Great Urns grew stronger every minute. They descended down the final flight of stairs, ready for anything.

The final descent was the longest. At least three stories worth of stairs if not more. By now, the party reckoned they were deep below the Realm of Athos. When they reached the final room at last, three doors faced them rather than one. The illusion of the Padros appeared once more and spoke to them. “Enter through the center door, and Athos awaits you,” And with that, he faded away. The three doors slowly opened themselves, with distinct rooms behind them. The door further to the left held a horde of treasure. Piles of gold coins laid amist gems and armor glowing with enchantment. The door to the far right was filled with men and women in a variety of seductive clothing, and quite a few without. Each with a body that would drive a mortal wild, they stood beckoning to the party. And within the center door, spinning blades. Five layers, each spread just over a foot away from one another. “What is this? What does the Padros want from us?” Anatolius was furious. How could they have come so far just to have the illusion of the leader of a false religion tell them to kill themselves? If it was going to happen, it would not be at the whim of such a lowly thing, Debate ensued. What could this be? Had they failed the past trick of the Archknight and were being punished with death? The Padros’ words of ‘Athos awaits’ were just as likely to mean in death as anything else. But as time wound onwards, my brother Oberon showed his faith in our father. “I will attempt to sneak beneath the blades, I am easily small enough to do so. When I return, I’ll let you know what lays behind this cursed door.” And with that, Oberon flew to the door and landed, and began his slow crawl beneath the blades. Hearts began to beat faster and faster, and a were met by a cry of anguish. Just a few inches within the door, great flames erupted, engulfing the small Pixie body of Oberon. The flames raged, and when they settled nothing but the spinning blades remained, the body of Oberon far out of sight.

Despair. Disbelief. Taken from them before their own eyes, Oberon’s light was extinguished. That Oberon could be lost so easily, unbearable. The party discussed what could have happened to him, that our brother has been lost. Simon Bloom took the next step. “Whatever happened to Oberon, I will seek to test these blades and flames. Powerful magic is all over this Cathedral, maybe this is nothing more.” And with that, my brother Simon reached his hand towards the blades, attempting to get a sense of them. Anatolius’ eyes flashed, for as Simon’s finger reached out for the serrated blade it caught, and his entire body was pulled in. Blood and flesh splattered across the room, chunks of body hitting Anatolius and Valenae. “That’s it! Athos be damned, I have no other choice.” And with that, Anatolius walked through the blades, and Valenae shortly after. As his eyes met the blades head on, Anatolius felt his body being pulled forwards, and stumbled for a moment, as he fell through the illusionary blades. On the other side sat Oberon and Simon, patiently having been waiting. “It seems this was an illusion. One last test of faith for the would-be Archknights.” Anatolius nodded, his eyes understanding. “And so this last door is what awaits us.” Past the hallway where they sat stood a final door. Engraved was the marking of The Great Urns, seen before on the floor of Golagoraraxx. The party gathered themselves and prepared, and pulled open the door to reveal the great secret of The Church of Athos Dominus.
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No one could have been prepared for what came next. With the door pulled open, the party moved forward into a large square room. The walls shined a solid white marble, gleaming. But more than anything was the center of the room. No really, I do mean more than anything. Because in the center of the room was our father, Athos. The Creator of All, the One God. And they felt his presence, raw power that hadn’t been sensed in over six millennia. If I had been there I could hope that I would’ve seen him for what he was, but truth be told not even our Athosian brother Oberon could tell, and he knew our father better than I could. Stunned silence filled the room, and behind them the door faded away into nothingness, and they were left with nothing but our Father before them. “Hello again my children.” Oberon spoke first, “Father, what are you doing here? I don’t understand.” Our Father then made his aspirations quite clear. It seemed that his choice of Nox was a test, for the true ‘chosen one’ to rise to the challenge. Athos made it seem like Nox’s Reckoning was supposed to be stopped by one of us! That we should’ve known what was going to happen and stopped him. Athos called us all failures for our inability to stop our brother Nox. In a fiery rage, Oberon lashed out. Six thousand years without our father hurt him, he was the most devoted of all of us. Athos’ words cut him deep, and he spoke in a manner that I have never heard of from him before. His words blasphemous, he accused our Father of causing everything. “If we were supposed to defeat him why didn’t you tell us? You chose him and granted him a power we couldn’t hope to challenge. You cannot possibly think this our fault!” My brother’s words raged against our Father, and before he could say more, an unlikely addition stepped on to the scene. Vinsanthius. Our traitorous brother who declared war on us and revoked his divinity in the eyes of The Church. He stepped forward with his head bowed, unaware he was not alone. “Father, I have done as you asked. What is it you require next?” He looked up, and clearly was shocked by who he saw before him. The Party ignored Athos for a moment and moved their interrogation to Vinsanthius. What was he doing here? Why did he not reveal this secret if he had known before? How dare he believe this to be our father! As the party spoke with our brother, Athos spoke several injections but was abruptly shouted at by Oberon at every turn. Between chokes of anger, Oberon found the reason in Vinsanthius’ heart. “This could not be our Father. He was so much greater than this.” And Vinsanthius nodded. Without missing a beat, the second best humored of us all Simon Bloom, The Not-As-Good-At-Jokes-As-Random burst forward. “So long then Father. Let’s see how you like this.” A blast of dagger hurled forward at our Father, who raised his hand in protest. The daggers passed through and Athos’ image shattered as if it were on a breaking mirror. And in his place, stood a large Urn. The fourth seen by us, the Urn of Deception.

It pleaded with them for a few moments, called itself an Urn of Truth, but its ploy had already been defeated. They began to test it, to see what knowledge could be drawn. It pleaded with them, but when our brother Simon summoned Spirit Fuel before him, the Urn lashed out at it. The spark from Simon’s hands collided violently with the Urn, and the power of the Urn began to teeter on detonation. Our brother Simon spoke with haste, “Look. I can guess the answer already but Big Stormy can stop this. If I can promise your compliance in saving his two brothers, he will stop the Urn’s explosion and save the lives of all those in this city. I don’t know if we have another choice.” Anatolius spoke up next, “There is always a choice. Tell that damned storm that we can solve this on our own.” Quickly, a plan was forged to contain the power the Urn was about to unleash. Surrounding the Urn on all sides, my siblings held their hands against the Urn, bracing for its explosion. Vinsanthius stood with them as well, although he had no Spirit Fuel with which to enhance himself. And with one burst of energy, the Urn erupted and the party fell unconscious.

When they awoke, several things had changed. First, the once glorious marble room they stood in before was now pitch black stone. Once Oberon’s light illuminated the room, it was clear that Vinsanthius was no longer the same man he had been. The pulse of Spirit Fuel now pumped through his veins, and although his power did not equate ours, it was equal to how we began after the Urn of Power. Once reoriented, they began to leave from the depths of the Cathedral. Yet after one flight of stairs, they emerged to the basement. A second set of stairs brought them to what was once the Cathedral Proper,
yet now was much more bleak. Rather than lavish tapestries and works of art, the Cathedral was now an empty stone carcass, like a giant cave. As they walked outside, it became clear that the Urn had projected an illusion above the Cathedral for thousands of years, and was responsible for all of its lavishes. Yet the city outside remained unchanged, except for the myriad of Wanted posters with our faces on them. Each promised the huge reward the Padros had mentioned. And there they were, in the center of a city seeking them to no end. At first a few looks, then many. It seemed clear that the city was ready to overtake them and claim the reward.

But thankfully, this is where I come in. On the back of Gorbash I rode, with deliverance in my stride. We landed in the town square. “Come on then. What are you waiting for?” I shouted to my brothers and sister who gracefully thanked me and joined Gorbash and I. As we flew off into the sunset, they shared their stories with me and I did so with mine. Uncertainty lingered however, if Vinsanthius stands with us now, then what will happen on the 9th of Pix? Could Golagoraraxx have been mistaken? Or had we misinterpreted his words? Regardless we rode, and they set their eyes for the first time upon our new home, Titan’s Hold.

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Session XXX: Bordering on Paranoid
Chapter 30: Bordering on Paranoid

Excerpt from the ramblings of a once mentally healthy Simon Bloom

I hate this city. How many bad things can happen before we end up leaving it a smoldering pile of ashes? That would probably be easier, and considering the circumstances may be inevitable. What with Vinsanthius converting above us and there being a pretty good chance an Urn is below us, it’s difficult to imagine any other outcomes. But we came all the way here and there’s no way I’m turning back now. There’s only one other gate leading down, and for some reason the key is right there staring me down. No magic, no traps; just a door and a key. It took us ten minutes to open that gate. We lead pretty strange lives so excuse our suspicions when things are too easy.

Fun Fact #1: Arch-Knights are given their position by completing 7 trials of strength and wit and then absorbing the nigh incomprehensible power of a piece of pottery quite likely as old as our plane itself.

Fun Fact #2: This all takes place under a church with one door.

Fun Fact #3: Fun Fact #2 may not be true if we have to blast our way out of here.

Oh right, I should mention that our source is an illusion of the Padros that appears in the room under that suspicious gate. Our suspicions were still not vanquished though; by our usual standards this still appears too easy. We have a quantifiable amount of challenges that are designed to be difficult for mortals, and the reward is something we’re all already half way to mastering. Is Nox laughing in a closet at the end? Will he jump out and say, “I can’t believe you guys fell for that!” Big Stormy would never let me live that one down, would you? Well that was rude. Sorry this mental connection thing is really difficult to deal with.

Anyway, the first trial was the silly, old riddle of the doors behind the honest man and the liar. One can only tell the truth, the other can only tell lies and each have a door behind them, of which one is the correct door. Literally so silly and so old that I could not for the life of me, which is immortal, remember. Lucky Anatolius was able to figure it out. You ask which door the other would point to and go into the opposite. I’m not going to bother explain why because it’s silly and old.

So that was one trial over and it was relatively easy. We didn’t have to kill anything so I’m going to chalk that up to the best experience I have had in the last 14 or so days. Of course the next trial wasn’t so peaceful. Thankfully we had to fight giant spiders; I doubt anyone would hate us for that “crime.”

That went as expected. Violence, poison, some great show of power by yours truly. We came, we saw, we moved on rather quickly. If the rest of the trials to the Urn are this easy, then we will begin to border on paranoid.

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Session XXIX: Facilis Descensus
Chapter 29: Facilis Descensus

Anatolius awoke. Dust danced in the light that stretched across the wall against the bed floating from shadow to shadow. They sparkled and flew like comets, constructing vast nebulae out of dust and skin and decay. The room smelled of sweat and metal. Anatolius wet his cracked lips and closed his eyes. One more moment.

Anatolius, his feet sticking with each step against the floor, strode stiffly to the small black sack heaped against the corner of the room and reached inward. He felt around and gripped his hand tightly around soft fabric and thrust it from the bag. With an almost cursory wave it emanated smells of baking bread, frying bacon, and a citrus so pungent Anatolius wondered whether the mechanism had birthed an entire lemon grove. Rather, a pot of lemon tea graced the centre of the table, the water clashing like spears against the iron kettle. A feast.

The party descended upon the food, ate, and debated. The meal was tasteless, the company unpleasant, and the talk heated. Anatolius stared out the window. Below a woman sang the Fall of Prythi, “Bones and Bones breed flowers at dawn, though all of the keepers are gone are gone.” Anatolius recalled Trexterios’ account of Prythi. When the pixies fell from the sky, it was ‘as if the sky cried blood.’ Trexterios, supposedly the last seer to leave Sysitar, said that he stepped through crunching fields of bodies that had be eroded against the ground by the feet of frightened giants.

“It is decided.” Oberon said gruffly, his eyes only staring at his crumb. And so it was. Their failure- my failure- would cost us the riskier path. Through the enemy. Into the heart of the Holy Ward and a den of the five-fingered lions. The only hope was luck. Disguise was futile, but our ending choice. We donned minor covers and took to the paved streets of Old Vulturnus and towards the Cathedral. Dufflmyer no more.

Time Passes.

And Passes.

Time means nothing to the immortal, but Anatolius felt mortal. And it terrified him. Once, perhaps, Anatolius envied the fleeting. He valued death. The short life.

This life. Watching people die. Making people die. That wasn’t death. No, Anatolius thought, it is only elongated suicide.

At the Cathedral, we concealed our repertoire of mythos that hung from each of us like jewels from a whore. Each was a tale and each had been told to death. Perhaps the two were not so unlike.

Within, we took our seats and watched with bated eyes towards the ends of the sepulchre where marbled stairs led into darkness, obscured by the holiest blackness of Athos. From it, as if breeding taint, rose Vinsanthius, The Defiled Blade. Chosen to fall, he never quite hit the ground.

In haste, as the hall lay full, Anatolius and Valynae had followed Simon Bloom and Oberon who had pushed ahead to a closer row. Anatolius saw each mark on his worn face. Anatolius wondered if Vinsantius too felt the weight of age and war. Perhaps the Earth made raw was not what he desired. His eyes looked out onto the audience and, with the assurance he was always graced to have, lifted his hands over the crowd and gave himself to the lions of his own will. Each word he spoke was like shedding meat. Behind him, the Padros smiled with the teeth of a glutton. The Athori too licked from the blood that dribbled through the air. They lions gobbled down and choked up the tender speech in wanton voracious feasting.

In his speech he had conceded our power to them. By decree we were made Enemies of Athos, the Conclave was dissolved, and in a moment the Demigods were no more. A once powerful title, rendered sullied by its own feet. Anatolius stared blankly into Vinsanthius’ eyes. He would not break them. When he finished, he, the Padros, and the Athori filed out of the room into the right wing of the Cathedral. And down. Down

The demigods looked at each other in the pew. Descend it was. They peered into the darkness and in the general egress made their way across the marble floors textured with open hands ready to clench. The demigod was many things in the stories and tales of mortals. One of Anatolius’ favourites was when they were “like spectres,” appearing and disappearing into the lives of heroes and heroines at a word. Hard to live up to, but not impossible. A stair case would be nothing. And they descended.

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