Athos: The Return

Session LII: Rebirth
Chapter 52: Rebirth

An excerpt from the newly freed journal of Simon Bloom

“I am the greatest threat to the Storm!” Anatolius said raising his sword signaling the final moment for the Oncoming Storm. From across the battlefield, past Oberon and Valenae, I saw Anatolius’ blue flames thirst for the life of one of Athos’ first creations. Time slowed for all except me and the Storm. Snowflakes stopped in the air, lighting bolts from miles away held their place, the destructive blue flames were bright, but still. Though I’ve never know the Storm to have a solid body or a face, I could tell that he turned to face me.

“Thunder, my herlod, clearly I do not have much time left. Listen to me, you must not let the Urns be destroyed. They will open the doors to Athos just as Nox believes, but nothing good can come from that.” The Storm said to me.

“I need more details! Tell me what you know!” I pleaded.

“I’m sorry Thunder, but I am forbidden to speak on such matters.” The Storm said.

“By Athos?”

“I am forbidden.” The Storm replied.

“Athos be damned!… If you can’t give us information, then call off the Titans, help us!” I asked my master one last time.

“Fuck you.” said the Storm. I guess we’re equals now.

I calmed down for our final moment. “I wish I could say it’s been fun Big Stormy, but…”

“I know. You put your faith in some strong friends, Simon Bloom. Goodbye.” He said with true sincerity.

“Goodbye, The Oncoming Storm.” My last words as Thunder, Herold of the Storm.

Anatolius’s sword sliced through the clouds of thunder, lighting, and all manner of destructive forces, but it was the blue flames that engulfed the Oncoming Storm. They devoured the deity of destruction as if they were conscious of the fact it was the most powerful and primal thing they had consumed yet. The flames died out in an instant and the Oncoming Storm was gone.

A bolt of lightning struck me to my core. I could feel my body absorbing it’s pure electric force as my mind cleared of all control. The Oncoming Storm’s grip on my soul was cleansed in this surge of power, but my body only became more attuned to the forces of thunder and lighting. Rebirth. Simon Bloom died when I was last struck by this force, and now Thunder has died in the very same way. I feel my consciousness slip and I think, “Whoever I am when I awake, I will definitely be strong enough to take responsibility for The Oncoming Storm’s and my actions.”

My eyes open and I see my siblings staring at me. “Don’t Destroy the Urns!” I scream. Big Stormy’s last request ringing in my ears. I tell them of my final conversation with the Storm, while Oberon checks to see if my body is well. I can tell it is; I feel my body and mind are fully connected once again and it’s more wonderful than I realized for the first 3,000 years of my life.

It’s not like I ever had to ask permission to breathe during my time under the Oncoming Storm’s power, but the first breath I take feels freeing. Like it’s the first decision I’ve made for myself in years. Looking into the eyes of Anatolius, Oberon, and Valenae I can see the trust they once held for me resurging; that is when I realized the arc of The Oncoming Storm had come to an end.

I sense it happen before the others see. A planar door opens, one I could never feel before, and the figure of featurelessness appeared in front of us. The Planesbeing spoke:

Hail Demigods. The Oncoming Storm is no more. A debt now lies between us. Ah Builder of the Maze, I believe I have something that belongs to you.

In my mind I feel a door open and memories of our deal with the Planesbeing rush back to me. I look over every event since then in an instant and realize how I have been manipulated. “Fuck!” I yell. “Why didn’t you guys just attack the Storm right then?” Everyone glares at me, but before we can get into an argument the Planesbeing interrupts.

I have no care for demigod squabbles. You have killed my brother as I asked and now I wish to close the debt between us. What is it you desire? No I cannot speak on the Urns, Young Burning Warrior. I am forbidden.

He responds before we finish our thoughts. It’s like listening to a one sided conversation, but knowing what the other side was supposed to say. With my memories of our first meeting so new in my head I immediately notice that Planesbeing is speaking with us much less than last time. He sees the universe so separate from us, it’s difficult to tell if he is focused on a greater issue somewhere else or just wishes to cease talking with us…Thinking with us? The Planesbeing smiles down at me, or at least smiles as much as his lack of a face can. I think I made him laugh. He quickly turns to Oberon though.

Is that what you wish of me, Life Bringer? Shall I thank you for killing my brother by taking you to your siblings fighting the Storm’s Titans?

His names for us seem cryptic, like there are meanings behind them hint at some things even we are not aware of. But we are all too focused on the wish Oberon has thought of to think on our cryptic names. To be honest Oberon’s wish would be truly helpful, but I have no idea how our siblings are fighting now or what the plan was. Being left out of the loop has really put a toll on my understanding of the situation. I also realize that I cannot be the one to make the wish, I did not defeat the Oncoming Storm after all. Not to mention that I have already received a gift from the Planesbeing, I can use the planar doors. A consensus seems to have been made though as the Planesbeing once again speaks before we can even open our mouths.

No, I suppose you wish to use my power for something greater. Perhaps save it for a fight, save it for when you need help killing a sibling. I shall take my leave then. I thank you for taking revenge upon my brother, but I know it is not my thanks you seek.

He turns and I can feel him opening another planar door. To him it’s as easy as opening a door; as closing or opening a memory. Before I can even think of I speak to him:

“Planesbeing, did I absorb the Oncoming Storm?”

He turns his head:
The Oncoming Storm is no more, but you hold the last of his power. You possess the last remnant of my brother.

“Fine, then I will take full responsibility for his actions. I will right his wrongs. I will free the Rippling Earth from the cage the Oncoming Storm’s crimes created.” Anatolius and Valenae looked shocked, unsure of how to respond, but Oberon turned to me.

“I will help you in that quest Simon. Once Nox is defeated.” He sounded please, as if he was talking to his brother again and not a husk without a name.

Planesbeing spoke into our minds once again:
If freeing my brother is what you want to do then I will not hold you back, Stormbeing.

On that name his head turned to me and though featureless, his face was off putting. In an instant he was gone and we began the march towards our siblings. It was wishful thinking to believe that no siblings had been killed, so none of said anything about it. It was obvious when we reached the battlefield. Giant Storm and Frost Titans lay everywhere. It was the largest graveyard I had ever seen, no battle before could have ever taken up so much space with so few troops. It tooks us time to search through the corpses of dead Titans in order to find any fallen demigods. Storm clouds adamantly hung in the sky, like the last signature of a deities actions.

Thanduil, the Star-Maker, 32nd child of Athos; Ywex, The Elf, 72nd child of Athos; Merkis, Raincaller, 29th child of Athos. These three siblings we found dead. No one else was around, no one to tell us how they died or their final moments. The images of their dead bodies will haunt me every time I think on the Storm.

“I can bring them back.” Oberon’s steady voice spoke. “I can bring back the dead, as long as I can reach their souls before they vanish from this world that is. The question is, who should be revived.”

We looked at him with shocked faces. Belief does not enter into this matter, no one has ever been brought back from the dead; it was always assumed that Nox and Nekolaj had simply never died. Trust though, our trust in Oberon, that mattered. There were no questions of how, no questions of when he learned this ability, we trust Oberon.

“Thanduil. He created the Urn Compass, as wrong as it may be to say so he can give us the most help in this war against Nox.” Anatolius said, his voice shook a little. This was a heavy subject to speak of. Valenae and I could only nod our heads. Our voices were lost as if any more words would steal what life was needed to give to Thanduil. Oberon flew over Thanduil, he looked up the the sky. For a moment Oberon’s light was the brightest it had ever been, then it slowly faded. Thunder and lightning blasted to the ground miles and miles away from us; it seemed to be a part of the ritual, a reaction, but none of us are certain of it. Thanduil took his first new breath. Rebirth.

We explained to him what had happened, at least as much as we knew. Oberon didn’t speak much on his new found ability other than that he could not do it twice in one day. Oberon had just done the impossible, he had brought someone back from true death. We marched toward Titan’s Hold, one person more in our line and two bodies carried. The next day Oberon did it again. We chose Ywex this time, for no reason other than a choice needed to be made. The next day we made it to Titan’s Hold. The outside had held up against the Titan’s attack, but the inside had clearly become a battlefield. Vinsanthius hated us. He hated how we had left them to fight the titans alone, how we had let them kill our siblings. He was right though and I plan to take responsibility for it all. Oberon tried to bring Merkis back to life in front of everyone, but it was too late. Too much time had passed and Merkis’ soul must had left our realm completely. We explained how Oberon had brought Thanduil and Ywex back to life, but I don’t think they truly believed us. It was impossible after all.

Five more brothers died in battle and had already been buried. Dyneas, The Fury of Summer, 5th child of Athos. Yalala, The Saviour of the Rock, 25th child of Athos. Ranth, The Laughter, 42nd child of Athos. Broderock, The Iron Chef, 53rd child of Athos. Kraven Solur, The One Man Army, 41st child of Athos. I do not wish to speak on their deaths, especially not of my old friend Kraven Solur. It is just too difficult, but I will take responsibility.

Freedom is sweet, truly. I feel guilty though to feel so free when so many of my siblings had died because of me. For me. Nox’s eclipse was stapled to the sky as it has been for over a year now. I know all of my siblings are looking to the sky tonight and thinking the same thing: “I will stop Nox.” Maybe once he is dead the realm will experience rebirth too.

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Session LI: The Greatest Threat to the Storm
Session 51: The Greatest Threat to the Storm

Excerpted from the journals of Oberon

As we approached the Gates of Sleet, we could clearly see our nemesis, The Oncoming Storm, brooding over his keep, as he was some years ago when we encountered him first. Seemingly blacker and more powerful than ever, Big Stormy awaited us as the next test of our abilities, and hopefully not the last. Most important, however, was reclaiming our Brother Simon from the clutches of his meteorological overlord.

The Storm clearly noticed and recognized us as we drew closer. The thunderclaps became louder, the heat lightning more frequent and powerful. Clearly, this primordial being wasn’t too happy to see us. We heard a voice boom from the dark billowing clouds,

“Frail Sons and Daughters of ”/wikis/athos" class=“wiki-page-link”>Athos, how disappointed I am in you. I have guaranteed you safe passage through my mountains, imbued your Brother with powers beyond any of your comprehension, and even fought alongside you to protect your home. This; this is how you repay me for my kindness? For the lives of my titans? Somehow, I always suspected that you would turn against me. Truly, I should have squashed you when I found you, weak, powerless. Now, I must destroy the monsters I helped create. You will suffer the repercussions of my mistake."

Immediately, we could see Simon Bloom appear before our eyes, right in front of the gate before we stood. We could see him fighting the suggestions of the Storm harder than ever, but it was no use against the dominating grasp of the being. Soon, Simon’s eyes began to roll back into his head. His hair stood on end as he rose up from the ground, seemingly channeling a great amount of electricity. As our brother became completely engulfed in the elemental madness, we could see him mouth two final words – “I’m Sorry.”

Simon began careening lightning and fire all across the battlefield, taking shots mostly at me. Big Stormy had obviously been watching us in combat, he knew how to exploit all of our weaknesses. I was taking shots left and right from Simon and Stormy himself, healing myself and others, expending most of my power early on. We realized quickly that we couldn’t afford to waste more than a couple of minutes taking down the Storm, or else I would run dry and we would be helpless to their double team.

Valenae was able to attract the attention of Stormy while Anatolius, efficient as ever, took shots at him. Since Anatolius was the only one of the three of us who could really cause The Storm some pain, we relied on his abilities heavily. Thankfully, our dearest Brother got some well placed shots on the Storm, and we were able to take him down without having to harm Simon.

Anatolius’s killing blow was a devastating bolt of blue flame, directed straight into the primordial’s viscous core. In a downpour of black rain, the massive clouds of the Storm disintegrated, falling to the ground and becoming one with the earth from which it was created. In an instant, one of the oldest beings in the realm became nothing more than the water that flows through the River Tarvyn.

We knew then, it was finally over.

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Session L: Under the Eye of the Storm
Chapter 50: Under the Eye of the Storm

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

When historians look back on the past, their ability to see both what was intended as well as the outcome desired grants them a unique view. The plot by Anatolius, Oberon, and Valenae to free their brother Simon from the control of The Oncoming Storm is one of the most fascinating to look at from a historical perspective. What they desired, what they got, and the price paid.

Deed the First: Foundation

“By allowing the Storm to think that he is at risk, he will open up his defenses. We convince him that he must attack first, and by sending his army out we will be able to strike. The three of us sneak in, confront him, and destroy him. We must be careful to heed the Planesbeing’s warning, and not allow Simon to fall unconscious during the battle. To do so would mean his life, and likely ours as well. This is how we will save our brother.” Anatolius laid down his plans before his brother and sister. The conversation felt small, quiet. A voice was missing, an opinion unheard. Valenae’s quiet tongue spoke little, she made her acceptance known through nods and gazes. Oberon asked the occasional question, but the bickering the often occurred between the brothers was silent here. Simon Bloom’s salvation was of the utmost importance. “These plans must not stray past the three of us. We shall inform Uruhua as well, and I will tell Marik what he needs to know. Otherwise, speak nothing of this. A single whisper out of place and the Storm’s army will overwhelm us. Everything is on the line.”

The first step was to leave a note. A bag in the snows, with tale of troops moving towards the Storm to strike him down and avenge those killed by his forces. Anatolius wrote the letter himself, careful to change his writing style to hide his telltale flourishes. In the dark of the night, he moved out to leave the bag in the snows. Near the edge of the mountains of the Tartarean Stretch, the demigod laid down the bag in the snow. “And now we wait.”

The next few days were tense. During conversation with the other demigods, those ‘in the know’ were careful of every word. Although they trusted their siblings for the most part, they couldn’t risk Simon hearing what they planned to do. His ears belonged to the Storm, and anything that he heard would be used against them, regardless of Simon’s wishes. Every morning they would check with the scouts to hear if anything had been reported the night before, and when nothing had been heard they spent the day worrying, waiting. On the eighth day, Anatolius called the party together. “Nothing has come of our first step yet. We must try something new. A bag in the snow may not have been enough. We need a dead messenger.” Now, the quiet voices spoke up. “We cannot kill one of our own. These soldier stood by us during the battle and risked their lives. They deserve better than to be killed in their sleep and have their bodies desecrated.” Oberon’s love for mortals was clear here, and Valenae supported him. “We can’t kill somebody here, and we’re not going to take out an innocent.” Anatolius smiled, and spoke to ease his siblings. “We don’t need to kill anything with a soul, we have the power of the Urn of Creation within us. I suggest that I form a being, and that you smother it immediately once I pass out from the action. We can then use that body to hide the note on.” The action was decided upon, and Anatolius focused his energy into his creation. The primordial ooze of Spirit Fuel began to form before the Azure Inferno, and as his eyes rolled up into his head the ooze formed a human male, clad in basic travelling clothes with a satchel slung across his shoulder. Anatolius crumpled to the floor, unconscious. The newly formed man look around for a moment, and was immediately grabbed from behind by Valenae in a choke hold. He resisted for a moment, but was no match for Valenae’s unnatural strength. They had their corpse.

When he awoke, Anatolius hid the letter of troop movements on the body, and set out to hide it in the snow once more. He spoke but once to the corpse, “Somebody better find you.”

Deed the Second: Inception

When they awoke in two days time, they knew their plan had become to succeed. A scout came to the demigods, Simon included, with the letter. “My lords, this was found on a dead messenger near the mountains.” Simon Bloom rose to take the note, and read it aloud. “The Church means to strike the Storm, destroy the mountains and come for us next. They claim that without him, we would be crushed. Surrounded on both side by their forces, this might be right.” Oberon played his part perfectly, and after a moment’s hesitation he spoke. “Gather our siblings.”

The children of Athos met in the throne room. This time, Uruhua spoke aloud to inform the demigods of what they had ‘found.’ A murmur passed quickly through the crowd. “We must stop this.” Vinsanthius stood, and spoke. “We owe much to the Storm, without him and his troops we may not have survived the assault here. It was thanks to him and Riccard Carreon that we stand here now. The Storm is one of ours, we will not stand by and watch him perish.” Now playing his part, Anatolius disagreed. “You don’t know the Storm like we do. You have seen but one side of the coin, while we have seen both. While his actions to protect Titan’s Hold were generous indeed, it does not make him level with us. We should hope that he and the Church destroy each other, so that we are rid of two enemies at once.” Dissent broke out. Most of the demigods sided with Vinsanthius, citing the sacrifices that the Storm had made. Simon Bloom, of course, among them. After much debate, a consensus was made. “We have the movement of these troops. Let us send our armies to meet with Big Stormy’s, and together we can crush their forces before they know what’s hit them.” Simon’s plan was well received, and applause broke out. The Storm made his agreement known through Simon, and they moved to proceed.

Deed the Third: Action

“Marik, I need to speak with you. There’s something I need you to do.” Anatolius pulled him aside, and spoke to his brother with Oberon and Valenae. “Marik, the plan to work with the Storm is folly. The army that he seeks to counter does not exist, it is a fiction created by us. The real threat is the Storm, and we seek to destroy him and free Simon. We need you to pull together the demigods when you arrive at the ‘battlefield’ and let them know everything.” Marik’s confused look said everything. Why the secrecy? Why the lies? Anatolius told him that it was necessary in order to keep the Storm unaware of the plan. Eventually Marik accepted Anatolius’ plan, and agreed to act on it after the two armies merged and reached where the false army should be.

The day came. Through Simon, the Storm was made aware of the troops moving out from Titan’s Hold towards the approaching army. The Oncoming Storm sent his army as well to meet with the army of the demigods. Simon was left in charge of the Storm’s troops within the demigod army, and Anatolius, Oberon, and Valenae took the rear of the army. Uruhua remained behind at Titan’s Hold in order to keep the fortress safe. Once the armies had begun to move, there was no going back. Two days into the travel, Anatolius made his move. “Let’s go.” The three held behind and watched the army move forward without them, then stealthily made their way into the mountains, towards the Gate of Sleet. “We’re going to free you Simon, no matter what.”

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Session XLIX: The Infinite Sea
Chapter 49: The Infinite Sea

A thick, churning smoke mellowly drifted across the ship’s brow, hovering just over the chipped wooden planks where Anatolius looked over at the line of ships around the island. A once ancient temple at the crux of the hill was still burning, bellowing out ash, smoke, and flame such as a volcano, pouring out death in steady streams.

“Ride the waves out to the ship. Meet them in the centre. Ready fire and sword, run parallel until we discern a motive.” Anatolius spoke, looked out onto the salt waves bringing foam high up on the ship’s prow. Below, the shadow of some creature swam below and disappeared under the ship. Simon Bloom looked to the demigod and then sighed, speaking.

“At least flag them first.” The helmsman obeyed and, tossing aside the wheel to his comrade, mounted the rope ladder leading to the crows nest, towering like a monolith in the pale light of the moon still hovering silently above, whispering ephemeral threats in its hallow call. Anatolius heard it often in his head, rattling softly inside his skull.

The signal of the opposing ship brought much joy to the men. The Isle of Bloom still held. Though this worried Anatolius. Thicker than even the smoke, it was the sense of desperation that stayed longest upon his tongue. Trapped, besieged. How long? How many remain? These men, this reformed mercenary army of Corvasian barbarians, pirates, and mercenaries. And here, the planet’s greatest weapons drive by to reclaim their belongings. Or do they yet remain hostages in this newest temper? Caution.

Upon the shore, the faces of homunculi and the Bloom family met the demigods’ tired eyes with an almost somnambulatory gaze. In that moment, Anatolius drew his eyes to the ancestral Bloom and noticed how truly tired his comrade appeared. The sparks in his eyes. Are they even his? What whispers rack his head? Anatolius recalled the sorrowful movements of his brother more and more of late. He looked into the sea more often, holding books open to the same page for hours. His hair stands on end inexplicably and grows still and sharp as steel needles. Mine own brother.

The Family Bloom surrendered with unheard words to Simon Bloom and offered us all that remained. Their pirate army reformed, the situation grew endlessly worse. The Shadar-Kai had spread through and gained enough footholds on the Cisplatinian continent to launch attacks both inland and across the frigid point of Cachaca into the Corvasian. They held the reins on their allies well. Anatolius briefly smiled. It seems, even without gold, their’s something to a Bloom.

On the trip home Anatolius stood on the balcony at the ship’s stern from the Captain’s quarters, awaiting Oberon, Vaelaenae, and Uruhua. When they arrived he turned to them briefly and spoke.

“I think it is time we free our brother.” And returned his eyes onto the rushing ocean.

Oberon looked around and, much to the shock of his brother, whispered. “I think your words have merit.” With that, Valynae and Uruhua looked to their pixie brother and assented.

“I have a plan…”

Anatolius’ words held just a moment, lingering fresh.

Oberon again spoke, much closer to his demeanour, “Well, what’re we in for this time?”

TO Draw out the Storm:

Act 1: A bag in the snow, false movements of an invisible army from the West after the Storm. Spies in the Hold.
When the Storm confronts us through Bloom, he admit to it. Therefore positively confirming him and preparing him for the misdirection. Push him and Bloom closer.
Act 2: A body in the hold, here lies a dead man, upon his body, a note. His planes. Simon finds him first. The plot thickens, army nearly confirmed. The Storm Empties his fortress to prepare for attack.
Herein, the catch. How far need we go to convince the Storm to empty his fortress for us to sweep in and attack from the diversion? How many men? Demigods? Can we reach the citadel without conflict?

Can we save Simon Bloom?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!”

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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.

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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?

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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.

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