Athos: The Return

Session LXXXII: The Roots of the Earth
Chapter 82: The Roots of the Earth

Standing above his Brother’s eyes, hemorrhaged and blank. Black eyes. Like a shark’s eyes. Dead eyes. Slowly lifting his palm he recited calm words.

“In Naxos/

It is said/

That my mother bakes the softest bread/

That my heart could rise like yeast/

Yet here lay I/

Am I to die?/

Before I slay this beast?”

Then, Dancing from the darkness fire poured like molten sapphires upon the gently sleeping corpse. Slowly engulfed, Behemoth fizzled and disappeared.

Now rested, Simon turned inwards. Towards the power of True Radiance. What truths could it hold? More power? Concealed from us? The truest secret?

The diagram Anatolius drew certainly drew out its basest elements. Oberon’s inscription was crude, but functional. But, he thought, perhaps there is more… Twisting the curves. Adding iso-linear subscription curves and trans-functional lunar waveforms, this deep magic etched into the circle pulled from every text known and unknown. Theory and practice in active unison. Cracking each maze of complex algorithm, mapping the lines to web together the raw magics. This was True Radiance.

What more could be unlocked?
--

Broken from his daydream, Simon reared.

A shattering, as if a great structure of glass collapsed endlessly, sending pylons and domes hurling across stones into constantly diminutive eruptions of fragmented hail, echoed through the chamber.

“Like a barrier between worlds… sundered.” Simon said with shrunken eyes, made weary.
Anatolius looked to Simon, noticing his shaking hands, and asked then, “How do you know this.”

“Come now, It is my lot in life to pass through such things. Though this one is broken. It is an unwise passage to the other side. But I admire guile.”

“Not now.” Commanded Oberon. “Your hands, brother, what is it.”

“It is most beautiful. I think I’ve done it now. It’s the Wheel of things. True Radiance. It is no Anti-Spirit fuel. It is no magician’s oil. It is the essence of God. In the Al’Ryax, writings from an older age in Elandir, they spoke of power forming the Sun and the Moon and even revealing the nature of stars. They say the man who spoke these things to them was mere lunatic, poised by the Night where he lay to study this magic amongst the stars. For it was light that shone strongest in darkness. Eventually he became absorbed with the power. One night, his father found him sitting at the foot of the mountain motionless in trance. When his father tried to wake him he did not answer. For 74 days he sat cross legged and in the fashion of the dharmic Athoskarman-Ra, known then as Athos-on-the-Lotus to heathen outsiders of deep Asthurisse. I say this only because on the Lunar Apex of that evening he opened his eyes and mouth to speak and from him burned light which Rang the mountains and send rubble hurling across the steep slopes, bellowing, “Da.” Then the light faded and his skin fell to the ground in his place like a cloth robe, cast off.”

“Why is it you speak such legendary tails, such as one from so long ago?” Uruhua inquired, though she knew. Yet, it was Oberon who spoke,

“We know the risks. Now show us the wheel.”

Simon lifted a parchment sheet. On it lie the cycle of things etched in words beyond words. Contained in it was such beauty as to be horrified. Simon quickly withdrew it into his pocket.

“Shall we try?”
-

In the deep reaches of the final chamber lay the prize. The chest and beyond it, the door-without-handles. The exit. Once.

The crimson painted chest, lined with a foiled gold in the most ancient style. Rudimentary and cast in dense mudbrick. It showed only the scene that mattered in those days. The hopes of a throne and a crown to they who could exceed God. Such an empty dream.
With a swing of her pole arm, Uruhua shattered the chest. Overwhelmed by the scent, Anatolius began his count. 50,000 astral diamonds. The sum of empires. Again, truly empty.

“Let us go now, it is enough. Heaven could be in flames or worse and these diamonds will not help us to solve this.” Oberon had taken initiative and we agreed.

“Wait,” Simon had one last idea. “I want to Communicate with Golagorax here. Perhaps his soul is trapped as well. He then sat and began to meditate. After five minutes, Simon began to shout and then after another three or so, finally stood up.

Walking towards the Door-without-handles, Simon looks back and smiled.

“So, what’s the chance I go 0-2 here?”
-

The Gates to Heaven have no words. No soul who ascends even passes by them. They are an illusion of power and existence. Their construction unrivalled in the known world. All of the culture and the art of the world derived from the idea of one single thing. What is Heaven? The attempts and renovations and recreations and annihilations in the arts and life enacted on one object, one assumption. And none had ever even seen it.

In truth it is such as it is. No more or less golden. No more or less laden with gems and magics. No more or less blessed than the dirt upon which the almighty had trod. It is simply the Past, the Present, and Future made one and eternal. A door, no more, no less.

Before it stood the bare purple skin of the Athosiae Devarum, most elite among elite, pulsating with feint cosmic rushes of thought and life beneath. One bore a scimitar, shaped like the crescent moon before dark, another the rushes and trident to entangle before casting one through the clouds and into the abyss.

“THOSE OF THE EVIL STAIN! BE YEE TRUE IN THE FACE OF ATHOS-ON-HIGH?”

“Lay down arms!” Repulsed Oberon, glowing now more radiant perhaps? “We are those who seek light and the end of the Long night. We merely seek truth. Know you the way?”

Dropping the net, the Deva spoke, “I am Scarn, I bear the light. I knew you not in the days before, though now I see many of you are different. Stained as is Nemesis. Speak you the truth?”

“Yes, we did not choose this, it was thrust upon us. We seek to stop its spread and to restore the balance. We seek the truth.”

“Then it is so. Beyond, you will see the truth.”

Clanking open the palisades of gold shuttered and a great cloud of pure white dust gently swept over the floor. Clearing, the visions of once mammoth cathedrals and spires lay in siege. Beyond the Grand Entrance in the fields of Elysian reflections, there stood only death and fire.

“Take this. This ring, Oberon, will take you to the truth. Follow it and do what you believe to be the answer. The faith have faith not like one has water, but like one has thirst. It must be quenched. It is beyond our mere possession. Satiate yourself on the light, and it shall purify thyself. Recall that to thine own self you must be true. Go to him. Athos Be Praised.”
-

Within the Dom Athos, the plant undulated, slithering long vines between rows of pulpits and along the marbled walls. With a pulmonic rhythm, flowers bloomed and withdrew along the path towards the center. In the seat where once Athos had crowed the God of Everlasting Night and doomed us to such fate. Now, brought back by such a… creature?
“Its energy is perplexing. I can’t figure out what it is. There is light… and something else.” Simon proceeded closer.

“Allow me!” Uruhua placed her hand up to her head and –

“NO!” Simon was too late, a piercing screech like daggers split the room.

LLLLLLLEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAVVVVVVVVVVVEEEEEEEEEEE

Though before recovering, another surprise was made evident. Above the creature, high in the covered Dome of Athos, once coated in the constant elucidation of the stars and the mysteries, was the final Urn. Equal in size and matter, again it would come to this. Again, there would be blood.

“I suppose we can do this. One last time.” Anatolius spoke and looked to his comrades. Aged and weary. None had volunteered who remained. It was the rag tag group from that warm Summer evening on the Conclave. Beneath the hardness and terror of the past years, beneath the impossible achievements and determination, they remained at the core, United.

“I think so.” Oberon smiled.

“Me too.” Uruhua prepared her spear.

“Always.” Simon said. Then he paused and looked ahead.

“It’s like your Eulogy to Behemoth. The Roots of the Earth are upside down.”

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Session LXXXI (ii): We’ll Fight Together Part II: Pure Carnage
Chapter 81 (2): We’ll Fight Together Part II: Pure Carnage

The last excerpt from the journal of Simon Bloom

The final room in the First Dungeon always stood out. There is no table at the back end of the room, no pillars or obelisks either. It’s design is simpler than all the other floors and often the boss monster does not change the room to suit their needs, they have no need to. In the center is the archway that would open a portal to back to the heavens if we defeated our nemesis the dungeon had chosen. The archway was a beautiful collection of rare jewels and treasures; rubies diamonds, emeralds, even magic items were held on the arch. A golden base adorned with silvered steel and platinum edges. A gorgeous piece of architecture, which only served as a testament to the beauty of the Heavens themselves.

Now the archway was shattered. Blasted apart during the War of Failed Succession, it’s wonderful riches and adornments seem to have turned to stone. The Heavens no longer touched this place and all the wonder and promise it gave has vanished. But the dungeon’s magic has not. The watchful eye of the First Dungeon has given us it’s best. Monsters meant to challenge us, strategies meant to kill us, an intent meant to intimidate us. None of it though, could beat the challenge in front of us.

Behemoth: child form sits in front of the ruined archway. In the back corner cowered the slimes he must have dragged with him into the final room. The First dungeon was all out of chances to take us down, but we weren’t in the clear yet. A beast greater than any had waited for us and maybe that was the dungeon’s hope all along. I could feel the glare of the First Dungeon behind me, in my mind I could hear it speak: “Show me the difference 3000 years can make, children of Athos. Show me a fight worth the wait.”

“We will.” I said getting caught up in the moment.

“What was that, Simon?” Asked Vondall. Valenae and Vinsanthius looked at me with the same confusion.

“Uhm, we will… take care of this fight, you 3 sit tight. We might need you to carry on if this fight goes south.” I said. They didn’t question me or the others. We four were caught up in the same thoughts, this was a fitting place for some pure carnage.

“Behemoth! Are you ready to fight us!” Yelled Anatolius, rage shook his words.

Behemoth turned to us, “Oh hello, do you people want to play?” He said. Anatolius drew his sword, the tip igniting into the brilliant blue light befitting of the Azure Inferno.

“I’m not in the mood, brother. Show me the beast or I’ll cut you down as you are.” An aura of fear crept off of Anatolius as he spoke. It chilled us to the bone, I can only imagine what it felt like to Behemoth. He instantaneously transformed into Behemoth beast mode. His giant and gnarled body no longer resembled our brother The Reaping Hungar, he is nothing more than a Chained Beast now. The first time we fought, we ran in fear and it cost Random his life. Revenge sat in my belly and my staff shook with rage from my tightened grip around it.

“Good, Children of Athos, very good. Blood will certainly spill on my floor today. How long has it been?” The First Dungeon rang in my imagination once again.

“Too long.” I replied as my Magical Third Eye ripped open. We rushed towards the Chained Beast intent not to hold anything back. The room shook with each of his massive steps and the air crackled around our overflowing Spirit Fuel auras. A blur of Uruhua flew around the battlefield attacking any opening she could find. Fire and lightning blasted at the Behemoth scarring everywhere but his unbreakable body. Chains sliced through the air, giant extremities jackhammered into the ground, and a bellowing roar overcame all other sounds. A calm light zipped back and forth granting us another chance to fight, and another, and another; it’s path undisturbed by the chaos which erupted underneath the watchful eye of the First Dungeon.

A break in momentum! Behemoth retreats a step. Blue fire still clinging to his form after a devastating blow. Anatolius’ eyes are locked with the Chained Beast’s; pure carnage falters for a moment.

Behemoth’s power is based on his psyche, how frightening he thinks he is. Fear glints in his eyes and suddenly he doesn’t seem so unbreakable. And just like that our strategy shifts, we heckle Behemoth. Insults and swears shoot from our voices and stab at his confidence. But if it were that easy the First Dungeon would be displeased. Uruhua drops. Crushed and limp she hits the floor. Before Behemoth can revel in his victory, I weave a magic nightmare through her corpse. Behemoth is spooked and Oberon has already granted Uruhua another chance.

I branch off and focus on the intricate web of spells I have cast. My Magical Third Eye holds their effects in place allowing me to cast without limits. I can already feel the strain that comes with it, but my body numbs and adrenalin keeps me going. I’ve lost track of the others, all I can see is the target of my spells and how they throw him off balance. Any moment I can give Anatolius or Uruhua a chance to damage his solid body is a spell well cast. A flurry of arcane force, augmented by Spirit Fuel and lightning cloud my vision of the world. The Oncoming Storm once told me I was more a force of destruction than anything else. That I was more like him than I thought. Big Stormy was a not a friend and I do not look fondly on my time possessed by him, but he knew me better than most. If I learned anything from that experience it was that I am dangerous, I am powerful, and I would never stop fighting!

Before I know it I’m grabbed. Behemoth’s massive hand tightens around me, squeezing the life out of me and I drop.

Oberon gives me another chance. I breathe in the scene around me, no time to catch my breath. Behemoth has gained his footing again. Uruhua and Anatolius are relentless, but so is the Chained beast. I can see the elaborate entangle of spells I had cast begin to unwrap. My Magical Third Eye closed while I was knocked out and I can’t focus on all of them at once.

“Yes, that’s it Simon. Falter and fall.” The whispers of the First Dungeon buzz in my imagination. It’s voice is familiar. “Let your blood spill onto my floors. Your spells have failed you, your body has fallen and soon your siblings will follow.”

“No.” I whisper back and stand on my own two feet.
“I will not fall.” I say.
“I am dangerous, I am powerful, and I WILL NEVER STOP FIGHTING!” I scream and reach into deep into my core. Attempting to rip open my Magical Third Eye again. I can feel the arcane force peel against me. A current my body cannot handle rushing through me. My lightning and Spirit Fuel are stripped away, they cannot help me here. Nothing but me and the arcane flow of the universe. I feel still and nearly falter, but then another force appear beside me. Random, I can feel him. The current is not so strong. We reach into the arcane force that has governed my life for over 3000 years, it is not as frightening as I thought. Together we pull the power that I need.

“Random!” I call out, but his presence is already gone. Tears well up for my brother and my memories of him flow through me. I can’t help but smile. “Ok then, cya brother.”

My Magical Third Eye bursts open and my spells fall in line to my command. I govern their arcane force in my hands. Behemoth starts to falter again. He can’t keep up with Uruhua or hold Anatolius back, and Oberon gives us another chance. With my magic tripping him up he loses all hope and crumbles. The Chained Beast’s fragile body is no match for us. Pure carnage is contaminated by fear. Behemoth drops. The second child of Athos, the Reaping Hungar falls to those who refused to run away from him. Underneath Anatolius’ blade his body burns to ash and flies away through the flow of time. We all catch each other’s eyes. A smile escapes our collective lips and I know we’re all thinking of Random.

“NO, you must all perish, let my floors fill with blood. DIE UNDER MY GAZE, YOU DEMIGOD SCUM!” that familiar voice rings in my imagination once more.

“Enough.” I say. “I’m tired of feeling guilty. The Oncoming Storm is dead and I am free. Voices in my head can’t scare me and the certainly can’t govern my life anymore.” Silence rings through my imagination, through my mind, through my body and a smile creeps across my face.

“Simon, what are you doing? Come over here.” Anatolius says. My siblings stand in front of me and I embrace them in the biggest, familial hug I’ve ever given.

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Session LXXXI (i): We’ll Fight Together Part I: True Radiance
Session 81 (1): We’ll Fight Together Part I: True Radiance

An excerpt from the theorem and jargon filled journal of Simon Bloom

We took a rest, we had to. The First Dungeon had turned into a rehashing of all our biggest bads. Neckolaj, Sikarenia and Avantador, Behemoth was sure to be next, and we definitely fought that spider queen once before in the Church of Athos Dominus. I just hope Big Stormy isn’t waiting for us in the next chamber.

Oberon was near out of ‘heals’ and Anatolius’ flames were starting to lose their radiant blue hue. The only thing left had to be Behemoth and Nox, the only two fights we had every run away from. Pure carnage and ultimate despair deserve a short rest I believe.

Even though Behemoth was our next stop, I couldn’t stop thinking about the battle after. How would our battle with Nox go? How much stronger had we become since he beat us last? The time for secrets was over, I couldn’t hide my experiments and research from the party anymore; not when they could mean the difference between victory and defeat.

“Everyone, I have something to discuss before we go any further. I believe our chances against Nox are still way too small, but I may have a solution. Well not a solution, but a theory…a countermeasure…”

“What is it Simon?” Uruhua said.

I pulled out one of my research journals. The tattered cover held the symbol of Spirit Fuel on it and the pages inside a wreck of theorems and arcane jargon. I passed it to Anatolius for the party to look through. “I have been experimenting with Spirit Fuel to create an Urn of my own.” I said

“You WHAT!?” Anatolius yelled. I thought Oberon would have been the first to berate me, but I could tell from his twitches that I would get a talking to soon. “Why would you even try something this risky, Simon? These are powers we barely understand.” Anatolius said

“I can think of several good reasons, but none of them matter now. I stopped that research about the time I tried channeling Spirit Fuel into my Architect’s Staff. But now I believe I can take my findings and use them for a new purpose. I want to create Anti-Spirit Fuel. Some force that we can turn on Nox, maybe even suck the Spirit Fuel right out of him! I have some ideas but I need this time to try them out. If we go against Nox with what we have now, there’s no way we’ll win, but with an ace in the hole we might have a chance.” I could tell by the stares I was getting that no one thought my ramblings were possible.

My book got passed to everyone and I continued my impromptu theorizing. My thought process involved creating a symbol in reverse of the symbol of Spirit Fuel. I had come to the conclusion that the symbol could be linked very simply to our experiences; Each arrow pointing out symbolized a different Urn spreading out across the realms. The circles represented the Three Guardian Dragons, Golagoraraxx, Sikarenia, and Avantador protecting The Urn of Creation, The Urn of Vision, and The Urn of Frailty respectively, while also symbolizing the separate realms that they came from The Labyrinth, The Realm of the Green Mists, and The Underdark…also respectively. I theorized that each Urn had an opposite which would point in the opposing direction. The Urn of Power opposes the Urn of Frailty, The Urn of Annihilation opposes The Urn of Creation, and The Urn Deception opposes The Urn of Vision. With the seventh and last Urn at the center of the symbol and at the center of all the realms.

“Of course we have all discussed these points before, but I believe that these rules govern our ability to create an Anti-Spirit Fuel symbol. But the most important piece of evidence I have gathered are our powered up weapons. Why would simply scratching the symbol of Spirit Fuel all over our weapons cause them to connect to it like they have? The symbol itself must contain real power.” I surmised.

“Simon that’s brilliant!” Said Uruhua. I’m glad I could convince someone. “But I have no idea where to start with creating a reverse symbol.” We spent a short time discussing this. Theorizing ways to create new guardians, trying to discern a way to fake the other realms, discussing if either were necessary to the process. It was Anatolius who figured that out though.

“Why do we have to do any of that? If we’re all in the same realm why can’t all of us enact both the urns and our own guardians? You see how the original lines are all disconnected, let’s just connect them all and reverse the arrows. Like this.” Anatolius said as he scribble a simplistic design into my notebook.

“Pssh, Anatolius, if it were that simple I would have solved it al..rea..dy…” I trailed off as I saw the symbol that he had drawn. He was right, the power of Spirit Fuel was so dissonant just like the symbol, his simpler design might do the trick! I ripped the book out of his hands and scribbled a more finalized product. “This is it. You did it Anatolius!”

Anatolius smiled, his flames had brightened in this rest. “We did it, Simon. All of us, together.” It’s funny, Nox said he chose me to oppose him in intellect, to show that I couldn’t outsmart him. And he would have been right, but I’m not the only one he chose to face. Maybe Anatolius couldn’t overpower him, maybe Vondall couldn’t defend against him. Alone none of us could defeat Nox, but Nox isn’t facing us alone. He’s facing us together, and where one of us might fall, we can all help them back up. Nox can beat me, but he’ll never beat all of us together!

“So what do you think will happen once we use this symbol?” Uruhua asked me.

“I have absolutely no idea, but I’m about 90% sure it’ll be something positive!…80%…I’m sure it will be seemingly positive!” I said with confidence the whole way through. No doubt was in my voice, that’s for sure. The party didn’t share in my denial. “It doesn’t matter now anyway. We’ll need to meet up with Vinsanthius, Vondall, and Valenae before we can even attempt this.”

Rested and ready to move forward we ran after Vinsanthius and Behemoth. I hoped that he hadn’t tried to take on Behemoth by himself, but if that was the case he would have been killed already and we all would have fallen unconscious like we have anytime a Spirit Fueled Demigod died. Thankfully my worries were put to rest as we saw Vinsanthius alone with a couple of beaten up slimes. He was holding his own against a boss I’m sure was meant to take all of us down. It had been so long since I had seen Vinsanthius fight that I forgot why he was called The Shimmering Blade.

Together we wiped out the slimes and Vinsanthius told what happened. “I followed behemoth in that child form all the way here only to find a gigantic Gelatinous Cube waiting for us. We had both been able to run past the last room before the dungeon could create an enemy, but this monster had been ready. It attacked Behemoth first and in desperation his right arm grew into that of a gigantic beast, easily twice the size of the Behemoth I once knew. I’ll consider it luck that the child form still had control since he ran into the next room out of fear before he could fully transform.”

“Leaving you to clean up this gelatinous mess right! HAHAHA” I laughed and Vinsanthius cracked a smile.

“You know what, I needed that Simon I feel like I haven’t heard a good joke since I left Titans Hold, so I’ll take a really bad one.” Vinsanthius said.

“Don’t you encourage him! Besides we have something important to discuss with you.” Oberon said. We brought up our plans to create an Anti-Spirit Fuel symbol and that we needed his help. After some quips about my dangerous choice to create my own Urns he agreed to help. We went and grabbed Vondall and Valenae a few rooms back and discussed the final arrangements together. We all needed a nice long rest and now that we were together there was no rush. We slept and prepared for tomorrow which would surely be a long day. I put the finishing touches on our ace in the hole before slumping onto the solid floor for sleep.

When we all awoke I prepared the Anti-Spirit Fuel symbol on the large chamber floor. We designated who would stand in which spot, it was important to emulate the forces of the urns and how they opposed each other.

“I think it’s pretty obvious that Oberon is the Urn of Creation and opposite him Anatolius as the Urn of Annihilation.” I started off.

“The Urn of Power should be Uruhua’s. There’s no doubt about that.” Chimed in Anatolius.

“There’s still Deception and Vision. Simon sorry to say, but you’ve got to be Deception.” Said Uruhua

I laughed “No need to be sorry, I was named The Labyrinth wasn’t I. Tricks and false turns are my game. Then that just leaves The Urn of Vision who has to be…”

“It’s Vinsanthius. Vinsanthius has been the leader of the demigods and sees through our family for who we are better than any of us. It’s him.” Interrupted Valenae.

“Are you sure Valenae? That means you won’t be in the circle and I’ve been lead astray before. I’ve hardly been the demigod with the best decisions as of late.” Vinsanthius said, but Valenae just smiled and pushed him into the circle.

We all faced our opposing forces and channeled our Spirit Fuel power into the center of the symbol. At first nothing happened, then a surge of light broke through the energy we had collectively released. In the center of the circle now floated a bright and gigantic ball of light. Like the sun it shone down on us, it burned at my Spirit Fuel. The room had lost all darkness, colors had lost all effect. This bright orb was the essence of all light and goodness that Athos had built into our realm. Like a diamond among cole, this light was flawless. It was True Radiance! This was it, this True Radiance could do significant damage to anyone with Spirit Fuel, but that included us and now I’m not quite sure what to do with this giant floating orb that none of us can get too close to. Oh well this is what tests are for I thought, but then Oberon moved closer.

“Oberon wait, doesn’t it burn?” asked Uruhua

“No, it’s warm. I can feel it’s power flowing into me. I…I believe I can contain it.” Oberon said as he lifted up one of his holy symbols. We could hear him whisper a quick prayer. As we saw him mouth the final words “Athos be praised” the light flowed into his holy symbol as if Athos himself had willed it. Shadow wormed it’s way back into the chamber as the marvelous light was absorbed into Oberon’s own radiant glow. While his holy symbol contained the True Radiance we could all tell it was much stronger than it was before. The symbol of Anti-Spirit Fuel we had created was burned into the face of the holy symbol as if to say, “this vessel will hold me for now, but not for long.”

This was it, we were ready to face Nox. We had at least one ace up our sleeves, we had our exit strategy with LP, and most importantly we had each other. First though, we had one more big bad to face, and Behemoth was not going to go down easily.

To be continued…

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Session LXXX: A Guardian Never Relents

Chapter 80: A Guardian Never Repents

From the Journal of Oberon

I wish I didn’t have to kill him. Nekolaj was my brother; a horrific, evil man, but my brother nonetheless. He and I went through the same journey all those millenia ago, pursued the same goals, learned the same lessons from our great Father. Nox corrupted that young man’s heart beyond repair, and he paid the ultimate price – a life laced with darkness and despair, one that was nearly as old as time itself. Maybe he really did die all that time ago at the Urn of Annihilation, and what I vanquished was but a fleeting remnant of his soul. One thing’s for sure, that didn’t lessen the regret I felt as I vaporized him with the radiant light of my mace. I was left thinking of what could have been for him, a life of honor and service, a key member of the Regulators. Let it not be forgotten that Nox’s evil eviscerates more than landscapes and buildings.
Alas, there was little time for recollection. Vinsanthius was surely in grave danger, having ran off to pursue Behemoth just minutes earlier. Before we took off, Simon noticed a small chest tucked away in the corner of the room. Uruhua, of course, was the first to speed across the room to get a closer look at what was inside. Luckily enough for her, the amulet that was nestled snugly inside seemed to suit her the best, so with haste, she threw the chain around her neck, stuffed the ornate amulet into her armor, and led the charge through the tunnel, in pursuit of our dear brother.
What we saw on the other end of the tunnel, unfortunately, was not our dear brother at all. We stood at the entrance to a massive atrium, bigger than any I’ve ever seen in the realm of man. In the center of the room sat a huge square platform, 30 feet high, with giant steps leading up to it on all four sides. Upon this platform sat two more urn guardians we had previously vanquished – the elder dragons Sikarania and Avontador.
Luckily for us, they didn’t seem to notice our entrance. I’m not exactly sure what kind of dull chatter they were caught up in, I was too caught up in my own stealth, but it allowed us to sneak up and take an advanced position on the dragons. Despite my two left feet, I was able to dodge the dragons’ view by shimmying alongside the edge of the stairs, keeping myself completely out of eyesight.
Once we were all in position, I struck, attempting to bind the dragons in a spell that would make them nearly useless in combat. Although I didn’t perform the prayer perfectly, I was still able to hamper Avontador’s firepower while we focused on Sikarenia. After being struck with my holy incantation, the dragons recoiled in pain.
“The time is now, destroy them!” yelled Sikarenia, his thunderous voice reverberated around the atrium and shook its very foundation. Avontador turned his wretched head straight at me and exclaimed,
“It’s no use fighting, foolish Demigods, for either in victory or defeat, you will be trapped here for eternity!”
For all his talk, Sikarania sure seemed to melt quickly under the pressures of combat. We were able to beat him to the point of bleeding quite early into the fight, but he seemed to find a second wind after that point, fiercely tearing into my brothers and sisters with his devastating claws and teeth. Luckily for them, I was able to sit back and take care of them from a distance while the dragons were distracted.
After a bloody struggle, Anatolius was able to deal one grand blast of flame, vanquishing Sikarenia and decomposing his soul into an amorphous mist, only to be captured in his soul vial. With one dragon down, we could all now surround Avontador and finish this fight quickly so we could go in after Vinsanthius.
Unfortunately, it didn’t prove to be so easy. Avontador let out a blast of white hot energy that managed to blind nearly all of us. Without our vision, Avontador was able to throw us around the Atrium, inflicting a great deal of damage on my brothers and sisters before we were able to regain our footing. However, thanks to our tactical ability, we were able to take out the beast without taking too much colateral damage. Anatolius vanquished the second dragon much like the first, roasting him in a bath of necrotic flame and capturing his eternal soul in the vial.
It was surely time for a rest, but we couldn’t afford much; only enough to catch our breath. One second could be the difference between saving our brother Vinsanthius from certain doom, or watching him die at the same hands that took the life of Random. We could only pray that he was not already lost.

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Session LXXIX: Dining with the Dead
Chapter 79: Dining with the Dead

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

The First Dungeon continued to challenge the demigods, and with the Arachna Queen and her spiderlings defeated, the demigods stopped for a few moments to catch their breath. “Are we ready? Vinsanthius, Valanae, and Vondal are still ahead.” Standing up, the demigods made a check of all their equipment, and got ready to push on forward. Several dark tunnels lead deeper down into the dungeon, each lit by a single torch. Orange light flicked on the stone walls, and the party rushed past to find their brothers and sister.

The next chamber had only dim lights illuminating the room, and unlike the last there was a large feast table in the center. Pounds of uneaten food and dining wear sat at a table to never be eaten. The table’s guests were each undead, chunks of flesh hanging off their decaying bodies. At the head of the table sat a massive Lich, skin clutching to bones with naught but magic to keep him standing. But the Lich spawned by the dungeon was not alone, and across the table from him sat Nekolaj, The Corpse Whisperer and the 132nd Child of Athos. Nekolaj was last seen at the Urn of Annihilation, where his presence came as a shock to the demigods. Once beheaded by Vinsanthius for refusing the denounce Nox and join The Conclave, he had long been believed dead. When he was found guarding The Urn of Annihilation on Sysitar, Vondal was his captive and being used to power the Urn. Defeated by Random, he vowed to return. Now, the party had finally caught up to him.

“Dance my puppets, dance.” Nekolaj motioned towards Valanae and Vondal, waving his hands like a conductor leading a symphony. “Go, protect the gate!” His second command went towards the small child he had with him, now at the end of the hall. The child stumbled and ran away, deeper into the dungeon. “I’ll follow him, and keep the Behemoth from awakening!” Vinsanthius broke from restraining Vondal, and rushed after the child. “Wait! Don’t go!” Oberon and Anatolius shouted. “He’s dangerous, you can’t fight Behemoth alone. It would be stupid.” Uruhua agreed. “I can’t let him stop us from getting back into heaven. I won’t let him keep me from going home.” Vinsanthius stood strong, conviction in his eyes and ready to rush forward. “Follow your heart.” Simon Bloom regretfulyl spoke, hoping his brother would choose wisely. “I’ll be careful” he replied, and with that Vinsanthius chased after the child.

“Now it’s just us.” Nekolaj turned his head towards the party, his neck twisting around and pulling the skin like only an undead could do. He then gave out a shriek, and a high pitched laugh. “It seems the Dungeon thought it wise to create a challenge of a Lich and his undead for us. It only took a whisper for these bodies to fall under my control.” Nekolaj cracked his neck to the left, then the right with the Lich and each of the undead table guests copying perfectly in sync. “How could I resist?” Nekolaj stood, the undead followed, and the battle began.

Uruhua rushed forward, a twirl of her spear and a forceful shout, “Destroy them!” Behind her, Anatolius began to fling fireballs from his fingertips, each smashing into Nekolaj, blue flames licking his face. The undead swarmed forward, striking out at the party. But a few stayed behind, and both the Lich and Nekolaj had an entourage of corpses around them. Across the room Vondal swayed, possessed by Nekolaj, and stuck out at his sister Valanae. “Dance puppet!” Nekolaj gave out another high shriek. Around the party, Oberon cast out a burst of light at an undead, and stuck by the Light of Athos he melted away, the body turning to ash. Simon Bloom conjured up a wall of multicolored lightning around them, stopping several of the undead in their tracks and knocking their bodies lifelessly to the floor. But these corpses, soon after falling to the ground rose up again ready to strike.

“Oberon – blast away at those corpses! Your light is keeping them down.” Antolius shouted back, blasting away again with Uruhua at Nekolaj. The black blood leaking out of the demigod didn’t stop his maniacal laughter. Vondal shook off Nekolaj’s control, and the spell jumped to Valanae, now rolling her eyes back into her head as she fell under the Corpse Whisperer’s control. “Take him down!” Uruhua slammed her spear into Nekolaj, pushing him back and earning herself a bolt of black magic in return. With Nekolaj focused on his sister, Anatolis saw his opening. His blade came smashing down into Nekolaj’s shoulder, and he gushed up blood with a dark laugh, collapsing to the floor. A hiss, and the body dissolved into a pile of goop. Simon, holding back the undead investigated. It seemed that Nekolaj was up to his usual tricks, and while his body may have died the body certainly lives on. “He’s not dead yet” Simon said, “He’s still bound himself to this world.” In response, an undead grabbed his face, ripping off the flesh and revealing the gruesome laughing face of their brother besides him. Nekolaj, having jumped into a new body, stood again. “Now, I’m over here!” He pulled the spirit from Valanae, knocking the demigod out. Then he pushed it into Anatolius attempting to dominate his mind. Quick to action, Oberon saved his brother and kept him from acting against his allies.

“The phylactery is on the Lich – take him out next.” Simon shouted, striking at the undead. “Oberon and I will keep his minions down.” In response, a bolt of light shot out from OBeron, dusting another of the undead. Uruhua and Anatolius began to focus on the Lich. “Quick, give me your phylactery.” Nekolaj commanded the Lich, who ran forward to hand it to his newfound master. From beneath his cloak, he removed a small, smooth black coffin the size of his palm. “Here, master.” Nekolaj grabbed the phylactery and stepped away from the Lich, blasting away at the party all the while. Yet it was not enough to stop the demigods from smashing through his minions. Oberon’s light and the walls of Simon Bloom took down many, and Vondal cleaved two in half with mighty blows from his axe. Soon, all that remained were Nekolaj and the Lich. “Stay strong! Stay standing!” Nekolaj commanded his Lich, pushing power into the phylactery. Dark magic slid out of his fingertips into the smooth coffin before him. More blows landed on the Lich, and the bones of the ancient undead creaked. “No! Stay standing! I command it!” Nekolaj shouted pushing more power into the Lich. Oberon, fearful of his brother’s actions, cast a weakening spell on the Lich, “Strike now!” The Lich fell, and the party turned to Nekolaj, pummeling him with blows. “I told you, rise!” The Lich’s body stood up again, unwilling to die so long as his phylactery remained intact. “Don’t fail your master now.” But even as he commanded the Lich to stay standing, he couldn’t hold off against the onslaught of blows all directed at him now and soon, Nekolaj’s body turned again to slime. Next, he jumped bodies again into that of Lich. And this was his final mistake.

Cut off from restoration by Oberon’s spell, the body of the Lich was still weak. “This body is perfect! I should have come here long ago, to The First Dungeon to secure a perfect body for commanding the undead.” Nekolaj gave out another laugh, this one his last. “Now, I am unstoppable!” Two blows of fire from Anatolius glanced off of him, the body of the Lich still protected. Oberon rushed over to the the slime that Nekolaj left behind, flying quickly over the feast table. In the robes, he searched for the phylactery of the Lich. However, instead of the small smooth coffin that was seen earlier, Oberon found something else. A spiked orb that began oozing and squirming as soon as Oberon touched it. Dark energy dripping out of it, even the light of Obeon’s body was dimmed by the black phylactery. But even darker was the expression on Nekolaj’s face, gone from pure ecstasy to devestation. “How did that get here?” Oberon raised his mace, and as Nekolaj screamed the Light of Athos stuck his brother’s phylactery. A huge burst of light exploded across the room, and a wave of energy washed over the entire party. Nekolaj screamed, and from the feet up his body flaked away until there was nothing more. Oberon smiled, “It looks like when he took on the body of the Lich, the creature’s phylactery took on the form of his own. He’s gone forever now, truly dead at last.”

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Session LXXVII: House of my Father
Chapter 77: House of my Father

The swift rolling flakes of white snowflakes sped like rotary blades across the stone chamber. A stinging cold, blustering against the walls, sped forth unseen from the harshest reaches of frigid Stygia. Conjured by the eternal will of Athos, the snowmen raced along the ice with ease spinning their claws into each demigod, leaving frost bitten flesh and chilled armor that rattled the bones.

High above reined Anatolius. In the center, a massive creature of crimson ice, bleeding wildly and commanding his minions through a harsh and repeating guttural roar.

“GAOOOOHHHHHHH”

“GAAHHHOOOOOHHHHH”

The reverberating icicles crashed down from the ceiling returning the Demigods to their plane and their first encounter within the First Dungeon. A cold entry, save for Anatolius, whose fire, an Azure aftermath emblazoned black from its essence proved again the might of spirit fuel. This unlimited power gave to Anatolius a great key to many doors. Like the platinum adornments of the dungeon.

Known by an old name, Kor-dò-Rahm, or The-Place-Beyond-the-Rahm, hidden atop Rahm, a holy mountain. Below ran the rivers in the Aequos where emerald laden fords now transmuted leaden from the alchemy poisoning the whole of the land. Inaccessible to civilization in the days of High Athos and now, the refuge proved less difficult than expected.

The Ancient steps, hewn from the rock of the mountain and shaved smooth through perilous and tedious centuries by the old Monks of the Holy doors. So spoke, in honour of the Athos’ promise for ‘Praise beyond Life’ made in the earliest days to the Dwarves, the 2nd Chieftain of the Dwarven people founded the Monastery to continue to build a Temple. Though in several centuries it became clear the Dwarven chieftains, ever more splintered and decentralised failed to send the money and labour required to build the temple. The doors, the final and most consistently planned from the days of the 2nd Chieftain left unmade. The King in Aequos, who ruled from a diplomat’s loft in Naxos, said that the temple would stay open so the wind could keep the dust off the alter. So forth come Athos.

Emblazoned by such ill regard to his promise, Athos came to the capitol in a torrent of fury. Brought forth, the Right hand of Athos forged a 1st great Platinum door in the Air in its form. Then came the left and a second door flashed into existence. Then upon them Athos carved a prophesy.

The great unhinged spectacle of creation atop scenes of Athosian life descending into evermore grand scenes of a dual fate. From the power of Athos came beauty and glory, then pouring down upon men the beating sun at the right and the crescent moon on the left. Two scenes. One of glory and the unyielding strength of progress. Men in fields poured love into their works and art and beauty hailed a glorious day to come again and again. Then to the left. That scene of everlasting night familiar now to us all. Such horrors are known and their effigy now is not as shocking as on that day. Then, flashing into the ether, the Event over Naxos ended with a violent earthquake, ruining a great deal of the City and rippling far across the continent. That night, the Monastery monks whom, coming from their beds at the rumbling violence of the earth and stars appearing to fall from the sky, were astonished as the sky lit up with the brightness of the doors, now fixed onto the temple. Though the doors proved locked and immobile. As they would stay but to the children of Athos, even now.

The next day, the King of Aequos drank hemlock in a public square and died.

Now, in such a fury, the Red Frost struck out. A whirlwind of blistering energy struck Oberon and left his body to clank onto the ice and skid gently along the ground. Quickly, the heat and health to return the Pixie leader proved immediate. Uruhua, rushing quickly, revived the Demigod, whose light erupted and shattered the ice quickly enough. Damaging though the fight remained, the black flames poured onto the Frost beast weakened its constitution. Shaking off continual barrages and with fierce and blind rage threw itself against Simon’s walls and crawling forth on cracked pine. Scratching and blasting, its presence struck greater chills. Its bestial roars poured forth evermore as it clawed forth, weakening each demigod and summoning evermore frosts to battle.

Quickly, Simon called out:

“Illusory! C4 through AE4!”

In a Thick haze a tall barrier erupted from the ground and at once the battle opened once more. At the other end, a mirror of haze. Here, target practice.

Roaring headlong at the haze, Red Frost called out and began to scratch wildly.

Lifting his right hand, Anatolius marked the frost slamming itself against the wall mercilessly. Then, he stretched out his left. A sphere of energy quickly whipped up and then sparked flames black as the night sky. Then, force. Anatolius, gently bending his thumbs, as his father once had in a time before his, fed the flame until in a fraction of time the sphere exploded its borders into a maelstrom of heat and grew into a great size before it reached the ground and launched forward like a cannon shot with a loud crack.

Passing through the wall, it struck the Frost, who raged as the pressure spun with friction against the thickly packed snow until speeding through the beast and settling in the cavity of its chest.

Crying now wildly, the beast wept a thick bleeding slush where it fell and ripped at its heart, soon flailing across the ice, leaving itself behind as it crashed haphazardly against the ice.

“GOOHAHHHHAHHHHHHH”

GOOOOOOOOOOOAHHHHHHHHHH

GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAHAHHHAHAHHA

GOOOOOOOOAHHHHHHHHHH

Finally, after failing to scratch out the now rapidly extinguishing flame, soaked by blood, oozing and boiling like magma. The stench caused the demigods to gag. Stepping quickly and unhindered by such horrible sights, the demigods proceeded. They had seen both sides of the Platinum Gate in their long Eras.

The ice melted quickly and fizzled from the humid atmosphere left from battle. The room was quiet, but the dungeons called forth.

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Session LXXVI: Our Dinner with the Planesbeing
Session 76: Our Dinner with the Planesbeing

An excerpt from the journal of a very dramatic Simon Bloom

The Rippling Earth crumbles beneath Anatolius’ sword. The last of The Forces of Athos for us to meet with the shortest rapport. The dust and smoke rise above the diamond slide and though rocks cover the hall that was once The Rippling Earth’s cage, I can see the pebbles that hold his soul take their last trip down that slide. Everyone celebrates a much needed victory after our defeat at the hands of Nox, but I don’t have time to celebrate. I rush over to the pebbles and scoop them up before The Planesbeing can enter. I died for what feels like the second time in my life and I’m not going to accept any regrets, even if that means taking advantage of The Planesbeing.

He appears in the room through one of his own portals. “Thank you, children of Athos…Simon what are you doing?”

“Getting insurance.” I say as I drop the pebbles into my bag of holding. The Planesbeing rips through the air right next to me. “The deal was kill The Rippling Earth, I don’t have to hand his soul over to you.”

“What would you do with his soul, Simon Bloom?”

I’m sure I could do a lot with his soul; the Storm gave me power, The Planesbeing gave me portals, who knows what advantage The Rippling Earth could give me. But I don’t say that, strength isn’t what I want.

“The question is, what would you do with your brothers’ souls…Planesy?” I say dragging out the pet-name The Rippling Earth gave his brother. I want to see him wince, just once.

“I did promise my reasons to you, this is only fair. After I took the presence of The Oncoming Storm from you Simon, his Herald, where his soul lay dormant, and after I take The Rippling Earth’s soul from his stones…I will ascend.”

Longing draped over the surface of his face for a fraction of a second; maybe I imagined it. Maybe I wanted to see emotion on that mug of his so bad that I shaped his face in my mind and saw only what I wanted. “I don’t care about your ascension, and I don’t care about Big Stormy’s soul, which you took from me without asking.”

“Are you not grateful that I saved your body, Simon Bloom?”

“Well yeah sure, bu-” I said, interrupted.

“Then the soul of The Oncoming Storm is a fair trade.”

That sick bastard. I grit my teeth and get to the point. “I want insurance, Planesbeing. You can have the Storm’s soul, but the soul of the Rippling Earth will cost you.” My faithful grin returns to me. “I’d say one soul of The Forces of Athos should cost you one favor. I want one favor from you asked at anytime.”

“I have conditions: your favor cannot involve calling for me to fight any of the children of Athos, that includes Nox, and that your favor will not put my life at risk.”

A glance is all I need from the rest of the party, we were never going to use his power to help us fight, but having a safe exit back here in a pinch was worth giving the Planesbeing what he wanted. I offered my hand to The Planesbeing.

“Deal.” I said, our hands met and I could feel the agreement legitimized within me. I fished out The Rippling Earth’s pebbles and handed them to The Planesbeing. The second he touched those pebbles a change surged through him. Still the offputting silhouette of the Planesbeing, textured by a purple expanse of what I can only describe as a violet night sky, but now storm clouds raged from his body. Cracks of lightning ripping through the cosmos. Crags of stone and earth protruded from his shadowy figure, once a two dimensional visage now revealed its complexity with shadows and inconsistencies. And where his plain mug once existed, where I once believed to see longing, a mask awakened onto his face. Muscles contorted as his lips, nose, eyes, and brow found belonging and individuality.

“Thank you, Simon.” he said as a cacophony of emotions swam through his face. Not a single one of them was longing. “I am no longer The Planesbeing, now I am Lord Primordial!” he shook his face, “I am The Planesbeing.” He shook his mask, “I am not the Planesbeing.” He shook his face one more time. “I have never been able to do that before.”

“Do what?” Uruhua asked

“Lie.” Said the Lord Primordial.

A realization came onto me. If he is no longer The Plansebeing, is the agreement still legitimate? Did I just release him by giving him exactly what he wanted? “Do we still have a deal, LORD PRIMORDIAL!” I tried to hold in my worry. Lord Primordial turned to me, his mask looked hurt.

“Of course Simon, I have no intention of breaking our trust.” He said. I sighed. He can’t seem to control his emotions enough to lie to me, at least not yet.

“Hmph, good, but I’m not going to sit around calling you Lord Primordial all the time. From now on I’ll call you LP.” My comment didn’t seem to bother him at all. Maybe he even enjoyed the nickname. This definitely wasn’t the same being we freed from the storm’s prison and I don’t know if that’s a good or a bad thing.

We moved on from the presence of LP, we had more important things to discuss. Anatolius informed us about Nekolaj being alive and his presence at The First Dungeon. Our old training ground created for the demigods to be a dungeon which would change every time someone entered it. The difficulty of the monsters, traps, and bosses would alter accordingly to the strength of those inside. After the destruction of Sysitar I forgot about it. All those hours of training there, testing ourselves to be Athos’ chosen child was just waste. But now that seemed like our destination.

“Might I interject? I know of two portals to the Heavens. One exists in the First Dungeon and the other is at the center of Sysitar, but I can feel a great power guarding it.” LP said.

“What’s that going to cost us?” Asked Uruhua?

Again LP looked hurt. “Nothing, Uruhua. I wish to see this through as much as I can. It doesn’t benefit me for Nox’s plan’s to come to fruition. I’m on your side.” His sincerity is off putting. We chose the First Dungeon. If the power guarding the other portal to the Heavens was Nox then we wanted to avoid him at all costs. LP opened a portal not far from the First Dungeon’s steps. No cost, no deals or favors, he took us there out of his own desires. His freedom was certainly helpful, but who knows how it would change the world.

“So LP, what now? What are your plans for freedom?” I asked him. He made eye contact, too much eye contact. He smiled widely, too widely. This was definitely more unsettling.

“I will create my own universe, my own plane. It will be in my glory and for no one else. And most importantly it will be because I desire it.” He said as a portal ripped around him and snapped shut like a bolt of lightning. The sound of thunder rang through the Realm of Athos or so it seemed from where we stood. “He gets that from the Storm.” I said. No one laughed, but I snickered about it to myself all the way up the steps to the First Dungeon.

Sysitar looked no different then when we last visited a few hours ago, but it had been over 3000 years since we all stood in front of the First Dungeon. The door and dark gray walls built into the side of mountain shrouded in shadow looked unaged. A pair of tattered banners held perfectly still on either side of the door; Nox’s symbol, the eclipse was adorned into the fabric. A momento from before from before the destruction of Sysitar or the Pixie race, before the War of Failed Succession and the Second Age, and before the Eclipse that ravaged that age.

Once Nox was our brother; the best of us, chosen by Athos. The world cheered for him while we sat jealously to the sidelines. Now we are the only ones capable of pulling him back from the edge of the victory he has sought over 3000 years. Vinsanthius The Shimmering Blade 1st Child of Athos, Vondal Kildrak The Shield of Athos 44th Child of Athos, Valenae The Siren 91st Child of Athos, Oberon The Light of Athos 110th Child of Athos, Uruhua The Heartbleeder 146th Child of Athos, Anatolius The Azure Inferno 66th Child of Athos, and I, Simon Bloom The Labyrinth 19th Child of Athos, Demigod Pirate, The Prisoner in the Library, The Herald of the Storm, and the Storm that Walks are all that stands between Nox’s desires and the Realm of Athos.

We walked into the First Dungeon without a word to each other. Nekolaj and Behemoth: Kid mode had been waiting for us. Nekolaj grinned menacingly, “See you at the end.” he said. Before we knew it he ad Behemoth: Kid mode had already started running out of the massive chamber the Dungeon had created. Before we could chase after them the temperature dropped and the elaborate illusions of the First Dungeon grew out of nothingness.

“Go, don’t let them get away! I get the feeling this room will be easy for me.” Anatolius said as his flames rose. The brutal heat he gave off was a comfort as the temperature continued to drop and snow formed on the dungeon floor. Vinsanthius, Valenae, and Vondal knew he meant them and they ran after Nekolaj. The Dungeon’s first challenge roared into existence before 4 Demigods who were going to save the world.

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Session LXXIV: Last Chance
Chapter 74: Last Chance

Field Notes, Entry #38,980
-Nox

They came to Sysitar. I’m not sure how, but I suspect they’ve found the way into heaven. It still amazes me how resourceful they can be. Shocking what the power of the Urns can do. Stepping through the portal, I turn around my statue and see them. Beginning their trek into Sysitar, Uruhua holds the Lance of Mortality. For the first time, I see it with my own eyes. It was one thing to look into the Urn and see the weapon forged, another to see the final result. A strange metal, unlike one I’ve ever seen before. The symbol of the Urns wraps around it over and over again, enhancing the power within the weapon and binding it to its wielder. I’ve imagined destroying our father with this thousands of times over. For a moment I imagine an Uruhua who would’ve handed it to me. But she has been long gone.

“Leaving so soon?” I make my presence known. Shock, followed by anger on their faces. And fear. When I felt them coming to Sysitar, I decided this is the last chance for them to join me. I’m responsible for leading them to the Urns, for giving them this power. I deserve their gratitude. It would not hurt to gain more allies here for my new world. “What are you doing here?” My twin Anatolius barked at me. A stupid question. “What are you doing here?” I echo his question back at him. “We’re here to stop you.” Oberon spoke. I respond with a soft chuckle. “I’m not worried about you, but I want my Lance. Hand it over. And consider joining the winning side.” This request puts Oberon into a rage. “Oh yeah, sure. We came all this way to simply hand you the Lance of Mortality. No fucking way you son of a bitch. You should be worried about us, we’re going to put an end to you.” Talking to him was going nowhere. I should have known that Oberon would be the most true to Athos, blind to our father’s flaws. “Truly Oberon, in some ways it is you I fear the greatest. I worry your bias will sway the rest of you to make a poor decision.” A curious look appeared on their faces. I have once chance to sway them, now is the time.

“You can join me. Lay down your arms, hand over the Lance and stand by my side.” I give them a fair offer, no punishment for past deeds or words. They have played their role in my plan more than they have disrupted it, my ranks could accept them. Yet I was met with laughter. “Sure, we came here to join you asshole.” Again Oberon mocks me. I hold back my rage at the overzealous pixie. “Why would we ever join you?” Simon asks now. The wisest of them may be the most open minded. “My victory is imminent. Not only will I be triumphant, but I deserve to win.” Passion fills my voice. “Athos was weak, a fool.” My insult cuts Oberon. “How dare you insult our father? He created life, the world, and he chose you to be his successor! He made a mistake, he chose you. How dare you? How dare you insult our Father Athos?” I grit my teeth, confident. “Athos may have created the world, but what did he do with it? Nothing! All of mankind waited on Sysitar for his commands. Nothing changed, nothing evolved because Athos was the only driving force. I brought life to the rest of Athos’ world, forced them to leave the safety of this island, forced them to grow.” They don’t look convinced, ignoring the truth because it comes from me. “He is weak, you know it! He didn’t deserve to rule! Everything that exists now is because of my actions.” They’re not convinced. They still don’t see. “And you deserve to rule? All this chaos, all this destruction? Is this how the world looks under your order?” Uruhua asks. Why won’t they understand? “This is only the part I must play for now. Unite people through chaos. Once the world is mine…” Oberon cuts me off. “This world will never be yours.” He draws his mace with as much menace as a pixie can. I watch as each of my brothers and sisters beside him make the same mistake. Uruhua points my Lance at me. It seems they’ve made their choice. “Very well. If you won’t stand beside me in the new world, you’ll die protecting the old.”

Immediately, I can feel the Urn of Power flowing between all of us. Their strength is my strength, but I have mastered it where they are still learning. Alone, I would crush any single one of them. Even together, they don’t stand a chance against me. Uruhua’s telepathy lets them communicate without words, surely a strong advantage in most battles. But they forget that we are linked, and every thought they share is shared with me as well. I strike first, cutting through my twin Anatolius, blood gushing out from him. For a moment, I think that this battle will be over too soon, demigods falling like grain to the sickle. Until I feel Uruhua strike me from behind with the Lance of Mortality. The metal is cold, twisting and wrenching. I can feel it struggling to destroy me. I wheeze at the first strike, and brace for each subsequent one during the battle. I can hardly wait to strike down Athos with this weapon. It seems that true immortality does come with a price. We clash, with Anatolius and Uruhua struggling to follow my teleportations and Oberon & Simon Bloom causing havoc against my plans. Anatolius lands a lucky blow, knocking scales from my flawless armor. I rain down pain on all of them, but Oberon heals as quickly as I destroy. I remember the Light of Athos being useful in a fight, but with the power of the Urns he is nearly unstoppable. Until I drop him to the ground with a well placed Death Bolt. “I’ve had enough of you, Athosian.” With Oberon unconscious, I take hold on Anatolius’ mind and command him to hand me the Lance. I see fear and hate in his eyes as he is forced to comply, and their chances against me drop to nothing. Holding the Lance, I can feel it sync with me, a weapon for a god to destroy his father. A few minutes go by, and while Oberon is able to get back to his feet and keep his allies alive, I am destroying them. Glee consumes me, total victory is within view. After all these years… I hear them thinking about fleeing. That’s not an option, they failed to join me and now death is their only escape. I won’t allow them to join Athos in the final battle to come.

Suddenly, a change. The world around me gets hazy, and I can only hear Anatolius’ voice in my mind, whispering. Images flash in my head. My goals. My dreams. My plan. The First Dungeon, safely guarded by Nekolaj. Then Athos, falling against me and my Lance. Then, I’m snapped back to reality. “Hand the Lance to the tiny one, Nox.” His demand is absurd, what makes him think I’ll follow his wishes? I move to land a fist on his chin, but move in slow motion. I can’t strike him, the Lance of Mortality falls from my grasp. Oberon picks it up and places it within his bag, far from me. Anatolius’ spell ends on me, and I realize what I’ve done. A cry escapes my lips, “Nooooo!” I had the Lance in my hands, nothing could stop me. Now Anatolius has played my own trick back on me. The time for toying with them ends, and as my blows strike harder I can hear them planning to escape to keep the Lance from me. Simon Bloom finds the portal that I came through, and they prepare to run for it. Simon calls out to Vinsanthius, Uruhua, and Vondal urging them to run from the ship to the unopened portal. I will not allow them to escape. “You have plagued me for too long Simon.” I teleport behind him, and blast his life force from his body. The protective spells around him end, his body becomes visible and solid, and his shields around him disappear. He falls unconscious, and I gather my strength. “There will be no escape. Now, you die.” My sword plunges through his chest, and I feel an echo of pain from Uruhua. Immediately following comes a psychic blast, my world goes black.

I open my eyes, the world swimming around me. Damn! A mistake I shouldn’t have made twice. In my rage I had forgotten. Looking around, it seems I was one of the last to awaken. The portal is open, and only Anatolius and Uruhua remain, the Lance in Anatolius’ hand. He jumps through the portal, and I swipe at Uruhua. The halfling takes the blow in stride, rushes through the portal and it closes behind her. If they thought that would be enough to escape me, they were wrong. I follow, re-opening the portal and chase. I step through to a mountain, cold wind blowing against us. Another portal opens in the distance. Simon is dead now, I felt him die. Who among them can open a gate between planes besides The Labyrinth? I will discover soon enough once I catch them. They disappear into a portal ahead, closing it for me to reopen. Next, a dark cave with only the light of their third portal for me to follow. I’m catching up, but I still cannot see who is leading them. This next portal leads me to a desert. I’m closer. Another portal brings us under the sea, then into the open sky. I see them falling through the air, a strange purple humanoid leading them. Who is this ally? The creature opens a portal midair, holding it open from the other side to let the demigods through. Uruhua’s ankle is in my reach, and I stretch but miss as she disappears into the portal. I try to re-open the rift, but nothing is there as I continue to fall. I teleport to give it a second pass, then a third, a fourth, a fifth. The rift that was once there is gone. I can sense the Lance still, in another plane. But it’s location keeps moving, I can’t track it. “They couldn’t have made it to the Heavens already, could they?” A question to no one, with no answer. My timeline is running tighter. This was their last chance to join me. Next time we meet, I’ll kill them all. It seems I’ll have to handle this final step without the Lance, for now.

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Session LXXIII: A Slow Ride Through the Fog(hat)
Chapter 73: A Slow Ride

From the personal diaries and journals of Lenore Uruhua, the Heartbleeder

The brow of the ship cut through the choppy waters near the coast of Sysitar. We could start to see the rocky shore near morning, though our destination, an ancient village harbor, remained undetectable against the muted colours of the craggy backdrop. It wasn’t until midday when we realized that the morning mists had yet to dissipate, and had actually thickened as we approached the coast line.

It was sudden, a thunderhead of black fog rolling across the frothy whitecaps, sucking up light and sound as it approached, enveloping us in an inky darkness that all but blocked out the sun. I watched by brother Anatolious sliding down the mizzenmast, his sword in hand and a glow with blue fire, as the dark fog seemed to suck the very light from the flames. Simon was just next to me, and as I looked up to his face, I could see him mouth the words: “Vile magics!” as he readied his own weapon and prepared his arcane energy for battle, but I could not hear him, the fog was so thick.

Our ship was soon engulfed in the inky blackness, and though we were still being tossed about by increasingly choppy seas, I would swear upon the Light of my Father that we were adrift in the pitch black well of space. The moments stretched into eons, waiting, watching, ready for an ambush. In seconds that seemed to stretch into hours, tendrils of fog crept over the sides, and began to pool at our feet. From these noxious pools, forms began to emerge; dread golems of pure fog, shedding gaseous ichor took heavy steps towards us, searching for the warmth in our blood, seeking to take us beneath the waves as corpses.

The creatures were wicked, and fought like so many gladiators I have faced: the assault was without reserve, they kept nothing back, and feared no reprisal. Though easy, one might think, it would be to take advantage of a combatant with no defensive mind, it took complete concentration to avoid their onslaught. In my haste to try and cut them down, I was struck to my core by a viscous tendril of dark fog. I was cut so deep, I felt my very soul slipping free of my mortal flesh. It is only by grace of my most faithful brother Oberon that I lived to transcribe these events. He raised my spirits and my stamina, and returned me to the fight.

It unfolded in bitter seconds that seemed to drag on into hours, but at last the final specter succumbed to our steel and spells. We patched our sails and tightened the rigging, and made the last few hours of headway into the ruined harbor before us.
We did the best we could with the rotted and decrepit docks, and stuck the ship fast by anchor before Oberon, Anatolious, Simon, and myself went ashore. The dark sand crunched in ominous ways as we approached that blasphemous idol of my fallen sibling, Nox; a massive obsidian statue erected in his visage. We took inventory of persons and affects, and as we prepared to begin our trek to the fortress of my most diseased brother, he himself emerged from the shadows of his tainted effigy.

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Session LXXII: Joy and Sorrow
Chapter 72: Joy and Sorrow

The waves bashed the ash planks of the Rathkarian Bladerunner, whose black sales flapped and shuttered with the power of the wind blowing west along the Corvasian causeway. The shipping lane, typically aflow with the southern trade were bare of vessels. Occasional planks, bloated corpses and feasting sharks were examined from far off but rumour bore more eggs than truth. Soon the men were speaking of ill curses and travel slowed.

In the halls of Oberon the tiny demigod sat atop a gently lit lantern, warmed against the molten wax. The proud entry of Anatolius signaled the meeting would begin without hesitancy. The dance begun, Simon briskly demanded,

“We should sale west to Harker and the Isle of Bloom. Rally and go forward.”

“Approved.”

“Approved.”

“Approved.”

So on.

Anatolius flicked his fingers and the flame around Oberon flashed a sickly iridescent black then mellowed into cool blue. Perspiration an impedance and ultimately another nuisance, the meeting broke and the ship sailed west amongst a hot sun and open sea.


The dawn broke after two weeks and one day of sailing the Causeway. Stock was depleted and only by rationing the collective culinary magics remaining did the crew avoid desperate scurvy. Two lads and a gentleman soldier writing in a small handbook missed a harsh squall which blew the ship’s said off rope, sending the two on the sail and the poor gentleman overboard. The boys survived, but the soldier’s back was shattered and he drowned face down in the waves, where he remained. An heir, another said, some great soldier in Alara, an exile once from the Sovereign himself. Another, Anatolius remarked, remarkable in feat and courage and unequivocally doomed from inception. A song yet to be written, Simon suggested, but no bard in sight.

The Twin Towers of Magdalena, holding off in the distance stood raised, with a spiked wreath upon the Southernmost entrance to the Carreon Bay and to the west, the port and the Citadel.

Gunshot rang out and struck portside the lead ship, bearing the flag of Titan’s Hold, An Icy Castle wreathed in gold. Stepping upon the prow then, Anatolius raised his voice high to the stars and struck down upon the tower a thunderous reply in no way equal to such pitiful shot. So Anatolius lectured as the ships gracefully approached shore. The impeccable wrath struck deep into the hearts of the soldati magnificari of the Carreonean guard, high in authority and power within the kingdom who stood now upright in organized fashion awaiting the disembarkment of their harasser, the Azure Inferno approached them and inspected silently from his first step onto shore the party of 30 veteran archers, pikeman, and canoneers.

Finally stopping at the Leader of the Regiment, denoted by his blue sash equally to his pitiful shaking.

Anatolius stopped and starred at the top of the man’s clanking helmet until he looked up and met eyes before turning and in a pitched and broken shout exclaimed for the two nearby men to lower the gate. Then turned and ran.


The celebration was extraordinary. The pink ballroom of the art d’exotique d’Carreon, fringed in pearl and gold twinkled in elegance Riccard had not seen for nearly 400 years. The silver polished and drink fine. It was an emptying as much as it was a joyous moment. Their lives remained lively and their power looked consolidated. The weapon, away now, made its presence felt. Excstatic revelry and delight at the highest levels.

And yet Anatolius felt unwell for this.

Riccard, who had made the mortal mistake in Anatolius’ mind. To mingle in the affairs of the Athosian peoples as a ruler. Hippocrite and mongrel, Riccard had hurled at him in Anatolius’ Defamation Hearing after the war. The War trials exclaimed Anatolius, as Stadtholder of the Emirate of the Isla De Corvaca, legalized the authoritative rulership of Demigods over Athosian races in a controlled manner if they so sought such power legally and within the rules of the Conclave. Anatolius, feeling it a second betrayal after the war, never let it sit well.

Filled with their feasting the well-dressed citizens and lords of court retired slowly and the demigods began to fall into a gentle rest. Anatolius sat high above the joy and the counting and looked west, towards Sysitar, and something unsettling in his stomach. His head ached and he sought sleep in the ship cabin as the dawn gently crept over the city, soon to be abandoned to the wilder ambitions of the Athosian peoples.


Harker greeted us with an impassioned swig of Moonale and Sea-salted Whisky that tasted more like brine than a whisky ought to. The pirate, chiefly responsible for the slow redevelopment of the Causeway in which no man, woman, child or knick knack, hay-copper, or clean sock was spared. The king of the sea stood tall and ambitous. Made to live many beyond a hundred years, his time was to be long. In Simon’s eyes, the blue eyed sailor from the South seas was the ultimate culmination of his enterprise. Happiness and a family. To the remainder of the Demigods, clearly it was also his recklessness.

“I will join you, again on the seas with such a class of men and fighters. It will be a reaving holiday with the finest adventurers a man has or will ever know. In all these thousand years I have nor will I ever know such as you again. It is a gift to learn from your strengths. Uruhua, the bold and a sailor amongst all others. Simon, my forefather, the skill of cunning and manhood, truly, I am emboldened by you. Oberon, the light of the lord Athos is without parallel. In these trying times of Religion it is reassuring to the faith of men that you remain as you are in the stories. And Anatolius, though your wrath does not escape me, I honour your combat and strength. Your skill as a leader and warrior are certain and I learn much. Someday we shall find our fun together, I think in future stories. But now, let me come. I yearn for greater purpose.”

“No,” Simon spoke with pride, “if you come you will die. It is certain. Stay, be well. Reduce your reaving. You must embark on greater things too. You rule from this crowning bungalow made of sand and stone. The Sea is your true house, your ship your citadel. Be well and keep your people in your heart and your crewmates to your soul.”

Then it was Oberon then who spoke.

“It is now for us to break ties as well and make this decision. Now we head west to Sysitar. To the place that was assumed. To the heart of the matter and the center of Nox. To do such an exploration, we must trim the party.”

Uruhua motioned to Anatolius, Simon, Oberon, Vinsanthius, Vondal, and Valynae.

Spirit fuel.

The Ties that bind.

We go, we go together. Into the deeper darkness.


Looming in the distance were the mountains of the Eastern Naxosian plains. Their beauty is gone now. Shrouded by smog and burning. Ancient magic gone awry and made inhospitable. I recall a beach once near hear, marked by the peak of Athos Redemptrox passed in the early morning. Perhaps here? No, there was coral, and a tropic. Atolls out where now there are rough seas. I will never see that place ever again.

A squall from the east and there it loomed like a bird of doom. Amorphous black fog, Trembling and cracking with the screams and contorted bodies hurled forward from the shore rapidly; the Foegue. Hovering souls, fused together by the power of the Reckoning and trapped in Sysitar. In fright, the helmsman jumped into the black waters. Massive manta rays, like cows to grass slowly devoured him as he drowned below the waves.

Now upon the ship, we readied ourselves for a battle. A foe of our ultimate creation, if only we had stopped him then, not now. Our powers had laid the board upon which the game played. We the pieces, absent the hands.

That was how we began our long entry onto Sysitar.

-Anatolius, From long ago

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