Rise of Tiamat

After Grond Fell
Sometimes the worst does happen

Grond dropped to the floor, dead having plunged a dagger deep inside. The party was shocked, not a sound escaped their lips as they saw this warrior take his own life. They hadn’t heard the struggle in his mind, they didn’t know his pain, but in that brief instant, they felt a loss so profound, it almost broke them. LeShanna knew she had seen him gain control, at least in part, at the end of the fight. She had hopped that she would be able to help him fight Kas, free himself from the sword and its influence, and go on to fight many more battles. She was in shock and felt her emotions boil up inside. She had always trained to master these emotions, channel them and use them in battle. You should never let your emotions control you, but in that instant, it was like a dam bursting and she could not stop the flood.

LeShanna fell to her knees, dropping her axe, arms hanging limply at her side, and she started to cry. Not a wailing cry, or sobs, but simple tears running unabated down her face as she sat there, unable to move in her grief. The rest of the party turned and the sight of the towering elven warrior, the one who had always been the rock in the midst of the storm, the woman who had looked a green dragon in the eye without fear or concern and killed him where he stood, was crying. It was as if they were seeing tears come from a stone.

In that moment, the Metallic dragons that still patrolled the skies above Waterdeep bellowed a roar of pain and loss. They sensed the pain and loss somehow, though they were not linked to anyone. Sylina had never had to deal with such deep emotion. She had landed the blow that had seemingly killed the monster Grond had become, only to see LeShanna heal him and he take his own life. She didn’t know how to react; this wasn’t something she really understood or could deal with effectively. It was, unsettling. Seeing LeShanna cry further unnerved her and all she knew to do was to place her hand on her shoulder and be there for her friend.

The others quietly respected her pain, whispering to each other and trying to understand the events of the past few minutes. Tessa and Balefire helped Linara up as Quinn watched with a reserve that was unusual for the elf. After a few minutes that seemed like hours, LeShanna stood and went to Grond’s body, lifting him in her arms. She took him into the council chamber and laid his body on the large table, as if he were only sleeping. Slowly, she turned to Tessa

“Tessa, I do not wish to presume upon you,” LeShanna said, her voice wavering, betraying the deep emotion she was still feeling, “but could you please do me the favor of calling upon Kelemvor to help guide Grond to his wife and child?”

Tessa answered, “Of course, it my duty, no matter what I personally feel.” While Tessa personally felt he was wrong to make his close friends witness the taking of his own life, the act itself something she considered wrong at its core, she felt his life, service to the party, and the times he had helped keep her alive deserved her interceding on his behalf. Also, what sort of chosen of Kelemvor would she be if she did not have mercy for those she felt had died wrongly. She began to pray in the singsong language of the Doomguides, calling upon Kelmvor to help guide this lost soul home. In that moment, her mind was opened and she saw what was next for her. Kelemvor allowed her to see a small glimpse of a future that boggled her mind, one filled with laughing children and a place where none were turned away.

As Tessa continued to pray in the council chamber, Balefire removed the Sword of Kas from the wall, placing in the sheath he had retrieved from the floor where it had fallen. He was very careful as he had no desire to be the next victim of this tainted blade. What little he knew of the legend stated this sword could not be destroyed by anything less than what it had just destroyed, the eye and hand of Vecna. It was definitely a problem to be puzzled out. Balefire placed the scabbarded sword in his bag, knowing it was up to him to put it in a safe place. He had a feeling it was like most other artifacts. It seemed, no matter how hard you tried to eliminate them from the worlds, these items somehow always found their way back into someone’s unsuspecting hands. He decided to hold onto this sword until he could think about it at greater length. Today was not the day to do that. It was too… hard to think right now.

As the prayer ended, LeShanna approached Balefire.

“Balefire, is there any way you could transport me and Grond’s body to Mulmaster?” Leshanna asked. “It is or was Grond’s home, where his family is located, and where Caysst is entombed. I know he would want to be returned there to be placed along side of his wife.”

Balefire took a deep breath; he was so tired after the events of the day. “I might be able to do that if someone has a scroll with a teleportation spell for Mulmaster,” he said. “Without that, it will be tomorrow morning at the earliest before I could planeshift us.”

“Who’s shifting where?” Sylina asks in her typical straightforward way. When LeShanna explains what she wants to do, Sylina flatly states, “You’re not going anywhere without me!” Before long, all in the party have made similar statements, not wishing for any to make the trip without them.

“We all need to pay our respects to him and his family,” says Linara, still rubbing the side of her head where Grond had struck her.

One by one, everyone agreed that it was only fitting that they all go to explain to Grond’s family the events since his arrival at Waterdeep. Each, for their own reason, wanted to pay their respects and honor his contribution to saving the world from Tiamat and Vecna.

A voice from the door asks, “What has happened here?” Laural slowly makes her way into the council chamber, followed by members of the city watch. Slowly, the party tells her of their trip to Dracosee’ere, finding Mystra’s tomb and spellbook, and having it stolen by Rath Modar. When they described the changes to Rath while using the Eye and Hand, she shook her head sadly.

“I suppose something similar happened to him?” She gestures weakly to Grond’s body, “I was worried this might happen. Sentient artifacts, especially evil ones, are dangerous to wield. I was certain Tessa would fall prey to her sword at one point. I am quite happy she didn’t, but that is not the normal course of events. While I count us lucky to have only lost one of your number, it still saddens me.”

Looking the party over, she sensed the feeling of loss and pain from the party as they had to deal with an issue they had never faced before, the loss of one of their own.
“I will place a guard on this room and have the priests of Kelemvor and Bahamut come prepare his body. There is nothing more you can do tonight and we all need rest. Tomorrow morning, I will send word to the Zhentarim ambassador when he arrives back in town and help send you all to Mulmaster. I wish that I could come as well, but we are still deling with the political and social upheaval those damn cultists caused.” She said. “Go Rest as you are able and I will send you tomorrow myself.”

The party slowly made their way to the landing where the castle was waiting. Each said their goodnights and went slowly to their rooms. Not many would sleep well tonight, but at least they might rest. LeShanna went to the room Grond had been using for the few short weeks he was with them. One of the kobolds, not knowing what had occurred, had lit a small fire in the hearth of his room. She began to gather his things by the flickering light and pack them into his bundle. He didn’t bring much, Grond never had travelled with many personal effects. LeShanna had slipped off the eye patch Grond had worn, she didn’t really understand why, but she sat staring at it for a while. The only other item she had taken from his body to pack was the small crystal door knob. She held it in her hand and watched the fire reflect in the facets. It was in this silent contemplation that a light knock on the door startled her, something that rarely occurred, and Linara joined her in the room.

She told LeShanna, “You did the right thing by reviving Grond and giving him a chance. The others may not have understood, but I saw a glimpse of Grond before I went down. Grond looked right at me and he held back on the last blow as much as he could. I am grateful for that.” Linara went on, “LeShanna, life can be a difficult journey after watching your spouse die, but Grond is finally at peace with his family. Your actions allowed him to leave this life with a clear conscience and move on. Linara told her of her awareness that Grond had taken back control in the last seconds of the fight, and that I know he purposefully twisted the sword so I would survive the blow.”

“Grond was like that,” Leshanna replied. “It’s like this door knob he always carried, I can’t remember if he told you the story of how he came by it. He always had a soft spot for children and one day a child asked if he could hire his help. What the child needed wasn’t really important but he offered Grond his most precious possession, this large “diamond” as payment. Grond cared for the child and took the payment to keep from dishonoring the child. He always kept this as a reminder to help where he could,” LeShanna continued, tears welling up in her eyes once again. “I can’t stop wondering if there were more I could have done, some action I could have taken, that would have stopped these events from ever taking place.”

“Life is not something you can direct LeShanna,” mused Linara from beside the door. “It is not a battle you can direct. You can’t give it orders, nor can you stop its passing anymore than you could stop the ocean waves from crashing to the shore.” She walked over and placed a hand on LeShanna’s shoulder and said, “He made his choice and in the end, he chose to protect us at the cost of his own life. That was his decision, not yours and you can do nothing to change that now. So lift up that head ‘soldier’ and let us prepare for tomorrow. Worrying about what is past will never change the future.”

With that, Linara helped LeShanna finish packing the few remaining things and they went to their rooms to rest as they could until tomorrow.

The next morning, the heroes were gathered by the entrance to the council chambers, preparing to gather Grond’s body for transport when a clamor arose outside the Castle of Splendors. Dreading another fight, they ran outside, weapons drawn, to see a mountain of a man, clad in formal ornamental breastplate and a green and black tartan kilt. While shorter than Grond by a few inches, he is broader and has a bestial cast to his features. His face is disturbing to look at. Grond was an unattractive man. General Ogrekin, his father, makes him look attractive by comparison. He is surrounded by 50 of the toughest soldiers the party had ever seen and two people that had the look of high ranking wizards. The guards tell the group that this mass of armed men just appeared here. At that moment the Leader, steps forward, tilting his head to the side a bit as he approaches LeShanna. He holds out his hand and says to LeShanna, “ I am General Drathar Ogrekin, Gronds father. You must be LeShanna Nailo. Our son told us of your deeds in trying to rescue the citizens of Phlan as it fell to the Maimed Virulence. He spoke of you with great honor and demanded to be the one to come and unmask the traitor in your midst. I assume he fell into trouble and lost his life, which is why we are here. We have come to reclaim my son and take him to rest with his ancestors in Sengir Keep. Can I see him?”

The party took the General inside where a shroud covered form was lying in state in the council chamber. The General walked up to the body of his son, placing his hand on his son’s head, a single tear cascading down his cheek. Time passed as he stood there, saying nothing and only staring. After a while, he walked back to the party. LeShanna was a bit unsure of how to start when

A thin half-elf stepped forward and lowered her hood. “I am Linara Greystone,” she said somberly. “I am sorry for your loss.”

Linara moved back to allow the others to pay their respects. Grond’s father had given her little more than the barest of passing glances. She should have realized, should have remembered. At Aramis’ funeral, it took all her strength to simply exist. No doubt Grond’s parents, would noticed nothing but their own pain.

“I am Sylina Earthwanderer,” said a female halfling, extending her hand and eyes up, up, up. “Your son was a true warrior.”

Grond’s father silently nodded in acknowledgment and looked to LeShanna. “My son spoke highly of you and your honor. I was hoping to meet you someday, but not like this. Not like this…” he trailed off looking back toward the body of his son.

“I am….” sorry….so sorry….it’s my fault” ….that was what LeShana wanted to say, but couldn’t. She couldn’t get any words out. Even if she could…to say them out loud would make it too real. “I…., um, let me start from when Grond saved us from the traitor.”
LeShanna began the story of what had happened after Grond’s arrival, the fight with Tiamat, the sword she couldn’t get him to drop, the loss of the eye and hand of Vecna, the search for the spellbook, and the final fight with Grond. She left nothing out, but told the truth as she knew it, even as it seemed to damn her with her own words.

After the tale was finished, the General shakes his head saying “Grond never could stay out of trouble for long. I am beginning to believe the boy was cursed from birth, no matter what his Granny says.”

The General looks around at all of the party and says, “As Grond’s friends and battle companions, I invite you to accompany me back to Sengir Keep for the burial ceremony. The rest of the family will be in attendance as well as others of high reputation. They will want to meet those who Grond trusted. I know his mother will want to great each of you. I do need to warn you though,” he says, quickly looking over the party, but lingering a while on Tessa’s Holy Symbol of Kelemvor, “Grond may not have had a chance to tell all of you of the special nature of his Granny.”

“You mean, how she is an undead lich, directly in opposition to my faith and beliefs?” stated Tessa, stony faced, fighting hard to hold back her disgust.

“Um, yes, that would be it. I can understand if you would rather..” started General Ogrekin

Tessa interrupts him, “I know about her and while it galls me, I can keep the peace for a time, out of respect for Grond’s memory and my friends.”

The general looks at Tess and then at the rest of the party and states, “I can see clearly why Grond chose to fight along side all of you. I know I would hate to be on the opposite side of the field from you, that is certain.
It is time to go.”

The honor guard that accompanied the general forms around the party, with Grond’s shrouded body carried on a large shield bearing the crest of the Zhentarim in front of them, the wizards in the party weaved their spells around them and in the blink of the eye, they left the sunny coastal town of Waterdeep and found themselves in the gray, ominous skies of the Moonsea region.

The courtyard of Sengir Keep was crowded with people- A full squadron of soldiers dressed in Zhentarim military uniforms in perfect ranks . As the party came into view, an officer called them to attention. They all saluted, as if Grond had returned alive and they were showing their respect for his rank. A trio of soldiers to the side began playing a low mournful song on bagpipes, a traditional dirge common to the Inner Sea lands. At the front of the group stood two figures, the first is was a woman with pale blonde hair starting to fade to white. Already pale, her face whitened as she saw her son come into view. She wore simple but well- made black clothing and a mourner’s veil, which was certain to have been hiding free-flowing tears at the moment. Beside her the second figure seemed to radiate a sense of unease, possibly even dread despite being quite small and thin. Covered head to toe in heavy black robes with a matching opaque veil, it was impossible tell much about her appearance. However, as the wind blew the veil against her face, it was easy to note a skull-like outline. This was none other than Grandmother Sengir, Grond’s beloved granny.
As the party moved forward, the General held out his arm to the woman. By way of introduction, he says, “This is Grond’s mother and my wife, Thenatia" She bows her head in greeting and while it is softly spoken, she gives the group a muffled greeting. She quickly moves to Grond’s body. She gently caresses his shrouded cheek with one hand and sobs. Similar to the brief moments after his fall, the party stands by, saying nothing, as they watch a mother’s grief exposed and raw for all to see and know. After a few moments’ the General moves up beside her and places his large arms around her, holding her close as they both morn their son.

The party stands silently, paying respects to the family as they walk Grond to the chapel just ahead. Beside the chapel is a large mausoleum, where it is clear Grond will be laid to rest. Suddenly the party is startled by the silent approach of Grandmother Sengir. She looks at the party, slowly moving her eyes across each of the party.

She says, “So this is the group Grond left home and hearth to fight along side,” a hint of disdain in her voice. “I know each of you well, thanks to Grond. I hated to trick him as I did, but I wished to keep a track of my favorite. The eye patch he wore was also a scrying focus. It is how I knew to send his father to reclaim the body so quickly. Out of respect for Grond, I will hold my peace as I am sure you will as well, but I wish to speak with all of you after the ceremony and before the feast in his, and your honor.” She then glided off, possibly flying across the ground toward the chapel.

The party looks to each other and shrugs a bit, caught off guard by the frankness of the lich, but understanding there would be no fight this day. They approached the chapel and made their way inside. A priest of Bane and surprisingly a priest of Kelemvor that LeShanna instantly recognizes as Doomguide Yovir Glandon from Phlan, Cassyt’s mentor and friend. Sitting in the front row is a Knight, who looks a lot like Aleyd Burral and Ector Brahms, the former Lord regent of Phlan. LeShanna is distracted by this, but the memorial then starts. First the priest of Bane performs his ritual, then the Doomguide stands and speaks of Grond’s adventures in Phlan and how it was only by his and Cassyt’s help that he survived, telling of how Grond snuck back into Phlan one last time and found him, almost dead, deep in the catcombs under the keep. He speaks of how happy he was to participate in the wedding of Cassyt and Grond, only to be struck by grief so soon. He talked on about how Grod was consumed with hatred and was planning a one man assalt on the cult when he learned of a chance to go to Waterdeep and reunite with his good friend and fighting companion, LeShanna Nailo. Granny had evidently done as she said and passed the information on because the Doomguide continued to speak of the events of the fall of Tiamat and the discovery of Dracosee-ere and Grond’s final sacrifice. He spoke of duty and honor, family and friends, love and lives lost. He finished by saying, “While many may never understand why Grond did as he did at the end, and some may never fully forgive him, we all still owe him a debt as he understood that the only thing he had left to give in the defense of the lives for which he cared, was his own life. Let that be our memory of him.”

With that, the honor guard carried the shield into the mausoleum and laid the shield on a platform beside another shrouded body. After the guards retreated, the platform began to lower into the ground and was soon covered by a cap of black stone that shined with a brilliance that was almost miraculous. Tessa turned her head and saw Balefire wiggling his fingers and talking under his breath with a smile on his face. Evidently, he decided the event needed some pizzazz. After this, the group was escorted to the heart of Sengir Keep and give rooms together. A dinner celebrating Grond’s life and friends was planned for the evening, but for now, the family wanted time alone. The group was gathered together in Sylina’s sitting room when there was a knock on the door.

The door opened and Granny Sengir “floated” in as there was no other way to describe how she seemed to glide silently across the floor.

“I wanted to have a word with all of you concerning your actions and Grond’s life,” she says, her eyes peaking above the veil covering the lower half of her face. “I wear this veil out of respect for Grond and how you fought at his side, though it pains me a bit to do so. I am not used to ‘acquiescing’ to anyone,” she says with a bit of sarcasm in her voice. “Each of you fought well and deserve much honor and though it is hard for you to believe, know that I am not your normal ‘evil’ lich. I am not seeking to turn others into undead or corrupt life. I started that way, I must admit, but age has a way of helping you see what really matters most. My goal now is to protect my family and help them achieve great things,” she says as she looks over all of the party. While I know that doesn’t really change your view of me,” she says as she looks at Tessa, “know that I am not your enemy, not at the moment anyway.”
Tessa looks like she wants to retort, but true to her word, she bites her tongue and holds the peace.

“All of you were well liked by Grond,” she continues. “As such, I want to extend to each of you an honor and gift.”

Suddenly, a bag appears in her hand, startling everyone and she reaches in and brings out a small box plated in silver. She hands it to Sylina and tells her “This is what Grond promised you. Open it.”

Sylina slowly opens the box and inside are ten of the most beautiful snickerdoodles Sylina has ever seen. She takes one out and starts to eat but Granny holds up a finger to stop her.

“These are not your ordinary everyday Snickerdoodles. They are my own recipe, “she says, a hint of a laugh in her voice. “These have restorative powers. They can remove diseases, curses, and poisons from your system. They can also heal damage to your body. That is not all. The box containing them is magic. Every two ten days, the cookies will replenish back to a total of six. Now go ahead and taste.”

Sylina takes a bite and her eyes open wide and a smile breaks over her face. It’s easy to tell she would run forward and hug granny, if she weren’t a lich that was…
Granny reaches into the bag and hands everyone an identical box. Everyone looks in and sees identical cookies. It isn’t long before everyone has a mouthful of cookie and feeling much better than they had moments before.

Granny looks to LeShanna and says, “You fought by his side more than the others and I saw through his patch as you argued with him concerning the cursed sword. You truly cared for him as a brother and he for you as a sister. You blame yourself for his death. Stop it. You do him a dishonor by thinking that you in someway could have prevented him from making the choices he made. It was his choice to bond the sword, his choice to fight Vecna, and his choice to take his own life. You could not have prevented him from choosing any of it and it was not and is not your responsibility. His respected for you and what I saw of you though his eye patch is good enough for me. You still hold that eye patch. I want you to know that I have have broken the scrying link attached to that item, however I have left intact an alerting spell that comes directly to me. Should you ever find yourself or your compatriots in true need of assistance, no matter how great, speak your name and ask for me and I will send you all the help I can, including myself should the situation arise.”

Granny then looks over all of you and says, “You were his friends, and in many ways, his family. For whatever it is worth, you have my thanks and appreciation for helping him find the end he needed. While I dread death for myself, I am glad he found the rest of the grave and hope he is finally happy again. For him I believe death isn’t an ending, but only the end of the beginning” Granny then bows her head to each member of the party in turn and then leaves the room in silence.

Later that evening, after the feasting is complete, the guests and family sat around telling stories of their adventures and of Grond. They asked LeShanna to tell of their time in Phlan. LeShanna tells of Grond’s adventures, of meeting Cassyt in the catacombs and instantly being taken with her because she didn’t think he looked horrible. She described how they were fighting street toughs and giving Grond advice on where to take her for a date the next day. LeShanna almost laughed when she told of finding him in the twilight marsh, running for his life from the Lizard People’s self styled king as he was trying to rescue Caysst from their island in the marsh.

Doomguide Glandon took up the stories stories telling of his rescue and Grond’s escorting of refugees to Mulmaaster. Other members of the party tell their favorite Grond stories well into the night. In a lull in the stories, General Ogerkin starts to introduce Knight Aleyd Burral and Ector Brahms to the party, but Aleyd interrupts him to say, “LaShanna Nailo, the last time I saw you, I was dying.” This of course leads to the story of the fall of Phlan and how LeShanna and Grond, along with several others, saved so many lives as Phlan fell to the ancient Green Dragon, Vorgansharax, the Maimed Virulence. LeShanna actually acts embarrassed by all of the attention and tries to steer the conversation away from those events by talking about how Tessa had faced down a half-dragon named Resmir, not once, but twice, and how Sylina stood up to a Blue Half Dragon named Cyanwrath.

The General listens for a while but interrupts, takes on a serious look and says, “As you may know, we here in the Moonsea region were not hit as hard by the cult as most of the Sword Coast. This is because the Maimed Virulence and his iron clawed rule of the northern coast, including the remains of Zhentil Keep kept most of the cult at bay. It is roumored he has a Black and a white dracolich with him as well.”

Lord Ector Brahms speaks at this point saying, “Now that Tiamat has fallen and the main body of the cult is in disarray, we are starting a plan for an assault on Plan. We want to wrest it from the control of the dragon and make it habitable for people of the Moonsea region once again. We won’t be ready for quite some time, but we were wondering if all of you would be interested in leading our efforts to take back the city?”

Before any in the party can speak, Ector Brahms continues, “We don’t need your commitment now, just keep in touch with us and we will let you know when we are closer to being ready for the fight. It won’t be fast or easy, and it definitely won’t be fun, but in the end it will be good to rid this world of that dragon. Think on it and when we are prepared, you can tell us if you want to help with The Reclamation of Phlan.”
To be Continued….?

View
Quiet Time

Quiet Time

It was quiet. A rare treat among this group of adventurers. Tessa rose earlier than the others for precisely that reason. She would use the time to prepare herself for the battle ahead.

Tessa spread a small rectangular cloth on the cold stone floor. She knelt on the cloth and set a great sword in front of it. Harziwan, her blade. The evil sword she had brought from darkness to light. It now shone with a new brightness. Although she had been the one to wield the sword, Tessa could not take credit for this accomplishment. Her god, Kelemvor, had simply used her as a vessel.

Now she prayed to this god for courage and strength during battle. Kelemvor was the god of death and he had saved Tessa from certain death all those years ago. She had vowed to serve him in return and had been a good and faithful servant. Her quest was complete. All that was left was to assist her companions on their quest to prevent the return of Tiamat.

As she sat in silent contemplation, a rough-looking man walked through the narrow stone arch. He made it halfway across the courtyard before noticing Tessa in a secluded corner. He turned and quietly began retracing his steps back out.

“There is no need to leave, Quinn,” Tessa said calmly. “Kelemvor will hear my prayers whether I am alone or in the company of others.”

“Didn’t mean to disturb you. Just looking for a little quiet.”

“You have found it.”

Quinn returned to his original path and stopped at a stone bench across from Tessa. He laid back and stretched out lazily, looking up at the open, magically produced “sky”. He pulled out a crystal dagger and began polishing it.

“Your new weapon,” she said. “Will it work as well as your poisoned arrows?”

“There’s not much that works as well as my poisoned arrows, but it is a pretty little dagger,” he said lightly.

“Would your poison work on a blade?”

“Not that blade,” he said, looking at Harziwan. “Wouldn’t like to try it on something sentient.”

Tessa nodded.

“Kelemvor has told me my quest is complete. You and I have both achieved our missions in this world. It is something to be thankful for.”

Quinn mindlessly tossed the dagger from hand to hand. “Mission?”

“I understood your mission was to kill the half-dragon Resmir.”

He sat up abruptly, letting the crystal dagger fall to the ground with a clank. “No,” he said, his voice turning hard and serious. “That was not a mission. That was an honor. A great honor to avenge the deaths of my men. They were good and loyal men, all of them, and none deserved to die like that.”

“I understand. You have truly paid a fine tribute to their lives.”

“I did what I could, but they deserved more.”

“There is nothing more fitting than to serve. Your men served you well, as I have served Kelemvor. Like your men, I am prepared to make the final sacrifice if necessary.”

Quinn snorted derisively. “You may be, but I’m not. I’ve still got a lot of living left to do.” He picked up the dagger and began toying with it again. “Don’t get me wrong. I’m certainly happy to provide worthy sacrifices to the god of death, but I’ll be damned if one of them is me.”

Tessa smiled serenely.

“We shall see. Kelemvor gets what Kelemvor wants.”

She closed her eyes and held her arms out to the side, palms up.

“If you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a little pre-battle ritual myself.” Quinn pulled a metal flask from his pocket. “And you might want to pray to Tymora while you’re at it. We sure could use the luck.”

View
Linara and the Blue Gem

Linara and the Blue Gem

Unbelievable….completely unbelievable….

If she’d had a hand, she would have used it to smack herself in the forehead. But she didn’t have a hand. She had a paw. Because she was a bear. And not only was she a bear, but she was pretty much the worst bear ever.

Linara shook her head. A brown bear. A giant brown bear and she couldn’t even hit a wizard two feet in front of her. She missed. A wizard. A wimpy wizard. He half fainted at the sight of her transforming into a bear, and she still couldn’t hit him.

As these frustrating thoughts rushed through her mind, all her companions saw was a bear up on its hind legs, growling and pawing at the air. She could hear them talking, about who was going to heal her (since she’d also been brought to near death by green dragon’s breath), who was going to waste a spell to help her. The bear growled. She was not cut out for this. She was not an adventurer. She was a drain on the party’s resources.

“I’ve found something,” said LeShana. “Look in here.”

The party followed the towering elf into a room that appeared to be a library. The bear’s dark brown eyes lit up at the sight of all those books, but she was too weak to return to her normal half-elf body. Of course she still retained her intelligence while in bear form, but not the dexterity (or the hands) to open the book first.

As the group searched the room, Linara noticed several perfectly round gems scattered atop the bookcases. They were each a different color and very pretty. As she moved closer, Linara heard a faint high-pitched humming emanating from the gems. They were also glowing. Did no one else notice this?

One gem in particular seemed to glow brighter than the others. Linara looked directly at this blue gem and felt a sudden pull, an irrational desire to be close to it. Unfortunately it was on the top shelf and she couldn’t reach it. The bear’s natural instinct would have been to scale the shelves with its claws and likely bring the whole library crashing down. Not a good idea. Linara knew she’d have to be smart about it.

The bear began growling. No one noticed. The bear growled louder and stood on its hind legs. Everyone was too busy searching for treasure to notice. It raked its paw across a low shelf, knocking over several books. LeShana turned toward the mess and addressed the bear.

“Something wrong Linara?”

Finally! Not only was LeShana an exacting archer, but she had a fair bit of intelligence as well. She should figure it out. The bear lifted its head and extended a paw upwards. LeShana scanned the shelf and noticed a blue gem (which was not glowing for her). She climbed the footstool and was just about to reach out to touch it when she stopped and waved her hand over it. If the bear could have smiled, it would have. Linara was very proud her non-wizard companion had remembered to magically check the stone before picking it up.

LeShana stepped down and held the blue gem out in her open palm. The bear placed its paw on top of it.

The light in the room dimmed considerably and took on a grayish-blue hue, as though a giant had blown cigar fumes into the library. It was still the library, wasn’t it? Hard to tell. The bear could still see the books and the shelves and the other adventurers, but they all looked different…smaller and far away, somewhat distorted. And they weren’t moving. The bear reached out a paw to try and touch the frozen image of Tessa….

Only….it wasn’t a paw, it was a hand. A graceful, pale hand. Linara’s half-elf hand. She had somehow been changed back. How could that have happened? It didn’t make any sense. As she marveled at her own hand, she saw another hand holding hers from underneath.

It looked like…Linara shook her head. No, that’s crazy..….she lifted her eyes to follow the path of the hand, up the arm, the neck….the face…

But it was.

It was her husband, Aramis.

She opened her mouth to speak, but nothing came out.

“Linara? Linara! It IS you.” Aramis smiled widely.

Linara felt tears spring to her eyes.

“My love,” Aramis said, his own eyes shining. “Linara! I can’t believe it. How did you…”

“Aramis?” she whispered, afraid to trust her eyes.

“Yes, it’s me. But how did you get here? You didn’t…” his eyes filled with worry, “…cast that spell?”

“No. I touched….Are…are you real? What is this?”

“My spirit is real, but this…” he looked down at himself. “I don’t know.”

Linara’s eyes searched his image, remembering what they had last seen so long ago. Was he real? He looked real enough, but not quite solid. She could see the bluish hue of the room seeping through his skin.

Aramis placed another hand on top of hers. She could still see her own hand through his. He was ethereal, yet she could still feel his warmth, feel the pressure of his hands holding hers. How was that possible?

“I’ve missed you so much,” he said and sighed. “You are so beautiful.”

Linara glanced past him to the mirror in the distorted library. She did look beautiful. Her long wavy hair was loose….and golden, truly golden, the way it had been before. Her cheeks were rosy and full. Oddly enough, she was wearing pajamas.

“I’ve missed you too. You have no idea.”

As Aramis’ hands squeezed hers again, her mind was suddenly in the past, at the magic college, before.

And then she knew. She wasn’t feeling the spectral image of his hands…she was feeling a memory. When he clasped her hand, she remembered that day at the college, how warm he felt….the winter day he had taken her hand and knelt down in that old-fashioned human tradition. The day they had gotten engaged.

And she was a memory to him as well. He was remembering his beautiful wife. With hair of glistening gold and bright blue, healthy, vibrant. Before…before the ravages of grief had drained the color from her hair…before it had changed her life forever. He was remembering the last time he had seen her…the night he…

“Linara, there is not much time. I’m not dead….”

“Yes I know,” she interrupted. “You weren’t…”

“On the other side. I saw when you died, you know.” He looked beyond her, thinking back. “You and your friends, you all flashed right in front of me between worlds. It was a terrible thing to see…and feel.”

“It’s not fun to watch someone die,” Linara said flatly. “I should know.”

Aramis put his hand to her cheek, and she felt a slight breeze upon her face, but no memory this time.

“If you’re not dead, then where…”

“I don’t know where I am, but I know it’s not the other side. I suspect…” He looked sheepish. “Well….I came across an old spell, a life energy spell, or so I thought. I now believe it was something to do with planar shifting…”

“Planar shifting? But you didn’t shift. You…your body…you were still there.”

“I think somehow my soul planar shifted without my body.”

“That’s impossible!”

“But there’s no other explanation.”

“There must be. I’m still trying to figure out the spell. I deciphered some runes…”

“No! Don’t.” His eyes pierced hers. “I mean it. Stop trying to find out how this happened. I believe you can find a way to return me without re-creating the spell. It’s too dangerous. You could end up stuck here too, wherever this is.”

Linara’s eyes lit up. “But I could join you! We could be together.”

“There is no life for you here.”

“There is no life for me out there.”

The two looked at each other sadly.

“Promise me you won’t,” he said, staring hard into her green eyes. “Promise.”

Linara nodded silently.

“Are you…suffering where you are?”

Aramis shook his head. “I am without pain or hunger. I can see and hear, but not interact or communicate at all …until now.”

“How did you get here, into this gem?”

“I don’t know. I seem to continually shift randomly. This is the first time I’ve been able to communicate. There are other souls in here with me. Souls sacrificed to Tiamat.”

“That’s horrible.”

“It is. They are in limbo and must be released to the other side. Tiamat gains strength from them while they are between worlds.”

“Release them? You mean…”

“Crush the gems.”

“But if we crush the gems….”

Linara looked up at her husband, who returned a resigned stare. His mouth twisted to the right, as it always did when he was upset. He nodded.

She shook her head back and forth.

“You must,” he said.

“I can’t.”

“You must. You have to release the souls and defeat Tiamat. That is the most important thing.”

“No it isn’t.”

“It is for now. You can find me afterwards.”

“But where do I start? You don’t even know where you are, how am I supposed to know?”

“There is a library, a huge library…when you find me and get my body back we will go and research our little hearts out, I promise.” His eyes glittered at the thought. “It’s at the southern end of the Sword Coast. I’ve seen some things there that may be helpful.”

“But what if we don’t defeat Tiamat? What if I die again? I’m really not as tough as I look.”

“You don’t look tough at all, my dear.”

“My point exactly!” she laughed, but then sobered. “But what if I can’t find you? What will happen to you? I would rather be stuck with you in limbo than leave you all alone for eternity.”

The bluish hue in the room began receding from the edges, slowly being replaced by bright torch light.

“What’s going on?” Linara asked, panicked.

“I don’t know. I can hardly see you,” Aramis replied, his image getting smaller as the images in the library grew clearer. “We will see each other again soon, I promise. I love you!”

“I love you too…”

Linara blinked her tears away and the library came into sharp focus, exactly as she had left it. Her hand was still on top of the blue gem, but it was LeShana’s hand holding it, not Aramis’.

“…always…”

View
To Wield the Sword of Kas

To Wield the Sword of Kas

LeShana felt unsettled. She had felt this way since earlier in the evening, after the party had found a small cave within the Well of Dragons overflowing with treasure. One man’s trash was another man’s treasure…only it wasn’t trash and it wouldn’t be his treasure.

She sighed. A fitful meditation hadn’t helped her mood, nor had a sparse meal. LeShana left the dining area, searching purposefully around the castle until she found her quarry alone in a small stone room. He sat in front of a crackling fire.

“Grond,” she said.

He kept silent, his one good eye remaining listlessly fixed on the flames.

“Grond,” she repeated and walked up to the fire. There was no way to ignore the 6 foot 6 elf standing in front of him.

“What is it?” he asked, gruffly. “I came here to be alone. I do not wish to be disturbed.”

“We need to talk.”

“I don’t want to hear it.”

“You don’t even know….”

“Of course I know. I could feel it back in there. Your disapproval…”

He knew her too well. She couldn’t pretend he wasn’t right. “I wouldn’t call it disapproval. More like…concern…”

“Ha!”

“I am concerned about…” LeShana paused, not sure how to phrase it. “…the effects…of such a sword.”

“I know the effects as well as you do. Do you fear I am not up to the task?”

She looked Grond in the eye. “It is a valid question, one I would ask anyone who wished to wield the Sword of Kas.”

“I don’t wish to wield it, I do wield it. It’s too late now.” Grond pulled out the shining ebony blade and turned his attention to it.

Merely being in the vicinity of the sword gave LeShana a slightly sick feeling. She wondered what it must be doing to Grond. “It’s not too late. You’ve only just attuned. It hasn’t yet had time…”

He turned his gaze back to the fire, the flames giving his leather eye patch a dull sheen. “I’m used to being surrounded by evil, or has it been so long you have forgotten?”

“I certainly haven’t forgotten. We have battled side by side, defeated many dark creatures. I know you have fought evil your entire life, fought against the evil nature of your upbringing, and have succeeded. I have every faith in the goodness of your soul.”

“But….”

“But it is not enough to be good,” she repeated. “This sword is not only evil, it is also sentient and known to drive its wielder to madness or worse. I have every faith in the goodness of your soul, the soul of my most loyal and true friend. But I fear you will not be that person much longer.”

“I don’t need to be that person much longer. This sword will serve my purpose and I am prepared to take the risk.”

“But it is no longer only your risk, is it?”

The tone of her voice made him look up. “What do you mean?”

“Cassyt and your daughter. You have a family now. They need you.”

“Yes….that is true,” he said softly. “They do need me.”

“You must think of them.”

“I am thinking of them.” Grond scowled darkly at LeShana. “I am always thinking of them. Never doubt that.”

“Then think of what they would want. Cassyt…”

“Would want to be avenged.”

“Avenged?” Confusion was evident on LeShana’s face. “For what? Is she not at home with your daughter as you said?”

“Oh yes, she is at home,” Grond said harshly. “Her eternal home. Both of them are.”

“You mean….?”

“Dead. Murdered.” Grond spat out the detestable words and wrapped both hands around the sword’s hilt. His hands gripped tighter and tighter, until LeShana feared his knuckles would break through the skin. “At our wedding reception. Cassyt and our unborn child.”

LeShana did not know what to say. There were no words to convey her misery and despair, so she did not offer any. With wet eyes, she stood up and placed a hand on Grond’s shoulder, her head bowed in respect.

“I will destroy the dragon cult. Every last one of them.” Grond slammed his sword into the stone wall and howled. It was a terrible cry of pain and anger.

“You will not do it alone, my friend,” LeShana vowed. “Your grief is my grief.”

Grond did not respond, but simply re-sheathed the Sword of Kas. As he did so, a strange sensation rippled through his body. He was overcome by a wave of dark energy. It flowed through his mind, yet his body shivered.

“Grond? Is everything alright?”

He forced a tight smile. “No, but everything is as it is meant to be. I wish to be alone now.”

LeShana nodded sadly and said, “Good night. May you find peace in the coming battle.”

View
Cale's Tale

Cale’s Tale

The door was cautiously opened by a gnome with red hair and large ears. A young fighter in well-worn plate armor removed his cloak to reveal the symbol of the Order of the Gauntlet. The gnome opened the door fully and allowed him to enter.

“I am Cale Fenwick,” the young man introduced himself, ducking under the low threshold. “The Order has sent me to retrieve a certain item.”

The gnome chuckled. “You needn’t have identified yourself. I know a Fenwick when I see one.” He closed the door behind him. “I am Charko Diament.” He offered a child-sized hand that Cale shook and then ushered him to a small wooden table at the back of the room.

The young man sat down awkwardly on the ill-sized furniture, his knees sticking up from the low chair and banging the edge of table.

“I knew your father, your grandfather, and even your great-grandfather, though he and I didn’t get along too well at first. Tried to kill me before he had the sense to realize I was on his side. It’s no lie to say I’ve known my fair share of Fenwicks.”

“I’ve also known my fair share of Fenwicks,” Cale said with a smile.

“That’s no lie either.” The gnome poured a gold liquid into a pewter mead cup and handed it to Cale. “Drink up. That’ll help fortify you for the fight ahead.”

“Fight? I thought I was just retrieving an item.”

“You are, but you’ll have to fight your way there.”

Cale finished the golden ale, which tasted like butterscotch. “When will the others arrive?”

“Others? There are no others. It’s just you, my boy.”

“Oh.”

“And me, with whatever I can do.” Charko stood up. “We haven’t much time, so let’s get going.”

The gnome led Cale out the back door of the house, into a tiny courtyard. He pushed aside a potted plant, revealing a trapdoor. The two climbed down a ladder into an earthy-smelling room. When the door shut, it was completely dark.

Cale could hear footsteps leaving, but could not see. “Is there a torch in here?”

Charko flicked his fingers into the air, casting several balls of light ahead of them. “Sorry. I don’t normally come down here with humans.”

The two walked for a good hour, Charko leading Cale through a series of damp underground tunnels, which eventually opened up into the lowest level of an ancient-looking temple. The walls and floor were partially natural and partially manmade.

“I’ll scout ahead to see how many guards there are,” Cale said and started to walk away.

“No,” said Charko, grabbing Cale’s arm. “Haven’t you any sense? They’ll hear you coming a mile away with that armor. I’ll scout.” He shook his head and muttered, “Takes after his great-grandfather.”

A few minutes later, Charko came back with a worried look on his face. “There are four orc guards. I will do what I can…”

Cale shook his head. He could not ask such a small creature to fight. “No, you stay here and wait. When I draw their attack, you sneak past them and retrieve the item.”

“Brave lad, you truly are a Fenwick. Luck be with you.”

Cale unsheathed his sword and boldly strode down the hallway, fully aware of the blaring metal clanking his armor produced. At that sound, all four orcs turned at once and ran toward the young fighter.

He was ready. His great sword plunged into the belly of the first orc before it even had a chance to swing at Cale. He pulled the sword out and swung again, connecting with another orc’s arm. A grunt of pain came from the orc, who in retaliation took a battle axe to Cale’s chest.

Cale dodged aside at the perfect moment, and the axe merely grazed his armor. But he wasn’t quite dexterous enough. As he dodged the axe, he slammed side-first into a studded mace. Cale staggered back as the wind was knocked from his body. He managed to raise his sword and take another swing, which sliced cleanly through a thick orc neck.

Ugh! Cale was blindsided by another hit from the mace. He fell to the ground and rolled away, just as the mace came crashing down on his previous position. A quick upward thrust of his sword killed a third orc who was charging him from the other side. Only one left.

Cale struggled to his feet, the pain in his side making it difficult to move. He was having trouble breathing. The orc seemed aware of this. He was swinging his bloody mace and eyeing Cale’s weak side. Cale supposed some orcs weren’t as dumb as they seemed. He didn’t want to find out.

Gathering all his remaining strength, Cale unfastened his metal shield and hurled it at the approaching orc. The orc’s muscled arm brushed it aside as if it were an annoying fly, but the distraction gave Cale a precious few seconds. That was all he needed. His blade cut through the orc’s right arm, and it (along with the mace) fell to the ground. Cale finished with a precisely aimed stab to the orc’s heart, and then collapsed.

The sound of pounding footsteps roused him. Five more orcs were rushing his way, followed by roughly a dozen kobolds and several robed humanoids with wands. Not good. Cale pressed a bloody hand to his side, and leaned heavily on his sword. Injured or not, it didn’t matter. Five orcs or a hundred, it didn’t matter. Cale would fight to the last breath. He stood up straight and took that last breath….

A loud, booming voice emanated from behind him.

“Leave, all of you. This one is mine.”

Cale turned around to see a demon standing in the doorway. A huge demon with red skin, over seven feet tall and wearing glowing plate armor. His eyes burned with a sinister glow.

The rush of footsteps from the other direction suddenly stopped, as though they had hit an invisible barrier. Without a word, the orcs, kobolds, and wizards turned around and retreated as quickly as they had come.

Maybe he shouldn’t have taken on this mission by himself. Cale certainly could have used the assistance of more fighters right about now. But it didn’t matter.

With a hearty yell, Cale charged down the hall toward the demon. Fifty feet, thirty feet, ten feet….he drew back his mighty great sword and swung with all the strength he could muster.

And fell flat on his face.

He must have been more hurt than he realized, to miss so badly. Cale scrambled to his feet and readied himself for an attack, but there was no sign of the demon. The only thing Cale saw in the hallway was a small creature crouched in the corner.

“Charko?” he asked.

“Ha ha!” the gnome replied with a grin. “Pretty good illusion, don’t you think? It even fooled you!”

“Yes indeed, a little too good.” But this was not the time to praise Charko’s sorcery. They still had work to do. “Come, let us finish our mission.”

The human and the gnome continued down the hall, which ended in a rough, natural stone wall. Charko pulled a small red talisman from his pocket, held it against the wall, and chanted in a language unfamiliar to Cale. The wall dissolved before his very eyes, revealing a deep space that was pitch black.

Charko walked confidently into the blackness, but Cale hesitated, as the gnome disappeared from his sight after a few steps.

“Are you coming or not? We don’t have much time.”

“Coming where? I can’t even…”

Four small balls of light popped up in front of Cale, illuminating the way ahead.

“I keep forgetting you humans can’t see in the dark,” Charko said, moving the lights with a wave of his hand.

Cale could now see a small stony room, which appeared to be a natural occurring recess that had been enlarged. Directly in front of them was a crudely carved statue of a giant drake or a dragon or worm. Its teeth were bared as if to attack and there were five bumps sticking out from the head. Cale supposed it might have been a crown at some point, but the stone was so old and worn, it was impossible to tell.

“Yes, yes!” Charko said, his eyes glittering at the statue. “It’s true, it was all true.”

It seemed this was the item the Order had sent Cale to get, so he reached out to pick it up.

“No! Don’t touch it!” Charko grabbed Cale’s arm before it could reach its destination. He glared at the human. “Don’t you know Tiamat is evil?”

“Tiamat….so those bumps are the five heads?” Cale asked, pointing to the dragon’s head.

“Those ‘bumps’….” Charko sighed. “Do you know where we are? What this is?”

Cale shook his head.

“Obviously not, why did I even ask?” the gnome muttered to himself. “This room here, this statue….this is the original temple of Tiamat, the original. The very first altar and very first statue. It’s so old, even the elves can’t remember.”

“Is this the item the Order asked me to retrieve?”

Charko nodded. “It is, but you won’t be retrieving it.”

“What do you mean?”

“No one will be retrieving it. I will be destroying it.”

“That’s not what I was sent to do. I was sent to bring it back.” Cale narrowed his eyes at the gnome and slid his hand to the hilt of his sword.

Charko noticed the movement. “Listen to me before you use that. I know you are aware of the dragon cult and their attempt to resurrect Tiamat,” he said. “There are five altars at the Well of Dragons that must be destroyed. This original altar binds the other altars together and gives them even greater power. We must destroy this one or destroying the others will be useless.”

“The Order…”

“The Order thinks removing the statue is sufficient. It is not. The altar must be cleansed and destroyed.”

“We can take it back to the Order and they can do that.”

Charko shook his head. “Trust me, Cale Fenwick. Trust me as your family has trusted me all these years.”

Many thoughts ran through Cale’s mind. Was it a coincidence he had personally been asked by the Order to take on this task? Was it a coincidence he’d already been on a mission to help stop Tiamat? He was beginning to think it was not.

Cale nodded his assent.

Charko took out a small pouch and poured yellow powder over the altar and statue. He mumbled again in that strange language, moved his hands in a strange pattern, and the yellow powder suddenly ignited, bathing the altar in a vertical beam of bright, radiant light. Charko placed a clear crystal into the light and the altar and statue crumbled to the ground.

“It is done.”

“I don’t know what to tell….” Cale stopped mid-sentence, feeling dizzy. He blinked, and Charko was gone. That little trickster teleported out without him? How’s that for trust? He blinked again and the room was gone. Why did he feel like he was floating? Cale closed his eyes and pressed his hands to his temple.

When he opened his eyes, Cale saw a familiar tall elf conversing with a dragon born creature sprouting big gold wings.

“Cale!” LeShana cried with surprise. “What are you doing here?”

A bright light covered him and he felt a rush of warmth spread through his body. The wound in his side was gone and he felt fully restored. “I don’t know. And uh….where is here exactly?”

“The Well of Dragons. We are preparing to destroy Tiamat. Will you help us?”

He knew had done the right thing by trusting Charko. Cale pulled his sword out and smiled. “Evil dragon goddess? Sure.”

It didn’t matter. It never did.

View
Barbarians Have Feelings Too

Barbarians Have Feelings Too

Balefire walked down the corridor of the castle, marveling at the structure. It truly was a first-rate piece of magic. Solidly constructed, very secure…and quite large. He’d already explored the main hall of the castle and was walking down the hallway leading to the sleeping quarters when a faint sound interrupted his thoughts.

Balefire quickly turned around with his hand raised, half expecting someone behind him before he remembered the castle was practically impenetrable. Then what was….there it was again…a tiny sob, coming from behind the door to his left. Sylina’s door. That was odd. Barbarians didn’t cry. Maybe she was comforting someone else….no, barbarians didn’t do that either.

More muffled sobbing. Hmmm…It was late, she should be asleep….and he should leave her alone…but before he could stop himself, Balefire heard his knuckles rapping on the door.

The noise stopped.

“Um what…” Sylina’s voice started sniffly and unsure. “What?” she repeated louder and gruffer.

Balefire poked his mottled head in.

“What’s going on?”

“Nothing, it’s none of your business.”

“Sounds like something is going on.”

“Who asked you? And what are you doing sneaking around in the middle of the night?”

As if he took that for an invitation, Balefire stepped fully into the room and shut the door behind him. Sylina sat on the edge of the bed, staring straight ahead, and ignoring him.

He sighed.

“Tell me.”

“Tell you what?”

“What’s wrong?”

“Nothing’s wrong.”

Balefire looked down at Sylina’s little face. Her normally lovely green eyes were red and puffy. “I’m not an idiot. I can tell when something’s wrong.”

Suddenly, Sylina’s lower lip started trembling. She covered her face with her hands.

“I’m so ugly!” she sobbed.

“What?” He hadn’t known what to expect, but it certainly wasn’t that.

“No, I take that back… I’m not ugly…” Sylina poked her index finger into her soft belly. “I’m fat AND ugly!”

Oh….that. Sylina’s magical axe had recently become sentient and along with increased fighting abilities, it had imparted other….attributes….to her. Attributes she apparently did not care for.

Balefire didn’t think it was any big deal, really. She was an amazing fighter, spunky and high spirited. So many good qualities. Why did she care so much what she looked like?

Sylina mistook his lack of response for something else. “You can’t even lie and say I’m not ugly? Thanks alot.”

“You’re not ugly.”

“It’s too late now. I don’t believe you.”

Sylina blew her nose.

“It’s really not that bad,” he said. “Just a few extra pounds…”

“I almost doubled my weight!!!”

“But it’s mostly muscle…”

“And I look like a disgusting dwarf!!!”

“You really don’t look that much different than you did.”

Sylina looked up at him with horror stricken eyes. “You think I already looked like a fat, ugly dwarf before all this?”

“No, no…that’s not what I meant at all.”

Tears spilled down her cheeks.

“At least you didn’t grow a beard,” he pointed out.

“Yes, so grateful for that,” she spat, angrily wiping the tears from her face. She rolled her eyes. “You just don’t understand.”

“I don’t understand?” he said. “Me? The dragonborn with weird patches of different colored scales all over my face? I don’t understand?”

Sylina glanced up at him and begrudgingly smiled. “Well, maybe you do understand a little.”

“Yeah maybe I do.”

Balefire took a seat on the bed. “We certainly are a pair, aren’t we?”

“Yep.”

The minutes ticked by as the two sat side by side in a companionable silence. Balefire noticed how close Sylina was. If he moved his hand over a few inches he’d touch her.

Sylina broke the silence.

“What are you doing up this late anyway?”

“Just wandering around.”

“And you happened to hear a damsel in distress crying?”

“Something like that.”

Sylina hugged her pillow to her. “Very noble of you.”

“I like to think so.”

“Guess I’m lucky you weren’t already busy drying someone else’s tears.”

“That wouldn’t happen.”

“What, you think the others don’t cry? You think I’m the only one?” A flicker of anger flared up in her eyes. “You think I’m weak?”

“Calm down. I don’t think you’re weak.” He smiled wryly. “Nobody would ever think you’re weak. What I meant…” Balefire paused and then stood up. “I better go. It’s late.”

Sylina nodded. “I should try to get some sleep now. Thanks.”

Balefire opened the door and stopped, turning around. “What I meant was…if I had heard any of the others crying, I would have kept on walking. Good night.”

View
The Fall of Tiamat-Aftermath
What happens after the death of a god

The Butcher’s Bill

Many a great battle has been fought, but no matter the outcome, win or lose, the Butcher’s bill must be paid. What follows is a list of the lost. In addition to this list 70% of all living Metallic Dragons and 75% of all living Chromatics perished in the fighting. In fact, most of the Chromatics still alive are the few who did not meet at the Well for what ever reason.

The List of the Dead

The Dragon Council

The Alliance

Know Cultists and Enemies Dead

Missing and Presumed Dead

Escaped

The True Ancient

Before his death after taking the full force of one of Tiamat’s breath attacks,Nymmurh had the opportunity to use his last strength to remove the memory blocks from those around him. Doing so exposed him as the True ancient and former leader of the Dragon Council. He was also the only bronze currently alive to have the power to see the streams of time. He explained his actions, as he could, by showing each how he had helped shape their lives into what they were to become, with the exception of Linara Greystone He did not foresee her or Grond’s addition to the party, but without them, it would have been a disaster. For her help, he told her of Mystra’s Spell book on the newly unhidden Island of Dracosee’ere. This spell book would help her identify the spell she needed to restore her husband from the in-between where he now resides.

There is more to The Ancient’s tale, but that will take time to “unpack” in the adventurer’s minds.

View
Life purpose and crap
From a Dragonkind

A persons life is counted by something. Mine happens to be teeth. Teeth I have received so I could eat another meal or teeth that came from defending life (mine or others). This has been forever changed in my life, and I am not sure how I feel about this…
Let’s start from the beginning… Well not really the beginning. That would have been 25 years ago and I don’t want to write that much. So let’s start in the middle.
My companions and I were summoned to a feast. I really wasn’t in the mood to go be with people especially since sparky wasn’t able to come with me, but I was hungry so I went anyway. I was just setting in to eat a big chunk of roast beast when the roof was ripped off! I was looking up at 4 chromatic a (only blue had skipped out of the feast). In just seconds (I wasn’t even able to get a good mad going) everything went REALLY calm. I mean I was calm but a piece of me I have never noticed before was wildly angry… Then it was gone… I felt like some part of me was missing.. This might lead to trouble.
I looked up and I was in a room. This was a long room kinda like a hallway. No not a hallway, just a room. But this room was lined with doors. Ugh. Is this a puzzle? I HATE puzzles… I start looking around to see how I can get out of here and get back to… Well whatever I was doing before I got here. In the middle of the this room is a long table at this table was 2 dragons… One is Tim. Gold Tim. The other is sparky… No not sparky… It’s a much older much bigger more platinum sparky… Where is sparky… Is that anger.. No sad… Yes that’s it… That is sadness… This will definitely be a problem. Wait… I know that other dragon… Crap… Tim told me his name.. He’s the one that showed up at the dragon light head thing…. When I wake up I have to start listening… The ancient starts to laugh like he can hear me.. I focus In on their conversation… Oh crap Tim is having one of his serious conversations… Maybe he hasn’t seen me… Can I get away before… Crap they both turn and look at me… Spotted guess I’ll sit down.
“… Try not to do it too many times, you do not have an unlimited number of trips back and forth…” The ancient was saying. Only time would want to come back to a puzzle room…
Then the ancient turns to me. Selina dragonkind. I turn and look behind me… “Me? It’s Selina Earthwanderer.”
“that may be your earth name but your true name is Dragonkind. But in time you will find out all about that. For now we need to talk about why you are here.”
“well… Let me think… Before I was here I was… Eating… No… I was about to eat but sparky…” Sadness again… Big trouble… “Couldn’t come in.. No warning… The roof was gone… Dead… That’s what I have been looking for… I’m dead… And my companions… Tim is here so he is dead… I don’t see anyone else…”
“they are all dead… Sparky was able to stay alive until the other metallics got there. The town is workings on raising all of you”
“I actually don’t like the not dead dead… I would rather…”
“Do not worry little one. You will be very much alive. Now, for what we need to discuss before you leave. I have been watching you-”
“Are you related to uncle… No that doesn’t sound right… But he said the same thing… Hmmm… There really wasn’t much to watch I was HORRIBLE at negotiations. I wasn’t any better with the tribes… I mostly spent time alone… Alone, that’s what I should have done eaten alone… I still haven’t found my place… I don’t know what I will do once Tiamat and the cult are stopped… I’ve only felt at home with the metallics … But I suppose-” Gold Tim does his too much gesture… “Oh, right sorry”
The ancient laughs a little. “You are here so we can talk about your purpose.”
“ohh, well that’s easy… I don’t have one.” I see Tim roll his eyes.
“Oh, but you do… You just have to choose to accept it. And now is that time.” He turns to Tim, “Speaking of time, it’s yours to go back.”
“your purpose. I need someone like you. Someone who lives in the world but also lives with the dragons. I need someone to be a guide for others who work with the dragons and help the world get over their prejudices of the dragons specifically with the new chromatics.”
“I actually don’t understand. But it sounds like I will be negotiating the existence between dragons and people… Did I mention that I was HORRIBLE at negotiations?”
“This will be different. If you accept your purpose then you will have my guidance and the help of others. You work with the dragons better than any other right now. And you already have their trust. This is you purpose.”
“yeah ok I’ll do it. Sounds good. I’m hungry.” Just then a plate shows up. Yum. We continue our conversation over dinner. I am told what exactly he wants from me and that I will be a great bridge between people and dragons… Great. After some time I am told it is time to go. I go out of the door Tim left through. The next thing I know is a flood of emotions. The missing link is reconnected.
I can feel Sparky. He is close. Everything is kinda hazy, but it is a comfortable haze. Over the next few days Sparky shows me what is going on in the city along with what has happened since we were dead… Good grief Protanther really overreacted!

View
Excerpts from Tim speaking with a Platinum Dragon

Tim: I remember exactly what we were doing right before I got here, which means I know how I got here. I’ve always said that someday when I die I will not plead to live as many others do, but I suppose I am about to make a liar out of myself. I have leagues of kobolds down there that are depending on me. I understand that everyone who dies believes themselves to be unique and irreplaceable, and as reluctant as I am to admit it, perhaps even my role in the struggle against the chromatics could possibly be shouldered by another talented individual. My concern is that I have begun to guide these kobolds down a path, and that it is too soon for me to depart from them as I do not have a suitable replacement, nor are they far enough along the path to guide themselves.

Platinum: I know, I have been hearing the voices of many kobolds lately. This used to be a rarity but as of late more and more of them have begun to speak to me and I recognize this as your influence.

Tim: As tempting as eternal rewards on this plane of existence may sound, I am not ready. I know that if I push the boundaries of my request then I risk your anger, but I humbly…

Platinum: Let me stop your right there because you don’t need my divine intervention today. Your people are making preparations to bring all of you back, and you will be hearing your name called very soon.

Tim: I am thankful.

Platinum: I can tell that you have more to ask me, don’t hesitate because this is your chance.

Tim: Okay, so ever since I got here I have been flooded with my ancestor’s memories of being here before, in fact even of standing here and speaking with you on several occasions. Why do I have his memories and why do I now appear as he did, rather than appear as myself? I understand that the black form may be considered a bit offensive here, but I don’t understand why I feel like more of an amalgam of myself and my ancestor Aurumtimvitae the Gold, than I do of simply myself.

Platinum: The short answer is that you carry what is left of his essence and spirit.

Tim: So he is a part of me?

Platinum: More like he is you, and you are him. Do you remember why he left here?

Tim: I remember that I… er, I mean he was furious at the mortals for making the dragons go mad, and that he was not only a staunch opponent of dragons ever changing their ways in the slightest, he was practically the spokesperson for that ideal. He believed that dragons would do best to separate themselves completely from mortals and their affairs on the material plane, and persuaded many others that he was correct. He would not listen to you, so you told him that he had to spend time with mortals and learn why he was incorrect. And then…

Platinum: And then still defiant, he challenged those who were responsible for what had been done to us rather than to heal past wounds. He mounted a campaign allied with dragonborn, half-dragons, and other like-minded dragons that did a LOT of damage, and as a response the mortals performed magic that destroyed his mind and then they quickly killed what was left of him. He was mourned by many, to include his mate who was a very adept spellcaster and a black scaled dragonborn. She tried to bring him back but could not. She knew that she carried his heirs as her eggs, but what she did not understand was that what very little that was left of him was bound to the living blood in his heirs as a result of her attempts at restoring him. This was centuries ago, and although the first generation would have been expected to have had physical traits of gold they appeared only as black dragonborn of her line, and of the subsequent kin nobody has manifested anything as you have.

Tim: If I understand correctly, I am him only because part of his spirit endured, and since there is no longer a “him” to be “him,” than I carry that mantle? Also, I notice that we’re not talking about the fact that I’m in the form of a full-fledged ancient gold dragon at the moment. I know that I have had many gold traits emerging up until the point of my death, which body is my real form?

Platinum: That depends on the work that you are doing. Your understanding of you being both you and your ancestor is about as correct and accurate as can be described in our short discussion, but I will tell you that since you are going back to do the work of Balefire the Black than it will be that form in which you will take. I will advise you that the more you grow, the more of what is left of Aurumtimvitae’s spirit grows with you. He will never be restored, but you will grow as he would have, and you even have the potential to restore that bloodline as it should have been.

Tim: I know our time here is short but as long as we are talking bloodlines I have one more thing to ask. My ancestor was bold and has crossed you, and I don’t plan on making the same mistake. I know that you know of what I have started with the chromatic eggs which I consider about one of the boldest things that I could have done. Am I out of line?

Platinum: If you had asked me this question during a stable time when we’d experienced no mixture of mortal magics and there was not a massive support of chromatic power by mankind’s evil designs than I would have advised you to cease as it would disrupt a balance of harmony. That balance has already been massively disrupted and only progressed to become far worse, and your efforts may be a long term investment to help put things back together and make them right again someday. I fully expect significant blowback, possibly even during your mortal lifetime, but the risk is acceptable and I know that there are older and wiser dragons aiding you in this task who also believe this may be a step in putting broken pieces back together, even with the foreknowledge that the reaction to this will indeed be severe.

Tim: Umm, about my mortal lifetime and the immediate threat…

Platinum: Yes, it is more likely than not that you will soon be here again under similar circumstances. Try not to do it too many times, you do not have an unlimited number of trips back and forth…

View
Before Tim forgets...

Before I forget in real life and Tim has a senior moment in game, here is what I was thinking about that guy that died getting us the Blue Mask. I know we plan to res him because it’s the right thing to do after he had a moment of conscience and did a heroic thing and blah blah blah, but I was thinking we can do something slightly more strategic. After a long rest I can teleport again a few times and fetch someone trustworthy to res him rather than doing it in town where rumors can spread, and I was thinking we should get a druid so he/she can cast reincarnate. We give this guy a new body, he has a new identity and knowing what he knows can possibly go back in the cult undercover and seek out another mask or some other important objective (what’s the worst that’ll happen… he’ll die again lol). We can report any of his current intel to the council, but to protect his new identity only those who work directly with him will know who he is. Our Metallic allies don’t do too well undercover I’m assuming because they’ll be sniffed out, but maybe one of them would be happy to have this guy work directly for them to do what they cannot? We can hash out where to have this guy work to do the most good, but I think we should Reincarnate rather than Raise Dead.

Also, that dang Efreeti Bottle again. I’m thinking the best place to open it might be outside the tower from last time, then we can walk him back to that room where the baddies were spying on the City of Brass, and another of his kind are trapped down the hall. That just might light a fire (pun intended)…

View

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