ooc: Allright, my log died, so through the aid of some other PCs and Eilistraee, I have recaptured most of the good stuff. I made an effort to keep the phenomenal echos the gods put their time and effort into intact, save for a few changes, to be shared with everyone else. I’m sorry I don’t have all the nifty weapon procs that occurred, but that would just make this story TOO long to read.
Once more, thanks to the RPQ gods!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
This was it.
We stood at the fountain in Waterdeep waiting for the portals the silver dragon Tsakchanar had spoken of. To say I was nervous would be the biggest understatement known to be spoken.
I was terrified.
But, it needed to be done. I also had something to prove to a troll. In an odd moment of increased intelligence, Ruxur had accused bards of being the first to flee a battle. We’d just have to see about that.
Due to the size of our party, Gormal asked us all to move to a lavish dwelling that was available for our use as we awaited the summons. Some of our force joked around to alleviate their tension. I fell back on my old habit of pacing.
Sotana tried to calm me down.
“Getting rid of some of my nervous energy now, so I don’t do something stupid later,” I said to her with a wry grin and resumed my pacing. I knew only a handful of the Strike Force assembled to destroy the Vile One. I, who follow no particular god, prayed to whoever would hear that I would not fail those gathered here.
Then, I heard the call.
‘You are summoned, Lilira. Find my portal in a mortal city and enter,’ a voice hissed into my mind.
I took my leave of my companions and headed to the Great Fountain where the portal stood. Tida stood there awaiting her summons. We hugged, I took a deep breath and stepped through right behind Lahgen and Lady Teej.
I arrived exhausted, on a wind-swept ledge hewn out of the side of Mount Skelenak. I didn’t have much time to look around. What captured my attention were the dragons.
They were everywhere, and more flying in every moment. Walking between them and even mounted on them were others of the Strike Force.
Lintral was talking irritatedly to the air and doing,, something with the Amulet. He handed the Amulet to Gurns, who placed it around his neck. Lirela began weaving the moonlight into a copy of the amulet Gurns was wearing. He spoke for a moment, removed the amulet and passed it to its bearer.
In my nervousness, the wait seemed forever. Finally it was my turn.
Gingerly accepting the ghostly necklace bearing a strange glowing amulet from Gurns, I ducked my head and placed it around my neck. It glowed brightly. I felt another presence enter my mind, warding me protectively. My eyes widened, as out of thin air a dragon abruptly appeared, wings flapping hard as he hovered over the ledge. Head shifting from side to side, he surveyed the ledge carefully before surging through the air, coming to a heavy landing directly in front of me! I curtsied before the ancient brass drake, who introduced himself as Baludeorrogauna.
As I clambered onto his back, I heard him chant and I felt my skin harden into dragonscales. I looked at my hand which was blurred along with the rest of my form. I chattered nervously at Baludeorrogauna, sensing amusement from him, while more members of the Strike Force arrived, received their amulets and met the dragons who would bear them into battle.
Finally, when everyone was mounted, all eyes turned toward Targsk.
The air around us grew still, a strange hushed expectation overtook the area as Targsk stepped forward. Lifting his head, he stared about, meeting every gaze squarely as he surveyed the area. Finally, he gave a brusque nod and barked, “Warriors,” his voice strangely smooth and baritone. He continued, bellowing powerfully, “Our time has come again.”
Chest swelling, he roared out “Draw! Call your weapons that we may end this eternal vigil, and send Auzorm'Tvorl screaming to the depths of hell!”
My hand moved of its own accord, going through the motions of drawing forth a weapon from midair. Power filled my body, my spiritual visitor's presence strong within my mind. Elation, a heady, giddy feeling overtook my senses as I felt something begin to form in my empty palm. I felt a shock race up my arm at the contact, as the materializing weapon reacted to me. There was a momentary pain, before the presence in the amulet took control, and a fresh triumphant feeling overtook me as the bonding was formed.
In my hand I held a slender sliver of coalesced moonlight. I was distracted by a vague shape appearing before me. The outline sharpened, taking on form and a little color, although I could still see right through it. A slender figure glide-stepped toward me, ruby eyes gleaming with eager excitement. She twirled, and a silky braid of hair whirled around her, starkly pale against her ebon skin.
She faced me and saluted with her weapon, a strange and slender rapier, multi-hued and glowing. She whipped the blade down, around, flashing through an intricate series of lines and curves, so fast I couldn’t see the blade, only the glowing traces of where it had been.
I realized she had written a word: Lenehezha.
Reaching up to the amulet around my neck I stroked it, whispering a greeting and introducing myself to this woman who protected my mind. Finally, the order came. It was time to enter the maelstrom.
I had taken to calling the dragon I rode with Bal, it was short and easy to call in combat, and he didn’t seem to mind. Bal and I entered the maelstrom and found ourselves alone in a dark fog. I heard Artikerus shouting for Ruxur. It seemed everyone had been separated. Battle cries and taunts poured forth from the mouths of my unseen companions, the clamor of steel, and roar of dragons and spells signaling combat. I guided Bal east where we were attacked by demons. Thanks to Bal’s spells I was well protected, and we battled our way through the demons that attacked. We continued east into a mass of elementals, his spells and breath destroying everything in our path, while I held on, thrusting my god-touched weapon into anything that got close enough.
Lenehezha’s excitement was infectious. I could feel it pulsing through me as we got closer to our goal, directing my thrusts and granting me strength to strike harder.
On and on we fought until at last we reached our companions and reformed our forces.
Reunited, the Strike Force moved up the mountain cutting a swath through followers of Auzorm’tvorl. The explosive power behind some of the god touched weapons was incredible and blinding in its fury. Thanatars tried to bar our path, exploding in their death throes and grievously injuring many of the heroes. I was knocked off Bal during such an explosion, blood flowing freely where the pieces of metal pierced my skin. We bards sang our hearts out in an effort to keep people alive long enough for the different clerics to heal them. After my wounds were healed, I scrambled back up to Bal’s back and we continued.
Lenehezha was back, fighting with me, stabbing my foes as I did. She made it a flowing dance, a graceful art, a smooth and intricate rhythmic performance of thrusts and slashes. She tossed in the occasional pirouette. No one but me seemed to see her, or feel her strike, but somehow my blows were more accurate, more forceful than ever before.
Suddenly she broke off her attack, her face a study of concentration and alarm. She looked at me, urgently, and stabbed in the air, pointing. And faded away. I glanced in that direction, but there was nothing there. Yet.
Finally we came before Felton Orm. His minions fought ferociously, he was casting spells frantically. I almost stopped singing in shock as Tida walked through the combat up to Felton Orm who seemed to not even notice her presence. Convinced I was about to see my friend die I watched in shock as she leaned in, twined her arms around his neck and kissed him.
His eyes glazed and he stopped moving. He died without a sound, the cheers of the Strike Force resounding around the mountain.
The time had come. We all dismounted and sent the dragons that had willingly borne us to the top of the mountain on their way. I curtsied deeply in respect to Baludeorrogauna, giving him my thanks before turning to face the rest of the Strike Force.
My teeth chattered in reaction to my terror as our commanders gave their final commands. Individuals willing to sacrifice themselves in the battle to destroy the construct had been chosen. The timing had to be perfect or the construct would reform the layer and we would have to battle to destroy it over again.
Finally the command came and we all charged into the chamber of the construct.
Lenehezha faded into view, facing me, ignoring the enemy. Crimson eyes stared at me searchingly, looking deep into my soul.
She nodded once, a small smile blossoming on her face. Turning to face Auzorm'tvorl, she raised her hand, and attacked.
In that instant, my fear was gone. I was protected from the mental attacks of the Vile One by this drow spirit who had volunteered to aid us. With her hand guiding my blade, I was prepared to battle the construct.
The first layer was the mirror. Many of us had been told not to use magical attacks on it because its function was to reflect our spells back at us. Looking back, I berate myself for not saying something to remind everyone.
Gurns began his song once more and I joined in, our voices merging into a harmonious blend of music that soothed the wounds of our comrades. It was needed more than ever as those in our force who had not been told of the layer’s properties unleashed their spells… Only to have them reflected full force right back into our teeth. The sheer shock of the damage done distracted me. One of the demon allies the construct had summoned casually reached out and backhanded me, slamming me into a wall of the cavern. Stunned and in agony, I ceased singing my accompaniment. The last thing I remembered before blacking out was the evil visage of the demon standing over me reaching out to shred me with its razor sharp claws. I felt the power of Gurns’s song trying to heal me, and the gentle glow from Duna’s god as she tried to heal the assembled group, but it couldn’t stand between pain and oblivion.
The sounds of the battle continuing to rage dragged me out of the dark abyss of unconsciousness. My wounds had been healed. I looked around and saw others in the same predicament. I stood, grabbed up my god-touched blade, and ran back into the fray. The mirror layer was still intact, though looking worse for wear. Once more I added my voice to Gurns’s song and attacked, Lenehezha once more guiding my hand. Again, the sounds of power exploding from the weapons wielded by the Strike Force threatened to deafen me. The air was filled with images, the shadow panther Kavik’s blade summoned, bright beams of light, and explosions as we all battled to break down the layer. The layer almost destroyed, the time for the First Sacrifice was at hand. Pril stepped forward.
As Pril pressed the ChaosBlade of Antren against a mirrored construct, both began to shimmer with a pale light. The light illuminated a third figure, ghostly pale in the radiance. The light built in intensity as Pril and the spirit drove the ChaosBlade of Antren farther into a mirrored construct. With a final heave it lapsed into stillness, the massive form resting on the ground. As the shuddering body stopped moving, Pril's body toppled to the ground and his spirit floated free...
With the scream of shearing metal, the surface of the mirrored construct tore and shredded. Sharp flakes exploded outwards, pelting everyone around. As the scintillating shards fluttered to the cavern floor, the thick shell which had been the entirety of the mirrored construct split like a cocoon, fragmenting into narrow bands of metal as it birthed a noxious, writhing fleshy mass.
The second layer, made of flesh and sinew.
The call came to add spell power to the damage of blades and bows. We fought on, our attention divided between the construct and its demon and elemental allies. Our enchanters cast the spells to protect those who participated in the furious dance of death. The healers worked frantically to heal the grievous wounds dealt to the members of the strike force. Our song could barely be heard over the cacophony of sound. The warriors changing targets to destroy the allies Auzorm’tvorl kept summoning, rescuing those of us who could not withstand the damage those allies could do. Finally, it was time for the second sacrifice. Lahgen stepped forward.
I saw the shimmer of light as Lahgen pressed a needle thin dagger named 'Futility' against the flesh construct. The light illuminated a third figure, presumably the spirit who had protected him during this battle. Together, they drove 'Futility' farther into the flesh construct where with a final heave it lapsed into stillness. As the shuddering body stopped moving, Lahgen's body toppled to the ground. I had but mere seconds to make note of the bard’s demise, before a sickening stench billowed forth from the still form of the flesh construct as the magic and sinew which had held the golem intact began to unravel. A vile mist, that stung the eyes and skin with acid vapour, wafted forth as muscle and skin from dozens of different species melted away, no longer resistant to the toxic slime. Oozing clots dripped to the floor, sloughing off a shimmering silvery monstrosity.
The third layer formed of silver. Weapons flashed, spells flew, clerics healed, bards sang. The spirits within us added their strength as we continued to battle ferociously to slay the construct which housed the Vile One. From the corner of my eye, I saw Nilan prepare to sacrifice himself. He had told me on at least two different occasions that he did not expect to return to his home. Now I saw why.
I saw Nilan step forward, raising his weapon to strike. Something was wrong! The layer reformed itself, back to perfect condition. Nilan’s offer for sacrifice had not been accepted. A quiet groan reverberated throughout the chamber as others noticed the layer’s regeneration. We threw ourselves desperately back into our attempt to destroy the layer. When the time came, once more Nilan stepped forward, dagger raised. Lorsalian stepped forward as well, bow held high.
Nilan’s sacrifice once more was refused, his face almost a comic display of confusion. Before the layer could regenerate again, Lorsalian, wielding it like a spear, thrust the longbow of Dancing Lightning against the silvery construct. With the aid of his spirit guardian, all shimmering with pale light they drove the god-touched longbow of Dancing Lightning into the silvery construct. A piercingly bright flash dazzled me, and a sharp crack resonated throughout the cave. Before my senses could recover, they were assailed anew by a silvery construct's dying shriek. Once more the massive form shuddered into stillness, and Lorsalian’s body toppled to the ground.
Slivers of metal burst from the remains to shower down upon the Strike Force like shimmering rain. Vision slowly returned and the pain in my ears dulled, fading to a susurration of silver settling, when a rasp of rubbing metal alerted us. From the detritus, a brassy scorpion construct, resembling a massive thanatar, unfolded from the remnants of its silvery shell!
The fourth layer. The fighting renewed. Once more the power erupting from our weapons was dazzling to the senses. I kept seeing familiar looking shadows out of the corners of my eyes, almost as if those who had sacrificed themselves were still with us somehow, watching. Alas, I did not have time for a closer look, occupied as I was with battle. Not wishing a similar reoccurrence for refused sacrifices, several stepped forward when it was time.
Theshial swung his weapon, an ivory hafted crossbow, against a brassy scorpion construct, using it like a club, the spirit from his amulet ghostly pale in the radiance surrounding them as it aided his blows, driving an ivory hafted crossbow further into a brassy scorpion construct. I bit back a moan, my former guildmate’s body joined the other fallen heroes as once more the massive form was still. Another layer gone, we were halfway through the construct. “Would it never end?!” my mind screamed.
I staggered under the horrific shriek of tearing metal as the metallic armor that had covered the brassy scorpion construct was shredded. Lightning sparked and leapt about as the construct crashed to the floor, hopelessly twisted about upon itself. One metallic plate flew high into the air, tiny arcs of electricity dancing around the edges as another plate was sent into the air after the first. Rising from the opening in the sparking body was a humanoid-shaped entity. It paid no heed to the lightning that coursed around its stony body, and ponderously stepped free of the remnants of the brassy scorpion construct.
The fifth layer. Its humanoid form the closest to normal yet. The various weapons of the Strike Force blurred as we pressed our attack further. Violent explosions caused by magic, and magical weapons rent the air leaving the smell of burnt ozone to assail our noses. I watched out of the corner of my eye, fighting a demon, as chunks of stone were blasted off the construct. It was time. Sotana stepped forward. I stumbled in my attack, part of me shrieking that it couldn’t be! Not her! Not the woman as dear to me as a sister! Tears blinded my eyes for a moment.
Sotana drove her quarterstaff of Northern Fury against the stone construct, the pale light surrounding the staff, Sotana, and the spirit who had guarded her, building in intensity as they thrust the weapon farther into the stone construct. I heard the cry of anguish that left my lips as Sotana's body fell to the ground.
Shattered chunks of stone crashed into the floor, echoes rebounding off the cavern walls with deafening intensity. As the construct disintegrated before my eyes, I began to discern a shape beneath the colossal blocks of stone. A slight shine from a gap in the falling rubble, slowly became more visible until the dust from the collapse briefly obscured all visibility. As I waved away the cloud, I could see the indistinctly humanoid shape of a glassy construct step free of the rubble.
The sixth layer was constructed of glass looking like an elongated humanoid. Anger burned away the tears as Lenehezha reminded me of my duty and once more guided my hands in their deadly dance as I rejoined the others in the battle. It was time to finish this. I was tired of watching my friends fall, yet there were two more sacrifices I would be forced to watch. There would be time to mourn later.
The whole of the battle, I had been changing targets back and forth from demon to elemental and back to the construct. It was a never changing spiral as I fought with lesser creatures to free those with greater skill to battle the construct, the spirit within my mind turning it into a dance. The warriors bravely kept themselves in the focus of the creatures allowing me and many others to move freely to attack at the creatures’ weak points. Bravely everyone fought on. I rejoined my voice to Gurn’s, still striving to heal injuries that would otherwise cause the warriors to falter. Once more the moment came and Duna stepped forward. I mentally gritted my teeth and kept fighting, my throat tired from the song that still burst forth, arms leaden from the unaccustomed exertion of this battle that never seemed to end. I sensed a burst of approval from the drow within.
Duna slammed her massive warhammer of spiritual courage against the glassy construct. The pale light surrounded her and the spirit who guided her blows. Together they drove the massive warhammer farther into the glassy construct. With a final heave it lapsed into stillness, the massive form resting on the ground. Duna’s body fell to the ground, her lifeless hand releasing the haft of her warhammer. With a sharp crack, the glass shattered into glittering shards, razored barbs flying everywhere. Acidic blood splashed on the ground, leaving small pockmarks where it boiled. Despair flooded the room, the feeling was almost overpowering as a foul, churning cloud burst free of the remaining glassy prison. Tendrils lashed out blindly from the seething fog, and as the last slivers of a glassy construct smashed and splintered, the tendrils began to reach out for everyone.
At last! Auzorm’tvorl ‘stood’ before us, his smoky essence filled with malevolence. I shouted a rally cry, I remember not what my words were, and heard it echoed from the throats of others. We threw ourselves with renewed vigor at his essence, our exhaustion melting away at seeing the end of our goal. Sensing the possiblity of his destruction, Auzorm’tvorl’s power emanated throughout the room finding no hold on our minds thanks to the protection the spirits afforded us. His spells clashed with those of the mages with us. The agony of our wounds, caused by the damage his power wielded, was gently washed away through healing as we battled on. His allies, sensing the possible end, threw themselves ferociously into battle with the Strike Force, striving to distract us.
At the right moment to my surprise, King Artikerus stepped forward, roaring out a challenge to the Vile One, insulting him in ways only Artikerus seemed able, before striking at the essence with the mystical ThunderHammer. The light illuminating the king, included a ghostly pale figure, building in intensity as together, Artikerus and the spirit drove the weapon farther into the smokey essence of Auzorm'tvorl. With a final heave it lapsed into stillness, before beginning to disperse. Artikerus's body fell to the ground, his spirit set free to join the other heroes who had sacrificed everything to see this battle end.
The elementals summoned by the Vile One disappeared, sent back to their plane as the bonds holding them here died with his destruction.
As the smoke dissipated, still crackling with malevolence, a strange hush overtook the cavern. Nothing moved; the entire area was still and seemingly lifeless.
Then, with a click that sounded loud enough to rock the world, the glowing amulets dropped away, dissipating into vanishing beams of moonlight before they reached the ground. In their place, spirits appeared, stepping forward from their respective hosts.
I silently curtsied in gratitude to Lenehezha as she stepped away to join the others.
I looked over my shoulder as other spirits filed into the cavern, further lighting the area with their glow. Some of them acknowledged those present, ghostly heads nodding at the spirits and mortals alike. Finally, in the middle of the gathering, where the last wisps of Auzorm'tvorl's essence had evaporated just a moment ago, a familiar pair of golden eyes opened, followed by the ghostly body of Noloth'e.
'It is done!' she called, her voice stunningly vibrant in the silence.
Shafts of light suddenly appeared in the room, glowing in all manner of colors throughout the cavern. A sense of awe washed over me, as the presence within each column of light radiated a divine aura that was unmistakable. Each shifted within the column, and the spirits shifted in response. A note of power echoed throughout the cave, emanating from and amplified by the beings within the glowing columns.
A wave rippled throughout the room, as the assembled spirits were drawn beyond into a vast plain populated by other glowing spirits. The ghostly outlines of our companions who had given of themselves started towards the plain, before they stopped and instead drifted between the planes towards Prime. As the glowing columns winked out of existence, a rich voice, layered with voices of millions of timbres, echoed:
'I return your gods to you, and your heroes to resurrection. You have done well.'
As the final column of light vanished, we were left in darkness save for two points of glowing gold. A spiral of seven stars circled around the orbs, and we heard the vibrant voice of Noloth'e one last time. 'It did not come to pass. Thank you.'
The translucent outlines of our companions’ dying bodies slowly changed back into their whole selves.
We stood about, steeped in exhaustion and staring at each other in shock, unable to believe it was truly finished.
Then, to a man we raised a cheer to rock the mountaintop.
The party at Jenna’s Wayhouse that night was varying. The dwarves and barbarians caroused mightily, joined by many others. We bards took turns entertaining with song. Some merely sat and watched. I filled my sight with those companions I had thought lost and waited until things slowed down. Wearily, I got to my feet, bid my farewells and walked out the door whistling a happy tune.
If I could help slay a god, finding Jorinthal should be easy.
But first, I would sleep for a week.
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