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I re-wrote this awhile ago, but hesitated to post it. Given some events of late, possibly pertinent once again
Original Story: http://www.torilmud.org/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=15325
Reference -- Much later.
(Different People, Same Questions, by Lilira):http://www.torilmud.org/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=17828
Lorsalian rubbed his thumb along a hollow in the amulet to Mielikki he wore around his neck; his eyes wide and staring out from the hollow he sat alone in. He had always sat quietly before as the others discussed why they had joined the fight that would end today; why they fought against Auzorm'tvorl. It all sounded so high-minded – so well-thought out. For the half-elf, the only answer he possessed made him think himself a fool every time he thought it – Because it has to be done.
It is time a voice in his mind told him; somehow he knew it to be the mage drake who had labored for so long to breach the Vile One's defenses. He crept from his hiding place, and looked to the east.
There was a black blot on the noon-time sky – at least, the sun was high. It should have been noon. A whirlpool spun around the blot, slowly spreading the blot as if it was eating the life-filled sunlit sky. The lands were darkening to dusk, and a cold breeze stirred the dust on the road.
Lorsalian spared a moment to look west towards the city of Waterdeep. The guards shouted at the assembled caravans, “Food and weapons, in, and the city'll pay you later! Everything else, off the road! Stay or run in the city, just get out of the way!” The gates were already half-closed, and movement was easily seen on the walls.
Bells tolled inside. From what he had heard from friends in the city's temples, Lor knew that parishioners were being gathered to a special mass in the temples of Helm and Tyr. In front of them, priests of all the city's religions preached hope and faith. Behind them, the paladins and trusted acolytes used divination magic to screen those coming in. When all were inside, they would bar the gates, and hope the Tvorlites – those deluded souls who either believed the Vile One promised salvation, or welcomed the end – didn't cause a panic among the faithful as they wielded their battering rams to gain entry.
Part of the ranger – parts he didn't often like to think about – yearned to be on the streets, plowing those who attacked those temples with his arrows; sowing destruction. He had a promise to keep, though. He started towards the blot.
The silver dragon Cur'dcha'wenis stirred restlessly beneath him as the winds whipped around the mountain ledge upon which they stood. From the moment the silver drake had allowed the relatively tiny half-elf to perch atop him, it seemed, as the gaze of the drake fell on the horizon, that he yearned to see what was beyond that horizon – what had changed in the centuries since he was last waking.
Lorsalian felt much the same every time he looked up. In the skies above the ledge near the peak of Mt. Skelenak spun a storm that looked as if it was devouring the clouds around it. Why am I here again? he thought facetiously. An answer formed in his mind, and he found himself once again upon a border-less plane of white:
It is good that we shall do battle there, away from the forests. I miss their whispers and gentle touches, but I've never seen a scuffle there that didn't trample plants and disrupt the creatures. In memory of the green places, in memory of clear water and living earth, we fight!
He brought his other amulet up to examine it. Strangely luminescent, it nonetheless looked exactly like the amulet given to Llandrien by Queen Amlaruil and reforged by the kobold Tzxvu those months ago.
The moment he had fastened the clasps of the moonlight copy of amulet, Lorsalian's body had played host to the spirit of an elven rangeress; the plain of white a place in his mind where they discussed the coming battle.
Your attention wandered, the spirit admonished, will you be able to focus when our trial is at hand? You half-breeds, always too restless to direct your minds. I need you here, Ranger.
Bristling, Lorsalian let the spirit know exactly what he thought of the term 'half-breed.' His explanation was calm, varied, and extremely detailed. In the no-time of the white plain, he had time enough to explain anything.
You move well. Treat my bow gently, hey? It was a gift, from my husband. He gave it to me after I was allowed to watch him perform the Song of Trees - They worked on it, that I might be able to defend the forests without needing to cut more shafts for arrows.
A strange music filled Lor's mind for a moment; a slow, lilting tune that just seemed right in some inexplicable way – yet whose melody was just out of reach. Robed figures performing some sort of ceremony, deep within an ancient forest; an golden branch took shape in mid-air. He heard only a little of the melody before it was guiltily ceased, leaving him with only the impressions of the music and the images of the druids – yes, those robed figures were druids.
The scene shifted – they both stood on another plain. By the fires, and the wisps of smoke that rose from the bodies strewn around, he knew he was looking at the first attempt on Auzorm'tvorl. He bowed his head, and his heart sank. An elven woman laid dead, broken, at his feet. A trickle of living sap bled from the split arch of wood inches from her out-stretched hand. He reached out to the image standing in front of him to comfort her, but she waved him away.
You weren't supposed to see that, young one, the spirit apologized.
The image of a huge human warrior shimmering in the air above the mountain, between them and the portal above, brought the ranger back to present. With a bellow, the general shouted a challenge to the being beyond the swirl above, calling them all to battle against it. Lorsalian's own shout was drowned in the roar as the dragons took to the air and carried the foes of the Vile One through the maelstrom.
Demons and air elementals barred Cur'dcha'wenis and his tiny charge from the mountain – but they stood no chance against breath and claw, nor against arrows of pure lightning shot from the golden-hue bow the being atop him wielded. There didn't seem to be any way Lorsalian could miss! Of course not, his companion scolded within him, I'm not about to let you waste any time here. Pay attention, Ranger – you aren't helping your case, you know. You offered comfort earlier. The only rest I can find is in that creature's utter destruction.
Massive metal mechanical insects and dozens of Auzorm'tvorl's human followers met them on the mountain. He confined his shots to the thanatars first, but eventually, the Tvlorlites were all that remained. Despite his earlier feelings, he felt a small twinge of pity as they were decimated by his fellows. Get to the final battle, they thought, don't think about these poor souls – they made their choice, now make yours.
Back in the white, she borrowed a memory from shortly before – a fire-scorched and corpse-ridden path deep within a forest; and a silver dragon that once dwelt in the bloodied clearing at its end. They didn't intend to give Tsakchanar a chance, did they? Lorsalian set his jaw, and fired a spark into the head of an enemy knight right before its now dead body was torn to shreds.
Soon, only Auzorm'tvorl's golem, its thirty enemies and their companion spirits remained; the dragons had regretfully departed as they neared the sight of the massive slug.
The former dragon-riders, after a brief discussion and re-preparation, set to the Vile One's destruction. Living pillars of fire, earth, and air assaulted them, conjured by Auzorm'tvorl as a final defense. A massive mirror shattered to blows and a raised hand; followed by a sickening layer of flesh. The cavern shook and shimmered as spell and counter-spell roared on all sides. A second of the ranger's companions dropped to the ground. Look around you, the spirit beckoned between draws; those you have followed, who follow with you
– those who still live.
Both felt the grief over those who had already fallen. Who else would you see die? She asked. He couldn't see a single being – sure, there were deurgar, ogres, and trolls that he could have chosen, but how would he know they would step forward anyway?
“This must be done,” They both replied.
With his left hand on the bow (a loan from a fellow ranger), he raised his right; the other ranger within the amulet pulled back the string of her husband's bow, and when the arrow struck, another layer of the Vile One broke – as did the clasp on the amulet around Lorsalian's neck – freeing the spirit. It and the bow that fell from his grasp fizzled into moonlight and disappeared before Lor hit the ground.