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Tokiwong's Story Hour... aka Big trouble in little Cormyr

Aust Meliamne

First Post
The Citadel of Honin Tau in the early Morning:
Thev grunted as he looked over the Knight of the Black Horn, his arms bound kneeling in the snow by the fire. He couldn’t help but feel shame, never in the history of the Black Horn had such events transpired. The Black Horn had been corrupted, and were now nothing more then pawns for these devious albeit mysterious Shadis Masin. The Knight was young, not much older then himself, but a zealot to the cause; he had the Black Horn penchant of loyalty, but not the heart of the Code. The sun was still a ways off from rising over the eastern crags and shedding light on the citadel and the snowy crater it lied in. Thev sat down pondering what to do with the traitor, and how to do it while preserving the honor of himself and the Black Horn. Even if he were possibly the last left to follow the Code, he would not falter not now when his friends and allies needed him the most. The other party members could sense his dark mood and avoided the brooding tiefling, allowing him his space. Thev sighed, at a loss of what to do and simply glanced at the knight, unsure of how to handle himself.

Thev walked over to the silent knight, and kneeled, “What is your name?”

The knight barely acknowledged Thev’s presence, “My name,” he paused, “I am Jolin Nasad, third scion of the Knights of the Black Horn.”

“And what is your purpose here, Sir Nasad?” Thev replied his red eyes flaring.

The knight was silent; he kept his eyes locked with Thev’s but did not reply. He simply shifted slightly in the snow to adjust his seating. The rest of the party watched with concern, unsure of how Thev would handle himself.

Thev growled, “You will not answer, I see. You have the will of the Black Horn, but not the heart, nor the Code. Why have the Black Horn chosen this dark path, why have they forsaken the code?”

The knight bowed his head, “If you intend to kill me then get it over with, coward. I will not answer your questions, I am no traitor to the cause.”

“Liar! You betrayed my brothers, you and your fallen brethren; they betrayed my companions, Sir Lanholm, and the Code. You have not the honor to speak in such a derisive tone, nor will I allow it,” Thev was tempted to reach for his blade but stayed his hand. “I will not concede the code, I am done with you traitor, I wash my hands of you, and leave your fate to the justice of the Li’nai’ken. I am sure they will decide a proper punishment,” he turned and took a seat a good ways away from the party.

Kyoko during the discussion had slipped off into the snowy wastes, hoping to find the elves that had so graciously helped them earlier. It did not take long though for them to find her, they had been watching from some distance away, to make sure the party was safe and to possibly see what business they had at the citadel. Kyoko was able to convince the elves to assist her in the simple matter of taking the human knight into their custody to dispense justice as they saw fit.

Meanwhile back at the camp the party kept watch of the knight and prepared for the coming morning. When Kyoko eventually returned, the party began to plot on what to do with the knight, hand him over to the Li’nai’ken or dispense with him right away and move on.

Kyoko smiled, “Well I say we give him one last chance to speak?”

Talindra nodded, “He didn’t say much of anything before to Thev that was useful.”

Aust nodded, “I say we number him among the dead, he is our enemy after all and would have no qualms with doing the same to us.”

Rhea nodded, “Aye, lest we just finish him off, and focus on entering the citadel.”

Kyoko sighed, “I agree he would kill us, but think of Thev, old stone face is trying to preserve what little decorum there is left. I say we respect his wishes and hand him over to the Li’nai’ken,” she said wiggling her tail.

Little did anyone know that the simple movement of Kyoko’s tail was a sign for the Li’nai’ken to once again make their presence known in the citadel courtyard. The elves sprang from the darkness into the light not armed but surprising nonetheless. Ki’nida stepped forward once more as the leader of the elven warband. The party was shocked and slightly on edge, but after the few tense moments the party came to their senses and handed the prisoner over to the elves. Kyoko couldn’t help but respect the knight’s resolve even if he did serve a twisted cause. He was stalwart and true to the end.

After the fierce battle and the tense events afterwards the party relaxed and rested until the sun rose in the east, casting first light on the weary adventurers. The party gathered their things and proceeded to attempt to open the citadel, and explore the contents within. Once all of the preparations were made, the party moved towards the raised dais that lead to the large double doors emblazoned upon which was a red eye.

Xenon drew out the crimson red Eye, and slowly approached the door. As he approached the Eye began to glow with a fierce brilliant red light, and the door shimmered slightly. The closer he approached the more the gem glowed, until the whole citadel courtyard was awash with brilliant crimson red light, a slight humming very apparent. The party watched with awe and fear as Xenon placed his hands on the door and his hand simply passed through the door as if it were water. The party followed him up the steps and crowded around Xenon as he continued to push both of his hands through the door, then eventually just stepped through the door as if were only water or air. The party exchanged strange glances and followed the chilly winter morning biting at their exposed skin.

The party passed through the doorway and came out through a crystalline archway in a dark glade, the trees in the forest were massive dwarfing the party, the trees stood nearly 300 to 400 feet in height if measured. The glade was awash with twilight and the air was pleasant and temperate, not the numbing cold they had seen in Cormyr northern mountains. As the last of the party passed through the archway, the portal closed shut, the Eye lost its wonderful glow, returning to its normal state.

Xenon smiled, “I do believe we are inside the citadel, though inside maybe misconstrued as outside. From my reckoning, this is elsewhere, though I am not quite sure where elsewhere is.”

Thev blinked, “Are you saying we are inside the citadel? This looks slightly large to be inside a building.”

Kyoko whistled, “The Citadel of Honin Tau, the Citadel of Freedom in the old elven tongue. It seems to have more surprises then we had imagined. Xenon can we use the Eye to get back to where we came from?”

Xenon turned and approached the blue crystalline archway with the Eye in hand, but nothing happened. He shook his head no; “From my best guess this archway must have a different key, to open the portal hopefully back from where we came from. Whatever that key is I can only fathom, it seems my companions we are stuck here, wherever we are, for the time being.”

Aust grumbled, “I don’t like this one bit.”

Talindra sighed and looked around keeping her senses open. She was the first to spot movement ducking in and out between the trees. A small figure and humanoid in appearance. Talindra turned to the others; “I see something moving out between the trees, stay alert.” The figure stopped moving and slowly approached, keeping to the bushes.

Thev growled, “Never a dull moment,” his eyes glowing red with demon inspired power.

The approaching figure appeared to be a child, a young girl of elven descent, particularly drow descent, but she had soft lavender eyes and a black monkey tail, to distinguish her as something as of yet not encountered. The child smiled briefly from behind a bush but ducked down after seeing Thev.

Talindra laughed, “I think you scared her Thev, she is just a child.”

Thev shrugged calming himself, “Well I didn’t know, I thought,” he sighed, “you sure she is alone?”

Talindra nodded, “Come here little one, what are you doing out here in the forests, alone?”

The little girl poked her head up and came forward with a smile, looking curiously at the band of strangers armed to the teeth. Yet she showed the childish curiosity that overpowered her initial fear as she walked towards Talindra, “Koli masu nahi?”

Talindra blinked at the young girl’s speech, “Umm does anyone speak that language?”

Aust replied, “Not offhand, never heard of it,” his reply was mirrored by the rest of the party. It should be noted that with the events of the battle Tom, the one being who might have understood the child was still watching the horses back in the northern mountains of Cormyr outside of the crater. The party conferred and tried to make sense of the young girl’s language and manner, she seemed enamored by Talindra and intrigued by Kyoko who had a tail, not a monkey-like tail but a tail nonetheless. Rhea was an oddity to her though, Rhea had similar appearances to the girl, but no tail. Needless to say for a few moments the party was stumped.

After a few moments the party discovered that the young girl new some rudimentary Elven, and that they could communicate. They gleaned from her that her name was Mali and that she was a mauroth tausoth. Mali lived in a city not far from where they were called Sivael, and that she could take them there. She referred to the party as Out-worlders, and seemed to be more curious then afraid of the motley band.

We shall close there, saving the wonders of the city for another time…

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Aust Meliamne

First Post
The Outer World, in a forest of twilight:

Thev was puzzled as he looked at the strange mauroth tausoth youth. She was slight in build and had ebon skin with her shoulder length hair in white curls. Her eyes were soft and lavender and she had a beaming smile as she talked to the party as best as she could. Her command of Elven was not the best, but the party was able to get the young girl, Mali, to lead them to her home in the city, she called Sivael.

The band of heroes and their young guide traipsed through the ancient forest dwarfed by the massive trees the loomed over them. The night sky was not visible through the thick natural canopy of branches and leaves hundreds of feet overhead. The party traveled for some time, before reaching a large clearing stretching for miles, they had arrived at the city of Sivael.

The city was a wash of glowing light and crystalline spires. The spires nearly as tall as the massive trees of the forest they had passed through. The city was alive with glowing lights darting from one spire to another; the city was a strange exotic sight of delights. Mali led the party to a large 20-foot diameter crystalline disk embedded in the ground. The party was quizzical about the whole situation, but followed and stood on the disk. For a moment there was noting, then Mali waved her hands, shadowy wisps dancing over the crystal, it then launched into the air. The party was in a word astounded. The disk rose into the air quickly and whizzed by the multitude of crystalline spires with ease and grace, passing large crystalline flying ships, looking like sail boats made of crystal, of varying colors. The disk dipped under a ship, the parties’ reflection quite visible in the red crystalline underbelly of the flying craft. The disk finally came to rest floating next to a balcony. Mali bade the party to exit and step on the balcony. Mali followed the party onto the balcony and the crystalline disk flew away, most likely returning from whence it came. The balcony lead to a high archway with scintillating beads draped across the archway.

The interior was of the same crystal that made up the exterior of the spire, the room was awash with a motley of glowing colors. The floor was covered in various soft pillows, and Mali bade the party to take a seat. She went out of the room apparently looking for someone.

Thev sat down, breaking the silence, “I take it we are not anywhere near Cormyr?”

Rhea nodded, “I have been to this city before, in a dream. But I could not believe this city existed. It is too fantastic.”

Xenon sat with a sigh; “Well I can honestly say that the magic at work here is not totally beyond my comprehension.”

Talindra sat down on a large pillow, quite comfortable, “Well whatever this all is, I am impressed. Just like Tom said, this has become quite the adventure.”

Aust was silent and sat; his eyes belied the amazement in his heart. As he sat Mali returned with an older male native, he was dressed in leather armor and had a sword at his side, he seems as stunned to see the party as they were to see him. He took a moment to gather himself before setting eyes on Rhea, his eyes opening with amazement.

“Why you have returned, just as the elder predicted…” the young man says his tail swishing back and forth excitedly.

Rhea blinked, “What are you talking about?”

The lad blinked, “When you came before, that was not an accident, it must have been fate. The elder said you would return. I am glad it is not a moment too soon.”

Rhea looked confused, “You mean it wasn’t a dream?”

He continued, “No, I remember it very clearly. And now you have returned, just as the Elder said you would, by Serael. Peace may finally to this land.”

The party exchanged strange looks as Rhea continued confused, “Then where is this Elder, maybe she can answer my questions?”

“Alas, I wish she could, nut she has fallen into an undying sleep, shortly after you left this place,” he looks down sadly, “before she entered her sleep she said you would return.”

Xenon listened with mock amusement while focusing his thoughts inward, using the power of the ring given to him by Owen, “Lucas, can you hear me?” he thought.

There was a moment of silence, then a weak voice returned, “Xenon, is that you? I can barely hear you, are you on another plane?”

Xenon furrowed his brow, “I believe so, and I think we found those mauroth tausoth beings your were so enamored with old man. If it is possible I think you should join us to offer any guidance you can.”

Lucas retorted his mental voice faint, “I will see what I can do, I will need time to prepare.”

Xenon shook himself back to the present, to see the group discussing their next plan of action. It seemed that the young lad, was named Kalas and Mali was his sole sibling. The city they were in was the last bastion of his race, the mauroth tausoth. It seemed long ago their race was nearly hunted to extinction by and outworlder named Lathos. Lathos was name already familiar to the party although, they knew him as someone in a myth that had brought freedom from the yolk of a terrible empire of corruption and evil. The city of Sivael although strong, suffered infrequent attacks by the forces of the Shadis Masin, who seemed to be imprisoned in this world with the mauroth tausoth. The heroes decided they need more information before they could act, and Kalas suggested that they should consult with the Lin Tau, a circle of castrated magus whose knowledge was quite in depth in these matters. Kalas offered to arrange an audience with the Lin Tau and the party was more then happy to let him. When Kyoko inquired about the Shield of Lathos and its possible whereabouts, the party had originally gone to the Citadel of Honin Tau to find said shield, he said that it is possible that it lied on the Lost Isle far to the East across the blue waters. He said it was a place that the mauroth tausoth could not go, and beyond their reach. All had died or at least not returned from such a foolish journey. Kyoko looked frustrated, but decided to mull over the brief clues she had.

Rhea sat down and sighed, “Well I guess we must wait until Kalas returns before we can make a decision on what step to proceed to first. I personally believe we should find this supposed second Eye first.”

Talindra nodded in agreement, “I agree with you Rhea.”

Kyoko shook her head no, “We need more information on what is really going on, their story of Lathos conflicts with the stories I have read about him. There may be something larger at work here. If I could just figure it out.”

Thev turned to Aust, “You know right about now, I would take fighting goblins in the sewers then this mess we have gotten ourselves into.”

Aust chuckled, “I agree with you friend, I totally agree.”

Xenon relaxed on a large plush pillow waiting, he looked at his ring nervously is patience stretching to the breaking point. He finally muttered, “Lucas, where are you.”

Before the party could react to his words, there was a flash in the center of the room. As there eyes adjusted to the twilight once more, the enigmatic Lucas once again stood before them. They were breathless once more, and exchanged puzzled glances. Xenon smiled to himself, “Right on time I suppose,” he muttered.

Lucas smiled at Xenon, “I would like to see you travel to a different plane at the drop of a hat, Xenon.”

Xenon snorted, “Well at least you are here.”

Rhea blinked, “Lucas how did you? How did you know we were here?”

Lucas smiled, “Xenon gave me the link I needed, the rest was quite easy for those that know how, although returning is quite another story I am afraid. This realm seems to have a one way conduit, the way out seems to be sealed and purposely so. Leaving will be as difficult for me as it will be for you. I assume you have all come up with a plan.” Lucas sat and drew up his hood over his thin angular clean-shaven face. His graying curly locks contrasting with his bright blue eyes.

Kyoko nodded with suspicion in her eye, “Yes we have, we wait for now until we can have an audience with the Lin Tau. They should provide us with the answers we need to make an educated decision, Lucas.”

Kyoko stood back waiting in the doorway, she never did quite trust Lucas or Xenon, and even now felt that the old man was playing a game she did not enjoy. They both seemed to be focused on the abstract and not on the people, at least in her eyes. She swished her tail in thought mulling over the events of the evening, and what both of them hoped to gain from this current predicament.

Thev, along with Aust waited silently, neither having any real input to add to the current conversation. Thev would have been quite content anywhere else except where he was. He did not quite understand the events transpiring, though he did know that there was a presence of evil at the root. The problem for him, was what could possibly be the evil. The Shadis Masin were evil, he understood that, but there was something else, which he could not place his finger on. It was pervasive and at times haunted him, maybe it was the feeling of uneasiness that he was not getting any closer to bringing the murderers of fellow Knights to justice. Aust was content to shine his blade and converse with Blak-Fang on a number of topics relating to warfare.

Finally the young lad, Kalas returned with news that the Lin Tau would grant them an audience. The party, along with Lucas followed Kalas onto a crystalline disk. The disk whisked the group upward over the crystalline spires then began to plummet downward in a controlled spiral, spiraling around a glowing lavender crystalline tower. Down towards a vaporous mist. The disk broke through the mist and hovered within a small clearing of bare trees, there was a small pond of crystal clear water at the center of the clearing with a gnarled black tree standing over it. Kalas bade the party to step off and approach the pond.

The party stepped off and entered the cool misty clearing wary, it seemed like there was a rush of whispers all around. Akin to a symphony of crickets, yet far more sinister. The party was nervous and looked around a slight yet stern male voice called out, “Welcome those from beyond our world, we are the Lin Tau.”

“You wish for us to help you?” another older voice called from the darkness.

“We have questions,” Kyoko replied nervously.

“We have answers outworlder, what are your questions?” an effeminate male voice replied.

Aust and Thev both nervous drew their blades and looked around wary. Lucas continued to smile enigmatically listening, while Xenon watched Kyoko parley with voices with a mirthful grin. Rhea listened in silence her hand resting on Dancer’s hilt. Kyoko continued, “We wish to know about Lathos and the Shadis Masin. What can you tell us?”

“We know of these things, Lathos is the butcherer of our people, the Shadis Masin are his agents of destruction against us,” a weaker older male voice retorted.

“I have heard that, but that conflicts with the knowledge we have learned of him. Is it possible that both stories may both be right and wrong?” Kyoko continued her eyes shifting back and forth amongst the mist-covered trees.

A figure stepped from the tree line towards the small pool. He was short in height and slight in build, a purple robed flecked with crystals billowed loosely across his body. His face was ebon like the rest of his kind his eyes though were a soft red and his hair was long and silk like. He had a soft feminine look, which was further enhanced by his soft smooth voice, “I am Sacha and I believe I may be able to answer to your questions.”

Kyoko lead the group over to the pond and met Sacha halfway, “Thank you Sacha, I am Kyoko, I was hoping you could shed some light on Lathos, and the Shadis Masin.”

Sacha nodded, “Hmm, Lathos he is well known to my people for the evil that he brought against us. It was long ago, when I was much younger; I had only first joined the ranks of the Lin Tau, a novice when he came with his followers. They were as they called themselves, Tel-quessir,” gesturing to Aust.

Aust nodded, “Elves, it is elven for the people.”

“These elves seemed to be explorers or possibly advance scouts of an army we do not know but they were well armed, but came in peace at first. They arrived from the sky on ships of gold and silver, they were as mystified by us as we were of them. They brought strange ways to our kind; I was among the first to meet with them and with Lathos. He was a kind man with an honest soul I thought, slightly more trusting then I thought a man in his position should be. His closest men were not of his caliber though. They were schemers and plotters; they had the taste of something foreign to my people, ambition. Or maybe it is a natural progression of society to become better then our fellow man,” Sacha paused thinking.

Kyoko nodded taking in the knowledge, “He seems like such a good man, what happened, what caused the change?”

Sacha snapped himself to reality, “I do not know honestly, I have pondered that same question for quite some time. But I do know that his closest agents, they are the Shadis Masin. I do not know the why and how of it, but they somehow tapped into something dark and powerful. It shattered their colony of Shikar, and they were born. There were five in number, scions of destruction and genocide. Valkar the Black-Hearted, general of their undead armies, a dark soul of a warrior and bitter scourge of our people, he was the first to rise up against our people. Followed by the baleful Lansinoon, a mad creature bent on bringing his mad visions to fruition. The beast of shadow and flame, Vorgrimm scoured the eastern lands and destroyed my ancestral home, he was more then he was a beast of epic proportions. And the foul enchantress Soriel Thela destroyed the sacred havens in the northlands and put to death thousands of my kind,” he paused clenching his fist.

Kyoko nodded soaking in all that information, “But you said there were five, who is the fifth?”

Sacha returned his gaze to Kyoko, “He was one of my kind, he is the betrayer, K’thelis.”

Kyoko nodded and thought upon the words, and was about to reply when she heard an explosion overhead, a loud boom and then sudden appearance of crystalline debris falling down through mist. Landing well away from the party but close enough to alarm then. Kalas called for the party to join him quickly; it seemed that the city was under attack. The party rushed towards the crystalline disk and climbed on, but Lucas simply disappeared in a flash of magic.

The party was whisked high up into the sky to see several black crystalline ships, each nearly 100 feet long, assaulting various spires, crewed by undead. Kalas snarled and the disk whipped under the nearest ship then rose up level with the main deck. The heroes dashed off the disk and fanned out prepared to do battle with the gaunt skeletal undead. This particular ship harbored nearly fifteen man-sized undead plus two large brutish zombies.

Rhea clutched Dancer tightly in her hands and allowed the power of her goddess Eilistraee to pour threw her, forcing most of the undead to flee, unable to face the glory of holiness. Many scrambled over the far edge plummeting down into the mists, with nary a scream. Both Thev and Aust waded into combat hacking those few undead that remained apart, while Talindra knocked an arrow and fired shots into the vicious melee, picking off the vagrant undead with reckless abandon. Xenon used his magic to unleash magic missiles into the fray as Thev and Aust engaged the large brutes. Rhea flanked the large brute facing Thev and they fought bravely trying to bring the undead creatures down. Aust unleashed powerful attacks that nearly crippled the already dead brute, but not before it returned a smashing blow to his right side. He could hear several of his ribs crack under the power of the blow. Thev was doing worse though even with Rhea’s aid the creature hand landed several smashing blows that had Thev coughing up his own blood. As the creature raised its bone axe to slice Thev in twain, Aust finished his own opponent clipping of its leg and then spun and impaled the second creature killing it for the second time, making great use of his cleave ability.

Talindra spied out of the corner of her eye a strange sight, an ebon black ebon winged creature was pulling a child from a spire, no wait, and the creature was pulling Mali. Talindra screamed aloud as the others turned to see the creature fly from the balcony and drops its victim on a one of the waiting ships. It then flew upward high into the night sky. The party watched as it arced up then dove down, Kalas tried to dive but it was too late; the beast crushed him as it landed on the deck of the ship. The party was horrified as the creature growled, dripping greenish saliva. It stood nearly eight feet on the shoulders and had a sleek reptilian allure to it. It crouched low on its four legs its red predator-like eyes scanning the party preparing to attack.

Talindra lashed enraged and swung Midnight, the creature dipped low under her strike and slammed her with a vicious claw across her chest sending her sprawling. Rhea chanted and prepared her blade with true strike, Dancer glowed with holy power. Thev and Aust dashed forward to head of the beast from getting to Kyoko or Xenon who were both preparing spells. Kyoko called upon mage armor and moved into the fray while Xenon launched more magic missiles at the creature. Thev landed a glancing blow, while Aust landed a quick slash across the face. The creature snarled some of its wounds quickly sealing right before their eyes.

The ebon beast read back its wings spreading wide and spit out a spray of a greenish acid over the party. The spray was quick but most of the party was quicker, excluding Thev and Xenon who were both caught amidst the spray and were burned painfully. Talindra rolled to her left and dove in with a quick slash but the beast was still quicker then her slashing blade. Aust followed up with a powerful strike driving Blak-Fang through the beast’s side, opening a wound that would have been mortal on a lesser creature. Thev shrugged off the acid and tried to attack but pain overrode his senses and he could not hit his mark. Rhea moved to strike, Dancer guided by divine forces. Dancer hit its mark and the beast howled in pain, snarling at Rhea. Kyoko flanked the beast and attempted to stab it but once again the creature was much too fast. Xenon summoned a flaming sphere and singed the beast, focusing his magical energies.

Talindra spun and finally landed a vicious slash along its left side even as the gash on the right side healed with terrible speed. The creature dove on to Thev tearing him with a vicious bite sending the mighty paladin sprawling on his back. The weakened crystalline floor gave way and the two crashed through the deck and nearly out of the bottom of the craft. Thev was able to grab a ledge before plummeting hundreds of feet to his death. He clung for dear life as the creature held onto his lower leg snarling. Before the group could react Kyoko dove down through the hole and attempted to impale the creature, but to no avail. She was able to dislodge it though and the beast plummeted far below into the mist spreading its bat like wings at the last moment. Kyoko grabbed the same ledge Thev was on lucky and hoisted herself up; Thev did the same panting.

The group came together on the main deck much worse for the wear and watched as the black ships crewed by undead began to retreat. One of the ships exploded in a fiery ball before getting too far and its remains spewed forth into the mist hundreds of feet below. The party watched grimly as the rest of the undead fled with many captives.

Kyoko and Aust went down below to see if they could find anything of use and rummaged through the holds looking for anything of value, while dire events were about to take place above them. In their search they found two chests filled with gems of many shapes and sizes. Kyoko through the use of a detect magic spell was able to determine that three of the gems had particularly strong magical power. In the meanwhile, other events were transpiring right above them.

Thev grimaced and coughed up blood, “This, is horrible... We should…” he could not continue his words before collapsing, his body shaking terribly. The party turned and tried to calm him, but there was nothing they could do. His mouth was eschewing blood with every word and cough. He could not stand and his ebon black skin quickly grew more pallid. Xenon went to the wheel of the ship and with some quick thinking and a bit of luck was able to will the ship with his magical talents towards a spire. The party pulled together and hoisted Thev off of the ship and into the spire, luckily it was a place of healers and many of the wounded had already been brought here for care. Talindra along with Rhea laid Thev down on a cot his eyes glassy and far away. Rhea clutched his hands tightly, tears welling up in her eyes. Talindra watched unsure of what to do, while resting a hand on Thev’s shoulder hoping the paladin would get better any moment.

Thev coughed up blood, “Rhea, come close…” he whispered his health deteriorating right before their eyes.

Rhea leaned in close, “Thev hold on, we can get you through this, tell us what is wrong…” her face awash with tears.

Thev hacked and spoke weakly, “I… I always,” he could not continue blood eschewing from his throat, life draining quickly from the mighty paladin. Rhea clutched his hand tightly screaming for Thev to stay with them. Xenon turned his head, his face was cold and distant, and he was focused on where Lucas had gotten himself to.

But the rest of this story shall be concluded on another night.

Aust Meliamne

First Post
The Crystalline City of Sivael:

Thev reached out into the growing inky blackness, the voices sounded so far away. Mere illusions, lacking any real substance. The only thing that felt real was the pain welling up inside of him. He was torn between worlds, painfully. Something was gripping his hand tightly, something anchoring him in this place. The touch was warm, and pleasing, “Mother…” he said weakly.

Rhea looked down at Thev pleadingly, “Thev… please stay with us… what is happening to you.”

Talindra looked away, she couldn’t stand to see Thev like this, and he was so weak. Xenon was lost in thought not really focusing on the moment and was busy trying to mentally contact Lucas via the silver ring. Just at that point Kyoko and Aust showed up hauling in a large chest full of precious gems and crystals of many sizes. Aust placed the chest down while Kyoko took stock of the situation; it was shocking in the least.

Kyoko broke the silence first, “What the hell happened?”

Rhea replied still gripping Thev’s hands tightly, “I don’t know I think Thev is dying and here is nothing I can do for him.”

Kyoko grimaced and stepped back shocked at seeing the strong paladin in so weak a condition, she turned away. Aust stood by Thev’s side, but could do little more to help the situation. Xenon clenched his fists trying to mentally contact and was about to give up when he suddenly got a reply.

Lucas spoke mentally to Xenon, “I see that the enemy has fled the city, I am quite impressed with their flying ships of crystal.”

Xenon replied, “Well that may be pleasing to hear but we still have a slight problem. I believe our stalwart paladin has turned ill, and the ailment seems to be of a magical nature.”

Lucas replied, “Hmm, give me a moment. I shall be there momentarily.”

Xenon nodded and turned to Rhea, “I do not think there is much more we can do for him. If anything he may slow us down, in his current condition.”

Rhea growled, “Shut up Xenon! I am not going to let Thev die. Not like this.”

Xenon shrugged, but before he could reply Kyoko spoke up, “Not that he would care, look at him, a pathetic waste. I won’t leave Thev behind like this. He may be a stone face but he has a good heart.”

Xenon shrugged once more, “It was merely a suggestion, it seems this ailment of his, it is of a magical nature. I would bet that the ebon creature had something to do with this. Lucas may be able to help more so then myself, he should be along eventually.”

Kyoko growled, “And where is our enigmatic master wizard? Once the action begins he disappears, is that how he intends to treat us? You ask me he isn’t any better then the Shadis Masin, he is trying to play us like pawns. I don’t play other peoples games, I play by my rules!”

With that there was a flash right next to Xenon. Lucas appeared and smiled; “It seems that forces at work in this world have forced our hand. They have made the first move, but if we work quickly we can even the odds.” He walked slowly over to Thev and knelt down, “Hmm, it seems to me that,” he ran his hand over Thev’s face, “yes, Thev is in peril. I cannot stop what is coursing through his body. Whatever is at work here is destroying his soul, and the bonds that tie to his physical frame.”

Rhea blinked, “What does that,” she paused, “can we save him?”

Lucas stood, and muttered a few words then waved his hand as glowing sparks of energy coursed over Thev. Thev then became still, a death-like stillness but he still breathed weakly. “There I have done what I can, he is in a stasis. This should slow the process until we can find a cure for his condition if one exists.” Lucas shuffled over to an empty cot and sat, “I have done all I can.”

Rhea laid her head down on Thev’s chest and cried silently, while various mauroth tausoth healers tended to the paladin as best as they could. Luckily the healers were able to explain a few things for the party. The ebon winged creature as called a “dizra”. The dizra’s acid seemed to have a very detrimental effect to outsiders and not only dissolved their physical form but their soul as well. Luckily since Xenon was only human, he only experienced the physical side effects. But Thev was wasting away very slow now, and time would be of the essence. There was a cure it seemed, in the Cursed City to the east, there was a temple to Serael that had a fountain, the water in this fountain was touched with her divinity, and is said to have powerful healing effects. Course no one in Sivael had been to the Cured City in centuries, but rumors still persisted that it was still there. The party decided to use the small flying ship they had taken from the undead and travel to the Cursed City. Luckily Xenon had figured out just how these ships worked so travel would not be too difficult. Lucas said he would do any repairs needed to the ship and he could have it like new by the morning, of course he also wanted a first hand look at the magic powering these craft.

In the course of the conversation the party also found that three of the gems that Kyoko and Aust had found were a highly magical nature. One was simply called Malaki, a gem great wild magic and could create any number of effects. The other two were ioun stones, one a dusty rose color the other a deep red color. After some deliberation Kyoko decided to keep them all since no one else in the party seemed to want them. It seemed it had been a long night for everyone, and they all just wanted to get some sleep.

Before going to sleep for the night Rhea tried to see if she could make contact with her goddess and possibly understand the events that were transpiring around her. She found a secluded balcony stripped her clothes and danced under the green moon trying to make contact with her goddess.

She danced for many minutes before feeling the surging power of divinity rip through her soul, “My daughter, welcome.”

Rhea nodded slowly to the voice, which had no face, “Mistress I have need of your counsel.”

“Then speak,” she returned, the words vibrating through Rhea’s soul.

“I wish to know of this second soul within me, what has happened to me and her.” Rhea replied slowly in the presence of overwhelming divinity.

“She is an elder, of these people. My lost children, she attempted to travel to a place she could not go, the Lost Isle. It destroyed her; in those last moments I took her soul and placed them in a waiting vessel. Worthy of the monumental task ahead.”

Rhea nodded slowly; “I do not know what you wish me to do?”

“Patience child, in time you will know what to do, but for now you must stay the course. The water is the catalyst in this next transformation, which will take place. You will be reborn, but you must have patience. You must be true to yourself, and to others. For you are your father’s daughter.”

“What will happen to me?”

“Patience child,” the overwhelming power of divinity had withered away and Rhea was alone once more. She continued to dance inspired by the presence of divinity. The city was awash with varying colorful glows, as it seemed life here was slowly returning to normal.

In the meanwhile in a small room, Talindra and Xenon were sitting in silence. Though they were communicating all the while mentally via their rings. The rest of the party was trying to get some sleep while the two conversed.

Talindra sighed, mentally to Xenon, “So you think we have a chance of finding this water for Thev?”

“There is always a chance, not that I believe in chance. We must not forget that we still need to find a way home that is paramount to our success. I do not know about you, but I already miss dearest Cormyr,” he mused.

“I do too, but we need to address the situation at hand. I mean Thev; we have to help him soon. Hopefully Lucas will be able to help us. I am still slightly angry that he left us. But he did help Thev, or at least bought us some time, “ Talindra replied.

“I am sure he had his reasons, and indeed if you noticed the craft that exploded, I do believe that Lucas was assisting us in his own way. Wizards of his power tend to do things by their own rules. I would not doubt that even now that crafty old man is scheming up something,” Xenon smirked inwardly.

Lucas interjected, “You think so Xenon?”

Talindra blinked, “Lucas, have you heard our whole conversation?”

“Why yes, and I find it quite interesting to say the least. And I apologize Talindra for leaving so quickly, but I felt a great explosion of shadow weave in the city. And I had to go and see what it could be. I would not leave you alone on purpose. Unless there was a need. But even now I can say that my path is not your own, although you will all be going to the Cursed City I will head north to Shikar. There is something there I must see for myself, hopefully once your task is done in the Cursed City, you can join me in Shikar,” he sighed with fatigue from the mental speech.

Xenon thought for a moment, “Always on the go old man?”

Talindra scowled, “You are leaving us again? Why? Come with us I am sure we will need your help! Lucas talk to me!”

Lucas replied with a gentle laugh, “Talindra you have grown much in the last few years, I am sure you can handle the trials ahead of you. You must be strong. While Xenon, there is little I can say that you do not know stay the course my friend. You have a long road ahead of you. I am tired and should get some rest, I will see you all in the morning.”

Talindra sighed and laid her head down on a pillow and tried to get some sleep while Xenon poured over his spellbook and prepared his spells for the next day. The rest of the party rested and prepared for the next day. They would set out for the Cursed City with a crew of brave mauroth tausoth men to hopefully find the water for Thev and possibly exact revenge for the senseless attack against Sivael. Morning came all too quickly, well not so morning, as the world was still awash with twilight. The moon hanging overhead, not a single star in the sky. It was a strange sight for the heroes, who were expecting the morning glow of the sun to rouse them. It seems this world had quite a few strange anomalies, eternal twilight being one of them.

Talindra awoke to the feeling of something soft nuzzling up against her. She giggled slightly and open her eyes, only to lock eyes with a grinning badger, “TOM!!!!!” she screamed.

Tom blinked and leapt away, “Ack, I forget about you mortals and your morning breath.”

Talindra sat up, “What! shut up Tom. And how in the hell did you get here?”

Tom shrugged, “I just wanted to how you were all doing, I mean you have been gone for quite sometime. I can only stay and guard the horses for so long. I mean it was snowing and everything. Oh by the way there is a civil war going on in Cormyr. It seems alliances of northern nobles have turned against the crown,” he grinned lecherously, “so how are you doing?”

“What? A rebellion?” Talindra countered.

Tom sat down and nodded, “Yes a rebellion, Talindra. It seems the forces of the Shadis Masin may be on the move. But enough of that where is the rest of the group?”

Talindra blinked and yawned, “Most likely getting ready to go to the Cursed City, Thev is not well Tom.” She got up and started getting dressed, “But I am glad you are here, though I am not quite sure how you got here.”

“Of course you are, everyone wants a piece of Tom,” he said grinning.

“You are impossible!”

“Just joking,” Tom hopped down and circled Talindra, “well lets hurry up and see the rest of the group.” With that Talindra and Tom went out to meet the rest of the party. Who were all equally stunned to see Tom, and each having their reservations on his presence here in this world. Lucas made finally came from his resting area and approached Talindra.

He smiled, “Before I left I wanted to give you this Talindra,” he pulled a pin from his cloak and handed it to Talindra, “When you return to Cormyr, show this to Owen he will know what it means and what to do. Please be safe and I apologize for involving you in this, Talindra.” He turned and walked away, glancing back, “Good luck, all of you, and be well.”

As Lucas left he sent a mental message to Talindra, “This is goodbye, perhaps for ever, perhaps for only a little while, Talindra. Please be safe my child, my path is nearing its end, but yours, you have so far to go. Your father would be proud at how far you have come. Goodbye.”

Talindra was speechless as Lucas entered the building. She turned solemnly to the group, who was all equally puzzled by Lucas’ words. The party piled onto the crystalline ship, Xenon took the helm and it glided upwards easily and then began to travel east, towards the Cursed City. The ship glided easily through the twilight above the massive trees of the ancient forest that surrounded Sivael, gliding high above the misty clouds that hovered just above the trees. The green moon, The Watcher as the natives called it, hung high in the clear starless sky. The night air was cool to the touch but pleasant, it was peaceful here, so high above the world, and beautiful. Hours must have passed in this beautiful silence.

The native in the crow’s nest waved excitedly to the crew below and Aust Turned to see what was causing the ruckus. Just as he turned the native went silent. He turned back and saw that he was gone, he growled and drew Blak-Fang. The rest of the party and the men on the deck became alert, there eyes open and attentive.

Aust growled peering off into the darkness, “I see something, it is large, and winged. And it is coming this way.” The rest of the party to see what was coming towards them. The beast was large nearly ten feet in length with four massive legs and large bat-like wings, a manticore. The creature flew by overhead and launched needles across the deck, felling three of the crew and injuring many more. Aust sustained a glancing blow and growled for the men to get to cover. The beast landed on the deck with a roar and swatted one of the crew away, his body landing lifeless and shredded. The manticore roared as the party moved into combat.

Aust was the first to scramble across the deck and swing at the massive beast, Blak-Fang biting into the creature deeply. The creature swung back with its paws striking Aust hard across his side, leaving a bloody scar. Talindra fired an arrow from her position, she hit her mark with ease and drew back another arrow. Rhea chanted a divine prayer and prepared Dancer, her bastard sword, with true strike. Xenon unleashed a flaming sphere on the manticore but it was much faster the he expected and it avoided the flaming ball.

Aust dipped and rolled to his side and stabbed Blak-Fang into the manticore regaining his footing bringing the shield to bear. The manticore roared and mauled Aust with a flurry of claw strikes culminating in a vicious bite that left the warrior with a gash across his right shoulder. Talindra let another arrow fly but it went wide as she tried to avoid hitting Aust. Rhea moved into melee and let Dancer guide its way into the right side of the manticore, it roared. Xenon unleashed a volley of magic missiles on the beast, while trying to guide the flaming sphere, which still had no luck in hitting the manticore.

Aust stood his ground growing enraged and unleashed a powerful blow striking downward on the manticore. The manticore looked to be in a sad state but continued unabated ripping vicious claw across Aust’s side and then swatted at Rhea. Talindra moved into melee and swung with both Midnight and her shortsword, but only Midnight left a wound on the creature. Xenon unleashed more magic missiles and pummeled the manticore as it staggered.

Before Aust could react Kyoko came on deck from resting. She drew out the Malaki gem and said loudly, “Malaki!” A green lightning bolt leapt out from the gem and turned the manticore into a mess of gore and smoking flesh. She sighed slightly, and went back to rest. The rest of the party was stunned but glad that the creature was put down. In the distance they could hear a cacophony of roars from many other manticores, nerves were tense indeed.

But it seemed for the time being that the manticores would keep their distance. The ship moved higher into the sky and traveled onward, under Xenon’s guidance. The ship continued on unabated when in the distance Xenon began to make out various floating shapes approaching them in the sky. They were ships, crystalline ships akin to the one they were currently using. But there was one that was far larger, nearly 4 times the size of the one they were currently on. Xenon brought their ship to a halt as the others in the party looked to the approaching ships, which all stopped about 300 feet away from the their ship.

Xenon began to plot a new course when he felt a strange cold presence in his mind, “Hmm hello,” the voice was deep yet musical.

Xenon looked around, “This is interesting, and you are?” to the intruding presence in his mind.

“I am Valkar, and you would be?” the voice retorted.

“I am Xenon, and I can assume you are on the large ship in front of us?”

“That I am, and thank you Xenon, I will have need of you for a moment,” with that Xenon felt a surge of dark energy course through his body. It was painful as he felt his consciousness displaced by a darker presence. It was a strange feeling, he had no control of his body and was simply a passenger in his own body. Valkar was in control now.

Xenon smiled at and looked at the group.

We shall end this here for now.

Aust Meliamne

First Post
DM's Update
Currently in the campaign now we are about 6-8 sessions ahead of the story hour the characters have returned to Cormyr. But their problems are far from over, and for many new ones have sprouted up. The characters currently hover around 7th to 8th level, playing twice a week can do that I reckon. But should slow soon as I begin my Oriental Adventures campaign, tentavely called Legend of the Seven Stars.

We picked up a new hero as well and lost one of our beloved players. The player of Kyoko has left the group but her character lives on as an NPC. While we gained a player and hero, Rydia Gainsborough (Human Sorcerer 6).

Current Party as of right now:

Thev Blackmoon, Tiefling Paladin 7 (NPC)
Aust Meliamne, Wood Elf Fighter 4/Barbarian 4
Talindra Braegen, Sun Half-Elf Sorcerer 2/Fighter 2/Ranger 3 (Have not recieved updated character yet. She is 8th level as well.)
Rhea Silverlyre, Drow Fighter 2/Cleric 5
Xenon Morieth, Human Evoker 7/Cormyr War-Mage 1
Kyoko Monroe, Tiefling Rogue 1/Fighter 4/Sorcerer 2 (NPC, she began as a Bard but the player did not like the class so we retooled her into her current configuration. She still sucks in combat ^_^.)
Rydia Gainsborough, Human Sorcerer 6

Overall things have moved well and the campaign has shifted into phase two at the current time. The next set of stories will hopefully focus on the war brewing in Cormyr and tying up plenty of loose ends. There will be many personal subplots, to tie up as well. And some some new villains and many old ones will defintely appear. Did I mention I just got Lords of Darkness.


*Aust is dealing with a new role of leadership, and a new family...

*Rhea is trying to deal with the changes in her life... her goddess and her father Owen

*Thev is seeking to bring the Black Horn justice, and dealing with his feelings for Rhea

*Talindra is dealing with the loss of two people very close to her...

*Xenon's past will be showing up very soon to haunt him once more...

*Kyoko is dealing with another betrayal... one that may break her...

*Rydia is at the moment a traveler... but I have a feeling her past will come into play as well

I am really enjoying the game and the players are for the most part having a blast. There are many plot twists and the story itself is pretty loose, they still have many unanswered questions. Oh and I have a newfound respect for Smite thanks to Thev. And of course in the future look for much Buttkicking for Goodness.

Hopefully my players agree as well. And yes Aust, I am still mad you killed my Hydra. :D

Aust Meliamne

First Post
The Outworld, East of Sivael, above an expanse of forest:

A powerful being had possessed, when we last left our heroes, Xenon. Valkar the Black Hearted of the Shadis Masin controlled Xenon’s body while Xenon’s consciousness floated within his mind. He could only communicate via the silver ring given to him by Lucas and even then only with Talindra. The party began to parley with the strange creature, which inhabited Xenon’s body. It knew much about them, having gleaned information from its estranged Shadis Masin peers, and wanted to work a deal with them. It was obvious that Valkar wanted the Eye for his own foul purpose, but to what end they could not fathom.

Xenon communicated to Talindra that Valkar was relying on a powerful node of Shadow Magic that lied elsewhere. The power he was manifesting was not his own. If it were possible they could sever the link, but they would need to find this source of power. Talindra tried to maintain a modicum of peace by placating Valkar as best she could. Valkar also mentioned he knew where the Cursed City was and could get them the water. With that, he released Xenon’s body, allowing Xenon to once again control his own body. The party mulled over the pros and cons of working with such a creature, and decided that it would be best to follow for now and get the water they needed for Thev, and now for Kyoko it seemed. Kyoko was now suffering from a milder case of the wasting poison that affected Thev. Rhea also wanted some water for herself, but she would not say why. Eventually the party agreed and they followed Valkar’s immense flying black-crystalline ship towards the Cursed City.

Valkar had not lied to them he did in fact know where the city was; it was his base of operations. The city was similar to Sivael, but the buildings were twisted and many collapsed. The crystalline spires did not glow as brightly in the eternal twilight; an aura of shame and lost glory hung over the city like a pall. At it center was an immense Crystalline Citadel shaped like a Black Dragon spreading its wings over the city’s horizon, Valkar’s Citadel. The party’s ship docked inside the citadel and they waited for Valkar to present himself. From their vantage point they could see that this area of the citadel was rife with activity as mauroth tausoth toiled as slaves alongside undead natives. Sentries swathed in shadow were watching them. Valkar’s nature was quite apparent from this display.

Valkar finally made an appearance to the heroes in the flesh. He was an elf, with pale skin and long black hair, dressed in a suit of black leather that clung to his body as if part of him. His eyes were cold and devoid of any semblance, but yet reeked with intelligence. His manner was delicate, and he seemed to have a distinct distaste for men, but took to Talindra right off. Yet his amorous advances were more like a predator toying with its prey then actual seduction. He wanted to invite the party into his citadel but they refused, and wanted to retrieve the Water first, Valkar a man of his word agreed, and left though slightly disappointed.

The party plotted and planned while they waited for the water, they were not sure how well they could trust this Valkar and it was apparent his power far outclassed their own. But he had weaknesses, his power was not his own, if they could strip him of it, they might have a chance. His personality might play in their favor as well but they would need time to decipher his esoteric ways. Many hours passed and a shadow sentry arrived bringing the Water they requested. But he only brought enough for one person to use. Rhea checked the Water and determined it was what they seek, despite Thev’s ailing condition she passed it to Kyoko. Kyoko was cured, and she was also fused with power of the divinity, adding to her otherworldliness. The sentry also brought news that Valkar requested their presence, in his citadel. The party relented and agreed. But they had a plan.

Xenon left Aust with the Eye and instructed Talindra to hand Aust her ring, so that they could communicate. Aust was to destroy the Eye if things became scary during the meeting. It was decided that if Aust could, he should keep Kyoko restrained. She was very much for charging in swords blazing against a foe that seemed to have limitless power, and an unknown nature. With all that decided Talindra, Xenon, and Rhea followed the sentry into the citadel to hold audience with Valkar.

The party was led into a long hallway about 40 feet wide with many varying statues of Valkar’s magnificence. They were lead into a large circular chamber that glowed with a soft ambient green light focusing on a Valkar’s throne. A large crystalline throne hewn into a dragon shape and chained to the throne was several, nude, mauroth tausoth women. Valkar was seated on the throne as they entered. Valkar smiled as they entered and stepped down from his throne the women quickly clearing a path for the Shadis Masin tyrant. He greeted each of the heroes in turn, although he made it very apparent that he did not like Xenon, or his sharp tongue. He was enamored with Talindra, despite being a “half-breed”, and enjoyed Rhea’s presence as well.

Xenon was humbled many times during the their audience with Valkar. Valkar lead the party to another room down a thankfully much shorter hallway towards a room with a circular table he bade the heroes sit and took a seat himself. They chatted for some time and bargained for the Water they so preciously needed to get Thev well.

In the meanwhile, Aust was watching Kyoko, and to Xenon at the same time. Kyoko had the bright idea of using Valkar’s large ship, which was docked, in the same area as their own ship, and ram it into the citadel. Aust despite his reservations agreed, Tom, the talking badger, agreed as well and said that he had enough magic to teleport them all into the hold of Valkar’s ship. After equipping themselves and readying themselves for action, they teleported into the hold of Valkar’s ship. They arrived in a large cargo bay; it was a maze of crates and large containers.

The rest of the party continued their negotiations with Valkar as he became distracted slightly, then waved his hands into the air creating a black ball of arcane energy, using his natural talents in the shadow weave. The ball was at first black, but then an image came into view, of Aust, Tom, and Kyoko! Talindra gasped as Valkar smiled quite pleased with the current state of events. The view slowly shifted to somewhere else in the cargo hold showing that same ebon creature they faced in the city of Sivael; the same one that poisoned both Thev and Kyoko. It stalked slowly through the maze towards the three unwitting heroes. Xenon quickly sent a message to Aust as Kyoko climbed up on a crate to get a better look around. Aust was unnerved but kept his wits and Blak-Fang close to him. Luckily the globe served as a way for Xenon to keep informed of the creature, Valkar called it a dizra, and where it was in relation to them. Valkar smiled as the game began; he was impressed that heroes were being so bold. He chose to place stakes on the game, if the heroes won he would overlook this transgression and grant them the Water. If they lost, he would take Talindra and most likely kill the rest at his leisure for their insolence. It seemed fair to him.

The dizra rounded the corner behind Aust but he quickly whirled and unleashed his barbarian fury and swung at the dizra with Blak-Fang landing a vicious blow. Kyoko leapt down on the creature catching it by surprise; Valkar was mildly amused. The dizra leapt upon Aust with a fury and mauled him; something that would have fell a lesser warrior. But Aust was touch and shrugged off the beast and gave it a mighty slash with Blak-Fang, even as they attacked the creature was healing very quickly. Valkar commented that the dizra could not be killed, Talindra and Rhea shared looks of fear. Xenon hurriedly relayed this information to Aust; there was no answer. His fury was overcoming his mind. Xenon grimaced he knew there was an out, the heroes only had to survive the encounter, they did not have to kill the creature. The battle continued, and Aust finally slammed the creature against a crate. It went limp; Kyoko went to check the creature and snapped back to life and nearly took her face, but she wasted no time stabbing it in the neck and Aust took its head. The creature turned to dust, right before everyone’s eyes. Valkar was less then pleased, the heroes had one the day. Valkar swore he would honor his side of the bargain; and the globe dissipated. He dismissed Rhea and Xenon, but requested that Talindra stay. She agreed, with worry in her eyes.

Meanwhile Aust had regained his sense and was communicating with Xenon about their current predicament. Aust decided it was time to go, but Kyoko was insistent that they stay and wreak more havoc. Aust grabbed Kyoko and had Tom teleport them back to the ship. They arrived just before Rhea and Xenon returned to the ship, without Talindra. An argument was brewing as both Rhea and Kyoko insisted that they act now and try and destroy Valkar, with the means they had. While Aust and Xenon wanted to wait and see what Talindra could glean from Valkar. Tom hid; the fight was getting very heated.

Talindra walked with Valkar and they discussed a few things together. From Valkar’s demeanor he was quite taken with Talindra and wanted her to join him and the Shadis Masin.

“What is the price?” she asked slowly unsure of his motives.

Valkar placed a cold hand on her shoulder, “The Shadis Masin chooses the price, it is different for all of us. For myself, I am alive, though my flesh is dead. Yet I have been reborn a god, and you too can have that power, my lovely.”

“You are undead?”

“I have no need for the mortal coil, I am beyond mortal’s grasp…”

“Join me Talindra, you said it yourself that you lack a purpose. I can give you what you desire, and you can have power beyond belief. I have been so alone, but you, if you would join me, then we could both be happy.”

Talindra looked into his cold dead eyes, and saw something reflect back to her, a part of herself looked back at her. She could feel the draw, the temptation was great, yet the cost. She struggled with her words; “May I see the Shadis Masin?”

Valkar smiled and lead her to a smaller circular room lit dimly with green light. A small floating black orb floated in the center of the room. Valkar waved to it, “Behold the beauty of the Shadis Masin. This is the key that can grant you power beyond belief, my lovely. You can be a defender and keep the Titan locked away forever, with the horror that is Lathos. That is our purpose, Talindra to keep the Titan locked away.”

Talindra looked at the orb, and smiled weakly, “It is beautiful, so that is the Shadis Masin?”

Valkar nodded numbly seemingly distracted and turned to the orb and placed a hand on it. His body was swathed with writhing shadows, and he seemed to be revitalized, but he was also distracted. Talindra asked if she could think on his words, and replied yes, his mind in a faraway place.

She returned to the ship with much to think about…

Aust Meliamne

First Post
Outworld, Valkar’s Black Dragon Citadel:

Talindra returned to the ship, her audience with Valkar leaving disturbing impressions in her mind. The strangest thoughts passing through her mind were one was of possible acceptance of Valkar’s gift. She had felt for some time even with the grandness of the recent events that her own path was muddled. She lacked a focus, could Valkar truly show her purpose, or was this a vile tempting trick to turn her to darkness? Her own companions were on the deck of the ship as she arrived in a bitter argument, Xenon and Aust strangely united against Kyoko and Rhea. Both sides arguing on the correct path to deal with Valkar and his vile ways.

Rhea was dead-set against any more negotiations, in her eyes Valkar was evil. You do not make deals with evil men; you fight them and destroy them. She knew that Thev would agree with such a notion. Kyoko agreed with Rhea, she wanted to bring Valkar to his knees and crush his evil, and bring the conflict to him, instead of being manipulated in a game. She had been manipulated, or at least felt that way, for so long that she wanted to choose her own path. While Xenon saw a possible chance of allying with the Shadis Masin and using that power to their own ends, but he needed a way to get in contact with this power. Aust simply wanted to heal Thev and leave this place, he cared little for the whole debacle, and their mission was to save Thev, not crush some immortal tyrant.

Talindra was tired, and weary but added her own words, she only anted to help Thev. She felt that attacking now would only doom them since they had no idea how much power Valkar has. Though in her eyes it was quite apparent that he felt himself to be a god, she was not sure how much of that boast could be discounted. Aust sighed and handed Talindra her ring back, thankful to be free of it. Him and Xenon were not on the best terms, and he was glad to be free of the human’s banter.

The party decided to rest, before the argument led to blows each retiring to their own respective rooms. Talindra and Xenon spoke on the events that occurred while she was alone with Valkar, and on the orb he claimed to be the Shadis Masin. She felt that he was communicating with it and suspected that that was his source of power. Xenon smiled inwardly, he had a cunning plan, which could possibly destroy Valkar and place them in a prime position to finally be in contact with the Shadis Masin. Before either could get rest, they heard the faint voice of Lucas, he was weakened and in obvious pain.

Lucas sputtered weak words into their minds, “How… goes the task of healing Thev?”

Xenon replied with a mild wry grin mentally, “It goes as well as is to be expected. It seems we have come into contact with a certain Valkar of the Shadis Masin, but we are handling the situation quite well, old man. You though sound less then well.”

Talindra worriedly replied, “Lucas what is wrong are you hurt?”

Lucas replied weakly, “I am… for the most part fine. This pain is only transitory; I can only say that my time in Shikar has been much more fruitful then I could imagine. I can only trust… that…” he paused briefly collecting himself, “you will be done soon. I must go. This tires me and I need my rest before…” he trailed off into nothingness.

Talindra screamed mentally “LUCAS! LUCAS! Talk to me, no not you too…” she sobbed to herself. She spoke to Xenon; “I think something bad has happened to Lucas…”

Xenon replied, “I highly doubt that, you must consider how powerful he is, it might only be a relative thing. Besides I am sure he can handle himself, Lucas is filled with surprises.”

Talindra replied seething, “Xenon! He is only one man, and if he is he hurt then…” she paused, “I don’t want him to die. He seemed so resolute the last time we saw him, I think he feels he is going to die Xenon.”

Xenon sighed, “Then once this is over, we can investigate that matter more fully, for now, I have need to study and rest, good night Talindra.”

Talindra sighed, and eased herself into bed, her mind a wash of worry and regret. She could only pray that tomorrow would be a better day. The night thankfully passed uneventfully. Surprisingly Valkar was true to his word, and a sentry brought them two servings of the Water, enough to heal Thev and for Rhea to use for her own purpose. The party was elated, and immediately put the Water’s healing power to use.

Talindra dribbled some of the water into Thev’s parched lips; slowly life began to return to him. As an ominous aura of purple and white light surrounded his form. His features returned to normal as his breathing eased and then his eyes opened. The glow had passed and he was quite confused at what had transpired in his absence. The party would have been in a mood of celebratory bliss if they still did not have the looming shadow of Valkar hovering over them. Aust and Kyoko both filled Thev in on what he has missed, while Talindra and Xenon plotted ad planned what would hopefully be Valkar’s downfall.

Rhea stole away to her room and communed with her goddess, looking for guidance, from the second within her and the divine power without. She then consumed the water and a transformation over took her, spiritual and physical. She had always felt that there was a close tie between the Mauroth Tausoth goddess, Serael and her own, Eilistraee. The water flooded her mind with divine memories and infused her soul with the power of spellfire. She also now possessed a curious monkey-tale like the natives, but hers unlike theirs, was silver and not black. She was in many ways a Chosen of both Eilistraee and Serael, or were they one and the same. In that same instant Dancer, her bastard sword, was transformed into a crystalline blade that upon command would ignite with cleansing divine flame. She returned to the party and they were all equally stunned by her new resolve as by her new appearance as well. Thev was thoroughly shaken; it seemed that much had changed in his absence.

A plan was devised as the members of the party prepared for the coming day. Talindra, Xenon, and Aust would seek Valkar’s company once more and hopefully get him to guide them to the chamber where the Orb of the Shadis Masin was held. Kyoko, Thev, and Rhea would stay behind and wait for a signal, sadly no actual predetermined signal was made. When they perceived the signal they were to act quickly and try to free as many slaves as they could with the help of the native sailors at there side and cause massive chaos. It was not a great plan, but this group was rarely one to plan ahead, they were satisfied and set about their task.

Talindra requested to a sentry on the dock that she be brought into the presence of Valkar. The sentry complied and lead Talindra, Xenon, and Aust into the citadel. Down the long wide hallway, littered with statues to Valkar’s magnificence. Valkar himself waited in the long hallway admiring a statue of him in triumph over mauroth tausoth foes. He smiled charmingly at Talindra who in turn acted the part of the intrigued woman, smiled and bowed. The others followed suit. Valkar was still annoyed by Xenon’s presence, but he showed appreciation for Aust’s fighting ability. The meeting was forced and terse, but Valkar showed genuine appreciation for Talindra.

Talindra smiled, “Milord, I have thought upon your offer and I wish to only ask more questions, before I make my decision.”

Valkar smiled serpent like, “Why of course my lovely, what would you like to know?” he locked arms with Talindra smiling at her amorously.

Aust made a slight face but followed, not liking this one bit. He followed along silently glancing at all the opulence and pomp. He was even less pleased with the symbols and monuments to Valkar’s self-aggrandizement. But thankfully he kept his mouth shut and his eyes wary, he trusted Valkar even less then he trusted Xenon.

Talindra glanced around avoiding Valkar’s cold and dead eyes, “I am not so sure on the price, is it always undeath? I am not so sure if I am ready to pass from this life into one such as that.”

Valkar lead them into his throne room where the nude women were still chained to his immense obsidian black throne of crystal, he turned to Talindra. “I am sure that I can allay your fears, with time lovely. The power at your fingertips is more then compensatory. You would be a goddess, and force to be reckoned with. Besides as I said before the gift, places different prices, so who is to say you would exist in a state akin to my own.”

Talindra smiled, “Well that is true but I as hoping that I could see the Shadis Masin once more, before I decide.”

He glared at Aust and Xenon but shrugged, “A minor request, and it is yours, though I a not sure if your entourage is prepared for such a display of power.”

Talindra nodded, “I am sure milord, but they are hardly above notice, if only a moment, to allay my fears as it were,” she smiled winsomely, “if only to bask in its glory once more.”

Valkar smiled and agreed and lead the trio to the chamber of the Shadis Masin orb. It hovered in air about ix feet off of the ground, the room awash with an ominous green glow. The orb was the center of their attention and Valkar eyed it with reverence and approached it, unlocking arms with Talindra. Talindra watched and glanced at Xenon telling him mentally that was the same orb he touched the last time she was here. Xenon immediately began casting a Detect Thoughts and felt a powerful presence coming from the orb. Valkar touched the orb and smiled at Talindra; his shape writhing with shadows he pointed a hand at Xenon.

“Now to show you the power of the Shadis… I will simply use Xenon as a demonstration,” he sneered pointing his hand at Xenon.

Talindra looked wide eyed, “I am not sure if that is needed, milord, it is obvious the power that you wield is more then any of us lowly mortals can muster.” She thought quickly, trying to keep Xenon alive. She sent a mental message to Xenon to be ready to act at a moment’s notice.

Xenon though after sensing the dark presence in the orb was locked in a mental conversation with this otherworldly presence. The presence entered his mind and spoke, “Hmm, an outsider,” the voice spoke.

Xenon blinked trying to focus his thoughts inwardly, “Are you the Shadis Masin?”

“I am that and so much more, why have you contacted me?” the voice replied. As it spoke Valkar fell to his knees in obvious pain, the others watched as the voice continued to speak mentally with Xenon. “I can see that my pawn has outlived his usefulness, his own pride and vanity were his undoing.”

“I see, but I have not come to talk to him, I wish to form a partnership…” Xenon replied slowly.

“Then approach the orb, and we shall see.”

Xenon approached the orb as Valkar writhed on the floor in agony, he was unsure of what would transpire, but was resolute that he could possibly outwit this evil. He placed his hand on the orb and felt a chilling cold leap through his soul, it burned its way his psyche.

The voice continued, “Hmm… a partnership I think not, I have no use for one mortal.” With that Xenon felt a burning burst of energy leap through his body and blast him thirty feet back towards the wall. He landed in a heap dazed but not surprisingly killed. Talindra screamed as Xenon slammed into the wall and Aust drew Blak-Fang. Valkar began to stand and pointed a hand at Aust enraged.

“I will stand for this insolence… I am a GOD!!!” he snarled and attempted to unleash a levinbolt of magic at Aust. But it was to no avail, the power that he had used for so long was gone, he growled as the fury of battle began. Xenon slowly stood as Talindra and Aust attacked the undead tyrant Valkar. Although his shadow magic was gone he still had considerable strength in his undead frame and delivered mighty blows to Talindra and Aust both. Xenon supplied some magic attacks but the battle was quick and fierce. Valkar sensing defeat turned in mist and floated high into the ceiling disappearing. It was about then that the citadel began to shake and rumble, and quite disturbingly begin to collapse.

In the meanwhile Rhea, Thev, and Kyoko were sitting around the deck waiting for any sign that they should begin their side of the plan. Thev yawned watching the undead and slaves scurry about the dock, “Ten minutes then I am going to break every undead creature I can find. Ten minutes is all I am giving them.”

Rhea nodded, “Time Thev, we must be patient,” just as she spoke the whole citadel began to rumble and collapse down around them.

Kyoko blinked, “I think that is the signal…” she rallied the sailors on the ship and had them charge to attack. Thev moved to join them but she stopped him, “Thev this is a victory these people must do on their own, for their own sense of self worth.” Thev grudgingly agreed as the undead began to collapse, and the sentries looked around at the mass confusion. As the mauroth tausoth sailors leapt onto the docks they attacked with savage fury, the slaves seeing their brothers’ attack the sentries ignited a riot as the slaves fought back for newfound freedom.

Meanwhile Talindra, Xenon, and Aust ran for their lives as the citadel fell apart all around them. Over head the ceiling collapsed and fell to the floor in black crystalline chunks as large as a man. Talindra and Aust were quick enough to evade the falling debris, but Xenon was nearly crushed. The blow breaking his legs horribly, he screamed in pain. Talindra and Aust helped him, and Aust carried the wounded mage to safety. They arrived at the throne room and saw the slave women chained to the throne. The trio set to freeing them, as fast as they could.

While back on the dock the other trio watched as the battle raged. A sentry cut his way through the ranks and stepped onto the ship, he was not happy with the current events and challenged the party just as a mist slowly billowed around Kyoko. The mist formed into Valkar and he attacked from surprise on Kyoko slashing her violently. Thev moved to attack the sentry and they traded blows in a fierce brutal melee. Rhea drew Dancer from her hilt and ignited the blade with holy cleansing fire. She leapt to the defense of the wounded Kyoko and slashed at Valkar madly. Valkar stepped back and rank a potion, his motions quickening, moving faster, he was obviously Hasted. Thev made short work of the sentry after receiving a nasty wound, and turned to assist Rhea and Kyoko who were having a hard time dealing with Valkar. Kyoko could not hit the undead tyrant and he continued to slice Rhea to ribbons. Thev struck Valkar but found that his weapon was not effective against him, and stepped back already wounded.

Thankfully the rest of the party arrived on the dock with the nude slave women in tow. Xenon bade Aust to put him down, he then casted a Fly spell up himself and went high into the air. He could see the battle raging below, but his attention was drawn to Valkar as he fought Rhea and Kyoko on the ship. Rhea continued her assault landing a vicious blow against Valkar but returned with a powerful strike of his own and nearly finished Kyoko with low slash from his bastard sword. Xenon unleashed a few magic missiles at Valkar who sensing a possible defeat turned to mist and fled. Xenon floated downward and hovered above the ship’s deck just as Talindra and Aust arrived. As they looked around they saw that the day was won, but at what cost? The natives were free from Valkar’s yolk, yet he escaped justice and is now most likely planning their death as best as he can.

The party seeing the amount of refugees seized Valkar’s ship, and named it the Honin Tau, an old elven word for freedom. Once they had it firmly under there control Kyoko gathered the freed native onto the ship and turned it towards Sivael. Their own ship following, the stakes were high, but the outcome was greater still. There first major victory was in many ways bitter sweet.

Aust Meliamne

First Post
Outworld, the city of Sivael:

After the victory over Valkar in the Cursed City, the party returned to Sivael to rest and recuperate. Nearly a ten-day had passed, as the heroes trained and relaxed and reaped the rewards of being heroes. Talindra was given a suit of enchanted crystalline chainmail, which was as light as elven chainmail. Aust received a Belt of Giant’s Strength, while Thev received a crystalline greatsword with a keen enchantment upon it. Kyoko was given a ring that allowed her to turn invisible at will, by saying “OobiDoobi”. While Rhea was called the “Mata Shar”, the voice of the mother, a title she did not quite enjoy.

Talindra sat in her room, very worried, she had not heard from Lucas during the ten-day. Not a peep, or an enigmatic whisper, which only served to amplify her worry. Tom sauntered into her room and stretched, and then sat down in front of her. He cocked his head to the side and smiled, as much as a badger could smile.

Talindra barely noticed him, “What do you want Tom?”

Tom looked at her quizzically, “Why are you so sad, I mean you are a hero. These people love you and yet here you are looking sad?”

Talindra sighed, “You wouldn’t understand.”

“Why not, because I am a badger, or because I am just so damn handsome?”

Talindra sighed, “I have been thinking about everything that has happened, Valkar, our quest whatever it is? I just don’t know anymore, I feel so alone at times. Everyone has his or her own agenda, and I am just here, I don’t have a purpose. The more I think about it, the more I think I should have accepted that offer from Valkar. Maybe then I wouldn’t be so alone.”

Tom nodded and hopped up on the bed and rested his head in her lap, “You are not alone Talindra you have friends, even me, even if I am just a badger. You are doing a good thing, you are not without focus.”

Talindra smiled slightly, “I wish I could believe that more so,” she grabbed the little badger and hugged him, “but I will try, I just hope Lucas is fine. I don’t know what I would do without him.”

Tom hugged her back, “Just hope for the best Talindra.”

In the meanwhile Kyoko was spending her time trying to dig up more information about the Eye and the Titan. She spoke with the Elders, a group of female mauroth tausoth. They revealed to her some very interesting points of information. Lathos at least according to the elders constructed the Eye and the Titan, though it is unclear if this was before or after the conception of the Shadis Masin. The Shield of Lathos that she had read about seemed to be a defense against the Shadis Masin after they turned against him. But the Titan seemed to draw the most points of discussion.

The Titan is in a word, the madness of a broken god given form and a will of its own. When the Shadis Masin took form they started a brutal war against the mauroth tausoth and nearly wiped the race from the face of their world. Their goddess Serael, who seems to be an analog to Eilistraee, was deeply wounded with pain and sorrow. She was split in twain, one half sorrow, the other madness and rage. The sorrow left their world, and the elders have not heard from her since the splitting of the souls. While the rage remained and ravaged the world, as the Titan, an uncontrolled engine of destruction that nearly destroyed both the Shadis Masin as well as her own people. In the end Lathos imprisoned the Titan, and in the attempt created the pocket universe the heroes have found themselves in. During this time of change, three of the Shadis Masin supposedly escaped this world, while the rest remained behind trapped. Kyoko could only shudder at the ramifications of what she had heard.

By the end of the ten-day the party began to set about their next move, find the Lost Isle and possibly Lathos or head to Shikar and see if there is anything they can learn about the Shadis Masin beyond what they knew already. Kyoko was tight lipped about what she knew of the Titan, she was unsure if the rest were ready for such a thing. The rest continued to debate, until a strange thing happened.

Xenon attempted to contact Lucas via the ring, “Lucas can you hear me?”

But a female voice replied, “Hmm, Lucas is this his name? How interesting, now I understand the purpose of this ring.”
Xenon blinked and spoke mentally to Talindra; “Did you hear that?”

Talindra replied, “What?”

The voice replied, “So there are two of you with these rings? Interesting, this human is just full of surprises. Even if he did defeat Lansinoon, which I find hard to believe, his victory will be short lived.”

Talindra replied, “What, who are you and what have you done to Lucas?”

The voice replied, “I am Captain Dashani Meliamne, master of the guard in Shikar. And you would be?”

“I am Talindra Braegen, and what have you done to Lucas?” she replied.

“We have done nothing, Talindra, though once Vorgrimm is finished with him,” Dashani paused, “then at least some justice will be done for the death of our master Lansinoon.”

“You keep your hands off of him witch…” Talindra snarled.

"Oh, you care for him?" Dashani asked. "I shall enjoy watching him die, then."

"If you harm a hair on his head, I will cut out your heart and stuff it down your throat." Talindra snarls in reply.

There was only silence; it seemed that their path had been chosen for them. The group would leave for Shikar and attempt to rescue Lucas from the clutches of this Dashani Meliamne. The party gathered a crew and stocked the Honin Tau, the ship they stole from Valkar, with supplies and headed for Shikar. Despite her relative lack of skill, Kyoko decided to guide the ship towards their destination. A choice that some would regret later.

The journey was peaceful enough, as they headed north over the twilight lit forests below. The green moon, Watcher, shined down upon them as they raced to rescue Lucas. The party rested and thought on the events that had brought them to this point, and just what they would find in Shikar. During the journey they had a brief encounter with a wyvern, that decided against attacking them, “too many two-legs” it said and flew away. Kyoko maintained a steady course while Rhea rested and tried to avoid the hero worship that the rest of the crew seems to heap upon her as the Mata Shar.

In the meanwhile Xenon and Talindra were having what at first seemed to be a quiet conversation that soon escalated into quite the argument. Talindra incensed with Xenon’s superior attitude chased him around the lower decks, her sword in hand. Tom simply watched enjoying the spectacle. Xenon slammed his door on Talindra, after kissing her, which did not help matters. Talindra hacked his door down and then stomped into his room and scowled at the arrogant wizard. Xenon stood and simply smiled, but before he could anything more she kissed him back and then stomped out quite pleased with herself. Tom was obviously dumbfounded.

The rest of the journey was uneventful, as they approached Shikar by air. The city was of a delicate elven design, located along the coast, north of Sivael. It must have been a beautiful place, but now laid in ruins. The buildings were smashed and fires blossomed all across the city. The skies were dark with arcane inspired clouds, side effects from powerful conflict of magic and arcane mastery. The handiwork of Lucas’ battle against Lansinoon they pondered. Kyoko guided the Honin Tau around towards the bay and landed the flying black-crystalline ship into the harbor. But her calculations were off and the ship careened into the docks, causing minor damage to the ship, but knocking most of the crew flat. She would thankfully not be guiding the ship back.

The party recovered from the jarring motion and set about to discussing where they needed to go. Rhea received a vision of a temple with a red eye emblazoned on the doors. The party having no other leads decided to follow the visions of the Mata Shar. Rhea led the way through the city as Dashani taunted Talindra and Xenon via their rings. The journey was slow going as it rained heavily upon them. But finally they reached the temple, and approached it slowly. Unlike the rest of the structures it was wholly intact with a scratch or hint of damage. Xenon approached the building and found that there was an invisible dome of force surrounding the structure. Xenon withdrew the Eye, which seemed to counter effect the wall and dissipated it. Before they could enter, a wyvern moved from a hidden location and attacked the party.

The battle was hard fought as Aust leapt into the fray taking the brunt of the attacks. Thev assisted him while the rest of the party attacked from range. The battle was quick but left Aust sorely wounded. The party healed themselves up and continued to investigate the structure. Xenon took the time to cast a Bull’s Strength on both Thev and Aust. The interior was spartan with a lone statue of an elven warrior standing against the far wall and only one door on the left side of the wall behind pillars visible. The party continued to investigate as Kyoko used her ring to go invisible and scout around on her lonesome. She went back into the room with the statue, only to hear footsteps enter the room. She did not see the source though. The rest of the party was slowly investigating the rest of the structure when Kyoko decided to make a ruckus to draw them back. The party being the paranoid bunch they were rushed back just as red fiendish dire ape appeared. The battle had begun.

Talindra was the quickest to act and she used her sorceress powers to cast magic missile on the creature while Rhea casted true strike upon herself. Kyoko stayed hidden and casted mage armor upon herself, waiting to see how this conflict turned out. Aust moved to engage the fiendish dire ape and landed a vicious blow against the creature. The ape howled eschewing boiling blood. Just as Aust attacked a dark shadow-swathed figure of an elven woman appeared next to Rhea and unleashed two powerful sneak attacks on the unsuspecting drow. Both powerful slashes from the shades enchanted blade nearly fell Rhea, as she fell down screaming.

The shade smiled, “A drow in this place… how uncivilized.”

Talindra snarled, “Dashani!”

The shade turned to Talindra and smiled revealing evil and malice quantified. Thev chanted and casted bless upon the party, preparing for the vicious battle ahead. Xenon unleashed magic missiles at Dashani but they had no effect, her dark shade nature dispelling the pitiful magic spell. Talindra snarled at slashed at Dashani. Dashani ducked low mocking her opponent. Rhea laid still and casted a curative spell upon herself. She watched the battle not sure of what to do. Aust finished the dire ape with a vicious slash and turned his attentions to Dashani just as she went invisible. Another figure appeared a male elven shade and launched a ray of enfeeblement upon Aust, which he shrugged off thanks to his own inner strength, and Blak-Fang. Kyoko moved under cover of invisibility and attacked the shade mage taking him by surprise. She slashed quickly with her rapier, leaving a nick on the mage. Thev moved towards the mage to keep him harried since he was no visible. Talindra scowled and launched a magic missile at the mage but was unable to penetrate his supernatural resistance to magic. Aust waited to act keeping an eye out for Dashani. He did not have to wait long as she appeared behind Talindra and unleashed another flurry of sneak attacks with her enchanted longsword on the half-elven warrior. Talindra screamed under the assault, the blows nearly mortal. Aust acted and attacked quickly landing a vicious wound on Dashani. Blak-Fang howled with rage as he attacked.

Xenon pressed his attack against the mage and unleashed more magic missiles, afraid to unleash a fireball in such tight confines. The bolts hit home piercing the aura of spell resistance. Kyoko pressed her attack and slashed at the mage who evaded the poorly aimed slashed. He stepped back and unleashed a lightning bolt that ripped through Kyoko, Thev, and Xenon. The magical blast knocked Xenon flat; he was done and most likely dying. Talindra recovered from her wound and slashed Dashani landing a vicious blow along her side, the shade snarled at her. Aust pressed the attack and landed a vicious blow on her as she swung back at Aust, both hurting after the exchange. Thev and Kyoko pressed their attacks and dealt savage damage against the mage. The mage stepped back and used his innate powers to turn invisible. Talindra attacked Dashani, but she evaded the strike and turned her attention to Aust. Aust and Dashani slashed at each other at the same time. Aust gutted Dashani but she landed two powerful, critical strikes that left Aust down and nearly dead. But he succeeded Dashani was dead.

The group quickly healed Aust and Xenon and decided that it would be best to leave and get rested before tackling any more surprises. The mage had gotten away as well. Before they left Aust gathered up Dashani’s things, being of the Meliamne namesake he felt that it was his place to do so. Talindra on the other hand cut out Dashani’s heart and stuffed it in her mouth. Much to the shock of everyone, as she stood up over the dead shade. They returned to the ship to rest and plan for the morrow.

Aust Meliamne

First Post
Outworld, the city of Shikar:

The party returned to the Honin Tau to rest and plan for the morrow. Thev was beside himself with pain and grief; he did not like abandoning Lucas in his time of need but understood that the party was in no condition to press their assault into the temple. They rested and prepared for the next morning, the sleep was not restful, and most were up early ready to continue their rescue of Lucas. Aust gave Talindra Dashani’s Longsword of Speed, and gave Xenon her Bracers of Defense. The heroes left the ship prepared for more battle, and skulked through the blasted ruins of the city, the dwindling magnificence that was Shikar.

The party crept slowly through the ruined streets, keeping their wits out; strange noises could be heard all throughout the city. The settling of the ruins, the noises of scurrying vermin, and sounds that only served to keep them on edge. Xenon stopped suddenly, he thought he saw out of the corner of his eye a large figure skulking through the alleyways in the twilight. Kyoko as well had seen something similar and moved to check on the source using her ring to turn invisible. She approached the darkened alleyway keeping silent as Xenon used his fly spell to take to the air to get a better look around. From his vantage point he could see the temple a scant few blocks away.

In that split moment from a fiendish dire ape appeared behind the party and roared loudly, the mage it seemed had ambushed them, but was unseen, invisible. Aust and Talindra were the quickest off the mark and went into melee with the creature as six shadows slinked forward towards the party. A vicious melee ensued as Rhea used her clerical powers to turn some of the shadows allowing Thev time to engage the shadows in close brutal melee. Aust and Talindra easily struck down the fiendish dire ape, as the mage unleashed a lightning bolt onto the party becoming visible from his position on a building behind them. The spell would have had great effect, but Rhea simply turned and outstretched her hand and absorbed the spell energy, thanks to her newfound ability of spellfire. The shade grimaced as his spell had little to no effect on the party, the tides it seemed were quickly turning against him. Kyoko continued to skulk when she saw a large figure fly over the alleyway and slam into the ground behind her, a hulking brute with bat-like wings, it was a half-fiend Minotaur, brandishing a massive great axe. It unleashed an unholy blight upon the party and charged into melee. Xenon floated in the air and smiled and drew out a wand he had received from the mauroth tausoth, and unleashed a lethal lightning bolt that turned the shade into nothing but ash and cinders. Aust ducked and weaved as he assaulted the half-fiend Minotaur, as Talindra flanked the creature with ease, putting her new Longsword of Speed to good effect. But it was Thev who would carry the day as he uttered a sacred hymn and landed a critical smiting blow on the fiendish creature. It was annihilated by the slash and Thev stood over it proudly, vanquishing another evil from the world.

The party wasted no time in getting to the temple and once again entered the doors into the first chamber. There they noticed an open secret door that no one had seen before, they cautiously approached it creeping past the carnage from the day before. Dashani’s body was missing from the scene of carnage. Talindra and Kyoko opted to go ahead and scout, Kyoko using her ring to go invisible as usual. The pressed forward into the darkness of the winding passageway until they started to hear sounds from up ahead. Talindra decided to return while Kyoko waited under cover of her Ring of Invisibility. While Kyoko waited a strange mist passed by her after Talindra then after a few moments returned and passed by her towards the opening from whence it came.

In the meanwhile Talindra returned to the rest of the party and had them follow her towards where she left Kyoko. Thev of course could sense the stench of evil in the place that hung like a pall. They arrived to where Kyoko and she promptly warned them about the mist, the party was on edge. They proceeded forward and entered a hallway that went both left and right and also straight ahead towards an open door. The party searched around some then went forward into a long hallway. Both sides of the hallway were covered in murals, detailing a story.

The left side of the hallway showed detailed paintings of ships in the sky, amidst stars. Great elven sailing ships landing on pristine waters, which flowed into various scenes of contact between these elves and the mauroth tausoth natives were painted on the wall. The story continued focusing on a young male mauroth tausoth dressed in motley of colors with a red sash about his head and a noble looking elven warrior. The two seemed to be friends it seemed and the scenes shifted through various landscapes. The tone though starts to change as four other elves begin to appear through out the scenes. The scenes continued along the left wall as the elves seem to be experimenting with strange new magic with the assistance of the strangely dressed native.

Along the right wall the story continued. The elves along with the native begin a grand ritual. The ritual it seems is against the wishes of the elven warrior, from the beginning of the tale and his elven allies turn against him along with the native. In their ambitious folly each of the conspirators was changed into something far more then what they were. Two turned into shade like beings, while another an undead thing; the leader of the coup became a dragon of great shadow, while the native who aided them became a simple badger. The scenes shift to Great War and bloodshed, as the mauroth tausoth were decimated by legions of shades. But the war is ended by the abrupt appearance and disappearance of a red being that nearly destroyed everything. The images were hard to make out from this point on, as the heroes began to think upon what they could mean.

They could see that this mural depicted the story of Lathos, the Shadis Masin, and strangely enough Tom; at least from what they had gleaned from the myriad depictions in the mural. It seemed if this were so that Tom would have much explaining to do.

The party continued their way down the hallway into a large open chamber with a large statue of a dragon at its center and pillars lining the sides of the wall. There was a raised dais with two altars upon it. Upon one they could see laid Lucas and upon the other a shade wizard whose body was thoroughly mangled. Talindra gritted her teeth and moved to check on Lucas while the rest looked about the room. As she moved the mist returned and formed into a humanoid shape at the base of the dragon statue. It was Valkar and he looked none to happy to see the party once more. Kyoko still invisible took it upon herself to try and sneak up on the undead tyrant.

Valkar hissed, “Humph, so it would seem that you have defeated Lansinoon as well, the fool. I can hardly imagine that you scant few mortals would dare challenge the will of the Shadis Masin.”

Xenon simply smiled, “Ah Valkar, you are looking rather well considering the last we met we toppled your pitiful citadel.”

Valkar growled, “Silence manling, I fear that my faith was misplaced in the Shadis Masin as well. But it means little once I destroy you I will prove myself to the Shadis Masin, not that I neither need nor care for the Shadis Masin’s approval. Once I have the Eye, I will have the power to make them grovel at my feet, and I will be a god once more. The Shadis Masin will bow before me…”

Rhea gritted her teeth, “This is madness!”

Thev hefted his blade, “You speak evil, Valkar and do not think that I have forgotten your evils so easily.”

Valkar leapt up to the top of the dragon statue, “Madness! Far from it this world will cease to exist and I can leave this prison, and take my rightful place among the gods,” he clenched a fist, “I deserve no less. But you are merely mortal you cannot possibly understand, and to that end you must perish. I will enjoy this immensely.”

Talindra paused and looked up to Valkar, but said little the maddened being.

Valkar smiled at Talindra, “And you, I love and loathe you most of all. You, who scoffed at my gift of immortality, now look at you. I will kill you last; perhaps you will see the folly of your ways? Perhaps not, you are a half-breed after all. Your mind like your blood diluted and weak, I can only pity you.”
Kyoko sighed as she climbed up the statue and positioned herself ready to strike. She smiled to herself drawing her enchanted rapier and held it tightly anticipating the strike.

Valkar smiled, “And this time I have come prepared” as he motioned his hand, a large black seven headed hydra stepped through a gate of shadow, “This shall be fun indeed, kill them all my pet.”

Kyoko leapt at Valkar and surprised him with a vicious slash, taking him totally by surprise. She was now also very visible. Rhea and Talindra moved to engage the hydra as Aust took a moment to refocus his actions. Thev chanted a bless spell and then moved to help Kyoko as best he could. Xenon casted a magic missile at Valkar, but the damage was slight to the undead creature. He focused his attention on Kyoko. He drew his bastard sword and swung deftly into Kyoko killing the plucky tiefling in one critical strike sending her sailing from the top of the statue.

Rhea screamed but had little time to mourn as the Hydra tore into her, it launched an assault at Talindra as well but her armor protected her from the attacks. Talindra launched an attack and took one of the heads of the hydra easily as it roared. Rhea casted true strike and prepared to strike the hydra but turned her attentions to Valkar, Dancer tight in her hands glowing with holy fire. Thev growled and created a globe of darkness around Valkar, just as Rhea hurled Dancer into the air guided by divine forces. The blade flew into the magical darkness hitting its mark and sent Valkar sprawling to the floor as he landed in a heap. Dancer impaled into his right side.

Aust finished his concentration and then acted, he moved into melee with the creature just as Talindra took another head. With a dazzling display of prowess he landed a critical blow taking two heads at once, and followed through taking a third head. His next attack took the last two heads in vicious succession. The hydra was dead before it had a chance to realize what had killed it. Talindra stood in awe for a slight moment at the blood and gristle covered Aust, as he reveled in his own fury.

Thev roared and hefted his blade over his head and took Valkar’s head with a deft swift motion, ending the undead tyrant’s existence. He breathed hard and looked to Kyoko, she was very much dead, her internals hanging out. Talindra moved from the carcass of the hydra to check on Lucas, he was alive barely; it seemed but could not be roused. She picked up Lucas and turned to the others, she was obviously ready to leave. Rhea went to Kyoko and held her close, sobbing to herself.

Rhea was beside herself with guilt and pain; she did not want this to happen. She wanted to be one to die and not Kyoko; in her worried cries her goddess heard her pleas. Eiliestraee answered her pleas but exacted a stout price and used some of Rhea’s life essence to revive Kyoko. The two of them promptly fell into unconsciousness from the ordeal. Thev picked up Rhea and Xenon did what he could to ease Kyoko back to the ship. It seemed all had gone according to plan, if there was a plan to begin with. As they all turned to leave a glowing disk of energy emerged over the two altars, an image formed of a black-ebon, yet sleek dragon head as it peered into the room.

“Hmm I can see now why Lansinoon has not been answering my sendings,” The shadow dragon’s voice boomed throughout the chamber.

The party turned, Aust grimaced as Blak-Fang howled, “Vorgrimm!”

“Ah Blak-Fang, I see you have passed on to an even more pathetic life form then the last. And to think after all these years you still remember me, I am in a word, pleased,” Vorgrimm replied.

Aust growled, “You will not be smiling when we destroy you Vorgrimm!”

“I can see the vigor that has lead you against us, you have made quite the names for yourselves, destroying Lansinoon and Valkar. I will say though that I will not be so easy, I am neither weak nor foolish as they were. But I must not tarry long, I have a world to conquer, my condolences I must cut this short, till next we meet,” the image faded.

Aust gripped Blak-Fang, as it glowed slightly, the power within it growing. The party turned and fled the temple, not wanting to stay longer in Shikar then they absolutely had to. Xenon took the helm and headed for Sivael, there were questions that needed answering and wounds to heal. But that is for next time.

Aust Meliamne

First Post
The Outworld, journey to Sivael and beyond:

Talindra stood guard over the silent resting form of Lucas, his slim angular face at peace, his eyes closed. Talindra gently placed his ring back on his finger, where it belonged and stood waiting, hoping for a sign of life from Lucas. Talindra could not help but cry as she watched a man she had grown to love as a father and source of comfort slip away into the arms of death. It was at that point that Tom entered the room; his eyes had a curious gleam to them.

Talindra glanced at him, “Hello Tom.”

Tom smiled, as much as a badger could smile, “So it seems the enigmatic Lucas Skywing has returned to us, hopefully intact. Despite yourselves you have succeeded once more. I am impressed Talindra.”

Talindra sighed, “Lucas is alive but, he seems to be a far away place. I cannot reach him.”

Tom smirked, “He will come to when he is a good and ready, you should rest, this day has been long and trying for you.”

Talindra sat down against the wall, “We know about you Tom, about who you are, why… Why didn’t you tell us,” her voice was weak, “Why didn’t you tell me?”

Tom cocked his head slightly confused, “Know about what?”

“The Shadis Masin, and your connection to them,” she replied her voice wavering.

“Oh I see,” he turned slowly as he started to walk out, “there was a reason, but you couldn’t possibly understand.”

“Tom!” she cried but she had not the heart to stand and follow, she simply waited for Lucas. She rested as best she could her heart torn over Lucas’ state and Tom, or who or whatever he was.

She heard a soft weak voice in her mind, “Talindra can you hear me?” It was Lucas.

Talindra stood and took Lucas’ hand in his own, “Lucas” she cried; “I thought we had lost you!”

“You very nearly did, but I feel… so very tired. Where are we?” he replied weakly.

“We are traveling back to Sivael, you are safe for now with me. I am so glad you survived Lucas, I would not have forgiven myself if you had died,” she sobbed holding his hand.

Lucas smiled weakly, “I am pleased to see you as well once more, my time is growing short I must say, but I must rest for now. I must gather my strength, before the end.”

Talindra looked wide-eyed at Lucas, “The end… No you can’t… I need you… I can’t do this alone Lucas!”

Lucas was silent, his mind elsewhere as Talindra sobbed, hoping he would return to her, that this was only a passing dream. She had already lost her father when she was young, she could not stand to lose Lucas, not so soon. Not when she needed him so much, the path ahead seemed too much for her to go it alone.

The journey continued uneventful as the party rested, Thev stood vigilantly over Rhea as she rested, recuperating from the ordeal they had been through in Shikar. Aust kept his distance, always the loner, the victory had been bittersweet. He longed for running out under the sun, through the woods of his native lands in Cormyr, but such thoughts only brought the pain of the loss of his village. Kyoko rested as well, newly reborn into the world, a second chance at living after her encounter with Valkar. Xenon focused his attentions on getting them home as he guided the flying ship back to Sivael. They arrived in Sivael amidst fanfare, they were heralded as heroes. The Champions of the Mata Shar, the harbingers of freedom for the people, they were the last hope of these people. The city was awash with lights and music, the denizens of the city mobbed the ship, and the spectacle nearly overwhelmed the party.

Aust went up onto the deck and mingled with the natives, sharing stories of their adventures, he couldn’t help but share the strange tales they had been through since he linked his faith with this group. Thev kept his vigilance over Rhea, whose strength had returned as they entered Sivael. Xenon relaxed and mingled with the populace enjoying the attention and advances of the native women, Talindra for one reason or another was not pleased with Xenon’s newfound machismo. The party enjoyed themselves in the celebration, though Xenon in particular made it a point to seek out a mirror, he wanted to do some scrying.

Meanwhile elsewhere on the flying ship, the Honin Tau, Kyoko was gently coming to in her bed, her thoughts hazy from the recent events. She felt a pain in her mind, but could not make out much from the tumble of thoughts in her mind. Little did she realize that she had not survived a vicious blow from the undead tyrant, Valkar, nor could she ever know the sacrifice that Rhea had made for her in those scant few moments after. Her eyes slowly adjusted to the darkness, as she made out a male figure sitting against the far wall.

He was a native dressed in colorful red vest and blue pantaloons, his skin ebon black, like his brethren. His white hair was bound back by a colorful bandanna wrapped around his head, his purple eyes staring back at her. He slowly stood as Kyoko’s eyes focused on the stranger.

“Welcome back to the world of the living, Kyoko,” the figure smiled.

Kyoko looked puzzled, “Good morning, do I know you?”

“I would think you should, you have rejected every advance I have made upon your person, though I doubt you recognize my true form,” he replied.

“Tom?” she gasped, “the murals, who are you, I doubt Tom is your true name…”

“I am K’thellis, I was hoping we could avoid the ugliness of my past but it seems to haunt me still. But it means little, you have all come far and the time is nigh, I must commend you. You have done a great service to this world and the Watcher, and soon I shall end the circle,” he said with a gentle smile.

Kyoko shook her head, “I don’t even know what to believe, and everything seems to be shrouded in lies and mystery. You are just like the rest of the Shadis Masin, you are no different, you wish to use us as pawns and discard us when through, you are a bastard!”

“You are right, I am a traitor, a villain of the highest caliber, but my sacrifice will heal the circle, the watcher will be pleased with my atonement. Take care Kyoko,” he turned and exited the room without another word.

Kyoko clenched her fist in anger and slowly followed, her body still recuperating. When she entered the hallway of the lower deck she did not see him. She cursed to herself and went to seek out Rhea, for any answers; something bad was going to happen but she knew not what it could be.

She found Rhea resting in her bed, she looked up and smiled, “I am glad you are well Kyoko, how are you feeling?”

Kyoko replied, “I have felt worse, but my own pain is the least of my concern, have you seen Tom, or should I say K’thellis? Our lecherous badger has shown his true colors and I fear for us all.”

“What has he done, are you sure he means ill? He seems so good, I just can’t see Tom trying to harm us,” she replied.

“Well despite what you see him capable of doing, I am afraid, he is a Shadis Masin, he is one of them. One of the shadow, and deep down inside of that facade of good, is a shattered dark soul, he tried to make me feel sorry for him. Pathetic, he is simply pathetic, we may need to destroy him,” Kyoko said, sitting down next to Rhea.

“I hope it does not come to that, I want to believe that Tom deep down is a good person, if only I could speak to him,” Rhea said weakly.

Kyoko brushed Rhea’s silver hair back, “I don’t know, but something has to be done. But enough of him, why are you here resting, were you wounded?”

Rhea blinked, “You don’t remember, do you?”

“Remember what?”

“Kyoko,” Rhea bit her lip, “you died; Valkar killed you. I sacrificed some of my own life essence to save you, by the will of Eiliestraee. She brought you back to the world of the living.”

Kyoko blinked in shock, “I died?”

Rhea nodded slowly, “But I am pleased to see you back with us,” she cried softly and hugged Kyoko.

Kyoko smiled her mind racing, it all came back to her the visions of divinity, the pain, the release. The pain in her mind, the love that Rhea must have felt to draw her back from the light of death, the thoughts surged through her mind. It was all too much for her and she simply held Rhea, the two comforting each other.

Talindra continued her vigil over Lucas hoping for a sign that he would come to. Xenon had joined her, more out of curiosity then actual concern. Xenon smirked, “How the mighty have fallen, apt phrase, yes?”

Talindra scowled, “How can you say that?”

“Simply a phrase, nothing more, contain yourself Talindra, I seriously doubt this is as serious as you make it out to be,” he sighed and looked over Lucas’ still form.

“He is dying Xenon, don’t you even care? Lucas is dying! And there is nothing I can do to save him!” Talindra clasped Lucas’ hand.

“Well Talindra I just think you need to calm yourself, crying will not help,” Xenon smiled, “though you seem to have grown attached to Lucas, I am not sure why.”

“He is the only father I have left, but you wouldn’t understand Xenon, what do you care of family!” She replied yelling at him.

“Talindra, I am here…” Xenon and Talindra both heard Lucas’ mental voice.

“Lucas, how are you feeling?” Talindra replied her voice weak.

“I am for the most part well, though I feel so very tired…” he replied.

Xenon spoke slowly, “Well old man, you had put us on a scare with your silence, though a break from your prattle was joyous to say the least. Poor Talindra was beside herself with worry.”

Lucas smiled weakly his voice weak, “You have a way with words Xenon that I will miss.”

Xenon furrowed his brow, “So where to now old man, what quest are you about to undertake?”

Talindra shook her head tears in his eyes, “So smart, yet so blind. Xenon, he is dying, he is leaving us, leaving me.”

Lucas continued to smile, “I have lingered far too long in this world of the living, by sheer will alone have I lasted this long after my encounter with Lansinoon, if only to speak a few words to one that I love as if she was my own child. Though in my joy, I am pained; I do not yet wish to go.”

Xenon nodded slowly, “Dying…”

Talindra cried, “No… you can’t! Lucas stay with us, I love you Lucas. We have come so far, you need to finish this with us…”

Lucas smiled, “I… I have always thought of you as my daughter, after your father when he… I swore to him I would watch over you, you are your father’s daughter. He would be proud to see you today, if he were able. I… swore to him that I would not involve you in my affairs but it seems that I could not keep you from it, I am sorry Talindra.”

Talindra clenched his hand tightly, her knuckles going white, “I don’t care Lucas; I don’t care about any of that. I just don’t want you to die, not now, not when I feel so lost, I need you, here with me. There is so much I can learn, so much…”

Lucas smiled serenely, “I wish I could stay Talindra, but I am at peace. I know you will be well, you are strong like your father, and whatever path you choose, you will choose well. We will meet again, someday, all of us, maybe we can play a good game of chess then? I would so love… to show you how to play. But I must go, I can hear… my mother’s voice after all these years,” his voice was distant focused elsewhere. “I must go now…” His eyes stared off silently as his breathing subsided and slowly came to stop.

Talindra placed her head on his chest and sobbed, her tears washing over Lucas’ still body. He was gone now, off to his reward in the next life. She had not the heart to let go, yet there was little else she could do. Xenon though stood silent, he had wanted to know what path they should take, but Lucas had provided so little answers, yet he had left them with the keys to find answers of their own. He smiled to himself and took Lucas’ spell book, seeing that the old man would have little use of it in the future.

Talindra looked wide-eyed, “What are you doing!”

“What does it look like I am doing, I am making the best use of the situation as it has been given to me. Lucas will not have a use for this tome of arcane knowledge it is only fitting that I put it to good use,” Xenon retorted thumbing through the pages gazing at the fountain of knowledge at his fingertips.

“You bastard! You could not even let his corpse cool before you robbed him!” She screamed, “I thought much too highly of you Xenon, you don’t care about anyone except yourself!”

“I made no pretense of caring about anyone, friendships are transitory Talindra, and they change with the wind. Do not take this as a character flaw, merely a philosophical choice I made long ago. Lucas is dead, accept it, mourn if you must, but I like to live in the present,” he smiled closing the book.

Talindra drew her sword, “You are impossible… all of this time and you don’t care about any of us! We all mean nothing, just a means to an end, pawns in some kind of game… I can’t believe you Xenon, I can’t believe that I…” she dropped the sword distraught, “I don’t understand you.”

Xenon turned and left, “Please you should learn to control your emotions…”

Talindra sobbed, “I feel sorry for your family, you heartless little man, though I doubt they feel sorry for a callous bastard like you,” she sat down and curled her knees up.

Xenon paused in the doorway, the words struck into him. If only she knew that his family was long dead, killed by scions of House Karanok, for his transgressions in learning magic. He gritted his teeth and continued on, a pang in his heart, of more then just sorrow.

Xenon tucked the Lucas’ spell book into his satchel and went back up on the main deck where the festivities continued. He was distracted but at least pretended to have a good time, while Aust continued to enjoy himself as best he could. He noticed that the crowd had grown silent and were all looking up into the sky.

He looked up and saw the normally green moon of this world shift to a hazy red, then darkens into a full crimson color. Aust gulped, for some one reason that could not be good. No rest for the weary as the crowd cheered, seeing this as an omen of good and change. Aust noticed that many of the elders had looks of fear and terror on their faces.

Aust muttered, “You know I really miss fighting goblins in the sewers…”

Aust Meliamne

First Post
Sivael, and beyond… to the end of the circle:

The moon had just turned crimson, like a great glowing red eye in the black starless sky. Aust stood dumbfounded; the crowds cheered in admiration of the change, yet the elders seem to be less then pleased, sharing wary glances. Aust approached them as they spoke in hushed tones of the rise of the Titan, the coming of destruction, and the fear they had for their goddess. He tried to make sense of it, but all he could make out was that this was a bad thing.

Meanwhile Talindra sobbed as she sat watching Lucas’ dead form linger on. She was angry with Xenon, with the Shadis Masin, and with herself. She had lost Lucas, and there was nothing she could do to keep him in this world. She cried as a stranger entered the room and looked appreciatively at Lucas. He was a native with ebon skin and soft masculine features. He had a boyish look to him, his white hair wild and held back by a red bandanna. He wore a red vest and purple pantaloons, and a motley array of sashes about his person.

He turned to Talindra and smiled, “I see that you cared for him deeply… he was a good man, and he will be missed by many.”

Talindra nodded, “I miss him already, he was also so determined. He always seemed to know what to do, though he had that annoying habit of keeping his plans to himself. It always irked me,” she paused finally realizing she was talking to a stranger, yet he seemed so familiar.

“His sacrifice will not be in vain,” he smiled placing a hand on Lucas’ chest, “this world will be free, the Titan will be healed. The end of the circle is nigh.”

“Who are you” she knelt down and picked up her sword, “answer me…”

“Is that how you greet an old friend? Do you not trust me? After all this time, and here I thought I was your confidant,” he smiled turning fully to Talindra looking at her with his lavender eyes.

“Tom?” she let her guard down, her tears never fully stopping, “Tom, is that you?”

“I am K’thellis, though if you prefer Tom will do for now. I cannot say that I am staying long, the time has come for me to set things aright,” he smiled, “please, no tears, soon there will be happiness, no pain, nor death, only peace.”

Talindra shook her head confused, “What are you saying…”

“Talindra I aim to bring an end to the suffering of this world, there will be a cleansing and the Titan will be healed,” smiled stepping towards, “Do not be troubled, in time you will understand…”

“Tom…” she whispered

“I am leaving, Talindra, I must go to the Lost Isle and end the Circle” he brushed her hair back, “this is goodbye…” He started to fade away right before her eyes. She reached out to grab him but he was gone, she was alone once more, terribly alone.

She sat down crying, “Please… take me with you…” she sobbed, whispering.

During these chain of events both Xenon and Kyoko came up onto the main deck, and both were taken aback by the new appearance of the crimson moon. Kyoko saw Aust and forced her way through the crowds. Xenon sighed and followed her.

Kyoko shook her head, “Aust, I think we have a problem.”

“You are telling me, have you seen the moon, it is red now… not green but red…” Aust replied.

Xenon smirked, “I appreciate your command of colors Aust, now what do you think we should do about this strange turn of events.”

Aust growled, “Well as far as I can tell the elders,” motioning to a group of native woman talking rather hurriedly, “seem to see this as a bad thing, something about the Titan awakening.”

Kyoko looked grim, “Then this is worse then I thought, but I was talking about Tom… he is loose, and I am not sure what he is capable of. He is a Shadis Masin after all.”

Xenon nodded, “Well, he is a badger, how hard could he be to find?”

“No, he can change his shape, he looks… no he is a mauroth tausoth, finding him will be rather difficult,” she replied glancing around nervously.

Aust nodded, “Well for now we have the Eye, and need to find this second Eye, if it exists, to go home… so for now we focus on that.”

“The Eye!” Kyoko looked up towards the crimson moon; “Where is the Eye Xenon?”

Xenon smiled smugly, “The Eye is safe, do you think I carry that thing every where I go… I keep it safe in…”

Kyoko interrupted him, “Idiot! Tom knows everything about us if he… What are we standing here for! Xenon, we need to find the Eye!”

The trio rushed back inside and ran down towards the lower deck. They arrived at Xenon’s room his door ajar. Xenon stepped in and looked around, his backpack was opened. He searched frantically through it, and then looked up to Kyoko and Aust.

“It is gone,” he said slowly.

“What do you mean gone!” Kyoko shrieked.

“I mean the Eye is not where I left it, someone has taken it, any guess to whom?” Xenon asked questioningly.

Aust growled, “Tom.”

“I knew he was bad news from the moment I laid eyes on that stupid badger,” Kyoko added.

Xenon turned to them, “This does not bode well, first Lucas dies and now this, the winds of fate are laughing at us,” he nearly smiled.

Kyoko sighed, “We need to gather the others, I doubt we can stay idle, and we will need the deck cleared. We may have to launch sooner than I would have liked.”

The party gathered, though despite the celebration, spirits were low. With the news of Lucas death, then the loss of the Eye, and finally Tom’s disappearance the party had much to digest. Talindra was listless and silent during the discussion, divulging information only when asked; the events of the day had drained her emotionally. It was decided that they should go after Tom, and seek out the Lost Isle in the distant east over the waters. They were not sure how long the journey would be, but it seemed they had no choice. The Eye was important to the Shadis Masin. Despite Tom’s wildcard status, he was still one of them; they had to get it back. The course was settled and by evening the Honin Tau launched once more for the east, towards the Lost Isle, towards destiny.

Kyoko guided the ship effortlessly through the twilight sky, passing over the ancient forests of this world. The sky was clear and one could see miles in every direction, Thev rested on the deck watching the passing scenery. Aust stood watch on the deck as well, wondering what was in store for them. Rhea kept Talindra company as best she could, the two of them sharing stories about Lucas, about Tom, and about life in general.

Xenon sat down in his room and began to prepare a scry spell; he hoped to see just where Tom had gotten himself off to. The vision in the mirror slowly swirled until the sight of a man standing amidst bright light appeared, a native dressed in colorful garb. The sky was blue, the light, was sunlight so unfamiliar in the eternal twilight of the Outworld. Xenon noticed the native was not alone; there was a second man, an elven man, lying on the floor spattered with blood. The native held a blood-spattered dagger in one hand. He stepped over the bloody corpse and continued on towards a burning bright portal. The mirror began to crackle and then exploded sending a thunderous shudder throughout the ship, the crew and the party was obviously alarmed, fearing attack, and already on edge.

The party rushed to Xenon’s chambers, his door was in a shambles and a light misty smoke filtered out of the room. Xenon was unharmed, though the rest of the party, mainly Kyoko and to an extent, Talindra, hoped he would have been grievously injured.

Xenon smiled, “Well it seems that our friend Tom has been rather active as of late…”

Thev folded his arms across his chest, “What are you saying?”

Xenon sighed, “What I mean is that, Tom has kept himself busy. Though I did not expect him to stay idle, he seems to be in a place where there is sunlight, he just killed an elf, at least from what I could glean.”

Rhea shook her head, “Tom… what are you doing?” she mouthed softly.

Thev stroked his chin, “His fate is sealed, Rhea,” turned to Xenon, “any idea where that place could be, where Tom was?”

Xenon smirked, “I have not faintest clue, possibly the Lost Isle? I will need time to gather my thoughts, until then, if you will excuse me…” he turned to enter his room as Talindra simply glared at him.

The party dispersed and the journey continued; it was a long silent and somewhat boring trip towards the east. The Honin Tau passed over the silent ruins of the Cursed City towards the black waters of the ocean, with the gleaming red moon reflected in the twilight. Soon the coastline disappeared behind them and water was all they could see for leagues around them. It was unnerving for many of the crewmembers; this was the farthest any had ever come, away from Sivael.

One of the crewmembers pointed excitedly at the sky, “I see something! I see something!”

Talindra looked up to the sky, “I don’t see anything.”

Aust glanced up, “I don’t… wait I see something… a blinking light in the sky, what is that?” Aust pointed to a twinkling light in the sky, when suddenly another light appeared next to it.

The crew was up in arms and wary, “The sky! The sky is alive with demons of light!” one of the crew exclaimed.

Aust blinked then realized something, “No… those lights… Talindra, they are stars… stars… like back home…” as the sky came alive with twinkling stars, sharing space with the crimson moon.

Talindra nodded then turned to the crew, “Calm yourselves, they are not demons… there is no danger,” she turned to Aust, “What do you think this means?”

Aust shrugged, “I would be lying if I told you I knew, but we need to find Tom… and soon.”

During these changes in the sky, Rhea was resting in her room, the days past had been very trying and rest was a commodity she had not partaken much of. As she lay on her bed she thought of her goddess, the journey they had come, and the path that still laid ahead. It seemed daunting but she was not alone, she had support from her allies, her friends, and her goddess.

A distant voice called into her mind, “Mata Shar…” a soft male voice.

Rhea looked around, surprised at the voice, “What is this?”

The room began to warble and shift and then she was elsewhere, floating in space. In front of her floated K’thellis, smiling softly to her, behind him a glowing red orb of scintillating power. His soft lavender eyes crackled with hidden power, and the look on his smiling face was one of distinct superiority.

“Welcome, Mata Shar, I am glad we could have this moment to speak…” K’thellis spoke.

“Why have you brought me here… Tom,” she questioned him.

“You are the Voice of the Watcher, the Mata Shar… you are the voice of a long dead and pathetic goddess. I can heal her, heal the circle… if I so choose, though I am not so sure if that is the proper course, she turned her back on me long ago,” K’thellis moved closer to Rhea.

“What are you saying?” Rhea replied staring into his eyes.

“I stand on the precipice of creation, this pitiful world has brought me nothing but pain, I could destroy it and create a world in my own vision, where I am loved, where I am a traitor no more. She turned her back on the one who loved her most, it would only be fitting that I return her kindness, yes?” K’thellis brushed her hair back.

“What has changed you Tom, you are not the happy little badger I knew. You are not alone in this; let us help you.” Rhea pleaded.

“The Tom you knew was a façade, he is dead, your goddess killed him long ago,” he narrowed his eyes, “I will heal the circle, it will end and begin with me, I will create a perfect world, where pain does not exist. My cause is noble, I will use the Titan to destroy the Shadis Masin, cleanse this world, and then rebuild it in my own image,” he replied with a smile.

“You are speaking madness Tom, you can’t do this. I won’t let you do this, these are your people, does that mean nothing to you!”

“My people, they chose their fate long ago when they cast me out, they have chosen their path, and it shall lead them to utter destruction. I pity them not, they are unfit for my new world, they must be cleansed in the Eye of fire and blood… You see it, don’t you; these people are weak. Join me Mata Shar, you can be the voice of a pure and whole goddess. The savior of a world,” K’thellis waited for a reply.

“No. I can’t let this come to pass, I am sorry for you Tom. I want to help you, to save you, but you must listen to reason. This path is madness, it makes you no better then the Shadis Masin, and in destroying them you will become them. I will save you somehow,” she cried softly, “just don’t do this.”

“I see, Mata Shar,” he backed away, “your path is chosen, I see. Come then, I shall await your coming. Your path is nothing but folly.”

The vision faded and Rhea was once again sitting on her bed in her chambers, alone. She cried into her pillow; one of their greatest had now become their enemy. Yet somehow she hoped she could reach him, somewhere inside was the Tom they knew, she just had to find it.

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