Episode Fourty-Eight: The Chornicles of Klarn: Strike Three (7/20/06)
[Featuring Jack, Lu Fang, Hal, Seren-Arty]
Chronicles of Klarn
(In the words of Jack)
As we neared the Fane we saw that the two fire giants were stopped on a ledge that led into the Fane fighting a huge half-dragon giant. We quickly flew in to assist our companion giants. As we did so, however, from over the top of the fane a huge black dragon came sweeping down to attack us as well.
Lu Fang and I were the first to assist the giants. I dropped Grizom, who croaked out, “Thaatss de giant of Dreeeendelz,” at the end of the walkway that we were fighting from and interposed myself between the half-dragon and Kargo. Lu Fang took a position next to Bram.
As we fought Kagro suddenly looked at me with a feral crazed glaze to his eyes, “You shall not enter the fane. None may enter the fane.” And with that, he struck at me getting a glancing blow in before I realized my peril.
Bram added, “No dragon may enter the fane. It is forbidden.” He too looked somewhat crazed, though perhaps slightly less so, as he looked over at Lu Fang readying his weapon to attack.
Having just defeated the half-dragon that the giants were fighting, Lu Fang began to move along the edge of the Fane away from the giants trying to get one of them to follow him so that I wouldn’t have to defend myself against them both. I think he also wanted to go attack the black dragon himself and to get the giants to notice that larger threat and be distracted from their attack on me. It worked on Bram, but Kagro was determined to continue attacking me.
While we dealt with the giants, the black dragon focused its attention on Hal. It initially attacked with a dire charge that allowed it to use all of its weapons in a vicious attack on Hal. His armor blocked many of the blows, but a few got through causing small rivulets of blood to flow down the bright armor. The dragon continued on past him in its flight. As it banked away, it breathed on Hal, Sapphire and Semberious, the assault was not only a gout of acid which Semberious’ magics protected them from almost completely, but more unfortunately, the dragon had enchanted the breath with the power to remove our magical defenses. Luckily, either its magic was weak or the breath was too dispersed as it failed to remove much of the defenses only causing a momentary flickering in the power of the spells that ultimately remained in force. Sapphire cast a fly spell to allow Hal to better be able to maneuver without worrying about her. Shortly thereafter she cast one of her orbs of force at the dragon which caused it to pause in its flight long enough for Hal to set himself up for a well positioned attack.
Hal bellowed out a battle cry, “Foul beast, first blood you may have gotten, but you shall taste the might of the sword of Heironeous which will make your mouth bitter with my blood.” And with that he spurred his pegasus into a charging action himself. The dragon lance pierced the dragon through the shoulder going deep and causing it to screech out in pain. It backed up to position itself for another attack. But wasn’t able to use all of its weapons as it needed to devote much of its energies to staying aloft.
Lu Fang flew after the dragon but was surprised when it flipped over and the dragon bit down on him trapping him in the dragon’s jaws. While his katana was useless at this point, he maneuvered to get his wakaziki into position where it could hopefully be used to release the dragon’s grip. It looked as if the dragon were going to try to repeat the maneuver with one of its claws against Hal, but was only successful in knocking him around and couldn’t get a good grip as Stalwart pulled back just in time to protect his rider.
I smiled as I remembered a conversation that Lu Fang and I had had a few days ago. I was telling him about the encounter that Orion and I had had with the dragon working with the Githyanki and how we had surprised it with our switcheroo maneuver.
I flew around the dragon being sure to remain out of its reach until I positioned myself right above and just behind his head. As I did so Lu Fang was able to poke the dragon with his short sword and caused the dragon to loosen its jaws of deathly gripping just slightly allowing Lu Fang to see where I was moving to. I called out, “Lu Fang, time for a ‘switchback, dragon thwack.’ Get ready.”
I quickly recited arcane words of power and suddenly found myself in the mouth of the dragon and Lu Fang was positioned where I had been. I chuckled as I called out to Lu Fang again, “Now! Right behind the left ear.”
Without hesitating, Lu Fang plunged both of his weapons into the dragon’s skull. Twisting them as they sunk in and then ripping them out again. I felt the dragon clench down on me monetarily before it’s jaws relaxed and its eyes rolled back into its head and it began to plunge towards the ground its life extinguished.
We again prepared to head for the doors behind the giants who still appeared intent on attacking us as perceived invaders to the place they were supposed to be protecting.
I called out to Bram as I flew past, “Friend Bram, I know that you must prevent my entrance to the Fane, but clearly you see that the Fane is already breached by other dragons. You have my word as your friend and travel companion that I will assist you in ejecting these interlopers and then will exit myself leaving the fane as you would have it untouched by dragons.” He seemed to be considering my offer, but Lu Fang and I Kagro yet to pass as well.
Suddenly, Vercinebex appeared and began to challenge Kagro for entrance to the Fane. Kagro was clearly not going to listen to any words bluff or true not only from me or Lu Fang but also from the also crazed Vercinebex, Lu Fang however growled at the giants as he got closer, “Friend or foe, giants know that you can expect only a quick death from us should you try to prevent us from following the Lords command and fix the fane.”
Between that threat and the appearance of Vercinabex, I was able to tumble past Kagro without incident as was moments later Lu Fang.
Seren-Arty had snuck invisibly past the giants and was waiting at the door as we approached. He had a worried look on his face.
“There is a multi-headed dragon of all the colors inside. I think it might be an aspect of the dragon queen, Taimat,” he called out mentally to us all. To the giants he added, “Perhaps you would want to direct your energies to ejecting the dragon who is already in the fane?”
By this time, Kagro had convinced Bram to side with him in defending the fane from Vercinabex and the three of them were engrossed enough that the rest of the party was able to maneuver past them, though Bram did take a swing at Cicily, but she was well out of reach as she passed by.
As the giants fought each other outside the fane, we entered a long hallway to find less than 50 feet in front of us a huge version of the queen of dragons (though not as huge as the real deal would have been obviously). Simultaneously from a creature further down the hall came a whirling sphere of blades that ripped into the party and caused much distraction and pain. Sapphire quickly put up a wall of force cutting off the hall and preventing us from being further attacked by the blades or the dragon. There were able to pause for a moment and take our bearings.
We were in a hallway about 25′ wide, maybe 40′ tall, and nearly 100′ long or so. There were passages near us to the left and right. Sapphire’s wall blocked the passage to the right, but we would be able to continue down the passage to the left. The aspect of tiamat was directly in front of us behind the wall of force. Further behind it in another intersection of passageways was what looked like a demon affixed to a cross. The cross seemed to be some technomagical contraption that was holding her in place, but still allowed her to apparently create the whirling blades of death that would travel down each of the larger halls in succession. Behind her were extremely lifelike giant statues of creatures that looked like some sort of netherworldy undead. They looked lifelike enough that we were pretty sure that they might spring to unlife any moment to attack us should we get too close.
I determined to investigate the passage to the left while the rest of the party was discussing their options. Within I found a large furnace room and two golem-like creations of fire and rock that immediately came to attack me as I approached. I stayed in the doorway so that the creatures couldn’t pass by and were forced to fight me along. Lu Fang flew above me so as to assist me in the defeat of the creatures. When the creatures hit us we burned with a hellish fire and Sapphire identified the creatures as hellfire golems. Within a few moments though they were defeated and the way lay open for us. However, as they were defeated, I noticed the furnace in the corner of the room flare to life.
While we were fighting the golems and the party was considering its options, Drendel appeared behind the aspect of Tiamat or Takhesis as Sapphire and Lu Fang refered to her. Along with him were two other humanoids, one clearly a half-dragon the other seemingly human. They also had a large black dragon with them. Seeing the wall of force they made some rude gestures in our direction and seemed to be talking over their options, but looking rather frustrated at their inability to bypass the barrier.
Seren-arty was able to shunt his psionic powers into a different frequency or wavelength and have them hop through the wall of force and a current of electricity sparked from Drendel to his half-dragon follower. Drendel seemed unaffected by the energy, but the other creature seemed to be having difficulty resisting the repeated shocks. The apparently decided that it was time to retreat and look for a different way of getting to so. Seren-Arty continued his assault well after they had disappeared from sight.
Within moments of Drendel backing away, Hal made a discovery. The fighting of the giants had stopped and he had looked out and noticed that Vercinebex was no where to be seen. The other two giants where lying dead on the ledge with multiple dagger-like wounds. Clearly whatever had killed them had done so quickly and quietly. It didn’t seem that Vercinabex had the power to do that. Seren-Arty noticed something strange at that point. Ominous Fabler and Tobias were hiding in the corner apparently having snuck in after us. The rest of the party had not noticed them as they were covered by illusions of invisibility. To Seren-Arty, they looked as if they were sizing up the party to launch an attach. He quickly create an area of psionic energy that disrupted the flow of magic and ended their spells. As he did so, he called out, “Tobias and Ominous, what causes you to sneak up on us. You look as if you are about to attack us. What is your motive and purpose?”
Tobias held out his hands and replied, “Touché. You have dispelled our illusions. However, we still have similar goals. Let us continue as you had planned.”
Hal looked as if he were about to blow a gasket, “Again and again, you tell us that you have similar goals, but when pressed for a real answer to what your intentions are you are obtuse and convoluted in your answer. I ask you again, why are you here? What are you trying to do?”
Tobias feigned hurt as he replied, “I have told you. I am here to prevent my mother and drendel from finishing what my father tried to do.”
Seren-Arty added, “And what of us, what are your plans for us? Do you mean to kill us as it looked like you were about to do?”
Tobias replied, “You misjudge me and perhaps reveal your own fears and motives. I could care less what happens to you all. Whether you live or die is not a concern of mine, only stopping my mother and Drendel matters at this point.”
Hal sighed, “Very well, continue with us, but you will be leading the way as I will not have you at our backs.”
Lu Fang and I had begun to chip away at the magical furnace that was spitting out new hellfire golems as we destroyed them. We would get a moment or two to catch our breath and another one would exit the furnace. We realized that destroying the furnace would be a long process and so called for the others to quickly come in and check out the other exits, two doors. Lu Fang and I guarded the rear to prevent any more of the golems from approaching the rest of the party as they examined the two doors.
Ominous Fabler got a gleeful look in his eyes as he approached one of the doors and a sick little giggle escaped his lips. He wasn’t looking too good either, he was sickly looking and pale whereas before he had seemed a healthy little gnome. Tobias approached the other door.
As Ominous opened the door, Lu Fang lept over him to see what was getting him so excited. Within the chamber he found a large evil-looking chest. He pulled out a bag to scoop it up and was about to pick it up when Ominous scrambled in and grabbed it up saying, “You wouldn’t want to touch that. I’ll keep it safe.”
Lu Fang pointed his sword at Ominous, “Tell me what it is or I’ll gut you where you stand.”
Ominous glared at Lu Fang but answered, “This is what will allow you to get your friend’s soul back.”
Seren-Arty asked, “Do you mean Cicily?”
Ominous nodded his head, “Yes.”
Jack called out, “But we already have her soul back you twit. What do you really mean?”
Ominous nodded again, “Yes, not Cicily, but yes Cicily, yes Jack too. His is the soul currently in the balance. In any case this is what will allow you to free them from their burden.”
Grudgingly we allowed Ominous to keep it for the time being. About this time, Tobias opened the door to the other room. Immediately there was a piercing wail that send a shiver of fearful despair through us all. Tobias looked back at us expectantly as if to see which of us had succumbed to the horrible sound. However, all of us, except Grizom, shook it off to observe an ancient tree being in the room. Grizom began to wail and lament his sorry state and the fact that we all were soon to die, him first. I tried to comfort him, but it did little good.
Tired of this pussy footing around I declared, “We need to stop playing around and get to the heart of the matter. Beware of the golems; you might want to vacate this room quickly.” And so saying a ran over to the door on the opposite of the tree room and opened it.
The others quickly followed. Though we discovered that Tobias exited the tree room through a crack in the wall at the other end from which we were exiting. Similarly we discovered the Ominous was not following us but was heading for the exit with his prize.
More concerned with Tobias at the moment we entered the hallway that he had entered, though he was closer to the statues and the door behind them than we were. Lu Fang and I, being the quickest, rushed down the hallway to intercept Tobias as he stood before the wall. He had pulled out the key that he carried and was beginning to intone arcane words as runes appeared on the door.
The others began to follow us down the hallway, but as they started to enter the hallway, they were attacked from a creature in the tree. First a dagger flew at Hal and bounced off his armor. Moments later Sapphire cried out and then went silent. Hal turned to see her held firmly in the grip of Pandora. She held a dagger to Sapphire’s throat and another stuck in her side where blood oozed out.
Pandora hissed, “One more move and I kill the bitch. You will do exactly as I say Hal or she will die a quick but painful death.”
Hal’s hand clenched his sword pommel until his knuckled turned white, “What is it you want?”
“You will immediately go to release Alacora. The creature trapped on the cross.”
“Will this Alacora help us defeat Drendel and Tobias?”
Hal considered for a moment, “It appeared that she was behind a wall of force correct?”
“Well, then here is what you need to do. You need to release Sapphire as she’s the only one who can bring down that wall. You have my word that I will free this Alacora once that is done.”
Now it was Pandora’s turn to hesitate, “Very well. But she dies the instant I think you are trying to trick me. Priest, see to her.” With that she shoved Sapphire over towards Semberius who immediately set to tending her wounds and healing the paralysis that Pandora had caused.
Hal was affronted, “I have said that I will do as you ask. Thus it is my word that you have.”
With that they also continued down the hallway. As they entered, however, from the other end of the hallway appeared Drendel accompanied by his crew.
Cicily summoned an acid fog to slow down their progress and hopefully give the party the time it needed to deal with the no multiple threats it was facing.
Seren-Arty commented, “I am getting low on energy. I will need to lend a hand in a more physical way.” With that he transformed himself into a twelve-headed hydra that was barely able to fit in the hallway and was about to move down the corridor to assist me and the others.
Lu Fang and I looked at each other for a moment and agreed that Tobias should not be allowed to continue doing what he was doing so we attacked him. I flipped over him knocking his hood slightly giving us a distraction as we moved into place. Once we had him flanked we began attacking in earnest. He made a feeble attempt at defending himself but between the two of us he was really dead already and just didn’t realize it. I whacked him with my wallop stick stunning him as Lu Fang rent him with his two swords. Within moments he was lying at our feet dead. Unfortunately, he had had enough time to complete his incantation and the doors were now opening into a huge chamber.
Seren-arty spoke telepathically to Cicily, “Cicily, I don’t trust Pandora especially with her lurking behind us. Can you keep an eye on her?”
Cicily responded telepathically, “You know Seren-Arty, I’m done with this manipulative demoness. I’ll not only keep an eye on her but tooth and nail as well.” With that she summoned for the dragon of the ring and mounted on it commanded it to attack Pandora. Simultaneously she tried casting a power word on Pandora which was not strong enough to overcome Pandora’s resistance.
The dragon grabbed Pandora within its jaws and began shaking her back and forth like a dog with a hare. Seren-Arty saw an opportunity and decided to assist Cicily before engaging the larger party down the hall. He waited a moment for the dragon to stop shacking its prey and then with a sudden rush each of his twelve heads reached out and took a bite out of Pandora. By the time he was done. There was a bloody hunk of meat where once there had been Pandora. Being the unnatural creature she was hover, that little bit of flesh quickly discorporated into a black putrescent ichor and a collection of bugs and worms all of which dispersed quickly.
Seren-arty, having observed that Ominous had not followed, called out telepathically, “Ominous is escaping with the thing in the chest. I will take care of him once I have finished up with Pandora.”
Drendel was not stopped by the acidic fog, though his companions were slowed by it. He came striding through as if it wasn’t even there. I asked Lu Fang if he could take Drendel alone so that I could assist Seren-Arty in capturing Ominous. He smiled an nodded. As I left I noticed out of the corner of my eye, Drendel’s greatsword come crashing down on Lu Fang who barely managed to get his katana up to deflect the primary force of the blow. Lu Fang used the block as a way to set Drendel up for a vital blow with his wakazhi. Drendel staggered back, but then renewed his assault on Lu Fang. Lu Fang sensing his opponents weakening state, pressed the offensive. The flurry of blows he rained down on Drendel was too much for Drendel and he staggered to his knees trying to fend off the rain of metal.
Thanking Corellon, the Warrior, for the blessing of speed that he had given me I raced after Ominous and caught him flying down from the fane.
“Ominous, you have once chance to give me what is in the chest before I whack you with my wallop stick.” I warned.
“Boy, you’d best mind your place. What I have will free your soul from my master’s grip. Leave me be or you will suffer greatly yourself.” And, he began speaking a spell.
Recognizing the spell as a teleport, I quickly reached out and grabbed the bag hanging from his belt. With a deft tug it came free and the gnomeling disappeared.
Chuckling at my fortune I headed back inside as Seren-Arty was heading out, “No need to assist. He left his treasure with us.”
As we passed the chamber where we had first seen Drendel’s group I saw one of his followers exiting from the acid fog along with the black dragon. “Best for you if you just cut your losses and leave quickly,” I suggested. “Seek not the power of the fane again and you may yet live a long life. Go against us and you will die a quick death.” Recognizing his losing position he began heading for the exit.
We came back in to find Lu Fang withdrawing his sword from Drendel’s chest. The aspect of Tiamat had extricated a few of its heads. Just enough for us to chop them off with little cause for fear of attack. The creature died quickly with all of us able to focus our attacks on it.
The air started to become charged with energy as the whirling barrier of blades again appeared and began to fly down the hallways. We jumped into the large chamber that Tobias had opened, dragging the bodies of our fallen foes with us.
The chamber itself was huge and mostly empty. In the center was a large pool of black blood that dripped from a still beating blackened heart that hung suspended in the center of the room. A bridge of light arced over the pool to crest just below the heart of the sundered Darklens. Orbiting the heart like miniature planets were nine dragonorbs, one of which I recognized as the one that belonged to Mondragon.
We looted the bodies for anything that might be useful and as we did so we found the key and the rod that Tobias has carried. The rod was pulsing in time with the beating of the heart. The key had a subtle glow and seemed to be calling to me. Apparently it was calling to Lu Fang as well as he perked up when we pulled that out. I realized that if I was being tempted by the key because of the dragonic energies that were flowing through my body, how much stronger it mist be for Lu Fang as a true half-dragon. My first thought was that I should keep it so as to make it safe from Lu Fang, but I relized that that thought was coming from the desire that it was creating in me.
“I think that Hal should probably hold the key as it is putting a pull on Lu Fang and I that is hard to resist and of us all Hal is the most likely to be able to resist should it start to affect the non-dragons.”
Grizom interrupted, “Grizom could hold it too. He iszs doomed to die anyway. We’ll all diee, itz hopeless. We might azs well just geeve up now. You are strong Jack, maybe you survive, but Grizom definitely not.”
He was still suffering the despair from the shriek of the dread tree, but I’m sure his dragon blood was calling out for the key as well. “No, Grizom, we must make sure the key is in the hands of one who is protected from the doom it contains.”
“I think that I can safely hold it as well,” added Lu Fang. “You are not the only one who can resist its lure.”
“No, no, it is best that Hal hold it for now.”
We began to look around the room for any other clues as to what we were to do. A long discussion broke out about how the Lords had said it would be obvious what to do once we got here. Lu Fang tried to walk on the bridge, but was unable to without the key. He tried to fly but his sash wasn’t working, so he suggested that I try flying, but I found that my wings wouldn’t lift me either. Seren-Arty tried to move the orbs with his telekinesis, but that too failed.
Eventually, Seren-Arty took out a scroll and altered reality so that he could use his hypercognition power. After activating that, he emerged from the brief trance and said, “It seems that the best course of action is to strike at the heart of evil. The obvious choice is to fight evil. Though it won’t be destroyed as we are not capable ot destroying even a fragment of a god, it will accomplish the desired result that the Lords were looking for.”
That said, Hal began to climb the light bridge and pulling out his holy sword and uttering an oath in Heironeous name, he smote the heart. A huge gapping wound was made in the heart and a gout of black blood poured into the pool below. The entire fane was rocked with tremors and the orbs started to fall into the pool. Thinking quickly, I ran towards Mondragon’s orb and made a flying leap for it landing on the surface of the pool, balancing on the surface by means of Calaglin’s magical boots. The other orbs once they were in the blood began to circle forming a miniature whirlpool.
Suddenly from down the corridor that we had entered the fane through we heard a tremendous voice, “Little morsels, ??? is coming for his dinner.” In the doorway was the head of a colossal red dragon, the largest I’d ever seen. He was large enough that he was needing to squeeze his way in, but it would soon make it. Sapphire put up another wall of force, blocking his passage. He raged at us for a few moments and we shut the doors far enough so that he wouldn’t be able to see clearly into the room. We discussed options for how to get past the dragon and decided to wait until he was able to get to the middle section where he would again be blocked by the the wall of force around Alcora. We heard him casting a spell to transport him to the middle section. We opened the doors and made a break for it.
Once we reached the ledge we were struck by a blast of cold air as a white dragon breathed on us. The blast sent us flying off the edge, but luckily most of us were able to fly to avoid the danger of the long drop. I urged us to gather together and cast an illusion from a scroll to disguise us as falling debris hoping that the dragons who were steadily increasing in number would ignore us.
It was an awesome sight to see all the dragons appearing. There were chromatic, metalic, gem, and other draogons slowly arriving, all seemed enraged and intent on the fane. Some fought, some bided their time waiting for their opportunity.
When we reached the ground we gathered what belongings we could from the giants and from atop the ridge we saw Orion leading some griffins to take us to Mondragon’s place.
Odious Verminer (Ominous Fabler)