General Z did fall
His two dragons were destroyed
Now we rebuild town
The Fall of General Z
Having battled through their first night back, the following day and now a second night the Brigade has not escaped unscathed. Bingus had been injured when his ebony fly was destroyed during his most recent melee causing him to fall amid his enemies. By the time Bhenedict had rescued the gnome several of Bingus’s bones had been broken, both his collar and a leg! Given the last two days of battle, the stores of potions and the raw materials for rituals were running short throughout Overlook and the available priest were overtaxed … all this adding up to a shortage of any quick fixes. Given the gnome’s condition Fin had been forced to carry Bingus all the way to the High Hall district where their new friend, the peoples priest, Theren had set-up a make-shift care center within this, the most protected part of the city. He offered what relief he could then requested Fin to provide assistance to the security forces of the Old City. Immediately, Fin was tasked with dealing with incoming reports of enemies intrusions within the streets near Caer Overlook.
Elsewhere in the city other heroes are each doing their best to aid in the cities defense. Without warning, several of the heroes hear Great Elder Morgoff’s voice in their head.
“The High Priest is lost, he must be found. Our diviners had sent Durkik to assist Councilor Mountainhome. He left with a squad of soldiers to her apartment with Elftown, but now Durkik has gone missing and none of the squad have returned!”
“Her home lies within the grounds of the University of Majere. Please go there with all haste her home now burns and while the High Priest is missing she yet lies unconscious within!”
Responding to the Great Elders plea, Bhenedict, Notaku, Vani and Eoffram, rush together to the University with a hulking figure that none of them know. This ally they had only just met at Caer Overlook. When they had first seen her, she was speaking in quiet tones to Counselor Olman Sledgemore, and the Counselor had been under heavy guard. The visitor was cloaked, head-to-toe in a heavy hooded robe that hid almost all her features and caused intrigue among the heroes who couldn’t help but guess at the newcomer’s identity.
She was not quite as large as a goliath, but was larger than any of them, even Notaku. The Overlook Elders had only described the visitor as an emissary from the Mystic Isles … when she had spoken it was with a thickly accented, deep gravelly voice, that was at same time effeminate enough to mark the visitor as a woman; she carried a heavy lisp dragging out her S’s and Z’s. As they rushed towards Elftown she introduced herself as Ssarina of Majyst.
Ssarina, was in fact a paladin, and an emissary from Majyst. Recently, strange new breeds of ‘dragonborn’ had visited Majyst recruiting others to join them in a mission of vengeance and conquest against the races of the mainland. They had complained of the abuses and depravities of the peoples there. The appearances of the newcomers was both strange and disturbing to the established dragonborn of the Majyst. Some had wings and others did not, all appeared uniformly hardened and cruel.
So sinister in appearance and attitude were these ‘new’ dragonborn that they had deeply concerned Ssarina. She found their message of conquest and vengeance alarming; so much so she had determined to follow them back to the mainland of Klarn. Their trek had led her to the dwarven city of Overlook where she had witnessed their attack upon the people of Overlook.
What she witnessed had appalled her. They were clearly deadly seriousness about their goals but the attack had confirmed her worse fears. These dragonborn had attacked viciously. They were obviously bent on wanton destruction, sparing none–not hesitating to resort to murder, always saving their most horrific efforts for weak, unarmed, non-combatants.
In Ssarina’s judgment they were entirely absent of honor or mercy; they practiced none of the common curtisies afforded to the enemy in a just war. Risking her own safety Ssarina had snuck through their line entering into Overlook where she sought out the city’s leaders. She had kept her nature disguised, cloaking herself in heavy robes. Until she surrendered herself to Captain Dauralis, Overlook’s human watch commander.
Eventually Ssarina had convinced the Watch Captain to allow her to speak with Counselor Sledgemore and she earned the Counselor’s ear by providing the Elder with the benefit of her valuable insights about the attackers, and later his trust when she had selflessly risked her own life defending the venerable Counselor when he had been caught in the open during one of the devastating attacks upon the city.
As the heroes arrive at the open courtyard of the university, Bhenedict and Notaku are surprised to find Shaden, the half-orc prisoner they had rescued at Fortress Graystone, standing alone within the open square. Shaden stands unmoving, Wicked Fang drawn, hanging low, loosely gripped by the half-orc.
Scattered about the grounds at Shaden’s feet, and spread out across the courtyard all the way to the stoops of the nearby buildings, lie the corpses of dozens of Overlook’s soldiers. Some of them are badly burned, others having been slashed to ribbons and still others rotted as though they’d lain dead for weeks on end.
Bhenedict hesitates for a moment trying to get a grasp on the scene before him, but it isn’t long before his mouth gets the better of him calling out to Shaden, “Drop yer rusted garbage and get ready to die ye potato faced gold stealin’ puddle O’ rat pee!”
Having come to a different conclusion Notaku whispers, “He couldn’t have done this, look at the bodies.”
Stirred by the dwarf’s call, Shaden ‘wakes’–becoming aware of the others’ presence–as if from a dream. His eyes going wide, he sees the carnage for the first time. Carnage measured in the number of the shattered bodies that surrounding him. Dwarven warriors felled in battle … no, ‘slaughtered’ in battle, but Shaden can’t remember how he had come to be here nor where honestly he had been. He wasn’t sure whether he had participated in the slaughter spread before his feet. Then as his awareness spreads beyond the bodies Shaden notices the heat of the fire and he slowly turns towards its source, the burning building, his muscles flexing reflectively. Shaden turns back towards Bhenedict stating the obvious, “There is a fire.”
“That must be the Elder’s home you daft orkling; did you get the call?” calls out Bhenedict.
Shaden nods affirmatively, having no idea what Bhenedict was talking about.
“The counselor is in trouble; did you see what happened here?” asks Bhenedict.
“No, I only just arrived.” is Shaden’s response.
It was clear that the counselor had lived in an expensive apartment in the center of the university complex; it was equally clear they were going to have to rush into the burning, crumbling building if they were going to have any chance of saving Counselor Itrika Mountainhome.
Standing on the short flight of stairs leading to the Counselor’s doorway, Ssarina drops her heavy robe revealing her true nature, “We musst enter now!”
The other agree and all save Vani rush into the building; Vani elects to stay out front to stand watch at the doorway of the apartment.
The others enter into blinding smoke. Shaden travels easily being used to both darkness, smoke and fire, all common features in the harsh mines of Red Rock; he has no problem adapting and makes his way to the stairs within the entry chamber. Bhenedict has no difficulties either protected by both his armor and the magic of his ring but Eoffram finds himself blinded by tears and choking on the smoke as he staggers through the first floor of the apartment. Seeing the half-elf struggle Bhenedict works his way back to Eoffram to assist the half-elf while Notaku continues to follow Shaden.
Unable to see, Eoffram calls out to Bhenedict asking, “Benny, do you still have that ring you found in the Karak mines?”
“Yes, yes … here it is. Put it on.” answers Bhenedict.
Immediately the magic of primordial ring relieves Eoffram’s symptoms but the delay costs them as the stairs leading to the second floor collapses trapping Shaden on the upper level.
“I should leave you; I’m no help here; get to the counselor.” says Eoffram. Nodding, Bhenedict agrees and moves back toward what used to be the stairs where Shaden was busy lifting Notaku to the second floor.
Eoffram heads back to the entry reaching the door where Vani turns towards Eoffram thus missing the approach of High Priest Durkik and a cadre of angry looking dwarves. Before Eoffram can react, Durkik reaches out with a wave of telekinetic force locking Vani in place. Eoffram notices something very uncomfortable about about the High Priest’s stance and the certain fury of his eyes … an unnatural seething. The other dwarves are easier for Eoffram to understand–Hammerfists! They had borne a grudge against the Brigade since the incident at the Karak mines but there was something else about Durkik, something missing in Durkik’s face … and then it came to him, there’s a lack of recognition in the High Priest’s demeanor. He didn’t recognize them. Then Durkik speaks, “You may have fooled the others but Moradin’s forge has a way of revealing impurities and now in these flames your too have finally been revealed.”
Pausing the High Priest raises an open hand towards the heavens as his eyes bore into Eoffram’s soul …
“It was you who killed the Farstriders and the Freeriders! You who tried to assassinate Elder Cadrick! And you who are trying to kill Elder Mountainhome!”
Closing his hand into a fist for emphasis he continues, “Don’t speak, don’t even try … you are undone. You will rue this day but not for long … for our eyes are open, our fists are closed. Judgment is upon you!”
Dropping his fist the dwarves fire their crossbow at point blank range, burying bolts deep with the both Vani and Eoffram.
Vani vanishes in a flash of color and a loud ‘pop’ as air rushes to fill the space he left. Eoffram slumps leening against the wall of the smoldering building. Then in a cloud of smoke Ssarina bursts from the counselor’s burning house rushing to defend the half-elf. Just as suddenly she sees two dragonborn step out from the shadows of buildings at either side of the burning apartment, their dark scales reflecting the flames, each dragonborn wielding a pair of broad-bladed daggers. Quickly Ssarina screens Eoffram reaching backward gripping the half-elf firmly, and granting Eoffram the benefit of Bahamut’s blessing as the villianous dragonborns charge towards her their blades drawn.
Forty feet above the melee, Vani reappears upon the rooftop of the large building that stands adjacent to the burning apartment. He prepares to attack the High Priest’s party but then he hears a horrific boom reverberating from a nearby building as a massive beast soars low over the rooftop, knocking several of the stones from their place. Vani see what appears to be a dead dragon; its remaining scales are dull, its gray leather skin showing large bony gaps. It swoops towards the halfling racing through the air on broken fleshless wings. Its jaw is filled with sharp pointed teeth and a worm-like tongue that thrashes within the monster’s bared jaws with a mind of its own. Riding atop that beast is a humanoid figure clad in heavy hides, its body contained within a harness of iron joints and leather straps. His limbs and face are gaunt, nearly desiccated. Several old wounds hang open, leaking trails of blood and puss, showing bare bone in some spots and metal plates in others. But despite these old injuries and deformities, his narrow features and his yellowed, leathery skin clearly mark him as one of the dread githyanki, raiders and conquerors of the Astral Sea. Switching targets in mid-spell Vani blasts the approaching dragon and rider with an arcane whirlwind forcing the dragon into a crash landing; imperiously the rider dismounts standing unhindered in midair catching Vani with a rueful glance. Instantly his arm swings forward in an arc as he hurls his great silver sword unerringly, the blade slicing Vani who vanishes again in a flash and a pop as his magic reflexively heals him and transports him to relative safety.
On the street below Ssarina stands in front of Eoffram still guarding him from the dwarven crossbows and the two dragonborn raiders but then a third dragonborn appears, this one with lighter, brass-shaded scales exits the northeast road coming from the backside of the university complex; as he steps forward the ground rumbles as dust, and debris erupts from the road behind him in a spray. Then incredibly, a huge red-scaled drake steps out from behind the buildings following the new dragonborn. The massive predator fills the road, standing erect on two powerful legs, better than 16 feet tall. It has a strong neck, a massive tail, and a bulky body. Its arms are short but they equipped with two-fingered, clawed hands, each claw dagger-like and better than 6 inches long but they are nothing compared to the beast’s jaws!
Blissfully unaware, behind Ssarina, Eoffram attacks the dwarves casting spells that drop several of the them. Overwhelmed Ssarina sets herself to receive their attack but the red drake roars out a deafening challenge that stuns both the paladin and the warlock as the heat of the monster’s breath washes over them.
Hopelessly outnumbered Ssarina falls, sliced and gouged by the attacking dragonborn when suddenly Bhenedict leaps from the burning building into the fray staving off their killing blows.
Tornak, the self-proclaimed King of the Trolls, and his troll “court” are something of a local legend. He has raided nearby settlements for years, using tactics that were remarkably complex and disciplined (for a troll, anyway). His raiders have evaded or brutally destroyed any forces sent to combat them. Many brave and righteous heroes have set off into the mountains to end this scourge; all have met their end at Tornak’s hands. After the failing to secure the Mountainroot Temple he couldn’t bring his forces through the Stone Anvil as he had hoped so General Zithiruun had been forced to rush his attack upon Overlook moving his forces through the mountains past the lands controlled by the Troll King. Initially Tornak refused, but with the encouragement of the Stone-Skinned King and the gold the General was willing to pay he ultimately relented.
Truth be known, the King’s animosity for the dwarves was all the encouragement he really needed, that and his desire for fresh slaves, slaves for his Crown of Fallen Heroes.
The two quick teleports caused Vani’s mind to raced back as he reflected where he and the other heroes had come to aid the fallen counselor and to investigate the whereabouts of the missing High Priest Durkik and those members of city guard that had been dispatched the High Priest to locate her, Vani recalled noticing the bodies of the dead soldiers. Many bore the signs of battle, torn apart, barely recognizable, and still others looked partially eaten.
By the time the party reached the counsel woman’s mansion it was engulfed in flames. Without hesitation, the group leaped into the burning building calling out to the the counsel woman. The flames and smoke were billowing from the windows of the three story mansion and Vani decided that another pair of eyes inside would not be very helpful so he waited, standing guard. It wasn’t long before he heard them calling out, the sounds of trouble, evidently the heat and smoke had been too much and some of the would-be rescuers had become victims themselves. Vani heard a lot of coughing and gagging. Looking in through the door he watched, as his own eyes burned from the smoke as two of the rescuer moved to exit the building. They were Eoffram and Ssarina. The warlock, Eoffram, looked like he was trying to get Vani’s attention, but at that moment he had felt an invisible but very real force envelope him, he couldn’t move a step to the left or the right … it was as if he was surrounded by a wall he couldn’t see, just able to turn about slightly he saw High Priest Durkik.
There have been many times when Vani has felt that his arcane skills were more instinctual than instructed–when the magic almost took control before his conscious thought could decide upon a course of action. As a crossbow bolt pierced his back, this became such a time. The arcane energy leaped forth, unbidden and Vani was transported to the top of the adjacent building some 35 feet above the melee before the crossbow bolt could pierce any deeper into his flesh. The wound was light, but would be a good reminder to next time keep a better watch rather than to become distracted by the flames and foolish friends.
Vani stood at the edge of the roof looking down as his companions were quickly engaged by Durkik and several other dwarves. Unfortunately, some of the dwarves had noticed him as well and fired another few bolts in his direction. Their aim was true, so these too caused grazing wounds. Vani dropped down for cover and searching about for targets he noticed a huge red drake leaping towards the fray from a nearby alleyway out of sight of those on the ground. Quickly he realized that this must have been what had eaten some of the soldiers that they had seen in their approach. Vani quickly summoned all the arcane power he could from both within and without him. As always the power eagerly answered his call. Vani released a portion of it firing three lightning bolts at the dwarves and followed up with another two fiery bolts of energy in quick succession. These struck true, felling some of Durkik’s supporting dwarf guard but proving ineffective against Durkik himself. Vani also took time to summon his own limited healing powers to mend the wounds he had received from the dwarves. It wasn’t the first time did he had wished his wife, Minerva, were here, but silently thanked her for the small healing powers she had taught him.
Vani had risen to his feet again as he cast the fiery bolts, but as he began to survey the battle below things went from bad to worse. First, he heard a loud crash behind him, quickly spinning he saw the approach of an undead dragon, Rathoraiax by name. Of course, Vani didn’t know the dragon’s name at that time, his only concern was that the monster was streaking low over the rooftops, ripping into the buildings with claws that could easily behead him in an instant and that dragon was headed straight for him!
Taking a split-second to think, Vani imagined that the only thing likely to be more dangerous than the abominable undead dragon … while noticing that, said dragon, was somehow gliding straight towards him on bony wings that that shouldn’t work … anyhow, the only thing more frightening was a rider controlling the monster.
The cloaked figure radiated power sitting astride the giant monster as casually as a child might sit upon a swing. Vani quickly realized he did not want to die here atop this roof alone. Again energy burst from his body manipulating the air that surrounded the dragon violently, and had created a whirlwind. The powerful gusts of the cyclone knocked the dragon off course and threw it hurling toward the ground. Before Vani could feel any level of satisfaction however he realized that the rider had not fallen with the beastly dragon, instead the former rider stood imperiously floating in air. Vani’s thoughts raced, surely this must be the infamous General Z. Effortlessly, the General started gliding menacingly towards Vani clearly meaning to punish him for his attack.
As the menacing figure approaches, Vani had warned, “Do not attempt to use your powers against me for an attack against me would be futile.”
Ignoring Vani the General smoothly drew a gleaming silver sabre which flew from his hand with awesome power directly at Vani. Again without conscious thought, Vani’s own arcane powers rose up to protect him as the halfling clenched his hands into fists to seize the ambient magical energy surrounding him. Vani knew that the General’s power is far too great to meet head on, so used his sorcery to teleport to the opposite edge of the roof.
His mind back in the present, when Vani reappears he opens his hands releasing a devastating psychic assault upon his attacker, General Zithiruun. This being one of Vani’s most powerful attacks, Vani rejoices as it strikes true; most opponents would have been badly hurt or killed by the power of the attack, but unfortunately it barely phases his opponent. In the course of the attack for the briefest of moments their minds are linked, and in this moment Vani feels the awesome power of his opponent confirming it is indeed General Zithiruun.
More importantly, yet another secret is revealed, General Zithiruun is Githyanki, not merely some would be tyrant, not even from the mortal realm, but one of a legendary race, some call them ‘soulsucks’, martial raiders from the forbidden astral city of Tu’narath. And Vani knows that there is no reality, no plane of existence, upon which these githyanki are not feared.
Taking advantage of the space he has created, Vani takes a moment to survey the battle taking place below. Vani realizes that his friends are now in a terrible struggle with the remaining dwarves, High Priest Durkik, the dragon and the drake. Although he does not have time to study the battle, he can not help but notice a giant troll approaching from a hidden position behind the trees. As Vani watchs, the troll swings a deadly arc with his sword slicing into Vani’s cousin Bairdyn. Bairdyn falls to the ground. Neither can Vani ignore the four shades, each flitting about, floating high, attacking the party from above … each horrid and fearful in their misery. Ghastly in appearance, they have the look of heroes … heroes apparently forced into the troll’s service. The target of these shades is Ian, and with Bairdyn also clearly present, Vani realizes that reinforcements have arrived. Then Vani spots a number of dragonborn warriors that have entered the fray and even with the help of Ian and Bairdyn, it is clear that his friends are terribly outnumbered and outmatched. Vani worries but he knows he has his hands full with General Z, still he can not let his friends fall without his aid.
Momentarily ignoring the General’s approach, Vani casts his most powerful spell trying to draw all the energy from the air into the ground at several key points at the battle below; Vani tries for three points but he is unstable and fatigued to the extent that he is only able to focus his efforts at two points. The result of this efforts create two great stalagmites, one blocking the troll preventing his effort to kill Bairdyn and the other rising up beneath General Z tossing the githyanki from the building but for a second time the General Z catches himself halting his fall. Righting himself, the General floats in the air alongside the building and Vani can not hide his disappointment.
Even from the far side of the building Vani can feel the the intense cold radiating from the ice and he knows that it would kill a weaker being, but again the General does not seem phased and flies toward Vani with renewed anger. Needing time before he can attempt another spell, Vani seeks to stall the githyanki calling out, “I warned you before and by now you must realize that my powers are formidable. Leave now and live.”
General Z slows, still floating and eventually pausing to a hover, “There are things worse than death. And you do not have to die. You don’t belong here. Why do you fight for them.”
Vani answers, “Who are you and why do you attack the city?” still stalling for time as the arcane energies beginning to answer his call.
“I am Zithiruun. You are indeed powerful, you should join me if you would find greatness beyond your imagining.”
Thinking of nothing else to say, Vani answers, “You should join me.”
It is evident that this was not the right answer, as General Z launches into a series of powerful attacks moving impossibly fast, he becomes a blur, a silver flurry with his sabre arcing through the air. Immediately before even the first blow lands Vani uses his arcane energy to bend space transporting himself to safety, reappearing over fifty feet away on the far corner of the rooftop of the next adjacent building. There Vani can still see Zithiruun and the battle below but he feels exhausted and knows his powers are being exhausted far too quickly. Once again he had escaped however narrowly but his defenses were failing and he could no longer rely on his spells to transport him to safety.
Although Vani’s spell had taken him away from the General, he was now closer to the Troll King who seemed to have figured out who had summoned the ice stalagmite. The troll howls his rage, pointing his sword at Vani, launching a bolt of necrotic energy. Instinctively, Vani ducks as the deathly bolt flies over his head, missing him by inches. This only infuriates the Troll King more. Hollering a command, the four shades turn immediately fixing their attention upon Vani. They approach hurling their own bolts of life-draining necrotic power. Resources at an end, Vani’s luck abandons him, he dodges wildly, but three of the four bolts strike true. Vani’s small frame, suffers as the bolts draw the joy, the light, the very life from his body and Vani falls to his knees, bleeding profusely from his wounds.
For the first time, General Zithiruun allows a tight-lipped grin taking one look at Vani’s bleeding body he decides that Vani is finished and slowly floats downward to join the battle below leaving Vani to the shades’ mercies, knowing full-well that the shades have none.
Finding himself crawling on all fours, bleeding from numerous wounds, Vani assesses his position as his life begins to play-out in his mind’s eye … realizing that his sorcery has reached its upper limit, and he has no further healing powers left to aid him. Vani reaches within the pockets of his robes withdrawing two healing potions which he gulps down just in time to stave off his decline and his pending loss of consciousness. Vani feels the potions begin to work, the spread of healing warmth throughout his body, causing wounds to close and bring an end to his bleeding. His head is still fuzzy and his strength still ebbing, but the potions impact is instantaneous and Vani is much better.
Witnessing Vani fall, one of the shades turns away but the other three still advance. Knowing that the shades were about to finish him off, Vani reaches deep within himself summoning enough energy to cast one last powerful spell and blasts the two closest shades with an blizzard of ice destroying them. The shades fade leaving no trace. The last of the three shades releases another bolt of deadly energy striking Vani the bolt saps the sorcerer’s very will to survive. Dropping to his knees Vani readies to cast his final simplest spell, with the last of his reserves when suddenly the final two shades wink out of existence; they vanish as the Troll King, Tornak is finally slain by Notaku.
Crawling to the edge of the roof Vani peers down seeing that somehow miraculously the battle had turned. Now his comrades have General Zithiruun surrounded. It is clear that Vani’s friends had been in a fight, and no doubt it was the fight of their lives but it is equally clear that the advantage was now theirs.
Stretching his arm over the edge of the roof, Vani releases his final spell directly at Zithiruun incinerating the weakened General where he stands. Finally the General crumbles bringing the battle to a close. Taking a quick headcount Vani is surprised to find that none of his friends have perished in the battle; trapped on the rooftop, Vani collapses letting exhaustion overtaking him.
Cast: Bairdyn (PC/Tom), Bhenedict (PC/Rob), Wolf (PC/Mart), Eoffram (PC/Mart), Shaden (PC/Van), Vani (PC/Van), Ian (PC/Andy [remote]), Ssarina (PC/Heather)
Summary/Goals: Protect Overlook from the invading army and destroy General Z.