Monthly Archives: March 2011

SOW Chapter9: Odos Escapes

Odos Escapes

Githzerai have won
the battle price oh so high

they live one more day

The Fall of Akma’ad – Pt
2: Odos Escapes

Xirakis the Red Dragon EscapesThe great dragon Xirakis
flies from Akma’ad as the dust settles, the screams of the dying fading behind
him.

Within the besieged fortress of Akma’ad, Odos has the githzerai organized into
three units to hold the fortress as long as possible. The githyanki had been
dealt a terrible blow but Odos knows their fate still hangs in the balance.

Outside some githyanki had escaped the avalanche having been screened by the
cliff’s overhang. Even now, with single-minded focus they massed and renewed
their attack with determination that few besides the githyanki or githzerai
could match.

On the cliff, above the fray
the half-orc Jerid looked down on the devastation below–a reflection of his
own soul. Still wondering what had become of his brother, Shaden, and confused
as to how Shaden had become involved in these matters, here for a second time
in his search for Shaden a githzeria fortress was somehow involved.

Near Jerid, on the west tower
located on the cavern overhang Bairdyn and Bhenedict searched for a way down to
the battle still raging below while on the east tower Vani followed the dragon
watching it disappear in the distance as it flew to the south of the fortress.

On the ground below two great
ships lay crushed and burning one atop the other. Neither ship would ever fly
again, both were severely damaged. The stolen Sacrifice, on top of the
pile, was where both Ian and Tokk’it were taking cover on a terrace located off
the captain’s cabin in the stern of the ship. They were hiding from the Conqueror’s captain and a pair of githyanki warmongers now standing on the deck of the
burning Conqueror near the gunwales; they had appeared only long enough
for the captain to quickly run into her cabin and exiting she had spotted Ian
and the heroic githzerai scout.

Zardoz was also still on the Sacrifice,
but no one had seen him. He was carefully avoiding flames that were quickly
spreading over the deck.

Within Akma’ad, the githzerai had accepted their impending doom, with
the understanding that they would make the githyanki victory a costly one, but
that was before the heroes from Overlook had shown up with their unexpected
assistance. Now blind Odos knew that the things outside of the fortress had
changed. All the githzerai knew the avalanche had somehow been triggered. They
had felt the boulders fall; they had heard the screams of their hated foes.
Their blind master, Most Exalted Odos from the House of Reprisal, knew more;
but most certainly, they were still close to losing, but hope had been
rekindled and so with the defensive landslide triggered Odos had ordered the
weak, those githzerai too young or too infirm to secure themselves deep within
the bowels of the fortress while he set the remaining cenobites at the east
doors where the githyanki had breached the fortress while the elder himself
prepared to deal with a second impending breach at the west door.

Map - Akma'ad

The battle had already been
raging for more than a full day and night, and even before the githyanki had
attacked in mass, a gish assassin had managed to infiltrate the fortress with a
team of killers. They had assassinated several key githzerai leaders but they
had failed to surprise Odos who almost single-handedly killed them. Only their leader
had escaped his wrath.  The attack had been devastating leaving Odos the only
surviving member of a group of githzerai leaders that had been meeting at
Akma’ad. Over the course of the battle githyanki troops had broken through the
githzerai’s defenses several times and entered the fortress, but each time they
had eventual been rebuffed by the githzerai. Currently the two and a half dozen
githyanki that survived the downfall were outside still plotting the githzerai
demise. Even in the face of the devastating landfall, they were still keeping
their military formation and launching new attacks while working on a final
assault utilizing a passwall ritual. 

As the Conqueror was
being engulfed by flames, its captain, Iquel, looked upward suddenlyGithyanki Pirate Captain - Iquel seeing both Ian and Tokk’it at the stern
of the Sacrifice positioned above her and her lieutenants. Quickly, both
the Captain and her cronies take to air telekinetically flying to the deck of
the Sacrifice. Landing, they spot Zardoz on the forecastle of the
vessel. Iquel orders one of the lieutenants to chase down the wizard, while she
and the second move to deal with Ian and Tokk’it. Then she teleports herself
beyond the two heroes allowing her lieutenant to flank them. The Captain
herself is then spotted by Vani on the cliff above and both Vani and Jerid
launch attacks of their own. Their distraction allows Zardoz an opportunity to
magically turn himself invisible and he flees walking a tightrope down the Sacrifice’s ramming spike and making his way to the ground below. Vani blasts the Captain
knocking her from the stern terrace and she tumbles out of control toward the
ground. Ian interposes himself between the lieutenant and Tokk’it, and bolsters
his own defenses with his psionic prowess.

Still weak from his previous
exploits, Tokk’it retreats over the edge, but the second lieutenant having lost
Zardoz spots the githzeria as he descends and blasts him with a psychic attack
causing Tokk’it to lose consciousness and fall. Luckily, he becomes tangled in
the lines which save his life.

Having boosted his defenses
to a point of near invulnerability Ian mocks the lieutenants and calls out to
the Captain in a puerile way she finds most revolting insuring that they would
chase him.

After casting his spells,
winds rise lifting Vani into the air and the halfling sorcerer flies to the
ground below hoping to joining the fray. He lands in the cover afforded by the
boulders just in front of the fortress. Soon Jerid joins him using his own
magic to descend.

Githzerai Leader OdosWithin the fortress Odos shouts over the sounds of fighting, “I hear the
chanting, the ritual is almost complete. Prepare yourselves, there will be no
quarter given. Chen, prepare yourself, I will make space for you to the east.” 

Protected from
counter attack by the side of one of the crashed ships and the angle of the
walls, another small group of githyanki work on the ritual next to the walls at
the west door
of the fortress. Shock troopers guard this group.

Odos turns to the east doors
of Akma’ad, those that had already been breached by the githyanki. At that
entrance the githzerai cenobites had pushed the githyanki back outside of the
fortress and still clashed with the githyanki shock troop, their sky reavers
and other assorted pirates. The blind githzerai suddenly reaches out, his
muscles binding and clenching as his fingers stretch out, extending, then as he
curls his fingers like claws, lightning rushes outward from Odos’s core rippling
through and out of his arms, arcing towards the githyanki warriors. His energy
rips into the githyanki splitting into three prongs, instantly as githyanki are
struck, they vanish only to reappear within the fortress where they are surrounded
by the githzerai. Without hesitation Chen leaps over the cenobites into the
front line sweeping his  guan dao through the press of githyanki who fall like
so much dried chaff showering Chen in their hot blood. The few that survive the
onslaught are quickly dispatched by Odos’s human bodyguard, Zed the slayer.

ChenWith the east way cleared
Odos offers, “Zed, your service is complete, leave while you are able. Chen,
you too should leave.”Zed The Slayer

Chen asks, “What of you
master?”

“I must defend the others,”
answers the elder.

“And I must guard you,
master,” answers Chen.

Zed asks Chen, “Who is
outside fighting the githyanki?”

Standing outside the east
door Chen sees Ian and explains, “I see but one young man and I don’t recognize
him.”

On the other side of the
fortress, on the west side, Bairdyn and Bhenedict descend from the cliff on
ropes they had tied together and fixed onto the west tower on the cliff above. They
cautiously drop the 65 feet to the deck of the
githyanki ship Tyranny which lies
crashed outside of the fortress. That ship had been brought down by
concentrated githzerai attacks even before the heroes had arrived. As they descend they see the dead
littering the battlefield then suddenly caught off-guard, they are whizzed by ballista
fire as some of the githyanki stragglers from the Tyranny take aim and
fire. Throwing care to the wind the friends half slide and half drop the rest
of the way to the deck of the ship. As Bhenedict orients himself on the slanted
deck of the Tyranny Bairdyn attacks but in short order the pair is
surrounded by githyanki. They are outnumbered two to one.

Benny yells a prophetic
warning, “You better go get some friends!”

Beyond the broken ship,
amidst the dead and the rubble caused by the avalanche a large blur appears,
something like a heat mirage but then a voice powerful and full of bass,
explodes, magnified by arcane power and in answer a terrifying ball of fire
erupts from the blurred cloud. The ball of fire explodes upon the githyanki at
the west door, their burning bodies fly through the air. Only a few of the
githyanki, those on the periphery of the blast are spared. The survivors race
towards their obscured opponent, and as they approach their target becomes
clearer until they can make out the outline of the sorcerer, Jerid who had
attacked them. Quickly they aim and fire using crossbows. Their aim is true and
the manage to cripple the half-orc, but even as they do Jerid’s heat overcomes
them and several collapse leaving only the strongest among them to rally a
final attack. Gracefully the githyanki sky reavers fly and dance over the
boulders as they race towards Jerid but sudden their progress is interrupted as
Vani rises from his hiding place amid the rocks and blasts the sky reavers to
oblivion inadvertently catching Jerid in his blast. Jerid staggers then falls
disappearing in the pile of rocks.

Having chased Ian from one
side of the burning ships to the other Iquel and her lieutenants find
themselves alone and surrounded by Ian, Zardoz, Chen, and Zed with over a dozen
githzerai survivors, including Most Exalted Odos of the House of Reprisal.
Without hesitation the githzerai attack the lieutenants, both are slain. They
are about to slay the pirate captain, Iquel, when Ian interposes himself, “No,
she is a valuable prisoner of war. We can show we are better than they are by
not just killing them but offering mercy when it isn’t deserved. Besides which
she might be able to give us valuable information. She isn’t a threat now; she
is defeated.”

The surviving githzerai, many
of them wounded, gather around the old blind githzerai who seems as aware of
his surroundings as if he could still see. The monk speaks in a rough tone.

While Odos discuss the matters at hand approaching from the rear of the party Bennie finally catches his breath clucking between breaths to Bairdyn, “Scurrying down an open cliff wall by rope while worrying that some slob is gonna skewer you like last night’s kabob takes a lot out of you but at least we are alive again, eh Bairdyn."

Not waiting for the halfling’s reply Benny glares mischievously towards his even shorter companion, "It looks like we have beaten the odds – ship combat, without seas, flying dragons . . ."

"Falling dwarves," interjects Bairdyn pointing out, "you sounded like a cupboard full of dishes breaking when you hit the ground."

The friends conversation is interrupted by the ’glare’ of the old blind githzerai as he addresses the surviving githzerai, “We’re alive. I don’t know how they knew we were here, but the cost was high. Too high. Both Kath’ik and Wellik are dead, along with dozens of our brothers and sisters. We lost the abbot and most of the monastery. Our conference is finished. Now I must decide our path.”

With an almost undetectable grimace, the stoic githzerai turns his empty eye sockets toward the lines of dead and wounded.

Benny whispers to Bairdyn under his breath, "I think our path is already decided"

Odos continues “Gather your belongings. In the morning we travel to Sayre. There is a conference there I am obligated to attend before we depart for home.”

He pauses and turns his sightless gaze towards the heroes.

"Yea," the hobbit replies with a wistful whispering to Bhenedict, "We will be walking out of here, cause these ships look broken, and it will be a long walk."

“You aren’t githzerai, but you fought for us. Who are you?” asks Odos.

“We’re alive. I don’t know
how they knew we were here, but the cost was high. Too high. Both Kath’ik and
Wellik are dead, along with dozens of our brothers and sisters. We lost the
abbot and most of the monastery. Our conference is finished. Now I must decide
our path.”

Ian steps forward, consideres for a moment and then replies, "No one of consequence."

Pressing Ian, Odos says, "I must know…"

Ian counters, "Get used to disappointment."

Odos nods, "Disappointments are to the soul what the thunder-storm is to the air. Thank you for your wise words. You have been trained with a master. How should I name you?"

Ian’s face clearly reveals the sadness he feels as he answers, "Some among us are called the Brindol Brigade and some have journeyed from as far as Mendelland. I am Ian Whitestone of Sayre, and speaking for us all, we are saddened that we were not able to be here sooner and thus perhaps save more of your fellows. Your student, Tokk’it, was able to find us and bring us here as quickly as able, and he nearly gave up his life to power a stolen githyanki ship to us on his own. Apparently Tokk’it, heard of our previous conflict with the githyanki, and sought us out hoping to find an allies. Ultimately he was successful and he explained your dire situation and we were anxious to rallying against a common foe, but more to the point we have come to find ourselves acting as defenders of all who are set upon in these troubled times in this, the Elsir Vale. We have come to give you such succor such as we are able."

Odos replies, "In enduring, we grow strong. Thank you for your assistance. Though their loss saddens us, it is but the beginning of a new journey."

Ian continues, "We do not know your customs. Do you need assistance with your dead? Did you say you are going to Sayre; what conference are you attending there? As I mentioned, I am from Sayre, perhaps I could accompany you and provide you with companionship or an extra sword-arm should you be attacked again. Also, you say you don’t know how the githyanki knew you were here? Were you in hiding?"

Answering Odos says, “We, the other githzerai leaders and myself had planned this meeting at Akma’ad to discuss whether or not to accept an invitation in Sayre to meet with a newly formed coalition of ‘humans’ from other regions of the world concerned with the extent of the githyanki invasion. As for those past, we prefer to leave nothing but the wisdom we’ve shared to mark or passing through this realm, all else we return to the source of all that is. We will gather those past, githzerai and githyanki alike and prepare them for their journey.”

“Forty-seven have survived the attack, many of whom are injured, but my presents here threatens all. Yet all travel to Sayre. The most direct route is the path that passes through the Shunned Hills, and that way will not be kind to the injured who will be carried upon carts thus we will have need to divide once more. I will travel alone on the quicker more dangerous path while the others travel around the hills through the more civilized lands. Zed and Chen will see to them safety through these lands.”

Gallia interjects, “Most Exalted one, surely you know we can not send you without guard.”

Tokk’it speaks up, “Master … allowing me to be of use, I am nothing if not a scout and I know these people now. Ian is a brave companion and while he has spoken kindly of me I have done not but my duty and my abilities pale before his own. Truthfully he is not only from Sayre but he has told me he is the son of the city’s ruler. Is this not a sign that we should be traveling with him?”

Irritated, Odos replies, “What concern is our plight to these squabbling ‘humans’ they are so divided in purpose and goal that they can not even help themselves. Our very meeting here at Akma’ad was to decide if we would attend their meeting of ‘coalition’. In truth I was against it though now I see little choice. I will need to reach out to their ‘Lords of Mendelland’ that the way might be made clear for our exit from this mortal plane.”

Turning once again Odos addresses Ian, “You appear wiser than most humans, we find ourselves indebted to you for your timely assistance and the protection your city has offered. It would be foolish of me not to accept your offer.”

“Tokk’it you can come too; he is your friend now.”

“And what of Gallia?” asks Tokk’it.

“Yes, Gallia and a handful of guards will travel with us, but the rest must accompany the infirm,” answers Odos.

Ian offers, “Most Exalted Master, my friends are hailed as heroes throughout these lands, perhaps they can ease the travels of your injured, I know of none more heroic than Brindol‘s Brigade. As for the Lords of Mendelland, both Vani and Zardoz are native sons of Mendelland. Zardoz is the son of Lord Magnus himself, and Vani is apprenticed to Ishtar the Lord of gateways and travel.”

“Very well, we accept your assistance, perhaps you can see to your own organization, though it sounds as your Vani should travel with me to negotiate the gates of this mortal realm and be certain to see to the safety of those weakened by the battle. As for any who would travel with me, know that we will be traveling quickly, and with no delay; further it is likely the githyanki will give chase,” answers Odos.

“Ah .. Right, Master Odos. And do you know by what means they have tracked you?” asks Ian again.

“The githyanki attacked without warning, and they sent strike teams to the personal chambers of all the githzerai leaders within Akma‘ad, it appeared that they knew exactly who to attack and where each was staying. Someone fed them information on the layout of Akma’ad, as well as the names of the leaders present. I was spared only because I stepped outside and heard the team of assassins in my room on my way back. I surprised the squad of three and defeated them but there were no survivors to question. One of the githyanki assassins in my room had a small device held in her hand. She was speaking into this object when I surprised her.”

Odos holds out a small reflective item, it looks like a piece of dark green glass.strange communication device


SOW Chapter9: The Fall of Akma’ad

The Fall of Akma’ad

Flying warship brings

blood flows elemental
battle for one race

The Fall of Akma’ad

“My name’s
Coggin, sirs. I was sent to find you. The guard captain asked that you report
immediately to the West Gate. One of our scouts to the south reported that
there’s some sort of a flying warship headed for the city. It’s armed, and it
would look common enough in a port, but well you have to see it, I mean its
flying. After how you’ve helped the city so much, the captain would like you on
hand in case there’s trouble. Sirs.”

Tokk’it was unliked. Maybe
he was too pessimistic
for most githzerai. Tokk’it never entirely fit in at Akma’ad. Being a loner at
heart he had trouble focusing his mind and purging it of chaotic emotions. He
seldom received the respect his skills deserved, and his peers didn’t socialize
with him. Still even if imperfect, he had integrated himself into the
community. Even Gallia, his woman had left him several months earlier, after
acknowledging the imperfection of his soul.

Now with
Akma’ad playing host to the most important political and religious leaders of
the githzerai, Tokk’it’s Abbot sent him away. Apparently they did not want him
embarrassing the monastery with his disordered thinking. As a result, Tokk’it
was on a fasting vigil outside of the fortress when the githyanki forces
swooped in to attack.

Tokk’it was
alone when he saw smoke rising in the distance. He rushed back and saw three
war galleons and at least three lancers, so he guessed that two to three
hundred troops were circling the fortress. He was confused, he knew the
fortress
already had
a defense against just this sort of siege attack, but it wasn’t triggered; he
guessed the githyanki had probably killed the githzerai troops responsible for
activating the trap.

Tokk’it followed the best strategy he could
conceive. He waited until a githyanki interceptor landed and disgorged its
troops, then he covertly snuck on board, and quickly slew the pilot. He then
stole the ship which, luckily, was powered by a soul helm, which was filled with
the psychic echoes of possessed githyanki sailors that actually manned the
sails and rudder for Tokk’it making it possible to sail the vessel with a
minimal crew–in this case a crew of one.

The githyanki were too slow to realize what was happening. The githyanki attacked
him as he raced from the scene; he had the element of surprise and the
githyanki interceptor class ship he stole was slightly faster than the
githyanki’s other war galleons and red dragon troops but they didn‘t give-up,
he was chased and attacked by githyanki lancers mounted on dragons, but he was
able to outpace them before they could destroy the vessel. However, while Tokk’it
managed to outdistance them and escape, the ship was badly damaged by the
vengeful githyanki as it fled.

He aimed the
ship toward the strongest potential ally nearby, the city of Overlook. Tokk‘it
had heard that Overlook was the home of combatants with experience fighting
githyanki.

Tokk’it pushed himself and the ship to their limits and beyond in his race to reach
Overlook. When he saw the dwarven city 10 hours later, having travel 170 miles,
it was suddenly clear that the dwarven city had been attacked recently and may
not have any troops that were willing to help. Tokk’it determined to do his
duty and try, and mustering the last of his ebbing energy he willed the ship
forward to the very walls of Overlook, collapsing as he arrived with the
thought in his head that perhaps he would finally distinguish himself with his
heroics and find his place among his people. Maybe even Gallia might return to
him.

The warship leans to one side, and it has clearly been in a fight. Its sails are ragged,
and the stern of the ship is charred from intense fire. A humanoid with
greenish skin and gray robes staggers to the rail, his hands held open, waiting
for the Overlook greeting party to approach. He speaks loudly enough from the
deck of the ship to be heard from a distance.

“My apologies for the method of my arrival. My name is Tokk’it; and, I come asking for help. At
this moment, my people are under attack by githyanki. I have heard that there
are those in this city of Overlook who are familiar with the githyanki. I seek
to stop the githyanki before they breach our fortress and exterminate my
brethren. Please, can you tell me where to find those of your people who know
of this danger, and if they can help me? Please.”

Together, Vani, Ian, Bhenedict, Bairdyn, Zardoz and Shaden’s brother, Jerid, approach the ship.

Vani calls out, “That would be us … well at least some of us. I was there, and (pointing out others in his
party) Ian, Bairdyn and Bhenedict were there too.”

Looking doubtful, the githzerai’s manner become stiff and formal as he replies, “Those who defended this city? The Overlook, from General Zithiruun.”

Tokk’it looks out suspiciously, finding it hard to believe that so few could have made such an
impact.

Answering Vani say, “Oh, was that his name, the general ‘Sithiruun’.”

Zardoz corrects Vani, “Zithiruun.”

“Zithiruun …” repeats the halfling sorcerer, “Yes, I defeated him, but it was a pretty good fight.”

Exhausted and relieved, Tokk’it welcomes the outsiders aboard the Sacrifice where Ian joins the weary githzerai
at the helm of the vessel.

Blood Ritual

“This githyanki attack could not have come at a worse time. Most of the githzerai at Akma’ad right now are
visitors. Our abbot is hosting a meeting of extremely important religious and
political leaders. Kath’ik from the Monastery of Nine Stones, Most Exalted Odos
from the House of Reprisal, Wellik the Elder from the Tower of Dancing Flame
… All leaders that my people look up to. I think they are deciding who will
lead us in the upcoming war, and how involved we will be in aiding your world.”

The githzerai introduces Ian
to the controls of the vessel leading the bard into the sterncastle where the
helm and pilot were somewhat protected.

“This is the bridge, here
within this circle,” Tokk’it points out a runic circle on the floor in front
of a large wooden wheel. “so tasks handled by normal sailors are instead
accomplished by the psychic echoes of possessed githyanki sailors. They have no
personality or ability to attack; they manifest themselves as translucent
shimmers as they do sailing-related work as ordered. It can be disconcerting on
the deck, the soul helm whispers in psychic screams. The ghostly crew will
ceases functioning if this circle is destroyed or abandoned.”

Then pointing out a very sharp
silver knife hanging on the wheel’s post, Tokk’it says, “You will become one
with the ship. You must cut open the palms of your hands, take the wheel and
repeat …”

Ian slices his hands and
takes the wheel repeating,

Blood of the ship, Captain of the crew
Blood of the ship, Captain of the crew

All at once Ian’s senses
expand well beyond his body, expanding outward from the ship seeing and sensing
the miles beyond. All at once the ship shudders and as Ian straightens his back
the ship rises into the air.

“What’s our heading?” asks
Ian.

“Northwest towards the
Wyrmsmoke Mountains,” answers Tokk’it.

Responding to the bards
silent command the psychic echoes swing the sails and the ship turns in a slow
arcing curve taking it over the walls of Overlook amid a chorus of ‘Ohs and
Ahhs’ from the guards assembled upon the walls as the ship changes course to
match Ian’s will.

The Flight

Tokk’it spends his time talking about githyanki and githzerai as he stays in
the bridge with Ian. He explains that he does not have much influence within
the monastery and that he hopes that his actions today have some impact on his
status. He also discusses his affection for a githzerai female named Gallia,
whom he hopes is still alive despite the fact that she dissolved their
relationship several months ago. To Ian, it’s clear that Tokk’it is still in
love with Gallia, and its equally clear he hadn’t come to terms with why she
left him which he believed was his lack of integration into the monastery’s
routine. Regardless, Ian was too distracted to pay much attention to the
githzerai’s ramblings as the ship rose above the clouds.

Less than an
hour into the flight, as Ian pilots the damaged ship sailing through wispy
clouds. Suddenly, he sees movement ahead. Two red shapes fly out of a cloud,
changing direction and speeding up as they move in the ship’s direction, two
red dragons, each with a rider strapped on its back.

The battle is fast and
furious. Bairdyn and Bhenedict fire a wild shot using one of the ship’s
ballista as one of the dragons breathes fire setting the ship aflame but it is
Vani and Jerid who do the most damage blasting the dragons with enough arcane
power that they land on the burning ship where Zardoz and Bhenedict joining
pinning the dragons down long enough for Bairdyn to take advantage. From there
the fight is over in moments. Witnessing the heroes in action Tokk’it takes
heart and begins to believe he has found just the warriors the githzerai need.

After the dragon-riders fall
the fires are quickly extinguished with sand bags, and they proceed on their
way. As they travel the ship siphons energy from Ian’s body. Being all too
familiar with the price of piloting the Sacrifice Tokk’it stays with Ian keeping
him company with idle chatter.

“Akma’ad
currently houses close to 100 githzerai trained to fight, as well as several
dozen others. The fortress is built into a cliff and has a prepared landslide
arranged above it, set to crush any foes that stand before the citadel. I would
help you fight if I could, I am not without ability but both you and I will be
a liability, the ship weighs heavy upon the pilot … I know. We should tell the
others, the fortress is built into a cliff and has a prepared landslide arranged
above it, set to crush any foes that stand before the citadel. It should have
been triggered but it had not been so when I left.”

The Fortress

Exactly 12 hours, and
twenty-eight minutes after they left Ian spots smoke on the horizon as the sun
sets behind the mountains. Under Tokk’it’s guidance Ian raises the Sacrifice
above the clouds so he can approach the fortress covertly from the west with
the sun setting behind them while targeting the overhang Tokk’it had described.
Tokk’it hollers out an alert and the party prepares for battle.

Looking about Bhenedict
notices the make-shift white flag hung by Tokk’it when he approached Overlook.
Bhenedict yells, “Strike the colors!”

“Right!” good thinking
answers Vani as he rushes to raise the githyanki flag.

Akma’ad is a little-used
githzerai fortress and monastery located 170 miles to the northwest of
Overlook. Despite having room for over four hundred people, normally only forty
to fifty githzerai monks and pilgrims dwell at the fortress to train and purify
themselves. Over the last week things were different, the site was playing host
to a gathering of important githzerai leaders from across the planes intending
to travel to the city of Sayre for a council on the conflicts besieging the
area.

Overlook’s recent woes have not escaped notice outside Elsir
Vale, the githzerai leaders were deciding the role of githzerai in the upcoming
conflict. They know that the githyanki are on the warpath, but they had not yet
determined why. The githzerai’s monastic leaders disagreed as to the best path
to take. Acting in accordance with tradition, the githzerai leaders had come to
the heart of the burgeoning war to discuss the extent to which they would
become involved. Akma’ad was their choice for a neutral and secure meeting
place, like all of their bases it was well hidden and this specific
fortification was especially isolated, with thick wall and strong defenses, but
somehow the githyanki had uncovered their plan. They had found out the
important meeting was occurring. The githyanki surreptitiously approached the
fortress, scouted the area without being detected, assassinated several of the
githzerai leaders, and they had launched a full-scale attack with enough force
to overpower the githzerai. The fighting had been ongoing for over 24 unbroken
hours. The githzerai were desperately defending their fortress, but it seemed
inevitable that the fortress would fall.

As Ian sets the Sacrifice
into a dive they pass over fields and woods that give way to a reddish rocky waste as they approach the githzerai
fortress. They see signs of the battle; fire and smoke rising from the site
like a dark pillar. Given their approach they can’t see the fortress at all due
to a natural over-hanging mountain cave that makes the fortress so extremely
defensible but they can see githyanki just outside the fortress in military
formation, launching an attack and working towards a final assault. The news is
not entirely bad, but there at the entrance of the cave a githyanki ship lies
crashed and burning half inside the cave and half out, apparently brought down
by githzerai attacks and dead litter the battlefield—far more githyanki than
githzerai. A third ship hovers low over the ground at the entrance of the cave,
ropes hanging from it side, its deck clear but on its forecastle the ship’s
captain points them out and immediate begins alerting her mate.

More pressing than their
ship, it’s clear that githyanki are in control on top of the cliff. Two squat
guard towers perch there on top of the steep cliff. Chains are stretched
between the towers holding back what must be hundreds of tons of rock and
rubble. They spy a dead githzerai lying on one of the towers, and several
githyanki guarding the towers.

Ian flies low almost scraping
the Sacrifice’s hull on the west tower forcing the githyanki on the tower to
scramble for safety. Vani leaps over the side with Bairdyn just as psychic
githyanki archers attack very effectively from the east tower, charging their
weapons with psychic energy. When their weapons hit Zardoz and Vani they reel
backwards stunned, their minds exploding … leaving them unable to focus enough
to react. Other githyanki maneuver into better positions as the Sacrifice
glides silently over the east tower on a collision course with the githyanki
ship ‘Conqueror’ but before the Sacrifice can clear the second tower a huge red
dragon rises from the cave below with its rider raising a lance high in a
certain display of challenge.

The draconic champion charges
sweeping the deck of the Sacrifice until the dragon-knight hangs low targeting
Bhenedict who reaches up yanking the knight off the dragon. The dragon follows
and flips wing-over-wing spinning back towards the dwarf and flooding the deck
with a goat of flame. Bhenedict weathers the blast protected by the magic of
his armor and his primordial ring while shouting out a challenge of his own, “You’ll
have to do better than that, come ov’r here and slam yer head into my hammer,
while I paddle ye rider whiny little beeehind !”

From the sterncastle, Jerid
targets both the rider and the dragon with withering arcane blasts of such
force and heat that the rider’s weapon’s glow as the rider falls onto the lower
deck … the dragon is blast backward away from the ship. Then Bhenedict is upon the
rider like his worst nightmare. The battle is over before in begins.

Down below Bairdyn is forced
to defend Vani as githyanki warriors rush in to attack the compromised
sorcerer. The halfling does his best in a failing effort as a githyanki
mind-lasher catches both halflings in a mind-crushing assault opening their
minds to further attacks. Suddenly Vani teleports to the ground leaving Bairdyn
alone on the west tower. Howling in pain and perhaps a bit of worry he calls
out, “BENNNNIE!” loud enough that that the dwarf hears him even amid the chaos
on the deck and he runs … no he races to the side of the Sacrifice. Benedict
hesitates long enough for one quick glance over the deck of the ship and then
falls back over the edge.

The Sacrifice glides forward
picking up speed and stabs through the hull of the Conqueror as the captain is
still trying to re-crew the ship, githyanki knocked from ropes and deck glide
to the ground to the ground or float through the air to land upon the deck of
the Conqueror even as their captain is thrown overboard.

At the top of the cliff, Vani
is again flanked by two warriors. Others rush the stairs of the west tower
running towards Bairdyn but Bennie beats them to the roof of the tower and
together the two friends defeat the githyanki attacking Bairdyn there. Vani is
staggered by a single blow before he teleports again bending space to appear
alone between the two towers.

Ian raises the Sacrifice and
then coming down with crushing force he pushes the full weight of his vessel
into the Conqueror. Recovered Zardoz fires lightning and thunder at the
circling dragon keeping the monster at bay.

Bhenedict pushes down the
stairs into the west tower to cut off the remaining githyanki, in the tower he
spots an ominous looking lever and yelling up to Bairdyn he says, “Tell Vani to
check the other tower for a lever.”

Bairdyn relays the message
and Vani blasts the githyanki on the east tower right off the roof of the tower
while running to close the distance between himself and the tower.

The combined weight of the
two ships is far too much for the unpiloted Conqueror to withstand, both hit
the ground hard and the Conqueror’s deck explodes as the ship’s psychic helm is
crushed. Both ships are enveloped in flames. On the cliff above the two
halflings, Bairdyn in the west tower and Vani in the east pull the levers.

With a tremendous, deafening
roar, a cascade of rock—from pebbles the size of a pea to boulders the size of
a mule—tumble down onto the githyanki army massed outside the walls of Akma’ad.
At first, all that can be seen is a blinding cloud of dust, but as the wind
clears it from the field, it reveals that hundreds of githyanki troops have
been pulverized by the rock, and the rest are scattered or fleeing outright.