Monthly Archives: November 2012

SOW Chapter12: Iliyorus Flight

Iliyorus Flight



Iliyoru’s
Flight


As the Captain and the githzerai elder statesman move to board the smaller
armored vessel Iliyoru, the monk Chen, now healed, but still dressed in his torn
and bloodied garments, carries Finellior, alive but unconscious in his arms
pauses saying,



 



“We cannot a-row Fin’s heroism to read to his downfall. I rill see to his
return.”



“This drow and I cannot hope to take the Admiral alone!”

exclaims the Captain.



With a glare to kill, Odos stares down the Captain and says,
“With truly invincible determination one can accomplish anything; in
this lays the distinction between
great and the small-minded … Do you dare to doubt me?”



Then unexpectedly a voice speaks directly in the Captain’s mind breaking the
tension, the voice of Bingus …




“You will not be alone; others are coming … Give chase!”


Back in the makeshift camp located in the cold air outside of the Fane of the
Chanhiir, within the Crooked Spine mountains, within the fortification called
Thiradith, and within and beyond the Well of the Worlds itself a frantic search
had continued for any available heroes as the fate of all Klarn dangled
precariously in the balance. Within Thiradith’s tavern, the Slaughtered Lamb,
Bairdyn had finally caught-up with his lost buddy Bhenedict Stormcastle. The two
friends had been long been separated by the war. It had been over a year since
they had parted company. Bhenedict had left for Nefelus right after the birth of
the coalition in Sayre. That adventure had, in-turn led Bhenedict to his
long-lost uncle Thorin Stormcastle and the extended pursuit of the evil dragon
Chillreaver who had escaped Bhenedict at the iceberg called Icehome, a name that
had been a particular affront to Bhenedict given it was the name of one of the
three dwarven kingdoms. Bairdyn on the other hand had led a group of heroes back
through the portal known as Summer’s End … nearly at the expense of his own
life. The hobbit was well-aware he wasn’t half the fighter alone as he was when
his friend Benny was with him, but against his better judgment undertook the
mission at Ssarina’s request, but he had never been able to get his grandpa’s
words out of his head, “A true friend, is like your health Sonny, you almost
never think about it til it’s lost.”



“Benny! Where’ve you been?! … I’ve been looking all over for you and I’m not the
only one, everyone is looking for you. They are going to need us before this is
over.”



“Of course they do. Why do you think this war hasn’t been won yet? When some
wild-eyed, eight-foot-tall maniac grabs your neck, taps the back of your
favorite head up against the barroom wall, people always start asking where the
dwarf and his little buddy are? … At least they do if they know what’s good for
them.”



“So where are we going this time?”



“I don’t know, but I do know we may have to fly there.”



“Do I look like I’m built for flying?” Raising his arms Bhenedict adds, “See any
wings?”



“Bingus says he will lend me his fly.”



“How do you know that he going to give you the real one? Of course we both know
Bingus never plays tricks on anyone. And even if it is real, do you know how to
work it? Just because it can lift a gnome or halfling doesn’t mean it can carry my
heavy arse, and certainly not the both of us together. Nope, I think I’ll just
stay here and enjoy this mead, it warms the tummy.”


Sitting in a dark corner of the bar a lone figure overhears their conversation.
Jerid rises and approaches his former allies.



“I had hoped to find Shaden, but instead fortune has crossed our paths yet
again. Since our venture in Overlook my powers have grown both in scope and
control. I could use them now to carry you through the air now if you would have
me. My desire for battle has yet to be quenched, I feel its burn now … Let us go
see that it is not wasted.”


Bhenedict frowns, “What are you yapping
about?”



“My travels led me to the Feywild, where I sought out the Master of the Wild
Hunt in hoping to find my brother.  Instead
I bargained with a giant named Pyradan, who claimed to command the fury of hunt,
and he was more than pleased to grant me power over the flying mounts of the
hunt that I might continue to pursue my brother. Whence I found Shaden within
Cachlain’s fomorian’s court Pyradan did himself attack my brother. In his anger,
Shaden dismissed me from his presence calling me a traitor to the family and an
enemy to the King. He declined my offer of aid, and had me expelled from the
court. There is no doubt if he yet lives; he is the King’s man now. And so I
returned to this war and I have been sating myself fighting the githyanki ever
since, and I still I control the flying mounts of the hunt. They could carry us
into battle now.”


______________________________________________________________________________



Vani,
Bingus and Bilgamesh:


Having been summoned to Bingus’s side within the Well of the Worlds, Vani
approaches the gnome with a look of constraint clouding his expression as he
responds the gnome’s request. At Bingus side the haughty elven warrior Bilgamesh
stands


pensively at guard. Quite unlike the gnome’s usual pattern, he quickly comes to
the crux of the matter asking Vani to undertake a rescue mission, Vani responds:
 



“I really shouldn’t go, I promised the Missus.”



“Then you wouldn’t mind if we borrow your Manti-core?”


asks Bingus



“What do you mean borrow!?”


responds the halfling, with a worried countenance.



“Well it’s not like we have an abundance of warriors especially those with
flying mounts available, and the others we’ve sent need help, and they need it
now … they cannot stand alone. Several members of our team of already fallen,
Jeroen, Finellior, and West Corrin leaving just Captain Birkeni, Rikar and Odos,
but now Odos has to fly the ship and Chen is leaving …”



“Wait, wait … wait … You say there is




another flying ship
?
Well if it one thing I know about it is flying ships. I guess I really can’t say
no if they really need me. I guess there’s really no choice in the matter … it’s
settled, you can count me in,”


concludes Vani. “But you have to tell
Minerva that I’ve been drafted.”


Listening to the exchange,
Bilgamesh raises one eyebrow and interjects,
“I would go too, Rikar is my friend
… I can acquire a flying mount of my own.”

Within
minutes the heroes are gathered in the bivouac of the Well of Worlds, in three
teams: Jerid, Bairdyn and Bhenedict; Vani and the manticore; and Bilgamesh shows
up with a huge great owl.


Addressing the elf, Bingus says, “That
looks like the Queen’s owl.”



“It is Trellara’s companion, she is not a queen, nor does


Beriohtarion belong to anyone, he goes where he will.”



“Well, Bear-ee-oh-tahr-ee-on welcome to our camaraderie. We do have need of your
strength … the world needs us all now.”


The manticore speaks in his deep gravelly voice, causing the chamber to shudder
with the power of it, “If this place we
are going warmer than the mountains I would be more than happy to fly. I’ve
acquired an eclectic pallet traveling with the hobbit.”


In answer Bingus nods, and turns his attention to Jerid, Bairdyn, and Bhenedict,
Bingus saying, “I can lend Bairdyn my
ebony fly, but it cannot carry all of you and flight is a must on this mission.”


Bairdyn answers, “I would like the fly
as a back-up, but Jerid here says he can supply mounts.”


Jerid’s eyes flame, as he pinches them tight in concentration.
“In my travels within the Fey Wild I
came across a firbolg name Pyradan, he offered me power to summon forth flying
mounts if I would only lead him to my brother Shaden. As I was already searching
for my brother and anxious to find him myself, in my haste I agreed.” 
 


Pale white light falls upon Jerid, his burning eyes glaze turning white matching
the glow. A manifestation of hunger and power growing in his bosom, he reaches
skyward, to the invisible hunter standing in the air above … and with a sudden
scream of wrath, beasts rip through the fabric of reality, bursting into the
Well in answer to Jerid’s summons: a fiery horse for Jerid, a thunderous boar
for Bhenedict, and a sturdy hound for the halfling.



“Only after we arrived in Cachlain’s Court did I realize Pyradan had come to
slay my brother, but that is a story for another time.”


One after another, each group of heroes is dispatched by the hard working
gnome: Vani is sent first, his mount the manticore being the slowest, the
halfling sorcerer is sent in first and closest to the


Iliyoru; Bilgamesh and the owl are sent to the next closest landing in the
second grouping; and finally Jerid, Bhenedict and Bairdyn are sent in at the
far side of the githyanki shipyard known as Garaitha’s Anvil, their mounts
from the supernatural horde called ‘The Wild Hunt’ were the fastest, most
relentless mounts present. 



As Vani and Manti, the manticore arrive witnesses to the chaos below. The
shipyard curves up on all sides impossibly encapsulating the battle on all
sides. Everywhere there are clashes between the vastly outnumbered ‘Hundred’,
the heroes of Klarn, and the githyanki and their host of slaves. The battle was
raging across both grounds and throughout the air, in dozens of facilities not
unlike the one being attacked by the Brigades heroes now; as he rising into the
air, Vani’s focus shifts to the battles taking place there. Above him in the
center of the sky above, Vani sees the vast astral gate, the hub about which the
entire structure of the shipyard was built around and in the sky


surrounding the gate, griffin-riders fought against shrieking pale reptilian
fliers, and immediately between Vani and the rising ships that were his target a
githyanki knight rose from the ruin below riding upon a red dragon. They took a
position hovering between Vani and his allies on the strike ship Iliyoru.


Manti
twists in the air violently seeking to avoid the dragon’s charge, only to find
the dragon’s pursuit cut short by Bilgamesh and the great owl Beriohtarion. They
enter the fray in a dive ripping into the dragon’s side and straightaway it
gives chase. It is readily evident that the owl lacked the speed necessary to
escape, but it is equally evident that the strike vessel Iliyoru commandeered by
Odos and the others was in trouble too and the strike ship was rising faster
than the manticore would be able to keep up. The Iliyoru was surrounded by a
dozen or more of the white-winged reptiles favored by these githyanki. Making a
quick decision Vani tells Manti, “Stay
on ships, we can’t let them get away!”


Aboard the Iliyoru the mood is desperate; the Cev’ren was pulling away as the
smaller ship was buffeted by the attacks of the white reptiles and their riders.
The large pale lizards had already proven to be dangerous and clever beasts as
they had swarmed the ship and used the power of their nearly 30 foot wingspan to
dive beneath the Iliyoru attacking the hull from below with the heavy hammering
blows of their tails, while staying out of range of most attacks. Each whitewing
carried a single rider, and they seemed to respond to both the rider’s reins and
voiced commands equally. Captain Birkeni struggled to target any one of the
beasts with the ships complement of force

ballista but each time he got close the beast released a
horrendous shriek which stunned and disoriented him. The ship was already coming
apart at the seams. Odos puzzled at the workings of the vessel suddenly gaining
purchase of an idea, suddenly he causes the vessel to pitch and spin on its
axis. Instinctually the Captain grabs the rail as the ship begins to spin, as up
becomes down and suddenly the attackers spun relative to the Captain rising
above him. Firing he spears one of the riders who slumps dead in his saddle.
Surprised the Captain finds his footing is secure as ever as he discovers his
gravity to focused on the ship and not the ground below. He renews his attack.


Fire and lightning bursts in thunderous explosions around the Iliyoru as Vani
initiates his own attack. Several riders and their mounts begin falling from the
sky trailing smoke in the aftermath of the sorcerer’s assault; others continue
their attack upon the Iliyoru, and none of the monster retreat save those
lacking rider, they fly off aimlessly abandoning the pursuit of the Iliyoru.


In full retreat, Bilgamesh and Beriohtarion find themselves awash in flames,
they maneuver to escape, but the dragon is too fast and too agile in the air.
The githyanki knight spears one of the owl’s wings with a great lance.
Beriohtarion buckles struggling to stay aloft but fails to shake the lance and
begins an uncontrolled descent in death spiral. The chaos of the attack
dislodges Bilgamesh, who spreads arm and legs wide gaining a sense of balance,
and then relying on his natural empathy with beasts Bilgamesh calls out to a
nearby whitewings who had lost a rider during Vani’s attack. The creature
vanishes and the elf hopes briefly wane, but the beast immediate reappears
beneath Bilgamesh plucking him from the sky. Remounted Bilgamesh continues his
pursuit.


Avoiding
the conflicts below and led by Bhenedict, the final three heroes and their Wild
Hunt mounts rise above the crippled Iliyoru chasing the Cev’ren directly. Given
the speed of their mounts the Cev’ren can’t outrun them. Aboard the Cev’ren,
githyanki Admiral Kada’ne orders a volley of fire from the Cev’ren’s own force
ballista but the counterattack comes too late, and Bhenedict bowls through the
githyanki defenders, knocking them about like tenpins, in a mad race for the
Admiral himself; the dwarf charges directly to the stern castle ending his
charge by abandoning his mount and hurling directly into the githyanki knocking
him off his raised command deck. The Admiral falls to the main deck below. The
Cev’ren pitches and slows as he falls. In the stern castle above the dwarf
shouts triumphantly swinging his hammer in a great circle threatening any who
would dare approach. As the Admiral land hard on the deck below, Bairdyn also
dismounts landing upon the Admiral before he can recover
ahead of any
of the ship’s defenders. Using his smaller size and deft experience to dodge the
rallying defenders Bairdyn finds a home for his blade in the Admiral side. The
githyanki admiral slashes back viciously, but unlike West Corrin before, Bairdyn
gracefully avoids the attack while sinking a second blade in the meaty part of
the Admiral’s thigh. Jerid slows to hover, masking his presence magically from
the ship’s defenders … to them he is invisible, and hovering there upon his
mount off the bow of the ship he creates a vision of avarice, an illusionary war
of irresistible treasure within the centered crow castle of the Cev’ren … All
about the ship the false treasure pulls at the hearts of her defenders creating
a burning desire within the defender’s heart’s a desire to possess that which
didn’t really exist. His trap set many of the defending begin to answer the
spell’s siren call, but none them more fearsome or dangerous than the red
dragon.


The ship shutters as suddenly Iliyoru’s grapples take hold pulling the two ships
together in a deadly embrace. Rikar leaps across the divide and begins fighting
the surviving crew initially finding none who were his equal, his flaming axes
swing in deadly arcs severing a pair of heads from their bodies. Then the dragon
appears sailing through the air at breakneck speed grasping and hurling the drow
from the deck. Captain rushes to edge of the Iliyoru thankful to see the drow
clinging to one of the trailing lines, but then the dragon is upon him. The
Captain ducks below one grasping claw as the dragon slows above him buffeting
the Captain with the down thrust of his powerful wings, the dragon seeking an
opportunity to bite the half-elf, but Birkeni strikes first grabbing the
knight’s lance and using the dragon own momentum to throw the githyanki from his
mount. The githyanki knight lands on his feet drawing his wicked silver sword in
the same movement and counter-thrusting it at the Captain’s heart forcing an
unbalanced withdrawal as Birkeni dodged the blade, backing into the ship’s
rails. The githyanki kicks outward with an armor foot connecting high upon the
Captain’s chest knocking him over the rail. Birkeni joins Rikar hanging from the
lines below.  




As the ship’s momentum carries the dragon past the spinning ship, Vani causes
one great block of ice to appear in front of the dragon and a second to appear
above the flying monster. The dragon crashes with a thud in to the first block
shattering it with the force of the collision even as the second huge block of
ice falls upon it from above; the small iceberg falling like the largest
hailstone ever seen. The dragon tries to recover as Bilgamesh hits the wyrm with
a carefully aimed arrow that sinks deep in the joint of the creature left wing
causing the monster to spin out of control causing it to smashes into the hull
of the Cev’ren and shrieks out its rage, fire bellowing from its jaws as it
fights uselessly to recover and it tumbles toward the ground below. Vani and the
manticore give chase close fast upon its tail.


Responding
to the pull of Jerid’s continuing spell, Admiral Kada’ne ignores his immediate
danger, and turns away from Bairdyn beginning to rise through the air towards
the ship’s center castle giving the halfling a clean shot at his back and making
himself an easy target for the elf Bilgamesh. They allies strike together
wounding the Admiral severely. Arriving at the center castle the Admiral finds
nothing but burning pain for his efforts as Jerid’s spell begins to take its
full effect. As Kada’ne begins to shake the spell, the heroes begin to close in,
Bhenedict abandons the stern castle to Bilgamesh saying,
“Being as I am the new Captain of this flying rat-trap, heed my words and guard
this wheel-house with yer life while I take me hammer yonder to beat the
stuffing out of that weasel-hearted soul-sucking, gith-yank-me admiral!”


Both the dwarf and the halfling climb into the center, crow’s castle of the
Cev’ren on opposite sides of the Admiral flanking him while Bilgamesh continues
peppering him with arrows. On the main deck below, Rikar and Captain Birkeni
climb aboard, and begin taking the fight to the surviving crew preventing any
access to the Admiral above. Together the heroes are irresistible, the githyanki
admiral fights back failing in multiple strikes as he tries to pierce
Bhenedict’s armor, and preoccupied with the dwarf, he leaves openings for the
halfling’s fast, sharp, deadly strikes. It is an all-out attack and a
tour-de-force for the heroes. Everywhere githyanki fall, to arrows, axes, blades
and the dwarf’s hammer. Soon the battle is over, the Admiral lies dead, the crew
of the Cev’ren with him.   


On the Admiral’s fallen body, Bairdyn finds and recovers the crystal key
described by Haryssus and Bingus. Seeing that the ships are being dragged
inexorably towards the astral gate, Odos quickly jettisons the grappling cables
as soon as all of the heroes are back upon the Iliyoru. The damaged strike ship
responds to his command pulling away from the crippled and burning flagship. The
pressure of the astral gate is severe, and the strike ship bucks as the
githzerai sets course for the ground. Behind the Iliyoru, still caught up in the
white storm, the Cev’ren quickly vanishes, trailing cables and shattered rigging
as it disappears burning into the maelstrom.


Circling toward the ground below, the heroes of Brigade see that the forces of
Garaitha’s Anvil have been routed—the heroes of Klarn, the Hundred stand
victorious. The bodies of githyanki and giants are spread across the shipyard
numbering in the hundreds, as are the throngs of prisoners being held under
tight watch by the Freeriders and the others, with Mendel’s Griffon-riders still
circling above. The damaged Iliyoru lands noisily in an open space as close to
the dock where it was originally moored as all eyes fall upon these heroes as
they disembark. And as one, the heroes of ‘the Hundred’ salute, five-score
weapons raised to the white sky as a shout of triumph echoing off the gray
stones of Garaitha’s Anvil.


The casualties on the Coalition’s side are thankfully few. While the heroes bask
in the well-deserved glow of victory, the surviving githyanki are held within
the docks while arrangements are made for them to be moved; having scried the
battle, Bejam and Amyria arrive by portal to take possession of Kada’ne’s
crystal. Bejam then returns to the Well of Worlds, where he and Haryssus use the
key to bring the site under full Coalition control.