Monthly Archives: April 2014

SOW Chapter16: The Legacy of Io – Conclusion

The Legacy of Io – Conclusion

 



“Few things are as iconic, or as terrifying, as finding a hoard of treasure only
to be met with a fearsome nightmare;



Covered in scales, wings unfurled, and with breath as lethal as a natural
disaster;



However, and to be sure, despite their magnificent power, the dragons of this
current era are but pale imitations of the true dragons … The first dragons!



It is said that Io was the progenitor of the twin dragon gods Tiamat and
Bahamut, and that through them the world’s modern dragons arose,



But then you must keep in mind dragons are mysterious beings, able to mix and
blend with mortal society with ease.



As such, a little bit of draconic blood, yes even the blood of the Io, might be
mingling, hiding within even you simply waiting for the chance to burst out!



Oh, the divine splendor of it all, waiting to spring back to life, and show the
material world what a real dragon can do.”



 


 



Storm’s Fury



 



W
ith
each broken seal the storm that rages perpetually over the district known as the
Salts grows more intense. The breaking of the third seal is heralded by
shrieking winds and roaring thunder. The uninhabited islands nearest the
epicenter of the storm are raked with lightning as the storm’s fury reaches
heights never before seen within Hestavar and the waters of the lagoon begin to
flow inward toward the eye of the storm fueling an ever growing waterspout
already of gargantuan proportions. It is in the eye of the storm, a place that
no immortal dares tread, and is there that the final seal waited, bound into an
all but forgotten terror from the war at creation’s beginning: Nakheten, the
raging storm, a powerful storm titan, the former lieutenant of the primordial
Heur-Ket, but the eons of captivity had not been kind to the storm titan, now
while only a shadow of his former self, he had woken from long slumber, a
terrible force of insane rage and hatred, mirrored in the growing storm. Within
a cage forged of deific magic, Nakheten had been wakened; as his rage had
swelled it gave rise to the storm above, his roars lost in the thunder. The
waters of the lagoon rose into a frothing wall of destruction as he bid to free
himself hoping to resume his master’s work.



 


Back at the ruins of the Dawnbell as the visitors from Klarn begin to traverse
the darkening skies of Hestavar. Everywhere the inhabitants of the Bright City
flee before them; they are greeted as bringers of doom, doors slam shut, and the
sky empties in front of them clearing a path to the inn where Bilgamesh had
concealed Amyria. The inn named the Garden of Geras lied buried within
Hestavar’s complicated network of isles and earthmotes, waterward of the
Dawnbell, towards the storm and past the City’s more ostentatious districts. The
Inn took its name from the Olympian legend of Geras, whereby the more gēras
(age) a man acquired, the more kleos (fame) and arete (excellence and courage)
he was considered to have. Regardless, Geras was depicted as a tiny shriveled-up
old man, an apt enough description of the inn.


 


They arrive at the inn without interruption, but upon their arrival they find
only the librarian, Yu Gnuf waiting, and they find him asleep, and there is no
sign of Amyria. Yu Gnuf wakes with a start, bewildered:


 



“Pardon me, I must have dosed off.”  


 


Ssarina shouts,


“Where is Amyria?!”


 



“Oh dear, she must of wandered off somewhere.”


 



“She was in no condition to go anywhere, you’re not making any sense!”

declares Bilgamesh nervously fingering an arrow as he unconsciously brings his
bow forward.


 



“You are quite right about that, the last I remember she was sleeping … And she
couldn’t be wakened, she was fitful, as if she was being tormented by another
nightmare. I must have … Ah … tried to quiet her. That’s all I remember …
Strange, hmm … Do you know how I got here, weren’t we somewhere else?”



 


Yu Gnuf’s comments trigger a search of the Garden of Geras. The inn’s staff is
to the person, notably intimidated by the party, who as mentions were now all
seen as harbingers of the doom that had seemingly fallen upon Hestavar. Amid the
innkeeper’s fearful gnashing of teeth, a narrative develops wherein Bilgamesh,
Ssarina and Amyria had secured the room, and then later, Bilgamesh had returned
alone, and then left with Ssarina, but no one working at the inn had ever seen
either Yu Gnuf at all, or Amyria since she first arrived, and at present, she
was nowhere to be found. Try as they might, the group is unable to solve the
mystery of the deva’s disappearance and after an hour’s search, given the
absence of any progress, they decide to rest and gather themselves in
preparation for the final push to break the fourth seal, all the while, Ssarina
and Bilgamesh take turns staring at Yu Gnuf with unmasked suspicion.


 






 



Several hours later, with their preparation complete, they gather and depart
from the inn targeting the massive tornado of water that had formed. It had
grown to an intense columnar vortex in the lowest region of Hestavar, both
titanic and menacing.


 


The
churning waters of the lagoon roar as its wave’s rise reforming themselves into
a wall of crushing, swirling water that climbs high into the sky sending an
avalanche of spray blasting outward at its pinnacle. As the travelers approach
within their astral skiff they find themselves trapped and buffeted by winds the
draw them in to the storm. Gripped by the storm’s irresistible power, Hagrid
struggles in vain with the vessel’s rudder, trying to hold a steady course
against the winds; despite his best efforts there is no way to change course
against the pull of the vortex. Winds hurling the small ship recklessly, its
passengers shaken like rag dolls one-by-one lose their grip and separate falling
away from the vessel, all save the goliath who clings for dear life, and manages
to ride the skiff right through the wall of water crashing down into an area of
the lagoon bed that is impossibly devoid of water. Around Hagrid a thundering
wall of water rotates around the dry bed of the lagoon, a manifestation of the
insane rage of the storm. Other members of his party begin to rain down, as the
warden takes note of the titanic creature roaring in concert with the storm;
within the vortex its rumbling bellows drowning out even the storm’s thunder.
Its form seems roughly hewn from shale; brilliant, crackling orange-white lights
shine forth from the cracks and joints in its body issuing as raw power and
rampant energy. It turns to regard the arrivals they feel an unending, ageless
rage burning deeply in the monster. It appraising them with wincey eye-like
ceases upon its head, and then unleashing a thundering howl from its blazing,
orange-white furnace of a mouth seemingly directing a question at Yu Gnuf it
asks:



 



“Miska is that you? It doesn’t look like you, but it smells like you. You’ve the
taint of the Rod upon you!



Is it time?



 



“Has the Queen wakened from her slumber?”



 



 


As the titan queries him Yu Gnuf spies the final seal, a flat disk of dull metal
inscribed with the combined symbols of Erathis, Ioun, and Pelor, buried deep
into the rocky flesh of the titan’s chest even as he struggles to grasp the
meaning behind the titan’s question. Finellior is quicker though, and silently
he recalls the legend of Miska, the wolf-spider:



 



T
he
bard recalls a legend about the earliest days of creation, in the Age before
Ages, when a obyrith demon lord called ‘The Queen of Chaos’ was said to have
launched a war against the forces of Law. By brute force and threats of death
and punishment, she rallied her fellow obyriths into a united front. To gain
cooperation from the then-servitor race the tanar’ri (now called demons), the
Queen took as her lover and general a beast called ‘Miska the Wolf-Spider’. The
Queen is said to have gone as far as murdering the then-Prince of Demons
Obox-ob, so that she could bestow that title to her new consort.



 



Under Miska’s command, the forces of Chaos were triumphant, taking over realm
after realm, driving back the forces of Law, which were led by the Vaati, or the
Wind Dukes until the Wind Dukes eventually fashioned an artifact to use against
Miska known as the Rod of Law. On the battlefield of Pesh on the world of Oerth,
the Wind Dukes defeated Miska, imprisoning him in Pandemonium and shattering the
Rod into seven parts, effectively bringing the war to a stalemate. Of the Queen,
to this day, no one knows, though legends of Oerth persist, stating that she
searched for a way to free Miska to finish the war.



 


Still what this had to do with Yu Gnuf is a mystery to the bard, who had more
urgent concerns as across the small battlefield his allies began launching
attacks upon the titan. Fin calls out to them asking for calm and reason, but
they ignore his pleas as the titanic battle begins. Rikar is the first to race
to the titan’s side, standing no taller than the monster’s ankle he strikes
viciously with Kas’s blade in an attack that goes all but unacknowledged by
Nakheten. Quickly he is joined by Bilgamesh, Vani and Ssarina and finally the
titan responds with fury, thrashing out at all his attackers as we wanders to
the center of the battlefield. Waves of thunder and lightning cascade upon
Nakheten’s attackers as the titan swings about with his massive fists knocking
those closest to him aside while at the same time calling down a lightning
strike upon the elven archer Bilgamesh. The lightning flashes painfully around
the elf, while from the vortex above a winged chariot falls sky amidst a cloud
of griffon’s feathers, with two riders desperately clinging to the chariot’s
gold armored hull. They land hard, the chariot upside not far from the titan. At
the edge of the battlefield Hagrid strains mightily trying to salvage the astral
skiff that remained trapped with the current of vortex comically being dragged
until  succeeds in shrinking the
vessel back down to it small cubic form. The chariot tumble through the air
tossed by one of those beneath it, as it flies away two figures stand revealed,
one an armored angel and the other the gnome Bingus, the party’s missing wizard.



 

Bingus
dusts himself off as Rikar screams his name … and the gnome casually responds:
“Bring me my blade.”



 



“What?”

ask Rikar incredulous. As Bingus associate springs to his feet and advances
toward the drow ranger.



 


Shaken but alive Bilgamesh draws from a special cache of enchanted arrows,
pulling a pair of particularly nasty arrows and fires both of them into the
titan’s massive face dazing the monster. Nakheten screams and howls in protest
causing an explosion of deadly winds to buffet and hurl his attackers helplessly
backward … Already at the edge of the battlefield Hagrid and Bilgamesh are cast
back into the vortex where they begin spinning helplessly in its current.


 


Rikar stabs at the angelic warrior who deftly dodges and counters, only to be
caught by Rikar’s following scythe-like second hand.  
 



 


Unimpressed, Bingus grins as he repeats,
“Rikar bring me the blade!”
The drow lunges, attempting to slay the gnome
but Bingus blocks Rikar’s blade easily with a rod, and gaining an advantageous
position he thrusts outward with the rod catching Rikar below his chin knocking
him backwards forcefully to the ground, and says:



“Do not imagine that you are my equal drow!”



 


Again the angel strikes stepping on Rikar’s arm in a clumsy attempt to disarm
the ranger, but Rikar rolls regaining his feet and preparing himself to counter
the angel’s approach.


 


Given up any hope of forestalling the battle, Finellior begins to sing, bringing
forth his own his own brand of magic through song; he begins healing his allies
across the battlefield and calls out to Yu Gnuf to do the same …


 



“My song will place gnawing doubt in the monster’s mind; friends strike him now
and you will be sustained!”



 

Needing
no further prompting Vani splits his essence in four directions vanishing only
to reappear as four separate wholes, and then the Vanis attack Nakheten with all
of their considerable power holding nothing in reserve. Being a storm sorcerer,
Vani was protected from the precise type of energies that were cascading from
Nakheten’s body, the raw unbridled power of storm; unfortunately likewise, the
titan seemed almost immune to either lightening or thunder with played on Vani’s
effectiveness too. Momentarily turning his attention back to the titan, Rikar
spins and flanks the monster with the Ssarina and the two warriors coordinate
their efforts to great effect, enough to make them the new focus of the titan’s
assault. Hagrid and Bilgamesh are each finally spat out of the vortex at random
points in the field of battle, Hagrid near the Nakheten, and Bilgamesh nearer to
one of the Vanis. As they recover Yu Gnuf begins communing with the nature of
time as it existed here within the eye of the storm, and begins manipulating it
creating a subtle disturbances, wrinkles in time that allow the librarian’s
allies to redouble the efforts striking over and over, in what passes for the
titan as almost no time at all. And all through it Fin cheers and rallies the
party’s efforts heightening their resolve and calling them to even greater
efforts:


 



Onward my friends, onward heroes!



Fight until we win!



Hack and slash, thrust, parry, bash!



On to battles end … (U-rah-rah)



Onward heroes, onward heroes!



Plow into the fray.



Fight, my friends, fight, fight, fight!



Until we win the day.


 


The others begin echoing the bard sentiment, answering his refrain, attacking
the titan with sword, bow, and spell until angered beyond reason Nakheten
reaches up into the storm and calls down lightning in such a torrent, so dense
that he makes it impossible to escape; the lightning blasts cover the small
oasis in a corona of raw power that almost kills Bilgamesh, and leave his lying
senseless on the dry lagoon bed. The elf’s friends rush to his aid, both Vani
and Yu Gnuf, offering healing magic. Seemingly frustrated, forgotten in the
chaos, Bingus shouts once more at Rikar, again this time his syntax and
pronunciation changing drastically as he commands:


 

“Do
not ignore me drow!



You really do think yourself my equal?



Did you think I’d forget?



BRING ME MY SWORD!”


 


As he speaks Bingus’s shoulders are held high as his three foot frame allows,
his chiseled, goatee-dressed chin is thrust forward, up and out, the gnome’s
eyes pinched, determined …


 


Rikar suddenly stops and turns to face Bingus abandoning the fight with the
titan even as the monster strikes … Unabashed, Rikar rolls with the blow,
tumbling then coming to feet to stand before Bingus. Bingus casts his eyes
downward with purpose, and without hesitation or protest Rikar collapses
kneeling as he presents the Sword of Kas to the gnome. Taking the sword in hand
Bingus reaches up with his free hand, towards his face and motions as if he is
ripping his own face off but instead peels away a mask of porcelain and throws
it aside spinning through the air, and in an instant he grows more than doubling
his height, quadrupling his weight and tossing the rod to the ground announcing
himself to be none other than Kas the Destroyer.


 



“Know that I could kill you now were it my goal, but I think it better to allow
you to suffer, so that you will know loss as I have.”


 


Beyond the revelry of Kas the Betrayer, Nakheten continues his assault, but he
begins showing signs of wear, and with his power beginning to wane. Hagrid
strikes the titan hard as he’s ever hit anything as he takes Rikar’s place,
keeping Nakheten between him and Ssarina’s, joining the paladin at the frontline
of the battle. Vani and Bilgamesh continue to attack from range, and they are
all buttressed by Yu Gnuf and Finellior. Together they overwhelm the titan. As
the battle rages Kas servant ‘Rook’ joins his master stepping close to Kas’s
side even as Nakheten falls. And then as the titan finally falls; the roaring
wall of water collapses instantly submerging the everyone present, hurling them
without mercy, hero and villain alike, tossing them a drift, choking and without
warning, sending them where it would.   


 


 

The Devil’s Due


 


 


The
crashing surf carries the hapless heroes like so much flotsam inexorably towards
the shore of a small unnamed island, their path narrowly avoiding the
razor-sharp spurs of jagged rocks that dot the island’s beach. As they arrive
they are greeted by the familiar, cheerful voice of Guionne, but his visage has
changed, he no longer appears decrepit or aged, but rather as a devil in full
vigor. He calls out from atop a flying vessel, a spell jammer docked above the
lagoon.


 



“Ah, my friends, I am so delighted that you were as good as your word and I see
you’ve managed to retrieve the arrow.”



 


Guionne breathes deeply, savoring the feel.


 



“Can’t you feel it in the air? The city is already feeling so much more
hospitable, and we have you to thank for it. Now … I need the artifact.”


 


Guionne reaches out with a hand offering a king’s ransom of gems.


 


Lined up below the ship waits Guionne enforcers, a cadre of devils including the
pit fiend the heroes met previous, a pair of diabolic lieutenants every bit as
massive as the pit fiend itself, and almost a dozen of hell’s finest
legionnaires. And on of the ship above wait Guionne, his two cherubium, and yet
unseen two assassin devils cloaked by invisibility. 
Guionne was feeling positively radiant, secure in the knowledge that the
mortal explorers would be worn out by the primordial, and half-drowned … They
should be, relatively speaking easy pickings now.


The heroes find themselves spread out across the expanse of the lagoon,
deposited randomly along with their enemies Kas and Rook. And Guionne was right,
they were weary, but he was wrong too, because there was still plenty of fight
within every one of them. Buoyed by the magic of one of his rings, magic that
allowed Hagrid to move as easily through water as land, the goliath emerged
nearest the shore and closet to the ship. At the end of the battle with the
titan, after the collapse of the waterspout, Hagrid realized something had
appeared within his hand; it looked like a short spear, but Hagrid knew it was
the item called the Arrow of Fate. Standing there Hagrid feels an instinctual
need to protect the Arrow, and he tries to hide it beneath the waves, but they
were capricious, rising and falling, and Hagrid was tall, too tall while caught
standing there in the shallow end of the lagoon, and he knew the Arrow had been
exposed. Hagrid turns away from the beach, fleeing from Guionne’s prying eyes
trying to make for deeper water, but Rook, Kas loyal aid intercept the goliath
and makes a grab for the Arrow. The vampire’s servant is quick, too fast to
avoid, but thankfully not strong enough to immediately wrest the Arrow from
Hagrid. A scuffle breaks out between the two of them, Rook seems as at home in
the crashing surf as Hagrid, but being much larger than Rook gives Hagrid an
advantage as he tries to pull it from Rook’s grasp, then as if choosing side the
Arrow transforms becoming a wickedly sharp blade at the point of the shaft where
Rook had it gripped and he finds no purchase upon the weapon as Hagrid rips it
from his grasp.    


 


Everywhere along the beach those caught up in the crashing waves begin to
appear. Taking cue from Kas’s servant, Rikar, a ranger who was also a skillful
swimmer, comfortable within the rough surf, had had regained his senses and was
once again free of Kas’s influence; silently he swims up behind Kas and stabs
the vampire in the ribcage with his scythe-like bladed-hand distracting the
vampire and snatches back the Sword of Kas with his free hand. Immediately Rikar
feels the rush of the Sword’s power spreading through his body, for a moment
unconcerned by Kas’s rage, but reality, and self-preservation quickly returns
and Rikar moves to escape, but the vampire lord rises from the water gliding
effortlessly through the air and lands in front of the retreating ranger. Faster
than the eye can follow he attacks with a second sword but Rikar parries Kas
strike using the Sword of Kas and grins as the vampire with ruthless intent.
 


 


Nearby, Bingus suddenly ‘reappears’ and begins calling out to anyone who will
listen, Fin stares at the gnome with incredulity, disbelieving that he is
actually seeing Bingus clinging to the face of one of the many rock-outcroppings
there at the eastside of the lagoon. Seeing Finellior confusion Bingus repeats
himself:


 



“We have to take the Sword from Rikar; it is the only way to save him and
ourselves from its evil! Can’t you see how it controls him? We don’t need to
fear Kas, he only wants the Sword!”


 


Rikar reacts immediately,

“Liar!”

… “I knew you were behind this Bingus, you’re the bane of my existence, first I
will end Kas and then I will end you I swear it
!”
as he viciously slashes as Kas.


 


Then rising out of the surf Yu Gnuf appears hovering and says:



“Bingus you’re back.”



stating the obvious before continuing:


 



“I believe there is merit to what Bingus is saying, maybe we don’t need to fight
Kas after all.”



 


Being a creature of darkness himself, Rikar is quick to comprehend an advantage
in his duel with the vampire lord; here in Hestavar, even after the storm, the
environment remained brilliantly illuminated, as one might expect of a place
called ‘The Bright City’ and certainly, while yet powerful, Kas the vampire,
couldn’t possibly be at his full strength; watching closely, Rikar realized the
vampire’s wounds were not closing, and he seemed to be struggling more than he
should if it were not so bright. Rikar, on the other-hand, had been with the
party long enough to go accustomed to the light of the sun, even while
preferring darkness. Playing on this weakness, Rikar attacks coping quite well
with the insanely powerful vampire and joined by Ssarina they more than hold
their own, so much so Rikar thoughts are free to wander to what was truly
bothering him, his so-called friends and allies. It burned him deeply that they
here again they were being so quick to judge him, to turn on him! Certainly, he
would be better without them. He didn’t need them anyhow; they needed him, and
they used Him! They lied, they stole, and they betrayed. They deserved to be
abandoned their fate, or better maybe he should kill them all after he finished
off Kas and Bingus. They were obviously all fools, and the gnome had to die.


 



“Bingus, I am coming for you, I’ve seen through you and when I come you won’t
escape, not this time! You’re fools all of you to believe him, none of this
would be happening if you hadn’t stopped me last time. I am through warning you
now!”


 


When Vani appears he is alone, all his duplicates had been destroyed in the
crash of the storm. As the halfling pops above the waves he sees Hagrid swimming
towards him, then the surf crashes again pushing him past the goliath who shove
something into his hand. The surf deposits Vani near the beach near the prow of
the ship and he wastes no time before he blasts most of Guionne’s legionnaires
into non-existence. Guionne reacts trying to encircle Vani within a wall of
burning iron, much as the Dispater aspect had done to Bingus back in the



Fortress of Three Sorrows
,
but before they can trap him Vani teleports away into deeper water escaping
Guionne’s wrath for the moment. On the ship above the two cherubium take aim and
launch a pair of magical ballistae, one at each Hagrid and Vani, fortunately for
the heroes they miss. 


 


The pit fiend and his lieutenants’ race after the goliath taking to air in the
effort to corral the fleeing Hagrid intent on capturing the Arrow, unaware that
Hagrid had already passed the Arrow to Vani in passing, but Guionne knew, and he
sends his invisible assassins after the halfling sorcerer.


 


Together Ssarina and Rikar continue their attack upon Kas taking full advantage
of their flanking positions. Torn as to what to do, Finellior joins in their
effort taunting the vampire and inspiring the efforts of the two warriors all
the while still searching for some measure of hidden truth amid the various
statements of his friends. Frustrated Fin calls out to Yu Gnuf and asks what he
thinks they should do.


 


Bingus answers first: “It is the
nature of the Sword to betray, it speaks in whispers, convincing him to slay and
betray us. We cannot abandon Rikar to the Sword!”


  


As an afterthought Bingus dispatches the last of Guionne’s legionnaires with a
spell while from the far side of the beach, Rook, Kas servant, a shape-changing
doppelganger, takes on the form of a mere-man which allows his to swim rapidly
towards his master.  


Surrounded
and trapped within a field of fire thanks to an burning aura exuded by pit
fiend, Hagrid prepares to do battle with the three largest devils, but worse
that the pit fiend’s flame is the appalling sense of fearsome dread that engulf
the goliath as the devils draw near; it is the kind the fear that freezes one’s
soul, the little death that heralds final demise. Needing a miracle Hagrid draws
deep from the primal well of his power and smoke begins curling off Hagrid’s
exposed skin joining with the steam created by the flaming water of the lagoon;
the smoke spills from fissures forming in Hagrid’s thickening hide, and then in
a spreading transformation his hide turns to magma as Hagrid adopts a guardian
form of a fiery earthen elemental. He ignores the devil’s flames and attacks!
The devils respond with pounding fury, they attack with sword and shield, mace
and the pit fiend’s poison-tipped tail. Together they batter Hagrid into the
surf where he lays battered and oozing bloody magma.
 


 


Vani turns his attention to Guionne and his cherubium, but as he begins to
target one of the cherubium he can’t help but question the cruelty of his
action, the cute cherub’s sweet disposition get the better of the sorcerer and
he decide at the last second to blast the devils attacking Hagrid instead and
sends them toppling backwards and begins healing Hagrid.
 


 


Bingus yells: “LISTEN … We CANNOT
slay Kas! There is no way for us to kill him only a stake from his home plane
can accomplish that.”


 


Even surrounded by foes, thus far Kas had easily held his own and he was still
showing little sign of wear or fatigue, but even so long centuries of conflict
had taught Kas to rely on more than his skill-at-arms and his considerable
physical prowess to win the day; with growing awareness that he would not be
able to best these assemble heroes here and now so without warning he changes
tacks, scabbards his blade, and says:


 



“Bingus is right; I am here only at his request for only I can save the drow
now; he is broken, make no mistake. He is a tool of the Sword, for no mortal can
long weld my blade. Now it is only a matter of time before he kills you all.” 
 


 


Guionne calls out:


“Vampire Lord, join me, I care not for your blade, let us slay them all you can
take what’s rightfully yours and I want only the Arrow. Let us join forces, kill
them and be done with it.”



 


Finellior cautiously asks: “If he is
broken, how might we save him.”


 


Rook rejoins Kas at his side, and offers himself:
“Feed master, regain your strength.”


 


Without hesitation Kas grabs Rook and rips his throat open with needle-tipped
fangs, and heals himself feasting on Rook’s blood.


 


Suddenly a powerful wave driven by the faltering storm, crashes through the
lagoon; it causes Vani and Hagrid to lose their footing, and once again Hagrid
find the devils upon him, circling him on the beach, the goliath rises to his
feet and slashes out violently destroying the two lesser lieutenants leaving
only the pit fiend opposing him. The assassin devils appear on either side of
Vani and capture the halfling in a net of shadow along with the Arrow. The
capture of Vani and more importantly, Guionne’s lust for the Arrow along with
the growing anticipation that it would soon be his distracts the fiend away from
the conversation long enough for Kas to respond to the bard. In answering he
says
:



“You cannot heal your friend, such is the power of the Sword, but you might be
able to replace his desire for it.”


 


Repulsed by Kas’s feeding, Finellior asks
“How?”  


 



“With the Arrow of Fate.”

answers Kas …


“I expect it is as least as powerful as the Sword, and in the absence of the
Sword presence its power should ease Rikar’s yearning.”


 


To Guionne’s dismay Vani escapes the net teleporting away, and the master devil
orders his cherubium to give chase. As Vani reappears he counters lambasting
both his would be assassins and Guionne with sorcerous power. 


 


Rikar, having been stunned into inaction by the sheer audacity of Kas and his
disbelief in what he was hearing, and with his paranoia having risen to a new
zenith, the drow dances past Ssarina and launches himself at Kas. Deftly Kas
shields himself with Rook’s body, lifting the doppelganger into Rikar’s path
using the strength of but one of his arms. Rikar’s blades sink deep into Rook
killing him instantly, finishing what Kas had started. Tossing the body aside,
Kas backhands the ranger knocking him into the surf. Then staring down at the
ranger he repeats his command:


 



“Give me my Sword!”

and helpless against Kas’s will Rikar hands the weapon back to the vampire.  
 


 


Moving to avoid being boarded, Guionne directs his ship, The Impaler, to begin
rising into the sky. It lifts straight upward. Below the fleeing vessel Vani and
Hagrid bring their battles with the pit fiend and the assassin devils to an end
destroying their attackers, and having had enough of being bit and harassed by
the two cherubium both of whom had been attacking him with needle-sharp teeth
and piercing claws Vani laughs and says:
“You should chase after your master now, because you’re starting to make me mad,
and you won’t like me when I’m angry.”



 


Ignoring the halfling the cherubs renew their attacks and good as his threat
Vani blasts them to non-existence. Above the fray, Guionne struggles with
vessel, lacking the necessary crew to properly pilot the vessel, desperate he
respawns the cherubium who reappear aboard the ship, red-faced and angry, but
even with their help the ship moves at a crawl.


 


Alone and completely healed, Kas looks towards Bingus and says,



“I believe we are through here. Be sure your path does not cross mine again or I
will certainly kill you.”


 


As he finishes he transforms in to a mist and vanishes.


 


Joining the others, Vani hands Yu Gnuf the artifact, and says:
“Am I right in assuming that this is the
Arrow of Fate?”


 

As
the librarian takes hold of the item an arcane breach opens in space, leaking a
heavy darkness that congeals and becomes Amyria; she lies silent at Yu Gnuf’s
feet as a look of surprise and embarrassment colors the librarian’s face
painting his cheeks a warm shade of pink. Rushing to Amyria’s side, Ssarina
checks for signs of life and announces,



“She’s alive, but only just.”


 


Quickly Yu Gnuf passes on the Arrow of Fate on to Rikar, as the drow begins to
recover from Kas’s enchantment, and tells the drow
“I expect you to put this to good use.”



 


Eyeing the librarian with unmasked distain, Bilgamesh hisses with an icy
intensity stating


“I thought you didn’t know what happened to my lady, Amyria. What exactly have
you done to her
?”
as he sets arrow to string.  


 


But just then Amyria’s eyes begin to flutter and her lips move as if she is
trying to speak, failing that, she collapses once more. Still confused, by
impulse more than thought, Rikar places the Arrow of Fate in her hand and she
wakes with a start, blinking and gasping, with her entire body shuddering,
Amyria pulls herself to her feet leaning heavily upon Ssarina she announces:


 



“The visions are correct. Bahamut lives … Celestia we … must … the answers
wait there.”



and then she slumps once more into Ssarina’s powerful arms unconscious.


 


Incensed, and frustrated, Rikar recovers the odd looking weapon. As he does it
shifts in his hand becoming a mirror image to Kas’s own blade; curious Rikar
imagines a shorter blade, and the Arrow of Fate reacts matching his thoughts.
Rikar glares at the others still angry, but with a birthing insight that alters
the tone of his anger, shifting it to a thing born of frustration, the
frustration of having been proved wrong rather the deeper brooding hatred he had
been experiencing.


 


Watching Rikar closely, Bilgamesh points toward the sky, where high above on the
Impaler was a drift, seemingly out of control … Summoning his griffon he asks
Rikar,


“I need you, are you with me?”



 


Rikar nods, and joining Bilgamesh on the griffon, they rise together giving
chase to the ship, and when they arrive and find it abandoned, they commandeer
the vessel and Bilgamesh turns to Rikar and says:


 



“Hagrid is going to like this.”
   



 

 

 



Arrow of Fate –


Epic Level



 



An ancient shard of the fallen dragon god Io’s physical form, the Arrow of Fate
is a powerful weapon against the primordials and their servants. As a fragment
of a greater god, the artifact is equally effective against the divine, for what
better to harm a god with than a piece of another? The Arrow, created from the
essence of the one that gave rise to them, also holds great power over the
children of Io (dragon-kind).


The Arrow of Fate can function as a rod, staff, or wand, as any normal
weapon with which the wielder has proficiency., or as ammunition for a crossbow,
longbow, or shortbow (in which case it overrides any enchantment the bow or
crossbow may carry). Whatever its form, it is a +6 weapon of that type. It can
also appear as appear as a metal gauntlet with the shape and function of a
humanoid hand.


 



Enhancement:


Attack rolls and damage rolls



Critical:


+6d8 hit point of damage, or +6d12 damage against dragons and creatures with the
elemental or immortal origin



Property:


Attacks using the Arrow of Fate ignore the first 15 points of resistance
a dragon or creature with the elemental or immortal origin has, if any, to the
damage.


 



Power (At-will):



  • Minor Action
    :
    The Arrow of Fate transforms from its current form into one of the
    other implements, weapons, or ammunitions listed above.


 



Power (Daily


Fire, Radiant)



  • Standard Action

    – You breathe forth a blast of fire charged with the energy of the astral
    sea: Close blast 5; Constitution + 6 vs. Reflex; 4d12 + 8 fire
    and radiant damage. Miss: Half damage.


 



Power (Daily


Fear)



  • Standard Action

    – An aura of majestic terror washes over your enemies: Close burst 10;
    targets enemies; Constitution +6 or Charisma +6 vs. Will; the target
    is stunned until the end of your next turn. Aftereffect:
    The target takes a –2 penalty to attack rolls (save ends).


 



Power (Daily – Healing) –



·        


(Special)

Once per day, the Arrow of Fate can be used to perform the Raise Dead
ritual without the need for components or its bearer having the ritual caster
feat.


 



Goals of the Arrow of Fate


  • Destroy the primordials and their servants.

  • Protect the world for which Io fought and was destroyed.

  • Prevent the twin halves of Io, the gods Tiamat and Bahamut, from resolving
    their eternal conflict by permanently destroying their opposite.


 


Impaler:
HP 500; AC 3; Fortitude 20, Reflex 15; resist 10 all
damage;



Speed 12

(0 at the beginning of the skill challenge)


(Four of the six turrets)

on Impaler’s are designed to allow magical attack to be channeled against other
ships and airborne combatants. A creature in a spell turret can use the turret
to direct any non-weapon ranged or area arcane or divine attack power. A
creature directing a power through a spell turret uses its own attack modifier
and deals damage as normal. However, a power directed through a spell turret
cannot be used with an implement and the magic of a spell turret doubles the
range of arcane and divine powers, and allows powers to target inanimate objects
even if they normally cannot do so. Characters attacking airborne creatures
through a spell turret can make use of any of a power’s effects. Powers that
create effects in addition to hit point damage can be used against a ship, but
the ship ignores such effects (including ongoing damage). Attacks that deal
damage throughout an area (typically attacks that target all creatures in a
burst) strike more than 1 square when used against a ship, dealing additional
damage as follows: burst 1 or 2, double damage; burst 3 or 4, triple damage;
burst 5 or larger, quadruple damage. Attacks that can target multiple characters
function only as a single attack when directed through a spell turret.



Characters that do not have arcane or divine powers can make use of two force
ballista turrets on the strike ship.

Force
Ballista: (To Hit as a Ranged Basic Attack)
;
ranged 40; 3d10 points of force damage.

Each
force ballista has 10 bolts and is operated by a single character.



·        
Firing is a
standard action.



·        
Activating
the magical bolt loader is a minor action.

 

Attacks
made with the spell turrets and force ballistae target only the other craft or
creatures in the air or ground. These attacks cannot target a individual
character on a ship.



 

 

Other
Treasures:



Parcel M: Parcel 13




Devil skin pouch holding 20 astral diamonds



Parcel N: Parcel 11




Celestial oak and baatorian hardwood puzzle box inlaid with mithral (50,000 gold
pieces) containing 200,000 gold pieces worth of residuum, gold and black
enameled astrolabe adorned with points of elemental lightning, fire, and ice
(50,000 gold pieces)



Parcel O: Parcel 1




Boots of Teleportation –
Level 28 Rare



Wearing these elegant boots, you never need to raise your feet to move.



Feet Slot –


2,125,000 gold pieces



Power (Teleportation) 

 (Move
Action)


You can teleport a number of squares equal to your speed.