15
Aug
12

D&D: The Eighth One – Session 5

THE EIGHTH ONE – SESSION 5
Written by: GM           Played on: 16 Apr 2011
PREVIOUS: The Eighth One – Translation 1
NEXT: The Eighth One – Session 6

Greatly saddened by her friend’s fate, but hiding her sorrow behind a strong face, Scith gently placed against Emmy’s stone face. Bharash consulted with the mages about the nature of the magic used by the necromancer while the others observed the large round room.

Along the walls, a detailed mural depicted the history of the Southern Kingdom after the Diving Beings arrived. One portion showed the war that waged for many millennia against the forces of chaos. Another showed the followers of the Divine building the citadel of Aurucania. The last showed Haulpa herself watching over the progress of the intelligent races as they progressed and prospered. Though uplifting, a dark feeling hung over the entirety of the painting that could not be placed.

Besides the mural and decorative columns, the room contained little else. Cael and Aunwynne checked the silver and gold chest that had contained the Seal of the Feathered Dragon. The craftsmanship was superb and it appeared to flow naturally out of the marble pedestal supporting it. It did not appear that it could be removed, indeed it had no handles or clasps at all to speak of. Near the center of the room, Margoloth observed that it was very odd that the statue of Emmy was placed on a raised pedestal in the middle of the room, as though it had been built specifically to hold her.

Bharash’s raised voice caught their attention. Inara stood motionless near the commander, her eyes locked somewhere in the distance, as though looking a thousand years into the past. Indeed she was. Though rare, the party had seen this before, the Devas, known for their many lives granted by the Divine, occasionally triggered flashes from their past lives.

Inara’s mind turned thousands of years into the past. In another life, she accompanied a party of Hualpa’s most powerful and trusted disciples into the untamed woods north of Aurucania. A thousand workers had labored for a thousand days to build the Temple of Haven, cut directly into the side of the great mountains. Built to safely house the Divine’s greatest prize, Inara’s herself carried the Seal of the Feathered Dragon to the temple.

In the secure chamber, the master smith provided the silver chest that would contain the seal. The Grand Inquisitor and the High Priestesses worked together to bind the chest to the room itself and carved magic runes into the pedestal at the center of the room. The Grand Inquisitor, the only human of the group, offered himself up as sacrifice. Standing on the central pedestal, the Inquisitor spoke in the ancient language of the Divine, though Inara understood him as well as if he were speaking the common tongue, “Divine Hualpa, I give myself to thee, in turn open thy secrets to me.” In a flash, the Inquisitor turned to stone and the chest cracked open ever so slightly.

Inara placed the precious seal inside the chest on the red velvet lining, then turned and signaled to the priestesses standing by. Between the four of them, they pulled and pushed the statue of the Inquisitor, lifting him from the pedestal. As he moved out of the ruined circle, there was a flash of gold light from the chest and it’s lid clamped shut. Retuened to flesh, the High Inquisitor gasped and collapsed to his knees in the priestesses’ arms, visibly shaken from his experience.

As suddenly as it had come over her, Inara’s mind returned to the present. “Remove her. Pull her down from the pedestal.” Her voice, filled with confidence, was unquestioned. Margoloth single handed lifted the heavy stone statue, Rock steadying it’s movement as he swung it off the dias. A flash of golden light filled the chamber and the silver chest snapped shut. Emmy returned to flesh in Margoloth’s arms with a loud wailing cry. Collapsing to the ground at the giants feet, Emmy’s voice fell to a soft whimper as Scith knelled by her side to comfort her. The young girl shook and muttered in the Druid’s arms as a cold sweat broke out over her body.

“Darkness… Darkness everywhere… So long… Emptiness… How… How long… How long…?” Awareness slowly returned to the girl as she locked eyes with Scith, though it did nothing to relieve her violent shaking.

“It’s ok Emmy, you’ve only been maybe an hour,” Scith tried to reassure her.

“No… No, no, no… The darkness… The emptiness… It stretched into eternity… I am lost to time… I have lived an eternity in the darkness and emptiness…the darkness and emptiness has become me… An eternity…”

Inaras expression softened slightly. “Her mind will return, in time. She perceived the world of the Divine, not ours or the Avatars, but the timeless, mystic plane the Divine Beings reside in. It is not a place for mortal minds. The Divine Hualpa forsaw the importance of her seal and so it was sealed behind powerful magic. It can only be removed from the chest by leaving behind a sacrifice, this girl in this case. Removing the sacrifice seals the chest, but it also forces the seal to return to it’s container.”

Sir Henry raised his voice, “You mean the seal we watched the necromancer take is back in that chest?” Inara nodded. “Excellent! Then we’ll just put the girl back up there and-“

“No, no, no! Not back into the darkness! Not the emptiness! Not for another eternity! No, no, no…” Emmy’s sudden, panicked cries cut Sir Henry off. Her sobs filled the silence between the party.

“This girl has suffered enough. We will not leave her to that fate again,” Scith growled, clutching Emma to her side.

“Someone must.” Inara stated flatly.

This was another moment of moral choice for the players. I was hoping the conversation might turn to one of the players volunteering to remain behind, to become the sacrifice, though it wasn’t required. Instead they immediately started searching for other ways to trick or force another into the role. Had one of the players chosen to stay, I would have had them take over running the monsters during combat encounters so that they could still have a significant involvement in the game. This would have also helped me out considerably as I was often playing remotely and the players were moving the monsters around on the battle map for me.

The group sat in silence, their eyes flitting between one another. Finally Bharash’s broke the silence, “Aunwynne, go upstairs. Find one of the Divine Guard that was badly injured in the attack. He will be our sacrifice.” No one said anything as the scout slipped away. She returned a few minutes later, supporting a soldier between herself and Eldar Solarin. “Put him up there.”

Though obviously in pain, the guardsman perked up as he noticed Emma moaning and ranting from the floor. “What… What is going on?” Aunwynne steadied the man in the center of the pedestal before pulling Eldar Solarin away as well.

“You will serve as Haulpa’s savior. Repeat after me.” The guardsman took some convincing, but finally Bharash’s command position convinced him to comply, despite his fears. The man’s voice waivered as he completed the chant, Emma’s sobs increased in intensity as his flesh was consumed in stone. Across the room, the silver chest opened with a soft click.

Moving swiftly to the chest, Sir Henry Longthorne flipped the lid open and reached inside. From the chest he produced a smooth, marble tablet with golden runes inlaid upon it’s surface. At the center, the sigil of the Southern Kingdom, the sigil of the Divine Haulpa, wrapped around a large, blood red ruby that glittered in the light of the room. Behind them, Eldar Solarin’s voice broke the mood, “What have you done? What have you done to Jorin?!” Emma’s sobs punctuated his words.

“We did what we had to. Take the girl and leave. Jorin must remain.” Despite Eldar Solarin’s protests, Marfoloth pressed the two out of the chamber at Bharash’s orders, followed closely by the commander and the rest of the unit. As they exited, Bharash’s plucked the two control crystals from the wall, sealing the chamber behind him. He passed one of the crystals to Scith and the other to Sir Henry. “Safeguard these. We will carry them with us to ensure the necromancer does not return to pull the same trick we did.”

“This is not right, commander. You did not tell him what his sacrifice would be!” Eldar Solarin continued to protest.

“He is a member of the Divine Guard. He will do as he is commanded. He will do what is necessary for Hualpa, just as you and the remaining soldiers will continue to protect Haven until relieved.” Bharash’s brushed past him, heading for Haven’s main gates.

“I do not see you or your men making the sacrifice for Divine Hualpa, commander. I pray the Divine proves you correct.” Eldar Solarin turned away in disgust, taking Emmy with him. Bharash ignored the old man, circling his troops and gathering supplies from Haven’s stores.

“Where to now that we have the seal, Inara?”

“We travel for the city of Throal, commander. Atop the plateau outside the city, a great shrine was constructed to honor the mighty Hualpa many ages ago. There we attuned the shrine’s powers to Hualpa’s divine essence, the Avatar of Hualpa and to the power of the Seal of the Feathered Serpent. Hualpa foresaw this eventuality and the shrine was built to allow the mortal races to resurrect the avatar should the need arise. We must take the seal there and perform the ritual to summon the spirit of Hualpa’s Avatar back to this plane.”

Gathering their supplies, the party once again marched out into the woods, determined to put the Forests of Bylgia behind them by the time night fell. Camping just off the road some time later, the party tried to regain some of their energy and treat their wounds. Though they slept undisturbed, the party’s rest was once again tormented by nightmares if twisted creatures and fire that threatened to consume the world. Waking early, they break camp and head for Throal.

Staying to the roads as much as possible, they pass signs of destruction everywhere. Small towns lie in ruins, inns and farms smolder from simmering fires, everywhere bodies and death litter the fields and the paths. As afternoon reaches it’s peak, a column of smoke indicates their arrival at Throal. From the hilltop, they can see the city burns. Winged creatures swoop through the buildings, occasionally diving into the streets below and rising with a figure clutched in their talons only to drop them back to the streets below.

I’m pretty sure there was another fight in there, but, honestly, it was too long ago to remember.

Pausing only for a moment, Bharash’s directs them down into a gully leading through the trees outside Throal. They will travel around the city to the plateau on the far side of the city. Moving cautiously, but quickly, the party makes their way to the base of the plateau without incident. Standing at the base of the sheer cliff wall, the party looks resolutely up, nearly straight up, the intimidating cliff that stretches a full mile into the sky.

PREVIOUS: The Eighth One – Translation 1
NEXT: The Eighth One – Session 6
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