D&D: The Eighth One – Session 7 – Part 1

Written by: GM           Played on: 27 Apr 2011
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The scales of the avatar shimmered in the sunlight, glittering off Hualpa’s feathered scales. The few remaining creatures retreated through the dark portals which closed behind them. The dragon looked down at them, her green eyes seemed to smile, albeit sadly. Finally, she spoke to them, her voice manifesting in their minds. Great warriors of the Divine Guard, you have served me well. You have accomplished much against great odds. I require only one more service of you, to secure the safety of our world.

“Anything, Divine Hualpa. We have seen much destruction at the hands of these creatures. We will do all that is required to rid the world of them once more.” Bharash bowed his head to the avatar.

The avatar of Divine Hualpa knelt, lowering her massive frame to the ground before the party. Then climb upon my back, brave warriors. We have far to travel and much to accomplish. The Divine Guardsman climbed up the side of the avatar. Securing themselves to her back, they felt the avatars wings spread wide and begin to beat. The avatar took three great strides forward, then plunged over the plateau’s edge. Swooping forward, they passed over the burning city of Throal.

With each beat of her feathered wings, the avatar carried them miles over the Southern Kingdom. Way up there, the fires that burned in the villages they passed seemed like nothing more than campfires. The destruction of the major cities looked like nothing more than new construction. The piles of bodies and destroyed families they knew lied below could not even be seen from their altitude.

In minutes, they travelled a distance that would normally have taken the whole day. In no time at all, they had soared east of Throal out over the coast. The blue water of the ocean shimmered in the setting sunlight, stark contrast to the devastation they had witnessed on land. Before long, the ocean was all they could see, the land disappeared behind them.

In less than an hour, their destination appeared before them, the Divine Isle, the sacred island of the Divine Beings sprouted out of the ocean a hundred miles from the nearest land mass. Hualpa circled the island, giving them a good view of it’s entirety. The land was mostly flat, but covered by immaculate gardens. At the center of the island a massive, seven sided, white marble temple loomed, larger even than the avatar’s personal chambers in Aurucania.

Outside of the temple, a number of armored figures could be seen setting up camps. A blue scaled dragon, they recognized as the avatar of the Northern Kingdom, walked along the bricked paths, observing the Divine Guard on the ground as it meandered towards the large gates cut into each of the seven sides of the temple. To the south, a large sailing ship was docked, soldiers disembarking with their gear. Nearby, a long sea serpent, the avatar of the Ocean Kingdom, hauled it’s massive form out of the ocean and onto land.

Hualpa’s body leaned forward into a steep dive. As she closed with the land, her mighty, feathered wings beat, slowing them into a gentle landing. Nearby, Divine Guardsman wearing the fur lined armor of the Kingdom of the Frozen North shielded their eyes from the dust. Bharash and his men climbed down and the avatar stood upright again. Once more, they could hear her voice in their heads, Wait here. I must commune with my divine brothers and sisters inside the temple.

The avatar turned and walked resolutely towards the large gate in the nearby temple wall, above the doors they could see the sigil of Hualpa carved into the stone. Bharash ordered his unit to unpack and set camp in the grass amongst the gardens, near to the gate. As the hours passed, other avatars and their retinue arrived. The ivory white dragon of the Kingdom of the Frozen North, the golden scaled avatar of the Western Kingdom, the bronze scaled serpent of the Eastern Kingdom and the blood red avatar of the Kingdom of Air arrived to join the other three. each, in turn, entered the temple while the Divine Guard of their kingdoms waited outside.

As the sun set, cooking fires began to sprout up. The party wandered through the neighboring camps, greeting their brothers in arms and exchanging news from their lands. The guards of the other kingdoms reported similar stories to the ones the party had seen. An overwhelming attack on their capitals. Murder and destruction in every major city. Armies of creatures swarming the land. Among the survivors of the Kingdom of the Frozen North, Rock found his old mentor, the longtooth shifter Thorn.

Scith wandered away from the party and the others, seeking the peace and the solitude of nature in the gardens. On the south side of the island, in The garden dedicated to Hualpa, flowers and trees from the across the Southern Kingdom were gathered together and grew in concert. Lightning bugs flitted between the trees and the shrubs. At the center of the gardens, Scith found a small statue, carved in Hualpa’s likeness. At it’s base was an inscription, written in the same ancient language as the other two they had found before. Taking a moment, she made a rubbing of the inscription and carried it back to her camp along with the others.

In the morning, the sun rose in the east like it did every day, unaware of the destruction burning the world below. There, in the shadow of the temple and amongst the gardens of the divine, the party found the first restful sleep they had in days. As they finished breakfast, they heard the voice of Hualpa once more, Guard of the Divine, enter the holy temple, I would speak to you again.

At the other campsites around the temple, they could see the other Divine Guard rising and casting uncertain looks at the others as they headed for the temple. It was clear they had all received similar messages.

Pushing through the massive doors, they entered the temple for the first time. Inside the single massive room, Hualpa and the other avatars stood around the perimeter of the room near the entrances they had each used. Behind the avatars, a pedestal carried the seal of each of the Divine Beings. Beyond them the center of the room curved down into a bowl where a blue, magical fire burned. The walls of the bowl glittered in the light and, on closer inspection, they realized it was inlaid, golden text, written in the ancient language of the divine.

Along the exterior walls, a detailed mural showed the arrival of the avatars and another, eighth, black scaled dragon. Around the room, the mural showed the dragons battling and defeating the forces of chaos. Troublingly, a later portion showed the black dragon, larger and more menacing than before, leading an army of twisted creatures against the avatars. The mural eventually showed the avatars defeating the dragon and it’s minions, sinking the lands beneath the sea in the process.

Heroes of the Southern Kingdom, as your kind has proven time and time again, it is truly the mortal races of is world that are it’s saviors. Once again, you stand ready to real the world back in from the brink. The avatars of the seven kingdoms will do our part. The forces arrayed against you are greater than you know; the evil of the great dragon, Malak Al-Maut, has returned though we long believed him defeated.

We underestimated him before and your world has paid dearly for our arrogance. We will begin a ritual to create a more permanent solution. We will sever his evil from this world permanently. The forces of chaos will be able to detect our plan as soon as we begin, however. Malak Al-Maut will spare no expense to disrupt our efforts. You and the others of the Divine Guard must fulfill your oaths once more, you must ensure that no creature gains access to this temple until we have completed our ritual.

“Our lives are yours, Divine Hualpa.” Bharash’s voice was steady with confidence, but even he cast his eyes around the party, searching each of their faces for confirmation. None flinched from his gaze. “We will ensure you complete the ritual.”

Then we will begin immediately. Go with my blessings, heroes. You are truly a testament to the strength of the mortal races. The heroes felt a wave of energy wash over them. The pain from their wounds lessened. The fatigue from the last few days disappeared. They could feel the energies of Hualpa’s blessing fill their beings.

The players were given the Blessing of Hualpa. Each had one charge that they could use once at any time during the last battles. The blessing would grant them an additional action, just like an Action Point, would let them immediately use a Healing Surge and would also allow them to regain one spent Daily Power. This was a pretty powerful blessing but, I thought, the final battle was pretty tough and this would help balance it back in their favor. As it turned out, I could have and should have made the final battle much tougher. None of the players ended up needing the blessing at all!

Bharash and his men filed out of the temple as the others did, each using the massive entrance built for their avatar. Outside on the landing, the dragonborne took a look around at each of the members of his unit. Each met his gaze resolutely. “Prepare for the worst. The Avatars are counting on us. We will not fail them.”

Only moments after the massive doors shut, the first signs of the coming flood appeared. The wind around them died down and the light seemed to dim slightly. A wailing, soft  and distant could be heard. The air before them began to twist and tear. The first black portal ripped the air apart, a window to a twisting space of chaos. The first demonic, twisted creature burst forth as a dozen other portals tore into existence.

From around the island, the war cries of the other Divine Guard signaled the attack came from all fronts. Bharash ordered his men forward to meet the charge head on. The first wave crashed against their swords and shields. Spells arced overhead, explosions incinerated the features en masse. Every body that fell, however, was replaced by three more creatures. The portals continued to grow, allowing larger and larger creatures into the world. Winged beasts began to swoop from the openings.

As the battle continued, the horde of creatures did not abate. In the distance, a terrifying roar shook the island. Nearby, the party could see the Divine Guard of the Frozen North and the Northern Kingdom suffering under the onslaught, but holding strong. The voice of Divine Hualpa manifested in their heads as they did battle, Fight on, heroes of the Divine. The ritual continues, but Malak Al-Maut approaches. His most powerful minions herald his arrival.

Arrows, spells and steel tore through the flesh of the creatures. The portals around the idle continued to tear apart, larger and larger. From the breach, a large winged beast, seemingly made of twisting shadows, clawed it’s way free. It’s clawed feet cracked the ground beneath it’s weight, it’s size was nearly comparable to the avatars themselves.

PREVIOUS: The Eighth One – Translation 2
NEXT: The Eighth One – Session 7 – Part 2

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