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Permalink 13:46:16, by Doug Morrison-Cleary Email , 1517 words   English (AU) utf8
Categories: Shorn, Heirs, Adventure Log, Creative Commons


You take a moment to catch your breath as the last naga slinks through the portal onto the Abyss. As you do so, a bright light suddenly appears just by the altar. Glancing over, there seems to be a face—or is it a mask, it is so unmoving—in the midst of the light. There is a note in the air, it is high but still seems to resonate throughout your body, starting with your toes. It is peaceful but full of power. You feel the urge to sink to your knees in prayer.

A voice seems to come from the midst of the light, "Be free, my son, until next thou tis needed." And the light extends towards Faust and envelopes his body. Suddenly, the light flares and disappears. Faust lies naked and whole upon the altar. A long glance will reveal that his chest is slowly rising and falling.

Before you have time to even rush to his side, people start bursting through the portal. First comes a half-orc woman in a breastplate and with a mace in hand. She looks around warily until she sees Loon. Immediately behind her, with bow drawn and an arrow nocked, comes a dark skinned elf some of you recognise as Teq.

Behind Teq limps a woman in little more than a breechcloth and scraps wound around her feet. She looks exhausted, but the moment she sees Faust upon the altar she runs to him and starts sobbing. "My love, my love, what has happened to you. Have I lost you, now? Why?"

Following this woman come two more, one an elf and the other human, both with rags around their feet and a couple of scraps of cloth elsewhere. Then comes a human boy, naked, and with the hand of another pushing him forward. In a moment this other is through the portal and is another naked man, this time an elf, bearing a sword with obvious skill.

As you start coming forward, two more figures back through the portal. Both are skeletal. One is in full armour and the other has a weapons harness, like that worn by Kolan for those of you who had met him. Thel, if the first two figures were bright to your detect magic ability, these last two are overwhelmingly bright. You stumble for a moment and you find you have to consciously turn your ability in another direction.

The moment they are through, they turn with their weapons still out and call out to the first two through, "Safe?"

Teq asks Faza'a, "Are we safe?" To which you reply, "For now." You notice the skeleton warriors relax slightly as they take up positions either side of the portal. You overhear one of them mutter to the other, "So the snakes came from here…"

Leonetta, the female orc warrior, is already talking to Loon.

"My Lady Loon, we must make haste to set this place to rights. I have a libretto here, can you sing it in a moment? It does not have to be perfect…"

You reply, "But what are we doing?"

"The creator of this monstrosity," Leonetta replies as she points to the portal, "spoke the invocation. The Temple was never activated during his evil or since. Now that you have activated its full power, it should be possible to destroy this portal and rededicate the temple."

Just then, another figure pops into existence just above the altar, even as Faust reaches over to pat his wife's arm.

Leonetta and Teq both turn with weapons out. This is Kel, the demon, some of you realise. While you, Constantine, are overcome by an urge to kill and destroy.

Kel speaks, "Control that so-called risen one."

Then, turning to Loon, he continues, "Songmistress, you and your captain are released from your contract with me. What Leonetta has done with that god-woven cloth of hers will keep us all from the keep for a century or two. My commander may not be happy, but Orcus is furious. Mwahhhah. Leonetta, you know that what you have done will gradually become corrupted?"

"Yes. But for now the keep and what it encloses is safe. And now …"

"One moment," Kel interrupts, "Orcus' army will stay encamped for a century of your time or more. However, even that weakens him and allows my commander an opportunity to act. We will eventually draw even that army away from the keep. And when we do, I will be back—to you, or your children or your grandchildren—for I am sure they will be as capable as you all are. We must have that item you sealed in the heart of the keep, Leonetta. We must!"

"And you demon, you are on my home now. So I tell you, while I am grateful for your assistance on the Abyss—we would never have made it here without it—you are mine enemy here and I will not hesitate to kill you if you do not leave this place immediately." Leonetta replies.

"I am going," says Kel as he backpedals away from the fierceness that is Leonetta, "but watch your backs for Orcus will never forgive this."

Kel disappears as quickly as he appeared and Leonetta starts clearing the altar area and roping in everyone to help. During the ensuing bustle, Teq and you all manage to introduce each other and share stories. He confirms that a huge demon army now surrounds the keep, but that even those with a taint of evil can no longer enter it. Leonetta found the two skeletal guardians from the time the keep was an outpost for the Knights of Celestial Vengeance. She persuaded them to accompany her and the rescued prisoners, including Teq, to the material plane. Perhaps they will be able to find a remnant of their order somewhere else and return to their eternal battle against demons. Kel was also instrumental in getting everyone out from under the advancing army.

You all describe your own adventures, concluding with the strange nagas you were just dealing with. By the time the stories are almost over, the temple has been cleared. Lenoetta turns to Faza'a.

"Noble barbarian, what I almost despaired of I see you are able to accomplish! This portal to the Abyss , while loosened somewhat from this place, needs to be wholly and completely destroyed. If we cannot do that, then it will become a great weapon for Orcus. So, as its link to this place is severed, we need to destroy it. And that javelin you carry can, I think, accomplish the deed. Will you, please, give over this weapon so that Orcus can never gain a foothold in any world by using that evil doorway?"

You reply that YOU will wield it in destroying the portal and you prepare to charge.

Leonetta quickly lays a hand upon your arm and says that she will signal you when it is time. She also makes it clear that the weapon probably will not survive! She encourages everyone but Faza'a, Loon and herself to move back to the rear of the temple. She gives Teq a kiss and as she says farewell to him, he replies that he will stand between the portal and her and not to argue!

Loon and Leonetta stand before the altar and Loon begins to sing. The words are an archaic form of draconic, some of you recognise. They are words of unbinding and cleansing. Leonetta appears to be in prayer while Loon sings. The song grows in strength and power. The very air seems almost thick with sound. The entire temple begins to glow.

At first, the shadows and the screams from the portal almost overwhelm the song and the light. But the song strengthens still further. It sounds almost as if the walls themselves are a choir bringing a haunting harmony to Loon's song.

Suddenly, Loon hits a high C and Leonetta signals Faza'a. The javelin pierces the portal as it begins to slide into the Abyss. The screams tear through the air. Loon's voice seems accompanied by a multitude of voices of power, many of them obviously not human. And a detonation blasts through the temple.

Even as your ears begin to recover their hearing, the silence is profound. Even the clink of weapons harnesses seems muted. At the same time, the temple feels lighter, less forboding, almost cheery. What a contrast from just half an hour ago. The portal is gone. Leonetta has slid down the side of the altar and Teq has staggered the few feet to check on her.

"She's alive!" he suddenly calls out. And the silence seems to be normal again. The air is no longer thick and the sounds of you and your companions moving around are not so muted. Loon is next to Leonetta, utterly exhausted but with an infectious grin on her face. Faza'a struggles to his feet. His hair is now pure white all over. It takes a moment to tell whether what he holds in his hand is the javelin or just a twisted and broken piece of metal…

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