….Captain Soot’s ship.
We were on board the Astral Sea ship, the Queen, captained by Captain Soot, and ebony queen herself, with her dark skin and raven black hair. I had to remind myself not to stare and that I was married and my wife, hopefully, was still out there somewhere… but I had no way of knowinhg…. maybe moving on was for the best? No—Not something to think about at when things are so chaotic… especially with a dimensional traveler. I had enough dimension hopping friends cough Akira cough… that damn ‘Soul Guardian’, up and leaving us.
I know I said it before, but the Nine Hells never would have come back to power if he had been around. He defeated Fate… he could easily defeat Asmodeus with his angelic and devilish heritages combined—the power of a True Archon.
I realized I was staring at Captain Soot once again and this time she looked my direction. I quickly glanced away, feeling my face turn red. She raised her voice and said,
“Remember all of you—the deal for our passage out of and back into Hell—you crazy basatrds—is to search the uncharted island in the Astral Sea that me and me crew have discovered.—”
WHAZAMMM! In a huge burst of white light a familiar armored figure crashed down into the ship getting tangled in the masts ropes which prevented his full force from breaking the deck.
Arfellen, the Deva Paladin stood up and wiped himself.
“What in the damned Nine—!?” Soot cried out.
“It’s okay!” I shouted to her, “This is Arfellen. He does that. I can’t fathom why—but he does.”
Seeming utterly perplexed she shook it off and continued on with her speech,
The island is a shard of Moradin’s domain. When he was destroyed by the means of the Nine Hells, the realm he resided in began to fall apart, and this was part of it what was left. Capatin Soot told us she wanted us to explore and find any kind of magical artifacts and we would split any treasure 50/50.
“Where am I? This place is dark.” I heard a somewhat familiar voice call out from below deck.
Captain Soot rolled her eyes, “MORE of your friends, I trust?”
“Probably…” I replied.
“The door in the floor, led to…” The voice said, then appeared from the stairs, “A….ship?” Fatina the cleric looked around and spotted us and ran over, “I lost track of the big stinky minotaur and his Tieflingb buddy. They got into a fight with some kind of angel and I had to flee. I DID find that Door in the Floor those imps spoke of—but THIS is not where I expetcted it to lead. Glad to see you guys though!”
“Of course. The more the merrier.” I grinned, “We need as many for the army as we can get. Plus we are going back into Hell after his.”
Fatina looked rather uphappy at that statement, but if the Cleric wanted to, I wouldnt be opposed to the loss of a holy person on our team. Gods were what caused the Nine Hells Wars to begind with!
As we sailed closer, Dreth, Artanis, Arfellen, Fatina, Medb and I prepared to disembark and swim the Astral Sea to the shore of the shard of the plane. Devoir elected to stay on board the ship and watch for monsters and pirates.
Then as we got as close as the Astral Sea would allow before pushin us back, I was first to run and jump off, swan diving into the strangely cold & warm space. At first try, moving my arms and legs didn’t work and I felt myself begin to sink. Quickly I realized that the sea was a magical place—Willpower. I imagined myself swimming and sure enough I was propelled forward, and the others were not far behind me afte a few moments and we swam to shore without being attacked by any astral sea sharks. Not sure if those exist—but I wouldn’t doubt it.
When we stepped onto shore, I at least, became very disoriented. It was as if the entire islands level of gravity was permanently tiled to the side. It wasn’t very difficult to stand, but it messed with my head a great deal. Looking up at the sky it appeared to be shattered like glass… blue jagged shards every which way.
We trudged forward and found an archway with Runic writings upon it; Dwarven. Looking around at the confused I realized none of us could read the language. Note to self. It couldn’t be important anyway, right? Probably just said ‘Welcome to Moradin-Land’.
As we passed through the archway a heavy feeling of despair washed over us. The despair of a dead god. We didn’t let it deter us, and we went on ahead anyway. Wasn’t long before the inhabitants made theirselves known to us! Ghoulish duergar looking dwarves burst from the ground ahead. They each stood about 4t all, with spiky hair and beards. The rotting creeps rushed forward and surrounded us, hissing and growling about the dead god Moradin. Clearly, they were not amused.
Artanis quickly threw a spell in the direction of two of them and froze them to the ground with icy shards. The rest of us burst into action and I fired my crossbow at the main target, which was already looking pretty bad—oozing black blood and all that. My shot was less than true, and Dreth charged in following it and with his greatsword, chopped the sickening freak into pieces. The pieces then bubbled and meted into the ground. Arfellen, drew his longsword and with a loud prayer to Bahamut, smited another one to the left of us. Not liking the holy paladin, the ghouls converged on him, slashing at his legs so he couldn’t retreat. Another sank its teeth into his arm and he roared angrily, and another leapt upon him, chomping into his throat, taking the Deva down. Oh god damn it, Arfellen! Fatina and Medb became targets of the ghouls as well, and Fatina summoned a baby Owlbear (from where I dont know). Medb drew her glaive and stabbed at a ghoul who swatted the polearm away.
Artanis started sling more spellsa around, and Fatina prayed to a god who listened—-The undead creepers were blasted black and holy light shot down into their feet, pinning them where they stood. Fatina then prayer aloud and called for Arfellen to get up, and then prayed again, sending a blast of holy fire at the Ghouls surrounding and chomping on the newly re-awakened Paladin. Knowing Arfellen needed help, I ran to him, and summone a large cloud of darkness, extending to at least ten feet in each direction. Arfellen and I were completely invisible to the freaks then—of course that also meant Arfellen couldn’t see. But I could. It was my cloud after all.
I turned to the nearest wounded Ghoul and blasted a crossbow bolt into its skull as it knelt down trying to get its bearing. It quickly hit the ground, quite dead. Arfellen stood up, and blindly charged away, seeking out another ghoul that was on the outskirts of the battle. He did pray and heal himself before hand. The ghoul climbed to his feet as Arfellen swung, and he missed it enitrely due to its sudden jerky movements. The ghouls in the darkness were not done with him. They charged in his direction, probably following his holy scent. I reached out and punched it in the face as it ran past, and I spun and did the same to another, nearly crushing the rotting skulls of them both—leaving black good on my gloved fist. They both tore away at Arfellen, but he was able to deflect the attacks. Medb ordered Arfellen to keep up morale and he was rejuvinated despite the trauma going on against him. She then fired her bow at a ghoul still pinned by holy light, then with a triumphant shoutm ordered Dreth to charge the pinned ghouls, numberint at three. He began to hack away at them.
Artanis began calling down lightig bolts from the sky, striking the ones surrounding our Deva friend. Arfellen, still wounded was healed by a prayer to the heavens cast by Fatina. I remained shrouded in darkness and started taking shots at the ones near Dreth. My first bolt, took ones head clean off, and Dreth, using the the distraction, cleaved anothers skull down the middle, then backed up, and charged at the remaining of the three, hacking into it, causing it to screech and black blood to spray him in the face. Arfellen, finally began to connect with his attacks. He took down a persistant one that was going for his throat, and shield bashed and sliced ones torso asunder, taking his tally up to two. One ghoul remained and it decided to claw Dreth in his legs, stopping him from running after it should it flee. Well that didn’t matter because Medb told Dreth to finish it, and our slayer of evil did just that.
Taking a momentary breather, we surveyed the area. In the distance was an intact mountain. No other land marks took precedence, so that is where went. As we arrived, we found another Dwarven archway with more runic script. I assumed none of us took the time to ask the ghouls how to read runes, so ignoring it, we walked through and into a cavern; or may the gods forgivem, an underground city. It appeared as if it used to be a Dwarven Kingdom. Dwarven arch and all.
Far off in the distance a pinprick of light caught our attention—why not? We headed to it and found a temple. The door was cracked open and a pulsating light shone from within. Dreth opened the doors and walked inside. We followed and there we found an altar, and on it was the haft of a Dwarven weapon. A GLOWING haft. Hey look—treasure. Time to grab it and get out.
Of course it wouldn’t just be that simple. Dwarven skulls (you can tell cuz they are square) littered the rubble covered interior. Slowly we all entered and I stuck to the shadows and along the walls, making sure to be as silent as night. I stopped by a door that looked damaged—too damaged too open,a nd I trained my crossbow around the corner, just waiting for a skull to reform into a skeleton so I could fire at it.
Just as the others approached the altar a spectral image formed above it, then it molded into a winged Dwarf with a blank face. Not expession. I mean face. It had no features. No eyes, nose, mouth, or even ears for that matter. In its hands it held a rather large mallet. A large glowing mallet.
It said nothing until Artanis began to speak to. It cut the Eladrin off and bellowed, “Leave here mortals. There is nothing here for you.”
What a liar.
Then it must have thought it’d be funny to cause a quake and knock us on our asses, because it did just that, and attacked no further. We stood and Fatina yelled to it, “We are here to bring back the Gods.”
Wait, what? Since when was that our plan? We didn’t need the gods help to get rid of the Nine Hells. Dad sure as heck didn’t.
The angel laughed, “Moradin is dead. Once a god is dead—It is dead. They are not like mortals. They CAN NOT come back. It is the way of mortals to seek the power of the gods. Leave here.”
Knowing Captain Soot wants some kind of fragment of power, I could see this angel was gettin in our way. After one of us, geniusly asked it to leave, it roared it would never leave until the power of the fallen deity Moradin was entirely gone. Then the fragmented island would vanish and it would return to the Astral Sea. It clearly stated it had no use of human emotional responses, or opinions when asked by Arfellen who it thought of tea and krumpets. Well, he might as well of said that because it did not care.
Then he said, “Do not cast your faith aside. Moradin will walk the planes again.”
I really must have missed the memo on wanting to bring back the gods. Which, even I knew as impossible task.
“You must prove yourselves if you wish to take this haft.” It said. Arfellen didn’t realize it meant by battle from his response… But im sure he got the picture whent he angel lifted its mallet and holy flames engulfed it.
Oh nice. Special FX.
Medb shot a holy flame at it, and the flame fizzled off of the angelic being. Arfellen, seeing it for how it was, challenged the angel to take him on alone, who responded by smacking him in the chest. Arfellen skidded back, then slashed in retaliation, sending sparks flying off of the celestial armor. Dreth, following his one step plan in battle, slashed at the angel, doing same as it tried to bring its mallet up to parry. Artanis summoned a phantom of shadows and it reached out touching the mind of the angel. I pulled Id Moss Powder from my pouch and blew it at the angel as well—the angel took it into its aura as it came close and it gripped at its head in pain—its mind was being affected. Medb called for the dimensions to open and a clone of her appeared beside her, liftng its shield. Medb then fired, and as per usual, missed. Who could blame her though? Angels are tough bastards.
Just when we thought it was going to be simple…. the angel summoned FOUR more angels. Exact duplicates. Dreth responded by a swing and a miss. Arfellen, up to bat did the same. Time for some poison. I pulled out my Carriron Crawler Brain Juice—mmm yummy— and applied it to my blowgun darts, then I turned and fired at an angel point blank, right in it’s faceless head. It was dead on, and it floated backwards from the force (they dont have legs). Then I threw a bola at it, taking out its wings and collapsing it. I got up and moved close enough to where he couldn’t run…err…float fast at me and attacked. Medb still focused on the lead angel, exploting a weak point in its armor, and Dreth swung at that point and connetced. He turned his blade sideways at the last second to avoid killing it. Oh bless his heart… damnit. The angel I knocked down, rose up, ignored me and went after Dreth. pounding him in the shoulder. Arfellen followed his normal plan, swinging and missing. Perhaps he didnt have it in him to hurt his cousins, but he did pray enough to mend some of Dreth’s bruises. Then he prayed, putting his hands to his own chest, healing himself too.
I shot another angel point blank, and assassinated it quite thoroughly. Medb attacked and teleported behind me—the non-defensive guy, claiming she wanted me to do just that. Then yelled at Arfellen to attack the angel, and he missed.
Suddenly the original angel’s voice boomed throughout the temple, “Brothers, defend the haft!”
Two more angels appeared in the back. I yelled at Arfellen, who was near the altar, “Grab the haft, you fool! This challenge may not be to just kill them all!”
Then as Arfellen grabbed the haft a blast of radiance engulfed him and he seemed to resist it—blessed be the angel—and he raised it above his head, and yelled, “I have it!”
As soon as he did that, all of the angels vanished and all went silent. Having a feeling (as the ground began to rumble) that the haft was the last of Moradin’s power holding the island together, we quickly evacuated. Arfellen was planning on making a replica of the haft… probably not a good idea to give it to Captain Soot—we needed it more likely than not. We could make a weapon and take out maybe a lord of hell with it. But the others decided we should be honest with Soot. I pictured her face and agreed.
So we went back and showed her. She allowed us to keep it for another exploration job. I think she just liked having us around…