Thursday, 18 July 2013

Transition to Paragon

Kalgar, Tong, and Alvyn had just been told about The Long Game; its rules and its players. They had

Dallas Kasaboski
been asked to work with Mercury in order to act as arbiter of the rules, to ensure the game does not get out of hand. Marked by Mercury, she waited to see if the three had any questions.

(We’re backtracking a little as we wanted to make sure the players understood the rules and content before moving forward)

“I have a question,” Kalgar spoke up, “Why aren’t you playing?” he asked Mercury.

“Someone had to keep order.” She replied.

“Yes, but why you? What do you get out of all of this?”

She did not answer, but changed the subject.

“There are some things I’d like you to look into, when you get the chance. I have not heard from a few dragons in some time and this worries me. I would like you to investigate what they’ve been up to, but in no particular order.”

“Which dragons?” asked Tong.

“Black, who was last seen in Niger, hasn’t been seen in some time, although lately accounts of undead seem to be on the rise. While there aren’t rules against the use of undead, I think you’d agree that such an army would be bad for the world.”

“Foul creatures”, Tong said, shaking his head.

“Next, there’s the Copper situation in Cupro. As you may know, the country is surrounded by mystical statues. These prevent dragons from entering or leaving. As such, I have not been able to get in, and when last I heard, there were many half-dragons claiming to be the rightful heir of the copper line. This could pose some problems.”

“The Orium dragon was last seen somewhere deep in the jungles of Aerugo researching ancient civilizations, some older than the dragons.”

“The Bronze dragon of Aes has continued plans with their Abyss generator, and Ruber’s men seem to have found out about this.”

“Oh good.” Alvyn said.

“And finally Purple. No one has had contact with this dragon in 800 years. Presumed dead by most players, however, I’m not so sure.”

“Why?” Alvyn asked.

“Well, purple dragons like to live underground, and deal with mind-control.”

Tong, Alvyn, and Kalgar looked at each other and remembered.

“The mind-eaters!” hissed Tong.

“What?” Mercury asked, raising an eyebrow.

“Nothing important.” Alvyn quickly stepped in. The party remembered the journey underground, to investigate the remains of the Dwaven empire. They also remembered running into an Illithid, a mind-controlling creature with a squid-like face who almost killed them last time.

Kalgar scowled more than usual, remembering how one of those creatures dug its tentacles literally into his brain and almost had him kill Alvyn and Tong. While he had a score or two to settle with them, he wanted to know more before they went in again.

Making their way through the battlefield was not easy. Corpses were everywhere, jutting up from the snow in odd ways.

“The voices may be gone, but the memories remain.” Tong said, remembering tragedies from his past.

Alvyn, seeing the look of dismay on his friend’s face, asked, “Do you like gum?”

“What?” Tong asked, shocked by the question.

“Chewing gum. Do you like it?”

“I...what? I think so. I don’t know if I can have it though.”

“Well, you’re not allowed to eat or drink, this is perfect! Here, I’ll make more later.”

Handing Tong a stick of chewing gum, Alvyn could see that Tong was delighted and distracted by the taste. As silly as this was, Alvyn understood Tong’s way of thinking; incredibly focused at times, but could be easily distracted.

Alvyn and Kalgar, used to the tidings of war for their own reasons, looked through the bodies. Most were poor sellswords with nothing more than cheap armour and cheaper blades. Kalgar recognized a warmaster’s tent ahead and led them to it. Pulling back and ripping the canvas, they found a few objects of interest.

The first, was a set of golden armour, set with gems and rubies. Seemed to have been made for a small human, it would be worth some money somewhere.

The next was a set of drums. Alvyn’s magical knowledge recognized them as a bard implement with an interesting ability. Once per day, its rhythmic tones could inspire soldiers to quicken their pace. Likely used to get the Brass Company moving as fast as possible.

The last oddity was a small, wooden box. Simply made, but beautifully so, it featured a few symbols on it. Kalgar almost passed it by, but Alvyn sensed its magical nature.

“What is it?” the dragonborn asked.

“I think it’s a summoning box.”

“What does it summon?” Tong asked, trying to blow a bubble in his gum.

“Well, it would be dangerous to just open such a box...”

Kalgar and Tong, hearing his tone, took a step back.

“...I mean after all,” he opened the box.

Above him appeared a goliath. It towered above Alvyn, and then fell forward. Rolling between its legs, Alvyn turned around and took a closer look. Dead, missing an arm, the goliath had seen better days.

“Hmm, seems the creature is still tied to the box for some reason. I wonder what happens if...”

Alvyn opened and closed the box. The goliath disappeared and reappeared in front of the box, and fell once again.

“Cool, I’m going to hold on to this.” Alvyn said, pocketing it.

With nothing more of interest to be seen, they walked back toward Canitia. The Thunderhead, their airship, was nestled at the old Canitian monk temple, and they were looking forward to getting back and seeing how their crew had fared.

Tong, Alvyn, and Kalgar had been rather quiet lately. They had learned a lot and were still processing it. One day, (relating to the end of last session), Tong stood up at the campfire, and dramatically exclaimed, “I understand, I finally understand!”

He pulled the Edge of Sanity off his back and stabbed himself in the chest. Dragging it downward, he opened a hole into himself. Instead of blood, Alvyn and Kalgar saw brilliant white light. Tong then grabbed the Codex Caduceus, and stabbed it into the white space. In a flash, Tong disappeared.

“Is it weird that I don’t find any of this strange anymore?” Alvyn asked.

“We’re weird people.” Kalgar answered. “I wonder where he went.”

In an explosion of light, a man appeared before them. As the light settled down, they noticed his features more clearly. Young looking, muscular, swirling white robes, and white hair. Not long and shaggy as Tong’s had been of late, but short, perfectly coifed looking like crystals. His robes covered his mouth, and his eyes were aflame with blue light. In his hands was not a sword, and not a staff, but both! A long, white quarterstaff-like object, embossed with symbols and glowing as the man himself was. On the top, suspended by...nothing it seemed, sat a single flower.

“How long was I gone?” Tong asked, his eyes glowing upon every word.

“Um...seconds?” Kalgar replied.

“What!? It has been two years! I have gone on another great journey.” And with that, Tong proceeded to tell his friends of his adventures.

Hearing whispers from within the Reverie, Tong sought out answers to questions he didn’t know he had. Trained for years that the Reverie was the higher plane of existence, he had expected to know its secrets now that he was a fully ordained Canitian world monk. However, whispers drove doubt into his heart.

Realizing the truth to the riddles concerning tools and weapons, he learned that he was a bridge between worlds. He was the bridge between the material plane and the Reverie, but there was something else. Stabbing himself in the chest with both his implements, he was taken to another plane of existence.

All around him sat past masters of Ioun’s order. Thousands of generations gathered around and celebrating his ascension. In the middle, laughing among the rest, was Ting Tang Wong Gong.

“Ah, you made it, finally! What took you so long?”


An ethereal stick shot out and hit Tong on the ear.

“What have you learned? Nothing! Here, we all are masters, and so, there are none. You have entered a higher existence. Look!”

Tong looked down behind him and was stunned, for below him, under a veil of domed, clear glass, was the Reverie. White mist of knowledge flowed down from this place, into the Reverie but while he could look down, no one below could see him.

“You finally have learned the ultimate secret behind weapons and tools. A simple question, asked 12 years ago, and you finally understand it now. Here, we are closer to Ioun than you know.”

Looking up and around, Tong saw a ziggurat, a tall tower resembling the Canitian temple. However, as that one was inverted, this one was upright. Tong understood, the temple itself was a symbol of how the material plane is not the proper plane, the one where true knowledge stemmed from.

Above, a dome inverted toward him, the sky seemed a bubble on the edge of the universe. The stars above were magnificent and he realized that this place was between the Reverie and the Astral Sea, home of Ioun and beyond.

“You thought the discipline sticks in the Reverie were bad, oh...” Wong Gong said.

To Kalgar and Alvyn, Tong had been gone for seconds, but to Tong, he had been training for two years.

“I return to you now, with more knowledge and training than ever before. I have seen beyond the beyond and returned to share this with you all. I am Tong zi Gong, world monk, Mist Knight of Eidolon.”

Standing there, looking quite proud, his robes shimmering like smoke on the water, Alvyn said, “Cool, want some more gum?”

Laughing it off, they continued.

Every sunrise and fall, Kalgar kneeled to commune with his gods. Raised on the teachings of Melora and Kord, Kalgar sought their wisdom and strength. A regular practice, Alvyn and Tong had gotten used to Kalgar’s ritual. Saying a few quiet words, Kalgar would pour water, laced with salt, upon his head, and drink some as well. Sometimes, Kalgar’s ritual was a little louder, when he wished to evoke the storms, but this time, it was very quiet.

Alvyn, tinkering around with his warpick, looked up and noticed that Kalgar was still kneeling, saying nothing. His rituals did not usually run this long.

Tong, having the same sense walked over. Kalgar seemed asleep, but was still kneeling. Suddenly, he was sweating, then a cut appeared on his brow and he started bleeding.

“What?” Tong asked, and Kalgar was listed into the air. A column of water surrounded Kalgar, and he floated in it and the air.

“Oh no.” Alvyn said. He rushed over to his pack and grabbed a few things. “Here, Tong, jab that in there, into his mouth!”

“What, Alvyn, I don’t know if we should interfere, I’m sensing a lot of divine influence here.”

“Divine influence that will drown him, now do it, I’ll plug his nose.”

Climbing up on Tong, the two of them worked together to get air to their friend when suddenly the water churned, flashed with light. The human and gnome were knocked back.

Looking up, they saw Kalgar turning in the air, eyes still closed, and silvery copper wings ripped out of his back. With a cry of pain, Kalgar’s eyes were still closed as the column of water disappeared, and he fell gently to the ground.

He opened his eyes.

“Kalgar, you’ve awakened!” Tong said, his face mere inches away from Kalgar’s.

“I did not realize I had fallen asleep.” Kalgar said, a little groggily.

“No! I mean you awaken spiritually!” Tong said, his eyes glowing in excitement.

“You alright?” Alvyn helped Kalgar to his feet.

“Yeah...I, I saw Kord.” Walking back toward the fire, Kalgar told them the tale, which can be found here.

Over the next couple of days, things progressed as naturally as they could with this group, with some changes. Tong’s morning rituals, Iounic forms of discipline, were initiated not alone, but this time, Tong held his staff outward, and it swirled around him. White mist formed, and whether it was the Reverie coming here or here going to the Reverie, the other two were not sure, but Tong was able to create a space for training and brought initiates with him. With heavy kicks, punches, and devotion, he continued his training.

Meanwhile, Kalgar struggled with his wings. They were huge, expanding out quite a lot, they were new muscles and he did not know how to move with them. Several times, they got in his way, blocked his view, caused his balance to be shifted. They were infuriating, but Kalgar was proud of the gifts bestowed upon him by the gods so he kept working at it.

Mercury, watching his training, said to him one day, “You know, if you would like, I could provide you with some pointers, I have some experience here.” Punctuating her words by allowing her wings to flap out beside her.

Alvyn, while cooking dinner, had a terrible thought. They knew Mercury was a shapeshifter, and a dragon, but it had never occurred to him before that the clothes she wore must also be an illusion. Thinking about how she was essentially naked, Alvyn’s face contorted in disgust.

Nearing the border of Canitia, Mercury whistled for her wyvern. The trip had been a quiet one and she left them without a word. Alvyn, Tong, and Kalgar were glad to see her go.

It was a short trip to the former Canitian temple. Nearing the camp, Tong saw one of their crew, a human, squatting in some bushes. “Kalgar, let me show you this new technique I have learned.”

Alvyn and Kalgar saw the man, stepped in front of Tong.

“Whoa, whoa. Now is not the time.” Alvyn said.

“Maybe we should find someone a little more prepared.” Kalgar said.

Tong leaned over Kalgar and said, “You, prepare yourself!”

“Tong, trust me, there will be plenty chances to show me later.”

Back at camp, they were first greeted by the dwarves. Working at a table, one held a small cube in his hands. It had wires and gears inside and all around it and looked complicated. Alvyn studied it, recalling his arcanic and dungeoneering training.

He sensed a great deal of magic from it, but his dungeoneering knowledge failed him. He couldn’t identify the metal, and wasn’t sure what it would be used for.

“What are you making?” Kalgar asked.

“Pfft.” Replied the dwarf.

“That is not an answer.” Said the dragonborn.

“Pfft.” Replied the other dwarf.

Frustrated by their monosyllabic nature, Kalgar leaned over one and with all of his intimidating prowess said, “Tell. Me. What. It. Is.”

The dwarf looked up, his world shadowed by Kalgar and said, “pfft?”

The other dwarf laughed and showed them the box. He explained that they had been working on a few things. The first was a power source and battery system for the ship. This way, they could store power if needed, for a short time.

The next item, this box, was a more personal affair. Fearing the Illithids, the mindflares, the dwarves had begun working on a prototype to block out psionic power. They knew their ability to dominate opponents was the mindflare’s strongest ability.

“This box should, will?...” he looked at the other dwarf, “will block out psionic ability and will, no,” looked again, “yes, should not block Tong’s abilities. Problem is, it will only work once.”

“You should make more.” Kalgar and Alvyn said in unison.

“This is a prototype.” The dwarf said, handing over the box.

Alvyn was impressed, and said so. “How did you get past the resonating problem?”

“Oh that was simple, we...” Kalgar left, not interested in technical jargon.

Riding his horse Alan, Kalgar quickly found Dwight and Haymich, sparring against one another. Skidding his horse to a stop, he was amused by Dwight’s look of awe.

The two humans looked up to see their dragonborn mentor with new, giant wings, riding his horse.

“How? When? Whoa, that’s so cool!” Dwight said.

Haymich scowled, as usual.

Kalgar dismounted and said, “Report.”

“Things go well here. The others are coming along in their training. The other dragonborn are much better than when you left.”

“And our security?” Kalgar asked.

“We haven’t seen or heard anything since you left, all seems secure.”

“Then explain to me how 3 warriors, one on horseback, were able to make it all the way to camp without even being questioned by a sentry?”

“I...umm...” Dwight faltered.

“We recognized you. Let you pass.” Haymich spoke up.

Kalgar looked at him and realized they had done well.

“Very good. I am impressed by your efforts. We will continue our training later.”

Making to turn, he knew the others were very curious about his wings but didn’t want to ask.

“I have been in contact with Kord.”

The two humans raised both eyebrows.

“My devotion and hard work have paid off, and I have been tasked with great responsibility and power. I was honoured and will continue to fight for Kord’s teachings.”

Kalgar noticed that through all of this, Haymich continued scowling.

Kalgar looked at Dwight, back to Haymich. “Is there something wrong with you?”

Haymich said nothing.

“Because your face seems to be locked in a rather down, negative way, all the time. What is it?”

“I think he’s jealous, I know I am.” Dwight said.

“I don’t see why I have to tell you.” Haymich said.

“Is that any way to solve problems, by avoiding them? Out with it!”

Haymich stayed quiet.

“Tell me, why do you two worship Kord?”

Dwight thought about this for quite some time and finally said, “I’m not sure, it just feels right.”

“And you, Haymich?”


“Well, I’ll tell you how I came to worship Kord. The teachings in Aes, while thorough, are not as personal as they might have been in the temple. We were taught the ways of battle, and we were taught that pleasing Kord and Melora, brought us success. However, when I left Aes, I realized there were more truths in Kord’s teachings, truths which the rest of the world seems to be forgetting. Strength is important, but so is wisdom, and we should never use our strength for wanton destruction. I made a vow a long time ago that I would help spread this message, to promote the responsible use of strength.”

“I think your time in the temple of Kord back in Chalybs might have been good, but I have learned things in the real world that they rarely teach in temples. I have learned to temper strength with experience, and I have learned truer meanings to honour and strength than I ever did back home. I would like to impart my lessons upon you, and to anyone else who will listen. Are you interested in learning from me?”

Dwight nodded, quite empathically.

Haymich said nothing.

“Haymich, do you know what a tsunami is?”

The human shook his head.

“It’s a giant wave, a shipbreaker, and it moves with incredible speed in one direction. But, in the end, it’s just water. Water, made of tiny droplets, coming together to do great things. I think we could work together that same way, but this silence, it does not help. You almost seem angry with me, if so, what is it? Why did you come here?”

Haymich looked Kalgar in the eyes and his scowling face was met with a dragonborn’s fist.

“Come, let us pray, you and I.” Kalgar said, dancing around a little.

Haymich took the hit and sat on the ground.

“What in the Nine Hells is wrong?” Kalgar asked, growing impatient.

“You killed my brother!” Haymich said.

The fields were silent.

“When? Where?”

“The temple of Pelor, you remember!?”

Kalgar recalled. Instructed by Baelfire to gather magical weapons, Alvyn, Tong, and Kalgar found themselves escorted to the temple by Baelfire’s guards and told to get the honoured undead killing weapon used by an ancient paladin.

“Your brother was one of the guards?”

Haymich nodded.

“That was a regrettable incident. We had larger powers at work and it was not an easy path to take. I did not want to be involved with that, and I tried to resolve the incident peacefully.”

Kalgar remembered trying to persuade the priestess and guards to stand down, but they would not listen.

“The guards made that fight a mortal one, they raised the stakes and would not back down. They died honourable deaths, fighting for what they believed in. If we could all be so lucky.”

“Do you want revenge? Is that why you’ve come?”

“I don’t know...I just, wish I had been strong enough.”

Kalgar nodded, and sat down.

“Ah, the bitter wine of weakness. I know it well. Take a seat, please, the two of you. You mustn’t blame yourself, or rather, you must learn how to use those feelings. You know my words? Strength must be checked; weakness is its own punishment. That has many meanings.”

“Weakness is its own punishment. That means we don’t punish those for being weaker than us. In fact, we want to help them get stronger, so we can work together and fight greater battles later. We want to continually push our limits and allow them room to grow. But, weakness isn’t a bad thing, it’s a state of being. Instead of punishing ourselves for being weak, we have to channel that frustration, that rage, into the dedication to get better. We have to learn from our mistakes, grow, and prove our might to Kord, but also, to ourselves.”

“I am sorry for your brother’s death, but we stood on the field of battle, and he knew the price he wagered. I wagered the same. I cannot bring him back, but I can help you to learn to channel the feelings you have now to something greater. I can help you find a path, and together, we can help others gain strength and wisdom. Haymich, you have 24 hours to decide. Should you wish to leave, we’ll help you and provision you. But, if you’re willing to try, I think we can help bring out the potential you’re scowling behind.”

Kalgar mounted Alan and galloped away.

Inside the temple, Tong brought out his staff and as he touched it to the floor, the white mist of the Reverie appeared. His disciples appeared and he continued their training.

Outside, Alvyn was working on a few things. When Kalgar rode up, Alvyn handed him some food.

“How are things?”

“Good, all reports good.”

“Anything unusual?”

“Haymich might be leaving?”

“Oh? You scare him?”

“Not exactly. His brother was one of the guards in the Pelor temple.

Polishing a piece of metal, Alvyn said, “Oh. That going to be a problem?”

“No”, Kalgar chewed his food, “I gave him until tomorrow to decide. He can leave if he wants.”

Suddenly, the two heard loud shouts from within the temple. Rushing inside, they passed by Alia, in a room of her own, training. In the main chamber of one floor, they found Tong hard at work. The other monks, or monks-to-be, were not more than white, ethereal spirits, but Tong was fighting them like they were true flesh and blood. He seemed to have well in hand, and was just sparring with them, but his attacks were fast, and brutal. Many of the forms, some human, some elven, showed signs of injury quickly.

“Enough! We are done for today.” And with a tap on the floor with his staff, Tong dismissed the group.

“Impressive Tong.”

“Yeah, but, is this a remote practice?” Alvyn asked.

“What do you mean?”

“Why is Alia in the other room, shouldn’t she be here?”

“She’ the other room?”

“Yeah, training, like you were.”

Tong leapt up and rushed past them. There, he found Alia brushing herself off and still in one of the side rooms.

Tong stopped, realizing much had changed, and some had not. In all his efforts, he had, in his own way, forgotten about Alia. For him, he had been gone for two years, but for her, he had been gone a few weeks and was eager to continue her training.

Tong thought about it, wondered why he had set her aside so easily. He remembered that her master had taught a more aggressive version of the lessons of the monkhood. He had sensed her aggression before and he had not approved. Without intending it, he had ignored her because of it.

Seeing her now, and realizing she had given up her former life to follow him, he walked over, grabbed her by both arms and said,

“Alia! I am sorry. It is I, Tong, I am back. I have neglected your training, but it was because I had many things to learn. I am sorry. If you’re willing, we can work more closely together.”

Meanwhile, Alvyn and Kalgar were standing in the hallway. Recalling Alia’s talk earlier, about how she wished Tong would learn not to channel certain energies elsewhere, Alvyn made a rude gesture.

Alia blushed and turned back to Tong. “Together, we can work as one flesh, one soul, we can harness great strength and use our combined knowledge to,” here Kalgar made a face at Alia, “to achieve greater things, what do you think?”

Alia ignored the others and looked at Tong. He had changed a lot and while it had shocked her at first, she took a liking to this new look. She smiled at Tong, placed a hand on his and nodded. Tong said, “Tomorrow” and rushed from the room.

Alvyn and Kalgar looked at her, she tried to ignore them. Kalgar’s normally scowling face took on a dramatic change as he raised both eye ridges in a look of feigned shock. She laughed and told them to go outside.

The next day, they packed everything aboard ship, and prepared to make way for the Fields of Ruin, the Crimson fields, where the Doomguard vault was.

On the way, Alvyn contacted Trybulus using his Send ritual. All he got back was this reply, “Doomguard not to be trusted, they don’t trust you.”

Sighing, Alvyn contacted Quarion, and received this reply, “Ah, hold on, not the best time.”

A few moments later, he heard, “There, just had to bandage my thumb, I was busy you know!”

“Sorry. So, what’s going on over there?”

“I don’t know. I’m a cook.”

“You’re the cook, everyone eats and everyone talks, so spill it.”

“Well, Lilianna has a lot of influence here.”


“So, everyone is upset about the Vex incident, and what she says is what everyone believes.”

Alvyn let that sink in.

“What is she saying?”

“That his death was your fault and you’re not to be trusted.”

“Are the Doomguard after me?”

“I don’t think so, but maybe. I’m sorry Alvyn.”

“Yeah me too. Listen: Vex’s death was my fault. I had to make a choice, and apparently I made the wrong one. You keep your head down and be careful.”

“You too.”

Standing at the prow of the ship, no one could see the look of anger on Alvyn’s face. He contacted Lilianna.

“You’ve been telling everyone that Vex’s death was my fault. You’re right. I had to make a choice, and I’m starting to think I made the wrong one. But, there’s more going on than you know. You can judge me all you want, but nothing is going to stand between me and the protection of the people of this world. If you send your agents after me, they won’t be reporting back to you. I’ll leave you to interpret that. Don’t trouble me, and I won’t trouble you. Because if you do, I will make you regret it.”

He received no reply.

When he turned around, there was an old man standing on the ship, with his hands behind his back. The Oracle.

For those of you who forget, the last time we saw the Oracle was at the Canitian hunt. He had foreseen certain events and told the party to prepare themselves. After their talk with Mercury, they knew him for what he truly was, the Mithril dragon.

Alvyn prepared some tea, put it in a teapot and brought the cups over. He approached the Oracle from behind but before he was able to say anything, the Oracle turned around, grabbed a cup, and said, “Thank you for the tea.”

“You’re welcome. What are you doing here?” Alvyn asked.

“I wanted,” the Oracle ducked as a bird flew just over his head, “to talk with you.”

Tong came up from below decks, over to where Alvyn and the Oracle were.

“Alia, you have the con.” Kalgar ordered, giving Alia the chance to take the wheel of the Thunderhead.

Alvyn sipped his tea. “What about?”

“About the Game, and about Mercury. I have been seeing many possible futures, but I have not been able to see Mercury lately, or her role to play. I am not sure why...”

“I know”, Alvyn interrupted, “think about it. Why would you choose to be the arbiter in a game where everyone else is likely to fight to the death? She has been standing outside of the game, and is learning all of the weaknesses of the others.”

“Indeed, but I should have foreseen that.”

“Except the first thing she would do is to find a way to cancel out that ability.”

“True, you make a good point. She has also found a way to shield your futures from me.”

Tong looked at his hand, still freshly tattooed with the Mark of Mercury. “Curious.”

“I need you to keep an eye on Mercury, she’s dangerous.” The Oracle said.

“Well yeah. So are all of you dragons.”

“I have seen great things to come.”

“Let me guess,” Alvyn counted on his fingers. “Adamantina is about to end Albus, forcing the White dragon into the open. Ruber, recently nearly defeated is both a prime area for conquest, and dangerous in the fact that they have nothing left to lose. Aes’s work with superweapons is going to continue and they’re probably going to use that on Hyacintho, and Aerum is likely to fully siege Chalybs. Anything I’ve missed?”

“No, you’ve covered it.”

“What is your part to play in all of this”, Tong’s eyes glowed as he asked the question.

“He wants to win the game, of course!” Alvyn reproached.

“No, I want to end the game. I am tired of it. I have been working, over the past 1000 years, to carefully subvert the game. In every scenario I have seen of the outcome to this game, there is nothing but death and destruction left in the world. I would like you to keep an eye on Mercury, and I will be willing to give you information should you need it.”

And with that, he simply walked off the edge of the ship.

“Well, that was interesting.” Tong said.

“At least he seemed willing to help. And doesn’t want to play the game.”

“Seemed, is the world. Of course he wants to play the game, because he’s a dragon and he thinks he knows what is best for all of us.”

“So do you, Alvyn.” said Tong.

“No, what I know is that these dragons made up a game wherein they would fight over who had the right to control all of you. We’re all pawns to them.”

“Fine, at least he didn’t kill us, that make you happy?” Kalgar asked, growing impatient at Alvyn’s grim attitude.

“Yeah, actually, I think in all the encounters we’ve had with dragons, that’s in the top two.”

“What about that time Mercury killed Verius, that was good.” Tong added.

“Yeah, I should write her a letter. ‘Dear Mercury, thanks for killing Verius, he was a dick. Also, thanks for murdering all those innocent other people too, I hate you.’”

“Maybe you should save that for later.”

“You think?”

“Yeah, in a different card, maybe.”

“Maybe you’re right.”

Kalgar chuckled through all of this.

They soon came to the Crimson fields and set their ship down just outside of the vault. Alvyn, Tong, and Kalgar collected a few things, at Alvyn’s request, and put them aboard ship.

“So, where are we going next?” Kalgar asked.

“To the Purple dragon, we have to deal with those mindeaters!”

“Not right away Tong. We need more intel and there are bigger threats right now.”

“You’re right. I think we should help the people of Albus.”

Alvyn raised an eyebrow. “You heard the Oracle, that place is done with. Adamantina has invaded, they have like, what? one city left?”

“Which is why we need to help them, we need to help their people get out, the fight is unfair.”

“You remember that the place is run by a dragon, right? Do you also remember what the people were like there? How they were treated? They were dirt-poor farmers with no chance to protect themselves. Their king, the white dragon, did nothing for them, didn’t care for them at all. I feel your pain, but those people are done for and we don’t have the strength or resources to take on that threat just yet...although...”


“Although, we could slow them down a little, and we might kill two birds with one stone.”

“Why do you want to kill birds?” Tong asked.

“I just mean that we could do two things at once. Weaken two threats.”

“What do you have in mind?” Kalgar asked, seeing a gleam in Alvyn’s eye.

“Remember the city-sized golem we saw on the CWNN report? The one Adamantina was going to use to end Albus? If we got a hold of an Aesian superweapon, say, an Abyss generator, we could unleash that on the golem, disempower Aes and Adamantina at the same time.”

Tong and Kalgar sat in silence.

“That sounds excellent. Most efficient.” Tong agreed.

“I don’t like it.” The dragonborn said.

“You never like my plans.” Alvyn teased.

“It’s just that this plan calls for the use of a superweapon. Those things are unpredictable, and dishonourable. One thing I plan to do someday is stop Aes from using them. They’re not paying the price for victory, and not only does that make their victories worthless, that amount of uncontrolled power is terrible. I do not want to be part of such a plan. I see the tactical thinking behind it, though.”

“Good, because I don’t need your permission.” Alvyn stormed off.

Kalgar moved after him, easily outpacing him. He wanted to say something, but he wasn’t sure what to say. Alvyn’s dedication to the protection of people was adamant, but Alvyn’s passion bordered on obsession. Kalgar worried that they were growing too powerful and the one thing he feared was that they would do something horrible in the name of peace. To give in to your enemy was a total defeat, in Kalgar’s eyes.

He stopped and said just loud enough for Alvyn to hear, “I’ve seen this kind of unwavering devotion Aes.”

Alvyn stopped. Twitched his head a little, and kept walking.

After they loaded the cargo, Kalgar walked over to Alvyn. “Look, I am sorry for doubting your plans. It’s just that we are dealing with some pretty big things here and I’m not always prepared for that. This plan of yours, I do not like the idea of just opening up a portal to the Nine Hells and unleashing its evil on Adamantina’s soldiers. This kind of behaviour is exactly what is wrong with Aes, where the theatre of war becomes just that, theatre. These weapons are dangerous, unpredictable, and likely to hurt innocents. If we do this, we have to bring the fight to them, to only them, and they need to know the taste of defeat.”

“Kalgar, it’s not going to be as easy as dropping a bomb on the golem. We’re likely going to have to get this thing deep into the golem’s chassis, and set it off AND escape. Not to mention getting the weapon will be dangerous enough as it is. We’ll have to evaluate the situation when we get there, and I too don’t want to put innocents in harm’s way. These Adamantine soldiers are ready, and should be, and if we catch them unaware, that’s their fault.”

Feeling better, if not convinced, Kalgar got everyone aboard ship, ordered the lines to be loosed, and in one smooth motion, the Shocrosia leapt into the air and on to battle.

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