Wednesday, 3 July 2013

When Gods Collide...

After defeating Hyacintho’s kraken, and driving the invading force back, our three adventurers, along with Alia the Stubborn and Alan the horse, find themselves on the Vutha Kepesk (the Black Storm), off the Aesian coast.

Dallas Kasaboski

“We need to get back to Eldengarr, Hyacintho’s capitol. You heard what they said, in 4 days something big is happening.” Tong said, brushing a lock of hair from his eyes.

“Agreed. Kalgar, the ship is yours. Is she sea-worthy? Or should we have joined them in the life rafts?” Alvyn asked.

“She’s taken quite a lot of damage, but she still floats, for now. We have no powder and we’ve lost 2 cannons. A little work and we should be fine, but we can continue that on the way. Tong, grab that line! Hoist that sail! Alvyn, grab that wheel, turn it all the way to the left!”

“What am I, a sailor now?” Alvyn asked, with a smile on his face.

Over the next couple of days, the crew made their way while making their repairs. Kalgar spent most of his life aboard ship, many years aboard this ship, so he knew quite a lot about what needed to be done. Tong worked and listened, always happy to learn new skills. Alvyn made notes and listened with rapt attention, always scribbling in his notebook.

In the mornings, Tong and Alia trained aboard deck. Tong practiced his precise forms while showing Alia disciplined ways to apply strength. Thankfully, no masts were broken in the exercise. Kalgar spent most of his days talking with Alvyn and fixing the ship, taking turns to steer and command on the upper deck.

The wind was exceptionally strong, guiding them toward Hyacintho and on the 3rd day, the crew found Kalgar up in the crow’s nest. His hands raised to the skies, he was yelling but his words were lost in the wind. Behind them, Alvyn, Alia, and Tong could see a massive storm front. The wind whipped hard and snapped the sails tight. The lightning crashed and the water swelled behind them, all making them move with incredible speed. They could hear Kalgar laughing between thunderclaps.

With a heavy thud, he landed on deck. Alvyn raised an eyebrow.

“Hey, uh, what’s going on? You alright?”

“Me? Never better! With Kord’s help, we are making good time.”

“Yeah, but, how are you doing?”

“Fine, I said.” Kalgar made his way to the front of the ship, taking in the smell of sea salt.

At one point, the waves rocked the ship a little too much for Alvyn’s liking.
“Kalgar? Maybe you should tone that down, our repairs are still ad hoc after all.”

With a nod, Kalgar closed his eyes and the storm, while still present, calmed a little.

The third day dawned, and Alvyn spent most of it working below decks. Coming up later in the day, he called Tong and Kalgar together. In front of them was a bench, on which was a mass of something under a sheet.

“Tong, you may have noticed that your psionic kii focus is missing.” Tong gasped as he looked down under his robes and noticed just that.

“Well, I noticed that you use a lot of psionic energy, but that some of it was missing, some of it leaked out. So I made you this!” And as he pulled back the sheet somewhat, he handed Tong his focus, which had an extra piece attached. Putting it on, Tong tried channeling psionic force through it. As usual, the components in the centre spun and glowed blue in their intensity, however this time, the extra piece glowed and spouted some blue ethereal energy as well.

“That should help you direct your energies a little better.”

Tong bowed quite emphatically, thanking Alvyn for his compassion, and his knowledge.

“Now, you,” Alvyn looking over at Kalgar, “your armour is a mess. It’s falling apart and we can’t have that. Frankly, the more hits you take the less I take, so, I made you this!”

Pulling the sheet back the entire way, they stared in awe at the blue-black plates of armour. The light, shining from the west, caught the edges and made them shine, while the centre of each piece was almost reflective.

“And don’t worry, I attached this so you wouldn’t drown!” Alvyn pulled a cord under the back plate and a balloon filled up, larger than Kalgar.

Kalgar stared at it for some time, as Alvyn pulled another cord, drawing the balloon back in.

“Try it on!” Tong said.

While the sailors of Aes didn’t normally wear heavy plate armour, Kalgar was familiar with it. His military training had been quite intense and he had learned the uses of most weapons and most types of armour. Quickly, precisely, he donned the armour.

Alvyn whistled.

The armour looked quite formidable on Kalgar, and he admired the way it felt; it was lighter than expected. On the upper left side, in Common, was a collection of ornate insignias and Kalgar Drakeswynd’s full name. The armour was similar enough to the Aesian style, but also remarkably different.

“Alvyn, this, this is wonderful! I am at a loss of words here. How did you make this? Where did you make this? I didn’t think we had anything onboard. This is well made and I am very thankful for this gift. I wish I could have something to give in return.”

“Well, it’s not that selfless of a gift. Like I said, the more hits you can take, the less I will. So, just, stand between me and the big guys, okay?”


On the 4th day, the Vutha Kepesk made its ways into Hyacinthan waters. The shoreline was approaching, but there were no other ships present. Tong was the first to spot the capital and pointed out the storm clouds above it.

“This is strange, no patrols, no fishing boats, nothing.” Kalgar observed while coiling some rope.

“It seems we’ll have an easier time getting there than we thought.”

And it was just so. There ship pulled into harbour and while there were many ships around, no one was on board. Alvyn suggesting nesting among the fastest ships, which Kalgar pointed out.

Assembling everyone by the upper deck, Alvyn said, “Alright. Here’s the plan. We need to disable the fastest ships here. If we cause trouble, we’re going to need to make a break for it and I don’t want these catching us. Since there’s no opposition, we’ll make our plans and then go ashore.”

Kalgar handed a line to Tong. “Here, can you hold this?”

“Yes”, said Tong.

“Can you jump?” Kalgar asked.

“Yes”, and when he did, Tong swung out between the two boats and landed on the next ship. With a hard thud, handaxe in hand, Kalgar landed beside him.

“Tong, you’re with Kalgar, Alia, you’re with me.” Alvyn commanded.

Kicking out the anchors, cutting lines, and heaving barrels of black powder up from the hold, Kalgar and Tong worked to disable the ships at port. Working quickly, Tong was barely able to catch and place the barrels at pace with Kalgar throwing them up from the hold. When they finished, the moved to the next ship.

Following behind them, Alia and Alvyn placed the powder in specific patterns, dictated by Alvyn. Using a combination of alchemist’s fire, black powder, and some canisters, they were able to make a concentrated pile of explosives which, when ignited, should both give them enough time to get away safely, and direct the blast to do the most damage.

Moving their ship, Tong told Alia to stay on board and the remaining three went ashore. Lighting the long fuse, they watched the sparks crawl up the boat and catch the first ship. One after the other each exploded with a fiery blast which rocked the waters of the harbour. Still, no one came to arrest them.

Just like the port, the nearest stores were empty. The market was closed, no one was around, yet still the storms loomed overhead. There was no damage to the booths; the shopkeepers simply had left them.

The Temple of Rayden was not hard to find. Standing well above the rest, it also seemed the centre of the storms. The crowd here was packed cheek by jowl, awaiting a ceremony from the front altar. The ground was blue marble and wide, yellow lines ran from the altar down throughout the crowd. Alvyn pointed it out and the three avoided touching them. They could feel power emanating from them. Suddenly, Alvyn really wished they had brought Alan.

“Tong, can you message Alia? Get her to bring the horse here?”

“I can try.” Closing his eyes, his mind slipped behind the veil of what is seen, and what is unseen, and he appeared, once again, in the white wispy clouds of the Reverie. Sitting there, alone on a cloud, was Alia.

“It is done.” Tong said, and they made their way forward.

Bumping, ducking, backflipping over people, the three made their way toward the front. The crowd, which had been talking and murmuring now became silent as a priest walked out.

A high priestess of Rayden, Genasi, obviously storm-souled, she wore ceremonial robes, her skin a pale blue, and the crystalline hair a glowing yellow. She raised her hands to the sky and thunder boomed. On her hands were flat discs with a spike sticking out of each of them.

“You have all gathered here to witness Rayden’s power! For too long, Rayden has had to deal with the false praise of the so-called lord of storms and battle. For too long, we have sat by and let this heresy continue. But no longer! Today, we are going to prove once and for all that Kord is nothing more than a shadow, a pale imitation at best, and that Rayden is the true storm lord!”

The crowd went ecstatic, cheering, shouting, and jostling each other.

“Here”, and the priestess pulled back a cloth upon the altar, “lies the body of Kord. We have found him, and now, Rayden is going to destroy him. But, Rayden is a just god. If Kord can prevent his body’s destruction, we will take that as a sign of his strength.”

The crowd gasp, some cheered, Kalgar froze, his eyes widening. There, upon the altar was a large man. Kalgar was not close enough to the front to see details but the man was big and he featured bright red hair, the same as legends told.

Alvyn was making his way to Kalgar, about to suggest a stealth approach.

“You want a challenge? It’s right here! I challenge you, and Rayden’s power, you shall not commit this heresy!” Kalgar shouted.

So much for stealth.

“Ah, it seems that Kord’s followers are among us still, and who might you be?”

Alvyn made his way to Tong, who had been flipping off walls and now stood, precariously balanced on one toe, on the head of a human. Alvyn made a sign that Tong should make some room. The human looked up, surprised to find Tong there.

“I am Kalgar Drakeswynd, proud to fight in Kord’s name. His strength is mine, and my sword is His, and I will not allow such a challenge to go unanswered.”

Farther off in the crowd, Tong leaned over the man on which he stood and said,

“Shoo! Move!” Clapping his hands, the crowd moved away from him, concerned for his sanity.

Alvyn shook his head, and threw one of Kalgar’s handaxes. End over end it flew and as the priestess was about to answer Kalgar, it cut her in the arm.

Kalgar drew his sword and javelin, Tong brought his forearms together and with a combination of intimidation and psionic energy, the crowd parted. Alvyn shouted, “Let’s go! If it bleeds, we can kill it!”

The priestess smiled, leapt down from the altar and raised her hands to the sky. Lightning flashed and the yellow energy lines glowed brighter. In several spots where lightning had struck, spheres of electrical energy hovered, sparking. They began to advance toward the party along the lines.

Tong leapt forward, his speed belying his greying hair and he brought his knee up to strike the priestess. Alvyn circled around, keeping his distance and called out tactics. To Kalgar’s and Tong’s surprise, the sound advice allowed them to strike faster, and harder. Alvyn brought his war-pick out, flipped it over his shoulder, brought it up to his eyes and loosed a shot.

It struck the priestess in the leg, making her unable to move. Kalgar brought his katana to bear, and while he hit, she managed to stab her spiked gauntlets into his forearm. Thunder boomed, rain began, and the energy lines pulsated.

Flipping down a set of goggles, Alvyn took a closer look at the priestess. His suspicions were confirmed.

“We have to get her off the lines! She’s drawing power from them!”

Tong swept his leg out, but managed to hit nothing as the priestess removed the spike from her leg and moved out of his reach. Kalgar called out to Kord for strength and as new thunderclouds raged overhead, he pursued the priestess. However, she slipped away, eluding him as well.

Safely out of reach, the priestess yelled something and the spheres disappeared and appeared in front of the party. Kalgar’s heart thumped as hard as the thunder ahead and he raised his javelin, Bad News he called it, to the sky.

“Kord! Strike this fool’s constructs down! They are barely worthy of our attention.” And above, the two types of clouds met, swirled, broke apart, and lightning struck all around in front of the party. Not striking the orbs, the thunderous waves destroyed them in an instant.

“Not bad, dragonborn, but you follow a false god.” The priestess called new orbs and attacked both Kalgar and Tong before slipping away again.

The Genesi smiled at Kalgar just as an arrow hit her in the shoulder. Fledged not with feathers, but with a piece of glass, it blinked red. Pulling it out of her chest, she looked at Alvyn.

As Tong made his way toward her, he had the delight in seeing the fear creep across her face as Kalgar, 300 plus pounds of solid muscle, teleported behind her, summoned by Alvyn’s arrow.

Turning toward her, Kalgar whispered. “You know, I used to be afraid of storms. Every sailor is, they bring down ships. But, Kord’s strength has become my own. Rayden’s power is a trick, and it ends now.”

And with both hands on his katana, he swung it around from left to right. The priestess put up an arm to stop him but whether her foot slipped off the energy lines or if Rayden’s strength failed her, she wasn’t sure, her eyes widened, and Kalgar sliced through her arm and severed her head from her body.

Leaping up and off the altar, Alvyn caught her head in mid-air. Seeing Alia and the horse, he waved them up front. Kalgar took the body and gently tied it down. Alvyn climbed up and perched on the body, on the horse.

 “This”, indicating the severed head, “is the face of ruin! Your faith is your own, but to follow those who would use it to lead you face first into war is to invite oblivion!” Alvyn waved the head across the crowd.

“If you refuse to wake up, and to strive for peace in these war-ravaged times, I can promise you, you will die. And these”, he pointed toward Kalgar and Tong with the severed head, “will be the ones who will kill you. I don’t ask you to give up your faith, only that you take care in whom you put it in.”

Tong and Kalgar looked at the body on the horse. Heavily muscular, with a giant red beard and flowing red hair, the body looked asleep rather than dead. Tong looked up to Kalgar and asked, “Is it Him?”

Somehow, in Kalgar’s heart, he knew it was. He nodded.

Tong looked aghast at Alvyn as he stood perched upon the body of a god, as they made their way across the ruin of battle.

“We can build a better tomorrow...and if any of you have a gumption of common sense, or want to learn some, meet us in the Crimson Fields in two months time!”

As Alvyn climbed down, Tong looked between Alvyn and Kalgar, “You’re going to let him just stand on your god’s body?”

“Body’s just a shell Tong, you said so yourself.” Alvyn said.

“But, it was Kord’s shell, Kalgar, I, I can’t believe you would allow this.”

Kalgar, taking all of this in said, “This was the body of Kord, I’m sure of it. However, he has no need for it now. It is still due all the proper respect, but I think we can move past this.”

“Damn right.” Alvyn said.

“But, His body will be treated with respect.”

Placing the body over the horse and tying it down, Kalgar looked at the crowd. While the look of shock was slowly wearing off many of their faces, many had looks ranging from despair to aggression. Kalgar looked over at one dragonborn who had daggers for eyes and said, “The challenge was met, and an honourable one. There is no shame in this.” The dragonborn cast his eyes downward in defeat.

“So, uh, what happened here?” Alia asked.

“You know, same as usual.” Alvyn answered.

At that moment, Tong, limping along, the burden he carried seemingly weighing him down, sprouted his ethereal wings and said, “They must be made to understand.”

Bringing out the Codex Caduceus, he floated several feet into the air, and waved his monastic teaching archive. A pulse of blue energy seemed to be absorbed into the archive and in a burst of radiance, books exploded into view all around them. In a pile on the altar where the body had been, flying down from the heavens themselves, hardcover books flew a little too briskly toward the ground, hitting people, windows, and dumbfounded faces alike.

“Read this! It will teach you much, you have much to learn.” Tong announced, as the party exited the crowd and continued toward the docks.

“Did you just letter bomb those people?” Alvyn asked.

“What? Oh, I guess. I imparted knowledge to them, they were in need of it.”

“Hopefully, they can gain some wisdom as well, only next time, maybe we won’t have to kill someone and damage their homes to do so.”

“Change has its costs too, they’ll be fine, come on, we have to get out of here.” Alvyn reached in his bag and placed his hat upon his head. Black, fur-lined, it bore a single, subtle Doomguard symbol in the middle. It made Alvyn look quite formidable.

It was a quick sail to Chalybs and despite Aurum’s armies sitting outside the city-state, the channels were still open. Sailing up and docking near the north end of the quay, they disembarked.

Alia said she had some errands to run and asked to borrow the horse. Kalgar had wrapped the body of Kord in an old Aesian sail and packed it within his own backpack. Following Alvyn, they made their way farther into the city. At one point, Alvyn suddenly changed course as he remembered that the Doomguard facility had been moved. Spotting the subtle signs, he led the way.

Making their way underground, they came upon an almost empty room. Other than the door, there was a long mirror on the other wall.

“Are you sure this is where we’re supposed to be?” Kalgar asked.

“Positive. Hmm. Let me think.”

Tong walked up to the mirror and stared at it. He had changed quite a lot in the last 2 years. His hair was getting long again and his beard was quite impressive. More salt than pepper, his hair added to his bent back making him look quite old.

“Maybe...” Tong reached forward to touch the mirror, only he didn’t. His hand went through into nothing. Then his whole arm went through.


Alvyn rushed over, pulled Tong back and said, “Me first, just in case.”

Alvyn walked through, followed by Tong, with Kalgar taking up the rearguard. They emerged into a similar, but different room, this one with no door, just the mirror again. Once again, the mirror showed no sign of the other room. Alvyn and Kalgar studied the walls, Tong inspected the mirror. There was nothing behind it, and the walls were well made, but there was nothing special about them.

Tong grabbed the mirror, placed it on a different wall and walked through. He was back in the original room again. Coming back, he muttered something about life and illusions.

Suddenly, Alvyn had it! He dragged Kalgar and Tong back into the first room, placed the mirror over the door and stepped through.

There sat Tribulus, in a dark hallway.

“Finally,” he said.

“Nice room,” Alvyn replied.

“I have some things for you. Here is Vex’s research, some things he was working on before, well, you know. Be careful with that one! It has some pretty powerful rituals and components inside. Also, here’s a key, to the Doomguard vault at the Crimson fields.”

Alvyn examined everything quickly and carefully. Vex had several powerful rituals, many beyond Alvyn’s knowledge, at the moment, but he also seemed to be working on a device to contain and house arcanic power. “Oh Vex, you brave fool you.” Alvyn said.

“Before you go further, you should know that there have been a few changes. The Doomguard seems to be split into 2 factions. Many feel that the Vex situation was sad, but that it doesn’t change anything. However, there are some who feel that perhaps these weapons we’ve been collecting and destroying, maybe they could be used for good.”

“I see,” said Alvyn. “And just how large is this second group?”

“You’re looking at it.”

“Well, boys, I hope you don’t mind being rebels.” Alvyn said with bravado.

Kalgar and Tong looked at each other, the one an outlaw from his own country, the other, worse.

“Tribulus, do you have anyone who serves in the Temple of Kord?” Kalgar asked.

“A few, one in particular, why?”

In as few words as possible, Alvyn explained the fight in Eldengarr, while Kalgar showed the evidence.

Tribulus’s normally unexpressive face raised both eyebrows.

“This way.”

Leading down a few twists and turns, the group came to a rather large room. Inside, there was a desk with papers upon it, some candles, a lot of floor space, and a warforged.

“What! What is it doing here!?” Tong asked.

“This is Galvin, High Deacon of the Temple of Kord.”

If it was possible for warforged to appear friendly, Galvin would qualify. He stood up from his desk as Alvyn made their introductions.

“I’m Talar Alvyn. This is Tong zi Gong of the Canitian monks, and Kalgar Drakeswynd, formerly of Aes.”

Kalgar gripped Galvin’s forearm in the Aesian manner, showing and testing the strength of both. The warforged seemed gentle, almost too gentle.

“ works for you?”

“With. I work with the Doomguard.”

Tong’s face was flushed. His cheeks puffed, his entire body was shaking with a different kind of energy than normal. “Unnatural! Metal man, this is wrong!”

Alvyn raised an eyebrow, “Tong, stop being racist.”

“It’s NOT a race, Coalgazer!” Tong replied, nearly stammering.

“What Tong lacks in manners, he makes up for in strength. He can punch through trees!” Alvyn diplomacized.

Galvin was impressed with this. “Can you hit me? I’d like that.”

Tong’s mood changed as quickly as light ripples off a pond. Surprised, happy, angry.

“Oh, I could, metal man., mustn’t, you eat?”


Tong pulled up his robe, pointed at his belt of discipline, “Hmngg!” he said, and pointed from his eyes to the warforged.

Tong was torn, clearly he wanted to hit Galvin but he also didn’t want to touch him. While he eccentrically tried to decide, Galvin looked over at Kalgar, and said, “Want to spar?”

 “Sure.” They danced around each other a little, the warforged attacks were gentle.

“Come on! I can take it! Stop trying to hit me and HIT me!” the dragonborn challenged.

The warforged almost smiled and as he brought his fist to bear, it knocked Kalgar to the back of the room. Smiling himself, he leapt after Galvin.

“Fine.” Tong said and swung his fist around. Galvin turned toward Tong, Kalgar backed off just as Tong’s fist smashed into the chest plate of the High Deacon. A sizable dent was left.

“Impressive. Most impressive.”

Tong, looking a little happier with himself said, “Look, just, we’re NOT making any deals with you, understand?!”

Galvin turned, hit Kalgar, who spun around, hitting the warforged with his pack. It slid open and the bulk of what was inside spilled out.

“Okay, well fought. But, there’s something I have come to tell you. We...we found the body of Kord.” Pulling open the sail, he revealed the body of the man, still peacefully resting.

Kalgar explained the fight with the priestess.

“Well, I don’t think it was mere chance which led you to this fight.”

“Here it comes,” Alvyn said, with his hands out to the sides. Gnomes have pure black eyes so it’s hard to tell when they’re rolling them, but this gesture Kalgar and Tong had seen before, and it meant the same thing.

“What was it?” Kalgar asked.

“The will of Kord, of course.”

“Of course.” Alvyn said.

“A challenge was put up, you were there to answer it, in Kord’s name. That is not coincidence. You were obviously tasked with this, so you must decide how to end it. I have no advice for you, but I warn you that the body of a god is not only sacred, but dangerous. Many would fight for this prize.”

“I understand.”

“We should lock it up.” Alvyn suggested. “It’s dangerous, as he said. We can’t have people knowing about it or having access to it.”

“This is the body of a god! You can’t just file it away on a shelf!” Tong said, regaining some of his composure from earlier.

“It’s a body, nothing more. Kord doesn’t want it, else why leave it? Or, maybe he has left it, so he can come down and take it up again. It’s either useless or dangerous.”

Kalgar thought for some time. “Kord obviously values it. Even if he never uses it again, I honour and respect such a warrior. But it is dangerous. Too many don’t have wisdom these days. Okay, can we lock it up in the Doomguard vault? It will be protected, but if Kord wants it back, he can get it.”

“He can try.” Alvyn said, pulling out a cigar.

Kalgar gave Alvyn a stern look, Alvyn didn’t mind.

“In the meantime,” Alvyn said, “we should be resupplying the ship, speaking of which, Kalgar, you should change that name. It wouldn’t be very good to have a thought-sunk Aesian ship sailing around. Good to meet you Galvin, I’ll see you all later, I’m going to find Trixie.”

“Deacon, I’d like to accompany you to the temple. Alvyn...I...”

“I know. You have a proud story to tell. We may work for a secretive group but we don’t exactly do covert. Be careful with the specifics, go have your fun.”

And as they parted ways, the sombre Doomguard hallways were filled with laughter and boasts coming from Kalgar and Galvin as they shared tales of their adventures.

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