Friday, August 19, 2011

EPISODE 57: The Banewarrens, Epilogue

Augustar 22-23, YE 754

in the control room, Now possessing both the Sealing Rod and the third piece of the Staff of Shards, Early the warblade, Emeris the shadowcaster, Dziga the rogue, and Vatex the urban ranger make their way down the Spire as quickly as possible.

Halfway down the Spire, they rendezvous with Saggarintys, the silver dragon. He has brought the Baneheart's warding generator back online using one of the diamonds provided by the companions. The strange arcane machine hums with internal energy.

Saggarintys says there is one generator left to reactivate. Unfortunately, this one is found at the Broken Seal area -- and the dread osyluths, released from the vault containing them, have spread through the Outer Vaults like vermin.

Fortunately, there is another way -- Saharasahla's teleporter will take them to the library, and they will be able to enter the Banewarrens through the umber hulk tunnel beneath Oldtown. So long as the osyluths have not spread to that point, getting to the generator should not pose a huge problem.

The companions teleport to Saharasahla's library and to Oldtown and rush through the umber hulk tunnel, showing past the Holy Order guards watching the Old Manor. Saggarintys marvels at the city that has grown around the Spire since the days of his great ally, Saint Danar. He shudders when he looks upon Jabel Shammer, which remains the region's most defining feature.

Back in the Banewarrens, the heroes gather around to protect the dragon while he begins working on the generator. An hour passes in tense silence before the first group of osyluths comes upon them. They are driven back... but only temporarily. Over the course of the next grueling 24 hour period, several more groups of the the devils attack. Given that killing one causes it to split into two fresh, fully healthy osyluths, it is an arduous defense. Early and Vatex hold the line while Dziga and Emeris support.

Finally, Saggarintys manages to get the generator back online. With the warding matrix reestablished, the group uses the Sealing Rod to close the outermost door.

There is only one final step to seal the Banewarrens for good -- destroy the Hand of Danar aka the Banewarrens key, which is the sole existing item that can deactivate the wards on the Sealed Doors.

Early takes the final piece of the Staff and attaches it to Yaeshla. He feels Cryssaegrym pulse with happiness -- but to his surprise the Silver Blade has one more requirement -- the Staff must now be sundered yet again! Birth, death, rebirth, death, etc... Such is the brutal cycle of nature. This is the natural order that Cryssaegrym, a physical embodiment of the Silver Wolf's power, cherishes so much, and wishes to preserve in the face of Kyuss' threat.

Early's hesitantly reveals to Yaeshla what he must do... and to his surprise, Yaeshla reveals that she knew this was her destiny from the beginning. However, she also reveals that striking the Banewarrens key with the Staff will likely result in an explosive release of arcane power.

For a moment, but only a moment, Early thinks about reconsidering this task before him. Will he be destroyed? If so, what will happen to Cryssaegrym's mission to destroy Kyuss?

The heads back down the tunnel. Early decides he will smash the key in the umber hulk's former lair, and hopefully the cavern will contain any explosions or calamities...

The group plaintively says "so long" to Early, and they worry they may not see him again. He says not to worry, and disappears into the umber hulk cave with the Staff and Cryssaegrym in hand.

Early braces for impact, grips Yaeshla in both hands, and smashes the Banewarrens key. His entire world turns white.

The other three companions, with Saggarintys, head down the tunnel to put some distance between them and the warblade. After several minutes, a massive explosion tears through the cavern ahead of them. The tunnel is filled with choking dust and debris.

When the dust settles, they see the umber hulk tunnel has completely collapsed. There is no trace of their friend. He is buried somewhere beneath a million tonnes of stone. There is nothing they can do other than return to the surface.

Later, they bid Saggarintys farewell. The silver dragon thanks them for their help, and departs to find a place for himself in this world, which is almost entirely new to him.

Vatex, Dziga, and Emeris briefly consider whether they should keep the Sword of Lies, or turn it over ot the Holy Order. They reason it will probably make them a target for powerful forces -- both arcane and divine, something they don't want to deal with right now. They deliver the sword to Sister Mara at the Grand Cathedral. This removes the quest spell from Emeris, and his servitude comes to an end.

The Rosegate Company's adventure in the Banewarrens is over. But as they consider new ventures for themselves, they wonder if their friend Early survived? And will Dziga's shadow companion ever return?


No human could have survived the tremendous power released by the Staff of Shards at the moment it struck the mummified Hand of Danar. Yet Early did not feel like he was dead. Whatever had happened, it was not like when the Pactlord gnoll ranger had shot him down. Yet he did not feel quite... alive, either. But where was he?

There was no sign of Yaeshla, but he possessed all his other gear and, most importantly, Cryssaegrym. He was on a cliff overlooking a massive jungle that stretched horizon to horizon. There was no sun or moon, only a strangely silvery sky. He could see animals of huge proportions wandering around in the valley below. No sign of any civilization.

Early holds up the sword before him. He had done everything the sword wanted. He had meditated beneath the full moon in the forests outside Elan. He had mended the soul of Yaeshla and broken it once more. He had put his faith in the sword and the importance of its quest to destroy Kyuss. So was this his reward? Not more power unlocked from Cryssaegrym, but being lost in a jungle with giant animals?

"Damn you, Cryssaegrym!" His uncle had written to him, saying Cryssaegrym wasn't worth it, and if did not satisfy the sword's hunger for power, he would be sorry. Maybe Vegard had been right.

Then, just as the thought of tossing the sword off the cliff in anger begins to enter his mind, a huge form bounds up on the cliff behind him, emerging silently and suddenly from the treeline. Early turns -- standing before him is a huge wolf, 40 feet long, with a thick coat of coarse silver fur, two tails, and eight legs.

Early remembers this big creature from his dream, the night he completed the least ritual of Cryssaegrym. It makes a gesture with his head, beckoning him to follow as it bounds down from ledge to ledge, moving down the cliff toward the jungle. Early follows, jumping with superhuman skill.

At the jungle floor, the wolf begins to run. It crashes through trees and clears a path for Early. The warblade begins to run after it, following in its wake. At first he feels like he will never catch up, it is so much bigger and faster. But he knows he must follow it. He lets him mind relax, and the Vajra flows through him, and he knows he is alive and his quest to stop the Age of Worms is not over. He enters the Absolute Steel Stance, and runs even faster after the giant silver wolf.

By the time the wolf breaks through the line of trees onto a vast open plain of silvery grass, Early is right beside it. Together they ran and ran. It could have been days, or weeks, or months. Early did not know. But he did not care. The wolf did not communicate, but somehow Early knew this was all that mattered right now.

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