The Battle is done.
Silence settled over the Palladine estate as the fallout of Bahamut’s essence spread through the vale.
The other gods mourned as could be seen by the never-ending snowfall and the sudden resurgence of plant life to the ruined landscape.
Meanwhile … and previously
Shanna and Dinnan had made their way to the edges of the forests near the old hills safely but the forest was swarming with demons and on fire. The trees were resisting the fire with the help of the elven community living within, who also were busy hunting the demon invaders.
Shanna and Dinnan slew all the demons that crossed their path as they made their way towards the heart-tree of the elven community. They hooked up with several elven hunting parties as they strategically withdrew back towards the center of the forest. The elves formed a ring around their heart tree and the tree-speaker himself as the demons started to surround the community and the trees really started to burn.
The elves prepared to face their final fate as divine energy blasted through the forest vaporising all the demons and extinguishing the fires among the trees.
The elves knew that the danger was over for now and they chose to celebrate. Dinnan decided to stay end enjoy the elves company and be part of the revelry. Shanna knew that there was more to be done and shouldered her pack heading south towards the other Shields.
At the Palladine estate the inhabitants clustered in small groups trying to understand the amazing events that had just occurred here. The Shields too were still stunned and slowly began to take in their surroundings.
Myrcinda Goldspinner and several bodyguards from Hammerfast were there. Captain Nathan Farringray and several adjutants were there. The halfling merchant, Bairwin Wildarson, and Captain Rond Kelfem from Winterhaven were there. A contingent of Orcs from Gardmore Abbey were there. Forest elves were there. Lord Kobol from the Academy was there. Iron Circle generals were there. Elves from the south-eastern continents elven nation were there.
Saran was no longer there. She had once again faded out at the call of her Lady.
The peoples were ushered into the mansion to the main hall as Chef came over to greet the Shields. He had quiet words with Victoria quietly sharing their grief over Uncle Bastien and ’Tianna. He wished the Shields the best and left to make his way to the citadel, carrying greetings and news from ’Droth to his grandfathers.
The Shields headed into the mansion and were directed down the hallway to the main hall by several of the farmer defenders. At the halls double door stood several of the estate’s guardsmen who tllted their spears and opened the hall’s doors for the Shields. They entered into the hall to see Victor and Juliana Palladine at the head of the hall on their large chairs while around them were the cheering faces of the smallfolk and nobles whom had been rescued from the demon incursion.
The Shields made their way down the hall and were all warmly greeted by Juliana and had their hands shaked by Victor. They were all offered seats and the people in the hall were seated.
Victor stood before them all and spoke “I was concerned and upset when Victoria chose to not follow the family’s tradition of being Paladins of Bahamut. I was worried as I heard of the companions she had chosen to ally herself with. I was wrong. This day we have been shown the bravery and loyalty of her Shields. This day we have been shown Bahamut’s belief in Victoria as his disciple. We will not forget this day. Miracles occurred and the cost was unimaginable.
Victoria and her friends still have much to do. I love you Victoria and I will not doubt you again.”
“To the Shields” he shouted.
“To the Shields” yelled the hall.
The Shields gathered in Victoria’s rooms upstairs. They had all been offered a room now that the people were leaving the mansion to head to their homes, in the case of the smallfolk and guards, or back to their homelands, in the case of their visiting dignitaries.
Nesh received a sending from Lord Commander Xinto “Halva is due. You need to come here”
The Shields discussed the Goblinoid army heading through the Vale to get here and Nesh’s disturbing message. Plans were made and the Shields went to sleep.
The snow still gently fell through the night.
Next morning there was a Shanna knocking at the door.
Shanna shared an awkward hug with Victoria and greeted the rest of the group.
Shanna was filled in on what happened and considered the implications of the effects on nature.
Flea had divined that so much God’s power being released had affected the environment and that it would probably be that way for several months.
Shanna divined that Melora, goddess of Nature, was crying at the loss of her brother.
They were both right.
Under the light coating of snow, plant-life was still nourished and repaired and grew itself towards Pelor’s life-giving light.
The Shields left the estate early and without fanfare on Berredin’s phantom steeds. They made their way out of the sheltered valley and headed North-West towards Fallcrest. They spotted the horde moving towards them and waited for the vanguard to reach them.
The hordes General, Grokken Gronchek :) , came forward to parlay with the Shields. Now that the immediate demon threat was gone the goblinoids planned to continue south and cull the Gnoll and Demon infested ruins of the old Nerathi empire.
The Shields asked for a sitdown with the general and his top soldiers. Bugbear and Hobgoblin colonels arrayed themselves in a semi-circle facing the semi-circle of Shields.
The completed circle discussed the horde’s movements. The Shields gave the 5000-humanoid strong army 20,000 gp in copper pieces, silver pieces and gold pieces to pay for food and other essentials on their journey. The hobgoblin was also asked to pull-out his soldiers laying siege to the orcs of Gardmore abbey. Grokken acquiesced and promised to not pillage any communities on their journey from here onwards. The Shields gave 2 of their phantom steeds to the bugbears that would ride to Gardmore Abbey to hasten the end of conflict there.
The Shields rode to the Academy and pulled up before the locked gates. The crier announced them in his own fashion and Lord Commander Xinto greeted them as they came through the opened gates.
Halva had been 3 months into her 6 month expected term when overnight she had almost come to term. The Shields went to her chambers encountering Grik in the foyer. Grik, Nesh, ’Droth and Berredin stayed outside to catch up and drink dwarven ale while Flea, Shanna and Victoria went in to see to Halva.
Halva’s belly was definitely distended more than they expected and the room was filled with ambient divine energy. As Victoria put her hand close to Halva’s belly, gossamer strands of energy passed from Halva’s belly through Victoria’s hand and up her arm into her body.
Halva was ready to give birth. She clenched Victoria’s hand but was feeling little pain as the energy still flowed between the two of them. Flea and Shanna assisted in the childbirth and within a few minutes Grik’s daughter was born. A half-Orc child.
Shanna and Berredin both knew that this was unprecedented. Tiefling blood ran dominant in all births. Tieflings only bore full-blooded Tieflings. Grik felt that his manliness was enough to change that :)
Berredin pondered and came to the conclusion that Bahamut’s diffusing essence had broken the connection to the devil-pact that the tiefling’s had long ago made with Asmodeus. He wondered how far the effect would go and if it would mean the end of Tieflings as a race if it did cover the whole world. Berredin kept this to himself. No reason to overshadow Halva’s moment.
Victoria caught up with her sister Helena who was attending the Draconic Academy in her first year. Nesh was introduced to Helena, who was quite surly about Victoria’s accomplishments feeling that it was making it difficult for her to make her mark. Nesh took her for some drills to burn off some of her teenage angst. She was not too badly bruised by the experience.
The Shield’s spent some time with Grik to congratulate the new father and then they climbed aboard the Gleaming Endeavour and sky-sailed to the Dwarven floating citadel.
It was their goal to regain Icicle. They parked on one of the two landing pads, the other pad holding the gnomish balloon vehicle that Stasi had been given.
They were met by ’Droth’s real grandfather who had come out of his coma last night. He pointed out the Hammerfast irregulars that were training on the parade ground. Shanna went to talk to Captain No-Beard who was happy to see the Shields and seemed happy with his lot.
The Shields made their way to the control tower where Stasi and Dargrim worked to upgrade the Citadel. The Shields were curious if the dwarf-forged could power the citadel in place of Icicle or whether an elemental wizard could be used as a power source. Unfortunately they would not provide sufficent enough power for the task. Stasi was asked if there were other options. Stasi mentioned the Flame Imperishable, a Gold Dragons ever-burning heart that was supposedly still burning in the ruins of old Nerath’s capital city. He had been considering an expedition to retrieve it. Shadrach, Rez’zine and Cerulathillian were now on their way to recruit Phazen Stormbellow to accompany Stasi on the mission.
With the demon threat ended Dargrim decide to land the citadel and return Icicle to Victoria so the Shields would be fully armed for the trials ahead of them.
The Shields headed to Hammerfast to re-supply, gather their wits, rest and recover, and figure out their next objective.
Shanna spent time in Moradin’s temple to see if she could reconnect to Melora. ’Droth also spent time in his cell there in between arranging for the restoration of his ancestral home. Some … incentives needed to be offered to convince the builders to pull their finger out. Victoria was called before the guildmasters of Hammerfast to explain the events at the Palladine Estate and discuss the new alliance forged there [except for the Iron Circle who were considered unreliable].
Victoria visited Bahamut’s temple and revealed the bad news of Bahamut’s demise to Harmon , the temple’s head cleric. Harmon was stunned at first but decided to keep praying. Several days later Victoria heard rumours that Harmon had healed someone at the temple. Victoria went to the temple and found Harmon conducting an enthusiastic sermon to a large group of people about Bahamut giving his life to protect the world and through faith how people could get Bahamut to return.
Victoria chatted to Harmon who revealed that he had received some of his spells. He was not able to cast some of his more advanced effects but had been supplied some divine energy.
The Shields decided to go to Thunderspire Labyrinth, to the seven-pillared hall of the Mages of Saruun, to find Razor and get back Shadowhunter, the dawnforged battleaxe once wielded by Grik.
After five days rest in Hammerfast, the Shields travelled to Thunderspire Mountain located several entryways under the mountain and journeyed deep under the mountain to the seven- pillared hall.
The seven-pillared hall was a large chamber above the ancient Minotaur ruins of Saruun Khel. Built over sewer grates and the undergound cave-lake system within the mountain a large shanty town of market stalls for Duergar, Drow, Svirfneblin, Dwarves, adventurers and entrepeneurs surrounded a large stone building 80′ × 80′ with a central open doorway in each of the walls, in front of which stood 9’ tall Great Axe wielding stationery Bronze Minotaurs.
The Shields moved through the markets towards the building. Shanna spotted Razor within the building eating and drinking with several Drow women. He was not expecting trouble.
The Shields surrounded different entrances to prevent Razor escaping while ’Droth and Shanna went inside. The building had serving counters running around the entirety of the inside wall where food and drink could be obtained. Bench seats ran up and down the food hall filled with eating and drinking humanoids. In the center of the room was a large blue teleport circle covered in runes which the patrons avoided.
‘Droth moved down an aisle towards Razor. Shanna stared hard at Razor and then jumped on one of the serving counters. Faster than most patrons could see, arrows flew from Shanna’s bow at the unsuspecting Elf.
Four arrows in as many seconds struck him in the chest leaving him stunned. Razor was horribly injured and badly bleeding and shook off the shock of the sudden attack. Shanna fired two more arrows into him sending Razor backwards off his chair gasping from his arrow filled neck. He died quickly.
‘Droth looked at Shanna in shock." He wasn’t armed, he didn’t even know we were here."
Shanna replied, " that wouldn’t have stopped him doing it"
’Droth spat out " That is meant to be the difference between us and him" He shook is head.
Then there was pandemonium. Patrons screamed as a purple energy covered the doorways and the Minotaurs became active. Several robed figures within the building stood raising rune-covered wands towards the killer. One of them fired a purple ray at Shanna blinding her.
The Shields that were outside found that they could not pass the purple energy walls. Bronze minotaurs disappeared from their stationery positions to reappear within the building’s teleport circle and moved aside towards Shanna and ’Droth.
Flea grabbed the leg of one as it teleported and appeared inside with it. It struck at him and marked him.
Shanna was struck by one as another Minotaur moved to cover an underdark adept of Saruun who was being threatened by ’Droth.
Berredin had found a nice display table of pretty magic items and commenced to haggle with the owner. He was quite enthralled by their beauty.
Nesh teleport charged inside to face a Minotaur. Victoria oathed the underdark adept, threw her spear at her and teleported to Icicle. A mage of Saruun took cover at the other end of the room among the fleeing patrons and began casting magic missiles at the blinded Shanna.
Shanna cleared her eyes and engaged the mage as the building started to shift and lower itself into the lake below. Water started to fill the building very quickly. The room became very difficult to move in and Flea had to stand on a table or drown. He put on a ring which allowed him to move and breathe underwater.
The Minotaurs were not affected by the water and continued to target the Shields. Nesh saw that the many patrons were likely to drown at any moment. He yelled out.
“We surrender. Don’t kill these people. They did nothing wrong.”
A loud sibilant voice came from a device on the ceiling twenty feet up. “then drop your weapons.”
Shanna dropped her bow into the water from the table she was standing upon.
“I will need you to put Thundercrack, The Rod of Portals, Icicle, Flameshadow and Gods’ Bane onto the teleport disc.” said the Squid King Ovaad Zeer.
“Then you will all die here” the Squid King replied.
Nesh yelled at the Mage inside with them to help or they would die as well. The Mage was cowered into submission.
‘Droth turned Gods’bane into a long spear and tried to brace the entranceway to prevent them sinking further. Bronze Minotaurs commanded by the mage inside came to his aid, helping to brace other doorways with their axes.
The purple wall near ‘Droth faded away and Berredin popped his head in. " Anyone need a hand. Be quick I can’t keep this shield open forever." The Shields rejoiced at their Wizard’s appearance and started moving the patrons out. Shanna checked Razor’s body for Shadowhunter. It was not on him.
The Shields and everyone else had cleared the building. Patrons were streaming out of the seven-pillared hall to the exit caverns.
Nesh looked at the mage with them, “Take us to the squid king.”
The mage nodded.
until next session. Phew.