SECTION 9: Regarding Sly andTokana.
From a Golden Dragon:
Firstly, and most important: There is a Lich, who has stolen the powers of a god. He is most likely the being whom Tokana and her minions refer to as 'The One.' He has wielded the power of death for the past 5000 years. It is his plan to begin the invasion of the middle world with our beloved land, Glorwing.
A summary. Tokana is a Lich. Sly is his daughter, who wishes him dead, and to steal his power. There was to be an excursion through a subaquatic power to a plane or dimension wherein Glorwing gods had no sway, so that anyone who went there might risk dying final death in an effort to defeat Tokana. Sly might be a temporary ally, but, being evil, should not be trusted.
[Giacomo: There follows an account by Morlock, with a lot of side-references to people like Levatine and Sendibar, for which I have no data, other than that Sendibar is/was another adventurer. There is also a male “Dark One” mentioned, in connection with a ring. I reproduce it here: ]
Morlock reads the scroll and adds his thoughts...
Last night, after a harrowing battle in Tamira's, Tokana's minions accosted Lonko, Fifi, and Mysef in Eagle's Nest, apparently attracted to Me by some form of Negative energy. We slew these foul creatures and returned to Crescent Bay, whereupon another group appeared in the Cornerstone, yelling about finding the stone to help in their teleportation spells. They refused our possible aid to get rid of them, and we slew them as well.
Then, this Sly individual Sendibar speaks of, confronted our small group and demanded my ring, which attracted her to our presence as well. After she slew several of our members several times over, raising each one after every death, for insults thrown her way, she teleported me far away to talk in isolation. She revealed to me two things--One, Levatine has already been killed by mortals about 650 years ago. Two, Tokana is "Death's" 2nd in command and is seeking to bring "Death" here. Given Sendibar's account, Sly may be able to help us at least stop Tokana. There appears to be some internal strife within their community, and we can use this to our advantage.
Sly wanted my Ring of Sorrows, which for reasons unknown to me is the source of the Negative Energy and will somehow aid Tokana and her minions in opening this portal. Rather than die and have Sly take it from me, I willingly gave her the ring, for I alone cannot handle the continuous onslaught of Tokana's minions. Too many times have I been caught alone. If this decision has bad repurcussions for us here in Glorwing, then I accept total blame, but I will fight to my death to save us and our world. I firmly believe this Sly, regardless of her background or affiliations, honestly wants to stop Tokana, and this will be a great boon to us in our fight against Tokana.
Before you kill me for giving Sly what she wanted, understand something first... If she wanted to, she would have killed everyone in Crescent Bay to take my ring. She proved that, and several people can attest to that FACT. She killed people who spoke against her or attacked her in vengeance--they were wasting her time. I tried to talk, but others didn't, and paid the price. I feel she is on a rather tight time line, and that means we should prepare for the worst. Hate me, Kill me, Shun me, but do so after we've dealt with this worldwide threat. There are greater things afoot to deal with, and afterwards we can debate who's right or wrong.
[Giacomo: Morlock got the ring from a slain vampire, according to Sendibar. “Dark One” is apparently an adventurer, and is mentioned as giving a teleporting-stone to a wizard, but that comes from fragmentary sources, afterwards.]
Here follow more recollections by some present at the time:
To defeat Tokana, Sly raised a tower from the sea and one of the greatest assembled raiding parties in the history of Glorwing embarked on the raid. We were to recover documents and 7 crystals. We were told that Sly wished to have all of the documents and that we should toss the crystals into the sea, but under no circumstances were we to combine them. The crystals were not discarded, but retrieved from the tower.
During the gathering at the Druid Grove in Darkwoods, just days before the "breach", a few gave their life forces to help hold the breach open longer. I remember Ischade of the Engineers being one of these. The reason we needed the breach to stay open longer was because any who were left inside once it closed would be lost forever, unable to resurrect.
On the day of the "breach”, many of us gathered a large army to fight off Tokana. She and her army wanted to get into the breach as well, so we had to defend the breach against them. After a long battle was won by all of us, Tokana was destroyed.
Six of us volunteered to go into the breach, in search of the final crystal. It was supposed to be five of us because the more we had in there; the sooner the breach would close. Somehow, due to confusion, we ended up with a 6th person. I can remember Emelina Steelwind, Kadian, and Dark One going into the breach. Those who went in bore a large risk, because if they died, they could not be resurrected, ever. There were also obstacles to overcome while inside, and it was a maze as well. We also had to be very quiet, so that we wouldn't wake up "Death" because he was invincible. We managed to get what we came for and even though Emelina accidentally woke "Death" up, we all made it out alive, with about 30 seconds to spare, as I recall. Sly showed up wanting the crystal. Instead of giving it to her, we destroyed her. And, well-- that was pretty much it.
SECTION 10: Thruck, Shakra Steelwind, Adventurer-Heroes of Glrowing, and the Dry Town Rift.
The Coming of Araknia
Thruck calmly exited the temple..... pausing for a moment to watch the cascade of water in the fountain before heading off to crescent bay.... there was a tension in the air tonight... something felt amiss. As he exited the portal and walked through the standing stones, he noticed people running around and an oppressive darkness manifesting itself. Unlimbering his hammer, he prayed briefly to the lady and waded into combat smashing shadows left and right, bellowing almost constantly.
The battle moved quickly..... though the people fighting for the kingdom gave no ground and no quarter. After what felt like hours, they found themselves deep in the forgotten and deserted city south of dry town. More combatants were appearing... both for the kingdom and from the shadows legions. They fought bravely, and soon found themselves standing at the door to hell it's self... a rift beginning to form.
A cyclone ripped the through the ancient town... shattering the old buildings like rotten twigs, and still they fought. Quickly realizing what had to be done... thruck threw down his hammer, and removed his helm... oblivious to the combat raging around him.
He knelt at the nexus of the rift...... praying to the lady of the light to aid him... he felt her... but faintly. More people realized what was truly happening, and soon the area around the rift was littered with kneeling people... all praying fervently. The ground began to tremble with the awesome energies being played upon it. Slowly the rift began to close.... the ground shaking ever more violently as the struggled continued, as though in protest, the ground gave one great heave, throwing people in every direction, but the rift was definitely growing smaller now. As the tear in the soil slowly reached a point, not more than inches apart, thruck suddenly felt drained... tired beyond words... as though his very life was leaving him..... as he crumpled to the ground, the last thing he saw was the rift closing completely... and then, nothing.
Thruck woke with people all around him, and try as he might, he could not stand... nor move for that matter. Seeing his long-time friend isilme, he asked her aid in removing the armor that had suddenly become to heavy to lift. Naked, flod and lonko of the horde helped him back to the temple in port sunrise, fighting only when they had to.... running when they realized he was burning with fever and drifting in and out of conciosness. Upon entering the temple, thruck felt a calm wash over him, and the fever began to subside almost immediatly. Though he still felt unbearably tired.
After explaining what had happened to the priest and priestess, thruck asked lonko if the rift had indeed closed..... he was unsure if it was a memory or a dream. Lonko responded almost immediately. laying the champion's fears to rest saying "you did good paladin... you did good."
As he settled into bed, isilme watched over him as he drifted off to sleep. Though he felt weak as a lamb, his faith was as strong as ever.... he had done what he had set out to do... he had followed in his friend and mentor's footsteps. Like the king before him, The champion of the light had given wholly and completely of himself to aid the kingdom..... and it would seem he would live to do so again.
As his eyes slowly closed, he heard isilme bless him, calling down the mother's gaze to watch over him as he slept. He smiled inwardly as he sank into exhaustion, thanking the lady for the test to his faith... and thanking her for giving him the resolve to see it through to the end.
SECTION 11: The Storm of Evil and the Flight to the Stones.
It began with attacks on Crescent Bay. Drow assassins – fast, lethal, difficult to see or kill – cast clouds of darkness and attacked out of them. When their victims were bleeding, near to death, one of them – and there were a few, male, female – tortured them, playing in their blood like a fountain, sometimes. And then their ear was pierced with a silver pin taken from a small pouch, and a gold earring inserted in the now-pierced ear.
This went on for a time. Around the same time messengers began to appear, strange runes circled places in the city, and when they were destroyed evil waves of creatures broke through to attack. The messengers were shadows, most of them, shades of dead souls who carried notice that "he" was coming. The shadow lord – between the sun and the moon.
Around this same time there was a child – Natalie. Small, cherubic, and blonde little Nat said that her mother was carried off by purple monsters, and her dad was ate by dragons. She made her way through several different and upstanding members of the community. She led the Antlered Horde on a hunt for her poor mother – taking them somewhere where Kalutel eventually fell. The elven cleric Sylphen, some of his friends with him, also tried desperately to find the girl's lost mother. To no avail.
But Natalie was not what she seemed. Messengers of light warned against the child, but few believed. Sylphen Failshade refused to believe. Eventually, as Natalie feigned being kidnapped by spiders, causing him to chase after her, one of his friends ended the farce. She fired an arrow into the child's chest. The girl, unharmed and smiling evilly, announced that the game was over and disappeared – summoning a monstrous, demonic dragon to attack them. Natalie was not heard from much after that – but the whisper began to spread that she was the manifestation of Arkania herself.
The drow attacks – at first seeming limited to elves – soon spread to cover all races. They no longer confined themselves to crescent Bay, and struck wherever they pleased. Some of the more powerful defenders managed to fell their hunters – but always they returned again, raised by their own god the way that the soldiers of light are raised by theirs.
The earrings bound their wearers. When touched, pain and sluggishness rushed through your body, and it felt as if your soul were being pulled from your body. A few, desperate to escape, yanked their earrings free. They died instantly, most believe their souls still lodged in one of the hells, unable to escape.
More messengers of the gods began appearing – one more frequently than others. The dark god's control over that one wavered on and off, and sometimes he remembered that he had once been Kalutel, of the horde. He too vanished after a time though, his essence now dwelling gods only know where.
The attacks were worsening. Not only were their drow, but the messengers of the dark god were accompanied by huge waves of some of Glorwing's most dangerous, and unusual creatures. And in the distance, the sky began to darken as a storm the likes of which no one had ever seen threatened.
Chaos began to grow in leaps and bounds as people became afraid, unsure, and desperate. Attacks had struck the castle at one time, poisoning the Queen. Those of great faith managed to prevent the drow from piercing their ears – but they were struck with a worse blight, great dark runes across their face. The runes could control them, and even the mildest of them was led to fits of rage and violence when overcome by the magic of the runes.
For a time it seemed that things were getting better. A way had been found to counter the runes – freeing many, among them Astelderea leader Dyfan and the much-loved Tisiphone Tempestas.
And then the Queen was taken. She disappeared, and Glorwing lost a bit of its hope. In the end, though she was saved, she was lost anyway, abandoning the child she'd born during her imprisonment and leaving behind the life she had known. The King too, was gone. Some took hope as the gods of light sent messengers, claiming that the waning remnants of the good god Helm had been joined to the spirit of the King – forming a new champion for Glorwing, the Helmsman.
But still, the war raged on. People died, and many who followed a darker path began to serve the coming evil. Trust grew thin and brittle and hatreds flared like oil-fueled flames.
The end was both long in coming, and swift. The gods warred, and the servants of evil struck everywhere, all at once. The goes warned some – their followers, perhaps, the lucky ones, perhaps, none can say. And at the standing stones a day passed wrapped in protective magics.
Outside of that place, hell reigned on all areas of Glorwing for a year that seemed an eternity. The magic of the portals ceased to work, and most found themselves stranded and struggling to survive the onslaught. People of all walks and types drew together to fight against a common evil, cut away from all others. The story was the same all over – Blacksilver, Eagle's Nest, Raven's Call – all fought and died and prayed to gods that never seemed to hear, too busy elsewhere.
And then it stopped. The survivors suddenly found themselves free to use the standing stone portals again, and the skies cleared, and a new balance seemed struck. The world seemed harsher, more terrible and punishing – but they had survived.
The Queen was gone, her child vanished, and the world was changed. But the war was over . . . or so it was thought. Now though, as drow again flow from under the ground, and whispers of dark gods gain more strength, some began to wonder if the war had really stopped at all – and whether it would ever be won for either side.
SECTION 12: The Old Storyteller Continues.
In time, the old storyteller has a new one to tell, one just beginning, whose end has yet to be written.
"The days had grown dark indeed, when King Victor was dead, and the Queen sailed away. Everywhere, there seemed to be all kinds of dark and dangerous things, lurking under the banner of vile gods. They could not wait forever, and in blood and death they came.
"To have been there! In Crescent Bay is started, hordes of the most terrible creatures, stumbling through the streets. The Sun Guards withdrew to protect the Palace, but others came to the aid of the towns, sometimes with the aid of guards and priests.
"Lord Anen organized the defense, and saw that refugees made it to the Standing Stones, as the towns were decimated, one by one. Though every blade was raised to fend them off, always there were more enemies, and more, a stream without end. Nasty business.
"Where was I? Oh yes. It was then that dark gods began appearing among the foes, and it was clear that this was a battle to end all battles. In Port Sunrise, the Helmsman led the people to safety, while in the Stones themselves the Quiet God and the Lady of the Light spoke to their believers.
"In the end, the powers of good could not last the charge, and they sealed away the Standing Stones from those outside, in which the people crouched. Knowing that so many could not live that way for long, with the power of her followers, the goddess caused time to be moved forward, and a year and a day passed outside, while inside a moment was all that seemed to go by.
"In that time, evil outside turned on itself, and the world was rent in great destruction, the like of which few mortal eyes live to see."
"Oh, it was a terrible time, a horrific time, and afterwards the world was not the same. Some gods grew silent, magic seemed new and strange, and everywhere the world was changed, as the once fused armies lay scattered about the world.
"Glorwing, however, survived, my listeners. Although that was only the beginning."
"More you say? Perhaps another time."
The old storyteller falls silent.
Who wills, can
Who tries, does
Who loves, lives
(Anne McCaffrey, 1978)