Sunday, August 17, 2014

Martyr King 29: The Second Cataclysm

The twenty ninth and final session in the "Legacy of the Martyr King" campaign.

After a few more questions, our heroes grab Nut and jump through the Jumpgate the Adriane's Copper Minaret. They immediately realize that the sorcerer is in trouble, and jonesing badly. Castor is compelled to retrieve some stashed Kishii, and they go to investigate.

Cainan has capture Adrianne, and has him tied up. Unfortunately, the cleric proves as inept as ever, and this time he is killed. Adrianne's thirst for Kishii is satiated, and our heroes continue on the three and a half week journey to the Charcoal Minaret.

They decide the best way to enter the Minaret will be from above. Our heroes take the back roads up the cliff, so they are about 900 feel above the minaret. Then they shrink Maven and Aymeric, tie ropes to each other, cast fly and invisibility, and fly down, hitting every goddamn rock on the way. They land, take out some guards, do some infomation gathering with speak with dead, and make their way down to the jumpgate. Thinking this all seems too easy, they activate it with a dark soulstone, and the Reclaimer Army pours through.

The Reclaimers immediately start massacring the unprepared Dorian forces.

Our heroes decide to look for the Avatar of the one as the Dorians are being destroyed. They head down to the subbasement, where the find the Angel in chains. He is significantly larger than Demphiel or Azriel, maybe by two feet, and he is chained to the wall. He does not speak when they come in. His attention seems to be elsewhere.

Our heroes release him, and the first thing he says is “Move.” He pushes the heroes aside and creates a wall of force as the Avatar of Light materializes and swings his sword. A fight commences. The Avatar of the One (for that is what he is) is bigger but he is weak. It appears that his attention is elsewhere. Azriel cuts off one of the White Angel’s wings, disarms him, then forces him to his knees. There is a pause.

Azriel (he seems torn): “I … you know I will not kill you. You know what will happen if I do …

The Avatar of the One. “Yes. but I can kill you” And with this, he forces his hands forward, and the heroes are blinded by the light. The white light burns through Azriel, who lifts his faceless hood to through sky and screams.

Much to our heroes’ surprise, when they can see again, a man lies in Azriel’s place. He dead, cut in half and badly burned, and his blood is spread out over the floor.

The Avatar of the One is breathing heavily. He says this when they approach him.

You fools! Have you ever, even once, questioned what you are doing, and who you are working for? The God of Light desires the slavery of the human race, but do you really think that any other God has the best interests of humanity in mind?

“The Fall was a pact between all the Gods to take man back a step in societal evolution. The soulstones man had created were sucking power from the planes of existence and, although the God of Light was the most weakened, every God was losing something to the race of man. Every God except the God of Darkness, whose soulstones were considered useless and discarded, if created at all. So why did the God of Darkness go along with the plan?

“The souls of creatures on this planet fuel the plane of light. Whenever anything on Cain dies, its soul burns in the great furnaces of the God of Light. So what did the God of Darkness want?

“Cain was a losing battle. The God of Light was too entrenched, and the God of Darkness could never hope to gain as much power in his strong hold.

“15 soulstones were detonated at the Fall, yet only 14 are observable to the eyes of man. The 15th was a secret, revealed only to the other Gods after it was too late.

“The 15th soulstone was detonated at the heart of this planet. It has been there for two thousand years, eating away at the molten core until there was nothing left, freezing the tectonic plates in place and shrinking the size of the planet.

“Only my power has eased this planet’s death throes. Even now it is where my attention lies and must remain. This is how Azriel was able to captured me. The God of Light knew that I would keep the cradle of the human race alive at all costs, and he caught me and chained me to this place, allowing me only enough energy to quell the titanic forces raging inside the planet.

“But for the past few months you fools have been aiding the God of Darkness. You have been activating Jumpgates in his name and allowing him to turn his growing power and influence to destroying the world. The God of Light is distracted, his armies spread too thin, and his influence waning.

“But while I live, there is still time. The only way to end this is to kill the Gods. We must travel to the Root of the World…
” And suddenly his voice is caught in his throat. The Avatar of the One jerks his head up in sudden terror. “No… The Jumpgate upstairs… you didn’t…

And then Demphiel appears. Before the Avatar of the one has a chance to react, Demphiel’s sword is through the Avatar’s Chest.

Demphiel speaks as he lowers the Avatar of the One to the Ground.

Oh, but they did. We have been waiting a thousand years for this moment, building up our energy and planning, but, thanks to your progeny, it is finally upon us. You going to die now Richard. You can no longer influence this world, and without you, it will crumble into dust in a matter of days.

“One hour ago, these young, innocent, stupid heroes thought it was about to be over. They thought that they could end the war, defeat the Dorians, and rule the Reclaimers and then the human race.

“It was never about that. It was never about any of that. Who cares about this petty war, when the cradle of the human race is about to crumble into itself?

“And the God of Light won’t be able to gather up the strength to stop us, now that Doria is fallen and his Avatar is destroyed. The Reclaimers work for me now, and they will continue to do so until the end of the world. Oh, it was sad indeed, when the Men and Women of Breya learned that their chosen heroes, their long absent Kings were actually traitor, liars, and servants of the God of Light. I told them just before I came down here. These five heroes will die alone, hated by every side, without a friend in the world to mourn them. Not that it matters. The world hasn’t long anyway.”

Demphiel pulls his sword out of the dying Avatar and strides towards the heroes. He looks incredibly powerful, black and purple flames burning off of him and his sword. “Good work. I couldn’t have done it without you. And goodbye.

He swings his sword – but time suddenly slows to a crawl. Our heroes can see the Avatar of the One lifting his hand in the background. However, he has shrunk to the size of a man.

The voice of the Avatar of the One echoes in the heads of our heroes. “Go to the Throne Room of the King, at the Root of the World. I cannot take you there, but I can take you close. Demphiel will no doubt be waiting for you, but this should give you time to prepare. Hurry. The planet hasn’t long.

Our heroes see the sword swing, but it never reaches them. They suddenly feel the intense sensation of crushing, and then they feel cold air, and are in complete blackness. The next moment the ground shakes violently. They can hear the crashing of rocks all around them, and dust fills the air. It shakes for a good 2 minutes with increasing agony and noise, then dies down. When the dust settles and light is created, our heroes find themselves in the ancient ruins of an underground city.

Our heroes also find a map of Cain before the fall. Evidently it used to be called Earth. In those days the water levels were higher and they oriented the map differently, but the resemblance is there.

Our heroes have landed near what appears to be a subterranean hub of carts and tracks. One leads to the Throne Room of the King which, according to a map, is at Earth's South Pole, Antarctica. They hop of the tram and go for a day.

After about 24 hours of sporadic earthquakes, our heroes arrive at the Root of the World. It is a large, complex structure with, gothic architecture and dark shiny walls. Small white globes dot the walls, illuminating the massive hallways.

They walk for about 20 minutes, before Demphiel's voice comes on some sort of loudspeakers. "One of the wonderful parts about working for the God of Darkness is you get choice pick among a few particularly twisted souls." With this, each one of the heroes' rivals suddenly materializes and attacks.

This should have have been a fair fight, but our heroes are extremely quick to initiate combat. Nearly every hero goes before nearly every rival. Emut is killed before he can do anything, Cainan is glued in place, and Maven is able to buff everybody immensely (well, everybody except Nut). The only loose end is Hervey, who cannot be killed and possesses Nut.

After the fight, Nut insists he is fine, but Hervey is shouting in his head. "What will happen when this is all over? You must kill them all! Only you can sit the throne!"

Finally, our heroes reach the throne room. The room is a large 270 degree semi-circle with a radius of about three hundred feet. There is a large throne on a raised section in the center. 13 huge jumpgates, none-active, line the walls. What is more, there is no visible slot for a soulstone. 13 of these gates are faced by the throne. One final jumpgate, normal sized, also no soulstone slot, is directly behind the throne.

The floor is flat, and there are grooves extending radially from the center to each of the Jumpgates. The room is made out of the same shiny black stone, and there are a bunch of gothic arches. There are points and pointed arches along the walls, and the ceiling is dimly visibly in the darkness. There are white lanterns all around, and a strange white light illuminates the whole area.

Demphiel lounges on the throne. One leg is propped over the arm of the throne, and he looks as if he is comfortable here – as if he has sat here before. Demphiel looks immensely powerful, more powerful than ever before, and he causally holds a long black sword, glowing black with dark purple fire. His wings are slowly beating. He doesn’t seem like he’s in to much of a rush.

“I was starting to worry that you wouldn’t show up. In a few hours, the world will be destroyed one way or another, but, as I was once human, it would give me a nice sense of closure to finish you five off.” You can sense that he is smiling. “So lets finish this.” With that he rises from the throne, and begins to slowly move towards our heroes.

When I was king, the god of Darkness showed me a vision of terror. He showed me the future, if mankind was allow to continue on its path. The teeming trillions of Mankind had spread to every corner of ever plane, and, after burning out all available resources, had dwindled and then died in starvation. The multi-verse was left a smoking ruin and all that the gods and humans had struggled to achieve was wasted. I saw this, and I was afraid. But I also knew that I was in a unique position to stop it. So I betrayed the human race, left 15 soulstones vulnerable to attack and shut down the jumpgates to the other world.

Our heroes suddenly realize that they are speaking to the Martyr King.

I’m not sure exactly why Richard sent you here, but he did, and that is incentive enough for me to stop you.

Our heroes attack! Avaryn gets off a full round shot before Aymeric teleports to his god, smacks him with some crits, and disarms him. Nut goes invisible and crazy, and starts attacking his former allies! Demphiel reclaims his weapon, tries to attack, but crit fumbles and drops him weapon. Instead, he decides to teleports to the middle of the rest of the heroes and Unholy Word them - blinding everybody for at least 4 rounds.

When the other heroes are stumbling around, Aymeric teleports back and again double crits Demphiel. Demphiel again crit fumbles his weapon away. Truely, fate in on Aymeric's side here.

As Castor removes blindness from himself, and gives himself the ability to see invisibility, Aymeric deals a mighty crit to Demphiel, slicing the Avatar in half. From Demphiel's torso emerges thick black smoke, which begins to congeal in a massive pool.

While this is happening, Nut gets a small handful of sneak attacks off on Aymeric. Castor dispels Nut's invisibility twice, and Aymeric twice tries and fails to cast Forced Repentance on Nut.

Soon, however, the pool is congealed. It is misses a few attacks, however, but when it crits Maven it crits hard, dealing upwards of 50 damage, some Con damage, hitting Aymeric, and grabbing them both. Emut bombs Nut into negative hit points. Luckily, Avaryn, blind though she still is, shoots the blob one to many times, and it begins the change.

The blob solidifies into the shape of a man in black robes - the Martyr King. His chain lightning proves devastating, but, after his acid fog is dispelled, he is brought down as well. Demphiel, the Martyr King, falls.

Demphiel’s blood, the blood of the Martyr King, spills down the rivulets in the floor and touches each one of the jumpgates. Worlds appear behind these gates – some abandoned, some teaming with human life. They each open onto a council room, and, while some are broken and decrepit, others are currently in session. The faces of men from far flung planes and lands glaze over in amazement as the link to the cradle of humanity opens after 2000 years.

The smaller jumpgate behind the throne also opens. Through it is the white plain that Maven so often saw in his dreams. A small house, with a clear pool of water and a palm tree are off in the distance.

Our heroes make their way through the Gate, dragging the unconscious Nut.

A short, balding man awaits them there. He explains everything. He is the one true God. He was happy for a time, dancing in the void, but eventually felt the pangs of loneliness. The One True God decided to create a mate, but he could not love something that he had created. So, he created the six Gods, and tasked them with creating a system that would eventually produce the perfect mate. That system was the multi-verse, and, eventually, the system came to fruition. The One True God plucked a single female human, the product of all creation, from the Earth. He created a plane, to bring his power down to her level, such that they could love each other as equals. He filled this plane with an infinite amount of Opal – once he entered it he would become something near mortal.

The pair loved each other and produced a son who returned to Earth. This son became Richard James, the first in the line of Kings

Eventually the woman died, and the One True God found himself trapped, alone in a world of his own creation. He was content, having loved, and he remained to council Richard James and his line.

Creation, having run its course, was now in uncharted territory and the line of Kings tried to shape it to the benefit of mankind. They used the opal, charged with the power of the planes, to enter a new golden age. The Gods, devoid of any further purpose, sought power and saw that mankind was taking it from them. Thus, they seduced the Martyr King and sought to destroy mankind in the fall.

The One True God smiles sadly. “If you killed the God of Darkness, a new one would only take his place. The answer is far more simple. The Gods draw their power from me. You have God killing weapons. If you kill me, the Gods – all of them – will die.

Earth will be free from their tyranny. The jumpgate eating away at the center of the Earth will spew its contents back into your plane. The result will certainly be a second fall, but cataclysm is far better than complete destruction. As for you, and this place… this plane is so saturated with my power that you five, given that you posses my blood, will be able to manipulate it as you wish. Whoever stayed would become Gods, but would be unable to ever return to the mortal plane. Whoever left, would become the kings (and queen) of humanity, but would be mortal, and die in his or her due time."

After much discussion, our heroes decide what to do. Maven will return to Earth, and lead humanity as the rightful king. Avaryn, Castor, and Aymeric will stay, becoming the Gods of Chaos, Order, and Balance.

But what to do with Nut? "Don't kill me! Just put me on a remote island off the coast of Karindora. Give me a fishing pole and a line, and I will be content!"

"Alright," says Maven, "but only if you agree to fail your next will save." Nut agrees, Aymeric casts Forced Repentance on him, and the insane ninja falls to his knees and begins professing his crimes.

"It is time" says the Old Man. Maven nods and ends his diety's life with a spike through the head. Then, as the plane twists and contorts, Maven, with Nut in tow, flees through the Arch. The Jumpgate closes behind him, and Maven get one last look at Aymeric, Castor, and Avaryn as they ascend to Godhood.

The world is in chaos. For two days it shakes, and the many civilizations of the surface are all but destroyed: Dorians, Reclaimers, Narset, Pruhan, Tessia – every vestige of civilization on the planet is gone. Hundreds of thousands die, but millions remain.

After the second Cataclysm, Maven gains the allegiance on which other world as he can, and marks the rest for conquest: peaceful, or otherwise. He drops Nut off on his island, and finds and raises Patrick up to Grand Admiral. Then, leading the armies of those worlds not restart by either Cataclysm, he sets about uniting his empire.

And of Avaryn, Castor, and Aymeric? They were never seen again, though their presence is still felt. Their Avatars walk the planes, giving advice and assistance where needed. And, perhaps, when humanity has need of new saviors, they will help them on their way.

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