FotC – S3 – Neverending Battle
SCENE – Crystal Desert
Text: The group reluctantly passed from the underground paradise that had captivated them. Their lot lay in other lands far from the Crystal Desert. (perhaps insert one shot here of the underground paradise with or without the group—as if looking around in first person) Yet as they began the journey back to the ship, the fallen monk recalled a memory from a distant place…
Group shot moving across the sands, Zyr stops and ponders, while rest continue *scene of Menethos and Zyr*
Text: The monk decided to reach out and brush upon the source, as curiosity seared within his clouded mind. However just as he felt the slightest tingling from the strange chaotic winds…the group was set upon by a most unusual enemy
Serpent: Defilerssss! You have trodden upon the forbidden sssandsss and disssrupted the hallowed hallsss of the ancientsss.
Waljan: Was it not prophesized by the ancients that the chosen one would arrive to wield the Sword? I am he!
Serpent: You have laid hold of the sssacred sssword of power and now the mossst dessspicable crime…to touch upon the forbidden power!
Waljan: You foolish creature! Depart from our path or I shall have to administer the Sword’s might on your unworthy carcasses!
Serpent: You ssshall sssuffer mossst painfully! Ssssieze upon them!
*Battle ensues. Waljan is swings the blade at the beasts, and it cuts through them like butter. But as the blade sears in battle, it burns at Waljan’s entire being, and he’s soon unable to continue.*
Waljan: Arrgh! Curses! The blade scalds my hands!
*The serpents quickly realize Waljan is not able to fight and begin to attack him, but the group intervenes, and after a fight, the battle is won*
Keryn: Ignorant oaf! Consider the lives of others the next time you decide to canter on an egotistic tirade.
Waljan: Is this not the all-powerful blade that is only spoken about in myths, and am I not its true wielder?
Ming Na: The ancient writings described the blade as a key to the door that will seal the Watcher in his prison. None so much as to whether it could be employed in battle.
Waljan: Even if it were not to be employed in a battle, surely I must wield it long enough for it to be of use. But since arriving at the surface of the Crystal Desert, I have been unable to wield the blade for more than a moment. How can this be?
Keryn: Pfft, you have obviously not become one with your weapon.
Waljan: If it was I who was intended for this weapon, should I not be attuned to it?
Keryn: That does not transform you into a master in an instant, even less to ancient magics you do not yet fully understand! You are deluding yourself if you think you can speak a few courageous words and then thrust yourself into combat as if you were Balthazar’s avatar himself.
Athena: Listen to her, she is right – god’s man, you were almost beaten out there today.
Waljan: … perhaps I spoke too hastily.
Keryn: My calling is to watch over the group and defend your lives. I fear I may be doing more of this in the future unless you learn to handle that blade.
Waljan: What am I to do?
Keryn: You must learn what all must who tread the path of war, and quickly. We do not have the luxury of time, circumstances as they are. I can help guide you-but only you can find the soul within that blade and truly wed yourself to it.
Waljan: Pardon? Wed myself to what?
Thorgrim: I suggest we delay this talk till we’ve arrived at the ship. Duty calls us northwards.
SCENE – Oasis
Text: The group reached an oasis in the desert through the prowess of their guide. Two souls long separated began were drawn together…
Ming Na: Are you well Zyr? You seem bothered by something.
Zyr: I have been having troubling thoughts since our departure. What I have recalled is as a strange dream. I traveled a dark place, through twisting tunnels of black. I was led on by a familiar face through unspeakable horrors. Through the journey, he spoke to me of many things – potent and terrifying all at once… and of a door – to what, I cannot remember. What can this mean?
Ming Na: Perhaps it is a memory of a place and time you have passed through in your many travels.
Zyr: Perhaps. It feels more recent than any other memory.
Ming Na: You have come to us after passing through death itself. How many can confess to the same? Perhaps it is a memory of what you have seen there.
Zyr: How strange… it certainly makes sense. I wish I was able to comprehend everything that is out of my grasp. There are apparent memories of importance that beckon me with certain urgency – and it is frustrating… this mental blindness.
Ming Na: Find peace, dear monk. You have been through much as it is.
Zyr: Oft times I fear in my unnatural return, that it shall claim its price in time to come.
Ming Na: If that is so, then we shall face the consequences boldly.
SCENE – Ship
Text: As the group returned to the ship, each heart reflected upon the journey and the many wonders and tragedies they had witnessed.
*Aboard the ship*
Athena: I never thought I would wish to see this ship again, but I have had enough of dust and sand for a lifetime.
Keryn: What happens now, now that the sword has been secured, where are we bound?
Thorgrim: The rift was opened in the Shiverpeaks, and even now I fear that the undead scour the heights of my homelands. It would be best to proceed there without delay.
Anduril: Take courage friend, you have shown us many times the quality of your people. I am sure they are doing all they can to repel the undead threat.
SCENE – Ship
Text: Later that night as the vessel slipped quietly across the deep, and sleep was a burden as the group considered the prophecies of Dwayna…
*Waljan approaches Ming Na*
Waljan: Am I disturbing you?
Ming Na: No… please speak your mind.
Waljan: Some time ago when you revealed Dwayna’s prophecy to the group, but it was before I arrived with Athena. Obviously much of what Dwayna spoke has come to pass. But did she speak specifically of what the sword wielder would have to do to be truly wed to the blade?
Ming Na: *chortles* I’m afraid she did not mention its searing effect, nor gave directions for its wielder. But fear not my dear friend, I have faith that you will be one with the blade. Just allow it time to know its master.
Waljan: I thank you for your confidence in me… but… I suppose it was my failing to assume our trials would cease with the coming of the Sword.
Ming Na: Trials teach us what we are. They should not be feared, but be allowed to define us for what we are able to overcome.
Waljan: … I know you are right. But… I fear for life, I fear for all our lives.
Ming Na: *turns away thoughtfully* When I was taken away for a time, and returned… my heart became calloused towards the goddess. I did not understand her purposes then, and felt as though I was a pawn in an otherworldly game.
Waljan: I did feel you were distant then.
Ming Na: *turn back* But now I know nothing happens that the goddess does not know of, and is not meant to sculpt us in some measure. If I had not suffered then, I would not have truly understood the purpose of my calling.
Waljan: It is good to see that you have regained your faith. You may not know this, but many of us depend on your strength.
Ming Na: Please do not! I am as fallible as any of you. I am afraid I will only serve as a disappointment.
Waljan: *chuckles* You will never disappoint me Ming Na, not even if you fall completely from faith. Who’s judge am I anyhow? The only prayer I’ve ever made to Dwayna was when I was a young lad, stuck high in a tree!
Ming Na: She did deliver you from harm then, did she not?
Waljan: Heh, yes I suppose so. And I know she will be watching over us in the days ahead.
SCENE – Ship
Text: Through his sleeping and waking, the memory and taste of limitless power consumed the thoughts of the monk.
Memory of Menethos: When you return, you might be lost for a time, time that you might not have. I want to help you, despite my better judgment, and yet the only course available is one I would never recommend in clear conscience.
Zyr’s Thoughts: I can feel it…just outside my grasp. To imagine…access to such power could surely enable one to destroy all the evil and corruption upon the land. Who could fault such pure intent? Yet…the guide…there was something he said…
Memory of Menethos: The fact is…that once one is exposed to a degree of power…that same being will seek more, however incremental it will be.
Zyr’s Thoughts: Could this be? All this time I cannot stop thinking about it. Gods…the guide spoke true. Each moment…a struggle of justification and delusion.
SCENE – Underworld
Text: Amidst the darkness a terrible wrath brewed…
Watcher: Curses to the gods – to have such opportunity snatched away! Daldrath will suffer for his treachery! To think that there remained a sliver of humanity… Run from my sight as he may. Without me, he is nothing but dust awaiting the earth to swallow him whole. I shall deal with him when the time is ripe. *pause* For now, I shall feast on the soul of that godless mortal who failed to do my bidding *evil laugh*
SCENE – Path to Shiverpeaks
Text: In the heights of the Shiverpeaks, the ranger retraced his steps back to his home…his work complete. His path led him to an unexpected and harrowing sight.
Tristan: Aaaarrh! Get out of my mind! Leave me in peace!
Tristan: You! You are to blame, you misguided and beguiling spawn! Now every waking moment is filled with his voice, his presence! I cannot…aaaarrh!
Kelden: Tristan! Who is it?? Who is doing this to you?
Tristan: That voice…piercing as a thousand spines upon the desert glade. It fills the void…it is the void!
Kelden: *desperate* What is this madness??
Tristan: Leave! Leave! The incarnation of death itself approaches and will consume me whole!
Kelden: Stay with me Tristan! I shall carry you upon my shoulders to the nearest physician.
SCENE – Ship
Txt: For days on their trip did the warrioress train the hunter, only to make him more adept to perform his mission later on.
Waljan: *holds the Sword for a while as it begins to scald his hands once more* Argghhh! How much more of this must I take? It burns!
Keryn: Silence! Focus on the blade, draw its power within you and allow yourself to overcome its influence.
Waljan: Urrghh… I cannot.
Keryn: Enough excuses!
Athena: *who watched from a corner finally speaks up* Let him go.
Keryn: Do not intrude elementalist.
Athena: I beg of you, it is enough! Do you not see that the blade harms him?
*Waljan drops the blade, panting*
Keryn: *turns to Athena* Look what you have done! It may oft seem that I am a hard woman. But I do all this for him, for us! He has to learn to wield this blade, or all our efforts are for naught! We are dependent upon his success!
Athena: Can there be another way?
Waljan: Don’t worry about me Athena, I thank you for your concern. I must push through the pain, Keryn is right. *picks up the blade again and winces*
Athena: I cannot watch this madness! Go on, bring on your own death and see if it bothers me! *storms off in a huff*
*Waljan puts down his Sword*
Keryn: *laughs* It seems your adopted sister has some unmentioned affections towards you, hunter.
Keryn: Believe what you prefer! Let us continue.
SCENE – Ship
Text: As the peaks of the Southern Shiverpeaks loomed ever closer, the monk’s thoughts began to drift to that of powerful and foreign magic, as its seduction grew with every moment that passed.
Zyr: *suddenly holds his head* Urrghh… I must be wary!
Ming Na: *appears* Zyr? Are you speaking to yourself?
Zyr: *embarrassed* I… I apologize, I was caught in my thoughts.
Ming Na: I know things have been uncomfortable between the two of us. I hate that it has become such… especially since… Please be candid with me now, I ask only this of you.
Zyr: There is much I should divulge. I had it concealed from you for a while as I was worried it would cause distress. Please forgive my hesitations… When I passed from this life, I learned certain truths, consequences of my actions. Many things I have done before I became part of this ill fated group. I used to search the land for lore and magic potent enough to undo the effects of the necromancer, which ended in the sinking of Orr. Naturally it was a fool’s errand, but I had naught to live for in those days. I came across powerful forbidden magic’s in those days, and I used some of them upon myself.
Ming Na: What purpose did they serve?
Zyr: I searched for a way to reverse the wrongs done to my nation, and felt the length of my life alone would not nearly be enough to achieve my goals. I admit I had not thought it through clearly when the ritual was cast… and am left now to live with the consequences.
Ming Na: What consequences?
Zyr: It seems the magic’s I incurred, while extending life, had a surprising adverse effect I had not anticipated. My soul would not tarry in the world to come, for I had grounded it here in the mortal realm. That is why my body had to be restored to life, for my existence was in jeopardy and would fade to nothingness if I remained in the afterlife.
Ming Na: Is this not Dwayna’s second chance for you? Have you used it wisely?
Zyr: She had nothing to do with my return. I fought against what was natural, defying all that established for mortal beings. I shall be honest with you, I would have had no inclination to return and would have accepted that fate, except for the memory of you. I did not want to forget, to lose the one good thing in my life.
Ming Na: Zyr… what have you done?
Zyr: There is more. I knew that with my return I would be shunned by the gods and realms of power. That would only be natural. As it happens I learned about another source of power while in the afterlife. It lies outside of the normal laws and realms. It is a strange thing, almost impossible to describe in its enormity. Yet, it exists and I have touched upon its influence. The power is what enabled me to come to you. Should we not use such a thing against our greatest foe, even a foe to the gods!
Ming Na: There was a reason the magic’s were forbidden. For as the hours of this day edges on, it will surely consume you whole!
Zyr: More of Dwayna’s council? Her so-called prophecies have been wrong before. You know I do not revere her or any of those misguided fools.
Ming Na: If you heed not Dwayna’s council, then heed mine. *pause* It concerns me that if you touch upon such magic’s, you shall never be the same. You may not be aware of my dependence on you. The days in which we had believed that you were gone from this world… I felt as though mine was in turn coming to an end.
Zyr: Be reassured Ming Na, that nothing shall keep me from your side.
SCENE – Crystal Desert
Txt: Daldrath, now freed from the master’s grasp, found himself alone.
Daldrath: My hands… my body… they are abominations. The abominable form of evil. But deep inside… I was once man. A… a man who once understood appreciation for his fellow-man. How did I allow my ire destroy the soul my mother once sired within her womb? Have I forgotten all of her lessons? Mother… sister… I have let you down, and I have lost my opportunity to seek your forgiveness. I have doomed myself to a fate worse than death – my regret shall be the burden I carry the rest of my days.
SCENE – Ascalon Physican’s Office
*Kelden raps upon the door hurriedly. The physician arrives soon after*
Kelden: Please attend to my friend, I do not understand what has inflicted him so!
*physician checks Tristan*
Tristan: You! He watches you. He sees all!
Physician: Who do you speak of, son?
*Tristan begins laughing hysterically*
Physician: *stands up* The ailment that your companion has succumbed to is that of the otherworldly. Has he recently come in contact with powerful magic?
Kelden: *comes to realization* The fault lies with me… only now do I understand what he had tried so hard to say. I brought this fate on him.
Physician: Your companion is very ill – his life ebbs away even as we speak.
Tristan: The voices! The voices! Argghhhh!
Kelden: *sadly* What will you have me do?
Physician: I propose that you treasure your final moments with him as he may not last through the hour. I shall leave you to your privacy. *leaves*
*as soon as the physician is gone, Tristan is suddenly coherent*
Tristan: K… Kelden?
Kelden: Tristan! *cries* I have so cursed you… this is my doing! I have been so selfish…
Tristan: Listen… it is no fault of yours… When Ascalon fell, I found myself disillusioned with the gods… and… on a fateful night, while I was full of ale and not in a right frame of mind, spewed curses and aligned myself with the darkness. When I awoke the next morn… I did to a victory won. Our resistance against the Charr performed more efficaciously from then on, which would prove inconceivable to any thinking man – and yet we thought little of the odds, and instead chose to bask in our win. As celebrations ensued, I knew there was something important I had to educe, something that I had foolishly swept aside in my memory.
Kelden: But I led him to you…
Tristan: No. Perhaps it was he who led you to me… but it matters little now. My memory has returned to me, and I am well aware of my blunder, and the price I will have to pay for it. Listen now… please… I beg you, end my life before he consumes my whole soul. Send me to my people… I shall be one with noble Ascalon, even in death. Please sir… do this for me…
Kelden: *sadly* My brother… You have acted nobly where few would, and yet all I have to return you is the curse that I carry with me. I shall forever take your memory with me…may Dwayna’s wings guide you safely home… *kills Tristan*
Kelden: It is not upon fields of green we tread, our journey crosses sorrow and pain. We shall not return to fern nor flow’rs, we shall not taste of blessed rain. ‘Til we are guarded safely home, then we shall be met again… my friend.
SCENE – Town Area
Text: The shadowy gaze of the Watcher delved deep into the soul of his new prey. The past unfolded before him as the years were stripped away…until he beheld the seeds of corruption within.
*Vaan staggers through town and spies upon a woman*
Vaan: Hey lady, all alone?
Woman: Begone you drunken fool, before I call for the Watch.
Vaan: Wench! You tread the streets at this late hour and expect not to be approached? I would speak more carefully.
Woman: Take a good look at yourself before you comment upon my appearance, Vaan Deathstryke! You are a mess, and smell worse than rats’ droppings… you do nothing but loiter around taverns – plainly in search of trouble. And the moment a kind soul offers you gold, it gets wasted all on ale. What has become of you?
Vaan: Don’t try to analyze me, woman! And cover yourself in future, lest you be taken for a whore.
Woman: Hmmph! *leaves*
Vaan: Heh… I would put a cork down her throat if I were able – pfft… women who believe themselves astute enough to be constructive. They should learn to be seen, not heard.
Voice: They cannot hear you…
Vaan: Wha? Now I am imagining voices.
Voice: I am as evident as the bottle beside you.
Vaan: *stands* Who are you? What do you want of me?!
Voice: You have sought for much in life for that which you could not obtain…until now.
Vaan: What would you know of my life, and my intentions for it?
Voice: No man would wish to roam the streets without a roof over his head, not a penny in his pocket, nor respect from his peers. You wish for more – it destroys you within not to achieve your goals. And you would rather disgrace yourself with wine than bend to society.
Vaan: *angry* I do not need your counsel or your patronizing. I take what I want! I do not need any person’s approval or respect!
Voice: If what you say is true, then perhaps you are disinterested in what I had come to offer you – the gift of limitless power, boundless wealth and your name on the tip of every tongue for generations to come, all this in the palm of your hand – may I then bid you adieu and leave you to your drink.
Vaan: *hesitant, then relents* Tarry, I behest of you!
Voice: Only you can truly know when you are ready for this gift. If at such time, surrender your whole-self to me to be transformed.
Vaan: But who are you?
Voice: I am the one who can grant all your wishes – call me when you are ready to behold true power – call me The Watcher.
SCENE – Port Sledge
Txt: As Port Sledge’s icy peaks broke through the mist, silence stifled the land like a blanket. No longer a sleepy fishing port, it was now thick with the air of death.
Man: *runs over with /catchbreath* Foreigners at this hour?
Anduril: We have heard of the threat in the north.
Man: Aye sir, the beasts are approaching! If I were you, I would not be here.
*man runs away*
Sentry: The enemy is upon us! To arms! To arms!
Keryn: This harbor is at a severe disadvantage. All the mountains and hills surround this point and we are pinned against the water.
Thorgrim: We cannot afford to get hemmed in at the ships! The bridge to the mainland is the enemy’s only access to the port! We must defend it at all costs!
*Group moves forward across bridge to be welcomed by the onslaught of enemy ghouls*
Waljan: By the gods… what monstrosities!
Strider *approaches* And I assure you, their bite is worse than their bark.
Athena: Wait, aren’t you…?
Strider: No time for questions! Here they come!
*Battle ensues. Consider small lines from various members like “hold the line” “Drive them back” this may make for a neat battle effect*
Keryn: Don’t be too sure. I shall patrol the outskirts to check for stragglers. *Thor emote yes and she leaves*
Zyr: Certainly they were a persistent enemy. How many did we lose?
Strider: More than expected. While we held the north entrance, some of the vermin took to the east. The bridges have long since collapsed there, but they spilled into the water and tread upon their own dead to gain access to the port.
Ming Na: I am sorry, there is little I could do for those who fell.
Strider: Mourn not the dead, their time has passed upon the land. Best to keep the living with us…the wounded have need of your service.
Ming Na: I will do what I can.
Zyr: I will assist you. *leave together*
Anduril: Pardon me, but I have not met your acquaintance.
Athena: Do you not know this man?! He is Strider Howlfang, the famed war hero of Ascalon, as part of Alderbern’s Harbingers he defended the King on numerous occasions and received great honor!
Strider: *shoo* Ah… I have not heard that title in ages, and feel that I am quite undeserving of it, I am no longer that man m’lady, although it flatters me much that you knew me from back then. Admittedly we have not seen many brave enough to venture to these parts to aid in the fight. For that, we are very grateful.
Anduril: The goddess Dwayna has commanded us to seal the gap between our world and the Underworld, in order to end this madness.
Strider: Blessings be to Dwayna! We have waited for this day for too long! It is my great pleasure to meet your company… and in such an unexpected manner!
Athena: The pleasure is all ours! It is not every day that we meet a man of your stature!
Keryn: Tsk… enough of this talk while we freeze out here in the cold. Sir, perhaps you know of a place we might rest for the night?
Strider: Yes yes… you are very welcome in… what’s left of our once magnificent village. There will be room in the monastery – as well as food and drink. Please come with me, I shall introduce you to our head monk.
SCENE – Krytan house
Text: Far away from Port Sledge, a son returns to his father
*Vaan is walking when his father appears behind him*
Father: haha… have you come here to defend the name of that wretched woman?
Vaan: That ‘wretched woman’ is my mother, and your wife.
Father: I have had many wives. One means little to me.
Vaan: What about your offspring?
Father: hmmph, we’ve discussed this before. Now go run along home and don’t come here again. Your words fall on deaf ears.
Vaan: That is not the reason for my return – I felt that I should gaze you in the eyes for a final time.
Father: Why boy? Are you finally leaving me alone?
Vaan: Father… you should find pride in your son for taking after yourself increasingly as each day passes. While it might have once caused me dismay, I believe I have finally come to terms with it… you are my father, after all.
Father: *suspicious* You have come all this way to tell me this?
Vaan: Indeed… and to do this *murders his father*
*Vaan stares at his dead father in glee*
Vaan: I am ready. DO YOU HEAR ME?! I AM READY!
Benjamin: Greetings travelers. I am Benjamin, and we the monks of the Shiverpeaks wish to welcome you into our fold. May you find rest and replenishment for your journey north!
Strider: You are most kind… Your generosity is a trait that I have remembered fondly through the years.
Benjamin: Let me show you to your quarters. It is humble but … *notices Zyr in the group. His voice deepens in hostility* You… you have dabbled where you should not. You are not welcome here! Begone from these halls, I smell the taint of forbidden power upon you.
Strider: Father Ben…
Zyr: So much for the fabled hospitality of the guardians of these peaks.
Thorgrim: What is the forbidden power he speaks so boldly of?
Benjamin: One that Dwayna would not approve of.
Zyr: I would not mince words with you, monk. I shall search for a friendlier dwelling to lay my head.
Waljan: Sir, perhaps it’s not my place, but we have travelled a long way, and all we ask for is a place to rest. Let us stay, let us all stay a night, and we shall be gone come the dawn.
Benjamin: To invite one so fallen is to invite death upon the house of the goddess!
Strider: I must apologize for this misunderstanding. Perhaps Zyr… you might spend a night in my humble abode? It is small, but it will take a second person.
Benjamin: General, you must be warned as well.
Strider: I thank you for your concern, but I will take my chances. I see no wickedness in this man, whatever had been done is now past. Will you come with me sir?
Zyr: I do not want to trouble…
Strider: Don’t be foolish, you are my guest!
Thorgrim: We are thankful that have proffered your abode to our compatriot sir. A man must stay by the fire in these parts, or he may not live to see the next morning. I have known many a men who wandered into the wilderness, never to return. Let this not be you Zyr.
Zyr: *some hesitation* That is well, I will concede.
SCENE – Underworld
Text: In the depths of the Underworld, evil incarnate was just at that moment at birth
Watcher: You will serve me and no other! Swear it by your own soul!
Vaan: *kneeling* I serve you master and no other, so I swear.
Watcher: With this bond, I bestow upon you greater power than any mortal has ever known. Such is the need, for the season grows close to when I shall return in power! You shall be my vanguard and prepare the way.
Vaan: I am yours to command, my Lord.
Watcher: My child… receive the power that will usher you into a new life! *power surges from Watcher into Vaan. Vaan changes in a surge of horrific pain and ecstacy*
*when Vaan is transformed, he observes his new body*
Watcher: Now that you are transformed, I give you your first decree; destroy my enemies, beginning with the servant who betrayed me. His name is Daldrath Ojuki…
SCENE – Strider’s Humble Home
Text: At the dwelling of the general…
Zyr: So what brings a great war hero as yourself to these parts?
Strider: I am not a hero sir, do not address me so.
Zyr: The elementalist seems to think you are.
Strider: I am aiding with the defense of this Fort, but did not start out with the noble intentions placed upon me.
Zyr: How did you come to be here then?
Strider: I have run from the past…it seems it has finally caught up to me. Being famed for strategy and courage under fire makes it all the harder to face my failures in predicting the moves of the Charr… letting Ascalon down. I could not face its ruins, knowing I had a hand in it.
Zyr: No one could have known…
Strider: Ascalon depended upon my plans to keep it standing… and yet when the Charr came, all my plans were powerless against such a potent enemy.
Zyr: Fate is sometimes cruel.
SCENE – Graveyard
Txt: As the clouds rolled past the moon, its rays washed over a silent shadow moving listlessly upon the graveyard.
*we see that it is Daldrath. And from behind him, the bladed lich appears*
Lich: I see why you have failed. Emotion is a sign of weakness, and you brim over with it.
Daldrath: I assume that you are the new pawn.
Lich: I am your executioner. Any last words?
Daldrath: *laughs in disgust* I see he has fed you the same lies. You hold loyalty to him, but he has none for you.
Lich: It would take an ingrate as yourself to withdraw from potent power. You would rather wander in graveyards, belonging neither to the world of man nor to the otherworldly. Bringing death upon you would be a charity.
Daldrath: Perhaps… but there’s a final errand for me to run before I leave the world of the living. *disappears*
Lich: Hmmph… pathetic cretin! We shall meet again, and on that day you will see your last sunset.
SCENE – Shiverpeaks
Txt: That night, a knock at the main door of the monastery echoed through its halls.
*Monk opens the door and Mole appears*
Mole: Greetings… May I know if Thorgrim resides here?
Monk: He is here. Let me take you to him.
*The monk takes him to Thorgrim*
Mole: *bow* Thorgrim… it has been too long!
Thorgrim: Haa little Mole, this very moment was worth the entire trip! How fares Iron Tree Fort?
Mole: Not well sir, the undead are quickly obliterating our defenses. The men are tired and weary, close to the point of surrender. When I heard that you had returned, I knew that I must bring you back to help with the fight, we depend upon you sir!
Thorgrim: Dwayna have mercy!
Anduril: I would like to aid you in this endeavor.
Keryn: As will I.
Thorgrim: What about the rest of the team, and Dwayna’s mission?
Ming Na: We will manage. The lives of your people are at stake… you should proceed with haste or live to regret all the dawdling of this moment.
Waljan: I agree. As important as our mission is, family should take precedence. It has been an honor to fight beside you.
Thorgrim: As it has to me, thank you for all your help.
Keryn: *turns to Waljan* As much as our lessons will have to be cut short, I hope you will diligently continue with your training.
Waljan: I will. I thank you for your patience, Keryn. I know I will be ready when the time comes.
Keryn: You are like your mother, more than you know. I am certain she would have loved to meet you.
Waljan: As I would. Perhaps when this war is won, you will share the many other tales of your time with her?
Athena: Till we meet again, be well, and godspeed.
Thorgrim: May the light of Dwayna continue to shine upon you all – and do apprise Zyr of our situation.
*they wave and leave. As the camera pans out, Vaan’s silhouette is seen*
SCENE – Strider’s Humble Abode
Txt: Zyr found sleep hard to come by as his mind raced with the foreign magic’s powerful allure. It was becoming a Herculean effort to disregard its presence. But as he verged on succumbing to its influence, he was visited by an old enemy.
*Daldrath descends before him*
Daldrath: Do not call me by that foul name.
Zyr: You have lived long enough and committed enough atrocities to merit that title.
Daldrath: This condemnation coming from one whom also practices my profession. *Zyr is taken aback* Tell me monk, what are you then?
Zyr: You dare speak to me as a man would! You have the likeness of a man, but you have lost any feeling for life!
Daldrath: Don’t…ever…say that… I have suffered more than you…will ever…
Zyr: Once you have been tainted by the Watcher there is no return!
Daldrath: Let us not beleaguer each other with personal feelings, there are more pressing matters at hand. Hear me. The Watcher is nigh ready to strike out again at this land, indeed upon all the lands in this world. He has birthed a new Lich to take my place. I was tricked into losing my soul. But this new Lich, he pleads for the darkness, and embraces it wholly… that makes him more powerful than I ever was. Destroying him will not be simple, neither will convincing him to turn against his master.
Zyr: *laugh* You expect us to trust you now.
Daldrath: I turned from my master the moment I allowed the hunter access to the Sword. I have nothing left except my final vengeance upon the one who took my soul. How better to achieve this plan than to provide your team with information that will prove helpful to the success of your mission? My goal is the same as yours.
Zyr: There is every reason that I should not listen to you.
Daldrath: You spoke to me during our last encounter… you told me of the Watcher’s purposes and intent for me. I did not listen to you then, and now I regret that it took me such a time to come to my senses. Do not make the same mistake as myself.
Zyr: *thoughtful* I will receive your word of warning and bring it to the rest of my team. But if we discover that you have misled us in any measure, know that you shall suffer greatly.
Daldrath: There is no suffering worse than what I have endured, but I accept my responsibility. Now let me whisper to you secrets of the Watcher’s realm that no one but his servants would know…
SCENE: Morning in the Shiverpeaks
Text: The team departed from their quarters at the break of dawn, just as Zyr and the general were returning.
Strider: Good morning! I trust you slept well?
Zyr: Where is the other half of the team?
Athena: We are all that remains. Thorgrim was called to his homeland late last night, and so followed Anduril and Keryn.
Zyr: Were we not depending on Thorgrim’s familiarity with the Shiverpeaks to lead us to the rift?
Strider: If I may, perhaps I can offer some assistance.
Zyr: You have done much for us, and we appreciate the offer. But do you not have a village to defend? We would hate to remove you from your duties.
Strider: I appreciate your concern, but for this moment, I feel that I would play a far more important role in guiding your team up Shiverpeaks’ slippery slopes. Do allow me the honor.
Athena: How can we refuse such an offer?! I was apprehensive with the departure of three of our team, but now I know we will surely not fail.
Strider: *laughs* Please m’lady. Now I am unsure if I might live up to your expectations!
Athena: If the tales be true, you have unrivalled skill with the bow and arrow, far surpassing battle prowess, and yet maintain such altruism that you are personally engaged with every one of your men! Your reputation precedes you sir, perhaps more than you are aware of.
Waljan: By Balthazaar Athena! You speak of him as if he were a god.
Athena: *laughs* Oh hush brother. If your craft with the Sword could equal the savvy of the general’s, then I would know for certain our battle is won. Be less quick of tongue than observant of the arts of others, and perhaps you shall learn a thing or two in the process.
Waljan: Do not seek to lecture me! You do not bear my burden, and understand little of its significance. This man has nothing more to teach me than I have already been taught.
Athena: *angry* Oooh! Stubborn oaf!
Strider: Please… let there not be strife, especially not on my account. I have been shamed enough, and will be more if it leads to the decay of a friendship.
Zyr: The general speaks true. Let us not be enemies, for there are enough that we must contend with. For this moment, I believe I speak for the team when I thank you for your proposal, and accept it. *Strider nods* There is something I have been meaning to discuss with Ming Na… perhaps we can find a quiet place to do so.
Ming Na: I am at your disposal.
*they depart for a quiet spot*
SCENE – Outer rim of Iron Tree Fort
Petrus: Thorgrim the brute! It has been ages!
Thorgrim: My dear Petrus… and lovely Ann…
Ann: We have missed you so.
Petrus: Aye! All the evenings of ale and drunken chatter. *laughs heartily*
Thorgrim: My friends… such times we’ve had! When I lay my eyes upon you, and this fair village, I know that I am home. But my heart remains unsettled to return at such an unhappy hour.
Petrus: There is much you must know of the passing of events in our homeland. But there is a time for everything, and now is one for celebrations at your return! Let us keep the troubling tales for after the feast we have prepared for you and your team.
Ann: Welcome home, dear brother of the hills! And a warm welcome to all who are in his company. Feel free to wander within the walls of the fort, and find rest in our homes *music plays*
SCENE – Corner of the woods
Txt: As the team prepared to leave, the monks spoke privately in a corner of the woods.
Zyr: Last evening, the lich with whom I battled with, made an appearance.
Ming Na: What does he desire?
Zyr: He insisted that he has altered much about his moral resolve since we saw him last; that he now fought against the Watcher, and in that effort, was keen to lend aid to our team. Admittedly at the beginning I was skeptical, but by the end of our conversation I admit that perhaps… I have been convinced of a genuine conversion.
Ming Na: You sympathize with Daldrath. You have both fought the same imprisoning force, and are now victors over the Watcher’s restraints. Praise be to Dwayna!
Zyr: Do not speak too soon, Ming Na… I had also wanted to speak to you of that source of magic I spoke of before. I am afraid that it is more powerful than I had anticipated. Every minute it grows stronger within me, and I fear that I may not be able to restrain it in the days to come.
Ming Na: There must be a way to escape from its grasp!
Zyr: Perhaps it is less of an illness than we imagine – I feel that it may inexorably prove to be an asset to our mission, as it has before.
Ming Na: The realm of chaos remains untapped for good reason, and the Watcher is witness to its tragic result.
Zyr: That will not be my end. Nonetheless, let us cease this little dispute as it is not my intention to oppose you. I have fought within myself and have finally surrendered to the fact that there is little I can do to curb its arrival. I will find control and appropriate it in some manner that is profitable to our cause. *pause* But if for any reason I am taken over by its influence, and am… changed in some manner that could possibly prove harmful to the team… *gives her a dagger* you must swiftly put an end to it.
Ming Na: I will not hear of this.
Zyr: Believe me when I say I have spent the night, and nights preceding it, considering alternatives. There is no other option. Besides, I speak of events that may or may not occur. You will need to keep the team safe.
Ming Na: Keep your blade, I will have no need for it, nor any other in the team. If you do conjoin with such power, I certainly doubt a dagger, or any other weapon, would have much, if not any effect. I shall consult Dwayna on the matter. I trust that she will have a remedy to our predicament.
Zyr: *thoughtful* Have you ever wondered what would have happened if we met outside of this calling? *Ming Na remains silent* Surely, there would not have been so much to bring us close. Do you think we could have been the same, to care for each other in the same way. I think I would have loved you as much as I do now, with all my heart. There are some things which were simply meant to be. You could call it fate… I know we were meant to be together.
Ming Na: I know little of this world, and of the fates that govern us. But we will be together, I am confident of this. No matter the time, nor the distance, we shall find a place where no troubles plague us, nor duty, nor mission can keep us apart – where I might be yours for always, and you, mine. Someday Zyr… someday.
SCENE – Another corner of the woods
Strider: *finds Athena alone* Would you require the assistance of a listening ear, m’lady?
Athena: *turns around abruptly* I am embarrassed that you would see me this way, sir.
Strider: Think none of it! We are all warranted our moment of sorrow. Now dry your tears, and allow an old man a moment to share in your burdens.
Athena: There is nothing of importance.
Strider: Indulge me, and let me decide on its importance.
Athena: It’s just that… Waljan and me, we… we’ve always been together. And perhaps in conceitedness I assumed that he would be by my side for all time. But now that we have discovered his true identity – there would be little reason he would persist in staying with me.
Strider: Have you informed him of your concerns?
Athena: I highly doubt that he would lay a care over such concerns.
Strider: Perhaps you give him too little credit.
Athena: Since we’ve retrieved the Sword, we have found dissension over every decision, even the miniscule. It wasn’t always this way. I feel I am losing him.
Strider: I may not speak for the man, but if I was blessed with the company of such a lovely damsel as yourself, I would be much a cretin to lose you.
Athena: *blush* General… you flatter me so.
Strider: Ahh.. and a smile breaks through, as ravishing as sunlight after rain.
Athena: *laugh* You do have a way with words, general. I would wonder if the ladies in Ascalon did not pile at your feet.
Strider: Perhaps they would have. But I was too busy with other matters to be distracted by the lovely ladies of Ascalon.
*Athena laughs, and Waljan watches her from a distance*
SCENE – Iron Tree Fort
Petrus: We have lost several since the beginning of this unexpected war, most of whom perished due to the length of time it took to raise our defenses… few after. But now we worry that our defenses are beginning to weaken after each attack. It will not be long before they completely overwhelm our people, and destroy our homes.
Thorgrim: Perhaps we might aid in the strengthening of your defenses.
Petrus: There is more… a few days ago, we were visited by an unseelie wight, one whose master commands the legions of undead that plague our homes. He demanded our complete surrender, and devotion to the one he serves, or to face a fatal consequence.
Thorgrim: Petrus, you must never acquiesce!
Petrus: And that I did not… but in the face of adversity, the thought has crossed our minds. Tell me, my cherished comrade, is it better to face certain death as men who are free, or to live on in exacted service to the slayer of our kith and kin?
Keryn: Does such a notion even deserve reflection?! Are your souls worth so little?
Petrus: She is right… But trust me when I say that we have lost enough for the seeds of fear to flourish, and yet that fear is what keeps us alive.
Keryn: Fear has driven many men to perform the foolish. Travel down that road and you may never return.
Petrus: I am responsible for the lives of those who remain in this stronghold, and it is a duty I plan to uphold till my last breath.
Keryn: Then fight for them! For all good men who have lost their lives in this bitter conflict! For all who are entangled by fear and are on the verge of conceding with the enemy. Fight for them!
Anduril: Listen to the woman. You need not face this struggle alone – we have travelled a long way to defend the innocent, we are quite ready to lay our lives down in this endeavor. But our efforts alone are inadequate – we require the aid of those who are fain for battle. I’m afraid that we are unable to ensure the safety of those who will come with us, but would it not be better to meet death knowing full well that you had done everything in your power to preserve what was good?
Petrus: I have considered your words… and have been convinced to do as you say. I shall assemble enough men for this mission, and pray that Dwayna will preserve all of our lives as we face evil’s minions. Blessings be to you for setting me straight… Iron Tree is too important to lose.
Thorgrim: And that we shall not.
SCENE – Shiverpeaks mountains
Txt: As the monks were returning from their conversation, they were met by the goddess.
*Dwayna appears before them, and immediately they bow*
Ming Na: Dwayna… why do you grace us with your presence?
Dwayna: A terrible fate is to befall the monks who had housed your team for the night. There will be much bloodshed and carnage if you do not return now.
Zyr: Curses! Is this the work of the Watcher?
Dwayna: It is the work of his slave, and the endless minions that he spawns to do his bidding. Be wary my children, the hour approaches.
Ming Na: We will do as you say.
*the two monks hurry off*