ReWrite


 
Diablo ReWrite Transcript +

Lilith

Oh it couldn’t have been that long ago when I first found the new realm.
I took my time, of course… savored each delight for as long as I could, and there were so many. A rich weave of cultures across disparate lands… but when I’d drunk my fill, I knew I had to at last inform my superior of my whereabouts. There was work that needed doing.

Mephisto

Normally I dismiss little Lilith and her vagueries, but this time she had conveyed something of legitimate interest. The denizens failed to impress… short lived, short sighted, no power, no ambition. But they rest on fertile ground… a new realm wherein new magics could be wrought.
Even I was able to bring many to willing yoke. Trinkets and trifles, and my own cult formed, mostly beyond direct control. I let it flourish and blossom on its own while I concentrated on the important work…
Those within could accomplish works beyond the capacity of me or mine, filtering and transmuting magics of all four primal forces equally… Allowing not just new combinations, but to filter existing magics… Removing chaos or good, evil or order…
But this was child magic compared to true potential. Great artifacts of reality-shuddering power, affixed to the Fabric itself through equally great sacrifice…
And so my faithful gathered dozens, hundreds, and fed them to the depths.
Three would be forged, one each for myself and my adopted kin, and with their might we would finally be able to muster throngs to our banner and challenge the Four Lords of Hell.

Diablo

My elder ‘brother’ bid me visit some backwater plane on urgent business. I thought about ignoring him. Or worse. He’d hate that. But Baal talked me out of it. If he had something in mind for all three of us it was probably important.
The place stank. Ichor, bloat, oil, grease, sweat, fat. It reeked. I hated it. Whatever dear brother wanted had better be worth it.

Baal

The value was beyond count. One for each, imbued with dying screams of hundreds of willing sacrifices, imbuing us each with a concept to call our own.

Mephisto

I sought what I’ve always sought; To influence, dominate, coerce, control. I took for myself the Aspect of Hatred, that all before us would dance to my tune.

Diablo

I wanted to bring low our enemies before they even spotted us. Curses and anxieties, corruption unseen. So I took for me the Aspect of Terror.

Baal

I had no such ambitions. When mine had fill of fun, I desired only to ruin all that remained, and so Destruction was Aspected to me.

Mephisto

And thusly empowered did we return to the Burning Hells, sat in corner of Fabric’s weave, to garner the disenfranchised and unscrupulous, and wage our just war against the Four Lords. With victory would come dominance, and we would rise to the stations we so deserved, and finally put an end to the Sin War.

Akarat

And In their wake I beheld a terrible sight.
My fellow brethren… thieving, torturing, mutilating… slaughtering. It was a small group, but the local magistrate counted amongst their number. To rise up against them was to risk death, but what choice did I have? The killing had to stop.
I had but simple means to preach my simple message; Be kind one to another. Even I was surprised at how quickly it took, as such acts of kindness paid forward like a great wave. Even the magistrate, heart hardened, *** was touched by the pleas and benedictions of the common people.
We marched on the capitol weeks later, simple folk and nobility alike, seeking an audience. It was the magistrate who helped sway the guards, and with her kind words we were able to greet the Emperor himself.
I… I did not live to see the fulfillment of my dream. They continued their faith in my name, dubbing it the Zaka room, and soon all of Khejistan swayed towards kindness and peace.

Tyrael

I hated my designated task.
Every time a new realm was found, contested, and absorbed, it fell to dreary Tyreal to collect and catalog the new arrivals. Plants, animals, and people all had to be shown their place in the order of things. It was exceedingly dull.
Even the occasional realm consumed by the Burning Hells only provided brief variance in iteration.
Desperate for any reprieve, I took a lengthy sojourn across the Plains of Entoon. The walk did me some good. Crystal trees accented winding winds, the melody of symmetry. Everything in its proper place and pattern.
As I wandered the pattern grew dissonant, and I was reminded once again of the futility of it all. Eternal war flourishing across the Fabric, preventing form or function save in one little corner. All that remained was ruination.
I do not know how long I walked… days, weeks. None were as surprised as I when my thoughts stilled, and I realized I did not know where I was.
Oh a new realm, to be sure, but one I knew nothing of. A cursory examination confirmed it had only recently connected with the outer edges of the High Heavens, likely driven there by some recent shift or another.
I reported this to my fellow councilmembers, of course, that the machinations of war and bureaucracy could commence.

Imperius

The Council convened as was the norm, to consider and debate… as was their norm. The new realm was seemingly untouched by demon hands, and the others insisted it showed great promise for whoever held it.
I didn’t care much either way, myself, until I was skimming the reports and discovered the realm had a direct connection to the Hells. At this I suddenly realized why the others were so abuzz, and immediately raised my personal levy, and roused my greatest warrior Izual to race to the border of this new realm.
I was no fool of course, would not take drastic action until the Council had finished their deliberations, but it was clear what the intent was, and so I had our forces construct a great fortress in these borderlands… still on the side of the new realm, but in striking distance of the outermost edges of the Hells. The architects dubbed it Pandemonium.
Blessedly the Council did not take over long; the fortress was finishing construction when word came down of their decision.
It was… not what I was expecting.

Auriel

It is the adjudication of the Angiris Council that, using the unique magics available within this new realm, a grand artifact shall be constructed that shall permanently divide it from its connection to the Burning Hells. This device, the Worldstone, shall ensure peace and tranquility for the realm henceforth, and speed it along its destined path. For the High General Imperius, we do have a task most important…

Izual

I trusted in their wisdom, as I always did. This… Sanctuary, they were calling it now, would doubtless assist in Heaven’s endeavors for years to come. And besides, they gave me the job I love best.
The fortress Pandemonium completed, I mustered under Imperius’ banner and we charged directly into the Burning Hells, a distraction to light the demons’ attention whilst this Worldstone was constructed by angelic architects.
This was a task I relished, as I always did. Me and my valiants crashed into the unsuspecting lines of Hell… over and over we claimed easy victory. Too often… and too easy.

Imperius

Curious, I sent one of my infiltrators to ascertain what was going on in the Hells. To my surprise, a civil war was currently raging, one that had not even reached my ears. Apparently three upstarts were challenging the Four Lords…
Now it was not uncommon for the Four to have to defend their positions, unkempt and barbarous as the demons were by nature, but what surprised me was these Three were apparently making strong headways, so much so that none were certain who was currently ahead.
In that moment, I knew. I knew the wisdom of the Council, and the blessing the Fabric had gifted us. No more mere skirmishes or distraction tactics, I called forth the host of Heaven to smash into Hell’s lines, and we butchered by tens of thousands. We would end the Sin War, right here and now.

Duriel

It was not a good day.
Azmodan and Belial were allowed their usual preenings, and most of the upper officers weren’t aware, but Andariel and I knew the truth; the upstarts were doing well.
Curse them! How were they managing what so many others had failed at? Generations of delicate balance of the Four all being smashed by three children.
And then the armies of Heaven arrived. Admittedly we knew this was coming, indeed it was strange how long they’d taken to respond, but we weren’t quite prepared for the ferocity and size of their assault… spearheaded by the great warrior Izual and his patient master, no less.
I grew worried, but scheming Andariel saw opportunity…

Andariel

After all, how could we wage a great war between our own kind when more tempting targets presented themselves? It took mere days to convince much of the Three’s forces to abandon them and return to our side… With a unified front we were able to refocus our lines against General Imperius and his attack dog, which was good, because by about now he’d decided to start guerilla tactics through the deep crevices of the Hells.
As we prepared for a long and grueling campaign, I lamented the fate of the Three. I simply did not have the time or the patience to deal with them, and so they were cast out of the Hells, banished by virtue of the… Four… Lords, and would languish in their chosen prison until death finally claimed them.

Auriel

With the Worldstone construction complete, the barrier rose as planned… though faithful Imperius was not heard from, and presumed lost to his wages in the Burning Hells. A three day memorium was held across the Heavens, and there are some who held vigil over his Seat for much longer…
Regardless, with this, Sanctuary would no doubt drift towards the Heavens and soon join us in the great pattern.
Only… as months marched on, it didn’t.

Malthael

As chief fabrimancer and scholar of the weave, it fell to me to understand and comprehend what was causing Sanctuary’s reticence.
The first and most obvious theory was that demonic presence remained, and while the Council took this to be true and acted accordingly, I knew better. Even the presence of one of the Four would not be enough to anchor Sanctuary this way. No… something else was stopping it, pinpricks of alteration that hooked the realm onto Fabric’s weave. Yet they proved, ironically, frustratingly difficult to pin down.

Mephisto

I was less than pleased. Moments away from greatness, only for it to be ripped away by angels. Typical. At least we were left someplace more enjoyable than some. The efforts of the High Heavens had certainly turned many of these… humans towards their way of thinking, but it was easy enough to coerce a few with bribery and pleasantries. I learned of the formation of the Horadrim, angel’s chosen mages, and worse… our little puppets had never stopped their experiments into artifacts after the construction of our aspects. These artificers could cause us permanent problems.

Zoltun Kulle

My fellows simply did not think large enough. To be assured, our lives could be prolonged or even returned upon death, but what if we could crystallize our existence… I envisioned a form of soul stasis that would allow the aged, the wizened, the skilled to endure past their years and bestow their presence upon newer generations. Perhaps some day we could even uplift all mankind into such a state? Fortunately some of my more outlandish brethren concocted an idea for a soul matrix that I was able to build upon…

Cain

Word came down through our angelic allies; there were demons, powerful ones, still upon Sanctuary. They were trapped here, but with the bulk of the Angels’ home army lost with Imperius it was given to us, the Horadrim, to excise these cancers from Sanctuary.
My role in all this was the study of the artifacts constructed in times past, to help us better understand and find these demon lords, a task I had no small difficulty with. But with knowledge in hand the hunt was to begin, though… the Horadrim seemed split on what exactly to do with the lords upon their defeat.
With elder Kulle’s new soul matrix, a new design sprang forth; a soulstone. This could be implanted into a being, containing them within it. They would be preserved so long as the soulstone was preserved, but if implanted into another host, that host would gain all the powers of the stone’s prisoner. This, they argued, was the Horadrim’s true task; to not simply remove the demons, but to be empowered by them.
Slowly the Horadrim began to factionalize. Certain powerful and influential magelords, such as Sankekur or Tal Rasha, gathered followers who they promised veneration and rewards if they supported their bid for the stones.
I hesitate to use the phrase ‘civil war’ to describe those dark days, as there was nothing civil about it. I do not know why I endured as long as I did in blood-soaked halls, but when Jazreth and I found a young girl orphaned by coincidence and collateral, he and I at last bowed out of such political endeavors. Taking the child in as her surrogate fathers, we traveled west to the lands of Khanduras. In the months that followed, I dared not think about what we left behind.

Marius

I was… brilliant then. Knight Captain of King Persivell, a long and illustrious career behind me, there was discussion of me being landed soon, and I relished the idea of a comfortable retirement away from the hustle of courtly life.
We were patrolling the southern shores when we first saw it. Clearly inhuman, whatever it was charged my platoon and slaughtered two of my soldiers within seconds. With surprise on its side it was able to unsteady us, but we stood firm… so it became cruel instead. Darting through and around our chargers, whispering words we couldn’t quite hear, dashing out of shadows to drag another of our number down.
As my people died one by one the world around me dimmed, and soon all I could hear was the thundering of my own heart. It took some seconds before I could even realize we were giving as much as we were taking, the beast’s black blood sizzling on the ground as its wounds slowed it down. When all were slain but me and he, it stared at me, glaring. It produced a small colorless gem, sharp like a dagger, and spoke in a tongue that smelt like crushed ants and sulfur. It told me the magestone it held was the only way it could be slain, grinning all the while. When I asked why taunt me with its very weakness, it laughed. It enjoyed feasting on my terror, my helplessness.
In the face of such a burden of knowledge I did the only thing I could do.
I ran.

Maghda

We weren’t doing particularly well.
No artifacts, no positions, no prominence, no power. Every avenue of advancement curtailed. We needed something, something to give us an edge over the factions and lords, something that could give us that precious inch in the door…
Some strange old man in a white cloak approached my sister about a nightmare beast, and pointed us in the right direction. Curious, and more than a little desperate, we took our group south… There was a palpable magic in the air, and I could feel it growing thicker the further we journeyed. When we passed a young man, screaming in terror, I knew we were close.
Imagine my surprise when we found an entire troop of Khanduras knights, slain to the last. The scene was… grisly, but informative. They had clearly fought bravely, but the beast in question was no where to be seen.
Instead all we spied was one knight’s corpse gripping a jagged red stone, as if plunging it downwards into the ground. They were quite dead, of course, but the stone…
The stone pulsed with demonic power. This… this, at last, would be our great edge.

Lazarus

I and my fellows experimented on the stone for many nights, and though nightmares made sleep difficult, ultimately we learned nothing of import or value. Disgruntled, many of our group were content to simply move on, but the two sisters argued.
Maghda proposed making an offering of the artifact, using it to curry favor with the King. Adria disagreed, violently. I tried not to overhear some of their conversation, but the shouting made it difficult, and it was clear Adria had… lost something in the last few months. Spouting nonsense about a lord and the precepts of the Burning Hells, she attempted to take the stone by force, but we came to the assistance of our more sane leader, and Adria elected instead to simply leave, alone, into the wilds. We of the Coven agreed with Maghda’s plan… after all, at this point, what was there to lose?

Adria

The fools used the stone to barter with their vaunted polity. The elder king Percivell accepted their gift graciously, granting them position, clout in his court, as they always wished.
Me? I drifted. I had great knowledge of magic and alchemy, passing myself off as a lowly witch of the wilds, offering my services and goods to whomever chose to buy. It was menial work for a menial life, but it allowed me to keep an ear to the ground for rumors and whispers.
I learned that the King, in a ceremony where he bequeathed his crown to his son Leoric, had made the stone an emblem of Khanduras. That any who held it held a right to the throne, an heirloom of his bloodline. And being of such import, it was entombed deep within the other venerated artifact of Khanduras; the Cathedral… of Tristram.

Griswold

I only moved ta Tristram pretty recently. Heard tales of a simple farming kingdom called Khanduras, grabbed me tools and me bag and just headed off.
Nice enough spot. Didn’t have much call for arms and armor, but I was kept busy with local work. Nice change of pace. Best part though? The produce!
Turns out a long time ago some bigwigs got together and built themselves an artifact. Not some little trinket, mind. These folks got clever; I dunno the specifics but they made a whole building by enchantin’ specific parts an’ the like. Brilliant stuff. Called it the Cathedral! Does some flammerjijoo with the surroundin’ lands, keeps the crops big and healthy. And o’ course healthy crops means healthy livestock! It’s nothin’ fancy, mind, but it keeps things happy and hearty.
Nice stuff, nice stuff. I timed mah visit well too; There was some spat with the grand vizier pretty recently. The local witch, Aydsomethin, was tellin’ me all about it. Turns out she (the vizier, not the witch) was caught plottin’ against Prince Albrecht, and out on her bum she went. O’er a decade o’ service, gone in a night! Shame. Some scrawny little lad named Lazarus took over in her place.
All a buncha hullabaloo. Glad I skipped out. Me? I’m content just to sit, ply, and have a pint now and again. I said as much to the nice lass what came through jez a bit ago, what were her name again.. Doratha? Mainar?…

Moreina

My name is Moreina. I serve at the behest of my Elder Akara as the first Flight of the Sisterhood of the Sightless Eye.
I had spent much of my time in the past few years as outreach to many of the other factions of Sanctuary. The Children of Bul-Kathos, the Priests of Rathma, the Church of Zakarum, the mages of Zann Esu, even the Viz Jaq’Taar. Though dull, I did not begrudge my chosen task. The Sisterhood served as crucial link between defenders of the lands, and it felt best to stay on top of things.
I hear much in my travels, including disturbing rumors from the eastern capital of Kurast, but such things were far from my mind now. Others of our order had reported, very recently, a strange migration of many beasts and other creatures of the plains migrating en masse towards one of the nearby cities. I was to follow, report, and if possible assist. The Sisterhood was on formal terms with Khanduras, and we would prefer it to remain that way.
The city itself was welcoming; Friendly folk, nice atmosphere, but something felt… off in the air. A few cursory questions and I was pointed towards the local Cathedral. Apparently the stampede had made its way into the depths of the edifice, disturbing more than a few local worshippers and actually killing a few townsfolk in the confusion.
While the local soldiers were still mustering, I vowed to descend into the depths and determine for myself what was transpiring.

Akara

I was growing worried.
Moreina’s first report had come back with its usual promptness, but that was the last we’d heard of her, and it had been over a week now. Worse, reports of random… unexplainable deaths were growing more frequent. I was already preparing pen to paper when I was surprised by a visit of two of the Horadrim.
Apparently the newly crowned King Albrecht had already sent missive before Moreina had even arrived begging the mages’ help with the recent troubles. The elder, Jazreth, was a skilled summoner and bade his friend and their ward to reside with us in the Keep whilst he investigated the city for himself. Before he left I requested any word of our wayward sister, to which he readily agreed. Jazreth was always such a calming presence, and my trembling nerves stilled.

Jazreth

The Cathedral was troubled, clearly. I could sense the malice seeping out of the very stones, driving the local beasts mad. I warned the city before my descent, but only young Lazarus seemed to listen.
Regardless, I had a duty to perform. My loyal elements and summoned beasts kept me safe the first few treacherous levels, but the further down I went the worse things seemed to get. Crazed monsters, frothing and screaming, but worst of all was the tomb… Here slept late King Leoric and his loyal guard, or so I thought. But after trading blows and spells with their skeletal remains, I knew powerful magic was perverting and twisting the Cathedral’s very core. Leoric himself, crown still on his skeletal head, was already damaged when I found him, and though it cost me dearly, the cursed king was no more.
So tired… I just need to rest a little while before I make my way back to the surface.

Cain

An unfamiliar man entered Eastgate Keep. A Crusader of Zakarum named Aiden, he was here on ordinary business; Simply exchanging information with the Sisterhood before returning to his troop, but his visit was fortuitous.
For Akara and I both agreed; it had been far too long without any word from my good friend. Akara begged young Aiden’s aid, to which he readily agreed of course, but as he was prepping for the journey we decided that no lone wanderer should travel to Tristram henceforth. I volunteered to join the brave young man… my magical skills weren’t what they used to be, but I could still support him in his journey. And of course I am something of a scholar, so who knows? Mayhap my knowledge would be useful.

Akara

I worried after them as they departed. Cain was a good friend, and the young Aiden showed promise. It took me only a few minutes to pen the letters and send my faithful rogues to the four corners, seeking further aid. I prayed they would not be necessary.

Lazarus

Join me, my fellows! Follow me, my brethren! The king’s chosen have failed, and so it falls to us to cleanse this befouled place!
Downwards!!

Cain

What is going on here?

Griswold

Oy,the archbishop is leadin’ the local guards down ta cleanse da Cathedral.

Cain

But… but what about the heroes who braved its depths?

Griswold

Why do ye think we be feelin’ we need ta send in the guards?

Cain

…damnation. Aiden? Aiden! I fear the worst. Are you ready? Good, let us descend, mayhap we will be able to catch the locals and join forces.

…this truly is a cursed place. The… *gagging* oh, the… is that inside out? I… I see our compatriots at least made some headway.. I think, *ugh*, I think I can hear the soldiery up ahead. We should hurry.

Lazarus

Just a bit further, comrades! Don’t let losses stop you! Think of your families counting on you!

Cain

Is that…? *restraining from vomiting* I… is that the crown of Khanduras? (kneeling, bones scraping) This… there’s blood everywhere, but no bodies.. Just broken bones. What a pitiable fate. *pause* Come, surely Jazreth and Moreina are ahead.

Lazarus

No… no! Please, anyone, oh God AHGH please help! Ach!

Cain
Hurry my friend! My… god. Are you alright?

Lazarus

We did it… *wet cough* With the beasts gone, the Cathedral is cleansed. But they… none of them…

Cain

Sir, what… what is that gemstone?

Lazarus

This? It was lying on the central pedestal… it was the only weapon I could find in the scuffle… the… the creatures… my allies…

Cain

Their deaths were not in vain, good sir. Now please, listen to me… listen to my voice…

Lazarus

W…what?

Cain

…that’s it. Focus on me. I need you to give me that stone, sir. It is very dangerous, and you shouldn’t hold that any longer than necessary.

Lazarus

You… you just want to take it… you want the stone for yourself!

Cain

No, sir. Please, be calm. Aiden! Lower your sword.

Lazarus

You DO just want it! You’re just like Maghda..! I showed her… I’ll show you too…

Cain

Sir! You are in no condition! If we could just get you back to town to heal you…

Lazarus

You like that, don’t you! Helpless, pathetic Lazarus! Just like always! They spat on me! They hated me! But they’re gone now! I’m here! I’m here now!!

Cain

Sir, I am going to have to ask you to–Aiden no!

Lazarus

Gah! No.. no! No no no no! I… I have to! I have to! (sound of jabbing self with stone) A…agh… I… I… where am I…? GAH! (sword hitting sound)

Cain

I’m sorry friend… it was for the best. Rest now…
(pause)
Aiden… we… y.you should take the stone for now. Let us return… the people deserve to be told of our victory this day.

Adria

Aiden was having trouble sleeping. Little wonder; any brush with greatness diminishes us lessers.
Few in town raised an eyebrow when I wandered into his room alone, as I’d hardly be the first that evening to offer my ‘congratulations’. As he spoke to me of the visions that plagued his sleep, I relished in their tellings, and offered him some of my more potent concoctions to allow him to embrace them fully.
Of course he thought it mere sleep aid.
When he came to visit me the next day… I prostrated, trembling, my body betraying me in my lord’s presence. He had commands for me, which I committed to heart, and then asked of me an odd question I did not have an immediate answer for.

Diablo

Where is the Knight Captain Marius.

Marius

The first few years had been… unpleasant. Drink and drug reducing the nightmares to distant memories, but still left me bereft of station and the benefits thereof. Daring not to show my face to my fellows, I stole into my former home to take a portion of my former wealth and fled, settling within Eastgate Keep that controlled the path through the Tamoe Mountain Range.
The people there were hospitable, and treated me well. A few seemed to recognize me, but though I feared, none seemed inclined to oust me to my former post.
With what I had I was able to buy the tavern I stayed at, and over the years I slowly settled into a comfortable routine. Occasional renovations, importing fine wines and meats, and catering to the many travelers who frequented the route between Lut Gholein and the cities of Westmarch, Kingsport, Tristram. It was not as glamorous as my former life, but I was content.
I do not know how many years had passed… but one day a stranger wandered into my corner of the world. He was greeted as all passerbys were, but I spotted him from the back and recognized his arm and armament as a Crusader of the east.
Always eager to please the host of Zakarum I paused in my countings and went out to greet him personally.
When he saw me, his… his eyes… I… they weren’t… I didn’t know. I didn’t know!
I pleaded, begged, sobbing on my knees, the screaming MY screaming, it wouldn’t stop the flames, the flames spread and spread and spread and spread and I pleaded to nothing for nothing to return…
Please…. Please… please… please… please… please…

Akara

Amidst the spreading flames and monsters and panic, even the dead rose to challenge our exodus. Elders aided the younger and less experienced, but in the end we lost… many.
I was ‘fortunate’ enough to survive, and led our quiet group to one of our nearby encampments to recoup and recover. There was no doubt in my mind this fell work was related to the recent events in Tristram, and so before we’d even set up the first tent I had runners chasing the corners of the map to inform allies. With luck, promised aid would arrive soon… No half measures this time, we would send forth a group of heroes.
The first two arrived within just a few hours of each other.

Cassia

Thankfully I was already en route for unrelated business… troubles in the eastern lands passing through the network, and per our agreement I was sent as representative of the Askari to the Sisterhood. Imagine my surprise upon finding the state of our allies’ former home. With luck I was able to link up with a fellow traveler, a Paladin of Zakarum on similar errand, and together find the Sisterhood’s makeshift encampment. The matron there was welcoming, and the two of us were quickly directed towards nearby Tristram.

Jeffery

Though weary, I pressed my stalwart companion onwards, for fear held grip upon my heart. Asked I upon the Matron the whereabouts of my friend and ally, Aiden, but no word, ill or fair, returned. Thusly, upon horizon coated in smoke, all heart sank and my senses fled. Ran I, unthinking, until city’s edge crumbled and crackled ‘neath tristful boots. Thankfully, all was not lost.
The Warmatron’s excellent vision spotted fresh tracks, and a short jaunt lead us to survivors. Though scant few in number, we counted among them one Deckard Cain, and an… interestingly garbed man named Hakon.

Hakon

Animals and plantlife alike were not spared whatever was coming out of Tristram’s Cathedral. I had been nearby for a few weeks already, trying to take samples and see what I could when the Dark Wanderer hit. The attack was so fast and brutal that by the time I made it to the city proper it was already on fire.
The people were haggard and panicked… I suppose I don’t blame them, but it made my job much harder. Like herding Khazra. We got a good number out before the chaos claimed too many, but now I had a herd of scared, hungry people who couldn’t scavenge to save their life. Uh, literally.
I was pretty happy to see the paladin and the amazon. This was not my forte at all. It was only a couple days trek to the rogue’s encampment, where the much more capable Akara and her Sisters could take on the task of feeding and keeping the crowd.
Glad to be rid of the burden, my compatriots and I were instead tasked with something a bit more on our level; Infiltrating Eastgate Keep and dealing with whatever evil lurked within.

Cassia

I confess, in private, I was not ready for what we faced. A low, dull howling of whimpering pain that never ceased floated on the winds as we approached the front gates. My comrades wisely cautioned our approach; the gate was open, and so we were able to slip in quietly. The dead roamed the halls like broken marionettes, a mockery I had trouble stomaching. Through concealment and conflict we made our way through the postern… but the primary passageway was blocked by two defenders, and a grisly sight.

Jeffery

I could scant comprehend what I beheld. It took the druid’s trained eye to realize what we spied once called itself a man, strewn particularly as to retain his life, that his suffering fuel the scornful duo guarding him.

Cain

I… *struggling for words*

Hakon

They block the way, we can’t avoid them.

Cassia

Then we don’t.

*pause for music and visual time skip*

Cain

…what was… left of Jazreth and poor Moreina had barred our path. Though I was of no real help in battle, my more martially inclined comrades were able to lay our former… allies to rest. I… *breath* Eastgate’s cemetery had been raided by our enemy before our arrival, and I felt it… unsafe to lay them there. We carried their bodies a ways apart, to the edge of a small brook, where their sleeping bones might be able to listen to the rustling water. Jazreth always loved the sound of water. Soothed him, helped him sleep.
I stayed there in contemplation while my comrades reconnected with Akara and the Sisters and did… whatever else they were doing. In the moment I admit I couldn’t bring myself to care, and I honestly considered simply staying behind. But then my thoughts turned to young Leah, and I swore I could hear Jazreth’s voice quietly chiding me. And I knew. I knew. When the three returned, I was ready.

Hakon

After the sage had lost his nerve in the Keep I sort of assumed he’d end up staying behind. Not that it made much difference to me, though the other two seemed to treat him like some big wig. I was surprised the kid was coming though.

Akara

Dear Cain actually asked me to keep his young ward… Leah, I think was her name?… safe for him, but I firmly declined. The Keep… what was left of my Sisters… we were in no position to care for a fledgling woman. And besides, the girl had seen too much of loss as is. She needed to be with what was left of her family… while she still could.

Cassia

Fortunately we did have one boon in all of this. The poor wretch left behind, the one ritualistically strewn in agony? He still lived, if you could call it that. We freed him, ending the runes binding him and letting him pass… But before he did he was able to tell us one simple phrase.

Marius

Lut… Gholein…

*pause break for music and background shift*

Cassia

It was only a few days travel, but that trip was unforgiving. We had the good fortune to gain the assistance of a local caravan master, but I do not relish making that journey again anytime soon. With fresh water, shade, and a bit of rest under our belts, we were quick to reach out to the local lord; Jerhyn.

Cain

Fortunately I was familiar with the young lord… we’d even spoken briefly some years ago while… …while we were traveling through the region. Whilst Leah played with the attendants, my fellows and I briefed the man on our fears and concerns.

Jerhyn

It was always a treat to see one of the Horadrim, though I was crestfallen to hear the fate of his fellow. Tales of the horrors wrought in the Eastgate Keep were terrible, of course, but like a puzzle piece fitting into place. Our own recent issues in the sewers which my soldiery were still cleaning up from would seem to fit the overall timeline. And since the Zann Esu magess had been poking around just a few days prior, it seemed a good a time as any.
I confessed to Deckard, a bit embarrassed, that I’d forgotten about the old vault until my memory was jogged by news of fallen Jazreth. Whilst my troops swept the town for signs of the magess, I entrusted to good Deckard a small magical key that had been left in my possession some years prior.
The gentleman looked at it with recognition, and a hint of emotion I couldn’t quite catch before he held it close and whispered something into it. Before my very eyes a portal to another realm opened, and quietly in the back of my mind I made a note to fire my court mages for their failures. I managed to congratulate young Cain before my body guards were ushering me from the room.

Jeffery

Naturally, danger present, comrades hastened to displace trembling Cain and charge into portal maw. An… uncertain time of confusion later we returned, unwilling, having been sent completely askew by maze’s entrapments. Brave Cain offered to sojourn alone, and whilst several minutes passed in silence bringing fear to heart, the sage returned, an object in hand.

Hakon

What’s that?

Cain

It’s called a Horadric Cube.

Cassia 6

Will it help?

Cain

I have no idea.

*flash of light, music suddenly stops*

Tyrael

Deckard Cain! If you value your life, you must come with me immediately!

Isendra

This whole assignment sucks.
Traipsing around the desert getting sand in my shoes, chasing down amateurs. The Horadrim are okay for hedge wizards, but when they screw up boy does it cause a mess. Still, at least some wizards know enough to setup some basic safety and alarm wards. I had a good hour’s warning before the… whoever he was showed up.
Normally I would’ve ignored him or, if he proved irritating, confront… but one of the wards was throwing some feedback I didn’t like, so I held back a bit and watched from behind a veil.
Clad in iron and bulky, he didn’t look like any mage I’d ever seen, and the way he tore apart the keystones was just slapdash… but powerful. Very powerful. I quietly added another layer to the veil while the man started to descend into the tomb…
…I was watching pretty close, so I got a nice shot of his surprise as fire and destruction blasted him. The guy’s cloak was burnt clean off, which was nice because I could see his expression over the next few minutes.
He was… super unhappy. He shouted something at another figure which emerged from the pit, but whatever was said in return I have absolutely no idea. I’m not sure it was any language, more like just… yelling. And fire. Whole lotta fire. Thing is, the guy who came out of the ground didn’t seem like he was trying to hurt the other guy… or… anything, really. Just senseless destruction at whatever happened across his gaze.
Aaand it was causing some real damage to the nearby terrain, let me tell you. The first gentleman turned tail and fled. I thought about following suit, but fortunately two angels arrived a few minutes later…there’s something you won’t hear me say often… and the one, Auriel, and I were at least able to direct and contain the, uh, tomb-goer’s rage whilst the other sought help.
Gotta be honest, I’ve dealt with a lot of crap in my life, but those were some intense hours. We couldn’t really hurt the guy–the angel lady just called him ‘demon’–without being at serious risk of injury or death ourselves, but we could drag his attention this way or that and try to contain how much of the desert he was wrecking.
And I know what yer thinkin’; Who cares if he just smatters some sand around? Thing is, the Fabric was getting a bit warped from all this raw power coursing over it. It was starting to cause some ripples and warps, and I soon found myself trying to explain all this to Auriel, but magic wasn’t her forte I guess.
Doesn’t matter; Point is, we got organized and started spreading the damage around. Bad for the desert, but good for reality.
We were still playing pongo with demon boy when I saw a hell of a sight.

Cassia

Tyrael flung me through the air and I landed directly on our opponent, spear first. Blazing waves of nightmare magic erupted from the man’s hands, but I was already behind, gripping shaft with both hands and upending him, sending him and spear-still-impaled into a nearby dune. In moments, waves of ice flung from sorceress hands coated the dune, temporarily trapping the fiend.

Isendra

Some dude was summoning up a massive storm to surround the creature, and the flits of lightning already rumbling gave me an idea…

Cassia

The stark smell of ozone filled the air as blinding sheets of lightning thundered down through my spear and into the creature. I braced, knowing what was to come… thankfully comrade Jeffery had already moved into position. Between shield and magic the worst of the detonation was deflected, leaving us damaged but capable. The crater he left was wide, and at its very center lay a small yellow crystal in the shape of a dagger. The sorceress moved towards it, wards ready, but before I could caution her I was interrupted by the angel.

Auriel

Hear me, heroes. You have done a great thing today; this demon has been destroyed.

Cain

But… my lady, I knew this man. That was Tal Rasha, the magelord, premiere of our order… And that… that is a soulstone.

Auriel

A… what?

Cain

It was Kulle’s invention, it would contain the power of a demon and imbue it into its host… though I can only imagine it did not work very well if the magelord was driven mad by it as he was.

Auriel

*audible pause* That was not a human, young scholar. That was a demon, Baal, one of the Usurpers.

Tyrael

That is because the stones never worked as intended. Forgive me, I suspected before, but this confirms beyond a doubt; Soulstones never imprisoned the demon lords within, but rather gave them a taste of immortality by letting them seduce and control their new hosts.

Auriel

So Tal Rasha died years ago… But… this explains Malthael’s concerns perfectly. If we can gather and destroy these Soulstones, the demons will be purged from Sanctuary forever.

Cain

If I may… I believe I might know where one of them might be.

Natalya

Things were not going well.
The forces of Sankekur had been bad enough, and only a score of my fellow Viz Jaq’Taar remained. We hadn’t held ground in the city proper in over a year, but in the last few months a swarm of… bizarre, blood worshiping cultists had swarmed the jungle pathways.
It was…. *takes a moment* The bastards enjoyed guerilla tactics, hit and runs, and other unpleasantness. I still …
The docks were our last bastion… with our back to the sea it was harder for the bloodglutters to employ their preferred methods, and thankfully they were no good in a straight fight. But that just meant doldrums. We couldn’t advance, but neither could they. They had the city and the jungle to keep them going, we had the port and its supply ships.
I was thinking of pulling out about a week ago… in truth some of my assassins already had, not that I’d admit knowing that… but for a letter sent from the elder Akara.

Akara

My fellow Viz Jaq’Taar. There is a dire threat we face with immediacy that requires your expert care. We do not know the full scope nor scale of this threat yet, but I implore you to stand firm and stay in correspondence. As I pen this letter I am sending one of my best rogues to investigate, and I hope to have more news for you soon.

Natalya

Since then we’d received several more letters detailing horrors I am all too familiar with, and it is at her urging that I now remain, holding the line with what’s left of my order. And though it had been only days… I admit they were quite wearying to me. You can imagine my surprise when promised reinforcements arrived, accompanied by two angels.

Hakon

I almost didn’t get off the boat. Oh I know what you’re thinkin’, and no. It wasn’t fear, or even the tales of the fetish warriors… No it was just… wrong. Even here on the boat, barely in sight of jungle’s edge, I could feel the perversion of it. The howling wouldn’t leave my ears for the entirety of our stay in Kurast.

Cain

(fear) I did not want to be here again… I cannot imagine what young Leah would think if I had brought her. Though she was not fond of my choice, she will be safe in Lut Gholein under Lord Jeryhn’s care. These jungles were no longer for decent folk.
Fortunately one of the Viz Jaq’Taar was waiting for us. Highest ranked of the remaining assassins, young Natalya was focused and quite helpful. While she and Jeffery discussed strategy and shared information, I took a rare moment to rest my feet and found my thoughts… drifting in directions they oughtn’t.

Cassia

While the paladin and the assassin discussed, Isendra and I conferred privately. It was rare to meet someone so… casually competent, it was oddly refreshing. Oh don’t mistake me, my comrades were capable enough, but the synergy of Zann Esu and Askari worked wonderfully. Already she was discussing the possibility of elementally empowered arrows and I the idea of flaming jabs. A good thing too, the jungle was… unpleasant.

Jeffery

I speak truthfully; without angel’s presence, I would strongly reconsider our chosen task. Yet as company focused, progress made swift accompaniment. Harassers and skirmishers beaten back with fire and thunder. My heart grieved for fair Hakon, as yon jungle’s torture sat ill upon him, and vowed I to dispel this curse with haste for sake of fellow. Yet same fellow was he who, through cobwebs of torment, spied our first bit of good fortune.

Natalya

It was a brain. Just… sitting there, magically preserved. My first instinct was fire, but the scholar with us was able to identify it… somehow. Apparently it was the brain of one of the former Horadrim, a person named Khalim who had opposed Sankekur. Near as he could tell, Sankekur decided the best way to deal with this person was to magically preserve him and then chop him into bits to ensure he remained in agony for all time.

Isendra

As it happened, my new besty had actually seen this before. And from this, good ol’ booksmeller over there came up with a plan.

Cain

If we could find these pieces and use Jezreth’s Horadric Cube, we could craft a magical focus that would pierce directly to the source of this curse… likely Sankekur, or rather Mephisto, himself.

Tyrael

As I watched them puzzle their way through the jungle, picking at tormented organs, I knew I had chosen well.

Auriel

With such allies, a true end to the Sin War might finally be a reality.

Cassia

And so we finally arrived at the capitol square of Kurast. Even here the jungle swarmed inwards… no civilians, no innocent bystanders, all here were zealots of perverted Zakarum, usurped by ‘Sankekur’ in his bid for power. And as we reached the central temple itself…

Cain

…thank you old friend…

Cassia

…the scholar manipulated the Horadric artifact with expert care, quickly crafting a focus that rent asunder illusion and corruption. We all felt it, though my druid friend nearly fell to his knees from the force, and before us was an edifice of torture.

Jeffery

I dare not speak of what became of former home. Opposed, I drew strength from it instead, choosing courage and righteous fury in face of blasphemy.

Natalya

The paladin roared, and charged ahead into the durance of hatred. His courage enkindled ours, and we vowed to see this through.

Mephisto

Huh. Angels and fools. I should have expected as much. Before you descend upon me in your fervor, I offer you terms. My pathetic ‘brothers’ in exchange for clemency. I can tell you where they are, and what artifacts empower them, as well as how to bypass them.

Natalya

And we will hear none of it.

Jeffery

Keep thy poison tongue chained, demon. We offer thee but one deal.

Cassia

Death.

Isendra

…with a side of ice.

Mephisto

This is beneath me. YOU are beneath me. I brought the Hells to heel! I terrified the Heavens into complacency! I stamped YOUR… maggots into line! And I will not stop until all of you are screaming in agony as your own wounds drown you!!

*slow fade*

Auriel

The violet soulstone clattered to the ground, rent of its former victim. A capable crew, we had, and ever grateful I was for Tyrael’s assistance… Far more combat capable was he than me. Unfortunately we now had no leads on the so called Dark Wanderer and his diabolical guest.

Hakon

Tyrael was suggesting regrouping at some fortress east of here, on the edge of something something.
I was barely listening at that point. Honestly I could barely hear ‘em in general. Jeffery… the paladin… came over and did the weirdest thing, he gave me a big old hug. I was a bit confused at first, was I really looking that bad? Took me a moment to realize he was sobbing. It was … yeah okay it was awkward. At first I was thinking, ‘man I don’t get this at all’… but then I thought of the home I can never go back to… and the thought of seein’ it like this? I held him a bit closer.

Cain

With the curse dispelled the jungle and city could recover, but that would be a long road for more capable hands than ours. I confess the thought occurred to me to simply abandon the environs, let the wilds reclaim our former home, but such were musings for another day.

Tyrael

While en route to Fortress Pandemonium we were met with an outer scouting party, some of the attendant humans left by Imperius years prior. Among them was a rather familiar, decrepit looking young man, who bowed and spoke with that fond politeness.

Xul

Greetings, venerated heroes. Please do me the kindness of helping me kill these demon corrupted attendants, would you?

Natalya

I’m not certain who was more surprised by the request; Us, or the attendants. Either way immediately after, the man had drawn his scythe, and I recognized the group was… belatedly… poising to strike us, so…

Isendra

The freakos were poor sport, though Cassy told me not to underestimate the value of a good ambush, and while I wouldn’t say it aloud… she had a point. They probably could’ve killed at least a few of us if we hadn’t been warned.

Xul

The tall one… probably an amazon… demanded of me my name and affiliation. I paused in raising the corpses of the cultists and turned to bow again, apologizing for forgetting my manners. Only one of them was actually pleased to hear of my given profession, but the sneers of the druid brought a legitimate smile to my face.

Cassia

Apparently this Xul had infiltrated the Fortress Pandemonium on unrelated business and discovered in short order that the Lord of Terror now resided within, fortifying his position and cowering like a cornered rat. The angelic recruits were swiftly converted or killed, and apparently we had been expected, as in short order Xul was given charge of the crazies and told to go out and ambush us.

Jeffery

Fair Xul proffered tactics’ purpose; Not thinking such paltry group could slaughter us, let alone with angelic host, its aiminstead being our weakening upon arrival, to better serve ambush’s fel intent.

Cain

The counter proposal was as obvious as it was devious. With Xul’s… eh, unique talents, the ambush party would serve our purposes instead of their dark master’s, corpses marionetted into battle to ensure the trap awaiting in the Fortress would be less than successful.
As we finished the remainder of our journey, I noticed most of my fellows giving the necromancer a wide berth… save Jeffery, who was actively chatting with the younger man. I felt compelled to ask Xul how he’d managed to infiltrate demonic cultists, so clearly tinged with evil. His response was a bitter smile.

Xul

For the first time the bias against the Priests of Rathma worked in my favor.

Natalya

It was only a short while longer before we reached Fortress gates. We were… of course… welcomed in warmly. Even a casual glance confirmed a small but elite group who were quietly maneuvering into position. If I was given to wonder such things, I’d ponder what went through their minds in the last few seconds of their life as their fellows suddenly sprang up and attacked them with suicidal vigor.

Isendra

Okay, not into the icky stuff, but I gotta admit, this kid was impressive. The confusion of the initial counter ambush was so strong that I think it took ‘em a solid 30 seconds to realize what was going on, it was great. 30 seconds was plenty of time for Cassy and me to clean up.

Cassia

Surely, by a minute’s passing the cultists lay dead or dying, and only now did we hear the chittered cries of the demon.

Cain

It pained me to see my friend like this… I know, I know, that was Diablo, not Aiden, but even as I stared into his horrified eyes I wondered if any of the man was left within.

Hakon

Unfortunately, speaking as an expert, a cornered animal is one of the most dangerous, and that proved true here. The would-be-lord raged at us in a way I can only say was unnatural, shaking and screaming and hurdling fire and lighting and terror our way.

Xul

Fortunately, the dead have no use for such things. So, handily provided a resource, providence proved too much for the foolish demon.

Jeffery

As fel creature’s own dead minions blanketed his attacks, blows of purity struck true, and with swiftness most satisfying things fell still in carved halls.

Auriel

Diablo was no more. I confess a shudder, as if a great weight lifted from me. Whilst we had suffered much, we were successful. Comrade Tyrael stayed, briefly, to ensure no stragglers remained, before returning to the High Heavens to summon reinforcements and reclaim the Fortress for its proper host.
In his passing I turned to my mortal allies to congratulate them on their great success, and inform them of the bounty they were soon to receive.

Natalya

I’m sorry, what?

Auriel

I don’t understand. What is there to be confused about?

Natalya

I’m not so much confused as I am wondering why you were plotting behind our backs this entire time.

Auriel

Plotting?? Okay surely now you jest. *pause* This has been the goal all along! With the demons and artifacts permanently removed, Sanctuary may now take its rightful place as a part of the High Heavens. Surely you know this?

Isendra

*sigh* She’s right… if these really were the last demons on the plane, our alignment will gradually shift towards Heaven’s over time. It’ll take a while, but eventually we’ll just become another part of the High Heavens on their corner of the Fabric.

Hakon

And what happens to us, then?

Isendra

Beats me. I’m more a magical-fabric-of-reality kind of woman.

Jeffery

Speak to us then, angel. What fate befalleth the fish lost in the shifting tides?

Auriel

I do not understand this hostility. You will become a part of the great pattern, as all who currently dwell within the High Heavens already are. You will be who you should be, do what you should do, and be happy in the doing. You, assassin woman, you would be interrupted by a response.

Natalya

My name is Natalya.

Auriel

Forgive me. You, Natalya, would be a baker, and quite good at it too.

Natalya

What?

Auriel

I speak the truth! With such craft you would find contentment, and serve your wares to others similarly content. Can you tell me this does not sound appealing?

Natalya

*quiet silence* I…

Auriel

Or you! Years spent toiling as caretaker of the dead, when instead you could have devoted yourself to your architecture!

Xul

I… ….

Auriel

I do not come as a hostile entity seeking to consume! I come here to bring you happiness, joy, peace! And I will not lie to you, the Burning Hells still exist and must still be fought, but that is the province of those who should fight. You were forced to fight, bound against your will. You deserve better than… than this!

Natalya

…no.

Auriel

What?

Natalya

You said we were forced… Forced to fight? But we weren’t… you’ve got it flipped, we chose to fight.

Auriel

Circumstance chose you to fight.

Natalya

No! Circumstance presented us the choice, WE chose. Just because you ask a question doesn’t mean we have to answer it. We may have gone through horrible things in these last few days, but magically wiping it all away is not the solution! I don’t want to HAVE to be a baker. I want to CHOOSE to be a baker.

Auriel

But you would be happy as a baker!

Natalya

And that is MY CHOICE to decide.

*audible pause*

Jeffery

A… point is made. Assuredly lives would be more content under such environs… but I fear impairment ensueth under angelic yoke.

Auriel

It’s not a yoke! It is what you should be! What you should do! And would you choose your… freedom, your choice, over the lives and happiness of those around you? Think about the dead! Think of how many innocents have suffered in just a short spat of time! How could you selfishly ‘choose’ freedom over the lives of others!

Cassia

While valid, you must agree that while the Sin War wages, such innocent lives will always be lost.

Auriel

Only until it ends! Someday we will purge evil from Fabric’s weave forever! Something your Sanctuary’s conjunction would speed along considerably!

Xul

And not a thought for the imbalance that would cause? Yes, evil’s removal would benefit us all, but what of chaos?

Auriel

What of chaos? Order is good. It provides protection, unity, harmony. Chaotic things have no place in society.

Xul

With your very words you admit your ignorance! Do you truly believe such a simple, surface level blanket statement? Or are you simply too blinded by your very nature to think otherwise?

Auriel

I care not for what you imply, ‘necromancer.’ I am only trying to do what is right.

Xul

AND what is orderly! It’s who you are, what you are, and that was decided for you! We don’t want that forced upon us, is that so difficult to see?

Auriel

How can I possibly see reason in the ramblings gathered before me?!

Hakon

This is all moot anyways. The barrier, which we can see right over there, dividing Sanctuary from the Burning Hells, means this is happening one way or the other.

Auriel

Exactly! There’s no real reason to continue to deliberate upon such childish notions as being free when there are more real things at stake.
Cain

…actually… that’s not quite true.

Auriel

What?

Cain

If we were to destroy the Worldstone, that barrier would fall and Sanctuary could return to its natural state.

Auriel

…how could you know about that?

Cain

Who do you think sacrificed for your stone?

Auriel

….it doesn’t matter. You cannot reach it, you cannot destroy it, and even if you tried I would stop you. And I know, in your hearts, you are all good people. You do not wish to do such a thing.

Cassia

You’re right. We do not want to hurt you, our ally and comrade, anymore than we wish to harm anyone else.

Isendra

But we will choose to if we must.

Auriel

……you will not reach the mountain’s summit.

*long pause, snowfall sound FX as shot of Mt. Arreat comes into view, no music*

*door opening sound*

Banrokh

*sigh* Assembled heroes. Before you lay the gates of Sescheron, which have stood for years… and you shall not breach them now. Remove yourselves from our lands. We stand on the side of Light. You shall not be allowed to reach Mt. Arreat, and that which you seek will not be yours.

Jeffery

Honored son of Bul’Kathos, a plea I speak. We seek neither blood nor violence. Our mission is of reclamation; To remove Worldstone’s grip on Sanctuary’s weave, that our course be true to those within and not without.

Banrokh

What could possibly drive you to side against an archangel of the High Heavens? Or is this poison whispered from the lips of the banished one hiding in the back, there?

Hakon

…I am present as part of the group, nothing more. When our mission is concluded I will depart henceforth.

Banrokh

Oh, of course. Plainsfolk spitting on the mountain, that’s whatever… hadn’t realized you’d come spitting too.

Hakon

I have not come spitting you menstruating mendicant!

Cassia

Enough. This does not concern any of this. Hakon is here as part of our fellowship and we are here with joint purpose. Leave your grudges out of this.

Banrokh

Hmph. Very well. You have not answered my question though.

Isendra

The High Heavens seek to consume Sanctuary, make us a part of them. We’d rather remain ourselves. That’s it really.

Banrokh

And this… course has spurred this madness?

Xul

Unfortunately, yes. My comrade spoke true; we do not wish any ill upon the mountain’s keepers, nor Heaven’s defenders. But we cannot sit by, idle, while our lives and futures are subtly stolen away.

Banrokh

…what do you mean?

*short pause*

Banrokh

The group explained all to me. It was a lot to take in… I was skeptical at first, I admit, but their insistence upon not simply battering me aside, as they surely had the power to do, and stomp past gave me pause. They were reasonable… I think that’s what scared me the most.
In the end I couldn’t bar their path. I let them pass aside… knowing what that would mean.
I stole home to grab some provisions and a flask, and made my way for the hills.

Cassia

The Children of Bul’Kathos were not as reasonable as our host at the gates. The moment we passed Sescheron we were beset upon… catapult, magic, blade, the very earth rose to challenge us. The Children’s leader, one Nilathak, proved a competent tactician. Worse, we weren’t particularly keen on slaughtering those who should be allies… It made for a slow, grinding progression.

Isendra

Frankly the whole climb sucked. Oh sure there were a bunch of meatheads charging out to cause us trouble, and that… y’know, sucked. But once we killed Niliwhatsit it got worse, because the survivors started harrying us as we made our way up the winding path to the summit’s peak.

Natalya

Fortunately I’ve had recent experience with such tactics, and our group was coordinated enough to keep the worst of it at bay. By the time we reached the crystalline passage, most of the Children had backed off. Which just left one small issue.

Hakon

My comrades were not used to the cold like me, especially Jeffery. I offered him one of the spare pelts from the fallen… made sure not to tell him where it came from. Don’t think he’d like that. That’s alright though, I don’t think any of us liked any of this.
It felt… weird. I don’t wanna get all contemplative or nothing, just… …I thought.. I’d be… happy to see these slopes again.

Jeffery

My heart went out to mine companion. Though he spake not a word, one could divine pangs of recognition as we had fought our way through barriers hewn. Thus in turn spake I not, sparing him empty platitudes. Generations of free willed peoples would be our reward, regardless of cost incurred hence.

Xul

Worried? No, I’m fine. Hakon will work through it, we’ve got his back. No, the one I was really worried about was sir Cain.

Cain

………all I could think about was, what would he think? What would he think of me?

Cassia

It wasn’t much longer before we reached the summit.

*fwoosh*

Auriel

…I do not want to do this. Do not make me do this.

Hakon

Don’t. Don’t even start.

Jeffery

Was it required to place kin and countryman in our path? Was it incumbent upon thee to seek blood stained peaks?!

Cassia

Isn’t that the whole point? She really couldn’t stop herself… she had no choice.

Auriel

ENOUGH. I have brought some few soldiery with me, and together we angels will stand for what must be… For what is good for you, even if you fight it kicking and screaming!

*pause*

Cain

It is regrettable, but even with her additional angelic defenders, they were simply not a match for my seasoned compatriots. As the poor woman lay, energy bleeding out of her beautiful wings, Natalya knelt by her side.

Auriel

You… you cannot do this… you cannot choose for all your people

Natalya

But that’s the point, isn’t it? We can’t choose for everyone… …but neither can you.

*moment of silence*

Cain

After a moment of silence from my compatriots, I quietly shuffled over. The Worldstone was a human artifact, born as all such are through great sacrifice, and shuddering with powerful magics. To shatter the Soulstones back in Pandemonium, we’d had to burn the lives of Diablo’s faithful… Here, all we had were ourselves. I poured over the device while my companions debated…

Xul

I could head down the mountain with a few helpers, gather the recently dead of Bul’Kathos.

Jeffery

Absolutely not. Those were not demon seduced cultists spitting blood and bile, those were allies. Comrades. Better they deserve than to be fuel for ritual’s sacrifice.

Isendra

I dunno, Xuly’s got a point. If it ain’t them, it’s one of us.

Natalya

So you think we should force this sacrifice upon them?

Xul

No! *breath* No. I do agree with you. Just trying to think pragmatically.

Cassia

I think of this moment we should lean more towards idealism than pragmatism.

Xul

Well said, warmatron.

Cassia

Thus saying, I think it should be me.

Isendra

Absolutely not! You’ve got all of Askari counting on you!

Cassia

Isn’t that much more the reason to lay down my life for their futures?

Isendra

Hells, it outta be me. No one’d even notice if one more Zann Esu just sort of up and vanished.

Cassia

Okay now you know that is not true.

Hakon

…I’ll do it.

Jeffery

No, brave Hakon no. As a knight… as a paladin of mine people and faith both, this cut should belong to me.

Hakon

And it will, good Jeffery… it will. I get the easy way out, y’see? Over, done. You… you have to take care of after. And I’m puttin’ all that on you… *pause* On ALL of you. I… trust you.

Xul

We will not let you down.

Isendra

Bet on it.

Cain

If you are certain… I believe we have divined the necessary ritual.

Jeffery

Sir druid.. Hakon, I…

Hakon

Shh, it’s okay. I’ll miss you too buddy. It’s been real.

*fade to black, death scream, sound of glass shattering*

Andariel

Interesting.
=========
Albrecht

My father always used to tell me that great kings were made in times of crisis. I’m not sure what I qualify as but I don’t think it’s very great. Eastgate Keep ravaged, and the Sightless March in shambles. Breadbasket for the whole of Khanduras struggling, with many dead and more terrified to return. And the countryside just… keeps getting worse. It’s only been a couple of weeks but already my Knight-Captain swears the rate of crazed beasts is going up, not down. And I’ve toured the region, the countryside is noticeably… sick. Crops wither on the vine, rotted tree stumps lay half fallen.
With precious little alternative I had reached out to the Sisters. Auntie Akara had vowed to send anyone she could spare towards us as soon as she was able.

Nazeebo

I was already in the area, as one of my fellow exiles had sent word down the pipeline about some corruption in local flora and fauna. It took me a while to make my way here… wasn’t expecting to find this mess. I was sampling some of the corpses near some fortress place when I found a rather deadly crossbow poking me in the side.

Valla

Don’t blame me for being cautious. Didn’t have any demon taint… if I’d spotted that he’d have been dead from 20 yards. But still, not often you see a perfectly normal looking person very carefully and precisely eating pieces of a corpse. He explained to me that it was part of a ritual he performed, helping him to ‘sample’ the person and what had killed them. He then helpfully shared a great deal of information he’d already gleaned about what had happened here.

Nazeebo

I neglected to mention to young huntress that I was considered an outcast even among the outcasts for my practices. They did work, though!

Akara

Young Valla brought the so-called witch doctor to me just in case, and fortunately so. I recognized his druidic talents immediately, and sent the two off to the king as a goodwill gesture. The last thing we needed at this point was to be expelled from the Keep by the King.

Valla

I disliked speaking with nobility as a matter of practice, but as far as kings go Albrecht was not the worst I’d seen. He informed us in quick order of the Cathedral and its position as an artifact. Nazeebo quickly asked who was sacrificed to its construction… to the king’s credit he was properly flummoxed by the question, and had no real answer. But we were able to glean that the former vizier had been spotted nearby, and he suspected foul play in revenge for her excommunication.

Nazeebo

Deadly Valla and I braved cold stone of the Cathedral. There was no doubt, this up close; Something was fundamentally wrong with the artifact itself. It was being poisoned, actively, by some tainted demonic energy. I was able to subdue several of the wild animals roaming the halls… the poor creatures seemed lost and confused, and it was no real bother to purify their minds.

Valla

My job was much more enjoyable… there weren’t many, but here and there I’d see cultists. Unlike my new comrade, they absolutely reeked of demonic filth. Cutting them down brought little slices of joy, but then we spotted something a bit… off.

Maghda

I wasn’t doing particularly well.
It was a simple task really… Find my former ally, twist her lovely little head off, and purify the Cathedral while prostrating myself before the boy king. Yet dear Adria was clearly more prepared than I… and worse, had far more loyal members of the cult still at her beck and call. And so I sat, awaiting my eventual very gruesome ritual sacrifice to fuel the Cathedral’s conversion when a druid and some kind of.. hunting enthusiast arrived. Clearly things were all going according to plan.

Nazeebo

The woman, dabbed with splotches of makeup unmaintained, sat, bound with glowing chains and surrounded by glowing runes. My huntress friend wanted to execute her, for she stank of demon magic, but I held up a hand and spoke instead. After a fairly brief, surprisingly cordial discussion, we learned her identity as the former vizier… as well as the true culprit within.

Adria

Fools. Bugs that crawl on slicked mud and think themselves masters of their pile of muck. Precious few faithful followed in screaming footsteps of true masters. When the rising tide of blood and nightmares finally fulfills our slow, steady gait. We submerge, in joy, through rancid filth, to the lowest of the foul and rank. I will bow with brethren in tow to the paein of the bell, and the murder of the hells.

Maghda

Hello Adria. It’s been a while. Care to come home with me, or are we past that now?

Adria

You tried! Born to swallow shadow flood, your tears rain down on wings of blood, and in end’s cause no further laws but to scream and flail and scorn beloved.

Valla

Okay she’s coocoo, can we kill her?

Maghda

Wait! Please just… … …Adria. Sister. I know how deep the rivulets go. We can help you. We can change you. …we can change everything…

Adria

….there is no help for me, butterfly. And I think you know that.
*screaming charge, interrupted by sound of being gutted*

Maghda

…let’s get the hell out of here.

Nazeebo

And go where?

=====
(Lut Gholein music)

Johanna

Stifling heat and humidity sat poorly with me. Kharazim and I had only intended to stay for a little while, so we were pleased to find temporary lodgings provided by the local lord. A delightful young woman tended the inn… apparently it had been a gift? I didn’t get the full details, just that she was connected to Lord Jeryhn somehow. None of my business anyroad, she was good at what she did, and it was a good spot for it. She’d apparently only been here a little over a week but had already settled in nicely, and given the jewel of the desert’s position on so many major trade routes, she was like to have plenty to do.

Kharazim

Johanna groused at first. I’m a bit more accustomed to open road than her, but… well. Between the sound and the wilds, I imagine a comfortable chair and a hot plate of fatteh were rather welcome. The innmaster spoke to us at length as Johanna rested her feet…
She hadn’t had much time for aspirations these last few years… Like myself she kept more to the roads than settlements, mostly for safety as apparently her uncles were on the run from something she felt… hesitant to speak on. I didn’t pry, of course, but rather found her outlook fascinating.
As an ascetic, the only company I ever sought was my old friend, but this young woman adored meeting new people and seeing new places… and, like Johanna, hated being on the road. The answer seemed simple!
I imagine she found long nights spent scrubbing dishes and tabulating tolls sufficiently discouraging, but she shouldered the burden well. I listened politely as she regaled me with snippets of the visitors she’d had in just the last few days.
Sun-kissed shores and wet canopy ceilings. Unbroken mounds for honored lords. A mist-drenched island, ribs of dead trees gasping for breath… And all other manner of tales.
I… didn’t really get the appeal. Oh the areas sounded fascinating, but I’d rather actually visit. Commune with the local spirits, soak in the environment. Maybe steal towards town to sample a local dish or two.

Johanna

No thank you to all of that; I’m with her. Let travelers come to me with their tales, rather than me bumble my way through trying to explain just what color of green the trees were. Likewise I get all the exercise and air I need when crushing my enemies. Why bother? Give me a settle and a dark ale and I’m quite content to let the people come to me.

Nazeebo

Ah, this fine establishment should do nicely.

Valla

…it’s exposed.

Nazeebo

And how fortunate no one is hunting us today! Come, Maghda, surely you agree.

Maghda

I’ve been to much worse. *pause* Do we really have time for this?

Nazeebo

*comfortable groan as he settles* And the chairs are quite comfortable. Excuse me, handmaiden? Could I trouble you for a hot brewed tea, please? *dishes clanking sound?* Ah, thanks much. *sipping noises, satisfied ‘ahh’*

*noticeable pause*

Maghda

We don’t have time for this! I’m not exactly sure where Baal is but if we don’t find him soon we’ll have bigger problems.

Nazeebo

We have been on the road nonstop for two days now

Valla

Three days.

Nazeebo

THREE days now, and you’re telling me you don’t want to relax them feets for a bit?

Maghda

…I’m going to go attempt to find my contact. I will try to return shortly.

*short pause*

Nazeebo

You eh… think she’s on the level?

Valla

She’s no demon worshiper. *pause* Hrmfph. I’ll be back.

Nazeebo

Yeah yeah… don’t get seen now!

Johanna

I’m sorry, forgive me for intruding, but did I hear you mention demons?

Nazeebo

*short pause* Why yes. Knight of Kehjistan? *pause for gesture* Headin’ home or headin’ out?

Johanna

Uhm. Neither I guess? Me and a few of my comrades under Commander Aiden were dispatched around this area about three weeks ago for extended operations. The commander was going to visit Eastgate Keep to connect with the local March, though we haven’t heard anything since. Me and my friend here were just on our way south to make for the pass and see what was up.

Nazeebo

Ah, I see. I, ah, may be able to save you a bit of a trip then.

Johanna

Why, what happened?

Nazeebo

Well y’see, it’s been a busy couple o’ weeks.

Kharazim

Johanna’s expression said everything, really. I held her for a bit while she worked through the worst of it, and the druid gave us a bit of space to gather ourselves. The kind innkeeper offered a fresh mug of spiced tea which my friend held, unmoving, while the older man gave more details. I was not overly fond of anything I was hearing, but upon learning his purpose my comrade’s sentiment echoed mine own.

Johanna

We have to go with you.

Nazeebo

Are you sure? We’re walking into dens of monsters and demons both, scarce certain of what we find. This is not something undertaken lightly.

Johanna

I said we will go with you.

Nazeebo

Well, far be it from me to tell you where to go or what to do. Ah, our comrades return… with, ah… a Zann Esu, I believe?

Maghda

Not quite. This is an old acquaintance of mine, an old associate of the Zann Esu. And I believe she can help point us in the right direction.

*pause as transition into the desert sands*

Li Ming

This whole situation was amazing.
The timing lined up perfectly. I had only just arrived in Lut Gholein. Scarce had I time to bestow baggage upon bellhop before the butterfly witch found me. I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t been looking forward to a comfortable pillow and a nice chai, but given circumstance I could understand the desire to get on with all due haste.
The quiet one… Kharazim I think was his name… was quick to help with water and rest as we traveled. I got the impression this wasn’t his first long trek through the desert. Fortunately it wasn’t my first dalliance with chaotic magics either.
The desert was… wrong. Warped, twisted down to the very weave. It was beautiful, really… but as the pieces of flora and fauna strewn across glass basins proved, it was not for the timid.
With care and consideration we made our way to our destination, the source of the… unusual magics that had first called me here, from half a continent away.
At first I presumed another tomb on former sands, but as the crusader and huntress beckoned us further in, I quickly realized this was a laboratory… one of the better, more well appointed ones I’d ever seen. There were Zann Esu who would kill for a facility such as this… and at least one I knew who had.

Valla

While the more scholarly of the group poked and prodded, I was ill at ease. There was something still alive in this place, I was sure of it, but it felt… off. When I voiced my concerns I was told it was likely a side effect of the devastation above, but I knew better.
Quietly I stealthed away from my fellows, following my senses and intuition further past long hallways filled with arcane instrumentation, until at last the first true defenders rose to fight me.

Kharazim

Fortunately they were no match for the huntress or myself… though I did nearly get a bolt in the eye for my troubles. I bowed, silent, which she seemed to accept, and we stole forwards past further guards, unspeaking. The silence seemed to soothe my companion as it did myself, and after several smooth minutes of peaceful combat we arrived at the source of our mutual concern. Though I confess… I was not sure upon what I looked.

Zoltun Kulle

The last few years… had not been kind.
I had discovered the flaw in the Soulstones but a short while prior. Whoever put it there was quite clever… but not clever enough. For in the patterned design I saw another path; One that could absorb the four primal essences and channel them. And once channeled, harness… And once harnessed, well… Heh.
But, no. Ruling on high may interest upstarts like Sankekur, but I had more ambitious design. Properly channeled, such energy could be gathered for dispersal… rather than ruling over ants as a god, I would stand shoulder to shoulder, equals, as we claimed our place on the Fabric.
I’d completed the design some time ago, and had begun entreaties into interested parties to try and deduce how and where to gather the necessary souls to power it, when to my surprise it absorbed several all on its own.
More tests.
Apparently I’d underestimated my own genius, as it had dragged the souls in from beyond Sanctuary’s barrier, something that I would ponder later, as for now it was dangerously destabilized… something I admit I had foreseen, but did not have much control over, as the simplest way to re-stabilize it would be simply to balance the scales.
And with no allies to call upon and no resources to speak of, I had no choice but to bind it with myself, and hope no fools would release us without due cause.

Valla

The mage talked too much. Horadrim, from his robe and demeanor, he demanded to know many things of me and my companion, and made such a din that we had barely had a chance to calm him down before the remainder of our party found us.

Maghda

It was a bit… chaotic, but Li Ming and I were able to calm the Horadrim and learn his tale. Between Nazeebo and the three of us we are able to stabilize his Black Soulstone for transport, but he emphatically insisted the artifact was not responsible for the destabilization of the dunes.

Johanna

Whatever the cause, we headed back. The more, ah, learned among us were over-eager to discuss and debate… Their enthusiasm was infectious. But I’m not skilled enough a liar to pretend I had any idea what they spoke of.
Instead I hung back a bit, drinking in the cold desert air. It… well it sucked, but it helped keep my mind focused. When we got back to town I swore to take a few moments and recoup at that nice lady’s tavern, though heaven help me if Kharazim ever heard me say that.
I respected my friend’s choice of silence, but that just left the similarly taciturn huntress for company.

Valla

The Crusader made it maybe an hour before clumsily blurting out something. It was so garbled I actually missed it at first, and asked her to speak more clearly.
She was asking about me, my past, and why I channeled chaotic power.
I considered… briefly… just ignoring her, but she was looking at me, and now the whole thing was awkward. *sigh* I suppose not everyone is used to traveling quietly.
I didn’t really mean to tell her much, but after … I don’t even know how long, the whole story had flown out. She was listening attentively… I kept expecting recriminations or condemnation, but she surprised me with her sympathy.
She was weirdly easy to talk to. She shared some of her own story in turn… I got the impression she was a beast in combat, but not so great at people… but not like… well, like me. She never said it out loud, but I could tell she loved the company of others… just had no idea how to deal with them. Hm.
I made it a point to converse with her the remainder of our journey. Not about anything in particular, just to keep her company. And I didn’t fail to notice the monk’s smile. Hmph.

Li Ming

Dawn had already broke when we returned, and the guards were rather insistent we speak immediately with Lord Jerhyn. As we approached, it wasn’t hard to guess why.

Tyrael

My friends. I have been looking for you. I come bearing dire tidings; the great mountain of Arreat has need of heroes. We must sojourn there, right away.

Johanna

…can we at least rest a bit first?

===========
Cain

My companions held the line for almost two days now, sleeping in shifts to ensure the rift never lacked for an eye upon it. But for all the pressure they felt, stemming the inconsistent tide of the wandering and the confused, I felt far more upon myself…
One would think I could solve such a simple problem as closing a Fabric Rift, but this was no simple tear in the weave. The very nature of the Worldstone ensured its connection to all corners of the Fabric, and wild though it currently raged it was no surprise at the unusual denizens that periodically stumbled through.

Isendra

The real issue here was we needed something to stabilize the damned thing. We had a decent amount of folk from a decent spread of walk, but we were lacking anchors to really hammer down the fabric. Imagine, if you will, a piece of cloth just… billowing in the wind. Now throw that idea out the window because it’s stupid and just picture random portals popping up all over the Fabric. We’re lucky we were getting as few people as we were… some occasional confused angels, some equally confused demons, and a few other things I didn’t even recognize.
We couldn’t even send ‘em back! Portal’s moved on by the time they’re here. Too bad, so sad, enjoy Sanctuary! Sucks, really.

Cassia

We weren’t quite relieved, at first, to spot Tyrael… But he seemed disinterested in explanations about Auriel’s absence. He carried with him an… unusual crew. There were a few odd moments, but it quickly became apparent this second party of adventurers was much like our own, and Tyrael had sought them out specifically to join them to our number. Certainly Isendra seemed to immediately take to the wizard, and in short order the mage-types were all awakened and debating how to deal with the blasted rift.

Zoltun Kulle

It was odd seeing a fellow Horadrim again, especially one not intent upon killing me. Cain was curt at first, and I did not blame him… my soul matrix was responsible for many of the horrors he’d lived through this past month. I felt especially bad for the loss of Jezreth… The world was lesser for his absence.

Johanna

Unsure of what to do with myself, I drifted over towards the two Horadrim. After a bit of listening to the younger man’s stories, I realized he was one of the uncles the woman from the inn had spoken of. I didn’t really mean to blurt that out the way I did but…

Cain

Hearing that young Leah was pursuing her dream to some success was… I don’t know. Some dark part of me kept waiting for word of her passing, or given recent events, worse… To know she was alright, that she was doing well?
*pause, choking back tears*
No words.
*pause*
No words…

Andariel

Now seems a good a time as any.

Isendra

Careful everyone! We’ve got a big one coming!

*fwoosh*

Cain

…Leah?

Valla

Back, Cain!

Nazeebo

Ohf, impersonating family members. Oldest trick in the book. You got nothin’ else?

Belial

*slow, horrible laughter* What can I say? I’m a fan of the classics. Oh do put those away before you get hurt. Do you not know who I am?

Maghda

Belial, one of the Four Lords of Hell.

Belial

Ah, so good to know that some of your simpering kind are aware of their betters. Fear not… I’m a reasonable sort. I have big plans for this… conduit. And I see gathered before me capability and competence. Submit… you will be offered much.

Jeffery

Return hence, demon! Thou shalt fine thyself in like company if thou seekest!

Belial

Ahhh… Forgive me, I didn’t realize morons spoke for you.

Isendra

Ha! Well, I can’t speak to his intellect, but I can stand on his principle. Now I don’t know you, personally… but I know you think you’re hot stuff. But right here? You got nothin’.

Belial

You… …DARE. I am a LORD. I am MASTER of Hell! Bow! *pause* BOW!

Li Ming

Now this may surprise you, but no one present was particularly inclined towards obsequence. Though I would be lying if I said the fight was easy. This was no usurper or non combatant angel, this was a Lord of Hell. In private… I will say that, if not for our combined strength, I do not think we would have bested the foe. It was… difficult to describe. Layers of imagery shattering as his concentration waned, illusions of sound and sight enveloping the whole of the peak. I made a quiet vow to magically remove my memories of that battle sometime later when I had a moment.

Xul

The Black Soulstone reacted instantly to the death of the fiend, taking his essence in and quickly destabilizing even further than it already was.

Zoltun Kulle

The… what?! Blast it. You, you, and you, help me stabilize this damned thing. I swear if it has to absorb one more demon soul before I can balance out the refractive matrix then this is going to go pretty badly pretty fast.

Azmodan

*deep, bellowing laughter*

Johanna

Oh COME ON!

Azmodan

A truly gifted tactician pushes his pawns forward first… letting them absorb the blows, that the noble elite might sweep what remains of their foes.

Nazeebo

Actually that’s a pretty piss poor way to play chess.

Azmodan

I… what?

Nazeebo

Any moron knows pawns are useful in chess. They’re some of the most important pieces. *pause* You’ve… played chess before, right?

Azmodan

I… BEHOLD, I come before you… the great terror of sin. And as I live and breathe, your mortal husks shall wither and bow, trembling at the presence of my greatness, whilst I do other stuff.

Maghda

Actually I don’t think you qualify.

Azmodan

I… what?

Valla

She’s got a point. You’re a demon, you don’t breathe. Pretty sure you’re about to not be alive either.

Azmodan

ENOUGH! I am a Lord of Hell! I claimed this post from Beleth the Breaker himself! You will show me the respect I am due! You will bow, and you will bow beforeleeAAADHGHgdhggezllzzzelgrlrgle

Izual

I thought he’d never shut up.

Tyrael

Izual! We thought you lost to the Hells!

Izual

Ah, good, a pencil pusher. No, while you were off doing… whatever it is you do, I was busy holding the line without reinforcements or aid for nigh unto a decade.

Maghda

What of Imperius?

Izual

General Imperius died some years ago in an ambush, led by Duriel.

Tyrael

A pity, to be true… but how are you here?

Izual

Well. Ever since the barrier dropped the forces of Hell have been shuffling around, and me and my personal retinue here decided to follow these two felspawn in their maneuverings. I have to admit, felling two Lords felt good… but it won’t last. We need to strike hard and fast while we still can.

Cain

I’m sorry, forgive me… what do you mean?

Izual

…who are you?

Cain

*a little upset* Deckard Cain, Horadric sage.

Izual

Ah, angelic puppetry. Excellent. Well then you will be gladdened to know that I have decided that we are going to widen this Rift behind me here, take control of it, and use it as a staging point to send lightning strikes into the Burning Hells.

Zoltun Kulle

What?! No! Do you have any idea what that would mean?

Izual

An end to the demons?

Zoltun Kulle

No you sod-witted brain-blocker. All that will do is turn Sanctuary into another battlefield for the Sin War!

Isendra

Worse… it’d make the Sin War permanent. Right now the sides only clash when a realm connects the two, but with that permanent path? The war would be on full time.

Cassia

And all our homes and families would just be fodder for your war.

Izual

I’m sorry, I don’t really see the issue. We’re fighting to get rid of evil here.

Natalya

Shut up.

Izual

Pardon?

Natalya

…I… *long pause* I would have made a damned good baker.

Izual

This is absurd! You cannot stop me!

Johanna

Now… I don’t want to brag or nothing, but as it happened… we absolutely could stop him. Felt weird raising a hand against an angel, but honestly screw that guy.
Course now the Black Soulstone took in his soul, which apparently helped a bit… I dunno the particulars. But at this point Tyrael was talking about mobilizing our respective orders, gathering and mustering for the inevitable counter attack from Heaven, and at this a few of us balked.

Isendra

I will admit, politics isn’t exactly my forte, but a few of the more learned present started talkin’ our options out. Flat out war with Heaven? Despite what Tyry was sayin’, completely off the table. Even though they’d lost their home army, they weren’t exactly lacking for numbers or recruits. Hells? Same problem. Years of guerilla fighting had weakened them but not enough for us to matter. Then there’s the thing nobody really wanted to say out loud.

Kharazim

Just because we were exemplars of our orders, honed and trained in combat and capable against foes beyond our ken… doesn’t mean the rest of our fellows are. Even if all our orders’ fighting forces were to combine, alongside the nations remaining… which, I was told recently, aren’t doing so well right now… that’s still just one semi capable army. I think Kulle put it best.

Zoltun Kulle

Even if each of us were to fell a hundred angels or five hundred demons before we were brought down, they can replace those hundreds with thousands. We… can’t. No, our best bet is to go quiet. That butterfly witch lady asked about the Black Soulstone to help even the scales… To which I explained, the Black Soulstone was but a prototype… intended for testing purposes only, not large scale implementation. To see what could be done with one soul, and one human, and then maybe move forwards. We just were not ready. We needed time.

Tyrael

As gathered allies debated I saw Xul turn to me. His face betrayed nothing, as it always had, but I sensed in that moment I was losing my greatest supporter. And if he could be convinced, there was no doubt about the others. In minutes I went from being ready to unveil and pursue our ultimate plan to questioning the allegiance of my very friends. I was… … …unsure of how to proceed.
Thankfully an old colleague arrived and I was given precious time to process.

Malthael

I had been studying Sanctuary’s nature and progress for the past month intensely. The anchors being removed so suddenly threw me, but many of my theories suddenly made much more sense. Demonic human artifacts! Of course.
Then the barrier went down. That was a bit unexpected. All movement halted, and there was something causing absolute havoc across the entire Fabric. It took little to narrow the source of that down, as this… Rift was like a beacon to those learned in Fabric’s weave.
One of the rather scholarly Horadric sages and I discussed the problem at length, and we both agreed; the Rift needed to be dealt with, now, before the situation got worse. But my human companion’s attention seemed elsewhere.

Cain

Johanna’s tale of Leah had jolted a thought loose, and I was able to puzzle through it with Malthael’s help. Closing the Rift permanently may be possible at some point, but what was truly needed now was simply to get the thing under control.
I asked my comrades to gather forth… representatives of all aspects of Sanctuary’s weave.
A fellow Horadric sage, a crusader of light, a witch of demonology, a huntress who channeled chaos, a wiseman who practiced druidism, an ascetic of balance, a wizard of chaos, a priest of Rathma steeped in death, a practiced assassin, a skilled sorceress of the weave, a strong paladin of Zakarum, and a veteran warmatron of the isles.
Each soul connected to a specific point on the Fabric, literal and metaphysical, giving me the targets for anchoring the ritual’s power. And with Jezreth’s Cube… I was able to produce the focus we needed.
It took a great deal out of me, but thoughts of a warm hearth and my smiling child pushed me through it.
At length, at last, the Rift stabilized. Malthael was impressed, and the two of us began conversing about its function and operation when Tyrael came over.
I’m… not entirely sure what happened next.

Xul

What the fuck.
I can’t believe him. I’m not even sure what he’s thinking at this point. I get that the plan failed, but surely there’s ways to take a moment, think, and work our way through things instead of… whatever the hell that was. The good news was tracking down two arch angels was just about as easy as tracking the Black Soulstone, so we were a little spoiled for choice in how to find him. The downside was none of us were quite certain how to operate the now-stabilized Rift. Isendra and the wizard felt like they could deal with that part of things at least.

Maghda

This … wasn’t part of the plan.
The others were busying themselves with tracking down the rogue angel and rescuing Cain and I… couldn’t blame them. I’d already lost my sister to this nonsense, and in private I’ll admit my faith was wavering…

Zoltun Kulle

I didn’t know Cain much, honestly. Oh I knew him professionally… One of the few fellow sages who had earned my respect. His work on the Worldstone was impressive, to say the least. The man had talent, that’s for sure. If nothing else, losing him would be a legitimate loss for humanity.

Valla

I should have seen it coming. Angels are incredibly predictable, usually, and this one evaded my senses. Somehow. Even that prick Izual made sense. But Tyrael?
I suppose if the point has been to focus humanity’s resistance in one centralized spot to crush… but what would be the purpose of that? The older sage was right, humanity just cannot stand against Hell’s bulwarks.
Yet.

Nazeebo

Ah, this is all a mess. Worse, I got a pretty bad feelin’ about how it’s gonna go. What I’m not so sure about is the why. Why bother with the whole charade? Thing smacks of improv, last minute. Maybe Angels aren’t so good at thinkin’ on their feet?
I will say though, anythin’ happen to to that Deckard fellow, I’m not lookin’ forward to tellin’ his niece about it. Last thing she needs in all this.

Johanna

None of this made any sense. Why would an arch angel of the High Heavens attack unprovoked? And why do it in such a face palming way? If he’d wanted us dead he probably could have just waited until the night after the party we were already planning! I was going to… I make a good bee sting cake, and was looking forward to sharing it with my new f…friends.

Kharazim

My friend was taking this particularly hard, and I gave her shoulder a squeeze to remind her I was still there.
It’s funny. I’m fairly certain I’ve only ever said one word to her in our time together; my name. But she knew I had her back. I suppose there’s not much more I can ask for than that.

Li Ming

It was less trouble than I thought it’d be to control the Rift, though once through we’d be stranded at the other end… also leaving the Rift completely undefended in our absence. I thought to mention this to my allies, but I doubt it would have changed anything so I kept my silence.
What really worried me was the Black Soulstone. An unproven artifact prototype is already problematic enough. Though I wonder what souls Zoltun Kulle had planned to sacrifice for his intended future projects. I’ll be keeping an eye on him from now on.

Natalya

I… *slumped sigh* I’m tired. I’m so, so tired.
I’m… I don’t know. I don’t know if I did the right thing or not. And I’m not sure I ever will.
Guess that’s part of the bargain.

Isendra

With Li Ming’s help we were able to get the Rift goin’ pretty easy like. Real question is going to be do we wait to recoup or head straight out? Everyone seemed all contemplative like… I never got that, really. Life happens; You do. If you don’t do, life still happens. No sense in sitting and ponderin’.

Jeffery

Hakon would have seen it coming. Would have stopped sir Cain from capture. All I could do was gape and paw.

Cassia

It was time. Whatever happens next happens for Cain, and for ourselves. The details will have to sort themselves out later.
We stepped into the Rift, and found ourselves someplace I admit I did not expect.

Xul

Reality was still bad here; stretched and distended. Whatever Tyrael’s plan was, he clearly wanted it to hit as much of the Fabric as possible.
He’d done something to the artifact, I could tell even at a distance, but before we could do more than take in our surroundings he slew the bound Malthael, who’s essence poured into the Black Soulstone.

Zoltun Kulle

You idiot! You have no idea what you’re tampering with!

Tyrael

I know exactly what I am doing. And if you seek to stop me, I suggest you prove it.
*pause, heartbeat sounds?*
The rest is now… up to you. I’m… sorry…

Cain

I was unsure of the why, but I knew exactly what I beheld. The archangel had altered the Black Soulstone with the Horadric Cube, and so once it did what it was meant to do, it shuddered violently and then shattered.
Any with the practice to see could sense the patterns of the four primal magics pouring out across the Fabric… I could not see how far they weaved, but I would be surprised if it did not at least encompass all of Sanctuary.
*hesitance* In the next few weeks, as things finally seemed to settle, we found the realm now had a permanent connection to both the Burning Hells and the High Heavens. And people were… different. We weren’t sure how, yet. We weren’t sure of much of anything.

Lilith

Oh… it couldn’t have been that long ago when I first found the New Realm.
While not exactly according to plan, my beloved’s ideals bore fruit. The Black Soulstone did as intended, spreading across the rich weave of cultures and disparate lands…
A delight to be savored, of course… but bittersweet, the taste. And now… now we had a great deal of work to do.

 
Final Fantasy I ReWrite Transcript +

1: Shrine of Bahamut

King Jolaerth Cornelia

Sir Williams, forgive the impertinence of such an informal request. What I ask is not public knowledge, and I trust in your discretion to deal with this quickly and quietly. The former Lord Commander has fled to the Shrine of Bahamut with my daughter. I do not have much to reward you with, but I think you know all that is at stake. Please, Revairus.
~ Jolaerth
Fish Merchant

Freeesh fish! We catch ‘em, you buy ‘em!

Cloth Merchant

FINE woven cloth!

Tetra Merchant

Get your tetra cards! Full packs of 4, cheaper if you buy a dozen!

Pot Merchant

No finer pots outside the Aldaen Sea!

Jewelry Merchant

The loveliest necklaces this side of Onrac!

Spice Merchant

Spiiices! Get yer spices here! Freshly shipped from Melmond crop!

Cheese Merchant

No one has as many friends as the man with many cheeses!

FRONT GATE GUARD & LARRY

Larry! Quit buyin’ everythin’! (Sis)

Sir Revairus Williams

Hmph. *looking around* Interesting choice. *spotting someone* Excuse me.

Fish Merchant

Ah good sir, if you seek the finest flounders you’ve come to the right place! I just got in a catch from me cousin this very morning, cleaned and gutted ‘em meself!

Sir Revairus Williams

No, thank you good sir. I was wondering, have you seen a noble knight or an elven woman come by here, recently?

Fish Merchant

As it happens, yes! They retired to a room just past Bahamut.

Sir Revairus Williams

Ah, thank you kindly. *offers gold*

Fish Merchant

Thank you kindly for your custom, m’lord. FRESH fish!

Sir Revairus Williams

Hm. I suppose just past here…?

Lord Bahamut

*low yawn* Hrrrmmmm. Not quite yet.

Sir Revairus Williams

The… *frowns* Did you hear that?

Passerby

Hear what?

Sir Revairus Williams

Bahamut, he… said something.

Passerby

Ahahaha, good one! I needed that. *laughing, walks off*

Sir Revairus Williams

No, I… *irritated sound* Whatever. This looks like the place… *breath* Okay, decision time. Quiet or loud. *long pause* Argh alright, quiet it is. Just for you.

Garland

And you’re quite decided? *pause* What if I were to repatriate you?

Princess Sarah Cornelia

Do you seriously think that’s the sort of thing that would work on me?

Garland

You do not want territory, you do not want home, the hell do you want?

Princess Sarah Cornelia

I was home you infectious hog. And at the moment a few minutes reprieve from foolish questions would suffice.

Sir Revairus Williams

Alright, Commander.

Garland

…Williams? That you?

Sir Revairus Williams

Now, I’m going to be totally honest with you sir. I’d really rather this not be a thing. *gesture* None of this is public record, save a small charge of drunken indecency on the eastern bridge. Hey, hey… my hands are up here, we’re all friends here.

Garland

Right. And you will just let me go home… to my swill and my swine and a trough of PIG SHIT to wallow in.

Princess Sarah Cornelia

‘Tis better than you deserve.

Garland

I am of no mood!

Princess Sarah Cornelia

Do you presume I am?!

Sir Revairus Williams

Your Majesty, Lord Commander, please. Enough. Now this doesn’t have to escalate any further.

Garland

I appreciate what you are trying to do, Williams. But you of all people understand. All we need is our warrior spirit! And with it I am taking the throne, and I am doing it in spite of this ineffectual hag.

Princess Sarah Cornelia

Keep his attention off me. I’ll show him how ineffectual I can be.

Garland

Enough. I, Garland, will knock you all down!

2: Castle Cornelia

King Jolaerth Cornelia

*relief* I’m… thank you, sir Williams.

Sir Revairus Williams

Hasn’t been ‘sir’ in about a year now.

King Jolaerth Cornelia

Yes. Well. Daughter, I am pleased to see you again. People reported four lights entering the Shrine of Bahamut, I… feared the worst. But rest assured, no word released about this incident, so there will be no international concerns with the elves.

Princess Sarah Cornelia

*interrupting* I’m going to take Ser Williams on the expedition to Pravoka.

Sir Revairus Williams

You are?

Princess Sarah Cornelia

You’ll be paid.

Sir Revairus Williams

That wasn’t quite where my mind was at.

King Jolaerth Cornelia

I’m… wouldn’t you rather take a few days off? Send someone else in your stead?

Princess Sarah Cornelia

Would you rather word slipped of my recent incident?

King Jolaerth Cornelia

*visibly recoiling* No… of course not.

Princess Sarah Cornelia

*pause* I’m sorry. *another pause* I apologize, father. I shouldn’t do that to you, I know you act of caring and not conceit. But I really am going to go myself. I feel the conference will require my personal touch. Fear not, Ser Williams will be ample protection.

3: Port of Pravoka

*smashing sound*

Bikke

Ahhh… That one… didn’t taste any better than the last three. *heurgh* It’s gettin’ t’be a mite ridiculous! Surely there’s at least one decent swath of swill in this sw… sworgy… swolt? Sw… sw something! Bah, whatever.

Sir Revairus Williams

You have got to be joking me.

Bikke

*gesturing* Wha! What’s so belabored about besmirching my beloved… bottle? No that don’t make no sense… Boon? Birth?

Princess Sarah Cornelia

I think ‘vocation’ would have worked.

Bikke

But it don’t start with a b!

Princess Sarah Cornelia

Neither does ‘about.’

Bikke

*laughter dissolving into a coughing fit* Okay… ya got me there. Eourghfv. This tosspot satisfies not. What brings her royal majesty and Sir Williams of noble Morisburn to my humble corner of sin?

Sir Revairus Williams

It’s not Sir anymore.

Bikke

Right! Right. And I’m no Lord Captain neither, but I kept me ship, me cargo, me crew. Crown confers and all that jazz. Surely there were a pretty prize purchased for yon service weighed.

Sir Revairus Williams

… …have you really just been sitting here getting drunk?

Bikke

T’hells else’m I supposed to do! War’s over, yee and haw, but with nary a villain to seek nor course to chart, all there is for me is drink and doldrums.

Princess Sarah Cornelia

Your… crew has been causing issues in the area sufficient that we’ve received complaints about it back home.

Bikke

Aye a rowdy bunch they be. Whatd’ya expect of me? Reprimands won’t mend a scoundrel’s malcontent. Lockin’ ‘em up will just drain the local coffers while they sit and rot, prolly lead to a prison break t’boot. And if you expect me to turn on me crew…

Sir Revairus Williams

Tell them to come here.

Bikke

Here?

Sir Revairus Williams

Here, right here.

Bikke

You… you know the hotelier will be a mite perturbed if’n my crew’s innards become the evening’s decor?

Princess Sarah Cornelia

Just go get them.

Bikke

Alright, fine, whatever, no hair off me back… not that I really have any. Hair off me legs? No I wouldn’t mind that much… hair off me chin? No that don’t work neither…

Princess Sarah Cornelia

You’re… not going to kill them, right?

Sir Revairus Williams

I’ve worked with most of these people before. We’re just going to help them let off a little steam before you spin your big new… trading… preference thing.

Princess Sarah Cornelia

Preferential Trade Agreement. It’s a way to establish closer economic ties to Elfheim and try to create a cooperative atmosphere that encourages free flow of goods and services to try and help bolster national recuperation for both kingdoms.

Sir Revairus Williams

Yeah I… I didn’t ask.

Princess Sarah Cornelia

It wouldn’t hurt you to be more cognizant of the world around you.

Sir Revairus Williams

I’m plenty familiar with the world around me.

Princess Sarah Cornelia

I meant more in ways that didn’t involve punching it.

Sir Revairus Williams

I thought that was your department?

Princess Sarah Cornelia

More a hobby, really. *gesture* You want an assist on this?

Sir Revairus Williams

If you don’t mind.

Bikke

Alright me fellow farers, we have a slight concern that requires a bit of consideration. Gentlemen… ladies…

4: City of Pravoka

Bikke

Eurgh… did you have to drag me into that?

Sir Revairus Williams

Normally one would call what you did ‘leaping into it.’

Bikke

It looked fun!

Sir Revairus Williams

Heh… *pause* Well. While her majesty is busy lecturing the battered crew, I wanted to pay a visit to old Tola’s house. You want to join me?

Bikke

Of course I would. Actually I think I need to apologize to her about… something to do with a pumpkin and a shark.

Sir Revairus Williams

Do I want to know?

Bikke

I don’t think I want to know.

Sir Revairus Williams

*knocking* Matoya! It’s Williams!

Tola Matoya

Come on in! It’s unlocked.

Sir Revairus Williams

That’s an… unusual choice.

Tola Matoya

Aye, well, at this juncture I think one seeking further ill upon me is going to regret it most fierce.

Bikke

Pardon me, further ill?

Tola Matoya

…aye. Forgive me, for I find myself lacking in proper hospitality of the moment.

Sir Revairus Williams

The hell, Matoya… who trashed the place? *pause, whirl* You didn’t.

Bikke

I would never!

Tola Matoya

Nay, that knave wouldn’t besmirch my domicile in her worst state.

Bikke

What nimwitted chowder head would dare try to rough up a court mage?

Tola Matoya

Former court mage. Though they found, to their dismay, mine capacity for combat undiminished. *exhale* Sadly their quest was clearly for mine Eye, and in this they were successful. Thusly absconded, they retreated with great haste. Without it, my capabilities are less than the lowliest of shrub mages.

Sir Revairus Williams

I’m sorry, maybe I didn’t hear that right, they tried to rob you of a Lufein artifact? Because that says a lot right there, Tola.

Tola Matoya

I remain well aware of implication, Revairus.

Bikke

*frowning* Why the tone, m’lady?

Tola Matoya

*slow exhale* They were disguised, carrying no insignia nor flag… but the temperament, professionalism, movements, language… It is not quite so easy to disguise one’s self from this hag’s sight. They were elven soldiery, of elite disposition no doubt, likely nobility or royal guard.

Bikke

Couldn’t be royal, ain’t been an elven king in a generation.

Tola Matoya

That we know of… *pause* Remove that look, Revairus.

Sir Revairus Williams

Elves. You just got attacked by a group of elven soldiers and you don’t think that’s something worthy of attention.

Tola Matoya

Harken. This is not a quest befit your blood-drunk eyes.

Bikke

Williams… Vair. Vair. She got a point. This is dangerous ground, we should work things out through channels of paperwork, not steel.

Sir Revairus Williams

Really? Good thing we got someone official right over here. Your majesty. Your majesty!

Bikke

*ugh* This is not going to end well. Matoya.

Tola Matoya

Bikenvri.

Bikke

Don’t call me that!

Tola Matoya

Return mine pumpkin then.

Bikke

Return yer pumpkin?

Sir Revairus Williams

Your majesty, might I partake in a bit of your time?

Princess Sarah Cornelia

So formal… What trouble did you two get up to?

Bikke

Don’t look at me!

Sir Revairus Williams

The court sage Matoya was attacked by forces she identified as elven soldiers, elite ones, probably nobility. I was thinking that in our official position as representatives of the crown we should take it upon ourselves to go kick the ever-living crap out of the Elves for a while until they tell us where her orb is.

Bikke

*interrupting* That we should take advantage of the fully staffed and supplied ship in the harbor that your old friend, funnily, has functional, and go investigate in quiet but official capacity lest more violent tensions break.

Sir Revairus Williams

I’m sorry, you want to be more involved in this?

Bikke

I’m bored, Vairus. So’s me crew. And you need to remember that a treaty’s more important than you reliving the good old days.

Sir Revairus Williams

They just attacked Tola and you’re tellin’ me you don’t think we shouldn’t go kick the crap out of them?!

Bikke

I be very invested in ensuring friend’s artifact returned to her post-haste with no further escalation of conflict we cannot, crucially, consider acceptable.

Princess Sarah Cornelia

Yes, we would hate for them to do more harm to our citizens, wouldn’t we?

Sir Revairus Williams

Oh now don’t give me that, you know I wasn’t referring to you, your highness.

Princess Sarah Cornelia

Wasn’t referring to me why, because I’m one of the good ones?

Sir Revairus Williams

*exhale* That’s not what I meant and you know it. I don’t… *gestures angrily* give a damn if they’re elves or dwarves or mermaids or mages. They hurt my friend. *pause* I’m sorry.

Princess Sarah Cornelia

*long pause* Apology accepted. As it happens, I do agree with the esteemed Captain here; We’ve already proven a good team in combat, and we carry a great deal of official weight. If we can jointly investigate, mayhap we can avoid an international incident in this worthwhile pursuit.

Bikke

Vair…

Sir Revairus Williams

*irritated sigh* Yeah, alright. I’m cool, we’re cool. How soon can we set sail?

Bikke

Well, most of me crew happen to be recovering from a little incident earlier, so…

Princess Sarah Cornelia

At your earliest available opportunity, Lord Captain. The sooner we reach Elfheim, the greater opportunity we retain for optimal outcome.

5: On Board The Naval Ship

Princess Sarah Cornelia

Ser Williams? …do you have a moment?

Sir Revairus Williams

I was just… practicing. *pause* What can I do for you, your majesty?

Princess Sarah Cornelia

May I dispense with formalities?

Sir Revairus Williams

That’s usually my line.

Princess Sarah Cornelia

You have as much claim to noble title as I.

Sir Revairus Williams

Not anymore, I don’t.

Princess Sarah Cornelia

Yes yes, claims rescinded, don’t give me that. I’ve seen how Cornelia operates… the power of the nobility does not fade so quickly at one word from its king.

Sir Revairus Williams

*exasperated sigh* …yes. You may dispense with formalities, princess.

Princess Sarah Cornelia

Thank you. *pause* Have you… considered making a claim on the throne?

Sir Revairus Williams

*spits out his drink* Okay, I’ll give you that one. That is not what I was expecting.

Princess Sarah Cornelia

It’s a serious question.

Sir Revairus Williams

Well, in deference I will give you a serious answer; No. No, uhm, offense to your majesty, of course, but… throne? Court? That’s not why I became a knight.

Princess Sarah Cornelia

So why did you?

Sir Revairus Williams

Well normally this is where I’d talk about fighting the good fight and helping the people but… if you want to hear a speech, you’ll have to head down to the captain’s quarters. I hear she’s quite good at them.

Princess Sarah Cornelia

Do you doubt her intentions?

Sir Revairus Williams

Quite the contrary, she’s the most noble soul I know.

Princess Sarah Cornelia

So I should consider her, instead?

Sir Revairus Williams

*gesturing, bemused* What is this, your high—..miss Cornelia.

Princess Sarah Cornelia

I am doing my job. And I take that job very seriously.

Sir Revairus Williams

Coincidentally, so do I.

Princess Sarah Cornelia

Your job being to kill, I presume?

Sir Revairus Williams

*slamming sound* Do you have a point to all this, ma’am?

Princess Sarah Cornelia

*very calmly* There is no judgment in my tone. You claim post and nobility, wealth and authority, and yet wield none of it. I’m aware of your finances, Revairus. You are still well off, more than enough to retire or live life how you choose.

Sir Revairus Williams

You think I didn’t?

Princess Sarah Cornelia

I think it curious a man of such means chooses crude tent and dirt path to comfortable bed and fawning adoration. And don’t try to pretend you couldn’t have it. Even without my hand you hold a claim to the throne. One swift coup and crown could crest noble head.

Sir Revairus Williams

So you want me to kill the King, then?

Princess Sarah Cornelia

I do not. He has treated me… better than expected, and I feel welcome in his home. I have grown quite fond of him. But that’s my motivation.

Sir Revairus Williams

I’m good at what I do, ma’am. You saw that yourself when we killed Garland. That doesn’t mean I enjoy it.

Princess Sarah Cornelia

…I think you do.

Sir Revairus Williams

Pardon?

Princess Sarah Cornelia

Honesty can do wonders, Revairus. For others and for one’s self.

Sir Revairus Williams

Get out.

Princess Sarah Cornelia

Hm. As you wish. I will leave you with a warning. If you seek to pursue your chosen craft upon my people whilst we are on this errand, you will find yourself in more dire straits than you sought. *pause* Good night, Ser Williams.

Sir Revairus Williams

…your majesty.

6: Elfheim City

Elven Citizen

I’m afraid I just don’t know too much about … criminals. I’m not sure how things operate in your kingdom but here we try to remain law abiding.

Sir Revairus Williams

Listen. I’m not asking you if you rob banks or the local market stall. Even if you did it wouldn’t be any of my business.

Elven Citizen

Hrmpf.

Sir Revairus Williams

It wouldn’t! I’m not here in any kind of official capacity. I just know a friend who pretty solidly gave us a lead on some malcontents who fled in this direction. Now if you’d kindly just answer a few more simple questions.

Elven Citizen

I’m afraid I have other business to attend to. Good day, ser.

Bikke

I spy your courtly mannerisms nearly match me own.

Sir Revairus Williams

I didn’t see you offering to help.

Bikke

Clearly t’weren’t needed! Could ye at least stop pacin’ a while whilst our fair friend finds information on foe’s whereabouts?

Sir Revairus Williams

Do you just… spend your spare time with your nose in a dictionary or something?

Bikke

Thesaurus.

Sir Revairus Williams

Whatever. *long sigh*

Bikke

Vair. I sympathize, I does. Rushin’ don’t help no one.

Sir Revairus Williams

I don’t like… sitting here and doing nothing.

Bikke

I know. I know. C’mon, let’s go grab a bite to eat. Salmonbiac pie?

Sir Revairus Williams

You know I love elven food.

Bikke

Grand.

==========

Princess Sarah Cornelia

Ser. Mer.

Bikke

M’lady! Ah, and I can see by thy countenance thou wert successful.

Princess Sarah Cornelia

Does she always talk like this?

Sir Revairus Williams

Only when she’s in a good mood.

Bikke

*eating* They have punchkeys!

Princess Sarah Cornelia

Melodious. I have discovered little of import, however… Lord Astos has recently been making ready for a formal expedition into the Marsh Cave, an armed expedition no less which is quite curious.

Sir Revairus Williams

Hold up. General Astos is after the crown? *pauses, turns* You don’t think…

Bikke

Could be. *looks at the princess* The orb we seek t’was similarly of Lufein make.

Princess Sarah Cornelia

Ahh… you did mention it was an artifact. Well. That sounds like our best lead of the moment. If we hurry…

Sir Revairus Williams

We can head straight to his keep and force the truth right out of him!

Princess Sarah Cornelia

We can cut him off at the cave, procure the crown for our own purposes, and proffer trade rather than conflict.

Bikke

M’lady’s strategy sounds sound.

Sir Revairus Williams

*gritting teeth* Of course. We’d best be off then.

Bikke

Lemme pack a few more fer the road!

7: Outside The Marsh Cave

Sir Revairus Williams

Alright. So, we’re a bit late.

Bikke

Not me fault!

Princess Sarah Cornelia

It’s not a problem. This removes one option but grants two in return.

Sir Revairus Williams

Loud or quiet?

Princess Sarah Cornelia

*nods* Mm.

Sir Revairus Williams

Preference?

Princess Sarah Cornelia

I feel discussion might dissuade further incidents, and this could be a valuable foot in the shed.

Bikke

Door.

Princess Sarah Cornelia

Pardon?

Bikke

It be ‘foot in the door’, for y’see it be an idiom that originates from some particularly unsavory sales types who just would not know when to take a hint.

Sir Revairus Williams

Why don’t we just attack them?

Princess Sarah Cornelia

And kill innocent soldiers?

Sir Revairus Williams

You’re more naive than I thought if you think any soldier is innocent.

Princess Sarah Cornelia

Not what I meant. We have no proof of guilt. If we approach openly we can learn more before taking action, if such action is required.

Sir Revairus Williams

And then put ourselves at a disadvantage when such action is required.

Princess Sarah Cornelia

Presumption.

Sir Revairus Williams

Look. Your majesty. I’m not here to debate ethics, that’s your job. I am thinking tactics. If they or others of General Astos’ retinue are our culprits, walking in all nice like just gets us surrounded by a hostile force.

Bikke

M’lady, sir… mayhap voices best be kept lowered for this conference?

Princess Sarah Cornelia

*sigh* I understand your concerns, ser Williams. But we operate from a position of strength, and as the strong it is incumbent upon us to proffer peace rather than assume aggression.

Sir Revairus Williams

*inhale* *exhale* You’re right. As you often are. I suppose you want to take the lead, then?

Princess Sarah Cornelia

If you don’t mind. *pauses, stands, walks over to elven soldiers* Pardon me! Good sers and mers! If I might have a word.

8: Inside The Marsh Cave

Sir Revairus Williams

So, I’m no mageologist, but I’ll be honest, I was expecting a bit more of a light trek through venerated halls and less… this.

Bikke

Not a real word!

Astos’ Officer

We knew from reports that the beast problem had grown bad, but not of this level. We appreciate the escort, Miss Cornelia.

Princess Sarah Cornelia

Of course. ‘Tis fair fortune that held us in common purpose. It has been entirely too long since my previous pilgrimage, and it was nothing like… *attacking a vine* …this!

Sir Revairus Williams

Did you *swings sword at enemy* ever feel the desire to claim the crown for yourself?

Princess Sarah Cornelia

I sincerely doubt I hold the qualifications.

Bikke

Ah mayhap, but my lady be a rather popular sort. Even upon the waves we heard whispers come the last call of the treaty’s signin’.

Princess Sarah Cornelia

You exaggerate.

Astos’ Officer

I doubt she does. *slightly embarrassed* Ah, forgive me for speaking out of turn, Miss Cornelia, but there are several elf-at-arms who would be more than glad to see an elven Queen rise ascendant.

Princess Sarah Cornelia

*glare* Regardless. The crown holds little interest to me. An out-dated relic best forgotten. If not for its unique heritage I would scarce care to… *frowns* Do… you hear that?

Bikke

Aye, an unwelcome sound it be..

Ser Liam

In burns for rot in burns for rot in burns for rot in burns for rot in burns for rot in burns for rot in burns for rot in burns for rot in burns for rot in burns for rot in burns for rot

Astos’ Officer

Who… what is that?

Princess Sarah Cornelia

…Liam? Ser Liam, is that… what…

Ser Liam

Not fair not fair not fair not fair not fair not fair

Sir Revairus Williams

Back! This is not an ally! What’s the call?

Ser Liam

I deserve better than this! I did my part! I did my duty! That crown should rest on MY head! MINE!

Sir Revairus Williams

Argh! *wounded* Nevermind, I guess that makes it for us! *lunging*

Astos’ Officer

Defend the princess!

Ser Liam

I deserve more I deserve MORE I de…*rchkl, stabbed* serve… more… damn… them… damn… …

Sir Revairus Williams

*gasp pant* That… was not pleasant. What in the world?

Bikke

Forgive me, fairs, but canst we debark? Now?

Princess Sarah Cornelia

She’s… *swallow* She’s right. This whole area feels… wrong.

Astos’ Soldier

Ser! I found the crown!

Astos’ Officer

Excellent, where was it?

Astos’ Soldier

It… he… had it on his person.

Astos’ Officer

*frowns* That’s… odd.

Princess Sarah Cornelia

Exceedingly, but I agree with my dauntless companion. We should away.

Astos’ Officer

Agreed. Mightn’t I impose upon you to accompany us on return to Westrest Keep? The company would do us good, for humors and monsters both.

Princess Sarah Cornelia

Of course. We’d be happy to oblige.

9: Guest Quarters Inside Westrest Keep

Princess Sarah Cornelia

Where are the others.

Lord General Astos

They reside in comfortable house arrest. Aware am I of their standing, they shall be treated accordingly.

Princess Sarah Cornelia

So why imprison us at all?

Lord General Astos

Really, princess? Three humans found raiding the Marsh Cave, alleging pilgrimage towards the Elven Crown?

Princess Sarah Cornelia

Two humans and an elf.

Lord General Astos

I am well aware of the legalities, miss Cornelia. *pause* Three humans found raiding the cave of crown of old, point and purpose untold and knowledge of crown known. What exactly would you have me do?

Princess Sarah Cornelia

Don’t play the court politician. It ill suits you.

Lord General Astos

*pause* *smile* Very well. Honesty, then. I owe thee and thine no particular ills, I simply request thy removal from affairs temporarily whilst we conduct crown and orb to new purpose.

Princess Sarah Cornelia

*frowns* You seek not the throne?

Lord General Astos

If the people judge me worthy I will accept it, but no. The crown’s more magical purpose better suited my devices. I just required one other particular artifact.

Princess Sarah Cornelia

So you resorted to base banditry.

Lord General Astos

With fortune, venture will swiftly provide me proper means to properly repay Elder Matoya, but repeated endeavors to simply purchase the device had already failed. Do not look upon me that way, princess. With this new artifact, we will be capable not only of permanently eradicating the plague, but returning kingdom to prosperity it requires.

Princess Sarah Cornelia

M’lord. I hesitate to speak of past faults, but I feel the need to remind you of the previous iteration whereupon m’lord sought to singularly sway Elven futures.

Lord General Astos

Methought we were amidst honesty, your majesty?

Princess Sarah Cornelia

…very well. Wasn’t plunging us into one failed war sufficient?

Lord General Astos

And why exactly doest thou perceive my fervent need for restitution?! I owe this… not merely upon mine own, but upon fair Cornelia.

Princess Sarah Cornelia

Such altruism.

Lord General Astos

I speak sincerely! I… *starts pacing* I have spent but short few months with dirt in fingernail and sweat in eyesocket and it was… I… I am not a poet, I cannot orate with eloquence! M’lady, I seek not power for its own sake, not figurines on a table to be moved to and fro. Our people require help. It is my vocation to provide that help.

Princess Sarah Cornelia

And that’s it?

Lord General Astos

Yes… yes. Reparations bestowed, soil restored, people rejuvenated, and with this healing bounty the crown will bestow upon me…

Princess Sarah Cornelia

I’m sorry. Soil?

Lord General Astos

Yes. *pause* Hast m’lady not espied? These past two weeks the very dirt crumbles and rots. The magics of the ground seep poison. It must be righted.

Princess Sarah Cornelia

Magic is… not my expertise.

Lord General Astos

Ah, but it is mine. Come. As a gesture, thee and thine canst provide presence during ritual’s completion. Let honesty speaketh for me.

10: Ritual Room Inside Westrest Keep

Lord General Astos

*gasping, panting on the floor, clearly in pain*

Sir Revairus Williams

We should kill him.

Bikke

Vair, the lad is in right states.

Sir Revairus Williams

He just tried to kill us!

Bikke

He just attempted a magical ritual which’n failed and we should consider ourselves lucky he ain’t like that poor fellow in cave’s depths!

Lord General Astos

I… I do not mind…

Sir Revairus Williams

What was that?

Lord General Astos

If… Mine restitution was to be of beneficial work… but if only by my passing can past be satisfied… let it be done.

Sir Revairus Williams

Princess Sarah Cornelia

Enough. Death has drunk its fill. Rise, Lord Astos.

Lord General Astos

*very painful groans as the injured man rises*

Princess Sarah Cornelia

Explain.

Lord General Astos

…I thought… I am a scholar of the arts, mine skill surpassing excellence. I understand not why ritual failed, why such… hatred seeped into my thoughts. Though as I fought mineself within, as thee without, I couldst hear whispers of bitterness and malevolence… just… repeating, rote, upon the wind.

Sir Revairus Williams

Well that sounds absolutely wonderful. Now, I’m no magicisian… buut I happen to know someone who is.

Bikke

Still not a word.

(sea transition)

Tola Matoya

Wise, to seek mine on this matter. Though upon other dawns I might seek solace in reprisal against crude crook… I stand afeared of greater portents. Things be… much worse than I thought.

11: Southern Fields of Melmond

High Sage Envelress Caroline

*sigh* You know. Though I enjoy the shushed, book-laden halls of the Lunate, it is always a refreshing reprieve to spend time in the field. Even if I spend the time talking to myself. *pause* Or do I speak to you, little one? *pause as she examines it closer* Death sits ill upon thee. What hidden tale rests within your cold corpse?

Sir Revairus Williams

Gah! Why are there so *swing* many *swoosh* undead *swish* here!

High Sage Envelress Caroline

Wait! Stop, what are you doing!

Sir Revairus Williams

You! Have at you… …fiend?

High Sage Envelress Caroline

Why are you destroying my golems?!

Sir Revairus Williams

These… I’m sorry, your golems?

High Sage Envelress Caroline

Put that down! Put your weapons down, good lord! As if the dead haven’t had enough troubles of late.

Lord General Astos

Mer, of a moment. I am Astos, scholar of the Red. This… *gestures* Might thy be practicing necroveny?

High Sage Envelress Caroline

*defensive* I am. What of it?

Lord General Astos

I intend no offense, I merely request knowledge. Why might thou be disturbing the dead herein?

High Sage Envelress Caroline

I am not disturbing the dead!

Sir Revairus Williams

That’s not what the cityfolk said.

High Sage Envelress Caroline

As if the pounding gaiters of Melmond would know a thing about the dead!

Bikke

Lady fair, a lotta gabbin’ be passin’ without doin’ things properlike. *slight bow* Who be ye?

High Sage Envelress Caroline

…Caroline. Envelress Caroline.

Lord General Astos

A High Sage! Venerated elder, we are present on a mission most urgent. The Earth Leyline seeps violent poison to all corners of the islands, from source unseen. Upon arrival at city Melmond, guild representatives informed us in no half measures the severity of poison’s skew, though not of the reason why.

High Sage Envelress Caroline

I’m not that old…

High Sage Envelress Caroline

And let me guess, the kindly locals informed you of the local dirt flinger disturbing the dead.

Lord General Astos

Not in… so many words.

Bikke

Actually, if’n you care, the most common o’ monikers we encountered were ‘vampire’.

High Sage Envelress Caroline

Such an apt appellation.

Princess Sarah Cornelia

Forgive me. If I may?

High Sage Envelress Caroline

What is it?

Princess Sarah Cornelia

Why… do you dally with the dead?

High Sage Envelress Caroline

…you know, back in Crescent they say I seek power regardless of cost. That I am a lunatic, drunk on madness, or a criminal who deserves punishment. They say many things, but precious few true. There is… *pauses, closes eyes* …beauty in death as there is beauty in life. Study… examination… There is much to be learned from those fallen.

Princess Sarah Cornelia

And what is it you’ve learned here, exactly?

High Sage Envelress Caroline

…less than I’d like. The dead stir, restless… Though some rise to my song, a… disharmonious shriek echoes, disturbing and twisting those it reaches. I heard it all the way in the Sagehood, though few believed me. The resonance led me here but… *frowns as she looks around* The… reverberations are distorting everything. I can scarce determine where the original sound emanates.

Lord General Astos

This might amount to naught, but… word has fallen upon mine ears of disturbances nearby. Truthfully they were our primary target before resident guildsmen misinformed us of mer’s whereabouts.

High Sage Envelress Caroline

Well. If you do not mind a desiccated confederate, I would not be opposed to joint forces. Perhaps we can better accomplish our joint task.

Sir Revairus Williams

You sure?

High Sage Envelress Caroline

I beg your pardon?

Sir Revairus Williams

Sorry, I know all this magishology stuff is a bit beyond me, but I can tell just by looking at you you don’t want to travel with us. Or, if I were to guess, with anybody.

Bikke

Still not a word!

High Sage Envelress Caroline

Well. Yes, an astute observation. But I’d be a piss poor mage if I allowed my discomfort to get in the way of such an obviously escalating problem. And there is often strength in numbers.

Sir Revairus Williams

Well. Alright. Where we heading to, General?

12: En Route To The Giants

Lord General Astos

Hath I given thee pause to offense?

Princess Sarah Cornelia

Beg pardon?

Lord General Astos

Not but 18 words hast thou spoken towards me since encounter in mine keep.

Princess Sarah Cornelia

You counted…?

Princess Sarah Cornelia

*sighs* Is such debate really required, ser?

Lord General Astos

Thine temperament confirms mine suspicions. Please, I believe honesty was thy preference?

Princess Sarah Cornelia

*a long pause as she gathers her thoughts* You know. Under most circumstance, most wouldn’t have to elaborate upon why one such as I would hold a grudge upon you.

Lord General Astos

So thy distaste blooms of detachment from home and kin?

Princess Sarah Cornelia

No. *another pause* Honesty. Honesty. *sigh* Honestly… I’ve found this last year quite pleasant. Better, in truth, than former home. Did you know my former father has sent me but two letters in all that time? And both were requests for advice on financial allocations! The King of Cornelia has treated me not just fairly, but as his actual daughter. It is… not something I am accustomed to.

Lord General Astos

*short pause* Forgive me, mer, this sounds like thy fortunes raised?

Princess Sarah Cornelia

Oh they were. Are. I do not pander in some petty revenge or desire to right personal wrongs against you, ser.

Lord General Astos

So then, why doest thou hold grudge upon mine brow?

Princess Sarah Cornelia

Do you know how foolish you were? Really, truly understand.

Lord General Astos

…no.

Princess Sarah Cornelia

Ahahaha… I’ll admit, I wasn’t expecting that.

Lord General Astos

Honesty.

Princess Sarah Cornelia

Yes… Honesty. *sigh* We weren’t ready for a war. We did not have the resources or manpower or the backing of the Sagehood or the guilds of Melmond or the shipwrights of Onrac. We had one weak claim for a slightly increased share of the same pie. If you had pressed for renegotiation of the Canal’s taxation rights, or altered who was responsible for which form of what upkeep and maintenance, or even if you had spoken to the dwarves who are actually in charge of the Canal and levied for greater position, maybe the world would be a better place in this moment. *long pause* But no. No you wielded men and material and paper and polity like a bludgeon. The isles have had enough of indiscriminate leadership.

Lord General Astos

The war was… devastating, and well aware am I of whose back it rests upon.

Princess Sarah Cornelia

*whirling on him* The war is beside the point! If you had properly positioned us, taken time and care and effort, we could have swept Cornelia! A swift military victory followed by equally swift terms to shore up whatever manner of ill intent remained. Instead all we got was four years of bloodshed.

Lord General Astos

Thou… forgive me. Thou wert not opposed to the war?

Princess Sarah Cornelia

My good Lord Astos, I am opposed to incompetence.

Lord General Astos

…I see. I shalt trouble thee no more.

Princess Sarah Cornelia

See that you don’t.

13: The Giants’ Caravan

Lord General Astos

A crystal?

Giant Representative

Yes. It has resided within the Terra Crevice for some time.

Lord General Astos

Strange… Never heard of such artifact have I. High Sage?

High Sage Envelress Caroline

*shakes head* No. Though Lufein artifacts are not my specialty.

Giant Representative

It is not of the Lufein. It predates their arrival at the isles.

Lord General Astos

…before the Lufein? That bodes ill. Doest thou have any advice or aid we might bother thee for in traversing to this… crystal?

Giant Representative

Yes. Do not. Flee. The screaming that seeps from the crystal will overwhelm you, as it already corrupts the land.

Lord General Astos

Yes. Well. We shall of course not stand in way of thy exodus. *formal bow* Fare thee well.

Princess Sarah Cornelia

Well that was helpful. Any idea where Terra Crevice is?

High Sage Envelress Caroline

I do. It is but a few days journey southeast of here.

Sir Revairus Williams

I don’t wish to complain but surely we could be moving faster if the Sagehood would offer us the use of the airship? Based on how things are going, and how fast they’re getting worse, I’d say it’s warranted.

High Sage Envelress Caroline

There is a complication with the leystone. I… think one of our response teams is dealing with it as we speak.

Sir Revairus Williams

No airship then. Guess we’ll circle back to that later. Well, let’s go find this thing.

14: Terra Crevice, Earth Crystal

Sir Revairus Williams

What the…

Princess Sarah Cornelia

What is that… that thing?

Sir Revairus Williams

It looks like one of your undead creatures that you summon periodically.

High Sage Envelress Caroline

That… thing is not the dead! It is an abomination!

Lord General Astos

The elder speaketh true, even I can detect vile energies swarming it. I… not entirely certain am I of what it even is. It lacks the usual composition for an elemental creature!

Princess Sarah Cornelia

What..? Why doest it speak of the elven crown?

The Lich

The crown is mine. The throne is mine. It always should have been. I would have been brilliant. It would have been glorious. A new age of peace and prosperity at my feet. And it shall be again. I shall rise from the dead, stronger than before. I will sweep these islands, and then I will sweep the world. There will be no one, no where, that does not bend knee to me. At last given respect due. With people in proper place, and future ensured, I will reign over this world forever as its immortal emperor. As its new lord and master.

Bikke

Fergive the interruption lads, but methinks we should get it off that crystal post-haste!

Princess Sarah Cornelia

Agreed. Follow my lead.

Sir Revairus Williams

Your Majesty, wait! There’s going to be… *pause* …a bunch of the disturbed dead in the way.

Princess Sarah Cornelia

…ow.

Sir Revairus Williams

You, black mage!

High Sage Envelress Caroline

I have a name.

Sir Revairus Williams

Caroline! Can you… do something about that?

High Sage Envelress Caroline

*frowns* No… they are being pulled away from my power. Fear not, I shall summon some of the recently dead to aid us. *whisper* Forgive me, fellows.

Zombie

*grwarg*

Bikke

Me’thinks the idea was for them to attack it, not us!

High Sage Envelress Caroline

I… *slowly panicking* I don’t understand, they’re not listening to me! Why are they listening to it why are they listening to that thing!

Sir Revairus Williams

Old fashioned way it is, then! Let’s shut this damned thing up!

15: Naval Ship En Route To Crescent Lake

Sir Revairus Williams

…are you alright?

High Sage Envelress Caroline

Hm?

Sir Revairus Williams

Are you alright. You’ve looked pretty rattled since we took down boneface back there.

High Sage Envelress Caroline

…is it that bad?

Sir Revairus Williams

I mean… yeah. You look like my mother looked when I told her I was going to take up the sword.

High Sage Envelress Caroline

I’m sure she was quite proud of you.

Sir Revairus Williams

*pause* You know. I’ve always found it’s one thing to be ostracized and vilified for something you do, or something you did. There’s a fairness in that, right? It may not be pleasant but… at least you can understand it. But then the misinformation starts getting involved, and people yell at you for eating something you never did, or stealing something you wouldn’t, or whatever strikes their fancy. That’s just frustrating. And of course nobody believes you, why would they? After all, why would an innocent person protest so?

High Sage Envelress Caroline

…I am aware of what you are attempting. And I appreciate it. *pause* I… *another pause*

Sir Revairus Williams

S’alright. I know not everyone is big on talking it all out. Just wanted you to know that, even if we don’t say it, we good.

High Sage Envelress Caroline

*nod* Mm.

*bit of a pause*

Princess Sarah Cornelia

Why did you do that?

Sir Revairus Williams

Do what, be a decent person?

Princess Sarah Cornelia

You know what I mean.

Sir Revairus Williams

Well. I just don’t like people not knowing others feel like they do.

Princess Sarah Cornelia

Group support?

Sir Revairus Williams

Something like that. *exhale* Sometimes people need to actually hear it, even if they know it. It helps. After all, until you hear it, maybe it isn’t true?

Princess Sarah Cornelia

Hm. *pause* I appreciate your help, Ser Williams.

Sir Revairus Williams

Help with what?

Princess Sarah Cornelia

In general. You have been a valuable companion this last month.

Sir Revairus Williams

Heh… well. I do try. *pause* Course now I need to reciprocate and it’s all awkward like.

Bikke

Fear not! I gotcher back, mate.

Sir Revairus Williams

Please don’t.

Bikke

M’lady! Fair Williams finds folly in failing to explain to thee how thy presence bespokes a positivity most… befund? Befouled? Embettered?

Princess Sarah Cornelia

Beneficial.

Bikke

Beneficial!

Princess Sarah Cornelia

You’re in a good mood.

Bikke

C’mon, what’s not ta be happy about? Crystal freed, Earth cleansed, creature destroyed, powers attained! Still gettin’ used to mine. Not really accustomed to bein’ of the earth ‘n not the sea.

Sir Revairus Williams

Well I’ll be sure to lodge your complaint, ma’am.

Bikke

As well ye should! Ahh but no, ah’m just happy to be on the waves again. S’been too long.

Sir Revairus Williams

It’s been like 8 days.

Bikke

A lifetime! Lackin’ the sea and the salt and the brine and the brink. How e’er didst I survive? Hahaha.

Sir Revairus Williams

You’re completely ridiculous.

Bikke

Ah you’re just jealous because ah interrupted ya from admittin’ it.

Sir Revairus Williams

Admitting what?

Bikke

*grinning* Nothin’.

Sir Revairus Williams

You… *pause* Nope. Nope! Stop lookin’ at me like that.

Bikke

Ah didn’t say a thing.

Sir Revairus Williams

I am not… *breath* How long until we reach Crescent?

Bikke

Ahh… not too overlong. Couple more days I reckon. Plenty ‘o time to wrangle a speck o’ veracity outta ye.

Sir Revairus Williams

I hate you.

Bikke

Ahahahahaha!

16: Frozen Cave

Sage Jackson

King’s pawn to E4.

Lar

King’s pawn to E5.

Sage Jackson

Really? King’s knight to F3.

Lar

Queen’s pawn to D6. What?

Sage Jackson

You always open that way. Queen’s pawn to D4.

Lar

There’s nothin’ wrong with havin’ a system. Queen’s bishop to G4.

Sage Jackson

There is if you’re boring. Gonna go bug Serenadora you keep this up. D4 pawn takes pawn E5.

Lar

I’m concentratin’. It’s cold and I’m cold and I wanna get OM as fast as possible. Bishop takes knight F3.

Sage Jackson

One would imagine the Fire Leyline bein’ off would mean things would increase in temperature, not decrease. *sighs*

Lar

You… gonna go?

Sage Jackson

Right. Uhm. Lost my place.

Lar

Jez took yer knight.

Sage Jackson

Right! Queen takes knight F3.

Lar

D6 pawn takes pawn E5. *short shaking brrr* Dammit it’s cold.

Sage Jackson

Shame we can’t touch up the soup.

Lar

Or grab a smoke. Oy! Boss is comin’ back.

Thaehegdar

Look alive! We are go to disperse. Area’s secured. Anything get out?

Lar

Not a damned peep, ser. How many more of these chicken holes we gotta squat on?

Thaehegdar

Just a couple. Cave o’ Ignus and Mt. Gulg are next on the list.

Lar

They gonna be warmer than this at least?

Thaehegdar

No promises. *looks over* There’s team 1. Let’s get on with it.

Sage Jackson

Ser.

17: Deep Within Mt. Gulg

Sage Jackson

Well.

Lar

Don’t you say it, not one bloody word.

Sage Jackson

I’m just saying!

Thaehegdar

Cut the chatter! Two tangos, right wall!

Lar

I got ‘em boss!

Serenadora

Ugh, what is up with the density in here? I’ve not seen this many monsters in my entire career.

Sage Jackson

What about during the war?

Serenadora

*shakes head* Mm-mm. Most you’d get there is after a battle, horrors and nightmares picking at the dead and the dying. Cleaning that up probably shaved a few years off, let me tell you.

Lar

Wish I’da been there. I was busy runnin’ interference up north the whole damned war. Friggin’ anti fish faction.

Serenadora

Say that again to their faces.

Lar

I ain’t got nothin’ against the fishfolk! In fact, this one time when I was on leave off in Melmond, I managed to bag a fine one, if you catch my drift.

Sage Jackson

Alright, alright, nope. Lalalala!

Serenadora

Boss! What’s the word.

Thaehegdar

…Team one’s dead.

*noticeable pause*

Sage Jackson

What?

Thaehegdar

We’re go for evac people. *pause* Now! Now now now move it, move it!

Sage Jackson

The hell killed off the whole team?

Lar

You wanna find out, you could hang around a minute!

Serenadora

Hold! They’ve got the northeast corridor covered!

Sage Jackson

They advancing?

Serenadora

No! No coordination, just roamers.

Thaehegdar

Pull in, pull in! Set up cross sight, get those spells slinging! We hold up here until it’s safe to move!

Serenadora

AAAEEUUGGGHHH!

Sage Jackson

Serenadora!!

Thaehegdar

Hold! *in pain* HOLD damn you!

18: Entering Mt. Gulg

Bikke

Fer the record. Not overly fond o’ the heat.

High Sage Envelress Caroline

I offered to accommodate but you were insistent.

Bikke

Ah ‘tis nothin’ to a true woman o’ the sea.

Princess Sarah Cornelia

This might be as far from the sea as we could possibly be.

Bikke

Mayhap! But with fair winds, we might happen upon fairer weather soon. Instead of this bloody heat!

Sir Revairus Williams

Hold. *frowns* There’s… no monsters in this area.

High Sage Envelress Caroline

A few monster corpses, however. *kneels by one* They… they were in such pain. They could scarcely think for it. This… isn’t natural.

Sir Revairus Williams

Remind you of anything?

Princess Sarah Cornelia

Mm.

Lord General Astos

Pardon?

Princess Sarah Cornelia

We were in the Marsh Cave a bit over a month ago. Similar problems… local creatures covered in energy unnatural, violent and dangerous beyond their norm. *pause* Mer Caroline?

High Sage Envelress Caroline

Please, just… Caroline.

Princess Sarah Cornelia

I’m unfamiliar with Mt. Gulg. Is it, ah, always like this?

High Sage Envelress Caroline

No, not at all. This resurgence of volcanic activity is unknown to me. First Sage Lukahn did mention two ASO teams deployed right about when I departed for Melmond… Perhaps we are following in their footst–*cuts off, shocked*

Sir Revairus Williams

Dammit. Bikke! Get me a bandage, something.

Bikke

Lad… there’s no way.

Sir Revairus Williams

I… *pauses as he examines the body* …right. Looks like we found one of the teams.

Bikke

Aye… but they be beyond our cares, and now rest more in hers.

High Sage Envelress Caroline

What do you imply?

Bikke

I imply nothin’. I state outright they reside in care o’ yours. Are ye gonna help them or not?

High Sage Envelress Caroline

I… yes. Cover me for a moment, please.

Princess Sarah Cornelia

Hardly necessary. This area is devoid of further monsters.

Sir Revairus Williams

Arcane Spec Ops did their job to the last.

Princess Sarah Cornelia

Mm.

High Sage Envelress Caroline

Venerated fallen, please. Share with us your name.

Farlamin

Far…lamin…

High Sage Envelress Caroline

Farlamin. Speak to us of how you died. Let us ease your passing.

Farlamin

…..nngghhfblmmfff.….

High Sage Envelress Caroline

Please. In your own time. There is no rush.

Farlamin

M…mm…. mmmmore monsters than… believed… empowered by… rotten line… So many…

High Sage Envelress Caroline

Is this the source of the taint? Is this the heart of the scream?

Farlamin

Battlemage… believed so… took team… two… down … southwest passage…

High Sage Envelress Caroline

Please, rest… know that you performed your duty admirably.

Farlamin

Thaaank…. Youuu…. *slow exhale*

Sir Revairus Williams

I do not wish to speak ill of the dead, but I feel we should take advantage of the ASO’s progress. These battles were recent, and our path is clear… for now.

Princess Sarah Cornelia

Agreed. Let us attempt to link up with team two.

19: Deep Within Mt. Gulg, Fire Crystal

Princess Sarah Cornelia

Hold. There’s a person up there.

Sir Revairus Williams

Hello! Star! Star!

Sage Jackson

L…Lykion…

Princess Sarah Cornelia

Is he… Is he injured?

Sir Revairus Williams

He’s hurt but he’s going to be alright. Hey. *snapping fingers* Hey! Look at me. Focus on me. Focus on my voice.

Sage Jackson

Who…?

Sir Revairus Williams

Sir Williams of Morisburn. Second Division. Name! Rank!

Sage Jackson

J…Jackson. Sentinel, first class, ASO third lance.

Sir Revairus Williams

Report!

Sage Jackson

We… *finally gathering self* We were on our final infiltration of suspected Fire Leyline problem areas. The Mountain was more active than it should be, in terrain and enemy forces both. Teams One and Two split to better cover ground and determine what was the source of the disturbance. Team One was… was destroyed. Team Two chose hard hunker and we… *noticeable pause* I am the only survivor.

Sir Revairus Williams

Understood. Direction?

Sage Jackson

Southwest passage… past the coursing walls. And the… corpses.

Sir Revairus Williams

You took a lot of them with you, soldier.

Sage Jackson

Yes… we did.

Lord General Astos

Whilst he be… alright?

Sir Revairus Williams

Absolutely not. But right now he needs something to do and we need to hurry. This lull isn’t going to last forever. Soldier!

Sage Jackson

Ser!

Sir Revairus Williams

On your feet. We’re OM.

Sage Jackson

Yes ser.

*short pause*

Bikke

Y’know, after the last one, I shouldn’t be over-much surprised.

Lord General Astos

It… looks similar to the last one. High Sage Caroline?

High Sage Envelress Caroline

I told you it’s just Caroline. And yes, though its appearance differs, it is clearly of the same distortion as The Lich. Why is it just sitting there, wrapped around the crystal?

The Marilith

Why is this not working. It should be working. I know this works it shouldn’t take this long why isn’t this working! I’ve been here for so long! It’s been four god damned years! Why doesn’t it just work so I can get on with it! I know what I’m doing, I’m doing it right, unless there’s something I don’t know, but I’ve already tried that! I’ve tried everything! I’ve tried everything twice over! I am sick to death of this taking so FUCKING long. Enough! Enough delays! Enough wandering! Enough lack of answers! Enough silence! I deserve to at least get to the starting line!

Sir Revairus Williams

Alright, whatever that is, we need to get it off the crystal. Now. Jackson!

Sage Jackson

Ser!

Sir Revairus Williams

You got our backs?

Sage Jackson

Ser.

Sir Revairus Williams

Good. Let’s rock this thing.

20: Naval Ship En Route To Crescent

Lord General Astos

Forgive intrusion’s discourtesy. Didst I hear correctly? Thou art of Jackson line?

Sage Jackson

What of it?

Lord General Astos

Doest thou know of mine personage?

Sage Jackson

Yes.

Lord General Astos

…right. Scarce reason to inquire. Well, I open with an entreaty of apology. I am very sorry for all the pain and conflict I have caused thee in particular and thy family in generic.

Sage Jackson

I’m not looking for an apology.

Lord General Astos

Pardon?

Sage Jackson

Apologies change nothing. And I’m not in the judgment game regardless. What’s done is done, right now we have a mess to deal with.

Lord General Astos

Of course. The… real reason for conversation was to convey condolences.

Sage Jackson

Over what, my dead mates?

Lord General Astos

Yes. *pouring sounds* Drink?

Sage Jackson

I don’t drink.

Lord General Astos

Of thy preference. *sits, sipping* *satisfied* Ahh…

Sage Jackson

…what are you doing?

Lord General Astos

Lost thine eyes? A drink. *holds up glass* I do believe one was offered to thee as well, but…

Sage Jackson

Why are you drinking here?

Lord General Astos

This be the only environs for decompression upon fair vessel. Oh a good ship, to be sure, but… not one for amenities.

Sage Jackson

Can’t you go drink… someplace else?

Lord General Astos

In truth, I cannot.

Sage Jackson

*long pause*

…they used to call me Lackey Jackey. I was… *pause* High nobility, right? Don’t have to tell you. I’d help with people’s bags, or… or carry in their groceries that day. Need a hand with that? Sure thing, I got ya. No problem. *sound of a glass being put down* So I’m going through section and doing the Neveren course and this kid comes up, had to be half my age, fresh out of schooling. And I don’t even think about it. Let me help you with those! Grab his bags, help him up to the waiting area. Sage starts laughing. Sorta stuck. *sound of drink being poured* My third deployment we were hunting a roaming troll pack. *takes a sip* Henderson has this great idea, “I’m gonna go play bait!” I’m… kidding he didn’t talk like that. He was more proper, all thee and thou, like you. No, uh, offense. *pause* He’s just laying there, wailing, we had to get some real blood so he cut himself up a bit. Made it look good. Spent a damned hour just laying there, never stopped hollering. We were bored. They always told us in training: stop, look, listen, smell. Take these little moments, refocus. It helps, but man. Finally one of the green beasts starts sniffing up the road, clutching its head and scrabbling around like … well I suppose it is a beast. *sip* Henderson starts freaking out a bit. Don’t blame him, trolls are mean. I had his back though. He didn’t even lose his leg like he thought he was going to. No problems. Couple of enchantments on the trolls, couple of heals to soothe, couple of barriers to protect. Easy peasy. Never lost a fellow. Never a black mark on my record.

*pregnant pause*

Lord General Astos

Upon war’s declaration I and my levies marched north to claim our vaunted target. I remember the air of this day; crisp, clean, invigorating. When target’s grasp lay in our capable hands, we were met with mild befuddlement and some light skirmishing. No casualties, nothing you could call a battle. Emboldened, we camped the night. It was… *laughs faintly at himself* It likened to mine ventures as a child, resting neath stretched tarp before magicked fire. Fond days. At morrow’s light we set north for the southern Duergar Fields. Ah, I spy from thy reaction thou hast heard of it. *sip* Again, peaceful movement. In hindsight I feel I had already convinced mine thoughts of bloodless acquisition and swift end to war’s entanglements. *another sip* We decided to rest there the night… and then three nights more. Awaited I word of Cornelia’s capitulation with idle merriment, speaking with the local townsfolk and enjoying fine dwarven ales. *pause, changes grip on mug* The Cornelian First Division arrived some days later. I’d… never experienced battle before. The Lord Commander’s expert troops and practiced tactics proved… effective. My brigadier was much more capable and competent… a good man. The… enemy came close to capture, were not for his shoving me upon his horse and sending it conveying mine unconscious body. I jostled to awareness some time later. His was the first letter I penned… though not the last. *sips* I often wonder if mine capture would have evaded war’s endurance. Folly, of course. Never again didst I stray to battle’s side. Stayed behind… supply lines, logistics. Letters. Many letters. And when the plague hit… *noticeable pause* I have many black marks upon mine record, ser Jackson.

Sage Jackson

I’m… not sure how this is supposed to make me feel better.

Lord General Astos

It is not. Thy feelings matter not in this matter, ser. Only thy choices. And thou hast but two. Thou canst answer the night’s quiet call, or thou canst continue on chosen path. But until faced this black mark be, it shall retain with thee until the end of thy days… stains and smears upon memory’s weave. And thy comrades names shall remain as such, rather than bright fires for memory’s course. *stands up, grabs coat* Mine recommendation remains firm, good ser. Do not allow their names to tarnish thy self. Let them light thy path instead. *walks out*

Sage Jackson

*softly begins crying into his cup*

21: Airship Docks At Crescent

High Sage Envelress Caroline

Airmaster! Airmaster!!

Airmaster Cid

Ress! Was wondering when you’d show up.

High Sage Envelress Caroline

Well, forgive me. I was a bit busy trying to get your ship the stone it required!

Airmaster Cid

All by your lonesome! I should consider myself blessed. *glances around* Quite a crew you’re dragging onto my ship. Should make for a fun voyage.

High Sage Envelress Caroline

Not the words I would use. And it may become a bit more… boring the next couple of days.

Airmaster Cid

Oh?

First Sage Lukahn

Indeed. We must move with swiftness!

Airmaster Cid

Ser Lukahn!

First Sage Lukahn

Good morning, Cid. Always a pleasure to see you, but I’m afraid I only have a few minutes. I’m just here to impart just how serious the urgency of the moment is. Whatever is destabilizing the elemental leylines is doing so with startling rapidity. We saw how bad it got near Melmond in just a week, and the Ignus Cave was frozen solid over in not much longer. We must find the last two of these contaminating fiends before we reach a tipping point.

Airmaster Cid

I understand, ser. I won’t let you down.

First Sage Lukahn

You never have. Ah, Princess, there you are. This is Airmaster Cid, best airsmith in the business.

Airmaster Cid

Pleased to meet you, mer. With things being all hurried like, don’t suppose we have a heading?

Princess Sarah Cornelia

We do… Cornelia.

Airmaster Cid

Beg pardon?

Princess Sarah Cornelia

You can get us there with all swiftness, yes?

Airmaster Cid

Well… of course. But why the human kingdom?

Princess Sarah Cornelia

Simple. We need unification of the four powers before we reach out to Onrac, which is most likely going to know of the source of the water leyline’s troubles.

Airmaster Cid

Ah… yeah. Can see why you’d want a bit of political backing first.

Princess Sarah Cornelia

Exactly. So! We are in a bit of a hurry.

Airmaster Cid

Right as soon as you and yours are aboard, mer.

Bikke

I’m tryin’ ta hurry! You try haulin’ cargo fer a livin’, see how it suits ya.

Sir Revairus Williams

You could just leave the rum behind.

Bikke

Are ye mad?!

Sir Revairus Williams

It’s been suggested. Besides, I’m pretty sure the Sagehood keeps its own supply on board.

Bikke

Aye, but not this stuff. You’ll see, it’ll be werth it.

22: On Board The Airship En Route To Onrac

Sir Revairus Williams

I cannot believe you.

Bikke

What! Worked, didn’ it?

Sir Revairus Williams

Didn’t have to be alcohol.

Bikke

No, it didn’. But… *gestures* Well, I know ye ne’er really spent much time amidst the court, but lil’ trick fer tha future once crown sits on that pretty little head.

Sir Revairus Williams

I am not taking the crown.

Bikke

Not how I meant. Anywho! *leans back* Royal types, they like gifts. Now, that sounds obvious… anybody an’ everybody likes a gift, right! Well… royal types, they like fancy gifts. Don’ matter what. Booze, baubles, beasts, books, bags, birds. Nah uh. All they care about is it’s fancy-like. Rare, or hard to get, or ‘spensive, or unique. They may not care ‘bout the gift itself, but they’ll get all nice and receptive-like.

Sir Revairus Williams

Cute. Considering we had their best interests in mind, you’d think we could just sorta… cut through the bullcrap.

Bikke

Ah, Williams. Lemme roll out tha carpet fer ya a sec.

Sir Revairus Williams

I’m not that drunk.

Bikke

Not like that! You couldn’ handle me anyway.

Sir Revairus Williams

*chuckling* True enough.

Bikke

Nah… royalty types? That sorta thing’s what they live fer. Ye spend yer life doin’ paperwerk, managin’ trade lines ‘n petitioners ‘n keepin’ folk happy. Ya need somethin’ now an’ again. Why you think yer beau started takin’ up the fine art o’ punchin’ crap?

Sir Revairus Williams

Wouldn’t I be her beau?

Bikke

*grinning* You said it, not me.

Sir Revairus Williams

*completely flustered* You.. not what… I.. but… Ahem!

Bikke

Ahahaha… yer too easy mate. Yer a grown man, you can handle yerself. But keep it in mind… *sips* Everybody needs that lil’ somethin’ in their life to make life worth somethin’. Don’t matter what it is… jez like the gifts.

Sir Revairus Williams

I’m just glad they worked.

Bikke

Quit avoidin’ it.

Sir Revairus Williams

What? I’m not interested in pursuing a princess.

Bikke

…I meant’ me point, not the fair lass.

Sir Revairus Williams

I… *long pause as he gets really embarrassed* I’m sorry. What?

Bikke

*trying really hard not to grin* Me point, lad… Vair. Is we all need somethin’.

Sir Revairus Williams

And?

Bikke

And you *poke* need *poke* somethin’ * poke* like *poke* that.

Sir Revairus Williams

Cute. And here I thought friends were supposed to cheer each other up.

Bikke

Friends’re supposed ta be honest wit each other.

Sir Revairus Williams

What about you?

Bikke

What about me? I got what I wanted… finally. Finally… finally… finally. A gran’ adventure, like in the old stories. Savin’ people, makin’ the world a better place. You know why I enlisted.

Sir Revairus Williams

I know. And I’m happy for you. But I meant after.

Bikke

After? I did it, I’m good. Sea ‘n spirits’ll satisfy me.

Sir Revairus Williams

You presume we’ll succeed.

Bikke

Damn right I do.

*pause*

Sir Revairus Williams

What… *struggles for words*

Bikke

Vair… Vair. You an’ me both know what you live fer. Only question bein’ how you gonna make it werk with the times that’re a comin’.

Sir Revairus Williams

…I’ve… had a few ideas.

Bikke

*actual surprise* Really?

Sir Revairus Williams

Yeah. Not that I can ever live up to your esteemed ensample, but… y’know. Leaning that way.

Bikke

Hm. In that case… a toast ta yer success. Though… might wanna run it by yer beau first.

Sir Revairus Williams

You already got me with that one. Doesn’t work again.

Bikke

Heh… can’t blame an old girl fer tryin’. *sips* Here’s ta the future, mate.

Sir Revairus Williams

The future.

23: Underwater, the Sunken Shrine Near Onrac

Bikke

Well, the merfolk were accommodatin’ at least.

Princess Sarah Cornelia

Not often you see such a group. And Onrac has as much of a vested interest in fixing this problem as the rest of us.

Sir Revairus Williams

Probably more so. Dunno how much you were paying attention Sarah, but the shore and harbor districts have seen better days.

Bikke

Polite way o’ puttin’ it. I seen underwater ruins what look better than poor docks. You catch the escalation pro’lem?

Sir Revairus Williams

Oh, I heard it. Tidal waves getting more frequent and all that. We’re officially on the clock.

Lord General Astos

Then haste calleth venture forth! This tunnel be the closest, I say we sojourn, hence!

High Sage Envelress Caroline

Why would you simply go down the first tunnel you see? Let us be methodical in our search.

Lord General Astos

Forgive me, Caroline, but methodical methodology means progress slowed!

Sage Jackson

Sitting here arguing about it doesn’t help anything either.

Lord General Astos

Ser Jackson has a point. All the more reason to away!

Sage Jackson

We cannot afford to over-extend ourselves at this point. Yes we have these lovely Fire abilities courtesy of the Crystal, but that just means we’re a resource that shouldn’t be squandered.

High Sage Envelress Caroline

I would not think over kindly about ourselves.

Sage Jackson

I would! It’s not a matter of how much we matter, it’s about what we can do. How many others are even aware of this threat, nevermind in a position to combat it?

Lord General Astos

With haste, no less.

Sage Jackson

Yes, thank you General. With haste!

High Sage Envelress Caroline

I just think that if we are going to be trying to descend into the depths facing untold terrors a bit of caution is predisposed. You do not go charging into a surgery or a tomb without critical thinking or care simply because you are in a hurry. All you are going to do is cause further damage to your patient, and that is even if you know what you are looking for to begin with, which we do not!

Sage Jackson

Not that I want to bang on a bit too much about something I’ve been through very recently… as in just two weeks ago now… but I really feel like moving as a cohesive unit with a singular head and leadership is to our best benefit. Now granted, Ser Williams is probably the best pick for this, but I could also see going for General Astos given a choice. Honestly anyone other than myself, I am in no condition. I haven’t even gotten my second bars yet! Not that I couldn’t, if I wanted to, I mean.

Sir Revairus Williams

This is ridiculous. I don’t see why we don’t just keep going like we always have. It’s not that hard to coordinate and it’s not like we haven’t had a few weeks to practice with each other. There’s no real reason to suddenly be having issues, just because one person doesn’t believe there wouldn’t be difficulties! And we are wasting time right now while we sit here and argue it, this is ridiculous!

Princess Sarah Cornelia

Why is everyone arguing about such a minor point? I don’t understand. We’ve had no issues prior to now, surely it would be incumbent upon us to simply continue? I know encounters thusfar have been of greater severity than previously fought, but that’s no reason to simply stop and stall. The coastline of Onrac will not withstand much more of their tidal assault, and lest further injury befall them we must needs take this crystal and remove its parasite with all due haste! This is ridiculous!

Lord General Astos

Prithee, this argument serveth no purpose! Given enemy’s foul intent and regular intractions surely this presents opportunity benign to challenge ourselves forthwith! We must away, doest I speak to the air?! If purpose be not strangled by hallway’s path then let us bespeak another! For upon travel’s currents we alight, seeking fair struggle in forceful purpose! It must needs be found in selves, lest lost and varied we find naught but doldrums!

Bikke

Oy… *pause* OY!! *everyone shuts up* Lads and ladies, enough. We needs a leader. Eh… eh! Doesn’t hafta be long term. We’ve managed well enough as is, but we’s been coastin’ on fair tides. But this sunken shrine clearly be a bit above our usual. We needs must have a cap’n.

Lord General Astos

A novel idea, mer. I agree completely, and have full faith in thy capacity to captain us henceforth.

Bikke

Actually I was gonna nominate Williams.

Sir Revairus Williams

…me?

Lord General Astos

Why not thyself? Thou’rt a captain tried and true, capable and excelled.

Bikke

Aye, I’ve run a rudder most me life. But I’m good on a ship, with crew an’ waves an’ berth. Ye be needin’ a tactician. And nobody here be better at that than the good Colonel over there.

Sir Revairus Williams

I’m not a Colonel anymore.

Bikke

It really don’t matter at this point, Vair.

Sir Revairus Williams

…you… Hrmphf. You okay with this? *pause as everyone slowly nods* …alright. We need to move as one unit. Jackson you’re center, General you stick with him. Sarah, cover the rear guard. Bikke, you’re with me up front. Move.

*pause as they shuffle away*

Bikke

Somethin’ amusin’, yer majesty?

Princess Sarah Cornelia

What? No, why?

Bikke

Nothin’ at all, yer majesty.

24: Deepest Part of The Sunken Shrine, Water Crystal

The Kraken

Wave after wave after wave and I’ll beat the blood out of them. I should have killed them all. We had them on the run. They had the plague! It would have been the perfect time to purge them. Probably rip a few of our own weaklings out while we’re at it. Just set up a nice, clean, blank slate. No, that’s a lie. I’d bring them around every now and again. For sport. Maybe make them run. Maybe give them a weapon. An arena? A colosseum? Helps to keep on my toes, after all. Sell tickets, that’ll offset your precious taxes princess. *spit* Taxes… pah! You bore me to death. All I require is my warrior spirit.

Sir Revairus Williams

Hm.

Bikke

Somethin’ buggin’ ya, Vair?

Sir Revairus Williams

No. Well, yes, but it can wait. Formation Beta! Watch those tangos! You spot something coming in, you call it out, understood?

Bikke

Aye!

Princess Sarah Cornelia

Right!

High Sage Envelress Caroline

Yes!

Lord General Astos

Of course!

Sage Jackson

Roger!

Sir Revairus Williams

Good. I don’t know what you are or where you came from, but I’m afraid the world needs a little bit less of you in it!

25: City of Onrac

Merfolk Representative

Certain waves stop?

Lord General Astos

With veracity. Lacking one, hasn’t there, since morning’s break?

Merfolk Representative

Yes… Violence… *shudders* Undesired.

Lord General Astos

Of a certainty. Fear not. The southern nations support thee in these trying times.

Princess Sarah Cornelia

Yes, Melmond has already pledged several ships and a great wealth of material in helping the recovery.

Merfolk Representative

Melting… Mound? Wayward brethren… warms heart. Many thanks.

Lord General Astos

Of course.

Bikke

*walking away* Ahh. Always refreshin’ fer a bit o’ gratitude, be it not?

Princess Sarah Cornelia

I am quite pleased, yes. This will go a long way towards mending bonds twixt the islands.

Bikke

Aye… Onrac been driftin’ alone fer far too long. *pause* What? Think I don’t keep up on me politys? This is the best and most able port north o’ the Edraveric.

Princess Sarah Cornelia

Furthering the cause of peace and prosperity surely has nothing to do with it.

Bikke

With assurity, your majesty.

Princess Sarah Cornelia

Right. Airmaster! Bored of your ship already?

Airmaster Cid

Hardly! Just soaking in the sights. Not every day they let you visit past the docks.

Princess Sarah Cornelia

Of course. *sighs*

Airmaster Cid

Mer? What’s the matter?

Princess Sarah Cornelia

We’re a bit stuck.

Airmaster Cid

How so?

Lord General Astos

Presently we’ve received a surfeit of fortune.

High Sage Envelress Caroline

Indeed. I was visiting Melmond to investigate the Earth Leyline, and with Lord Astos’ aid we were able to visit the Giants prior to their departure and learn of the existence of the crystals.

Sage Jackson

And then me and… and my teams were jaunting from one nearby area to the next and happened to stumble upon where the fire crystal was.

Bikke

And o’ course it be natural water be so connected with lands o’ fishfolk, an’ we were already Onrac bound.

Lord General Astos

But now we face a simple stumbling block; whereupon might air be resting? Precious few are even aware of Crystal’s existence. Lack, we, time and instrumentation to properly hone in on site’s locale. But haste must be made, for air groweth stagnant and still.

High Sage Envelress Caroline

Yes… even here I can feel the toxin seeping on the breeze. *exhales* I suppose I, er, we could begin trying to trace it to the source, like I was doing with Earth.

Lord General Astos

That could narrow it down, though didst thou not require further aid upon arrival?

High Sage Envelress Caroline

Well… yes. The magical reverberations were causing such a din in combination with the leyline’s discordance that I was having difficulty triangulating with so much bad feedback.

Airmaster Cid

Ah… excuse me? Sers and mers? I… *slow exhale* I may have an idea of where to search.

Sir Revairus Williams

Oh?

Airmaster Cid

Aye… there rests an island, relatively small, a ways east of here.

Bikke

I’m familiar with it… Cliffshores, we calls it. Lotta shipwrecks ‘round there, steep and stark cliffs edges all ‘round.

Airmaster Cid

Yes, that’s the one. I… well. I’ve been there. There’s a city, a magical city resting amidst rocks and trees, hidden from the world.

Sir Revairus Williams

And you think this place might hold the Air Crystal?

Airmaster Cid

I’d say it’s a definite possibility.

Bikke

Fergive me fer askin’… Why volunteer this now, ‘n not afore?

Airmaster Cid

I, ah. Well, they value their privacy. A great deal. Me and my crew were only able to escape because I swore an oath of secrecy.

Lord General Astos

Affirmed. *pause as Astos puts his hand on Cid’s shoulder* Ser Cid of the Sagehood, in my formal position as Lord of the Westrest Lands and highborn of Elfheim, I hereby disinherit thy charge and take it upon myself. Henceforth, should oath be broken, upon mine head doest it reside.

Airmaster Cid

I… don’t think it works that way, but thanks.

Princess Sarah Cornelia

Now if you don’t mind, if there’s any chance this place is our destination we should get going immediately. *pause* What’d you say its name was again?

Airmaster Cid

…Lufein. The city of Lufein.

26: On Board Airship En Route To Lufein

Lord General Astos

I wouldst have presumed thy studies occupy thee.

High Sage Envelress Caroline

Can I help you?

Lord General Astos

Forgive me, if intrusion be unwelcome I can away with haste.

High Sage Envelress Caroline

No, I’m sorry, that sounded rude. I’m just confused why you’re here.

Lord General Astos

To discuss, of course. Thine endeavors, I confess, I find fascinating.

High Sage Envelress Caroline

Most people aren’t interested in the dead.

Lord General Astos

Ah, I speak not specifically of thine necroveny. Rather, thy persistence of purpose in spite of social difficulty. Wouldst thou not find further veneration in elsewise pursuits?

High Sage Envelress Caroline

Of course. But nobody else wishes to study the dead as I do. And without proper understanding, how can we possibly advance the magical arts? We must be willing to expand and develop even the less preferred sciences in order to accurately comprehend the world around us.

Lord General Astos

Thy speech be practiced well.

High Sage Envelress Caroline

Pardon?

Lord General Astos

*pause as he sits beside her* High Sage. Spent years have I in court and amidst petitioners.

High Sage Envelress Caroline

I… *sighs* Right. Sorry. I guess I’m just used to ‘the speech’.

Lord General Astos

Thou once spoke of a beauty in death.

High Sage Envelress Caroline

Yes. I mean.. Not that I want people to die, of course.

Lord General Astos

Fair few deeply desire fellow’s death.

High Sage Envelress Caroline

Is that the general or the lord speaking?

Lord General Astos

Tis true, regardless from what mouth it spills.

High Sage Envelress Caroline

…death is… natural. It flows. Anyone can see a corpse rotting, but what I see is our bodies performing one last duty. Preparing flesh and bone and sinew for eventual dissolution into the world around us. Becoming a part of that which sustained us for so long.

Lord General Astos

Thou believest in the lifestream theory?

High Sage Envelress Caroline

No… or rather, I’ve never thought about it. But whether our souls flow into some mythical font of magic or not, our selves certainly become one with nature. With our homes. And like all things, it can be done well, or it can be done… badly.

Lord General Astos

Such as in war.

High Sage Envelress Caroline

I… did not say that.

Lord General Astos

*admonishing* High Sage.

High Sage Envelress Caroline

*sighs* Does my tone give me away so?

Lord General Astos

Actually no. Thy vocal control is most refined. Thou wouldst have done well in courtly arena.

High Sage Envelress Caroline

No thank you. I got enough of that in the Sagehood.

Lord General Astos

Verily. *pause* Mine apologies.

High Sage Envelress Caroline

For what?

Lord General Astos

Picking upon old wounds.

High Sage Envelress Caroline

I… I did a tour covering one of your battlefields during the war.

Lord General Astos

Aware, am I.

High Sage Envelress Caroline

It was… …*struggling for words* … …ugly.

Lord General Astos

Of this, we find agreement. *stands* Forgive me mine intrusion. I shalt leave thee to thy studies.

High Sage Envelress Caroline

Do you regret it? Ever, I mean. The… I’m sorry.

Lord General Astos

Apologize not. But regret? M’lady… regrets are for the dead. The living, remaining living, have but one choice before them.

High Sage Envelress Caroline

I… I see.

Lord General Astos

Good night, High Sage Caroline.

High Sage Envelress Caroline

Lord General Astos.

27: The City of the Lufein

Sir Revairus Williams

I’m not the only one bothered by this, right?

Princess Sarah Cornelia

Which part. Being allowed to land in the ancient city of the Lufein, or the fact that they’re all just staring at us silently?

Sir Revairus Williams

I think that covers it, yes.

Princess Sarah Cornelia

Are we, ah, in combat mode?

Sir Revairus Williams

Yes, we’re still in formation Seawalk.

Princess Sarah Cornelia

Just… checking.

Sage Jackson

Someone’s coming!

Apaline

Are… are you from the Fortress?

Sir Revairus Williams

Beg pardon?

Princess Sarah Cornelia

Shh. No, we’re not. We came in on our own airship, from the south.

Apaline

So… but… you clearly glow with the crystal’s light.

Princess Sarah Cornelia

That’s right. We’ve been in personal contact with three of the crystals to date.

Apaline

Then… *pauses* Forgive me. We’re not very accustomed to outsiders. Usually the fleet is more than skilled in dissuading would-be conquerors or marauders.

Sir Revairus Williams

Well, to your great fortune we happen to be neither. We seek the crystal of air and whatever lies upon it. Would you happen to know its location?

Apaline

…let me take you to see the Thaumaturge.

Princess Sarah Cornelia

…still in formation Seawalk?

Sir Revairus Williams

Still in formation Seawalk.

*shuffle shuffle*

Thaumaturge

Ah, Apaline. I see you brought our intruders in. Were they any difficulty?

Apaline

No, Thaumaturge. They came willingly.

Thaumaturge

Of course, of course… Well? If the pall of the air didn’t inform well enough, we’ve precious little time. Out with it!

Princess Sarah Cornelia

Fair representative of venerated Lufein… forgive us the intrusion. We have reason to believe an elemental parasite of some sort is currently grasped to the crystal of air, and it is our intent and purpose to remove it by any means necessary. We formally request information on its location.

Thaumaturge

Nothing more? No calls for help, no demands for trinkets?

Princess Sarah Cornelia

As you said, we are low on time.

Thaumaturge

Hahaha… Alright. I can see just by looking at you that you’ve already been touched by the crystals, and that you are formidable regardless. It is for this reason alone I will allow you to set foot on the Fortress.

Princess Sarah Cornelia

The… Fortress?

Thaumaturge

Well. Since we’re a bit against the wall here, might as well be as honest as we can be. We, ah… we’ve been here a while, you may know that. We ventured to the isles to escape various entitlement issues from the mainland that a citystate of mages might find themselves beset by. We did alright out here for a while, the fleet kept most stragglers at bay, but as our distant neighbors started growing more invested and more emboldened we came up with a plan to bypass the issue entirely. See, we chose this spot specifically because of the Air Crystal’s location herein. It’s what keeps the fleet afloat, after all. But what if we just had one large, mobile… Fortress? People could live and work there, and keep an eye out for border problems. We’d still need shipments to keep it supplied, but it seemed a lot less costly in the long run. *laughs faintly to themselves* Whole thing came together beautifully. ‘Bout 6 years ago it first set sail, and was great at its job. Added to the mystique a bit too. And then this… *frowns* Thing. This multi-headed dragon just comes out of no where, clamps onto the crystal, and starts bleeding it dry. This was around five years ago.

Sir Revairus Williams

That’s when… hrm.

Thaumaturge

What?

Sir Revairus Williams

Forgive me. That’s right about when the Elven Human War began.

Thaumaturge

Well, coincidences and all that. Either way, damned thing was ripping energy out of the leyline before it could even reach the Fortress, had to beach it. And none of us were successful in detaching the thing. It just seemed to feed on any magical energy flung at it. We, ah, spent a little while in debate on how to properly deal with it.

High Sage Envelress Caroline

A little while…?

Thaumaturge

We don’t like to do things hastily in Lufein, madam. But yes, we… well to be blunt, we don’t have much of a regular military. A few mages against a creature strong against magic? This was part of the debate, you see. Do we get others involved? Guess that one got thrown out the window. Anyway! Not too awful long ago, about 10 weeks now I’d say at a guess, the creature just… flies off without a word or warning. We were scrambling to get back into the Fortress, assess the damage, fix and repair, see what could be done, when… it came back. Lot meaner this time. Killed a fair number of us and grappled right back onto the Fortress. Thing is, we’d turned the thing back on, and for the past 10 weeks it hasn’t been draining the leyline… it’s been putting something back into it.

High Sage Envelress Caroline

Any ideas what?

Thaumaturge

We’ve some theories. It seems to be a strangely attuned form of concentrated emotional energy, reconfigured as elemental energy. And the… disharmony between the fake elemental energy and the real elemental energy is causing all these problems.

Sage Jackson

Well that explains a lot. *pause* Do you know where the Fortress is now?

Princess Sarah Cornelia

And more importantly, do we have your permission to board her?

Thaumaturge

*sighs* I’m afraid formal permission will take a much longer, more substantial debate amongst the Forum. We’ll be quite distracted for some time I’m afraid.

Princess Sarah Cornelia

…right. Revairus, Envelress. *bows* Thaumaturge.

Thaumaturge

Madam.

High Sage Envelress Caroline

Why are we in such a hurry all of the sudden?

Princess Sarah Cornelia

Because it’d behoove us to accept entry whilst the door is kept ajar.

28: The City of the Lufein

The Tiamat

I was glorious then. I shall be glorious again. No longer shackled to lesser and lower, dragged through the muck like a common snake. Wallowing in filth and mud. I deserve better. I am better. No ineffectual incompetence rests upon my shoulders, for every battle I strode into a victory. Every breath a raging roar of success. Crown mine by right and due. Throne beholden to proper purchase. No more whispers of indecency… All that remains is my just and righteous due.

*fading from memory*

Princess Sarah Cornelia

Revairus? *pause* Vair?

Sir Revairus Williams

*shaking head* Mm. Yes, your majesty?

Princess Sarah Cornelia

Sir Revairus Williams

*sigh* Sorry. Yes, Sarah?

Princess Sarah Cornelia

You’re troubled.

Sir Revairus Williams

Ask me later, when we’re not busy.

Princess Sarah Cornelia

Mm. Honored Thaumaturge!

Thaumaturge

I see you were successful! Such a pity, we were only in our opening statements too. *grinning* Ah, and I see you’ve new powers of Air to boot!

Princess Sarah Cornelia

Yes… a little gift from the crystal.

Thaumaturge

Cherish them, good madam. Gifts granted for good purpose. I admit, I already look forward to the debates that will ring out in the Forum over outsider cooperation in the coming months. Going to be a hell of a thing.

Princess Sarah Cornelia

Well I hope they are as invigorating as you seek… but for us, all we sought was to inform you of our success and wish you well in your endeavors before we departed.

Thaumaturge

No twisting of the arm? No attempt to coerce, or convince us to allow you to stay? You have the perfect angle of attack, madam.

Princess Sarah Cornelia

And we’ve no wish to pressure it. You’ve made it abundantly clear we are unwelcome, and so we leave, and shall never return.

Thaumaturge

Well. Interesting. Before you leave, I do have a gift of my own to grant you.

Princess Sarah Cornelia

Oh? *frowns* It’s lovely, but I’m not over-fond of pearls. Might I inquire the significance?

Thaumaturge

Ah, of course. This is a link pearl. It will allow you to stay in contact over long distances. To aid in planning your next visit.

Princess Sarah Cornelia

Of course. I understand and appreciate. *bow* Thank you, Thaumaturge.

Thaumaturge

Madam.

Princess Sarah Cornelia

Well, with that all settled, I’d say it’s time to report back in and give everyone the good news, wouldn’t you?

Sir Revairus Williams

Not… quite. If you’d forgive my indulgence on one last little matter, there’s a pit stop I’d like to make first.

29: On Board Airship En Route To Shrine Of Bahamut

Princess Sarah Cornelia

Revairus? Do you have a moment?

Sir Revairus Williams

Yeah, I was just prepping. What can I do for you, Sarah?

Princess Sarah Cornelia

You never told me. Why you became a knight.

Sir Revairus Williams

*pause, sigh*

Princess Sarah Cornelia

You don’t have to answer.

Sir Revairus Williams

No, it’s okay, just… just gimme a sec. That was a long time ago. *long pause* I’ve… seen people. Die.

Princess Sarah Cornelia

My condolences.

Sir Revairus Williams

No no I’m… gimme a second. *inhale, exhale* I’ve seen people bedridden. Sores… did you know you get sores from staying in bed too long? Unsightly, painful things. But when your legs start to give out… and you can’t piss in the morning without help from your son, and you don’t remember the names of your lifelong servants, and you just sort of… wither. Slowly… sickeningly. And you think it’s going to be some great, noble thing some beautiful final farewell… or that there will be dignity in it, but there is none. As teeth need to be replaced and the stench of feces never leaves them and they fumble on the floor for hours before someone notices them because they didn’t realize where they were… or when… or who. I… *struggling to recover self* I’m not going out like that. Neither blood nor pain is any more enjoyable… but I’d rather die with a sword in my hand then not knowing what it grips.

Princess Sarah Cornelia

Did you want to take people with you?

Sir Revairus Williams

*long pause* Yeah… I did. I… God, it sounds so stupid when I say it aloud. It didn’t matter who or why, it was all their fault. Every scrap of indignity and unpleasantness and I could just… not think about it at all. Pain proved ample anesthetic. *short, bitter laugh* I’d like to think I owe a bit of crawling out of that pit to Bikke.

Princess Sarah Cornelia

Do you know why I said no to Lord Garland? *short pause* He spoke of uniting the kingdoms, by treaty or conquest or both, no regard for how or who or what was burned in the path to his great ascension. All violence and pride and greed, and worst of all… impatience. He would have caused ruin on grand scale. And I have no interest in such short-sighted foolishness.

Sir Revairus Williams

Ask me about three months ago I might’ve agreed with him.

Princess Sarah Cornelia

And now?

Sir Revairus Williams

And now… I have no idea what I’m doing.

Princess Sarah Cornelia

We need stability, Vair.

Sir Revairus Williams

I figured we were doing alright for ourselves.

Princess Sarah Cornelia

*grinning* I mean we as a people. Even before the war, the five powers scarce coordinated or cooperated. With proper economic ties and mutually beneficial treaties, war would be… well. More difficult, at least. Instead one incompetent with foolish aspirations was able to plunge us into a conflict which left us completely unprepared. First for the plague, and now for this… this… whatever this has been.

Sir Revairus Williams

It’s had its up sides.

Princess Sarah Cornelia

I’m not arguing. But I would like to think we didn’t need this… shock to the system to make things better.

Sir Revairus Williams

…never know. Maybe we really are that stupid.

Princess Sarah Cornelia

*slight laugh* Honesty can do wonders, Vairus.

Sir Revairus Williams

Yeah I’m still working on it. C’mon, we’ve got a few hours before we get to the shrine. Want to watch the horizon pass with me?

Princess Sarah Cornelia

I’d love to.

30: Shrine Of Bahamut

Fish Merchant

FREEESH FISH! You catch ‘em, we buy ‘em!

Cloth Merchant

Clothing of silken strand! Beautiful and comfortable!

Tetra Merchant

New sale, booster packs half off!

Pot Merchant

Pots and pans, for all your late night needs!

Jewelry Merchant

Baubles and beads! Newly imported from Onrac!

Spice Merchant

Fresh root bags, pick a bag and take it home, only 14 gil!

Cheese Merchant

Be the big cheese on your block with a wheel of the good stuff!

FRONT GATE GUARD & LARRY

LARRY IMPROV HERE Hey… hey is that that kid from earlier? No, stop, don’t look! Look without lookin!

Sir Revairus Williams

Y’know it doesn’t feel like it’s been all that long. Barely changed, too.

Princess Sarah Cornelia

That’s a good sign. The wheels of commerce still turning means no collapse of civilization.

Lord General Astos

Forgive me, ser Williams. Did this be thy locale?

Sir Revairus Williams

Yes, right in there. I see his corpse isn’t even here, no surprise.

Bikke

I asked after that whilst we were settin’ up, no werd of anyone dealin’ with it.

High Sage Envelress Caroline

How is that possible? Corpses don’t move themselves.

Bikke

Aye, but a corpse in tha Shrine would be big news any route ya take. No word at all? That thing jez up and vanished, or it walked roight out.

Sir Revairus Williams

He wasn’t walking after what we did to him. He was a dead man. He lay right… there, I believe?

Princess Sarah Cornelia

Yes, that’s right.

High Sage Envelress Caroline

I will begin attempting to commune with any death in the area.

Lord Bahamut

That will not… be necessary.

*startled gasp from all party members*

Sir Revairus Williams

I knew you talked!

Princess Sarah Cornelia

Bahamut talked to you?

Sir Revairus Williams

Just briefly, the last time I was here!

Bikke

Shh!

Lord Bahamut

Friends… it has been a long time. I am ready at last to begin the task we agreed upon. Are the crystals cleansed?

Princess Sarah Cornelia

I… yes Lord Bahamut, but… I’m afraid I don’t understand. We’ve not met prior to this day.

Lord Bahamut

No, we met a long while prior to this day, fair princess. Now, remember, upon thy arrival, thou shalt only be there in spirit… to manifest physically, thou must needs convince mine self of the point and purpose of thine journey, and upon my agreement, then and only then shalt thou be capable of doing what must be done.

Princess Sarah Cornelia

Wait, what is he… what is this energy?!

Sage Jackson

This is… a tremendous amount of elemental energy! He’s drawing from the Leylines directly!

High Sage Envelress Caroline

How?!

Bikke

Who cares!!

Princess Sarah Cornelia

Can’t see!

*flash*

31: Elemental Shrine, 200 Years Ago

*silence*

Lord Bahamut

Forgive me… who art thou…?

Princess Sarah Cornelia

Oof.. .ugh… L.. Lord Bahamut?

Lord Bahamut

Thou knowest mine appalation?

Princess Sarah Cornelia

We… … …where are we?

Sir Revairus Williams

It’s so quiet…

Lord Bahamut

Aye. I sojourn to this shrine oft, to meditate and gather mine energies. The four local leylines flow naturally into this spot… no doubt why t’was constructed in times past.

Bikke

…. … …m’ladies, m’lords. Fergive me. Lord Bahamut, you ah… we seem to be in a bit o’ dire straights.

Lord Bahamut

Aye, that I can espy. Thou hast the barest bits of physicality. Art thou ghosts?

High Sage Envelress Caroline

No, I would be able to tell if we were dead.

Bikke

Nay, nay, a moment lass. Monsieur, it would be of greatest benefit if’n you could regale us the date. Just a swift confirmation, y’see.

Sir Revairus Williams

The date?

Bikke

Vair, look ‘round. Untouched ruins, no market, younger dragon king. Where do you think we be?

Sir Revairus Williams

…no.

Lord Bahamut

The… forgive me. By the isles calendar this would be the year 813.

Bikke

…aye… aye.

Lord General Astos

If I may. Lord Bahamut? We approach thy… thy auspices, some 200 years hence.

Lord Bahamut

Oh?

Princess Sarah Cornelia

Yes. You seemed to know why we would need to be here, and I’m beginning to fear that I’m fairly certain as well.

Sage Jackson

You see, there is a… fellow we were chasing word of. Though he vanished, as if into thin air, no word nor proof he was ever there. And this man is… dangerous.

High Sage Envelress Caroline

If our suspicions are correct, this man has been sending elemental constructs into the future to disrupt and destabilize the elemental crystals. We have spent much of the past three months attempting to undo this damage.

Lord General Astos

Verily, though suspect we did not of his presence in past’s weave, with hindsight this explains neatly his successes and many of the failings we have endured these harsh many weeks.

Princess Sarah Cornelia

Our people are entering into an era of prosperity and mutual cooperation. We cannot have one’s blood-drunk eyes casting their gaze upon our future.

Bikke

Aye, that be the lot of it. We need ye now, to complete the connection methinks. No doubts yer elder self sent us here to ye that the loop be complete, an’ we can go find our quarry.

Lord Bahamut

And upon thy finding, what shalt thou doest?

Sir Revairus Williams

We’re going to beat the crap out of him.

Lord Bahamut

Ha… hahaha… Far be it from me to disagree with myself. Very well, I shall complete enchantment’s circle. A moment.

*fwoosh*

There… though it cannot last forever, and as such I would implore thee haste in thy task.

Sir Revairus Williams

I wouldn’t worry about it. We’re not in a mood to dawdle anyways. C’mon, team. Let’s wrap this up and go home.

32: Deep Within Elemental Shrine, 200 Years Ago

Garland

Now that’s a sound I did not think I would hear ever again. Footsteps of fools, come to try and remove what is mine by right. Look at me, Williams. LOOK AT ME. I am so much… more. And out there? Out there, in these stupid isles’ past is a bunch of newly formed, poorly defended kingdoms, ripe for plucking. And with just a few branches pruned I will be able to stand where I always ought have. And from there, who knows? I have always wanted to visit the mainland.

Sir Revairus Williams

You know. I think what pisses me off most is how little you’ve grown. Even when I was a fresh lieutenant you were still the same chest thumping jackass you are now. I had a whole speech prepared, you know? But it wasn’t for you, it was for me. And frankly, I don’t need it anymore. I got my somethin’. And you, former Lord Commander… got nothin’.

*frwoosh*

Garland

AAAGGHHH… arrgghhh…. *gasp… pant*… I… never wanted… this…

Sir Revairus Williams

No, Lord Commander. You did.

*Garland fades on the wind*

Sir Revairus Williams

Welp, that’s done. Step two; find those elemental fiend thingers?

Lord General Astos

About this, a thought had I; Why didst they await so long before ensnaring crystals and beginning villain’s plot?

Bikke

I believe it not be werkin’ that way.

Sage Jackson

How so?

Bikke

Ah, a bull like that? Could only do what ‘e already dids. ‘Ow else do you think he even knew what tha crystals were, ne’ermind where or how to werk wif ‘em? It’s cuz ‘is fiends already did it, and they imparted knowledge upon ‘im.

Sage Jackson

Then… we can’t stop it?

Bikke

No, lad. Don’t think we can. Even if’n we knew where to look, or how, who knows what consequence might be?

Princess Sarah Cornelia

Besides, I believe we are still running the clock, are we not?

High Sage Envelress Caroline

Very true. I have no desire to remain in the past as a… a not dead spirit.

Lord General Astos

Well said. Let us return to the young Lord, and impress upon him our success.

33: Shrine Of Bahamut, Present

Lord Bahamut

Ahh, welcome back.

Princess Sarah Cornelia

It’s good to see you, ah, again Lord Bahamut.

Lord Bahamut

Indeed. Though our roads be different, our paths be true. Mine waiting ended, and long it winded, onwards I think I shall go. Over these isles mine eye hath rested over much, and I feel of comfort thy success in future’s chances.

Princess Sarah Cornelia

Well said, m’lord. And we thank you most heartily for your aid most crucial in endeavors.

Sir Revairus Williams

If you don’t mind, where will you be heading?

Lord Bahamut

Oh, my mind drifts southward. Some fellows rest in mountain’s bosom, and I aspire to crystal architecture once more.

Princess Sarah Cornelia

Of course. We wish you well on your journey, but please… do remember to come visit now and again. If it pleases you.

Lord Bahamut

Oh, I think it shall. Good dawn, mine fellows.


LINK HERE EVENTUALLY

 
Final Fantasy II ReWrite Transcript +

1: Outskirts of Fynn

Leon is getting ready for some sort of test. His Tutor Maria is helping him. He’s a big fish in a small pond about to jump into the ocean. “Lord Borghen” is implied to take shortcuts with his magic. Probably evil shortcuts.

Leon

I don’t see why this is necessary. I’m already the best mage in the city.

Maria

Well congratulations! You barely qualify for basic entry exams!

Leon

You exaggerate.

Maria

Less than you would think. Mysidians tend to be picky. Now, assume posture. I will need you to repeat the movements.

Leon

For how long?

Maria

Until I can see you properly in the currents.

Leon

Yes, master. *pause* I’m sorry, master. I do appreciate your tutelage, I just… I’ve already been at this for so long.

Maria

There are no shortcuts, Leon.

Leon

That’s not what Lord Borghen says.

Maria

Lord Borghen would not know a spell from a waste receptacle. Trust me, time and experience are the greater teachers.

Leon

I know, master.

2: Fynn Firing Range

Firion

No no, it needs to be vertical. The feather needs to be pointing upwards.

Fynn Soldier

Like this, sir Firion?

Firion

*quickly* Please don’t call me that. Yes, like that. Now pull back, but don’t let go… of the… string.

Fynn Soldier

Sorry, sir Firion.

Firion

What did I just say?

Fynn Soldier

I’m trying, sir. I am. Just a bit more used to a mace or a sword.

Firion

It’s alright, it takes some getting used to. Here, watch me, alright? And… *frowns* Do you hear something?

3: Fynn Lumber Camp

Guy

Look, I don’t see what you’re so worked up about.

Fynn Lumberjack

Shh! Listen.

Guy

I don’t hear nothin’.

Fynn Lumberjack

Exactly. C’mere, I thought I saw some smoke over in the… distance?

Guy

What… what am I lookin’ at…

Fynn Lumberjack

I…’m not sure..? They look like Eidolons… but somethin’s wrong with ‘em. Why are they moving towards the city..? *pause* I’m going to try to slip around them, warn the city proper. You stay here.

Guy

O..okay..

4: Fynn Under Assault

Get the women and children out, hurry!

Make for Altair!

We surrender! For god’s sakes we surrender! What are you doing?!

Mommy! Mommy where are you?!

Why are Borghen’s gates open?!

5: Altair Refugee Camp

Maria

Excuse me… excuse me!

Wild Rose Captain

Ma’am, please.

Maria

I am not requesting over much, I am simply trying to find someone who is in charge!

Wild Rose Captain

Ma’am! Right now we’re just trying to get people food and blankets. If you want to help, then help us distribute, otherwise I’m a bit busy!

Maria

I… grrgh. Very well. *pause* Guy?

Guy

…yes… uhm, yes Maria..?

Maria

Have you found anyone yet? *pause* Have you… moved at all yet?

Guy

…What? Sorry, uhm… no.

Maria

Guy. Guy! We need to find people. The Lords, the Prince, Firion… my parents… now wake up! *slap*

Guy

Ow! Hey, what’s that for?

Maria

Get up get UP. Sitting here moping is not helping ANYbody. Now you are taller than I, get your eyes on this crowd!

Guy

I’m up, I’m up! Who am I looking for…?

Maria

Anybody! Everybody!

Guy

…I see… I see Firion…

Maria

Firion! Oh thank goodness. Where is he? Nevermind, I see him. Guy. Guy! Listen to me. You are listening, right?

Guy

Uh huh…

Maria

I understand you are just barely holding on right now. You have been through a terrible thing. But listen to me. We have need of you, all of us. And we have need of you now. Do you understand? *pause as he nods* Good. Firion. Firion!

Firion

Maria? Guy!! *glomps him* Oh, oh thank God you’re both alright, I haven’t been able to find Leon or Mittens or Old Jeffery or Jacob or anybody!

Maria

Firion… Firion! We are here. We will figure out the rest later, right now we need to get involved.

Firion

What, like volunteer for head counting? Or in the soup kitchen?

Maria

No… I had another idea in mind.

6: Semitt Falls Cavern Network

Firion

So… Do you think this is safe?

Maria

I absolutely do not. But right now we do not have the luxury of waiting around. If Palamecia is willing to run roughshod over an entire city like that, then we have more immediate problems than a few cave bats.

Guy

I… I can keep you safe Firion.

Firion

Oh I know you can big guy, that’s not my point. What are we even doing here?

Maria

Semitt Falls is one of the safest routes up the eastern shore. And you can bet the Palamecians are covering the roads, I should have seen it coming… no wonder my damned parcel never got here. *sigh* If we can secure this passageway, rebel troops will have a pipeline to Paloom, Poft, Bafsk… maybe even Kashuan.

Firion

Oh, that makes sense. You uh… okay there, Guy?

Guy

I… yeah! Yeah, I’m fine. Just… yeah.
I can just see Guy staring at nothing while the trauma replays in his head
Firion

…right. How much farther?

Maria

This will be a bit of a venture, Firion. We should probably conserve our energy for the trip.

Guy

I like that idea.

Firion

…alright.

7: Outskirts Near Fynn

Borghen

Heh… so, this is the new teachable who thinks he can protect his malfeasance into our ranks? What is your tenament, sir?

Leon

Leon.

Borghen

Ah, good name, manly name. I like it! We’ll make this crumpled. Bring up the prisoner!

Fynn Lumberjack

Ow! Let go of me you swineherder! *shoved hard to the ground* Oorphf… what… where am I?! Lord Borghen? Wait… I recognize you..

Leon

Hello! I don’t think we’ve met.

Fynn Lumberjack

You… you were Maria’s new apprentice, right?

Leon

Ah, yes. Haven’t seen her lately though. *looks at Borghen* So what’s this about?

Borghen

Nothing besmirched. You just need to prove your loyalty. Now, if you hesitate or show compression, fear not… I will not hold it against you that you oh my GOD! You…

Fynn Lumberjack

*death gurgle*

Leon

They’re dead. What’s the next step?

Borghen
Leon taking to those evil shortcuts easier than he thought. You know you’ve gone all the way to Z when the bad guy is horrified by how quickly you turned.
Uh… ah… well. Heh, uhm. I guess welcome to the crew, kid. C’mon. We have a detente with a mine.

8: Altair Headquarters

Minwu

Good job.

Maria

Not even a reprimand?

Minwu

Miss Bamberg, what you did was foolish and stupid. But it succeeded and we’re hardly in a position to be picky.

Maria

Right. Next assignment?

Minwu

As it happens I need two things done in very short order. If we could split our attention that would be ideal… Ah, Hilda, good to see you.

Firion

Oh, the princess is… uhm…

Princess Hilda

An Eidolon, yes. *pause* Is there a problem?

Firion

N…no, ma’am, I, uhm…

Guy

Eidolons just torched Fynn.

Princess Hilda

…yes, I’m… aware of what the princeling is doing with my kind… though not how. Or, honestly, why.

Firion

Beg pardon?

Maria

Fynn had yet to join the Wild Rose. They were a neutral target.

Princess Hilda

Exactly. Mateus’ moves make no sense.

Firion

Freak murdered how many people already? That we know of? No sense in that one.

Princess Hilda

Fair enough. With your permission, I would like the three of you to head north to Salamand. I have a friend in the area I’ve not heard from in some time and I fear for his family.

Minwu

And secure the Mythril lines while you’re up there. We need mythril arms and armament.

Maria

But… how could we even take advantage of it? Salamand is a week’s journey even by caravan.

Minwu

Ah, well. Are you familiar with the tradeship Endeavor?

Maria

Of course, it makes port over in Bafsk and… ah. The airmaster Cid should be easy to convince.

Minwu

That’s the hope… My worry is the enemy knows this too, and so I fear they’ve already tried to remove him from our reach. Hence the need for urgency.

Maria

I propose a compromise. Let us journey with you to Bafsk first. By airship the trip will hardly take any time at all, and we can then move as a unified front towards Salamand.

Minwu

Hm. I like it. Grab your things, we leave in an hour.

Firion

Of course!

9: En Route To Bafsk

Guy

Maria…?

Maria

Yes, Guy?

Guy

…why are we doing this?

Maria

Odd time to ask.

Guy

I’m just… everybody’s in such a rush to lunge back into… into the monsters and I… we can’t… *starts breathing heavily*

Maria

Guy… *pause, gentler* Guy….. I know we… you have been through a lot these past few days, but I need you to stay with me here. Firion needs you. I need you. The Wild Rose needs you.

Guy

I-I… I’m just a big dumb guy and an out of work lumberjack, I got nothing special to offer such an esteemed group.

Maria

*smirking* Firion certainly doesn’t seem to think so.

Guy

That’s different! He… he’s great, and it’s been great, but… I… I’m not great.

Maria

*sigh* I’m not going to lie to you, this affair shall not be pretty. And nor shall it improve soon. Lord Borghen is no doubt already moving against us, and the young prince has likely had machinations in place for some time. This is precisely why our haste is so needed; to ensure victory before worse incurs. *darker* And to ensure the guilty punished.

Guy

You can’t mean those Eidolons… right?

Maria

I… I do not know what possessed them to attack us with such abandon. But I am quite aware of who opened the southern gates. I am going to find the good Lord *spits*, and I am going to put him on trial and have him beheaded for treason.

Guy

Yeah I… I get that, I do. I just… we… I think about those people, screaming like monsters, and I see the blood and the noise and I can’t focus on anything anymore!

Maria

Speaking about it openly is a good first step. Normalize it, let yourself process it. And then focus your thoughts on now. On him. Let him be a guidestone for your troubles.

Guy

I’ll… I’ll try.

Maria

All we can do.

10: Bafsk

Guy

Where is everybody? Did… are they all more casualties?

Firion

No… there’s plenty of tracks..

Maria

Where?

Firion

All over, recent. But a lot of foot traffic heading out of town too, southeast.

Minwu

Towards Kashuan?

Firion

Unsure. Been checking the town, plenty of signs folk were here recently. And there’s… strangeness here and abouts.

Maria

Like what, show me.

Firion

Here, over here.

Maria

*pause to walk over* Magical residue…

Minwu

Powerful stuff, too. That’s… worrisome. Let me make this very clear; We are in no way ready to confront the prince, understood? If you see him, you run and don’t stop until you are safe. That’s a direct order.

Maria

Yes, sir.

Guy

O..okay…

Firion

Alright.

Minwu

Good. Firion, could you help us follow these tracks for a bit?

11: Airship Drydock Near Bafsk

Minwu

…the heck are they doing?

Maria

Working. As slave labor.

Minwu

Yeah but, working on what. That’s clearly Cid’s airship, but…

Guy

That’s a culverin.

Maria

Beg pardon?

Guy

It’s… it’s a cannon. That’s… they’re making a cannon on the deck of the ship. Big one too, gotta be a 48 pounder, no way that thing’s practical, how are they even gonna load it?

Firion

Probably from the Eidolons they got on board, you seeing that?

Maria

Yes. Probably being used to keep the slaves in check. Sickening. *frowns* What are they doing?

Minwu

Loading. If we want to sneak on board, now’s the time.

Maria

Agreed.

12: Infiltrating The Airship Endeavor

Firion

Where are all the guards?

Maria

I have a better question, why is the ship taking off?

Minwu

Too late to do anything about it now. Come on, let us not waste the opportunity. We need to make sure we… did you hear that?

Guy

That’s the cannon! What are they firing at?

Maria

To the deck!

*rushing to the deck*

Minwu

Gottos! What are you doing!?

Gottos

Rats! Rats on my ship!

Airmaster Cid

YOUR ship?

Gottos

Such a fine vessel only befits my lord’s dominion! Fire again, damn you!

Maria

No, listen to us! You don’t have to do this!

Amelia

If… I’m sorry! They threatened my boy! I can’t…

Minwu

*audible growl* You have no right to call yourself a Palamecian! You’re not even a human being!

Gottos

*screams of pain* You… you treacherous filth. Get off my ship!

Firion

He’s surrounded by Eidolons!

Minwu

No hesitation!!

Gottos

G–gah… my… I was… I was loyal… papa… I was… loyal……

Minwu

Get those people out of those chains!

Firion

What about the Eidolons?

Minwu

They… I don’t know! I don’t know.

Guy

They’re hurting…

Minwu

I know that!

Firion

No, listen. They’re… they need healing, Minwu.

Minwu

I… … …right. Right. I can do that. *breathing, calming self* Maria, can you get those people free?

Maria

Already done. How are the Eidolons?

Minwu

They’re… not great. I think Gottos was, ahm… *takes a moment* I think he was using their life essence for the ship.

Airmaster Cid

*outraged* What?!

Firion

Is that even possible?

Minwu

Theoretically, yes. Even a human could be used like that if need be, though you wouldn’t get much out of it of course…

Guy

Uh, guys…guy calling people guys lol

Maria

Horrible. So horrible… and so unnecessary! Why not just use levistones or mages or…

Firion

Mysidia’s probably put them in embargo…

Guy

Guys…

Maria

Could still just use one of their loyalists. Borghen’s a mage. Or even let the princeling do it himself! Not like he lacks magic to spare…

Guy

Guys!

Firion

What, what is it?

Guy

I think I see what they were targeting with the cannons.

13: Palamecia

Thairee

Emperor. *pause, then a grimace of pain*

Emperor Mateus

You may speak.

Thairee

Forgive me, Emperor. We have the report from Bafsk. The Endeavor was successful, but stopped after only one attack. Nevertheless, the port of Poft is ruined. Only vessels that were out to sea survived unscathed.

Emperor Mateus

The timing?

Thairee

Perfect. Most of them were either in the process of being unloaded, or burst to full with supplies and foodstuffs.

Emperor Mateus

Excellent. Why only one port?

Thairee

Details unclear. The court magelord was seen in the area, it is presumed the Wild Rose had something to do with the situation.

Emperor Mateus

A bit slower than expected, but still good. What of the recovering Eidolons?

Thairee

Studies inconclusive, howev–*cuts self off*

Emperor Mateus

You have permission. Speak your thoughts.

Thairee

…it is my suspicion that time and general care will allow them to naturally regain the portions of their essence they have lost.

Emperor Mateus

Hm. Very well. Begin setting up the necessary preparations.

Thairee

Emperor.

14: Poft

Minwu

I think that covers most of the basics.

Firion

You ah… sure you’re okay with this?

Captain Leila

Look. Just because I ply my trade a mite less legally than most don’t mean I’m okay with some whackjob knocking over half the ships in the Virnoque. Y’know what they was carrying, right?

Firion

We’re… we’re well aware. This was below the belt. Near as we can tell the plan was to hit every port on the southern coast. We honestly got a bit lucky… oooh, starve them out. Needlessly harsh

Minwu

Well we can’t rely on that anymore. Leila, thank you very kindly for your assist, will you be available in a few days time?

Captain Leila

I’m available now, if you really need me.

Minwu

I’m afraid securing the mythril line is just too important, and we’ve been sitting on it for too long. And while the airship is still… is still fueled we’re going to take advantage of the situation.

Captain Leila

O’course. We’ll be moored ‘til we spot you and yours on the horizon.

Firion

Yeah, we’ll need a rowboat with the state the docks are in…

Minwu

Come on. Let’s get going.

15: The Endeavor, En Route To Salamand

Firion

Why are we doing this?

Minwu

Mythril’s rare enough in this region that there’s only one reliable source of it. Traditionally Salamand trades with everyone to avoid getting entangled in local disputes but the princeling apparently doesn’t care for established norms.

Firion

I meant… why are we using the … I mean there’s the ship and its… its…

Minwu

Fuel?

Firion

Mmhm.

Minwu

*sigh* …We’re on the clock now, Firion. Right now we have a… a fueled and functional airship and we need to take advantage of that. Once the mythril line is secure Cid and I will be taking the Endeavor to Mysidia to get these Eidolons some help.

Firion

No see I get that. I get that things are bad and I get we need to take every edge we can scrape but I just… I don’t really feel good about this.

Minwu

You don’t really feel comfortable using tainted resources? *pause* Good… The last thing we need to do is get used to this sort of thing.

Firion

But you’re… I mean we’re still doing it.

Minwu

I’m aware.

Firion

But… …but I don’t understand..

Minwu

Firion. You can worry about your conscience, and that’s a good thing. The whole goal of all of this is to get back to a state where we don’t have to make terrible decisions to see tomorrow. But I don’t have that luxury. I have to think about a lot more than myself or how I feel about something. I have to… I have to do something. Or a whole lot of people are going to end up like our passengers. Or worse.

Firion

No I… I know… I get it. That why you secured the Half Moon?

Minwu

Mm. After this mission I’m not going to be with you, so you’re going to need to garner whatever support you can locally.

Firion

I wouldn’t worry. Maria’s pretty good at that sort of thing.

Minwu

So I’ve gathered. Was there anything else?

Firion

I… …no, magelord.

Minwu

Good. Then please get some rest, you’re going to have a lot to do.
I like this conversation. Can’t quite put my finger on why. Consoling perhaps? But melancholy in that they need to do things they wouldn’t otherwise or more people will die or worse.

16: Salamand

Guy

Well, just us now.

Firion

Maria’s with us too.

Guy

I know, I… we just… ah… uhm…

Firion

Guy, what’s up? Talk to me.

Guy

That’s what I’m trying to do. It’s… I’m still having trouble sleeping.

Firion

I, uh, know.

Guy

No I… argh!

Firion

Guy… Guy. Just level with me. It’s me. I’m here. I know it’s not much, but I’m here.

Guy

No, it’s everything! You have no idea what it means to me to have you here… In general, I mean, not just right now.

Firion

I knew what you meant. Aight, I’ll talk then. Sound good? Good. So… youuuu’re still upset about Fynn? Okay… you’re angry at what the Palamecians are doing to the Eidolons? Are you… worried that they took the … took the Fynn people away for stuff like they did in Bafsk?

Guy

*various nonvocal nodding mmhms and one negative mmhm*

Firion

Okay okay, I think if you give me a few more minutes I can puzzle this one out.

Guy

I’m so sorry!!

Firion

Wait, what? Sorry about what?

Guy

I… I left you.

Firion

You what? Guy you’re right here. You’ve been right here for the past week.

Guy

No I… I was outside Fynn when the attack hit. I took that part time job as a lumberjack, remember? And I was outside the city and I could see the monsters coming and I knew you were in the city and I could…’nt… I couldn’t do it… I left you there I left you there I left you there to die and I am the worst scum of the earth and I wish I was dead

Firion

Guy… Guy!! GUY. It’s okay, shhh it’s okay.

Guy

It is NOT okay

Firion

Guy Lotherus Sitriscon! Stop and listen to me! You were scared. You were terrified. And I know being near that attack had to have dug up some terrible memories. We talked about this. Shhh, shhh, it’s okay it’s okay, I promise. You aren’t a bad person. You’re just you. You’re just human, and that’s okay. I never asked you to be something amazing or special or fantastic. All I ever wanted was for you to be you. And… I know this isn’t going to just go away, I know you. But… every night, talk to me about it, okay? Talk it out with me. Doesn’t matter what about, just get it out there, get it flowing. And I’ll be here for you to listen and to hold you, okay?

Guy

I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry…

Guy

…o..okay… I’m so sorry, I didn’t mean to I…

Firion

Shhh c’mere big guy, it’s alright. I got ya… I got ya.

Maria

Uhm…

Firion

Hey Maria. What’s up?

Maria

I can come back later if you need me to.

Firion

No, you can’t, I can tell by your expression. What’s going on?

Maria

Nothing good.

17: Mythril Mines Near Salamand

Guy

That’s despicable!

Josef

You’ll hear no argument from me.

Guy

Are you sure it’s safe to travel with us? We could try this without you…

Josef

If we hurry we’ll get there before Borghen finds out. Best way to hurry is if’n I’m showin’ you the way.

Firion

Right. We got a plan?

Maria

We do. We are going to free, arm, and lead the miners in a revolt against their Palamecian taskmasters. Then we are going to find Borghen, kill him, and free Nelly.

Firion

Think they’ll follow us?

Maria

I do. We offer them what they want, both in the short and long terms.

Firion

From teacher to rebel leader, eh?

Maria

Whatever is required of us.

Firion

Ah, sorry, didn’t mean to step on any toes.

Maria

No, that is not what… *sigh* I apologize, sir Firion. I have witnessed things I had not even conceived of these past few weeks. I am finding it difficult to properly cope.

Firion

Please don’t call me sir.

Firion

I understand… really. We all gotta deal in our own ways.

Maria

Speaking of. How is Guy?

Firion

He’s… …well. It’s a process, y’know? Not really a finish-line kinda thing.

Maria

I do know. Fear not. I have a good feeling about this. Honestly.

18: Further In The Mythril Mines Near Salamand

Maria

Leon?

Leon

Ah, Maria! It’s good to see you survived! What are you doing here?

Maria

We… we are rescuing the miners.

Leon

It looks to me you’re recruiting the miners.

Maria

We offer them the chance at freedom.

Leon

And a bit of revenge! Not too shabby. *pause* Why are you looking at me like that, Maria?

Maria

…Leon. What are you doing here?

Leon

At the moment, overseeing the miners, waiting on my next lesson. Why?

Maria

And who is your new tutor?

Leon

Lord Borghen… you remember him, right? Anyways, Lord Borghen’s not the best teacher, but he’s been showing me this brand new technique and let me tell you, this sucker works great.

Maria

Your currents bespeak of that imbecile’s crude capacity. What does he have you dabbling in?

Leon

Nothin’ special. Hey listen, I gotta jet, so lemme help ya out a bit! *tosses key* That might speed things up a skosh. See ya around.

Guy

…why didn’t we just attack him?

Maria

He used to be my apprentice!

Firion

Maria.

Maria

*exhales* It felt dangerous. We are not here to settle old grudges, and we cannot waste time being bogged down. We are here on purpose.

Josef

‘Preciate that and all but can we get movin’ please? I wanna give a couple of hellos to ol’ Borghey.

Maria

Yes. So would I.

19: Palamecia

Emperor Mateus

You may speak.

Thairee

We have lost the mythril mines. Borghen fled the scene, reportedly he is retreating to his holdings in Fynn.

Emperor Mateus

A pity, I was hoping he would have died by now. Hm. What word of the Magelord?

Thairee

*hesitates, cringing* None that I could divine, Emperor.

Emperor Mateus

Expected. He has likely absconded to Mysidia. No matter, with Ramuh dead and half their number enslaved they will be slow to decide and even slower to actually do anything. Doddering idiots. Do you know why they disgust me so, Thairee?

Thairee

I do not, Emperor.

Emperor Mateus

They have knowledge and wisdom, training and power, and they sit in ivory towers and count the stars, debating riddles and quandaries. And they do… nothing. The fact that I, a lowly scribe in exile was able to pull and pierce as much as I did from them speaks even more to their incompetence. I spit upon them. *spits* They’re worse than my father was. *long pause* Any word from Deist?

Thairee

Only the expected.

Emperor Mateus

Excellent. How are the Eidolons recovering?

Thairee

Very well, Emperor. Some have regained basic speech and motor functions. They should be fully rested and recovered inside of the month. Outside expectations are 15 days.

Emperor Mateus

That will suffice. Instruct the unbroken to the central courtyard and prepare the transports for Kashuan. I will be down shortly.

Thairee

Emperor.

20: En Route To Poft

Firion

So…

Maria

What, Firion.

Firion

Listen. If you want to talk, I’m here, that’s all I’m saying.

Maria

Aren’t you a bit busy consoling your boyfriend?

Firion

That’s… wow, Maria.

Maria

Argh… *rubs face* I apologize. That was uncalled for.

Firion

I get that you’re on edge, but if it’s bugging you that much maybe you should’ve taken Minwu up on his offer?

Maria

No! Absolutely not. My place is here, on the front lines, actually doing something.

Firion

Aren’t you the one who always tells us that the quartermasters and bureaucrats are just as important as the soldiers on the front?

Maria

That is absolutely true.

Firion

Then… what’s the problem here, exactly?

Maria

I… *breath* I would not wish to return to Fynn for paperwork.

Firion

This is about Borghen.

Maria

I am concluded with this conversation.

Firion

You can’t just lock me out like that! I’m trying to help you here

Maria

Firion, I appreciate your assistance, but right now the last thing I want to do is to think about any of this.

Firion

So… ah. Okay, no that… okay. *pause* If you do feel like talking, I’m right here you know.

Maria

You are right here, yes, I am aware. Thank you.

Firion

*sighs* Any time.

21: On Board The Half Moon

Captain Leila

Ah, was startin’ to wonder if we was waitin’ fer nothin’!

Maria

Be not afraid, we were simply a bit slower than we would like.

Captain Leila

Getcher mythril all squared away?

Maria

Yes, in fact I wanted to ask you about probable smuggling lines for mythril in the area. No, I do not care about how illegal it is right now, we are quite beyond such things.

Captain Leila

Haha, aight aight… I won’t protest much. This, uh, all yer crew?

Firion

We’re plenty.

Captain Leila

Oh I don’t doubts it, pretty sure the big guy over there could bench half me crew if he put his mind to it. I’m a mite surprised yer bringin’ the princess though.

Maria

Princess… Hilda? What are you doing here?

Princess Hilda

I have only been here about two nights now. Learning of your purpose, I had to be physically present.

Maria

But m’lady, what of affairs in Altair?

Princess Hilda

Altair is a refugee camp right now miss Maria. There’s not much to coordinate until the Mythril Line starts flowing. Speaking of which…

Maria

Yes, we were successful. Josef was already directing the first shipment when we departed.

Princess Hilda

Excellent. I confess, I was to leave Gordon in charge but he is off on separate errand to Kashuan.

Maria

Forgive me, Gordon?

Guy

Prince Gordon. Of the Princedom of Kashuan.

Princess Hilda

*ahem* Yes, Prince Gordon is on a rescue mission. If fortune favors us well, he will be returning successful about when we return in kind.

Captain Leila

So what be our headin’?

Maria

Deist. It is time to finally check up on the Eidolons.

22: Deist, Palamecian Forward Encampment

Leon

Fascinating. So Borghen was right.

Eidolon 1

W…why are you… doing this…?

Leon

Oh, it’s all just a bit of an experiment, don’t mind me. You there!

Palamecian Soldier 1

Uhm… yes, …sir?

Leon

I need you to round up a few more Eidolons. Living, preferably.

Palamecian Soldier 1

We… sir, the front lines are a blood bath! We barely held the eastern push this morning! And we keep having to throw deserters in with the captives! We are running low on everything andckltlean… m…why… sir… *gurgles, blood gushing out of neck*

Leon

Don’t worry, I’ll go get a few more myself. You stay right here.

Palamecian Soldier 1

L..g.rl..v..fm.m.dfbkllle…

Leon

Here we go, you look healthy and alive. Would you care to help me with a bit of an experiment?

Eidolon 2

*agonized screaming*

Leon

Hm… not quite. Interesting. I think I need more practice. Guess she was right after all. Ha!

Eidolon 2

*more screaming*

23: Deist, Front Lines

Princess Hilda

Ricard! Sir Ricard!

Ricard

Princess! Now there’s a sight for sore eyes. It’s been ages!

Princess Hilda

It is amenable to be home again. *smiles* And it is wonderful to see you again. I am so sorry for my absence.

Ricard

Nonsense, I understand perfectly well. But we could use some, ah… advice? Counsel?

Princess Hilda

Speak your mind, Dragon Knight.

Ricard

*gestures* The battle ground down to a quagmire almost immediately after you left. It was… confusing. The Palamecians held superior position, but seemed unwilling to take advantage.

Princess Hilda

So you grew cautious in return?

Ricard

Exactly. We attempted to divine their stratagem… and, if I might speak plainly, we never did. They seemingly ground themselves down, losing good soldiers to no avail. Our scouts report they have begun imprisoning their own soldiers, and every day they try to capture not kill. We were waiting for some ransom or bargain but none ever came and… what? What is it?

Firion

You… haven’t heard what the Palamecians have been doing with the Eidolons, have you?

Ricard

…no? One of the first things they did was cut off the harbor. If not for your efforts earlier today we’d still be out of contact from the outside world.

Princess Hilda

We’ll discuss specifics later.

Firion

Er, we will?

Princess Hilda

*glares* Yes, we will. Now. *returns attention to Ricard* We have a plan of action, but will require support.

Ricard

Speak but the word, your majesty.

Princess Hilda

*softens, smiles* It is good to work with you again Ricard. These three and myself will sally into Palamecian lines..

Ricard

Unescorted?! Absolutely not!

Princess Hilda

…and we will recruit the disenfranchised Palamecian soldiers to our cause. If it bothers you so, then join us upon yon field.

Ricard

My wyvern is still recuperating from an attempted poisoning, but they will find my spear more than capable on the ground.

Princess Hilda

Excellent. Let us away immediately.

24: Deist, Palamecian Front Lines

Leon

Hmm. So that’s how Ramuh died…

Eidolon 2

..*shaking with pain* Y..yes..s… n..ow… p…ple..a.s…e… h..e..a.l…..m ..m..e… *abrupt shocked sound as he’s stabbed*

Leon

I suppose I’ll find my answers at Mysidia then. You, soldier!

Palamecian Soldier 2

Sir? The Deist forces are inside the encampment! We don’t have time for this kind of nonsense!

Leon

Ready the ship. We’re withdrawing for now.

Palamecian Soldier 2

Withdrawing? *faintly relieved* Yes, sir… What shall I do with the prisoners?

Leon

I doubt we have time for anything but leaving them, wouldn’t you think? Come now, or the ship will leave without you too.

Palamecian Soldier 2

Y…yes sir!

25: Castle Deist

Princess Hilda

Assembled soldiery. The court has heard your case and provisions, and has deliberated with the military tribunal.

Palamecian Officer

We await our sentencing, your majesty.

Princess Hilda

*coldly* So formal. *exhales* It is the judgment of this court that these soldiers be immediately conscripted into the Wild Rose Rebellion, to serve the people they have so harmed by their actions.

Palamecian Officer

…your majesty?

Princess Hilda

Did I mis-speak?

Palamecian Officer

N…no ma’am!

Princess Hilda

Further, as the ranking representative of the Wild Rose present, it is my judgment that you immediately make sail with all due haste with Commander Maria and her troop to help in the recovery of Fynn. I trust that is sufficient?

Maria

Yes, your majesty. We will set sail without delay.

Princess Hilda

Then this court is adjourned.

*shuffle shuffle*

Firion

Well, that actually went better than expected.

Guy

I’m a bit surprised the tribunal was willing to accept our proposal.

Ricard

It… took a little convincing. There’s a lot of blood running hot right now, but I still think this is the best possible course of action. Ignoring the pragmatism of the moment… these men and women stood up to their officers and refused orders. That takes a bit of something.

Princess Hilda

Yes, well. By the time we return the first Mythril should already be processed, and hopefully Gordon has returned from Kashuan. I think we’re about ready to retake Fynn.

26: Kashuan

Emperor Mateus

Thairee?

Thairee

Emperor.

Emperor Mateus

How many of the citizenry have been resisting?

Thairee

…far too many. We have virtually no converts.

Emperor Mateus

Even upon pain and death?

Thairee

Correct.

Emperor Mateus

Fascinating. Well, no matter. They will suffice for our other purpose. *pause* You have a question? …you may speak.

Thairee

What do we do with the young prince?

Emperor Mateus

Hm. Have him brought to my room, I will attempt to re-educate him personally. Make sure the survivors are well kept and fed, along with their captors. I will need all of them.

Thairee

Emperor.

27: Altair

Captain Leila

So where are you from?

Josef

Salamand, up north.

Ricard

Ah, the Mythril mines. Overseeing a shipment?

Josef

Second one, an’ no. Heard the crew was gettin’ together fer a stomp on Fynn, few of tha boys thought they could helps. Figured I’d join in. Owe ‘em a bit or two.

Captain Leila

Aye, they’ve managed an interestin’ alliance here, ain’t they? I saw someone from Bafsk earlier, pirates from Poft, Knights of Deist, miners of Salamand, soldiers of Palamecia…

Josef

Only groups missin’ ‘r Mysidia ‘n Kashuan.

Captain Leila

Aye, aye… I hear they was expectin’ Minwu and Prince Gordon would be back by now, but it’s no matter. Once Fynn is liberated we can redirect the fight to the Emperor directly, be done with this nonsense.

Josef

Amen ta that.

28: Altair Command Room

Firion

Do you really think this will work?

Princess Hilda

Between Ricard and myself, I do believe we have a shot at success. They’re not mind controlled or twisted or warped, they’re just…

Maria

From the Eidolons we rescued near Deist, their magical essence has been directly drained, similar to the ones used to power the Endeavor. I am… uncertain if a permanent cure is available, but if we can connect with them on some level we can, at the least, pacify them.

Firion

Well I admit I’d rather prefer that over the alternatives.

Princess Hilda

As would I.

Maria

Then let us finish preparations. We will begin the march north just before dawn.

29: Altair Side Room

Guy

…hey… you asleep already?

Firion

Man I can’t sleep on a night like this. *pause* I’m worried about Maria. She’s burying everything in her work and that’s not healthy.

Guy

You sure?

Firion

What do you mean am I sure?

Guy

I mean… are you sure. Maybe that’s how she’s processing it, how she’s coping. I… I’m not really there yet, but, you know, having you here helps. Talking it out every night… has just meant the world to me. I don’t even know how to thank you. I… I don’t deserve you.

Firion

Shush with that. Even if that were true it wouldn’t matter, I love you all the same.

Guy

Mmrfm. *sighs* Do you think this is gonna work?

Firion

What, the Fynn reclamation? Yeah. Buncha Eidolons we can reach out to, couple Palamecian hardliners, and one fat traitor noble. I think we got this.

Guy

Not what I meant. You don’t really think that’s gonna be it, do you? Like… I know we all make fun of the Prince or Emperor or His Supremeness or whatever he’s calling himself now but you can’t think he’s just going to throw in the towel when we retake Fynn, right? We’ve already pushed him almost completely off the peninsula, and a man like that backed into the corner is… dangerous.

Firion

Yeh I know… smarter minds than we have already pondered all this.

Guy

I guess you’re right. Maria’s smart, princess too. Nothin’ we can come up with they haven’t.

Firion

*sigh* Listen, if somethin’ happens to me tomorrow…

Guy

Please don’t.

Firion

No, just listen to me. You gotta keep talking, every night. I don’t care if it’s to the pillow or to a pet or… or to someone else. You have to keep talking, alright Guy?

Guy

Firion, I don’t really think that’s necessary.

Firion

Promise me.

Guy

*long pause* *sigh* …alright. I promise. Just for you.

Firion

Thank you. C’mon, let’s try to at least get a nap in.

Guy

Alright.
Aww, I’m getting a little teary. Love me an established relationship.

30: Fynn Throne Room

Borghen

God dammit! Where’s my adjustable?! Where’s my guards?!? Where is everybody!! This is elucidating!!

Guy

Here, he’s in here!

Borghen

You! Of all people, you!? You’ve no right to Fynn! Go back to Mysidia where you belong, you luxurious Eidolon lover!

Maria

I swear to God if you do not shut up I am going to go find a dictionary and beat you to death with it so you can at least learn to speak properly in your last moments!

Borghen

I’ll show you… my master splayed me all kinds of tricks!

Firion

What is he doing?! Where did the Eidolon come from?!

Maria

No! Stop him!

Borghen

This… this powah…. I… eugh… blblk… elkchl….

Guy

What the hell is that?!

Firion

That’s Borghen!

Maria

What remains of him. I confess, I greatly anticipated a very public trial and an equally public execution. But this will have to do!

Borghen

*incoherent scream of death*

Maria

Die! Die and be forgotten, like the pig that you are! You filth! You lickspittle! You bottomfeeder!

Guy

Maria… Maria! He’s dead.

Maria

He is not dead enough! I want every remaining ounce of his mind to hear nothing but my voice tormenting him in his final moments! I want him to scream my name as he races through hell! I want him to rot and burn and suffer forever for the nightmare he has visited upon us!! Die! Die! DIE.

Guy

Maria!!

Firion

No let… let her have this.

Guy

She’s just beating his corpse!

Firion

There’s no loss in it. And she… she needs this. She’s needed this for a while.

Maria

*collapses to her knees, exhausted, sobbing*

Firion

Hey. …hey. We’re here. It’s okay, take your time. Just cry it all out. We’ll still be here when you’re done.

Maria

*still crying*

31: Mysidian Archives

Leon

Ahh… no shortcuts indeed. So. *closes book* They need to already be dead, or very very close to it. Explains the issues I’ve been having… but Mateus managed it on Ramuh when the old geezer was full up and kicking. Man knows his stuff, gotta hand it to him. That doesn’t leave me a lot of options though. Like it or not, Maria was right, I’m just not there yet. And a couple of missing Eidolons will definitely get me noticed before I’m ready. Hm. Guess it’s time to go for the big fish.

32: Fynn

Maria

Well.

Firion

Well.

*long pause*

Maria

*exhales* Thank you. I… I needed that.

Firion

I could tell. You’ve been holding it in for a while now.

Maria

I could not… *breathes in* I could not allow myself to feel until I had completed the loop. That … ….individual… was solely responsible for so much. My parents, my home… a pillager and a base thief, a coward and a liar. May he rot forever.

Firion

So what’s the next step?

Maria

There is… a lot to do here.

Firion

Sounds like they need a good paper pusher.

Maria

They do. But… we are not done yet. Borghen was a despicable traitor, but it is the princeling who truly rests behind all these events. We need to remove him from the throne. Possibly install Minwu instead..

Firion

Where is Minwu, anyways?

Maria

That… is a good question.

Firion

He should’ve been back way before us, Mysidia is a lot closer than Deist. And he had the Endeavor, too.

Maria

…hm.

Firion

Yeah, okay, I know that look. You sure you’re up for another mission?

Maria

No. But we do not have time. We may have already taken too long.

Firion

Fair enough. I’ll go round up the troop, can probably get them up and ready inside of the evening.

Maria

We will not be taking others with us.

Firion

Beg pardon?

Maria

I know Mysidia… trust me on this. I should probably go alone… no, no need to interrupt, I know what you think on the matter. Fear not, I am not so foolish. But we need to keep this at a minimum. This is… probably… not a hostile area we are clearing or liberating.

Firion

Wait, so you don’t think Minwu’s in trouble?

Maria

Not as such, no. I think Minwu is stuck.

33: Mysidia

Sylph

Perhaps a few minutes free of foolish questions would suffice?!

Minwu

And perhaps a modicum of intelligence from the so-called venerated elite would as well?! Pah!! *rubs eyes* Hello, Maria. I’m honestly surprised they let you in.

Maria

It… took a little convincing. My two bodyguards will hopefully not be necessary.

Minwu

Your two… ah, right, of course. Well these are dangerous times. *groans while rubbing face* How goes the war?

Maria

Well. Things are going well enough. I will give you a full report later but for now… I am to presume the discussion we just interrupted is indicative of your overall success level.

Minwu

Yeah these book tossers wouldn’t know a genuine threat if it walked up and kicked them in the ass.

Maria

…I see. Magelord, may I inquire something?

Minwu

Yes, what.

Maria

Do we really need the Mysidians on our side? We have faced nothing but success on every front thus far. Surely traditional forces can see us to victory?

Minwu

Ah… you don’t know. Well. You’re right, we probably can defeat Palamecia relatively easily, especially if your mood and temperament are indicative. But there’s two things missing in that equation. First, the mages would be damned helpful, and every person we don’t lose thanks to over-preparedness is a win in my book. And second… lean in here a sec. *whispers* The second is the magekiller spell.

Maria

The… what?

Minwu

*still whispering* There is a power we have knowledge of known as Ultima. It is not easy to cast, in fact it requires specific implementation to do so. But it absolutely devastates a mage’s ability to draw upon the current. The princeling is powerful, but one blast of that would bring him more down to our level.

Maria

Ah… so it is Mateus you worry over. May I ask why?

Minwu

You… you’ve never seen him in action, have you? *pause* He’s… good. He’s really good. I’ve seen that boy do things with magic as a teenager that elders couldn’t manage. And when he murdered Ramuh, and the King…

Guy

So, forgive me sir, but if’n this is such an advantage, why are the Mysidians so hesitant to give it to us?

Minwu

Twofold, Guy. First, they’re not all that keen on letting a mage killer spell get out of their grasp in general. And second, the last time they decided to school someone from another nation, he murdered their leader and started a war that set the whole peninsula on fire.

Maria

And probably three; Sir Minwu is, like it or not, also of Palamecia. No doubt this colors their perceptions. *considers* We will talk with them.

Firion

We will?

Maria

We will. I have confidence we can cut this conundrum and convince the mages to support us.

Firion

Well, who do we talk to then? Who’s the head cheese?

Minwu

There’s no such thing… there technically never was, but Ramuh was kind of the defacto head for a long time. Kept things coordinated and organized. With him gone…

Maria

…with him gone we will have to convince a sufficient of their number, which should be an easier task than relying upon a single point of failure. Come, we should be away immediately.

Firion

…why in such a rush?

Maria

Truthfully I do not know. Perhaps it is simply paranoia or fear, but I do not like this relative period of silence. The Mateus Loyalists have not responded to any of our operations in over a week now.

Firion

Hm… right. Welp, let’s see if we can get people talkin’.

34: Kashuan

Emperor Mateus

All preparations ready?

Thairee

Yes, Emperor.

Emperor Mateus

Very good. I permit you to retreat to Palamecia.

Thairee

…master? *quickly cut-off squeal of pain*

Emperor Mateus

Do not second guess my orders. Once I have completed my initial movements I will be returning to my capitol. I will expect you to be there, with the recovered Eidolons ready for me.

Thairee

Yes, Emperor. Of course, Emperor.

Emperor Mateus

Good. Leave now, this will take some concentration.

KASHUAN PEOPLE

*horrible, wailing screams*

35: On Board The Endeavor

Minwu

I still can’t believe you were able to convince them to help out.

Maria

It is only a matter of thinking in the right direction at the right time.

Firion

Plus we’ve had a bit of experience recruiting people lately.

Minwu

You don’t say. I look forward to the full report at some point but what I really want to know is what’s been going on with Gordon and Kashuan.

Guy

Hold… do you… see that?

Maria

See what? That cloud formation over there?

Firion

Clouds don’t move that fast..

Minwu

…or against the wind… Cid! Cid!

Airmaster Cid

What, what?!

Minwu

Pull us back a bit, we need to not get sucked into that… whatever that is.

Airmaster Cid

That’s… … …I don’t know what that is. It looks like a cyclone but I’ve never seen one move like that before…

Firion

It’s hitting Altair!

Minwu

What?!

Airmaster Cid

It just… it just landed over Altair!

Maria

NO.

Guy

Maria, no… Maria!

Maria

We have to help them!

Guy

How?! We can’t get near that in this thing, it’ll tear the ship apart!

Maria

We… what…

Firion

I see something in the storm!

Minwu

What, what is it you see?

Firion

*long pause* I… I think it’s Kashuan Castle…

Guy

WHAT?!

Minwu

Listen to me. Listen to me! It’s got to be him. He’s in there, controlling that thing, and right now we need to figure out how to stop him. Now focus!

Maria

Focus… focus… …Ricard.

Minwu

Pardon?

Maria

CID! Take us down to Fynn, NOW.

Airmaster Cid

Yes ma’am!!

36: The Cyclone

Firion

For the record, this is absolutely insane!

Ricard

We have but to do or die, sir Firion!

Firion

Aye… Aye!! Hold onto me!

Guy

I’m not letting go, Firion! We’re doing this together this time!!

Ricard

Almost there, you can do it girl… I believe in you… I believe in you.

*thud*

Maria

We… we made it.

Ricard

Why’s it so dark?

Firion

Storm’s blocking most of the sun… honest, I’m amazed there’s even a floor intact here. What… what are those?

Guy

They are… …no… NO.

Firion

Guy? Guy what’s… …oh no..

Guy

I… I knew this man. He sold fruit from the orchard on the street corner.

Firion

And that over there, that’s old Abernacky… she used to help fix hems in my boots when I needed it..

Maria

Firion. Guy. I am so sorry, but…

Firion

No… you’re right, a lot more people have died than just these. We shouldn’t get special dispensation just because they were our countrymen..

Maria

No, you have it flipped Firion. We have all suffered at the hands of this feculent child. There is no shame in feeling those cuts most deep. …but now is not the time.

Firion

Hold on… what… *pauses, shoving*

Maria

What are you doing, Firion?

Firion

There’s… there’s no wounds. These people weren’t cut or bruised, so what killed them?

Maria

*suddenly cold* Firion… I… I think they were drained.

Firion

Drained? *pauses, realization* Like… like the Eidolons? But… you can’t even do that to humans… can you?

Maria

*darkly* If anybody could, he could.

Firion

…you’re right, now is not the time. Let’s go kill this son of a bitch.

37: Center Of The Cyclone

Emperor Mateus

Now this is unexpected. So few, to try to stop me? I’m insulted. Surely you realize by the power I now command that nothing less than an army would bring me down, and an army you failed to provide! Therefore I shall have to satisfy myself on your life essences instead, I do hope they will suffice.

Firion

Now, Maria!!

Emperor Mateus

Ungaaah!! What… what did you do to me?!

Maria

The mages of Mysidia send their regards.

Emperor Mateus

You… you have hindered my access to the current! But… the Cyclone! You will die with me you fools!

Firion

Nah, we got a ride.

Emperor Mateus

You… ……uboooarr!!! *flash*

Firion

Wait, what?

Guy

He can teleport?!

Maria

No, that looked like an emergency recall…

Firion

What’s the difference?!

Maria

The difference is he can only do that so often, and only to one place.

Ricard

Commander, he wasn’t kidding, the castle crumbles as the storm dissipates! We must away!

Maria

Yes… let us away. We have a date with an emperor.

38: Palamecia

Leon

Hmm… perfect. Not yet though… nooot yet…

Firion

It’s… really quiet. Like, eerily quiet. Did he kill his own subjects?

Guy

No, look… there’s some out there, in the courtyard, waiting for… something.

Ricard

Not for us, I hope… who’s that?

Maria

I do not know… excuse me! Excuse me! *long pause* Why do they not answer… Excuse me?

Minwu

Maria, hang on. They… they’re flinching away from you.

Maria

Please, we are not here to harm you. Please. Will you speak with us? *pause* You… have permission to speak..?

Thairee

I’m so sorry mistress. Please do not punish me. How did I get attached to Thairee?

Maria

I am not going to punish you.. Explain why all of these people are gathered here in chains.

Thairee

It was Emperor’s will. Upon his return with the Cyclone he was to fling the ruins of the city at their feet and command their obedience.

Maria

These… many of these are Eidolons.

Thairee

Yes, mistress. These served as fuel for ritual’s fire, but it was Emperor’s wish to spare their lives, lest they fail to submit properly.

Maria

Submit… properly?

Captain Leila

Boss lady… I gots a really bad feelin’ about this.

Maria

I do too… You, will you please come with us..? *pause* *commanding* What is your name?

Thairee

Thairee, mistress.

Maria

Thairee, you are to come with us as our guide.

Thairee

Yes, mistress.

Maria

Firion?

Firion

Already on it. There’s… thousands of them. It’s gonna take a minute to free ‘em all.

Sylph

I could stay behind to help.

Maria

No…we are in a hurry. Attention! We seek volunteers to assist us in reclaiming the keep! The rest of you please be patient, your fellows will free you!

Firion

Good call. Hey, up and att’em buddy, you gotta start freeing the rest, aight?

Eidolon 4

I heard. Godspeed in the keep.

Firion

We’ll need it. You, Thairee! Guide us to the prisons!

Guy

Why the prisons..?

Firion

A hunch.

Thairee

This way, master.

39: Palamecia Dungeons

Captain Leila

You’ve gots ta be kiddin’ me.

Firion

I hate being right.

Maria

Firion?

Firion

Already on it!!

Josef

Who are all these people?

Minwu

Palamecians.

Josef

No I get that but… there’s a lot of people here.

Ricard

Don’t you get it? These are his citizens. His subjects. Everyone who wasn’t loyal. Dear God…

Maria

Thairee. Explain this.

Thairee

Your soldier gentleman speaks truthfully. Emperor does not crave loyalty, he craves obedience.

Maria

He crav– ..*slight wretching sound* We… we need to stop this, right now.

Firion

We’re going to. Thairee!

Thairee

Master.

Firion

The throne room, take us there. Now.

Thairee

Master.

40: Palamecia Throne Room

Leon

About time…

Minwu

How did I know you would be here.

Emperor Mateus

I am… Emperor… I am above and beyond all of you… I brought this entire region to its knees. By myself! No army, no kingdom, no grand speeches or eloquence! Just raw, unmitigated power!! GAH!!

Minwu

Shut up, princeling. It is long past time you were removed from this board.

Emperor Mateus

I… I am Emperor… I …

Leon

Good riddance to bad rubbish, am I right?

Maria

Leon! What… who… how did you get here?

Leon

Nothing personal, teach, but I’m in a bit of a rush. See, ‘pparently I gotta do this just the right way or it won’t go right.

Maria

Wait, what are you… Leon NO. You have no idea how to handle that level of energy!

Leon

S’where yer wrong, teach! I can handle this… and once I do, I can handle anything! I’ll never have to be scared again! I’ll never have to flee or rot or scream or burn and it will all be better! At last!!

Firion

Maria!

Maria

Ultima is not working! He is not utilizing standard magery! What he attempts is an abomination! Oh boy he mastered the evil shortcuts

Leon

Never again! Never again!! Just a bit more… just a little bit more… and don’t worry, I know exactly where to find them all!! *smash*

Guy

Wait, where is he going?!

Sylph

He… he uses his profane powers to rip the life from the dead.. But it is much easier to rip energy from the living if they are Eidolons like myself.

Ricard

No… you think he makes for Deist?

Sylph

No… no I am afraid he might be going someplace much worse.

Guy

Where?

41: The Jade Passage

Firion

…I don’t like this place…

Sylph

Few do. The crystal edges were formed when Bahamut, our king, carved a path into the depths, seeking sanctuary from the Great Dark. Therewithin we founded the Feymarch, though the passageway remained, hidden in the mountains.

Maria

That… must have been a while ago.

Minwu

Indeed. It would predate most of the current princedoms that dot the peninsula. Eidolons lived mostly in peace with humans, though there were incidents…

Sylph

Over time a few Humans and Eidolons started really working together… on a professional level. Farming, building…

Ricard

…and fighting. The first of the Dragon Knights were those who allied one with another, formed bonds of fellowship and honor.

Guy

That’s how Deist got started?

Ricard

Correct. Many of the others sojourned instead towards the mage towns of the west.

Captain Leila

Ah know this ones! See human mageries were pretty advanced stuff, even back then, but Eidolons, they live and breath magics. The two made for natural partners! Could learn all sortsa stuffs. Thus Mysidia be born.

Josef

And everythin’ was right ‘n dandy ‘til one upstart punk got it in his thick skull to cause issues.

Firion

What’s up ahead? The Freymarsh?

Sylph

The Feymarch… and Pandemonium.

42: Pandemonium

Guy

Where… where is everybody?

Sylph

There should be many of our kind here…

Firion

Unfortunately I think we all know what became of them.

Minwu

Indeed… where would he be heading, precisely?

Sylph

Up… To the very top. Bahamut rests upon the peak.

Maria

*exhales* Alright… come then, fellows all. Let us silence this one last echo of trauma.

Guy

Together.

Firion

Together!

Minwu

Together!

Sylph

Together!

Captain Leila

Together!

Josef

Together!

Ricard

Together!

43: Pandemonium Peak

Lord Bahamut

Rgghh… humans?!

Sylph

Lord Bahamut!

Lord Bahamut

Mine… *rgghh*… pain… this… this creature attempts mine essence removed, please… assist me!

Leon

No more!! No more fear! No more pain! No more anything!! Never again! NEVER AGAIN!!

Maria

You poor, sad, deluded fool. I am sorry, my student. But… I cannot allow you to perpetuate this cycle.

Leon

No… more… no more… no more… no more… no more… no more… no more…

Maria

Be still, Leon. Let pain be ceased.

Lord Bahamut

Urghh… Mine thanks for thine assistance, fellows and foreigners both. But might I inquire… yon purpose?

Maria

That… is a long story, Lord Bahamut. If you will permit me in the telling.

44: Fynn Outskirts

We end on Firion and Guy on the outskirts of Fynn. They joke around a bit before Maria finds them, taking a break from organizing the Fynn restoration. They resolve that it’s going to be hard work but tomorrow will come.

Firion

Think it’s got a chance?

Guy

I do. With the Eidolons helping, I mean.

Firion

What about us?

Guy

Nah, we’re boned.

Firion

*laughs*

Guy

What?

Firion

I’m just happy you can joke about it now. That… hasn’t been true for a bit.

Guy

I mean… it’s been a hell of a few months. Can ya blame me?

Firion

No, I cannot. But it’s a good sign. We need to… heal. We all need to heal.

Maria

Now there is a truth I can agree upon.

Firion

Maria! Thought you’d be busy with the others.

Maria

I am. But… they can live without me for a few minutes. Trade lines, supply routes, road repairs… refugees, housing, food, medicine… large scale exodus through the Jade Passage. There is a lot to consider.

Guy

But it’s going to work?

Maria

Oh it will work. Of that I have no doubt.

Guy

*slightly relieved exhale* Good. Good.

Firion

Here’s to tomorrow, then.

Maria

To tomorrow.

Guy

To tomorrow.