Sunday, May 13, 2012

Journal of Fjolkir the Beardless, Part 8

I suffered several surprises upon awakening.  The first was that I awoke at all; I had not expected to return to sanity after sacrificing myself to Mavrilith.

This was immediately followed by a number of surprises inherent in the situation.  I found in front of me Shin-Yao's mangled corpse, clearly having been slain by the six-strike pattern of my twin axe style.  His adamantine hammer was shattered, and my right hand was a welter of blood and broken bones, while my left was encased in a bone-white gauntlet which I guessed to be the white chromata.  Looking down briefly, I discovered that I was standing literally atop Ythir's corpse, which appeared to have taken an axe to the back of the head.  To my right, Durnik was engaging a truly massive blue dragon with his spear, and Barradin was nowhere to be found, while past Shin-Yao's body lay an elf in robes who was gibbering and drooling.  To my left, through a burning, shattered building, I espied the cooling corpse of Anaximath, with a great rent between her brows and the corpses of many men-at-arms about her.

The next two surprises were catching a lightning bolt to the head, and discovering that I was quite deaf when I did not hear the crack.  I subsequently ducked into cover to avoid further lightning.  I was, for a moment, conflicted as to my next course of action, overwhelmed with mixed emotions.  Exultation for seeing the Red Terror slain was foremost, followed by remorse for the slaying of a good friend and worthy warrior to achieve that end.  I was likewise somewhat disappointed that I had survived that very fight; for many years, I had believed that dying fighting Anaximath was my doom and fate.  Next, I was not without a trace of satisfaction for having slain Ythir, as I should have done when first we met him.  Finally, there was fear - fear of the white gauntlet.  I struggled to remove it, for to die tainted with this draconic sorcery after some miracle freed me from Mavrilith's hold would be an irony too terrible to speak of.  I was eventually successful, and found my wounds mysteriously healed.  When I did so, a sussurus of ghostly voices whose presence I had hardly consciously noticed ceased, and I discovered that for the first time since the Burning the voices of my ancestors were silent, as though they were finally at rest.  Thus heartened to know that my duty had been well and truly done, I drew Tooth and Claw and resolved to die fighting the blue; if Anaximath was not sufficient, perhaps another dragon immediately following would be.

Unfortunately, even that death was denied me; Durnik and I crushed it in a pincer maneuver, while an invisible Barradin laid into it with his green missiles and beams of fire.  It shifted its shape to that of fallen Shin-Yao, and while it pained me I struck at him again, knowing that this must be a trick of the blue chromata, the Shimmering Mail of perfect deception.  Eventually Durnik slew it with a mighty punch, and a hush fell over the bloody and burning battlefield.  Barradin reappeared and demanded an explanation of my actions; once my hearing returned, I explained that I had done what I believed necessary to slay Anaximath, and that though I regretted Shin-Yao's death (and, as I would discover, the destruction of a large portion of the city of Dehlia), I found those sacrifices, while bitter-tasting even to me, were justifiable.  Barradin was grealty displeased by this, but was willing to provide an explanation to me of what had transpired while I was...  out.

In accordance with the Gestalt's plan (which I do not remember, but which appears in this journal in a frankly terrifying fashion), we lured Anaximath into attacking Dehlia.  The elf-king went to meet her, but we did not hold back; Shin-Yao engaged her immediately, and the rest of us followed.  A mysterious and malevolent mage by the name of Oknir was with us, but disappeared during the fight after thoroughly bewitching the mind of the elf-king.  I slew Anaximath, and the blue dragon and its servants (a band of cowled cultists) appeared, claiming that with all the chromata in one place, the return of Tiamat from the planes beyond was nigh, requiring only the slaying of the last high elf, the king (though it appears that he either knew not of Qual, or had dismissed him as inconsequential).  When this was said, Mavrilith, in my body, made a run for the elf-king, but Shin-Yao interposed himself after seeing it (me?  us?) kill Ythir.  I cut him down, but as I went to step over him, in a final valiant effort, he wrapped the red chromata about his hammer and struck at Mavrilith, destroying both artifacts and preventing the ritual from coming to completion.  Its plan thus undone, the blue decided it had no further reason to live, and died upon our weapons.

We were unable to take the blue chromata from the dragon's body, for we did not knows its true name and its corpse was therefore indistinguishable from Shin-Yao's true body, but Barradin did send both the green and white chromata out of reality with powerful sorcery.  This done, he and Durnik took their leave of me, having no trust for those who slay their fellows.  This is only right and proper, but regrettable; I had come to value Barradin's companionship in these last few weeks.  I believe I overheard him mention exploring parts unknown, and I think Durnik will likely accompany him.

For my part...  I am unsure of what to do.  I am told there is a dwarven temple here in Dehlia; I should lead my people back to Kathras to begin the rebuilding.  I suspect, however, that after what I have seen, done, and been, I will never truly be one of them again.  I think perhaps I will hermit myself away in the deep jungles of Helheim, studying the oneness of things in atonement for the blood on my hands and training any who would follow me in the ways of hunting dragons.  While the blue claimed to be the last dragon in this world, I think vigilance is still necessary; if, as it also claimed, Tiamat is elsewhere, there are yet dragons elsewhere as well, and they might eventually come here.  Thus, to let the Way of the Dragonslayer die could be a deadly error in ages to come.  Perhaps the Singed will join me; they shared my purpose, and have made their own sacrifices.  They, of all beings, are most likely to understand my actions and choice of means.  With the dragon gone, I suspect they too will find themselves without purpose, yet not accepted back into dwarven society.

I leave this volume in the hands of the High Hammerpriests of Moradin, that future generations may know of this Age of Dragons and be warned firsthand against their artifacts and other works, and that I may be judged in the eyes of the gods, ancestors, and generations yet to come as befits my actions.

 - Journal of Fjolkir the Beardless, Seventh Day of Forgefeast

Finis.

1 comment:

M said...

By Decree of the First Council of Nine, on this, the Fifth of Oldamar, in accordance with the First Constitution of Hollowtown:

The Hollowtown Excursionary and Expansionary Legion is hereby founded under the guidance and command of Sir Barradin Took, Mage of the Hollows.
In light of the razing of Dehlia and the subsequent fall of the Elf King from power, the Council of Nine has decided it prudent to establish HEEL to venture to the uncharted and unexplored frontiers of the world; that we might learn of both the wonders beyond our view and the unseen dangers which might present a threat to the people of Hollowtown.
HEEL, with the full backing and authority of the Council of Nine, and by extension Hollowtown, will travel far and wide, exploring the world's highest peaks, lowest valleys, and darkest depths, unrelenting in their duty to our city.
However, this cannot be achieved without the courage and strength of brave, bold individuals who not only seek adventure and glory, but embrace danger and the unknown. HEEL is looking for the best that the world has to offer, that we might combat the worst the world has to offer.
HEEL: That we might stay the dogs of war.

~Recruitment poster for Hollowtown's Excursionary and Expansionary Legion (by mBritton, aka Barradin Took)