Danchir's Termite Diary 5

See file 1 for details.

Dan'Chir's Diary. Part 5

By entering the portal created by Voleramin the Master Librarian we left the Forbidden Forest to emerge in Voleramin's study. We still were in doubt as to what had happened to Johann our Monk. At least Voleramin could reassure us that the Forest usually took kindly to priests and monks and that Johann would eventually reappear.

Suddenly a raven landed on the window sill and croaked and beckoned us to follow him. It led us back to the inn outside the Temple District, where we had our rooms. There Johann already expected us. He looked unusually composed and wore white clothes, which we had not seen on him before. He also wore a new sword, which he suddenly drew challenging Thorn our Scout and calling him bearer of the Dark Sword and servant of darkness. His own new sword seemed to have a clear crystalline blade and radiate uncomfortably powerful Light Magic. Thorn did not want to fight Johann the latter simply attacked. Lexi our blinded Healer had followed all this through the eyes of her pet cat and tried to keep the two apart. Thorn, realising the danger she put herself into, shoved her aside only to take himself the full brunt of Johann's attack. The crystalline sword had suddenly shattered and Thorn was struck by a hale of shards, knocking him out cold.

I could firmly smell Light Elven treachery there. Johann's clothes, his sword and his whole attitude suggested that he had been in contact with these loathsome, sky loving creatures. My crossbow was up and ready in an instant and aiming at the leg of the Monk I let fly. He was hit alright but curiously the bolt did not seem to do too much damage. Poiting first at Thorn and then at me Johann exclaimed "You have revealed your true nature!". Then he suddenly fled, clearing obstacles with incredible jumps.

We returned to Voleramin and Damon the High Priest and together concluded that Thorn's Duregar sword and Johann's Light Elven sword were the two halves of Damodredd's Sword. How to unite them was not quite clear to us but it probably had to be done in the north at the Dragon's Teeth in the mountains. Damon offered to teleport us there and if we found a suitable Area of Power he would also be able to bring us back.

We stepped through a portal conjured up by Damon and arrived in the Mountains. We soon found a formation resembling the teeth of a gigantic lower jaw and entered a cave leading into the rock. We emerged in a sheltered valley, which was full of copper salt deposits and a small copper blue lake. There again waiting for us was Johann, who obviously had been transported there by distasteful Light Elven Magic.

The Sword was then forged anew by Lachlan our Blacksmith using his Shield of Flame as a forge fire and anvil. His amulet grew into a sizeable hammer and while we all held the two swords down together, Lachlan hammered them into one which was finally held by Thorn, 'one of the blood of the Makers'.

Johann then directed us to a suitable place for Damon to make contact with us. It was just below a giant rock shaped like a skull. But on our way there we were attacked by creatures with tentacles instead of heads and others, which had extra faces on their chest and tummy and were wielding large swords. The triple faces proved to be the tougher monsters being able to exhale poisonous smoke from their chest and tummy mouths. We eventually killed them and arrived at the skull rock.

While trying to make contact with Damon more of these creatures arrived. Our Thief Cariss and I first kept them at bay by bombarding them with fireballs but when the strain on our magical powers became too great we retreated and Thorn and Johann instead fought them off for a brief moment. Then at last Damon stepped out of the portal, which had been forming slowly but which collapsed after he emrged from it. He summoned Fire Elementals, which eliminated the remaining threat of these creatures. Then he opened another portal, through which we were brought back to the Temple City of the Sun, emerging in Damon's Quarters.

The City Council was still divided over the issue whether the imminent attack by Dark Elves was true or not. This was because some members of the Council were probably secretly in league with the Order of Chaos, worshipers of Raven, which sided with Tiofan, the Head of the Kilos Yisais and holder of the Black Gem, Damodredd's Heart, which makes its bearer invulnerable, except against the Sword Forged Anew. We decided that we would do what we could to sort out this web of intrigue. But even if the City was prepared to defend itself and Tiofan was killed by us in the attack, much damage would be done to the City. So our Follk party members were determined to seek out Tiafan in the Underdark and kill him before he could mount the attack.

With the crucial vote hanging in the balence we fought to swing it one way or another. Though we bought some votes and persuaded others the manipulations of our enemies put the Emperor himself in danger by bringing him to the city. Deciding that the vote was too close to decide our party decided to take the fight to the Underdark directly, using a gate that the Kilos Yisais had built to enter the city, and which Johann the Monk had somehow discovered.

Dan'Chir's account ends here, but the story continues in the words of Damon, the High Priest of Sunset in the Temple City of the Empire.

Damon's account of the end

The poor Johann having discovered through the agency of the Light Elves that the Kilos Yisais and those others maddened by the power of the Black Heart had managed to move a Duregar gate below the very streets of our city. By invading through this device all our defences would be as nothing, the Black Sun would rise and all would be at an end. I longed to take the war to the Dark Elven city of Dun Issa myself, but I was caught in the web of political manipulation, and I could not leave the council, when the Emperor's own life, and the post of the Archpriest were in the balence, so there was nothing for it but to let Thorn, Johann, Cariss, Lexi, Lachlan and their Dark Elf allies go alone, without even Hrun or Voleramin to aid them, for both were needed on the council.

With our guard we secured the gateway, and they, as I understand, used it to walk to the very edge of Dun Issa itself. There they stood, seening before them an army of 7000 Dark Elves and 10,000 of their Goblin and Follk slaves, spanning the whole vastness of Dun Issa's cavern from edge to edge. They did not quail, however, and donned disguises as dark Elves to thread their way through that army. Miraculously they made the journey undiscovered, though many times they were on the very edge of being revealed, perhaps higher powers aided them, such as those Gods of Shadow they had so long heard of in the prophecy. Somehow they managed to reach the walls of Dun Issa, and there faced the shadow maze that defended it.

I do not know exactly the creatures, sorcerous all, or other defences they met in the maze, though they have mentioned creatures of lead and obsidian, walls that shifted like dreams, treacherous gateways, shaddowy creatures that pursued them and evaded their weapons, and runic traps hidden in the pathways of the maze. In any case they passed through, injured but still fighting, to a place where Eridani could pass the walls and lead them through a secret way to the palace of the three Gods of Darkness, which Tiofan had made his own. That journey they now describe as a dream to me, from which they cannot even remember the shape of the walls in that dread city. How long they took, how close they were to discovery, or who they fought on the passage they cannot even now say, only they know that at last they found themselves on an endless stair that carried them to the throne room itself, where Tiofan stood making his plans with his generals and the leaders of the Houses.

Cariss tells me that Tiofan was trasformed by the Black Heart into a giant of seemingly unstoppable power. He calmly regarded the obsidian table on which our city was shown crucified, while on either side a figure roben in black stood waiting like attendants. Choosing their moment carefully the party leapt upon the Dark Elves, Lexi's Light magic proving vital to give them the split second of hesitation they needed. In that moment they made it half-way to Tiofan, and then they recovered. Fire and darknes blossomed in a battle to chaotic to comprehend. Tiofan's first spell slew one of his own, his second drove for Thorn's heart, knowing that with his destruction the Silver Sword could be wielded by no other and Tiofan would be safe, but in that instant Johann threw himself in the way and it was he that died, his doubts resolved at last, or perhaps his fatalism. That sacrifice gave Thorn the moment he needed to stab Tiofan with the Silver Sword, and in that moment his power crumbled, the shadow Maze fell, and the Black Heart went tumbling away through the air.

Together they watched the gem, as it fell into the hands of one of the black robed figures, and all became still and cold as ice. Then the robe fell away and they saw that it was no Dark Elf, but Damodred, the Ice Spectre and last of the Umbrals. The party knew they had no hope against him, though Thorn vainly tried to strike at him, and they felt even their sanities failing before his awful power, but even as his undead shadow fell upon them he faded and was gone. It is my speculation now that Damodred planned this final confrontation all along. He could not abice, in his undeath, that anyone should control the Gem but he, and so engineered Tiofan's downfal, always hoping, of course, that he might gain the Silver Sword himself, and final mastery of the Gem. As to why he did not try for the sword then? It seems to me that, though he did not notice it then, Thorn did not wield the Silver Sword even as he struck at Damodred, that the Light Elves had already stolen it away, as I will describe below. Faced with no possibility of victory Damodred must simply have hidden the Gem again, perhaps to be found in another 10 thouusand years.

After that moment the party saw for the first time, hope of survival. From the chamber outside other Dark Elves rushed in, and they were astonished to see that they were the Torellan Sia of the other cities, come to aid Eridani revenge the exiling of the house from Dun Issa by Tiofan. In moments they guessed that the whole Dark Elven army was divided, self against self, as the Houses fought for dominance in the sudden abcense of their leader. As they backed away then the party saw a cold and white portal forming in the air, and they leapt through it, not caring where it led, leaving Eridani and Dan'Chir to who knows what fate.

To their surprise they found themselves back in the Temple City. While they were gone we had fought our own battle, for the Order of Light, a military tool of the Inquisition, had attacked the city they were meant to be guarding, forstalling that vote that we had fought over so long, surely a tactic to hide the guilt of those who were really in league with Chaos. The order was defeated by the other military brotherhoods, at least one of which could well have been their allies, but it took all that long night to gain victory against ourselves, while the real evil slunk away hidden. When the party returned they found the city still fighting, but in a strange detachment they came to the Holy Square and a great light descending from the sky. In that light stood three of the Light Elves, bearing before them the body of the poor Johann. On his breast lay the Crystal Sword, and in that moment Thorn realised that he bore once more the Black Sowrd (as he may have done from the moment Tiofan died I think). The Elves said nothing, and in a moment they vanished with both sword and body, leaving Thorn to give his own sword to the Duregar that he found within the very temple itself, there to be held safer than in the hands of mortals.

It was then that I found them, and told them that the war was over, and we sought the high places of the temple to see the welcome sun rise through the sacred stones, but it was not the firey orb that rose, but the Black Sun, the dreaded symbol of Raven's defeat. In that moment I thought that we were all lost, and I think half the city fell in dread, but then the blackness faded away and the fires of dawn shone through. It was a message from the Darkness, 'Do not forget us', and I wonder even now if the battle is truely done.

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