Episode 11 - The Horned Hold's Defeat

A New Friend:

Once the Duergar overlord had been defeated, the adventurers searched the room and were assaulted by a stench with the strength of an ogre, the complexity of an elven ballad, and the tenacity of an undead dragon. Paelias could almost see it through his watering eyes.

After a brief moment to gather his strength, Sting pointed a shaking hand towards an old, abused bath tub filled with old, slimy rags. The dark, moldy rags were soaked in some thick liquid, possibly blood, mead, or urine, to guess at some of the cloying odors. As the party approached, it became apparent that the rags were alive. Or more accurately, that something under the rags was alive, or not completely dead. With the tip of his sword, Tempest drew back the curtain of filth to reveal a large old man.

Flies buzzed around his drab, torn breeches and grubby yellow tunic. Purple bruises and weeping, infected cuts covered his bare arms. A mass of gray hair wove in and out the clotted cuts on his head and neck. Swollen, beaten eyes peered out from a sour, weathered face featuring a long silver-white mustache.

“Well, what have we here?” asked Galt with an opportunistic grin.

“Are you friend or foe, laddie?” asked Balomir with a ‘lets not act rashly until we asses the situation’ undertone meant for the rest of the party.

“Ugggg” moaned the rag man, “I’m not a lad, friend or foe. But I’m no friend of this place, that’s for sure… where ever it be.”

“What are you doing here?” inquired Woodie.

“How would I know?”, snaped the old man. “Sorry lass, I feel like crap. I don’t remember much. I was having a few drinks at the Halfmoon I think. Then drag’n, beat’n, and hurt’n. What’r you lot do’in here? Y’all look out of place.”

“First, tell us who you are” interjected Paelias.

“M’names Noluck. Just a humble caravan guard” replied Noluck, before muttering “most of the time”.

“Well, if you can hold a sword, you can join us. But we’re not heading out just yet. We’re looking for something.”

“I could really use a drink, and a sword. But I’d like the drink first. Some’pin strong. I find it helps lubricate me sword arm, and quiets the ringing in me head.”

Tempest offered Noluck a drink.

“What, this the strongest you got? Back in me day, the ale was so strong we had to carry it around in a dragon’s skin flask, ‘cause it’d just eat through anything else. ‘Course, we had to slay the dragon our selves too. And they all made their layers on the tops of mountains in those days. Really big mountains too, not like the little ones in these parts. Makes a man out of you, slaying a dragon does. Those were the days…”

A quick search of the room turned up an old sword and a battered shield, which were offered to Noluck.

“Y’p, that’s me stuff. Nothing special, but it does the trick. Buggers would’ve swiped it for sure if it was worth sum’pin.” said Noluck as he strapped on the shield. With a word, his rags transformed into a fine suit of scale armour, to the surprise of all but Woodie. Taking a couple of practice swings with the sword, Noluck grimly offered “Ah, that’s better. Now lets go a killin.”


The Slave Pits:

Slave devils

“They was listening at the doors, they was, while those bastards menaced us.”

“Oh, shut up Snotface! There ain’t no heroes coming to rescue us! We’re all good as dead.”

“How do you know? It’s noisy as hell in here. We may be shackled to this here wall, awaiting god knows what, but I tells ya these devils what’s gots us don’t know what’s awaiting them neither. No one does. Why when we escaped…”

“Shut up! Can’t I have a moments peace before being eviscerated by hell fiends?”

“No! No, I’ll shout it from the mountain tops I will. I’ll shout it from down here in the deepest pits. There are heroes and they are coming to save the world. I will testify it even as these fiends pull out my giblets I will!

We was captured in different towns, different villages, all sorts; humans, some halflings an elf or two. We was being held in a pit sort of like this, but smaller and I could feel them coming with me psychic abil..”

“Shut it! Your psychic abilities extend to predicting the sun’ll come up tomorrow – which it won’t for us. The torch fire and the bonfire they’ll toss us on is as close as we’ll get to the light of day you old bugger!”

“I could feel em. Even as they was taunting us, those middle management dwarf types. Those doo-re-gars.

One of them devil-types took an immediate dislike to me and after poking me starts this hissing laughter an’ says to his mate, ‘Look, Durkkel. It doesn’t like me! Should I be afraid?’ ‘It needs to learn respect, Marshk,’ the other one says back. ‘If you pluck out its eyes, it might think twice about glaring at you.’ An then it grabs me by the hair – a great big ‘un with a lashing tail and all covered all groody-like with sharp spines, hauls me up outta the pit, holding me by the hair. An it wan’s to gouge out me eyes, only that’s when the heroes come charging in!”

“Oh right, they come busting into a slaver’s den!”

“Oh they didn’t all want to. There was this wizard cunt who wanted to rest her wee pretty head before charging in. Fortunately the men folk had the better idea and saved us.”

“Saved you! Hah didn’t last? You ended up here!”

“Oh but the others escaped that smokey chamber. Escaped the mountain they did!

There was two short ones. Halflings. And one of them had relations who’d been took by slavers. HE said to his mates, ‘Must I remind you that my brothers and sister might be in there?’ and the drunkin’ knight said ‘Ya can’t just leave ‘em to suffer at the hands of these malevolent bastards. You lot are pathetic. Back in my day, there would be no discussion, just action.’

So that was it. The heroes charged in and bust down the doors. Surprised our captors.”

“Just like that? You’rer a snolly! Snolly snolly snollygoster! I hope they eat you slow!”

“Oh I’m a gristly one. You’re much more succulent! Maybe the heroes will get here before I’m et, but the hungry ones will have you. You listen and hear some hope in my tale lad. Some hope before you get the sauce poured on you and a tomater stuffed in yer mouth! Har!

We was in a big room with three large wells. Gods know why. We was in two of the wells with ladders leading out, the other well had water in it, but ours didn’t. We was all chained up, like in here, on the walls of the well pits.”

“‘Ow could they bloody see you, the heroes, then?”

“I don’t know, but they could. I know ‘cuz wi’my psychic ability I could see what they see.”

“Shut up with that psy-kick abiwity bollocks!”

“There was a big brazier full of hot coals…

“A wot?”

“A brazier.”

“A wot?

“Like a bucket of coal that was on fire to light the room. Good Gods I’ll be happy to be eaten jus to get away from you, you dim feck. There was a pile o’ rubble”

“Wot”

“Rubble.

“Wot?

“Oh, yer takin the piss you feck. There was two doo-ree-gars and this mystic type o’ doo-ree-gar lassie. And three things with bodies sorta like men, but with tails and spikes and barbed wings…”

“Like the things at are eating us?”

“Aye. I suppose so. Anyway the thing with wings is dangling me over the pit by me hair.”

“Wot hair? You craggy bald old buzzard. I thought you said you was chained to the wall?”

“They took me off. Doesn’t matter though cuz this thing charges in, more like a salamander than a man, but tall it was and blue. And the devil dropped me into the pit as he came. One of the halflings comes scurrying in and he’s all sharp and quick like and shoots the devil holding me with a crossbow.”

“Thought you said you was dropped!”

“Why’dya think I was dropped? And then this dwarf covered in armour like one of the ancients’ war machines he was, he just comes in and tolchocks this doo-ree-gar right groody in the head and crambles his head thinker right good. Ruddy cleaved him like Kord hisself came and hammered him. Then this boozy knight comes crashing in swinging his sword about and crashes into the doo-ree-gar and crashes that grey dwarf to the ground he does. Then the ugly dyke comes in waving her wand…”

“Thought you said she was pretty!”

“How’dyou know she was a dyke?”

“An’ she blasts an ice ray at the devil holding me.”

“You said he dropped you.”

“The one that was holding me. Then another hero snuck in the room and then the devils start shooting their quills out all over and hit that merman thing and their quills catch fire as they go in the air.”

“Oh yeah right!”

“And then that blue man he says a few words, something about a stiff upper lip and then he’s put himself to right and fights on. One of them doo-ree-gars hits the boozy knight an’ ee says ‘Ha! ya didn’t even nick me, you noodle armed princess’ and another takes a run at the little halfling with the crossbow, but he misses too. The dwarf swung at the doo-ree-gars, but to no avail and then out of nowhere this Eladrin comes and knocks one of the doo-ree-gars into a pit. But then the nasty doo-ree-gar mystic, Framarth was her name, starts casting black magic about an’ hits them with brimstone and hail. The dwarf and the knight and the halfling go down. But there was another halfing! And he looks all crazy and he’s saying awful things.”

“Like wot?”

“I don’t know. My teeth chatter when I try to says them and these blasts of colour -colour you’ve never seen before and never want to see again come leaping out at this doo-ree-gar. Then the wizard-woman shoots a magic bolt out of her wand and kills a grey dwarf. Then she shoots a devil with a weakening ray. The devils are shooting out spines like they’ve tiny archers on their backs and the room is deranged with fighting. The merman has to heal himself again and the halfling with the crossbow shoots the doo-ree-gar theurge.

Then the big battle-tank dwarf hauls himself to his feet and lays his mark on his foes…”

“His wot? What mark?”

“He smote a divine sanction upon the brow of his enemies.”

“Whaever!”

“The knight charges the theurge, sayin ‘you’re not go’n anywhere, punk’ an’ waving his sword about so much he hit the theurge and a doo-ree-gar. But the mystic doo-ree-gar belches out some foul fumes and it’s awful. Then the crazy halfling hero sends this truly awful thing out to his enemies, but it misses. Gods be thanked he didn’t hit any of us. The devils go after the merman again and the crossbow halfling found another target to sting. The drunken knight killed a doo-ree-gar but the good dwarf missed.”

“Did you see every last punch and fart with you psychic abiwity Snotface?”

“The eladrin used magic to port about the room behind the evil mystic and hit her, but tasted the taint of foul magic again nonetheless as a wave of despair hit the heroes like a plague of locusts.

The knight seemed to catch a second wind, slurrin’ out ‘Ya know, I’m a feeling a lot better now’ and the crazy halfling sent out another vile abomination into the room. Fighting evil with worse evil if you ask me. Evil with insanity. He cast curses on devils if you’ll believe it!”

“I tol you we don’t believe you when you say the sun rises you old coot!”

“The wizard woman cast a cold cloud into the air that seemed to sap the devils of their strength and then the dwarf went into some kind of defensive stance marking the devils again with the wrath of his god.

The Eladrin hit the evil doo-ree-gar witch doctor and that strange thing the insane halfling cast started to eat at the devils.

Now the mystic is having trouble, swinging wildly and missing the knight. The crazy halfing tried another abomination but it could not hold onto this plane, perhaps because he was already rending at all things sensible! Yet he drank more of the devil’s vitae with his old atrocity! The good dwarf flagged, falling to the ground and I feared perhaps the party too would stumble. The hafling-crossbowman dealt niggling damage to his foes and the merman missed so badly I thought he would topple himself. Yet he redeemed himself by felling a devil.

Then the Eladrin smote the final blow upon the evil doo-ree-gar mystic felling the curse worker. The insane halfling let bolts of god knows what fly from his fingers and he calcified a devil where it flapped.

Another bolt form the girl wizard and the last devil in the room was sent back to Asmodeus, good and dead The halfling whose brothers and sister had been taken by slavers tended to the mighty fallen dwarf hero and then, my brothers, they freed us!

We were but 12 humans and elves from Winterhaven, poor and frail, but they had questions for us as you would not believe.”

“We don’t”

“We told the halfling bowman that we once counted three halflings among us, but one of those died and the other two had been sold off.

The she-wizard was not all bad as she worked a magic feast of ale and all the vittles we could sup upon.

The heroes rested and then told us we must fend for ourselves.”


Resting and Receiving Messages – Sting:

Sting looked at the chained up, naked captives – the people captured by slavers that he and his companions were sent to rescue. As it was being announced that they mustn’t leave yet for safety reasons and that the group would be escorting them home as soon as the slavers were dealt with, Sting scanned the faces of the people, looking for anyone he might recognize or who might be able to help him. Clothing was retrieved from the slavers’ stores and given to the rescued slaves. As Sting passed out clothing he inquired if anyone had seen any Halflings that were taken as slaves. Indeed they had seen some, matching the description of his brothers and sister. Sting’s heart lifted until he heard the further news.

The Halflings had numbered three and indeed matched the descriptions of all three of his siblings – his sister Seluna, his brother Eirich and his other brother Corrin. Of the three, Corrin had not survived the journey, for the road was hard and the treatment by his captors, brutal.

Sting relished the thought that someone was going to pay for that carelessness with their life, for when he saw them last, his sister and brother Eirich were sent with one slave group to the north and Corrin with a separate slave group to the south. Someone had gone to considerable trouble to re-unite the Halflings, and that in itself was troubling.

Sting looked into the face of the female human that had shared this news with him. He could see that she had had losses of her own, and something forgotten within him stirred.

“Please, my sister and my brother Eirich, where are they now?”

She slowly shook her head looking hollowly at him. Sting cocked an eyebrow. Something long forgotten moved him again.

“What’s your name?” he asked in a warmer, gentle voice.

“Leona,” she replied.

“Leona, my sister and brother, where are they? Where are they now?”

“I don’t know,” she replied, “but I do know this. One of the men who took them was laughing as he hauled them away in their shackles and he said they were coming with him to where they could serve a greater purpose.”

Sting knew that he needed some insight – to at least know that his brother, Corrin, was in good care, under the wing of the Raven Queen and not in the embrace of her nemesis, Nagash, the Daemon Prince of the Undead.

Concentration was a must and so he removed himself from the immediate presence of the rescued captives and his companions, after telling Master Dwarf Balomir he needed some time apart, and asking Woody if he could borrow her Raven familiar while he attempted to commune with the Raven Queen.

He started with some meditation to clear his mind, seeking the stillness within – the scorpion-mind that waits. When he achieved this he felt the pumping of hearts, the coursing of blood, and their self-inflicted isolation – their disconnection from the web of life and death. As he continued to let his feelings guide him, he let his perception ride the web and found a node nearby where the web intersected with the web of fate and interwoven strands of magic and destiny bound the webs. Through these strands he sensed his companions bound to him by destiny and fate. He turned his focus back to the node, and as he did so he could feel it loom close, and begin to course with a growing energetic presence. One word was whispered into his mind: Sting!

His eyes flicked open. He saw his reflection cast in a black orb near to his face, which when withdrawn was revealed to be the eye of Woody’s Raven familiar.

“Gwakle, gwakle!” cried the raven. Sting looked deep into the black pool of her eye and felt himself falling as though sucked in. The black of night broke up and scattered in a flurry of flapping wings, revealing the topography of Shadowfell, home to the dead and realm of the Raven Queen.

On black wings he soared through the skies of Shadowfell when up ahead the ravenhost came back together blotting out the view of Shadowfell as though a black blanket were drawn over it all. Sting felt nausea as his sense of balance reeled – he was suddenly hurling away from the black, or perhaps it pulled away from him. Either way the black feather blanket revealed itself to be a black feather cloak borne by a beautiful pale skinned woman whose head turned in his direction revealing half her face and whose left eye swiveled in its socket until it met his and he felt her peer into his soul. Her psychic touch was cold and yet there was no mal-intent. There was a moment of recognition and in that instant her cloak erupted into a conspiracy of ravens flying towards Sting.

Sting became aware of the moment and his surroundings and of Coralina, Woody’s Raven Familiar, agitated and beating her wings about Sting’s head and shoulders. How he knew her name now he wasn’t sure, but one thing he was sure of was that he had a connection with the Raven Queen now and perhaps it was through that connection that he knew the raven familiar’s name.


Resting and Receiving Messages – Paelias:

While the party attended to the freed slaves, Paelias sought out a secluded spot where he might attempt contact with his superiors in the council. “Perhaps I’ll have better luck here,” he thought to himself. Or would the deep cavern prevent establishing a link as it had in the Seven-Pillared Hall?

Easing into the familiar trance, he envisioned the markings on his arm. Tracing them in his mind he was able to feel the mental links forming with the council until, in a burst of emotion, he was able to see the excited face of his eldar.

“Where have you been? Why has it taken you so long to make contact?” the aggitated voice rang out.

“I tried to make contact but I…”

“Where is the ring? What have you done with it?” the eldar interupted.

“I still carry it with me. I…”

“What? Why did you not give it to Elandil as you were ordered?”

“He was not at the meeting place. I attemted to contact you but…”

“Enough! We will not tolerate insubordination. You will return to the Seven-Pillared Hall immediately. You will use the mage teleporter to bring us the ring. That is an order!”

And with that, the connection was terminated.

Reaching for the leather lanyard round his neck, he pulled the ring out to examine it once again.

“Such a simple ring,” he thought, “how could it possibly be so important?”


The Ruined Chapel:

Skeleton

“So what happened after the heroes rested?”

“Well, we took what weapons we could scrounge and the merman said a few bracing words to shore up our confidence. Then the insane halfling addressed us and his words had a kind of maniacal zeal which we could not ignore, ‘you must look to your brothers and guard your hard won liberties,’ the halfling told us, ‘so as you were chained in slavery you are now bound together in freedom!’

A mighty shout came from our ranks and we felt ready to take on the entire mountain.

The party advanced way from us down a narrow corridor, but I remained with them in my minds eye, seeing them stop at the door then open it to a fearsome surprise. A long ruined chapel festooned with cold shadows held a damaged statue of a demonic minotaur with a broken arm. Oh it was in true sorry state a very dilapidated condition. Portions of the ceiling had fallen in, partially filling in several small chambers behind the statue.

From out of the rubble lurched the body of a long-dead human warrior in tattered black mail. Sunken flesh clung to its bones, and its lips were drawn back from its black teeth. It raised a rotting hand, revealing jagged claws as it hissed and attacked.

The heroes worked in concert, the dwarf shielding his comrades even as a wight struck him and drank his vitae. Some seven wights stalked the room if there was one, but the she-wizard cast a pool of acid about corroding to of the undead beasts.

After a short moment, the wizard dispelled her acid and the heroes advanced. The wee halfling, Sting, whose relations were slaves, attacked three wights at a go and killed one, while the crazed halfling cast a strange unearthly glow about.

Three wights attacked the paladin dwarf, but they only knew frustration.

Two more evil fiends attacked the knight and found some awful luck, but the merman fared as well as the dwarf in repelling the un-dead.

The knight, nimble with his weapon, cried out ‘Take that, AND that, ya limy undead bastards’ as he hit two wights, while the merman landed a mighty blow against a wight. Again the halfling Sting attacked with his cunning movements and this time killed a wight and then smote another. The merman used his skill as a leader to co-ordinate the attacks with such cunning the knight was able to kill another wight, ‘Back in my day, when people died, they stayed dead’. The mad halfling’s dire glowing power claimed the un- life of another wight, but the fiends struck back. After much too and fro of steel and spell the heroes cast those fiends back into the pit.

But then lo! The marble statue began to move!”

“Enough of your stories old man! Feel the bite of my skewer!”

“EEEEEEEE!!!!!!! THE HEROES ARE COMING FOR YOU YOU FIENDDSSSSS!! THOUGH I MAY FILL YOUR BELLY I SHALL SHOUT IT FROM YOUR BOWELS!”

“URKK!! Who dares strike me from behind?!!! I am an arch devil slave – what are you all doing out of your bonds! You are to be a feast for the overlord? You tricked us?! The old man’s story a diversion?! You… no… no… no… AEEEEEIIIIIIEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!”


The Hooded Woman:

As they battled the roomful of wights, Sting eyed the large statue on the dais with great suspicion. He’d heard that sometimes statues came to life and this one looked particularly nasty and who could trust the foul magic of the Duergar people?

Dispatching his own adversary was no easy feat, but the final blow was dealt with style. He scanned the room to see his companions continued their fight against the wights but they were being dispatched one by one. He eyes lit upon Coralina who had landed and cocked her head at the statue as though studying it.

“I don’t trust it either,” he said. He began circling the statue, keeping a cautionary distance but one that was close enough to allow him to launch an attack against it when necessary. As his companions continued to eliminate their enemies he took up a flanking position, which would allow him a vicious sneak attack and he scanned the carved workmanship looking for any signs of implied weakness.

As the last wight went down darkness began to gather around the statue as though wisps of shadow and smoke began to emanate from it. There was a sense of an energy building and it had a feeling of familiarity, which he could not pin down, and identify. His eye flicked over to Woody’s familiar and he saw the raven becoming more agitated, hopping around and turning more to face it, her wings flapping now and then.

Sting strove to calm himself and invoke scorpion-mind, preparing for the moment to strike. Finally, his companions put down the final wight and the swirling energies around the statue came to a peak.

“What’s going on guys?” asked Tempest as he eyed the statue with suspisious caution.

“I cannae say fer sure but it looks like the work o’ the Raven Queen,” repliend Balomir, “Ya needn’t worry laddie, I dunnae sense any ill intent.”

“Wouldn’t stand to close, if I were you,” added Noluck, “If I had a bit of coin for every time I’d seen a gigantic daemon burst from a wee statue I’d be a rich man.”

The toe of a shoe was the first thing to emerge from the statue and as it did so the vapour-like black shadows coalesced into small ravens in Sting’s vision. The toe was followed by the form of a woman in black robes and a hood, midnight raven feathers adorning her cloak and belt.

Each adventurer gasped in turn as they recognized the beautiful woman. Her striking features and mysterious allure were unmistakable. Although they had never truly known her origins or purpose, this was the same woman that had steered their steps towards the final confrontation with Kalarel. She had been their guide in the quest to close the gateway to Nagash’s hellish realm.

With a jolt of alarm, Paelias felt a tugging at his neck. The ring that he had taken from Kalarel, now safely tucked away on a chain around his neck, was being pulled towards the woman, like iron to a magnetic lodestone. Paelias tried to hide his alarm, not willing to let the others know of the mysterious item that he now carried beneath his tunic. But the other adventurers seemed unaware of Paelias’ distress, too mesmerized by the sight of the new visitor.

The woman scanned the group, her eyes boring into each of them in turn, as if weighing the substance of their souls. With a look of knowing satisfaction, she finished her examination of the warriors, seemingly pleased with her assessment.

“Well done,” she began as she addressed the company, congratulating them on their victory and completion of the task set out before them. “You have succeeded in the challenges laid before you, and that is no easy task”

As she spoke Sting felt a growing sadness, understanding that with the completion of this mission and the outstanding task of finding his missing siblings, he must take leave of his friends and the raven he’d come to feel more intimate about.

“But the strands of fate which have entwined you all and bind you together have not come to an end. Your destiny leads further down the road as forces have arrayed behind you and against you. “

“I am Tarina, an emissary of the Raven Queen, and the messenger in a prophecy that has been eons in the making.” Sting looked knowingly at the woman, realizing now why he had felt such an unusual connection with her. His patronage to the Raven Queen, guardian of the afterlife, was a bond between them.

“You have all been cast as the greatest of actors, players in a prophecy that has existed since the dawn of creation. The forces of light and the forces of dark are vying for ultimate supremacy, and by your actions alone will the fate of the world be sealed.”

“Each of you has a purpose, a destiny to be fulfilled. You all have a distinct role to play on this prophetic stage, and your trials carry the weight of history. Each of you has a True Name and a purpose, and in time that purpose will be revealed.”

Tarina looked directly at Paelias “For now, it is important to recognize you, my silver tongued eladrin. You have been guided to this point by powers beyond reckoning, a fate that even the gods cannot control. “

“You have a role to play in this prophecy, and you have a True Name. Your fate is entwined now, and your name in this tale is ‘The Vessel’.”

As the Raven Queen’s emissary said Paelias’ mysterious prophecy name out loud, a gong seemed to ring in the distance, resonating each of them to the core. Although the sound was clear and loud, everyone in the room realized that the sound was coming from within their own minds rather than the depths of the labyrinth.

“As The Vessel, you must carry the ring, the ring that will one day determine the fate of all creation. You must protect the ring and prevent it from falling into the hands of darkness. But do not keep this quest a secret from your companions, for they are your protectors and it is also their duty to protect the ring and The Vessel that carries it.”

Paelias looked around at each of his companions, and he weighed the decision. With a look of trust and faith in his friends, he slowly pulled the ring from beneath his tunic. The small silver band hung from the chain around his neck and seemed to glow with an inner light in the presence of Tarina.

“I’m not sure why this ring has so much meaning,” said the Eladrin rogue, “but I shall guard it, and keep it safe”.

The other adventurers nodded in agreement, each of them quietly accepting the quest they had been given. Tarina, nodded in satisfaction, realizing that the first step in the prophecy had been taken.

The black clad woman spoke one final time. “Your journey in this labyrinth is not yet done brave souls. A rogue wizard named Paldemar is preparing to undo all that you have accomplished – he plans to resurrect Kalarel.”

Strangely, as she said Kalarel’s name aloud, a look of sadness and longing crossed her face. Was there some kind of connection between this beautiful messenger and the twisted necromancer? But she had been the one that had guided their hands and helped them bring down Kalarel’s plans, destroying him in the process. But her look of grief was fleeting, and in a moment it passed.

Sting felt his hate rise, and the eye of the Emissary swiveled in his direction. Kalarel – the name of his nemesis; the one whom he had dispatched to the realm of the dead; servant of Nagash.

“Yes, Sting,” he heard whispered in his head. “Kalarel, who captured you and your siblings, who separated you from them and attempted to have you killed, who you dispatched from this world and threatens to return again through the intervention of another.”

He looked up at the woman and saw that she was looking directly at him, even as she spoke to his companions, and he knew that she was whispering in his mind as she spoke aloud to his companions.

“Your brother Corrin resides under the protective wing of the Raven Queen, a kindness she reserves for those who serve her, little Sting. But she cannot protect them that have not traveled or strayed into her realm.”

He looked away. Sting’s mouth fell open and then closed as he considered what she had said in his mind… was she insinuating that Eirich and Seluna had been taken to serve this greater purpose – the resurrection of Kalarel?

“You must seek out Paldemar and put an end to his plans before they reach conclusion,” she said aloud. “Kalarel strayed from his predestined path, and should he rise again, the forces of darkness will be nigh unstoppable”.

When he looked back up again she was gone.

“There’s no time to waste,” he said as he looked to his companions. We should be underway as soon as we can safely move out with the rescued prisoners.”

“Hhmmph” snorted Noluck. “Well aint you lot special? Back in my day, the Gods didn’t give a lick about us mortals. We made our own destiny, and we liked that way.”

“She spoke to all of us,” Paelieas replied with a grin.

“Including you, sir knight,” added Tempest.

“Seems we were destined to find ya, laddie,” chortled Balomir.

“You have to help us now,” Galt chimmed in, “your destiny has been written.”

Not wanting to think too hard about his destiny, Noluck quickly replied, “For a bunch of youngsters, you lot did pretty well. Your mamas would be proud,” then turning to Tempest, “and your papa would be extra proud if you’d share the rest of your ale with me.”

Episode 11 - The Horned Hold's Defeat

Terror of Nagash AndyH