The Age of Heroes

05.23.14 - Burning Loose Ends, part two

As the sun rose over quiet Greyhawk, the cocks of the town let out their crows. George Pimpleton was first to wake in his eponymous manor, shaking off the indulgences of the evening prior to begin preparations on yet another lavish breakfast. While hot water boiled, Pimpleton shuffled about the kitchen prepping meats, fish, and pies (the festivities of the evening prior still pounding in his head.) In the parlor, he laid out fine porcelain cups and exotic coffee and teas from all across the realm, then made his way into the dining room to prepare a civil and simple set up for the group’s arrival.

Burbis and Lyks were early to rise as well. Morning light steadily brightened the parlor while Lyks sat silent in contemplation, sipping on coffee, as Burbis buzzed around the house in (mostly) quiet anticipation of the day’s breakfast. A hearty knock upon the thick mahogany front door broke the quiet of the house. Burbis eagerly rushed out of the parlor to answer. “Gnomefriend! They’re here,” announced Burbis, rushing back into view. Lyks set his coffee aside and stood to greet his friends, Drayden and Vortis. While Drayden and Vortis helped themselves to tea, a second knock was heard and Burbis once more rushed to the door to serve as greeter. Madryk entered, having spent a much needed evening of relaxation at Elsa’s House of Comfort, followed by Jor-Mak with fresh baked bread in tow, and Isryrgrad, who had spent his evening with Teela Surefoot commemorating his return at Friendly Strangers. The men greeted each other in the calm manner appropriate for the morning, taking seats in the parlor and quietly mulling over their decision to get together at such an early hour.

As George set the dining room table, the others waited for the rest of their party to arrive.

“I see Ix and Silhouette have yet to arrive,” noticed Drayden.
“They…” Isrygrad began to quip, “had quite a night of it at Friendly Strangers!”

It was true, Ix and Silhouette seemed to have outlasted all of their comrades in their revelry, celebrating not only their return from battle but their newly defined union. The pair had rested at Friendly Strangers after a night of drinking, dancing, and cementing their plan to wed under the stars (and consummating it while flying above the cabaret!) As the men finished their first cups of coffee and took their seats in the dining room, Ix and Silhouette finally arrived, entering the house hand in hand to liven up the spirit of the house.

“My friends,” Ix began, “we’re famished and bring with us great news!” Ix and Silhouette surveyed the dining room. “Where is Dablova?” Ix asked.

Lyks and Drayden turned to each other silently, then back to their friends. Drayden spoke first: “Dablova will not be joining us this morning.” Ix and Silhouette took their places at the table, readily piling food upon their plates as quickly as George set it before them. “However, we have much to discuss this morning.”

Ix allowed Vortis the floor, his mouth too full with food to do more than chew. “Ix, when did you last speak to the Mayor?”

Ix swallowed, casually wiped the mess from his lips, and replied, “I only saw him before we left for Stahzer, and have not spoken with him since.”
“As you all may or may not have noticed, Mayor Gasgal was not in attendance at yesterday’s rally. We later received word that the Mayor had left his post, only leaving behind a note in his office.” Vortis revealed, “Good tidings, Greyhawk.”
Ix continued to dine, pouring himself a cup of morning wine, “I am sure he’s taking some time to himself. Leisure time.” His casual demeanor was a contrast to Vortis’ concern. “Besides, if Gasgal doesn’t want to be found, we won’t be finding him soon.”
Vortis conceded with a soft exhale, “the Mayor is more than capable of taking care of himself, true…”
“Isn’t there an election coming up soon, anyway?” Ix said smirking, his mouth full of half-chewed bread.

Lyks set down his cup of coffee and spoke. “Then, there’s Dablova.”
“Yes,” Drayden sighed, “there is the matter of Dablova.”
“So, where is she?” Ix asked again.

Lyks, took up his mug and silently motioned to Drayden before taking another sip of his coffee. Drayden began to detail the events of the night prior to the rest of the party: “At some point yesterday, Lyks saw and confronted Dablova in the Thornhill District, where Kr’zzt was being kept. She visited him and… Kr’zzt’s body was found, incinerated.”

The expressions of the room ranged from sympathy (Silhouette spoke up, “I’m so sorry, Lyks”) to acceptance (Ix shrugged, taking it all in). “Tic,” Ix probed, “Did you feel anything last night, anything odd? Any kind of attempt at intrusion?”
“No, sir. I sensed nothing of the sort,” Tic Toc replied.
“What reason would she have for destroying his body,” Ix questioned. “I cannot say that I’m shocked that this happened. Just curious as to why she chose to do it, she who had the least amount of history with him.”
“In any case,” Drayden said, redirecting the conversaiton, “Dablova is staying with Vortis and I for the time being. Lyks has asked—”
“I told her to leave,” Lyks confirmed, setting his coffee back down upon the oak table.

The placid mood of the room slowly turned more tense as the discussion continued. Lyks asserted, “I must protect the people I care about. I cannot do that when there are those who would undermine my trust.”
“Lyks, you know I do not condone the slaying of an enemy in secret, especially one as incapacitated as Kr’zzt,” Ix countered, pleading, “nor are we questioning your request to put Dablova out, but—”
“If you do not approve of my choices, Ix, I gladly give the up the reigns to you then!” Lyks fired back.
“Listen, Lyks. We’ve all dealt with betrayal before, and I know that betrayal has affected you firsthand, especially after what Ba’th did, but it doesn’t sound like that was what Dablova was getting at!” Ix reasoned.
“Lyks, you have helped guide us through some of our most trying times. Please, we are not here to argue this morning, we’re just trying to understand.” Drayden said, trying to cool the situation.
Lyks cut both men off, “So, Drayden, Dablova is staying with you then? What of it?”

The party let out a collective sigh as the bickering between men died down. Drayden took Vortis’ hand, bracing himself as he spoke once more. “There is more. Dablova…” Drayden struggled with the words to convey their arrangement, “Dablova will mother our child. Myself and Vortis.”

The group paused.
“All three of you?” Silhouette asked.
“How?” Ix followed

“Yes, the three of us. As it turns out, Dablova had received an omen that she was to bear a child that would continue on as a champion in my absence. Knowing my—” Drayden turned to Vortis, “our unique arrangement, she sought help from the Necromancer, Enoch Greyspeth. Greyspeth delivered to us a scroll last night, a ritual to bring forth a being using both pieces of Vortis and myself. She chose to be that vessel for us.”_

The group let the news sink in in silence. “Since I will be a father soon, I must make raising that child my priority. I’m sorry to say it, but this was my last adventure with you all.” Drayden, seeing the stunned faces of his friends around him, began to back pedal, “but.. but rest assured, I would never abandon any of you! I will always be here, and when the child is of age, I will be more than able to—” Lyks stopped Drayden, placing his hand upon his friend’s. “There is no need to explain,” Lyks said calmly, giving the Paladin and his lover a look of reassurance.

Madryk cleared his throat and began, “I too will be leavin’ Greyhawk. The tunnels under the Lortmil Mountains are crawlin’ with every manner of Deep Gnome and Duergar, and in Silverbeard’s name, I will do whatever it takes to make sure they stay down there!” The party nodded their heads in acceptance. Madryk looked around the table and continued, “I know I’ve asked ye this before, but… Maelik. Please, keep the lad outta trouble. We spared him the horror at The Grove when none of his brothers made it back alive. The boy has a lot more livin’ to do while I’m away!” Ix patted the dwarven cleric on the shoulder, “Of course.”

“I will be leaving as well,” Isrygrad interjected. “I will find my home again, and will go help heal my people and my land. After all that has happened to them while I was away, I owe it to them.” Turning to Silhouette, he continued, “Teela and her cats will come with me. She will help me and together we will help them!” Silhouette smiled and nodded a silent blessing to him.

Ix was next to take the floor and, with his lady love’s hand in his, he began his announcements. “Silhouette and I will be leaving our old lives behind as well. We are to be married, and have agreed to take a common name: Black.”
“Crunghin and Morgana Black,” Silhouette chimed in.
“Oh? Where do the Blacks plan to marry? Greyhawk?” Lyks asked.
“Anywhere among friends.” Ix replied.
“So are we to expect even more children, then?” Lyks ribbed, glancing at Drayden and Vortis. Silhouette and Ix turned to each other and chuckled, scoffing at the very idea. The rest of the party snickered in unison and the mood of the room was once again lightened.

As George entered with a pitcher of wine, Drayden stepped up and took the pitcher himself. He excused George so that he could fill his friends’ goblets personally. Drayden returned to his lover’s side and took up his goblet to begin a toast. “Friends, old and new,” he began, “I remember it like it was yesterday: a mysterious man came to Ket, requesting that I aid him in a quest with other strangers. As it would turn out, that mystery man was a powerful wizard who would unite me with strangers to travel the realms, keeping evil at bay whenever possible. Together with strangers like you, Ix and Lyks, we battled unfathomable evils. Together, these once and former strangers would become my brothers! From those humble beginnings in Ket, now here in this city… with the love of my life…” Drayden shut his eyes to dam up tears as he continued, “I remember the last words I heard my father speak to me. They were heated, and he just didn’t understand that the world was so full of wrongs to be righted and evils to be extinguished. He said to me:

“There’s no shame in coming back home, son. I’ll be here when you return.”

“This,” Drayden continued, regaining his composure, “this life hasn’t been easy for us. We have lost friends, family, and some of us have simply lost our way. It’s easy to give into sorrow, but we are heroes. We mourn and remember, but we too prevail as heroes! To you, my friends… companions, brothers and sisters, here and elsewhere, I toast to you!”

The party rose to their feet, joining Drayden in a heart-felt “huzzah!”, their goblets of wine spilling over the table as their cups collided! With that toast, the party enjoyed what would, for many of them, be their last meal together. Though the mood of the room was sentimental, little sadness was felt. All were brought together, and all who remained were thankful for the time spent together. Pimpleton Manor was once more alive with the sound of laughter and camaraderie, if only for a morning.

Meanwhile, Dablova (having absconded from the communal feast), left her hosts a note:

“Drayden,

Leaving you, all of you, is not easy. It is what must be done, though. My purpose is at its clearest now, and it extends far beyond the pettiness of this realm. I hope you understand, as a man who serves a higher purpose as well, that I must see this to fruition.

Please do not try to find us. Your efforts will be for nothing. When the time is right, you will have your child. I promise you this.

May the spirits guide and protect you both.

— Dablova”

With that, Dablova and her Familiar, Moloko, slipped out of the house and back onto the streets of Greyhawk to begin their journey back to Grynoth. Days later, the two were safely back in their home village. Dablova relayed her adventures to her sister Witches, who in turn secured the village with even more powerful spells of warding and abjuration. Under the watch and care of her sisters, Dablova readied herself for motherhood, but not before tying up one final end. Together with the village’s most powerful Abjurers and Evokers, Dablova called out to the disembodied Drow, Kr’zzt, one final time:

“Kr’zzt, hear us now. Though your spirit is strong, it still lingers in the ether, formless and homeless. Your body is now ash and your place at the Demon Queen of Spiders’ side is no more. The destruction of your body was but a glimpse of my power! You tried to stand in Fate’s way, and for that, you paid dearly. My sisters and I — as well as the champions of the stars — as long as we draw breath you will never know peace. Your spirit may be strong, but we are stronger. Hear us now, Drow. Stay hidden, you no longer have a place on this plane.”

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