Chains of Fate Vol. II

Chapter 20: Epilogue

“The Cavaliers!” Jim cried from atop his destrier, “the Cavaliers have arrived!”

The heroes were saved!


Z, in his tower, witnessed Brom’s death, the moment the Cavaliers burst into his tower. Before he could warn the others, he had to flee. He teleported to their side in Dunmer Glen.
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Suddenly, a golden shafted arrow erupted from Jim’s chest. Followed by another, and another. Captain Jim fell from his horse, dead before he hit the ground.

The Cavaliers fell upon the heroes, raining arrows down from upon their griffons. Roberts took to his wyvern and pursued the Grey Knight (commander of the Cavaliers) into the sky. The two battled, the Grey Knight experienced at aerial combat, locked in mortal conflict. Until finally Roberts triumphed.

Yet they still were doomed. Kat and Vantrag were among the few survivors on the ground, and they were hardpressed. Z arrived, slaying the blademaster about to kill Kat as he appeared. Vantrag was horribly wounded before they could get to him.

Then, just as things seemed most dire, a fleet of airships rushed down from above. At the head came Gish, and with them flew Davros, atop a fearsome blue dragon.

They smashed through the Cavaliers, and quickly loaded the remaining heroes aboard.

Then they made a fighting retreat, repulsing boarding Cavaliers, with Roberts in a fit of rage, into the astral sea, leaving Cavalonia, and their hope, far behind…

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Chapter 19: Part Two: The Battle of the Shard

The heroes used the same potions to enter the Abyss that they had used the last time they visited Yeenoghu’s realm. Yet this time they brought Nykyr with them. They arrived in the Salt Wastes and immediately set off for Demogorgon’s forest. With the help of the deathknight they were able to navigate their way safely through.

As they exited they arrived atop a cliff deep within the Abyss. Far below them, a battle raged. They could see hordes of Gnolls and armies of Demons clashing in ferocious battle. And then, a legion of elementals who marched upon both armies, led by a fearsome warrior, who slew masses of gnolls and demons with impunity.

Not the sort to waste any time, they lept into the fray.

Nykyr stepped forward off the cliff, calmly as ever.

Oris launched himself forward, swan-diving toward the ground below.

Brom jumped forward as well, unsheathing the mighty Sword of the Grey as he fell.

Kor began scrambling downwards, and Argos loosed a trio of arrows before quickly doing the same.

Nykyr landed, his legs locked straight, and paused a moment to shake off the fall, before charging forward. Meanwhile, Oris landed and rolled, launching himself into the battle. Brom stabbed his blade into the cliff face, slowing himself and landing safely upon the ground.

The heroes rushed forward, cleaving their way through the demonic hordes. And then they met the warrior they had seen from atop the cliff. He told them his name was Valrec Praeveron, and he seemed to know of their friend, Roberts. Yet there wasn’t much time for conversation. Only enough for simple introductions, and to determine that they were on the same side. With that, they launched themselves toward the center of the battle.

A great black shard, gleaming like a fallen, misshapen pillar of glass. The whole battle seemed to revolve around it, and it glistened like it was feeding off the chaos. The heroes cleaved their way toward it. Toward Tharizdun. Their goal was to get Brom to it, so that he might destroy it with the Sword of the Grey.

As they approached, they came upon Yeenoghu and Oris rushed off to hold him. Further on they happened upon Nagil, and this time Nykyr broke off to fight him.

Yet the others pressed on toward the Shard.

As they drove forward, Oris was overwhelmed. Surrounded by Yeenoghu’s minions, the deva was outmatched. Yeenoghu took him up in his hand, and crushed the life from him.

The others felt his loss over One Heart, One Mind, yet they didn’t have the time to grieve. They were just reaching the shard. Kor broke off as they neared, to hold back the Gnolls pursuing them. He held briefly, until a gnollic axe cleaved into his skull and he fell dead as well.

Finally, Brom reached the Shard. He drew back, to stab his blade deep into the foul thing—when suddenly, a sword erupted from his chest. It drew back, and a rough hand to his shoulder spun him around.

Before him stood Argos, bloodied blade in hand. “I’m sorry Brom,” the traitor spoke, as Brom Smith fell dead at his feet.

Nagil then descended upon the shard, and only Valrec stood in his way.

The battlemage turned, and struck at the Shard himself, yet his blade was no use. He looked for the Sword of the Grey, but it had vanished. He turned then, rising in the air, and vanished in a flash of light.

Argos kneeled by the shard, looking up at Nagil, “My lord, the Shard is yours.”

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Chapter 19: Part One: The Battle of the Three Passes

There were three key mountain passes connecting Krios to Cavalonia. The first, in the west, was a narrow path, with a sheer cliff face to one side, and the sea far below to the other. It was there that Excelsior would lead the Lycans in their stand. To the west was a winding canyon pass, with sheer stone walls on either side. That was where Captain Jim and his men would hold back the enemy horde. Between the two was a wide, heavily wooded pass higher in the mountains. It was there that Roberts, Vantrag, and Kat would hold with the main host.

The heroes and their men fought nobly as the enemies came on. The disciplined Cavalonian infantry and newly minted militia soldiers held fast in the center pass, inspired by the sight of Roberts at their lead. They crushed the enemy’s advances and halted him dead in his tracks. Yet, as night fell the foe sent infiltrators slipping past the lines: Drow blademasters and assassins, who were eventually hunted down and either driven back or exterminated, but not before wreaking havoc, and leaving Roberts in no position to hold his position, especially with the word he had been receiving from the other passes.

To the west, the battle had gone well at the start. Excelsior’s ferocious lycanthropes met with shock troops from Straad, and dealt them grave blows. Yet the Lycans were rather few, and Straad had legion upon legion. Excelsior acquitted himself well, slaying many foes. Until finally he came upon a great warrior and general of Straad. A grisled minotaur veteran wielding a fearsome greatsword. The two met in epic battle, and in the end each died as they fell off the cliffs to their doom. Shortly after this, Excelsior’s lycans were routed, retreating en masse before the advancing hordes of Straad.

To the east, they had not fared much better. Jim and his men fought well and bravely against their foes, but again, Straad was simply too numerous to be defeated. When he heard of Excelsior’s demise, and Roberts being forced to retreat, Jim ordered that the main body of his remaining force retreat as well, to aid Roberts in further battle. Meanwhile, Jim and a few brave volunteers remained behind to buy them time.

Roberts met with the remnants of Jim’s force in the ancient woods of Dunmer Glen. There he decided to make one final stand, in an effort to hold the armies of Straad until the Cavaliers could arrive, and Brom hopefully destroy the Shard.

They didn’t even have time so much as to mourn for their dead, for they were soon set upon by the armies of Straad. The battle was dire and hard-fought. While Roberts’ men fought well, it was plain that they would soon perish, for the forces of Straad were simply too many.

Then at one point things took a turn for the better, when Jim and his rearguard arrived, striking through the enemy’s flank, and breaking the encirclement for a moment. But it was a short-lived victory, as once again they were quickly surrounded.

And that is when the shining Cavaliers arrived…

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Chapter 18

The party returned to Cavalonia, with a whole new problem on their hands. According to Asmodeus, the threat was not Straad, but instead Nagil, the evil sorcerer from Roberts’ dreams, who was making an attempt to invade the Abyss and take the Shard of Darkness.

While preparing and searching for a way to stop Nagil, they sent word to the Army of Bahamut of their true foe, and Roberts and Oris carried out their devious mission.

Together, without informing the others, they assassinated the King-Regent, and successfully framed his elder son, Marcus.

Marcus was sentenced to death by the new King-Regent, none other than Argos, who had little choice when confronted with charges of regicide.

At much the same time they learned of a massive force out of Straad, which had allied itself with a number of the cities of Krios, and was marching upon Cavalonia from the north.

Thus they devised their final plan.

Roberts, Excelsior, Vantrag, Kat, and Captain Jim would march north, with whatever strength they could muster (the lycans whom Excelsior had freed agreed to fight for him), and attempt to hold the three mountain passes between Krios and Eritrea.

Meanwhile; Oris, Brom, Nykyr, Argos, and Kor would travel to the heart of the Abyss, to destroy the Shard of Darkness.

All the while, Z would sit in his tower and monitor the situation, keeping the two groups connected and helping however he could.

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Chapter 17

Now, aside from the absence of the Army of Bahamut, they were prepared to march upon the Nine Hells.

Unwilling to wait however long it might take for them to arrive, the party decided to move forward alone. Instead of an all-out assault on the Nine Hells backed by the might of the Army of Bahamut, they would infiltrate their way to Nessus, at the very deepest depth of the Hells, and confront Asmodeus himself.

They decided that they would travel to the Nine Hells by sailing their new airship (built for them by the grateful Cavalonians) through the Astral Sea. The Githyanki, Gish, whom Roberts had saved from the Cavaliers, volunteered to help them navigate, as he was quite familiar with the Astral realm. They were likewise accompanied by Cailen and Fenris (the leader of the werewolves whom the party had aided). Gelena, Cailen’s wife, wanted desperately for him to remain behind. They had just learned she was with child, and she wanted him to remain safe. Yet Cailen could never allow his friends, who had sacrificed so much for him, face such a challenge alone, and so he went forth with them.

The party set off, and thanks to Gish (who left, rather opportunistically, with a passing Githyanki fleet as they approached their destination), they were able to make it to the Nine Hells. The landing was a bit rocky, and left their airship a wreck upon the wastes.

They set off toward Nessus nonetheless, leaving Excelsior behind to perform a ritual to repair the ship. He finished and, using his incredible speed, caught up with them before long.

They descended deeper and deeper into the Hells, with the environment providing the greatest challenge. They split up to sneak through the city of Dis. Most made it through alright (Brom and Fenris ran into a tight-spot, but they were able to dispatch the devils who suspected them and continue uninterrupted), until Oris and Kat were found out. They retreated into an alley, but were soon boxed in on either side. The rest of the party began to converge on them to help, for they were very badly outnumbered.

The others arrived and began to provide assistance while Kat and Oris began scaling the building in an effort to reach the rooftop where the others (Roberts, Vantrag, Z, Cailen and Excelsior) were perched. Just as they reached the top, a chain devil lashed out, snaring Kat’s foot and dragging her back down. The others were forced to leave her, as other devils began pouring onto the roof.

The remaining party members escaped Dis unscathed and continued on toward Nessus, with only their morale shattered.

Eventually, they came to Asmodeus’ realm. There they fought the God of Power, and, while he killed Fenris and dealt Cailen a mortal blow, Brom finally landed the blow that felled him, wielding the Sword of the Grey.

Yet Asmodeus surrendered before they killed him, and began to bargain. He told them that he was not at all behind the goings on in the world, as Nykyr and the Army of Bahamut had suspected. Instead, it was the doings of a powerful sorcerer known as Nagil. The mage from Roberts’ dreams.

He agreed to end his war against Cavalonia if they would spare him. Armed with the knowledge of the true culprit behind the evil besetting the world, and not wanting to leave the Nine Hells under the control of the other chief devils with whom they had no arrangements, the party agreed.

As they were leaving Asmodeus approached Oris and Roberts, offering them a deal. He said that he would return Kat to them, if they would assassinate the King-Regent of Cavalonia and frame his firstborn son.

Undecided, they left with the others, returning to their ship, and sailing back to Cavalonia.

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Chapter 16

Before they went marching into Hell however, they had a bit of a reprieve. In recognition of their valorous acts, the King-Regent of Cavalonia gave to them a fiefdom. Roberts was declared Baron, Z was given a fully outfitted mage’s tower, Brom was inducted into the Cavaliers, and Cavalonia began to build them a marvelous new airship.

Oris and Excelsior went north to Eritrea, where Oris lived amongst the common-folk, tilling the land; and Excelsior journeyed forth into the Fang, to hone his skills.

Some moons later they were drawn back together at Roberts’ estate, as they had originally planned. Not much more than a tenday earlier Roberts had been on a hunt with the Duke of Westingshire when the two were attacked by drow assassins. Westingshire was killed, but somehow Roberts, and Roberts alone, had managed to survive.

During the feast the other heroes were finally able to discern that it was not Roberts at all, but in fact a doppleganger by the name of Bartimaeus. They interogated him and learned that Roberts had actually been captured by the drow, and taken off to the Underdark.

The last images Roberts had were of a mindflayer, beginning to works its tentacles into his skull…

He awoke some time later, at the behest of an angry looking drow, then again, all drow look rather upset. Roberts quickly identified this drow to be a blademaster, and then he further identified him to be the very blademaster who had helped him and his friends escape the city on their last jaunt through the deep underground.

The drow, Vantrag by name, helped Roberts to escape once more, this time coming with him. Vantrag even taught Roberts the secrets of two-bladed fighting.

They then travelled through Krios, to a port city, where they booked passage to Cavalonia.

Once again the party was united. Now they were ready for war.

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Chapter 15

War was brewing in Cavalonia. Luckily, the heroes, along with the Army of Bahamut, had a plan. They would repulse the invasion of Straad, and then launch an attack at Asmodeus directly, feet first into the nine hells.

Straad attacked from two avenues. The first was a land invasion in the south. Thousands of their troops, ranging from men to orcs to wargs, landed unnopposed on the beaches of south-western Cavalonia.

The Cavalonians planned to hold them at Worchester Pass, the only path out of the great valley they had landed in. The battle would be a desperate one, as the majority of the heroes army was composed of militia, with a complement of some four hundred Andarran rangers, about a hundred Cavaliers, almost a thousand men out of Westingshire, and a couple hundred medium cavalry. Their plan was just to hold the enemy within the valley until the main force of the Cavaliers could mobilize to crush them.

They had to hold, for should the enemy break out of the valley, then they would be free to roam across southern Cavalonia. They would undoubtedly disperse and wreak whatever havoc they could. It might take many years and thousands of innocent lives to finally be rid of them. And if they broke out with enough of their force remaining, the city of Westingshire was only a few miles beyond the pass.

After days of battle, and thousands of casualties on both sides (including the heroes complement of Andarran rangers) they were forced to fall back. But Roberts, who was commanding the battle from afar, had other ideas. Through a brilliant ruse, and with the aid of the full force of Westingshire, Straad’s army was crushed long before the Cavaliers arrived.

Meanwhile Roberts led, in person, one of the greatest naval battles Cavalonia had ever seen. They were outnumbered and outgunned by the forces of Straad, much as they had been in the south, but ultimately they were victorious, though it cost them nearly their entire navy.

In the end, victory was theirs, as was the offensive.

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Chapter 14

The party sent Kat, in the Debauchery, to collect Oris. On their way back they stopped at Xanthia and Oris completed his holy task.

The team was finally back together. They then assisted some Lycans in overthrowing their vampire overlords, and Excelsior gave the Lycans the power to decide their own fate. Following that adventure, and Z’s encounter (and joining) with Infinity, they decided to investigate the cause of Roberts’ coma.

Through his dream much of his past came back to him. He saw himself as a young man, stranded on a boat in the middle of a vast ocean, dying of thirst. He saw the woman he had once loved, and his child. He saw himself murder them ruthlessly.

He saw Nagil.

Nagil was a part of him, part of his mind. Nagil had put a piece of his soul within the Dread Pirate. Roberts was a horcrux. But he had defeated Nagil, supressing the fiend as he tried to take full possession. Though while Roberts was no longer bothered by Nagil’s presence in his head, that could not change the fact that he was still there.

The party set out to find some way to rid Roberts of his curse. What they found they had to do would be no easy task.

They had gone to the Army of Bahamut in search of answers, which is how they knew all that they did. There they met back up with Argos, who had gone off with some agents of the Army just after the initial attack on Fieldan. The Army of Bahamut, with Nykyr’s help, had discovered clues leading them to believe that Asmodeus was responsible for the mounting evil throughout Akaron. As such the decision had been made to travel to Cavalonia (birthplace of the Army of Bahamut) and their oppose the Empire of Straad, Asmodues’ earthly kingdom, which was preparing invasion.

The party decided that they would depart for Cavalonia aboard their warship, just after they collected the basilisk’s blood that they would need to destroy the horcrux of Nagil. Argos decided to go with them.

They killed a basilisk, and collected its blood, then sailed to the Wastes of Brimstone where they captured a pheonix. Using the combination of basilisk’s blood and pheonix tears that Z was able to concoct, they destroyed the horcrux within Roberts’ mind, and set off for Cavalonia.

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Chapter 13

Shortly after leaving the Avenger Academy the party and their airship came under attacked. They were ambushed by a raiding party of Githyanki air pirates. They won the fight, and pursued the githyanki back to a small base they had established in the mountains. Seeking vengeance they attacked.
…Meanwhile, Roberts had finally emerged from his coma, after reliving some of the worst moments of his life, namely the day that the voice in his mind took control, forcing him to murder his own wife and child. Roberts had won the battle of wills with the mysterious voice, and gained significant powers of mental will. He could project his will onto others, allowing him to be able to convince them of his opinions much more easily, and he had become immune to psionic attacks, such as those of the mindflayers he despised. He had learned, while in his comatose state, that his mind was a horcrux for the evil wizard Nagil. While he had finally silenced the wizard, and Nagil could no longer control or compel him, the foul caster’s soul remained within him.
Roberts and the Cavaliers of the outpost he was staying at had received word of a githyanki pirate base in the Great Rim, so they set out upon their griffin mounts to destroy it.
The two groups, the main party in the airship, and Roberts along with the Cavaliers, arrived at the pirate base at the same time. Their attacks coincided and the githyanki never stood a chance. After the battle they found some loot, and Roberts discovered a wyvern egg, which he kept to himself. The also managed to take one of the githyanki prisoner. The Cavalier captain wanted to execute the pirate, but Roberts turned on him and freed the prisoner. The party then fled on their airship, along with one of the small githyanki airships they had captured.
…Meanwhile…Oris was progressing through his Avenger training, though he was making no friends. Still, the difficulties were nothing if he could only appease his god. The day finally came when Oris graduated, and once again achieved the rank of Avenger of Pelor…

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Chapter 12
The party ascended through the Underdark, taking the only passage they could find. Eventually they emerged in a small valley, still far above the Nentir Vale or the Lands of Dawn, right in the middle of the Dawnforge mountains. Roberts mysteriously slipped deeply into a feverish coma as they emerged from the caves. In the valley they found a Cavalier outpost, and strangely enough a wooden sailing ship. The cavaliers said that it had been part of a project to put a cavalonian fleet into the Lake Nen by attaching a balloon filled with hot air to the ship and flying it over. The plan had failed however, and the ship had crash landed in the valley. Cavalonia had abandoned the project, but established a small outpost at the crash site to keep an eye on the mountain range and the Nentir Vale. The cavaliers offered to let the heroes take the airship if they could repair it, and offered to let Roberts (who was in no condition for travel) remain with them. Excelsior used a ritual to repair the airship, and they set off in that, using Z’s magical fire to keep them aloft. By midday the next day they were somewhere in the Great Rim. They were running low on provisions, and so they set down in a valley to hunt and forage for food. While they were at camp in the valley Brom discovered a mysterious path, which he followed to a mysterious shack. As he approached the hut a voice beckoned from within, he entered and found a small old woman inside. Somehow the man knew his name, and he knew of the Sword that Brom carried. He told Brom that he had to seek out Davros the Elder, deep within the Wastes of Brimstone, and train under him before he would be able to wield the true power of the Sword of the Grey and defeat the evil that threatened the world. Brom returned and told his companions of what he had seen and heard. The very next day the party set out south, to the Wastes. They encountered a thunderstorm along the way and nearly crashed, but thankfully they were able to pull up just in time. The flight through the Wastes was harrowing and dangerous, but through their skill and sheer luck they were able to survive. They came to Davros’ hut, and Brom went forth to gain admittance. Davros was a potbellied old drunkard and he rejected Brom at first, until he smelled the borovian whiskey in the flask Oris had given to the young warrior. Davros turned out to be much more than he had at first seemed, and Brom learned much. Above all Brom learned the value of his companions, and Davros taught him that a warrior’s true strength came from his comrades.

The party then left the Wastes and Davros behind, heading north once more for Oris had experienced a vision from Pelor himself. In the vision Oris saw a town that was riddled with strife, evil, and corruption. Pelor told him that to regain his Avenger status he needed cleanse the town of its evil. But before he could do that he had to travel to the Avenger Academy in the mountains of the Great Rim, just south of Nerath, and relearn what it meant to be and Avenger of Pelor. The party set off from the Wastes of Brimstone to aid Oris in his quest. On their way north Kat taught him the art of the assassin, a valuable skill for an avenger. One useful skill she taught him was the ability to cast himself off nearly any height, and land without harm. Kat and Oris grew to be good friends throughout his training. Finally they came to the Avenger Academy. Oris elected to remain there for a time, while the others went off without him, promising to return…

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