Song of the Ages

The end of this road

You again, huh? I’m guessing you want to hear the end, don’cha? I suppose I can’t blame you, you’ve certainly put up enough with my stories that it’d be a shame to stop now. So, where was I? Right, one of those Celestial planes. We retrieved the last relic that was needed to open the vault, so we went to the City of the Dead itself. I guess it just go to show you how far we’ve come that we’re no longer bound to just traveling around this world, we can now travel to others too. As for the city itself, I admit I didn’t have much time to take it in. By the time we arrived, the lich had gathered what looked like every walking corpse and monster in the northern wastes and had set them to besiege the city with gusto. Fortunately, we weren’t alone. We brought everyone with us that we thought could help out, even meeting up with the souls of some of our old friends who were there in the city. Even that vampire girl we ‘helped’ showed up! That was surprising, but doesn’t change the fact that someone needs to stake her and her guild.

So our allies and the city’s defenders set to protecting the walls from the invaders, but we spotted a large dragon with the lich on its back swooping into the heart of the city and landing. Now, we assumed that leaving him with the vault would be a bad idea since, given enough time, I’m sure he could have figured a way into it without needing the relics we now had. So we decided to go down there and deal with him ourselves. Now, I mentioned what was in the vault, right? Right, Eadwig’s ‘spark’. Our purpose there was actually twofold. First, stop the lich from getting into the vault but second was destroying the spark with a ‘device’ that the gods gave us. That way, when that worm-eaten corpse finally pulled himself back together, he wouldn’t just keep trying again and again to get the spark.

So, we go running into the city and leave the defense of the walls to everyone else. Like I said, I wish I’d visited that place under better circumstances since the architecture I saw in our mad dash was such a strange yet intriguing blend of all styles, old and new, dwarf, human or elf, and I couldn’t stop and take it all in. Maybe now that things have died down… But anyways, back to the story. We found the dragon waiting for us in an empty plaza where it snarled and promised us death, yadda yadda yadda. Truth be told, the dragon guarding that tree was bigger and packed more wallop. Tasted better too. I suppose it did slow us down though, so maybe that’s why the lich left it where he did. Also left another of his allies, some kind of spectral knight, but he went down pretty quick too. I suppose the floating skull waiting for us next didn’t last long either, but it was an odd fight. After all, who knew a floating skull could scream that loud!

Nah, we managed to get through those all pretty quickly, and a good thing too since the next room was the vault entrance and the lich was studying it with quite a bit of interest. Now, this next part was more than a bit chaotic and I hesitate to tell it simply because it makes my blood run cold remembering how close we came to failing. I know people don’t believe me when I say it, but the fate of the world was on the line there and it was a close thing, far too close for my liking. We fought him, but he was a clever foe, kept doing things to trip us up and even managed to get us swayed under his magics long enough that we actually opened the vault door for him! I’m just glad that the mechanism for the door took a while to fully unlock, which gave us barely enough time to dispatch the wizard to whatever hole he crawled out of.

By the time it did open though, I was surprised by what we found on the other side. You know how all the priests and the gods themselves are all so quick to tell us that old Eadwig had died? Turns out it was a half-truth. He was just chained up in the vault with his chest ripped open and his ‘heart’ pulled out and surrounded in all kinds of eye-wrenching wards. We were going to deploy the device that the gods had given us to finish the job, when who do you think walked in and tried to talk us out of the whole thing?

Dax. Stone-blind, thrice-cursed Dax came in and pleaded with us to not use the device but rather to ‘take the power’ for ourselves. Or for himself. It all happened fairly quickly and there was a lot of shouting. We activated the device and he used his magic to jump past us and into the vault. Some of us followed, but most of us, including myself, hung back. Those that did jump in may have stopped Dax from taking that spark, but when the device went off… well, they were fortunate enough to barely get out of the way of a god-killing blow. Dax? Not so fortunate. I suppose I do feel bad for what happened to him, both that he gave into this temptation of godhood as well as getting cloven in twain like he did, but in the end it was his own dusted fault. So he died and Eadwig’s spark was ripped apart. Eadwig himself stirred and had enough time to laugh about it all before he died too.

So there you have it. We destroyed Eadwig’s spark before the lich, or anyone else, could get it. World saved, yay. Still have to pay for my own drinks though. Eh? You want to know if that was the end of the lich? No, not by a long shot. He’ll be back and we’ll have to deal with him again, but at least we stopped him from becoming a god. It’s easier to kill a lich than a god, and that’s saying something.

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Mother Earth
Wyllo

When asked by a being that you don’t actuallt believe in if the thing (person) you fight your battles for would ever do the same thing for you, what would you say? Would you doubt?

Would you care if you don’t believe in said being in the first place?

What do you do?

I don’t like being told that I’ve lost a lot. I don’t think about it because it just is the way it is, this life. Im a thief. I have some dark corners in my mind. I don’t believe in divine beings even when faced with them.

I don’t believe in people challenging me for my beliefs either. That nonsense is my own business.

So…when asked if Yoon would do for me what I would do for her, what do I say? That it’s her business. That I know my fight.

Because I don’t really know what else I’m fighting for. But goddesses who don’t have my back don’t deserve anything from me.

Except I got a boon from her. And I do like living on this plane…kind of. But what would it be like if I lost more of my purpose?

So: What would you say?

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Yoon -God of War

Wouldn’t that be great? Me, a God of War? No, I wasn’t promised anything by any God. This is just what I was thinking about while all the other patrons were discussing something about the end of the world. Really not relevant to me. Ha.

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Another story in Fulgen's notes

Once upon a time there was a brave giant mother named Kindle who lived in the mountains. She lived a long life, and commanded the flames to protect her and her kin. As she grew old she lost her sight, but still worked to forge weapons and armor for her hundred grandsons and granddaughters.
One day a prince from the north came to visit Kindle. He had heard of her skill, and asked for a wicked blade that could fell armies and trap their souls. Kindle refused him, saying that it was only right for her steel to protect her family and loved ones. The prince threatened her and then left.
The next day the prince returned with the heads of her eldest daughter and son in law. Kindle was furious and rose to kill him, but the prince fled her presence.
The second day the prince returned again. He told her that he had killed twenty of her grandchildren who had banded together for revenge upon him. He again demanded that she forge the sword he desired. Kindle reached out to strangle him again, but he fled once more.
The prince did not return for a week. When he did he brought a single child. “Behold,” the prince said to Kindle, “the last child of your bloodline. I have slain the rest. Give me what I wish or I shall kill this child now.”
Kindle replied, “I knew you would do this, and the blade is forged. Take it.” She gave him a hooked blade with a perfect edge, black as the night and smooth as glass. The prince laughed, and struck her down with it, but Kindle knew that the prince would do this. She dragged the prince into her forge as the sword stuck in her ribcage, and threw the both of them into its fires, and the flames consumed Kindle’s hall for six days and seven nights until the stones melted and filled five valleys.
Kindle’s great-grandchild, the last of her blood, survived this, and was raised by humans in a fishing village on the eastern coast.

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Heaven is a wild forest

Now, look down in here, will you? You see how this stout’s head is thick and foamy like this? Helps you really see the quality without even having to taste it, though I’ll be doing plenty of that too. After all, someone needs to make sure that Bree’s not watering down her drinks. Word gets out that she’s doing that and our reputation will be just undone faster than… What? I was in the middle of a topic quite near and dear to my heart and you want to hear more about heaven? If you hadn’t bought me this drink, I’d be insulted. What’s with that look? Ah, I see, you don’t believe what you heard about us going to meet the Aegis, do you? Well, I can’t convince you, but I can tell you the story so you’ve at least heard it from the horse’s mouth rather than gossip.

So, we’d just come back from Hell. We had some trouble with a crystal that Fulgen brought back from there, mostly because Fulgen actually got possessed by it, but fortunately we found him, subdued him and exorcized him before he could get into too much trouble. After that, we were contemplating where to go and what to do now. We had two of the three relics we knew that northern lich was after, but we weren’t too sure where to find the last one or if doing so would be a good idea. I mean, we didn’t have much of a plan aside from interfering with that undead wizard’s plans, but what if we were actually doing him a favor by gathering the items, or what would we do once we actually had them? He’s undead, so he could just wait until we’re all old and feeble and he’d be able to grab them from us.

It was in the middle of these questions that we suddenly found ourselves snatched up and plopped into the midst of the Aegis plus some. Now, I’ve talked a time or two about how I feel about your surface gods and all, but when you’re standing and facing one, you’ve got to at least respect the pure power you feel radiating off of them like heat from a forge. I might not worship any of them, before or after meeting them, but doesn’t mean I don’t respect their might and their goals. They spoke long and hard, perhaps too long but who was I to complain in the middle of this? Summed up, they knew about the lich and his plan, and they feared his success could destroy the world. However, they couldn’t interfere directly and had to rely on us to continue with what we were doing, even granting each of us a blessing to help us in doing that. Additionally, we found out that the last relic we needed was somewhere in one of the heavenly planes and, once we had them all gathered, we’d have to take them to the City of the Dead, no less. At that point, the gods could destroy the War God’s heart to deprive the lich of his end goal.

Oh, I never mentioned that, did I? So, you know that the gods can die, right? It’s not a big secret since it’s happened twice in mortal memory. But what happens to the spark of their power, their heart? Apparently that can’t be destroyed. So, when old Eadwig went mad and had to be killed, they couldn’t destroy his tainted heart. Instead, the gods simply hid it in a vault hidden somewhere and locked up by three relics scattered across the planes and the knowledge of how to retrieve them hidden in five sacred tomes, yadda yadda yadda. But we’d gathered those tomes, we learned of the vault and already had two of the relics. So if we could find it, so could his Deadness up north. So the gods finally found a way to destroy Eadwig’s heart rather than let the lich have his way and ascend to ultimate godhood. We just had to open the vault for them.

So, yeah. That was the plan. The gods sent us to Arcadia and we spent… you know, I don’t know rightly how long we were there. Some time, but time is funny there. And I wasn’t fixed on keeping time, I was more fixed on the wild perfection of the forest there. One of the residents there even foraged up some fruit and shared it with us. I swear, I never gave much thought to how I’d like to spend eternity, but for fruit like that, I just might start hoping I end up there. I wish I had brought some back, if just to try to brew some brandy with it or something. Fruit like that deserves to be properly fermented.

Now, apparently the gods had long ago planted some special tree somewhere in the forest to hide the last relic and we had to find it, but once we did, what did we find but an actual dragon’s lair built around it! I understand that it must be hard to keep an entire plane free of all things evil and nasty, but you’d think the Aegis would notice if an ancient dragon had managed to slip into one of their heavens! Either way, we managed to put it down for them, though I’m not sure what would happen to the creature’s soul in that situation. If you die in heaven, does your soul just stay or does it still go elsewhere depending on your nature? I’ll have to pick the chapel priest’s brain about that thought.

Maybe after I’m done with testing this mug.

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Fulgen's Magic Notes

Sketches don’t cut it for the anti-you-know-who sigils. We need this or we’ll die pretty much instantly.

The positive and negative energies need to be balanced. The black dog chases the white cat. Looks like it needs hard truths, powerful and relevant. This is painful to manifest…

Wyllow: I’m envious of the storybook hero you’ve turned out to be. Being able to see it and tell the story takes the edge off.

Yun: Seeing you two fills me with regret. How much more could I do for my sister?

Mosey: Every setback feels like the end of the world to me. I’d curl up and die if I went through half what you went through.

Faron: I get angry every time I see you and think of what she threw away. I guess that makes me a hypocrite.

Belfren: I fear the gods because they narrate our lives. If I was in that position, wouldn’t I want drama more than peace?

Me: ~

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I really could use a drink

So I’m captured by a bunch of devils and taken to this large castle in their city. Alice seemed calm enough with the whole thing and I suppose I wasn’t too worried about what tortures awaited us. I’ve felt pain, quite a bit of it actually, so I’m not worried about that. Maybe I was concerned about the fate of my soul, but that’s still a bit removed from my mind at the time. The fact that I’d been seeing things that weren’t there? Now, that shook me to my very core. After all, if there’s something wrong with the body, I would be able to at least know it. If there was something wrong with my mind, how would I know?

I spent a lot of time in that cell with those thoughts running through my mind, getting nowhere fast. As a matter of fact, I was nearly overjoyed when they trotted in the rest of my friends bound in chains. Alice could see them, so I knew they had to be real enough and who cared about them also being prisoners at that point! They were real and that was more than enough for this worried dwarf. Once our jailers left, they quickly produced a key and began letting everyone out of their cells. Turns out they’d struck a deal with one of the denizens down here (and don’t even get me started with how bad of an idea that sounded like) to sneak them into this castle, where we were supposed to be able to find the item we’d come down here for. Their brilliant plan? Be turned over to the castle with a way to get free. Can’t say I liked the plan, but fortunately I wasn’t there to complain about it. I was just fortunate that they’d ended up in the same jail as I was.

We freed ourselves, killed a jailer and found our gear. We then wound through the hallways of the keep until we found ourselves in a throne room. Now, I’ve seen a few devils in my time, more than I care for, but most of them at least look ferocious. Fangs, claws, that whole thing, you know? The bloated creature on that throne was far from that. Not that it wasn’t scary in its own right, but it was just so ridiculously fat and yet smaller than most of the devils we’d seen so far. It almost screamed at us to underestimate it. I suppose I did since I spent most of my time hammering away at the other devils that appeared to aid the fat one, but those of my friends that did go after that blob found quite the fight on their hands. We were fortunate to be able to put it down and I only found out afterwards that it was none other than a general of Hell itself. Not what I’d expected for such a daunting title.

Hanging over the vanquished blob’s throne was the item we came for, the axe of none other than Eadwig himself! And what an axe it was, so massive that I wasn’t sure anyone else in our party could even lift it, needless to say wield it. I lumbered on up, grabbed the thing and we used Fulgen’s magic to flee back to our realm before more devils came to avenge their fallen general. I was more than glad to be rid of the place, and we even managed to bring both Alice and a small child along with us too, so you could even call it a rescue! I say that calls for you buying me a round!

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Hell is a state of mind

So this next bit is weird. And believe me, I’ve been so far down into the Deep that I’ve come out the other side. I’ve been to every country worth calling itself such and some that deserve hardly a moment’s notice. But this part was just weird.

So, we finally finished gathering those books imbued with some goddess’ missing wits, but now we were supposed to go around and find what she referred to as ‘keys’ so that we can foil that northern lich once and for all. The first one wasn’t bad. You remember us going to that besieged fort? Yeah, there was one in the hidden tombs underneath it. The next one? Well, apparently it was in Hell itself. Yes, I said Hell. Now, mind you, we dwarves don’t put much focus on the place. That’s where you go afterwards, not us. Granted, the lines a bit blurry with some saying we could end up there and others saying we’d have our own all to ourselves, but Hell itself doesn’t get brought up as often as I’ve heard you surfacers do. So the thought of intentionally going there just filled me with all kinds of heebie-jeebies.

Imma share a secret now, something that might cause people to avoid this place if they knew about it even though it shouldn’t be an issue now, but in the cellar here there’s a room that had a Hellmouth, a literal portal to Hell. We found it soon after we took over the keep and had to kill something that had just crawled out of it, but just plugged it up as best we could until we found out we had to go there. It’s not there anymore, so don’t hop up outta your seat on me, but it still was when we found out we had to go there, so we decided how else were we going to go there? We prepared as best we could, then shuffled over and started jumping in. As luck would have it, I was the last one in and, for whatever reason, the Hellmouth was having trouble swallowing me.

Yeah, I know how that sounds. Believe me, it felt worse. You may be thinking it was just some portal, but this was more a literal mouth and throat that connected the two places together. I’m sure scholars can explain why it’s like that, but I’m not them. So, it’s just how it is.

So, I’m sliding down this massive gullet and I somehow get stuck. It’s squeezing me hard, the place reeks of all things awful and I’m already on edge just knowing where we’re headed. Not my best day. Well, that’s when I decide I’ll attack the damned thing. Can’t say how I thought that’d make things any better, but I can’t say I was thinking clearly at that point. I start biting and clawing, I mean hitting, all around me. Next thing I know, I’ve ripped a hole in the side of the throat and I get sucked out into darkness. Somewhere between this world and the next and I’m just twirling off into the void, yelling and cursing until I black out.

My bad day had just gotten worse.

When I wake up, I’m at least happy to see I’m not alone. Most of the others are with me and we’re in some kind of stone maze. Winds are howling as we begin to explore and occasionally we run into other things wandering the maze, but looking back I’m pretty convinced that they were just lost in there, like I was. We leave some alone, we kill some, but after what seemed like only two days, we finally find an exit to the maze and I’m left standing on a cliff, overlooking something that was both less and yet more than I’d expected. I’d expected a lot more fire and brimstone, what I got was an endless plain where the ground itself seemed to be made of flesh itself, like I was just a flea on the back of something rotting yet somehow alive. I could see a few buildings, most made of the same flesh beneath my feet, but some made of honest to goodness stone. Doesn’t matter that those buildings looked like ruins or twisted versions of something you’d see in this realm, I nearly started crying to see actual stone in this insane world of skin.

I only found out after the fact that I’d been wandering around in a place called Pandemonium and had finally come to the Abyss, with Hell located somehow within the Abyss. I didn’t know that then though, so I was just lost. My friends had been behaving oddly ever since we’d entered that maze and though they were able to help me fight and kill some of the monsters we’d come across inside, their magic wasn’t working the way it should have been. Fulgen could conjure food and water, but I couldn’t touch the stuff, somehow. I’d ask them questions and would sometimes get answers, but nothing that, in hindsight, I didn’t know myself or couldn’t have figured out myself. I wasn’t paying attention to that though, but do keep it in mind because it threw me for a loop later on.

We made our way down the cliff and out onto the Abyss itself and met a human who had accidentally found her own Hellmouth. She was at least armed and armored, but she had been down here longer than I had and was more than a little touched in the head, if you know what I mean. I’m not sure how much of it was being in the Abyss and how much of it was from her formerly-mad goddess, but talking to her was odd in the extreme. We’d be talking and she’d seem at least sane, but then she’d start ignoring my friends and not responding to their questions or suggestions. I figured her mind was misfiring just like Fulgen’s had been when we saved him from the lich’s trap, so I didn’t push it.

Alice, that being her name and all, and I did follow a group she’d seen in the distance that did sound a lot like my own. We went to one of the nearby ruins only to find yet another Hellmouth. Not knowing what else to do, we went it and, luckily for us and for it, it spat us out where it was supposed to- Hell. Again, not as much fire as I’d been picturing, but the place was indeed hot. Felt like walking around inside of a forge. And wouldn’t you know it, there’s a whole city down there! Granted, it seemed full of nothing but devils and, upon entering, we killed an imp because why not? It’s an imp! That’s what you do around here, right? Turns out you don’t do that down there. We ended up surrounded by devils demanding our surrender and my friends just up and vanished on me, leaving just Alice and me against a whole city of fiends.

Yeah, my bad day just kept on going, didn’t it?

So we surrendered. Now here’s the real kick in the head. Remember when I said that maze was a place called Pandemonium? Turns out it’s a place brimming with madness and hallucinations. My friends who helped me get out of there? All in my head. Yeah, Alice was crazy, but it didn’t make her wrong when she told me I came out of those caves alone. So, I was now prisoner to devils in a city in the pits of Hell, with only a madwoman by my side and I couldn’t even be sure if what I was seeing was real anymore.

My bad day had just hit rock bottom.

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I don’t think we’re getting out alive...
Farin

Found myself in a place I’ve always wanted to explore: the abyss. Only place I can kill fiends and they’ll stay dead.
Can’t say it’s been pleasant. The experience has taken a toll on everyone and I don’t think we’ll all be getting out alive.
I’m concerned about completing our quest. Getting the axe may not be possible without some serious sacrifices.
If it comes to it, than I’ll do what needs to be done.

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Another Entry From Fulgen's Journal

Abyss, Day 1:
Brought a pound of salt to help with the conjured food. Best decision I ever made.

Day 2:
Yoon likes it here way too much

Day 3:
If I get trapped in the Abyss and only get to bring two things with me, I’m taking Wyllo and this bag of salt.

Day 4:
Bag of salt is now a serious contender for top adventuring equipment. I might have to make it more important than crowbar.

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