Scales of War

Interlude: The Death of Bahamut

The mighty dragonborn, Valasaar Moonscale kneels on the floor as the echos of his anguished screams fade from the hall. He remains motionless, head in hands as The Dawnriders stand in stunned silence at the news. Valasaar reaches out with his divine power to feel the strength of Bahamut, as he has done throughout his years of devotion to The Platinum Dragon, but all he can feel is a cold, empty void. It is true, Bahamut is dead.

The bells continue to ring out across Sayre mourning the loss of the god. Valasaar looks up at Raechela, the grief in her eyes was almost as great as his own. “How can this be?” His usually loud voice is quiet as he asks the question he already knows the answer to. Tiamat has won, the ritual has been cast; he is too late. Suddenly his expression changed to pure rage, his skin colour deepening as he smashed his armoured fist into the floor. “DAMN HER!!!! I will rip each of her heads off” He stands, rushes to a nearby table and upturns it, spilling its contents across the floor. Red wine creeps slowly over the tiles of the hall.

Valasaar turns to Marcus, his wings stretching in agitation. “What can we do my old friend? You have the answers. Tell me you know what to do.” He sounds desperate as he approaches the Sage placing his hands on his shoulders and looking into his concerned face.

Marcus pauses for thought, focusing his mind past his own sense of shock at the death of a god and the distress of his friend. He casts his mind over the details of the ritual and his own understanding of the nature of divinity before answering, “It might be possible, certainly it would take further consideration, but Bahamut passed some of his power, his essence, into you before he died so he is not truely lost. Given the nature of the ritual I feel it was unlikely that Bahamut was entirely unaware of the danger, and he certainly had the time to plan a response. Consider his assistance in mines of Karak, he clearly had some purpose for the Dawnriders. That purpose may have been to thwart the ritual before completion, of course, but that seems unlikely given the indirect nature of his involvement. It seems more likely that the final steps in Bahamut’s plan have yet to be revealed.”

A thought seems to strike Marcus then and he holds up a hand to forestall any questions while he considers it. “I must go to the university at once. There are some texts which may cast new light on things.”

Valasaar nods slowly and releases a breath he didn’t know he was holding. “Thank you Marcus. I will come with you.”

The door to the coalition chambers bursts open and, his small frame silhouetted against the light from outside, Kalad stands in the entrance way. “Dawnriders, you are returned! And yet, this is not the day for rejoicing it could be.” Kalad seems even more dour than usual, almost as if he is confused that the Dawnriders could ever be at the centre of such catastrophe. His faith in his friends is shaken. “I fear there is yet more grim news you may not be aware of.”

“More grim news? Against the death of Bahamut, what else could be worthy of note?” Marcus asks with weary cynicism.

“Amyria is unwell. I know this pales in comparison to the news we have all experienced but it is yet more bad news at a time we cannot afford it.”

The Cleric turns towards Kalad. “Take me to her. I will see what ails her and do all I can. Marcus, I will meet you in the University.”

Kalad takes Valasaar to see Amyria. It is obvious a heavy toll is exerting itself upon her, her grey skin is drawn and has taken on a sickly cast, her eyes are feverish and her normally distinct white and violet markings seem faded, almost clouded over. Valasaar removes his gauntlets and places his hand on her damp forehead. Despite his healing skill, Valasaar is unsure what is ailing Amyria. The malady seems to be internal, not from a virus or disease of any sort.

Amyria’s eye flicker open at the touch and she smiles, weakly. “Valasaar, it is good to see you again. Since the fall of the Platinum Dragon, my sleep has been wracked by increasingly vivid visios. Each night I see myself pierced through with an arrow of bone wrapped with sinew and
flesh and adorned with burning runes. Silver-chased blood spreads from my wounds and runs from the head of the arrow. The power of these visions is frightening and ancient beyond explanation, but I cannot describe them as evil or malicious.”

Amyria pauses as a coughing fit causes her to convulse.

“I know these visions to be a gift, a last gift from Bahamut to his beleaguered children. The artifact from the visions is the key; it must somehow be able to foil Tiamat’s foul schemes.”

“An arrow of bone, you say, wrapped in sinew and flesh and covered in runes? Have you heard of such an artifact?” Valasaar is renewed by this thin ray of hope.

“I don’t know what this artifact is, but I know it represents our only hope in these dark times. Find it, and with it, find our salvation.”

“Thank you Amyria. I know a man who might be able to help, if there is anything I can do to ease your suffering please let me know.” Valasaar turns and strides purposefully to the window and dives out into the open air. His great wings unfurl and he swoops down to the University, racing to give Marcus the news. He lands heavily at the entrance and without missing a step strides through the marble halls searching for the sage. The robed students and scholars give him a wide berth as he approaches the Great Library where the Dragonborn finds Marcus Brandale surrounded by librarians carrying armfuls of ancient texts, parchments and scrolls.

“Too speculative… Based on a faulty interpretation of Mordenkainen’s third law of contagion… The last known Urn of Osiris was used years ago… Why are you bothering to store that in the primary archives?… Necromancy is not an option…” Marcus directs the flurry of activity around him, dismissing scrolls and bound volumes alike as fast as the assembled students and librarians bring them to him.

“Valasaar,” he says, suddenly spotting his friend looming above the throng of brown robes, “I wasn’t expecting to see you here so soon. I’m afraid I’ve only narrowed it down to seventeen possibilities at this stage and am having trouble” – he dismisses another student with a wave of his hand – “finding the necessary information.”

Valasaar wades through the robed figures to reach Marcus. “Amyria is wracked by visions of an arrow of bone wrapped in strips of flesh and covered in runes. In the visions she is pierced by it. Do you know of this artifact?”

“Did she happen to describe the runes?” Taking the look of confusion on the dragonborn’s face for an answer, Marcus swiftly continued, “Hmm, no matter, given the context it seems most likely she is referring to the Arrow of Fate. But for obvious reasons we won’t be seeking that particular item.”

Valasaar seems concerned at this news. “Why not Marcus. What is the arrow of fate?”

“I do sometimes forget that your theological education focused on which of Bahamut’s enemies were more susceptible to the mace and which the sword. You know how Bahamut and Tiamat sprang fully formed form the corpse of Io? Well the Arrow of Fate is the small fragment that was left behind, the residual shard of Io’s power that remained apart from either of his offspring. And we won’t be seeking it because the last I heard it was the lynchpin in a pact keeping Asmodeus from interfering in Hestavar, and I’m sure you can appreciate the consequences of messing with that arrangement.”

“Please Marcus, I am not in the mood for double guessing your endless knowledge. Just tell me where the arrow is.”

“Ah, well, obviously I don’t know exactly where it is. I would imagine somewhere proximate to Hestavar, obviously, but the point is that they hid it and the precise location was never recorded, at least not in any text I have access to.” Marcus snaps his fingers and gestures to the first student to take note, sending the youth scurrying towards a stack of old tomes.

Valasaar starts clenching his fists in frustration. “Amyria has been give this vision for a reason. She has not been wrong before. There must be something to it. With the fragment of IO in the arrow and the spark of Bahamut within me we could bring him back!” The last word was almost a shout as he slammed a desk with an armoured fist, the sounds echoing around the silent room.

Marcus muses for a moment, “Yes, that is one possibility, although I would need to spend some time deriving the appropriate ritual. But if I recall correctly” – Marcus begins to scan rapidly through the pages of an old tome that the student has placed before him, – “Ah, yes, removing the Arrow from Hestavar would render the pact between Erathis, Ioun and Pelor on the one side and Asmodeus on the other void. I suppose we might argue that the Arrow need never be removed from Hestavar, but in the likely event that such a ritual would consume the Arrow I suspect that the letter of the pact would consider that removal. I would have to review the precise terms to be certain, of course. And I think it highly likely that even the Dawnriders might struggle to survive long enough to devise and complete the necessary ritual if we incurred the combined wrath of Erathis, Ioun and Pelor. I suggest that we look for an alternative.”

“An alternative? You know of another holy relic containing a fragment of IO?” Valasaar raised is head and hands to the sky in frustration.

“Fine. We can go to Hestavar and at least look into things while I consider other options. But just this once let’s try the diplomatic approach. With access to the libraries in Hestavar I could most likely find a way to harness the divine spark within you without bringing the manipulations of Asmodeus down on a centre of planar learning, incurring the wrath of a trio of deities and risking our own lives in the process.”

The Dragonborn nodded. “It seems to be our only hope Marcus. Bahamut has given us this sign. We will not ignore it."

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destrin AngelofRuin

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