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Week Twenty Six

May 28, 1998
Avg. Rating: 3.4

Sunday May 28th, 2043, 2200 hours

SEGUE

Inside the Tower of Luck, Talyth searched the dozens of bodies for Calishara- there were so many he needed to use a pole. The exploded carcass of an umber hulk lay by the door, and Talyth found Calishara next to a similar corpse, her rended leg still in its pincers. Though critically wounded she had placed herself in a state of magical sleep to prolong her life. Talyth gently picked her up and carried her away.

At the party's castle quarters Rakmor looked everywhere until he found Gino hiding under one of the beds. The arrest of most of the PCs, by a Piergeiron acting more and more strangely, prompted Rakmor to decide it was time to leave the castle. "Come on, kid...things are getting too strange around here." Gino hesitantly took his hand, and the two of them escaped into the city.

EPISODE

Woodcarn, Manayar 16th, Year of the Shield, Afternoon

Shreesha and the party, except for Gregory, were hiding in an abandoned building after having escaped from the castle's dungeons. Shreesha paced nervously around the room, worried that it was "almost time." Just as the group was leaving, Shreesha stopped in the doorway. "Someone's coming," she said as she sniffed the air. "Six of them." The party immediately took up defensive positions in the building, as five Shieldbreakers and one Dragon Cultist passed by, obviously searching for them.

The battle was over as quickly as it started, with the party victorious. Before leaving Kelly checked the body of the cultist and took a bronze colored dragon ring he was wearing. She could tell it was magical, and put it on; Willow could further see that it was somehow linked to other magic items, and that it provided some kind of protection. Kelly then heard a voice in her head say, "Prepare, it is almost time." Kelly responded to the voice, and the reply came a few moments later- "We know who you are...and we're coming for you." The party moved on to another building.

As they hurried through the streets the party could see clusters of fifty or so Shieldbreakers and Dragon Cultists at most of the city's crossroads. Shreesha also spotted Talyth and Calishara in the crowds- as the party settled into another abandoned building Shreesha fetched them and reunited them with the PCs.

About this time Kelly, who had been trying to convince the party they would be better off without her and the ring, began attempting to "escape." Her friends had so far succeeded in keeping her with them, but she refused to change her mind- the party kept a close eye on her.

Shreesha sat on the floor next to Kelly and shared some unexpected (?) news. She claimed that Ixchachaxi, a black dragon, had killed her mother during The Storm, and that she was responsible for the horrible burns on Shreesha's face. She further claimed that the golden scale the party had found was her mother's! When asked if this meant she were part dragon, Shreesha hesitantly replied, "More like part human." Tristan asked her why she had kept all this hidden. The traumatic death of her mother, followed soon after by the deaths of the Bjornsons, and then Einor, had been devastating. Shreesha just mentally collapsed; she crawled into a bottle and lost herself. "I simply gave up," she explained pointedly, shooting Kelly a glance. "And I'm so very, very sorry I did."

With that Shreesha leapt to her feet and headed for the door. Tristan had voiced his concern for Rakmor's safety, so Shreesha once more left the party and headed into the city. She returned a short time later, Rakmor and Gino in tow. Gino was ecstatic to see Kelly, but she barely even acknowledged he was there.

Meanwhile, as all of this was transpiring, Gregory was leaving his mark upon the battlefield. After he had successfully caused so much mayhem and destruction to the Shieldbreaker forces, columns of armored cavalry began arriving from the castle. Gregory watched with satisfaction as the siege on the House of Heroes was smashed by the combined might of the Tempurians and the City Guard. But there was still so much to do.

As the last of the Tempurians emerged from their stronghold, Gregory began addressing all those assembled, particularly High Sword Turik Bloodhelm. In just a few moments Gregory was able to incite them all to rush to the Temple of Mystra, sorely in need of reinforcements. Once there Gregory continued to influence the battle, infuriating the Shieldbreakers and Dragon Cultists to foolishness and inspiring the City Guards and Tempurians to bravery. The siege on Mystra's temple would soon be crushed as well.

But then, in a single breath, everything in the city ceased.

A thunderous explosion of pyrotechnics lit up the sky, followed by a huge magical projection of "Lord Piergeiron" (Kormallis) which addressed all of Waterdeep. "Citizens of Waterdeep, this is Lord Piergeiron. Our city has suffered many tragedies in the past months, tragedies which have touched us all. But the horror has ended...our purification and testing is complete, and salvation is at hand. There is but one who will keep us safe, one dark and powerful goddess who will now end all the suffering, all the despair. And all she demands in return is the worship which is rightfully hers. Leave the nightmare behind and follow me into the Serpent Mother's arms, for any who refuse her dark touch will surely be destroyed. All hail She Who Knows...all hail the terrible Ixchachaxi!" The Council members, also on Mt. Waterdeep with Piergeiron/Kormallis, joined him in chanting Ixchachaxi's name, as did Shieldbreakers and Dragon Cultists all around the city. Those involved in the battle at the temples ignored the enemies around them, enraptured and adding their voices to the hailing of Ixchachaxi. As the chanting of the crowds reached fever pitch, the dark clouds over the city parted to reveal a most terrible sight.

An ancient dragon, as black as the blackest of nights, swept down towards the city on impossibly massive wings. The nightmare serpent swooped low to the streets before perching at the very top of Mt. Waterdeep. Insanity gripped the city, even those indoors and unable to see the dragon; her powerful aura, particularly at such close range, plunged the city into madness.

The PCs, too, were stunned by Ixchachaxi's presence, and Kelly seized the opportunity to flee from the building. Though Talyth set off after her, Kelly quickly lost him in Waterdeep's winding streets. Shreesha, however, was not quite so easy to elude; Kelly turned a corner and almost ran right into her. Shreesha ignored Kelly's protests and physically carried her back to the others.

As this was happening, Ixchachaxi herself addressed the people of Waterdeep. "Down, children, down on your knees...the strong rule the weak, and you are so very, very weak! See how easily your foolish gods fall before me!" Ixchachaxi's neck arched back, and she spewed forth a river of burning green fluid which swiftly reduced the Hall of Heroes to so much slag. She repeated the attack on Mystra's House of Wonders, but the Mystrans' magical shields prevented the acid from reaching the temple walls. Ixchachaxi instead beat her huge wings, dug in her clawed feet, and tore off the entire peak of Mt. Waterdeep as she soared into the air; she then sent the huge missile smashing into Mystra's temple, reducing it to rubble.

At this point the Shieldbreakers and Dragon Cultists positioned around the city's intersections began fanning out, forcing to their knees or bellies all those they encountered. The majority of the party was indoors and "safe" for the moment. Gregory remained with Turik and his Tempurians near the rubble of the House of Wonders- all the City Guards had fled at the sight of the dragon, and all the Shieldbreakers had been killed with the temple's destruction (they remained happily transfixed even as the green acid consumed them).

Turik, his forty surviving priests, the ten surviving Mystrans, and Gregory all escaped down into the sewers, magically sealing the entrance behind them. As they made their way through the tunnels, Turik spoke cordially with Gregory about Tempus, Baldur's Gate, and other such things; he explained that he always found it difficult to do his best thinking while moving, and preferred small talk while walking. True to his word, once the group reached a large chamber and settled in Turik sat quietly by himself, brow furrowed in fierce contemplation of the situation at hand.

Soon after, Shreesha tracked Gregory to that sewer chamber, then escorted the rest of the party there. She explained that Kormallis was a High Priest in the Cult of the Dragon, and a powerful necromancer as well. He wore an enchanted amulet, linked to the rings of his ten acolytes, which conferred some limited protection from Ixchachaxi, particularly from the fear effect caused by her aura and from her searing breath weapon.

The end of the episode found the entire party, Turik Bloodhelm, forty Tempurians, nine Mystrans, and Pontil (the Mystrans de facto leader) gathered in the sewer; the tentative plan seemed to be to somehow acquire the remaining dragon rings before going after Ixchachaxi herself...

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