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Knights Aurorae – A Smouldering Hope

Episode 7: “Rage, rage against the dying of the light”:

We will not go gentle into that dark night

“Set honor in one eye and death i’ the other And I will look on both indifferently;
For let the gods so speed me as I love The name of honor more than I fear death”

~Shakespeare

“If noble death be virtue’s chiefest part, We above all men are by Fortune blest,
Striving with freedom’s crown to honor God, we died, and here in endless glory rest”

~Simonides [sic]

Highlights

Cast:
- Morgar, Caeldryn, Hope, Garsis, Spinata, Roland, and Pelor.
Events:
- The party defended Pelor against assassins. In the process, Caeldryn was killed by Krya deep in the Shadowfell, but Morgar interceded his life on her behalf at the last, the love of his protector’s heart choosing an honorable irrevocable death at the hands of his friend. Garsis pursued the lost party members across the planes and wound up wandering the anarchy of an apparently ruler-less Shadowfell surviving on nothing but the phoenix spirit of his ancestors and the traveler’s luck blessing of Avandra. Pelor was preserved, for now.

The party made a final stand in an inner sanctuary to defend Pelor from githyanki assassins dominating sun elf palace soldiers. The githyanki mindriders lept from their dead hosts trying to achieve a sneak assassination against Pelor in the rooms rear balcony, but they were sniffed out by the minotaur Garsis and hindered by the party. During the frakas, Morgar’s old protoge—the now Imperial dhampyr assassin Krya—approached Pelor invisibly with a dagger made from a baby’s bones and its parents’ tears, consecrated to Zehir under a full blood moon in the deep Shadowfell. The ritual dagger, formed to pierce the heart of Pelor and all he stands for, never struck it’s target however, due to Morgar’s heroic intervention. Consecrating the dagger in his own chest with his very blood, Morgar powerfully locked eyes with his old friend in unspoken censure. The party descended on the would-be assassin with fury, until shattered and stunned by the onslaught, the party forced his retreat into vampiric shadow mist.

Having lost his dagger, Krya called on his back-up plan to slay the mighty king: drowning Pelor’s light and life in Charon’s river of darkness and death, deep within the Shadowfell. By Caeldryn’s creative ploy the whole party took on her father’s form, and Morgar called on Moradin to intercede himself where Pelor stood. Krya’s vengeful shadowfell maw, confused by the ploy, pulled what he believed to be Pelor into the Shadowfell. Isolated, Morgar and Caeldryn fought for their lives against the liquid darkness and death until Caeldryn, in her distress, caused her third supernova to free them from Krya’s grasp and launched them both from the inescapable abyss, each one blazing with fierce flame. Morgar impersonated Pelor and Krya met them in the air, kicking Caeldryn’s Pelor-look-alike form 50’ to the Shadowfell’s solid and jagged surface, and sinking teeth into Morgar intending to drain Pelor’s radiant blood.

Tasting Morgar’s dwarf blood, Krya warned him, “Keep out of this, friend! Nothing can hinder my ambition, and I don’t want you hurt! I must have Pelor’s blood so I may slay my father and end all vampirism.” Refusing to let Krya drain the blood of helpless Caeldryn (who Krya believed to be Pelor), weakened Morgar valiantly challenged the powerful dhampyr, and Krya reluctantly struck the good dwarf down. Unopposed, Krya drained the royal radiance from Caeldryn, killing her irrevocably. Though she was not Pelor, she shared his blood, and would suffice. Moradin, honoring Morgar’s honorable heart with the choice of a final act of sacrificial protection, sent the ancestral hammer, Ballin’s Anvil, from the unconscious dwarf, interjecting Morgar’s lifeblood for Caeldryn, and bringing them both back to the sanctuary in the realm of light.



Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rage at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

~ Dylan Thomas


Garsis

“Finally! Again I have a reason to fight with all my might! For freedom! For Adventure! How I’ve longed to show these men and women the joy of a life not bound by fortified gates and rules! I must race to the kings side to lend the aid I must! We won’t be held down, we won’t be stopped!”

Garsis finds himself with a new group of adventurers, some he recognizes from his time in the sun kingdom, others are new, races he hasn’t seen in ages. While they spend their time planning and setting traps he simply revels in the possibilities that this present adventure could open for the people of the kingdom.

“Incoming!” He hears Spinata shout from the front line. Garsis approaches with a smile on his face.

“Today I live a life worth living, no regrets, no holding back! Keep moving forward! Luck is a reward for courage!” He mutters to himself.

BOOM! An explosion sends the main door flying off it’s giant hinges. A flurry of arrows leave those closest to Garsis staggering backwards and dazed. Garsis musters his strength and stops the incoming door with a swift headbutt, the begins to charge into the fray as a flurry of arrows fly in from behind the noble beast. “Nothing like a little prick in the butt!” He hears his archer friend Roland yell. Garsis loved the moments of combat that followed. The courage and strength of those he fought along side continued to push him forward. One foot in front of the other.

It didn’t take long for the group of adventurers to back the opposition into a corner. As Garsis shoved the mass of darkness that was Krya into the wall he waited. Closing his eyes to not let his sight distracted him he focused on what he could feel, what he could see. Allies grouped up helping those that had fallen back onto their feet and others finishing off what enemies still watched in horror. Finally it happened, a giant maw of darkness enveloped the king and his daughter. “My path is forward!” He roared as he flew in after them. He hardly heard those yells telling him not to enter.

The next thing he noticed was simply the feeling of cold and death rolling over him. For the first time this battle he was just getting furious at his predicament. He heard the call of his an ancient member of his tribe. One of the first primal spirits who had agreed with Garsis’ stand against his tribe. “Let’s fight on!” He felt it say. Garsis’ golden fur began to flow like a raging fire, and wings burst out his back. He fought his way forward, the only way he knew to go. Luckily an angelic being sent by Hope carried him to the surface of the river of death. As he emerged he watched his new allies be finished off then, there was a bright light, and when it cleared Krya stood alone, fuming on the shore. Garsis launched himself up from the river and seemed to fly across the surface. As he swung his mighty sword at the Damphyr, Krya vanished leaving Garsis alone. He still raged, the flames of his ancestor sealing up the deep wounds he carried. As the angelic being came to help Garsis back to the material plane, Garsis turned and began to walk away from it, into the shadowfell.

“What kind of wonderful adventure awaits!” He thought to himself as he charged off into the darkness, flames of life licking away the death surrounding him.


Caeldryn

I thought I was prepared for anything and anyone to walk through the broken doorway.

I was wrong.

He walked slowly through the crumbling remains of what had previously been an immense and ornate door. His dark, red eyes flashed across the room, taking us in. Time seemed to slam to a stop as my shocked mind registered the face I still looked for in every city, every battlefield, every sea of faces I encountered. Two whole years, and I had never stopped searching for him.

“Krya.” His name slipped past my lips. His eyes met mine. Cold, hard hate took my breath away.

Time slammed back into fast forward as a horde of shrieking snakes poured into the room from behind Krya. Pelor’s guards leapt into action, radiance filled the room as Hope took out the oncoming enemy line, Garsis charged into the fray, his weapon raised. I stood there stupidly, my desperate eyes fixed on his face. No. I thought wildly. No. No no no no no. Please no.

“Caeldryn!” Morgar’s yell jolted me back to the present. I barely had time to dodge as a heavy, evil looking blade whistled past my face. I raised both my hands, shooting a burst of flame into the chest of the snake that was snarling at me. He flew backwards, slamming into the others following behind him. I risked a glance at Morgar. Our eyes met in echoing grim horror.

Krya’s gaze was fixed on Pelor now, a terrifying smile creeping over his face. He stalked forward, ignoring the chaos around him. In his hand he spun a menacing blade wreathed in darkness.

Another snake clipped my arm with a jagged sword, cursing I spun to meet him, desperately trying to keep an eye on Krya. As I twisted, trying to back away from the oncoming snakes, I watched the scene unfold in frantic glances. Krya lunging at Pelor. Hope’s frantic scream. Morgar shoving Pelor out of the way. Krya’s blade protruding from Morgar’s chest.

“No! Morgar!” I screamed.

Fire burst from my hands, it’s intensity matching my panic. The snakes around me shrieked as the flames engulfed them. I fought my way towards where Morgar and Krya stood. I could see shock etched across Krya’s face as he stared at the blade in Morgar’s chest. I could see Morgar’s lips moving earnestly, speaking something to him. I saw Krya’s eyes harden as he pulled his sword back, causing Morgar’s face to grimace in pain. I was near enough then to hear Krya’s furious hiss, “Stay out of my way. This does not concern you.”

Somehow Morgar managed to lift his axe, his eyes grim. He planted himself between his old friend and my father. Krya’s face twisted in rage, and he swung his sword again. I caught a glimpse of Morgar swinging his axe to meet him, but then a new wave of snakes were surrounding me. I fought them off as best I could, but I was slowly forced back towards the balcony where Pelor stood. As I slid backwards, the breath knocked out of me by a well placed blow to my stomach, I caught a glimpse of Pelor’s face. His eyes were riveted to where Hope stood, radiant light surrounding her. The concern mingled with pride in his eyes hurt worse than any of the blows I had taken. I gritted my teeth, forcing myself back to my feet to face the snakes approaching me. Anger and frustration made me want to scream.

“Stop it.” I snarled at the snakes, readying another attack.

To my shock, they both stopped in their tracks, their eyes growing strangely blank. As I stared at them, I was suddenly aware of the power that was filling me. I could make them do whatever I wanted. I gathered my confidence and ordered them to attack each other. I was still startled when they immediately did, but I felt a smile creep over my face. That was new.

Behind them Krya suddenly disappeared in a black mist. Morgar’s face was grave. No! I thought desperately, glancing back at Pelor again. If only we could hide him. But where? The answer came to me almost immediately from somewhere deep in my subconscious. Of course. I closed my eyes, focusing on the power that I didn’t understand, trying to shape it into what I so badly needed. It felt so strange, yet so natural. It was like putting on a glove. I felt everything slide into place and I knew without looking that it had worked. When I opened my eyes, there were five Pelors in the room. Morgar, Garsis, Hope, me, and the real Pelor who still stood behind me. The Pelor who was Morgar met my gaze and then shifted ever so slightly. I backed up several steps, feeling awkward and strange in Pelor’s body. The Pelor behind me brushed my hand carefully. I knew immediately that Morgar had switched places with the real Pelor. But before I had time to act on that knowledge, a dark portal suddenly opened behind us, dragging me and Morgar inside.

I felt like I was drowning. My mind screamed in anguish. Everywhere, surrounding me was darkness. Thick suffocating darkness that reached out clawed, grasping fingers, and dragged me under. I couldn’t breathe. Morgar’s hand suddenly caught mine. I clung to him and summoned fire with all of my strength.

The darkness recoiled away from me as the might of my explosion propelled us upward. We broke the surface, still clinging to each other. I could just see Pelor’s face, Morgar’s face, through the flames that enveloped us. His eyes were fixed on mine. I opened my mouth to tell him to hold on, when something crashed into us.

I tried to hold onto Morgar and came face to face with Krya. He snarled at me, his eyes so dangerously red and crazed. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t speak. I just stared at him, horrified.

“Not my daughter!” Cried Morgar’s voice still in its Pelor guise. I frantically glanced past Krya to meet Morgar’s eyes full of determined resolve. Krya’s head snapped towards Morgar and suddenly I was falling, falling, falling. I watched in stunned horror as Krya sank his teeth into Morgar’s neck.

“No!” I screamed. “Krya, please-”

I hit the ground so hard, I was certain every bone in my body was broken. Everything blurred around the edges, flickering in and out of darkness. I couldn’t move my body. The ground beneath me was hard and cold and smelled faintly of decay. The Shadowfell. I realized numbly. I fought to keep my eyes open. They were so heavy. I could just barely see Krya and Morgar’s dark forms so high above me. My eyes closed again. I forced them back open. Krya was striding towards me, blood trickling down his chin, his eyes furious. Morgar lay on the ground behind him, his eyes closed, his body still. He was no longer disguised as Pelor. No. I thought brokenly.

Krya knelt beside me. I tried to speak, but I couldn’t remember how to move my mouth. His arm was lifting my head and shoulders towards him. His eyes were lost in angry red pools. I couldn’t find any trace of him in them. My eyes were closing again of their own accord. I felt the sharp pain of his teeth sinking into my neck, and then nothing.

The darkness was fading away. Am I dead? I thought briefly. As the room slowly came into focus, I realized I was dancing with a partner. He spun me gently and caught me again, holding me carefully as though I might break. I looked into Krya’s face and felt pain pierce me through the heart. He looked almost like he had the last time I had seen him, but his eyes were still cold and dark.

“Why are you doing this?” I couldn’t hide the anguish in my voice. “It’s me, Caeldryn. Remember? Please stop. Please don’t do this. We were together through so much. We were friends! Do you not remember?”

“This is what I have to do.” He said, his voice brittle and hard. His dark eyes were looking somewhere past my head. “I have to drink Pelor’s blood. It’s the only way to defeat Solomon.”

“Let me help you, then! Please! Krya, I’m begging you. You know we’ll help you. That’s what friends do!” Tears were choking me. I squeezed his cold hands, desperation seizing me, but he still did not look at me.

“I did not know you were his daughter.” He said suddenly, and something that might have been regret flashed across his face.

I stumbled over my feet, and we came to a halt. He didn’t let go of me though, and as I stood there so close to him, I felt my heart shatter into a million pieces. Why? Why him? The secret I had carried for so long rose to my trembling lips.

“Krya,” I whispered through the tears that were spilling down my cheeks. “I love you.”

He looked at me then, his eyes so dark, so haunted, so full of pain. I looked into his eyes and saw my death in them.

“I love you.” I repeated quietly, my voice breaking.

“I have to do this.” He repeated numbly. He opened his mouth to speak again, but I felt my being suddenly and abruptly ripped away. Darkness filled my mind once again.

Something was shimmering above my head. My eyes slowly focused on it, and then I felt the pain. Every inch of my body burned with pain. I heard myself intake a hissed breath at the shock of it. At the same time I realized that the hammer of Moradin was floating above me, glowing in a soft warm light. I stared at it in confusion, my mind blurred by the pain shooting through my body.

Sound crept back into my senses. Someone was screaming. Painfully, I pushed myself up on my elbows. Pelor, Hope, and his guards were standing a few feet away, their eyes full of shock and horror. I followed their gaze past me to where a crumpled body lay an arms reach away.

No. Oh, please no! Please! No no no no no no no no. I crawled slowly towards him, reaching out my hand to touch his face. His skin was cold and gray, and I knew with a touch that he was gone. Somehow he had switched places with me. Somehow he had sacrificed himself. I stared blankly into his unseeing eyes. No. He can’t be dead. He can’t be dead. Someone was screaming a horrible scream of pain. It wasn’t until I raised my shaking hands to cover my mouth in horror that I realized I was was the one screaming endlessly. Moradin’s hammer faded away, leaving Morgar’s cold, broken body before me. I gathered his limp form into my arms, tears streaming down my face. No. Please, no. I begged no one. Please don’t take him from me too. Please. I can’t…I can’t lose them both. Please!
-——————

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