Gestalt:- Army of Light

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Firebird Omen

“The Worlds are lost. Darkness reigns everywhere. There is no hope. No light. No joy. All that we have must be taken from another.

Even death only leads to a worse hell.

There is nothing for us. No one to turn to. No one to save us. Between the shadow and the infernal, mortals grind themselves to agonised dust.

And then, light. Golden dragons, and brave men with bright weapons. Ships of glowing, mirror bright lines.

And above even them, come the Angels. Heaven has not abandoned us. Her children were lost, not uncaring.

On wings of radiance, the world we knew as so dark glowed. Dawn broke, in ranks of Light and Fire, and we stood. "

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Raziel's Council

During Malachi’s great war, his forces invaded the upper planes. A precursive strike, in all likelyhood. Vast armies were marshalled. Thousands of airships, millions of Auroran soldiers, supported by multitudes of devils sent by Asmodeus. The Celestials were not daunted. They fought back with fury befitting the sons and daughters of heaven.

But for all the power Malachi had sent, he knew his armies could never triumph. And with all heaven taken to the field, he deployed his most abominable devices.

And so did Arboria, Celestia, and Elysium vanish from our universe. And Good did fade with them"


Kaemasi, Historian’s Guild, Sigil.

The portals cast their light across the City of the Silver Wing. Angels and metallic dragons swooped joyously in the light, in the free and open air of the Beastlands. Surrounded by fens, the city had an air of celebration, of freedom and hope. Intangiably, despair and darkness began to shatter and crack.

The Heavens had returned.

Hundreds of celestials had gathered in what remained of Maelrhyss’ Great library. They were joined by the heads of the Maelrhyssian families, although the presence of dragons and mortals was looked at with a certain confusion by the immortal paragons.

In the centre of the room, one stood. Alone, though as if with the presence of others long lost. Immense,fiery wings spread from his back,and holy rage poured from him.

“Deva. Eladrin. Asura. For those who no longer know me – I am Raziel. I am the fist of heaven, and until such time as my brothers – and the masters of the Eladrin – are returned, I must command the Host.”
He paused, waiting for objections. None spoke. Not even the most sarcastic Eladrin, the most volatile Asura would gainsay Raziel now. His leadership may not be their way, but in this new world?

After all, of all standing in the hall, Raziel was one of a tiny handful of Celestials that had been alive before the heavens were sealed.

“Good. First, then. The Maelrhyssians have agreed to host our portals until the planes can be properly realigned. They will defend them. And from what I’ve heard, they are good at defence. I know what some of you are thinking. These are the people that invented the ships, gave the Shadow Angel his weapons. They are not. These are not our enemies.

While they defend, we have another task. I am told by Keriath that in our absence, the planes have grown dark indeed. We will bring forth a cleansing light! We will burn evil from the planes. I intend.."
The air in the room buckled, nausea overtaking all but the strongest. Creatures, human but somehow monstrous behind a blurring, appeared, and sprang into the crowd. Each only infinitesimally different to the others, they sprang towards defined targets among the host.

The wrath of Celestia erupted, and yet the creatures twisted and bent, unaffected by the spellstorm.

As suddenly as it started, the nausea faded, replaced by awe. In the centre of the room, an immense, ephemeral form blasted into existence. Every Maelrhyssian in the room knelt, and Raziel took a step back. “Chronepsis”. The words seemed against the fiery angel’s will.

The Draconic God roared, and the strange creatures shook and screamed, disintegrating in obvious torment.

Still one managed, before discorporating completely, to hiss through a shattered, bloody smile. “You know, it doesn’t matter. You don’t have a happy ending. Not in this story”.

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The Sealed Triumvirate

In the aftermath of the attack on Raziel’s council, the Fist of Heaven decided for a swift, premptive strike against Hell – wielding the full force of heaven as a symbol.

He spoke at some length with the Celestials (and dragon) that had been targetted however, expressing some worry at why they were attacked. Danara – a young Ghaele Eladrin with a strange magic – thought it might be because her father was Brandis. Since the remainder were not connected to Daeriel or the slayers of Malachii, Raziel felt this was unlikely.

Unwilling to risk an unknown during the critical first strike against hell, Raziel told these people to travel together to recover two of the shattered fragments of an ancient artefact of heave – the Sealed Triumvirate. The first of these was in Ariandor, a Broken City in the first layer of Celestia. The Second was in the care of an order of paladins on Faerun, on the Prime Matieral. The Third was in a shrine in the city of the Last Gate, and therefore was in Hell. Raziel himself would deal with that. He also suggessted that should the opportunity present itself, it may be sensible to travel to Chronepsis’ library in Outland to find out why the Dispassionate Watcher had intervened.

After brief introductions, the small group teleported from MAelrhyss’ Library to a hill outside Ariandor. After have a quick conversation with the suprisingly helpful celestial watching the city, they advanced inside. Here, the air was thick with corruption, and words fell flat. The city itself felt hostile and the alleys curved back and forth menacingly while their shadows moved…wrongly. Never-the-less, two of the group – Gideon and Azraen had been in Ariandor before, and Azraen was able to lead them to the shrine of the Triumvirate.

Here, they were disturbed to find that the heavily fortified front door had been blasted through – recently.

They swiftly entered, finding themselves in a small subplane, with a further shrine building. This was being assaulted by Briarius and the Succubii twins Alina and Elina. After a gruelling fight, Alina was killed, and Briarius was forced to flee – largely after taking the blade of an angry paladin to the stomach and the full breath of Keirna of Maelrhyss to the face. Still, the battle was not without cast. Elina stole the magical sword that Echo had thrown at her, and Lyrus imploded.

With the aid of an item given by Raziel, he got better.

Inside the shrine, they found the Deathless paladin Roland guarding part of the Triumvirate and an artifact weapon gem – Durandal.

Danara, as she was incapable of not-nice thoughts, was allowed to take the broken Triumvirate piece, and after some thought, they decided to also take the Weapon gem.

Returning to Raziel before he launched his attack, they warned him about Briarius and his interest in the Sealed Triumvirate. Raziel told them this only increased their urgency.

They used a gate key to planeshift to Faerun…and found themselves in a room filled with incredibly stale air. The door out of the room had been sealed from the inside, and a closer examination showed that the furnishings in the room had long disintigrated from extreme age.

Attempts to pass through the door only revealed that from all appearances, Faerun was a dead world….but questioning the ancient dead guards implied survivors had fled somewhere. Inexorably, minds were drawn to the labyrinthine Underdark. If anywhere could still be livable, the perilous caverns seemed the best chance.

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Danara's Journal entry 1

Raziel’s Council did not go like I expected. Things were going pretty much as I thought they would until a bunch of strange creatures attacked. One of them singled me out. Before they were brought down by the Draconic God Chronepsis. This really worried Raziel and the others because he never does anything. Before the creature disappeared he said something about how I would have no happy ending. I asked Zerato what he thought about it but he just told me to get a ninja mask, like he always does. These events caused Raziel to hasten his preparations for the invasion of hell. After he dismissed the other celestials he asked those of us who had been attacked to stay.

Raziel told us to go and get two pieces of an artefact for him, then he left. I introduced myself and was just talking to my new friend Keirna when an Eladrin, called Lyrus, leapt at me for a hug. He seemed a bit too excited but I think he was just nervous about meeting another Eladrin, he seems nice enough though. After the introductions were finished we travelled to collect the first piece.

Upon arriving outside the city it was stored in we met a very nice celestial who pointed out where we were to go. The city was in rough shape, but I was told it had been a good deal worse. Unfortunately when we arrived at the shrine it had been opened. Once within we discovered a nasty group of people trying to steal the artefact, but we scared them off. Inside the main chamber we found a coffin. I opened it as I assumed it was where the artefact lay and sure enough it was there. I showed the proper courtesy to the remains within and then they fell on me. As I stood up I saw another figure. I introduced myself and asked his name. He said it was Roland then disappeared. He seemed friendly. We then gathered the artefact and the sword that had been in the coffin and left.

Upon our return, Raziel sent us straight off to Faerun for the second piece. Unfortunately it appeared the piece had been moved and Faerun had been stripped of its atmosphere. I explored a bit in my other form before we decided to try and find an entrance to the underdark. I once again set out but I got a bit lost and had to return.

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The Dead World

Exploring the paladin’s fortress, Danara finally found the Marshall’s books, and inside a sealed box, a journal. Hidden away in the middle of this was a description of the exodus to the Underdark…described as the safest option remaining. There was also a map.

While this dealt with the issue of “Where” to go, this still left the problem of “How”. However, while everyone else had been confused, Keirna had been spreading around the party’s stash of mundane items. After a brief several hours of activity, she proudly displayed her device – a fully functional Maelrhyssian Tunnel Crawler, made airtight by vast amounts of duct tape. In this, they trundled through the sealed door and out into the vacuum.

After a brief and slightly worrying encounter with a herd of the dead, the Tunnel Crawler ran threw a hill and into a graveyard of airships. Examining them found a number of items of MAelrhyssian magic, a large amount of resources…and that someone had been looting the ships for years. It also indicated the ideosyncratic approach to Maelrhyssian traps and locks, as the magical door unlocked to “I don’t have time for this”.

Continuing on, they reached the entrance to the Underdark and drove the Tunnel Crawler into the cave. It disintigrated due to the time changes. Keirna was rather sad, but resolved to make a new and better one.

Echo tracked barely discernable footsteps down and into the Underdark, while the rest of the party just followed the Foxfire of Plotfinding. (Un?)fortunately, the foxfire got distracted by an illusionary wall and dived through it. The Angels followed it, finding a Drow fortification that shot at them from automated sentry crossbow turrets.

Lyrus was shot in the crotch repeatedly, as his Astral Deva ‘friend’ Ezekiel had cast Continual Flame on the Codpiece of Command.

Behind the defenses, they wandered into a drow outpost. The only living creature inside it was a paniced Drow Matriarch. After a few desulatory attempts to talk to her, they got fed up and smashed her head, before casting speak with dead. This revealed that she was scared by the “Bull and the Dead” and that her people had been looking for the Sealed Triumvirate. Examining her outpost revealed a number of drained Maelrhyssian devices and 6 sealed body suits (flattering and functional!).

Moving further into the Underdark, they travelled for several weeks being attacked by the more stupid Underdark Creatures, until they eventually reached a very Paladiny Fortress, burning with Continual Flames.

Ahead of this castle, the cavern floor was filled with the shambling dead. They flew over them. Inside the castle, they found a Bull Man named Yurt, who said he was part of the army assembled by Tara to fight Malachii, but he’d got lost. Danara established that none of them were Malachii and so Yurt decided to leave, but not before telling them several adventurers had been here and died.

Upstairs in the Shrine room (baring symbols of Helm and Daeriel), they found the remains of four adventurers and an incredibly evil staff. Looking at it blinded Lyrius. From the documents on the bodies, the Adventurers had almost certainly been hired by Briarius. Ezekiel strode to the far end of the shrine room, where he found a sarcophagus, in front of which was a small pile of ectoplasm. He opened it, and smashed the skeleton that fell on him to dust. This also destroyed an Armour Gem, that was part of the Body Of Light.

They then read the inscription, and realised it was Galahad, another ancient hero from Earth-before-it-was-sealed.

Examining the Sarcophagus, they decided the Sealed Triumvirate had never in fact been in it. Keirna expressed the thought that they’d probably tossed it in broom closet. Eventually, they found it 85 feet down in the Latrine Trench.

Fitting it together with the first, they found it had the ability to compel Celestial Beings. This leaves the party both concerned about the Artifact and the Incredibly Evil Magical Stick.

They leave, taking the stick and the Seal with them.

And behind them, unheeded in the flickering light of the Paladin Fortress, the dead spread into the Underdark.

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Keirna's notes

Ooops, I haven’t written here in a while. Mostly because I’ve been at the portals maintaining things, nothing worth writing down had happened. But things have been a bit unusual recently.
I had been just been (mostly) minding my own business working on the portals… and a few bits and pieces in my own time when we were all called to council. In his usual style it was both unbearably stiff, but rousing. Until the unusual started. First I knew of it a shadowy formless being was attacking me, so obviously I retaliated. Very quickly these beings disappeared as suddenly as they had appeared, I learnt that there were also others, like myself attacked. The whole room was in uproar, and somehow felt much smaller than it had done. Lord Angry (I see where the name comes from) called things back into order. Taking my lead from Kerieth I took on human form again, but I was still feeling quite edgy. After the business had been concluded I, along with a few others were asked to stay behind. Although I had seen him before, in person he is far more… I’ll go with inspiring than from a distance. So it was not very welcome when he wanted to know why we as individuals had been attacked. Well, I didn’t know, s’not like I had any of my interesting projects with me anyway. He sent us off to find the Triumvirate.
After a few brief introduction, in which I was struck by the inexplicable desire to talk about shoes. We started in a corrupting town of heaven, I hadn’t been before, but some of the others had. It was a strange place where the paths seemed almost free in form and shaped themselves as they wont. We did make it through to a shrine, but someone was there before us. He seemed like the shady type, skulking around, concentrating very heavily in our shrine… so we attacked him. That went quite well, and he ran away. We went through the door he’d been trying to open and another and came to a tomb with what looked like a watching deathless Paladin. Danara conversed with a corpse, I say converse, and it was rather a one-sided affair. We took the tri—- from it, along with a sword that had burnt 2 to the touch, I wasn’t going near it. But thirds the charm and he was fine. We went back and got sent on again… where things get even weirder.
We used the key and found ourselves in a dingy room, it smelt awful, just stagnant and old. There was a long long dead body, and other completely decomposed items. I did try to open the door… although it was interesting how thourghouly it had been sealed… from the inside. I tried puncturing the seal with a pin whereupon the pin got stuck. One of the others went outside and found it to be perfectly preserved, and dead. Eventually I figured that it was a vacuum. While there are many things I’d love to try with such an extensive lab devoid of pesky air resistance… There were more pressing matters to deal with. Mostly breathing, this was quickly sorted by breathing through the water and refreshing it. Amazing how many uses can be found for things outside of their intended purpose. The next problem requiring a solution was leaving this place, without dying. I’m quite fond of not dying.
Although another can pass through the wall and traverse the planet freely, she cannot return anything of use through the wall. While waiting for anything else that could be gleamed from the expanse of preserved corpse and death, I decided what was required was a ship, I’m quite good with ships. What I don’t have is any tools. No matter. I eventually came up with a lovely little machine I shall dub the “burrowing barrel” unfortunately I did exhaust my supplies in the process. I must be more careful with my rationing. I did give it twin flamethrowers… I got a bit ahead of myself.
Having persuaded the others to trust my contraption we set off, through the door and on into the vacuum. Although I had built it for tunnelling we actually did everything above ground, following a map of sorts. I’m defiantly redesigning for smoother handling. We came across some ships, unfortunatly all ready scravenged to pieces, I did stock up on some small bits and pieces that had been overlooked, nothing major though. We found the entrance to the underdark, and abandoning my Burrowing Barrel we took to the darkness.
We wandered for a bit, and accidentally killed a lady we wanted to question. No matter. We found what looks like the second fortress, and met Yurt. And left him. Eventually, after a little scuffling amongst the group we found the second piece. I am becoming more concerned by what it says. It seems far too powerful. At least Danara is an alright sort, but too naive to be left with it, I fear.

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The Sin of Time

Keirna returned to Keriath with the evil staff, and gave it to him to try and work out how to prevent its activation. Keriath advised that they remain in Maelrhyss while he did so. Danara, promptly ignoring his advice, returned to Faerun and acquired all of the money in the paladin’s vault. The others explored Maelrhyss, resting in Keirna’s guesthouse. Keirna, meanwhile, took the opportuinity to restock on duct tape. Echo tried to research the Sealed Triumvirate in MAelrhyss’ library, but met with no luck.

While they were doing so, the City of The Silver Wing’s alarm spell went off – unlike most, this one was quiet but insistent. Echo rushed out to scout, and ran head first – literally – into a strange monster. He killed it with one blow. Across the street, an oddly dressed man identical to the blurry things that attacked in the council gave him a slow clap. There was some conversation, revealing that he was “Tezzerich” and he was either a time traveller, or a time controller, or possibly Time itself. Revealing slight irritation that his previous attempts had failed, he mentioned a race imprisoned by the gods who “Late in the War between your people and mine, they will free”. Opening a fractured tear in reality, he reveals a legion of Tarrasques, balefully staring across eternity. Very little can be made out of the landscape around them, but it seems oddly familiar. Standing on the leader is a man, fungus-scarred and masked, carrying a duel-disk.

One of the Tarrasques leaps through the rift as it closes, landing with worrying grace. Reacting with unbelievable speed, it drives forward into Danara. Only the intervention of her beloved monster Zerato prevents her from dying to the creature’s first assault. Echo attempts to gain distance, but in doing so falls victim to Tezzerich’s manipulations – his bowstring rots away as he tries to draw his bow.

Across the rest of the city, Maelrhyssian forces engage the smaller monsters – revealed to be the young Tarrasques.

Zerato duels with the Tarrasque, narrowly avoiding death himself – his ninja skills being just barely up to the task of avoiding the creature’s attacks. This only persuaded the Tarrasque that Zerato was tasty, and the ninja was promptly swallowed. Despite Zerato repeatedly cutting his way out from the beast’s stomach, the Tarrasque obviously felt this was a winning strategy, as it continued to swallow monsters (and Echo). Perhaps it was simply hungry?It seemed briefly satisfied after swallowing Keirna, but after she ripped apart its entire stomach cavity getting back out again, it looked for a new snack – Danara. After swallowing Danara, she teleporting into a place of hiding in Keirna’s house…but the Tarrasque was all too capable of smelling its escaping lunch. It barrelled through the fortified house and gently removed Danara from the cupboard she was hiding in.

The destruction of her house enraged Keirna who charged into the Tarrasque. Combined with a barrage of arrows from Echo, the creature fell to the ground. In the brief instant of relaxation, the creatur’s wounds knit together, and it lunged forward..swallowing Danara again. BEfore the heavily wounded Eladrin could be killed in the beast’s stomach, Keirna tore into it again, opening tremendous rents in it. Echo dived through one to pull Danara to freedom.

Weakened, the creature succumbed to temporal pressure and was returned to its proper time – along with all of its offspring.

After a brief rest (and looting the Tarrasque bits that remained), it was decided to visit Chronepsis. On the way, they ran into a small humanoid rodent, and flew down to speak to her, because she seemed happy to see them. She was less happy after they told her that the Guardinals had not returned along with the Archon and Eladrin. Danara gave her a hug.
In the course of the conversation with The Last Musteval, it was revealed that she was terrified of the Sealed Triumvirate (It smelt anathema), but it was remembered that no Guardinal had a part in its construction. She also told them that one of the Lions guarding Chronepsis’ palace owed her a favour, and she was willing to trade that to Keirna in return for Keirna owing her a favour instead.

At the palace, it was revealed that this favour was probably worth it – the queue was 100 people wide and ten thousand miles long. After Echo was petrified trying to fly over the wall, Keirna messaged the Lion, who appeared at the back of the queue and listened to them explaining. It un-petrified Echo and then vanished. Returning half a day later, it herded them into a small circle and then teleported all of them into a library room…filled with books, all which began with baa. Echo and Danara left this room, and found themselves in a seemingly infinite tower, each floor of which had hundreds of doors. Nevertheless, they tried to find books. This..didn’t work. After a few hours, they were met by Chronopsis’ proxy, and were all again in the same room.

He spoke with them for awhile (although once again, Echo was teleported to the back of the queue for asking for a book). It was revealed that Tezzerich was an enemy of Chronepsis – and of everyone. They asked about the Sealed Triumvirate, but the proxy told them he was not permitted to talk about it – no servant of any god would do so. They were also told that Tezzerich was targetting them for some reason, and had already tried to do so fourteen times. Twelve of these had been prevented, two by entities beyond Chronepsis’ vision – he speculated that this could be by another of Tezzerich’s kind, another Ashananti.

It was also asked what could be done about Briarius’ staff. The Proxy didn’t know – he told them it was formed out of a Postive/Negative plane inversion and reversed the natural process of Life and Death. He also said that the Hundred Handed One who forged it believed it to be indestructible, as did everyone else who’d examined it – and therefore, Chronepsis could not know any way to destroy it.

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Mind of Echo

Commit to memory.
How long has it been since I last ruminated on the present like this?
I find it hard to focus on that bleak existence. My days are blurred, my vision – cloudy…
I watch, but… it seems that I rarely see. My memories are patched with the red of rage and the blue of melancholy. There is a memory of sunlight, joy, and order, long ago. But it has not been so for eons… That memory is gray with ash and black with regret. All but instinct has been drained of it. Not even the song remains.

I sit on the windowsill, struggling to remember. Or forget? It does not matter. Keirna has gone to speak with Keriath and give him the Staff. It still screams in my memories. Ddddeathdeathdeath, death, death to the living and undeath to the dead! Death, death, death deathdeathhhh! Deep down, I shiver. Something within me, a struck string, answers to this call, but I know not why. For this, I fear it.

“Daeva,” one of Keriath’s servants whispers. “Keriath extends an invitation for you all to stay and rest, while he looks into your findings. Mistress Keirna has deemed to retire to her quarters within the city.”

I decide to go to the palace library. The resounding, muffled silence of the library is soothing, but my mind soon makes up. Figments of my imagination flow within and without audible perception.

The Sealed Triumvirate…

I begin searching the enormous library, stacks upon stacks of tomes and enormous honeycomb scroll stands. The silence is becoming worse. I can barely hear a chime, sounding in the distance. My vision gets blurred and cloudy once more, as its edge vibrates with the unheard intensity of the bell.

… I cannot… I must… ting tingggg rustle ding Ding DIN-

I stumble out of the library and into the lively courtyard of Keriath’s palace. Some of the servants tarry around, befuddled by the rare sight of a kneeling celestial, moreover panting and holding his head as if struck by a hammer.

My place is not here. Keirna invited us to her villa in the city proper. I suppose Lyrus, Danara, and the rest will be there as well.

I find myself at Keirna’s place. She seems proud of it. There is no sign of the huge sacks of mithril and gold we found on the Maelrhyssian ship on Faerun. Something tells me it is all safely hidden with the rest of her dragon hoard.

I try to relax and absorb the stylish décor of Keirna’s living room. Having something to focus on helps keep the sounds away.

Sounds! Why are there sounds?!
abuzzzzz abuzzzzz abuzzzzz…

I jump in panic, but it seems this is not a trick of my mind. My adrenaline is building and my vision is crystal-clear.

“It’s the alarm!” I hear Keirna’s yell from another hall. “The City of the Silver Wing is under attack!”
“We must get out in the open!” I yell to the others.

I make haste towards the main gate, while everybody is scrambling. Crotch, Robe, and Healbot hurry out the back door, singing and humming potent incantations. I push open one of the gate’s wings and jolt, only to freeze in front of something.

What… is this? I have seen all that crawls and slithers in Celestia and many other realms, but no such creature as the one in front of me, a mix between a velociraptor and a devouring coat of arms, yet nothing I feel the Wild in. A nauseating fog hisses in my earshot and restricts around the edges of my vision.

What is it? What IS IT? Yet again, frigid shivers crawl up my spine and into my temples.

I must act!

I headbutt it into pulp.

Then I stumble out and over the misshapen carcass. Keirna exits; Danara as well, eyeing the dead thing curiously.

There is a man, leaning against one of the buildings ahead, clapping.

As an electric current leaving my body, my nausea disappears and my vision becomes crystal-clear once more. My wings shift and bristle, reacting with vigor to the sudden depth of reality.

This man. Tezzerich. Something within me reacts to him the same way it reacted to the Staff. A different string, perhaps.

I vaguely realize I am huffing, clenching my stringed bow in one hand, the other prepared to draw and release. Tezzerich is in the center of my world now, the very bullseye of existence.

Keirna and Danara are conversing with this Tezzerich. I seem to be saying something as well.

He laughs, even though he looks disappointed. He snaps and gestures toward a colossal rag-like rift forming an arrow’s flight above him. My whole mind focuses on what’s on the other side of the tear. Legions upon legions of invincible beasts, an undefeatable throng, ready to conquer the Multiverse and bend it to the Master’s will. My huffing has turned into alternated grunt; every single muscle of my body is strained and honed for the kill.

Tezzerich laughs once more.
“I will leave you to it, then.”

All at once, Keirna transforms into her true form, Danara commands her legion, Zerato in lead, and my bow string snaps torn in two, releasing the bow with a powerful twang. I am glaring at the enormous beast in front of us, making its way out of time and space and into here and now.

Even as I am plunging deeper and deeper into the frenzy, changing the bowstring and plugging enhancement gems in the bow, a voice and instinct resounds deeply within and grows to define me: YOU SHALL NOT PASS!!

My frenzy stays with me during the fight.

Nocking arrows and letting them loose. Crawling through the mucous and stinging gut of the beast that has swallowed me. Slashing a way out with a dagger. The frenzy and panic swirl and mix within me like two mystical, unmixable liquids, the two sides of all of my existence. My wings are slick with the beast’s gall. I have enchanted myself with a protective spell sometime during the fight. I am climbing up the thing’s throat, only to find myself pushed to the bottom of the gullet once more. A bloody opening is ripped and I am outside again, along with the other struggling. It swallows Danara. Another hole is torn open and I rush to rescue her.
We fight.
Keirna’s house is in ruins.
Fatigue from the frenzy and a sickening smell are sapping my strength. Keirna tears yet another hole in the beast.
It’s over.

  • “… What Echo heard when he heard Death was silence. For one cursed with sound, true impermeable silence is as potent as the feeling of suffocating, locked lungs, for a breathing, living person…”
    - The Timeweave II, I:2, SRN Asp
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Continuing Keirna's log

Log:
I persuaded the group we should ask Keriath to look at the staff. He doesn’t appear to know what to make of it. My workshop is exactly as I left it, I think. It is hard to tell under the piles but I’ll assume it is. Everything is in order, I restocked in little pieces and oiled up a few pieces, checked supports their and found half of a very old lunch…. Woops. I invited Echo and Danara to stay at my house. We were just settling down for a bit when the alarms went off, although the others didn’t appear to recognise them as alarms. We went out to see what’s going on and Echo headbutted a strange green scaly creature in the face… it promptly keeled over. There was a figure who seemed … amused, I believe, watching. We had the oddest of conversations with him, and then he set a monstrously sized creature on us, even by my standards. It amazed me how agile it was, almost gliding. The beast made a game of eating Danara’s creature, which at least diverted it from us. It did swallow me, which I really just didn’t appreciate, and I think I made that quite clear when I tore my way out. So it ate Danara. It then tore through my house, I wonder if it was retaliation… Well, I wasn’t having any of that. I was just tearing it to pieces when it disappeared. After I quickly Checked over the rest of the town we left to talk to Chronepsis. There wasn’t much of interest in the flight to find hom, so I was just looking about, there was a Small figure waving, I pointed this out and Danara went down to say hello. I’m very glad that we did. We had a short chat with a very intelligent lady, who managed to help us getting to Chronepsis, and now I owe her.
WE got to the queue… and after another week or so of traveling we got to the building. Echo tried to fly over and disappeared… he later messaged me that he’d been petrified at the end of the queue. Really quite an ingenious system. I managed to contact the lion the lady knew on the inside and he agreed to talk to us. He eventually let us into the place. In a wonderous library. We were just left so I tried calling a book to me… it hurt. Eventually a representative came to talk to us. We managed to get some information, Echo disappeared yet again. After we had finished with our questions we were sent to the end of the queue, where we found Echo again. Quite a day. I do like the expulsion system.

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Interlude 1:- Raziel's Assault on Hell.

Light tore through the screaming fabric of Hell’s sky. As imps and uncounted infernal avians fell in terror, the angels manifested. In their ranks and flights, each of them glaring down at the source of evil. Singing, they drew their weapons.
Behind them, the Eladrin courts, scintillating masses of colour. They weaved and darted joyously, even in the scorching air.
Raziel, at the lead, beat his wings once and smiled briefly at the army of heaven. Turning back, he folded his wings and dived towards a fortified palace covered with the still living skins of the damned.
“Avernus! I come! Heaven has returned, and I am its fist!”.
*************************************************************

It had been so very easy. In the old days, any approach to hell for a heavenly force would have had to assault one of the heavily guarded gate-towns. Raziel had known this and so his armies had formed up before attacking the gate-town of Flayed Maiden. IT was imperative that no one in the town be allowed to flee to warn Bel.

Angels had formed into disciplined aerial legions, and to Raziel’s brief amusement, the Eladrin seemed to have adapted Auroran naval tactics – formations of Coere in support the ‘warships’ of the line – Ghaele and Firre and a handful of Tulani.
Useful as it was to see the formations, they were unneeded. Flayed Maiden had barely a hundred inhabitants. Raziel had them destroyed as a matter of course, but they didn’t even need to do that. The gate extended nearly a day’s flight from the town.

And so they had perfect surprise when the army of heaven broke through into Avernus.
*****************************************
Sword Archons and powerful deva streamed down behind Raziel as he dived. In the centre of the wedge, sheltering behind the angels, Eladrin formations waited – oddly calm for the frenetic celestials. At a gesture from the Fist of Heaven his angels drew their weapons and ignited them in retributive, holy flame.
There was no song from Raziel’s guard. They didn’t need the encouragement.
From the ramparts below the panicked susurration of the lesser devils died off as Hell’s Mighty arrived. Pit Fiends and Desmodu, Cornugon and Erinyes readied themselves to take to the air. Worse joined them, as the Infernal General Bel materialised. At this presence, the constant screaming of the walls ceased and faded to dull whimpers. Every fiendish eye looked to him.
He laughed, flexed his distended muscles and spat through protruding fangs. Roaring, his wings unfurled and he leapt. “Kill the fools. But leave the leader. I’ll use his flames to warm his sister.”

Behind his immense form, the horrors followed. And while even Pit Fiends were dwarfed by Bel, they still towered over an angel. And against thousands of angels were hundreds of thousands of fiends.
The angels descended a burning lance into the swarming darkness.
Raziel narrowed his eyes. It was almost disappointing. Where the legendary discipline of the pit? Where the torturous strategy? This mass, uncoordinated charge…still. It would only make his work easier, and if the Maelrhyssians were right, time was pressing. He focused on Bel and accelerated, flashing past the Devil Lord in a line of fire. Bel roared in pain and swung his strange curved sword in a clumsy swipe. The force of it – just the air being moved ahead of the blade – decapitated two Erinyes and tore the wings from an Archon. Screaming, he fell only to be caught by a group of Coere. Hundreds of the tiny Eladrin flashed passed Bel peppering him with stinging magics before breaking off and rejoining their formations.

Raziel didn’t even bother to duck. He simply vanished and reappeared on Bel’s room sized head, igniting the hellish air around him. Bel roared again, trying to dislodge the annoying Celestial. Raziel dug his clawed feet in, and shook his head. “Come, Bel. I know it’s been a while, but I could see that attack. Slowing down? In hell? Don’t try and play with me.”
*****************************************************
Behind Raziel’s force the majority of the host descended. Wings furled and weapons were drawn as heaven dived into the massed ranks of hell. A column of light and fury, the wrath of heaven blazed.
Few of the Devils could react fast enough. A handful of imps got airborne only to be set upon by watchful Coere. Archons engaged already aerial devils while the Eladrin took their original forms as they touched the ground and began spinning a merry, chaotic dance amidst hell’s army.
After all, had not the Eladrin taken this ground so long ago? Few Devils could comprehend intelligent disorder, and denied formation, the devils were easy prey.

Mere moments after the first landing, hell’s landscape joined the fight. Great pus filled boils erupted under the feet of the Eladrin. Tendrils of razor edged flesh wormed under clothing and armour, imprisoning and cutting. Geysers of blood and molten bone spat at the heavenly intruders.
And amidst it all, the Eladrin laughed. From Pus filled gorge, Light Spheres and Living Flames rose. The spat blood met nothing but immutable force as Ghaeles interrupted them. And no matter how intimately invasive, the razored tentacles could never hope to hold a child of Arboria.

And descending from above the Eladrin, the choirs of the Archon, their purity falling as a hammer blow. Under the radiant authority of their eyes, hell itself submitted.
The land settled. Hell may have stolen parts of heaven. But heaven’s spell casters were quite willing to return the favour.
*******************************************
Bel was exhausted already. It was barely a workout, let alone the challenge Raziel had been expecting. Keriath had told him Hell’s power had been diluted, but this much?
Bel swung again, and Heaven’s Fist caught a Pit Fiend, angled it up and into the strike. The Lord of the First bellowed, broken as he drew a gasping breath.
Another swing. Predictable. Too patterned. What had happened? Bel should have been nearly his equal. Too long with no challenge. Or perhaps another…
On time, Bel Struck. This one a simple overhand swipe. It wasn’t even faster than sound and mortals could manage that. Raziel caught it and blurred.

The Lord of the First roared again, looked in puzzlement at his shattered sword and sniffed. In increasing incomprehension, Bel looked down at the smell of burnt flesh. At the precise, angel shaped hole through his chest.

Never knowing how outmatched he’d been, the Lord of the First died.

While Raziel mourned the lack of a challenge and hell’s army broke and ran, the Eladrin Seshiel looked around and wondered.

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