Dwarf on Back

Eighteenth Adventure: Twilight of Champions

Episode 1 – Herald the Call

The Friends of Dwarf on Back celebrated and feasted for a week following their victory over the forces of Vecna arrayed against them over the past season. Bards sung of their deeds; wenches tended to their needs; the bartenders served plenty of meads.

During such a feast, one of the town’s guard approached the table of the FoDoB. “Package!” A parcel was delivered by courier. No return information was conveyed.

Belgerath accepted the package. At his touch, words written in a strange, archaic script appeared on top of the box:

Long ago, in the flowering kingdom of Haluraa, there were five houses of nobillity. The kingdom was threatened by legendary creatures.

Each house, eager to prove their prowess, sent their most valorous knights to slay the beasts; which monster did House Iskengrad destroy, and what weapon did that knight employ?

This most esoteric knowledge was beyond anyone’s common knowledge; moreover, the guard had no information as to who handed him the package or where that courier may have gone. The Friends of Dwarf on Back resolved to answer this intricacy.

Yellga and Titanius headed for the theater, hoping that the answer to this historic mystery might have survived through the fog of time through the arts. By great happenstance, Yellga discovered that the local actors were rehearsing for a play about the very same five royal families mentioned on the box!

While Yellga engaged the performers, Titanius had ample opportunity to sneak into their quarters and look for books or manuscripts about the kingdom of Halruaa. He was very successful, and found a plethora of information about the five noble houses. Others were highly successful in consulting the local blacksmith, the pet shop owner and a few other townsfolk. Over the course of a few days, the Friend of DoB were able to amass enough information about Halruaa’s history to ascertain the deeds of the house Iskengrad of legend:

  • House Agrah’s knight killed the lich.
  • Neither the knight from House Uldrich nor the knight using the bow attacked the illithid or the dragon. Both lived by a code of honor which also prevented them from striking for the heart – preventing them from attacking that creature, as well.
  • The knight of House Elsin used a lance.
  • The knight who attacked the dragon did not strike it in the throat.
  • The knight of House Iskengrad did not wield the morningstar.
  • the knight who used the morningstar either attacked a monster in the heart or the rear.
  • The knght using the bow came form a lower-ranked house than the knight who struck a monster in the heart.
  • Of the knight who wielded the crescent axe and the knight who mortally wounded a creature in the heart, one came from House Elsin and hte other attacked the balor.
  • The knight who wielded the greatsword came from a higher-ranked house than the knight who struck the monster in the eye.
  • The knight who wielded the greatsword came from a lower-ranked house than the knight who struck for the belly of the beast.

After puzzling over the clues their searches turned up, Nicolae was able to correctly answer the question posed by the box; utilizing her dark gifts, Damaia was also able to decipher the rest of the houses and their legacies.

More words written in that same strange script appeared on the box:

Dearest friends,

Humblers of goblin hordes; repressors of the Red Hand; destroyers of the Demonoids and the drow sisters; masters of the Manor Hades; transformers of Tilverton; defenders of the Dales; saviors of Samuel the Sacred; overseers of Ormpetarrian justice; conquerors of the Chondalwood; rectifiers of wrongs; foilers of divine fourberie; watchers of the world, who withstand the Whispered One:

I wish to congratulate you personally. Please accept this invitation – our tryst is long overdue.

The box opened, revealing the severed head of the kindly old Cardinal Dragonheart – along with a blood-stained note:

I look forward to greeting you again.

~O

Episode 2 – Jeopardous Jaunts; Fearful Haunts

The loss of Cardinal Dragonheart came as a terrible blow to the Friends of Dwarf on Back. It was through his blessing that the FoDoB was able to recover and use the Scepter of Bahamut. Without Dragonheart’s guidance, it would have been impossible to stop and eventually save Samuel from his enslavement to Vecna’s will.

The Friends of Dwarf on Back spent time considering the identity of the enigmatic “O” who signed the note. Samuel suggested that perhaps it was Osterneth – Vecna’s top and most trusted lieutenant in the Realms. The FoDoB resolved to return to Shadowdale in order to seek out “O” and to return Cardinal Dragonheart’s head to the Dalelands, where it belongs.

The new leadership of Ormpetarr employed the skill of “wild” mages – wizards who harness the power of the Spellscarred Lands – and create a portal leading to Sapra, where their borrowed junk was docked. The FoDoB bravely headed through the portal, with mostly expected results – except Yellga arrived in Sapra with her newborn baby!

The Sapra Temple of Bahamut’s clergy greeted the FoDoB and informed them of the situation regarding the recently-pirate-infested waters of the Sea of Fallen Stars. No ship could get through, but the clergy members contacted other Bahamutian agencies and pulled together a fleet of ships from nearby areas. Meanwhile, the party managed to convince many of the local townspeople to help clear the waters of pirates.

Upon setting out, the party and its accompanying fleet were beset by the pirates, as they had expected. An epic battle ensued! Pirates and allies sank left and right. At times, things looked grim – some of the FoDoB’s boats even took too many hits, and sank. In the end, though, the party pulled through, and all was well.

…Until a massive ship parted the waves and made its way toward the party! It raised a white flag of parley. Bravely, Nicolae, Eredon, Garth, Nox and Samuel boarded the ship and engaged in negotiations with Darshak, the captain of the Jewel of the Fallen Stars. <please> The remaining party members – Belgarath, Neil, and Titanius stayed on the party’s ships and enacted repairs. After negotiations failed and combat broke out, an impressive number of crewmen swarmed the decks at Darshak’s command, and he politely asked the party to leave. They did so.

While not all of the remaining ships could be repaired, Belgarath formulated a plan to ram the ship. Samuel, Embergrace, Lanharath and the party members who originally boarded the Jewel for negotiations rode the damaged ship toward the Jewel. At the last moment before impact, Embergrace teleported the party into nullspace for just enough time for the damaged boat to smash into the side of the ghost ship. The party reappeared. Samuel, Embergrace and Lanharath set up a magic circle against undead, sealing the lesser undead belowdeck. A battle ensued.

The FoDoB’s remaining ships and a small host of elven warships engaged the remaining pirate ships and the Jewel in a raging battle on the seas. The ships commanded by Titanius and Neil were sunk almost immediately, but they were rescued by Belgarath, who took evasive action and lured the ghost ship to a small cluster of islands in order to take advantage of it for superior cover.

The FoDoB aboard the Jewel defeated the Captain, his first mate and his second mate handily. Belgarath, Neil and Titanius were able to come up with a plan to destroy the Jewel while preserving their remaining ship. After the battles were over, the FoDoB spotted Second Mate Seaslash Wildwind apparently in the midst of an argument with himself on one of the islands. Mutterings of “Fool!” and “They were too powerful” reached the ears of the party.

When Seaslash spotted the FoDoB, his expression changed. In a female voice, he asked, “Have you figured out where I am?”

“Oh, yeah. We’re well on our way,” responded Nicolae.

Seaslash smiled. “Don’t think you’ve won. This is just the beginning,” he said, as he melted into mist and was carried away on the wind.

Episode 3 – Where Even Doom is Fraught with Peril

The remainder of the party’s journey across the Sea of Fallen Stars was uneventful. Morning arrived right around the same time that the Friends of Dwarf on Back docked in Selgaunt. A middle-aged halfling featuring fairly impressive regalia and no small amount of poise, along with an entourage of guards, were searching the docks. One of the guards spotted the party and pointed them out to the halfling. He beckoned them over, and greeted them in a friendly, but rushed manner. “Hail, Friends of Dwarf on Back! Forgive us for this inadequate reception, but there is no time – we must brief you on what has happened.”

Without further introduction, the halfling turned and walked off the dock and onto the street, the FoDoB in tow. The halfling led you past the dock’s warehouses and onto a street lined with residences. At the end was a slightly more prominent building. Judging by the markings on the outside, it was one of Aumanator’s temples.

The halfling led the party straight through the open doors. Just inside, a modest repast rested atop several tables. Acolytes waited to serve wine from silver carafes. The halfling moved to the head of the table and gestured for the party to take seats.

As the FoDoB began to dig in, the halfling spoke rapidly. “I am the Vicar Aylesbury, at yours and Aumanator’s service. The local Aumanatorian chapter – “ he gestures around – “is entrusted to my care.

“As I’ve alluded, great events are transpiring. Before we get to that, please tell me – what is your quest, and where are you headed?”

Aylesbury listened to the party’s brief rundown of their travels and current destination, nodding occasionally and perking up a little at the mention of Shadowdale. “This is excellent. Our normal lines of communication have proven unreliable over the past couple of weeks. We had hoped your plans would take you that direction. Let me tell you what has transpired.

“Since you departed Selgaunt for the southern side of the Sea of Fallen Stars, the number of undead in the Dalelands have increased a hundredfold. Particularly dangerous varieties have started making appearances. Before too long, we lost contact with a few of the Dales – Tilverton, Scardale, and Shadowdale. We’re unable to scry into the areas – even our most powerful seers can see naught but mist and fog. Even more worrying than this is the scouts we’ve sent in – none have returned.

“We have no idea what has transpired in these cities, and no way of knowing what may have happened to their citizens or to our scouts. We’ve no further resources to tap in order to brave these new, unknown dangers – but word of your prowess and might has reached even the furthest corners of the surrounding kingdoms.

“You have already done so much for the Realms that we hesitate to ask you for more – but it seems that the Friends of Dwarf on Back are our only hope. Perhaps you could find a way to assist the townspeople of the Dales, and perhaps – if at all possible – you could find the scouts we’ve sent forth?” Aylesbury seemed quite hopeful, such that Eredon questioned his motives. “I’ve… One of the scouts is my son. His name is Frederick Aylesbury. If he’s… if you find that he is unable to return home, please bring me proof of his fate. His signet ring would do."

As it was yet morning, the party set off for Scardale. As they began to approach the Dalelands, the sun was well on its way up past the horizon line, and the air was clear and crisp. As the morning went on, wisps of mist begin to gather – not unusual for the Dalelands, really. Nobody was around, and the Dales were still and silent.

The party marched on. The noon sun reaches its zenith, and began its slow descent. Soon, the mist began to thicken, prohibiting vision more than a few hundred yards down the path. Belgarath tapped into his mystic training, and identified an aura of transmutation suffusing the area.

The day went on, eliciting no sounds or other persons from the Dalelands. Soon it became early afternoon, and the roads through the Dalelands saw varying amounts of mist as the paths rose and fell in and out of the valleys. Belgarath and other party members continued to check the magical auras surrounding the Friends of Dwarf on Back, but could discover nothing new, and certainly no threatening overtures.

The day wore on. The party could no longer see the sun, but the color shining through from the sky told them that it was late afternoon. It was beginning to become difficult to find the correct way – once or twice, the FoDoB wandered off the main path. The Dalelands around them remain silent, but it was now accompanied by an oppressive feel.

The mist had become so thick that the party was unable to move at full speed and maintain the path. Neil brought his natural instincts to the fore and trailblazed through, but as the light receded even he began walking headlong into trees and doubled-back along the path a couple of times. Nox flew high in the air and Titanius climbed to the top of the highest trees in order to try to see the way, but to no avail – even from dozens of feet in the air, the fog was too thick and prevented seeing more than treetops for a short distance.

It became twilight. The party had wandered off the main path, and were lost somewhere in the woods of the Dalelands. The mists had thickened to nearly the same level of discomfort as the silence itself. There seemed no end as the party wandered through.

The night dragged on, longer than anyone might expect. Slowly, ahead of the party, the mist appeared to brighten a little. As they approached, sunlight began breaking through up ahead – but when the party first spotted it, a tearing, roaring sound rumbled behind them!

The ground began breaking up as a mound of earth upturned, then began expanding into a long tunnel. Quickly, the party realized that something immense below the surface of the earth was tunneling rapidly toward them!

Most of the Friends of Dwarf on Back were able to get away handily. Yellga stumbled on her way; Eredon attempted to hack at the vines, but found that five replaced every one he broke; Damaia tripped and fell, making her vulnerable for the vines to begin dragging her under! Despite Yellga’s best efforts and her handy 10-foot pole, Damaia was unable to struggle free, and was sucked down into the earth. Yellga became the sole target of the vines, but she was able to break away and sailed past the party to safety.

As the party escaped the mysterious vine-beast, sunlight suddenly broke through the mist. The familiar, rural southern entrance to Shadowdale stretched out before them. The ripping and tearing sounds quickly receded. In the fields, some figures worked on the seasonal harvest. The Shadowdale Temple of Bahamut rose slightly above the trees a few hundred feet inside the town.

As the FoDoB approached the town proper, they could see that it was splayed in its usual, sprawled fashion, much as they remembered it before the first whispers of the plague. No townspeople were there.

The party approached the Shadowdale Temple of Bahamut. When they entered, they could see that there were a pair of booted feet protruding from behind the altar.

As the party approached the altar in order to investigate the feet, a sudden flash of light dazed them for a moment. When the spots cleared away, Damaia was standing there. She looked as confused as everyone felt.

The party discovered that the feet definitely signified a body. It was clear, by the regalia and the fact that it was headless, that it was Dragonheart. Before anyone could react, the body stood up and began flailing wildly!

Dragonheart’s body swung without a real target, almost pitifully. It was clear that it could do no real damage. Eredon quickly subdued and tied the body down. Nox grabbed the silver box containing Dragonheart’s head and gave it to the body. It jumped to attention, and groped out blindly in renewed frenzy. Upon grasping its head, the body of Cardinal Dragonheart placed it on the stump of its neck – at first attaching it backward almost comically, but then twisting it around, causing a grotesque squelch and a series of hideous popping noises. When his head was in place, Dragonheart held the position for a moment; then he fell to his knees, wailing piteously in clear pain! “You… must… stop… !” he said, before his head toppled off again, rolled away and became silent. The body began groping around in search of it.

Movement sounded outside of the temple. Upon investigating, the party beheld a chilling sight. While the sun was still in its position, it cast a wan, pale light. The sky had darkened. Townsfolk wandered the streets, but in a slow, shuffling fashion. Many featured patches of stretched and rotted flesh on their faces and hands. The figures were performing the tasks of their everyday lives, but in a sick, dread mockery. Some vendors occupied food stalls, but their wares were foul: a baker sold molded bread; fruit shops offered rotted produce; maggoty strips of flesh of questionable origin hung in the butcher’s window; a fishmonger’s catch was absolutely rank. A blacksmith hammered on a chunk of metal using a femur featuring a suspiciously-humanoid shape. A milkmaid tugged at the decayed udder of an almost-skeletal cow, releasing a thick, lumpy sludge into a bucket with each pull. The figures in the fields appeared to be hacking at the grain, destroying their crops bit by bit. Some children were playing kickball – but the ‘ball’ was the severed head of a kitten, still mewling in a thin, high-pitched tone. Inside a window, a family sat down to a meal of ribs pulled from a dismembered child’s torso.

The apothecary’s assistant walked toward the Temple in an almost stilted fashion. After a quick discussion, the party let him in and shut the door soundly. “M-m-make you a potion?” he stuttered, before slitting his wrist with a scalpel and filling a vial with brackish-brown blood. He dropped the vial suddenly, almost as if he were surprised to be holding it, before taking a stumbling step forward. “They’re playing with you…” he whispered, then began laughing, terror clear in his eyes, before he stabbed himself in the chest and fell to the ground.

All of the townspeople suddenly ceased moving. Slowly, each one stood at attention and stared at the party – including the apothecary’s assistant, blood spurting from his chest in rhythm to his rapidly-slowing heart. Interestingly, Damaia was also affected. Together, they turned, raised their arms, and pointed off toward the hills outside of Shadowdale. Hades Manor loomed above the cemetery in the distance, eerily lit by a mysterious, purple glow.

The Friends of Dwarf on Back formulated a plan to reach the Manor. Belgarath summoned arcane knowledge; Neil (or was it Yellga?) tapped into natural ley lines; Embergrace summoned pious fervor. Together, the three of them gripped the Scepter of Bahamut and paved the way through the undead crowd toward the manner. Strangely, the undead continued to point the way – indicating that perhaps their intent was not to threaten the party.

The front door to Hades Manor was slightly ajar. Everything inside appears as the party remembered it, except that the chandelier was fixed and there was an opening in the middle of the foyer floor. A voice emanated from below.

While the addition to the foyer was of great curiosity to the Friends of Dwarf on Back, they felt in their hearts it was best to try to communicate with Cardinal Dragonheart in order to try to assist him. They held his head in front of the Mirror of Souls on the second floor, and saw that he appeared alive – but he was unable to speak with the party. While the remainder of the party appeared to be dead in the mirror, Damaia’s visage was as alive and alluring as was customary.

With this information in hand, the FoDoB ventured down the spiral staircase. At the bottom, the staircase opened up into a small room. On the walls to the sides hung posters featuring a show titled ‘The Puppeteer’, and displayed a picture of a tall, handsome man with a pale visage and strikingly sharp features. On the far side was a doorway covered by a black curtain. A podium stood to the side, behind which stood a glassy-eyed attendant dressed in a ragged, bright red usher uniform. He stiffly raised his hand, in which he was holding several tickets. The voice was louder here, and seemed to be coming from beyond the curtain. The party members, slightly daunted but hardly deterred, each took a ticket and moved beyond the curtain.

Inside the curtain was a theater. The audience appeared to be more undead. On the stage was the man featured in the posters. He was gesticulating wildly and giving an oration: “Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit! Curabitur justo turpis, consectetur dictum faucibus at, ullamcorper a TORTOR!”

As Damaia approached the stage, The Puppeteer turned toward the party. “Ah, you have arrived! Let the main act… BEGIN!” The Puppeteer raised his arms dramatically above his head and disappeared. All of the undead in the audience changed appearance – they all looked exactly like The Puppeteer!

Battle ensued. Each copy engaged the closest party member with a fervor, engaging with surprising grace and busting a move! Clones at a distance whipped whoever was in reach with costume ribbons magically enhanced to rot the flesh where touched and bedazzle the senses.

Nobody was sure which of the undead was the Puppeteer, and began striking every target they could. As they struck the fearsome copies, each slumped over awkwardly and no longer attacked, but still ambled forward. As the numbers of untouched puppets became fewer, Nicolae struck a lucky blow and damaged the real Puppeteer, revealing him to the rest of the party!

Things were looking up for the Friends of Dwarf on Back, but the Puppeteer snarled and began preparing another casting. Wisps of ghostly music began building. The FoDoB were still in for the fight of their lives…

Episode 4 – Repose

As the Puppeteer finished, his puppets each took up a dance pose and pressed the attack! Strategically box-stepping aside of weapon swings, each puppet engaged a nearby party member in a flurry of ribbons and snazzy moves. Unearthly music swelled to a crescendo, and several party members caught the fever and began dancing uncontrollably to the music!

Together, The Puppeteer and each of his puppets disappeared in a flash. The lights dimmed, then brightened again, revealing The Puppeteer and his cadre of puppets-turned-backup-dancers moonwalking their way across the stage.

(Which party members?) had become unwitting thralls, and began assaulting other Friends of Dwarf on Back. The puppets all stood upright again, and each disappeared and reappeared in places around the battlefield in order to press their advantage.

Eredon called upon Bahamut’s guidance to dispel the haze from the minds of the other FoDoB. A faint, golden glow emanated in all directions from the holy warrior, bringing clarify to confusion.

The Friends of Dwarf on Back had latched onto The Puppeteer’s style. Yellga began examining nearby puppets, looking for telltale signs that one was the Puppeteer. Nox, Belgerath, Nicolae and Damaia continued to lay nearby puppets low, slowly sniffing out The Puppeteer’s hidden identity.

A bit of extra sweat on the brow of one of the copies gave The Puppeteer away, and the party focused on him – raining hell and divine fury down upon the necromancer, not giving him even a moment to gather himself. Before long, he teleported back to the stage, gasping for breath and struggling to strike the stage villain’s form of repose. A black fog issued from his mouth as his last, gutteral gasp passed his lips.

The Friends of Dwarf on Back, exhausted but victorious, took a moment to gather themselves. A quick search of the pockets of The Puppeteer revealed a handful of marionette strings, some strips of zombie flesh, and more of the mysterious potions which the party had claimed from the invitation delivered to them in Sapra.

Back in the foyer, a faint, mocking, female laughter echoed in from outside. It seemed to come from the direction of the temple.

The Friends of Dwarf on Back cautiously approached the town again. The undead were still there, but seemed to shrink away from the party, almost as if they were afraid.

A purple light shone from an inner door within the temple. The party followed the light past the door and up a flight of stairs which ended at another door – intricately carved with an image of the Platinum Dragon – which was slightly ajar.

Almost nervous with anticipation, each of the FoDoB crept past the door, one at a time.

The doorway opened into a grand chamber used by temple clergy for major rituals. At the center of the room was a massive altar guarded by two gargantuan, angelic statues. Much else could not be seen, but shuffled movement and the flipping of pages revealed the presence of someone inside.

Behind the altar stood a tall figure resembling a desiccated corpse. It pored over stacks of the temple’s books and scrolls of ancient history and guarded secrets. Both its left hand and eye were missing, replaced by an orb and a claw comprised of purple energy.

The figure looked up and directed a hideous, rictus grin at the Friends of Dwarf on Back – but didn’t say anything. It seemed to be waiting.

Samuel gasped, and choked out “That is… We must… Vecna..!” as he hastily threw up a shield of divine energy.

Vecna spoke with a gutteral hiss. “Do you not like my perfect world?”

“Perfect? This place is despicable!” spat Embergrace.

At this, Vecna chuckled. “Unlike your world, this one is painless and absolute.”

“Nonsense!” said Yellga. “What of the Cardinal Dragonheart?”

“All in this world must follow my bidding. It was my will that the…” Vecna’s lip turned upward in a sneer – “good cardinal remained in repose. It was you who defied my will. His anguish…” Vecna’s tone became thinly-veiled mockery. “…was your doing.”

“Noo…” moaned Yellga, stricken and pale of face.

Provoked to action, the party unleashed powerful attacks against the decrepit deity. Vecna made no move to deflect or dodge. Each attack directed his way was absorbed by his form, his grin remaining frozen in place.

Nox, seeing an opportunity to flee, began backing out toward the hallway from which the FoDoB came. As she approached, a haze of purple energy formed over the doorway. It was a trap!

Vecna gestured and unleashed a wave of divine energy from his hand, snapping outward in crackling tangles of light. Each party member was able to dodge or deflect the bolts, but Embergrace and Lanharath were caught in the blast! Their forms were flung across the room to slam against a wall, and lie still. The bolt pushed Samuel back a step, but his shield held. The figure disappeared in a flash of crackling purple energy.

The mocking laughter returned, and a tall, aristocratic, and very attractive woman appeared in a sudden puff of smoke. “You’ve been playing with dolls, I see.”

Samuel: “Osterneth!”

Osterneth: “You are fools to have come here. Now, you are dead fools.”

The two angelic statues began grinding to life. Osterneth gave a small object to one of them, then walked through a door in the back. The door closed with a distinctive ‘click’ sound, and a purplish haze covered it – similar to the entryway behind the FoDoB. The angels flew up into the air, unsheathing weapons engraved with the names Angelus and Necrosis.

Tired from their long trek through the fog, drained from their battle against The Puppeteer, and haunted and sickened by the sight of Shadowdale and its people, the Friends saw before them another battle – and nevertheless geared up for another long fight.

The angels were swift to the attack – but Belgerath was quicker! Reacting quickly to the situation, Belgarath was able to entrap Necrosis in a prison borne of shadow. Angelus glowed with a blue light. It swooped through the party, taking advantage of their proximity to each other. As it swept by, Angelus’s stone wings glowed with unholy radiance as they chilled the very air. Their touch brought an agonizing, bone-deep chill which quickly numbed the flesh.

Angelus succeeded in quickly subduing Yellga, laying her low. As she fell to the ground, the altar released a crackle of purple energy which streaked for Yellga’s prone form – and was repulsed by a sudden, blinding burst of energy which exploded outward from Duvan Jr.! When the light faded, Yellga and her baby were gone.

The altar began releasing wild energies, exacerbating wounds which the party had received. Belgerath was quickly subdued, as he was nearly spent from the prior battle. As he stumbled around, his shadow stopped moving along with him. Its hands reached toward Belgerath’s feet. It grabbed ahold of his ankles and yanked Belgarath through itself. Both of them disappeared.

One by one, the Friends of Dwarf on Back succumbed to the two angelic monstrosities. Titanius crumpled to the ground and was enveloped by a bolt of energy from the altar – and disappeared. As Eredon’s powers wore down, a golden nimbus formed above him. A massive, platinum dragon’s claw manifested in the cloud, reached down and scooped Eredon up, pulling him into the cloud. The nimbus quickly dissipated. Neil Mennar’s body began splintering into chunks, then into smaller pieces – which were carried away on the winds.

Finally, Nox bloodied Angelus – but this proved fruitless, as the twin angels merged together and formed into a gargantuan amalgamation, a twisted mockery of angels. It struck back against Nox, scoring a critical blow!

Nox fell to her knees. The lights around her sputtered, and shadows began moving of their own accord. Hands rose from them and latched onto her form, wrenching her in multiple directions, but always downward. Screaming, she vanished into the darkness.

Angelus and Necrosis returned to their positions. Faint echoes of mocking laughter echoed through the now otherwise-silent grand chamber again.

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