As Ekdhrine is carried in, one of the shadows in the corner shifts, and Rook emerges without a sound to follow Ekdhrine’s sleeping form.
Ekdhrine turns in his sleep, “but, to protect…”
Rook’s eyes dart to the slightly scorched symbol of Ioun around the paladin’s neck, the acid and frost burns on his sword, and the sweat on his brow. After a long silence Rook speaks to Kothar without looking up. When he speaks it is with a flat, emotionless voice that betrays no concern or emotion.
“He poisoned himself?”
Kothar looks up a moment, eyes betraying surprise for a moment before fading back to their dark stoicism.
“You think he would have willingly…” he trails off, incredulous, as Eryndan lowers the Paladin onto the stone floor. He stares at Rook a moment before turning his attention back to Ekhdrine, growling faintly.
“He reeks of Her taint,” he says, shaking his head. He closes his eyes and passes a hand over the Dragonborn’s body, and frowns. “I can barely sense him underneath Tiamat’s filth. Is he even still…” he stops himself, looking up as Shysar bursts in the room.
The unspoken words hang heavy in the silence, before Kothar barks an order. “Squire, the incense and Looking-Shard. Quickly.”
“Yes, sir!,” the newly-minted Paladin manages, still staring.
“NOW,” he roars. Shysar turns to rush back out the way he came.
Eryndan follows Shysar with his eyes, shaking his head. “I can still smell the taint from that one,” he says with a growl.
“You there, Shifter, tell me what happened to him.” His scaly brows furrow in impatience.
“I’m not certain. Our ranger was bleeding out and ran from the room followed by an assassin. He left the room chasing the assassin and when he returned, he seemed to be bearing the heads of Tiamat on his shoulders for a short time. After we defeated a Tiamat priest, a dragon entered the sewer and roared, and the Paladin just collapsed as the thing flew away”
Rook raises his eyebrows, “A dragon in a sewer.”
“Was it a Black Dragon?” Kothar asks.
Eryndan looks at Kothar and slowly lets out, “Yes, but how…”
“Nightshade. She followed us through the desert, and we were still outrunning her when your party crossed paths with ours in Altaruk. One of Tiamat’s brood, and dangerous. I’d heard that she had infiltrated the city, but I couldn’t flush her out of hiding.” He reaches in his pack and pulls out a flower. “One of her hirelings left this for me some days ago. Not that the Shadar-Kai bastard ever had a chance.”
Eryndan’s eyes flash angrily.
“Did they come after Shysar when you arrived in the city?”
“We’ve had a run-in with them, and we’ve been looking into their operations, but they haven’t seemed to target any of us…”
“Perhaps they hadn’t become aware of your presence just yet, or they wanted to keep you alive for something else.” Kothar inclines his head, exhales deeply, and turns back to Ekdhrine.
“This five-headed dragon business. If what you say is true, then he had channeled Her power into him directly. Yet, for him to be able to conduct Her at all… I don’t understand. It doesn’t make sense,” the Paladin says, thinking aloud. He presses two fingers to his brow, frustrated.
“Our only other clue is Nightshade. Did she commune with him? Speak to him? Destroy him?”
Eryndan crosses his arms and leans back against a stone pillar. Rook says nothing.
“Sir, the items you called for.” Shysar’s words break the laden silence.
“Good, bring them here.” Kothar takes the mirror and gives the boy a bronze censer in the shape of a dragon. “Cleanse the room as I’ve taught you, and make the wards. Do this three times, and then we can begin to scry into his soul.”
Shysar nods and does as he is bidden.
The room brightens with silver rays, as when a cloud unveils the sun.
Kothar holds the mirror in both hands, reading aloud the Draconic inscribed along the circle’s border.
“Bahamut, Lurd uk sra Nursr, I corr
Crerdram uk Io Wa’ra Arr.
Oma rikbra karqoms bakura Aeui ksomdk
Tu vroae sros Yui kesrs vroca Yuir Romd
ivum srek kocrad kerrur, su seqa es Lesrs
sra qekeum uk Trisr, uk Jikseca, vros ek Resrs.”
To those that understand Draconic:
“Bahamut, Lord of the North, I call!
Children of Io We’re All.
One humble servant before You stands
To pray that You might place Your Hand
upon this sacred mirror, to give it Light
the vision of Truth, of Justice, what is Right.”
The mirror, once dull, erupts into Silver and Gold light. Within the brilliance they can actually See.
A storm of many elements is raging on an endless plain. lightning flashes, the land itself is on fire, and an icy wind blows. In the center of the plain sits a Dragonborn in cloth robes, eyes closed, chanting.
“I, dekcevra uk Iuim
Lesrs em sra dord
Baorar uk sra comdra uk Trisr.
(I, disciple of Ioun
Light in the dark
Bearer of the candle of Truth)
Five dragons pace around the Dragonborn in a small circle, periodically lashing out, but withdrawing as a barrier makes itself visible. The Dragonborn pays no notice.
“Fruks osoemks kera.
Froka osoemks eca.
Foesr osoemks sra arakamsk.”
(Frost against fire.
Flame against ice.
Faith against the elements.)
“YOU THINK TO SO EASILY BRUSH ASIDE MY INFLUENCE! YOU, WHO WELCOMED ME?”
A voice thunders across the plain followed by a wave of elements that devastates the ground it passes, but the Dragonborn and the ground around him remain untouched.
“Kaavar uk kae kuir
Kaavar uk dmuvradsa
Kaavar uk resrs.”
(Keeper of my soul
Keeper of knowledge
Keeper of right)
Light starts to surround the Dragonborn, the ground around him shines with an unearthly glow.
“Ssramssr em sra dord
Ssramssr em odqarkesae
Ssramssr su uqarcuka!”
(Strength in the dark
Strength in adversity
Strength to overcome!)
The ground erupts in radiant light, blinding the five dragons. As they reel the Dragonborn strides forth, swinging a massive sword twice his size made entirely of light. He swiftly dispatches three, and wounds a fourth, but the two remaining dragons recover and lift off, circling the dragonborn.
Ekdhrine bellows. Lightning arcs, hitting him three times. He drops to a knee. The injured Red Dragon, seeing an opportunity, lunges in and snaps at his neck. Ekdhrine swings his left arm in the way, and, with his left arm deep in the Red Dragon’s jaw, whips out a dagger with his right and plunges it into the dragon’s throat. Ekdhrine rips the dagger down and through its neck.
Wings burst from his back and he jumps into the sky, throwing off the death-grip of the Red. He and the Black dragon circle each other, blood flying off of Ekdhrine as he struggles with his wounds. With a final effort, Ekdhrine lunges forward, gutting the Black, but getting savagely shredded by the it’s claws. He falls to the earth, where he is still.
Outside the mirror, Rook closes his eyes. Moments later a cloaked figure appears in the plane next to Ekdhrine. Ekdhrine’s sword has vanished, and his body is starting to fade, the entire plane is starting to become fuzzy and inconsistent, until only the cloaked figure and Ekdhrine remain clear. All the while, the cloaked figure is slowly chanting under his breath, and the dissipating form of Ekdhrine begins to flow into the cloaked form. As the plane is almost completely gone, A roar reverberates.
Rook’s cloak is blown across his face, and his body is rocked by the force of the scream. A five-headed dragon appears at the edge of sight but he continues channeling until the last of Ekdhrine has flowed into him. The dragon lets loose a blast of elements that consumes the mirror’s field of vision, but outside the mirror Rook opens his eyes.
The mirror falls to the floor with a clatter and goes blank.