Chapter 46 - An Overdue Reunion

Cut Scene

Alec's torment continues

Scene 1 - Everything gets back to… normal?

Arthus walked through the door of the Oak, all the while ignoring the stares and gasps of those he passed. He was well aware that he looked like he had been crawling around in the sewers for the last few days and probably smelled worse, but right now he didn’t care. As much as he wanted a hot bath and a laundry tub, he was riding high on his accomplishment.

He opened the door to the stale and rotting death that covered the large main room of the Towering Oak. Arthus took a deep breath and let it out slowly, calming himself as he did so. He closed and barred the door behind him, set his gear down and stripped off his clothes. He washed his clothes again and again until he was satisfied that whatever he took back from Aragonia was dumped into the city sewers. After a long bath and several bandages and salves were applied Arthus threw on some simple clothes and packed his gear neatly in his backpack.

Arthus had a drink while speaking at length with a rejuvenated Lilith. They laughed and talked about simple things as he scrubbed the gore from the walls and floorboards. Arthus was sure he could have managed a few simple cantrips and set the grand bar and inn back to its former glory, but there was something very soothing about the work. Maybe it was the result of growing up on a farm, but even though his limbs ached and he would occasionally have to fight off some nausea, he really did feel better as he worked.

As he talked with Lilith Arthus saw flashes of the Oak as it appeared in many different realities, each was fascinating and had its own allure, but in the end Arthus preferred it as it was, at least here, and felt it wasn’t his prerogative to change it. Lilith shrugged and tilted her head quizzically, but Arthus was sure that any other “version” of the Oak would just not be right here.

Soon Arthus had worked though the night, and the Oak was showing signs of improvement. He took a quick break to return the gifts that the Keepers had seen fit to lend him, and was quickly back to his chores. He had learned that Albert, the proprietor of the Towering Oak, was killed in its defense during the battle, and Arthus made sure to police the body and have the Keepers honor him properly.

Soon another day gave way to nightfall, and Arthus lit the candle chandeliers along with the fireplace and most of the lamps. The Oak looked quite serene by firelight, and Arthus continued sweeping up the last bit of debris. He talked with Lilith and admired his handiwork as the shined wood of the bar glimmered in the flickering lights.

The night wore on, and as Arthus was preparing to go to bed there was a knock at the front door as someone tried the doorknob.

Arthus’ head snapped up and he shouted “We’re closed!”

Again there was a knock and Arthus felt very aware of the swords crossed on his back. “Well, who is it then?” He barked.

“Your competition.” A light female voice said.

As far as Arthus was aware, Flint was his only competition, and while calling the rival Seeker a whiny little girl was about the nicest thing he ever said, he was fairly sure this wasn’t him.

Arthus unlocked the door and opened it, but stood in the doorway and sized up the young elf.

“Well, let it never be said that I refused a woman a drink.” Arthus said, begrudging the girl entrance.

Lilith snorted, poking fun at him, and Arthus shot her a sideways look.

As Anastasia walked to the bar, Arthus walked around and asked “So what would you like?”

The girl produced a dusty wine bottle and held it out. “I thought we might try this.” She said with a mischievous smile. It was a bottle of Saerloonian wine roughly fifty or sixty years old.

Arthus raised an eyebrow and fought the urge to hop over the bar. His eyes narrowed as he said “You really need to tell me where you got that little girl.” There was no humor in his voice. The past two days recovery had done quite a bit for his wounds, but very little to ease his heart, and it was too coincidental that this girl would knock on his door with a bottle of Fizbin’s family wine only days after his supposed demise.

Anastasia hesitated for a moment, measuring her response. Perhaps the joke was wearing thin.

Arthus’ legs tensed ever so slightly, and he envisioned himself leaping over the bar and landing behind the girl with an acrobatic twist. He could drop her before she even had the chance to react, and then he would have answers, one way or the other.

“Arthus, it’s me… Fizbin!” The girl said, more convincingly than Arthus liked. It was enough to keep him standing still though.

“Excuse me?” He answered incredulously.

“Look at me… look in my eyes.” She said.

Arthus studied her features, and sure enough, her eyes could be Fizbin’s, or a trick of naga shapeshifting.

Arthus proceeded to question the girl at length about their childhood and the adventures of the past few months. She had all of the answers, and spoke as Fizbin would, so Arthus began to let his guard down. As she explained the nature of the magic involved in her transformation, and her reasons for doing so, Arthus became more convinced.

In some ways Arthus just wanted to believe her, since a trick like this would only enrage Jennesta further. Truth be told, that was all the explanation Arthus needed. Though he still found himself uncomfortable about the situation, he was learning to make the best of it. They shared the superb wine, and Arthus revealed the third Instrumentality that he had managed to liberate from Jennesta’s fortress.

Arthus regaled Anastasia with his tale of Aragonia, and how he was able to negotiate the perils of the fortress. He also recounted the living dream that acted as Lilith’s prison, his battle with the demon witch, and his escape. Soon it was well into night, and Arthus retired to Albert’s chamber for a quick nap before sunrise.

According to Lilith William and Alisaar would be arriving in the morning, and Arthus was already anxious to get to the Sommerset Isle.

Scene 2 - All for One

The next morning William and Alisaar arrived at the Oak as Arthus was coming down for breakfast. They were unsure of what to make of things as Anastasia sat eating breakfast and Arthus seemed perfectly willing to discuss the intimate details of their mission in front of her. He and the girl tried to explain things, but neither William nor Alisaar was easily swayed to trust her.

Anastasia, in an attempt to prove her magical acumen, willed the door of the Oak to slam closed, which only made matters worse.

The building was at once bathed in blinding golden light as Kirharesh threw out his wings to their full length. The light blazed through every window and every gap in the woodwork. Aurax’s roar began to well up in his chest, and the rumble was enough to shake the entire structure.
Alisaar and William calmed their companions, but were no more willing to trust the strange elf girl. For now, it seemed like they had little choice if they were to get underway.

They were eager to go after Alec, and could hardly stand to wait for Arthus’ tale of master thievery. He supposed he should have been put out by their rude reception, but there was no arguing that Alec was in grave danger.

Still, Arthus had to show them that he had the Instrumentality, and fill them in on the recent events in Aragonia.

Arthus began unpacking and equipping himself for the journey, and as Alisaar sprang to Aurax’s back, then William to Kirharesh, he was determined not to be outdone. He turned to Fizbin and said “Let’s take a walk.” Then he called to William and Alisaar “We’ll meet you on the way!” he flashed a wry smile at Fizbin who shrugged and Arthus locked the door of the Towering Oak behind them.

Arthus led them out beyond the city walls toward the forest and in the distance they could barely hear a strange buzzing noise. Arthus smiled.

Arthus and Fizbin walked to a clearing and standing in the center was a gleaming silvery-white fighter plane. Arthus turned and patted Fizbin hard on the chest yelling in excitement “Ha!”

As he strode toward the strange machine, Arthus’ clothing took on a very different appearance. His flowing cloak vanished and was replaced by a shearling bomber jacket covered in patches. His skullcap bandana gave way to a leather flight helmet with odd looking goggles. Arthus was clothed in a flight suit and he threw a long white silk scarf around his neck as he climbed into the cockpit of “Death’s Consort.”

“Come on!” he called down to a bewildered Fizbin as he motioned for the wizard to climb into the gunner’s seat behind him. Arthus readied his radio headset, ran through a quick systems check, and began circling for takeoff.

Fizbin spoke tentatively into the radio microphone “Arthus… what the hell…” Arthus responded “It’s called an airplane… and it’s Colonel!”

Scene 3 - Where Angels Fear to Tread

The party made haste to the Sommerset Isle each determined to spare Alec whatever fate that Hell had in store. It must have been a confounding sight, Arthus’ airplane streaking across the sky with speed that even the legendary beasts bearing his companions could not match, then as he would lose them from radar Aurax would tear a rift in time and space and be right back on his six. Kirharesh had no such power, but every so often Arthus would have to double-take as he would catch sight the silhouette of the mighty griffon against the sun above him.

The flight was unexpectedly short as they managed to cover hundreds of miles in a few hours. They found a beachhead to land on and Arthus dismissed “Death’s Consort” back to the ether. As it vanished, Arthus’ clothes transfigured themselves back to their usual appearance. Aurax and Kirharesh launched into the sky and the looked incredulously at Arthus who smiled and shrugged.

William stepped to the swirling barrier that was the mithal and held out the “key” given him by his brother knight. Arthus’ ring warmed a bit and his mind was flooded with accounts of the might St. Cullen, an ancient Pelorian knight whose fingerbone was encased in the reliquary now in William’s possession.

The mithal quivered and a small opening began to form. The opening grew and though none of them could see within each stepped boldly through ready to conquer whatever the Sommerset Isle had to throw at them.

Cut Scene

Whatever powers dwell within the mithal, they are aware that something anathema has wandered into their domain. The Instrumentalities, not to mention the Son of Pelor, lit up like beacons to those that would have designs on that sort of power. Whether they would seek to corrupt that power to their own ends, or destroy it as a matter of course, they would seek it out. Welcome to Hell, boys.


Chapter 45 - An Unexpected Victory

Back to Books

Chapter 47 - Hell is Here


last edited by CaptainMonstrousCaptainMonstrous

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