Chapter 51 - Awakenings

Cut Scene

CONTENT

Scene 1 - Fireside Chat

Arthus sat quietly, watching as each of his brothers wrestled with their own inner conflicts. William and Alec begin a pointed and cautious conversation, each trying to measure the other with every word. Arthus was intent on listening, but his eyes kept drifting to Alisaar standing at the edge of camp on an outcropping of razor sharp rocks.

He studied the dragonborn’s stoic silhouette and drifted momentarily to another place. Alisaar stood on the parapets of a massive granite wall. Behind him was a sprawling tiered city built from stone, crystal, and metal. Flags flew from the tops of massive towers and battlements bearing the draconic imagery and runes of all the metallic sub-races. Assembled before him was a gleaming army of metallic dragonborn. They were tens of thousands strong, and were accompanied by a sky filled with their true-dragon kin. Alisaar’s scales gleamed in the suns as he raised the relic halberd overhead and called to them, and their response shook the ground for miles. Alisaar launched himself from the wall and led the march to engage the chromatic armies.

Arthus watched as the image blurred and reformed with Alisaar perched atop Aurax at the center of a sprawling natural amphitheater. Sunlight flooded the area, and Alisaar’s scales blazed with the prismatic beauty of flawless gemstones imbued with a golden internal fire. Dragonborn filled Arthus’ vision, and as he scanned the surrounding landscape he looked with awe on the gathering of more dragonborn than he had even realized existed. They numbered perhaps in the hundreds of thousands, and their scales were of every conceivable pigment. Alisaar surveyed the gathering and his chest swelled with pride.

Arthus drifted back to the oppressive misery of the mithal and began listening more intently to William and Alec’s conversation. This was just in time to see Alec focusing intently on William and then quickly averting his eyes as if pained by the sight of him. He looked back at the knight with his mouth slightly agape. The three of them discussed what Alec had seen, what William had been concealing for some time. He was not just a blessed knight of Pelor, he was the Son of Pelor!

As was his way, William downplayed things, but the knowledge of his true nature was enough to stir his companions. Arthus wondered how this would affect William’s place in the Church, and admitted that it was probably best to keep it to himself for the time being. He also wondered, though not aloud, what this would eventually mean for William and Alec. Alec’s continued change into more fiend than “man” was obvious, and what Arthus knew of the gods was that they were polarized in their view of the mortal realms. Some things just were simply unacceptable, and if the Knights of Pelor warred openly with the tieflings, what would they do to a full-blooded prince of Hell in the presence of their god made man?

Arthus shivered at the though and was glad when the conversation moved to other topics.

Alec scanned each of the party in turn, though Arthus could not gauge his intent. Alec looked at Fizbin who was mulling over his own dilemma, but stopped briefly enough to tense and shoot a wicked look back at Alec who ceased his intrusion. He looked at Alisaar, still peering into the distance with a look of determination twisted on his face. Finally his gaze fell on Arthus, and the rogue jumped on the chance to return the favor.

Alec’s face registered surprise, but they each allowed the other a brief glimpse. Arthus saw Alec sitting upon the throne of Phlegethos, with Fierna at his side. He was a massive devil who ruled without challenge and Fierna was his devoted Queen. In a flash the image was gone and he saw Alec upon the same dais, but this time he was on his knees in front of the throne. Fierna had her hand around her lover’s neck and black ichor poured from the puncture wounds as her claw dug deeper into him. Her other hand was held high over her head as she writhed in the ecstasy of the kill. Alec’s body shuddered and went limp as Fierna’s eyes fell upon him to the thunderous cheers of her followers.

Arthus withdrew from the soulgaze and tried to look as unaffected as he could. He wondered for a moment what Alec had seen until he said “So, you know David? He has made himself quite an enemy to us.” Arthus answered flatly “Yes, what has he done to draw your ire?” Alec said “He has quite a few of our baubles.” Arthus nodded and didn’t pursue the line of questioning.

They each returned to talking with William, and finally Fizbin joined in as well. There was much they had left to do, and still so many unknowns, but the time was upon them to take the fight to their enemies. As they discussed how to handle their upcoming confrontation with Sirilius, Alisaar’s head snapped look in the distance. Something was out there. It was big and it was moving toward them. The party readied for battle.

Scene 2 - The Huntsman

Hunter of souls with 3 three-headed "Hell Hounds"

Scene 3 - Sparks of Power

The group had little time to rest after driving off the Huntsman. Within moments of his fleeing, Fizbin began to sense something odd within the weave. Soon a terrible force was being drawn to them, being drawn by the Aelid. Alec began sprinting on all fours up the massive stone arm of the ancient statue. Alisaar sailed past him as Alec screamed aloud that if the Aelid shattered they would never be able to navigate within the mithal. Arthus, Fizbin, and William followed with great haste.

Alisaar reached the Aelid first, and as he approached the aura of power that surrounded it time slowed and he hung motionless in space. Within the blinding light of the Aelid he saw an image from eons past. He witnessed Bahamut and Vorel colliding with one another in the heavens, and each one surrendered a modicum of his power with the impact. Left in their wake was the silhouette of a mighty dragonborn whose scales were resplendent with golden diamonds as Arthus had envisioned just a short time earlier. As the image burned into his heart and soul, Alisaar watched as diamond crystals began to break through his hide and encase the edges of the scales of his chest and left arm.

Fizbin’s eyes were drawn to the Aelid as the overwhelming energy rushed through him and into the ancient stone. As time slowed and space seemed to warp itself around him, Fizbin found himself watching a young and idealistic Sirilius as he enacted his grand design to destroy Jennesta.

It was impossible to tell whether these were images dragged from his “stowaway” or if somehow, beyond all reason, Fizbin was living these fragments of history alongside the arch-mage. It mattered little to Fizbin, who found himself privy to the research, preparations, and finally the actual weaving of the magics used to create Sirilius’ phylacteries. In what amounted to mere moments, Fizbin learned what might have taken a lifetime to unravel.

William watches a huddled figure from above, as if peering down from the heavens to look upon one of Pelor’s faithful.

An old man sits wrapped in blankets in front of the fireplace. His breath is slow and shallow, but his eyes drift up away from the fire with a look of contentment. He has led a good life, he has been a good husband and father, he has been honest and when the time has called for it brave. He looks at the mantle where several prized possessions sit. His worn though sturdy sword, and a few remembrances of his departed wife.

In truth, he is glad to leave this life. He has been without the company of his wife for many years, and has lost his son in the great war. He smiles and knows in his heart that he will be reunited with them soon, and they will all rest in Pelor’s light for eternity. So he has believed his whole life, and as his father taught him, so did he teach his son. The world is a cold gray place now, and it holds no happiness for him anymore. The knowledge that his time is short is his only comfort.

The old man sits and drifts through many memories, unaware that the dark armies march in his direction this night. The knowledge that his time is short is their only comfort.

William knows that this old man is the last of his Father’s believers outside of Tamirel. When he is gone, Pelor’s light will shine no place but here, diminished as it is. The only question left lingering is whether this was a vision of the past, present, or future.

Arthus scrambled up the steep incline with his head down as he strained against the rising mystical tempest. As he looked up to see the Aelid, everything around him seemed to fade away.

Arthus felt himself being pulled away from the ground, sailing through the clouds and above all Tamirel. Soon he could see the entire cosmos before him, then the heavens, and soon beyond. The entire multiverse was before him, and he could sense that there was an ultimate truth just moments from revealing itself to him. Suddenly, just as a being of impossible magnitude lifted his gaze from the entirety of existence to look upon Arthus, he was pulled away. He was pulled with the full measure of Lilith’s power and back to his own consciousness. Arthus stumbled, fell, and sprawled across the rocky terrain and just barely caught himself before falling over the edge. Anger and disappointment faded as the realization that whatever it was he was about to uncover would have destroyed him. He lay on the ground, still trying to re-orient himself to the here and now, and mouthed the name Ao. As he did, it was if a ripple went through all of creation, but just as quickly it was forever gone. Simply, no one was allowed to know that name, but now Arthus did. He flared his eyes as he stood and continued to catch up with the others, a silent acknowledgement to himself that this was a giant moment, one that would resonate through the rest of his existence.

The sudden realization that David was Ao’s token stunned him yet again. David was the Breaker, Ao’s equalizer to keep his children’s games in balance. He wished to Hell that he could talk to David at that very moment, but he would have to deny himself the answers he so badly wanted for a great while. It was torture.

Cut Scene

The party stands in the massive palm of the ancient statue of a Titan long forgotten by history. Each of them is rendered exhausted in some measure by the profound experience of the Aelid's power. Time is all but still as they are all caught motionless in the event horizon of the confluence of magical energies.


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