“Three years had elapsed. Three years of sitting around, bored, clearing out one orc nest after another,” Rift mused, as she sipped at her glass of Nentir ’97, then downed the rest in one gulp.
“Enough of this idleness.”
Rift, Z’alden, Erik, Tira, and Barrick were finally reunited, but for how long?
Suddenly, Lars burst into the room. “We must improve the castle!” he shouted to no one in particular.
“Um, okay?” exclaimed Erik.
Lars ignored the bemused ranger. As his body started glowing with divine light, the five adventurers backed away slowly. Tira fingered her dagger, wondering whether the dwarf had gone mad, or perhaps had had too many late nights with his screaming brat, Dweezil. Erik could never fathom why someone would want to saddle themselves with a wretched urchin. He would never be caught in such an abominable situation. He had enough trouble keeping track of his twin blades.
Z’alden recognized the glow. “By Bahamut, Pelor, and Moradin, we must get him to the temple.”
Lars continued to babble. “Start of a great civilization, where everything happens again.”
His eyes started to glow. “Arkosha, the Bal-Torath empire, where every race could come together.”
Tira rolled her eyes, and nudged Rift in the ribs. “Whacked, this one.”
Lars continued, “You need to find the chosen one, who has the ear of the people and gods. Seek the council of six. Find the answer within the well.”
At the mention of a well, Z’alden’s ears perked up. “Lars is not mad. He is speaking of those who follow a different path of Bahamut, the followers of Pure Justice.”
Just then, their nemesis-turned-boss, Ur Feyn, appeared. The lich looked the same as ever, all skin and bones, his clothes hanging in tatters. Pointing his decaying fingers at the stunned adventurers, he croaked, “You must seek out a tome far to the south. The Book of Vile Darkness.”
Tira gaped at the undead horror. “Is it just me, or are things getting strange around here? Barrick, did you spike the mead again?”
The lich turned his head all the way around to glare at Tira. “You.” he said. “And you,” he continued, looking down at the horrified dwarf. “Seek the tome.” Suddenly, Barrick and Tira disappeared in a cloud of greasy smoke.
“Hey!” shouted Z’alden. “At least give us something in return to make up for the loss of our two companions.”
“Very well” whispered Ur Feyn with an evil cackle. “What’s fair is fair. I give you a manual of the planes. Use it wisely.” And with another cloud of greasy smoke, the lich disappeared, leaving a large tattered tome in his place.
After recovering from their shock, Erik, Z’alden, and Rift pondered the words of Lars and Ur Feyn.
“Lars said a council of six,” muttered Rift. “Who is the sixth?”
“That’s easy!” said Erik. “Our long-lost companion, Felsmon.”
Z’alden slapped Erik on the back. “My friend, you are a genius! We must seek out our friend Felsmon.”
After a journey of many days, the three travellers reached Kendistar, the capitol of Kengistan. To their dismay, they found that Felsmon was now the ruler of the Kengi. His adventuring days were over. But, Felsmon told them what he knew of the followers of Pure Justice.
“Seek the Scion of Arkosha. You are looking for a magic font in the Lost Temple of Bahamut. The followers of Pure Justice, or Justicars, have been seeking it for many years. Head to their monastery to the northwest and they should be able to guide you in your quest.”
“We thank you greatly, mighty chief of the Kengi,” said Z’alden, as he bowed low to his friend. “And now, I need to go clothes shopping.”
Rift gave Erik a puzzled look. “Clothes?” she asked Z’alden.
“Of course! We must be attired as true champions of Bahamut! And besides, the wizard stinks and you, my friend, have holes in your cloak.”
Erik spluttered. “Holes? I have no holes! This cloak is made from the finest deer hide. It was dyed in the richest wheatgrass, which, I might add, makes a wonderful pick-me-up drink in the morning.”
Rift rolled her eyes. “The cleric is right. I do stink, and your cloak has holes. Come,” she added, “I’m buying.”
Mounted on drakes, wearing their new garb, and smelling more-or-less clean, Z’alden, Rift, and Erik rode off to seek the monks.
Z’alden waved his mace high over his head, then, looking down at his burnt red drake, shouted “I shall name you ‘Razorbeak’!”
Erik, not wanting to be left out, whipped out his swords. “And you, my gray-blue friend, shall be called ‘Ironclaw’!”
Rift peered at her two strange friends, then looked down at her forest green drake. He looked up at her expectantly, his face scarred from many battles. “Um, ‘Scarface’?” she exclaimed tentatively. The drake seemed satisfied with his new name, racing to catch up to Razorbeak and Ironclaw.
The monk glared at Z’alden, Rift, and Erik. “Bahamut gave me a vision of three travellers seeking the Lost Temple.”
The three had arrived safely at the monastery, and after watching the dragonborn monks meditating and practicing swordplay, had finally managed to convince the head monk, or Justicar, that they were indeed the travellers in his vision.
The Justicar sighed. “Come, I will show you what we have found.”
He led them down into a stone library beneath the monastery. “We discovered the temple a few years ago.”
The monk sighed again and closed his eyes, as if the memory was too painful. “We attempted to enter the temple. But we were repulsed by evil creatures. Scaled demons. We fought them. I fought as best as I could. I swear it. But in the end, I had to flee. I alone survived.”
Z’alden could see the dragonborn’s pain. Putting a hand on his scaly arm, he said “Follower of Bahamut, mighty Justicar, I am sure that you fought well. None could have fought better. But you were right to flee. For if you had not, then who would have returned with the tale? Who could then lead us to the Temple?”
The monk took his hands down from his face. “Perhaps there is truth in your words, noble cleric. Come, I will lead you.”
After a journey of many days, in which the monk never rested, and Erik and Rift complained bitterly, the group reached the hexagon-shaped temple.
“I can go no further,” exclaimed the monk. Turning abruptly, he disappeared quickly into the trees, almost running in his haste to be away from the scene of his disgrace.
Inside the ruins, the ranger quickly found the remains of the Justicar’s companions, moldering away in the dust. “But where were the demons?” he wondered. As soon as the thought entered his mind, he felt a cold draft from behind, as if a door had opened to another dimension.
“Behind you!” shouted Z’alden.
Erik gazed at Z’alden in horror. “No, behind you!”
Erik spun and shot his bow, point blank at the evil demon. “Rift, what is it?” he shouted.
“A ‘sorrowsworn’ elemental, if I’m not mistaken,” Rift answered, firing off a blast of combustable gas.
Z’alden also answered, “Aye, that’s what they are. But ‘sorrowsworn’ or no, I swear that they will rue the day they met Zenithar al Denithar!” The cleric’s hands burned, a ball of solar wrath glowing, turning the undead into flames. “One down!"
Erik fired his bow again and again. “Take that, and that!” The arrows buried themselves into the demon. Then Erik, drawing his swords, cut the last demon in half, the creature still screaming as it collapsed to the floor, shrieking and gurgling as it’s evil essence flowed away.
Panting and recovering his arrows, Erik looked around the room warily. “Look, a chest!”
Rift eyes the chest eagerly. “It’s trapped, I’m sure of it! But don’t worry, I’ve got this!” she said excitedly. “I’m an expert!”
Z’alden and Erik backed away, the ranger closing his eyes to a narrow slit, his face scrunched up in concern. Z’alden shook his head, and began to speak, “Rift, are you sure you know…”
Just then, there was a tremendous “whoomph!” as the chest exploded open. Darts flew in all directions, their tips glistening evilly with a purplish liquid. Rift staggered back, her arms and torso punctured by the tiny barbs.
“Whoops!” she exclaimed. As the cleric tended to her wounds, she happily said, “I got it open, no?”
Erik sighed. “Yes, and for what it’s worth, there were 5000 platinum and 15 astral diamonds.”
Z’alden whistled in amazement. “Quite a haul. We shall have to dedicate this to Bahamut."
The brave party pushed onwards into the temple. They came at last to a set of giant doors, the height of three staffs, made of solid stones and carved with the symbol of Bahamut. Erik pushed on the doors, which slowly swung open, perfectly balanced. A giant temple lay beyond. Fonts filled with platinum light shown in the corners, and a great statue of Bahamut filled one side. Z’alden walked in, his eyes shining in the reflected platinum glow. This was indeed a temple of Bahamut to be proud of.
Erik and Rift approached the statue cautiously. Although the temple was dedicated to good, there could still be something evil lurking inside. Sure enough, just as the ranger stepped onto the statue’s dias, a tiny voice piped up.
“Who disturbs the sleep of Nahrlzen Albavar?” the voice screeched.
Erik and Rift jumped back. A tiny demon appeared beneath the claw of Bahamut. “You, intruders, you shall pay for bothering me!” Hopping madly from one foot to another, the demon snapped his clawed fingers.
“Alas!” cried Z’alden, “what is that foul thing doing in my temple?” Rift and Erik followed Z’alden’s gaze. A huge abomination of flesh lumbered out of thin air, it’s eyes protubing grotesquely from its bulbous head. Spotting the cleric, the abomination roared and lumbered towards the horrified half-elf.
Erik’s eyes gleamed. Quickly pulling out a magic whetstone, he applied it to his wicked swords. “Now there is a worthy foe!”
Rift spun around, trying to spot the tiny demon. “It’s disappeared!” she shouted. Then, the demon flickered into existence, right behind the hapless wizard. “Ah ha!” he cried. "Nahrlzen Albavar, the great servant of Jarraxxus, will get you!”
Terrible spells rained down on the wizard and the cleric. The cleric succumbed first, dropping heavily to the floor, but quickly using his powers of divine recovery to get back up. The wizard soon followed, Rift’s too-short life passing before her elven eyes. But the cleric was able to save her from the brink, throwing all of his healing might into a blast of divine radiance. Z’alden quickly followed that with a strike on the tiny demon, banishing him to an extraplanar prison where he might contemplate his transgressions.
Meanwhile, Erik continued to slash at the abomination, dodging the giant’s clumsy fists and burying his blades deep into the fleshy construct. “I claim this prize!” shouted Erik as he delivered the final killing blow to the monster. It dropped in a great heap of steaming flesh, already dissolving back into the primordial slime from whence it came.
Rift, Erik, and Z’alden fought on against the tiny demon, until, after a final blow from Erik’s sword, it disappeared with a final wailing “Nooooooooooo!”. The demon was gone, banished to his own demonic plane.
Wiping the sweat from his brow, Z’alden contemplated the statue. “There is a puzzle here that I cannot fathom.”
Erik and Rift began shoving and pulling at the statue. It moved, but only in certain directions. Finally, the cleric realized the solution. “Move the right wing higher, then the statue forward.” Erik obeyed, shrugging his shoulders. But indeed, that was the trick. The statue moved forward, uncovering a large pool of liquid. It was the well of eternity!
Z’alden kneeled and dipped his diamond vial into the pool. Without hesitation, he quaffed the platinum liquid. “The Universe!” he cried, “it wants me to win!” Z’alden suddenly felt as if this was the luckiest day of his life.
Rift eagerly followed Z’alden’s example, drinking her own vial of liquid from the pool. “I feel wise beyond my years!” she said in a surprised voice.
Erik stared at his two comrades suspiciously. “Are they deluded?” he wondered. There was only one way to find out. “Bottoms up!” he exclaimed, as he downed the vial.