Fall of Kingdoms
Fish in a Barrel
Emerging from the water into the dank and musty lair of a sahuagin dragon-cult, our heroes shivered slightly in the cold and damp. The darkness around them seemed pervasive, but they squared their shoulders and pressed on. Renic of the unquenchable heart raised his sword against the gloom and, with the radiance of his sun-blessed blade, sent the shadows to flight before him.
In the light of that sword, the warriors saw before them three paths. To the right, the tunnel descended once more into darkness; its depths could not be fathomed from where the heroes stood, but the ranger Carla declared that it led to no joy. Directly ahead lay a second passage, but it descended again into water, and not far below was sight of a filling of rubble and dust. To the left, then, was the only tenable passage.
Gaahl, the elf born of misery, took to the van in their advance and, with steps as quiet as starlight, came upon several sleeping sahuagin.
Although the sharks seemed helpless, all present knew their fury and bloodlust, and so it was decided, even without a word being said, that the sleepers would have their slumber made final. For this task, it was again Gaahl who was chosen, and he set to the task of slitting throats. One, then another sahuagin died without waking. It was not long, however, until the stench of land-dwellers shook the remaining sleepers to wakefulness. They leaped to their feet and took up their tridents. The battle was joined. But lo, although the sharks were fierce and fearsome, our heroes were doughty in their own, and although the sharks fought furiously, their time remained short and was soon at an end. Cleaning their blades, the delvers delved onward.
Once more, they came upon a cavern of cultists. Again, it was Gaahl Swift-cut he led the way. This time, there was no such luck as to come upon the sahuagin sleeping, and though they were locked in verbal duels, it took little to turn their ire toward the interlopers. Swiftly, too swiftly, the sharks turned their tridents against the elf.
So it was that Getri the green-hearted charged into the fray and, with a daring cry, incensed the sharks; he drew all wrath unto himself. The act, although born in valor, hewed to fear, as Getri’s perturbing impetuousness, more galling than Gaahl’s, begot a flurry of blows to be unleashed upon his plated pate. Yet it was not the paladin’s day to fall. In a blaze of glory, Renic joined the fight, and he left behind him naught more than a gory blaze. Zachary, too, came to allies’ aid, and by his power ensured that all (save sahuagin) had the strength to fight again.
Another battle joined and done, the heroes caught their breath before pressing on once more. This time, when they came upon their foes, both sides were prepared. The third and final host of foes that would be encountered on that day were found within their temple. It once had been a shrine to their proper god, an aspect of the wise Melora, but it was clear to all who gazed upon that edifice that the devotions of those denizens had turned to a darker and more draconic deity. Our heroes steeled themselves and entered.
Getri and Renic, the most stalwart of the lot, took to the front line, standing in the door of the temple and daring any and all to attempt passage. Against that line did shark upon shark crash in frenzied assault, yet not once did that line falter or fail. Behind this bulwark, the sorceress Polgara, both fetching and elusive, chose this moment to unleash her potent magic. She dropped a shroud—the seeming of an earthbound stormcloud—upon the ground around her friends. From within this shroud, her allies struck and were defended. From within this shroud, Getri and Renic shrugged off blows more easily. From within this shroud, Gaahl fletched death. From within this shroud, Zachary’s heart failed less. This was not her only spell, however, and Polgara saw across the room to the sahuagin priest, in his brass and brazen gear. With spells most fell and mighty, she struck and struck again against this foe, with the bolts of quarrelsome Zachary not far behind each blast. These deeds were great, and yet there was more magic that day, for the sahuagin priest retaliated with his own incantations, yet Polgara’s rebuke was the more potent, for she turned the vile magics against the priest’s own kind. It was not long before shark blood filled the room.
In all this, however, one question remained. The relic had not been found. Indeed, the voice of the blue dragon could be heard in the minds of our heroes, but it roused only to taunt and mock. Our heroes set about a search of the room. Although they looked high and low, however, none could find another passage. None, that is, until Zachary’s cunning eye spotted such a portal secreted within the walls. Armed with this knowledge, it was not long before the party was able to open the door and proceed.
They came to a second temple grounds, these unfinished, and the full scope of the relic’s conceit was impressed upon them. It seemed that the worship of Tiamat was to be revived in these lands. In another day, it would have begotten an duty within some present to end this temple for that reason alone, but this was a much graver time, and so this new knowledge changed little. They pressed on. Even when their way was blocked by hidden lightning, they pressed on. Traps that were laid before our heroes were disarmed, and they pressed on.
At last, they came upon the dragon herself, wreathed in crackling force and taunting their advance. Undeterred, they stepped forth to make their case. They spoke to her of battles and demons, of dragons platinum and chromatic, of the chained one, of his servants, and even of the servants of the younger gods. They told her of the day they lived in and of their mission. At times, their words seemed to fall upon uncaring ears, and perhaps they often did, but at last they were able to persuade the relic into their box.
Their mission successful, the heroes left those caves. This time, they left with the company of one god and, although they only would discover it late, the favor of another. Truly, it was a fortuitous and portentous day.