Conclusion : Twilight of the Gods
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Posted 27 October 2002 - 06:18 PM
Twilight Conclusion : Twilight of the Gods
'It all started with a simple job, trying to track down orcish raiders in the desert,' Vierna thought to herself as she stalked the dark halls of Argent Brightstar's tower. 'Who could have thought I'd be running around in this tower, trying to prevent the world from being shattered? Figures... Adventuring is just one of those unpredictable careers.'
Trying to keep as silent as she could, even calling upon her little innate dark elven abilities, she slowly made her way up the winding staircase. The sounds of battle raging outside reached Vierna's ears, even through the thick stone, adding a sense of haste to her endeavour.
Vierna surmised she was quite a bit above the ground as she finally reached the end of the staircase. The upper floor of the tower didn't seem very special. It merely looked like another corridor, connecting to some more rooms. Glancing into the rooms, revealed the remnants of a forgotten past. A once luxurious and ornate bedchambers was now in a state of disrepair and disuse. The same thing applied to a once great dining hall.
It was different for the third room, however... The library was illuminated with magical lights, and the writing desk had seen centuries worth of intensive use. The bookcases itself were piling over as well. Vierna took a moment to silently skim the titles. To her horror, she found that every single book in the gigantic library of thousands was related to dark magical secrets, mostly pertaining to necromancy and charm-spells.
Vierna sighed as she leafed through a few of the books, only to toss the book down in disgust as she noticed the 'ink' used to pen the magic on the paper was actually elven blood. The book fell on the floor with a dull thud, causing Vierna to hold her breath in fear that she would have been heard. But she was only met by silence.
After silently kicking the offending book under the bookshelf, she took another look at the books. She was certain this collection had come from all over Toril, and that Argent must have spend a lot of time, money and effort in gathering these often unique works.
Leaving the books behind, she decided to slip out of the room, and continue on the path the corridor would lead her. And, indeed, she arrived at a large balcony, overlooking the valley below. She could see that this room used to be roofed and walled, but that both had been removed later. In the middle of the room stood Argent Brightstar, standing with his back to her and over a strange-looking altar.
Immediately, Vierna ducked behind the doorpost and watched the Death Knight from around the corner, being careful to stay as quiet as a mouse. She almost gasped as she noticed that, among a myriad of spell-components, the very items they had gathered lay on the strangely-formed altar. The Death Knight spoke a few words and, under a blinding flash of light, the altar absorbed the spell-components. Strangely enough, the very shape of the altar was changing now, becoming more irregular. A set of ten tendrils emerged from the slab of lava-rock...
Vierna watched as Argent Brightstar opened a satchel and removed the ten jars filled with human hearts, the same hearts that were stolen from them back at the Caliph's palace in Calimport. Carefully, the Death Knight placed the ten hearts in the waiting tendrils and, one-by-one, the tendrils holding the hearts were drawn back into the slab of lava-rock. After a second blinding flash, the alter hummed with power. Only being a minor mage was enough for Vierna to know that Argent had just cast the augmentation-spell. Then, almost reverently, Argent took a small scroll from his pouch, scraped his undead throat and started to read.
The Drow adventurer glanced past the Death Knight to the battle between her friends and family and the never ending hordes of undead. And soon, Argent's powerful spell would be cast. She knew she had to stop it... But she would never reach Argent in time to stop him, nor would she be able to get the drop on the powerful Death Knight.
But, then, she had a wonderful idea.
"Keep running!" Lenny shouted as he and his friends ran from the staircase.
"Another fine mess you've gotten us into, gnome!" Glyill snarled as she grasped her holy mace a little tighter.
"Hey!" the gnome retorted. "How was I supposed to know that thing could go through the door?!"
In the meantime, the horrible sounds of wailing and horror were coming closer and closer.
"It can walk down the stairs?" Shivon muttered while Brimstone growled from the pit of his stomach.
"Heads up," Lenny said as he rose his spear. "We've got a living wall to fight!"
Reaching down in her pack, she felt around, and smelt broadly when she felt the rubbery smooth skin of the creature she had captured in the Calimport library. Vierna gently pulled out the sleeping brown pseudodragon, who seemed to have been hibernating for the past month.
"Come on," Vierna muttered as she rubbed some warmth into the reptilian creature. "Come on, wake up..."
For a moment the tiny pseudodragon stirred. Then, she rose her neck and blinked her reptilian eyes at Vierna.
"Why hast thou awakened this bookwyrm at this morn?
Have you returned to me to my homeland, where I was born?" the bookwyrm replied in her usual rhyming voice.
"Not yet, I'm afraid," Vierna smiled. "But we are nearby."
"Nearby, far enough be!" the Bookwyrm smiled. "For your help getting home, I thank thee!"
"You know, I could really use your help now. It'll be fun, and you get to help save the world," Vierna grinned.
"Ah, sounds interesting this does!" the Bookwyrm smiled back. "Tell me, how to help I must!"
Vierna took the small pseudodragon in her palms and led it back to the balcony. There, she pointed out the Death Knight, and more importantly, the spell scroll he was holding.
"See that scroll?" Vierna smiled.
"See I do, a tasty treat!" the Bookwyrm licked her lips. "I shall have no trouble performing this feat."
And, in an instant, the bookwyrm was off, shooting towards the Death Knight with amazing speed. Just as Argent was about to read the final words on the scroll, the bookwyrm let out a giggle, flew over the spell scroll and sucked it out of his hands.
"WHAT?!" Argent roared as he regarded the bookwyrm.
"Tee-hee!" the bookwyrm giggled as she ate the delicious magical paper and settled on top of one of the partially torn-down walls.
Argent then swirled around when he heard two blades being drawn. He was suddenly faced with an angry Drow with fire in her eyes.
"You again?!" Argent sighed. "You are indeed a worthy opponent. How did you escape my living wall?"
"I kinda jumped over it," Vierna smiled. "Mind if I put my foot to your nose in a few minutes?"
"This changes nothing, you know?" Argent sighed as he protectively shielded the enspelled altar. "A new spell scroll will be scripted in less than an hour..."
"You have to have the chance to do so, first..." Vierna smiled wickedly.
"Very well," Argent smiled, a skeletal smile. "If it is battle you wish, I shall oblidge you..."
That said, Argent drew a huge two-handed sword which had been strapped on his back. The color of the blade, which had once been a holy avenger, was the same as the Death Knight's armor : Charred black metal. It shone with a hellish fiery light. No doubt this personalized weapon had been corrupted when the knight had been.
'Dammit,' Vierna muttered inwardly. 'It's never a good sign when someone is holding a powerful and heavy two-handed sword with only ONE hand...'
But Vierna was ready to engage, crossing her blades as she approached the Death Knight. Unfortunately, she was not prepared for the secondary effects the nearness of a Death Knight can have.
Having been born and raised on the surface instead of the Underdark, meant that Vierna had only inherited a mere fraction of the Drow people's powerful magic resistance, and thus, she was not protected from the magically induced fear the Death Knight was radiating. Vierna was hit with a vast amount of irrational fear, as the Death Knight even seemed to be growing in size for every inch she came closer to the creature.
Argent brought down his sword on Vierna's crossed blades, painfully forcing the determined dark elf to take a few steps back. Vierna recovered and prepared a spinning attack in the hope of confusing the Death Knight. But Argent was anything but confused. During the attack, Argent blocked the advancing Drow, not only succeeding in driving Vierna back, but also knocking Arguvandel from her hand. The powerful longsword landed on the floor and skidded along, until it slided off the now open platform and plummeted into the depths below, out of Vierna's reach.
Vierna steeled herself and took hold of the Equalizer with both hands. Argent only had a mask of grim determination in his dead eyes as he rose his blade a second time.
The Drow saw her chance now. Calling upon her loaded spell-sequencer, she realized an awesome array of magical powers upon the Death Knight. Three sets of magic missle, two force missiles, two lightning bolts and one disruption-wave slammed into the Death Knight's chest...
"Oh, you've GOT to be kidding me!" Vierna exclaimed when she noticed the magics had not affected Argent at all.
With her magic spent, Vierna decided to attack one last time. She dove forward, ramming the Equalizer against the Death Knight's armor. Instead, the powerful sword had no effect. Vierna felt a painful strain in her wrist as the sword clanged against the metal armor and flew from her hand, landing a few feet away from her and leaving Vierna defenseless against a very dangerous and powerful opponent.
Vierna waited for taunts that never came and for threats that were never made. Argent said nothing, but took a few steps back. The Death Knight and pointed his own sword at the Equalizer, signaling Vierna to pick up her weapon and continue the fight. Then, Vierna understood. Even though the Death Knight had been cursed by the gods, he still maintained his former sense of honor in combat.
It was then that Vierna decided to fight dirty.
Glancing over her shoulder, she noticed that a small wooden crane with a pulley attached, which was probably left over from when this room was recently partially demolished. With lighting speed, Vierna rolled towards the pulley and kicked it with all her might. The crane shifted, and the pulley slammed into the surprised Death Knight, almost succeeding in knocking him off the tower. At the last moment, however, Argent managed to grab hold of the pulley, and started to pull himself back up.
Vierna, in the meantime, ignored her sword and ran towards the altar with all speed. She took her spellbook from her Bag of Holding and put it aside of her. Then, she activated the enchantment on the altar by waving her hands over it, like Argent had done earlier. She smiled as the altar glowed with power, awaiting her command. Then, Vierna ripped a page from her spellbook... And she started to read the spell 'Repulse Undead' to the altar.
Vierna read the complicated magical language almost twice as fast as normal, being very, very careful not to make any mistakes. In the meantime, the Death Knight had managed to hoist himself up and prepared to intercept the Drow. Frantically, Vierna kept casting, forcing herself to ignore the heavy steps of Argent's heavy boots as they approached. Nearing the end of the spell, Vierna was certain Argent was standing over her, preparing to slice her to ribbons with his blade.
The Drow screamed out the last words of the spell, mere seconds before the blade would have split her. A huge column of light shot from the alter, shooting up into the skies without end. Then, a powerful wave of magic, the infinitely augmented 'Repulse Undead'-spell, sped away from the altar in every direction.
"Hold on!" Lenny shouted as he and his friends prepared to engage the approaching living wall with sheer determination. But an expanding orb of magical energy would remove the need. As soon as the powers of the spell grazed the living wall, it's wailings stopped and it crumbled to a pile of old bones. The magic bypassed the party entirely, and they did not even feel it pass through their bodies.
"What the hell just happened?" Gerty asked herself after a few moments of silence.
"Wuf?" was Brimstone's confused answer.
Outside the tower, Karis, Viconia, Imoen, Arokh, Daoud, Kasim and the Fentan Knights looked on in surprise as the expanding magic engulfed all the dead left on the field, destroying even the most powerful of undead. Some gravewalkers tried to run. Some vampires tried to escape in bat form, and some liches tried to dimension-door away, but the wave of magic caught up with them all, leaving the valley as a field of magic bones, as all the negative energy was repulsed from their bodies.
The energy wave continued on, it's power going on. No doubt it would continue on for another while until the powers were completely spent.
"What happened?" Daoud asked, while binding a rag around a wound on his arm.
"The kid did it," the Dragon grinned toothily.
"I knew she would," Viconia smiled and nodded. "She is a daughter of mine, after all..."
For the first time, Vierna dared to open her eyes. The first thing she noticed was the altar, now again a normal slab of lava-rock, the powerful augmentation-spell completely spent.
Vierna slowly stood up. She glanced over to the battle-field, and smiled when she saw all the undead had fallen, and her friends and family were standing, all of them, on the faraway hill.
Vierna let herself back, smiling... Then giggling... Then laughing out loud. The world was still in one piece, her friends and family were all alive and Argent...
Vierna rolled over the floor and grasped for her sword, only to point it at the Death Knight.
Argent was writhing in searing pain as he was still caught in a blue halo of magic, only remaining on this plane of existence with force of will alone. It was certain he was fighting a losing battle, though, since more and more of negative energy was ripped from his undead body.
"I... I..." the Death Knight struggled to say, a look of peaceful resignation crossing his features. "I... salute you, Vierna DeVir," were his last words. With dignity, he let the last negative energy slip from his body. It fell to the floor, and turned to dust a few seconds later.
Vierna started at the pile of dust for a moment, and nodded solemnly. A sign of respect for a fallen warrior.
The Drow smiled and motioned to the bookwyrm still sitting on her perch. "Hey," she called. "Come over here..."
The bookwyrm complied and sat down on Vierna's shoulder.
"You know," Vierna said. "There's a whole library with books containing destructive and dangerous magics. Countless of works that need to be wiped off the face of existence... And you've got quite a job ahead of you..."
As soon as the bookwyrm laid her eyes on the library, she shot from Vierna's shoulder and assaulted the first books. "Whoopeee!" she shouted as she devoured the first pages of a tome containing the secrets to conjure demonic mights.
"Well, at least you're happy," Vierna smiled. "Me... I'm going home..."
The celebrations in the courtyard of Keep De'Arnise were still going strong as the moon stood high on the horizon. The Fentan knights, Arokh, Vierna's parents, her party and especially her her aunt Imoen were boisterously celebrating their victory over the undead hordes. Daoud and Kasim were providing the music for the party, and Imoen had promised to teleport them back home after a short stay. Vierna, however, had decided to retire early today.
The Drow ranger was enjoying her sleep, until it was impossible to continue it. A sharp white light awoke her, and even attempts to groggily hide her head under her pillow had little effect. Eventually, she jolted upright... and gasped.
Standing in front of her, was none other than her uncle Minsc, who had been missing for the last three years. Minsc was wearing a beautiful armor, and it almost seemed it was made from light itself. Also, Boo was sitting on his shoulder, looking to be the happy hamster like he always had been.
"Greetings from Minsc and Boo, little Vierna!" Minsc greeted cheerfully.
Vierna shook her head and could not repress a sob.
"Oh, don't cry, little Vierna!" a saddened Minsc replied. "Minsc is okay, and so is Boo!"
Vierna flew from the bed and embraced her uncle Minsc. "I... came to find you... I travelled to Rasheman and Thay to find you when you disappeared."
"Oh, well," Minsc smiled. "'Tis nothing to worry about. Nice Mielikki came for us, you know, for Minsc and Boo. And now she keeps sending us to place in need of heroes and evildoers in need of a good kicking of the butts!"
"So... that is why you disappeared?" Vierna asked. "You didn't die?"
"Boo says we didn't die, but were taken to another plane where we help out nice Mielikki with odds and ends..." Minsc smiled.
"How?" Vierna asked. "When? What?"
"Oh, now you are confusing poor Minsc," he said while scratching his head. "But nice Mielikki, and all the other gods wanted to thank you personally for everything you have done, so," Minsc scraped his throat. "Thank you from Tyr, Thank you from nice Mielikki, Thank you from Malar, Thank you from Helm, Thank you from Eilistraee, Thank you from Torm, Thank you from Tymora, Thank you from Arvoreen, Thank you from Lolth, Thank you from..."
"I get the picture," Vierna smiled uneasily.
"Oh, and nice Mielikki wanted you to have this," Minsc said, dropping a ring in Vierna's palm. It was a plain ring, save for the symbol of Mielikki, goddess of rangers, engraved in the center.
"Thank you," Vierna smiled. "What does it do?"
"I don't know," Minsc smiled. "Nice Mielikki said you have to find out for yourself. Oh, and I have to go now. There a brigands in Cormyr that need a severe kicking..."
"WAIT!" Vierna said. "You just got here... Why don't you stay?!"
A pained look crossed Minsc's features. "I wish I could, little Vierna. But Boo says we have a responsibility now... But Boo and I will come back to visit you more often now! That I promise... Oh, and say hello from Minsc and Boo to your parents!"
That said, Minsc and Boo slowly faded away, ever smiling at the sad Vierna. The Drow stared at the place where Minsc had been standing for a long time before flipping the ring over in her fingers, examining it carefully.
"PIYO!" sounded from the door opening. Vierna smiled as she opened the door and let the house Lim-Lim enter the room.
"Hi there, Limmy," Vierna smiled at the buzzing Lim-Lim.
"Piyo," Limmy replied.
"I take it, you want me to join the party downstairs?"
In response, Limmy somersaulted and landed on his hind-legs again...
"Okay then, you crazy critter," Vierna smiled, bending down to pet Limmy. "Let's go back to the party, then. We can't have Brimstone have all the leftovers from the food-tables, can we?"
"Piyo!" was Limmy's enthusiastic reply.
Back at the tower of Argent Brightstar, in a valley now renamed the field of bones, there was a new evil stirring... building upon the evils of the fallen paladin.
Near the entrance of the tower, a string of multi-colored flags were mounted on several poles, which also sported a sign, which said, in multi-colored, magically glowing letters : "HONEST STAN'S YE OLDE TOURIST TRAPPE."
And at the ticket-booth, stood a man wearing a chequered suit and a pirate hat, continuously flailing his arms as a group of tourists paid their entrance fee.
Then, as the tourists gathered to enter the building, a floating skull wearing a cap exited the door. "Greetings! I am Raymur!" the skull chuckled. "The mighty demonic skull and altogether EVVVVVILLLLL tourguide! Now, let me show you the places where Vierna DeVir fought the wicked Death Knight... Let me tell you a tale, of heart-stopping malice and evil! MWUHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!"
"And don't get behind the velvet cordons!" the demonic Glabrezu Xerxes, dressed in a way-too-small security-uniform. "Cause if you do, I'll break you in half and suck out your internal organs!"
And in the meantime, Stan was mentally calculating his profit-value...
THE END! Wow, after half a year of working on this story, it's finished now. Damn, I'm proud of myself! And kinda sad too now that it's over. I've had great fun putting this story together and working it all out. I hoped you enjoyed reading this story as much as I enjoyed writing it.
I hope you liked the story, thank you for reading, and have a nice day,
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