The party continued riding to Mouth Ith without encountering further resistance. As they approached the base, Valygar held his hand up and led them into a tucked away cleft in the rocks.
"Soon we will be within the sight of the evil diviners within. They will be see any magical auras which pass within. Nalia and Imoen, you must stay here with the horses or return to the Keep or Athkatla. On a personal note, I am glad to have you staying out of harm's way."
Imoen regretting not being able to lend her thieving abilities to this last leg of the mission, but Nalia merely smiled. Sensing each other's opinions, they spoke together. "We would not dream of abandoning you as you brave the final chapter of our quest. We will watch your horses and await your victorious return."
"Rangers, protect them and keep hidden from evil," Onyx instructed. "A small party, quickest and quietest, consisting of Valygar leading Keldorn, Minsc, myself and Kan, will go straight to Cyran and do what must be done." With that the five dismounted and ran towards Mouth Ith, Valygar leading the way to a small cave at its base.
They descended into the dark, cold depths of the mountain. They wrinkled their noses as Valygar led them up an underground stream brimming with refuse from the barbaric Cyricist soldiers within. They eventually had to dive into the water as the ceiling crept lower, mercifully after the merging point of the refuse stream. Just as their breath was about to give out, they popped up into the kitchen of the slave chambers. Smashing the shackles of slaves open without breaking cadence as they ran by, the party soon met and easily dispatched the slavemaster and squad of guards at the door.
"From here we will be constantly passing Cyricists," Valygar warned. "Our only chance is to keep up our speed and make our way forward faster than the news of our entrance, or the entire army will come down upon us."
They ran up and down caverns and hallways, taking out wandering soldiers, clerics, and mages without losing speed. Enemies were increasing in frequency and number as the heroes approached the heart of Ith, but still they carried on. At last they came to an ornately decorated chamber with a number of mages lounging, meditating, and puffing on houkas. Blades flying, they quickly cut their way through them before any could get off a spell, but not before the last, rapidly bleeding to death as he lunged towards a wall, pressing his hand against a diamond eyeball and uttering a strange word with his dying breath. Immediately it glowed and turned to look at the warriors, and they could feel magic crackling through the air from it and from out of the room. They gasped in horror as it began spawning simalcra of Cyran himself, brandishing Lies and Madness and babbling magic.
Keldorn dispelled all those around him with his true sight as they gulped potions of speed and Valygar led them with new haste out the back of the room and down a carefully chiseled hallway, obviously leading to the center of the mountain. At last they came to a chamber with circular doorways. One was filled by a much larger diamond eye, spewing out Cyran phantasms as fast as they could run towards the party.
"Behind that eye is Cyran's inner sanctum and the only passage to him!" Valygar shouted as he drew his elven court bow and began a futile attempt to shatter the eye with enchanted arrows. Minsc followed suit, Onyx hurled Hangard's Axe at it over and over, and Kan tried to shatter it with telekinetic fists, while Keldorn continued to see through and dispel the false enemies.
"Is there no end in sight to this many-faced evildoer? Minsc would kick his butt over and over, only to find him there again!!!" the Rasheman ranger exclaimed exasperatedly. "Only Boo could crawl around this giant eye, but surely even the bravest hamster in the land could not take Cyran without our help!!!"
At last Keldorn said solemnly, "I see clearly now what must be done." He stared directly at the eye itself, looking deep into its horrid gaze. It began to jitter the scrape the doorway as the noble inquisitor stared it down, but Keldorn's mind was being pierced with every evil thought Cyran had ever had. At last the great eye shattered into sandlike crystals, but as it did, Keldorn's brain exploded and he clasped his hands over his eyes, screaming tragically as they popped out into his palms. The great paladin collapsed to the floor, lifeless.
"Never a truer inquisitor has seen Faerun," Onyx eulogized. "Let us look to his example, and his death not be in vain as he shows us and those who come after the vision of clarity and truth." As a foreboding inkling of foresight passed over his mind, Onyx reached down and plucked the eyes from the hands of his fallen fellow paladin. Speaking through the voice of another, one who remained close to him in spirit and saw with her own gifted sight of things to come, Onyx placed them in Kan's hands, and curling the son's fingers over them, and intoned "when he who counterbalances you seems invincible, use these to gaze through his seamless shield and see him for the vulnerable mortal he yet is." With that, the four ran over the diamond dust and began down the circular hallway, seeking justice and Keldorn's hallowed redemption. Just before they left, to them appeared a vision of the gauntlet of Torm, which swept over Keldorn's body and then disappeared with it. It would later be said that vision of the True God were accompanied by the ghostly form of Keldorn at his right hand side.
The force of four could hear Cyran's maniacal laughter echoing down the hall just ahead of them. They rushed down the corridor, Kan dodging the exploding skull traps Cyran was leaving in their way and the others raising shields above their heads to block the shards of bone. Eventually they came to a large chamber just as they spied Cyran dashing through the doorway at the other end. They ran after him, but suddenly a very large humanoid figure appeared in the doorway. Two electric-white eyes glowed on the shadow and it stepped toward into the light, a huge armored man with a triangular tattoo on his forehead.
"Hello, brother!" boomed Sarevok. "I never did properly thank you for restoring me. You should have joined me when you had the chance. I offered to help you ascend to the throne, but you chose to throw it away. But now, I have found one truly worthy of it! He will need a right hand warrior in the pantheon of gods! And now for my end of the bargain." He drew Soul Reaver.
Only one? Onyx thought. I alone could take him - I have twice before, on earth and hell.
"Wait for me, mighty lover!" cackled a familiar drow voice. Viconia stepped from the shadows. "At last we have found a god who shall help Shar topple that bloated bug Lolth and avenge me for my exile from the drow!" She kneaded and scratched Sarevok's scalp, drew blood and daintily licked it off her fingers. "Face the wrath of unholy evil!"
Onyx rolled his eyes. This'll be - what - my hundred-and-first drow priestess killed? Very well.
"My dear lady," began a sly voice. "Both of us have been cast from Onyx's so charming company not once but twice. He bade me away walk - and fly away. Now I shall be the one to bid him farewell. Consider it something a little bird told you." The once halfling and then sparrow Montaron, polymorphed back into a humanoid again, dropped from the shadows overhead, as flaming and electric short swords emerged from their sheaths.
Well, I really should have killed him back in Nashkel, I suppose, Onyx thought. At least I'll get better treasure from his carcass this way.
"Greetings, my raven, tis been much too long! I word with ye I be cravin', now listen all to my song."
An extraplanar residue gave off a sheen as a familiar tiefling cavorted onto the scene.
"Listen now all to the tale of Onyx and his love. Rescue he did, his party and this dove.
A golden bird of magic, tis true, my tale. Her name was little Aerie, the beautiful avariel.
This Blade would gladly have given Onyx his swords, and much help I'd've been, but he had other words.
He bid me back to my old haunts and the stage, he did it for envy, coveting and rage.
Aerie would have rather fancied me, you see, and jealous oaf Onyx, for she, thus banished me.
But now I am back to serve a chaotic end; as death is art, the evil god must win!
And once I have helped him to the throne, he'll tap Aerie's mind and she shall be my own!
And so now let me catch my breath, as I must finish the Ballad's of Onyx's Death!"
Haer'Dalis cartwheeled towards the cavalier, his short swords Entropy and Chaos spinning near.
Sarevok charged forwards, Soul Reaver raised high, and Minsc drew his vorpal halberd Ravager and the two musclebound warriors clambered at each other. Montaron began hopping from wall to wall and Valygar, hasting himself, vaulted off a wall with his strong legs, drawing Hindo's Doom and Celestial Fury and clashing against the fighter-thief's sword shorts in midair. Viconia held back, uttering blasphemous incantations and Kan's form blurred as he bent time in a mad dash towards the evil priestess. Onyx raised Blackrazor and the Axe of the Unyielding and raced towards the mad Blade.
Metal clashed against metal as Minsc and Sarevok's weapons met and they crashed into each other, armor clanging. Pushing against each other, the mighty warriors tried to push over one another and gain room to strike. Blades locked, Valygar and Montaron fell to the floor and each struggled to hop up first and gain the initiative to slash or kick the other. Columns of fire and drops of acid rained down at the back of the chamber and a quickened Kan deftly rolled and cartwheeled through the torrent, dodging them all as Viconia began gating in a demon and surrounding herself with a globe of blades. Haer'Dalis began a furious spinning dance as Onyx crashed his weapons into the spinning swords, striking with all his might but unable to unplant the tiefling's feet.
Sarevok gained the momentum and pushed Minsc off, managing to graze him with Soul Reaver, draining his ability to hit back as the ranger struggled to counter with a hit of his own. Valygar slashed fiercely down at the grinning halfling, who fell aside and disappeared against the wall in the shadows. Kan came out of a roll into the face of the demon, who clawed and bit at him as the monk began chanting and thrusting his outstretched, quivering foot towards the demon's heart as Viconia cast pure destruction at him. Haer'Dalis came out of his spin and Onyx swung and stabbed at him, only to have the tiefling tuck and roll between his legs and slice at his thighs and groin along the way, only to graze his armor and pop out behind the paladin.
Minsc parried most of Sarevok's strong blows, but could not connect as Soul Reaver continued to sap away his aim. Valygar melded into the shadows as well, and slashing sounds echoed from the chamber's dark corners as the stealthy warriors each struggled to backstab the other first. Kan kicked the life out of the demon with a single blow and leapt off his other leg over its fresh carcass, resisting Viconia's death magic and, slowing time further, fell amongst her whirling blades as he expertly twisted and contorted to dodge them as the drow witch infused her mace with the power to slay the living and swung it towards him. Onyx turned to face his dancing enemy, who began an aggressive spin that hacked towards the back of the paladin.
Sarevok knocked Minsc's halberd head aside with a powerful blow, and raised his sword above his head for the killing strike as the ranger struggled to keep his grip and his life. Valygar groaned as Montaron's sword sent bolts of lightning into his back and struggled to reach the wily halfling behind him. Kan managed to twist and curve himself just around Viconia's falling mace, but ran out of maneuvering room and the blades filling the air began to nick and cut him all over his arms, legs, and torso as he searched for a chance of his own to strike. Chaos and Entropy sliced into Onyx's back and side and he winced as he tried to turn and make a swing at the demonic tiefling.
As Sarevok's sword was falling down upon him, Minsc drew upon his hidden strength and managed to swing Ravager around at the evil fighter's belt. Valygar crossed his arms over his face and his katanas glided backwards over his shoulders, spearing towards Montaron as the rogue began to drive his fiery sword into the stalker's back. Taking more blades through his flesh, Kan found a chance to strike and his palm pressed towards Viconia's solar plexus, quivering. Onyx drew upon his holy might as he turned to face his enemy, Blackrazor pointing towards the bard's chest and deflected his short swords as the cavalier's vorpal axe swung towards his neck.
Minsc beat the risen wraith to a critical strike, cleaving clean through his waist with a vorpal slice. Valygar's katanas pierced with fury into Montaron's collar on either side of his neck and he lifted the impaled thief over his head and slung him against the wall. Gritting his teeth and unable to avoid the blades, Kan's palm connected flatly with the center of Viconia's chest and her eyes opened wide as her soul was instantly struck from her body. Onyx managed to plunge Blackrazor into Haer'Dalis's heart, and absorbing his energy, swung the unyielding axe into his neck with increased strength, decapitating him with with a smooth vorpal strike.
Sarevok's upper body dropped Soul Reaver and fell to the floor, his glowing eyes growing dark. A sliced up Montaron smashed into the wall and fell crumpled to the floor, dying in moments. Viconia's uninjured body fell gently back onto the floor, beautiful and at last peaceful in death. Haer'Dalis's headless body flew aside, doing one last cartwheel and a final bow as his head rolled away and his brief candle went out.
The four heroes, all injured but none critically, dashed down the back hallway as they gulped healing potions and regained sapped strength. They ran deep into the mountain, for minutes on end, and at last came to a natural cavern deep in its bowels. It was a small underground lake with a high ceiling and a small island, a rock really, in the middle. On it stood a stone gate, leading nowhere. And Cyran by it. As he completed an incantation, a black and purple shimmering surface stretched across it.
"You fools!" he cackled in an inhumanly loud voice. The voice seemed to come straight from his mind into theirs. "The coin is falling in its final spins. Tymora and Beshaba tossed it as Onyx, the last of the Bhaalspawn, ceded the throne, and only I am worthy to guide its fall. For the almighty Cyric has been forbade from snatching the coin for himself, but not I. As your father Bhaal walked the earth and sowed his seed as he died, Onyx, so Cyric did as he was born into godhood. And thus was I born into manhood. I, Cyran, son of Cyric, shall now hold the portfolio of Bhaal and use it as my father could not. Together, father and son in the pantheon, we will begin a new lineage which will seize all evil powers from the unworthy, weak gods. I go now to claim my destiny, to control, as the weak do not, the flip of my coin!!" With that he sprang through the portal.
Onyx knew what had to be done. "Only Kan may go on from here," he stated. The monk began crouching, preparing to make a straight leap over the water and into the portal. "And now we must part as men. Whatever the outcome of this battle, you will never again walk this plane as a mortal. I know your pure heart and honed body will serve you well in combat and godhood. As with me and my father, we shall never have known each other well, but as a father I will be proud to see you take the throne I ceded, vindicating me and bringing a new era of good to the Realms. Goodbye, my son," he finished, as his son completed his arc and vanished into the portal. Onyx and his ranger friends huddled on each other's shoulders and waited.
Kan was falling through a black abyss. He sensed and then heard the madness of Cyran, falling along with him, gaining on a giant, spinning coin. Good and evil flickered past as it went end over end, the two surfaces bearing the insignias of each god that might be. Cyran reached the coin and began to push from the vile side, trying to flip it on top, but Kan reached the pure side a moment later and pushed against him. The two moved to the top edge of the coin to gain leverage, both pushing with all their might but unable to push one side on top. Kan could hear Tymora coaxing him on to victory and Cyran could hear Beshaba cursing him for coming so close to failure. At last the coin ricocheted off an invisible floor and shot into the air again. The kensai-mage and the monk struggled to use the spin to their advantage, and the evil one managed to flip his side on top, only to have the good one quickly push against the opposite edge of his side and quickly flip it all the way over again. It bounced again and again, halving the height of its arc each time, and despite a few flips and twists, neither could manage to land it on other than its edge.
At last it lost the momentum to bounce again, and slowly rolled along the unknown surface as the two ran along beside it, pushing equally and opposite. At last it came to a stop, still on edge, and slowly began to sink into the surface. As it disappeared, they darkness overhead lightened as bright and dark eyes each appeared in the sky overhead and the surface revealed itself to be hard-packed sand.
"We commend you on your unparalleled performance and resolve, mortals," the harmonious call of Tymora and the dissonant rasp of Beshaba sang. "But the coin of fate has landed on its edge." White and black suns rose over opposite horizons as Tyr and Cyric looked on. "As such," the goddesses of luck and fate continued, "this matter must now be decided by mortals. In mortal combat!"
Kan and Cyran were blasted back from one another but each flipped backwards and landed on his feet in a fighting stance. With amazing alacrity, Cyran quickly conjured dozens of energy discs and began to hurl them at Kan. Kan concentrated and, as they sliced through the air towards him, he slowed time and began dodging them one after the other. Leaning, twisting, jumping, and ducking, he gracefully avoided each one by inches. As the last one whizzed path, he came out of his contortions. Kan began to dash at his enemy and stretch time effortlessly, but Cyran stopped it outright. He began calling terrible evocations down around his opponent. Comets and meteors and the breath of a dragon appeared frozen in midair, ready to storm down, and he prepared the air to resume with a horrid wilting. Next he gated in a quartet of demons between them, and time-stopped mind dominations and killing magics appeared in front of his fingertips, aimed towards the monk.
As time resumed, he surrounded himself with a carnival of illusions, mirror images and color prisms and simalcra. Kan, slowing Cyran and his many magical creations to a crawl, began leaping, rolling, spinning, and carting through and around the meteors, comets, and dragonfire blasts. As Kan passed through the storm of evocations, Cyran's geometrically multiplying simalcra began leaping through the magical obstacle course towards him. As Kan continued to dodge the devasting energy, the wilting in the air could not be spatially avoided, but Kan's magical resistance spared him from its horrid effects. As he made it out of the blizzard of energy, Kan approached the four demons, who were clawing at each other furiously but now decided to hunger after manflesh.
Kan cleverly leapt straight in amongst them as the simalcra neared, causing the fiends to turn around. As the monk continued to twist and curl around the false Cyrans' illusionary katana blades and magical bursts, the demons rushed after him but soon came to the simalcra and began tearing them apart. The demons were hacked and blasted to bits as they roared in dying rage as the uncorporeal meat vanished in their maws. As Kan's mighty body resisted all of Cyran's necromancing spells and his keen mind saw through the enchanting and illusionary ones, he began a final dash towards the lone warrior-wizard As Kan made his final sprint at him, Cyran suddenly glowed bright white as an all-powerful abjuration sphere materialized around him.
Cyran had spent several years of magical research perfecting this spell. An alamgamation of absolute immunity, protection from energy, spell shield, spell trap, protection from magical and normal weapons and missiles, it rendered him immune from all weapons, spells, and elemental damage that he had ever tested it against. Now, weak from unleashing its awesome power, he kneeled and caught his breath, knowing time was now on his side.
Katanas and feet blazing, Kan crashed into its surface and was immediately bounced back by the force of his own blows. He continued to attack, but his weapons, fists, feet, and telekinetics all failed to scratch it. Cyran regained his strength and charged Kan, beating him back and knocking him to the ground with the force of his blows and the repulsed blows of his harmless enemy. As Cyran prepared to drive Lies and Madness into him, the monk rolled back and to his feet, and as the psychotic one stabbed the sand, the noble one drew from his robe the eyes of Keldorn.
Cyran looked up and channeled dread energy through his katanas, prepared to blow his enemy into oblivion, but as he did Kan threw the eyes straight at him. The first, touching the sphere, vaporized along with it, and the second, shattering the purple gem in Cyran's headband and absorbing into his forehead, erased his memorized spells from his mind and rendered him magicless. Cyran screamed like a tortured animal as good and noble thoughts passed through his mind for the first and last time. He was driven back, but raising his katanas again, knew he had been reduced to merely the greatest kensai in history.
Kan raised his katanas as well. The two circled each other, and then, stepping off each foot powerfully, leapt high into the air at each other, lunging over forward with weapons straight towards one another and feet flying out behind them. As they clashed in midair, blades sliding along each other and locking at the hilts, they crashed shoulders and spun as a single rigid mass around each other through the air, katanas and legs sticking out in all directions. They began to descend and each came to a kneel as they touched the sand, still locking weapons and face to face.
"You've got no magic left, wizard," stated Kan.
"Perhaps, but as pure as your mind is, so mine is warped," hissed Cyran.
With that, they leapt apart, but as they flew backwards through the air and Kan began to stretch time in an attempt to slow his opponent, Cyran's mind began distorting it as well. Unlike Kan, whose clear thoughts could bend space and time along clean, straight lines, Cyran's twisted thoughts bent them into strange curves and sharp angles. Seeming to disappear and reappear as if moving through a chamber of mirrors, Cyran flashed around his enemy, who tried to follow a straight path towards him but could not find him. As Cyran rapidly snuck up behind Kan through this all-consuming maze, Kan began to understand its foreign geometry, and, finding the ability to see the evildoer by bending light around the many twists and turns, at the proper moment snapped around to meet his opponent, slashing into Cyran who had opened himself up to strike.
As Cyran lost his concentration and space began to snap back into its proper shape, the two clashed weapons and began a furious dance of blows and thrusts around and past each other. Each speeding up in time but unable to gain a significant lead over his adversary, they fought at blinding speed, slashing, spearing, parrying, dodging, flipping, cartwheeling, and rolling. As Cyran slashed in from each side with the strength to cut his enemy clean in half, Kan reversed his grip on each weapon and circled his katanas outward, blades sticking out the bottoms of his fists to each side of him like wings. He parried Cyran's incoming slashes with them as he began to punch him on the chest and face with the katana handles in gripping fists. The kensai swung his katanas up and down, unable to bring them in and regain inside control as the monk pummeled him with blinding speed.
At last, in desperation, he swung his shoulders around and crossed his arms began his head, sticking his katana blades forward again over his shoulders and encircling both his neck and Kan's. Lies and Madness curved inwards, touching just behind Kan's head. He could behead me in an instant, Kan realized, but would he not behead himself as well?
"From here, there can be only one outcome." Cyran stated, staring deep into Kan's eyes with a cruel sneer distorting half of his face "You will die before I, and then it will end, for I will be the one to ascend."
Kan calmly closed his eyes and chanted as his head began to quiver, and as Cyran began scissoring his blades into their necks, with focused strength Kan headbutted him, smashing his already distorted face and pushing his Cyran's head back into his own crossed arms, causing his katanas to slide open just enough to pass by Kan's neck leaving deep but nonfatal incisions. As Kan felt the lies and madness creep through him but dissipate in his pure and noble blood, he thrust out with Truth and slashed across with Clarity. Cyran desperately tried to bring his arms in front of him to parry the attacks, and each focused hard trying to speed time up for himself more than the other could. At last, Cyran's rammed and reeling head got lost in one of its own deceptive twists, and Kan's flew forward unerringly. As the monk sped past his enemy, his katanas met evil. Truth plunged straight through the liar's heart and Clarity took off the madman's head.
Kan took a deep breath and slung his katanas past himself, flinging off the tainted blood. As he resheathed them he saw Cyran's gear and flesh began to writhe and then disintegrate into tiny particles which joined the sand. His skeleton, the skull's forehead bearing the black sun of Cyric, began to sink into the endless desert along with Lies and Madness. The black sun on the horizon let out an enraged scream from Cyric himself and fell below the horizon, and the bright one rose towards Mysta'a eyes at the sky's apex.
"You have overcome all, great Kan, pursuing the pure and noble path," Tymora sang warmly as Beshaba's voice screamed and her eyes faded from the sky. "Now, good monk, take the path you have carved for yourself. Do you ascend the throne?"
"For the sake of all that is ordered and good, I do," spoke Kan, folding his hands together in prayer. His unparalleled mortal body began to fade and he was born again a god, to ascend to the pantheon and sit in his throne, the throne vacated by his grandfather Bhaal and ceded by his father Onyx. A new reign was begun, a reign devoted to the justness of the murder of evil, the reign of Kan.
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