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Storytime with Grace Dane
After the return and hard-won defeat of In-Nabbah Ser, also known as The Gentleman, I set out to find Magus Thomas Bosh of the Blue Order to hear the story. I came upon him in Zvidureth where he sat with Luca, an initiate of the Red Order, and Marrow, a Zhitarilite. He invited us back to Shadowspire to hear the tale.
Magus Bosh began the story as we all gathered around to listen.
“So the very beginning is where I’ll start, but I’ll keep it an abbreviated version”, remarked Thomas.
“Quite a few months ago, several adventurers and I responded to an open call - gather in Le'Or proper.
There we met a very odd elf, Co'Beir Du'mois
He had, it turned out, become concerned about the possible rise of an old enemy. Not the Enemy we recently defeated - I'll get to that in time.
So after a series of small missions, some of reconnaissance, some for the purpose of battle ...
We confirmed his suspicions. An old alliance had reformed between beholders, sereg, and devils.
This triumvirate was known as Valaurko'Noss.”
“What an unlikeable trinity,” I remarked, nose crinkling.
“And insidious. And lethal.” Thomas continued. “Up to the point we confirmed this, Count Du'mois had been very vague about the threat. He deflected our questions and kept each mission compartmentalized. I think he wanted all the pieces before he put together the puzzle. That's how I think when I'm feeling generous, anyhow.”
“Not a bad way of gathering information,” I remarked.
“It's true. But if we had known the scope of what we were against, several of our missions would have been much easier” said Thomas.
“Secrets usually benefit the keeper.” uttered Marrow, in a wet wheezy voice.
“Well said, Marrow” as Thomas continued his story.
“So once the picture of who the enemy was became clear, other things began to make sense.
It turns out that we didn't just show up at random, our group. You see, Count Du'mois had been part of an adventuring group who fought Valarauko'Noss decades ago...
And each of us had a familial connection to that first struggle.
For me, it was my grandfather.
For others it was a father, a mother, and so on.”
“Interesting, he called in the same bloodline. Did that factor in?” I asked, curiously.
“Good question. It did, for over time each of us received something that had belonged to our predecessors...” said Thomas.
“Things that helped us in some small way. But mainly...
I think he knew that we'd find motivation to persevere at times when, had we no other vested interest, some among us might have quit. Vengeance can be a strong bond, something I didn't know before this whole affair began.
In any event, over time we acquired information, allies, and objects that would help us defeat Valaurko'Noss.
First we fought the sereg.
Next, the devils.
And finally, the beholders.
Each of those enemies took weeks to defeat.
Very strong foes and very clever.
Along the way we met most of the Council of Wyrms.
Which for me was a personal highlight.
Anyhow, eventually we got to the last group of our enemies, the beholders.
They were based in Goromond's Keep, deep in the Underdark.
As we fought them and their allies - mercenaries known as the Red Shadow - we finally reached their leader, a Great Beholder named Gzemnid.
He was distressingly powerful, and magic had no effect on him.
Beside him I noticed a pentagram, but was so focused on staying alive that I didn't have time to give it much thought. And as it became apparent that Gzemnid would die, that the battle was going to go to us…
Our minds were filled with his laughter.
I think I might have said something to the effect that his plans had been thwarted, his allies defeated, and Valaurko'Noss was soon to be forgotten...
When I said this was the end, he replied by declaiming that no, it was only a beginning.” Thomas paused, looking at each before continuing.
“And in the moment of his death...
In-Nabbah Ser appeared in the pentagram.”
The four fell silent a moment before Thomas continued.
“I was exhausted, confused...
He made a rather extravagant display of being back.
Though I didn't know who he was at the time, it wasn't long before I had a sense of his power.
For moments later, the avatars of Dagath and The Harpinger appeared.
Dagath ordered him to return to the Cycle, because he had not been given permission to leave it.
To which In-Nabbah Ser responded by pointing his knife at Dagath and...
Appeared to slay him.” Thomas paused again at the gravity of the statement. He continued, “The Harpinger said ‘Message received’, took his body, and disappeared.”
“The burden you all must have carried through this...staggering.” I remarked softly.
“It was...” said Thomas, the burden apparent in his voice.
“If I may, briefly - this gentleman, he had the knife when he was freed? It was with him in his imprisonment?” inquired Luca. “This detail might be interesting given the revelation of the dagger in the ending.”
“He appeared holding the knife.” Thomas answered.
“But yes, Magus Dane. The weight was crushing, for I felt it had all been my fault.
With that he mused that taking Dagath's mantle would be too much work.
And as he had reappeared as a vampire, he chose to seek Zhitaril's mantle.
And that is when the public aspect of the struggle began.” Thomas continued.
“Some of the chronology and details I've just recounted might be off in their particulars, but generally speaking, my account is accurate. As you know, memories can be a tricky thing, especially...
When you're under duress and continually thinking ‘what if I had only ...’ but trying to wrestle down memories can be like chasing an illusion, Magus.” Thomas said in a wistful tone.
“If I may ask, who was with you when he was freed? This burden was not just your own, was it?” I asked.
“Our group at the time consisted of Drogridoc ShadowViper - or rather, Drogridoc Chipmunk, the priestess Lily, the wyrmling Draco, the stultifyingly dull Vlad Killix, and Barlin Bitterbeard...
Though I think only Barlin, Vlad, Drog, and I were there at the last fight against Gzemnid.
And the Avenger Etzeth Elor had started off with us, but the group dynamic became more than she could bear. So I recruited Drog to replace her.
None of us saw it coming, that much I know. But considering how insidious Valaurko'Noss was, I should have suspected something.
I think I was just so happy to see it nearly over.” Thomas said.
“And to be honest, Magus Dane, you'd be better served to read the public notes of me and others to get a full picture of the struggle against In-Nabbah Ser.
It turns out there were at least three groups working independently in that struggle.
So compiling the notes that way might be a better source than my own memory.” added Thomas.
“And during this time, you both joined the fight as well?” I asked of Luca and Marrow.
“So from that point until the final defeat of In-Nabbah Ser, many joined, including Marrow and his Priestess.” Thomas added.
“Mistress.” Marrow rasped.
“The threat to your Goddess drew you in?” I asked of Marrow.
“Yes, but one can't simply say ‘Marrow's Mistress’ without a chance of it being misconstrued.” said Thomas to Marrow.
“Oh yes, of course Mistress and Marrow aided the Goddess.” Marrow said.
“And the weeks leading to the end, it was destroying these deathstones to get to him?” I asked the group.
“That's right. Destroying the deathstones and the powerful minions who protected them.” Thomas answered.
“Is it true one of those minions is held in Elysia?” I inquired.
Marrow nodded and Thomas responded, “It is, yes. Jovas Trenaine. Late in the struggle he claimed that he wanted to switch sides - that In-Nabbah Ser had gone too far - and petitioned to be admitted to the followers of Zhitaril.
He is one of the three Wraith Lords, the other two having been destroyed.
And don't forget Thanalos's role in all this.”
“Oh yes, the dracolich?” I asked quizzically.
Of course, feel free to ask me any particular questions after reading the public records, Magus.
You can write me and I'll be prompt in my replies.” Thomas continued.
“I am curious of his final death. Who was it that dealt the last blow to him?” I inquired.
“Actually, it was Ti'si'faan” Thomas replied.
“The Tyeduan spirit goddess. So much has changed. She has risen in power in the south now.” I stated. Marrow interjects that they were kin, Ser and Ti’si’faan.
“And you are relatively sure he is gone for good?” I asked of the group.
“I should clarify first.” Thomas stated in reply.
“She took away his invulnerability, and we set upon him.
I don't know who landed the final blow.
I think she generously decided it was our fight to finish.
Drog would have the details - he remembers every killing he's been a part of, I'm sure.”
“He is ended. Hopefully for good?” I asked again, to be sure.
“He is. Definitively.” Thomas remarked. “Ti'si'faan assured us.
As did our group's sponsor, Count Du'mois.”
“Do you feel less of a burden now?” I asked of him.
“I feel less of a weight, but the burden of all those deaths will take time to lift from my shoulders, if it lifts at all.” replied Thomas.
“Everyone rallied, and everyone was at their best.
It was rather remarkable to see.
The tragedy of it was also what led to victory.
For the threat was so vast and compelling that no living person in their right mind had a choice.” added Thomas.
“Thank you for sharing your story, Magus. And thank you, Marrow and Luca, for joining the fight as well.” I added as we finished our drinks.
With the information fresh in my memory, I set out to write it down in a journal so I would not forget. Later, I would read of the weekly struggles and battles from the public accounts.
A tale worth noting and a warning to any who would rise in power to threaten the people of Avlis.