Dawn of the Duskwalkers II: The Fire Within

The Path Corrected

The Fire Within: Episode 02

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The story continues in the Drakenkeep. Esme, Waleak, and Reg rest and recuperate, but soon notice that Xavdak has been missing for several hours. With deep misgiving in their hearts, they turn to Escobert for information. Waleak is acutely aware of his unpopularity here, and waits outside the Dwarf’s office door as Esme and Reg go in.

Escobert assents to speaking with Waleak grudgingly.

“Go to Moriaris” he says. “The King has taken several dozen troops with him.”
With an uncharacteristic poignancy he remarks “I am loyal to the king and his family, but I do not agree with every decision. You should go now.”

The three make their way on horseback toward Moriaris. Waleak senses that judgment is coming. In an act of loyalty to the king he removes his weapons and gives them to Reg and Esme for safekeeping.

When they ride into the valley Moriaris is burning, and chaos abounds on its land. Men and women are running to and fro in weak attempts to escape the sudden onslaught of the Duskalon troops. Before the gates of the temple the bodies of the seven elders burn on stakes. The stench of death fills the air alongside the pungent odor of burning hair. Reg is horrified at what he sees. He remains rooted in the ground for several moments, wishing that this was not so. Esme remains stoic and silent.

Waleak moves forward and attempts to walk close to the council members, some still living, others thankfully dead. The guards begin to block him, but the see that he has no weapons. Xavdak utters not a word.

One of the council members in her dying breath attempts to give Waleak some kind of precious stone, but it is immediately picked up and piled on the carts with all of the other secrets and treasures of the temple. Waleak walks on to another member of the council. He looks on Waleak with disdain and says:

“You couldn’t save us, Eclipse!” Despite the harsh flames he hangs on to life with only hated to keep him alive.

“You think Armeos is the focus? Xavdak, it is the time of the elemental reexamination. The fire burns from within!”

As he says this his bonds burn enough and he struggles free. He falls into the conflagration beneath him and with a great effort slams the ground with the palm of his hand, and died. His actions causes waves of elementals to rise and attack Waleak, but as they reach him they were only apparitions, illusions.

Xavdak looks at Waleak and says “Rebuild it.” With this he turns and sets his face towards home.

Reg rides up and cuts the remaining bodies off their stakes. He thinks to himself that it would have been better if they died in battle, evil or no. With respect he lays their charred remains down. Waleak thanks him and Reg nods. Reg regains the saddle looks at the temple and spits in disgust at all that occurred there. Esme bends down and writes and ancient curse of her people into the ground over Nemus. Reg and Esme return to Le Bird De Fleur, but Waleak remains a while longer.

Back at the Drakenkeep, Xavdak goes down to the family crypts, to the grave of his father, his brother, and all trueborn Duskwalkers before them. Here he meditates on what he’s done, and is wracked with misgiving. Doubt begins to creep into the normally confident Xavdak. His mind turns to memories of his older brother, and of his father. It was as if his brain was trying to search for answers he sought in those memories. However, all Xavdak found was pain, anger, and a sense of loss. Each memory seemed to only add more weight to the crown of his father that rested on his head.

Lost in his thoughts Xavdak is snapped back to reality when he hears a voice break the silence of the dead, “Hello my old friend.” Xavdak looks up, and In a seeming answer to prayer, Aiden Brightmane his old companion and friend appears before him. In shock Xavdak drops his staff. The sound of it hitting the floor resounds loudly in the catacombs. Xavdak rushes over to Aiden, embraces him, and for the first time in Xavdak’s life he weeps. He weeps for his family. He weeps for those he killed at Moriaris. He weeps for the death of his father and brother. He weeps because deep down he knows he was never meant to be king. Chiefly though he weeps for the return of his companion. One of the few people Xavdak could totally, and completely rely upon outside of his family. Xavdak had always been wary of the gods, but this truly was an answer to prayer.

“There, there my old friend, there there” Aiden says as he affectionately strokes the back of Xavdak’s head. The tears flow freely, and with them Xavdak feels his father’s crown grow lighter. Aiden breaks the embrace, pulls a bottle of mead from his coat and says, “looks like we have some catching up to do.” Xavdak smiles, takes a swig of the mead and begins to tell his friend everything he has missed.

Aiden, after his death at the battle of the Dragon was returned by Lathander to the material plane to continue his work. Now he is here to help Xavdak and his friends protect the world once more.

Together Xavdak and Aiden go to Le Bird de Fleur to speak to Reg and Esme who are found sitting at the bar, drinking. Esme has actually closed the inn today and they sit alone with the only light coming from the fireplace. As the door opens they look up and see Xavdak. Esme greets him with appropriate deference due the king, but Reg says nothing and returns to his drink.

Esme tries to clear the air a bit with a shot of a special liqueur called Wolf’s Spit. Xavdak takes his glass and sits by the fire. Aiden sits by Reg and after a few moments of polite conversation reveals himself for who he truly is.
Reg is delighted at the sight of his old friend, gives him a huge bear hug, and together they catch up and talk. After a while Reg takes his shot and to Xavdak says

“I’m not one to tell you how to run your kingdom, and I’ll say this only once. Your rage was just, but your actions were not. I’ll stay, but only for the sake of Aiden.” With that he drains his glass and goes back to the bar.

Meanwhile at Moriaris, Waleak walks the now empty halls remembering times past and mourning. As he enters what used to be the banquet hall he is startled by none other than Nemus who seems strangely healed from his wounds. He is standing beside two chairs and before him on a piece of table that still stands is a bottle and two glasses.

“Join me for a drink?” as he gestures to the chairs.

Waleak eventually, in exhaustion and defeat, sits but he remains wary of this deceiver. They speak for a few minutes and Nemus tries to convince Waleak that the Duskwalkers are holding both him and the temple back from their true potential. He tries to make Waleak believe that they are on the same side. Perhaps the stench of death is too strong still in his nostrils, for Waleak hears none of it. With this refusal Nemus disappears.

Waleak goes to his old chambers. There he presses on a secret stone button which opens a panel in the wall. Inside is a small room. In this room rests Aiden’s old armor, weapons, and his Holy Symbol. Waleak sits and speaks to his lost companion. Half in prayer, half in grief he asks what he should do next.

Unbeknownst to Waleak the others have arrived and Aiden can hear his prayer. Aiden walks in to see Waleak and with a soft word brings him out of his reverie. Once again, the two old friends reminisce and catch up. Waleak returns Aiden’s holy symbol to him.

As the party makes their way outside they are surprised to see a giant standing before them. Waleak tries to speak to him, but he will only parlay with Reg and Esme.

This giant tells of how a group called the keepers of time had sent his tribe to trade with Melaru Rylee in order to obtain a certain scroll. That scroll is now in his possession, and he had been instructed to give it to the party. Remarkably, the scroll magically changes size to match the holder. The giant spreads it out and Reg and Esme read it. The scroll details a legal agreement between ash mountain monastery and ancient Deeplight at the time of the elemental reexamination. Deeplight eventually fell before the work could be done. It describes the events of elemental reexamination – every ten generations of royalty elements the elements must be balanced. Ash mountain monastery attempted to help balance, but a corrupt family in the Deeplight government system was the weakness that led to Deeplight’s demise. The scroll ends with the phrase “May the one who touches this scroll bring balance to the elements.” It is decided that Reg should hold onto the scroll for safekeeping.

The party returns to the keep to speak with a now-coherent John the Silent. While he is still resting in the infirmary the party arrives. Through the discussion, it appears that John had been investigating dark magic, and began to speak to the keepers of time, a group seemingly of giants. He had some trade with Melaru and eventually her magic sucked John into the pocket dimension in the el Gato jar where he was forced to fight the fire elemental. Through his conversation with the Keepers, John believes that a king should be the one to touch the scroll. As such he asks Xavdak to make the attempt. Xavdak lays his hands on it and the scroll seems to react, but suddenly it stops.

“Dammit!” John says gruffly.

Aiden offers John a little healing and the party heads to the banquet hall. Reg, returns the scroll to his belt.

On the way Nemus attempts once more to seduce Waleak away from his chosen path, and attempts to show him something with magic.

Now at the dinner table there is tension and awkwardness in the air. Everyone in the royal family knows of Xavdak’s actions this day. Eventually Gracenda, the Queen Mother, is so upset that she excuses herself and leaves the table. Reg alone seems unaffected by the mood and tucks into his meal, though perhaps it is only the appearance of a dwarf in the eyes of an elf.

Waleak can barely eat. He asks Reg if he could attempt to activate the scroll. Cautiously, Reg hands it over to him across the table. As soon as his skin makes contact with the parchment the room begins to fill with water. In an instant chaos reigns in Xavdak’s halls. The waters continues risings as several elementals invade the room Princess Ravalyn, the king’s sister grabs Ravara and runs to the door, but it is sealed by some magic!

The party unleash the fury of the day on the beasts, each attack more ferocious than the last. Even Ravalyn enters the fray as she uses her hidden blades to strike an elemental down. Thinking quickly she goes to an heirloom tea set that belonged to the women of the family for generations. It sits on the mantel above the fireplace. Inside the teapot is a secret cache of Listawan dust, a magical substance which gives one the power of flight. With this power she dispatches the final elemental.

Quickly, Reg hands the scroll back to Waleak. Once he opens it up again the room is dried in an instant. The scroll has activated with Waleak!

As the party gathers around, a fire elemental appears in the fireplace and attempts a last-ditch effort to kill. It tries to blast Xavdak, but Aiden takes the blow and dispatches the beast. Suddenly the doors burst open. Huge vines shoot through the air and grab at Aiden’s feet, they begin pulling him out of the room. As he is being pulled he buries his axes into the table to slow himself down. He shouts:

“Lathander has passed judgment your kingdom can become the greatest that has ever been or it will dwinde into nothing. You are not your father! You are XAVDAK! YOU…ARE…XAVDAK!”
With those words he is pulled from the room, and from this plane.

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