After the attack
PURPOSE ABORTED. FOCUS OF PURPOSE NO LONGER WITHIN RANGE. REFORMATTING…
When the smoke cleared and the damage was assessed, the town’s would-be defenders gathered around the mysterious animated statue that came from the old ruins.
As the orb and the orb robbers made their escape, the warforged felt his single-minded drive began to wane. Self-repair enchantments kicked in, and everything went dark for a time.
SELF-REPAIR COMPLETE. REFORMATTING COMPLETE. NEW PURPOSE UNAVAILABLE. CLEANSING PROTOCOL ENABLED.
PLEASE INPUT UNIT DESIGNATION…
“… this old fossil?” A voice asked.
DESIGNATION “FOSSIL.” PURPOSE NOT FOUND. PLEASE AWAIT NEW INSTRUCTIONS.
What “cleansing?” Who are you?
CLEANSING: PROTOCOL TO SECURE HOLDING AREA IF OBJECT IN QUESTION IS REMOVED. POSSIBILITY OF INFILTRATION LIKELY. AREA TO BE PURGED. THIS WILL BEGIN IN 58 MINUTES, 33 SECONDS. PLEASE AVOID CRECHE-FORGE, DAMAGE MAY RESULT.
Having just met moments earlier, the would-be defenders of Nubereg considered what had just happened. The strangers introduced themselves.
Aki Warflame, totem warrior of the Northerlunds. Omens told him to be here on this day.
Damien Thornbrick, an honest shopkeeper trying to make an honest living (and black market smuggler who is elbow-deep in ever dirty dealing in town).
Shagrielanthalas Riven (“but please, call me Sha’Riven”), wild elf favored soul of Solonor Thelandira, Lord of the Hunt.
Igor Von Grimm (“It’s a common where I’m from.”), cleric of Wee Jas, the Lady of Death.
Sir Henry Garrickson, paladin of Bahamut who is so new, the holy oil had not get dried on his forehead.
To their surprise, the living statue started to move. The encounter with the fire elemental didn’t kill it after all.
It stood, and tried to address the five others.
“I am designated ‘Fossil.’ What will new PURPOSE be?”
“Do you understand that?” Sir henry asked. He had a dabbling of the language of Celestia, and this sounded similar.
“I do no think you understand me,” Fossil said, the blank looks confirming his theory.
He waved his hands with arcane motions, and the five defenders quickly drawing weapons on him.
From the keep came running the high priest of the Bahamut (Father of Dragons), bearing wounds from the airship attack not quite healed.
He took a knee in front of Fossil.
“The prophesy! This is the Harbinger of Doom! Show mercy on the Dragon Father’s humble servants!”
Fossil completed the spell.
Perhaps they will understand now.
“Please excuse me. I do not know who the Dragon Father is.”
Sir Henry lowered his sword. He could sense no malice in the creature. And the holy father declared him some harbinger, and no good ever came from slaying a harbinger.
Fossil watched as the older human in the regalia continued to prostrate himself. Unaware of what it was called, Fossil began to feel embarrassed.
“Please do not continue bowing. I am not here to herald any End of Times.”
He stopped. What did the voice in his head say?
CLEANSING: PROTOCOL TO SECURE HOLDING AREA IF OBJECT IN QUESTION IS REMOVED> POSSIBILITY OF INFILTRATION LIKELY. AREA TO BE PURGED. THIS WILL BEGIN IN 58 MINUTES, 33 SECONDS. PLEASE AVOID CRECHE-FORGE, DAMAGE MAY RESULT.__
“Actually no, that is not entirely true. In 57 minutes this entire valley will be destroyed. I believe it is because the Orb was taken from its sanctuary.”
Fossil nodded to himself, pleased that he did not relay inaccurate information.
“56 minutes and 12 second.”
The assembled group took a moment to process what this construct had said.
“Blessed Father,” Sir Henry said to the still prostrate cleric, “er, what prophesy are you speaking of?”
The high priest of Bahamut stood up, a bit chagrined.
“You don’t understand! Since the founding Nubereg, it was said if the rest of Sir Loren Nubereg were ever disturbed, a great and terrible judgement would be passed on all the peoples of the land!”
Igor was an avid scholar of history and local legends, but he had never heard of such a warning.
“Is this written, this Prophecy? Might it be misinterpreted?” All eyes turned to him, Sir Henry trying to shake his head in warning.
“Novice Von Grimm,” the priest sniffed, “this prophecy is older than this town, and has been passed down since the first flagstone of Nubereg castle was laid. It cannot be ‘misinterpreted’.”
“I beg your pardon,” Sha’Riven piped in, “but my people have been in this valley before the first humans cut stone. If there was any foretold doom here, I’m sure our Elders would have told me.”
What she did not say (or even realized) was that the wood elf elders long ago learned to not bother telling her anything not involving more than two syllables.
“Can you show us this prophecy?” Damien asked. The paladin scowled at the smarmy shopkeeper. Bahamut knew he was always up to some not-quite-evil deed, and he was making a mockery of a grave situation.
“A prophecy is not simply written on a piece of vellum and nailed to a wall, merchant. It is kept safe from prying eyes.”
The high priest relented, and took the collected group to the temple of Bahamut. Locked an hidden from the laity’s eyes was a secret chamber. One wall had the remains of a stained glass window, and on the ceiling was the faded remains of a vast mural.
The glass depicted a ten scenes, with only six fully intact:
- A red orb sitting on a frozen field
A silver orb within a half-opened cask
A green orb held in the palm of a blue-skinned giant
A bronze orb on a stone dais surrounded by a feathered serpent
A gold orb in the hand of an elf lord
And a white orb cradled by a pious knight.
The mural is more difficult to decipher: the white orb sat on a throne, surrounded by statues that looked like the thing that called itself Fossil.
Another quadrant of the mural saw the throne empty, and the statues drawing blades in a threatening manner.
Finally, a depiction of fire and general suffering was shown. vague, but it could possibly mean moving the orb could result in fiery destruction.
“Thirty-nine minutes,” Fossil said, helpfully.
“Okay, so then if what Fossil says is true, and your painting of DOOM suggests is right, we’re all going to die,” Damien said glumly.
“Well not necessarily all of us,” Sha’Riven offered, “maybe just those of us that are close to the ruins.”
“Well, can it be shut down?” Igor asked, wondering why no one else thought to.
Fossil thought for a moment. If the CLEANSING was a provision created to react to this artifact being moved, then perhaps there was a way to stop, or at least delay the CLEANSING.
He shared this theory with the others.
“I’m not the ‘wait to die’ sort,” Damien says, nervously thumbing his icy dagger, “so, Magic Man, how do we get in there and turn it off?”
“I am not a man, I am Warforged,” Fossil corrected.
Damien shrugged, waiting for more elaboration.
“As for ‘shutting down’ the CLEANSING, I do not know. I suppose we could follow the path which the invaders took, and try not to let the inner defenses kill us.”
Damien was eager to shut down whatever ancient gift of spite lay waiting, Sir Henry was not about to allow such a shifty individual to go in alone, and Fossil was curious to see if any more like him were still intact.
Sha’Riven, Igor and Aki all felt obliged to join them, both at the high priest’s urging, and by the sudden camaraderie that sharing a life-or-death battle brings in people.
Without a moment to lose, the all quickly headed to the ruins.
“You don’t need to keep telling us this, by the way,” Igor tells the warforged.
The first death traps were already sprung by the armoured invaders, and the site of the ripped, crushed, and mangled bodies encouraged caution among the group. Aki’s ability to blink from one place to another, and Damien’s knack for spotting traps help speed their descent into the complex.
Finally, they reached the throne depicted in the mural. And as shown, it sat empty.
Behind the throne, an ancient clockwork mechanism seemed to be counting down to something. And there was only a short amount of time remaining.
Fourteen minutes, Fossil thought. I noticed reciting the countdown upset his new associated, so he decided to keep this information to himself.
Damien assessed the machinery, and it seemed that whatever it was, it could be be stopped. But before he could do anything, another defensive measure was activated…
Standing twice the size of the tallest of the group, four giant warforged materialized from the countdown mechanism, and attempted to crush the small organism trying to deactive the CLEANSING.
Aki, Henry, Sha’Riven and Igor fought to hold the giant machine men off, while Fossil and Damien worked to figure out how the ancient doomsday clock could be dismantled.
Being not evil, they prove a particular challenge to Sir Henry. While he knew it was vital to protect the people of Nubereg, he feared it was an act of sacrilege to fight these defenders.
Aki had no such compunction, but he was grateful for the healing magic of Sha’Riven, as he was being pummeled greatly.
Finally the mechanism was destroyed, and the giant warfored guardians exploded in a massive energy surge…
…all of which was absorbed by Fossil, causing him to suffer a massive overload.
When the smoke cleared, the group carried the fallen defender back to the temple of Bahamut.
Within the mind of Fossil, strange images coalesced
- Ten Orbs: Red, Blue, White, Black, Green, Silver, Bronze, Gold, Brass and Copper,
- A field of bones beset by storms: some of the bones of huge creature do not rest lightly,
- A Winged man on a ziggurat, screaming at a monstrous being with five heads,
- A great fortress in the sky, shining with holy light,
while a trilling flute played an infectious melody…
“…seems to heal it, but not as effectively as it might you or I…”
Voices called Fossil.
NO PURPOSE FOUND. PLEASE STAND BY. YOU ARE FREE TO MOVE ABOUT FREELY PENDING FURTHER PURPOSE.
And he opened his eyes.
The group laid the creature that called itself Fossil among the others wounded and killed in the temple of Bahamut. Igor, Sha’Riven and Sir Henry all expended all the healing magic they could for those in need.
Finally Sha’Riven tried to heal Fossil, from whatever it was that ailed “him”.
Humans are always so caught up in their gender pronouns, she thought idly.
“Do you think that will work, Elf Shaman?” the Norlunder named Aki asked her. “I had thought the power of the Gods only worked on those of flesh and blood?”
She shrugged. Something had happened when she cast the spell on Fossil.
“The Blessings of Solonor Thelandira seems to heal it, but not as effectively as it might you or I,” she tell him. “And I told you my name is Sha’ Riven. Shamanism is something for lizardfolk.”
Aki had no idea what a “lizard folk” was, but took her rebuke stoically. Stoicism being second only to anger as the most common mood of those from the Northerlunds.
The Fossil opened his eyes.
“The orb! And walking bones! And where is the winged one shouting?”
The five defenders surrounded the warforged. After calming Fossil somewhat, they all set about to helping put out the remaining fires, help those they could, and bury those they could not.
Two days passed. The last of the dead were buried, and rebuilding slowly began. Aki, Igor, Sha’Riven, Sir Henry, Damien and Fossil were brought to an audience with Lord Rupert Nubereg and the surviving priests of Fharlanghn, Pelor and Bahamut.
The attack on the town and theft of the artifact might have deeper repercussions. The town leaders ask the group to seek out Lord Nubereg’s sister, who has an estate in the city of Denhagen. Comptess Nubereg could possibly help determine what was taken, and why. Due to the damage and potential for another attack, Lord Nubereg and the churches cannot spare any other manpower.
The journey on foot would be about three days, taking the Old Road through the Dïrkwald. For their own reasons, each member of the group agrees to take the journey, be it duty, vengeance, curiosity, PURPOSE, Omens, or nothing better to do.
And after some time spent to outfit themselves and collect whatever evidence of the attack and the artifact taken they can, they set out on the Old Road toward Denhagen.