Return to Dun Alden – Handout (10/26/17)

We return.

Deep darkness looms over Na’Batum. It hangs over tiled rooftops, drifts along the canals and creeps down cobbled walks.

The great sphere of the Oynbokigon, the five hundred foot orb of guttering, crackling darkness leans where it fell against the shattered Tower of the Tullabard and slowly settles into the sacred waters of Ul’Batum. It roars with silent lightless flames, looming monstrously behind the white tower. A pale green miasma of smoke or steam or death itself cascades down from the great sphere. Traces and tendrils of the green gas sink down and through the rubble choked Gates of Justice – the broad arch leading into the royal precinct of Ul’Batum. The gates remain open although the tall spire of the Tower of Truth lies shattered and strewn across the stone stairs before them. Pale green wisps trail down the steps, over rubble and across scattered corpses. The drifting death floats across the Grand Canal and licks at the plaza containing the now shrouded statue of Joronen.

Around you, the poor people of Na’Batum stare with a rapt gaze. The weeks of hunger and suffering are apparent in their gaunt faces. All who remain near the great central plaza of the Grand Canal are beyond fear and many cower, well beyond madness. They have seen things unthinkable – and still the sphere looms like a dark light over everything – weighing and crushing and thinning all around it.

The crowded canals and dense buildings of Na’Batum seem more faded, more fragile, and more set upon by the dark weight of Zaghlool than ever. As you look around and account for yourselves, you realize that your companions were changed by the time they spent within the extra-dimensional space of the sphere and by your battle with the Shothragot, the Dark Harbinger of the Elder Evil, Zaghlool. Your own visage and equipment has been changed as well. It is as though you look at yourself, your companions, and your surroundings through a darkened mirror into an even more desperately grim painting of the reality you knew before.

Papers and pages flutter down like snow from the upper reaches of the shattered tower to fall upon the stairs and into the canal below. Above and behind, the surface of the great sphere convulses and boils with great blisters – growing and rupturing to reveal deep rents and cavities and the beginnings of its strange alien bone-like structure. From one huge blistering rupture, a dense clot of monstrous forms are excreted, squealing and bellowing, to fall together like giant excrement hundreds or more feet to the waters of Ul’Batum below.

The sound of the settling sphere and the silent flames is near deafening in the darkness. At the same time, the clear sound of a stone sliding and then tipping down a stair draws everyone’s attention to the foot of the tower and the great white portal. A shimmering sparkling glow appears in the darkness and then, emerging from the shadows and surrounded by a shielding light, a female figure claws her way through the rubble and through the gates. She is pale skinned with long black hair. She barely crawls. Dragging herself by her hands and arms alone, the remains of a torn diaphanous gown cling wetly to her bruised but nubile form. The jewel upon her neck burns brightly with a shielding radiance. She raises her head and peers out desperately across the plaza and into the still and watching eyes of Na’Batum.

Instantly and in a whirl of shadow, a lean bony figure in long blue cloaks, Fendamar the Wizard, is at her side crouching to grasp and support her. Her quiet voice breaks the roaring silence, “The queen… Queen Tulasamon…and the Crown Prince… the monsters are everywhere…can you save them?”

Fendamar turns to look at you…as does the gaze of the many deep set eyes of the crowd. Then everyone’s gaze turns to Arcturas, to the light shed by his helm and the glow of his breastplate – they watch as if waiting for something to happen. The thousands of hopeless watch for any sign of hope.