THE ORDER INEVITABLE

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Sir Morgan Blackwood, Thael The Dark and The Most Reverend Bishop Samuhal Dunwatter made the slow ascent to the chamber atop the great step pyramid. The air thick and full with humidity, taxed the two humans Morgan and Samuhal to the extremes of their endurance,and even Thael The Dark,a half elf who was more possessed of the tireless physique of his dark-elven heritage felt the strain, even as he maintained his lithe poise. The Sorcerer Joth Joi immediately and foremost recognized the half elf, a half elf like himself, and yet so obviously different. Where the elven heritage of this one that he watched from this distance (and could even from this distance so clearly discern)was that of the dark elves of the subterranean realm, Joth Joi was a descendant of the High Elves of the coast – or the Wood Elves of the Sylvan Glade, a descendant of the elves of light. He knew at least that much,as he watched from the top chamber of the pyramid in the center of the jungle complex, watched the ascent of the three adventurers on the steps of the pyramid to the east – perhaps 500 ft away. Nearby his friend,and maybe the only other survivor from their expert group of adventurers, their group of friends, Bishop Darmoth of The Holy Light rested uneasily. Even his serene mind troubled by the dark dreams that were the residue of the past weeks events.

Slightly over two months before, by star reckoning, the party of Sorcerer Joth Joi, Bishop Darmoth, Kelhabar Vols( an expert Ranger from the Suss Forest) Amheguid The Quick ( a Sylvan Elf and Rogue member of a secretive Guild in the City of Grey Hawk) and Gorbahad of The Deaf Anvil Forge ( a Dwarven Paladin and Veteran of the WAR)set forth from the port of Gradsul, in southern Keoland, to brave the challenges and reap the rewards, of the Amedio Jungle. Each member perhaps had there own agenda – but they were friends and had braved challenges together as a group for many years. They were confident at their departure that together they would prevail(and profit) on this campaign as they had so many times before. Confident that ultimately, though their individual faiths, alignments, and agendas may differ on many levels, they were as a party, a sum greater than the individual parts. They trusted each other and that trust was not forgotten, now that only two of their number were left, and three lost in the chambers below.

Sir Blackwood, Thael The Dark and Bishop Dunwatter entered the top chamber of the pyramid to the sight of their sometimes ally The Arch Mage Orloc, formerly Count of the Kingdom of Keoland locked in a state of stupor, seemingly at the hands of a hideous Demon Psychic, wielding what must have been a great power through a man sized deep violet crystal set upon a dais on the far side of the room. They had expected to meet Orloc somewhere in the ruins of Amedio, but not under such circumstances. But neither had they expected to have done battle with a Dragon before the fact, and that had happened only an hour or so earlier. The Huge Black Dragon, seemingly in a miscalculation based on underestimating his preys strength, had made a juggernaut attack against Sir Blackwood, and received such profound damage in the initial combat that it had retreated to the jungle. That route would be short lived.

As Joth Joi watched from the doorway of the pyramid chamber there came from within the chamber atop it’s smaller twin a shimmering glow, prismatic in it’s scope of colors, with elements of purple, indigo and lilac being the prevalent and recurring theme. Even as Joth turned to rouse his compatriot Darmoth, there was tremor, a thump that reminded Joth of the Dwarven artillery that had routed the fleet of Ergarrin the Infernal during the battle for Gradsul in the last months of THE WAR, but tenfold it’s force in concussive power. With this sound Bishop Dramoth gained his feet and his wits in an instant, made a prayer to his God Pelor, and was at Joth’s side in the doorway, they both turned there eyes to the western pyramid once more, in time to see first the whole structure quake as though struck from above by a tremendous hammer, and tilt at it’s northern base, into the ground. But before any conclusions could be drawn as to the origin of this sudden force, or as to it’s meaning a second vision , announced by a quick graying of the sunlit jungle, drove all other distractions from their minds. From the east, swooping in over the very structure from which they watched, a Huge Black Dragon came down upon the roof of the western pyramid. It landed less with the grace and precision of a bird of prey than with the clumsy rage of a great cat that had chased it’s prey too long and was now filled with as much blood lust for the kill as it were with hunger. Great pieces of the obsidian masonry gave way under it and fell both off and down the sides of the pyramid and collapsed within the top chamber itself. Immediately upon landing the great Dragon vomited great afflictions of what both Joth and Darmoth knew were powerful acids from it’s innards. Though they knew the consequences would be grim for them, both ran to the precipice of the steep steps , and with a glance of affirmation to each other, descended to the jungle below to face those consequences, whatever they may ultimately prove to be.

Even as Joth and Darmoth made their way across the jungle things had taken a troublesome turn for the Morgan, Thael and Samuhal. Morgan and Thael had no sooner entered the chamber when additional tendrils of energy burgeoned forth from the Demons crystalinne weapon and seemed to clutch the very matter of their brains like consricting snakes made of psionic force. Only by chance and the lightning warrior instinct of Morgan had Samuhal escaped the energy. In the instant the purple lightning burst forth from the crystal Morgan had moved to interpose himself between it and his friends. It was a bitter irony that Thael, in his trademark hyper focused state had moved quicker still to meet his foes, and to perhaps stand with his old ally (if not friend) Orloc in his moment of need, and had thus been captured and rendered helpless as well. Even free of the full effect of the psychic attack Samuhal felt the staggering fugue in the periphery of his consciousness, and had to fight the effects of the stupor with great effort.

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Archael

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