To the Bastion of Unborn Souls
[Warning: Spoilers for the D&D adventure Bastion of Broken Souls below.]
"Your friends are not to be trusted. Avoid them if possible; if you aid them, you risk your standing with us."
With that brief message, the king of Blackmere sent a cryptic warning to Alarion, Beran, Jarvis, and Stannis. As if they didn't already have enough to deal with after the attack of Kali, Mother of Mariliths, now they had to weigh the possibility that their friends had turned against their liege!
But though their fellow Knights of Blackmere might be in trouble, the heroes knew that they couldn't risk interfering. If they got involved now, they'd most likely only make things worse. Besides, time was not their ally--if Merrshaulk had sent one minion in search of the descendant of Dydd, he wouldn't wait long before sending reinforcements.
Following the lead of Beran's druidic bloodline, the heroes traveled to the Church of the Elements in Brithonen, an ancient temple devoted to the Old Faith. There, they heard the prophecy that Dydd's descendant would one day revisit the long-dead druid's battle with the wyrm Ashardalon, and also learned some secrets that might help them in that fight.
But the druids couldn't tell them where Ashardalon might be found. Instead, they pointed the heroes to a mysterious figure known as "The Dreamer," who lived in the distant city of Tekret, far to the south. There, in a metropolis crawling with corruption and depravity, the heroes learned that their quarry lay waiting in a place known as the Bastion of Unborn Souls--a "soul font" of creatures yet to live.
Even this knowledge wasn't enough: To reach the Bastion, they would have to retrieve a fragment of a powerful artifact, the Soul Totem. Crafted by Kulan Gath, one of the four primal gods of the world, the Soul Totem once held the power of a deity. But when Kulan Gath was thrown down by the other primal gods for daring to claim the unborn as part of his domain of power, the Soul Totem was broken into three parts and scattered throughout the multiverse. One fragment was now in the clutches of Ashardalon--which had allowed the dragon entrance into the bastion--while the other was still lost. But the third was held by Kulan Gath himself, in his extradimensional prison--a prison guarded by a celestial being of immense power.
After a good deal of research and legwork, the heroes tracked down the celestial gatekeeper, and confronted her. Though she listened to their entreaties, she refused to allow them entrance to Kulan Gath's prison. The heroes were torn. Their quest was righteous, with the world possibly hanging in the balance as Ashardalon continued to consume unborn souls. But here a servant of Altius Highfather himself stood in their way.
In the end, the heroes did what heroes do: the right thing, damn the consequences. A titanic battle raged, as the desperate heroes fought against a mighty warrior-angel. And when the dust finally cleared, the angel lay destroyed, shattered by the swords and spells of the saddened heroes.
With the angel's death a portal opened before the heroes. After recuperating from their fight, they stepped through into the prison of Kulan Gath. Almost immediately, an enormous figure confronted the heroes. Though only a shadow of his former self, Kulan Gath, god of darkness, void, and nothingness, still towered above the mortal intruders. And around the fallen god's neck hung a fragment of amulet: the Soul Totem.
Once again combat ensued, but this time the heroes didn't face a mere godservant, but a god himself. One by one the heroes fell, struck down by the awesome power of this ancient deity. Standing together, the mighty warriors Alarion and Jarvis finally managed to defeat Kulan Gath, striking down the god with all the fury they could muster. The Soul Totem fragment was theirs, but at what cost? The two were trapped in Kulan Gath's prison, with no way home.
In desperation, the two heroes pled to Altius for assistance. Surely their god could not forsake them here, when they were so close to reaching their enemy? They begged for divine favor, pledging their renewed loyalty and fealty to the Highfather.
And then, their prayers were answered. A tall, golden-skinned angel appeared before them, his gaze transfixing them in awe. The angel, who identified himself as Alloss, informed the two that Altius had heard their entreaties. But the god was also concerned that the heroes had strayed from his worship. Alarion, once a proud paladin, had all but turned his back upon the church, while Jarvis had paid little more than lip service to his faith.
That day, the two heroes renewed their faith and devotion to Altius. Alarion agreed to once again take up the mantle of paladinhood, while Jarvis agreed to undergo the holy rites that would mark him as an acolyte of Altius. With that, the angel Alloss restored life to the heroes' fallen comrades, and returned the entire group to the safety of Alarion's stronghold, Silverpoint.
After catching their breath, the heroes knew that the last leg of their journey still lay before them. Using the Soul Totem fragment as a guide, the heroes traveled across the dimensions to the doorstep of the Bastion of Unborn Souls, the universal font of life. There would be no more diversions or side treks, nothing else to keep them from facing the foe whose existence had echoed down through the centuries, plaguing the heroes from the earliest point of their career. Whether facing kobolds and evil druids in the ruins of an ancient dragon-cult stronghold, battling power-hungry dragon cultists, or dealing with a crazed vampire sorcerer bent on resurrecting the wyrm thought long-dead, the heroes had--whether they realized it or not--been preparing for this fight for years.
Now they had to face Ashardalon himself. And this time, they'd make sure he didn't come back...ever.
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All material copyright Andy Collins 2001-2008.