Things happened with exceeding haste. We confronted and killed Krozen, as well as Gareth’s mother. He was… happy, to carry that much out. I always find it disheartening to know that a familial bond was warped into such an unfortunate thing. Nonetheless, I am glad the event brought Gareth some peace. His mother was an evil woman and that no doubt contributed to the situation.
Once the two of them were rightly killed, Fahrezz entered the room. To the surprise of some but not all of us, he had intended to block off any of Krozen or Nadine’s attempts at escape. Unfortunately, no sooner had he told us as such than Ganitari’ran arrived and killed him, turning him into a floating eye similar to what occurred when Anna was murdered. Both Taz and I shot her, but although our strikes were true she did not so much as blink.
She forced us asleep and in that moment informed us she had taken Lady Jaela as collateral. We were to bring pieces of the diadem to Sarlona, and use it to open the gate, as only mortals were capable of such. When we awoke, I was… conflicted. I had given Lady Jaela my oath as a paladin of Dol Arrah that I would protect her, even at the cost of my own life. And yet, if the Quori were to succeed, although her life would be preserved, it would not be any kind of living at all—for her, or the remainder of the world.
The aid of the gods arrives in truly mysterious forms, I must admit.
As I struggled to reconcile my duties, Shale arrived and told us that we could activate the diadem, and then de-activate it once an “augmenting device” the Quori had made was activated and subsequently destroyed. Doing this would force Ganitari’ran through the barrier between our plane and the Quori’s, weakening her and freeing the souls she retained. This plan would allow us to find and free Lady Jaela, while also preventing the Quori from fulfilling their plans.
We quickly agreed to the plan, and set about making preparations for our journey. I noticed Taz was distraught, although she tried quite hard to lie and tell me she was fine. I fear she, like many, feels that showing true care for others, or sadness, is a sign of weakness. I embraced her and told her that it was not shameful for her to mourn Fahrezz.
We spoke with Captain Malik in order to find Princess Diana in order to bring her back to her mother. She was sleeping, and although initially frightened by my appearance she quickly agreed to accompany us once I explained we had been sent by her mother. It was a long carriage ride to return to her mother’s castle, made longer by my worries for Lady Jaela. When we finally returned, the queen and her daughter joyously reunited. She then told us she would give us a ship with which to travel to Sarlona—a skyship.
It was late in the evening when we arrived, and Gareth was somewhat rude (albeit well meaning) in our proceedings with the queen, insisting that she allow herself to sleep. When I reprimanded him for his behavior, Deth interjected to say that instead I ought to find Shel and spend the evening with her. I had very little desire to begrudge him that suggestion, and once our preparations for the next day were finished I bathed and found Shel in her room. I doubt I would have been able to sleep without her… distractions, and without her beside me that night.
Regardless, I still got little sleep; I awoke at dawn as always to offer my prayers to Dol Arrah, and beg her aid. I rightly surmised that now, more than ever, we would require it. With some aid from the queen we obtained the diadem, and in the afternoon we boarded the skyship. Regrettably but understandably, Shel remained behind.
Immediately upon our boarding, Taz seemed shocked and even appauled by something, although she refused to say and instead excused herself to her quarters. Gareth and Deth spoke to a particularly dapper looking crewmember, who offered them a tour although he seemed unsettled by Deth. I went below deck, as traveling by air is even more unsettling than traveling by sea. Eventually Afina grew bored with my insistence on reading, and begged me to go up onto the deck so she might see more of it. I begrudgingly complied, and was soon met by Pneu (who was wearing a crew uniform, as is her habit, and told me to “stay out of trouble”) and the crewmember who had given a tour to Gareth and Deth.
The crewmember is not an entirely pleasant man, although perhaps I simply misinterpreted his intent. He seemed to find my admission of disliking heights somewhat amusing, and said that I would burn up in the ring surrounding the ship far before I hit the ground. I can hope that it was his attempt at comforting me…
Near the end of the second day, I heard an explosion and at its source found Taz, unsurprisingly. She was yelling at the same crewmember that had given Gareth and Deth tours. From what I was able to surmise from their shouting, his name is Val and he is a person from her past. She was also upset by him to the point that I was able to follow not more than three paces behind them without her noticing until much later. At that point she attempted to get me to leave, but I refused on the grounds of preventing bloodshed. She did not argue that, and instead proceeded to interrogate Val to the bst of her ability.
I learned a good number of strange things from their conversation as well. Val mentioned that once Taz had had an Adam’s apple, and was able to tell that Deth was a Quori because of the monocle he wore. He was not evil, but the way he set Taz on edge did not incline me to trust him nonetheless. She was insistent on knowing why he was here, but he told her that it did not concern her. Eventually she stormed off, and I followed her.
I inquired if Val was in fact from her past, one of the people she “owes”. She was very reluctant to answer my questions, but eventually admitted that they had exchanged words, blows, and even blood. I imagine he may be the closest she has to family in that case, in a strange way. I offered to protect her, but she declined it and even went so far to say that it was a matter of “honor” that she be the one to kill him. I cannot even begin to fathom where or why Taz began to keep such codes, and strangely enough I found myself nearly wishing that she would not…
During the course of her conversation, I also asked her about the comment Val had made pertaining to her possession of an Adam’s apple, and she dismissed it as him simply having a propensity for lying. While it did not seem as if Taz was lying to me when she said so, I cannot help but wonder if that was the entire story… She seemed flustered to the point of insisting I leave her room, but after I did so I returned shortly after as my worries were not yet assuaged. I did not enjoy intruding on her hospitality in such a way, but I did not wish her to come to any harm from this man and felt learning more about him would be helpful in achieving this goal.
Surprisingly, without any reluctance she invited me back in and even proffered me hot chocolate. I managed to speak more about her past with her, and learned that she and Val have known one another since they were children. However, he is older than her. I found that odd, given that she is an elf and he is a human… But it is not entirely unheard of, either. Apparently, the man at the top of the organization they had both been a part of had encouraged them to be rivals, and this animosity has remained ever since. However, I did at least get her to promise that she would stay safe and not cause the ship to explode. With that, I left.
The remainder of the journey was surprisingly uneventful. We arrived in a large town in Sarlona filled with strange, angular, and crystalline architecture. If the circumstances were different I would have liked to learn more about the methods of construction, or the structural and artistic theories behind such buildings. There were guards waiting for us, and they wasted no time in bringing us to a very large, cathedral-like building. On the way the way, the manner in which they spoke to us was even haughtier than Deth’s normal way of conversing, and I had to hold Gareth back. I had not thought I would ever live to see such a day.
Eventually, we found Ganitari’ran and Taz advised us all to stay at least thirty feet from her. Of course, she refused to show us a sign of her good faith by showing us Lady Jaela, and threatened Deth as well. We all held our tongues and set up the diadem in the center of the room. It is worthy to note that the perimeter of the room was surrounded by armed guards, but Deth was able to surmise that they were an illusion save for four.
Once the diadem was arranged and activated, the entire room began to vibrate fiercely. An enormous hole appeared above the diadem, and I began to cast what spells I knew to increase strength and competence in a fight. Furthermore, I was finally able to finally put to use the blood I was given as a weapon in Dol Arrah’s honor: I sensed the roiling in my blood I feel before every battle change to a protective, lightless glow, much like when I channel the goddess’s radiance. I believe with more devoted study I may yet find other uses for the sulfur in my veins.
The battle itself was surprisingly easy. Although we were faced with destroying the amplifying device itself, fighting the guards, and finally fighting Ganitari’ran, the wounds we suffered were not especially severe, and it all ended quite quickly. Furthermore, once the amplifying device itself was destroyed, Deth’s body and Deth himself (in his Quori form) separated and fought side by side. It was an interesting sight, to speak the least of it.
When Deth’s body defeated Ganitari’ran, eyes scattered from her body. I recognized Anna’s and Fahrezz’s, as far as I was able to tell. Unfortunately, Deth had returned to the plane of dreams while his body had remained behind. I immediately set to work finding Lady Jaela, while the others took care of finding Deth once more on the Quori’s plane. I found Lady Jaela in a holding cell, unharmed but unconscious. I carried her back up to the main room, and then set about searching through the room for anything that may be of use to us. I found a room filled with gold, and filled all our packs with it. To take such spoils from a rightly defeated, evil foe is no sin, and I knew that Gareth and Deth had a great need of funds.
Pneu brought the skyship to us, and as we departed any attempts at attacking were fended off by the great black dragon who has aided us throughout this quest. He flew alongside us for a time as well. The remainder of our time on the ship was filled with drunken revelry on all our parts, and debauchery on the others’… Although when Gareth propositioned me for the umpteenth time, I did tell him I would consider allowing him to join once, with Shel’s consent.
Lady Jaela woke up half way through the flight, so I greatly slackened my alcohol intake to better watch over her. She imbibed a small amount, and joined in the more innocent celebrations. When we finally returned to Thrane, Shel and Seeker were there to greet with the most wonderful news: Anna had learned to place her soul within Seeker’s body! All this time it had been her, and with Ganitari’ran’s death she was whole once more. The others and I were overjoyed to learn of this!
In the following days a great deal happened. Lady Jaela was re-instated without any resistance, and with her restored powers she made quick work of Shale’s employer. With Shale’s help Deth and Fahrezz acquired bodies through unusual but consensual means. Deth remained in the one he had from the start, which I found only mildly surprising. Also, Shel and I did decide to accept Gareth’s request. It was… enjoyable and strange, but will not be repeated.
The nine of us all met a final time to say our goodbyes. Taz asked to come visit me, and I told her that of course such thing would be possible. I told Anna to remain safe, and asked Terra to watch over her. The both said they would, in their own manners. I reminded Gareth to bring Deth with him some of the times when we visit, and they both of course agreed. Although it is unorthodox, I asked Lady Jaela if I might remain in her service as her personal knight and ambassador for the Sovereign Host. She happily agreed, stating I still had much to learn from her. I have no doubt of that. Finally I asked Shel if she would stay with me as I served in Thrane, and she agreed. My heart felt nearly full to bursting when she said so.
It was sorrowful to say goodbye, but I recognize that such is often the nature of our lives. I have completed one journey, but there are many yet to come!