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Old Jul 12th, 2022, 12:22 PM
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Heart of the Shadow: Epilogue

The Red Hand of Doom:Rebirth
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Holgrim rested by the fire, still saddened and coming to terms with the loss of ten years of his life. His bootless feet rested atop Rubric Dos, just the Father Sergent had seen Okaat do while the two friends reminisced about the War of the Book. The Lord of Leilon had many challenges to repair the city, but they had been faced. Now the City State rose from the ashes of the Jester's destruction of the Sword Coast.

Rubric Dos whimpered suddenly-dreaming of his former master. Holgrim missed the hobgoblin nearly as much as the dire wolf defender. Outside the wind picked up. The sky outside had a strange red and maroon that was a trick of the clouds captured in the embrace of the setting sun. Beams of light shot through the clouds creating a brilliant sun shower. The Father Sergeant looked out the window of his tower from his seat and considered rising to get a better look.
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Then heat lightning shot across the clouds. The cascade of light was from the northeast, towards the Neverwood. Another crackle, more distant lightning. Behind him, Rubric Dos shot upright, and Holgrim could hear the scrape of metallic claws on the stone floor of the tower. He turned to see the steel defender's eyes glow in the same maroon light. It could not be a coincidence.


Dos' nose pointed to the northeast. A growl escaped his metal throat. The sound was like a wolf's growl mixed with breaking machinery. Gears were breaking to make that sound. Dos kept looking northeast, and his ears perked up. The wolf had heard something.

In a flash of realization, Holgrim looked out the window to the northeast. He realized, though his eyes could not see so far, he looked to the CallHill. Castle Cragmaw. He knew that place, in the hands of the Cragmaws now. That fabled castle, the seat of power. There was turmoil in the Neverwood yet again. Not dhaer, the Jester, or Kadaran's soldiers. This was something worse, something evil.

His god was sending him a message.

He was back.

Okaat.

Okaat was back from the Shadowfell, and his wolf knew. Okaat's wolf feared his former master.

What could it all mean?

Holgrim felt his heart sink while he watched the sky. The light red turned to blood. The maroon turned to purple. The gray turned to black. His eyes were fixed:to the northeast, to the CallHill. The land between was covered in blood red light. An army came for his people. The red light spread across the land. In his ears he heard the sound of gears. Clicking, clacking, grinding. The sound of the gears and the red light.

The light cut away to make a form: a palm, five fingers, all dripping blood.

The mechanical noises cut away to a few: a voice that was rigid and without emotion.

The Red Hand of Doom.

Beware the Red Hand of Doom.

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PC: Cthonian Star, Curse of Strahd, Eberron Escapades, Masks, Odyssey of the Dragonlords, Out of the Abyss, To the CallHill, Way of the Wicked, The Third Imperium DM: Against the Unknown, Horror on the Orient Express, The Abomination Gates, ttC:Descent into Avernus, To the StarHill:Dead Suns.

Last edited by Bluejack; Jul 12th, 2022 at 12:46 PM.
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Old Jul 12th, 2022, 01:54 PM
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Jennifer Jennifer is offline
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Your arms are my castle, your heart is my sky
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Moments later, as if waking from a dream, the two of them awoke in the largest bed that Khloe had ever seen. It was wider and longer than a team of horses, it had columns of white granite spiraling up into the sky to end in star finials, shear drapes hung from the posts and heavy curtains were pulled back. They both lay there in the bed, fully clothed, wondering if they had just shared a dream, if the other was aware of the dream, how did they get in the bed, and what was going on in the castle.

She squealed loudly, kicking her feet and hammering her elbows into the over stuffed mattress. All around her was beauty, from the billowing canopies of the finest curtains and draperies, to the goose down stuffed duvet, the pillows were soft, yet firm like the breathing chest of a man under your ear, his furry chest and soft flesh caressing you into a warm bubble of safety; but it was more than that. She was alive! She could feel every hair on her head vibrate, her fingers and toes tingled with electrified energy. Somehow, some way, she had managed to buy the freedom of her friends, of the town, even Rodrigo achieving more than her dreams could have ever prepared for her to comprehend let alone desire to achieve.

Leaping from the bed she tore to the window, throwing open the dark curtains and spilling light throughout the room. From somewhere in the back a groan could have been heard, but not from her. She peered out the window to see a bluebird sitting on a flower box stuffed full of jasmine. "Oh you adorable little darling, you sing so beautifully little birdie." she called to the bird. Unfortunately for Khloe the bird had been a long term resident of the city and knew nothing but pain and suffering to come from the castle. Thus instead of coming to her as her heart desired, it flew off. She frowned before returning to her natural smile, "Awe, bye bye birdie. Come back soon."

Below her children ran in the streets. The sun overhead streamed light into the town, mold and mildew long since having enjoyed nothing but moonlight and the darkness of twilight curled back being snuffed out by the sterilization of beautiful light. In the distance the bells started to ring out, first one chapel, then another, then another. The light tinkling of bells from the shrines, the thunderous bells of the chapels, all played their glorious themes into the waking dawn; all dwarfed by the swelling sound of Mistress Nyx's Grand Basilica's pipe organ, it's joyful noise filling the air and the hearts of all with the Song of the Night. Chills ran down Khloe's spine as the song poured forth. Men, women, all present sang while working and playing, singing along with the tune as a tear formed in Khloe's eye.

"You should see this, Rodrigo. It's... it's glorious." Khloe cooed as she felt, not just heard, felt, the thunderous chimes ring out the Song of the Night. It rippled through her, washing her from head to toe as it did so. She could feel the power from within mix with it, her inner light or whatever Nyx had called it, seduced the music drawing it into her. Unwilled her inner spirits manifested themselves, swam with her mind in the song, drawing upon the energy and feeding off it.

Behind her, Rodrigo, grabbed a pillow and slammed it over his face. "I should have let her kill me. Why didn't I let her kill me. Now I have to put up with her being so cheerful and bright, never again to sleep in, to enjoy a quiet night." He mocked, for despite her cherub like demeanor, he too felt a stirring of the soul, compelling him to celebrate as well.

He put the pillow down padded up behind her. His arms wrapped about her like stone walls, his chin rested atop her head like a crown, as he held her close. He too had been infected, feeling joy for the first time in thousands of years, the crystal enclosure that had once encapsulated his heart truly broken. The darkness, the emptiness of his life gone. What once was void, filled naught with even so much as starlight, not spilled over with fullness for his castle, his people, his matron, even this dancer of the dance.

She turned into his embrace, sliding her chin up his chest so she could look up into his softened, green eyes. "Oh pooh, you old man. You need a little more cheer and a lot less gloom in your life anyway. Come on, let's get out of bed and go see the town. We can wish the townsmen good morn, get buttered biscuits with honey, play with the children, ..."

In faux outrage he grabbed her, twirling her as if still a part of the dance, as he did so the softness of his green eyes fell upon her, his well cut jaw produced a warm smile, instead of the charming spell used to seduce women away, all that remained was his soul; softened and warmed as he replied, "I think not, my minx of joy. Mistress who are my stars and my moon. Let's go back to bed and see if we can make some of our own beauty and let the townsfolk clean up before we go out to inflict your boundless joy upon them."

Khloe looked up and kissed him. The dance of the night before, was it the night before? Time felt 'off' in this place, well the dance had intertwined their souls. It wasn't love or lust that drove them, it was more...it was as if two bodies held one katra, and that one katra wanted to reunite.

She allowed him to bring her back to the bed, drawing the curtains about them as they engaged in all the naughtiness he knew of, and all the new ideas she brought from witnessing her family. For a lord of the manor, he sure was a sheltered young lad...a young lad over 400 years older than she, but sheltered nonetheless. The darkness of his heart was gone, replaced with something else.

They gave of all they had to each other that morning, bringing forth the first of which was to be many children. Her first, her first would be trouble however - her first, Mary Celeste de la Sossion, Matriarch of the Family Sossion in the Prime Material, bearer of the Copper Comb. She would stand upon the inflection point of humanity and lycan communities. Would she be true to the test, or would she fail?



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The darkest clouds are at the door.
The trail out is concealed in darkened hail.
The zigzag lightning stands high upon yore.
Yet it is ourselves who must measure the scale.

We, Lord and Lady alike, stand upon the cusp of a new dawn.
Man and woman and child alike reaching for more.
Yet the city and grounds before us lay forlorn.
Inside us, a light, a beam of radiance reaches out towards the shore.

The town, once asleep, they couldn't believe they couldn't see.
Kept in the dark, the twilight, despite reality in front of them.
They've been sleeping a thousand years waiting for me.
Now is the time for awakening, a time to revive the diadem.

For thirty years Khloe worked with the townsfolk. Came to know them. To know their children and their children's children. Like the night itself she never grew a day older, nor did her Lord Rodrigo. By day they held the form of humans, bold, noble, true; they walked and talked with all. They were as one as they lead their people into the twilight of their existence. The brilliance of the day done, and the promise of the night to come.

By day Rodrigo and Khloe helped shop keepers repair their thatched roofs, worked on the stain glass windows of the Basilica, played with the children in the fields, and gave of their all to any who asked.

By night Lord Rodrigo took upon the form of a werewolf and Lady Khloe that of a Fuchsbau; guarded the city, the city's tower, it's grand basilica, its persons, and it's animals from all the evils of the night and the threats of the day. Wolf and fox, strong and wily; in all the realms of all the races of all the peoples only here, under the Sossion family, were children playing in the night truly safe.

They ruled justly, tempering Rodrigo's sense of right and wrong with Khloe's mercy and compassion. They invited in the thieves guild, sent their Night's Guard to train at Helm's temples, called upon wise counsellors and learned sages to establish schools. They put the needs of the town first, they grew their family and treated them as any other townsman, they taught that no man is greater than another by right of birth, but that nobility comes from within; that truth and honor was the gift one gave themselves; that the future is not written and if you want the future to be a good one, then you had better effect it yourself, lest others do it for you.

Year after year the town grew to love their Lord and Lady and their Lord and Lady grew to love their town. Gardens sprung with beauty renewed. The gardens that Rodrigo had planned in the dark of night, now blossomed and teamed with life. Druids were hired to spur the growth of gardens and farms, to heal that which was hurt due to the lack of the sun. Meanwhile Nyx's grand basilica drew the most powerful priests and priestesses from across the multiverse as they sought training from Lord Rodrigo; they sought the secrets that only Nyx had gathered over eons of listening into the whispers of the most powerful, the most traumatized, the warmest and darkest thoughts uttered under cover of night.

Khloe gave birth many times over the years. Either the gods hated her or adored her, for she had two score children in her prime, and her children grew and prospered, many wandered back out into the various realms restoring the traveling circus that was the family heritage, some engaging in adventure, others mingling with politicians and lawyers. Khloe's heart longed to travel with them, it was unnatural for one such as she to stay too long in one place - yet this was her place now. A geas imposed upon her, preventing her from leaving and compelling her to keep magnifying the beauty and wonder herein.

Her first born, Mary Celeste De La Sossion, bore the copper comb of the family line. It's magic no longer accessible to Lady Khloe after that fateful dance, but fully restored for her daughter. Mary stepped forth one day, with the sad and glad blessings of her mother and father, to enter the prime material plane. Like her mother she sought to bring beauty into the world, but like her father she realized the need for darkness, the need to have the night and how to read the signs. Nyx had blessed her, given her deeper insight into the lore told by the stars - stars that had seen it all, been there through it all, recorded it all. She, if she lived, would one day become the greatest champion Nyx had ever set forth.

Not that it made it any easier for Khloe to kiss her eldest daughter goodbye, and wish her many blessings with the hopes that she would return to tell her of her travels. Then again, what parent happily kisses their children goodbye as they leave the nest? What parent doesn't harbor thoughts of the darkness and despair that awaits, wishing to leap between harm and their loved ones? Just as she felt that night, that night when a man in armor, a monk in cloth, a druid in leather, a craftsman with golem; when those she called friends fought with valor and might to free the town, to save the maidens, those she had not seen in many moons.

With great sadness of heart, Khloe lifted the copper comb from her hair and slid it into Celeste's. "My daughter, sergeant in the Nights Guard, Priestess of Nyx, you've made me so proud over your life time. You know this comb, you know it's power is...well unique. Somehow, in some way, it will be the tool you need when you need a tool the most. How it will help you, I cannot say, but cherish it. Give it to my granddaughter when you have her. Most importantly though, please come home one day." she kissed Celeste softly on the cheek, a tear in her eye for she knew it was time for Celeste to learn what it was she needed to learn to fulfill the destiny that Nyx had conspired for her.

Celeste hugged her mother, shook her father's hand. Standing there in armored mail, cloaks of protection and magic around her, the very blessings of Nyx herself infused into her being and despite that, she felt naked and exposed. Years of experience in the Night's Guard, command experience, but this would be her first foray from home, away from the wise counsel of her father and the emotional support of her mother. She knew she was ready, she was champing at the bit to get going, but still, part of her wanted to stay. Mother, father. she could say no more as something lodged itself in her throat.

Moments later Khloe's daughter stepped into the portal, with the blessings of her mother and her father, while her mother and father held hands and watched. They truly hoped she would be okay, and despite Khloe's tears, Rodrigo reminded her that Celeste was an adult, she was trained by Captain Harmon Shīrudo himself, she carried the copper comb, and she had Nyx's blessings, she was well cared for. Though the reassurances would never replace the fear in Khloe's heart.



She was working with an artisan on the roof of the great basilica. They were enchanting it to look like Nyx upon her dais, her velvet cloak of stars swept to the side as she sat in judgement over the night. Behind her, robed in wispy milk like fur, stood Selune, mistress of the moon. This was to be the capstone of the newly rebuilt temple. Even the splendor of the castle itself could not compare to it's beauty.

That sky looks awful dark. she looked deep into the new roof. It stretched before her, around her, engulfing her. The room seemed to spin ever so slowly, like the night sky on fast forward. She watched as the stars became constellations, the constellations telling the tales of old as great heroes and heroines fought the good fight, defending beauty and honor. She had a lifting sensation as she looked on. Wow! Look at that. Solonor Thelandira, or if you prefer in the original elvish, Soʊloʊnoʊr θɛˈlɑːndɪrə, soared through the celestial sphere, her silver tipped spear thrusting deep into the ram's side as she slew her beast.

Beside her, Mɔːrɑːdɪn, Moradin; rained blows upon a new spear for her. Up and down, like a mechanical piston, his hammer fell upon the razor sharp lightning spike that would be the tip of Soʊloʊnoʊr θɛˈlɑːndɪrə's new spear. Sparks like miniature stars cascaded off into the distance, becoming comets with great tails. He handed it to Solonor. As he did so, Soʊloʊnoʊr took the spear and thrust it deep into the gullet of a charging boar, a boar of silvered skin; razor sharp, venom filled spines ran along the beasts sides as the great huntress took down her prey. And there, there stood Helm his shield up, Tempus stood behind as hoards of demons appeared to scurry up from the under-realms to be brought down by sword and hammer strike.

Another scene sprawled before her, then another and another. The story of the gods and goddesses; of great heroes and heroines; of legend and lore sprawled through the night skies. Each great event recorded in the stars to be remembered forever by her mistress of secrets. The stories behind them, the reasons for them, the fragile delicacy of the tapestries of life reflected in shades of navy.

She climbed yet higher into the night sky. The recreations of memories ages past fell beneath her as she drew nigh, receding and threatening to reveal to her secrets even more strange, more powerful than even the inner thoughts of the gods. She was drawn closer, so close she felt she could actually grab ahold of the sky itself and tear it apart in her hands. Almost she could see the velvety folds before they parted like great curtains rolled back from the diadem. Great human legs appeared before her, rapidly decreasing in size as Nyx walked back to her throne.

"The twilight of life is often wasted on the youth, do you not agree Lady Khloe de la Sossian?" she stood only momentarily before engaging the deepest curtsy she'd ever given, her forehead almost touched the floor.

"Mistress Nyx!" she squealed with girl like exuberance. Khloe knew it was wrong, but she wanted to jump into Nyx's lap and get a hug. Impetuous, disrespectful, but classic Khloe.

Nyx smiled at Khloe. The copper comb had been given to her eldest daughter, fully recharged with a new soul to draw upon. That did not mean Khloe was wholly unprotected, rather the opposite. Nyx had plans for the young monkette. Yes she was effectively 30 years older now than she was before, not that time travelled the same in the plane of night as it did on the prime material, but look at her still the same young monk that had come up all those years ago, stood right there all those years ago, suffered torments all those years ago, and still today her brilliance of spirit could mute the colors of the brightest rainbow; especially at the kind word from her husband. Nyx smiled to herself, without her intervention the two would not have met, would not have created the children that now scampered across the planes, spreading the story of Nyx and her grandeur to all persons, building her worship base and bestowing increased power to her demesnes.

This was not the end of the story, but it is the end of this chapter. Khloe had more to do, more to say; Khloe would be called upon to save son and daughter, to restore twilight to the darkest paths and hope to the oldest of knights. Will she be up to the task?


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Fairy tales do not tell children that dragons exist.
Children already know that dragons exist!
Fairy tales tell children that dragons can be killed!

Last edited by Jennifer; Jul 22nd, 2022 at 02:31 PM.
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