DM When last we left our heroes, they were rushing towards the giant temples, hoping to prevent multiversal destruction from occurring with the strange version of Kael from a different reality. However, unlike the alternate realities visited previously by Kryss, this one seems to be quite a bit more serious. Will they make it to the church on time? Read on!
Shael Shael mutters to himself, “Atali, if you have any way to help us—you know I wouldn’t ask except like this.” as he rushes as quickly as he can.
Kryss Kryss hates to run, and is vocal about his disdain as the trio races down the street.
DM The diminutive lords rush to the temple area, entering in a hurry. The pillars of the temple soar skyward, easily several hundred feet.
DM Giants mill about the outer areas, performing ceremonies and conducting their business.
Julian “Excuse me!” Julian booms thaumaturgically.
Kryss Kryss flinches, already feeling like a mouse in the huge temple.
Julian “Can you help us keep someone from collapsing the multiversal fabric of reality?”
Kryss “Who do you think would be the best person to bother?” Kryss asks Shael.
DM A muscular (even for his race) uvar, barechested, clad only in a loincloth, turns to regard the newcomers.
DM Shael thinks it’s that guy.
DM As he moves away from the altar he was kneeling at, the lords note how softly he steps for a giant.
Shael Shael nods to the muscular uvar, “That’n.” he replies and hollars apologetically, with thaumaturgically enhanced pipes, “Terribly sorry, not a lot of time — there’s a dangerous planar incursion in the gardens and we didn’t want to act out of turn!”
DM “Calm yourselves, Little Men, this city is warded against planar intrusions. You walk in the temple of Mighten Joven, King of the Gods. What might I do to reassure you of your safety?”
Julian “Then something has broken the wards.”
Shael “Call Joven’s attention to the gardens — you will understand, then. Serra, my Goddess, says that all of creation is in jeopardy if we do not act quickly.” Shael replies, magically augmented again. “I understand that often, as we ourselves appear, our concerns may seem small to you… but…” he grumbles and thinks hard on how to explain, “…the… planar density of the incursor is geometrically greater than our world can contain.”
Shael “If I were to guess, I’d say he is expressed over infinite parallel worlds — I don’t know how else to explain it quickly.” he hollars a bit petulantly.
DM “A god of man wishes the giants to act quickly?” the giant priest asks, and his tone immediately brings back to mind the antipathy Atali had for the gods. It does not seem the Uvar are any more fond of human deities than the Hrimjot.
Shael Shael holds his hands up quickly and apologetically, “No, she asked for ME to act quickly in bringing you warning —”
Shael “— I am asking you to act quickly, for all our fates.” he adds, with a deepening frown.
Kryss Kryss watches the scene play out, wondering if a portal to some hell was already opening in the garden. “Can’t you just come to the garden and have a look around? There’s an unconscious giant there that may need attention if that makes it more worth the time.”
Kryss “Worst case scenario, you got to stretch your legs for a bit.”
DM “Well, Joven welcomes all unto his temple. If your need is great, please, take your sacrifice to my own altar. I will not let old grudges mar my own courtesy.”
Julian “What kind of sacrifice would be appropriate?”
DM “An ox, white of hide, is generally preferred,” the giant responds.
Kryss “Right, well that’s rather out of our price range,” Kryss replies, offended at the idea of paying someone to save their own reality.
DM “You are impatient to speak with Almighty Joven, and unprepared? I will obtain that which you need, should you ask it.”
Shael Shael doesn’t look thrilled to respond, “We would be indebted to you.”
Julian “Thank you, the need is grave and I will not forget your aid.”
Kryss “What?!” Kryss whispers.
Shael Shael says quietly to Kryss, “The other option is to start a divine war and the dead will pile up infinitely — we among the first. It’s our reality, too.”
DM “Come then, unto the altar.” The Uvar gestures, and two smaller giants begin leading a mighty albino ox, fifteen foot high at the shoulder with wide sweeping horns, towards them.
Shael Shael approaches with the others as requested.
DM The giant hands them his curved knife, hesitantly. He appears uncertain that they might wield it properly.
DM The seven foot long blade does seem a tad unwieldy in their hands, and the handle is as big around as Kryss’s chest.
Kryss Kryss approaches, arms folded crossly. “So kill the bull and you’ll help?”
Shael Shael considers the knife to check whether it is marked with runes that make it ceremonial; he draws Atraxia and forms it into a similar blade that fits his hand — “Will this be acceptable?”
DM The giant’s knife does have several runes along the blade, but the Uvar nods to Shael. “It is not I who must accept it.” To Kryss he explains. “You have come to seek the aid of the gods, unless I have misunderstood your concerns. I am not the one you are asking for help.”
Kryss Kryss looks to Shael. “We’re asking the aid of the gods,” he says pointedly.
DM Shael notes that when the giant refers to human gods, he uses a different term than when he refers to his own gods.
Shael He keeps the term in mind for his own use. Shael glances at Julian and Kryss before advancing on the aurox; he whispers to Atraxia, ‘Remember, this is for them not us—’ a bit nervously before making his attempt.
Shael Shael asks for the giant god’s guidance as he enacts the sacrifice.
DM The bull’s blood spills on the altar, and a blue bolt of lightning strikes down from the sky, exploding the sacrifice into flames. The smoke spills off the altar, enveloping the three lords. When the smoke clears, they find themselves looking down upon the city from miles above it. They are standing on a cloud. A rumble of thunder comes from behind them.
Kryss “We’re going to be late meeting the Storm Giant king…” Kryss laments.
DM “He will be more patient than I. Why have humans come to petition me?”
DM The thunder seems to have a voice.
Kryss “For power,” Kryss blurts before realizing it. He clamps his hands over his mouth embarrassed.
Shael Shael clears his throat and says stridently, “If you look into the gardens of the city, I think that you will see —” his mouth twists and he glances at Kryss and Julian for backup. “— we ask for your divine intervention in a matter beyond the mortals our side of The Veil.”
Kryss “Your great city below is in danger of some nature we don’t understand.”
Julian Julian explains about the strange interloper who seems more than a man.
DM “The Gardens of Fonmaro are not lightly trod upon, even by those of my stature,” the thunderous voice states. It belongs to a giant three times the height of the tallest Uvar. “You ask more than you know to request that I interfere here.”
DM He frowns at Julian’s description. “More than a man…?”
Kryss “Shael only asks that you check into this. He is concerned and when he is concerned its usually pretty bad.”
Julian “Fonmaro is also alarmed.” Julian supplies, having heard as much from Shael.
Shael Shael asks, “What is needed to intercede? Who must we petition?” he is getting frustrated, “I am sorry, I am not so used to following this divine chain of precedence — you are already the third deity I’ve asked in as many score of minutes.”
Kryss “Third?” Kryss asks Julian.
Shael Shael glances aside and asks, “I think Fonmaro counts?”
DM “Hold, Man, I said you ask much, and what you ask is of no trifling matter, not that I will not intercede. You stand before Joven, Gigasking, Dii Procellas Maximus.”
Kryss Kryss shrugs.
DM Joven’s eyes flash with electricity.
Kryss At Shael, not the giant god.
Shael Shael holds, and quiet still at the electric gaze.
DM “What you ask will cost much. But if what you say is true, inaction will cost more.”
Julian “And yes, I lay my life on it, he seemed more real than any of us. Even his whispers shook the grass. He trod through the ground and when he gripped at me, his fingers passed into me as if I were an image not of flesh and blood.”
DM “Then I will send the one among the Dii Procellas who might meet this threat, with strength of arm and keen mind.” The giant god sounds sad and resigned.
Shael “What’s wrong?” Shael asks, concerned enough to even take a step forward before he catches himself.
DM “My daughter has already given much to the world, and I must ask for her strength to be given once again, before she has fully recovered.”
Julian “Is it in our power to ease the task?”
Shael Shael frowns and asks, “Though I fear time is short; will you tell us what must be done? You are certain it is naught we can accomplish, given your blessing?”
Shael Shael clears his throat and glances at Julian with a blush as they nearly speak over the top of one another.
DM “You would aid a goddess? Knowing what it might cost her and you?”
Julian “I know neither, but all the same I would not shrink from where I might do good.”
Shael Shael considers Julian’s words and adds, “It’s our duty to aid the Pillars of Existence where we may; in this instance, it is not that we may – we must.”
DM “She arrives.” The giant goddess steps from a pillar of light, and takes a knee before her father. “What is thy will, my lord?”
DM Pallas Minerva stands forty feet tall. Her shield and sword are ready for battle, her helm held in her right arm.
DM A horrific scar runs along the left side of her face, and her hair on that side is white.
Julian Julian feels moved of a sudden to kneel as well, though he did not before.
DM The left eye stares sightlessly, surrounded by blistered skin.
Shael Shael frowns thoughtfully, his mind clearly working hard to try to determine how they could possibly be of help to a goddess.
DM “These three men have a task most dire. It shall claim what little recovery you have achieved thus far, but should you fail, the world itself will fall away. Will you go unto the Gardens of Fonmaro and cast out the danger therein?”
DM The goddess looks to the three men in turn. “This task demands a high price of me. It is worthy?”
Julian “You must judge, wise lady.” Julian tells her what he told her father.
Shael “Will you survive?” Shael demands, grimly.
DM “Even the very wise cannot see all ends,” she responds.
Shael Shael shakes his head, “No. Send me back…” he draws his katana, “…I’ll take care of it myself. Buried in Fonmaro’s Garden, he will nurture the world rather than destroying it.”
DM “If it is to be the twilight of Pallas Minerva, so be it. Fonmaro is potent and ancient beyond even divine reckoning, but that which you have encountered is beyond the force of mere nature.”
Kryss “Then a decision is made?”
DM “Indeed. Come, gird your loins, Lords of Men, and let us go confront that which invades our world.”
Kryss Kryss girds his loins well.
Julian Julian prepares himself.
Shael He frowns, options from ineffective to nuclear crossing his mind, “Will my magic work on you?” he asks — the only girding he needs is knowledge.
DM “Save your magic for repairing the damage this thing may have done to our world. Do not concern yourself with me, or we may trade harsh victory for easy failure.”
Shael Shael simply nods.
DM She salutes her father by drawing her blade, and light surrounds them all.
DM They step forth towards the garden, moving through what appears to be a pale gray tunnel. Mist envelops their feet, keeping that which they trod upon a mystery.
Julian Julian girds his comrades as well as himself as they approach.
Kryss “How does one become a god?” Kryss asks, nonchalantly. “Have you always been one?”
DM “I was born from the skull of my mighty father. I do not think of myself as goddess, but gigas.”
DM “I do not know how a dragon might become a god. I know of no such beings.”
Shael “Do you know Serra?” Shael wonders absently as they hurry along the path.
DM “I do,” she answers warily.
Julian Julian shoots Shael a warning look.
Shael With a sigh, he shrugs.
Julian However despite himself he cannot help going down a similar path. “Holy lady, you and Pala share a name, or almost.”
DM “Pala Athena.”
Julian He nods.
DM “Now that’s a name I haven’t heard in a very long time.”
Julian “When did you hear it last?”
DM “Before the gods betrayed the giants. When we stood as shieldsisters, against a foul entity that menaced the very world.”
Julian “Men have forgot the story.” he admits.
DM “The veiled masters unleashed their master weapon, bringing a stone enchanted with pure death, larger than a mountain range, down upon the world. It was Pala Athena and myself who shattered the stone, unweaving as many of its deadly enchantments as we were able.”
DM “The deed cost us much. Me, my immortality, my health, my power. Her…her life.”
DM “She was once the greatest weaver in all the cosmos, but she was trapped in the threads of a death everlasting. She took them with her.”
Julian “I hold myself to be in her debt and I shall try to be a shield comrade to you in her place, as far as I may.”
Julian “But where was Tal when these things came to pass?”
Shael Shael glances aside at Julian wryly.
Julian Yes, Julian’s look admits, he fell prey to exactly the same temptation.
DM “Azlantis,” she responds, his question restoring her wary tone.
Julian “I am sorry, holy lady, I hear from your voice it was not a wise question. I know little of what I ask.”
Julian “The tale of the stone of death is not the only one that men forgot, nine parts of our lore have gone in the War, and the tenth been scattered.”
DM “It is not for one to reveal the secrets of another. The story of Pala Athena’s death is my story as well, but I have little to do with Talion.”
Julian “Then I will ask no more.”
DM “Nor Pala’s handmaiden. The gods betrayed the giants, and a rift was formed between our kind. I shall not be the one who widens it.”
Shael Shael smiles vaguely, “Yes, m’Lady.” he agrees.
Shael “I know they don’t want the rift to deepen either.” he speaks from firsthand knowledge.
Shael “Or, at least, she doesn’t.” he shrugs.
DM “Indeed, it would be most difficult for her to do any more to expand the rift further. But prepare yourselves, we have arrived.” The quartet steps out into the garden, it seems as though mere moments have passed since they left it for the temple.
DM Kael stands up, his piercing gaze upon Pallas Minerva.
DM Kael moves, a blur of speed, towards the giant. “I can see you!” he exclaims, although no mortal can make out those words, it coming simply as a massive drone of noise.
DM Kael has the same expression at Pallas Minerva as he did towards Julian right after the lord of Dragonfyre had wished.
DM Pallas Minerva’s blade smashes into the human…and shatters with the impact. Kael howls in hunger and reaches for her throat, the shards of the god weapon sticking in him, his purple blood flowing out onto the ground.
Shael “Purple?” Shael regards the blood with surprise, but interposes himself between Pallas and Kael; thankful that the giantess is large enough to leave space for him to fight between them.
DM The commoner’s flesh accepts a blow of might and magic that would kill an ogre twice over and seems only to suffer minor frostbite.
DM He lashes back at Shael.
DM His hand smashes through magical defenses like they were not present.
Shael Shael, still hurt from the earlier attack, bares the attack with gritted teeth.
Shael “I’m sorry.” he says.
Julian Kryss leaps to his companion’s defense.
Julian Shatterspike spins into the assailant.
DM The whirling axe bites into the man, roughly an inch deep with the direct blow to his chest. He looks down at the blood with surprise.
Julian Julian comes in from the other side and tries to seize the man.
DM It’s like trying to grab hold of a falling anvil, but Julian manages to do it. He locks the man in a grip of steel.
DM Pallas Minerva’s hand grabs them both, as the clouds grow dark and flash with lightning.
DM From his vantage point, Julian can see the contact between Kael and Pallas is burning away her flesh.
DM “Shove him through,” she gasps, opening a swirling gate to a black void. “And close…it…”
Julian “Hnnngh!” Julian’s own feet sink deep into the earth, though with strain and effort, not metaphysical weight.
DM The man’s grip upon the giant goddess is insanely hard to pry free.
DM As though he had more than just her physical shell in hand.
Shael Shael begins gathering the tendrils of magic outlining the portal and wrapping them into a delicate pattern ready to collapse; as soon as Kael is through it shutters.
Shael “LET GO, WE ARE SENDING YOU BACK!” he commands, still enchanted by Julian’s wish.
Julian Every muscle in his body strains as he lowers his head and bulls towards the portal.
DM Kael’s eyes roll back in his head, and that head lolls to the side, blood running from his mouth. Julian shoves him through the portal as Shael closes it. The uber-Kael is gone.
Shael Shael turns his attention immediately to the Palla, but just as quickly he turns away to heed her wishes from earlier and turn his attention to the garden to begin repairs.
Julian Carried by suddenly unresisted momentum Julian crashes to the ground and picks himself up slowly. “Ugh…”
Julian He picks himself up rubbing dirt from his eyes. “Shael, are you all right? Gracious lady? I saw…” he hesitates.
DM The gigas’s chest is heaving, her wounds less physical and more from expended effort upon the paragon. “It…is…done?”
Julian Kryss wanders over to check on the old gardener.
Julian The dragon warrior certainly seems to think it is done.
Shael The first target of Shael’s attention is an almost casual spell of healing upon the gardener, of course.
Julian “I… think so?” Julian responds.
DM Vitis groans as Shael’s spell restores him to consciousness. “What…happened?” he asks groggily.
Julian “We saved the multiverse, apparently.” Kryss informs him.
DM Minerva smiles wanly. “Good.” Her eyes flutter closed.
DM Shael feels Fonmaro’s hungry response to the dying goddess.
Shael At the pang of sympathy hunger, Shael sighs deeply. He looks aside at the Goddess once more and, even against her wishes, moves to her side and begins to evaluate her.
DM She seems not long for this world, their options are more to influence how she will leave it. Her giant body is too weak, her divine essence too faded to pull through. Fonmaro hungers for that potent essence, even as it hungered for Kael’s. They could allow her to be so consumed, no doubt the price both her and her father knew might be paid for setting foot in the garden. Or, they might draw part of her out, that she would live on, at least for a short time, in a different form.
Julian Julian lends aid from the lore of cav… bards past, long lost secrets of the healer’s art and wholesome charms.
Shael Shael looks up to see Julian’s opinion, but discerns it before the paladin has a chance to speak. He nods and gets to work.
Shael He begins by compressing her mass, channeling his power through the Staff of Khazan.
DM A smaller, human sized Pallas stands up, leaving her giant form lying on the ground. “What just happened?” she asks.
DM Vines spring up, wrapping that giant mass beneath the green, drawing it down into the earth.
Shael Shael leans forward and peers at her closely, “Hmm.” he glances at Julian, “Could you take a closer look?” he wanders over to pat one of the trees and murmur apologetic rustling noises.
Shael “I’m asking you to check whether it was.” he replies grimly, between cooing appreciative rustling noises at some new growth.
Julian Julian checks.
DM Minerva is very mortal.
Julian Julian explains what just happened. More or less.
Shael “Well?” Shael asks, still not certain himself whether she is mortal yet.
Shael Julian’s explanation presumably includes the information that he discovered about her mortality so Shael adds, “I did as you asked; we’ve seen to the Garden… but, Julian saw no reason not to do a little extra. If anyone asked me, I think you deserve a life not bound to the fate of all… a life you can live for yourself as you choose.” he frowns and glances over to see her reaction, “Of course, you are no longer a goddess so you’ll have to accept that judgement… one of the drawbacks, I’m afraid.” he smiles with wan bemusement.
DM "…no “longer” a goddess?" she asks. “What on earth are you talking about?” She runs her hand through her hair, glancing down at her lack of clothing or weapons. “Might I have a cloak?”
Julian “Oh… yes, of course.”
Julian Julian finds a cloak somewhere.
Julian “Let’s, well… talk.”
DM “Let us go from this place, if you don’t mind…it feels…creepy.”
Shael Shael smiles sadly, “Not every day things work out quite so well.” at Minerva’s request he tips his hat (he doesn’t have a hat) to Vitis and says, “Grow hale and strong, Fonmaro. I’ll see you again some day.” before escorting the group from the garden.
DM Banished the threat and…well, if not saved, then changed a gigas, not bad in a day’s work! And the day is not yet over. We’ve still got a meeting with the Paramount ahead of us. What surprises lie in store? Join us next week!
DM After the hectic rush through the city to deal with the surprise in the garden, things calm down, as much as they can be calm in a massive Uvar city. The soaring architecture and scale of the buildings here dwarfs that of any human settlement, but it does constantly hold a familiar feel to the lords, and it is Kryss who notes it first. The city seems to be influenced strongly by Azlanti designs. Where many of the Azlanti ruins boasted a simple elegance, the Uvar’s designs are far more ornate and invoking of grandeur. The bases and capitals of their columns are finely engraved, with sculptures of fantastic beasts and giants engaged in battles, conquests and partnerships displayed for those who look closely. However, the Uvar seem to build more with a composite stone mixture and metal, while the Azlanti utilized crystal, marble and glass.
DM The city also appears to be highly militarized. Though its citizens do not go about armored, many of them wear weapons, whether they are Uvar, Skye, or one of the smaller races that walk the streets.