Part 74: Fate

8 to Wakening Sun, Inalis, 43 days remaining

Okay, we are resting for the night now. I’ve a chance to finish writing up everything we discussed with the Scaled Book of the Dead. Here’s another recap:

  • The Endless Archive, Vanadon’s enormous collection of research and information, is apparently safe from the Twin Titans. Vanadon hid it away, so we don’t have to worry about them messing with this place.
  • Torag asked if Jadaferlas, the green dragon that slew his mother, had any special weaknesses. Her weakness is apparently a weapon that has yet to be created. Torag surmises that this is the special weapon he needs Azorius to forge for him, but we lack the gold to craft it.
  • Acastus’s dragon and his “dragonlords”‘s dragons were magically aged due to the meddling of the Fates. Destroying the Fates and these dragons will thin Amalj’aa’s numbers. Vanadon suggested visiting Indigo Island at some point.
  • We learned (sort of…) the location of more dragon eggs, and now we have tasks on the Garden of Helios, the Island of Time, and here on the Isle of the Fates.
  • The Lotus Witch on Scorpion Island is a she-sphinx (whatever that is) and is apparently not from the Emerald Isles. Just like me!
  • We need to stop the rituals on Fire Island to release Rzhal in order to release him. We haven’t been to Fire Island in over a week now, so Rzhal should have already been released due to cessation of the ritual, but that clearly hasn’t happened yet. Someone there is still performing it.
  • Sokrates has joined our crew! But only on one condition: there is a tome of forbidden knowledge in the Maw of Havaral and Vanadon-Necroth wants it for his collection. So now, Sokrates is in the form of a tiny little book and will take shape again on our ship.

Oh, yes! I had nearly forgotten one of the most important things!

Rendu seemed quiet and distant during all of this. I think he wanted to know how to slay Estor Arkelander. Briar understood him somehow and asked how it can be done. We wish to rid the world of his evil and malignant influence, but Khar’shan’s curse on him is keeping him tethered to the Gjallarhorn. But, according to the Book, that curse can only be broken in one of two ways. The first is to simply ask the Lady of Dreams to dispel it. Heh, I find it quite hilarious to approach the situation.

Us: “Good evening, Khar’shan! How are you feeling today?”
Khar’shan: “Oh, my. Quite evil, actually. I’m feeling very evil today! I’m eating baby squirrels for lunch today. Would you care for one?”
Us: “No, thank you. We had a question for you. A favor really.”
Khar’shan: “You mortals and fey are so silly. Of course! What do you need?”
Us: “Estor Arkelander is on our ship, haunting the captain’s quarters. And he won’t go away. Actaeon here (point at Actaeon) says he watches while Actaeon and Versi sleep together, and it’s very off-putting because neither he nor Versi consented to that sort of thing.”
Khar’shan: “Without consent? What a creeper.”
Us: “Right? What a creeper indeed!”
Khar’shan: “Well, someone ought to do something about that.”
Us: “Would you mind terribly if you removed his curse so he can pass on?”
Khar’shan: “Not a problem. Watching people when they’re doing bedroom activities is very rude. I’ll remove his curse at once!”
Us: “Thanks Khar’shan!”
Khar’shan: “You’re quite welcome”

No, that won’t work at all. The other way is to strike Arkelander with a special dagger, one of his own possession long ago. It must be magical in some way, and is one of the fabled treasures of the old dragonlords. Arkelander gave it to Luis Dante, the missing dragonlord of old, to hide in the Nether Sea, but Dante never returned, nor did his dragon. When we sail to the Nether Sea to confront Khar’shan, we will find that dagger and end Arkelander’s miserable existence. And just like that, Xerender’s average evilness will be lowered by a grand scale.

Something just occurred to me. A few weeks ago, I spoke to Arkelandor about finding the treasures. They are, after all, part of the prophesy. It is my fate to find these treasures and use them against the titans. But Arkelander wanted me to swear an oath to him that I would deliver one item from the treasures to him once we got them. I’m willing to bet that he intended to recover this dagger. Without it, we would have no way of breaking his curse and getting rid of him. I thank the Morninglord, or Kiora, or whoever was watching out for me that day that I divined his intentions and refused the oath.

After this, we took our leave of Vanadon-Necroth and began making ourselves comfortable to rest for the night. I started with a message to Rhea, telling her we were going to take down the Fates and needed her help. She replied that she was actually already here! But the Fates had her in irons. She relayed some information to us (specifically that the Fates had four manticores with them). We needed to act fast or they might kill her! Clio used our sending stone to tell Actaeon to turn the ship around and come back to the Isle of the Fates as quickly as he could. His response was just “okay”, and for a moment I thought he didn’t realize he could respond with more verbiage. I messaged him explaining this, and he replied, “Oh.” I feel like he was messing with me.

Our new plan is this: we’re going to not skip ahead any time here with the Scaled Book of the Dead and instead meet Actaeon when he returns. We’ll go into the cave and defeat the Fates and set up Clio, Versi, and Rhea as the new Fates! They will bring justice and peace to the Emerald Isles!

I also sent a message to Damon, my great-great-great-et cetera-grandfather and asked him to join me for tea. He didn’t respond. I’ll ask again later.

I’m starting to feel the pressure, Heath. Pressure from doing all of this, being a hero, being brave. When the Great Games began, I told Clio I wasn’t afraid anymore. I think I’ve been true to my word, though, but tonight I had another nightmare. This time, everyone was dead but me, and I just heard that cackling voice of Khar’shan in my head again. I woke up with a start and immediately pulled out a wand to fight, but we were all peacefully sleeping in the Archive. They all look so peaceful when they’re resting. Does Clio know she snores a little bit?

No, wait, that’s not Clio. That’s Rendu snoring. Awww, it’s kind of cute!

I wonder, what would we all be doing if there was no threat of war? Actaeon would be peacefully living out his days with the Oracle in her temple. How peaceful would that be, though? He doesn’t strike me as someone who likes to sit around and eat grapes. He’d probably be doing pushups and the Oracle would be watching, or something weird like that.

I bet Father would come home after a long day of work and little Rare would run up to him and hug him. Maybe River would say something to him, like “I’m glad you’re home, snookums, but you really shouldn’t work so late!” and give him a big kiss. And yes, I imagine she calls him some cute pet name like snookums. Shadow looks like a snookums.

Rendu and Torag would have met up at some point and would have instantly become best friends. So I guess that’s not so different from today. Rendu would play in the taverns, and maybe Torag would be his bodyguard in exchange for beer.

Clio would certainly be with her pod, and they’d be happily frolicking between the trees of the jungles, limitless in their mirth, taking pleasure in one another, and watching the stars together every day. I can only imagine how lovely that was.

Briar would be in the Wyldwood again with Herkus, that silly old gnome. He smells of mushrooms, but Briar would love it. Their druid circle would be beautiful to see in person, I think. But I have a hard time imagining Briar’s hair all long and tangly again. She looks better with it cut now.

Instead, we’re trying to rest, getting ready to kill the Fates tomorrow, stuck in a conflict that will soon erupt into an all-out war against tyrant gods. What will we do once it’s over? What does fate have in store for us in the future? I’m trying to be positive here, hoping beyond hope that we survive. Will Actaeon go back to the temple with Versi? No, that won’t do. He’d probably sail around the Emerald Isles with Malkarion at his side, fighting any monsters or creatures that would do us harm. Father will reunite with his family, and maybe they’d have a second child? Oh, wait, I think he adopted me, so I’m the second child now. Rendu and Torag will have to go on a music performance / drinking tour. I believe Clio and Briar will start their own pod and tribe together, and I hope they’ll let me join them! Frolicking in the fields and jungles of the Wyldwood with my two favorite people sounds delightful. I’m smiling as I write this!

I better go back to sleep, though.

I usually write the date here, but Vanadon-Necroth says it’s still the same day in the outside world. Eight to Wakening Sun!

The Scaled Book of the Dead bade us farewell and we ascended the stairs of the Endless Archive once again, and we soon found ourselves back outside on the rocks of the dismal Isle of the Fates. Actaeon and Malkarion were here now, having arrived hours ago. It seems our time in the Archive took us a whole day, but mere hours out here. We quickly made our prep and began heading towards the cave of the Fates. Corinna and Ilharg came with us this time, while Sel-Makor was left in charge of protecting the Gjallarhorn.

A lampad nymph whom Clio recognized as her sister Kyra met us and brought us inside. Khar’shan got to Kyra, too. No matter, we’ll free her. She seems different than the others we fought before; more gentle and quiet. Anyway, we found ourselves inside a cave with a revolting smell and piles of garbage, filthy linen, and rotting meat. In the center of the room was a large loom seemingly made of bones, and it was being used by two hideous women: the hags. The third hag approached us and taunted us about our arrival.

These hags, the Fates, knew of our arrival – as seen on the tapestry that the loom was weaving right now – and wished to negotiate knowledge for a favor. They warned us, however, that those that do not keep up their end of the bargain end up finding themselves in a “different state”. The hag leader, Granny Morta, indicated to a medusa and a lamia. We could easily guess that the Fates turned people into monsters as punishment.

It begged the question: what favors did the Fates require in exchange for their knowledge? They gave us an example with Clio. Clio needs to make something to protect herself from Khar’shan with the loom, and the Fates will happily craft it for her if we do one of three things: we can bring a baby to the Fates (presumably to eat), we can bring a young nymph here (presumably to corrupt), or we can kill the Oracle (presumably to eliminate competition).

We instead opted for a different negotiation tactic: make Clio’s item, or perish.

The Fates merely cackled and countered a fireball I sent at them, and we began a fight. Not a surprising turn of events, mind you, but I was a little surprised they could suppress my magical abilities. Clio’s too, actually! They blocked her magic as well. The Fates called in their manticores (six, not the four that Rhea had warned us of), and Malkarion and Zirconis had to flee. Briar charmed a giant scorpion that was rushing at us, and kept that at bay while summoning a large sabre-toothed tiger to assist. Actaeon and Torag rushed at one of the Fates, attacking relentlessly until she fell dead at their feet. Shadow and Ilharg, together, slew one of the manticore alphas, and Corinna hid herself to follow Kyra. Kyra, I should mention, cast some strange spell on Clio before running away.

But Rendu… How could we let this happen? As one of the Fates fell dead, the others began chanting. A burst of fire erupted around Rendu and then he vanished. What happened to Rendu?