Part 82: Challenge

2 to Wakening Sun, Inalis, 37 days remain

This morning, our group decided that we were going to challenge Gishath on the cliffs. It makes sense because the jungle would mean we would have trouble seeing through the trees. The swamp sounds like a good place for us to just get stuck up to our knees in murky swamp water. And none of us think the Sun’s Avatar would even bother with a fair fight on the beach. We felt that the cliffs would be the best chance we had of fighting him, knowing that Gishath would tip the scales in his favor by adding various smaller Sun’s Avatars to his team.

Kano had a spell to get most of us up to the cliffs. He can cast some kind of enchantment that turns a person into a smokey wind that can move really fast. The idea is to get to the cliffs as quick as we can. We want to set up the terrain in whatever way can be advantageous to us. I say most of us because Kano ran out of magic before all of us could be affected. It left Briar and myself and our dragons without the enchantment. But even that was precisely calculated beforehand! Here’s why:

We think Gishath’s power to see everything is based on them being physically connected to the Golden Heart. In other words, when you step foot on the island, his “eyes” can find you. But Briar was safe last night when she went scouting as a flying dinosaur! It wasn’t until she landed on a treetop to get a better view when Gishath finally saw her. Which meant that when we got off the Gjallarhorn and stepped onto the beach, the hunt would begin.

Our way around that is to simply not touch the ground! Gishath would have to wait until he physically saw us (or one of his avatars did) before he could give chase. Since I have flying boots and Briar has wings, we thought to fly to the cliffs! Dromoka, Ysgramor, Zirconis, and Malkarion flew with us while everyone else turned into smoke and flew up to the cliffs.

Oh, I should mention that Sel-Makor, Pholon, Nikya, and Ilharg came with us, too. We wanted as much muscle as we could get. And Sel-Makor insisted on coming with us anyway. I think he was getting bored on the ship all by himself. Ilos, Malikos, and Xoti are in charge of making sure the crew is safe on the Gjallarhorn while we’re away. Nessa offered to come with us, but I was sore afraid of her getting hurt. I mean, I’m afraid of any of my friends getting hurt. I’m not playing favorites or anyting, but Nessa isn’t wearing clothes. No, Nessa, your naked centaur ass is staying safely on the Gjallarhorn!

While flying with our baby dragons, Briar and I spied movement in the jungle below us. It could only be Gishath, the way the trees were being basically shoved out of the way. Gishath was moving fast, too, but we could see trees swaying behind him. He was bringing smaller Sun’s Avatars, probably not unlike the others we’ve encountered already. We had to be fast.

The cliffs were perfect, and by the time Briar and I arrived with the dragons, the others had already begun setting things up. Shadow, Pholon, and Ilharg set up a kind of rock trap to drop onto our enemies. They took their positions, Shadow alongside Clio at the top of the cliffside. Briar called out her snake Hiss and a hawk familiar. Actaeon and Sel-Makor were toward the center of our area, watching each others’ backs. Torag… well, I don’t actually know where Torag went! He tried to hide so he could get the jump on the enemy. Apparently he’s pretty good at hiding, though, because I’ve no idea where he disappeared to. Briar and I had our traps set, too! I created a few magic circles meant to ensnare celestials – that’s what the Sun’s Avatars are. Briar turned an area of rocks into sticky mud. We were as ready as we were going to be, so Briar and I stayed close to Rendu. And we waited.

Not even a full hour passed before we all heard a booming voice in our heads. “Sneaking about like ants on my isle. Foolish! My eyes see all. I have seen your preparations. I have smelled your allies. Very well. We shall play your game. Will you be those that finally defeat me, or will you simply feed me further?” And with that, a monstrous beast came around the corner, charging full-speed towards us.

Gishath is huge! Far larger than I think anyone could describe. I think his weight alone would sink the Gjallarhorn, magical though the ship may be. He could easily swallow any of us in one gulp. Which he later did, but I’m getting ahead of myself. Suffice it to say, Gishath could tear down a house probably with a single swipe of his tail.

And we beat him!

Hah! I’ll admit, it didn’t go as smoothly as we would have liked, though. The battle has left each of us with some new scars. Or in my case, missing eyebrows. My first thought when I saw him was to put up a barrier of magic around me just in case. I have plenty of magic to defend me from attacks now, but seeing the sword-length teeth in the Sun’s Avatar’s mouth, I felt much safer staying in the background here.

Clio began with a speed spell on Father, and he started firing a volley of arrows into Gishath. Actaeon threw Wuuthrad a few times. And as we got ready to see what Gishath would do next, he simply roared. Ear-splittingly loud, I might add! From behind us at our flank, a Verdant Sun’s Avatar charged. It fortunately ended up getting caught in my magic circle and was unable to move. Torag charged it to keep it distracted with Nikya, Ilharg, and Pholon helping. I also had Razorclaw out here with us, and I am quite proud of him! While he eventually retreated to the soulstone from his injuries (don’t worry, Heath, he’s completely fine!), he managed to pin down that Verdant Sun’s Avatar long enough for the others to slay him. I stuck with Rendu and moved forward with him as he hurled Razor of Lament into the Sun’s Avatar, striking him with holy magic.

Gishath charged through the mud, barely slowed down at all. He met with Actaeon and Sel-Makor immediately and roared before biting down on Actaeon. But when he raised his head back up, Actaeon just… I mean… He kinda just swallowed Actaeon. We panicked briefly, but only briefly! Why, you ask? Because Gishath vomited Actaeon back out almost immediately. There might have been a lot of reasons for this. To be fair to Gishath’s throat, Actaeon is covered in armor and is carrying an army’s arsenal of weaponry on him. It must have been painful. In addition to that, Briar, Clio, and I all threw a lot of magic – reactionary as it were – at Gishath to get Actaeon back to us. It worked, though! Actaeon looked… well, he looked sick to his stomach. He was just inside the stomach of something else, so I get it.

Our dragons, perhaps, were a tipping point in this fight. All of them breathed their dragon breath attacks, and it was wonderful! They’re so young but they’re already so strong! It’s a little frightening.

Gishath was greatly injured after just a short time, but the battle changed dramatically when he very suddenly sprouted wings from his back. They created a hurricane of gusts as he attempted to fly into the air. As he did, though, Hiss wrapped around him to pin him down. Sadly, Hiss perished as he did this, though. Gishath bit into him and threw him aside. The python staff that Hiss comes from shattered when Hiss died. Briar cried out loudest of all of us, but we all felt the pangs of loss in an instant. And it fired us up against the Sun’s Avatar.

More avatars joined the fray, but they fell victim to my magic circles on the west or they got stuck in Briar’s mud spell on the east. It kept Gishath alone, something he didn’t foresee when he accepted our challenge. He tried to swallow Actaeon again, but our attacks caused him to vomit Actaeon back out immediately. Actaeon later told me that he could hear us from inside the Sun’s Avatar. We must have been crying out when it happened again. Gishath tried breathing white-light magic onto us a few times. But when he was about to do it again to me and Rendu, Shadow fired a final shot. The arrow struck the runic symbol in Gishath’s chest, and a burst of searing magic exploded.

Rendu saved me by jumping on me with his shield, but we both got scalded pretty bad. Torag and Actaeon, too. But we weren’t finished yet! The other avatars that Gishath had called upon needed to be dealt with. I didn’t do much with that, though. I was quite winded. Actaeon was briefly unconscious before Rendu healed him. All I heard him say was, “Rendu, lay your hands on me” – something that was a little saucier than I think he intended – and Actaeon got back up.

Ahh, I’m so exhausted now. The others have dealt with the other avatars. I suspect Briar and Father are going to harvest parts from them so we can ask Azorius to create some stuff for us again. We’ve all taken a bit of injury this time, except Briar. Though her injury is more internal. She’s just clutching the shards of her python staff. Poor Briar! And poor Hiss! I know he was just a magical spirit, but he and Briar had such an adorable and real connection.

We’re going to lose people in this war. It’s war, after all. But it hurts, Heath. Gods, it hurts.

Okay, back to happier or sillier things! Actaeon got eaten! I can’t wait to see the Oracle’s face when we tell him that. I’ll give Dia a full report back on the Gjallarhorn, and I’ll scold Nessa once again for wanting to go places when she doesn’t have any armor – let alone clothing! You know what? When we’re done here, I’ll make her some clothes.

But first, I need a nap. I wonder if the others would mind if I took a quick power nap while they’re busy…