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Silver Wolf: Chapter II

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By StarSword-C   |   Watch
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Published: May 9, 2009

Chapter II:  Never Trust a Lich



Calim Desert, near Calimport
Calimshan
Kythorn 2, Year of the Bent Blade, 1376 DR

Well over a year had passed since Kaelyn the Dove had learned that Zulkir Szass Tam had effectively declared war on not just Kalir Patten the Wolf, her dearest friend, but also on her entire order.  The half-celestial sighed as she and her brothers walked through the desert near Calimport, their wings held out a short ways to keep cool.  I would dearly love to aid her, but the Wall of the Faithless is a far greater injustice than any on this plane.

For centuries now, mortals who paid homage to no deity had been doomed to become part of the great wall protecting the City of Judgment.  Their very souls were gradually and painfully consumed by the the artifact left behind by Myrkul, the god of the dead slain by the wizard Midnight under the dying goddess Mystra’s direction in the Time of Troubles.  Myrkul’s soul had been laid to rest by Kalir using the Lord of Bones’ own Spirit-eater curse, but his greatest legacy, the Wall of the Faithless, remained.

Three times, mortal heroes had led great crusades to destroy the Wall.  The first, ages ago, had been Akachi the Betrayer, formerly the Chosen of Myrkul himself.  To rescue his Red Wizard lover from the Wall—a lover who was, incidentally, Safiya’s direct ancestor—he had forged alliances with the fallen solar Zoab, the blue dragon Sey’ryu, and the demilich Rammaq, and marched on the Fugue Plane.  Myrkul’s wrath at his Chosen’s betrayal shook the Realms; he demolished Akachi’s army and put the Betrayer into the Wall to remove his very identity.  Then he removed the mostly eaten Akachi, creating the Spirit-eater, a terrible curse of insatiable elemental hunger which he released onto the Prime as a warning (and, as Kalir and friends deduced in the Year of Lightning Storms, a contingency plan worthy of a holy strategist).  Those taken by the curse were forced to consume souls and spirits, or be consumed themselves.  They were dubbed Spirit-eaters after their curse.

The Second Crusade, led by Kaelyn herself, was over almost before it began. Though they called Celestia and the House of the Triad home, her immortal ancestors served Kelemvor now.  The mortal hero Kelemvor Lyonsbane had taken the portfolio of stewardship of the dead from his former adventuring companion Cyric (now the greater god called the Dark Sun and the Prince of Lies), who had in turn absorbed it from Myrkul following the latter’s death at the hand of the third companion, Midnight, who became the third goddess of magic, Mystra II.  But Kaelyn was half-human, and loathed the fact that her god, while more merciful than Myrkul or Cyric, and striving to teach that death was not something to fear, had left the Wall of the Faithless intact, a fate out of proportion to its victims’ crime.  She converted to the worship of Ilmater, god of mercy, and tried to lead angels and Celistian aasimar on a crusade, but had not the leadership skill—nor, more importantly, the firepower—to follow in Akachi’s footsteps.  Instead, she was banished from Celestia to the Prime, and one of her brothers was executed.

It took the intervention of a heroine from the Sword Coast to bring about a victorious crusade.  Two years ago, the seventeen-year-old Kalir Patten had been teleported from the collapsing fortress of the King of Shadows all the way to southern Rashemen, where the white mage Lienna had surgically removed the last shard of the Sword of Gith from her chest.  Kalir was placed in the ancient barrow of the bear-god Okku, where one of the Spirit-eaters, an elderly vremyonni, had managed to trap the curse with runed totems, bravely dying in agony to spare Rashemen from Myrkul’s legacy.  Kalir was struck with the curse, but through strength of character and the aid of new friends like Safiya, Kaelyn, Gann, and Okku, she conquered the curse and learned to slay undead with it, and restore life to the dying.  With the fully restored Silver Sword of Gith in hand, she led the celestials of Zoab, Sey’ryu’s dragonkin, Rammaq’s undead minions, and Ammon Jerro’s fiendish servants to a resounding victory over Kelemvor’s forces.  She then restored Akachi’s true name to him and ended the curse once and for all.

But even Kalir had not had the strength to bring down the Wall.  And so Kaelyn the Dove now prepared for a fourth and final crusade, along with her siblings.  Collectively they called themselves the Menagerie, as each had taken as a moniker the name of an animal that matched their personality:  Kaelyn the Dove, a kind dreamer, and spiritual leader; Efrem and Susah the Stags; Kina the Lion, the eldest and strongest (not to mention loudest); and two others.  Kalir Patten, the final member of the Menagerie, had taken the moniker “Wolf”, partly in memory of the wolf-god Nakata she had accidentally eaten while cursed.

So far they had gathered  a large number of allies, mainly due to Kalir’s victory, but they would need many more to bring down the Wall.  And so Kaelyn had struck a bargain with Akachi’s and Kalir’s ally Rammaq.

A tap on her shoulder from Efrem awoke her from her reverie.  “Kaelyn, we’ve been waiting here for hours.  Are you sure Rammaq is even coming?  That he’ll aid us?”

“He fought alongside Kalir, and Akachi before her,” she replied.”

“Only for personal gain—he wants to be a god,” Kina argued.  “I cannot trust a lich, and that goes double for a demilich.  And Kalir only managed to get him one of the two books he wanted from Kelemvor’s libraries, if you recall.”

Kaelyn started to reply, but then she sensed a disturbance in the planar fabric nearby.  Being a half-celestial from the serene House of the Triad, she was naturally attuned to the planes and disturbances thereof.  “Something’s wrong,” she reported.  “I sense a great and imminent evil nearby.  A very old evil.”

Efrem said, “Probably just Rammaq.”

“No,” Kina disagreed, unsheathing the two-handed sword slung on his back, between his wings.  “I smell an ambush.  Grandfather always said, ‘Never trust those who would be gods.’”

“But—” Kaelyn began to protest, when an earsplitting shriek ripped through the air and stole anything she could have said.  A dog-sized, bat-winged creature dropped out of the sky—

And fell in two pieces at Kina’s feet.  “Bat?” Efrem wondered as Kina wiped gore off his sword.

Then the creature twitched and disappeared into wisps of dark smoke.  “Quasit!” Kina said, scanning the sky for more.  “Draw your weapons!  It’s a trap!  Tanar’ri are coming!”

Then a gash opened in the air, releasing a blast of heat felt even in the desert, and a twelve-foot, flame-wreathed, bat-winged humanoid stepped through.  “What the—”

That was all Kaelyn got out before the balor let out a booming laugh and stopped bare-handed an overhead slash from Kina that would have bisected a dragon’s skull.  Then it tore the greatsword from the half-celestial’s hand, snapped it like a twig, and said, “You’ll need more than cold iron to fight me, fool.”

Kaelyn barely had time to register that the balor had spoken in the Celestial tongue before the gash in space opened wider and disgorged a horde of demons!  Over the din of shrieking succubi and mariliths she heard the balor command, “Leave the female!  Take the males alive!”

The next few minutes were a blur of screams and clashing steel; the last thing Kaelyn remembered was channeling a bolt of divine flames through her holy symbol, when a quasit collided with the side of her head—



Kaelyn awoke and started to stand, then a wave of nausea struck her back to the ground, stars wheeling in her vision.  She rolled over.  The sky was much darker, the air much cooler; evidently she’d been unconscious for hours.

“What a mess we got ourselves into, eh, Efrem?” she said.

Only the wind answered.

“Efrem?” she said louder.  No response.  She carefully sat up and looked around.  Kina’s broken sword lay near a great scorch mark on the sand, feathers and blood were everywhere, but of her brothers there was no sign.  “This isn’t funny,” she said.  “Brothers, come out.  I’m afraid.”

“And rightly so,” came a rattling voice that nevertheless reverberated across the sand.  A puff of smoke, and a man-sized floating skull with crystals for eyes and teeth materialized.  “Little Dove, so naïve.  Sitting on the sand, refusing to believe.”  Rammaq laughed at his little joke.

“Rammaq?  What happened?”

“I simply paid you back in full for your companion’s betrayal two years ago.  She said she’d help me, but she only found one of the books.”

“Kalir?”

“Yes, the aasimar Spirit-eater, Akachi’s replacement.  Instead of helping me, she chose to aid Sey’ryu in holding the gate.”

“Even a paladin can only be in one place at a time, and she thought it more important to prevent Kelemvor from calling in reinforcements.”

“Heh.  She disliked me, that’s all.”

“You see a conspiracy where none exists, Rammaq.”

“I see we’ll need to agree to disagree here.  But I have been well compensated for my services in halting your little Fourth Crusade.”

“By Kelemvor?  He wouldn’t—he hates the undead.  And he said he would pass no judgment on Kalir, either.”

“Correct.  But everyone has enemies, particularly the gods.  Kelemvor is hated most by the one whose plots he foils the most.”

“Velsharoon?”

“Cyric.  You have been led into a trap, little idealistic songbird.  Now your family is in the Abyss, to be tormented for all eternity.  Gah ha hah!”  A tearful Kaelyn grabbed her mace and charged, but the demilich disappeared before she reached him.  His voice sounded in her mind, I wonder what the little Wolf will think of you now, failure.

Kaelyn fell to her knees, weeping.  I can’t win, not against Myrkul, not against Kelemvor, not even against Rammaq.  She reached to her throat and tore off her holy symbol, cast it to the sand, grabbed piles of soot and rubbed it into her feathers.  I vow I shall never speak again, lest my voice lead others.

A broken woman, Kaelyn the Dove began the long journey back home to Celestia.



To be continued...

Chapter II: Never Trust a Lich

The plot for this chapter was more or less borrowed directly from one of the endings of Mask of the Betrayer:

SPOILER ALERT!!!

If the player ends the curse, Kaelyn is present at the finale, the player did not betray the crusade, and Rammaq lives: Kaelyn's resolve and confidence were strengthened, and she continued the crusades. But in her naïve optimism, she foolishly made a bargain with Rammaq, only to be betrayed by him and have her siblings dragged into the Abyss by demons. She would return to Mount Celestia, and remain a mute, broken woman, unwilling to use her voice in fear of leading anyone else to a similar fate. (Source: NWN2wiki [link] )

Borrowing the plot from the game made writing this chapter much easier. One note: the balor involved in this chapter, if you'll notice, spoke the heavenly language of Celestial, rather than the demonic tongue, Abyssal. More on that later.

I should note that the use of the term "white mage" for Lienna has nothing to do with the Final Fantasy series. In MotB, Lienna is shown wearing a white robe and cloak, so I went with that phrase.

Previous Chapters:
Prologue: [link]
Chapter I: Armored Wolf [link]


Subsequent Chapters:
Chapter III: Two Meetings [link]
Comments4
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ArchonofFate's avatar
ArchonofFateHobbyist Digital Artist
Very nice! I always tried to see if I could change Kaelyns ending; thought I missed something... but alas you can't, which is sad because she is one of my favorite characters in the game...

I remember hearing this somewhere before:
None is hurt more by reality than the Idealist...

which sucks because I took a personality test when I was in high school and I'm an idealist >.< maybe that's why I like Kaelyn the most because I can relate in a way... :shrug: who knows

anyways I'm rambling now so... nice work ^^;
StarSword-C's avatar
StarSword-CHobbyist General Artist
Kaelyn's ending is, actually, changeable, but not by much.  nwn2.wikia.com/wiki/Kaelyn_the...
ArchonofFate's avatar
ArchonofFateHobbyist Digital Artist
After all this time I had no idea... Well guess its time to play neverwinter again to get her good ending :)
StarSword-C's avatar
StarSword-CHobbyist General Artist
Background details:

1. Deities: Ilmater is the Faerûnian intermediate god of endurance, suffering, and martyrdom. His worshipers include the lame, the oppressed, the poor, monks, paladins, serfs, and slaves. A member of the Triad of Celestia (the other two members being Tyr and Torm, with Helm in a supporting role) until 1384 DR, he is Kaelyn's patron deity.
Torm is the Faerûnian lesser god (greater god in 4E) of duty and loyalty. His worshipers include paladins, heroes, goodly fighters and warriors, guardians, knights and courtiers. The third member of the Old Triad (3E) and the leader of the New Triad (4E), and one of the mightiest forces for good in the Realms, he has a strong relationship with the Red Knight (which led to her changing from lawful neutral to lawful good during the transition from 3E to 4E).
Helm was the Faerûnian intermediate god of protectors and guardians. His worshipers included explorers, fighters, guards, mercenaries, and paladins. A supporter of the Old Triad, he was slain by Tyr in 1384 DR due to a misunderstanding (which the gods suspect Cyric was responsible for). (Sources: Faiths and Pantheons, The Grand History of the Realms)

2. Geography and Cosmology: Calimshan is a nation in southwestern Faerûn. Culturally it is much like feudal era Arabia in our own world.
The Abyss is the many-layered plane inhabited by the demons, chaotic evil outsiders.