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Silver Wolf: Chapter III

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Published: May 27, 2009

Chapter III:  Two Meetings



War Room, Fort Lightreach
Northeast Slope, Thaymount, Thay
12 Kythorn

Kalir cradled her daughter in her arms as she listened to the latest reports from the warfront.  Narra was beginning to walk now, and regularly got places she wasn’t supposed to.  Like the war room.

“Milady?” Lt. Savann prompted her.

“Oh, I’m sorry, what was the question?” she said, and gave an embarrassed grin at the officers arrayed about the table.  At her left, the ever-reliable Hamish Savann.  On her right, the empty chair of Captain Maurus (he’d been promoted), currently out on assignment.

To Savann’s left sat Lieutenant Vonek Avo.  A short, solidly built brunette, Avo was easily Kalir’s youngest lieutenant, but still the aasimar’s elder by a good four years.

Further down was Captain Pro’koss Salga.  A star elf cleric of Angharradh (making him the only Order auxiliary among her advisors), he was over five hundred years old, and had never enjoyed being subordinate to a woman who wasn’t even a legal adult in some jurisdictions.  He respected her, but that was about it.

Savann rolled his eyes and said, “Whether or not you wanted to send reinforcements to Taigald.  Maurus won’t be able to hold the town without them if more enemy troops arrive.”

Kalir looked at the map, where the areas of Thay held by Tam’s so-called Dread Legions were marked in red.  In Eleint of the previous year, two each of the zulkirs and tharchions had been assassinated or betrayed by the undead archmage and his henchmen, collapsing the already fragile political balance in Thay and plunging the country into full-scale civil war; the Order had secretly approached the tharchion of Eltabbar, Dimitra Flass, with an offer of assistance, which she had not yet replied to.  These thoughts were in Kalir’s head as she picked up a pair of dividers and carefully measured the distances.  “Well, first off, do we really need to hold Taigald?  I’m not certain of its importance.  Strategically, I mean.”

“Ma’am, it’s a mining town, produces iron,” Savann explained.

“But they abolished slavery on their own last year,” Avo pointed out.  “I understand they found it more cost-effective to take care of their workers than to keep having to buy more slaves from the guilds.”  Mining slaves had notoriously short life expectancies:  they were lucky to last six months, and rarely survived more than a year.

Salga disputed the comment’s relevance.  “This war is not about slavery, Avo.  Our aim is to restore order, honor, and decency to Thay’s government.”

“Ending slavery restores decency,” Avo said.

“Enough!” Kalir’s voice rang out.  “I was asking for a purely strategic analysis, you two, not a philosophical discussion.  Our men and women are bleeding and dying on three fronts, and you’re arguing about semantics.”  Salga opened his mouth, but she glowered at him and heard his teeth clack shut.  “Now, can I get an answer?  Please?”

“On balance,” Savann said, “I say we hold.  There is no closer source of weapons-grade metals than Taigald.  We can deny this to Tam and maintain our own supplies at the same time.  I suggest we send Avo and Second Brigade; they’re not doing any good here in Lightreach.”

“Lieutenant?”

“It would be a pleasure, ma’am.”

Kalir reached for a sheet of parchment and quickly scribbled marching orders, then passed them down the table to Avo.  “I want you and your brigade on your way by sundown.”

“Yes, ma’am.”



The rest of the war meeting went much the same, moving gamepieces around on a map, jockeying for position against Szass Tam; the only worthwhile interruption was when Narra’s nurse, Vella, came to retrieve her.  Kalir finally adjourned the meeting at lunchtime, knowing she had administrative duties to take care of in the afternoon.  The others saluted and filed out of the room; Savann, last out, closed the door behind him.  Kalir said, “How long have you been there, Ammon?”

Ammon Jerro stepped out of the shadows.  “A while.  I didn’t want to interrupt you, but I have important information.”

Kalir smelled brimstone.  “Information from one of your fiendish contacts?” she asked, waving the sulfurous stink away from her nose as she stood and gathered her papers, then moved to the door.  “Look, I don’t have time; I’ve got to get lunch or I won’t be able to concentrate on—”

Ammon grabbed her shoulder, stopping the paladin in her tracks.  “It’s information concerning Kaelyn.”

Kalir was silent for a moment.  “What information?”

“You’d better hear it from Blooden.”



Kalir followed the warlock to his summoning chambers, where a gray-winged greater succubus stood in a summoning circle.  “Ah, little Kalir,” Blooden said.  “So good to meet you again.”

“Ah, save it,” Kalir said.  Devils were one thing—they kept their bargains—but Kalir had never liked the unreliable, self-centered demons.  “I only agreed to come here because Ammon said you’ve got information regarding a friend of mine.”

“Yes, the half-celestial Dove.  Hee hee, funny name.”  Kalir and Ammon both glared at her.  “Right, right.  Well, I heard this from my mistress Malcanthet (may she live forever), who heard it from Pale Night.  It seems her little zoo has gotten into a wee bit of trouble.”

“‘Zoo?’  The Menagerie, you mean.  What trouble?”

“Kidnapped.”

Kalir was stunned for a moment, but it quickly turned to anger.  “By whom?  I’ll kill them.”

“Oh, please.  You wouldn’t stand a chance.”

Kalir growled, but Ammon moved forward.  A twisting gesture from his right hand, and suddenly the succubus fell to her knees, hands at her throat as she gasped for air.  “Don’t push your luck, Blooden.  Remember who holds your life in his hands.  I may not be able to truly kill you outside of the Abyss, but as long as you’re within the circle, I can make you wish I could.”  He released her.  “Answer the question.”

“I don’t know.”  Ammon started to gesture again, but Blooden quickly elaborated.  “Nobody knows his name.  He’s a tanar’ri lord, master of the 748th layer, the Dark Heaven.”

“Never heard of it,” Kalir said.

“Few have.  Supposed to be a mirror image of Celestia, but I’ve never been there.”

“Tell us more.”

“Well, all I have beyond what I already told you are rumors.”

“Rumors can be verified.  Tell us what you know.”

The succubus got to her feet and shook out her wings.  “So undignified,” she muttered, then faced Kalir.  “The only information I deem reliable is something I heard from Errtu.”

“Errtu?”

“A balor lord,” Ammon explained, “and an ally of the Spider Queen.  Guarded Menzoberranzan during the Godswar.”

“Yes, he’s a real piece of work, that one.  Killed several of my subordinates once upon a time.  But he has contacts throughout the Abyss, hears things.  The story goes, they were traveling through Calimshan, gathering allies to attack the Fugue Plane.”

“That sounds like Kaelyn, all right,” Kalir commented.

“Well, she tried to get a demilich’s support, but the lich had made other arrangements.  Errtu thinks Cyric was involved.”  Jerro whistled.  “Yeah, I know, he’s quite a fellow.  Cyric wants the Fugue Plane back, but needs the Wall of the Faithless for defense, so he buys off Rammaq and the master of the Dark Heaven.  The Menagerie gets dragged down, and Kaelyn—tee hee hee—goes running home to daddy.  Supposedly swore never to speak again, lest she lead others to heir doom.”

Kalir absorbed this, then asked, “Why are you helping us?”

“Because Jerro asked nicely?  Sorry, just kidding.  Malcanthet wants the Dark Heaven, and figured you could help her get it.”

“She wants its master dead?  Why not do it herself?”

“He’s too strong, and there are too many other enemies in the way.  Erythnul in particular—he’s never liked her.  Her offer is this:  get her the Dark Heaven, and she’ll let you, your allies, and the Menagerie go home in one piece.”

“How can I be sure she’ll keep her side of the bargain?”

“You can get her what she wants, and she has no use for a family of half-celestials, a paladin, or whoever else you might bring.  It’ll take too long to deal with you all anyway.”

“Ammon?” Kalir whispered.

“She’s right—Malcanthet will be too busy securing the layer to impede our escape.”

Kalir sighed.  “Tell her we’ve got a deal.”

“Thank you!”

The demon vanished in a fireball and smoke.  Kind of a clichéd exit, Kalir thought.  Then again, what else can you expect from a succubus?

Ammon moved past her and into the now-empty summoning circle, where he began tracing new runes with a stick of chalk.  “I hope you know what you’re doing, Kalir—the Abyss is a more dangerous place for a paladin than anywhere in this universe.”

“Can’t be worse than Luskan.”

“Yes, it can.”  He stood and pierced her with a look.  “You know nothing of the tanar’ri, and less about their home.  They are treacherous, keeping their bargains only if it’s convenient.”

“I know that, and plenty of other things about them.”

“You know enough to be a danger, yes.  But you know little of how to defeat them on their own turf.”  He clasped his hands behind his back and began to pace.  “The tanar’ri are not the only threat in the Abyss.  There are obyriths, loumaras, and even a few gods on that plane.  And then there’s the fact of your being a paladin.”

“What about it?”

“Your very presence produces an aura of pure goodness that will attract every tanar’ri for miles.  You can mask it temporarily if you cast undetectable alignment, but the spell must be renewed once a day.  And you’ll have to pass through almost 150 layers to reach the Dark Heaven—layers below 600 can’t be accessed from the Prime via a gate spell.  It’s too dangerous, especially for those of celestial bloodlines, like yourself.”

Kalir took in a breath, then yelled and kicked over a table stacked with alchemical components.  Several potion bottles smashed on the stone floor, but she paid it no heed.  “The hells with your logic, Ammon, Kaelyn’s my friend, and she’s in need.  I have to help her, it’s my duty.”  She collapsed into a chair.

Ammon stepped forward and put a hand on her shoulder.  “You can’t save everyone, Kalir.”

“I know I can’t save everyone, but if I can’t at least protect my loved ones and those who depend on me, then what good am I?  I’m a paladin for gods’ sake!”

Ammon let out a breath, then slowly smiled.  “To be honest, I’d have been disappointed if you had just let this go.  But you can’t do this alone.”

Kalir looked up at him and grinned.  “And I won’t.  You’re coming with me.  And Gann, and Safiya, Neeshka, Okku—”

“The more people you bring, the more likely we’ll be discovered.”

“I also want two of our clerics.  Don’t worry, that’s everybody!  I’m no fool—we’re already at a disadvantage.  We know nothing of our foes, and they know plenty—we have to assume Rammaq told his partner about us.  We need to gather information.”

“I have a suggestion.”

“Go ahead.”

“I learned from Mephasm that your mother had dealings with several fiends during her career.  Do you know where her journals are?”

“If she kept any, they’d be at headquarters, in Nehr’bak.”

“With Safiya’s portal, we could get there and back in less than a day.  Consult with your superiors, read her journals, contact the Red Knight Herself if you have to.  But find out what you can about Rammaq, Cyric, and the archfiends involved in this.”



To be continued…

Chapter III: Two Meetings

Introducing the intrigues of garrison command and dealing with fiends, this chapter explains how Kalir learned of the Menagerie’s predicament.

The preview is an image of the succubus Blooden I was able to find via Google. The original page is here: [link] . Fair warning: it's all in Polish (try Google Translate: [link]), and I'm afraid I can't remember what Blooden said in that scene; it’s been a while since I played the original campaign.

Previous Chapter:
Chapter II: Never Trust a Lich [link]

Next Chapter:
Chapter IV: A Mother's Memories [link]
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StarSword-C's avatar
StarSword-CHobbyist General Artist
Background details:

1. Deities: Angharradh is the elven greater goddess of fertility, wisdom, agriculture, and defense. The consort of Corellon Larethian, the elven chief god, she took Araushnee's place as Queen of Arvandor after the War of the Seldarine resulted in the other goddess' transformation into Lolth. The Order of the Lanceboard has several members of her church in auxiliary roles.
Lolth (a.k.a. the Spider Queen) is the Faerûnian greater goddess of the drow, the (mostly) evil elves of the Underdark. She was formerly Araushnee, consort to Corellon, but betrayed him and was cast into the Abyss over 30,000 years ago.
Cyric is the Faerûnian greater god of strife, intrigue, and murder. All the other gods hate him, and he hates them. As of 4E he is under house arrest in his homeplane, the Supreme Throne, for the murder of Mystra in 1385 DR. (Source: Faiths and Pantheons.)

2. Archfiends: Malcanthet is the Queen of the Succubi. As seductive as she is dangerous, Malcanthet is the patron of the hedonistic, the lustful, and those who would use their beauty and magic charms to control and ruin those around them. She is the master of the false paradise of Shendilavri (layer 570).
Pale Night, the most mysterious of the known demon lords, appears as a ghostly female shape. She shares the Endless Maze (layer 600) with Baphomet, and is also the mistress of Androlynne (layer 471), where she continually torments the eladrin (chaotic good celestials) trapped there. Unlike the majority of demons, Pale Night is of the obyrith species, rather than the tanar'ri. (Source: Fiendish Codex I: Hordes of the Abyss.)
Errtu is a balor who rules an as-yet unnamed layer of the Abyss. One of the chief foes of author R.A. Salvatore's Drizzt Do'Urden, he has often allied himself with Lolth. (Source: Forgotten Realms wiki.)
Erythnul is actually the D&D core pantheon's god of slaughter, but I co-opted him to use as a demon lord.
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StarSword-CHobbyist General Artist
Final addendum:

5. Spells: Gate is a 9th level Conjuration spell available to characters with access to the cleric or sorcerer/wizard spell list. It opens a gateway onto another plane, allowing objects and creatures to travel bodily from one plane to another. Arguably the most common application of this spell is for calling allies, such as celestials or fiends, from other planes.
Undetectable alignment is a 2nd level Abjuration spell available to characters with access to the bard, cleric, or paladin spell lists. It conceals the alignment of a creature or object from any form of divination. This is a common way for evildoers to foil the paladin's innate ability to detect evil at will.

6. Cosmology: The Prime Material Plane (a.k.a. the Prime, the Material Plane) is the plane where the vast majority of D&D action takes place. The Prime is our world, and coexists with the Plane of Shadow and the Ethereal Plane.
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One further addendum:

4. History: The Godswar, also known as the Time of Troubles, or the Avatar Crisis, took place in 1358 DR, the Year of Shadows. In order to overthrow the Overgod, Ao (pronounced AY-oh</>;), Bane and Myrkul conspired to steal the Tablets of Fate, which stated the portfolios of all the deities of Toril and (they thought) was the source of Ao's power. An infuriated Overgod stripped the gods of much of their power and cast them to Faerûn's surface until the Tablets were recovered (except for Helm, who was placed as the guardian of the entrance to the heavens). This was a terrible time in Faerûn, and when it ended, several gods had died, several more had ascended, and the gods learned a new sense of humility as their power now derived (in part) from their worshipers. Five real-world novels, the Avatar Series, chronicle this chaotic time in Faerûn's history. (Source: The Grand History of the Realms.)
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StarSword-CHobbyist General Artist
Addendum:

3. Races: Star elves (also known as mithral elves) are an elven subrace that primarily lives in the Yuirwood, an ancient forest in the northeastern Faerûnian nation of Aglarond. Repeatedly forced back by human nations and orcs, they finally retreated to an artificial demiplane called Sildëyuir in -699 DR, the Year of Moon Blades Clashing. In recent years, however, they were forced to return to the Prime Material Plane by the nilshais, a race of sorcerers native to the Ethereal Plane that is corrupting Sildëyuir with bizarre magics. (Source: Unapproachable East.)