Starday, Flocktime 22, 553 CY (51 AN)
The day finally arrives, and the Shields of the Sorrowfell have no more preparations to undertake. Having made their arrangements with The Solstice King to appear on the roster as The Dawnslight Ripjaws, Bosabrieln will use seeming to make them appear as a shabby group of fey: Bezaldooz appears as a satyr, Bosabrieln and Peren appear as eladrin, and Torinn appears as a firbolg. The night before, as is typical procedure, Bezaldooz enchanted the party with mind blank to protect them from divination and mind-altering sorceries. The Shields spend much of the day in the settlements surrounding the Coliseum Morpheuon, acting in character and preparing for that evening’s battle.
Finally, the event arrives. They emerge second, appearing in an arena that appears to be a rock-strewn, sandy plain. At the far side is a churning sea of dust. Their opponents at The Detroit Dungeoneers: a heavily-armored male dwarf with sword and shield; a heavily-armored male human with an unrecognized holy symbol, a massive hammer, and a belt depicting a fire giant’s face; a female elf with a curved shortsword and a subtle aura; and a male halfling with light armor and a fabulous moustache. All of them bear group insignia and several symbols of unknown provenance, many of which seem to describe guilds or other organizations. Sponsorship, perhaps?
From his floating box, the Khan of Nightmares announces that The Detroit Dungeoneers are pitted against the relative newcomers The Dawnslight Ripjaws, and that the battle is to take place in a facsimile of the wastes of distant and doomed Athas. With little fanfare, he announces the start of the battle. (The Shields, anticipating doing battle with him, note that he is accompanied by some sort of clay golem and three women, one of whom is outfitted as a bard or minstrel.)
As the Shields start moving into position, a massive creature burrows upward from the sand and begins charging in their direction, seemingly directly toward Torinn. It has large, trunklike legs, massive claws, and a mouth full of threatening fangs. Its roar is terrifying, and rattles even the battle-hardened Shields of the Sorrowfell. Bosabrieln invokes a hypnotic pattern spell on The Detroit Dungeoneers so that they can fully turn their attention to the rest of the arena, and the Shields deign to destroy this fell beast before antagonizing the Khan of Nightmares.
The Shields make short work of the creature with blade and spell before considering what to do next. An argument erupts as they realize they didn’t fully determine the signal to drop seeming ahead of time, and Bezaldooz finally resolves the argument by suddenly casting dispel magic on Bosabrieln’s seeming spell. (Bosabrieln, prepared for this moment, casts another hypnotic pattern on the Khan’s skybox. All within manage to resist it, and The Detroit Dungeoneers are now released from Bosabrieln’s thrall.) When the Khan of Nightmares sees the change, he announces five million gold pieces to anyone who brings him their heads and then he leaps off his platform to dive toward them. His clay golem shifts into a sphinx-like form and follows suit, while the women in his skybox all disappear. The Voracious Visitor also appears, ominously floating towards the Shields. From his position in the stands, The Solstice King begins launching arrows at anyone who attempts to rush the arena. (Or who attempts to rush him, for that matter.)
When the Voracious Visitor moves into position, it ripples, turning into a raging, roaring vortex that drags the Shields of the Sorrowfell into it. With the exception of Goruthrel, they all manage to avoid being sucked into the void, but are left off-balance and badly exposed. Peren recovers, taking a few steps back and tossing the javelin of cancellation at the Voracious Visitor. His keen eye sends the magic item directly into the middle of the umbral blot, and its surface briefly ripples before exploding in a burst of white light.
When the dust settles, all are still standing, although everyone has taken at least some wounds from the blast. Torinn uses the power of Cage to invoke the equivalent of a high-powered Mordenkainen’s private sanctum, thereby trapping the Khan of Nightmares in his own arena. (Torinn’s truesight also reveals the Khan’s true form: a humanoid creature with backwards hands and two vulture-like heads, each weeping blood.) Despite the token opposition from The Detroit Dungeoneers when their human spellcaster invokes a column of holy fire upon the Shields, they focus on the Khan of Nightmares — although Bezaldooz is being menaced by the clay golem, and so tries to evade it — prompting him to reposition himself as The Detroit Dungeoneers attempt to move into position. The clay golem shifts its features into a woman’s face with a writhing nest of snakes for hair, and Bosabrieln and Peren inadvertently catch sight of it, instantly turning into stone. The Khan of Nightmares invokes a spell to stun Torinn, and the man with the hammer uses the opportunity to throw his maul at Torinn as it explodes outward with a concussive blast. Bezaldooz, having moved away from the rampaging clay monster and resisted the hammer’s onslaught, invokes meteor swarm, taking out most of The Detroit Dungeoneers and the Khan’s pet clay golem. The Khan, surprised by the fact that meteor swarm hurt him as badly as it did, attempts to flee, returning to his skybox and clearly poising himself to escape. Before he can, however, Bezaldooz fires a fire bolt at the Khan, which again penetrates his defenses and discorporates him, sending him back to whatever pit spawned him.
Bezaldooz and Torinn then turn to the last remaining Detroit Dungeoneer, the elf. They offer her to leave, but she reveals that she cannot unless someone opens the arena. Bezaldooz, having acquired the arena when he defeated the Khan, does so and bids her to leave. She asks if he can revive her companions, and he agrees, although Torinn takes the human priest’s belt as a penalty. Once the opposition is revived and leaves, the Shields set about evacuating the Coliseum Morpheuon before taking their petrified comrades deeper into the complex. They are soon met by Tetposmeton and his associates, who help secure the complex and set about invoking the ritual to free Akinshata. Bezaldooz and Torinn ask if they can help revive Bosabrieln and Peren, and he says arrangements will be made.
Within the hour, Bezaldooz and Torinn are met by a shady cleric, a bald human man with an inverted pentacle for a holy symbol, who invokes the proper rites to return Bosabrieln and Peren from stone to flesh. Bosabrieln is upset that he missed the rest of the battle, and asks Bezaldooz and Torinn for every detail. After investigating the personal chambers of the Khan of Nightmares, Bezaldooz transfers ownership of the Coliseum Morpheuon to Peren, as he seems to be the one among them who really wants it.
Satisfied that they have completed their task in the Coliseum Morpheuon, the Shields of the Sorrowfell return to the Sorrowfell Plains to tell the tale and ensure they have completed any last-minute business before they turn to their individual projects and a much-deserved rest.
Bezaldooz wraps his affairs before heading east into the borderlands to build his own inn. He hopes to make a safe haven where new adventurers might find respite as they undertake their own journeys — the sort of place only the truly dedicated might be able to find. He also moves his research materials and his clone vat to this inn’s attached wizard tower so that he might be able to continue his research in private.
Bosabrieln finally undertakes his grand ambition, taking Torugar’s offer to petition the gods for inclusion in their pantheon, participating in the trials of the Olympics to show his worthiness as a member of their ranks. Although Bosabrieln quietly disappears from the world, some travelers claim they have seen miracles done in his name, while the emergent eoshee of the Feywild revere him as a god. Some even claim visitations from a beautiful female angel named Aratha, first among Bosabrieln’s angels.
Peren is the new commander of the Coliseum Morpheuon, and tries to ensure that the change in management is as painless as possible. A major change occurs immediately, however: he abolishes slavery and frees the oneirobound, improving relations with Dingue and offering the oneirobound a place as employees rather than slaves. It is not long before Peren is approached by Khanbika Khongordzal, also known as the Queen of Thistles. She and her sisters were the women seen in the Khan’s skybox, and she acted as the Khan’s majordomo. (Her sisters, meanwhile, are bound to her so they don’t cause trouble.) She knows how this place operates and would be willing to serve its new master. Even though she seems disappointed that Peren is abolishing slavery — no doubt because he soon determines her to be a night hag — she is happy to abide by his new restrictions in the performance of her duties. Besides, Peren still maintains his ties to the Lower Planes through Tetposmeton, who is now due for a promotion thanks to his role in freeing his superior, the pit fiend Akinshata.
And when not running the Coliseum Morpheuon, Peren trawls through the Underdark, honing his skills and hunting the most fearsome monsters of the deepearth. He is also one of the few Shields of the Sorrowfell to make use of his estates in Duchy Jepson, occasionally visiting as the mood takes him. He also retains Obash, Hurm, “Mad Dog” Eddie, Mike, and the other orcs of the Grimtooth Mercenary Company in Argent for his own use in the Coliseum Morpheuon.
Finally, Torinn returns Cage to Archmagus Iandak Voiddrake’s lair in the Astral Plane. The archmage’s simulacrum asks for all the details regarding the sword’s performance, and likewise answers some of Torinn’s concerns about the recent revelations that he is a partial clone of Iandak. The simulacrum notes that Torinn’s will and his choices are his own — something even the simulacrum cannot claim about himself, since his will is bound to that of the wizard. Torinn still thinks he will need to take time to learn his place in the world, although he may someday return here to speak further with the archmage. After leaving, Torinn sees to a final piece of business: returning to his businesses in Scandshar, he hands over control of day-to-day operations to his employees, telling them he simply wants a 10% cut which he will collect whenever he is in town. Otherwise, he wishes to remain a silent partner and they are free to run these businesses how they wish. His business complete, he returns to Duchy Jepson to speak with Ekaterina, offering her to accompany him to Dawnslight so that he may take his role in raising Rhonwen and keeping her safe. She agrees, and so Ekaterina, Torinn, and the shield guardian undertake the few weeks’ travel on foot from Duchy Jepson to Dawnslight, retracing the route Bosabrieln and Valna took to escort Leogold Spiritforged to Dawnslight over a year ago.
As for the Sorrowfell Plains, the seasons continue to change and the ages turn ever onward. The Shields bring lasting peace to the land, but new dangers rise as apple trees grow in the plains and monster attacks threaten the roads. Some claim that rumors of disappearances in the borderlands and tensions in the settlements presage greater disasters yet to come.
But those are tales best left for another time…