Friday, October 10, 2008

Something wicked this way comes.

Well, not exactly wicked. But it will fundamentally change the game for all our players. On the road to Winterhaven an eerie light appears on the distant horizon. Our heroes have seen nothing like this darkening violet light which traces the clouds in purple fingers of lightning scratched along its edges.

As the eldritch lightning flashes in the distance a deep violet glow illuminates the features of the adventurers. This light plays across their features and images flash through their minds. Images somehow familiar yet strange and distant. Dracon the paladin is driven to his knees as he beholds in a flash of lightning his God Kord riding on the rolling thunderheads. The might War God rises his Storm Spear high and unleashes the mighty weapon. In flight it turns into a flash of brilliant lightning that strikes Dracon dead center in the chest.

The other heroes are enthralled as well. Whether in divine vision or in hallucinatory trance is uncertain. Ciedris Cleric of The Raven Queen is the only soul whose are not cast upwards. His head is hung low, his shoulders slumped. Unbeknownst to his companions he stares into a yawning abyss. Its nether reaches wreathed in darkened mist. From the swirling darkness below a rider appears on a jet black pegasus with wings trailing tendrils of mist in the night. Riding atop the darkened mount sits a lady of haunting beauty, cloaked in the mist herself. As she mounts the depths she raises a curved sickle shining with a deep violet light. Bearing down with increasing speed on her priest her pegasus screams a war cry. The Raven Queen raises her arm and rushes past in a blast of misty wind, cold as death's touch. As she passes she swings her sickle in a slow and graceful arch. With a flash of light it passed through the neck of her priest and leaves his head spinning in the air.

Barkel, paladin of Avandra finds himself standing on a dusty road in a flat desert expanse, alone. Dust swirls in shimmering eddies across the surface of the road. His eyes fail to adjust adequately to the distance ahead. Was something moving in the distance haze? Rust red hills line the horizon. Heat and perspiration blurs his clarity of vision. Sage and cedar blend into dark amorphous shadows like spots of scorched earth on the hillsides. He tries to clear what seems a dazed haze which has descended upon his mind. The sun catches and plays with the swirling dust ahead. Barkel clenches his mailed fists to ground himself-- his hands tight with blood coursing as if from a long journey. What was happening?

The figure at first seemed but a shimmer of heat, dancing in slowly wavering patterns above the sun baked clay of the desert floor. Then the form slowly resolves into that of a man. A tall gaunt man who seems to step into the world through a window framed in sun-speckled dust. The wind blown sand slowly forms into pinpoints of what could only be light gathering about the figure's upper torso and head. Lights that dance around his head as if crystals circled his brow playing about with sunlight in iridescent, mind confusing patterns. Barkel's heart began to beat even faster. The figure walked towards him, or so it seemed. Was just another hiker? Perhaps he had simply not seen him due to the hazy heat and the dust. A wave of hot wind blew up and a swirl of dust caused Barkel to avert his eyes and shield them with his hands. Blast this wind, he thought.

When it had abated Barkel looked up again and could see that no dance of lights played about the advancing figure's head, but a cascade of glimmering orbs. He walked with that long legged measured step common to all jugglers. A mesmerizing pattern of at least five clear crystal balls wove in a complex rhythm in the air before him. Barkel couldn't help but smile. His eyes, a shining light blue, stared straight ahead. In fact he stared straight at the confused Paladin, unblinking and seeming to glide down the road towards him. The figure's eyes held the knight spellbound for seconds that seemed to stretch into eternity. In those eyes the blue of the sky he could see those crystal orbs flashing and swirling and floating like planets hung in space on sunlit summer day. Each orb swirling with rainbow colors which formed images, forms, pictures, until they filled his vision, a window onto other worlds.

Barkel shook his gaze away, with a feeling of falling. The paladin reached out to steady himself, stepping forward, feeling awkward. This man, this figure, this whoever he was, surely saw him about to faint from the delirium. Barkel opened his mouth to utter some remark of greeting and could not speak. He noticed the jet black clothes the man wore. They seemed to scintillate with sparks of light flecked dust. Each dust a star, swirling. Galaxies spinning, and rainbow hued nebulae hanging in space. A universe, that he seemed to . . . and he was falling, falling, falling. The man was upon the shaking paladin now, or becoming a part of him, taking him in. And Barkel fell into the universe of his being. Orbs of crystal light swirling around his soul and in his mind and in his eye. My mind. My eyes. My mind. My falling mind. were his last thoughts. And Only at the last did he see the symbol of triple waves hanging in the ether. The symbol of Avandra--his God

The other dragon born warriors are besieged with images of fire, and flaming haired elves. Of humans dancing amid pits of burning lava and infernal fumes. Of huge scaled dragons dwelling in steaming caverns and of war. War with demons of unseen horror and oblivion. Darkened blades of evil rip open the forms of Dragonborn children. Fields of red, burning as much with blood as with fire. Demons working magic that twists the souls of these fire worshipping mad men. Filled with the primal fire of dragon's blood, human and elf twist in a dark embrace to become something other than what they were--something that should not be.

The Tieflings, so used to the darkness and the realms of the sinister, the left handed path, are faced with fear as they have never known it before. Darkness envelops them. Hands from the pits of hades pull at their very souls, drawing them downward towards damnation. Visages of dark demon lords flash before their mind, holding the chains of bondage. The chains that bind their race. Humanoid dragon forms dance around the crippled and mangled bodies of their loved ones. Then they too are bound in hellish chains and cast into an endless pit. Bound until they can no longer do aught but fall; plummeting downward into ruin and further into oblivion of the waiting maw of a massive ancient red dragon.

The elves and Eladrin are besieged with horrid images of war as well. A terrible war in which elves fall like red rain in a forest devoid of life. A separation of a bloody river into two raging forks and a splintering tree burst asunder by lightning. And the bodies of elves. Each twisted and broken one representing the hopes and dreams of all the elven nations.

Visions, images, intuitions, flashes of another time. Of another place. Of the past, of the future. Of death, of rebirth. Of opportunities lost and a need for change before the world devolves back into madness, chaos and loss--eternal loss.

What do these vision mean? Could this fell omen simply be falling upon Winterhaven? Their import seems so much more than what our adventurers ever could have guessed. What could it mean for our fledgling heroes? As they recover from their waking dreams still the vivid dark lightning flashes. The cold icy grip of fear runs through their veins. But they quickly regain their composure. Confident in their powers and their might they regroup and continue the quest forward to something much more than just Winterhaven and forward to their destiny.

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