z_The Zenith

Eleniel's Birthday

The party was panicking. They were trapped within a heavily guarded castle that prevented escape via teleport. The alarm had been sounded unexpectedly and 3 guards had rushed Morel with more on the way. Morel’s armor was crimson from multiple hits he had taken to the groin.

Tathel and Red were desperately trying to revive the queen of Elm’ril. None of the mages were ready for a fight and Balthier was talking about surrendering.

The one glimmer of hope was the force dome Kyra had created to plug the only way in or out of the room. It bought the party precious seconds while magic users were summoned. As more and more soldiers appeared behind the shimmering field, it made it clear how precious that time was.

24 hours earlier

The party had been spending the winter training. It had been uneventful until Kyra was contacted by Jeska. The blue haired psion warned an assassination was being planned against a high ranking government official in Elm’ril. It would be unique and happen by unusual means.

Kyra used her most powerful research tool, the orb of questions, and discovered the details. It would be an attempt on the queen’s life on Eleniel’s birthday. No other useful information came until the morning of Eleniel’s birthday.

Is Eleniel behind or involved in the assassination attempt Jeska warned about?

Yes.

Eleniel was planning to honor the party by giving it badges. Could this be part of the plot? Kyra, Gemma and Tathel worked out a plan where the badges could be replaced with an illusion and then safely teleported away for storage.

Balthier suggested the badges be stolen and turn up missing. The plan had merit, but would be difficult to put into place now that the day had started and the badges were to be given out in short order.

In the end, it was Queen Ramina who calmed fears. She claimed that the badges were her idea. They were of a new designed and crafted not long ago. Eleniel only took possession of them just a week ago. It would be difficult to replace them with counterfeits and there wasn’t time for a nefarious enchantment to be cast on them.

With no indication of how the assassin would strike, Ramina asked Kyra’s party to act as bodyguards during Eleniel’s birthday celebration. Lacking a clear plan, the party agreed.

A guard carrying a box came up to the Kyra and the others. Without preamble, he handed out the ceremonial badges. They were gold with a ruby in the center. Kyra and the other mages noticed that they were enchanted.

Were they supposed to be enchanted? Did the queen say they were enchanted? Too late to ask the queen now without making a scene, everyone guessed. Better to keep the secret that the party knew Eleniel was part of the assassination than error on the side of safety.

The queen’s elite bodyguards were introduced to the court wearing their new badges. Then everyone deployed to their respective positions. Balthier stayed close to the queen. Gemma stayed close to Eleniel. The dwarfs stood back away from the crowd. Tathel and Kyra mingled among the crowd, but never far from the queen.

Things went well for a while. Then Gemma noticed that Gemma had no shadow. She discretely made her way over to Kyra and told her about it. While the pair was wondering what that shadow could be doing, Tathel brought their attention to Queen Ramina’s shadow.

If you watched closely, the queen had 2 shadows. The 2nd shadow was doing well in hiding itself, but sometimes the queen would move in an unexpected way it was revealed.

When Tathel informed the queen of the situation, she seemed a little startled and asked Tathel to bring the party to a private room where the matter could be discussed openly. Everyone in the party was subtle… except the dwarfs. They clanged and stomped directly through the middle of the room making no pretense at hiding their readiness for action.

A couple of the queen’s elite guards also came along, but were instructed to wait outside. This made Balthier nervous, so he asked the captain of the guards to come in to act as witness. Morel tried stepping on the 2nd shadow, but it had not effect.

People were just starting to discuss course of action to handle the 2nd shadow when Eleniel walked in. She seemed a little angry and asked, “what’s going on here?” As if on cue, light shot out from Ramina into each of the 6 ruby badges.

As the queen gave out a blood curdling scream, Morel instantly ripped off his badge and drove an axe handle down as if to shatter the ruby. His physical efforts had not effect because the light was still directed at the dwarf despite a ruined badge.

When the light faded, Ramina collapsed in a heap on the floor. Gemma ran to her quickly and took her pulse. “She’s dead!” Tathel tried to restore her energy and Red her health. Neither spell took effect.

Balthier pointed to Eleniel and said, “somebody grab her.” Morel was inclined to agree, but the captain of the guard stepped between him and his new queen. His hand was on his sword almost challenging the dwarf to try something.

Morel was unhappy at the situation he found himself. To get to Ramina’s assassin, he needed to get past the guard. To get past the guard meant attacking a representative of Elm’ril. Kyra probably cared more about the people of the land more than anyone else in her party. Even if he won the fight, he’d risk alienating Kyra.

Eleniel made his life more difficult. “Arrest these people!”

At first, Morel tried destroying the man’s sword. This elf was very skilled and it was difficult to land a solid enough blow to snap the sword.

Morel had to change tactics when 2 more elite guards piled into the room. No one else in the room seemed to be hostile, so they helped the captain of the guard with the angry dwarf. Now, instead of trying to break a sword, he was swinging low trying to cripple legs. This also proved problematic as the skilled swordsmen were able to parry everything he could throw at them.

It was a good thing that Morel was light on his feet because these guys kept him dancing. Even with his stout armor and great defense skills, he was getting hit lots in his weakest armored area. How he wished it was the end of the month when he would have his stronger armor to minimize his hurt.

Then one of the elite guards got in what he thought was a lucky strike on his groin. It dug deep ripping open his armor and drawing a steady stream of blood. Within a couple seconds, Morel was struck again in the groin this time the cut went deeper.

The mighty dwarf started to swoon, but shook it off. His vision clouded with a red mist and his heart beat loudly in his ears. These guys were really getting to him. Where was his brother? He needed an advantage or he would soon be losing more than his ability to procreate.

The party was panicking. They were trapped within a heavily guarded castle that prevented escape via teleport. The alarm had been sounded unexpectedly and 3 guards had rushed Morel with more on the way. Morel’s armor was crimson from multiple hits he had taken to the groin.

Tathel and Red were desperately trying to revive the queen of Elm’ril. None of the mages were ready for a fight and Balthier was talking about surrendering.

The one glimmer of hope was the force dome Kyra had created to plug the only way in or out of the room. It bought the party precious seconds while magic users were summoned. As more and more soldiers appeared behind the shimmering field, it made it clear how precious that time was.

Gemma released a Great Haste she had earlier prepared on herself and then on Red. Balthier gave up on the idea of surrender and instead went invisible. Tathel decided to let Morel hold off the guards while he prepared Great Haste on himself. Kyra clung desperately to Ramina’s body trying to figure out a way to get her to safety.

Thanks to Gemma, Red was able to Earth to Air an escape by the time any other spell caster had any of their magic ready. Gemma ran along with Red as he advanced towards the outer wall of the castle staying close to provide support in case he ran into resistance.

As soon as the way was open, the Tathel, Balthier and Kyra made for the exit. Morel was left alone to fight the 3 elite guards that he had yet to injure. He was unsure if this was a vote of confidence or simple abandonment.

Red only needed to cut through the 1 room to reach the outer wall. When he punched through, he saw a court yard filled with people and more than a few guards. It didn’t concern him. The party could get outside and everyone else could then teleport away. He cast Hawk Flight to go back for his brother as quickly as possible.

Morel was taking lots of hits. He was slowing down and finally gave up on simply disabling his enemies. He was going for the throat… literally. The captain of the guard might be the only witness to their innocence, but what good was that if he was dead?

Taking careful aim, the dwarf swung both axes at the captain of the guard. His head lopped off. Then Red was there taking pressure off his left. Gemma also hit that elite guard in the arm weakening him.

Then the tide of battle turned. Red and Gemma manage to double team the guard closest to them. He falls, but continues swinging for Morel’s groin. In the next second, Morel lopped off the head of the elite guard on his right. Red sees that the guard that went down fighting has passed out, but decides to coup de gra him as a matter of principle. What kind of tactics was Queen Ramina teaching these soldiers, anyway?

In the meantime, Tathel made it to the breach, which drew the attention of most of the guards. In response, he created a powerful explosive fireball. Only half the party had assembled, so he threw the fireball more to keep them at bay than injury anyone.

When Gemma went through the wall, an invisible Balthier grabbed her arm and whispered in her ear, “take me with you.”

The fireball didn’t scare the guards for long. They charged as soon as they saw Tathel didn’t have another fireball ready. As the dwarfs were flying out the wall, they heard “druid’s woods” than saw Tathel and Gemma disappear. Kyra was still carrying the Queen Ramina’s body attempting to teleport away.

The guards would be on her in a second, so Morel grabbed both Kyra and the queen even as Red continued to hold him and fly higher and higher. Then Kyra was gone.

Over the next couple of hours, the dwarfs made their way to the druid tree that would take then to Chrysavet’s woods near Gotham. When they got there, they learned that Gemma and Balthier had visited Isad and talked to Silus. He said they had parts of the queen’s shredded soul attached to them.

Kyra asked her druid aunt to preserve the queen’s body until a way was discovered to restore her. With Ramina’s soul shredded, that would be a difficult task. Tathel, Kyra and Gemma kept their badges and gave them to Chrysavet for safe keeping in case they were needed to restore the queen’s soul.

Lacking any clear direction in aiding the queen, the party decided that the best strategy would be to continue collecting the 7 swords. The party knew that one was on Rynak and another in the Deathlands. Flipping a coin, they decided on Rynak. It was far away from civilization and protected their allies in case Eleniel’s agents came looking for revenge. Best of all, Chrysavet had a transportation tree there.

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