The Return of the Skylord

EVENTS NEWS #460
Date: 03/04/2014 at 22:18
From: Anonymous
To : Everyone
Subj: The Return of the Skylord

Black dreams had plagued the sleep of Cassandra, the healer, of late. Visions of some terrifying demon shrouded in darkness, ripping apart and destroying the city of Arcadia. Heedless of the opposition, it killed Arcadian military, tossed aside the formidable Chenubis as easily as a small doll, and tore through the collective forces of Sapience. Every time she awoke, it was directly before some new, terrible death. Too many times had she seen herself dismembered, or thrown from the top of Mount Erymanthus with shattered wings feebly attempting to save her as Arcadia crumbled around her, or swallowed whole by the darkness.

As the days slowly ticked by, the dreams worsened. Finally, ill tidings reached her. A pair of Arcadian guardsmen brought before her a broken atavian, covered in filthy rags. Worst of all were her wings, cut away at the shoulder blades, leaving jagged bone jutting out underneath the grime-covered cloth barely covering the shrunken body. She barely managed to gasp out Cassandra's worst fears; the creature was real, and it was coming.

Cassandra did what she could to ease the pain of the broken atavian and bade the guardsmen to take her to a place of comfort. There was little time to worry about where she had come from, or exactly what she spoke of. But she knew, without outside aid, Arcadia would die this day.

"Death approaches Sapience, soaring on wings of darkness! Please, brave adventurers, make haste to Arcadia! I await any at the peak of Mount Erymanthus."

With that simple shout, she prayed. Prayed to the long-lost Skylord for strength, prayed for the safety of the Arcadians and Her Lord's city, prayed until the concerned adventurers began flooding in.

She quickly and succinctly summed up her visions, notifying them of the incoming danger. There was only one hope for Sapience, a legendary creature long-lost. The Skylord's leviathan wandered about somewhere in the world, the colossal creature the only thing she could think of to battle this monstrous new threat. And so she sent the adventurers off to Heliastes, the Arcadian blacksmith, who knew the exact method of making the necessary item, and took up her prayers once more.

Heliastes notified Cassandra of each step. Hermaldo and Kayeil Inamora-Vorondil quickly returned with the electrum ore that had been lost ages ago in the swamps of Erymanthus, while Ellodin Longshanks returned with a branch from the sacred oak trees in the western forest. With that, he began making the required horn.

She waited patiently, excruciating minutes stretching out longer and longer. Without warning, a discordant shriek echoed across the firmament, and she looked up in horror.

No, no, it was not yet ready, they were not ready, this couldn't be happening...

Suddenly, Jinsun arrived with the horn in hand, lead by his faithful pathfinder. He gave it to Cassandra, who quickly waved her hands over the inscribed symbols, activating them with her powers. She urged him to sound it as she handed it over, and waited.

After a moment of confusion, the Occultist sounded the horn. The electrum bands suddenly flashed a blinding golden colour, and the air began to vibrate from the deep, booming tone. The vibrations shook the horn so fiercely that it disintegrated, leaving the collected group in an unknown status.

But the sound had not gone unnoticed. The demon heard, and veered straight for the peak of Erymanthus. As it approached, a cry similar to the horn rumbled through the air, and another colossal being came into view, rapidly moving toward Arcadia. Did it summon friend, or foe?

Cassandra could tell that this was everything she had prayed for. Her heart plummeted, however, when she saw how quickly the demon turned in the air to attack the newcomer. "Quickly, to Maros at Briham Square! It may need your help!"

She watched on, transfixed as she saw the demon begin its assault on the incoming leviathan. Surely, her Lord's creature could prevail. But her worst fears began to break apart her confidence; the demon swirled around the leviathan, its rapid assaults and retreats too fast for the larger creature to deal with. It was slowly, steadily, inevitably wearing down the leviathan. The sound of crossbow bolts being loosed echoed out from Briham Square, but the foul beast proved too manoeuvrable. It swirled around in the air, forcing the projectiles to harmlessly fly past, then initiated a final, vicious assault that brutally ripped off the leviathan's tail, sending it falling to the ground below. With that last strike, the leviathan began to plummet toward Erymanthus, crashing into the ground below. A triumphant shriek ripped through the air, and the demon circled in victory.

Grief overcame the normally stoic healer. "To the leviathan! This cannot be allowed to happen!" Her voice rang out through Arcadia, and she moved faster than she ever had before. The lives of all around her hinged on her faith in that leviathan.

Only Sestina Senz'ombra beat her to the fallen creature, but Cassandra didn't have the ability to see anything other than the massive, shattered form before her. The spherical body was covered in deep tears and bites, oozing a milky, turquoise blood. Each deep, rasping breath pushed more blood out of the body, covering the ground in the viscous fluid. As she gazed upon the horrific sight, frozen, the demon above began its descent for the final strike. She looked up in despair, unsure of what to do.

At that moment, Chenubis, the Cloud Serpent erupted out of the palace of Arcadia with a thunderous roar, slamming into the demon and mauling it viciously. Though he couldn't break through the armoured body, he succeeded in distracting the beast, and flew away to avoid a counter attack, drawing it away from the group below.

Seeing Chenubis' bravery snapped Cassandra back to the present, and she quickly rushed to the leviathan, raising her staff and sending all of her energy through it, beginning to heal the creature. She attempted to mend each wound in turn, but found some foul energy fighting her at each turn. The torn flesh was infected, and she could not fix them as they were.

At that moment, the demon finally caught up to Chenubis, scoring deep gashes in his flank. Chenubis wheeled quickly about and fled into Arcadia, unable to continue. The atavian guardsmen saw this, and knew what was at stake. Steeling their hearts, they flew out to further distract the relentless enemy, preventing it from reaching either their salvation, or the helpless citizens. The demon tore into them, scattering their bodies to the ground below.

"They are corrupted. The wounds are corrupted. Please, all of you, I need water. Water!"

The adventurers sprang into action, providing buckets and vials full of water to pour over the leviathan, and Alaskar flooded the room to provide an endless supply. Cassandra pressed her hands to the wounds, but she could barely bear to touch the creature. Even weakened, its power was immense, and direct contact flooded her mind with a terrible screeching, drowning out all of her senses. Still she worked, washing away the corruption, healing each wound in turn before feeling her way to a new one. She felt herself collapse to her knees, barely able to maintain consciousness.

Even then, she continued to pour her healing arts into the leviathan, praying and hoping. Still she endured, though the presence of the creature threatened to tear her mind asunder. With one last, fierce thought of the Skylord, she pushed all of her remaining strength into His leviathan, and then all went black.

---

The leviathan rapidly swelled in size as it healed, floating off of the ground. The demon was practically atop the palace now, the Arcadian forces fleeing before its relentless might. Within seconds, the colossal defender expanded to over four times the original size before it abruptly hurtled into the air, continuing its explosive growth. The beast finally noticed the return, and quickly abandoned its assault of Arcadia to resume attacking the leviathan. Before it could gain much ground, the leviathan let loose a thunderous roar, booming through the firmament. The clouds in the air immediately blackened, and began to release their own ominous rumblings.

Heavy raindrops began to pound the ground, the clouds roiling above and beginning to release bolts of lightning into the air. The leviathan was soaring in a wide circle, now almost ten times its original size, moving faster and faster with each pass, entirely heedless of the approaching threat. As the creature flew closer and closer to the circling leviathan, the storm abruptly turned worse, and the lightning strikes came more frequently and larger in scope. The demon was tossed about by a sudden gale, but barely righted itself and continued toward the leviathan.

As the creature attempted to attack from below, a massive tornado suddenly surged downward from the middle of the leviathan's circling path, surrounding the demon and whipping it around and around before hurling it away. The cyclone swirled faster and faster, taking in the fury of the storm, countless lightning bolts rippling throughout the tempest. The tornado appeared to implode for just an instant, revealing the looming form of Vastar, the Skylord, who immediately addressed the threat to Arcadia.

"Already you have subjugated a population of My people, and now you seek to do the same to Arcadia? For too long have I left that island to suffer, allowing them the freedom to potentially rise up themselves. For too long have you taunted My fury. No more, demon. My wrath is inevitable."

The creature immediately wheeled around and streaked through the sky at a rapid pace, returning in the direction it came. The Skylord watched for a moment, allowing it to reach the edge of the storm before hurricane winds snatched it up, whipping the demon around and around. The wings were torn free within the violent tempest, and endless bolts of white lightning battered the broken form. Within moments, the entirety of the body dissolved under the relentless assault.

The Skylord regarded the still circling leviathan with a grim look on His countenance before giving a slight nod. The leviathan immediately turned and flew off, rapidly disappearing into the distance. With a flare of His wings and a flash of lightning, Vastar disappeared. Moments later, he coalesced before the stunned adventurers, kneeling before the prone form of Cassandra.

"You have done well, My priestess. Rest."

He remained kneeling over the healer, His tempestuous eyes narrowed at the sight of his loyal follower. "All of you have my thanks. You came to My atavians when they were in need."

"Too long has My attention been turned away from Sapience, from all of you. That ends today."

Carefully, He gathered Cassandra's frail body in His arms, standing up and flaring His wings.

"I will properly greet any interested in Myself and My realm soon, should any of you desire it. But for now... these events have not been kind to My priestess. I must see to her health."

With a flash of lightning, the Skylord disappeared, leaving the grouped adventurers to discuss the events amongst themselves.

Penned by My hand on the 3rd of Daedalan, in the year 649 AF.