Sacred Blades

Session 19: Tests of Saharel

Ancient and powerful, the spirit allowed the adventurers their moment of glory. They didn’t realize they were being tested even now, that their actions could lead to grisly death. Rather than break her bonds and leave, she wanted to see how they would act and if they could be worthy servants. Certainly more worthy than the Netherese mage laying dead at her feet.

As she became less willing to answer questions, they decided to break her chains and allow her to go free. They toppled the ruined pillars around her and the magical chains faded. Saharel wasted no time, casting a spell in dramatic fashion. The Blades had a very bad feeling about this…


Lady Saharel

The Blades stood before the chained spirit of Lady Saharel. It was time for an interrogation. They began asking questions of the future and past; some she humored and answered, some she did not. The adventurers pondered if they should free the ghost and what form “freeing” a ghost would take. Should they destroy her, possibly freeing her soul, or simply free her from the chains and leave her in undeath?

Ancient and powerful, the spirit allowed the adventurers their moment of glory. They didn’t realize they were being tested even now, that their actions could lead to grisly death. Rather than break her bonds and leave, she wanted to see how they would act, if they could be worthy servants. Certainly more worthy than the Netherese mage laying dead at her feet.

As she became less willing to answer questions, they decided to break her chains and allow her to go free. They toppled the ruined pillars around her and the magical chains faded. Saharel wasted no time, casting a spell in dramatic fashion. The Blades had a very bad feeling about this…

The room burst with a pure white energy, blinding all.

When vision returned, the room around them was no longer in ruins. The ghost before them was now a healthy young woman, wearing a regal white dress, a tiara on her head. The halfling, the Netherese corpses, no signs of the struggle that had taken place were in sight.

“Now you will answer my questions, Sacred Blades. Four tests I have, tests of courage and wits, wisdom and skill. Four coins dispersed; four coins must be returned. Succeed and my question will be answered. Fail and you will not survive.”

Before they could protest, their vision faded again.


Test of Courage

Now they were outdoors under a clear blue sky. Trees dotted the landscape, squirrels and birds flitted around. Disoriented, the Blades gasped at a huge copper-colored dragon sleeping on a hill nearby. Two smaller drakes curled up next to it, snoring loudly.

The dragon’s hand was outstretched, a single large gold coin laying between the claws.

Kriv sized up the dragon, thinking it not much larger than the black they slew in the High Moor weeks ago. He could take it…and it was sleeping. They would have the advantage of surprise.

Fibbit took a less suicidal course, sneaking up to snatch the coin away. The halfling crept up slowly, not daring to wake the sleeping beasts. After taking the coin he dashed back to his companions. The dragons barely stirred.

Now they had the coin, but what were they supposed to do with it? Eventually they discovered the answer: they all touched the coin at the same time. Their vision faded once again.


Test of Skill

Stone walls surrounded the Blades. They were in some sort of dungeon room. A wooden door stood before them. Fibbit carefully checked for traps, unsure of which test they now faced. As he opened the door two disembodied voices said “You shall not have our coin!”

A 40-foot wide corridor stood before them, nearly a hundred feet long. At the end a wooden chest sat, padlocked. Their goal was obvious enough.

The floor before them contained several scorched corpses. Fibbit again searched for traps, finding six flame traps at regular intervals down the walls. A quick test revealed that any object (say, an arrow) coming within ten feet of a flame trap sets it off, causing a burst of fire to anything in the area. Further tests showed that these traps could recharge in a few moments, but the Blades could advance down the hallway by carefully triggering the traps then running past.

The control panel for the traps was next to the chest, far down the hall. Fibbit carefully made his way there, first activating flame traps then sprinting past them before they could recharge. Reaching the panel, he began the slow and careful process of disarming the traps. It would take several minutes to complete.

He did not have several minutes. Two ghosts emerged from the walls, spirits of those slain by the devious traps. They were visible for only a moment before charging into the bodies of Fibbit and Kriv. The halfling and dragonborn began stumbling around wildly while Raven looked on in shock. The elven ranger backed away, unsure what to do.

Fibbit abandoned his work on the trap and charged back to the room’s entrance, triggering several blasts of flame as he ran. By the third blast he was scorched to a crisp and dropped, motionless. Kriv proved more resilient and shook off the ghost’s control. Raven tried to keep the traps deactivated by firing arrows, and even tossing coins into their area. The traps would fire moments before one of the possessed Blades would run into them. As Fibbit fell and Kriv regained control, the two ghosts reformed – and gave Raven a target.

Fibbit rose slowly, saved from death by a magical necklace. They destroyed one ghost quickly. The other ghost repossessed Fibbit, once again running him into the deadly traps. This time the halfling was able to regain control before being blasted, and moved back to the control panel. He was able to disable the trap just as the final ghost was sent to eternal rest.

With the traps disarmed, only the chest remained. As Fibbit moved to pick the padlock, Raven noticed a faintly glowing rune – another trap. The halfling attempted to disarm this one, but his lack of any magical knowledge caused him to set it off instead. It blasted him with electricity, nearly slaying him. He carefully opened the chest and retrieved a coin, the object they came for. The Blades touched it and the room disappeared.


Test of Wisdom

Now in a cavern, the Blades gasped in shocked as they saw the next chest they needed. Surrounding it were beasts worse than dragons…the dreaded rust monsters. Two adults and a swarm of juvenile rusters were being fed bits of metal by a lizardman. They immediately noticed the intruders and came running for a meal.

The lizardman entangled Kriv in magical roots as the rusters charged towards their meal. Kriv wore plate armor, but it might as well be bacon armor to the rust monsters. Horrified, the dragonborn tried to get away and save his precious suit of plate.

Fibbit and Raven meanwhile attacked the lizardman, dropping him quickly. They then focused on the adult rusters, killing one then another. Only the swarm of juveniles remained. Kriv had an old weapon in hand, and it was nearly rusted away from striking the beasts, but he had managed to save his armor.

Fibbit quickly opened the chest (no traps?!) and retrieved the coin. Not wanting to spend another moment with the rust monsters, they quickly joined together and touched the coin, teleporting to the final test.


Test of Wit

The last test brought them to a floating island, a rock of land flying somewhere in the clouds. Around them raged a magical storm and other floating bits of land could be seen in the distance. At the island’s edge, no ground could be seen below. Kriv yelled out in fear, “The Elemental Chaos! How did we arrive on another plane?”

Their speck of land was partially on fire, and a massive fire elemental basked in the heat. The other side of the island was frozen solid and several smaller ice elementals danced around a large ice block.

In that ice block, larger than a horse, the last coin was visible.

Wasting no time, Fibbit tied himself off to the island in case he fell. The others did the same. Raven shot the fire elemental, intending it to get closer to the ice in hopes of melting the coin free. The elemental obliged, charging the group – and angering the ice creatures in the process. A three-way battle erupted, with Kriv attempting to keep the fire elemental near the ice block long enough to melt through. Meanwhile the ice creatures battered the fire beast, threatening to kill it too soon. Fibbit and Raven attacked the ice creatures, thinning their ranks.

After a fierce battle, the ice block melted and the coin slid to the ground. The Blades dashed for it with abandon, grasping it and leaving behind the Chaos plane.


Champions Found

Lady Saharel greeted them once again. Still looking youthful and alive, she congratulated them on success. She now offered them the true reward for assisting her – the answers to any questions they had, one each.

Raven asked of the greatest threat to the Sacred Blades, and she first replied with a summary of the threats they already knew: the two competing evil gods. Cyric and his Zhentarim ruled by undead. Shar and her Netherese ruled by archwizards. But then she revealed the greatest threat will be Asmodeus and his followers, some of which the Blades have already dealt with. The Blades pondered the meaning of this answer, remembering Draigdurroch’s tower and the devil destroyed at Umbraforge.

Fibbit then asked what would happen at the coming Darkhold. Which side would win? Saharel replied mysteriously that it was up to the Blades; they were the Kingmakers in this struggle and the fate of Darkhold was not yet written. The Blades discussed this answer. Not wanting to make a king of any evil god, they wondered aloud how best to strike their foes down at the same time.

Kriv then asked of allies. What force of good could best be called upon for aid, to battle the various evil forces at Darkhold and beyond? Who would answer a call for justice? Saharel replied without hesitation: that fate is written in the stars. The good nation of Elturgard will gladly respond to your aid.

Elturgard was a nation of paladins with an state religion of the good god Torm. They were so good it was aggravating to merchants – speak the wrong words or offend the sensibilities of the paladins and you could be banished from the land. Elturgard would be perfect but they were a long journey to the south.

Luckily Saharel was prepared for that, and before they could protest she wisked them on their way. As they faded from sight, the Lady of Spellgard hoped all the theatrics would lead her pawns in the right direction. She may not be able to leave the tower, but the Blades would do perfectly. She had seen it.


Triel

A field now surrounded the Blades and an astonished farmer asked who they were. They were on the outskirts of Triel, a small town near the capital of Elturgard. They began walking towards the city, intent on raising an army in short time and bringing war to the combined forces of Darkhold and Netheril…

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