A Vicious Umbra
Tendrils of black lightning lash out onto the party streaking up and over and around the metallic shields, burning holes into the group (and dropping Brysar in the process). Xun Fu seeing the opportunity of the red dragon laying splayed before him, he flurries blows in its general direction, but misses each one. Beebir considers his options at the front of the ship, staring into the face of the draconic visage; he notices that the form may not be "solid" and appears to ebb and flow from within the cloud. He discerns that this is some sort of draconic umbra in the storm, and the face is not actually Narizguun in the flesh. With this knowledge, the bard fires the arbalest in front of him into the face - it slides through the face to no effect (piercing immunity).
Eli, his hands still grasping the Seed, wills its elemental damage to fire, and sets to work freeing the neck of the ship from the grasp of the Umbra, cleaving into the claw and pouring the white hot light of oblivion into it. The right claw recoils in intense pain, bits of it burning away, and it releases the neck of the ship (that 10-foot wide path now a rickety 5-foot path).
The red wyrmling refuses to die, leaping back onto Xun Fu and digging his jaws into his leg. The copper slams against Gosef's Shield of Faith to no effect. The green dracolich, unable to retrieve its poisonous breath, instead takes a swipe at Riswynn (slams against the Shield of Faith), then digs a claw into Brysar's body (auto-crit, loses two death saves) in frustration, and bites into Riswynn. Seeing Brysar at death's door, Riswynn sends a healing word to him, bringing him back from the brink (he instinctively, and quite effectively, plays dead) and whips a thorn whip into the dracolich's big toe. Darrak triumphantly returns, burning another legendary resistance, then effectively stunning the creature...and forcing him to fall prone...onto Brysar (who is also knocked unconscious).
Elata uses her Spellcraft ability (part of the Sage class) to use Tethered Teleport. A lasso of energy wraps around Brysar's form, teleporting him to her side, where she sends a charged healing word to him. Notloc slams his hand into the sharp prongs at the cockpit, willingly giving life-force to the ship. Instantaneously, the ring of light around the ship re-ignites, pressing the cloud and the claws away from the ship; they seem to retract from the white light. Gosef hops up and disengages from his copper wyrmling, downing a greater healing potion. Alvus decides that now is the best time to fling alchemist fire at the draconic face. The flask explodes across the face as the green fire displaces some of the visage.
The seven orbs of black lightning begin to circle again, streaks of energy arching and crackling into the party, putting Alvus within an inch of his life. One orb, however, loses its charge on its own (critical failure), and crackles out of existence. The right claw then streaks across the head of the ship, slicing toward Eli, Alvus, and Beebir... But Eli intercepts the claw, using the Seed to slice off and eradicate the fingers of the claw, and it passes over his allies harmlessly before reforming the fingers within the cloud. Seizing the opportunity, Beebir uses Run Like Hell (Asset) to automatically sprint down the rickety neck of the ship, far away from the dangers at the front. The bard's escape was just in time, it seems, as the left claw slices across the head, cleaving into Alvus and Eli. As the rogue begins to fall, however, he engages a second Soulfire (Asset) to heal and maintain damage resistance for another few moments.
But then the terrifying visage opens its crackling maw at the front of the ship, and spews a wave of necrotic breath across half the deck. Notloc, Eli, Alvus, and Darrak all feel the pulsing undeath spread into them, robbing them of valuable life-force (and dropping their maximum hit points). Xun Fu continues his assault on the red wyrmling, at last connecting under its jaw and slicing it off, then takes the opportunity to drink a greater healing potion. Beebir, now near the cannons, takes the helm of one and fires a column of force through the Umbra's eye...which does not re-form.
The rumbling voice of the storm again fills their ears.
"I SHALL ADD YOU TO MY FLESH."
And in response, Eli lays-on-hands himself. :) (he was down to 1 HP)
"I CAN SMELL...MY SON...UPON YOU."
The party is now adequately creeped out.
The copper wyrmling, bored with the wizard, flaps over to Xun, biting and clawing. Brysar (!) rises at last, downs a healing potion, glaring at the prone dracolich, and fires a firebolt at the copper dragon...revealing its resistance to fire. Riswynn contemplates the degrees at which a dragon is not a beast, and ineffectively fires an arrow on the green one's hide. Darrak runs up to the dracolich, still prone on its face, and yells to the party, "If you have a potion of invincibility, drink it now!" and proceeds to punch it into stunned silence once more. Beebir suddenly feels a warm touch upon his body, and watches as his skin and clothes cover with a veiled layer of rock; he feels protected and solid as Elata casts Stoneskin upon him. Notloc at the wheel, he immediately downs his potion of invincibility, then attempts to blast the Umbra with a ray of light, but misses.
As the ray disappears into the cloud, the party shudders as another dry, sucking roar fills their ears. Wings shredded and broken, slices of flesh and exposed bone, the form of a white dracolich, massive and angry, appears in the cloud behind the ship. It rockets toward the tail...
In preparation for the coming hell, Alvus chugs a greater healing potion, then spends his third Asset, Scroll of Disintegrate, upon the Umbra...
And with the inspiration and luck of his allies behind him, Alvus holds up the scroll and a sickly green ray of light slinks through the sky toward the draconic visage. The scroll burns away, and for a moment, nothing happens. The storm shifts around them as time seems to slow....
They watch the smoking face of the Umbra, a huge draconic head, open its maw once more, necrotic breath licking the edges of its mouth...then scream as the spell detonates in the center of its face. The Umbra is split apart, ripped asunder, and the claws begin to rend endlessly into the ship as the Umbra enters its Death Spiral. The motes of black lightning supercharge, and rush inward toward the ship, punching holes through the hull and joints.
And as the claws mindlessly grind themselves into nothing against the ship, the party feels the relic begin to spin, as one wing detaches, flung into the abyss below, and they, too, enter a spiral...
A Battle Beyond The Known World
The whine of grinding metal amidst dark clouds. The party holds on as best they can, but a quick glance bow side tells them that the head, and whoever was on it, is no longer attached to the ship.
As pieces fly off, the Owls can hear on the edge of their senses...water. A rush of wind upon leaves. There is indeed something below them.
Chaos. One by one, the Owls are ripped from the safety of the Esper, flung into the sky below. Some have time to drink a Skybridger...others do not.
Down below, an island dotted with trees and boulders sits serene on the water. A rush of sea breeze gently shifts the leaves under a fresh snowfall. It is a calming sight.
Birds flee as a gathering of trees and rocks are smashed apart and scattered to the four winds. In their smoking wake lies a shattered airship, one wing still attached, headless and without flight, its three rings extinguished.
A deep bass of an impact leaves a crater in a gathering of rocks as the form of Eli lands on his back, stunned and alive. Alvus hits next, floating instead down into the trees (Skybridger).
Brysar also floats down, followed by Darrak, while Elata smashes into the earth, taking a tree with her. An aggravated groan from the crater indicates that she is conscious.
Gosef slams into trees and lies there unmoving. Notloc becomes a dwarven lightning bolt, splitting a poor, gnarled tree down the middle with his invincible body, with Riswynn floating down to meet him. Xun Fu rapidly approaches hard ground and instead engages Instant Transmission (Asset) to teleport to the forest floor, taking no bodily damage. Beebir, quick to drink his Skybridger, floats down next to Gosef's broken body.
Before the party can sound off, the stunned body of a green dracolich sings out of the sky and splatters into a thousand horrible pieces upon the ship's deck. But a moment later, a small copper wyrmling flaps down and takes a perch in the gore.
A rumble of teeth and rocks at the emanating from the edge of the valley turns the Owls' attention. A black mist begins to flow out from beyond a large ditch. The ground shakes with heavy impacts as they watch black-scaled claws slice through the earth and stone like oil, crackling green and purple smoke from between the broken flaps of scale and skin. Deep electric blue eyes glare at them through the mist, as the sharp, skeletal black wings stretch out behind them. There, rising slowly from the mist of undeath, stands Narizguun, The Devourer of the Divine.
"WELCOME, INSECTS. I LOOK FORWARD TO DEVOURING YOUR ESSENCE."
And with that, the final battle begins...
Riswynn opens up with a healing word to Eli, and begins to move toward the wreckage of the ship, keeping an eye on the copper wyrmling.
Narizguun, from his perch upon the rocks, stretches his wings out further. The Owls watch as their six pronged tips begin to glow with black lightning, lashing out at Darrak (miss), Brysar (hit), Alvus (crit), Xun (hit), Beebir (miss), and Notloc (hit). Brysar and Xun fall immediately. "EXCELLENT. A SEA OF CORPSES TO RISE AS MY OWN."
Brysar once again begins to creep toward death's door, but Darrak force feeds another healing potion into him, then clicks his Greaves of Haste and does the same for Xun Fu, ordering them when they awaken to drink their potions of invincibility. Beebir does his best cleric impression and casts cure wounds on Gosef and a healing word on himself, then scrambles up the side of the ship. Xun Fu, now awake, uses his Wholeness of Body, then drinks his invincibility potion. Alvus, still hurting, takes his last potion for himself, then dives into the bushes and disappears from sight. Eli rises, creaking in places he didn't know he could, downs a superior healing potion, and his potion of invincibility, then begins his slow walk toward the dragon lord.
Gosef, now conscious, downs his own potion of invincibility and attempts to hide behind a tree...by hugging it. Meanwhile, on the ship's deck, Beebir winces at the angry roar of the copper dragon as it moves to bite him...but Riswynn interrupts with a devastating thorn whip that severs the copper head, pulling the body down off the deck, and leaving the lifeless head at Beebir's shaking feet. Riswynn then proceeds to climb onto the deck and sends another healing word to Beebir.
Narizguun towers above the group, surveying his new prey with vicious intent. He flexes his wings and glides over above Elata, Alvus, Xun, and Brysar, unleashing a torrent of necrotic breath upon them. Brysar has had a rough time, and falls unconscious again, along with Elata, and begins fighting for his life again. Darrak, unable to perceive who is down in the battle, instead hurls his blink-forward dagger at the deck of the ship, propelling forward to meet it, and slams his hand into the sharp prongs on the console. The monk yelps a bit as the prongs dig in deep and pull blood from him, but the ring of white light powers on around the body of the broken ship; Darrak then, finally, drinks his own potion. Notloc rises and slams an ice storm upon the form of the dragon (burns a Legendary Resistance) while Beebir sends yet another healing word to Brysar, then slams down HIS potion.
As Xun Fu begins to charge toward the dragon, Narizguun's long tail lances out, slicing into his side. Xun Fu rolls with the attack, sliding in to go toe to toe with the dragon lord. He unleashes his two attacks, a flurry of blows, and his Wrath of the Gods (Asset) to attack a total of EIGHT times, connecting on four of them, punching holes in the dense scales of The Devourer.
With the dragon distracted, Alvus sprints toward the ship, as Eli engages his Ring of Enlargement and casts Protection from Evil on himself, growing large and continuing his tread toward the dragon lord. He calls up to its massive form as he brandishes the Seed, "I have a feeling there's going to be a family reunion!"
"I LOOK FORWARD TO IT." The dragon's claws suddenly blur into view, but are unable to penetrate Eli's protective aura...for now.
As Elata's Magnus pumps her body with magical healing energy, Gosef takes stock of his options. With his allies finally getting some footing against this thing, he utters to himself, "Well, can't go wrong with Magic Missile" as tiny bolts of force slam into Narizguun's chest. He looks down at a few cracked scales. "HMM. SOMETHING TICKLED ME..."
Riswynn, now on the ship, takes aim with a cannon and fires. A column of force slams into Narizguun's chest as he roars a challenge to the insects beginning to swarm him. The dragon proceeds to claw, bite, and slice the insignificant creatures on the ground. Eli watches as life is taken from the half-orc monk, and swings true with the Seed, the blade lengthening another two feet and burning a nearly blinding hot white. The paladin struggles to control the blade as it burns into Narizguun's body, carving off huge chunks of flesh...and obliterating them. The pain is not lost on the dragon lord, and he is stricken by this grievous wound, now turning all of his murderous intent upon the dragonborn. He drops Xun's form from his mouth, stomping once with a twist for good measure, then swings a flurry of claws, teeth, and tail toward the wielder of the seed, slicing and cutting, but unable to fell him.
Breath returns to Brysar and he sprints toward the ship, casting Mirror Image on himself. Darrak scans the area for Elata, spotting her about 60 feet from him, black tendrils of necrotic energy still wafting up from her form. He Dimension Doors through his cloak to her and pours a supreme healing potion down her throat. As air once again fills her lungs, "...Ow." and through her Magnus casts invulnerability on herself. Satisfied with her state, he uses his hasted action to quaff a Soulbrew to replenish a little Ki, then sprints to help Eli with the dragon. Notloc, wielding his Pale Wing scope, attempts to spy any magical qualities on the dragon lord - and is met with psychic interference, a massive headache, and a realization that ALL OF HIM contains intense magical power. On a whim, he casts Dispel Magic, but the dragon's own power counters it. Instead, he sends another healing word out to Xun as he charges toward Narizguun.
Beebir, realizing that the brazer of light is now lit, he plunges his hand into the apparatus...and realizes too late that he may not fully understand how it works, as the console is blown apart (the Conduit Key blasted out of its sheath) and Beebir is flung back against the main mast. Seething with force damage, the bard at last inspires Brysar (to not die), and begins to saunter back to the console. Xun Fu, healed and empowered, kips up to his feet and unleashes another four strikes upon the dragon, unable to find purchase, as the dragon ducks under another barrage of force from the ship's cannons (Alvus).
Growing frustrated that these ants cannot lay down and die with dignity, Narizguun beats his wings outward. The force of the wings fling Xun Fu and Darrak away, knocking them prone, while Eli stands and takes it, unmoving. The dragonborn responds in kind, the blade beginning to glow brighter than the sun. It continues to carve away slices of undead flesh and scales faster than they can regenerate. "I TIRE OF YOU AND THAT CURSED SWORD. BE GONE, INSECT!"
Eli suddenly feels a pulling sensation, his world becoming fragmented as Banishment attempts to take hold, but the sigil of Bahamut brightens and he resists the spell. So the dragon instead casts Disintegrate unto the dragonborn, watching his form begin to disperse to dust...before a roar, strong and loud, emanates from within him, and the save is made. Narizguun growls angrily.
Elata, standing and aware of the fight, rushes out of the woods and places both hands onto Xun Fu, casting Heal. Seeing life return to him, "Now get up and punch that dragon in the face, please."
"I plan on it." Xun sits up and takes stock of how far he was thrown.
Gosef, now dedicated to the idea, unleashes another torrent of magic missiles upon Narizguun's face. Between falling scales, he call out toward the caster. "I SHALL ENJOY RIPPING THE FLESH FROM YOUR BONES."
Seeing that Conduit Key is only partially out of its sheath, dislodged, Riswynn slides the blade back into the sheath, the ring of fire igniting alongside the ring of light. With the steering wheel shattered, she looks around for another option. In a moment of bravery, she experiments with moving her hand toward the ring of fire - it expands as her hand approaches, and shrinks when it retracts. Without hesitation, she pushes her hand into the ring. It widens to let her hand through, then shrinks to form a bracelet around her wrist and tethering her arm to the ship. Before she can pull away, her vision is wreathed in flame and suddenly she can well above the ship, looking at the battle progressing in slow motion as if through a red lens. Riswynn feels, at least for now, that she and the ring are acting as a unified entity, and she wills it to fire upon the dragon lord. As the beam of fire slams into the dragon, her vision also follows the impact across his body...and then she back on the bridge, her arm still tethered to the ship.
Narizguun begins ferociously attacking Eli, who uses his Run Like Hell (Asset) after the first bite, then glides over to Darrak and begins slicing into him instead. The monk falls unconscious from the barrage.
Brysar pokes his head out of a tree and suddenly begins singing in draconic, "It's the end of the world as we know it..." before quickening two lightning bolts toward the vicious dragon. The arcs of energy crackle across his form to little effect, before the creature steps on Darrak and twists. Picking his claw up, Narizguun watches the artifact around Darrak's neck pulse and the wounds inflicted heal. With a grunt of curiosity, the dragon picks him up, puts him in his mouth, and begins chewing...
Tensions begin to rise as Beebir and Alvus begin engaging the ship's defenses, Alvus finally hitting with his cannon fire. The blast knocks chunks off of the dragon's form, and it turns its sights to the ship, lifting off and slamming back down onto the deck. Narizguun looms above the three ants below, opting to swallow his food before crushing them all. "HI THERE." Riswynn decides that NOW might be the best time to drink her potion...as she reaches into the wheel of light.
The dark form of Narizguun, the Devourer of the Divine, eclipses the sun above the broken Esper ship. Dark clouds begin to roll in as the storm grows wild above him. "I AM THE EYE. I AM THE STORM. I. AM. YOUR. ...WHAT?"
And the self-proclaimed dragon lord is caught off guard by a ring of white light pressing into his form, an arc created by the ship's engine and powered by Riswynn's will. It cleaves through his body, burning through his wings, and slicing through his neck. He roars in pain; a horrible, shrieking sound that shakes the earth and shatters the surrounding stone. The Esper's energy presses further in...and stops, a flash of necrotic energy, the creature's heart, staving it from death.
Narizguun's words are desperate and angry. "I WILL RETURN! I HAVE RETURNED A THOUSAND TIMES OVER, AND I SHALL RETURN A THOUSAND MORE! I AM THE UNKILLABLE, THE UNYIELDING, THE DEVOURER OF ALL WHO CLAIM LIFE!" And though, for now, Riswynn holds him in place, she cannot kill him.
Still with so many feet to go, Eli feels a pull from the Seed; a realization. It was once given to him; perhaps he could send it to another...
And there, on the deck of Skypiercer, Alvus Thorne draws his blades and faces down a dragon, unsure of his own survival. But as he stands, time slows, and all become aware of a change in the rogue's form. A white wing and a black wing, feathered and magnificent, now protrude out from Alvus' back, as his hand reaches back to a hilt between the wings, and he draws a long, ruby red blade. The blade begins as a short sword, but as the seconds tick by, it grows longer and longer. With his allies behind him, and Riswynn continuing to drill the light into its form, Alvus says, "You're not coming back at all." and drives the blade into the dark, pulsating undead heart of the lich.
Narizguun...stops. He doesn't burn or fall to ash. He doesn't break apart. He simply ceases...existing. Piece by piece, he falls away, like bits of reality being peeled off. Each shred blinking out of time, energy, and space. In a few short moments, Narizguun is gone.
And in his place, with a satisfying thud and a grunt, is a Darrak.
Alvus instinctually sheathes his sword, the feathers of his wings shedding into a pile onto Darrak, then looks up toward the clearing horizon. Though the storm has left, there is still lightning. A singular streak, etching along the skyline, and rapidly approaching the island. Notloc's eyes go wide, "Incoming!"
As the arc gleams closer, it looks as if something is "running" along the lightning. A creature, tourmaline and pewter, armored from head to toe, and running on four legs. It is unmistakably feline, lightning and energy coursing around its form. The arc suddenly snaps downward toward the ship's hull...and Darrak's form.
With a soft clatter of metal on metal, this armored electric panther paws onto the deck, immediately padding over to Darrak, who embraces one of the creature's paws exclaiming, "Anai'Stra!" While they play, others recognize the form of one of the Forgotten Gods, trapped in a strange amber prison deep inside the Underdark (with the Owls' help, he was freed). Riswynn, exhausted and confused, instead points to Anai, "KITTY!"
Anai does not play long, instead padding over to the console and surveying the damage to the ship. Using his electric currents and magnetism, he begins to vibrate the hull. The party is confused at first, then must dodge out of the way of various parts, pieces, knobs, screws, and other odds and ends as they are pulled back to the ship...and repaired. Piece by piece, Anai calls the ship back together, using his own lightning to ignite the third ring. Without warning, the ship begins to rise, and the Owls quickly take the hint and lift off with The Weavemaster, flying back toward Tidespear Keep and the continent of Erena. Heroes, and alive...
Session close: 1:15am
Season 1 Epilogue to follow...