We all grabbed hands and I cast another Teleport to drop us right back into the air over Malthalus. Muad Ter’thalas was still pressed against the wall, a look of shock – I take great pleasure in that – on his face. The Ascendeds were flying all over and the kobolds were shrieking like crazy. I pointed at Muad and said, “There!”
Adric released an Invisibility Purge and as soon as they appeared they started to be noticed. Rock let loose arrows from his hiding place and spells started going off left and right. Mytheria dropped his elven disguise and took his full form, that of an enormous golden dragon. The Concordant Killers moved to protect Muad and we pulled back onto the enormous – 75 or so feet to a side – slab of glowing stone on which the form of Malthalus lay limp and snoring. Na’san appeared there, too, and started working a spell on Malthalus. Muad and his bodyguards charged us and out of somewhere a stone half-sphere formed around us to lock out the kobolds and Ascendeds. The main players were all squared off now, on the dais, and Na’san had worked some magic to wake Malthalus again.
Adric tried to banish the Concordant Killers but it only worked on one. Badl turned into an enormous bear and went for Muad. Rock went after the remaining Concordant Killer. Malthalus staggered to her feet and Mytheria charged her, locking the two dragons in fierce battle. Trover and I set off spells in every direction and Adric threw open one of the portable holds and drew the Font from it. Elminster had said it would know its master and so we hoped against hope that it would tear him free.
Muad’s eyes settled on the Font and both he and it were surrounded with white, hot energy. We could see a pair of ghostly hands – smoking from the energy surrounded Muad – peel back with a scream and suddenly Muad was standing thirty feet away with one hand on the Font. There was a little glowing gate where Muad had been and Azrael appeared in it, grinning. Badl rounded on him and they fought while Muad bellowed, “Show me the elf! Show me the Fae’rath!” and sent his own spells into the mix.
Azrael died almost immediately from Dyson and Badl alone.
A moment later, a new form appeared: a tall, gaunt, scar-laiden man with blue skin and a shock of white hair, odd wrappings billowing slightly from a breeze though there was no wind. He carried a scythe and both Trover and Dyson cried out, “Venture!”
“He’s our friend,” Trover called, “BOB’s taken him over!”
Muad lifted a finger and pointed at Venture and cried, “DISINTEGRATE!” and a beam of red death shot from his hand. Venture scowled and spun the scythe with both hands and – I swear to you, I was there, I saw it – batted the spell with the blade and sent it back on Muad. Only seconds after being freed from BOB’s control, Muad Ter’thalas was turned to dust by his own spell. Glittering metal goods and clothing fell out of the air and the Font, which had floated beside him, shuddered for a moment and then crashed to the floor.
A single shard of the Font’s exterior, roughly the size and shape of a dagger blade, was punched out by the impact and spun across the floor.
The Font began to hum.
Adric grabbed his holy symbol and cast Exorcism on Venture and another shaft of white light burned BOB’s hands. Venture staggered forward, freed from BOB’s control and looking around in confusion. He must be a warrior, however, because it was only a moment before he’d found his footing and looked back at the portal and raised that scythe high.
The dwarf – all armor and dodge and quick reflexes – appeared in the portal. Venture raised his scythe and cried out, “BLOOD FOR SEKMET!” and charged. Badl – by now a bear the size of either of the ancient dragons on the dais with us – reared on his hind legs and bellowed and he and Venture and Dyson all fell on the dwarf as one.
Adric turned his attentions on Rock, fighting the Concordant Killer all on his own, and healed him almost entirely with a single spell. I was slinging spells at Malthalus, trying to chip away at her enormous form with orbs of sound and electricity and Mytheria was locked in a fierce fight with her, the two of them slashing and biting and hammering at one another as great rivulets of their blood ran down the dais and over the edge. Malthalus raised one claw towards the ceiling of the dome and cast a Disintegrate on it so that the Ascendeds would have a way in and I cast, the next moment, a Sonic Fog over and around the hole to slow them down, then put another right under it to slow them further. Trover was singing and casting spells and singing again.
The noise in that sphere – the shouting and cries and groans and tearing flesh and clashing weapons and spellwords and oaths and curses – was enormous and under it all I could hear the hum of the Font.
It was getting louder.
Light was starting to shine from the hole on one side.
Adric had noticed it, too, so he grabbed his holy symbol once again and I heard him praying under his breath. In a flash the Font was gone – but we could still hear it humming, muffled, through the portal into the extra-dimensional space where BOB kept his body and his stable, and the light from that portal grew a little brighter.
Eventually I landed the fatal orb on Malthalus and she fell in a great heap. Na’san was trying to help her but he was like a mosquito to Mytheria and got about as much attention. The gold dragon turned on the Concordant Killer and Adric set off more healing spells that closed the wounds on Rock and Mytheria and even Trover and me and Adric himself and, sure enough, Badl and Dyson and Venture.
We looked that way, now, and Badl had wrapped himself – a bear twenty feet on any side – around the tiny, struggling dwarf. With a final groan and a sick crunch we watched Badl crush the dwarf like an egg. Blood and gore fountained from what few openings there were in the dwarf’s armor and Badl roared in triumph.
We paused a moment, watching that portal, knowing BOB now had only one form left: the Fae’rath.
We were distracted, though, by Malthalus staggering to her feet, blood still running out of open wounds, scales a little dimmer, shadowy wisps of magic flowing around her. I still had Greater Arcane Sight active and so it was that I saw the magic as it took effect: Malthalus had just risen from the dead as a dracolich.
She called a taunting challenge at Mytheria and he turned away from the Concordant Killer to charge her again and I started casting more spells. Na’san still worked to help her but again he was nothing compared to the two of them. We all turned our attention back to the portal and this time when it opened to let the Fae’rath out we could clearly see BOB wrapped around him, whispering endlessly into the Fae’rath’s ear, the light coming out of that extra-dimensional space was almost blinding and the hum of the damaged Font was even louder than the battle.
The Fae’rath put up a fight, certainly, but as Dyson and Badl and Venture dodged and moved in Trover and I were casting spells like crazy. The Fae’rath dropped a force cage around Trover and Adric so that Adric couldn’t heal them but Adric got off another Exorcism so that the Fae’rath staggered forward, shaking his head, and the body of BOB was all BOB had left, straining against a barrier between his space and ours as though fighting to come through it.
Trover poked one finger through the bars of the force cage and I heard him say, “Orb of Force!” A faint ripple of light shot from his finger and walloped BOB as the others cut deep wounds into him and his tiny, spindly, grey body very simply exploded from the impact.
I fired another spell at Malthalus causing her to die – again – with Na’san under her massive bulk so that when she slumped to the floor she crushed him beneath her.
Light still spilled from the open portal and the Concordant Killer lowered his weapon. “My contract is finished,” he pronounced and he was gone in a flash.
Out of the corner of my eye I saw the last remaining gem in the ring of wishes Trover carried went out. There was a muffled shatter and I could see the magic go off: someone, sometime, long before Trover and Dyson and their friends had found that ring, had wished that Malthalus phylactery would shatter so that she would permanently die. So, that’s what that wish had been.
We regrouped and looked around. The light from the portal had started to pulse and strobe so that beams of light and beams of darkness issued forth. “It’s all the power of a god,” Badl said, “Both creative and destructive.”
“We,” I replied, “Are getting the fuck out of here.”
We were two minutes two late. The barrier between BOB’s dimension and our world was torn down and what I can only refer to as God Goop washed out, shooting light and dark everywhere. A beam of darkness – negative energy, I could tell, and the light was positive – struck Trover. Another beam, this one of light, struck Adric and then the spot where Dyson would have been if he hadn’t simply not been standing there when it moved across his path.
That man could dodge an enchanted arrow.
Two beams began to converge on me, then, trapped between them. In a moment I could tell the dark one would get to me first and as it did I reached into the gears of the universe and set of my Moment of Prescience spell and with my will forced the negative energy ray to stop and let the positive one wash over me. It burned, blinding bright even with my eyes closed.
“Greebo!” I panted a moment later, “Get me that shard of the Font!” Rock crammed the things dropped by Muad and Azrael and the dwarf into a portable hole and we ran back together at the center of the dais.
We all grabbed hands – including Venture and the Fae’rath – and I cried out, “Teleport!” and we reappeared next to the gate into the land of the dead. Trover both looked ashen and wilted, but I positively glowed. Adric could barely lift his backpack. We ran through the gate together even as the pulsing light of the mindless god once trapped inside the Font began to flicker around the far end of the cavern.
We appeared in the land of the dead, safe at last, Venture and Dyson and Trover greeting one another and talking a mile a minute. Adric summoned up his strength to cast Restoration spells on himself and Trover and they both recovered immediately.
“Whitten, you look… different,” Rock said. I looked down at my hands, legs, etc., making sure nothing had changed. “No,” Rock said, “You look… prettier.”
And that, my friends, is why one should always jump in front of a positive energy ray.
(Author’s Note: Whitten gained 5 Charima in return for losing 5 Intelligence. This is the best thing that could ever happen to a Sorcerer. Adric lost a bunch of Strength in return for a bunch of Wisdom, also great for a priest.)
“Plane Shift: Elventree,” Adric intoned and the world was torn away for a moment and then we landed in the grass outside our beloved hometown. I made for the tree and the shop to start examining goods while Adric beat a path to the temple of Mystra to see if Elminster were still there so that we could report what had happened.
I put the ruby monocle over my right eye and cast Analyze Dwoemer reading off the abilities of all the gear we’d taken from the forms of BOB we hadn’t been able to rescue. Badl and Dyson and Trover and Rock and the Fae’rath set to talking immediately. I wrote down everything – a bunch of belts that enhanced every ability the wearer had (+4 to all stats), some armor, some weapons, some scrolls, a book of strength, a book of intelligence – Adric and I of course made use of them to undo the price of our enhancements by the positive energy beams, in later days – and various these-and-thats.
And then I went upstairs and went to bed. It had been a very long day.