The Bigger They Are

We knew by now that it was almost certain that Tiamat was somehow going to be summoned into the city to try to defend it from Mulhorand’s assault and that Azrael/BOB was going to take advantage of this to kill her and leave her seat vacant as a goddess. Two quick Sendings later, we had alerted Berol that the god of the dead might want someone on-hand to observe the death of a deity and we’d alerted Mytheria, the ancient gold dragon we’d met outside the Anauroch Desert/Netherese Empire, to the events we believed were about to unfold. Mytheria responded immediately – from right behind us, teleporting without a second’s hesitation. “Let’s get this show started,” he said, and off we went.

There is a huge temple to Tiamat at the center of the city, where she killed their old god – whoever he was – and where the fires lit by their fight still burn over a decade later. Trevor and Rock and Dyson snuck ahead to scout out the place, getting into the temple and reporting back telepathically that there was a huge avatar of Tiamat that had been constructed and partially covered in dragon scales – gee, wonder where they got those – and there were piles of dead bodies and chanting priests around the base of it. Knowing we would have to act quickly if we were to disrupt the summoning, we each unleashed whatever we could on the frame of the avatar; area-of-effect magic went off across its faces and the front of its “body” and even though parts of it fell apart, the high priest leading the incantations sacrificed himself underneath it and what had one instant been little more than a shoddy approximation moved with life, took substantial form and turned into… Her.

I can’t describe a goddess, even an ugly one; though that’s a part of it, I suppose, that she wasn’t ugly. She was not just a dragon or a lot of dragons or even a lot of dragons mashed together, she was Dragon. She was everything terrible and horrifying about them. Her form filled the temple and she wore one head for every color and type of chromatic known in the world. She shook off what tiny pin-pricks we’d done to her form before she inhabited it and then turned to kill any remaining priests with a single swipe of her various limbs. YOU SUMMONED ME TOO SOON, she bellowed. I don’t know why, I don’t get that part, but the sight of her blew right through whatever protection from fear and terror had been bestowed by breakfast that morning and left most of us screaming and running in fear.

Fleeing outside, she followed after us though not with us as her focus in particular. Instead she simply turned on anyone and everyone in sight, killing, eating, smashing. Free of the confines of the temple she took to the air and scanned the city for a foe to fight. Six hundred feet or so to north, we knew, was Azrael. He stood atop a roof with his bow ready to let the arrow fly. On the southern edge of the city, Mulhorand had toppled the walls and was easily crushing what remained of the Untherian defenses. Blue dragons, tamed for use as mounts by the elite Untherian guards, were falling from the sky left and right.

Azrael bellowed a challenge and Tiamat turned, ignoring the invasion, soaring towards him.

I noticed, flying by, that a priest of Kelimvor ran out onto the roof of a building, threw on his holy symbol and produced one of their holy books and began to chant.

Gates began opening all over the city and Ascendeds began to pour out, soldiers and casters, and among them many squads equipped with the wingless, mutilated dragons they raise and use as weapons of war.

Tiamat paid none of this any heed, even as we flew alongside her and cried out that she listen to us. Azrael pulled back the string on his bow, loosed the arrow, and it struck Tiamat in the chest. She plummeted to the ground, buildings collapsing from the force of her fall.

Ascendeds surged in around her as she stood again and, unable to fly, let loose with all her might and batted them away like flies to continue her approach towards Azrael. Dyson and Rock were moving as fast as they could to get to Azrael but Tiamat was even faster. Badl had swooped around trying to find the arrow itself but couldn’t, lost as it was between the giant plates of scales covering her body. I tried to cry out to her again but as she took the last few steps towards Azrael he flickered and Alex appeared in his place.

The halfling reached into one pocket and came out with a handful of pink dust – so familiar to us, given it was Alex we’d once lowered into one of the dispensers in the tomb of Stormcloud, the dust having been used to keep him asleep for a few thousand years while his body wasted away and died – and with a single puff the halfling thief blew the powder right into Tiamat’s face.

She immediately collapsed, unconscious, across a city block.

Dyson and Rock arrived and between the two of them sliced Alex to pieces – literally – in the blink of an eye. Rock reported, later, that in the moment he died it seemed that Alex shifted his expression to one of peace.

It was too late, though. The streets teemed with Ascendeds and they launched harpoons or something like them into her hide and then pulled them back out so that Tiamat bled from a thousand open wounds at once. Her form shuddered briefly and that was that. The spark was gone. A cry went up from the Ascendeds and without another thought they reopened their Gates and thousands of them turned around and marched right back out of the city.

Dyson, Rock and Mytheria barely took a moment to tell us they were following the Ascendeds before they were through, themselves, and gone. Badl announced he was retiring to his grove to commune with his god. Adric cast Word of Recall to get back to Elventree and I cracked open my bags, produced a scroll of Greater Teleport and Trevor and I left for the same destination with Alex and his belongings. Adric, we knew, had taken off for the temple of Mystra to try to get them to study the Mother’s Heart. I showed Trevor to a guest room, marched into the storefront and notified the staff that we would need coffee in two hours. Then I went out onto the front yard and laid down in the sun and got what sleep I could after watching a goddess die.

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