The End of Eternity: LoF Session LVIII
The glow of the fires glinted brilliantly on the items and weapons Artel had forged in the absence of the party of foreigners. Each now was gifted and outfitted with glorious, extraordinary items befitting their abilities. Artel stood in momentary silence with his arms crossed as if assessing each of his crafted pieces of their weight and merit. He grinned solemnly at the sacrifice of his beliefs and the adoption of the karmic virtue of the party from Kelmarane, and believed their mission to defeat and undo the taint of Jhavul would be his only solace to return to his eldest trade. The green sliver of maelstrom grew to a gash noting time was of the essence, grimly he spoke, “Perhaps when you seek out Jhavul in battle, it will not be without hope.” The Winds of Fate rolled outward across the seas to The Isle of Naught to ring in a time of returned company, the stone Covenant aboard the felucca heavy with the weight of its unbreakable seal.
The dream-ship again materialized mist-like and vaporous along the lapping waters with the glass bottles uncorking. It embarked, the sails full with the wind, the changed egg in the hand of the boatman again made his eyes glean emerald and redirected his course to the Isle. Again, the sun grew low and beyond the edge of Kakishon. Unnatural and disconcerting, darkness fell. Blackness and vast ocean filled the space in every direction as the horizon drew closer. The currents picked up speed. In his recollection of the fall toward nothingness, Ce-tan with a wave of his hand and swoop of his arm brought to life a team of wispen black and gray stallions. The black eyed mares stood eager and stamped the ground with their slight translucent hooves making no sound, the manes whipped of grayed fire in wind, breaths spurred with smoke and otherworldly things, and tied to them of a spectral bit and bridle an elephantine war chariot of the same conjured material. The passengers aboard the dreaming ship boarded the airy chariot, whose weight was of no consequence to the smoke-like conjured stallions, and the ship whispered back into the bottle. Without fear, the team was edged onward off the edge of the world and sped downward to the abyss of unused material. Blackness surrounded the eyes and the chariot dampened the distance of the fall. As before, the iridescent and misty vapor saturated to a thickness, a resistance. As the air became stifling and that ground became hard enough like a starting quicksand, Ce-tan uncorked the dreamship and positioned the chariot to continue on the journey way while the vessel was boarded. With light burning from his sword, Zhakmed tried to push his blessings further to see our way toward the Isle, however, his talents did little to pierce the quintessence of ether-colloid. In the nearness of darkness, the ethereal marauders bleated and gnarled and growled. The mirage-ridden green light burned as a beacon in the unknown distance. The proteans tasted the awful and binding covenant contract seething an unknown axioma along the boat and into the chaotic furls of an endless veil. Their ambassador, fearful and angered, hissed a death cry for oblivion.
A fog-ridden pink tentacle grasped the boatman and wrenched the construct backward to the edge of the aftcastle with ease. Faharid charged forward to the aftcastle in pursuit and slashed in desperation, his skills set to free the bronze helmsman. The colloid wastes bleated with the dismal sound of swarms of marauders as they charged from the nothingness. A simple incantation and Kalifeed placed a wind underfoot of all his friends which ensured they all did not plummet into the morass and become unable to defend themselves. A beast of the worst seas, though roughly in the shape of a squid the city of a market bazaar, had been bred of pure chaos. Its essence undoes “what-is” for “what-ever shall be”. Its touch was to force those of substance to the ever changing that proteans so favor. The first of its pink hued tentacles had been seen before as one to place the boatman upon the boat when the wooden ship from the hostel first was originally wrecked by the stone-skinned whale. And then with its mighty cupped club, it wrenched the Brassman off the boat and astern as it erupted another tentacle from the sea of nothing and struck Faharid so fiercely it pulled upon the man’s personal reality, though he never lost himself to change.
With a start and of the swiftest runners of all the deserts, Khatovar ran astern after the boatman and unafraid of the dangers that lay in the thick fogs surrounding the boatman and beast alike. As he arrived closer, the chaos beast loomed hulking and vicious, splaying its wildly flailing arms and tentacles; its arms as thick as wagon wheels, its tentacles as long at a caravan. Its body as big as the Vaults of Katepesh. The changeling proteans bore down rays of disorder, focusing on Ce-tan causing him to change. Ah! But the Winds of Fate intervened for the Ifreeti-blooded man as he found this change unfit for a man of his stature and he too did shuck off the grasp of the proteans. His reddened skin and arms and legs snapped back into his muscle and sinew, and he became renewed with his will for stability. Unfettered he, in turn, bolstered the rest with the fleetness of the mercurial sands and did wind time around his companions. They moved with greater need; a greater haste. They all drove and dodged and feel the marauders one by one as the swarms came erstwhile mindful of the swings of the squid beast within the dark fogs.
Faharid as graceful and a furious as a feral ocelot strode backward and rode a tentacle with his blade, cutting down its length with awful gruesomeness as he ran, spinning his sword in a scythe like dance. The beast of chaos wrenched and slapped wreaked havoc across itself and the ship. As the blade flew deeper into cuts upon arm and tentacles Faharid dodged, Khatovar did not. The warrior fell into a stupor as the changes became immediate. His skin and bones and muscle became foreign though his mind did not leave him as ice in the desert sun. The screamed words from the Imentesh filled the din of battle. Lahapraset cast her focused efforts, “CHANGE!” and Zahir, the brass bound genie felt himself under the effect of a malady which had master bolstered against. Enraged, Ce-tan pulled forth from the Plane of Fire a hellacious area of flame and scorch with an empowered might enhanced by wrath. Though in an afflicted state, Zahir continued to stave off marauders with his spear. The continued efforts of Dillex dual scimitars and her entourage that slashed voraciously at the injured marauders, replenished the unused materials below the drifting boat. Kalifeed as well was touched by the beast and became amorphous and swept up by a tentacle. Khatovar unfamiliar with his new form hit was unable to fight off the massive beast despite his known prowess. Once more the Imentesh advanced and again Ce-tan bolstered against their whims and with resolution despite his new form, a weary Kalifeed brewed underneath his breast a limitless concentration and cast gout of flame from the abyss to the heavens striking the beast in his body, burning with a wholesome divinity. The dance of swords continued, striking and striking and striking. Faharid cut rapidly and beautifully like an artist of bloodied calligraphy and decorated the flailing beast in war-like crimson sweeps. Slow and methodical in precision, he carved and cleaved and riposted; his sword born from the cloud metal sang in overture over the corps-a-corps. He continued relentlessly (his companions were gripped and grappled) and concentrated (as the holy flame plumed and pillared upon the beast’s body) as his unique gavotte twisted in time, his feet stepping upward and lively and deftly along with his bladesong. Four cuts… eight cuts… sixteen cuts… each slash a punctuated stipple of odd musical rests, each parry a crescendo, his rate increased; thirty-two… sixty-four… seventy-six… and with a final aplomb he stood arm outstretched from follow-through, sword extended and curved like a grayed fang from a magical behemoth, one hundred and one slices had fallen like a cloud upon the valley; a misty rain from all directions from the quick and human hurricane.
The beast, though made of all other world and changeling things, was unable to reform. Its tentacles and arms and odd muscles felt apart, hewn from themselves and slumped lackadaisically. Kalifeed reformed into himself as the beast fell. Khatovar fell from its once merciless and squeezing grasp in breathy gasps for air and dove forward as the Brass Boatman fell as well and began to sink. The swarmed marauders continued to descend upon the boat in mass, as Lahapraset stepped backward amid the fog and disappearing into the nothingness. With a will of steel, Khatovar hefted the boatman upon his shoulders and made the trek upward to the aftcastle once more and placed the Boatman in his proper place. The boatman pitched the boat forward and advanced his purpose; egg in hand.
The green-light shone the same distance through the black fog. After several hours, the green light turned to three which pierced through the fog – lighthouses of the harbor. As the ship drew into the crescent stone-like dock, blackness rested beyond its pseudo-brickwork. Several soldiers phased into a vision like mirages on the plain, human in stature armed with chained mutts of misshapen like its creators were unconcerned with true details of a hyenas anatomy. Their eyes fell on the anchored ship, and their cries sounded macabre churl.