On account of Jade's player being extremely pregnant, Jade will be a NPC from here on out. Vai's player was at GenCon this week. Since Dugall was mind controlled I let his player control Vai for the course of this session.
<@AndyGM> When we last left our heroes they learned the truth of it all. Krauser, the lost Emperor, told them of his summoning of Taija, and Astoak, how one became a god over the corpse of the other, and how in doing so Taija had accidentally lengthened the lifespan of the world. He finally moved to give the Lance of Twilight to Dugall, but was stopped by Vai. At that moment Sakret's minions, Salem and Tombs appeared in an airship. They swooped in and Salem took control of Dugall. For some reason, perhaps his closeness to the lance, or the knowledge of his true self he changed into his darkest form ever, shadows seemingly alive cloaking a man now controlled entirely by Salem. At Salem's command Dugall lifted his hand and reached for the broken lance in Vai's hand.
<Matuzack> Matuzack quickly steps between Dugall and Vai. "Vai. Get the lance out of here."
<Dugall> Vai looked at Dugall, "Dugall, don't go through with this. If you do this, we'll do what we have to against you!" she said, holding the lance.
<Petra3> "Dugall! Snap out of it already!" Petra yelled, hoping some part of the Dugall they knew was listening.
<Makhpia> Makhpia stands rigidly still, as if waiting for the right moment to move.
<Dugall> Vai lunged back as the tendrils came at her and shot several blasts of eldritch energy, before being cornered and stumbling, dropping the lance. Dugall's shadow did not attack however, it merely batted aside Vai's attacks and as soon as the lance escaped her grasp his shadow slithered across the floor, picking it up, and placing it gently in Salem's hand.
<@AndyGM> Salem grinned. "That was simple. Destroy them all dear." Salem whispered into her gem.
<@AndyGM> Like the wind a figure blew into the ruins of the temple, dressed in dark armor, with a sword at his side he had deathly pale skin and short spiked blonde hair. He drew his sword with such speed that Petra could feel the air leave her lungs like he created a miniature vacuum with his raw speed. The blind girl managed to fight off the effect and hold her breath until the sensation passes.
<@AndyGM> Salem sprouts a pair of wings and begins to fly back up towards the Airship, holding her prizes, the Gem, and the Lance.
<Makhpia> Makhpia leaps forward at Hexblade, slashing at him with newly grown claws and moving past inhumanly fast.
<@AndyGM> Hexblade dodges the attack, and he does so with such speed that Makhpia's eyes couldn't even track the movement.
<@AndyGM> Jade focuses on Salem flying away and screams. "GET DOWN HERE YOU BITCH!" Jade abandons her human guise taking her demon form. She flies upward sending a rain of hellfire upwards trying to stop Salem, but barely singeing the retreating demoness.
<Dugall> Vai stood and took aim, knowing all their trouble went back to Salem. Breathing hard, she wondered if her faith could still hold with the truth, she uttered a prayer, a prayer for Taija's Invisible Hand to make itself known. And then she let the arrow fly
<@AndyGM> Salem's ascent stopped, and she slowly started being dragged downwards.
<Petra3> Focusing on the earth near Hexblade, Petra willed it to turn in hot magma and burst up from the ground to strike at this threat. [Magma Blast 12, indirect, Secondary Effect]
<@AndyGM> Once again Hexblade easily avoided the attack not getting so much and burned by the spraying magma.
<@AndyGM> Dugall fixed his gaze on Vai, vanished into his own shadow and reappeared right next to Vai. She didn't even see it when Dugall summoned a shadowy reflection of the Lance into his hand, and drove it into Vai's side. The shadowy spear shattered her magical force field, and then struck her side. turning the side of her dress to dust, and turning her skin jet black.
<Matuzack> "C'mon, Dugall. You want me, not her." Matuzack charged the shadowy figure and tapped into the frigidness that flowed within him. As he nears, the barbarian shifted the harpoon in his hands, bringing the flat of the blade to bear.
<@AndyGM> Dugall's shadow wrapped around him deflecting the blow easily.
<@AndyGM> Tombs grew a pair of decaying wings from his back and took to the air as well, without Vai totally in control he and Salem reached their airship above.
<Makhpia> Mak curses in orcish before moving back towards Dugall. (Holding standard action)
<@AndyGM> Jade glares up at the airship and grits her teeth. It's obvious she wants to follow Salem, but she cannot leave the group to die. She sees Makhpia getting ready to strike and does the same.
<Petra3> Sensing the shift in the battle, Petra willed the ground near Dugall to form into a giant fist and try to grasps him, to squeeze him hard and try to knock him out.
<@AndyGM> Dugall lifted off of the ground avoiding the stone fist landing on it gingerly. Dugall raised a hand, and his shadow lance vanished, only to turn into a dozens ribbons of pure shadow which lash out at Petra over and over again.
<@AndyGM> Petra's rock armor held up remarkably well, only cracking slightly under the onslaught of Dugall's shadowy attacks.
<Matuzack> "Gods damn it, Dugall! Snap out of it!" Matuzack roared, flashing the flat of his harpoon down.
<@AndyGM> Matuzack's Harpoon misses its mark, but leaves Dugall open for Makhpia and Jade.
<@AndyGM> Mak's claw dig into Dugall's side and at the same time Jade focuses, summoning her burning blue hellfire, sending a bolt of it directly into Dugall's side.
<@AndyGM> The combined attack throws Dugall off of balance causing him to stagger backwards in shock.
[22:13] <Makhpia> Makhpia jumps over Dugall, slashing at him as she goes over him before landing.
<@AndyGM> Mak drove her claw into his shoulder and wrenched him down into the ground slamming his face into Petra's stone fist shattering it violently.
<@AndyGM> Dugall, however, begins to pull himself off of the ground. His eyes go completely black and suddenly his shadow grows larger, encompassing the entire room, suddenly there was no sky, no walls, just six people on an endless plain of darkness. But in Dugall's mind he watched it all as an observer, chained to a floor overlooking it all, and behind him, on a large bronze throne, sat his other self in blood red breastplate gripping a black iron lance.
<Dugall> "You... you're what I once was. Sad, we meet again under these conditions."
<@AndyGM> "For you maybe, I am myself again, for the first time in ages. Until I can remove your entirely from my mind you will watch."
<Dugall> "Oh yeah? How is this you being you? What about Taija? We," he coughs, struggling with the chains, "I, you, whatever, have a lot to answer for. We can't let this happen."
<@AndyGM> "She betrayed me!" Astoak roared. "I'll murder these mortals, go to the North to help Sakret take my revenge and watch that bitch die!" More than a thousand years of rage were evident in his words.
<Dugall> "Don't you think she'll expect that? Revenge isn't worth taking anymore. Taija, she regretted what she did; she even became the sun for it. And, we're not dead, we've came so far. Do you really want to lose that?"
<@AndyGM> He furrowed his brow. "I do admit, growing up a child on this world, as you, was not without its charm, but you've seen with my eyes for centuries now. Can you honestly tell me that there's one thing worth saving here? Something that cannot be found elsewhere?"
<Dugall> "Yeah, I do, I wouldn't have gone all to that trouble to get that scroll if it wasn't worth getting for Jade. Mak, Petra, Mat, and Vai, they're all worth saving. 'Sides, I was also looking forward to when we get back having tea with her aunt. She and the faith holder Vai showed me that faith in Taija isn’t just smoke and mirrors."
<@AndyGM> He drummed his fingers on the arm of his throne. "You say these things, but we both know that you're purposely avoiding growing close to any of them. They are dust, and you will live forever. In time even the faith in our sister would pass on."
<Dugall> "What "might" happen in the future no longer concerns me. Only what definitely will. And what's happening now, this very moment. things age, they get old, true. But that's life. I've been runnin' from it for a long time, true, but now it's time to turn around and face things."
<@AndyGM> Astoak looks down as, in the real world, Dugall appears to be on the verge of unleashing an attack that will kill everyone around him. "Where did you learn to show compassion?" He spat nearly mumbling.
<Dugall> Dugall tried to stand, he looked down, then back up at his counterpart, smiling.” I’m not sure; it's just kinda crept up on me, oddly enough. Somehow there's always been bits of it buried in there, from the time that I squirreled away those rebelling peasants to safety to handing over the resurrection scroll to Jade, to all those conversations I've had with my... friends, no family. They kinda thaw ya out of your numbness."
<Dugall> "But we gotta stop this, or we'll lose all that, all we've worked for."
<@AndyGM> "I cannot join you in this outlook on life. I have lived, caged, for too long. All I have now is my anger... it kept me sane, gave everything perspective. We cannot live together like that. So I propose a compromise."
<Dugall> "What did you have in mind?"
<@AndyGM> "Dugall and Astoak of the Twilight cease to exist. Instead we become one person, my power, or as much as your consciousness could control, and this outlook on life. You'll be happy to know, this deal will also make you immune to the Demoness' meddling."
<Dugall> "As long as I'm lucid enough to remain loyal to my compatriots, and make atonement for what I've-we've done, then I will agree."
<@AndyGM> "Then it is done." The chains around Dugall's wrists vanish and in the real world the shadow that had fallen over everyone retreated once again to Dugall engulfing him and when it cleared he knelt on the ground dressed in a fine black military uniform a long tattered black cape on his back. His face was calm, at peace.
<Matuzack> Matuzack coughed, a red mark around his throat marked where one of the tentacles had been only seconds ago. "Dugall? You in there?"
<@AndyGM> Jade stumbled forward and gripped her fist. "We should kill him... while we still have the chance. Salem will just do this again."
<Matuzack> "Wait." Matuzack said, putting a hand on Jade's shoulder. "In all our travels, have you ever seen him smile? Something has happened."
<Petra3> "Dugall, are you in control again?"
<Makhpia> "I'm more interested in knowing if we're going to die or not. Please let me know when that has been decided." Mak coughed out while on the ground.
<Dugall> He coughs a bit, before whispering something that looked like thank you. His eyes opened, looking fuller than before. "Dugall is dead, long live Dugall." He smirked.
<@AndyGM> Jade stopped seeing his eyes. She blinked in surprise.
<Matuzack> "I don't know what that means. Are you still the killing Dugall, or the friendly Dugall."
<Dugall> He stood, holding his rapier at his side, before saluting. "I am... both."
<Petra3> "Dugall made a joke, everyone duck and cover!" Petra said as she formed a wall in front of herself.
<Matuzack> "Well, you ain't put that pig sticker in me yet. So I'm assuming you're our Dugall." He held out his hand, helping the man to his feet.
<Petra3> "Wait, it is Dugall and yet not at the same time. Are you sure it is safe, Mat?"
<Dugall> "Thanks, but as much as you'd like me to do that to you, Mat, I'm gonna have to say no. But right now, we gotta get going. If I am to be a real knight, I've still got a long way to go. Still, thanks be to all of you for freeing me." he bows.
<Petra3> Petra lowers the stone wall and steps over towards Dugall. "You're back! But wait, we don't have to worry about you getting controlled again, do we?"
<Matuzack> Matuzack moved away and began lifting huge stones away from the unconscious dragon form.
<@AndyGM> Vai pulled herself up holding her side. "Okay, we're heading North, but what do you intend on doing once you get there Dugall?"
<Dugall> "Nope, Salem had her claws in Dugall and Astoak. Neither of them still exist. There is only I, both came together to become stronger..." he pauses and thinks, smirking again.
<@AndyGM> Emberia lies in the rubble having shielded the unconscious Krauser. She appears to have survived the barrage at least.
<Dugall> "Well, I was thinking, since I grew stronger from my lesser halves coming together, I will go with you, and together we will be stronger, strong enough to ream all of them a new one, anyway!"
<Makhpia> "I think I get what you’re saying." Mak is continuing to lie on the ground. "At least on the merging thing."
<Matuzack> As Matuzack threw a particularly large stone away, he called out. "Does that mean we can call you Assgall now?"
<Petra3> Petra moved over to Vai and began to patch her up. "Remind me never to get on Dugall's bad side."
<@AndyGM> Jade narrows her eyes. "Fine, but if you turn on us ever again I'll kill you and chain your corpse in a stone box thirty feet underground. Hell if I even think Salem still controls you I might do it anyway."
<@AndyGM> Vai smiles and thanks Petra for her healing.
<Dugall> "Naturally," he moved over to her and bowed his head, "if I turn on you, I'll be wearing bells for when you reduce me to a cinder. My apologies to you, and to you, Vai, and well- to the rest of you for the past. But it shouldn’t be a problem anymore."
<Petra3> "Okay, need to help out our hosts." Petra said as she moved over to heal Emberia and then Krauser.
<@AndyGM> Vai nods gently. "Let us go North, and stop this madness once and for all."