CATALYST: ASSAULT ON NIGHTSPIRE

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As it is written: “At Winter Solstice within the Year of the Scarlet Witch wise men shall gather to stand between Darkness and Light.”

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Adon Cordell, High Priest of Tempus, raised his staff and called out to his deity to heal the soldiers once again. His upraised staff glowed a right golden color, and wherever the light shined followers of the Eternal Flame were healed.  A flood of healing energy flowed from the High Priest into the injured around him, mending flesh and bone.

Many knew that Adon was not a god, but he was the closest a human could come to it without ascension. He had the favor of not one god, but three: Tyr, Tempus, and Torm. He could call on any of them or all at once, his his prayers were never fruitless. He had been twenty years old during the Time of Troubles in 1385. After 133 years, he seemed to not have aged a day.

The battle continued to rage in front of him,  the interior of the macabre tower flashing with the light of spells, flashing of blades, and echoing with the cries of the dying. His eyes scanned the mêlée before him, noting the progress of his fifty-some soldiers as they clashed with equal numbers of Drow warriors. He stepped forward, swinging his gleaming staff to the right as he brought his left hand forward to smash a charging Drow Elf in the face with his spiked mace. The Drow crumpled to the floor, his face caved in from the strength of the single blow.

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“Revel,” snapped Adon in a commanding tone. “Status report on the enemy.”

A nearby Dwarf stepped forward to stand near the High Priest. He was dressed in the regalia of The Red Knights, one of the more prestigious of the temple’s paladin Orders. He paused only to put a bloody boot on to the cephalothorax of a huge spider, grunting slightly as he pulled his waraxe from the shattered carapace of the monster. Many called him “Revel the Red” due to the fact that he rarely ended a battle without being covered head to toe with the blood of his enemies.

“Your holiness,” said Revel formally.  “I bring the word of truth from the Order of the Broken Blade. They have found the Ones Who Walk and have watched their progress through the gazing stones. The monks have entered the Shadowfell and are making their way towards the City as we speak.”

Adon scowled. “And the artifacts?”

Revel did not miss a beat, flicking his axe to the side to clear it of some of the gore. “They carry with them the Savras Scepter and the Well of Souls.”

“And the staff?”

Revel smiled grimly. “An agent of Vecna has told them were to find the Havoc staff.”

Adon growled, putting one of his boots on the chin of a fallen Drow Elf. He pushed, listening to bone snap as he clenched his teeth in frustration. “Why do the Neutral gods continue to vex us,” he grumbled. “What purpose do these exarchs serve to stand between the forces of Justice and Lolth’s army of evil?”

Revel gripped his waraxe tighter. “The grey gods do not want either of us to prevail. They believe that these librarians will somehow prevent either of our armies from becoming the victor. Apparently they seek to restore the Cosmic Balance.”

“Foolish,” mumbled Adon. The High priest shook his head. “Stupidity.”

Revel sighed. “Some believe that the Scepter can hold the Spark of a god.” He glanced at Adon, only daring to focus on the holy symbol on his chest rather than making eye contact. “And that the Well is a device made to kill a deity.”

Adon took two more steps, noticing that his men had already cleared the chamber of the Dark Elves, and were approaching the stairwell. He noticed that one of the priests stepped through the doorway of the stairwell, raising his hands to send a gout of flames up and out of sight. Seconds later, Adon could hear the pathetic cries of more Drow echoing from somewhere above.

“Forward,” shouted one of the soldiers, brandishing a blood-caked longsword. “Kill anything that moves!”  The soldiers begin to rush through the doorway, their boots sounding like war drums on the steps as they charged ever upwards.

Adon glanced back at two men who stood behind him. Both were heavily armored, wielding huge mauls decorated with holy symbols of the Eternal Golden Flame. These two were Adon’s persona guard, their sole oath of service to protect the High Priest at all costs.

“You two will remain here,” Adon ordered. “You will hold this ground. None enter this chamber and live, do you understand?”

Both men nodded grimly, bowing to their master. They moved into place as Adon and Revel turned to walk towards the stairwell. They would hold this position or die trying.

“The Cosmic Balance,” mumbled Adon as he stepped into the stairwell followed only a step behind by Revel the Red. “So they use the Well to slay Lolth and then trap her spark within the Scepter. is that their plan?”

The two began to ascend the circling stairwell, both men noting that their were more bodies of Dark Elves than Humans. The soldiers were still making excellent progress. The sound of battle echoed from somewhere above.

Revel shook his head. “That’s what I thought, your holiness, but my sources tell me differently.” There was a slight pause. “To slay Lolth would cause a second Spellplauge, and the ramifications would be terrifying.”

Adon stopped, glancing at the Dwarf who in turn looked down to avoid eye contact with the High Priest. “Then, what, Revel, what do they plan to do?”

Revel sighed again. “They plan to remove Lolth from her position of Mother of All Magic, my lord.”

Adon laughed, and turned to continue walking up the stairwell. “Impossible. A fool’s errand. “

“Some believe so,” said Revel. “But my sources tell me that The Ones Who Walk are unaware of the importance of the devices they carry with them. Some claim that when the Weave fell the first time by Cyric’s blade that the Scepter was present … and empty.”

Adon stopped, his eyes widening. Suddenly he understood what the Dwarven Paladin was saying. The Scepter was designed to consume and hold the Spark of a god … or a goddess.

Now it was time for Adon to sigh. “And the Well,” he whispered grimly. “What will they do with the Well?”

Revel didn’t speak for a moment. He ran his thumb over the blade of his waraxe, feeling its keen edge. “They’ll use it to kill you, your holiness.”

Adon sneered, his eyes narrowing. Without another word, he hurried with the stairs, suddenly in a hurry to join the soldiers in pressing the enemy above.

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