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Zenith on the Throne

Posted in: Weekly Update by Ariel on July 25, 2008

We entered the room beyond the double doors. Thanks to those Spider-Climb boots Dyssko was on the ceiling. He cast shock and awe to overwhelm whomever was in the room. The only living creature was a dwarf sitting on a throne. Which is not to say the room was empty.

Zenith

Zenith

I stepped inside the door. Dyssko was overhead and to the left. He was overwhelmed by the sight of a dozen corpses hanging upside down from the ceiling. The top of their heads had been cut off.

They swayed gently. I could not tell if they were dead or undead. So I quickly cast my turn undead spell. The corpses continued to sway. Since I now knew that they were not a threat, I could take my eyes off the bodies. Dyssko moved closer to the dwarf on the throne. Ohme moved slowly under him, ready to give protection. The others moved into the room.

The dwarf did not move. He slumped listlessly in the throne. His left hand held a glowing orb. There were banners on either side of the throne, upside down. They seemed to depict him, in the same position he took now. There was also a glowing circle etched into the stone floor. Four pillars seemed to stand guard around the circle.

Dyssko got very close to the throne and still the dwarf did not move. Acgar, who was standing beside me, murmured “Do you think that is Zenith?” It felt like weeks before that we”d been at the Cusp of Sunrise talking with the wizened dwarf Darvith about his lost son Zenith.
“It”s hard to know, but he”s the first dwarf we”ve seen.”

Dyssko dropped from the ceiling. “Ta-da!” The dwarf simply sighed.
“Are you Zenith Splintershield? I have a message for you!”
The dwarf opened one eye and said vehemently, “You will lose an eye!” Then he slumped back.
Cinder drew her bow. Acgar and I moved to the far side of the throne.
“Are you Zenith?”
He pointed a finger at me. “Beware the man in blue!” And then his finger dropped to his lap as though that was the hardest thing he”d ever done.
Dyssko spoke from the side of his mouth: “I”m gonna give this guy a cheer.”

He straightened his tunic. Cleared his throat and began an elaborate cheer based on the letters in the name Zenith Splintershield. When it was over, the dwarf managed a small smile.
Dyssko beamed. “You are Zenith! I knew it. Your father sent us to rescue you.”
“My…. father? Yes. No…. I can”t leave the people. I can”t leave the Mother…..” His voice trailed off and his eyes closed. A moment later they popped open and he yelled at Dyssko, “You will lose an ear and the blood will stain your collar!”
“It”s working,” said Dyssko. “I”m going to do it again.

He went through the whole cheer again. Zenith almost lifted himself off the throne. As his left hand moved, he seemed to realize that he held the orb. He lobbed the orb against the back wall where it shattered. A gray fog flowed out of the shards and dissipated.

Dyssko clapped and hopped up and down. “I got one more cheer I can do today. Third time”s a charm!” And he drew a deep breath to do the cheer again. While he was working the spell, Myntilly moved to the circle. “What do you think it is?” Everyone but Dyssko turned to her. “This circle. What do you think it is?”
Offhandedly Cinder said, “You could poke it with your staff.”
Myntilly nodded and shoved her staff into the circle. She vanished.

“Oh my god! Myntilly!” We rushed to the circle, but didn”t touch it. “Where does this go?” I demanded of the dwarf. He was on his feet. The cheer had done some good.
“To the Mother.”
“Do you mean the lobster goddess? Is that where this goes?”
He shrugged. “The Mother takes many forms.”
I pushed thoughts of Myntilly from my mind. “Will you come with us? Your father is dying. He wants to see you. We came here just to find you.”
“I hate myself for loving him! He”s dying? I must go to him.”
I reached out my hand. “Can you help us find our friend?”
“She is with the Mother. The Mother. I cannot leave her!” And he ran right into the circle.

We followed without hesitation and sure enough, we found ourselves at the base of the lobster-headed goddess. Myntilly heard us and came out from under the stage. With a few minutes of ardent persuasion, we were all headed out of the temple. As we reached the main hallway, we heard a metallic sound. It was coming from the hall behind the portcullis. “Hey! Don”t leave me!”
We stopped. Acgar and I walked up to the bars of the portcullis. “Who are you?”
“My name is Cherrit. Don”t leave me here! The Kua Toa are evil.”
“How did you get here?” Asked Acgar. “Where are you from,” I asked.
“Around. Around here. I was trapped. Fooled! Tricked by someone I thought was my friend!” His voice went up at the end.

Another voice, deeper than the first, said, “You tricked me! Take me out of here. Leave him.”
“And who are you and where are you from?” Acgar called out.
“I am called White Eye. Son of Black Eye. And I am unjustly imprisoned here.”

Cinder came over to us. “Why are you chatting? We got what we came for.” She gestured to Zenith who was standing between the half-orcs (in case he decided to run off again).
“These people need our help,” cried Acgar. “We can”t just leave them!”
“Oh yes we can! We don”t know who those jokers are”

Acgar and Cinder stood toe to toe. I drew Cinder away. “Look. Acgar never asks for anything. Could you just look around for the lever that opens the portcullis?”
Cinder rolled her eyes.
“Five minutes. I”m asking you to give her five minutes.”
“Fine.” She threw up her hands. “But I”m not going to look very hard.”
And indeed, she did not find any way to open the gate.

“OK, let”s go.”
“Wait!” Both voices cried out. “You can”t leave us.”
Acgar looked crushed. “Cinder is right,” I said. “Zenith”s rescue is our mission.”
“Four thousand gold pieces each. Each. That”s our mission.”
“Wait! I have money!” cried the deep voice.
“No you don”t!” said the other. “I have money, though and it is yours if you rescue me.”
Cinder paused in mid-step. “Nah. Forget it. You”re bluffing.”
I whispered to Acgar: “We will come back. You have my word. We will come back for them.”

At the shore we stopped. No boat. Myntilly walked the edge of the water.
Suddenly we heard the sound of a paddle cutting the water. Our old friend the Kua Toa boatman approached. Myntilly waved and he let loose with a stream of babble. She turned to me.
“Damn. I have no idea what he”s saying. I forgot to prepare the tongues spell.”
He came to the shore anyway. We piled in and made it easily across the lake.

Once we were above ground Dyssko got very excited. “We”re gonna camp right? Camping? Oh man! Yeah. I was hoping…. Hold on.” He rummaged through his pack.
“Here it is. Leomund”s Tiny Hut!” He held a scroll. In a few minutes we had a light orange sphere to sleep in.

As I closed my eyes, I whispered a prayer of thanks to Pelor. “Thank you for allowing me to see the stars once more.”

2 Comments

  1. […] about it for so long and the reality of it was so much worse than my imagination. I saw the dwarf Zenith in a cage on the tree. A familiar […]

    Pingback by Old Enemies, part 2 | Dungeon Divas — October 14, 2009 @ 5:58 am

  2. […] about it for so long and the reality of it was so much worse than my imagination. I saw the dwarf Zenith in a cage on the […]

    Pingback by Old Enemies, part 2 | Dungeon Divas — October 19, 2009 @ 6:28 am

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