Curse of the Crimson Throne

Summary 24: The Final Stand

Chapter Six: Crown of Fangs

 
MoK appeared within the glade of Ehlonna after using the unicorn horn to leave Kleestad behind. Above, a unicorn landed and transformed into the goddess that they all knew. She was quick to heal all three of the Mercenaries up. The fourth, Duvafoodle, had already fled to a nearby tree where there Mitszy the dryad awaited him. After a few hours, he returned with memories that would last him a lifetime.

It was about then that Rudolph felt something in his pocket. He reached in and pulled out the Harrow deck that he had left with the Fire Chief. Zellara then suddenly appeared and said after so much time, the pull of the afterlife beckoned. She thus used her last vestige of magic to infuse the cards with all her emotions, both good and bad. This created the Harrow Deck of Many Things. Each card would produce some sort of magical effect that might be beneficial or detrimentary.

Rudolph was the first to draw a card. The magic of the cards gave to him a wish to be used within an hour's time. It also gave to him a powerful angel ally that could be called upon once per day as well as allow him to scry upon anyone in the world. This he used right away to scry upon the queen and see the defenses around her. She immediately became aware of the intrusion, but could do nothing.

Jansaadi was also very fortunate in her picks, with the most powerful granting her an increased ability in battle, as well as a strange formorian-like companion.

Panian decided upon three cards. One of them gave an insight to the future, with one image being true and the other being false, but with no knowledge of the validity of either. He saw the Queen being destroyed and collapsing in a pool of blood, with the realization that something was wrong and that the queen they had just slain was a false one. The other image he saw was Rudolph suddenly turning on Panian and slashing him with the Hand of Iomadae. As for the other cards, he had his size increased permanently. He also saw his view upon the world become less chaotic and more along the path of law. And he gained an immunity of acid while becoming vulnerable to cold.

Duvafoodle, his Fatemaster’s Claw giving him some insight into his picks, was by far the least fortunate. There was little good that came from his choices. Through his choices he felt a constant vulnerability in his defenses, and worst of all was a sudden alliance he discovered he had always fostered for an arch enemy. One good thing he did receive was a holy avenger sword which he could use to call upon a paladin with a holy avenger of his own, before the sword would lose most of its magical properties.

Thanks to the deck, MoK seemed to be in better shape than at any time to face the queen. Rudolph used the wish to teleport them all right into Queen's Ileosa’s throne room and the final battle begun. Jansaadi reacted faster than anyone, firing her bow at the queen right away. Those arrows pierced her heart, at the mighty ruler of Korvosa fell dead to the ground. This surprised everyone as they all expected a much stronger fight out Ileosa. Not hesitating, Jansaadi sent two arrows into Togomor the mage advisor, foiling any attempt for a spell from his part. In rage at seeing his love dead, he charged at Rudolph and attempt to punch him but the crusader just allowed the punch to bounce off his armor.

To the right of the fallen queen were a group of thugs in front of none other than the arisen Black Jack. In short order, two of the thugs were lying dead upon the tile floor from Panian's axe. The other looked at Rudolph and wished the fires of hell would strike him. As if by magic, some force must have been listening as Rudolph was struck by a meteor swarm. Fires burned all the MoK members, save for Panian who was protected by the ring of immolation. Duvafoodle then took out his holy avenger and plunged the blade into the ground, summoning a paladin to the fight.

From the shadows, a red mantis assassin emerged and plunged her blade right into Duvafoodle's blind spot, sending a part of an intestine upon the floor. Black Jack then dropped his own disguise and became a djini, its falchion slashing at Panian. Rudolph cut down Togomor with a vicious slash. Duvafoodle backed up and used his rod to attempt to slow the assassin, but the magic failed to settle on her mind. The paladin however was there to help his ally and he plunged his holy avenger three times into the assassin chest, causing massive internal bleeding.

Panian, still in his enlarged state, towered over the djini and brought down his great axe to inflict an even greater wound. Two arrows whistled over his shoulder to kill the remaining thug, just before he uttered his own wish like his friend had. Near Duvafoodle, the assassin finally dropped as two of the rangers arrows finished her off. With only one remaining foe, Rudolph and Panian were quick to flank the djini and cut it down.

The battle was finally over. Yet it didn't at all seem like a victory. They walked over to the queen and noticed her body melting in a pool of blood. There seemed to be no bone, no muscle, nor was there even a crown. They had slain a simulacrum; a copy of the queen.

A search of the bodies turned up a diary entry by Togomor to his "love" Ileosa. In it he spoke of how the Queen had used the ancient notes left by Shorshen, a runelord from Thassalon to become immortal. According to the notes, Ileosa had gone to a temple called the Sunken Queen, where there she was using the Everdawn Pool to becoming the immortal being she wanted to become. It was known that the entrance to the temple was underwater, and it was a relief they still have some of the water breathing potions they had purchased from their wererat ally.

They exited the castle where there they met Sabina, her sword impaled through the head of a dragon. She apologized for all that had happened, but said that when she discovered what the queen had planned for Korvosa, there was nothing she could do. She had scarred her face so that she would be like the other grey maidens, and had used her influence to save as many people as she could. All the executions she had been commanded to do, she never carried out, and instead simply imprisoned those who would go against the queen. Now however, she could command the grey maidens and free the prisoners to rise up against the many demons that had been summoned to garrison the city.

A quick stop at the Pantheon of Many brought much needed healing. Keppira also cast a windwalk spell upon all four in order to speed their trip to the Sunken Queen. Within only an hour's time, the four arrived at their destination. They plunged into the water and swam to the main entrance.

Upon entering, they faced their first resistance, a huge devilfish that had been charmed by the queen. Jansaadi fired her bow and, despite the impeding water, was able to hit the beast with two of her arrows. In rage, the devilfish reached out a long tentacle and dragged her into its maw, where there it crushed down on her tiny form. Rudolph swam in and cut at one of the tentacles, while Panian got in closer and slashed it just above its eye. Duvafoodle blasted Jansaadi with a healing blast to save her life.

The devilfish Beirawash dropped the gnome and embraced the half-orc, biting through layers of muscle. Duvafoodle blasted the beast with magic, bringing a roar of pain. Rudolph and Panian continued swinging their blades, sending fountains of blood in the water and sending sharks in a furry a hundred miles away. A last slash from Panian finally silenced the devilfish, opening the way for MoK to continue onwards.

They soon came to a room with a crystal globe at its center. The globe was filled with thousands upon thousands of gold coins, each with the mark of Korvosa. They had found where Ileosa had stolen all of the castles treachery, although this fact was impossible to know. With nothing else to see, they proceeded to a hole in the ceiling that brought them to a second level.

Throughout the halls were small tubes that led upwards. These tubes actually filtered blood to the Everdawn Pool in the upper level. Upon the third level they came to a large pool with more tubes leading from it. Within they found a body which proved to be a simulacrum in the process of being created.

There remained only one level and so Rudolph jumped upon the flying carpet to investigate. There he saw a massive globe of blood. As he looked on, the blood took on the image of Korvosa, before dropping to the floor. It left in its wake, four demons, three dread wraiths and seven queen Ileosas, of which the one with the crown was the true one. Ileosa sang a pleasant song that caused Rudolph to dance uncontrollably. He thus flew down to his friends so warn them, and to allow for the spell to wear off.

After a few moments, Rudolph again led the charge as he activated the flight ability of his armor. He took four trident hits from the erinyes demons, a hit from a dread wraith, and had to pass through a green cloud that suddenly appeared. It threatened to deaden his senses but he resisted the magic. Panian levitated up, using a pair of boots, and pulled Jansaadi with him. They both passed through the fog, but Jansaadi's mind could not push aside the magic and she be became a lot more susceptible to magics that could control her actions. Duvafoodle flew up on the carpet. But as he neared the hole, he heard the voice of the queen saying it was time; and the magic of the harrow card of many things took hold.

He rose up through the fog, and cast a blade barrier directly on MoK's. Not only did it slash them repeatedly, but it also cut them off from the queen. The demons flanked Rudolph, and began stabbing repeatedly, their strikes inspired by one of the singing simulacrums. Needing aid, Rudolph summoned for his angel to help in the battle. Jansaadi meanwhile was targeted by a confusion spell from another simulacrum, and with that her actions became sporadic. Ileosa cast a simple spell that caused seven images of herself to surround her.

Panian and Rudolph began fighting off the demons, but they were fighting against extremely skilled warriors. The wounds inflicted were very minor, but so to were the demons tridents upon the seasoned warriors as both sides deflected strike after strike. Then suddenly a wall of fire appeared cast by Duvafoodle, and it was clear that MoK had been truly betrayed by one of their own. The flames scorched them all, and with their warlock out of the picture, there would be no healing coming their way. Jansaadi, being attacked by Duvafoodle, was compelled to fire her arrows back at her brethren.

With a last effort, Rudolph and Panian were able to bring death to one of the erinyes. The others retreated to help defend Duvafoodle as he was Ileosa's favorite acolyte. The queen sang a song of discord Rudolph's way, causing him to attack friend and foe alike. He turned his blade upon Panian, and it seemed then that in fact both visions Panian had received from the card had come true and the barbarian felt the sting of Iomadae's Hand. Jansaadi found her mind clear for a second and she send a volley of arrows at Duvafoodle again. He was forced to flee the scene to heal up. After doing so, he returned and blasted Rudolph with eldritch energy.

Panian, wanting nothing to do with Rudolph, ran through the blade barrier, with the angel following. Together they hacked into the three remaining demons. Rudolph too ran through the blade barrier as his mind was able to focus on the enemy. That enemy was not the queen, but rather the sneaky Duvafoodle. The bastard sword flashed once and cut through robes with ease. It was too great a system shock for the gnome, and he died of a heart attack.

The angel saw that Rudolph was having trouble with his mind and cast protection from evil which suppressed the enchantment. Left and right, the simulacrums cast their charms, but they all failed to take hold. Soon, another demon fell to the barbarian's blade, making an opening for Rudolph to charge at the true queen. The angel healed some of Panian's wounds and he charged into the ring of simulacrums, cleaving them down one after another. Jansaadi's arrows destroyed mirror image after mirror image on the queen, as did Rudolph and Panian. And then blood began spilling, as Ileosa finally started feeling pain.

Fighting left and right, the queen eventually left an opening in her defenses that Rudolph capitalized on. He shoved his sword through Ileosa's lungs, and she finally fell dead to the ground. The demons were a simple matter to destroy once their mistress was slain. The battle was not over however as, from Ileosa's body sprouted spiked chains. These pulled with them bones and muscles, and began creating a colossal blue dragon.

Kazavon was coming to life before MoK's eyes.

Thinking quickly, Rudolph plunged Iomadae's Hand into the forming mass. There was a furious scream as the regeneration process was halted. And then it all began reverting on itself, leaving only the fangs of Kazavon after the tumult had subsided.

The battle was finally over.

They grabbed the queen's body as well as their friend Duvafoodle and retreated back to Korvosa. There they true resurrected Duvafoodle who explained he had been enthralled. They then spoke to the Queen's soul. Rudolph secretly hoped that he and she might rule Korvosa together, now that Kazavon was removed from her soul. Yet it was soon revealed that she was evil even before the dragon merged with her conscience. They thus left her to rot in whatever afterlife hell would have her soul.

Korvosa was saved, truly saved. Yet for the first time, it was without a ruler. Given the curse, there was no one who wanted the position, save two people: Rudolph and Lord Glorio Arkona. The vote happened the next day, and in a landslide victory, it was Arkona who inherited the throne. His first act was to appoint Duvafoodle as his personal advisor.

Jansaadi was asked to reform the Sable Company, to which she accepted.

Panian decided to go back to his former orc tribe, where there his legend had already reached the ears of everyone. Mother Volen granted him rulership of the entire tribe.

As for Rudolph, he was granted a large piece of land just outside of Korvosa; land big enough to perhaps one day become a small town. He left with Sabina Merrin's hand in his, and they started a life together in a small wooden cabin.

For several months, all the MoK members began their new lives in peace. They had saved a kingdom, and their story would be sung in bard's tales forever more. Truly all was right in the world.

And then suddenly, Duvafoodle's voice echoed in each of their minds with an important message…

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