Three Seas

For Whom the Bell Tolls

Time Marches On

Two days after the Festival of Redressing, Abbud, Kiran and Jasper returned to Kiran’s favorite new bistro, the Hole in the Wall, a bistro in the Eastern Underborough run by an unimpressed Gnome waitress named Maggie. The trio was greeted by Dōmr Blæwaz, the last of the Hundred Fathers, who has a habit of using the Hole as a refuge from his horde of devotees, and Faziad il Rabin, the Halfling agent assigned to maintain Kiran’s accounts while she stays in the city.

As Kiran told Dōmr and Faziad about her adventures at the Nixor Lux with Jasper and Abbud, the group began to discuss the mysteries of the statue. Dōmr in particular was puzzled, because the last time he had been in the city, more than three hundred years ago, the statue was not there – only the Cathedral of the Three. However, it is broadly known that the Dwarves lost the ability to work with Whitestone long before even that time. Who built the statue, really, and how did it get up there?

During the conversation, Abbud realized something even more grave: he had not known prior to the conversation that Tauron had been a devotee of the Nameless, assuming instead that the Minotaur must have been an adherent of the Threefold Faith. This revelation brought up a deeper problem: the Tauron priests were hedonists who wander the streets of the city in a state of perpetual debauchery, drinking, cursing, having sex with strangers (and friends), praising idols and drawing lewd images on the walls all over the city. This was tolerable when they were simple nonbelievers, but knowing that they were doing it in the name of the Nameless (ironic as that might be) sent Abbud into a rage.

Without warning, Abbud stood and began stomping up to the Overborough and to the Cathedral at the foot of the Nixor Lux in order to demand satisfaction for the grave insult to his faith the statue represented. His companions, sensing trouble (and in Dōmr’s case, something foreboding), followed him and tried to dissuade him from doing anything rash. By the time they reached the monument, Abbud had become calm, but still needed to speak to someone in charge of the church to straighten out these theological problems.

There, the group discovered that the Cathedral had not been rededicated at all, but had been partially crushed under the hoof of the statue when Tauron’s army came to take the city. Now, the remaining devotees of the Threefold Faith kept the building without furniture or adornment, with no glass in the windows, as a site of quiet contemplation and prayer for the return of the glory of the Three.

As Abbud spoke to Argus Morogo, High Priest of the Three, and Jasper kept an invisible eye on him lest he begin breaking heads, Kiran took Dōmr and Fazial out to the base of the statue to show him what she had discovered about the water running down the sides. The underside of the statue was now protected by the elements, and the new Raiment had turned the base of it into a kind of ersatz tent. Dōmr decided to test a theory about the statue, and laying his ear against the foot of the Nixor Lux, he rapped on, using his storm magic to ring the statue like a gong.

The effect was tremendous, and shit got real.

Faizal, Argus Morogo, and several of the worshippers inside the Cathedral were all thrown to their feet as the thunder resonated greatly through the entire statue and further down into the city, shaking the entire city with the force of the great hidden bell that the entire structure had become. Water shook free of the statue in a heavy mist, and every bird for miles took to wing in shock. On the western side of Arafel, an entire neighborhood sloughed away into the Astreian Sea, unmoored by the vibrations.

Dōmr himself was knocked into a vision of his own childhood, centuries ago, before his people made their ragged escape down from the High Mountains. He glimpsed a vast, all-encompassing darkness, and horror beyond his mind’s grasp. The experience sent him into paroxysms of dark prophecies of doom, which in turn rang out against the statue with the continued vibration of his magic, causing his voice to ring out across miles seemingly from the throat of the Nixor Lux.

Inside, Abbud was thrown into a sympathetic vision state, and glimpsed the horror that Dōmr had witnessed. The sight brought him to his knees, and, curious, Jasper reached into his mind with illusion magics and projected the scene against the walls of the cathedral in a horrifying panorama that terrified the worshipers inside. When he recovered, Abbud and Jasper went outside to help Dōmr confront Mateen Kadari, the leader of the Tauron Unification Church, about his “hollow prophet” and the impending end that was going to sweep down from the North and kill everything and everybody. In his towering fury, Dōmr caused storm clouds to gather and a fell wind to blow in from the sea, driving hail down into the crowd, while Abbud breathed cold and darkness, and Jasper, noting that the statue was glowing and seemed to be moving, used his illusions to link the Nixor Lux to the prophecies of the mad Human.

It was all Kiran could do to settle things down, and when Dōmr finally ran out of steam, he rode a lightning bolt out of the area in a flash to escape and think about what had just happened. His memory fuzzy, he wandered back to see what damage he had caused.

While he was away, Jasper, looking up at the statue, realized that its throat was an opening, and rappelled up to investigae, followed by Kiran and Fasial. Finally, Dōmr returned as well, and while Abbud stayed below to continue discussion matters with Argus, the rest of the party began to climb up until Fasial noticed that there were marks indicating that someone had fallen down from the apex to the bottom of the staircase that ran from the top of the Nixor Lux’s reaching arm down to the pit of his stomach.

At the base, they found the body of Patir the Staid, who had fallen because of Dōmr’s thunder. Dōmr tried to speak to the Minotaur’s spirit, while Kiran investigated his body. Between them, they managed to resurrect the priest in the brief time between death and the spirit leaving the body, a rare miracle. Patir, in response, took the party up to the top of the tower in order to show them what they had found. At the apex, the party found the Crown of Tides, one of the three most famous artifacts in history.

Patir explained to his visitors that the Crown had been found by Tauron and his companion, Aisha of the Nameless (youngest bride of the Prophet), and they had at some point brought the relic here for safekeeping and to remove it from proximity to the earth, having found in a city buried beneath a lake. On questioning further, Patir told the party that at the time of Tauron’s rise, the Threefold Empire, the Unconquered Sun, and the then-new Mujahideen of the Nameless had been vying to find and take the sacred object for their own in a bid for dominance. Tauron didn’t trust anyone with it, and so he hid it to prevent balance from shifting toward any one group – even his own coreligionists – with Aisha’s help and blessing.

This sparked an argument within the group, as Kiran argued that there were at least two deserts that had been created by keeping the Crown in Arafel, while her companions pointed out that there would always be deserts created by the Crown no matter where it was, and that moving it from its hiding place now would doom millions of city dwellers to suffering and death. Abbud, who had come into the statue during this latter half of the conversation, remained silent.

With their concerns unresolved, but with a tentative promise extracted by Patir that the group remain silent about their discovery, the Minotaur priest led them out through the tunnels beneath the statue to the Underboroughs below, sealing the way behind them. As they made their way down into the city’s underbelly, the group began to realize the extent of the chaos created by Dōmr’s outburst above, and with the understanding that this conversation wasn’t over, each of the five heroes went off in their separate ways to help the city to recover from the ensuing riots and fire.

Comments

It should be noted, however, that leaving the diadem completely undisturbed in Arafel is also not a great solution… over time the sea level is still rising, swallowing the city by inches. And worse, as Arafel sinks into the sea, the crown’s proximity to (and thus effects on) the land and sea below the Nixor Lux only increases. While simply removing the crown would result in a massive tragedy, leaving it in Arafel indefinitely would eventually doom the city.

It’s also worth noting that according to legend, the Nixor Lux literally stomped on the Temple of the Threefold when it assumed its current position.

For Whom the Bell Tolls
NickHirsch

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