Chapter Six

After this battle we knew little of what was next. My city was destroyed; little more than rubble and haunted ruins. The north was now a hellish waste. We still had an artifact in hand and an enemy on another world. It was the guidance of a wise man that told us where to go next: the wizard Settin, recluse teacher of the north mountains. In his far-off tower we spoke, learning of a dead city where a gate to another world awaited, and of how the only way to truly defeat the Tabber clan was to face them in that world. Before we did so, however, we needed more information, and perhaps a little aid. We found aid in the form of WaterWind, young apprentice of Malplankton, a quiet and humble druid. He accompanied us, needing to learn the ways of the world and of adventure, and in the end he turned out to be the most loyal of friends. We then went back to Latheric’s home to consult with his teachers. As he spoke to them, the rest of us lounged around the city, happy for the break. It was then that Huey White-Eye began to change. He murdered a local merchant and decided to rob his shop, his mind perhaps still tainted by an old charm spell that Tabber had put on him. The others wanted to throw him in jail or kill him; but I defended the kid. I wanted to give him another chance. He was like a little brother to me, Huey. He reminded me of the kid I had been when I was living in Lockinton; lost, desperate, angry and greedy. So I stood up for him and the group gave him another chance.

Soon we returned to Andronia to investigate the ruins, learning that Devon was still alive. Before we found him, we found the other inhabitants of the ruins. A horde of orcs still lived here. So did Du Fiend’s dragon, still alive, which had been trapped under the old city, sleeping during our rule of it. We had quite the fight on our hands. First the orcs; a simple enough task. The dragon was more difficult. It immediately slew Waterwind and Huey with its poisonous breath, and nearly killed Latheric as well. Only Gaspar’s heroics saved us all, as he used his flying shield (a gift from me) to attack it in the air, driving it down to the ground with a thrust of his sword. There I battled the monster, fighting tooth and claw with my double swords. I won, decapitating the beast with Razorhand, my loyal blade. As if fell to the ground, we would have cheered, had it not been for the deaths of our friends, especially the young Waterwind. Yet, as we looked over the body, we found that we were not alone in these ruins. Devon was here, along with a cleric friend, who used two of his remaining scrolls to raise our friends from the dead. We harvested the dragon, taking those parts we needed (I took a single claw). For some time we stayed with these friends, finding some solace in the fact that people had survived the massacre here. Beneath the city, Devon directed us to some ancient ruins; the ruins of old Belden. Here, we fought numerous undead things, ghosts of the old city folk. Among a horde of wraiths, we discovered an odd gem: a gem belonging to Sir Du Fiend, which seemed to fit perfectly atop a staff we had found with Tabber. (Not the crystal one). Still, we had work to do. We soon headed for this nameless city where the portal awaited. On the way, Latheric decided to try and use his new staff, this evil artifact that he had made. It immediately opened up a portal: a portal to Tabber’s plane, where an army was waiting, a mysterious army of strange beings, who would plague our world for years to come. For now, however, we chose not to fight them, instead escaping in a portal summoned by Settin. Afterwards, seeing no sign of this army, we headed for the strange city. The city, long ago abandoned, was an odd place; only inhabited by half-real beings that fed off the energy of magic. After we distracted these sad things, we headed for a great pyramid in the center, where a strange gateway awaited us; the door to another universe.

This new world was bleak and alien. The people here were fishlike and foreign, and only with unearthly magic were we able to speak their tongue. They dwelt in a metal bubble; isolated from their dead world, unable to leave it, unwilling to try. There were two people here from our own world, explorers like ourselves; a lore master who was studying the odd wisdom here, whose name has been forgotten with his death; and an elven priestess named Quilathee Amastasia; or Amy for short. Amy, hearing how we wished to defeat the evil Tabbers, decided to help. The Loremaster was too afraid for his own life, and decided to stay behind. We were left here with the riddle of how to exit this city, which had been locked for centuries. Here, we once again saw the crazed desperation of Huey, when he attempted to rob our Loremaster friend, and another shop as well. Both times he failed miserably. This seriously angered Latheric, who tried using some spells to slay the Halfling. Fortunately, we were able to stop this violence. Huey was turning out to be a sorry little bastard, but for now we needed all the help we could get, and I still thought I could make him into a decent person. We eventually found a way to open the gates. Right out there, waiting for us, was a huge red dragon. Accompanied by an undead knight, it attacked. The assault was brutal. Some of my friends were slain, and we were forced to shut the door. After seeing them resurrected by the fish-men, who possessed great magic, we made a plan. I trapped the door with a deadly snare, and we opened it again. With the dragon caught, it was easy prey. We slew it in a matter of seconds, and like the last one, I took a single claw from its hand, the same size as the other. Its undead friend was tougher. He nearly killed some of us, and did kill Huey again, but we beat him. We now saw outside; it was horrible; a world dead and empty, with rains of ash and charred ground everywhere. Nothing lived here. We set out across this scarred landscape, long ago drained of all life by Jacob Tabber and his insane lust for power. We set out across a lake of fire, battling with beings of flame and lava, which once more killed little Huey. (And once more we had to get him revived by the fish-priests). At the other end of this lava sea was Tabber’s fortress; huge, towering, evil and mighty. We went in, though, battling dozens of monsters: animated iron statues, undead wizards, twelve-headed hydras, fifty-foot earth elementals, demons, and numerous members of the hateful Tabber clan of liches. We fought through several floors of foes before arriving at the unholy throne of Jacob Tabber himself, where he waited with Frederick and two other members of the evil clan, along with a revived Du Fiend and plenty of monstrous minions. We fought long and hard here, and it was a very close battle indeed. I dropped at one point, barely escaping death. But we won that fight, and the Tabbers were beaten. We raided their fortress, smashing the phylacteries that supported their unnatural lives, taking their treasures for ourselves. Finally we discovered a dungeon beneath their castle; containing one living man, a man claiming to be Jacob Tabber: not the lich Tabber, but a prissy noble who was supposedly the real one; a man the lich had replaced. We took him along, still suspicious of him. On the topmost floor of Tabber’s castle we found a secret room containing his coffin; inside was his undead body, already coming back to life, since we had yet to find the leader’s phylactery. The battle against him was easier than before, but Latheric was killed by a deadly lightning bolt. As he lay dead, Amy prepared a powerful spell that would temporarily restore him until we found a more experienced healer. I spoke with the others, and we began debating how to slay Tabber for good. Before raising Latheric, Amy asked her god (Pelor) what we should do. He gave us an answer: only Tabber could destroy his own phylactery, by tossing through a dimensional rift. We figured that it must be the living Tabber, the one we had found in the dungeons. I prepared to show him the staff. As I got ready to hand it to him, I blacked out. I woke up to see death all around me. Latheric, Waterwind and Amy were all missing their heads. Gaspar was lying dead on the ground, pierced through the heart. Huey was bleeding to death. Only the human Tabber stood, and I was certain he had done the deed. Yet he claimed that I was the murder, that I had killed them all. I tried healing the others, but all but Huey were dead. I eventually brought him back to consciousness and he gave me the same story; that I had done this, that I had slaughtered my friends without effort and with barely a fight. I then noticed the blood on my swords, the size of the cuts on their bodies. I knew then that Tabber had possessed me through his staff, and that there as no time to waste in slaying him and getting revenge. Me and Huey gathered up our friends’ gear, confident that we could get them brought back to life. Death meant little to us now. It was something temporary; not the end of life, only a setback, an inconvenience. When death could be undone with but a few words, it ceased to be death at all. Still, we grimly walked back towards where we knew a portal existed, far from the castle of the liches. We handed the staff to Tabber, and just as the lich started to possess him, I pushed the man through the portal. There was a huge explosion, and it seemed as if the deed was done. Jacob Tabber was gone, or so we thought. Little did I know that Pelor’s words would prove to be inaccurate lies, and that Tabber would escape even that death. After much effort we were let into the Fish Men’s bubble, and our friends were brought back to life. There was some questioning, but overall they forgave me. They knew as well as I that death was temporary, that there was nothing to fear even in it. Thus we stayed in that odd city for many a day, celebrating as heroes, resting and partying, relaxing as we hadn’t for many years. Amy and Gaspar seemed to find some attraction in each other during this time, though it never resulted in anything save for her demise. But for that time, we were vaguely content, though still I felt some regret at my loss of control, at the fact that Tabber, bastard that we was, had commanded my body. I vowed to train more, to never let that happen again. We eventually decided to return to our own world.

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