Second Darkness

Summary 18: The End of Winter

Chapter Five: A Memory of Darkness

 
Surrounding the towers of the Winter Council was a small army of demons, many of whom the Immortals had battled in the past. If forced into battle, it would be a losing one for sure. Yet with Quilindra as their succubus guide, no claws were raised against them. They were brought before a bulbous nalfeshnee demon named Viggrizur. After some introductions, it was clear that both sides hated the Winter Council. Yet the demon host had been unable to infiltrate the towers due to some great magic within. To prove the point, Viggrizur grabbed demonic satyr and threw it into an open window. A few seconds later there was a scream, followed by an explosion of blood. The Immortals asked Viggrizur about Allevrah, and although he did not know the name, he did recognize the description as that of a drow that had exited through the doors several years ago and teleported away. It was at that time that the wards went down, allowing the demons to blood into the towers; at least for a few moments until the Winter Council got them up again.
 
Given the Immortals weren't demons, Viggrizur surmised that they should be able to enter the tower, particularly given that Ruil was an elf himself. Upon questioning Viggrizur as to why they continued their siege, the nalfeshnee responded that it was his lord Treerazor who commanded it so as he wished possession of an artifact know as the Sovereign Stone. It was somewhere within the tower and could be used to create a permanent portal to the Abyss. Ruil knew of course that it was the artifact that had teleported the elves to the plane of Sovereign to escape Earthfall, the First Darkness.
 
The Immortals thus headed towards the large double-doors to the interior. As they approached however, a patch of dead foliage suddenly sprang to life, revealing themselves to be several shambling mounds; an enemy more common than even goblins in Golarion. Ruil was ready for the battle, letting fly a blight stone that ate through both of the mounds plant matter. From there, it was a simple matter of slashing and burning before there remained nothing left of the two threats.
 
Corthana approached the doors and used her skills to unlock them. It was simply a matter of which of the four was the bravest to be the first to enter, as it might mean that an explosion of blood would soon follow. Citrine offered to be the test subject, leading the way and luckily not blowing up.
 
Within the massive entry chamber were a dozen guards, their bows trained upon the interlopers. Leading them was an elf in blue plate armor and bearing a lions head shield. He said his name was Arminstril, and demanded to know whether they were allies to the demons. The Immortals lied and said they were not, nor were they allies to Queen Telandia. Instead, they had come for Allevrah. Upon mentioning the name, Arminstril did a most unlike elf thing and spit upon the ground. He said that he and the Winter Council wanted nothing more than her demise.
 
The Immortals began relating much of what they had learned, including Allevrah's desire to bring about a Second Darkness. This was news to him, as was the fact that the Shin'Rakorath were conducting missions without the Winter Council's concession. As for Allevrah's story, it was something he was forbidden to relate, as that knowledge was an even bigger threat than the meteor from the sky. Arminstril gave the Immortals free reign to explore the tower. He also said that the Winter Council had secluded themselves for many years, and had not united since the Allevrah incident. All that he could say was that Allevrah had withdrawn the Malificus Spike from its foundation, nullifying the wards of the tower briefly and allowing the demons to enter.
 
The Winter Council was a group of the most powerful elves that forever existed. It seemed there was never a time when there was not a Winter Council. They did not create laws, but rather they influenced events to better the entire elven nation. At times, they called for chaos, yet such dark times always led to betterment. It was they who had hatched the plan for all the elves to leave the plane over ten thousand years ago in order to save their race. And it was they who had created the Sovereign Stone to do so. Elven kings and queens attained power through the will of the Council, and such rulers had no idea they had been placed their rather than earning their titles.
 
The Immortals headed towards the ranger Malindil's room first. At first, the Council member seemed reluctant to allow them to speak with her. Upon mentioned their desire for Allevrah's destruction however, Malindil opened the door. Her golden armor was the first that caught everyone attentions, save Citrine who looked into her pale eyes and recognized the emptiness within. This was a sign of someone who had been brought back to life well over a dozen times. It was something nearly unheard of, to the point of unholy.
 
After some discussion, Malindil looked upon Citrine and said that the Sarenranian reminded her of how she once was so many centuries ago. She thus revealed all that she could. It seemed Allevrah was once a member of the Winter Council and that she had hatched a plan to destroy all the drow by pulling a meteor from the sky. Now it seemed she wished to destroy all the elves entirely. Given this information, she agreed that it was time the Winter Council reunited to find the renegade and deal with her completely.
 
The Immortal's next stop was Perilir's room. The priestess to Calistria allowed the four to enter after they said that Malindil had agreed to go to the council chambers. After again explaining all that had happened, she agreed as well to go to meet with her fellow members. She did find it odd that the Immortals were not agents of Queen Telandia as the Queen had long since known of the demon siege. She also spoke of the Sovereign stone, confirming that the demons would use it for their own purposes. As for how to stop the meteor, the towers archives might have the knowledge as that was where all of Allevrah's remaining notes had been stored. Perilir then went on to explain that after Allevrah's plan was rejected, she pulled forth the Malificus Spike. Upon doing so, all the evil that had culminated within her soul manifested itself in a diabolical way. Allevrah's skin changed from elven white, to drow black. It was this fact that the Winter Council had been trying to keep secret; the fact that an elf could turn into a drow.
 
Ruil raised an interesting argument, wondering if perhaps drow could become elves. Perilir could not refute the possibility. Yet in her experience she had never seen an honorable drow, and thus such a happening was an impossibility in her eyes. After more questioning, Perilir revealed two more bits of information. Although there were currently four members of the Winter Council, initially there had been six. Allevrah, in her flight from the tower, disintegrated one of the members of the Council. The other point was that Allevrah's plan to kill the drow with a meteor had been embraced by two of the council members; she and the mage Hialin. On that Perilir gave to the Immortal's her personal whip to show to the other members they were allies in her eyes.
 
The next Council member they visited was the druid Arlindil. He bid them enter, saying that his lover Perilir had already informed him of who they were. Yet he had trouble believing their fantastic story and thus demanded a test of just how powerful they were. He told them to go to his old room where there a pair of vrocks still laired after being trapped there once the wards had been reinitialized years ago. With no other option, the four headed off to the room.
 
As they opened the door, it was not vrocks they found, but rather a huge demon called a glabrezu. He introduced himself as Morkravud and implored for the Immortals to enter, saying he had not had visitors in some time. All around him, bones of satyrs, and a few vrock bones littered the floor. Mokravud offered the Immortals a deal: he would grant them one wish of their choosing if they wished for something of his choosing. He wanted them to wish for the Malificus Spike to be removed. That led to a counter proposal by Corthana. She said they could kill him, forcing him back to the Abyss. Mokravud said he didn't like that plan, saying he had no friends down there. All the arguments however were moot as Mokravud's death was Arlindil's wish. They thus came to an agreement: if the Immortal's beat Morkravud, he would grant them their wish.
 
The first few seconds were a simple matter of testing each side's defense.  Ruil and Gunderhoff's weapons bounced off Mokravud's armor, while Citrine's blessed blade carved a red line through flesh. Corthana meanwhile launched a dagger at his knee, hoping to knock it down, but he held his ground. The glabrezu then showed off his own offensive skills as it grabbed Citrine with its claws and rended her flesh from her bones.
 
Ruil imbued his sword with a vampiric touch, but the spell was absorbed by the demons resistance. The sword however did cut through to the bone, bringing great pain to the behemoth. Citrine cut again at Mokravud, cutting through a major artery on his thigh. It retaliated, cutting at Citrine with its claws and sending the holy woman down to the ground in a bleeding heap. It then cleaved through Ruil with a quick claw strike, hurting the elf badly.  A few dagger hits by Corthana, brought the weakened Mokravud to near death. And Ruil didn't hesitate to speed the demons one way ticket back to the Abyss.
 
After healing up Citrine, who in turn healed up everyone else, the Immortal realized they had forgotten they're wish. Unknowingly however, the glabrezu would have manipulated the wish so that it fit its own needs, rather than theirs. Arlindil was very happy after Mokravud's head was presented as a trophy to him. He approved of their heroics and said he would meet with the other council members.
 
The last stop was Hailin's room. They knocked upon his door, yet unlike the other rooms, received no response. After several seconds of waiting, they decided to enter themselves, with Citrine looking for traps beforehand and finding none. Gunderhoff turned the doorknob, which activated a fireball trap that the spellthief had missed. Luckily for Citrine, her quick reflexes allowed her to jump aside from the blast. Her friends however were not so lucky as they were all burned badly.
 
After a few seconds, Citrine healed up all of her friends. They continued calling to Hailin, with Corthana even going so far as to insult the mage. Yet still there was no response. The spellthief thus attempted the lock again, and in doing so she triggered the fireball trap. So confident was she that the trap was no longer there that she wasn't expecting it and thus took it full on, as did her friends behind her. After the Immortal's screams died down, Citrine healed up everyone's wounds. They then rested up for a few hours to recover spells, with Citrine protecting herself from fire for the entire day.
 
With no sign of Hailin, the Immortals headed to the Winter Council chamber to see if they might point them in the right direction. Upon arriving they saw the three they had already sent there, talking in hushed tones. Near the wall, there was another figure. This was a gaele eladrin, and she was assigned to guard the artifact next to her. This was the Malificus Spike. After questioning the council, Arlindil said that it was quite possible that Hailin could be found in the archive room.
 
As the Immortal's walked up the stairs to their destination, they crossed paths with Hailin as he was mumbling words to himself in a strange language. Citrine quickly cast a comprehend languages spell. She was able to thus hear him speak of Abraxus and Allevrah, and how there were pieces missing. Upon questioning him outright, he seemed to snap out of his haze. He said that everyone would see the truth soon enough as Allevrah's plan wasn't grand enough. He was more than happy to join the council, saying he had much to discuss with him.
 
The Immortals decided to peruse the archives, including Allevrah's notes that Hailin had indicated before he left. As they read through them, they discovered two sets of writings; both Allevrah's and likely Hailin's. It seemed research was currently being done to not only pull one meteor to Golarion, but rather a hundred meteors down. It was a plan of planetary destruction. The research however was incomplete; meaning Hailin was far from achieving his goal. As to how to stop the meteor Allevrah had already began calling down, they were able to discover that several key runes around the central rune needed to be maintained to call the meteor down. If the runes were destroyed at their source in the Land of Black Blood, then the meteor could not be called down and thus the apocalypse could be averted. The notes also contained various references to Abraxus, Demon Lord of Forbidden Knowledge, as well as the exact location where the runes were located.
 
As the Immortal's began approaching the council chambers, they heard a massive explosion. Citrine heard the voice of Viggrizur scream in triumph that the wards had been broken. Upon that declaration, the sounds of many teleporting demons could be heard entering the council chambers.
 
The Immortals quickly made their way down to the Winter Council where there they saw demon after demon filling up the large room. The gaele eladrin was dead upon the ground, and the Malificus Spike had been removed via a telekinesis spell and was now at Hailin's side. The other council members were fighting for their life against the many denizens harrowing them from all sides. Hailin screamed in glory at the carnage around him, saying everyone must die. And in that bloodlust, his skin suddenly turned to an ebony hue. The Dark Plague had corrupted his soul and he had spontaneously become a drow. Viggrizur looked upon the Immortals and rejoiced at feasting upon the heroes who had made his victory complete.
 
There was only one thing to do, at that was to drive the Malificus Spike back into its hole. The other Winter Council members were cut off from Hailin, meaning it was up to the Immortal's to save the day. Yet the demons were already in the midst of battle, and as such they were quick to react to the heroes intrusion. Viggrizur looked up Citrine and dispelled many of her spells. Several nearby vrocks cast mirror image upon themselves. Hailin then looked at the Immortal's and sent a prismatic spray their way. The spell sent a ruby ray at Ruil, burning his skin with fire. Gunderhoff was hit with two rays, one which melted his flesh with acid. The other one threatened to send him to another plane, but he resisted the pull from the magic.  Citrine too was hit by a ray that sent acid burning away at her. A final ray hit Corthana that sent poison coursing through her veins and into her heart. And to everyone's shock, the spellthief fell dead to the ground.
 
There was only one chance to win the day. Citrine quickly ran to her fallen friends side and attempted to revivify her. The pain from the acid was simply too much to bear however, and her words floundered amongst her own tears of pain. Gunderhoff meanwhile coached Ruil on his breathing as it was all up to the elf and his plan. Using those calming dwarven words, Ruil pushed through his own pain and dimensional hopped next to the Malificus Spike. He grabbed it from the startled Hailin's side before dimensional hopping next to where the artifact was meant to rest. The warrior then raised the spike up and attempted to drive it into the steel wall, but his strength failed him and it slid to the ground.
 
Viggrizur screamed out to the nearby demons to attack Ruil with all they had. The vrocks tore at Ruil's back, the nalfeshnee ripped through his bones, but still Ruil stood. Hailin meanwhile threw a disintegrate spell at Citrine who jumped aside and the ray only grazed her. She saw that Ruil had the Malificus Spike and knew she had to keep him alive. And so she healed her friend from a distance, pushing aside the pain. Gunderhoff meanwhile ran through the demon mass, feeling demon claws bouncing off his armor. He then placed his hands upon the shaft of the spike and nodded to Ruil that he was there to aid. And so with elven and dwarven hands holding the spike, they together drove it into the wall. All around the room, the demons screamed in pain as the wards suddenly came into effect. And in a simultaneous blast, they exploded in a ball of blood and gore.
 
Hailin all the while laughed in his insane state, and blasted the Immortals with a fireball. Citrine's magical defense absorbed the magic entirely. She walked up to the elf-turned-drow and blasted the mage with a flamestrike that burned the mage horribly. Gunderhoff blessed everyone in the room. Ruil walked right next to Hailin and cut him hard, draining away the mages life with a vampiric touch. With just a little bit of life remaining, Hailin manage to pull a wand from his belt and lightening bolted Citrine and Ruil. The mighty Immortals stood their ground and Citrine blasted Hailin with holy fire, killing the drow.
 
Perilir used a scroll of true resurrection to bring back the life of Corthana. After the deed was done, the Winter Council all said that the day was the darkest they had ever endured. They also agreed that the time of the Winter Council was at an end, and that it was time for the mantle to be passed on to those more worthy than them. Their eyes looked upon the Immortals, and they announced that such a mantle was now in their hands. It was now up to the Immortals to do with the title as they wished. With that, the former Winter Council members bowed to the new Winter Council, saying they would continue to defend the tower against Treerazor and his remaining forces.
 
And so on that day, the elven nation changed. Citrine, Gunderhoff, and Corthana did not want anything to do with elven society or the Winter Council. As an elf however, Ruil could not let such a great part of his society die. It was decided then that when Allevrah was defeated, he would return to the tower, and he would become the Winter Council.

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