Midsea

No Holiday for Death

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Cassandra

Captain Cassandra Foamrider walked the icy deck of her ship, the Spyglass, doing her nightly inspection, when suddenly the sails grew slack and her ship started to rise. She ran to the railing on the middeck and leaned over. The arctic sea no longer slid below them; instead it massed beneath the Spyglass in one burgeoning black mountain of a wave. Up and up she could feel the ship ascend into the cold salt air.

Cassandra was so engrossed in the spectacle that she didn’t notice Sir Gavin standing next to her. She instantly felt better. The old campaigner no doubt had experienced many things in his battles and adventures and besides that possessed strength enough to bend a broadsword. He was so strong that the crew had given up trying to beat him in their weekly arm wrestling matches and instead gambled how long it would take him to win. Machete Miranda was the current champion of the coveted second place trophy.

“Ah…what’s going on?” he asked. His talking magical weapons, Brother Sword and Sister Shield, were for once, strangely silent. “This wave keeps rising. Also, where is the moon?”

“I don’t know,” Cassandra said. “Just like you this is not my world. I’ve read about this though…Midsea sailors recorded a time, hundreds of years ago, when the wave tops became thousands of feet high while the Moon went into eclipse. It was during the Rampage of the Blind God.”

The old knight distractedly tapped his strange black scale mail and said he would go wake the others. As he descended below deck into the sleeping berths Cassandra heard Sister Shield tell Sir Gavin that the power to make a wave like this came from outside the world, above the firmament, and was cosmic in nature.

Sir Gavin returned with the other offworlders: his friend Kona-the Dwarf Paladin with the well shined armor and magic Ax, the somberly stoic Eldritch Knight-Uldir Blacksteel, the Tiefling Rogue-Hanz the Quickhanded and GFoot the Archer.

Kona the Truthseeker strode up the deck with her regular curiosity. Her ancient helm shined in ship’s torchlight granting her True Sight. The dwarf talked to Sir Gavin about glimpsing some kind of battlements at the top of the titanic wave they were riding.

Uldir Blacksteel walked up the steps to the forecastle and silently stared ahead. As usual his thoughts were his own. Many of the crew feared him. Cassandra, who knew Uldir’s wife resided in a cursed section of the Infernal Planes, thought him a tragic and romantic figure. They all grabbed onto the ratlines, other bits of rigging or the rails to prevent themselves from slipping on the rapidly forming hoarfrost and rime.

This did not affect Hanz or GFoot, despite the ships starboard listing. The Rogue and the Archer, respectively, both possessed a grace that reminded her of a fencing master Cassandra had studied under. Their weapons reflected that dexterity. Hanz wielded a complicated chain and scythe affair while GFoot kept an Elven Bow of the Boarderguard strapped to his back.

Everyone’s breath, which came out in small clouds, became thin and the ship stopped climbing. The whole mountain size wave they sat on had frozen, leaving them icebound and hanging at an impossible pitch below its peak. A small black stone tower sat on its pinnacle. Three lens shaped clouds, each twice the size of Spyglass, slowly swirled around the battlements. Blue lighting leaped between the grey clouds and the black tower, lighting them both from within.

Cassandra gave the offworlders a flat bottom boat. Her sailors, now awake, grabbed thick halyard ropes and hitched it to Sir Gavin’s magical metal horse. The gold and silver steed leaped forward, violently yanking the boat behind it, sending up a shower of ice chips as its sharp hooves cracked through the frozen wave, making its way up the steep slope to the tower.


Death

Death waited for the offworlders…and he was getting impatient. Because of his present rank he had to. Now Death would be the first to tell you he was not the Chief Cosmic Death but instead merely a midlevel death, assigned to Midsea. But he had ambition for bigger assignments, if only he could straighten out this chaotic world.

Death sighed, snapped his fingers, and people (destined to!) died all over Midsea in their sleep. He could not stay too long or his duties would be neglected, but he needed to be here. When the offworlders had defeated the White Duchess, whatever strange extra-planar creature had attached itself to her was not destroyed but instead attached itself to a Devil Heart thrown by Hanz.

Now this abomination from the spaces between the stars had grown into an infernal powered Aberration that was destroying the boundaries between Midsea and the multiverse; creating an extra plane of Hell on this level of existence. Death needed to make sure the going concerns of the Entropic Bylaws were followed. The incoming births have to closely match the outgoing deaths, with the understanding that the amount of Entropy must never decrease. In short, it must add up.

One of Death’s many duties required him to account for all the dead. When he first joined the Entropy Guild he loved the simplicity of balancing the Books of Being. In his younger days he thought that the Cycle of Birth and Death only required balancing the paradoxes of Destiny’s Determinations with the Uncertainty Principle or as it was known to the mortals Chaos. Then he found out that the undead required addendums of different types. Skeletons and zombies were relatively easy to explain but vampires and liches, well they were headaches that Death detested.

That is why he had a special affection for the approaching heroes. They had destroyed lots of the Undead and helped his balance sheet. He looked them over as they approached, causing each of them to feel a chill they shrugged off as a wind from the new mountaintop.

He first looked at Uldir Blacksteel. The knight trafficked in magic and had a grudge with devils and demons. His armor matched his name and he carried a falchion dangerous to such creatures called Hell Hacker. Death knew he would be valuable in fighting this Infernal/Extra-Dimensional Hybrid.

Behind him was Kona the Paladin. She would also be very useful to his designs. The resolute dwarf carried an Ax made from the same material that had imprisoned the pale amorphous and vampiric being that had fused with the Duchess and now inhabited the devil’s body.

As always her friend Sir Gavin stood next to her. A juggernaught of destruction and determination, he had slain a Purple Worm with some other offworlders. He often disliked these quests of High Magic but would be an excellent resource.

Behind them all was GFoot the Archer. GFoot had a fiercesome aim and an exacting nature that Death appreciated. He fulfilled contracts with the same ruthlessness Death himself did for the Rules of the Middle Realms. He hoped that he could convince him to help.

Leaning on the oarlock was Hanz. Hanz was a special case; while he had unwittingly caused the creation of this problem he also had the resources to stop it. He carried Devil Hearts that could unlock the mystic guards set up to protect the creature. The Tiefling’s deadly strikes of stealth also made him a welcome asset.

Now, they needed only one more thought Death, a cleric to heal them during the coming battle. Death reached out to the other Deaths of other worlds and found such a man that matched his needs. The Death of this other world owed him a favor and she let him pluck the man to his plane.

The man appeared next to him. He went by the name Creed. He had an understanding of necromancy, resurrection and other aspects of Mortality Magic that this Death appreciated. Creed had been called on to deal with other Multiverse manipulations in the past and had a good track record. He would be a valuable ally to the rest.

Death smiled. He had assembled a force that that could clear up his metaphysical problem!

When the group got to Death he quickly negotiated a deal with GFoot. The Archer proposed that if they destroyed the Aberration he would grant them all one “free pass”, meaning if they perished in the future he would give up his claim on them-but only once.

He agreed. They entered the tower and fought Devils of Cold and Heat in epic battles. Uldir gave the finishing blow to the first one after he and Sir Gavin hacked through a wall of enchanted ice. The second one was the Aberration. It took arrows from GFoot, Kona’s Ax, Hanz sneak attacks and Sir Gavin’s final thrust of his sword to bring it low. Then Creed, stepping forward, finally destroyed the alabaster parasite with his Holy Symbol.

This caused the Multiverse to begin to heal and Death quickly began reasserting his rule, such as it was, over Midsea mortality. This made the iceberg formed by the Aberration to begin melting. Sir Gavin jumped onto his shining horse while the rest ran to the boat through the rapidly forming slush. All of them were hauled away in their improvised skiff and when they got to the slowly rocking Spyglass frantically climbed aboard.

Death hoped the heroes would drown and use up their “free pass” but Cassandra Foamrider expertly plied the wheel of her now responding ship, crying out to her crew to stow the sails. The Spyglass plummeted down to the melted, churning ocean, almost bottoming out as the waters threatened to wash over the bulwarks. It quickly bobbed back above the water and the crew started to put out the sails for the newly blowing wind.

Death sighed and sent a plague into the shantytown of Farbank. He had to get back to the everyday grind. He preferred traveling with the offworlders because they produced such epic numbers but they were safely sailing back to the city of Bex and its magic towers. Oh well, thought Death, it’s a living.

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