Reaping the Blessing

CrIsis arrived in the desert after magically escaping the collapsing Wo-Elfenbrut library. The sun had not been above the horizon for long but it was already getting hot and dry in the Wasteland. About a mile away were the members of the Blessing which had arrived prior. They were atop a large dune and appeared to be waiting, looking back in CrIsis’ direction. Before anything else could be done both Xerx’ses and Indaris received a telepathic message through their guild sigils announcing the need to elect a new Tri-Arcanum guild leader and that they had about a month to show up or they would lose their membership. Upon completion of the message Xerx’ses sigil burst into flames, destroying itself. Indaris’ remained fine.

Everyone suddenly noticed Mack had replaced Rooster within their ranks. There was some brief celebration and catching up at that fact. Mack’s survival brought renewed hope that the little Faerie Knight Hannah might have also survived, but that hope turned into renewed sadness at the first hand account of her passing.

Magical energy between everyone was low but they pressed on towards the Blessing anyway. They discussed ranged strategy and options among them for use against the Blessing. The Man With No Name revealed he knew a magic spell called Siphon Strike which, with his experience, could be directed to target one of their number over 1,500 feet away. Using it would deplete his magical energy but Ursus also readied his shortbow and Xerx’ses confidently planned to use his own magic as well. In further discussion their plan became something like _No Name will do that spell, then we’ll get closer, using the other attacks, and once we’re close enough Grignak can do Mystic Portal to close the remaining distance for the melee fighters._

Ursus was able to discern that there were 6 sets of tracks heading towards the dune but that only 4 sets went up to the 4 members of the Blessing on the dune: Joe, Valkoth, Malah, and Gromak. The other two sets of tracks went off and CrIsis did not try to track them. At 1,500 feet CrIsis stopped so No Name could use Siphon Strike to hit Joe, the only member with a visible ranged weapon. Despite the attempted interference of a hidden psychic No Name managed to hit Joe and hurt him badly – but not badly enough to kill or knock him unconscious.

Arrows began flying towards Indaris from a hidden location near the dune, one after the other. These arrows were electrified and Indaris tried to parry them with his shield but he kept getting struck. He and his shield detected and pointed out to everyone else the area where the arrows were coming from, which was West of the dune the rest of the Blessing stood on. Eventually the arrows and the electrical shock they provided when they hit overcame Indaris’ defenses and he fell unconscious, dying.

Ursus had run forward to engage the Blessing who had been hanging back, buffing themselves magically. Xerx’ses began casting a spell and walked slowly towards them. Mack used the spell “Reduce Self” to shrink and hitch a ride on Xerx’ses, with the intention to surprise their enemies.

When Indaris fell No Name ran to interpose himself between Indaris and the arrows in order to prevent more arrows from continuing to strike the fallen priest. No Name was able to discern that it was Legolimp firing arrows from a concealed position, at a range greater than any normal bow should have been able to match. No Name became Legolimp’s new target and despite his attempts to parry he slowly accumulated arrows like a dark, brooding pincushion.

Some sort of magical or psionic wind/sand attacks severely injured Ursus, overwhelming his regeneration and both he and Mack called for a tactical retreat. At that moment however Xerx’ses finished casting his spell. The the sky grew dark as an anti-magic cloud blossomed into existence over the desert. Though centered on Xerx’ses, its radius was so great it encompassed the distance between CrIsis and the Blessing, and extended the same range beyond. Everyone’s magic except for Grignak’s failed. Mack grew to normal size. The Blessing and the rest of CrIsis lost their protective and enhancement magics.

Re-invigorated, CrIsis did not fall back and instead pressed their new advantage. More combatants closed the distance to enter in melee or shorter ranged combat. Grignak doubled back to help Indaris. Once he arrived No Name tried to unnerve Legolimp by revealing his face and exposing her to his eerie, horrifying aura. She barely maintained her composure and kept firing her arrows at him. With Indaris taken care of, The Man With No Name ran forward to close the distance between the archer and himself. He was able to more nimbly dodge her arrows than parry them, and quickly closed the gap with telekinetic leaps propelling him forward over the vast distance.

Grignak performed a chant of healing which brought Indaris back from the brink of death and would keep healing him slowly as long as he stayed within the magic’s effect. Ursus, impossibly and voluntarily in his were-bear form during the light of the day, found himself facing off against both Gromak and Valkoth as No Name’s path took him close by their melee. To help his fellow teammate, Khonsunite, and friend, No Name veered towards them to attack.

Gromak closed with the approaching No Name and almost landed a powerful blow which could’ve finished No Name and consumed his soul. At the last moment No Name, aided by some of Indaris’ luck and an inspirational “ace in the hole” by Ursus, was able to just barely parry the weapon with Vindicator, stopping it just a hair from his face before turning it away. Dedicating the soul of his opponent to Khonsu, No Name responded to Gromak by striking back at him with Vindicator. With a little luck from Grignak the weapon struck true, cleaving into Gromak. His eyes widened in horror as his soul was stripped from his body and sent to Khonsu for judgement – an act unknowingly causing No Name to invoke the ire again of Utu, god of the dead.

The shell of a body which used to be Gromak was cast away and No Name focused next on Valkoth, who had just caused Ursus to fall unconscious in their battle. Though arrows kept pelting around and into No Name he ignored them to face this foe and avenge his fallen friend. He performed another dedication with Vindicator’s strike but Valkoth was able to resist having his soul stripped from his body as the blade struck him. Though he was badly hurt from the blow and barely able to stand, he prepared to counterstrike.

CrIsis seemed to be losing their advantage. Xerx’ses by now was being telekinetically held in place by the mysterious, invisible psychic opponent. He had been turned so he faced away from the combat; this created a stalemate that should have prevented both him and the mystery psychic from having any more significant impact upon the battle. Xerx’ses however was still able to bend and twist enough to see and cast minor magics to aid his allies. He witnessed Joe fighting Mack and recognized the danger Mack was in. Xerx’ses attempted to taunt Joe and force the athlete to focus on him instead, but it was not enough to prevent Joe from fighting and killing Mack with a devastating blow. It seemed as if Mack found a momentary peace in the split second before the blow hit – as if he accepted this final fate and would not fight it. His body fell to the ground, damaged beyond the reach of any known restoration or resurrection magic.

Upon Mack’s death Joe began to advance upon Xerx’ses. The Minotaur patiently waited for his lesser to arrive. His actions still restricted by the psychic hold, he bent and twisted in order to magically cast an energy bolt at Valkoth. This attack should have slain him but through sheer willpower, malice, or possibly even renewed vigor at Mack’s death Valkoth managed to stay conscious and continue his fight against No Name. Another arrow from Legolimp lodged into No Name and Valkoth attacked, his blow barely parried in time.

No Name swung Vindicator at Valkoth in a strike so true that it cleaved Valkoth in two diagonally from his shoulder to waist. As Vindicator swung free and the two halves of Valkoth numbly collapsed No Name let the momentum of his swing spin him around so he faced Legolimp again. Bloody spray from the scythe’s edge sprayed off in an arc and continued to drip as the weapon stopped, pointed at Legolimp. No Name stared straight at her. Menacingly he said, “You’re next.” This time she was rattled with horror, and No Name wasted no more time and sprinted after her.

Indaris prayed to Isis for a *Miracle of Luck*, and this prayer was answered. Grignak joined Xerxses to help him deal not only with Joe, but also Malah who had moved in to join into the frenzied melee. Joe thought he would have the upper hand but even when bound in place and having to fight backwards and upside down Xerx’ses still proved to be the better sportsman and finally took out Joe with a well placed strike. He then called a cascading barrage of lightning from the sky to strike at Malah relentlessly, until all that was left of the mage was a charred corpse.

Legolimp was now the last visible, living member of the Blessing but she refused to run and would give no quarter. She fired arrows at No Name the whole time he charged at her and he nimbly dodged most of them. He lost count of how many of her arrows protruded from him by the time he reached her, but he knew he was only one good or two mediocre hits away from death himself.

That scroll he recovered from Wo’Elfenbrut – he had looked at it enough to know what it could do. For a moment he wondered, _did he have an obligation to live? Should he keep charging in an attempt to end this person’s threat to his friends and endanger his own life and the knowledge that scroll represented? Or should he stop and let her go, and thereby ensure his own survival so he could learn what that scroll promised?_ The conflict raged only for a brief moment but ultimately he pressed on. He had come this far and no matter the cost, he had to try and end her threat for good. He was the only one able at this point, and it wouldn’t be right if he didn’t at least try. How could he face those he cared about most if he didn’t stay true to himself?

Legolimp tried to prepare to face The Man With No Name in melee combat by switching to a melee weapon as he closed the last of the distance to her. When just a couple feet away No Name rolled into a tumble to close the remaining distance and came at her strong, swinging right through her defenses. He willed this strike to consume her soul for Khonsu and lodged the blade of Vindicator right into her heart. She screamed but the sound abruptly cut short as Vindicator pulled her soul from her body. No Name stayed still, nearly spent, until her body slid from the blade and crumpled to the ground in a lifeless heap. Only then did he finally go to one knee as his wounds and exhaustion caught up to him.

Within moments, however, his vitality returned as Father Indaris’ prayer for a *Great Miracle that would heal all of CrIsis to full health* was answered. The arrows pushed from his body and fell around him as his wounds magically closed from the inside out. Re-invigorated, he was now ready to face any threats that remained – whatever was still stopping him from being able to pursue the ultimate knowledge contained within that scroll. A tribe of Minotaurs appeared and turned out to be friend, not foe. One member of the Blessing – the psychic – had escaped. Mack was dead but Rooster had re-appeared. The Seba book from Wo’Elfenbrut was recovered from Malah’s corpse..

It all became background noise to No Name. He released the souls of the remaining dead and went with CrIsis to these Minotaur’s caves. There, he could finally study the ancient scroll. Unravel its secrets and reclaim a life which he had long since thought was gone.

Written by No Name on the 9th of Gryphon in the 25th year of Emperor Itomas.

(GM Note- Written by Tokobauzsos as he played No Name this game)

Image credit from Crimson Sands Tourism.

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