Palladium: Reason and Existence

140. The Death of the in Between

The mobilised army stretched for 7 days as it crawled across the country side, closing the distance on the mountain range bordering the Baalgor. On the 3rd day the encampment was attacked during the night by Death Cultists and some of the soldiers were taken smotheringly back through the blood to a fate awaiting them in Necropolis.

The cultists exhibited powers that had not been previously seen by the group. A sensation that Tolmet would stop toying with the world soon was inherent in this revelation as such horrors as Life Drain and Blood Detonation were witnessed. In the confusion, Echo suspected that the cultists were deliberately shedding blood in a single concentrated area and feared they would create a massive blood portal to send through a Sandwyrm.

The group overcame the threat as General Arn and Illynis arrived on the field and Ethimas chastised Arn for his tardiness as Echo cut off conversation with Illynis telling her to focus on the wounded.

After the following days travel, the group discussed the attack with Fortune, Rashyr and Enchanter Endean. The girl was troubled that she could think of no way to keep Tolmet’s followers out of the camp and she feared their attacks would occur with increasing regularity as the threat of the army grew closer to Necropolis.

She reinterated that the single greatest obstacles before the army was that of the Sand Wyrms and the scathing wasteland sun. Fortune revealed that she and Brink Endean had realised that his power of magic suppression could also be used in reverse, and that though the effect was far weaker than that of the Hedron that with Brink and Rashyr’s help she continued to entertain the possibility that she could fend off the Sand Wyrms and/or the sun when the time game.

Pining again for what she had lost, she told the group that Blood Magic/Portals would not work by moonlight and that if she had had the Hedron still, she could have had the light of the moon follow the army. She even suggested she could have used the moon’s light to destroy any Sand Wyrms that attacked as she had the one the group had ridden through the southern oceans.

The group counselled her that she was a figurehead and that she should trust the strength she had inspired to form into an army to do what needed to be done. When the girl quoted the prophecies that fated her to fight these fights she was challenged with the possibility that prophecy could be changed.

Though Fortune did not believe this, for the first time it was revealed to the Imperimundi that ‘The Blade’ and Indel Kyura in concert were actively working on the prophecies surrounding the girl to try to change them.

Mention of the Hedron and Blood Portals had sparked Echo to consider the possibility the army could use some sort of magic transport to reach Necropolis, and using her ability to see the places where the veil between dimensions was thinnest, she turned her mind’s eye upon nearby instances.
Two distant instances dominated her perception through their enormity. The leyline nexus over Necropolis and the dormant Hedron held by Satan in Dawn, but dimly she perceived two other instances, both within the bounds of the army.

Following her senses to the third nascent portal, she found the Dwarven Weapon trader, Elgror Arlek with an escort of dwarves trying to avoid attention. One of them was Hymerra Ironvein carrying a rune linked to the Hedron that Satan had stolen from them in Hammerfall Hollow. The dwarves were in the camp looking for Emalf Eldritch to ask that he and his friends help them retrieve they Hedron from Satan when the rune they carried next became active. Echo did not give the dwarves an answer, only telling them that she did not know where Emalf was.

The following day, in frustration, Echo decided to try to summon Emalf again. She even considered asking Illynis to introduce her power of sanctification into the mix of dimensional circle magic (as had accidentally showed them a portal to the future once before), but discarded the idea. When her attempt at summoning failed, she turned her attention to the final place in which the veil between dimensions was thin, a detour that took her far outside the centre of the camp and into the tent of Pandora Zayven, Senior Coven leader of the Black Council of the Eastern Territory.

Pandora acknowledged that the veil between dimensions was thin around her coven members, but did not elaborate beyond reminding Echo that it was the covens that had summoned her to remove WitchBane from the capital all those years past. The reminder prompted Echo to ask if Pandora’s coven could summon Emalf, and Pandora agreed to try in return for Echo representing the witches in their attempts to gain legitimacy in the eyes of “The Most Powerful Person in the World”: Fortune (Pandora clearly intended to use Fortune’s influence to force the rest of the world to recognise the Black Council).

To facilitate the covens’ efforts Echo divulged Emalf’s true name to Pandora.

Having failed to find something that would transport the army, Echo turned to the prisoner in the annex tent of the Imperimundi: Andrakasis. There she expressed disappointment over what had happened to Shah Dallan and told him she was surprised he remained in the camp. Andrakasis replied that he had only done what he had done because she had asked him to, and that he remained only because she had requested his help.

He said that as important as Fortune’s effort against Necropolis was, that all of “this” was a distraction from the greater and more ancient machinations that he sought to track down through Lucifer and “The Third”. Echo told him he was free to leave.
*
Two travel days later, Emalf and Obray-Ell found themselves lifted from the purgatory they had been suspended in and delivered to Pandora Zayven’s tent. Pandora told Emalf that he owed her nothing and that Echo would pay his debt, but Emalf’s gratitude did not end there. They discussed other things they he might do for the covens, including the possibility of delivering Andrakasis and/or Peril to Pandora.

Emalf caught up with the group (and their news). He was angry at Shah Dallan’s death, and in the interests of keeping himself from doing something terminal he asked Orbray-Ell to keep Illynis away from him.
Emalf and Orbray-Ell told the group that something from Midworld had followed them and would eventually be free of purgatory. Orbray-Ell explained worriedly that she (and denizens of Ell-Maine) were frail before this alien creature.

They made their way to Fortune’s command tent and interrupted an audience including Illynis, General Arn, Battlemaster Nahtra Crane, Illynis, one of the viscera of Dawn and of course Rashyr and Brink. Leaving Emalf outside, Echo whispered in the girl’s ear that she should clear the tent for her next visitor and everyone except Rashyr and Echo were directed to leave.

In the next minutes Fortune’s crisis of personality over Emalf gave way to the reassurance of his presence. She once again described the problems facing the army once they reached the Baalgor and her measures to safeguard the supply train (one tenth of the army had been sent to the Temple of the God Glass to use “The Sending” ritual to send food to the army in rationed amounts).
Fortune went on to report that her scouts had indicated that the Death Cultists had adjusted their age old practice of feeding sacrifices to the Sand Wyrms at the foot of the Necropolis Plateau such that the place they might enter the Baalgor had become the most heavily Sand Wyrm infested part of the wasteland.

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