Shadow Aerin grabbed for the front of Butch’s vest, but the kobold easily sidestepped her attempt. “This isn’t over, Weimaraner,” she rasped in her newly dead voice. “I will get ”/campaigns/serinor/characters/43849" class=“wiki-content-link”>the human."
“We’ll see,” Butch told her, and darted into the poisonous cloud blocking the way to the door to the courtyard. As soon as he was through, still coughing from the fog, he motioned for his waiting friends to help him shut the door. Once closed, Fuerte knocked over the pillars on either side, blocking Shadow Aerin’s escape. Without any further hesitation, the group rushed outside to the foot of the mountains.
Butch] chose a spot out of sight of the doors to the Temple of Duroc, and Aerin began gathering her ritual components to open a linked portal to safety. Her claws shook slightly as she prepared the ritual, the enormity of what her double had done still sinking in. But once she began chanting, with the assistance of Pious and Oren, she stopped trembling, and all that existed was the magic.
Butch and Fuerte kept a nervous watch as the casters went through the interminable process of tracing the teleportation circle and linking it to the permanent circle in the great hall of Hye-Aerinaa. Every time the ground trembled, Fuerte gripped the haft of his weapon, expecting more ghouls to claw their way out of the ground. But Shadow Aerin and her minions did not interrupt the casting, and ten minutes later, the portal was open.
Butch and Pious were the first to go through, with Oren following close behind. Fuerte waved for Aerin to go through, but the wizardess stopped and turned to face behind him. Fuerte grabbed his weapon and spun around, but there was nothing there. He could not see the mental sending Shadow Aerin had sent her double. “I warned you,” the psychic messenger said. “If I cannot have the ”/campaigns/serinor/characters/43849" class=“wiki-content-link”>priest, I will take the from Amunash."
“What did you do?” Aerin whispered, and Fuerte looked at her, confused. “No knowledge is worth the price you have paid.” With a scowl, the sending faded. The magic sustaining the linked portal began to tear apart, and with a start, Aerin sprinted through the portal with Fuerte right on her heels.
“We should not have run,” Pious was saying as the last two arrived at Aerin’s tower.
“We couldn’t have killed her,” Butch told him. “And I could have made a lot of money by just handing you over.”
“It’s not about whether we could have overcome the shadow,” Pious insisted. “It’s about standing up to it wherever it shows its face.”
“You didn’t fight too hard when I was pulling you out of there,” Aerin growled.
Pious stopped and looked ashamed. “Still,” he said. “We should have fought.”
“We did fight,” Fuerte said. “We stopped the ”/campaigns/serinor/characters/44331" class=“wiki-content-link”>frog-thing from doing his magic thing there." He turned to Butch. “Speaking of, how’s that scratch?”
Butch waved him away. “I’ll be fine.”
“My friends,” sang Oren, “you must turn away from the past and look to the future. What will you do now? With the loss of his ”/campaign/serinor/wikis/tome-of-silestem" class=“wiki-page-link”> ritual book, the slaad’s plan is disrupted surely, but he is still alive."
“And still bent on destroying the world,” Butch muttered.
“That’s bad,” Fuerte said.
“True,” Aerin said, “but ”/campaigns/serinor/characters/26179" class=“wiki-content-link”>Evil Aerin is furious now. I think she really intends to lead an army against the halflings."
“That’s bad,” Fuerte said.
“So,” Oren repeated, “what will you do?”
Deliberations were heated. Though Butch and Oren were quite amenable to handing Pious over to Shadow Aerin, Fuerte couldn’t stand the thought of betraying one of his friends, and Aerin refused to do anything to further her counterpart’s research. The party agreed that they needed to focus their attention on the slaad’s plan to destroy Serinor, but ignoring the threat from Shadow Aerin now would only lead to larger problems in the future. Piece by piece, and compromise by compromise, they put together a viable plan.
After sending Aerin’s apprentices, Rhyan and Kayil, to Esselte to find a scholar who could translate the pre-lukosian notation the ritual book they’d liberated from the slaad was written in, they headed to Amunash, where Oren and Pious would do their best to convince the humans at the temple to exhume Chance’s body and transport it to Gelaham, which was much better prepared to deal with an assault by the undead. Upon their arrival at Amunash’s Temple of the Light, they found a new wing dedicated to St. Adain. It bore a plaque that read, “Monument to Saint Adain funded by generous donations from the Weimaraner Family.”
Butch smiled as Aerin raised an eyebrow at him. “We care,” he said.
The priest at the temple eyed Pious nervously, but turned to Oren as the fairy began to speak. Oren told the man all of the horrible things Shadow Aerin had done and of her plans to march on the city to capture the remains of Adain from the temple.
“Never!” the priest shouted. “We will die before allowing the darkness to claim the body of Saint Adain.”
“You might want to move him then,” Oren said. He glanced at Pious, waiting for the cleric to help him, but Pious stayed back, head bowed. “”/campaign/serinor/wikis/gelaham" class=“wiki-page-link”>Gelaham is better prepared to fight off the shadowkin."
“Nonsense,” said the priest. “We will never retreat before the shadow. I’ll call a crusade. The forces of the ”/campaign/serinor/wikis/divine-light" class=“wiki-page-link”>Light will come to us."
Butch perked up. “That be even better than our idea.”
But Fuerte frowned. “How long is it going to take for the army to get here from ”/campaign/serinor/wikis/gelaham" class=“wiki-page-link”>Gelaham?" he asked.
The priest thought shortly. “Probably a month.”
“That’s too long,” Aerin said.
“We can transport them by airship,” Butch said, smiling.
“True,” the priest said. “We could charter with the ”/campaign/serinor/wikis/elf/new" class=“create-wiki-page-link”>elves to get them here sooner. That would cut the travel time in half."
“I have better prices,” Butch said.
“But only one ship,” Aerin told him.
He sighed. “Fine. Pay the stupid elves. But be wary. They be horrible sailors.” He then pointed at Pious. “We be leaving this one with you too.”
“No,” the priest said, “I’m sure he’ll be safer traveling with you.”
“No,” said Pious, speaking finally. “I’ll be staying.”
“What?” the priest said. “No, you should go with them, Brother.”
“I’ll be staying,” Pious repeated. “And that’s ‘Father’ to you.” And the priest was silent. The party looked at him, stunned. He smirked. “The Temple had me cloistered, but never stripped me of rank. I am still a bishop. And I think it’s time I returned to ”/campaign/serinor/wikis/gelaham" class=“wiki-page-link”>Gelaham. I will support the paladins when they arrive then return to my post in the High Temple." He looked at each of his friends in turn. “You have taught me much, my friends. But now we must part ways. Go and stop the slaad’s plans. I will crush the shadow here.”