Vordakai scoffs as he assaults the remaining three members of the Iron Tide, pulling out the arrow poor Rufus fired directly into his eye and sending out wave after wave of horrendous, ancient curses to weaken them and rend their very souls.
Sir Thorne, enraged by the fall of Rufus, furiously slashes with his sword. When his sword is sent flying he whirls and produces his lance to skewer the risen cyclops necromancer, but he only continues to laugh at the struggle of the noble adventurers.
Suddenly Vordakai’s gaze locks upon Daeron. Overwhelmed by a psychic suggestion, Daeron ceases his attack, turns, and flies at full speed from the room. Gazl’s heart sinks to the floor as he realizes this is down to himself and Sir Thorne. Desperately he casts Shield Other on the Duke of the Iron Lands, hoping that if at least Sir Thorne is left standing long enough the unholy creature can still be defeated.
With one of his paralyzing touches Vordakai freezes Sir Thorne mid-strike, and then lays into him with his unnaturally long, vicious claws. The coup de grace against the helpless Sir Thorne is split between him and Gazl, sending the gnome reeling but keeping Sir Thorne on his feet. Displaying his typical might, Sir Thorne holds fast against the the full force of Vordakai without even the freedom to move his limbs. He musters strength from deep within, preventing himself from simply dying on the spot before Gazl can produce a scroll to remove the paralysis.
Vordakai looks at Gazl knowingly and smiles (at least, it kind of looks like a smile), and keeping his gaze on the little cleric lets loose a final blow against Sir Thorne. Gazl again shares the damage and feels his own heart stop. He sees Sir Thorne fall as his vision fades, and as he too hits the hard ground the last thing he hears is the laughter of the wicked cyclops. All goes white, and then there is silence.
Then Gazl hears a sound. It is soft at first but grows, and he realizes it is the voice of a woman singing. And from the white lifelessness begins to emerge the beautiful scene of a river, running through sun dappled woods on a warm, sunny day. Gazl realizes he knows this place, but can’t quite remember from where. Could this be a place he once knew, long ago? On a nearby tree he notices something strange. The words “Bandrgazl + Tryg” are carved into it, low to the ground, in his own handwriting. The second name rings a bell, but once again Gazl fails to recall exactly how…
Then, over the river with a flash of rainbow light, the image of a beautiful human woman appears. She is suspended over the water, and wearing form fitting white robes with modest but finely crafted jewelry. In one hand she holds a glaive which appears too large for someone her size, but which she handles easily. In the other hand she holds a purple rose. After looking briefly at Gazl and smiling, she walks gracefully across the surface of the water, onto the shore, and past Gazl, beckoning him to follow her with a deliberate gesturing with her glaive.
Gazl follows her through the trees until they reach a glade. At its center is a very still pool of water upon which a break in the canopy allows a thick beam of white sunlight to shine. Leaves of various colors fall slowly from high above, landing on the water and sending out ripples that widen lazily. She walks up to the edge. “Gaze into the water, son of the rivers,” she commands. Without a moment’s hesitation he does as she asks. The pool appears to grow in size as he approaches, and by the time he’s at the edge, it has taken up his entire field of view. At first he sees only himself, wearing normal traveler’s clothes and without armor, but the ripples caused by the leaves distort the image. He feels dizzy, and the water seems to rise up at him, washing over him…
Now Gazl finds himself flying swiftly through the halls of Vordakai’s Tomb, and his voice echoes endlessly in his mind. “Fly… Fly… Fly…,” he commands, and Gazl realizes he is seeing through Daeron’s eyes.
Daeron continues to obey Vordakai until, rounding a corner, he disturbs an extremely agitated ghost which wails and moans over some odd, ancient loss. Unsettled by Daeron he lashes out at him, shocking Daeron out of his trance. Daeron turns, leaving the poor soul to its lamenting and flies back toward the room in which he and his allies were fighting. But when he reaches the corner beyond which lies the stair and the pool where they fought the water elemental earlier, he realizes he hears no sound. Though Gazl can not read Daeron’s emotions, his vision trembles a bit, and he knows Daeron is shaking with rage.
“Oh VOOOOORDAKAIIIII!” Daeron yells in a mockingly high tone, “Why don’t you come out here and we can finish what we started, huh?” His voice echoes eerily for a moment, and then there is a long silence.
Suddenly Vordaki rounds the corner, straightening up to his full height, chuckling in his deep, disturbing rumble of a voice. Daeron thrusts forth his hand and fire erupts from his fingers, taking Vordakai by surprise. He raises a hand to shield himself, and when he lowers it, smoke rising from his singed arm, he is no longer smiling. “I’ve had enough. You were fools to come here. The great Vordakai is INVINCIBLE. IMMORTAL. And he can not be defeated by grave robbing upstarts like YOU!” Sneering, Daeron’s other hand also explodes with fire, and Vordakai does not defend himself. It seems as though this time his arms are too heavy to raise in defense, and he is bathed in flames. When the spell is resolved Vordakai stands still, staring hatefully at the witch, smoke rising from his body. He opens his mouth as if to speak again, but there is no sound. Instead, the lich begins to dissolve, and his form collapses into ashes, leaving little but his red, crystalline eye.
Daeron revives Sir Thorne with his healing wand. Together they take stock of their surroundings, and Daeron begins frantically searching for something. He quickly finds a secret room full of ancient, dust covered jars, and begins to smash them angrily until all are left shattered. When this is done they collect the bodies of Rufus and Gazl, and Daeron teleports them outside onto the beach. Daeron then rummages through Gazl’s things until he finds the scroll of Raise Dead. He kneels before Gazl’s body and begins to chant, but Daeron is nervous, as if this spell is not an easy one for him to cast. He makes several attempts while Sir Thorne looks on helplessly, holding back tears, and Daeron slams his fist into the sand several times in frustration uttering curses in strange languages.
Finally the scroll begins to glow blue and white, and Gazl’s body also glows. Gazl is returned to the glade, with the images of this scene still reflecting in the water. The woman is still there, and she speaks to him again. “The choice is yours, son of the rivers. You can stay here, and be with your family again, your friends, reclaim your lost and forgotten life. And when you are ready, you can explore the wonders of the universe, and be forever at peace. Or you can return to the world of the living, to your Iron Tide, and resume the responsibilities you’ve accepted so selflessly.”
Tears well up in Gazl’s eyes, and as he blinks them away, the woman smiles. “I see the answer in your eyes. There is more for you to do in life. Your friends and your burgeoning kingdom need you. Know that this will all still be here when your time comes, and my offer will still stand.”
“Remember, son of the rivers, life is sweet, and the world is beautiful.”
Then the woman pushes Gazl into the water, and with a sharp breath, he finds himself once again on the beach.