Time. It’s a tricky thing. A rather clever man… or perhaps it was a woman… said that time is not actually linear like most people think. Instead it’s more of a ‘wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey’ ball of… well, stuff.
Whatever the case, I was rather taken aback when my little party of adventurers came practically falling out of the front doors of Redbridge’s temple, beaten and half-dead.
For reasons I won’t go into here, I immediately knew it wasn’t right. It COULDN’T be right.
Trust me, it takes a lot to surprise me. But this certainly made me pause, if only for second. “This…I… don’t understand…This is not how it is supposed to happen. “
Now, I have a lot of options at my disposal. Some, many in fact, are rather dangerous. That’s what you get when you’re dealing with the very fabric of the multiverse. But just this once, I knew it had to be done. I shook away whatever troubled thoughts my eyes betrayed.
“No! No, it can NOT end this way. It has already happened! They MUST defeat him!”
Resolute, I stepped forward and gestured in a wide arch, casting a spell no one should.
And Everything. Goes. Dark.
When their vision returns, they likely have no idea how much time has passed. Things will feel the same, yet… different at the same time. Fleeting memories they know happened fighting with alternate versions trying to push those images out, both personal memories as well as history not match up as it once did. It’s not pleasant for the uninitiated, enough to make one vomit.
Then it will be gone. The world will come back into focus, and they will find themselves still in the town square. Bemnar’s axe has just sliced through the incorporeal form of that poor ghostly woman. She’ll scream and dissipate. Fanny will climb to her feet, the ghost’s scream still ringing in her ears. They will all turn towards the large oak doors of the Temple just in time to see two ghouls enter and disappear into darkness. That’s when it will hit them: they have been here before. They know that Kulag is in there. And they will be unable to resist the pull as they move towards the doors and enter.
Once again, the ghouls prove no issue.
They enter the cathedral’s sanctuary and feel the sensation that this is both the first time they have done so, but also that they have done this exact thing just a short time ago.
The necromancer, Kulag, stands on the raised dais at the far end, his back to them, chanting in a language none of them can hope to understand and is almost… painful to hear.
As they enter, Kulag stops speaking and looks back over his shoulder, and insane grin on his face.
“Come to give your flesh to the dark messiah? Yes, Yes! Much better to give it now. He will devour it soon anyhow.. “
The adventurers will attack, but this time they will have just a bit more knowledge of what is to come. The Blade Barrier appears, but they avoid it. They close in on the necromancer sooner than they did in their previous foggy memory. He summons an ally, an enormous Dire Bat, but our merry band is relentless this time around. Kulag puts up a fight, but there is no room for his arrogance this time.
The shock in his eyes fades into disappointment when the final blow lands. He will die with the knowledge that his dark messiah was not there to save him.
Vignette #6: The Aftermath
You exit the temple, exhausted and wounded, but alive. The last vestiges of the battle sound in the distance, just as the morning sun chases away the darkness of night. Soldiers and citizens, many you recognize, gather about. You see the druidess, Savara, walking through the square. The extraordinarily rare sight of her in town draws stares of wonder from the townsfolk. She ignores the looks though, and spots Anders Moonshade, the well known town scoundrel. The Elf druidess walks quickly to the bloody and battered half-elf and pulls him into a tight embrace. At the same time, you follow her gaze to see Rask standing on the far side of the square. They seem to share a bittersweet smile before Rask turns back to deal with the aftermath of the battle.
All around the town takes in the end results of the battle. Soldiers gather bodies of the fallen, both citizens and undead, while farmers carry buckets to put out the last of a building fire. You see Judge Valin solemnly covering the body of Satya with a white cloth. Nearby, the usually composed Lady Kristen cries uncontrollably into Sister Amara’s shoulder. Sheriff Blackwing walks through the square, ignoring the acolytes trying to tend his wounds, his axe ensuring that the dead stay that way.
That’s when you realize that a number of people are staring at all of you standing on the steps of the temple. Some point at you as they whisper to one another. Soon you all have the attention of a large crowd. A cheer rings out and quickly overtakes the assembly. The townsfolk shout over and over, calling you the heroes of Redbridge.
Far in the back, you see Amadeus leaning on his staff. Even from this distance, you meet his eyes and see the smile on his face before watching him fade out of existence and disappear.