The Last Legion of Kalidnay
The last remnants of a destroyed city state find out the dark truth of Athas' fate. Is it hopeless for them to fight against it, or is it their very birthright?
From Session 30:
Inside the study was a very wizened, decrepit man sitting amid endless stacks of dust covered books. The party inquired of him, and he insisted he was not Kalid-Ma, nor Thakok-An. He simply kept records and looked at possibilities. He opened a book and they could see and hear a vision: an old man, badly scarred, riding a gigantic, flying insect-beast. The man seemed vaguely familiar and when his blade song started they knew, then he called for his mount, Malachi, to bring them down below to a large battle between the assembled company and an army.
That was not the future, the man said, that path had closed. And more paths closed all the time now, things were happening so fast. He knew why they came and told them where they could bring proof to Abalach-Re by taking a crown he provided and reuniting it with the blood gem it once held. Then they could call forth items hidden by Kalid-Ma, including a scepter of Abalach-Re’s. The two had tussled for amusement and Abalach-Re knows no one can retrieve the scepter except Kalid-Ma. He advised they empty the crown of its belongings then refashion it into something for the party. The trouble was the gem was in the hands of Yarnath, a powerful necromancer Mul who controlled a giant crawling citadel named Slither.
The man cautioned against the party learning too much, they were precious but they were also expendable, whereas he was a constant. If they were uncovered it was fine, but if he was, then it would all be over.
But they proceeded anyway: who was he then? The man noted he was unusually lucid, perhaps fate’s way of saying he should share. He asked the party to remember the visions and showed them in order and with new entries, beginning at Kalid-Ma mourning her son’s death at the hands of Rajaat, then her conspiring with Thakok-An, the talk of how drastic her plan was, of the name being appropriate since she was abandoning her children, of being dead but attaining immortality of a sorts. Then of the ritual, the gathered templars amplifying her and Thakok-An’s powers then realizing with looks of horror her spell was not what was promised as the sound and light reached a crescendo. Then darkness, and in the darkness and ruins of Kalidnay a hideous twisted man-fetus. And also visible was another darkness somewhere else: the darkness of a tent and a captain of the company, out in the wastes, still not knowing that Kalidnay was destroyed, going about their business.
He explained they were seeing Kalid-Ma’s memories in their minds. Did that explain enough to sate them? They gathered that Kalid-Ma had created a repository of information and being to guide the company throughout the ages. She fashioned this being out of Thakok-An and her memories, and that was the spirit of the company, the “man” they spoke with now. Malachi convinced the man though that not sharing the truth had not worked so far, and as the man said time was running short.
They pressed further: then where is Kalid-Ma? The spirit explained: they are Kalid-Ma. All that was left of her. Unlike Rajaat, who kept his consciousness and ego intact, Kalid-Ma was willing to go further, she destroyed herself entirely. No more entity named Kalid-Ma, but her power living on in the company. The spirit guided it when needed, ebbing away from the party when meeting Ablach-Re so as to not arouse suspicion, flowing into them when facing Kalak so that he could be slain despite being guarded by wards to be unkillable except by another SK.
Rajaat’s weakness was that he was a single consciousness. He didn’t seem to use simulacrum since he couldn't trust them not to turn on him, as he turned on his siblings. But the company was independent, everyone had their free will, the oath did not change that. The spirit simply chose where to channel power and occasionally guided the company with suggestions. Kalid-Ma’s power became undetectable as it ebbed and flowed where needed, and so long as one oathsworn remained, it persisted. Meanwhile the spirit gathered information to counter Rajaat, a failed company mission here, a random contract there, but in sum a vision of a larger plan.
The party feared going into the world with this knowledge and facing Abalach-Re. The group turned to Hogga, offering he take the oath given what he had learned, while planning what to do if he refused. He knelt and uttered the words and the company members understood for the first time the reference to Kalid-Ma's own fate: I rise now stronger than when I knelt, for I was one, now I am legion.