Astinus of Palanthas
22nd day of fourthmonth
6th year of the Age of Mortals
Midwatch, by Krynn reconning
Ever since my acquisition of the Orb of Present Time Passing, on the almost unique occasions when there is absolutely nothing of note occurring on Krynn, I turn my gaze to other worlds. On one of these orbs I have turned my gaze I viewed an incident whose telling I shall now chronicle as an outside observer, and perhaps offer my own opinions …
It was a motley conglomeration – a dwarven wizard, adorned by gear of his own crafting; his truted companion, a noble human healer, but oddly devoid of any deific rainments; a dwarven warrior with his custom made axe; a dwarven hunter who specialized in extraplanar evils; and a social halfling, who seems best suited to city life. They appeared in a temple of a minor dwarven deity, dedicated to inebriation and rash action. But as I began to hear their words, it was clear their plan was not one or rashness, but urgent necessity.
This city was divided into nine quadrants by belief in a governing system and behavioral lifestyle choices. One of these quadrants is ruled by an aged vampire of more than 2000 years. For over 2000 years he has not had a single challenger, especially a priest of a deity dedicated to goodness or life. This defines the true character of the city, as the whole city reflects the power of the vampire, as those who would brand themselves good show their true colors with their utter indifference, or cowering fear, thus being part of the evil since they so readily help to sustain it, by committing no real act to oppose it.
This conglomerate of a group, I speak again of the dwarves and their companions, had moved on from the temple during the late afternoon hours to the mansion of the vampire lord. It was here that the wizard received some sort of message. I can not tell what it was, but based on his response, it was clear that the wizard believed no one would ever stand up to this horriffic evil, and the burden would fall to him and his ilk.
They entered the lobby and were directed to the banquet hall by a trained dire wolf. It was in this hall where they, the dwarven wizard especially, would undergo a test – known in other places and times as the Kobayashi Maru. The Vampire Lord appeared and began challenging the team. He himself possessed an artifact beyond the reconning of mortal ken – one even beyond my notable understanding. This artifact could bend magic and unmake any living object by touch. Plus, above the party was a swarm of vampires, all of whom appeared to be wizards of notable order in their former lives and all adept at the art of counterspelling (** Editor’s note, see the Improved Counterspelling feat, PHB). As the vampires began battling from a three dimensional perch, the human got herself caught in magical drapes, and had to struggle mightily not to be held indefinitely.
The Vampire Lord made himself invisible, and even to the spectacularly trained eye of the human, could not be seen in the expanse of the hall. At this point fel abberations began exiting the rift in the hall, only to be swiftly dropped by the hunter. However, at one point he only gravely wounded one, allowing it and the one behind it to enter the room. They then proceeded to incapacitate the human and halfling (who had made a respectable accounting for themselves by maximizing the use of their abilities and creativity), for what would be the rest of their natural lives. At this point, the Vampire Lord reemerged, with one stated goal – to make the wizard his thrall. In his frustration, the wizard, who saw more of his spells neutralized than come to fruition due to the platoon of vampire magi of such magnificent level as to be able to stop nearly every spell he cast – and dispel every summoned creature, threw down his axe. He now understood the plight of himself and the party, as well as the evil that infected the rest of the city.
Death was the most preferable outcome, and the Vampire Lord was fighting with his all to prevent it.
Having been beaten down with vampiric intent to subdue him, and seeing no help coming from anywhere, he had tested the waters with a lightning bolt spell. Having seen that the platoon of spell turners had no command nor need to stop spells of an electrical nature, he chose to abide by the words of his father one last time.
Win or lose, try your best, but above all, cheat. Cheat your ass off.
By virtue of his sleight of hand he had convinced the platoon another electrical blast was coming. He then palmed his magical rod, and then planted a fireball of the highest order in such a place as to kill 4 vampires, and deny the Vampire Lord his prize. The smirk on his face as death took him was one last insult to the Vampire Lord, for no matter how the battle ended, the Vampire Lord was denied his prize, and thus any victory was hollow and pyric.
The vampire lord than used the sphere of unmaking to destroy the immobilized human and halfling (**editor’s note, clearly out of spite). The hunter, knowing he has better odds of surviving in the evil that was the abyss, dove through the portal. The warrior, upon the wizard’s flying carpet, was swarmed by vampires, who were hell bent on draining his life essence. In a feat of Sargonnassian strength, he broke his bonds and made all due haste to the portal. Even the Vampire Lord, with one final act of hatred, was unable to stop the warrior from making it through the portal. The Vapire Lord won, in so far as the only light of good in the city stood up to him and was thwarted, and his eventual conquering of the city is now only a matter of time, and not much of it at that. However, his rage at being denied the prizes he so sorely wanted is a defeat he will carry with him.
At this point, I lost sight of the manor as I am interrupted by my trusted assistant, Bertrem. A local priestess has come to seek my council, and I must make time for her, albeit brief. I consider the priestesses’ path as compared to that of the wizard, and how when she rose to fight the evil, the populace and the forces of good rose with her and drove the evil back to the darkness, as compared to the dwarves and company, who were abandoned to the darkness.
In closing, I quote the words of another human priest.
There is another kind of evil, we should fear most. And that is the indifference of good men.
Astinus of Palanthas