9th day of June 2015
The soldiers of Gildhaven huddled together, waiting nervously for the dawn. They knew, via a magical sending from Sophia to their warden Arkas, that once the sun rose the High Council would arrive on a gigantic flying banana, and that their raid of the Cheliax capital would begin. The city of Egorian bristled with steel, as an army far outnumbering that of Gildhaven, confident that their devil-worshipping overlords would protect them, waited in position in and around the city’s stone walls.
The silhouette of the banana approached against the backdrop of the rising sun. Gildhaven’s soldiers sighed and polished their weapons, perhaps for the last time. They assumed their battle formations. Arkas gathered his elite special squads. Bob, The Assassin Who Says Nee, Control-Alt-Backspace, and Cyber-Soldier were to separate from the army and plant a high-tech bomb (that Gildhaven had procured by agreement with visiting aliens earlier), to blast open a giant hole in the city’s wall to make way for Gildhaven’s army to burst through. Wasili, Starbula, and Orion were to take out Cheliax’s commanding staff, which would leave their army in disarray.
Meanwhile on the banana, members of Gildhaven’s High Council and its retinue — Zarcane, Trogdor, an arcane archer, Faze, Azog, Sophia, The Flash, and Undead Elvis — gathered around the strange metal plate with alien writing that The Assassin Who Says Nee had procured from the enemy camp. Undead Elvis informed them that it spoke of some mysterious plan to surround the enemy with a magical or alien force, and that the device was located in their palace. The High Council resolved to strike hard and early into the palace to stop such a device before it gave a decisive advantage to Cheliax in the battle.
The battle began. The first strike team fashioned a hole in the ancient city’s shell quite quickly; but they were soon accosted by desperate legions of the army of Cheliax seeking to regain control of the breach. The second strike team used illusion and guile to get ever closer to the Cheliax command staff, Wasili disguising himself as various members of the enemy as they did so.
Sophia assumed overall command from high above in the banana, as the third, high-level group teleported into Egorian’s palace without incident. However, they soon found themselves in quite a bind, as they were soon transported into younger, inexperienced versions of themselves.
A dragon — with black scales and large, menacing fangs — alighted itself nearby.
“How come I can’t make more than one attack per round anymore?”
“What happened to all my cool, glowing magic stuff?”
“I am still me… But I feel like this is what I used to be… as in a past life…”
Zarcane, Gerish, Scot, a human fighter with a treasure hold at home full of traps, Bilbo Baggins, a younger Undead Elvis, and Baenska, now bereft of much of their power, blundered their way through the castle.
The three groups were now in desperate straits, the fate of Gildhaven hanging in the balance. But they were able to succeed partly with the buffs conferred by their high-tech, supersonic Klondike Bars©.
The third group found a magical crystal in the palace. They smashed it, which resolved the paradox in time and space, but it returned them to the nightmarish present. A red and black vortex swirled above the city, with barbed devils flying down from above. The giant banana crashed to the ground, lying smushed next to the palace. The third group, now restored to their full powers, ran to the palace courtyard and made battle with the devils.
The other strike teams arrived at the same time — the first group that had blasted through the wall arrived outside the palace gates, and the second group that had neutralized Cheliax’s commanders arrived from inside the palace.
A towering, scaled figure with flame-etched, giant wings flew down from the vortex as it closed. It was a Pit Fiend, but wearing a crown and even more powerful than other pit fiends. This was a Duke of Hell.
“Fools of Cheliax! You have failed in protecting my portal! I will now need to come and do this work for myself!” he boomed. He stretched out a claw and pointed it toward the high-level heroes. “Blasphemy!”
Many of the High Council froze in place, Undead Elvis’ music still ringing in the air. Only Sophia and the arcane archer still had any command over their senses. The Duke of Hell summoned lemure devils, roiling lumps of flesh with eyes, to busy the ones who had arrived at the gates. The Assassin Who Says Nee walked up the gates with her magical boots, as Arkas and his flying leopard surrounded the lemures. Bob stood at the gates.
The barbed devils descended upon the paralyzed High Council members and tore off the heads of Trogdor, The Flash, and Faze. The Duke of Hell gloated and laughed, as ghosts under his command rose from their headless forms. He launched meteors down upon the High Council, bathing them in fire. Starbula flew up toward him, and The Assassin Who Says Nee peppered him with arrows that seemed to bounce off him, and the rest dealt with the barbed devils.
But soon a flurry of arrows, aimed true at the hands of the arcane archer, rose up toward the Duke of Hell. He looked down at each arrow in dismay as each seemed to foil his numerous defenses. One penetrated his heart, and he hurtled toward the ground. Sophia, not content with someone else having the last word, suffocated many of the remaining barbed devils.
The Duke of Hell crashed, leaving a giant crater and causing a massive earthquake. The Heroes of Gildhaven struggled to keep their balance, but soon their wobbling transformed into a massive, coordinated victory dance.
They gathered, talking excitedly about what lay for the future, now that the forces of Cheliax had been defeated. Would they try to control a nation that once worshipped devils? How would Cheliax relate to the nation of Gildhaven? Or would they merge together and form a single nation?
They turned to the senior members of the High Council for advice. But they were now nowhere to be seen. Only Wasili, Arkas, Starbula, and Orion remained. The others were gone.
They only could hear a deep voice coming from the sky.
“Love me tender… love me true…”
Ronulus floated down from over the city wall and shook his head sadly.
“It would seem that some of the High Council had only a temporary sojourn here in Gildhaven. They are already gone.”
Everyone gasped. They accosted Ronulus with questions, which he ceased with a firm, steady hand. Then they chattered some more and he cast mythic silence.
“All along, they knew they were going to leave us, and move on to bigger and brighter things. Our small nation… was but a prelude to even grander adventures.”
The remaining heroes of Gildhaven looked at each other confused. They turned to Ronulus.
“O Ronulus, Great Ruler of Gildhaven! But that does not make any sense! What else could be grander, more awesome and cool, than felling great monsters, firing guns, uncovering mysterious treasures, and altering reality with our very words? What can surpass becoming the heroes of our age?”
Ronulus looked at them, a look of bemusement on his face.
“Ah! The answer to your questions will come… in due time. But leave such concerns the future! Now there are far more pressing matters to settle: you now have a great nation to run.”
They returned to their excited talk of plans for their nation.
Ronulus looked up at the sky, which by now had cleared and shone blue.
Sighing, he knew that even his mythic magic could not aid the departing heroes against the challenges to come. He quietly whispered a wish for success on their next adventures.