Buoyed by Apsu’s Wing, the Maelstrom hovers a safe distance beside a subterranean ruin of the Opalescent Cathedral. You all disembark along with the ominous memitim who has silently observed your actions near the spire. She flutters over to a magic circle, and upon touching down, she vanishes.
“So, did anyone bother to ask her name?” complains Akane “Really? No one? Come on guys!”
Without hesitating, the hellknight and griffon retrieve their petrified companion and leap onto the symbol. “Well, I guess we’ll sort out the details later,” exclaims Papa. He chain-climbs over to the magical gateway and the rest follow.
You find yourselves inside a great hall, vaulted high for the likes of dragons. Like an orderly grove of trees, great columns obscure your view of two great wyrms that cautiously circle an immense prismatic anvil wreathed with crackling energy. This coruscating object is the only source of illumination in the room, causing all shadows to dance. Dust and debris fall in scattered rivulets between aftershocks. The dragons roar, and more is said between them than any comprehend.
With little to no apprehension, Araris and Weyland approach their patron deity. The others hang back to speak with the memitim and to keep their Alcades statue from toppling over.
“That one’s not a dragon is it?” blurts Papa. “He’s that Ballsack… shit… Barzhak the Passage everyone’s talking about.” Samdi winces, half expecting to be smote.
The memitim solemnly answers, “You are correct. Fortunately for you, he is an impartial enforcer for our Lady of Graves and a powerful yamaraj psychopomp. Observe how he keeps Apsu away from his forge. This is truly Pharasma’s domain. The Waybringer will not have his way in her absence.” She points her scythe towards the anvil.
Apsu’s awesome predatory prowl freezes as his servitors approach. Directly across the anvil, Barzahk yawns and rests on his feathered haunches. “Greetings Grulios and Laertes, legends of my own making, sworn to end the Pakthryxl unleashed on mortal dragonkind by the Sept of Grayscale,” says Apsu in noble draconic. “Why are you conspiring over a cursed orb of dragonkind? Must my own champions join Abadar, Pharasma and the growing pantheon who dare to manage a dragon’s struggle without my consent?
“Don’t forget Nethys. We have confirmed his involvement as well.” adds Weyland. Apsu seethes.
Araris intercepts, “First, in response to your greeting and the question you should have asked, we are here in pursuit of Deevdrukifel, also known as Slate.”
Apsu’s great eyes widen. Giant cat-like pupils dilate and fiery retinas draw taught in god-like concentration and rapid awareness. “The River of Souls!” he growls.
“You mean, the Styx?” asks Weyland.
“In part,” replies Apsu. “Souls are mysterious things. (Apsu looks the android up and down.) They are forged, destroyed and conveyed not by gods, but for some greater purpose. Like tributaries, they feed greater bodies across the planes when loosed from mortal status. These are known by many names across the inner spheres – lakes of fire, grand wells, endless seas and rivers of wind. They are the great migratory routes of astral leviathans, and here in the outer worlds, they are the many branches of the River Styx.”
“And these rivers are beyond your senses,” Weyland computes. “That is why Slate, and perhaps the entire gray sept travels them.” Apsu boils.
Araris quickly interrupts again, “To answer your actual questions, we do so conspire with Abadar for the larger goal of ending the Pakthryxl. Your charge remains. We believe that by quelling the draconic quarrel democratically, the grays may be satisfied to end the Pakthryxl.”
“There is no way Apsu will let Ternockifel off the hook that easy,” says Papa. “Right Alcades? Oh, uh… Anyway, there’s only one solution for this kind of thing.” He tightens his chains for a knuckle-cracking effect. “Slate has got to go one way or another.”
“Yeah, well the grays got screwed as I see it,” Akane defends. “They deserve a fair shot after one whole eon of a raw deal. Besides, I have just the right map for this kind of venture. What do you think captain?”
Boniva picks at his teeth and tips his fancy hat towards Apsu. “That the apocalypse is nigh,” he says.
“THE GRAYS WILL FACE JUSTICE!” roars Apsu.
“PHARASMA WILL FREE THE SOULS LOST TO TERNOCKIFEL’S PAKTHRYXL, OR I MUST BEGIN THE FINAL FLIGHT OF DRAGONS! THAT IS WHY I AM HERE – NOT ONLY AS THE GOD OF DRAGONKIND, BUT AS A GOD OF THE END TIMES. FORGIVE ME GROTEUS.”
“BARZAHK THE PASSAGE, REMOVE YOUR SANCTIONS. ARARIS GRULIOS, RETRIEVE THE ORB AND PLACE IT ON THE ANVIL.”
Akane, Boniva and Papa are suddenly sheltering Alcades’ form as the room shakes and begins to crumble. A portion of wall falls away to reveal the looming face of Groteus. The moon’s orbit actively decays. Barzahk lies down for a nap.
“What in the nine hells!” yells Papa. “So much for stopping the Pakthryxl if the world ends in some dragon war!”
“NO WYRM BURIED IN DRAGONFALL WILL SLEEP DURING THE FINAL FLIGHT! DO NOT IGNORE THE CRIMES OF THE GRAY SEPT. TO ELECT THEIR FATE INVITES THE RAGE OF MY SON. THIS IS THE MADNESS OF THE ORB!”
Dahak is the offspring of Apsu. All gray dragons are the offspring of Daariv’Ux (last platinum mother). Dartakithquent (hatred of the gods) is the offspring of Ternockifel (gray scale) and Annyodask’Kifel (last grey mother)… thinks Weyland as the cosmos begin to unfurl.
The memitim enshrouds Alcades’ protectors with her wings. She says, “As mortals, I presume this is your first apocalypse. Allow me to explain. You see, many gods are gathering in anticipation of the cosmic consequences of Grayscale’s pakthryxl, one of which may become the continuation of a truly ancient feud that has burned entire worlds. Though tragic, Dahak’s curse upon platinum-kind has kept this feud at bay during their stay on Golarion.”
“WHY DO YOU HESITATE?”
“What if this is exactly what Grayscale wants?” asks Weyland.
“Apsu, no one wishes new ignore injustice.” says Araris. “How can all creation ignore what is happening? That is why the gods hold counsel. Don’t expect…”
Weyland unexpectedly interjects, “Apsu, we have reason to believe that Grayscale is terminally aged. Can you divine his fate.” Araris raises a brow.
Distracted by the subject, Apsu reads into Weyland’s question. He says, “Grayscale has evaded me since the Age of Destiny. He grows old the same way he remains captured. That is to say, he doesn’t.”
“Then what about his mate, the last gray mother?”
“Of what interest is it to you starborn?”
Weyland responds, “I can count all of living gray-kind with my hands. You will make these very dragon’s answer for the entire sept’s crimes throughout history. A thorough accounting is in order.” A certain Hellknight nods proud approval.
Following a moment’s reflection across boundaries of the mortal plane, Apsu states,” Grayscale will mourn that she has died after prolonged twilight in the Scar of the Spider. She leaves behind an clutch of cold gray eggs in the care of her surviving daughter.”
Papa approaches. “Hi guys. Not to break the mood or anything, but can somebody fix Alcades? He’s gonna be real pissed that he missed everything.”
“I am really pissed that I missed everything,” grumps Alcades. “Hey, a giant prismatic anvil!” He jumps on it. The yamaraj was really asleep now, so the magical barrier had already subsided.
Apsu breaks a short silence to say, “Very well, carry Abadar’s dragon orb of consent. At least these gray wyrmlings are innocent, if alive. However, if Deevdrukifel (Slate) has indeed passed over the Styx in Pharasma’s Cathedral, he will have entered the astral realm in search of the Obelisks of Fortune. Votes and the orb will not stop him from cursing the primal septs. Go now and stop him once and for all.”
Apsu bites the anvil he would have used to destroy the orb, which causes Alcades to jump out of the way. He leaves behind six teeth as parting gifts. With these, the party may obtain a third mythic rank. The Waybringer also reminds the crew that there is knowledge and power in the obelisks. (There is literally money in the banana stand!)
Everyone recalls their experience with the Obelisks of Destiny. The other obelisks should have similar records. Finding a great wyrm from every sept would be much easier with that kind of information. Also, would writing your names on each obelisk grant further draconic power? Hwuaahhhh?
Then, Apsu opens a rift in the ambulatory to physically throw the Maelstrom (ship) into the Astral Plane.