Dark Sun: Grave Burden

E26: Severance

With Uriah's throat to the sword and hand on the olive branch, the characters fail to reach a non-violent agreement on his fate and that of his Keep.

Confrontation in the Temple of Iax-Cavaka

Hanibaal Demontes orders Paxitus and his mercenaries to kill Uriah, but Nataku intervenes, transmutating into a large elemental of water, in an attempt to bar the coup ordered by Hanibaal.

Uriah exhorts a miracle from Iax-Cavaka, which becomes clear when Paxitus attempts to strike the high priest with one of his calhulaks; the head of the weapon strikes Uriah on the shoulder, but his priestly magic redirects the trauma directly unto Paxitus himself, and the mercenary is seriously wounded on his own shoulder. This removes Paxitus from the fight.

When Paxitus, Kalihana Cloudslaughter, and the half-giant Crimson Rider fail to slay Uriah, Nataku beckons them to yield. Uriah’s acolytes summon elementals of their own, using the pebbled pews in the nave of the temple to take shape into materialized sentinels of their god.

The Acolytes and Uriah use no aggressive miracles toward Hanibaal and his hired mercenaries. Nor does Nataku.

Hanibaal begins to weave a life-leeching necromantic spell aimed at Uriah and his acolytes, but the power fizzles out of his hands as he fumbles to recall the invocation correctly. He then readjusts himself, and attempts to drain the life-force of Uriah alone, but the high priest resists the leeching, and stands firmly atop the stairs leading to the temple’s chancel, unwincing. Once Nataku witnesses Hanibaal wielding magic at Uriah and his acolytes, he barrels toward him in an attempt to stop him from harming anyone further. Hanibaal evades by a hair, but lands prone on the temple’s stone floor.

When the pew beds transform into large humanoid elementals, Hanibaal regains his footing and flees reluctantly soon thereafter, running back for the surface.

The Crimson Riders are compelled to surrender, but not after an unwise retaliation strike from the elf Kalihana, which fails to wound Nataku in his aberrant form. They lay down their weapons, and leave the temple for the surface.

Nataku speaks with Uriah thereafter. Uriah thanks him for his help, and is willing to answer the water priest’s questions. After discussing the prospect of Nataku forging a mutual allegiance of respect with Uriah, as well as the construction of a temple devoted to Nataku’s patron primordials elsewhere on the island, Uriah asks Nataku to diplomatically sort Hanibaal’s army away from his Keep. In return, Nataku influences Uriah to stop killing criminals shipped from Balic so frivolously, and to only take in proven defilers. They agree, and Nataku returns to the surface.

The storm of stone

Hanibaal remains in the temple, staying silent and waiting in the halls above while he ponders his next move. When Paxitus, Kalihana, and the spear-wielding half-giant leave for the surface, they run into Hanibaal, who catches their ears. He tells them that their job isn’t over quite yet, to their disappointment. Hanibaal still plans to take the Keep from Uriah and kill him, but first he establishes a lie that the high priest has Nataku under his control, and turned him against the army and relinquishing the brutal religious operation carried out by the priests of Iax-Cavaka.

Bound by contract, Paxitus reluctantly goes along with Hanibaal, who still seems confident he can end Uriah.

Hanibaal approaches the others outside, which include Javairre and his Veiled cell, the Iche De’wrath, and Dalamar. They are wondering to ask what transpired below in the temple, and Hanibaal explains that Uriah turned Nataku for his own will, and drove them out with violence. Hanibaal appeals to the emotions of his listeners, bringing up the heinous past actions of Uriah, his malevolence toward the Veiled Alliance, and the possibility of Javairre’s cell being re-captured and sent back if Uriah is kept alive.

Grobulus, Zagaulo, and Korvath seem sated by rescuing Javairre from certain death, but they mull over Hanibaal’s reasons to dethrone and kill Uriah to prevent future problems. Hanibaal asks Korvath to conjure up an illusory bonfire in the center of the fortress, to which Korvath inquires why he would need such a thing. Hanibaal mentions a plan to draw out Uriah and have him slain by the archers atop the walls (perhaps using the fire as a distraction? – this needs to be clarified). The others aren’t too keen to comitting more violence, as the Veiled Alliance members only desired to free Javairre from his imprisonment to begin with.

Hanibaal’s intentions become clear that he considers the rescue of Javairre only a small part of a larger plan to gain control over the Keep for his own. However, in mid-discussion, a swirling dark cloud begins to form above the keep, quickly amassing a coverage several kilometres wide. The newly awakened morning sun streams through the clouds in thin rays, and suddenly, ant-sized pebbles begin raining from the sky. Within a few moments, the pebbles grow to the size of berries and increase in abundance, which reduces visibility and stings the flesh of everyone in the storm.

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