Rise of the Thirteenth
The Missing Years
The four years following the fight against Oloril, and the resulting disaster, are rarely discussed. What is known, what has been discovered and what the survivors are willing to share is presented below.
Alahara, Kaze, and Zinnisaadi rarely discuss their time in the churning chaos of the plane of Kyhtri. Nor are they willing to talk about the fate of Aliella d’Medani who was sent there with them but did not return.
All that Alahara has ever shared is that immediately after their arrival she inadvertently unleashed a psionic scream, which was heard by passing Githzerai spelljammer crew. The Gith rescued the party, and gave them shelter in their haven amidst the chaos.
This haven possessed, among other things, a vast library full of cosmic knowledge. It was here that Zinnisaadi studied, and dramatically advanced her understanding of the arcane arts.
It was also here that Kaze furthered her martial training, winning over the trust of the Gith who came to see her not merely as an elemental but as the personification of the struggle against chaos.
And it was here that Alahara studied with the Gith monks, and further developed her latent psionic talents.
Beyond these broad strokes, little else is known about the years spent among the GIth.
The party would not learn until much later that Gildendorf had been sent to Iron Fang Keep in the far north of Karrnath. They learned this during their infiltration, and the subsequent siege, of the keep from both the resident abactor of the Order of the Emerald Claw, with subsequent elaboration by the child necromancer who instigated the siege.
The details of events surrounding this transformation, as well as everything that transpired afterward until the reunion below Sharn, are unknown.
Stillwater Station and Beyond
Zontar was brought there by Foehammer, as the two found each other wandering the wastes that were once Cyre. Shortly after their arrival Thora, using the ability of her aberrant dragonmark, found Foehammer and thus her former student as well.
The details of the years that followed are sparse, but the trio began to enact a plan to rescue their lost friends from the Kythri, and in the process gather aberrant allies and curtail the efforts of the Inmost, the cult of high binders whom Thora suspected of working with the dragonmarked houses to produce new elemental weapons.
Perhaps the most well documented events during this time were those involving Dick Clark, as she chose to fully share her experiences in the Lhazaar Principalities with her friends, once the revelations were drawn from her by Xu’sastar and Owyyn as part of an elaborate ritual to restore her memories.
After the incident in the binding lab Dick Clark was teleported to a near lightless cavern beneath the Whitepine Forest on the Lhazaar Coast. There he heard whispers growing louder as he felt the shadows moving around him. He tried to assume an imposing shape, that of the half-giant bartender Yenian he met a few earlier in Vathirond. But when the creatures emerged it became clear that no amount of shapechanging would make a difference. They towered over the changeling, the least of them twice his height. Their headless torsos were covered with darting eyes and twitching limbs. Their two massive arms ended in saw-toothed pincers, and they were covered with plates of black chitin and swaths of pink, writhing flesh.
They slithered closer on serpentine tails, each capped with a stinger. And just as Dick’s eyes fixed on any one of them, taking stock to choose his targets and ready his dagger, the creatures shifted and changed. It hurt to even try to focus on them. Dick Clark became dizzy as they rushed towards him, their whispers in his mind clouding all thought until they were upon him, and then inside him, and then they were him. They cut him apart from the inside and then when it felt like everything that he was and will be was spilling out onto the ground they made him whole again, and he collapsed onto an iron floor.
All sense of time was lost, but Dick could hear people gathering around. They made no effort to hide themselves, and while their words to one another seemed like whispers it was clear that they were making no effort to hide themselves or temper their voices. As he looked up he saw them standing at a distance, taking stock. They were robed in strange fabrics and faded colors. Their eyes were sunken but somehow still gave a sense of power. There was something distinctly elvish about these people, but they were like no elves the changeling had ever seen. They were far too alien, to removed, to be what anyone would call an elf. Suddenly there was another voice: louder, yet somehow familiar.
On the far side of the room a man in a wood and iron mask sat on a blackened throne. There was a woman standing next to him, draped in brilliant purple silks. She stopped speaking to the seated man for a moment and took note of the changeling, just as one of the headless creatures slithered up behind her. She spoke something to it and it writhed back into the shadows, flexing its appendages and flicking its eyes in every direction. As Dick watched it depart he noticed others like it squirming their way through the crowd, and other shapes besides floating in the air or slinking in and out of the shadows and deep into the darkness in the ceiling far above.
The seated figure stood and silence filled the room. He was tall and slender, and while clearly powerful he too conveyed a sense of something that had been lost. His cloak and armor appeared faded, his armaments had no luster, and when he spoke it was with an undeniable command and immeasurable grief.
“For untold ages my arcanists have told me that this day would never come. ‘Dal Quor can never become coterminus again. The giants tore it from its orbit and sealed it forever from the other planes’. And yet here we are. And here you are. And while I should doubt their judgment, given their earlier proclamations, they now say that we are anchored to this world. And that you are exuding the same planar magic that is keeping us here.”
With a gesture two guards appeared at Dick’s side, lifting him off the ground by the arms.
“So I must know who you are and where you came from.”
Dick Clark flicked through several forms, some imposing, some mundane, some huge, some small, and as finally one of the chitinous creatures he saw in the cave and said “I am everyone and I am no one. My arrival here is as confusing to me as it is to you. I came here by means of a torrential magical explosion that was quite out of my control.”
Murmurs ripple through the crowd as the masked king laughed. “Perhaps I should have introduced myself first.” With an upward flick of his hand the guards holding Dick seemed to take a step and suddenly they were all high above the crowd. The guards immediately dropped him and disappeared, and he plummeted to the ground. Shadows coalesced and grabbed him just moments before he hit the iron floor, and just as he was catching his breath they slammed the changeling face down at the feet of the king. The guards once again lifted Dick to his feet, now badly bloodied. The masked lord’s voice boomed through the chamber like a hammer striking an anvil. “I AM ”/characters/shan-doresh" class=“wiki-content-link”>SHAN DORESH, AND I WILL NOT BE TRIFLED BY SOME DECADENT CHANGELING."
He grabbed Dick by the throat with his left hand, choking him. “Your kind was always been the least of the fey, always serving a greater master. And you expect me to believe you have no idea why this has happened or how you came to be here?”
The changeling derisively spat a spray of blood in the masked lord’s face. Shan Doresh dropped him to the ground and Dick gasped for air, which he found painfully cold, stale and thin. Shan Doresh turned his back as the guards once again seized Dick and began to walk back to the throne, dragging him along. “Whom do you serve? The Court of the Silver Tree? The Winter Citadel? The City of Rose and Thorn? How did they bring us back, and to what end?” Shan Doresh turned on his heel. “Or perhaps that hag, Sora Kell?”
The woman in purple placed her hand on his shoulder, and whispered in his ear. Shan Doresh nodded, and seated himself as she glided towards the changeling. She had an otherworldly beauty and grace, and her violet eyes sparkled with a fierce inner light. She appeared human, and seemed at once delicate and imperious, dressed in an elaborate headdress that held back a river of jet black hair. A silver seed pendant hangs around her flawless neck.
Shan Doresh waved his hand dismissively and said “It would be pointless to continue this exercise. It would only frustrate all involved including myself, when there is a much simpler way to learn the truth.”
The exquisite woman leaned in close and parted her lips. Out of her mouth crawled an ethereal tendril, twitching and lashing. It unfurled into countless spines and suddenly plunged itself down the changeling’s throat. Dick could feel her tendril working its way into his thoughts.
What followed was three years of torment, a living nightmare as his body and mind were broken apart and reassembled, over and over again. Everything that Dick Clark ever thought and ever experienced was dissected and analyzed. Countless arcane rituals were performed to sniff out any traces of planar magic that still lingered around him. Dick could feel them walking through his mind, reliving all of his life from every possible vantage point. They spent long months frozen in a moment, in the Mournland, at the University, in the Eyes of the Beholder, in the gutters beneath Sharn, and in places he didn’t even remember being.
They would seemingly release him into the world, and Dick Clark would wander, lost and alone until he starved to death before suddenly finding himself back at the University, shunned and tormented until he leapt from the towers to the lower city, miles below. He watched his friends storm the feyspire and slay Shan Doresh and his minions, only to retrieve some gem and leave him hanging from a briar of bone and thorn that never stopped tearing his flesh. He once found a family, belonging and peace only to see the war start again and everything he loves turned to ash.
And then one day Dick Clark realized that they finished studying him long ago. Anything useful they could have derived from him they did, and now they were simply feeding. They were nourishing themselves on his nightmares. Horrid creatures had taken up residence in the recesses of his mind, tearing apart strands of his memories to form their nests.
All sense of time and reality was long lost when Shan Doresh finally came before Dick Clark again. He drew his sword and cut him from the briar. “You once told me that you were everyone and no one. And I replied that changelings always had a master. I am here to make both of us honest.”
The masked king beckoned for a strange woman, clad in flowing strips of writhing white silk. She was covered from head to toe, with only her mouth and hands exposed, and in them she clutched a silver moon pendant.
“I have been too long parted from the world,” he said. “And I find that my blades have all become dulled. Become my weapon. Serve ”/wikis/the%20Fortress%20of%20the%20Fading%20Dream/new" class=“create-wiki-page-link”>the Fortress of the Fading Dream and I will take away all memory of what happened here and give you power beyond your ken."
Dick Clark struggled to remember who he was and what he could do, and searched deep into what he thinks may have been his past to find an imposing form to assume. The result was something of an abomination, with misshapen limbs, too many eyes and a mouth that occupied more than half of his face. Dick kicked out in a feeble attempt to strike Shan Doresh, who merely grabbed the leg and pulled the changeling into the air by it.
“After all this time, everything you have seen, that is the best you can do? I can unleash all of the hatred and pain and teach you how to give it form. I can give you power to shape the darkness to your will, to become a part of it and move through it as easily as drawing breath. I can teach you to become everything.”
Shan Doresh dropped him to the floor. “You’ve taken everything from me already”, Dick Clark said, “If you’re going to make me beg you might as well kill me now.”
“The Paranymph does not require a plea”, the masked king replied. “Just a kiss.”
Defeated, Dick Clark adopted a grotesque visage and consented. The Paranymph glided across the floor and began to whisper into the pendant in her hands:
“Nilal kaluttuppattiyutanana, nilal mulam portsttinal,”
The shadows in the room lengthened and danced wildly, lifting themselves from every surface.
“Iruttil hpet vaḷarum marrum ninaivukaḷ,”
The changeling felt a terrible pounding in his mind, as if something were trying to get out and something else was trying to break in.
“Illai karunai valankappatum, enta marana atiyaka tanki,”
Every nerve in his body was on fire, seething with pain and hate. The shadows seemed to cover the whole world. Everything grew silent, and all he could see was the white, writhing silks of the Paranymph and her lips as she whispered “Eppotum vakkai pinaikkappatta.”
She kissed Dick Clark and his mind exploded. Silver light erupted from his eyes and mouth and danced around his head until it formed a chain around his neck. The weight was unbearable and he collapsed to the ground.
Some time later he was released into the world, and marched out into the snow, out from the glowering towers of iron behind him, beneath an alien sky. He was not running from the shadows. He was stalking towards the light. The bright points of light in the darkness where men huddle around the fire to keep the terrors of the night at bay. Where women read faerie stories to their children by candlelight as they tuck them safely into bed. Where students read ancient tomes of a world better left forgotten.
Dick Clark vowed to find their light and snuff it out.
Some time later Dick Clark found herself at a bar in Cliffscrape. There she began a reign of terror, of which she remembers little. She remembered assaulting a barman, a spindly arm shooting out from beneath her cloak and stretching half a dozen feet to pin the proprietor against the wall behind the bar. Dick remembers forming the words “Bring them to me. Bring the women and children here.” She remembers the scrape of chairs, the clatter of scabbards, and the growing roar of men behind her, and her cloak tearing to shreds as eleven more arms shot out of her back, piercing flesh and crushing bone, stopping all those advancing toward her dead in their tracks. And she remembers her head as it swiveled and wobbled backwards on an ever-lengthening neck, and her whispered words to the men still standing in the now silent room: “Bring them all to me now.”
Dick does not remember the details of the massacre that followed, but recalls standing in a muddy street with droplets of blood raining down from an impossibly tall, twisting tree whose trunk and limbs are made from the flayed bodies of the villagers.
Following many such attacks up and down the coastline Dick Clark became an infamous, nightmare creature. One of the Sea Princes hired a band of mercenaries, including Lorelei Greensleaves, to kill the newly made monster and restore peace and order to the port towns along the Lhazaar coast. Lorelei’s party was unable to do so, and she barely escaped her first encounter with Dick Clark with her life and one of his daggers.