Sunday 9th July 1498 – Afternoon
We rode hard for Trinité-sur-Mer hoping to catch a ferry along the coast to Sandpoint. Unfortunately a storm was brewing by the time we arrived and it was only a large purse of gold and jewels that convinced the ferryman to take us across. It could not fit all of us at once, so we left Pierre and two of the horses behind.
Once on the far coast we rode hard for Sandpoint. We were briefly impeded by an elf named Roberto, a druid that we had befriended at Sandpoint many weeks ago, who was trying to stop us from proceeding. He mumbled something about eternal devourment or some nonsense but Guillaume was having none of it and ran him through with his lance with a single pass. As the body of the elf slid off and onto the ground, the three wolves that were accompanying him turned and fled into the rain. We continued towards the town.
We came to the Cathedral on the outskirts first of all and were greeted by Jean-Luc and Eric, two of the local folk who pleaded with us to give them food – I gave them what rations we could spare. We asked them about the Thin Man and they claim to have looked into his eyes as he passed by and as they did a maddening hunger coursed through their bodies. When pressed for information on where the man had been seen going they claimed he was making his way out to Chopper Isle.
We skirted around the outside of the town, deciding that the safety of doing so would be worth the additional time it might take and despite wanting to check in to ensure Kendra, Moella and Father Francois were alright and arrived at the coast without incident.
Fortunately the tide was out and we were able to cross the sandbar connecting Sandpoint to Chopper Isle, although I was near swept out to sea by the now crashing waves and driving rain. A potion of levitation, long kept for a grievous occasion, allowed me to make it back to shore and to help the others climb the sheer cliff face of the Island. When we all reached the plateau we could see Famine in the distance by a cluster of hovels, but he seemed distracted and paid us no mind.
Two young children ran to us from the brush. We eyed them suspiciously, but they seemed genuinely frightened having just come up here in the hopes of finding something edible to scavenge. We gave them a little food, as most of our supplies had to be left with the horses at the base of the cliff and told them both to stay back and hide.
Approaching Famine, his gaze now rose to meet us. We questioned his motives as a cover for slowly advancing upon him – I would ask him some nonsense and he would reply with apocalyptic tripe. We cared not for his words though, only in buying ourselves time and in closing the gap between us.
His pride and confidence allowed us to get into near striking distance before he revealed his true form, a great tentacled horror with too many limbs and a tall, arching body. Guillaume stepped in to attack with his greatsword, slashing at the deamon's limbs as Shanae and Lydia slung magical bolts of fire and acid at the beast. I crept round behind it, anointing my hands with magical oils before leaping into attack the distracted creature. My claws tore through it's flesh as if it were damp paper and we thought we might have an easy victory.
Then everything turned black and I was falling.
I awoke on an island, barely fourty feet across and surrounded by a roiling nothingness. I tried to look up, a sickening feeling filling my gut as I raised my head and saw the most horrible being I had ever lain eyes upon. It was a mass of writhing tentacles filling the sky to the horizons, gibbering, toothed maws erupted from every surface and the mass undulated in a way that no living thing should. The only gap in its vast expanse was a patch of blue sky in the distance. I averted my eyes again.
I sat for what felt like many hours. There was nobody else around and no sound to be heard other than what seemed like the distant crashing of waves upon a shore. There was a haze upon my thoughts. Things that had happened only recently felt distant and those I was close to felt almost unbearably far way. Was this what death felt like?
The only feature on this small shard of land was a stout, wooden chest at the far end. Within that another and another and then finally one more each smaller than the one before. I carefully opened each in turn setting them aside and within the smallest was the map. Our map. The dimensions and places within it were subtly wrong however and rather than the pencils with which we were accustomed it was accompanied by a razor sharp quill. I tried scrawling on the map and blood flowed from the nib.
I was transported to the map realm where a mysterious stranger stood in front of me, inert and holding a chalice in his hand. I could not bring him to life with the quill however as it held no power here. Instead I pricked the end of my finger and dropped blood into the chalice. The man came to life, looked down and smiled at me.
Suddenly I was elsewhere again. At home? Not my home or any that I remember but maybe a place that embodied what home was meant to be. Peaceful. Calm. An old lady, not someone I knew, but still somehow familiar sat baking biscuits. The warmth and smells spread throughout the kitchen. I took a seat by the fireplace and I suddenly knew where I was and who was sitting with me.
Grandma handed me a freshly-cooked biscuit and sat with me, patiently answering my questions. I gnawed thoughtfully as she expressed disappointment that I had died for a second time in only as many weeks. Did I want to go back, she asked.
Of course! I had to save the world! But what from? My memory was still feeling hazy as if a part of myself was missing. I had to save my friends, but who exactly were they? There were three of them? Five? Four? So many had come and gone and the world seemed so far away and such a difficult place, but here there was biscuits and warmth and a family to be reunited with.
My memory began to clear as I regaled Grandma with the story of our journey since she claimed we had last met. I told her that I'd like to go back one last time if that was okay with her. She nodded and smiled. I can hear her words even now. "Hold onto an aspect of yourself. Save the world."
I was back on the island, but now I could see other lands in the distance. Guillaume, Shanae and Lydia stood together on a distant shore smiling and waving me over. I gingerly lowered myself off of my island and into the roiling waves of magic below me. Pushing off, the currents transported me back to my friends.
As we all embraced we reminisced about our journey and the experience we had each been through. The fog of our memories began to clear. We talked, we laughed and we shouted the names of those we had loved and lost into the void. The island rose towards the patch of reality in the sky and we were suddenly back on Chopper Isle.
Famine was not pleased to see us and we began our assault anew!
Shanae called down a storm of rock and rubble upon the fell creature as Guillaume and I leapt in to fight it. Lydia circled the combat, conjuring a great ball of fire upon the beast before pulling out the translation of the scroll and beginning to chant the binding incantation.
The earth behind the creature split with gaping mouths from which horrors forced their way into this world. The little creatures were easily dispatched with blade and claw but Famine's hide seemed near impervious to our blows.
Sensing Lydia as the greatest threat to its existence the being chases after her. She tries to run, hiding behind Guillaume, but Famine was unrelenting, swiping at her again and again with its limbs. She fell mid-chant. I rushed over to her, uncorking what little healing liquid I had left and held it up to her lips. The magic closed up her wounds enough to bring her to consciousness as Guillaume stood between us and Famine, his armour being rent apart and his Greatsword lodged in the thing's body. He drew the Black Sword to continue pressing the attack.
Lydia's eyes widened on seeing Hasdrubal's blade and she begged Guillaume to use her life to empower the weapon as she would not be able to finish the ritual. She coughed up a great chunk of blood and staggered to her feet, leaning against me for support.
Guillaume was horrified. Ignoring her pleas he continued to hack at Famine, spurts of blood and ichor flying from where he struck. Famine did not seem concerned, seeming to not even feel the impact of his strikes. As Guillaume swiped with a mighty blow from the Black Sword, Lydia stood up and calmly stepped into the path of the blade.
It struck Lydia in her midsection, killing her almost instantly.
The sword burst into life, flame erupting from the blade and a booming voice of the entity within emanated from the blade. Realisation gripped Guillaume. He held the sword high above his head and with a single swing clove Famine from neck to groin. The creature fell and the storm began to clear.
It was done.