As soon as the fearsome dragon fell, its throat slashed open by Crash’s monstrosity of an axe, Dori ran as quickly as his small legs would allow to where Kustaa’s body lay. “No, no, no,” he whispered to himself. “Don’t be dead. Please don’t be dead.” As he skidded to a stop, however, there was little doubt. Parts of the wizard’s skin were charred and cracked, oozing blood and pus, and one of his eyes had either exploded or melted in the heat of the dragon’s fire. Dori had never seen anything like it and had to fight to keep from retching at the smell.
Tears streaming down his cheeks, the cleric turned to see his companions gathered nearby, silent and expectant. “I’m sorry, there’s nothing I can do,” he said solemnly. “He’s gone.” Thoradin walked over and patted the gnome on the shoulder. “Come on,” he said to the others, “let’s get this deck cleared off.”
Dori took a deep, shuddering breath and began to set up a ritual to preserve the remains. At the very least, a Hero of Overlook deserved a proper burial and there may even be someone back in the city with the skills needed to restore some of the eladrin’s graceful, delicate beauty before the ceremony. Pulling the ritual components out of his pack, Dori couldn’t help but wonder what he had gotten himself into. Here before him lay the shattered corpse of the very person who had dragged him into this adventure in the first place. He had known that it would be dangerous when he joined, but had never actually envisioned how grisly the worst case scenario would actually be.
Dori felt despair well up in his chest and was struck with an intense desire to say a prayer to Avandra. Not an invocation to tap into her astral power but a real prayer, the likes of which he had likely not uttered in decades. “Lady of Luck, please grant me your boon. I have long used the power that flows from you into this world without any particular devotion, but I have never felt this need for your grace before. This upcoming battle… I fear that I simply don’t possess the courage to stand up against… something horrible. Lend me your strength and I will fully commit myself to your service.” He paused a moment, and nothing happened. Chuckling at his presumptuousness, the cleric set about preparing Kustaa’s body for storage.
Several minutes later, Dori heard shouts of warning and raced up to the front of the ship. Another githyanki airship was rising quickly and would clearly intercept their damaged vessel momentarily. The gnome pulled himself together as best as possible and steeled his resolve to do what he could to protect his remaining allies. Suddenly, he felt flooded with divine power that washed away the barriers that had thus far hindered his access to the astral forces. Newly cleansed of the limitations that had previously left him relegated to subtle manipulations and support, Dori’s eyes gleamed as the enemy ship rapidly approached…