Greg Mann as Morik Martok
Vincent Pecoraro as Elosian Sylvres
Miguel Correa as Laurence Van Drake
Christine Scott as Aelanah Beastfriend
Michael Graziano as Adon Thunderclaw
Paul Vilbig as Saleos Me’Serachte
Marc Greco as Mardak Fletcher
“Yes,” Laurence explained. “Same kid. I’m not happy about it, but he knows things about Runometry.”
“I have to get back over to the Peregrine,” Tarrik replied, hurriedly, spinning away from Laurence and stepping halfway into the dimension door linking the two ships together. “Laurence, come with. There’s someone who’s been wanting to see you.”
As Laurence was about to step through the dimension door, he caught a glimpse through the blur of the ocean water between the Redeemer and the Peregrine. Roena was there, waving to Morik, who noticed her and began to emphatically wave back. Morik looked at Laurence, as if to ask if he would mind the company. Laurence smiled and gave a brief nod, then headed through the dimension door and onto the deck of the Peregrine.
Roena was waiting for him as he arrived. She smiled and leaned in to kiss his cheek.
“I thought you needed time to sort things out,” Laurence said with a knowing grin. Roena leaned back on her heels and shrugged.
“I did,” she replied. “All sorted out. Dad was nice enough to pick me up and bring me back where I belong.”
“Stonehaven,” Laurence guessed. Roena touched his chin with her fingertips while sliding her other arm around his back.
“No,” Roena said, turning her head and placing it softly against his chest. “I realized that I belong with you.”
“You… you really feel that way,” Laurence asked, suddenly aware of the growing warmth surrounding every part of his body.
“I do,” Roena said with a sigh. “With all my heart, I really, truly love you, Laurence Van Drake.”
“I can’t believe this,” Laurence said. Roena’s face contorted. Was she being rejected?
“No,” Laurence said. “I never dreamt so deeply a dream as lovely as Roena. My heart burns bittersweet for her embrace. And now, that I have her in my grasp, I can’t believe it.”
“Is Kelain feeding you lines,” Roena said, glancing around, tears in her eyes and a wide smile across her lips.
“No,” Laurence explained. “Knowing you love me… my guard is down to you. This is my heart, Roena. You’re the only woman I’ve ever shown it to. Please be gentle. I guard it so because it is fragile.”
“You trust me with it?”
Laurence smiled. “With all my heart, I really, truly love you, Roena Martok.”
Having the Talk
“Have a seat, Laurence,” Tarrik said, rounding the corner of his desk and rolling open a drawer. Laurence sat as Tarrik slid a shiny wooden box out of the drawer. He sat down in his seat and placed the box on the table, opening the lid to reveal a series of Crystech communication earrings. As he began to shuffle through the devices, Laurence visibly stirred in his seat. His discomfort did not escape Tarrik’s notice.
“Something on your mind, son,” Tarrik said, leaning back in his seat. “Besides the volcano, the Dark Lady, Runometry, and my daughter, I mean?”
“You know, then,” Laurence said with a grimace.
“I think I have seen her at her happiest three times in her life, Laurence. The first time was when I let her take the helm of this very ship. The second was when she graduated from Saigen Hall to join the Order. The third was back in Drogynia, when I told her I would find you and take her to you.”
“Captain Martok,” Laurence began. Tarrik shook his head, looked down with a smile, and chuckled to himself.
“So stiff,” Tarrik said. “What does she see in you? Kelain, I get, but you?”
Laurence tried not to betray it, but bringing up Roena’s former lover left him with a sour feeling in the pit of his stomach.
“Don’t get me wrong, Laurence,” Tarrik said, standing up and pacing behind his desk to open the shades on one of his portholes and gaze out to the main deck. “I find you far more pleasant a prospect for her. You’re everything a guy wants to see his daughter bring home, honestly. I’m not saying there’s something wrong with you. I’m saying there’s something wrong with her.”
“Girls aren’t supposed to like the men their father wants them to. They’re supposed to gravitate toward men whose presence irritates their dad to no end. Men like…”
“Kelain,” Laurence said. Tarrik looked at Laurence and nodded.
“Yes,” Tarrik said. “Exactly. If he was sitting where you are, I’d insist he call me sir, be all proper, shit like that… but you? Hell, son, I just want you to loosen up, get the cat off your tongue, and just ask me already.”
Laurence was stunned, but he was also smart enough to hear opportunity knocking.
“Tarrik,” Laurence said, standing to his feet, trying desperately to keep from fainting. “I don’t know if she will have me, but I want to ask for your daughter’s hand in marriage. I wouldn’t dream of doing so without…”
“For Gods’ sake Laurence,” Tarrik said, leaning against the window sill and folding his arms. “Yes, she’ll say yes, and yes, I’d be proud to have you in the family.”
“Thank you,” Laurence said, shaking visibly. “I can’t tell you how…”
“Don’t bother, kid. I never got the chance to do what you’re doing. Silas Vale was sixteen years in the grave by the time I proposed to Lucinda. Could you imagine how that talk would have gone?” Tarrik and Laurence burst into laughter.
“No offense, sir, but I doubt you would have bothered to ask,” Laurence said.
“Neither did Kelain. That’s why she told him no.”
“Kelain popped her the question about a year ago. He asked her to run away with him, leave it all behind. It’s practically what I told Lucinda to the f$%#ing word, Laurence. That kid is too much like her old man, I guess, because she flatly told him no.”
Laurence crossed the office to look out the porthole with Tarrik, gazing across the deck to see Roena laughing with Morik and Kaerysa. “Are you sure she’ll say yes to me?”
“Hell, son, I’d be surprised if she didn’t ask you before you get a chance to get a word out. She’s been waiting for you. Now, get out there and let her know her wait’s over.”
Tarrik offered Laurence his hand, and Laurence proudly took it. Tarrik then pulled Laurence into a quick fatherly embrace.
“I’m honored, Tarrik.”
“The honor’s mine, Laurence.”
As Laurence left to ask the most important question of his life, Tarrik Martok affixed a communication crystal earring to his ear and pressed the device against his ear canal. After an intense conversation, he stepped out onto the deck of the Peregrine III, where Morik was anxiously awaiting him.
“Are you coming along with us to Stonehaven, Uncle Tarrik,” Morik asked.
“I think we have to attack the same problem from different angles, kiddo,” Tarrik said. “I have to track down Xevious. I just got off the horn with Lucinda, and she agrees with me. If Runometry is involved in all this mess, that Shadar-Kai on Xevious’s ship might have something to do with it. If so, she’s too dangerous to be left to her own devices.”
“Tarrik, I think you should know that some people think Aunt Lucinda might be…”
“Not a chance, Morik,” Tarrik interrupted him. “Lucinda is not this Dark Lady everyone’s freaking out about.”
Laurence returned with Roena, who was beaming and giddy. Kaerysa silently mouthed the question “What?”, to which Roena hugged Tarrik, kissed him on the cheek, and thanked him for everything, then grabbed Kaerysa by the wrist and ran through the dimension door back onto the deck of the Redeemer. Kaerysa giggled and shrugged at Morik when he started to ask what was going on.
“Laurence, you have a mission. I need you to get to Stonehaven. Melchior is there. Let him know I am trying to track down Xevious’s ship, but I’ll be there to help out as soon as I can. And Laurence? Take care of my daughter, son.”
Laurence shook Tarrik’s hand, then clapped Morik on the shoulder. “Come on, Morik,” Laurence said, guiding him toward the dimension door linking the two ships together. “We have a lot to talk about.”
Dark Skies Over Stonehaven
The Redeemer had to make the rest of the trip to Stonehaven by sea, not by air. Repairs would be needed to get the ship airworthy again. Before Tarrik left the ship, he explained to Laurence how he knew that the Redeemer was capable of sub-marine travel.
He designed it.
He also gave Laurence a brief tour of his own ship, revealing areas and features he had no idea about until Captain Martok make them known to him. One of these features, a Farstep Chamber, was a Crystech device that enabled instant teleportation to another Farstep Chamber. These devices were not new, but their existence in airships was quite new. The Peregrine did not even have one. Laurence was somehow even more proud of his ship than before. It had something even the greatest Airship in the world didn’t have. Besides Roena, that was.
“So, in order to use this thing, you have to have a crystal from another Farstep Chamber,” Elosian said, kneeling over the foot-activator of the device and examining the technology. “or take one of these crystals with you, smash it at your feet, and you will be immediately teleported back here, aboard the ship.”
“Yes, though we don’t have many of the Egress Crystals,” Laurence warned. “Tarrik said that to make them more efficient, anyone in physical contact with the person who breaks the crystal gets teleported with him. The crystals cost more than half this airship. That’s why it was such a shock there would be such a device built into the Redeemer.”
“Your grandfather would seem to have spared little expense in this gift to you,” Mardak said, sliding his hand over the rail, feeling his fingers trace into the scars of the recent battle. “It’s too bad we had to mar it with filth like Malth Xevious.”
“Tarrik’s hunting him, now,” Morik said, climbing the stairs to meet the rest of the men on the upper deck. He nodded to Adon, who was sitting on the edge of the platform staring out at the sea on the horizon. “Xevious’s days are numbered.”
“I wouldn’t be too sure,” Laurence said. “I don’t think Captain Martok was that confident he could track Xevious down. He has to try, of course, but by now, the pirate’s long gone.”
“Well, that just means he’ll be able to get to Stonehaven all the faster,” Morik said. “So, Laurence, have you told them?”
“No,” Laurence said, shaking his head. Adon’s left ear twitched. Mardak glanced in his direction. Elosian smirked.
“Roena did,” Elosian revealed.
“I pray to the Gods by day and night to never see such an awful sight as this,” Adon said softly into the wind.
Everyone looked at him, then noticed the black shadow on the water ahead, tracing the reflection up to the tiny dot of land on the horizon and the gout of thick, black smoke rising in a sky-encompassing column above the island of Paradisla. From their perspective, the dark billowing tufts of volcanic ash looked like a desperate clawing hand reaching skyward. At midships, three shrieks of pain could be heard, causing the men on the upper deck to scramble down and check on the disturbance.
On the main deck midships, Aelanah, Sarah, and Kaerysa were huddled together near the rail, bending over the edge of the ship. Roena was patting Aelanah on the back, a troubled look on her face.
“It’s the volcano,” Kaerysa said. “The spirit of the volcano is crying out for help.”
“The Volcano,” Morik asked, hugging Kaerysa to him. “It’s hurting you?”
“No,” Sarah explained, wiping her mouth. “Someone’s hurting it.” She looked to Aelanah. “We have to ask for mother’s guidance.”
“Mother,” Mardak said. “I thought your mother to be at the side of your father, in Arcadia.”
“No, that is a journey she cannot make,” Sarah replied, turning to face away from the island, leaning against the rail, and folding her arms. “She died giving birth do the daughters of a god. Her soul didn’t survive childbirth intact, either. Just as no mortal was meant to carry the child of a god, no mortal soul could endure the creation of a god’s children.”
“Mother’s spirit is on Paradisla,” Kaerysa said. Morik nodded, understanding what they were saying.
“The Woman of the Woods,” Morik remembered. “I heard the stories, but… I guess that makes sense. The spirit of the Paradisla Jungle. That’s Farah. That’s your mother.”
An Island of Pain and Fear
The seas were choppy and treacherous as the Redeemer neared the eastern docks of Stonehaven. There were dozens of smaller vessels fleeing along the northern edge of the Difeld Bay, only visible by the light of their post lanterns in the dark clouds of ash filling the thick, humid tropical air. It was the middle of the day, but on Paradisla, it may as well have been the devil’s midnight.
As the Redeemer docked, another ship, Melchior’s Solace, was boarding the final few citizens escaping the island. Standing at the end of the gangplank was Melchior Martok and his adoptive father Masen Sternhammer, assisting Melchior’s mother Ayla aboard the Solace. Laurence, Morik, and the rest of the Order heroes disembarked expeditiously, rushing down to speak with Melchior and announce their intentions to invesigate the volcanic caves running beneath Stonehaven.
“You’re planning to what?” Melchior asked. He wasn’t being sarcastic. The constant tremors and the roar of the volcano, coupled with the high winds and choppy waves, made the dock area utterly deafening. After a brief explanation of their plans, Melchior nodded, gave no argument against their plan, and called Orin Gremioh to his side. Sarah, Aelanah, and Kaerysa rushed over to hug their blind and mute uncle, who was flanked as always by a bevvy of jungle creatures with glowing green eyes. They acted as his missing eyes.
Melchior told him to guide Laurence and his allies to Crossel’s old entrance to the volcanic caves, where he and the bear Koda once resided. Masen insisted that he wanted to come along. This time, Melchior did protest, saying that they had to get him off the island. Masen placed a hand on Melchior’s shoulder and said: “Son, I built this place with Crossel. I might never see it again. Don’t deny me this.”
“Dad,” Melchior said, tearfully, “You could die.”
“That’s inevitable, son,” Masen said with a wry smile. “If it happens today, let it be on my terms. If not, then all’s the better. Now let’s get moving while there’s still an island to save!”
“Orin,” Melchior called out. Near the edge of the dock, his face in the wind, was Orin Gremioh, uncle of Aelanah, Kaerysa, and Sarah. Perched on his shoulder was a tiny shrew, which became animated as it heard Orin’s name called. He tilted his head slightly in recognition.
“I want you to take these people to Crossel’s caverns.”
Orin nodded and fetched a slender walking stick around which was wrapped a coiled python. A flutter of wings brought a bright red bird of paradise to perch on his left shoulder while the shrew dove into his shirt and poked its head out from between the buttons. It became apparent to those who did not already know him that Orin possessed little physical senses of his own. His snake smelled for him as his shrew served as his ears. He saw through the eyes of the bird, which were fixated on Sarah. Sarah went to Orin, accompanied by her sisters, and they hugged him.
“We mustn’t tarry long,” Laurence said. “If we are to save Stonehaven, we must go now. Saleos, grab the egress crystal from the Redeemer. Orin, Masen, thank you for this.”
“This is my home, Sir Laurence,” Masen said as the group began its way along a disheveled, palm leaf-strewn path heading inland. “You mean to try to save it. So the thanks should go to you.”
“We’ll take them gladly, Great-Grandfather,” Morik said. “But only if we succeed.”
“Right,” Roena said, hugging Masen as they continued their journey into the trembling jungle. “We’re not letting everything you built here get destroyed.”
“Not without a fight, at least,” Elosian interjected. Everyone looked to him, including Sarah.
“Wouldn’t have thought a hell-boy like you would care about what happens to a place like this,” Sarah said.
“Then you do not know me,” Elo said. “Even in this state, Paradisla is the most beautiful place I have ever laid eyes upon. If our enemies seek to destroy one of the greatest natural beauties I’ve ever seen, then you’re damn right I care.”
Morik nodded approvingly at Elosian, then looked to Laurence, who seemed equally impressed with the young man’s resolve. Sarah sniffed and walked faster.
“I noticed you said that Paradisla was one of the greatest natural beauties you’ve seen,” Saleos said.
“Noticed that, did you?”
“You like her,” Saleos said in a hushed voice. Elosian met his eyes and took a deep breath.
Saleos nodded and looked forward again, then suddenly turned to face him. “Her?!”
“I don’t know, Saleos. Tell me she isn’t stunningly beautiful.”
“She’s pretty as a picture,” Saleos admitted. “Her personality, though. She’s a bitch, Elo. Tell me you see that.”
“I do,” Elosian said. “But my heart does not.”
“Ugh,” Saleos said. “Aelanah, I can see. She’s hot and nice. But Sarah? Man, good luck with that.”
“Good luck to you, too, Saleos,” Elosian said, glancing toward Aelanah and back to him.
Saleos began to laugh nervously and move away from Elosian.
A Visit With Mother
While running along the coarse stone path toward a roiling, steamy lagoon, Aelanah, Sarah, and Kaerysa suddenly stopped in their tracks. Orin, too, hesitated.
“Kaerysa,” said Morik. “What’s wrong?”
“I hear her calling me,” Kaerysa said softly into the wind. Morik could barely make out her words. She spun around and took him by the hand. “Come on! I want her to meet my boyfriend!”
Morik followed after a start, and the rest of the group came as well, though not without a few admonitions from Laurence and Mardak. The volcano could erupt at any moment, and any delay could mean disaster for the Order and their Stonehavenite allies.
Then, one by one, everyone in the party recognized a shape like that of a face formed by the sparse tree limbs up ahead. As the wind and the smoke in the air wafted, the image moved, the face animated.
“Hi, mom,” Kaerysa said. Aelanah and Sarah hugged Kaerysa and looked up into the face in the trees. Orin placed his hand on Aelanah’s shoulder and a smile traced across his lips. The bird of paradise flew up toward the face and it seemed to smile down and acknowledge the bird in flight. A voice called up from around the party, echoing through the dense jungle air.
“The spirit of the volcano cries out,” said the Woman of the Woods. “Foul beings have roused it from its peaceful slumber. They seek to control its rage, to make it a slave to their will.”
“The black crystals,” Elosian said. “Revenon says that they could be a form of control. If they infected this volcano spirit, it’s possible they are trying to enslave the volcano.”
“If that would work here, then they could do the same throughout the world,” Morik warned. “Laurence, we have to stop this from succeeding. More than just Stonehaven is at stake.”
“Farah,” Masen said, reaching up with a smile toward the face in the trees. The face looked down to him and smiled. “You’re as beautiful as you were the day I found you and your brother Orin on the beach outside of Eastport.”
Suddenly, the face showed deep concern, and the ground shook violently, tossing everyone from their feet.
“MASEN!” The Woman of the Woods’ voice called out in panic and grief as a sinkhole opened up beneath Masen’s fallen body and he disappeared into the searing steam spouting forth from within the volcanic island.
“No! Masen,” Laurence dove toward the chasm, but as his hand neared the edge, the steam seared his gauntleted hand. Still, Elosian, Adon, and Mardak had to drag him away.
The face in the trees faded as the shock of Masen’s sudden death took its toll on the party. Laurence looked across the clearing, making eye contact with everyone in the group.
“Orin, go back. Protect Melchior and Ayla and the rest. We’ll take it from here. Tell them…,” Laurence stumbled over his words, choked up. Orin placed a hand on his head and pulled him into a light embrace, then held him at an arm’s length and nodded. As Orin dashed back toward the docks, Laurence rallied the Order to continue onward into the volcanic caverns.
As Laurence led the Order into the volcanic caves:
- Sarah found more of the black fragmented crystal powder, as well as hobgoblin footprints leading deeper within the caves.
- The floor caved in, trapping the heroes under the island, their only possible escape now the egress crystal.
- Mardak and Saleos encounter a beholder! They follow the beholder into a chamber, where hobgoblins lay in wait for the heroes.
- The entire back wall of the battle chamber is animated, a pair of massive stone arms and a great maw of jagged volcanic glass reach out to attack the Order. Perched above the maw: a massive black crystal.
- The volcano spirit crushes Mardak to death, but not before he heroically throws his sword into the heart of the black crystal. It embeds into the crystal, but did not shatter it.
- The beholder uses an eye beam to turn Saleos into stone, then another eye beam that nearly kills Sarah, but Elosian dives into the path of the beam just in time. He is injured, but he will live.
- Morik destroys the black crystal controlling the volcano, and the beholder attempts to escape. He is heading toward a hidden Farstep Device!
- The heroes kill the beholder as the rest of the hobgoblins are wiped out by the angry volcano spirit. The spirit cannot undo the damage it has caused, but it thanks them for allowing it to rest once more. It then begins to flood the chamber with lava to seal itself away.
- Laurence extracts the locator crystal from the beholder’s Farstep Device, then has Elosian grab Mardak’s sword while Adon carries the stony form of Saleos.
- All together, right before the chamber fills with lava, Laurence smashes the egress crystal and the heroes appear on the deck of the Redeemer once more.
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Chapter O-1: The Order in… On the Road to Yonsalyre
Chapter O-2: The Order in… Before It’s Too Late, Part 1 of 3
Chapter O-3: The Order in… Before It’s Too Late, Part 2 of 3
Chapter O-4: The Order in… Before It’s Too Late, Part 3 of 3
Chapter O-5: The Order in… Legacy of Glory, Part 1 of 2
Chapter O-6: The Order in… Legacy of Glory, Part 2 of 2
Chapter O-7: The Order in… Trials of Glory, Part 1 of 3
Chapter O-8: The Order in… Trials of Glory, Part 2 of 3
Chapter O-9: Order in… Trials of Glory, Part 3 of 3
Chapter O-10: The Order & The Current in… To Slay the Darkness
Chapter O-11: The Order & The Current in… To Save the Light
Chapter O-12: The Order in… Prophecies, Epiphanies, and Tragedies, Part 1 of 3
Chapter O-13: The Order in… Prophesies, Epiphanies, and Tragedies, Part 2 of 3
Chapter O-14: The Order in… Prophecies, Epiphanies, and Tragedies, Part 3 of 3
Chapter O-15: The Order in… The Horns of Agony
Chapter O-16: The Order in… Sailing Through the Maelstrom
Chapter O-17: The Order in… Shi Di Ma Under Siege
Chapter O-18: The Order in… “Against All Threats Great And Small…”
Chapter O-19: The Order in… “…We’ll Overcome And Never Fall.”
Chapter O-20: The Order in Hell