The Hand of Destiny was about to leave Avernus when something shimmered in the corner of Aleera’s eye. The lake that ran through the cavern that had once been Tiamat’s prison was calling to her. She could see her weakness in the water. Gold. Thousands upon thousands of gold coins called to her from beneath the surface of the water. She began going into the pooling water slipping out of her friend’s hands.
She knew something bad waited for her in the water but she couldn’t stop herself. Her body was beyond her control. The pull of the gold was too strong. Aleera noticed that her strength was starting to ebb. She was moving in the water towards the treasure but it felt like moving through molasses. She could see Milo, struggling to make his way through the water as well, out of the corner of her eye. Still she could not stop moving deeper into the water. Kaladrax saw this and knew there was no gold in the pool. It was just the scum, trash and detritus of the lake.
He scrambled for a way to save them. He quickly cast fly on himself and made a grad for Aleera. In one of his rare Muscle Wizard moments, Kaladrax picked her up and flew her back to shore and went back to retrieve Milo. He set Milo down on the shore and had to tighten his grip as soon as Milo’s feet touched the ground. He noticed Aleera was being held back by Kariss and Hepolita. It took a few moments for them to be able to calm the two down. They had to break their eye contact with the treasure on the other side of the small lake.
They kept the two facing away from the lake and held hands once more in a circle. Kaladrax rushed through the incantation, eager to get the two away from this place. The world spun around them and reformed as they appeared back at their rooms at the top of the Spectre’s Respite. They collapsed on their respective beds after making sure that Zenriel was tucked into bed. She was inconsolable after that interaction with Tiamat. The Mother she had envisioned had not lived up to the reality of the selfish Avatar of Chaos. Tiamat valued her freedom above all, her children were hers to use and command because they were hers.
The next morning, after a late breakfast, the Hand of Destiny sat down to decide what to do with their three million Dragons. They had not forgotten their primary task. The Old Gods were coming and though it might be ages from now, the Hand of Destiny needed to prepare the world as best as possible for it. Their first task was getting their ship outfitted for long travel over both land and sea. They teleported to the House of Inspired Hands after Kariss let the party know that Bahamut told her this was where they could go for magical modifications to items. They planned on having their ship turned into an airship.
They spent the weeks in between, teleporting back and forth between Waterdeep and King’s Crest on Novos. Kaladrax showed them the plans he had gotten from his father. They were plans for a weapon strong enough to take on Null and if it could hurt Null, God of Undead Dragons, it could hurt other gods. They spent a considerable amount of that three million on the ship and the commission of ten Dragon Cannons from the dwarven artisans at Drakenforge. In exchange, they were given the plans to the cannons and some of the one and a half million dragons for them. This included delivery too. There were to be three cannons in King’s Crest, three in Waterdeep, one in Deep Harbor, one at the Oasis, one at Drakenforge, and one on their new airship. Kaladrax also had his own ammunition crafted for a hand mounted cannon that he began to wear.
The receiving lands were grateful and wary of incoming attacks by the old gods. The Hand of Destiny was not able to commission cannons for all of the places in Faerun but they tried their best. They used this time to also plan a trip to the jungles of the mainland. They wanted to go to Chult. There was a Yuan-ti problem there that was long overdue for fixing. They also had to retrieve the elven artifacts that had been stolen from their sacred places. The wood elves would never forgive Kariss or Hepolita for allowing the thefts of the artifacts and the deaths of many wood elves by the Yuan-ti unless they brought back those relics.
The party could feel that this time was different from other battles. These new battles would be the culmination of everything they had been fighting towards and learning from. Their failures and stumbles would be measured in full during these last battles. They had to give everything they had to the fight. An inkling of self doubt could destroy their ranks and defenses. As they pondered this, waiting by the dock for their new airship, a storm began to brew on the far horizon.