The Hand of Destiny quickly rallied around Kaladrax’s teleportation spell and were transported to the desert of the Oasis. There they encountered the other two gnome thieves that had escaped, leaving the third behind for them to interrogate. Another battle ensued between the Hand of Destiny and the two gnomes. One was killed outright and the other was trapped, by Kariss, inside a demi plane of her own making. He could not escape and the other surviving gnome was placed in there with him to keep them out of trouble while the group searched for the blue Dragon they were told hired them.
Kaladrax kept wondering if the blue dragon might be Marx, but Mark had always been a blue dragonborn. Still, he could have polymorphed himself into a dragonborn to hide his true nature. He was adept at magic, especially illusion magic. He trudged through the desert after his friends, deep in thought. He was so absorbed in his own mind that he didn’t notice the giant abyss that lay before them until they were right at the mouth of it. Giant jagged edges of glass ringed the outside of the hole in the desert sand. It reminded the party of the lava worm they had encountered in their first trip to the Oasis. This hole was bigger and where the worm had left glassy sand tunnels that could be followed, this looked more like lightning had struck the ground and punched a hole through the sand.
Before they could begin to enter the jagged tunnel a dark shadow passed overhead. Sand kicked up as something large landed on the ground beside the chasm. When the sand cleared, it revealed a towering deep blue dragon standing before them. All was still for a moment. Kaladrax and the dragon seemed to stare solely at each other. The dragon spoke directly into his mind. It was Marx, this was his true form. He was the thief that stole the Null Blade from its god. He also told Kaladrax that they needed to fight to the death in order to recover what had been stolen. He asked Kaladrax to defeat him and take the blade. He asked that Kaladrax use it to defeat the broken Null and restore balance to the dragons.
Kaladrax stood stunned once more, unable to form words. He then erupted into a litany of denials and vows to never harm him. Marx roared, tilting his back up to the sky, shaking the land around them. He demanded to be slain, this time broadcasting to the other team members as well. With a swoosh of his wings Marx lifted his body off of the ground and shot straight up into the sky. After a few moments of rising on the wind, his body angled down aiming straight at them. He was about to crash into them when he twisted and went straight into the hole in the ground. He was headed towards, what the team assumed was, his lair. Blue dragons could breathe lightning and he was capable of having created this tunnel.
Kaladrax was reluctant to go but knew this was the only way to get the Null Blade. The party began making their way down the shiny, slick walls of crystallized sand. Sometimes they slid for minutes at a time and other times they used the jagged glass as hand and toe holds lowering themselves down slowly. Most of them could see in the dark but some like Milo and Kaladrax needed to be tied to the others with rope to make their way through. They were descending when the tunnel opened up to a large cavern under the desert sands. They had arrived at Marx’s lair. Piles of gold and treasure littered the floor like any other dragon’s lair. The walls of the cavern were the same crystalized sand of the tunnel. It resulted in a wonderful backdrop to their impending battle.
The party saw Marx waiting at the center of his lair. A large swath of ground had been cleared of any items. The group huddled together at the end of the makeshift arena and asked Kaladrax if he wanted to fight on his own or if he wanted help. He thanked them for their offer but thought he should be the one to face off against his friend and mentor. Without another word he turned and walked onto the arena to face his friend. When he reached the center they began their fight. Marx used his lightning breath, and other talents to drive Kaladrax back. In answer Kaladrax turned into a black dragon himself. The two battled around the arena causing giant slabs of glass to fall from the ceiling. The rest of the party was too busy avoiding the aftermath of attacks to interfere in the battle.
After a lengthy battle Marx was close to death. He revealed to Kaladrax that he did not have the sword. He was the sword. As Kaladrax landed the final blow to kill him, Marx shared a vision of what had transpired long ago. The Null blade resided inside Null as a representation of his strength. When Null’s mind had fractured under the stress of the Dragon Wars his strength had deserted him and formed its own consciousness. Thus Marxidian, known now as Marx, was born. He had waited for hundreds of years for a champion to be born of the hidden tribe of Null’s heart that could defeat him. Now, finally, there was someone who had the strength to reunite the parts of Null and bring sanity back to the deity. With the end of the vision came softer memories.
With a final vision he ran through all of his favorite memories. Most of them were of playing with or teaching Kaladrax. He loved the boy as his own son and was proud of having fallen to such a strong opponent. His final thought was of the sword. He let Kaladrax know that it would be inside his body upon death. When he breathed his last, Kaladrax approached the body carefully and reached inside a deep wound he had inflicted. At first there was nothing but the revolting sensation of digging around in your best friend’s innards. Then his fingers smashed into metal. He grasped the object and pulled it out of the body. They had done it, gotten the Null Blade, but at such a terrible cost.
Marxidian’s body began to sink into the sands soon after the sword was out of his body. The walls began to rumble and debris started falling from above. They had to get out. There was no way they could take the body with them. This would have to suffice as proper burial. They would not make it if they tried to go on foot so they began flying as best they could. Hepolita sat with Kariss aboard her broom and Aleera took Milo on hers. Kaladrax cast a flying spell and was able to keep up with the rest of the party. By some miracle they were not hit by the falling glass, they managed to outmaneuver the falling shards. They reached the outside with barely a few moments to spare as the cave and tunnel collapsed behind them.
Kaladrax stared at the mound that was once the road to Marx’s lair. All he had to remember him by was the sword. He sank to his knees in the, now soft, sand and cried. The others gathered around him in quiet solidarity. Aleera took hold of him and tried to comfort without being smothering. For a long time the Hand of Destiny could not move from that spot. Grief held them in tight paralysis until Kaladrax got up slowly and began walking to the village at the edge of the Oasis.