As the sky brightens the next morning over Ashearea the world beneath it seems brighter as well. Though the specter of pride and ambition may loom in the future, it seems far from the scene revealed this day.
Coby Wayne prepares for departure aboard his magnificent cloud castle. Hovering over West Wellington, it is a sign of protection and vigilance for those beneath.
Greater than the cloud itself, those who fly to its voluminous mass now represent the potential of man to value peace over conflict.
Advisor Jean-Pierre Baptiste and his long-time comrade, Commander Victor Storme, prepare for the return to Hallow Hold. There, near the western sea, that shining city of spires awaits a new tradition of equality borne from a heritage of veiled repression.
With them is Jackson Forge and Aldina Gilkerson. Clad now in resplendent white trimmed with gold, they smile at the prospect of serving in Hallow Hold as its Captain of the Guard and Mystic Chancellor.
The smiles are also broad on the faces of Constable Tom Knox and Chief Aerik Dayspring. Though they travel in polar opposite directions from West Wellington, these two representatives of once polar opposite races exchange heartfelt promises of unifying their people with West Wellington as the nexus of that pact.
Though the true Nexus of the group is long gone, the quest for knowledge and understanding that drove Faerun Herllun is reflected in some of his former associates as they prepare to travel the planes. Moira wonders aloud if he might return to them someday but no one can say for certain.
Liv Eia, the simple farm girl who gained the love of the people as a warrior long before she gained their awe as an Angel, sheathes her crossed swords on her back. The hilts of the magical blades rise above her shoulders but not nearly so far as her silver-white wings as the latter catch the first updrafts of the warming morning air.
She smiles at Bedlor and T'Ning, remembering the very beginnings of their days together. She winces a little, seeing one remembers those days not at all and the other only as if in a dream.
But her mood brightens with the touch of Donovan Jett's soothing hand on her shoulder. As the rogue says his goodbyes, Drade buckles his sketch pad securely in his pack. Sacrosanct await the three and Liv beams with the thought of seeing not only Heaven but reuniting with her true parents, Lady Cynder and Lord Ashe, at last.
Nearby, another planar journey awaits T'Ning and Rachel Kimbler, though the destination is far less certain. Somewhere out there, T'Ning asserts, is that version of himself he remembers so fondly from his visions.
That Deadwaker/lycanthrope/gnome/ninja/monk is as unique and unpredictable as any character ever created in any universe. It would be a shame not to find him again.
T'Ning chatters excitedly to Rachel of the possibilities. What if two versions of the same soul could be united in the same body? What a magnificent adventure might await such a being!
Rachel grins at her love, as she often does, and wonders aloud about those same possibilities. No matter what, she assures T'Ning, "Any adventure we be takin' toget'er be worth t'e takin, wot."
Sheriff Samm Dean waits to see everyone off. Abby is at his side.
Samm looks for his sister, Erika, hoping she might come to say farewell; perhaps even join Advisor Baptiste to Hallow Hold where he feels wise counsel awaits. But the shamed and guilt-ridden warrior maiden seems to have left during the night.
With no note left behind or words exchanged, one can only wonder what path she has set down. Remembering that Lyric Blackthere escaped during the final conflict and that her pseudo-father, Evanard, still lives, albeit in prison, it is a harsh reminder that darkness still lingers in the hearts of some and that peace is always a fragile thing.
None know this more than the small contingent that also departed in the depth of night's shroud.
Tren Moonstride, you want desperately to believe that the world is truly saved or at least better than it was. But you have seen a hundred regimes rise and fall. Some were benevolent; many were not.
Even your great mentor, Mordelus Arkane, was misguided when he conquered not only Hell but Arhyia in an attempt to "save" it. You cannot bring yourself to believe Bedlor is any wiser, despite the faith he holds.
Part of you demands you show him the price he will pay for ripping the shard of the Necropolis Dreamstone from you, reducing your power, and plying his will over the entire multiverse. That demanding cry is palpable and nearly irresistible...but only "nearly".
Instead you sigh with bitterness and turn to the only brightness you have ever known. Serena Kane is more than an ally, more than a paramour, and more than a mate. She is the anchor that has held you to sanity in your darkest days...and sometimes been the catalyst to push you beyond it.
Looking at the plentiful swell of her belly beneath her altered robes though, you know there is great work to be done. You have not ended your quest to protect this world, even from itself.
Your oath is unwavering and your principles uncompromising, even if few understand them. You will fulfill that oath to your final breath and Hell beware anyone who stands in the way of your legacy. It is then that you find a rare genuine smile to cross your lips.
"Legacy"...yes. That shall be your daughter's name.
You, Serena, Aphra, and Kofi depart with your hobgoblin snipers from this plane for the mysterious tunnels of the deeper universe. Your Pack is growing, with Legacy its newest member to be. The Shadow War may be over but the Shadow Pack remains to hunt whatever comes next.
And so it is, that you, Bedlor Enghart, finds yourself at the northern edge of the city, nearly alone. But you are not alone, either in the literal taking or the best meaning of the word.
At your side is Moira Rashai, the patient and kind priestess's hand holding yours. She smiles at you, her magical radiance eclipsed by the gentle radiance of her soul.
She seems eager to accompany you on your journey north to meet with the Dwarven people. She sometimes fails to catch herself though as she slips in her hope for a future far beyond that; a journey instead of love and fidelity throughout your days.
Her life will be a short one compared to yours. It has ever been the burden of those Dwarves who have fallen for the young races that drop nearly as soon as autumn's leaves to your eyes.
You can think of little that would make you happier though than to get to know her and this world all over again. The hammer on your other side is even more eternal than you, reminding you of the many kinds of magic to be found.
The world is full of possibilities and no one knows what may come next. You smile a little at that.
It is Life that is the adventure, the only one any of us may ever know. How magnificent to be taking it in the company of friends.
As Vinnrog Redclub and Inoke join you, they remark at your decision to travel by foot instead of taking advantage of Coby's flying castle or your flying steed, Valiant. The path to the north is long and any number of surprises may await.
You remind them that is exactly the point, giving a "hohoho" as the first ring of smoke curls from your pipe. Maybe, someday, a new campaign will begin.
If it is anything like the Shadow War, it will be worth remembering.