I returned to Almalexia's favorite hang-out to report that my mission had been accomplished.

"Well done, Eldorf Dragonmeal." she said, smiling. "This is the effect I was looking for! Ashstorms in Mournhold! My magic will prevent anyone from further tampering with this machine. You will, of course, keep silent about this. My powers are a bit drained, mortal...they are not gone. My ordinators will take care of the remains of this End of Times cult and their leader. You have done well."     


I had to ask the obvious question: "How long will Mournhold be strangled by these storms?"

"Until I am satisfied that they have served their purpose." was her very stern reply.

It was odd that the city she claimed to care about so much was dying due to the ashstorms. I could only hope this would not go on for very long.

"I see your concern." she said, seeing the look on my face, obviously discerning what was going through my mind. "I am well-pleased." she continued, "My people look upon the elements, and see there written a divine testament to my lordship. Did every any other god display such dominion over the earth and sky?"

"I suppose not even Vivec even had the ability." I replied, playing along.

"But now," she said, with a sad look on her face, "I must lay a sad bourdon upon you. I bid you bring the peace of understanding to my Missing Hand."    


"You seem to have both of your .... oh, you mean one of your special guards." I said, correcting myself.

"Yes," she explained, "one of my most faithful guards, one of my very own 'Hands of Almalexia', pledged to honor, protect, and serve me in all ways, has lost his mind. Salas Valor has abandoned me, and now spews vile and slanderous untruths about me to any who would listen. I pity him, and know he is not responsible for his actions. To view the splendor of a god may drive even the strongest mortal mad. But now he presents a threat to us, and he is very dangerous. I fear you may not be able to spare his life."

"Where would I find him?" I asked, expecting to take a romp in the sewers again.

"He haunts the streets and sewers of Mournhold." she replied. "His wild distracted manner frightens the people, but even my Ordinators are afraid to confront so terrible a weaponmaster and war-wizard. I beg you - seek out Salas Valor. Relieve us of this treat to my beloved people, and bring peace to my sacred city of Mournhold."

"What can you tell me about him?" I asked.

"He was once my most trusted Hand, and faithful servant. But recently his behavior has been erratic. He has been quiet and unresponsive. I am afraid ... I may have allowed him to come too close. It is impossible that a mortal and a god might meet on equal ground, but ... perhaps he deluded himself. I regret his lamentable state, and am sorry that I may have been partly responsible for his condition."

"I will see what I can do about him." I replied.


I headed out of the Temple and back to my home in Godsreach. I wanted to get a bite to eat before seeking out such a man to do battle with.

These 'Hands' were supposed to be terrific warriors, dedicated body, mind, and soul to Almalexia. Anyone listening to this story would read "jilted lover" in a heartbeat. Salas apparently wanted to become more than just a guard, and once rejected, obviously contracted a bad case of jealousy.


On my way back to the home, I thought I would ask one of the guards if he knew of this Salas Valor I was supposed to find. I couldn't see his face, so he introduced himself.

He was Salas Valor!


"So, she has sent you for me." he scowled. "Now YOU are her favorite. How convenient. Whichever of us dies, she will be well pleased. And if both of us die, so much the better. Well, I am content. Perhaps this is how it was meant to end. I ask the forgiveness of all the gods and spirits - whoever they may be. And you, too, might make your peace with your gods, because at least one of us will not live to see another sunset."

The guy obviously had anger issues, not even letting me get in a word in edge-wise.

Suddenly he drew his sword, not caring what happened next.


His blade struck me, cutting a deep wound in my arm. Instantly, I used the Ring of Leaches, absorbing his health into me....and promptly found out that he was using "reflect" spells, bouncing the rings effect back to me.

He struck me again and again. His sword had some terrible enchantment on it, but my astrological sign helped me to absorb the effect harmlessly (for the most part).

I kept hitting him over and over with the Ring of Leaches, going through one ring after another as each ran out of charge. Sometimes the ring would absorb his health, sometimes it wouldn't. When it worked, it healed my wounds immediately.


I used every leach ring and amulet I had with me, until they were all exhausted their charge. I had only one thing left, and that was Dracula's Ring. While not as powerful as the leach rings or amulets, it held more charge. I hit him with it's spell over and over.

He finally fell over, dead. I had won. I had to use a health potion to fix up the remaining gashes he had caused. These 'Hands' were certainly nothing to toy with.

I took his possessions back to my home, then collapsed on the bed and drifted off to sleep. Almalexia could wait until I was fully rested to hear about her friend's death.





















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