As Illeum spoke, Valadain's pace slowed, his spirit quailing as his brother's words drove the last nails into the coffin of his faith. Finally he halted, tears bleeding down his face as he realized the enormity of what he has lost. In that instant, he truly revoked his covenant with Malkar. He fell to his knees and wept, but even as he did, one word swirled to the surface of the prison of his anguish: faith.
For so long this word had meant faith in Malkar. But now, from the objectivity of despair, he revisited the concept and realized that, all along, serving Malkar was just a means of expressing his real faith.
Faith in Justice.
Faith in the protection of the weak from the evil by the strong.
Faith in the redemption of those who wish to be redeemed.
Faith in the power and will of mortals to achieve this.
Faith in Good.
Not for a moment did he regret the relinquishing of the Heart of Darkness. That power was his father's heritage, not his, and as tainted as Malkar. Nothing can taint this faith. It was his before he knew Malkar, before he knew his past. Rooted deep within, primarily it is faith in himself.
It draws a line between Good and Evil; and over that line he saw...
Decisively, he rose to his feet; Valadain would kneel no more. His 'holy' symbol dropped into the water with a sullen splash. Gathering his white robes, he tore the insignia of Malkar from them and likewise discarded them, before re-donning them; white was still his colour.
Drawing a deep breath, he turned a steady gaze on his brother. "The element of surprise is ours," he declared. "Never will we get a better chance. If we succeed, there will be no need to flee or hide. Even if we fail, the diversion will allow our people here a better chance to escape. Two chances, brother, for we two to redeem our past choices and deeds. And if we succeed - then we can turn to Muziel and the rescue of Sarrik.''
Leaving the rescue of the refugees in Ledgor's capable hands, the two half-brothers doubled back to the palace. Working their way inside with incredible care, they gained the palace, and came face-to-face with the carnage wrought by Malkar on his suffering subjects. Hundreds of sorcerers, priests and templars hung along the corridors in blood and torment by Malkar's malice - including Ollis, paying the price for his failure.
Ollis warned them that the throne room was a trap, and that Malkar had gone to the Astral to intercept the Staffwielders. Unable to bear the suffering of the trapped people, most of whom had served in goodness of heart and good faith, Valadain tried to use Malkar's magic to undo Malkar's malice and heal them all, but his spell failed. Nonetheless, he and Ollis freed enough to rescue the rest, and sent the non-combatant ones to meet the other refugees.
After a nasty encounter in the throne room - which nearly killed both of them - the brothers journeyed to the Astral, where, in front of the Gates of Limbo, they found Malkar, talking to - Muziel! The final twist of the knife, or so it seemed at the time.
“Just destroy the gate,” Muziel said, “what use are the staffs if they are entombed forever?”
“No power in the universe, save the Maelstrom, is capable of that feat,” Malkar replied
“What are they doing in there?”
“Learning,” the god replied.
“Then we must act!”
“Patience, Muziel, your impetuosity is surprising considering your journey to reach Grayhawk.”
“I have no stomach for this, Malkar, you know that! Let us return if we cannot flush them out…this plane sends shivers down my spine. I am just not dressed for it! And what of that damned disciple of yours? I knew that one would be trouble.”
“I have no disciple.”
Valadain and Illeum attacked at this point.
Valadain launched the two Rootvile arrows at his former master. The first struck home, hitting Malkar in the forehead and lodging there; the second was parried, but Malkar was clearly in trouble, as the deadly Rootvile ate its' way into his system. Runesabre and Valadain hurled themselves at the God and the Demon, and Muziel was quick to make his escape. An epic battle ensued, with the two half-brothers chipping away at Malkar as he weakened until each managed to land a telling blow and the tainted God fell. His dark spirit attempted to possess Valadain, but Runesabre had a spell ready and the attempt failed, leaving his soul to fall to Limbo.
Valadain took charge of the White Blade - no point leaving it around for Muziel to find! - and at that point the Gates of Limbo opened and Jarik and Hoqar emerged, equipped with the knowledge and power to restore the mechanism for the chanelling of the souls of the dead to Limbo. Jarik revealed to Valadain that he had witnessed the ravishment of Andurien Willowstar, and that the sole remaining God of Greyhawk was pregnant with the bastard demon spawn of Malkar.
Jarik and Hoqar decided between themselves who would establish which piece of the interplanar conduit for the dead souls, and Hoqar departed, taking Malkar's spirit with him to punish when he got bored. Valadain and Runesabre accompanied Jarik to Menengor, where the Resonance Master set up his mysterious Tower as the anchor of the channel in the material world.
The comrades split up then, Jarik flying to Elenoria to speak with Willowstar, and Valadain and Runesabre heading south to Gran Breton. There, they discovered the nobleman Sandor Gragorian had begun to get the post-Malkar slaughter under control, and joined in the process of tidying up. Kell the Marraq had been captured, but Valadain allowed him to live when he claimed exclusive knowledge of where to find Muziel, however impounding his bow. Runesabre agreed to take over the reins as steward once more until Sarrik was restored to his throne.
Rather to everyone's surprise, Ollis was there, and greeted Valadain warmly. Valadain was delighted to see his old friend alive, but underneath that pleasure was the realization that something had gone wrong; the death of Malkar should have destroyed all his senior priests. Something had survived somewhere...
Hot on the heels of this came Jarik's message; he had spoken with Willowstar, who was desperately trying to commit suicide to prevent the birth of her child, had tried to attack the spawn of Malkar directly with the Dragonstaff, failed, and had to withdraw. Agreeing with him, Valadain summoned Sharoshi and flew to the Elenorian Forest himself, determined to investigate and - if necessary - finish the job.
However, he was halted by what was to prove a pivotal encounter. High over the forest, a telepathic challenge crashed into his brain, as Illyanth, Princess of Elenoria, placed herself in his path and defied him in his teeth to come closer. At first Valadain reacted angrily, but the courage and steadfast honour displayed by the young Princess touched him, reaching inside to the remains of his trust. He turned back, commending his opponent and disavowing any further interference in Elenoria or Willowstar's doings.
After his return to Gran Breton, word arrived that the Queen of the Elenorian Forest and Sarrik Ramadiaus II had been murdered by Osar. This disaster came close to destabilizing the entire north of Greyhawk, but Illyanth took control in Elenoria, and Jarik, Viator and Valadain managed to persuade Gundren, mother of Sarik and Queen Mother of New Bretonia, to agree to take the throne.
Sarik's state funeral was a mighty occasion, attended by the great and the good from all over Greyhawk. All the allied rulers attended or sent ambassadors, except the King of Darim, who had argued with Jarik. At the height of the ceremony, Gundren stepped forward despite her own doubts and assumed the mantle of Queen, although she did not take Illeum Runesabre as her consort, much to that individual's chagrin.
As was increasingly the case in these days after the death of Malkar, Valadain found himself the object of fear and uncertainty, and made strenuous efforts to reassure people throughout the event. Jarik came to the conclusion that Runesabre was Muziel, and spontaneously attacked him, although Runesabre managed to disarm him and Archibald of Rosen calmed the situation before any blood was shed.
It was clear from the first that Illyanth wanted to make contact with Valadain, and as the evening of the funeral feast developed they met and spoke for the first time. The harsh words of their first conversation were set aside, and the strong respect and liking between the two deepened and grew as they spoke together. Later that night, an assignation was made and kept, and love was found in the midst of death and war.
Despite his new yearnings to remain right where he was, Valadain did not even consider abandoning his comrades, and so a few days later they took the perilous journey to the Plane of Abomination, Loramas' plane, where the ruins of the Library of Eth were reputed to have the key to Muziel's past and power.
After many adventures on the hazardous plane, they pentetrated the Library and were confronted by Greyjul, tailor to Muziel (and Viator!), who first held the thief Kreosot hostage and then fled, hotly pursued by the party aboard dragons. As they flew, Jarik unleashed the Maelstrom on the remains of Loramas' city, pulverising it. Kelle the Marraq, trusted once more by Viator Varkos, then changed sides again, attempting to shoot Jarik with a Void arrow. He was disarmed but Greyjul escaped. Balked, the group returned to Greyhawk, where they discovered several months had passed.
Willowstar's twins had been born, and named Malakar (after his father) and Elena (after the first Elenorian Queen), and all was not well from the way the Willowstar priestess gave the news, though there was no civilized way to glean more. Illyanth was also described as "blossoming".....
Below is attached Chappie's "End of Term Report", covering the transition of Valadain from PC to NPC...
The Godslayer moves into the Elenorian forest with his lover, Queen Illyanth, and their relationship blossoms. As elven consort Valadain is free from the responsibilities of leadership and is able to lead his own life within the palace. The fear and trepidation the Elenorians feel soon disappears as they see Valadain the man, the lover, and the father. His two sons, Brendil and Calandrin, become symbols of the union between Illyanth and her consort – any resentment of the man disappears and the elves come to love him as much as their queen.
Valadain learns new skills. His budding sorcery consumes much of the early part of his time in the palace. He chooses the Paths, the mystical study of spirits and their effects on each other. Before the first ten years is out he becomes a Master of the Paths (equivalent to wizard) and this study leads to the discovery that he and Illyanth will never sire a daughter – the natural heir to the throne of Elenoria. Unlike human succession, however, elven kings and queens can sit on the throne for centuries (two millennia in the case of Elena, the first Elenorian queen) so Valadain is not worried by this discovery.
His children become close to Willowstar’s godlings, Malakar and Elena, and they are close and good friends throughout their early years. Under the watchful eye of Jarik – a regular visitor to Willowstar – he shows them the meaning of balance and takes them on regular excursions on the backs of mighty dragons. Illyanth trains her sons well. Brendil is considered one of Elenoria’s greatest swordsmen at ten years old and both show a thirst for knowledge that surprises even their elven tutors.
Valadain soon learns that Jarik and Willowstar have become lovers…his mastery of the Paths discerns this knowledge. He alone knows of the child the two will produce years before it happens…a child that will play with his own children, play with the godlings and, ultimately, rise to challenge the world. Andur Jarikstar is eight years old in cy 4844 and already the Elenorian forest is too small and provincial to meet his/her capacity to learn (the child is half man half dragon – no discernable sex, but it is called son anyway). Valadain stares down his friend’s path and for Jarik he sees the slow climb to god-hood. Willowstar subtly and secretly altered the nature of the monasteries and the Guardians of Balance…that alteration caused a filtering of his followers’ power toward Jarik. There will soon be a god of balance.
Of Muziel there is no sign. The Echeron lord has vanished…sank into the mire shortly after the death of Malkar. Even in Myrid, the kingdom of Viator, his influence has dried up – many rumours spread but no confirmed sightings. Valadain is unable to read Muziel’s path because he does not possess anything that connects with the Echeron. (To read the paths you must be a) in touching distance of the man or b) in possession of something of great value - sentimental or otherwise - that the person held dear). Many are thankful for the apparent disappearance of Muziel. Particularly Willowstar and the Elenorians, who have their hands full of children and godlings.
Sadly Willowstar is an infrequent visitor to Valadain. Though the fears of her people are greatly reduced the goddess feels that her children would be thrown into conflict if a relationship developed between them. Though Willowstar regrets this she informs him that it is purely a pragmatic decision…in time their relationship will blossom…but only after her children are set on their own paths.
Valadain never meets Malakar, though Elena secretly embraces him at Illyanth’s insistence and the two share tears for the death of Malkar. Elena is fiercely loyal to her mother and she too has the gift of the Paths. “Malakar will forgive you one day,” she says, “and you will be given the credit you deserve, Valadain, credit for the centuries of peace that will follow.”
Valadain is uncertain of her words, for he too has stared down the Paths of many people. Peace? No peace for many of Grayhawk’s inhabitants.
Brendil is seventeen and has a desire to leave Elenoria and forge his own existence in the world. Though Illyanth is nervous it is Jarik that persuades her to let him go…and it is Jarik that offers him passage to Kulland and the mighty citadel of Aldegaarde. Jarik has emptied the Darklands and the Sundered Isles of almost two hundred thousand refugees. An operation that took Sharoshi and a thousand dragons nearly ten years has seen the emergence of a new kingdom in the east. Valadain embraces his son and Jarik, though Illyanth cannot help but hide a tear for her son. His path is one to greatness, a heroic trail of great deeds and compassion. Elena, Willowstar’s godling, embraces the young man and Valadain sees her Path intertwined closely with his son’s – he smiles as the dragon flies south over the great green carpet of trees.
Elenoria, the great elven kingdom, does not sleep in the domesticity of the children within its borders. Illyanth uses the fact that Willowstar is here to promote Elenorians as Gods People – though later chastised by the goddess the words of the queen have the desired effect. The Elenorians become proud (arrogant? aloof?) and maintain their hard work in areas such as construction (defences, farming etc) and more importantly in the military. Illyanth grows the army to double its size in the twenty years of her reign – furthermore she applies her martial genius to retraining these troops. “The world is getting stronger,” she says to Valadain one day, “and my Elenorians will not be left behind when it comes to armies.”
After fifteen years a letter arrives from the Isle of Ice. It is Illeum Runesabre, who built an academy at Gorhaven and attracted some of Bretonia’s greatest sorcerers to it. An extract:
…my congratulations on the birth of your sons, half brother, a truly wonderful thing that the Elenorians have embraced you. When they are old enough send them to me at the Palace of Ice – I will make them more than welcome…in fact come yourself and bring that pretty queen of yours too!
They have made me king now! Imagine it…I was within a whisper of becoming steward of Bretonia once more but Jarik put paid to that…but I am not bitter about it. What happened has forced me into a better life so if I ever see Jarik again I may just thank him…or perhaps I will just destroy him!
I am building a navy, by the way. My advisors say that it is the only way to get around in the western isles…have they not heard of dragons! Anyway, ignore the rumours you will hear that I am building a fleet to invade Bretonia…they are not true.
In time we will dine together, my brother, and talk perhaps of the olden times…I would dearly like that…
In conclusion Valadain has given himself to the training and upbringing of his children. With that upbringing comes the love of his queen and the admiration of all the Elenorians who come to know him. As a warrior and as a sorcerer he has reached new heights, but it is through his children and their deeds where his success will be measured. Valadain knows better than most, however, that stormy times are ahead.
Appendix - Brendil was killed fighting for Malakar against Elena and Merlynar in Rosengrad, but Calindrin went on to marry and father a son, Arviel. Both became fugitives when Illyanth, corrupted by demons, hatched a plan to recreate the Bloodlines, which required the deaths of her husband and his descendants.
After their seperation over her plans, Valadain led the ill-fated assault on Illyanth's palace in 4863, accompanied by Taryn, Hosskarl, Brazer, G-Lest and Streng. He had never been a match for the Queen in combat, and her tainting by demon influences only made the gap worse. Valadain died as he had lived, standing his ground fighting for what he believed to be right.