Breath of Zehir

Breathless: Tytherion

The climax of Breath of Zehir.

The last few adventures in this story arc are adapted from the Scales of War adventure path published in Dungeon Magazine issue 175.

Exhausted but triumphant, our heroes are at the height of their power. All have attained their epic destinies and completed all quests before them. There lies only one challenge left: defeating Ghuladonkaranamis forever.

Ghuladon is within the astral dominion of Tytherion, shared by Zehir and Tiamat. She has been groomed by the serpent god for the sole purpose of defeating the Queen of Dragons and assuming her mantle; her every action to this point has been to achieve this goal. Without her armies of dragons to defend her, the heart of Tiamat’s lair is vulnerable and Ghuladon has led the assault with her remaining exarchs. If she succeeds in attaining true godhood, the world will be forever plunged into darkness.

The exploits of the EDGE have finally caught up to them. As the party returns to Sigil after the battle of The City of Brass, allies from around the multiverse gather around them. Cultists of the Elder Elemental Eye are drawn to Berrian and Adilisia; a great host of angels comes to Gabriella; hordes of orcs pledge themselves to Ko’Gash and Toby Junior; Bamwin has the support of the high courts of the Eladrin, and even Bardryn brings legions of devils sworn to him. Vayastra has Codren alone, but that is all she needs.

At their head is a great ancient adamantine dragon: Virgiliantus, founder of the Brothers of Bahamut and redeemer of Erathis Watch. As an exalted of Bahamut he explains the state of the war. He pledges to lead the escort for the party and deliver them safely to the gates of Tiamat’s citadel, and gives them instructions for meeting Brahm the Shining, the ghost of the paladin who led them on their very first quest.

Leaving the City of Doors for the last time, the great army descends upon Tytherion. There the characters see all colors of dragons fleeing, fighting among each other, and looting their own fortress. The patchwork army wards the players long enough to come to the entrance of the Caverns of Fiery Splendor, guarded by none other than Dragotha, the First Dracolich. Once a consort of Tiamat, Dragotha hates Her with unmatched intensity, and is now Ghuladon’s exarch and general in this dominion.

Defeating Dragotha and his escorts opens the way deeper into Tiamat’s fortress. The halls and floors are rich with the mother of all dragon hordes, stained black with the blood of hundreds of slain dragons; many have been turned to zombies or skeletons, gnawing mindlessly on their kin. Eventually they meet Brahm, who guides them through the Caverns of Fiery Splendor to the Fountain Chamber, where they can see the shadows of Ghuladon and Tiamat struggling far above them. They learn Tiamat has sequestered herself on the floating platform and is now locked in mortal combat with a fully empowered Ghuladon in her terrible glory as the Breath of Zehir.

The characters quickly discover that a potent array of warding magic prevents intruders from simply flying or teleporting up to the Battle of the Dragon Queen. The ward is maintained by none other than the demilich Lady Osterneth, and—for better or for worse—her phylactery is also here with Ghuladon’s last exarch, Faluzure the Shadow Dragon. To reach Ghuladon the EDGE must overcome both demigods, simultaneously. Shattering Osterneth’s phylactery and destroying her body will annihilate her completely.

Just as the EDGE emerges from Faluzure’s cavern, there is a tremendous roar of triumph. Ghuladon throws the savaged and broken body of the goddess to the floor of the chamber, shattering her bones and leaving her lifeless. Tiamat, queen of avarice, empress of vengeance, and mother of evil dragons, is dead. They fly to the platform where a bloodied Ghuladon rests in triumph. In her final form she exchanges blows both physical and verbal with the party, supremely confident in her victory. As the EDGE strikes down the undead shell of Ephelomon, Ghuladon’s spirit is released as the Breath of Zehir, a dragon-shaped cloud of caustic, poisonous gas. She envelops the party in choking vapors that sap them of their vitality, and drifts to the cavern floor—where she fills the corpse of Tiamat. With a shudder and a groan, Ghuladon possesses the deity’s body in the same way as she did Brahm’s years ago. Ghuladonkaranamis has become the Dragon Queen.

Then, it’s a battle royale with Ghuladon: a no-holds-barred confrontation with a full-fledged deity. Ghuladonkaranamis has all the powers and regal splendor of the five-headed dragon goddess in all her glory, with the terrible transformation of undeath. At her full power, our heroes gather all their might and spare no effort in this, the last battle of their careers against their ultimate arch-nemesis, one of the most powerful beings in the multiverse.

Next week: The world is changed, and a new era is born.

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