A Meeting of Champions
The former champions had gathered on a mountaintop mesa, stunning views of ice capped mountains all around. Such gatherings were becoming increasingly rare in recent years. Borys rages had become infrequent, and when he did rage it was now far from the lands of the champions, meaning that they were less reliant on each other for protection.
Keltis, lately called Oronis by his followers, was the first among the champions for this particular meeting, which meant that he had the administrative task of organizing discussions among the champions. “Now”, Keltis said, “Dregoth asks to speak”.
In his true form, Dregoth was a huge dragon, almost as large as Borys himself. For convenience he was in a smaller humanoid form. Unlike the other champions, his assumed form was not that of a human, but a draconic humanoid.
Dregoth started speaking. “Look around you. The world is dying. Rajaat was right in the sense that the world must be restored back to the Blue Age, his absurd delusions about halflings being the inheritors of that world notwithstanding. We were ALSO wrong. No one believed in the human cause more than me. Indeed, I was already at war with the giants before Rajaat found me and recruited me to the cause. But humanity is too weak…“. At this point many voices were raised in objection, and Keltis interjected, “Dregoth will be heard. Order”.
The other champions thus silenced, Dregoth continued. “Humans are too weak to survive. Think – we are not human. Our humanity is mere nostalgia. Humans do not rule themselves; we rule them. The model for the superior race is not the halflings or humans, it is us. We can create a race that will stand the test of the ages, using the biological material that we possess in our own bodies”.
Abalach-Re spat out a response. “Another Cleansing War, Dregoth? We’ve put that behind us. It was a mistake that we shall not repeat again”. Among the champions there were voices of “hear hear” raised in agreement with Abalach-Re.
Dregoth laughed, a booming chuckle. “A Cleansing War? Nay. We will raise up our new, superior race, created in our image to rule over the other, lesser servitor races. We can do this by transforming our favored human followers into the superior race”.
Daskinor replied to Dregoth. “Do whatever you like. Create your ‘superior race’ to sate your vanity but stay clear of Eldaarich or you will regret it”. Lalali-Puy added, “the madness of the change may be different according to the person experiencing it. Borys is raging, our friend Dregoth here is delusional”.
The consensus was clear. Dregoth had not a single supporter among the former champions of Rajaat.
“Small minded fools”, Daskinor raged at the other champions, “this world will die and everything with it unless we take action! At the very least, let us join to restore Athas to the Blue Age!”.
This was an old debate among the champions. The champions could do much to restore Athas, but unlike Rajaat they did not have access to the energy of the sun. They had to rely on plant and animal energy. If they wanted to restore plants and water to Athas, they would have to drain enormous amounts of animal life of their life energies, including that of sentient beings like humans. Currently the champions were trying to wipe out knowledge of magic so sorcerers stealing life energy from plants would disappear, and only then would they consider a project to restore Athas. Otherwise the illicit sorcerers would simply drain the new plant life energy as fast as the champions could create it.
“You may conduct your project in your own lands, Dregoth”, Keltis said, and then added, “the champions have decided unanimously that you are to cease your metamorphosis”.
Saliva dripping from his fangs, Dregoth screeched “you have no right! None of you!”.
“This is the reason why the decision was made. You can barely contain your rage. Your thinking is impaired. Follow the decision of the collective champions, Dregoth. It is for your own benefit”.
There were some final formalities, and then the meeting was brought to a close. All of the champions returned to their abodes, including Dregoth. Back in his palace Dregoth thought of the Planar Gate. He had not mentioned this artifact to the champions because this was perhaps his greatest advantage over them. For with the Planar Gate he would be able travel the higher worlds, places beyond the reach of even Rajaat. In his discussions with the psionic intelligence of the gate he discovered that these worlds, called planes, had in many ways far more sophisticated magical traditions than Athas. He would learn all he could and then fulfill his dream.