The Anthem

In a time before civilization had spread throughout the world, mythic and fantastic creatures inhabited several planes of existence. And as close or parallel as these worlds are, their inhabitants remain oblivious to them. The exception to this occurs rarely in remote locations, a few individuals that can see beyond the barriers of existence and literally step into other worlds. Those who have encountered them have labeled them Planeswalkers and they are revered and feared. Now they must gather to save the planes when their existence is in jeopardy.

Our story begins in Panar; a lush plane filled with life and mana. It's inhabitants peacefully co-existing with all other creatures. Strife and disease hold no sway here and prosperity has reigned for as long as history has been written. In a world with no conflict, many of its inhabitants found peace in day-to-day life. Though one person only saw a vast, boring landscape. Ne was a young woman deeply connected to the land. She talked to the trees and the plains and every time she heard then same peaceful lullaby that eventually turned to a boring monotone which led her to seek out something more. She ventured to the distant horizon, which led her to the adventure that she seeks.

Ne steeped through the threshold of the forest floor, pushing vines and bushes aside until she stood before a tall white oak. She has seen it on the horizon for many days now but she never imagined it would be this grand. She hesitated before it, she had so many questions but at the same time she kindled fear as to what ancient knowledge the tree held in its bark. She placed one hand on the trunk and listened. Her meditation closed off all her surroundings and she was surrounded by darkness, all that remained was she and the great oak. "Hello? I… I come bearing no weapons. My name is Ne and I seek your knowledge".

There was a long silence, and she waited until a loud booming voice filled the area, "I am the Indomitable". It was followed by another long silence. "I know why you have come, and I have nothing for you."

"But, you haven't even heard what I have to ask!" she exclaimed.

"I know what you seek. It has been as obvious as the day you left your home. You seek to go somewhere..." The voice stopped. Ne waited and waited but her exuberance got the better of her.

"Then why? Why do have nothing to tell me. Your ancient knowledge must know of somewhere I can go, a place that hasn't fallen victim to the suppression of absolute law. Please!" she pleaded, listening to the silence that followed. She was ready to give up, her journey all for not but once again the tree spoke to her.

"You have been placed on a dangerous path, be forewarned that if you continue you can never return to the life you have. The knowledge you seek has been inside you since you started your journey and all that is required is to awaken it…" The voice stopped but was replaced with a sudden stirring inside her. An orb of mana swirled in her stomach and rose to her chest until it felt like it would erupt from her face. Instead, she broke away from the tree and stumbled back, tripping over a root and fell, losing consciousness.

Later, in a plane not too distant from that of Panar, a small, hunched and cloaked figure darted out from a shaman's hut grasping something close to his chest. He hid behind another two huts as a shrill bellow cut the silence. "GROOOOOKK!!" A much larger goblin emerged from the hut, looking left and right and stomping down one foot. "Give me back my gauntlet!!!" she shouted and squinted her one good eye. Grok stayed hidden, all he wanted was what was calling out to him, the tarnished artifact looked dull and even mundane as he stowed it in his pack, but he knew it held something more powerful than anything in this camp. The small goblin snuck around but the larger goblin was closing in, and he had nowhere to run. He snuck under the cloth wall of the hut and froze at what he saw. There laid what appeared to be an elf, no it was more like a human. He had never seen her around and no one in the camp had talked about keep a prisoner. Despite his current situation, he prodded the sleeping half-elf, curious as to why she would sneak into a goblin camp and just fall asleep.

"Psst! You shouldn't be sleeping..." Just then, the larger goblin barged in, nearly knocking the hut over. "Eek! Wort! I-" Grok stumble over the sleeping half-elf, waking her to a surprising situation.

"GIVE ME BACK MY GAUNLET!!!!!" Wort the goblin bellowed and stomped her large feet. Soon her feet found themselves ensnared by roots and other vegetation moving of it's own accord. Green magic flowed through the plant life from the hands of the now wakened druid. Grok seized the opportunity and darted out from behind the hut, taking his new unaware ally with him. He left into the barren landscape, not looking back for fear of the amassing horde behind him.

When the two stopped they had reached a tall mountain range with a small winding path through. Grok went off to the side and rifled through his pack while Ne caught her breath to question the little goblinoids. "Where am I? Did those goblins kidnap me and why were you running from them? Hello!?" she exclaimed. He ignored her as he found the gauntlet again but he wouldn't let her have even a glimpse of it. Ne walked over and Grok hid his possession and turned.

"They…err. Never mind, all we need to do it get through those mountains, then we can-"

"We? No, you need to tell me where I am and which way is Panar. I'm not going anywhere with you until my questions are answered!" She was feeling quite assertive; more so then she had ever felt back on Panar. She stood still and watched the goblin and his mixed expression.

"Pa-nar? Never heard of it, you must have traveled really far to get to Sakaar. Now, let's get moving." And he took off without another word, heading toward the pass through the peaks. The mountains reached toward the sky like a giant clawed hand gouging the clouds in defiance of their reign over the land.

Grok was just like any goblin she had read about, with a few key differences: he wasn't a slobbering or gibbering maniac that the books of Panar had explained, he seemed to be quite thoughtful and direct and he had two large ram-like horns sprouting from his head which curled back with his long pointed ears. Though he showed no signs of being demonic or devilish, he must have been a distant cousin of the usually goblin. He didn't walked with the stride of a gnome or halfling; it was more of a hobble and a hop as he looked toward the peaks as if to expect something coming down on him from above. Ne also watched the sky, it was different from Panar, and she had obviously gone somewhere different, new and dangerous as the tree had told her.

The rustling of rocks signaled a stop for the two, trying to spot what might be a predator above them. Neither carried weapons and Grok knew the druid's plant magic was useless without vegetation. Rocks tumbled to the base of the mountain as a large mountain cat peered over the edge. Both froze as the cat leapt down to a ledge just above them, its eyes focused on its new meal as it prowled closer. They would have run had they not been knocked down from what happened next.

The goblin sniffed the air, sulfur, and he coughed vigorously, only drawing in more of the burning air. Ne looked up in shock, spotting two large wings coming down around the cat. A dragon the size of a house crushed the mountain cat under its large talons. Never before had she seen or ever believed she would encounter a live dragon. Their problems just leapt from bad to worse as the dragon now stared them down. Grok held his eyes shut, coughing and choking, and tried to run, anyway that was away. Ne couldn't look away, frozen in fear of the massive reptile. Again the large wings came out and blew a strong gust of wind and dirt into the air and then it moved. It snatched the half-elf up and took off to the top of one of the pillars of rock. Grok caught his breath, getting his wits back, and looked to the tall mountain. There was no way he was going to scale the jagged peak and defeat a dragon, but something inside him compelled him to move forward. He was filled with fear and doubt and his muscles ached with fatigue. The village just beyond the mountains would have to wait.

Grok started up the cliff side. His mind told him to stop his suicidal venture and that the druid had probably been devoured already. But his heart told him something different; her presence in the goblin village was no accident. He kept on climbing, resting at a ridge only for a moment before continuing.
He had climbed some of these mountains before, in search of treasure or food, and he had grown connected to them in a way. This was a different situation though; he had never scaled a mountain or even applied this much effort for another persons benefit. He pulled himself over the last ledge and caught another whiff of the sulfurous air. He looked into the deep cavern then over the mountain ridge to the village. 'Soon' he thought, 'soon I will end your oppression'. He started into the cave, covering his mouth with a small cloth tied round his face.

Ne awoke, surrounded by crisp burnt bodies. She immediately covered her mouth and nose then stood only to catch a full view of the dragon blocking the exit. She nearly screamed and scrambled to the back of the cave wall, stepping in a large pile of gold and treasures. The clinking of gold coins hitting the cave floor caused the dragon to turn toward her and growl. She froze and sunk to the ground. The earth here was burnt, and even if she could concentrate enough to speak with it, it was nearly dead. The dragon closed in and drool dripped down around her, hissing against the warm ground. She watched the dragon rear its large head and as it came down she darted around and stumbled, spotting the exit of the cave and a small goblinoid standing just outside. She found a glimmer of hope that someone, even a small and bizarre goblin, had come to her rescue.

He rifled through his pack once again and found the tarnished gauntlet. He had no time for doubts anymore and he slipped it over his right hand. The gauntlet seemed to do nothing at first, but when Grok found himself angry at the artifact for doing nothing, it sparked to life, a red jolt of mana surged through the fingers and up his arm. Grok felt the gauntlet heat up until the dirt and grime on it burned away but he felt no more discomfort then warming his hand on an open flame. He felt the old shamans magic reach through him and opened up a part of him that he had never felt so alive before. His mind and heart both told him to do one thing: action. He ran for the half-elf and as the dragon turn to strike again. Grok gripped the gauntlet in a fist and struck the dragons muzzle before it crashed into the small goblin. Ne exclaimed and ran over to Grok, who slowly got up. The dragon shook its head around and knocked some rocks around the cave. The two made their break for the entrance and as they passed the cavern opening, Grok pressed the gauntlet to the wall and focused the heat until the walls crumbled and closed off the exit. "Now, start climbing!"

Grok pulled rope from his bag and looped it around his belt, then tossed the end to Ne. She held the rope and started to descend the cliffside. Her thoughts were racing and her hands slipped, lowering her at an alarming rate. This motion jerked Grok from his feet and close to the edge. He looked down, "Hey, you alright?" She nodded, now finding her footing, and continued slowly. The earth outside was vibrant with mana, all waiting to erupt. Ne tried to connect with it but every time she could only hear a cacophony of voices all shouting something different, each louder then the last and trying to be the loudest of them all. She quickly removed herself and returned to her decent. Grok was starting aswell, finding easier footholds for his small feet quite easily. His gauntlet now illuminated the area as if he were holding a lit torch in the palm of his hand. They both stopped when the area shook and rocks were seen crumbling down and edge; it was evident that the dragon was free. Once again, the great wings were seen carrying the large lizard through the air and a feral roar echoed off the many pillars of stone. It came around one of the many peaks and when the gust of wind hit them all sound was drown out. Both held on for dear live, but the gale forces made Grok lose his grip on the wall and he was soon ejected from the surface. Ne held the rope tight and pulled back. Thud! Grok smacked against the rocky surface below her and he caught himself.

"You ok?" she climbed down to him, still worried about the dragon's next pass. He panted and shook his head, the blow he took from the dragon had nearly knocked him out and the sudden crash shook him even more. "Quick, climb on." She was still finding it difficult to climb then jagged rock but the weight of one goblin was no problem. Grok held onto her cloth as she slowly climbed onto a small ledge of the mountain, not too far from the path, but the dragon was coming in once again. Ne was then reminded of the warning the Indomitable had issued and cursed herself for her ignorance. The dragon's maw exuded his acidic drool and he pulled in closer to the rock wall, ready to snatch up his elusive meal when swift arrows struck his wing. It was followed by two more, etched with icy blue runes which glowed until the glow was an explosive burst of frost across the frail membrane of his wing. Ne spotted their savoir in the form of a rugged archer, perched on a cliffside across, firing another notch arrow from his longbow toward the now retreating lizard. Both parties climbed down and met on the crag's path below.

Grok groaned and opened his eyes to see Ne smiling back. It comforted him that they were both safe and on the ground. "What happened?" Grok's voice was raspy and he tried to sit up but was stopped by another crouching figure. This one was a built human, wrapped in tough armor and carrying a decorated longbow. He held a flask with a swirling blue liquid toward the goblin, clearly not afraid or disgust. Grok gave him a puzzled look, "I…Who are you?"

"Names Dauthi, friend. I save you and your lady-friend here, though I don't recommend we stay here. Drink this and I assure you'll feel better."

"He saved us, I'm pretty sure we can trust him." Ne said, picking up her pack and looking over at the village just beyond. Grok drank the liquid and the pain between his ribs faded to the point that he could move freely. All three started toward the town, getting to know each other as they went.

"So you come from this town, Dauthi?" Grok said from behind the two.

"Yes, Steeltown used to be a camp of savages, but when the wizard arrived he saw potential for it to be a trading post. Since then the people who lived there have thrown down their blades and clubs and settled into families." Dauthi noticed the druid's foreign vestments. "And where do you hail from?"

"I came from… a far off forest. The journey here was a unique one at best." Ne looked away, still wondering the origin of her journey here. "Grok was the first person I saw, and since, we've been traveling together."

"Heh, sounds like a bizarre pair, you two." Dauthi strapped his bow to his back as they arrived at the gate of Steeltown. The only building visible from the outside was a large tower in the center of town, with a mysterious arcane glow to it. Grok shot a grim look to the top, swearing he could see a silhouetted figure staring back.

"Your wizard, where did her arrive from exactly?" Grok said in-between gulps from his water skin, the blue glow of the tower was unsettling at best and he quickly stowed the gauntlet once again in his pack.

"You know, he hasn't told us. He was always the governing body in this region, since no lords live in the area. But I wouldn't go about talking to him, he has a strict 'nothing-under-4-feet-may-enter' rule, ever since that drunk halfling undid the magical ward and unhinged the front door." Dauthi burst out laughing as the three finally reached the gate. A few knocks and the slow groan of the Steel Gate doors later, and the group had set foot in Steeltown, a modest miner camp/town. The grinding of gears of simple but arguably gargantuan machines slowly ripped larger and larger hunk of raw ore from the ground. Men grunted and heaved carts around tracks that extended into a deep pit into the ground. Ne looked into another dead terrain with a bleak stare. This place was another swelling gash in the flesh of the plane-scape. With snapped to attention as Ne whacked into a now stationary Dauthi and Grok smacked into them both. They had arrived at the Inn located in the building farthest away from the mining area. Dauthi peeled them from his armor and opened the door; the atmosphere inside was tame at midday due to the high population of miners still at work.

"Do you stay at this Inn, Dauthi?" Ne's attention once again directed away, the mine must have deep roots in the ground and the more they tore the resources with their brutish machines, the more she felt a straining pain all over her body.

"No", her attention snapped back to the ranger, "I have my own house close to the barracks, I teach archery to the guardsmen." He flashed a charismatic grin at his own skills and then gave his farewell to Ne and Grok as they entered the Inn. "I have some business to catch up with but know we'll meet up again, I believe you owe me…" His depart was swift and direct and Ne turned back to Grok. He was balancing on a stool, trying to get a room to no avail.

"Your money is no good here, ya horned cur, git, before I throw you and your dirty scraps of copper out of Steel town!" The Inn keep brandished a broom as Grok cursed and gibbered in that goblin language Ne read about. She quickly intervened, dropping down a makeshift pouch from a piece of cloth and leather filled with the shiny gold she fell on in the cave. The keep snatched up the bag, checked it and grinned, pointing to the stairs and tossing her two metal keys, one large and one small.

"Eeep!" she ducked and missed the keys. The Inn keep gave a puzzled looked then chuckled at the two, "The big ones a room for you, miss. The small ones a kennel for your goblin", He burst out laughing now and Grok grit his teeth and stomped off. They got into the room and set their packs down.

"I need some supplies and food. You can do what you want, take off and find your own path if you want." Grok wrapped up the gauntlet and strapped it around his shoulder, not willing to take his chances with something this precious to him. Ne shook her head and agreed they should stay together if their progression toward a common goal for adventure was to be fulfilled. It was comforting to the goblin that he had an ally on his quest and Ne aspired for adventure; finding Grok a resourceful adventurer to have along. Both understood the ideal of the limited strength of one; the parts each contribute to the whole, and each part gains what the whole inherits. They agreed on a pact, their actions had proved more than any words between them could.

"So that wizard…. and that… mine. They need to be stopped" she could feel herself becoming more assertive as she adventured with Grok.

"I agree, but getting in is going to be a problem. I saw guards posted outside the only door in, must be from that halfling Dauthi mentioned. Do you still have any of that gold?" Ne nodded and pulled a slightly larger sack then before out. Grok pulled out an inkpen and parchment, "Write down a list of supplies, if there is an alchemist in this town, it will make it all the easier to get in. I'm going to try and track down that halfling to see if he can give us any information about getting in." Their plan was coming together as evening and duck finally came around. They planned as far as they could and the chance and risk involved was greater then they would have wanted but their pact was set and they would not turn back from their goal.

Dawn came and the two started their search. Ne looked around the marketplace puzzled; prices, bartering and appraisal escaped her as she went from vendor to vendor and got haggled by each and everyone one of them, trying to get rid of goods and adventuring supplies. She looked over the list and found several items at the tops of shelves and behind other, more extravagant, merchandise. The amount of gold she dished out at each vendor slowly sucked the girth from the sack. It dawned on she didn't have enough for the rest of the supplies. She hoped Grok was luckier on his end of the search.

The goblin had stripped down to a few cloth garments, the heat that was vented from the mine made it almost unbearable to get close enough to question workers who may have seen his target. Guards and other officials ignored and passed him by and common folk were less then easy to intimidate into helping his cause. He found all the bars in the town and none had seen their usual customer in a while. "Last we heard of him was one of his pitched screams outside the Inn, usually shouts at all hours when he finds himself a pretty gold to buy his pint." Grok was finally getting somewhere and bolted out the door toward the Inn. He reached there around midday and started checking down alleyways and around any pile of debris he had left unturned. Soon sling pellets from above bombarded him, the halfling had found him first, but at least his search had ended. "Hey, I need you help. You got past the door of the wizard and I could use the help of someone who has the abilities and will to defy the law around here." Grok swatted away a few more stones and the halfling gave a slurred giggle.

"I did that on a whim, I don't have anything against that uhhg… * hic*… silly old man. It would be better for you to pass on though…* hic* and take it from me, that guy can get pretty uhhhm… serious when he wants toooo." The halfling slumped on the room of a nearby building.

"You're not making this easy for either of us. That wizard is corrupting what use to be a free and open village. Now we are barred and ordered like cattle into this pen or out of it. You may not appreciate or even remember the freedoms of this land but I must do something about this plague of civilization and mad-made law." Grok grit his teeth and threw a small piece of debris, shaking the halfling into tumbling down. "Now I don't need you to go in and risk your hide, just tell me what you know about getting inside". The halfling sized him up and down and nodded. He snatched a dagger from a loop on his belt and started to draw a map of the tower, pointing out key places for hiding and a couple trap just outside the building. Grok felt some slack had been taken off of the troublesome evening yet to come and took note of everything the halfling told him between his slurs and personal remarks about how uptight the wizard is, barring all but the most elite from his tower.

Grok met with the reluctant Ne at the Inn at dusk. She showed him their supplies and he told her his information. They put on pads under their feet, dampening the noise they made as they crept toward the tower. The workday was ending and miners flooded form the hole in the ground, sweating and conversing away as each headed to their taverns to share stories of the largest boulders they pulled. Grok grabbed two items from the sack, a gray stick that looked like a cut piece of coal and a throwing axe. He tossed the stick into the crowd with a jerking motion, giving it a spin. When it stuck the first miner, smoke started to emit from the quickly reacting chemical agents. He had seen mere mundane items create amazing effects when the right intellect was involved. Then he swung the throwing axe from a hidden location, cutting a rope on the simple gear machine, causing a cog to start tipping precariously close to a group of men and a building. They moved into it, pushing it back up but the block was heavy and took the effort of many men to keep it up. Grok watched as the guards were called into action but Ne was shocked at his actions, endangering those lives just for their goal was more reckless then she had wanted this to go down. Grok was on the move again and the druid followed. He pointed out the first trap they had to step over and from then inside it was just a matter of keeping their guard up and their wits about them.

Grok led the way, gauntlet still strapped to his shoulder. The staircase inside was lined with runes and the blue glow had now covered the walls and objects inside. Grok felt sluggish and almost fell for some fall away brick traps. Ne aided him where she could and focused on the blue mana. I felt cool like a fresh rain on this hot, scalded plane. At the same time it was constricting and overwhelming her mana. This was not her element at all; her forest was probably miles and miles away. As they closed in on the top, there was a whoosh from above, a thin, scaled stalk with an eye on the end descended from the door from above, it looked over the area and emitted an eerie glow. The aberrational stalk was not of this world and Grok felt a deep fear dwell from within. Was this wizard conjuring other worldly beings to devour the village and sate an appetite of his own power? He nearly screamed out loud but Ne covered his mouth and shook her head. She tossed a pebble at it and Grok could see it pass straight through. The illusion nearly drew him into revealing their location.

With both back on track, Grok listened through a cracked cobblestone and could hear the cries of panic. He only hoped the wizard had his attention focused on the event aswell. The opened the door leading up. Coming into a library filled with book and knowledge beyond any scholar in this mountainous region. It didn't sit right with Grok but Ne quickly scanned the books but was drawn to the door before them. The rush of wind from the crack of the bottom of the door made it known that the wizard probably had a balcony at the other side of that door. Grok snuck up to the door and Ne closed in. He felt the lack of magic on the door. The wizard had not expected them to reach this far. He pulled a crowbar out and set it to the hinge. Just then the door flung off its hinges and tossed Grok all the way across the room. A tall and thin figure levitated out the doorway and toward the goblin. His hands glowed with a blue force and the door slid off. Grok was raised into the air and held before the aged man.

"You are a thorn that must be removed and discarded, now be gone." He waved his hands about and magical glyphs formed but they dissipated as the goblin struck him with the gauntlet, now over his fist and brimming with red fiery mana. He got back to his feet and readied himself for another arcane onslaught. Ne snuck into the room and found more books and stopped before a swirling blue vortex. Inside she noticed a totally different landscape. She scanned the books until a more then familiar word emerged.

"Panar! What!?" She snatched the book and quickly flipped over from page to page. She stared in awe at detailed sketches and notes about locations and creatures living there, someone was cataloguing other places from here. It also meant that he knew how she could get back or even how she got here.

Meanwhile, Grok blocked a searing ray of heat with the equal heat of his gauntlet, advancing in closer and assaulting the man again. His blows connected enough but he felt he wasn't hurting him in the least. He shot another ray and when Grok went to parry, it changed elements and electricity swam over him arms and chest and he slumped. He got back up to notice the wizard making his way into the room Ne had snuck in to. It was followed by a shriek of pain and another spell being cast. The goblin bolted to the door, flying into a frenzy. When he saw him floating over her he let out a scream and tackled the man, pinning to one of the bookcases. His fist came down again and again, charring the robes of the mage until he pushed back with his invisible force. "I have had enough! If I cannot stop your bodies, I will render your minds inert." He pushed him back and waved his hands about but the beating he had incurred disrupted his concentration and he soon found himself dealing with the goblin face to face again. Soon he fell, unconscious from the magical heat and Grok's relentless beating. Grok screamed again, tossing him down and going to Ne's side.

"It's ok now, the mage has been dealt with." Grok sighed in relief. He noticed the dim in blue mana around them and Ne sat up, rubbing the point where the wizard's spell struck her.

"We need to get out of here, the wizard may be out but people will notice soon enough." Ne got up and made her way out, gathering a few book before leaving the portal to dissipate into nothing more then a dim glow. As she made her back down the stairs, she turned to see Grok had stayed behind and it was soon followed with terrified human cries and what she could only assume was sizzling flesh. She once again questioned how far this goblin was going to go to meet his ends. His ferocity and lack of mercy troubled her, but she remembered how dangerous the mage had been and let it go. Both quickly descended the tower as it lost its mana. The front door was their escape until a human figure stood between them and freedom.

"Dauthi!" Ne exclaimed, rushing to him and checking for guards. He looked solemnly toward the druid and goblin. "We had to do it, you need to understand then he was not of this world and he was exploiting both the people and the resources of this land."

"I don't know exactly what you've done but breaking the law is still a punishable crime…. We need to get out of the town and quick." The ranger nodded and cracked a smile. All three made a dash toward the gate door, still open from a caravan's journey inward. Ne was relieved to find another ally in Dauthi. Their group had many gaps to fill and he was just as important to their progression as Grok.

Her adventures in Sakaar had just begun. Soon she would reveal the mystery behind her journey here and put an end to the mine of Steeltown. She still held Panar close deep in her heart and as the group headed toward a low laying forest, she felt her green mana return to her hands. With her allies close, they would adventure well beyond the limits of one. Yet, they still have a ways to go if they are going to save the multitude planes in danger of the great Sundering to come.