In Which We Do That Thing We Are Never, Ever, Ever, EVER Supposed to Do, Suffer Literally No Consequences For it, and STILL Get Jacked by a Technicality
Sunday, 15 Fireseek, CY 596 (WhatEVER)
After healing and discussing how scant their resources are, the party identifies the likeliest site of the death of the Roc King: a mountain peak under constant assault by lightning bolts. Because, of course.
Due to severely limited time and resources, the party decides it’s best if Jane and Riddle fly to the peak to complete the last trial while Tyrrell, Long Fist, and Scar-Eater go retrieve Krathanos’ Belt from its hiding place. So you know, the party is going to…divide. Separate. Fragment. Rive. Tear asunder. Or, as they say: split.
First they load Jane up with every personality booster they have and she uses her Pearl of Power to recall the failed dominate animal from earlier. Riddle takes Tyrrell’s scroll of raise dead, casts protection from electricity, communal on himself and Jane, and the party goes their separate ways.
Jane, as Athena, flies Riddle to the top of an insanely high peak. They are struck by lightning no less than four times. At around ten thousand feet up they spot the corpse of the enormous bird beast and they fly down to inspect it. They see massive areas of bludgeoning damage as if it had been repeatedly crushed by boulders. “_Clashing of rocks_,” Riddle says, shaking his head.
But there isn’t time to mourn as lightning continues striking them. Jane shifts to her air elemental Tempest form while Riddle uses the scroll to raise the Roc King. There is an deep rumble as its enormous body trembles and shakes, reviving in the midst of the scream of the death throw agony that Darl and company wrought upon it. Riddle heals it and she attempts to communicate with it, but she’s…well, not great at this. Riddle attempts to help her with alter fortune but the best she can manage is to keep it in a state of non-aggression. It obviously wants to fly away immediately and they cannot allow that, so she uses dominate animal, using the connection between them to project an image of it remaining still while she pulls a feather from its body. It crouches, awkwardly, but without rebellion, and allows her to take the feather. She needs two attempts, but gets it. The final trial is complete.
It is late in the evening on Tilagos when the party reunites, but at least they are able to gather without any further incidents or encounters. It is about an hour from midnight when they return through the flat vale where the obsidian portal originally deposited them. Standing under the incredibly intense and vibrant light of the star, the four haloed humanoids who greeted them await their return. All bear banners of flame, clouds, parched earth, and oceans.
Tylanthros steps forward again. “The Fountain of Dreams is linked to all things in Last Resort. Earth, trees, clouds, my life, and my brothers’ lives. If the waters are consumed, the Order’s rights shall be revoked and the creatures imprisoned here will be freed to the Material Plane. Is this what you want?”
The party – these five kids, wielders of god-like powers burdened with the emotional maturity of the teenagers that they are – all look to each other, uncertain. Time and again have they chosen the path that seemed the most righteous only to find they have unwittingly unleashed terror and bloodshed upon the world. Time and again have they followed their hearts only to learn that all roads lead to destruction, the question is, whose?
In the silence Tylanthros reviews the trials these children have completed and asks again if they wish to drink from the Fountain of Dreams.
And Tyrrell buys them some time.
He asks about Kyuss, startling the brothers. “He almost broke fully free from his prison in our time, and in order to help lock him back away we stole…what did we steal? There was a general. There was a dragon, we took something important to distract it from the war at hand but what happened after we…what happened after we…we do not know.”
Tyrrell asks how his finger got on this island for centuries, but they cannot say. “Our vigil has lasted fifteen years. Nineteen years ago…something changes. There was an active force at work in the water beneath…and it stopped paying attention. It stopped paying attention.”
These guys are not entirely…there, as it were. Tyrrell asks, “Have we met before?” but the brothers cannot answer and seem troubled by the questions.
Jane asks what happened to the rest of the Order of the Storm. Tylanthros reports that there were ten involved in the binding, but not all survived the spell. “Our bodies survived,” he notes, cryptically.
“When Kyuss was first imprisoned,” he says, “it was the elves. When he almost broke free again we worked with…others…others we cannot remember.”
Tyrrell asks, “If we don’t drink the waters, and we just go home, what happens to you guys?” Tylanthros explains that he and his brothers must remain until the death of this plane. He presumes they would die, but when Jane asks if that is what they want, he claims they don’t remember.
“What is in the Library?” Riddle asks.
“Everything secret that no one still living knows,” Tylanthros replies. One of the brothers states that he hopes we would use the knowledge gained there against Kyuss. Another, called Sayren-Lei, disagrees. He does not believe the party deserves to drink for allowing the Roc King to die at the hands of Darl and friends.
Tired and frustrated, Jane snaps back, “The Roc King lives.”
Sayren-Lei is not satisfied. He formally contests the party’s accomplishments and demands trial by blood to prove their worthiness. The others are clearly surprised, but confirm that it is his right to do so. Riddle proceeds to commune with his dieties to ask if the party should drink the waters or try to find another way to preserve the secrets of the Library. His chorus answers, in no uncertain terms: _”The Servant of Vecna is not gone forever. He will return. The secrets will be his, unless they are prevents. Drinks the waters if you would have them for yourself.”
Trial by blood it is.
But before that happens, Tyrrell suggests to the others that Sayren-Lei might be stalling so the servant of Vecna can return and claim the Library for himself. Tylanthros seems saddened by the suggestion by not swayed. “We do not exist in the way that you think. We exist only as the agenda we had when we gave our flesh to the spell. We believe anyone with a different agenda would surely have died in the trying to sacrifice themselves.
Riddle steps up to try to reason with Sayren-Lei that by denying himself and his friends he is serving Vecna. Jane, still spent and desperate to avoid another fight, pleads with the others to convince Sayren-Lei to help them end their service, but they do not seem to understand how to process that and without further ado, Jane shifts into her fire elemental form and prepares for battle.
Tyrrell gives bargaining one last shot and at least gets the other three discussing their options, but ultimately, it will be trial by blood.
Riddle steps up and shakes all of their hands, gaining at least six pieces of information about their strengths and weaknesses through touching them. He hands the Rod of Thunder and Lightning to Tyrrell and says, “You’ll need this,” then turns to the others. “Long Fist and Scar-Eater, you’re the strongest, you need to hold him.
With that, he draws a scroll and begins to read.
Tyrrell vanishes in a swarm of shadowy duplicates but Sayren-Lei still appears able to see him. And speaking of swarms, suddenly hundreds of thousands of insects manifest all around him, and then, after a causal stoneskinning of himself, hundreds of thousands of more centipedes manifest around the party.
Long Fist is immediately poisoned by the horrible things but he attempts to do as Riddle instructed anyway, but he just can’t seem to get a hold of Sayren-Lei. Riddle is nauseated by the creatures and all he can manage to do is move out of the swarm. Scar-Eater becomes nauseated and can only move about ten feet. Jane, immune to poison but not to hundreds of thousands of tiny bites sends a fire snake through the insects but can’t penetrate Sayren-Lei’s magical resistance.
Tyrrell is forced to clear the swarm as well, leaving only Long Fist as a target for Sayren-Lei’s spear. The half-ogre absorbs three attacks and takes a lot of electrical damage. Riddle manages to complete the reading of his anti-magic field scroll and moves adjacent to Sayren-Lei. And now everyone can move in and attack, except Jane, who fires a pathetic volley of sling shots before remembering that she can transform into something scary outside the field and then move in. Sayren-Lei is not totally useless without his swarms and stony skin, but he is much more vulnerable and terrifically outnumbered. Once Scar-Eater is able to get him prone and Tyrrell is able to start bleeding him, it’s only a matter of time before Sayren-Lei yields to the superior force, and the trial is answered in the party’s favor.
“So then,” Tylanthros asks. “Will you drink from the fountain now?”