The Age of Worms

Session Fifty-Four
In Which a Reckless Deed Comes From the Most Unlikely Source, and Other Acts of Inquisition

Godsday, 10 Fireseek, CY 596

The party decides that attempting to pursue the Faceless One and his fellows through the portal to the lost library of the Order of the Storm is the priority – it will be dangerous and they may not succeed, but it is imperative that they make every attempt to subvert the prophecies of the Age of Worms and perhaps, improve their future prospects.

After gathering all that they know about efreet and about the Hand of Vecna, their intent seems more folly than ever, but they are undaunted. Riddle is determined to gather every bit of information he can from all sources that are available to him, but finds himself short of the material components necessary to commune with his deity. In the meantime, the party heads out to recover the crystals Tyrrell will need to operate the portal.

Following Riddle’s locate object spell, the party enters a maze and follows it for several hundred feet to an enclosed area. The shattered remains of four marble statues litter the ground. Archie discovers signs of a very recent battle here, possibly just yesterday. “No bodies,” someone notes. Jane inspects the shards of marble and imagines them whole – humanoids and elves in ancient druidic garb. “Stone golems,” Scar-Eater suggests. Beneath the torso of one of these fallen protectors, Riddle spots a swath of shattered green crystals. While not exactly the same as the ones used by the kenku to activate the portal, the party collects a few and then Riddle turns his locate object spell to the blue crystal.

The party follows the spell further on into the maze until they come to a murky pool. In a tangle of wood and water, an immense, sixty-foot-long tentacled plant floats lifelessly, another defender down. Jane enters the water and finds a bed of faintly glowing blue crystals, but also a pair of decomposed, skeletal remains. Among them, some robes, sword, scabbard and slippers seem completely unravaged by time, weather, or water. Jane returns to the surface with the crystals and these items.

From among a group of dead ropers, the party retrieves the third and final crystal.

Before teleporting back to Magepoint, the party indulges Tyrrell in his idea that he might disable the portal and trap those who went through earlier in the other plane. While the library might be lost, the knowledge gained there might not make it back to the Material Plane. Dealing with a major, ancient artifact, however, is, probably predictably, beyond Tyrrell’s level of expertise.

Reporting back to Tenser on what they found, the mage says it is time to wake the kenku captive, still unconscious from Jane’s spell. Agath and Celeste watch as well as the kenku struggles to consciousness. “My friends have some questions for you,” Tenser says. “You will answer them to the best of your ability.”

Krekke, the kenku rogue who lives in Greyhawk, seems to not know much at first, but as the questioning goes on she reveals enough to increase the party’s anxiety about the foes they are about to pursue. She knows that her companions were looking for the library and lost secrets. Her job was to get the portal to work and to stop anyone that tried to follow them through. She names the bearer of the Hand of Vecna as “ Darl”, reveals that the Faceless One shelters a living worm in his own neck and expresses disdain for the Cult of the Ebon Triad. “They must be destroyed because they are a blasphemy to Vecna. We all ‘keep the secret.’” She doesn’t know if or how they plan to return, but tries to scare the party with tales of what she has seen Darl do since obtaining the Hand. “He looked at a man and the man imploded.” Darl is apparently not only able to turn spells but is immune to them. She praises the Faceless One for his ability to summon monsters, sprout wards, open portals, and bring poison gas down faster than one can blink (not to mention the ray of clumsiness spewed by the worm in his neck).

She begins to get a bit mouthy about Vecna and Scar-Eater treats her to a merciless backhand. The only other useful information she has is that there was a repulsion field at the portal. It was alignment-based and immune to undead flesh; they needed Krekke to bypass the repulsion field to allow them through.

With the questioning over, Krekke is knocked unconscious and the party begins to contemplate their next move. To that end, Tenser provides the incense Riddle requires to commune. While Riddle and Jane devise a list of questions to ask, the rest of the group discusses Krekke’s fate: punishment, imprisonment, or some means of keeping her available as source of information for future use. After much debate, and with the issue still unresolved, Long Fist shocks the party by silently stepping forward and snapping the kenku’s neck.

Such an action from many of the others would surprise no one. But the summary execution of a helpless prisoner – regardless of the evil they may have done in the past – is an act strictly forbidden by Heironeous, god of Chivalry, Justice, and Honor. Long Fist winces as awareness of his impetuous deed crashes home and he feels the severing of his sacred connection to his divine patron. The Archpaladin’s judgment is immediate, and Long Fist realizes that he will have to mend that relationship as soon as possible.

The chorus of hollow voices that answer Riddle’s commune are vague on many of their responses and do little to ease the party’s worries about what may come. The Prophecy is being fulfilled, and may not be thwarted, but disrupting the Faceless One’s group could yield some positive future outcome. They do say that it is possible for the party to recover the lost secrets the enemy is seeking before them, but they cannot be clear about the enemy’s activities. Things are different there, they report.

Unsatisfied with the information from the commune spell, Riddle casts a divination, asking, “What can we do to have the best possible chance of success in going to the library and stopping the Faceless One and the Hand of Vecna?”

The rumbling voices reply:

”The race is on. Remain in this world and your opponent shall not return. Follow him and there is a chance you might succeed. Down that path lies the certain agony and possible destruction of your entire party. But down that path lies the possibility of a great victory. If you take the path, fight as though your very lives hang in the balance, for surely they do. Direct confrontation without preparation will bring your doom. Surprise confrontation, if necessary, is your only hope.”

And so it begins.

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Session Fifty-Three
In Which it's Their Party and They Will Scry if They Want To

Godsday, 10 Fireseek, CY 596

Upon arriving at his fortress, the party finds Tenser looking dubious and serious, accompanied by the always-serious Celeste. He wants to hear about the journey to Kuluth-Mar first, and when the party delivers their report he appears intrigued by the visions they all experienced periodically throughout their quest, especially the ones involving prophecy at the end. He notes that the last one was not the one of himself telling them the prophecy would be fulfilled, but the one about the Whispered One’s Hand and the Faceless Mage, implying, the great wizard suggests, that it is prophecy that is being fulfilled right now. The Hand of Vecna has been found.

While the party was in the jungle, Tenser was conducting research on Kyuss, Balakarde’s disappearance, and the Ebon Triad. On this last point he reports the disturbing discovery that this Cult may just be a front for the Cult of Kyuss. In all of his research, the name of Alhaster keeps appearing. Alhaster is the largest and most prosperous city of the Bandit Kingdoms, a collection of warring city-states located in the devastated region on the north side of the Nyr Dyv. It had been a completely lawless place until it was taken over by a fallen paladin named Prince Zeech and his fallen angel cronies, about eighteen years ago, and now it is a shining beacon of order, safety, cleanliness, and oppression. It is also the major port city for a large swath of land, controlling everything that goes in or Bandit Kingdoms. It is under constant attack, but the insane despot Zeech has many powerful allies, including, it is rumored, a black dragon (possibly Illthain).

Alhaster appears to also be the birthplace for the Cult of the Ebon Triad, home to a surprising number of the cult’s leaders. Celeste adds that her own research led her to Balakarde’s favorite Greyhawk libraries, where she found the lone copy of a book called A History of Alhaster, written by a cleric of St. Cuthbert named Rhorsk. It told of a cult of Hextor, believed to be the root of the Cult of the Ebon Triad, known for the use of the writhing dead, that was defeated by an elven noblewoman named Lashonna, one of Alhaster’s most powerful sorcerers. Somehow, the leaders of that cult escaped prosecution.

Celeste further reports that her research uncovered a sort of task list for Balakarde: talk to Lashonna, talk to Rhorsk, research more about Ebon Triad, etc. Tenser advises the party that Alhaster should be their next destination.

Most of the party seems poised to agree when Riddle says, “Hold a moment, please.” He goes on to explain that he feels as though the party is being led and wants to try to circumvent it. He is far more concerned with arresting the efforts of the Faceless One than with Alhaster at the moment. Tenser cannot find the bearer of the Hand of Vecna and suggests that Vecna himself may be shielding the enemy from his eyes. Jane offers to scry the Faceless One, though with little hope for success.

Using the mask from the Faceless One’s simulacrum and finding a convenient pool of water in Tenser’s fortress, the druid casts the spell. An outdoor location appears in the water, filthy, with torn ground strewn with rubble and rocks and faint patches of limp grass. The rain in the vision is nothing like the constant rain the party has lived with since the beginning, but a torrential downpour. Right in front of the vista of the scrying vision, as far as the eye can see in all directions, is an enormous wall of vapor and clouds, as if behind a sheet of glass. On the ground is a 10-foot-wide obsidian disk etched along the rim with druidic runes that Jane translates to read, ”Return my eyes to me and I shall gaze through the storm.” The Faceless One is there, with his green robes, leather mask, and iron studs. Beside him stands a towering humanoid clothed in flowing blue robes decorated with eyes along the trim. His face is protected from the wind and the party’s scry with a cowl. He carries a wicked-looking mace, crackling with frost, in one hand, and the other hand appears to be a twitching, rotting skeletal appendage with visible chunks of black and rotting flesh attached to it. These two fearsome figures stand before the disk, but atop this disk is one of much slighter frame – a purple-robed kenku, and in her hand, three crystals. She appears poised to place the crystals into three stylized eyes with shallow indentations along the circumference of the disk. Two others look on, lithe cloaked figures dressed in tightly wrapped silken scarves of red, with horned heads and fiery eyes identifying them as tieflings. Finally, off to one side, a surly, immense, twelve-foot-tall red-skinned humanoid whose flesh turns the rain to sizzling steam. The falchion on his back dances with flame and he is covered in bronze jewelry. “An efreet,” Scar-Eater whispers.

As the party watches, fascinated, the kenku places first one and then another crystal. Before she places the third, the blue-robed Hand of Vecna raises his mace and the entire groups steps onto the disk. The observing party holds their breath as the kenku cautiously places the third crystal – and there is a sudden blast of violet light! The Hand is blown completely out of the parameters of Jane’s spell and all others are driven back off the obsidian disk. The Faceless one follows the Hand, about eighty feet back where he landed amongst two more collapsed druidic stones. The Hand stands, heals himself, and both eye the kenku with an unspoken question. She shrugs and beckons them back to try again.

The kenku seems to take her time and make her placements with more care on the second effort, but upon final placement there is still a burst of that violet light. However, when it fades, she stands alone on the disk. The others have disappeared, and with their disappearance, Jane’s spell dies.

“They have left the plane,” Scar-Eater explains grimly.

The party engages in serious discussion, culling all they can from the details of the vision. Jane recognizes that obsidian is a material prized by druidic spellcasters throughout the ages for its use in epic-level casting to create massively powerful one-time effects, or milder effects intended to last for eternity. Tenser cannot identify the location but some discussion over the placement and age of the druidic stones keeps bringing Jane, Riddle, and Long Fist back to the legendary Order of the Storm, a name which Scar-Eater recognizes as being associated with a famous battle with Kyuss about fifteen centuries ago. While the Order is believed to have died out, Scar-Eater disagrees with that assessment. Tenser adds that there is a legend of a library connected to the Order, a repository dedicated to its lore, filled with thousands of years of history, memories, dreams, and secrets, and wherever this library was built, the Order supposedly drive some sort of bargain with primal elementary forces to whisk it off the material plane until the time came when it was needed.

Tenser offers the party a scroll of greater teleport, and after a brief period of preparation, the party is off and away in search of the obsidian disk.

Not surprisingly, the party manages to teleport right into an ambush of orcish pirates. Archie fires an opening salvo at the captain, who fires back with a devastating hit. Scar-Eater moves in for some of that action while Long Fist activates his aura of justice. Tyrrell cat’s graces himself up with a wand while Jane blasts the captain with an empowered flame strike. Long Fist and Archie take some damage in the pirates’ counter strike just before Riddle blasts all of them with lightning bolts.

Archie easily drops the captain on his next attack, and turns to focus on another poor orc. Scar-Eater knocks another off its feet and delivers a crushing deathblow while Long Fist and Hyaeliotrope gang up on another for some face-kicking. Jane shifts into her powerful Bast form and charges one while Tyrrell jockeys into a better position. Two of the remaining orcs charge Archie and two attack the big sudden tiger in their midst. Tyrrell manages to avoid being flanked but Long Fist is not so lucky as two crowd in on him and deliver a couple of mighty blows. Riddle sends his spiritual weapon into the fray and directs a few more lightning strikes as well.

Despite being plugged with arrow after arrow from the ranger’s bow, several orcs remain standing and open to the half-ogre attacks. Scar-Eater sends another to the ground with a scorching ray attack, giving several of his allies the chance to tear at the foe just as Tyrrell skewers another with a vicious strike. The great cat transforms into the towering Willow, who slams another orc into oblivion before turning on one of the only two left standing. One is dazed and the other chugs a potion when it has the chance, just before Riddle’s weapon smacks it upside the head, dazing it as well.

As the party looks over each other’s wounds and ties up the two dazed orcs, Riddle is suddenly stabbed by the heretofore unseen kenku! Riddle manages to stave off the poison from the kenku’s blade for the moment but the attack was devastating. As the party gains their footing to resume the battle, five versions of the kenku appear. Archie dispels one of them with a quick arrow, but Jane, quickly shifting back to human form, manages to catch the real thing with an empowered moon bolt, draining the kenku’s slight strength and knocking her unconscious.

No longer necessary to the party, they kill the remaining orc pirates and are free to investigate the site further. They examine the sarcophagus. Inside, wrapped in white robes, is Jane.

The sarcophagus cannot be opened. Scar-Eater notes two spell effects upon it, both wildly beyond his reckoning, one of abjuration, and one of necromancy.

While the rest of the party heals itself and gathers all of the pirates’ magical equipment, Jane transforms into a Athena and flies to the top of the tallest tree she can see. Transforming back, she uses the trees branches and leaves to lash herself amongst the foliage and against the storm, to bathe in the rain and the wind while she communes with nature. She sees the island they are on, in the center of the Nyr Dyv, and she understands that unnatural as the stormclouds are to their eyes, the natural world itself does not identify them that way. But nature can tell her nothing of her twin in the sarcophagus.

Scar-Eater suggests that when an outsider dies, their soul reforms from the material of the plane they are from, but since Jane is human and currently alive, the theory does not seem to apply. He can offer normal options from the arcana perspective as well – notably the most obvious, that someone or something has traveled through time at some point and before them is the evidence of the disturbance.

Jane examines the sarcophagus more closely herself. Even without touching it she can tell that the Jane in the coffin is dead, and perfectly preserved. And without question, her.

There is some discussion about trying to open the sarcophagus or take it with them but Jane objects, strongly, without quite knowing why.

Riddle casts locate object on the crystals from the vision that were used to activate the obsidian portal. He feels a pull towards their location – if the party is to pursue the Hand and the Faceless One to the lost library, the crystals will be key. With everything gathered, the party must decide their next move – return to Magepoint with their captive, or press on to find the crystals!

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Session Fifty-Two
In Which Jane and Tyrrell Watch This Awesome Movie Starring All of Their Friends and a Spellweaver Lich

Moonday, 9 Fireseek, CY 596

The surroundings waver and fade. The party sees the empty streets of Kuluth-Mar. Foul energy wells from the spire, sweeping outwards and claiming the living. There is a silent, potent wrongness as souls are drawn from corpses and absorbed into the black stone. A colossal humanoid figure made of worms takes form around the spire in a pose of triumph…that turns to rage as the figure shrinks, pulled into the stone in a horrific wet burst of implosion. All the bodies rise from death as the vision fades.

Once the party is healed up, Riddle dimension doors himself, Long Fist, Scar-Eater and Archie into the room beyond the locked door, with the spellweaver lich. For a moment all are disconcerted by the opulent, utterly alien chamber and the horrific horribleness of the lich himself. In the hallway, Tyrrell attempts to open the door he previously jammed shut to keep the spellweaver out of the previous battle.

In the room, the spellweaver raises its head, silently. It cocks its head at the four who just appeared in its midst. Perhaps judging them no serious threat, it returns to its reading.

Archie launches into combat with a volley of arrows that gets the enemy’s attention. Long Fist gives the party his aura of justice and slams the lich with his fists, bloodying the thing and sending its screams into all of their heads. The enemy lashes out and all struggle to fend off the bowel-loosening fear of its very presence, but that is only its opening gambit. It lashes out with a black ray on Long Fist that drains the half-ogre of his strength. It casts a second spell which Scar-Eater recognizes as a wall of force. Riddle dispels the ray of enfeeblement disabling Long Fist. His spiritual weapons cannot penetrate the wall. Tyrrell and Jane enter the room, just barely staving off the lich’s aura.

Archie, knowing his arrows cannot penetrate the wall, waits for an opportunity to act. Long Fist tries to charge the creature and to channel positive energy, but the wall prevents both. The lich drinks a potion while it’s safe. Scar-Eater takes a moment to gauge the position of the invisible barrier before dimension hopping behind it and turning invisible.

Following Scar-Eater’s clever lead, Riddle dimension hops himself, Long Fist and Archie behind the barrier and it’s only a matter of seconds before Archie, armed with the aura of justice and undead bane arrows, destroys the spellweaver lich.

The party quickly collects anything magical from the corpse and are just beginning to poke around the room when the shaking begins. They all feel a deep, thundering crack in the earth miles below and hear a thunderous roar from above. But for one final vision, it appears to be time to get out. They hear a hundred different voices, in a hundred different languages, whispering of the Age of Worms. They see manifestations of prophecy coming true as if they were gods. There is a horrific green light and the corpse of the spellweaver lich melts.

Riddle teleports the group in two trips to get them all to safety before all of the spire collapses upon them, and Tyrrell gets them all to Magepoint with the scroll of greater teleport.

Godsday, 10 Fireseek, CY 596

After a night’s rest, the party goes shopping and then acts like real grown-ups by storing over a thousand gold in the bank at Magepoint (along with the shards of the Staff of Life.) Then there is little left to do but report back to Tenser with all they have learned.

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Session Fifty-One
In Which the Party Learns How the Wormcallers Got Their Name...Kind of Obvious in Hindsight

Moonday, 9 Fireseek, CY 596

During Scar-Eater and Tyrrell’s watch, the party is attacked by three more Knights of Kyuss, who begin their attack by reducing Long Fist to uncontrollable tears. The first Knight manages to walk right into Tyrrell’s silvered sneak attack as it sunders the weeping half-ogre’s weapon. Some members of the party notice that the Knight’s shadow appears to be operating independently of the Knight itself. The second Knight actually becomes shadow when it draws fire from Archie. Archie takes one of the Knights out as Jane flame strikes the other two and pushes back one with a tidal surge. Riddle attacks the third Knight with his Staff of Life and Long Fist pulls himself together to weaken it with positive energy, but the Knight retaliates by sundering the Staff and attacking Riddle with its eye worms, causing serious damage to Riddle’s brain.

Archie takes out the third Knight, and the second manages to stagger Scar-Eater from the ground and eye-worm him for severe brain damage. Riddle surrounds the second Knight with a blade barrier that Long Fist forces it into. Scar-Eater dimension hops it in again to take it out.

Now invisible, Tyrrell investigates the large cavern that remains. It’s full of green worms, and there are two stone platforms with doors. Behind one pulses green light. Wormcallers crouch on either platform. Tyrrell tryies to sneak an invisible peek through the open door, but is struck by some invisible force that he cannot seem to defend against. When he returns to the party, he reeks somewhat of feces. He describes the room and the enemies within: the two wormcallers, the floor full of worms…and a spellweaver lich behind one of the doors. Awesome. The party formulates a plan to dimension door all but Archie and Jane onto the platform with the spellweaver door. Archie and Jane fly in separately. In the moment before the wormcaller is aware of what is happening, Archie pelts it with an arrow, Tyrrell sneak attacks it (twice, with Jane’s snake’s swiftness), Long Fist lays hands on it, and Scar-Eater finishes it off with a tripping scorching ray attack.

The other wormcaller retaliates with its own fiery column and sticks its hand into the water. Then a GIANT FREAKING OVERWORM COMES OUT OF THE WATER AND SWALLOWS JANE.

Archie finishes off the other wormcaller and still has enough shots to turn his attention to the overworm. Tyrrell jams the door keeping the spellweaver lich out of the fray and Jane transforms into Willow in an effort to stave off further damage from inside the worm. She needn’t worry, however, as Riddle manages to cast dimension door at a distance to teleport her out of the worm. The two of them are in a far hallway, though hardly out of danger. Long Fist cannot penetrate the worm’s thick skin with his spear, but Scar-Eater’s double scorching ray wreaks havoc with it, drawing its ire. The overworm bites and swallows Scar-Eater in revenge, but only until Riddle can rescue him as he rescued Jane a few moments earlier. The party relentlessly batters the worm with all they’ve got and soon overpowers it.

But there’s a still a spellweaver lich behind that door to deal with…

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Session Fifty
In Which Tyrrell Hit Thing Bad with Pokey Thing Good

Sunday, 8 Fireseek, CY 596 (continued)

Investigating the black marble fountain more closely, the party is able to see the water for what it really is – an endless stream of worms magicked to appear as crystal-clear water. So, disaster averted there, at least.

Tyrrell searches the room for traps or secret doors, but finds nothing, and the party decides to investigate another hallway. Leaving the group behind to utilize his ability to see in the dark, Long Fist moves ahead to get an idea of the layout of the area. Straight ahead is another hallway and a couple of corpses just at the edge of his sight. To his left is another hallway, shifting from worked stone to rough existing cavern walls. The rest of the group can hear, coming from that direction, a delicate sloshing sound like an ocean of goo gently lapping against a shore. Long Fist moves ahead to get a better look at the corpse hallway. Within the chamber ahead are the perfectly preserved corpses of 2,000-year-old Kuluth Mar citizens. The worms covering the floor stop at the edge of the room. Long Fist picks up one of the worms on the ground and throws it towards the chamber of the dead. When it hits the edge of the room it turns to mush and splats on the floor.

Obviously the next course of action is that Riddle uses control winds to sweep vast amounts of worms towards the chamber, and the party ends up with a nice huge lake of goo at the edge of the chamber to show for it. After three or four minutes, more worms come creeping around the corner from the un-searched hallway to the left.

The party examines the barrier and Scar-Eater determines there is a modified version of gentle repose on the chamber, which explains the preservation, but not the effect that the spell has on the living green worms. Jane suggests the corpses were being preserved for future necromantic experiments that never happened. Certainly the magic required for a room like this is beyond the party’s grasp at the moment.

Riddle suggests raising one of the dead with the Staff of Life for questioning, but Jane wonders whether it is moral to raise someone who died two thousand years ago just to answer their questions. Tyrrell wonders what they are going to do with this person once raised — are they then responsible for feeding and protecting them and won’t that be a bit of a problem down here? Riddle suggests they ask the questions first and decide what to do with them after, to which Jane strongly objects, arguing they do not have the right to decide whether someone they raise gets to keep living afterward or not. Won’t a simple speak with dead achieve the same purpose?

Riddle decides the question with an awkwardly-phrased divination that tells him that none of these innocent souls have the information about Kyuss that the party seeks.

Beyond this chamber is another exactly like it, except with a hallway leading off to the left. The hallway ends in a door, but before the door is another hall to the left, leading towards the goo-sloshing-sounding room. Tyrrell makes a couple of sloppy checks around the door, and hears some male muttering inside. It is in a language he can’t understand. Riddle moves forward to listen, and hears a voice saying, in the Abyssal tongue, “There must be a way…there must be a way…I must keep looking. There must be a way.”

The party brushes up on their knowledge of demons, who are known to speak Abyssal and prepares for a fight. Beyond the door is a massive nest, curved troughs through mounds of fabric. Within is a giant ten-foot-long segmented worm with a human head, crazy black hair, and an assortment of scrolls and books surrounding him. It makes no move to attack, so Riddle addresses the creature with a “Hello.”

“Welcome,” the thing replies. “Has the war been won?”

“Yes,” Riddle replies, and why not.

“I am still trapped here,” it notes.

Riddle says, “You didn’t finish and fulfill your part of the bargain, did you?”

The thing offers Riddle all of his books for one teleport to anywhere of his choosing that is not harmful to it. Riddle asks for a moment to confer with the rest of the party. They toss around several ideas, including a dismissal and teleporting it into the gentle repose chamber, but decide that Riddle will cast a heal spell into his hand and then touch the creature as if he was going to teleport it. When he tells the creature they will accept the bargain if he answers one question: is this his native plane? The creature replies that it is, but hesitates when Riddle says it must allow him to touch it for the teleport.

The worm blasts Riddle with a ray of negative energy and Riddle touches the creature with the heal spell which, sadly, actually heals it of any damage it might have had. No sooner does the rest of the party join the fight that Tyrrell is devastatingly feebleminded by the very look of the creature. It casts a spell and Archie releases a volley of arrows into it. Riddle touches the creature again in an effort to absorb some knowledge of it before teleporting to safety. Jane sends a column of water into it, pushing it against a wall, and Scar-Eater smashes it with a dispelling touch, causing it to lose the false life spell it placed on itself earlier. Long Fist charges it and deals some more damage to the now-bloodied worm.

Tyrrell, while feeble-minded, still knows stuff about friends and bad guys and flanky-flanks and sneaky-sneaks so he hits the thing he doesn’t like and makes it hurt real bad. The thing, however, is not feeble-minded, and quickly heals itself of all damage. It probably has a moment of smugness before Archie schmacks it back into bloodied territory in, like, less than a second. Riddle nails it with a blade barrier and Jane gives Scar-Eater an extra whap at it with his flail, and he follows that up with a scorching ray that pretty much sets it on fire to death.

Within the creature’s thing the party finds a manual of bodily health and a lot of ancient tomes on the religious and arcane studies of necromancy that are valuable in many ways.

Long Fist, feeling drained of resources, lobbies for another night’s rest, and the group retires to the gentle repose chamber for the night.

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Session Forty-Nine
In Which Two Impressive Battles are Fought in Quick Succession

Sunday, 8 Fireseek, CY 596

Rested and revitalized, the party ventures out of the dusty old library to the door opposite. Listening at the door Tyrrell hears what he can describe only as the gentle, unhurried beating of two enormous sets of wings, as well as a terrible faint roar of many tiny things rubbing up against each other that seems to come from the air itself. The party prepares themselves as best they can for whatever they might encounter within, and Tyrrell opens the door.

The walls of the room within writhe and glow green, and an array of instruments of torture populate the space, but there doesn’t immediately appear to be anything at which to fire.

Archie hears the faint beating of wings from the far corners of the room but before he can do anything with that information, a horrible, twisted, but clearly alive elven creature rushes from the corner of the room. Its eyes are tinged with madness, its ears misshapen and bent. It is armored in a fine ancient breastplate and carries an impressive greatsword. It summons a column of flame down on most of the party.

Long Fist sends Hyaeliotrope in to attack the creature but his celestial friend misses, so the half-ogre sweeps in himself and smites the awful creature with his fists. He catches the first glimpse of whatever is lurking near the ceiling – vaguely elven beings with charred, feathery wings and longswords for hands. One of these corrupted angels slams its two sword arms together and charges towards Long Fist as if it intends to actually pass through his body…which is in fact exactly what it does. Long Fist is killed instantly from the shock, and Hyaeliotrope disappears. Riddle is at the ready, however, using his alter fortune spell to give Long Fist another change to survive the attack, which he does. Riddle is staggered and Long Fist is left with a giant bloody hole right through him, but disaster, it seems, has been averted, and Hyaeliotrope is still around. The second corrupted angel immediately attempts the same attack, but misses. Long Fist is able to take a swing at the second offender, but fails to damage the awful creature.

Jane tries tossing a flaming sphere at the eladrin, but they have a resistance to fire and she barely damages it. Scar-Eater knows the creature on the ground was once a ghaele eladrin and they will need good cold iron weapons to overcome its defenses. It is also immune to electricity and has serviceable resistance to cold and fire, along with high spell resistance and other protections from good creatures and spells. The winged creatures were once sword archons which do exactly what the part has just witnessed. Scar-Eater moves into the room and is shaken by the eladrin’s aura of menace. Tyrrell moves in as well to flank the first angel and delivers a sturdy bleeding sneak attack. Riddle attempts to break enchantment on all three, but to no avail.

Archie moves into line of sight on the first angel and hits, but only the acid damage from his bow gets through. The eladrin responds but cutting Riddle, Jane, and Archie off from the others with a wall of stone. Inside, each angels smashes a glass wall, releasing swarms of green worms into the fray. They immediately envelop Long Fist, Hyaeliotrope, and Tyrrell. The worms’ poison drains Long Fist of his wits but Tyrrell manages to resist it.

Jane stone shapes a door into the wall of stone in time to see Scar Eater tumble into a flanking position on the eladrin with Long Fist. Scar-Eater pulls the eladrin to the ground and Long Fist goes to town on it. Tyrrell puts his evil eye on the eladrin as Riddle control winds the worm swarms away from the center of the room, plastering them against the walls.

Archie riddles the eladrin with arrows but it heals itself back to full strength immediately.

Long Fist activates his aura of justice on Tyrrell, Hyaeliotrope and Scar-Eater and attempts to smite the prone eladrin, but both he and his companion miss. The first angel tries to fly through Long Fist again but clumsily misses, while the second succeeds with Scar Eater, who summons all of his strength to survive the passage. Jane summons a stalagmite on the eladrin but it shrugs it off just in time for Scar-Eater to utterly destroy it. Tyrrell uses his smite attack on the first angel and wipes the floor with it. Riddle dismisses the remaining foe, and as soon as it pops out of existence, something happens.

The reality of the room itself wavers and fades, and all share a clear sense of looking through dimensions and through time itself. The room becomes a well-appointed torture chamber, and in the foreground appears k Kyuss himself, along with a six-armed insect-like creature the party identifies as a spellweaver (though this one appears to be of the lich variety). The alien lich presents jeweled gold box to Kyuss. Inside is a single green worm. Kyuss’ expression shifts from confusion to exultation.

Then of course, three vile, bloated worms with human heads slither out of the noxious chasm in the big room behind Riddle, Jane, and Archie. Archie hits one with an arrow and Jane flame strikes two of them, but all three blast Archie with negative energy, sapping the ranger of at least half his strength. Riddle summons a blade barrier around the pit. Tyrrell turns invisible and moves…somewhere. Long Fist delivers an awesome charging smite on one and, in addition to dealing a lot of damage, pushes it into Riddle’s blade barrier where it is ripped to pieces. Archie, terribly weakened by the first wave of attacks, moves into the room for safety as Jane unleashes a fire snake on the remaining worms, bloodying both. The worms retaliate, devastating Hyaeliotrope, wounding Jane severely, and blasting Long First with negative energy. Scar-Eater dimension hops one of the remaining worms into the blade barrier and Riddle graces everyone with the blessings of fervor. Tyrrell sneak attacks one of the remaining worms to death as Long Fist dismisses his celestial buddy. Jane transforms into Willow and charges the last worm into oblivion.

The party heals up and stows the eladrin’s +3 breastplate and +4 unholy greatsword into the haversack. They rest for the better part of an hour so Riddle can return to full form. Both Tyrrell and Athena fly up above the chasm to see if there are any alternatives up there, but there doesn’t appear to be. Riddle uses divination to help decide the next move. He is told that “there is more to be learned below, and powerful allies of your enemy to be destroyed.”
Riddle casts conviction on everyone, and everyone flies, one way or another, into the nauseating pit of rancid vapor. The walls are pockmarked with holes. Five hundred feet down, Long Fist stops everyone to warn them that below, the pit narrows into a ten-foot opening, and beneath, there is a perfectly flat surface of writhing green worms. Riddle casts fly on Athena so she can shift to Jane and put a flaming sphere through the opening. She destroys many with the spell but there appears to be no end to them. Riddle ties a rope around himself and gives the other end to Long Fist. He pokes his head through the opening to get an eye for the layout. The whole party passes through the hole, flying above the level of the floor, down a hallway to a door. Tyrrell listens, searches the door, and then opens it.

Beyond lies a chamber lined with the trappings of religious ceremony. There is a fountain of black marble and crystal water flowing into a pool. There are also three wormcallers.

Scar-Eater channels ray of exhaustion into his flail and moves towards the first one. He trips it, but its defenses are strong and he doesn’t do much damage. The wormcaller cannot be exhausted. The worm says to Scar-Eater, “You are thirsty. Drink.” But Scar-Eater does not drink. The second wormcaller says to Tyrrell, “You are thirsty. Drink.” But Tyrrell does not drink. The third wormcaller seriously insists that Tyrrell really is thirsty and he really should drink. But Tyrrell does not drink. The second and third uglies surround Scar-Eater. Tyrrell flanks the third and hits once.

Riddle casts disrupting weapon and moves into the room to release the spell into Scar-Eater’s flail. Long Fist flies in and channels positive energy on all three. Archie, back in full form now, kills the third and then the second in quick succession. Jane moves into the room just in time to see Scar-Eater disrupt the last wormcaller to dust.

View
Session Forty-Eight
In Which Riddle and Scar-Eater Get All Wrath of Khan on Things

Starday, 7 Fireseek, CY 596 (continued)

The party enters the ziggurat at Kuluth-Mar through the western door at the base. With Tyrrell searching the way path ahead, they move through a long rectangular chamber with walls carved to show the destruction of a city under the direction of Kyuss. Across from the entrance are double doors leading into a vast cavernous chamber, littered with pillars in various states of destruction, and with means of egress through all of the other walls. The floor in this chamber is dark green stone, and in the center of the room is a thirty-foot-wide pit that is the epicenter of devastation in this room. As Tyrrell draws nearer to the pit he feels an oppressive weight or presence of something dark and malevolent settling upon him. He moves away from the pit and that dark discomfort. Tyrrell reports that it looks like something on the floor exploded and ripped a whole downward, and that the pit extends further down than he can see. Across the way from the entrance of this eighty-foot chamber is another short hallway ending in a door, and there are sets of double doors on either side, surrounded by crumbling stairways. Tyrrell scouts out the ceiling, finding the slight indentation from the explosion. The stairs lead up hollow vertical stone shafts, but much higher than he can see.

Tyrrell returns to the ground and investigates the doors to the south. As soon as the party enters this chamber, which appears to have once been a library, they are embroiled in a fight. Five new horrific undead being challenge them, but Tyrrell charges in with a devastating blow against one of the larger skeletons in green-sheened plate mail and carrying a massive greatsword. As expected, it is writhing with worms. This is a Sword of Kyuss. The other creatures, Wormcallers, are stooped, lacking a lower jaw, and have giant wormholes instead of faces. All of them use negative energy as attacks, healing themselves in the process. The Wormcallers try to hold their enemies and the Swords of Kyuss have acid dripping from their blades. It is a tough battle that leaves their resources drained, but eventually the walking dead are put down.

After a long debate, the party decides to barricade themselves sin this library to rest and recharge before moving on.

The library is extremely well-stocked from almost two thousand years ago, mostly with all things related to necromancy. They find one book opened to a diagram showing a rune-covered worm inside a human head, whispering words directly into the brain.

Scar-Eater inspects the room’s most intriguing element, twelve jars filled with rune-covered worms, like in the diagram. After some study he concludes that these worms are literal receptacles on knowledge. If one allowed them to work their way through the ear and directly into the brain – and more importantly, if one survived the process! – one could gain whatever knowledge the worms had to offer. There are three each of four different kinds of worms.

Riddle does not hesitate. Though the process of ingesting the four worms wreaks havoc on his mental prowess, Tyrrell’s wand of restoration sets things right and Riddle is filled with new knowledge of arcana, religion, the planes, and history. Encouraged, Scar-Eater ingests the worms providing knowledge of arcana and the planes.

The group spends the rest of the day researching in the library. All of the information in the library seems to lead up to but not beyond the point where Kyuss transcended to godhood. It seems that in the final months of his mortality, the ongoing ravaging of the population stopped…right up until he organized every living creature into a gathering for some great announcement. The party concludes that it was this mass sacrifice that secured his ascendancy.

The party spends the rest of the day researching the various creatures of Kyuss and preparing to move on.

View
Session Forty-Seven
In Which Our Brave Heroes Alisulisjhaksjd.... dshlasdhhh.... buuuuuuuhhhhhh.... ggguuuuuuuuuu..... Look! A Bunny! Oh, I'm Sorry, That Was the Intelligence Drain, Not Me

Starday, 27 Fireseek, CY 596

The party looks down into the ruins of Kuluth-Mar, nestled in an immense bowl-shaped valley. Some of the buildings are only overgrown foundations. Some structures are more in tact, but everything is dwarfed by a giant ring of obsidian circling the heart of the city, thirty feet high. Within the ring, an ancient stone ziggurat climbs to a tall armed spire, broken at the apex.

Most disturbing is the air itself, which feels thin, and seems to waver between this and another reality. It is very disorienting, like looking through a veil into some other time, with traces of people moving through the streets. “It’s strongest at the peak,” Riddle notes, nodding towards the broken apex of the spire. He can almost see what was once there…a huge black, trapezoidal shape.

Jane transforms into the eagle Athena and soars over the city. The obsidian ring in the heart of the city is complete, and blazes with fiery runes on top that she cannot decipher. The interior is a large unbroken field to the ziggurat. Off in the distance to the east, yuan-ti have made themselves a home, and trolls to the west. The northern chunk of the city has sunk into water and various swamp creatures inhabit it. Everything living in the ruin, however, steers well clear of the heart of the them.

Riddle casts his scroll of wind wall on the party and they move closer to the obsidian ring. Scar-Eater reads the runes atop the wall:

KYUSS FOREVER BOUND

He detects an aura of overwhelming abjuration magic on the ring the party conjectures that the artifact was once used to imprison Kyuss in whatever was atop the spire at the time of his apotheosis. Scar-Eater assures them that it’s containment function won’t prevent them from passing over the ring, so that is what they do. There is a jarring moment as if they are passing from one perception of reality to another, a twisted vision of two times occupying the same time, past and present co-existing. The past is suffused with an oily taint and in it, a dark man in black sits upon a green stone throne, marked with the symbol of a skull and scythe for Nerull. Crowds chant his name over and over in a strange accent, “Kyuss! Kyuss! Kyuss!” The chants surge through and threaten to tear the very jungle apart, and the party glimpses they top of the spire, a fifty-foot trapezoidal monolith that seems to suck all light from the air around it.

As the double vision ends there is a ripple across the parade ground surrounding the ziggurat followed by a rumble and an otherworldly scream as a skeletal zombie with toothy worm maws in its hollow eye sockets emerges from an open doorway at the top of the ziggurat. Everyone lands on the ground except Jane, who prefers the strategic advantage on top of the obsidian ring. The skeletal zombie shouts a few more buffs and starts running down the stairs of the ziggurat as three godawful huge bloated beetle carcasses erupt from the ground beneath the party’s feet, a ground that they now see writhes with the familiar sluggish greens worms of Kyuss.

Jane blasts the closest beetles with an arc of lightning as Archie dashes out of the fray and focuses his bow on the running knight of Kyuss. Scar-Eater bashes a beetle with flail charged with shocking grasp, and the entire party is overcome by their chittering, hypnotic drone for a moment. Scar-Eater and Tyrrell succumb to the horrific sound and begin clawing their faces in agony. One of the beetles step up to Long Fist and ravages him with one nasty blow, and another chases after the archer to do the same. The others watch in shock as the two warriors survive attacks that seem more likely to have killed them outright. The third beetle misses the clawing Scar-Eater altogether. Long Fist summons his Celestial companion as Riddle channels a heal spell into his hand and moves towards one of the beetles, who manages to avoid him.

Jane sends a column of divine flame at the same two beetles she attacked before, hoping to finish at least one of them off and perhaps lessen their maddening cacophony. They are too hardy for her, however. Archie tries different kinds of arrows hoping to find one that manages to really hurt them, and his diligence pays off when he nails his attacker with a silver arrow. He is still cornered, however, and hurt, and a third of the party is reeling from the beetles’ drone. Scar-Eater manages to shrug off the effect but then Jane succumbs to it, and poor Tyrrell remains a clawing mess. After the beetles nearly kill Hyaeliotrope in one blow, Long Fist dismisses him and lays hands on himself, as well as casting another spell that allows him to move through battlefield towards the descending skeleton without drawing the attacks of the beetles. Riddle gets his healing hand on one of the beetles and it explodes.

The Kyuss Knight finally reaches the ground as Jane claws at her face and Archie finishes off the last two beetles with his silver arrows. Scar-Eater blasts the skeleton with an enfeebling ray and Tyrrell draws the lightning sword. Long Fist charges up to the skeleton with everything he can muster but his swing falls short and he misses. Riddle throws a ring of blades around the lone enemy, who steps through it anyway. It swings its black blade at Long Fist and cuts him down in a flash of pure evil, continuing to hack at the body even after it’s down. Riddle closes Long Fist’s wounds, but the skeleton sends one of the worms out of its eye sockets to plunge into the half-ogre’s skull and eat part of his brain.

Jane calls upon an enormous column of water towards the skeleton in an effort to push it back from her allies but it is too strong. Archie pelts it with arrow after arrow and Scar-Eater, forgetting that it had cast a protection from fire spell upon itself earlier, strikes it with three scorching rays that have zero effect. Riddle barrels towards Long Fist and the skeleton takes the opportunity to attack him with another eye-worm for some damage and brain-devouring, but Riddle does manage to cast breath of life on Long Fist before the Knight attacks him again. Jane summons a sudden stalagmite to hold the Knight to the ground where Archie can finish him off with a few more shots.

Tyrrell’s wand of restoration heals Long Fist and Riddle of the intelligence-draining wounds of the eye-worms, and between Riddle and Jane the party gets back up to full strength. Long Fist reports that these Eviscerator Beetles are the least of the rumored Hounds of Kyuss, a group that also include 35-foot-long “Earth Cancer” centipedes that exude an aura that makes the earth erupt around them, proving that indeed, stone shape can be used as a weapon in certain circumstances.

The party debates over how to enter the monastery so Riddle casts divination and asks, “What is the best way to enter the ziggurat to gain information (and live) about what Balakarde discovered?”

The Vaati chorus replies, “Visit the spire, but enter from below.”

When they follow the advice and climb the ziggurat stairs they see the doorway there is packed with rubble, making an entrance this way impossible. However, as they approach the base of the spire, reality twists again and they are subject to the vision of an enormous red dragon swooping down and snatching the obsidian trapezoid from the top of the spire and flying off with it to the northeast…in the direction of the Great Rift Canyon. Before flying however, however, they catch a glimpse of the writhing figure inside, a face, made of five-foot-thich worms, a terrible, terrible face. “ Dragotha,” Scar-Eater says, referring to the dragon, not the face. It is clear to all who belongs to that face.

Before heading into the ziggurat from below the party indentifies the Kyuss Knight’s +1 unholy bastard sword, +2 heavy steel shield, and +2 full plate armor. Scar-Eater claims the shield and Long Fist puts everything else into the Handy Haversack.

View
Session Forty-Six
In Which the Intrepid Band of Infitics Moves On, and Meets a Legend

Freeday, 28 Sunsebb, CY 595.

The party spends the day in Diamond Lake, preparing for the Needfest Festival.

Needfest, CY 595

Starday, 1 Needfest, CY 595

The party spends the day celebrating in Diamond Lake.

Sunday, 2 Needfest – Moonday, 3 Needfest, CY 595

The party journeys, uneventfully, to Magepoint.

Godsday, 4 Needfest, CY 595

Coming on to sunset, amidst a gentle rain, the party arrives in Magepoint, a village cradled by gentle hills and full green trees. There is a sense of peace and ease with a buzzing undercurrent of activity and prosperity. The party notes a rocky island about half a mile to the north in the Nyr Dyv, on which sits a pale blue castle surrounding a tower. There is a causeway from the shore to the castle. Tyrrell expresses interest in a beverage, and the entire group heads to the Inn of the All-Seeing Eye, an extremely well-appointed establishment of solid stone construction.

Inside, an elven woman dressed in black appears to be the sole occupant of the place. She welcomes the party, and when Tyrrell asks for an ale, she says that she believes their beverages are waiting for them. She excuses herself to a private room for a moment, and then returns to usher us inside. Celeste is there, along with two other familiar faces, one the restored Marzena Brevyns, and the other, Eligos Manzorian, back from the dead. Marzena embraces the party, spilling her thanks all over them. “Consider them a gift,” she tells them when they attempt to return the items to her that she gave them long ago. “I owe you more than my life,” she says. “I owe you all that I have yet to do in this world, and that is a debt I do not feel lightly. But tell me, how is Allustan?” She has been in Magepoint since Eligos sent her there.

Speaking of Eligos…it seems he was raised by Tenser’s ally, a mage named Agath, after Celeste brought his body to Magepoint, and he has relocated here for the time being. “Tenser has been expecting you and arranged for you to stay here at the Inn. He is in Sigil at the moment but expected back soon. Do not try to enter his castle,” he warns. “It is heavily protected.”

“Who killed you?” Archie asks the mage.

“An assassin from Raknian,” he replies. “I was…overconfident.”

The mages inform the party of the excellent shopping opportunities available in Magepoint. Also the fault line in Magepoint enhances arcane magic. The Library Temple next door, dedicated to a pantheon of Lawful Deities, is available for research and open all night. Celeste suggests they will likely lower the fee to a reasonable level for their weeklong passes.

Before the party disperses for the evening, Celeste reveals that she is not an elven woman but an Eladrin, with millennia behind her and a great deal of power and experience. Scar-Eater casts ray of frost on his beer and is overcome with a tingling sensation. He feels he could empower, enlarge, or extend any spell just by taking slightly longer to cast it.

As they leave the room, Riddle requests a private meeting with Celeste. “I will call on you,” she says. The party retires to their rooms.

Waterday, 5 Needfest and Earthday, 6 Needfest, CY 595

The party occupies themselves with shopping and research. Research revolves around Lashanna, Kyuss, the Vaati, Spellweavers, the Talisman of the Sphere, the Chaos War, the name “Daughter of the Storm”, Visciannix, and the Rift and the Spire.

Freeday, 7 Needfest, CY 595

The shopping and research continues into the end of the festival week, and that evening, Long Fist hosts a small celebration around midnight. The party gathers in a private room around a fire. Long Fist lights six candles and pours mulled wine. He speaks to the others about this time of year in his youth, and of his shame over the ambush and assassination of Lordren several days earlier. He asks, as a gift on his birthday, for the others to explain to him why it is that they fight.

Scar-Eater replies by referring to Lordren as a “sack of ‘tatoes.”

Jane says that she fights for the natural world, but that she fights with them because they are her friends. Tyrrell says that he trusts us and that we share common enemies. Riddle professes that he doesn’t want the world to end, but what keeps him with them is love. They are his family and he would sacrifice himself for any of them. He has many doubts about his power, where it comes from, what the Vaati want (if it even comes from them), but he is comforted by them turning from him when he chooses something they do not like. “Your heart is so big,” he tells Long Fist, “but we are at war. I will not mourn Lordren. If it disrupts our enemies for any time, I will not mourn his loss an instant.”

Lastly, Long Fist turns to Archie for the final explanation. The young ranger says softly, “I was raised by soldiers, and my life is duty. I go where the fight is. But I’m also trained as a ranger. You hunt from cover,” he says, his voice cold and clear. “I respect your religious beliefs, however, I won’t let your honor threaten the lives of the people in this party or the lives of the people of the realm.”

Fireseek CY 596

Starday, 1 Fireseek

A new year dawns with an invitation from Tenser to the Fortress of Unknown Depths. The party is anxious for a closer inspection of Tenser’s home. The Fortress is far from ostentatious, but clearly an establishment of awesome power. There is a tingle in the air. Guards in white enameled plate mail lead the party through a beautiful open tower into a small study, generously adorned with hyper-realistic paintings and furnished with several overstuffed chairs and a massive antique wooden desk at the far end, cluttered with many things including an expensive dragonchess set.

The wizard himself is quite a normal-looking man of about sixty, slight of frame but in good health. His hair is gray and his nose aquiline, and he wears blue robes inscribed with his personal sigil, the scimitar. A middle-aged human man with a long, severe face and black hair stands behind him wearing a black robe of twinkling stars.

“Welcome to my palace, I am Tenser,” the older wizard says. “This is my associate, Agath. I understand you are here to seek my aid, or question me on some matters? How can I assist you?”

Tenser is already aware of the party’s activities in Diamond Lake and at the arena in Greyhawk, and he is also aware that they are carrying something that draws the eyes of creatures far more powerful than they are. “Is it your wish to safeguard this item?” he asks.

Tyrrell and Jane are quick to reply in the affirmative, and Riddle hands the case containing the Rod of Law to Tenser. “The pitfiend and his minions will not rest. The Rod is a beacon,” he notes, opening the case, “and the last thing you need is more eyes upon you.” He tells them that Visciannix already has four pieces of the Rod and that Tenser is engaged with certain others in an effort to disrupt the Visciannix’s activities. Tenser claims that he can protect our piece; in exchange for the opportunity to study it, he will safeguard it in his vault. “I understand the risks,” he says. “In fact I welcome them.”

No one in the party objects, and Tyrrell rather embarrassingly asks what trinkets he might have for us. Tenser doles out his gifts to each member of the party. Tyrrell receives the starlight chain shirt of gleaming mithril that will not only enhance his stealth, but once per day protect its wearer from the jaws of death. Jane is granted the crown of the wilds, woven of thorny branches and brambles and ever-blossoming flowers, which opens her senses further to the interconnectedness of life, earth, wind and sea. Scar-Eater is bequeathed a flail of dull black cold iron with vampiric enhancements, named Soulcrusher. Tenser gives Long Fist the moonstone bracers of platinum and jagged, uncut gems, infusing the sentinel with lunar energies that enhance his constitution and make him more difficult to clearly perceive. Riddle is given a tome of understanding and the lightning belt to enhance both his wisdom and reflexes. Finally, Archie is gifted a remarkable bow called Greenfang, carved from a single 6-foot-long tooth from the maw of Chartriss, and fiendish great wyrm green dragon that terrorized the Rakers for centuries before he was recently slain.

Afterwards, Tenser changes the subject to that of the Fourteen Prophecies, which he has been studying and which are presently unknown to the party. They are a curiosity, special – no matter where they surface, they do not change, nor have they evolved or been changed by fanatics…but even more interesting, in the last twenty years, many of the predictions have actually proven true. Moreover, he believes one of them refers to the party – and this very moment in time – specifically:

- The Red Scourge shall sweep the lands, slaying both the Worthy and Unworthy. (The Red Plague; 20 years ago)

- The Black Blade shall Fall to Earth once more. (Aknarmatala; 11 years ago)
- The City in the Mountain of Fire shall suffer ruin from Beneath. (four years ago, through the actions of the Cult of the Ebon Triad, a major devastation)
- The Black Heart shall be Read. (The Tome of the Black Heart; three years ago)
- The Worm-Eaten Dead shall rise and stalk the Hills of the Fallen. (two years ago)
- The Black Eye shall Open. (“The Obsidian Eye”; one year ago)
- The Bindings shall be torn from Time as the Forge is Relit. (The Dread Forge/two artifacts resurfacing; six months ago)
- A Hero of the Pit shall use his fame to gift a City to the Dead. (Raknian, the Champions Games, the Ulgurstasa; last month)
- The Rod of the Duke shall reappear amidst the Seven Corners of Reality. (Last month)
- The Fourteen shall be revealed unto the Six. (The Fourteen Prophecies and the Six Party members; this very moment)
- The Whispered One’s Hand and the Faceless Mage shall seek that which has been Forgotten. (?)
- The Banished Storm shall be Reborn. (?)
- A Tripartite Spirit shall become one, and by it shall the Mighty be Undone. (?)
- On the Eve of the Age of Worms, the Fallen Hero shall summon the Wormlord to the Dark Temple. (?)

Tenser tells the party of his friend, Balakarde, who made the study of Kyuss his life’s work. Two years earlier, Balakarde teleported to Kuluth-Mar (the city ruled by Kyuss as a mortal), despite warnings from Tenser against it. He returned with a wild look in his eye, having discovered something that sent him on a mad trek to the Great Rift Canyon in the north. He has since vanished without a word. Balakarde is about fifty years of age with longish hair. He is always dressed very well and is famed for his skill as a duelist.

Riddle asks Tenser about the Vaati and also gives the arch wizard a piece of the Faceless One’s simulacrum to scry.

At this point, the party must choose their next destination: do they follow the path that presumably led Balakarde to the Rift where he disappeared, or head straight there? After much deliberation, the party decides to retrace the man’s steps, and head to Kuluth-Mar.

Tenser gives the party a couple of scrolls of greater teleport and tells them they can reach Kuluth-Mar through a painting in his study.

Sunday, 2 Fireseek – Freeday, 6 Fireseek, CY 596

Riddle studies his Tome of Understanding.

Starday, 7 Fireseek, CY 596

The party returns to Tenser’s study, where the painting of Kuluth-Mar affords Tyrrell proper study of their destination. Using one of the scrolls of greater teleport, the rogue brings the entire group to the jungle remains of the once–great city. Ahead lies an ancient black stone ziggurat and a towering spire of stone with an apex of blasted ruin.

View
Session Forty-Five
In Which it is Demonstrated That We Are, After All, Still Children

Waterday, 26 Sunsebb, CY 595 (continued)

The party orders some lead carrying apparatus for the Rod and any future Parts that might fall into their possession and intends to stick around Diamond Lake until they are ready, and to make sure that Allustan is firmly established before they take off again.

Earthday, 27 Sunsebb CY 595

The party separates for the day. Long Fist sets up aid stations in the temple of Heironeous. Jane visits the Bronzewood Lodge and the Old Observatory. Tyrrell keeps his eyes and ears on the streets to find out what might be going on in the underbelly of Diamond Lake’s reconstruction. Archie and Scar-Eater help out at the Garrison.

Towards nightfall, when all are headed back to the garrison courtyard for the evening, Archie and Scar-Eater are both suddenly struck with a foreboding sense of something in the air that isn’t right. Looking through the drizzle it seems as if there are fast—moving little pockets of raindrops being deflected off of things that aren’t there. Both of them shout out warnings as two dozen three-foot-tall red-skinned devils with long, spiky tails bampf into existence in the courtyard, along with one of the barbed devils who escaped from the fight in Icosiol’s tomb. The barbed devil addresses Allustan, “The townsfolk need not die. A contract can be made, if you agree to hand over the Rod.”

From all directions, the missing party members hear the commotion and start running as Archie, Scar-Eater and Allustan try to save as many townsfolk as possible. Riddle is the first to arrive and promptly unleashes a gust of wind strong enough to blast all of the tiny imps into the center of the courtyard and give the townsfolk a chance to disperse. Some are injured, but the damage is insignificant to what it could have been without Riddle’s spell.

With the imps mostly neutralized, the barbed devil becomes the focus of the party’s attentions. He grapples Riddle and attempts to crush him as Long Fist arrives in the courtyard and unleashes Hyaeliotrope from his celestial playground. Riddle escapes the devil’s grasp by using his new ring to turn into a sixty-foot shaft of lightning. Jane arrives in time to stalagmite the thing again but doesn’t manage to pin him to the ground this time. Long Fist turns his focus to a poisoned townsperson. The barbed devil continues to pursue Riddle relentlessly, making sure Riddle knows the servants of Visciannix will never stop and that it is mere days before the pitfiend attends to the matter himself. Tyrrell delivers a strong blow with the Lightning Sword just before Scar-Eater trips and knocks out the barbed devil. Riddle is quick to dimensionally anchor and stabilize it for questioning, but all soon agree it would be safer to question it from beyond the grave. Long Fist sees to the poisoned townsfolk and Riddle sends an urgent message to the blacksmith to make the lead-lined rod cases a priority.

Then onto the devil-questioning. The party learns that Visciannix has been tracking them using a crystal ball (not, as they guessed, by using the second-to-last piece of the Rod); the pitfiend’s plans for the Rod include wresting it from Riddle’s dead, lifeless hands; the pitfiend is vulnerable to holy weapons and spells and that another pitfiend named Cyrilax, also in service to Asmodeus, holds some sway over Visciannix; Visciannix is in Hell; Visciannix’s patience with his hounds is wearing thin and he will soon come to recover the Rod himself; and that if the party chose to give the Rod to Cyrilax, their petty squabbles would be set aside in service to Asmodeus.

Allustan suggests that Tenser’s fortress would be a safe place for the piece of the Rod that the party already possesses, and that solidifies the party’s plan to leave for Magepoint first thing in the morning, with one of the lead-lined cases that can be ready by then.

In the meantime, there is still an entire evening to muck about with the normal course of events.

The party heads to the town proper to deal with the ghost of Jierian Weirus. He’s still spouting off about the sky opening and such, continuing his ghostly, stately march around the ruins of the church of St. Cuthbert. Riddle uses locate object to find his non-ghostly scourge, but the party decides to just try talking him into going away before attempting to destroy him.

Upon seeing Tyrrell he pronounces, “You will unlock the past. You will spread knowledge to every corner of the world.” What’s wrong with knowledge? People should be educated. “You will destroy the world.” That’s not so comforting. “You will feast with the vampire,” he tells Tyrrell, but does not elaborate on the menu. And right there is the trouble with prophecy: too many variables.

Riddle continues to question him about how we can help him rest. He claims a new Age is dawning but that he will not be there to see it. Riddle offers to carry Weirus’ scourge to the dawning of the new Age. “Take me to the library,” he says. “Take me to the spire. Take me to the Rift. Take me.”

He lays down his ghostly scourge and it disappears, and then he sinks into the stone of the church. The party recovers the actual scourge from the ruins of the church, and then does something that seems like a really, really good idea. At the time.

With a couple of hours to spare before bed, Jane scrys Lordren, Dourstone’s former mine manager who sold the party out ot Loris Raknian. The spell is overwhelmingly successful and the image reflected back in the clear water is of a man roughly in his forties with a sour face and dull black greasy hair. He is dressed in plate mail and wears a holy symbol of Hextor. He is sitting in a well-appointed room of some kind of mansion, looking down on a city clustered on cliffs over a natural harbor. The city itself is a montage of architectural styles, predominantly black towers and buildings dotted with golden-domed temples and pagodas. There is a vast network of docks below with hundreds of ships lashed in against a coming storm. It is everyone’s best guess that the body of water is the Nyr Dyv, and the city is Alhaster.

Riddle suggests that the party teleport to Lordren’s location and take care of him. There is a great deal of discussion, but in the end, everyone agrees. Jane loans Riddle her prayer beads so he can take the whole group in one go, and the entire party prepares for the assault.

When they appear in the well-appointed room, both Jane and Archie hold their actions for Long Fist to take the lead. The half-ogre blasts out his aura of justice, swiftly activates it on the enemy, and hits the unsuspecting bastard hard enough to knock him to another world. After a moment of stunned silence in which everyone privately contemplates What Just Happened, Long Fist picks up the body and Riddle takes everyone back to Diamond Lake.

Despite the various personal reactions to this action and all the possible consequences of it, Riddle questions the corpse. He apparently served someone named Mistress Lashanna, who dwells in Old Alhaster, overlooking the Harbor. He doesn’t know much about her plans and associates except that the Faceless One is an acolyte of Vecna (the “Whispering Tyrant”). The party gathers Lordren’s things and Long Fist goes off by himself for awhile, and all told, the 27th of Sunsebb ends on a rather ambiguous note.

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