The Age of Worms

Session Sixty-Eight

In Which We Get What We Came For

Starday, 13 Reaping, CY 601

Using his favorite control winds spell, Riddle collects all of the marilith’s abandoned coin and gems together for easy retrieval by Tyrrell’s unseen servant.

Tyrrell listens at the big closed door, picking up on a low, male voice muttering to himself. Clearly the pitched battle outside his door was not interesting enough to rouse him, so the party surmises this is Vercinabex, the frost giant sorcerer, behind the door. As Tyrrell investigates the stairs down, Jane sends insect spies under the door into the frost giant’s room. According to them, Vercinabex is alone within the 60-foot-square room, holding an icy blue staff. Seeing no need to disturb him, she withdraws the insects spies and waits for the reconnaissance from Tyrrell.

At the bottom of the next set of stairs, Tyrrell is first struck by the giant keyhole in the room down there, and the desiccated giant corpses like giant liches. They don’t appear to be statues or animated dead, just some sort of fleshy construct. He flicks a coin behind one of them, but it elicits no response. He returns to the party so they can all go down the stairs together, under the slight protection of a mass owl’s wisdom from Jane, and with a wall of ectoplasm behind them in case Vercinabex decides to look into all the noise after all. Long Claw uses his ring of invisibility and Riddle casts blessings of fervor upon the group.

The moment Tyrrell crosses the threshold of the room below, the two giant corpses, known as “ raams”, animate and stare at the party. Riddle holds up one of the keys to the Vault and announces, “We have been given the keys to open the vault.”

The raams look at the doors, and Riddle continues, “Move aside.”

They do not. It seems to Riddle that they are saying, Do as you will.

Tyrrell takes the other key and the entire party moves towards the doors. They all feel their incredibly powerful auras of conjuration, abjuration, divination, and necromancy, beyond anything any of them have ever felt or imagined. On the left hand door, they see the image of hundreds of stone giants locked into combat with hundreds of worms. On the right hand door, there is an image of the Order of the Storm, standing on the edge of the sea facing a horde of oncoming monster. Jane experiences a dizzying moment as she recognizes herself illustrated upon the door. Written in Druidic, Jane reads:

“In requiem:

That which would corrupt
The natural order
Of life and death

Is Evil.

Evil must be fought
At any costs,
This is the wisdom of the Order,
Accepted too late.

Balance is a myth,
The great lie
Told to nourish
The forces of darkness
And pardon
Those who should stand,

And fight.

The Order fought,
Sometimes well,
Sometimes foolishly.
Twice, regrettably.
But the Order fought.

We lived.
And now we die
All creatures
In all of creation,
Great and small,
Deserve no less.

We sisters, three, pray this day.
We pray for the coming of our Daughter.
For her strength
And her sacrifice.

But we stand proud
Knowing that
Our souls were already saved
Before her sacrifice.
We saw the light of truth.
We hid not.

We lived.

And now we,
Like our Order,
Die.

Know, you that stand here,
This cradle was sealed
To save a world.

This cradle,
If opened,
Will unleash
The end of an Age.

There is no Treasure here,
This is only a Burden:
A Burden too great to carry.
Do what you must,
If you can,
While you can,
But know that
If you cross this threshold,

Darkness follows.

May you be strong enough to fight it.

To enter the cradle,
Do honor to the Order
And speak their names:
Four who gave their flesh;
Three who gave their minds;
Two who gave their hearts;
And one, the greatest of us all,
Who led the way
And showed us
The light.”

Jane proceeds to name the four, the three, the two, and the one, members of the Order all, and there is a sudden blast of energy coming from the door. They all feel as though a great weight has been lifted from their psyche…even as they hear the roar of dozens of dragons arage in the distance. When the keys are inserted, the raams attack.

Riddle blasts one of them with a heal spell as Tyrrell turns invisible to sneak attack the other, and with both of their fear auras exploding into full effect, the first slams Riddle right back, draining his strength and causing him to collapse. The other one swings at Tyrrell twice and misses. Jane summons an empowered fire snake through both of them and heals Riddle as Long Claw blasts them both with positive energy. Archie drops one of them and Scar-Eater the other.

With the raams dispatched, Riddle and Tyrrell hurry to open the vault doors and reveal a massive chamber carved out of the stone of a stalagmite. Before them stands a dragon statue bearing the ruby red phylactery within. The party enters the room, with Long Claw flying into the shadowy ceiling above, and the sounds of distant explosions are heard.

Scar-Eater tells the others that both the phylactery and the dragon’s rib cage are radiating magic, but he can only identify a weak aura of transmutation on the ribs. As the party approaches the statue and all reach out to embrace phylactery, Long Claw—the only one whose bare flesh (or in this case talons) is touching it—screams as it attacks his very psyche with visions of madness and rage. Riddle casts alter fortune, staggering himself to give Long Claw a second chance to resist the invasion, which he does, and then Riddle attempts to teleport the entire party away while they clutch the phylactery, but the spell fails.

Then Brazzemal the Burning transmutes rock to mud and tears away the wall to this now-defenseless chamber.

Jane summons an extra surge of power and hits Brazzemal with a finger of death spell, which he resists but first blood is still drawn. Archie’s dragonbane arrows all seem to ping off of something invisible, and the dragon retaliates by showering the entire party twice: first with his frightful presence (to which Jane succumbs, until Riddle alters fortune), and then with a blast of flame (which then knocks Jane prone). The party is now submerged in lava. Scar-Eater takes a fair bit of burning damage before he can get off the platform, but manages to dispel some of Brazzemal’s protections with a dispelling touch through his flail before turning invisible. Long Claw also takes lava damage and attempts to pull Riddle and Tyrrell to safety, but he draws an attack from the dragon which kills him—until Riddle again alters fortune and causes the dragon to have missed the griffon in the first place. Long Claw invokes his aura of justice again and all focus its granted ire on Brazzemal. Tyrrell buffs himself and draws his lightning sword and Riddle attempts to curse the dragon, but it is too powerful.

Jane shifts into her fire elemental form, moves, and designates Brazzemal as the target of her smite. Archie burns as he retreats from the lava, and he goes about methodically dispelling figment after figment of the mirror image, and the dragon targets Scar-Eater with some kind of spell meant to drive the duskblade permanently insane. Scar-Eater resists, and then goes about dispelling more images until they are gone, and then something else that he could not identify. Long Claw lays hands on both himself and Riddle, restoring Riddle from the effects of his time-warping spell. Tyrrell takes flight, hoping to catch the dragon by surprise, while simultaneously staying clear of its reach. Riddle casts a spell to protect himself, Long Claw and Archie from fire and then blast Brazzemal with a cold ice strike, but the dragon seems unfazed.

Safe from the flames, Jane reverts back to her human form and casts umbral strike on Brazzemal, getting at least a little bit of damage through its protections, and then Archie strikes it with arrow after arrow after arrow. They figure something must be getting through because Brazzemal uses his next turn to heal himself. It isn’t enough, though, to withstand Scar-Eater’s multiple enervated strikes, and from there it is only a matter of keeping the party alive until Archie can send another volley of arrows at it in its weakened state.

With Brazzemal defeated there is still the matter of the anti-teleportation effect to deal with, because retreating from this place with the phylactery is not an option. Archie manages to get some skin and two rings from Brazzemal’s body and Jane manages to dampen the effect with a greater dispel magic long enough for Riddle to teleport the party back to Magepoint.

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