The Nightmare War

Episode 12

Wherein the Party Braves the Spheres of Korrandar

The party teleports to the Shroud Bubble near Tashalatora in Adar, and hustle the distance to Tashalatora to drop off their mind-seeded charges. While the party secures someone to take them to the person who will be able to help remove the mind-seeds, Shemhazai seeks out the head of Tashalatora and relays the information that Chanaakar, the Speaker of the Word, has tasked her to attune to the Shroud Resonator. They grudgingly allow her to do so, although it is obvious they are unhappy about allowing an outsider – an elan outsider, yet – access to the Resonator.

After Shemhazai attunes to Tashalatora’s Resonator (which does take a few hours), the party then teleports to a Shroud Bubble near Kasshta Keep, utilizing the coordinates that were provided by Chanaakar. (Rayne and Heartless elect to stay in Tashalatora to help with the defense.) The Speaker of the Word meets the group and tells them that the Storm Guardians want Shemhazai to attune to Kasshta Keep’s Resonator crystal, and then meet with them at Mount Korrandar. The party is taken aback, as the only individual alive who has ever spoken with the Storm Guardians has been Chanaakar himself – and he had taken it upon himself to attempt Mount Korrandar, not been invited. Shemhazai asks if he knows why the Storm Guardians have taken an interest in the group; he does not, and seems just as stunned by the order.

Shem immediately heads further into the Keep to attune to the Resonator, feeling the press of time and conscious of the threat of invasion by Riedra and the order of the Storm Guardians. Proust and Muroni meet with Drakeus and bring him up to date on events. Drakeus, however, drops a bomb – while the party has been in Riedra, he received a message from Vaslo. Cannith South has been raided and disbanded by the government of Breland, on account of a violation of the Treaty of Thronehold. Apparently, they found out about Merrix’s Creation Forge (that had been order dismantled shortly after his death by Vaslo and Drakeus). In fact, Drakeus pointedly looks at Proust and demands, “What have you told Breland?”.

This sparks a fairly long conversation between Drakeus and Proust (as Muroni was trying to stay out of the crossfire and RaE was elsewhere) about truth, trust and loyalty within the party. Finally, Proust convinces Drakeus that they would be better served discussing the topic once they whole party is present and when there is not a timeline.

When Shemhazai finishes attuning to the Resonator crystal, she seeks out the rest of the party and is treated to a badly condensed version of the conversation that leaves her somewhat baffled, and much short of information. She does agree that the group as a whole needs to discuss this topic in depth later – when they have more time.

Shem heads off to say goodbye to Chanaakar while Drakeus seeks out RaE. The group meets outside, in the Shroud Bubble, and teleport to a Bubble at the base of Korrandar in a lush valley – a rarity in sparse Adar, but an event that is made possible by a Manifest Zone to Lamannia. The group locates a faint trail heading up the mountain and begins to climb.

After climbing for a time, they rest for a few hours on the trail and continue on. After several hours of climbing, the group comes to a passage into the mountain. Inside, there a large cavern with two tunnels leading off. There is a large, non-House dragonmark high on the wall directly opposite the entrance. Proust explains that it is a land dragonmark. He examines it closely and another passage opens, the stone walls peeled back by earth elementals to reveal another passage.

As the group travels down the passage, Proust determines that earth elementals are prevalent in the mountain – they seem to be bound into the walls. He makes the rather dry remark to the group not to bother to try to tunnel through the walls… it would likely go badly.

The group comes to another large chamber. This one contains an incredibly large black dragon skull… far bigger than any dragon currently alive. As the last party member enters the chamber, the passage closes behind them, and the skull’s eye sockets flash red, illuminating the chamber ominously for a moment. As the light fades, a vampiric red dragon attacks the group.

Perhaps bolstered by their experience of fighting undead by the epic battle with the Storm Queen a few months ago, the party is able to defeat the vampiric red before too long. As the dragon falls, its body vanishes and a corridor leading out of the chamber opens. Proust considers legends he has heard, and determines that the skull is the representation of the dragon god Falazure.

He also mentions (somewhat acidly) that this is what is so frustrating about dragons – they invite you somewhere, and then make you go through a series of tests before you can talk to them. The party moves down the new corridor from the Test of Death to the next chamber. Set in the center of this chamber is a pool shaped like a sun and swirling with purple energy. Eight golden statues of noble and winged kobolds (an appearance that causes snickers from several party members) pour violet streams into the pool, and something sparkles deep within. Drakeus and Proust confer and recognize the pool as a symbol of Astilabor, the Hoard Mistress. The party members all donate gold and/or magic items to the pool as a contribution. After a moment, a large book appears, floating in the air above the pool but within reach. As Proust reaches out and grasps the book, a passageway leading out of the chamber opens. Proust examines the book, and determines that it is a Tome of Leadership and Influence. The party continues deeper into the Spheres, leaving the Test of Wealth behind.

In the next chamber, beneath a black ceiling etched with a silver seven-pointed star, the skeleton of a couatl is reverently coiled in a funerary basin, polished bones and bright feathers showing through ornaments of gold and precious stone. Proust and Drakeus put their heads together and determine that this is likely a chamber dedicated to the dragon goddess Tamara. A brief search of the room locates a scroll of Raise Planar Creature, which Muroni uses to raise the couatl.

The couatl is grateful to the group, and warns them of the final test – the Test of Power, where the party will face an Aspect of the dark lady Tiamat. He also mentions the Teeth of the Three – ancient artifacts of incredible power, which lay after the last test, deep within the mountain. The Storm Guardians await beyond the chamber of the Three. He gives the party his well wishes on the future tests, and departs.

The group exits the Test of Life and moves along the new corridor that had opened. This passageway opens into a volcanic shaft with lava at the bottom and a wide spire of red, glistening rock rising up through the center of the chamber. A narrow trail leads around the outside of the room to a ledge on the far side of the shaft. A few party members spot another, higher exit from the cavern, partially hidden behind the spire. Proust also notices roughly carved symbols of Garyx, the draconic All-Destroyer, around the cavern.

The party debates which exit to take, and Proust offers to scout. He flies into the room, utilizing his shadowy dragon wings. The moment he enters the room, however, the lava bubbles and begins to rapidly rise, as if the volcano is starting to erupt. The party elects to dimension door to the higher, partially hidden and angled upward exit from the room, while Proust traverses the chamber. It is apparent the party has chosen the correct passage out of the chamber as they leave the test of the Firelord behind.

In the next chamber, a magic longsword stands in the center of the room, balanced on a tiny platinum needle and flanked by stone dragons. They animate, focusing on Proust, declaring his activity in double-blind operations for Breland during the Last War, and demand that he justify and defend his actions. Going around the party, one at a time, they call out each person’s misdeeds – Drakeus’ participation in the creation of warforged, a race of slaves; Muroni’s interference in the Prophecy; Shemhazai’s murders and assassinations; and RaE’s divided loyalties.

Each of the party members defends themselves, with help of the other party members, and the representatives of Lendys finally agree. They grant purification from misdeeds on each party member, and the group passes on from the Test of Justice.

In the next chamber, the ghost of a very old copper dragon slumbers upon a huge golden book in the center of the room. She awakes, and blinks at the group. “I suppose you are here to bore me to death… again.” Drakeus offers to tell her a tale (an offer from the taciturn artificer that somewhat surprises his companions), and she signs and states somewhat wistfully that she would like a good tale. Drakeus tells a story that elicits a chuckle, and thanks. With that, the ghost vanishes. Proust examines the book, and determines that it is a symbol of the dragon god Hlal.

The book also grants knowledge of how to bypass the next test – the Test of Fate, Chronepsis’ chamber – and go directly from the Test of Tales to the Test of the North Wind, Bahamut’s chamber.

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Taria

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