The Nightmare War

Elementals and Dragons and Giants, Oh My!

As Proust goes to command the astral elemental to take us to the Astral plane, he discovers an unexpected resistance.

You are not who found me, you are not who released me, you are not who re-bound me. Why should I serve you?

Proust commands the astral elemental to take the ship into the Astral plane. The elemental explains that in order to do so, there will be a price to pay. Proust responds that we were on a little bit of a time limitation, so he would pay the price.

The silvery, vaporous elemental silently explodes outward from the binding rings, rippling and expanding, forming a shimmering bubble that surrounds the ship. The ship shudders and vanishes from the dry docks of Kintam Coluun, pulling Proust’s lifeforce and mental ability to hold together during the transition.

As the ship manifests into the astral, there is a commotion heard from below decks, and a voice calls out, “My Lady, by the Nine and Six and One, what are you doing? This ship isn’t ready for regular travel yet, let alone travel between the planes of existence. This ship is still untested! It could break apart! The elemental bindings still haven’t been fully secured and tested! The strut configurations still need to be tuned! The crystal sheathings are merely in the prototype stage! This is a highly dangerous act that could set us back months of work!!!” The voice gets stronger as the individual it belongs to gets closer to the main deck. In a few moments, out pops a middle-aged male gnome wearing artificer’s gear. He looks as if he’s going to go on another rant, then realizes that he’s no longer speaking with Vial’vithkari.

“Umm… who are you and what are you doing with The Manifest Dream?...”

Proust, still reeling from the mental damage inflicted by the elemental, glances at the gnome, then looks over at Shemhazai. “Can you do something about locking down the ship and getting in touch with Drakeus?” he drawls.

She shrugs. “Sure, once this spell wears off.” She glances over at the sputtering gnome. “We’re the new owners.”

“Who are you?” Proust asks.

“I am Ciddalskordin Runewright, the Chief Engineer assigned to this prototype vessal by The Triumvirate in Zilargo. Most humans call me Cid.”

RaE detects a false note in Cid’s explanation of why he was on board the ship, and mentions that he was leaving something out. Proust and RaE both push Cid, who offers to tell them anything they want to know about the ship. He babbles on incessantly about the magical and technological marvels of the ship until Proust tells him to shut up, and that a party member would be joining the group shortly who would be more than happy to hear all about it.

As the antimagic field wears off Shem, she manifests divert teleport on the ship and prepares to contact Drakeus.

Meanwhile, Drakeus is pulled through the rift, spinning and tumbling through a chaotic mess of colors and shapes. He concentrates, managing to steady himself and create a bubble of breathable air. Getting his bearings, he thinks he is in Kythri. Thinking back, he thinks he had seen an out of place flash of silver as he was pulled through the rift; glancing around, there is a large silver sphere hovering behind him. He thinks that it is an Aoa, a creature normally from the Ethereal or Astral Plane that absorbs and eats magic. Not wanting to cast planeshift with it there, and knowing that they often follow and hang around spellcasters, he instead concentrates and forms a rock bubble around himself to close himself off from the Aoa. The Aoa tries to squeeze in, but Drakeus manages to hedge it out.

Once completely enclosed by rock, he planeshifts back to the Prime Material, then teleports to the Thronegate Ruins. Shemhazai’s correspond reaches him there; Proust (via Shem) asks Drakeus to get another scroll of teleport, then join us on the ship, as it needs to be locked down. Drakeus tracks down Vaslo and gets another scroll, then joins the party on the ship.

As Drakeus is getting ready to dimension lock the ship, Shem asks just how long they were planning on staying in the astral… wouldn’t it make more sense for us to return to the prime? Proust points out that someone else would have to command the elemental, as the effort would probably kill him. The party discusses what actually can be done; apparently, according to Cid, the ship should not have survived the trip to the astral. The “elemental” that is bound to the first ring actually is not an “elemental” as such; no one knows exactly what it is. The Inspired found it bound beneath Kintam Coluun and apparently elected to bind it to the ship. The damage it did Proust was apparently the only way it could shift without ripping the ship apart.

Cid says that it will take a week, a week and a half to finish the binding ring to the point where we could safely use it. Unfortunately, hanging around the astral for a week and a half isn’t something that the party really wants to do.

Shemhazai sighs. “The most expedient thing to do would be to just have one of us suck up the damage and shift back to the prime. Drakeus can heal us afterward.”

Proust looks at her. “Well, I guess that would be you, then.” He glances at where he has a death grip on the wheel. “While we are waiting for the gnomes to work on the ship, why don’t you remove the dominate on the elementals so I can let go?”

Shemhazai, Cid and the gnome engineers go belowdecks to the crystals and remove the dominates on the elementals (Shem fails badly, and the gnomes take over). Shem manifests dominate on the fire and air elementals, but the astral beast makes the save.

Proust gives Shemhazai a brief overview of how to command the elemental of an airship (“Speak firmly! Don’t Bargain!”), and she takes the wheel.

Ah, someone new… You are not who found me, you are not who released me, you are not who re-bound me. Why should I serve you?

Shem commands the astral beast to take the ship back to the prime material, to a location over the ocean near Xen’drik. It says that the ship is too fragile… it will be damaged by the transfer, unless it takes life force to protect the ship. Shem asks if it will be comparable to what it took from Proust; the astral beast says that it should be… depending upon her capabilities.

At that point, Quori Shemhazai speaks up mentally to Shem. We can bind it… force it to our will.

How about we try that when we aren’t stuck in the astral, and when we won’t run the risk of being stranded here? Unless you have another way of getting the ship back to Eberron? If I’m going to be taking the damage in order to protect the ship either way, I would prefer not to experiment just yet. We can try that later.

Quori Shemhazai reluctantly agrees to wait until later, and Shem commands the astral beast to take the ship back to Eberron, accepting the damage. The ship shudders, and transports back to the ocean, “landing” above the ocean with a small jolt.

Shem lets go of the wheel and takes stock of herself physically and mentally, discovering that her mental abilities are undamaged. “Well. That wasn’t as bad as expected.” Mentally, she hears, That… was unpleasant. She pauses, and then says out loud, “Hmm. Unexpected benefit.”

She touches the wheel again. “That wasn’t as bad as what you took from Proust.” The astral beast replies after a moment. You… are not alone. Shem shrugs. “Unfortunately.” Letting go of the wheel, she asks Drakeus to cast restoration on her for the damage to her endurance and constitution; Quori Shemhazai, she figures, can take care of himself.

It turns out that the party has landed several days away from their target – unsurprisingly. During the several day trip, the gnome corps of engineers work on the ship, and the party relaxes for a time.

Proust decides to find out a little more about the astral beast. He starts with a legend lore, but doesn’t get much information… so he takes the direct route and asks it. He discovers:

  • The creature is an astral dragon.
  • He was bound beneath Kintum Coluun by the humans of the area around 2,000 years ago; at that time, all the nations in that area were at war.
  • He is one of the last of his kind.
  • Although he is not entirely happy about being bound to the airship, he considers it at least better than being bound beneath Kintum Coluun.
  • There is something – a binding from when he was originally bound – that is preventing him from being truly free.

While Proust chats with the dragon, Shem takes a little time to ask Shira about the “familiar presence” that she had sensed in the dry docks are. Shira says that she wasn’t sure which of the three, of the mage and the two psiforged, had it, but one of them had a docket component that contained a presence that she knew. It was the quori who created the docket program. She said that he was the greatest scientific and psionic mind of their time. It was thought that he would have entered the program, but it would have been after her time. Shem asked if it would be possible for a host to force the quori in the docket to act against their will; Shira said that it was possible, either if the host was strong-willed enough or through magical means. She mentioned that it was rather disturbing to think that he might be working – willingly or unwillingly – for the Inspired.

As we get closer to Xen’drik, we sight the coast (and Stormreach), and curve to keep our distance and avoid the city. However, the astral dragon mentions that there is a giant watching us from the shore. It appears to be an eldritch giant, and is wearing a holy symbol of the Sovereign Host. He also appears to be waiting for the ship… or something, at least.

Proust stops the ship so Drakeus can take his Ironwyrm Golem in to talk to him. Once Drakeus gets to within roughly 50’, the giant hails him.

“Greetings. I have been waiting for you.”

Drakeus halts the golem and hovers. “Greetings. Waiting for us? Rather surprising, actually.”

The giant inclines his head. “The gods have been sending me visions. I am known as Kaldore.”

Kaldore stated that he had been waiting for the party, and the ship with three rings. He thought that it was best that he tell the party some lore of his people that they might find useful in the days ahead.

“Once there was a man whose love for life was so great, he took two wives. His wives bore him a great many children, thirteen in number. Now both wives were beautiful in their own fashion, but the second wife was terribly jealous of the first and often argued and fought with her, causing the husband to come between them. This caused the children much distress, but none so much as the thirteenth, who could not bear to see her parents fight.”

“And so, the thirteenth child ran away from home, to seek solace from the conflict that she despised so much. Alone and confused she wandered for many years, her emotions always ruling her. In time, she grew wild and feral, truly a nightmare to behold. One day she happened upon a hunter traveling through the area she claimed as her own. Without any regard as to why he might be there, she savagely attacked him and beat him back. As she was about to land the killing blow, the hunter called out to her and asked if she was the thirteenth child of two wives that had gone missing many years ago. If so, her father had sent him to let her know that he was dying. He loved his family so much that he could not go on if even one of its members was missing. She hesitated, unsure of what to do. Would she kill him and go on her way as she had been, or would she return to her family and its life of conflict?”

There is discussion about the giant’s parable, and possible meanings behind the number 13 in the parable and who the hunter might be.

Proust asks if there was any other reason for the meeting besides a little storytelling session. Kaldore mentions that he had heard of an unusual giant named Prokres. He warns us to be wary of him; he is very powerful, and has varied allies as well as bound lower-planar creatures. Prokres is reputedly assembling a very powerful artifact. Proust casually asks, “Yes, I had heard of that. Do you happen to know how far along he is on that?” Kaldore says that he does not, but if he happened to meet us again, and had the information, he would be willing to pass it along at that time. “Purely academic interest, you see,” Proust shrugs with a winning smile. “Purely academic, is it?” Kaldore glances at Proust. “I see”.

There is a bit more verbal sparring, with Proust carefully not admitting that we were after the item ourselves. Drakeus sighs, and outright says that we, the party, were planning to do something about Prokres. Kaldore says that he and Prokres differ in opinion, and Kaldore would be willing to provide us with any information that might help, should he run across it.

Proust asks Kaldore if he had ever heard of the Destiny Arms; they might be needed soon for their original use. Kaldore replies that one of his fellow clerics of Balinor had recently passed away; he knew she had died violently, as he had received a very unsettling dream in which her spirit cried out to him. Eskelia was the last known keeper of one of the Destiny Arms, the one known as the Maul of the Glacial Heights. She lived in the EverIce, and led a tribe of peaceful frost giants. The Maul was a sacred trust, and was used only on ceremonial occasions. Kaldore had been in contact with her from time to time, and could provide directions to her village. (Proust does get directions.)

“Take this.” Kaldore gives Drakeus his holy symbol. “When you have dealt with Prokres and found out what happened to Eskelia, please return it.”

Proust takes his leave and ports back to the ship. Kaldore turns to Drakeus. “If you can take care of this for me, I would appreciate it.” Drakeus agrees. After a short prayer and pleasantries, Drakeus flies his Ironwyrm Golem back to the ship and the party continues on to Thronehold.

As soon we fly the ship into Thronehold, we start getting an audience from fascinated artificers that we have to shoo away from the ship. We decide to take a short layover here, and repaint the name to be “The Stolen Destiny”, and to spend some time making the private sanctum to disguise the ship. We also discover that the ship has crystal chambers that Cid mentions were created as “chambers for planar guests”.

Proust also brings up the idea of raising Vial and convincing her to join our cause. He proposes bringing her around – ‘redeeming’ her – and hopefully finding out what she knows. It would require a resurrection, then immediately dropping an antimagic field on her, knock her unconscious, curse her, and geas her – basically, rendering her defenseless. The plan is for Proust to change her viewpoint and outlook on life to align more closely with the party’s (actually, his, but the party doesn’t necessarily know that), and hopefully gain her cooperation. She was a high-ranking member of the Dreaming Dark, and would have a lot of information that would be useful to the party. The party discusses, and Proust gets everyone’s agreement, provided we can take reasonable precautions to prevent her from being re-possessed by Quori Vial.

A plan is devised wherein the party will commandeer a room in Thronehold and prepare. The plan of action is that Drakeus will create a scroll of antimagic field, which he will give to Proust. Drakeus will cast resurrect on Vial’vithkari, with Proust standing by to cast antimagic field the second she regains consciousness. RaE will prepare to grapple and subdue her, while Shem and Inq standby to take action as needed.

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The Liberation of The Stolen Destiny
On the Proper Technique of Ripping Dimensional Rifts in the Fabric of Reality

As Shemhazai finishes concentrating on the disintegrate, her passenger mentions that it sounds like the enemy are mindlinked, and he asks if she would like to listen in. Shem considers, and decides that it might be useful; he says that he will manifest that, then.

Inq, still taking advantage of his greater invisibility, slips across the ship and positions himself to strike simultaneously at three Inspired – one of which seems to be a captain, who is armored in expensive sentira armor and wielding one of the double-bladed Inspired weapons known as a zulaat. Inq’s attack is exceedingly successful, spraying blood across the deck from his three targets.

The captain responds by attempting to eradicate invisibility, but Inq manages to dodge. However, the captain is still aware of Inq’s approximate location, due to his attack, and manages to pierce the illusion through sheer will and concentration. He prepares to swing his zulaat, when Proust leaps into action, moving impossibly fast to grab Inq and drag him back and out of the way, so the zulaat almost misses… but the captain manages to recover in the last minute, adjusting the swing so that it still hits Inq as he is pulled out of the way – but Inq is out of the way for the follow up attacks.

Drakeus moves up to cast several protections on Inq, while Proust reaches over, grabs the wheel, and fiery sparks bloom out from him to cover most of the ship. Shemhazai concentrates on the captain, bombarding him with dispel psionics and then a cold ray. Quori Shemhazai taps into the enemy mindlink; Shem overhears the captain giving orders to another Inspired to grab a magical rod from his belt and activate it; she gets a sense that it has something to do with consuming magic. Shem informs Proust, Drakeus, RaE and Inq that someone will be going for it, and to not allow them to use it. She isn’t sure what it does, just something about draining magic… but she doesn’t quite have a chance to convey that.

Shira mentions over the party’s mindlink that she feels the familiar presence again, getting closer. Hard upon her mental words, Lord Baalnakhun, flanked by two oddly constructed warforged embedded with crystals enters the dry docks. He mentally bellows, “What’s going on here?!?”, and points at Shemhazai. Proust shouts, “He’s casting dispel!”. Shemhazai looks back at Lord Baalnakhun, shouts “Hey, I can do that too!” and points at him, manifesting anticipatory strike and beginning to dispel. Unfortunately, Lord Baalnakhun has the same Psionic power, and manifests it, acting before Shemhazai. Instead of dispel, however, he elects for antimagic ray, and hits her dead on where she is hovering above the stone walkway.

Shemhazai, taken by surprise, plummets the 20 feet to the elevated walkway, only managing to tumble at the last moment to prevent being injured other than a few bruises; however, she does land off balance and falls prone. Laying there, she quickly reviews her options, realized that she doesn’t have any, and shouts “You f—-ing bastard.” Lord Baalnakhun glances over with contempt, says “Good, one problem taken care of. You there,” he waves a hand at the Edgewalkers on the walkway, “take care of that.” He turns his attention toward the ship.

Meanwhile, Proust sees the Inspired that Shem had warned them about start to move toward the captain, and springs into action unexpectedly (again). He points at the Inspired. “If you use that, or let anyone else use that, I will take that rod and shove it so far up your a—that the term ‘sprouting wood’ will have a whole new meaning.” The Inspired hesitates, and believes Proust’s threat… so does most everyone else in hearing, for that matter. He takes the rod and backs off, preventing others from using it.

Inq opens up against several of the Inspired and Edgewalkers near him, taking out seven of them in short order (including the soulknife with the mystery rod) with his mindblades both melee and thrown. RaE moves forward and kicks the (supposed) magic-eating rod to Inq, then opens up on the captain. RaE kills the captain in a flurry of blows and a spray of blood; covered in gore, RaE glares around the ship with her blades ready. The Edgewalkers start backing away, and Proust shouts orders, telling the gnomes to prepare to cast off, while he sends the warriors to attack Lord Baalnakhun.

Drakeus casts a wall of force separating Lord Baalnakhun and his psiforged bodyguards from both the ship and where Shemhazai is on the walkway. Unfortunately, the two psiforged have the ability to run up walls, and use the ability to run up the wall of force and tumble down the other side. One charges Shemhazai, attacking with a crystal blade built into his arm. The other moves toward the gangplank and the ship.

Proust grasps the wheel with both hands and overrides Vial’s last command to the elemental. Fire suddenly erupts from the elemental band as the elemental flares up. Shem rolls to her feet, taking a few hits from those surrounding her, but manages to get to her feet and activate her psychoactive skin of fiendish embrace. Two blood-red horns appear on her forehead, and large, batlike red wings from her back. She takes off and flies to the ship, landing near where RaE and Inq have taken cover.

Lord Baalnakhun levitates upward to get over Drakeus’ wall of force and starts casting chain dispel. Proust, deciding that he doesn’t want to deal with that, acts out of turn again to raise the wall of force in front of Lord Baalnakun, breaking his line of effect to the party. Irritated, Baalnakun disjoins the area, destroying both walls of force. Meanwhile, the few remaining enemies on board the ship attempt to attack the party; unfortunately, they fail badly. The enemies cowed by RaE and Proust follow Proust’s last command to restrain Lord Baalnakhun, while the gnomes follow the command to make ready to leave.

Inq, taking advantage of a clear shot to Lord Baalnakhun, pops up and utilizes the ballista conveniently handy, scoring a solid, although unfortunately not fatal, hit.

Quori Shemhazai is aghast at the insanity. Shem ignores his ranting, finding it quite amusing, as does the rest of the party.

Lord Baalnakhun looks distinctly annoyed at the ballista chip out of his stoneskin. It’s probably not a good sign, since he hasn’t shown much emotion up to this point.

While RaE starts cleaning up the ship, Drakeus casts a lance of light at Lord Baalnakhun; it turns by a protection that Baalnakhun has in place and hurtles back toward Drakeus… and is immediately turned back by one of Drakeus’ protections. The bouncing of the spell sets up a feedback loop; rifts begin to tear open in the very fabric of reality, and in a flash of light and sound both Drakeus and Lord Baalnakhun vanish.

Alarms begin to ring throughout the dock cavern, and indeed all of Kintum Coluun. A female voice mentally rings through the minds of all in the cavern; “Dimension rift detected in Dock Area A3.”

Proust brings up the astral elemental that is tied to the ship just as the largest rift yet opens over the dock, leaking bone-chilling cold and a dark, dank shadowy light. Shem yells that it is likely a portal to Mabar or the Plane of Shadow; probably the Plane of Shadow (the group having had personal experience with that Plane). Individuals on the dock begin screaming as something comes through the rift; Proust recognizes a spellwarped, silver wraith frostwind virago, a very nasty undead fey, that emerges onto the dock.

The astral elemental finishes coming online on the secondary ring. Proust glances back at the commotion on the dock where the virago has exited the rift, and commands the astral elemental to “Take us somewhere!”. The silvery, vaporous elemental silently explodes outward from the binding rings, rippling and expanding, forming a shimmering bubble that surrounds the ship; then there is a flash and the ship and its passengers… vanish.

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Raid on Kintam Coluun
The Destruction of Vial’vithkari... For Now.

We also learn that Lord Baalnakhun is the Head of Research currently at Kintam Coluun. Quori Shemhazai mentions that he is a Lorekeeper, and one of Shemhazai’s old students. He had “some skill” at planar magics, and “dabbled” in arcane magics as well.

Proust contacts other plane – The Devourer – and asks:

1. What is the most significant obstacle on our raid by sea on Kintam Coluun? Crystal coral golems and phrenic scyllans. (Proust knows that scyllans are fiends; they can produce a wailing noise that is unsettling to nearby creatures; they can control water, are resistant to spells and need magic and silver to damage. (Proust gets a 42 on his knowledge check.) Crystal coral golems have typical golem traits (immunity to magic and psionics, DR adamantite). They also have the ability to dispel magic/psionics and if they hit you they possibly can stun you.)

2. Is there another threat that you think we should prepare for? Yes.

3. What? The Denizens of the Fortress.

4. Do they have any magical wards on the underwater approach? Yes.

5. Of what nature? Detection, abjuration.

6. Which abjuration is the most dangerous to us? Imprisonment.

7. Are there mechanical traps, or would that be too gauche? Yes, there are mechanical traps.

8. What is the 2nd most dangerous spell? Disjunction.

9. What is the 3rd most dangerous spell? Guards and wards.

Proust calls Ehécatl, the couatl to buff the party the day before. Then, we buff up, throw on an invisibility sphere and nondetection, and swim in, heading toward the gate past the crystal coral golems and scyllans.

However, when we are sneaking with invisibility and zone of silence, Rae accidentally gets some seaweed caught on her, kicking up a cloud of dust, and draws the attention of one of the scyllans. Thinking quickly, Proust casts a silent image of a giant crab burrowing into the sea floor. We all hold very still until it loses interest. RaE manages to disentangle herself and we move forward again… until she manages to get herself caught again and draws the attention of another. Proust instantly conjures the vision of another crab. Eventually it settles down again, Drakeus casts a buff to help RaE’sand we get to the gate.

Shem, Inq, and Drakeus cluster at the gate to disable the traps. We manage to get the imprisonment, greater dispel magic, disjunction, alarm, arcane lock, divert teleport, true seeing without too much problem. We can’t get the guards and wards, as it is not centered here.

We wiggle through the gate, trying not to be noticed. Unfortunately, we are noticed by one of the scyllans. Thinking quickly, Inq uses silent image to disguise the rust that got scraped off, while Proust uses the same spell to animate a fish being grabbed by the imprisonment spell. We manage to wiggle our way in without any more mishaps.

We get further into the caverns, and discover a dock where a crew is making a stormship ready to sail. There appears to be dry docks further into the cavern. Inq finds an unobtrusive place to leave the water, prestidigitation dries, and flies straight up to get a better view of the cavern, utilizing greater invisibility. He notices several other stormships on the docks. There are a lot of humans, which are probably Inspired, and a high percentage of shifters (they have a large presence in the Edgewalkers).

Inq spots an airship that is under construction off in the direction of the dry docks. It does seem to match the description of “our” airship. There are several gnomes currently working on the ship, and it seems like it is very close to being completed. With Inq directing us, we get as close as possible via water, and then find a discreet place to leave the water, dry ourselves off with prestidigitation, and fly over to the ship (keeping ourselves within our formation of invisibility and silence).

As we pass the stormship and move further into the cavern, RaE mentions that Shira is sensing a familiar presence from deeper into the Citadel. Shem asks her passenger if he notices anything; he responds that he does not, but he is intrigued by the comment.

Unfortunately, as we get closer to the ship, Vial’vithkari notices all of us except Proust; his spell causes her to become damaged and blinded, and Inq attacks her, injuring her badly. She dispels the area she last saw us in, missing everyone but Proust; she dispels his puzzlebox, which means he is visible to everyone with True Seeing (which includes an archer in the crow’s nest).

RaE charges the archer, who had noticed us, while Drakeus casts a spell damaging Vial’vithkari. Proust, who had asked Shem to wait a moment until he could act, concentrates for a moment. Those near to him might notice that there was a flicker of dark flames around his fingertips just before he told Shemhazai to go ahead with the disintegrate. Shemhazai then fires a green ray at Vial’vithkari – reducing her to a small pile of grey dust.

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Placeholder2

This is a placeholder for missing posts.

From this point forward, updates should be more regular, as I am now typing them directly at the session, as opposed to hand-writing them and then trying to find time to type and post them – something that obviously hasn’t been working so far.

Taria, scribe.

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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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Episode 10
Wherein Our Heroes Learn the Details of the Deal with the Sea Devils at the Straits

After departing Merrix's presence, the group prepares to depart. Drakeus retires to his suite to make ready for the journey to the Titan's Teeth and the sahuagin, while Zylah, Proust, and Shemhazai scatter to take care of their own preparations.

Shemhazai first sends a message to her contacts, requesting information on Vial, giving her description and the name that Vaslo has told them she went by, and begins searching for information on that subject herself. Shemhazai's contact reaches her as she is finally leaving, heading for Overlook, and gives her what information he was able to discover, which is unfortunately little: 'Vial' is short for 'Vial'vithkari', and she is a high-ranking member of The Dreaming Dark. He acts very nervous, and says he has to go. She thanks him, and wishes him well, hoping she hasn't caused more trouble than the information was worth.

She then visits the Enlightened Havakhad, requesting a few moments of his time, should he be able to spare them. Over tea and a light lunch, Shemhazai tells briefly of the journey in Xen'dric, and touches upon the dream spire. She leaves mention of Vial and their group out, deciding that she doesn't wish to drag her mentor any further into dangerous matters than he already is. Shemhazai comes to the point of her visit – the breaking of the cage that was not meant to be shattered, and the result. He had not before heard of such of thing, of an Elan becoming what she has, but stated that he would think upon it. He also gives her a message – that Selkatori has a message for Shemhazai that is regarding the person that she was searching for. Shemhazai thanks him, and respectively takes her leave.

On her way back to the dock area, where she was to meet the rest of the party in a short time, Shemhazai stops by Selkatori's martial arts studio, and waits patiently while Selkatori finishes the class she was currently leading. Selkatori has an ancient tale to tell: The quori Vial'vithkari, it is said, is the twin to a renegade quori called Val'vakri who fled with the other renegade quori to Eberron many, many years ago. These renegades merged with the Adaran humans who eventually became the kalashtar. In old kalashtar folklore, this is known as the "Legend of the Dark Twin". The Dark Twin endlessly hunts and torments her rebel sister for turning against her and what she believes to be the continuance of their race. Even though many generations have passed since the original twins, the Dark Twin always appears as a mysterious, alluring mirror-like twin of the host of Val'vakri. Many kalashtar see the host of Val'vakri as a harbringer of ill-omen, as her dark sister might be right on her heels, bringing misfortune with her. Shemhazai thanks Selkatori and takes her leave, heading to the rendezvous with the rest of the party deep in thought.

Meanwhile, Proust is doing some investigations of his own. The last time he had seen any of his old traveling companions had been a year ago in Aundair. He had been off the airship, and heard of a ruckus at the dock – and when he returned, the airship – and his companions Val, Biggs, and Wedge – were gone. He searches for information on Val'vakri, and receives multiple reports and sightings.

  • Within the past six to nine months, Val'vakri (or someone matching her description), has been seen in Northern Breland, Aundair, and Karrnath.
  • Most recently, sightings of her were in Thrane, Sharn, and Xen'dric.
  • In Northern Breland, Aundair, Karrnath and Sharn, she insinuated herself into the embraces of an older gentleman. All of these older men either had a great deal of money, power, influence, or a combination of these. Some of the individuals are now dead.
  • Some of the reported sightings were in the company of a half-elf and a very good-looking Brelish soldier who calls her "his lady".
  • She has escaped capture on a number of occasions due to a hasty retreat aboard a small, privately-owned airship. It is believed that the airship was taken from The Emerald Claw, as that group seems to have a vested interest in Val'vakri's companions, particularly the half-elf. He seems to have claimed ownership of the vessel.
  • The 'half-elf' is actually likely a changeling, given some of the reports.
  • The other individual is a very good-looking male who claims to be a soldier of Breland and brother to the half-elf. He believes that the Last War is still going on, and is fond of singing the Brelish national anthem in battle.

Given this information, Proust uses his bardic-gained knowledge to recall bits of an old legend involving quori twins, a dark twin and a light twin. He recalls enough, combined with the information he had just uncovered, to guess that Val'vakri and Vial'vithkari might be those twins. He decides to message Val later that night, and heads towards the docks to rendezvous with the rest of the party.

The party rendezvous on board The Zephyr, a wind galleon captained by Ispa, a scion of House Lyrandar. She has heard of the group's exploits from Captain Tyrian, of The Tempest, the party's original ship on the trip from Sharn to Xen'dric. Captain Ispa welcomes the group on board; it seems that the party are the only passengers to be ferried this trip. When asked, Captain Ispa just says that there were a number of last-minute cancellations. She invites the party to dine at the captain's table for dinner the next day. As The Zephyr sets sail, most of the party retires to their finely-appointed state rooms to rest in comfort.

Proust, on the other hand, retires to his cabin and attempts to scry both Val'vakri and Biggs – both of which, unsurprisingly, fail. He then casts a spell to message Val'vakri, counting on it to bypass whatever protections she might have manifested. "Hello. It's Proust. Where the hell are you guys? And do you have an evil twin? Alternately, if you are Vial'vithkari, please disregard this message." He doesn't have long to wait before receiving a reply: "Hello – this is Val'vakri. We are in Starilaskur. Sorry about Aundair. I do have a twin, but it seems you know of her. Need help?" Proust, having little spellpower left, decides to wait until the next evening to respond.

The next morning, the party gathers for breakfast, securing a quiet table to themselves – not a difficult task, considering they are the only passengers. Shemhazai starts to explain what she had learned of the "Legend of the Dark Twin", and Proust mentions that he had recalled something of that. They discuss what each had learned the day before, including the fact that Vial'vithkari is a powerful member of the Dreaming Dark, and that Proust had contacted Val'vakri to confirm what he had heard. He did state that she offered assistance, but that he would rather not have additional complications, and that he would likely contact Val again that night and decline her offer. Shemhazai does ask to meet Val at some point, to discuss the twin issue… as she had never heard of such a thing before, and given how quori are 'born', didn't think it was possible. Shira – through RaE – mentions that in her time, twins were very rare, but not totally unheard of.

During the discussions, Muroni asks Shemhazai is asked to explain a bit more about The Dreaming Dark and The Thousand Eyes – as Vial is a member of the former, and the latter have been mentioned at least once, via Mother Scorpion's auguries. Shemhazai explains what she knows to those interested:

  • The Thousand Eyes: The Thousand Eyes are supposed to police Riedra from within, but they do maintain a covert spy network outside of Riedra in order to deal with foreign matters just as swiftly. Public agents are identified by green uniforms and golden badges of office – common Riedrans take comfort in the sight of these guardians. Secret members could be anyone, though agents are typically human, Chosen, or changeling. Most members are observers, while more capable agents are rogues, monks, psionicists, lurks, psychic warrior monks, soul knife assassins, or any combination of the above. There are rumors of even more specialized agents as well. Agents can appear anywhere and receive reinforcements frighteningly quickly within Riedra. The high minister of the Thousand Eyes is Lady Sharadhona, an extremely powerful telepath. After a moment of thought, Shemhazai adds that Lady Sharadhona may not necessarily be a danger to the group, as long as they don't cross her directly.

The Thousand Eyes maintains a vast spy network throughout Sarlona, though beyond Sarlona its resources begin to spread thin. This does not mean that they should be taken lightly, however, as they will likely focus their efforts on areas, groups, or individuals that believe deserve more of their attention, such as this group and the Dragonmarked Houses.

  • The Dreaming Dark: Officially, the Dreaming Dark does not exist. Most people in Riedra have never heard of it, and never will. Shemhazai pauses, then continues, explaining that the Dreaming Dark is the ultimate power behind the quori. Ultimately, all quori serve the Dreaming Dark, though a select few have managed to resist their influence and power. It has agents throughout all of Sarlona's organizations. Most of its agents operate outside of Riedra, in the rest of Sarlona, but also in Xen'dric and especially Khorvaire as of late. Agents of the Dreaming Dark are mainly Inspired Chosen, though they use mind seed to subvert members of other races. After a moment of thought, Shemhazai mentions that the overlord of the Dreaming Dark goes by the pretentious name of The Devourer of Dreams.

It is said that the Dreaming Dark's ultimate goal is to maintain il-Lashtavar, the current state of Dal Quor, and to do so it must control the dreams of all beings on Eberron that can dream. Within the past 1,200 years, they've managed to control the dreams of nearly an entire continent – only Adar and a few other remote places remain free from their influence. Though they do not officially exist, they are the true power behind Riedra. Those Chosen families bred to become members and hosts of the Dreaming Dark are called the Shadow Lines.

  • Mind Seed: Using Mind Seed on an individual can only be accomplished by some of the most powerful psions, as one must be very experienced to manifest the power. Also, it takes from the life force of the one manifesting the power, making it a weapon to be used only when needed. It takes a week for the mind seed to fully germinate; during that time, it can be removed only by very powerful psionics or spells, such as psychic chirurgery, reality revision, wish, or miracle. Protection from evil and similar effects will slow the germination process of the seed by the magic's duration. Those same effects can also prevent the mind seed from being implanted in the first place. However, once the seed is fully germinated, it is impossible to return the subject to its previous state.

It is easiest to discover a subject affected by the power during the germination process. They will slowly take on habits and mannerisms of the party who manifested the mind seed; however, being that most of those are quori or quori-controlled Inspired, this is very difficult… quori are not only excellent at hiding their thoughts and intentions, but the mind-seeded individual has all the memories of the original to work with during the germination process. However, it is still easier to detect during this process than it is after the mind seed has fully taken effect – at that point, it is nearly impossible, and the individual has almost all of the skills and powers of the individual who manifested the mind seed and the mental capabilities of the manifester, as well as all of the memories of the target. And as quori are fanatics, the mind-seeded individual, despite being a new being with no actual ties to either of the originals that created it besides memories, is just as fanatically devoted to the missions of the manifester. Sometimes, individuals mind-seeded by The Dreaming Dark retain not only the memories of the original being, but all the powers, skills, and abilities as well. Shemhazai doesn't know why sometimes they do and sometimes they don't – it could be based on the individual targeted by the mind seed, or The Dreaming Dark could have developed more than one version of the power.

After breakfast, Drakeus retires to his room to work on item creation, Shemhazai finds a quiet part of the deck to meditate, Proust spends time talking with the sailors (then entertaining Shemhazai using silent image and storytelling to describe many of the places in Khorvaire he had visited), and Zylah spends the day talking with the sailors, using her pirating experience with sailing to good use. Zylah discovers why there are no other passengers on The Zephyr – there are many rumors ranging from House Cannith not wanting anyone else on board for this trip to something about the group sailing to have a huge showdown with the sea devils who have been attacking ships.

That evening, the party dines with Captain Ispa. After some discussion of what she might be sailing into, the party admits (rather bluntly, via Drakeus) that they had heard a few of the rumors going around, but that it wasn't anything to worry about – that they were going to fulfill the terms of a previous negotiation with the sahuagin, and that The Zephyr and her crew should be in no danger. The Captain seems relieved, and the rest of dinner was spent in lighter discussion.

Before retiring that evening, Proust sends another message to Val'vakri: "No help needed. Had a scuffle in Xen'dric, but came out just fine. Everyone still alive there? If I see her again, want her alive?" Val's reply doesn't take long: "Everyone here is alive, glad you are. If you can take Vial, kill her. Avoid her if you can. Bad idea to draw her attention."

About noon the next day, The Zephyr arrives at the Straits of Shargon.

When The Zephyr reaches the appointed spot, Captain Ispa calls the party on deck. She doesn't even get a chance to drop the message stone into the water before the sea around the ship begins to churn with movement. Half a dozen Sea Devils leap up on deck, while dozens more can be seen in the waters surrounding The Zephyr. The party recognizes the sahuagin High Priestess, the four-armed warrior leader, and their assistants.

She speaks directly to Drakeus: "You have returned as you have promised. That is good. You are one who knows the meaning of honor, unlike many in your clan. They," she says, gesturing to the multitude of sahuagin surrounding the ship, "wished to see what one such as you looked like, as your kind is rare." She turns to the assembled throng. "See here what I say and do and bear witness! Mighty Shargon has given me a vision of an appropriate blood sacrifice for the loss of his favored servant, the great shark Shegokelah. This vision is of a creature from the land to the currents south of here, that the landwalkers now call Xen'dric. It is a creature legendary to them, known only as Glimmerdoom. By the power of Shargon, it is his will that they bring this creature known as Glimmerdoom back here, alive, so that we might sacrifice such a mighty creature to Shargon and take its power for ourselves! This is the Quest that has been laid upon this representative of Clan Cannith in order to end our Blood Feud!"

Drakeus agrees to the quest (not that he had much choice, with the magical compulsion that had been placed upon him), and the sea devils retreat, allowing the ship to continue on its way.

Proust attempts to recall what legends and ballads that might have mentioned Glimmerdoom, but all he is able to recall is that it is a legendary creature of Xen'dric that cannot be seen, and that is best avoided – as it has been known to take out entire hunting parties by itself. Once the group arrives in Stormreach, Zylah immediately takes off to try and find out more information. Unfortunately, Zylah finds little additional information; besides being a magical creature that cannot be seen – most of the time – Glimmerdoom also reportedly turns spells back on their casters.

Meanwhile, the rest of the party attempts to seek out Deegan Barrister, to see if he was doing okay. Shemhazai, with aid from Proust, locates Deegin easily. They are directed to Temple Row, when Deegin was last seen. The group finds him conversing with a man just outside of the Keep of the Silver Flame. As they approach, Deegin says to the young man, "I will do my best to save your sister." He bows his head and turns to the party, seemingly happy to see them, and gesturing them to join him.

The group adjourns to a tavern where they can get a drink and sit while talking. While walking, Deegin explains the commission he had just taken – the young man he had been speaking to is named Jedal. He was a member of an expedition that was exploring some ruins when the group came across a grey-skinned giant. The leader of the expedition spoke with the giant about something, and the leader refused. The giant promptly killed him, and to their horror, they saw his soul sucked into a whirlwind that surrounded the giant. When the rest of them tried to flee, the giant killed them as well, adding their souls to his whirlwind. Jedal wasn't sure why he was allowed to get away, as the giant didn't even try to chase after him. His sister Lisel was one of the members of the expedition, and her soul can't find peace until it is released from the giant. Jedal asked Deegin to do what he could to try to save Lisel's soul, and Deegin agreed. Deegin mentions that from the young man's story, it's obvious that the giant wants something, and left someone alive to tell the tale. Likely, there were ruins nearby that the giant was too big to fit into. The party muses briefly on what the giant could want, but dismisses the musing shortly and begins to tell their tale.

Deegin, as it turns out, knows of Glimmerdoom, being one of the few people that has fought it and lived to tell the tale. Deegin explains that the legendary beast known as Glimmerdoom is a behir that has been mutated by the strange magics of Xen'dric. He knows of several lairs that the creature has used in the past, but doesn't know if it is using any of them currently. The party now has a moral quandary – while a behir is a thoroughly evil creature, it is a sentient being in its own right. Taking a sentient creature to be tortured and then eaten alive is not something that some members of the party are comfortable – or at all happy – with. And that is besides the fact that, even if they were able to capture the creature alive and transport Glimmerdoom to the sahuagin still alive, there was still the issue that sahuagin often gain powers from the creatures they devour in such a manner. What kind of damage could invisible, lightning-breathing, spell-turning sahuagin do?

Proust takes a moment to compose a sending to Vaslo, as the group hopes to get House Cannith's (unofficial) stance on this. Proust's sending: "It's Proust, of recent acquaintance. In Stormreach. Tribe wants us to bring "Glimmerdoom" – mutated behir. Reflects magic, near invisible. They'd gain those abilities. Scry us." Vaslo's reply, in his 'feeble old man voice': "Don't you know I'm in the middle of a lesson? Go away, don't come back! Now Jeanne, pay attention here. This next lesson is important…" Recalling that Jeanne was one of the (supposed) spies that Merrix had set on Vaslo, the party doesn't expect a response any time soon.

However, since Drakeus has been Geas/Quested to complete this, there aren't a whole lot of choices. Ideas where brought up of provoking a war between sahuagin tribes, creating a portal between Sharn and Xen'dric directly, and less feasible ideas. Drakeus argues, mostly prompted by his Geas, that regardless of the consequences, the group must follow through (although he was interested in the portal idea, were it possible). Proust secretly conveys a message to everyone but Drakeus and RaE about delaying to give us more time. Deegin assists by offering to help with Glimmerdoom if the group first assisted him with dealing with the death giant and retrieving Lisel's soul (thus giving the group more time to think about how to deal with Glimmerdoom, Drakeus, and the sahuagin). The party accepts, even Drakeus, while thinking of alternatives to going after Glimmerdoom.

The group makes arrangements to meet Deegin in the morning, and retires to find lodging and bring Zylah up to date on what they had learned.

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Episode 9
Wherein Our Heroes Return to Sharn, and Discover the Consequences of Their Actions

To be completed at a later date

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Episode 8
Wherein Our Heroes Enter the Spire, and Discover That Which House Cannith Missed

In the morning, after a long night (and several occasions of heading off Vaslo before he reached the Spire door) our heroes discuss how to approach the Spire. It was decided that first, Shemhazai would attempt to mind probe Vaslo while he was still asleep, both to discover what was within the Spire, and what the Inspired might have gotten from him. Shemhazai very shortly runs into an issue – a strong mental wall, that completely blocks off Vaslo's memories of the first time he visited the Spire. It starts with a conversation with Merrix – the grandfather of the current Merrix – but the details of the conversation, as well as anything that happened afterward, up until they departed for Stormreach – is blocked. The mental block shows quite a bit of evidence that the Inspired Vial – had attempted to break it down, but it appeared that she was unable to do so. Perhaps most startlingly, it appears that Vaslo is not truly senile.

Shemhazai found that after the events in the Spire – whatever they were – Vaslo's mind started to slowly degrade. He had created the mental block in his own mind – but something had helped him do so, or it would not have been so complete nor so strong as to hold up to two psions. What it was that helped him was still a mystery; but it wasn't the reason behind Vaslo's mental deterioration… or at least not the main reason. Vaslo's mind kept trying to return to those blocked-off memories, but was unable to do so.

(To be continued)

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Episode 7
Wherein the Battle with Vaslo's Companions Concludes, and Vaslo Somewhat Returns to Reality

Through much heroics on the side of our heroes, and Muroni's determination to keep Deegan from the final sleep, our heroes manage to defeat Vaslo and his companions. Val'vakri flees, along with the half-giant and the dromite, leaving the body of the Riedran male (a soulknife) behind, as well as Vaslo, who is caught tight in RaE's grip, with the door wards blocking entrance into the Spire almost completely removed.

Shemhazai manages to strip most of Val'vakri's psionic influence from Vaslo, leaving him simply a tired, confused old man. He regresses into the past, calling our heroes by the names of Vaslo's former companions from the first expedition he made to the Spire. To him, Zylah is Jylnah d'Phiarlan, Shemhazai is Shezuli, Muroni is Tessilna, Drakeus is Magdamar, and Proust is Versel Orn. He refers to RaE as the 'Mark 13 Prototype', and discusses some of the House Cannith experiments in the realm of making constructs sentient.

The party convinces him to rest for the night, and make camp at the foot of the Spire before leaving Vaslo in Zylah's care (as Jylnah), and briefly explore the area before beginning the grim process of cleaning up. In one part of the valley is a large, magical sigil inscribed upon the ground – upon some study, it is determined that it might be a gate to Dal Quor… or would be, if Dal Quor were contiguous with Eberron.

A large well in another portion of the valley proves to be a well that allows contact with any sleeping creature. Proust uses it to contact his draconic patron and provide all the information that he knows to date; he also utilizes it to contact Versel Orn – one of the other passengers on the ship the heroes took to Xen'drik, as well as a member of Vaslo's original expedition, according to the old man's mutterings.

Versel confirms that he was on the original expedition – surprisingly enough, considering that the well was not supposed to allow two-way communication. He also hints that House Cannith did not find everything that was to be found in the Spire originally, and that some things were kept from them for their own good. He wishes Proust luck before an unnerved Proust severs the connection.

Shemhazai studies the Spire, which is beautiful in the morning light. She does inform Drakeus, as he calls RaE down from the tower (leaving only ordinary constructs upon it), that there is a consciousness within the Spire… and that it can reach outside it, as Shemhazai can still hear the distress call, although it does not seem malevolent, just lonely… and patient.

Our heroes spend the rest of the day and night resting, and prepare to enter the Spire the next day.

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