The party was able to tend to their wounds and recover their strength without interruption in the ruins of the rusted tower. As the hours passed, the intensity and pulsing of the colors, now only red and blue noticeably increased. Once they were ready, the group hurried towards the red beam, however, it was too late…
Just as they reached an area filled with dead vegetation where all of the grass and the few trees were dried and brittle to the touch, there was one final flash and the beams stopped. Those that had recovered gems saw that, although they still shone, their light was diminished. Unsure what to expect, the party continued on with the earth beneath their feet leaving puffs of dust ans ash.
They approached the nearest structure and found a small shrine and graveyard with a circular wall and a twisted and rusted gate. There was no red beam coming from the structure and when they entered they found a dull gray gem resting on the floor. The room was filled with shelves containing nick-knacks that were mostly decayed and nothing of value was found. Jax took the gem, which appeared to be utterly mundane.
There was a great debate on whether or not to grab the last gem or head back to the skull mountain. While they argued, several saw a large shadow move across the land. They could not be sure, but Way-lynn believed that whatever created the shadow was flying and ended at the skull mountain. Finally a decision was made to head towards the mountain, and they did so with haste and dread.
They reached the skull mountain and found it to be dark and lifeless. The once bright device that merged the individual beams was now floating above a central air shaft and a narrow staircase could be seen leading down. The party tried their gems in the various sockets in the floor and found a few that would fit, but when nothing happened, they stopped trying and headed down.
They followed the cramped staircase down for several hundred feet, eventually arriving in a chamber of red and black stone. Another crowned skull image was carved into the floor and the skull’s mouth was positioned to receive the beam of white light from above.
Out of one alcove stepped a tall dray with decaying black scales that Gwyn recognized as Abaslom. In one hand he wielding a large black blade – The Blade Perilous. The party was unwilling to talk or listen and simply launched an attack on the dray. The battle was fierce for Absalom was a powerful master of the Way as well as a Templar of Dregoth. The earth shook and fire rained down from the sky as he swung the evil blade, but the combined strength of the party was too much and he was defeated. For good measure, Way-lynn used the Headsman’s Axe of Moil to decapitate him. Banoc wrapped the black blade in his cloak and carried it, careful not to touch it.
After the fight, they wondered how he got the blade and how he had returned from the dead – questions that they would likely never get answers to. They also searched the room and found that there was a shimmering portal in the skull’s mouth. Although they could see nothing through it, it appeared to be the only exit from the room. There was some discussion, but eventually they all went through the portal.
They passed into a vast chamber whose floor as covered with bones. Arcs of lightning illuminated the enormous eldritch engine that was floating in the center of the chamber. Tightly wound cables and rods of silvery metal twisted along rune-covered walls like a spider’s web. Beneath the engine was an enormous dragon skull with two large glowing rubies for eyes. From behind the skull stepped a massive dray with blue scales, a swirl of energy moved between him and the skull.
As they feared the dray was Dregoth come to complete this part of his plan for godhood. Despite herself, Gwyn simply laughed at the dragon king. Banoc cast aside his hood and revealed himself for the first time as a agent of the element of water. However, Dregoth did not appear to be impressed. Lena attempted to contact him using her skill with the Way, but he was ready for such an attack and battle ensued.
The party felt their life being drained by Dregoth to power a spell and with a single word, Lena fell over dead. Gwyn summoned an incendiary cloud which burned away some of Dregoth’s flesh, but he appeared to take little damage. With another word Jax dropped lifeless to the ground, enraging Daqiq. Banoc started throwing tears from his vial at Dregoth and, although the tears struck true, the sorcerer-king did not succumb to their power.
Gwyn, Way-lynn and Banoc shifted their target to the giant skull and quickly began to damage it, chipping away at bone and gem. Way-lynn was the next target of Dregoth, but they were able to resist the magic, Daqiq died shortly thereafter with another word of power. Suddenly the skull exploded in a powerful flash of energy, knocking everyone to the ground. Daqiq and Lena rose up from the ground, having been restored by the energy of their gems.
Enraged, Dregoth used his magic to drain the life out of the party and teleport away. Although the dragon king fled, the effect of his magic was too great and only Way-lynn and Daqiq were left standing. Jax remained dead and Banoc, Gwyn and Lena were an inch away from death. They appeared to have thwarted Dregoth’s plans, but the price was higher than they could have imagined.
Lena isn’t looking forward to the survivor’s guilt, assuming that she’s going to be eligible for it.
I’ll admit that things don’t look great right now, but you all have gotten out of some tough spots before. I’m hopeful that you’ll find a way.
Life, uh, finds a way.
Daqiq will do anything to make sure Jax is safe. Let’s hope that “anything” doesn’t have to be tested.