Race to Freedom
In the library, the group had finished their preparations to fight the hordes of undead and opened the door to see dozens of skeletons and zombies amassed outside. Both sides were prepared for a fight, but the party was faster and used their magic and weapons to quickly defeat the hordes. Gwyn summoned walls of fire that incinerated her foes and Banoc channeled the power of his elemental patrons to destroy dozens at once and drove away the giant skeleton after his had been injured by a powerful attack from Daqiq.
During the fight Thea, held back to finish her reading of the last writing they uncovered another volume discussing Planar Travel. During the fight Torakas was compelled by the Blade Perilous and started towards Thea, but fortunately Jax was able to use her magic to neutralize the influence the sword had over him. They collected their belongings and found that there was a large stash of valuables in the library. Gwyn filled up up the Krampus’ sack and Way-lynn carried the rest of the coins.
With Daqiq leading the way and attempting to avoid any encounters, the party raced towards the Spire of Black Ice and the portal out of Moil. Although they weren’t exactly sure what they would find in the Realm of the Dead Gods, they doubted it could be worse than Moil. For eight hours they made their way through the towers and across the frosty bridges of Moil, seeing several groups of undead, but never getting close enough for and encounter.
When the reached the Tower of Salt they traveled up into new areas. The upper levels of the tower were rusted and corroded much as the lower levels. The smaller rooms, which the party assumed were once residences, gave way to larger and larger rooms that appeared to have once been used for storage. At the upper level they finally discovered the bridge leading out of the tower and, to their horror, found that it was being guarded by the Tortured Vestige, which stood in front of a massive iron portcullis.
They backed away quickly and the Vestige did not appear to notice them. Searching the surrounding areas, they could find no other way to leave the tower. The group was tempted to try and travel the ground between towers again, but felt that it would be too much for Thea to handle in her deteriorating state. Not wanting to spend more time searching for other options, the group decided to try and defeat the mass of undead once again.
Rushing in, Gwyn unleashed a blast of multi-colored light striking the creature with two rays and immobilizing it. The others came in and were preparing to draw it away from the portcullis so that Way-lynn could try and open it. Daqiq landed a deadly blow on the creature, which recoiled in pain, but before anyone else to do anything it was overpowered by Gwyn’s spell and it disappeared. Although she wasn’t sure where, she knew that it was likely on some other plane of existence and shouldn’t trouble them again.
Nearing exhaustion from their journey across the city, the group decided to rest before heading out. Although time was precious to them, they didn’t know what to expect and wanted to be as ready as they could for whatever they might find on the other side of the portal.
During the rest Banoc and Thea spent a lot a time together trying to determine the nature of her sickness and discussing matters of faith and gods. Banoc tried his healing magics but was unable to make Thea’s condition better. During the rest she started vomiting up blood and it was obvious that large clumps of hair were starting to fall out. She tried her best to remain optimistic about the future, but everyone could tell that her time was limited.
The Spire of Black Ice
With great effort, Way-lynn was able to lift the gate once Torakas had used his skills to remove the rust from it, and they headed out towards the spire of black ice. Their first obstacle was a ruined tower that had only the smallest ledges for walking. Moving slowly and carefully, they crossed through the tower without serious difficulty. After getting back onto a more normal bridge they saw below them the Tortured Vestige. Some how it had returned or another had formed. Luckily, it was far away and not a threat at the moment, but its reappearance was disturbing.
The bridge connecting to the spire ended on a small landing built from the same material as the tower – ice. Deep within the ice of the tower, the party could see a structure of stone and metal which was the skeleton of the tower. Suspended in the ice were countless frozen corpses.
The landing had neither an entrance nor any other means of ingress and no window or opening was visible on the surface of the tower. From the landing there were a set of steep, narrow, ice-covered stairs that had been cut into the outer wall of the spire. They descended down the side of the tower towards some questionable destination below. The far limit of the stairs was lost around the side of the tower.
None relished the idea of traveling down the outside of the building then back up through the interior. The information they had on the tower suggested they would have to deal with a gauntlet of undead. Gwyn decided to fly up to the roof level and see what was up there. She found it to be empty except for a large stone archway covered in frost.
Thea and Gwyn flew back to the top and secured the last of their rope to make assist in the climb. Although it was not easy going, the entire party eventually made it with only a few minor bumps and bruises. The party found the roof level to only have a set of stairs leading down into the interior and the archway. The arch was set at the top of a small flight of stairs and they could see a small, silver panel on one side.
Jax approached the gate and put the silver key into the key hole…
A building sound of energy started from the portal and the runes carved into it started to produce a golden glow…
The gate flashed with orange light and a portal opened leading to an unfamilar land with a starry sky…
Warmth flooding into Moil and the ice of the tower started to melt, threatening to expose the trapped corpses…
Thea began to glow and her spectral wings transformed into feathered wing and although still sick, she was radiant…
Jax wasted no time and moved through the portal. They other started to as well when Daqiq wondered how the portal would be closed…
The sound of cracking ice filled the air and several corpses were freed from the ice and started to move towards the party…
Everyone rushed through the portal with Torakas being the last. He removed the key and tried to jump through the portal, but the instant the key was removed the portal closed. He muttered “ah butts” to no one in particular…
By this time several dozen corpses were freed, but with the portal closed, it appeared that no more were going to be free. Torakas dodged out of the way of the zombies and tried to make a run for the stairs. He quickly discovered the internal passageways were lined with frozen zombies that started to drain the life from him. He quickly reasoned it would be virtually impossible for him to make it out of the tower. He fought off a few of the zombies, but the numbers were too great and he knew he wouldn’t be able to survive. Gripping the sword and key tightly, he backed off and fell toward the ground at the base of the tower. As he fell, he hoped his sacrifice would make up in some small part for the work he did for Dregoth.
The Astral Sea
On the other side of the portal, the party helped Thea down the stairs from a nearly identical gate. The surrounding area was a crumbling courtyard. They stood at the center of a field of blasted dark red stones, beyond which was a field of gray stone.
They saw the portal close as Torakas removed the sliver key and waited for the gate to reopen. When it didn’t they feared that Torakas had fallen. With no silver key to open the portal on this side, there was nothing they could do at the moment. Thea in particular was devastated that Torakas sacrificed himself when her life was measured in hours, or days at the most.
The sky overhead was a bright starry field and filled with swirling with colors never before seen by their eyes. Behind them was a steep drop-off into the swirling void, suggesting they were at the edge of an island. They saw before them a shadowed landscape where pulsing colors shone like a beacon on the horizon, its distance impossible to determine.
The explored the area a bit and a large canyon to the north and a steep drop-off the the south and east. The proceeded to the west. The new region appeared to contain scattered ruins of tombs and mausoleums. Most were damaged, perhaps broken into and looted, and it looked as if nothing more than tattered cloth and rubble remained. In the distance, towards the southern edge of the land, they saw a faint blue glow, separate from the other light sources.
As they approached the source of the blue light, they see a rather odd sight. In the middle of a clearing, there was a large wooden chair with intricate carvings and a strong blue aura. Sitting next to the chair, cross legged on the ground, was a blue-skinned humanoid figure.
The party approached, with Thea in the lead, to take with the the blue humanoid stood up to a surprising height of about 12 feet. As he did so, his elongated features became quite apparent, as did his hands, each with six fingers and an extra knuckle. He cleared his throat and speaks slowly…
“Greetings… travelers. It is not often that I encounter your kind… let alone two groups in as many… days. Perhaps you will have… currency?… and an interest in trade? If you are… like your kinsmen… with nothing of real value… then I will bid you a good… day.”
They discovered that the individual, Rhys, was a merchant and interested in buying and selling magical items. The previous group he mentioned appeared to be another party of Athasians, but as all they had were ceramic coins, he had no interest in them. He also confirmed that they were on Pluton, but provided little useful information.
After some negotiations, the party arrived at a deal on a staff forGwyn, a sword for Way-lynn and a bow and bracers for Daqiq as well as a few potions. The party was unsure where to go next in this strange land…