Dark Sun: The Scorched World of Athas

The City that Waits

A New Direction
While the party rested, healing their wounds and allowing Thea to recover from the effects of the machine that brought her back to life. The debate was between leaving Moil as quickly as possible or making their way to the library of Dregoth in the Shadow Gate Tower. The party was evenly split on what they thought was best, with Thea deciding to go along with the majority. Eventually Gwyn was convinced by Torakas and Jax that the library was the better option and the group headed out towards the northeast corner of the city.

The group moved with as much speed as they could with Daqiq leading the way and attempting to avoid any undead they might encounter. He was able to avoid groups of banshees and zombies but stumbled directly into a skeletal work crew. They also spotted the Vestige, or a similar creature, roaming the bridges of the city. They were terrified by the through that they had not defeated the creature or that there were multiple vestiges within the city.

The Towers of Moil

Temptations
After several hours the party moved into into a tower the Torakas referred to as the Tower of Chance. In one room, a mysterious wheel floated above a table. Although they were hurried, Way-lynn gave into temptation and activated the wheel. The wheel came to a stop and Way-lynn visibly aged from the magic of the wheel and the rest of his friends could see that his health was affected as well. Torakas provided an elixir that restored most of his lost youth, but Way-lynn still felt weaker than before.

Torakas also spun the wheel hoping that he would have better luck than Way-Lynn. Much to his dismay, the wheel did not land on the number he selected and he was wracked with pain as the device drain energy out of him, leaving him tired like he had never been before. The decided to move on, not trusting that the wheel would ever provide a benefit.

In the shadow mine tower, they encountered a strange room with obsidian eggs on an alter. Banoc detected magic within them, but was unable to determine the functions of the eggs. After the dangers in the Tower of Chance, they decided not to tempt fate and left the eggs undisturbed.

As they left the mine, they were attacked by another group of banshees and this time they had no choice but to fight the spectral creatures. The banshees’ screams knocked Banoc, Thea and Way-lynn unconscious and into a near-death state. The creatures were eventually defeated and the party was able to revive their allies and heal up.

The Shadow Gate Tower
At long last the party reached the Shadow Gate Tower and it was still as Gwyn remembered. The tower had been struck by another falling tower and the top was broken off. The faint glow of the portal to the Shadow Tomb was barely visible from the bridge as they approached. They worked their way inside and discovered a recently renovated room that appeared to have once been a chapel. The original iconography was dedicated to a creature that Thea knew as Orcus, but had been replaced by a symbol of a dragon skull within a sun – which Torakas confirmed was the symbol of Dregoth.

They also discovered that the interior of the tower had been badly damaged in the collision and there were no access points to the lower levels where the library was. They made their way to the top most level and avoided the Shadow Gate. From the edge, they peered over and saw some damaged walkways on the exterior of the tower and several access points that might lead into unexplored portions of the tower. However, they couldn’t see if the access points had been damaged from their vantage point.

Gwyn surprised all of the others as she sprouted dragon wings from her back and launched off the side of the tower to explore. After a few minutes, she returned and confidently said that if they could get down, they could access the lower level of the tower. Thea also surprised the group as she produced a set of ethereal, feathered wings and made the initial descent with some rope to help the others. Everyone was in awe of the newfound abilities of Thea and Gwyn.

The descent along the outside of the tower was treacherous and Banoc and Torakas both fell but landed on the ruined scaffolding only suffering a few bumps and bruises. Once they all reached the lowest access doorway, they entered the tower again and quickly discovered the library, which occupied a large portion of the ground floor. The room contained a vast assortment of books, scrolls, tablets and other forms of written information. The walls and rooms were demolished at one point, but recently renovated and are in rather good condition, considering the state of the rest of the tower. They realized that finding the library was only the first step and that sorting through the information contained here could take days.

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The City that Waits

The Search
The group quickly discovered that their task of finding knowledge about Dregoth’s plans would be hindered by enchantments placed on the library. The books and other writings could not be removed from the library and they appeared to be enchanted to return to the shelves after about an hour or so. Finally, the information on a particular topic appeared to be spread out across several different works, requiring both to be found and brought together for translation. Only then could the meaning of the work be determined and hopefully provide useful information.

The party started searching for writings until pairs were found after which the difficult task of translating the works fell to Torakas and Jax. Torakas, Thea and Gwyn had the difficult task of comprehending the esoteric knowledge described by the writings. Banoc and Way-lynn spent the majority of their time searching for writings. Daqiq was instrumental in organizing their findings to help them remember where various writings were located for future reference. The task was slow and exhausting, both mentally and physically, for everyone.

After being interrupted by a skeleton work crew, they spent some time checking on the entrance to the library and trying to secure it against more interruptions. They found, however, that the spectral undead of the city were easily able to move into the library and a second fight almost destroyed several of the writings after Gwyn unleashed are blast of fire.

During that fight, Thea gave into the urging of The Blade Perilous, and attacked Torakas. Horrified by her actions she surrendered the sword to the dray artificer who agreed to take up the weapon, as he had wanted all along.

Things That Go Bump in the Night
After about 12 hours, the party decided to stop and rest. The physical stress of running around the library, the mental exhaustion from the reading and the constant threat of attacks had taken a toll on them and they decided it would be most productive to take a break and rest. They posted guards at the library entrance and, mercifully, they had no spectral visitors to interrupt them.

After eating a bland meal prepared by Torakas, they resumed their work. The party also felt the effects of the Gray and they each knew that they were dangerously close to being overwhelmed. Thea’s condition worsened although she did not let on to the others in her party and carried on as best she could.

Shortly after the resumed work, a pounding was heard and felt on the main library entrance. It was as if numerous fists were trying to beat down the door to gain access. Way-lynn and Banoc shifted their attention to making sure the door held. While this allowed the others a safe working place, the constant pounding did little to help them concentrate. A few hours later there was an increase in the intensity, as if more creatures had arrived.

The Last Stand
Zombie HodeAfter over 30 hours in the library, they decided that it was time to go. The party had uncovered a fair amount of information that was useful, and although they knew where the rest was in the library, they felt that they were out of time. They uncovered significant information in writings…

The Ascension
The Astral Sea
The Feywild
New Worlds
Of Gods
Planar Travel
Pluton
The Time of Troubles

Jax and Thea took the last remaining work to be translated and studied to the back of the library, while the rest made ready to open the doors and face whatever was out there waiting for them. With luck they would be able to defeat the creatures and make it to the Spire of Black Ice before being overwhelmed by the Gray.

They piled many of the flammable materials in front of the doors. With everyone as ready as they could be, they pulled open the doors and saw a horde of zombies which started to rush in…

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The City that Waits

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
Spire of Black IceWith 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…

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The Ruins of Pluton

The Hunted Lands
The party spent a bit of time trying to get information out of Rhys, but he had little to say and even less patience for the group, now that their money was spent. Daqiq asked about his experiments and, sighing as if talking to a child who doesn’t understand, explained what he was doing. None of what he said made sense to any of the party.

The group moved west, following the ravine and looking for a way to cross it. The lands before them appeared to be dotted with the ruins of courtyards and possible gardens. Numerous shattered stone tables and benches were arranged around what once might have been tranquil settings. Empty pools and shattered statues conjured images of long destroyed fountains. As they moved further west, the area slowly became covered with slime, fungus and other signs of rot.

With little notice the Daqiq found himself face-to-face with five humanoid creatures that appeared to be walking diseases. Their green bodies were covered with all types of sores, wounds and other signs of disease. They spoke in the language of dragons, and Gwyn translated for the group.

Who has drawn us to this land? Who smells so sweet? Who carries the sickness? We will not hurt her, we want to save her from death. She will live with us and we shall tell you a secret of this place?

Thea did not know these creatures but could tell they were demons and thus not to be trusted. Although the party wanted to know the secrets of this place, none were willing to sacrifice Thea to learn them. The creatures foul intentions were made more clear when they revealed they wanted to keep Thea alive forever and worship her and her sickness.

The plaguebearers would not take “no” for an answer and moved to try and take Thea when it became clear she would not go willingly. Banoc and Way-lynn moved to protect their ally and Daqiq and Gwyn attacked with bow and spell. Gwyn stayed back, too weak to aid in combat and used her magic to try and cleanse the rot of the demons. The foul beasts were surrounded by a horrible stench and biting flies, making it difficult to engage them in melee. To make matters worse they were exceptionally resistant to magic and Gwyn’s fire was useless. Eventually the constant attacks wore the creatures down and they were defeated.

They continued to explore the land and the ravine but found way to cross even the narrowest gap. The ravine floor was covered in a haze and appeared to be about 400 feet deep. There were no easy ways to make the descent as the party left all of their rope in Moil. Daqiq thought he spotted some movement in the haze, but couldn’t tell what made it nor did he see it again.

The Dead Gods Tomb
The party decided to take a rest to tend to their wounds and discuss the options.Thea’s conditioned worsened and she became feverish and dizzy and her nausea and skin conditions intensified. Daqiq and Gwyn familiarized themselves with their new items and Gwyn discovered that her staff was capable of being used to create a wall of force that would be large enough to span the ravine. The group also noticed that the northern lights were pulsing faster and faster as time progressed. None could guess as to what that meant.

Dead Gods TombThe ruined courtyards containing shattered fountains and benches became slightly less common, but as they moved through this area a large feature that appeared to be giant skull-shaped mountain became visible. The strange, multi-colored glow was coming from the far side of the mountain. As the party moved nearer to the mountain, they realized that what appeared to be the multi-colored glow was light from six different beams of energy coming from distant structures into the skull mountain.

Before moving closer, they decided to explore the lands a bit further to the west, in hopes of not missing something important and getting a better perspective on the skull-mountain.

The Draxans
The landscape gave way to ruing battlefields covered with the remnants of wars. Rusted armor and weapons are next to skeletons on the ground that is still red with spilled blood. Some of the fallen warriors appear to still be in a state of decay. The landscape had another large circular ravine similar in depth to the others and just as obscured by a dirty haze.

Daqiq spotted a group of a half-dozen humanoids, clearly of Athasian origin. Their clothing, weapons and armor were unusual, appearing to be of an old style, but clearly new and containing metal buckles. He could not place the city-state that they might have originated from. Although Daqiq was quiet and attempting to remain unseen, the other saw him and turned. In a strange dialect, of which he only understood half the words, they ordered him and the others to join them with the supplies they had requested. Clearly the group though that the adventurers were someone else.

Thea and Jax attempted to reason with the Athasians, and learned the they were servants of the Dragon and intended to make them their slaves. Gwyn attempted to intimidate them with her draconic form, and although they were confused, they called her an imposter that would submit like all the others.

Daqiq answered back by whispering words to him bow and firing an arrow at the templar, the arrow struck true and the templar fell to the ground. The other Athasians became enraged and charged in. As they moved closer, one of the Athasians stood out from the rest – she appeared to be moving stiffly and her clothing was that of the city-state of Urik.

A fierce battle ensued with the Athasians using spells, the Way and raw skill effectively. However, without their templar, the group was no match for the battle-hardened adventurers. After the initial barrage of flame and necrotic energy, Gwyn did her best to counter their magic and was mostly successful at nullifying their abilities. Way-lynn took many hard hits from a psionically enhanced warrior and an assassin, but was kept standing by the powers of water that Banoc commanded.

The last of their opponents was the Urikite, who, upon the death of the others appeared to come out of her trance and dropped her weapons… The adventurers surrounded her and contemplated their next move…

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The Ruins of Pluton

New Allies
After a few tense moments, the survivor and party started to talk. The group learned that the Urikite warrior, a woman named Lena, had been controlled by the Draxans for quite some time. Her memories were hazy and she was unable to recall a lot of information about her past, however she claimed to have deserted the army and taken up as a freedom fighter against slavers. Although wary, the party detected no deception and they accepted her.

The group headed towards the skull-shaped mountain and entered through the mouth. The passageway descended several hundred paces and runes consistent with dragon magic were seen along the walls. The chamber the found themselves in with likewise covered with runes and from six arches, six beams of light converged on an apparatus blazing with white light. Two shattered obsidian altars, each with a statue behind it, lay in ruins on either side of the apparatus. The floor of the chamber was decorated with a large skull and crown with six empty sockets.

The party started to explore and was somewhat caught off-guard when the statues animated and attacked. Although resistant to damage, the combined strength of the party was more than enough to overcome the statues and turn them into rubble. Way-lynn’s axe was very effective at carving up the statues, as was Jax’s blade.

The party spent some time exploring the room and trying to make sense of the situation. They discovered that the beams of energy were striking the apparatus, which appeared to be suspended over an air shaft, that they could not see. They had no luck in disrupting the beams and Lena was struck twice by the green beam causing her massive headache and dulling her wit considerably. They came to believe that each of the obsidian altars were connected to the Shadow Engine and Fey Engine that Gwyn had encountered. The device in the center of the room did not appear to be of similar construction was was likely not the Astral Engine.

Having no other ideas on how to deal with the machine, they party decided to follow the beams to their source and see what they could find there. Although they were operating in the dark with regards to the purpose of the beams and devices, they all agreed that if Dregoth was using them, they should be destroyed.

Chains of Binding
The followed the green and orange beams into a new region of the land. The expanse was filled with ruined tombs, tattered clothing and the ashes from offerings burned in tribute to unknown entities. The green beam originated from a tower on the edge of the land. On an island, many hundreds of feet beyond the main land, a pyramid with visible with the orange beam issuing from it.

The tower was closer and easier and it was not difficult to reach it. It was mostly in ruins with the green beam shining from a large hole in one side. The main door was blocked by rubble likely fallen from an upper floor that was no longer there. Daqiq scouted the tower and found it filled with rubble from collapsed floors, a green gem was visible floating in air.

Chain DemonThe rubble blocking the door was easily removed, allowing access to the ruined tower. The floor was covered in rubble and rusted metal. As the party approached the floating gem, the stench of sulfur and brimstone filled the air. A rattling of metal quickly became painful as a large mass of rusted and spiked chains animated around the gem and started lashing out at the party.

The group battled the chain which attacked both physically and conjured the worst fears into the minds of the party. The stalwart adventurers were able to shake fear and push the images out of their minds as they battled the chains. The chain demon was able to resist Gwyn’s fire magic and Lena’s simple weapons were unable to harm it until Thea used her magic to enhance it. Eventually the chains collapsed as the animating entity was driven off.

Banoc tried to grab the gem without touching the beam and although he was successful, his intellect was not able to overpower the gem and he only managed to burn his hand. Daqiq was eventually successful and pried the gem out of the air. When he did so, the beam stopped immediately. The party guessed that the six gems might be keyed to different attributes and that by taking possession of all six, they might be able to foil Dregoth’s plans.

Death of an Angel
The party took cover outside the tower and tended to their wounds before heading out to search for the other gems. They were awoken by horrible coughing and retching sounds coming from Thea. It appeared that she took a turn for the worse during their rest.

She was wrapped in her wings, but pools of sick, most with blood revealed that all was not well. She uncovered herself and many of her feathers fell off her wings to the ground. Her body was covered in sweat and her skin was red and peeling. More of her hair had fallen out and numerous blisters covered he exposed flesh. With tears of pain, she looks up at the group…

“Its okay. The device gave me more time that I was supposed to have and at least I was freed from that awful place.”

“I don’t know if Dregoth will be successful in his quest, but I know that countless innocents will suffer in his attempt and that he must be stopped. I’m afraid that I wont be able to help you any longer.”

“I hope that I was able to help enough to make up for my weakness and giving Dregoth the information he needed. I only wish that I had been able to stop Torakas from staying behind. He would have most helpful in dismantling Dregoth’s last engine.”

Thea stretched out her hands to Gwyn and Banoc…

“Keep the others on the right path. I don’t know who placed such a heavy burden on your shoulders, but I believe that you’ll be able to save your world by working together and realizing the good in yourselves and others.”

Her hands clenched tightly as another fit of coughing started. When it passed, she turns to Banoc.

“Its okay. Believe in the gods, they do exist. Take my tears, perhaps they will make a powerful weapon against your foes.”

Thea took Banoc’s vial of elemental water and held it to her eyes. Several of her tears mingled with the water, which started to glow. She handed the vial back to Banoc who took it reverently.

“Its okay. It doesn’t hurt that much anymore. And soon I hope I’ll be back with Lathander.”

“Its okay… I’m ready now… Oh no!”

With that her eyes became dull and lifeless and she slowly dissolved into nothingness, with not trace of her remaining.

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The Ruins of Pluton

Wild Game
Having exhausted the staff’s power, Gwyn and the other could find now way to the island with the pyramid and decide to move further inland towards the purple light. They found the violet beam to be coming from a tower that was overgrown with vines and other plant life. Gwyn could feel the energy of the Feywild radiating from the tower.

The interior of the tower was easily accessible and consisted of a large ground floor chamber and an array of wooden platforms and walkways which provided access to the violet gem floating in the center of the tower. As they took in the sights and attempted to figure out the best way to reach the gem, a garishly dressed figure appeared out of thin air. He introduced himself as Hespotherad and insisted that the party play a game with him. He agreed to let the party retrieve the gem if they bested him in a contest call the “Cones of Dunshire” an obtuse game of strategy, bluffing, resource management and luck.

While the party played Jax learned that Hespotherad was from the Lands within the Wind and that it had continued to deteriorate despite the destruction of the Fey Engine. Hespotherad spoke of a new primordial tree of life that started to grow but recently had begun to wither. Only Gwyn knew of Elleandra’s tree of life beneath Kled, and she feared for what the dying tree might mean for her friend. Hespotherad became irrationally angry when he was out-maneuvered and even more upset when he thought the party deliberately tried to throw the game. In the end the party was able to best him and the close final score, as well as Lena intimidating presence, caused him to storm off instead of attacking the party.

Moving quickly, before he returned, the group studied the gem and felt sure that in order to master it, someone would need exceptional strength. Way-Lynn was the obvious choice and grasped the gem in his large had. Although Way-lynn was by far the strongest, there was a backlash of energy and Way-lynn was thrown back and crashed to the floor. The others rushed to his side and watched as his body contorted and began to shrink. Within moments, the once gargantuan half-giant had shrunk to the size of a halfling. After a few minutes, Way-lynn came back to consciousness and although very confused, appeared okay.

Unsure if the condition was temporary or permanent, and having no ideas on how to correct it, Way-lynn soldiered on and attempted to obtain the violet gem again. This time Way-lynn was successful and he attuned to the gem. Once again the energy beam ceased.

A Prayer For He Who Was
Island Pyramid
Back outside, Banoc said a desperate prayer and was able to summon several strange winged-creatures that they used to travel to the island with the pyramid. The creatures waited at the edge of the land although Banoc knew they would only remain for short period of time. They group entered the pyramid and followed the orange light as it reflected off of polished mirrors to go around corners. Eventually they reached a large central chamber.

The chamber had a wide pool of red liquid in the center, above which floated the orange gem. The slanted white marble walls of the chamber are decorated with corpses of numerous humanoid species. Their blood once flowed in small rivers down the walls and into the pool. In the shadows behind it, a half-dozen alcoves can be seen on the back wall of the chamber.

While the rest of the party was discussing the ominous nature of the room and trying to determine the best way to obtain the gem, Lena moved into action. Before anyone could stop her, she struck the nearest mirror with the haft of her spear and shattered it. The resulting breaks sent numerous small orange beams firing off in random directions. Way-lynn and Gwyn were hit hard and fell unconscious, nearly drained of all their vitality. Banoc and Lena were hit by a lesser strength beam and were only severely weakened.

In the chaos following the destruction of the mirror, five women emerged from the shadows. They moved unnaturally fast and had very pale skin an long fangs. Their murderous intent was obvious. Daqiq shot the lead creature with an arrow and although the aim was true, the arrow only wounded the creature. Banoc rushed to the aid of Gwyn and Way-lynn attempting to bring them back to life. The wounded creature compelled Lena to start to position herself against the wall next to the corpses and she was powerless to resist.

Gwyn and Way-lynn were able to stand and the group began a fighting retreat. They were able to lure the lesser creatures out and barely defeated the leader before her ritual was completed on Lena. Once she came to her senses, Lena was able to attune to the orange gem and took possession of it, although she was badly injured during the attempt.

A Slime Party
Heading back to the center portion of the island, the group followed the yellow beam to the mouth of a cave. As they descended into the cave, the walls became damp and dripped with a viscous slime. The rough cavern had several pools of slime and the yellow gem was floating in the air above one of the large pools. A woman was seated next to the slime pool and rose to her feet when the party entered.

The woman appeared to be a human female with long blonde hair and a shimmering, flowing blue gown made of many layers of thin cloth. She spoke in an excited tone…

“I’m so glad that you are here, there was nothing to do for the longest time. Nothing fun at all since Ania was taken away. But now that you are here you can play with Elsia!” She is clearly referring to herself in the third person. She continues, “What are we going to do?” They party made several suggestions, all of which she rejected. At last she spoke excitedly again – “Oh, of course. We can have a slime party. This will be so much fun!” As she spoke, the slime on the walls and from the pools began to move. “Woah, there is so much slime!”

The group found themselves surrounded by animated puddles and cubes of slimes that moved threateningly towards them. Elsia start to hum a tune and twirled around, a spray of slime issuing from her and striking the party members. The woman and the slimes were much harder to defeat than they looked, being resistant to most of the weapons and spells the party had prepared. Elsia was eventually struck down by Daqiq’s arrows and the slimes were burned awayed.

Banoc was able to retrieve the yellow gem of insight and the exhausted party retreated to the rusted tower to tend to their wound and get some much needed rest.

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The Ruins of Pluton

Liquid Night
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.

Reaper’s End
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.

Astral Engine
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.

Dregoth's Phylactery

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.

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City of Sails

The Astral Engine
Deep in the Ruins of Pluton the situation was dire. Jax was dead, her life snuffed out by Dregoth. Gwyn, Banoc and Lena were dying quickly for each had been battered by Dregoth and their life drained to fuel his spells. Only Way-lynn and Daqiq were standing and neither was normally one that someone would turn to fore healing.

Daqiq knew that Banoc was the key to surviving and he did his best to patch up his wounds and stabilize him, as Banoc had done many time to Daqiq in the past. Banoc’s, breathing eased and the blood stopped flowing from his wounds. Daqiq breathed a sigh of relief as it looked like he would live.

Way-lynn attempted to follow Banoc’s instructions, but the new halfling was not as successful and they were unable to make any progress towards stabilizing their dying friends. In the commotion, Lena’s life slipped away and she grew still.

Gwyn managed to find the will to keep going and she also stabilized with the help of Daqiq.

For the next several hours all Daqiq could do is wait and hope for the best. As time slowly passed he felt a wide range of emotions – hopelessness, anger, fear and more. After about two hours Gwyn slowly came back to consciousness, but Daqiq was still inconsolable at the loss of Jax. An hour or so later Banoc woke from unconsciousness and Daqiq became manic, wanting Jax brought back to life. Weakened from his near death experience, Banoc did his best to curb the mania.

Searching through the components of Absalom, Banoc discovered that he had all he needed. He proclaimed that he would be able to revive both Lena and Jax, but needed time. Waiting was not what Daqiq wanted to do, but there was little choice. After regaining his strength and meditating on the elements, Banoc used his magic to restore life to Jax and Lena – an impressive display of power.

For two more days, the party rested and regained their strength while they pondered their options for getting out of the chamber. They could find no exits or portals and there was nothing of value that survived the explosion of the dragon skull phylactery of Dregoth.

Banoc calmly announced that he could use his magic to send them back to Athas, assuming that the chamber was not warded against such magics. However, he and Gwyn felt confident that the protections on the room only prevented people from entering, not leaving. Banoc warned the group that they would travel to a Veiled Alliance safe house in the city-state of Balic and that there was no telling what they would find there.

Villa Nauripides
With a strange sensation of being immersed in cool water, Banoc’s magic transported them to a shrine to the elements of water. Banoc explained that they were beneath Villa Nauripides on the southern edge of Balic and that this was a concealed room beneath the basement of the villa. They cautiously exited and found that the villa had been ransacked leaving nothing of value and no inhabitants.

Unsure what to do or where to go, they separated and headed into the city-state to look for supplies and information. Those that needed new gear were able to procure it and there was enough gems and jewelry to obtain a large number of survival days and food for whatever journey they decided to embark on. They also gained a lot of useful information regarding current events…

Balic

  • Although it had been three weeks for Banoc, Jax and Daqiq since they left Balic, three months had passed making what little information they had horribly outdated.
  • The Veiled Alliance appeared to have been completely wiped out by a Praetor named Darian Haraxes following the raid on the Ivory Dungeon.
  • Tyr had been sacked by a mysterious gray warrior and that most of the population was stricken by some sort of plague.
  • Urik was likely going to come under siege within a few days bu the armies of Nibenay and Glug were marching to Urik’s defense. Some even whispered that the Dragon itself would be aiding the city-state.
  • Raam was still in chaos and the situation there was worsening. Rumors of the undead and dray marching on the city-state from Giustenal were plentiful.
  • The Black Spine Mountains had grown more dangerous with strange armies of well-armed gith attacking the slave tribes and anyone else who dared come too close to the mountains.
  • Gwyn felt urging from the Crown of Dust, pushing her towards the Silt Sea and the last fragment held by Ul-Athra’s consort Ehwahla.

That night they all returned to the villa and discussed what they learned and where they wanted to go.

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City of Sails

After an uneventful night in Villa Nauripides the party woke and ate together as they continued their discussion about current events. Eventually they agreed to split up and pursue several different goals simultaneously. They also agreed to meet back at the villa in the early evening and share information and devise a more coherent plan.

Hunting the Hunter
Daqiq and Jax set out to do what they did best, learn about their prey and set a plan in motion to take him out. Today their prey was the templar Darian Haraxes who was responsible for the destruction of the Veiled Alliance in Balic. After Daqiq eliminated a minor templar guard and Jax assume her persona of a minor patrician, the pair entered The Praetorium and began to investigate. Through several conversations they learned the following…

  • Since the recent election of Darian Haraxes he has been rising in influence among the ranks of the templars with his successful purge of the Veiled Alliance.
  • His campaign against the Veiled Alliance began with applying pressure to businesses and individuals who were sympathetic to the Veiled Alliance and culminated three months ago following the removal of an Alliance member from the Ivory Dungeon.
  • Haraxes likes to spend his off hours drinking at the Parched Throat in the Market Precinct. He also has a fondness for elven women.
  • Since his success, there has been an increase in the number of elf murders. There are whispers, but nobody has been able to trace it to Haraxes.
  • The monthly arena matches were set to begin in a week and many of the templars are likely to be in attendance at the games.

Armed Forces
Lena and Way-lynn headed to the Guilder’s Precinct to look for weapons, armor and information about the current events in Balic and the other city-states. Lena stuck to the shops pretending to be a soldier of fortune and Way-lynn stuck to the drinking establishments attempting to learn any information that they could. After the day was spent, they learned the following…

  • The threat of giants is believed to be a cover for other larger issues at work across the entire Tyr Region, as the crops are not ready for harvesting and that is the time for the normal incursions by giants from the Sea of Silt.
  • Darian Haraxes spent a lot of good money hiring mercenaries to rough up merchants and shop owners who might be sympathetic to the Veiled Alliance. This undermining of their support structure helped to bring about their eradication.
  • The upcoming games at The Criterion will feature a week-long event with many different daily events and registration will begin in a few days. The matches are deadly but have the potential to make the winners rich. The most influential templars and Andropinis himself usually attend the games near the end of the week.
  • The Wounded Lirr, an inn, is a reputable location and Lena requested information about the availability of high-quality weapons be sent there for her.

Transportation
Gwyn traveled to the Elven Market outside the Agora, to try and gather information about passage out of the city to the deep Sea of Silt. She found that the market was really a collection of peddlers and not a permanent establishment like the one in Nibenayshe grew up in. She was shocked at how shabby the merchandise was and for once realized why the elves had such a poor reputation. After carefully observing, she made contact with Karis, of the Wind Dancer tribe, and learned the following…

  • Those looking for transportation out of the city via the Sea of Silt should go to the Furled Sail in the Harbor Precinct.
  • The days of relatively easy access to the silt dromonds is over and all the under heavy guard in the Arsenal.
  • The pirates, smugglers and merchant ships with psionically powered vessels stay away from Balic for fear of their ships being commandeered. As such only silt skimmers are available for hire.

The Veiled Alliance
Balic Slums Banoc went searching for any signs of surviving members of the Veiled Alliance. He was not hopeful, given the efficiency of the eradication, but there were some newer members, Sestus for one, who might have escaped based on their relatively unknown status. The Elven Market did not turn up any clues but he did find Sestus at the Sandtiger’s Tail, a seedy establishment used from time to time as a meeting point for Alliance members.

Although both men were somewhat reluctant to divulge too much information, Banoc was convinced that Sestus was a good man. As they talked, Banoc learned the following…

  • During the purge the veiled alliance cells were systematically compromised and eliminated. The Alliance attempted to reorganize and scatter, but the templars were too efficient.
  • Darian Haraxes had already laid a foundation in the businesses and applied pressure to discover the new cells.
  • Rumors persisted that some of the Alliance members are being held in the Ivory Dungeon, but nobody knows for sure.
  • Sestus was attending a meeting at the Nauripdes Villa when it was attacked. He was knocked out early in the fight and does not know what happened to Zaethias or Venithia. He is certain that he saw Ramphion taken down by the templars.
  • Sestus has been hiding for the last few months and only just now started venturing out to look for other Alliance members.
  • There is a meeting of Alliance sympathizers in the ruins of Mount Laeron and Sestus wanted Banoc to be there as a face of the Alliance and to provide hope. Banoc would not commit to the meeting as he wanted to check with his companions.

Assassination
Jax and the others returned to the Villa while Daqiq stalked his prey inside the Parched Throat. After discussing the situation they agreed to head over to the Parched Throat and see if they couldn’t take out Haraxes tonight. While the others were at a nearby tavern, Jax assumed the form of an elven woman and went into the Parched Throat. This was not her and Daqiq first set-up and it worked well.

Darian Haraxes took a liking to Jax and after a while he suggested that they leave and go some place more quiet. Daqiq had set himself up on a nearby roof and was waiting to ambush the praetor. As the pair came out, and Daqiq drew his bow, something alerted the praetor to trouble and he quickly cast a protective spell, Daqiq’s arrow hit and hit hard, but the spell absorbed most of the damage. The fight became more complicated as two other rooftop assassins, likely guards of the praetor, started firing at Jax. Jax summoned her Sword of Tyr and she and Daqiq manged to finish off the praetor. There was a brief chase and exchange of arrows, but the other assassins were defeated.

Lena and the others arrived to help clean up and they put the praetor’s body in Gwyn’s bag. Feeling pleased with the justice they dispensed, the group was also suddenly rather nervous and eager to leave the city before they were found out. At Gwyn’s suggestion they headed to the Furled Sail to attempt find a way out of Balic and onto the Sea of Silt.

Fleeing the City
At the Furled Sail, Jax assumed the form of Darian Haraxes and stayed off to the side with Gwyn. Daqiq kept his distance acting as a look out in case they were followed. The rest made contact with Regulus, the captain of a silt skimmer who was available and able to take people out of the city with no questions asked. Unfortunately, although he was willing, his price was too high and he couldn’t be talked down to a an amount that the party could afford. However, there was another, more dangerous option – to steal a silt dromond from the Arsenal.

Regulus agreed to provide the crew for the ship, including a psion who would be able to power the helm and take the party into the Sea of Silt. The party agreed to steal the vessel and give it to Regulus. They decided the best course of action would be for Jax (still in the form of Darian Haraxes), Gwyn (posing as his companion) and Daqiq (in the templar guard attire) to make their way into the Arsenal. They felt that they could allow the others, Regulus and his crew into the Arsenal and steal a ship.

Given the urgency, they immediately headed for the Arsenal…

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City of Sails

Infiltrating the Arsenal
Jax (still in the form of Darian Haraxes), Gwyn (still posing as Darian’s companion for the evening) and Lena made their way towards the Arsenal. Trusting in Jax’s ability to convincingly play the part of the templar, they simply marched up to one of the gates and demanded entrance. Although there was a little confusion about the unorthodox nature of an inspection so early in the morning and the presence of an elf companion, the gate guards decided not to question the powerful templar and allowed them in.

As Gwyn passed but the gate captain, she his face and thought for a moment that he was Kelvor! The resemblance was very striking, but she knew that he was lost in Moil to the Tortured Vestige. She tried to get the captains attention in a subtle way, but he either did not notice or did not recognize Gwyn. They moved on quickly to avoid suspicions, but Gwyn was very curious about this other “Kelvor”.

The group began to search along the wall of the Arsenal for an ideal spot to help the others over. The Arsenal was well guarded and the walls were tall making the search difficult. Eventually the settled on an out-of-the-way spot that appeared to be slightly less guarded than the rest. There they waited for their friends to arrive.

Old Friends and New Enemies
Daqiq, Way-Lynn and Banoc accompanied Regulus and his crew through the Harbor Precinct towards the Arsenal. They didn’t know how long it would take for their friends to get in and find a spot, so they waited in an area that provided a good view for Daqiq. The rest tried to be as inconspicuous as possible for a group of over forty people.

While they were waiting Banoc saw his Veiled Alliance friend Sestus nearby and the two had a brief conversation. Banoc explained that the city was no longer safe for himself and his friends and, trusting Sestus, confessed to killing Darian Haraxes. Sestus was confused and shocked to hear the Praetor responsible for the virtual destruction of the Veiled Alliance was now dead. Banoc was likewise confused and shocked when Sestus turned on him and attacked, backed up by assassins and thugs.

Banoc took numerous injuries before his allies could come to his aid. He survived but Sestus did not, falling victim to several of Daqiq’s arrows. The thugs stood their ground and were likewise dispatched, however, the assassins stayed in the shadows and not even Daqiq could find them until they were almost out of range. Daqiq and Lena’s crodlu gave chase, but the assassin disappeared from sight.

With the assassin likely reporting in, the sense of urgency was even greater than before. Luckily, not long after the fight had concluded, Daqiq spotted his allies and the two groups joined back up. Through combination of Way-lynn’s massive strength and Banoc’s intuition about the patrols, the majority of the group was able to scale the wall quickly. Jax was able to distract the one patrol that got too close and the rest of the crew got over the wall with help from Daqiq to keep them in the shadows and out of sight.

The Heist
Daqiq and some of the crew went up ahead quickly and quietly to scout out a ship and hopefully start to prepare it for departure. Deciding that one ship was as good as the next, they moved to the closest dromond and started to make the adjustments to the rigging. Regulus’ crew was experienced, and this vessel was considerably better maintained, and they appeared to have no trouble.

Silt Dromond

A commotion from below deck stopped Daqiq cold – apparently the ship still had crew aboard and the activities above deck drew their attention. Doing their best to hide, Daqiq and his scouts could do nothing but wait…

Hoping they had given Daqiq enough time, the rest of the party and crew started to move out. Luck appeared to be against them as they ran into a Legionary patrol lead by the gate captain, who resembled Kelvor. Gwyn, determined to not let the opportunity slip by again addressed the captain as “Dravus” (Kelvor’s real name) while using her talent with the Way to try and determine if he was a human or something less natural. To her surprise, he did appear to be human, but her allies, except for Lena, all appeared to be undead. There was no time to explore this, but she wondered if it had something to do with the long time they had spent in the Gray.

The captain, spit at the mention of the name Dravus, who was his brother. The captain believed that Dravus had abandoned his city, his post and his family and was a traitor. Gwyn tried to convince him that that wasn’t the case and told him of how he had been subjected to horrible experiments by Tethrades and had to flee to save himself. She also told of how he had sacrificed himself to protect his friends and that he was a hero. All of the conversation appeared to shake the captains sense of reality and he was visibly having trouble processing the information. Jax was easily able to use this confusion to convince him to let the group pass without further delays.

They arrived at the silt dromond just as its crew was about to find Daqiq. Quickly Jax tried to convince them that this was a readiness drill and that he needed to take the ship out quickly. The officer appeared to believe Jax, but was required to verify the command while the prepared the ship – a new protocol. Banoc used his gift with the Way to charm the officer into believing that it wasn’t needed, and to their relief, the officer agreed. Less than 20 minutes later, the vessel was heading away from the dock, the City of Sails starting to grow smaller…

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