What Lies Beneath

V3C19-22 An Old Friend


Setting Out
The fourth chapter of their quest found our heroes departing Aerenal for a much-desired return to Khorvaire. Three of the Destiny Arms were now in their possession: Fortune’s Grace, Prophecy’s Forge, and Eternity’s Reach. The trip had cost them dearly, however, as their friends Angladen and Rooster had perished on the elven continent and Gildor had learned some very disturbing truths about himself.

After a brief stopover in Sharn to recuperate and plan their next move, our heroes decided that they would venture to the Eldeen Reaches next, in pursuit of the Nemesis Blade. Before doing so, however, Gildor spent some time talking with the elders of Sharn’s kalashtar community, hoping to gain some information about Hope’s Aegis, believed to lie in far-off Sarlona. Hanamelk, the head of the kalashtar community, was reluctant to speak much about his homeland to this stranger, but a younger warrior by the name of Selkatari offered to travel with Gildor for a time and assess his character. Grudgingly accepting her company, the group departed.

Journeying to the Reaches would be:
Gildor Galathil (S.Dave) – Elven adventurer, recently discovered to be the last heir of House Vol and the Mark of Death
Sunrock (Marble) – Halfling druid, he claims to have been sent on this mission by Eberron Herself
Thomas Thorne (Lackey) – Shifter monk, eager to get back to Khorvaire
Thane d’Cannith (Deering) – Human artificer, wielder of Prophecy’s Forge
Liara Ghostmantle d’Phiarlan – Elven bard, entertainer, and information broker, accompanied the party through Aerenal and fought beside them at Lake Dark
Selkatari – Kalashtar soulknife, traveling with the party to see if their intentions towards her people are as pure as they claim
Grimlock -A smallish tyrannosaurus, Sunrock’s former animal companion now granted supernatural intelligence


The Reaches

Casting a greater teleport spell, Thane whisked them away, only to find the magics had gone horribly awry and scattered the party throughout the Reaches. Thane, Liara, and Selkatari had been transported to Greenheart, the capitol of the Reaches, while Sunrock, Gildor, and Grimlock arrived at the burned out and desecrated ruins of a druidic circle and Thomas was dropped yet further into the woods. Stopping briefly in Greenheart to rest, Thane scried upon his friends and cast another teleport spell to catch up with them….

Investigating the horrible carnage that had befallen the druid circle, Sunrock, Gildor, and Grimlock encountered a feral shifter ranger named Garm, who was seeking those responsible. Our heroes agreed to assist him in tracking down those responsible, and set off, collecting Thomas along the way. For two days they tracked those responsible, pausing briefly at the villains’ campsite from the night before to bury a young druidess the fiends had brought along to have some “fun” with. When they finally did catch up, our heroes set upon the foe with a brutal fury, killing two of the four almost before they could wake. The two remaining foes, a massive human clad in dragonscale armor and a slender elven assassin, made use of a staff to teleport away before they could be made to join their companions in the ground.

Rifling through the possessions of the slain and fled, the party discovered two items of considerable interest. One was a perfect copy of the Forked Path, the book of prophecy that had guided their quest so far. The other was a collection of dossiers on nearly everyone involved in the quest – Saarus, Edgar, the Vornn sisters, Thane, Gildor, Thomas, Sunrock, Angladen, Rooster, Fenian, Alexander, and even Tytalos. Surprisingly up to date, it covered a great deal of information that was not common knowledge. Someone knew far more about the party then they should, and it would seem the foes they had just slain were there specifically for the Nine.

It was at this time that Thane’s teleport spell delivered him, Selkatari, and Liara to the rest of the party, a full twelve hours after he had cast it. Something was very, very wrong with transport magics. Looking over the portion of the prophecy pertaining to the Nemesis Blade, and speaking with Garm a bit, the adventurers determined that the artifact likely lay in the Gloaming, a place where the walls to Mabar were so thin that one could pass directly into the Plane of Eternal Night if one was not careful. A twisted sect of druids called the Children of Winter made their homes nearby, for their to their insane beliefs it was a holy place. The ranger agreed to take them to the place, but no further – he wanted nothing to do with that unnatural tear in the planes. Not trusting teleportation, the party opted to use Sunrock’s Air Walk spell to travel to the outskirts of the Gloaming. Skirting or killing patrols of Children of Winter, the party made their way through the 15 miles of to the center of the Gloaming, progressing ever deeper into the darkness.

After a battle with a high druid outside a cave near the heart of the Gloaming, the party went in to investigate and found a long tunnel leading into absolute black. When they emerged, it was on to a vast, desolate plain in the darkest night. Not a single star shone in the sky, not one of the twelve moons could be seen. They had left Eberron behind completely, and stepped into Mabar. In the far distance a castle burned on a hill – the sole landmark in this benighted realm.


An Old Friend

Slowly, the party made its way through the darkness, doing battle with various horrors of the night along the way. When they arrived at the castle, they found a sprawling complex in utter ruin, the demonic inhabitants lying slain all about. Some fifty to a hundred demons lay strewn throughout the castle grounds, and the great doors had been blasted completely clear of their hinges. In the center stood a great tower, fire still licking out of its uppermost windows.

Venturing into the tower, the companions first ventured into the lower depths, prodded on by piteous screams and cries of woe. There they found a vast and monstrous torture chamber, filled with all manner of horrors. Demon and mortal alike had met gruesome and terrible ends here, and though nothing remained alive within this hall, still the screams echoed throughout.

Ascending, they came across more masses of dead demons. Whoever had come through here had been very, very thorough and very, very dangerous. At the top they found a magical laboratory, fires still burning throughout from the assault. Upon extinguishing the flames, two items stood out – a massive chest bound in adamantine, and a long table completely untouched by the flames. Within the chest they found a stack of large gray crystals containing the souls of scores of people – likely a form of currency in this hell. Set into the table was an indentation in the shape of a sword. Almost certainly, the Nemesis Blade had been here but a few short hours ago.

As the party prepared to depart the castle and track whoever now held the Blade, they were beset by a band of demons teleporting into the courtyard. The battle was swift, but exceedingly brutal, and both Thomas and Gildor very nearly joined the mass of corpses strewn throughout the courtyard.Using Sunrock’s magical divinations to guide them, the party headed out into the night, following after their quarry. How long htey qalked, non can say for sure, for there was no true way to mark the time in this endless night. Eventually, though, they spotted brief flashes of light on a distant hill, and made their way there with a quickness.

Upon their arrival, they were greeted by a mound of dead demons, and a single robed form burning the last surviving demon into a charred mess. As the form stood and turned, Thane, Liara, and Gildor drew in their collective breath. Tytalos stood before them, but he was a very changed man from their comrade of old. His skin was pale and gaunt, his bald pate now covered in a mass of long stringy hair. Darkness and shadow covered his skin, madness shone in his eyes, and when he spoke, the tone reverberated unnaturally. Convinced those before him were illusions sent to torture him further, he struck, blasting at the party with eldritch lightning and fire. His assault did not last long, for he soon found himself firmly wedged in Grimlock’s cavernous maw and told to act civilly lest the dinosaur be forced to eat him.

When both Thane and Tytalos were convinced the other was truly who they seemed, their reunion was joyous, if still a bit cautious. According to Tytalos, when he arrived, he had been rendered unconscious. He awoke in a castle much like the one they had just come from, tortured for the sport of the demonic inhabitants. Roivan ir’Vendross, the Rakshasa from Lake Dark, was still here, and had gathered a sizable power base. It was Roivan, not Tytalos, who had annihilated the previous castle and taken the Nemesis Blade.


An Old Enemy

With Tytalos to guide them, the party made their way to the fortress Roivan had claimed for his own. The place was swarming with demons, but our heroes were determined to gain entrance and claim the Nemesis Blade for their own. Gildor and Liara scouted ahead, and upon their return reported that there was no clear way over or through the walls. Not one to let a little thing like that stop him, Sunrock promptly transformed into an earth elemental and tunneled beneath the walls and wards while the party hid inside Thane’s portable hole.

Emerging just below the main tower, the party quickly ascended. At the top they found Roivan’s laboratory, along with some 30 demonic guards. There was no sign of the rakshasa, however. Releasing a blast of fire throughout the room, Tytalos made short work of many of the foot soldiers while the others concentrated on the more powerful demons. Striking from invisibility, Roivan unleashed his own potent magical blasts upon the party, gravely wounding some, stripping the magics from many, and nearly reducing Tytalos to a gibbering fool. In the end, though, the mighty rakshasa was no match for our heroes, particularly with several of the Destiny Arms in hand. Victory was only fleeting however, for by killing him here, they had only returned him to Eberron. There was little doubt in anyone’s mind that they would see Roivan ir’Vendross again ere this quest was done.

With the rakshasa and his demonic minions dead, the party was free to investigate the laboratory. The Nemesis Blade was unmistakable, a shining rapier of magnificent construction, covered in draconic imagery and glyphs. As the party looked to one another, Liara looked down at the rapier at her belt – her weapon of choice. “Well, shit. And here I was hoping to just be a tag-a-long on this.” So saying, she grasped the blade in her hand, and the all-too-familiar images flooded the minds of those who possessed the artifacts.

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Shyft

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