Siliceous

Fortunes, Cults, or Prophecies?
Fortunes, Cults, or Prophecies?

Kissandi trailed the kenku, following him to two dive bars. At the second the jenku tried to sneak out during a bar fight, now involving him. Kissandi was able to track and follow him. This led her to a unlit back alley where she saw the Kenku talk with another humanoid. Kissandi was able to use the hat of disguise and pretend to be a drunkard in the alleyway to convince the kenku that nothing was amiss.

At dawn the next morning, Kissandi broke her meditation to follow the kenku, who was climbing stealthily from rooftop to rooftop to a secret meeting in the market with the butcher. Kissandi was again able to use the hat of disguise and a good bluff to make the butcher believe that she was the kenku and found a way to get him to give her the address of their contact.

Kissandi travelled to a much better part of Lambasa, where she saw the three story home with two guards. She staked it out and watched. When she saw the butcher approaching, she used a visage of the Raven Queen to scare him senseless. She was able to enter the building and found a snake-man (some type of yuan-ti, looking almost mummified) writing notes and paging through a book.

Kissandi, now with her allies along, used the hat of disguise a third time to be the butcher and try to pass the guards. It took some doing, but she scared the guards senseless as they fled, but not before warning who was inside.

Confronting Nsi, the yuan-ti, after Kissandi led an attack, the group decided to stop fighting and talk to Nsi. The heroes used their charm, wit, and sheer will to learn that Nsi seemed to be a lead informant about the coming Far Realm apocolypse. He wants to convert those who will listen to Zehir.

Tyzzer was nearly singed when he tried to look at Nsi’s log, but Rowena was able to spend a couple hours reading it and discerned that this group had made many markings at recent locations in Lambasa, and around the globe. Also, the teleporting Temple of Zehir that some in the group had visited earlier may be an escape from this world, if indeed the world is lost to the effects of the Far Realm.

Arriving very late to their meeting with PR III, the group saw the abandoned barn in the distance starting to go up in flame. Bui, recognizing very quickly that this likely meant PR III was in trouble with the Imix cultists, told the group and Tyzzer urged the heroes to hustle to his aid.

The heroes made fairly short work of the Imix cultists, learning in the battle that PR III was quite a fighter. Kissandi led the charge to minimizing Mulligan Finch. Rowena was unscathed by the flames of battle. Kissandi led the charge into the burning part of the building to attack a fire archon who appeared to be trying to escape. PR III finished the archon off. No Imix cultists escaped. This seemed very important to PR III, who did not want word of this internal battle to spread back to others in the cult.

Rowena was given PR III’s notes and she made a portal to a small hut in Rhendlich, the home of Zigana, the fortune teller. She said, “The world as we know is part of a thread that has been pulled taught. An unknown force is trying to fray this thread. Whether that force succeeds or not, there are ways to survive…none will come easy.”

She continued, “you come seeking my advice. I must know you better first. Humor me, show me who you are, and play this game.” She, with the help of seasoned Nanuk-teacher Kissandi, taught the others how to play. Zigana dominated the game with Bui coming in second. The group worked together at times as hunters or doomsayers, but at other times split up.

After the game, Zigana closed her eyes for longer than a blink, and then seemingly without opening her eyes, radiant blue light shone out from her eye sockets. Bui remembered seeing this before with the Architect. He has seen the world in this type of light since that experience.

Zigana started chanting incomprehensible words. Reflexively all joined in the chant. Eventually the words became comprehensible and the group chanted this over and over:

End of Winter

Over the still world, a bird calls
waking solitary among black boughs

You wanted to be born; I let you be born.
When has my grief ever gotten
in the way of your pleasure?

Plunging ahead
into the dark and light at the same time
eager for sensation

as though you were some new thing, wanting
to express yourselves

all brilliance, all vivacity

never thinking
this would cost you anything,
never imagining the sound of my voice
as anything but part of you-

you won’t hear it in the other world,
not clearly again,
not in birdcall or human cry,

not the clear sound, only
persistent echoing
in all sound that means good-bye, good-bye-

the one continuous line

that binds us to each other.


Everyone returned to their senses and began discussing what this means.

Zigna draws out some cards and begins to splay them out…

Next time, we will finish the meeting with Zigana, and then to go see the dragons (possibly without PR III). After this we plan to work to end this threat from the Far Realm on our world.

It is now sometime on the day of April 30, 994.

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A Threat From Beyond This World
A Threat From Beyond This World

The night started as planned. It was late on April 27, 994 when all of our detective work began to pay off.

Kissandi felt the statue vibrating and heard it buzzing in the center of the graveyard. Rowena’s bird circled the sky looking for clues. Bui held tight on the dark side of the temple roof. Tyzzer heard a scraping noise behind him in the temple.

A dull necrotic light emitted from the statue and a group of 3 ghostly figures approaching leading a cultist of Orcus.

The battle between Kissandi, Bui, and Rowena and Orcus’ force ensued while Tyzzer intimidated the kenku scrawler in the temple.

Every lightning attack by Rowena seemed to trigger the statue to crackle with electric energy. The statue later began to animate and simultaneously emit blue mist that became more and more thick.

Bui’s immortal presence seemed to confound the enemy, not allowing them to damage Kissandi or Rowena.

Kissandi held the entire Orcus force away from the statue and away from her allies as she attacked.

Tyzzer saw the kenku had drawn the same triangular rune on the altar in the temple. The kenku kept saying things in various sounds and languages. Eventually Tyzzer got this out of him “it is the time, the time is here…there is no turning back” as Tyzzer understood the kenku to be trying to spread word of the end of times.

4 Angels of Sorrow and another Angel associated with the Raven Queen descended. The Angels of Sorrow tore apart the already injured Orcus cult leader. The last of insubstantial enemies fled at this point.

To Bui and Rowena, it appeared the angels only were there but a second. However, Kissandi felt their presence for longer as she spoke with them. The lead angel told Kissandi that She is missing, and that there is much more at stake here than Orcus, we need help. The lead angel said they would return to the Shadowfell to find Her, and that Kissandi needed to find out more about what is happening and to lead in dealing with this new and unexpected threat.

After Kissandi destroyed the Chillsparks from the Far Realm, led by Rowena, the heroes sealed the rift created in the statue that seemed to be an opening from the Far Realm.

The kenku was questioned. Kissandi said the best way to gain more knowledge of what is happening is to let the kenku free and to trail him. That is what she did while the others went to the abandoned barn on the outskirts of Lambasa to meet PRIII. On this night, Kissandi followed the kenku to the slums in town, but learned no more of the new threat.

In the meeting with PRIII, PR III said overwhelming evidence and witnesses had been found directly linking Goodwell to the murder of the Lambasan Crow and compelling evidence had been uncovered that Goodwell has a cozy alliance with Adalaentar. PR III (Flame Brother) said the bad news is that does not matter right now because the world we seek to change for the better is torn.

A discussion of this new threat from the Far Realm ensues. PR III says there is evidence of Far Realm beings entering the world in various locations in Terkent, Rhendlich, and Mar-Dir. He says this could undo the world as we know it.

In the discussion, the heroes and PR III question why the war between the gods has ramped up of late and what must be done. PR III is questioned about why he is aligned with evil forces. He says all will have a role. One god does not rule supreme nor hold sway over what is best for the world. He both praises and questions Imix.

PR III is still interested and expecting to share the Deluvian Hourglass with Tyzzer. Tyzzer is not ready to honor this commitment yet.

PR III says he and the heroes need to gain more knowledge of how to deal with this new threat. He says he has someone, a Seer name Zigana, that he wants to get counsel with and invites the heroes to go with him. He also sees the wisdom in the heroes (and possibly him) meeting with the dragons for more wisdom. He believes all sources that can help should be consulted. The heroes agree.

Next time, we plan to regather the party, and meet with PR III on the night of April 28, 994 to travel to meet Zigana, and then to go see the dragons (likely without PR III). After this we plan to work to end this threat from the Far Realm on our world.

It is now early morning, pre-dawn on April 28, 994.

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Concern for the Capital
Concern for the Capital

April 25, 994

The attacks from Adalaentar have stopped. The storm dies down.

There is confusion and some chaos amongst those who defended Castle Locathah.

Somehow we have returned to this scene. Could the hourglass have brought us back here?

There is confusion. Tyzzer and Bui talk to the Silver Hand that remain. Sarax is gone. Tyzzer asks who will lead? Lyrie Akenja does not know yet. Tyzzer and Bui convince more to unite in the aftermath of Sarax’s dip into insanity (killing of Nan and condemnation of Tyzzer over using Mani the boxer as a messenger to the secret organization).

Kissandi arrives during the calm after the storm. There are questions about her arrival. She serves the Raven Queen, but is concerned that she could not find her god in the Shadowfell as she expected. Perhaps there will be clues in this dimension.

Bui figures out that they are in the northern King’s Mountains, on the coast. Eventually the group teleported to their flying tower. The four set out on the flying tower back to Lambasa.

Descending behind the gates of Lambasa, Kissandi spots zombies in a graveyard and flies to the attack. Over the next couple days, the group meets with Elrilmarioum at the University (Roweana), Mike, a trusted town guard (Tyzzer & Bui), and deal out death to more undead (Kissandi).

The heroes learn of guard patrols being used for regular crime, while outsiders (mostly elf brigades) are being sent to deal with the undead and the fire cultists (Imix).

Kissandi tries to figure out what is leading the rise of undead in Lambasa. She finds triangular patterned symbols in a recently defaced shrine to Corellon.

Rowena studies at the university trying to put together information to help the group. A note arrives from PR III (signed FB – short for Flame Brother) to set up a meeting.

Later Bui & Tyzzer meet with Van de Vries and tell him that he is not doing his job. He clearly feels threatened by the heroes and is not trusted by them.

All turn their attention to piecing together clues about the rise of the undead and where the next hit may be. Kissandi gathers clues from her two nights of slaughtering undead in the city. Tyzzer talks to town guards for more information. Rowena looks for details in written works. Bui uses his street smarts to discern patterns on the map. Together the group is able to uncover a pattern.

The timing expected is the same night as the proposed meeting with PR III outside of town. Bui uses a ritual twice to communicate with PR III. The group is expected to with him later that night, even if they arrive late.

The group sets up at a location of worship, with images of many gods in the cathedral and a large field of gravestones.

It is night. Kissandi hides by the central statue. Rowena is on an adjacent street, her bird flying and trying to see into the pockets of streetlight. Bui is on the roof of the cathedral, away from the moonlight, keeping a lookout. Tyzzer peers out of the opened doors of the cathedral.

Kissandi feels a buzzing and senses vibrations in the statue. Bui, Rowena, and Kissandi see various patches of ground move, as though something or someone is emerging from the graves below. A little later Tyzzer hears a sound behind him, a scraping. He turns to see a hooded figure with stone or metal scraping into a statue about 60-70’ away. A light (looks arcane and/or necrotic to Kissandi) approaches the statue from the opposite side as the cathedral.

Initiative:
Kissandi 35
Rowena 30
Bui 27
Tyzzer 18

It is now night on April 27, 994. It is dark outside.

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Heart of Darkness
Heart of Darkness

The White Wizard was interested in Scathe’s offering and he skeletal hand.

The internal struggle to fight the White Wizard or to parlay and offer him information he sought was coming to a boil.

Xabier wanted to reconcile with the spirit of his brother.

Kal Kathier wanted to return to Athas to help his world.

Scathe wanted a return to her former party.

Shivon sought a way out of the Shadowfell and back to the Feywild.

Kissandi servant of the Raven Queen sought an end to undeath, including the White Wizard.

For a time, the White Wizard vanished and was gone.

Shivon’s POV of the White Wizard Encounter:

“A few weeks ago, I met an odd confluence of characters who had all recently found themselves in the Shadowfell. Having suffered this place for over a year myself, I knew that they were in for the worst experience of their lives.

One of these characters stood out among the others — an elf named Kissandi, a fanatic of the Raven Queen. She promised a way out of the Shadowfell, and although I was skeptical, my desperation led me to follow this woman. That was a bad decision.

Kissandi has led us on a straight path to the most desolate, forsaken place in this desolate, forsaken plane. Through sheer force of will she was able to bully us into believing in her quest, but now we see that she had only her own goals in mind, never those of the rest of us.
Confronting the lich known as the White Wizard is an experience I hope never to repeat — at least not without a squad of Eladrin soldiers behind me. Our group quickly realized that combat with the Wizard was futile, with the only possible outcome being our deaths. When offered the option of a parlay, we acquiesced. Kissandi, however, blind to any common sense by her mad faith in the Raven Queen, would not be stopped. The lich had the power to give each of us what we sought, yet would not consider discussion until the frantic elf was quelled. It was clear that if left to her own devices, Kissandi would kill herself by tossing herself heedlessly over and over against the impenetrable wall of this lich’s defenses. Out of a combination of our own self-preservation and care for Kissandi, our group wrestled her into submission.

The lich was amused by my apparent zest in performing this action and proposed a deal. If I would fight Kissandi in his area, he would tell me how to leave the Shadowfell. As Kissandi had proven that she had no desire to help the rest of us, I felt no compunction against this agreement. The lich transported us to his arena where the battle was to take place. I was at peace with what was to happen — I would either earn my way out of the Shadowfell or die in my efforts. Kissandi, however, once again showed little honor in her approach to the fight. She immediately fell to her knees, dropped her sword, and asked me to kill her. I am a soldier and not a murderer, so initially it did not even cross my mind to follow through with her request. But Kissandi’s pleas became more urgent, and I thought of myself. Kissandi’s unwavering faith in the Raven Queen is unquestionable; if she was ready to put her life in the hands of her god, who was I to deny her this? I did not understand completely, but who would understand if we were in the Feywild and I asked another to throw my body over a mountain cliff, trusting completely in Melora’s plan for me? So I drove my sword through Kissandi’s throat.

My companions, not understanding that this is what Kissandi wanted, charged in to heal her thinking I had just turned on them. Admittedly, I did not help this perception when, in order to stop the cleric, I had the slayer attack her. The cleric went down (a condition I planned to keep temporary, just until Kissandi finished bleeding out), but the slayer charged and attacked me. I was able to convince him that the lich, not I, was his enemy, and that Kissandi wished for death, but before he rampaged off toward the White Wizard, he stabilized the dying elf. I decided to leave her in this state; again, I am not a murderer.

The White Wizard, after revoking his promise to send me home, continued to treat us as his playthings, summoning two golems and a swarm of giant wasps. Seeing his power and endless resources, I realized that this was likely where I was going to die. And understanding this, I decided to go out fighting. Giving the cleric a psychic boost and rallying her spirits enough that she could rejoin the fray and decide her own fate, I charged the golems. The cleric must have further healed Kissandi; unfortunately, she was not able to give the capricious elf any common sense and her first action was to stab me in the back with her falchion while I was engaged with the golems. (This is how she repays me for granting her ultimate wish, yet the others still see me as the disloyal one.) Just before the battle turned completely against us, the lich again offered a parlay if we lay down our weapons. I decided to live another day and avoid dying so far from my god. Kissandi, however, would not.

To all of our surprise, as it seemed like we would never see the light of day again, we were pulled through dimensions and returned to the lich’s library, now restored to its former state. The group was shaken and willing to discuss options. But Kissandi stormed out of the library like a stubborn child. Upon reaching the top of the tower, and without hesitation, she leaped into the air. Another act of blind faith I assume. After scaling down the tower in a more conventional way, our group decided to part ways, agreeing that each of us would be better alone.

The Eladrin from the land he calls Athas, offered to remain in my company if I would return to his land with him. At first, this offer held no interest to me; however, he explained that he wished to restore his land to its former fecund beauty. I recognized this as a calling from Melora, goddess of Nature, to bring her glory back to a land that has lost touch with her. I vowed to return to Athas with Kal Kathier to do the work of my goddess."

Xabier’s account: “Lies! Everyone in this place tells me lies! That vile dead creature tells me that I should not believe what I’ve heard in the library, that I should listen to him. He will not tell me anything of my brother unless I help him destroy the winged one I travel with. No matter, I will destroy her so that I may learn about my brother and the dealings he had, and why he haunts me now. Still I don’t trust him, I will stop Kissandi and the wench Shivon, when the wizard tells me what I will want to hear, I will destroy him as well. I will stand by his side as a trusted ally until such time that my ax will want to taste whatever flesh and blood may still be contained by him. When I am through I will escape this terrible place and go back to find Tyzzer. Regardless of how many of my companions fall I will have the answers that I seek.”

Once returned to the top of the tower, Kissandi saw two sorrowsworn reapers and followed them out the window. Not able to fly like them, she let her wings bring her safely to the base of the tower. The other four heroes saw a glimpse of the backs of the sorrowsworn, unsure of what it was Kissandi was following.

Kissandi’s account: "It is finally confirmed. The Raven Queen WANTS me to continue on. I should not have tested her as I did. But it is done. She has sent certain allies to assist me. These are Tyzzer, Bui and Xabier. I must take him and leave this land to return to the other two asap. Unless the Raven Queen sends me a sign. "

At the bottom of the tower, the group parted ways – Kal Kathier convincing Shivon to the help in Athas to revitalize Feywild there and Scathe and Xabier following Kissandi at least for now. To leave, they still had the tall task of saving Sunderheart first…

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The Wizard in the White Tower (part 2)
The Wizard in the White Tower (part 2)

The noise came up from the stairs below. Something was ascending from level 5 of the tower.

All, but Scathe ran to the spiral stairwell to meet it. “Stand down!” was heard from below. The heroes charged into battle against enlarged gnoll-like creatures and the Blackheart, a wizard with a strong will and some bite in his spells. Xabier critically crashed his axe blade into one of the Blackhearts guards.

Kal Kathier and Shivon fey stepped past the guards to the Blackheart and the battle ensued. After one of the guards was killed, Kal Kathier was knocked unconscious amidst a whirling dervish move he made. Scathe immediately revived him.

Scathe continued to walk amongst the wounded, healing and empowering better defenses against this evil attack. The Blackheart began to convince some in the group that they would fall to the White Wizard, even if they defeated the Blackheart and would become controlled by the White Wizard together.

Shivon and Kal Kathier continued to use their powers of movement to swap places with their allies, sometimes bringing Xabier up to level a deadly blow and sometimes returning into the fray to the surprise of their enemy. Kissandi isolated foes and carefully prepared them to meet the Raven Queen.

After the guards were destroyed it was only a matter of time before the Blackheart fell, too.

The heroes, wounded and tired, ascended the stairs in hopes of resting in the library. Before reaching the top of the stairs, each character received a deathly visage from the White Wizard, each seeing or foreseeing his/her own death at the hands of the White Wizard, and feeling the loss of what could have been or what went wrong.

After these harrowing moments, the heroes reached the top of the stairwell to witness the White Wizard waiting for them. The bookcases that remained standing all collapsed like dominoes away from the White Wizard.

Kal Kathier tried to parlay with the White Wizard who seemed to be offering a chance to leave if the heroes were to share something that he deemed useful. Before the parlay could go far, Kissandi and Xabier dashed forward into battle, Kal Kathier was unable to stop them.

Kal Kathier, Shivon, and Scathe were not convinced to attack. After one attack Xabier received a vision that gave him pause from attack. Kissandi was stunned by the White Wizard.

More discussion followed. Shivon tried unsuccessfully so far to convince the lich to destroy Ivania and Vorno. Kal Kathier continued to talk with the White Wizard.

Scathe came forward and offered a blood vial to him with her bone hand. This effort seemed to relieve the tension that in the air, if only for a moment.

Kissandi, unstunned, rejoined her attack, leveling a powerful radiant energy upon the lich. The lich who had been regaining his size and stature since the initial attacks seemed to shrink a little in size and appeared to notice the power of this attack.

To be continued…

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The Wizard in the White Tower
The Wizard in the White Tower

Kal Kathier, Shivon, and Xabier entered the White Tower’s 7th story balcony and encountered the White Wizard, now a lich. The lich intimidated Shivon. Parlaying, Shivon seemed to think the lich held a staff somehow connected to the Raven Queen. For sure the White Wizard was interested in meeting Kissandi, after told about her.

Meanwhile at the residence of the Witch on Downing Street, the witch continued to uncover the story for Kissandi and Scathe, as Scathe’s hand continued to decompose, now just a few tendons and ligaments short of skeletal (yet fully functional). Another appointment, a dwarf (Bayla Grimtor) riding a bear (Anuk), came to meet with the witch. After meeting the witch, the dwarf told Kissandi and Scathe that she was able to come and go from this domain of dread, not stuck here like everyone else.

The rest of the group returned and in a split decision, Kissandi convinced the others that meeting Ivania could wait, but the lich must be dealt with.

Rest was interrupted by the Black Carnival, an event when everyone wears a mask, the doors and windows of all homes are thrown open and light shines throughout the city as the dead return and party with the living.

Rest was better the next morning, enough to help a little. Midafternoon the heroes made another difficult trip up the cliffs and the White Tower to see the lich.

After a short discussion, the White Wizard disappeared. Kissandi believes she scared the lich away.

The group went down to the 6th floor of the tower, a library with rows of bookshelves and fought a large bone golem and a man who said he was a friend of the White Wizard. The main used psychic powers to get the heroes to fight amongst themselves and put up a good fight before he and the golem were destroyed. Much of the heroes energies were spent. They unsuccessfully tried to catch a short rest as something else approached…

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Uncovering the Meaning of Sunder...heart
Uncovering the Meaning of Sunder...heart

Night ended more than morning broke. Very dim light entered as the heroes struggled to withstand the effects of this Domain of Dread. The despair took Xabier Bloodcaster to a knee. New life entered him when he downed a vial of condensed blood.

The townsfolk nearby were gathering up the scattered and torn remains of the boy who had died the past night in the streets. Shivon interrupted to interrogate the people about the best way into the castle.

When information was not forthcoming, Kissandi threw one of the citizens into the wall, knocking him out.

After throwing the boat’s young owner overboard, the party took a barge to row under the castle into Tomb City, to go to the Broken Library, along the edge of the Bleak Abyss.

After rowing under the castle, the group was rowing past a hasty burial and makeshift ceremony for Timmy.

After a short interaction with those burying the boy, an old lady pointed at the heroes, blaming them for fighting their undead relatives in the street and blaming them for the death of Timmy. Xabier brought his axe down through the old woman’s forearm, severing it. Before Scathe could save her, she bled out. Quickly considering their options, the other citizens began digging a second plot.

The heroes rowed up to the Broken Library, that literally leaned over the Bleak Abyss, parts of the library clearly had already be sucked away into the abyss.

Upon entry, the group encountered Nephigor, who they would later uncover was possibly a ghost of a devil. Nephigor made a deal with Xabier – Xabier’s soul for the return of his brother.

Lightning cracked, a ceiling board split above the group, and the dying body of what appeared to be Xabier’s brother fell down into the room. Xabier killed him to death.

Nephigor gave information and gave the party an option of how to get out of Sunderheart – to get the Wizard of the Tower to confront Ivania and while they fought, the heroes could escape by sailing over Grimriver Falls, that would take them into the River Styx.

The group gathered scrolls and books and took them to the Witch on Downing Street.

The Witch read and put some details together, but said she would need more information. The group agreed not to fight the undead on this night – the Witch suggested that many more would come, since they would have communicated somehow about the battle put on between the undead and the heroes the night before.

After a restless night, filled with horrors for some, the group rose and went back to get the boat. The boat’s owner jumped into the river and swam away before Kissandi could throw him back in the water. The group rowed back to Tomb City.

Kissandi and Scathe returned to the Bleak Abyss, used Scathe’s bag of holding and took everything they could find back to the Witch on Downing Street.

Meanwhile, Kal-Kathier, Shivon, and Xabier climbed the steep cliff, using their abilities to fey step, good teamwork, and sheer athleticism. Next, they cleverly used a raven, a rope, and ingenuity to climb the White Tower to the 6th/7th floor where a terrace and the only notable entrance could be seen.

Atop the tower they felt a sudden cold – and each took 10 necrotic damage. They went to enter the tower…

Meanwhile the Witch was uncovering much history of Ivania and Vorno, of the wizard who now was a lich and of a few possible ways to get out of Sunderheart and possibly save it…

Stories that the Witch on Downing Street said she uncovered in reading the many tomes, books, and scrolls from the Broken Library books brought by Kissandi and Scathe:

“When the devil-bound empire of Bael Turath was enthroned as ruler over half the world, Harrack Unarth glittered as the brightest jewel in its crown. Set within the granite cliffs of the massive Grimstone Mountain, Harrack Unarth was fed by the emerald vale nestled close to its gates and slaked by the sapphire waters of three rivers that cascaded spectacularly down the rock behind the city.

Wealth flowed into Harrack Unarth as steadily as the Grimriver flowed from it. Bumping boats and jostling caravans brought goods from far-off lands. Wealthy nobles from across Bael Turath built bright villas on the shores of the city’s pristine lake. It was known far and wide as a city of spice, pleasure, play, and love. And no love was more famed than that of the Harrack Unarth’s rulers, Ivania Dreygu and Vorno Kahnebor.

The story of their romance was legend. Sole heirs to two feuding noble houses, Ivania and Vorno prevailed despite violent efforts by both feuding families to stop their love. When the last envenomed dagger had fallen from a death-weakened hand, Ivania and Vorno unified their holdings and took control of Harrack Unarth, the city where they first met. Together they ushered in a festive age. Harrack Unarth became known as the City of Carousal.

Yet like most legends, hidden truths lurk behind the bards’ honeyed words. The Dreygu and Kahnebor houses spared no love for one another, but they were unified in their desire to separate the young lovers. The Dreygu family, often thought depraved by those who glimpsed its inner life, saw Ivania as a “troubled” girl. And House Kahnebor had long struggled to cover up the results of Vorno’s dark appetites. A rare tete-a-tete between Lord Dreygu and Lady Kahnebor led to a resolution to separate them before their infatuation had its inevitable destructive result.

Yet love, true love, grows stronger in adversity, and so it was with Ivania and Vorno. Once forcibly separated, Vorno cut a bloody escape from his own family. A nighttime raid into the Dreygu estate and another murderous flight set them on the path to a pauper’s life together. Yet their outraged families could not leave well enough alone. After two years of cat-and-mouse exchanges, ambushes, and assassinations, Ivania and Vorno reclaimed their birthrights.

The two left behind the cities of their births and brokered with the emperor for control of Harrack Unarth, the throne of which was recently made vacant by the drowning of the lord mayor. They held a lavish festival for their arrival, and the celebration never truly ended. Behind closed doors and high garden walls, Ivania and Vorno introduced many of their new friends to increasingly obscure intoxicants, decadent delicacies, and bizarre entertainments. Meanwhile Ivania and Vorno continued to pursue the twisted pastimes for which House Kahnebor had paid to silence. Those they brought into their deadly games rarely remained players for long.

The expense of the nobles’ parties fueled trade to the city, making it a hub of strange goods from around the world. The wealth and rarities flowing to the city drew the eye of the emperor, and Ivania and Vorno became frequent guests at his court. It’s said that they returned the favor by setting up secret debaucheries from which only the hosts and their Imperial guest returned.

When the emperor sought infernal ties to secure his rule, he knew to whom he should turn. Ivania and Vorno readily agreed to shelter the first tests of the devils’ bargain, but their delight at this prospect had more to do with the opportunity it presented than loyalty to their lord. With the devils close at hand, they could cut their own bargains.

Their accomplice in the secret pact was Nephigor, a devil assigned to oversee the first rites. What Ivania and Vorno sought was nothing less than unending youth. They wished to continue their lives together forever, and for this they would give up their souls. The years would not touch them. Contagion would pass them by. Only by accident or intent could their lives be taken, and when this happened, as Nephigor must have know it inevitably would, their souls would pay the price for the joys they shared in life.

When the nobility of all Bael Turath found their way into the devils’ bargain, Ivania and Vorno were already enjoying the benefits of their promise. Youthful vigor flooded through them and drove them to greater heights of frivolity and darker depths of depravity. While the rest of the empire reacted with horror and fear at the work that was being wrought, even while the city’s lakeside villas were emptied of aristocrats, the people of Harrack Unarth danced in streets strewn with their noble’s gold.

Yet time did take its toll. As the years collected into decades, Vorno, always fitful and prone to bouts of depression, drew deeper within himself and grew increasingly paranoid. He knew his habits had made him many enemies, and now any danger threatened not only his life but his should. A simple fall could set his spirit on fire for eternity.

Ivania, on the other hand, took vicious joy from living. She tried many times to draw the man she loved from the shadow that skulked through their palace on the river. At times she could evoke his old spirit, cajoling Vorno’s cruel streak out for deviant play, but these times came less and less often. The two lovers, once inseparable partners, became estranged.

At length, Ivania grew tired of Vorno, tired of his petty jealousies and his simpering attempts at affection, tired of his watchful shadow lurking on the edge of her vision, tired of his unwashed stink and his suspicious eyes. She resolved to tempt him out of his shell one last time.

Securing the most beautiful girl in the city, Ivania plied the coy young woman with jewels, silks, and exotic spices. Together they drank, ate, danced, and played, all under the hidden gaze of Vorno. With the blush of innocences still upon her cheeks, the girl fell into a narcotic stupor. Ivania left her then, knowing what Vorno would do.

The fiend could not resist. He took her, and when at last the predilections born of his youth overcame him, he devoured her flesh. Ivania had planned for this. She had hidden her toxins beneath the stupefacient spices and liquors. The girl had boiled with poison but blissfully felt nothing. The same could not be said for dread Vorno. He died as terribly as he had lived. Ivania Dreygu watched him die. In Vorno’s final moments, he saw in her eyes that not only had she willfully killed him and consigned his soul to the Hells, but that she had also murdered their love. Thus, a dark lord was born.

Harrack Unarth, City of Carousal, took little joy during the funeral celebrations. Many noted the lack of prominent faces among the crowd. As time elapsed the city fell into Shadow and curses were left on all that touched this place."

The Witch says there are three options…
1) Kill Ivania and the Ghoul (Vorno) attached to her back – this will only destroy them for a day, but during this time those involved in their deaths could leave through the Mists, escaping the Shadowfell. Unfortunately the undead residents of Tomb City will swarm over Sunderheart after a day, slaying with abandon.

2) Kill the hellbound that are within the wall and convince the Wizard of the White Tower to leave his home and confront Ivania and the Ghoul. While the loch and the dark lord battle, escape is possible by riding a boat over Grimriver Falls to splash down into the River Styx, and then find a way to escape the Noine Hells.

3) Permanently destroy Ivania and the Ghoul in one of the two ways:

a) by having Ivania say Vorno’s name and be remorseful for her betrayal, whereupon both of their souls will be transported to the Nine Hells to fulfill their bargain with Nephigor.

OR

b) by engaging the Ghoul without fighting back or awakening Ivania’s will. Then lure the Ghoul on a chase though the River Palace to the room where Vorno was murdered and where Ivania first confronted the horror of her new existence. This dark complex lies deep in the least used area of the River Palace. There they must be slain."

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Entry into Sunderheart, Domain of Dread
Entry into Sunderheart, Domain of Dread

Nexes: “I will accept your final payment and then take you to the shore.” Kal Kathier gave him more food.

Upon final payment, Nexes says, “I see it is getting harder for you. You may need these…” (and shows vials of thick red liquid) Nexes will say it will reinvigorate you, but don’t use it too much (It is condensed blood). Kissandi rejects it. Xabier drinks one and buys several more for himself and Scathe.

Nexes says “Get rid of any illumination”

As Nexes and Xabier rowed the raft towards the first wall of Sunderheart, one of the dredgers called out for the group to go away. The dredgers seemed surprised to see a raft full of people approaching the city. Many dead, bloated corpses and lots of flotsam and jetsam floated in the water. The dredger ran away to summon the guard.

After sailing under the entry gate, the party was greeted by fast approaching town guard.

Nexes left the party and rowed away.

The group grew weary of the “greeting” they received. Kissandi stated her desire to meet the person in charge. The guards didn’t cooperate.

The city was a series of islands, divided by a main river flowing through the center and lots of canals that served as roads between. Some bridges connected some islands. Barges and punts sailed regularly for transportation. During the day the city was bustling with regular activity. The irregularity was that everyone seemed to have some sort of birth defect. On one person, it was a third leg. Another had extra fingers. Another had one color hair on one side and another on the other side of her head. Xabier found a woman with three breasts.

Scathe noticed the skin on her hands flaking off.

In a market, a little boy suggested the group meet the Witch on Downing Street. The group followed the boys advice and went to this location where they met an old, blind woman, her eyes sewn shut, who had a viable eye in the palm of her hand that she used to look around. She offered advice and knowledge and said she would give more if the group could go to the Broken Library, leaning over the edge of the Bleak Abyss and uncover the knowledge that she believes will help uncover the way out of Sunderheart.

The first night came and as foretold, dead arrived on barges. Kissandi, Kal-Kathier, Xabier, and Shivon’s falcon did battle on the island where the Witch on Downing Street lived. Kal-Kathier twirled his blades, cutting enemy after enemy down. Kissandi used a glowstone from Shivon to radiantly melt several undead as they approached the light. Xabier drooled as he waded through an undead enemy at a time in search of his brother Bael. They were victorious, but presumably only did battle with a small fraction of all those who entered from Tomb City.

The next day, the group agreed to be arrested by the sheriff, sleep for the night in the jail, and allow the sheriff to kill 3 others who were in the jail at the time, possibly criminals, supposedly so they didn’t tell of what happened. The sheriff did not want word to spread that he acted against Lady Ivania Dreygu or said anything about The Ghoul that was stitched to her back.

Kissandi and the others were planning to kill Lady Ivania, with the thought of using the river to enter under the palace, fight the monsters, the hellhound, and anything else that was there to gain entry into the palace first.

Evidence gathered by the heroes to kill Lady Ivania comes from the sheriff, who wants his opinion kept secret, the general feeling that this placed is cursed and the curse needs lifting, and a spiritual feeling by Kissandi to seek out the leader of the town.

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A Well Executed Thievery
A Well Executed Thievery

April 16, 994?

Here’s the plan: Alphariel is going to fly/phase up the shaft, grab the hourglass, then feather fall back down into the waiting teleportation circle created by Rowena.

Stone Arm talks to us. He’s worried about the Mad Architect who’s coming down here. He made a deal with Balarus the Efreet and now owes Balarus the Hourglass. He is only interested in gaining power.

Rowena creates a portal to the thundercloud tower.

Alph grabs the Hourglass and runs to the shaft. Featherfall down. The gleaner and nightwalker jump down after him.

Bui recalls Alph to the circle. We all dive through the circle.

Something happens to keep Craynor and Bui from going through the circle.

They apparently are in the first room of the ziggurat.

There is a color mist there that seems pretty badass.

Bui is doing his best to figure out what’s going on and how to get out.

Craynor is being insane, but eventually starts climbing the walls.

After many starts and stops, they get out.

As the Thundercloud Tower made its way away, the heroes saw the ziggurat phase out as several meteorite hit the ground nearby, leaving steaming craters.

Alphariel is able to put the Hourglass down.

We cast 3 × 360 gp rituals (1080 gp)

Mummy rot cured by Bui – Xabier nearly dies (full hp loss). Bui – half hp loss, Craynor extended rest stays the same, then cured at half hp loss by Bui.

As we are flying over the land where we saw a big battle on the way to the ziggurat, we see that there is now a huge crater and a lot of nasty alien things. Craynor talks to one of the fallen and gains that it was a battle between towns, started by youth of the other town who attacked their elves. The commoner blames inaction and lack of protection on King Goodwell II.

Samaa and Emerth find us.

We head up to the earth mote place.

Guess what. We fight the earthquake dragon. Who could have seen that coming?

The dragon tries to fly away, but Rowena calls on the powers of the elements and crushes the dragon.

It seems we lost a week in the Ziggurat – it should have been less than a day…hmmmm

Stonearm Scourge and Balarus the Efreet are likely dead – trapped in the ziggurat with the alien force inside, too. The ziggurat is now gone.

April 23, 994.

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The Deluvian Hourglass in Sight, Escaping the Ziggurat Not So Much
The Deluvian Hourglass in Sight, Escaping the Ziggurat Not So Much

April 16 (?), 994 continued continued continued

We make our way into the cavern. The drop from the opening of the shaft to the floor is 20 ft. There is luminous water. It lights the whole cavern. Three islands. One with twisted vine like masses. Another has monkeys and bugs. The third has treant. The second has monkey swarm. Xabier drops in and swims back up. The water is only about 10 ft deep. Tyzzer drops in.

Xabier finds a sack full of goodies near the alter and takes it.

We kill of the bad guys and then more bad guys – demons- show up to replace them. Jeff’s house blows up.

Xabier turns into a devil. This is distracting to the nalfeshnee demons, and to the others in the party.

We kill all of the demons after Xabier tries to intimidate the demon – unsuccessfully. There is a large red creature up in the shaft.

Vani flies up der and sees a red guy – Santa? Efreet more likely. There is a also a medium creature above – the Stonearm Scourge, and a little construct.

The Stonearm Scourge tells us to give up or give up the monk. He also wants the Deluvian Hourglass.

Vani flies up the other shaft and sees the hourglass guarded by bad guys. There is a mosaic of the fat lady with skinny lady. There is a sebastian gleaner and 3 crystal constructions, one with sebacean apes stacked atop one another, and the other two with large evil looking creatures.

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