The Ruby Rod

Episode 101
The beginning

Through magical or mundane means, the group is called by Cebias Shuun to help with a task most dire. As the cliche goes, the party meets in a tavern, The Lizard’s Boat, an establishment in the town of Portsmoth.

The group that answered the call are,

  • Daelok, gnome illusionist and member of the gnome council
  • Lucif, Eladrin Swordmage and Scribe
  • Tavar, Deva Radiant Servant of Pelor
  • Tempest, human master thief, coming in place of her mother, Zephyr
  • Vorastrix Xarzithixen, dragonborn sorcerer, master of fire and ice

After each member had arrived at the tavern and waited for any other that may come, Cebias sends word to meet at his manor a few hours outside of town. Arriving at the Manor the party finds the decorative tree in the entrance hall had overgrown the entire hall, vines dangling from the ceiling and grass growing over the marble floors. Upon inspecting the tree a darkness fell over the room and the party was attacked. Vine creatures, wooden guardians, strange slimes, and the tree itself attacked the party. Later in the fight it was learned that the base of the tree was an illusion hiding a being of flame casting spells at the party. A decisive blow struck, the flames died out revealing the being to be Cebias in disguise, who revealed that he was testing the party.

Some healing later, and meeting Cebias’ current apprentice, Hawthorn, the group has dinner as Cebias explains the situation. The old mage had been having nightmare visions of a world overrun be devil armies led by a man with a rod of power. Cebias feared that this rod to be the Ruby Rod of Asmodeus. Through divination Cebias could feel out the location of the rod in the material realm where it had shown up weeks prior. The location is in a city built into a volcano to the west. Cebias has had contact with a guide who was the mountain pass between the city and Cebias’ manor, waiting for the pass to thaw out from the winter.

When learning how long it would take for the pass to thaw, Lucif points out that he knows the location of a teleportation circle on the other side of the pass, in the mountains. The party takes a day to prepare, Hawthorn and Cebias brewing some potions and enchanting some items for the trip. Having sent word to her ahead of time, the guide, Kathra Thundervault, is waiting at the circle for the party when they arrive.

Kathra explains that she had been to the volcano site 20 years ealier. A large number of unexplained deaths had occurred during the excavation. It was originally thought that poisonous fumes had killed them, but when the bodies turned up missing, something more sinister was suspected. The project was then abandoned. Kathra’s husband was one of the miners lost. She is leading the group in hopes of finding clues to his death as well hoping to prevent any further deaths.

The party moves west. In a small wooded area, a group of bandits attacks. After Tavar blasts a would be sniper out of a tree, breaking his back and paralyzing him from the waist down, the rest of the bandits quickly surrender, and after clearing the roadblock they had made, flee, leaving behind their injured friend. The group heals the injured bandit, named Caleb, and takes him to the nearest town. On the way Tavar converts him to the faith of Pelor and in town leaves Caleb in care of the church where he would be taught to be a scribe.

The party raises a small ruckus in one of the town’s taverns, but the healing powers of Tavar keep everyone from being seriously injured although there was bit of property damaged, repairs payed for by the party upon leaving. Reuniting with Kathra, who had errands to run in town, updating her guild on their plans and meeting family, the party leaves towards the volcano city.

A week later, the party arrives. The entrance to volcano is dark and quiet. Runes litter the walls, and further in glass tubes filled with flowing lava light the halls. Kathra describes the tubes as being hard as steel, hence their name Glassteel, and demonstrates their strength with a sound hit from her hammer, much to the shock of some of the party. Deeper in the party finds the gateway to the city, text written above the doorway in an old dialect of primordial names the city, roughly translated, as Underfortress. Kathra points out a skull over the bust of the gateway that had not been their before. The skulls begins to speak and assures the party that it has been there long before.

The skull floats out of the wall, trailing behind it a long skeletal tail. It casually warns the party not to enter and flies off into the city. The party ignores this and moves on. Tavar’s mount, Surly the rage drake, becomes a bit anxious due to being underground, so Tavar ties him to a post and leaves him near the entrance to the city. Crossing a large bridge leading over a aquifer the looked to once store lava, the party enters the city proper. Underfortress looks to be a huge cave, the buildings carved from giant stalactites and stalagmites, bridges leading from the tops of the lower buildings to the stalactite buildings hanging from the cavern ceiling.

All is quiet through the town. The glassteel tubes meant to illuminate the city are empty, leaving the city a pitch black. Lucif sends his book imp familiar, Oryeth, to scout the streets ahead using its invisibility. Several city blocks in, Oryeth reports that he has found something odd. The party finds a trio of people tied together and hung up from a tall statue. The persons have dull blue skin and full face covering helmets with no eye or mouth slits. Cutting the down, the party quickly realizes that these are some kind of undead, and leaves them tied up, but wishing to investigate further, they attempt to remove one of their helmets which is locked shut.

During this investigation movement is seen, claw reaches out of the ground and cuts the ropes binding the zombies together. A large wraith floats out of the ground and a fight ensues. During the battle the party learns that these zombies can only be killed by certain means, cuts and crushing blows only temporarily stunning them, Tavar’s radiant powers however make short work of them. Howls are heard throughout the cavern, the city has awoken, and after slaying a number of wraiths and zombies, the party is forced to flee.

The chase leads them through the city, over walls, through alleys, into tunnels below the city where they leave a magical zone behind in a bottle neck, cutting the hoard off, killing any that is able to enter. Avoiding some roaming zombies in the tunnel, the party finds a staircase and ascends. Several storeis up at the top, they find hemselves high above the city. Looking down on the city, hoards of zombies roam the streets, wraiths patrolling back and forth. Upon inspection of their location, Kathra believes she can lead the zombies away and escape while the party delves further in. The party is not so sure of this and convinces her to not risk her life on the errand. Exploring the building they are in, the party hears zombies coming up the staircase behind him and pushes on. They find a bridge leading from the side of the building into the cavern wall. They lower the portcullis behind them and begin to move across the bridge when they see a glowing ahead and hear the clopping of hooves. The zombie hoard falls silent.

From the other side of the bridge two riders approach, a mummy and an armored minotaur, both mounted on a pair of nightmares. The Pharaoh impores the party to leave the city, explaining that he and his companion will escort them out protecting them from the zombie hoard. The party still exhausted from the chase asks for a moment to discuss, the pharaoh agrees but summons a pair of wraiths to drain the party’s life force, preventing them from having a moment’s respite. The party launches on the offensive, and battle ensues 5 stories above the city streets, the silent zombies gazing skyward waiting for any prey to fall.

One wraith is vanquished, the other transfixed on an illusion. One nightmare is slain while the other is put to sleep. The pharoah thrown from the bridge after his worst fears are implanted into his mind, ripped apart by the hoard below, leaving the minotaur as the last enemy combatant. The minotaur launches a salvo of force blasts, resisted by the party but knocking Kathra into the zombie hoard. Blinded by an attack, the minotaur attempts to tackle one of the party off the bridge but misses, sending himself into the hoard.

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Episode 102
Out of the Frying Pan

Standing atop the bridge, the party looks down, searching for signs of Kathra. They are just able to see a set of bloodied footprints leading off into the distance. A wraith remains transfixed on an illusion from the battle. Tavar performs last rights and the wraith vanishes.

The bone naga appears again, floating about the party. Saddened that his latest work faired so poorly, the bone naga implores the party to leave, although this time offering no help in doing so. Message delivered, it casually floats off.

The nightmare remains. Vorastrix, being highly resistant to fire, wakes the beast and begins to intimidate it, explaining that they had slain its master and that the creature would best be served in joining the party. The demon horse is frightened into submission and allows Vorastrix to ride. Before setting out, the party members sensitive to the ebb and flow of the arcane sense a power source somewhere in the volcano. Figuring it is probably the rod, the decide to steer towards that at best they can.

Traveling through the halls that the mummy lord and minotaur came through, the party finds pictographs on the wall. They tell of a horned being uniting a group of different people to some purpose, the various people having different shaped heads, the fiery heads assumed to be the original denizens of the city. The rest is not read as a trap goes off, encasing Lucif in a glassteel tube. Water fills the tube and Lucif is carried away, the flying bone naga appears below, smirks at the party, and then chases after the swordmage.

The tube raises, dropping Lucif’s sword on the ground with a clatter. Picking it up, the party finds the sword tugging hard In a direction pointing down the hall. They realize Lucif is calling his sword to him. The party rushes down the corridors using the sword as a compass.

Further ahead shouts are heard accompanied by the howling of zombies. At a T-intersection the party sees a dwarf and a half elf running from a pack of undead. The dwarf catches sight of the party but decides it best to keep moving and leads his companion further down the hall when a trap is set off and a spike impales the half elf to the wall.

The party move to help when another trap is sprung. As Vorastrix moves to engage, the floor and wall pivot sideways, attempting to fling the party down another corridor. Tempest and Vorastrix are able to avoid the trap, but Tavar is sent through the wall, hurtling down a chute into another room.

As the others fight above, Tavar finds himself in an underground graveyard. There is no open sky, but somehow grass grows here just fine. Tavar is noting the delicious fragrance of grass when a shrill voice calls out that it is time to feast. The ground raises up and a creature of bone and earth attacks Tavar. A nighthaunt, a undead creature of shadow, flies about the boneyard, commanding it to attack, anxious for a meal. Tavar is able to fend off the undead long enough for the party to throw themselves down the trapped chute to join the battle.

During the fighting, Vorastrix is thrown from his mount by the graveyard. The nightmare seizes the opportunity and flees. With the nighthaunt and graveyard defeated the party has time to introduce themselves to their new companions, Buzart Dwak, a dwarven warrior, and Tannis Shearwind, a half-elf crossbowman. They explain that they were down here days prior searching for an enchanted challis. They had moved through the city unharmed, created a key in a massive forge room, then used it to open the vault deep within the volcano when the undead awoke and swarmed them. They had been dodging zombies since.

The party learns that the mummy lord and minotaur they had fought previously were companions of Buzart and Tannis, captured and turned to darkness. Tannis also mentions that, prior to the vault, they had only met 3 zombies, who they couldn’t seem to kill and instead tied up and left to rot. Vorastrix had just recently learned that cold spells also work well in permanently destroying the abominations, to which Tannis laments his previous groups lack of spellpower.

Exhausted from day the group decides to camp for the night. Recalling information from previous experience, Tavar sets to work hallowing the graveyard. The boneyard would return in a day’s time if the ground was not sanctified. The ritual was also to kill the grass, it being a product of the nighthaunt, causing any who ate it to become a nighthaunt as well upon their death.

Refreshed the next morning, the party plans their next move. Tannis describes a forge room where they had created a key. They would go their first, moving through the city sewers, then from there onto the vault. Climbing back out through the chute they came in, the group tinkers with the wall trap enough to get the group back into the hall they were in prior.

Hearing the tell tale moan of a zombie, the group prepares for another chase. Buzart takes lead. Peaking around the corner he sees a zombie pinned to the wall in the same trap that had impaled Tannis the day before. Buzart laughs heartily at this turn of event as the group decides what to do with it.

Feeling safe, the group moves to the zombie with the intent of learning more about it. Daelock holds the creatures mind with his magics while tempest sets to work trying to pick the lock on the back of the zombie’s helmet. Slipping the helmet off they see the horrid visage of the zombie underneath. Red tinged flesh rotting off the skull with patches sticking to the helmet. The eyes have long rotted out, the lips gone exposing purple splotched gums and foul teeth. A patch of hair remains in the front of the creature head, matted and stuck down.

Daelock momentarily loses control and the creature awakes, its head bursting into flame as it tries to reach for the group. Having learned enough they destroy the zombie and move on.

Seeing a pattern in the floor tiles, the party learns how to avoid any further traps. Tiles with skull motifs announce an area holding traps, and a specific number of teeth on a skull indicating the triggering tile. After skirting a number of traps, the party begins to hear fighting up ahead. Quickly but cautiously the party moves forward to investigate.

Looking down on the city the party sees a massive battle ensuing, Demons, Devils, and Elementals fighting hoards of undead, a number of flying bone nagas floating just overhead of the fighting. Decided it best to avoid the fighting, the group carefully makes their way across city bridges, down out of sight staircases, and into the sewers.

Other than a cave in and a troublesome portcullis, the journey through the sewers was rather mundane. Reaching a crossroads, the party decides to skip the forge room and try their luck checking on the vault first, the light tugs of Lucif’s sword playing a role in the decision.

The party climbs out of the sewers on the outskirts of the city. Soon the corridors give way to cavern walls and the party enters the volcano proper. A sea of lava boils far below the party. The power source the party felt is strong here, they know they are close. They begin their descent of the cliff walls, following a path that coils around a column which holds the vault room.

A bone naga flies nearby, this one wreathed in flame, its skull adorned with large ram horns. It asks the party what they are doing this far in the volcano, and like the others asks them to leave. From it they party learns that the invasion is actually multiple forces vying for a couple things. A powerful elemental has been held captive here for thousands of years and for whatever reason, some of the invading forces want it. The bone naga assumes something in the vault is also of some significance, but it seems less worried about that.

It goes so far as to offer the group an item from the vault as incentive to leave, but doubts any one item would do. The party mentions the rod, which causes the bone naga to have some sort of epiphany and it begins to fly off, deep in thought. The party isn’t ready to just let it leave and attempts to capture it, but the bone naga escapes into the lava.

Inspecting the vault door, the party is unsure if they can open it without a key. After Tempest’s lockpicks are disintegrated in the lock, they decide to turn back.

They reach the forge room without incident. Inside they find what looks like a workshop made for giants. A large red crystal hangs in the middle of the room, surrounded by myriad of strange machines reaching down from the ceiling, including a large glass container holding red crystalline sand. A control console rests in the corner of the round. After some tests the party learns that the console lowers molds that can then be filled with a the red sand, which the party learns to be a red residuum, and then moved into the kilns to make various objects.

Finding the right settings for the key mold, the party waits for the machine to fashion it. A huge hourglass high above the party fills with lava to denote the time remaining. Realizing it will take some time, the party bars the giant doors of the forge room with a pair of giant axes. Tannis taking out a large crossbow, takes position on a catwalk above the group to shoot anything that might break in.

While waiting, another bone naga flies into the room, descending from the various mechanical widgets hanging from the ceiling. This one has short horns growing out of its forehead and seems rather cheery. It asks the party what they are doing here when Tempest bluffs that the fiery naga had let them in to make some items and leave. Excited the naga begins to ask what they are making when a second naga flies into the room, this one blackened with many small spikes.

The second naga is much less chipper than the first, and seems suspicious of the party. Discussions began to break down when a third naga, the fiery one from before, enters the room through one of the open kilns. No words are spoken but the first two instantly learn that the party is untrustworthy and ready themselves. The party begins to attack when the nagas, in unison, slash at the giant crystal in the middle of the room, destroying it.

It is quickly learned that the crystal is a warding device, keeping the invasion forces from easily locating the forge room or teleporting in. A pair of salamanders slither in through one fire as a flame eye beholder floats in from the other. A number of larger crystal shards that had broken off from the warding device animate themselves and begin to attack sending volleys of flame.

Moments after the fighting begins, forces from outside the forge room begin to break down the door. Large insectoid demons descend from openings in the ceiling as a duegar mage riding a dragon flanked by a number of demonic hounds burst through the door. As the battle winds down, the dragon and the party are all that left when a signal sounding the completion of the forging goes off. The party begins to make their escape as zombies burst in through doors leading to the catwalk.

Buzart grabs the still red hot key and descends into the sew grate as the other follow. Tannis tosses a wadded piece of parchment to Tavar and says he’ll meet them at the vault. The half elf then pulls out and object and points it at the oncoming zombie hoard. Tavar recognizes it as the ruby rod as a bright flash of light plows over a file of zombies, and Tannis vanishes. Tavar slides through the grate just as the dragon makes another attack. The dragon peers down the grate at the party, and decides not to give chase, seemingly having other matters to attend to.

Tavar relays what he saw to the party and they rush for the vault. As they are about to reenter the volcano proper, Lucifs sword lunges from the party’s grasp and begins to rush down the halls and then clatters to the ground. The sword cracks and shatters, the end beginning to rust. The party sees that it was trying to fly off towards a massive stalactite hanging above the pool of lava.

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Episode 103
The first in a series of load baring villains

Inside the volcano again, the party hears a large battle being waged deeper within the caverns. The party sees a squad of devil legionnaires hack a group of zombies to pieces then rush around a cavern wall. Investigating, the party finds the zombies had come off a tram hanging from the volcano ceiling. Peering around the corner to where the devils had rushed off to, the party sees a massive portal leading into the primordial chaos, devil forces pouring in, a massive undead force fighting them back.

Devils coming from the primordial chaos didn’t make any sense to Daelock. Deciding that mystery could wait, the party climbs aboard the tram and begins to ride it towards the stalactite. Halfway there, the party spies a pair of vrocks flying towards them. As the vrocks drew closer, a trio of bone nagas fly out of the stalactite and begin racing towards the tram. Just as the party Is about to attack the bone nagas fly overhead and engage the vrocks, coiling around their wings, crashing them into the lake of lava below.

Perplexed, but thankful, the party continues riding the tram, noticing a fiery figure look at them through a large glassteel window in the stalactite. Stepping off the tram, the party soon learns the stalactite is some sort of prison. Various undead creatures line the cells, many howling and trying to break out when they sense the party. A cry for help is heard further into the prison. The party rushes to investigate. They see Kathra hanging from a prison wall, one of the zombie helmets adorning her head. The party fears are confirmed when the remove her helmet. Whatever process created the hoardes of zombies in the city was working its magic on Kathra. Tavar performs a ritual in an attempt to halt the transformation, but it only successful in slowing it. Kathra, still having control of herself for the moment rejoins the party.

Outside Kathras cell, the party notices a skull above an archway that they don’t remember there before. A thrown dagger confirms it as a naga spying on the party, which retreats back into its hole. Continuing through the halls of the prison, the party finds another skull, this time above a doorway. Voices are heard within the room, the skull telling the party to wait a moment. Not about to let a trap be set for them, the party begins to pry open the door to the room. A heating conversion is heard as the door slowly gives way, and as it finally does, a naga nearly flies into the group. Agitated it curses the party and flies off.

The large fiery figure stands with his back to the party a large cloak obscuring him. It draws power from a pair of obelisks, looking out onto the portal that had opened into the volcano. Realizing it is attempting to close the gateway, the party holds their attack until he is finished. The figure introduces himself as Nebnensoel, an immolith and guardian of Underfortress. It turns around displaying it’s form, a fiery swirling vortex of tortured souls. The nagas in the room fly into the vortex and Nebnensoel prepares to attack. As Nebnensoel steps forward, the party sees the motionless body of Lucif chained to a small altar, one of the zombie helmets adorning his head.

Nebnensoel calls to Kathra, offering to her the soul of her husband if she helps eliminate the party. Thanks to the ritual perform on her earlier; she is able to hold onto her humanity just enough to stay out of the fight. A pair of boneclaws burst forth from statues and the battle commences. Shortly into the fight, Lucif awakens, and is able to call his sword to him, breaking his chains, and joins the fray.

During the fight, the pair of obelisks momentarily take control of various party members minds. Learning that amulets worn by the bone nagas protect them from it, Tempest is able to snatch one right off the boneclaw’s neck to help protect the party. Nebnensoel is fell but his spirit transfers into the bone nagas empowering them. After the boneclaws and the obelisks are destroyed, the prison begins to shake slightly.

The ghost of Kathra’s husband appears. Kathra walks over to it as her body crumbles to the ground and her spirit embraces her husband. The ghost offers its hammer that Kathra had in her possession to Buzart, who accepts. The prison begins to shake violently at this point, blast those load barring villains. The party grabs any loot that looks substantial and begins to make their escape. Before they can manage to make it back to the tram the stalactite breaks off from the cavern roof and falls into the lake of lava.

Traversing the prison walls in the now upside prison while dodging escaped undead, the party rushes to the outside of the prison and climbs upward as the quickly sinking prison floats near the shore. Using some ice magic to cool a patch of lava and Buzart’s recoil shield, the party is able to launch themselves onto the shore. The party is able to pry the helmet off of Lucif, who has been visibly changed by whatever happened to him. his eyes now showing a hint of infernal. When asked about his appearance and some of the strange magics he used in the past fight, Lucif calmly explains that his familiar had offered to make a pact with him for the power to escape, although the imp seemed to have buggered off leaving Lucif with a rather raw deal. The party is disturbed by this pact but move past it.

Making their way to the vault doors, the party notices and inscription on the vault key. Believing it to be a puzzle, unsolved by Tannis’ group, is what caused the undead horde to wake. In an ancient dwarven script, one side of the oversized key appears to read, “Flame Gold”, the other “Knowledge Mountain”. Puzzling over this, buzart notices a word burnt into his glove from when he grabbed the key. It’s backwards but he can make out the word “Silence”. He looks back at the key, realizing in this ancient script, the word mountain makes the word Silence when flipped over, likewise “Flame” became “Power”. Grabbing the two ends of the key and twisting the two phrases now read, “Silence is Golden” and “Knowledge is Power”

Inserting the key into the vault door and turning, the vault opens rather quietly. Inside they find a large collection of small chests holding gold coins and gems, but it looks like someone had already taken off with a number of chests. Inside the vault the party finds a handy haversack with a pair of crossbows latched to it. The party’s assumption that it belongs to Tannis are confirmed when they search the contents and find a chalice and a short journal.

The journal tells about Tannis plans directly preceding this excursion. He had spent some time seriously injured after acquiring the second the last item required for a ritual, during which his companions had discern the location of the last.

As the party is packing their loot up a voice calls to them. A tiny pyramid sits upon a pedestal, a image of a tiefling floating above it introduces himself as Karavakos. He is in the middle of a sentence when Buzart charges the pyramid sending it crashing against the vault wall. Annoyed, Karavakos decides to skip the formalities and traps the party within the pyramid.

The party is engulfed in darkness. The floor gives out below them and the feel themselves falling. They feel themselves fall into water, and when they surface they find themselves in an ocean in the middle of a storm. In the distance they see an island, and after hours of holding on to dear life they finally reach shore.

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Episode 104
Welcome to the Pyramid of Shadows

Finally reaching the shore and dead tired, the party notices, not too far off, a small watchtower. The party moves there shelter them from the storm. The watchtower is abandoned. Before the party retires for the evening, they hear a mournful roar off in the distance. From the top of the watchtower they see the island they are on, a massive jungle circling around a city, and in the middle of the city stand a monolithic pyramid. Standing beside the pyramid is a colossal creature, the source of the howl. It’s at this time the party realizes their familiars are missing.

The next morning the group has a better chance to see their surroundings. They see that they are inside a massive pyramid, far beyond the island they are on are walls extending skyward. A bright light at the apex bathes the world in red, a beam of light shooting down the walls, slowly making its way around, perhaps reinforcing some barrier or cleaning the walls.

The party attempts a sending spell to contact Tannis. Tannis notifies the party that he has found his way to the pyramid and is holding up near the front entrance. The party makes for the pyramid, traveling through the jungle as best they can. Eventually the party encounters some of the local wildlife, a cute mushroom shaped creature hops along the path the party is on. Unable to identify it, the party moves on, the creature following. Not long after, many more of the little creatures appear, hopping after the party.

One of the party gets the idea to offer the creatures some red residuum found back in the volcano forge. One of the hoppers approaches and sniffs it, and for whatever reason becomes enraged. The heads of the hoppers split open, revealing the hidden toothy maws. The party runs.

After a while the party begins to treat the hoppers as slightly lethal mosquitoes, mostly annoying, but some bad luck might cause one of the buggers to bite in a more vital area. After some time a loud thudding can be heard. A monstrously huge hopper appears, and leaps to attack. Buzart’s recoil shield combined with the creature’s springy composition sends it flying far off into the distance, but it soon returns.

A javelin flies through the air pinning a hopper to a tree as it’s about to latch onto a party members face. A voice suggest fighting back to ward them off. The party easily defeats the big hopper and scatters the smaller ones. The voices owner appears, a very rude Halfling with a javelin almost comically larger than himself. He tells the party that this is his part of the jungle and they should leave. Upon further inquiry the party also learns that he has been there for three years, and that nobody should be trusted in the city.

Moving on, the party finds a large wall surrounding the city, with a long dark hallway leading in. Torches light themselves as the party moves forward through the tunnel, a story in pictures is shown on the wall but the party is distracted by a pair of blue flaming torches. Above one of the torches is a batlike creature with a long tail. The bat speaks, but only Tavar and Daelock can understand. The bat asks the two who they are, and then flies back through the tunnels telling the party to follow, the torches turning blue as the bat passes.

The bat waits by a door in the side of the wall near the entrance of the tunnel, and when the party approaches it flies into the air then morphs into a key and falls on the ground. The group uses the key to open the door and find it empty, but upon closing the door behind themselves the darkness gives way to a shop.

All around the party are piles and shelves of odd knick knacks, small creatures flying about the shop ceiling, and other creatures crawling along the shelves and walls. The party guess that this is some kind of familiar shop. At the back of the room the party finds a counter top, another room behind it filled with shelves, lockers, and a dresser set. On the dresser a green orb linked to a chain hangs, it begins to glow and bob back and forth, one of the dolls on the table stirs, and moves. The doll is 7 inches tall with a black hooded coat, a purple handkerchief covering its face and two large lenses for eyes. Its eyes are a dimly lit blue as it awakes then turn bright yellow when it notices the party.

Wire frame wings extend from its backpack and it flies about the back of the counter pulling down books and placing them in front of the party. The books are ledgers and catalogs for various magical items. The group purchases a couple and sells a few things they’ve found, the whole time the merchant doll communicating through hand gestures, eye colors, and the occasional written note. The group is about to leave when they hear a voice, the green orb tells the party to buy it, that it will help. The party doesn’t have enough money to purchase the orb, to which the voice replies to offer something in trade, that the merchant loves keys.

The party offers the vault key they had forged, the eyes of the merchant lighting up. It pulls out a book and opens to a blank page. The wire frame wings dipping into a ink well, it begins to rapidly begin drawing over several pages in the books. Moments later it finishes and looks back over its work. Suddenly it flies off, plops the green orb down in front of the party, and then returns back with a small chest of coins and gems.

The party accepts. The merchant takes the key which is twice as large as it is, shrinks it down, and then places it in its jacket along with a large number of other keys. The bat then places a different key in front of the party, telling them it will open to the shop wherever the flames glow blue. With that the party leaves.

A disembodied head materializes inside the orb, an Eladrin woman, she introduces herself as Vyrellis, and says she knows a way to escape the pyramid, or at least she knew. Fragments of her being are scattered across the pyramid, with them she’d remember.

The party leaves the shop and returns to the city’s entrance tunnel. There they finally get a chance to look at the paintings on the wall. Walking down the tunnel each side had a matching set of paintings. It tells the story of a man, whos kingdom was being encroached upon by other kingdoms, makes a pact with a devil for power. The man becomes a tiefling and then sets out to conquer the world. The pact allows him to conquer only the material world, and when he moves onto the feywild, is vanquished and imprisoned within the Pyramid of Shadows.

The heroes recognize an eladrin woman in the paintings as Vyrellis. Tempest recognizes the capitol city where the Tiefling ruled is her home town, or at least was in the same place, many years ago.

Near the end of the tunnel, the party notices that Tempest and Tavar have gone missing. Suddenly the walls the floors begin to shake, and a pair of bizarre 3 armed, 3 legged creatures burrow out of the walls of the tunnel, collapsing the ceiling, preventing the party’s progress. Buzart recognizes them as Xorns, earth elemental type creatures who eat gems, and begins to barter with the xorns to pass through when another pair of xorns breaks through the floor and attack the party.

A typhoon of elemental power shoots forth from Varastrix, and through the combined efforts of the remaining party the xorns are quickly overwhelmed and attempt to flee. Only one xorn escapes.

Vyrellis feels the presence of a soul shard, and urges the party to search. Within the xorn’s hides are various gems, hardening their skin. One of the gems is one of Vyrellis’ soul shards. With it she remembers some of her past life. She was the wife of Karavakos, the man depicted in the paintings, and when he was imprisoned, blamed her and cut off her head. She also remembers that Karavakos is split into pieces like her, but whole beings. The party would have to slay them if they had any hope of escaping.

The party begins to dig their way out of the collapsed tunnel, wanting to hurry their search for their missing party members. Exiting the tunnel they see the city, the huge black pyramid laced with gold far off in the distant. A voice begins to speak to the party, it’s owner, a sphinx, lazily draped over the entrance to the tunnel. It calls to its friends, a minotaur and a strange gibbering one eyed creature called a nothic. The trio of monsters challenge the group to answer a number of riddles, if they succeed they will be given information to help them on their way, and if they fail, the monsters will attack them and eat them, as is their custom.

The group quickly answers are all three riddles to the chagrin of the nothic. The sphinx is impressed and imparts some knowledge of the city, mainly concerning major landmarks and recent history. To the north is a frozen castle where a white dragon, aptly named The White, lives, he occasionally flies around proclaiming its greatness. To the north east is a library. To the east is a small army of devils that are recent additions to the pyramid, the party surmising that they are the devils from the volcano. To the west the jungle has overgrown the city and rests a person called Ulgohralkthi although he is usually just called The Tiki Man as he wears a mask. In the middle of the city lays the pyramid, guarded by a monstrous colossus who guards it. The sphinx suggests if they want to learn more, the Tiki Man would be their best bet, as to her knowledge, he’d been inside the pyramid the longest.

As they make their way west, Vyrellis informs the party that she feels the presence of an aspect of Karavakos. Investigating, the party finds a boarded up building, the front door unlocked. Peaking in they find that the inside is very different from the outside. In the middle of this otherwise empty building is a small cottage sitting atop a short grassy hill. A beam of light pours from on hole in the roof onto the cottage, but instead of the oppressing red of the outdoors the light appears as normal sunlight.

Creeping up carefully, the party decides to knock on the door which is answered by an elderly tiefling. The tiefling introduces himself as Vakos and after learning the party is not associated with The White, welcomes them into his home and offers them tea and biscuits. The party is not convinced they have need to kill the kind old man, so after tea they leave.

Vyrellis berates them, and mentions a soul shard on Vakos’ person, explaining she didn’t mention it earlier since the party was suppose to kill him. Daelock goes back to retrieve it, attempting a stealthy approach but failing miserably. Sensing the shard under Vakos’ shirt, Daelock decides to just grab and run. Ripping off Vakos’ necklace, Daelock get a crack on the head from Vakos’ staff, to which Daelock responds by turning invisible and escaping. Vakos is The shard turns out to be inside a locket along with a picture of Vyrellis.

The party leaves Vakos behind alone and without his locket. They press further west, the city streets soon give way to the overgrown jungle. Not long after Buzart senses the presence of ogre who leaps at the party from the trees. Buzart begins to make short work of the ogre when another pair of ogres approach and tell him to stop. They explain that they want to take them to their boss, to which the party agrees, but not before getting one last shot in on the ambusher. During the short journey, Lucif attempts to slink off to try and watch for any future ambushes and ends up walking face first into the sneakiest ogre he had ever known of, and decides to quietly rejoin the party after sheepishly nodding to the ogre.

The ogres take the group to a cavern, the hot humid air turns colder the further in the party goes. A number of ogres patrol the halls. Eventually they reach a chamber where the Tiki Man sits upon a stone throne, a totem staff in hand affixed with a number of Vyrellis’ soul shards. The tall humanoid, as his name suggests, wears a tiki mask, an vaguely mournful face with 4 long feathers poking from the top, bandages covering the rest of his body. After introducing themselves and their intentions, the party bargains for information and the totem staff, agreeing to slay the white and return with its head and heart.

The party sets out for the frozen castle, following a map given to them by The Tiki Man. Along the way, shadows of people can be seen inside the buildings, shutters quickly closing as they pass. Infiltrating the frozen castle is easier than the party would expect, and so is getting into the inner chambers. A maze of frozen mirrors provides some trouble until a number of the party notice something out of place. Vorastrix notices a gap in the cold, the mirror there doesn’t reflect perfectly having a delay. Daelock senses and illusion in said gap, and moves through, not noticing the missing floor on the other side of the illusion, Daelock falls down an icy chute and nearly into the mouth of The White.

Luckily, The White is encased in a block of ice. The rest of the party slides down to investigate. A rumbling voice echoes through the halls and a copper dragon reveals himself. Introducing himself as Astrarian, the copper asks the party what they are doing there. The party explains how they were looking for an item when they were sucked into the pyramid, then describing the bargain with Tiki Man.

Astrarian mentions how he had simply been sleeping on his hoard when he was sucked into the pyramid. He then describes how The White was attempting to become a dracolich, one who could invade people’s dreams as he slept. The nature of the pyramid prevents anyone from needing to eat, this allowing The White to sleep indefinitely, allowing him to project himself from the safety of the castle. The copper took issue with this and sabotaged the ritual, imprisoning The White in his current state.

The copper refuses to allow the party to kill The White, claiming friendship. However Astarian is eager to help the party and suggests bringing Tiki Man to the castle where they could ambush him. The party agrees to this. To help the ruse, the copper removes a bit of The Whites tail, saying that it will heal back. He then helps the party fashion a vial of liquid ice, a substance which would freeze solid when disturbed, to explain The White’s state.

The party returns to the Tiki Man, explaining how the white had somehow frozen itself in battle, offering the tail and vial of liquid ice as evidence. The Tiki Man is suspicious but does not let on. While walking together out of the cavern, The Tiki Man throws his arms over Vorastrix and Lucif in a friendly manner, slipping something into each one’s ear. Tadpoles burrow into the pair’s skulls, the two recoiling from the pain. The tiki man’s bandages loosen, showing purple moist skin underneath, his mask slowly rotates, turning itself upside down, the sad mouth now becoming a brow, the feathers appearing as a beard, or rather, a set of tentacles. The mask shimmers and sinks into the face underneath until it vanishes, showing the face of an Illithid.

The mind flayer explains that he will remove the brain slugs once he is satisfied that the party is not attempting to betray him. Not wanting to attack the illithid while surrounded by his orge thralls, the party quickly proceeds to the frozen castle.

On the way, an orc approaches the group, an agent of the mind flayer. The illithid communicates telepathically with the orc and curses allowed. He doesn’t explain, but the party must hurry. As the group traverses the mirror maze they see figures ahead. They soon run into a pair of familiar faces.

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Episode 105
From the Frozen Castle to the Library

As Tempest is taking in the story of Karavakos painted on the entrance tunnel walls, she feels a sudden movement behind her. She turns and finds that Tavar has vanished. As she is about call to the others something grabs her legs and pulls her underground, except the passes through the ground as if it were nothing.

She later wakes in a dark room, her head throbbing. Checking herself over, everything is accounted for except her primary weapon, a magical dagger. On the ground she finds a trail of blood. It leads to a wall and ends. She finds no mechanism to open the wall, so she continues down the adjacent hall. She finds her way onto the other side of the wall, a small dorm room, the trail leading to the next wall. The next room the same, and the next, until the hallway ends and with it the trail.

A force draws her down another corridor and up a long spiral staircase. At the top she finds a small room, as if the top of a watchtower, the windows shut. In the middle of the room is a glowing ball of light, various pieces of gear floating in the air, circling it. She realizes these are Tavar’s belongings, a holy symbol of Pelor floats by, defaced by some unknown force.

A voice calls to Tempest, telling her to wait here, that Tavar will need her help when he returns. The thief sits and waits. Hours pass, the walls slowly begin to ice over, until the room she is in no longer resembles the one she was in. The glowing light begins to pulse and the floating items are drawn to the light. With a flash, Tavar returns, confused. Tempest soon learns that Devas do not retain their memories from life to life, and is attempting to catch Tavar up on their predicament when the rest of the party rounds the corner, ogres and mind flayer in tow.

Suspicious but eager to move on, the Tiki Man accepts that the newcomers are members of the party. Confused, Tempest and Tavar join the group and move deeper into the mirror maze until they reach the illusionary wall they had found before. The party explains that a chute is on the other side leading to the chamber where the dragon is. The Tiki man sends one of his ogre guards to investigate, a moment later it calls up with the all clear.

The group enters The Whites chamber, the Tiki Man immediately fixates on the frozen dragon. A group of ogres calls down from the chute saying that they are blocked off for some reason. Daelock had placed a more durable illusionary wall behind the group as they entered, blocking off the Tiki Man’s reinforcements.

Noises can be heard further into the chamber. The group stalls for as long as they can, hoping the copper will come help, but they are forced to attack to prevent the mind flayer from taking its prize. Combat ensues. A second mind flayer has a dramatic entrance, riding atop a giant falling icicle which shatters, spraying the party with shards of ice. He is then promptly trounced.

The Tiki Man teleports atop the frozen white dragon and throws his powers around from there. Astrarian flies in at this point, fighting a devil knight which is clinging to his belly. They crash into a wall and trade blows for a moment before moving onto another room, Astrarian sending a spray of acid down on some ogres in an attempt to help. The acid begins to burn through the ice entombing The White, the tip of a wing poking through, twitching.

After a decisive blow is struck on him, he calls upon the power of Hadar, dread star of madness, growling an extra huge tentacle out of his shoulder, summoning tentacle doom from the ground, and reanimating his fallen ogre minions. He then plunges his new appendage through the ice and into the dragons chest, ripping out The Whites heart. The castle begins to rumble. Damn load baring villains. The party continues to fight as more and more chunks of the ceiling fall.

The Tiki Man attempts to devour the heart but it is stolen from his grasp by Tempest just before a large chunk ice crashes down, killing the mindflayer. Astrarian flys back into the room, the devil knight having caught a chain sword into the copper’s hide, dragging behind and whipping his other weapon at the dragon. A spell thrown by the party knocks the devil into a chunk of debris, its sword coming unlodged. Along with Astrarian, the party escapes the collapsing castle, then being carried off in a broken wagon by the dragon. On the way Tavar is caught up on his past life, or at least the portion of which the party knew him for, being a staggering 3 weeks.

Taking shelter in the Tiki Man’s lair, the party recuperates and attempts to remove the brain slugs from their comrades, both who have fallen unconscious. Investigation points towards the brain slugs not being the traditional mind flayer tadpole, as without the presence of an elder brain, young could not be produced. It is learned that these slugs are some sort of experiment the Tiki Man had created. Instead of creating more illithids, these merely take control of a host body, steering it around as a puppeteer.

After some thinking Daelock inacts a plan to remove the slugs from his comrade’s minds. The gnome uses his powers of illusion to create in Vorastrix’s mind the fealing of being in raging inferno. Vorastix being highly resistance to fire seems unfazed, the brain slugs feels as though it needs to escape the body before it burns, begins to wriggle out of Vorastrix’ ear canal where it is caught and jarred.

A similar tactic is used on Lucif. Instead of fire, Daelock tries to implant the vision of dying in the swordmage’s mind, forcing the brain slug to want to escape the dying body. This succeeds in making the brain slug leave, but causes Lucif into cardiac arrest. Intervention on Tavar’s part prevents the eladrin from dying.

The party discusses their next step. The learn that they must kill the colossus guarding the black pyramid in order to be able to escape, and that it was once done before. The library on the north east side of town is the party’s best bet of learning anything.

Tavar notices a key in his pocket. The others inform him that it’s a key to the merchant’s shop. Deciding to grab a few things to aid them, Tavar and Tempest visit the shop. Upon arriving they hear a loud commotion as something large thrashes about the shop. The Halfling from the jungle has captured a large beast is attempted to sell it to the merchant. Tavar immediately recognizes the beast at Surly, his rage Drake from his most recent past life and angrily reclaims the beast from the Halfling.

The party rests and plans their next move. The next morning they set out for the library, leaving Vorastrix and Lucif to be watched by Astrarian. The library is surrounded by the remains of an academy, rubble created perhaps from some battle. The library, however, is untouched. Entering the library, the party is greeted by a small spheroid construct acting as a librarian. After directing the party to books on various matters, the librarian informs the party that no pets are allowed, and begins the attempt to remove Surly from the building. The best it can do is repeatedly roll into the beast’s foot, failing to even become a nuisance to the drake. I swift kick to the construct sends it hurdling out the door and down the front steps of the building.

Free to investigate the library without interruption, the party delves into a section dedicated to Karavakos himself. The books appear written at least a hundred years after Karavakos’ conquering of the world, everything there claiming him to be a great ruler. Realizing they will only find propaganda, the party moves deeper into the library past a pair of locked doors into a much larger section.

The books here are not labeled, the covers blank, inside each page only contains one or two letters, placed in various places among the pages. The books give off a hint of magic. Sure that it is a puzzle, Daelock quickly a number of theories but ultimate fails to derive any meaning from the books. As the party moves along the upper levels of the library, a figure emerges from a side room, immersed in a large tome he is carrying. The party recognizes this figure as an aspect of Karavakos. Looking up from his book, the aspect notices the party, the group seeing that half of the tieflings face has been warped into some obscene facet of wrongness. The aspect leaps from the balcony and attempts to flee a spell from Daelock blinds him, halting the tieflings progress.

A pair of robed creatures, large eyed and mouthless, enter from the room Karavakos previously occupied and join the fray, quickly felling Buzart with their powerful magics and swordplay. The party refocuses their efforts onto the two newcomers as Karavakos shakes off the magic blinding. Seeing his allies have come, Karavakos makes for the stairs to join the battle. At this point, a cloaked figure phases through the wall adjacent to the balcony. In a blur, the figure dashes towards Tavar. With a flurry of blows it has the cleric pinned and stunned. It whispers in Tavar’s ear taunts, calling the cleric, “Old friend”. His hood slips off, revealing him as a Rakshasa.

With only two party members no incapacitated, things look grim. The new combatant plunges his twin daggers deeper into Tavar, bringing the cleric to the edge of unconsciousness. A deft blow from Tempest sends the Rakshasa rolling in pain, releasing Tavar who is then free to heal himself and Buzart, who angrily stands up and rejoins the fight. Tempest notices that the Rakshasa has dropped a dagger, her dagger. She reclaims it and uses it against assailant, blinding him with his own blood. The new figure speaks to Tempest, claiming that he should have killed her when he had the chance. Still blind, he gracefully tumbles back and then phases through the wall.

After a hard battle, the final blow is struck on the aspect of Karavakos. The tiefling loudly claims that he cannot be slain just before his head explodes (there indeed existing a button inside people’s heads that cause that). A shadowing substance claws its way from the corpse and flies off towards the pyramid in the center of town.

The hooded figures stand down. They have no wish to die, and claim to serve the party in their master’s absence. They are the keepers of this place, knowledge eaters. From them the party learns that this section of the library is filled with books created from the souls of those who have died in the Pyramid of Shadows, their secrets only showing themselves to those they want.

The party ends this episode entering the head office of the library.

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Episode 106
History Lesson

A History Lesson and Preperation

The party enters the head office of the library, hoping to find out more information on the pyramid, Karavakos, the colossus, and most importantly, the means to escape. The office contains various pictures of previous headmasters of the ruined academy surrounding the library, various items of the said headmasters, a large oak desk (or perhaps made of a more fantastical wood), and in the center, a mechanical device that shows the alignment of various important stars.

Among the writings on the desk, the library’s Karvakos’ notes, the party learns that he was attempting to garner power from Gibbeth, the cursed green star, his contact with said entity causing the mind warping features on the left half of his face. It is uncertain if this would have eventually lead to his escape or not.

Amongst the items the party finds a few magical items, as well as a vial of residuum. Tempest, having been a cat burglar in her “normal” life, spots where a wall safe would be hidden, and removes the painting covering it and sets to work cracking it. The party wanting to help, tries to find a combination amongst the items in the desk and find a series of numbers, too many to make for a combination unless it was coded somehow.

A light glint catches the party’s eye, a pair of stars in the mechanical diagram a lined up pointing the small glowing suns light onto a wall. The party figures out that the numbers on the slip of paper are dates, dates from an era that none of them recognize. After inputting the first date in the device, the stars realign themselves and three of the stars, Gibbeth the green star along with an unidentified red star and a blue star create a line of white light onto the portrait of the 13th headmaster. Tempest, already on the 4th number in the combination by this point, confirms that that corresponds with the combination she’s discerned on her own.

A race begins to see if the planets will tell the combination before tempest can crack the safe on her own. Right as the light shines on the final portrait, Tempest has cracked the safe, and luckily so as the final portrait was missing from the wall. Inside the party finds some more residuum and gold bills and coins with Karavakos’ face on them.

About this time Vorastrix returns find his way back to the party. Astarian had dropped him off and then went onto some errand on his own. He also informs the party that Lucif had not regained consciousness. It’s learned that the party in the library had been gone for a week, but to them it had only seemed like a few hours.

Moving on, the party returns to the library halls. Asking one of the mouthless librarians about the colossus, the party is directed to one particular soul book. The pages, like the other books, are devoid of anything but a few letters. However a section near the back tells the tale of a man who had witnessed the fall of the colossus.

The book is told through the eyes of a man named Gunter “Oak” Crowley. He tells of a group of 5 adventures who had come into the pyramid to free the wrongfully imprisoned. The adventures had persuaded Oak’s leader to allow them to use a one of their holy sites, a giant structure known as the hanging gardens, as a trap for the colossus.

From a friend, Oak learns that there are 6 sigils, invisible except when exposed to certain magics, that are the weak points of the colossus. When all six are struct, the colossus will lie dormant and a 7th will form that will kill it for good. The book goes on to describe the battle, that ensues, that the adventurers had help from The White, and that in the end, two of the knights, sacrificed themselves to destroy the colossus.

They learned that the adventurers had forged a sword specifically to show where the sigils were and to strike the final blow to the giant. It had belonged to one of the twin knights who had sacrificed themselves, and currently lied beneath the hanging gardens.

The party makes for the gardens. A map tells them that it is a giant horse shoed shaped structure far on the east side of the city. The party makes their way there, encountering the colossus along the way. They hide and let it go by, watching as it chased after a group of devil legionnaires. It’s noted that the colossus seams to be moving slowly, almost like it was herding the devils towards the pyramid.

The party arrives at the hanging gardens, or what is left of them. Only a tiny section of the structure still stands. The party searches for an entrance to the underground but cannot find one. They make for the standing remains, hacking their way through the thick vines that had grown their, searching each floor. At the top they look down upon the remains. From here they can see that in the middle of a hedge maze is a massive reflecting pool that has the shape of a sword.

The party descends and finds the entrance underground near the head of the reflecting pool. Below they find a series of tunnels with large roots growing throughout them. A face in one of the roots speaks to the party, telling how they will have to face a series of five trials to ensure that they are ready to face the colossus, before they are ready to actually obtain the sword.

Two obnoxious and tedious challenges later, the party makes for the third but finds a pile of rubble where the door should be, a hole in the side of the room opening up into a cavern. The party finds tunnels created by kruthik, cat sized buglike burrowing creatures. Hopping over an open aquifer, the party moves on and finds themselves in a larger room, what appears to be a large kruthik hive on the other side.

Rumblings can be felt and pair of xorns appear, burrowing into the room. The party warns Tempest and Tavar of them, quickly describing their last encounter. These xorns however appear to be a bit nicer than the others. They explain how they are keepers of the kruthik, but the kruthik are mindless and will attack if the party does not leave. Another rumbling can be felt, the xorns warning that the party should leave before “it” arrives.

A shadow hulk, a more powerful version of an umber hulk, makes it’s way into the room. The party begins to fight it off as the xorns hold the kruthik in check, but eventually the kruthik numbers swell beyond the xorns control. The bugs swarm the room, attacking both the party and the shadow hulk, more of a hazard than any real threat. The shadow hulk is proving to be a powerful and annoying adversary, his gaze causing the party to become dizzy and attack their own allies.

Eventually the party feels the best option is to leave. They are able to escape by way of jumping into the open aquifer, allowing the current to carry them away from danger. The aquifer shoots them out into a small underground lake. The party swims to shore and rests.

Moving further into the caverns, the party finds a collection of skeletons hanging from vertical stone slabs over the water. They are able to tell that the water was much higher here at one point, and that the bodies were eaten away by small crablike creatures that even now inhabited the water. Most of the bodies are various common humanoids, but a mind flayer corpse is also found, prompting the party to move hurry along, not wanting to deal with anything that captures and tortures mind flayers.

The party finds where the aquifer begins again, this time however they are able to walk. After some travel they hear the humming of a machine up ahead and rushing water. They find a room with a large machine is churning the water about, other tunnels like the one the party is in, pour water into the room. The party has to jump into the large pool to reach the walkways on either side of the room. When they do, unseen entities attack.

A rather smooth battle ensues with a number of water archons during which many feats of badassery are made. You had to be there, sorry.

Buzart finds a section of the wall is a slightly different color than the rest of the room. A series of mighty blows from his hammer open a pathway back into what looks like the trial chambers. The familiar face in the roots speaks to the party, congratulating them on completing the trials. The party can tell they had skipped the actual trials, but weren’t about to tell. The roots open a door leading down a dark set of stairs into a room where the sword was being held.

The party finds a trap on the stairs and hears and loud clatter and movement in the room. Daelock sends his spider to scout, which is promptly squished by the flat side of a giant blade upon reaching the bottom of the stairs.

A plan if formed and the party enters battle. Using darkness created by Daelock, which the party could see through but not their adversaries, they are able to easily fight the trio of large war devils, the bone devil, and their chaos crystal.

And then the shadow hulk joins the fight. More good times ensue.

A sleep spell renders the shadow hulk after the devils are vanquished. The party decides to let the beast live. They then learn that the loud clatter they had heard before the fight was the twin knights’ sword being destroyed. The spirits of the twin knights appear, explaining how that they had bound their souls to the sword in order for it to be powerful enough to defeat the colossus. Promising to set them free the knights when all was over, the party takes the sword fragments and leaves through a tunnel found by the devils leading right to the sword’s resting place. Convenient.

The party decides its time to deal with Old Man Vakos. They return to the building than contained Vakos’ cottage, and can instantly tell that something is amiss. The grass on the little hill has died, the light pouring through the roof onto the cottage has returned to the oppressing red of the outside, and the cottage as a whole seems to have aged and fallen into disrepair.

Tempest offers to do the dead and kill the old man, not having had any prior meeting with him, she can push it aside as just something she has to do. Vorastrix will have none of that, and goes in to meet Vakos. The old man is sitting in his armchair next to the fireplace, the fire having died out long ago. The tiefling talks with a strained voice, asking where “it” is. They party circles around the chair and finds that Vakos has rapidly aged, his sorrow over losing his locket leaving him in some kind of corpse state.

Vakos’ eyes having rotted out, cannot see the party around him. Daelock attempts to give the head of Vyrellis to Vakos, much to the silent disapproval of Vyrellis. Vakos drops the orb, not knowing what it is, and feebly asks for his locket back. The locket is returned and Vakos cradles it in his hands, opening it and feeling around inside, finally content.

Vorastrix explains to Vakos what they have to do, and how he hopes when Vakos rejoins Karavakos as a whole, he will return the good in the man’s soul to him. Vakos seams to understand and says to give the locket to his whole self as a reminder. The deed done, the shadows claw themselves from Vakos’ corpse and make way to the pyramid. The party returns to the Tiki Man’s cavern to rest and prepare.

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Episode 107
The Escape

Returning to the Tiki Man’s cave, the party rests and plans their next move. Astrarian is there waiting, beaten and bruised from whatever errand he had been on. Lucif still lies unconscious. The party updates Astrarian, who offers his help in vanquishing the colossus. The party returns to the merchants shop to purchase items to help them in the battle with the colossus and hopefully find a way to repair the twin knight’s sword.

The merchant recognizes the sword and gives the party some potions and a ritual that will transfer it’s enchantment to the party’s weapons and implements. Over the next couple of days Daelock studies the ritual while the other prepare. Tempest practices flying around on Astrarian’s back, planning to utilize the dragon’s speed to lure the colossus to an ambush point and then, as the sigils are destroyed, fly around and distract.

They party decides to use the ruins of the hanging gardens to trap the colossus. They plan to have the colossus collapse a tunnel below the ruins to trap it’s leg in place, and then go from there. They are able to lure the kruthik and the shadow hulk into helping carve the area out beneath where they plan to have the colossus step.

They day arrives. Keeping out of the colossus’ anti flight aura, Astarian is able to hurl a large bell at the giant’s head to get its attention. The colossus follows, when it arrives at the ruins it seems pause, possibly remembering its last fall here. It stomps forward and tries to step on a party member, only to find that it’s an illusion and that Daelock has set a magic trap their, simultaneously destroying the sigil on the colossus’ foot while collapsing the tunnel catching it’s leg.

With their empowered weapons, the party is able to have a much easier time with the fight than the original knights. Tavar rides Surly about, now equipped with anklets allowing the rage drake flight, distracting the colossus from the party members climbing it. After most of the sigils are destroyed, Astrarian is caught in the colossus’ grasp, much like The White had been in the Knights attempt. Tempest attempts to leap from the collosus’ hand onto its forhead, but doesn’t make the distance. She falls over a hundred feat, skidding along and smacking into the colossus’ chest and leg in her descent until she finally impacts with the ground, unconscious and barley clinging to life.

Tavar is able to quickly revive her in time for the final sigil to be destroyed and the onslaught of angels to come. Vorastrix and Buzart enter into the colossus to activate the final sigil as the others defend from the outside.

Astrarian is able to pull himself free from the colossus’ grip at this point and engages the mass of angels while others break off to deal with the party on the ground.

Upon entering the colossus, Buzart and Vorastrix trigger it’s inner defenses. All memory of their adventuring lives are stripped from them, and the pair live their lives as if they had never begun adventuring. Buzart lives a life where he is the captain of the guard in his home town, honored for single handedly holding off the final defenses against a Drow invasion. Vorastrix becomes a powerful mage and a prominent member in the aristocracy of his hometown.

A cloaked figure appears to each of them after roughly 30 years in the dream, imploring them that they must leave, that others were counting on them. The cloaked figures must return several times over the course of several weeks before they are able to convince the pair to take action.

Each in turn attempts to visit a place they’ve never heard of, eventually disovering that the world only contains things that they know, the rest being filled with generic endless paths through forests and plains. They learn they must do something drastic to shake themselves from the dream. Buzart returns to his town and destroys the bridge he selflessly defended all his life. Vorastix commits suicide. The pair awakes, mere minutes after they entered, 30 years of false memories still with them. They wordlessly move further in and destroy the final sigil.

The colossus defeated, something very different happens from what was told in Oak’s book. The world around the party begins to collapse, starting from the outside of the city moving inward, towards the black pyramid. Astraian scoops up the party and flies them towards the pyramid gates. As the party crosses the threshold of the dooway, they clatter to the ground in a dark entrance room. Astrarian is nowhere to be seen.

The party is able to push through a barred door into a barricaded room. They surmise that this is where Tannis must have been at one point. A doorway is left open, the party can tell it was not forced open, decide that Tannis must have went this way and move further in. The find a series of corridors, everburning torches adorning the walls between doors to empty prison cells.

The party moves to the next floor, which is much like the one below, except the torches flicker from time to time, the corridors seeming to be as well kept as the one below. The next floor is the same. They party surmises that they may be going in through the same halls and each floor is a different era in time.

In one hall the torches flicker off. A terrifying scream echoes through the halls, seemingly moving past the party and the torches relight. The party begins to find zombie like corpses in the prison cells, head severed or pierced with what may have been a crossbow bolt. The party sees a figure up ahead, from the silohuete they can tell it’s the angry halfling they encountered in the jungle; he’s holding his javelin awkwardly though. When they move closer they find that his javelin has been forced through his mouth out the back of his head, his corpse propped up here in the middle of the hall for some unknown purpose.

In another room the finds the corpses of the sphinx, it’s wings ripped off, along with a rack covered in torsos, various torture devices lining the room, the corpse of the nothic lying among them, its eye missing. Movement down a hall is heard, something dragging something. The party sees the shadow of something large being drug around a corner. Daelock’s spider is sent to scout, it too scared upon it’s return to give a full report. Around the corner is the corpse of the minotaur, or at least the lower half of it. A dripping sound causes the party to look up. Hanging from a grate in the ceiling is the top half of the minotaur.

A laughing voice is heard. However it’s only heard by Vorastrix, and when he looks to the party they’ve vanished. He cautiously follows the laughter to a cell, and finds the corpse of a dragonborn inside. Vorastrix’ armor begins to giggle in response to the laughter in the cell. Vorastrix recognizes that his armor is called “Laughing Death” armor and enters the cell and gingerly takes the armor from the corpse, who is adorned very similarly to Vorastrix himself. Leaving the cell he finds himself reunited with the party.

A hissing sound is heard, the party investigates and finds a tiny black sphere, a hole in existence slowly sucking air into it. As the party progresses they find more of these and decide that whatever ate away the world on the outside of pyramid must be making it’s way in here.

More movement is seen, something flying through the air past an intersection. Rounding the corner the party finds the split jawed flying bone naga they saw leaving Nebnensoel from before. They converse for a while, Splitjaw explaining how he saw the volcano vault doors open and went to investigate and was trapped here, months ago. To the party, they’ve only been there a couple weeks.

Splitjaw explains how he knows a way to enter the tower apex where they might escape but needs help. The party agrees to help and follows. They naga leads them up a few flights of stairs into a massive chamber, bridges stairs and platforms for several stories up, everything bathed in a eerie purple glow. Devils can be seen crossing platforms, fighting back some sort of ooze. Splitjaw flies upward, telling the party he’ll meet them up top.

Things would have gone smoothly had a large tenticle not decended from a platform grabbing Surly. Tavar held onto the beast and was forced to watch him being pulled into a portal to the far realm.

The party begins their ascent, picking the best of an near infinite combination of stairways and bridges. Tavar enraged by his friend’s grim fate, leads the charge, blasting back any black ooze they encounter. They party travseres ooze ridden coridoors, leaps over pits being created by opening black holes, and does their best to avoid any more tentacle portals.

At one point the party spies the shadow hulk fighting a group of devils, who in turn are fighting back the blackness. They are able to blind the hulk and steer him into clearing a path. Eventually the party finds themselves in a hallway lined with portals, tentacles blindly reaching back and forth. Unable to move back due to another black hole opening, the party moves attempts to make their way through.

Tavar is caught and pulled through, the cries of Surly can be heard and the cleric is tossed from one portal to the next until he finally escapes, his power drained from the trip. A couple others are likewise pulled through but escaped, also sapped of their energy.

After a long stairway they party reunites with Splitjaw, who directs the party to move a large obelisk onto a platform. Obelisk in place the platform begins to ride through a diagonal hallway. Silently the party rides the lift, watching the various openings in the walls, waiting for something to pop through and attack. Five tense minutes but combat free minutes later they reach top. There they move the obelisk into another slot, opening a large set of double doors leading to a large room barren of anything save for a pair of large lit braziers on the far back.

“Freedom!” Splitjaw screams as he darts to the back of the room, arcs of fire shooting up from the ground as he passes between the braziers and vanishes. A split second later a figure appears from the gateway. The party recognizes the figure as the hell knight that was fighting Astrarian back in the frozen castle. The hell knight draws his weapons, spins them in his hands, takes few steps forward, and then turns to the side and kneels. The party braces themselves for whatever will come through next.

A hellforged titan stomps through the gateway, riding atop is a tiefling, the younger and now whole Karavakos. A short dialogue ensues where, when asked to identify himself, Karavkos replies, “Names are for friends, so I don’t need one”.

A tense battle commences. Many forms of darkness are used, combatants are tossed about left and right through teleportation, chain swords, and other things, fire shards fly about the room raining flaming death on the party, and all kinds of hilarity and chaos ensues. At one point Tavar is pulled into a poisonous opaque cloud and begins to choke to death unseen by the rest of the party. A voice calls to Tempest telling her of Tavar’s fate and she rushes in to rescue him.

Through a series teleportation spells, Karvakos and Tempest swap places, Tempest now riding the hellforged titan. Karavkos shrugs off the swap and teleports back onto the titan only to be surprised to find Tempest there. The rogue then snatches and powerful looking amulet off Karavakos’ neck and hops off.

An illusionary cage, aptly named, “The Box” is placed around the titan, however the cage is just small enough to allow Karavakos to Stand through the top of it and continue his attack. The one way visible wall allows the party to fight the titan who blindly flails through the illusions walls. Eventually the Titan is brought down and Karavakos is dropped into the cage where he is slain.

The room begins to be eaten away by the black void when a white light appears in the ceiling shining on a large disk set into the ground. A voiced urges the party to quickly step onto the circle. The group ascends through the ceiling into a brightly lit room. The party can tell they are in the apex of the pyramid. The room is breathtakingly beautiful, white and black marble inlaid with gold adorn the rooms walls and floor, a giant window peers out into a star filled void.

At one side of the room is a long table, at the end an, an elderly Karavakos sits, seemingly exhausted. The body of Tannis sits in the chair next to him, his throat slit.

Karavakos explains how when he was reunited with the portion of his soul from the library he gained the knowledge on how to speak with the stars, and due to his own self loathing, cast the pyramid into the maw of Acarmar, a corpse star that eats anything in it’s path. However when he was reunited with Vakos, he did all in his power to slow the process he had started, until the party could arrive and escape.

He goes onto explain how Tannis had helped him prepare, and had gone ahead to the other side. The chalice that Tannis sought held the key to escape, its magics allowing them create an elixir that, while killing themselves in this world, would return them to the real world. The problem was that if the wrong amount was taken, it was cause such pain to possibly cause insanity. Tannis bravely tested the drink first, and when he began to violently convulse, Karavakos was forced to slit his throat, too weak to even cast a spell or plunge the dagger through the half elf’s chest.

The old tiefling goes onto explain some the reasoning behind his actions in life, how he had gone into the pact with the best intentions, but now he sees that he was wrong and after and untold time in the pyramid, just wishes to finally be allowed to die. The party accepts his explanation and sits with Karavakos. Daelock presents the head of Vyrellis to Karavakos, who teary eyed apologizes to the gem.

The party asks about the Ruby Rod. Karavakos replies that he doesn’t know anything about its whereabouts. The party checks Tannis’ person and finds it. Relieved that their search is finally over they accept to drink with Karavakos and go home.

Karavakos pours each member of the party a certain amount of elixir, forced to use his mage hand spell due to his own hands being to unsteady. He jokes about how his last spell ever will be for something so trivial. He gives Buzart extra due to his dwarven constitution, and very little to Daelock. Karavakos warns that Daelock has the biggest risk of going insane due to his small size and that he should water it down further.

Karavakos then pours for himself four times as much of the elixir than what he gave to anyone else, apologizes to Vyrellis a final time, then drinks. Daelocks hides the gem from sight to keep Vyrellis from having to watch as Karavakos begins to convulse and froth at the mouth.

Painfully long minutes pass as Karavakos continues to shake until finally he passes on. The party looks to each other and drink. The feel the pain that Karavakos warned about, but it is nothing like what the old tiefling forced himself to endure, and eventually they fade into unconciousness, and finally death.

They were deceived.

Daelock continues to live, paralyzed and unable to move or talk, but still aware of his surroundings. Clapping is heard accompanied by calls of bravo. A young and wild eyed Karavakos appears and claps the older Karavakos on the shoulder who stirs, coughing up blood and other fluids claiming how hard that was.

Three other entities of Karavakos appear, a shadowy one, one who’s entire face is marked by Gibbeth’s madness, and a stoic one appearing in his thirties. The older Karavakos hands the wild eyed one a knife, directing him to cut out Daelock’s heart so that, “he would know how it feels”. The wild eyed tiefling gleefully sets to work, the older one watching with a bitter hatred in his eyes.

Unknown to anyone else, Buzart is also still alive, the poison taking a longer time with him. The dwarf is paralyzed much like Daelock, and is forced to watch the grisly act before he finally fades.

Tavar hears a voice urging him to wake. He opens his eyes to see Vyrellis, full bodied, standing over him. Tavar looks around and finds himself on a chunk of the pyramid floating in space. Vyrellis touches his head and restores his memories and tells him about what Karavakos had done. Vyrellis then takes Tavar’s hand and leads him through the void, near weightlessly hopping from one chunk of derbis to the next until the reach the pyramid apex still floating in space. There Tavar finds the bodies of his comrades, minus Tannis.

The Ruby Rod is gone.

Tavar sees the teleportation circle where Karavakos escaped. One by one he drags the corpses of his friends onto the circle, then activates it. Flashes of color and light fly by as he and Vyrellis travel through space and time. Vyrellis, a spirit now, begins to apologize to Tavar and is stopped in confusion when she sees something behind Tavar. Tavar turns around to see the corporeal Vyrellis reach around and plunge a knife into his back. The physical Vyrellis’ face shifts to the of the Rakshasa, saying that he “will meet you on the other side, old friend” then disappears is a flash of light.

Tavar falls to the ground. Pulling the knife from his back he finds himself alone in the volcano vault. Looking to the corpses of his allies, he immediately begins his grizzly work of resurrecting them all.

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Episode 108
14 Years Later

Days pass as Tavar resurrects his allies one by one, the group sitting in mostly silence contemplating there next move. During the ritual, the presence of Vyrellis can be felt for brief moments, possibly helping guide the party’s souls back to their bodies. The party finally revived, Vyrellis appears and thanks the party for releasing her, apologizing for the pain Karavakos caused them then leaves for the hereafter.

Attempts to contact Cebias are made, the spell goes through but no response it made. The party prepares themselves for whatever is waiting for them outside the vault and exit. They find the remains of countless zombies, having been hacked to pieces to keep them down. The massive portal that was inside the volcano has now vanished. Rubble and debris left from the fighting litter the city, and the party is able to leave without conflict. At the mouth of the cave Tavar finds bits of the rope where he had tied Surly.

At this point Buzart leaves the party, first to deliver the challis to Tannis’ hometown, and then return home. The party decides to investigate a nearby town before they teleport to the mountains nearby Cebias’ home. Arriving they find the town devoid of any people or any indication to where they have gone. Tavar visits the graveyard alone looking for clues on the gravestones and finds none.

Tavar then calls to the Raven Queen, goddess of death. He offers his soul, which normally would stay on earth to reincarnate into another Deva , to the Raven Queen in return for the power to protect his allies and slay the Rakshasa that hunts him as well as put an end to Karavakos. To seal the bargain he tattoos himself with the mark of the raven. No sign of recognition is given, but Tavar feels that his offer has been heard and returns to the party.

The party teleports to the mountains and continue their way back to Cebias’ Manor. They pass through another emptied town on their way, still with no clue to where anyone has gone. Weeks later they arrive at Cebias’ Manor, the roof of which has exploded from viney growth. Inside they see the lobby’s tree has expanded considerably. They find a small shifter girl who runs off and returns with what the party recognizes as Hawthorn, much older than they had left him.

Hawthorn explains that the party has been gone for 14 years. When Cebias failed to contact the party, he had assumed the worst and gone into a fit of depression. When years past without feeling the presence of the Ruby Rod, he felt confident that the party had found a way to destroy it at a great but necessary cost.

Four years after the party’s departure however, the nightmares returned to Cebias. The wizened mage waited until the presence of the rod stopped movement far to the north. He then formed a team, leading it himself this time to go forth and destroy the rod.

Cebias has not returned for a decade. Hawthorn explains that he knows Cebias still lives, as he has been sending him sendings weekly. He then describes how Cebias had left something behind, hidden in the feywild in case something should happen to him, but he left it hidden and guarded so anyone without the skill to take up the journey to rescue Cebias could not find it.

Hawthorn describes how towns have been emptying, and how the wilds have become more dangerous. His brother and niece being the last of their tribe after the rest mysteriously vanished, retreated to Cebias’ Manor where they have lived in seclusion, traversing the feywild for food as opposed to traveling the mortal realm.

The shifter offers to take the group into the feywild to a powerful sending stone so that they might converse to whatever family or colleagues they had before making their journey. In the time to prepare for the trip, Vorastrix attempts to commune with the gods, Ioun god of knowledge or Corellon god of Magic being his main interests. He instead is answered by a strained voice seeking out Cebias, calling the mage his friend. When explained where Cebias was, the voice sadly departs.

In this time, Tempest notices that Hawthorn has been avoiding her. When she confronts him, he tells her that Cebias had gathered a group of adventurers to aid him, Tempest’s mother being one of them.

Days later, Hawthorn guides the party to the sending stone within the feywild. A large unassuming boulder surrounded by circles of smaller rocks. Each of the party speaks with anyone that seems like they would want to know they were still alive. Vorastrix contacts his patron, a silver dragon named Ornisk and reports in. Tavar can’t remember his life prior to being in the Pyramid and such contacts no one. Daelock reports to his peers in the gnomish council. Tempest attempts to contact her parents, her father is behind some barrier preventing communication, and her mother cannot be felt at all. The young adventurer does not take this well.

Their time with the stone done, Hawthorn leads them on the path to Cebias’ had hidden his final message. Various creatures, faded fey, and the wilds themselves try to hinder their progress, but the party pushes on with little difficulty, arriving at a grove with an unusual tree.

The face appears in the and tree speaks to them, asking where Cebias was. Vorastrix recognizes the voice as the one he had heard earlier. When asked who the tree was, it gives no name, explaining how when certain Eladrin are born, a special tree is planted who’s spirit and life energy is connected with the Eladrin.

From the tree, the party learns that before Cebias left on his journey, the old wizard had hidden a small package within the spirit tree. When asked how they could retrieve the package, the old tree gestures to a patch of overgrowth at the edge of the meadow. In the brush are a hatchet, and an axe.

Much discussion comes of this. Some of the party refuses to kill the spirit tree. Attempts are made to send a familiar within the tree to retrieve the package but fail. The spirit tree assures the party that even if they do not do this, it will die anyway as it is living on borrowed time.

The party is split on the matter, a scuffle breaks out causing the Tempest, already distraught at her parents’ situation leaves the group the decide on their own. Eventually the deed is done, the tree hacked into its base, large enough for Daelock to enter and retrieve a small chest. Inside are some papers from Cebias’ journal as well as a small magical bauble shaped like two triangular pyramids intersecting each other.

The tree still lives, but will eventually die from this act. It does its best to try and reassure the party that this was the only way and that everything will be all right. The party vows to return Cebias to the grove before the tree dies.

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Episode 109
A trip to the city

Short version.

Party teleports to Whitehaven. End up in wrong teleporation circle. Meet Lucif’s old familiar. Learn that Karavakos is using spirits to fuel machines and artificial limbs. Meet Tempest’s dad. Run into some rebels who direct them to a inn outside the city with other rebels.

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Episode 110
The Frozen Tower

Short Version.

Inn is attacked by devils. Rakshasa makes an appearance and is captured by the party. Rakshasa offers to help the party by teaching them how to access a teleportation circle near their destination. Party teleports to a frozen tower infested with undead. One undead in sentient and does not want to fight. The party dubs him Argyle. Outside they find a buried airship and are able to get it to run. Argyle is able to fly the ship. They head to the cavern of lost souls to find that it’s missing. The winds direct them further out to sea where they find the cavern, an huge iceberg now.

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