After meeting with Mortekan and deciding to head to the Temple of Learning in an attempt to perform a ritual to locate Baern, the party headed north to the Winterscorn Lakes. However, as they got closer to the supposed location of the Temple, Qiton explained that a massive snow storm covered the lakes and kept them permanently frozen. They set down the Gray Flame on the edge of the lakes and ventured into the snow on foot.
After wandering in the freezing cold for what seemed like hours, the party found a door. Just a door. Standing on its own in the blistering cold winds. The doorknob had the symbol of the Astral Pantheon carved into it, so the heroes took the leap of faith and opened it. Inside they found a warm and cozy room with four doors and a strangely behaving clock. The minute hand spun wildly out of control and the hour hand was firmly cemented on the number ‘2’. The party took a second to warm themselves up and then began to investigate. However almost every room they explored was identical to the first. The only exception being the direction the minute hand spun and which number the hour hand was on.
The riddle stumped the party for a good long while as they tried to experiment and test different interpretations of the clues they had been given. However, in the end it was lady luck that saved the day as they stumbled upon the exit that lead right into the temple of learning. Inside the temple they found a large circular room full of skeletal remains and a large steel door in the floor at the center of the room. The party deduced that they needed to find the keys to open that steel door, which was confirmed by a new friend: Sprite. A spirit bound the temple to aid visitors, although it appeared that his connection to the material plane was badly damaged. Sprite showed them around the temple, explaining that each of the keepers hid their key to the Chamber of the Gods in each of the gods’ rooms – the exception being Lolth whose room collapsed during the in-fighting between the worshippers after the gods’ influence was blocked by whatever creature was sealed below.
The party decided to venture into Corellon’s Studio first, at Matisse’s insistence. They found the decorated art studio to be magnificent if a bit dusty after decades of disuse. Matisse freshened the place up a bit and then the party began to examine the puzzle. A painting of a key on a platform. While the party saw the platform, there was no key. Other paintings depicted other objects from around the room on the platform. Deciphering the notes left with the paintings, the heroes figured out the correct order of objects to place on the platform before making the key appear.
They decided to venture into Vecna’s Vault next. The wet and dark well held many vaults that could only have objects placed in them but never taken out. At the bottom of the well, they found the key suspended in midair – however upon closer inspection they found that it wasn’t floating, it was suspended in the thick mass of a gelatinous cube. They tried to figure out the best way to avoid the cube while getting the key, but the room was designed to anticipate this and the stairs collapsed into a slide sending them all down into the pit. From there, Skeletons arose to battle the heroes along with the cube. But for each skeleton killed, a noxious dust filled the bottom of the well, making it harder and harder to breath. Ultimately, the party prevailed in defeating the cube and retrieving the second key.
Finally, they visited Ioun’s Library, where they found Mortekan wandering the stacks. He said he found a ritual that – although poorly transcribed – he thought would do the trick. He set off to the main hall to begin preparation for the ritual. The task for the key however was far more challenging. A chess puzzle compounded with a couple of riddles. The chess puzzle gave the party problems, but luckily some thought about the riddle gave them a clue to finding a key to open the chest and skip the chess puzzle lock. Claiming the last key they headed back to the main hall.
As the group assembled to open the door to the lower level they were stopped by a voice in the shadows – Void had returned but not alone. He brought a new ally, one he explained that had not been spied on for the past few months by Nahrees and thus giving them a wildcard in the war. He introudced the Half-Orc, Wryin Shanraa, a fighter and mercenary by trade. After the introductions were made, Void departed and the party descended into the darkness below.
In the Chamber of the Gods, the party found a room thick with black smoke. In the darkness, broke a sinister crimson grin and a pair of flaming eyes. The creature, who identified itself as one of the First – The Whisper That Screams – was happy to have new toys to play with and launched into battle. However, the heroes made quick work of her and her minions and freed the temple from its ancient corruption. The party was then free to greet the gods on their return.
The Gods were awe inspiring. Not only did Corellon bless his follower, Matisse, but he also began the process to raise the massive temple to the surface of the lake. The gods also asked if the heroes needed any aid, and the party requested knowledge of how to treat Malcolm’s ever increasing problem with becoming a nightmarish monster. The only one who could provide such answers would be the God of Secrets and the Undead, Vecna, but he refused to trade a secret for nothing. So Alethia decided to sacrifice the knowledge of the Star Walker or God who journeyed to the Living Gate and became the Not-Star-Walker to Vecna, erasing the knowledge from the world. In exchange, Vecna explained that the devils are immune to the corruption of the Abyss and their power can be used to overcome such corruption. Vecna told the party to seek out the God of Tyranny, and King of the Devils, Asmodeus in the Temple of Law.
However, their chance for saving Malcolm came much sooner than expected. When they had returned to the main hall, Mortekan was prepared for the ritual. But as they began to cast it, Mortekan realized that they had made a dire mistake. Instead of showing the location of Baern, it would summon him to THEIR location. Baern appeared in his broken mental state, and realizing the party was there he demanded the book once again. The party denied his request, and Malcolm demanded the DevilBlade from him. This only served to make Baern angrier and ignite himself into his elemental form. However, since the party were in a dome made of ice, it began to melt and flood the room with water. The party leaped into action and try to take down Baern as quickly as possible with the ever encroaching water making the situation more and more dire. Luckily, Baern was defeated although not easily. The water poured out from the main door to the temple as the building burst forth back into the surface world.
But it wasn’t over. Malcolm dashed for the gauntlet on Baern’s hand, ripping it off and trying to place it on his own. The entire party immediately tried to stop him and pulled him back from the devilblade. Malcolm raged, demanding to let him have it and that it was the only way to save himself. The party reminded him that while that was true, that Vecna warned them to be careful with the bargain because Devils are known for using anything you give them. They realized they had to figure out what kind of deal to make first. After discussing it, they allowed Malcolm to put on the Devilblade gauntlet. It snapped into place on his arm and began to burn away all of his flesh, replacing it by growing a liquid metal replacement in its place. Malcolm screamed in pain as his body was replaced with the new metallic one. After it took a moment, the new Malcolm stood up and took in a deep breath of air. A deep rumbling voice that was surely not Malcolm’s boomed out, “Freedom!” The party began to draw weapons when the body then announced his master, and Malcolm’s voice came back from beneath the metal face.
After some conversation, the living suit that now kept Malcolm alive and purified from the Abyssal corruption introduced itself as the devil Deodaryx, and that it had made a pact with Malcolm to purify him in exchange for a new host body to act from. Deodaryx was a devil of war, created to spill blood and claim souls during the battles between the Devils and the Demons. For a chance to kill again, he surrended the control of Malcolm’s body and his powers, and vowed to never bring harm to Malcolm’s friends. However, Malcolm neglected to deny him access to Malcolm’s mind, unleashing fonts of knowledge to the devil.
With Malcolm’s safety secured, the party then decided to complete their army and head for Kranok.
- The Dawn
- Other NPCs
- The Devilblade of Deodaryx
- Wryin Shanraa
- Alethia’s Research on the Dawn War