Dawn Shatter

Chapter 11: The Temple of Learning
Puzzles and Mystery Below Winterscorn

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.

Pages Updated:
- The Dawn
- Other NPCs
- The Devilblade of Deodaryx
- Wryin Shanraa
- Alethia’s Research on the Dawn War

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Interlude: The Return of Mortekan

On the way north to the Temple of Learning, the ship was visited by a strange guest. A massive creature of pale stretched flesh, a tentacle arm, and no mouth. Though horrific, Matisse immediately recognized this as Mortekan, the ancient and powerful wizard that he, Malcolm and Rusty had met half a year ago in Magekeep Tower.

He started speaking to the party in a psychic broadcast that rang out in the minds of everyone on the ship, including the crew. This had to unfortunate side effect of freaking out the already on edge mercenaries as well as informing them that the party had been lying and Malcolm was very much alive. In order to stem this problem, Mortekan and the party decided to meet in a field down on the ground, far away from the crew.

They met in a field in the Wyrshann region, a few miles south of the ruined city of Falston. It was there that Mortekan decided to come clean with the party and catch them up on what was going on:

Their world was not the first to face a threat like this. In fact, they are the last. Each world in what Mortekan called ‘The Multiverse’ was once a copy of each other, but developed in different ways. Some were actually known to the part – such as fantastical places like the Feywild or Shadowfell. Mortekan explained that each of these worlds had been destroyed by the Elder Elemental Eye, and now it had set its sights on this world. The LAST world.

Even more dire was the fact that each world served as a ‘chain’ to bind an ancient and terrible horror at the depths on the Abyss in the Elemental Chaos. This ‘Chained God’ that went mad back during the days of the Dawn War was on the verge of being freed, as every world save this one had its chain ‘broken’. Mortekan explained that he knows this because he has traveled from plane to plane, universe to universe, to try and stop it from happening since it turns out it was he that unleashed it in the first place ages ago when he was still a simple human wizard who had set off on an adventure with his allies just outside the town of Hommlet in his home kingdom of Greyhawk .

He also talked about Void and the One in Darkness. The One in Darkness was once a god that was betrayed and destroyed at some point, and while the God’s territory in the Astral Sea was seized by its usurper, the god’s domain was not taken by another god. This domain – a dormant power – fell forgotten and into darkness where it seethed and became consumed by desires of revenge. It awakened as an entity of its own, not a god but a sentient form of power called the One in Darkness. It found Void, who was driven by revenge himself, and freed him from the White King. As it turned out Void was one of ‘The First’, the prototype Dawn Knights created by the White King upon his ascension into power created from those around him in the capital city at the time. In particular, Void was actually Emperor Alric Brelan – the last emperor of Anduris. The White King stole Alric’s body from him and bound his soul to a corpse for all time. This is where the One in Darkness found him, and gave him the freedom to seek his revenge and reclaim his body as the One’s servant.

Mortekan also spoke of Malcolm and his condition. Confirming that it was completely possible that the Devil Blade that Baern wore could be the solution to Malcolm’s problem. He explained that Baern went insane not because of the gauntlet, but because his mind was already fractured and held together by the influence of the White King. Once that influenced was severed, nothing was there to keep Baern’s psyche intact. He said that he might be able to piece together a ritual to track Baern if he had access to a library like the one at Skypierce Tower, or the Temple of Learning.

Finally, Mortekan discussed the crew of the Gray Flame. He revealed that Lenny was formerly an assassin, Qiton was exiled for murder, and Haffston was a con-man (not that anyone didn’t already suspect that of Haffston.) More importantly, he revealed that the very suspicious Senerah was actually Nahrees, Dawn Knight of Stone! That a Dawn Knight had been working with them for WEEKS now and had been watching them. She was also likely responsible for the death of Matthias Seerbane.

Armed with this knowledge, the heroes returned to the ship to face ‘Senerah’. But found a grissly sight. Nearly everyone on the ship had been slaughtered, their corpses shredded and strewn across the ship. They found Nahrees waiting for them, torturing Haffston, Qiton and Lenny. The heroes jumped into action and attacked, but upon being struck, she revealed that she had already gotten what she came for and dissolved into sand on the wind. The party freed the remaining crew, attended to their injuries, and cleaned the ship while searching for what Nahrees was talking about.

It was then they discovered that the body of Rusty’s father was missing.

Fearful of the repercussions of this, the party continued to the Temple of Learning.

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Chapter 10: The Elves of Tyjar

After concluding business in Haivar, the crew set course for the nearby Tyjar Forest in an attempt to acquire the Astral Cipher said to be in possession of the elves there.

As they wandered into the massive woods, the party encountered the Dawn Knight Baern, who appeared to be going insane. He explained that he was free from the White King thanks to the Devil Blade he had acquired in Skypierce Tower and he was now free to complete his real mission. It was then he demanded the book from the heroes. The party tried to convince him to stand down, and that they were actually on the same side, but in his confusion he panicked and fled in a pillar of fire.

Shortly after their encounter with the Dawn Knight, the party happened upon the other inhabitants of the woods: A pack of werewolves. Confronted by their leader, Kolak, and his second in command, Rustfang, they explained that they were descended from a group of loggers that came into the forest and built the long forgotten Shardwood Keep. They believed their ancestors were cursed by the elves and turned into werewolves and now seek revenge on the elves. Driven further than ever before by the fact that now the Rot had creeped into the forest and corrupted not only the wildlife and trees, but the werewolves as well causing them to lose their fur and take on more aberrant appearances, they asked the parties help and promised a reward in return.

Finally, the party traveled south to Shroudtree, the ancestral camp of the Tyjar Elves. There they met with the Elders of the tribe, who explained that the werewolves were not cursed but that they had slowly been corrupted by the energy of the destroyed Feywild that seeped through the portal sustained by the Astral Cipher. However, it was this same portal that kept the Elves long lives intact and if it were closed – curing the werewolves – it would kill off the elves.

The elves also had a chip on their shoulders about the werewolves who had spent years killing and hunting them, the huntsmaster of the elves – Latharien – asked the party to do the opposite of what the werewolves wanted, open the portal completely, so that the elves would grow powerful on the fey power and be able to defend their home from werewolves, orcs, etc. The party took offense to this idea, insisting that a truce would be possible. The Elves cited that Eladrin like Alethia and Matisse wouldn’t know what a truce was, since it was the Eladrin that drove the other elven races out of the Feywild in the first place.

Left without a clear ally, the party had to find their way to the astral cipher themselves. Following the Fey energies to their source, they found An’ealur, the Breach in the Wood, an ancient cavern built into the roots of a tree that housed the Astral Cipher and the last gateway to the Feywild.

However, the cipher was not unguarded, and in an unfortunate twist Malcolm was killed by an Owlbear. However, Malcolm was resurrected quickly by the Seed of Rage placed in his chest by the White King and it turned Malcolm into a hideous monster propelled by seething rage. The creature known as Malcolm shredded the Owlbear, but the revelation dawned on him that with each blow of his newly formed claws he drained life from those closest to him. They knew now that a cure for the transformed Malcolm just leapt in priority.

Finally, the reached the chamber of the portal. The moment of decision came as the Cipher have to either be opened completely or sealed forever before removing the Cipher from its base. The party decided to open the portal, and empower the elves. However, after they did this Rustfang, second in command to the werewolves, sprung from the shadows. He had trailed them after killing Kolak, convinced that they would betray the wolves and now he had his proof. He and two others attacked the party, but he was defeated by Rusty teleporting the corrupted werewolf into the Feywild portal where was dragged into darkness by living razor vines that severed his arm. The battle was not without casualties on our heroes’ side though, as both Alethia and Matisse chose to draw on the corrupted powers of the Feywild portal and to increase their power but were left with an insatiable hunger for arcane power.

The party took the arm to give to Lenny to help with her ‘perfect blade’ and left the chamber. Upon exiting, they met with Latharien who thanked them for making the “right choice” and presented them with a magical flute from his tribe.

The party then had to figure out how to get the now monsterous Malcolm back on the ship. They devised a plan to make it look like he had died and brought the body back on board. They stowed him in the lower decks where Malcolm find a place to hide beneath the floor panels. Deciding that their best chance for finding a solution for Malcolm lied with hoping to make a deal with the sinister God of Secrets, Vecna, the party headed north toward the Temple of Learning.

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Chapter 9: The Liberation of Haivar

As our heroes descended into The Haivarian Downs, and made their way to the once golden city of Haivar, they found that the shining reputation of the land of Pelor had become darkened. The walls of the city were lined with corpses and skeletons hung with the signs marking them as ‘heretics’, ornaments and monuments the Cult of the Dawn were raised across town, and even the once glorious holy tree of Pelor stood dying in the city square.

The party first and foremost sought answers as to what was going on. When the gods fell silently after the destruction of the Brelani Empire, the city of Haivar fell into despair without their patron god – Pelor. In their darkest hour, they turned to a new faith and joined the Dawn. Since then, Haivar became the primary recruitment grounds for the Dawn. This belief was only strengthened by the recent discovery of an ancient artifact in some ruins to the East. The tiefling who found it has become some what of a holy man to the Dawn worshipers who call him Prophet Ahn’ju.

However, their investigation turned up even more secrets. That something was being dispersed across the population through the air and water, causing large open wounds across people’s bodies that pulse with large blisters and crimson crystals. While trying to find the secret of whatever was causing this, the party also found Christof Volk, a member of The Crimson Wartide, an organization of master swordsman that were under the leadership of Rusty’s father. Christof was searching for Rusty’s father, who had been taken prisoner in a large cavern system beneath the city where the primary bulk of the Dawn’s forces were situated.

The heroes assembled to break into the underground caverns during the large ‘cleansing,’ The Festival of Purification. Using a large portal summoned under the guise of large flame, they broke into the secret installation to find dozens of people trapped in cages. After freeing the prisoners and brilliantly throwing a number of guards out by reversing the portal, they began to explore. Deep inside the tunnels, they found an ancient temple devoted to the Dawn with a gateway filled with the miasma of the Wastes, possibly leading into the dead lands. They also found a laboratory where a crimson liquid was being used, and witnessing as it caused the strange crystal growths they had seen on the towns people above grow and twist until erupting and breaking the test subjects apart and turning them into nightmarish creatures.

Finally, they found the heart of the complex, where the leader of Haivar, Lord Thaarlas Diromar, awaited them with his guardian, Xyn. While Diromar spouted off veiled threats, Alethia leapt into action and cast a spell of Instant Friendship on the Lord. His mind confused and bent into unwilling allying himself with the heroes, we revealed that they had been dispersing a watered down version of the crimson liquid they had seen in the labs into the air via incense and through the city’s water supply. However, they were only able to question him shortly before they were interrupted by a ghostly visage of the White King himself.

The White King offered the heroes a way out, to transport them and their loved ones to another world where they would happily live out the rest of their years in peace in exchange for turning over the fate of Anduris and this world to him. The heroes declined, to which the White King declared then he had no choice to levy the full force of his armies against them. Using his control over the Seed of Rage that lie within Malcolm’s chest, he forced Malcolm to kill Diromar. Then the city began to shake, as the entire underground complex was torn apart by a massive tornado. The party was lifted up and flung into the air, landing on a chunk of earth where they found the Dawn Knight of Storms, Zavris.

They battled Zavris, leaping across stones and flinging themselves about in the winds, finally Alethia landed the killing blow with a magic missile. Upon his defeat, Alethia gained his Wand of Wonder, which imparted some his memories to her where she learned that Zavris was once her father, Sizvar Damodred. Then a strange woman with massive bat like wings and veiled in cloth appeared and tore a hole into Zavris’ body, ripping out a pulsing stone that sparked with lightning. She wished the heroes a good fall as she flew off and the tornado dissipated, leaving the land mass they had fought on plummeting to the earth.

Luckily, they were caught by the crew of the Grey Flame, who were fetched by Senerah. They whisked the party back down to the city, where the people clamored around declaring them their savior. Rusty, glowing with Pelor’s light, declared that their patron had not forgotten them! And they continued to cheer and wished to know what to call the heroes. They announced that they shall be known to the people of Anduris as “The God Squad”. The reaction was mixed, but the people accepted it.

But their business was not done. Rusty immediately launched an expedition to find his father in the collapsed tunnels. They did find him, but found that he had been crushed by debris and had only a short time left. In his dying moments, Rusty’s father declared Rusty the new leader of the Crimson Wartide. After a moment of silence, Rusty issued his first command to Christof, ordering him to rally the members of the Wartide for battle against the White King and his forces. They then cast gentle repose on Rusty’s father and took the body back to the Grey Flame where Lenny built him a coffin.

After a solemn evening, they convened with the crew to decide their next course of action. They set their sights on Tyjar Forest to find the final piece of the Key of Iggwilv – The Astral Cipher.

OTHER NOTES

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Interlude: Catching Up
Remembering Recent Adventures...

A summary of what has recently happened…

Faced with the ever encroaching apocalyptic fate that the cult known simply as The Dawn wishes to bring upon the world, the heroes have set off across the land of Anduris to complete the goals set forth by the ancient and powerful wizard known only as Mortekan. They have been working to gather an army, recruiting both the military of the city of Camnir and the remnants of the Falston militia. They have also begun work to re-open the gateways to the Astral Sea that have blocked the influence of the gods of both the Astral Pantheon and the Black Council, beginning with the Temple of Nature that resided in the hollow center of the massive mountain of Felost Peak. The group now turns their eyes to the conquered city of Haivar, a once proud center of worship to the sun god Pelor, this city has come under control of the Dawn Cult. Our heroes have arrived the morning of the Purification Festival – some unknown celebration of the Dawn’s ideals to remake the world.

Our heroes have not been without their own conflicts as well. Recently, the Vecna worshipping servant Mathias Seerbane was found to have gone insane and allegedly tried to cut out his own tongue after looking at the strange markings inside the Dawn Codex, a book of supposedly powerful rituals once used by the White King himself. He was subdued and tied down, then gave the group an enigmatic revelation “The book is not itself”. While pondering the meaning of this, the group was visited by a distraught Void. Who is slowly losing himself as every ounce of his plan begins to unravel in front of him. He revealed that the this group of descendents of the bloodline of Oreyn Nerath are not his first attempt to subdue the Dawn and the White King. That he has reasons for wanting revenge as much as the being he serves (the mysterious ‘One In Darkness’). While discussing things, the newest addition to the crew – an adventurous and bold woman named Senerah Hoenthal – rushes in to inform the group that Matthias has ignited into flames and perished.

Investigations the next morning turned up that Matthias apparently had flint and tinder that he used to ignite himself on fire without the use of magic. However, suspicion grows as the possibility of evidence being planted during the night while they slept is pointed out. Eyes now turn to Senerah, who was revealed by Void to be the apprentice to an older ally that Void once used to try to subdue the White King, as a possible infiltrator and enemy. Deciding to keep an eye on her, the group decides to drag her along to Haivar. Meanwhile, Void sets out to see if he can track down where Mortekan has wandered off to in hopes of finding answers to the strange Dawn Codex.

On top of all of this, is the ever present concerns about Matisse and Malcolm. Both who have been scarred by their failed bargain with the White King earlier. Matisse remains concerned about the fate of his Mother, who may have become another servant of the White King. Malcolm on the other hand has a more immediate concern. A seed of seething rage has been imbedded into his chest, growing from hate and corrupting his body. His arm has become a grotesque visage of its former self, with exposed flesh and twisted boney spikes growing out of it. The gods have warned them, that Malcolm may not even be human anymore. Just as the Abyss corrupted primordials and elementals into the first demons, Malcolm is becoming a horror never witnessed in the history of the mortal races. The need to find some way to counteract or cure this transformation becomes dire, as Malcolm may soon become just as much of a threat to his friends as he is to their enemies.

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Chapter 8: The Temple of Nature
Part 1: Are you there Corellon? It's me, Matisse.

I know that you’ve been distant lately, but I’ve always felt your presence before. Even in my darkest despair with my mother’s soul in the balance, I could pray to you and hear you. It may have sounded like a faint echo returned in a cave but your presence was there and I felt your power inside of me.

Now though there is nothing. The closer we have gotten to Felost Peak the more I feel you farther and farther away. It’s like a dampener has been put over your flame.

As we got closer to the peak on our flying boat, we noticed a dragoon of dragons overhead. They were there to guard the peak, but fortunately they are not good at their jobs and were easily paid off with a few magical trinkets.

We were able to rappel onto the peak and go inside the mountain which turned out to be a large temple structure for many various gods. To my horror, the temple has been desecrated. Is this why you are gone from this place?

We had to choose between traveling up or down the mountain and we chose the higher road. We entered a temple room for ? where we had to fight some spider creatures. We were able to defeat them with help from your power but you yourself were still nowhere to be found.

I’ve been quite disturbed by this lately. I know that part of the reason we are at Felost Peak is to release the power of the gods, but what if The White King is right and only the elemental chaos matters anymore? What if the world doesn’t need you anymore Corellon? After all, my mother was brutally tortured and made a slave…if you existed surely you would have helped her, one of your most devoted worshipers?

I am sorry for thinking such blasphemous thoughts my lord. Though it’s not like you can hear them, right? Maybe I’ll enjoy the silence.

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Chapter 7: Falston Under Siege
Part 1: Excerpts from Malcolm Trinnian

On the Grey Flame:
2 days after the collapse of Skypierce Tower

The bar area has been turned into a make shift hospital. Alethia’s is asleep in a bed next to Malcolm’s. Malcolm opens his eyes for the first time since the tower collapsed.
Matthias changes Malcolm’s bandages.

Malcolm (weakly): “How bad is it?”
Matthias: “I almost don’t want to say, Sir.”
Malcolm: “That bad hey. Its okay at this point I think I can handle bad news.”
Mathias: “About half of your body is badly burned. It will be a gruesome scar, if you survive.”
Malcolm: “Then we’ll have another thing in common. He, he, he (weakly)”

*Excerpt from Malcolm’s Journal: *

It has been 7 days since the collapse of Skypierce Tower. Recovery is slow and painful. For a week I couldn’t even open my eyes. I have been th… You will pay for your treachery worse then burning! Your heart is mine! I must have blacked out for a bit. Alethia is in the bed next to me. She is mending much quicker, which is good because I think the smell from my bandages is getting to her. Haffston is no doctor or surgeon. Fortunately his skill at mixing concoctions does wonders for the pain. We are back in Camnir. I thought we were done here. Matisse and Rusty are going to get us a “fighting force” for the ship.

On the Grey Flame:

The night of the Full Moon

Malcolm is in his room.

“AHHHHHHHHH!!!!”
Alethia, Haffston, Qiton, and Matthias rush to the door of Malcolm’s room. It is locked. Qiton tries to smash it down with his massive shoulders but it is like running into solid wall. Malcolm is sealed.
Malcolm finds himself chained to the ground in front of the White King’s throne. “Malcolm. I am disappointed.” As Malcolm raises his head, he sees the White King sitting in front of him, a strange glowing gem surrounded with pulsing flesh wrapping around it like a net. “For a thief, your ability’s are fairly lackluster aren’t they?”

The White King stands and descends down the staircase, "I promised you eternal suffering for you and those around you, didn’t I? Your friends? Loved ones? All will suffer for your choice.”

“Choice, so that’s what you call it. Choice like when you hold a friend’s mother hostage,” Malcolm says wincing in pain.

“Oh he had his choice too. But first and foremost…" the White King shoves the frightening looking gem straight into now Malcolm’s chest. As the crystal embeds itself deep in Malcolm’s chest, he can feel it grow and expand inside him; a painful heat grows across his insights. “Your suffering will continue, Malcolm. Your body will decay. You will wish for death but it will not come. You will become a monster, feared by all, and you will bring pain to those around you.”

As the White King speaks, Malcolm’s face contorts with pain as the seed grows and then turns his insights into in the icy chill before turning in a stabbing pain which grows back into burning sensation.

Alethia holds a fire ball ready to throw it at the door, but Qiton busts through the door, ripping it off its hinges. They find Malcolm on the floor bleeding. Mathias picks him up and places him back in his bed while Malcolm mutters “White King” in his sleep.

The next day

Malcolm wakes up to find Alethia in the corner of the room watching him intently. “Nice to see I have company.”

“More like making sure your room stays open and you don’t have another episode."

Malcolm sees the splintered door on the ground. “I’d say the door looks pretty open.”

“I wanted to ask you last night but you lost a lot of blood. Qiton told me to wait till morning to ask you. What the hell happened last night?”

Malcolm tries remembering. An image of the White King flashes like lightning across his mind. The rest is jumbled like it was scratched away and it burns his mind. Malcolm winces, “I don’t remember, but it has something to do with the White King.” Malcolm rubs his chest. Malcolm starts unwrapping the bandages from his chest. “Might as well not hide it from a wizard.” A black star-like scar covers the middle of his chest. “I guess this is what I get for talking with strangers.” Malcolm forces a smile to try and lighten the mood but fails to change Alethia’s concern

“This isn’t good. We should tell the other’s soon.” Alethia gets up from her chair.

Malcolm holds out his hand “Don’t!”

“What?”
“Don’t tell the others.”
She looks at him with concerned annoyance. “Okay?”

“Malcolm continues. “If I change and start acting…different, you end me. You got me?”
“Got it.”
“A little more hesitancy would be nice,” Malcolm responds.

“What am I supposed to say, you made a deal with the bad guy that screwed us over.”
“I did it to save Matisse. When you see a friend play a hand with the devil, sometimes you have to join the table to pull them out.”

“A noble thief,” Alethia says a bit sarcastically.

“You’ll kill me before I turn. Last thing I want is to become his slave. I will not fail you guys again.”

Alethia nods her head and leaves.

*Excerpt from Malcolm’s Journal: *

The ship is filled with the people Rusty and Matisse managed to round up. There’s hardly any room or privacy. Let’s just hope they can put up a good fight. If we loose the ship or my ass gets left with orcs…Your sole will burn as the seed of anger grows…I started training a few of them, seams like there getting the hang of it. The rot has expanded unnaturally fast. In the weeks spent recovering and getting more ship hands, There is more rot than land it seems, like a black ocean that has swallowed the land. We make haste towards the city of Falston. I have a bad feeling as if we might be too late.

The City of Falston

We arrived to find the city in ruins. The three orc armies have taken the Western half of the City. The human forces have been driven up north and I doubt they’ll be able to hold this patch for long even with our air ship’s cannon. Hope looks bleak. Today we saved Lord Warden Mathis Ferro’s daughter, Captain Ophelia Ferro. She was with a search and recovery party that got kidnapped in Fortune Square, which has been taken over by the rot. We saved her and her and what was left of her squad. They were impressed with our skills and even got a new companion. Her name is Senerah Hoenthal. She is very attractive. And a duel wielder. She’s even into the same music I am. I’d love to talk blades with her and examine her… qualities. Rusty doesn’t trust her. That’s fine. I don’t mind another less numbers in the equations means easier for me right. I mean man she is gorgeous, her nice as…

Knock. Knock.

“It’s Senerah.”
Malcolm quickly puts his journal away. “Come in.”

“Some members of your crew said you wanted to see me.”

Malcolm puts his arms behind his head and stretches while leaning back in his chair trying to act suave, but stumbles almost out of his chair but manages to catch himself.

Senerah eyes him for a bit.
Malcolm regains his composure “Yes, Um. How are you liking the ship?”

“It’s fine, never been on one that flies before. Qiton even showed me his canon. It’s really big.”

“So you like the ships cannon. I can fire it you know.” Malcolm messages his bicep.

Senerah eyes Malcolm again. “It does seem like Rusty does not trust me though.”

“Oh him, He still doesn’t trust me. Don’t worry about him. I am sure once he sees you in combat you’ll change his mind.”

“Thanks. So tomorrow we make our move on Temple of the Sun.”

“That’s right. Ophelia’s troops will strike and then we sneak up and make our stabby, stab, stab and get home for dinner.”

Senerah gives Malcolm the eye one last time. “Well, its late and I should probably head to bed you know for the ‘stabby, stab, stab” in the morning.” She heads out the door, but peaks her head back in, “Thanks again for letting me join your crew. I won’t let you down. Good night.” She heads out shyly.

“Good night… don’t let the bed bugs bite,” Malcolm says his words hitting empty air.

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Chapter 6: Skypierce Tower

After gaining the support and allegiance of the now free Camnir, our adventurous group of heroes returned to their ship, The Gray Flame, to meet with the man called Void. Upon arriving they found most of the crew to be frozen in some kind of living shadow, and Void sitting at the bar with a half empty bottle in his hand.

Void confronted Matisse and Malcolm about their dealings with The White King explaining that their ‘deals’ had forever scarred their souls, giving them the stink of the Abyss (although not all can detect it). Void also revealed that Mortekan had vanished from his prison in Magekeep Tower and that the dwarves of the Eyes of Ioun and pretty much all life in the area had vanished as well. With the pieces starting the fall apart in front of him, Void was obviously not dealing well.

Void spoke with Rusty about wanting the see the book, the Dawn Codex, which revealed that the more the party learns of the Dawn’s plans, the more they can read from the book. Malcolm and Matisse also found that the mere sight of the book was enough to drive them to pain now. After exchanging what everyone had learned, Void set off looking to investigate who the mysterious man who wandered into Stormwall that fateful night was and trying to see if he could find anything about the Army of 333.

With that bit of business done, the group decided to continue to follow Mortekan’s original plans, and headed to the nearby Skypierce Tower. When they arrived, the noticed there was no door. However, as Alethia stepped up to wall, a door magically appeared. Upon entering the tower, they were greeted by a sentient crystaline construct calling itself Yggnrl (Pron: Yigg-Nerl). It explained that Skypierce Tower is both the largest library of knowledge dating back to the founding of the Nerathi Empire, and a kind of bank for powerful magical artifacts. Yggnrl also explained that Alethia’s father had left her his own Lesser Vault on one of the higher floors.

After a short argument of semantics and permissions, the party went to investigate Alethia’s vault. Finding skeletons littering the place, they asked Yggnrl what had happened. It explained that some time ago, a man dressed in white attempted to break into one of the Greater Arcane Vaults to steal something. While the man was not successful in his attempt, he did escape as the rest of the tower was ‘purged’ from life and locked down for a number of years.

Yggnrl opened Alethia’s vault for her, inside of which they found a Handy Haversack magical backpack which contained two items. A Fire Wand for Alethia, and her father’s old notebook. Then they heard someone else entering the tower. Yggnrl excused itself and dissolved into a puddle. Deciding to investigate, the group wandered back to the central chamber. However, on their way they spotted an open vault with a large focusing crystal in it! The very thing Qiton said he needed to fix the ship’s cannon! Quickly they grabbed it and shoved it into Alethia’s new backpack. But in doing so they triggered the alarm and activated the tower’s defenses.

The party squared off against some Iron Defenders, a gargoyle, and a small Beholder before being able to peak over the edge and see that the man who had just entered the tower was dressed in a large hooded white coat decorated with red flame designs – Baern. After Yggnrl helped Baern to the top floor Arcane Vault, it returned to confront the heroes about their theft. However, Malcolm – ever blessed with a silver tongue – was able to convince the construct that they indeed had permission from the Xenestrian craftsman who owned the vault to ‘procure’ the gem they took. Yggnrl, convinced by the lie, asked them if they’re business was complete. They group said they liked to look at the library, so Yggnrl escorted them back to the first floor and locked their access to the bottom floors where the library was located.

The party immediately jumped into a plan to try to get Yggnrl to turn on Baern. Asking it a number of questions about whether of not the Dawn Knight should be prodding about in the vault. Ultimately, the convinced Yggnrl to allow them up into the Vault by asking to deposit the Dawn Codex into it for safe keeping. However, once inside the top floor Arcane Vault, they found Baern not entirely interested in their presence. Instead, he was looking for a Devilblade, a living gauntlet that can conjure a devilish sword out of thin air. While Baern wasn’t looking, the party as grabbed the Abyssal Gem that they had originally come here to find.

However, this didn’t go unnoticed by Baern. Who sadly told them that he knew what they just grabbed, he knew what they were doing, and if they didn’t stop, he’d be forced to kill them. Something he really didn’t care to do (As he mentioned that ‘killing them’ was more of Ataqir and Zavris’ thing). However, the group remained steadfast and with a frown on his face, Baern took his newfound Devilblade and shattered Yggnrl, triggering the tower’s defensive ‘purge’ mechanism. As deadly gas began to flood the tower, the group searched the vault quickly for anything they could use to help. Matisse found a small magical charm, Malcolm acquired some magical boots, and Rusty oddly found another red crystal, this one with what appeared to be silver veins running through it, sealed in a glass tube. When discovering that despite his best efforts, Rusty couldn’t remove it from the vault (despite the fact that everything else seemed removal-able) he abandoned it and stepped out to face Baern.

The battle appeared to be fairly one sided. The group easily beat back Baern as he attempted to cut the vault loose. However, Rusty noticed the more injured he became, the colors on his coat started to invert. Red on white slowly became white designs on a red coat. When the colors finished changing, Baern’s fire form was unleashed. He launched a group of fire bats at his opposition as he dueled Rusty with his Devilbalde. Though the fire bats make quick work of the ranged group members, they continued to try and talk Baern down from killing them. That he should just walk away. Finally, Rusty convinces him to just leave. Which Baern did. Leaping down the tower and igniting the rising gas into a giant fireball.

With their doom quickly rising up the tower, the heroes scrambled to try and find some way to avoid death. Trying to hide inside the suspended Arcane Vault, they almost all made it. Except for Matisse who became stranded on the outside of the tower. Malcolm, trying to lasso the eladrin into the vault, only managed to snag the corner of the massive cube and caused to start to spin (already made semi-loose by Baern earlier). Matisse was thrown off on to the ledge and knocked unconscious by the impact as the cube snapped off its suspension and began to plummet downwards into the giant flaming pillar…

The heroes awoke 20 hours later by Haffston, Qiton and Matthias. Badly injured and beaten, the heroes were brought out of the now charred and ruined tower and back to the Gray Flame. Rusty had a broken arm, Matisse had a minor concussion and some bruising, Alethia had some bruised ribs, and Malcolm – who was swinging out the door as the vault plummeted – suffered large burns across the entire side of his body.

Now recovering on the ship, they decided to return to Camnir and hire a full crew, with the Full Moon approaching and their time drawing short, the heroes began to fly towards the city of Falston, in hopes of aiding them against the Orc Invasion from Solshann…

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Chapter 5: Welcome to Camnir
Part 4: The Long, Long Night

After hearing the traitor Hortho’s speech, the adventurers grew very suspicious of the mysterious old wizard, now known as Joroth. Not wanting any unpleasant surprises during the revolt occurring the following morning, the brave men and woman made their way to investigate Joroth’s quarters.

Upon sneaking up to the suspicious wizard the heroes were able to eavesdrop on an important correspondence from Joroth’s true masters- The Dawn. The heroes fears that Joroth was untrustworthy proved true as they discovered the Dawn’s plan to destroy them. They would not go down without a fight! The heroes prepared to make their move as the wizard’s loyal elemental fire wolf blocked off any hope of retreat. With great courage they entered the wizard’s study and attempted to reason with, and intimidate him. It was a fierce but one sided battle as the heroes first destroyed his followers and then the powerful dark priest of the Dawn.

After disposing of the foul wizard, the heroes discovered a schematic of a large summoning circle and set out to warn the leader of the rebellion, Melissa Tornsoul. After recapping the night’s events and reassuring Melissa of the party’s loyalty- the heroes set off to await daybreak in a park in the Platinum Heights. Matisse meditated while the rest of the Knights of Oreyn searched for some sign of a giant summoning circle and contemplated the impending doom of the strict Baron.

As dawn slowly stretched over the city of Camnir the heroes heard the violent outcries of the rebellion sweeping the city from its lower levels and moved into position to storm the Baron’s home. Because of the crafty deal with the guards loyal to Hortho, the majority of the guards were staying out of the rebellion’s way. The Knights of Oeryn made it to the Baron’s quarters with no resistance in their path. They found the Baron guarded by only 2 soldiers in his extremely humble abode.

Catching the Baron in a state of surprise without his Lord Captain the heroes made quick work of the soldiers and weakened the Baron enough to surrender him to the Rebellion’s leader, Miss Tornsoul. And as quickly as that, the city of Camnir was turned over to the rebels. The amazing group stepped outside to survey the damage caused during the takeover, confident that all would be well with the world.

Just then, a great and powerful rumbling started deep within the Earth and the whole city began shaking as the hellish elemental An’sur Cal, spawn of Yan-C-Bin, was summoned from underneath the large dancing arena. The heroes looked in awe at the great being swirling before them. Truly this was the force they had heard rumors of- the amazing Seven Storms. They stuck together and fought valiantly as blast after powerful blast was dealt against them. The heroes remained calm as visibility declined and the whole area filled with sweeping tornadoes and lightning infused winds. Alethia lost consciousness 3 different times and the rest of the team bravely inflicted even more damage at the incorporeal monster. They were able to destroy the powerful being without their own wizard and were rewarded with powerfully charged storm crystals as the stormy being exploded.

Glad to be alive and incredibly tired after their all night ordeal, the heroes made their way to the docks to enjoy some much needed rest and perhaps a few of Smeltvor’s toxic tonics.

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Chapter 5: Welcome to Camnir
Part 3: Matisse's Camnir Meditations

Corellon Larethian, hear my prayers.

My mind continues to be troubled, my Lord. We are now in the city of Camnir but my soul has been under complete distress since I made that unfortunate bargain with The White King. Through much prayer and your guidance, I have decided that I may have to sacrifice my mother for the sake of bringing you back into the world. My mother always encouraged my studies and worship of you and I know she too was a fierce believer in your awesome beauty and power. She always warned me about those who would wish to destroy your place in our world and the need to keep you in my heart. I feel like the decision to sacrifice my mother is the only decision to make. But I know Malcolm made a similar deal with the White King…what is his decision?

In Camnir, my colleagues and I also have much deciding to do. We’ve been spending the last few days threading the needle between a rebellion taking place to overthrow the semi-dictatorial balance of power held by the baron here and remembering our ultimate goal of stopping the Dawn’s takeover of this continent.

To figure out the next steps, we’ve been doing our homework. I felt right at home at the city’s library where we researched more about Hortho’s rise to power in Camnir. There we found more mentions of Joroth. He seems to be quite an important figure, though nobody seems to know who he is.

That is until we did a little more investigation. After visiting Melissa in New Camnir, we felt that we were being spied upon by some kind of wind gust. Wasn’t the old wizard an air elemental? We figured we should visit him, but maybe be a bit clandestine about it.

Sure enough, we overhear a conversation between the wizard, now revealing himself to be Joroth. We hear a conversation between Joroth and someone else (WHITE KING? Or someone else?). The other person tells Joroth that Camnir must be destroyed so that its people could not be used as an army against his rule. He knows about The Knights of Oeryn and about our mission, though not that we are those knights he met just a night earlier. Joroth plans to double-cross Melissa and the rebels and essentially destroy all of Camnir.

Hearing this information, we know that we need to stop Joroth but still somehow support the rebel uprising without the use of Joroth’s promised elementals (who we are sure would just end up destroying the city).

The next day we manage to intercept Hortho returning from a meeting with Joroth. We kidnap and interrogate him in a small cave nook. The self-serving prick is only out for his own good and we are easily able to convince him to betray his city by making his guards stand down during the rebellion. In exchange, we let him leave the city unscathed to Malcolm’s disapointment.

All of these machinations are wearing. It feels as if we are players in a game we cannot easily control. We now have to rid Camnir of Joroth, convince Melissa that Joroth betrayed her and still continue the mission of helping overthrow the barron. Saving the world is not an easy task…one I am reminded of again and again in the all-to-real dreams I have where I experience mother’s agony firsthand and can do nothing to prevent it.

I’ve never felt more distant from you my lord Correlon, yet I feel you are guiding me from a distance like stars guide ships. Thank you again for all that you’ve given me. You have my everlasting devotion even as that devotion becomes more and more difficult to continue.

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