35th of Cathadan, 1744
I write my words now with both a sense of relief and of bitter disappointment. We have returned now to Gatefall from Roanvel, but we do not return entirely unscathed.
That night, we headed north through the execution room and past a broken wall into natural caverns. As we entered, Orokai discovered some viscous residue that was familiar to us: the slime of a Carrion Crawler. Horrible, unnatural beasts. They likely broke this wall into the prison, and lurked in these caverns below… We proceeded with caution, but it was unimportant, for we soon found orselves facing three of them.
The battle was perilous, at one point or another, all four of us had found ourselves stricken with their paralytic sting. Myself, I had lapsed into total paralysis, and if not for Tantos and his restorative mixtures, I might have completely faded…Finally I did burst free from my stupor and with quick action, thrust a force bolt to fell one of the horrible beasts.
Soon, the others managed to slay the last one and we took a brief respite after the ordeal. Orokai took the opportunity to harvest the beast’s brains, for they made ideal poisons for his weapons. In the process, the carcass yielded two rubies and a cache of gold pieces.
We descended the dark depths of this foul place and felt the despair of all the prisoners and every sordid act that had ever transpired..it weighed on our hearts like a boulder. We became affected by it. Rue found it difficult to tread nimbly or keep her balance..Tearwin became mistrustful of us..paranoid, he gave us as much of a berth as he could. Orokai got twinges of envy and the way he eyed our gold on my belt did not escape my notice.
Myself…I began to hear things, I jumped at shadows…I still cannot be completely certain they weren’t there..Fumus assures me they were not.
Tantos’s movements became slow, sluggish..I fear the toll on his constitution was more greater than ours..
At last we arrived at a chamber lit by dark candles, forming a nine-pointed star. In the middle of which was a being that could only have been Azar. To his side was a Rage Drake, but was black instead of the usual rust-colored tone.
When pressed for answers, Azar told us that the Disciples of Annihilation were merely his “tools”, and that he alone ruled these hills.
I suggested that his efforts were futile, the ritual could not be completed with the prisoners safely out of reach of the sacrificial chamber. His confidence to the contrary was genuine. He assured me that the ritual was completed already. I endeavored to recall everything I had read about the ritual from the book of excerpts..the ritual described therein could only be completed at the sacrificial circle..but references were made in the Forbidden Tongue (of Which I still only have a rudimentary understanding, more on that later) to the Kedav Azhra’bak itself, and of a ritual that may in fact be paid with a tax on the victim’s soul and not their blood…
This thought terrified me. If the ritual was in fact completed, then the “beast of nothing”, whatever that might be, was already summoned.
We had no further time for answers from Azar. He made a chant in the Forbidden Tongue and all the candles turned to utter blackness, that even our sunrods and my magic could not illuminate.
Having slain Azar’s companion beast, we ventured to destroy the dark structures generating this shadow, but this task was to be principally Orokai’s, as only his ancestry gave him the mental defenses capable of withstanding the assault on the mind delivered by the evil shadows.
Azar seemed capable of flitting in and out of this magic darkness, dashing in to strike at us before disappearing again. We worked to hamper his movements, with Tearwin’s wintry form and my own guardian blades of force. I also greased the ground in the midst of the shadow and drew Azar in to trip him up.
But things soon grew bleak. When Orokai fell to Azar’s blade, Tantos rushed (as soon as his malady allowed him) to his aid with a potion, giving Orokai the recovery he needed to press on. But before Tantos could dodge out of the way, a blade stabbed from out of the shadows through Tantos’s chest. I turned and stared. The battle seemed to slow, and the room spun. I can’t say why this boy elicited such concern from me, but he did..and there he lay dying..
Rue herself turned, and she seemed visibly distressed by this (a rare occurrence). She summoned her powers to grant Tantos a recovery, and I told him to fall back to the caves with Fumus. Again, we are indebted to him.
Once all of the dark shadow had been eliminated, Azar’s ability to appear in and out of the room appeared unaffected.
Tearwin having been struck from behind, we realized that he could use any of the shadows to appear at his whim…with Tearwin’s sunrod at the fore, I cast a magic light on the strap binding his hair to ensure Tearwin had no shadow. Orokai lit his own sunrod, and Rue mounted one in the felled drake to make sure Azar could not make use if its shadow. Orokai used one of the candlestands to keep his sunrod lit, and gave me the other, which I used a magic hand to hold high in the air. I dropped to the ground and urged Tantos to do the same, ensuring enough light in the room to prevent Azar from appearing anywhere but the cave entrance. It was there that the others maneuvered to attack him. I did what I could, firing unerring bolts towards Azar.
In a flash, I saw Rue gain the advantage, and with a quick motion, her scimitar separated Azar’s head, sending it flying across the room. Our task completed, relief washed over us as we headed back up to the prison to see the other captives. Our maladies seemed to have left us, but Tantos remained sluggish, and even pallid now..
When we got to the room with the other prisoners, they all appeared much the same. They all seemed despondent, and only Kerrwin was able to talk to us..they said this happened only a moment ago, and nobody had entered the room..and soon, we saw, a dark void had manifested itself on all of their chests. I wracked my brain but I could not explain any of this.
After a bit of discussion, it was decided all we could do was venture back to Gatefall and look for answers there. On the way, we talked with a few of them. Kerrwin asked me if the deeds they suffered could have had a dark design, beyond simple sadism. I told him, with a heavy heart, that I surmised as much. My only thoughts were that the answers lay in the Kedav Azhra’Bak. Voicing these concerns, it was Tearwin that suggested we look for it, even at the Citadel if necessary. I do not think there would be much use…the Citadel was empty, and besides, I do not know where the Vaults were. They had to be on the grounds of the Citadel, even within its halls, but cleverly and almsot certainly magically hidden. Only the Wizard Eminent and his most trusted Magisters knew where and how to access the Vaults. But perhaps…there was a way..
Perhaps we could find the Kedav Azhra’bak, and its noble balance, the Librum of Scales..
Tearwin and I tried to speak to Evelac. If this was the true Evelac, the once Wizard Eminent from centuries ago, and displaced by the sorcery that obliterated the Order, then he would know where the Vaults were located. We pressed him. He was barely lucid, but for a moment, he recognized the Kedav Azhra’bak and its dark portent. He said that he knew of the wizard assigned to research the Kedav Azhra’bak..and his name was Mourn. Of course it was him.
I do not know how the Mourn of my own time was known to the Evelac of ages ago. Perhaps whatever foul power the Disciples of Annihilation posses allows Mourn to walk through chapters of time like flipping through pages of a book…giving him access to the Order’s formative years to further his cruel machinations..or perhaps Mourn was from that time, and was only later brought to my own day and age..I cannot say. This magic is strange to me, and I will have to research further. Whatever our course, it seems that it will wind back to The One City, and maybe even the Citadel itself…we will begin our research in Gatefall, and decide further from there.
Azar’s lair held a few boons for us. Myself, I was able to increase the power and resilience of my staff. Enchanted armors were found for the others, and a fabled bag of holding now holds all of our treasures.
We were paid as promised by Councillor Maris. He displayed Azar’s head prominently on a pike, which I ensured with wards would not rot. The captives went to their homes, despite their dark illness. Tantos had no home, so he decided to stay with us. I figured as much from the moment he began following us. Tomorrow is Platinalia, and celebrations are in full swing. Having little knowledge of religion beyond that of the scholarly, I cannot say I have the same feelings about it as the townsfolk, nor do the rest of our party, but I cannot deny that the merriment is at least a good change of pace from the gloom we have endured the past few days. Fumus is glad to be able to walk about town without fear, and often goes without me, though always returns to my side.
The revelry will soon end, however, and we will begin our research. I made certain that Maris would ensure us unlimited access to all archives within the city. Tomorrow is another turn of the Wheel, and our fate lies in the knowledge held in dusty tomes and decrepit volumes. That could prove to be an adventure all on its own.
Session in Summary
|Quest Completed||Return to Gatefall with Azar’s head|
|Quest Completed||Rescue the nine prisoners (100 gp each)|
|Acquired||2 rubies||Party Fund|
|Acquired||110 gp||Party Fund|
|Acquired||Bag of Holding||Party Fund|
|Acquired||Defensive Staff + 2||Allarkin|
|XP gained per PC||750 XP|
|Party total per PC||3804 XP (Level 4 gained)|