Edge of Darkness: The Broken Circle

Session 58
The Most Annoying Fight Ever

From the Journal of Malaena Lucidius: May all the Watchers save me from wizards! This has been a day to test the patience of Mirila’ana and Rozerus combined. After a few “days” resting and healing in the throne room, we ventured forth to do battle with the Wu Jen and, eventually, with Lengzhu. Not halfway to the next room, our wizard and his companion managed to get trapped inside a cage of force, from which we had no good way to extricate them.

Those of us who remained continued on. We entered a room that was magically black, and reportedly filled with Hisskarssi wights. I seemed to be the only one of the party who could not see in the dark, and my magic did little to do away with the darkness. The wights were quickly dispatched, and then the endless fight against the sorceress began. She was able to become invisible, fly, and create walls of flame to separate the room. She was not, unfortunately, foolish enough to give up the advantage that flight gave her, making it exceedingly difficult to do any harm to her. She must have been nearing the end of her powers, for at the end, she fled. Invisible, of course. So now, we rest again, and hope that our arcane companions can free themselves, or else we’ll spend an eternity fighting an enemy we can neither see nor reach.

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Sessions 56 & 57
Dragon Mountain

Journal of Malaena Lucidius: If I ever leave this place, it will be through Miri’liana’s grace alone. After a rest period in the library—spent by all but Alexandra, Tash and me deep in contemplation of ancient Hisskarssi texts, we moved on to the next room. I’ll note here that I have no notion, anymore, of day or night. There are only quick, draining battles followed by eight to ten hours of rest, then more exploration, more battle.

Once we tore the scholars away from the books and scrolls, we entered what appeared to be an empty room. I say “we”, but I really mean Alexandra. We were suspicious of a room that offered no threat, and rightly so. Alexandra marked the traps, and then went to work disarming their trigger. This, apparently, greatly upset the ghost (presumed by Takeo to be Emperor Samaran, the mad ruler who lost the war against the humans and silver elves and thus precipitated the downfall of the Hisskarssi Empire). While we still waited at the door, he appeared and began to attack Alexandra. Though it took some time to navigate the trapped floor, Dusan, Takeo and Derek made it to her and began their counter-attack. The ghost eventually fled, again.

The next room had a more straightforward danger. Three more of those ceramic soldiers were there. Prepared this time for their hostility and tactics, the melee fighters attacked, while the wizard and his vipaani worked magic from a safe distance. It was going quite smoothly, for a battle, until the Mad Emperor returned to savage the spellcasters. Derek attempted to distract wraith, with some success. It again disappeared, while the rest of the fighters smashed the simulacrum soldiers. After healing all that I could, we opened the door to the next chamber.

In that immense space was the skeleton of a dragon, surrounded by the remains of Hisskarssi dragon knights. We closed the doors and rested, wishing to be at full power before attempting the fight that might be before us. Culann and Tash retreated to the library, saying that they would join us the next day.

The next “day”, Culann and Tash were still in the library. We went on without them, and again opened the doors. The room itself was odd—showing the passage of time, where all else in this place has been untouched. The signs of conflict were clear—one door looked melted. Weapons had been shorn in two. The bodies of the dragon knights showed to factions—one had fought with the dragon, one against.

Alexandra spotted some sort of trap near the entrance to this chamber, and managed to disarm it. We began to make our way across the room, hoping to avoid the notice of the giant skeleton. It didn’t work, of course. A spirit arose from the dragon’s bones, along with spirits from five of the slain dragon knights. The dragon-spirit then began to speak.

What followed was a long history of the fall of the Hisskarssi Empire, and an explanation of why this place is the way it is. To sum up, the conflict between the humans and the Hisskarssi has a long and complicated history, complete with the manipulation of Bahar by the Watcher of Deception. The culmination of this was the death of Bahar, which left the dragons and the Hisskarssi rudderless and confused. One of Bahar’s last orders had been the extermination of the human race. Some dragons kept to this last order; others did not; still others fled Ondoron entirely. In the midst of this chaos, the Emperor Samaran ruled. He was paranoid, and eventually only trusted two advisers, a dragon named Ang Wen and his son, a dragon named Lengzhu. These two exacerbated the tensions between the Hisskarssi and the humans and elves, who by this point had formed an alliance. It resulted in open war, a war that the humans and elves won. Samaran was slain. Ang Wen and Lengshu fled the battle, confusing the Hisskarssi forces.

It appears that the two dragons fled here, along with the emperor’s body and a Wu Jen, who’s name I cannot recall at present. Our dragon and those dragon knights loyal to him, fought a furious last battle against Ang Wen and Lengshu. Ang Wen was killed, and with his dying breath, cursed the Hisskarssi to a slow death as a race. Our dragon was also slain, but he used his powers to seal the mountain, imprisoning within Lengzhu, the Wu Jen, and the ghosts of the mad emperor and dragon adviser. Takeo’s presence here means that he may be able to lift the curse from his race. We only have to accomplish four minor tasks.

Two are done. The first task was to battle the skeleton of Ang Wen. It seemed a long battle, though it could not have lasted more than two minutes. The dragon again and again struck out with claws, jaws, tail and wings, dealing grievous injury to all within its reach. Indeed, I myself was wounded, though I did not suffer as others did, with injuries that seemed to sap the vitality and strength. In the heat of this battle, the Mad Emperor returned. I have taken hurt before, but nothing like the blows I received from this ghost. Its blade through my armor seemed to steal away my sense of self, my very personality. Indeed, as of this writing I have not recovered. It is disconcerting, and why I have returned to my journal.

Anyway, after much trouble and many wounds, both were defeated. Alexandra has a strange obsession with climbing on the backs of our larger foes, but as she seems to get deadly results that way, I cannot argue with her methods. I did have one good thought. The worst part of fighting the ghost of Emperor Samaran has been the depressingly little result that conventional weapons, even magical weapons, has had. I offered Takeo my quarterstaff, which has been enchanted to effectively handle the incorporeal spirits. This seemed to work much better, and made quicker work of the Mad Emperor. I am glad that it has finally seen some more practical use than merely being a walking stick and a totem against memories.

I digress. After the defeat of dragon skeleton and ghost, we entered the throne room. There, the body of the emperor was seated on the throne, clad in armor, a weapon in each hand and a crown atop his head. The spirit of the dragon, who had talked with us at length earlier, had told us that the person who wore the crown could (within some limits) command the ceramic soldiers. As there were some hundred of them within the throne room, we considered ourselves fortunate that we had put to rest the spirit of the emperor before entering this room. Takeo claimed the crown and armor. I have healed those that I could of damage to spirit and body. I will, though, require several more days to fully heal everyone. I am low on diamond dust, and would fain save it for after the battles that lie ahead.

For the two tasks we have accomplished, but two more await. We must face and defeat the Wu Jen. Then, we must enter the council room of the dragons, and slay Lengzhu, who is still living. If we manage this, the curse will be lifted from Takeo’s people. If we fail, then Lengzhu will be free. Our dragon has promised us some aid during this battle.

I know not why I write this. I have little hope of success, and when we fall, there will be none to read this.

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Session 56, 57, and 57.5
New Oracles, Death, Stories, and Visions

With the party finally ‘back together’, a plan was needed. What kind of plan? Good question.

Caiden believed that, if possible, we take out the remaining two vampires before they either left town or got word back to the Herald. That said, the druid took flight to find where in town they may be.

Despite his eyes as sharp as an Eagles….as…you know…an eagle, he was unable to find them. That being said he was able to find a spot near one of the crypts of town, a crack in the base a human could fit through. It was worth further investigation.

Simon shifted to an elemental and went inside. The path went in a ways and then fell steadily into darkness. Undeterred, Simon went forward…er….downward until getting to the ground some 50’~60’ below. A path led into the darkness farther from there. Following the path led to a large stone door. Being ever so clever, he decided to go under the door and pop up just above the surface of the floor, but found that something prevented him from actually surfacing. It was time to go back and tell the party what he found.

After relaying the message, the party debated the best course of action…which ultimately was to stop wasting time and deal with whatever was behind the door. They were, however, prepared that the Herald would be waiting for them, and since they had not dealt with them yet, the other two vampires as well.

The five of us braved up and went into the dark hole. After getting down the deep hole and making our way to the door we knew to be ahead of us, we heard a noise behind us. Thinking the worst, everyone prepared to take whatever had come for us on.

Out of the darkness came Count Atretheon, the Knight we were originally going to go to help find his missing children in the first place. After it was determined that neither of us were a body dropping organ vampire, we discussed that the Herald had told Atretheon to come alone if he wished to save his son, Thomas.

We let the Count do the honors of kicking the door down. Inside we found a classic scene in any good ritual. The helpless victim on an alter in the back, the dark and evil being of infinite cosmic power ready to dispatch of said victim to complete the ritual, and the two lackies on either side. All wanting our heads.

Little time was spent allowing the great and evil power to monolog their entire plans, though it didn’t sound like it was going to happen anyway. The battle was on.

The two vampires pulled their same tricks but the Herald proved to be the true fear. He made that point very clear when he pulled the green beam on the Druid, turning him to ash instantly. There was no time to mourn, just realize in the blink of an eye he was gone.

Black tentacles, fireballs that set us on fire, healing, Blasphemy, and surviving by the skin of our teeth. In the end we were at the very end of our resources. The Hearld proved to almost be the death to all of us. He came very….very close to ending us all. The Count was our savor in this case…despite us technically helping him in the long run.

The Herald did have one finally ‘gift’. In his last moments, he says ‘It Is Finished’, his hands shriveled to silver and was gone. What he meant was lost on us. It could be oh so many things.

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Session 55
The library within Dragon Mountain

So, after having deactivated the dragon paw sized trigger to turn off the fire, the part moved forward further into Dragon Mountain. We then ran into the ghost from the entrance of the mountain again. After some light banter and some proof that the ghost was just more than a little insane it attacked the group but fled before it could be finished.

Moving on through the chambers found the group in an extremely large chamber with wall covered in murals depicting many different scenes from throughout Hisskarssi history and was lined with bookshelves of perfectly preserved books and scrolls. The room had just a feeling of timelessness to it. In the middle of the room was a huge statue of a dragon. As we moved into the room the dragon moved into action and attacked. It was destroyed after nearly eating a couple of party members. The interesting aspect of that was that the construct was actually a prison. It would send you to its own little pocket dimension.

The group camped out the night in the library enjoying being surrounded by the vast amounts of forgotten lore from a time when the watchers were new, and magic was different. What trouble looms? What will they find? Stay tuned…

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Session 54
all hell breaks loose

PART 1 – Caiden

After hearing that some of the townsfolk may be in need of serious healing, Caiden went with the cleric of Miral’ana and the Paladin. His heart in the right place, his mind clouded by the thought of those in need.

Walking through the empty town was eerie and put Caiden on edge. He took a little comfort in calling to Miral’ana to allow him to see the undead before they could come to attack him. He breathed a little easier in the absence of any nearby.

The church looked rather ominous as the three walked up to the door and opened it. The cleric first, Caiden following shortly after, and the paladin pausing and looking around before walking through and closing the door. The paladin then bared the door and then walked in after us. For the brief moment, Caiden got the feeling that something was going to attack the three of them. The cleric held out a lantern and lead the way to the back room where the sick were held.

The rooms were dark except for the lantern. Luckily a blind man doesn’t need to care about the dark.

The healing room was filled with beds and the smell was rather strong. Caiden did what came natural and went to the first bed he say to see what he could do for them. It was quite evident that he couldn’t cure death. It was then that he turned to see the paladin draw their sword, coat it in a sheath of dark unholy energy and strike him.

Pain is an understatement for what he felt. He acted quickly, pushing past them both back to the main sanctuary, kicking the lamp to the ground in hopes their human eyes would be lost in the dark. His only hope was to find the pull rope for the bell tower and ring it for all he was worth. He had to call for help.

Sadly, the damage the two had done was quite extensive already. The cleric came in with an evil grin. She looked at him and sent a burst of dark energy all around her. It was like pure corruption moving through him. Caiden couldn’t take it. Darkness took him over.

The cold numbing feeling of the darkness was hard to ignore, but before all was lost, he felt strong arms embracing him and a voice he’d never heard before call to him. “I have you, my son. Today is not your day to die. I’m sorry I could not be there to watch you grow…”

His every being fought to hold on, see his face.

PART 2 – Wren & co.

So a cleric and a paladin walk into the house of the commoner without the Oracle of Mirala’ana and this can only be bad news. They turn into some kind of undead, head and intestine things and begin attacking. The “commoner” in the room turns out to be a sorceress and casts some sort of spell, probably meant to incapacitate the party. While Simon deals with her Wren, ARIC and the male paladin start fighting the cleric and the female paladin… and it all goes very poorly.

The cleric is backing the female paladin and they are doing major damage. The sorceress is also causing Simon a fair amount of trouble and the truth is the fight is not going our way. We’re on the verge of a TPK when Simon tells ARIC to cover us and teleports Wren out. ARIC, seeing that Wren is safely away makes a break for it and the male Paladin is left on his own. He makes a valiant effort, even managing to kill the paladin but eventually is taken down.
Simon & Wren teleport to his fortress where they collapse. When they wake up Simon announces he’s going back to see about Caiden, but there’s no way to take Wren. So he leaves her in the fortress where she will (probably) be safe. Unless he dies and doesn’t come back. Then the guards will put her out into the jungle that is the island and she’ll have to fend for herself.

ARIC goes looking for Caiden, but is unsuccessful in locating him. He does, however, evade the bad guys and meets up with the Druid.

PART 3 – Caiden & Simon

The next thing Caiden knows, he wakes up to Simon in the shrine. A guardian asked Simon to “Watch over my son” and then disappeared. Simon took Caiden and dim-doored out. They hide in a rope trick and by chance they find the druid and ARIC. The druid brings good news – if we don’t take down the Herald soon others will take action and that will be “bad”. So as soon as he can Simon is going back for Wren and we’re going after the Herald. This can only end well.

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Sessions 52 & 53
Losing Caiden... multiple times

So just about the time the volcano erupted the remaining party members got attacked by girallons. As the fight ended we suddenly realized that a couple had fled and taken Caiden with them. So we spent several days traipsing thru the jungle looking for him. Instead we found a plant monster and it tried to eat us. In the midst of the fight Simon showed up and did an impression of a gelcap n order to save Wren. Otherwise Wren would have been digested by the plant monster. As it was we lost the 2 minotaurs down it’s gullet. But we found Caiden in a tree. So we cut our losses and headed back to Simon’s new Fortress (which is very shily) and then we teleported back to Trigonum.

Upon arrival the Fire Elemental (Druid) got a message and disappeared. Wren got a sending telling her that her mother is dead, but she didn’t have time to say a word before a horde of zombie horses and gorgons appeared faced by a loan Paladin Crusader. Wren charged into the fight, taking ARIC with her. So Caiden and Simon reluctantly followed. Despite their reluctance they eventually prevailed. They met the paladin and found out he was in town to investigate a strange silence from the nearby town. Since we were headed that way tracking the Herald we joined forces.

The town was lost. The party encountered only a few survivors; a paladin, a cleric of Mirala’ana, and a random commoner. We were told that the town had been corrupted and it sounded like the work of the Herald. Most of the part went with the random commoner while Caiden went to see if he could help those who were corrupted…

Several hours later the Cleric and the paladin showed up …without Caiden. Then they revealed themselves to be … not human.

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Sessions 52 & 53 Western Party

After staying overnight at the stronghold of the Inquisition, Dusan and Derek met up with the rest of the group at one of the travelers’ inns in Cor Draconis. There the party discussed plans for the next few days, and the upcoming meeting with one of the leaders in town about Torah’s message.

As it turns out, between the various communications the party had with others in Cor Draconis, we had drawn the attention of the head of the Inquisition and founder of the Righted Scales movement, Taio Valarian. The group was invited to dine with him the next evening.

At dinner, Taio took the message the group brought from Torah and relayed information of his own. He referenced a few major incidents which had convinced Count Blackhammer to leave Octavian’s direct service as a knight and invite Taio Valarian into Trigonum to help form the Inquisition. The largest was the Knifegrin Wars, a war waged by Octavian against the orcs of the Knifegrin clan as revenge for the death of his eldest daughter.

Taio voiced the reason the Inquisition was needed: the fact that paladins are retaining their abilities no matter how far they stray from their oath and code. Evidence to support his claim lay everywhere in Trigonum, from the fact that the knights of the Inquisition retained their powers despite engaging in open warfare against other paladins, to events surrounding Octavian’s war crimes and the fact that he continues to keep his abilities.

As dinner was wrapping up, the door was kicked in by a group of assassins out for Taio’s blood. It turned out to be contracted killers from the svartalfar, a group of fey kicked out of the winter court turned merc. Thankfully, no one died in the attack.

The next day, the group gathered their belongings, purchased supplies, and prepared to head into the heart of the mountain. Takeo had learned the phrase to open the mouth of the dragon that formed the opening to the ancient Hisskarssi fortress surrounding Cor Draconis, and used it to allow the group to enter.

Inside, Takeo was confronted by the spirit of an ancient Hisskarssi guardian. The spirit berated Takeo for bringing in “heathens” who “were corrupting the temple by their very presence” and ordered the constructs near the entrance to kill everyone.

The constructs almost succeeded. They did, in fact, manage to kill Takeo, but Malaena helped him get better. In the end, the guardian constructs went down, Takeo helped shut off the flames filling the room just past the entrance, and the group prepared to venture further into the keep.

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Session 51 - Northern Party

The plan was to teleport back to Trigonum, but Simon’s patron Watcher intervened. So the party finds itself on a Jurassic Park type island, including dinosaurs. They meet up with a pair of minotaurs and decide there’s safety in numbers. Needing to get to the volcano on the island they begin the long trek. It isn’t long before they encounter a pack of the mighty lizards and it goes terribly (which isn’t a huge surprise). One of the minotaurs nearly dies and ARIC is badly damaged (possibly beyond repair). Despite the trouble the party finally makes it to the volcano and Simon heads off to do whatever his Watcher requires. The party waits for his return and deals with the great lizards. 24 hours later the volcano erupts…

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Session 51--Western Party

Baron Torah was grateful to our merry band of adventurers for helping him regain his rightful place. He bestowed upon them various gifts, and asked them to complete another task. He was worried about the truthfulness of the Inquisitor stationed Redwall, and wished the group to bring a message to Cor Draconis as quickly as possible. The Countess in Redwall was not likely to take Torah’s reinstitution well, and would likely send troops. Torah estimated that he had about five days before his city was under siege. As Takeo wished to go in the direction of cor Draconis anyway, our heroes assented and headed out.

The journey was relatively uneventful. The thrice-cursed gorgons left them alone. It was odd, of course, that there would occasionally be long troughs dug into the earth. This mystery was solved when a bulette attacked. The party quickly dispatched the monster, and hastened on their way.

At Cor Draconis, Dusan and Derek remained outside the city. The Inquisition was in control of the town, and they wished the non-Knights to reconnoiter before they entered. A heavy military presence was evident, but the denizens seemed to be going about their business as usual, without the tense and gloomy air of an occupied citizenry.

The wizard apparently had a connection in the Temple of Rozerus. He reunited with his brother, and eventually asked the cleric to send a message as high up the food chain as he could, regarding the group’s request from Baron Torah. They were assured that it would be done, and to expect an appointment within the next day or so.

Takeo investigated the mouth of the dragon mountain, and Dusan and Derek entered the city. The two Knights are currently being questioned by the Inquisition, while the other adventurers explore the town.

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Session 50 - Northern Party

The party met with the Malik to make their wishes. The elemental druid & Cord declared they didn’t want any part of the wishes. So Caiden, Wren and Simon split the wishes. Wren wished for the ring that hides her from the Red Friars to made into living steel and maintain the spell. Simon wished for knowledge of the location of Kal’Dan’s Herald. Caiden wished for a do over spell. Then they left…

… and were intercepted by the Malik’s pet contract demon who set a trio of hellcats on them in order to get the heartstone back. After a brutal battle (where Wren, ARIC, Cord and Caiden were all grappled by the beasts) Cord was dead and the others were badly injured. Simon, who was out of spells, made a run for is and was able to get some of the Malik’s guards to come back. They arrived in time to save those still alive. The party caught up with Simon and the adventure ended as the party teleported away.

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