Atlea and Beyond

Session Thirty Four: God of Death

The group heads to Pandemonium and Seven has a disturbing vision.

Hanael asked the group to travel to Pandemonium, the former home plane of Tharizdun, to see if they could uncover anything useful. Hanael suggested that Char travel with them as his psionic powers may prove useful. He provided them with a scroll for travelling to Pandemonium and they used it to open a temporary portal.

Pandemonium:
As you arrive there is no light here. You can hear the dreadful howling of winds blasting their way through the tunnels. The winds give you shivers as they sound like the tortured screams of victims of some horrific unseen crime. You almost feel like the caverns around you are shifting and moving, contorting and twisting like great writhing worms. The constant winds chill you to the bone.

As they travelled through the endless tunnels, they saw ghastly figures that appeared as grey-skinned humanoids, but their skin looked like it stretched too thinly across their body. The creatures lurked just at the edge of Trolol’s light at all times. After a short time, they gathered the courage to attack the group.
The fight was quick and very dangerous. When the party members looked into the creatures’ black holes where eyes should be, they felt the strangehold of death attempt to overwhelm them. When the fight ended, everyone was left standing, though severely injured.

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Luckily, it was not long before they found an ancient temple to Tharizdun. The temple was a black two-stepped ziggurat with a massive pair of iron double doors.
Entering the building, they found the dead bodies of paladins of Pelor, obviously killed during a raid on the temple. Upon blood-stained altars, they found prayers to Tharizdun scrawled in Deep Speech.

One of the prayers they read:
May our offering to the end of all things be taken with open arms by the lost, the nameless one, the chained god, the black star, the undoer, he who is entropy, the dreamer in darkness, dread Tharizdun! We carry out your will: The very threads of existence must be torn asunder, then burned, then the ashes scattered, until all is nothing and no one exists to remember existence. We work to find the key that will shatter your prison!

Venturing further into the temple, the group found rows of destroyed pews for gatherings of cultists, until finally they found stairs leading down into a large hall.
In the hall sat a massive crystal ball in the centre of the room. The walls of the room were covered with rotted bookcases, their books all but destroyed.
Lying in an obsidian container at the foot of the crystal ball, they found a scroll entitled “The Revelations of Melech.”

On the scroll it said:
Beware. The contents of this work are dangerous. It catalogues the names of some of the stars.
I can write very little concerning these matters in the interest of safety.

Acamar, the corpse who devours all. A black star.
Caiphon, the treacherous guide. A purple star.
Delban, the winter’s eye. A white star.
Gibbeth, the horrific. A green star.
Hadar, the ebon hunger.
Ihbar, the eater of light.
Khirad, the portent of doom. A blue star.
Nihal, the writhing traveller. A red star.
Ulben, the deceiver. A blue-white star.
Zhudun, the dead prophet. A black star.

After reading the scroll, Char looked at the star mapped ceiling in alarm, as the stars appeared to open like eyelids, revealing thousands of peering eyes. A second take proved this untrue, and the ceiling appeared as normal. A second slip of paper fell from the scroll container, which read:

I have more information on the key. The gems we seek form a larger gem, which is the key itself. Even combining a few of the gems together could become a weapon of unimaginable power. We must keep our activities a complete secret, lest an army of paladins be raised to destroy us.

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As they retrieved the paper, they noticed that underneath it was a card with the word “ruin” written on it and a picture of two broken swords. After a few moments, Seven’s head began to hurt. The group could see a picture appearing in the crystal ball, while Seven saw a vision.

You see a great black hall made from obsidian, where a couple of dozen black-winged servants lie motionless. You can see a cloaked figure holding a staff out toward a beautiful dark-haired woman who looks pale, but almost human. The cloaked figure’s staff seems made from bone except for the top of it, which looks like a big black crystal with hints of red swirling beneath the surface.
The woman looks defiantly at him and says “You are strong to have eliminated my guards, very strong. Some of them even rival my strength. But this is the end. You cannot kill death.”
She swings her arms over her head and toward the cloaked figure, and hundreds of ravens seem to batter him down, but in a matter of seconds they begin to be pushed back by what looks to be a magical shield. He casts the mass of ravens back and from his staff shoots a sizzling red magical bolt. The woman throws her hand up to shield it, and from around her back comes a massive black wing which easily blocks the missile. She then launches both of her arms forward together and out of her hands come forth a torrent of spirits, which wail and moan “leave our queen be! The Raven rules you, as she rules all fates! Your winter has come!” The spirits slam into the figure, knocking it back several metres as it recoils.
The Raven Queen says: “Begone, creature! I am the balance of the planes. Nothing escapes their death!”
The cloaked figure throws off its hood, revealing a skull in place of a normal head, adorned with a black and gold headdress and crystalline earrings, along with an assortment of other jewellery and beads coming off the headdress.”Except a lich,” he says.
The woman gasps “Vecna!” and looks genuinely terrified.
The cloaked figure says menacingly “You may be death, but I am undeath. Your power cannot hold me at bay. Be destroyed, Queen of Ravens!” He lunges to stab with the end of his staff, which trails smoke as it makes contact with the woman’s stomach and black smoke begins to make its way out of her mouth.
“This…isn’t…possible! You never…. had the power… to come here…to face me…..” Screams the woman through the inky black smoke.
Vecna says triumphantly “I do now.”
The staff passes through her stomach and Vecna begins incanting something that you can’t hear clearly. After a few seconds the woman goes limp, then her body erupts into a plume of black smoke and feathers. The shockwave causes the walls of the great hall to shatter and in mere moments, Vecna is standing alone on a flat obsidian floor with a view of the valleys of the Shadowfell behind him. Vecna stands the staff on the ground and laughs, first quietly, but soon he is laughing maniacally as the sound of his evil voice echoes through the valleys.

Seeing this and thinking they had gathered all the information they could from the place, the group returned to Hestavar. When they arrived, Hanael told them that he had found a being called Itrius that fell from the sky the same way that Char did. Hanael suggested they confer to see what they could learn from each other. The group told Hanael about what they had seen, including the vision. He was horrified at the prospect of Vecna having killed the Raven Queen and immediately left find out from his contacts what had happened.
When Hanael was gone, Char walked over to Itrius and for a moment. Then Char put its hand on Itrius’ head and used psionic energy to sever the bond between the creature’s crystalline form of its mind. Itrius’ energy disappeared up into the skies of Hestavar, then out beyond into the Astral Sea.

A short time later, Hanael returned, panicked. He told the group that the Raven Queen’s servants had lost contact with her. Hanael’s normally stoic angel demeanour had transformed into an almost manic state. He accused the group of being responsible for all of this, but soon regained his control and apologised to them. He urged them to travel back to Atlea, the material plane as soon as possible. He told them that if Vecna had become the God of Death, it could mean dire things for their world.

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