Atlea and Beyond

Session Forty Three: The Fathomal

Sorenis spoke to each of the group in turn, asking them why they were here. The rift around them as they fell began to fall away and they seemed to be falling through a massive churning vortex of energy and light. In the distance they heard the roar of a huge creature and soon they saw the thing flying towards them.

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The horrifying thing slammed into the side of the tower and began to attack them. It spewed forth small creatures that look akin to itself. The fathomal screamed at them with a powerful roar that chilled them to their bones and the smaller creatures attacked individual targets, leaping into their head and attacking their psyche.

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The battle was fierce, almost resulting in the death of everyone in the tower, but finally they won the day and forced the Fathomal to retreat.

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Session Forty Two: The Blood Rift

The party returned to the Emerald City to attend to their business affairs. Glasya, the daughter of Asmodeus approached them with a deal. She asked them to undermine Asmodeus’ allies in the Abyss by lying to Graz’zt about plans to restart the Blood War. She would use this distraction to start a coup against Asmodeus. In exchange, she promised the group a share of her power when she became the ruler of Baator.

When she left, they met an elf in the city named Sorenis. She told them that she was sent by Asmodeus to be their guide in the Abyss. She used a ritual to open a portal to Pazunia. They stepped through, finding themselves at the edge of the Blood Rift. A massive waterfall of blood spilled over the edge into the deep chasm. Sorenis told them that they would have to climb some distance to the city of Morglon-Daar. They began their perilous descent using climbing gear. It seemed like it took forever, but they finally got close to the city. A group of flying crystallised demons attacked them however, almost ending their journey.

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They eventually overcame the demons, forcing them to assist in taking them down to the city. In the city of Morglon-Daar, the group was led to a building in the Riftwatch owned by people called “the Seekers of the Nadir.” They told them that their goal was to reach the bottom of the Abyss. To that end, they had been uncovering an ancient machine. This machine, a tower, was difficult to repair, but with the party’s help they were successful. They worked together, rolling the tower slowly over to the Rift.

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They were intercepted by Bavamach, the archgeneral of the Morglon-Daar, who laid claim to the tower on the basis of it being a necessary siege weapon should the Blood War reignite. It took some effort, but eventually the party managed to convince Bavamach to let them leave. They pushed the tower over the Rift, everyone jumping aboard to begin their long descent. The party and the Seekers of the Nadir fell downward, the machine providing a barrier around the tower to protect it. As they travelled, they could see cracks along the Rift with light coming through from various layers of the Abyss. They fell for a day, then five days, then ten, then a hundred. Supplies began to run low, so they began to ration.

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Session Forty One: Shard of the Living Gate

For their heroics defending the Emerald city, King Wilbur III made the party members Knights of the Emerald Court, granting them titles to land and squires in their service.
Their prestige was clearly growing.
Overhead, a great howling sound came roaring through the sky toward the city. It crashed in a great fireball to the ground, revealing itself to be a crystalline entity that Char recognised as another Shardmind, a shard of The Living Gate. The creature attacked Char, attempting to return him to the Gate. Oizo, Char and the Bard worked together, easily defeating the Shardmind.

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They were called by Hanael to return to Hestavar and discuss what had happened.
In Hestavar, they caught up with the other half of the group and explained to Hanael the events that had unfolded. Hanael told them that it seemed Vecna was defeated for now, but far from dead. He also informed them that apparently Vecna was unable to claim all of the Raven Queen’s portfolio. She was the goddess of Winter, Fate and Death, but Vecna could only claim two of those for himself. Someone else had Fate in their hands.
Asmodeus appeared then before the party, silencing Hanael. He told them that he had a deal to make them.

“Do you know how to kill a god?”
“There’s more than one way. Vecna discovered one, though I think he’ll find that won’t work more than once. The gems of Tharizdun weren’t made for that purpose. Almost the opposite actually, they seek to bring a god back. No, the most effective way to kill a god is much more difficult to obtain. You may be interested to know that I’m the only one who’s managed to pull this one off. Sure, the Raven Queen may have killed Nerull to become the goddess of death originally, blah blah blah. She had to get him to become vulnerable first. But this is a power in a league of its own. How much do you know about the Abyss?”
“I see you’ve been there, but do you know what it REALLY is? It’s a spiral, a tornadic chaos that spirals down into oblivion from the Elemental Chaos. It’s growing, destroying ever more of the Elemental Chaos as it does. Given enough time, it might destroy everything. But that’s eons away, of course. It’s pathetically slow. It may be more fitting to think of it as a drain. At the bottom of every drain is a source, a hole. Guess how many gods have seen the bottom of that drain?”
“One. Just me. None of the others are brave enough to try. Most of them just ignore the Abyss unless it comes and attacks them. Idiots.”
“Many, many years ago, I managed to survive the trip down there. I wasn’t even as powerful as I am now. Not even a god. Maybe that helped, I could pass by more easily without the demon lords’ attention. What lies down there is the reason why the Abyss exists. It is responsible for tanar’ri, the demon lords and all six hundred and sixty six layers of the Abyss. Why don’t the demons use it?” He laughs.
“They can’t get near it. It simultaneously fascinates and terrifies them. The very deepest realms of the Abyss are so inhospitable that the demon lords don’t even venture down there. And of course, I suspect that it’s the driving force behind the demonic instinct to destroy. How did I survive it? Let’s just say that I had a strong enough motivation. Now my question to you is: Tharizdun, Vecna. There are two gods who specifically seek to destroy you. One of them may be trapped, for now, but there are those working to undo that. And the other? Vecna may be in hiding right now. But he won’t be for long. You’re not just in danger, you’re in danger from two of the most powerful and evil creatures to ever exist. If I were you, I would want some…insurance. I’ve long been an enemy of the Abyss. The Blood War has ensured that I can’t enter the Abyss without drawing attention to myself. But you can, to some degree. You get this power, all I ask is a portion of it in return. You could call it a finder’s fee. And why wouldn’t you just take it for yourself? Well that’s where I come in.”
He pulls a piece of bloodstained parchment and hands it to them, along with a black quill. “There are two options for you right now. You sign this, putting your souls down as collateral, and you retrieve the power, keeping some of it for yourselves and giving a portion of it to me. The other option is that you refuse to sign it, and you die, right here, right now and everyone in Hestavar will be destroyed along with you. I think it’s pretty clear which is the better arrangement for you.”

The party signed the contract.

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Session Forty: Fall of the Dead

In the Emerald City, Silver, Oizo, Char and Alicia were asked to help in the defence of one of the undead-flooded inner districts. In the street, catapults were set up to fight the oncoming undead trolls, but hardly slowed them down. The group fought the trolls with relative ease, setting them alight to stop their regeneration.

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Meanwhile, Seven, Rolan and the Bard rested in Hestavar after defending it from Olrithax the dragon. Once they had rested, Hanael warned Seven that she would likely be the key to reversing the control that Vecna had over all the dead in existence. He suggested that seeing as the Grey Waste is the most evil point in existence and was used by Vecna to raise the dead, it might be possible to reverse the process using the holiest point in existence: the Seraphic Well in the Couatl Cloudcourt. They travelled to the Cloudcourt where Seven met the ruler of the Couatl, Nahua. Nahua accepted that it would be necessary to use the Well, guiding Seven in its use. Seven reached out with her mind using the holy energies of the Well and found Vecna. She confronted him with her mental projection, fighting him with the strength of her will. Vecna was defeated, but not injured. He did lose control over the undead however, and all across the planes, corpses of creatures fell to the ground. Vecna cursed Seven, telling her that he would destroy her and everything she holds dear.

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In the Emerald City, the trolls also fell to the ground, though few were left. The city guard began the long task of cleaning the streets of dead bodies.

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Session Thirty Nine: Garavond

The group in Garavond fought against the advancing metal golem, but did not expect what would happen next. Haagenti, the mad artificer, flooded the chamber they were in with fire and lightning, challenging the group to stay alive while giving his creation the upper hand. It was unsuccessful though, as Oizo and Char proved quite resilient, while Silver completely locked down the golem, stopping it from attacking with her infernal powers.

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They defeated the golem, but Haagenti would not give up. He told them that time passes quicker here, so they would simply starve or get sleepy before his creations would all be defeated. He sent more of the metal golems down the hallway at them, but Rosaline told Alicia that it was almost time for them to teleport. Right as the creations would have slammed into the group, they disappeared from Garavond.

They appeared in Atlea, on the walls of the Emerald City. But they soon saw that the city was being attacked by hordes of undead. They quickly rushed to the aid of the guards below the walls, defeating swathes of zombies with ease.

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Session Thirty Eight: Out Of The Fire and Into The Frying Pan?
One group escapes from the Grey Waste and the other from the Abyss. But are they truly out of danger now?

The group in the Abyss came across a lizardfolk tribe, who initially seemed hostile, but wanted to ask them for help. They led them back to their small settlement to show the group that a glowing suit of chain mail sat in the centre of it. They begged the group to take the armour away, mentioning that it was left here by a paladin that attacked them, but perished. When they tried to leave, it burnt their flesh and demanded it be taken to its master. Oizo picked up the chainmail and negotiated with it, telling it that its master was dead, but that it might find him worthy if it would allow him to wear it.

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Meanwhile, in the Grey Waste, Seven, Rolan, the mysterious bard and the githyanki heard a terrifying roar. They estimated that it must have come from a thousand demons at once. Seven peeked outside to discover that demons AND devils had been raised from the dead and were fighting ferociously nearby.
The group heard a voice speak to them in their heads. It was Hanael, shocked to discover that the dead had risen both there and in Hestavar. He told them that they must hurry back to Hestavar as it is in terrible danger. He had sent some of his agents to help collect them.
Outside they saw a tall angel figure cutting down devils and demons. It yelled across to them to make their way to him and escape, indicating the portal behind him. Angels formed a barrier around the portal to keep any fiends from escaping.

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It was difficult, but eventually they all managed to escape intact. But what awaited them in Hestavar was a terrifying sight. The refugees from the Feywild had been attacked by the dead and many of them had joined them, being subsequently cut down by angels. From the sky, a massive skeletal dragon flew down and with its last force of willpower, begged Seven and the others to free it from Vecna’s control before finally going berserk.

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They defeated the dragon which, now freed, imbued its essence into a horn that Seven had taken from its head. It spoke to her through the horn, declaring that it would help her fight Vecna as a weapon.

The other group set up camp in the Screaming Jungle until Alicia’s sister Rosaline could teleport them elsewhere. They managed to rest, but when they teleported, ended up somewhere else they did not recognise. They were unable to breathe, but luckily Alicia had a device that gave them an atmospheric bubble quickly. It was pitch black and when they lit the area around them, they realised they hung in a void. Nearby, a massive silvery metal sphere floated, which they decided to head towards.
They were greeted by a voice from every direction at once, that revealed itself to be named Haagenti, an inventor. It drew them into the sphere and declared that they would fight its creations to test them. It told them that they were in Garavond, the 548th layer of the Abyss. Down a metal corridor, a lumbering metal golem marched towards them.

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Session Thirty Seven: The Dead Rise
Half the group wander the Grey Wastes, the other half fight in a deadly abyssal jungle.

Rolan, Seven and the Githyanki White Ravens, led by D’keth arrived in Pluton, the Grey Waste. Before them stretched endless grey, a landscape devoid of features except dying trees, a few scattered bones and rusted weapons. Colour was drained from everything, including themselves. The group had been followed, they soon discovered. A half-fox, half-human bard joined them, but gave little information about herself other than that she wanted to help. As they wandered the Wastes, they found themselves struggling more and more with each step. Eventually, they were unable to bring themselves to move, losing their will to continue. The mysterious stranger helped them, encouraging them to move forward. Wispy apparitions appeared in front of them, each attempting to convince one of them to stay here and give up on their quest. One by one, the stranger managed to convince them that the apparition was wrong, and they found their will strong enough to move them again. As the apparitions dispersed, a town began to fade into view before them. The residents were grey and so were the bone-and-mud buildings. They tried asking for directions, but the citizens of the town were apathetic to their concerns, and really, anything at all. The only information they could glean was that this settlement was named Desolation. After a few minutes, a grey female giant made its way over to them, asking why they were here. When they replied, she told them that they still had souls and demanded that they relinquish them to her. She attacked them to take their souls by force, attempting to cleave them in twain with her axe. The fight was interrupted however, when a human-sized insectoid creature intervened. It told the giant, named Willow, to lower her axe. It introduced itself, telling them it was called Illaxis and was a Yugoloth, as well as the ruler of this settlement. When they told it why they were in Pluton, the creature offered for a small fee to take them to the temple used by Vecna’s worshippers.

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Illaxis led the group through the Grey Waste for a long time, telling them that this plane was the site of The Blood War, an eternal battle between Tanar’ri and Baatezu (other names for Demons and Devils.) It told them that the Yugoloths tried to stay out of it and hid mostly from the conflict. It told them the war went on for eons until finally it came to a stalemate when Asmodeus became a god. The bones of that war lay here in the Grey Waste eternally, a relic of history. Eventually, they came to a grey building with big stone doors built halfway into the ground. Illaxis led them inside. They realised it was dark and had to light sunrods to see. In the room was a chair, with a book sitting open on a table in front of it. The table was stained with blood and there were bones lying about the room. The book read:

a “Seven.”
* Then more writing appeared once Seven began to read it. *
“I should thank you. After all, I owe the success of this plan to you and your continued survival. I’ve tried with others many, many times. Most were not powerful enough to contain such a power within their own head. And barely any could make it through this plane with their willpower intact. Being here destroys the very hope in you, your willingness to do anything. But finally, the power is here, where it belongs. A nexus of all the planes. I apologise in advance, because this will be a painful process.”

Suddenly Seven felt agonising pain in her head. Visions of thousands of places flashed before her eyes. In every single scene, there was one common element: the dead were rising from the ground. The pain built as even more places flashed in front of her. She felt like every single plane in existence was flashing before her eyes, often too quickly to comprehend them all. Then finally, the pain stopped. She felt like an energy was sent out from her head in all directions. Then there was a terrifying noise, as if a million demons were roaring all at once outside.

While all this happened, the other group were recovering from being dropped in a thick jungle. Oizo, Char, Silver and Ralan’daak decided to start moving, to find a landmark or settlement. The jungle was overgrown, denying the leaf-littered floor much sunlight. The group came to patches of mud, which Oizo discovered were not stable footing. A group of demonic frog-humanoids across the jungle took notice of the group, immediately making their way over. Large carnivorous plants also took the opportunity to attack the travelers. Eventually the denizens of the jungle were defeated and the group finally crossed the mud.

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They saw something unusual in that moment. Before their eyes appeared a familiar woman they had met before. Alicia Dalamar, reluctant inter-planar traveler stood before them, obviously shocked to see them as well.

a Alicia Dalamar “Wait, you’re real? This has never happened. EVER. I’ve been around for thousands of years, I was born in the year 2286 in the fourth age. I’ve been traveling the planes, stuck in this endless journey to find a way to restore Rosaline…I’ve met hundreds of thousands, maybe even millions of people. I’ve met the same person maybe twice, maybe even three times. And now I’ve met you twice in the same week!
WHAT ARE YOU?! WHO ARE YOU?!
* She slowly calmed down.*
Okay. This place looks like…the Abyss.
* She stopped for a moment and looked around herself*
If I had to guess, I’d say this is Abysm, the Screaming Jungle. The 90th layer of the Abyss. This place is incredibly dangerous. We need to be careful.”
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Session Thirty Six: The Rage of Shothragot
The group prevent a war from breaking out, but are eventually divided across the planes.

The party noticed a shadowy figure watching them as they went about the city. They stayed the night in Ghalem’Ka and woke up to find Trolol gone. He left them a note:

Dearest friends (and silver),
I have meditated on this for months. You must understand the decision I have made is for the good of not only the party but for people as a whole.
I have to leave. I am a danger to everyone. The fires of destruction that rage through my body are too much for the party to handle.
I know that losing a great leader such as myself will be of unparalleled detriment to the quest at hand. Don’t worry though I believe in you and think you’ll do great.
Please try to understand this is not goodbye. Just goodbye for now.
Your friend and former party member, Protector of the Fey, Arcana Expert and all around nice Eladrin,
Trolol Olol.
P.s. I’ve gone to live with the merpeople. I have named myself their ruler. Ciao..

Emperor Ralan’daak called the group to speak with him. He told them that political tensions between The Empire of Khosh and The Amrelnian Kingdom had heightened. He was to speak today to the King to alleviate his concerns. The group agreed to go with him and help negotiate. They got a message from Hanael telling them about a lead on Vecna. The party sent Rolan and Seven along with the Githyanki they had recruited a while ago to investigate it on the ruined plane of Pluton.
The King met with the Emperor and they exchanged words. The King was convinced that Khosh had been sending spies into his city and he had confessions from three of them. Becoming frustrated with their arguments, Char psionically teleported itself between the two rulers, ordering them to cease. This brought the situation to a new height of tension, but it was slowly defused as the group arranged to go and interrogate the spies themselves in the Emerald City, under heavy Amrelnian guard. Thanks to some trickery by Silver, they managed to get the information they needed. The spies had been sent by the Cult of the Elemental Eye underneath Ghalem’Ka in the drow city of Erelhei-Cinlu to disrupt the two nations and begin a war. The King and Emperor managed to make amends, agreeing to Oizo’s suggestion that it might be time they made an alliance.

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The group returned to Ghalem’Ka and were confronted by an enraged and rampaging Shothragot.
The avatar attempted to destroy them as revenge for them giving the gems over to Vecna and thus setting back his own plans. After a long battle, the group managed to weaken Shothragot, forcing him in desperation to open a portal and fling them through it to an unknown plane.
They found themselves lost with an ill Emperor Ralan’daak in a deadly jungle, stranded on an unknown plane of existence. Their ears filled with the terrible keening of a million wild animals as they began to search their surroundings.

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Session Thirty Five: Patricide
Seven assists Mordenkainen and confronts her father, Dominicus.

The group headed through the portal to Atlea, deciding to check up on Ghalem’Ka. They saw that nothing was amiss at first, then went to the palace. Emperor Ralan’daak was still bedridden, recovering very slowly from his incredible injuries. Ralan’daak seemed concerned that he might not have long to live.

A short time later, Mordenkainen spoke to Seven again inside her head. He told her that since her mind was a nexus and connected to everywhere at once, she might be able to use it to teleport (with some magical assistance). Trolol obliged and Mordenkainen described a place vividly to her so she could teleport there. It was successful and they appeared suddenly on a tower balcony overlooking a mountain. Mordenkainen asked them to go inside, where they would find a small scroll container amongst the rubble with his final unfinished work on it.
He asked Seven to dictate to Trolol so that they could complete his final work. He told them that this was his legacy and would preserve his lifetime of magical research. They completed the scroll and it disappeared in a flash of magical light. They returned to Ghalem’Ka.

After speaking with Seven extensively about her situation, Mordenkainen found out Vecna was involved and that he had been seen killing the Raven Queen in a vision. He suggested that perhaps Vecna planned to use Seven’s mind to cast a spell over the whole world at once, as it was connected to everything.
The group went to a temple of the Raven Queen to get another confirmation that Seven’s vision was correct and Priestess Aryllan told them they seemed to have lost contact with the Raven Queen. Back in the street, Seven’s father Dominicus arrived, claiming that he was there to take Seven back with him to Vecna. A fight erupted and Dominicus revealed that Seven was only one of many children he’d created in an effort to make them into weapons for Vecna.
After a difficult fight, Seven and the rest of the group managed to kill Dominicus. She took out his heart and they burned the body afterwards. She then took the heart to get protected by clerics so that Dominicus could not be raised from the dead.

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Meanwhile, in Malbolge, the sixth hell of Baator:
Silver expected for the call she received to be from Asmodeus as usual, but she found herself talking to a young woman instead. The young woman that stood before her had bat wings on her back and bright red hair. She was adorned with lots of expensive looking jewellery.

She snapped her fingers and the environment around Silver changed. She arrived in a beautiful garden bordered on all sides by pillars with struggling humans chained to them by their hands. The humans cried out in pain as their flesh on their arms and legs seems to be seared by a red runic mark. The garden featured an astonishing array of different flowers, trees and vibrant green grasses home to small wildlife vaguely reminiscent of squirrels. The garden would’ve been almost peaceful if it weren’t for the screaming of the people around it.

a Glasya “Silver. I am Glasya, Princess of Baator, the Nine Hells. Daughter to Asmodeus and heiress to all you see around you. Queen of the sixth, Malbolge. I have a proposition for you.”
She walked along a path lined with brimstone through the garden and beckoned for Silver to walk with her. She leaned down to one of the squirrel-like creatures and called it up to her arm. She stroked it down its back as she spoke.
a Glasya “I’m aware of your pact with father, he is very proud of those souls whom he has bound to his service. You no doubt know that we deal in souls. They are a source of power unparalleled in all the planes, but to accomplish anything…noteworthy, many, many of them are needed. My sources tell me that father has given you a ring, a powerful thing, that uses souls. I suspect he wanted to introduce to you what it feels like to manipulate them. But he holds back your potential. He fears you, as he fears all others with power. Even that ring has greater potential which he has yet to unlock for you. But I can. Father, for all his power, is getting old. Though he would never admit to it, his time as ruler of the Nine is coming to an end.”

She casted her hand over the little creature on her arm and it squealed a shrill sound as it burst into flame. Within mere seconds there was nothing left but charred remains, which fell to the ground and crumbled to dust.

a Glasya “If I unlock for you the ultimate potential of that ring, in exchange I would ask you for a favour. The power of that ring to manipulate souls is a function of its ability to store them. But it can only hold so many souls. I can make a small adjustment to it that would enable the surplus of souls to be directed here. Father could never know about such a thing, he would consider it a treason against him. But I know that you do not wish to be held back by his lack of ambition any further. What do you say? I can unlock the full potential of the ring for you and as a small repayment, the excess souls you cannot hold within it are directed to me.”

Silver accepted the offer and Glasya touched the ring, changing it.

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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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