The Prava Phylactery was finally extracted by Mara’s undead minion which, as expected, immediately brought the temple guardians to life, all of them. The blood golem that emerged from the Pool of Lamentations was a mighty foe that left a trail of contagion and madness in its wake. However, in the end, our heroes were victorious and emerged from the miles of Goblin tunnels with the Phylactery and themselves intact.
A few miles away, a great rumbling shook the ground as the Children of Arach raised the other end of the Sunken Temple. It was wondrous to see Ao’s stone visage wrested from the desert depths, and Kremzeek knew immediately this formidable task could only be accomplished with Blood Magic.
Unfortunately for the cultist, they had no idea they just spent their precious ichor fruitlessly. Feeling satisfied that the balance had shifted now in their favor, the party left the scene and traveled at a more leisurely pace through the scrabble and sands back to DarJeel.
Our adventurers entered through Sinners Gate where they where met by a messenger and honor guard of the Empress bearing an invitation.
Esteemed Councilors and Attaches of The Blind Isle and the
formerly Free City of Arabar:
The Empress of the Marakeen Territories, 5th of Her Line,
Twin Blessed, and Defender of the Sands, The Steppes,
The Cities and the Seas, Fatimah bint-Prava requests the
honor of your presence at Her Majesty's Winter Palace, the
Kudu of DarJeel.
Our group felt little choice but to accept the escort. Once inside the walls that surrounded the Kudu, they witnessed the Empress descend on Gryphon-back and address her troops to prepare for war. Disregarding normal courtly decorum, the Empress then approached the group and gave them an informal welcome and invitation to rest and relax. Selena couldn’t help notice the Empress’ tattoos had been applied in the style of her own, that of a Blood Mage, which she wore unabashedly.
Dinner began with introductions of her the councilors General Asadeen, High Priestess Safana, and Kaseem the Master of Coin. However, before the meal began the Empress laid bare her expectation that the Prava Phylactery would be returned. The dinner then turned into a heated negotiation that the party found neither restful nor relaxing. After much discussion, our heroes headed back to their rooms to contemplate their next move.
The party reached the Trader’s Oasis, down one camel and one cart, but mostly intact. There, they met Marius Sans and offloaded Kasiir al-Aslan’s Cargo. The oasis boasted many unique sites including a dragon bone entryway, mobile brothel, and even arms from Unis Mythris, courtesy of the Children of Arach. Our adventurers also gained several pertinent scraps of information from their time at this desert waypoint.
Most importantly, they found out that the Cultist had set up huge a dig site, where they believed the Sunken Temple to be. Eager to beat the Dragon Cult to the phylactery, the party resupplied and set off on the last leg of the journey.
Kremzeek, their goblin guide, was true to his word and was able to locate secret tunnels that would lead into the temple. Our heroes squeezed and shimmied their way through the desert caves carefully until a sprung trap turned their pathway into a tunnel of death. Chased by an ever-growing fireball, the party used all their skills and physical prowess to make it to the end of the goblin gauntlet alive and together.
However, this did not mean an end to the challenges they would face.
A fifty-foot tall visage of Ao on a cliff face, sunk deep in the earth, marked the entryway to Sunken Temple. Though the antechambers had long been looted and cleared out by the goblins, more significant treasure lay ahead. The party had to solve the Trials of Ao’s Children. Ao’s eldest son, Asdin the Enforcer, had a circular chamber of dark beauty. The murals on the wall held fates of punishment and reward, while an altar held a pair of shackles. Penitence was required. Tarrin bravely tested his fate in the shackles and won the party entry into D’Dwyn’s room. Here they solved the Hidden Sister’s equity puzzle in short order and revealed the doorway to third and final offspring of Ao, the conjoined twin gods, Daeo-Das.
Despite the chamber being wrapped in an unearthly darkness, Tarren again showed his fearlessness by striding into the room, where his head discovered a brazier on the other side! Once the brazier was lit, the room began to rotate revealing a spectacular orrery above and quickly disappearing floor below. The party had now gained entry to a hidden chamber. Here, they discovered the Sunken temple was not a temple at all but a tomb.
Descending five stories to the bottom, the group came upon The Pool of Lamentation guarded by strange guard dog statuary. Mara used her powers to glean that the phylactery was hidden deep within the pool, while Azrael used his hands to discover the pool is filled with blood. After much trial and error, the party realized that the pool lived up to its name. Though revealing illuminating visions, once immersed in it, such sorrows are revealed to the intruder that it causes them to succumb entirely to their own despair.
Our adventurers must now figure out how to retrieve the phylactery without losing their minds in the process.
At the House of the Fig Leaf, the party decides to see if they can resolve Verileigh’s “family issues” before their journey to the Sunken Temple. They pump the proprietor of the Fig Leaf for information on Verileigh’s older sister Sima. They discover Sima has been tending her husband who is gravely ill. The party decides the sickness with which he and many in the city are stricken is suspiciously similar to what they saw in the warehouse district of Ferthe. After a moving reunion between the two sisters, the party sets to work on investigating the source of the strange malady and curing it.
It seems that ancient goods coming out of Unis Mythris are steeped in the residue of Blood Magic gone awry. The party gathers up the artifacts to destroy and sends a message to warn Spencer’s father about his sullied merchandise.
Meanwhile, Sima’s husband Chem has been revived thanks to a potent combination of Divine, Witch and Blood Magic. To help her sister understand her Art, Verileigh performs her rituals and calls on the spirit of their dead mother. Finally, Sima understands that her sister is not cursed but trulygifted. She is grateful and apologetic and understands that she must clear the family shop of the corrupted artifacts.
The Cultists, with their three day lead to the Sunken Temple, begin to weigh on the party’s minds. So, they disembark from the Gate of Sin in the northern section of DarJeel. As they gather and final supplies water for the desert trek, they meet up with Andolin’s father.
Kasiir al-Alsan has a proposition for the group If they can get his caravan to the Trader’s Oasis, then they can keep a part of the caravan for the rest of their journey. The party agrees and sets off into the harsh desert world of Marakeen. All goes well until their journey is halted by a creature that erupts from the very sands beneath their feet.
The massive creature smashes through the caravan and throws the party into a fight for their lives. The bulette is a huge creature that can swim through the sand and leap up to 30 feet to ram or bite its prey. The creature is not alone and has two hungry offspring in tow.
An enraged and engorged male bulette also attacks, adding to the chaos. The party has to call on all their unique physical and magical resources to survive.
After securing a general location of the last of the five Blood Magic Phylacteries, the party heads to Marakeen. They have learned much about these vessels, and those who seek them, from their short visits to Tyr, Unis Mythris, and Ferthe. They now know that whoever controls the powerful Blood Magic holds the power to level mountains, destroy cities, and even modify the very structure of the living world. The party hopes to stop the College of the Magi and their powerful allies, from obtaining the last Phylactery somewhere in the deserts of DarJeel.
Our adventurers have lost and gained much recently. Malmiir, the Bastard of King Ironbreaker, felt he must return to Tyr to assist his Kingdom and left the party. Spencer, lost her freedom from the “family business,” as she bargained for aid from her father, the nefarious Spirious Durnhull. Azrael lost his anonymity and almost his life, as he channeled his creator Ao’s celestial might. Yet, they have gained new tools, information, and friends to balance this. The newest of among these being Kremzeek “The Old and Wise,” a mage from the all-but-extinct goblin race. Kremzeek was “gifted’ to the party by Spirious and is now is their guide to the final phylactery and perhaps even the enemy’s intentions.
The party crested the southern tail of The Pillars and flew across the Grassy Plains of Marakeen on winged horses, another gift from Spirious. They met the Al-Tah Keer, nomadic barbarians who hunt the steppe with terrifying Salki, winged cobras, instead of falcons or hawks. Although brief, the encounter left them with new tribal tattoos and possible promises of future assistance and, perhaps, other pleasures.
Once in the city of DarJeel, the party went shopping. As the ancient saying goes, “All good things seem to end up in a Markets of Markeen.” Here they purchased from shopkeeper Bahejah bint Abbas a map to the sunken temple of Ao’s twin keepers of life and death Daeo-Das. Unfortunately, they discovered the Children of Arach had a two day lead to the temple. The party
was able to barter for a piece of information the Cultist didn’t have, the secret entrance goblin thieves had created long ago. Our heroes also purchased camels, rations and other sundries as the spirit of Marakeen Mercantilism took hold.
Now, they must regroup and plan their journey across the desert terrain that surrounds DarJeel and the assault on the Sunken Temple.
After leaving a thoughtful note to folks at the Brightwater Estate, the party headed out into the outskirts of Ferthe to pay a visit to Spencer’s father.
They journeyed through the pouring rain and arrived at the ironwood gates of the Durnhulls, where they found they had been expected. The manor was once a brownstone abbey. Its sanctuary had been converted to a “war room,” and it was here where they found Spirious and fifty or so assorted staff, including his consigliere, Alanis Pendleton.
Introductions were made, and the party was surprised to find out that they were not at all unknown to the organization. Miss Pendleton flaunted various facts from their backgrounds, including facts they may not have even know about themselves.
Despite the intensity of the reunion between Spencer and Spirious, the business of the war room continued around them. The party got a glimpse at the inner workings of the organization. This included, much to Andolin’s discomfort, the interrogation of a bound Marakeenian Stormrider.
Later at dinner, a proposition was presented to Spencer, a proposition that made the consilgiere quite anxious. Information and a guide would be provided to the last phylactry, in exchange for Spencer’s word she would return to take over the family business. The Registrars and the Cultists were getting close to finding the phylactry as well, so Spencer took the deal.
Her assent set off a series of events that led to a rooftop skirmish between Andolin and the kenku; the disruption of Alanis’ escape by a series of lethal lightening strikes called forth by the druid Cara; the gifting of a rare captive goblin to Cord, Selena and Spencer; and the parties departure to Marakeen via winged steeds.
After dispatching the dead and looting the Cultist’s encampment, the party discovered some strange amulets, some coin, and a leather folio with journal transcipts of a long dead elf’s work in Unis Mythris. The transcripts had been prepared by Jaydeen Dodal, Registrar at the Mage College, that the party had killed in Tyr. They also discovered several barrels of water that radiated magic. Each of the barrels were branded with the symbol of the Black Marques, Spirious Durnhull’s nefarious organization.
The party then explored the lower level of the library at the Eleven Academy of the Arts. There, they found 4 doors. One door the Cultists had clearly been excavating, 2 others that had heavy wood door panels and beautifully carved stone frames. Wisely, Spencer passed by the ornate doors and picked the lock on what appeared to be a maintenance closet. Here the party identified a set of wooden shelves, which at first glance looked like it held random supplies, but upon inspection yielded unusual construction. After some clever deductions, the party figured out the Blo
od Magic mechanism that opened to a secret room of dwarven make. Here, they found Blood Letting tables, a well appointed hostage room, and the 5 cabinets designed to hold contents of each True Blooded Family Line. The party rescued the full Nadar Phylactry and the empty Dreyrugh Phylactry. The other 3 were gone.
Meanwhile, through the careful rituals of the Marakeenian Witch, Veriliegh, the party also learned of the unfortunate deaths of the half-drow children at the hands of a Registrar and how the Children of Arach, had not seen their Dark Angel, but they knew he would come as foretold, as the Herald of Arach.
Lastly, in the early hours of the morning, the party spied on a flock of confused Kenku, that had come to pick up the barrels to deliver to Tyr. The flock left with the strange water, and now the party must wake to a new day and new decisions.
25 I don’t know how they did it, but they have the Druid of the Nadur in custody. She is pregnant. That is problematic, physically and ethically. The Board will meet tomorrow. Preparations are under way. One down, four to go! The Great Gathering has begun, and I am proud to be numbered among the chosen.
53 Dundrim Leadbelly arrived to assist in the creation of the vault. Lady Aravae and the dwarf are now locked away in the Academy’s library pouring over designs. Construction will be underway soon.
75 The crafters report the skin works as a lining. It is amazing. When the Blood touches it, it all comes alive. Absolutely fascinating. The phylacteries are a living thing, completely created by elven hands They are beautiful and terrible to behold. It is amazing to be witnessing history in the making.
121 The Odoleran and Prava children have been acquired.
152 There is still no “comfortable” way to do the letting. Magic heals, but doesn’t ease the particular pain of the these True Blooded. It is hard to determine how much we can take at one time. We need significant amounts, but it costs them more than a normal human. It is like it drains away something core to their life force.
180 They all seem very thirsty. Many complaints today.
191 Adine died today. Despite all our precautions, despite the relative spendor we kept her in, it seems even a True Blooded’s body can not withstand the constant drain. I had long proffered the idea that if we bled them over a longer time we would get a steady source, as the body would replenish itself. But Durothil wouldn’t hear of it. I think the tedious process of creating the Phylacteries, coupled with how long it took to find and capture even 2 of the True, took its toll on his patience. But now the Marakenian is dead and we have only three quarters of the Phylactery filled. In his defense, I think Durothil believes that if they die in the process then we have the blood and there is no chance of their escaping to get out and fuel more of these human atrocities.
The war grows beyond long. Captain Theodas has even come around to our way of thinking after The Melting. How can one stand at the bottom of the slagging of an entire mountain face, and not be moved to action? His team has already been successful in Garramond, and now will deliver the last True we seek. He will not fail or falter, I know it. Anyone witnessing the human recklessness that has unfolded in the past two years would forgo all kinds of moral qualms to do what needs be done.
It was difficult to watch Adine waste away though. She was such a sweet child. Human children are so full of spirit and vigor. The only things that kept me going in my gruesome task, was to weigh it against all those dead elven children after the Siege of Fang. To imagine the very rain and fog turn poison around them, to imagine them clutching at their throats and trying to wipe the burning vapor from their lips, was the iron I needed to strengthen my resolve. I remember the rattling gasps filling my ears as hundreds of the “lucky” took sanctuary with us. They could no longer tell their stories, but their hollow stares spoke volumes. I thought of those stares every time I ran my blade across Adine’s body. I heard their weak raspy breath in my ear as I watched her rich brown skin turn ashen. The Prava family would have given her a proper burial, one with all the pomp their ancient gold can buy. I know this, but tell that to all the families mouldering in the mass graves in Fang. Where are their processionals? Where are their headstones? As I now turn my dangerous ministrations to the little Aedeleing boy the Captain has brought me, I think on teachings of Corellon, the Ascended. He always wrote of detachment from our own needs to achieve the Great Good. I must harden myself, ignore the remorse and revulsion I feel, and collect the Blood. This war must end, and only when the Blood Magic is in elven hands will there be peace.
200 The Druid still lives. I think her powers have been healing her, but with the loss of the unborn child, she no longer fights the letting. She is a husk now. It makes my job easier, but also infinitely more difficult.
221 Theodas can not find any of Skaldian’s True spawn. The pure line ends with a female warrior, Theia Deyrugh, who apparently died at the Battle for the Pillars. Her body was never found, but there were no survivors. It is a personal relief to me. I am not strong enough to carry on this work and wish an end to it all.
323 There is a splintering. Dorothil is starting to experiment with Blood mixing. Mixing the merest drops together seems to be creating powerful and bizarre effects. Even minor cantrips have become unrecognizable. We know that even a drop of Blood can lengthen duration, range, and damage of our spells. However, mixing is yielding unpredictably powerful results. Mistress Irawynn was enraged that such an experiment would even be attempted without the full consent of the Board. Dorothil has his supporters, but the Mistress also has hers. They are deeply divided. I care not. It seems the war is grinding to a halt, massive deaths on all sides.
334 Irawynn and her supporters managed to spirit away three of the Phylactries. Dorothil is wroth. He believes the Mistress is returning The Blood to what is left of the Families. After public knowledge of the details of our Great Gathering has come to light, there is little support. The Mistress was always a fool when it came to approval or admonishments of the Noble Families. I grow weary.
335 Dorothil came in the early hours and took a large quantity of the Nadur Blood from the Phylactry. I didn’t bother to speak to him. Nothing will deter him now.
The night air was cool and a sharp bitter breeze pinched at D’dwyn’s naked skin as she stretched out, floating in a warm pool of liquid moonlight. The goddess slowly glided on her back, sprinkling drops of the moonlight over the exposed parts of her body while she drifted. She quieted her thoughts and focused on her family. When all was ready she dipped her head back further. The quiet of the pool covering her ears. Now she could listen to her children.
She heard High priestess Melgen giving thanks in a quiet whispered prayer. Viscount Dreck of Smithmore had paid the priestess a third installment, funding the construction of his new and secret pleasure palace in Kekdor’s pass. The Building was to be complete with torture rooms and crematorium. And while Melgen had provided him regular updates, sketches, and news of the ongoing construction, the truth was, not a stone had been turned. Every coin he turned over to her had gone into “the works”. D’dwyn’s secret network caring for those who cannot care for themselves. The goddess smiled, the wretched Viscount would prove a formidable enemy to Melgen when he found out his money had been reallocated. She would have to make sure her priestess was protected.
Another prayer whispered its way through the quiet of the pool. It was Mara. The goddess felt a twinge of guilt, Mara was so gifted and so independent that the goddess sometimes took her progress in the faith as preordained.
Mara was, again, asking for guidance on the line that divides good and evil. For all her natural talents and powerful lineage, this was one prayer that had always perplexed her. She couldn’t understand how a knife that had been used to kill innocence bore no stain of evil. Or a newborn child, fresh into this world, would not radiate good. She had tried the prayer repeatedly in the last few months without success. But this time it was different, the context was perfect. She asked about herself. It was an easy prayer to answer. The Goddess smiled again.
Upon hearing strange noises coming from the eastern wing, the party decides that the door Malmiir barred must be opened. Inside, they encounter Dragon Master Miscravige, clutching a large claw of a dragon, behind a meat shield of the Children of Arach. Despite the party being conflicted about the innocence of the cultists, they charge. Fire, arrows and spiritual weapons rain down on the enemy.
The ensuing fight comes to a halt when a dark figure appeared to rescue Miscravige from the chaos.
The imposing figure threatens the party and all who might aid them, producing proof of his intentions. The party was horrified at the sight of the corpses of the bloodied and beaten drow Cazz, her elven husband and three young boys. Azrael, seeing the figure for what he really is, takes his True Form to even the odds. Unfortunately, the transformation catches Ao’s attention. After a death, an escape, a rebirth, and the summoning of a demon creature, our adventurers are left with a narrow victory and many more questions.
They were two old souls bound together. Even as children Larya and Kaldin, affection for each other seemed born of something other than childhood crushes and puppy love. So, when they announced their betrothal a few years earlier than traditional eleven marital etiquette might dictate, their indiscretions were met with tears of joy across the community.
As was tradition, they would make the pilgrimages of water and life on the day after they married.
They left from their new home. He headed east toward the mountains and the tree of life. She headed west to the Peace Oools of Orijion. He was to return with a seed, and she with water to plant their life together. It was an old custom that had fallen out of favor amongst the recently married, but everyone agreed, it was perfect for them.
Larya returned first and waited. She sat near the front door, hand on the latch, waiting every day for weeks, she sat waiting to spring open the door to their new life together.
He never came. Fallen out of the highest branches of the trees of life, while reaching for the perfect seedpod, he had struggled to get back to her. However, his injuries were too great. He died on his way home.
A simple copper metal door latch that attaches easily to one side of any functioning door . Anyone pulling the door open with the latch while whispering “amara” will open a portal through the door to the location that their heart considers home.