Meyvn's Refuge

Nightmare Swamp
The haunted mists hide the world's greatest secret

After defeating the giant army of giants, the party discovered that Armos had broken into Spire’s spire and destroyed the seal supporting Meyvn’s Refuge. Through a stroke of luck, they were able combine their talents in order to place a temporary seal. Chasing Armos across the continent, they ended up in King’s Cross, which they decided must be Armos’s next destination. However, Olaran the Grim was unreceptive to their concerns and seemed convinced that he could trick Armos into serving him. The party waited beneath the city, keeping a watch on the skies for any trouble. Several days later, they spotted Armos flying past King’s Cross…

The best next step was unclear: Should the party follow Armos, not knowing to where he is going? Or should they head north to assist the Fey against Nevydia, whose army would reach the edge of the forest at any time? Frost cursed the fact that lacked the ability to scry Armos and track his movement, since they needed a drop of his blood to power the Sanguine Flame ritual they had picked up from the Nevydian slavers in Meyvnhold. Meryn immediately suggested he use her cloak, which likely had some blood splatter from their last encounter with Armos. Though unfavorable, the bloody cloak was an appropriate component, and within minutes a vast pillar of flame on the horizon showed Armos’s precise location and direction — though he would know that he was being scryed upon.

With the ability to track Armos’s every move, the adventurers decided to head west and cut him off on the way. Though they had told the wizards of Spire to ward their spire from being teleported into, they did, however, know of another teleportation circle even closer to where they wanted to be — in the Winter King’s fortress. Without hesitation, they teleported there and began devising an ambush for Armos amidst the mountains. However, such a plan was deemed infeasible, as fighting Armos in the open had always proven to be doomed from the start, given his propensity to take to the skies and flee. Instead — and with a wicked storm blowing in from the east — they took to their phantom steeds and headed in the direction of Armos’s flight path… which seemed to lead to nowhere but the vast swamplands that was popularly believed to be haunted.

After several days’ travel, they reached the edge of the swamp and instantly felt an overwhelming sense of wrongness in every respect. The arcane winds that blow subtly across the continent were completely still there; there was an ominous silence within the misty land; and Mist sensed that the primal spirits who inhabited the world were completely absent. The deeper they went into the swamp, the lower they sank into the foggy depths, and it was only thanks to their ephemeral steeds that they were able to move through the thick bog with any speed.

However, as they ventured deeper into the mist, it became obvious that they were being watched. Strange lights gathered in the distance, and though an unnatural silence pervaded, there was the faintest sound in the distance, like the gentle murmuring of running water — Frost, straining his ears, made out a few words of Deep Speech, the language of creatures from places unknown, whether it be deep underground or “beyond the beyond,” in a realm far beyond that of even the gods. The speakers seemed to be singing of a home that was not home, and of extinguishing all the stars. Eventually, Frost tried communicating with them, but was met with only a hushed chorus of manic voices that soon fell into silence.

As night fell, the party had no choice but to set up camp and continue in the morning. Remaining always vigilant, they turned in for the night, relying on Mist’s nigh-impenetrable traps and alarms to keep the camp safe. Shortly after turning in, though, the party awoke to the alarms going off, but nothing was in sight. They waited, but no enemies showed themselves; what’s more, a thorough search of the premises turned up nothing; even calling out into the dark night provoked no response. Again, the adventurers settled into their tents, but each time, the alarms were triggered with no danger presenting itself. Frost decided to keep watch all night with his Iron Vigil, but it was a most uneasy night for everyone.

After days of traveling into the heavy fog with no end in sight, and only the massive beacon of flame shooting into the sky from Armos’s location by which to orient themselves, the adventurers were suddenly struck from their phantom steeds by blighted wisps of explosive gas. They arose from the fog like wisps of breath on a cold day, and their numbers seemed endless as they formed out of the swamp gas, but they suddenly vanished as quickly as they had emerged.

All the while that the party had been traveling through the swamp, Bleidd had been becoming increasingly paranoid. At first, he thought he saw shapes out of the corner of his eyes, but chalked it up to the dreadfully eerie atmosphere. But then he began to see vaguely humanoid figures in the distance, and a face that peered up at him from the water that was gone when he looked back. Though Bleidd was insistent that he was seeing odd things, none of the others experienced the same hallucinations, despite their equally high-strung nerves. As the days passed, Bleidd’s paranoia reached terrifying heights, as he began to see ghostly figures when he turned around that were nowhere to be seen when he turned to take another look. Then, the figures began to appear more clearly, and even when he turned away and looked back, they would still be there as often as they would not. In the last days within the swamp, more and more ghastly figures appeared, drawing closer and closer to him, until by the last day he was constantly surrounded by gruesome figures who appeared to have died in violent ways, and their eyes were fixated on him at all times. Though he was terrified, his comrades could do nothing but speculate as to why this phenomenon was occurring to him.

After many days spent walking straight into the heart of the swamp, the party finally reached a massive stone structure rising up from the lowest point. Eagerly, they sought out the door and found the entrance flanked by two cobwebbed stone figures, one of a man wearing animal hide armor, and another of a woman in plate armor bearing the nine-pointed sun of Pelor; Frost instantly deduced that these statues represented Jorath the barbarian and Nevydia the paladin, respectively. However, it soon became apparent that these were not, in fact, representations, but those ancient, legendary figures themselves! The guardians were rather silent at first, but after characteristically incessant prodding on the part of the party — who demonstrated their knowledge of the ancient secret of Meyvn’s sacrifice — the ancient heroes loosened up and parlayed with the party.

The adventurers tried their best to show their good intentions, but to little avail — their knowledge of Meyvn’s ritual only made them seem more suspicious, and the guardians refused to believe not only that a powerful cleric of Tiamat could possibly be heading their way to destroy the tower, but that the Refuge could be weakening. The guardians declared that they would wait, but that if no evil force reared its head (or five heads) soon, then they would slay the interlopers where they stood; certain of Armos’s imminent approach, the party agreed to these terms. Through a sustained effort to prove that the Refuge was, indeed, weakening, and that they wanted to stop it from being rent asunder, the adventurers managed to get Nevydia and Jorath to trust them slightly more, but only minutes before Armos soared down from the skies, his great wings beating back the mist and revealing the sun to this land for the first time in milennia; his body split apart, and two dragons bore down upon the party while a three-headed nightmare flew up to the top of the tower, where Meyvn herself awaited…

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The Giant Army of Giants
  • A great decision stood before the party: Return to Spire immediately? Continue their work in the Wastes? Or retrieve Rahjmar’s ritual components as quickly as possible?
  • Frost sent a Sending message to Rahjmar, inquiring whether the Khan had passed his tests. While waiting for a response, the party began a pool on what the answer would be; Hester and Bleidd in particular were certain that the Khan had failed. Nevertheless, Rahjmar responded with a firm “Yes.” Elated, Frost sent another message to the Khan, congratulating him and, at Meryn’s suggestion, hinting that the Khan should seek to conquer Meyvnhold as soon as possible. The Khan replied: “Meyvnhold will only be the first to fall. Our armies march.”
  • With that loose end tied up, the party agreed that they needed to return to Spire immediately, first to retrieve the dragon heart from Frost’s laboratory, and then to assist in the city’s defense. They opened a portal and stepped through into the city.
  • Tormund Kane and Grom, a dwarven military commander, briefed the party on the situation: An army of giants and ogres, under the leadership of a frost giant, had overrun the dwarven fortresses and was now marching in this direction. The fortresses may have held, had it not been for the sudden rising of the dwarven dead within the strongholds: A necromancer was among the army of giants. All that remained of the dwarven kingdom was now in Spire, which was also being readied for evacuation.
  • The party decided to scout ahead and see what information they could gather. They traveled into the area ravaged by the marauding invaders and found a destroyed settlement. By studying the tracks, Mist learned that a human had passed through along with an ogre and a swarm of shambling zombies. She led the party in their direction, where they discovered a campsite guarded by the undead.
  • Having the advantage of surprise, the adventurers were able to mow through the crowd of zombies on their way towards their ultimate targets, a disgusting, undead ogre and none other than their old foe, the necromancer Arianne Lorvis.
  • The party fared well enough in the battle until the undead ogre spat out two swarms of baby stirges, which antagonized the combatants and nearly killed all of them. Meanwhile, Bleidd sat on a nearby rock and shared a beer with his new demon pal, occasionally throwing whirlwinds and lightningbolts in the direction of the fight.
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The Unfinished Ritual
  • The party returned to Rahjmar’s spire and found him conversing with a wasteland druid. Rahjmar had called him there to assist him with locating specific ritual components necessary to fully transfer the enchantment that had been on the crystal dagger to his own body, as the ritual had not been adequately completed the first time around.
  • The following components were required for the ritual: The tooth of a bulette; a leaf from Kahziel’s tree; a necromancer’s tears; and the heart of a dragon.
  • The Khan was affronted at having been brought to the animated desiccated husk of a dragonborn and threatened to leave. However, he was persuaded to stay and undergo Rahjmar’s tests.
  • The party went with the druid to find the tooth of a bulette. Mist and Frost knew that such monsters were relatively numerous at the edge of the Wastes, so the party trekked for a couple of days and reached the tall cliffs that marked the edge of the known world.
  • Before the party had fully settled into camp, the druid wandered up the cliff path and was attacked by gargoyles. During the ensuing fight, a bulette appeared. The party managed to retrieve victory from the jaws of defeat and a tooth from the jaws of the bulette.
  • During the night, Frost occupied himself in scavenging the bulette corpse for alchemical reagents. While studying the creature’s anatomy, he noticed that it had several organs adapted for the purpose of absorbing magic that were severely underdeveloped – in this eureka moment, he concluded most decisively that all creatures on the continent were cut off from the greater flow of magic due to Meyvn’s refuge; as a result, the adventurers, too, would be unable to reach their full potential while the refuge still stood…
  • Early the next morning, Frost received a Sending message from Tormund Kane: A humongous army of giants had overrun the dwarven kingdom and was now threatening the Free Commons; Spire needed its heroes.
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Homecoming
Respecting one's elders
  • Unable to repair the damage done to the magic circle at the spire, the party looked for other options.
  • Hester began to hear some entity calling out to him from an impossible distance, and he believed that, for the first time, he was actually hearing the call of his god. Frost hypothesized that the evidence before them pointed to the conclusion that Meyvn’s ritual had succeeded in sealing off this part of the world, and that all magical creatures were limited in the reaching of their potential by this barrier between themselves and their ultimate power source.
  • The crystal dagger carried by the Over-General turned out to be a rare artifact that allowed one to speak with the dead. However, using the dagger for such a purpose seemed to increase the speed at which the fabric of reality unraveled.
  • The party resorted to a standard Speak with Dead ritual to speak to the oldest corpse in the tower, that of an ancient dragonborn.
  • The dragonborn turned out to be Rahjmar I, and after much questioning of the corpse, the party learned that they could resurrect him by sticking the crystal dagger into his body.
  • Rahjmar restored the runes on the magic circle and told the adventurers that the crystal dagger was actually a lure for the souls of the dead, who are trapped in the material world due to Meyvn’s ritual, which sealed this part of the world off from the rest of it. The dead wrongly believe that they can reach the afterlife through the dagger, and this keeps them in one place so that their overwhelming presence does not break the seal. Rahjmar transferred the dagger’s enchantment to his own body so that the party could take the dagger and there would be no risk of someone running off with it.
  • Rahjmar agreed to give his blessing to a worthy candidate to unite the Wastes if the party could find one and was then buried underneath his throne for safekeeping.
  • Frost requested that they return to his and Mist’s tribe and offer the chance to become Rahjmar IV to their khan. Frost had been sent out into the world by the khan in order to find magic, technology, and ancient knowledge that would strengthen the tribe and help it defend itself against the Nevydians, and so he believed that this opportunity was the perfect fulfillment of his duty; furthermore, the khan had spared Frost’s life when the rest of the tribe wanted him put to death for possessing psionic powers, and thus Frost felt that he owed the khan a great deal.
  • The reunion between Mist and her father, the khan, was awkward, to say the least, and he was highly skeptical of Frost’s proposed idea of going alone to an ancient ruin to speak to the corpse of an ancient ruler, but after mulling it over for a night, he begrudgingly accepted.
  • On the return trip to the tower, the party was ambushed at night by a vampire and its thralls because Frost, who was standing guard at the time, was absorbed in going back through his notes.
  • During the battle, Hester called for the khan to come out and show his strength. He did so, wiping the floor with the undead in his path.
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A Desert Called Home
A race against time through the wasteland

After disposing of the Nevydian slave-raiding party, the adventurers realized that, while there were no witnesses to say that the adventurers struck first, there were also no witnesses to come to their defense. So, as the alarm rang in the distance, the party attempted to beat a hasty retreat through the back alleys of the dusty town. The hunters’ cunning of the shifters and Meryn’s knowledge of the city streets helped them evade their pursuers within the urban jungle until they found themselves in another crowded square. “Out of the way!” Bleidd threatened, scattering the crowd but drawing more attention to the party as people screamed for the guards.

The party reached the city walls and managed to climb over and descend to the far side without being spotted. The sun bore down on them heavily as they trekked in the direction of the Nevydian Over-General, so Frost and Mist, being in familiar territory, decided to try tracking down the nearest nomadic clan: They would need to rest before facing the Nevydians and their draconic ally, and they would need allies of their own as well.

Coming upon a clan of Dragonborn, the adventurers introduced themselves and were welcomed with the hospitality due to fellow enemies of Nevydia. While resting among the tribe, they met its leader, Garesh, “King of Dragons”, a man of characteristic nomadic bravado. After explaining their mission to him, they tried to convince him to provide his clan’s strength to their cause. Garesh was hesitant to agree to sending his people across the sea, but expressed his satisfaction with the party’s goal and seemed willing to provide at least local support against Meyvnhold. After listening to Garesh speak about about Rahjmar, uniter of the Wastes, Hester attempted to appeal to his bravado by suggesting that Garesh could become Rahjmar IV. This idea greatly pleased Garesh, who dreamed of leading a massive army through the no-man’s land, reclaiming it for the nomads and pressing onward to Nevydia, and he ordered a grand feast to be held in his guests’ honor…

After a revelrous feast and a night’s sleep, the party was sent off with Garesh’s blessing and some supplies. Riding astride Phantom Steeds, the party reached the Wasteland Spire by the time the sun head reached its zenith. In the distance they could hear the faint clattering of metal, and atop the spire was the clear silhouette of a blue dragon. Bracing themselves for a brutal fight, the party held its position and waited for the dragon, Radokraxis, to come to them — seeking a fight, the dragon eagerly advanced on them and attacked from the sky. But not for long, as he was quickly sent tumbling to the ground, where he would spend much of the battle.

After the brutal battle, the dragon lay unconscious, as the party had decided to spare him for the time being as they removed a strange bracelet from around his claw. The dragon awoke and noticed the bracelet, flying into a rage as he realized that he had been ensorcelled by the Over-General — the bracelet made him believe that the Over-General was his greatest and truest friend. Bleidd, who had earlier slipped the bracelet around his own neck, was slightly unnerved by this revelation, but felt no desire to remove the luxurious adornment. Knowing that blue dragons are among the haughtiest of all dragons (which are, as a rule, already fairly haughty), the adventurers attempted to soothe the dragon by ingratiating themselves and asking humbly for him to lead him in exacting revenge on the Nevydians. The dragon agreed to his “servants’” request, but was horribly weakened by the battle and flew away to recover.

Knowing that they had little time, as the Nevydians had already begun casting some sort of ritual, the party ran as fast as they could to the tower and found only two living beings: a female mage and the Nevydian Over-General, who fought alongside a horrible wraith. Bleidd was happy to see his true and honest friend and felt compelled to attack the party, but was, fortunately, able to resist this magical compulsion for the most part. The battle was grueling, but ultimately the party was victorious, with the Over-General — who appeared to have actually been a reanimated corpse — no more and the mage unconscious…

During the battle, Frost had used his ability to teleport through the Feywild, as he tended to do, but this time the trip was anything but ordinary: Far from seamlessly slipping between realms, he felt violently shoved between dimensions as though something were being broken by the act, and he came out on the other side of the teleportation by falling through a hole that had opened above the ground. The party momentarily saw, through the portal, an endless black void filled with stars, through which a terrifying mass of tentacles and mouths fell before the portal closed…

Though the battle was won, the adventurers had little time to comfortably enjoy another victory. The magical dagger that Bleidd removed from the Over-General’s corpse was cold to the touch, and as soon as he grasped it, he found himself surrounded by an endless expanse of tortured spirits reaching out to him but unable to touch him. Furthermore, the teleportation ritual that the Nevydian mage had attempted to cast by altering the tower’s teleportation circle appeared to have disrupted a powerful seal that was holding something in place, shaking the foundation of reality…

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Return to Nevydia

[This is just a quick summary of what’s happened since we started again. The details may or may not get fleshed out later. -TW]

  • After the adventurers opened the link to the Feywild and saved Caer Kahziel from the beholder, they revealed that Nevydia had been taking Fey slaves, violating the conditions of the Alliance. As a result, Caer Kahziel broke the alliance and tensions flared.
  • Olaran the Grim contacted the adventurers a month or two later, saying that he was “calling in a favor.”
  • Frost and Mist met with Bleidd, an intimidating halfling merchant and rival of Armos Kamroth.
  • Before leaving Caer Kahziel, Frost received a letter to Meryn from Roawn Sparrowhawk, Chief Pixie. Finding magical teleportation to Olaran’s tower impossible, the trio walked.
  • Meryn, who had been busy freeing slaves with Hester Ironhoof, brother of the late Pester Ironhoof, also set off to Nevydia. The band reunited along the way.
  • They discovered that the Nevydian army had mobilized, organizing around King’s Crossing, in order to wage war against Caer Kahziel.
  • Sneaking through the sewers from which they had escaped King’s Crossing before, the adventurers fought a group of assassins whom they discovered were hired to kill Olaran and were working with a black dragon, which they also encountered in the sewers.
  • The adventurers managed to sneak up through Jayce Penderghast’s old tavern by disguising themselves as a human captain and slave-soldiers and causing a distraction that allowed them to exit safely onto the streets.
  • Olaran, who had become increasingly paranoid after several assassination attempts, asked the adventurers to find out who wanted him dead and why. Using their characteristic guile and talent, they found the assassins’ hideout and recovered some documents belong to Kashana Tyr, a Nevydian general who had earlier demanded that Olaran relinquish use of his tower to the army.
  • The adventurers managed to deceive their way into the general’s headquarters and, despite being smashed through a second-story wall and jammed into a toilet, managed to kill the general and her guards. They quickly gathered up the general’s documents and valuables and ran before reinforcements arrived.
  • The documents revealed that the Nevydian Over-General, Peter Tovenomkin, had located an unnamed item in The Wastes that would guarantee their victory in the upcoming war, and that he was leaving with a dragon named Radocraxis to procure it.
  • The adventurers concocted a strategy to crush Nevydia using the combined strength of Caer Kahziel, The Free Commons, and the Wastelanders. Frost contacted Elril Vesnerios, leader of the eladrin, and Tormund Kane, steward of Spire, with a Sending ritual to warn them and inform them of the plan, but received no response and a vague “Thank you” in return, respectively.
  • Olaran transported the adventurers to Meyvnhold, where the local wizard Kaveak Dashtani of the White Robes hesitantly welcomed them. After learning in which direction the Nevydian detachment had gone, they left.
  • Immediately after the adventurers’ arrival, someone began scrying on them and casted a spell to hinder their travel. Hesitating outside the wizard’s villa, they discovered that he had betrayed them to a pursuing band of Nevydian slavers, a mage, and a drake.
  • The party led their pursuers to a more advantageous position in town and defeated them.
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The Heroes of Caer Kahziel
Could there be somewhere else out there?

The otherworldly entity, a vile Beholder, glared ferociously at the assembled crowd and began to descend upon it. Screams rang out as many ran in terror of the foreign horror, but the adventurers remained along with the stalwart Eladrin guards, readying their weapons for combat.

Ruin dashed over to Mist, shouting, “Trust me on this one!” He whispered a strange spell into her ear, polymorphing her into a mighty hellsworn. Only momentarily taken aback by this development, she charged headlong into battle.

The Beholder was unlike anything the seasoned combatants had seen or even read about before. Frost’s fingers lingered momentarily over his journal as he reached for his orb and began channeling his psychic energy to keep the abomination at bay. Even while defending itself from the party’s maneuvers, the monster unleashed rays of destruction from its eye stalks that caught several Eladrin warriors in their path and reduced them to piles of ash.

Despite these losses, the battle seemed to be going in the party’s favor as they pushed it back from the teleportation circle and The Lady’s sapling, which was growing at an uncanny rate. They tore its vile flesh from its skull, and the otherworldly monster bled gold and metal. However, the tide turned against them and quickly overwhelmed them. As the party looked into the Beholder’s hateful eyes, they felt waves of psychic energy probing their thoughts. With its hypnotic gaze, the Beholder took control of Mist and Ruin, stopping them dead in their tracks and turning them against their allies.

Mist and Ruin watched helplessly, trapped within their own minds, as they were forced to strike at their comrades to kill. Mist lunged at Reynard, who only barely managed to avoid her scimitar impaling his gut. Her enhanced demonic form slammed against his body, and he pushed her away as she regained her sense of self and returned to the battle. But by that point, they were all already in over their heads.

The Beholder had gained the upper hand, launching its rays of destruction in every direction. The remaining Eladrin guards ran away in terror, leaving the party alone in the desperate struggle. One of the creature’s rays struck Frost, who tried to resist its searing burns but could feel it rending his flesh even as he focused his mind to keep the Beholder — and his own allies — away.

In the end, it was too much. As much as he tried to ignore the pain and continue fighting, his mental fortitude reached its limits, and his fragile body collapsed. Still conscious, but barely aware, he watched the hopeless scene play out as the Beholder’s otherworldly power continued to dissolve the flesh from his bones. Moments later, he passed away in agony.

Mist saw Frost’s body fall still and the life fade from his eyes. Her ward was dead; she had failed her clan; and she was being controlled like a puppet by a hideous abomination. The infernal rage possessing her from Ruin’s spell brought her to hitherto unknown heights of primal rage, and she charged straight into the Beholder’s central eye, absorbing its blast and plunging her scimitar into it to the hilt. With her otherworldly strength, she lifted the creature over her head and hurled it across the room.

And then there was silence.

The creature’s flesh burned away, revealing a skull of gold and eyes made of precious gemstones. A quick scan of the surroundings showed the party that the battle was truly won; they had survived, save for Frost. They gathered around his maimed body, and not even Reynard’s healing technomancy could heal his grave wounds and recall his spirit from the beyond.

Ruin called out, “Lady! I request an audience!” She appeared from the trunk of her tree, which had grown up into the trunk of the tree above in the brief span of the battle. Solemnly, Ruin offered his own soul to The Lady’s service if she could bring Frost back from the beyond. She accepted his offer, and she disappeared along with Frost’s body.

He awoke not long after in a strange, fantastical place with colorful birds and animals and lush, vibrant foliage. As he reached for his journal, he saw a squat, homely creature standing above him that apparently looked like a cross between an elf-on-a-shelf and a Troll doll: It was The Lady. She told him that she had brought him back from death, and he recalled those last moments: “Yes, I remember… the pain was — excruciating.” “Yes,” she replied, “I don’t really care. Off you go.” “But I have so many ques—” Frost began to object, but in an instant he was already back among his comrades.

The party said farewell to Ruin, who had sworn himself to The Lady’s service eternally. His sacrifice was far greater than Frost and Mist knew how to express their gratitude, but Frost swore to him that, when Frost returned to his people, they would all know and celebrate the name of “Anjax” — Ruin’s true name — for generations to come.

The normally dour people of Caer Kahziel were overwhelmed with joy, as the growth of The Lady’s tree reconnected them with the mystical Feywild. They honored the party as heroes — although they assured the party that Caer Kahziel was never in any real danger from one creature — and regaled them with feasts and celebrations that would continue for weeks.

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Bridging the Divides
There is more in this world and the next...

The meeting with Armos was awkward, to say the least. Frost remained largely silent, and Armos invited the party to meet with him at his estate, but was evasive when asked for any details along the way. Unable to put up with the simmering tension, Meryn, who had returned from fishing, charged at Armos and Frost. A battle broke out, and Armos put his shadow magic on display once again. Frost demanded his friends to stop, but the battle continued until he revealed that he had a magical timebomb implanted in his chest, waiting for Armos’s word to set it off. Armos eventually turned into a dragon and flew away.

Frost revealed to his party what had happened at Armos’s tower, and the party remembered Olaran the Grim, the powerful Nevydian wizard they had helped in King’s Crossing. They asked for his help with a Sending ritual, and he invited them. The party made haste to Spire, which they found in turmoil. A prison break had occurred just before their arrival, and Arianne the necromancer escaped. The party teleported to Olaran’s tower and, due to the gravity of the situation, explained the whole situation with Armos. Examining the runes and plate on Frost’s chest, Olaran explained that, while Armos could track their location with it, he was unable to actually kill Frost or turn him into an undead minion with it. With the help of Meryn and Ruin, he was able to extract the chestplate and deactivate it (Frost pocketed it for later examination).

Olaran also told the party that Jayce Penderghast turned out to have been conspiring with someone to acquire Olaran’s spire — and an inscription found on one of his personal effects turned out to be similar to one linked to Armos.

Unfortunately, Olaran knew even less about the relationship between the spires, amulet, and anything else than the party did. However, the discussion reminded him of several fringe theories about different planes of existence in which the gods, devils, and other otherworldly beings are said to reside, but he had little else to offer. When told of the Ancient Amulet’s power and origins, he offered to keep the amulet for safekeeping, but was talked out of it when the party reminded him that a five-headed dragon was after it. Meryn insisted that the party hole up in the spire and wait for Armos to appear so that they could confront him, but the others, particularly Ruin, wanted to take the amulet to Caer Kahziel. They decided on the latter course of action after much argument, deciding that Armos was too powerful and that they needed to stay on the move.

Before teleporting to the fey city, the party took a detour back to Spire on an idea of Frost’s. He asked Olaran to teach him the Speak With Dead ritual so that they could try to get an answer out of the Tiefling corpse underneath the farm in Spire. They returned to the farm and waited for Frost to master the ritual, at which point they immediately set to work performing it. The corpse’s skeletal mouth slowly opened, and the party waited in great anxiety as its raspy whisper croaked out answers… It told them that the amulet was a gift for her coronation by the archdevil Baalzenefarath-Ra, who was her adviser and consort, and the amulet was meant to protect her. However, she knew nothing of the stone spires across the land.

The party then quickly made their way to Caer Kahziel, sans Meryn, who insisted on staying behind. The party gave their respects and said good-bye, just in case they did not return from whatever happened there, but vowed to return soon.

During teleportation, the bearer of the amulet had noticed that it caused a most turbulent reaction. Before going to Caer Kahziel, Frost gave the amulet to Friedrich to hold. Upon their arrival, the displacer beast immediately began inscribing new runes around the circle. Frost tried to stop it, but it lashed out at him, and Ruin told him to wait and see what happened… Suddenly, The Lady cried out, “At last! The Ritual is complete! And now the final ingredient… Your blood!” Friedrich lashed out at Ruin, whose blood splattered on the circle and instantly caused a flash of bright red, fiery light, from which emerged a most hideous devil — one that Frost immediately recognized as the creator of the Ancient Amulet. The archdevil roared in laughter, but was suddenly caught up in a white light and vanished.

The Lady appeared in her own form and planted a seed in the circle. She commanded Ruin to make sure that the seed grew, and then vanished. The Eladrin and Reynard suddenly felt an intense wave of emotion, and some began crying that they could feel the Feywild…

The bright light vanished, and briefly, one could see a deep, starry blackness, which in turn vanished. However, before the portal closed for good, an outsider from a very far realm appeared, hovering over the party with its eye stalks glaring at them…

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INTERMEZZO: Elsewhere in the World... into The Wastes
Fragile alliances and ancient enemies

In the far reaches of the Wastes, tensions were rising over a recent massive increase in the amount of lost livestock. The local tribes agreed to send one representative each to investigate the mysterious disappearances: A tiefling elementalist, a goliath berserker, a pixie battlemind, and a kenku assassin. From the site of a recent disappearance, they tracked down a nest of drakes, but drake attacks on livestock are not so uncommon in the Wastes. The drakes attacked the party, but the pixie was able to communicate with the mother drake and learn that something else was taking off with the livestock.

The party endured the harsh elements to reach a stone spire in the middle of the desert, and in the distance they could vaguely detect activity around the base of the tower. The kenku summoned phantom steeds of the Wild Hunt, and the party rode them into battle against the band of Nevydian humans camped at the spire’s base. During the battle, a mage attempted to break through the stone wall in order to channel the marauding Wastelanders inside to their deaths, but the party slaughtered the Nevydian interlopers and took their leader captive. After resting, the tiefling and kenku attempted to finish the work of opening the tower, but they inadvertently caused the stone wall to erupt into punishing shrapnel. Nevertheless, the way was open, and they were immediately beset by three wraiths, whose Stygian chanting clouded their minds and nearly brought them to their knees in sorrow and rage.

The party banished the wraiths and proceeded to investigate the interior. Inside, the magic users examined a warded teleportation circle, and the others noticed that, along the far wall, the dessicated corpse of a dragonborn opened its eyes and watched them…

The corpse began to hiss out words and rose to engage the party. It did not attack, but told the intruders that they would never be allowed to leave. The party attempted to show due respect to the ancient one, vowing to leave and never return. The dragonborn offered to let them live if they would stay and protect him for the rest of their lives and beyond, but this first offer, naturally, was declined. After more bargaining, the ancient one revealed that the crystalline dagger stuck into its chest was an extraordinarily powerful artifact, through which all the souls of the dead believe that they can reach heaven. “But there is no way to heaven from this world,” he told the Wastelanders. The dagger, he said, must be protected at all costs and never taken from the Wastes. Since the despised Nevydians apparently knew something of the ancient power, the party agreed to serve as the object’s guardians, signing a pact in blood.

After the corpse handed the dagger to the pixie, who would become the new bearer of the dagger, it crumbled into dust. They returned to their tribes victorious, but in uneasy spirits…

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Intrigue & Shadows
Wherein Armos turns into a five-headed dragon

The party attempted to squeeze information out of Arianne, but she was unwilling to cooperate unless she would be freed afterwards. The party flatly refused, unwilling to let a necromancer in search of ancient, dark power loose in the countryside. After much resistance from her, they decided to take her back to Spire and create a public outcry against Armos and his involvement with the necromancer.

On the road back, they were beset by gnoll slavers from Nevydia. On the leader’s corpse, the party found a decree by the Overking himself that Mist, Frost, Meryn, Matis, and Valek were to be brought to trial for crimes against Nevydia…

However, the party was worn down from the battle against the gnolls, and they decided to wait until nightfall to enter Spire so that they would not draw attention until they were ready. They left the uncooperative necromancer in a room of the manor that Meryn had arranged to be warded against magic. They then realized that their dinner with Armos was that night, and they quickly decided to attend and act casual.

The dinner party itself was much like any dinner party, but Armos grew increasingly anxious as the evening went on and Arianna did not show up. Much food was eaten, small talk was made, and little of incident occured until the guests were leaving. Ruin, thanking their host for the feast, hugged him, and in that moment unwittingly blurted out that they had Arianna captive in the manor! Ruin quickly chalked it up to too much wine and old grudges coming to the fore, and Armos let it slide.

The party decided to spend the night at the manor and stay extra vigilant, certain that they would be set upon in the night. Frost stayed awake, using a divine ritual to rest his mind and body while staying completely alert. In the wee hours of the morning, he just barely caught sight of an intruder lurking in the shadows and gave a cry of alarm before giving pursuit. The rest of the party awoke just in time to find Frost dropping the Ancient Amulet in front of the front door that was open to the dark night. They fought against a shadowy opponent who was capable of reaching from the shadow into people’s bodies with a tenebrous limb, dominating their minds.

Ruin managed to land a great blow on the intruder, revealing its face in a flash of light to be that of Armos! It was a brutal battle that drained the still-exhausted adventurers of their fighting spirit as they pursued Armos into the dark night, but they seemed to be gaining the upper hand until he, beginning to waver in endurance, suddenly erupted in a shadowy blast and transformed into a great, five-headed dragon. The party was blinded, and when the shadowy veil dissipated, they saw that not only was the dragon gone, but so was Frost, who had been incapacitated during the struggle…

The adventurers attempted to get answers from Arianne one more time after seeing of what dark magic Armos himself was capable, but she remained intransigent. Ruin, fed up with the situation, led the party to Armos’s manor, dragging the necromancer with them. Armos was absent, and the guards were bewildered by the party’s story, unwilling or unable to believe it… The city guard was summoned, and the party and Arianne subsequently imprisoned as they refused to leave otherwise. Later that morning, Thormund Kane, the town steward, came to weigh in on the matter. Ruin, Reynard, and Mist managed to convince him to free them to search for Frost while priests from other towns were brought in to weigh in on the charges of necromancy. They searched intensely, but the odds were stacked against them. Until…

Meanwhile, Frost awoke in an unknown location before Armos. Armos interrogated him for everything that he knew about Meyvn’s Sacrifice and the Ancient Amulet. Armos even offered him freedom if Frost were willing to work for him, but Frost balked at the idea of helping the power-hungry man in his pursuit for ancient, destructive power. Frost was characteristically noncompliant, but the old merchant had ways of getting what he wanted. He tied up Frost and incapacitated him with necrotic magic, and Frost woke up several times amid excruciating pain as Armos worked at carving mysterious symbols into the shifter’s chest… When the work was done, Armos told Frost that Frost would do as he said, or else, with a word, Armos would kill him and turn him into an undead servant; if Armos were to die, the same would happen. He took Frost out of the tower, and…

Ruin, Reynard, and Mist, with the help of serious investigation and friendly spirits, discovered Armos and Frost on the road…

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