Dravago 4, 1001 YK
The Eran Royal Council meets to discuss the situation with Metrol, the Magebred Imperium, and Zil’dejin’s Ascension. Because the city is protected by a huge prismatic wall, Eros couldn’t invade if it wanted to, so the Collective goes on a “diplomatic mission” ostensibly to deliver the Stone of Light, but mainly to scout the city and determine how the wall works. They go to Metrol and meet with Emperor Metreus Umitian the Usurper, as well as the new Magebred Lord of Spirit, Arvasin. They mainly discuss political matters, but after they leave they remain suspicious of the new emperor and question Rave and Vorril, the former of whom is learned to have a connection to Mordakhesh the Shadowsword’s plan to deal with Zenza. They learn Metreus had dealings with Mordakhesh as well. The party seeks out the exiled Lord of Spirit Burl Gadra to learn more and find him dead, but Conlon is able to speak to his corpse to verify that Metreus made a demonic deal. They go back to Metrol to confront Metreus, but cannot get inside the wall, so they return to Eros.
Dravago 11, 1001 YK
A week later, Umitia arrives as a diplomat, and Rave arrives as a guest lecturer for Conlon’s magic academy. After brief diplomatic talks the Collective uses the opportunity to enthrall one of the carriage drivers and have him take the party back into Metrol.
Dravago 12, 1001 YK
Back in Metrol, they confront Metreus. He comes clean about his deal with Mordakhesh but claims to have rebelled, as the deal required him to Ascend by defeating Zil’dejin, which he refused to do. Satisfied (sort of), the party leaves, but the carriage contains a disguised Mordakhesh, who shows them to a secret chamber beneath Metreus’ palace. Here they find that the prismatic wall is being powered by sacrifices made weekly. They confront Metreus again, and though he denies it at first he eventually admits it, but claims he feels very sorrowful about needing it to protect against the Godforged and the Valaes Tairn elves, and will disable it as soon as it is safe to do so. The Collective is outraged, soon escalating to threats of war.
Most of the party leaves, but Kaleth and Paddy remain behind to sabotage each power source for the prismatic wall (seven — one in each Palace of Vermishard, one for each layer of the wall). The others call the airship and prepare the army.
Dravago 14, 1001 YK
With the prismatic wall disabled, the Eran Royal Legion lays siege to Metrol, battling back the Magebred and Cyran ghosts they have summoned to aid them. The army narrowly defeats the Magebred and Zil’dejin meets Metreus while the others deal with Arvasin. Zil’dejin defeats and kills Metreus, and Ascends, preparing to choose between the Path of the Emperor and the Path of the Soldier.
Dravago 4, 1001 YK
The morning after returning from Derli’s Ascension in the Cinder Furnace, the Eclipse Collective awakens in Grey Titan’s Hold. The Eran Royal Council is assembled in the Eclipse Keep to discuss Zil’dejin’s Ascension and the situation with Metrol and the Magebred. Coref Irvallo, General of Eros, suggests a direct course of war, believing that Metrol was already rightfully in possession of Eros. Meanwhile, Rickard Mancuso, the Grand Diplomat, suggests they instead aim for mutual prosperity and find another way for Zil’dejin to Ascend, as he believes it would be better to foster peace with the neighbours.
Regardless of the kingdom’s intended course, access to Metrol is virtually impossible due to a huge prismatic wall surrounding the entire city, as reported by Rilic’s spies. Because the Magebred are expecting the delivery of the Stone of Light, the Collective decides to make a “diplomatic mission” to Metrol without an army or anything similar in tow. They begin to make preparations for this trip. Meanwhile, the Council also initiates some other changes in Eros, including a planned expansion to Conlon’s magic academy to include the school of abjuration, Kaleth requesting funds to educate Eran mages in time magic, and Zil’dejin laying the foundation for incentives to voluntarily join the military. Rickard Mancuso is sent to the Arcane Congress to seek out new instructors for the magical academy.
When all is in readiness, the party meets with Frances d’Lyrandar and boards the Phoenix Eclipse. Within a matter or hours they arrive outside of Metrol, which is just as the spies described: surrounded by a huge, shimmering barrier that obstructs vision inside. They stand around waiting for a time, and soon a fine carriage emerges from the iridescent dome. Driving the carriage is the new Magebred Lord of Spirit, Arvasin, a Third Generation Magebred and skilled psionic warrior. In the carriage is Umitia, Metreus’ wife and official diplomat of the new Magebred Imperium. The party is loaded into the carriage with the understanding that everybody but Zil’dejin will be kept in an anti-magic observation room for the duration of the audience in an attempt to avoid the type of scenario that led to Empress Donata’s death.
The carriage passes through the barrier without difficulty, and before arriving at the Second Palace of Vermishard they are given a brief tour of the city. Metreus has made huge strides in restoring destroyed sections of the city, including restoring the Palaces and their spires and the bridges connecting them, as well as the city wall which was nearly entirely ruined in the Day of Mourning. It has also become more populous, though Umitia makes no comment in that regard. Additionally, when Kaleth asks her how they created the huge prismatic wall, she remains reticent and vaguely suggests that the party “ask her husband.”
Before long, they arrive at the Second Palace of Vermishard, where the audience is held. Kaleth’s time-clone is stored in a separate time-plane for the duration, as he cannot exist in the antimagic room. During this audience, Metreus talks at length about the policies he has chosen to implement and the new directions he hopes to takes the Magebred Imperium. He explains that he wants an era of peace between Eros and the Imperium, and makes suggestions on how to evenly divide the currently-unclaimed land of the Mournland and make peace with the Godforged in their territory to the south.
After some diplomatic discussion in this vein, the party requests they be allowed into the throne room proper as a sign of trust and respect. Metreus allows it, and the rest of the Collective is taken out of the observation room into the throne room itself. Conlon’s witch-sight sees nothing out of the ordinary except a small illusion concealing a deep scar on Metreus’ face. When questioned on this, he is reluctant to speak of it, but reveals that it is a blade wound. When questioned, he suggests it is from Mordakhesh the Shadowsword, who attempted to strike a deal with him, though Metreus refused. He also answers some of Kaleth’s questions about the barrier, which he calls the Great Wall. He mentions that it exploits something ancient he discovered in the ruins of Metrol for powering it, and that it was set up with the help of House Cannith per an agreement he will not share the details of. Metreus suggests the wall was established to keep out the threats of the Godforged and the Valaes Tairn elves, and eventually the dragonborn army of Mishva Garodya Stormhorn.
Finally, Zil’dejin transfers the Stone of Light to Metreus, who thanks him profusely. The party begins to get suspicious of one of his hands, which he has been covering (despite the fact that both are covered by gauntlets), so Zil’dejin attempts to get him to shake his hand as a parting. Metreus offers his left and seems confused when asked to shake his right, so instead they suggest a salute. Metreus removes his glove and does so, revealing nothing. The party then leaves under the premise that Umitia will return to Grey Titan’s Hold in a week to discuss the specifics of their agreements. Zil’dejin is deeply conflicted, as he knows he must defeat Metreus to Ascend, but does not believe the emperor should be his enemy based on the way the audience went.
Suspicious of Metreus regardless, the party decides to investigate further before leaving Metrol. They are given an audience with Rave, and so go to the First Palace of Vermishard to meet with him. The palace, dark and illuminated only by dim violet torches, is attended by seemingly mute soldiers who escort them through a complicated series of passages to a chamber where Rave appears to be experimenting with a cadaver. He reaffirms that he has little interest in politics, but also confirms that Mordakhesh the Shadowsword has been in Metrol and has attempted to strike deals with both himself and with Metreus. Rave’s involvement seems to concern the freeing of Zenza, though he will not reveal much of it. This fact makes Kaleth, the Herald of Atropus, uncomfortable. The aasimar leaves the room, but Rave has little else to say. The remainder of the party soon leaves as well, but not before Conlon requests that Rave be a guest lecturer at the magical academy to speak on death magic. Despite retracting his invitation after realizing it was a bad idea, Conlon is frustrated to see that Rave still insists on coming to the academy.
They also visit Vorril, Lord of Earth, who is Zil’dejin’s greatest advocate in Metrol. He reveals a bit about Metreus’ rise, though shares little new information except some concerning Burl Gadra’s exile.
They attempt to seek out Burl Gadra to find out more, as they believe he may be the key to learning the truth of Metreus due to his exile. To use the magic necessary to find him, however, they must first leave the city, so they are taken out of the Great Wall again by Arvasin. He leaves them by their airship. They board it, and Kaleth uses his magic while they fly outwards from the city in a spiral to locate the former Magebred Lord of Spirit. They find him dead in the wastes, killed in what was apparently a major struggle. Conlon touches him, animating his corpse and allowing it to speak. Burl Gadra’s body reveals that he was killed by Mordakhesh because he witnessed the struggle between the rakshasa and Metreus, who had apparently struck an actual deal, resulting in Metreus acquiring the Mark of War on the back of his right hand, which was turned away from the party when he saluted them.
The Collective attempts to return to Metrol, but nobody is there to greet them at the Great Wall, denying them further entry. Seeing no other option, they return to Grey Titan’s Hold to await the arrival of Umitia in her capacity as diplomat.
Dravago 11, 1001 YK
In the week following the “diplomatic mission” to Metrol, the party keeps busy. Kaleth helps in training mages. Conlon restructures the magical academy, especially in the way of student conduct, and begins to seek new avenues to recruit lecturers (such as raising accomplished mages from the dead). Zil’dejin begins restructuring the legal system of Eros and starts a program to reform the captured homeless cultists. Rilic moves spies from Eros to Valenar to keep an eye on the elves.
Finally, after a week, not one but two carriages from the Magebred Imperium arrive: one carries Umitia, while the other carries Rave, who seems excited to be a guest lecturer. They, as well as their entourage, are given accommodations in the palace. The party undertakes negotiations with Umitia concerning details such as the placement of clearstones, trade agreements, and embassies. When this is done, they assemble a quick and discreet Council meeting to talk about the plan. They are going to take a carriage and return to Metrol (as this, combined with a driver, is needed to get past the Great Wall). Because things could go south quickly, they ask Coref to quietly prepare the Legion.
At the same time, Rave arrives at the magical academy, where he begins his “lecture”. He asks for a volunteer, and a younger apprentice steps forward. Rave reveals that he replaced the door to the lecture hall with a portal to a fake lecture hall in Dolurrh, the plane of the dead, to show what happens to the soul after death. He kills the volunteer and accelerates the decay on his soul, showing to the students the benefit of necromancy as “the only path” to avoid wasting away in Dolurrh.
Once this is decided, they find one of the carriage drivers and lure him out out of the palace in time for Conlon to make the man his thrall. The Collective gets in the carriage and quickly leaves due east. Winds mac Aire is in the carriage with them as he is apparently homeless, but didn’t want to make the mistake of sleeping in the palace as he didn’t want to be subjected to the Purge. He comes along with the party.
Dravago 12, 1001 YK
After over a day of travel (thankfully accelerated somewhat thanks to the use of magebred horses), the Collective reaches Metrol and passes through the barrier again. Winds mac Aire leaves to tour the city while the rest of the party returns to the Second Palace, this time disguised as Magebred soldiers. They are stopped by Arvasin just outside the palace, who tells them to get back to proper duty, but leaves them alone. The party then uses magic to ascend to the top of the Palace while invisible, and breaks into the throne room by disabling the wards on the huge glass window on the roof.
Once inside, they confront Metreus to learn that he had indeed struck a deal with Mordakhesh before he became emperor in order to become powerful enough to be recognized as a prospective emperor by the other Magebred lords. He was told about the Blooded and the path to Ascension, and connected with the Dragon Prophet who revealed his piece of the prophecy. The passage was the reverse of Zil’dejin’s, demanding that Metreus slay the Silver King to Ascend. In exchange, Mordakhesh demanded war with Eros and the death of Zil’dejin to fulfill Metreus’ Ascension — seemingly a win-win scenario. Metreus, however, refused to fight over such a thing, and Mordakhesh attacked him. Burl Gadra was a witness to this apparent vulnerability, and so Metreus asked him to step down as to not constantly oppose his rule, and eventually had to exile the bugbear. He expresses regret over this decision.
The party decides he is being truthful, and parts company with him to leave in a carriage once more. They find somebody already inside; Conlon immediately recognizes that it is none other than Mordakhesh in disguise, confirming the Collective’s suspicions that Mordakhesh may have already been in the city. He offers to show the party something that might change their minds about averting war, and takes them through a series of hidden passages below the Palace, terminating in a cavernous torus-shaped chamber, at the heart of which is a structure resembling a honeycomb. Zil’dejin has seen a structure like this before in the Sixth Palace of Vermishard. Though its purpose was unknown at the time, Mordakhesh reveals it at last: it consumes the souls of mortal sacrifices to power citywide magic, such as the Great Wall that now protects Metrol. According to him, it was Mordakhesh who revealed this truth to Metreus.
With this knowledge and the sudden, unexpected appearance of Paddy Grimm, who is astoundingly knowledgeable about rooms such as this one, they storm back into the throne room to confront Metreus again. He demands to see what evidence the party brings against him, and they go back down to the sacrificial chamber where, confronted with proof, he comes clean. He is taking prisoners, some from other nations he has treaties with and some from the Mournland, in order to power the shield. Metreus claims to feel extensive regret over this, and says that he “has not slept properly in weeks” for the guilt he feels. He wants to stop using sacrifices, but cannot until the threats facing him are subdued.
The Collective is mostly appalled by this, and demands that he stop using sacrifices, but Metreus refuses, insisting he will stop when Metrol is safe. The situation soon escalates to the point where Zil’dejin makes a strangely informal declaration of war, likely much to the delight of Mordakhesh. With this, the party gets back in the carriage, but Kaleth desynchronizes himself with time to slip out and return to the ritual chamber before it leaves. Midway through to the exit, Paddy also disembarks the carriage after shockingly deftly convincing the driver that he has to go back and get his wallet, which he has forgotten in the chamber. He joins Kaleth there.
Meanwhile, the rest of the party leaves the city and requests pickup by sending stone from Frances d’Lyrandar. Before long, the Phoenix Eclipse bursts out of Fernia with a blast of flame, having taken the shortcut in order to pick them up as soon as possible. They return to finish preparations on rallying the army.
Back in Metrol, Kaleth and Paddy set to work on disabling the sacrificial chambers providing power to the barrier so that the Royal Legion can get inside. They begin with the chamber they are already in, that of the Second Palace. Kaleth focuses on it and pulls apart the delicate weave of magic providing its operation, disabling one of the layers. He then uses magic to desynchronize them both with time, allowing them to move more or less undetected. They split up once they sneak back out of the Second Palace; Kaleth goes to the Seventh Palace, belonging to Umitia, Lady of Storms. Paddy instead goes to the Fifth Palace, belonging to Vorril, Lord of Earth. Kaleth again disables the ritual chamber with magic, while Paddy uses an elaborate explosive made of rum and rope to detonate the one in his own palace. The explosion rocks the palace, but he still manages to escape, as does Kaleth.
From there, Paddy goes to the Third Palace of Vermishard, belonging to Paol, Lord of Fire, while Kaleth goes to the Sixth Palace, belonging to Arvasin, Lord of Spirit. Kaleth has the perception of time slowing and stopping as he enters, and he confronts the Lord of Spirit who is already waiting for him in the ritual chamber. A few short words are exchanged before combat breaks out. Arvasin is a fierce combatant who injures Kaleth before the mage casts him through a portal to Fernia, banishing him there long enough to disable the ritual room. Paddy, back in the Third Palace, soaks the ritual chamber with flasks of water and uses an adventuring kit to hammer cracks in strategic locations and fills them with ball bearings so they cannot be resealed, sufficient to disable yet another chamber.
With two layers remaining, Paddy goes to the Fourth Palace of Vermishard, belonging to Elde, Magebred Lady of Wind, while Kaleth goes all the way over to the First Palace, belonging to Rave, Lord of Shadow. Kaleth again runs into difficulty as he navigates the dark chambers, fighting the silent soldiers of Rave and trying to stop them with time-summons and navigating around traps to finally disable the ritual room before teleporting out into mid-air and flying away. Paddy takes an easier tack, using words and the disguise of a Lhazaar ambassador to work his way into the Palace, where he seduces Elde, who still mourns the loss of her husband, Davros Elden. He uses this closeness to get near enough to the ritual chamber to disable it, finally clearing the way for the Legion and throwing the Magebred into a measure of disarray.
Dravago 13, 1001 YK
Paddy meets up with Kaleth, who has been laying low in the city. Kaleth uses magic to teleport them to the rest of the Collective’s current location.
Dravago 14, 1001 YK
The Royal Legion arrives at the walls of Metrol, where the Magebred have already prepared for the assault by positioning themselves along the walls with ranged weapons and spells at the ready. As the Legion marches forward to commence the siege and the Phoenix Eclipse takes position to be the primary siege engine (using the negative energy cannon), Rave — who has beat the army there with Umitia, thanks to the fast carriages — completes a spell to summon an entire army of Cyran ghosts. These incorporeal warriors cannot be harmed by mortal weapons, so it falls to the Warmages, commanded by Conlon, to deal with them. Coref, leading the 1st Infantry Regiment, engages the ghost with his army as long as he can to provide the 2nd Cavalry Regiment under Zil’dejin’s control an opportunity to reach the walls and set up siege ladders. Rilic, leading the 3rd Archer Regiment, provides fire support for the Phoenix Eclipse as it weathers the Magebred attacks.
With time, the Phoenix Eclipse manages to break a hole in the city wall, and quickly retreats to avoid destruction. Kaleth, who was commanding the attack, drops to the ground with his clone to aid the Warmages, who, in light of Coref and the 1st Regiment’s retreat, are now in close combat with the Cyran ghosts. The Magebred soldiers fall back into the city but are pursued and overrun by the 2nd Cavalry, and soon the 3rd Archers arrive to provide more barrages of ranged attacks while the Cavalry weaves around the remaining soldiers.
The mages manage to take out the Cyran ghosts and catch up with the cavalry, who now fight on their last legs. Narrowly, the Magebred are defeated, exposing the Emperor and his retinue of honor guards. Zil’dejin moves to meet him, followed by the other attending members of the Collective, while the last of the still-capable soldiers on their side engage with the honor guard. Though Metreus tries to settle the matter back into peace, both sovereigns are aware they have gone past that point, and a battle ensues. Zil’dejin fights Metreus more or less alone while the rest of the party keeps Arvasin busy. Despite the flurry of violence, the exchange is uncommonly amicable between Zil’dejin and Metreus with no obvious emotional aggression. Before the end of the fight, Arvasin is banished and Metreus is brought to the ground. Heavily wounded, he asks that he be allowed to die on his feet. Zil’dejin helps him up, and he wishes the dragonborn well in ruling the city and in ruling Eros before he is killed with a series of cuts across his body.
With this, Zil’dejin Ascends. Like Derli before him, he sees two paths before him: that of the Emperor, and that of the Soldier. He weighs these heavy options on the fire and ruin of the battlefield of Metrol.