The Hands that Move the World

Ascension IV: Mythic Khan

Dravago 17, 1001 YK

The party returns to Eros from Aundair, where Kaleth works with the Dragon Prophet to discover his Prophecy fragment. It is revealed to involve restoring the Chronocracy from its current state outside of time. Derli meets with Ser Tabin Hamson, and Rilic hosts a raucous party in his own honour.

Dravago 18, 1001 YK

Kaleth radically alters time with magic to put the spell necessary to enter the Temporal Prime into his spellbook (a wish spell). In doing so, he erases all other spells in his spellbook and weakens himself for two days.

Dravago 20, 1001 YK

Gongrack returns with the wings of a chaos roc from Kythri. He begins work with Derli on making a bow out of these wings. Kaleth recovers and regains his spells using his magic hourglass, and the party goes to the watchtower south of the Eclipse Keep in Breland, where a slipgate is open. This frees a number of monsters from the demiplane of time that end up killing Gongrack, aging him to the point of being dust. Using Durzu Vatan’s lamp, he wishes to retain power over his soul, and ends up a ghost that haunts the tower.

The party heads into the slipgate, entering the Temporal Prime. While following Kaleth’s magic to the Chronocracy, they are attacked by temporal stalkers (basically time-disjointed ghosts), and Kaleth attempts to tame a native creature to use as a mount. He is accidentally thrown into Eberron’s past (possibly an alternate past) in the attempt, where he again radically alters time to give himself more spell components. In so doing he is weakened and becomes unable to use that spell ever again, but gains the components to open a new slipgate. He is followed by the most famous arena fighter of the era, a fire genasi named Indicus, who seeks revenge on the Chronocracy for trapping him with magic and selling him into slavery, which he has only now escaped by entering the slipgate.

They find the Chronocracy by exiting the flow of time on the Temporal Prime. Everyone in the city, save a few select individuals, are completely stuck in time loops. At the center of the city, which has the shortest loops and is perpetually in a state of catastrophe at the coming of the Phane, they find Second Grand Magister Olath outside of the Midnight Dome, a symbolic palace. He tells the party about the Overlord, who appeared when the city was threatened to take it out of time and save it. He is inside the Midnight Dome, and can help the party get in using magic, but he requires spell components from the First Grand Magister.

They visit the First Grand Magister’s tower. He is stuck in a loop of about ten seconds, and it is very difficult to get the information, but they discover they need special diamond dust. They have the diamond, and after a few attempts by Derli and Indicus, the diamond is crushed into powder. The Second Grand Magister opens the way to the midnight dome where the Overlord has created the “Time Cube” to keep the Chronocracy out of time. The Overlord is revealed to be a version of Kaleth from an alternate timeline where he and the Eclipse Collective attempted to defeat the Phane using its weakness (not elaborated on), failed, and enacted an alternate plan whereby he and the other surviving arcane spellcasters of the Eclipse Collective eradicated arcane magic.

He refuses to yield on restoring the Chronocracy, so he fights the Collective with his clone and temporal dogs (and with surprising politeness). He is defeated, but before he can be killed throws himself through a time vortex. Kaleth and Derli shatter the Time Cube and stabilize its core, restoring the Chronocracy to time.

Main Characters: Derli d’Kundarak, Rilic Balendal, Kaleth, Gongrack, Indicus


Dravago 17, 1001 YK

On the day following Rilic’s ascension, the Collective returns to Grey Titan’s Hold with Rilic’s title intact. Kaleth begins working with the Dragon Prophet to discover the location of his fragment of the Prophecy, and with their combined research they find the appropriate passage in the patterns made by the falling sand in his hourglass. Extensive study of this leads to a rough translation:

When the Time-lost Khan banishes the Fracturer and restores his ancient home, an Awakening will take place.

While this investigation is going on, Rilic throws a massive party in his own honour. Derli visits the Cathedral of Dol Dorn to speak with Ser Tabin Hamson, whom he finds in quiet reflection in one of the smaller chapels. She speaks with him, expressing her disappointment but acknowledging that Derli is fallible. She finds it regrettable that the former Hammer of Dol Dorn, now the Hammer of St. Derli, idolizes him so much, but does not resign from her position or back down in any way, believing that, now more than ever, the Hammer needs a presence with strong faith. Before he leaves to join Rilic’s celebrations, he asks Ser Hamson to investigate the cost of appending cavalry to the Hammer.

Dravago 18, 1001 YK

In the morning, Gongrack reappears, returning at last from Kythri with the remains of the quarry he was hunting: the wings of a chaos roc, which he intends to turn into a bow. Kaleth consults with Nimozaran the Green, and after examining the complete lack of physical evidence for the Chronocracy’s existence despite written accounts to the contrary, they settle on the idea that the ancient city-state hadn’t been eradicated, but had instead been removed from time in some way. They believe it is drifting somewhere in the Temporal Prime, the “demiplane” of time. Because the Temporal Prime is not a real plane, it cannot be accessed by way of normal planar travel and must instead be reached through chronomancy, using a type of transportation called “slipgates.”

Kaleth does not have this spell in his spellbook, but decides to radically alter time so that he does. This is his equivalent of the wish spell — bending the past until it suits some quality he wants in the present. After consulting with some of the members of the Eclipse Collective he settles on a precise plan to place the spell in the book, and performs it in the Eclipse Keep’s auditorium in front of a small audience. An error in judgment leads to a solution to his problem, but the creation of a new one: the spell is in his spellbook, but every other spell is gone. Additionally, the casting of the spell to alter time so drastically has weakened Kaleth, forcing him to take the next two days for rest in order to recover.

Dravago 20, 1001 YK

In the two days following Kaleth’s attempt at learning to create a slipgate, Derli and Gongrack have teamed up to start working on a bow from the chaos roc materials. Kaleth, meanwhile, has used his magic hourglass to gaze back in time at himself reading his own spellbook, allowing him to re-transcribe his spells. Once Kaleth has recovered, he gathers the available members of the Eclipse Collective, including Rilic, Derli, and Gongrack, and the four visit the ruined watchtower to the south of the Eclipse Keep in Breland, last visited when the Collective confronted the balor possessing Derli. Here, Kaleth opens a slipgate after failing on the first attempt, creating a small rift to the Temporal Prime. As soon as he completes the effort, several natives of the plane emerge, including a number of time dimensionals and three temporal crawlers (which strongly resemble spiders, to Derli’s horror). These entities are hostile and block the way through to the slipgate, so the party engages them in combat.

The temporal crawlers’ unique ability to cast time-slowing webs over the party, coupled with the time dimensionals’ tendency to multiply themselves across dimensions make the fight very difficult. Even worse, the dimensionals’ touch forces cell death, which is irreparable by natural means. Rilic does particularly well in the fighting, able to avoid or clear himself of most of the time-slowing webs and respond by use of his wand of lightning bolts, but not all fare so well. Derli is driven unconscious by their enemies before long despite a strong early display, and Gongrack is surrounded by time dimensionals and aged to the point of falling apart into dust, ending his life forever. As his last act, he uses the lamp he has been carrying to summon Durzu Vatan and enact a skewed wish to ensure that he keeps his soul on death. He is granted this in the form of becoming a ghost that haunts the tower.

Durzu watches as the party fends off the last of the enemies. Kaleth’s time-clone triggers his contingency, turning into a T. rex, and manages to complete the fight with the rest of the party despite nearly being killed in the combat. He aids the party by bringing Derli back to full condition by reversing time a short ways, healing him of his cell death. The remaining members then enter the slipgate, not wanting to run the risk of it collapsing, which would force them to open a new one to potentially reveal more enemies.

The four enter the slipgate, passing into the Temporal Prime. The pseudo-reality takes the form of an apparently endless network of tunnels crafted of some sort of crystal, filled with a viscous, breathable mist-smoke that flows constantly throughout. They float along the flow, seeing themselves reflected in the crystal through countless possible realities. Kaleth focuses on his hourglass, manifesting a vision of a silvery cord — his own life line. They attempt to follow this through the Temporal Prime to locate the Chronocracy.

After about a subjective hour of drifting, Derli and Rilic begin to have the sense of being watched, or being followed. Rilic begins to suspect they might be tailed by “time ghosts”: the storied remains of those time travelers who become lost in the Temporal Prime, becoming shadows of their own timelines. It is not long before he is revealed to be right, when four of these ghosts, called “temporal stalkers” by chronomancers, appear as if from nowhere. They appear to be composed entirely of the mist-smoke, condensed down into a near-solid form. Flashes of silver light seem to pulse from within their forms, and twin red glows replace their eyes. As one moves, a glimpse of its physical body can sometimes be seen through a haze of mist, although this may only be an illusion of some sort.

They decide to fight the temporal stalkers, who seem capable of moving through the Temporal Prime much faster than the party. Aside from revealing the time-stealing and paradox-inducing nature of the stalkers’ touch, the battle makes clear another property of the Temporal Prime: the flow of mist-smoke represents the flow of time itself, and actively moving downstream or upstream ages or de-ages the individual, respectively. The fight is stacked against the party at first, but Derli swings the odds in their favour by advantage of a drifting shard of compressed time identified by Rilic. Smashing it, he pauses time in their immediate vicinity, and between himself and Rilic they manage to destroy the temporal stalkers. Kaleth-clone’s last bits of time are eaten away by the temporal stalkers, and he is lost in the struggle.

Following this, the three present members of the Eclipse Collective proceed onward, taking care to only follow the flow. Each member has been aged by the battle to some extent. After another hour or two of subjective time, they run across a huge manta ray-like creature drifting in the opposite direction: Kaleth identifies it as a temporal glider, normally a peaceful species, occasionally used by powerful Chronocrats as a mount. He decides to try and tame it for his own use, which Rilic is adamantly opposed to and Derli is on the fence about. Kaleth recalls the basics of taming a temporal glider: mount its back and apply non-lethal force while strongly focusing on one’s intentions. As soon as Kaleth is on its back, however, it turns hostile, repeatedly slamming its body into Derli with heavy force. Rilic finally decides to become involved if only to expedite the process, and paralyzes the beast. Kaleth comes close to putting it into submission before it recovers from paralysis and glides into an actual timeline, at which point Kaleth falls off its back.

He slows his fall with magic and hits the ground. He appears to be either on a coast or on an island, and is certainly in Eberron. A city with strange architecture he does not recognize is in the distance. Kaleth considers his position, and realizes he must open a new slipgate if he wants to get back into the Temporal Prime, but he lacks any more of the essential spell component: diamonds that have spent at least a subjective day in the Temporal Prime. First, he attempts to teleport back to Grey Titan’s Hold, but is unable to do so, realizing that in this timeline the city does not exist. He concludes he is probably in the distant past of Eberron. Seeing an approaching caravan of some sort on the road, he realizes he must act quickly, and again uses magic to enact a major shift in time, providing him with a number of such diamonds in something resembling sprue. However, the effect is damaging not only to his body, but to his connection to the weave itself; the spell is shut out of his mind forever, making it impossible to so dramatically alter time ever again.

Regardless, he has acquired the components, and successfully creates a slipgate, passing through it again. One individual on the passing caravan, a famous fire genasi arena fighter named Indicus, takes the opportunity to jump through the slipgate as well. As the two emerge into the Temporal Prime where Derli and Rilic are discussing plans to retrieve Kaleth, and the slipgate collapses, Indicus reveals that despite his apparently incredible combat prowess and talent with magic, he was a slave in his time, imprisoned with magic and sold by a Chronocrat called the Prime Jester to slave-owners in the warring city-states of Sarlona. Their caravan was on their way to a city called Corvagura, famed for its sorcerer-kings (at this time, Drokkroth “the Dreambreaker”), to do battle with their champion. This puts his time of origin at around -600 YK; about 1,600 years ago.

Kaleth is quick to explain the difference between time mages and chronomancers, explaining that he was not part of the group that captured and sold Indicus, though he is seeking the city-state. Indicus seems satisfied with this, and keen on revenge (as well as excited for freedom) he accompanies the party into the Temporal Prime. Kaleth abandons his notions of taming a temporal glider and re-visualizes his life line, allowing the party to follow through without further incident.

They finally find the terminus of the life line: a huge crack in the crystal wall. Throwing caution to the wind, the four of them file through it, landing on coarse, stark white sand beneath a completely clear blue sky, devoid of cloud or sun. The fracture in time is still visible behind them, but the tunnels are nowhere to be seen. The shining domes of the Chronocracy loom a short distance before them, and after discussing the situation for a short while, they proceed towards it.

They are greeted at the city-state’s only gate by a guard of some sort, who is convinced by Kaleth to let them through. The door appears to vanish by use of the inherent time magic, so the party passes through, but it resets before Rilic can pass inside. The guard greets him again as though he has not met Rilic before, and he and Kaleth again convince him to open the door. It soon becomes apparent that the guard is looping in time over the span of a few minutes, and further, that nearly all occupants of the city are in similar loops, though over different spans of time.

The first stop in investigating the Chronocracy’s current state is visiting the city’s central hub, surrounding the “Midnight Dome,” a mostly-symbolic dome at the dead centre that represents a palace (but isn’t technically one). Here, the clear blue sky is broken by a massive black tear, and all the people here are on a loop of only a second or so, perpetually running in place and screaming. While here, they meet the Second Grand Magister Olath, who is exempt from the time looping. He explains that the city was in the midst of catastrophe with the appearance of the Phane, but an individual called the Overlord arrived to collapse all possible alternate Chronocracies into one place and throw the city-state out of time. He dwells within the Midnight Dome, but nobody has ever seen him. Olath takes orders by telepathy, mostly to carry out research on the Phane and on the Chronocracy’s situation. The Overlord appears to have the power to exempt a limited number of Chronocrats from the looping, which is normally used for research purposes. He keeps close control over the libraries and other sources of information. Kaleth also learns that his favourite pleasure dome, the Eleventh Dome (supposedly featuring hermaphrodites), is inaccessible among the strange time anomalies that haunt the Chronocracy here.

In an effort to speak with the Overlord and to find out more, Kaleth visits his office in the Spire of Khans, a large tower where the Khans of the Chronocracy worked and met. He encounters Rellis, the Fifth Khan, whose loop is the span of about two days. Rellis is convinced to help them restore the Chronocracy. He goes with them back to the center of the city, where they meet again with Olath, and threaten and cajole him into admitting that he does know how to get into the Midnight Dome. As it happens, the symbolic palace is basically just a huge dome of solid rock, intended to be hollowed out in the distant future. The Overlord appears to have created an overlapping reality where the Midnight Dome is a real structure, and a special ritual is needed to access this. Olath knows how to perform the spell, but the First Grand Magister has the material components required.

To get these components, they visit another tower, this one much nearer, belonging to the Magisters. The First Grand Magister, however, is on a loop of only about ten seconds. He is stuck writing in some sort of ledger. Because he resets every ten seconds, it proves difficult and frustrating to get much information from him, but it is soon revealed that paperwork and bureaucracy is required to obtain the material components. Kaleth seems happy with this, but because it is essentially impossible in this state Rilic and Derli work together to get the components: ground diamond that has spent at least one subjective day in the Temporal Prime. Unfortunately, the diamond, as a possession of the First Grand Magister, resets on the same loop.

Irritated, Derli takes one of Kaleth’s diamonds and tries crushing it in his hands, completely failing to do so. Indicus tries and fails just the same, though his strength is certainly a match for Derli’s. Derli tries once more, now genuinely angry, and crushes the diamond, which is somewhat to Kaleth’s disappointment. Still, they have acquired the necessary material component, and revisit the Midnight Dome. Under duress and the promise of a fight for the ages between Indicus and Derli, Olath opens the Dome, allowing them to pass inside. Rellis decides to remain with Olath on the outside.

Within, the dome is light with a dim blue light. The ceiling displays a breathtaking celestial scene, showing centuries of stars being born and dying in the space of seconds. A massive blue cube floats near the ceiling, rotating gently and shedding the only light besides that provided by the stars. On a golden throne sitting atop a raised dais, two finely-robed individuals sit. At their feet are three stocky temporal dogs, who are slightly asynchronous with the flow of time.

One of the two robed figures stands as the Collective (plus Indicus) approaches, and introduces himself as the Overlord. He reveals that he removed the Chronocracy from the flow of time to protect it from the Phane, as the Second Grand Magister said, and that he is a very powerful Chronomancer from his own timeline. In this timeline, he says, the Phane was defeated, but at tremendous cost. He knows how a Phane could possibly defeated, but according to him, this approach failed completely, and all his closest friends and companions were destroyed in the attempt. He draws back his hood to reveal that he is, in fact, an alternate timeline version of Kaleth, looking appropriately more sinister for a darkest timeline scenario.

Though he does not reveal the weakness his version of the Eclipse Collective discovered in the Phane, he reveals that the alternate plan — once the first one failed — was Iadoes Lunaformer’s, who was still alive concurrent to Kaleth in that timeline. Together with the other surviving arcane spellcasters of the Eclipse Collective, including Typhus Phendrakken and Cecil Morris Duran (also still alive in this timeline), he enacted a terrible ritual that disrupted the Weave of magic, effectively killing arcane magic and preventing the Phane from existing. According to the Overlord, the entire world was threatened by the abomination, and it was the only recourse they felt they had, though he regrets it deeply. After this, he apparently was not ready to give up his magic, and so he fled to the Temporal Prime before the world was cut off from magic forever.

He enters a bit of a stalemate in the conversation with Kaleth. The Overlord claims to know all too well the threat posed by the Phane, and refuses to subject the Chronocracy to it, but Kaleth insists that this strange looping existence is not a real one. The matter turns to a fight very soon as Derli loses patience, but Kaleth and the Overlord keep things very civil, complimenting each other on their use of magic and providing recommendations for spells to use against each others’ opponents. The first part of the fight sees the temporal dogs leaping to defend the Overlord and his time-clone, blocking off Derli and Indicus at the foot of the stairs to the throne. The Overlord proves as adept with time magic as Kaleth is, and manages to lock Derli and Indicus in time-cages of a sort. Perhaps realizing his magic is evenly matched by the Overlord and doubled by the Overlord’s clone, Kaleth summons an anti-magic field around himself instead of using spells of his own. He pushes forward, deactivating the magic trapping Derli and Indicus, who overrun the dogs and provide a clear path to the Overlord. Subjected to the anti-magic field, the Overlord’s time-clone is removed from existence, and the Overlord himself cannot use magic. Kaleth can’t either, but unlike the Overlord he is aided by two powerhouses in the form of Derli and Indicus, who rush forward to attack. Kaleth ends up dropping the field to allow Derli to be aided by magic in his assault, and soon, the Overlord is brought to his knees.

This triggers his contingency spell, which opens up a time vortex: an erratic, unpredictable tunnel through the Temporal Prime. He throws himself into it, telling Kaleth they will meet again and wishing him luck in what he believes is a failed endeavour. Kaleth considers following him through, but instead just closes the vortex. The four party members then examine the cube in the center of the room — called a Time Cube by the Overlord — which is supposed to be the main instrument keeping the Chronocracy out of the flow of time. They manage to shatter the shell by using opposing forms of time magic simultaneously (Derli slowing the flow of time with his own magic, and Kaleth accelerating it with his), exposing the core. Kaleth manages to stabilize the core, deactivating its effects but condensing it down to its original form: an almost perfectly clear pale blue gemstone of some sort, shaped like a sphere about the size of his head.

As soon as this is done, the time condensation immediately begins to unravel as the timelines begin to restore themselves around the party.

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Manannan

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