The Hands that Move the World

Ascension VI: Mythic Warlock

Nymm 1, 1001 YK

A shadow drake messenger arrives for Conlon, telling him to return home to the Tribesmeet in Seren, where the surviving tribes are meeting to discuss what to do about the Son of Caiphon. It carries a sigil sequence for a teleportation circle, so Nimozaran sends him with several other party members to the sacred neutral ground of Tribesmeet. There, they meet with the five surviving tribes plus the two new tribes, the Shattered (consisting of survivors from tribes destroyed by the Son of Caiphon) and the Starborn (the Son of Caiphon’s new “tribe”).

Four plans are presented, including a direct attack, a petition to Kirrghanar, an infiltration of the Tower of Heaven to gain control over the Son’s god-dragon Khaiphonthar, and simple submission to the Son of Caiphon. Conlon, brought in as a sort of tiebreaker and the greatest possible weapon against the Son of Caiphon, refuses the last option, which causes the emissaries of the Starborn to attack with their dark magic. They are fought back and Conlon chooses the option to infiltrate the tower. Using a description of the tower and a partial sigil sequence gleaned from interrogating the emissaries’ corpses, they teleport away while Derli starts a duel with Tethris, who has arrived at the Tribesmeet looking for him.

In the Tower of Heaven, the Son’s stronghold, they pass by a huge worm-like creature that allows them to pass up to a chamber where the Son of Caiphon watches the stars. He explains that he is simply trying to unite the Seren tribes through the only way they will understand: violence. He wishes to free them from the dragons they worship and give them a foothold in the mainland, as well as to use this new army to gain knowledge the dragons are guarding on how to free himself, and Conlon, from their star pacts. Conlon’s son Morgue Conlonnar is, he says, he perfectly safe, and was just taken to draw out Conlon. He wants Conlon’s aid in his campaign, which Conlon initially refuses, but he soon changes his mind when the Son agrees to treat him as an equal partner and respect his wishes that the Seren tribes not be made into mind-controlled thralls.

Herra Nelrannir, the dracolexi sorceress that accompanied them there, is outraged and frees Khaiphonthar from the Son’s control. The party fights with the dragon until the Son can regain control, at which point Conlon awakens, and the two begin their campaign to unite the Seren tribes and attack the dragons on the mainland.

Main Characters: Zil’dejin Firebane, Derli d’Kundarak, Conlon Ostrennar, Kaleth, Indicus


Nymm 1, 1001 YK

About a week following the defeat of the Thanatotic titan Komios, Nimozaran the Green finds Conlon in the Eclipse Keep to inform him that the small task force of students he assigned to help locate his son recovered a messenger from Seren that had gone off-course. He leads Conlon to the library, where Kaleth and Indicus are already present. Nimozaran removes a cloth covering on what looks to be a bird cage, revealing a tiny shadow drake underneath. When prompted, it repeats a slightly garbled message in Argon, informing Conlon that a “Tribesmeet” is about to be convened in an ancient sacred meeting ground, and his presence is requested. Conlon recognizes markings on the shadow drake to correspond to the Black Shield, a tribe of barbarians that worship Baalondorus. The Black Shield uses drakes like this, which are bred to be loyal but of stunted intelligence, as long-range messengers. The Tribesmeet is intended to solve the problem of the Son of Caiphon that has been plaguing their home.

Conlon decides that he will go to the Tribesmeet. He asks for assistance from the Eclipse Collective, and Nimozaran offers to use the sigil sequence written in the scroll carried by the drake to teleport them to the Tribesmeet. Because the shadow drake was found after having gone off-course, time is of the essence, and so they decide on six hours to prepare themselves for departure. Nimozaran goes to take a nap while Kaleth readies his spells and his time-clone, Indicus looks through the library for useful lore, and Conlon attempts to commune with Eltimar (though is unsuccessful). Derli pays a visit to Lavrenti, who has recovered from unconsciousness and swears an oath of loyalty to the paladin as his squire. Zil’dejin begins to plan out a new series of tenements for the poor in Grey Titan’s Hold.

When six hours have passed, they gather in the auditorium, stand upon the teleportation circle on the stage, and are teleported by Nimozaran to their destination. They arrive late at night in the middle of what appears to be a cluster of different campsites, on top of a wooden platform on which is inscribed the teleportation circle. The tents are made of hide and bone, and all inhabitants appear to be human with a few drakes mixed in. A few of the Seren humans are drawn by their sudden appearance. In particular, they are approached by Korad Kalannar, the High Dragonspeaker of the Emerald Marauders tribe. He informs them of the situation: only five tribes of the original thirty are known to still stand in Seren after the Son of Caiphon’s conquests to this point. Of these five remaining tribes, four are in attendance, excluding the World Eaters who worship Tavarthax the Desecrated and utterly refuse cooperation with any other tribe. In addition to these four, two new tribes, the Shattered — composed of remnants of tribes destroyed by the Son of Caiphon — and the Starborn — the Son of Caiphon’s tribe, composed of assimilated members from other tribes — will be in attendance, which Conlon finds shocking.

They have apparently been waiting for Conlon to arrive, as the remaining civil tribes see him as the greatest possible weapon they might use against the Son of Caiphon. Now that he is present, the Tribesmeet is called fully to order. While Korad goes to find the other representatives, the warlord of the Shattered, takes Conlon aside and tells him that the Tribesmeet is going to be fruitless. He wants Conlon to back his plan, which is to gather all the remaining tribes and lead a full assault against the Starborn while they are relatively vulnerable. Conlon agrees with his sentiment, but cannot continue the discussion as the other representatives arrive. They gather around a table in the same makeshift structure containing the teleportation circle.

Aside from those he has already met, there are representatives from the Black Shield and the Frostblades, and old man and an old woman, respectively. For the Burning Fangs, Herra Nelrannir is in attendance. There are essentially four solutions presented to the Starborn’s conquests:

  1. Vilak Selnar’s plan, involving gathering all the tribes and attacking the Starborn directly while they are in battle with the World Eaters.
  2. Korad Kalannar’s plan, involving exchanging an ancient token of favour with Kirrghanar for aid against the Starborn. This is the plan backed the by Black Shield.
  3. Herra Nelrannir’s plan, involving using her unique magical talents as a “dracolexi” to gain command over the Son of Caiphon’s god-dragon Khaiphonthar.
  4. The Son of Caiphon’s emissaries suggestion to simply surrender, allowing the remaining tribes to control the smallest island in Seren, under the condition that they offer new soldiers to the Starborn periodically and that they are never permitted to leave. This plan is backed by the Frostblades, who seem to desire only an end to the destruction.

None of these plans sit well with each other, and all representatives presenting a solution refuse to work with one another. Conlon weighs each option carefully, with the exception of the emissaries of Caiphon, whom he finds ridiculous and repugnant. Discussions continue for a long time until finally Conlon adamantly rejects the emissaries and their proposal, giving an inspiring speech to the other barbarians of Seren. In response, the emissaries of Caiphon choose to reveal the Son of Caiphon’s power to the disbelieving Eclipse Collective. A number of stars in the sky appear to begin falling to Eberron, and it soon becomes apparent that they were not stars at all. They are clusters of reflective white carapaces, belonging to dozens of lunarma, floating crab-like creatures from the stars. They set upon the barbarians while the emissaries shift to reveal grotesque mutations, and attack the party with magic of star warlocks.

The party fights and kills the emissaries and several of the lunarma. The barbarians finish off the monsters they were fighting, but it appears there were considerable casualties. The representatives (sans the emissaries of Caiphon) return to the meeting ground and are outraged that the Son of Caiphon would violate the sacred neutral ground that is the Tribesmeet. Conlon is again put into the position of tiebreaker between the different plans, and discusses it with the party for a moment. Kaleth suggests Herra’s plan is the best, as exploiting a weakness of the Son of Caiphon is likely the most dependable approach. Indicus thinks that a direct strike is best, which Derli seems to agree to. Zil’dejin appears undecided but cautions Conlon against basing his decision on the unproven powers claimed by Herra. Conlon initially chooses to take Korad’s plan, but reconsiders when Herra offers to teach him the secrets of her dragon magic.

They decide to go directly to the Tower of Heaven, the Son of Caiphon’s stronghold. It lies across the water and up into the Great Barrier, the mountain range separating Seren territory from the dragons on the mainland of Argonnessen. Teleportation seems the quickest if most dangerous operation, which all but Zil’dejin and Derli are in favour of, as they instead suggest going back to the keep to get the Phoenix Eclipse and flying back. The others decide to stay with teleporting directly to the tower, and so Conlon uses his magic to speak with one of the dead emissaries to get a vague description of their destination. He then has the other emissary (who was turned into a zombie by Conlon’s magic during the battle) kill itself so he can use the same magic on its corpse, and is able to extract enough information to construct a partial sigil sequence for a teleportation circle at their destination. It is not enough to guarantee safety, but it is sufficient to improve their odds.

Derli and Zil’dejin are begrudgingly convinced to join the others in the teleportation attempt. Kaleth works on transporting them, and after several mishaps seems poised to succeed, when Tethris sets foot on the meeting ground, looking to challenge Derli. Derli runs out of the teleportation area at the last minute just as the others are whisked away to their destination to meet Tethris in battle.

The other members of the Eclipse Collective, with Herra Nelrannir, arrive on the second-to-top floor of the Tower of Heaven, where a huge, tentacled worm-like creature called a neothelid obstructs their path. When they appear, it moves to clear the way for them, leaving a trail of slime in its wake. Conlon uses telepathy to speak with it and learns that its “master” wishes for them to to meet with him. They cautiously walk past it and ascend the stairs to a large, open chamber with only a silver throne and a glass ceiling that seems to magnify the light of the stars above.

Sitting in the throne is the Son of Caiphon, who is being fawned over by various humans. Laying down against the wall is Khaiphonthar. The Son welcomes the Eclipse Collective to his sanctuary, and explains that he has been sincerely hoping that Conlon would come to the tower.

He explains that all of his conquests have simply been to unite all of the tribes of Seren under one banner, using the only language the barbarians understand: brutal force. He wishes for nothing more than freedom: freedom for the barbarians from their dragon-gods, and freedom for him from the star entity he has made a pact with. The Son of Caiphon claims that the dragons of Argonnessen have knowledge that he can use to free himself and Conlon from the star entities Caiphon and Eltimar, respectively, but they refuse to share it in the way typical of dragons. He proposes to lead an army of all the tribes of Seren against the dragons, freeing them from their bonds to the dragons and allowing Conlon and the Son to break free of their pacts. He wants nothing more than for Conlon to join him as an equal partner in this endeavour.

“The star beings are unknowable by mortals,” Conlon scoffs.

“No. That is a myth, created by the entities themselves,” replies the Son of Caiphon. “In my two hundred years, I have learned enough to draw back their curtain.”

“Even if that is true, you are still an evil man. It is not right to make all of Seren into thralls for our own selfish ends.”

“Would you have done differently, if you were in my position?”

“Before I had met you, I would have done the same. The people of Seren should seek freedom of their own will, not because we force them to.”

The Son says that this was the most efficient way to do what he is trying to do, but asserts that if Conlon were to join him, they could free the Seren barbarians of their mind control and convince them to pursue their cause of their own free will. It would be difficult, he says, but the value added by Conlon joining him as a partner would more than make up for it. Conlon then demands to know where his son has been taken, and the Son of Caiphon explains that he is in one of the lower levels of the tower, learning more about the nature of the star entities from the Son of Caiphon’s own writings. He says that he never enthralled Morgue, only that he pretended to do so to draw in Conlon. He is more than happy to release the boy into Conlon’s custody.

“I still refuse,” Conlon says.

“But you’re conflicted about that response.”

“I am. Very conflicted.”

The Son of Caiphon turns to ask the rest of the party what they think, first summoning Derli to their position so that he can weigh in as well. Back where Derli is clashing with Tethris, a starry void opens up as his horse, Ruin, is charging the Brass Knight. He plows into the void and ends up in the tower. The party is similarly divided on whether to support the Son of Caiphon’s campaign, but seems to lean towards Conlon joining him. Finally, Conlon reconsiders, and agrees to join with him, much to the outrage of Herra Nelrannir. She claims that this is just part of the Son’s trickery, and that he is only interested in saving himself. The party refuses to listen to her at this point, so she begins shouting out a series of complex syllables that sound vaguely similar to Draconic to Zil’dejin’s ears.

Realizing that she is attempting to gain control over Khaiphonthar, Kaleth uses magic to transform her into a small rabbit, but he is too late; she has already finished commanding Khaiphonthar to release himself of the Son’s control, and the dragon unfurls, preparing to seek revenge. The dragon breathes deep and exhales a cone of nothingness, sucking all air out of the area where the throne stood moments before the party scatters upwards using a combination of magic and flight capabilities.

Conlon asks if it is possible for the Son of Caiphon to regain control. He says that it is, but he will need time, and the party will need to protect him and keep Khaiphonthar at bay while he does so. Kaleth shields him in spherical wall of force as he hovers in the air, while the others engage the dragon in combat. Zil’dejin’s slayer sword is very effective against the dragon, who is otherwise resilient against physical harm, but his dark gaze causes incapacitating confusion in those the dragon gazes at, and his void and cold breath weapons prove very dangerous in the enclosed space. Midway through the battle, Conlon is changed into a void dragon himself by Kaleth’s magic, and fights the dragon on equal footing.

At a turning point, Kaleth uses magic and entraps the dragon in a temporary maze, allowing the Son of Caiphon to complete his spell. When the dragon escapes the maze, the Son regains control over it. Derli passes out from his collapsed lungs brought on by the dragon’s void breath, but is restored to relative health and consciousness. The Eclipse Collective is given the rabbit that was Herra Nelrannir to take care of her and remove her from the Son’s presence so that she does not pose a further threat. The Son and Conlon seal their agreement, and Conlon undergoes his Awakening.

The Son reminds the others of the Eclipse Collective that the teleporation circle of the tower is downstairs, and asks that they leave them so that they can begin their campaign.

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Manannan

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