Zarantyr 22, 1001 YK
The Eclipse Collective discusses their situation with each other and with Nimozaran the Green. Deciding that it is not worth the risk of deferring the problems in Q’barra and having Zil’kavak Firebane lead an army to genocide, they board the Phoenix Eclipse and fly towards Castle Garodya.
Zarantyr 23, 1001 YK
At the castle, Zil’kavak has reunited with his second son Gaviir, and they are discussing strategy. Apparently, the Firebane clan, along with a number of other clans that had been subject to the Poison Dusk, are rallying, and seem to be mobilizing to attack Castle Garodya. The party mentions their plan to infiltrate Haka’torvhak and kill Rhashaak. Zil’kavak agrees to delay any rash action for the time being, but notes he can’t hold forever. Before they leave, he tells them that in the last attempt to defeat Rhashaak it was revealed that the dragon could not be killed by normal means, and that the true means may be hidden in Haka’torvhak somewhere.
The party goes to Ka’rhashan, where they take disguises to infiltrate the city. They enlist the help of an elder dragonborn (in line to be the next elder of the Flamebrow clan before Harkaj‘s usurpation) and go through the portal hidden beneath the old citadel. They arrive in a warehouse which leads to the Hall of Commerce in Haka’torvhak, where three merchants not bearing the Mark of Poison are set up. They are Tamztur, Yrkhetep, and Ozorr, there for different reasons. Tamztur is seeking a golden book called the “Tome of Leadership and Courage,” while Yrkhetep is trading in anything and Ozorr just wants to convicne Yrkhetep to let him into “a better marketplace.”
Wanting information from Yrkhetep, the party goes to the Tower of Night in the ancient city, where some old weapons with strong enchantments are said to be kept. Soon after they enter, Marlamin is driven out by magic fear, and Rilic and Balendal are separated from the others, ending up in a prison cell beneath the tower. Derli passes out from grief and drink, and Conlon ascends the tower alone. Rilic and Balendal pass a number of strange tribulations at the hands of some cloaked figures claiming to be part of a “collective consciousness,” culminating in some serious injuries, mention of the Tower of Night being used to “unlock the power of the sun,” and Iadoes contracting amnesia after witnessing some terrible cosmic secret.
Conlon retrieves a staff and the weapons (a glaive and a scimitar) from the top floor and reunites with Rilic and Balendal, and the passed-out Derli. Meanwhile, Marlamin tries to prove himself to some black-scaled half-dragon captors by unsealing the Temple to the Fiend Lords in the southwest part of the city. He does so, but also frees a general of Masvirik, the Cold Sun which strikes him down as he tries to flee.
Zarantyr 22, 1001 YK
The party converses briefly among themselves and with Nimozaran the Green to determine their next course of action. After deciding that Zil’kavak Firebane will likely spearhead a genocidal operation if they are not there to follow up on their plan of uprooting the Poison Dusk corruption at its source, they choose to go back to Q’barra, intent on entering Haka’torvhak and defeating Rhashaak. They board the Phoenix Eclipse in the cave beneath where the Eclipse Keep once stood, and fly off towards Castle Garodya.
Zarantyr 23, 1001 YK
Arriving at Castle Garodya, the party is taken by escort to meet with Zil’kavak, who has apparently reunited with his second son Gaviir Firebane and is sharing a drink with him over a map of some kind. As this is the fourth day since the Eclipse Collective last left Q’barra, there have been some new developments in the situation unfolding. The Firebane Clan, suffering the effects of the Poison Dusk, has become more aggressive, and worse, other clans that succumbed to the same corruption have appeared from the jungle. Many of these were thought to have been long defeated once the Mark of Poison first appeared among them, but they have evidently returned. Zil’kavak fears they are about to mount an assault.
The party reveals their plan to go through the hidden portal beneath Ka’rhashan to enter Haka’torvhak and defeat Rhashaak. Zil’kavak informs them that Rhashaak has been defeated before, but it took an entire army, and the dragonborn learned that Rhashaak cannot be defeated by normal means. He does not know the real means, but he suspects it may be in Haka’torvhak somewhere. Before the party leaves, he asks that Zil’dejin stay to help in the defense against the Poison Dusk assault. The party agrees, and goes to Ka’rhashan.
At the city, they are questioned by some wyvern-riding dragonborn of the Flamebrow clan, and told not to enter the city. When they have left, Iadoes Lunaformer uses magic to disguise the party as red-scaled dragonborn, and with Marlamin’s help, they teleport inside the walls. There is a brief altercation when they are caught by two Flamebrow dragonborn who quickly discover they cannot speak Draconic, but Iadoes freezes them with magic and the party continues on.
They reach the citadel made of bronze and volcanic glass that they last visited when fighting Harkaj Flamebrow. The entrance is guarded, but Marlamin Tarmikos belts forth an intimidating roar that, while drawing a lot of attention, prompts the dragonborn to let them pass inside. There is an elder dragonborn within who speaks Common, and reveals that he can see through their illusion, but he will not tell anyone else of their deception. He says that he was to be the next elder of the Flamebrow clan before Harkaj killed the previous elder and usurped control, and that he hopes the party will succeed in their current task. Harkaj, it seems, has made a deal with Rhashaak, and now bears the Mark of Poison himself, hoping to exact revenge on Zil’dejin and the entire Firebane clan for his earlier defeat.
The elder dragonborn leads the party down to the old portal, which had been sealed off, but apparently the rubble blocking the gateway has been recently cleared. The party follows through and finds themselves in a musty cellar of some kind, filled with sealed urns and jars. They ascend the stairs to enter into a very old warehouse made of volcanic glass, bronze, and some kind of jade-like stone, vaguely resembling the citadel in Ka’rhashan’s heart. They emerge from this warehouse to enter into the circular courtyard of Haka’torvhak’s Hall of Commerce, where three merchants are set up:
- Tamztur, a fat, twelve-foot-tall blue-skinned humanoid with an unusual face. He is looking for a book called the “Tome of Leadership in Courage,” and in exchange offers either a Robe of Stars or a Spellguard Shield, or alternatively a service from one of his many exotic business partners.
- Yrkhetep, an anthropomorphic jackal-like creature who trades primarily information. He knows a great deal about Haka’torvhak, and suggests he might now how to kill Rhashaak… for the right price.
- Ozorr, a narcotics-dealing azer that was run out of the City of Brass after Levistus’ corruption began settling in. He is saving up to purchase access to a “better marketplace” from Yrkhetep.
After speaking with the merchants and deciding to get the information from Yrkhetep, the Eclipse Collective disagrees briefly on whether to give Yrkhetep information on Baalondorus before instead deciding to get him the items hidden at the top of the Tower of Night, the tallest and oldest free-standing structure in Haka’torvhak. One of Tamztur’s guards opens the courtyard and the party leaves. On the way to the tower they are attacked by several black-scaled lizardfolk bearing the Mark of Poison, whom they fight and kill before proceeding.
The first floor of the tower is a spiral-shaped labyrinth with a single narrow corridor, laden with traps. Marlamin leads the party as they enter but a magical symbol fills him with terror, and he flees the tower. The rest of the party decides to continue on. Rilic and Iadoes are separated by a metal door from Conlon and Derli and end up in some sort of prison cell when they attempt to teleport to safety. Derli is stunned and rendered immobile by another magical symbol, and Conlon carries him through, though he eventually becomes too despondent with grief and drink to contribute further. Conlon reaches the stairs ascending higher in the tower, and goes up.
Meanwhile, Rilic and Iadoes attempt to escape their cell. Iadoes blinks out into the hall once the cell is illuminated, though a hunched, cloaked figure in another cell warns him not to. He discovers a switch to pull to free Rilic, but on pulling it, it just dumps acid on the counterfeit mage. Rilic evades it, and Iadoes discovers the real switch. Investigating the hunched figure, they find that it is actually just a long-dead skeleton with a magical Mark of Poison on the skull, which releases a burst of corrupting magic, causing some wasting injuries in the two. They then proceed onward.
At the same time, Marlamin runs into some black-scaled half-dragons, who take him to a place called the “Hall of the Watchers,” where a number of older dragonborn with emaciated bodies sit chained around an iridescent green pool, staring into its depths. Each one has a mouth melted by acid and eyes held open with nails. They are overseen by some sort of demon resembling a draconic centaur with a huge trident. The half-dragons take Marlamin to one of the vacant chaining spots and orders him to kneel, but he asks to speak with the overseer. The demon comes over and Marlamin lies, saying he wishes to become one of his soldiers. The demon accepts this, but says that he must first open the Temple of the Fiend Lords in the southwest of the city, which someone named Unariel previously sealed. He is to be escorted by some of the half-dragons, and killed in the event that he should fail. He leaves the Hall of the Watchers with his escort.
Conlon ascends the Tower of Night, encountering a barracks-like room where the occupants can assail anyone on the labyrinth floor below. He then finds a library-like room with a teleportation circle, followed by a three-storey tall chamber with walls covered in slots and pits, about half of which are filled with dragonshards. He believes this to be some sort of magic intrinsic to the tower, and on the next floor above it, he discovers a staff jammed into the floor which is meant to control that magic. He steals the staff, though this results in a blast of force which knocks him unconscious and gives him a moderate concussion before he is able to proceed upwards. He discovers the weapons he was sent to retrieve, and takes them, but not before triggering a final magical trap that sprays him with acid.
Back below the tower, Rilic and Iadoes proceed through to a large circular room with another cloaked figure standing in the center. Iadoes asks it if it can provide him power, and it replies “of a sort.” It eventually comes to suggest that it knows about the Thirteenth Moon, and it can reveal what it knows if Iadoes looks upon his face. After some deliberation and cautionary warnings from Rilic, Iadoes walks forward, draws back the hood, and sees a grand vision of the cosmos so intense and overwhelming that it causes his mind to reset itself. He loses all memories prior to the act, save some sense of self and knowledge of his capabilities as a sorcerer. Rilic attempts to salvage the situation by convincing Iadoes he is an agreeable man who looks to the sun for power. They proceed forth.
At the same time this is happening, Marlamin arrives at the vast doors leading into the Temple of the Fiend Lords. It is branded with the Mark of Poison. Against all odds he is able to smash it open with raw force, resulting in a wave of poisonous magic that kills his escort. After surveying the scene, he proceeds in, steeling himself against a potent toxic stench from within and arriving in a chamber filled with small altars adorned with holy symbols to many (not all) of the Demon Overlords. Also there are two frog-like hezrou demons, which attack him. He fends them back and kills them both before investigating, discovering a holy symbol of Masvirik in a dragonshard, and a door warded with chains infused with demonic magic. He decides to smash through them, which results in the freeing of something terrible from within.
Elsewhere, Rilic and Iadoes proceed through the halls beneath the Tower of Night, making a choice between a “mundane life” and a “life of risk” in a fork in the path with another cloaked figure, and meeting a surprisingly cheerful figure of the same type in a domed room where a blinding sun-like light is blocked by Iadoes’ magic. It mentions that the Tower of Night’s purpose has something to do with “unlocking the power of the sun,” but that it requires additional dragonshards. They proceed through and meet Conlon back on the main floor of the Tower, who has retrieved the staff and the two weapons kept at the top.
Back at the Temple of the Fiend Lords, the creature — a flying, four-armed vrolikai demon general of Masvirik — emerges and states that it will cause a “sea of blood” and “suffering unheard of” as a sacrifice to free the Cold Sun, and that Marlamin will be the first to die. Marlamin attempts to run, but the vrolikai runs him down and stabs him to unconsciousness with four (proportionately huge) daggers made of crystal fire.