Eyre 2, 1001 YK
Conlon rejoins the party after finishing a task for Eltimar, who seems to be trying to create a second Hexblade of his pact. The party leaves Yagmur Reis’ Tower of Air, headed for the Water Gardens to speak with the marid lord. On the way, they run into the Seren barbarian Nolash Tyreshnar, who is al so a member of the Evening Star Company. They speak with him a while before going to the gardens. They breach they entrance and find themselves on a cross-shaped walkway above a huge pool of murky water. Girrrth tries to swim through and is attacked by kuo-toa. He works on freeing himself from the water while Derli protects everybody else, who are concentrating on casting spells (or for Rilic, using a wand… and for Conlon, using a magical ring). When Girrrth emerges, they all fire surges of lightning into the water, killing everything within.
Passing through the Gardens, they find the lightning has killed most opposition. They end up in the central chamber of the Gardens, which has a ceiling (unlike the rest of it) and many statues resembling fish. The doors slam shut as they enter, and the room begins flooding. They struggle against the trap for a while, eventually resolving with Girrrth destroying many of the statues and Kaleth (and his time-clone) stopping time to deactivate the mechanism identified by Rilic. A pool in the center of the room leads downwards, but they ignore it while Girrrth drinks from cups they have found. He is changed into a wereshark, and infused with elemental water. With a newfound ability to breathe underwater, he is sent down through the pool, and at the bottom (about a ten-minute swim), he finds Khedive Hisein Tala’at’s underwater pleasure dome.
Girrrth convinces the Khedive to transport his companions into the dome, and in exchange he turns one of Hisein’s slaves into a wereshark. When the others arrive, they relax for a while before Derli prompts business discussion. Hisein knows why they are there and offers them a new deal: they help him open the palace, and they can keep almost all treasure inside. He just wants an arbitrary treasure as a trophy of his accomplishment of beating all other genies. They agree to help him, and rest for a while in the pleasure dome. They are joined here by Tandi, who has been summoned by Hisein to play music while they rest. Hisein teleports them to the Temple of Fire to speak with the efreeti Sardar.
At the temple, they fight a huge fire elemental, after which they are met by the human pirate captain Paddy Grimm and his first mate Mort Gus Mort of the Dirty Memaid. They are apparently also working for the marid Khedive, and so join the party as they enter the temple. They are greeted by a puzzle involving four braziers, which is initially incorrectly solved, placing them in a situation where the room is filling with lava. This presents a second chance to solve the puzzle, at which point the party is successful. They proceed further in to find three statues (actually golems) of soft stone and blue fire who demand a sacrifice. They present Mort, who is not actually dead but faked by magic to be so. The golems detect the deception and attack. The Collective defeats the golems, and goes further into the Temple of Fire to find Sardar Sa’ida Dewan al-Zaman. Her offer resembles Hisein’s: she wants into the palace, but all she wants is a weapon from within to help save the City of Brass. They consider her offer while Paddy seduces her. The rest of the party opts to sleep the night in the temple, despite Sa’ida’s warning that it may not be safe now that they have ruined its defenses.
Eyre 2, 1001 YK
After spending the night in accommodations provided by Yagmur Reis in the Tower of Air, the Eclipse Collective is surprised to see Conlon Ostrennar enter through a black void — especially considering the tower is ordinarily warded against teleportation. He says that following the defeat of the mortuary cyclone in his academy, and the subsequent extinguishing of fires, revision of policies regarding necromancy, and appropriate new motto (“determination through the ashes”), he was compelled by Eltimar to spend the remainder of the month seeking a fragment of a collapsed universe. Apparently, Eltimar intends on using it to create a second Hexblade of the Star Pact — strictly forbidden by whatever universal force governs the Tournament of Blades, but evidently that is not a deterrent to Eltimar.
As Conlon has just newly arrived, he goes up to speak with Yagmur, whom he learns is attempting to summon the “greatest air elemental of all.” He is caught up on the situation briefly, and Rilic Balendal trades his wand of webs to the djinni in exchange for the de-petrification of the Rainbow Scarf of the Traveler. The party then moves down the tower through means provided to them by Yagmur. On the bottom floor, they speak briefly with the air genasi they saw the day previous, who is still camped there. The party learns his name is Winds Mac Air. Conlon briefly contemplates killing him, stating that he has “no reason to let [him] live, and no reason to kill [him].” They end up leaving Winds there.
En route to the Water Gardens, the party attempts to sneak through the streets in their usual way, though Girrrth Thicktrunk finds it difficult to pass through the stone in that area of Illandyano, Conlon is not particularly stealthy, and Derli d’Kundarak makes no effort to be. These three encounter a hulking barbarian, who is human but has a stature to rival a goliath. His name is Nolash Tyreshnar, and he is a barbarian from the Poison Storm tribe of Seren. He feels he shares a bond with Conlon, and also with Girrrth as a fellow warrior, but chides Derli for wearing armour, sparking some animosity between them. During their brief discussion, he reveals that Dralon Ostrennar has been captured by the Son of Caiphon, and that the Emerald Marauders tribe is threatened. Nolash leaves to rejoin the other members of the Evening Star Company, including an apparent leader he calls Drago.
The party moves on an arrives at the Water Gardens, enclosed by a tall, circular stone wall. After multiple attempts, Kaleth disables the magical wards on the gate leading into the compound, and Girrrth forces it open. They enter into a wide cross-shaped stone walkway over a huge pool of murky water. It looks to have once flowed in some way, but is now stagnant. Other than the entrance, there are three exits. Girrrth chooses one to head towards and jumps into the water, only to be attacked from multiple angles in the murk by spears and similar implements. Before long, a net binds him in place, fired from somewhere else in the water.
Derli steps forward as four kuo-toa (resembling squat, mad-eyed anthropomorphic fish) emerge from the water, holding spears and nets. He meets them in combat and opens with warlock magic, conjuring a coin and flipping it towards one of the kuo-toa. As the fish reaches up to catch it, it explodes in golden fire. The dwarf then rushes forward, cleaving the kuo-toa apart with his axe. Meanwhile, Rilic, Conlon, Kaleth, and a duplicate of Kaleth from the Chronocracy era each prepare to cast a lightning-based spell. When Girrrth breaks free of the net and leaps out of the water, they all fire the magic into the water simultaneously, filling the room with blinding light as everything still within the water is killed at once. Dozens of kuo-toa bodies float to the surface.
The Collective proceeds through the gardens, quickly discovering that the pool of water in the first area is continuous with similar pools in other areas of the compound. As they walk through, they discover many more bodies of creatures killed by the four-way lightning blast. They discover two nearly-identical rooms with full chalices of water, which they decide to leave alone for now. In the center of the compound is a square chamber with a ceiling about 40 feet above the floor, while the other areas they have visited to this point do not have ceilings. Eight statues resembling fish are positioned around the walls, and a square pool of water is present in the middle of the floor.
Rilic is the last to enter, and when he steps into the room the doors immediately slam shut, and the statues begin producing water at an incredibly high rate, blasting Girrrth and Derli with heavy force. The room is filling with water at a rate of about 1 foot up the walls per second, leaving them about 40 seconds before the whole room is flooded. Strategies are varied, including Kaleth drawing a battering ram from some castle siege in the past for Derli to break down one of the sealed doors, Girrrth climbing on statues to break them, and Rilic trying to disarm the mechanism with Conlon. The situation is finally resolved when Kaleth and his past clone stop time in sequence, at which point Rilic has been caught in the center of the room by the strange currents and nearly drowned, while Derli has been knocked unconscious and Girrrth has broken three of the water-producing statues.
Magical force is used to push the battering ram under the water and break open one of the doors, allowing the now mostly-flooded chamber to drain out. The members of the Collective decide to take a breath here, during which time Girrrth is convinced to drink the contents of both chalices found to this point. The magic woven into the water of each cup alters his body in a different way, transforming him into a wereshark and infusing elemental water into his body (the latter is temporary, expected to last about a month). Part of this magic immediately makes him aware of the changes, and for now, he chooses to embrace his new wereshark nature for its destructive power. The bloodlust begins settling in, slowly but surely.
Now with a limited capacity to breathe underwater, Girrrth is sent down through the pool in the central chamber. He swims down for about five minutes without detecting an end through his new underwater tremorsense, and so returns to the surface, only to be scolded by Kaleth and made to go back down. The pool goes down an impressive distance before leveling out and eventually turning back up, with a surface impossibly much lower (seemingly) than the pool in which Girrrth entered the water. The barbarian emerges in a vast glass dome, well-lit by ambient blue light that partially pierces the dome’s exterior, which looks to be the floor of the ocean.
There is ample seating in this room in the form of cushion-like soft coral. Lying in repose in the room’s center is the piscine form of Khedive Hisein Tala’at, surrounded by a harem of water genasi. He greets Girrrth and offers him some hospitality. Girrrth, who is not particularly well suited to be the party’s face, is at a bit of a loss. He has some desire to have his companions present, so Hisein offers him a chance: the marid desires to own a wereshark like Girrrth, and asks the barbarian to infect one of his harem with the lycanthropic curse. Girrrth eventually agrees and decides to transmit the curse by bedding one of the harem members. With this done, Hisein transports the other members of the party waiting above into the dome.
At Hisein’s invitation, most of them sit and recline on the soft coral. Hisein permits Kaleth to project an image of a Chronocracy-era pleasure dome to make himself more comfortable while he and his duplicate enjoy “food, wine, narcotics, women, and men.” Derli adamantly refuses to partake, and insists they get down to business. Hisein appears disappointed, but goes with it. He quickly identifies their reason for being there and asks them what Yagmur has offered for their help. He listens, and offers to match everything Yagmur will do for them and more. Hisein explains that (most) of the genie lords involved in the conflict believe the interior of Zenzatun contains vast amounts of treasure. Unlike the Khatun and the Sardar, however, Hisein has no interest in the treasure — he wants only to have the distinction of being the one to open the palace and win over the djinni, efreeti, and dao. As he puts it, among the marids, “titles are as currency.” If the party assists him, he says, they are welcome to whatever the palace contains, provided he gets a single arbitrarily-chosen item from within as a trophy.
This strikes most of the party as a good deal, because they are known to enjoy their treasure. Derli admits to some reservations, but he is stricken by being “a dwarf with daemonic greed.” Only Rilic is abjectly suspicious of Hisein’s motivations, but goes along with the rest of the party. The marid desires a keystone, so they offer to get one for him. They rest in the dome for a while, during which time they are serenaded by bagpipe music provided by Tandi Warmmantle who has been summoned by Hisein. When they are ready to go, Tandi joins up with the party. At their request, Hisen opens a portal to their next destination once they have decided upon it: the temple of fire, where the efreeti Sardar is located. This is largely to hear her offer, that they can compare it to the others to this point.
The Temple of Fire is an uncharacteristically blocky building for what is a city of mostly round architecture. It stands in an open clearing among several other buildings of probable religious purpose. The entrance to the massive temple is open without doors of any kind, but is obstructed by a whirling mass of fire. When Kaleth steps forward to investigate it and determine if the effect is inherently magical, it springs to life, revealing itself to be a huge fire elemental. They engage it in combat, with most of them standing in the blistering heat surrounding the elemental while Tandi hides beneath the tall temple stairs and imbues his companions with arcane song. Girrrth climbs up the burning, semisolid elemental while Rilic and Kaleth (and Kaleth’s clone, until it is destroyed by the elemental) blast it with magic. Derli deals the final blow, leaping through the air and driving his axe through the core of the elemental, causing its fiery body to explode in a wave of fire and dropping Girrrth back to the ground. The fire burns most of the party members, but Rilic rolls out of the way. The stairs are also destroyed, but Tandi manages to avoid being crushed by rubble.
Kaleth pulls some stairs out of time to provide access to the temple, but before they head inside they are stopped by a shouting human voice. A bearded human, bedecked in expensive rings and wearing extravagant clothing capped with a feathered hat, approaches them. He is immediately recognizable as a ship captain. Two swords hang from his belt, a rapier and something more like a cutlass. He is accompanied by a plain-looking man who is fanning him with a massive reed fan, making the captain appear more dramatic.
The captain, who introduces himself as Captain Paddy “the Fire Elemental Killer” Grimm of the Dirty Mermaid, demands to know where the fire elemental is. The party, somewhat taken aback, explains that they have already defeated it. It appears that Paddy is also aligned with Hisein, working in exchange for “plunder.” When the party enters the Temple of Fire, he joins them. The first chamber of the temple is a vast space with towering doors on one end, covered in arcane sigils. There are four huge braziers, each with a different inscription. These inscriptions are written in Old Giant and Primordial. Paddy, who is fluent in Aquan, attempts to translate the Primordial, and is surprisingly capable. He relays the inscriptions to the rest of the party, which read “Heaven,” “Nature,” “Civilization,” and “Weave.” The braziers are all unlit, and some inspection reveals that they are connected in some way to the doors that lead further in.
Paddy decides to light all of the braziers by taking four bottles of rum and creating makeshift molotov cocktails, throwing burning rum into each brazier. When all are lit, the doors open. They proceed into a room that is nearly identical, but here, one of the braziers (the one with the “Civilization” inscription) is already lit. The doors slam shut behind them when they are inside, and lava begins pouring forth from the walls. Acting quickly, they try to figure out how to resolve their situation. Paddy takes Mort’s coat and sets it on fire in the flowing lava, tossing the coat into the “Nature” brazier. It lights as well. Tandi then attempts to light the other two by setting two arrows on fire with the lava as well and firing them into the remaining braziers. They do not light, however. Rilic attempts to spark the “Weave” brazier with flint and tinder, but again, it fails to light. Girrrth throws a burning javelin into the “Heaven” brazier, but it, too, does not light.
After some thought, Captain Paddy concludes that the order of lighting the braziers does not matter (the initial hypothesis the party was operating on). Instead, he suggests that the the method of lighting is what is important. Rilic blasts the “Weave” brazier with lightning, and it successfully lights, leaving only the “Heaven” brazier. Derli, like Kaleth, appears to have been cut off from them when the door closed, so they do not have a source of divine fire. Paddy prays for assistance, though he seems unaccustomed to it, mumbling the address to “gods of the sea… squids… fish” and confessing he knows he is “a bad man, but a good pirate.” His prayer carries remarkable weight, and he sees an image of a radiant ship passing through his vision, dropping a burning anchor onto the brazier, allowing it to light. The doors to proceed further open, and the lava ceases to flow.
Walking further in, they discover three statues made of some soft stone but riven through with faint blue flame. They are arranged in such a way that they obstruct access to the door behind them. When the party approaches, they animate, and demand a sacrifice. They exchange glances, and eventually choose to use First Mate Mort Gus Mort. Tandi “stabs” him with an illusory knife while simultaneously using magic to make him appear dead, offering the false corpse to the golem. The golem takes his limp body and attempts to burn it, but Tandi’s magic protects Mort from harm. The golems thus realize that a false sacrifice has been made, and attack.
Two of them burst into blue flame, burning those nearby, while the party engages. Unlike most golems, the magic that holds these together makes the stone soft enough to be harmed by non-magical weapons, a fact taken advantage of by the Collective. Various chains hang from the ceiling, some with hooks, apparently meant to hold sacrifices. Girrrth lays into one of the golems while Rilic “casts spells,” and Tandi supports with magic. Paddy swings on one of the golems using his rapier as an anchor, and jams it into the nearest golem, affixing the chain to it. He taunts the golem, offering his “meat and veg” as a sacrifice. The golem lurches forward, straining against the chain, and ends up ripping part of the ceiling free, dropping the rubble upon itself and ceasing its function.
The golems hit hard, but are not particularly durable. Girrrth is repeatedly set on fire, as are Rilic and Tandi on a few occasions. Paddy prepares a maneuver as Girrth steps back from the two golems attacking him, drawing them next to each other. Recalling (supposedly) three-legged races from his childhood, Paddy jams his rapier through one leg each, binding them at the legs and causing them to trip. One falls onto Girrrth, who holds the golem up while Tandi rolls out of the way. The golem flails at Girrrth, positioned underneath its body, and nearly knocks him out. Girrrth, however, manages to stay up despite his wounds and shoves the golem off himself. Paddy slashes through the backs of one of the golems with his cutlass and finds some sort of control stone, which he removes, causing it to stop functioning. The remaining one is nearly destroyed by Girrrth, and finally finished off when Paddy removes the head from one of the deactivated golems and drives it into the head of the last functioning one.
With the golems defeated, the doors open. This final (?) room contains an altar, which has been converted into a brass throne of some kind. Many lit braziers make the room surprisingly bright. The efreeti Sardar Sa’ida Dewan al-Zaman sits upon her throne, somewhat surprised that the party made it through the temple’s defenses. Speaking with her, they learn that her intentions are just as Yagmur relayed them: she wants access to the palace of Zenzatun because she is looking for a weapon contained within, which she believes will help her to save the City of Brass from its freezing fate. When the party prompt her for an offer, she gives them something comparable to Hisein’s: they can keep whatever they want, except the weapon that she is after. Also, as she believes she will be Sultan after rescuing the City of Brass, she offers the party titles and possible land. Tandi is in favour, and Rilic voices his opinion that she is preferable to Hisein, whom he still believes to be untrustworthy.
Paddy attempts to seduce the efreeti Sardar, and appears successful in this endeavour. The two leave for her bedchamber while the rest of the party talks over their situation. They decide to spend the night in the Temple of Fire (as this appears to be Paddy’s intent anyway), despite the Sardar’s warning that she cannot guarantee their safety now that they’ve stripped most of her defenses.