The Hands that Move the World

Coming Storm IV: Catacombs of Stone

Eyre 2, 1001 YK

Zil’dejin returns to the group. The party plans to rest in the Temple of Fire, but are interrupted by Drago Kraal and Pick Shadehill, members of the Evening Star Company. They are here to speak with the Sardar as well, as they are also surveying their options with the genie lord to achieve their goal of freeing somebody important to them imprisoned here by Mordakhesh the Shadowsword. Some of their history is revealed. They leave, and the party sleeps.

Eyre 3, 1001 YK

The party speaks briefly with the Sardar again, who warns them against trusting Hisen. They decide to ally with her for now, and she gives them an iron flask with which to imprison the Khatun. They go toward the Catacombs of Stone. On the way, they encounter another member of the Evening Star Company: Thair Coalstriker. He gives Girrrth a magical bag of devouring intended to consume Zil’dejin, but Girrrth takes it instead, locking himself in invisible manacles of force in the process. Kaleth frees them, and they proceed.

At the cemetery, they are stopped by earth genasi, but they bluff their way through, claiming to have a keystone. The soldiers’ captain meets them at the entrance to the actual catacombs, and demands to see the keystone they brought. They persuade him to reach into the bag of devouring and pull it out, but of course, he is consumed instead. They proceed inwards and navigate the ever-shifting corridors, exploiting some time magic on the way and nearly getting killed by the Phane. When they arrive at Khatun Makra jin Karima’s chamber, they find her protected by an antimagic field. Though they intended to fight her, they back off to rest for a while before going back in.

The Collective fights the dao. Kaleth cannot use magic and tries to rally her slaves against her before breaking out his whip. Zil’dejin puts up a strong fight at the start but sinks into the quicksand she creates and dies briefly before coming back. Kaleth escapes being crushed narrowly, and Girrrth cleaves through much of her head and impales her on spikes to end the fight. They then loot her sizable and opulent treasure hoard, discovering two powerful magic items belonging to a non-giant hero of the ancient giants that built Illandyano. They are stored in the past, in a Chronocracy vault, while the party leaves the Catacombs.

Notes: the treasure given in this session was a little imbalanced, but fairly rolled with a 1 in 480,000 chance of success by Marc. What am I even supposed to do.

Main Characters: Zil’dejin Firebane, Girrrth Thicktrunk, Kaleth


Eyre 2, 1001 YK

The Eclipse Collective, gathered in the Temple of Fire in Illandyano, make camp on the floor of the temple’s largest chamber. As they prepare to sleep, Zil’dejin returns from some exploration of the city and an attempt to recover some of the pieces of Iadoes Lunaformer’s petrified body. While they sleep, he is alerted by torchlight and approaching footsteps. He awakens the others.

The new arrivals are Drago Kraal, a world-famous warrior with a tower shield and huge polearm, as well as a Rage Shard necklace, and Pick Shadehill, a legendary halfling thief. Both are members of the Evening Star Company, and Drago claims to be its “unofficial leader… by seniority.” Pick does not say anything to the Eclipse Collective, but whispers a few things to Drago. Drago speaks with the Collective while Kaleth watches nearby from an invisible state (even after it is revealed that Drago can somehow see him).

Drago reveals a bit about the Evening Star’s history, revealing that they were the second adventuring company hired by Remelius Artauche to track down the Chains of Balance and a tome detailing the ritual necessary to assemble the Staff of Three Dragons. At the conclusion of the latter quest, Talbot was meant to kill them, as Malavarn was meant to kill the Eclipse Collective, but he instead aided them, sending them to Wroat to battle the jury-rigged warforged, golems, and other constructs assaulting the city. Drago makes no effort to hide his bitterness about the Eclipse Collective getting all credit for the events of the Siege of Wroat, saying to Zil’dejin, “I could have been you.”

There is a short discussion about what it means to be Blooded. Pick Shadehill can evidently identify that all of them are Blooded, but Drago will not explain what it means. He says that the knowledge is very dangerous, and sharing the secret could be very bad for him. He also identifies the Evening Star’s purpose in Illandyano — they are trying to recover somebody important to them, who was placed on the plane by Mordakhesh the Shadowsword. Like the Eclipse Collective, they are surveying their options with the genie lords to see who can give them the best offer for their efforts. Sardar Sa’ida Dewan al-Zaman is their last stop. Zil’dejin suggests they work together to achieve their goals, but Drago insists on first speaking with the Sardar. They go to speak with the Sardar (who is currently with Paddy Grimm) and the rest of the party goes to sleep.

Eyre 3, 1001 YK

The party awakens with no sign of the Evening Star Company having passed back through, despite Zil’dejin’s alertness for the entire night. The Sardar is watching them from her brass throne, and when they have awoken, she asks them for a decision. Zil’dejin says that her offer seems the best so far, as they are interested in repairing what they have done to the City of Brass. They announce that they will go to the Catacombs of Stone where Khatun Makra jin Karima resides, and attempt to take her keystone. Before they go, they ask the Sardar if they can trust Khedive Hisein Tala’at. She insists that any deal he offered them is going to be tilted heavily in his favour, as like all marids, he has absolutely no regard for lesser races. As they are about to leave, she gives them an iron flask inscribed with runes, which she suggests they use to imprison the Khatun instead of killing her.

On the way there, Girrrth is walking freely while Kaleth desynchronizes time for himself and Zil’dejin, allowing them to pass more or less invisibly through Illandyano’s streets. The genasi barbarian encounters yet another member of the Evening Star Company, who happens to be a familiar face for Zil’dejin. He is none other than Thair Coalstriker, who somehow escaped imprisonment again after trying to set a tavern on fire in his last encounter with the Collective. He does not recognize Girrrth, but Girrrth announces himself as a member of the Eclipse Collective. Thair is filled with anger and crashes a huge hammer through a nearby building, shattering it in a display of rage. He gives Girrrth a leather bag to give to Zil’dejin before carrying on, muttering about how much he hates the Collective.

While inspecting the bag, Girrrth accidentally locks his hands together with invisible manacles. They are not the original invisible manacles used in an attempt to arrest Typhus Phendrakken, but are rather composed of magical force. Kaleth’s most recent time-clone manages to sunder them with magic, allowing Girrrth to move his hands freely again. As they walk to the catacombs, Kaleth attempts to discern the nature of the bag, which turns out to be magical… and nearly consumes him. The bag of devouring, as it is called, can consume organic matter or small inorganic matter (with sufficient time). It seems Thair intended this as some sort of trap, but Girrrth and Zil’dejin manage to pull Kaleth out of the bag before he is consumed. Despite Thair’s desire to give the bag to Zil’dejin, Girrrth keeps it because he found it (as is his flaw since almost having his brain devoured by mind flayers on the moon).

They arrive at the cemetery that is crested by the mausoleum which acts as the Catacombs’ entrance. They are stopped by several earth genasi guards at the entrance, who question them about their business there. They manage to convince the soldiers that they are there to speak with the Khatun to deliver a keystone, and are allowed to pass up to the mausoleum, where they are again stopped. This earth genasi appears to act as some sort of officer for the soldiers elsewhere, and he demands to actually see the keystone before they are allowed in. Girrrth suggests he “reach into the bag and take it out,” holding out the bag of devouring. He is reluctant to do so, but Zil’dejin urges him forward. The officer sticks his hand in the bag and is devoured by it, screaming only briefly before he is gone, allowing them to pass further in.

The catacombs below are of a different configuration than in their first visit, and they soon come to realize that the stone continually changes shape, with corridors rearranging and re-configuring themselves constantly. Zil’dejin tracks some footprints in the dust, guided by Kaleth’s magical sense for the dao’s location, allowing them to proceed a considerable distance in the correct direction before inadvertently taking a wrong turn and finding the way back to have formed back into solid stone. Kaleth creates a tunnel through the stone by appropraiting a long corridor from some Chronocracy-era government building. The walls of the time breach begin weakening as they pass through, and soon the corridor is indistinguishable from the normal carved stone catacombs. As they walk, the corridor begins shrinking, so Kaleth uses magic again to phase all three of them out of time. Two green orbs of light are visible and approaching closer as they proceed towards the Khatun.

The Phane, as Kaleth has identified it, appears in the corridor in pursuit. Zil’dejin demands to know what it wants, but it is completely silent in its pursuit, disrupting time as it moves. The spasmodic fluctuations in time it creates briefly hurl Kaleth through the end of time and Zil’dejin through some primordial point in Eberron’s history, severely injuring both of them before Kaleth phases them back into the normal timestream, just outside of the Khatun’s chamber, protected by a stable stone door.

They charge through to find the Khatun in her treasure-filled quarters, attended by three earth genasi slaves. As they enter, Kaleth’s time-clone vanishes, and he feels suddenly impotent: he quickly realizes that the Khatun is protected by an anti-magic field, one intrinsic to her. This same field renders the iron flask they were given completely nonfunctional, even outside of the field. She orders them to surrender their keystone they have retrieved for her, referring to them as though they are her slaves as well. Zil’dejin is very frustrated but contains his anger while they speak, as he — like Kaleth — is considerably injured and uncertain they could win a fight here.

It soon comes to light that they do not actually have a keystone. Makra realizes they have come to kill her, and laughs at the very notion, explaining that her antimagic field protects her. She says that it is a property of her “Ascension,” which relates somehow to the concept of the Blooded. Zil’dejin asks if she is Blooded, to which she answers that she was, but now she has Ascended. They are unsure of what this means, but she does not explain further.

Now tired of them, Makra sends them on their way to bring her back a keystone as she asked. They leave her chamber and rest outside for an hour while Kaleth focuses on stabilizing the surrounding area, bandaging their wounds from the Phane throwing them through time. Girrrth kicks down the door after an hour has passed and they step in again. The Khatun has only two slaves now, which are fighting for her amusement. She slowly rises as Zil’dejin approaches with his glaive drawn (despite it being magically inert in her presence). She takes out her massive stone maul and combat breaks out. Makra hammers Zil’dejin repeatedly, dealing several powerful blows before Zil’dejin can get a few of his own. Girrrth charges in with his axe and assails her as well, joining Zil’dejin while Kaleth takes cover in a notch in the wall he has made for himself to try and convince the genasi slaves to abandon Makra for their cause, and for freedom.

Despite her antimagic field, Makra retains some innate elemental control over her surroundings, and causes a number of rocks to fall upon Girrrth after turning the floor into quicksand. It is merely troublesome at first, but Makra manages to get a solid blow against Zil’dejin’s skull midway through the fight, knocking him unconscious and causing his body to sink through the sand. Meanwhile, Kaleth finishes convincing one of the genasi to fight on their side while the other is in an incoherent rage, attacking Girrrth. With Zil’dejin unconscious, Makra breaks away from Girrrth to attack Kaleth, who readies his whip and wooden shield in response. Makra kills the rebelling slave on the way as though he is nothing, then reaches Kaleth. She batters him savagely with her hammer before he is able to slide beneath her through the whirling mass of sand and rocks that is her lower body. He tumbles into the quicksand and begins sinking while Girrrth kills the raging genasi and brings his axe to meet the Khatun’s hammer.

Mostly submerged in quicksand, Kaleth blindly snaps his whip towards Makra and manages to wrap the whip around her hammer, ripping it out of her hands and dragging it into the quicksand with him. She turns her firsts into large masses of stone and fights Girrrth barehanded, turning the floor around them into solid stone spikes. Under the sand, Kaleth focuses enough to manifest a small pocket of air for himself and tries to locate Zil’dejin.

The fight between Makra and Girrrth is a quick and brutal exchange of blows. In his anger and desire to kill the dao before Zil’dejin dies beneath the quicksand, he is reckless, leaving many openings for Makra to exploit. It seems he is about to fall to her when in a sudden surge of strength, he leaps up into the air, shouting “You can’t handle me!” He drives his axe partway through her stony skull, lodging it there, and then grabs her, lifts her, and slams her into the stone spikes below, impaling her. Her body fades away into sand and gravel.

Beneath the quicksand, Kaleth is unable to reach Zil’dejin in time. His lungs fill with sand as life leaves him. The next thing he knows, he is sitting in a dark room, staring at a wide brazier. He is confused, uncertain about where he is or why, with dim recollection of where he was just now. A calloused hand claps him on the back, and a familiar voice — one of his fellow Dawntreaders from the Last War — asks him what he is staring at.

“I was…” he begins, but trails off. Something is wrong — his mouth is gritty, and he tastes dirt. The light of the brazier begins fading away as he returns to consciousness, breaking free of the quicksand with one great stroke of his wings. As Kaleth emerges behind him the quicksand begins solidifying back into stone. Zil’dejin coughs the debris free of his lungs while they search through Makra’s treasures, discovering scattered hoards of approximately 32,000 gp and 41,000 pp, as well as a chest with 7 flawless jacinths worth 5,000 gp apiece.

There is also a suit of plate armour retrieved from a ruin somewhere in Illandyano, obviously of giant make by its size and immaculately crafted, inscribed with countless intricate runes. Kaleth identifies it as having belonged to some great hero of a period of giant past lost to history (fighting for the giants, but not a giant him- or herself). Zil’dejin dons it, gaining its immense protective properties and a few other abilities (such as the ability to carry his voice over great distances, and occasional whispers of danger to protect him). Wearing the armour causes strange script to pass before the eyes, and when Zil’dejin dons it he is compelled to “seek the prophet.” Nothing more is given.

Lastly, Girrrth discovers a belt of the exact sort he has been coveting: superficially similar to a belt of storm giant strength, though with some notable differences in construction, suggesting it was made to emulate the strength of a different sort of giant. Whatever the case, the increase in strength is extraordinary. (This was entirely due to Marc’s series of insane random treasure rolls with a 1 in 480,000 chance of succeeding).

To transport the treasure out of the chamber before the walls close around them, Kaleth opens an empty vault from the Chronocracy’s past and transports the treasure within to store it until they leave the catacombs.

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