The Hands that Move the World

Deepest Darkness II: Setback

Eyre 1, 1002 YK

Kaleth, Rilic, and Derli are separated from the others as they move up Nelfach’s tower, but proceed anyway. They escape a chamber filled with lava and a room filled with mind-warping dust to meet Nelfach himself, who is holding the soul gem the party is seeking. They flee at first, as Derli is unconscious, but Nelfach summons Father Locust (somewhat accidentally) to kill them. In exchange for their lives, they take a bag from the priest of Famine full of eggs that will create a plague of locusts when planted among crops. They are told to plant them in ten days, or the locusts will hatch and consume mortals instead.

They end up fighting Nelfach and his daemons, who are in the middle of some sort of summoning ritual. The fighting is chaotic and causes the ritual to go haywire, causing, among other things, Derli’s body-switch with Nelfach and an appearance by Tethris. Ultimately, the party escapes with the soul gem, but Derli is in Nelfach’s body and Kaleth has been reduced to a soul gem. Rilic is also extensively injured.

Eyre 2, 1002 YK

Following some recovery time for Rilic, the counterfeit mage awakens and gives consent to Rave for a procedure that restores Derli back to his body and places Kaleth’s soul into Nelfach’s frame instead. In exchange, Derli is asked to kill the hexblade of the Undying pact next and bring the body back to the Death Magic Academy. Kaleth goes back to Gehenna with Ser Tabin Hamson to retrieve his possessions, and finds the Phoenix Eclipse heavily damaged with much of its crew dead and its captain critically injured. He brings them all back, but repairs will take a week.

Over the next week, Zil’dejin names his children, Kaleth learns the location of the black necropolis of Hopelorn (requiring a specific flight path and a potent sacrifice), Derli has interactions with Ser Hamson and Lavrenti (who is ultimately given over to Coref Irvallo for the time being), construction on a new staff-scabbard for Rilic begin as performed by Derli and Zil’dejin, and Derli uses Kashanshara to locate the hexblade of the Undying pact, who is apparently Marlamin Tarmikos’ replacement in the blackguard of the Blood of Vol. He is currently in Atur, which is the party’s next destination.

Eyre 9, 1001 YK

The Collective goes to Atur to find the hexblade, but Derli disrupts a service and is accosted by the guards. He learns of the “deal Marlamin made previously”: and a proxy of Malevanor intends to hold him to it. Marlamin’s replacement on the task of escorting priests to Hopelorn in Mabar ends up being Bronzesmith, a dragonborn (probably) outfitted in black armour who is captain of an order of knights in the Blood of Vol called the Dusktreaders.

Main Characters: Zil’dejin Firebane, Derli d’Kundarak, Rilic Balendal, Kaleth

Eyre 1, 1002 YK

After taking a short rest in Nelfach‘s tower, giving Kaleth (in his new body) time to catch up to the party, the group moves further up the tower. The next floor appears mostly empty, but is composed of something resembling volcanic glass. When they try to move to the next floor, sliding gates bar both the stairs leading up and down, separating Derli, Rilic, and Kaleth from Zil’dejin and Indicus below. After the exits are barred, the ceiling melts away, rapidly filling the room with lava. The three on the trapped floor scramble for the stairs upwards and work on opening it, but discover there are multiple layers of arcane traps. One of them disables the wall of force created by Kaleth to protect them from the lava, and another renders Derli unconscious. The last of the traps are eventually removed, and the heavy mechanical door is destroyed by a disintegration spell. Rilic and Kaleth quickly head upwards, dragging Derli’s body with them.

On the next floor, they discover that the disintegration that destroyed the door also damaged the walls, which are apparently packed with some kind of dust. On contact with their skin, it imparts temporary insanity on Rilic and Kaleth, paralyzing Rilic and causing Kaleth to run up the stairs in terror.

After a minute or two, this brings him to the top floor, where Nelfach is conducting some sort of ritual relating to the constantly-flowing glass pillar of blood in the center of the tower. The walls are lined with alcoves, containing soul gems, although the largest and most impressive-looking is held by the venedaemon. When Kaleth comes to his senses, he converses briefly with Nelfach, learning that the soul gem they are after actually contains the soul of Tharavash the Dissolver, a prakhutu rakshasa the party met and defeated on Vult. Kaleth tries to bargain for its safe exchange, but the only thing Nelfach seems inclined to take is either of Zil’dejin’s two newborns, the half-dragonborn twins. Kaleth naturally refuses, and Nelfach (and his arcanadaemons, cacodaemons, and derghodaemon) attack, forcing Kaleth to flee downstairs where Rilic is just regaining motor control. Around this time, a gate opens in the wall: the last line of defense in Nelfach’s tower. From the gate emerges an emaciated human corrupted by daemonic influence, calling himself Father Locust. The party at first suspects this might be the Horseman of Famine, but it soon becomes clear he is actually the Horseman’s greatest priest.

Because Father Locust was unwillingly summoned by Nelfach (who would later suggest that the enchantment was not meant to summon him, but somebody else), he accepts a deal offered by the party. In exchange for not killing them and consuming their souls, he gives them a small bag of eggs, resembling small stones. He says that they must be placed among living, bountiful crops, and when they hatch they will create a plague of locusts. He also warns that should they not be placed in a suitable food source before they hatch within ten days, they will seek out mortal lives instead. The Collective takes Father Locust and Derli’s body back to the top floor to renegotiate, but talks quickly break down again, and a fight breaks out once more.

As Derli remains unconscious, Zil’dejin and Indicus have been separated, and Tandi is dead, they decide that they are far outmatched, and instead attempt to seize the soul gem and flee. Things quickly go awry, however, as Kaleth is beaten to unconsciousness himself after losing most of his mental faculties to the horrid sounds produced by the derghodaemon. He is killed soon after, and his soul is taken by a flying cacodaemon to be made into a soul gem. Derli regains consciousness but is made a puppet by Nelfach’s magic, although soon after this happens Rilic interferes with the ritual by throwing his full bag of alchemical gear into the center of the room, destroying the blood pillar. As the daemonic magic begins to run wild, Derli and Nelfach switch consciousnesses, effectively allowing Derli to control both his body (through Nelfach’s magic) as well as Nelfach’s body.

It soon becomes clear that something is being summoned, and the tower is starting to fall apart despite the best efforts of the arcanadaemons to stop it. The party narrowly manages to collect the soul gem just as Tethris arrives on the scene, looking for Derli, who leaves with Rilic as soon as possible after retrieving Kaleth’s soul gem from the cacodaemon that produced it. The party escapes by plane shifting after the tower’s structure is compromised, returning to the Eclipse Keep, where Nimozaran the Green prepares to attack Derli (who is still in the body of Nelfach). Derli willingly allows himself to be bound and examined. Meanwhile, his body is carried off to safety, and Rilic is taken in critical condition into the Eclipse Keep’s hospital.

In Conlon’s Death Magic Academy, Rave and his students prepare to perform a procedure that will return Derli’s mind to his own body.

Eyre 2, 1002 YK

The next day, Rilic awakens in stable condition, and goes to the Death Magic Academy, where he authorizes a procedure secondary to Derli’s, allowing Kaleth’s consciousness to temporarily be transferred into Nelfach’s body once Derli’s leaves it. Both procedures are carried out at once, and both are successful. As payment for restoring him to his body, Rave asks that Derli abandon his pursuit of Tethris temporarily and seek out a new target in the Tournament of Blades: the pactmaker of the Undying pact, whose body Rave wants brought back to the Academy. Derli agrees.

After Kaleth takes some time to acclimate to his new body and curse Derli for temporarily damning him to it, he goes to speak with Ser Tabin Hamson in the Cathedral of Dol Dorn. Together, they go back to Gehenna to retrieve Kaleth’s body and possessions, as well as to discover the fate of the crew of the Phoenix Eclipse. They find that whatever was summoned in Nelfach’s tower destroyed it completely, but Kaleth’s possessions are recovered. The airship is turned over nearby, and Frances d’Lyrandar is found impaled by a piece of one of the cannons. He is taken back to the keep and placed in the hospital.

The airship is brought back using a complicated series of spells cast by Kaleth, and the damage is assessed. Half of the crew has been lost, and the ship has taken some major impacts. It is estimated repairs will take one week’s time. The Collective also speaks with the venedaemon who recruited them to retrieve the soul gem, and make the exchange. They learn how to get to Hopelorn (essentially by drawing a straight line between two of the volcanoes of Gehenna, and following along the straight line for three days by airship), and how to get inside: performing a sacrifice worthy of the attention of Mellifleur’s Cabal.

Over the next week, Derli spends some time with Lavrenti, who tries desperately to convince Derli to take him along, but Derli will not have it and instead, on Zil’dejin’s advice, passes him off to General Coref Irvallo. Derli asks Tabin for aid again, but is rebuffed for the usual reasons. Zil’dejin gives names to his silver-haired twins, naming the boy Baelin after Baelin Bronzesmith and the girl Erin. Zil’dejin and Derli also collaborate to construct a new staff-scabbard for Rilic, who lost his previous one by throwing it a daemon in Nelfach’s tower. They decide to try and work in an enchantment to create illusory duplicates of Rilic, which will require them to construct the item out of darkwood and include a piece of a mirror from the Hall of a Thousand Mirrors in Q’barra.

Derli also manages to make contact with Kashanshara, the Walker of Dreams. With some convincing he gets her to divulge the location of the Hexblade of the Undying, and learns that he is a blackguard of the Blood of Vol, stationed in the Crimson Monastery in Atur. To many, this blackguard has replaced Marlamin Tarmikos as the most powerful blackguard of the church. The party decides to visit Atur next.

Eyre 9, 1002 YK

With the Phoenix Eclipse restored, its captain back to full health, and replacements hired for the crew, the Collective departs for Atur. Visiting the Crimson Monastery, they attend a service, but Derli’s refusal to participate in the church’s blood-collecting sacrament draws the attention of guards, who bring him into one of many countless back rooms. Here, he meets with a man in a blood red mask, who explains that he is a proxy of Malevanor, High Priest of the Crimson Monastery and one of the most influential individuals in the Blood of Vol. Malevanor’s proxy recounts the agreement Marlamin Tarmikos made with the church to perform an important escort mission of two priests to Mabar and demands that Derli fulfill the promises made. In exchange, his terms change somewhat. While he continues to offer a grand mausoleum for the Eclipse Collective’s deceased, he takes back his offer of further aid and instead blackmails Derli, threatening to reveal details of his existence to King Kaius ir’Wynarn III. Additionally, since Marlamin is now dead, another blackguard must accompany them: this is none other than the hexblade of the Undying pact.

The proxy leaves, and soon Derli meets the hexblade. Though he is clad head to toe in black armour, his posture and proportions suggest that he is a dragonborn. He gives his name as Bronzesmith, captain of an elite knightly order of the church, the Dusktreaders.



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