The Hands that Move the World

Deepest Darkness IV: Favours

Eyre 10, 1002 YK

In order to follow the avenue of inciting a coup against Mellifleur the Lichlord in his mortuary city of Hopelorn, the party speaks individually with the five Cabalists who have not agreed to the coup: the orc lich Zogugbu, the unnamed dread wraith with a grudge, The Weeping Widow, the ancient vampire Reisser, and the ghost king Daroon. Each is willing to help, but conditionally. Zogugbu wants revenge on his long-dead clan mates’ descendants, the dread wraith either wants the life of one of the party members or the dead body of Bronzesmith, the Weeping Widow wishes for the aid of an arcane spellcaster in siring a child, Reisser wishes to again become the king he once was, and Daroon wants any magical item of significant power.

The party decides to cooperate with the Weeping Widow first, and Kaleth is used for this task. Once this is done, the party decides to help Reisser by taking him back nearly three thousand years to the time when he was alive, so that they can assassinate his living body and replace him with his later undead self. Kaleth creates a slipgate, but the party is intercepted on their path through the Temporal Prime. They are brought to face the ancient time dragon Culdrathan the Judge, who nearly kills them for violating the sanctity of time before Zil’dejin and Rilic persuade him to stay their sentencing. Their lifelines are rerouted to his chamber (except for Rilic’s, who promises to become Culdrathan’s eyes and ears) and they are sent on their way.

Lharvion 12, -1950 YK

The party arrives in the distant past in Ohr Kaluun, where the still-living King Reisser is about to address his people. The party rests for an hour and then goes to the plaza where he is giving his speech, first booing and jeering him to create a distraction while the Eclipse Collective gets into place. Then they strike, starting a battle that proceeds quickly and involves a great deal of magic and physical force. They defeat the living Reisser and create a distraction for the vampire to take his place, passing it off as a means of killing him so that he could be reborn. They are given his Spell-stealing Rapier and his old spellbook and brought into his palace, where Kaleth is given a temporal diamond from Reisser’s vault.

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


Eyre 10, 1002 YK

Back at the Phoenix Eclipse, the Eclipse Collective meets up with Zil’dejin who was absent for the meeting with the Cabal. Carrying a rough map given to them by Seija, they set out into Hopelorn to find the sanctums of the Cabalists who have yet to pledge support against Mellifleur. Their first destination is the sanctum of Zogugbu, the orc lich.

Zogugbu’s sanctum is a wooden structure, standing out from the surrounding dark stone. It is of an old orcish style, surrounded by wooden pallisade walls and a gate, which forms a bloody eye as they approach. The eye surveys them for a moment before blackened tendons stretch out around the gate, pulling it open and clearing a path to the inner structure. The inner building, resembling an orcish fortress in miniature, is mostly hollow, and they enter into a large room that smells of rot. Zogugbu sits on a mat on the floor, his back turned to the party as he stitches together some dead, tentacled aberration.

Kaleth clears his throat and greets Zogugbu, who holds up a hand for him to wait a moment before finishing the task at hand and finally turning his head. He apparently already knows why they have come, and mentions that Seija has already visited him seeking his support. He explains that he refused because he has no direct objections to the status quo, and that existence under Mellifleur is at least stable. They try to entice him with promises of a share of Mellifleur’s power (as Seija promised), but he claims to have no desire for further power. However, he offers his support if the party performs a favour for him, which he claims will be “far beneath their abilities.” Zogugbu relays the story of his past as a Gatekeeper druid during the daelkyr invasion, when he first took up the mantle of lichdom to fight the aberrations and was cast out by his people for doing so. Apparently, he swore revenge on their descendants, and he wishes for the party to find those descendants and bring their heads back to Zogugbu.

The party is divided on this but leans towards repulsion, to which Zogugbu shrugs and continues his work. The Collective then takes their leave of him, heading next to meet with the dread wraith who was not present at the Cabal meeting and who is said to have a deep-seated grudge against them.

The dread wraith’s sanctum is little more than a pit filled with bones and discarded arms and armour. The bottom is not visible through a thick black smoke which congeals into a humanoid shape as they approach, hovering above the pit. The only physical object visible in the smoke is a skull with two cracks running down its cheekbones, one from the bottom of each eye. It regards them with obvious contempt before finally speaking.

It is quick to reveal its hatred for the party, but refuses to elaborate on why, beyond that they were somehow responsible for its fate. It also will not reveal who it was in life, much to the party’s frustration (and Rilic’s amusement, who seems to enjoy the drama). When they explain why they have come, the dread wraith offers its support on one of two conditions: either one of them surrenders their life to him for one hundred years of torture, or they kill Bronzesmith and bring the body back to the pit for the wraith to occupy. Not wanting to spend any further time here, the party quickly leaves, heading for the sanctum of the Weeping Widow.

The Widow’s sanctum resembles a fine, if small, manor built in a curious architectural style that combines Aundairian and Aereni design. The garden and fountains seem meticulously cared for, but all the plants are dead and the fountains dry. An undead butler, carrying his head in one arm, greets them at the manor’s door, and asks how he should announce them to the Widow. They begin stating their names, but he holds up his head and shakes it, explaining that he must introduce them by their greatest fears.

Kaleth goes first, saying that he fears the Prime Jester gaining control of the timestream. Derli goes next, stating “failure to fulfill my duties.” Zil’dejin follows with “never getting to see my firstborn.” Rilic is last, reluctantly stating “being found out.” The butler accepts this and ushers them in, introducing the Weeping Widow to them as “never meeting the goals she set for herself in life.” They are brought into a parlour, resembling the sort kept by Aundairian nobility. When they bring up the topic of the coup against Mellifleur, she gently explains that she is as happy as she could be in her situation, and that overthrowing Mellifleur is likely to just cause chaos and upset. To her, more power or change are not goals worth pursuing, as any objective she has for herself will not be any more achievable if Mellifleur is defeated.

Taking a different tack, the party probes her for the goals she set in life that she has not fulfilled. She reveals that she has always wanted a child, but she died before she could have one. After many years of searching and studying, she believes she has perfected a ritual that will achieve this goal. To complete it, however, requires the assistance of a powerful arcane spellcaster, and of the Collective members gathered, only Kaleth appears to fit the bill. If he helps her with the ritual, she offers to pledge her support to the coup. With some coaxing, Kaleth decides to go along with the plan, and goes up the red marble staircase with the Weeping Widow while the butler sees the party out. They decide to visit Reisser’s sanctum while Kaleth “assists” the Weeping Widow.

Reisser’s sanctum resembles a small, well-appointed palace, made mostly of white marble. When the party approaches, they are welcomed by the vampire, who is drinking from his chalice, revealed to contain wine and not blood. They are brought into a sort of sitting area with lounging couches, where Reisser is about to consume the blood of a living creature and offers Derli the chance to consume its soul once he is done. Derli refuses several times, and Reisser drains an elf (after Derli protests against him drinking the blood of a dwarf), afterwards giving Zil’dejin an opportunity to choke the man to vent his frustrations.

He then cuts to the chase: he is willing to support their efforts against Mellifleur if they perform a service for him first. Reisser was once arcane king of the long-dead archipelago kingdom Ohr Kaluun, and although the kingdom has fallen into the control of Riedra he desires to return to that role. He knows that Kaleth is a chronomancer, so his ideal scenario involves going back in time and effectively usurping himself. Failing that, he says that the successors of his kingdom still exist in Ohr Kaluun, and he could take charge of them and wrest power from the Riedrans.

The Collective considers this while they rejoin Kaleth and go to see the last member of the Cabal available to them: the ghost Daroon. His sanctum looks like a relocated piece of a castle, the style typical of older castles found in Breland. It is guarded by a small army of phantoms, who allow the party into the throne room to speak with the ghost king Daroon. In their talks with Daroon, they learn that the Blood of Vol priests have already been to see him. He also reveals that he is in fact the ghost of King Daroon of Galifar, the king responsible for building the Starpeaks Observatory as part of his fascination with the mystic. He claims to be a great scholar of arcane mysteries, and his offer to the party is simple enough: he is willing to pledge support in exchange for an item of sufficient arcane power. Following up on what they discussed in the meeting with the Cabal, he makes a secondary offer, stating that if they give the Rod of Order or the Star of Chaos to him he will reveal to them a mystery that could change the course of their fates forever.

Once again, the party states that they will consider Daroon’s offer, and leaves his sanctum to converse. They decide to align themselves with Reisser next, specificially the time-assassination, but Derli refuses to have anything to do with it and heads back to the Phoenix Eclipse. The others are met by Narcisa, who accuses them of conspiring against Mellifleur and tries to send them back on their predetermined task without further conflict. However, the lich Rohesia creates a distraction elsewhere in Hopelorn that pulls Narcisa away, allowing them to continue on.

Back at the Phoenix Eclipse, Derli converses briefly with Bronzesmith, who has already concluded his task in Hopelorn and is awaiting their departure. He persuades Derli to go back and help the other members of the party, claiming that it is Derli’s duty, just as it was Bronzesmith’s to protect the undead priests. Derli rejoins the others as they reenter Reisser’s sanctum. When he arrives, Kaleth creates a slipgate, and the party fights off a temporal stalker before entering the Temporal Prime. Reisser is given Kaleth’s hourglass to guide him along his lifeline, and the party attempts to follow, but are pulled aside by a sudden diverging current in the timestream. The crystal walls of the Temporal Prime seem to open to accommodate them, and they soon end up in a cavernous space where the mistsmoke stands still. The chamber is littered with bodies, all of them frozen in time. At the center, a gargantuan scaly shape unfurls, revealing an ancient dragon, its scales crackling with power.

The dragon is Culdrathan the Judge, and he has brought the party here to pass judgment upon them for meddling with the natural order of time to an unforgivable degree. In particular, he singles out Kaleth, Zil’dejin, and Derli, the latter mainly for their business in Tharkul Khan and their hands in releasing the Phane. It soon becomes clear that this is not a trial, but rather an inquisition — Culdrathan has already decided upon their guilt, he is now deciding on their sentencing. After each of the accused state their case, including Kaleth’s failed attempts to convince the dragon that they can defeat the Phane, Culdrathan nods, and offers to send Rilic and Indicus back to their timelines so that they will not be party to what is about to happen. They refuse, and Culdrathan exhales deeply, sending all but Kaleth forward in time and leaving them alone.

This begins a battle which quickly shifts into Culdrathan’s favour. With several of the present party members rendered unconscious and the rest heavily wounded, Zil’dejin manages to speak, and with Rilic’s help, convinces Culdrathan that there is a greater threat to the timestream that the party is actually capable of combating: Zenza, the atropal. Culdrathan agrees to stay their sentencing until they can confront Zenza, but makes it abundantly clear that this is a temporary measure. He reroutes their lifelines to his own chamber so that he can keep track of them, with the exception of Rilic, who manages to persuade the dragon that he can be its personal agent in watching over the party. With this, they are sent back on their way.


Lharvion 12, -1950 YK

In the distant past of Ohr Kaluun, the party arrives on a day in which the still-living King Reisser is about to address his people from his palace. The vampire Reisser believes this to be the perfect time to assassinate him, because he wishes for his death to be in full view of the public so that his return in his present state will be more believable.

The party takes an hour to rest, and then sets out for the plaza. When they arrive, they find Reisser about to give his speech from a balcony. To help get the others in position, Kaleth begins jeering and heckling the king, who floats down from his balcony to confront the dissenter. Zil’dejin facilitates a Derli drop as the fight breaks out, hurling Derli into Reisser who is protected from spells via a globe of invulnerability, but not so much from physical attacks. The fight is brief with a great deal of magic and blows exchanged in a short time, including Reisser’s signature spell, last resort. He is finally laid low, however, and Rilic and Kaleth quickly set about creating a distraction with a setup for the undead Reisser to appear as if he was coming back from the dead.

The newly re-crowned king passes the whole thing off as a way for him to achieve greater power, which confuses the crowd, but seems to satisfy them well enough. As thanks to the party, he gives his Spell-stealing Rapier to Rilic and his old spellbook to Kaleth. He then invites the party into his palace, where among his various treasures, he finds a temporal diamond to give to Kaleth.

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Manannan

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