Lharvion 12, -1950 YK
The Eclipse Collective prepares to travel back to the present day, but before they do, they meet a time-travelling Chronocracy merchant, who trades Kaleth a ring that will extend his time stop spell for Reisser’s spellbook. Most of the party cautions him against this, but he makes the trade anyway, and they return to the present.
Eyre 10, 1002 YK
Arriving a few seconds after they left, the Collective parts ways with Reisser and returns to the Phoenix Eclipse. Bronzesmith speaks to Zil’dejin for a time, and Rilic meets with Calyna, the only living necromancer in Mellifleur’s Cabal. He learns she was inspired by him during her time in the University of Wynarn, and as thanks for his example in being expelled for tampering with forbidden magics (not actually true), she gives him a journal, given to her by Rilic’s brother Albard. Rilic studies the journal while the others sleep, learning secrets of wand use and reading about the start of Albard’s search for the legendary Wand of Wonder.
Eyre 11, 1002 YK
After they have rested, Bronzesmith wakes the party and brings them to see Narcisa, Mellifleur’s agent, who is waiting on the deck. She watches over them and gives Frances d’Lyrandar directions to the Draining Crypts, Tristuro’s stronghold. On the way, Derli enters a religious bonding ceremony with Bronzesmith. When they arrive, they are met by a wraith, through which Tristuro addresses them and pledges his support if Kaleth assists him with a small task.
The party agrees, and Kaleth enters with Indicus as an escort. As they walk through the Crypt, they are joined by Girrrth, who, when asked how he got in, answers only with a shrug and the words “Girrrth walked.” They are brought to a crypt with sixty-foot-tall sarcophagi, and Kaleth is told to channel the necrocarnum through his hands to activate some sort of ancient magic there. In doing so, he causes the sarcophagi to open, which fills him with a sick joy. Immense skeletal beings — the tzitzimitl, said in giant myth to be apocalyptic entities — emerge from the sarcophagi. Kaleth is quickly ushered out with Indicus and Girrrth. Just as Narcisa is chastising them for helping Tristuro instead of killing him, and ordering the Collective to get back inside, the whole structure begins falling apart. Suhnen, the atropal who is the Second Empty King, is awakening.
Girrrth charges back in but is brought back out by the party, who sustain some injuries from the tzitzimitl attacking them. The huge undead attempt to pull the Phoenix Eclipse back as it flies away, but Conlon, Kaleth, and Kaleth’s time-clone overcharge the elemental that powers their airship and they escape, at the cost of the elemental’s life. Adrift in the darkness of Mabar, they shift back to Eberron, but immediately begin falling into the ocean. Kaleth buys some time by reversing gravity to suspend the ship in midair just as Tethris appears to attack them, carrying a totem that promises aid from his draconic patron. Before he can do much, Conlon pulls him to the deck, and Rilic paralyzes him, imprisons him with a scroll found in Zenzatun, and steals his totem.
Before the ship falls into the ocean, Conlon finally attunes to the Rod of Order in an instant (a power specific to the Rod) and channels its power into the ship, causing them to rocket forward. They attempt to shift back into Mabar but the Rod overtakes the shifting circle, putting them instead in Daanvi, the Perfect Order, and destroying the shifting circle. Kaleth uses his magic to warp the party back to the Eclipse Keep, while Derli takes the crew members and bystanders into the Cinder Furnace. From the Eclipse Keep, the others shift back to Hopelorn, where they end up in the Circle of Silent Screams just as Mellifleur is about to be challenged by the rebelling Cabalists. The party switches allegiances at the last moment as Conlon gives the Rod of Order to Mellifleur.
Mellifleur destroys the rebel Cabalists (except for The Weeping Widow, who is spared because she stakes Reisser), and gives their power to the party instead, raising their mythic abilities. He also offers Conlon a seat in the Cabal as thanks, with the promise that he will aid him down his path to lichdom. Conlon accepts this, and Mellifleur vows further aid now that he has been empowered, but to do so he will still require a significant power of death, just as Mordakhesh the Shadowsword did.
Lharvion 12, -1950 YK
The vampire Reisser gives Kaleth a temporal diamond from his vault, a gift given to him by an ambassador of the Chronocracy. Kaleth uses the temporal diamond to open another slipgate, but before the party can enter, a woman emerges, dressed in Chonocracy chronomancer robes and carrying something resembling a briefcase. She explains that she is a time-travelling merchant, and that she specializes in wares to suit other chronomancers, which is why she was drawn to Kaleth’s slipgate. Her stock is somewhat depleted at this point, but she offers up a ring that will prolong the duration of Kaleth’s time stop spell by six seconds of subjective time. Kaleth trades Reisser’s spellbook for this Ring of Time Extension despite warnings from some other members of the party, particularly Zil’dejin, that this is a poor trade. Rilic records the trade in a journal of “Kaleth’s transgressions against time” that he has apparently started keeping since the party encountered Culdrathan the Judge, and the party steps into the slipgate.
Eyre 10, 1002 YK
The Eclipse Collective returns to the present day in Hopelorn mere seconds after they left by passing back through Kaleth’s slipgate that was created to get them to the past in the first place. Reisser thanks the party again and returns to his sanctum, while the Collective returns to the Phoenix Eclipse to rest. When they arrive, they find the Blood of Vol priests and Bronzesmith waiting. Zil’dejin converses briefly with Bronzesmith, who asks some more strange questions of Zil’dejin. Zil’dejin inquires about the Dusktreaders, but Bronzesmith refuses to reveal much beyond that he is their leader, and that they are an order of knights within the church.
Because he does not need to rest, Bronzesmith agrees to keep watch over the airship while the party sleeps. Just before the party prepares to go below deck, however, he notifies them that somebody is approaching. Calyna, the only living member of Mellifleur’s Cabal, is brought to the airship on a sedan chair carried by zombies. She is allowed to come on deck by the party, where she offers Rilic a small, leather-bound book. Calyna explains that she is a year younger than Rilic, and was, like him, a student at the University of Wynarn in Fairhaven. Apparently, Rilic was expelled from the University, and the rumours surrounding his expulsion claimed that he had tampered with magics forbidden by the University’s masters. In reality, Rilic was expelled for cheating, but he makes no mention of this.
Calyna was inspired by Rilic’s dogged pursuit of magic, even at risk to himself and his education. She mentions vaguely that her departure from the University of Wynarn was for similar reasons, and that if it were not for Rilic’s example, she wouldn’t be where she is today — a self-proclaimed master of necromancy. After leaving the University, she went looking for Rilic, and eventually caught up to his brother, who gave her a journal to pass to Rilic if she ever encountered him. Rilic takes the journal from her, and Calyna thanks him again before leaving.
While the rest of the party sleeps, Rilic studies the journal, finding it to be written in some sort of cipher that magically rearranges itself when he reads it. It is a journal of the beginnings of his brother Albard’s journey to find the legendary Wand of Wonder, but is clearly written with Rilic as the intended audience. It details the start of his search, the leads he has found, and mentions that another volume is to come later after he launches the real expedition. It doubles as a manual, containing some of the techniques Albard developed to master the use of wands. Rilic studies this while the rest of the party sleeps, taking only a short rest himself but learning how to use wands without attuning himself to them.
Eyre 11, 1001 YK
After approximately ten hours, the party is gathered again by Bronzesmith, who announces that Narcisa has arrived at the airship and is demanding their presence. The party goes up to meet her, and learn that she has returned to guide them to the Draining Crypts, the stronghold Tristuro has built for himself. The unspoken but understood subtext is that Narcisa is also there to effectively babysit the party and prevent them from trying to turn the Cabal against Mellifleur any further.
The Phoenix Eclipse lifts off, flying according to Narcisa’s directions. On the way there, Bronzesmith speaks with Derli and expresses a desire to escape the madness of the Tournament of Blades and to reconcile problems between their faiths. He wishes to bring the Blood of Vol to Eros, and to form an alliance between the Dusktreaders and the Hammer of St. Derli. Derli is reluctant at first but comes to see things Bronzesmith’s way, and enters into a small religious bonding ceremony in which their blood is mixed in a small vessel, and vials of the mixture are given to each of Bronzesmith and Derli.
Before long they approach the faintly red form of the Draining Crypts in the darkness, glowing with the illuminating sarcophagi stolen from Hopelorn. There is a landing point of sorts, a cave-like area that provides the only point of entry to the central structure of the Draining Crypts. Here, the smashed-together architecture of Hopelorn gives way to the original structure of the tomb beneath. After they land and disembark, the form of a wraith appears before them, acting as a mouthpiece for Tristuro. It announces that Tristuro has been scrying on Hopelorn, and knows that they are planning for a coup against Mellifleur. Tristuro offers his support, provided they do something for him. He wants Kaleth to come inside the Draining Crypts and perform a small task, which he says will take no longer than two hours, at which point the chronomancer will be returned to the party.
The party agrees, and with some negotiation, convinces Tristuro’s wraith to allow them to send Indicus in alongside Kaleth. They are given potions to drink which blind them temporarily, and then are brought inside the Draining Crypts. As they walk, they find Girrrth in step beside them, also blind. When the wraith questions how Girrrth got inside the Crypts, he replies with a shrug and “Girrrth walked.” The wraith seems to accept this, and allows it to accompany them.
Back outside the Crypts, the rest of party bides their time. Derli takes some time to examine the stone of the doors leading inside the original tomb, and discovers that it is giant in origin, predating the Giant Empire. He believes the doors were wrought by the eldritch giants, similar to Illandyano.
After about forty-five minutes, the blindness potions wear off on Kaleth, Indicus, and Girrrth. They are standing in a passage that is partially open on one side with windows to a massive crypt, running about seventy feet from floor to ceiling. Running nearly the entire height of the chamber are six towering sarcophagi, one of which is open and apparently empty. Tristuro — the lich himself — stands with the three party members, marveling at the scale of the tomb. Indicus and Girrrth are made to wait in the passage and watch as Tristuro leads Kaleth to the center of the crypt with the sarcophagi. Now that he has entered the room, Kaleth can see that the floor is covered with intricate shallow engravings that spiral outwards from a central circle.
Tristuro leads him into the circle and produces a staff made of a smooth black stone, which he hands to Kaleth. Kaleth is instructed to hold the staff against the middle of the circle and channel his necrocarnum power in his hands, which he does. The circle begins to rise up into the air, and black sigils slowly fade in on the still-closed sarcophagi, plainly visible despite the surrounding darkness. The room begins to shake as the necrocarnum flows outwards, and the sarcophagi threaten to open. Despite this, Kaleth continues his channeling, even as they open wide and strange violet gasses pour outwards from within.
When all the sarcophagi have opened, immense skeletal figures crusted with rock drift out of the sarcophagi, and the Draining Crypts go eerily still. They turn their attention to Kaleth but do not act, prompting Tristuro to quickly usher him out of the room. He administers the blindness potions once again and the three party members are escorted out of the crypts with the promise of Tristuro’s aid. Despite the obvious terror that is about to be unleashed, Kaleth feels a sick sense of happiness deep within him.
Joining the others outside, they are quickly scolded by Narcisa, who demands that they get back in the Draining Crypts and kill Tristuro as they originally agreed on. They argue about this for some time, until the Crypts shake again, more violently this time. Narcisa is momentarily distracted, and Zil’dejin mutters “I really hope this doesn’t get a lot worse for us.”
Sure enough, it does. The Draining Crypts begin ripping apart at the seams, and Narcisa charges inside to investigate. She is followed by Girrrth, although he takes a different path than Narcisa as he enters, finding himself in a huge room that appears to have also been part of the original giant tomb. Zil’dejin, Conlon, Kaleth, and Indicus go after Girrrth while Derli and Rilic remain on the Phoenix Eclipse. Girrrth flies into a rage as the skeletal beings smash into the room, but Kaleth throws up a wall of force to stop him. He pounds against the barrier, but to ensure he remains in place, Conlon raises black tendrils from the ground to restrain him.
Kaleth identifies the skeletal creatures as tzitzimitl, semi-mythological harbingers of the apocalypse from ancient giant history said to consume entire stars in preparation for the end of days. With the help of the other party members present in Zenzatun, he is reminded of prophetic warnings of six dead angels ushering the Second Empty King into the world. With this, the nature of the tomb is revealed: it is Suhnentun, tomb of Suhnen, the Second Empty King. The party manages to convince Girrrth to run away with them. Kaleth is blasted by an eye beam fired by one of the tzitzimitl, but survives and creates a small wormhole to get back to the airship with Indicus. Conlon teleports some of the distance and sprints the rest of the way, but Zil’dejin and Girrrth are caught in the supernaturally intense darkness created by the tzitzimitl. The cold seeps into Zil’dejin’s body, temporarily incapacitating him, but Girrrth carries him back to the airship. Zil’dejin is rendered unconscious along the way, but they all make it back to the ship.
The Phoenix Eclipse takes off but eventually stops. The party realizes that the six tzitzimitl, Tristuro sitting on one of their shoulders, are pulling it back with dark magic. Tristuro appears to have had his personality altered significantly by the recent events, and screams something about the coming return of the Third Empty King and, with it, the being called Atropus. Kaleth, Kaleth’s time-clone, and Conlon rush to the fire elemental ring and pump a tremendous amount of arcane power into it, causing it to burn white hot and blast the ship forward. They careen into the darkness until the Draining Crypts are no longer in sight, at which point the elemental burns itself out, leaving the ship without a power source. At this point, the Collective decides to plane shift the Phoenix Eclipse back into Eberron. The shift is successful, but the ship has no power and threatens to fall into the ocean below them.
Kaleth manages to reverse gravity around the center of the ship, which is sufficient to suspend it above the water for about a minute’s time. As he focuses, however, he is nearly countered and comes under attack by a newcomer: the Brass Knight, Tethris. As he flies around on dragon wings, he holds a huge dragon’s fang aloft, smugly proclaiming that he has earned a favour from his patron that he can call in to destroy the party. Before he can do so, however, Conlon pulls him to the deck with arcane force and Rilic paralyzes him with his wand, seizing the totem that he carried. Once this is done, a strange sound is heard, and the party looks up to see a black tear in the sky, the huge faces of the tzitzimitl peering out from within.
Desperate to escape again, the party turns to Conlon, who at long last attunes to the Rod of Order. The process is nearly instantaneous and extremely damaging to his body, but he survives, and, hovering a few feet off the ground, channels its raw power directly into the ring that once held the fire elemental. The ship bursts with silver light and rockets forward. As they fly, Rilic reads from a scroll discovered in the hoard of offerings in Zenzatun, imprisoning Tethris in a miniature library made of jade, which Rilic pockets.
The party attempts another plane shift for the Phoenix Eclipse, but the Rod of Order has strange effects on the ingrained magic, and they shift into Daanvi, the Perfect Order. The shift also overpowers the shifting circle, destroying it and preventing further attempts of the same. As they fly through Daanvi for a time, Conlon cuts his supply of power, and the shift continues to coast forward at high speeds. Realizing they are in dire straits, they gather up the party and the crew. Derli opens a portal to the Cinder Furnace and takes the crew members to relative safety, while Kaleth shifts the others back to the Eclipse Keep.
They speak with Nimozaran the Green, quickly apprising him of the situation, and he suggests that they speak with their contacts in Mellifleur’s Cabal to help resolve the matter of the second atropal before it gets out of hand, like the first one. They agree, and use the teleportation circle to return to Hopelorn. They are immediately pulled into the Circle of Silent Screams, where Mellifleur sits idly with his still-loyal Cabalists, awaiting the forthcoming coup. He condemns the party for rallying against them and unambiguously gives them the blame for awakening the Second Empty King.
As the rebellious Cabal members — Seija, Rohesia, Calyna, The Weeping Widow, Reisser, and Tristuro — burst into the room, the party makes a last-minute shift in allegiance, mainly initiated by Conlon. Conlon breaks his attunement with the Rod of Order and gives it to Mellifleur, who uses its power, coupled with the power inherent in his lair and that given to him by his bond with his Cabalists, to literally liquefy the rebels with terrifying magic. Reisser survives, using some sort of vampiric charm held in one hand, which protects himself and the Widow. However, he is shortly after staked by the Weeping Widow who has successfully attempted to return to Mellifleur’s good graces.
Mellifleur promises to help the party in defeating both of the atropals, but states that he will still need a power of death, as the party initially planned. He also offers Conlon one of the now-vacant seat on his Cabal as thanks for giving him the Rod of Order, and also vows to start him down the path to becoming a lich. His seat appears in the Circle of Silent Screams, a throne of wood shaped like a dragon, draped with assorted furs. Finally, the party is given the lingering power from the destruction of the Cabalist rebels, raising their mythic abilities.