Eyre 19 – 23, 1002 YK
Conlon begins constructing his phylactery in Morgue‘s shuriken, and fights Vilak Selnar for command of the free Seren barbarians. Vilak beats him, but before he kills Conlon, he is slain by Dralon Ostrennar. Dralon assumes control over the hordes and tells Conlon that if he returns, he has to be prepared to fight his brother. Conlon returns to Grey Titan’s Hold, and meets some of the other party members, who are preparing to go to Dolurrh to intercept the Evening Star Company in order to kill Vice Harbringer and save Indicus. Before they go, Kaleth is suddenly overtaken by Nelfach, whose body he still occupies. Nelfach tries to threaten the party into retrieving the thing he summoned in his tower: a former Horseman of War. Instead, Kaleth volunteers himself for execution, and comes back in the body of his clone.
Eyre 24, 1002 YK
The Eclipse Collective goes to Dolurrh. Kaleth teleports them near the Evening Star Company, and traps them in a Chronocracy maze. They go to investigate, and find they are not actually trapped, and their wizard, Margana ir’Tanast, dispels Kaleth’s maze. Zil’dejin has an argument with Drago Kraal over Vice and his plans, while Vice attempts to deal away his magic items with the others in exchange for assassinations of some high-profile targets on his list. The party eventually leaves empty-handed, and heads to the nameless courtroom. Here, a trial is being held for Hirnahdus. Three parties are vying for his soul: demons of the Keeper, led by Sefizel; the unspeaking reapers, including a few Grim (major) Reapers; and maruts, inevitables enforcing cosmic laws of death. A yamaraj psychopomp, resembling a dragon, is presiding.
The party apparently has a connection to Hirnahdus, and are allowed to speak on equal grounds to the other three parties. They soon discover that Hirnahdus is actually Lucan Vrinsk d’Medani, whose soul was snatched away by the demons to use as a servant. Charon took him away from the demons to make into a Harbinger, and he used his newfound power to kill one of the Reapers. The Reapers want to imprison his soul in Dolurrh as a constant reminder to any who would challenge them, while the maruts want to destroy him for abominable violations of the universal law. The party argues that they owned his soul first, and contend against the other factions involved and the judging psychopomp on this matter.
Eventually they reach an agreement: the demons get the body and the location of one of the Rage Shards, the maruts get to inflict Zil’dejin with a crippling weakness to the power of the atropals so that they can destroy him and Lucan instead, and the Reapers chain Lucan’s ghost to Zil’dejin, permanently visible and impaled with scythes to act as a living reminder. Zil’dejin is dazed by all the power levied into the judgment, but the matter appears to be settled.
Eyre 19, 1002 YK
Conlon, having spent nearly two weeks with Mellifleur the Lichlord learning more about lichdom and the construction of his phylactery (which he has chosen to create in Morgue‘s shuriken, thrown at him during the first duel of the Tournament of Blades), leaves Hopelorn to return to Eberron. He goes to the Seren Islands in Argonnessen to at last meet Vilak Selnar in a duel for leadership over the still-resistant barbarian hordes. Conlon begins the duel with confidence, managing to use magic to force Vilak to drop his sword and shield, but Vilak comes back at Conlon with his fists and pummels him into near-unconsciousness. In his dim state of mind, Conlon has the sense of somebody else stepping in to fight Vilak before he can be finished off. The newcomer wins, slaying Vilak, and Conlon’s vision fades to black.
Eyre 20, 1002 YK
Conlon awakens the next day in a shelter on Totem Beach. He is bandaged with Argon poultices, and there is another in the shelter with him: Conlon’s brother, Dralon Ostrennar. Dralon apparently stepped into the duel when Conlon fell and slew Vilak, assuming control over the barbarians. He warns Conlon that he does not intend to yield any more than Vilak did, calling him a tyrant, and that if Conlon returns to Seren, he had best be prepared for another fight. Conlon confirms his understanding of the situation, and leaves, headed back to Eros.
Eyre 23, 1002 YK
The Eclipse Collective returns to the Eclipse Keep and collects Conlon. They are about to go to Dolurrh to pursue the Evening Star Company and track down Vice Harbringer when Kaleth suddenly convulses and collapses to the ground. Nelfach, the venedaemon sorcerer whose body Kaleth still occupies, has retaken control of his form. Nelfach tries to hold Kaleth’s soul hostage, threatening to destroy it if the party does not cooperate with his wishes. Evidently, the entity summoned in his tower was one of the previous Horsemen of War, likely “Roshmolem the Steel Weaver,” a Horseman who has all but been eradicated from the daemons’ histories.
Backed into a corner, the party agrees to his terms, but Kaleth quickly uses magic to blank his mind in an effort to prevent Nelfach from gaining further control. He quickly instructs the party to kill him, because he has an inactive clone waiting in his demiplane. Nimozaran the Green asks that they not create a mess in the Keep, so they take him outside. On Kaleth’s request, they go to the Lharvion Shrine, and Zil’dejin prepares to execute him next to the altar. Gummy Joe warns them that this is sacrilege, so they move a few feet away, and Zil’dejin beheads Kaleth. The illusion masking Kaleth’s identity dissipates, revealing his monstrous nature. As Zil’dejin drags it away to be disposed of, he hears some whispers of “mad king” in the crowd.
Kaleth does not return until considerably later in the evening, as he has taken the time to prepare a new clone-in-a-jar for himself. When he finally gets back from his demiplane, the party decides to rest for the night.
Eyre 24, 1002 YK
The next day, Kaleth uses his magic to send the party to Dolurrh — specifically, to the location of the Evening Star Company. They arrive in the shadowy wasteland in something similar to a desert. The air is cool but not cold, as well as dry and still. A group of five individuals is visible about 90 yards away, which they identify as the Evening Star Company. They quickly devise a plan in which Kaleth will summon a section of the Chronocracy to trap and confuse them, and separate Vice from the others so they can finish him off and leave. Kaleth summons the maze, making the outer walls into one-way windows, and they move in to observe.
It appears the members are scrambling and separated, as planned, but Conlon sees through the illusion: the Evening Star Company they see through the windows are not real. Kaleth scries on the center of the maze and sees them huddled there, with their wizard, Margana ir’Tanast, having created a bubble of sorts in which the maze does not apply. Realizing they are being scried on, she dispels Kaleth’s summoning. Now free, Drago Kraal storms towards them. The party attempts to play it off as a joke, and while Kraal does not appear to believe them, he appears willing to let it go at this.
Zil’dejin speaks to Drago frankly, telling them that they are there to kill Vice Harbringer. Drago insists that he will not allow the Collective to kill one of his own, just as Zil’dejin wouldn’t let somebody kill a member of his party. Zil’dejin brings up Vice’s intent to kill Jaela Daran, and that he was compelled by the Rage of War. Drago counters that he knows of Vice’s plan and agrees with it, but can’t talk about why. During this argument, they learn that the Evening Star is under the employ of Hektula the Bloody Scribe, who has hired them to get two other components of the ritual to defeat the atropals: two amulets, one of which is found here, and the other they have already found.
While Zil’dejin and Drago argue, Kaleth and Rilic go to speak with Vice. They tell him they really only need his magic items, and he reveals to them that he has collected about fifteen to help him kill arcane magic users. He says he’ll part with all of them if they kill Jaela Daran on his behalf. They naturally refuse, although he again says that it’s justified even if he can’t say why, and also mentions he no longer bears the Mark of War. In lieu of that, he has a list of targets he hasn’t been able to get to since traveling with the Evening Star Company. He offers one of his items for every target killed. The first target, for one of his rings, belongs to the Twelve. They consider this (although Derli adamantly refuses), and ask after his best item. Vice mentions a wand he has, and that it will cost them the death of Queen Aurala ir’Wynarn.
The Collective is opposed to this. Drago refuses to budge, and Zil’dejin believes it best not to antagonize their rival party, since they need them to help with the ritual. The party argues about this internally, growing quite heated before they finally decide to leave the Evening Star Company alone for now and proceed to the nameless courtroom. They find one of the listless spirits wandering the wastes, and discover him to be a Brelish soldier that was impaled during the Starpeaks Invasion, whose body was dragged out of Baator just in time to die with his soul intact. He tells the party he doesn’t know what they’re asking about, and they try a different tack, asking if he’s seen or heard anything unusual. He mentions a dragon that flew by overhead, and indicates the direction.
Kaleth is able to scry on the nameless courtroom with this information, and sees an amphitheater of sorts in which various spirits have come to watch the proceedings. A raised platform at one end supports the creature resembling a blackened dragon covered with feathers — a yamaraj psychopomp, ultimate judge of the dead. There are three circular platforms around a central podium, each holding representatives of a different faction. One holds a number of demons and a human-like figure with white eyes and a back covered in ragged strips of flesh, as though something had been ripped out. Another holds several stone-skinned figures with golden armour. The last holds silent, cloaked shapes, and a couple of mostly-bare skeletal figures with huge scythes. Hirnahdus stands in the middle, wearing tarnished gold-coloured armour and a tattered blue cloak.
They decide to use magic to teleport to the courtroom, but Derli, still distrustful of teleportation, chooses to ride overland with Ruin. They leave him to it, and the rest go to the courtroom, arriving near the back of the stands. As they do so, however, they are beckoned forward by the yamaraj psychopomp. A fourth circular platform appears to stand upon, and they board it. As each arrives, the yamaraj looks to a bird seated beside him next to a huge ledger, resembling a crow with a white mask and four wings. It chirps at him with each party member, allowing the yamaraj to address each by name and identity. The yamaraj mentions that the party is being brought in as another contender for Hirnahdus’ soul because they have a strong connection to it, although he cannot identify precisely why, as the psychopomps’ records of the soul begin only at about his arrival in Dolurrh.
After Derli catches up (and has an encounter with the spirit of Barrok Droranath, who tries to possess Derli and threatens to send the spirits of those he has killed against him), the party is brought up to pace on the trial. The demons, led by the Radiant Idol Sefizel, claim to be representatives of the Keeper, a god of the Dark Six associated with death. It was they who grabbed Hirnahdus’ soul on its way to Dolurrh, and placed it in a new body to act as a servant. Charon’s influence drew Hirnahdus away from them, so they claim that Hirnahdus is their property, stolen by the Horseman of Death. They want to take him back and enslave him. The stone-skinned giants are maruts, a type of Inevitable. They exist to enforce universal laws of death, and hunt those who cheat death by unnatural means. They want to destroy Hirnahdus’ soul for its transgressions. The reapers, seeking to avenge their own, want to imprison Hirnahdus in Dolurrh, never to fade away, acting as a symbol of what happens when the reapers are crossed.
The Collective strives to discover Hirnahdus’ identity, and their connection to him. After some investigation and conversation, Zil’dejin asks the silent Hirnahdus if he is, in fact, Lucan Vrinsk d’Medani. The skeletal face of Hirnahdus responds in the affirmative, and so against Charon‘s suggestion, the party decides not to push for any of these options, instead choosing to claim that they should have control over Hirnahdus’ fate. Their argument begins with the position that, because Lucan traveled with them and they freed his soul from Baator, it should be theirs. The others find this unsatisfactory, however, so Zil’dejin, Kaleth, and Rilic conspire to create a fake contract, suggesting that Lucan’s soul is legally their position. Kaleth draws the contents from Zil’dejin’s “memories” (not real memories) and scribes it, giving the document to Rilic to present dramatically to the court.
This is enough to sway the yamaraj somewhat, but he is not totally convinced, and the other factions seem opposed to this sudden development. The Collective is questioned as to why this contract would give them the right to his soul after death, whether Zil’dejin — as king — would support slavers who presented a similar argument for possession of a slave, whether the memories the contract were taken from are accurate, and more. A cameo by Garmeth Shitorai’s fading spirit is made, in which he attests to the legitimacy of the contract in a shockingly informal manner.
It soon becomes clear that they will not be able to win totally, so they begin to form compromises with the other factions. To Sefizel, they offer Hirnahdus’ body, and the location of one of the Rage Shards. To the reapers, they offer to keep Lucan’s soul with them, anchored to Zil’dejin as a perpetually-visible ghost impaled with scythes to serve as a reminder to the living world rather than the dead. Finally, to the maruts they offer a peculiar compromise: the promise of both Zil’dejin’s and Lucan’s destruction to the atropals Zenza and Suhnen, which is sealed by imposing a crippling vulnerability to negative energy on Zil’dejin. Yamaraj creates this vulnerability, and it is delivered by the maruts as Lucan’s soul is separated from his body.
Zil’dejin settles into a dazed state, overwhelmed by the dark magic just imposed on him, but the party has won the trial, in a sense.