Eyre 24, 1002 YK
The party leaves the nameless courtroom in Dolurrh, following Conlon north towards the Chasm of Forgotten Echoes, where there is a manifest zone they can use to travel back to Eberron in the sudden and unexplained absence of Kaleth. They drag along the still-dazed Zil’dejin, with Hirnahdus’ ghost attached to him. On the road north they are intercepted by Sefizel and two of his demons, who demand the surrender of the soul against the ruling of the psychopomps. A fight breaks out, in which the party sustains heavy injuries but manages to slay both of the demons. Sefizel is occupied by the sudden appearance of a rogue Grim Reaper, who does not agree with his peers and wants to destroy Hirnahdus’ soul. Sefizel does not want to allow this and attacks the Reaper, and is nearly killed in the attempt. He flees, swearing vengeance on the party and leaving them alone with the Reaper.
The party attempts to run away. Girrrth charges at the Reaper while Rilic, Conlon, and Indicus try to flee past. The reaper slays Indicus and Girrrth in one quick motion. Derli grabs Zil’dejin and escapes to the Cinder Furnace while Conlon flees to the Astral Plane using his Robe of Stars, and Rilic runs away on foot. The Reaper toys with Rilic for a while before some other Grim Reapers show up, prompting him to first whisper something in Indicus’ dead ears and then run away. The other Reapers to pursue. Rilic is left alone, and takes Girrrth’s belt, putting it in his extradimensional sleeve. Indicus awakens, his skin and genasi fire now ghostly white. He no longer appears to be breathing. Conlon returns from the Astral Plane after briefly consulting with Eltimar, and they continue heading towards the Chasm of Forgotten Echoes.
Meanwhile, Derli takes Zil’dejin to his daemon blade-ship, the Testament of Sin. The ship does not have a power source, so Derli offers himself, and they go to the Drowning Court. Derli meets with Charon again, who informs him that a strong body is needed to host Lucan’s soul (since the old one was lost) and demands free access for the Horseman of Death’s daemons in Derli’s domain as payment for the inconvenience. Derli agrees, and Charon sends him back, but takes Zil’dejin with Lucan’s ghost up to the central fortress. Derli goes and fetches Girrrth’s dead body, but before he brings it back, he goes to the White Mountain, which Daroon previously asked him to look into. He faces numerous hazards, mainly from the corrosive white soul-mist that gives the mountain its name, but reaches its heart. He discovers it is likely the tomb of the Third Empty King — the last atropal that has not yet awakened. He quickly leaves and returns to Charon, bringing back Girrrth’s body. Her daemons reshape it to look exactly like Lucan, save for the amber-coloured lines in his flesh. The spirit is then replaced in the body, allowing Lucan to truly live for the first time in years.
Back in Dolurrh, Conlon encounters a dilapidated building resembling his death magic academy in Eros. He goes to investigate and discovers that it is a trap set by two hexblades of the Tournament of Blades: Cassianus of the Shadow Pact, and Iskandar of the Symbiont (daelkyr) Pact. They seem to be testing his strength with aberrant creatures they have created, which they call “shadowmorphs.” As the creatures attack Conlon, Cassianus and Iskandar escape in a giant worm summoned from a symbiont ring on Iskandar’s finger. Rilic and Indicus soon join, and they fight off the creatures. Conlon considers going after the pair of hexblades, but on Rilic’s advice, decides against it.
Eyre 24, 1002 YK
Still in the nameless courtroom in Dolurrh following the trial of Hirnahdus, the Eclipse Collective takes stock of their surroundings. Kaleth and “Kaleth the Green” (from the timeline in which Kaleth holds the role of Nimozaran the Green in Lakeside) are nowhere to be found. Zil’dejin’s silver scales have blackened around the edges, and Lucan’s ghost is tethered to him, riddled with spectral scythes. Zil’dejin himself has a dazed look on his face, still in shock after all that has happened to him in the past few hours. This leaves Derli, Conlon, Rilic, Girrrth and Indicus still able to act. Without Kaleth, the party has no easy means of returningo to Eberron. Conlon informs the others that he knows of two manifest zones (points where planes overlap) they can use to return. The first is visible from the nameless courtroom, and is essentially a pass through a mountain range called the Chasm of Forgotten Echoes. The other is near the Fortress of Still Hearts, which Conlon has not visited, but knows of from the Eclipse Collective’s history. He is somewhat uncertain of its location relative to them, but believes he could find it. They discuss it for a short while and decide to head towards the former. Indicus stays behind to rest a short while, but insists he will catch up to the others later.
The remaining four take to what looks to be a shattered cobblestone road to the north, dragging the dazed Zil’dejin-Lucan combo behind them. After they have been traveling for a few hours, they meet three individuals traveling the same broken road in the opposite direction. They are led by Sefizel, the Radiant Idol from the trial, and he has brought two demons with him. One of these demons stands about twelve feet tall, with pale skin, bat-like wings, and a face frozen in a mocking expression of sorrow. The other is about nineteen feet in height, with deep red skin, elaborate armour, and great antler-like horns from which hang numerous bodies and trophies. They are each armed, and carrying their weapons. Sefizel is also wielding his two-sided Khyber shard sword.
Sefizel explains that they are intercepting the party because they have no intentions of upholding the psychopomp’s ruling. They have already deposited the body somewhere safely, and now seek to take Hirnahdus’ spirit. What follows is a tense attempt at negotiation, in which Sefizel reveals his nature as a Radiant Idol: he was a solar angel in the radiant host, but was cast out from Syrania for his faith in the Keeper, and is now perhaps the msot powerful worshiper of the god of death. He has no ability or desire to separate Lucan in any way other than just killing Zil’dejin. The party refuses to agree with this, but the only other offer Sefizel makes is to delay his attempt on Zil’dejin’s life in exchange for the location of another Rage Shard. Conlon attempts to scare Sefizel into backing down, but is not successful in intimidating the former angel. The party will not reveal the location of another shard, so Derli summons his axe to attack the demons, beginning combat.
The first to enter the fray is the red-skinned deathdrinker demon, carrying in its many-fingered hands a broadsword larger than Girrrth. As it charges into the party’s lines, they can feel the draining aura of death around it, sucking away their life force just by its presence. It meets Girrrth in combat while Conlon makes an effort to prevent Sefizel from charging, summoning black tendrils from the ground to bind his legs and arms. The spell is successful, but Sefizel reveals that he can control his twin-bladed sword mentally, and sends it spinning through the air to attack Conlon. At about the same time, the bat-winged sorrowsworn demon flies over the black tendrils, landing next to the deathdrinker and adding its own complications to the fight: surrounding it is a chorus of whispers, some telling tales of past failures and sacrifices that meant nothing, others speaking of the futility of struggling against fate in the presence, and more still hinting at the horrors to come in the future. When it lands, it demonstrates an ability to amplify subsets of these whispers, turning up the horrible stories of the past to the point where Girrrth is overwhelmed by hopelessness, unable to move or act.
The deathdrinker lays into the stunned Girrrth, while Derli keeps the sorrowsworn from moving away, despite its attempts to react to the repeated lightning blasts against it delivered by Rilic’s wand and Conlon’s ring. Conlon continues to contend with the whirling blade of Sefizel, but his efforts cause him to lose concentration on the black tendrils, allowing Sefizel to stand free and draw a crystalline longbow from the air itself. He begins firing pitch-black arrows into the party’s ranks while his sword continues to wreak havoc. Derli is forced to break away from the sorrowsworn to protect a helpless Girrrth from the deathdrinker, leaving the sorrowsworn free to attack Rilic. Nearby, Conlon stumbles backwards and collapses after sustaining numerous injuries from Sefizel’s blade. The deathdrinker’s eyes are drawn to his bloodfire bronzemail, burning with bright crimson fire. It disengages from Girrrth and a now-unconscious Derli in an attempt to physically cut Conlon out of the armour, so that it can put the bronzemail on its horns as a trophy.
Rilic struggles against the sorrowsworn until he finally frees nearly every charge from his wand of magic missiles. The resulting blast of force kills the sorrowsworn, causing its body to fall back and dissolve into the same ash-like substance found everywhere else on this plane. This creates a small storm of ash that is enough to sway Sefizel’s aim away from Derli’s unconscious body, preventing a shot that would otherwise have killed him. This also distracts the deathdrinker who is attempting to dice Conlon’s unconscious body, and for a moment, hides the arrival of a newcomer: one of the Grim Reapers present at the trial. It hovers in the air, facing Sefizel with a scythe in one hand and completely unmoving. What begins is an argument between Sefizel and the Reaper, but because the Reapers do not communicate with words, the party hears only Sefizel’s side. From the sounds of it, the Reaper has gone rogue, and has come to claim Lucan’s soul against the wishes of the psychopomps.
The argument buys Girrrth and Rilic enough time to stop the deathdrinker. Girrrth runs forward and savages the demon, wounding him for Rilic to finish him off with one precise thrust of his staff-rapier. Conlon narrowly avoids death form being chopped up, but is hanging on the brink due to his existing wounds. Derli manages to stagger to his feet and attends Conlon, healing his wounds enough to stave off death. At the same time, Sefizel retrieves his floating sword and attempts to attack the reaper. His attacks seem to have little effect, but the reaper nearly destroys the Radiant Idol in a few lightning-fast strokes of his scythe. Sefizel quickly flees, teleporting away, but not before telling the party he will return for revenge.
At this point, the reaper turns to the battered party, just as Indicus catches up to them from down the road. The reaper again communicates its desire to take Lucan’s spirit against the wishes of the other Grim Reapers. Derli argues with the party about giving up Lucan, but soon it becomes clear that the reaper wants to destroy the ghost, rather than imprison it. Rilic bolts, running past the reaper, who does not turn to regard him as he goes. Conlon follows suit, cutting a hole in space and stepping through, roughly keeping pace with Rilic. Indicus conjures a plume of flame and passes through it, arriving right next to the Reaper. The fleeing party members prompts Girrrth to attack, and he rushes forward. He manages to do a small amount of damage before the Reaper turns, killing Indicus in front of Girrrth and then killing Girrrth immediately after, all in one fluid movement.
Derli, caught on the opposite side of the Reaper from Rilic and Conlon, grabs Zil’dejin and drags him through a portal to the Cinder Furnace. Conlon swallows himself in his Robe of Stars, escaping into the Astral Plane, leaving Rilic to sprint away. Right before Conlon disappears, Rilic shouts, “If I die, tell the world I cheated death!” Conlon nods and grunts agreement before vanishing.
Rilic keeps sprinting as the reaper toys with him, blasting him with necrotic forces and slowly but inexorably chasing him. When all seems lost, Rilic notes several other dark figures appearing — other Reapers. As they do, the rogue Reaper prepares to flee, but first it visits Indicus’ body and whispers something in his dead ears. The rogue Reaper teleports away, and is soon followed by the others, leaving Rilic alone with the corpses of two of his companions. Indicus, his flame extinguished, is beginning to turn from red to white from the Reaper’s magic, but Rilic ignores it to take Girrrth’s belt and stow it in his extradimensional sleeve. He also takes Girrrth’s axe, though he is less interested in it.
Soon, Indicus begins moving again. His skin has gone completely white, and his natural fires are burning again, although they, too, are a ghostly white. Rilic helps him to his feet. At the same time, in the Astral Plane, Conlon consults with Eltimar through his sword. He asks some questions about the Reapers and their situation, and learns that Charon will likely be able to help and will, in fact, accept the spirit of Lucan alone — but with cost. He returns from the Astral Plane and rejoins Indicus and Rilic. The three of them continue northward to the Chasm of Forgotten Echoes.
In the Cinder Furance, Derli instructs Zelishkar of the Bitter Flame to prepare his new warship, which he has decided to name the Testament of Sin. Zelishkar replies that the vessel requires a power source, and that they had intended to use an activated Rage Shard for this purpose, but the one supposedly in the teardrop palace was fake. Derli insists that there’s no time for those considerations, and that he will offer himself as a power source instead. He waits an hour for the daemons to finish preparations, then drags Zil’dejin to the Testament of Sin, awaiting them just outside the palace in the caldera. A group of venedaemons, led by “Kaleth Prime,” ushers them onto the ship. Derli is hooked into “the apparatus,” an engine resembling a bone claw that draws the essence of his very soul to propel the vehicle into motion.
They go to the Drowning Court. As soon as they disembark, Derli throws Zil’dejin into the water and jumps in after him. Charon informs him that she can, in fact, separate Hirnahdus from Zil’dejin, but to do so, they require a new body for him. Since the demons took the old one, a new body of suitable strength is required. Charon suggests using Girrrth’s corpse, and Derli decides to retrieve it. For the inconvenience, Charon also demands “open borders” with the Cinder Furnace, allowing her daemons to move through Derli’s domain freely, which he agrees to. After spending another subjective week feeling like he is drowning, Derli again boards the Testament of Sin. Charon, meanwhile, takes Zil’dejin up to the central castle.
The venedaemons send Derli back to Dolurrh with some shaky magic, arriving near Girrrth’s body. The others are already long gone, having left Girrrth’s body lying at the side of the broken road. Derli collects the body, and they return to the vessel. Before delivering it to Charon, however, Derli straps himself back into the apparatus and has the venedaemons fly it to the White Mountain, which Daroon previously asked him to investigate. They arrive at White Mountain, and Derli ascends it, fighting his way through the corrosive white soul-mist that gives the mountain its name, spontaneously-generated undead, and huge black voids of negative energy.
Finally, he makes it to the heart of the volcano, and discovers that all the madness of the White Mountain seems to revolve around a central stone platform, which appears safe from the terrible effects. The platform contains a large rectangular recess, about two feet down. Derli spends some time examining the stone, and comes to the conclusion that it is of eldritch giant make, and that the recess is actually a second stone block set lower than the platform, nearly flush with the outside of it. With this discovery, he immediately leaves, returns to the Testament of Sin, and flies back to the Drowning Court.
He leaps into the water once again, and is pulled up to the black castle at the vortex’s center, where he rejoins the dazed Zil’dejin and the ghost of Lucan. The room they are in appears to be something similar to a chapel. Charon enters the room, bringing with her several daemons of various descriptions. They quickly set about reshaping Girrrth’s body, molding it as if it were clay and making it identical to Lucan’s body in life, save for the faintly luminous amber-colored lines that run through the flesh. With one swing of her scythe, Charon severs Lucan’s chains, and seemingly effortlessly spins it back into the body. With this, Lucan takes his first breath in several years.
Back in Dolurrh, Conlon, Indicus, and Rilic come across a building right in the middle of the road that bears an uncanny resemblance to a more dilapidated version of Conlon’s death magic academy in Grey Titan’s Hold. Conlon goes in to investigate while Rilic and Indicus walk past it and wait outside. The interior of the building is wrong, with most doors missing, giving Conlon only a single path to walk. He begins to believe this is a trap and turns around, but finds the door to exit is also missing. He follows along the one-track path until he reaches a single lecture hall, where a faceless facsimile of Rave lectures a “class” of similarly faceless students about why Conlon is a bad person.
Conlon steps down to the front of the classroom, and is followed by the hoard of fake students, who move erratically. The chalkboard at the front of the hall gives way, revealing two individuals behind it. One, a half-elf, has dark eyes and a strange mix of scars and tattoos on his face. He holds in one hand a shadowy blade covered in serrations. The other is probably human by his stature. He stands completely still, obscured entirely by a patchwork cloak except for his mouth, which is spread in an unnaturally wide grin, revealing a mouth full of shark-like teeth. Conlon immediately recognizes them as participants in the Tournament of Blades, though he has not seen them before. He demands to know who they are.
The half-elf introduces himself as Cassianus, representing the Shadow Pact, made with the forces of death that permeate Dolurrh. The other is Iskandar, representing the “Symbiont Pact,” apparently forged with the daelkyr. The faceless creatures are referred to as “shadowmorphs” by Cassianus, which are created by a combination of the two warlocks’ magic. Cassianus suggests that this ambush is more of a test of Conlon’s abilities than an actual attempt to slay him, though they wouldn’t mind if he died.
The shadowmorphs attack Conlon while Iskandar pulls off his “ring,” actualy the end of a worm coiled around his finger that extends beneath his skin under his knuckle up to his elbow. The worm expands as it crawls out of his hand, becoming large enough to accommodate both him and Cassianus. They then begin slithering away while Conlon deals with the shadowmorphs. He kills most of them by using the power of the Abyssal talisman he acquired from Tarthanac, and engages the rest of them with his magic. The explosion from the talisman blows a hole in the shadow-building’s roof, drawing the attentions of Rilic and Indicus who climb up to investigate. They contend with some of the shadowmorphs while Conlon finishes off the rest in the fake lecture hall. The building fades away around them, revealing the worm slithering towards the horizon. Conlon considers attacking them, but he has sustained extensive injuries from the ambush, and Rilic cautions him against it. Conlon eventually concedes that it would be a bad idea, and the worm “burrows” into a shadowy gateway, vanishing from view.
The three of them then continue towards the Chasm of Forgotten Echoes.