The Hands that Move the World

Judicium Mortis V: Decay

Dravago 1–6, 1002 YK

Derli finishes off Cassianus and Iskandar’s shadowmorphs, completing their test of his abilities. Kaleth returns from (unsuccessfully) seeking to meet with The Weeping Widow..

Dravago 7, 1002 YK

The party, in addition to Nimozaran the Green and General Coref Irvallo, meets with the Evening Star Company, as well as the rakshasa Mordakhesh the Shadowsword and Hektula the Bloody Scribe. They discuss the matter of balance in the coming ritual, and Kaleth is persuaded to give over the bottle containing the Dark Side of Iadoes Lunaformer (and by extension the Chaos Gear) to Charon for the duration of the ritual to counterbalance Mellifleur‘s use of the Rod of Order. The historian Sarelo Dekker observes the meeting, working on a chronicle of the Eclipse Collective. The meeting involves determining a place of power, and is interrupted by a kolyarut — a type of inevitable resembling a warforged — informing them that their airship has been returned, and that they have one month to prepare for complete destruction at the inevitables’ hands.

They then go to the place of power needed for the ritual: the dragon burial site near Winterhaven. The Collective flies on the Phoenix Eclipse while the Evening Star takes the Sunsetter, their own airship. The ritual is performed, and the party tilts the balance one hundred percent towards death, massively empowering Charon and increasing the grip of death on souls to the point where planar travel to Dolurrh is now impossible, and raising the dead by all but the most powerful magic is no longer a reality. Hektula postulates this might well be permanent.

Mellifleur is greatly weakened, so Kaleth takes the Rod back and gives it to Conlon, but the Iadoes bottle has gone missing. The Evening Star Company then goes to fight Zenza while the Collective decides to take on Suhnen. They are warned that Suhnen’s tzitzimitls, his “angels of decay,” are moving on Fairhaven, Flamekeep, and Korth, but they decide to go directly to the source first. They find Suhnen on Icegaunt Island in the Frostfell, and attack.

Suhnen’s power is still awe-inspiring, even in his vastly weakened state following the ritual. Over the course of the fight, Derli and Indicus are brought down, but Lucan is able to heal their wounds enough to get them standing. Midway through the fight, the atropal escapes through a portal to White Mountain, where it attempts to free the Third Empty King. But, Rilic’s surprising and almost impossible use of one of the Phoenix Eclipse’s turrets as a personal vehicle empowered by a mysterious duplicate Rod of Order and Zil’dejin’s use of the experimental moon-stimulant provide the force needed to destroy Suhnen. In his death throes he reveals that it is the destruction of the atropals — not their release — that will bring back Atropus, the World Born Dead, but as long as the Third Empty King still sleeps, the World Born Dead will not return.

Zil’dejin pulls Kaleth away from the tomb before his powers as Herald of Atropus compel him to free the last Empty King, and they see what are likely the Dark Sides of Iadoes on their way out. Finally, the party sees an pillar of negative energy on the horizon, signalling that Zenza has been destroyed as well, and the two atropals have been put to rest.

Main Characters: Zil’dejin Firebane, Lucan Vrinsk d’Medani, Derli d’Kundarak, Conlon Ostrennar, Rilic Balendal, Kaleth, Indicus

Dravago 1, 1002 YK

Trapped on an illusory train with a horde of faceless shadowmorphs, Derli is forced to undertake Cassianus and Iskandar‘s test of his power. As they set in on him, he conjures two great hammers that smash into the walls of the train, burning the bulk of shadowmorphs away with golden fire. He then extends his hands, sending forth a shower of molten coins to take care of most of the rest, and finishing off the last with his axe. The fake train burns away with the golden fire, revealing Iskandar’s worm “burrowing” in the distance. The illusion now dispelled, Derli boards the real lightning rail and makes his way back to Grey Titan’s Hold.

Dravago 6, 1002 YK

Kaleth returns from Hopelorn, where he was teaming up with Kaleth the Green in an attempt to meet with The Weeping Widow. Her butler refused to permit him to speak with her, and despite many tries to acquire a meeting, he was not successful.

Dravago 7, 1002 YK

The rakshasa Mordakhesh the Shadowsword and Hektula the Bloody Scribe arrive at the Eclipse Keep, bringing with them the Evening Star Company, Charon, and Mellifleur. The two powerful entities are made to wait in the auditorium while the rakshasa and the Evening Star are ushered into the war room with the Eclipse Collective. Nimozaran the Green and General Coref Irvallo are also in attendance, as is a third individual unrecognized by the party. This third person is an older human in fine but practical clothes, carrying a huge book that he is carefully writing in. Nimozaran introduces him as Sarelo Dekker, a famed historian who has come to Eros to write a chronicle of the Eclipse Collective. They allow him to stay, and the meeting proceeds.

First, Hektula brings up the issue of balance again. The whole point of the ritual is to disrupt the cosmic balance between death and undeath, interrupting the flow of power to the atropals. Because Mellifleur holds the Rod of Order, the power is his to tilt the balance as he pleases. To offset this, Hektula again recommends giving the Star of Chaos to Charon. The party’s mages, Kaleth and Conlon, voice some concerns about this. Hektula assures them that Charon should not be able to attune to the artifact and therefore not be able to use its power, as she is a daemon, and by her nature not compatible with the chaotic force of the Star. It’s only meant as a counterweight, such that using the Rod of Order in the ritual will be offset by the Star’s presence. Conlon and Kaleth are still uneasy, but are ultimately outvoted. The two of them get up to go to the warded throne room, where they can open Kaleth’s time-demiplane away from the prying eyes of the rakshasa.

While they are gone, Hektula mentions the second point they need to resolve. The ritual must be performed in a place of power also aligned with either death or undeath. Derli suggests the portal to Mabar beneath Winterhaven in Karrnath, but Hektula cautions that opening that portal would likely be more trouble than it’s worth. However, the dragon burial site in the Icetop Mountains a short distance away from Winterhaven would be ideal. Hektula mentions vaguely that it has already been used for a somewhat similar ritual, and that it possesses great power in connection with Dolurrh.

In Kaleth’s demiplane, he suppresses his many wards and asks Conlon to retrieve the bottle containing the dark side of Iadoes Lunaformer, situated above an urn on the far side of the domed chamber. Conlon misinterprets the instruction and opens the urn instead, revealing a withered, half-formed body of Zil’dejin. Conlon begins lifting this out, curious, but Kaleth yells at him and he replaces it, grabbing the bottle instead. They rejoin the others in the war room. Kaleth openly expresses his suspicion of Hektula, and keeps the bottle in plain view of everybody to ensure no trickery is performed. The balance issue is discussed further, and Hektula mentions that they will have control over where the balance is tilted and to what degree. The greater the imbalance, the weaker the atropals, but at greater cost to the world.

Midway through the discussion, Morgue Conlonnar enters and whispers something to Nimozaran. They leave for a short time and return with an odd individual in crimson and gold robes, somewhat resembling a warforged but purely mechanical in nature, crafted from some black metal. The newcomer apologizes for interrupting, but states that it was not willing to wait to deliver its message. It has brought back the Phoenix Eclipse from Daanvi, although there is still no elemental bound in it, and the shifting circle is still destroyed. The mechanical being — a type of inevitable called a kolyarut, which enforces the integrity of oaths and vows — has brought it back with a message: the Eclipse Collective has one month to prepare, and then the inevitables will make their move. With this, the kolyarut leaves.

Hektula offers to bind a new fire elemental to the ship, which Kaleth opposes, but there seems little alternative. He supervises the rakshasa closely as she works, successfully binding a new fire elemental… mostly. The fire elemental appears with pieces of blackened, rotting ice peppering the flames. This, apparently, is the corrupting influence of Levistus, the Bringer of Ice on Fernia, increasing as his prison slowly dissolves in the Sea of Fire. Still, the elemental is enough to power the ship, so the party boards the Phoenix Eclipse with the rakshasa, Charon and Mellifleur, as well as Nimozaran and Coref. The Evening Star Company takes their own airship, a Lyrandar-constructed vessel called The Sunsetter. Within a relatively short time, everyone arrives at the dragon burial site near Winterhaven.

The Evening Star Company takes positions near the rune-carved skeleton of the dragon in the pit according to Hektula’s directions. They present their acquired amulets — powerful magical items themselves relating to death and undeath — to Charon and Mellifleur, each receiving the amulet opposite to their own domain. Kaleth reluctantly gives the sealed bottle to Charon, who assures him that she has no interest in it and will give it back after the ritual is over. Once everyone involved confirms their readiness, and is informed that the atropals will be aware of what they have done as soon as it is over, the ritual begins. Conlon considers offering assistance in the rituals’ performance, but is cautioned against it by the rest of the party, who watch from the cliff overlooking the pit. The sky darkens and then turns black, removing nearly all light from the area. The Rod of Order begins shining a brilliant white as Mellifleur attempts to use its power, but in response, the sealed bottle flashes a patternless series of colours, balancing out the power of the Rod of Order true to Hektula’s predictions.

Around them, small rifts to Dolurrh and Mabar begin forming, causing the essence of death and negative energy to bleed rapidly into the area. Hektula tells the party they must decide immediately how they will shift the balance of death and undeath. They choose to increase the power of death. This strengthens the grip of death on the world and reinforces its absolute nature, blocking planar travel to Dolurrh and restricting souls from being brought back from the veil with anything short of the most powerful possible magic. Hektula speculates this may be a permanent change. However, they have severely disrupted the strength of the atropal. Hektula scries on them, and reveals to the party that the undead armies of Zenza are already moving toward the Lhazaar Principalities, and that Suhnen’s “angels of decay” are moving south from Icegaunt Island in the Frostfell. They are travelling in pairs, seemingly headed towards the capital cities of Fairhaven, Flamekeep, and Korth.

After the ritual is over, Charon seems vastly empowered, though the Star of Chaos is no longer anywhere to be found. For a brief moment, the forms of the eleven remaining Reapers surround her and make a quick show of deference before vanishing. Charon leaves not long after they do, and Kaleth goes down into the pit to retrieve the Rod of Order from Mellifleur, who has been weakened to the point of immobility. Mellifleur cries out in rage as it is taken from him, but can do nothing to stop it. Kaleth hands it to Conlon, and returns to his position with the others.

The Evening Star Company discusses with the Eclipse Collective which atropal they will go after. The Evening Star wishes to pursue Zenza, as they are partially responsible for its release but not for Suhnen. The party finds this reasonable, and the Evening Star boards the Sunsetter, bound for the Principalities. After they have left, the Collective speaks among themselves and with Coref and Nimozaran about their next move. Some, including Kaleth and Coref, believe they should deal with the tzitzimitls first. Kaleth worries that they will be viewed upon negatively by other nations if they don’t. Most of the rest of the party believes it’s most important to deal with the atropal, especially as Suhnen is the source of the tzitzimitls’ power. They decide to go to Icegaunt Island before dealing with Suhnen’s minions.

The Collective once again boards the Phoenix Eclipse, and flies out to the Frostfell. They arrive at Icegaunt Island, a mostly barren waste with a few hills and some low mountains. Suhnen is not difficult to find, its rotting form hovering a few feet off the ground in a basin filled with blackened snow. It turns its gaze towards the Phoenix Eclipse as it approaches, and it stops dead, not able to propel itself but still able to rotate in space. It opens its mouth and fires a ray of negative energy into the ship, causing extensive damage. The party gathers their wits, and Derli applies Moon’s Gate‘s holy oil to his weapon. Rilic also gives him Girrrth’s belt and the prison entrapping Tethris. Derli is the first to charge in on the back of his horse, Ruin, followed by Zil’dejin. Indicus goes to the cargo deck and readies a fire sled, while Kaleth, Kaleth the Green, Conlon, Rilic, and Lucan remain on the deck for the time being.

Zil’dejin and Derli engage the atropal in combat. It is slow-moving but astonishingly deadly. Its touch withers the flesh and dispels enchantments, standing against their efforts to benefit from magically-enhanced speed. Kaleth and Kaleth the Green prepare to shield any ally attacked by the atropal with a wall of force, but its nullifying touch destroys the barrier when it attacks Zil’dejin. It does, however, preserve Kaleth’s clone. The melee fighters do considerable damage, but soon Derli goes down, losing a leg to decay in the process. Indicus crashes the firesled directly into the atropal, causing it to explode and doing reasonable damage to the abomination, but at great cost to Indicus. In retaliation, the atropus frees a burst of necrocarnum energy, bringing down Indicus as well. Zil’dejin stays up and fighting while Lucan throws bolts of psionic force down from the airship, alongside magic missiles cast down by Rilic and Conlon.

Kaleth and Kaleth the Green leap off the airship deck and fly down to support the other combatants, and Lucan leaps off, focusing his will into making himself light enough to fly on the wind. The fight continues with Rilic and Conlon supporting from the airship until the atropal falls backwards into the portal, which suddenly opens to accommodate him.

Lucan uses his powers to close Derli’s and Indicus’ wounds, bringing them back to consciousness while Zil’dejin proceeds into the portal. Kaleth examines it, and where the other members of the Collective see only blackness, Kaleth sees a world where everything and everyone exists in a state of undeath. Eberron is an undying ruin, full of souls who cannot escape their fates, and Atropus, the World Born Dead, the World Born Dead, looks on from a starless sky with hatred. Kaleth shakes his mind clear and goes through the portal, joined by Kaleth the Green. They, along with Zil’dejin, arrive in White Mountain on the edge of Charon’s domain: the tomb of the Third Empty King. Suhnen appears to be trying to free it, and informs Kaleth that his role as a herald is “no longer needed.” With one hand, it sends Kaleth the Green back to his own timeline.

Meanwhile, Lucan continues to tend to the wounds of the others. Conlon jumps from the ship without protection, landing on the ground and charging through the portal. Rilic manages to detach one of the fire turrets on the ship — a feat which should be impossible — and uses it as single-occupancy vehicle, flying it into the gateway. On his way down, something catches his eye in the turret’s cockpit: a glittering rod of platinum and gold, clearly the Rod of Order, even though it still remains in Conlon’s possession. He jams the Rod of Order into the controls, empowering the turret with radiance. On the other side, he blasts the atropal with everything he has, ripping away most of its decaing flesh and leaving nothing but bone. This destroys the turret, and the Rod of Order vanishes, but Rilic himself is unharmed.

Indicus and Derli charge through the portal, reinvigorated by Lucan, just in time to witness the defeat of the atropal. Zil’dejin injects the experimental alien stimulant from Vult that he purchased from Ozorr, and lays into the atropal, destroying all but its skull. It mocks him as he grinds it into dust, revealing that it is the destruction of the Three Empty Kings, not their release, that will usher Atropus back to the world. Zil’dejin kills Suhnen, releasing a massive burst of negative energy, but the party survives, and absorbs the remants of the atropal’s mythic power. Kaleth’s necrocarnum mantle is being drawn into the sarcophagus containing the Third Empty King, but he manages to shut off the flow of power to it… only to find his hands light up with the dark power, pulling him towards it. Against his will, he slams his hands down on the casket, nearly releasing the Third Empty King before Zil’dejin grabs him and flings him back through the portal.

The party leaves White Mountain, returning to Icegaunt Island. Zil’dejin is the last to leave, and just before he passes through the portal, he catches a glimpse of two horned shapes in the soul-mist, pulling something shaped like the Star of Chaos back and forth between them. Back in Eberron, the party sees a column of dark power erupt into the sky, signalling the defeat of Zenza at the hands of the Evening Star Company and confirming that both abominations now lie dead.



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