Olarune 5, 1001 YK
Conlon goes to the Icehorn Mountains at the edge of the Eldeen Reaches to witness the fight between the Hexblades of the Celestial and Abyssal pacts. The representatives, Zadkielle and Tarthanac, respectively, fight in a brief duel, of which Tarthanac is the victor. Conlon then emerges to attack Tarthanac and kills him, taking both trophies before leaving.
Therendor 1, 1001 YK
Marlamin visits the city of Atur in Karrnath, where the High Priest Malevanor gives him the task of escorting some priests through Mabar, the Endless Night. Marlamin agrees and asks to be sent to the rest of the party, which Malevanor complies with. The party also regroups with Iadoes, and takes a short rest before they are assailed by mind flayers angered by the death of Verioth the Voiceless. The fight ends with the deaths of Marlamin and Derli (the third time his brain has been eaten this day). The Eclipse Collective is joined by the earth genasi barbarian Girrrth Thicktrunk, wielding the powerful Earthreaver Axe.
After the battle Iadoes teleports himself with Derli’s body back to Grey Titan’s Hold, but the party respects Marlamin’s wishes not to be raised. They reverse the polarity and accelerate the grav-tube and send Marlamin’s body through it at full speed to prevent illithid experimentation. His death releases the captured souls of angels he bound his arm with, which assault the mind flayers in their anger.
As the party sleeps in the second level of the pyramid, Quasator greets them and says he will escort them to the upper levels. He is now the leader of the Verioth mind flayers, and he has the Touch of Corruption on his hand. Meanwhile, Iadoes teleports himself and a revived Derli 100% off-mark, putting them floating in space next to a huge vessel of Thoon. The inhabitants range from bizarre to nightmarish, and the trip nearly results in their deaths before they can teleport back to Eros.
Therendor 2, 1001 YK
Iadoes has a bizarre adventure with the two alternate versions of himself (MOON Iadoes and Evil Iadoes) when he travels through a hole in the ground he believes himself to have created. The three Iadoeses chase Raveth’s box, but Iadoes comes out of the chase with only a painting of the other two Iadoeses holding the Chaos Gear. Derli teleports himself to the moon independently of Iadoes, and arrives two floors above the party as they arrive on the third level, the recreational floor. Here they find Tamztur and talk with him briefly, agreeing to find two “hoops” for him. They proceed upwards to the medical level where they encounter a mind flayer surgically investigating clones. Zil’dejin tentatively agrees to be “de-cloned” in the cloning device on the 9th floor to find the source of its power.
Derli comes down from a level filled with green fluid-filled tanks to meet the party on the medical level. Iadoes teleports to the pyramid as well, but he ends up trapped inside one of the tanks just as a mind flayer of Thoon shows up.
Olarune 5, 1001 YK
As the time given to him by Kashanshara approaches, Conlon goes to the Icehorn Mountains on the northern edge of the Eldeen Reaches, and climbs up to the top of the cliff revealed to him by the Walker of Dreams. He conceals himself in a crack in the cliff wall and waits for the combatants to arrive.
About an hour from sunset, a column of light descends from the sky, bearing a bald, heavily-pierced woman descending on black wings. With a flash of light, she summons a shining silver great sword bedecked in golden sun motifs. Conlon recognizes her as Zadkielle, the name Kashanshara gave to the Hexblade of the Celestial Pact. Zadkielle takes a step forward and waits, her eyes fixed intently on a spot about twenty feet ahead of her.
A few minutes later, a fiery portal opens, and a man covered in spikes and strange tattoos emerges. He summons in each hand a black sword marked with demonic symbols. He is Tarthanac, the Hexblade of the Abyssal Pact.
The two stand and watch each other for a moment, but no words are exchanged before they finally break into combat. Tarthanac puts Zadkielle down with a sleep spell, but she quickly recovers, just in time for Tarthanac to summon a meteor swarm upon her. Under the barrage of flaming rocks, Zadkielle is beaten unconscious. Conlon, despite his hiding place, is also injured by the blasts, though he remains conscious.
Conlon watches from hiding as Tarthanac steps forward and swiftly kills Zadkielle, claiming her blade-trophy. At this point, Conlon emerges and summons his own pact blade. He wastes no time in assaulting his target with magic, stripping flesh from Tarthanac’s skin as the distance between them closes. Tarthanac assaults Conlon with a series of three blows, and Conlon repels the first two but is nearly struck by the last, by which Tarthanac intends to ravage him with demonic power. At the last minute, however, Conlon conjures an entropic ward, sending the blade off-course and opening Tarthanac to another strike.
Conlon issues a final word of power, and Tarthanac is brought down. Conlon reaches down to collect the trophies of both the Blade of Hope’s Dawn and the Twin Blades of Ruin before walking away from the cliff.
Therendor 1, 1001 YK
In the Crimson Monastery in Atur, Marlamin Tarmikos finally revisits the heart of his church. He is brought through the labyrinthine corridors beneath the pyramid to a strange but elegant combination of laboratory and chapel, overseen by the mummy high priest of Vol, Malevanor.
“Marlamin Tarmikos,” Malevanor hisses. “It has been a long time since the honoured champion of the Blood has visited the Crimson Monastery.”
“I was intrigued by your task,” he replies. “I wish to know more.”
Malevanor asks that Marlamin return to perform an “important duty,” which entails escorting some priests through the plane of Mabar so that they can perform important tasks of their own. It is important, Malevanor insists, that Marlamin not know the details of what the priests have to do, as they do not know the details of each others’ tasks.
Marlamin decides that this must be related to the so-called Operation Leviathan, a wide-scale but secretive operation being performed by the Blood of Vol. In exchange, he is offered another army of undead such as he used during the Starpeaks Invasion, and a grand mausoleum for the fallen of the Eclipse Collective. He then requests to be delivered to the Eclipse Collective, who have left Eberron’s atmosphere. Malevanor grants the request, and Marlamin is teleported next to the others.
On the moon of Vult, Derli, Zil’dejin and Rilic take a brief rest after defeating Verioth the Voiceless. The psychic outcry of the dying dragon has provided each of them a measure of psychic shielding, which they come to grips with as Iadoes emerges from one of the second-floor buildings. He looks scarcely different from the last time the party saw him, save for the removal of his two peripheral faces. He has limited recollection of recent events.
As the party regroups, the nearby grav-tubes activate and a number of mind flayers arrive. Marlamin Tarmikos rushes directly into their midst and collapses one of the grav-tubes, killing a couple of illithids before they arrive and limiting further arrivals. He is soon followed into melee by Derli and Zil’dejin while Iadoes and Rilic hang back to support with magic. Shortly into the fight, they are joined by an earth genasi who emerges from one of the buildings wielding a ferocious-looking stone axe, he announces himself as Girrrth Thicktrunk. The mind flayers evidently recognize the name, and respond with fear. The genasi engages the mind flayers immediately, joining the fight on the party’s side.
The mind flayers, responding to Verioth’s death-cry, have brought arcanists with them, and prove a match for the party in its present condition. One of the arcanists creates a hemispherical wall of force around two illithids who successfully latch onto the skulls of Marlamin and Girrrth, preventing the party from reaching them as they are helpless to resist the mind flayers. Marlamin’s skull is pulled out and consumed, but Girrrth’s thick, rocky skull keeps him safe. Rilic is briefly put to sleep but awoken by Iadoes, and Zil’dejin spends much of the battle with his mind dominated by a mind flayer’s psionic influence. In this state, he removes Derli’s right eye before knocking him unconscious. Derli’s brain is soon after consumed by a mind flayer.
Ultimately, however, the party triumphs. They kill the arcanists and free Girrrth to hunt down the last of the fleeing mind flayers, and they are killed before they escape. The party talks briefly with Girrrth as Iadoes teleports himself and Derli’s corpse (with brain fragments recovered by Zil’dejin violently opening a mind flayer’s stomach) back to Grey Titan’s Hold for revival, aided by Aria Kavassa. For his aid, Girrrth is welcomed into the party for the duration of their activities on Vult.
Recalling Marlamin’s wish to not be brought back again, the party decides to deal with the corpse in the interest of avoiding its fall into the illithids’ hands. For lack of a well, the Collective decides to send him down the grav tubes at a speed sufficient for destroying the body. Rilic toys with the control panel on the wall nearby, and determines the controls necessary to reverse the polarity and increase the speed. He does so with the party’s go-ahead, and Marlamin’s body is sent down with a loud popping noise.
He hits the bottom with such force that blood sprays back up the tube to some extent, which is then flooded with bright light, followed by a chorus of mind flayers screaming below. Rilic theorizes that Marlamin’s death and the destruction of his body have freed the ten angels the blackguard bound to contain the power of the Touch of Corruption. With this dealt with, the party barricades themselves in one of the buildings to catch some sleep while they await the return of Iadoes and Derli.
Back in Eros, Aria Kavassa completes Derli’s raising. Iadoes prepares to teleport them back to the moon but is off target in his spell… by 100 percent. This causes them to arrive 7.5 billion kilometres off their mark. They find themselves floating in space, and with a combination of magic (using Iadoes’ silent spell metamagic to circumvent his inability to speak in space) and effort, they manage to make it to the only visible physical feature: an enormous vessel, similar in structure to the mind flayer Nautiloid but many times its size. Iadoes estimates that the second deck will hold the cargo bay, which may be the safest destination.
They arrive at the bay to find the door shut. Iadoes phases through using magic, arriving in the bay, which is a cavernous space filled with faintly glowing egg-shaped structures. Using a fleshy mass of tendrils next to the door, Iadoes’ mind interfaces with the controls, allowing him to open it enough for Derli to enter with some effort, and also to send a few ovoid structures flying out into space.
Iadoes makes himself invisible as footsteps approach their position, revealing a huge and horrifying creature that fuses machine and flesh, constantly dribbling viscous green vomit and carrying a partially-dissolved body in a tank of similar fluid. After some assessment, Iadoes believes it was originally a mind flayer before being distorted into its current form. It telepathically communicates with Derli and Iadoes, demanding identification. They provide it, but it seems to find this unsatisfactory.
Iadoes attempts to use magic to remove himself from the creature’s presence, but it tracks him, spewing a stream of vomit that forms into a tall, gangly creature with two organic blades to cut Iadoes off. Iadoes teleports past it too and investigates one of the rooms in the cargo deck, discovering a number of mind flayers focusing intently on the ovoid structures. He decides to back away and head upstairs while the huge creature tries to convince Derli to submit to something called Thoon. Derli repeatedly refuses and eventually breaks away, using his own equivalent of a dimension door spell (a large vault door materializing in air before being rolled away) to try and find Iadoes.
The sorcerer is on the deck above, where a massive pool filled with tadpoles is being carefully tended to by dozens of mind flayers. Iadoes attempts to interface with another set of control tendrils here, but is stopped by several floating squid-like creatures that attempt to wrap tendrils around him. He is whipped and caught briefly before escaping again. Derli sees what is happening (though Iadoes is still invisible) and teleports to where he thinks Iadoes has gone based on the sound and magic effect of his movement, arriving at the foot of the stairs leading up to the next deck as two hulking mind flayer-like creatures fused with humanoid flesh and metal weapons descend.
They attack Derli and injure him, but Iadoes is able to teleport them away. He firsts considers plane shifting to Kythri, but believes there is a chance of disaster in this particular place, so instead teleports them back to Eros. They decide to rest there for the night before trying to return to Vult in the morning.
Therendor 2, 1001 YK
During the night, the party barricaded in the pyramid of Vult has their rest interrupted by Quasator, whom Zil’dejin answers in the middle of the night after detecting him with the floating static consciousness permitted by his Dreamstone amulet. Quasator now wears the Touch of Corruption and has taken control of the Verioth mind flayers after the dragon’s death. He says that he will join the party in defeating the Thoon mind flayers on the eighth level and above, though he still does not actually use the word “Thoon”. He demonstrates the power he has already unlocked by turning a nearby steel-and-glass building into a writhing mass of flesh.
When they have completed their rest, Quasator is there again to meet them. They follow him to the grav-tubes leading up to the next level, and watch as he enters one, slowly levitating up towards the ceiling. Rilic starts walking forward to join the mind flayer before Zil’dejin puts his hand out to stop him.
“Wait,” he says, looking upward. “Reverse the polarity and turn up the speed.”
“Fine,” Rilic replies, moving to the control panel. “But if he survives this, it’s on you.”
He does not.
Quasator’s bodily destruction leaves behind the Touch of Corruption, which Zil’dejin collects, resisting its compulsion to be worn. The three there then proceed upwards to the next level, which is the recreational floor. Here they find a senate structure used by the race that constructed the pyramid, which Tamztur is floating around on his hovering chair. He comes down to greet them, and from him they learn a bit more about the Thoon mind flayers, including some theories as to what “Thoon” is (including a star entity, a Daelkyr lord, a collective consciousness of some kind, and nothing at all). He asks that the party find for him, probably from the laboratory, a pair of complex eldritch machines shaped like hoops, for which he will pay handsomely.
They agree to keep an eye out and leave, following Tamztur’s directions to reach the grav tubes leading up to the next level, which is a medical level. The first room they enter has a number of panels hovering in place in the room, displaying detailed anatomical diagrams of creatures both familiar and unfamiliar, as well as many shelves littered with supplies of various sorts. There exist doors leading north, west, and south, and they choose to go south, believing it to be the most likely to lead to the next set of grav-tubes.
Instead, the iris-door leads to a ramp heading up to an observational area, and another iris-door opening up to a strange sort of operating theatre, in which a mind flayer dressed like a surgeon is using a combination of its own hands and the inbuilt devices to operate on an unidentifiable creature on the operating table.
Rilic hides while Zil’dejin and Girrrth go up the ramp to the observational area, where they discover that the creature on the operating table appears identical to Zil’dejin, and worse, is conscious and in obvious torment. He and Girrrth attempt to smash through the window separating them from the theatre, but find the glass unbreakable by their brute force. They draw the attention of the surgeon, who comes up to speak with them.
The illithid firsts demands Zil’dejin’s “number” and orders him back to his cell, but Zil’dejin explains that he is not a clone. The mind flayer disbelieves him at first but eventually comes to accept it. It reveals that the cloning machine derives clones from memories, and that it requires a template with the mind flayers’ current understanding, for which Nimozaran the Green is currently being used. The Zil’dejin clones are the most stable, and he is attempting to learn why. He instead asks Zil’dejin to assist in another way, first by clearing the ninth-floor laboratory of Thoon mind flayers, and then by participating in what he calls a “reverse-cloning” experiment designed to find out more about the mechanism by which the cloning device operates. In exchange, he promises to provide clone bodies for all the sages’ brains in the Sequencer, as their original bodies have since likely been destroyed.
Meanwhile, back in Eros, Iadoes talks with Gummy Joe and learns that Iadoes is “already outside by the shrine, holding a box.” Iadoes sprints to the shrine in time to see himself ducking behind the structure. When he arrives, he finds only sand… and a hole in the ground. He jumps into the hole, and Derli, wanting nothing to do with the situation, teleports himself back to Vult, arriving on the floor above the rest of the party where a number of human-sized tanks, arranged in hexagonal patterns, provide faint green light by the liquid contained within them. Derli stumbles around here until he finds the grav-tubes leading downwards, and from there meets up with the rest of the party… save Iadoes.
Iadoes emerges from the hole on a floating island among a raging storm of elements: fire, lightning, ice, water, and stone. A walled structure stands on the same floating island nearby, while on a separate floating island visible from his vantage, the Eclipse Keep stands, surrounded by a shimmering spherical barrier of some kind. As he walks towards the walled structure, Iadoes is joined by two other versions of himself, corresponding to the removed faces (“evil Iadoes” and “MOON Iadoes”).
MOON Iadoes produces the box, which leads to a ridiculous three-way struggle for control of the item, involving powerful magic being hurled all over and a triple cast of fimbulwinter. Eventually, Iadoes finds himself back in his bed with the package on his nightstand. He knocks it out his window, and jumps out after it, opening it up upside-down to release a cascade of sand and a framed painting. He looks inside the empty box to see the other Iadoeses staring back at him. He crawls through to emerge exactly where he just was. Picking up the painting, he sees an image of evil Iadoes and MOON Iadoes holding the Chaos Gear. He then proceeds to hang the painting behind his desk before teleporting himself to rejoin the party.
He reappears on the same level as Derli had, though he is inside one of the liquid-filled tanks. He bangs his fists ineffectually against the glass, apparently drawing the attention of a mind flayer covered in muscles and ritual scars that he recognizes as a mind flayer of Thoon. It slams its face against the glass and repeats the word “Thoon” over and over. Iadoes cries out for help, but finds himself unable to speak while trapped in the liquid. The rest of the party, meanwhile, remains in the medical level below, far from Iadoes’ pleas.