Therendor 1, 1001 YK
Tandi returns to Eros from touring with the Warmmantles, and discovers that the party is on Vult. He (inadvertently) enlists the help of a chaos magic-infused Gummy Joe to get him to the moon, but Gummy Joe instead teleports them to Nymm, the Crown Moon. On this massive golden desert, they find a disc-shaped structure which, after some investigation, is revealed to be an interplanetary vessel of some kind, designed by the same race that created the pyramid of Vult. Tandi and Gummy Joe figure out how to activate it after removing the skeleton of a member of the ancient race (stealing a colorful magic disk from it as well), and set it on course for Vult.
On Eberron, Conlon learns from Kashanshara where the party has gone after speaking with her in a dream.
Therendor 2, 1001 YK
Conlon trades the Blade of Hope’s Dawn talisman (temporarily) to Eltimar to teleport himself to the party’s whereabouts. He finds a trapped Iadoes, and helps him defeat the attacking mind flayer of Thoon. The rest of the party joins them. Conlon acquires the Cloak of Stars from Iadoes before they move up to the next level.
The next level up looks like a two-tiered mortuary, mostly empty but with one active “coffin” containing, unexpectedly, a living creature of some kind. After toying with the control panel for a while to determine its function, the Collective believes they can open it, but decides against it for the myriad risks involved. Before they move up again, they find clone-Lythanis, who bears a demonmark he is apparently using to stave off the Mind Seed. He warns them of a barricade blocking off the 8th level, but insists he can destroy it. He does so, using the power of his mark to shatter the makeshift wall.
The party moves up to the library floor, where they fight some mind flayers of Thoon. Conlon then tries to speak with Eltimar, but goes catatonic from a failed attempt. At the heart of this floor is a large steel dome, and they choose to investigate it, carrying Conlon’s unconscious body with them. They are stopped on the way by three Thoon hulks, during which battle Iadoes has a massive chaos surge that duplicates the moon of Lharvion. Also, Derli’s foot is cut off. Following the fight, they make him a makeshift food to keep him moving and arrive at the center to learn the dome is actually a vault of some kind.
Fifteen mind flayers are concentrating on egg-shaped structures like Derli and Iadoes saw on the Thoon ship. Iadoes sets them ablaze using moonfire, revealing one of them to be a rakshasa, killing several of their numbers, and starting a large fight. As Girrrth has wandered off somewhere by this point, they are nearly brought down. Iadoes is knocked unconscious by a mind blast which alters his psychology to a point of extreme apathy.
Tandi’s flying disc then crashes into the pyramid on this floor, killing several mind flayers of Thoon before it comes to a stop at the domed vault. Zil’dejin kills most of the remaining illithids, but the very last one dies from an unexpected arrow to the head, fired by the legendary half-orc monster hunter Gongrack, who came here with a hunting party to kill the mind flayers, though he is the only survivor. They are approached by the rakshasa, Tharavash the Dissolver, who tells them that he is looking to open the vault and to find more about Thoon and their journey to Xoriat. He asks for the party’s help in either opening the vault or clearing the Furnace of the lunar dragon, and in exchange he offers to help them get the captured brains back from the Thoon mind flayers. They agree to the latter condition, and move down to the 7th level again.
Additionally, Iadoes (passively) agrees to taking the Mark of Entropy, the demonmark of Tharavash’s master “the Black Star”, to cure his condition.
Therendor 1, 1001 YK
Tandi Warmmantle returns to Eros after a lucrative tour with the Warmmantles. After a slight tax dispute with Farthing Meohlden, he seeks out Nimozaran the Green but instead meets with Coref Irvallo who briefs him on the party’s situation. Seeking a way to get to Vult himself, he runs into Gummy Joe, who claims he can teleport them both to the moon. Iadoes has evidently imbued him with a fragment of his chaos power that Gummy Joe has little sense of how to control, but before Tandi can protest, Gummy Joe teleports them away. The resulting chaos surge creates a distortion in the weave that makes divination magic difficult for a couple of days.
Instead of arriving on Vult, however, the two arrive in a vast, scorching desert filled with vibrant yellow sand. They are on Nymm, the Crown Moon, a considerable distance away from where they meant to be. Tandi attempts to climb to the top of a large dune nearby to get a better vantage, but stumbles as something rumbles past beneath them. He uses magic to transport himself to the top and discovers a large disc-like structure half-buried in the sand about an hour’s walk away. Again using his magic, he alters his step to not sink through the sand. Gummy Joe stumbles through the desert after him as Tandi jaunts towards the disc.
Eventually, they arrive. On closer inspection, the structure is steel, but corroded from its time in the desert. The only access point is located about forty feet above near the top of the disc, which appears to have been intended as a loading ramp of some sort. Tandi teleports himself and Gummy Joe to the ramp and finds that actual access to the interior is controlled with a square glass panel covered in unfamiliar text. Tandi manages to open the door, and they head inside.
It is dark at first, but dull blue lights flicker on after a moment. Because the disk is clearly meant to be navigated horizontally but it currently sits vertically in the sand, their movements are perilous, and Tandi nearly falls before being caught by Gummy Joe. The homeless priest’s grip begins to slip, however, as he refuses to let go of his flask. Tandi plummets, and Gummy Joe falls after him. It seems they will fall to the bottom of the disc before gravity seems to alter, placing them on the ship’s proper floor.
Tandi decides that this is a vessel of some kind, and sets himself towards locating the helm. He moves to the center of the disc, where they locate a small room filled with control panels. There is an oblong pod in the center, which Gummy Joe is sent to open but fails. Tandi activates its control panel and manages to pop it open, revealing an ancient skeleton. Though roughly humanoid in configuration, its torso is unusually short while its limbs are quite long, and its head resembles a worm. Most notably, it has six arms, four of which still clutch controls of some sort while the other two hold a wide colour-shifting disk.
After taking the disk and storing it away, he tosses the surprisingly light skeleton out of the pod and has Gummy Joe crouch inside with Tandi sitting on his shoulders. They clutch the controls, two each, much as the skeleton was doing. The pod then closes them inside, and luminous text begins to appear on the dark interior walls. Tandi expresses a desire to go to the “farthest moon,” which causes some flashing red indicators to appear, but they eventually settle as Tandi feels a prodding against the back of his head. His skull is pierced by some sort of symbiotic control that allows him to gain perspective on the entire vessel, as though he were looking down on it from outside.
The disc-shaped vehicle lifts out of the sand and, on Tandi’s willing and with some fiddling of the controls, accelerates towards their destination.
Back on Eberron, after some time in wandering, Conlon Ostrennar speaks with Kashanshara in a dream. They talk briefly on the defeat of Zadkielle and Tarthanac. From Kashanshara, he learns that his party has gone to the moon of Vult.
Therendor 2, 1001 YK
Conlon communes with Eltimar, who sends him to meet with the rest of the Collective in exchange for surrendering the talisman of the Blade of Hope’s Dawn for an indefinite amount of time. Conlon emerges from a starry portal on the 5th level of the pyramid, near the tank that Iadoes is currently floating in.
Conlon sees that Iadoes is being threatened and invokes his power to drain the creature’s intelligence. It turns on him with surprising force, grabbing him and stunning him as it prepares to eat his brain. Iadoes takes the opportunity to blink out of the tank and throws the mind flayer up in the air with magic force. Conlon, now freed, rips the airborne illithid apart with his star magic before the creature hits the ground. Not long after, they are joined by the remainder of the party coming up from the medical level below.
As the party walks across the floor filled with the upright tanks, Conlon speaks with Iadoes about acquiring the cloak of stars. Iadoes seems confused, believing it to have been his along despite earlier agreements to give it to Conlon. Iadoes eventually excepts a trade for Conlon’s talisman of the Twin Blades of Ruin. They then ascend to the next level, which actually spans the next two floors as the next floor above is open in the center, overlooking the level below. Both sub-levels are filled with what appear to be upright steel coffins, most of which are open but some of which are still closed. Each coffin has a window, and Iadoes illuminates one of his hands to see through one, but finds it empty.
Before the party moves up again, however, they discover one coffin for which the control panel appears to be actively displaying information in the language seen on the other control panels. As Rilic has wandered off somewhere, and as he is the only one to have attained any familiarity with the panels, the party toys with it for a bit. Iadoes hits some random buttons and briefly changes the display language to Orcish before he is dragged away by Derli. Zil’dejin continues pushing buttons and soon Iadoes blinks back to join him, and with Conlon’s help they change the panel’s display language to Common. Iadoes is put to sleep in a grapple by Zil’dejin, during which time Conlon recovers his Twin Blades of Ruin talisman.
The panel appears to display and control vital signs of a living creature within the coffin, which they believe might be a surviving member of the ancient race who built the pyramid. After some consideration, they try to open it, only to be met with a warning that this might kill the creature contained within after such a long stasis cycle. Ultimately thinking the better of it, they decide to move up to the next level.
On the way, they encounter Lythanis’ clone. He is looking worse for wear, but claims to have “stopped the Mind Seed.” He shows a strange mark on his shoulder, appearing as a dark grey star, which Iadoes identifies as a demonmark of some sort. He informs the party that the way up is blocked with a barricade, but that he is capable of removing it. They find the barricade, which appears to be composed of fused coffins taken from this floor. Clone Lythanis pushes a hand against the barricade, and the party watches as the mark spreads down his arm to form cracks along the barricade before a sizable chunk is shattered, allowing them to proceed up.
This is the 8th level, which is essentially a giant library. Tall steel shelves are filled with books, scrolls, and knowledge crystals, some of which are in readable condition. At the very center of the floor is a smooth steel dome. Some mind flayers wait where the grav tubes lead, a clear junction among the shelves with paths leading in six directions. They fight the mind flayers, making quick work of them, and then try to figure out where to go. Zil’dejin has picked up fragments of the highly complex ancient language after toying with the panel below, and determines two directions they can take: one towards the grav-tubes, and another towards the steel dome.
First, Conlon tries to consult Eltimar, but the attempt drives him comatose. Zil’dejin picks him up, and they choose to investigate the steel dome. They head that way, but are intercepted by three Thoon hulks such as Derli and Iadoes saw previously. An intense combat engages where the Thoon hulks actually manage to flank Zil’dejin, Derli, and Girrrth. The three warriors fight against the hulks as Iadoes supports with magic, and Derli’s foot is cut off by one of the huge creature’s cleaver in the process. One of the Thoon hulks has the face of Brandis Lee buried in its mass of flesh, which Zil’dejin thinks he might vaguely recognize. During the fight, Iadoes has a powerful chaos surge that ends up cloning the moon of Lharvion on the opposite end of its orbit, resulting in two copies of that moon in the sky.
The Thoon hulks keep flying into an attack overdrive where their blows carry terrible weight, but the party manages to overcome it with some injuries sustained. Using materials at hand and a fragment of one of the steel shelves, they assemble a rudimentary artificial foot to replace the one that Derli has lost. They rest a moment, during which time they are assaulted again, this time by a more ordinary mind flayer and a Thoon “shadow flayer” capable of invisibility, which sneaks up on Iadoes. They beat these too, and finally catch a breath before moving onward.
They arrive at the only break in the otherwise perfectly smooth and round dome: a huge and highly complex vault door, sealed with magical wards, magic technology, and mundane technology alike. There are approximately fifteen mind flayers gathered around ovoid structures like those Derli and Iadoes saw in the strange vessel’s cargo bay the day previous. They do not notice the party and instead appear to be concentrating on the vault door… that is, until Iadoes casts moonfire.
The white fire cascades over the mind flayers, burning some of them to death and just injuring others. Additionally, a shapeshifter is revealed in their midst: a rakshasa, who shelters himself in front of the vault door while the mind flayers of Thoon engage the party. What results is a drawn out battle where the mind flayers swarm the party, overwhelming them quickly with psionic powers and spells cast by the disciples of Thoon and giving the illithids a chance to get close en masse. Derli is repeatedly mentally overwhelmed with psionics and Zil’dejin falls briefly under mind flayer control again before recovering. Iadoes is paralyzed and unable to break it before he is driven unconscious with a mind blast.
After the fight has been proceeding for a while, there is a sudden explosion on a far wall of the pyramid as the disc-shaped vehicle piloted by Tandi and Gummy Joe crashes through. It takes a number of shelves and mind flayers with it as it drives into a stop at the steel dome. Its arrival kills many of the gathered mind flayers still standing, giving Zil’dejin an opportunity to sweep through most of those gathered. The last one in his glaive’s path deflects his blow, only to be killed by an unexpected arrow to the head.
As Tandi and Gummy Joe file out of the crashed ship, the party finds the source of the arrow: the legendary half-orc monster hunter Gongrack. Gongrack reveals that he came to Vult with an entire hunting party dedicated to eliminating the mind flayers here, but he is the last of them standing. He is unsure how long he has been here, but believes it to have been more than a week. While the party speaks with Gongrack, they are approached by the now-unveiled black-furred rakshasa who was dwelling among the mind flayers. He reveals himself to be Tharavash the Dissolver, a prakhutu of the Lords of Dust who serves an entity he calls the Black Star.
He speaks candidly with the party, informing them that his intentions here, in service to his master, are twofold: he wants to learn what is in the dome, and he wishes to know more about how the mind flayers of Thoon completed their journey to Xoriat. Evidently he cares little about the devices, the Sequencer, or the sages, and offers to help the party if they can either open the vault on this floor (which is rapidly running out of air, owing to the crashed ship and already old and damaged structure), or clear the Furnace of the lunar dragon that dwells there. He also notes Iadoes’ overwhelming apathy (a side effect of the mind blast that put him out), and he offers to cure the sorcerer of his affliction, but claims he will have to brand him with a demonmark — the Mark of Entropy — as part of the deal. The party agrees with Iadoes’ apathetic consent, and they head down to the level below, tentatively deciding to seek out the dragon Tsaokeckos to earn the assistance of Tharavash.