Lharvion 17, 1002 YK
The matter of the Millennium Emperor’s offer to Derli to step down from the Tournament of Blades is settled as Derli agrees to surrender. The ritual involves Derli’s death, allowing him to speak once more with the strange dwarf in the tavern he believes to be Dol Dorn. Here, it is revealed that Derli is on track to become Dol Dorn himself, according to the nature of the gods in Eberron. He comes back to life, pure once again, but Derli having lost the Throne of War to another. He believes the usurper to either by Zelishkar of the Bitter Flame or the archon Solas.
Lharvion 18, 1002 YK
The party visits Merrix d’Cannith to get another piece of Rilic’s ring and commission some enhancements for their equipment from the Equilibrius. They learn that Zelishkar is the new Horseman of War and has given them the opportunity for a month of preparation before he attacks Mordakhesh the Shadowsword, throws open gates to Shavarath, and begins the “ultimate war.” The party discusses assembling the Staff of Three Dragons in the event that Rak Tulkhesh is freed. Baalondorus goes to Aundair to speak with Queen Aurala ir’Wynarn, and Lucan and Indicus join him, both intending to kill Aurala for their respective patrons.
Lharvion 19, 1002 YK
Lucan and Indicus get into a thick situation with Aurala and Baalondorus after learning that Aurala is a new member of Mellifleur’s Cabal and Baalondorus wishes for them not to kill her.
Rilic, Kaleth, and Zil’dejin assume disguises to infiltrate the House Cannith enclave in Wroat as part of a plot to fake Merrix’s death by stealing his prized Arcane Fortress armour. While in disguise, Kaleth and Rilic are taken to the Equilibrius. Zil’dejin goes back to Grey Titan’s Hold and speaks with Mordakhesh for a final offer of turning coat.
Lharvion 20, 1002 YK
Kaleth and Rilic arrive at the Equilibrius. Rilic manages to steal the Arcane Fortress armour to bring back and show House Thuranni in exchange for the final piece of the ring. Kaleth helps him escape by teleporting them back to the Keep.
Derli meets with Jaela Daran to warn her of the situation and learn a bit more about the sacrifice of the coatls that led to the imprisonment of the Rakshasa Rajahs. High Cardinal Krozen stops him and attempts to imprison him on his way out, but he quickly escapes and returns to Grey Titan’s Hold.
Lharvion 21, 1002 YK
With everyone reassembled in the capital, Mordakhesh makes good on some threats he made to Zil’dejin on his last visit as the Cult of War prepares some sort of dark ritual, with participants spanning rooftops the city.
Lharvion 17, 1002 YK
Zil’dejin arrives at the court of the Millennium Emperor on the Phoenix Eclipse, joining the others who are helping Derli decide whether to accept the Emperor’s offer of withdrawal from the Tournament of Blades. Zil’dejin adds his voice to the opposition to withdrawing, while Rilic remains the firmest supporter of that choice. Kaleth’s time clone vanishes (presumably taken by another Kaleth), while Lucan and Indicus offer only passive support one way or another. Derli voices a number of concerns to the Millennium Emperor, but the Emperor addresses them all. Zil’dejin also inquires about the fate of Eros in the Emperor’s new continent-spanning utopia, and the Emperor informs him that it will likely be made a semi-autonomous province, similar to what existed in ancient Galifar.
Derli finally makes a decision: he chooses to accept the Emperor’s offer. The Emperor dismisses his soldiers and then steps forward, summoning real blades from the talismans he carries, jamming them into the ground. He then takes Derli’s talismans, doing the same and forming a circle around Derli. Finally, he has Derli summon the Blade of Greed and hold it out before him, and then summons his own weapon, the ornate but clearly well-crafted Blade of Kings. He then prepares to behead Derli, as death is an important part of the process, when the party cries out for him to stop. They question the need for Derli’s death and his fate afterwards, and Rilic asks about where this ritual fits in with the Tournament of Blades. The Emperor explains that it exists on the border of what could be considered a duel of the Tournament, treading a very fine line. Zil’dejin wonders about his odds of coming back, and the Emperor suggests that they are roughly 90%. The party seems to accept this, and he carries forward, slicing off Derli’s head in a single stroke.
The soul of Derli finds itself confronted with two doors, which he now knows well correspond to the Oinodaemon and to Dol Dorn. Despite angry insistence bleeding out of the Oinodaemon’s door, Derli enters that of Dol Dorn, joining a muscular dwarf in a huge, busy drinking hall. “Dol Dorn” congratulates Derli on his decision, and mentions that he knows it wasn’t easy. He tells Derli to be at ease, and that the path to godhood isn’t further away — it is, in fact, closer. The nature of gods, according to the dwarf, is more a series of titles than immortal individuals, and the mantle of Dol Dorn has been worn by three separate entities since the ascension of the silver dragon Dolonoth An’dorrn, whose scale, fang, and shrunken heart Derli carries with him. Derli is on the path to ascending as Dol Dorn himself, it seems, and that provided he keeps on this path, now free of daemonic corruption, he will find himself a permanent ruler of the Realm of Sovereigns on his death, joining with the Dol Dorns of the past.
“Dol Dorn” then awakens Derli, restoring his body in a burst of holy fire. With blazing wings, Derli settles down to the floor of the Millennium Emperor’s court, now fully restored to his original form. The Emperor congratulates him on his return and his decision, and offers him a chance to rest before setting off again. He does, and the party is soon on their way. As they go, Derli notes the feeling of loss, as though there is a void in him. It dawns on him that he is no longer Horseman of War, and that somebody else has taken his place. On the trip back to Eros, the Collective briefly debates whether the new Horseman is most likely to be Solas or Zelishkar of the Bitter Flame.
Lharvion 18, 1002 YK
The party visits Merrix d’Cannith in Wroat. He gives Rilic a fragment of the Ring of Wondrous Control in exchange for Kaleth’s return of Project Fat Dragon, and they inform him of House Thuranni’s contract for his life. Their initial plan is to either remove part of his body and have Lucan restore it, and bring the body part back to Thuranni, or to bring something that is uniquely his. However, Merrix refuses to part with any of his limbs or appendages, and the only item he believes could truly identify him is his signet ring, which he explains is a major part of his claim to legitimacy as the rightful Baron of House Cannith, separating him from his rivals in Cannith’s other two splinter factions. He explains that he will go into hiding for a time, and spend most of his time in some Arcane Fortress armour he acquired somehow from the Arcane Congress, which he will reinforce with the Equilibrius for his own safety. The party asks him to alter some of their equipment in the Equilibrius when he departs: he is asked to combine Indicus’ armour with the Overlord-possessed harnesses and padding, to combine Lucan’s magitech arms into one, and to combine a couple of Rilic’s wands.
The Collective returns to Grey Titan’s Hold, where they are soon met by Zelishkar, Derli’s former Harbinger. The mystery of who is now the Horseman of War is quickly resolved — Zelishkar announces that the role now belongs to him, as he seized the throne during Derli’s brief state of nonexistence after being slain by the Millennium Emperor. As repayment for all Derli did for him, Zelishkar offers Derli a month of time to prepare before he makes his great move against Mordakhesh. At the end of that time frame, Zelishkar intends to throw open rifts to Shavarath and the Cinder Furnace and drive the Testament of Sin into the Material Plane, beginning the “ultimate battle.” With this, he departs.
The party discusses some plans for their month of preparation, and at Nimozaran the Green‘s prompting, hatch a loose plan for what to do if Rak Tulkhesh is actually freed. Zil’dejin suggests assembling the Staff of Three Dragons, which leads to a lot of vocal debate. As this subsides at something of a stalemate, Rilic announces that he is unsatisfied with the conclusion of their visit to the Cannith enclave. He proposes an alternative plan: they steal his Arcane Fortress armour and bring it back to show House Thuranni, avoiding the murder of Merrix d’Cannith and gaining a powerful item in the process. His plan involves disguising himself as a mid-to-high ranking member of House Cannith, and infiltrating the enclave in Wroat. Kaleth and Zil’dejin decide to join him in support of this plan, while Derli goes to Wroat to speak with Jaela Daran about obtaining the Church of the Silver Flame’s support against Mordakhesh in the coming days.
At the same time, Baalondorus takes his leave of the war room, as he must attend to an appointment with Queen Aurala ir’Wynarn of Aundair. Lucan and Indicus join him, raising some confusion in the other party members and in each other. As it happens, Lucan and Indicus have each just had private visits: Indicus with the ghostly shadow of the Rogue Reaper, and Lucan with the voice of Charon. Both of these dark patrons have ordered them individually to kill Queen Aurala; Indicus for more of the Reaper’s power, and Lucan for command over Charon’s armies in one month’s time. They do not reveal their purposes to each other or to the rest of the party, however, and fly on the back of Baalondorus in his true form as he flies to Fairhaven.
Lharvion 19, 1002 YK
Rilic, Kaleth, and Zil’dejin, using a mixture of disguises conjured from the Eclipse Keep’s magic mirror, Rilic’s disguise kit, and Kaleth’s magic, re-enter the Cannith enclave in Wroat. They are stopped by a few high-ranking officials of the House, who do not recognize them. Rilic’s ability to flawlessly lie allows him to pass near effortlessly, citing “unstable quadranium” he left on a workbench that could be disastrous if not attended to. Kaleth follows up on this by persuading the officials that he has to assist Rilic, while Zil’dejin claims to be an apprentice and note-taker for the other two. His efforts to get in are not as successful, but he makes it in eventually none the less. In the central workshop, the party discovers that Rilic’s lie was actually true: there is an ingot of unstable, magic-infused metal on a particularly messy workbench. The other artificers seem grateful for the party’s arrival, as it was a source of considerable concern for them. Meanwhile, Merrix makes his way out of the workshop, presumably bound for the Equilibrius.
The three Collective members gathered in the workshop hastily identify the unstable metal, and Rilic sweeps it into his extradimensional sleeve to a collective sigh of relief and round of applause from the spectating artificers. With that taken care of, they head through the side corridors to catch up to Merrix, who is preparing to board an extravagant self-propelling carriage. Rilic — in the guise of “Geoffrey Mechanomics” — claims to be an expert on antique magic armours, and can assist Merrix in augmenting his recently-acquired Arcane Fortress armour. Merrix, of course, believes this implicitly, but is extremely suspicious of Kaleth… or “James Arcanomancer,” a colleague of Geoffrey Mechanomics. Merrix asks a number of difficult and trick questions to try and expose his lack of knowledge. Eventually, Kaleth manages to satisfy him to an extent, but he still sends Zil’dejin (as “Erik the Notary”) away, asserting that he can’t take anybody to the Equilibrius who is not absolutelly cleared to be there. With this, they get in the windowless carriage and head off.
Meanwhile, Lucan and Indicus arrive at the Royal Court of Fairhold. They are taken in with Baalondorus, and instructed to wait in a sitting room while Baalondorus goes in to a separate chamber to speak with Aurala. As soon as the door closes behind him, the two set about quickly searching for an alternative or hidden way in, and discover such a route: an adjacent passage, opened with a mechanism several rooms away, leading to a dead stop behind a large portrait with removable eyes. Looking through the eyes of the painting, the watch the conversation take place, but the two are conversing in Draconic, making comprehension difficult. They do, however, manage to catch the name “Mellifleur” mentioned several times by each of them. They appear to be arguing, and it escalates until Baalondorus feels compelled to leave. They watch him slam the door and hear him calling for them in the sitting room, and Aurala immediately pulls a candle out of a drawer and lights it, giving rise to a black flame.
At this point, Indicus and Lucan burst out of the painting, weapons in hand. Indicus begins to have second thoughts and hesitates a moment while Lucan rushes forward, but Baalondorus charges back into the room and creates a force barrier around Aurala. He cautions Lucan and Indicus against what they are attempting, suggesting that Aurala has become a member of Mellifleur’s Cabal, but may be working against it from within. Indicus decides to question her, and Baalondorus gives him a chance to do just that by allowing him to speak with her through the shield. This is somewhat fruitless, and he ends up passing through the Ethereal plane using his ghostlike abilities to walk through the shield and enter the dome with her, much to her surprise. As the candle burns down, Lucan realizes it is probably going to summon something, and he attempts to snuff it, spreading the black flames to himself.
Elsewhere, while the artificed carriage appears to passing either underground or underwater, Merrix gives a simple test of artificing ability to Kaleth, who attempts to deceive Merrix and narrowly manages to convince him of success in the task.
At the same time, Zil’dejin meets with Mordakhesh the Shadowsword, who has come again to visit the Eclipse Keep in Grey Titan’s Hold. Because Zil’dejin has previously had the Mark of War on his flesh, Mordakhesh offers him the opportunity to take it again and lead the armies of the Rage of War in the battles to come, in exchange promising safety for him and his family when the world descends into violence. Zil’dejin adamantly refuses, and Mordakhesh assures him that he looks forward to killing him with the same blade that ended Baelin Bronzesmith‘s life. He also learns from Zil’dejin’s threats exactly how long Zelishkar gave them to prepare (and by extension, how long until he launches an attack against Mordakhesh), and notes that Mordakhesh will be intiating something much sooner.
Lharvion 20, 1002 YK
The carriage carrying Merrix, Rilic, and Kaleth arrives at the Equilibrius. They get out of the carriage and see that it is in the midst of some tall mountain peaks with a single, narrow path leading up to a huge, faintly glowing central structure surrounded by a number of satellite buildings floating in the air. Some of these satellites float freely, and others are anchored with chains. It emits the constant sound of machinery at work.
Because Merrix is still suspicious of Kaleth, he asks the mage to wait in the carriage while he and Rilic go into the Equilibrius to deal with the Arcane Fortress armour. Kaleth waits until they have gone most of the way up to the central structure before turning himself invisible and pursuing, almost immediately triggering a variety of wards, prompting several powerful adamantine golems to give chase to him, creating a distraction. Merrix leads Rilic quickly through a series of catwalks in what turns out to be a very cramped space inside the machinery, which Merrix mentions offhand “mostly built itself.” They arrive in a small storage room with a suit of Arcane Fortress armour. Rilic offers to modify it, and ultimately knocks out and magically imprisons Merrix (using a spell acquired from Kaleth stored in his ring) before stealing the armour and making away with it. Kaleth follows him, and once they are relatively clear, he teleports them back to the keep.
Derli, meanwhile, manages to get into the Cathedral of the Silver Flame in Flamekeep, where he meets with Jaela Daran and informs her of what is happening. She thanks him for his dilligence, and confirms that, according to the precepts of her faith, the Silver Flame is indeed what is left of the pure souls of the coatl sacrificed to contain the Overlords, given voice by the saint Tira Miron. Jaela explains she has to speak with the Silver Flame to discover more about this matter, and Derli prepares to leave when he is stopped by High Cardinal Krozen. The High Cardinal accuses Derli of causing trouble and spreading lies to instill panic, which Derli denies. However, seeing the situation as pointless, Derli tries to leave, when he is stopped again and surrounded as Krozen calls for the Knights Militant. Derli knows he can easily defeat the knights, but doesn’t want to create any unnecessary violence, especially with Krozen wielding the Dreamheart, so he begrudgingly agrees to go to the cells below the Cathedral to await an inquisitor.
The inquisitor eventually arrives in Derli’s cell, a heavily warded and scripture-covered room with a single tiny window and a thick, rolling door. Derli refuses to cooperate and attempts to simply walk out the door, at which point a smile spreads across the inquisitor’s face, and the wards trigger. Large silver chains shoot up from the floor to bind Derli, but he powers forward, snapping the chains to the inquisitor’s shock. He then walks out and slams the door behind him, and hastily makes his way out of the Cathedral. He takes the road south to Olath.
Lharvion 21, 1002 YK
From Olath, Derli is able to catch a trading vessel back to Eros, and makes his way back to the capital.
In Grey Titan’s Hold, Mordakhesh’s foreshadowing comes to fruition, as dozens of cultists from the Cult of War climb to the rooftops and begin the casting of some sort of terrible ritual.