Barrakas 18, 1002 YK
Still in the bowels of Dragon’s Crown, the Eclipse Collective confronts Mordakhesh the Shadowsword, their archenemy for years. Mordakhesh has just absorbed the lingering souls of some of his greatest foes, while Rilic has stolen his moment and taken some of those souls himself. Because Mordakhesh has had time to prepare, and is in his base of power, the fight proves very difficult, but the party defeatrs him without loss of life. Mordakhesh is ultimately finished by Derli, leaving behind only ash and the Shadowsword itself. Rilic pockets it, and the party is restored to a limited extent by what they believe to be divine intervention.
They proceed into the last unexplored room in Dragon’s Crown other than Rak Tulkhesh’s inner sanctum, which contains a pillar of fire, mixing abyssal and divine energies. They contemplate removing one or the other from the unstable equilibrium, but ultimately decide against it and approach the inner sanctum. There, they meet with Talbot, who gives them a coin capable of restoring or obliterating its user, depending on the coin’s result. Indicus takes it, and Talbot takes his leave after refusing to answer some questions about his identity. Indicus dons the Demon Overlord Armour, and Zil’dejin is given the Shadowsword by Rilic. They then proceed inside.
Rak Tulkhesh, the Rage of War, is present within. He attempts to tempt some of the party members away at the last minute, but all refuse, so he emerges into the chamber to fight them. The battle claims Indicus’ life early on and sees many of the party members frenzied by bloodlust, a power that comes as easily to Rak Tulkhesh as breathing. Derli is killed when he attempts to flip Talbot’s coin, but is brought back with a surge of divine power by Dol Dorn from the alehall in the Plains of Hal’deth. He lasts only as long as he can keep his form together against the surge of divine power, but it is sufficient; the others are able to assemble the Staff of Three Dragons in the time that he buys for them before Derli is destroyed, leaving the mortal plane to assume the mantle of Dol Dorn.
When the Staff is assembled, they use it to destroy Rak Tulkhesh, killing a Demon Overlord for the first time in Eberron’s history. Then, they tap into its residual power as it fades away, each of them making some change to the fabric of Eberron before the Staff’s power vanishes. Zil’dejin, having been the central sacrifice needed for the Staff’s assembly, fades away with its power, and the world is restored to some level of normalcy.
Barrakas 18, 1002 YK
The Eclipse Collective stands in the chamber of Mordakhesh the Shadowsword in Dragon’s Crown, the resting place of Rak Tulkhesh, the Rage of War. Mordakhesh’s attempt at consuming the greatest of the souls of his defeated opponents has been foiled by Rilic, who, using his Mythic power, stole the effect from the rakshasa to take the remaining souls himself. Not daunted by this setback, Mordakhesh blinks out of the veil of souls using the power of the Shadowsword and, with the antimagic field still surrounding him, appears next to Kaleth and his time-clone.
The antimagic surrounding Mordakhesh immediately dismisses Kaleth’s time clone, and with Kaleth backed against the wall of the arena-like chamber, he has little recourse but to try and whip Mordakhesh with the very same whip Mordakhesh gave to him. It soon becomes apparent that Mordakhesh is moving at inhuman speeds, channelling vestiges of two of his greatest opponents: Baelin Bronzesmith and Zelishkar of the Bitter Flame. He takes Kaleth down quickly before moving back over to the others. Rilic, meanwhile, interrupted Mordakhesh’s absorption of souls, and so he too is channeling vestiges of two of Mordakhesh’s greatest opponents, including a former Keeper of the Silver Flame and a legendary assassin.
With Mordakhesh having had ample time to prepare for this battle, and being in a base of power — and with the party having already been worn down by their trek through Dragon’s Crown to this point — the fight proceeds much differently than the party’s previous encounters with the rakshasa. He easily keeps pace with the entire party with the vestiges he holds, and in one stroke takes down Conlon, Indicus, and Derli. Rilic, channelling the former Keeper of the Flame, manages to periodically restore fallen party members back to health, which provides a small advantage in fighting Mordakhesh. Initially, he focuses on restoring Kaleth, but Mordakhesh, expressing a hatred for spell casters, keeps cutting him down before he can act.
Soon, only Rilic and Derli stand against Mordakhesh, but both are near the point of defeat. Rilic has staggered to his feet after being unconscious, and Derli is trading blows with Mordakhesh one-on-one. Mordakhesh swings his blade at Derli, but Derli gets one more strike in before the sword connects, and this is all he needs. His axe strikes Mordakhesh under the arm and carves a path upwards, destroying Mordakhesh in a burst of red-orange fire as it moves and leaving nothing but ash and the Shadowsword behind. Rilic puts the demonic weapon in his sleeve dimension, and helps Derli get the others back to their feet. They prepare to go back out to the bivouac for one final rest before attempting to reach Rak Tulkhesh’s final room, but are restored by a burst of what they interpret as divine intervention before they do.
Other than the room in which Rak Tulkhesh’s prison is situated, there is one room in Dragon’s Crown they have not yet explored, and the Collective chooses to examine it before moving forward. After carefully examining for traps and successfully removing an arcane lock and a mechanical trigger in the door, the party reveals a steep staircase leading down to a column of fire. The flames are composed of the deep red-orange power associated with the Rage of War, and a whitish fire resembling the actual Silver Flame. After some careful inspection, coordination, and consulting Eltimar, they determine that their suspicions were correct: the white flames are pure and essentially divine, while the other flames are demonic in nature. Though the party cannot discern their purpose, they realize that this is an unstable equilibrium, and that they could probably remove one of the two forces. However, this would cause the other one to break free.
They debate for a while on the possible consequences of removing one or the other, knowing from Conlon’s consultation with Eltimar that either way it would have an effect on the Rage of War. Conlon and Derli are poised to make an attempt at removing the pure force while suppressing the dark force, and Kaleth is preparing to lock them in the room for everyone else’s safety during the attempt. At the last minute, however, they decide the better of it, and choose to leave the pillar of fire alone.
The Collective returns to the giant black doors that provide access to Rak Tulkhesh’s inner sanctum. Talbot waits outside, and congratulates the party for getting so far. He offers them one final gift: a coin, which when flipped will either obliterate the user or restore them to full strength. They ask him a number of questions about his identity, with Rilic proposing that Talbot is actually the Traveller, but Talbot makes no comment towards any of this and walks back out towards the bivouac. When Talbot has left, they take a deep breath. Indicus dons his Demon Overlord Armour, against the possible consequences, and Rilic gives Zil’dejin the Shadowsword, which he has coveted since he witnessed its use in killing Baelin Bronzesmith. Once all is in readiness, they place the last balor lord glyph into the door. It opens quickly and silently, and once they have stepped through, closes behind them just as fast.
The inner sanctum of Dragon’s Crown is a large, mostly-empty space set into a shallow pit, the floor engraved with some ancient and now-unreadable markings. At the far end is the towering mass of Khyber shards that is the reunified prison of Rak Tulkhesh. As they enter, Rak Tulkhesh speaks to each of the Collective members in turn, urging them one last time to join his side in the coming war on Eberron. Some are tempted — Zil’dejin is offered sanctuary for the rest of the Collective and his family during the war, and Derli is given the opportunity to retake the position of the Horseman of War. Kaleth is offered assistance in conquering the Temporal Prime. Ultimately, though, they all refuse.
With his last attempt at persuasion over, the Rage of War appears in the center of the room, emerging from his prison. He resembles a balor made perfect: Rak Tulkhesh is, after all, the template from which all other balors are made. He wields a whip of demonic fire in one hand and a pitch-black sword emblazoned with fiery runes in the other. Before the fight begins in earnest, Rak Tulkhesh uses his innate power to force many of the party members into a state of frenzied bloodlust, compelling them to attack whatever is closest to them.
As Zil’dejin, Derli, and soon Conlon begin attacking one another, the Rage of War shows the power of his fire whip, lashing out at the Collective members not affected by the frenzy. Indicus, now wearing the Demon Overlord Armour, gets close enough to attack Rak Tulkhesh with the armour’s claws and does a great deal of damage before being cleaved with the demon’s blade. When Indicus has fallen, Rak Tulkhesh absorbs his soul, using it to heal some of his wounds. As the fight goes on, Conlon manages to break his frenzy (and two further attempts at the same) with the power of his Lunar Eclipse ring, while Derli and Zil’dejin continue to drift in and out of rage. Kaleth and Derli cast remove curse spells when they are able to keep the party in the fight against the Rage of War.
When the Demon Overlord is sufficiently weakened, Conlon, Rilic, and Kaleth bring together the Rod of Order, the Chains of Balance, and the Chaos Gear, respectively, intending to use Zil’dejin as the willing sacrifice needed to complete the Rite of Assembly for the Staff of Three Dragons. Derli gathers Talbot’s coin from Indicus’ body and tries to flip it, but it lands on tails, and Derli is obliterated. He finds himself in the Plains of Hal’deth once again, meeting with Dol Dorn, who informs Derli that he can send him back to the Material Plane one final time. After that, Derli will either fade away or become the next Dol Dorn. Derli agrees to this, and manifests back where he stood as a shining avatar of Dol Dorn. The divine power coursing through him is limited, and when it fades, he will die permanently, but his only intent at this point is to keep Rak Tulkhesh from interfering with the 30 seconds needed to complete the Rite of Assembly.
Derli holds back the Rage of War while the others carry out the ritual. Zil’dejin and Rilic provide support, as Zil’dejin does not need to participate until the end, and Rilic is quick enough to act even while contributing. The ceiling is collapsed on the Rage of War twice by Rilic’s wand of disintregation, and Zil’dejin manages to impale the Rakshasa Rajah with Glanvar’s Glaive. Derli prevents Rak Tulkhesh from moving closer to the others and forces him gradually back, managing to bring him down and stun him twice throughout the battle. As he goes on, however, it becomes progressively more difficult to maintain his physical form with the divine power in his body, but he holds out much longer than expected, up to the absolute limit before delivering one final strike and vanishing in a burst of brilliant light.
Though their protector is gone, the others are prepared to finish assembly of the Staff of Three Dragons. The Rage of War manages one final strike with his whip, intended to kill Kaleth before the last piece can be put into place, but in an unexpected turn of events, Conlon leaps between Kaleth and the whip. With guidance from Deril, who has newly ascended to the mantle of the Sovereign of Strength and Steel, Conlon moves his blade almost effortlessly to intercept the whip, causing it to wrap around his blade before he pulls it free of Rak Tulkhesh’s hands.
A moment later, Kaleth contributes the Star of Chaos to the Rite of Assembly, and the Staff of Three Dragons is formed. Zil’dejin takes it in his hands and, knowing instinctively what to do, taps into its power. Indicus’ soul is ripped free of Rak Tulkhesh’s grasp, and all present have the perception of being pulled up and away from Dragon’s Crown, into the sky and seemingly out of reality, looking down upon the world of Eberron. In a blinding flash, Dragon’s Crown is destroyed, and its contents — including Rak Tulkhesh — are obliterated, marking the first time in all of the world’s history that a Rakshasa Rajah has ever been slain.
As the last of the Staff’s power fades away, and Zil’dejin begins to fade with it, each of the members of the Eclipse Collective present retains a small portion of the Staff’s power. They each possess a small portion of the basic essence of the world, and are each able to influence it in some way.
- Zil’dejin Firebane uses the power to restore the Mournland in its entirety, undoing the last attempt at using the Staff of Three Dragons.
- Indicus uses it to transform himself, using his current wraith-like existence subservient to the Rogue Reaper, into what he calls the “Prime Reaper”, filling the spot of the reaper killed by Lucan Vrinsk.
- Conlon uses the power to rapidly accelerate his campaign against the dragons of Argonnessen, allowing him to conquer fully half of the continent extremely quickly alongside the Son of Caiphon.
- Kaleth subdues the influence of Culdrathan the Judge in the Temporal Prime and effectively usurps him, attaining the status of something like a demigod by collapsing all of his disparate timelines into one being.
- Rilic reverses most of the damage done to Fernia, pushing Levistus, the Bringer of Ice out of the City of Brass and restoring the control of the efreet, preventing the rapid freezing of the Sea of Fire.
Additionally, Derli, who has just assumed the mantle of godhood and still retains some power to influence the world directly (before falling back to subtle pushes and pulls, as with the rest of the Sovereign Host), turns his surviving Crusaders into immortal guardians of the faith.
With all of this done, the power of the Staff of Three Dragons fades away. The three pieces vanish, and Zil’dejin Firebane goes along with them. When the smoke clears, Dragon’s Crown is free of the numerous factions fighting over it, and only Conlon and Rilic stand in Grey Titan’s Hold. With little fanfare, they go their separate ways — Rilic to the Eclipse Keep, and Conlon to his new domain.