With another slave who wants freedom, they go down into the ruins of the old Cyran fort to assault the insane warforged there and seize a head for the Becoming God, the head of an old warforged titan. They bring it back to the Godforged, and are set free, heading back out into the Mournland with a new ally.
Notes: Elyas remained unconscious through this whole affair, his ability to heal from the blow to the head diminished by the Mournland. When the titan head was recovered, Zan-kyri rigged it to explode, but was not able to do all he wanted; the party is left uncertain to whether he succeeded.
Far, Barrakas 20, 999 YK.
The warforged lead the party on a six-day trek. Though the party has horses, the warforged do not, and traversing the Mournland is a difficult affair, even though the mist is thin inside the borders. Their destination is a sort of hybrid of camp and fortress, nested in a low valley where it is hidden by the mist. The walls are assembled in a ramshackle manner of stone and wood from different sources, and they enter through a rolling barricade clearly made from remnants of an older, sturdier gate.
Strangely, the inside of the camp is nearly free of mist. There are many small buildings within the walls, most of them built out of the rubble that litters the ground. Warforged mill about everywhere, and notably, their ghulra – the runic symbols on warforged foreheads often used as markers of uniqueness among their kind – are all worn down to be indistinguishable. Strangest of all, a tremendous statue is apparently under construction at one end of the camp. It resembles a jury-rigged warforged, not much unlike those that were created by Artauche’s creation forge when it was powered by the Rod of Order, though on a much larger scale. Parts of it are still missing, including an arm and the head. It is covered with religious symbols from numerous faiths, some nailed on, others forged on, still more attached by chains or ropes.
The four, with the unconscious Elyas among them, are brought to a large sheltered area that covers a pit in the ground. They are thrown into the pit, and Garmeth pleads with them to hear the party’s story, and mentions Equis’ name. His cries seem to fall on deaf ears, however, and they are left there by the guards. Looking around, they notice many other people of all descriptions: young and old, weak and strong, races of all sorts. They, too, are stripped to just ragged clothing, and one among them, a stocky, blonde-haired dwarf, yells curses at the warforged guards as the warforged leave.
An elderly man approaches Garmeth, Zan-kyri and Zil’dejin. He tells them his name is Morris Durran, grandfather and partial namesake of the former member of the Eclipse Collective, Cecil Morris Duran, who was last seen after the fight with Borahm the Scourge in Vedykar. Morris is a merchant, who attempted to cut through the Mournland on a business venture, when his group was taken by the warforged. He says that they call themselves the Godforged, and that the “statue” they saw on their way in is a body the Godforged are building for their god. The people they see here are all slaves, used to construct it. Morris sees the situation as hopeless, but the dwarf who was so vocal earlier begs to differ. Before he can say much, however, they are told to “stand back and pay respect” to the high priest of the Godforged.
An unusually tall warforged, surrounded by a slightly crackling field of lightning, appears at the precipice of the slave pit. He lowers the ladder, and stands face to face with the party, slowly looking them over, and coming to Zan-kyri.
“Ah…yes?” Zan-kyri responds, seeming slightly unnerved.
“Your arm. You are self-forged.”
Zan-kyri lifts his battlefist, and raises an eyebrow. “Yes, and…?”
“I am called Sturmreiter, and I am the Voice of the Becoming God. We can offer you your freedom, and that of your companions, if you will help us.”
“What do I have to do?”
Sturmreiter points to the battlefist. “You are a blurred line between the warforged and the fleshbound. You are close to us, yet you are not one of us. The Becoming God is not as your deities; it is an aggregate of all warforged souls, brought together into singularity upon death. It exists, and for this we build a body, but this is not enough. We require… a leader. With work, we can bring you closer than any fleshbound has come to our kind, and with your sacrifice, you alone will have the power to lead the Becoming God to its shell here in Eberron.”
“You want me to sacrifice myself? What will happen when this Becoming God comes to Eberron?”
“It will lead us into a golden age for warforged. The fleshbound will fall, and we will take our rightful place as masters of Khorvaire. And you will be at the helm.”
“You’d have me kill myself to commit genocide? I don’t think so.”
“You will not reconsider?”
“A shame. You weren’t our first choice, anyway. I would like to have one of my companions from the War take the honor, but they are… hard to find.”
“Would one of these companions have been named Stahlstrauss?”
“Yes. I take it you are his ally, then. We fought in the Last War, but I have not seen him in some time. He would surely take a cause as noble as this, where a fleshbound like you would not.” He hesitates for a moment, then continues. “There may be another way to earn your freedom.”
“And what would that be?” asks Garmeth.
“Before the Day of Mourning, this place was a Cyran fort, called Fort Earthpass. When Cyre collapsed, and the warforged were spared, those first days were filled with chaos. Many warforged went mad or wild from the strain. One group, an unfortunate band that was only recently forged, were not able to complete their initial education. They stole some artifacts from their Creation Forge and fled here, to a fort that was mostly driven underground by that strange occurrence.
“We arrived here, seeking to use it as our home, and found them here already. We drove them into the ruins of the fort beneath the earth, and have locked them down there. But they have something we want. The body of the Becoming God is not complete, you understand. It needs a head. And a suitable one is in possession of the mad warforged, who stole it from an unfinished Titan in their Creation Forge, and worship it as a god itself. If only they knew.”
“So you want us to go down and get this head?” Zil’dejin asks, somewhat skeptical.
“Yes. An offer extended once, and only once, to all slaves who come here. We will place your equipment just inside the fort’s entrance, and lock you in. When you retrieve the head, signal us, and we will let you have your freedom.”
The party agrees, seeing no recourse, under the condition that Elyas be freed as well, though he cannot help them in the task due to unconsciousness. The dwarf from before, who now identifies himself as one Derli d’Kundarak, a paladin of Dol Dorrn, offers his assistance as well. Zan-kyri, Zil’dejin, Garmeth and Derli are taken to the entrance of the old fort, which is laid horizontally in the ground. The entrance chamber, which curves down to a normal hallway, does indeed contain their equipment. The door is locked behind them.
The first chamber is a kind of guard post, watched over by the mad warforged. Garmeth attempts to reason with them, but it seems they are incapable of speech, and make only angered noises like the high-pitched grinding of metal. Cannith arbalesters, attached to broken pillars in this room, fire upon the party while the warforged engaged, but their brute force is scarcely a match for Zil’dejin’s tactics, Zan-kyri’s ingenuity, Derli’s steadfastness and Garmeth’s speed, and they are quickly beaten down. Zan-kyri removes the crossbow component of one of the arbalesters, finding it to be functional on its own, and they proceed further into Fort Earthpass.
The tunnels splits in two ahead, and they hear a faint tapping echoing through them. Derli attempts to determine the source of the tapping, but due to the echoes cannot tell one tunnel from the other. Zan-kyri searches for footprints in the dust in either tunnel, but finds them in both. Garmeth examines the area for traps, but accidentally triggers one, injuring himself in the process. Zil’dejin, meanwhile, attempts to recall any information he might know about the fort from the Last War, and recalls being stationed here once for the battle of Fort Earthpass. The bulk of the fort can be found in the right tunnel, and so this is where they go.
He tries to correlate areas that don’t really correspond with the old layout, and which areas would not be used by the warforged. This, coupled with Garmeth’s application of his knowledge on the way aberrant creatures think — rationalizing that the madness of these warforged is comparable — they are able to avoid the warforged. Zan-kyri is now able to determine the source of the tapping sound, and they head in that direction, which Derli realizes is also a source of air currents moving in the tunnels.
They find a chamber with a shallow pit in the ground, covered by a steel mesh net. A long leg is extended through the net, and is hitting the ground heavily. On closer inspection, it is a massive spider, apparently trapped here by the mad warforged. The net is released from its tense state by their approach, and the spider frees itself. Derli takes this opportunity to reveal his intense fear of spiders, so Garmeth attempts to put it into submission by imitating the grinding noise made by the warforged. This is to little avail, however, and Zan-kyri searches his knowledge for any information on giant spiders that may be useful, but comes up with nothing. Finally, in a last desperate effort to keep the thing from attacking, Zil’dejin and Derli begin yelling at it frantically. The screaming is loud enough to shake the tunnels themselves, and the spider scurries off.
They follow through to an area that provides the air currents Derli noticed earlier; there is a small shaft here extending to the surface, providing air. The room contains a door, and a pit leading down into the ground with a ladder. They take the ladder first, and find themselves in a dark room smelling of rust. Inside, more mad warforged pick through the remains of corpses while a slaughterstone slicer (seen before in their raid on Glyphstone Keep) waits, its blades covered in blood. They engage the party. It is difficult at first, but eventually they triumph, though Zan-kyri is dealt a fatal wound in the process. One of the warforged has recovered a scroll of Raise Dead, which Zil’dejin attempts to take, but it rolls on the ground where it is grabbed by a priest of the Sovereign Host. He has lost a leg to the construct, and is bleeding heavily. Half-delirious, he begs the party to let him have it, to bring back his wife, but they convince him to raise Zan-kyri instead to increase his chances of getting out. The priest is medically tended to as well as they are able to, and the group sets up camp as the ritual is performed.
Sar, Barrakas 21, 999 YK.
Zan-kyri, returned to life, quickly assembles a makeshift leg for the priest to walk on from one of the mad warforged. It is not much, but it is enough to keep him moving. They then press on to the door they located earlier. This room is a barracks room, and the old beds still stand. A fireplace is in the center of the room, and on its burnt-out ashes rests the head they came here to find. Some kind of shaman watches over a pile of bones, who shrieks, raising the bones into an awkward but potent golem of sorts, prompting a fight.
Before taking the head, Zan-kyri attempts to use his artificing skills to rig the head to explode, and though he is not able to complete the process, the head is made far less stable. The four carry back the head, collapsing tunnels behind them to prevent pursuit, and finally are able to bring it to the Godforged.
“You have done well,” Sturmreiter says, having his warforged carry it to the build site. “As promised, you are free to go. Your companion is with your horses and equipment, near the entrance. If you should happen across Stahlstrauss again on your travels, send him to me. Otherwise, do not return here again.”
“Believe me, we won’t,” Garmeth grumbles, preparing his horse.
The gate is rolled back, and the party exits back into the misty Mournland.
“Well, lads, I guess it’s time for us to part ways,” Derli says.
“Why is that?” Zil’dejin asks with only a slight edge of intimidation.
“I’ve finished my pilgrimage. It’s time for me to move on.”
“Pilgrimage? How will you get out of this place on your own?”
“I do this every year, to pay respect to those massacred in the Last War. It shouldn’t be a problem.”
“And look where it got you this time.”
“You’re welcome to travel with us,” Zan-kyri says. “At least for now.”
“Alright, you don’t need to twist my arm. I’ll stay with you.”
“Then consider yourself a member of the Eclipse Collective,” Garmeth says. “Now, let’s go on to Metrol.”