The Collective accepts this mission — after ensuring that there are rewards to be had — and parts ways with the caravan, intending to rejoin it further down the road. The observatory appears to be ransacked, filled with orcs and ogres. Only one researcher is found, who has gone rogue and joined the warband. The orcs and their kin are hostile, and attack the party as soon as they enter, so the Collective spends some time fighting them. They discover among the rogue researcher’s notes the word “Baator” featured prominently.
Notes: This one got cut a little short, unfortunately, and was continued in the next session.
Wir, Barrakas 25, 998 YK (Day 39).
Approximately twenty four hours after the riots begin, Pethin decides that the riots have quieted enough that the Eclipse Collective can attempt to leave the city. Unfortunately, many rioters have now had time to rationalize somewhat, and though Lucan was initially regarded as a kind of hero for killing the archbishop, many now see him as a villain for killing the well-respected Lady Setia ir’Tanast. As a result, the party must try to leave discreetly. The lightning rail is also not an option, as House Orien has stopped service beyond Fairhaven until the revolt is over.
Pethin offers to guide them out of the city quietly, and directs them to the nearby town of Daskaran, where large groups of people fleeing Thaliost have gone and formed a caravan. He suggests they join this caravan and stay with it until Fairhaven, from which they can take the lightning rail to Passage and continue on their way to Greenheart. The Collective agrees that this is probably the best course of action, and decides to follow the road west around the Silver Wood to get to Daskaran. Pethin gets them to the western gate, bids them farewell and congratulates Lucan on a job well done, even if things didn’t turn out as predicted. The group then heads out.
Sar, Barrakas 28, 998 YK (Day 42).
On the way to Daskaran, Garmeth considers going to his old monastery. He asks the party what their thoughts are on the subject.
The others are initially confused as he has never really discussed the monastery before, and don’t quite know where it is. Garmeth explains that it is “beyond the forest,” which the group takes to mean the Silvering Wood which they are currently moving around to get to Daskaran. He tries to explain that the forest he’s referring to is the Towering Wood in the Eldeen Reaches, and that the monastery is in Droaam. Zil’dejin and Elyas offer disapproval, Stahlstrauss approves, and the rest have little to say on the matter.
They keep walking, but for now, Garmeth keeps his thoughts of the monastery to himself.
Mol, Rhaan 2, 998 YK (Day 44).
Garmeth begins to wonder why the group still doesn’t know much about Elyas, or specifically why he’s accompanying the Eclipse Collective. They know only that he is looking for some kind of long-lost tome of knowledge. He decides to question the deva.
When asked, Elyas is completely silent. Garmeth briefly contemplates using some kind of poison to force him to tell the truth, and Eshunu smacks him on the back of the head for his foolishness. Garmeth is silent again.
Sar, Rhaan 7, 998 YK (Day 49).
At long last, the Eclipse Collective arrives in the town of Daskaran, where they immediately look for the caravan Pethin mentioned. They find it making preparations to leave at the west end of town, and they approach to try joining it. They are first met by a dragonmarked gnome who introduces himself as Abray d’Sivis. Instead of just travelling with them, the gnome offers the Eclipse Collective payment to act as escorts for the caravan to protect it in case of danger. They accept, and in exchange Abray offers them travel papers notarized by him without charge. After the party is finished with the bureaucracy, they are ready to proceed, and the caravan sets out at once.
Sul, Rhaan 8, 998 YK (Day 50).
The first evening passes with little consequence, but the next day, the party is approached by a middle-aged half-elf accompanied by a red faced gnome. The half-elf says that he is Ephos, and the gnome is Roswyn, his apprentice. They are researchers with the Arcane Congress, a very old society based in Aundair dedicated to magical research. They talk with Elyas (who they find absolutely fascinating, as neither has ever seen a living deva) about their work for a while, regarding the interplay between the Silver Flame as worshiped by the Church and arcane fire magic. Meanwhile, Zil’dejin and Stahlstrauss discuss the negative aspects of the curse put upon them by Paldemar.
After some time of this, the researchers ask Elyas if he can do them a favour, as both an adventurer and a scholar. The Arcane Congress has recently reclaimed an observatory in the nearby Starpeaks that the caravan will soon approach. The observatory is centuries old, and the researchers within have recently cut all contact with the outside world. Ephos estimates the party will have four hours to investigate the observatory and still catch up with the caravan in the village of Askelios if they part ways with it at the foot of the Starpeaks mountains. Elyas agrees.
Mol, Rhaan 9, 998 YK (Day 51).
At the point where the road turns at the foot of the Starpeaks, the party separates from the caravan to head up the old path leading to the Starpeaks observatory. It takes them about sixteen hours to get up the steep and rough mountain terrain.
Zol, Rhaan 10, 998 YK (Day 52).
The observatory is a large and magnificent structure. The party heads inside to an entry hall decorated with astronomical and astrological images, and quickly sets about investigating, keenly aware of their time limit. They first happen upon a library, where they hear voices. They knock, and are met by an ogre bound in patchwork armor. He seems confused, and is answering to somebody within the library. When this unknown person orders it, the ogre attacks, holding the door to prevent the party from entering. They eventually beat him back and see that there is a mage atop the bookshelves, casting spells upon them from there. He rings a gong as they enter, but it makes no sound. Indeed, it appears to have no effect at all until a band of orcs enter through a door to the north, and join the battle.
The party eventually defeats them, but in their haste they kill the mage. On investigation he appears to have been an Arcane Congress researcher, but as Zil’dejin notes from a notebook found on his body, his research is peculiar and not apparently related (directly) to the stars. The notes are hard to follow, but indicate bitterness at his role and frequently mention the word “Baator” (soon identified by those who know as a plane in the Astral Sea, also called the Nine Hells).
They move onward to discover a barracks-like area from which the orcs entered the library. There is little here other than cell-like bedrooms, and a set of large, brass double doors ornately engraved. They find that it is barred from the inside, so they knock. They can hear a voice responding from within, but it is muffled and unintelligible. The party decides to look for another way in.
They come across a kitchen, which is also barricaded. They try to break down the door, but the first attempt is a failure and is accompanied by scuffling from within. When they do break it down, they find that the room is occupied by trolls, another ogre, and some orcs that look more capable than the last group. Another fight breaks out, and the party struggles at first with the trolls’ ability to regenerate until they realize that they must burn it with fire or acid to prevent its wounds from closing again. The orc storm shaman also proves to be troublesome, as his totem absorbs lightning and sound-based attacks directed towards it until it hits capacity and explodes, injuring some of the party (and the orc himself). The party stops after the room is cleared for just a moment to catch their breath and reassess the situation.