Mid-Winter, Hadrer 8th (The Month of Protection), 151 AV in the Great Desert of Acerak:
Raldinian and Leon peacefully spend the night in the Dreamlands gaining some much needed rest. Returning to Scarn in the morn, they find the camp a shambles and still taste the choking remnants of the poisonous gas. Following a trail, they finally find their companions holed up in the undertunnels running below the great desert. Their companions, having fared poorly in the night, were tired and restless, still coughing and hacking from the near fatal exposure to the gas.
Taking a tunnel that smelled of fresher air, the group was surprised as they found themselves surrounded by tall insect warriors who seemingly stepped out of the shadows and stone of the tunnels. Carrying strange polearms and tri-blades made of crystals, the mantis warriors demanded tribute to pass the tunnels for their master. Tired and not really looking for a fight, the group payed the small toll and were allowed to pass. A bit more conversation with the terse warriors (under the helpful spell by Zoltan to understand their clacking speech) revealed that their master was Zer’n Ket, daughter to the Terror of the Desert, Gos’rn Ket, a blue dragon of great power and mystery.
The party exited the tunnels into the morning sun as it began to break over the great desert wasteland of Acerak. To the North was the the mountain range called the Cradle of the Gods, where it is rumored that the Titans first made Vangal, god of Pestilence and Destruction, their first son before birthing others. Now, those mountains are blasted and some are cast down due to the thunderous battles that occurred in the Divine War between parents and their children.
Looking over the sand dunes closer to the tunnel exit, the group saw a line of camels and nomads a few miles away making their way across the dunes. After hours of marching in the hot sun and beginning to feel nauseous and delirious from heat stroke, they finally meet up with the men where they had made camp mid-morning. These nomads were more friendly and shared bread with the strange looking fellows. The nomads normally slept the day away and travelled mostly at night and into the early morning. Known as the Ikir tribe, the headman allowed the visitors to sleep in one of the great tents of the Ikir, which Raldinian and Leon noticed had magical sigils inscribed upon its sides and magical totems hanging from its poles. Detecting for magicks, they found that the tents were indeed magical protecting their users from the dangers of the desert heat as well as providing for comfortable sleep and rest.
Sleeping the day away, the group felt much better as they awoke just as the sun was going down. The nomads rapidly took their camp down and packed their beasts. The headman of the Ikir blessed the party and then led his tribe across the moonlit dunes. Feeling better, the party made their way back to the tunnel mouth and once again entered the undertunnels.
Mid-Winter, Hadrer 9th (The Month of Protection), 151 AV in the Great Desert of Acerak:
After paying another payment to the mantis warriors, the party spent a bit of time retracing their steps and slowly making their way back to the Temple of the Conqueror in the ruins of Pazar. Through the double doors, they continue down the stairs and back to the mysterious black passage…concerned of repeating the previous ordeal where Zhou Pan nearly got pulled into pieces.
After much brainstorming and concern, the group decides to allow Xaylin to spider climb along the walls and lead some of the party via flying to explore the room via touch, hoping to find a portal or door that they can open. Eventually, they carefully navigate the room by not touching ceiling or floor and find a door. Xaylin feels around and finds a lock, but knows that he can’t pick it in the conditions given. However, he manages to pull out a vial of acid that he has kept for a special occasion and uses it to wreck the locking mechanism. Pushing the door open, the room with the blackness suddenly is brightly lit and there are no black tentacles on floor or ceiling. The rest of the party joins up with their companions and goes on through the door.
The next room is a long rectangular room with one end domed and ending in a half circle. Under the dome is a large statue of Chardun, the great general, though it appears to have been subject to graffiti and chipped in some places. Around the base of the statue are a number of written characters. Down the length of the chamber are eight large pillars supporting the ceiling and the sand and stone above it. Across from the place they entered is a similar hallway providing exit.
Investigating the statue, Zoltan uses his priestly magick to read the inscriptions which appear to be from a religious book known as the Diabolus:
The Great General stood before the walls of the City of Brass and the efreet sultans felt fear. They closed their gates to the conqueror and he was enraged. Taking his scepter he tore it apart and said “With this rod I bind the elements and with this orb I bind the gates of this city and all others of genie-kind. If you will not recognize a conqueror, then you shall be imprisoned.” With those words all the great cities of the elements were bound as well as all inside. ~ Book IV Chapter 6 verses 1 through 3 of the Diabolus
As the party finished taking in these words, the statue came to life and attacked by breathing a swath of fire. A War Devil and the foul Lich appeared as well and the combat ensued in earnest. The group was somewhat staggered, but managed to drive the Lich and his Devil bodyguard off after destroying the defiled statue.
Following the trail of the Lich, the group ran into a trap between a Blade Barrier and a Spray of Deadly Colors that nearly spelled their doom. Fighting through the magicks and dispelling the Devil’s work, the group managed to escape the ambush and fight through again forcing the Devil and Lich to retreat.
Chasing after the pair of villains, the group came into a smaller chamber, divided in the middle by walls and a great archway. Those that were running headlong, nearly fell into a diabolical trap of pendulum blades, just managing to throw themselves prone to avoid nearly certain death. The lich had summoned more help as two huge scorpions joined the fight along with the War Devil, seemingly restored back to full strength. Combat ensued again, but the running combat had taken its toll on the group with several being knocked down and nearing the point of unconsciousness. Meanwhile, the Lich seemed to be gaining strength by ingesting a powder of sparkling, greenish hue. A series of chain lightning bolts reaped a heavy toll on the group just as Zoltan slew the War Devil with a mighty blow. Desperate, the brothers Xaylin and Leon combine their action to run a risky gambit. Leon uses the Darkblade magicks he learned from the Forsaken Elves to appear behind the Lich and attack him with the Blade of Icosiol as Xaylin uses his Circlet of Blasting to strike the Lich with holy, searing light. The plan doesn’t work well for Leon as he ports behind the Lich only to find the super-intelligent creature waiting for him; the Lich plucks him up by his throat and Leon feels the hot, panicky fear of death as paralysis sets in. However, the Lich is suitably distracted by Leon that he is not capable of using his powerful defenses to counter the magick from the Circlet and the searing light takes a heavy toll. Released from the frightful grip of the creature, Leon strikes desperately at the skeletal creature and scores a hit on its neck bone…the greenish-black powder seems to leak out of the bone and the Lich begins keening attempting to hold back the sorcerous flow. Time stands still for a moment as all the air seems to be sucked towards the foul creature and then it explodes in a sorcerous fireball, mutating all nearby with the power of the foul warpstone.
Raldinian finds himself warped by exposure to the foul mutagen seemingly phasing into and out of reality at periods outside his control. Xaylin wakes from unconsciousness (after the fireball) to find that his legs are now those of a bird. Meanwhile, Leon finds himself no longer with his friends and companions, but in a new and strange world, where he observes a battle between two great armies of samurai fighting for their dragon masters.
After regaining health, the group gathers their own and the loot from the Lich. Quickly going upstairs, they find the defenses of the room with the golden orb have been defeated with the death of the Lich. Fearful that the Lich may return at some point…because that is what Lich’s do, the party quickly makes its way out of the complex. Risking disaster, the party manages to use the Orb of the Planes to locate Leon who is in the distant Dragonlands.
Mid-Winter, Hadrer 10th (The Month of Protection), 151 AV in the Great Desert of Acerak:
The group hurriedly teleported from the ruins of Pazar back to the desert oasis portal again surprising some of the nomadic peoples who were about. Raldinian managed to gain enough rest that he was able to regain his magicks and his prayers to Erias were answered allowing him to find a spell that could transport himself to Leon and bring him back. Raldinian exerts himself to find and rescue Leon returning him to the safety of the group just as he was about to be attacked by a group of Samurai calvary. Back together, the group rests for a bit in the hut of the nomads before they activate the portal in the grove of palm trees and return to Sigil, the City of Doors.
Exhausted and spent from their adventures, the group quickly returns to the Goblyn’s Crown. Jadess provides them rooms, food, and drink to take care of their needs; however, it ends in an early night as the horrors of the previous days and the remarkable comfort in the feathered beds cause the adventurers to go to sleep early.