A Harrowing Saga

Deathwish
Facing Sekolah in his domain

The small band of wardens had swam, with Orden shifting into an octopus to hurry their way into a forgotten acquatic elf, and sahuagin city now in ruins, searching for a way to reach the surface of the sea. They assaulted the remnants of the city, which were sahuagin that worshiped Sekolah, an ancient devil shark, the patron of sahuagin society. Instead of searching for a way out, the wardens went deeper in.

They ravaged the small barracks, and set off an alarm, and unbeknownst to the heroes, was an alarm for the nearby settlement of sahuagin to come to their aid to protect the temple. Not waiting, the wardens pushed forward, ransacking the quarters of Sekolah’s priestesses, finding the head priestess was in the small temple, sacrificing herself to become a host for the aspect of Sekolah.

With blood, and butchering left in their wake, the wardens found the head priestess, who soon turned into a massive, bloated, slug-like colossal shark, covered with many tentacles, and tendrils above them, with nowhere left to turn, but to face an evil so ancient, death would stare them in the face.

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Drowning Together

Orden and Gavin agreed to become wardens, and traveled together through the abyss, awakening to find they had gotten the implanted eyes of demons, and their index fingers removed.

When they returned to the physical realm, they were greeted by Ariakas, and two wardens – Bilgrum, and Zed, polar opposites of one another. Bilgrum, a scholar, and warrior priest working towards creating a connection between the Arenite and Salunite religions, and Zed, a dark figure, yet a necessary evil the wardens need to overturn Aedirn’s undead monarchy.

Orden and Gavin were given details that Bilgrum and Zed would accompany them to increase the likelihood of extracting the Taint – the one spear that killed Salun himself from Tho-Siggot, but that they would be going by boat across the sea.

They met with a corsair captain – Timora and her first mate, Deckard, and boarded their ship. Soon after leaving, Zed was offended by Timora’s behavior towards Deckard, who was of orcish blood. A brief scuffle shortly ended when the vessel was attacked by a pair of dire sharks, that were butchered by the crew and heroes.

The deaths of the dire sharks was merely a ploy, as Deckard’s muttered conversation with Zed about Sekolah – the devil shark that controlled the abyss in this part of the sea was real – when Sekolah’s brood – a megalodon swallowed the vessel whole. The heroes thought they would have to cut their way out, but instead, the megalodon brought them down to the depths of the ocean, where they were spit out, into the ruins of an ancient acquatic elf city, now the home of sahuagin that worship the devil shark Sekolah.

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Reunited

Gavin and Orden did not stay awake long – they awoke in a small room, with their equipment gone, and wounds wrapped.

Confused, and disoriented, they opened the locked door to the room, finding themselves in the ruins of an old crypt. Candles and torches were half-hazardly lit, and found themselves greeted by Ariakas – a warden whom they met long ago, and though to be dead.

He led them to Silas, the Alpha of the Wardens, who gave them the choice to become wardens, and to lead the way to reuniting the realm.

They would have to traverse the abyss in Dagon’s Rock, before they would reawaken from their first test. They learned that the abyss itself was tied to the physical plane, and was a twisted, rusted, ichor covered hell that was parallel to their own.

They drank the blood of a pair of demons, and Ariakas sent them into a trance, and they awoke in the hell they had encountered only once before at the desecrated remnants of the University of Magi.

They came to the throne room, and found Archien, who offered them the choice that if they entertain him by helping him get control over the abyssal domain of Dagon’s Rock, they would gain his favor.

Instead, the heroes angered him, and Archien left them alone, in a hallway of seven doors, each with a face, and only one with the key to the next part of the keep.

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Nightmares

After taking the dream mist, Orden and Gavin awoke as a pair of wolves, led by an alpha frost wolf they encountered early in their adventures.
They were led to a burning village, one from nearly a thousand years ago – that Orden had destroyed, along with his wife who sacrificed his son for Aren.
They watched Orden’s past self amongst the rubble, weeping, holding his dead son, while being confronted by the remaining tribal leaders who took him to a cave far in the mountains.
In this cave, Orden and Gavin watched as the leaders of the tribe commenced a ritual that would trap Orden in the ice, a tradition of cruel punishment for other tribesman that suffered similar fates. In this ritual, they witnessed the creation of Sif – the physical form of Orden’s darkness, who managed to escape as he murdered one of the tribal elders.
They awoke after chasing him through the trees, naked, and crucified, to the smell of burning wood. The village that they were once in was ablaze.

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Shared Visions

After emerging from the illithid, drow, and duergar ridden underground dungeon, the heroes escaped after Loz had set dynamite, collapsing the dungeon into itself. Narrowly escaping death, they were forced to resurrect Soren – who returned to life as a high elf. With little known about the werewolf warlord, it can only be expected that he survived, using a portal to get into the abandoned ruins of the duergar city, perhaps to be seen again later…

The heroes found themselves at the base of a mountain, where a tribe of barbarians has set the cursed one to right the wrongs of his past. The tribal shaman has made them take dream mist, where they will travel together into another plane and look into Sif and the cursed one whose memories are shrouded in the wake of death he left before he was frozen in ice.

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Into the Darkness

The men that charged the Golden Hands were savages from the Eye of the World Mountains – barbarian clans that had heard of Orden being alive, and came to capture him, and punish him for his wrongdoings.

The barbarian clansmen charged the Golden Hands, and butchered many of them in a ferocious rage. The Golden Hands, although outnumbering the savages from the North, were unprepared, as they were attacked by the rear, and overwhelmed.

Orden and his companions were captured, and herded along in chains, awaiting a trial by the chiefs who wanted justice.

A pair of former Black Thorn mercenaries ambushed the caravan of barbarians, wanting to get their mark on the adventurers. With many attempts on their lives still yet unanswered, Soren took up his oath to Orden and Gavin, and hijacked the cart that held them. Amidst the chaos, Soren fled from his pursuers, with Orden and Gavin clinging on for dear life.

The riders chased the fleeing cart. In a last stand to escape, and judging the environment, Soren slew one of the horses, causing the cart to topple alongside the small mountainside… and caused an avalanche in the process.

Covered in snow, in the midst of a wreckage, Orden and his companions were thrown into an underground cavern, where they met a mercenary the barbarians had hired – a Half-Orc, undead figure Loz, who advised them he needed to escape as well as them.

Heading through the cavern together, and noticing the many missing dead corpses, Loz and the adventurers headed into the unknown once again, regaining the lost time on their goal of obtaining the spear that had slewn Salun.

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The Road of Death

After the morning, the heroes and Marcus headed to the executions, where Ariakas had called to arms Wardens in Maribor, as they laid assault to the Emperor’s men, and Ariakas himself killed the Emperor amidst the chaos before being overwhelmed by soldiers. The heroes and Marcus fled through the sewers of the city, into the wilderness.

After escaping Pagua, the heroes were captured by Soren, a former captain of the Golden Hands, who had become a brigand, and captured the heroes to be sold as prisoners. Soren’s men had been viciously assaulted by the heroes, where the heroes gave Soren an ultimatum – assist them to the cursed city, or to be killed for his actions. Soren guided the men, along with Marcus through the woodlands, before being ambushed by a group of hired thugs. In the skirmish, Marcus was slain.

Guided by Soren, the adventurers found a haven in Hirsk, where they escaped the Golden Hands through a smuggler’s passageway beneath the town, only to find that later, Rupin had betrayed them.

Being chased down, and enslaved by the Golden Hands, the heroes see a group of armed, mounted men charging the Golden Hands, and await their fates.

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The City of Treachery

On the ride to Pagua, Gavin and Orden had encountered an inn, where they sought shelter, and found the aid of Jack Rupin.

Encountering the guards at the inn, the pair was forced into delivering a letter to the Emperor of Pagua. As they awoke, they found that their horses were slain, and the horses tongues were cut, replaced with a message – a simple piece of paper with the symbol of the Cabal.

They left hastily in the morning, and upon arriving at Pagua – they offered the letter that was given to them, only to find that the guardsman had demanded that Gavin, and Orden be arrested, and brought to the Emperor on crimes of suspicion against Maribor.

The city was in a festival, celebrating the year, where travelers came from as far as Redania for the celebrations.

Forced to meet with the Emperor, the adventurers were released, only before meeting their lost companion Ariakas – who had been locked away in the dungeons of Pagua, and tortured for his crimes as an inquisitor.

Ariakas explained to them that he would be hung, and executed in the morning, and they must allow his death to occur so they may find the cursed city. He explained they would soon meet a man that would lead them to the city, but they must also be aware that they would be hunted by the Cabal – a hired group of assassins, no doubt hired by the Prophet of Aren, and the Emperor himself.

As they left to find the worth of the platinum bars that they were gifted by Graz’zt, Rupin headed to an inn to find them a room. Gavin and Orden met with an Appraiser Huang, only to find that the bars were not bars at all, but containers. They refused to open them, and headed to an armorer, where they found nothing of value.

Leaving the armorer’s, they entered an alleyway, only to find a box – inside, the dried tongue of a horse from the cabal. A group of thieves assaulted them, but fled, and one was murdered, his skull smashed in. In his hand, was another note, telling them: “You’re fucked.”

As they hurried back to the inn, they found Rupin, who introduced them to Lars, a man in a similar position, who explained he could assist them in finding a guide to Tho-Siggot.

As they headed to their room, a large tiefling in black armor came to their room, claiming to be an escort from Lars. As they ate dinner together, the tiefling attacked them in surprise, in the name of the Cabal.

The tiefling was slain, and on his corpse they found a letter, notating their deaths must be completed, and the sum of payment upon completion. The adventurers followed Jack Rupin to Lars’ establishment, where they met Marcus – the man who would become their guide to Tho-Siggot.

Marcus escorted them to the Basilica of Aren, where they found disguises as priests of Aren, and headed off to the executions in the morning.

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Memories

Slaying Tzrenkit, the elder evil that took over the University, the heroes were confronted by Graz’zt, the prince of the Abyss.

Upon having defeated Tzrenkit, Graz’zt felt it was worthy of Gavin to have the choice to regain his soul, albeit at a price.

Graz’zt offered him two choices, and upon deep consideration, felt Gavin was not worthy of either. He gave Gavin back his soul, although he left the University as it was – with its entire population dead, and the small city left in ruins.

Sir Stephen of Cintra left the party, conflicted with his own morals, to confront the life he left behind.

With Stephen now gone, the heroes pushed forward to Pagua, where they looked to meet Ariakas and finally reach the Cursed City of Tho-Siggot…

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The Grip of the Abyss

Travelling towards Gavin’s alma mater, the heroes found the University, a massive old Elven city of Ildranar.

The lake surrounding the city, and acting as a natural defense, was crashing upon the city’s walls, and a massive, black swirling storm crackled lightning, and thundered onto the city below. The statues of stone mages that were built into the city’s walls eyes shone in the darkness, staring at the heroes at the bridge to the city, watching them as they headed into the Abyss itself.

Encountering Todd, the once manifestation of Gavin’s taint, as an imp, Todd informed the heroes that the storm above the city was a portal, to none other than the abyss, opened by Archien, the devil that Gavin had made a pact with.

Entering the city, the heroes saw that the inhabitants were no longer men and women, but in fact husks of flickering gold, as they had been trapped in between the material plane and the abyss.

The city itself was under the control of Tzrenkit, an elder omnipotent evil from the abyss, that had been summoned by Archien, and was controlling the city.

As the heroes went through the city, their own memories, and experience became the plaything of Tzrenkit, and were forced into illusions of torment, and pain, reliving past experiences in a twisted, sick game.

Making it to the University, Archien held the heroes back by pitting them against a gibbering, foul beast made up of many mouths, and slabs of flesh that defended the gates to the University against the heroes goal of freeing Gavin’s soul.

Pushing forward, and into the University, the library at the entrance was filled with gusts of wind, and many of the books, and papers rustled, and slammed against walls.

Several mages delighted in playing a game with the heroes, a game of riddles, which the heroes had succeeded in winning. Had they lost, one of them would have lost an eye – literally.

Heading into the mess hall, the heroes faced a large group of manes, small, rotting demons filled with maggots that blocked the heroes way to find Tzrenkit, and Archien.

Destroying the manes, the heroes headed into the office of Garreth Lorren, the University’s Grand Master, only to find Lestat Agrias dead – on a glyph painted on blood. Deducing that Lestat had in fact been murdered while trying to perform a ritual of reversal to reset the abyss, he was murdered while performing it.

On his person, the heroes found that Lestat felt that Garreth was forced into opening the portal to the abyss, no doubt by Archien himself.

Heading through a secret chamber into the Chantry’s supply room – Sir Stephen found a sword that called to him. Perhaps the sword found him, but the Blade of the Nameless One seeks to make Sir Stephen it’s champion, and commit an act of evil to take the first steps of becoming it’s true owner.

As the heroes entered the Chantry, they saw the statue of the Patron Champion of the Ildranar casting a shadow over many lit candles that were bleeding wax onto the steps leading up to the statue. A hooded man, in purple robes gilded with gold was at the feet of the statue kneeling. Beside him was Archien himself.

Archien revealed that he was a lieutenant of a demon prince, and that he no longer had Gavin’s soul. He revealed to Gavin his own mother made the greatest sacrifice herself – and became Tzrenkit.

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