The Blind Raven

Day 20 - Loose Ends

The group finds themselves on top of the Eastern Tower in Meridian Keep, having just sent Sandar Meloris to The Controller, relinquishing their fate-bound status and completing their mission for The Raven Queen. Looking around, they see the walls and roof were completely disintegrated by the blast from the Arcane Glass. The room resembles a balcony roof at this point. Lissar removes the legion captain’s armor and puts it on minus the helmet, which is beyond repair. Concealing it under her leather garb, she continues looking for valuable items to pilfer.

Lelouche finds a bookshelf, mostly blown away in the blast, with a bottom shelf still salvageable. Within it, he finds two ritual tomes and five scrolls that he believes he can take with him. Having trouble carrying the large books, serendipity strikes and he locates a bag of holding within Sandar’s desk drawers, slipping a number of objects inside before tying it to his side.

Siobhan recovers a bit from the news that he will not see his son again in this lifetime. He stands back up and says his goodbyes to the group. Lelouche asks him to stay to speak with the king and receive their reward, but Siobhan insists it is his time to leave, heading out to find adventure until his life is taken, so that he can see his son again in the next life. The group accepts this and he heads down the steps. On the floor below he is stopped by a legion guard who asks him about the commander, but Siobhan tells him to go see for himself. Reaching the ground floor, he pushes off the inquiries of the curious soldiers and tells them only that the danger has passed, and they should head inside to tend to the wounded. A number of guards enter the tower and Siobhan exits in the commotion, heading out of the castle grounds and on to adventure.

The guard that had asked Siobhan about the legion commander appears on the top floor, temporarily stunned by the room’s near-complete destruction. He snaps out of it and spots the commander’s body on the floor. He pays his respects and asks the remaining group where Sandar is. He walks to the ledge and looks over, apparently looking to see if he had fallen to his death. Lelouche informs the guard that Sandar is gone, and that he will not be a risk to the kingdom anymore. The guard is dumbfounded, and insists that the group will need to tell the king all that has happened.

Heading down the tower, the group witnesses dozens of men in varying levels of injury, being tended to and carried down to the lower levels to seek medical attention. Once they reach the ground floor, a group of legion guards approach them, telling them that the king will have to see them. They follow the guards in through the eastern gate to a door leading behind the throne room. Two men stand guard outside the large wooden doors. Upon seeing the group and their escort, they open the doors to reveal the king, next to the remaining members of the high council and surrounded by a 40-strong legion guard regiment. The soldiers lower their guard but remain between the group and the king.

From the council, a voice booms across the room, demanding the group identify themselves. Lelouche announces himself and Reng follows. Upon hearing Reng, a member of the council walks to the king and whispers into his ear. The council member appears to be a religious leader, possibly the High Cleric of the Court. The king waves his hand, causing the guards to clear a space in front of him. Having a direct line of sight to him, the group notices how frail the boy looks, barely able to sit up straight in his throne. He speaks, declaring that his council detects the bindings of a deity in Reng’s voice. He demands to know who his patron is. Reng declares himself as a demigod of The Raven Queen. The king asks about the whereabouts the three demigods that came to the kingdom previously in an investigation, and Reng informs the king that they have returned to the queen.

The king asks if their mission for the queen is complete, and Reng confirms that they’ve accomplished what they were sent to do. The king changes his tone, respectfully requesting that if they had no official business, they should leave the kingdom at their earliest convenience. He explains that in all of history, a demigod’s presence only brings chaos, and he needs to turn his attention to repairing his kingdom. The group seems to understand, agreeing to settle their affairs and leave as soon as they could reasonably do so.

Lelouche requests to see Sandar’s living quarters. The king is hesitant, explaining that he would like to keep them private as part of the investigation that will now have to be done. Lelouche insists, and the king offers that they can enter with a small group of guards acting as an escort. The group heads to the northern quadrant of the castle, the living quarters, and is brought to a large blue-green door. Two guards open the doors and stand guard outside while five accompany the group.

Entering the first room, they find a shrine of sorts. The room is covered wall to wall with paintings and drawings of Laura. Scenes in some images show her performing beginner magic, running through the streets, and doing cartwheels. Other paintings focus on her face. The room speaks volumes with it’s silence, and the group decides to move on to the next room.

Walking in, they find a number of large working boards, each containing research pertaining to ritual alteration. Drawings, calculations, and writings describe a long-term project researching the possibility of combining different ritual runes to create effects that might be deemed “unnatural” by the magic-using community. One of the more extreme experiments is documented, showing repeated attempts to combine a reversed Gentle Repose rune with the Make Whole ritual to create an affect that could resurrect and reform an entire body and spirit from only a small piece of the corpse. Repeated attempts seem to have resulted in amalgamations of the original creature, bound between life and death and begging for release. After what seems like many months or even years of attempts, the documentation ends with a note that though he bends the nature of the arcane to do the impossible, even he has limits he must respect.

The group heads to the last room of his quarters, his bedroom. The room stands out as a very normal space, though there is one painting of Laura framed across from the bed. A figure is sketched hastily on it, and seems to be a form of Laura’s spirit before she was able to fully appear as a human girl again in the mortal realm. At the bottom, a note reads: “Two reports of the spirit. The descriptions are vague, but it must be her.” Lelouche finds a chest near the bed containing a number of wands. He can surmise that they each have different enchantments, but with the guards nearby he decides to close the chest and move on. He surmises that the room is most likely devoid of magical tools because if found, Sandar would be outed as a Warlock and not a Wizard, which would put him under suspicion. The group decides to leave, satisfied that they’ve seen what they need to.

They return to the throne room, where they find the king has come out looking as if he has recovered quite a bit since their last interaction. Lelouche comments on his improvement, and the king assures him that he is feeling better every minute. Turning to Reng, the king offers the group a large reward of two thousand gold pieces for their work, noting that although demigods usually do not accept rewards, his mortal party members were welcome to it. The king seems to imply that he believes Reng to be the party’s leader as a demigod, which Lelouche takes issue with but remains relatively quiet about. Reng accepts the gold and takes only 290 pieces for himself, giving Lissar, Gralamin, and Lelouche 570 pieces each.

Lissar explains that as her mission for the queen is over, she’ll be heading out to find adventure and hopefully retire to a land full of dogs. Gralamin adds that he too will be leaving to find his fortune across the western mountains. They say their goodbyes and head out of the castle, leaving Lelouche and Reng. Lelouche suggests they go say goodbye the Francis and Melchior, and inform them of all that has happened before leaving the kingdom.

Arriving at the church, they find a number of the city’s vagabonds have sought shelter from the dust storm, receiving medical attention and being fed by clergy members. Heading up the steps in the back, they yell through the illusory stone wall to be let in, but Melchior informs them that Francis is not inside and he is embarrassed to admit he doesn’t actually know how to open the gate. Lelouche and Reng find Francis within his office, and they rush upstairs with him, heading into the study to go over the events of the night.

“Is it done?” Francis asks, to which Lelouche replies in confirmation. “Sandar is defeated. The king is free.” Melchior appears to have been crying, and Lelouche asks him why. Melchior explains that just minutes ago, Laura’s spirit came to him to say her goodbyes. While it was good to finally have a chance to say goodbye, it felt like losing her all over again. Francis notes that he wishes Laura’s spirit a safe and speedy journey to the next life. He adds that although Sandar has done so many evil things, he hopes his spirit finds peace as well. Lelouche offers Sandar’s Tome to Melchior, who accepts it and says that he will read it while traveling, as he is going to set out to find a new home not full of bad memories.

Reng says his goodbyes and leaves, heading out the gates of Meridian Keep and across the countryside. Lelouche heads to Ramshire, taking a well-earned rest at the inn until morning, knowing that the next day would see him on another amazing adventure.

END OF CAMPAIGN

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Day 19 - The Beginning And The End

Siobhan ropes himself up to be lowered into the water reservoir in Meridian Keep. Nearby, a guard stands over the unconscious assistant attempting to wake him. He seems relieved that the boy is alive, but still concerned that he won’t wake up. Sitting on the side of the road is an engineer, distraught at seeing his friend fall to what is currently assumed to be his death within the well. Another guard informs the townsfolk who have come to see the commotion that they need to step back and away from the well.

Lelouche pretends to aid the guard in waking the assistant, and requests that the guard go and get water for the boy. The guard, realizing that his comrade is busy with the townsfolk, tells Lelouche to keep the boy away and that he’ll be right back. Lissar takes the opportunity to steal the boy’s coin pouch with 29g, leaving one gold piece for the boy.

Siobhan finishes tying himself up and Reng loops the rope to the well hook before moving behind a horse tie to stabilize himself. He begins slowly lowering Siobhan into the well. As dark as the city was, the well blocks out even the starlight and Siobhan uses Mage Light on his staff to illuminate the inside. While being lowered, he can’t see much, but as he reaches the floor of the well, he begins to make out shapes along the floor. A hooded figure the size of a child is standing, facing away from him. In front of the figure is a large metal orb sitting on the ground.

Siobhan calls to the figure, but it stands silently without moving. He demands the figure turn around, and it slowly turns to reveal a young girl with most of her face concealed that Siobhan does not recognize. She asks what he’s doing here, and Siobhan tells her that they’re looking for a powerful arcane source that they believe to be within the well. The girl remarks that this is a funny place to go looking for something like that. He tells her it’s an odd place for a little girl as well, and she replies, “I suppose you’re right about that.”

He asks what she knows about the power within the well. She tells him that she feels she’s starting to understand, and that he’s come to her in a transitional time. Perhaps she can answer at least a few of his questions. He asks about the orb, which he then begins to investigate. He notices a number of runes along the outside of the orb. She tells him that she doesn’t know much about it, only that she keeps waking up next to it. Siobhan attempts to lift the orb, but it is a bit too heavy for him to get off the ground. He calls up for help from Reng, who slides down the rope to join him. The Hooded Child recognizes him and asks him if he’s come to play another game.

Up in the town square, the guard yells down to ask if Nathan, the engineer, is alright. Siobhan confirms that the man is dead, and beyond help. Reng offers to tie the body to be lifted to the surface, and begins doing so at the guards request. Lelouche aids the guard in lifting the body to the surface, where it is laid next to the well. The guard goes to find a team to move the body. Lelouche loops the rope back up and heads down the well to join Siobhan and Reng. The girl says hello to him, and he asks her name. She tells him that she doesn’t know it, and he asks if he can call her Laura. She immediately flinches at the name, and begs him not to call her that. He agrees, deciding to get back to the topic at another time.

Lelouche asks her if it’s alright to take the orb from the well. The girl says that they’re more than welcome, but she’ll probably end up coming with them. He asks her how she gets out of the well, and she explains that she gets out “the way everyone else does, I guess” before disappearing. Up at ground level, she appears in front of Gralamin and Lissar, asking if they’d like to play a game. Lissar ignores her, to which the girl replies that she’s no fun, turning to Gralamin with a hopeful look on her face. He agrees to play with her, and she produces three pebbles and hands them to him. “All you have to do is hit me,” she says, before disappearing and re-appearing on top of a nearby building.

Reng checks the weight of the orb, confirming that he can lift it if need by. He ties it up using the rope, so that it can be lifted. Lelouche investigates the orb’s markings and recognizes the runes as a locking mechanism of some sort, though he isn’t sure whether it is to lock something in or out. In the town square, Gralamin manages to beat the girl at her own game, and she returns to the well, defeated.

Lelouche and Siobhan work together to disguise the orb as a geode so that they can sneak it back to the study. The guard returns with two others carrying a stretcher, and the dead engineer is carried away. Lissar helps the guard lift the disguised orb to the surface, and it slams down on the cobblestone next to the well, raising the guard’s interest but fortunately not his suspicion.

Reng takes the opportunity to study the walls of the remaining well. He can tell that the markings along the wall are a ritual, but it has been scaled up to the point where the marks he can see are too small a piece to identify the spell. Lelouche recognizes that it is some sort of amplifier for what was most likely a ritual carved into the floor of the well, which has now been blown to pieces and would be unrecognizable. Siobhan, Reng, and Lelouche climb to the surface, confident that the orb could lead them to some answers that they won’t find at the bottom of a well.

Reng attempts to take the orb, but the guard, recognizing it as a geode, expresses that it may be an important part of the investigation into what happened in the well. Siobhan manages to weave a convincing tale that he was once a rock collector, and that the very strange looking geode is actually a rather common natural phenomenon at the bottom of wells, and that he’d like to have it displayed in his chambers. The guard seems convinced, and tells them to hurry away with it and he’ll look the other way in return for all of their help. Reng carries it back with the group to Francis’s study. On the way, Lelouche recognizes that the girl has her arms crossed and appears a bit grumpy, having lost at her game with Gralamin.

Reaching the church, Lelouche notices how reluctant Siobhan is to enter, even through the secret side entrance heading the the study. He asks Siobhan, who only replies that it’s a long story and he’d be happy to tell him all about it after all this business with Sandar is over with. As the group stands outside of the church, they notice that their death necklaces and the signet ring they acquired dissolve to dust and float into the sky. Looking up, they notice a rather large amount of similar dust is heading toward the castle. Lelouche summons the gray raven and asks her what is going on. She seems to have no idea about the dust until she looks up, telling him that that is a bit odd and she would go investigate. She snaps her fingers and disappears for a few seconds, returning after a brief moment to tell them, “Looks like there’s a bit of trouble. We should get inside quickly.”

The group lift the disguised orb up into the loft of the church, carrying it through to Francis in hopes that he can tell them a bit about it. Hearing the commotion as they struggle to get it through the crawl-space, Francis asks them if they are alright, and helps them pull the “geode” up into the study. Touching the orb, Francis immediately realizes it is disguised and asks them what it is. Siobhan and Lelouche drop the Prestidigitation and the orb is revealed with it’s runes. Francis asks Reng to place it up on a nearby table so that he can look closer at it.

Melchior sits in the corner reading a book. Lelouche gets his attention and points over to Laura, but Melchior reveals he can’t see her. When asked about him, Laura says that she remembers his face, but can’t remember who he is. She seems pained by the attempt to recall how she knows him. She begins to get frustrated when Siobhan harasses her for information, and she hides behind Gralamin in an attempt to get away from the questions. Lelouche carefully explains to her that she knew Melchior before her time in the well, which confuses her and she goes silent.

Lelouche asks Francis about the orb, and Francis begins studying it. He explains that there are two distinct rune types running on separate axis on the orb. One seems to lock something within the orb, and the other is a ritual symbol of some sort he doesn’t recognize. He admits he hasn’t slept much lately and he doesn’t know if he can figure it out today, but he says he’ll look into it.

Melchior hurriedly looks through a nearby bookshelf, interrupting the conversation to exclaim that he’s found something. He pulls a book from the shelf and shuffles through a number of pages, showing the book to Francis. He asks him to perform the Dispel Magic ritual on him to get rid of whatever curse is upon him that disallows him from seeing Laura. He begs Francis to do so, but Francis explains that without knowing the curse, he can’t dispel it. Melchior seems defeated, almost coming to tears. He slumps down on a chair in the corner, muttering to himself.

The gray ring on Siobhan’s hand begins to glow, and he activates it, asking the gray raven if there is anything she can do to help. She explains her ability, which is to grant them a form of luck that either exists in a major form for one desire to be fulfilled, or in a minor form over a longer period (nearly a day). She explains that if they use the former, it would most likely solve their current crisis with Melchior, but it may be a waste of the power when the full weight of their current situation is taken into account. Siobhan decides to hold off, regardless of Melchior’s pleading.

Francis calls the group over to explain that he believes he’s figured out the other rune pattern on the orb. It seems that they are linking runes, connecting the orb to another ritual of some sort, most likely the one that was broadcast from the town water supply. He adds that it seems the link is through a water medium, and that it was strengthened when people came into contact with the water, drinking or washing with it.

The group ponders on what this might mean, and Reng comes to the realization that the surge in power may be because of all of the cult members currently “interacting” with the water. The group realizes this may mean that the surge is going to last a rather long time, and Francis explains that the power would be nearly unlimited in that sense. Somewhere, something is collecting the arcane power, and that object must be destroyed to stop the power from being channeled. Until then, whatever purpose the power served would be a force to be feared. In addition, since the well was leaking the power, he explains that it must not be properly funneled and as such could be a general hazard to the public.

The group discusses their next move, and the gray raven speaks up to tell them that the issue at the castle needs to be handled. They head out to see what is going on, heading east to the main road and the north up toward the castle entrance. Lelouche stops the group before they reach the main castle gate, sensing a disturbing amount of arcane energy in front of them. Reaching out, he can feel a bubble of energy growing very slowly, centering on the tower that is at the center of the dust storm. Laura appears next to him and asks what he’s doing.

She tells the group that she remembers Melchior now, and that more of her memories from before her time in the well are coming back every second. When they mention Sandar she flinches, but admits she is starting to remember him as well. She also remembers that her name is Laura, and tells Lelouche that he can call her that even though it still pains her. She attempts to pass into the bubble in front of them, but falls over in pain, and has to be dragged back onto the other side by Gralamin. They decide they need to head inside without her, and they tell her to wait back at the study. She makes them promise to return back alive, and heads to the church.

Rushing into the energy bubble, they find themselves in front of the castle gates but no guards are around. They head inside the inner courtyard and see only three guards where they expected to see dozens. The lone three guards are running from the west tower toward the castle, so they follow them in. The castle gates, usually closed at all times except for processions and royal visits, are wide open. Following the guards, the group moves through the castle and out the eastern gate, reaching the eastern courtyard. It is instantly clear where the guards had gotten to, as they are all in the eastern courtyard along with a number of nobility. Surrounding the east tower, the throng of people are trying to break down the doorway with two separate battering rams, but having no luck.

Gralamin, thinking quickly, rushes through the crowd and slams his Knock ritual scroll into the door. Instantly an Arcane Lock wall shatters and as the battering rams push forward one last time, the doors crash open. Among the crowd, a few people can be heard shouting to rush in and save the king. A massive amount of people are attempting to rush up the tower steps, and the group tries their hardest to push to the front. Up ahead, screams and the feeling of intense heat cause a number of stops, but the guard captain yells to keep moving and the crowd continues on.

Reaching the second level, the guards can be seen creating a phalanx up the steps heading to the third level. They seem to be stopped by a large amount of fire coming down the steps, and the crowd is at a stand-still. Lissar notices a strange pattern to the fire, and notes that it is unnatural and most likely not from any creature she’s ever heard of. Reng pushes through to the phalanx and attempts to assist them, and manages to shove from the back until a number of the guards fall forward into the fire, revealing it to be a hallucinatory psychic trap. The guard captain shouts to move forward, and the phalanx moves to the top of the steps, pushing over a large wooden frame that held the spell rune for the illusion.

Reaching the third level, a massive psychic power hits the group, but Lelouche, Gralamin, and Reng manage to shake it off. Siobhan and Lissar find themselves standing before an adult dragon, who begins slaughtering the crowd while casting a fear upon anyone it sees. Lelouche recognizes it as another illusion and attempts to reach Siobhan to break the spell over him. Guards begin slaughtering one another, seemingly an effect of the illusion.

Lissar attempts to escape and manages to somersault over the wooden frame to cover. Feeling a comfort come over herself at her escape, she begins to notice the guards attacking each other. Peeking over the frame, she recognizes the illusion and it fades in front of her. Siobhan, wracked by the fear effect, attacks Lelouche in his altered state. Lelouche attempts to knock him to his senses, but only manages to hurt Siobhan before being thrown off. In an act of desperation, Siobhan casts Invisibility on himself and hides. Feeling a small amount of comfort in not being able to be seen, he begins to look around and sees the carnage unfolding in reality. The dragon looks directly into his eyes and breathes a large breath, blowing a large blast toward him. The illusion fades as the fire fails to harm him, and Siobhan wakes up.

The group look around at the chaos of the room, noting that most noblemen have fallen and many of the guards are dying as well. The guard captain attempts to rally the men, but realizes it is futile and leads three of his guard up the steps in an attempt to find some way to break the illusion on the next floor. The group begins heading up the stairs as they hear a large shattering sound from the floor above, and the remaining guards wake from the illusion, and begin checking the wounded. Heading up to the fourth floor, the group finds the captain standing over a shattered stone of some sort that seems to have been the source of the illusion. Lelouche is asked by the guard captain if his men survived, but is told that only a few remain, and they are wounded. The guard captain sends his three men down to help the others, and they give him a confirmation, revealing his name to be Content Not Found: captain-romera. He points to the steps and asks the group to help him finish this. They follow him up the steps to the top floor.

Reaching the top of the steps, the group finds an iron gate blocking their path. On the other side, Sandar‘s voice can be heard: "It’s all over, isn’t it?". Siobhan, still invisible, throws his Mage Voice to create a booming reply: “IT’S ALL OVER, SANDAR”. The guard captain organizes with Reng to push the gate together, and they manage to crack the stone that it holding it in place, pushing it forward and out of the way. The group finds itself standing in the top floor of the eastern tower. The room appears to be a sort of study similar to Francis’s, but with the tools and implements being centered around Warlock spells instead of Wizard abilities.

Sandar stands on the other end of the room, and gives them a defeated look. A large chandelier hangs above them, with a peculiar orb in the center that appears to be swirling with energy. It seems to be some sort of channeling element from what Siobhan and Lelouche can tell, but like nothing they’ve ever seen or felt before. Sandar makes no sudden movements, instead exclaiming how odd it feels to have all of his work be for nothing, having everything taken from you until the only thing left is your life. He tells them that he feels that the end has finally come, and does not appear to want to fight them. The group is taken aback.

Siobhan, still invisible, walks up behind Lelouche and signals to give him the necklace, which Lelouche does, sneaking it behind him. It disappears into the shroud of invisibility and Siobhan steps to the side, walking slowly around and toward Sandar. Looking straight into his eyes, Sandar appears to see him even through the shroud. Bowing his head, he admits defeat, saying, “It’s time to end this.”. Siobhan waits, stunned. Sandar goes on to say that he’s done many things he isn’t proud of, things that he would never have imagined at the start of all of this. Lelouche asks Sandar what Laura would think of all of this, and Sandar replies that he hopes she would never have to see what had become of him, though he did it all for her.

The green and gray ring both begin to glow. Lelouche activates his ring and The Green Raven (Olani) appears, but she immediately falls to her knees in pain. Lelouche summons her back into the ring. Sandar explains that the force blocking the queen from seeing inside of the tower, and now creating a growing bubble heading toward the city, also keeps the ravens out. He implies that it also keeps Laura out, and prevents him from seeing her. The green raven tells Lelouche psychically that her power can still be activated. Siobhan summons The Gray Raven (Shayla) out and then back into the ring as well, speaking to her in his mind about her power.

Lelouche asks Sandar what he would do to see Laura one last time, revealing that he has the power to allow it. Sandar begs him to do so, but Lelouche asks if the storm can be stopped. Sandar reveals that the storm is only a side-effect of the well runes being broken and the underground flooding, and even he did not know how to stop it or what was going to happen. Lelouche asks instead to know what Sandar was planning in full. Sandar walks to a nearby desk and opens a drawer, pulling out a small tome and handing it to Lelouche. “This will tell you all that I could explain,” he says. Lelouche hides the tome within his shroud earring and seems to accept the trade.

Sandar asks to see Laura, and Lelouche extends the request to the green raven. She opens a one-way window to the past, showing highlights of Sandar’s time with Laura. The memories reveal a softer side of Sandar, and a happier time for Laura, before the events leading up to her death. Eventually the window dissipates and the group looks back to Sandar, who has fallen to his knees crying. Siobhan begins to worry that they need to act quickly as the storm is growing, even chipping a nearby window, but the rest of the group is distracted giving Sandar peace, knowing that he is about to be judged by The Controller. Siobhan asks the gray raven for her power, and she offers him the piece of advice he needs: Destroy the orb to end all of this.

Siobhan extends this information to the group, but Reng speaks up, demanding that Sandar tell him how Orcus was involved in all of this, since he still desired his end goal of becoming an undead lich. Sandar looks on him, his expression changing to one of pity, and admits that Orcus is dead. When he was coming into his powers, he chose Orcus as a patsy since he was “the easiest demon lord to use when convincing a large number of people to follow you.” He apologizes, saying that Orcus will not return any time soon and therefore Reng’s final wish would not be fulfilled.

In a rage, Reng demands to know where The Wand of Orcus is being kept. Sandar moves to a pedestal in the middle of the room. His hands begin to glow red and he slams his fist down on the stone, breaking it apart to reveal the wand sitting in an instrument that seems to be channeling it’s power. Reng walks up and grabs it, threatening Sandar before coming to his senses. He throws the wand up to the orb above them, and it shatters the glass, releasing a maelstrom of arcane power within. Time slows as the runes on the orb burn away, breaking the god blocker ritual.

The power rushes out of the orb, and time slows to a near-stop as the group accepts their fate, but the power stops a few feet above them and redirects out to the walls. The group looks up to see The Raven Queen, standing tall above them and holding her hand to the power flowing above them, forming a shield. The Eyes of the Raven stand close to their queen, and Laura is among them in her black hood. The power fades and the storm dissipates until they are left within the room, now destroyed from three feet up and above.

Content Not Found: captain-romera appears to have been beheaded by the energy, and falls to the ground dead. The queen looks over to him and blesses his body, “An unfortunate casualty.” She immediately turns to Sandar, who appears for the first time to show genuine fear. She moves at incredible speed, appearing behind him and breaking his left arm, then throwing him by the leg into a wall nearby. The group are in shock as she stands over him, placing her hand on his chest and crushing multiple ribs as he gasps for air. She stands him up and grips his clavicle, breaking it in two as the group stands silent. Sandar attempts to scream, but only gasps for air.

The group attempt to speak up, begging her not to kill Sandar even after all he had done. She grabs Sandar by the neck and brings him over to Siobhan, dropping him to the floor in a heap. Though he is invisible, the queen stares directly at him and sighs, saying “Even I can’t kill him. He is fate bound to The Controller. Do what you must.” Laura is sobbing uncontrollably, now terrified of the events unfolding in front of her. She hides behind Gralamin.

Lelouche beckons her to come out and say her goodbyes to Sandar. He explains that all of his actions were for her, and that this is her last chance to see him. She comes out and kneels by Sandar, asking him why he did all that he did, but he can’t speak to respond. Reng is overcome from the rage of the wand’s control and picks it back up, attempting to kill Sandar with it. The queen grabs it mid-swing, opening a portal and dropping it through. She tells Reng that she will forget his attempt to defy her, because she knows the effect the wand can have over mortals. Reng feels a weight drop from him as the wand is relinquished.

As a last act of mercy, the group signal to Siobhan to put the necklace onto Sandar. As it slips over his head, Sandar looks into Laura’s eyes and in an instant he disappears with the necklace. Laura falls to the ground sobbing. A bitter moment of silence fills the room. The queen pulls Reng to the side. Recognizing his defiant acts against the cult and his long history of fighting them before even the group came to be, she makes him an offer. Although she can not appease his desires to become undead, she can offer a spot as one of the demigods under her service, so that he may fulfill his dream of fighting for all eternity. He accepts, and she grants him his power, the ability to make any mortal being feel intense fear. She tells him to settle his affairs and then to come to her when he is ready.

The queen offers the rest of the group the ability to be fate-bound to adventure. She tells them that she can assure their desire for meaning and purpose is always fulfilled by destiny calling to them. So long as they desire adventure, they will find it. Lelouche remarks that he already feels that way, but accepts along with the rest of the group. She places a binding upon the group as an entity, that whoever joins it shall be fate-bound in the same way, and whoever chooses the leave will be free to live a life of peace and harmony.

Siobhan asks the queen if, in reward for his deeds, he could see his son again, having lost him to tragedy when he was only seven. The queen looks upon Siobhan with pity, saying that she can not abide by his child’s soul returning to the mortal realm. She can offer only that his son would be waiting for him when his new life finds its end. Siobhan sits down in somber silence.

Finally, the queen walks to Laura, who is attempting to compose herself. She explains that Laura’s time is fleeting now that the power is dissipating. She will feel a temporary rush of memory and the ability to interact with the mortal realm, but soon she will move on to the next plane of existence. The queen offers her a place among the ravens, and the ability to serve her and live an immortal life as such. Laura goes silent for a second, finally speaking up to say that she believes she has spent too long in this place. She says that she says her time was long ago and she just wants it all to be over. She asks to see the people she cares about one last time before the end, and the queen tells her to hurry. The queen accepts this, disappearing with the ravens. Laura grasps Gralamin’s hand, but when he turns to her she’s gone as well.

Lissar, noting that they are now fate-bound to a life of adventure, jars the group to their senses and tells them to begin looting the room of whatever they can find, seeing as they’ll have to get out of their quickly. She removes Content Not Found: captain-romera‘s equipment as the group begins to pack up the remaining instruments and tomes around the room. Lelouche begins reading Sandar’s journal tome as they head down the steps.

0 EXP from battle + 400 EXP from role-play = 400 EXP total (12600 EXP total)
The Wand of Orcus has been returned to hiding by The Raven Queen. Sandar Meloris has been defeated and the cult is destroyed, with only a few fringe groups existing within the kingdom, now without leadership or purpose.

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Day 18 - A Fitting Grave

The group hurries up the steps into The Mortuary, having just blown a sizable hole under the town water reservoir, intending to flood The Citadel. The iron gate behind them protected them for the moment, but they needed to hurry before escaping cult members made their way to the exits. Outside, the weather has turned violent, a wild storm raging as if the heavens themselves had sprung a leak. Looking out from the main office of the mortuary, the group is startled by a voice behind them. “We don’t have much time. Help me, quickly,” Melchior shouts while attempting to move a desk from the wall.

Reng and Lelouche grab the desk and it frees itself from the wall with a pull. Melchior directs them to the back room, running ahead to shut the door leading to the basement. “Cover it with everything you can. We can’t let them escape.” The group works to cover the cellar door. Reng breaks off the metal contraption used for pushing bodies into the furnace and covers the hole, while Melchior grabs body bags from the cooling room and uses them as well. He turns to the group hurriedly, “You need to close off the main exit by the city gates. They’ll be heading out of it soon. You need to hurry. I’ll finish up here.”. He shoos them out the door and they go out into the fury of the storm.

The group rushes to the front gates, west along the street passed the church and the guard station. At the station, men can be seen shouting and being directed to grab sand bags, rushing out in odd directions to stave off the inevitably flooding. The group continues along their way out the front gate, taking a sharp left to the eastern wall where they first entered The Citadel so long ago. They notice that the area seems to be empty, and they rush to the rock wall that previously had opened up to reveal the main entryway into the facility.

Gralamin looks all around the rock wall but can’t seem to find any sort of opening mechanism for the wall. Lelouche checks for a repository for the death necklaces but finds nothing of the sort. Reng begins to discuss the possibility of blowing a hole above the doorway when there is a sudden rumble and the door begins to open. The group rushes to the side just in time to avoid being seen by two men frantically running from the facility. Fortunately they don’t seem to have any interest in looking back in their hurry, and the group goes undetected. They quickly enter the doorway and find themselves in the long hallway leading to the central corridor.

Realizing they haven’t thought through a plan, they begin to devise one, taking into account what items they have. Reng argues that they should use the remaining gunpowder to create a cave-in, but there is no time to drill a hole to put it in. Siobhan has the idea to use his Passwall ritual to create a hole into the rock which they can throw the gunpowder into, then close, creating a compacting trigger for the explosion. The only problem is that it takes a few minutes to do, and the group must defend their position while he does it. Not having a better plan, they agree and he begins drawing his circle on the ground.

Lelouche attempts to find a way to create a strategic advantage, grasping his hidden summoning stone in one hand in case the retreating cult members come their way. Reng makes a pile of stones a hundred feet down the path, covering a remaining pound of gunpowder which will act as a shrapnel explosion if need be. The group hunkers down while Siobhan continues his ritual. A few minutes in, the group hears a loud male voice yell “Hey! Who’s there?!” but see no one coming. They shout back, but no one responds. The tension eventually dissolves a bit, but then the group sees the cult members. Hundreds, possibly thousands of them have formed an orderly exit group a few hundred feet down the path, where the central corridor begins. Siobhan continues his ritual as they approach.

Reng shouts out that they must turn back, and one cult members pulls to the front and shouts “Reng!” back, as if he recognizes him. Reng tells them all to turn around, but there are far too many and most don’t seem to recognize him (falsely so, as the alternate timeline Reng is not a high-ranking member). As the group reaches the threshold of the gunpowder rock trap, Lelouche realizes they aren’t going to turn back, and he must act quickly while the window of opportunity exists. He fires off a Magic Missile through the crowd, into the gunpowder. A bright flash and a deafening blast later, the group looks up to see a scene of absolute chaos.

The front lines of the exiting group have been torn to pieces. Men and women alike are dead or dying on the ground missing limbs, while others have been smashed into the rock wall and their faces have become unrecognizable. A handful of the group seems to have noticed that Lelouche set off the explosion, and he realizes he must act quickly yet again to prevent them from killing the group. He throws his summoning stone down the walk-way. It bounces to a stop in front of the first few men as they attempt to help the injured survivors off of the ground. Recognizing the object, they give up hope of a tactful recovery and retreat down the hallway. Arcane power escapes the cracking orb and before the group appears an enormous Wyrm. Almost immediately, it begins devouring the injured and the dead before the remaining cult members attack it foolishly.

The Wyrm turns on the cult members, chasing them down the corridor. Passed the Wyrm, the group can see that as the members enter the corridor, they are splashing into a shallow bed of water, signalling that the entire underground must be flooded by this point. This seems a bit strange judging by the size of the underground area they’ve seen, and the group makes a mental note of this as Siobhan finishes up his ritual. The Passwall opens up a rift in the ceiling above them, and he signals to Reng to finish the job. Reng swings the bag of remaining gunpowder and tosses it up into the hole, which Siobhan closes immediately, locking the powder in an infinitely compounded crevice. The group wastes no time running to the exit, which remains open. They rush out into the rain once again and keep running, not knowing the size of the upcoming explosion and not wanting to risk being in the blast area. Just before rounding the corner toward the main keep gates, they hear an earth-shattering crack and turn back in time to see the mountain above the doorway crumble and cave in to the area below, closing the remaining cult members inside as the waters continue to rise.

The group heads to the well to see if they can discover anything about the power within. Rushing passed the guard station, they see the soldiers still hurrying to blockade the water with sand bags around the city. They head east passed the church and as they pass The Mortuary they notice a large fire inside of it, and Melchior doesn’t seem to be around. They continue toward the well, running north along the main road. Reaching the well, they see a large wall of sand bags on either side of the well, funneling what appears to be a small river into the side of the well, which has been broken open. Looking around, they spot a guard set down a sandbag and go around a corner, and then Francis rushes from behind a pillar and grabs the bag, adding it to the walls redirecting the water.

Lelouche detects a large amount of arcane power coming from the well, as if something innately powerful had been broken inside and was rushing out. Francis tells them to head north and redirect more water down toward the well, and the group rushes up a side street to do so. They split up, grabbing any sand bags they can find and creating a small blockade on the eastern side of the street. At this point, the rushing waters are so high through the diverted course that it wouldn’t even be safe to cross. They see Melchior on the other side of the street adding to his side, but at some point they look over and he’s left. They return to the well and find Francis being questioned by three guards. They approach and a guard asks “Do you know this man?” and seem to be questioning what Francis is doing with the bags. Siobhan manages to convince them, with the help of Lissar and Francis, that the water is heading in to the well because the bottom broke out and it’s a safe place to divert the water to avoid the southern slums being flooded. The guards seem to accept this and tell him that he needs to allow them to do their job and not to grab any more bags, to which Francis agrees.

The group returns to the church, soaking from the rain but confident that they’ve struck a mighty blow against the cult. The group, excluding Siobhan, climb up the secret entryway into Francis’s study and find Melchior and three ravens (Red, Blue, and Gray) waiting for them. Lelouche tells Melchior that he is sorry about The Mortuary, but Melchior assures him that it had to be done, implying that he set the fire himself. The group lets Francis in on all that has occurred since the last time they saw him, and he expereses worry that they might have another object as dangerous as the Wyrm stone. Lelouche assures him that they have nothing like that remaining, but Francis remains worried, considering they had no idea how powerful it was when they had it.

Francis conveys the story of what happened with Melchior and himself. The The Yellow Raven told him to break the northern side of the well’s wall, and begin setting up sand bags to divert water inside. The skies were clear but he followed her orders with Melchior. They were just about to start looking for sand bags when they noticed the clouds had shifted and a great storm was pulling over the city. Guards appeared with sand bags to divert water away from shops. Francis and Melchior took as many as they could, taking advantage of the confusion the guards seemed to have about who was setting up the water guards in what areas. After explaining their actions, Francis asks Lelouche for clarification about where the water went, and whether he was implicit in killing hundreds, if not thousands, of men. Lelouche confirms that they did, and Francis seems troubled but eventually shakes it off since he did not cause the deaths knowingly, and he was only following the orders of his patron.

The ravens express that they are pleased with the group’s progress. The The Red Raven can barely contain her joy, showing that she is quite happy to see the deaths of the enemies of her queen. The gray raven congratulates them on doing exactly what they were supposed to do, exactly when they were supposed to do it. The blue raven tells Lelouche that it isn’t her best day, but it was a necessary action and it will save lives in the end. Reng tells Francis that he needs to summon The Raven Queen, and asks if that is something he can do. Francis tells him that normally that is a complicated matter, but at the moment it would be quite simple. He turns to The Gray Raven (Shayla) and asks “Would you be so kind?”, to which the raven snaps her fingers and the queen appears before them. The ravens vanish into the air, while Francis and Melchior bow to her.

The group asks the queen about their current state and she tells them how pleased she is with their recent progress. They ask her what they need to do next, but she is unable to tell them. She says that with everyone in The Citadel dead or dying, Sandar must be hidden within his tower. It remains the one place she can’t see within, and they’ll have to find some way to get in, or some way to draw him out. The group ponders on this as the queen takes her leave. Gralamin asks Francis to cook some pork chops, and Siobhan comes up to eat, getting caught up on what has been discussed while he was away.

Siobhan pulls down his pants and shits directly onto a plate in the corner of the room, to everyone’s surprise and shock. Francis is incredibly mad, but seems to calm down as Siobhan drops it out of the window. He manages to miss the homeless people that are standing near the church entrance, and no one seems to immediately notice that it fell. The group attributes his strange actions to the stress of the day and they all continue eating. The group decides to sleep until late at night and then investigate the well. While the others sleep, Lelouche searches Francis’s library and finds the Glyph of Warding ritual book, which he studies carefully in silence. As the group begins waking, he finishes learning the ritual and marks it down in his spell-book.

They exit through the side office again and notice that the rain has subsided. They return to the well, and notice immediately that a number of guards have cordoned off the area. Two engineers are investigating the outside of the well, one being strapped to a mechanism to be lowered into the hole. An assistant is nearby preparing the ropes to lower the engineer down. They seem to be investigating what happened with the well, and why the bottom fell out, perhaps intending to research repairs to get it back into working order.

Siobhan uses his Mage Voice to distract a guard and pull him away from the group. The guard harasses a homeless man from which the sound appears to be coming from, but then follows the continuing sound around a corner and out of view. Lelouche walks around the side of the well and looks over, seeing the engineer preparing to be lowered inside. The assistant lowering the engineer in is slowly releasing the rope more and more, until Siobhan casts Sleep on him and knocks him unconscious. The rope is released completely and the engineer falls down the well screaming, presumably to his death. The second engineer is screaming “NATHAN” down the hole but receiving no response. There is a bit of chaos as the guards try to wake up the assistant and keep the now-curious townsfolk from approaching to check out the commotion.

Siobhan approaches one of the guards and introduces the group as a roaming band of adventurers. He tells the guard that he has rope and would be happy to go in after the engineer to check if he is okay. The guard, realizing that their only rope just went down the well with the engineer, accepts his offer. Siobhan begins wrapping his climbing rope around his waist while Reng finds a place to hitch the rope to. The second engineer seems relieved to not be sent down, and still seems a bit shaken from his friend’s fall. He asks them to hurry and please help Nathan.

200 EXP from battle + 400 EXP from role-play = 600 EXP total (12200 EXP total)
The Wand of Orcus has been stolen and is now in the hands of Sandar Meloris, who has been revealed as the leader of The Last Shadow. It appears he has used it to find a way to kill Yoren, one of two Yellow Ravens. The Citadel has flooded, killing the large majority of The Last Shadow members. Sandar is assumed to be in his tower.

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Day 17 - With A Little Luck And Nothing To Lose

Having just broken out of The Alcove, the group finds themselves before The Raven Queen and four Demigods, who all kneel in her presence. Behind them lays the bent and broken bronze gate leading back into the facility. After a moment of silence, Reng suggests that they leave the area. The queen opens a black portal to their right, and produces a long black obsidian sword from (seemingly) nowhere. Stephen stands, seeming to understand her meaning. He requests that she allow him to do the deed, as he believes that “there may be a trap in store for whoever slays them” and there would be much less risk for him to complete the action himself. The queen agrees.

Stephen walks to the twin girls. The queen taps each on the shoulder and they form into a single being, who is immediately slain by Stephen in a quick strike to the side of the face. Remoun places his hand in front of his own face, offering his own life, and Stephen strikes downward and across his chest. Remoun is left in a broken pile on the ground. After a quick bow to the queen, Stephen grabs the sides of his own head and quickly snaps his own neck. His body crumbles to the floor next to the others, and their bodies begin to fade away into dust.

The group, having taken no course of action to stop the deaths, now asks what their purpose was. The queen explains that throughout this entire endeavor, she has underestimated Sandar’s cunning. From here on, she will take the safest route she can afford. She suspects that Sandar was clever enough to place rituals onto each of the demigods during their incarceration. Not knowing what rituals were placed on them, she would have no idea if they were being watched, or even sabotaged. The only way to be entirely sure they weren’t being led to a trap is to kill the demigods and have them naturally return to her realm over time. They would return from the astral plane within the next few days or possibly weeks, and they would be entirely restored with no chance of any lingering effects from The Last Shadow. She goes on to say that if they escaped as easily as it seems, Sandar most likely allowing it to force her hand, so that they could be killed and he would not have to worry about them being used against him. As such, the queen believed that Sandar’s plan was almost to fruition, and they must hurry to defeat him. She steps through the portal, and the group follows.

The portal takes them to Francis’s hidden planning room, and they notice immediately that Francis and Melchior are not currently in. Seeing as Melchior is a wanted man, they worry that something bad may have happened, but the queen clarifies that she has sent them on official business and though she can not tell the group where they are specifically, they are exactly where they need to be.

The group goes over the different courses of action they think could lead to Sandar’s defeat. Stealing the details on the coup investigation so that they can sneak into the castle and inevitably into Sandar’s tower is still an option on the table, though it would require a lot of luck. Attempting to raise the city guard against Sandar is still an option, though they aren’t sure they can approach the guards without risking being thrown in jail by corrupt guards working for Sandar. The group eventually returns to the subject of the town well, and how it is some symbol of power for Sandar. The queen mentions that there is most likely an area of The Citadel under the well, and if they were to break the bottom out, they could do a great deal of damage to The Last Shadow base of operations. They agree to the plan and decide to use gunpowder on the lower area to do so. She says that she can’t directly get involved by she will do her best to help her in some way. She says she’s going to go find Procan (god of weather) and disappears, leaving the group wondering how that will help.

They check downstairs for Francis and Melchior but find nothing, so they return to the upper room. Waiting for them are the five ravens, and they say they are here to advice the group while the queen is away. Siobhan mentions the gray raven’s power and her ring appears on his hand, immediately imbuing him with her history and name. Lelouche decides to stay back with the ravens while the rest of the group go and look for a gunpowder supplier. They head to the local metal worker, and Lissar requests custom armor for Moon Foot, which the metal worker assures her his assistant is capable of forming from leather for 15g. She pays him and he asks her to return anytime after today to pick it up.

The group asks about gunpowder, and the man explains that he has about 2 lbs of powder which he generally just keeps around to test firearms if people have him fix them. For more powder, they would need to talk to the salesman from Camren that comes to visit him every two weeks. He had just visited so it would be a few days before his next visit, for sure. The group discusses whether they should go to Camren or wait, and the pros and cons of each plan. At this discussion, the yellow ring begins to signal to Siobhan. He summons the yellow raven out of it and she explains her power to him. She can open a portal to the future and so long as it does not affect the timeline in any massive way, they can influence things through the portal, even bringing an object back with them. They decide to take a bomb of some sort from the far future, but the raven mentions that it would be too much of a risk. If future technology fell into the wrong hands, the entire course of history could change, so they would need to think simpler. She recommends using the portal to get the gunpowder from the salesman, saying that he probably has plenty and it wouldn’t change much at all. They open a portal to Camren, and Reng manages to intimidate the salesman into giving the entire cart. He brings it back with 80 pounds of gunpowder, and the yellow raven seems like she is trying not to be amused by their fortune. They head to The Mortuary to utilize the underground door back into The Citadel.

Lelouche, knowing the plan, had left the planning room and met the group at The Mortuary. They enter and find the body of the guard they left down there prior. He has been covered in a sheet but was not removed, so his stench is notable. They check the wall and find that it is now covered by an illusion, which (ironically) only Gralamin can see. After revealing it, he banishes the illusion to uncover the large iron door they found the first time they were in the basement. After a few attempts at opening it, Lelouche recalls that they need to place a necklace inside, so he does so and the door swallows it before opening.

They find themselves at the pathway leading down to The Citadel and the side path marked as dangerous is off to their right. Realizing that the danger-marked path leads them closer to being under the well, Gralamin suggests they head down that direction. They do so slowly, checking for traps or hazards along the way. They make their way past a number of hazards, even going so far as to cast a Make Whole ritual to repair some of the cracked wooden planks holding the tunnel up. They eventually find a place where water is dripping through the walls of the cave, but Gralamin notes that they are still not directly beneath the well. Listening carefully, the group notes a white noise of sorts and think that it must be rain on the surface. Gralamin warns them that especially with the noise coming from above, they should be careful of monsters that might nest near running water within the cave. Reng, deciding that safety is for cowards, lets out a mighty yell down the cavern tunnel.

The yell echoes for a few seconds through the tunnel, and then there is silence for a few moments. Eventually, the group begins to hear clicking noises approaching them through the tunnel. At the edge of their light, they see five creatures stalking toward them, the largest of which is a mace-tail behemoth. They fight within the thin tunnel and manage to defeat the creatures, who show a lot of skill in moving about the cave and using the small space to their advantage (throwing members of the group behind them with teleportation and trapping them in place). The group finds a small amount of gold (40g) and the mace-tail bone material that they previously learned has magical properties to disable on-touch effects of magic items. They continue down the path until Gralamin points out that they must be below the well.

At this point, the white noise is extremely loud but they don’t have much time to think about it. They set up 60 pounds of gunpowder in a small pile of rocks pointing up toward the ceiling. They walk another 100 feet away, forming a trail from another pound of gunpowder so that they can light it from far away and have some time to run. Reng takes the remaining 19 pounds of powder in the cart and goes ahead in the cave, putting extra distance between himself and the explosion in case they need to run with the cart and Moon Foot when it gets set off. He signals to the group when he is in the clear. Lelouche fires a magic missile at the gunpowder trail and the entire group begins to run to meet Reng. They get all the way back to the door and wait, but hear nothing. Reng begins to speak up but is interrupted by a massive cracking noise from down the tunnel. They hear the sound of running water after the explosion shock-wave and they continue running, through the door (which shuts behind them) and then up the stairway back into The Mortuary. They notice is that it is raining extremely heavily outside.

200 EXP from battle + 400 EXP from role-play = 600 EXP total (11600 EXP total)
The Wand of Orcus has been stolen and is now in the hands of Sandar Meloris, who has been revealed as the leader of The Last Shadow. It appears he has used it to find a way to kill Yoren, one of two Yellow Ravens.

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Day 16 - The Mind Is The Greatest Prison

The group finds themselves trapped in a room below-ground, deep within The Alcove, with what appears to be an empty experiment area behind them and the room that The Yellow Raven (or at least one of them) died in ahead of them. They seem to have been left for dead and survived, so they begin talking about possible ways to escape. Eventually Gralamin starts looking around past the gate ahead of them and notices two switches by the wall on the other side of the gate. Lissar orders Moon Foot to jump and pull a switch, which he manages to do after a few tries. The gate ahead of them opens up into the room that Yoren was immolated in.

Siobhan studies the grating that she was standing on, and can tell that an arcane force was being pushed through with the fire, allowing Yoren to be killed by what is most likely an extension of The Wand of Orcus’s power. The blue ring begins to signal to him, and he summons The Blue Raven out of it. She explains that her power is to tell him something about the lives of the gods that she otherwise would be fate-bound to keep secret (whether it be the information she wishes to tell them, or any question they want answered that The Raven Queen would know the answer to). He agrees and asks what information she has. She explains that she is a spirit drawn from a living being and given immortal purpose, but she is not a demigod. A demigod is an immortal being chosen by a god specifically to create more worship in the world for their gods. She explains that this is an important distinction because while she and the other ravens have been around the group many times, they have yet to meet any demigods, and she can feel a number of them up ahead, in an area that she can not enter because of the god-barrier ritual.

She explains that somewhere ahead of them was a crystal that was powering the spell, and she couldn’t go any further than this room, but the demigods needed to be saved. Demigods usually return to the god’s realm when they die, but it can take a lot of time and it’s generally not much of a worry if they don’t return right away. There have been a few though, in the last few weeks, that have not returned and they are beginning to think they are imprisoned down here somehow.

The group returns to the waiting rooms, and begins to investigate the area for some clue of what was going on there. They learn that people were being forced into the ritual symbols in each of the small rooms, and that each warp portal linked to a central room that a window went into. Siobhan asks Gralamin to check for traps and he detects that they seem to have cleared out a used area, and it’s not trap-filled at all. They look into the middle area, and find a conduit that links to each ritual circle, but nothing is in the conduit holder at the current time. It seems like whatever they were trying to do here was accomplished and the area was completely wiped.

They leave out a gate and break into the management office to sleep. Lissar spends 2 hours training Moon Foot while the others discuss their current situation, before they all head to sleep. At some point someone from the other side seems to check the door lock, but keeps moving when it doesn’t budge. In the morning, they pack up and prepare to sneak through the rest of The Alcove.

Siobhan expresses that the cult probably expected them to leave, so they won’t be happy to see them there today… they expected them last time as if they saw the events unfolding beforehand and knew they would fall into the trap. Today they have the upper hand, but they should be careful to maintain it.

Reng realizes that in the new timeline, Leda probably was never rescued by the group, and Reng would still be part of the cult, so he may be somewhere within the facility. The group discusses what to do if they run into him, and what that may mean for the group. Lelouche suggests that Reng pretend to be the alternate version of himself. He notes that the alternate Reng would have two eyes so he would need to have an illusion cast on him to appear as the original Reng.

Gralamin attempt to swing Lissar around but gently places her on the ground and falls in front of the group. He has some trouble explaining his intentions, but the group assumes he is mentally challenged and moves on. Reng breaks down the door, and checks for guards posted near the door, but sees no one near by. The group returns to Yoren’s immolation room and discusses whether to climb up to the balcony that Sandar escaped through, or to head down the hallway his guards walked down. Eventually they decide on the latter.

Siobhan notices a bit of ash on the metal and snorts it haphazardly. He can momentarily feel Yoren’s power flow dissipating through him. Lelouche is a bit upset about this, but allows it. Gralamin eventually succumbs to curiosity and snorts the ash as well. They both note that their version of The Yellow Raven is still alive somewhere, as evidenced by the ring still having power flowing through it.

They head down a bit to an intersection and head right, into a small room that appears to be a warp terminal. Members of the organization walk in, name a warp portal they want to be sent to within the organization, and they are sent there when their number is called. The group talk about the possibility of being sent somewhere that might aid their mission, but decide against the risk of ending up trapped in the wrong place.

Reng makes a small scene about Siobhan forgetting something to give evidence for why they would come in and immediately leave after looking around, and they head out of the room again. They head back to the room the yellow raven died. Gralamin and Siobhan snort her ashes again, feeling her power flow through them again. They head north up the hallway toward the area the raven said held the life force of demigods. They find that farther down the facility hallway, the area becomes a larger, circular cave way.

They see a number of people passing them on the way, but they act casual and continue moving. Eventually they reach the end of the tunnel, walking (again, casually) passed two guards into what they immediately recognize as the underground jail section of The Citadel from Day 02. Siobhan mutters under his breath after a guard seems to notice him talking about hating circular caves. They hadn’t had a chance to look around the room the last time they were here, so they decide to investigate as best they can before getting out quickly.

Looking around the room, they notice that four of the cages are occupied. They begin walking around the circle to the left, noting a guard walking on the right side. They pass two girls in cages next to each other, but they keep moving. They eventually find a man who seems to be casting some sort of spell and having no luck. He seems to be searching for something around him. Gralamin asks him what he’s doing, saying he’s new to the area. The man asks how long he’s been there and Gralamin says two weeks. The man replies “Then you already know why I’m here.” and continues his searching motion. Lelouche looks for a way to release the man from what appears to be an arcane prison, noticing a ritual symbol drawn in the dirt in front of them, so he begins scratching it out and the man seems to notice something around him has changed. The group disrupt him for a second and after a short conversation, he realizes they are here to help and introduces himself as Remoun.

He tells them that they have to free Stephen immediately, and points to his right toward the last person stuck in a cage. The group rushes over to his cage and notices he is punching what appears to be an invisible wall in front of him, between him and the metal bars. He doesn’t seem to notice them even when they try talking to him, so they scratch out his ritual symbol and he appears to wake from a dream. He looks at them for a second, sizing them up and realizing they are friends. He grabs two bars in front of him and tears them directly off of the cage. Walking out, he asks where “the others” are. The group point him to Remoun and the girls.

Stephen immediately runs over at an incredible pace that surprises the group. Passing two jailers, he throws both to the ground and then against the wall, knocking both unconscious or possibly killing them. He throws his arms out and tears through the bars of Remoun’s cage, showing an incredible amount of strength. Remoun points to the girls as the group catches up, and Stephen rushes over to the last two cages. Remoun signals to follow him, saying they needed to leave as soon as possible. The group catches up to Stephen as he throws one cage completely off the ground and onto one of the guards approaching. It is at this point that the group notices another guard running toward the exit. Stephen tears a metal bar off of the last cage and tosses it like a javelin, putting it right through the heart of the guard as he runs. The girls walk out and the entire group begins running back out the way they came through.

They don’t encounter any more guards until they reach the first room, where a guard seems to be still sitting at the desk they saw him at on Day 15. He begins to greet them but then stops once he recognizes them. He begins to stand up to run, but Stephen takes the desk and kicks it toward the man, slamming him into the wall with it and immediately killing him. The group rushes to the Dwarven gate and begin looking for a way to open it. Remoun notices there is a control panel to the side, but before he even reaches it, Stephen grabs the edges of the metal door and twists the bronze and iron with his hands, opening up a small area for them all to enter through. On the other side, The Raven Queen awaits them. The four demigods bow before her and Lelouche winks at her as they all arrive. She rolls her eyes but seems happy with the events that have transpired.

0 EXP from battle + 400 EXP from role-play = 400 EXP total (11000 EXP total)
The Wand of Orcus has been stolen and is now in the hands of Sandar Meloris, who has been revealed as the leader of The Last Shadow. It appears he has used it to find a way to kill Yoren, one of two Yellow Ravens.

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Day 15 - Like A Lamb To Slaughter

The group discusses the well and their individual adventures after the fight in the holding cells of the guard station. Upon hearing of the well, Francis asks about it’s dimensions and any details that Reng and Lissar might remember. Reng describes the well and Francis hurriedly pushes around papers on his desk until he finds a map of the city. After a few seconds, he walks back over to the group and reveals that the city seems to be laid out as an altered ritual symbol for Spirit Idol, and the symbol was centered around the well. He proposes that the well may very well be the phylactery used in the ritual, and that it could have been altered to keep an unwilling spirit bound to the mortal plane. He suggests that the portion of the ritual cut out to make room for the forcefulness of it and it’s ability to pull a spirit from Dolurrh is most likely the ability to raise the spirit from the dead, which might explain why Sandar is so troubled: He went to an amazing amount of effort to prevent his daughter’s soul from passing but he had no ability to actually bring her back. He was just biding for time.

They talk about the possibility of exploring the well and learning more about the hooded girl, possibly forming a more concrete link between her and Sandar’s daughter before they make a plan revolving around the spirit. They decide to instead head down to the The Alcove and see if they are now able to open the door. Leaving town, they notice a lot of commotion over at the guard station. There seems to be an investigation going on regarding the murders of several prisoners. They walk around the area to avoid being too close to the station, and they quietly leave town.

Upon entering The Alcove, they find that Gralamin still can’t see the large door in the wall. After a few minutes of talking about it, they discover that since he had never touched one of the death necklaces, the illusion was one of requirement. After touching the necklace, he could see the door without any issues. The Yellow Raven appeared from a portal, seemingly returning directly from where she left to the last time they saw her in this cave. They bring up the door to her but she also can’t see it, so they offer her the necklace. It produces burns on her hands and she quickly drops it to the floor, citing that she would much prefer they not offer her an item bound to Orcus in the future. Her wounds begin to heal almost immediately, and she can suddenly see the door, so she walks up to it and places her hand to the metal. There are a few loud clanking sounds from the inside, and the door’s bevels begin to spin, unlocking it and opening it a few feet. The group continues inside, led by the yellow raven.

Inside the door, they immediately notice that they no longer even appear to be in a cave. The facility is fully enclosed in metal, and if they hadn’t come from a cave, they’d have no idea they were even underground. There are a number of people walking around, though it is apparent the facility was built for a much larger amount of people. It would seem that whatever was happening here in the past was being transitioned out and there were just managerial people remaining. The group watches as the yellow raven approaches a desk with a man behind it. Expecting trouble, they are surprised to find that no one seems to care about their arrival. The man behind the desk exclaims “You must be Yoren.” and tells her to keep moving on to her destination.

When asked who he is and what the facility is, the man explains that he doesn’t have any answers for them and they should continue moving. The Yellow Raven continues on, almost oblivious to the group being behind her, so they follow her closely. Alongside the walls are a few viewing ports into large rooms with small entryways into other rooms, with no apparent purpose. The group sees that between two of these areas is another large area with a ritual shrine, and linking towers that lead to what must be where those other rooms were connected to. The purpose of it all alludes them and it seems to be shut down at the current time, so the group moves on. They pass a closed door but ignore it so that they don’t let Yoren get too far ahead of them.

The yellow raven leads the group to a small room. About ten feet ahead of them, she walks through a gate into a large room ahead, and the gate slams shut behind her. As the group turns back, a stone wall closes behind them, leaving them trapped in a small area, unable to reach Yoren, who is now standing near a large metal grate on the floor that seems to be some sort of fire pit. They watch as Sandar appears on a balcony above her. In the corners of the room are a number of guards, but Yoren puts up no sort of fight. He expresses to her that he is surprised she isn’t attempting to escape after successfully hiding from his power for so long, but she explains that even if she is beaten, he won’t succeed in the end. He tells her that there are things even she can’t see, and indicates that she should stand on the metal grate. She does so willingly.

Lelouche takes a last-ditch effort to cast a spell to alter Sandar’s mind, allowing them to influence him, but fails. Sandar smirks and congratulates him on it being a clever move, but tells him that today was not his day. He walks out of the room and the metal grate erupts with fire, consuming Yoren in front of the group. A number of guards leave the room, but one stops by the gate first to taunt the group, stating that they served their purpose and were no longer needed. He pushed a number of summoning stones through the grate and monsters appear before the group before he makes his exit.

After a long battle, the group notes that the creatures were all underworld beings, and some of them were even attached to Ilsidahur, a demon lord in direct competition with Orcus. They note that Francis might know a bit more about this, but decide that their focus now should be on escape from the room they are currently trapped in.

300 EXP from battle + 100 EXP from role-play = 400 EXP total (9700 EXP total)
The Wand of Orcus has been stolen and is now in the hands of Sandar Meloris, who has been revealed as the leader of The Last Shadow. It appears he has used it to find a way to kill Yoren, one of two Yellow Ravens.

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Day 14 - The Breakout

The group finds themselves in the Meridian Keep prison, having slain four prisoners that were out of their cells and taken one hostage. The group discusses the danger inherent in keeping their hostage alive, or getting him medical attention as he is bleeding out. Gralamin takes charge and stabs the man through the heart, explaining that keeping him alive endangers all of their lives and the mission itself. The group seems to accept this excuse and discuss what to do about the bodies. Although they don’t have time to clean the blood and burn marks in the prison, and they know that the other prisoners will give them away, they decide it would be best to remove the bodies so as to at least create confusion. They use the warp necklace on each of the bodies, transporting them to The Temple of the Lost.

The group sends Reng and Lissar to check on their escape path, then the remaining members round a corner and find Melchior in a cell, awaiting his own death. He seems to know that the guards would hire someone in the prison to kill him before he can get to prison and possibly divulge Sandar’s secrets. Once the group clarifies that they are here to save him, he promises to tell them what he knows about Sandar if they can get him to safety. He requests that if they are caught, the group should kill him so that he can avoid further torture.

Reng and Lissar exit the building out to the stable to peer outside without being seen. They spot the sleeping guard, but no one else. While looking around, Reng hears a child’s laugh and goes to investigate. He finds a young girl in a black cloak, hood covering her face. She smiles wide when she sees him, and begins to chastise the two of them for wearing the guards uniforms. She apparently can tell right away that they are breaking in. She demands that they play a game with her, or she’ll tell on them. She begins to run, and they give chase.

Reng and Lissar chase The Hooded Child out onto the street, and see her standing on a stone fence alongside a main road heading east. She begins to run when she sees them, and they head after her. She taunts them, saying they’ll have to run faster to catch her. Reng notices that other than the sleeping guard, there is no one on the streets, which is odd for this time of night. Reaching the end of a stone fence, the girl jumps, disappears into thin air, and appears running in the same direction on a fence on the opposite side of the street. Reng and Lissar continue chasing her, passed the church and toward the main road heading north to the castle.

When Reng and Lissar don’t return a few minutes later, the group heads out the same direction. They prestidigitation Melchior’s face and hide him in another guard uniform to get him through the streets to the church. They blind-fold him so that he won’t know the location they are going to. Lelouche, Siobhan, and Gralamin hope to see Reng and Lissar back at the church, but they haven’t arrived yet. Priest Francis lets them in and, although he is wary at first, seems to think that Melchior may be a help to them.

Melchior tells a story about an expedition between realms that he and Sandar took part in almost two decades prior. They left Limbo to see the other realms and found themselves in the mortal plane. They made a living as merchants, eventually getting to Meridian and setting up shop. Sandar was a practicing arcane magician and they would disguise themselves on certain days to go down to Ramshire and put on shows for the locals, during a time when a lot of unrest existed due to widespread hunger in the area. At some point, a young girl from Ramshire began meeting with them in Meridian Keep and telling them that she was there with her family while they were on business. At some point, it was revealed that the girl was an orphan that wanted to learn from Sandar, who ended up taking her in as his daughter and student.

During the riots preceding the coup a decade ago, Sandar’s shop was broken in to and trashed. During the king’s walk around the city, Sandar approached him and yelled out, begging not for justice but for order. He asked the king to help put the riots to an end so that at least there would be peace while the city debated on their demands. In response, the king put out new commands for the guards to keep order during the unrest. The massacre that occurred during one of the following riots was a direct result of these new commands. A large group of people blamed Sandar for this, saying that he was a traitor to the movement for democracy in the kingdom. He was arrested on charges of disturbing the peace as a way for the king to placate the masses. While he was imprisoned, a group broke into his home and murdered his daughter as penance for all the people that died during the riot massacre. By the time Sandar got out of prison, it was too late to save her or even to raise her from the dead through any known method. Melchior explains that Sandar became a broken man that day, and shortly after Melchior left the city for work and hadn’t seen Sandar since.

Reng and Lissar continued to chase The Hooded Child, who taunts them at every opportunity. Reng grows tired of the chase and demands she stop with the game. He and Lissar stop, and the girl eventually comes to a stop as well. The girl begins to cry, stating that she only wanted to play. She disappears into thin air again, this time reappearing a few feet in front of them on the main northern road. She doesn’t appear winded at all from the running, though her body language denotes an exhaustion at their desire to stop playing. Reng asks her what she is. The girl says that she is lost, and that it is very dark here. She asks him “Why did he do this to me?”. She begins walking up the north road, beckoning Lissar and Reng to walk with her.

Reng asks her where everyone is, noting that there are still no other people on the street. The girl says “It’s just us right now.” Reng asks what was done to her, and she responds that she isn’t sure where she is, but she’s been stuck. Someone put her here and she can’t leave. Reng notices her looking up at one of the towers in the castle, which has a single pire lit up. Reng wonders for a second whether this signals a sort of town meeting which might explain why no one is around, but realizes that a single pire doesn’t denote anything specifically as far as he can recall.

Back in the church, Melchior‘s continues his story, picking up four years later when he returned to the city. By that time, Sandar had moved from a simple magician to the High Wizard of the King’s Court, which seemed unlikely but possible for someone of Sandar’s resolve. He had heard rumors that Sandar had practiced dark, forbidden magic, but there was nothing substantial to prove it. He implies that the rumors surrounding that may be what helped him move up in position so quickly. Lelouche explains what they know about Sandar, but Melchior is adamant that it was uncharacteristic of him. No matter how broken Sandar may be, he wouldn’t worship Orcus. Bringing the girl back as an undead lich wouldn’t be the same as bringing her spirit back, and even Sandar wouldn’t make that mistake. Francis expresses that if they were truly that close of friends, then he trusts that they must be mistaken about Sandar’s end goal.

Francis expresses that even though they were probably right to bring Melchior here, but he has no idea how to handle the fact that he can’t. He suggests sneaking him out of town to keep him safe. Lelouche asks him about the underground tunnel in the mortuary, he tells them that he was approached by an official in the city and they demanded that he move corpses through an underground tunnel for official business of the king. He didn’t question it, and assumed it was at least nothing sinister. This seems to be a sufficient answer and they move on to trying to figure out what to do about Sandar.

Reng and Lissar continue walking with The Hooded Child toward the castle and the town square. Reng asks where they are walking to, and the child says “We’re almost there.” They walk in to the town square and the girl hops onto the edge of a well in the center, walking along the edge in a playful manner with her arms out. She says “I’m not sure how long I’ve been here. It feels like forever.” Reng looks down the well out of curiosity, and asks her if she’s dead. The girl responds “Everyone asks me that. How should I know?” and jumps down the well. neither Reng or Lissar hear a splash or collision of any sort, and when they look down the well, there is no sign of her.

Back at the church, Siobhan enacts a Seek Rumor ritual and meditates, searching for an idea of any weakness Sandar might have. After a few minutes of concentration, whispers on the wind come to him and pieces of information begin to piece together. He realizes that based on the bond Sandar must have had with this girl and the idea that all he is doing is based on her death, she must be a weakness of sorts. If they could find out what exactly Sandar wanted and fool him into thinking he can have it through a different method, they could probably convince him to do whatever they wanted. In addition, Siobhan realizes that Sandar’s over-confidence can also be turned against him. The Raven Queen wants to allow The Yellow Raven to sacrifice herself, which would convince Sandar that the future was unable to be seen by the god. This would probably cause him to lower his guard and even disable the spell that hid his actions from the gods (since that spell requires a great amount of resources to maintain). This would be a great moment to enact any plan against him, when he believed he had already won. Siobhan wonders about getting in to the castle, and the whispers bring to him an idea of Sandar’s quarters and that it is somewhere he would never expect them to reach. If they could access it somehow, Sandar would be at a significant disadvantage.

Lelouche expresses that he wishes they could bring the girl back from the past, and his ring begins to glow. He triggers it and the green raven appears. She seems unsure of what use she would be, but when the problem is explained she offers an idea. She is afraid to put it to words, seeming almost ashamed to suggest her idea. She explains in a roundabout way that she can’t bring something from the past that would alter the timeline too drastically, or Labelas will order her death and probably the death of anyone involved. She offers, instead, to bring the girl’s corpse back, so they could bring it back to life, but they would have to kill her and return her to the past… She says this knowing how vile of an act it would be.

Lelouche wonders about the morality of such an act, and Francis offers an alternative. Uncovering a secret stash of ritual scrolls, he reveals that he keeps some scrolls in the church that he doesn’t feel comfortable with as a holy man. One of them, he says, might help. He hands Lelouche an Undead Servitor and offers an idea: If they bring back her corpse and create an undead servitor, then disable the ritual before returning her, they wouldn’t ever deal with her soul directly, and therefore there wasn’t as much of a moral quandary. Melchior expresses that although it makes him uncomfortable, he understands that her soul will not be bothered and therefore it would be worth it to enact this plan if it meant the end of Sandar’s plot.

Francis babbles a bit to himself out loud about what would be required to bind a spirit and how Spirit Idol could do something similar but it would have to be altered on a spirit that was unwilling to be bound or gone from it’s body. He then goes off on a tangent about how normally that ritual would allow you to raise the dead, but then wonders out loud whether that could still be done if the soul had been pulled back to be bound.

In the town square, Reng and Lissar investigate the well but find no sign of the girl. Reng takes out his climbing gear and ties off one side to a horse hitch station nearby, leaving his bag with Lissar and climbing down the well to look for the girl. he moves down 20 feet to the water and with the remaining 10 feet, peers under the water. Even being able to see in low-light, the well is extremely dark. He notes that another 20 feet down the bottom of the well opens up into a large reservoir, which is a regular feature for a city of this size. Unfortunately, it prevents him from seeing a large amount of the area at the bottom, since he can’t go any lower with his armor on. He climbs back up to the surface and explains the situation to Lissar. At this point there are people in the street again. Lissar and Reng both notice that the sun is coming up, though they would have assumed it was no later than 2 AM. It would seem time is moving a bit differently for them. They both agree that although they should investigate this further, they should probably meet back up with the group before people begin asking questions about why Reng climbed down the well.

0 EXP from battle + 300 EXP from role-play = 300 EXP total (9300 EXP total)
The Wand of Orcus has been stolen and is now in the hands of Sandar Meloris, who has been revealed as the leader of The Last Shadow.

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Day 13 - A Remnant of Another Time

The group finds themselves in the tavern, continuing to think over Gralamin’s plan to steal a number of horses from the city guard in order to raise funds. They decide it would be best to sleep on it and discuss it in the morning. After eating, they return to the church and see two armed guards on the outside, but seemingly no one inside the building. Figuring that it would be best to not shake the hive, the group takes a few back alleys to sneak back to the secret entrance to Priest Francis’s lab.They arrive back at the entrance and go over their plans for the night. Siobhan requests that Lelouche bring him a Passwall ritual book from the lab so that he can study it overnight in the inn, while the rest of the group sleeps in the church.

The rest of the group sneaks into the lab and begins setting up the plan for the next day. Francis tells them that there were many times during the rebellion that his group would be holed up in the lab hiding, so they had a few mats to sleep on. He sets them out for the group. Siobhan sets off for the inn with the ritual book and the rest of the group head to sleep. Francis insists on working through the night to complete the enchantment rituals on the transcendent material.

In the morning, the group finds Francis asleep, with a note on the table next to their equipment, and explaining that he will need Lelouche’s help creating the portal-cursed necklace. They group suits up and gets acclimated to their new-found power, and then Lissar, Gralamin, and Reng head off to find SIobhan. Lelouche stays back to finish reading his Linked Portal ritual while he waits for Francis to wake up.

Arriving at the inn, the group asks for Siobhan. The inn-keep seems to recognize who they are describing and she points them to one of the back rooms. Reng knocks on the door, but received no response. Possibly worried, he kicks down the door and yells for Siobhan, but gets no response other than the inn-keep asking about the commotion. Siobhan arrives back at the inn, saying he had gone for a walk in the morning. The inn-keep expresses that the door must be paid for, but Reng refuses. Lissar offers the gold to prevent making enemies in the city.

The group decides to head to The Mortuary and try to find The Mortician, since he is said to be alive according to Priest Francis. Arriving at his office, the group finds a guard stationed outside. Gralamin attempts to ask him about it, and the guard expresses that there is an investigation into a number of murders, in which Melchior is the suspect. Lissar convinces the guard that she knew Melchior personally for many years, and she is there to aid in the investigation. She is brought inside with Reng and Siobhan to answer questions.

Inside the office, a number of guards are going through paperwork and seem to be scanning for evidence. An investigator approaches Lissar and asks her to sit down. He begins asking her questions about what she might know regarding the murders, and if she noticed anything out of the ordinary in Melchior’s behavior lately. She spins a tale about having not seen him in a while but knowing him years prior. While answering questions, she manages to get a few bits of information regarding the case from the investigator. Apparently Melchior is being tried for the murders that occurred in the church the day prior. A number of witnesses apparently saw him enter the church alone, and leave covered in blood and brandishing a weapon. Lissar asks about the priest, and the man only says that he is assumed to be dead or kidnapped, as no one has seen him since.

This clashed with what the group had seen personally when they arrived at the church, but they did not express that to the guards. Instead, Lissar explained that she had told them all she knew and they asked her to return if she thought of anything that could be of help. She offhandedly asks whether Melchior is in prison, and the guards mention he is currently in a holding cell in the central guard post. They meet back up with Gralamin outside and catch him up on what just occurred.

Back in the lab, Lelouche and Francis create two identical ritual circles for a linked portal on top of each other, slowly drawing the rune in parallel movements, stretching the ritual out over the course of an hour at Francis’s instruction. On completion, the patterns twist into each other and form a hole in the floor. Francis very carefully picks up the necklace and brings it over. Holding it directly over the center, he drops it into the hole and steps back. The item falls through, then is ejected and the hole closes. An energy emits from the object for a second, signaling that the ritual is complete. Lelouche places the cursed portal sigil into his pocket for later use, knowing it will send anyone who wears it to the abberant controller in The Temple of the Lost.

The rest of the group return to the church, but Gralamin asks Siobhan if he would like to go check the butcher to see if the pork chop order arrived. The two of them leave while Lissar and Reng head back into the church. Since the guard is gone, they decide to enter through the front doors. The inside of the church is completely scrubbed, with seemingly no evidence of a fight at all. Lissar and Reng find no one downstairs, so they go upstairs to find Francis. The hallway at the top of the stairs still has many doors, but the one leading to the lab is now just a wall. They recall the warding spell placed on the door to hide it, and approach the wall, hearing a faint mumble from the other side.

Reng knocks on the stone. Francis, fearing the guards had returned and heard them, signals for Lelouche to be quiet. His fears are assuaged when Reng speaks up and announces he is back. Francis goes to the wall on his side and draws a pattern spell, disabling the illusion and bringing the door back. The four of them discuss what occurred at the mortuary.

Gralamin and Siobhan arrive at the butcher and pick up the order of 20 pork chops. Siobhan tips the butcher for his service and they go on their way, pork chops in hand. They arrive back at the church and Siobhan offers to hold a number of the pork chops while Gralamin brings a few in for the others. He sneaks back up the crawl space (not knowing the front door was an option) and arrives back in the lab. The group feast on pork chops and Gralamin asks Francis what it would take to send one through the linked portal in the necklace. Francis responds by picking one up, positioning the necklace into a circle, then carefully dropping the pork chop inside of it while covering his face. It disappears into the necklace and the group cheers for their small but very important victory.

Siobhan waits outside, holding 17 pork chops, and decides to look around. He spots The Green Raven and The Red Raven in front of the church and approaches them. He asks what they are doing there, and they tell him that the murders the day before are being misrepresented, and that whatever the guards tell them isn’t true. He asks the red raven if she is hungry, and offers her a pork chop. She takes one from him and it disappears in a small puff of smoke to be eaten later.

Siobhan asks the ravens if there is anything they could do to help them find Sandar. The green raven says that she thinks there is something, and opens a green portal behind her. She asks Siobhan to return to this spot in an hour. She takes the red raven’s hand and leads her into the portal, and it closes behind them. Siobhan is left waiting outside, now with 16 pork chops in-hand.

Lelouche requests that Francis draw a portal rune on the floor of the lab so that, if need be, the group can escape from a situation in the future. The group eventually comes outside and meet Siobhan, and he tells them what occurred. They decide to wait for the ravens to return. After a short while, a green portal opens back up and they walk out of it, seemingly pleased that the entire group has assembled to hear what they have to say. The ravens explain that they went back to a day about a decade ago where a massacre occurred. They seem to be talking about the same day that Francis explained from just before the coup. The ravens describe the townsfolk demanding an audience with the king and the guards slaughtering a number of the people in the street when a riot breaks out.

The ravens explain that there are some things they couldn’t see, and it must have been a twisting of the spell that prevents gods from entering certain areas. They can’t see a certain event that occurred that day, but they express that they believe it is the key to finding Sandar’s weakness. They say that the last thing they saw in the past was Melchior and Sandar walking together. The group discuss the possibility that Melchior will know something about what happened that day. The group decides they need to break him out of the holding cell before he is moved to the prison.

The group heads to the apothecary to stock up on ritual components. Lelouche and Siobhan buy enough for their new rituals, and the group heads to the guard station. They wait in the surrounding area until evening, when Gralamin has told them only one guard will be stationed. They sneak up on the guard and Siobhan puts him to sleep. They sneak past the sleeping guard and into the station, finding it essentially deserted at this time of night. They look around the room for any interesting items and find a uniform locker. The group suits up with the guard’s cloaks and helms. As Reng is so noticeably non-human, the group uses Prestidigitation to hide his facial features.

Moving back to the cells, they find a number of cells filled with quiet prisoners. They end up at a locked gate. Returning to the guard station’s main room again, Lelouche finds a set of keys on the wall and returns to the gate. They unlock the gate just in time to see a number of cells open and a few of the prisoners apparently walking freely down the long hallway away from them. Gralamin lines up a shot and disables one of the men, and the four others turn back on the group. One man asks what they’re doing there, but after a moment of confusion the largest of them says “These guys aren’t supposed to be here.” and begins charging toward them. A fight ensues, with many of the prisoners still in cells clamoring for blood.

Very quickly the group notices something peculiar about the prisoners they are fighting. Not only are they walking out of their cells, they have been given weapons. The fight ends in the group’s victory and they approach the only one of the five that remains alive, deciding to wake him up to question him. Gralamin attempts to punch him in the face to wake him up, but misses completely and a number of prisoners begin laughing at him. Reng threatens them and they quiet down. Lelouche cuts the prisoner’s face and he wakes up. They begin questioning who he works for and why he is out of his cell in the first place.

The man describes that he was a non-violent thief, essentially a cat burglar. He got caught and thrown in the holding cell, but instead of being tried for his crimes he was threatened by the secondary liege (second in command of the town guard). He, along with the other prisoners, were told they would be killed if they didn’t follow a set of instructions very carefully and kill Melchior in the middle of the night. When the first few prisoners were told to do it, they refused, but after the liege killed a few prisoners in their cells, eventually the five of them agreed. They were given weapons to ensure it was quick and quiet, including an implement to allow the largest of the group to burn the body beyond recognition. In addition, the prisoners were told that they would return to their cells, or they would be beheaded immediately when they were found.

The group decides on what to do with the living prisoner, and they decide that since he requires medical attention they will leave him at the hospital after they leave the prison. They threaten to return and kill him if he tells anyone about them, and Reng manages to scare him so badly he soils himself. He agrees to their terms. The group loots the bodies but only finds a single item of interest, a set of metal bracers that act as an implement so that one doesn’t need to be held. Since they have no detachment method, Lelouche hacks off the dead prisoner’s hands to remove them, and decides to take the bracers back to Francis to figure out how to use them. The group heads toward Melchior’s cell.

300 EXP from battle + 300 EXP from role-play = 600 EXP total (9000 EXP total)
The Wand of Orcus has been stolen and is now in the hands of Sandar Meloris, who has been revealed as the leader of The Last Shadow.

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Day 12 - A Glimmer Of Hope

The adventurers find themselves in the church, having just arrived via a portal from The Raven Queen’s realm and fought off a number of monsters magically disguised as humans. They rush to find the priest to ensure that he is safe, running into his back office. They arrive just in time to watch as a man leaps at him, and he runs it through with a cross staff. The dying man slides down the staff toward a petrified Priest Francis, reaching toward him still. Reng quickly approaches and slices off his head. After doing so, both the head and body transform to reveal the corpse of a disguised Ettercap Fang Guard.

Siobhan decides to wait outside of the church and finds a number of bodies strewn across the street, in what appears to be related to the fight inside the church. A number of people are taken aback when they see him, but after a while of him waiting around peacefully, they seem to go about their business. Eventually Gralamin joins him and asks for help finding a pork chop, and they leave the area.

The group get Francis to his feet and he eventually comes to his senses, realizing they aren’t there to hurt him and are actual people instead of monsters. They discuss that they were sent by The Raven Queen to request his help, and that Sandar Meloris is most likely behind the attack. Upon being shown the token that she gave to them to prove her blessing is upon them, he tells them to follow him.

They climb the stairs of the church to a long hallway with multiple doors. At the end is a peculiar door with a metal lock. Francis produces a key from a necklace under his shirt and opens the door, revealing a workshop of sorts. He tells them all to come inside. The room is full of objects that seem to be related to some soft of secret mission. A seer’s stone for retrieving information, a library of information and ritual books. A collection of ritual scrolls, an enchanting table, a cauldron, and a number of other accouterments are scattered around. Locking the door behind him, he requests to know the full extent of the situation.

The group explain what they know about Sandar Meloris and The Last Shadow. They explain the alteration they made to the timeline and also the fact that The Wand of Orcus is now in Sandar’s control, as well as what they believe to be his plan to kill the Eyes of the Raven. He is deeply troubled, but tells them that they came to the right person. It is impossible to know just how deeply ingrained the conspiracy is within the kingdom, and they can’t trust that the city guard would help them, or even believe them. In addition, they discuss the possibility that the king’s madness could be partially influenced by Sandar and he could therefore be impossible to get through to.

Francis asks each of them to choose an enchantment for him to work on. In addition, he asks that Lelouche look through his ritual books and study one while they form their plan, as he has many ritual books that may come in handy in the future. He asks each of the group members to pick a ritual scroll from his collection and take it, as they can be extremely powerful tools in the right hands.

In discussing their plans, Francis divulges some information about the gods and how they interact with the mortal realm. Essentially, the gods fear going to war directly unless they absolutely know they can win, since losing would mean an end to everything they know and could plunge entire realms into chaos. As such, they have demigods to do most of the work revolving around equilibrium of the chaotic powers, and they have followers do anything they need to be done that they don’t think other gods would be happy about them having a direct hand in. Decades prior, mortals had discovered a way to keep a god from being able to directly influence or even observe anything within a certain area, so as to keep the gods from intervening with mortal affairs any more. Unfortunately, this was quickly used for nefarious purposes. Francis describes that he believes The Last Shadow could keep a spell of that nature going almost indefinitely with the amount of resources they have, and that is why The Raven Queen and even the Eyes of the Raven can’t intervene directly to destroy the cult.

He offers a number of suggestions, such as trying to get the city guard to siege the temple by revealing the cult for what it is. Alternatively, he offers up an idea to gather information about the coup a decade prior, and how the assassins entered the castle undetected. The group surmises that if they could get inside the castle without being noticed, they would have the upper hand against Sandar and could also gather information, perhaps even convincing the king of all that has occurred. The group attempts to figure out the most effective strategy, even going so far as to think of a way to steal the Officiant’s seal in order to requisition the case files on the investigation that occurred after the coup. Lelouche surmises that if they could transfer the temple being’s entity sigil into the cursed necklace they found in The Temple of the Lost, they would only have to get the necklace around Sandar’s neck to end his plan and lock him away in the other realm, completing their task for the abberant at the same time.

Gralamin continues his never-ending mission to ensure that all creatures, great and small, have tasted the glory of pork chops. He requests information from a town guard about where one might find a pork chop, and is directed to a local butcher. Upon arriving, they discover that no pork chops are currently in stock, as pigs are a rare commodity in the kingdom. The butcher mentions that there is a meat trader that arrives in town every few days and would probably arrive soon after, and he would be willing to take an order and relay it to the salesman if they would like.

Gralamin, knowing not to hesitate when pork chops are on the line, pays the man 30 gold to set up an order. The butcher asks him to return the next day for the order of 25 salted pork chops. Siobhan, during this exchange, decides to look for the ravens, hoping for some direction in a time when it is most needed. He manages to spot The Blue Raven standing up north of the butcher’s alley, within a swarm of people in the city square. He convinces Gralamin that he wants some time to himself, and he makes his way to the square.

Upon reaching the square, he talks to the blue raven about her focus. Upon it’s mention, Siobhan receives a blue ring on his finger. Siobhan asks what the ring is for, but the raven only explains that when she is needed, it will allow for them to summon her power, no matter where they are. He asks her what she’s doing in the town, and she explains that she is observing the lives of the people in town in order to find out information about a group nearby. Siobhan attempts to ask her to take a break from her work, but she insists that her life is work until her work is done. He tells her that she should talk to Lelouche at some point, as they might have something in common.

Back in the planning room, the group hears footsteps below, and eventually a voice calls up the stairs asking if anyone is there. Francis hurries to the door, shushing the remaining members of the group in the room and creating an illusion over the door to hide it from the guard. He expresses his worry that the guards would not be on their side and that they can’t know any of this until we can be sure we can trust them. He tells Lelouche, Lissar, and Reng to exit through a panel trap door that leads out of the church from within the room. They climb out and find that the church has been cordoned off by guards.

Lissar attempts to ask them what’s happening, and a guard tells her that some men attacked the church. She notes that it is a bit strange he didn’t say monsters, since the illusions were broken. It seems the guard is trying to cover up what occurred inside. The group ponder whether this means the guard is not to be trusted, or if it’s just not the type of information they are allowed to divulge to the public. She asks for help finding her friends (Gralamin and Siobhan) and are directed to the tavern.

The group all meets up back at the tavern, Gralamin revealing himself to have gotten fairly drunk in the time they’ve been separated. He somehow manages to eloquently explain a plan he’s come up with. Prior to becoming drunk, he had taken time to study the shifting of the guards at the horse stable. He found a weakness within their schedule, when one of two guards leaves his station and the other is left alone. Gralamin proposes that using the abilities at their disposal, as well as a few tools they’ve picked up, they could make off with a number of horses and sell them in another city. This would allow them to raise funds for their mission. The group discusses the possibility of enacting this plan.

0 EXP from battle + 400 EXP from role-play = 400 EXP total (8400 EXP total)
The Wand of Orcus has been stolen and is now in the hands of Sandar Meloris, who has been revealed as the leader of The Last Shadow.

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Day 11 - Delving The depths

The group begins their day, camped out near the entrance to the temple. They discuss their thoughts on the source of power beneath the surface, and decide to delve back in. Passing the first two staircases, they enter through a familiar wooden door, not knowing when they will return.

After passing through a number of non-imposing rooms of varying sizes, they come upon two men on the far end of a long stone room. One of the men is cloaked and facing away from them, and the other is in front of him, facing both him and the group. They listen in on the conversation and discover that the cloaked figure is attempting to talk the other man down from a violent confrontation. The other man is wearing rags that appear to be an older soldier’s uniform, and his hair is wild and knotted. Dirt covers him, and he is clutching a sword that appears to have been broken in half, threatening the cloaked figure away during the conversation.

After a few seconds, the crazed man jumps at the cloaked figure. The fight only lasts a second, with the crazed man crumbling to his knees after a strike to the chest. The cloak’s hood falls as the crazed man dies, and a Githzerai man is revealed. As the group approaches, he turns around and they recognize him as the right hand of the king, the man they saw when they sought an audience with the king just days prior.

He apologizes for the scene, and explains that he was sent here to rescue the man, but he had clearly gone insane. He mentions offhandedly that the man’s name is Tristen, and the group recognizes that he must be the same man they met in Ramshire and again at The Maw, though they don’t know if he would recognize them after the events regarding the Temporal Waves. He brings up the journal and how he was sent to rescue Tristen after discovering that he may still be alive. He had sent him into the temple with a small regiment to investigate strange occurrences in the area eight months prior, and had thought he was dead until a recent adventurer’s group had mentioned finding his journal pieces within the temple. The group recognizes that the three pieces they found were from the same journal.

The man introduces himself as Sandar Meloris, the High Wizard of the Court and right hand of the king. He tells them that he is there to shut down the machine at the heart of the temple, an Abberant spirit that is affecting the outside world. He explains that this temple is actually an ethereal plane contained within the mortal realm. Decades prior, there was a religious group that summoned the plane to this realm and gave it an eternal purpose, to be used as a prison for anyone who broke their extremely conservative moral laws. No one inside would age, so they would either starve, die violently to the creatures, or roam the halls for eternity after losing their sanity. If someone escaped, they would be considered forgiven for their sins. The religious movement fell to pieces long ago but the temple remained.

The group is unsure of whether to trust his intentions, so he tells them his plan. He has a number of ritual scrolls with him, and plans to subdue the beast and convince it to stop interfering with the mortal plane. If that does not work, he will be forced to kill it. He seems confident in his ability to do so, but asks the group if they would like to help with his mission. They decide to stay with him for the time being, as they share a common goal.

They trek through a number of rooms, eventually finding a stone room with a well in the center of it. The well water is bubbling but upon inspection, does not seem to react to them or have any magical ward over it. Sandar voices his assumption that it is some sort of venting apparatus for the temple, since it is a living, breathing entity. The group looks around the room and finds a number of paintings. One of them is of Tristen when he was still sane and well-kept. Sandar recognizes him and also a man in another painting. In one of the corners, Leda is perplexed by a painting with no creature in the fore-front, but the forest she was raised in as the background. Sandar comforts her, and assures her that the beast knows they are coming to stop it, and it is trying to confuse and taunt them. He convinces her to pay it no mind. The group inspect the paintings of the two men Sandar recognizes but discovers nothing particular about them. The group takes down and stores the two paintings of the men as well as the painting of the forest. The rest of the pictures are left within the room.

After leaving that room, Sandar mentions something about the paintings and Leda turns back, re-entering the room and having the door shut behind her. As the temple shifts, the group recognizes that they have no way of finding her and she may be lost. Sandar tells them to stay together, and hope that the beast will allow her to be freed when this is over. They check back to her painting and now see that it is a picture of a man they don’t recognize, and the painting of the forest is gone.

Sandar creates an Abberant Totemic Link with the beast, and the group follows a path summoned by a ritual scroll. Along the way, a Find Traps ritual scroll allows them to pass through rooms with ease, eventually reaching a room in which Sandar creates a Passwall hole to the center area of the temple. The group looks around and sees thousands of rooms shifting through an eternal plane, and they stand on a path leading to the one room they can see that does not shift. In front of them are two large metal doors. The room has many pathways leading in to it from all sides, but only one is accessible to the group. Sandar goes over the plan for them.

He will use Knock to defeat any barrier on the way in. He gives Siobhan a Magic Circle scroll, which is to be used if the negotiations go the way of violence. While the Magic Circle encloses the beast, Sandar will try to convince the beast to stop interfering with the mortal realm with an Adjure spell. He will force it to open a gate to the surface, and they will escape. The path behind them will be blocked using an Arcane Barrier scroll so that the beast can not enter the mortal realm, as Sandar expects it would attempt to in order to fulfill it’s goal of judgement. If all else fails, they will defeat the beast in combat and they’ll have to find another way to escape. He tells them that when the gate opens, they’ll have to go through first, as the Adjure spell will break as soon as he exits the plane.

They decide to enter the room, but Sandar can not seem to open the main gate. He requests help from Reng and they open the gate together. While the door opens, the signal stones held by Lelouche go off. Discussing what treasure to put inside the bag ends up being fruitless as the stone goes off twice more and then cracks while they talk about it. The group decides that this must mean time outside is moving quickly at the moment, and the ship will not be there when they return. They decide that there isn’t much they can do about that and they will have to find another way out with the help of Sandar.

Inside the room, they find an extremely tall knight clad in pure white, with skin the color and texture of marble. Sandar approaches it and attempts to negotiate with it. The talks do not go well, with the creature insisting that it’s purpose is to judge and it will continue doing so, implying also that they would undergo an extreme punishment for entering his main sanctuary in their attempts to escape. Sandar tells Siobhan that it’s time to enact their plan, and a Magic Circle appears below the creature, blocking it from attacking them.

Sandar uses Adjure to convince the beast to open a gate to the outside and then disassemble itself into nothingness. The gate opens, and Sandar casts Arcane Barrier. Instead of blocking the path behind the group, he blocks the group within the barrier. He reveals that he has been searching for The Wand of Orcus for many years in a place that even the gods would refuse to tread, but then it suddenly appeared on the mortal plane in the hands of a group he had never seen before in these lands. He magically summons the wand into his own hand and enters the portal, closing it behind him.

The group expect the creature will attempt to kill them, but he is beginning to shatter. The group discuss the apparent helplessness of the situation and ask what occurs if the creature dies. In response, the red ring on Lelouche’s hand begins to glow, beckoning him to activate it. He activates it and The Red Raven appears before them. Unlike her previous interactions, she isn’t speaking of her focus, and is in fact being candid with them. She asks them if they would like her to prevent the death of the creature, as that is the power she has offered to them with her ring.

Unsure of what the creature will do, they discuss with him a deal to allow them to escape. At first, it refuses, as it’s purpose is only to pass judgement on the wicked. They ask whether his goal will be complete if he dies, and he agrees that he should do anything within his power to survive and continue his task. He offers them a deal: He will let them live and escape, but he will not stop his interference with the mortal realm, and they will be bound to a mission to return Sandar Meloris to his plane to be judged. They agree, and he is saved from death by The Red Raven, who then disappears. He requests the enchanted Bag of Holding from the ship so that they can send Sandar through it once they get him subdued, and offers them a ritual scroll that will link a new bag of holding to him temporarily.

The creature explains that since Adjure was forced upon him, he has no ability to tell where he sent Sandar, but he can send them anywhere they have been and wish to return to. They request to be sent to the plane in which they spoke with The Raven Queen, and he opens a portal for them. Siobhan steps through to the white plane first, hoping to interact with the Eyes of the Raven before the rest of the group, but finds the place empty. The rest of the group enters as well.

The queen appears before them, and they explain what they’ve seen and done. She displays their memories in front of them and they group pieces together some events that occurred within the temple. Sandar created a Prestidigitation to trick Leda into thinking one of the paintings was implying her death, then used his Call of Friendship ritual scroll on Leda while comforting her, using it later to convince her to get lost in the temple. When he requested help from Reng to open the metal gates, he was actually getting close enough to use Drawmij’s Instant Summons on the wand so that he could summon it away from him when the time was right.

The queen explains a plan that she needs their help on. Sandar leads a cult called The Last Shadow, which seeks to kill the Eyes of the Raven and blind her to the mortal realm, allowing them to enact a plan to create a world ruled by the undead. It is at this point that Reng reveals that he was a part of the cult but left when he discovered their plan to end death. He was afraid that the group’s devotion to The Raven Queen would cause them to turn on him if they knew, so he kept it a secret. The queen offered, during his time spirited away a few days prior, to forgive his defiance of her as long as he continued his fight against the cult, which he had left specifically because while he wishes to become an undead warrior, he believes the mortal realm is sacred and that battle means nothing when death is defeated.

The group asks to be sent to the church, as the queen mentions that the priest is their most powerful ally that she trusts. She is not able to see within the confines of the cult due to their magic, so she asks that they request help from the priest to defeat the bindings that keep her out of The Temple. They agree and are sent to the church through another portal.

Arriving at the church, they find themselves in the middle of a siege by four powerful creatures disguised as humans. A number of clergy members are slaughtered but the group manages to kill the creatures, and the disguises fade away as they die. Each creature is noted to be from separate areas of the universe, but can all be found together in only one place: The lowest level of Pandemonium.

300 EXP from battle + 300 EXP from role-play = 600 EXP total (8000 EXP total)
The Wand of Orcus has been stolen and is now in the hands of Sandar Meloris, who has been revealed as the leader of The Last Shadow.

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