Rising Through The Reaches

Descending into Darkness

Session Two - February 23, 2017

The hours pass as your group tells the magistrate your tale. You tell him of your tomfoolery at the inn, of your dealings with Hada and the investigation that followed. Throughout the telling he makes no attempt to interrupt or probe further, only occasionally squinting his eyes—sending flashes of bright energies through the tattoos that surround them—as if attempting to discern any falsehoods. At some point attendants bring food and drink out and lay them out on the table, but it has gone untouched so far. As your tale reaches the strange teleportation circle found in Dalayn’s chambers in the mayor’s mansion the magistrate motions for the group to pause, rubbing his chin thoughtfully with a gloved hand. The six of you take this brief opportunity to sate your hunger and quench your thirst, but eventually the magistrate once again focuses his gaze on each of you in turn. “Continue,” he says simply, and leans back to take in the next portion of your tale.

None of you have ever teleported before. At least, not like this. Darkness surrounds and consumes you and unseen claws reach through the skin and tear at your soul, ripping you apart piece by piece and then roughly reassembling you elsewhere. Just when each of you think you can take no more, that surely this must be the end of you, it ends. The claws withdraw and leave you whole again. The darkness, however, does not abate.

 

The party's tale picks up as they stumble about in a pitch black stone chamber. After some quick thinking Kalise is able to use her elemental magic to turn one of her arrows into a makeshift torch. Using the slight illumination offered by this torch the group was able to determine that they were definitely in some sort of underground complex, but the exit had been buried beneath centuries of cave-ins, meaning there was only one possible direction for them to head in. The direction the party found themselves heading in was also the source of some rather distressing noises, however, so the party moved forward with some trepidation, not wanting to stumble into something if they didn't have to.

As the party moved forward—after having Kalise produce a couple more makeshift torches—they eventually found themselves navigating a much more well-preserved hall. Their first discovery was a large stone door cut from stone from a far-off region of The Reaches. The party passed on attempting to open the door at the moment, however, and moved farther down the hall, finding a set of stairs that led deeper into the complex and a storage room just off from the main hall.

In this storage room, the party found a stash of supplies that had been placed in the room very recently. The supplies consisted of a variety of basic weapons and arrows and, more importantly, several large sacks full of black powder, that Harold recognized from his experience with firearms. Roy grabbed one of the swords scattered around for a little additional protection and the party collectively carried the hefty sacks away—taking care, of course, to keep them away from their torches.

At this point, the party eschewed descending deeper into the depths and instead doubled back to the locked door they had encountered earlier. Making quick work of the door's lock Ardeth ushered the party past the door, which revealed itself to be a large, circular chamber with murals depicting fanciful battles and other subjects adorning its walls. Most interestingly, however, was the large stone throne in the center of the room upon which rested a crowned skeleton wearing a simple silver ring. After determining that the ring was not of any particular value the party had Ael'srill attempt to commune with the skeleton using their abilities as a medium.

Rather than a spirit appearing before the party, as was expected, the skeleton itself began to shift and rise after Ael'srill's efforts. Perhaps hoping to stop this unsettling development before anything more could happen Harold immediately stepped forward and struck the skeleton with the sack of black powder he carried. However, this had the complete opposite effect. Rather than flying apart or crumbling to dust as one would expect from a pile of centuries-old bones, the skeleton's eyes erupted with a cold blue fire and its hand reached out and lifted Harold off the ground by the throat. The party made several attempts at forcing the skeleton—now properly revealed to be a lich—to release Harold that only ended in injury and embarrassment before Kalise stepped forward and attempted to barter with them.

The lich found this attempt amusing and with a little coaxing eventually released his hold on both Ardeth's sword and Harold's throat, deigning now to speak with the party. The lich was gruff and secretive but the party was able to learn a few facts from him. The lich revealed that the citadel they were currently in was ruled by the lich and that the lich's purpose was to keep something locked away—no more details on what exactly was locked away were forthcoming. They were also able to learn that the lich was not the legendary Prince Dalayn, nor were they the person depicted on the murals on the room's walls.

Before the party could get more information or extricate themselves from the situation the lich suddenly doubled over in effort and pain, the fires in their eyes becoming uneven and occasionally even burning out. The lich immediately demanded if the party was responsible for what was happening below, and when the party revealed that they had no idea what was going on elsewhere in the citadel the lich charged the group with stopping whoever was below from breaking the seal on whatever was imprisoned down there, lest they all die.

Not exactly being fans of dying painfully the party agreed to the lich's demands and hurriedly left the lich's throne chamber and descended into the depths of the citadel. Upon reaching the foot of the stairs the party found themselves at the mouth of several branching paths, down one of which they could hear the sounds they had been hearing off and on since they had arrived. This close to the source, however, the party was able to discern that there were two sounds coming from down the passage. One was the snarling and hissing that gave them pause, but the other was the panicked whimpering of a child. Wasting no time in devising a plan the party crept forward down the passage, eventually encountering a chamber filled with the tattered and bloody remains of clothing and the occasional bone, with a snarling creature at its center, obviously in the middle of devouring its latest meal. The creature was a twisted and feral chimera with the body of a wolf, the legs and claws of a lizard, and the head of a snake. The chimera's attacks were frenzied and the wounds were deep but thanks to Sylthana's healing abilities the group was successfully able to take it down.

With the chimera taken care of the party was now able to see that the source of the whimpers was a small goblin child who had hidden herself beneath a large burlap sack. While frightened the child took an immediate liking to the party and revealed herself to be named Ali and to be a resident of Valehallow—or Vayallow, as she put it—who had somehow fallen into the citadel and gotten lost. Taking the young child into their protective custody the party was determined to see her safely home and led her back to the beginning of the branching paths.

With three paths still remaining open to the party, with no indication as to which passage would lead to their goal the party split up to cover two of the passages, promising to regroup later. Sylthana, Kalise, and Ardeth found that their passage led to a stark white staircase that they seemed to make no progress in descending. And when they attempted to retrace their steps they found that they still could make no progress, they were trapped. Thanks to Kalise's magical knowledge the group was able to determine what kind of magic held them prisoner, and better yet, free themselves and reach the bottom. The small chamber the group of three encountered held only a single iron chest, locked by a mechanism similar to the door to the throne room above, which meant Ardeth was able to unlock it and open the chest easily. The chest held but a single sheet of parchment that held—in an ancient language known to Sylthana thanks to her studies as a cleric—a recipe for some sort of potato soup with the words "I found the real one, you're too late," scrawled across the bottom. Ali was excited at the prospect of eating some potato soup but the party was somewhat less enthused.

Down the other passage  Roy, Harold, and Ael'srill found a single chamber beyond a wooden door that at one time might have been sturdy but after such a long period of neglect shattered into splinters after a single kick from Harold. The room revealed itself to be a large bedchamber that at one time had probably been quite opulent that was still lit by some sort of strange magical candelabra above. The room held a variety of faded paintings on the walls and a single clear glass pane beyond which only a sheer stone wall could be seen. Ael'srill used their abilities as a spirit medium and was successfully able to summon the shadow of a spirit. This shadow was a young-looking man that seemed to be playing around with a crown set on his head and just, in general, acting pleased with himself. Not getting much in the way of answers from this Roy examined the room further and was able to find a mysterious switch behind one of the walls paintings that, when pushed, sent the magical candelabra spinning and blazing to life. After several moments of this the magical power seemed to coalesce into the pane of glass at the far end of the room. This glass then showed the party a series of images and sounds before abruptly stopping. These included: a birds-eye view of Valehallow; the lich from above in his throne chamber, still doubled over; and a chamber filled with a red haze, accompanied by mysterious chanting. Harold also found a small, shiny stone that he decided to take with him, perhaps he plans to start a rock collection?

At this point the two groups made their way back to the split in the paths and regrouped, sharing what little they had found. Having exhausted all other possibilities the party made their way down the final passage, eventually reaching a large chamber filled with cages large enough to fit a single person, all empty, and lit with a series of torches along its walls. Beyond this chamber, the group was able to see just the faintest hint of a red glow and a quiet murmur that some members of the party recognized as being the chanting they heard through the glass pane back in the mysterious bedroom. Realizing that whatever they were to face was just up ahead the party paused for a moment to prepare themselves…

END OF SESSION TWO
—TO BE CONTINUED

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