Athos: The Return

Session XVIII: Not My Best Moment
Chapter 18: Not My Best Moment

Excerpt from Simon Bloom’s scary ass drug trip

I’m sure I’ve mentioned before how much I disliked being trapped in the Labyrinth the first time. I didn’t think I would voluntarily and knowingly enter Hell, but I also never thought Nox would return or the Conclave would be destroyed before my eyes. At least I’ve been through the Labyrinth once. In terms of good things that have happened to me in the last few months fighting on familiar ground is a gift from Athos himself; though familiar ground would be a greater asset if I actually recognized any thing. I guess you can’t leave a place alone for a couple 1000 years without it up and changing on you. Here we are, in a room I’ve never been to, with four Death Giants and an illusion of the thought to be dead Sorcerer disguised as Nox. And to make matters worse, since absolutely awful just isn’t bad enough for us, the illusion is surrounded by this writhing black ooze and some sort of space-time dust.

The Death Giants we handled well enough. As a group we’ve become quite talented at taking them down. I wonder if Death Giants have started telling tales about us yet, maybe we have a name that strikes fear into young Death Giant hearts. Next Death Giant I meet I’ll ask; I could get us matching patches. As I was saying, the Death Giants cornered us once, but I got them out of our way. After that they started falling like massive flies that ingested too much Spirit Fuel. The illusion wasn’t even that worrisome. He was strong, sure, but not the most challenging part of the battle. The ooze was weak to fire, with the mention of Anatolius I think it’s obvious how long it lasted. The real thing that caught my interest and the other’s dismay was the dust.

As far as I can tell the dust is leftover material of a rift in space and time, most likely caused by magic. It “attacks” anything that enters its space and reacts violently to Arcana. This is a magic substance that I’ve never even heard of before, how could I not be drawn to it? My curiosity was too compelling, that and the Illusion that dragged me into it. It showed me visions of things that had happened recently; bits of information that could be vitally important to our mission. I was shown The Sorcerer taking energy from an Urn like the ones we’d seen before. I saw Nox opening a door to the conclave coming face to face with Vinsanthius (It was only a vision, but the tension was there). I saw Vondal digging a grave for Persia and three shadows stopping him in his tracks. A man with a staff beating down another man before taking the power of another Urn and darkness spread out from them, an image of Nox smacking a defeated golden dragon and taking an amulet from around its neck, and lastly the image of a bloody Vinsanthius declaring vengeance. Each vision dealt great damage, but I didn’t care. This dust, or maybe it was more like a powder, gave me what I desired, knowledge. Knowledge of events I could in no way have been a part of. What more could a 6000+ year old Wizard need.

The battle raged on around me, I know because I fired a few shots myself and every bit of magic I used lead me to another vision. I think once I escaped only to be drawn back in. At one point I think it showed me an image of the battle between Nox and Athos, this terrible drug already knew how to entice me. Eventually Anatolius pushed me out of the dust’s range; I was freed and could see what I had been doing. Unfortunately for him, he too saw a vision. Seven urns, two of which we had seen before, lined up in terms of shortest on the outside, the ones we had seen, to the tallest in the middle. Luckily the battle ended quickly from there and the dust disappeared. I can only assume that Oberon was healing me while I continued to destroy myself with these visions. I say this for one because I was still alive and he hated me just as much as he hates Anatolius when he takes a ton of damage. To put it simply I will be kissing up to Oberon for a while, lest I want to be taking on anymore Death Giants without a healer.

After we picked ourselves up, and by that I mean dragging my consciousness back to reality, we continued through this ever surprising hell hole. After a short, and surprisingly uneventful walk down some stairs we came across a room made entirely of gold. At the back of the room was an incredibly old man in a thrown with, shocker, two Death Giants by his sides. Now what was really interesting about this man was the amulet around his neck, exactly like the one from my vision with the dragon. I’ll spare the long trials and tribulations of our research from this excerpt and just tell you about what took us all of three seconds to find out, as per usual. The man was actually a Golden Dragon that could change shape named Golgorax, the amulet around his neck was actually a key to a gate behind him that lead to some supreme power that we know nothing about. Oh and the Sorcerer disguised as Nox was most likely on his way there now.
The next group of events involved an incredible ton of emotions, pride and stubbornness. Golgorax was willing to offer us information for us to leave. Somehow he thought we would be a greater evil with the power than the Sorcerer that already beat him to a pulp trying to get it. Uruhua tried to convince him otherwise, Anatolius was ready to blow his head off, Oberon was still mad at us, and I just wanted information. I could have learned about the labyrinth, about this new power, about Spirit Fuel of which we know next to nothing, and even about Nilma. At least I could have beaten it out of him if he didn’t openly tell me.

A lot of words were spoken, a lot of emotions were disregarded, and Anatolius even shot at the Dragon and Uruhua and I tried to jump in the way. I didn’t agree with Uruhua, I wanted to know what the Dragon knew; I had no illusions for his fellowship. Then Uruhua challenged him to a game, whoever won lived. Now I’ve been in a lot of battles, but I’ve never felt so close to death. My life wasn’t even on the line. In the end our Uruhua lived and Golgorax died. Along with him went the answers I desired. Sure we were given riddles to solve, but they did not give me what the dust had given me. They did not give me knowledge. There we were, having beaten something that could have been a God for all we knew, Champions in a room of gold in frightening opposition of each other. How can we beat Nox when we want to kill the sibling standing next to us?

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Session XVII: Into the Belly of the Beast
Chapter 17: Into the Belly of the Beast

Excerpted from the Journal of Oberon

I am a conflicted man. My brother, the Azure Inferno has seemingly become overcome with dangerous haste. Although we share the same goal of stopping our brother Nox, we have very different ways of attacking such problems. Needless to say, I was overwhelmed with regret and rage when he destroyed the ship of the cultists who had reluctantly agreed to help us. It was clear they were no danger to us, and Anatolius vanquished them anyway. He is truly soulless.

Once we reached Brimir, we were eager to get to the Labyrinth to pursue whoever had gone to pursue its secrets. Simon Bloom made arrangements with the local portsman to commission a ship for rental. My brother’s great bargaining strategies was able to get us a trusty ship for an affordable price. Accompanied by my siblings and our dragons, I boarded the ship to travel to the mysterious Labyrinth.

When we arrived at the island which contains the hidden location of the Labyrinth, we noticed another ship docked on the sand. It immediately became clear that we would not be alone. Once we landed, Simon Bloom assured us he would lead us through the secret passageway to the Labyrinth. Just as he promised, Simon led us through a strange medley of woods and caves until we came across the entrance to the extraplanar maze.

As we entered the Labyrinth, I was overcome by a very strong magical presence. This was a strange place; I had never felt anything like this before. As we navigated the rooms, it became obvious we were transcending the planes, even as we walked down the hallway. We came across a room with three large statues in the center. Worried about traps, we inspected the room, only to find that entering the room (by stepping on the tiles) would activate the statues in the center, three golems. I was able to grab my companions one by one and lead them to the first of the three exits to the room without stepping on the tiles. Once we reached the exit, we descended down the hallway, only to find an eerily similar room. In fact, after some inspection, we realized it was the exact same room from which we had just departed. Using the same strategy, I carried my companions to the second exit, where we found another hallway to descend down.

As soon as we entered the second room, regardless of whether or not I was flying, the floor began to disappear from the center. Frantically, we ran to the rightmost of the three exits in the room, making it to the hallway before the floor disappeared beneath us. When we entered the hallway, we stood face to face with another golem, this one already awake and ready to attack. We engaged the creature in combat, trying to be as hasty as possible, as the floor was still disappearing quickly beneath us. We quickly felled the massive construct, and inspected the growing darkness beneath us. We were relieved to discover that the floor was not actually disappearing, but we were only fooled by a clever illusion.

Unsurprisingly, we then came across a room that was identical to the one we had just exited. Like the last, we discovered that this was just the exact same room. The planes hold many surprises for us. We traveled to the center of the room, where the disappearing floor originated. Upon standing in the center, we came across a staircase, down which we descended further into the maze.

Down the stairs, we came across a room full of food. Having been fooled by poisonous or otherwise trapped food in the past, I was reluctant to try the food, although I was actually very hungry and it looked absolutely delicious. After much deliberation, Simon decided the food was safe enough to eat, and he partook in some of it. My other siblings and I decided that fulfilling our cravings wasn’t worth our lives, and we could survive off of trail rations for a few more days. We took the exit into the next room.

The next room, just as tempting as the last, was full of seemingly extremely comfortable beds. Although I had not slept well on the ship, and had not slept well in a long time, I was not tempted to stop here and open myself up to attack. We unanimously decided not to stay here, and moved on to the exit. The exit to the room was locked with some mysterious magic that I was unable to recognize. As we deliberated on how to proceed, my dear brother Anatolius was once again overcome by dangerous haste. He fired several blasts of fire at the door, hoping to knock down its magical shield. Instead, the door only deflected the attacks at him, wounding him and making him my responsibility once more. If he would only listen to the group, he would inflict on himself much less pain, and inflict on me much less trouble.

Simon was able to phase shift through the door, a much safer strategy, and was easily able to unlock the series of doors one by one, bringing us safely to the next room. The first thing we noticed about this room was the glass floor; we were suspended above a raging river of what seemed to be molten gold. We noticed two death titans staring us down, and between them, four coffins. As we entered the room, the titans came marching towards us, and out of the coffins came four mummies. We were easily able to defeat these creatures using my powerful radiant magic that I granted to my allies. After vanquishing the undead, we descended down what seemed to be an incredibly long hallway. My suspicions were confirmed as we seemed to march down the hallway infinitely. We traveled for what seemed like hours, marching for several miles before we came across what seemed like the end.

The next room we came across was by far the strangest. In the four corners stood four death titans, similar foes. We knew we could fell them without much trouble, but what stood in the center was the most frightening to us; it seemed to be our brother, Nox. However, it soon became clear that this man, surrounded by a mysterious tear in the fabric of town, and protected by a moat of a strange black tar-like substance, was not indeed Nox. In fact, he was not even a man. The impostor was an illusion of a powerful sorcerer, who is thought to be dead after attempting to imitate Nox and gain great power. We spoke to the illusion for a short time, trying to convince him to let us proceed undisturbed, but after we realized there was no hope in that, and we were confident in our combat abilities, we proceeded to attack the illusion and his minions.

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Session XVI: From Home
Chapter 16: From Home

Excerpted from the Journal of Anatolius

“I’m tired,” thought Anatolius.

Around him lay the bodies of ten men, hacked into pieces, reduced into the mulch they had lain in the field surrounding them. Anatolius heaved a great sigh, blood slowly rolling down the jet black scales of his armour, and glanced to his left. He fixed his glare on the huddled masses, quivering behind the frayed skirts of a haggard old crone.

“Oberon, check on our family, I’ve got to see a man about a key.”

Oberon gave Anatolius a suspicious glimpse and flew over to the cages. ‘Fine’, mused Anatolius. ‘kill them with kindness.’ He approached the women slowly, making himself to appear as harmless as a de-winged pixie. They cowered further and with each step forward the fear etched onto their face grew. ‘At least they know the proper reaction.’ Anatolius cleared his throat and began asking the women about the men, the island, and the cages. Of each he received little and for the first much less than desired. The crone, in her wisdom, had offered the key but still they feared to speak more than prepared speech. ’Something’s wrong here’ Anatolius realized. ‘But what.’

After a frustrating attempt at further information, Anatolius found himself unable to deal with the crowds. In an effort to show restraint, he turned to Oberon and requested he handle the situation whilst he unlocked the cages. A subtle mention by Oberon had Anatolius free the dragons first so that their demigod brethren would be unharmed should they be deceived. Luckily though, it was only a precaution and the doors freed them. Meanwhile, Oberon had discovered that below them was a complex of some sort, one which could free Simon Bloom from his stony prison. Immediately signs pointed to some deviant plot by Nox begun many years in the past. ‘He was so fond of them.’ Reunited again with Uruhua and Vondal, the party decided that we should all descend into the town’s inner sanctum. Anatolius ordered the dragons to stay above and descended headlong into the cave.

Once in the cave we saw how it morphed and slowly the walls began to be made of wood rather than dirt. The old woman prodded along, but I watched. Would that I watched more intently…

Once at its heart the Crone turned to us and said, “He (Referring to Simon Bloom) must remain with me while I attempt to revert his petrified state. I must have perfect concentrat-”

“Shhh, Did you hear that?” Anatolius paused the woman and held his finger up to make his command evident to his comrades. Faintly, in the distance, was a cry. A bead of sweat ran down Anatolius’ forehead and evaporated before it reached his brown. ‘Not now, not now’ he repeated in his head. Slowly the remnants of the Party shuffled down the hall which now resembled a storehouse as much as a shelter for times of war. Still, it seemed off and the party moved silently and with caution. ‘Not now, not now’.

At the source was a large door, sealed carefully. Anatolius looked to Oberon and then into the glaring eyes of Random, whose stare eclipsed Oberon’s tiny body. They appeared glazed with a sheen like new lacquerware. At once made exquisitely more beautiful and infinitely more sad. ‘Soon, my Brother, Soon. But for now you must remain.’ Part of Anatolius thought Random would enjoy the quiet. And there was the subtle irony that he would never be more stoned than he was now. For the first time in a long while, Anatolius smiled.

The door creaked open to reveal a crude laboratory. Tubes of glass lay across the floor while the walls were quilted in the texts of old books. In the Centre was a stone table with fresh blood on it. Then we saw her, Valenae, the Siren. Our Sister of High Elvish descent. Having disappeared for a long while it was strange to see her. In shock we asked of her memory but received nothing. It appeared that her memory had been tampered with. The thundering shock of the Conclave’s annihilation echoed above us. After examining Valenae we decided that she appeared to be truthful and took her with us. She seemed happy to leave, though why I don’t think she could remember.

We delved further in, returning to the Old woman. She took us to a side room and instructed us to wait and that she would return upon completion of the ritual. Looking back, we should have never let this happen. For hours we waited. After the second, Anatolius would wait no more and struck open the door. Though the room had changed. In place of the door was a shelf of alchemical items. On a table in the centre was Simon Bloom, examining the walls and paying no heed to his change of state. When he came to his senses he told us that he had seen Harker but then failed to say more and instead began searching the walls. I aided his search by destroying the walls, hoping to reveal some other door. Though Simon found it first. A latter lay behind one of the walls. Yet it led only to the room. Simon, paying no heed climbed and without explanation crossed the illusionary barrier of stone and ascended to the roof. We stood confused, unsure of his fate, until his head popped from the stone and said, “Well, what’re you just standing there for? Come on! Allons-y.” We ascended.

Above was a boathouse, though conspicuously boat-less. The village was abandoned. Their path was known to us. At the edge of the water we saw a ship in the distance, sailing fast. We returned to the dragons in order to give chase. Though it was at this crossroads that Vondal bowed his head and said he would not continue with us. We stood silently as he explained his cause. He had been made weak from captivity and remained in poor condition. This we had noted, but never did we think to lose him so suddenly. Though we knew it for the best. Vondal offered to search for the cure for Random and we were much obliged to him. We said our valedictions and with the grace of gods departed from our brothers, very much hoping it would not be the last.

Ahead the ship charged forward through high waves, made wild by the implosion of the Conclave. Like a gale we came upon them and boarded the ship. We threatened them with fire and death and yet they would not speak. Oberon and our sister Valenae were able to talk them down only for them to reveal the secret they tried so hard to hide. They were the godspawn of Nox. His own inbred line had spread to do his bidding. They were more slave than family and the men of the town, though strong showed signs of decay. But to Anatolius it made no matter. They were his nieces and nephews yet he bore them no love. So long as they lived Nox had servants to his bidding. The line of the Black Eclipse would continue, a hereditary mantle of inimical antithesis to all that he had fought to destroy. He had a plan, but he could not share it. His Brothers’ and sisters’ tacit acceptance was enough.

Having convinced them to take us on to the next port we sailed to Brimir and the home of the Sand Dwarves who lived along the coast. When we landed I enacted my plan. With the force of Nine Hells, Sapphire flames scorched the air and turned the ship into a pyre. Already out of the ship yard, two more conflagrations chased the first and began to devour the ship. The fire shone brighter than the rising sun, casting cooler shades of azure and purple over the city. Though His allies marked their disapproval, in their voices he heard their tacit ascent.

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Session XV : Rock Bottom
Chapter 15: Rock Bottom

" Random…? RANDOM!" Simon Bloom shouted as his brother slowly stopped moving, and his skin and armor turned to stone, and what was once a mighty fighter became a statue, trapped through the power of the Beholder. But unfortunately, this wasn’t the end. Only moments after, Simon Bloom felt the power of the eye upon him, and was powerless to stop it.

Despair. No word better describes the situation that Anatolius and Oberon had found themselves in. They had faced many evils, and stood side by side against insurmountable odds, but this seemed almost too bleak to push on. But gathering their strength as true Sons of Athos, they moved forward to revive their brothers, trapped in stone. Their only hope, onward into the center of the conflict, The Conclave itself.

Travelling the once majestic road into The Conclave, they found flames, and statues destroyed, systematically removed from the Pathway to The Conclave. One hundred and fifty statues once stood proud here, yet now only several remain in tact. Walking up the path, what remained of the party noticed that the only statues still standing were those of the Noxarii who had fallen during the War of Failed Succession, with some additions. Nekolaj‘s statue stood, with Spirit Fuel lined around his neck, and a large glob over his head, along with several splatters across his body. Uruhua’s statue stood half-standing, cut in half. A distinct discrepancy from all the others that were completely destroyed. In addition, Vinsanthius’ statue’s foot remained, with blood strewn across it. Noting this, they continued into the Conclave, seeking a place where they could heal their brothers hiding in their haversacks.

Their home had been destroyed, bodies lay strewn across the fields, most of them Shadar-Kai, but many Deva as well, and a select number of the Ogres seen before, but not a single demigod corpse was seen. Recalling their time there before, they found what had once been the alchemy storage for the demigods. Several Deva and even demigods had practiced there before, and they hoped to find what they needed to reanimate Simon and Random. Staying quiet and sneaking through the battle that raged onward nearby, they crept into the alchemy lab. Below, with his keen Pixie hearing, Oberon was able to detect a sound, some sort of voice below them. Quieting even their breath and even dimming Oberon’s natural luminescence, the Light and the Inferno moved forward to seek out this noise.

Climbing down the stairs of the lab, bits and pieces of several component jars were strewn about the room, and they noticed a figure in the center of the room, walking about and cursing about missing parts. Anatolius slowly crept behind her, and nimbly dodged a bottle tossed across the room in anger by the figure. He crept upon them, and stood behind with whispered words filled with strength, “Turn around.” The figure turned around, dropping everything in her hands. The demigod Persyia stood before them, with a strange device on her face and a look of horror in her eyes. Under threat by Anatolius, she stood there and tried to explain that she was merely trying to escape while everyone above in The Conclave fought and died.

“Why would you try to escape? You’re with him!” Anatolius accusingly doubted his sister’s story. “That was millennia ago, brother. We were children! You can’t possibly expect that I still stand behind what I did so long ago. Things change, and so do people.” After inspecting her, Oberon and Anatolius concluded that she was indeed telling the truth, and put trust in her. “We need to fix Random and Simon. Where can we find the components for the ritual to Remove Affliction?” Oberon, ever looking out for his brothers asked. “Unless you have some training that I’m unaware of, none of us here has the skill to cure an affliction like that. We need to get out, now. I’ve almost finished a device I’ve been working on for the past month now, a device to teleport me off this island. All I’m missing is a source of energy.” With a nod to one another, Oberon stayed with Persyia to help finish the machine, and Anatolius set off to seek enough Spirit Fuel to fill a vial Persyia had provided.

Stepping out into the chaos above, Anatolius sought a nearby fallen Ogre, and cut his veins open to drain some of the energy into the vial. Slowly and carefully he worked, trying his best to remain silent, but a Shadar-Kai spotted him, and came running at him. This one seemed to be much more powerful than the Shadar-Kai they had defeated outside the Conclave’s walls. His body gleaned with spirit fuel, and even his weapon seemed to be enchanted with the power. “Where is The Labyrinth? Where is he?” The Shadar-Kai screamed at him, but before Anatolius could silence the foe, a Deva’s shimmering blade impaled the enemy from behind. The Deva looked down at Anatolius, one of the children of his creator, and only spoke a single word to him. “Run.” And the Deva sprinted back into the fray.

Anatolius then took this time to see what a second look over of the statues would bring. He discovered that each statue had been destroyed by the same blade, and with a single strike on each. In addition, at the rubble of his own statue, a small bit of spit filled with Spirit Fuel was left. He put this into the vial and pondered slightly over the foot remaining at Visanthius’ statue and the half of Uruhua that still stood, but soon the battle at the Conclave seemed to great to wait, and he headed back.

Rushing into the alchemy lab, a huge explosion from across the Conclave blasted through the top of the building, destroying it only moments behind Anatolius. As he made it to the second floor, he momentarily forgot there was a third floor and almost lost hope. But he quickly remembered and met Oberon and Persyia on the deepest floor of the basement. The machine was ready, but as Persyia began to pour the fuel in, a sound of footsteps came from above, rushing downwards. Quickly Anatolius went through and was teleported away. Oberon stepped in next, and as he was flickering away, he could see a figure’s silhouette behind Persyia.

From the island nearest The Conclave, the two demigods reconvened, with no trace of their sister behind them. Looking out at the island that had been their home, they saw only devastation. A flicker of purple light flashed behind them, and a corpse fell to the floor. Running to their injured sister, Oberon attempted to heal her, but found no pulse…and no heart. Carved into her back, were the words, “A fitting death for one who betrayed me.” Oberon and Anatolius quickly decided their only choice was to move forward, and try to find Uruhua and Vondal and the dragons. Moving through the woods, they came upon a small village where they saw their companions in chains and caged.

“What is the meaning of this?” Anatolius stormed out, furious that someone would dare to capture a demigod. A man stepped forward from the villagers and spoke, “She is one of the Noxarii, and she killed twelve of my men! These great beasts landed on our island carrying a plague of rats, nearly twenty Gnomes, and we had no choice but to execute them before they began to take up food supply. When she saw this, she went into a mad rage and began striking at us, we had no choice but to restrain her.” Something in his eyes was wrong, and after a few moments they were able to discern that there was something rather odd about these villagers, and they began a conflict, one that Oberon and Anatolius feared might be their last. The valiantly fought off the villagers who referred to one another as ‘brother’ and shouted things such as ‘For Nox! For our father!’ But ultimately, they were no match for the two demigods before them.

And now they stand in a village filled with dead fighters and several women who have not yet spoke, five dragons and two demigods in cages, two demigods petrified, a destroyed home in the distance, and naught but questions.

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Session XIV : The Frustrating Life of a Statue
Chapter 14: The Frustrating Life of a Statue

Excerpt from Simon Bloom’s Journal in the midst of a bad trend

So where did we leave off last? Hmmm, The Conclave was burning down, our boat was destroyed, some force field is over the entire island, and we were fighting some ogres fused with Spirit Fuel. Oh wait we already dealt with those fuckers. Right, that’s what happened. The ogres kicked our butts, but we kicked them harder. Anatolius “interrogated” the last Shadar-Kai. I put that in quotations because there is a fine line between interrogation and torture, one that Anatolius either can’t see or chooses to ignore it. Thanks to some magical intuition by the greatest Wizard around; actually who was that again, anyway, we found out that the Shadar-Kai were all bred incredibly quickly through Spirit Fuel.

We asked the only surviving guard what he knew. Apparently there were no towns left on the island. The only thing left was to head towards the Conclave. Unfortunately this lead us toward a group of and King Beholders, or some crazy shit like that, fighting a struggling group of Deva. As soon as we entered a fight all of the Rakshasa transformed into Deva. As if the situation wasn’t difficult enough! The fight raged on for a century, or at least it felt like one. I swear I spent less time in The Library than I did in this battle. We were able to take out all of the Rakshasa, if I recall I took most of them out. That reminds me, I’m the best Wizard around! This was only after they had killed all of the Deva though. One didn’t even get to live like the guard from our last battle. I don’t like the trend we’re heading in; each time we fight we lose one less survivor. It’s only a matter of time before we start to lose one of our group and at the rate we’re wasting our strongest powers that just might happen sooner than we expect. It doesn’t matter that much to me, I won’t be dying, just hope my party follows suit.

Now I’m going to tell you about these Beholders. These fuckers attacked me just before I attacked them every time! Then they would attack me again, and attack everyone else. They fucked our shit. I mean critically fucked with our shit. And that’s when Random became petrified. Now all us Demigods have been in bad scraps before, but it wasn’t till Random became a literal monument to what could go wrong that I thought we could actually die. But that was just a moment, and the next we went full force against these fucking monsters. We beat them down, and they beat us back, so we beat them some more! As eloquent as I made that out to be, it was a tough battle. Seriously. When we were down to one Beholder left, that’s when things got fucked up for me. To make things simple I will explain all that happened to me in 3 words: I was petrified. I really didn’t like the trend we were heading in. Just like Random, I became a living monument to how things could worse after what could go wrong already happened.

I can only assume that the rest of the party beat that final fucker, and by that I mean Anatolius beat it and Oberon saved his ass more times than I could count in a lifetime of being petrified. Can I even count when I’m petrified? 1, 2, 3…whatever. I’m stuck here now and it’s starting to piss me off. Somebody better come fix me, and I can only pray to Athos that it’s not Anatolius or Oberon. They probably can’t perform the ritual to save their own lives.

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Session XIII: The True Power of Spirit Fuel
Chapter 13: The True Power of Spirit

in the voice of Oberon, Light of Athos

After swimming to dry land, my brothers and I came upon a small village on the coast of the sacred island. Inhabited by normal men, this village was an example of mortal life on the island before these dreadful attacks came. From behind the iron bars of a huge entrance gate, we could see the horror: buildings falling, villagers burning, and minions of evil wreaking havoc. Along with standard-fare Shadar-Kai cronies, we noticed something odd: ogres. These ogres, however, were unlike any ogres I have seen in my thousands of years on this earth. These hulking examples of monsters clearly had bright blue Spirit Fuel pulsating through their veins.

The spirit fuel seemed to be channeled through four small pillars, planted into the ground. These pillars emanated blue light, and it was clear that the ogres were drawing power through them. A small militia group emerged from the town, most of them trying to make a break for it and escape the burning village, mostly to no success. They were squashed by the powerful ogres almost effortlessly. Our brother Anatolius snuck in through a destroyed portion of the wall, and went to attack immediately. I snuck through the grate and tried to formulate a sneaky attack as well, while our brother Simon flew to the top of a building to build his labyrinth on the battlefield. We quickly realized that the Ogres were a force to be reckoned with while they were empowered with the spirit fuel. They broke through our defenses and deflected our attacks with ease as they drew power from the pillars. It seemed that whenever we would harm the ogres, they could just draw more spirit fuel and become well again. Needless to say, the plan of attack immediately became to destroy the pillars.

After much battling, and the help of one living militia member, we destroyed one pillar, leaving the surrounding ogres defenseless. While we were unable to stop some of the ogres from getting closer to another pillar, and smite them quite quickly. At some point in the battle, Simon noticed a small crystal in the back of one of the ogres’ heads. Upon striking (and shattering) the crystal, we noticed the ogre became disconnected from his power source, rendering him helpless to our attacks. Some ogres picked up and moved the pillars, making it much harder for us to reach them and destroy them in an efficient matter. As many of them ganged up on my brother Random and I, I decided it was time to pull out the big guns. I pacified many of my enemies, completely diminishing their will to attack, or making their attacks much less effective. This bought us much more time to destroy the pillars which empowered the foul creatures.

Once we took out the pillars, the true strength of the ogres was revealed. Without their mighty spirit fuel, they were pushovers to our mighty powers, and were slain quite quickly. We managed to take down the whole enemy front in the village, killing all the intruders, but keeping one Shadar-Kai warrior alive for questioning. Without hesitation, we interrogated him for information on the attack.

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Session XII: Fall of Gods
Chapter 12: Fall of Gods

Excerpted from the Journal of Anatolius

When the War of Gods ended, we chose seclusion. Laws and rights would keep us safe from undue harm and we would agree to leave the mortal races of our father to their own destinies. So we built a fortress, at the ends of the world, for us to call home. Some stayed and walked its marble halls or sat looking over the white cliffs to the port down below. Others, bleeding from battle or simply uninterested, chose their own domains. Yet their quarters would remain to them, always awaiting their return. A palace built for gods, The Conclave contains treasures beyond count from the 7000 years of known history. The Grand Archives, deep within the cliffs, are the greatest bastion of knowledge the universe had ever known. The fortress itself, built to withstand both time and space. So how had this happened?

Against the rising sun, our home burned. The shores of Faestrom were engulfed in battle. Ships lay smashed in their harbour, homes immolated, and, behind it all, the last glory of a bygone era crumbled. As the gnomish ship approached the island, I began to consider retreat. Beyond this shore would be death, for all of us. Though my brothers, never lacking for courage, forced us on, into the gaping maw of the dawn. Oberon, The Light of Athos, looking out onto the battle, saw one of our siblings signal to us, though we did not quite understand. Tepidly, I ordered the crew to halt 500 feet from shore, though too late.

The ship splintered and gave way against a great wall, stretching into the sky. The wall shot out violent sparks of red and blue but would not yield to the ship. The force of the impact sent three into the water after striking hard against the wall before them. As the ship slipped under the waves, I quickly ordered our brothers Vondal Kildrak, The Shield of Athos, still weak from Sysitar, and Uruhua, The Heartbleeder with the remaining crew upon our dragons to a nearby island as we would continue from this point. When they were finally off we turned to the wall. Invisible now it seemed eerily absent where shortly before it had seemed so present. Simon Bloom, The Labyrinth observed the wall, concluding that although it stretched nearly infinitely into the air it did not breach the water level so swimming under it would be easy. What it was, he could not say. I suspected this wall was one of The Conclave’s defenses, kept secret all these years. This would not surprise me. Secrets and The Conclave were no strangers after all. They’re far too friendly. The Archives of the Conclave held more than just books and art…

Though before we could cross over, a giant purple wyrm, endowed with Spirit Fuel, burst from the sea, roaring while its teeth danced like razors around its mouth. Once set upon we jumped into action. Focusing on the beast, we struck it with great force. From behind the wreckage we were surprised when an identical beast sprouted from the ocean and set upon our party. Though, nearly immediately we noticed that something was off. Wyrms this size were diggers, not swimmers. The great leviathans of the deep could swim but their wyrm cousins were made for the ground. As we fought it became evident that the spirit fuel from within had been used to modify their genetics in order to create a universally-subterranean monstrosity. While we battled the first wyrm, the second took me from behind and, in my hour of need, swallowed me. As I slid through the beast’s throat I empowered myself and burst from the monster’s stomach in a burst of azure flame. The mighty onslaught of Random, The Wanderer and the others had begun to weaken the first wyrm and soon after it fell from the lasting wounds of the illusionary daggers slicing at the monster. We quickly turned our gaze on the second and, never once in fear of death, eliminated the second wyrm deftly. The second wyrm fell identically to the first after devastating hits brought the creature to death, only to be felled by the fatigue of the ever constant daggers digging into its flesh.

Once the enemies were finished off the party swam under the wall and reached the shore, just away from the battle. Atop a small overhanging ledge we rested briefly to survey the area. Below our brothers, Deva, and militia from the town of Faestrom fought with the enemy, attempting to push them into the sea and away from the port. The enemy were not only Shadar-Kai soldiers but also great hulking beasts. These abominations bled energy. Spirit Fuel

They charged through their foes as if cutting through butter and smashed through walls like a fist through paper. As I contemplated a strategy, the sun struck my face and the warm invisible flames washed over my skin. Anatolius, they challenged, whose fire shall burn brighter this day?

Reinvigorated, our party looked over the edge. Into abyss. Into chaos. Into fire and death. Yet all the while we looked, without fear, into the beginnings of a new day. And for that, we all took solace.

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Session XI : The Fallen Palace
Chapter 11: The Fallen Palace

The Urn of Annihilation blasted out an incredible burst of energy, destroying all of the castle directly above it. Even with just a cursory glance, Simon Bloom, The Labyrinth was able to quickly discern that the Urn’s great purpose had been completed, and that a great siege weapon was bring created within the Urn. Warning his siblings of the oncoming explosion, the party grabbed their things and their brother Vondal Kildrak, and ran. Meeting with their sister Uruhua at the top of the steps, she informed them that she had held back a swarm of undead attempting to enter the gates at the entrance to the chamber. Forcing their way over the corpses, they ran up the castle to escape.

Step by step, the party felt the growing danger of the Urn. Rushing up the stairs, Anatolius glimpsed a cracking wall, and burst through it to find the castle’s old treasury. Ignoring his grab for treasure, the remainder of the party continued onward and upwards, and Anatolius quickly caught up with them after briefly filling his bag with gold and grabbing a helm he felt would suit his needs. Finishing his run up the stairs, Anatolius fired an Eldritch blast through the main door, and the party rushed through the hole it created.

Once outside, they came to realize that the black fog that had been covering the city was gone, risen into the sky where the energy from the Urn was converging. High above the sky, even the clouds were being absorbed into a ball of energy. Terrified of the oncoming destruction, the party rushed to hide behind an ancient temple to Athos. Peeking out from the door, Simon was able to see the completion of the siege weapon high in the sky, where it was instantly teleported far away, and the Urn below the palace exploded. Shards of the palace flew across the skyline, and after a few moments stopped. The party stopped to gain back their breath, and discussed what to do next.

Realizing that the key to open the dragon’s collars was still on Nekolaj‘s body, the party decided they needed to search for it. Able to sense its general direction, Random led them to where he best thought it would be. As they walked to the key’s location, the black fog that had left the city slowly began to rise again, already reaching a few inches above the ground. Searching desperately through the ruins, the party was able to finally find what remained of the key…but the key was chipped, missing a piece of the teeth. Accepting that this was the best they could find given the circumstances, the demigods took what remained of the key and ran, leaving Naxos in their wake. They left the Bone Reef behind them, and returned to where they had left their dragon companions.

However, when they returned their dragon allies were no longer there. Cursing them for leaving, Anatolius suggested that they leave them, and attempt to leave the island of Sysitar as soon as possible. The party decided instead to spend at least some effort looking for them, and were barely able to trace dragon footprints leading to a nearby cave. Arriving at the cave, to their delight they found their dragons. Controlling his anger at them for leaving, Anatolius asked them why they had left, and the dragons informed them that they had waited for several months, and expected that the demigods had been killed. Recalling the effect that the last Urn had on time, Oberon reminded his siblings and they gathered to discuss how to deal with the dragons, considering they did not have the proper key.

Through some magical skill, the broken key, and a set of lockpicks, the party was able to free several of the dragons. However, Bidon, the white dragon, was killed accidentally by a slight miscalculation made by Simon Bloom. The collar triggered, and the dragon’s entire neck was removed from its body. This resulted in despair by all of the dragons, and resulted in Vondal vomiting all over himself, disturbed by the sudden death of such a clearly benevolent creature. But finally, the dragons were freed. In exchange for freeing them, the dragons offered a hundred years of service to the demigods, so long as any task they asked of them would not result in harming on another. With their dragon companions freed, they discussed the best method of leaving the island of Sysitar. Asking the dragons to fly them off proved to be fruitless, however, as they had not nearly enough strength to fly such a distance. Although removing the collars allowed them to once again gain the ability to leave the island, the dragons had still been stifled from growth, and it would take some time before they would be able to fly such a great distance. The party then decided that their best option would be to find a port and attempt to take a ship back to The Conclave.

Returning by dragon flight to a nearby port, they found a pleasant surprise. The gnomes that they had freed after rescuing Random seemed to have been smarter than they anticipated. They had taken over a Shadar-Kai camp, and freed all of the gnomes held captive there. With their Gnome allies, they had begun and nearly completed a ship to leave the island. When the Gnomes recognized the demigods, they thanked them profusely for their assistance in freeing them, and offered them leave on their boat. The Shadar-Kai slave that the demigods had given them was still there, working diligently for the Gnomes, even without his tongue. Once the ship was completed, the demigods strapped the Shadar-Kai slaver to the front of the boat, and as they left the island his collar activated, and severed his head from his body. With their dragons aboard below, and a gnome ship with them, they left to return to The Conclave and to inform their brethren of what had occurred.

But merely a few miles from returning, they saw the home of the demigods in shambles, with flames rising high above the island. And with the knowledge of the destruction of their home, Season One came to an end.

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Session X : Lost Minds
Chapter 10: Lost Minds

The Party entered the chamber at the bottom of the Palace at Naxos, searching for the source of the Spirit Fuel that they could sense from the moment they stepped again onto the haunted island. As they entered the chamber, the putrid stink of the corpses surrounding them filled their nostrils with stink. The room, dimly lit, showed hundreds of bodies lying on the floor. But what they saw in the center of the chamber was something that none of them expected.

Suspended from chains on each of his limbs that connected to four stone statues and held over an eighty foot hole above the Urn of Annihilation, was Vondal Kildrak, The Shield of Athos. A quick sense of the situation allowed Simon Bloom to sense that Vondal’s life energy was being drained from him to fuel the urn. By studying the strength of the chains, the party was able to discern that the links were nearly indestructible, and that a change in weight by more than even a few pounds would cause all of the links to disintegrate, leaving Vondal to fall into the heart of the Urn below him.

Moving as silently as they could, the party crept forward, and Oberon flew to his brother Vondal’s side, landing on him and curing him briefly of his wounds. As soon as he came to consciousness, Vondal cursed his brothers and sister, warning them of the incoming danger. “Fly, you fools!” he shouted. But before they had a chance to do anything, Oberon was blasted off of the demigod’s chest, and a voice spoke to them from the back of the chamber.

A snide giggle, followed by a psychotic laugh, a shadowy figure stepped out of the shadows in the back of the chamber. Although they expected their brother Nox, their demigod brother Nekolaj stepped forward instead. He had been believed dead for the past six millenia, yet stood before them with grotesque stitching across his neck where his head was once removed. “This one’s mine.” A flash of blue energy rose across Nekolaj’s face, and he grew a more serious manner. By studying his actions, the party was able to determine that his mind was being held together by Spirit Fuel, keeping him from dropping out of bouts of insanity. Nekolaj and the party had a bout of words, with the party gaining information about the Urn of Annihilation as well as how Nekolaj was able to survive.

Tired of playing games with their insane brother, Anatolius, The Azure Inferno surged forward to free his brother, but his leg was snagged by one of the corpses on the floor, beginning to rise. He summoned his imp, asking it to perform a task for him and to intimidate his brother. Laughing, Nekolaj shouted, “I can do that too!” and with a similar flick of his wrist, summoned another undead pixie Demilich. He rose his hands, and the corpses began to rise from the floor, forcing the party into the most dangerous battle they had yet to lay eyes on.

Their brother Nekolaj’s insanity turned out to be more than just in his mind, for he had the ability to send out his mind’s weakness to control others. He attempted but failed several times to force the party to rush off the edge into the the Urn. The party was able to narrowly save Vondal by intentionally destroying one of the statues, and then through Oberon’s power granting Vondal the ability to fly before he fell to his death inside the Urn. But that alone did not save him, as on several occasions Nekolaj’s insanity grabbed hold of Vondal’s mind and attempted to rush him into the center of the hole, but Vondal’s deeper instinct kept him from falling prey to his own death. The demilich that Nekolaj summoned was no weak creature on its own, and harried the party up until the moment that it was devoured by its summoner in order to regenerate health.

While controlled by the mind of Nekolaj, Vondal was sent to another plane by Oberon in order to regain health in the middle of the fight. But by luck, Vondal was able to rid himself of the controlling mind while outside of his world, effectively leaving the monstrosity that is Nekolaj’s mind unable to return. This proved to be a crucial move in the defeat of Nekolaj.

After learning the secret to destroying Nekolaj’s zombie minions was light, Oberon dispatched them one by one, and then the entire party turned to battle their lost brother. Using the new strength he had gained, Random grew to four times his normal size, and used his increased reach to wreck havoc in the battle. Sensing him eminent doom, and without his mind, Nekolaj rushed down the staircase in an attempt to reach the urn at the bottom of the floor. Jumping down and landing nimbly, Anatolius waited for his brother to arrive, growing steadily weaker at the hands of the painful undead energy that the Urn emitted. When Nekolaj finally reached the bottom floor, pursued by the party, he was stuck and delayed by Anatolius, but able to push him back and thrust himself upon the Urn. This seemed to activate some sort of destruction of the Urn, and as it absorbed Nekolaj, it grew to be even more powerful and lash energy out at the party. With a lucky strike, Random was able to teleport their brother into the Urn, dropping him in and causing a destruction of the Urn. The Urn lashed a huge blast of continuous energy out of the top, blasting a hole through all of the castle above it and into the sky. Sensing the imminent explosion, the party ran.

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Session IX : The Palace at Naxos
Chapter 9: The Palace at Naxos

Excerpt from “Random: An Autobiography”

…and that’s when she said, “But Random, seven times in one night? I’m starting to get tired!” Oh sorry, wrong notebook.

After our short rest in the palace bedchamber, our party decided to head down towards what Simon Bloom discerned to be the source of the dark energy, perhaps another Urn similar to the Urn of Power, but definitely a source of Spirit Fuel. We headed downwards into the castle, towards the power source. It’s a dirty job, but somebody’s got to do it.

The castle was dark, but compared to the black fog that covers the city, regular darkness was a welcome sight. We traveled down into the dungeons of the castle, slowly moving our way through so as to avoid making ourselves known. Arriving at the door to the dungeons, however, we ran into quite the dilemma. A certain member of the party happened to have zero common sense, and opened an obviously trapped door, sounding the alarm throughout the castle. We hurried to barricade the door behind us, while Anatolius and Oberon attempted to find a way to turn off the alarm. The castle cells had no way to cease the alarm, but they did manage to warn the party of some oncoming skeletal assassins as well as a dark mist that we later learned was the ghost of a beholder.

The battle against the creatures was not too difficult, as Simon Bloom was able to labyrinth the beholder out of the battle, and we picked off the skeletons one by one. But by the time we were finished, we were forced to head deeper into the dungeons before our barricade fell to the oncoming horde of alerted undead guards. Rushing down the hallways, Anatolius was able to destroy the alarm, but once again set off another alarm on the next door that we came to. Finally, we arrived at the largest door of all, clearly leading us to the source of the Spirit Fuel that we were tracing. Some clever maneuvering allowed us to pass the door without opening the trapdoor beneath us, and we entered the chamber where our brother Vondal was being held.

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