Athos: The Return

Session 0 : The Call To Arms

The year is 6046 in the Second Age, and The Realm of Athos is at peace. For over a thousand years the demigods have lived in harmony with one another. During the most recent meeting at The Conclave, nearly every demigod was present, yet there was nearly nothing to discuss that had happened in the past ten years. While combat is still a regular regiment of the Regulators, only several outside of the group keep their blades sharp. While the wars of old are not forgotten, the wounds have been healed, and many now spend their time in peaceful hobbies, or in building their fortune.

At the most recent convergence of The Conclave in the year 6040 of the Second Age, the demigod Warren, leader of The Regulators, brought to attention that although we are in times of peace, we must stay vigilant to threats. He discussed the possibility of brooding evil, such as the sorcerer who mimicked Nox of old. While most paid him no heed, he mentioned rumors of a strengthening of the creatures on The Frozen Coast, and reports of Ice Titans who have grown to twice their normal size. The people of the coast are well known to be superstitious, and many of their cries have been nothing but a call for attention by The Conclave. Because of this, very few of the demigods gave Warren’s call any heed.

Six years after the most recent convergence of The Conclave, the fourth emergency meeting has been called to be held on the First of Kroocturn. The demigod Warren, and his companion Rakaris left for The Frozen Coast over six years ago. As head of The Regulators, Warren has never gone more than three months without a report to The Conclave. Even while on The Frozen Coast, the demigod has always been punctual in his reports. A period of six years has passed since his last message when he arrived at the Coast.

The Conclave has found this to be a strange enough occurrence to call an emergency convergence. Warren was often considered to be one of the most skilled in combat among all the demigods, and spent hours daily to train his mind against mental attacks. If he has been harmed, the powers he discussed may be true, and much mightier than he believed.

The fourth emergency convergence of The Conclave has been called, will you answer the call?

Session I : The Adventure Begins
Chapter 1: The Adventure Begins

As Accounted by Vondal Kildrak, Fourty-Fourth Child of Athos and The Shield of Athos

The Fourth Emergency Meeting of The Conclave was called in the year 6046 with Elander, Plauge-Bearer and Araris, Wordsmith presiding…

The session was called because two of the demigod brethren, Warren, Keeper of the peace, head of the Regulators and Rakaris, The Sly Blade, had gone unheard from. Their last known place of contact is on The Frozen Coast at the town of Titan’s Drop. After a vote decision by The Conclave it was decided that five demigods would be chosen by choice or lot to go and investigate. The party assembled consisted of Simon Bloom, Oberon, Anatolius, Vondal, and Uruhua.

The group set off by merchant ship after some debate, to Three Rivers en route to Titan’s Drop.

En route the Merchant Ship was assailed by a Kraken. The party valiantly defended the merchant ship and the Kraken fled. As it fled the demigods attempted to catch it, but the Kraken proved quite elusive was able to out-manuever the ship to escape. The journey took a total of eight days, with the Kraken’s attack occurring on the fourth day.

Arriving in the Port of Three Rivers, the party received free mounts from the grateful Merchant Captain. Anatolius decided to sell his mount to the town’s Horse Merchant as he had brought an enchanted horse for himself. As the party looked over their new mounts the Merchant Captain spoke on behalf of the demigods to the townsfolk, praising their combat prowess against the Kraken.

The town’s Inn Keeper, a human named Bardis, requested the demigods’ help with slaying a horde of goblins who resided to the South West of Three Rivers. Following the Tears of Athos River, the party came to the Goblin Camp. In a stunning display of tactical prowess the demigods slaughtered the goblin ‘menace’. During this slaughter an unknown Ranger appeared. This Ranger turned out to be Harker of Family Bloom, Great Great Grandson of Simon Bloom, The Labyrinth. Harker joined the party with his mighty mystical steed and the party returned to Three Rivers. The town was alive and welcomed the demigods with all they had. There were two grand feasts to celebrate the heroes, celebrated in both the evening and the next morning. The demigods’ party then rode out of Three Rivers as conquering heroes on their way to Titan’s Drop.

The journey took two days with the heroes riding through the night.

Arriving at Titan’s Drop, the party approached The Dancing Dragon Inn. The day was in its twilight hours and bulged with customers. Upon entering the party noticed a veritable horde of young adventurers who all were out to find Warren and Rakaris in hopes of a grand reward. The Party decided to warn the adventurers of the great danger which accompanied the journey to find these demigods. The party took great care to stress that they, the demigods, did not wish the mortals to lose their lives, but they would not stop them ifin they so chose to forge ahead. There were a few hecklers and some peanut gallery type comments. But after a grand show of fiery force by Anatolius some of the adventurers left and the remainder went upstairs to their rooms. The Party was given two rooms which had been vacated by some adventurers upon seeing Anatolius’ power.

The party laid down to rest in the inn and thus Session I was ended…

Session II : A Restless Night
Chapter 2: A Restless Night

Upon laying down to rest in The Dancing Dragon Inn in the town of Titan’s Drop, the party found themselves quite unlucky. They awoke to a crash outside, and a look out the window showed them that before the sun had risen, the town was being attacked. Rushing into their battle armor, the party clamored to fight.

Jumping out the window and rushing into battle, Anatolius, Oberon, and Simon Bloom began their battle with the attacking ice giants. Their brother Vondal Kildrak chose rather to rush down the stairs and attempt to rescue the adventurers inside. After a few great rounds of battle, Uruhua woke from her slumber, and joined in the battle. Oberon was successfully able to keep many of the creatures out of the battle by silencing his foes. The party slowly but gradually was able to wear down the giants, but not without losing many of the young adventures in the process.

Upon defeating the attackers, the party briefly interrogated the last living adventurer before leaving for the mountains, and the holdfast The Foot, where they hoped to warn House Redtoe of the incoming frost titans. However, upon their arrival they found that the holdfast had been destroyed, and only a single dying solider survived. Oberon was able to revive him, and they learned that the entire holdfast had been attack by titans, and everything from The Helix to the deepest underground chambers had been sacked. Anatolius commanded the solider to warn Lethe of the incoming frost giants, and the wounded solider walked off into the snow in order to warn the capitol of Elysium.

After resting in the ruins of The Foot, the party followed a strong necrotic presence to a cave in The Elysian Mountains. Upon nearing this cave, the party began to tread upon the dead bodies of small creatures, such as rats and birds. Once walking closer to the cave, Harker’s horse Xarn felt he could no longer bear the evil presence, and went to Lethe bearing a message. He warned his master to stay safe with the assistance of translation by the Pixie Oberon, and left for the capitol. The party then entered the cave, and felt the strong presence slowly washing over them and weakening them. After a period,Simon Bloom felt this evil was too great, and sent his descendant Harker back, asking him to wait for them for an hour and then to return to Lethe with Xarn.

The party ventured further into the cave, opening an enchanted door with Anatolius’ skeleton key. The party then descended deeper into the cave, in hopes of finding their lost brothers.

Session III: The Chains that Bind
Chapter 3: The Chains that Bind

The 23rd Night of the 7th Cycle of the Year 6046 in the Second Age
From The Travellogue of Anatolius, The Azure Inferno

I know not if this be the day for which I have written. In this cave time feels… distorted. We’ve gone on for hours through fields of bones and rotten flesh. When we came to a great door at the end I used the Key of A Thousand Locks to break the barrier. Then, a great burst fell upon us and I tasted death on my tongue as I felt my lifeforce, and those of my companions, were wrenched forward as if away from us. If our mortal companion Harker were here he would have dropped to the ground and turned to dust from the strength of it.

Luckily he was not. But we were. Yet we had come here to know. And know we would. As we entered the chamber beyond the door a strange gas leaked from the panels beneath he floor. As I smelled the sour smog and turned my face from the sting I saw our Shield and Heart fall to the ground and a great wall fell behind us. In an instant we were trapped with two unconscious comrades, lain low by the gas known as Illusion of Death. Yet we were left no time to despair. We were given an unwelcome and unwanted, yet not unneeded, surprise.

Before the wall had totally collapsed, it would seem, someone wandered into the room. From further behind us in the tunnel and with a whistle on his breath, I heard him. When we saw, we knew it to be our brother Random, The Wanderer, and the 101st Son of Athos. After exchanging words with Random over what turned out to be Anti-Necrotic Necklaces hanging from the Frost Giants (including the ones we felled from the town before), we noticed that we were not in an empty chamber as we had thought.

In the Centre of the room was a great statue, covered in queer chains. To his sides were others like him, but without the decoration of the Adamantine links. Though they were not completely statues. They glowed with life, awaiting the entry of an enemy so that they could coat the walls of their master in deep crimson. We knew what had to be done and, putting our fallen allies aside, we charged into the enemy in order to reach the door further ahead, to more horrors beyond, I found it safe to presume.

After a difficult struggle, we proceeded past our defeated enemies to the door ahead, dragging with us the unconscious Vondal Kildrak, The Shield of Athos, and Uruhua, The Heartbleeder. When we opened it we saw another great room, filled with brilliant effigies of every great mineral, stone, and gem found within The Realm of Athos. Also in the room were two very familiar faces. Rakaris lay face down in a circle of runes with chains reaching deep into his arms, so deep that they tugged at his organs. The chains looped back into a Shimmering Urn. In it contained both life and death. Such was pure chaos for it was both the power to grow and create, as well as the power of the siphon and destruction. From the Urn the chains ran into the hands of the second face looming just beside a large stone altar. Warren.

In an instant we realized that all of this was wrong. The effigies before us, were of our Dear Brother, Nox. And this death energy in the air felt familiar, as if from a long gone experience lost in the recesses of my memories. Steadily we approached and, Oberon, The Light of Athos, with a face made straight and hard as well forged steel, with might spoke:

“Who has done this to you?” And Warren looked up and responded.
“I know not. We have been here for a few months. Please help me, I feel I cannot hold him much longer.”

Yet I saw that his tongue deceived him. He was lying to us. Would that saw more…

On the ground lay Rakaris, near death from having suffered much pain. His eyes were filled with deep blue and he struggled to speak as I attempted to rouse him from he void. Though I truly wished him dead, I had no choice but to help him for we could not trust Warren and I thought another ally would be of chief concern. When I saw he could not be removed from his chains without risking death we came together and spoke amongst ourselves as a party. The statues seemed of interest and I spoke to the one of Gold, as was my skill, and asked it what had happened in the room.

It spoke to me as if it were our brother Nox, proclaiming his triumphant return. Thus, it was confirmed, these were not truly statues either. Then Warren, again pleading for reprise spoke, interrupting my discussion with Simon Bloom, The Labyrinth. In a fiery rage I shouted for his silence. When I turned back to Simon I was instead granted a shrill laugh. And then I finally saw what had been denied to me before, the root of the queerness of the situation.

This was not the laugh of Warren, The Keeper of the Peace, rather, it belonged to Rakaris, The Sly Daggers. We were deceived by some sort of soul trans-mitigation magic. But how we did it is of minor concern. The Noxarii scum has betrayed us and made war upon all his siblings. He will be defeated here and now, where his crimes will be used to bury him in The Elysian Mountains until the end of time.

Session IV : Dear Brother
Chapter 4: Dear Brother

Standing in the cold, dark chamber, Uruhua was shocked back awake by the pure evil of the room. Its necrotic energies sickened her mind, forcing her to convulse in pain. Her brother Random stood by the side of the still collapsed Vondal, trying desperately to wake the unconscious demigod. As the brave demigods stood in the dark and unholy chamber, their brother Rakaris began an unholy prayer. While the party could not understand his Supernal speak, they were able to make out the words, “…I, Rakaris…sacrifice Warren…Nox.” And as he spoke his unholy words, the Urn of Power behind him began to draw in deep the remaining life force of Warren, and animated the statues Nox. From these statues then emerged spirits of elemental power, attacking the party, but also protecting Rakaris.

As they fought the spirits gallantly, Rakaris drew in more and more power from his brother, growing larger and larger by the minute. But soon the power overwhelmed him, and his skin began to burst beneath the growing muscles, turning the once mighty demigod into a vile and unholy abomination. He stepped forward and absorbed the remaining life force of Warren, and as the last of the statues fell, engaged the party in combat.

Laying dark necrotic and poison energy throughout the chamber, Rakaris fought off his brothers and sister. But even in his newly enhanced state, Rakaris was no match for the combined might of so many demigods. At the very end, after a harsh battle, Anatolius, The Azure Inferno thrust his sword through the malformed torso of Rakaris, turning the monstrous body once again into the body of Warren. His last words whispered at his brothers were,“I didn’t know” and he fell for the rest of time.

But the evil had not been dissuaded, and the Urn of Power continued to emanate stolen life force. Anatolius in a rage, charged directly at the Urn in an attempt to destroy it. His flaming blade rammed into the Urn, but bounced off and the dark force released a blast of energy throughout the room. It pushed even the strongest of the demigods back, and dazed even the most steadfast. Their attempts to hide were crushed as the Urn released a second wave, knocking the party unconscious.

After unknown hours of being passed out, the party awoke and felt pure energy surging within them, enhancing their powers to be even stronger than they had been before. The room was dark and their brothers Random and Vondal had gone missing, lost while they laid unconscious. The destroyed statues yielded thousands of gold worth of gems, and the party quickly increased their riches. But before they could spend too much time inspecting the chamber, it began to collapse around them. Anatolius removed the head from the body of Warren and they left the cave through a hidden tunnel beneath where the Urn had stood. They raced down the spiral staircase, and eventually found leaking energy similar to that from the Urn. Finally, they came to an upward heading tunnel, and ran out, chased by an incredibly large purple worm. They were narrowly able to escape, with the cave collapsing behind them.

After a few minutes of wandering through The Elysian Mountains, the most unlikely of the demigods arrived, riding a golden dragon through the skies, with a silver dragon at his side. Nox, Nemesis landed beside his brother, in more glory than they had ever seen him before. Simon Bloom, The Labyrinth attempted to scan his power level. His goggles were crushed as he realized how mighty his brother had become. Nox began to speak to his siblings, telling them very little of his newfound might.

However, Simon Bloom was able to weasel out information from his long lost brother. He learned that Nox had been wandering the Earth gaining power, and may have a plan to destroy the gates of heaven. He mentioned that there are several Urns similar to the Urn of Power destroyed only moments ago by the party. He also told them that they had been gone in the cave for over four months, while it felt like only days to the party.

Uruhua seemed to be the only one of the party not immediately filled with disgust when seeing Nox. She attempted to speak to him with reason, but was quickly shut down by her fellows, headed by Anatolius demanding that she choose either the party, or Nox. But before she could truly make a choice, Anatolius rushed towards Nox, blade drawn in an attempt to destroy him. Nox was far too nimble, and he flew quickly into the sky and told his second dragon, Silvara, to destroy his brothers and sister.

Filled with their new, phenomenal power, even the mighty dragon Silvara was unable to stand before them, and she fell to the mighty demigods. Nox came down and laughed at the party’s job, and spoke with Simon Bloom as Uruhua and Anatolius bickered over old allegiances. While he thought they were unawares, Nox thrust some of his new energy into his palms, and forced it into the body of the recently dead Silvara, making her rise as an undead monstrosity and fight the party once more. He then flew off into the sky, telling his siblings, “Tell father I say hello.”

The party was able to defeat the undead dragon however, and began to head to the city of Lethe. Anatolius and Uruhua stood behind, and had a great dispute over the proper handling of Nox now that he has returned. Eventually, they landed on a Soul Contract, with Uruhua’s soul in the balance. And they joined the party to head to Lethe, with the cold wind on their back, and new power coursing through their veins.

Session V: Returns and Demise
Chapter 5: Returns and Demise

A retelling from the thoughts of Simon Bloom, The Labyrinth

Lethe, what can I say about Lethe? Well I can say it was nice to see something not ruined. What with Titan’s Drop destroyed by the Frost Giants, The Foot wrecked, that fucking cave and the farms outside of Lethe, I can’t very well say that I was distraught at the sight of the city. It was upsetting to see the palm of The Church of Athos Dominus everywhere though. Anatolius was able to come up with a quick lie to get us into the city. With a few words we became merchants. Supposedly Lethe is a beautiful city with complex architecture and bright nights; too bad Athos Dominus took control and spoiled the fun for everyone. They’re not big fans of children of Athos like myself, so it seems only fair that I’m not a big fan of theirs either. Their soldiers, sigil, and cages practically covered Lethe. I guess now that I think about it the city was just as ruined as everything else.

Of course Anatolius set out to find the best inn in Lethe, and as extravagant as that sounds I can’t complain; we could all have used a night of comfort. Oh wait, did I say comfort? I meant another night of adventuring only this time we were in a city surrounded by an army of soldiers that would try to kill us just hearing our names. Sorry for my frustration, but it wasn’t an hour after entering the “finest inn in Lethe,” aptly renamed ‘The Eyes of Athos,’ (The ??? Lizard Inn was somewhat of the original name) that we discovered Lethe’s king was killed, the city was being unjustly ruled by Luxuria Steelfoot, Archknight of Elysium, from the very inn that we were staying, Harker was being held captive in one of the cages hanging by some temple and that Uruhua, who is still untrustworthy in my book, set up some pointless meeting with the innkeeper behind our backs. I know that’s a lot of information to blow through, but we found out all of this so fast I am not sure in what order everything came.

We got ourselves a room and then split to get more information. Anatolius went to the shipping yard and, from what he told us, Harker had a crew there waiting for him to get uncaught. Normally I would question their inability to save their captain, but under the circumstances, Luxuria being the circumstances, I can’t fault them. I, on the other hand, tried to get some information from a couple of Athos Dominus guards. Gave them the old silver tongue, Anatolius would have been proud I think. Unfortunately I didn’t get too much information, so I had a few drinks as I waited for my brother. A funny thing happened too, right after Anatolius walked into the inn, so did Luxuria Steeltoe along with a blindfolded girl, dressed in gold, and a female archbishop (Not that I care much about The Church of Athos Dominus or their customs, but I’m sure their archbishops are usually male.) Camouflage is nature’s craftiest trick, [I do not claim ownership to this line] thanks to it we were able to avoid notice.

Then we waited till nightfall. We came up with a plan to save Harker and waited. I never did mind the waiting too much. I enjoy the suspense. Sunset came and went and there was nothing left to wait for. Anatolius left first, but before the rest of us could get out of our room he was stopped by some guards. In reality we should have realized there would be a curfew. It turned out better than expected though; Anatolius spat out some bullshit at the guards and kept himself out of trouble as Uruhua used the distraction to go speak with the innkeeper. Oberon and I went out the window with Anatolius quickly behind us. Uruhua had her talk and gave a rather convincing impression of an imbecile slave. We didn’t learn much from what we already knew, but it was helpful knowing for sure that the Frost Giants brought not only destruction, but an army of The Church of Athos Dominus.

I realized something on this night; we should stop planning things ahead of time. As it turned out Anatolius’s plan was to scare the guards watching Harker with an illusion of a dragon. As fun as that would be, I had to inform him about the idea of “calling for help.” So we came up with a plan on the spot that involved an invisible Uruhua, a half thought-out distraction and a sneaky Anatolius. It almost worked, the only hitch was a squeaky hinge. The guard that did not completely fall for the distraction caught him. Now I remember this part precisely:

“HEY! The prisoner is escaping!” –The Guard
“It’s okay I have him. He tried to get out of the cage, but I got him. I could use some help though, I’m a little drunk.” –Anatolius
“Oh, good job, don’t worry you can handle him, he’s weak.” –The Guard who then proceeded to turn his back to them.

One of these days Anatolius won’t be able to talk himself out of a problem; I just hope I’m not there when that happens. Of course the other gnome prisoners wanted to be rescued too. There was no way that I was going to waste time with more baggage, and thankfully neither was Anatolius. When they started screaming, Anatolius killed them, but the guards were already onto us. The next part was simple. We ran. I was worried that Uruhua would be too upset with the gnomes’ deaths to follow us. Though worried isn’t exactly the right word, she caught up with us anyway. I do not want to talk about the amount of wrong turns we took so I’ll skip to the end. We made it to Harker’s ship, we set sail, and I stopped the army chasing us with a wall of ice on the port. Just as we narrowly made our escape I saw Luxuria Steelfoot, the blind girl, and the archbishop give off the same blue energy that Nox had shown us before. They used it to melt my wall. I don’t care what the rest of the group thinks, but I will be there when those three die. They imprisoned Harker and broke through my wall; they are my enemies on all accounts.

After the escape, what do you think we did? Of course sleep came first, but the next day we planned again. I won’t tell you all of our plans or our disagreements, that would be pointless. What matters is the action we took. We met with my crew and ship, The Unicorn, in Thrashkar. It was nice to see them after so long. That ship was my home and I missed it, but it wasn’t long before we were off again to The Conclave. The plan was to see what information we could get from our siblings, meet the Unicorn in Grashnak, split with Harker and finally head for Sysitar. On our way I did some experimenting. If the urn increased our power then we should be able to release its energy just like Nox. So I practiced honing in on it and eventually, it didn’t take very long, I was able to release what little of the power I had. A blue spark jumped across my hands and with it came a surge of energy. It was like the life force of several creatures flowing through me. I’ve named the energy Spirit Fuel. I was never one for naming things, but I’m going to stick with this until I have a more technical understanding of it.

The Conclave went as expected. They didn’t fully believe our story, we showed a little theatrics, such as Warren’s head, and eventually convinced them of our honesty blah blah blah. We spent several days there and all we achieved was worrying 20 or so of our siblings and pissing off an already angry mirror. We were able to make a compass out of the Spirit Fuel that I could release. It could direct us to other sources of that particular energy. It lead us to Sysitar, which we already planned on visiting next. All in all, our little stop at The Conclave was a little pointless. Some would disagree. Good for them.

We met up with the Unicorn and wished Harker goodbye, Anatolius wanted him to go increase our manpower or something. I really wasn’t paying attention enough to be sure. Sysitar was all that was on my mind.

The way we talked it seemed like getting to Sysitar would be simple. It was not in our plan to be attacked, but our plans have never seemed to work out. Our old friend the Kraken, named Ryallah, met up with us. This time it changed colors. Nox supplied it with some Spirit Fuel. Before it was easy, but it ran away. We shouldn’t have let it. The fight wasn’t overly intense or difficult, and then Ryallah grabbed my ship and flew into the air. The ridiculousness of the situation did not change how dire it was. It didn’t take long for Ryallah to be fine with its height and drop the Unicorn. It dropped my ship and with it, my entire crew. Only five of us survived the fall, the demigods and Ryallah. The rest of my crew died on impact or drowned shortly after. My home, my family, my whole life was taken away from me by a creature I could have killed before. What do I do with my life now…

Uruhua killed the fucker, for that I owe her, but of course that wasn’t the end of the tribulations. The closer we got to Sysitar the stronger the water became along with the storm above us. After getting struck by lightning once and almost being overtaken by waves flowing away from Sysitar an insurmountable amount of times I made it to land. The others didn’t have as easy a time as I did though. The storm was massive. Lighting so large that Frost Giants looked small, skies so black that I wonder how we could see anything and water so strong that Ryallah may have drowned from it. Thanks to the help of Oberon, Anatolius was able to make it to shore. It’s no surprise that the Azure Inferno does not work well in water. He was like a drowned cat. Maybe in the future I can laugh about it. Now my only thought is of Nox. With my entire life taken from me, what do I have left, but to hunt him down?

Session VI: Descent Into Darkness
Chapter 6: Descent Into Darkness

As retold by Oberon, The Light of Athos, The Light of Athos

After a confrontation with a rather unsavory Sea Beast, my companions and I headed about a mile inland to find a safe place to camp for the night. Since the island of Sysitar has seemingly become even more volatile and unsafe recently, we decided to divide up “night watch” responsibilities for the night ahead of us. After my brothers Anatolius and Simon returned from their watches with nothing to report, I headed out to watch over the camp. I heard a rustling in the leaves, but I was able to determine that the passersby were unaware of our presence. After two hours of steady watch, I relinquished my duties to my dear sister, Uruhua, and returned to sleep.

Strangely, I woke up on my own accord, after what felt like longer than two hours. After waking my companions up and briefly looking around the camp, we were unable to find our sister, Uruhua. Through my superior tracking abilities, I was able to discover tracks that I recognized to be those of my sister, heading directly south. Strangely, they seemed to disappear after just a few feet. We headed south in hopes of catching up with her.

After a few hours of travel, we recognized new tracks in the ground, those of a cart. Alongside the cart tracks were several sets of small footprints in the dirt, recognizable as Gnome tracks. Among the Gnome tracks were just one set of regular tracks. We hypothesized: is this a procession of slavers and their property? Is it possible they are holding Uruhua captive? We followed the tracks in hopes of answers.

After more marching, we came across a clearing in the forest. In the distance, we caught sight of what we expected: two Shadar-Kai slavers, commanding four chained Gnomes, pulling along a cart. It was what was in the cart that surprised us: a hydra, who was seemingly cooperating with the Shadar-Kai. As the Gnomes marched, one of them stuck out, leaving footprints proportionate to those of a large man. Simon inspected the Gnome more closely, and was able to determine that it was actually our brother, Random, in a clever disguise. After revealing ourselves to him, he let up his disguise, and revealed that he was never wearing the chains that seemed to imprison him in his clever disguised state. We engaged the slavers and their beast in combat.

We were able to topple the Shadar-Kai relatively quickly, as they didn’t put up much of a fight. We left them alive, merely knocking them unconscious, in order to gain information after the battle. The hydra, however, took a little more effort. As my companions, namely Anatolius, the Azure Inferno, landed formidable blows on the monster, knocking off its many heads, one by one, the heads seemed to grow right back, by twos. Soon enough, we were fighting a five-headed beast. However, even with five heads, the creature was still no match for the power of the demigods.

After the great battle, we bound the hands and legs of the Shadar-Kai and prepared to interrogate them. A short chat with Random revealed that our brother Vondal was captured by Nox’s forces, and taken somewhere unbeknownst to him. We awoke both Shadar-Kai to begin the interrogation, lead by Anatolius. To make an example, Anatolius swiftly killed one of the Shadar-Kai, which allowed us to more easily get answers from the other. After a short interrogation, we learned that our brother Vondal had been taken to the city of Naxos, in order to undergo the same ritual that took our brothers Warren and Rakaris. The Shadar-Kai also heard that they had supposedly captured a second demigod (Uruhua, we assumed) and were taking her to Naxos to complete the ritual. We knew that we had to advance quickly in order to prevent this from occurring. After removing the chain shackles from the Gnomes (complicated shackles which required picking, dispelling, and a keyword to unlock), we shackled up the Shadar-Kai, and ordered him to bring the Gnomes to safety.

The party continued towards the Vaestra, in order to obtain whatever great power was repelling Nox’s forces from the castle. We figured this would be the only way to defeat him and regain the freedom of our siblings. We soon came across two more Shadar-Kai, and six dragons, which they were keeping as prisoners. We quickly felled the Shadar-Kai, and conversed with the dragons. They wore neck shackles much like those of the Gnomes we saw earlier. However, we were able to find a key for these shackles, and were only able to clumsily remove one with a skeleton key. To fiddle with the others was dangerous, as the shackles, when tampered with, are wired to remove the heads of whomever they imprison. When shackled, the dragons were unable to use their breath weapons to defend themselves, rendering them defenseless on the cruel continent of Sysitar. We promised the dragons their freedom if they would assist us in reaching the Vaestra.

Anatolius sent his imp ahead to search for an outpost for Nox’s forces. We figured that an outpost near the Vaestra would probably have the key to the dragons’ shackles. The imp returned the next morning, telling us of a small outpost just an hour south. We headed to the outpost in search of the key, or anything that would help us earn the freedom of our brother and sister. We arrived at the outpost to find a familiar sight: Gnomes, pulling a cart, accompanied by Shadar-Kai slavers. On the cart, however, was a large steel crate. Also accompanying the Slavers was a small red dragon, in shackles similar to those we saw previously. Much like the last Shadar-Kai, we felled these before they could utter a cry for help. Anatolius, searching the bodies of the slavers, found a large key. Excited to use it, he approached the dragon, promising him freedom. He put the key in the shackles triumphantly. What followed was unexpected, by Anatolius at least. The shackles activated their defense mechanism, removing the head of the baby dragon, and chuckles from the other demigods. There, Anatolius earned himself his new nickname: The Dragonslayer. The key, as it turns out, was to the metal crate, which we opened to reveal our captured sister, Uruhua, much to our relief. After a brief scolding for leaving the campgrounds during watch, we proceeded on our journey to the Vaestra.

We returned to the dragons with the unfortunate news that we were unable to find the key to their shackles, but would keep searching in order to gain their freedom. The dragons agreed to take us to the Vaestra, in hopes that we would be able to gain their freedom there. After a quick fly, we arrived at the floating castle, and were faced with a powerful dark energy. For some reason, my siblings and I experienced a powerful slowing effect, severely limiting our movement while we were in the castle. The entrance and atrium were littered with bodies of Shadar-Kai, clearly designed to detract intruders from entering the ancient castle. We were not fazed. Through our superior dungeoneering skills, we were able to discern trap doorways from true ones, and navigate through the castle without much issue. Along the way, we encountered a powerful dust that seemed to warp the very fabric of time, and was very painful to pass through. However, through the power of my light magic, the party was able to pass through mostly unscathed.

Eventually, we entered a room and were surprised to find the first living things other than ourselves that we had seen in the castle: A death titan, accompanied by two giants. The titan was clearly surprised to find that we had made it this far without facing an uncomfortable death. After explaining our mission, the Titans were unimpressed by our divine standing and refused to let us pass. So, once again, in the name of Athos, we were forced to do battle.

Session VII: When Simon Bloom Killed Two Immortal Cats
Chapter 7: When Simon Bloom Killed Two Immortal Cats

Excerpt from the terrible “joke book” of Simon Bloom

The Vaestra is a place that many adventurers have dreamt of exploring, but most have nightmares about it. They should too; it’s a dangerous and frightening place. Unfortunately out of all the things that transpired during our time in Sysitar, the Vaestra is the adventure I remember the least. It’s not that it wasn’t important everything else just stands out more in my memory. Anyway, I remember fighting the Death Titan, so I will start there.

Now fighting any ol’ Titan sounds like spitting in the face of danger as it is, but when you put “Death” in its name everything seems pretty certain. You would have to be godly in some way if you expect to get out alive…which we are, so no problems there. Now this Death Titan was not alone, he had a couple of giants on his side. I think they were death giants too. Each of them had a couple of these dark crystals floating around them too, and after no more than a second of thought I realized they each had a soul of some vanquished enemy. These guys were deadly is the point I’m making here. The fact that we defeated them does not undermine this point. They even had some little anti-Oberon on their side. Seriously! It was some shadowy pixie that went around cursing us and helping the death monsters. Look, just don’t go into the Vaestra unless you can take on a kid of Athos at least.

After we defeated those badies, I sniffed out the origin point of anti-Oberon. It was just behind a brick, if you believe that. Anatolius smashed it. The king inside the Vaestra then “beckoned” us down to his thrown. Normally I would tell other adventurers about how bad of an idea it would be to do what the creepy disembodied voice tells you to do, but it was why we came to the Vaestra in the first place. Plus my worst ideas usually end up being the most fun. This throne room held some pretty interesting surprises. There were a couple of demons just standing by a statue of an eagle, not to forget the two Rakshasa who can’t be killed without a Rathakarian Blade. Fortunately for us there just happened to be the Rathakarian Blade, Nexian was its name, right in front of the eagle statue. It was like when the giant hell demon tells you the exact words that will send him back to the horrific fire land from which it came right before it decides to kill the nearest village. Am I right?

The real interesting piece in this fun house was the man sitting on the throne though. Anthian Relnax was his name. As my memory serves, he was some king in Sysitar before it all went to shit. That was over 6000 years ago. This guy was the same age as us. History is fucked. Apparently he put some Ultrodeamon into his body that has been keeping him alive for all this time. What mortals won’t do for eternal life, right? He and I had a nice palaver for a few minutes; you know just two acquaintances catching up after 6000 years. Unfortunately we had both changed a lot over the years and couldn’t see eye to eye. I’m sure you can figure out the rest at this point. We played “cleric,” he showed us his horns, we showed him our swords. We killed, Oberon healed; same old, same old. The fun part of this fight though…I got to use Nexian first! I killed both Rakshasa after we beat them to a pulp. I would have let Anatolius kill one of them if he asked for the blade nicely. My brother’s pride will one day get the better of him, but I was glad to have the opportunity to use Nexian while I had the chance.

So, we killed the monsters in the Vaestra, got the Rathakarian Blade and some other treasures, and were ready to leave the floating castle and head to the Bone Reaf, our entrance to Naxos. Before we headed out though, Anatolius did a nice thing and declared Oberon the true king of the Vaestra. It’s nice to think that some of us might have a life to live after this Nox situation. It gives us a reason to move on, even if we might not make it till then.

Session VIII: The Dead and Dying
Chapter 8: The Dead and Dying

Excerpt from “Random: An Autobiography”

…and that’s how I single-handedly defeated Nox and saved not only the world, but our universe as we know it. Oh sorry, I was just thinking about my future report on saving the world. Now where were we…

Ah yes, the Vaestra. So as we left our old friend Relnax, the castle’s dark power was reduced, and Anatolius used his big mouth to bring our dragon friends back to us, and I rode Gorbash back down to the ground, and we further discussed our plans. The Bone Reef seemed our best bet, and we made camp and rested. Our night was uneventful, and our dragon companions brought us to the edge of the Bone Reef, and we said our goodbyes for the time being, and headed into the Bone Reef.

I’ve seen death before, but bones on this scale… ridiculous. I’d forgotten the horror that came to Naxos, but the bodies of the long dead brought images fresh back into my mind. Fathers burying their children, mothers with corpse babies in their arms. And all the bodies left here to rot, the Bone Reef is an awful place. Unsurprisingly, after a few hours trek, the bones ceased to be restless, and awoke to attack us. A monstrosity that Simon Bloom recognized as a Desecration rose from the ground, and the bones swirled against us, with a bone storm rising from the ground midway through the battle. We were successful in the fight, and shortly after arrived at the blackness that now surrounds Naxos.

Demigods have seen a lot. But this blackness is something that none of us have ever encountered before. Oberon attempted to ‘light of Athos’ his way through the blackness, but his sunrod was ineffective against the darkness, and only provided a few feet of light. Bloom was only slightly more successful, able to conjure a light that gave us a slightly better ability to see. And thusly armed, we stepped into the blackness.

The darkness immediately took its toll on us, infecting everyone with some level of Hellfever, a painful disease that is as bothersome as it is rare. But this was the least of our problems, for as we entered Naxos, it was as if the Bone Reef were alive. Only moments after entering the city proper, the bodies rose from the dirt and surrounded us. We fought our was slowly but steadily through them, with our sister Uruhua leading the way. After a slow and painful fight through them, we found a passageway that lead to Naxos’ palace. We ran through the passage, and opened a secret door into one of the palace bedchambers. After such a long fight, we took a short rest before heading down deeper into the castle. I only hope our thick-headed brother Vondal is alright. Didn’t he know he should’ve stayed with us for longer?

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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