Athos: The Return

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.

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