Fall of the Warlock Kings

And it's over

Sadly, this game didn’t have what it took to survive. Specifically, it was a 4th Edition game, and none of us, as it turned out, really liked 4th Ed much for anything but combat. So we stopped the game. It’s over now.

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The Wrong Choice?
In which they destroy the faith of a temple

Continuing in the catacombs beneath Destiny’s guest house, they confront shifting demons with fierce necrotic attacks, but defeat them without too much difficulty. The next chamber is a small space with mirrors on the wall, though, and from the mirrors climb duplicates of the heroes, who attack them, and if killed, harm those they mimic. Shattered mirrors form into glassine monsters who slice up all those who approach them, and the chamber is a perilous one to fight through. But they pass by with effort, and come to the final chamber, where a large scale holds two seemingly equal weights. If they are not equal, no one can discern the difference. They debate for a time what to do, but then Xerkos decides that Urgar should shoot one of the weights off the scale and see what happens. The shot is made, some gears clank, and horror is unleashed in Destiny’s temple, with much of it collapsing and much death and mayhem. They switch the weights and part of the temple collapses further, suggesting a hidden chamber under the base of the temple, but it is buried in the rubble of the fall. So there is nothing left to do, as the acolytes and devotees decalre their faith has failed and they must bow to the Vicar, but leave the city. The captain of the ship has a cargo of weapons that the kobolds serving Cruelty would pay well for; it is decided, based on the newer members of the group’s objections, that this isn’t a good idea, and they should instead just sail for Viir as they had planned, though they now know no ship has sailed from that port yet in the season, and thus something strange is occurring there.

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The Sylean Oracle
In which they are the subject of Destiny's attentions, for good or ill

They sail to Sylea, arriving at the port to see that several persons have been sacrificed in the ancient fashion, hung in cages over the sea, to propitiate the Sea King, who must be angry at the death of his daughter. As they dock, they are identified as mainly divines, and told that Destiny wishes them to serve Her, that an oracle has been fortold that the next divines to dock at the port must be brought to the temple of Destiny. They are taken there, and told that Destiny’s priests, long ago, set aside something for times of trouble, times like now, and that the oracle has revealed that the divines must fetch it. They will be rewarded if they do. They are taken to a guesthouse, and seek their own inspiration about what should be done, which eventually convinces them to help Destiny’s temple. The secret lies in catacombs under the guest house itself, and has sadly fallen to darker powers over the intervening centuries, they are told, and they enter and explore, finding a chamber with demons that spew corrosive blood, who they defeat handily and then ready themselves to move deeper inward.

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Death of a Goddess
Some back and forth results in more than one bad end

The King, disagreeable the next morning that nothing has been done, is persuaded that it was all part of a ploy. He is convinced to allow him death to be faked, and talks to the priests to summon a storm. This storm working, the characters return to the catacomb, and there convince the Vicar that the King is dead. He fills the gem with his power, and wisely the characters do not touch it. But they take it to the King, who also does not dare touch it, and is afraid to visit the Sea King’s Daughter, his wife, for fear of how old he will have become. So the characters are sent instead, bearing their treasure, and they meet, briefly, the Goddess, who indicates that she is more than willing to accept a gift from her husband, but not from them. Evil sea beasts attack, and after it is over, they flee back to shore. They tell the King of the message, and he insists that they come with him to the island. Once there, he is killed, and she takes up the gem, falling at once back into the water, as if something grim has happened. Haltar dives in after her, in fish form, and in the depths of the sea encounters various Avatars, all of whom, innocent and bit dumb, are easily convinved to try to help what Haltar assumes is the Sea King’s Daughter, a white glowing cocoon of energy. Each touches it, causing it to compact around the form inside. Meanwhile, on land, shining energy beams down at the palace where the Vicar is, intense and devestating, but growing weaker by jumps. At last, it fades, just as under the sea, the cocoon resolves into something not quite human, and definitely not the Goddess. Haltar never surfaces. The others rally the Osprey as it passes, and they make for further ports in the face of terrible weather.

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Into the Catacomb
Diamonds aren't a Warlock's best friend

The following morning, the King sees the party and gives them his banner to carry into the catacombs where the Warlock King is kept under watch. They go, and are warned that the servants assigned inside often do not want to leave, though the guards seem relatively normal. Various locked doors are opened and then locked behind them, and then they are in chambers filled with mumbling servants, undead, traps, and apprentice Warlocks, all of whom seem hostile. Fights ensue, and eventually they find their way to the Warlock King, encircled by starlight underground. He is obviously a little disturbed, and when the messenger Finn presents his message tube, he is destroyed by the Warlock King’s power. It appears that the banner actually keeps the Warlock King from striking out at those behind it, and so the party can negotiate with him. He turns down the diamond, dropping it at his feet, and asks the party to kill the elf king for him, because then, he insists, everything will be different. It appears that before the new king is chosen, there will be a moment of weakness, which the party thinks might also overcome the Warlock King himself when his patron surges at him. But the Warlock King assures them this is not the case, and asks again for them to kill the king. They refuse. A trade of the diamond, kicked out by the Vicar, for the banner, destroyed by his magic, is made, and the party retreats, somewhat surprised to not have been destroyed.

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On to Lucent
The conspiracy is revealed, and no one really cares

As they returned to the docks, they could see the Osprey was already out to sea – barely – with a mob on the docks and more in amongst the few buildings. The group among the buildings came to confront them, headed by a starbreed male, but most of them were bullied off as they approached. The starbreed demanded the power that Grouse was carrying, and then, of course, a fight ensued. The breed transformed into Celestial energy and summoned various motes to defend itself, while trying to kill the party, who felled the few remaining minions and then defeated the ‘breed. About its neck was a diamond necklace embued with magical energy that seemed to be cursed. The mob on the docks was bullied out of the way in short order, and the ship returned to shore. Xerkos went to speak with the captain, while Grouse questioned the messenger, Finn, and both came up with interested details, that, combined with a couple followup interviews, led to a story. Finn had brought a message from the Great King to Lucent, but had been unable to pass through Wildwood, so had sought a ship, first (impossibly) in Viir, then (just too belatedly) in Kydon Kail, and at last, in Dorian Tal. They had heard about the change of owners of the Osprey, had slipped on board (the fate of the former captain is unknown, but presumed grim) and faked out both crew and new owners. They sought to take what the party assumed was one of the gems to the Warlock King in Lucent, and as this didn’t, in the end and with some divine questioning, seem too outlandish, they agreed to let the matter stand, with Miri softening up the captain to be absolutely sure of him, while Grouse and Xerkos intimidated the messenger to obtain much the same result, less pleasantly it must be admitted. On arriving in the Sea of Storms, they were met by a fine ship out of Lucent, who wished them a fair voyage and gave them a blessing that seemed to have made that wish into the truth. Lucent itself is a fair city, with a young and handsome elven king who will, of course, be disposed of the moment he is not longer young or handsome. He has imprisoned the Warlock King for some months now, since that figure started acting a bit strangely, and was willing to permit the message to be delivered so long as he was then able to take the gem and present it to his wife, the Sea King’s Daughter, as a gift. He is, it seems, perhaps on the very edge of losing her favor, and sensibly enough, is desperate to keep it.

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Visiting the Astronomer
Much is revealed

Grouse, working with the sailors, overhears some of them mentioning that the new captain isn’t so bad, and the characters wonder what exactly was meant by that, but events move along before they can decide what to do. The City of Night was meant to be the next destination port, and in time a settlement hove to over the horizon, a small rabble of structures around a couple of long docks. The ship made for port and was met there by a starbreed woman, who said she had been told they were arriving, and that she was to take them to the Astronomer, the Warlock King of Noctis, the City of Night. She warned them that the path might be dangerous; celestial energies were bleeding out and forming up into monsters. Indeed, they were attacked twice on the way overland to the city, a trip of perhaps two miles at most, indicating that there was in fact some serious amount of bleeding energies. The city itself was more of a scattered cluster of strange and unusual buildings, with odd occupants of all races. In the midst of the chaos was a massive domed structure, the home of the Astronomer, and his observatory. They were brought in to him at once, and met him in a vast chamber where he sat, with a large shouded item beside him, an uncovered surface facing his chair but not very visible from before him. He was an ancient orc, and he revealed much, though in hints and suggestions to some degree. Mainly that the Outer Ones all seemed to want to come into Afyon, because, perhaps, things were changing in their own realms, changing in ways they could not tolerate. As there were 18 gods, so there were 18 Outer Ones who sought entry into the world, and who would, given the chance, displace the gods. The Astronomer had mananged to hold off his Outer One’s advances by constructing a magical mirror that held the thing fascinated with itself, and would probably keep it from intruding too much into the world. He had recieved a diamond from the Great King some time ago, but had not used it, and in fact cast it wastefully at the feet of Grouse, who took it up at once. Despite being warned, Grouse later gazed into the mirror, and found himself trapped in the mental embrace of a horror, which he snapped out of before matters became too dire. The Astronomer suggested that the Osprey was about to leave, with or without the characters, and so they should perhaps hurry back to the port, before it was too late. They departed.

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The Osprey
A ship, a captain, a message

The debate rages for some time, until at last they decide they want a ship. The king, presented with this notion, is resistant at first, but after some persuasion he comes around. Orders are sent, commands made, preparations set to, and within a rather short while, the characters are on their way to their new ship, the Osprey. They are met there by the captain, a dragonborn sailor in charge of a mainly human crew, who says that they have a pre-existing job, transporting a messenger to Lucent all the way on the far side of the continent. He also explains that one of the six must be the final master of the ship, the choice falling to Xerkos, and that in no case can the master ever interfere while they are at sea. The characters are shown to cabins, they meet the messenger briefly, and they sail away. All around the Farthest Shore they sail, into seas where ice islands menance them, and on the shore they see at times small settlements of fur tents, and in one place, a massive fire where right at the shore, which some claim has been caused by the burning of Mephis when their Infernal Vicar fell, creating a fire that has never died out. They sailed onwards, Grouse trying to learn about the ship, but the rest trying, at the captain’s grumpy advising, to stay out of the way.

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The Crazed Priest
His service to the Gods is certain, but is his mind?

Ashore on the forlorn isle, they encounter a mass of elemental beings in a savage fight at the water’s edge. They win the battle, though, and see a sort of trail leading into the center of the isle, but are ambushed by a powerful air spirit on the way. The creature’s unusual tactics (flying, really) make it difficult to defeat, though it isn’t so very powerful. Eventually, it falls before them, and they come to a dell in the midst of the rocky islet, where a small hut is occupied by a crazed Dwarven priest of the Queen of the Sky. He relates that the gods are taking a more active role now, and that he has been chosen to be the voice/vessel/something of the Sky Goddess. The party, not quite knowing what to do with him and uncertain lest he summon more elememntal protectors, persuade him to come along with them to Dorian Tal, to impress the King there with his fervor. They return to the ship, where repairs are undertaken rapidly, and then sail north to the capitol, where they discover quarentine flags. The city, it seems, is beset by Green Fever, a fae plague last seen in the days of the Second Unveiling, and one which, it is likely, does not affect the fae at all. They are forced to reroute to a small port around the headland and cut overland, with the crazed priest in the lead. It is a quiet voyage, as the land seems abandoned, or in hiding, and then they are attacked by mobile plants as they descend toward Dorian Tal. The plants drag root bundles behind them, bundles which are actually the remnants of bodies, various bodies all together. They manage to kill the things, and hasten past plague fires and into the city, where it seems all the Alfar have fled or been killed, as suspsected of bringing the plague. They seek an audience with the King, who hears their messages from the last few stops and points out his difficulty in sending troops, since there is plague in his lands. But he offers them a reward for all their good works, all the same, and suggests that perhaps he will try to send his forces south, with his son and heir in command, as the troops will likely be coming for his city anyway, so it is perhaps best to stop them ahead of time. The party takes a night of rest, to think about their request for reward…

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The Butcher Returns
As they flee Amara, chaos ensues

Returning with the Warlock King’s horde on a floating disc, they are rewarded by Juniper Amon with magical items suitable to their power and abilities. After a night’s rest, they hasten to the docks, but on the way spot the Butcher, alive once more and backed up by a gang of orcs and half orcs, in rivalrous boasting with a human group. Grouse sneaks up behind them, and then Xerkos challenges the Butcher, and a fight breaks out. The Butcher takes the worst of it in the inital moments of surprise, and is quickly slaughtered, though his followers prove more durable. As the last of the orc band are being eliminated, the humans strike, attacking our deserters to take advantage of their weakened state. Their leader, a hexer, transforms Haltar, Soreaii and Grouse in turn into small animals, but it isn’t enough to defeat Xerkos, who simply plows onward, smiting his foes and eventually leading his compatriots to victory. There has been no response from the local authorities, which is a bit confusing until they realize that the Butcher was not the only advance element in the city; other areas have been disrupted, just as the Army has been sighted in the distance. They make their way to their ship, which is fighting off refugees seeking to flee the city, and after boarding sail away quickly. The Butcher’s body, which they have brought with them, turns out to be missing a finger, something that means he may turn up again, sometime. They make good time to the north, toward Dorian Tal, until overnight a storm overtakes them, and batters the ship. They are forced to make landfall at a small island to make repairs, and there, in the dawning light, spot something not at all human ashore…

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