Journey to Fate’s Doorstep: finding the Writhing Battery

“You left me here alone to fend for myself!!” cries Talina when she sees the Drow’s Bane emerge from the crimson portal.
“I suddenly woke up and didn’t see anyone around. How scary is that given what we just endured. What happened to you?”
Royce approaches the triton and explains to her what happened, minus the deal offer, “If that didn’t happen Talina, we would be dead or worse, we might have risen as swarms and killed you.”
Talina listens to Royce but is upset no one invited her to the party.

The Drow’s Bane notice they fill rested, as if they completed an hour’s rest. They ponder what is going on when Naismith says, “I bet you it was the wine.” The others nod in agreement as they look at each other realizing not only did Glasya save their lives, she gave them rest too. Royce, Mordrock and Nong open their hands, take the crimson ring, and slide it onto their fingers; Naismith watches but places his ring in his pocket. He notices when the others place the ring on, they look a little more protected. He says to himself, “I bet the ring is magical.” He reaches into his pocket, pulls it out, and puts it on; he now feels more protected too.

Mordrock heals Talina before the party heads back toward the staircase and down to the first floor. On the first floor eastern staircase, they move toward the black mass near the stairway and wait; the black mass wiggles and retracts revealing a similar corridor with prison cells and skeletons in them. They move quickly west through the corridor and return to the entrance chamber. They decide to move to the black mass in the south wall next; they watch it wiggle and retract. They are not surprised to see another corridor with prison cells and skeletons. They move quickly through it and cross into a southern library, similar to the northern one they previously encountered. They look around and notice, besides bookcases with tomes, there is also a very large opened book on a pedestal.

The party inspects the western bookcases and finds large tomes made of metal and stone, each with two symbols on the spines; the first symbol is an item like a weapon or piece of armor next to a school of magic symbol. They choose a tome, slowly pull it out given its weight, and open it; even though they cannot read the language, Talina can tell the content is not spell based, but more like notes. On the eastern bookcases, each shelf’s tomes are dedicated to a school of magic with the last tome stamped with a diamond symbol. “I bet you that diamond symbol represents the school of chronomancy,” says Naismith. Talina opens up the tome and sees the same foreign language across the pages unable to discern more about Naismith’s suggestion.

The party moves to the pedestal to examine the very large tome; the cover is made of brass and silver metal, the pages are made of stone with reinforced metal, probably due to their large size. The left page details a portrait of a middle aged man in full military dress wearing ornate mithril armor. On the right page, is a detailed schematic of a barbed greatsword covered with necromancy, enchantment, and abjuration sigils; another sigil is scratched off and the diamond symbol is pressed into the corner of the page. Mordrock’s eyes pause on the greatsword; the sword looks familiar to him as though he has seen it before, but he is unable to recall from memory, where. His hands turn the heavy pages to see more portraits on the left with schematics on the right; he recognizes nothing else in the tome.

The party chooses to walk from the library, down the western corridor which turns ninety degrees north. They follow the northern corridor which leads them to a small room with an ascending stairway, identical to the same location on the opposite side of the pyramid. They decide to ascend the stairway and notice with every step, the heartbeat gets louder. After spending almost and hour climbing stairs they arrive onto a platform whose floor, walls and ceiling resemble the night sky on a clear night. Nong tests the floor before walking on it, so as to not to fall into oblivion. He sees two large stone doors on the opposite side of the platform, that vibrate in harmony with the loud heartbeat. Naismith moves to the double doors and listens; besides the heartbeat he thinks is originating from behind the doors, he also picks up chanting.
“The heartbeat sounds like it’s coming from behind these doors. But I also hear chanting, which is never a good sound.”

The party organizes into a defensive stance as Nong opens the doors. He gives them a push and the stone doors easily open up. A humongous dim lit room lies beyond; the floor of the room is covered with worms that undulate in time with the heartbeat. One hundred feet or more into the room, a dozen swarms of Kyuss and a cambion kneel before a huge crystal pillar. The pillar shakes as if something is trying to get out; the impact agitating the pillar is what is generating the heartbeat sound. The cambion is the first to look back and see the party; it scowls and points to several swarm, who rise up and turn toward the party. These swarm vomit familiar rot grubs, as they move quickly over the undulating floor, in pursuit of the Drow’s Bane.

Journey to Fate’s Doorstep: spilling the T.

Talina swears they move like creatures, but as they approach, the party sees three humanoid masses of undulating worms with dull glowing orbs for eyes. The three spawns of Kyuss move to engage the party; each vomits a pile of rot grubs on their way there. The piles of rot grubs begin to undulate too and follow the spawns.

The party leaps into action except for Royce who is buckled onto the metal table with a tube sticking out of his arm; he takes a moment to move off of the table while everyone else launches into battle. Nong approaches a spwan of Kyuss and pummels a fury of blows into it; only to find with each punch, worms fly off of the spawn’s body in the monk’s direction. Nong easily dodges out of the way, but takes a second to register what just happened. When the other spawns of Kyuss engage with the party, they too fling worms from their bodies towards Drow’s Bane; some worms miss but others hit their target, immediately finding the warm flesh under armor and burrow in.

The swarms of rot grubs move slowly but eventually invade Talina’s, Nong’s and Mordrock’s spaces. Nong escapes but realizes too late, that he brings with him several visitors that announce their welcome by burrowing into his flesh. The party takes down rot grubs only to find that the swarms of Kyuss just vomit up more. Royce is next to be infected by worms; he stumbles as the pain is unbearable from the burrowing. Luck is with him however, when he casts a spell that cures disease, the pain disappears. Nong, Mordrock and Talina are not so lucky and one by one they succumb to the extreme burrowing pain and fall.

Thanks to Naismith’s agility, he easily navigates in and out of the swarms path, always able to find a safe location out of their reach; but in doing so, he also sees how his comrades are fast falling around him. The rogue however, has a few tricks up his sleeve as he revives a person here or another there; but as soon as they return to consciousness, the rot grubs agitate, burrow further and take their hosts down once again. One of these people is Royce, who is not fast enough to cast a remove disease spell before the agitation begins, and he closes his eyes once again. The battle does not look good for the Drow’s Bane as Naismith, now perched upon a statue, looks out and sees none of his comrades are conscious while the swarms are fast approaching his location. He gulps and cries out to Tamora for a bit of respite and a little luck.

A crackling sound is heard in the center of the room as a crimson red portal opens up. The first to exit, is a familiar imp the party met in Candlekeep, who flies out and fixes its eyes on Naismith; several fiends exit next. The fiends take down the swarms, then grab the bodies of Royce, Mordrock and Nong and drag them into the portal. The imp says to Naismith, “The Lady requests your presence,” as he points to the portal. Naismith acknowledges the imp but first runs over to Talina, feeds her a healing potion, then enters the portal.

The smell of blood and brimstone ignites life back into Royce, Mordrock and Nong who open their eyes and realize they are in a dim lit room, lying on their backs, looking up. They hear a strong female voice say, “That was a pathetic fight don’t you agree?”

Royce, Mordrock and Nong rise up, see Naismith standing near them looking at the figure in the front of the room. They all lay their eyes upon:

The Arch-devil of Malbolge, Lady of the 6th layer of Hell, Glasya, daughter of Asmodeus.

Glasya, Lord of the 6th Image courtesy of

Glasya seductively lays on a chaise lounge made of arms whose bloody stumps ooze blood whenever she moves. She stares intently at the Drow’s Bane, then smiles and says, “Please, have a drink and let’s toast to common goals.”

A platter, with four goblets filled with red liquid, appears before the party; everyone takes a goblet, holds it up and waits. Glasya motions her goblet upward in a toast then moves it to her mouth and sips, while observing the party. Naismith, Nong, Mordrock and Royce follow suit and drink; the liquid tastes like wine and is smooth going down.

A pregnant pause fills the room. As they begin to offer thanks to Glasya, she cuts them off and proclaims,
“I do believe we still share a common goal together. We both want to see the wand of Orcus destroyed, yes? That is why you stand here today in my presence…alive. I am impressed you blindly managed to find your way to the laboratory using the map I gifted to you. You’re welcome,” as she laughs, revealing a mouth full of fangs. She lifts up, leans forward, and uncurls her immense bat like wings that protrude from her back.
“Do you know why you are there? Do you know what it is?”
“Uh…I’m sorry my lady, I don’t believe we do.”
“It is ancient Netherise, built two thousand years ago on the Material Plane. The ancient Netherise were gifted humans steeped in the art of the arcane. One thousand years ago, they discovered an energy source and brought it back to their laboratory. The energy source was nothing they ever experienced before; it enabled them to delve deep into fusing arcane power with simple weapons and armor. It even enabled them to be foolish enough to try their hand at the lost school of chronomancy, which only one of them ever survived. All of the others who cast those spells and traveled through time perished, never realizing there was no air along the way.”

The party takes another sip as she continues speaking,
“What the Netherise failed to realize was their ‘Writhing Battery’ was an aspect of a chained god from the Dawn War – Kyuss, the worm that walks. The pantheon of gods, at the beginning of time, came together to defeat Kyuss; they separated his body into several pieces, imprisoned each one and hid them all over the multiverse. Over time, the Writhing Battery corrupted the Netherise researches and turned them into the spawns you fought – nothing but a mass of worms intent on doing their gods dirty work. In fact, if I didn’t save you just now, you were about to join their ranks,” as she points to Royce, Mordrock and Nong.

“So why do we care about this in the age of today? It matters to us because Orcus, more than ever, hungers to become a god. Since you failed his attempt to align with Bane in Fort Morninglord, he is onto striking a deal with Kyuss next. Thanks to YOU, his wand has been feeding him every soul you strike down Nong!”

The party glances over at Nong, who looks down and stares at the wand in his hand.

“Orcus will be a lot stronger the next time you see him. And now, his pesky cambion minion, Zabrak, has managed to enter the laboratory; Zabrak is close to restarting the ritual to break the aspect of Kyuss free, so that he can join with the Prince of Undeath. But Kyuss’s prison also offers an opportunity for us. His prison is made from the essence of the dawn of time. Hold the essence in your hand and will it to convey to you the coordinates of the location in the Positive plane where you must bath the wand. Only by defeating the aspect of Kyuss first, can you access the essence. You do not realize that you are now entering into a very, very dangerous time Drow’s Bane; a time which you may not be strong enough to handle on your own.

Which Is Why I Now Offer You, A Deal…”

The Lady of the Sixth flicks her hand outward and immediately the party feels something inside the grip of their hands. Nong, Naismith, Mordrock and Royce look down, open their hands and see a ring, made from bone and died crimson red.
“You do not have to accept my offer today. But in order to do so, each of you must break the back of the ring at the same time, this seals the deal. In response, I will call forth my army to aid you.”
“And what do you get out of this deal?”
Glasya shifts comfortably into her chaise lounge, smiles and replies, “Your Souls.”

The party goes wide-eyed and momentarily stops breathing.

Glasya reassuringly says,
“Think of it this way. I see three options for your fate:
Option One) Orcus defeats you and he raises you as zombie thralls to mindlessly walk deep in his shit for the rest of eternity…on a good day! Don’t think for a second he is not forming the strongest army that will be able to defeat you. He has learned everything from that wizard who survived your battle – like how you fight, what you cast and when. I wouldn’t be surprised if Orcus unleashed that battle on you, only so he could learn your strategies and tactics!
Option Two) You miraculously save the day all by yourselves. You somehow manage to defeat the god Kyuss, go onto defeating Orcus and his army, and then ride into the sunset, like the heroes you always dreamed to be.”
“I like option two the best in my opinion.”
“Yeah, sign me up for that one!”

Glasya scowls, rolls her eyes, and continues,
“Option Three) You get a clue, realize you are way over your mortal heads, and accept my deal. In return, you are bolstered by a powerful army familiar with how demons and the undead fight, which gives you a real chance of winning without significant cost. Remember this, I’m not interested in zombie thralls. I need lieutenants and captains to lead my army.”

She looks at her goblet while she brings it to her lips and drinks. Silence fills the room as no one speaks a word in response. When she finishes, she looks away and nods. From the darkness, the familiar imp flies into the light and past the party. The imp speaks an incantation, and a crimson portal opens up; it motions the Drow’s Bane to enter. “The Lady is done with you. Now you must go,” it says. The party enters the portal one by one and Naismith is the last to leave. He looks around and quickly uses his blindsense to read the room; he picks up several creatures lingering in the shadows and he also manages to get a glimpse of bejeweled columns and a dais before he disappears.

The party appears back in the room where Talina was left by herself. The final thing they hear Glasya’s voice say to them is,

“Welcome to Fate’s Doorstep. The door is always open.”

Journey to Fate’s doorstep: Netherise Laboratory

The metal staircase collapses upon itself forming a symbol on the floor of the entrance chamber; a slow thumping rhythm like a heart makes, can be heard in the ears of the party.
“Do you hear that sound? It sounds like a subtle heartbeat in the distance.”
“I hear it too.”
“Me too.”
“I as well. And it sounds like it’s coming from everywhere and nowhere at the same time.”

The entrance chamber is lit by ambient light similar to the entryway outside the pyramid. The smell is stale and leaves a bad taste in your mouth, but at least there is air to breathe. The party looks around and notices in their periphery, black masses in the north, east, south and west walls that wiggle to alert the party something is there; but looking directly at them reveals just blackness below four archways.

Royce casts Detect Magic and walks the square room; he picks up several different magic auras with an additional aura he’s never seen before.
“There’s a strange magic aura here that is not one of the familiar magic schools.”
“I wonder if that is what I felt all over the place outside?”
“Maybe this is related. I hope it is, Talina.”

Nong reaches out to the wand of Orcus and only feels the familiar emotions of annihilation and destruction emanating from it, nothing out of the ordinary. He moves toward the north wall and watches as the wall wiggles and recedes backward revealing another room containing several prison cells along a long hallway.
“How did you do that?”
“I just walked up to it.”
“And it just moved out of your way?”
“Let’s move quickly before that thing wiggles back into place.”

The party moves into the room and notices eight cells, four cells on the right, four cells on the left; they can still hear the heartbeat in the background. Inside every cell is a skeleton resting along the back wall, except for one cell that contains a red robed figure. Mordrock casts Eyes of the Grave and senses many undead within sixty feet. “Guys there are plenty of undead here, be on your guard,” he says.

Naismith searches the first cell door and figures out the contraption that serves as the locking mechanism; he easily unlocks it. He casts Mage Hand as his companions open the door. The wispy spectral hand moves toward the red robbed hooded figure and touches it. The figure tumbles forward, revealing a skull and bony arms, however something else is interesting here; the arms and face are covered in tiny bite marks. Naismith moves to the opposite cell, opens it and beckons Nong to move in. Nong approaches the skeleton and notices a similar thing; the skeleton’s bones are covered in small bite marks. As he moves closer to inspect the body, a ghastly spectral claw emerges from the wall and strikes him. The claw rakes across Nong’s body, stealing his breath and life force in one swoop.

The party is now alerted to the other wraiths that emerge, one from each cell, all hungry for their life force. They ready their weapons and respond. The wraiths swipe several party members, some more than once with each swipe sucking more life away. Mordrock and Royce channel their gods’ wrath and turn several of the undead, leaving the remaining few to be taken down quickly.
“Move quickly down the hallway. We need to get out of here before they return!”
The party runs down the hallway toward another black mass. As they approach, it wiggles free revealing another room. They quickly proceed into a room filled with bookcases and tables.

The spines of tomes stuffed into the bookcases are metal; pulling one out and opening it up reveals stone pages scribed with similar characters seen on the dais – all unreadable by the party. Talina pulls a few tomes from bookcases and can deduce these are not spellbooks, but maybe research journals. The party takes a moment to catch their breath and assess the impact of the battle; some party members are winded and tired as a result of being drained of lifeforce.

The party decides to take the eastern exit from this room and proceeds down a corridor that eventually turns ninety degrees south. It becomes obvious they are walking the perimeter of the pyramid’s eastern side. Mid-way down the corridor the path opens into a small room that contains an ascending staircase and they also see a black mass on the western wall.
“I bet going through that thing only takes us back to the entrance.”
“Yeah I think so too, let’s not do that, ok?”
“I vote for taking the stairs up.”
“Sure, why not. It’s not like we know where we’re going.”

Ascending the stairs feels like it takes forty minutes or more before they enter a very large room, too big to see the entire space. The first thing the party notices is the thumping heartbeat is progressively louder here. The room is filled with bookcases in every direction; each bookcase is crammed with many of the same kinds of objects; the nearest bookcase contains long swords and the next one is filled with maces, and on, and on. Talina notices under each item there is a nameplate with the familiar pattern of foreign characters no one can read. Nong breaks from the group and runs up a bookcase to get a better view; as his feet bump items along the way, the items shiver and turn to dust, too ancient to withstand the motion. Unfortunately, the bookcase abuts the twenty five foot ceiling giving Nong no advantage perspective of the room.

Royce casts Planar Ally after walking aimlessly about. He summons a deva to help them decipher the room. A tall deva appears, wearing beautiful golden armor that gives off a bright glow. Its face wears no expression until it glances over at Nong and then scowls in response. The angel carelessly glances over the rest of the party and settles on Royce; when it looks down on him, Royce can hear the angelic voice in his head,
“How may I aid you?”
“Praise be to Tempus. I seek your knowledge on what is in this room as we cannot read the language.”
The deva nods and begins to glide toward the bookcases; Royce accompanies it while the others trail behind. The deva points southeast,
“This area holds weapons and armor of the school of Conjuration.”
Pointing east, “This area holds weapons and armor of the school of Evocation.”
Naismith speaks up, “What is he saying? We here nothing,” but Royce ignores him paying attention only to the deva.
“This area holds weapons and armor of the school of Divination. The magic here no longer holds power. None of these items can help you.”
The final area the deva crosses in the northeast causes it to abruptly stop, tilt its head, and stare. Royce can hear a whisper of surprise in its voice as it says,
“Strange, the school of chronomancy.”
“Deva what is chronomancy? I’ve never heard of that before.”
“It is a lost school of magic dealing with manipulating the essence of time; too dangerous for mortal experimentation.”
The deva turns to Royce fulfilling what it came here to do and Royce gives the celestial payment for its services. As the deva departs, Royce hears one final thought from it,
“Beware of the worm that walks.”

Nong looses interest in the library tour and moves closer toward the middle of the room. He finds an open space that contains a large metal and glass contraption surrounded by metal tables; there are many tubes protruding from it, with some connected to each table. The party discovers Nong and join him near the tables. Mordrock notices an indentation the size of a humanoid on each of the table surfaces; he then looks at the contraption and puts it all together,
“People were experimented on here. The indentations suggest people were placed here and belted in.”
“Maybe this contraption has something to do with chronomancy?”
“Let’s see what it does. Hook that tube up to me,” requests Royce as he places his body on the table, fitting inside the groove. He beckons the group to puncture the sharp endpoint of the glass tube into his arm. They watch as the blood pours out toward the large contraption.

Behind Talina there is movement. She turns around and sees shapes moving quickly in their direction. She taps her staff on the ground in quick repetition to get the party’s attention as she readies herself for the worst.

Journey to Fate’s doorstep: X marks the spot

A solemn mood is heavy in the cavern as the Drow’s Bane take a moment to let everything sink in. Naismith moves slowly towards the fallen scimitars and quiver, letting the tears run down his face with each step. He crouches down and grips a scimitar allowing the many memories of his dear friend to cycle through his mind. Royce moves toward the great sword, picks it up and shows it to Mordrock, who looks down, nods, and walks away. “Where did Tusker fall?” asks Nong catching Royce pointing in the direction he felled Tusker. The monk walks over, bends down and touches the ichor remains of the undead pig; he does not move for quite some time.

Talina is beside herself on one hand surviving a treacherous battle and on another, realizing this fight seemed personal to her party. She needs to talk but after reading the room, she decides instead to walk the cavern alone. It is during their short rest she finds the right moment to open up to them,
“Did you know those undead creatures?”
Royce looks at her and says plainly, “Yes. They were our friends when they were living. Although, we haven’t seen the wizard in forever and thought he was dead.”
“We never figured Orcus got to them first,” replies Naismith.
“And it’s been over ten years since I last spoke with Rupert,” says Mordrock.
“I’m so sorry. How awful of an experience and very painful to endure. Thank you for not giving up. Orcus meant to break you back there,” says Talina.
Royce, Naismith and Mordrock just barely acknowledge her with a nod before staring off again towards nowhere.

Nong returns after the short rest to announce a southern path exits from the cavern. The party gets up and slowly moves in that direction, trying to remember why they are here in the first place. Nong takes the lead followed by Naismith and enters the southern corridor. They walk for many minutes before seeing light ahead. Nong approaches cautiously and peers out to see a huge cavern with a very large building erected in the middle; the circular exterior connects to a dome ceiling penetrated by an inverted pyramid, just like the sketch on the map, where ‘X’ marks the spot. The moment takes his breadth away as realizes what stands before him; he motions the others to the entrance.
“This…this…is the place on the map!” exclaims Royce, who pulls out the map to confirm.
Naismith notices even from this distance, small holy symbols etched everywhere on the structure. He focuses on the symbols and recognizes them to be the gods Amaunator and Lathander. He remembers from teachings years past, how the keeper of the sun was never in the same time period as the morninglord; even some historians believed these two perspectives represented the same god. He points out his findings to the clerics, but they fail to make the same connection.

The Drow’s Bane make their way into the cavern, recognizing it is lit by some mysterious ambient light. Talina gasps as she feels a subtle arcane energy flowing throughout the cavern. Royce notices and reaches out to her,
“What’s wrong Talina?”
“There is arcane energy in this cavern, maybe emanating out from the building. I’m not sure, but I feel it all over me.”
“What kind of arcane energy? I hope abjuration.”
“It’s strange as it is not abjuration but I think several energies combined. It feels more concentrated as we get closer.”
Royce grabs her hand and holds it for the remainder of the walk toward the building.

They approach and Mordrock is the first to run his hands across the smooth constructed stone work. He recognizes expert craftsmanship but is unable to discern anymore clues. The party takes a moment to examine the walls but are unable to locate hidden doors or an entryway. Naismith decides to fly the circumference, to get a better understanding of its dimensions; half-way around, he spots two large stone doors that appear open. He flies past them and sees an interior room, most likely the way in.

The party makes their way around the building eventually arriving at the stone doors. Nong and Royce are first to enter. The interior showcases a large dais in the middle of the stone floor, with a polished stone center. Three stone pathways originate from the dais and journey out across the room to three huge sphinx statues; one is made from copper, another from gold and the third from obsidian. Penetrating from the ceiling into the room and stopping twenty feet above the dais, is the tip of the inverted pyramid. Naismith is the last to enter the room, when he does, his mind is flooded with a vision:

“The tip of the pyramid hangs open, with a broken bent metal staircase hanging loosely from it. An oozing mass is pushing through from the chambers above, and as you attempt to puzzle out its origins, it unceremoniously plops onto the dais – a huge ball of green worms, covered in slime and unknowable detritus.”

Naismith blinks and sees nothing out of place in the room, especially the tip of the pyramid, which is not open. He flies up to examine the tip, but besides holy symbols etched all over it, nothing else is there. Startled, he flies back to the entrance and waits next to Talina. Nong points out that in front of each statue black ichor puddles exist, “Looks like demons were here but they weren’t so lucky.”

Royce and Mordrock approach the copper sphinx and speak to it. Unfortunately, nothing happens in response. Mordrock reaches out to touch it and hears a female voice telepathically speak to him,

“What can run but never walks,
has a mouth but never talks,
has a head but never weeps,
has a bed but never sleeps”

Mordrock turns to Royce, “Whoa, I just heard its voice speak to me in a riddle.”
“A riddle? This could explain our unfortunate friends around us. They obviously didn’t solve it.”

Mordrock shouts out the riddle and the group ideates on the best answer. Eventually with some coercing, Mordrock touches the copper sphinx again and says, “A River.” The eyes of the copper sphinx open in response and begin to shine bright. The clerics standing in front of it, go wide-eyed for fear of responding incorrectly. Laser beams shoot out of the eyes, piercing the center of the dais and persist. The party looks amazed by what just happened. “Well done! I told you that was the right answer. Proceed to the gold one next,” screams Nong.

The clerics duck under the laser beams and head toward the obsidian sphinx; Royce touches this one, waiting to hear the rhyme. A male voice telepathically speaks to him in response,

“Some try to hide, Some try to cheat,
but time will show, we always will meet.
Try as you might to guess my name;
I promise”

Royce shares the riddle with Mordrock and the two discuss. When Naismith calls out, Royce shouts the riddle back to him. The group can’t decide between two answers, and Mordrock pushes Royce to answer with what he thinks is correct. Royce touches the obsidian sphinx and answers with, “Death”. The eyes light up and laser beams shoot out, hitting the center of the dais, which is now beginning to smoke from the immense heat of four lasers.

They approach the final sphinx and Mordrock reaches out an touches it. He hears a female voice telepathically say,

“Never resting never still
moving slowly from hill to hill,
it does not walk, run or trot,
all is cool where it is not”

Mordrock shouts out the puzzle and it takes the party a bit of time to choose an answer. He touches the sphinx again and says, “Sunlight”. The eyes shoot a beam of white hot light into the dais and everyone hears a rumble from the center of the room. The dais rises five feet as it consumes the last bit of light; on top of it are now ten metal channels that pour into a silver bowl in the center. On the sides of the dais are words etched into the stone, however no one recognizes the language nor able to read the writing. The party is unclear on what to do next except for Mordrock who kneels down, concentrates and calls out to Kelemvor for aid. The party waits as they observe Mordrock deep in prayer; moments later, he rises and points to the writing,
“It says ‘From the gift of life, knowledge’.”
“Then it’s clear what we must do next, ” says Nong as he cuts his hand and lets his blood pour into the channel. Immediately, Nong feels his cut hand fasten to the channel where he is unable to move it away. He bites the other hand and attaches it to a second channel.
“You must do the same, see? There are ten channels and there are five of us.”
“I’m not so sure about this,” says Talina who is reluctant to approach the dais.

Mordrock, Royce and Naismith eventually acquiesce and attach their bloodied hands to channels; they wait for Talina who has not yet joined them.
“Talina, we can’t do this without you. Please help us. We can’t go back now,” pleads Royce.
She ponders on the words, “You know we probably could have placed water into these channels, as that gifts life too.”
The others digest her comment and agree but seeing them with both hands stuck to the dais pouring out their life force, makes Talina realize that idea is too little too late. She hesitantly approaches the dais and cuts her hands.

The blood from all ten channels pours into the silver bowl; it begins to boil until red smoke rises up to meet the pyramid. The party’s hands are freed as they see the tip of the pyramid open and from within, a metal staircase descends to meet the dais. A loud voice from the pyramid begins announcing something in an unknown language. Nong comprehends the words and dashes up the stairs shouting back at the party.

“It’s going to close in 5 seconds. Hurry up!!”

Journey to Fate’s doorstep: closer to their destination

The crystal cave is absent of anyone or anything as the Drow’s Bane enter and inspect. Naismith picks up the magical horn, horseshoes and feather along with the marid’s tunic and vest. The party swims toward the back and enters each of the three corridors; each corridor leads into a small cavern where a blue-and-white shimmering portal stands in the center. Talina inspects the first portal, “I think this is a portal back to Olhydra’s location, wherever that may be.”
“I guess we must go through the portal as our next step,” says Royce.
“Is that what you remember from your images?”
“Unclear as I only see the images leading me through the crystal cave into a corridor and then darkness, but I continue to travel through it.”
“Let’s inspect the other two portals as we need to decide which one to enter,” says Naismith.

After inspecting all three portals, the Drow’s Bane decide to enter the middle one. Nong goes first, walking through the portal only to appear behind it in the same room. The others look at Nong surprised he did not vanish into the portal; after an hour of getting creative, the party is still unable to figure out how to enter. Naismith, dressed in the marid’s tunic, vest and holding a bag of mined crystals, enters the portal only to pass through it in another failed attempt.
“You see! I told you dressing up as that marid would not make much difference.”
Nong laughs, “Well you looked quite funny in its garb, so that was worth it.”

The party continues exploring the cave for clues; they comb the platform with the stone chair on it, the sacks and tools but nothing seems to unlock the portals. Eventually, Naismith inspects the back walls of the three caverns and discovers a clue; the middle cavern’s back wall is an illusion.
Naismith yells out, “Hey everyone over here!”
“What did you find?”
“This wall is an illusion. I think we are not meant to travel by portal but through this wall, which behind it is a corridor that continues.”

The party moves through the illusion, with Nong in front followed by Royce and Naismith; Talina escorts a frail Mordrock from behind. The path is a dark ten foot corridor that continues onward for hours. After four or five hours of travel, the party begins to hear strange sounds coming from up ahead; Nong can make out that two hundred feet in front of them, the corridor widens. “The corridor is widening ahead, maybe into a cavern of some sort,” says Nong.

The strange sounds are getting louder, however no one is affected by their magical luring. The Drow’s Bane approach the cavern entrance. On the ceiling are two huge sea anemone creatures, who are making the noise; their long tentacles reach out into the cavern below them. The party realizes they can crawl along the center of the floor to avoid coming into contact with the tentacles. On the opposite side, the pathway continues into darkness.

Everyone successfully crosses the cavern and continues down the path. By the end of the day, they notice the water has become cloudy and tainted making it more difficult to swim through; the corridor also widens again. Thanks to last night’s Heroes Feast, no one is poisoned by the tainted water. Nong sees a few dark shapes swimming towards them. He signals to the group and the party grips their weapons preparing for danger. A large fiendish creature appears before Nong, taking him by surprise. The fiend’s gurgling voice speaks in abyssal, “Nong Sung Roc, it is time to come home. Surrender the wand to me now then we will kill your comrades together.”

Nong looks back at the party, who stare back at him wondering what is being said. Nong answers the fiend, “Send the master my regards,” and attacks. The fiends screech and spit acid at the party. One fiend attacks Nong while the other sprays the party with acid spit. When Nong kills the first fiend with quivering palm, the other attempts to flee, only to be caught by Royce’s sentinel attack. In short time, the second fiend is nothing more than a pile of black ichor on the cavern floor.

“The path continues onward but it’s getting late, we should rest,” says Talina.
“Let me take us to the Ethereal Plane for the evening then,” replies Mordrock.
Modrock casts the spell and the party spends another night in the Ethereal Plane camped out in a fortress dedicated to Tempus, except for Nong of course.

The next day, travel continues with Nong leading the pack; for several more hours the party travels down the narrow corridor until something changes – the corridor begins to ascend. Nong, Naismith, Royce and Mordrock recall the vision implanted in their minds and it checks out with what lies ahead.
“This is right, I know it,” says Nong.
“Yes I agree, let’s quickly move on, as we may be close,” replies Royce.

Without realizing what just happened, Nong crests the water into oxygen filled darkness. He halts the group behind, as he inhales the stale cold air and then descends under water.
“There’s a large air-filled cavern above,” proclaims Nong.
Naismith swims up, “Let me have a look around.”

For the first time in many days, Naismith inhales air as he looks around, making his way onto cavernous dry rock. He now notices the foul smelling air and cold dampness of the cave but continues forward. The cavern is large with a few pathways leading out of it; he tries to recall this image from his memory but only sees darkness in his mind. Nong peers out of the water as the others follow suit. Naismith feels an extreme cold near him but does not see anything in the darkness. He pauses for a moment, as he hears the others ascend onto dry rock, then makes his way back to the party. He moves closer to a stalagmite near the water and inspects it, but finds nothing out of the ordinary; Nong, runs up another and looks out across the dark cavern.

Suddenly, there’s movement ahead and all eyes dart to the cavern center. Everyone hears the raspy voice before seeing the figure rise up from the ground, “You cannot defeat him, he’s unstoppable…you are a fool to have refused the calling back to home and now it is too late.” The shadowy figure, dressed in full plate has pale white skin and red angry eyes. Mordrock freezes, his mouth agape as he recognizes the undead creature hovering to be none other than his fellow companion of Adventurers Incorporated, the fighter known as Rupert.
“This is your last stand Nong Sung Roc, and your companions too,” as Rupert turns and stares into Modrock.
“We will take back the wand and deliver your souls to the Prince of Undeath!”
“Modrock! Who is this?” screams Naismith.
Mordrock stutters, “I…know…him. He’s…a fellow companion of mine, Rupert.”
“Not anymore it seems to me,” replies Nong as he attacks Rupert with the wand only to realize it does not respond.

Rupert draws from his back a humongous two handed glowing green greatsword. Nong see’s in his periphery another shadowy figure, forty feet up towards the back of the cavern move; the monk blinks and sees four identical shadowy figures instead of one. There’s something familiar about the robe the four figures are wearing, especially the six stars around the neckline. Nong peers at the faces and sees pale skin, angry red eyes and…high elven ears.
“Oh god this can’t be!” exclaims Nong as he dodges the fell sword swipe.
“What is it?!” shouts Royce.
Unfortunately, no one but Nong can see the invisible undead Kendall hovering above them.

Royce and Naismith close in on Rupert and attack when they hear a familiar yet broken voice from the cavern ceiling, “DROW’S BANE! YOU CANNOT DEFEAT HIM. I COULD NOT DEFEAT HIM AND NOW I SERVE HIM JUST LIKE YOU WILL!”
“No, no! That’s…” says Royce.
“Kendall…” replies Naismith as he barely misses the magical freezing cold air blasted from where the voice was heard. Everyone except Naismith, feels the bitter cold engulf and pummel them.

Rupert takes advantage of the opportunity and wounds Royce; Royce feels a gash open up from the hit and winces as the pain seems to linger longer than normal. Nong responds with a burst of quick hits to Rupert as he watches Kendall from his periphery. Before Nong can devise a plan to attack the wizard, a female voice is heard in the cavern.
“You failed to protect us, Royce and now you will be corrupted as am I. You cannot stop Him. Resistance is futile.”
Royce cries out, “This can’t be, He got to Illian too! Damn you Orcus!”

The sound of a horn being blown overtakes the cavern as the Drow’s Bane glance up toward the corrupted ranger, hovering near a stalactite. Illian waves her hand in front of her as multiple beserker spirits rise up from the floor, battle cry, rage and charge the party. The beserkers spread out and surround everyone. Talina braces herself as spiritual battleaxes hit her, the same goes for Mordrock; Naismith, now standing on top of a thirty foot stalagmite, looks wide-eyed as several beserkers fly up and attack him.

As if things could not get worse, the party hears an unnatural squeal as the large undead boar companion, Tusker, charges from the shadows and flattens Royce. The party screams in response, “Nooooo!!!! He got to Tusker too!”

A crackling sound is heard from the cavern floor and Nong is nowhere to be found. Naismith is the first to see the quadruple Kendall appear for the first time; he fires an arrow at the wizard and sees the quadruple become a triple. “Damn YOU!” screams Naismith. Kendall pulls a star off his neckline and flings it toward Naismith; the star flies toward the rogue transforming into seven darts that connect with their target causing Naismith much pain.

Royce, surrounded by Rupert and beserkers, casts Spiritual Guardians which do not last for long once Kendall takes notice; the wizard immediately dispels Royce’s spell leveling the playing field once again. Mordrock and Talina, surrounded by beserkers, use their magic to hit as many enemies as possible but are quickly interrupted by Kendall’s countering. The battle is difficult for the Drow’s Bane, but they eventually get a moment of respite as Royce takes down Rupert and his nasty two-handed sword of wounding.

Meanwhile, Nong stares up at labyrinthine walls he finds himself in. He is confused as to how he got here but sprints down one of the paths hoping to quickly return to the fight. Unfortunately, he does not get his wish.

Illian sends lightning arrow after lightning arrow towards Royce; the damage fries the cleric who is now badly wounded. Seeing how Mordrock’s healing spell was interrupted by Kendall, Royce takes a risk and casts Mass Heal; Kendall pauses and lets the healing spell occur, realizing he may need an escape. The tide begins to turn, like it has in previous battles, once the warm healing energy washes over everyone, restoring them to full health. With a new sense of confidence, the Drow’s Bane press on as beserkers begin to dwindle in numbers. Naismith gets another good hit on Kendall making him a double from a triple.

And then…Tusker is the next to fall by Royce’s blade.

Illian lets out an unnatural scream in response and instantly vanishes from her position to appear next to Royce striking him with both scimitars, vanishes and appears next to Mordrock attacking him, followed by Talina and finally Naismith. Illian reappears five feet from Talina, who sees the undead ranger covered in bloody tears streaming down her face. Naismith and Royce pounce on the ranger and quickly take her down; as Illian falls she looks at Royce and Naismith and whispers, “thank you for freeing me…”

Kendall quickly understands he is outmatched as the party moves toward his location. He proclaims,
“You are stronger than I thought Drow’s Bane but I have learned a lot from you today. We will meet again!”
Moving his hands in front him, Kendall finishes the last words of a spell causing everyone to instantly freeze in time. He flies toward the ceiling, casts another spell and vanishes.

Seconds later, time returns to normal as the party almost collides into Nong, who looks happy to be back in the fight.

Journey to Fate’s doorstep: the path leads to a cave

A two hundred fifty feet by two hundred fifty feet tidal wave erupts from the watery draconic mouth and washes everyone away, except for Royce, who manages to be the last one out of the shipwreck. Royce glances up and sees the gigantic draconic mouth attached to a body now forming out of the churning water; he also sees his party, including Talina and the sea worms, pushed fifty feet away behind an immense tidal wave.

Royce swims out of the shipwreck and begins casting offensively at the Leviathan elemental, being mindful of anything following him out of the shipwreck. Everyone else is pummeled by the tidal wave force as it pushes them another hundred feet; some attempt to swim through it but are not strong enough to withstand its power. Eventually the sea worms can’t take the constant pummeling and collapse. Naismith attempts to swim up the wall in hopes he can crest it while Mordrock uses his magic staff to create vines that extend from the staff, through the tidal wave and toward the Leviathan, successfully grappling it. Talina casts Control Water to form a pocket around herself and Mordrock, enabling them to swim through the wave.

The Leviathan elemental is strong and wild, lashing out at everyone in its reach. At one hundred fifty feet out, the tidal wave begins to lose steam; Nong and Naismith finally manage to crest it and swim toward the party. When Nong is in range, he uses the wand to unleash a fury of skeletons that descend upon the elemental. Eventually, the Leviathan cannot withstand the multitude of attacks and spells cast upon it, that it dissolves and flees.

The party regroups to assess the situation. Royce and Naismith focus on opening the metal box; except it is rusted shut requiring brute strength over nimble fingers. Royce manages to pull it open, finding inside several gems and a horn of blasting.

The party continues their journey forward, following the images in their mind as best as they can given the unfamiliar environment. Each night they take a long rest in the Ethereal plane inside a mighty temple dedicated to Tempus; except for Nong who inhabits Daern’s instant fortress further away. During the first night, Nong senses someone near; when he opens his eyes, he sees staring down at him the red demonic face he has met before. The red face attached to a demonic body and bat wings, looks down and whispers in abyssal, “It’s time for you to come home Nong Sung Roc, even though you are feeding the master quite well these days.” Nong quietly reaches for the wand as he remains silent staring back at the fiend.

Inside the temple, Mordrock on watch, sees the being hovering over Nong and stirs the others to wake, as he gets up and runs toward the instant fortress; by the time he arrives, the being is gone.
“Who or what was that Nong?”
“Someone we met in Fort Morninglord.”
“What did he say to you?”
“Nonsense. When I reached for the wand to kill him, he disappeared.”
When the others arrive, Mordrock describes what he saw and everyone stares at Nong for a response; Nong shrugs, rolls over and returns to sleep.

Two days later they see ahead of them an entrance to a large cave, five hundred feet away. They swim closer and see four water-shaped beings standing guard around the entrance. The Drow’s Bane confirm the images in their minds resemble this cave which persuades them to get closer. Talina suddenly halts the group,
“Those look like myrmidons, elemental guardians,” as she squints her eyes to get a closer look at them.
“They are wearing the symbol of…Olhydra, the evil princess of water elementals. This is not good,” she says.
“We have no business with Olhydra or her minions, we just need to parley and be escorted through the cave,” replies Royce.
Talina looks at him, “I hope you are correct, Royce, that it will be that easy.”

The Drow’s Bane make a plan: Nong, Naismith and Talina will sneak up above the cave entrance and conduct reconnaissance, while Royce and Mordrock swim directly toward the cave entrance to parley. When the four myrmidons notice Royce and Mordrock, they swim toward the clerics and form a line blocking them. “We come to parley, we do not mean harm,” says Royce.

Two of the myrmidons break off and swim back into the cave. Moments later, Nong, Naismith and Talina above the cave entrance, see four huge shark heads emerge, along with a marid and the two myrmidons. Talina’s eyes grow wide as she sees the huge sharks swim toward Royce and Mordrock.

Naismith takes advantage of the situation and successfully sneaks into the cave, remaining hidden amongst the ceiling. The cave is immense and its walls are covered in glowing crystal that illuminate the cave. Some sea elves mine the crystal walls while others, carrying bags full of crystal, swim toward corridors in the back. In the middle, stands a platform with a stone chair on top of it.

Royce and Mordrock wait for the marid to approach them while the four huge sharks surround the clerics; their toothy maws just ten feet away on all sides. Royce, who already casted Tongues on himself, greets the marid, “Well met, we are seeking an escort through your cave. We do not mean harm and come in peace.”
The marid stops in front of Royce, looks him up and down, and says, “this mine is property of Olhydra, the elemental princess of this domain. You cannot pass through her property, ” proclaims the marid.
“We come in peace,” responds Mordrock.
“Yes, we carry a great burdon, the wand of Orcus, and we must destroy it, to rid the multiverse of its evil. Through that cave is what leads us to complete our mission,” says Royce, “here, let us offer you things as payment,” as he takes out the Horn of blasting, the Horseshoes of speed, and Qualfeather’s Feather Token and hands them to the marid.

The marid receives the gifts delightfully and spends a moment to examine them; it realizes each gift is highly valuable. Unfortunately, Royce’s deliverance of the deal proved flat to the marid. It looks at the four huge sharks, then the four myrmidons and back at the two humanoids, before responding,
“Be gone from here, I don’t want to see your faces ever again!” then turns and begins swimming back toward the cave. Royce and Mordrock watch as the marid retreats with their belongings without accepting their deal. Royce scowls, unsheathes his sword and attacks!

The marid pays no attention to the squabble behind it nor does it see Naismith’s surprise attack. The rogue is quick to slash deep into the marid, spilling blood everywhere. The marid, so startled, turns invisible and attempts to flee into the cave, but as soon as he moves a thunderous sound erupts from his space, causing more damage to itself. Sea elves begin to scream, dropping their tools and fleeing toward the corridors. Naismith swims into the cave and yells out in common, “Free Yourselves!”

Nong can see the invisible marid swimming quite fast in retreat. Unable to catch up to it, he pulls out the wand of Orcus, points it at the marid and commands in abyssal. Instantly, the marid freezes in mid-swim, collapses, and dissolves into water; leaving only its clothes and the party’s magic items behind.

Outside, Royce and Mordrock are encumbered by swarms of shark bites and myrmidon trident swipes. Naismith casts Faerie Fire on the group lighting up several sharks, myrmidons and Mordrock too. With Mordrock shining brightly, the sharks instinctively continue to attack the bright bleeding object, biting off chunks after chunks of Mordrock’s body, until he falls. Naismith is able to restore him to life briefly, but Mordrock succumbs to further shark bites, tearing the dwarf apart from limb to limb.

The party eventually defeats the sharks and myrmidons at the cost of one of their own. The party spends time opening shark stomachs and collecting Mordrock pieces and lays them in a pile. Royce counts the limbs and body parts and feels enough is there for him to cast Raise Dead. The spell takes effect, sealing wounds and restitching arms and legs until the body of Mordrock lay whole again in front of them. Naismith is ready to cover his head with the Cap of Waterbreathing once the spell completes. As Mordrock opens his eyes, he takes in breath and looks around, quite weak and frail from the horrifying experience.

The party smiles as they look down on their revived comrade. “Help him up,” says Royce as the party embraces their companion and swims toward the cave entrance.

Journey to Fate’s doorstep: follow the path

The Drow’s Bane and Lela splash into Catchbreeze, soaking wet against a cold day in the month of Nightal. Their first breath back on land, is an exhale of cold fog in the midday light. Royce suddenly looks over to Lela who is inhaling the air comfortably, and then he relaxes.

The Drow’s Bane have been gone for three weeks in the Elemental Plane of Water. Royce and the others take off their Caps of Water Breathing and begin to call for Petha to bring towels to dry off. Lela rapidly speaks to Royce in Aquan; the cleric casts Tongues so he can understand her. Petha and Joscellan make their way to the party, arms full of towels, and a look of curiosity as to where their masters have come and gone this time. “Welcome home masters, it’s good to see you again, how were your travels?” as she hands out towels then comes upon Lela. “Good day miss, I see the masters have brought with them…a friend?” as she looks toward Royce, Naismith, Nong and Mordrock. “Petha meet Lela, she will be staying here with us. She’s a Water Genasi from the Elemental Plane of Water. Oh, and she speaks Aquan and doesn’t speak Common, just yet, something you can help with?” says Royce. A bit perplexed, Petha responds, “Understood master Royce. I will contact the Guild of Languages to hire a tutor immediately. And is she a guest?”

Naismith jumps into the conversation, “Lela is well skilled in taking care of people and is quite talented in singing and dancing. I’m sure with Djanni now departed, there is an opening for some help? I think in time, Lela would fit in quite well,” as he smiles at Petha. Petha looks at Naismith, gives him a nod of hesitant confirmation, then focuses her attention back on helping the party dry off.

The Drow’s Bane spend a few days at Catchbreeze to discuss their plans to return to the Elemental Plane of Water. They all confirm recalling a similar vision implanted into their minds about where to go next. “I think we should plane shift to the Citadel of 10,000 Pearls,” says Mordrock and continues, “from there we can swim south into the Darkened Depths again but this time farther to the East to locate the giant cave in the vision” Royce responds, “I’ll get us close to the Citadel but not inside. Seeing it is the center of bureaucracy for that plane, I don’t want to be trapped among throws of tourists and patrols.” They continue discussion and agree to depart the following day.

The next morning they head down to the Dock Ward to visit Nong; Royce, Naismith and Mordrock decide to plane shift from his boat instead of Catchbreeze. Nong’s boat is in harbor, as the others approach, they hear familiar angry shouts about spoiled supplies and tainted liquids; there’s even a small fight breaking out near them. Nong, standing on his boat, enjoys the scene unfolding as he sees his comrades approach. “You came to visit me?” says Nong. Royce replies, “Yes, and we will plane shift from your boat in the harbor.” “By the way, this is unnecessary drama Nong, let’s get moving!” as he points to the squabbles behind them. As Nong’s boat moves away from the dock, a small furry creature rubs against Royce’s leg; he looks down to see Samantha, and instantly can tell she’s not quite right. “Nong what the hell is this? An undead two-headed cat? Why?” exclaims Royce. Nong keeps rowing, paying no attention to Royce, then says, “it was a gift from the dwarf. Go piss on his day instead of mine.”

There is an uncomfortable silence in the air as Mordrock reaches down and scoops up Samantha. “She’s mine and it’s a long story Royce. In fact, Nong, let me take her back to my place for the time being.” Nong nods and turns the boat around and heads back to the dock. Royce still shocked by this horror, keeps muttering under his breath, “You’re a cleric of Kelemvor! You’re a cleric of Kelemvor!” Naismith, standing on the opposite side of the boat, sighs, shakes his head and turns away from the group, flipping his coin as he stares out over the harbor.

An hour later, the party appears near the Citadel of 10,000 Pearls in the Elemental Plane of Water. They take a moment to adjust their caps, and let their bodies acclimate again to being fully submerged in water. The beautiful Citadel is glowing from the thousands of orbs that give it an appearance, it is covered with shiny white pearls. Today looks busy as a stream of crowds line up outside the citadel along with caravans moving to and from it. Out of the corner of Nong’s eye, he catches a bright flash of light two hundred fifty feet southeast of their location. He turns to look in that direction and can make out movement around a shape fixed in the water; he sees another flash then says, “Look there. There’s something going on over there. I’ve seen two flashes of light already.” The others glance in that direction. Naismith sees many figures moving around the fixed shape, some bipedal while others appear fish-like. “Something is definitely going on over there, maybe a fight. We should take a closer look just to see,” says Naismith. Nong turns and begins swimming in that direction as Naismith is right behind; Royce and Mordrock, who swim a lot slower, follow way behind.

Nong approaches within one hundred fifty feet and sees a caravan being attacked by four huge sharks and six Sahuagin. The water is cloudy and red, half eaten bodies of sea elves float around the caravan. A figure in a fighting position is near the caravan fending off the beasts. Nong recognizes the figure to be Talina Tanglestrand, who is trying to protect the caravan. He smiles and whispers to himself, “looks like Royce’s girlfriend could use some help,” as he quietly swims up to the nearest Sahuagin and attacks it from behind.

Naismith and Nong are first to engage and are able to pull the attention of the sharks and Sahuagin away from the caravan toward themselves; however this comes at a cost for Naismith, who is devoured multiple times from the four huge sharks. Nong catches Talina casting a familiar spell at one of the sharks where it instantly disintegrates before them; “I like her already,” he says to himself. By the time Royce and Mordrock catch up, the fight has tipped in favor of the Drow’s Bane and Talina. Moments later, the surviving Sahuagin and shark flee.

The party approaches Talina and the caravan; they can see the two worm mounts have been bitten and a sea-elf is badly injured. “Thank you. I could not have asked for better timing. We were attacked by a Sahuagin hunting party and they were a bit tough on us,” says Talina. Royce, who is delighted to see Talina again replies, “It is so good to see you again. What are you doing out here?” Mordrock, Nong and Naismith slowly shift backward, grinning and looking at each other. Talina smiles as Royce approaches and says, “I was protecting this caravan on its journey to the Citadel of 10,000 Pearls. That is what we Tritons do Royce, protect inhabitants of this plane.” Behind her, the wounded sea elf, Artoz, is coughing up blood. “This is not good,” says Talina as she turns to help Artoz. Mordrock swims up to the wounded sea elf and gives him a big dose of healing. Talina smiles in relief, “Thank you…uh, Mordrock for saving his life.”

She turns to Royce again, “Did you find what you were looking for?” “Not directly but we now have a path to the location,” as he pulls out the map and shows her. She reviews the map and responds, “it sounds like you are heading into the Fathomless Caves. That’s what lies below the citadel. Have you been before?” “No we haven’t but we have a route in our minds,” says Nong. “I have been there a few times. It is a large black rock shelf that is littered with caves. Do you know which cave you are looking for?” asks Talina. “Not really. We have an idea but once we see the particular cave, we will know it’s the one to enter,” replies Naismith. Talina turns to Royce, “I could help you on your journey, if you would like? First, help me escort this caravan and then I can join you.” Royce immediately responds, “We would love that Talina! But first, let us help you get this caravan to the citadel,” as he nods to the others. Mordrock, Nong and Naismith stare back at him and slowly nod.

Two hours later they head south on the two sea worms that served as Artoz’s mounts; a gift of thanks for saving his life, his family’s life and the caravan. Royce names his mount ‘Wormy’ and travels alongside Talina, who is leading the way. Mordrock and Naismith ride on ‘Spaghetteos’ and Nong follows behind. The travel is somewhat familiar in terms of the farther south they travel the darker it becomes. The first night’s rest consists of a large temple to Tempus where everyone sleeps, except for Nong who inhabits Daern’s Instant Fortress, three hundred feet away.

Over dinner, Talina learns about Mordrock’s legendary encounter with Tiamat, banishing the queen of evil dragons back to Avernus from the material plane. Talina is awestruck by the story as she listens intently. Royce and Naismith then share with her their journey into the Underdark and they’re legendary encounter with Demogorgon.

As the party settles in for a night’s sleep, Talina moves further away from the party to sleep by herself; she faces away from them as she prepares to sleep; except she is not sleepy. Instead, she decides to have some fun and casts Message: “So…I can’t sleep, I’m still inspired by your brave stories. Tell me another? Like what did you encounter with Crazy Oman?” Royce hears Talina’s voice in his head and looks over to see her on her side, facing away from the group; he laughs to himself and then whispers, “Well…we traveled to the Trench of Death with Crazy Oman….”

Naismith, who is keeping watch for awhile, can’t recall the last time Royce talked in his sleep; he glances over at Royce, who appears to not only be mumbling but laughing as well.

Several days more into this journey and the party sees the top of the Fathomless Caves in the distance; as they travel closer they notice a shipwreck lying on the black rock shelf five hundred feet away. They swim toward the shipwreck; fifty feet above it the sea worms buck and rise up as if startled by something unseen. Talina quickly grabs both worms and speaks to them softly which eases their tension. She looks at the party, “You go on and explore the shipwreck, I’ll be here with the sea worms. Something feels strange to me as if we are in the presence of something large.” The Drow’s Bane swim towards the shipwreck and notice it has several large holes in its side, they decide to swim in.

Inside feels a lot colder than outside. Royce motions to swim further inward, “The next level down, is where the crew and captain’s quarters should be, if we want to look around.” They swim into a room that might have once been someone’s quarters; several pieces of broken bits of furniture still exist. Mordrock blinks and swears he saw something move past them in the hallway outside of the quarters. He casts a spell and immediately senses undead all over this place, “This place is crawling with undead, we should leave quickly!” as Mordrock begins to exit. He crosses into the hallway where he feels an immense feeling of cold pass through him, taking his breath away for a moment. “Ghosts!” he thinks to himself as he picks up the pace and swims toward Talina.

Naismith and Royce find a loose board in the wall and pull it away to find a metal box inside. Royce pulls out the metal box and finds a ghostly face staring back at him from the now empty space. He gasps as the ghostly face reaches through the hole, opens her mouth and wails uncontrollably. The terrifying sound pierces into Royce, Naismith, Nong and Mordrock; Naismith is so overwhelmed by the sound, he falls unconscious. Nong grabs Naismith and makes their way out of the room, followed by Royce.

As if responding to the banshee’s wail, the ground beneath the shipwreck begins to tremble. Pieces of the ship fall in toward the party as they desperately search for a way out. Outside, Talina and Mordrock see a large formation in front of them coalesce from the surrounding water. The water churns and churns and they realize the churning is forming into a gigantic draconic face whose mouth opens wide and unleashes upon them.

Journey to Fate’s doorstep: Yokagoggor

The Drow’s Bane, Lela, and the seahorse mounts, exit the viscous portal onto a massive expanse of barren land leading toward gigantic stone blocks on the underwater horizon. A sickly green illumination emanates from the stone blocks lighting up the area in a dull glow, enough for the party to see Crazy Oman fifty feet away; he beckons them to follow him as he swims toward the stones. Lela, still holding Royce’s hand, continues to tremble in fear as Royce motions her to jump on Sparkle; he looks at the others with a worrisome glance as they continue onward.

An hour later, the party sees the stone blocks begin to take shape; the glowing stone resembles the remnants of a massive titanic city. Pillars, stairs and ramps come into view under arches that spread out across the city; gigantic doorways now in ruins, suggest the previous denizens to be titans or other gigantic creatures. The party now feels as if they are being watched; a feeling familiar to them from past encounters with beholders and mind flayer kin.

Nong calls out to Crazy Oman, “Where are you taking us?” Crazy Oman replies, “My master is not far now,” as he points forward; Nong can barely make out a huge pit in the ground ahead of them. “We are going to the Pit of Blasphemous Dark to summon him. Keep those seahorses alive until then,” he says licking his lips while staring at Nong. Nong, Naismith, Mordrock and Royce give each other an unsettling and suspicious look after hearing the news. “I don’t trust him one bit,” says Naismith. “I have heard stories about a great ancient city in the ocean depths that resembles this. A great terrifying god is rumored to be asleep there. I only hope Oman is not taking us to meet a god,” says Royce.

An hour later they approach a large pit one hundred feet in diameter. The pit descends into darkness and the walls consist of a black iridescent material that appears to undulate when you focus on them. Crazy Oman begins to dive into the pit and motions the group to follow him. The seahorses buck and cry out, resisting approaching the pit. The party calms their seahorses except for Beatrice who refuses to acquiesce to Naismith’s gentle pets until Royce interjects and calms her down. Nong stares down into the pit and even with the help of the Robe of Eyes, he cannot see anything except darkness below.

Reluctantly, the party descends together.

The descent into the pit is quite unsettling and it causes everyone’s sanity to begin to slip. The seahorses, Lela and the party are unable to mentally resist the alien environment and its ability to wreak havoc on their minds; Royce and Mordrock notice their seahorses acting odd and so is Lela. Royce, Naismith, Nong and Mordrock also feel an entity probe their thoughts, absorbing everything about who the party is and what they are looking for. They have felt entities probe their minds before, and often are not strong enough to prevent such intrusions.

The descent at the bottom narrows until the diameter is fifteen feet across. Crazy Oman stands below looking toward the northern black wall. “The summoning chamber is through here,” as he disappears through the northern black wall. Nong moves up to the wall and sticks his head through; instantly he feels another attack on his sanity sucking more away. He does see beyond the black wall however, a large cavern with a dais and stone wall seventy feet ahead. He motions back to the party and heads through. As each creature disappears through the wall, it feels more of its sanity slip away. By now, the seahorses are doing loops in the water and Lela is hysterically laughing, unable to control herself. Royce decides to cast Greater Restoration on himself to halt the consequences.

The summoning chamber is surrounded by black iridescent walls that form a protective barrier around it, except for a twenty foot entrance directly across from the wall the party exited. Crazy Oman swims up to the dais and spreads his hands across the stone wall; this wall resembles the stone wall that became a portal after he smeared his worm’s blood across it. The chamber is dark except for Royce’s sword, who is barely emanating enough light which is abnormal; Royce feels uneasiness from his sword, a feeling he has not felt from it, in a very long time.

The party looks around and sees corridors leading off in both the East and West directions which all end with black walls. No one else appears to be in the chamber with them. Crazy Oman motions them to approach the wall. “You must do what I did with my worm to summon my master. The creature must be alive when you rub its blood across the wall and rub until it dies within your grasp,” he proclaims as he swims above the party watching intently for their next move. Naismith is very uneasy about this and just scowls at Crazy Oman; Nong takes Pony up to the stone wall and looks back to the others, who reluctantly follow him.

Blood fills the water as the screaming seahorses collapse as their death takes hold. Lela sitting behind the group begins to cry and hold herself as she witnesses this gruesome act. The wall begins to absorb the blood. The party releases their dead seahorses and steps back from the dais. The wall begins to churn and soften into viscous black goo. Suddenly, Gigantic black tentacles shoot out of the wall and spread out above the party into the chamber. A huge bulbous body follows as it moves onto the dais spewing a dark green aura all around it. The writhing tentacles surround each party member as they hear a loud voice in their minds, “You have summoned the great Yokagoggar! Bow before me for I know all that you seek!” The Drow’s Bane flinch as the loud voice speaks to them and notice Crazy Oman groveling on the ground next to the dais. Then, Crazy Oman speaks in Deep Speech, “Mighty master, I have brought you these servants who seek your wisdom. They need your guidance and in return, will serve you as I do.” Nong stares back at Crazy Oman in disgust as he comprehends the speech.

All is silent in everyone’s mind except for Nong. “You hold power…you serve…Orcus…no mortal can grasp the wand’s true power…,” says Yokagoggar telepathically to Nong. “Bring the wand to me and I will spare your miserable existence…the wand is no longer yours orc…it is your gift to me…NOW!!!”

Nong can feel the wand’s emotional response swell up inside him; he feels its anger, rage and hunger for destruction. Nong wickedly smiles, moves closer to Yokagoggar, and holds the wand out; as opposed to surrendering, he attacks the huge creature instead.

With the tension in the room now released thanks to Nong, Royce, Naismith and Mordrock spring into action. Yokagoggar responds by spewing out a black ink that causes psychic damage and eats away at the party’s sanity causing more Greater Restoration spells to be cast in response. The ink covers the whole area including Lela, who is huddled on the ground; she stops moving as soon as she comes into contact with it.

The party can hear in their minds the rage and confidence of Yokagoggar as it continues to strike every party member. Crazy Oman responds by attacking the party with lightning strikes, while screaming “Traitors! You shall be punished for your treachery!!” Two large creatures emerge from the black walls behind the party; the misshapen creatures, who are all arms and teeth, swim close to the party and unleash a fury of blows connecting with everyone around them. The battle continues with the party enduring punishing blows by the creatures, Yokagoggar spewing sanity cleansing ink and Oman casting spells.

There is a twinkle in Nong’s eye as he moves to a misshapen creature, strikes it several times, followed by a snap of his fingers; the result, instant death for the creature. Nong’s next victim is Crazy Oman, followed by the second misshapen creature. As the tide of battle shifts in favor of the Drow’s Bane, Nong feels for the first time, fear from Yokagoggar.

The party continues to wail on the huge creature until Nong hears in his mind, “ENOUGH! Let me live and I will show you what you are looking for.” Nong screams out, “Halt! It wants to negotiate!” as Royce, Mordrock and Naismith hold their next attack in response. Nong swims closer to Yokagoggar and says, “show us the way foul creature and I will let you live. Foolishness means instant death!” as he raises the wand preparing to strike.

Yokagoggar begins to crawl backwards through the wall as its tentacles lash out and penetrate the mouths, noses and eyes of the Drow’s Bane. Immediately they feel images being implanted into their minds from the tentacle invasion. They imagine a path starting from just beyond the Citadel of 10,000 Pearls descending into the depths of the Fathomless Caves. The path winds through cracks and crevices, breaching through lairs of unfamiliar creatures and continuing into a cavern filled with green water and more unfamiliar creatures. Beyond, the path continues to where the water crests, to reveal an air filled cavern.

The tentacles release themselves from the intrusion and slip back into the wall; Yokagoggar is gone from the summoning chamber. The Drow’s Bane take a deep breath and register what just happened to them. Royce sees the body of Lela and swims toward her. He lifts her into his hands and casts a resurrection spell that breathes life back into her body. She opens her eyes, sees Royce’s face smiling down upon her, and begins to cry in overwhelming emotion. Royce embraces her and whispers to her, “it will be alright, Lela, we will be home soon.”

Nong and Mordrock decide to explore the cavern for treasure. Mordrock looks through a black wall, which zaps his sanity, to find a smaller chamber beyond. He moves into the chamber that contains a large number of pods fastened to the walls, ceiling and floor. He notices the pods agitate as he approaches them. He glances around the room but finds nothing of interest. When he moves too close to a pod, a tentacle bursts out of it and swipes at Mordrock who runs back out of the wall, taking another sanity hit. He explains to the party what he found at the same time an annoyed Naismith exclaims, “Let’s get out of here now. We don’t need any treasure as we survived with our lives and got what we came for!”

Nong and Mordrock ignore Naismith and explore the black wall behind the summoning chamber. Mordrock steps through it expecting to find a chamber for the cost of his sanity but realizes the wall is dense. If he steps further in, it will cost more sanity. He pulls the rope signaling for Nong to pull him out.

The final attempt at a treasure hunt is from the Ethereal Plane where the party and Lela go next. Mordrock and Nong penetrate the thick black wall; they continue walking for fifteen minutes until the wall opens into a small chamber; fortunately, their ethereal plane movement does not cost them their sanity. Inside the chamber they see Yokagoggar on top a mass of coins and items; four small structures surround it channeling dark energy into the huge creature. “It’s healing which is not good!” says Royce.

Mordrock and Nong focus but struggle to make out any details besides coins that Yokogoggar is sitting upon. The party spends five minutes debating whether or not to materialize into the chamber to steal treasure, before making a hasty escape across the planes. As they get enough courage to do so, Royce detects Yokagoggar has noticed them from the Ethereal Plane. “Shit! He sees us. He knows we are here!”

With that, the party decides to abandon ship and recall themselves back to Catchbreeze, empty handed.

Journey to Fate’s doorstep: en route to the master

Half day into their descent toward the Darkened Depths, the party unexpectedly crosses through a strong current. Crazy Oman and his mount are carried away, so is Royce, Nong and Naismith along with their mounts. Mordrock and Lela manage to stay mounted, fighting against the current as they watch their comrades quickly float away. Mordrock also catches a glimpse of several shapes below swimming up toward the excitement. He casts a protective barrier around himself and Lela and prays that will be enough. Moments later sharks circle around them trying to penetrate the barrier to gain access to their next meal.

Nong holds onto Pony, takes out his grappling hook and rope and flings it toward Naismith who manages to catch it in the fast current; he swims toward Nong and hopes together, they can grab Beatrice as she passes by. Royce casts Control Water and is able to push the current upwards behind Mordrock and Lela. Successfully he also manages to catch the sharks in the current’s redirection and sends them upwards away from the party. Together they catch their breadth, wait for Crazy Oman to catch up and descend as soon as possible.

When the first day of travel draws to a close, Royce casts Daern’s Instant Fortress and the party swims inside recognizing there is no solid ground in any direction for them to camp on. Inside they make camp and Royce takes first watch. Besides hearing a massive rumble somewhere far below them in the deep dark, nothing else happens. It is not until early morning does Naismith notice Crazy Oman leave the fortress and swim to the second floor, where he takes out an obsidian statue and begins praying, including slicing his palm and rubbing his blood all over the statue. When he returns to camp, Naismith notices outside the fortress is now filled with sharks hungry for blood. The party takes pot-shots at the sharks from the fortress’s arrow slits eventually scaring the hunters away.

During next day travels, Naismith alerts the others about Crazy Oman’s ‘prayer’; which makes the party further suspicious about their guide’s motives. By late afternoon, the party sees a large land mass coming into view where they agree to make camp. Tonight everyone agrees to sleep in the Ethereal Plane in order to observe Crazy Oman.

During the night, Crazy Oman awakes and moves toward Pony who has been deteriorating in the presence of the Wand of Orcus. The prior evening, Royce had to cast Greater Restoration on Pony to keep him alive. Tonight, Crazy Oman takes out his dagger and drags the blade across Pony’s skin while Crazy Oman smiles and licks his lips; the blade does not cut Pony but glides back and forth across the sea horse’s skin. After a minute, Crazy Oman returns to the second floor to pray.

In the early morning, Royce notices from the Ethereal Plane, the sea horses are freaking out and Daern’s Instant Fortress is shaking! He warns the others and as they return to the Elemental Plane of Water where they witness what feels and sounds like an earthquake. They rush to gather their belongings and mounts and collapse the fortress. Three hundred feet away Nong reappears in the water and sees the ground on which they camped on last night, belong to a great beast moving away from this location. He swims toward the party to warn them and the party does everything in its power to escape safely from the back of the beast.

The third day the party learns from their guide the destination is seven more days of travel into darkness. When they stop for a mid-day meal, Mordrock casts Geas on Crazy Oman commanding him to obey the Drow’s Bane, for the next thirty days. Crazy Oman succumbs to Mordrock’s spell and Nong begins the questioning.

“What is that statue you pray to?” asks Nong.
Crazy Oman obliges, “it is a statue of my master.”
“Who is your master?”
“My master is Yokaggogar.”
The party is puzzled by the name and no one can recall any memory of such a being. Nong hears a familiar voice inside his head and gives into the call. “I know this being Nong,” says the dark voice inside Nong’s head. Nong turns away from the party, grips the wand and responds, “Tell me who this thing is.” Instantly Nong feels the wand suck a piece of his life force away as payment for the information. “Yokaggogar is an ancient star spawn proto-ooze from the Far Realm,” responds the satiated dark voice. Nong turns toward the party and shares this information.

Everyone feels uneasy hearing Nong’s news but realizes they are half-way into the Darkened Depths with no other lead to follow. Royce decides to take a chance on expediting the voyage by casting Wind Walk on the party; except he realizes that only eleven creatures can go.

“Leave your worm behind as we don’t have enough room for my spell to include it,” says Royce.
Crazy Oman replies, “I cannot do that for the worm contains enough blood for the sacrifice to enter the portal.”
“What portal?” exclaims Royce.
“The portal to see my master,” says Crazy Oman.
Royce, Nong, Naismith and Mordrock stare at each other, surprised with how this story continues to unfold.

After a debate, Lela jumps off Red Shirt who has been chosen to stay behind and be set free. Naismith shakes his head in disgust knowing full well the party is giving Red Shirt a death sentence as soon as he is freed to roam the Darkened Depths alone. After Mordrock gives Red Shirt his final meal, Naismith creeps up to the sea horse and slits his throat. Crazy Oman is the first to detect the blood in the water and licks his lips while everyone else is horrified. “I cannot let this poor sea horse succumb to a gruesome death, it is just not right. I did what’s best for him no let’s go!” cries Naismith.

Royce casts Wind Walk and the spell transforms the eleven survivors into gas; the gas is mobile in the water and they are able to descend through the depths at an increased speed. By evening time, they reach the portal saving four days in travel time. They materialize and swim towards a large obsidian stone. Crazy Oman approaches first with his sea worm, takes out his dagger and slices the worm’s throat open. As it convulses toward death, Crazy Oman forces the sea worm’s neck against the rock and rubs the blood all over it while chanting in deep speech. Dark runes begin to glow across the surface transforming the center into a thick, viscous mucous, too dark to see through. “Come…,” says Crazy Oman, “the master is near…,” as he enters the black womb and disappears.

Royce sees Lela crying and grabs her hand, then grabs Sparkle and pulls both into the portal. The others grab their mounts and do the same.

Journey to Fate’s doorstep: making final preparations

The Bubbles and Baubles festival’s crescendo happens tonight!

Brass drums are lining up along every street; their beautiful melody travels up and down the corridors adding vibrancy and energy to the crowds, who stroll along blowing bubbles, singing and laughing.

The Drow’s Bane make their way towards a stable near the City’s entrance where they plan to procure mounts for tomorrow’s travels with their guide, Crazy Oman. They approach a fifty foot tank of water where inside they see the stable and a locathah who motions them to ‘swim’ up to the top to enter. “Welcome to Maris’s Stable,” says the locathah in Aquan. With the exception of Naismith, the three others have figured out how to communicate in the Elemental Plane of Water’s native language. “We need five mounts for a week,” says Nong, making sure their guide will be covered in case Crazy Oman does not have a mount of his own. “Very well I can help you with your need. I have five beautiful sea horse mounts I can rent for a week,” replies Maris. Like everything in the City of Glass, the price is high but the party has enough funds to easily pay for it.

“You must take our training class today if you want the mounts tomorrow morning,” says Maris; the party decides to return after lunch for training. “I’ll see you in a few hours then,” says Maris, “but before you go, you must name your ponies!” he proclaims. “They will respond to their names if you treat them well. Come let me get the ponies for you so you can name them now before training.” Maris excuses himself and goes to fetch the sea horses.

Royce bonds with his horse naming him Sparkle; Nong bonds with his horse and calls him Pony. Naismith chooses Beatrice and Mordrock, Samantha. The fifth horse is left standing there. “Someone has to bond with the last horse or he won’t pay attention to your group,” says Maris. Royce steps up and bonds with the fifth horse calling him, Red Shirt.

After an afternoon of lunch and sea horse training, the Drow’s Bane curiously wade into the Chain District, where one can buy slaves. The first rows of stalls they come across are filled with animals and beasts of burden for sale. As they make their way deeper into the stalls they notice the product changes from animals to a colorful race of humanoids they have never seen before. These ‘slaves’ are not bound in chains nor are they being mistreated by their Sahuagin handlers; no, in fact some are singing or dancing while others practice acrobatics. The party is surprised to see this when they are greeted by a Sahuagin. “You looking to buy? We have the best trained genasi slaves in all of the city, and the best prices too!” smiles the Sahuagin.

Twenty minutes later the Drow’s Bane exit the Chain District with Royce’s new purchase, Lela, a female water genasi slave who is trained in singing. She keeps her head down and follows her new master, somewhat disappointed she was not purchased by one of the aristocratic Marids. Naismith is not okay with this purchase and just keeps to himself the disappointment of what just happened; however he also concludes that nothing should surprise him anymore about these comrades he runs with.

They arrive back at the Laughing Sea Horse where Royce hopes to see Talina at the bar. As they enter, he looks around and unfortunately, Talina is not there; Naismith moves quickly past the group and heads straight for the bar. Urteya, who is at reception, raises an eye brow when she sees Lila walk in behind the party. “Excuse me, but will you need another bed tonight for your…guest?” says Urteya. Royce, Nong and Mordrock turn around and greet Urteya than look back at Lila. “Who’s purchase is that?” replies Urteya with a look of surprise. Royce and Mordrock look at each other and then Mordrock points to Naismith sitting at the bar. “I see, well I can arrange for a cot to be brought to that gentleman’s room for…her,” responds Urteya, not impressed.

“Her name is Lela,” says Royce as he introduces Lela to Urteya; Lela looks up and gives a bow before moving behind Royce, keeping her head down. Urteya smiles in response then looks at Royce, “Do you understand what you just did? To be honest, I don’t get many Material Plane tourists who purchase slaves, so let me educate you on something,” she responds. Royce, Nong and Mordrock seem interested in hearing what Urteya has to say that they unconsciously step closer to her. “Slaves on this plane perform a role in society very different than what you may experience in your home world. Here, they are raised as entertainers who also know how to take care and provide for their masters; they are taught that it is a great honor to serve the Marid genies. They are not to be abused nor are they expected to do hard labor; we have beasts of burden for such things. It is against the law to mistreat a slave and if you are caught doing so, you will be punished!” says Urteya. Royce, Modrock and Nong digest this information, nod and respond, “thank you Urteya for your guidance. We will ensure Lela is taken good care of.”

That evening, Royce takes Lela onto the patio to watch the finale of the festival. “Would you like me to sing for you master?” says Lela in Aquan. Royce quickly casts Tongues on himself and when he understands her, nods in agreement. Lela begins singing and Royce is impressed that her voice is very beautiful; he gets comfortable in his chair, stretches a bit and then gives Lela a big smile of approval.

Mordorck, Naismith and Nong sit in Mordrock’s room with the two crates of souls. “I can perform a ritual, praying to Kelemvor to welcome these souls into his domain,” says Mordrock. “Yes, I think that is the best we can do for these poor things,” responds Naismith. Mordrock picks up a soul jar, opens it and stares into it; inside he sees a small light of energy. He begins to chant the ritual in dwarvish, calling to Kelemvor to shepherd this soul’s journey to the Fugue plane. Mordrock feels his deity’s power as Mordrock wills the vulnerable soul to approach his breadth. Naismith and Nong watch as the small light in the jar begins to levitate out, and approach Mordrock’s mouth. Mordrock inhales slowly bringing the soul to his lips, gently kissing it before exhaling and blowing it away. Naismith and Nong, watch as the soul moves away from Mordorck’s mouth, swaying up into the the room and then fading away.

Mordrock sits back, takes a moment and reflects on what just happened. Kelemvor during the ritual revealed to Mordrock, how easy it is to control a soul’s destiny. With a good ritual, a soul can be released and freed but with an evil ritual, the soul can be released and consumed for its life force; the power balance over souls is very dangerous. Mordrock glances over at the Wand of Orcus and stares at it for a moment; he realizes the danger of conducting this ritual so close to something that feeds on souls. He is about to say something to Nong, when all three of them hear shouting from the lounge downstairs, “hey! this drink has spoiled!…you brought me rotten food! I want my money back!!!” Nong looks down at the wand then says, “Umm…got to go,” as he jumps up, exits the room and quickly leaves the Laughing Seahorse inn.

Naismith looks at the crates and counts how many soul jars remain. “One freed and one hundred ninety nine to go,” he smiles. Mordrock and Naismith spend the next several hours freeing the remaining souls. That evening during Nong and Mordrock’s long rest in the Ethereal Plane, Mordrock is rewarded by Kelemvor for his good deed; when Mordrock awakes the next morning, he feels more refreshed than ever.

The Drow’s Bane and Lela make their way to Maris’s stable bright and early. As they mount up and exit the City of Glass, they see one hundred feet away, Crazy Oman, mounted on a large sea worm. He gives a toothy smile in their direction, then focuses his attention on Lela. Royce instructs Lela to ride Red Shirt and beckons the sea horse to stay close behind him. The party heads toward their guide. Crazy Oman greets them and says, “Let us go see the master…,” as the large sea worm begins swimming downward. As the Drow’s Bane follow, they notice behind them the beautiful domed City of Glass with its large ice foundation getting smaller and smaller in the distance.