Aeon Zen

Grand Finale

Shadowblade

Djinn devil

The Djinn Devil is furious at the arrival of Lady Oscar, yet another contender for his hell throne, and allying with Tobin. He calls forth a wish to trap the injured Tobin with him inside a pentagram. The ground inside the pentagram starts collapsing beneath her feet. Lady Oscar tries to reach Tobin, but to no use.

“Not even a wish could undo that barrier”, the devil says to Lady Oscar, amused at her attempts to punch through it.

“How fortunate for me, since my dagger is made of a hundred wishes.”

Lady Oscar plunges her weapon Shadowblade into the wall of force, and opens a tear through which she dives in after Tobin, who is already falling. The pit seems to be miles above ground, if you could call lava ‘ground’, and at the bottom a hellish throne surrounded by jagged rocks. Faust uses his skills in space time manipulation to keep the tear from closing just long enough for his nimble halfling frame to go through. The pentagram then disappears from sight.

Brothers in Arms

Back at the castle, Lazpad Shadowfox still thirsts for blood against his half-brother. He sends one of his tiger warriors to attack Mazith, who is clinging on to a fallen bridge on the other side the chasm. The tiger-man grabs Mazith by the throat, but the sly warrior is able to wiggle himself free, and kicks himself off from the wall with one of his gravity defying jumps, landing next to his brother to end this confrontation once and for all. Rad Longhammer does not want to be left behind, so he uses his meditation skills to appear on the correct side of the chasm, bringing Aishe Malinova with him. Aishe uses her powerful voice to force her enemies to dance to her deadly tune, maneuvering them to the edge of the cliff with lava beneath. Rad charges into the other tiger warrior, and the beast is pushed and falls into the lava and burns. Aishe forces the final tiger warrior to let go of the swinging bridge, and he too falls and burns.

Lazpad prepares for his final assault against Mazith.

Skyfall

Hell

The Djinn devil opens his wings to slow down his descent, planning to watch Tobin and Lady Oscar fall to their deaths. An arrow pierces him through the mouth, with a golden rope attached to it with Tobin’s mastery of the Starlit Bow of Sagittarius. With one hand she holds on to the rope, and with the other she grabs on to Lady Oscar to prevent her from falling, swinging beneath the winged devil. His attacks miss, since the two ladies are immune to his inner fire of hatred and to his aura of fear, as they start becoming demons. Lady Oscar climbs through the rope and sinks in Shadowblade into the devil’s chest. In anger he stabs Tobin in the leg with his poisoned tail, and swiping it to push Tobin away.

Faust is about to lose sight of the struggling pair of lovers, so he uses his flight abilities to propel himself downwards at even more exhilarating speeds. After crushing several blocks of falling debris with his head, he gets close enough to cast a featherfall spell on the ladies to prevent them from plummeting to their deaths. With the added stability, Tobin takes aim and uses her split the tree technique to shoot two simultaneous arrows at the devil, each of them splitting the bones on his wings in half. The devil being the devil, decides to make Tobin pay a high price for his throne, and holds on to Lady Oscar with massive arms as they are about to collide with the jagged rocks beneath. Lady Oscar uses her free arm to hold on to Shadowblade, and slices an X into the devil’s injured chest, barely digging into his ribcage.

The X-mark that Oscar slashes on the chest of the Devil is a reference to Tobin’s and Oscar’s old sparring sessions. Oscar would quickly slice an “X” on the practice dummies and Tobin would have to land an arrow in the point of her mark. When Tobin sees the mark on the Devil, Oscar and her were already on the same page and they are in motion to execute their routine strike. This combo attack had become one of their staple movements that gained infamy during their time in the Strike Team. Tobin takes aim, shoots, and the arrow goes through the weakened armored skin of the devil, between exposed ribs, and into his heart. The cold grip of death makes his relax his hold on Lady Oscar, and he plummets into the lava as the two ladies fall like feathers into the vacant throne of this realm.

Cliffhanger

Cliffhanger

Quick as a feline, Lazpad Shadowfox sneaks past Rad and Aishe and lunges into Mazith. The warrior digs his heels in, and avoid being thrown into the lava pit. Lazpad’s momentum carries him over and he holds on to the Shadowfox Family Armor that Mazith wears. Lazpad is finally touching the inheritance from Cynthia Shadowfox, that he claims should be his by right. But Mazith received it from his father the Olympic swimmer Hazmat, and is disgusted at the scene of his half-brother holding on to it. With a powerful slice of his sword he cuts off both of Lazpad’s hands! His half-brother flails but there’s nothing more to hold on to, all his chances are gone, and he falls into the lava and his hatred is consumed by the fire.

Mazith picks up the hands of the fallen warrior. They will make a great gift for Cynthia Shadowfox.

Devil Legion

Faust teleports the trio back into the castle. With her new found power and status, Tobin summons the denizens of her realm. Jazz’ari and Saif-al-Din appear and ask for freedom from the chains of tyranny of their previous ruler. Tobin and Mariel grant it and the enslaved djinns are able to exercise their magic. A hundred of them are summoned to aid the ritual to help them redefine history, but they can only send the group back in time for the same amount that the group remain inside the ritual circle. The group gets prepared, and camps inside the ritual aura for five days, sending them back five days before the start of the ritual, to possess their former selves.

Tobin says goodbye to Lady Oscar, who stays behind to guard the Djinn realm from other devil contenders, and the group disappears from sight.

Thief of Legend

Stolen memory

Tobin aims the ballista bolt that Mazith had positioned just seconds earlier. It crashes into a lich in service of Orcus, and from its pouch drops a magical portal scroll. In a few hours, the Freak Squad will use it to establish Faust’s base, but right now their future versions have replaced their former selves, and they need to change these current events that happened in their past.

Mazith savors the moment that defined his epic destiny, and he learned much from observing first hand Lolth’s robbery of fate from The Raven Queen. He is ready to match and outdo her stealth and thieving skills. As the spirit of Jania Goldenflight appears, he sneaks behind her and strikes directly at her mind with nimble fingers that can steal even intangible objects. In it she finds the true name of The Raven Queen, given to her by the former God of the Dead Nerull. This was confided to Jania under Lolth’s veil of deceit, which tricked Nerull’s remains into believing Vecna would use the name against the Raven Queen to blackmail her into reviving Nerull. In reality, Lolth had been planning this deceit for a decade just to put her nemesis in a vulnerable combat position, so that the spider goddess might reclaim Fate for herself. Now that Nerull’s remains were eradicated and the memory stolen from Jania’s mind, only Mazith knows the godess’ human name.

Further prodding in Jania’s mind, Mazith sees a soul in turmoil, one that sacrificed honor and morals to uphold freedom. A life of service for Chedhurst that could never be recognized. And a heart that had been broken by the breakup of the Strike Team, leaving her to become a monster to defeat worse monsters living in the ugly underbelly of the kingdom. In an act of compassion that he wouldn’t even share with his own family members, Mazith steals those memories away, leaving Jania’s soul at peace, free of guilt and hatred. Jania’s soul says goodbye to Tobin, and the soul of the Carnival fortune teller, which had stuck around for this moment, holds Jania’s hand and together they leave towards an eternity of rest in the realm of the dead.

Fate

Clairvoyance

Tobin is able to spot Lolth, in her tiny spider form, waiting in ambush for Jania to weaken the Raven Queen. As she sees Jania’s soul leave, she gets ready to attempt her attack regardless. Tobin lets loose two arrows with golden ropes attached to them, which pass through the spider’s body an into the ground behind, anchoring Lolth.

In the mean time, Aishe Malinova has been busy aiding her comrades and allies to gain the upper hand in the fight against the avatar of Orcus. Faust is able to plan his attack better, and casts featherfall on himself to prevent plummeting to his death as before. Rad Longhammer uses Aishe’s aid to avoid attacks from Orcus, lest the tian inside his former body, Hyperion, be awakened by divine energy. Aishe then grants her goddess an action of fate. With it, she changes her tactic, and instead of creating an icicle by grabbing the storm clouds with her hand, she uses two hands to grab two separate icicles to use against Orcus. And the weapons crystallize, Faust transforms into lightning itself and descends right into Orcus’ core as the Raven Queen embeds both weapons in a crisscross pattern into the skeleton’s ribcage. Thanks to the preparation, Rad is able to avoid the falling Orcus’ avatar and the icicles from the Winter goddess as they fall.

Seeing her carefully laid out plan disintegrate before her eyes, Lolth gives up on her quest and dissapears from the Shadowfell back into her own realm.

With Rad’s Titan still sleeping, the group plan their return back to the future. Rad uses his new meditation powers to infuse his brain in this present with calm instead of anger.

Faust wants to hide Mazith’s secret of The Raven Queen’s human identity even from himself, so he uses his magical powers of persuasion to make him think that it is another name. Of course Mazith is now a god-like thief, so he hides his secret from Faust and steals from the changeling’s mind the notion that anything went wrong. In the end, Faust believes he was successful at having Mazith remember another name and does not question it further, and Mazith believes he was successful at hiding some name from Faust and does not question if its the correct one, either. The current nature of the Raven Queen’s secret remains ambiguous.

Truce at Olympus

Hinrik

Once back in the Djinn realm, neither Saif-al-Din nor Jazz’ari can remember why the group left in the first place, since no Titans have attacked Aeon Zen. Rad realizes that his calm thought prevented him from looking for a fight with his creator Rhotlzhogok. Armed, prepared, and with the wizard help of Faust’s allies, they attack the mind flayer’s tower with little problem, and save all of Rad’s monster siblings and preserve the fleshy prisons of the remaining eleven titans.

The group takes all the hosts into Hinrik, the location of the Path of the Titans and Chrysanthe Xene’s birthplace. In the mountain Olympus, the graveyard of the gods of old, their descendants the new gods are summoned to lock away the Titan threat. The very existence of the gods are at stake, and they all show up in the most varied, tense and uncomfortable meeting of this era. Lolth and Orcus look particularly angry, but they stand side by side with their enemies as one by one the titan prisons are removed from the monster hosts, Rad included, and locked away in the center of the planet.

The Freak Squad have saved Aeon Zen.

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Devil May Cry

The Power Within

Power within

Rad, Aishe and Faust contact their respective gods to warn them of what’s to come. They are at a loss since the pantheon of gods is unprepared and outmatched by the Titans. The divine entities contact each other, crossing alignment and philosophical barriers to save Aeon Zen.

After re-examining the past events, the Freak Squad realizes that divine intervention fueled the the Titan awakening, and thus it must be avoided during their plan. Hence when going back to fix the unfortunate chain of events that dooms the world, they can not receive help from the gods, lest their presence awaken the Titans in the past. The group must rely on their own skills to return.

Devil’s Advocate

Pentagram

One key missing skill that they need is Tobin’s mastery of wishes, an for that they must travel to the Abyss. One way to enter is through the Fiend’s Nightmare in the Badlands. However, Faust contacts his associate Daemon Mathews in the sewers of Timbermoor and informs him of the situation.

The demon summoner lays out a plan to summon some demons of equal power as the heroes from the layer of the Abyss where the Djinn’s are located, and then swap locations with the party members. The procedure is risky since the summoning circles will be compromised and the demons will be set free in the summoning area once the Freak Squad has been transported. Daemon requests some assistance, and Fast is most grateful to fulfill that request with his other asociates

Faust’s allies

The Wizard Mahr – a doddering old human mage with a thing for air magics set out to pasture by the Order and no longer taken serious. He was one of Faust’s earliest and most beloved of tutors in magic.

Trent Highcastle, a young human mage with a bent for natural magics and dwarven alchemy, subjects often snubbed by the Order. Faust has always encouraged the young man in his studies, feeling akin to the man’s outcast status. Recently Faust has provided him with contacts in the dwarf and shaman lands for research correspondence in thanks for his assistance on the Shadowfell.

Natasha Thorn, a middle-aged human woman past her prime, she used to teach at the academy before being stripped of her position for having too many dalliances with her male and female students. She has an affinity for enchantments. The only other mage besides Sandman aware of Faust’s true changeling nature, he has a good idea what ‘favor’ she may require of him given he can change into any form she desires… Faust sighs

Charade

Tobin demon

The ritual is ready and as the party leaves into the Abyss, the mages back in the material plane are left battling the summoned demons. A great castle pierces the horizon, so the party walks there in search of the Djinn devil. Tobin lets go of her demonic nature, shaping her body into that of a devil. Faust on the other hand uses his changeling and flying abilities to mimic an imp in service of the demon Tobin, who is taking Aishe Malinova, Mazith and Rad Longhammer as prisoners.

The farce seems to work well except for a flying demon who gets curious about the parade. He speaks in deep speech! Tobin struggles to pantomime her dominance over the visitor to send him away without giving up her disguise. Faust has a magic item that translates for him, and does most of the talking for Tobin, receiving physical punishment from the demon for daring to speak. Still not being able to speak, Tobin backhands the intruder, with hidden magical help from Aishe. The demon is pushed back by the force and decides to leave, not without first kicking Faust the imp on his way out.

The Devil’s Due

Djinn devil

The party crosses a bridge over lava and arrives at the castle gates. The Djinn devil lands in front of the party, welcoming Tobin, who in response shoots him with three arrows before he even realizes what’s happening. Infuriated, the devil uses his new powers from enslaving the Djinns to wish upon the party their greatest menace.

Lazpad Shadowfox appears upon the wish, since he had already contacted the devil to find Mazith’s whereabouts. Lazpad quickly uses an orb of darkness to hide and strikes viciously against all the adventurer’s before they can react. His entourage includes Rakshasa, the tiger people, who aid him in keeping Mazith and his companions occupied.

Meanwhile, Lazpad’s pet panther attacks Tobin, the constant pummeling leaving her dazed and at the mercy of the devil. While she is able to resist his aura of fire and fear, her friends are not as lucky. As if guided by fate, Aishe, Mazith and Rad all strike true against Lazpad. He retreats while cutting off the ropes of the bridge, leaving Mazith hanging precariously over the lava pool.

Tobin is fighting a losing battle alone against the devil. As he is about to strike and throw her into the lava, a shadow races down the walls of the castle, leaps in front of Tobin and parries the devil’s attack with a dagger. Lady Oscar made it into the Abyss on her own, and is now fighting by Tobin’s side.

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Titanic Threat

Rhotlzhogok and Rad Longhammer have come to an understanding to ship the titans to another plane, so they start bringing up the hosts. Aishe Malinova’s bardic knowledge confirms the mind flayer story about his people and the githyanki, but she nevertheless thinks there must be a better, safer way to handle the titans and save the hosts. She confronts Rad about it in a very cramped room with mind flayers, the Freak Squad, the hosts and a portal to the Astral plane.

Bard’s Gamble

Githyanki planet

The illithids are eager to start their attack, but Aishe retaliates their arguments with how they were going to control the titans in the first place. The mind flayer replies that he does not intend to control them, but only release them, and that they would make the world in which they were released their own. Aishe presses on and eventually persuades Rad to stop them. She casts an invisibility spell on Rad that puts the illithids on high alert. Unsure what to do, Rad channels Pelor’s radiant energy into one of the vessels about to cross over. The host screams in agony as the Titan inside her awakens at the touch of divine energy, and a battle with the mind flayers restarts. Their psychic energy dazes the party, but something more threatening is occurring. The awakened titan calls for her brethren to awaken like him. The mind flayers start losing control of their conditioned hosts. They tell Rad that if he and his friends continue attacking they would take the titans that they can as they leave Aeon Zen, leaving the rest to destroy their world. Rad calls to halt the battle, but the mind flayers are done listening to arguments and weigh in their options.

The Awakening

Titan inside

Faust decides that something must be done with the emerging Titan, and uses a bluff to pretend he has tripped, pushing the dying host through the portal. Aishe also uses a bluff spell to make the some of the illithids chase after her. Rad Longhammer is furious about the actions of Faust and Aishe, since he realizes that sacrifices have to be made to help save the entire world. As if to back his argument, the situation turns more dire. With the titans awakening, the mind flayers needed to concentrate heavily to keep their hosts minds’ under control. But Aishe sent them to another plane and the mind control of the hosts in the room weakens dramatically, helping other titans wake up. One host in particular is still downstairs and its Titan is close to liberating himself of his prison of flesh.

Rad’s Choice

Walking away

The rest of the mind flayers decide to take as many hosts as possible through the portal and leave the rest behind. Tobin and Mazith help ferry all the hosts through while Aishe Malinova and Faust try to catch up to Rhotlzhogok. Eventually the only one left in the room is Rad Longhammer with his plans shattered. He wonders if he should just leave his comrades to their own luck and seal the portal to prevent the world from enduring whatever calamity his friends would bring upon it.

Rad decides to join his friends in the Astral sea, and the portal closes behind him.

Clash of the Titans

Cronos

Aishe has caught up to the hosts being ferried by Rhotlzhogok into a teleportation portal, likely to be deposited in the surface of the Githyanki planet. She tries to stop them and the mind flayer starts to stop her. Far away, the rest of the mind flayers evaluate their situation and leave the plane through a conjured portal, but not before a goodbye present from Tobin that their exit a bloody one.

Meanwhile, Rad and Faust have caught up to the Rhotlzhogok and Aishe, who is blocking the hosts from entering the portal to the planet. The host that has been battling its Titan succumbs to his power, and dies as the Titan Cronos emerges from him. He is furious to realize his brothers and sisters had been put to sleep, and with a rude awakening all Titans rise and all hosts die. Aishe and Rhotlzhogok start assigning blame to persuade the titan. Hyperion sees his opportunity and asks his elder brother to release him from his prison. Cronos opens the divine locks that keep the Sun Titan locked within Rad, and Hyperion brutally makes his way out of Rad, nearly killing him.

Cronos recognizes the divine signature of Pelor and Bahamut, so Rhotlzhogok persuades him to attack Aeon Zen to enact vengeance on the gods who imprisoned them in slumber. Aishe counters that they are not even the same gods, but Chronus is furious regardless since they are the offspring of the original gods. Things are looking grim for the party, so Aishe uses her silver tongue to convince Cronos to attack neither Aeon Zen nor the Githyanki planet, but the illithid planet, since it was the illithids who were using the Titans for their own plots. Cronos kills Rhotlzhogok with a thought at the offense, and considers Aishe’s offer. But the thirst for vengeance is as big as the wish to conquer an unguarded planet. So he leaves it to luck to see which planet would have the honor and curse of hosting the Titans. Faust asks for a chance at this event, and rolls the dice. Aeon Zen is doomed, and the Titans rejoice at the prospect of vengeance against the gods. They leave to recover in preparation for their assault.

Aeon Zen

Back in time

Faust uses his portal powers to return them to Aeon Zen. The world seems at peace, with no wars, no apocalyptic creatures, no further ploys from the gods. Only Rad, Aishe, Mazith, Faust and Tobin know of its impending doom.

Rad Longhammer goes to the Auburn Hill Temple district to the church of Pelor who took him in. Without Hyperion to fuel his rage and train his mind control, he finds a strange peace in meditation. He reflects back on all that has happened, all that could be, and all that was. When he returns two days later, he has a clear understanding of what to do, he is a Master of Moments. And he has identified the moment that could fix the world: when The Raven Queen’s divine icicle fell on him, and the god’s presence first awakened the Titan Hyperion inside him.

Rad will need everyone’s skills to succeed. Faust’s mastery of time and space to navigate them through, Aishe Malinova’s Gypsy Vision ™ to prevent them from hurting their present, Tobin’s eventual mastery of wishes to break the limits of reality and send them back in time, and Mazith’s prowess to single-handedly keep the group alive.

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Subject 47

Spinal Spire

After recovering from the mummy rot, the Freak Squad decides to confront Rhotlzhogok, the mind flayer from the Badlands. He has been testing Rad Longhammer for quite some time, while creating and torturing similar subjects in his tower. Rad thinks about his past long and hard, and decides he can’t really believe his memories in the tower since his tormentor played mind tricks on him to hide his own nature and location. However, Rad can believe in the small village that he tormented on his rage fits after being cast away, and identifies Spinal Spire as their destination. Faust needs to establish a permanent portal in order to ensure his future survival. He decides to use the lich’s own lair as a hideout, so he teleports the group in there. After he does the ritual, he needs to wait for a day to cast it again to leave. The adventurers are isolated from the world’s troubles, and finally able to relax.

Cabin Fever

Cabin fever

Tobin grows restless as the day passes, and challenges Rad to a match. Rad gets himself ready for an arm-wrestling contest, but receives an arrow to the shoulder! He tries to deflect the rest, but Tobin keeps attacking savagely. Rad loses it and uses his fists of fury full force, landing a deadly dance of punches on the ranger. Not satisfied, Tobin presses on even more fiercely. The battle heats up so much that Mazith and Faust almost, almost start caring about their friends killing each other.

Rad calls upon his inner strength, which now has a voice of his own, to light up his blows with energy, setting Tobin on fire. Unsure of what calamity is befalling her lover, Lady Oscar uses the fate ring that she shares with Tobin to lend her strength. Tobin nocks one last arrow, lets go, and pierces Rad, who falls unconscious.

Mazith helps Rad wake up and tend to his wounds. The whole party is glad to leave when Faust can cast his teleport ritual again, and Faust makes sure to let in some fresh air from the outside into his lair.

Cloud Connected

Cloud palace

The party looks for information about the Badlands, and Sandman is happy to provide it as long as Faust stops using his private teleportation circle for his experiments.

The Badlands used to be a bountiful area where a powerful theocracy ruled. The Old Faith was an order of powerful druids who believed they had a divine guidance to rule the land. As they grew more powerful, they attacked the layers of hell in order to eradicate them one layer at a time. As their power grew, so did their ambition.

A betrayal in the form of pact with the demons eradicated most of the upper order of druids, and the explosion of magic turned the land into a wasteland. Surprisingly, the hell creatures kept their promise and a demented druid of demonic lineage is in charge of the open portal to the demon lands. Because the lands was permeated with chaotic magic, wizards relocated to The Sharid and formed a democracy there.

Sandman tells them that teleporting into the Badlands is extremely dangerous due to the chaotic magic, and recommends a two stage trip through The Sharid. The embassy of The Sharid is located in a cloud floating a mile on top of Timbermoor. With his powers, Faust is able to conjure a storm to land the party safely there. They are welcome by a wizard wearing colorful robes, who recognizes Tobin as a fellow Sharidian, and approves of the party’s resourcefulness, granting them passage to the market square portal in the desert lands.

The Sharid

The party makes it to main city of The Sharid, Ras Matara. It surrounds an oasis located in the middle of desert dunes. Its inhabitants are highly trained in arcana, and mystical creatures seem to have made this their home. The party’s horses seem out of place, so they buy camels for the trip. The merchants pay top prices for the gear, gems and coins that the adventurers part with, in exchange for better enchantments for their items. Dazzled by shiny objects, the party rides on to their destination, unprepared for the elements on their way north to the Badlands.

Tobin has natural resistance, and Mazith trained one, but the rest of the party grow thirsty and exhausted. They decide to go on instead of searching for water, and make it through the cold night. The next day they can’t go on, and eventually find a desert mouse, which they follow to some brush. As they dig the find some water reservoirs to keep them going to their destination. The land turns from fine sand to red sandstone, and the wizard tower grows taller as they approach the village.

Subject 47

The freak squad knock on the tower and are received by a butler who informs them that his master is awaiting them at the top of the tower. Rhotlzhogok welcomes Rad Longhammer, proud to see him grown up and harboring the beast inside him. Rad and Tobin lose their temper and attack the mind flayer overlord, but he is fully prepared. Multiple mind flayers and their thralls appear in the room and mind blast the party before they get their shots off. Tobin’s arrow hit the mindflayer regardless, but Rad’s initial flurry monk attacks unfortunately miss, leaving him without an advantage over his enemy. Mazith, being already dazed, acts extra stupid and vulnerable to have the enemies concentrate on him. Faust steps back and fires from a distance.

However Rhotlzhogok has studied the adventurers during their battle with the Beholder, and knows their tactics quite well. The illithids relocate the warriors against the wall, and they themselves surround Faust, beat him up, and dominate his mind. One of the mind flayers is able to grab onto Faust’s skull with his mouth tentacles, ready to consume his brain. Their mental powers refresh and they send another round of mind blasts that cripple the party’s reaction times and concentration. Rhotlzhogok tells Rad that had Aishe Malinova been here, she would have suggested diplomatic talks, and he would have described the proposal he had for saving Rad and Pelor. But Rad and Tobin had attacked on sight, and peace talks would only be a possibility if they surrendered before someone got killed. To show his command of the situation, he describes the strengths and weaknesses of the party’s fighting style and how his brethren would win this battle, and he would still get to experiment on Rad… unless he volunteered.

Tobin is ready to strike the overlord but Rad forces her to stop, much to her anger. Rhotlzhogok likewise stops his comrade from devouring Faust’s brain. He says that Rad’s body is harboring Hyperion, one of the Titans of ages past, inside him. The mind flayers had been experimenting with weapons to prevent their race from being obliterated by the Githyanki, who revolted from their slavery. Now the Githyanki seek revenge, and will likely move on to conquer their cousins, the Githzerai, after exterminating the Illithids. Rhotlzhogok came to this world to revive and retrieve the Titans, who were imprisoned with the lives of the gods of Hinrik, and use them to destroy the invading Githyanki armies. All his experiments were to create creatures that could withstand the process; Rad was subject 47. The titans and their hosts are ready to be transported, otherwise the end result would be liberated titans in Aeon, seeking revenge against the current set of gods. Hyperion, being the Titan of the Sun, would likely destroy Pelor.

Rad thinks about it long and hard, and agrees to ship away the titans to the Astral plane to fight the Illithid’s war. Rhotlzhogok agrees but must retrieve Hyperion, too. Rad is able to convince him too leave him inside him, and with the Pelor’s blessings and Bahamut’s wards, Rad’s mind forces the creature back into his prison, leaving only enough of an opening for Rad to draw power from the eternally enraged Titan.

Subject 47.0

Faust, who had been battling with his tentacly captor for a while now, decides to use his silver tongue to persuade the mind flayers. He mentions how in fact, the Freak Squad had multiple magic items and powers under their sleeves ready to be unveiled for the first time, that Rhotlzhogok could not have prepared against, so it was good that the fight stopped where it did. Rhotlzhogok is convinced by his tall tales, and realizes how fortunate it was that his comrades were not slain. He promises Rad a magical item of great power since his allies, alive, are more valuable to him.

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Vecna's Gamble

Diamonds and Dust

Mummy

The Freak Squad appraise the magical items that they got from the battle in the Shadowfell, and discover an instant portal of unknown destination. They decide to use it and step through, landing inside a dark dungeon. Minotaurs that do not recognize the intruders attack them, followed by undead wizard spectres. Tobin jumps onto some crates and uses her height advantage to rain arrows on the monsters. The wizards impair Rad Longhammer’s motion, and then bull rush him into the ground. Mazith concentrates on the minotaurs to help Rad, and Aishe tries to rationalize with the undead wizards, but the seem to be consumed by hate. Faust zips around the battlefield like a lightning bolt, controlling the crowd of monsters, which eventually lose their advantage and perish.

Aishe Malinova detects magic emanating from a sarcophagus, but a careful inspection does not show any indication of traps. Mazith opens it and sees a very old corpse wrapped in bandages, next to a magical item. The mummy has decayed to dust, and does not rise to attack the group. However, its accumulated dust does fly through the air and around the room. Rad, Tobin and Faust inhale it and are affected by mummy rot.

There is another sarcophagus with riches inside. Aishe Malinova sends a magical blast wave to topple it but more mummy dust is flown into the air. She tries to push back the dust with more blasts, but inevitably the affected area gets larger and more difficult to control. Faust starts a whirlwind storm which gathers most of the dust into its funnel, and with Tobin’s sharp eyes the group is able to get every grain of dust. Faust then sends it into a shallow pool that decorated this break room in what appears to be a lich’s lair.

It Appears To Be a Lich’s Lair

Lich

As they move down the dungeon, Tobin detects an ambush up ahead. A heavily armored magical construct leaps out and spins his chain weapon into the midst of the freak squad, dazing them with psychic energy. An undead abhorrent reaper also leaps out wielding a long nasty sickle, which attacks most of the party before they can recover from the previous attack. Tobin is hit particularly hard, and the reaper presses his advantage by calling forth a large magical eye that hovers in the air, looking for victims. She tries frantically to escape, but Aishe Malinova was distracted saving the rest of the group and can not aid her attempts. To make matters worse, the mummy rot weakens the healing magic and skills that the party is using to keep Tobin alive.

Rad Longhammer recognizes the eye as another manifestation of Vecna. Aishe also detects that the eye is controlled by an amulet around the reaper’s neck, and while worn it is immune to magic. Mazith and Faust get rid of the construct and then concentrate on the undead reaper. Tobin fights furiously to remain in the battle as the eye makes another attack at her. The combined efforts of the party finally bring the reaper down, but the eye is still posed to attack and kill Tobin. They take the amulet off and are barely able to destroy it before it consumes Tobin in its undead fires.

A lesser object similar to the undead hand of Vecna is also destroyed inside the eye. Close investigation of the lair determines that these dungeon was once a temple to Bahamut, god of justice. Legend says that he created a weapon to oversee all acts of evil, with the power to enact judgement with powerful magic. So terrible was the eye, that its use seemed unbalanced and unfair, and was locked away in this dungeon by faithful priests. But the lich of Vecna found about this secret, and consumed by greed and to serve its god, corrupted the eye into a twisted weapon of death and established its lair here.

They Won’t Stay Dead

Mummy rot

The magic users find a highly magical bone lying around, but are unsure what it is. Using his religious studies, Rad recognizes it from his previous deductions as a lich phylactery, an object that contains the essence of a lich for undead resurrection. It contains the remains of one of the liches that Mazith and Tobin killed back in the battle against Orcus’ avatar, and they quickly proceed to destroy it, ending its reign of terror once and for all.

Faust creates a portal to return to Sandman, and evaluate the possibilities to cure the mummy rot magical disease. With Chedhurst being a martial nation, availability of powerful clerics is limited, and Rad Longhammer’s connection to Pelor is the most powerful to try and remove the dangerous disease. The party needs to rest, and as they wake up the disease gets worse. Faust decides to try to heal himself up, and calls for a conference in the Wizard Order of Chedhurst to have students witness the event, which gathers quite an audience.

Luckily Faust succeeds. Rad is a bit unsure of his abilities, since a wrong treatment might cause patient death. So he casts the ritual on himself first, and survives. Tobin is next, and even though the treatment hurts, Tobin also survives.

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Destinies

The Fire Within

Hyperion

The The Raven Queen recovers from her weakness after having her mortal name revealed by Lolth. She decides to end her battle with the injured avatar of Orcus, raises her hand to the storm raging in the sky above, absorbs all moisture of the clouds into a glacier in the shape of an icicle, and thrusts it into the avatar’s skull. The messenger of Orcus collapses to the side, the icicle falling on top of Rad Longhammer and Faust.

Rad feels his lungs fill with diamond dust as his life and will to live are rapidly depleted by the arctic cold. But something within him awakens. An uncontrolled rage like he felt when he wandered the lands killing innocents. His monk calmness is replaced by this fire that burns inside him, that burns outside, that consumes everything around him, and Rad explodes into a ball of light and fire, instantly turning the glacier weapon into vapor. In the spot where Faust’s corpse should be, there are only ashes.

Rad feels something, someone, inside him, trying get be free. His monk training id barely able to keep it contained, and now Rad is left with voices in his head.

Shadow Wings

Shadow wings

Having crippled Orcus’ power in the Shadowfell, The Raven Queen turns to Aishe Malinova, who freed the souls of the Warforged in Tremblent that now pass through to the Raven Queen’s embrace. The goddess grants her blessing on the gypsy, giving her wings to follow her ambitions, no matter how high they are. But Aishe wants to avenge her queen for what Lolth stole from her. The Raven Queen approves, but warns her that despite the god’s own preferences, Aishe should stay close to her allies, and make sure that their are focused and without personal distractions for the trials to come.

Stealing the Biggest Treasure

Thief acrobat

Mazith was manning the ballistas and weakening Orcus, but he also was able to sense Lolth, the Goddess of Deception, manipulate gods, armies and the Freak Squad themselves to steal Fate from the Raven Queen. Whether hw cares about the Spider Queen is irrelevant, as he respects the tremendous skill that was needed for this heist. In his heart, Mazith believes that his rogue skills are good enough to match a god’s, and to become a thief of legend.

Should Have Taken a Left in Albuquerque

Volcano

In the confusion of the victory, Tobin locates a wizard friend of Faust, Trent Highcastle, sneaks up on him, and steals a teleportation scroll, bluffing her way out when she is discovered by the intoxicated mage. She finds herself in the spider forest, and steps into the Material plane through the shadow crossing, appearing in the mausoleum of Irduin’s Telethdar, Lady Oscar’s father, in Long Castle. The arrow that Tobin left as a sign of respect pulses with energy and determination, Tobin pciks the blessed arrow thanking Irduin’s soul for the blessing. As she looks around, she see’s Dorito’s corpse nearby, but she can not stop now. She heads upstairs, bribes a wizard, and has herself teleported to a shady place in Crespuscule and makes her way to the castle.

Chantal the vampire receives her, but warns he that the teleportation ritual to The Sharid is not ready and is volatile. Tobin takes the risk anyway, and is teleported to an underground cavern filled bristone and lava, where she finds Faust laying unconscious nearby.

Time and Space Discontinuum

Tardis

Faust wakes up and determines the magic experiments that he had done on himself years ago finally manifested, his body was able to escape death by teleporting himself through the planes. He has turned into something else, neither here nor there, neither now nor before. He is able to determine that Tobin and himself have landed in a layer of the Abyss. With his new found powers, Faust is able to create a way out.

Deal with the Devil

Djinn devil

Tobin’s desperation to rescue Lady Oscar summons a devil from the Abyss, which towers dozens of feet over the two heroes. He proposes Tobin to give him her remaining wish, so he can imprisons the troublesome djinn, and in exchange he would liberate Lady Oscar. Tobin accepts and true enough, the devil summons and enslaves the soul of the djinn Surat Al-Jinn, forcing Lady Oscar out her her mystical prison. The devil is pleased and leaves the lovers reunited. Faust had prepared a way out, but a different djinn, Jazz’ari, approaches Tobin, asking for her help. The survivors of her race had been enslaved by the devil, but Lady Oscar’s selfless wished granted Surat enough power to challenge the devil. Now that he’s imprisoned the djinn race has no hope, except for Tobin and Lady Oscar to help them Jazz’ari reunite with her lover Surat, just as Surat’s life helped Tobin and Mariel reunite. Tobin feels that she can grant wishes just as well as the djinns, and accepts the djinn’s desires.

Surat Al-Jinn Jazz’ari

Tobin, Lady Oscar and Faust escape the plane and return to Crespuscule.

A Tale of Two Cities

Chedhurst Tremblent

The party, who had been looking for each other, reunite and speak with Triant Tombfury, who agrees to destroy the reflection pond that now unites and connects the Shadowfell and Tremblent. With tha settled, Faust uses his powers to transport the party to Sandman’s quarters. They decide to pin the Apocalypse Hydra attack of Triant’s enemies to close the case, and prevent further investigation into the gypsies. They are escorted there by Hans Torres and Krog Bellybottom, the only remaining members of The Aforementioned.

King Maxim Isaak receives the Freak Squad in his palace. Faust magically transforms himself into Dorito, who was presumed dead (twice) by the party. Aishe looks at Faust suspiciously, but the King speaks to celebrate the turn of events, the peace between Tremblent and Chedhurst (even though Mazith could have single-handedly achieved that if the rest of the party had allowed him to), and to apologize for having to name them traitors.

There is a make-shift celebration in the palace. Aishe Malinova questions Faust’s loyalty. Faust explains that he is a shape changer raisedd by halflings, and a spy originally sent to keep an eye on Feyis Goldenflight, since they have heard reports about something brewing in the elven lands. He serves the Wizard Order of Chedhurst, but also a department of internal affairs. To show his trustworthiness, he reveals his true form to Aishe and Mazith, something he hasn’t done for anyone before. Afterwards, Faust escapes to report to his superior in the secretive organization. He approves of his actions and his service to the kingdom.

During the party, Tobin and Lady Oscar find themselves a private room. Chrysanthe Xene grabs Rad Longhammer by the hand and does the same.

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Web of Deception

Some Like It Hot

Volcano

The vampire mesmerizes the Shadar-Kai assassin and Mazith, and in their defenseless confusion stabs them multiple times before jumping onto the bridge. Two large mechanical creatures emerge from the lava, and start rotating the two bases of the bridge, cutting off the two warriors, separating the group and leaving the exposed to the dark elves that pummel them with magical bolts that drain their stamina.

Tobin is slowed down by the drows’ energy bolts, and falls off the edge of the bridge segment, the floor of which is still rotating like a conveyor belt. Faust uses summons a storm to lift Tobin and himself out of their precarious positions, and Tobin lands safely on one of the platforms where the dark elf is attacking. He takes out his dagger and slices Tobin. He cut is not deep but it burns intensely as the poison makes its way into Tobin’s bloodstream. Seeking to get rid of the master archer, the drow bullrushes her, but Tobin catches herself from going over the edge.

Aishe is able to use her magical prowess to daze the vampire, who falls to the ground as the conveyor belt still rotates. He is thrown into the lava, and the mechanical creature below is unable to catch him. He is massively burned and used his magical items to teleport and then fly away from the molten rock.

At the end of the bridge, Mazith and the assassin try to take a break and heal their wounds, but the drow pummel them from a distance. Mazith jumps over the lava to reach his attacker, and engages him with his sword. The assassin almost makes the jump, but as he falls he melds into darkness and is able to emerge safely from Mazith’s shadow.

Faust believes that they outmatch the vampire, he finishes his flight trajectory to land near him to propose that he help the group betray Triant Tombfury. Aishe looks furious as the life of their friend Rad Longhammer is at risk if Triant discovers that the Freak Squad were planning on backstabbing him, whether they followed through or not. Knowing that compassion plays no part in Tremblent politics, the vampire sends one of his injured drow to tell Triant about his champions’ betrayal out of spite. the dark elf disappears from sight.

The mechanical arm grabs Aishe Malinova and slides her atop the flowing lava. Aishe is able to wiggle herself free of the mechanical arm, and climbs to the top of the contraption to safely disable it. Faust however much rather blast it and summons lightning from his fingertips to destroy it. Unfortunately the lighting travels through the metallic arm, shocking Aishe, too. The arm is destroyed and hangs limply from the ceiling, but Aishe is barely able to hang on. One of the dark elves notices her predicament and summons a dark energy bolt to stun her, so that she falls into the lava. Fortunately for Aishe, it is a wild miss and she is able to jump onto one of the bridge segments, where the vampire tries to push her off as he lands next to her. Aishe is not prepared for hand to hand combat, and is struggling against him.

Mazith and the assassin have the second dark elf cornered. He tries to poison the warrioirs with his dagger, but he’s no match for the assassin and Mazith. Mazith emerges back onto the bridge claiming to have single-handedly defeated the creature.

Tobin and Faust work on the dark elf, and Tobin gets fed up with the back and forth and kicks him into the lava. With her field of view cleared and no more distractions, she knocks an arrows into her bow, aim carefully, and hits the vampire int he chest. He collapses on the conveyer belt, and as his body disintegrates, Aishe is able to salvage the magical items that kept him alive before the dust that was his corpse falls into the lava for the final time.

The Way of the Panther

Panther

The party wants to catch up with the feeling dark elf before he reaches Triant Tombfury with news of their betrayal plans. However the bridge is still segmented and the conveyor belts still rotating. Faust is exhausted and no longer able to summon storms to make his friends float on air. Aishe finds evidence of a secret passage, and Tobin finds the entrance of the other side and the party is reunited.

On their way out, the party is confronted with the wilderness in the mud pit. This time, there are eight white translucent cats waiting to ambush them as they enter the magical zone. Aishe located a magical totem that somehow controls the cat trap. Aishe’s The Raven Queen’s blessings turn him invisible and Faust steals the totem to examine it. Unfortunately the cats are drawn to the totem even if they can see the halfling. He decides to drop it in the lava to destroy it. As he passes by the rest of the group, Mazith’s Shadowfox Family Armor glows brightly indicating a connection. The group is able to convince Faust to try and dissable the device instead of destroying it.

As soon as he starts working on it, the white panthers savagely attack him by materializing from thin air. Mazith and Tobin try to block the attackers line of sight, and Aishe and Rad are barely able to keep the sorcerer alive after a brutal mauling from the felines, who dissipate when he’s done. A very large black panther appears, bows to Mazith, and jumps into his armor.

Aishe uses her Gypsy Vision ™ to recognize the panther. It is a mighty magical hunter called Guenhwyvar who has been at the side of great warriors through the ages. Unfortunately Aishe also sees the last moments of the previous owner, Leonidas. He was battling with Lazpad Shadowfox, who as his former student wanted the panther to pass from teacher to student when he bested him in combat. As Lazpad strikes the fatal blow, Guenhwyvar disappears in mist.

R.I.P . Leonidas.

Party Upstairs

Mausoleum

The party is able to track the moments of the dark elf, who is being cautious about all the Shadar-Kai who are invading Tremblent. As he notices the party he surrenders, saying that he was just a hired mercenary for the vampire, and that if he’s dead there’s no one to pay hi for his troubles. Faust retrieves from him the name of the spy in Triant Tombfury’s entourage.

The mission is quite a success, and the casualties on the Shadar-Kai’s army is minimized. As the group reunites with Triant Tombfury and Rad Longhammer, a treaty is proposed to aid peace efforts between Chedhurst and Tremblent. Chrysanthe Xene appears, escorted by Triant’s right hand Chantal, to sign the treaty on behalf of Chedhurst.

Gypsy Vision ™ PSA

Clairvoyance

Aishe Malinova gets a gypsy vision from the [[Shadowfell] : thw undead army is mobilizing to intercept the returning Shadar-Kai warriors, and a necromantic meteor is falling from the sky near Drethal in the capital city of the The Raven Queen. Orcus and Vecna seem to be forcing their hand.

The group tries to desperately contact allies, but it is mostly in vain. Pelor is not able to aid them because the Letherna’s skies are covered in dark clouds with lighting and snow. Bahamut has just lost power in the area as his Warforged enforcers were taken out of commission. Kord is spending his energy on the world-wide storm day that he had planned for this year. The Raven Queen, while powerful in her own realm, is all alone, almost as if planned.

The top warriors are hastily teleported directly to Letherna at great magical and monetary cost of the Shadar-Kai. Seeing Tobin’s hesitance, Chantal confesses to her that she was quite fond of love stories when her heart still beat and was not cold as ice, before becoming a vampire. She offers to prepare passage to The Sharid for her to meet her lover when she returns from the Shadowfell.

Spinning the Webs of Deceit

Once in the Shadowfell, Aishe’s vision comes to life. From the meteor rises Orcus’ avatar, an enormous skeleton, whose bones have other skeletons embedded on them. It charges and bashes through the front gates of the city. The Raven Queen makes her appearance to defend her realm as a gargantuan crow self descends from the skies to confront the challenger.

Tobin and Mazith man a ballista, inflicting great damage to the undead liches that are providing artillery power to Orcus’ attack. Aishe and Faust concentrate on aiding the Raven Queen, with the aid of Pelor and the guidance of fate. However Orcus’s skeleton seems to be relentless.

Ride the lighting

Faust decides to strike a decisive blow to the enemy. He places himself in the middle of Kord’s shamans from Darjak. As the electric energy build up, Faust’s body shoots into the storm clouds while riding a lightning bolt. From the air he positions himself above the skeleton, drains all the energy from the shamans and the clouds into himself, and explodes in a massive lighting bolt that falls down on the skeleton. The energy is so large that Faust becomes unconscious and free falls towards his death. Aishe is barely able to magically heal him to wake him up, and Faust desperately flies against his fall to land safely on the ground.

The Third Wheel

Aishe realizes that Vecna has betrayed Orcus, since he is not involved in the attack, and uses that to further distract the the attacker. Rad blesses Aishe’s wweapon with the radiant power of Pelor, she calls forth the power of Andromeda, and her Chainreach Weapon shoots out to strike against the avatar. As he reels in pain, Aishe is able to keep a hold of the chain as it retracts back, and maneuvers to land on the shoulder of her queen. All seems to be going right, but Tobin’s eagle eyes have detected something. She cries out, but the sounds of battle drown her voice. On the other shoulder of the Raven Queen, the ghost of Jania Goldenflight appears, and whispers a name to the goddess. Her wings collapse into her back and the dark death shadows that surround her dissipate, and for a moment the goddess appears to be human. The queen barely defends against an opportunistic Orcus as she recovers. At that moment, the stealthed spider that Tobin had detected finished making her way into an open wound on the Raven Queen. It sinks its fangs in, siphons a magical tattoo away, and disappears as stealthily as it arrived.

The Spider Queen

The Raven Queen is able to recover, her wings grow back and her strength returns, but the tattoo is gone. As she continues to battle, the skeleton avatar has no chance against the might of a goddess. Jania Goldenflight seems satisfied of her work for her goddess Lolth, also known as the Demon Queen of Spiders, the Mistress of Lies, and the Lady of Shadows. All the manipulation, deceit, even sacrificing her own sister to Vecna had finally returned fate to the Spider Queen.

Since the cruelty of the Spider Queen is legendary, before she disappears Jania makes sure to tell Aishe what happened. This includes how she faked an alliance with Orcus to put the Raven Queen in a vulnerable position, how she played Vecna into betraying Orcus to avoid other gods getting involved, but more importantly how she used her sister Feyis Goldenflight to steal the group’s secret location of the hut in the Shadowfell. This was the location where Nerull learned The Raven Queen’s mortal name, and where shortly thereafter the Raven Queen killed her captor, claiming the dead for herself.

With the portal in place, the sacred and obfuscated place normally visible only to the queen’s allies was accessible by the likes of Jania. By channeling the Spider Queen, Jania was able to convince Nerull’s astral remains, which were the source of Tremblent’s necromantic energy, to give up the Raven Queen’s name to Vecna for revenge, before the Shadar-Kai destroyed him for good. Vecna never learned the greatest secret of all, which had been hiding visibly and unknown in Tremblents’ reflection pool for a century.

Aftermath

Orcus’ avatar is about to receive the last blow before it is destroyed, but it is a bitter sweet victory. The government of Tremblent has been cleansed, ensuring safety for Chedhurst with minimal loses to the Shadar-Kai. With the new treaty, Chrysanthe Xene is no longer required to marry Triant Tombfury, and is finally free to reunite with Rad Longhammer.

With the destruction of troublesome vampires, the liberation of souls from the Warforged, the eradication of Orcus’ avatar, and the cold healing winds of winter, the Raven Queen will regain back the power she lost and reestablish herself as the dominant force in the Shadowfell. But she no longer can be called the Lady of Fate since Lolth has regained that title.

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600 feet under

Descent

Mausoleum

The Freak Squad takes a look at the vampire’s mansion and decide to go to the mausoleum instead. Mazith removes additional traps and lets the Shadar-Kai assassin go in first. He is not amused by this, but no further traps are found at the entrance.

They start their descent through a cavern in the mausoleum, but as they descend the temperature starts to rise. Tobin presses on, and with her keen sight is able to detect most pressure plate and swinging blade traps without slowing down their pace to search. This is beneficial since troops stationed behind murder holes in the cavern do not reach their posts in time and barely have enough time to shoot off some crossbow bolts, which the Shadar-Kai assassin evades.

Toxicity

Volcanic geiser

A narrow chasm blocks the way for the adventurers; at the bottom of the fissure lava can be seen flowing. Mazith has no problem jumping the puny chasm, and he uses a rope to safeguard the rest of the group as they cross. There is a chamber up ahead with small geisers belching toxic fumes into the air, and a glowing mound in the center. The light of Faust’s torch is too dim to detect the wraiths that emanate from the geisers and surprise attack the group. They claw at Mazith and extract his life force, leaving him exhausted. However the group recovers and is able to use the torchlight to see their enemies. The assassin maneuvers the last wraith into the central mound crater, and Faust pushed him down into the lava with a thunderous lightning bolt.

Welcome to the Jungle

Panther

The group continues their descent and finds a large, long, muddy pit ahead of them. Fungi have grown on the walls and emit green light, making the humid passageway looks somewhat lush, with only a few rocks over the mud. Tobin jumps into one, and the magical trap turns on. A transparent feline materializes out of thin air, and the ever-ready Tobin sends an arrow straight between his eyes, but the arrow just passes by unaffected, and the feline, also unaffected, harms Tobin as he passes through her. Faust comes to the rescue and flies over the mud pit, extending his flying capabilities to Tobin. Mazith of course amazingly and single-handedly jumps from stone to stone, but miscalculates a landing and another feline attacks him. The Shadar-Kai trades through the mud and is the last to leave the magical hunting grounds of the felines.

Industrial Revolution

Steampunk arm

The group approaches a vast cavern, with a single bridge contraption spanning from their location to the other side of the chasm, and with a wide lava river flowing underneath. As Tobin approaches, a huge mechanical arm trap attacks her and tries to grab her, but she narrowly escapes by disrupting it with an arrow. Faust attacks with lightning, which seems to be quite effective when it is not holding anyone. Mazith spots the mechanism to disable the arm, but it precariously located at the base of the arm in the ceiling, so he attacks with his sword. He’s not so lucky as Tobin, and gets grabbed by the hand, which moves over the lava. Tobin uses her Starlit Bow of Sagittarius to summon a rope that hooks on to the mechanism mechanical wrist, and swings from the rope to catch Mazith as he is dropped. As the hand return for an attack on Faust, the two adventurers swing back onto the bridge amid magical bolts of energy. Three dark elves are attacking them from the cliff sides on opposing sides of the bridge.

As Tobin and Faust attack them, Mazith and the Shadar-Kai try to gain ground. The bridge floor tiles suddenly start moving like a conveyor belt, forcing back their movement as their gain speed. Desperate, the two of them sprint towards the end of the bridge, where a large skeletal vampire appears and gets ready for battle.

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Infiltration

Secret secrets

Feyis blind

Faust calls off the Death Reaper to avoid Feyis Goldenflight following through with her threat of informing the armies of Orcus about the Shadar-Kai. Having recognized some of the former self of Feyis, Aishe Malinova and Rad Longhammer start concentrating their healing magic to try to extract the Eye of Vecnca. Mazith finds a less delicate way to help and uses a knife to cut the optical nerves. Meanwhile Faust has acquired the Hand of Vecna. As he touches it to examine it, the hand seduces him with promises of wizardly knowledge beyond his dreams, and he starts to take his gloves off and looking for a way to get rid of his own hand. Fortunately he snaps out of it, and hides the hand in his halfling pouch. The sly hand tries to trick Faust into thinking it has returned to Vecna, but Faust discovers this. Unable to acquire more secrets, the artifact does end up returning to Vecna.

Aishe and Rad a still work furiously to try and save Feyis, whose body is getting covered with necrosis as the Eye extract her life force to join the Hand. As Mazith cuts the last of the optical nerve, the eye is released and return to the god. Feyis barely avoids death under the constant healing powers she receives, but she is left with a stump for a hand, and with an empty eye socket and blinded for life. Even though she did not die, it seems Vecna has nevertheless taken all secrets from her mind, including his intentions and the location of Lady Oscar.

Conspiracy Theories

Shadowfell village

The group discusses with the Death Reaper about Feyis, and the wildcard Vecna, who now knows the secret of the attacking army. They decide that Vecna is likely not allying with Orcus. While risky, they continue with their mission, but first they want to take out any more wildcards.

Faust uses a ritual to communicate with Sandman, who appears with some of Faust’s wizard colleagues the next day. Sandman is unable to join the Freak Squad’s cause, lest the powers in Chedhurst discover their location. The enclave of wizards, including Sandman, Daemon Mathews, Aishe Malinova and Ian Faust and five others prepare themselves to eradicate the necromantic energy in the abandoned hut. The wizards are not too familiar with the energy, and are attacked by its power as it pulses in defense. Faust, Aishe and Rad defend the wizards as they try again. Meanwhile Tobin and Faust are ready to defend against any more vistims that the necromantic energy might convert into undead. With much effort, the wizard are able to finally eliminate the energy from existence, and its flow stops crossing into the material plane.

Sandman needs to return to Chedhurst, and wishes the group well. Daemon Mathews enjoys what the party has planned and decides to help out.

Vampire Hunting

With the necromantic energy gone, the party waits until sunset when the Shadar-Kai army arrives. They give them a deadline of fifteen minutes to attack Crespuscule in case the party does not return, and use their teleportation circle they built to get to the reflection pond. They arrive at the castle of Triant Tombfury, but are denied access by the guards. The vampiress Chantal appears and listens to the group’s demands: either the army attacks Triant’s enemies to establish a safety net for peace negotiations, or it will attack the whole city. Not one to be easily deceived, Chantal gives them their audience with Triant, but only without their weapons, since it’s a peace ’negotiation". The group flatly refuses and Chantal does not give in to having a group of armed adventurers who have been labeled traitors near her king. As tense minutes go by, Rad Longhammer and Faust volunteer to go unarmed while the rest of the group waits outside.

Triant Tombfury hears their pleas, but is not pleased at all about this incursion into his city. The proposal does sound appealing to him, though, and he asks Faust to order the ambushing army to hold. Triant delivers a list of his enemies to Faust, but demands Rad stay with him as a safeguard against betrayal by the group. As the party makes praparations to get rid of a troublesome vampire enemy, Triant and Rad talk about the future, and watch the event unfold from the top of his castle, where his allies are now gathering to keep out of harm’s way.

Chokepoint

The party recruits a Shadar-Kai assassin to help them eliminate a well secured enemy vampire. Since he lives in a castle that has withstood heavy attacks, the task is more appropriate to an elite unit than an army. The assassin breaches the front door by traveling in shadows through the keyhole, and opens the door for the rest of the group. Tobin detects multiple mechanical traps while Aishe pinpoint some magical trigger. Mazith disables the wall spikes behind them, which is fortunate since the magical traps pushes the party against them with kinetic force. The party is safe, but vampire minions dig themselves out of the garden and attack them. After the party easily defeats them, but the castle owner if now likely alerted of their presence.

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Vengeance of Betrayals

The Search

Triangulation

Tobin decides to search the surrounding grounds of the hut looking for more clues. Eventually she finds a piece of red cloth on the ground. Terrified, she picks it up looking for instructions from Feyis Goldenflight, but she finds only the piece of cloth, as it it would have fallen while hastily retreating from the approaching heroes.

Knowing the cloth the be associated with kidnapping from their wizard enemy, and unnerved by the gloom of this pace, Rad Longhammer decides to travel back to Longcastle to check on Chrysanthe Xene, vowing to return to this stop immediately afterwards. The rest of the group continues their plan of attack, and head towards Drethal.

Hidden from Sight, Racing with Flight

Castle siege

Using their phantom steeds, the group makes haste towards Drethal, but the city is still under siege by the forces of Orcus. They decide to use their stealth skills to sneak into the castle, keeping low to the ground. Tobin scouts ahead by standing up, but is unable to see the pack of ghouls that are now hungrily staring at her. The guards on the wall crenelations see something moving and prepare to attack with their bows. With their cover blown, Aishe Malinova prompts the group towards the gate, giving the guards the sign of The Raven Queen to hold their fire. Aishe knows that the guards won’t open the city gate if there are nearby ghouls, so the situation turns into a race to the gates.

Mazith summons forth his panther companion from the Shadowfox Family Armor which pounces towards the closest group of undead. Faust is desperately trying to catch up with the group with his small halfling legs. Tobin shoots a couple of well placed arrows, destroying the kneecaps of two ghouls; even though they don’t feel pain, their sprint is interrupted. The remaining ghouls gain ground on the party. Aishe Malinova sets the Evil Eye curse on another one of them preventing it from approaching, and Mazith uses a magical seed to summon a metallic warrior to battle the rest of the ghouls. Yet some undead remain and the gates do not open for the party. Faust uses his staff to call forth a storm of strong winds, while Tobin latches on to him with her legs. Through great effort Faust is able to launch both of them forward, taking flight in the cyclone’s winds. Not one to sit still in a voyage, Tobin uses her free hands to shower the ghouls with a rain of arrows. Aishe Malinova uses her magic to teleport directly to the top of the wall, leaving Mazith alone with about 15 charging ghouls. The Amazing Jumping Man once again proves his title by pouncing like a feline halfway through the wall, stepping on an arrow slit sill, and propelling himself the rest of the way up with a second jump. With all members of the Freak Squad over the wall and the gates closed, the heroes and the guards shoot down and defeat the exposed ghouls before they can escape.

An army of Shadar-Kai

Death reaper Death Reaper
Lamias
Diathilis
Rosewilt Malinova
Thornus Malinova
Aishe Malinova

Lamias and Diathilis welcome back the heroes. With news of the successful placement of the portal circle, they set out to put decoys on the walls and prepare the army for the expedition towards the material plane. Logistics and preparations should take two days, so the heroes rest and recover.

Faust decides to travel to Darjak and recruit the help of the circle of Kord shamans to aid with concealing the departure of the army. He asks for help from a priestess of Avandra, preferred deity of halflings, who is stationed in the city. She summons ghost rides for Faust to bypass the siege army. Once in Soulriver, he is transported to the Darjak territory in the material plane, and recruits the circle and a fierce female centaur called Thunderhooves. In gratitude, Faust casts the ghost rider spell on her to make her journey swift and fast.

Mazith summons up his panther, feeling guilty about using her as bait to slow down the ghouls. Remarkably, the panther has some scars, but with it being a magical conjured beast, it is supposed to regain full health while resting in its native plane. The scars look like four deep long parallel cuts made from some slashing weapon.

The dread of the Shadowfell affects Tobin and she starts to get depressed about her inability to help Lady Oscar and hopeless about this whole situation. Lamias takes notice, and keeps her mind out of the dread by teaching her some techniques he learned when using the Starlit Bow of Sagittarius.

Aishe decides to visit her parents Rosewilt and Thornus Malinova. After the initial surprise, Rosewilt gladly invites her daughter in to catch up. Thornus is not as welcoming, as he still holds a grudge against his daughter for leaving the Shadowfell covered in disgustingly colorful gypsy clothes instead of serving her duty as a servant of the Raven Queen. After some arguing, Aishe is able to convince Rosewilt that she is doing the Raven Queen’s work in her own way. Thornus does not look convinced and dismisses Aishe, telling her that he will meet her in the battlefield if what she says is true. Aishe leaves with Rosewilt’s best wishes.

With all pieces in place, the Raven Queen’s high priest, called the Death Reaper, is called in to begin summoning the winter storm. The circle of Kord shamans aids his efforts and soon a grey cloud rolls over the armies of Orcus. Snow and lighting fall down on them, likely causing some casualties but more importantly providing cover for the Shadar Kai exodus from Drethal. Fatigued, the Death Reaper leaves the upkeep to the storm to other priests and heads into the teleportation circle with two guards, Aishe, Faust, Mazith, Tobin and Thunderhooves, arriving at the Hut under the reflection pond.

Necromancy Death

Shadowfell village

The party sneaks into the hut, trying to keep away from prying eyes on the other side of the planes. The Death Ripper assesses that he is ready to try and destroy the contained necromantic energy, but his body is exhausted from the summoning of the winter storms. As Aishe and Faust pull away the containment field, the orb pulses with necromantic energy and attacks the Death Reaper. Valiantly, Mazith jumps in front of him and has much of his life essence damaged. He pulls his shield and deflects some of the energy, which hits a guard behind him and transforms him into an undead creature. Tobin is meanwhile distracted by mysterious tracks outside the hut, as is some creature floated among the fallen leaves, and investigates outside to make sure no one is preparing an ambush for them.

The next minutes Aishe and Faust desperately try to contain the necromantic energy, but are not able to synchronize their efforts. Mazith and the guard neutralize the undead one, while the Death Ripper is eventually able to contain the attacks with the help of the party’s wizard and sorcerer. When things calm down, The Shadar-Kai make a prayer to the Raven Queen and end the curse of unlife of the fallen guard. The Death Reaper desperately needs rest, and everyone decides to leave his cursed place to catch some sleep in the woods before trying again in the morning.

Ultimatum

Tobin decides to patrol around since she can’t sleep after seeing those tracks. She spies some sort of apparition in the woods and alerts the group, who decides to let the Death Reaper asleep to have him fully healed in the morning. Faust casts invisibility on himself and quietly sneaks into the woods, surprising Feyis Goldenflight, who was also invisible. With both of them now visible, Faust signals the group about the danger. Feyis looks at the approaching heroes, but stays put and talks to Faust. She tries to convince the sorcerer to join her side, and have the secrets of Vecna at his disposal. After all, she says, Faust already trades in the currency of secrets, but Faust declines the offer.

When they arrive, Aishe Malinova speaks with Feyis, trying to convince her that when she killed Jania Goldenflight she was just doing what was necessary, but that does not phase the possessed wizard. She tells the story of how she was denied help from Rad Longhammer’s god Pelor and from The Raven Queen, when she appeared at their priest’s churches, carrying the trampled body of her sister, who had done nothing but use her assassin skills to help the same kingdom that now turned their backs on her. To add insult to injury, she saw her worthless wizard apprentice Dorito be resurrected by the same Pelor priest, with the blessings of the Raven Queen since Aishe helped fulfill Walter the Magnificent’s request to raise his intern from the dead.

Feyis Goldenflight then gives a really strange ultimatum to Aishe, to end her vengeance plan once and for all. She tells her that she can choose any of these two options

  • Go to the Orcus army and betray the location of the vulnerable Shadar-Kai army, currently exposed while on the move with an undefended city, or
  • Have the Freak Squad kill her, the vessel of Vecna, while sparing the Shadar-Kai army.

Aishe Malinova is shocked that Feyis knows their plans. Feyis confesses that her initial vengeance was for the Freak Squad’s members to betray Aishe’s trust, but when that did not work, she decided to steal their secrets and use them against Aishe, the preferred method of Vecna. To her delight, she learned more than she bargained for when she extracted the secrets from one of the most trusted members of the group, with access to all their conversations: Bruno the dog.

With the ultimatum option apparently clear, Mazith jumps into combat and surprisingly Feyis does not put up much resistance. Tobin however holds back, deciphering the maliciousness of Feyis’ proposals. The vessel of Vecna savors the moment as the group realizes that by killing her, all the secrets that she gained as a member of The Aforementioned and that she extracted from Bruno would be transferred to the undead god Vecna: the city defenses and vulnerabilities of Timbermoor, the involvement of the gypsies in the apocalyptic hydra event, the Freak Squad’s involvement in the Chedhurst failed diplomatic mission with Chrysanthe, and the intentions of the Shadar-Kai army against the vampires of Tremblent. Being the undead god of secrets, it is unclear what would be done with this information, though likely nothing pleasant for Aishe.

Feyis reminds Tobin of their previous conversation, and how she expected Aishe to betray her. And that would be Feyis’ vengeance. Have Aishe betray the Raven Queen, or have Aishe kill her as she killed her sister so that Feyis takes all her secrets with her, including the location of Lady Oscar’s prison. Feyis smiles wickedly at Aishe as she mockingly apologizes to the the Shadar-Kai for not being able to free Oscar if she’s dead, and tells her she has ten minutes to decide or else Feyis discloses the Shadar-Kai’s location to Orcus anyway.

Words, Wishes and Blood

Hand of vecna

Faust decides the situation is dire, and calls the Death Reaper to help eliminate the evil wizard. Feyis is furious and tells Faust he better call him off or else, since this whole situation is a personal affair. Aishe Malinova is desperately looking for options, and tries to reach out the old Feyis who was a warm-hearted person and friend. She offers Feyis to use Tobin’s remaining wish to save Jania Goldenflight somehow, maybe by changing the past. As a glimmer of hope appears in Feyis’ human eye, the spirit of Jania Goldenflight appears, emerging from the ground and floating among the fallen leaves, and demands her sister to exact vengeance for her death. The hope quickly disappears from Feyis’ face as the Eye of Vecna flares with fury. Feyis says that she doesn’t trust Aishe changing the past, lest the Freak Squad be responsible for a massacre by the Apocalyptic Hydra per the Watcher of the Oceans’ visions. Satisfied, Jania’s ghost dispapears into the ground. Maliciously, Feyis looks at the approaching Death Reaper, turns towards Aishe and Faust, and demands they kill him, or otherwise this turns from a private affair to something bigger and worse.

Tobin can not take it anymore and shoots directly at Feyis’ face. The Eye of Vecna helps deflect a mortal shot, but Feyis’ human eye is damaged regardless. Feyis teleports away from Aishe’s subsequent attack, but is not able to see the riposte as Aishe’ Andromeda Chain lashes out and serrates her undead hand down to the bone. Mazith, who had been bidding his time, singlehandedly finishes the job by bringing down his sword into the damaged joint.

The Hand of Vecna flies through the air.

In the distance Rad Longhammer can be seen finally arriving to the rendezvous point.

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