Formerly in the adventure, the heroes delve into the Grey and discovered that the King of Hate was colluding with the Shadow Fey to draw out the souls of all of Zobeck’s gearforged into a device known as the Well of Souls. Their diabolical plan was to replace them with the souls of disembodied shades that wander the dark roads, effectively raising a new army in order to destroy Zobeck from within.
Priestess Lena of the Temple of Rava now reveals a dark secret about the King of Hate and charges the heroes with the task of destroying the well; will they be able to destroy the well and return the souls of the missing gearforged to their rightful soul gems or will they too succumb to the power of the King of Hate?
During previous episodes of the Phoenix Odyssey:
- Temple of Rava: Destroy the Well; Seven’s missing chassis.
- Arcane Collegium: Destroy the Well; Crawford Adley Acquisition specialist.
- Hollingsworth: “The transfer of wealth will happen after the ceremony; must be registered at the court in Zobeck
- The Room of Remembrance: Baenland sees that the corpses encased in glass have both changed; Godwyyn is missing, but the note is left. All that remains of his mother is her charred corpse.
Three days have passed since the last adventure. The mood in Zobeck has taken on a darker tone as much of the rumor mongering of the return of the Shadow Fey, a flaming woman destroying outlying homesteads and villages, and the catastrophic red sun and tainted ley lines now seem to be true. Many within the crossroads are preparing for the end of the world while others prepare for Ragnorak, a war that has long been prophesied to bring the destruction of the Gods themselves.
Even against the backdrop of impending doom, the heroes took a much needed three day hiatus to prepare for what lies ahead. But their brief respite was not void of shenanigans…
Believing that the River Court of the Arbonesse possess needed wisdom and resources regarding the return of the Shadow Fey, re-emergence of ley lines now tainted, and the discovery of the mysterious Phoenix, Baenland has been keeping the court informed. Believing that the journey would almost certainly take the heroes there, Baenland began to seek out passage by river to venture to the River Court. Receiving a mysterious invitation for a clandestine meeting at a seedy tavern in the Kobold Slums, Baenland and Vesper arrive to discover the tavern is under New Management and now called, “The Bawdy Rose”.
They were met by a halfling slave who was sent on behalf of one of the Nobles within the River court. The slave first delivered the news that Baenlands parent have been arrested on accusation of sedition and treason. It wasn’t long before this was used as leverage in order to “encourage” Baenland to perform a task for noble, who for now, chooses to remain in the shadows. The halfling spoke of civil war erupting as various noble houses now vie for an open seat within the River Court. A King’s Table has been called, and a tournament has been invoked to decide which noble will rise to power and status. The shadowy noble intends to invoke an archaic law which states that a champion can be appointed to compete on behalf a participant.
The slave also informed Baenland that discreet passage would be arranged for him and his company and that all would be made clear if he should reach the river court alive.
Vesper was seen very little the past few days, choosing instead to remain in seclusion pondering the meaning of her new compact with the Green Gods and what being their Green Herald entails. Turning to the trance for answers about Yggdrasil-the Great World tree, she reached out to it many times and could feel her soul becoming more and more intertwined with its ancient presence. It was when she accompanied Badland to the Bawdy Rose that her suspicions were confirmed, there was a plethora of animals of all varieties that were following close behind, but not daring to draw to close.
Arriving back at her room, her trance was disrupted due to an incessant tap the window. It was a large crow that was working diligently to get her attention. Drawing the window, the bird stepped in and Vesper discovered that he was very mouthy and impatient. Apparently, the Herald of the Green has the ability to speak to animals, and all seem to be aware that she was the new Herald. The crow had told her that he had been cursed to this form and looked to the Herald to change him back. Not realizing the full extent of her Heraldic powers, the crow agreed to return in a day or so, giving Vesper some time to understand her new duties and powers as the Herald of the Green.
As a side note, Baenland has now grown very suspicious of Vesper’s new propensity to hug every tree she sees…
Zed took the occasion to discover why he was wanted by Zobeck authorities and also who and why a local crime group also wanted him dead. His persistence and skill as a shadowy rogue paid off. Zed discovered that his “other” personality was contracted by Izachar, the leader of a local crime syndicate known as the Cloven Nine to steal a curious gold coin known as the “Coin of Mammon”. The coin was in the possession of Zobeck City Council member Halsen Hrovitz IV, who incidentally was a very prominent merchant Lord. The coin was stolen; however, the theft also went terribly wrong. He was discovered by the wife of Halsen and was thus forced to slit her throat in the struggle.
Not only is Zed wanted for her murder, he is wanted by Izachar because the coin was never delivered. It was also discovered that the coin may have been sold to one Crawford Adley, Acquisition Specialist, for a small fortune. Zed had no knowledge of any of the events committed by his alter ego, and most importantly where he stashed the money.
Kino checked in with the Order of the Griffon Riders and discovered that the Griffon Riders are in a moment of crisis. Word has now begun to circulate in Zobeck that the Shadow Court has indeed managed to free themselves from exile, though it is not known exactly how. Multiple accounts have been received that they were in league with a group of powerful mercenaries that aided them on this side of the Shadow Realm; the result was the execution of all of those in Wallowsford and spies that have been dispatched to Wallowsford have not reported in or returned.
The mercenary group left Wallowsford and headed to Zobeck; while in route they slaughtered city militia that were attempting to protect the outlying regions after multiple attacks had occurred in the area. Eye witnesses place a very powerful flaming woman with the group; but accounts suggest that the mercenaries are now in Zobeck working to aid an impending Shadow Fey Invasion from within. A new arrival to Zobeck corroborates this story and was witness to the atrocities that were committed there (Nasty Jack & Godwyyn Wyynbow).
A mighty blow was dealt to Zobeck as the gearforged represent the majority of the military might of the city and it would surely fall if the attack happens while they are down. Rumors of suspicious activities are being reported in the cartways below the city; since we don’t have the manpower to investigate, the city council is now deliberating sealing it shut to avert them being used as a point of entry for Shadow Fey Troops.
The Betrayer’s Legacy Revealed
The priestess of Rava (Lena Ravovik) sents an urgent summons to the heroes; she is requested their presence at the temple of Rava. When the players arrived, they were escorted to an exclusive area within the lower level of the temple accessed by an ancient order of Rava priestess called “the Sisters of Rava”.
“As the ancient key turned the lock, the sounds of vast mechanisms hidden within the towering door echoed through the chamber. Hundreds of runes formerly not visible, could be seen etched within the frame and door; they are brilliantly illuminated with divine energy; it sizzled and crackled, caused another louder disturbance somewhere deep within the door. Then almost as suddenly as it began, all of the sound and activity ground to a halt; the hinges on the door creaked loudly and the door slowly opened of its own volition.”
As the heroes entered the Chamber of the Sisters, their eyes were instantly drawn to the walls of this ornate chamber. The entire room was a seamless work of art: the ceiling, the walls, even the floor revealed one extravagant mural that depicted the story of Rava through the ages of Midgard.
On either side of the hall are a series of life-sized marble statues, effigies of former priestess of bygone ages. Each statue faces a door at the opposite end of the hall.
“I do not take my next actions lightly and I fear the consequence of what I am about to do will be grave; yet the hour seems dire, Rava has grown silent, and the time to break with tradition seems to be upon us.”
“You see a female priestess will train her entire life to assume the role of the Prime Priestess of Rava. The training requires that a certain knowledge be passed from one prime to another; it can never be written, only spoken, for it was not meant for another mortal man to know it, lest he develop the hubris to once again presume to take his place among the Gods.”
“Our order is known only among the primes who have come before me and those who would come after”. This burden is granted only to a carefully select line of women. It is told to us that after the betrayal of Rava’s first right hand, she would never choose another from among men, for his propensity toward corruption and malice was great. This was the treachery of the first and only right hand of Rava…that is until now.”
She looks at Prototype Seven.
“This man was the first priest of Rava; the first to swear an oath to the Goddess and then break it. His story was forged within the cinders of the world flame long ago, and when the flames of the forge subsided into embers, he and his legacy were forgotten entirely by all, but a select few; passed down through each generation to the daughters of Rava and entrusted with this knowledge, to ensure that the mistakes of the past would not repeat themselves.”
“But he was not only the first priest of Rava; he was something else entirely; he was the first to receive the cinder of immortality that the world flame granted. A single ember, that was forged into a gem, a soul gem that was planted within the first Gearforged-the first Paladin of Rava. This cartouche tells his story.”
The Living Cartouche
Mural Section 1
- Scenes of beauty; appointment of Rava’s first right hand.
- Rava appoints a vengeance paladin (right hand) to execute her judgment when needed.
- King of Hate was the first; Seven is the second. The first ended in betrayal, will the second?
Mural Section 2
- The Great battle and Rava’s Right hand leading an Army of Gearforged to battle against 5 ancient dragons.
The scene shows the dragons decimating their armies.
Mural Section 3
- Shows the right hand reaching out to the abyss in anger and shame over his defeat.
- Right Hand became “faithless”, believing Rava to not have the power to win her own wars.
- That which the God’s fear, reached out and deceived the King from the “true” path.
Mural Section 4
- Shows the right hand making war against the gearforged with an army of abyss-touched gearforged.
- The gearforged have manifestations of the abyss
- The former right hand is completely consumed with the Abyss.
Mural Section 5
- Shows the defeat of the right hand by Rava herself: she has pierced his heart (soul gem) with his own abyss blade.
- Upon the battlefield of Rava’s slain gear-forged, the King of Hate wars against Rava herself.
- The first appearance of Legacy of the Betrayer: the well was first used to draw Rava into this plane and bind her here.
Mural Section 6
- Shows a great war that has enveloped all of Midgard in flames; At the center of the flames is an abyss-touched phoenix with the right hand and armies of abyss-touched gearforged.
- The scene ends at the doorway to the next area: Tomb of the Betrayer.
The Tomb of the Betrayer
Priestess Lena Ravovik: “And now you behold what no man has seen since the Betrayer’s story ended; and only sisters of the order have witnessed since.”
After offering a solemn prayer to Rava, the doors into the chamber opened and its secret was revealed.
Priestess Lena reveals the secret within the tomb:
“This chamber is a sacred place of Rava. The room is lit by the flame of hundreds of candles that appeared to burn without ceasing. In the center of the room upon a patch of earth that is littered with blood, lies the inanimate shell of a gearforged; the first to be exact. Inscribed upon the chest plate were two words, ‘Prototype One!’ He appears to be frozen in time.”
“Slightly above the inscription, a large blade’s hilt protrudes from the area where a normal human heart would reside; yet where the heart should rest, there is only a single gem and within it a single flame ever burns. An ember of the world flame, created within the great forge and imbued within the soul gem. The blade appears to be partially consumed within the gem so that only the long hilt remains visible.”
“Running along the long metal hilt are strands of black morass; living manifestations of black abyss, which appear to be escaping from the gem. The black strands appear to be moving, yet somehow frozen in time.”
Priestess Lena Ravovik: “It might interest you to know, that the betrayer still rests upon the very spot where the goddess pierced him through. Zobeck, was quite literally built upon the place of his defeat. Now we discover the answer to a question I have been pondered since our first visit. ”
“I am certain that there are many pressing matters that require the attention of heroes such as yourselves; however, the gearforged represent the majority of Zobeck’s military might; without them, the Free City is sure to fall. To free them and destroy the well that holds their souls is certain to deal a crushing blow to the ruminations of the Shadow Fey and would almost certainly cause this entire city to be in your debt.
The Curse of the Betrayer
Priestess: “Once granted immorality the first gearforged could not truly die; while his ‘body’ and the soul gem that once contained his soul remains here on consecrated ground, his soul remains elsewhere; where, I do not know. If my suspicions are correct, I believe his soul is also somehow connected to Legacy of the Betrayer.”
Priestess: “His soul gem was the only one of its kind, fuzed with an ember from the great forge, it rendered him immortal. When the abyss touched it, it’s taint also reached into the Betrayer’s soul. Since he cannot die, the Gods decreed that the blade which pierced his chassis would forever remain, binding him to his fate. None can remove it except the Right Hand of Rava. There has only been one…until now..(looks at Seven).”
“While it is true that as the right had of Rava, you can remove the blade where no other mortal can, to defy the will of the God’s by removing the sword, is to drink of the same curse that binds him and thus causing the God’s to also turn their scorn upon you.”
The Well of Souls
Priestess: “I cannot say for certain, where the well resides, nor how to destroy it; however, I believe the blade which pierced him, holds the answers we seek.”
Priestess: “I warn you, that it was the decree of the God’s that the blade would never be disturbed; the one who would defy their will drink of the same and share in his fate.”
Priestess: “The place you were before was only a manifestation of Seven’s connection to this sordid story; this time I fear that you will venture into the abyss itself. It is told that the abyss is the consummation of hate, void of any life, only void; and it’s black heart corrupts everything it touches.”
“You must peel back the veil of illusions that surpass the truth of that place; I dare say trust nothing and no one for all in that realm are manifestations of a dark heart and the damnation of one whom the Gods have shunned.”
“There may be one glimmer of hope; if the betrayer’s soul now walks in Midgard, then perhaps he will not be able to resist your efforts within the abyss.”
The Door in the Sword
Priestess: “I offer you this admonition; if you come across the King’s dark heart, take no delay in driving your sword straight through it. Perhaps it falls upon mortals to end what the Gods began.”
Priestess: “The place to which you now venture was not meant for the living; it consumes all life, and taints all it touches with its dark hate. The longer you remain in that realm, the more its curse will feed upon you and the more you will grow hungry to feed upon its hate.”
“Take care, for while the place upon which you now stand is consecrated to Rava, the place to which you journey, would be its opposite and I cannot know if the powers of the Goddess reach into this darkness.”
The Bastion of the Broken
As Prototype Seven Pulled the blade from the Betrayer, the heroes received the curse of the Betrayer; The sword became a door and when the heroes awoke some time later they were some place in between places. Even this place did not seem to escape the scarlet hues which now afflict all of Midgard. It illuminated a place of death and desolation; a barren wasteland of ash and smoldering cinders.”
An arid wind echoed through the valley; it carried upon it the stench of rot and decay and it was quite putrid and overwhelming to the smell. As far as the eye could see any direction-evidence of a great battle; the remains of the fallen littered the landscape, each in varying degrees of decay.
The implements of war were scattered about the massive battlefield; some almost entirely buried by the smoldering ash and pools of bubbling pitch and tar; they now stood frozen in time as monuments to a war once fought and lost.
It was then that a grisly reality became apparent; the remains of hundreds of gearforged littered the landscape like trash that had been carelessly tossed to the ground. Just on the other side of the waste-length wall that surrounded the small area where the heroes stood , a soft moaning was heard.”
The Court of Castigation
Slight movement a short distance away drew the keen eye of the group; A fallen gearforged appeared to move; its head turned revealing the side that was facing out of sight. The chassis fell over revealing large sections missing and swarms of small beetles feeding upon the metal. It was then apparent that the small piles of rust that littered the battlefield were the remains of their previous gear-forged meals.
A caw could be heard in the distance, followed by the flapping of wings. A raven-like bird swooped down and landed upon a rusting gearforged chassis. It appeared to pull out of it a memory gear and flew off. The large bird then dropped the coin in a chasm north of their position; it glimmered from the scarlet rays that permeate this “Bastion of the Broken”.
Rusty, the Broken Gearforged
The heroes then discovered a broken gearforged nearby, that had no memory of who he was and no legs with which to stand. They named him Rusty and Seven loaded him in his backpack and carried him with the group as they headed toward the chasm where the creature had flown.
Chasm of Greed
The chasm seemed to extend for miles on either side and was roughly 400ft wide to cross. A lone bridge spaned the gulf of the chasm; it swayed and creaked as the wind disturbed it. The bridge was suspended by two massive chains that were held in the hands of two large statues that adorned the entrance to the bridge on either side of the chasm. Like everything else in this realm of decay there statues also fell prey to varying degrees of deca. The one on the left was missing a leg; it was crumbling on the ground beneath it. Its right hand held the chain that suspended the bridge. Its left hand held a staff that was fashioned out of the same ore that statue was formed. The shaft spaned over 12 feet tall and was topped with a perfect circle with a portion of the very top missing.
The right statue held another massive chain within its left hand; its right arm had long since fallen to the ground and lie crumbling below where it was once attached. It too probably held a similar staff, but it must have succumbed to decay some time ago.
Below, there were no sounds of rushing water, only mounds of shifting sand as the wind blew it into small dunes that filled the gorge. There were hundreds of items protruding from the sand: gold coins, a crown; jewelry of all sorts with various gem inlays. Just then, the formerly seen large raven-like bird approached the gorge again with a new spoil that it had retrieved from the battlefield. The creature dropped a small sphere of some sort. It glowed as it hit the sand below.”
Vesper launched out on to the swinging bridge and the sand below began to swirl. Reaching just about the middle, the statues released the chains holding the bridge and she plummeted into the sand below. To make matters worse, as she made contact with the stand, it affixed itself to her form and she was affectively grappled while the giant dune mimic prepared to consume her.
Baenland made a daring descent into the gorge to mount a rescue, but not before the mimic swallowed her; Vesper fell unconscious, with the end of her life almost assured.
Kino scaled half way down the chasm wall and managed to land divine healing upon Vesper as the beast opened his mouth once again to try and consume Baenland. This attracted the attention of a swarm of Rust Beetles who swarmed the newly arrived Prototype Seven.
The Heroes managed to best the beast and run off the rust Swarm; thereby saving their fallen comrade from certain death.
Next Week: The Legacy of the Betrayer Part 2
Can the heroes survive long enough within the Bastion of the Broken to find the well of souls and destroy it before it is too late?