After liberating the dwarves from the burning temple in Kadesh, they liberated more dwarves and the dwarven army rolled forth, fighting The Ardwolf army and chasing them from the city. Maisie Douglas MacNair once again admonished the group to hurry to Betharbel to save the rest of the dwarves and also to save Daiyu Lei-Hai (Black Jade Thundrous Sea Storm). As the group is grabbing their gear to head out, they are approached by Princess Leila and Shahin who let them know that they didn’t see the need to retrace their footsteps and further endanger themselves heading to Betharbel with them. Instead, the princess handed Brogan Lonehammer Allen a scrying mirror so that they could keep in touch. Daiyu Xifeng (Black Jade Flourishing Phoenix) was in a hurry, so she pushed the group to pick up their wagon, their mounts, and hurry on their way.
Lei-hai woke to find herself in a cage sitting in a dark room, somewhere deep beneath the earth. The room was lit with a strange, sickly-purplish light coming from two large crystals spinning in the back of the room and filling the room with a strange purplish haze. As she scanned the room, she was surprised to notice that two men were standing in the room as well. One she recognized as Frederick Jager, the other was introduced to her as Harken Gottlieb, the latter also emitted that sickly wrong feeling that was coming from the crystals, that she’d come to associate anyone with from the Cult of Morigar.
As Harken left her alone with Frederick, she demanded where she was and why she was here. Frederick admitted that she was bait for his brother’s group, but also insurance. Lei-hai demanded to know why he hated his brother so much? Frederick admitted that his brother had destroyed the family’s honor and so as the next in line, it was his place to restore it. Lei couldn’t imagine having to kill a sibling, even to restore honor, and she understood honor. She asked him why he couldn’t just talk with his brother, there was no need for bloodshed. Frederick seemed to accept this, but then shook his head, as if something was bothering him and told her that it had to be this way and stalked out of the room.
The group made good time through the desert, using Luisa’s nature skills to guide them. They were able to avoid most of the groups still fighting outside of the city, even those where the dwarves were chasing down Ardwolf survivors. It was a almost 10 days that they traveled, the sands of the desert, slowly turning to red rock formations, which let Brogan and Muad’dib know that they were getting closer to the city.
Along the way, Alister Jager was suddenly pelted by a rock upside the head. The group turned to see a young woman riding down on them, throwing rocks haphazardly and hollering for Alister. The young noble reined in his horse and shook his head, muttering his sister’s name, Sophia Jager. A young, beautiful woman rode up and started berating her brother for running out and leaving the family. She never took a breath and therefore never gave the Paladin any time to respond. When her tirade had run it’s course, Alister then did his best to explain why he’d joined the The Church of Jehovah. Sophie was confused, wondering why he’d want to join the church of people they were going to conquer and subjugate? At that time the people would be willing to join the The Church of Wulf and then none of this would matter! Brogan could no longer hold his tongue and he asked the chit how she’d feel if the Aachenvald League conquered her lands and not only forced them to join their church, but also made them their slaves, subject to their rules and their government? This shocked the young noble, who had clearly never considered this stance… So she decided that maybe she should travel with the group longer to learn more. That was when they learned that she’d run away from home.
As they approached the city, the group was relieved to find that the Ardwolf Armies weren’t yet there, so they’d made it in time. As they approached the gate, they met some resistance because dwarves were travelling with others. Brogan berated them for keeping a cleric out of his home town. He was finally able to convince them, but as they group was led through the gates, Brogan was shocked to find his master, Chief Priest Duncan Allen there waiting, but his shocked look was reflected back at him. As the younger cleric bowed to his elder, the Chief Duncan finally found his voice and announced that he’d been sent here by a vision from God to find the next Voice of God… which would be Brogan. Now everyone was shocked as the Chief Priest led the group to the Counsel Chambers, where the Counsel was in session. Along the way, the group noticed a thick green miasma filled the city, making it hard to see and hear. the only one it didn’t seem to affect was Brogan.
As they entered, Chief Duncan interrupted a rather heated debate to announce to the gathered Dwarves that not only had Brogan Goldspinner Allen, the child of prophecy, returned, but God had made it known that he was to be called as the next Prophet. The silence that descended upon the chamber was deafening. Brogan broke the silence to argue that a Prophet had not been called in a few hundred years, how could this be possible? Chief Scholar James Martin proclaimed that this was the part of the prophecy that had been written over 500 years ago. Brogan’s Æld had only given part of the prophecy, but he’d later found the full prophecy in the records. Brogan then spoke of the force that was attacking, unknown, and that they had to focus on that. Chief General Edgar MacNair argued that they knew of no force sneaking up on the city, but he’d send out scouts right away. Chief Artisan Gavin MacEwan then reminded them that they would be at a severe disadvantage if they had to fight anyone with the mists still clinging to the city! Brogan asked what mists and everyone looked at him like he was daft. Chief Duncan pointed out that this was further proof that Brogan had already been set aside as the Prophet since the curse didn’t affect him.
While the group was talking, Xifeng got bored and decided that she could waste no more time, so she snuck out to start looking for her sister, whom she could sense here in the city.
Brogan asked what the Counsel meant by a curse? Chief Farmer Kenneth Gillies explained that long before the city of Betharbel was built on this spot, the Cult of Morigar had had a secret lair there. The dwarves had driven out the cultists, but they’d been unable to destroy their lair. So the Prophet of old had sealed it with a holy seal, which only prophets could open. It seemed that the mists were coming from the sealed lair, deep beneath the city and there had been no way to get in to counter it. Luckily, they now had a prophet to deal with this very problem. Chief Duncan agreed to lead the group down into the underground, and that’s when they discovered that the Drow was missing.
Xifeng had followed the feeling to a sealed grating in the middle of the street. She could sense her sister deep within the earth, but could find no way down, so she used a dimension door to step down into a small room with a familiar white bowl on a pedestal. On the wall was another riddle:
built to crush,
grind to dust
She couldn’t figure it out, so she sat down to study it.
Chief Duncan finally led them down to a door set with a holy sigil on it. Standing before the door, Brogan felt that he should remove his Æld’s earring and as he did, it grew into a full sized staff. Following the prompting, he tapped it on the door and the seal opened, opening the door in the process. As Chief Duncan returned upstairs, the group entered the small room, amazed to find their lost companion sitting in the middle of the floor meditating on the riddle. The riddle gave the group some difficulty, but finally Gaki figured it out, and after conferring that Muad’dib could give him a new gold one, he yanked out a tooth and threw it in the bowl. The wall in the back of the room, folded back upon itself to reveal a glowing portal. Everyone was afraid to be the first to enter, so the Artificer picked up Gaki and threw him through it. The rest then followed.
Gaki woke in the center of a dark village with a fountain in the center. As he looked around, a shadowy figure stayed just out of sight, whispering depressing things at him, like how he was a failure, who’d ever love someone like him, why try, why bother, why fight, failure… failure, failure!
Finally Gaki fought back, but his heart wasn’t in it, the whispered words were affecting him, until the shadow mentioned that Brogan only put up with him. Somewhere deep inside, Gaki knew better and was able to slash the specter and run. He dashed down alleys, only to end back in the central square, with the fountain and the shadow waiting for him, still whispering deprecations at him. Finally, the shadow offered him the power that he wanted, the power to be more. Reluctantly the young man gave in and took the gift that was offered. In a flash he ended up in a room with a glowing rune on the floor. As he stepped on it, he was whisked away.
Xifeng woke on a battlefield, standing over the body of her slain sister. Grief threatened to overwhelm her, but something didn’t seem right. Through the bond that she shared with her sister, Lei-hai didn’t feel dead. The bladesinger sought her center, her place of meditation, and focused on it and the life pulse of her sister deep in her core. In a flash she found herself in a room with a glowing rune on the floor, being guarded by a zombie-like dragonborn with a strange crystal floating behind it. She sent out her blade pretending to attack the creature, but swerved and attacked the crystal at the last moment. As the crystal shattered, its control over the dragonborn faded and she was able to step past it into the glowing rune.
Muad’dib woke kneeling on the floor with the ghosts of his parents berating him, demanding to know why he hadn’t yet avenged them. Their insistent badgering, mixed with his own deep-seeded guilt began to crush the dwarf. Finally he muttered that he didn’t know who’d killed them and the ghosts backed off. As they dissipated, they whispered that it was his uncle, Scott Wilson MacEwan. In a flash he found himself in a room with a glowing rune on the floor, being guarded by a zombie-like dragonborn with a strange crystal floating behind it. Killing the crystal allowed him to use the rune.
Luisa woke to find herself being beaten to death by her master, Berengar Nordberg, while being told to beat a fellow servant to death. Luisa didn’t care that she was dying. The teachings that Brogan and Alister had taught her led her to live a higher law, to be better than she was and to turn the other cheek. She refused to do his bidding and lay down to die, when there was a bright flash and she found herself in a room with a glowing rune on the floor, being guarded by a zombie-like dragonborn with a strange crystal floating behind it. Crushing the crystal she dashed into the rune.
Brogan woke on a battlefield surrounded by the dead bodies of his clansmen and his family. There was a crushing feeling that he’d failed them, that he’d failed the prophecy… but Brogan had already played this scenario out in his head more times than anyone could know, always afraid that he wouldn’t be worthy or ready when the time came. Instead he lost himself in prayer. With a flash, he found himself in a room with a glowing rune on the floor, being guarded by a zombie-like dragonborn with a strange crystal floating behind it. With a prayer still on his lips he sent his warhammer out knocked the dragonborn into the crystal destroying it. Still praying, he stepped into the rune.
Alister found himself in a T-shaped room with runes on the floor. On the far side of the room was a cage with Lei-hai in it, and along the wall behind her spun two evil looking crystals which were putting out the evil mists. In the center of the room he was confronted by his brother and a dark, evil looking man, Harken. Frederick instantly confronted his brother, claiming that it was finally time for their dual. He transformed into his evil self, while Harken chuckled that all of his plans had finally led up to this moment. Alister tried to back away from his brother, but he was given no choice as a sword descended towards his face. While the two of them squared off, one by one the others began to appear in different places around the room. Seeing them appear, Harken began summoning the crystal-controlled Dragonborn to fight them. The first thing Xifeng did was free her sister from the cage. While the others fought, Brogan appeared, still praying to his god, filling up with His holy power. Seeing the miasma swirling from Harken, he called on a Divine Bolt and let fly Aegis-Fang. While Harken was distracted, he missed the hammer flying at him from the back of the room, until it struck him with a critical hit, and the heavens opened above him, flooding him in holy light. With one hit, the mellifluous man was struck bloody before he knew what was happening. As he staggered, his crystal constructs faltered as well, as did his control over Frederick, and finally Alister’s love was able to reach his brother, who halted his attack.
Forgotten in the back of the room, Sophie cowered in a corner, frightened by all of the violence around her. Then she made the mistake of catching Harken’s eye, and he teleported to her side. He proclaimed that since the group had destroyed his fun, he would destroy theirs. He aimed a glowing attack at the young girl, but before it could strike, Frederick leaped in front of it, and was sheared in half. Snorting in disgust, Harken disappeared. His siblings ran to his side, crying over their lost brother who had just come back to them. Still enveloped in his God’s power, Brogan looked over at Gaki and told him that they’d be dealing with the new darkness within him soon, but then he walked over to the bloody mess that was Frederick, and laid his hands upon him, calling on the name of Jehova to resurrect this man. The prophet’s word was obeyed and Frederick was made whole again, even the darkness was rooted out of him. The three siblings fell into each others arms, now crying tears of joy, while Xifeng and Lei-hai also had a joyous reunion. Brogan then walked over and tapped each of the giant crystals with his staff and they shattered at the touch of his new power, dissipating the miasma that had been filling the city. This battle had been won, but the group wondered how long it would be before war was at the gates of the city?