The Apocalypse Prophet

Session 67 (2023-06-10/Oathday Arodus -11, 4722 AR)

((Anders, Carina, Erik, Lars, Molle))


After much preparation and some serious shopping the group headed for Diobel, the city nearest the Kortos Mounts which were rumoured to hold the Verdant Tower. There they heard that their best bet was to head up to Eagle Fort, and pass into the wild lands beyond. Or, rather, that they should stay in town instead, as only the insane went beyond Eagle Fort.

Being insane(ly heroic) they headed for Eagle Fort. On the road there they chanced upon a soldier that had been captured by a group of Saurians who were please to see more dinner coming up the road, proceeded to attempt to fill their larder, but, alas, were slain for their troubles.

The soldier seemed fairly weird, and they suspected something was up. (The blue runes circling his head was a bit of a giveaway...) Their suspicions turned out to be true, as when they were near the fort a Morrigna Psychopomp revealed herself, and told them about the Axiomite artifact brought to this world by Aroden that had captured the minds of all at the fort, urging them to stop it, but be careful.

At the fort they bluffed their way up to see the captain - the soldiers seemed strange, and not particularly bright - where they soon started up the fight, which turned out to involve everyone in the fort. As they had no desire to kill the obviously mind-controlled soldiers they had to be more careful than usual. In the end only one soldier died of his wounds, and was later raised by the group.

Once the soldiers had been subdued they found and skillfully disabled the artifact, freeing everyone. One of the prisoners turned out to be a demon, which was also killed. As a reward, the captain gave them a Shield of the Unified Legion taken from a dead hero of Eagle Fort.

The guards told them that they knew saurians and xulgathis were travelling the lands beyond, but the guards had never really ventured far into the mounts.

They then rested up for a day or two in preparation for travelling on.


Session 68 (2023-06-20/Oathday Arodus 11, 4722 AR)

((Anders, Carina, Erik, Lars, Molle))

As they were passing through the foothills into the mountains a snowstorm suddenly appeared despite the clear skies just before. Having learned about Wendigo activity in the area from the soldiers at the fort they were not surprised when a group of these, along with a dragon of some sort attacked. Nor were they defeated.

Once the Wendigos were taken care of the storm vanished as soon as it had arrived.

More trouble showed up when they arrived at the abandoned waystation, where a couple more Wendigos, a pack of ghosts apparently guarding a silver rapier in the ruins and an as yet unseen presence at the top of the pass awaited them. As we ended the session the fight had only just started.


Session 69 (2023-07-04/Oathday Arodus 12, 4722 AR)

((Anders, Carina, Lars, Molle))

After the Wendigos had been dispatched and the ghosts had been pacified (and later permanently put to rest) the unseen presence turned out to be a Bone Augur that - despite Calinthia's mumblings about consorting with the undead - was peacefully interacted with.

The rapier turned out to be a sacred, intelligent relic of the church of Iomedae named Piereta. She was placed in this shrine when her most recent wielder perished over a century ago, and has lain here abandoned ever since.  She’s particular about who she permits to wield her. She accepts any worshipper of Iomedae in good standing, as well as any character of lawful good or neutral good alignment who also worships a good‑aligned deity. Any other character wishing to wield Piereta must explain why their goals are worthy (preventing the destruction of life across the Isle of Kortos certainly qualifies) and succeed at a Diplomacy check before Piereta agrees to accompany them.

Andrinal picked her up, but she refused to work with him, though the noble Shrieky was certainly worthy - although unable to actually wield her. After some discussion she agreed to let Andrinal wield Shrieky, who held Piereta. (With a -4 penalty to attacks.)

Talking with the Bone Augur revealed that it has haunted the Kortos Mounts for centuries, but far fewer travelers have made the journey along this road in the past century—certainly a side effect of Aroden’s death. It has incorporated bones from several of the recently slain xulgaths into its form and told a great deal about Sarvel’s plans: that the xulgath leader is a favored prophet of the demon lord Zevgavizeb, and that the xulgaths are traveling to the Verdant Beacon so that Sarvel can perform a ritual known as the extinction curse, which (according to the xulgaths) will wipe out life from the Starstone Isles and sink them back into the sea. It has also stolen the bones and memories of much older travelers who have visited the Vale of Aroden, and thus it is aware of the vale’s role as both a gateway to the Verdant Beacon and a test of visitors’ worthiness. It explained that the Trials of Aroden is a 12‑part test for any that wish to enter the Verdant Beacon. It told them it had no details about the tests beyond the fact that each part involves a statue.

This turned out to be guarded by a gargantuan stone statue construct with a penchant for triggering avalanches. This did not crush the party, who instead smashed the statue to bits. During this fight Piereta agreed to temporarily be wielded by Andrinal after Shrieky was seriously injured and had to step out of the fight. (Andrinal can attempt a reroll of Diplomacy, and has a +2 circumstance bonus to it due to Shrieky's intercession and his own attempts to portray his actions as effectively upholding the ideals of Iomedae.)

As they passed beyond the final pass they saw the Vale of Aroden stretch out ahead of them. As they progressed down into the plain of the valley they passed between a pair of statues of the same man - one as a beggar, one as a shepherd - at which point a gargantuan human-like being stepped out of the mists. It told them it's name was Eilosseh, a simple shepherd that was here to guard it's flock, to ask for help, and to help those who asks. After talking to her they found out that to enter the Verdant Tower one had to pass a number of Trials, each of which was represented by a statue of one of the Guises of Aroden. Not all need be passed, but each trial passed will make things eaiser for them at the Tower.

How do we know what to do for each trial? Eilosseh first gestures to the two statues nearby. “Observe. What guise does the god wear? What does he do in that guise? How can you do the same?” She then points to the statue of the beggar. “Here, the god is a beggar, asking for aid. In asking me, you have done the same. Go to the statue, and you will see that you are like him already, in this guise at least.”

Don’t you realize Aroden is dead? Eilosseh nods solemnly. “We all die in due time, save the Lady of Graves herself.”

What help do you need? “I am a shepherd, but my flock has wandered afield. Each time I bring a beast here, it wanders off as I search for the next. Will you return my lost flock to me?” 

What dangers should we watch for? “Foes wander this vale just as friends do. Not all things are what they seem. Look before you leap.” Eilosseh smiles knowingly and gives a solemn nod.

Have you seen any xulgaths?  “Foul‑smelling lizards, yes. Troglodytes, we called them, in ages past. They passed through here some days ago, with great lizard folk and demons and daemons and dinosaurs. They claimed their titles and ascended to the god’s tower, but some yet linger in the vale.”

They agreed to help find her lost sheep and bring them back to the shepherd statue.


Session 70 (2023-07-15/Oathday Arodus 12-16, 4722 AR)

((Anders, Carina, Erik, Lars, Molle))

They headed out searching for the lost elysian sheep. On the way they discovered a scholar statue, a fisher statue, a valley in the mountains that smelled strongly of Xulgath, a hunter statue, a patrol of some kind of metallic humanoids that went along a regular route.

After returning all the sheep they handily won the Scholar's Trial (after disposing of the Xulgath that were in the process of wrecking the obelisks at the trial) and then proceeded to the Hunter's Trial. There they found another group of Xulgathi hunting the same beast they were hunting, but Druzzt reacted quickly and shot the deer before the Xulgathi had a chance, after which the group took out the Xulgathi and their weird hunting beasts.

Pressing on they found the Merchant's Trial, where they bargained their way to a one gp profit on a trade of pretty much all their excess treasure in return for most of the merchant's inventory. They also asked for, and got, both the efreeti merchant's calling card and a tuning fork for the Plane of Fire.

Feeling the need to hurry to get another Trial they headed for what turned out to be the Soldier's Trial where they defeated a Marilith and some other demons that were apparently guarding the statue, thus succeeding at the trial.

After a brief debate on whether to press on, head for the tower, or sleep the night, we ended the session.


Session 71 (2023-07-18/Oathday Arodus 16-17, 4722 AR)

((Anders, Carina, Lars, Molle)) ((And, for a while, a soundless Erik))

They decided to sleep for the night, then head for the valley where they had smelled Xulgathi.

On the way they fished up a linnorm from the acidic lake to succeed at the Thief's Trial and sewed clothes for a statue from a bunch of bedrolls and a Cloak of Feline Rest for the Tailor's Trial.

Once there they cautiously explored the statue of (what turned out to be) the Thief's Trial. They soon found a hidden chamber beneath it, that would require someone to Squeeze to be able to reach it as Shrikey would not be able to lift the huge emerald that was found in the innermost chamber. Farlaf - being the second smallest member of the group - managed to get down to the emerald, only for the room around him to explode into flames as he triggered a trap. Worse, as he began to slowly climb to the top, a gargantuan humanoid monster attacked the rest on the group on the surface.

Anders: I.e. it should take Farlaf 10 round to get up. But that's just boring. So, if you want, you  can instead get to the surface at the end of this round, but, you'll be Fatigued.


Session 72 (2023-07-29/Oathday Arodus 17-18, 4722 AR)

((Anders, Carina, Erik, Lars, Molle))

As it turned out it was actually *Talmot* that had gone down the well, not Farlaf. Obvious in hindsight. :) (I.e. we retconned it.)

They managed to end the titan before mopping up the swarm of undead oozes that arrived on it's heels. After a thorough looting session, and completing the trial, they reset the teleportation ban of the valley to exclude them, and only them. After a quick trip to Absalom to prepare before the main event they headed for what turned out to be the Artisan Trial. They easily defeated the guards there, and Andrinal broke the newly looted Staff of the Magi to power his repair of the gate.

After stepping through the gate they found themselves on a ledge around the tower, far above the valley. The ledge was guarded by four demons - incidentally rather put off by not being able to dimension door any more - that were soon defeated.

They entered the tower, finding the vestibule spotlessly clean and opulently outfitted. They headed through the western door, where after triggering the trap they were instantly attacked by a number of Xulgathi Thoughtmaws, who watched in horror as the group effortlessly shrugged off their most powerful magics, coming to the realization that they were hopelessly outmatched. After some negotiation the Thoughtmaw leader (currently in the ritual chamber, helping Sarvel with the ritual), who was no longer particularly keen on Sarvel's plan, agreed to be as inept as possible in his assistance to Sarvel, as long as the Thoughtmaws ended up in possession of one of the Aeon Orbs, that they could then take down to the Vault to begin reconquering it.

This settled the group decided to skip the treasure chamber from which Sarvel had taken a few things. Feeling the time growing short they instead headed for the upper level.

We ended the session here.


Session 73 (2023-08-02/Oathday Arodus 18, 4722 AR)

((Anders, Carina, Erik, Lars, Molle))

Up the stairs they found a few Vavakia and a Marilith led by a Balor. To the surprise of  the Balor, the party won.

Before they had time to rest, some Saurians in the neighbouring room had woken up and attacked the group along with some summoned Tyrannosauruses.

We ended in the middle of that fight.

Session 74 (2023-08-15/Oathday Arodus 18, 4722 AR)

((Anders, Carina, Erik, Lars, Molle))

After finishing off the remaining saurian the group patched themselves up a bit, but feeling time pressure they immediately headed to the top level.

There they found that Sarvel Ever-Hunger was just about to start the Extinction Curse ritual, along with his two demonic bodyguards and their erstwhile ally Kirosthrek.

A fierce fight ensued as the Aeon Orbs rose out of the floor with the group managing to take control of them before Sarvel could by the simple expedient of sending him off to an extradimensional Maze while they cleaned up the guards, finally slaying him before he could complete the ritual. Kirosthrek, being obviously loyal to Sarvel, did many useful things during the fight. Such as figuring out if the attackers were dangerous. Considering what to do. Buffing himself. That sort of very obviously not at all being traitorous things.

When the fight was over the Orbs sank back into the ground, Kirosthrek took one orb as his payment and headed off before the Pleroma known as Weighs-the-Epochs entered, explaining that he was the guardian of the treasures of Aroden, and asking

* Who is the Guardian? Druzzt said she was, and Weighs-the-Epochs handed over the Aroden-crafted sword known as the Kortos Diamond, and explained his role as the protector of the valley and Aeon Tower network that kept the island safe and habitable.

* Who is the Hunter? Calintia said she was, and Weighs-the-Epochs handed over the Aroden-crafted atlatl known as Hunter's Dawn, and explained her role as hunter of invading monsters.

* Who is the Smith? Andrinal said he was, and Weighs-the-Epochs handed over the Aroden's Hearthstone, and explained his role as the armorer of the valley

* Who cries for Aroden? Farlaf said he did, Weighs-the-Epochs handed over the the necklace called Tears of the Last Azlanti, and told him to use it's wisdom to prepare for the return. He declined to explain *what* return.

Talmot and Piereta didn't feel left out, they had plans beyond the valley. 

The End.