21 December 2010

Chapter the Fifth: No Time Like the Past

As the party exited the tunnels of the Lowcitadel of Khavash they came upon a storage area and the voices of a busy harbor. Dock workers speaking in the old S'suman dialect drew closer and the party withdrew back into the tunnels, now strangely lit by torches. The workers spotted the party and ran for the guards who arrived as the group took a fortified position on the beach despite being strangely blinded by the bright yellow sun. The Khavashan harbor guard bore odd spears, more primitive versions of those carried by the Tollmasters. With some deft lies and rapid translation from S'smuliss the party was able to escape eastward toward New Roeblini City along the narrow beach of the Forrest Sea.

Tyrian and Ulmo rapidly realized that the world at the end of the tunnels of the Lowcitadel was not the same as the one they had left behind when they began their escape from Khavash. Given the change in the Southern sun's brightness and the appearance of Godslayers of a different epoch, the two surmised that they had somehow been transported back in time. They carefully made their way along the sandstone cliffs and narrow beach toward New Roeblini City or whatever city they would find at this point in history.

The next day they came upon the wreck of a huge Roeblini Warraider Galley with an unfamiliar clan-faction sigil painted on its four story bow. The broken nose of the ship revealed a huge gash into the galley slaves rowing quarters. Tyrian was pawed at by a rotting hand and quick inspection revealed hundreds of shackled zombies, the galley slaves now sharing an imprisoned undeath just as they had in life. Deciding to avoid the shackled horde, Tyrian threw a hook and line to the deck above and ascended to the deck above. There he was assaulted by a zombie rotter that he quickly dispatched. As he hoisted Ulmo to the deck, S'smuliss engaged with his falchion the next shambling undead. As Ulmo reached the railing he called upon chaotic forces to destroy not only the creature attacking his comrades but the next closest as well. With deliberate precision the party dispatched the remainder of the zombies, lumbering with slow menace.

They made their way to the barred doors of the captain's tower and striking upon the doors they roused the remnant (living) survivors of the Warraider. Behind the doors were five survivors, including a blond stripling who appeared as like to Morgrin as a twin separated by millenia, named Tyrios. They ransacked what little they could and broke down the doors of the captain's quarters. Inside they found an iron chest with many gold imperials and silver fingers as well as eagle eye goggles. The party lit the doomed wreck aflame and fled to the east along the narrow sandy beach.

A few days later they came upon a familiar bay with an unfamiliar city. The S'suman Imperial City lay in grandiose splendor beneath the Griffon Cliffs. Great grey-white walls ringed a city that dwarfed the chancre that would grow on its remains in the future. The architecture was the high art of the peak of the Godslayer Imperium, gray roofs upon white walls. At the gate the party was charged with visas of entry and license to practice magic. With these documents came official escorts, polite but ever present. They directed the group to the docks so that the beleaguered survivors of the Warraider could return to the Mother Enclave. Tyrios asked and received permission to remain with Ulmo and Tyrian. As they walked the streets, trumpets sounded and they were commanded to bow their heads. An eight man litter bearing a masked alien humanoid with a familiar black shako came through the streets. Four paladin guards rode in formation, one strikingly familiar, a living S'smuliss. As the living past locked eyes with the undead future a stark realization occurred and the skeletal warrior evaporated. A shaken S'smuliss dropped a ruby ring into the waiting clutches of Grey. The ring had an ornate glyph for "truth" floating in its center.

Ulmo and Tyrian were escorted to the only inn that served foreign travelers in the Imperial City. The next morning they were met by S'smuliss, who reclaimed his ring, and questioned them regarding his skeletal doppleganger. The two heros related what they knew about his future history and warned him of the ambush by orb worshippers. He invited them as his guests in the city and gave them bands marking them as such. Seeking to know more about the future destruction of the Southern Sun, they sought the temple of Avandra to learn more about the Masters of the Truth, who explained the cult's growing following among the city's elite and their tenants of spurning the gods. They were directed to the makeshift sage and wizard's guild called the Thinker's Corner. There they discussed the theology of killing a god with one S'shadrick. He explained that if the Masters of Truth wished to kill a god they could do it with an arcane, divine, or psychic weapon powerful enough or by diverting most of the deity's followers to another belief. He believed that either method might be used by the Masters if they sought the ultimate goal of their philosophy.

Later Ulmo and Tyrian spoke with S'smuliss regarding the Masters of Truth. He would hear no word against his benefactors, as they had healed both himself and his sister after a terrible riding accident, something that the priests of Pharthas the Southern Sun had refused as part of his destiny, a frivolous injury that did not further the service of their god. Unable to obtain more information regarding the Masters in the city, the heros decided that they needed to learn more about the Masters of Truth and the danger they presented elsewhere. Two avenues presented themselves, with the first they could travel to the front of the war with the Condraconacy, to see if the weapon of the Masters of Truth could be found and stopped. The second was also a long shot, it seemed likely that a god was directing the steps of our heros and as such the most likely one doing that was Drouss, the Northern Sun, the brother and rival of Pharthas.

They travelled north via a small Roeblini trader, along the way becoming fouled in a vile jelly floating on the ocean currents. The band dispatched it with axe and arcane craft. They arrived at the Cathedralisle of Drouss, sailing into port in the vast sea cave at the temple's base. They climbed to the cathedral floor and under the crystal ceiling of the church, Tyrian called upon Drouss for a sign. The god manifested himself in Tyrian's mind's eye as he hovered in the air, searing sunlight emanating from his orifices and steam evaporating from his skin. Drouss, a platinum-haired giant, bearing a solar halberd and a shield cut from the sky, gave audience to the paltry mortal. Ulmo and Tyrian had been chosen by fate as the agents of great change. The gods had long played games with the heroes and kingdoms of the world, but when the Godslayers slew Pharthas, Drouss lost his greatest rival and lost his meaning, starting his slow mortal decline. In order to prevent this he had foreseen that our two heros would fall through a temporal anomaly and go back in time to a moment that would make it possible to stop the Masters of the Truth. The future Drouss left information hidden the crevices of their minds to inform his past self about the fall of Pharthas.

The ordeal of his divine audience bleached Tyrian's hair a platinum hue. Following his recovery, the high priest of Drouss directed them to a scrying pool within a sea cave in order that they might learn what was hidden under the masks of the Masters of Truth. They scryed upon one of these fanatics and witnessed what was under the mask: the horrific tentacled visage of a mind flayer. Armed with this insight into their foe, Ulmo and Tyrian decided that they needed magics for dealing with mind powers of the illithids. The priests of Drouss knew of an abandoned psion monastery some leagues away, that might hold the magics they sought. Tyrian and Ulmo made ready for the next leg of their journey.