21 February 2012

The Apocalypse Stone or "Lemme Tarrasque a Question"

Following Boris, Dorune, Goldune, and Warrick's retrieval of the ornate egg from Castle Brave and turning it over to Gareth, the world went mad. It rained soup, then frog demons. The village near the adventurers' keep was decimated by plague. Someone (or something) slaughtered the retainers of our hero's keep and stitched them back together into horrific flesh golems. Dwarves and elves started living together. The city of Greyhawk was sucked into a massive sink hole. In all the end was upon them.

At the doughty explorer's keep, our party was attacked. Invisible fiends lashed them with magics that froze all but Boris in place. Spells were spun from the empty air while unseen talons and transparent fangs gouged the party. Brave Boris was, despite censure of his divine might, able to break the enchantment, freeing the party. Immediately the dwarf-troll hybrids went to work, one-by-one disassembling the pit fiends as Warrick lashed them eldritch might. Boris imploded the demons with his divine powers. In the end one pit fiend hovered, still invisible, above the party, punitively striking the heroes with sorcerous talents. Goldune grabbed his creche-brother and threw him at the demon, Dorune grabbing a hold and raining axe blows upon the floating fiend. The pit fiend's overlord, Maloubaub, then unmasked himself...only to be summarily destroyed by Boris' dweomer craft.

That night the party shared a dream of a snowy vale with a trail of blood leading to a distant castle. They awoke in that same vale, except no castle or bloody trail. Convinced that this was a sign of further trials they journeyed in the direction of a tower of smoke roughly in the direction that castle should have been. They found a ruined village and there were beset upon by an old knight who terrasque'd them to fight a great horned beast. Much debate occurred within the party, in the end the benefits of stopping one marauding beast versus those of stopping the apocalypse, could not be outweighed. They politely declined the knight's offer, who rode off fuming. The party was joined by a young boy, Ned, from a neighboring village who guided them on their journey.

As they journeyed further they were caught between warring factions of centaurs and wemics. Each side bemoaned their woes at the hands, hooves, or paws of their foes and each side offered a king's ransom for the adventurers to join their cause. The brothers Warbreed derided both sides as having great financial wealth which could be used to solve their problems rather than fighting over scraps. The party left the cowed lion men and horse men in their wake.

They journeyed on, coming upon a frozen knight kneeling before a forgotten, holy spring, a hidden altar to the god of justice. As they approached, the massive armored form began to move, and the skeletal visage of a death knight peered down upon the party. A deep, sepulchral voice emanated from the lungless mouth, "I am Lucius".

This Lucius turned out to be the same Lucius of legend, who with advancing age had faltered in his quest, who became jealous of his two squires' youthful prowess and struck them down, the god of justice cursing him henceforth. Remorseful, Lucius had tried all means that he could to lift his curse, to no avail. In the end, centuries ago he had come to his spring where he had remained in thoughtful prayer and contemplation. The spring's curative waters had not then or now, had any reversing effect on the justice god's curse. Hearing that the party intended to recover the Apocalypse Stone, Lucius begged to join their quest. The brothers Warbreed drank from the spring and felt invigorated. Boris took a flask of the spring's sacred waters for future use.

Their final trial took them to Ned's village, where the party interrupted the villagers from hanging an old crone, an herbalist who lived near the village. The villagers believed that the crone had kidnapped a child and sacrificed him to a demon as well as engaging in mutilation of cattle. Halting the lynch mob with a demonstration of whole body flossing using the mob provided rope, the party investigated. They found the missing child, Timi, who had fallen in a shallow well. However on investigating the crone's hovel they found the remnants of a mutilated steer. Cleared of murder, but guilty of consorting with demons, the witch was executed as a planar traitor.

Having successfully solved the challenges put fourth by the God of Justice, they were spirited away to the ruins of Castle Brave. There they found the naked and butchered corpses of many people, corpses that bore the mark of familiar ax and spell craft. Deep in a crevasse they found the madman who they thought they had killed during the last battle of Castle Brave. Although gravely injured and his body broken, the madman gibbered on. Using the healing waters of the spring, they healed the man, not only in body but in mind.

The man, speaking in a sonorous wise voice, revealed himself to be Parshawn II, who had been ruler of Castle Brave. He told our heroes that Gareth was his brother, a man twisted so by jealousy, that he had made demonic allies and cast nefarious spells to bring down Castle Brave and wrest the Apocalypse Stone from its environs. Gareth had cursed his brother with madness and polymorphed his retainers into the beasts that had attacked our heros when they raided the castle. The removal of the Apocalypse Stone from Castle Brave had started the destruction of the terrestrial plane, knocking it off its axis and severing the connection to the other planes.

By restoring Parshawn II, Boris regained a measure of his divine might. Then the disciple of justice, Parshawn, Second of His Name, transported the party to Castle Craven, Gareth's twisted replica of the now shattered home of the Apocalypse Stone. The party approached the gates, carving through the giant guards at the gate like a razor through a gelatinous cube. Inside the castle they found a team of mercenary adventures, sworn to the service of Gareth. These they dispatched with ease, despite having to face the untapped reserves of Gareth's powerful guard. In the end, they cast down the twisted half-god and liberated the Apocalypse Stone.

This object of creation was hurriedly returned to Castle Brave where Parshawn could contain its planar warping powers. He offered the heroes positions to help guard the Stone from further depredation, for he who controlled the Apocalypse Stone, controlled the stability of the planes. And so the strange band was sundered, the Warbreed taking up a new task as guardians while Warrick and Boris continued back into the world looking to greater understand eldritch and necromantic craft.

And so our tale ends...for now