Starting in the spring of 400 SA and ending that summer, this season does not appear on the Eon Timeline.

In which the dashing sea captain Telamore finds himself asking, "Where am I going? And why am I in this handbasket?"


See also: Ille Draconum

Season Premiere: I Will Make a Tent From Your Flesh, Mostly Because I Don't Have OneEdit

It's a cool, quiet night in Goneril City. In fact, Captain Elrand Telamore thinks it's too quiet. He and his crew have only just arrived and are looking for adventure, so they set out to find whether everyone is just feeling pretty subdued today or if there's a reason that even the red light district is looking pretty empty. Also, having somewhere to stay might be nice: they're all flat broke, and Telamore doesn't even have a tent. The nearest tavern is, however, both warm and a hub of information, and they can probably afford beer. Maybe.
The bartender is a little shocked when they troop inside; they are something of a mismatched group. For starters, there's the flamboyant and dashing Telamore, who is a fantastic ship captain and is several hundred miles from the nearest large body of water. At his heels are Gabriel Tanarruk, a tiefling paladin of Boccob; Heckle, a gnome gentleman and philosopher (and barbarian); and Hjartlos, son of Hjartlos, son of Hjartlos, son of Istar (so named because he was in the ground before he knew the warmth of a woman), son of Hjartlos, a half-elf druid trained as a shieldmaiden. Lurking outside is Yarnwell, a ten foot tall owl avian.
Some chatting up of the bartender ensues. They first get some background: Goneril City is home to Barron Ganth, who rules over much of the surrounding areas. He doesn't put much stock in gods, by which we mean that gods are taboo in Goneril City, full stop. Then the bartender explains more about why the town is so deserted. Lately, the locals have been hearing some horrific sucking noises and feeling unnaturally cold breezes -- and given that this is Goneril City, that's pretty freakin' cold. There have been the occasional disappearances and deaths, but no one knows exactly what is going on. No one has really wanted to find out, either.
Telamore looks at his crew, realizes that they're going to be sleeping outside anyway, and says that they're probably going to investigate by sheer necessity. He, Heckle, Hjartlos, and Yarnwell all head out after a few more drinks to go poke around the town. Gabriel is about to follow when she notices that the bartender is looking around in confusion and trying to talk to the air. She watches from the door as The Green Fairy starts quizzing the bartender. The Fairy tries her charms out, forgetting that she's completely invisible, and ends up thoroughly confusing the bartender rather than getting the information that she wants. Meanwhile, Gabriel gives the bartender up as crazy and joins the others.
By now, Yarnwell has located a strange tower with four sets of moving stone blocks at the top and masses of gears inside. After some study, Heckle tells everyone that this is some kind of a clock tower, though he hasn't determined the system by which it keeps time. Hjartlos crawls inside the tower and checks out the gears. He sees the words Halal self prone on the inside of the door, immediately drops to the ground, and shimmies back out. He sits up and explains what he saw, prompting Heckle to also crawl in and take a look. Telamore and Gabriel are both completely illiterate, and so kind of stand off to one side while Hjartlos, Heckle, and Yarnwell discuss what that nonsensical phrase could mean or if it could rearrange to anything. The Green Fairy notices that Telamore looks bored and so flies over to him and starts talking to him. Telamore spends a few minutes staring around trying to figure out where the voice is coming from while Gabriel asks him just how much he had to drink. Telamore tells her that he's pretty sure there's a fairy around. Gabriel facepalms.
Hjartlos scrambles back out of the clock tower as one of the blocks shifts and the clock begins to chime. As it finishes, a loud, sucking sound starts emanating from the edge of town. They all ditch the clock tower puzzle and take off towards the sound, pulling out weapons as they go. This was a good idea; as they skid to a halt by the guard towers, an Angel of Decay walks out from behind one of the guard towers and screams.
Telamore curses to the high heavens that undead don't take sneak attack damage and tries to fill it with arrows. Heckle and Yarnwell both learn painfully that coming into contact with an Angel of Decay means that you also start to decay. Hjartlos and Gabriel both embrace weapons with reach, along with some Flame Strike and smiting. The Fairy transforms into a hydra. It's pretty awesome.
A lot of beatdowns later, the Angel of Decay lies disintegrating on the ground, giving the party plenty of time to look around and see how thoroughly the Angel of Decay fucked things up. There are holes in the walls and the guard towers look pretty unstable now that part of their supports are rotting away. Most civilians and low-ranking guards have taken off by this time, but a much tougher group of guards is approaching. Their leader is a tall man in golden armor. They are just passing by one of the guard towers when it begins to fall. Telamore tosses his hat to Hjartlos and launches a flying tackle at the leader, knocking them both out of the way of the guard tower. The leader is unharmed; Telamore takes 6d6 of lightning damage to the...well, everything, really.
Telamore picks himself up off the ground, does not offer the man in electrum armor a hand up, and dusts himself off as the rest of his crew picks their way around the wreckage of the guard tower to join him. Telamore asks if the man in electrum armor is all right, and the man laughs and says that his heart is beating now. The man in electrum armor sizes them up for a moment, and then Telamore asks if they are in the presence of Barron Ganth. Ganth says that they are, and is impressed both with their handling of his little Angel of Decay problem as well as Telamore's sheer ballsiness in the face of electrum. Telamore mutters something about I swear this kind of thing always happens to me and then says that it was nothing, really. Gabriel adds that they are both glad to help and glad to be staying alive themselves. Ganth laughs and asks them where they're staying for the night. Telamore looks around and then says that they were thinking that maybe the ground here would work, except for all of the bits of wall that fell down on it. Ganth tells them that they may consider their stay in an inn paid for, and asks them to come see him in his castle the next morning.
The party waits for him to leave, at which point Telamore goes around high-fiving people and rejoicing that they have a warm place to sleep that night! With beds! And food! And alcohol! Yarnwell mentions the clock tower puzzle again, but Telamore says that they'll either think about it after a lot more beer or the next morning, whichever comes later. This is agreeable to just about everyone, so the party spends the rest of the night drinking, telling stories of other epic adventures to anyone else who might be listening, and patching up their wounds.
The next morning, the party heads up to Barron Ganth's castle to meet with him. They are shown inside, where he gives them another once-over and tells them that he has a proposition for them. It will be a big job and he's willing to pay for it: a tripod upon completion. Each. Telamore tries not to be openly floored by this sum and says that they're certainly listening.
Ganth nods and begins. There is a river on the northern border of his kingdom, just shy of Icewinton, called the Mudvayne Flats. A hydra has been spotted there of late, which has been massively interrupting trade routes and other traffic between his kingdom and points north. Eldergrin and Ravinia are soon to be at war, if the political climate is any indication. Ganth hopes to be doing serious business with Eldergrin, and the hydra is in his way. Also, this is one hell of a hydra: he is Simun, the son of Tiamat. Tiamat is the goddess of chromatic dragons and mother of all dragons, both good and evil. She was banished from the Prime Material Plane several centuries ago, but Simun remains. Adventurers seeking glory have gone after the hydra for months, but none have returned successful. Few have returned at all.
Ganth then begins talking about the influence of the gods on the Prime Material Plane. He asks Gabriel why she would be a paladin of a god so apathetic and uncaring that his very existence is debatable. Gabriel tells him that she's a believer and she's going to take her best guess at what she should be doing until Boccob indicates otherwise. Ganth is entertained, and says he can deal with a god who has no interest in the Prime Material Plane. He wants to be the ruler of his kingdom, and he doesn't want anyone else getting in the way -- man, demi-god, or god. He wants to protect his kingdom from the influence of gods.
Ganth then explains that Simun has eight heads, which breathe both acid and fire. It used to have twelve, but several months' worth of heroes throwing themselves at the hydra has reduced the head count by four. The heads will not regenerate. The hydra is not an aquatic creature, though it is a good swimmer, and must always come to the surface to breathe.
Finally, he wants a specific piece of treasure from Simun's stomach: a small metal disc with squiggles inscribed around the outside and a symbol in the center. Heckle asks if these squiggles might be words. Ganth explains that he doesn't know because he cannot read, as he has no time for such frivolities and has slaves who can do that for him. Telamore commiserates, though with him it's less 'slaves' and more 'people who mock him for being uneducated'. Ganth tells them that the disc is both magical and powerful.
Telamore and his crew confer for a moment, and then tell Ganth that they'll accept his job. Ganth tells them that he'll have some things for them the next morning to aid them, if they will accept it, and dismisses them.
Telamore and co. head back to the inn to relax and, eventually, party: they went from destitute, out-of-work adventurers to potentially wealthy adventurers on a quest to defeat a demi-god basically overnight. This is so awesome. Let's not think about the demi-god part too hard. Yeah.

Episode Two: This Is Not the Surprise Round We're Looking ForEdit

The next morning, Telamore's band realizes that all they know about the location of the Mudvayne Flats is that it is north. Telamore also has a whopping hangover; Gabriel tells him to man up and drink water, and Hjartlos mutters about druidic hangover cures.
Blindly walking north until they run into a hydra seems unwise, so Gabriel goes looking for directions while Heckle, Hjartlos, and Yarnwell prepare for the journey. One of the guards at the former guard tower is happy to give her some directions, by which he means "stare at the chick with glowing red eyes and horns". Gabriel gives up on asking politely and asks if she's going to get any directions some time this fucking century. The guard snaps to attention and gives her directions. They need to head north by northeast and will have to pass two rivers to reach the Mudvayne Flats. The first river is big and shallow. The second has cliffs on both sides, so it won't be an easy climb, but it's doable. Icewinton itself is in the middle of the forest, and its major export is trees. If they reach the mountains, they know they've overshot. Gabriel takes this information back to the rest of the group.
The Green Fairy has introduced herself to the remaining non-hungover members of Telamore's group by the time Gabriel returns. She claims that turning into a hydra was an extraordinary effort, but she has a variety of other abilities that she's willing to lend to the pursuit of adventure, glory, and hydra beatdowns. Soon, a messenger from Barron Ganth arrives. Ganth has sent them some arrows that he hopes will help them defeat the hydra: five +1 arrows and one arrow of beastslaying. Telamore manages to accept the arrows, thank the messenger, and not fall over.
Thus fortified, Telamore and his band head north. It is slow going, as there is no road, but the forest is quiet. The journey takes a few days, but they encounter nothing along their way. The sun is low in the sky when they reach the Mudvayne Flats. It is still eerily quiet. The river is filthy and still. Yarnwell scouts around, as she has the sharpest eyes and can fly. She reports that there are no signs of life, though the water is bubbling a bit in places. Hjartlos speculates that the bubbles in the water are swamp gases and therefore natural, but nobody should use fire spells over there. Gabriel tries to detect evil, in case the hydra is hiding nearby. She sees a woman standing on the river, beckoning to her with both arms. The woman has a golden headband with a red gem set into it over her forehead, and is wearing grey. No one else sees it, and no one recognizes the woman when she is described. Gabriel tries again and does not see the woman, but she feels a great pain moving slowly with the river. Hjartlos and Gabriel both think that this means that the hydra is somewhere nearby.
This side of the river is cramped and would not be a good battleground, but crossing the river may be dangerous. Telamore laughs in the face of danger, secures his belongings, and plunges in, thereby ending that discussion. The Green Fairy easily flies across. Yarnwell offers to fly Gabriel and Heckle over to the far side as well as Hjartlos, as she is technically Hjartlos's steed. She can't carry all three of them at once, though. With their captain merrily splashing his way over to the bubbling bits of the river, Heckle and Gabriel quickly agree. Heckle removes some of his armor in case he falls into the river during the cross, and he and Hjartlos are ferried across the river first. Gabriel removes her armor as well in preparation for the crossing. Yarnwell drops Heckle and Hjartlos off on the far side. Hjartlos goes to inspect the river as Heckle puts his armor back on, and reports that the bubbling is getting fiercer. Hjartlos yells for Telamore to hurry it the fuck up because maybe this isn't swamp gas after all, and Yarnwell scoops up Gabriel and flies hell for leather to the other side.
Simun bursts out of the river, catching everyone off guard. Telamore gets out of the water really quickly as Yarnwell and The Green Fairy rush into battle. Hjartlos casts Barkskin on himself, Heckle begins an invigorating treatise on the dignity of man, and Gabriel starts towards the battle, realizes she doesn't have her armor on, realizes that it will take way too long to put on her armor, and swears a lot. The Fairy, Yarnwell, Hjartlos, and Heckle harry the heads, but Simun's surprise attack put them at a severe disadvantage. It's all Hjartlos and Gabriel can do to keep themselves alive; Heckle is soon killed, and Yarnwell clings to life only by her rage. Hjartlos calls for them to flee into the woods, where Simun cannot follow. Telamore and The Green Fairy easily escape, as they had been at range. Yarnwell and Gabriel soon follow. Hjartlos takes Heckle's body and flees as well.
Battered and bloodied, they run deep into the forest until they can no longer hear Simun. Telamore decides to pitch camp in a nearby cave, and then complains that he will never be clean again after his dip in the river. He takes a torch to explore the depths of the cave. He finds that the cave curves sharply downward at the back, and there is a giant FWOOMP as he also discovers the remnants of a methane deposit. Telamore backflips off the explosion, checks that everything is intact, and decides he's done with exploring for the night. Gabriel swears that she will never remove her armor again, but reconsiders as soon as she tries to sleep. Hjartlos reincarnates Heckle as a female bugbear. Heckle accepts this body, as he can still hit things and recite philosophical treatises.
They were caught by surprise once. They vow not to let it happen again. Next time, they'll go in with a plan. It'll help if everyone who has armor is wearing it and if nobody is doing the backstroke over Simun's heads. That too.

Episode Three: Get Up on the Hydra's Back!Edit

Gabriel is on watch early the next morning, as her Ring of Sustenance allows her to be fully rested after only two hours of sleep. The cave smells awful thanks to a bunch of people wallowing in river muck and then sleeping there, but it's starting to smell even more awful. She wakes up Heckle to see if his bard training has any insight regarding weird smells. Heckle isn't sure, but methane is a possibility. One explosion was bad enough; Heckle and Gabriel hustle everyone outside to find a more promising campsite. They find a nice patch of flat ground, whereupon Hjartlos decides to build a stone shelter complete with gazebo, since the day is already dedicated to planning and healing.
This time, they'll take the fight to Simun and get the drop on him. Hjartlos can cast Wind Walk, which will let them move easily along the river to find Simun. They also plan to alter their tactics: instead of trying to deal with all eight heads in a prolonged battle, they will optimize for sneaking up on Simun, taking out a few heads, and disappearing when their healing spells run low. It may take several days of hit and run tactics, but they're willing to commit to that.
Hjartlos and Gabriel lay all their spells on the table and compare notes. They first discuss healing: Gabriel, while an experienced paladin, is not very proficient with spells and therefore using her as the primary healer is not the best course of action. Hjartlos plans to prepare powerful healing spells to be rounded out by Gabriel's lesser spells and Lay on Hands. The two of them will tag out as needed, either to heal themselves or others. They will all need as many buff spells and protection spells as they can afford to prepare, and even Heckle's readings of philosophical treatises will be needed. Protection from or resistance to fire and acid is a must, those who can cast Protection from Evil will do so, and everyone will get a shot of Barkskin. Heckle, Yarnwell, and Gabriel will all get Bull's Strength. They will cast Fog around themselves to make it harder for Simun to hit them. Hjartlos will dedicate himself entirely to casting for this endeavor, to his shield Ecphrasis's disappointment. He won't be preparing Reincarnate this time, since if he needs it, they'll want at least an extra day to recuperate anyway.
With healing spells and buff spells sorted, it's time to think about how to kill Simun. Fire alone does not deal Simun special damage, but he is vulnerable to positive energy and to smiting, and plain old hitting him in the face will do damage as well as anything. Heckle decides to focus on being a distraction and providing support to those around him, with trying to hit Simun being secondary. Gabriel, being a paladin, has greater power when fighting evil foes, so she plans to smite the hell out of the heads. Yarnwell will rage and harry Simun from the air. Hjartlos will prepare as many totalhelldeath spells as he can and stay just out of range of the heads unless he is needed. He also proposes using his animal companion (a hawk named Snake) and using it to deliver a payload of Fire Seeds. Yarnwell also proposes blinding the heads. She will try to go for the eyes when she attacks, but she will also talk to The Green Fairy about blinding or deafening spells. To that end, she fills a bag with dirt and mud. Hjartlos will prepare Storm of Vengeance to cover their retreat.
With this settled, Hjartlos and Yarnwell go to inspect the woods around them. They discover a colony of Formians not far from their camp. The colony is guarded by several warriors, all with spears. Hjartlos and Yarnwell look at each other and get an idea: Yarnwell has a magical pendant that makes her temporarily stronger when she kills someone. They return to the gazebo and tell the others about the Formian colony. Formians have a hive mind and are hostile to everything outside of it, so they shouldn't go over there unless they want to be attacked. Yarnwell also explains her idea of sacrificing a Formian for the greater good.
This gets tricky. Gabriel has a merciful greatsword, which would be perfect for subduing a Formian until the pivotal moment. While Gabriel's god wouldn't care, Gabriel is a paladin. After a good deal of reassurance that the Formians are always hostile and probably evil and that this is absolutely for the greater good because seriously we might all die doing this, she agrees. Heckle offers to use the greatsword so she doesn't have to be involved, but Gabriel says that if she's condoning it she might as well do it.
They rest early that night. Two hours before dawn, Gabriel notices a thunderstorm passing by them about twenty miles to the east. As soon as they wake up they start making preparations. Yarnwell and Gabriel go to subdue a Formian and return with an unconscious Formian warrior. Hjartlos casts Wind Walk on everyone who does not have wings and the group takes off along the river. Gabriel tries detecting evil again in an attempt to locate Simun, and sees the woman in grey walking upriver. With no other leads, Telamore's band flies upriver in hopes of finding the hydra there.
They soon find Simun. He is wallowing in the river with his heads in the water, unaware of their presence. They land in the shelter of the forest, and those with Cloud Walk resume their corporeal forms. Hjartlos calls his animal familiar to him and loads him up with sixteen fire seeds. Long-lasting buffs are distributed, Yarnwell tightens her grip on the unconscious Formian, Gabriel flicks the switch on her greatsword from "merciful" to "merciless", and Heckle takes out a book and a sword. They sneak to the edge of the trees, still unnoticed by Simun, and Hjartlos opens fire.
Yarnwell crushes the Formian in her talons, covering herself in blood and making herself immensely powerful. Hjartlos calls for his familiar to attack one of Simun's heads, and as it does so, sets off all sixteen fire seeds, vaporizing one head. Hjartlos sheds a single tear and follows it up with Flame Strike to another head. Heckle and Gabriel get in some last minute philosophizing and buffing, respectively, and run into combat.
Once Simun can react to their presence, things get a lot more dangerous. He rains acid and fire down on them with some heads and bites at them with others. Yarnwell and Heckle both rage. The Green Fairy arrives, and at a loss for what to do, follows Yarnwell's instructions to GO FOR THE EYES. Yarnwell rips open her bag of mud and throws it into Simun's eyes as The Green Fairy dazzles all of Simun's heads. They succeed in blinding two of Simun's heads.
Simun focuses his attacks on Heckle and Gabriel, both of whom are standing in fog. Heckle soaks Simun's attacks, whereas Gabriel does backflips off of them as best one can when wearing a breastplate. Heckle and Hjartlos bring down a second head, and Gabriel and Yarnwell tear into a third. Simun gets in several lucky shots on Gabriel all at once, and things get dicey when Hjartlos tries to cast Cure Critical Wounds and fails. Simun hits Gabriel once more, knocking her unconscious and within seconds of death. Hjartlos makes a flying leap through the fog, dodging the attacks of five of Simun's heads, and tags her with a successful Cure Critical Wounds. Gabriel tells him that she just saw through the edges of time, and they high five.
Yarnwell comes screaming out of the sky with a sunder attack, tearing a third head clean off. Gabriel smites the fourth to death, and Hjartlos rips into the fifth. This is more than they'd expected to be able to do in one battle, but they're in a good position now and don't want to back down. Gabriel smites the fuck out of the sixth head as Yarnwell and Hjartlos pile the hurt on the seventh and eighth. Withdrawing and coming back another day to a hydra with two heads sounds like a good idea, so everyone gets in a last hit or three and prepares to run. Hjartlos begins casting Storm of Vengeance to cover their retreat. He doesn't expect the acid rain to do much, but the lightning will hurt Simun and deafening the two remaining heads (which are already blinded) will make their retreat painless.
Everyone stops dead when lightning arcs out of the sky, strikes Simun's last two heads, and Simun falls. They killed all eight heads at once, and no one died this time! Well, screw running away then, we've got a hydra to autopsy. As they stagger down to the shore, Telamore bursts out of the trees, looks around, and shouts, "I leave you people alone for five minutes and look at this!" He then takes out a knife and helps Hjartlos slice into Simun's four stomachs. Yarnwell appraises and identifies each item as they remove it.
The first stomach has a Helmet of Lucky Days, a Longsword of Magical Beastslaying, a Crown of Insight, a silver longbow, a strange metal box with an inset crystal with Mass Purify Water stored in it, and a metal chest. Inside the chest is a stone mask of a dwarf that allows the wearer to identify any stone. The second stomach contains a gauntlet attached to a spring, a medium sized ruby, a small astral diamond, a poison dart, and a +1 mace. The third stomach contains a small box made of wood containing two strange pills, a +2 greatsword, a +1 ring of protection, a necklace of fireballs, and a gold amulet. The fourth stomach contains a holy symbol of Tiamat, a scroll inside a case, a Sheath of Keen Blessing, three clay containers (two with green liquid, one with swirling rainbow liquid), a barrel full of blue liquid, a +1 breastplate, a magical wooden shield, and a strange cylinder that expands to twice its size and has glass at each end.
The loot is divided amicably. Gabriel proposes that they take one of the heads to a bar and score free drinks. People are on board with this idea, though Heckle wonders why a paladin would take this mindset. Gabriel explains that she's immune to getting drunk, but she can still drink, and she can pretend to be drunk. Dancing on tables might be involved. It's a Boccob thing. Yarnwell peers through the glass cylinder and discovers that it makes things in the distance easier to see. Given her already fantastic vision, she can now see for miles.
The golden amulet from the third stomach has squiggles around the outside, as Ganth had described it. The center of the amulet depicts a flying dragon. Heckle reports that the letters are in Draconic script, but he cannot decipher it. He sounds it out, and Gabriel recognizes the words as Infernal: Nosrep fle lalah. It doesn't make much sense; Nosrep is a holiday of a Jergal, a long-forgotten god, and fle lalah means something like "praise ought to be given". Yarnwell tries to appraise the amulet and sees the woman in grey looking at her. She cannot estimate the value of the amulet. Gabriel checks it for evil and finds a whole lot of evil. The group agree that she can carry it, since leaving an item of unspeakable evil with the paladin isn't the worst plan they've ever had.
Treasure dealt with, they start looking around. Now that they're not under fire, they realize that they're near the burned-out husk of a town. The inhabitants of the town have been burned and strung up along the walls. There is no sign of acid breath, just fire. As they look around, Heckle finds words written onto one of the walls: Halal self prone. Hjartlos recognizes this from the clock tower in Goneril City and explains it to his illiterate comrades. Gabriel checks for evil again and discovers that the words are evil, but the wall is not. It's pretty creepy, but has creepy ever stopped Telamore and friends from exploring? Never.

Episode Four: Drugs are My Anti-DiplomacyEdit

After a moment to catch their breath, Telamore and his companions fan out to check the area. Being on the far side of the Mudvayne Flats, it is outside Ganth's territory, but one never knows if it might be relevant to their interests. Or have treasure. That too.
The damage was done recently, meaning that whoever did it had to get past Simun or otherwise go unnoticed by him. Telamore has to be pried away from looting all of the corpses strung up on the walls, and eventually agrees that maybe they're a little too crispy to have anything of worth left. As they search, Hjartlos and Yarnwell encounter another man also looking through the town. He is high as balls, and he also disavows any involvement with the burning and pillaging, and says that he's a druid attempting to research magic and alchemy. He's not one to be choosy about where the pursuit of knowledge takes him. He introduces himself as Cyneward. Hjartlos accepts this explanation and tows him off to meet everyone else. Cyneward spots the barrel full of blue liquid and asks if he can have a sample for testing, then realizes he has no vessel for it. He decides to harvest the stomachs from the corpses strung up on the walls and to use them as waterskins to hold potions. They'll even be more efficient ways to hold the jars of green and rainbow liquids that they found!
Meanwhile, Telamore and Gabriel have found the ruins of a temple to St. Cuthbert. Telamore merrily runs in and starts looking for treasure. He opens the temple lockbox and turns up a symbol of Tiamat, a sealed box that he cannot open no matter how much force he applies, and an obsidian sword filled with red liquid. Gabriel finds that these objects are all evil, and therefore sanctions Telamore looting them. She turns a more judging eye on Telamore's attempt to find where the gold is kept. Telamore points out that it doesn't look much like a temple to St. Cuthbert in here, despite the outside. Gabriel goes to the altar and prays to St. Cuthbert in hopes of getting some information about this. She receives no information, but her back starts to hurt as though she had hit herself with a scourge. She prays to Boccob as well while she's at it and gets nothing. Telamore, seeing that she's distracted, renews his search for treasure. Gabriel asks him if he woke up on the douche side of the bed today.
The party reunites outside the temple. Cyneward is introduced to everyone, and expresses his interest in the mysterious liquids that they recovered from Simun's stomachs. He displays his new, innovative liquid-carrying method and gives one waterskin of green liquid to Telamore. Heckle volunteers to sample the green liquid for science. Although he becomes stronger and feels like time is slowing down around him, he also has visions of the woman in grey dancing along the riverbed and exploding in the sun. Yarnwell tries to appraise the items that Telamore found and draws a blank on the box, but she recognizes the obsidian blade as a sacrificial sword of Tiamat. She cannot estimate its worth. The symbol of Tiamat from the temple is worth little more than the symbol they found in Simun's stomach. Telamore considers using the sacrificial sword for normal combat.
Hjartlos and Gabriel convene over Telamore's increasing irrationality. For some reason, they compare notes using units of Ulfgars. Hjartlos offers the use of his Happy Hat, which will randomly switch someone's alignment. Once everyone is done tripping balls, Gabriel grabs Telamore and Hjartlos slams the hat down on Telamore's head. It is an inauspicious start: Telamore resists the Happy Hat's powers. Gabriel and Hjartlos resolve to try again later.
There is nothing more to do here; they've accomplished their objective, and they can find no more information in the town. They pack up their newfound treasure and head out. Everyone who had Wind Walk cast on them still have it running, so they change back into incorporeal form. Cyneward casts it on himself, and the group heads out. As they can travel far more quickly this way, they make good headway on their journey back to Goneril City. Once they land, Yarnwell observes that there is a storm not far off, but it does not threaten their travels. Gabriel hears a cold blowing noise and whispers of her name, but no one else does. She chalks this up to a side effect of carrying an evil amulet. They stop for the night a little ways out of Goneril City. The next morning, Gabriel and Hjartlos try their luck with the Happy Hat again. Telamore yet again shrugs off its influence, and they all head in to Goneril City.
When they arrive, they find that a festival of Heironeous is ongoing. This is peculiar; Ganth had been adamant about no gods interfering with his lands or his reign, thank you very much. Hjartlos, sensing an opportunity for high entertainment, casts Shapechange and morphs into Ganth. He strides into town, stops inside the gate, and looks around. The townspeople all panic and start frantically packing up and setting fire to banners and hiding their holy symbols. Cyneward, Yarnwell, Heckle, and Gabriel all follow, trying not to laugh. Telamore decides to take advantage of the chaos to steal from the fleeing townspeople. Gabriel grabs him and is like HEY HEY NOT COOL. Telamore says he'll give the proceeds to an orphanage and it's for the best, since religion is banned here! Gabriel gives him the side-eye. Heckle and Yarnwell both stare at him. Hjartlos misses a beat in his jaunty step. Telamore says he'll put it back b-but chaos.
The procession continues on towards Ganth's residence. Yarnwell flies overhead, Cyneward stops to browse the market (which has hurriedly reopened), and Gabriel fades into the crowd to chat up some guards. Most of them are pretending fervently that the festival never happened, but one of them runs up to her and asks where Ganth went. Confused, Gabriel says she doesn't know. The guard stares at her and says that Ganth left town with them. Gabriel checks him for evil and finds that his alignment is undetectable. Even more confused, she says that they went on an errand for Ganth and now they're back and looking for him, so it would suck if he wasn't here. She checks every other guard she comes across for evil, and finds no other guard with an undetectable alignment. No other guard thinks that Ganth went with them.
Hjartlos strolls up the long path to Ganth's residence unhindered. Cyneward, Heckle, and Yarnwell follow in his wake. Cyneward is fascinated by some of the weapons systems along the path, but is dragged away before he can experiment on them. Meanwhile, Gabriel continues to chat up guards while keeping an eye on Telamore.
The people at the door hurry to let Hjartlos in. Several servants run up to him, exclaiming that he's back very quickly. One of them, a ghoul, stops and stares at him. Hjartlos laughs and resumes his true shape, and then asks to see the true Ganth because he's killed Simun and wants his reward. The ghoul is convinced when Yarnwell rolls up carrying one of Simun's heads. The ghoul explains that Ganth had to leave in a hurry, and if they will come with him, he will explain further and give them their reward.
The ghoul apologizes for the inconvenience as he shows them into a room, though he still looks oddly at Hjartlos. He explains that Ganth's daughter has been abducted by agents from one of the hells, and Ganth went running off northward to save her. As such, he will not accept the amulet personally, and asks that they wait to deliver it to Ganth. He then slowly presents each person with the promised tripod. Hjartlos declines his, as it is made of metal, and asks to be given something of equal value made of wood. He also observes that two of his comrades are not present, and they would like their reward as well. The ghoul gives two more tripods to Heckle, and then takes Hjartlos to a treasure room full of magical wooden objects and invites him to take his pick. Hjartlos cheerfully picks something extravagant and heads out. Yarnwell, Cyneward, and Heckle follow. They collect Telamore and Gabriel when back in town, and Heckle distributes the remaining tripods. Gabriel tells them the mystery of the guard with undetectable alignment, and then everyone runs off to do some shopping.
Shopping aside, they need to figure out what to do now. Their employer has run off on a mission to save his daughter, and although they've been paid for the job, they're still stuck with this mysterious evil amulet. No one wants to keep it, for reasons ranging from "ew, it's made of metal" to "ew, it's made of evil". Well, why not follow Ganth into hell and give it to him there? It's not like they have anything else to do right now. They decide to sleep on it and head out the next morning if it still doesn't seem like a dumb idea. Also, drinking. Hjartlos and Gabriel try the Happy Hat on Telamore once he's drunk. They wish they hadn't. ("You are now chaotic evil." "CANCEL CANCEL CANCEL")
Their dreams are unsettling that night. Gabriel wakes up in the middle of her two hours of sleep to the sound of a woman whispering "free me". None of this dissuades them from merrily charging off to find Ganth in hell, so they pack up and head north. Some asking around has netted them the information that Ganth headed for The Deep Tower. As they go, Yarnwell, Heckle, and Hjartlos discuss the meaning of the clock tower from Goneril City. It had five bars with two positions: up and down. When they had arrived in Goneril City yesterday, the positions were up up down up down. This discussion lasts them until they are ambushed by trolls.
Fortunately, everyone is rested and the casters have their spells back. Fire spells and great cleaves fly from the druid and barbarian contingent. Telamore sneaks up behind one troll. Gabriel sneaks up in front of another troll, on the logic that it's honorable if you yell "SURPRISE" first. It is not long before the trolls are knocked unconscious and then incinerated. The clock tower discussion picks up again without missing a beat.
They find the trail of six horses as they reach the Deep Tower. A phrase is written on the door in several languages. Heckle can read Giant, and translates it: "From the purple that washes above and below." Hjartlos reads the Northern Common as well: "From the purple that washes from above and below, eh." The door is sealed, and Telamore can find no locks to pick. A password is strongly indicated. Gabriel can't think of a religious significance of purple that would be relevant here. Heckle can't think of any historical significance of purple that would be relevant here. After fifteen minutes of theorycrafting ("Sunsets?" "Royalty!" "Rainbows!"), Hjartlos casts Create Water on the door. The door slides open. Good enough! Hjartlos celebrates by putting the Happy Hat on Telamore, whose alignment becomes lawful good. Telamore curses the heavens. Gabriel and Hjartlos high five. It's very likely that Telamore will one day resume his chaotic good nature, but everyone holds out hope that when he does, he'll have stopped trying to loot the donation box in temples and set fire to orphanages. (Unless the orphanage deserves it.)
The room inside has "Light the way from left and right" written on the wall. There is a door on the right with a strange inscription: L L Z Δ Δ (1 1 2 12 12) On the left are a series of tubes and cylinders that can be inserted into them. The door on the right will not open. The ceiling is covered in spikes. Yarnwell, curious, sends one of the cylinders up the leftmost tube. The leftmost L lights up. She tries the next cylinder in the next leftmost tube. The light on the door turns off, the spikes in the ceiling starts dropping, and everyone yells "I KNEW IT".
Hjartlos, Yarnwell, and Cyneward frantically test the correlation between the tubes and the lights. Yarnwell finds the spikes alarmingly close to her head; she is the tallest creature in the party by far, and being an owl, crouching is difficult. As those three theorycraft, Heckle and Gabriel start using the process of elimination to figure out the sequence. The ceiling has dropped enough that Yarnwell is practically lying prone and even Heckle is starting to think the spikes look close when Gabriel discovers that sometimes the process of elimination will save you. All of the symbols on the door light up, and the spikes stop moving. The door slides open, and everyone scrambles through and onward.
The door opens into a tunnel leading downward. Those without darkvision light torches or cast light spells and the group proceeds. They soon find a cavern lit with torches. A rope bridge stretches across a chasm, and the area is patrolled by orc warriors. The nearest one spots them and orders them to halt. If they wish to cross the rope bridge and go into the Underdark, they must pay a toll. Heckle starts negotiating about the toll while Gabriel asks another orc about a party of men who came through before them. The orcs recognize Ganth's description and say that yes, a group like that came through. Gabriel explains that they're part of that group and are trying to catch up, so if they could get directions that would be great.
Telamore slides into the negotiating party and offers something better than mere goods for a toll: an agility potion. He has a potion that makes it seem like time itself is stopping around you. He offers one vial in exchange for crossing the bridge. The party tries really, really hard to keep a straight face. Hjartlos takes out a flask of whiskey, takes a shot, and hands it to Gabriel, who does the same.
The orcs demand one vial per person, and also to test the potion out for themselves before they commit. Telamore holds off on further negotiations and offers the leader a sip from the jar of green liquid. The leader accepts.
He is wowed by the power of the potion. It does feel like time is stopping around him! Telamore offers to throw a punch and see if the orc can dodge it. The orc does, easily. He challenges his fellow warriors to do the same, and they too are amazed to see the power of the potion in action. The tripping orc heads across the rope bridge to test it out with the orcs over there...and starts having a really bad trip when the rope bridge starts wobbling...and collides with another orc and both of them fall into the chasm.
The orcs accuse Telamore of trickery and rush to attack them. Telamore retreats to the tunnel and pulls out his bow. Yarnwell takes flight, Heckle and Hjartlos make a dash for the rope bridge, Gabriel patches up Telamore, and Cyneward casts Reverse Gravity on the orcs on the far side of the bridge. Hjartlos follows this up with another Storm of Vengeance and motions for everyone to get across the chasm. Yarnwell picks him up and the two of them fly across the cavern, dodging lightning bolts and acid rain. Telamore, Gabriel, and Heckle fight their way across the bridge. Cyneward follows, throwing spells and heals. Reverse Gravity soon ends, and several orcs plummet to their deaths.
As the Storm of Vengeance ends, the few conscious orcs left flee, swearing that their queen will hear of this. All the better reason to keep moving and maybe not be on this plane of existence by the time that happens! Telamore and his companions head further underground, deep into the Underdark. It's growing warmer, and there is no sign of the tunnel ending. Once well away from the orcs' former toll station, they stop for a breather, and also for a partywide vow never to bargain with hard drugs for passage over a rope bridge again. ("But what if we try the rainbow liquid next time?" "NO.")

Episode Five: We Are Already In HellEdit

After a quick break, the party resumes their progress through the Underdark. The air goes from warm to hot; Gabriel alone is unaffected by the heat, being a tiefling. She is also unaffected by thirst due to her ring of sustenance. Everyone else who wears metal armor removes it while Hjartlos mocks them for their reliance on metal. Water skins are passed around, but they have to be careful both to ration the water and not to drink too much water in too short a time.
As they continue on, they hear something in the tunnel up ahead of them. Everyone reaches for weapons, but the sound turns out to be a lone man, half-delirious with exhaustion and thirst. He asks them for water, which they provide, and explains that he is one of Ganth's men. He was sent back to get food and water for the rest of them. Ganth has a treaty with the orc queen, Bresnar, and so hopes that she will accede to his request. Telamore tells the man that they're the adventurers that Ganth hired to kill Simun, and when they couldn't find Ganth to give him the amulet, they followed Ganth. The man is impressed by their dedication.
The man thanks them again for the water and sets out in the direction of the orcs' territory. Telamore bids him farewell, and then everyone hurries onward in hopes of not encountering any groups of helpful orcs who might have been informed about this one guy with a scam "agility potion". It has gotten hot enough that they have to make frequent stops or risk exhaustion. Hjartlos starts popping Goodberries like it's going out of style.
Not long after that, they find that the tunnel opens into a wide vertical chamber. There is nowhere else to go but down. Heckle racks his brain for information on what to do here based on his knowledge of familiar locales, to Gabriel's incredulity. Strange whispers emanate from the chamber in Infernal, which Gabriel translates for the party: two unintelligible words (they sounded a little like Jergal) and then ascended to godhood. Hjartlos and Yarnwell fly down into the chamber and have a look around. Yarnwell spots a door about a hundred and fifty feet down. She starts to approach it when everyone hears a loud ticking. Yarnwell flies up out of the chamber and to safety just as a blast of liquid fire fills the vertical chamber. The heat is unbearable; everyone scrambles back from it. Eventually the fire recedes, and Telamore, Hjartlos, and Heckle creep up to the vertical chamber.
The fire does not immediately return, so Telamore gives Hjartlos a rope and tells him to hang on. Cyneward and Gabriel also grab onto the end of the rope. Telamore rappels down into the tunnel with a torch and looks around. The walls are covered in pictographs spiraling all the way down the chamber. Heckle is intrigued and wants to take a look too. He starts heading for the vertical chamber when the ticking starts up again. Everyone at the top of the chamber hauls on the rope, pulling Telamore to safety in the nick of time. Heckle volunteers to go next, because with his education, he might be able to figure out if the pictographs have any significance to opening the door. Hjartlos points out that no one has tried just opening the door yet and asks Yarnwell to fly him down there to do just that. When he gets there, he sees words on the door in a language that he does not know. Unsurprisingly, the door is locked, and the ticking begins anew. Yarnwell and Hjartlos get to safety. Cyneward reminds everyone that Cloud Walk will let them fly without having to take joyrides on an owl or slide down a rope.
Heckle doesn't mind the rope part for the moment. He climbs down into the chamber and looks around. The pictographs seem to start at the bottom. As far as he can see, they depict a mindflayer undergoing some transformation from mortality to immortality. He catches a glimpse of the door and sees that the writing on it is in the same characters as those on the amulet.
Gabriel is curious now. Once Heckle is safely back and the fire has receded, Yarnwell flies her down to the door. Heckle and Telamore follow by rope to continue their investigation of the pictographs. Gabriel, having learned to sound out Infernal from too much time spent staring at riddles, reads the writing on the door as Abandon all hope, ye who enter here. The fire trap starts ticking. Telamore yells down that instead of figuring out the pictograph riddle, they should just open the door. Gabriel says "Open!" in Infernal to the door. Nothing happens. The ticking becomes more insistent, as it does when the fire is near. Gabriel tries again: "Nosrep fle lalah!"
The door opens.
Yarnwell and Gabriel sail through the open door. Heckle and Telamore rappel down after them and just barely make it through the door before the chamber is filled with liquid fire. Once it recedes, Telamore sticks his head out and calls up that they're all right and the door is open. Yarnwell goes back up to fetch Hjartlos and Cyneward down. As she does so, Heckle and Gabriel look at the wall outside the door. There they can clearly see the first pictograph: a man in shining armor carrying a mace and advancing on a tower.
Gabriel blurts out, "Xenteroth?!" No one knows what she's talking about, so she explains: Xenteroth is a mindflayer sorcerer who owns a tower on the northeastern tip of the Southern Continent. He is very powerful, but not immortal as far as anyone knows. His primary research of late has been with golems. Perhaps the pictographs on the wall are about Xenteroth.
This is an interesting tidbit, but probably won't help them. Once the party is reunited, they look around. They are in the top seats of a vast coliseum. The arena at the center is so far from them that only Yarnwell can see it clearly. Yarnwell reports that there is a constant battle taking place in the arena. There is no sign of Ganth. Everyone hides among the seats as they figure out what to do next. They've made it to a hell, but their journey clearly doesn't end here.
Hjartlos decides to use Stone Tell to talk to the door that leads into this hell. The door is happy to answer his questions. Hjartlos first asks if people come through there often. The door says yes, every hundred days a lot of people go through.
When Hjartlos asks if anyone came through recently, the door tells them that a man wearing electrum armor passed through with his six cohorts not long ago. The door describes him as "brethren, or similar". The door also says that The Great She came through before Ganth. Heckle and Gabriel both think that means Tiamat, which is worrisome because they just killed her son. Oh! And Tiamat isn't supposed to be on the Prime Material Plane at all. That too.
Hjartlos asks how Ganth got through. The door tells him that Ganth disabled the fire trap temporarily by telling stories and praise of its maker, its celebration, and its ritual. The story is inscribed on the pictographs outside. The door considers the walls of the chamber its brethren, and calls it Karved of the Flow. It says that the words to open it are of its maker, and that Nerull made it seven ages ago. The door also says that it was sealed by powerful magic one hundred years ago, around 300 SA. The seal is gone now, but it does not know who removed it.
Gabriel leans out of the door into the chamber and says "I think Xenteroth is a pretty cool guy! He ascends to power and doesn't afraid of anything!" The fire trap does not turn off. Telamore puts on the dwarf mask he picked up from Simun's stomach and looks at the door. It gives him a headache.
Gabriel tries to reconcile Xenteroth, Nerull, and Jergal all being conflated by the door. She and Heckle put their heads together and figure out that Jergal actually had two holidays: one for his worshippers and clerics, and the other for the common people to bring tributes to his clerics. The festival was usually in early November, but Jergal fell from godhood a long time ago, even by door to hell standards. He was never a popular god, and Tiamat co-opted the festival of Nosrep after he fell. Aside from a few shared interests, Jergal had nothing to do with Nerull, and Xenteroth has nothing to do with gods except potentially becoming one.
The discussion with the door concludes, leaving them with a lot of questions about theology and their employer. Questions can't be answered by sitting around, however, so they might as well sneak closer to the arena and see what's going on there.
As they reach the arena, everyone can see that an astral deva is fighting fifteen furies. The deva is putting up a hell of a fight, but is surely losing. As they watch, the furies knock the deva unconscious. Cyneward jumps into the arena and scoops up some astral deva blood into two vials. Sure, there might be a little sand in there, but that adds flavor. He and Hjartlos then heal the deva. The deva gets to its feet without a word of thanks and faces off against the furies again. Sixteen armed men also appear around the arena.
Heckle looks around and spots a spirit portal in the center of the arena. He takes off running for it. Gabriel decides to race him there. Meanwhile, Telamore and Hjartlos start fighting the furies. Cyneward stashes his astral deva blood and runs towards the spirit portal, cackling with scientific glee. Yarnwell, miffed that the deva didn't thank them for healing him, decides to overrun the deva. The deva is not overrun, but it does roll a two. It is teleported to someplace unknown. Yarnwell does a victory lap of the arena.
Back on the racetrack, Gabriel is the first person to make it to the portal. She jumps in, Heckle seconds behind her. Cyneward follows them. Hjartlos and Telamore fight their way to the portal and jump in as well. The last one to reach it is Yarnwell. Everyone falls, perhaps into infinity...

Episode Six: But I Like My Eyes Right Where They AreEdit

They all land without injury in a vast, empty place. Heckle identifies it as the Astral Plane. Yarnwell spots a house off in the distance. Telamore declares that they are going to go get some damn directions and marches towards the house. He knocks on the door when he reaches the house, and is startled when a djinn answers.
The djinn is no stranger to giving weird people directions through the astral plane, though he looks exasperated. Heckle and Gabriel cover up for Telamore's conversational mistakes so that the djinn doesn't murder his face in. The djinn, appeased, points Telamore in a direction and tells him to head that way until he finds another portal. It may be attended by mages. Telamore asks for permission to rest near the djinn's house, which the djinn grants. The djinn says that they will be as safe near his house as anywhere, and goes back inside.
Everyone flops down for some food and sleep. Telamore prays to Pelor for direction, as he thinks is in keeping with his new alignment, and receives the message the black hole at the bottom. There is no day or night as such in the astral plane, so everyone sleeps as best they can in the dim light.
Eight-odd hours later, they pack up and head in the direction indicated by the djinn. The ground begins to slope down, and they spot the portal indicated by the djinn. It is deep blue, not black, but Telamore thinks that this is a sign from Pelor. They have nowhere else to go, so they all jump through the portal.
This time they are dumped on the edge of a wide, muddy river, next to a burned town. It looks a lot like the Mudvayne Flats, but they definitely aren't on the Prime Material Plane. They decide to explore the town before going further, and find that even the layout of the town is eerily similar to the destroyed town by where they killed Simun. The only noticeable difference is that the temple is to Tiamat. The temple has been pillaged, but Cyneward finds something in the temple strongbox: a thin book bound in leather, with a seal of a six-fingered gauntleted hand holding lightning bolts on the cover. Gabriel announces that it is very evil. Hjartlos announces that it is very divine. Gabriel can't figure out what god is represented by that seal -- she can think of several gods with similar symbols, but none with that exact one. They move on.
Further along, they find a man with a raft waiting at the side of the river. He introduces himself as Charon, and says he will grant them passage across the River Styx if they can pay the price. He stops in the middle of his spiel and stares at the book Gabriel is holding, and asks them where they got a portfolio of Jergal. Rather, one of the pieces of the portfolio, since it was split into three when Avimeus, Myrkul, and Halal overthrew him. Charon says he'll take that as payment, but is rejected.
Heckle asks what's on the other side of the river. Charon says that the sixth circle of hell is over there. It's for depressed or psychotic shades. Past that is the Inner Circle. When asked if anyone else has come by, Charon said that a man wearing electrum armor with six cohorts came past here, and they all paid, ahem. Charon also suspects that the man in electrum was responsible for the destruction of the nearby town. Cyneward asks for the price of a one-way trip across the river. Charon says he'll accept the worth of one astral diamond or one eye per person.
The party is well off, but they want to stay that way. They go into a huddle to see how much damage this will do to their finances. Cyneward proposes that some people who don't need their depth perception as much sacrifice an eye for the greater good and get it fixed later. While this is tempting from a monetary standpoint, no one is willing to give up having two eyes.
Heckle decides to ask Charon if he can get across the river on a press pass. He tells Charon that his ultimate purpose is to travel the multiverse and write a book about all he finds, and that it's his bardic duty to go to the sixth circle and write a treatise on what he finds there. He swears that he's just in this for the pursuit of knowledge. He rolls a two on his diplomacy check...and is immediately teleported to the other side of the river. Press pass success!
Cyneward decides to exchange one vial of astral deva blood for passage. Hjartlos and Gabriel rustle up an astral diamond and a few rubies that they recovered from Simun's stomach and use those to pay for their passage. Yarnwell grabs life by the balls and flies straight across the River Styx without paying. She is struck by lightning several times, rages, and barely manages to outrun a blast from the biggest fireball anyone has ever seen. She lands on the far side and miraculously survives even after her rage wears off. She is barely conscious, but she feels like a total badass. Heckle goes over to her and if Yarnwell had hands, they would high five. As it is, Heckle keeps an eye on her until the boat full of people with healing spells arrives.
Charon casts off with Heckle, Hjartlos, and Gabriel aboard for a more sedate trip across the river. Cyneward and Charon each mix a vial of astral deva blood with some planar whiskey that Charon had lying around and do shots. As they sail, Gabriel asks Charon about the amulet that they picked up. Since he recognized the portfolio, Gabriel thinks he might be able to help them figure out what the amulet is. Charon identifies it as a seal amulet, and tells them that they shouldn't take it into the Inner Circle. He offers to keep it safe for them until they return, and asks where they got it. Gabriel tells them that they took it from the stomach of Simun after they killed him. Charon, stunned, says that he might not be able to keep the amulet safe from her, let alone anyone else of comparable power who would want it. The portfolio is safe to take into the Inner Circle, though.
Reminded of the portfolio, Gabriel opens the cover, as she is curious. She quickly realizes that this is a bad idea. No one else feels like trying to see what's inside, so they all chat with Cyneward about his plans for doing science to astral deva blood.
The party reunites on the far side of the river. Charon says nothing more about the amulet that they have, and bids them farewell. Hjartlos notices a pile of eyes on the shore, counts them, and says there are seven. Odds that one of Ganth's cohorts had to give up both eyes to let Ganth get across the river unscathed are high. Wait a minute, where's Telamore?
Telamore strolls up to them and says he was on the boat with the other three, but no one noticed him. Hjartlos tries to heal Yarnwell, but the spell barely does anything. Something about the area is blocking his magic. Gabriel tries Lay on Hands, which works. She heals Yarnwell and they proceed into the sixth circle of hell.
Nothing bothers them there, though it's a dark and unpleasant place. They hear screams off in the distance and decide not to investigate, instead following the path from the river. The path eventually leads them to a tunnel. They follow the tunnel until it ends in a marble wall with a small, narrow slot in it. Inscribed on the wall are the words "I am a spiral. I am a number. I am a key to what lies under." Gabriel starts swearing and says that she probably knows how to solve this one. Meanwhile, Yarnwell asks Telamore to put the sacrificial sword he got from the Mudvayne Flats into the slot. Telamore does so. There is a crunching sound, and the red liquid inside the blade flows out into the wall. Gabriel starts counting, "One, one, two, three, five, eight, thirteen, twenty one..."
The wall slides open, revealing Barron Ganth and his six guards. His guards all have bloody bandages over their eyes. Ganth himself is chiseling at a giant obsidian statue. He looks up as the wall opens, and says, "Oh. You're here."

Episode Seven: I Don't Think You Thought Your Cunning Plan All the Way ThroughEdit

Telamore announces that they've killed the hydra and have brought Ganth the amulet, as promised. Ganth thanks them for it; it's not often that random hired adventurers will follow one into hell to complete a job. Gabriel hands over the amulet with relief, and asks what it does. Charon said it was a seal amulet, but that wasn't very specific.
Ganth says that the amulets are used to open Frozen Fates. He indicates the statue, which currently is in the shape of a crude male fertility idol. He says that the true Fate is within, but once a statue shape has been carved out, the Fate can be released. He needed an amulet because his daughter Rebecca had been abducted to the Inner Circle. They may have noticed this on the way in, but casting magic in here is nearly impossible. Arcane magic can only be cast on a plane with active Frozen Fates, and this plane has none.
Ganth wants to open the Frozen Fate, which will flood the area with arcane magic, and subdue the Fate for long enough to cast a teleportation spell. He says he'll be sure to take them with him when he goes, if they'll help him open the Fate and subdue it. He had really been hoping someone would show up to help him, because his young daughter and his six blind guards aren't going to be much help in a no-holds-barred battle against a Frozen Fate.
Well, they've gone this far, so why not? It sounds fun. Telamore asks what they'll need to do to subdue a Fate. Ganth says that he has four special wands. If they can activate all four wands, it will subdue the Fate enough that he can cast the spell. Hjartlos, Telamore, and Gabriel volunteer to use wands. Ganth nods, satisfied, and says they may also look through some treasure he found in the area in case there is anything they might find useful in the upcoming battle.
As one of his guards feels his way over to the box of treasure, Ganth comments that he's impressed that they made it through the fire trap and then the wall puzzle here. Gabriel tells him that she made a few lucky guesses, and that they didn't actually figure out the fire trap, they just got the door open really quickly. She shows him the portfolio of Jergal and asks him if he will take it off her hands, since no one in Telamore's group wants it. Ganth accepts it. Heckle has wandered over to join the conversation, and asks Ganth about the pictographs by the door to hell, since Ganth knows the story well enough to disable the fire trap, and Heckle wants to write a book about all of this. When Ganth gives him the side-eye, Heckle says he won't make the full details common knowledge, but he really wants to know.
Ganth starts with Xenteroth. Xenteroth may or may not be a lich, depending on what rumors you hear, but he is definitely an illithid king on the Southern Continent. He passed through the doors of hell one hundred years ago, and the pictographs depict Xenteroth's journey as a mortal into hell and then into immortality. Xenteroth discovered the mathematical sequence that they used to open the door, which he called the divine number. He says that this number describes the expansion of magic, and is the number of the fates.
Gabriel asks if he knows anything about the phrase on the amulet, and mentions that she, Yarnwell, and Heckle have all had visions of a woman. Gabriel had them the most often, and also heard whispering. When she describes the woman, Ganth immediately identifies her as Tiamat in her human aspect. He doesn't like the sound of Tiamat possibly being back on the Prime Material Plane. He then falls silent and seems very distracted. When Heckle gets his attention again, Ganth seems to have forgotten what he was talking about, and in fact that he was having a conversation at all. Heckle asks Ganth if he knows anything about why the River Styx looks so much like the Mudvayne Flats.
Ganth tells them that the far side of the River Styx is Tiamat's territory, and that wherever she goes, she makes the area around her fit that image. When she sent Simun to the Prime Material Plane, her influence warped the Mudvayne Flats around him into a mirror of the River Styx. Simun's true home is in the River Styx; they only killed his presence on the Prime Material Plane. That was all Ganth wanted, though.
Tiamat herself is one of the old gods. The progression is elder evils, ancient deities, old gods, middle gods, and new gods. Her portfolio is of dragons, and is split between her and Bahamut. She used to live on the Prime Material Plane until St. Cuthbert banished her to hell, and she should still be barred from the Prime Material Plane.
Ganth looks at the portfolio again and observes that portfolios are the source of divine magic as Fates are to arcane. He thinks that this is Halal's third of Jergal's portfolio, which contains self-destruction. 'Halal self prone' is, apparently, the somatic component to a protection spell against that brand of self-destructive magic. Halal and Jergal were both sons of elder evils, and the Fates were either created from or by the elder evils. They might be pure evil, they might be pure energy -- he doesn't know. No one knows.
This concludes the press briefing. Ganth goes to put the finishing touches on the Fate statue. Heckle and Gabriel join the others in looking through the box of treasure for useful items. The treasure box contains a +5 mythril flaming longsword, some mysterious armor, five composite +3 longbows, and tons of wands and gold. Four of the wands are the special wands to be used in subduing the Fate. Heckle takes the +5 mythril flaming longsword. In doing so, he notices that he has a crown of insight rattling around his pack as part of his hydra loot. Gabriel asks if she can borrow it for the fight against the Fate, as it would give her access to spells that she normally does not have the wisdom to use. Heckle agrees.
Hjartlos and Cyneward confer about spells. They want all the buffs they used for the fight against Simun and more. Death Ward for everyone, mass cure spells, and even Foresight. Since the win condition will be to survive long enough to activate all four wands, they devote most of their spell slots to heals and buffs.
Telamore puts on the stone mask and tries to identify the stone of the Frozen Fate statue. He learns that it is obsidian, with something that is definitely not stone in its core. He accidentally uses the mask's triggered ability, and thus turns True Seeing on the Fate. He sees fractured images of his own death, mingled together with infinite futures. He yanks off the mask and asks if anyone has a stiff drink. Hjartlos provides before Cyneward can. Cyneward swears his will result in pleasant dreams!
Ganth checks on his daughter and sees something distressing: she is reading the Portfolio of Halal, and it isn't harming her. Well...all right then!
Everyone's sleep that night is disturbed with horrific nightmares. Gabriel dreams of Tiamat in her human aspect. Heckle dreams of Xenteroth and endlessly moving machines. Hjartlos dreams of the destruction of vast, beautiful cities. Cyneward dreams of a world with no science and no magic. Yarnwell dreams of something, I don't even slightly kind of remember what. Telamore dreams of what he saw in the Fate. Ganth does not mention his dreams the next morning, but he doesn't look happy.
The wands are passed around. Gabriel gets a crystal wand of wind and water. (I do not remember the specifics of the other wands, but I assume they also had elements.) Buff spells are cast. The guards take Rebecca far away from the scene of the battle. Ganth takes out the amulet and asks, "Any last words before we begin?"
Telamore ventures, "May Pelor bless us all...?"
This confusing pronouncement made, Ganth places the amulet around the neck of the Fate. At first, nothing happens. Then the words on the amulet begin to glow. Telamore guesses, "Halal self prone?" Gabriel corrects him: "No...Nosrep fle lalah."
The Fate cracks open.
The letters on the amulet change, but no one is close enough to read them. The Fate immediately sends out a pulse of energy that would instantly kill anyone not protected by far-thinking druids, followed by a massive fear effect. Heckle is overcome by fear, but everyone else resists. The four using the wands all try to activate them, with mixed success. Yarnwell and Cyneward simply attack the Fate, hoping to weaken it. The Fate moves towards Ganth within seconds and consumes him, wand and all.
Hjartlos, Gabriel, and Telamore all keep trying to activate their wands in hopes that it will help. It doesn't seem to affect anything, but the Fate spits Ganth back out a few seconds later. Ganth is pale and not breathing, and he no longer has the wand. Hjartlos stops bothering with his own wand and runs over to Ganth. Moments later, Ganth's eyes snap open and he sits up, hissing. His eyes have begun to glow. Hjartlos pokes him with a minor cure spell and asks if it hurts. Ganth says that yes, it fucking hurts. Hjartlos gives him a hand up.
Meanwhile, Heckle snaps out of his terror, turns to face the Fate, and takes a full attack with his pimp new +5 hurtdeath sword. Ganth, not to be out-badassed, runs straight at and into the Fate in an attempt to get the wand back. Everyone continues to beat on the Fate. Hjartlos ninjas out of the way of an attack thanks to Foresight, which seems oddly fitting.
Ganth re-emerges from the Fate, wand in hand, and uses it on the Fate. Everyone else with a wand follows suit, and this time they all succeed. The Fate sends out blasts of negative energy at ninety degree angles. It heals Ganth, but everyone else takes a lot of hurt. The Fate is closing back in on itself, though. Ganth calls for everyone to grab each other because he's about to get them out of there.
Everyone quickly stashes their weapons and joins hands. As they plane shift away, they see the Fate close up completely, frozen once more. The amulet shatters into three pieces and falls to the ground...

Season Finale: No Two Things Are Not on FireEdit

They arrive in a brightly lit room. It isn't the Prime Material Plane, but they can probably get back there from here eventually. The first order of business is to figure out where 'here' is.
Heckle identifies it as the City of Brass, on the Elemental Plane of Fire. Yarnwell offers to go scout around, to which Cyneward shrieks, "Okay, bird, go fly out into the fire in the elemental plane of fire WHICH IS MADE OF FIRE AND ON FIRE. FIRE."
Ganth decides that he and his daughter are going to stay right where they are for the moment, and maybe once they've rested he'll care about heading for another plane. Telamore and his group can do whatever they want. Telamore tries to do something and fails, but now no nonmagical fires can be lit within fifteen feet of him. He's really on the right plane for it.
Telamore, Heckle, and Cyneward stroll out into the street looking for adventure. They first find a house with a djinn in it, who lets them in. The air inside the house is very intoxicating and badly disorients Heckle. Cyneward suspects that the djinn is trying to trap Heckle into some kind of contract while he's out of it, and wants a sample of whatever it is for his own research. Heckle eventually figures out which way is up and stops trying to chew off Telamore's hand. They leave that house and move on.
Meanwhile, Yarnwell, Hjartlos, and Gabriel have found a bar and inn. They decide to get rooms there and find a way home tomorrow. They pass an illithid in the bar, to everyone's confusion. Gabriel chats up the bartender at two in the morning and learns that the illithid is Xenteroth, a mortal planeshifter. This doesn't fit with what Ganth described. Gabriel surreptitiously checks for evil and discovers that yes, he is evil. Xenteroth apparently shows up whenever he feels like it because he can. The next morning, Xenteroth is in the bar when the party gathers around. Telamore starts asking him about maybe catching a planeshift back to the Prime Material Plane, but is fantastically undiplomatic in doing so. Gabriel is very diplomatic at bailing Telamore out of this, and then completely undiplomatic at actually asking Xenteroth anything.
Heckle beelines for Xenteroth to ask him questions about his journey into hell. Xenteroth is fascinated, because the story that Ganth told Heckle hasn't happened to him yet, despite the event happening in 300 SA. Heckle offers a trade: the first copy of his book regarding his journey through hell in exchange for being planeshifted back to the Prime Material Plane. Xenteroth says that he will take Heckle to his tower and allow him access to his vast library if Heckle will stay and finish his book. Heckle agrees, and Xenteroth immediately planeshifts them to Xenteroth's Tower. Heckle happily settles down in the library and begins to write.
Now the rest of them just have to get home. The bartender reveals that sometimes there are portals to other planes in the library, but they are carefully guarded and not just anyone can walk up to them. That's fine! Telamore isn't just anyone. They're rested and ready to go, so they rush off to the library. They start sneaking through the library, but this plan is soon disrupted when guards spot them. They take off through the library, throwing open doors as they pass in their search for portals and generally being a nuisance. They don't dare attack the guards because they're worried about inadvertently killing them, and it's better to just escape.
They finally burst into a room brimming with magic, with a swirling portal in the floor. Telamore shoves a hapless druid aside and plunges into the portal. Cyneward swipes some of the druid's magical components and follows. Gabriel shouts an apology to the guards and jumps in, followed by Hjartlos and Yarnwell.
They all land in a heap on the ground in a familiar forest. They're about a day's walk north of Goneril City. This job was fun and all, but they're going to have to pick Heckle up on the Southern Continent, and they're a long way from their ship. There's more adventure out there, and Telamore is determined to find it.
Season Six Complete

Previously/Next Time on EonEdit

Previous Season: Season Five: The Frozen Fates

Next Season: Season Seven: The Throne of Discord



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