Readying to continue the hunt for Krangi aggressors near the town of Almven, the Aspect Party briefed the local Constable, Grutind Nornellen, regarding the danger still posed by those hobgoblins that had yet to be located. Meanwhile, the arrival of the Dejy man Daresh served to raise Maldus’ spirits and provide the Party with a skilled researcher who could hopefully shed additional light on the rituals given to them back in Crandolen.
In the interim, the Group moved alongside a large assemblage of citizens drawn together with the goal of cleansing the scene of a massacre and seeing the promise of the Aspect of Life fulfilled. Such would be forced to wait however, as a challenge delivered by the hobgoblin Tugazh would draw the Party away, to an encounter with the last of Sulgaruk Vaktohg’s minions, a devilish confrontation that saw the end of both the threat to Almven and the Group’s newest member Arkus…
Homeday, Twenty-sixth of Reaping, 1044 Y.K.
Regrouping after the expiration of the Horned Devil’s fear effect, the Aspect Party cleared the battlefield and disposed of the fallen Hobgoblin carcasses. Arkus, being a non-religious figure, was given a simple unmarked grave, dug by Rarnok and Alamir while Stoat scoured the surrounding area for any sign of the prisoner spoken of by Tugazh back at the lumber yard. Maldus meanwhile, moved the issuer of the Party’s challenge, whom the Group had specifically avoided slaying.
The Aspect of Resolve returned moments later, warning that Group that one final humanoid stood guard over a small manufactured pit, the origin point of muffled noises potentially belonging to the prisoner. Encircling the makeshift prison, the Party confronted the guardian, a large Hobgoblin adorned in the regalia of the Knights of the Black Pit. Having the humanoid surrounded and him being armed only with a walking stick, the Group attempted intimidation.
Though unsuccessful, the effort revealed the hobgoblin’s willingness to speak with them at length. Rolmak, as he introduced himself when asked, explained that even if he personally were struck down, ultimately The Dark One was to be successful, and thus the Aspects had already lost. It was then that Maldus, upon seeing the Knight’s devotion to his religion, began to steer the conversation subtly, using the humanoid’s honor, pride and dedication against him.
Rolmak’s anger slowly faded and was replaced by grudging respect for the cleric of Selandi, who displayed unswerving loyalty to his own god. The theological debate brought the two closer at times, and further apart at others. In the end, it was both faith and honor the won the Hobgoblin over. Maldus had shown his devotion and stood honorably in the face of both battle and religious discourse. Rolmak, believing the Party’s fate already sealed, concluded there was no harm in sharing the knowledge he possessed.
He informed the Aspect Party of the urukh-khielshor, or Nightmaster, Hercuul “The Crow”, who had been selected by The Dark One at the last ragma-khielshor and given a vision of Korem burning and women and children in Bet Kasel begging for mercy. With the invasion nearing both capitals, he proclaimed the vision would soon be reality. Mravroshkha-Khielshor’s Godspawn son was indeed upon Tellene and stood poised to fulfill his destiny and become the Herald of the Void.
Satisfied that the dark cleric had given them all of the information available, the Party liberated the prisoner Andnon, and placed both Rolmak and Tugazh in the pit at sword-point. Being larger than humans, the Group knew the pit would not hold them prisoner long, but it was a workable stopgap measure for the time being. Perhaps they would again meet the pair later, where they could be given an honorable death in combat.
A Teleport spell returned the man Andnon and the Party to Almven, where Maldus and Rarnok began the process of making good on the Aspect of Life’s pledge to return the woodcutters to life. Sending communication and magical transportation brought the druid Nilu to the town, accompanied by a dryad who would assist him with the Reincarnations. Being capable of magically duplicating spells, the Party’s Gnome sorcerer would assist as well, reducing the material components needed.
With Nilu and the dryad in town, the Party began the process of returning the slain lumber yard workers to life. Having spent three days answering the challenge of Tugazh, they had four days left before the souls of the lost men were beyond the power of Reincarnate to return. Each day saw the return of fourteen men to life, except the first, seeing only eleven given that Rarnok was forced to use some of his magic for that day to bring Nilu and the dryad to town.
In the interim, the other Party members took downtime or occupied themselves in other ways. Dokari’s Crystal Ball was again passed to Stoat, who could by this time carry it unencumbered following the acquisition of strength enhancing magical gear. The elven illusion was initially upset over the change of ownership, but saw the wisdom of being protected from mind-affecting magic and remote control via Stoat’s Aspect-based immunities.
As a utilitarian move and good-will gesture, Alamir procured a small selection of spells for Dokari to learn, in the form of scrolls. The gift worked well, returning a more pleasant state of affairs concerning the crystal ball and serving to move the projected intelligence toward her stated goal of becoming the “receptacle” of the Party’s combined knowledge.
Following the fourth and final day, the Group had successfully returned fifty-three of the sixty slain men to life, unbelievably, all back in near-identical Human bodies. The event was quickly dubbed the “Miracle Reincarnations” and brought much happiness to Almven. Having run out of time for the magic to bring back the remaining seven men, the Party bestowed a hefty payment of gold to the affected families, an offer that, though accepted, failed to fully fill the void left behind.
Pelsday, Second of Harvest, 1044 Y.K.
Having done everything within their power to uphold the pledge made by Maldus, the Party left Almven, returning by magic to the temple of Brovadol to conduct minor business before attempting a Teleportation to Korak with the aim of again offering assistance and opposing the will of The Dark One. Alamir was greeted warmly by fellow Servant of the Swift Sword Senvus Broel, who had finally reached the temple. Stoat met with Roth, picking up items he’d left in the teamster’s care.
Maldus moved to the temple’s lower levels, checking the status of the now-bricked up Inner Sanctum, and learning of the insane cries emanating from within. Rarnok spent his time with Cosdrelita, requesting the lovely bard stay at the temple while the Party continued to Korak. Though always a stalwart ally, the girl had been thoroughly shaken by her forced-vision at the wall, and the Aspect of Time could see her trepidation at the prospect of returning. Staying behind to assist Guardian Strond would both help the temple and give her piece of mind.
With all of their affairs at the temple seen to, the Aspects updated Daresh on their movements via Sending and transported themselves to Korak, using the merchant Fanam Hana as a Scrying target. Located in the capital of Korem, the merchant worked feverishly, completely exhausted from keeping up with the demand of his sword-maker’s trade. Questions regarding current events resulted in a finger-point to the city’s exterior, where the Krangi invasion force could be seen in the distance.
A subsequent meeting with General Garnak informed the Party that the war did not go well. The hobgoblins were aided by powerful beings and fought with the strength of their faith behind them, steadily besting the forces of Korak. A well-constructed encampment stood within sight of the city, and dark clouds of magical or divine origin swirled atop the enemy. Believing the enemy leaders to be stationed there, the Aspects offered to scout the camp, and moved quickly upon being granted permission.
Utilizing her Scrying ability on targets visible from the city, the Party’s projection maneuvered her sight through the encampment, providing the Group a layout and probable locations for enemy leaders. Typical of military forces, the hobgoblins had created earthworks and semi-permanent structures at their forward-most base camp, established both internal and external patrols, and stood capable of launching further attacks in short order.
In response, the Group planned for a stealthy entrance, casting Invisibility and Silence on themselves before teleporting onto the encampment’s grounds. Cloaked with their magic, the Aspects held one anothers’ shoulders as they moved forward, making their way toward the largest of the semi-permanent structures. The sudden expulsion into sight of the Group’s lead two members shocked the Party, and promptly raised an alarm within the camp.
Acting quickly, Alamir and Rarnok pulled their fellows backwards, deducing the loss of magical effects to be the suppression of an Anti-Magic Field. Once back across the threshold, Maldus and Stoat returned to their invisible, silent state, not a moment too soon. As defenders hustled to assemble and sweep the area, the Aspects took the time to quickly gauge the approximate size of the phenomenon, using the loss of invisibility to “map” the Field. The tactic displayed the zone to be large, and centered over the innermost area. Contented with the information, the Party withdrew, returning to the safety of Korem.
Katarday, Third of Harvest, 1044 Y.K.
Developing a new plan in light of their discovery of the Anti-Magic Field, the Party returned to the encampment in similar fashion as the day prior. As expected, security was far greater than previously, but by all estimation, the extent of the Field was the same. Sneaking to a position near the edge of the suppression effect, Rarnok activated one of his portal stones, creating an orb shaped gateway to the elemental plane of fire. Being inside a Field of no magic, the hobgoblins would certainly have difficulty dealing with elementals.
As the sorcerer returned, the first fire elemental emerged, curiously scanning the immediate area. Alarm from the defenders prompted an immediate response, angering the creature and resulting in further elementals from the portal. The lack of magic proved a detriment to the defenders as expected, with fire quickly spreading to tents and other flammables in the innermost sections. Salamanders and magmin began to join the fray, overwhelming the hobgoblin troops and forcing a withdrawal from the section.
The attack soon drew the attention of the leadership structure, bringing a new face into the scenario. This powerful figure emerged, glowing with magic despite the Anti-Magic Field. Even before Dokari referenced him as “The Master”, the Group had heavy suspicions as to his identity… once known as the wizard and hero Argenon Remel, this was the Aspect of Torment.
Walking beside a blackened figure that seemed to absorb the very light around it, Torment commenced sending a myriad of duplicates of himself into the elemental area, stalling the advance of the minions of the fire realm as the pair moved into position. Once there, the blackened figure removed a strange sphere from within itself, an item that when activated drew flame into itself from all nearby sources, included the portal and elementals.
Within moments, the fire was all but gone and the elementals no more. Torment used spells to finish off straggling salamanders and lesser creatures, providing the Party with its first glimpse of his abilities. The casting and possession of magic within the Anti-Magic Field was obvious, but the Aspect also cast instantly, requiring no verbal, somatic or material components. Hoping to see more, Rarnok activated a second portal stone, curious as to the longevity of the Aspect’s casting.
Initially shielded by the few remaining fires, the portal permitted more elementals to arrive, and the Party’s Gnome wasted no time issuing quick instructions to the creatures before concealing himself again. The subsequent discovery of a second portal on the part of the enemy provided them all the proof they required that someone somewhere was actively engaging the camp, and Torment activated magical sight of an unknown nature in an effort to seek them out.
Meanwhile, the blackened figure called out to the sky, calling upon its “Father” to grant it strength to destroy those who would interfere with His will. The movement offered a clearer view of the target, revealing the figure to be humanoid in shape, roughly similar to an Elf in build and features. It was as Rolmak had said, the Godspawn of The Dark One was upon the face of Tellene – born of both the dark god and the elven woman Hanadrel Rolendar.
Deciding that they had seen enough, the Party returned to Korem as the flames again began to die down from the power of the strange item held by the Godspawn. Torment continued his magical search, but would be unsuccessful once the Group was gone. Back in the capital, the Group briefed General Garnak on what they had seen and offered what advice they could. They also requested contact names and letters of introduction for Bet Kasel – if Torment and the Godspawn were in Korak, Malice might be leading the charge in Ek’Kasel. Such would need to be verified and appropriate warning delivered to the powers that be there. With letters and name in hand, the Aspects Teleported away from Korak, to the neighboring kingdom of Ek’Kasel…