The Burnt World of Athas

Session 21

"If I must die for my faith in Melora, then so be it"

The fully assembled Orphan Company continued past the potential ambush on the way to Tyr, diverting slightly to avoid a rain of arrows. The entered Tyr and left the Company and Goliaths to their prepared barracks and to aid the siege.

Meanwhile the party traveled to the Templar District for an audience with Tithian and the Dragon emissary. Along the way they stopped at the sight of a priest of Melora proselytizing. A huge crowd had gathered in a main square as the priest sang the praises of Melora in freeing the city from Kalak and aiding Tyr at the Iron Mines. The party could not let that stand and called out the priest. An escalating battle of words ensued, with the party explicitly calling the resurrection for what it was, accusing Melora of dark magic, and giving details of how it worked that shook the priest. Eventually the words escalated to a threat: the priest could stop spreading this evil or be killed. The crowd was torn, most running off at the sight of weapons, some coming to the priest's aid, others increasingly skeptical of his claims. The priest tearfully chose death and Chronicler obliged him, piercing him through the heart. The Tyrian guard responded to the scene but allowed the party to do what they wish. The party debated desecrating his body to prevent resurrection but chose a more poetic end, giving the priest's body to the Tyrian guard to burn it with those afflicted by wasting. 

The party continued to the Templar DIstrict through the overcrowded streets of Tyr. There they found Tithian with the "Talon." He questioned them about the events that led them to the moment of killing Kalak. Remarking that their party had someone capable of using the spear and capable of allowing the party to survive long enough to do so, not to mention the ability to raise the dead. He was focused on the spear and where it came from as well as the priestess and her powers and origins. 

When the discussion turned to the Dragon's tribute the Talon refused to negotiate or attack Hamanu. A thousand souls were due. The party ascertained the dropoff and plotted ways to lure Urikites there to subdue.

Meanwhile the Talon prepared to go find the Kalak-tree. The party wanted to come along but was rebuked. In explaining why he didn't trust the party, the Talon shared the significance of what had happened. Rajaat was imprisoned in a powerful tree, the magics imprisoning him were bolstered by slave sacrifice. A piece of that tree had been taken and used to imprison Kalak, and the slaves due had not been paid. He suspected a plot to undermine Rajaat's prison.

FInally learning something new, the party was not ready for the Talon to leave. He found no more use for the party though, believing they had shared all the knew, and were ignorant of what moved things. He did have another plan if the party insisted on learning more. The vision inducing waters of a volcanic lake properly bolstered with magic could show a vision of the future or past that was true and not just a hallucination. The party chose to see the past. And they chose to see where it all began, as far back as they could, to what had led them where they are.

They entered a dream state and  experienced a cacophony of chanting and screaming, an increasingly blinding light, and a surge of emotion in feeling something wrong must be righted. As it reached an unbearable crescendo, the party came to and found themselves Templars in the service of Kalidnay. They gathered with others in an audience with Kalid-Ma herself, and her High Templar Thakok-An. The study leading to the assembly looked remarkably like a portion of the Labrynthine Library. At the assembly, Thakok-An shared the plan to deal with the crisis facing Kalidnay. He shared two magical scrolls, one that the assembled Templars would cast that would create a large scale defiling and channel an immense amount of power to another set of spell casters. Thakok-An shared that the empowered ones would be Kalid-Ma and Thakok-An, who would be casting the second scroll, a powerful sequestration spell that would shield the city from being detected and leave it in a stasis. The targets of the spell would sleep and wait an opportunity to rise. But if the complex spell failed the city would be destroyed catastrophically for nothing.

The party also learned that Hamanu was on his way to Kalidnay and the Templars did not think it would be possible to defeat him or to convince him of the error of his ways. Thakok-An said he was either an oblivious  pawn or a conspirator, and either way very dangerous. The party also learned the Sorcerer-Kings had chosen not to kill Rajaat and imprisoned him instead. Kalid-Ma admitted it was cowardice, because they feared losing the power he granted them. 

The plan seemed foolish and incomplete. As the party and other Templars noted, what was the point in prolonging the inevitable and risking so much destruction to the city. Thakok-An tried to assure the assembled group there was a plan and they needed to have faith. They all did, except one Templar who said he was going to take his family far from the city to avoid the likely calamity that would befall Kalidnay. Kalid-Ma thanked him for his service as he left, and in so doing reduced him to dust. 

As the party tried to pry more about the point of the plan, Kalid-Ma and Thakok-An changed personality drastically. They became confused and had significantly less force of presence. They remarked the party and Talon should not be there, and the new confused Kalid-Ma launched a bolt at the Talon, waking him from the dream. The rest of the dream was no longer interacting with he party, the Templars frozen in place now, as Kalid-Ma and Thakok-An worriedly spoke to the party. 

The group continued to refer to the confused Kalid-Ma as Queen, and she clarified she was not. She had jumped in to the dream to stop it. What the party had seen was true, but there was a danger in seeing it, and especially a danger in the emissary seeing it. As for the real Kalid-Ma, the pair thought and thought and tearfully shared that she was dead.

The duo, speaking at one in alternating turns, said they were delighted that so many were here. "The Preserver, the Liberator, the Company Born, or maybe psion?, the Resurrector, the Defiler, oh no, she'd prefer to be called Redeemed." But no Jailer, one half noted to the other, no he had died, which would have to be accounted for.

The duo couldn't answer the basic question of who they were. Something bound them. When the party asked for guidance along with some sign they could trust them, the duo didn't really offer either.  But they gave some advice. They warned the emissary shouldn't learn too much about what happened Kalak. Attacking him could cause the Dragon to destroy Tyr, but even that may be better than the alternative. Kid took this as a chance to leave the dream and attack the emissary.

The rest continued to try to draw meaning from the confused pair. Was Kalidnay or Kalid-Ma or some Templars asleep somewhere? If so how could they wake them? What had Kalid-Ma's plan even been? They offered only that the party should keep being who they are and doing what they would do. They also clarified they didn't actually know what had to be done, and if they did they would just tell the party. Rather they had to discover it together.

When the party referenced the notes the two said they had sent it, but caught themselves when they shared they had been watching the party. The duo said they could reach into the party's dream if necessary, now that they had been discovered. And the party knew where they were anyway, gesturing to the room. But there was a point of no return they were not prepared for. Once the party discovered something, although rather obvious, it would set into motion events that they would have to deal with and were not prepared to do. 

The group then woke to a surge of pain. Kid had struck the groggy emissary, who had defiled and blinked away. Tithian came to investigate and the party said they urgently had to find the emissary. Though locating him was unsuccessful, they suspected where he was. Tithian teleported the group to the Golden Tower and, sure enough, the last level had been unlocked. The artifact room was shrouded in magical darkness though. Two voices chattered and, at the party's request, guided them safely through the room. The party diverted slightly to meet the voices and found disembodied heads. They introduced themselves as Wyan of Bodach and Sacha of Arala, the two champions of Rajaat who had sided with him when the others rebelled. They took the heads. Chronicler tracked the emissary to where they expected, down through a long accessway and into the ziggurat. 

The inside of the ziggurat was mostly hollow and contained an enormous set of concentric, rotating iron rings, similar to the ones on the door. The party asked Wyan what they were and he shared that he had instructed Kalak how to build them. They were meant to amplify defiling on a massive scale. The party rushed forward, following Chronicler who detected the emissary had travelled farther down the ziggurat. On a large staircase wrapping around the outside of the ziggurat the party came to the end of the road, the staircase ended in nothingness because the floor below had been destroyed by a giant tree that had sprung up. They could see down into the lowest level of the ziggurat where they had fought Kalak, which was now covered in massive bits of stone. They saw no sign of Epione but the Tree was there and had grown, and the emissary observed it. Chronicler took aim with an arrow and hit his mark as the party prepared to jump down and engage the Talon.



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