On the 35th of Kiriel, we return to Aesira to find our heroes within the black tower of Karadel the Vile. Having just avoided a confrontation with the man himself, the party gathered its breath as our heroes surveyed their surroundings. After some investigation, they found that the scrying pillar in their vicinity could be rotated, which was followed by a great rumbling underneath their feet. Upon the rotations completion, the arcane circle the band had discovered in the adjacent dead-end room seemingly activated, producing a pit-like dark portal, through which Notsium Durkax promptly fell.
Soon joined by his companions, a disturbing sight unveiled itself before them. Entering what appeared to be some kind of medical ritual chamber, the party found themselves staring at shelves of sickles, grey caps and boots, bookcases filled with arcane scripture, and a long butchers shelf filled with hanging goblin bodies. Each of these bodies, as they came progressively closer to the end of the shelf closest to the party, became more and more similar in appearance to the bands old foe, Bogin Redcap. This is what our heroes would have focused on, had they not also been staring down four bugbears, devoid of their usual fury, and armed with large surgical implements.
Combat ensued, during which Mattimeo attempted to peer into the minds of these adversaries. During this intrusion, he found himself rebuffed by a powerful mental force, accompanied by an image of a familiar wooden mask. Achieving victory over their unresponsive foes, the party managed to find another scrying pillar, seemingly connected to the one they had initially discovered. Twisting this one as well, the floor and ceiling of the room began to rumble, and when the rotation ceased the portal through which they had come had disappeared, with another one appearing on the opposite site of the large chamber.
Entering this portal and feeling themselves being thrust upwards through space, our heroes found themselves in a mostly barren room, seemingly used as a traversal point. Exploring the corridor ahead, they discovered two additional accessible rooms. The first one appeared to contain a portal pit similar to the one previously encountered, but fractured and unstable in its nature. Not wishing to brave such an uncertain path just yet, the other room was investigated.
This appeared to be some kind of war room, with papers and writing material strewn across the large table which covered the center of the room, the surface of which was dominated by a large map. This map, fastened to the table by four rune-covered metal spikes, appeared to display a portion of the continent of Aesira, upon the surface of which a number of locations had been marked. Some locations, seemingly as an afterthought, bore a very archaic symbol meaning, among other things, “lord”. The main focus of the map was however a large circle drawn around the town of Dhun Crowe.
Their investigation was short-lived, as another arcane portal sprung forth from the opposite wall, and the party once again found themselves staring down Karadel himself. While the edges of the portals sparked with small embers covering its edge, it seemed reluctant to go up in flames as it had done before. As Karadel crept closer, the spikes holding the map in place vibrated more and more. Using a spell to throw one of them out of alignment, Mattimeo broke the apparent blockage of the portals burning, but not before taking an Eldritch Blast from Karadel. As the portal once again went up in flame, so unfortunately did the map upon the table.
After the somewhat harrowing encounter, the party decided to bust open the large chest located in the room, adjacent to the table. Despite Krov becoming subject to some form of magical ward which had been placed upon the chest, our heroes seemed to have discovered a stash of Karadel’s bloodstained gold pieces, all of which were unceremoniously poured into the Bag of Holding. Having no way out besides forwards, they braved the fractured portal only to be greeted by another, this one assumed to be even more volatile judging by the markings in the surrounding room.
Finding themselves in a pitch black chamber, they could barely make out another active portal on the other side. Making their way ahead, their journey was cut short by the appearance of two enormous insectoid entities bursting through a nearby wall, having seemingly tunneled into the tower. Standing a good 12 feet each, these strange creatures were recognized by Pelaios as a pair of Umber Hulks, as he warned his companions to avert their eyes from their foes. Deciding not to test their luck after an initial assault was easily shrugged of by the entities, our heroes bolted for the portal, becoming thrust through space once again, the Umber Hulks seemingly unable to follow.
Harrowed, exhausted, and with some answers bringing with them many more quandaries, is where we leave our heroes. In the midst of Karadel’s domain, with monstrosities and mysteries all around them, Beyond the horizon.