The party battles the greater rakshasa Kalitaxis, a lesser rakshasa, Malek Tal, Kalo, and a crazed barbarian warrior. Swashy somehow misses her backstab attack on Kalitaxis, and the rakshasa takes full advantage of the opening, unleashing a torrent of magical power. A lightning bolt sizzles into the rogue, while the barbarian warrior hacks into Myx with his axe. Both Swashy and Myx are instantly near death.
Barlongren rushes Malek Tal in a rage and avoids the brunt of the rakshasa’s spells. The barbarian has gained in skill and strength, and clearly outmatches Tal now. He tears into his former master with reckless abandon, and Malek Tal quickly flees the battle, rushing down a set of stairs in the back of the room. Barlongren pursues and finds a short row of cells at the dead end of a hall. Another crazed barbarian warrior stands guard in front of the cells, and Malek Tal commands him to fight Barlongren as the tribe leader nervously backs away.
Swashy, Myx, and Cham are left upstairs with the remaining enemies. Cham manages to successfully cast a Hold Person spell on Kalo and the other crazed barbarian warrior, removing them from the fight. However, no one has been able to even scratch the rakshasa as they have rained magical attacks down upon the party – lightning bolts, magic missiles, and acid arrows. Even more, the creatures are immune to any of Cham’s or Myx’s spells. The situation has quickly turned dire, as Swashy and Myx are barely still standing, and Cham is out of healing spells.
Desperate to at least wound their enemies before she dies, Swashy thrusts her sabre at Kalitaxis again. The blow somehow lands perfectly, and the half-cat creature is impaled by the Nine Lives Stealer. The magic of the blade activates and Kalitaxis’s life is sucked into the sabre, instantly killing him. Swashy cries out in jubilation, and Cham and Myx are stunned at the rogue’s, and their own, good fortune. Certain death has suddenly swung to certain victory, as only one rakshasa remains standing to face them.
However, the creature is still a fearsome opponent. Out of spells, the rakshasa bounds across the room on nimble feet, and with a few swipes of its claws, the already weakened Swashy and Myx are taken out of the fight. Cham hacks at the creature with his khopesh, but its defenses are incredible, and the cleric makes no headway against the monster.
Below, Barlongren shoulders past the crazed barbarian warrior, and lashes out one final time with his axe at Malek Tal. The blow lands true. Barlongren impales the chieftain on the point of his axe, and his corded muscles ripple as he hefts the massive man into the air. With his last breath, Malek Tal fixes his former student with a wistful smile and says, “I taught you well.”
Barlongren tosses Tal’s body onto the earthen floor, and turns to the one remaining barbarian warrior. Although the tribesman has partaken of Ravik’mort, he is still no match for the enraged Barlongren, and the guard is soon disposed of. Just before rushing back up the stairs to join his companions, the barbarian hears a voice he recognizes whisper in disbelief from the cells, “Barlongren?” The warrior turns to see Neesa huddled against the bars of one of the cells. With no time to talk now, Barlongren assures her he will be back momentarily before bounding up the stairs.
He arrives to find Cham desperately fighting off the one remaining rakshasa. Barlongren charges to attack the creature, and Cham takes the opportunity to rush to Myx’s side. The cleric pulls out the last of the party’s one remaining healing potion and administers it to the wizard and the swashbuckler. Myx promptly rushes over to the paralyzed crazed barbarian, touching him with a Vampiric Touch spell that drains his life away and replenishes Myx’s strength. Swashy gets back to her feet, just in time for the rakshasa to make a dash for the exit in an attempt to flee. Barlongren and Cham both hack at the creature, but neither is able to connect.
Swashy calmly slashes her sabre across the rakshasa’s back and is amazed to feel the power of the Nine Lives Stealer activate yet again. The remaining rakshasa’s life is drained into the sabre, and Swashy can feel the blade pulse with magical energy. It comes alive with an eerie light, and the weapon feels as though it is about to burst. When she fears she can hold the weapon no longer, the light suddenly fades, and Swashy knows that the sabre’s powers have been exhausted. It will steal no more lives.
However, the swashbuckler notices the face carved into the ivory pommel of the weapon, which had been the howling face of some kind of demonic creature, has somehow transformed. It has taken on the features of a great cat. Swashy guesses that the blade has somehow acquired new magical properties as a result of the uncanny occurrence of stealing the lives of three rakshasa with its final three uses. The party deems her new blade the ‘Cat Slayer’, and is grateful for the day Swashy picked up the blade from Captain Simorad. The group has faced three rakshasa now, and each time the first blow struck on the creatures was Swashy simply stealing the monster’s life. The party is thankful for this incredible luck, but wonders how they would have fared if they every actually had to fight one of the rakshasa to the bitter end.
The party investigates the room, and Myx accidentally activates the large purple gem resting in a golden stand. The face of a rakshasa appears above the gem, and the creature is shocked to see the party standing before him. He inquires what has happened to Kalitaxis, and Myx informs him that the rakshasa is dead. The creature tells Myx that the party has provided an ‘unexpected obstacle’ to his plans, and that they will have to be dealt with. He says the party should enjoy their remaining days, as they will soon be dead, then the face disappears.
Swashy eagerly loots the rakshasa den, as the creatures are rumored to have a deep appreciation for wealth. Between a vast supply of coins and a number of gems and jewelry strewn about the room, the rogue thinks she has picked up about 5,000 gold worth of treasure. She doles out 1,000 to each of the other party members, and keeps a double-share for herself.
Barlongren heads below and frees Neesa and the other prisoners, who turn out to be the original shamans of the temple at Gam Ysran. They were all kept prisoner below and forced to use their healing magic on Malek Tal’s crazed warriors after battles. One of the priests prays for a Remove Curse spell, and the magic lifts the madness of Ravik’mort from Kalo. He joins Neesa in a tearful reunion with Barlongren, thanking the long-lost warrior for returning and freeing them from Malek Tal’s clutches.
Myx casts an Alter Self spell to appear as Malek Tal, and the group heads out of the temple. The wizard commands any crazed warriors that approach the group to turn and leave, and, believing her to be Malek Tal, the tribesmen instantly obey. Thus, the group is able to make their way out of camp with little trouble. They see patrols of barbarians scouring the hillside, presumably looking for the source of the illusionary dragon Myx created earlier. The group is able to avoid these patrols as they journey back to the campsite where Tortette, Luuran, and Onjon await.
The party spends the night in the hillsides, and in the morning Cham and the surviving shamans prepare as many Remove Curse spells as possible, planning to head back to the barbarian encampment and begin reversing the effects of the Ravik’mort. Unfortunately, they find the camp an abandoned, bloody wasteland. Barlongren shifts into crow form and tracks down Ophemier, fleeing through the nearby hills. She explains that late last night, one of the ‘medicine men’ of the tribe, which Barlongren recognizes as the one remaining rakshasa, left the camp and did not return.
Near morning, the crazed barbarian warriors began to lose their sense of order, as is often the case. In the past, Malek Tal or one of the medicine men or women would generally come out of the temple to quell any disturbance, but with none of them around the fight quickly spiraled out of control. The barbarian warriors under the effects of Ravik’mort quickly forgot whatever previous orders they had been given and became blood-thirsty savage beasts. A massive melee ensued, in which many of the crazed warriors were killed, and anyone who had not partaken of Ravik’mort fled into the hillside.
The party resolves to stay and help clean up the mess the rakshasa left behind. They set up camp at the temple of Gam Ysran, and over the next month they scour the hillsides looking for survivors. Any barbarians they find that have drank the blood of Ravik’mort, they free from its curse. Cham is surprised to find some of the barbarian warriors are upset when the magic is removed. They had been the epitome of a savage warrior, seeking only blood and death with inhuman strength, and are sad to see their ‘curse’ removed. The vast majority are thankful though, along with the survivors who had never drank of the blood. Soon the numbers around the temple swell, and tribes are reformed as the barbarians seek out their old friends and family.
Myx eventually has a chance to cast Identify on Swashy’s newly-changed sabre. She finds it is indeed now a ‘cat slayer’ blade. The weapon is punishingly effective against rakshasa, great cats, or any other feline-based creature.
Cham asks Neesa to read the ancient parchment he has that speaks of his destiny. She is happy to translate the text for him, agreeing with Barlongren’s assessment that it is written in ancient Barbar, the language of the barbarian tribes. She says it appears to be a piece of a journal.
The author talked extensively with one of the tribe’s elders and recorded some of his words. The elder was an astrologist who studied the stars and the heavens astutely, believing their portents could tell the future. The journal mentions a story the elder told once, of seeing a star fall from the heavens. It was a peculiar star, which the elder had noticed in the sky before – young and exceptionally bright, it had always twinkled furiously. The elder saw the star fall, and remembers the night well. For, rather than simply streak across the sky, the star fell all the way to the earth, and he could see where it hit.
It landed in the mountains to the northwest – in the Northern Palthian Mountain Range, which forms the western border of the Ma’rook Plateau, dividing the savage land from the nation of Aarya beyond. The elder wanted to track the star to where it landed, but dared not pursue it, for it fell into the mountains that are known to be the lands of giants, evil creatures that would crush any man they found roaming within their realm.
The party agrees to pursue this lead promptly and makes plans to head into the mountains in the northwest corner of the Ma’rook Plateau. First, they travel with Barlongren’s former tribe, the Valders, as they journey back to their home. They spend a few days relaxing with the tribe, before stocking up on supplies for their journey into the mountains. Onjon tells the party he has made good progress on an epic piece detailing the party’s exploits, but wonders what the group would like to be called. The party is at a loss, pitching a few ideas such as the ‘Fantastic Four’ and ‘Cham’s Destiny and the Minor Players’, which don’t get much support. They leave the issue open for now, and Onjon says he will try to come up with some suggestions.
With Malek Tal now gone, Luuran is torn with whether he wants to continue to journey with Barlongren. He ultimately decides to stay behind and help rebuild the tribe. It is the only life he has ever known, and the tribe needs all the help it can get, as so many of its number were decimated when the warriors that partook of Ravik’mort were left leaderless and went into a killing frenzy. Kalo also debates whether to journey with Barlongren on the strange adventures he tells his old friend about, but Kalo cannot resist the lure of seeking out his sister, Kirah, in the nation of Karoe Vas. He tells Barlongren to seek him out at one of the monasteries there when he has the opportunity.
Barlongren says his farewells, along with the rest of the party, and the group heads off to the northwest. Snow-capped mountains loom in the distance as the party makes its way over rough, scraggy scrub plains for close to two weeks. As winter approaches, the wind brings a chill with it that quickly grows colder as the party ascends into the foothills before the mountains.
One night, just after the party makes camp, they hear a great noise crashing through the trees towards them. They ready their weapons as a lumbering hill giant breaks out of the nearby tree line. The creature carries a huge wooden club that it swings at Barlongren, but the barbarian deftly dodges out of the way.
The party falls upon the giant and slashes it with their blades. Cham lands a particularly devastating blow with his Giant Slayer khopesh. The hill giant is quickly severely wounded, and, to the party’s surprise, the monster groans loudly and throws its club to the ground. The giant sits down with a defeated look, and says, “Tharg can’t even kill little people. Kill Tharg now. Tharg ready to die.”
The party is shocked at this display and even a little saddened at the sight. They hold their attacks, and Cham asks the huge creature why it wants to die. The giant groans, saying, “Tharg no good. Tharg can’t kill little people. Tharg’s tribe all gone.” The party asks what happened to Tharg’s tribe, and the giant responds, “Ice giants kill tribe. Giants in mountains look down on Tharg and his tribe. Always laugh and joke with fancy words. Then one day, giants come down and kill Tharg’s tribe! Tharg hate ice giants!”
Barlongren asks Tharg if he wants to help the party go kill ‘ice giants’. Tharg laughs at this heartily, saying, “Little people can’t kill ice giants. Ice giants huge!” Myx chooses actions over words and launches a fireball up into the sky where it explodes in a shower of flames. Tharg’s jaw drops at this display, and he looks at the party saying, “You strong little people! Alright, Tharg go kill ice giants with little people.” The giant chuckles to himself and shakes his head. “We make pay for them!” The party decides this turn of phrase is close enough and agrees they will help ‘make pay’ for the ‘ice giants’.
The giant picks up his club and trots off into the nearby woods. The party hears him crashing about and cursing on a few occasions, before he finally comes back with a cow clutched in his hands. He sits down with the rest of the party and rips the cow in half with his bare hands. He offers some of the bloody, raw cow to Cham, who politely picks out a small piece for himself. Tharg finishes his meal, then smiles broadly, saying “Tharg like new tribe.” The giant lies back on the hard ground and is asleep only moments later. His snoring is so incredibly loud that Cham casts a Silence spell on Tharg to help everyone get to sleep.
Over the next couple of days, Tharg leads the party up into the mountains. The weather quickly turns colder, and the party soon finds themselves hiking through snow covered valleys and picking their way over icy rock faces. The cold is so numbing that the group feels it will impede their skill in battle. Fortunately, Barlongren is protected from the cold by his Boots of the North and Cham by his Cloak of Protection from Elements. The cleric casts Endure Cold on Myx, Swashy, Tortette, and Onjon to help them combat the inescapable chill. The divine magic helps for a time, but as the party beds down for the night, most in the group find the chattering of teeth to be almost as loud as Tharg’s snoring.