Myx studies the other summoning circle on the floor of the library, which Tirinil apparently used to summon the rest of the demons that he let loose in the city. She discovers the circle was constructed with a key symbol, an arcane shortcut often used by inept, power-hungry magic-users like Tirinil. The party inscribes this symbol on each of their bodies, and is thus completely protected from the attacks of the demons Tirinil has summoned through the circle.
Barlongren ventures out of the keep to find other survivors in the city, pausing to chop down a few demons he encounters along the way. Even a slaad’s croak does not affect him, now that he has inscribed the key symbol on his body. He finds another keep in the city where most of the remaining human prisoners are being held by the demons. He dispenses of a few demonic guards, who are unable to injure him, and shows the surviving prisoners the protective symbol for them to paint onto their bodies.
Back in Tirinil’s keep, Zarastra takes a keen interest in Cham once he returns to consciousness. The demon speaks with an alluring hiss, saying, “Oh my, oh my… can it truly be? The demon prince’s prize creation, in the flesh! So it is true, you will free the lich-king from his curse… My you are a strong specimen, I’m sure you will do just fine.”
Cham tells the demon he is not interested in her lies, but eventually grows curious, as the vision that originally summoned the cleric to Crow’s Point was a message delivered by a demon. Zarastra insists on being set free before she will say more, but the party scoffs at this. Eventually she settles for being sent back to the Abyss, and the group agrees, as they wouldn’t want to leave her here, where she could be set free, anyways. Myx begins studying Tirinil’s tomes for the ritual to banish Zarastra back whence she came, while Zarastra offers Cham what she claims to know of him and his destiny.
“You know of the Godslayer, yes? The blade the gods foolishly poured their collected strength into, making a weapon beyond their control? Do you know it is your destiny to destroy this weapon?” Cham nods.
The Marilith continues, “But how? The gods have struggled for eons to find a way to undo what they wrought. It was Asmodeous, god of destruction and lord of the demons, that finally found a way. For the denizens of the Abyss know more about destruction than any of the holy gods of light and love could ever dream. Only a deity intimately familiar with the magic of death and undoing could find a way to destroy the Godslayer. You are the Demon Prince’s personal creation. Your soul was carefully crafted by Asmodeous, Lord of Demons, to be able to destroy the Godslayer. I dare say you are one of my kind, my dear priest.
“Of course, the Demon Prince would never willingly do the other gods a favor without a price. The weapon posed just as much of a threat to Asmodeous as it did to the rest of the deities, so his price was small.
“In return for crafting you, the demon lich-king Acererak would be freed from his eternal curse. Acererak was one of Asmodeous’s most terrifying lieutenants, and was a plague on all things good and natural for centuries. He was frozen by the magic of the god Melora in a long-ago battle between the gods and the demons, when his soul was stolen away and destroyed. Acererak needs a new soul, and only the pure soul of a righteous cleric is powerful enough to bring him back to life, or undeath as it were. Your soul is to power the rebirth of the most heinous undead creation the world has ever known. Isn’t it glorious?”
Cham eyes the demon dubiously, unsure how much, if any, truth there is to her words. Myx completes the ritual to dismiss the Marilith and she disappears in a flash of fire. During this exchange, Swashy explores the keep and finds a vault filled with gold and platinum coins, along with a Ring of Shooting Stars. She helps herself to the ring and much of the coin, but after consulting with Tortette, decides to leave some for Lady Gwillivin to inherit. The party spends the night in Gatetown, protected from the demons by the key symbol, and in the morning Cham casts several Remove Curses to expel the slaad eggs he and Barlongren have accumulated.
The party heads back down to Lowerton and meets with the town leaders, Huurtred, Gavinon, and Lady Salinda. They share the protective symbol with them, and plans are promptly made to put this symbol on every town soldier. Immune to the demons’ attacks, the survivors in Lowerton are able to expel all of the remaining demons from Gatetown, though many flee into the countryside when they find they cannot injure their attackers. Many survivors are found hiding in Gatetown, though the numbers of the dead are vast. The former ruler of Gatetown Lord Ralthus, court wizard Sattrex, many of Ralthus’s lieutenants, and most of the minor nobles in Gatetown are found dead.
In search of a new leader, the town elects Lady Salinda to assume rulership of Gatetown, and she humbly accepts. The people of Gatetown face a difficult road to rebuild their town, but they are a resilient people and determined to see the task through. A celebration is held for Lady Salinda’s coronation, and the new ruler of Gatetown thanks the party for their deeds, as the group is hailed as legendary heroes for saving the city.
Salinda says she can offer little gold to the party as a reward, as it is needed to rebuild the city. Swashy awkwardly averts her eyes at this comment, not bothering to mention the 3,000 gold and platinum coins she took out of the vault in Tirinil’s keep. However, Lady Salinda informs the group that Gatetown’s vaults have accumulated a number of strange and powerful magical items over the years. She says, “These did not even help us when we were overrun by demons. I think powerful tools such as these were meant to be in the hands of adventurers such as yourselves. It is only there that they can do the most good.” The party graciously accepts her offerings and spends some time divvying up the numerous powerful items they receive:
- Spellbook of court wizard Sattrex
- Staff of Power
- Magical Full Plate Armor
- Gauntlets of Half-Ogre Strength
- Main Gauche, Defender
- Magical Leather Armor
- Amulet of Regeneration
- Cloak of Protection from the Elements
- Ring of Elemental Command – Water
- Horn of Blasting
- Slippers of Spider-Climbing
- Potion of Cloud Giant Strength
- Potion of Diminution
- Potion of Speed
- Oil of Slipperiness
- Oil of Disenchantment
- Scroll of Protection from Fire
- 4 Potions of Extra-Healing
In addition to these items, Barlongren finds that his axe has magically gained in power after chopping down the warlock Tirinil. It is now an Axe of Life-Stealing. Also, Lady Salinda offers the party a valuable gem they can use to remove the curse on the Eyes of Gam’Sheth. They do so, and find that numerous other magical powers are unlocked from the eyes once the curse is removed. Swashy still has a deep personal aversion to the eyes, so Barlongren ends up donning them. Moreover, in searching through the library in Tirinil’s keep over the next several weeks, Cham comes across an ancient tome that describes a number of legendary magical artifacts. He is shocked to find the Eyes of Gam’Sheth are included in this tome, and shares what he finds with the rest of the party.
Eyes of Gam’Sheth
The Eyes of Gam’Sheth is a magical artifact of unsurpassed power. Crafted centuries ago by a priest of Ioun, God of Knowledge & Prophecy, they are capable of bestowing incredible magical insight on their owner, and can also allow the wearer to change into the form of a black crow.
The Eyes of Gam’Sheth appear as two crystal lenses, and are not actually joined in anyway. They are worn by simply placing both crystals over one’s eyes. Upon donning the Eyes, the magical lenses disappear and meld into the eyes of the wearer. The lenses cannot be seen once put on, however the wearer’s eyes are noticeably changed – they appear as smooth, crystal orbs with no pupils or irises, and are a solid, foggy white color throughout.
• Detect Magic (as 1st level Priest spell) 1/day
• Detect Invisibility (as 2nd level Wizard spell) 1/day
• Clairvoyance (as 3rd level Wizard spell) 1/day
• Infravision at-will
• +4 on Vision-based perception (Int/Wis) checks
• +4 to Saves vs. Illusion, Charm, and other mind-affecting magic
• -4 to Saves vs. Gaze attacks
The following powers are available only after becoming attuned to their owner by being worn continuously for one week. If the Eyes are ever removed, these powers cease to function until re-attuned.
• 4/day – Turn from original form into a black crow or from crow back into original form. Cannot attack or cast spells in this form, but retain defenses of original form
• True Seeing (as 5th level Priest spell) 1/week
• Augury (as 2nd level Priest spell) 1/week
• Reflecting Pool (as 4th level Priest spell) 1/week
• X-Ray Vision (as Ring of X-Ray Vision) 1/day
• Detect Undead (as 1st level Wizard spell) 1/day
• Locate Object (as 2nd level Wizard spell) at-will
• Locate Creature at-will
• Speak with Animals – birds only (as 2nd level Priest spell) at-will
• Functions as Eyes of the Eagle
• Functions as Eyes of Minute Seeing
Additional powers based on the wearer’s class:
• Barbarian – the Eyes take on their owner’s personality and amplify it (see Personality below). The wearer gets a +2 on saves to enter a rage.
• Rogue – the Eyes’ magical vision grants an increased level of precise aim. The wearer’s Backstab multiplier increases by 1.
• Cleric/Wizard – the Eyes grant greater magical insight, giving +15% (or +3) to any divination check for spells such as Augury, Identify, Detect Magic, etc…
The Eyes of Gam’Sheth were crafted by Gam’Sheth, a priest of Ioun who was persecuted for his beliefs. He spoke of a vision of the future he received, that the tyrannical ruler of his city would die after being visited by a black crow. The ruler declared the priest’s words treason and sedition, and sentenced him to death. He was crucified with others on a hilltop outside the city and left to die. After several days, Gam’Sheth was near death, and crows arrived to nibble on the dying prisoners. Too weak to even cry out in pain, the crows pecked out the eyes of the priest. Gam’Sheth was eventually saved by a passing group of travelers who cut down the surviving prisoners. After recovering from his ordeal, Gam’Sheth used the power of Ioun to craft a pair of magical eyes that would allow him to see more than he ever could with his own eyes. The priest then sought vengeance on those who had persecuted him and decried the word of Ioun. A pious student of prophecy and omens, Gam’Sheth always visited his victims first in the form of a black crow, a sign of impending death. Thus, the priest himself fulfilled the vision he had seen of the future, visiting the tyrannical ruler as a black crow before brining death to his persecutor.
As the wearer becomes attuned to the Eyes of Gam’Sheth, they get a sense of the artifact’s personality, as it is an intelligent item. However, the Eyes have no true personality of their own. They will see into the soul of their owner, and mimic what they find there, becoming a mirror of their owner’s personality. The artifact will offer occasional insight or advice to its owner, always keeping what it sees as its owner’s best interests in mind. Their owner may sometimes feel that the Eyes know them better than they know themselves.
Potential for Becoming Cursed
The Eyes of Gam’Sheth are so receptive to their owner’s personality and experiences, that they may be magically altered when their owner experiences a horrific or traumatic event while wearing them. The Eyes can become cursed from such an incident, as the artifact’s sense of itself and personality is inextricably linked to the feelings and experiences of its owner. For example, if the owner is nearly killed by an elf while wearing the Eyes, they may develop a curse that magically compels their owner to kill any elf on sight. The Eyes will corrupt their owner with these unwanted desires, and the artifact will become impossible to remove without magical means. Most recently, the Eyes were cursed to transform their wearer into an evil undead creature. This was a result of the previous owner being killed by a wight while wearing the Eyes.
Usually a Remove Curse spell can undo this affliction, though special magical components are often required to remove the curse, including a very valuable gem of at least 1,000gp in value. Other components may be required as well, and will vary depending on the type of curse the Eyes have developed. For example the most recent curse upon the eyes, which afflicted the wearer with eternal undeath, could only be undone by the power and innocence of a newly birthed life – the valuable gem used in the spell-casting had to be anointed in the tears of a babe.
With so many of the city’s former land owners now deceased, Lady Salinda also offers the party lands within the city if they so desire. Swashy accepts the offer, and stakes out a spot in the city to build a merchant house with her newfound wealth. She employs Ja’apel to run the enterprise, though she’s not sure just how much she can trust him. Nonetheless, the colorfully accented rogue is ecstatic to be working with such a respected and accomplished hero, and he doesn’t hesitate to abandon his prior guild allegiance to join up with Swashy. They agree to name the merchant house, Swash’apel.
Cham accepts Lady Salinda’s offer as well, founding a new church of Pharsma in the city to offer solace to the limitless citizens who lost loved ones to the demons. Pharsma’s word quickly takes root, as the citizens find comfort in accepting death as a natural part of life. Cham’s fame as a savior of the city certainly helps as well. He finds a promising young acolyte named Faalduun to head up the temple, as Cham must continue onward to seek his destiny.
Amongst the survivors of Gatetown, Myx is elated to find her old friend Kevven. He thanks Myx for her generosity all those years ago, and assures her that the magic armor she gave him was the only thing that kept him alive when the demons attacked. He marvels at the elf’s brave deeds, saying, “I got my taste of adventure years ago, and thought better about pursuing it as a career choice, but apparently you weren’t scared off at all!” Myx humbly accepts his praise, and promises to share a drink with him when he gets his inn back up and running. She considers asking him to come back out on the road with her, but decides it would likely just put the old, grizzled former adventurer in danger.
Barlongren catches up with Luuran, who is enthralled with Barlongren’s heroic deeds and now famous prowess in battle. The barbarian’s former tribe mate offers to pledge his service to Barlongren, and the offer is gladly accepted. Luuran admits to being lost after leaving the Valders tribe, but he is eager to find a life of battle again at Barlongren’s side.
The party also decides they need a bard to document their incredible, heroic deeds. Eventually they get word that the bard Onjon, who they saved from the prisons in Crow’s Point, is in town. They ask him to join them, and the minstrel jumps at the chance to follow a group of such brave heroes. He says it is every bard’s dream to compose an epic tale of legendary adventurers. Unfortunately, he tells the party that he is useless in battle and knows nothing of magical music like other famous bards. The party figures he’ll still do.
Lady Gwillivin and Yramor move into their family keep, now that it has been ridden of Tirinil. They thank the party for what they did, as even Lady Gwillivin was eager to see her brother pass from this world. The two finally plan a wedding, and the party enjoys a fanciful celebration at Gwillivin’s keep. Myx unleashes a magical torrent of sparks, lights, music, and beautiful images to compliment the ceremony, and a good time is had by all.
The group stays in Gatetown several months, as Cham scours the library in Gwillivin’s keep for the piece of writing the avatar of Pharsma told him would lead to the Star of Illithor. He eventually exhausts the library, and begins looking through the rest of the city. He employs the local thieves’ guild, Marin’s Lifters, to drum up any old writing they can find, and eventually, for a hefty sum of gold, he hits on something interesting.
Cham finds a piece of writing in another language, but shockingly, when Myx casts Comprehend Languages she still cannot read the parchment. Cham recalls the avatar of Pharsma saying the Star of Illithor was protected by incredibly powerful magics to make it resistant to all forms of divination, and the priest guesses that this protection extends even to this mundane piece of writing concerning the star’s whereabouts.
Surprisingly, Barlongren recognizes the language of the writing, though he cannot read it. It is ancient Barbar, a language found amongst the medicine-men and women of the barbarian tribes of the Ma’rook Plateau. He assures Cham that Neesa, a medicine woman of his former tribe, or any of the shamans at the temple of Gam Ysran could read the parchment.
Unfortunately, Barlongren recalls Luuran’s news of his former tribe. Neesa was made a personal prisoner of the tribe’s brutish chief, Malek Tal. Recently Malek Tal instituted the practice of Ravik’mort, drinking the fresh blood of one’s enemies. Legend holds the practice makes a warrior incredibly powerful and unstoppable in battle, though it also drives them into a mad rage that leaves them the mental equivalent of a savage, bloodthirsty animal. Malek Tal also attacked the temple of Gam Ysran recently, an unheard of violation of the unwritten rules between the tribes.
After having spent the rest of spring and all of summer in Gatetown, the party heads out in early fall toward Gam Ysran. Luuran joins the group, a hefty magical great sword strapped across his back, along with Onjon. Tortette leaves with the party as well, of course. The young tortle has grown up fast, as her race matures quickly and doesn’t live nearly as long as humans. Continuing her training with Swashy and Myx, the young tortle has blossomed into an impressive, if inexperienced, addition to the party. Her stubby fingers could never quite master the deft movements required to pick pockets or the intricate arcane gestures needed to cast wizard spells. However, she learned to be light on her feet and to fight with two hands like Swashy, and managed to master the raw power of the magic of nature with Myx’s guidance. The young tortle is now a somewhat skilled ranger, as well as a druid.
The party has an uneventful journey for a little over a week. They eventually encounter a campsite, and Swashy creeps forward to investigate. She is dumbfounded when she encounters Craggers lying on a bedroll at the campsite. The somewhat lovable and dimwitted rogue approaches Swashy with a broad smile. As he nears, he suddenly lashes out with vicious claws and fangs, and Swashy realizes the image of Craggers is a magical disguise. The swashbuckler draws her sabre and with a single thrust manages to activate the magic of the Nine Lives Stealer, instantly dropping the fake Craggers to the ground, lifeless.
As it dies, the creature’s illusion fades, and Swashy is surprised to see a strange humanoid creature with a tiger’s head. The rest of the party arrives, and Cham identifies the creature as a Rakshasa – an incredibly powerful creature that is immune to most any spell, is able to cast powerful wizard and priest spells itself, and is a terror in battle. Swashy was incredibly lucky to have stolen its life so quickly and easily.
Just then, a group of crazed barbarian warriors comes charging over the hill to attack the party. They can see from the warriors’ eyes that they have partaken of Ravik’mort, as they have a deranged look to them, and possess inhuman strength and quickness. Nonetheless, the party is able to handle them, with Luuran’s help.
They proceed onward, and after another couple days’ journey they arrive at the temple of Gam Ysran. Barlongren spots the temple in the distance with the Eyes of Gam’Sheth, and is shocked to see a massive encampment surrounding the temple. There must be numerous tribes joined together here. The barbarian is surprised to see a banner flying over the temple itself. More shocking is the symbol on the banner. Barlongren recognizes it as the Band of the Red Fang – the same banner claimed by a pack of orcs the party encountered months ago below the Plateau on their journey to Gatetown.