Challengers of the Unspeakable
The Challengers of the Unpeakable were an adventuring company formed to oppose the wizard Tephra after she opened a portal to the Far Realm. They did not remain together, instead all going their separate ways once their goal had been achieved.
- 1 Members
- 2 History
- 2.1 Early Days
- 2.2 A Name and a Promise
- 2.3 Wolfheart
- 2.4 Duvik Pass
- 2.5 The Sleeper's Tomb
- 2.6 The Tomb of Horrors
- 2.7 The Tear of Boccob
- 2.8 The Battle of Silverstone
- 2.9 Drow Enclave
- 2.10 The Ziggurat and the Dragon
- 2.11 To Estorium!
- 2.12 Pyramid of Shadows
- 2.13 The Iron Crags
- 2.14 The Winter Court
- 2.15 Planar rift
- 2.16 The Scythe
- 2.17 Final Battle
- Chrip - Kercpa sorcerer. Became the new leader of the Winter Court fey, and retired to his new palace in the Winter Wood.
- Elytra - Female dragonborn battlemind. Sacrificed herself to close Tephra's portal to the Far Realm, becoming trapped on the other side.
- Grayson - Drow rogue disguised as a wood elf. Betrayed the party within the Pyramid of Shadows, and was stabbed in the heart by Gurrard Snevilin.
- Gryff - Male human paladin of Nalindra. Sucked into an imploding Far Realm portal and returned as an undead aberration. His soul was claimed by Nalindra upon his death.
- Harthur Grai - Male half-orc ranger. Fell into a portal to the Abyss, eventually becoming first exarch of the Nightbringer.
- Kalth - Thri-kreen monk. Briefly became Vyrellis's bodyguard, but vanished without a trace some months later.
- Kayleth Lifesinger - Half-elf bard. Lost in the Abyss, but returned due to the intervention of the Nightbringer.
- Kitsu - Hengeyokai ranger. Joined Chrip in the Feywild.
- Nuraya - Female shardmind artificer/shaman. Left to the join the Trine Academy after failing to save Gryff.
- Ro - Female revenant shifter druid. Imprisoned within the Pyramid of Shadows by Vyrellis, now leader of a tribe of Arboreans in Palmheart.
- Sarahlia - Female warlord, claimed to be human. Trapped in the Abyss with Orcus. Tortured, killed, and sewn into a series of ghouls.
- Tephra - Female human wizard. Opened a portal to the Far Realm and became the chosen of Allabar. Slain by the other Challengers and devoured by Allabar.
- Zohar - Angel of Moradin. Returned to Celestia after the threat of the Far Realm was ended.
The individuals that would eventually form the Challengers of the Unspeakable first met in The Wood's End tavern in Brightstone in 2959. At the time, Tephra, Gryff, Ro, Harthur, and Nuraya were simply prospective adventurers looking to earn some coin. When the lich Leardon Sunflare posted a notice asking for adventurers to journey to a nearby ruin in the Dawning Woods, the five decided to band together to take the job. The mud-choked ruin had been taken over by bullywugs, and Leardon believed that their presence may have imparted certain properties to the mud that would aid him in his ritual research.
Within a chamber deep in the ruin, the adventurers found a magical staff being used to open a portal to the Elemental Chaos, through which the mud had been slowly trickling in. Though they didn't know how long it had been there, they closed the portal and took the staff. On their way back to Brightstone, they encountered a wagon that had collapsed into a hive of giant ants. Rather than accept their help, though, the insane caravan master ordered their deaths. During the battle, a glass container fell out of the wagon and shattered, releasing a bizarre aberrant creature. The adventurers dispatched their foes, but were disturbed by the creature they had encountered. Leardon agreed to look into it, and the next day told them it was a fell taint, a predator from the Far Realm. Since the presence of one implied the presence of more (and possibly worse, with their connection to the Far Realm, Leardon had spent the evening magically tracking it to a cave deeper in the woods. The five adventurers agreed to travel there and investigate.
The cave was filled with fell taints, making their investigation quite treacherous. As they continued deeper they found a network of twisting, narrow tunnels that spiraled down into the earth, making navigation both confusing and hazardous. At the bottom they discovered a glowing, crystalline golem with some sort of stone at its heart. Though the golem was a powerful foe, they eventually defeated it and recovered the stone, which turned out to be a crystal clearly corrupted by the energies of the Far Realm. When they brought it back to Leardon, he got worried and brought his fellow Brightstone Hero Priam to see it. Priam told the adventurers that the crystal looked to be a corrupted version of the same crystal that had given him psionic powers, and that its very existence worried him greatly. He and Leardon thanked them for their efforts and began conducting further research on the corrupted crystal.
While Leardon and Priam looked into the crystal, Tol Sigurn asked the adventurers, now that they had proven themselves, to deal with a brown dragon named Kethendtir that had been attacking caravans recently. The five traveled to the cavern where the dragon made its lair and slew it, but found a passage leading to an ancient ruin used as living quarters by Kethendtir's dragonborn and kobold allies. Within the ruin was an inactive magic portal and an ancient journal from someone named Voran, as well as a piece of chalk that could activate the portal. The portal led to a wizard's sanctum deep underground. After dispatching the rest of the dragon's allies, they found another portal, activated by a floating lantern, that transported them to the ruin in which they had faced the bullywugs. Returning to the sanctum, they also found a ladder leading down into an enchanted living area containing five doors, each with the name of one of the adventurers, leading to extradimensional bedrooms. After resting and deciding to claim the sanctum for themselves, they returned to Tol with news of the dragon's defeat.
A few days later, Tol asked them to deal with a nearby band of goblins that had been getting more aggressive as of late. The goblins' lair was hidden in a tangle of spiderwebs, and guarded by giant spiders that were inexplicably serving the goblins. While climbing down into the hole that served as their hideout, Ro was knocked free and plummeted to her death. Her allies finished dealing with the goblins, killing their chief, Urgog the Mangler. At the bottom of the goblin hole, they found a few curious things. The first was a drow relic used to control summon and control spiders, accompanied by an unsigned letter proposing an alliance with the goblins in exchange for the destruction of Brightstone Keep. The second was a series of ancient journal fragments indicating that Voran was a wizard from Estorium who had led a band of survivors to settle here after the Illithid War. Unfortunately, they ended with the deaths of all of them at the hands of a group of illithids who had apparently followed them. The four surviving adventurers returned to Brightstone with Ro's body. Tol was quite distressed about the possibility of drow nearby, and immediately left to speak with the other Brightstone Heroes about finding and eradicating them. Meanwhile, the adventurers brought Ro's body to Leardon to be raised. When he performed the ritual, however, she inexplicably arose as an undead revenant. While Tephra spent the next day in the library researching Ro's condition, the other four found themselves having to come to the aid of a gnomish alchemist named Fonkin Twiddlefist when his alchemical laboratory exploded, trapping his cat in the burning building. Though the interior of the building was awash in chaotic magic as a result of the explosion, the four successfully rescued the cat. Tephra arrived and joined them outside just in time to see Fonkin's bathtub, animated by the ambient magic from the blast, leap out of an upstairs window and charge off down the street.
Priam asked the adventurers to return to the ruin where they had encountered the bullywugs to look for more information about Voran. Using the staff they had pulled from the mud, they cleared it away and revealed a hidden tunnel deeper beneath the complex. Though it was filled with fell taints, they eventually found a chamber containing one of Voran's journals. It indicated that he alone had survived the illithids' attack on his settlement, and thereafter threw himself into researching how to fight against them using a number of illithid artifacts recovered during the war. The fruits of his labor were a number of crystals that could imbue humans with psionic powers - just like Priam's. They also found a disturbing magical tome covered in the skin of several faces stitched together, which moaned and wailed whenever it was opened. Tephra claimed the tome for herself, reasoning that it would contain considerable knowledge about their aberrant foes.
A Name and a Promise
The next day, the adventurers were given another task. Brightstone's miners had uncovered some ancient dwarven ruins, but they needed someone to go in and make sure no monsters had taken up residence before they began their excavation. Unfortunately, they found that Harthur had been involved in a brawl in the Wood's End tavern and been arrested, so the other four had to go in without him. They spent much of the day dealing with giant insects and a handful of duergar, before returning to Brightstone to rest and recover. The next day, they went back in - alongside Harthur, who had been released in the morning - and discovered that a mad duergar named Hargash Bitterblade was summoning the giant vermin in the name of the demon lord Obox-ob. When they confronted him, he fled deeper into the tunnels and summoned demons to defeat them. Though the tunnel collapsed in the battle and cut off their retreat, after slaying Hargash and the demons the adventurers realized they had found their way into another of Voran's hidden sanctums. When they tried to activate the portal and escape, however, it transported them to a ruined tower where they were forced to do battle with - and ultimately destroy - the maddened ghost of Voran himself.
Outside the tower, the adventurers found themselves in an immense, ancient, ruined city. As they walked through the ruined streets, a fog sprang up around them, obscuring their sight. Stumbling through the fog, they found a small cabin. Inside lived an old man named Jorn. After letting them eat and rest, he told them that he was a wiard living a hermit's life and had recently detected worrisome levels of energy related to the Far Realm. After hearing their tale, he asked them to travel to an ancient temple of Boccob known as the Temple of the Mind's Eye and eliminate whatever aberrations they might find. It took them most of the day to reach the temple, so they made camp outside. When they did, though, they experienced bizarre dreams. Though all were slightly different, they all featured dark, winding corridors filled with the sounds of grinding rock and scraping metal, a woman's bloodcurdling scream, a giant stone eye, and the opening of a great door. They awoke to find themselves under attack by mutated goblins; after defeating them, they chased those that fled into the cave where they encountered more of the twisted creatures. At the bottom, they found a planar leak from which energy was seeping from the Far Realm, which had so greatly warped the goblin tribe dwelling there. With great effort they managed to close it and returned to Jorn.
Though Jorn thanked them for dealing with the goblins, he could tell that the planar leak was merely the symptom of a greater problem originating from within the temple itself. The five set back out for the temple, camping outside once again. As before, they were plagued with strange dreams; this time, the imagery was much more vivid, and they saw the door open to reveal terrible aberrant horrors. Resolving that they must stop the disaster that their dreams were warning them about, they entered the temple. They first encountered a band of yuan-ti inside the temple, but when they explained their goal the yuan-ti allowed them to pass in order to eliminate a mutual threat, as they had claimed much of the temple for themselves. The adventurers traveled through grand chambers that had long-since collapsed, leaving only thin tunnels between the rubble, eventually encountering a shadow dragon in the darkness. It engaged them in conversation for a bit, before explaining that its mistress had set it to guard the passage, and that it would have to kill them. Though the dragon was powerful, the adventurers ultimately proved stronger.
Passing through the ruined sections, they found a long hallway that had been rigged with dozens of deadly traps. They just barely managed to reach the other side alive, where they found an enormous domed room painted with massive images of Boccob. In the center of the room was a small altar, atop which was a gem projecting a massive anti-magic field. After some discussion, they elected to leave it undisturbed. Continuing further in, they entered a vast chamber with a massive fissure through the middle and an enormous scythe with a glowing red blade embedded in the back wall. Beneath the scythe, a mind flayer had opened a small portal to the Far Realm through which several aberrations were emerging. The five adventurers leaped into battle, and though it took nearly everything they had, they finally killed the mind flayer and all the aberrations it had summoned. While they bandaged their wounds, Tephra volunteered to seal the portal. As she opened the wailing tome and began to intone a ritual in deep speech, her allies realized too late that she was not sealing the portal, but opening it even further. As it spread to cover the entire wall, sucking the scythe deep into it, a small army of aberrations appeared on the other side. Tephra simply smiled as they approached, looking to her for leadership. Realizing that they could not face this foe and live, the other four adventurers fled even as a massive aberration stepped through with the scythe in its hands.
Returning to Jorn's cabin, the wizard was furious. With a sudden sweep of his cape, he revealed that was in fact the god Boccob, having been turned into a mortal following his defeat of Nerull in the Deity War. He angrily told them that he would do what he could to clean up their miss, then teleported them to Brightstone. The four quickly reported what had happened to Leardon, who immediately called a meeting of the Brightstone Heroes. The four adventurers retired to the tavern, where they decided to make it their mission to stop Tephra and close the portal to the Far Realm. Calling themselves the Challengers of the Unspeakable, they drew up a sigil and each had it tattooed upon them as a sign of their bond. While discussing their next move, a thri-kreen introduced itself to them as Kalth, announcing that it was a monk whose one goal in life was to battle evil and asking if they knew where it could go to do so. The newly-christened Challengers of the Unspeakable explained to Kalth what their mission was, and invited the thri-kreen monk to join them. Kalth eagerly accepted, though it took some convincing for the monk not to immediately set out for Estorium right then and there.
The Brightstone Heroes were appalled at how disastrously things went in Estorium. While they prepared to gather their allies and head south to battle the aberrations, they asked the Challengers of the Unspeakable to travel east to Silverstone and research means of closing the portal. On their way, though, Tol asked them to deliver a letter to a friend of his named Regina Tress in the village of Parrath. As the five adventurers made camp near the village, they found Regina being attacked by werewolves. Regina explained that the village had recently been plagued by a number of wolf attacks, though the creatures had rarely troubled them in the past. When they attacked the village in force, she realized they were werewolves; the next morning, her husband and several other villagers were missing. She and several of the village's warriors searched the island of Wolfheart, but all the rest were wiped out.
The Challengers accompanied Regina back to Parrath. That night, they helped the villagers fight off a second attack not just by werewolves, but other lycanthropes as well. One of the villagers told them about an ancient burial mound to the south, and when they investigated they found the ghost of an eladrin woman named Omaphara. She told them that that when the Feywild rejoined the Material Plane, a fey crossing opened on Wolfheart. This led to a conflict between a local clan of werewolves and the eladrin city of Mithrendain known as the War of the Pelt that resulted in her death. Though a truce was ultimately called, her husband Querelian vowed that he would avenge her. Recently, Querelian had visited her grave and - though he did not know her spirit was still present - said that war would soon return, and her death would at last be avenged. Her long years of seclusion, however had given her time to reflect on the war; she now believed that only tragedy would come from renewed bloodshed, and begged the Challengers to stop Querelian. She gave them her longsword, Moonclaw, and explained that the fey crossing on Wolfheart only opened during the full moon; this would be their only chance to stop him.
The band took the fey crossing to Brokenstone Vale within the Feywild, and journeyed until they came upon the village of Shatterstone where the werewolves had made their home. The werewolves were initially hostile, but the Challengers managed to talk them down. The werewolves explained that their leader, Viktor Mazan, had been kidnapped and evidence suggested the eladrin of Mithrendain were responsible. Though many of them were eager to attack Mithrendain and rescue him, they were convinced to let the Challengers rescue him in their stead. As insurance, Ro remained behind as a hostage.
The Challengers tracked Viktor Mazan's kidnappers to the lair of rival werewolves and rescued Mazan, as well as uncovering evidence that Querelian had paid them to capture and kill Mazan and plant evidence implicating Mithrendain. While Mazan returned to Brokenstone Vale to calm his people, the Challengers followed the information they found to the ruined keep from which Querelian was orchestrating his plans. The mad eladrin accused them of being werebeasts and elf-foes, spitting vitriol and invectives as he and his allies fought back. The Challengers ultimately subdued and tied him up just as forces from Mithrendain arrived to battle against the werewolves. The Challengers were quickly able to explain what had happened, though, and turned both Querelian and Moonclaw over to them.
Back in Shatterstone, the werewolves' elder shaman told Ro of a prophecy that a hero would one day arise wielding the powers of life and death to save the world. As an undead druid, he believed her to be that hero. He guided her on a spiritual journey to improve her powers, helping her to fully come to terms with her nature. When her companions returned, the werewolves thanked them for averting renewed warfare and gifted them dire wolf mounts.
The heroes continued down the road for several days, eventually reaching Duvik Pass. As they traveled, they were attacked by a medusa whose arm was branded by a dark green rune leading a gang of bandits. The Challengers narrowly defeated her, though as they did the rune vanished and reappeared on Harthur's arm, poisoning him. Harthur quickly determined, however, that he could channel that poison into his blades. Fearing that more bandits were wielding such powers, they followed their tracks off the pass and into the mountains until they found ruins covered in similar runes. They also found more bandits, these ones led by a minotaur with bright orange runes glowing on his neck. As before, when they killed him the runes transferred to Gryff, searing him with pain but enabling him to channel fire into his sword. Exploring the ruins, they found sketches of a set of standing stones with runes drawn next to them. Fearing what the bandits had stumbled upon, they continued to the top of the mountain where they found the standing stones and the bandits' leader. Though a heavy cloak obscured most of her features, when she spoke they realized it was their old ally, Tephra. She explained that she was now serving a being known as Allabar, who had given her the ultimate power she had always dreamed of and who would soon remake the world in his image. She intended to free the primordial Hoshotath, who would destroy the world's defenders and pave the way for her master's arrival.
Though the Challengers fought fiercely against the elementals she summoned, she was able to shatter enough standing stones for Hoshotath to begin to enter Syra, scouring the mountaintop with his power. Tephra herself assailed them with both powerful arcane magic and tentacles that whipped out from within her cloak. She was ultimately defeated by a mighty blow delivered by Kalth, but her body erupted into a mass of writhing tentacles and her telepathic voice told the Challengers that they would see her again.
As Tephra vanished, another set of magical runes carved themselves into Nuraya's chest. Though she could feel Hoshotath's will driving her to kill her companions and finish freeing him, she found that she also understood the ritual that had bound him. Pushing back against the primordial's influence, she was able to inscribe new runes upon the ruined stones that forced him back into his prison and bound him once more. Once the binding was complete, the runes vanished from Harthur and Gryff but remained carved into Nuraya's crystalline form.
The Sleeper's Tomb
The next day, the Challengers encountered priestesses of the Raven Queen escorting the body of a paladin named Sir Malagant. They priestesses explained that he was a paladin of Wee Jas who, long ago, had given his life defeating a great evil from the Far Realm known as the Sleeper. His body was taken to a nearby temple where an exarch of Wee Jas appeared and told the clerics that they must consecrate his body with a special ritual a hundred years hence. That day had now come, and they were on their way to the site of his final battle to perform the ritual. While they spoke, however, a group of cultists attacked and made off with Sir Malagant's body. The priestesses asked them to retrieve his body. Kalth swore, in the name of the Raven Queen, that they would succeed in this quest.
They tracked the cultists to a nearby hill where the mouth of a carving of an immense stone face formed a tunnel into the hill. They were met there by more cultists guarding the entrance, including a tiefling on a hippogriff. Kalth leapt up onto the hippogriff and tried to drag it down, but failed and fell. On the way down Kalth hurled a rock that struck the hippogriff in the head, killing it and causing its body to fall on the monk. The tiefling vanished in a burst of hellfire. The heroes proceeded down into the hillside, finding themselves in a massive tomb complex that the Sleeper's followers had built for it. They learned that the tiefling, Volkanth, had recently received prophetic dreams that led him to rebuild the Sleeper's cult in preparation for its return.
While sleeping in the tomb, the Challengers were beset by horrible nightmares of a man with empty eye sockets, screaming that they stole his eyes. Though disturbed, this strengthened their resolve to destroy such a potent evil. After passing a variety of torture devices and sacrificial chambers, they found a skeletal horse animated by a magic bridle that Kalth took ownership of. The monk also found, and began wearing, a black cloak with a demon's skull sewn into the hood, its horns protruding upward. As they continued through the tomb the cultists got more and more paranoid and deranged. They also encountered a variety of aberrations and fiendish traps. When they came at last to where the Sleeper itself was entombed, they beheld Volkanth and his inner circle involved in a dark ritual. Blood dripped down from the ceiling towards the mummified body of Sir Malagant, a hole carved in his chest where a horrific tentacled creature curled and drank the blood offered to it. It was clear from the cultists' intonations that this was the Sleeper.
In the ensuing battle Kalth was nearly slain by the cultists. In the moments before death, however, Kalth beheld a vision of the Raven Queen herself, who healed the monk's wounds. With the help of this divine boon, they were able to slay Volkanth and his cultists, as well as the Sleeper before it could be reborn in Sir Malagant's body. They returned the paladin's body to the priestesses, who performed a ritual of their own. At its conclusion, Sir Malagant's soul appeared in the air, pledged himself to Wee Jas for eternity, and lanced into the sky. Kalth found a newfound reverence for the Raven Queen as a result of the vision, but as their philosophies were too different the monk did not become a true worshiper. However, the experience inspired Kalth to research the various deities and religions of the world.
The Tomb of Horrors
When the Challengers arrived in Silverstone, they learned that the Brightstone Heroes had already sent word ahead about the Far Realm, realizing that their mission had merely been a ploy to sideline them for a time. They busied themselves with researching the Far Realm until they were contacted by the sorceress Theriana. She explained that though they may be on different sides, she had a vested interest in the world not ending and thus wished to help close the portal. As it had been opened with the scythe of Nerull, closing it would require powerful artifacts of both Nerull and the Far Realm. Theriana had two in mind in particular.
The first was the skull of the demilich Acererak, who had built a deadly tomb to lure adventurers and treasure hunters to their deaths to gather souls for Nerull. The second was an extradimensional Estorian prison known as the Pyramid of Shadows that used the energies of the Far Realm to teleport throughout the world. Theriana proposed that she would obtain one, while the Challengers obtained the other, after which she would use them together to close the portal. The Challengers agreed and decided to go after Acererak's skull, and though she warned them not to tell Myra Brigg of her plan they did so anyway. Myra believed that she wanted to avert the world's doom, but warned them not to trust her even so.
The challengers delved into the Tomb of Horrors, overcoming many deadly traps and powerful monsters. They eventually reached Acererak's crypt, finding the demilich to be nothing more than a floating skull with gemstone eyes and teeth. They battled the demlich, even as he teleported them throughout the tomb, until at last Kalth landed a mighty blow that shattered the skull into dust, the gemstones clattering to the floor. After picking them up to take back to Theriana, they plundered the treasures within Acererak's crypt. Among them was a crystalline axe named Farbane that Harthur claimed. They then departed the Tomb of Horrors and began traveling back to Silverstone.
As they headed up the mountain pass they were stopped by Tephra, who wanted Acererak's soul gems. When they refused, she attacked them briefly before summoning the aberrant monstrosity Shoth-Gorag to kill them. After Ro slew the beast, it melted, leaving only a large black stone - its heart. They took it back to Myra. Reasoning that Shoth-Gorag's heart was itself a powerful object infused with the powers of the Far Realm, they decided not to meet with Theriana at all. They gave the heart and the gems to Myra, who began researching a way to use them to close the portal.
The Tear of Boccob
After learning of multiple attacks on nearby towns by aberrations, the Challengers volunteered to help defend these far-flung areas while waiting for Myra to conduct her research. They were sent via hippogriff to the town of Wellspring, which soon after came under attack by grell searching for something called "the Tear." After defeating them they met Dierdre, a priestess of Ioun from the local temple. She told them of the Tear of Boccob, an ancient artifact said to be hidden within a tower in the mountains.
The Challengers found the temple a crumbling ruin, filled with aberrant monsters and individuals corrupted by the Far Realm. One of them, a woman named Denva, was not too far-gone and surrendered, explaining that she was part of a mercenary company called the Stormcrows that was hired by a mage named Cylus to find the Tear. Though they succeeded, it was tainted by the Far Realm and corrupted them all. The Tear was stolen shortly thereafter, prompting their leader to send the grell to Wellspring to find it. They continued up the tower and slew the remainder of the mercenaries, but could find no clues as to where the Tear had been taken. The Tear's corruption also gave them concern for Boccob's fate.
After returning to Wellspring, the Challengers heard rumors that people had been mysteriously vanishing recently. Now, though, citizens were being murdered in broad daylight. The Challengers began investigating these crimes, and discovered evidence that the murders were being committed by horrific warped monsters coming up from the sewers. The kidnappings, on the other hand, seemed to be the work of beings from the Shadowfell. Moreover, all the trouble seemed to start around the time Cylus hired the Stormcrows. They immediately sought out Cylus at his room in the inn, but discovered that he was dead, the four jagged holes in his head clear evidence of a mind flayer. They cast Speak with Dead, and learned that Cylus had been hired to find the Tear of Boccob for Tephra. However, while waiting for the Stormcrows to return with the artifact, he was attacked by an illithid named Shathrax who forced him to divulge all he knew of the Tear before devouring his brain.
As they left, they ran into a group of dark ones arriving out of a Shadowfell portal in search of more victims. Defeating and interrogating them, the Challengers learned that the dark ones were employed by Shathrax to kidnap people and drag them to the illithid's lair in the sewer, where Shathrax would expose them to the corrupted energies of the Tear of Boccob to transform them into monsters. Worse, the Tear's energy was seeping up into the town and driving the citizens mad.
As the maddened citizens of Wellspring began rioting in response to the kidnappings and killings, the Challengers fought their way through the aberrations that had been drawn to the sewers by the Tear and eventually found Shathrax's lair. Unfortunately, the Tear had been magically stolen from Shathrax shortly before the heroes' arrival; believing that they were responsible, he attacked. Shathrax was slain after a brief battle, but the Challengers were forced to leave empty handed.
Upon their return, they discovered the temple of Ioun being attacked by Tephra's minions and fought them off. Entering, they discovered that Dierdre, having been told of the Tear's corruption, had used her magic to teleport the Tear to herself so that she could cleanse it. Unfortunately its taint had been too strong, and she had been warped into a twisted mockery of her former self. With her dying breaths she confessed what had happened and begged them to follow Tephra's agents into the Shadowfell to retrieve it. She also gave them an iron box that she had enchanted to contain the Tear's corrupting energies. Kalth wished she had told them of her plan before they went into the sewers, as it would have saved them all a lot of time and effort.
One of Tephra's captured minions revealed that the Tear had been taken to the Fortress at World's End, and gave them directions on how to reach it through the Shadowfell. The Challengers mounted their hippogriffs and tracked Tephra's minions through the Shadowfell to the shores of the Umbral Sea, where they found the Gloaming Gate--a portal that would take them to the fortress. Though it was guarded by demons, Kalth convinced them that they had business with Tephra and to let them through. One Harthur and Gryff passed through the gate, however, the demons attacked Ro, Nuraya, and Kalth. Across the gate, Harthur and Gryff found themselves on an ice floe at the edge of a frigid sea where they were beset by even more demons. The battles on both sides of the gate were intense, with the Challengers finding their healers split from their fighters. Eventually, however, Nuraya physically threw herself at one of the demons, catching it off guard and shoving it through the portal, allowing the three of them to join their companions on the other side. Together they were able to kill all of the many demons who had tried to stop them, with the exception of a shadow demon that managed to escape. Staring across a thin ice bridge to a massive cliff to the south, and recognizing that there was no portal to return to where they came, they made camp for the night.
Flying up to the top of the cliffs, they found several guards and the shadow demon waiting for them. They defeated the guards, though the shadow demon escaped once more, and stormed the fortress gates, battling their way past a horde of icewights. Atop a large dais set into the cliff, they found a shrine containing a massive orrery rotating around what appeared to be the Tear of Boccob. The device lashed out at them with blasts of psychic energy, but when they destroyed it the device violently exploded. Realizing that this was not the real Tear of Boccob but a fake designed to lure them into the orrery's trap, they searched the courtyard until they found a trap door leading down into the real fortress.
As they made their way through the halls, battling human and demon minions alike, they eventually discovered a mysterious fountain that radiated an unnatural chill. Studying it, they determined that it was imbued with elemental cold and that by drawing a portion of its magic into themselves, they could gain magical protection against the cold. Seeing no downsides, all of the Challengers did so. Further in, they found Tephra's study and her personal notes. What they learned from them was staggering. Tephra's power had increased tremendously, allowing her not only to subdue Boccob but also to contact the demon lord Orcus and make a pact with him; in exchange for the scythe of Nerull and the souls of the dead, Tephra would gain demonic minions and knowledge of demonic magics. What was more, she was now serving a mysterious master within the Far Realm known as Allabar. More worrisome, though, was evidence that she was planning some sort of attack on Silverstone. The Challengers gathered up all the documents they could find, including notes detailing her plans for the Tear. Boccob had managed to close Tephra's portal by binding it to the Tear, corrupting it as a result. Having found the Tear of Boccob, Tephra was now in the process of using it to reopen the portal.
Locating the room where the ritual was taking place, the Challengers smashed through the door and confronted Tephra, the shadow demon, and several aberrant creatures standing around a massive orrery. At its center was the Tear of Boccob, its energies having opened a large portal to the Far Realm above the device. A massive battle ensued, during which Kalth was able to snap Dierdre's box around the Tear of Boccob. Though this caused the orrery to stop spinning and the portal to close, Tephra easily overpowered the monk and returned the Tear to its place, restarting the device and reopening the portal. Kalth eventually managed to close the box around the Tear once more, but this time, remembering that Tephra's notes stated that it would be catastrophic should the Tear come into contact with the portal, hurled the box upwards. The box immediately crushed in on itself as the Tear of Boccob imploded, the force of the closing portal pulling everything within the room towards the portal. Cursing the Challengers for ruining her plans, Tephra fled into the portal. Ro and Nuraya managed to get out through the door, while one of the foulspawn hurled a twisting ball of energy at Kalth. Gryff threw himself in the way, intercepting the ball as Kalth managed to escape out of the room. Harthur, seeing there was no way to escape, simply plunged his sword into the floor and held on tight. Gryff, having been stunned by the foulspawn's attack, was drawn helplessly into the Far Realm portal. Nuraya attempted to magically anchor him, but her spell failed and the paladin disappeared through the portal just as it snapped shut.
The Challengers returned to the surface only to discover that their hippogriffs had been slaughtered. Fortunately, they had a teleportation scroll that they were able to use to return to Silverstone. Though they had stopped Tephra and destroyed the Tear of Boccob, Gryff's loss made their victory a hollow one. Nuraya was so distraught over her failure to save him that she decided to retire from adventuring to take up a teaching position at the Trine Academy.
The Battle of Silverstone
The next day, while Ro, Nuraya, Kalth, and Harthur reported their findings to Myra, Tephra launched her attack on Silverstone, devastating the Lower City in the opening assault. Nuraya and Harthur stayed in the Academy to help defend it, while Kalth and Ro went to try and rescue as many citizens as possible. While battling the hordes of foulspawn already running through the streets, they encountered Sarahlia, a ranger with a talent for healing spells; and Elytra, a dragonborn werebear.
Once the immediate area was cleared, Harthur joined up with them as they regrouped with the city guards under the command of Thoras, a paladin of Kord. They were immediately sent to scout the ruins of the Lower City for information. There, amidst the chaos-twisted ruins and former guards transformed into monsters by aberrant magic, the heroes scaled the outer wall and discovered that the city was surrounded by a dozen monoliths matching the descriptions from Tephra's notes. After reporting back to Thoras, a counterattack was planned against the monoliths. The Challengers of the Unspeakable, with their two new teammates, attacked one while several other groups assaulted the rest. Though the monolith was defended both by aberrant guards and its own magical attacks, the city's defenders were ultimately able to destroy them.
This was but a temporary reprieve, however; a wall of blue fire had been seen beyond the city, and it was clear that this was the ultimate source of the attack. In the morning, it was decided that the forces of Silverstone would engage the Far Realm army, while the Challengers of the Unspeakable attempted to pass through the blue fire and stop whatever was commanding the attack. Unfortunately, As they approached they all found themselves afflicted with minor corrupting effects due to the Far Realm's influence. Worse, they found no way to pass through the wall. Consulting Tephra's notes, they discovered a ritual that would allow them to pass through the wall of fire by pledging themselves to Orcus. Though the pledge did not appear to be magically binding, pledging themselves to a demon lord still concerned them. As they contemplated their options, they were approached by Theriana. The sorceress offered to cast a spell that would allow them to pass through the wall, but demanded Acererak's soul gems as payment. After some consideration, they decided that they would rather pledge themselves to Orcus than risk helping Theriana release the drow from their imprisonment. Theriana left, but not before swearing that one way or another she would get the soul gems.
After performing the ritual and pledging themselves to Orcus, they passed through the flames unscathed. On the other side, they found the landscape twisted and corrupted by the Far Realm. As they cautiously advanced, the ground suddenly rose up beneath them, and they found themselves standing atop large chunks of rock entwined in the enormous tentacles of a truly behemoth aberrant monstrosity. Harthur heard a faint voice, telling him where to strike to slay the creature. Sharing this with his companions, they battled against the creature's thrashing tentacles and snapping mouths, perilously risking their lives as they attacked the mass of flesh at the creature's core until finally, a killing blow was struck. The heroes barely survived as the ground they stood upon toppled in the creature's death throes as it burst in a shower of blood and gore. At the center of the desolation left by the behemoth's demise, they found a badly wounded Boccob, his chest torn open and a black stone embedded in his still-beating heart.
Boccob told them that he had survived his battle with Nerull at the end of the Deity War, though he had become mortal as a result. After Tephra opened the portal to the Far Realm, he returned to the temple and closed the portal by binding it to the Tear of Boccob, but was stabbed with Lifecutter, sapping his strength enough for Tephra to overpower him. After extracting all of his vast magical knowledge, she pierced his heart with the stone core of an aberration much like Shoth-Gorag; the beast fed on his power, transforming him into the monstrosity they had just killed. He told them that while Tephra's ritual with the Tear had only reopened the portal by a crack, it was a crack that would steadily widen if not closed. He implored them to find a way to close Tephra's portal for good, lest Allabar enter the world and usher in the end of all things, before begging Harthur to kill him. The ranger solemnly obeyed, bringing Farbane slicing down through both the aberration's heart and Boccob's. Boccob's body dissipated into pure magic, which was drawn into the crystalline blade.
They returned to find the city in celebration. They warned Myra of Theriana's threat, but she nonetheless invited them all to a celebratory feast that night. Kalth spent the day visiting a number of temples to try and remove the various Far Realm afflictions, as well as finding atonement for pledging herself to Orcus. The temple of the Raven Queen gave her a quest to slay a powerful minion of Orcus as a sign of her repentance. Ro, meanwhile, visited the temple of Ioun to relate what had happened to Boccob. That night, at the celebratory feast, Theriana appeared with several drow and a shadow dragon. Theriana captured and escaped with Myra, promising her safe return in exchange for the soul gems. She left behind a ring as a clue to where she could be located, while the Challengers were forced to fight off the dragon and the drow to protect the other guests.
The Brightstone Heroes cast divinations upon the ring, determining that Theriana was either in the mountains to the north, or in a drow enclave. Unfortunately, while they were able to discern enough information about the enclave to teleport to it, they were unable to determine its precise location. The Challengers expected both the mountains and the enclave to be traps, but decided that the drow enclave seemed a more likely place to find Myra. Before they left, they commissioned a set of fake soul gems and enchanted them with a magical aura. Though they did not expect them to fool Theriana for long, they hoped they would fool her for just long enough. Having lost Gryff and Nuraya, they invited Sarahlia and Elytra to join them on their quest, officially inducting them into the Challengers of the Unspeakable.
The Challengers appeared in a cavern in the Underdark in the midst of a battle between living and undead drow. Both sides assumed they were enemies, and the fight ended with the Challengers killing all of the drow, living and undead. Continuing through the tunnels, they soon reached a massive chasm within which hung the drow city of Phaervorul. It soon became clear they had arrived while the city was on the losing end of an invasion by demons and undead. Entering one of the houses, they found a statue of an elegant drow wizard. Kalth, fearing it could animate to attack them, began to destroy it, drawing the attention of the wizard himself, a drow named Jhaelant. Seeing that they were not part of the invading force, Jhaelant told them that the attack came from Orcus's domain in the Abyss, and was led by a drow named Zirithian who had begun worshiping the demon lord. When the Challengers asked about Theriana, he admitted that she had spent some time in the city. He agreed to provide them information about her in exchange for their promise to slay Matron Mother Urlvrain, as he had long detested her rule. When they agreed, he gave them a map and pointed out both Theriana's dwelling and that of a drow priestess named Lareen who was also known to worship Orcus.
Fighting their way through the streets, the heroes investigated Theriana's house for clues. All they found though were more undead, and a terrified half-elven woman hiding in the back room. She claimed that she had been captured shortly before the undead attacked and had spent all of her time hiding. With no other clues forthcoming, the Challengers decided to bring her with them, reasoning that it was safer for her to be with them than alone. As they made their way to Lareen's house, though, the woman grabbed Ro, admonished them for trusting her, and teleported away with the druid. Without Ro, the party realized they had no spellcasters who could get them out of the city. Undeterred, however, they pressed on to Lareen's house where they discovered the priestess had been transformed into a powerful vampire lord. Though they defeated her minions, she fled through a portal. Exhausted, the Challengers located a secret room in the building and bedded down for the night. In their dreams, they found themselves walking through a thick mist, which eventually cleared to reveal a large room infused with a palpable sense of evil. Upon a throne sat a drow with blood-red eyes and a dark blade. After demanding that they prove their skill, he urged them to finish what he began and exterminate the drow of Phaervorul. They woke feeling refreshed, but unnerved by their shared vision.
The Challengers settled on a plan: follow Lareen through the portal and kill her, then go to the Temple of Lolth and demand a reward for saving the drow from the invasion. Once in Matron Urlvrain's presence, they would kill her and ask Jhaelant how to get back to the surface.
Thus convinced, Our Heroes entered the portal.
- Platforms connected with spiderweb bridges
- Our first encounter with bodaks! Fun and excitement!
- PWNd the Vampire Lord. Kalth kept its head for the Plan.
- Captured a Cambion who worked for Orcus. He offered to open a portal to deeper into the domain in exchange for not killing him.
- Met a gatekeeper on the other side of the portal. He told us where we were, but I was distracted by the squirrel.
- THERE WAS A SQUIRREL. IT TALKED AND WAS AMAZING. WE BROUGHT IT WITH US.
- Gatekeeper offered to... do something unspecified... if we impressed him. Since he wasn't clear on what he would do for us, we declined.
- Gatekeeper agreed not to warn Zirithian in exchange for us taking the squirrel away with us. He wanted us to leave the Cambion we had captured, but said demon put up an impassioned plea for mercy so we also brought him with us.
- People have been saying Zirithian's name right and left in here.
- Trudged for ten hours (I counted) across a horrible desert full of death flies and ambushes and the occasional gravestones with our names carved on them. Discovered Squirrel was pretty handy with ice magic.
- Arrived at a ruined fortress. Attempted to talk our way inside by claiming (accurately) that we had business with Zirithian. Cambion ratted us out by shouting that we were here to kill the guy instead. He died first.
- Full-scale battle ensued. Squirrel nearly died, but we prevailed.
- Wandered through the fortress, bluffing our way past everyone by claiming we were on official business. Sometimes they attacked us anyway. No one has any respect for people on official business in this place.
- Asked directions from a helpful Hag, who was thrilled to learn that we were here from the drow city on official business. We promised to come back and trade with her once our business with Zirithian was done.
- Entered the temple where Zirithian was said to be. To enter we had to convince the guardian that we were undead. Only Harthur failed to be convincing, and the guardian wrote his name down in his book.
- Everyone heard Orcus whisper to them, offering to make them an exarch if they slew Zirithian in his name. Kalth and Elytra were wholly uninterested. Harthur, Sarahlia, and Chrip showed interest, and Orcus offered them exarchship plus something else (specific to each person) if after slaying Zirithian they gave him the sword he carried.
- Gigantic fight against a pair of (... bone... thingies....), a fire skeleton demon thing, far too many abyssal ghouls, Zirithian, a Lich, and a constant stream of vampire spawn.
- It was a long and painful battle. Kalth came two hitpoints away from hitting negative bloodied. As it was, by the end of the battle Kalth was standing with 7 hitpoints and no healing surges.
- This was caused by Elytra attempting to knock out Zirithian with a powerful 'you fall unconscious' ability, and Zirithian's snazzy magic armor redirecting the strike to Kalth. Then everything attempting to murder Kalth while Kalth was unconscious - including a mind-controlled Elytra. Also Kalth was on fire at the time.
- At the end of that battle, Kalth was hiding in the back with the mage, throwing rocks from a safe distance.
When the battle ended, Chrip grabbed Zirithian's sword and concealed it in his bag of holding. Orcus - or at least his image - appeared on a large stone dais and demanded the sword. Chrip bargained him into also freely allowing passage out of the temple/fortress for the party and removing Harthur's name from his book in exchange for the sword.
Orcus opened a portal back to the drow city as a show of good faith. By this time, Elytra and Kalth managed to get a partial story about what was going on with this sword and why anyone was thinking of giving Orcus something that he clearly wanted very badly (re: exarchship + something special).
Elytra decided she wanted nothing to do with any of this and left through the portal. Kalth stayed to try and talk sense into everyone. ("People! Do not make BARGAINS with ORCUS!")
It also became clear Orcus would only grant his blessing to the individual who gave him the sword, not to a group of people.
After some heated discussion about who should be the one gave the sword to Orcus (Sarahlia very much wanted to be the one to do this, while Harthur was willing to let Chrip have the honor, since Chrip had bargained Orcus into removing Harthur's name from his book already), and from Kalth arguments about why no one should do any such thing, Chrip pulled out the sword, about to toss it to Orcus. Both Sarahlia and Kalth attempted to grab it from him before he could do so. Kalth succeeded and immediately bolted for the portal. All three of the remaining party members attacked in an attempt to stop Kalth from escaping. While Sarahlia and Chrip missed, Harthur managed to bring down the thri-kreen with a thrown sword.
Chrip snatched up Zirithian's sword, which spoke, begging them not to give him to Orcus. After some further discussion (Powerful magic sword! Talking!) they decided that they should probably keep the sword instead.
However, when they revived Kalth, Sarahlia informed the thri-kreen that they had, in fact, given the sword to Orcus. (Her reasoning, later, was that clearly the bug wasn't being rational about this, and that if it discovered the sword was still around it might do something really crazy.)
Kalth immediately left through the portal, wanting nothing to do with a party that had clearly joined forces with evil, and relayed the situation to Elytra. Concerned about the fall of their former party members, they retreated to the roof of the portal building to rest and work out a plan of action. (Just two adventurers! In a city full of undead and drow! No real way to leave!)
While Kalth and Elytra conferred, Chrip, Sarahlia, and Harthur continued discussing things over with the sword and looting the rest of the temple. They decided that they were absolutely going to keep the sword, and went to leave through the portal. Orcus intervened with one last threat - hand over the sword or suffer his curse.
Sarahlia responded by desecrating a holy symbol of Orcus. Chrip and Harthur decided discretion was the better part of valor and left. A few minutes after they emerged from the portal back into the drow city, it snapped shut... without Sarahlia.
Harthur had fortunately remembered to bring the body of Zirithian with him, as it had been an important part of their plans to enter the Drow temple. Heedless of the threat of undead hearing them, Harthur began calling out to Kalth and Elytra (who remained silent on the roof).
After noticing a bit of movement from the roof which he suspected to be his missing party members, Harthur revealed that they in fact hadn't given the magic sword to Orcus, and continued to try and convince Kalth and Elytra to come down.
Losing patience, Chrip climbed up the roof and spoke to Kalth directly. After learning that Chrip didn't actually know what an exarch was (or why it was a bad idea making bargins with chaotic evil demon princes), Kalth shared with him the numerous religious pamphlets that Kalth had collected.
Finally being convinced that their party members had not sided with evil, Kalth and Elytra came down. However, Kalth will continue to keep an close eye on Harthur and his magic sword.
After a long rest, Our Heroes tried to decide what to do. They could return to Jhaelant with the body of Zirithian, inform him that they'd taken out one of his rivals, and ask if he could teleport them out or at least lend them some kind of healer. They could also offer him the box of fake soul gems in exchange for being teleported out.
They could press on, bluff their way into the temple with Zirithian's body like they planned, and try very hard not to die.
After discussion, Our Heroes decided to press on.
Directly after climbing down from the roof, they ran into a crazy half-elf in patchwork robes, who seemed very concerned that they might be zombies. After convincing her of their alive-ness, the half-elf revealed that she had been part of a group of adventurers sent to investigate the Drow Enclave. Unfortunately, her party members had been taken captive - and then killed by undead. She had a magic candle that let her turn invisible, and that's how she escaped. She'd been wandering the enclave ever since, avoiding the undead.
She claimed to be a wizard and asked to join the group. Since her magic candle didn't look all that magical, and she seemed kinda crazy, and already proven to be not very useful in a fight, Our Heroes left without her. She followed them anyway. The party, mistrustful of strange and harmless seeming strangers in Drow cities after Ro's kidnapping, made her stay at a distance.
Approaching the temple, it became clear the the Drow had managed to deal with the undead still remaining in the city, especially as the portal to Orcus's Domain had closed.
Our Heroes talked their way into the Matron's throne room by claiming to be adventurers, who had just defeated the drow responsible for the undead invasion, and who wanted a reward. As this was 100% true, there was little difficulty getting inside. It turned out that the Vampire Lord was the priestess of Orcus we had heard about. The Matron was pretty pleased to see her and Zirithian dead.
The difficulty began when the Matron stubbornly failed to get within stabbing range, and asked what we wanted as a reward. Kalth asked for information about Theriana, and mentioned that the group was to trade Soul Gems in exchange for someone. The Matron instead offered to take the gems and make the trade for us. When she was refused, she offered to let us stay while she contacted Theriana and asked her to come.
Kalth thought that both of these ideas were terrible ones, but seemed to have been voted chief negotiator for the group. Finally, Kalth agreed to hand over the Soul Gems in the hopes that the Matron would come down off her very high pillar to get them. Alas, she had one of her guards bring them up instead.
Fortunately, Kalth, expecting a Drow double-cross at any moment, was unsurprised when the Matron's 'reward' turned out to be 'guards, kill them all'.
- Battle began with Kalth halfway up the pillar, having teleported most of the way up and rapidly climbing the rest of the way
- At the top of the pillar were the Drow Matron, one of her guards, and spiders that weakened people.
- At the bottom of the pillar were the rest of Our Heroes + the crazy wizard, the remaining guard, and a horrible twisted monstrosity of a Drow.
- The Drow Matron was promptly magicked off the edge of the pillar, plummeting 50 feet down and landing hard. The party gathered around her to finish her off, and Elytra used her Mindspike to knock her out. It went much better this time.
- The decorative statue turned out to be not so decorative, and came to life, shooting poison at people. The crazy half-elf the party picked up turned out to be somewhat useful and vanished the statue.
- Everyone and their brother came charging through the doors to rescue their Matron.
- Kalth jumped down from the pillar as the battle had suddenly changed, but had been weakened by the spiders so was mostly ineffectual.
Things looked pretty bad, as there were lots of enemies everywhere pummeling everyone - especially the crazy wizard and the squirrel, who had tried to hang back and thus were right next to the doors when they opened. Our Heroes had taken out the Matron and were trying to focus on the Drow Abomination since it was pretty nasty, but there were just too many enemies, and they were spread thin. And the statue had managed to come back from whatever pocket dimension it had been banished to, and attacks just bounced off it.
But then, Kalth managed to shake off the poison. Most of the enemies had been ignoring the thri-kreen, as it was out of the way by the pillar and not doing a terribly good job of damaging anyone. All of that changed, as Kalth blasted through the room, claws and rocks flying, and slew half of the enemies remaining. The tide of the battle turned, and the rest of the foes fell swiftly.
Fun fact - if you walk through a Drow city carrying the head of their Matron onna stick, all the drow who see you will leave you alone.
Returning to Jhaelant, he informed Our Heroes that Theriana had gone to the Fire Giant King Snurre, and gave them directions to his halls. Our Heroes set off to find him and Theriana.
While traveling to the Fire Giant King, the party encountered a group of Svirfneblin merchants returning home. Our Heroes took this opportunity to buy equipment, restock supplies, and sell miscellaneous loot that they had picked up over the course of their adventure.
Moving on, they finally met the doors to the Fire Giant King's halls. They were firmly closed, guarded by a pair of stone pillars, and clearly a horrible trap.
Suspicious of the pillars, Our Heroes attempted to smash one into pieces. They were entirely unsurprised when it came to life and attempted to return the favor. After a brief battle, the pillar was destroyed. There was some discussion if the second pillar should be destroyed, but it was decided that probably each pillar was protecting one half of the double doors, so opening just one door should be safe. It wasn't.
The second pillar immediately came to life and attacked. Through the doors were a pair of animated Fire Giant skeletons, a mind-controlling Drow on a ledge, a river of lava, and fire naga with whips. Fortunately, in the following battle, almost no one was mind controlled and no one went into the lava (yay!).
Investigating the cavern further, Our Heroes encountered Theriana! (and some fire giants) at the top of a staircase. She expressed some surprise meeting Our Heroes in such a location. She also had Myra with her. Our Heroes immediately attempted to make the trade - the soul gems (fake) for Myra.
This was hampered slightly by neither side trusting the other in the slightest - Theriana didn't trust Our Heroes because they had already double-crossed her once, and Our Heroes didn't trust Theriana because she's Theriana.
During negotiations, in which Kalth somehow once again became the chief negotiatior, Our Heroes revealed how they had repelled an Orcus Invasion on the drow enclave. This surprised Theriana - either because she wasn't expecting an Orcus Invasion, she wasn't expecting Our Heroes to defend a drow enclave, or both. Our Heroes carefully did not reveal how they had also taken out the matron of the enclave.
After some discussion from the opposite ends of their staircase, it was agreed that the squirrel would carry the soul gems to the top of the stairs (with Kalth right behind him in case of treachery) to where Theriana and a Fire Giant holding Myra waited. There they would trade the soul gems for Myra, and bring her back down the stairs. Then Our Heroes intended to flee at top speed with Myra before Theriana realized the soul gems were fake.
At the top, Theriana examined the soul gems carefully. Fortunately, the disguise was strong enough to fool her. Unfortunately, she double-crossed Our Heroes anyway - immediately after confirming the gems, she informed the Fire Giants that Myra was 'no longer under her protection' and teleported away. The Fire Giants promptly sucked Myra into a giant fire crystal. At the very same time, the staircase burst into flame.
Our Heroes had noticed the giant fire crystal earlier, set back slightly from the top of the stairs, but paid it no mind as it did not appear to be an active menace. Unfortunately, it appeared to be extremely uncomfortable for anyone trapped inside, and Our Heroes weren't certain how the Fire Giants had managed to activate in the first place - nor what it would do if anyone else got too close.
However, battle ensued, hampered slightly by the fact that the majority of the party was at the bottom of an inferno-filled staircase. Braving the flames, the rest of the party charged to the top, while Kalth frantically tried to keep the Fire Giants away from the squirrel. The wizard, upon reaching the top, handily took care of a contingent of drow raining crossbow bolts down from above, while the dragon-bear and Harthur occupied the remaining Fire Giants.
Our Heroes had to swiftly switch their attention from beating back the Fire Giants to freeing Myra from the fire crystal when she collapsed. Working quickly, Chrip managed to trigger the crystal into ejecting her, and the wizard stabilized her with magic.
In one last effort before they were slain, the Fire Giants sucked Chrip into the fire crystal. Fortunately the squirrel managed to free himself before taking any injury, and the battle was won.
Our Heroes quickly retreated with Myra to a safe location, in case Theriana discovered the soul gems were fake and returned. There, they worked out a cunning if convoluted plan to return to Silverstone.
Kayleth had the Reverse Portal ritual, which opens a portal from There to Here (not useful if you are Here and want to go There). Myra didn't have her ritual book anymore, but she had her wedding ring which allowed her to teleport back to Trine Academy. Our Heroes decided that Myra would teleport back, and have 20 minutes to locate a wizard with the standard Linked Portal ritual. At the end of the 20 minutes, Kayleth would cast Reverse Portal, and the wizard with Linked Portal would step through, then cast Linked Portal, allowing the entire group to return to the Academy.
However, when the party cast Reverse Portal and caught a glimpse of the Academy, they saw bodies and signs of battle. Fortunately, Myra had located a mage (injured) who could cast Linked Portal, who was waiting. Once through, he relayed the story to Our Heroes.
It seemed that shortly before Myra returned, Theriana had teleported in, using Priam's ring! (Priam had been last seen heading to the mountains in the north with other members of the Brightstone Heroes, to try and find Theriana and Myra. Seems it was indeed a horrible trap.)
The wizard Myra sent through to the players was tasked with setting up a teleportation circle so a search party could come through and look for Priam. Our Heroes were offered the chance to stay and search, or go through and help Myra. As Our Heroes did not believe Priam to be anywhere near where they were, they elected to return to Trine Academy and help defend it from Theriana.
- Killed some dudes released from the Pyramid of Shadows to delay people trying to get to Theriana
- Failed to stop Theriana, but the gems at the Academy were fakes planted by Leardon
The Ziggurat and the Dragon
- Elytra invited to join Topaz Crusaders, party sent via Orantis to Estorium to deal with Far Realm stuffs
- Far Realm stuffs dealt with, timey-wimey hourglass acquired
- Orantis went crazy and killed the crusaders!
- Went to Orantis's demi-plane lair, rescued Macaebus, learned that Orantis had been infected with an aberrant parasite that slowly drove him mad, killed him, stopped the plane from collapsing, and now it's Kayleth's plane.
- Escorting wizard and gems to Estorium to try and study them nearer to the portal, attacked by demons!
- Brought wizard to Terastra, got attacked by Ebon Rider mercenaries. Fought off demonic assault by destroying an Aspect of Orcus.
- Followed Ebon Riders to their base in an old temple of Boccob. Shut down their abyssal portal, took their leader's soul weapon (he fled), got their lich's phylactery.
- Took the phylactery to Mithrendain to get it destroyed. Stopped an attempt by Querelian to take over the city.
- Returned to Terastra, the drow attacked to try and kill the wizard!
- Took the wizard to a "safehouse" in some ruins, ran into orium dragon Zanathakla.
- Entered Zanathakla's service checking ruins for stuff, found an old temple of Wee Jas. Refugees from the Illithid War became vampires somehow. Found Gryff, but it wasn't Gryff, just an aberration pretending to be Gryff. Tricked it, then killed it. Left a note.
- Harthur falls into the Abyss. Scrying confirms he's dead.
- Caravan to Rathna to set up a new base. Killed an astral kraken, TPK'd to beholders.
- Opened portal, the army came through!
- Grayson joined. Fought Tephra and corrupted Gryff; Nalindra unleashed divine wrath and killed everything.
Pyramid of Shadows
- Vyrellis showed up and explained stuff.
- Get trapped in the Pyramid of Shadows in order to rescue people and get it away from Theriana.
- Eaters of Knowledge, Grayson's other eye turns green.
- Found Ro leading arboreans.
- Found Priam getting mind-drained by a Far Realm anomaly
- Found Gurrard taken prisoner by a necromancer
- Vyrellis appears within the Pyramid and escorts everyone to the top to cast a spell to escape
- Attacked by the spirit of Karavakos, betrayed by Grayson
- Grayson killed with a lightning dagger to the chest by Gurrard, Karavakos destroyed, everyone free but drained
- Vyrellis takes the Pyramid, gives arcane instructions on closing the Far Realm portal, leaves to consolidate her empire
- Ro goes to find a place of her own with her arboreans
- Reunion at Rathna!
The Iron Crags
- Go to the Iron Skull barbarians, led by Torgar, to recruit them
- Torgar dead in a frost giant attack, now led by Elytra's sister Alae
- Sisters brawl to test each others' strength, Alae wins
- Alae agrees to help if they get Torgar's axe back from the frost giants
- Find dying silver dragon, asks them to save her children
- Enter frost giant lair, find emissaries from the Prince of Frost, turn them to Chrip's side
- Disguise as eladrin and walk through, make deal with Vaald to kill Jarl Grugnur for him
- Raise an alarm as eladrin, kill Grugnur
- Find injured silver dragon Kairothrax, save him and portal out with the axe
- Barbarians rally to Alae and head to Estorium
- Kairothrax decides to fight with Elytra for a time
The Winter Court
- Time for Chrip to beat the Prince of Frost!
- Summer Queen hesitant to get involved unless the Prince of Frost can be shown to be a serious threat; alliance with frost giants concerning but not proof.
- Divination reveals he intended to use the giants to awaken the primordial Cryonax
- Summer Queen attacks Fortress of Frozen Tears, accompanied by Chrip's allies, Challengers sneak in through secret underground passage
- Kill Prince's daughter, Koliada
- Find magically preserved body of the Queen of Winter in a glass case
- Make more friends
- Chrip disguises as Koliada, sends friends to free prisoner, goes to find the Prince
- "Koliada" demands her father step down, kills him
- Chrip becomes Prince of Frost
- Meteorite from Limbo crashes through the planar wall, leaving a rift.
- Fight slaadi, channel planar energy into the rift
- Enormous abomination of darkness emerges, starts killing everything
- Planar energy from the meteorite channeled into it, destroys it
- Something stabilizing the rift, preventing it from closing.
- The heroes thought they had fallen out of time for three years and that the world had ended in Tephra's victory.
- Turns out they were in a layer of the Abyss called the Barrens, ruled by the demon lord Oublivae.
- They defeated her and returned to the Material Plane, where the rift closed, but Kayleth was lost in the Abyss
- Located the Scythe of Nerull hidden in a nearby ruin, as Orcus had entered the world through the planar rift and was looking for it.
- Zohar, angel of Moradin, shows up to help, brings the sword of Corellon for the ritual to seal the portal.
- Forbiddance zone for miles around the portal prevents teleportation. Fly in, fight aberrant copies of angels and a living sphere of annihilation.
- Defeat an aberrant avatar of Nerull and recover Lifecutter.
- Orcus challenges them as they leave, dispels forbiddance, tries to summon Doresain, Harthur shows up instead.
- Harthur kills Orcus, Nightbringer becomes the new demon prince of undeath. Harthur returns with him to the Abyss, heroes take Farbane with them.
Stuff happened, victory!