An awfully tough battle in the common room of the inn concludes with the one remaining ogre disappearing from the fight and making his escape. In the bloody aftermath, the bar is on fire and Sigfried and Jeric both waver as in a trance. Santos comes over to steady the Ranger while Taran lightly shakes Jeric asking him if he’s okay, snapping him out of it. Jeric answers that he was having a vision where he was speaking with his dead father, but that it’s not important right now. Sigfried, sweating profusely, is not at all forthcoming about his trance.
Traavor uses a spell to end further threat of the fire while Taran pays restitution to a pretty pissed off innkeeper. As the heroes make for the exit, Ferim enters the inn. He knows where Sebastian Falconcrest is! Ferim explains that he’s been spotted at a warehouse near the floater factory. Falconcrest’s dealing with a shipment of goods and he only has two of his men with him. It seems a better chance to meet Falconcrest and get answers on their own terms there will not be.
Santos does his best to heal the group’s wounds as they make haste for the seedier parts of the city. After a long discussion about the best way to approach the warehouse, the group decides to climb to the roof of the adjacent building to get a better look. Looking across the way, Sigfried can clearly see that surrounded by many large boxes is a tall elf matching Falconcrest’s description. He’s in a heated discussion with two humans.
While the party is still debating how to get the drop on Falconcrest, it is Traavor that comes up with the best idea. The gnome casts wood shape. Everyone watches as the wood from the roof becomes malleable and magically extends across to the top of the other building, creating an impressive bridge.
A light rain turns into a heavy thunderstorm as the party makes their way across to the warehouse.
Sigfried finds a window that will make the perfect entry point as it provides cover from the boxes in front of it. There is no way to open the window from the outside, however, so Jeric dimension hops and opens it from the inside. Using the cover of the boxes along with the sounds of the rain and thunder, the party is able to climb inside. That is, except for Santos and Darious who are too cumbersome to quietly fit through. Santos volunteers to stay behind and keep lookout. Jeric, realizing the importance of having him with them for this crucial meeting, surprises the Cleric by wordlessly reaching through the window and teleporting him inside.
Inside and behind cover, the Heroes plan to use the element of surprise to take out the two humans and confront Falconcrest at the opposite end of the warehouse. A kind of scratching noise can be heard coming from the boxes but the group takes little notice of it during their battle preparation. The Druid wild shapes into a large brown bear while the Cleric summons three black bears and holds them at the ready. Finally it’s time, (“Release the bears!”) and all four bears charge to the other end of the warehouse. But…
“Took you long enough,” says Falconcrest with a wry smile as the bears approach. The two human guards grow and transform into towering werewolves. The boxes scattered throughout the warehouse magically disappear revealing almost thirty armed henchmen.
The bears stop in their tracks and Sebastian calls for the rest of the party to join him in a “civil” discussion.
Sebastian starts things off by inviting Gyliam to come out of the shadows. Revealed now as a traitor, the Darkbringer comes face-to-face with Sigfried and says, “You do not deserve the sword.” Gyliam extends his hands to accept Redemption from him. Without breaking eye contact, with a face as stone, the Ranger unsheathes the blade from his back to hand it over…and with one lightning-quick movement cuts Gyliam in half from shoulder to waist. Sigfried re-sheathes his sword as the Darkbringer crumples to the ground in pieces. Falconcrest simply raises an eyebrow at this and says, “Now, let’s get down to business.”
The Underworld Gentleman requests a later-to-be-named favor which will serve to wipe the slate clean for the Heroes killing his men in the streets. He indicates this favor will oppose the Valencian Council of Elders. The party agrees to Falconcrest’s terms. Thunder rolls in the background as Santos shakes the Crime Lord’s hand, sealing the deal.
Falconcrest tells the group the search for Ruger should start with a woman named Madolyne Elias, a wizard whose company Ruger favors. He states getting an audience with her in the Dome of Heavens at this time of night would be seemingly impossible, however the sentry on duty safeguarding access to her has a weakness for spirits. Falconcrest also mentions some answers can be found by seeking out Head Peacekeeper Garret Barnes. He flips Jeric a key and says it will open the door to the Peacekeeper armory. The heroes humbly retreat from the warehouse and make their way to the Dome of Heavens.
An exquisite bottle of spirits and 700 gold pieces later, the Heroes meet with Madolyn Elias in her chambers. A gracefully aged and seemingly genuine woman, she welcomes them and indulges the group’s questions about Ruger. Although she won’t say how it came into her possession, she hands over a letter (supposedly) from Eleak Dragonsbane. It seems authentic as it includes his official seal. The letter, inferred to be about Ruger, reads, “I must remove the thorn in my side. We must act quickly. Meet me at Brewington’s on the full moon.” She then shares her own theory that Ruger and Orcslayer are in the catacombs below the Dome of Heavens, a little known area accessible only to the Lord Senator. (Something else happens here but the Scribe botches his spot check and has no idea what he is supposed to type.) The meeting comes to an uncomfortable conclusion when the Ranger asks about an injury on Elias’ arm, offending her.
The group heads to Brewington’s via the Essence Rail. Upon exiting, a challenge rings out in the air. The dwarven samurai, backed by his entourage, has returned and he won’t leave until either he or Taran is dead. Taran obliges and the duel begins. Whether it’s because he’s in a rush or because it’s a battle of Samurai honor, Taran is simply masterful. After the first few precise and powerful strikes, it’s obvious the dwarf is embarrassingly outmatched. Taran gets the dwarf on his knees, a katana up against each side of his neck and offers to provide an honorable death. Pleas for mercy from the other samurai and (even some of Taran’s own companions) are about to fall on deaf ears until Santos steps forward and wills Taran to stand down. The Cleric heals the dwarf before he bleeds to death. The dwarf slowly rises to his feet, he takes two wobbly steps towards Taran and slumps to his knees again. There, he draws his katana and offers it up to the victor. Taran accepts the blade effectively ending the duel.
They continue on and arrive at Brewington’s, an old and run down potion shop. Walking through the door, there is an appalling smell of death. Upon a search of the shop the Ranger and Druid find a hidden door from where the horrid smell is emanating. The group enters the hidden room and it’s like walking into a nightmare. The walls are caked with gore and bloody pentagrams. There is a charred body of a small child on an altar in the corner of the room. It’s pretty obvious what gruesome act has taken place and the overturned furniture suggests that someone left in a hurry. Jeric picks up a purple cultist robe like the others they’ve seen and Traavor finds a broken Peacekeeper staff.
Sigfried abruptly pauses in his search. He states he feels a presence “between the planes” and in the very next moment a loud cry of “Mommy” spooks everyone. Moving quickly, Santos consecrates the altar and the Druid uses a spell to start purging the symbols from the walls; working to cleanse the room of its evil aura. “Mommy” again echoes throughout the room, seemingly to come from everywhere, and then a ghost of a young boy appears. The ghost himself doesn’t seem evil or threatening. He says his name is Kaiden Wyvenshire and he is looking for his mother. The heroes wrap up the body to take it away from the horrid room making a promise to the ghost to find his mother. The last items picked up on their way out is a parchment with strange runes along with another parchment with a list of names. All of them are crossed off including Ruger and Orclsayer. Madolyn Elias is the lone remaining name on it that is not crossed off.
The group makes their way through a crowd of distressed citizens to find Garret Barnes at the headquarters of the Peacekeepers. He solemnly accepts the body however he won’t share info on how to find the mother – he states it’s a Peacekeeper matter. Barnes also confirms Ruger did meet with Madelyn Elias often. The exchange of information continues as the Heroes hand over the broken Peacekeeper staff found at Brewington’s. They get a look at the official Crime Scene Report. They read in the report that Ruger and Crolin were last seen outside Evocations Cafe in one of the more affluent parts of the city. Detective Praetor (relative of the famous Vynss Praetor) discerned powerful conjuration magic was used just prior to their disappearance in that area. Jeric tells the group that teleport spells would fall under conjuration magic.
Running out of options, the Heroes think they may finally get some answers down in the catacombs below the Dome of Heavens. Peacekeeper uniforms might prove helpful at some point so the Ranger leaves the rest of the group in a bathroom while he stealthily (and successfully) procures uniforms from the armory.
Walking along the exterior of the Dome of Heavens, the Heroes scout for…something. In a mostly deserted area, the group finds a sole Peacekeeper seemingly guarding nothing. Thinking that there might be something worthwhile here, the Heroes move out of sight and huddle up. Reviewing their inventory, Jeric discovers the symbols on the parchment found at Brewington’s look like entrance runes that would be used for a magical door. The decision is made they will approach the guard with Dragonbane’s letter, the parchment of runes and the Divine Augmentor and …and that didn’t work. Huddling up again, plan B is for someone to dress as a Peacekeeper and try to relieve the guard of his post. The rest of the group hides and watches “Peacekeeper” Sigfried (hah!) approach and converse with the guard. One tense minute of conversation later and the guard leaves.
When the rest of the party joins Sigfried on the scene they find runes on the wall of the Dome. Guided by the parchment, they are able to activate the runes in the correct sequence, opening a hidden door. Now in a hallway, the group makes their way carefully and quietly to the three doors at the other end. After listening and checking the doors for traps they enter the right door first and step into a room. The room is filled with runes and in the center sits a young boy
bald and with a blue arrow on his head who is imprisoned in what looks like a giant gem. When questioned, he says simply he is the Avatar “Oracle” and that the wizards brought him here long ago. The imprisoned boy offers the party a choice: he can grant an answer to any question the party could possibly ask or they can free him. There was never any debate. The boy explains the group just needs to have a man pure of heart strike the cage. Moments later, Santos wordlessly steps forward and takes a wide swing with his mace, shattering the crystal cage. The boy looks up and whispers a thank you as his physical form fades. Without much time to ponder any of this, the group exits the room.
The sounds of machinery can be heard in the distance beyond the left door and this is the room they enter next. In the middle of the room is a small, floating black orb. It emanates immense power. The Cleric says the item is a Sphere of Annihilation. After describing what it does, the group decides to leave this powerful, but unusable, item alone and exits the room.
The group enters the last remaining door where they see Ruger and Crolin Orcslayer in the back corners of the room. Ruger appears trapped inanimately in dark energy prison. Crolin, chained to a pillar by his neck, seems held in the thrall of an ornate globe set at his feet. Finally, the means to save Wyldshire, right in front of them! That… and a massive hulking demon!
Santos is the first to approach the creature. He is assaulted by black miasma forced down his throat, taking heavy damage. Sigfried steps past the Cleric (“Out of the way, faggot.”) wielding Redemption and connects with an ultimate strike, seriously hurting the demon. Jeric moves in to attempt to flank the creature but his stomach betrays him and he has to move away. The room fills with magic as Traavor casts call lighting to no effect while Santos casts holy storm. Jeric, too sick to wield his weapon or cast spells, slowly makes his way towards Crolin Orcslayer. The demon teleports out of the storm and summons six smaller demons to the fray. Taran tightens his grip on his swords and…