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Episode Sixty-five - Temple of Moloch

General Summary

Evereska, 1479DR

A cleric of a fledgling order found herself praying at her temple, praying about her desire for adventure. She found her mind drifting as she prayed at the temple's altar. She pictured herself outside of her own flesh, looking down from above. The silken coverings bore fleeting candles before her as her armor stood in stark contrast to the white hall surrounding her. She seemed small next to the monolithic pillars carved out of the purest marble, she seemed small but knew that she was indeed powerful. Her divine blessings had closed wounds and cast light into darkness. She was revered among the laypeople that had come to worship the new ways at the temple. Pulling back from herself, she witnessed the pantheon in the tapestries. Zeus, Hera, Athena, Apollo, Poseidon, Ares, they all posed in grand stroke upon visual odysseys woven into the fabrics. Their deeds she knew well but she'd always found comfort in the wife of one of their own. Her mind drifted to the tale of Epione and she recounted a story in her mind and the deity's teachings. Married to Asclepius, son of Apollo, she dreamed of the goddess' life, her soothing, the care she gave to those in recovery, and then the cleric restored herself to her body once more.   Through her own eyes she then saw a light gleaming from behind the altar and then stood to witness a bright figure. The light engulfed her and then faded as the sun beamed off of a fair maiden's white cloak and dress.   There was both a truth and sadness in the lady's eyes as she looked upon the cleric and declared, "Annabelle, my Chosen One, you must bear the torch for me by my mother's hand. For your gifts I have asked nothing, as you have given your devotion; low now I ask you thus, allow my mother Klothys to send you into the past to aid her master. Meet well the Champions of Destiny and fight at their side in a war for all things. Their quest will determine the fate of all reality and I know that with you at their side they will recover from grievous wounds. If you heed my call, I will channel all that I can to you and as your strength grows you will accept my blessings but for now, I offer a pet that will extend your healing hand. Care for it well and it will serve you mightily in battle, in its future."   "Do you accept my holy quest Annabelle?"   "Yes," she responded.   Then, a light overcame the cleric and in a flash she left the marble hall. In another moment she was stood once more on solid ground and she felt as if her stomach had been pulled into her throat. Neigh on the edge of vomiting, she stood to witness a domed dungeon room before her and she heard the shouts of a charge from either ear. A stairwell crawled up ahead and a long passage ran deep behind her. As the heat of adrenaline rushed into her veins, Arion charged into her view from the left.  

Part One

Arion charged the oncoming Lizardfolk as the battle began, he moved swiftly and blocked their two-headed crocodile as a spider dropped from the domed roof behind him. Thorum then rushed up but stopped as he witnessed Annabelle standing in the hall to his south. As they locked eyes, Aldrich surged forth and swiped a leg off of the spider with his axe, Giant Slayer. Varis deployed his cannon and had it climb onto Arion as Thorum and Aldrich wondered aloud if Annabelle would attack them.   As Calaeriel moved into position to unleash her signature Fireball, Arion cut down a lizardfolk that jumped the crocodile as javelins soared by overhead. A hammering then battered the door they'd exited, likely the Thessalhydra, as Calaeriel's Fireball then roared. Two of the lizards were burned to ash as many were charred and in retort Calaeriel was forced to dodge many javelins. Arion then separated the two heads of the crocodile from its body as Aldrich and Thorum battled the spider behind him. Varis then burned four Lizardfolk with his cannon device on Arion's shoulder, killing three of them, before he drew his arcane firearm and killed the last for daring to resist. Making assumptions, Annabelle then pulled forth her holy symbol and cast a Sacred Flame at the spider but it rebuked the attack into the ground. Then, the Thessalhydra burst the door behind the fight and ate Calaeriel's familiar, spot.   As Calaeriel tried to hold back the beast, with fire, the fight raged on. Finally, Thorum pierced the spider with his pike and continued to do so many more times as Aldrich peeled away to fight the Thessalhydra. The entire party then turned their attention to the beast as the Lizardfolk fell away. It snapped at them but Aldrich, then Calaeriel, then Aldrich again twice, cut off its heads. Alas, Varis lifted his firearm and blasted cold death down the beast's maw and it fell, rolling backward into the underground lake.   The Champions of Destiny and company then met well, Annabelle Faeven. She told them that she was sent by her god to assist them. She told them that she was from Evereska, as all Arion could do was poke the Thessalhydra with the point of his sword a few times, disappointed he didn't get a chance to stab it before it died.   When they all set off, Arion offered his usual grim tale to newcomers. He warned Annabelle that only death befell his company and suggested that she keep her pet close or lose it. Aldrich and Thorum greeted the Genasi as Calaeriel suggested to the newcomer that Arion was exaggerating his company's curse.   Following a blood trail they found more Lizardfolk. Arion intimidated them in to locking their numerous numbers away, with the aid of one among then named Rolok. Further on they encountered a torturer named Andras, whom had an owl's head, from which they saved two thieves, Mack Francache and Big Gadai. Further yet, they encountered a prison hall.   The long hallway lead past six cell doors, alternating three on each side. Five of the doors were constructed from iron bars, with the exception of what appeared to be a glass door at the end. After speaking with Stolos, an owl-bodied warden at the end of the hall, the party freed whom they were told were the real thieves of Mack's company, given that there were two clones, and a man named Yzarack. The thieves and the man, whom claimed to have gotten captured while exploring the area, were sent to the surface to wait for the party. They were given to days rations by Arion, told to collect Lizardfolk weapons, and sent out.   Pressing on, the party turned a corner and found an owl enclosure; keeping them was a man named Barbatos. Barbatos offered to take them to Thessalar for a trade deal. He took them into a massive L-shaped laboratory space that was filled with creatures strapped down to tables or chained to the floor, all attended to by Lizardfolk workers. In the north wing of the lab, two tables held terrified-looking fish-folk of some kind, connected by silver wires to other tables holding stoic-looking Lizardfolk. More silver wires connected the tables to a complex control panel, in which rested a large green crystal. As they walk a little ways behind Barabatos and he cursed a Lizardfolk for not moving out of his way; they discussed the crystal and their need for it. As they closed in on their host, they saw the west wing of the lab. Two owlbears were chained to the floor there, connected by silver wires to a third creature in a tube that appeared to be a two-headed owlbear. More silver wire connected their restraints to a complex control panel with another crystal in it.   They then turned to a door and through it they found a lab with amazing instruments of complex design and they filled the area, all seemingly engaged in active experimentation. Facing away from doorway was a wooden desk, its legs resembled four small dryads whose outstretched hands were clasped together to support a desktop littered with thick tomes, alchemical vessels, and a complex control panel holding three of the same large green crystals. An ancient male human sat behind the desk, with a homunculus perched on his shoulder.   "More of Moghadam’s mercenaries, I presume?" the figure asked wearily. "I still haven’t disposed of the last poor souls the so-called master of the tomb sent here."   The homunculus then pulled the alchemist’s face into an expression of wry contempt as a long trade negotiation began. Thessalar was pleasant, though he declared he was no mere Acererak or Vecna, and he offered to trade for the crystals but the party, under Arion leadership, decided to take the crystals instead; wanting them all, instead of the fifteen or so Thessalar told them was in the underground lake below. He had told them that he couldn't get those because his Thessalkraken was also in the lake.   Once the party gathered the three crystals, they left the lab, with Thessalar, Barbatos, and Sadie III the hellhound, left within. Then Arion spoke to the Lizardfolk workers and told them that he didn't want to hurt them, that he just wanted take crystals. One among them flirted with Arion then Calaeriel, a scientist, and it was she that agreed to allow them to gather what they wanted. Varis grabbed the crystals with Mage Hand and then he and Annabelle took it upon themselves to free two of the captives. They freed the fish folk, and as they walked off toward the dungeon's exit singing, Calaeriel remarked that she'd seen just about everything; which Arion declared was a curse.   The party then ventured into what Varis suggest was Thessalar's office and Calaeriel became consumed by a vial of blood. Needing blood, she went back out the question the Lizardfolk about the blood, having already learned that Thessalar's was wrapped up in magic, as Arion and Aldrich headed into next room and found some sleeping Lizardfolk guards. Back in the lab, Calaeriel asked a few questions, got her answers, and then got curious about how her vampire charm worked. She then tried to charm the female, Lizardfolk scientist but, being and expert in animal charm, the scientist recognized the attempt and called for help.   The shout echoed through the area and the hulking guard before Arion reached for his blade. Arion cut the lizard as the horde of workers descended upon Calaeriel. Calaeriel turned into a mist, Thorum cleaved a guard's soul with a charge of Hell Rend, Annabelle slung a divine spell, Aldrich charged into another guard, and Varis directed Archimedes to use Shocking Grasp and exploded a worker. The fight was on and it carried on but it got worse when the Lizardfolk on the table were freed and they opened Thessalar's door. Having told Thessalar about the vampire, he placed her into an inescapable magic bubble. The fight then truly reached the lab as Aldrich was surrounded and Arion sailed around the frontline, bound for the Artificer. As Aldrich's horde, which had been battering his shield and armor, was defeated by his friends, he struck out and deeply wounded Barbatos but his axe, Giant Slayer, shattered in his hand. Next to fall was Aldrich's handaxe, then Thorum's metal pike, then Thorum's armor, and then Varis as Thessalar blighted him.   Seeing the fallen Artificer beneath him and wanting to win his master's approval, Barbatos then stomped out and snapped Varis' neck. The crack could have shattered the room, over the sound of Thorum's mournful wail for his pike and armor, over the silence for Aldrich's disbelief for his axe, there was only the sound of Varis's death. Horrid, fatal, and unknown to his friends, Varis's death was final.  

The Last Walk

Death, in and of itself, was nothing for Varis; he had feared it, he didn't know what it would be like, he didn't know where it would take him, but as he argued with himself about opening his eyes and learning what death meant, he got a familiar feeling, the urge to know. It was always the foundation for what he was, learning, and he would learn that death was just a release from the impressions of the senses and from the desires that made him a puppet to the world and a slave to the vagaries of his mind. A few moments beyond his dead, Varis knew he was free to learn as he learned that he was free from the hard service of the flesh. In his freedom, he decided to learn what death was.   Varis, heard footsteps approach as the battle all around him halted. He finally opened his eyes and saw a young lady, perky but mournful the closer she grew, dressed in all black. At his side, she looked down to him and offered a hand up.   When he accepted, she spoke softly, "it is time Varis. My brother Destiny has read from the book. He knows this is your end. You will not see Purgatory and return. The gods of your world call you to the Fugue Plane. Walk with me."   The walk was somber, he knew he was destined for his finality. His mind danced like all the stars in the heaves. Of all the stars and all the worlds around them that he ever wanted to visit, Varis saw only one. He saw blood and toil on that world and in the end he was taken entirely to early. Every man dies, not every man lives the full life he wants and for Varis that was true.   He concerned himself one last time, with life. Like coming to the end of a long novel he looked back and wondered if his life was just a pebble cast into the sea. If he, at his death, was only proven by a few circles in the water as ever having been and even then he wondered how quickly they would disappear. He wondered if when they were gone, he'd be forgotten, without a trace, as if he'd never even existed.   His walk then faded into a new place, a grey and endless void, and as he walked he saw the lady fall behind with a mournful smile. She shed a tear for him, the servant of her brother, as he approached the City of Judgement. As a crystal spire reigned above him; he saw, sat upon the steps, a man reading a long scroll that ran off forever.   As he approached, the man stood and smiled, "Tír na nÓg and my House of Knowledge await you brilliant one. We have much to discuss, many things to ponder. Together we will revel in understanding and soon I would hope that you may come to consider serving me as one of my angels but for now, I want you to rest your heart. For in my land you will only know a love and thirst for knowledge and a happiness in the pursuit of science. Cry with me as we walk, to a happy afterlife my friend."   Long after the last mortal chapter of Varis Irithyl, blood descendent of the "Old Soldier" Ivasaar Irithyl and Elf of Myth Drannor no longer; Varis would go on to become an angel of Oghma. He would serve as a Word Archon and speak only pure knowledge into the Feywild for his god, ever onward.  

Part Two

Sol had fallen asleep while working. His dreams had drifted to a scene where upon he dropped a balor into an abyss deep below but he awoke to see a crack of transmutation magic before him. Peering forth from the crack he saw a much older version of himself. His eyes looked tired but his body looked strong.   He cried out as an explosion reverberated throughout the room, "you have to listen to me, I made it to the Necropolis of Ythryn. I broke the staff; I destroyed time again. You have to stop me! He always fails. You have to do it right this time! Help the Champions of Destiny, its the only way we all survive."   Sol's thoughts blackened as a well of transmutation magic burst within him; then, he found himself face to face with an old man in a hazy dream. The old man's cloak and sword were his most obvious features as he stared at Sol, angrily.   He growled, "I spent my late years chasing you down and you still broke the staff you son of a bitch."   Looking around the darkness all about him, the old man took a moment and then burst forth and charged right up to Sol. He grabbed his neck and screamed, "I'll kill you."   Sol gagged and his eyes opened wide as he was then cast through a heavy wooden door. He rolled across his back and flipped over his head and onto his stomach. After he slid to a stop, he laid there for just a moment before the crack of something distant alerted him. As he lifted his head, he found himself in a room with three dead lizardfolk and sounds of battle coming from his left.   In a room nearby, Arion stepped around the lizardfolk scientist he'd been fighting and ran down Thessalar. Arion then slashed Thessalar's arm, chopped off his hand, and then his arm at the elbow. As the bubble that had been holding Calaeriel dropped as Thessalar's concentration broke, Arion began a chase through a monster's as Thessalar cast spells at him.   Meanwhile, Sol ran up to Calaeriel as she drank Thessalar's blood in a vial and transformed into a lizardfolk male. Before her Annabelle, Aldrich, and Thorum charged the lizardfolk that remained but it was was Annabelle's Sacred Flame that brought it down. At peace for a moment, they got a handle on the situation.   They came to understand how Calaeriel became a lizardfolk. They figured out that Sol was from Faerûn and sent into the past to aid the Champions of Destiny. They determined Varis was truly dead and gathered some of his belongings. They also gathered the crystals that he had in his possession.   Eventually, after Arion cut off Thessalar's head and fed the body to a pit monster, he returned and the group pressed on. As they walked toward a lab, Thorum asked a question with anger in his eyes.   He asked, "That armor was forged in kind for me and my six brothers by our father in the fashion of our people's army and now that armor is gone like my brothers. The six of them fell in battle with pikes forged from the steel of Mirabar in their hands. My pike was their kindred and it was the last of my company's, the rest were lost in that battle. Now all the pikes of the Shield Dwarves carried in that battle are gone and I am all that remains of that fight. We stood down the depths, we fought hordes of the Underdark, we were slaughtered to save the surface world and I am all that remains of those that fought. They wanted to hang me for surviving but I was exiled instead and that battle and those dwarves have nary been spoken of since then. With my death, they will be forgotten. I will not die needlessly for this company. What.. happened.. I thought we were leaving? I thought we weren't going to fight?"   After they told him the fight began over Calaeriel attempting to flirt with a lizard, Thorum made his views clear; he would be leaving the company. He vowed to stay with them until the end of the dungeon but he would leave once they returned home, though he would never return home and would indeed die needlessly for the company.   With the young man, Sol Astair, along, they headed into an alchemical lab. The fellow was sporting a shock of messy brown hair, and dark eyes, standing barely above 5 feet and 2 inches in height. His short stature made him appear younger than his true age. he wore tattered, common clothes, favoring shades of blue. He was also distinguished by the enormous blue hat he favored. The hat was a patchy and worn thing with a broad, floppy brim and a tapering point. He wore no apparent armor and bore no weapon beyond a worn staff.   In the lab, Arion, Annabelle, and Aldrich argued how to retrieve the crystal they found attached to a control panel. Then Arion told Sol, after he politely called Sol a thief, to retrieve the crystal. Sol then used telekinesis to press a yellow button on the control panel which made the Crystal fall. Arion then caught the crystal and they all heard gagging from the tanks behind them.   Turning, they looked once more the a chamber which held a half-dozen floor-to-ceiling glass tanks, four of which were filled with a light-blue fluid in which the body of an elderly male human was suspended, the body of Thessalar. Three of the bodies appeared lifeless and inert. The fourth looked toward them and begged silently. Arion asked each member of the company, at that moment, to cast a vote. He was the only member to vote to save Thessalar but Aldrich, then Annabelle, and then Throum voted against the idea. Calaeriel and Sol abstained.   After the Thessalars died, they wondered through a secret hall and read, in an office, that Stolos and Andras were once one person but were split in a failed cloning experiment. They returned, through an open secret door, to the hall where the Lizardfolk fell in battle by the entrance and then went once more to the underground body of water. There, Annabelle offered to jump in and found a skeleton, among many, at the bottom. In its hand she found a and grabs a key and as she took it an ivory tube dislodged. In the tube they found a map that depicted two secret doors and an underground lake, the Layer of the Thessalkraken.   Through a burial room they used a secret door and then learned from a sculptor that they could ask a gentleman named Ard Sagart about more crystals. The then ventured out to a room which, was vaulted chamber at the north end. The room was entirely filled by the temple’s famed statue of Moloch. The impressive figure rose twenty-five feet high, nearly touching the ceiling. Its hands held a massive burning brazier, illuminating the chamber with an eerie flickering glow. The brazier’s fire reflected brightly within the facets of the statue’s massive ruby eyes. Arion mentioned then that, those ruby eyes could buy the armies they needed back in their own time. The company took the time to explore the statue and Sol crawled into its asshole and found three stone tables, upon which rested a cursed sword, a corrupt wand, and a rod that was immovable. He left the items, fearing their power and then got assistance in throwing a rope up and climbing the statue. He had Arion join him and together they examined the eyes. Sol determined that their power was connected to the temple but learned, after he tried to remove the eyes, a power could imbue the statue. It came to live and Sol swung off of it as Arion hacked it with his sword. The sacred statue then walked forth and slammed its fist down upon Thorum and shattered both his legs as it pommuled him into the floor. As brain matter dripped from his head, it slammed its fist down again and tore his shoulder down his body as he gave a death curdling and involuntary grunt. The sacred statue pressed him into the floor, cracking the stone and Thorum was no more.   Aldrich slapped the statue with his whip and the dragon teeth raked it as Calaeriel, the lizardfolk boy, slapped at it with her sword. Sol then tried to push the statue with his mind but failing that he cast Tasha's Hideous Laughter. The statue fell then, heaving, as all but Arion were infecting at destroying it. When it crumbled, its spirit whisked away and frightened Annabelle magically, it passed through a wall and took a new form.   Calaeriel went looking for the statue and found it as Annabelle gathered herself and Arion and Aldrich arrived. Together they considered standing it down but Arion called for the party to run. Annabelle was the first to oblige and Sol took her lead. Aldrich offered to hold it off, trusting his armor and his goddess, as Arion went back to gather Thorum's body and belongings. Calaeriel had agreed to run but decided to turn back and aid Aldrich. As all her friends begged her to leave the frustrated statue, which could not break Aldrich's shield, turned its attention to Calaeriel. There its attention remained as the rest of the party ran, including Aldrich, but she stood to fight. Already weakened, though the lizard form had made her stronger before it was torn away in the battle, she was crushed by an incoming chunk of wall she could not evade. Cast into a mist, she realized that her chests of dirt, that she needed to return, were upon her person in Varis' magical bag.   Running out toward the entrance the company wanted only to flee their situation, but as Arion found the guard he'd threatened, Thessalar, and the Thessalhydra outside, he turned the party around to hide. Eventually they barricaded themselves in the southern most portion of the lab where Thessalar had been conducting his work. There Aldrich offered to charge the horde but the group encouraged otherwise. They rested then and thought on ways to save Calaeriel but eventually their time ran out. They realized that they could time shunt out of the dungeon and readied to make a trap for Thessalar. As they thought on it, the time arrived to say goodbye.   Arion stood, as the mist faded and offered, "you will be remembered."   The mist faded and gave way to marching in the distance. Arion took to action and freed the bears in the cages to the north and then two owlbears in that very lab. As the horde was upon them, they shunted away and through time where the arrived once more in Olostin's Hold, 1497 DR.

Rewards Granted

7427xp 4860xp for

Missions/Quests Completed

Quest of Fate Continued, Subquest Forging Fate Continued, Sidequest Infernal Machine Rebuild Continued

Character(s) interacted with

Thessalar

Notes

Notable Party Damage:

  • Aldrich has a horrible burn scar on the left side of his neck in front of the ear from a azure fire elemental summoned by Seldra Tylmarande. His armor and shield are extremely claw marked from many Lizardfolk.
    Noted Effects: Horrible Scar. You are disfigured to the extent that the wound can't be easily concealed. You have disadvantage on Charisma (Persuasion) checks and advantage on Charisma (Intimidation) checks. Magical healing of 6th level or higher, such as heal and regenerate, removes the scar.
  • Annabelle is pristine.
    Noted Effects: None
  • Arion came from Arda with a scar that won't seem to heal.
    Noted Effects: Minor Scar (Head). The scar doesn't have any adverse effect. Magical healing of 6th level or higher, such as heal and regenerate, removes the scar.
  • Calaeriel is dead.
    Noted Effects: None
  • Sol is pristine.
    Noted Effects: None
  • Varis has a bite mark from a warped Plaguechanged monster on his left shoulder. Is dead.
    Noted Effects: None
Report Date
10 Jan 2021
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