The Nightmare Risen

The Gods Have Gone, Pt. 1
A gathering of giants.

The party arrived at the Grand Church of the Disciples just north of Akanthros Pelannon and were escorted inside by a priest dressed in formal white robes. The church looked disheveled, but only on the outside; upon reaching the bottom of the steps, the group entered a resplendent chamber decorated with the finest carvings and religious artwork, a testament to the devotion of the Disciples of old. The huge chamber was lined with guards along its outer walls and filled to the brim with Disciples, all dressed in the same white as their escort. After a brief, tense interaction with a few of the High Honor Guards and nearly an hour of waiting, Vandar Arabin, Torch of the Radiant Way (and the man the party had traveled all this way to speak with) finally emerged from his rooms, accompanied by even more guards. To the dismay of the gathering and the party, the Torch was unable to offer any insight as to why the order’s connection with Valiar is weak, and upon informing them of his lack of knowledge, he was swarmed by furious Disciples. He managed to hurry back into his chambers accompanied by nearly all the room’s guards, and after magically sealing the door behind himself, the Disciples were left with no outlet for their anger. Soon, the only people left in the chamber were Mavmir and the party, the DIsciples having left out of frustration and despair. Mavmir approached the place on the wall where the door had been, had a brief exchange with Vandar, and the door opened. The party entered the Torch’s quarters expecting to find it filled to the brim with guards, but much to their surprise, the room was empty save for themselves and the Torch himself. Vandar spoke with the party briefly, and they informed him that the Six were no longer in the Valley. Vandar was shocked, and proceeded to tell the party of his plans to resign his post. According to Vandar, the Torch is expected to be familiar with all matters concerning Valiar, and if he is not, then he is unfit for the position. Many of the Disciples were opposed to his ascension, having won the position by a very slim margin, and since then their approval of him has waned even more. In open defiance of the Law of Selection, which requires a Torch to be elected by a majority of the Disciples, Vandar directly appointed Mavmir Akdos the thirtieth Torch of the Radiant way, to act in his stead until a new Torch is selected officially.

Vandar was able to provide some information on Jateltoth. He claimed to have spoken to the god a few weeks prior, and that he was headed south of the Empire, past the Tylman Marshes, for some unknown purpose. The party thanked Vandar for the information, left Mavmir to his duties, and headed south with two High Honor Guards to find the messenger god. They purchased a river boat in North Bridge fit for a small crew and took it south along the Tylm, a great river that splits the Empire. Their journey out of the Empire was uneventful, but once they crossed the southern border, they sensed that danger was afoot. Large, almost treelike posts adorned with the skulls of huge animals were planted beside the river, and the party was reminded of Vandar’s warning: “anything south of the Marshes is giant territory, and they don’t take kindly to trespassers in their lands.”

The group spent a few days trying their hardest to get to know the guards the former Torch had sent with them, but to their chagrin, they did not speak a word. No effort to convince them to open up to the party in any way was successful, and so eventually they gave up, frustrated. After several days of cautious travel downriver, they came across some unusual objects protruding from the sandy earth. Large, edged pieces of metal seemed to be embedded in the ground, and the combined efforts of Bart and Ceasok were only able to determine that they were nonmagical and made of some sort of dark, iron-like substance. That night, well after sunset, the party noticed a firelight up ahead, just bright enough to illuminate a large pile of wrecked boats blocking their passage down the channel. They disembarked and moved their riverboat up onto the banks, and knocked a piece of the wreckage loose just to see what would happen when it floated past the fire. Sure enough, a huge shape reached into the water, grabbed the ragged boat, and pulled it apart leisurely. The party determined that they had seen a giant’s camp, and decided to investigate it more closely since it was the only lead they had.

On their approach, they discovered that the camp was in fact home to two giants, and that they seemed rather bored and disinterested in their campfire. They looked intently at the party, and the High Honor guards drew their swords. The two giants hefted massive axes and looked ready to slaughter the five of them, but a bit of panicked shouting from the rest of the group was enough to convince the guards to put their weapons away, and the giants fortunately did the same. Obviously bored and not in the mood to fight, the giants began trying to speak with the group, but since none of the five of them spoke giant, only the general feeling of their speech was discernible. Fortunately for their conversation, however, Rilitor was able to cast comprehend languages and understand their speech perfectly. A lengthy discussion comprised of basic yes or no questions ensued, with the group ultimately arriving at the answer they desired, in the giants’ own way – “the skinchanger bird-god went to the East, and we can take you there.” The group was hoisted up onto the backs of the giants and carried across the plains for the entire night, and upon sunrise, they arrived at a sprawling camp of perhaps ten thousand giants. They were taken to the center of the camp, where they found a small tent, far too small for a giant to live in, and they went inside.

Sitting at a small table in the tent, reading a book and smoking a pipe, was a thin man with a large, hooked nose and grayish-blonde hair. The man introduced himself as Jateltoth, the Messenger, and informed the party that the gods of the Valley were no longer on the Material Plane, that he wanted their help and had heard great things about their achievements. He told them that he was leading an expedition to the Outer Planes to search for the Six, and that since the world’s great armies were indisposed after fighting a prolonged war, he had been forced to gather the most powerful capable force remaining – the giants.

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The Gods Have Gone, Pt. 2
Old friends, dead friends... it's all the same.

The party continued their conversation with Jateltoth and learned that he needed to open a portal to a plane called the Outlands, a place he says connects all the Outer Planes and which he needs to travel through to get to wherever the Six may be. However, to open that portal, he needs a powerful source of magic, something extremely concentrated. According to Jateltoth, opening a portal from one Outer Plane to another isn’t a particularly challenging task, but moving from an Inner Plane to an Outer Plane requires a great deal of strength and control which even he, an Outer God, does not possess inherently. He suggested an artifact the group has heard of before – the Staff of the Magi, a powerful staff used by the warmage Cynnan during the War of the Realms, the very weapon that blasted the Wastes and ended the fight. Rilitor and Aratar remembered their struggle in the jungles of the Bastyre Peninsula, just outside the Gnomish Covenant’s territory. They remembered their deaths at the hands of some unholy beast in those caverns, and the deaths of their friends, and resolved that they would return, slay the infernal monster that brought them to their knees, and claim the staff for their cause.

Jateltoth was able to send them directly to the cavern where they first found the staff, and they made their way down to find a few extra bodies and no staff to be seen. The corpses were heavily armored, and wore red and black tabards with a design resembling a scroll. Rilitor recognized it as the emblem of Qarumpeth, the elven god of knowledge and history and the last elven god in Pelkaera after the death of Ylene during the War of the Realms. He maintains a demiplanar library which is considered the largest single collection of knowledge in the cosmos, and its entrance is nearly impossible to find as it moves around at the god’s will. The party met up with the boat Jateltoth sent to take them back to Belagere and found it to be captained by Ne’Arel, whom they had not seen in nearly two years. He was entirely without Sentinel clothing and made it clear that he didn’t want to be involved in any of the party’s actions unless it was absolutely necessary, preferring the quiet life of a freelance captain to the demands of being a great and noble figurehead. Upon arriving back at the camp, the party informed Jateltoth of their need to find the library, and so the search begins.

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