A World Asunder

Epilogue

“Emile! Get down from there!”

Cora worries too much. She’s not even your mom. Your kid sister, Midra is still down there, clutching Cora’s leg. Lilac is dousing the camp fire. You’ve been on the road with a small group for the better part of a week, looking for a place to settle down.

“Emile, now! It’s not safe.”

You ignore her, you’re almost at the head and this is the most fun you’ve had in weeks. If you’re going to be cooped up in that stupid wagon for the whole day, you might as well get your fix now. Besides, there’s something poking out of the skull’s eye socket and you want to know what it is. You jump down from the spiny carapace onto the top of the beast’s skull.

Of course you’ve heard the stories, but this thing is huge. It’s hard to believe it was killed by 8 people. You remember meeting some of them once, but they didn’t seem all that special. They killed a morgh, though. That was the coolest thing you’d ever seen. Still, the beast was the size of a castle. A sword would be like poking it with a needle.

As you crest over the brow of the beast’s eye socket, part of the bone gives way and crumbles. You reach for a branch to break your fall, but it snaps.

You land on your back, in pain but unharmed. Great. Lilac’s going to be fussing over you all day. You look in your left hand to see what you grabbed on your way down.

You’re holding half a broken arrow, made of a rosebranch with fletchings from an arrowhawk feather.

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Chapter 84- "Seven Hundred and Fifty-Three years later"

The tribunal breaks for recess.

“C’mon,” Enfys says “Let’s see if we can find a decent tavern in this town.”

Though built like a fortress. Greywatch has all that you’d expect in a civilian city. You seat yourselves at a table and order drinks. Most of your companions are with you, less the ones lost along the way.

Reilly is the first to speak.
“Look, I think there’s at least one conversation we should have sober. What happens the the Paragons if we succeed? What, if anything, is our place in the world?”

allow players to discuss

(Enfys will want to disperse and aid in rebuilding)

(Reilly will want to form a confederation with any willing settlements south of the wall)

The drinks arrive and Robyn says
“Alright. Enough business. Let’s drink like it’s our last night in this world.”

The next morning, you wake up to find Enfys outside the door, smoking a cigarrette.
“I told Myran I’d quit when we ended the scourge, so I’m making the most of it. We should get going. The tribunal will be resuming soon.”

As you walk to the court building, you notice that many more are walking with you. It seems the goings-on of the proceeding are the worst kept secret in Irythan.

The court has spilled out and the plaza outside is flooded with off-duty soldiers. You have to push your way through them to get to the building. Delgrim is waiting for in the hallway with Gareth.

“The Tribunal has declared you free to leave and will allow safe passage of the coalition army into the grey wastes. Not only that, but Gareth has convinced us to devote Fifty-Thousand swords and Ten thousand lances to the cause. Seven Hundred and fifty-three years after the fall of Lyranos, Bastion’s elite will march south with the might of humanity at our back. We will take on the massed arkali horde that has so long plagued our existance while you valiant few confront the beast and plunge Laerta’s arrow into the beast’s throat.”

Delgrim walks outside to address the crowd assembled. You can’t hear a word of it through the heavy wooden door, but the cheering is hard to miss.

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Chapter 83- "The disembodied soul of a dead god"

Delgrim looks stunned. “I probably shouldn’t believe you, but I do. You met the disembodied soul of a dead god.”

Barloa is more composed. “Your report mentions you ended up in one of the nine hells and found your way back from there. Do you know which one?”

The nine hells are:
-War
-Despair
-Fear
-Disease
-Strife
-Hunger
-Decay
-Corruption
-Ruin

(Dc 24 Knowledge – religion, the planes, bardic to determine correctly)

“I see. We will have to be vigilant in case any connections to the hells remain. After your return, the journal of the last paragon had been translated and you finally had a viable way to end the scourge and proof of that possibility. Gareth returned to convince us of this and you sent messengers to the five nations of Irythan to convince them. We are told that a summit followed in the city of Freeharbor to discuss a military expedition into the grey wastes. Which factions were at that summit?”

Players nominate factions

“A formidable force, if their armies truly do take the field. Very well. We will deliberate and deliver our findings and recommendation to the Monarch Officers.”

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Chapter 82: "Get that damn thing open!"

You hear a loud, thuddy smashing sound from behind you and the walls of the sanctum shake off gravel and dust. Reilly taps the ironwood door with her pommel.

“That will hold them for a few minutes. Find the eye. I’ll set up a defense line here. Robyn, Harxen, see if you can find another way out. Bakario, go with them and see if you can find any useful records.” Most of you are still spattered with Arkali blood and two Fusiliers, Gremson and Barlowe, have been left dead in the swamp outside.

(To Lorraine) You’re still clutching Barlowe’s last letters.

Robyn and Harxen leave the room with Bakario in tow.

A rotting wooden door falls off its hinges as you push it open, behind it is a chamber roughly the size of a small chapel, though it has been arranged as a wizard’s study. In the center, there is an egg-shaped archway with a gyroscope dangling inside it by a tarnished copper chain. Bakario is darting around the room, interrogating bookshelves about their contents.

“Found it! Get in here”

Enfys’ voice is coming from a room off to the side that has been arranged as living quarters. There is a humanoid skeleton reclined on the back of a stone bed platform with his hands crossed over its chest. Around its neck is an amulet that looks like a dragon’s eye. There is a thin smoke-like substance rising from the pupil.

Robyn enters the room behind you with a grim look on their face.
“We didn’t find an exit.”

Bakario hands you a scroll and says:
“I did, but doubt you’ll like it very much.”

The scroll provides instructions for extraplanar travel using the archway and gyroscope. You are to point the pupil of the amulet toward the gyroscope and touch the gem corresponding with which plane you wish to travel to.

(players attempt to open the portal)

As you approach the archway, Reilly enters the chamber.
“Did you find a way out?”

Interrupt players as they inform reilly

Boom! You hear a deafening explosion followed by a clattering of rubble and a hail of gunfire.

Reilly draws her sword and motions to Enfys.

“We’ll hold them as long as we can. Get that damn thing open. I don’t care where we end up.”

(players attempt to open the portal)
The gyroscope begins to spin, flashes once, then falters.

allow players to react

“It requires a password.”

An ethereal, translucent figure appears on the other side of the archway. He is an elderly elven man with a short, thin beard. He wears a robe emblazoned with a dragon rising from water and an amulet identical to the left Eye of Bahamut. He gives a grim smile.

“Forgive me, my name is Lotanis, son of Kur. Brother of Bahamuth and Tiamath. I once shared this sanctum with my brother and sister many millenia ago. Tell me, what is it you seek in the outer planes?”

You hear another rattle of gunfire from down the hall.

“The password is given only to the students of the first dragons. Yet no students remain to claim the legacy of Kur. Without an heir to carry forward, our legacy, the shaping of life and civilization, will be undone. Though we cannot entrust this power to just anyone. You must ponder this question. Its answer will open the way.”

“I am the shifting sands and the long shadow. I am every great work, and every fallen empire. I am the pen and the sword. All have made me, yet most know not what they have made. What am I?”

players answer correctly

“That is the power you now hold. Understand that such a power is usurped with the birth of every child and the first wind of every storm.”

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Chapter 81- "We sentence you to exile"

You enter the courtoom and seat yourselves next to Gareth. Enfys and Reilly are with you.

Gareth introduces you:

“Adjudicators Delgrim, Evellios and Barloa. I present the members of the Paragon expedition into the grey wastes. Their reports of the incident have been provided and they stand ready to answer any questions you might need clarified.”

Delgrim is the first to speak: “Your report says that the Heptusian monarch agreed to grant you safe passage through their territory in exchange for a non-aggression pact extending to both the Heptusian navy and any slaver’s vessels you encountered. You were also approached by a group of runaway slaves who offered to smuggle you to the grey wastes by sea in exchange for a supply of arms and use of Polaris and Freeharbor as sanctuary. It says here you, Enfys Gwalchine, Robyn Niles, Harxen Jethrali and Reilly McTeague, along with a small squad of Fusiliers and the scholar Bakario, arrived in the Grey Wastes without us intercepting you. How exactly did you manage that?”

Players Answer

Evellios adjusts his spectacles. “That would explain some of the activity our inquisitors have been reporting from Heptus.”

Barloa addresses you next: “You made your way through the bloodmire and eventually ended up at what you refer to as ‘The Sanctum of Bahamut’. Gareth issued us a report of his findings with you at the time, but I would like to hear it from you directly.”

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Chapter 80- "It would seem we've little choice"

The courtroom is quiet. Delgrim furrows his brow and strokes his beard:
“This might explain the reports we’ve been receiving from Ash Ranger units in the grey wastes. Ash Rangers do have a tendency to go mad down there, but this might warrant further investigation, though we lack the time and resources to train a new ranger unit.”

Gareth speaks to the elf: “Evellios, pardon my impertinence, but I’ve known you long enough to tell when you’re holding back. What is it?”

“This is what I get for training you to be observant. Gareth, your report makes mention of an artifact that Niirithani informed you of. The eye of Bahamut, right?”

“Yes, Bahamut was an elder Wyrm, first of the gods and the one who performed the first planelink. According to legend, he was responsible for bringing the first dawn and giving the gift of literacy. It’s believed that he left his eye behind when he traveled to the Plane of Light so he could keep watch over the mundane world. Some scholars believed his eye was a necessary component of further planelinks. The Paragons brought a Journal with them that was successfully translated a week prior to retrieving the Last Arrow. The Journal described a ritual that would sever the link between our world and the Hell of War, effectively ending the Scourge. It requires the Eye of Bahamut, which was found in the grey wastes, deep inside the bloodmire.”

The tribunal whispers among themselves, then Evellios speaks up:
“Gareth, please inform the Paragons that we have a few more questions for them before we deliver a verdict.”

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Chapter 79- "Entropy or Chaos"

Niirithani takes the last arrow of Laerta, a simple arrow carved from a rose branch and fletched with arrowhawk feathers, draws her blood to the tip, and lets it clatter to the floor. Enfys picks it up.

She smiles slightly and says “I remember.”

Niirithani spreads her hands upward and a projection shimmers into view. You see a complex of spheres orbiting one-another and a black smoke whisping about and growing.

“The planes of existence were once seperate from each-other, with naught but a void in between. There was no afterlife, no magic, and no life gifted with sapient intelligence. My kind, dragons, were but beasts of the skies. Over millenia, a stagnation began to spread into our world, affecting material, life and light. We called that stagnation entropy. It would have been the doom of our world, but for my kind discovering the means to link the planes of existence. The first connection was with the plane of light, which drove away both darkness and ignorance, allowing the races of humanity to develop language, literature and eventually civilization. The second was darkness, providing respite and challenge to drive the world forward. And water which gave us the rain and sea, fire which gave us warmth and chaos, Air which gave us wind and seasons, and Earth which gave us the woods and metals to forge nations.”

Bright stands of light begin to bridge the spheres and those same strands blast away the smoke.

“One after another, the planes connected and those who brought about those connections ascended into divinity as gods. But some planes, the hells, could never be connected without great strife, and so the gods erased the knowledge of the rituals required to bridge the void.”

You begin to see the smoke creeping back in, beginning to envelop the central sphere.

“Entropy was kept at bay for a time by this great flux of chaotic magic, but such a parasite could not resist the allure of devouring this energy. The void once again began to creep into our world. The gods pushed back, as did we, to no avail. In the end, it was not wisdom, but ambition that saved us. A sorcerer from a long dead civilization found a way to connect our world with the Hell of Death, creating the first undead and ushering in the first collapse. The connection was violent and unstable, the dead rose and nearly annihilated the living before the link was severed. The magic from this connection overwhelmed Entropy and pushed it out of reach for a very long time.”

“In a bid to stave off annihilation, humanity vowed never to connect with one of the Nine Hells again. It was simply too costly. Memory of the first collapse was ever present, and the threat of entropy was forgotten. As entropy crept forward again, the gods hoped that another human would make such a connection, beginning a second collapse and so staving off entropy for another time. It soon became clear that humanity would never do this of their own accord, having suffered too much from the first collapse. The gods decided to intervene, and gifted, or cursed, humanity with Hubris. Soon the right mix of ambition, intelligence and arrogance gave way to the second collapse, and countless others since.”

“Once a civilization reaches great enough magical capability, it is inevitable that a Thaumeturge will reach too far and usher in a collapse. The collapse, as well as the salvation from it, are both necessary to stave off Entropy. The Scourge, known among my kind as the Ninth Collapse, is an outlier. In the past, civilizations have either defeated that which threatens them, or been annihilated leaving their replacements to sever the link to hell. This may be the nature of the Hell of War, though no other collapse has been driven by that connection. When a stalemate began to develop, many of my kind believed that the solution was to hasten the victory of the Scourge and allow the cycle to begin anew, and so they allowed themselves to be cursed for what they thought was the good of the world. Others saw the tenacity of this generation of Humanity to be a potential asset to mitigating the effects of future crises or perhaps in finding a new way to drive off entropy.”

“It is our… My belief that staving off a collapse, rather than succumbing to it, may allow Humanity to develop their magic far enough to push back entropy without beginning a new collapse. It’s possible that hubris will bring about a new collapse from precisely that effort, but your generation has more than earned the chance to try.”

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Chapter 78- "We daring few"

The courtroom is almost quiet enough that you can hear candles flicker.

The elf repeats: “What is it which convinced you to risk drawing Bastion into a war?”

Gareth clears his throat and looks the elf in the eye. He says with a flat tone: “The Paragons are right.”

The members of the tribunal erupt. The dwarf, Delgrim, retorts: “What you speak is near treason. The great wall has kept us safe from the Arkali hordes for seven centuries while every one of our attacks has failed.”

Gareth raises his voice loud enough to extinguish a candle. “Yes, and until now we have not had a means to succeed. Now we do, in spite of the best efforts of our order to prevent that.”

Delgrim is about to retort, but the gnome interrupts him: “We are not here to point fingers, but to reach the truth. Gareth, explain this means you believe might bring victory and tell us how you came upon it.”

Gareth straightens his collar and replies:

“Through my interview with the Paragons in the prison, I was informed that they had located a living Elder Wyrm named Niirithani in the underground city, suffering from amnesia. Dragons share much of their minds with others of their clutch, and it was learned that St. Laerta was among Niirithani’s siblings. The Paragons searched for her remains, but found only the artifact known as Laerta’s last arrow, an object that St. Laerta literally put her soul into at the end of her famous last stand.”

“The Paragons also informed me of the cycle of world-ending crises affecting our world. That the Scourge was not the first, nor would it be the last.”

The elf straightens his spectacles

“And this is why you aided them?”

“Yes”, Gareth continues, “I determined that it was important to find out what Niirithani knew about the impending crisis.”

Delgrim sneers:
“So tell us of that encounter.”

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Chapter 77 - "The accords may well have doomed us all"

The scribe looks up as if expecting to hear more. The Adjudication panel waits a few moments, then the adjudicator seated right, a middle aged dwarven man wearing the uniform of a General, speaks up:

“Your testimony has been… Illuminating. Though I fail to see the relevance it holds to this investigation. The Faskian military is not on trial for war crimes, though we can easily arrange such charges for you if..”

The elf in the center cuts him off “Delgrim, the inquisitor would not have included it if he did not deem it relevent. I taught him that if nothing else.”

Gareth continues.
“The creature that attacked them was similar in nature to those they found in the ruined city under Mt. Maitheranas. I’m including not because it is relevent to my actions, but because we would do well to make it relevent to those of the inquisition.”

The gnome asks:
“And how did you come to arrive at Nortannis?”

Gareth answers:
“I came across a messenger on her way to inform the Inquisition of the captured Paragons. I was wearing my cloak and broach at the time so he informed me directly. I took the letter and went personally. I thought they would be from another raid on a local cell, but it turned out to be the same cohort that saved my life in Weslyth. I followed my standing orders. Seek out and eliminate threats to the scourge on my own initiative.”

“Yes,” The dwarf retorts “But in taking the course of action you did, you went against the latter part of those orders. Abide by and enforce the terms of the Bastion accords.”

“Sir,” Gareth has an urgent look on his face “I recognize that and I apologize for the position this puts Bastion in. However this is a situation where abiding by the accords may well have doomed us all.”

The elf leans back in his seat and cleans his spectacles.

“Explain,” he says “What could be so vital that you’d risk the collapse of the accords?”

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Chapter 76 - "Rabbit-eared treefucker scum"

You wake up tired the next day after a cold night on a hard surface in your hut. Or rather, you’re woken up by the sound of a gunshot. A look between the logs in your drafty hut shows you that the sun is just starting to rise.

One of the people in your hut, a balding elf in his early 50’s, is already up and folding his blanket. He doesn’t seem fazed by the noise.

(players ask about the gunshot)
“Probably an execution. A partizan escaped yesterday. Not the first time.”

(players ask who the elf is)
“Thelenas. Horse thief. Life sentence hard labor. You?”

A guard approaches the reinforced wood door and unlocks it. He shouts: “Outside. NOW!”

The old elf gives an “after you” gesture to the door.

Players leave

The guard directs you and the other prisoners to line up.

(if players did not receive introduction)
The old elf lines up behind you and says in a hushed tone “My name is Thelenas. I’d rather be your friend than your enemy but if you get into trouble, leave me out of it. You want to survive here, do what the guards say and don’t let anyone steal your food or stand behind you. When they call hut number five, that’s us. We can talk more when we get our assignments”

The guard assigns work orders to huts. Your hut is assigned to work the mines as haulers. Thelenas curses under his breath.

The guard opens the gate to the mines and orders the assembled prisoners (nearly 50) to report to a foreman

players do not comply
“Alright, then.” The guard pulls out a whip and begins striking you with it
(1d4 subdual damage per strike, will save DC 10+damage received or players will comply)

Players comply
The foreman, a human man in somewhat better kept prisoner’s clothes with a coiled whip at his hip, addresses your hut:

“Okay, you’re hauling today. For those of you who are new or stupid, that means hauling crates of ore through the tunnels and sending it topside with the pulley. Any questions?”

“Good. Midday meal is in six hours. Your quota is ten crates each. If one of you fails to make that, none of you eat today.”

Players continue
You descend the ladder into the mines. Benavin and Thelenas are with you. The torchlit tunnel forks off at many points, with crude barricades barring entrances to old tunnels and signs leading to and from the current worksite.

Deeper in, you start to see smaller passages, some too small for a human to fit into. In other locations, the passage widens and the floor drops off into a chasm with primitive rope bridges erected to cross. You also see bodies of dead prisoners. Some fresh, some not, some reduced to skeletons. Occasionally, you’ll come across a pile of bones and bodies shoved into a dugout to make room to pass. Many of them are being eaten by rats, others have been eaten by things other than rats. It’s not immediately apparent how they died.

(DC 15 heal/knowledge (dungeoneering))
Some appear to have died of bite and/or claw wounds. Others show signs of death by disease. Presumably the others died of exhaustion, malnutrition or exposure.

(DC 16 Knowledge (religion))
You note lesions and bite marks on several of the bodies that indicate death by Ghoul Fever.

The foreman yells at you to keep moving.

Players keep moving
You begin to hear the clattering of pickaxes down the tunnel and soon you come to a vein of ore that reaches from the floor to the ceiling of the tunnel. The vein, and tunnel, continue on for another 30 meters or so, with miners digging further to expose more of the iron. There are a number of crates on the ground ready to be moved.

Players start moving ore (DC 12 strength check)
(failure)
The foreman takes a lash at you (+7 attack, 1d4 subdual damage, provokes will save): “Put your back into it, rot.”

(success)
The crates are enormous, but you manage to lift it high enough that you can carry it.

You carry the ore almost a quarter mile before you begin to hear footsteps behind you. The foreman from the mining site is following you. The foreman draws a knife from under his tunic.

“Get over here, you rabbit eared treefucker scum”

Combat, foreman and Displacer beast

Players notice displacer beast
(describe displacer beast)

Combat ends
You hear a loud clatter from the direction of the vein. You see Thelenas standing behind you, his crate spilled all over the floor.
“What the seventh hell did you just do?”

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