My quest to find and alert the Heroes of the Ebon Tower to the sinister intentions of their former comrade-in-arms has taken me to a place far, far away…
When I arrived at Hallowdwell, I told Bohm my concerns about Lysander, Pelor’s chosen and ward of his temple. The young man’s destiny seems to be tied to that of the Ebon Tower and we need to take the proper precautions to ensure his safety. Bohm and I discussed that perhaps retreating to another plane, one with stronger mystical defenses, might be the best option. With King Donovan’s blessing we prepared an ancient portal at Hallowdwell, but as we began our ritual, another unrelated portal opened up within the courtyard. Twisted, tentacled abominations poured forth and it seemed we were too late to stop the mad wizard’s schemes.
But all was not lost. I am unsure if there is such a thing as fate, or if we call mere coincidence fate because the improbable makes sense when it has already happened. But at this moment of need, heroes came forth. Aislynn Athamae, who I thought was firmly ensconced in her tower, came from another wing of the castle with three teenage children in tow, wearing what appeared to be a wedding dress. A beautiful and lithe elven woman, who I had noticed in the periphery of the court, drew an ornate blade and melted into the shadows, ready to spring at any moment. And a young dragonborn, carrying Lahktar’s golden lyre, stared down the hordes emerging from the portal. The odds were still against us, but at least I was not alone in the fight.
I credit our survival, and the survival of Pelor’s chosen, to my new-found allies. But survival and escape is cold comfort, because we lost the battle. Our victory was our retreat, and we did not emerge unscathed. We were able to hold off the first waves, but our foes kept coming. One horde attacked King Donovan; I jumped through a dimension rift that let me come to his rescue along with the elven woman, and even cleared his of possession by these dark forces. But with my attention divided, I saw this was a diversion to attack Bohm and prevent our escape. I returned to the portal and erected a magic barrier that, if my strength could hold, would keep them safe.
And then the Kraken emerged.
Water poured forth from the tear in reality, and a titanic Kraken made its way into our world. I have never felt quite as pure of terror as I did in that moment, save for when Ouroboros shared my mind. The dragonborn young man was able to temporarily shift it into another plane of reality with his lyre (I shudder for the plane that received it), but the tide had clearly turned. It was now time to retreat. In the chaos, Donovan had been left unattended, and I found him being devoured by some of the horrors that had attacked us. The king was dead. The portal opened, and it was time to go. Everyone made their way into the portal, and I covered our exit as best I could before I dove into the portal from a balcony above, hoping that our destination had unusually soft ground when I landed.
It didn’t. We were instead in a ruined temple in an unknown land, confused and defeated. But we had each other, which was something. Besides Aislynn and her adopted children, the dragonborn adolescent was Ra’sul, the son of Lahktar. The elven woman was Adell, who brazenly admitted she was a thief and there to steal the signet ring of the Xavier family off Donovan’s finger…and sure enough, she had the ring in her possession. Bohm was outraged, but cut off in this strange land, we needed allies with great skill and cunning. That said, I must admit that I was taken aback by Aislynn. I know she had gone through much trauma during her enslavement, and had become nearly reclusive since the Ebon Tower, but I was not prepared for her cynicism. I wonder if it is a defense mechanism, or if she truly is this jaded. In either case, she did stand up for her brother when I broached my concerns about it, proving that she at least still feels the bonds of family.
We emerged from the temple and noticed buildings far in the sky above. We could only be in one place: Sigil, the City of Doors. A local offered to guide us for a fee. Aislynn was curt with the man, and I knew he was a rogue and a grifter, but I would rather a shady character lead us through the streets of this strange and fantastic place than us wander about on our own. After a whirlwind tour of the city, and an equally whirlwind tour of the many factions that play for the heart of the city, we made our way to the Civic Festhall. Ra’sul could not help but show up a busker out front, but his rudeness did gain us something to barter in exchange for a recording Ouroboros had left Aislynn. It was a chilling message, one that said that what he did was important, and that though he loved her, he would not think twice about killing her if she tried to stop what he must do. I saw Aislynn’s heart break for the briefest of seconds before her stony resolve came up again. We were now committed to stopping Ouroboros…only we didn’t know where to start.
But Aislynn is not in service to the Raven Queen without some benefit. The shade of her and Ouroboros’ murdered father had not yet moved on to the great beyond, lingering in the Shadowfell. The dead know many secrets, and perhaps how to stop Ouroboros would be one. In the City of Doors, you can go anywhere if you can find a door and a key. But it would appear that we would have to go to the factions to get that kind of information, and these factions play a dangerous game. They all have their agendas, and no doubt we are their pawns. We just have to make sure that we’re not being sacrificed for their gain…or that we sacrifice something ourselves that’s too dear to let go. Luckily, we got a lead that this key would require the finger bone of a witch…like one that was stealing children in the Hive of Sigil.
As we took to the streets, a pretty young woman who claimed to be a fan of his Festhall performance asked to see Ra’sul lyre. She prompted revealed her true form as the nymph busker he previously showed up. She took off and we gave choice, only to be led into an ambush. We fought to get the lyre back, crossing paths with two other pilgrims lost in the city. One was an odd flying woman, with skin the color of the sky and hair the color of clouds who called herself “Princess”. The other was a religious sort that looked human, save for his milky white eyes. And to prove that providence has a sense of humor and timing, another Hero of the Ebon Tower emerged from a cistern—Coronatum seemed to have stumbled into a portal in Lorut, transporting him to Sigil, and nearly into our laps. He seemed more than a little peturbed to see us, but mainly angry at the nymph’s band trying to stab him. They all came to our aid, and when the battle was over, we decided to join forces to end the witch’s reign of terror.
After asking the guarded citizens of the Hive, and interacting with a particularly odious gnomish cartographer who questions our non-existent faction loyalty, we found an alleyway with an odd noise upon the wind. A young girl was attaching a grate to a wall, over a deep, dark hole. We talked to her, and she talked back in pictures, a rebus appearing the air over her head. We convinced her to let us through, and we climbed into a tunnel reeking of death. We found a pile of corpses, and then the corpses stood, animated by worms gibbering nonsense in deep speech. But with the powers of our new companions, the zombies and worms stood little chance against us. Even when a ghost emerged from behind us, we handled it quickly.
This ragtag group, thrown together by circumstance, has begun to gel as a fighting force. I only hope we gel as well as companions, because the road ahead will be hard. We will be tested, and if we are powerful individually but weak as a group, Ouroboros will take advantage and all will be lost. Only by coming together can we hope to accomplish what we must do.