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Campaign 1 Session 21 - The Ruins of Zanith-Urres

Posted: 14 August 2022 (reading time: 11 minutes; 2290 words)

Recap by Arash Shahangian

The Library Gexxmor is massive, with extensive side passages and rows of books that seem to go on forever. Few beings are present here, and most are of races never encountered by Asgardey∂a. There are a few rules in the library, as the polite Erinyes librarian with the wrath of Hell just behind her eyes informs them:

  1. Don’t piss anyone off. No violence is allowed in the Library.
  2. No book may be removed from the Library.
  3. No book is missing (they know how and where to find every book that belongs to the Library).

I

Greunthrn surreptitiously shadows library patrons to find clues to help uncover information relevant to the closing portals to other dimensions. He comes across a young, female elf wizard or some other arcane type reading about a world he has never heard of and realizes he is in the History of Worlds section and calls the rest of the group over. In this room, Belnirith learns of a world called Middle Earth, which had been destroyed by the Eldritch Horrors. In this world was a warlock named M’kaar P’az who had unsuccessfully tried to create a ritual to close the Material Plane off from them.

Vyshka looks for a combination weapon/healing tool that works on multiple planes, without success. Laguza having never been in a library before, was also unable to find information useful to their investigation. The group flounder around the Library, gleaning no new, useful information.

II

After many hours pass, the friendly-yet-frightening librarian offers Asgardey∂a a comfortable room in which to rest. In it there are some beds, water, and a writing table. Belnirith takes this opportunity to transport via the Feywild to Yuki’s hut in the Ashen for some assistance, and to give her the paper with the Library’s seal on it as a souvenir per Yuki’s request. Yuki did not know about M’kaar P’az and had, unsurprisingly, no new information to provide.

That night, in Asgardey∂a’s collective dream, they find themselves in the terribly familiar realm of black ooze. Aegnagryd stands there, before a huge, horrifying, writhing mass that declares “I gave you eyes to see, but you see nothing.”

“I’ve been ruling Belmunt on your behalf. I’ll find them.” “They seek to close the portal.” It harshly interjects “Find out how first, but not with your eyes.”

Tentacles launch from the mass. Two rip out Aegnagryd’s new, red, lizard-like eyes, another stabs into her heart. She shrieks. Though apparently blinded, she looks directly at Belnirith, mouth quivering in pain and rage “You did this to me. I will find you!” And they all wake up. Laguza suffers exhaustion from this harrowing experience. The others are otherwise fine.

III

During the next day of investigating, Greunthrn employs a different tactic. He looks to books that have collected dust and appear to not have been opened in a while. The tactic proves successful, as he discovers that M’kaar P’az went to another plane and crafted a staff of power, designed to lock the Old Ones away from the Prime Material Plane and did in fact create a ritual to close a portal from the Old Ones. It is unclear if M’kaar was successful.

Vyshka finds a book called The History of Failure which references M’kaar P’az as a warlock who had made a pact with the Great Old Ones. They rewarded him with power and a blue dragon as a companion. When he realized their intention to destroy his world entirely, he broke his pact with them. The Horrors punished M’kaar by destroying everyone that had ever been connected to him. He then fled to a fortress in the Shadowfell names Zanith-Urres.

Suddenly, while Asgardey∂a continue their investigation, Greunthrn yells, “Look out!” He aims his bow at a shadow of a tentacle aimed at Vyshka that no one else can see. One arrow hits the bottom of the bookshelf, but another hits and the large, thorny, black tentacle becomes visible. Immediately afterward, an alarm shrieks and the librarian flies down and hacks away furiously at the tentacle. When it’s gone, she turns to Greunthrn and says, “Thank you. Now, please put your bow back.”

Greunthrn says, “I apologize for the violence.” Then the ground shakes and shelves rattle.

The librarian says “I hope you didn’t intend to go back to Haettrland, because now that we have been discovered, we are leaving.”

Glasya, in all her beauty, ferocity, intimidation, and 12-foot stature enters the room, glowers at Belnirith “Was it your mother?”

Belnirith looks at her squarely but humbly “I would not lie to you. We don’t know for sure, but she would be the one most likely to do this.”

Glasya responds “When you kill her, hit her with a couple extra missiles for me. If you need help to get where we’re going, I will provide assistance.

Greunthrn says we don’t need help, but Belnirith invites Glasya to exact her vengeance more directly.

Glasya ponders this a moment and says “The next time you find yourselves in Asgard / Valhalla, tell them I will speak to Asgard, but it must be on neutral ground. I won’t tell them where the library is. The Raven Queen is neutral, so ask her if we may meet in her Fortress of Memory on Thor’s Day, 3 days from now. She pets Viggo and tells him to take good care of them. To Asgardey∂a, she says “Good luck. They’re probably stupid enough to need you.”

IV

Asgardey∂a use the black stones Helrynn gave allowing them to transport directly to the Shadowfell. During the travel, however, they feel a sharp tug and find themselves, this time fully awake, in the black oozy tentacle environment, in the presence of Aegnagryd who says “Give me the book. Now.”

Belnirith replies “We have no book.”

“Well, you must have found something out. Otherwise, you wouldn’t have left.”

Laguza snarks “We went to find these big stone dice.”

Aegnagryd is not impressed. She flicks her wrist and wracks Laguza with necrotic damage. Before she could do any more harm to the group, they are pulled out of that dimension and thrown onto the floor of a grey throne room.

Asgardey∂a is hit by a familiar sense of gloom and oppression which overwhelms Greunthrn. A raven lands on the throne. More and more arrive and land on the throne, swirling together tighter and tighter until they coalesce into the form of a giant, pale humanoid woman clad in black. Greunthrn immediately bows deeply, recognizing the Raven Queen. Then Helrynn walks in and bows to the woman on the throne, her mother.

The Raven Queen expresses her offense “No one disrupts a portal to my realm. You, be at peace.” and Greunthrn’s emotional state is restored.

Belnirith bows and says “We seek to close the portals that lead the Old Ones to us. To this end, we seek M’kaar P’az in Zanith-Urris.”

Helrynn states “It was destroyed centuries ago. He probably died there. And no one has ever closed the portal to the Old Ones. All that is left there in that Domain of Dread now are the sorrowsworn. The domain of Klorr is a constantly shifting landscape of islands and valleys. If you are committed to this path of action, I can portal you in there and we can summon a gloomstalker to direct you through the gloom to Zanith-Uriss. No map will be useful.” The Queen observes Asgardey∂a’s resolve and stretches out her hand to release one raven loose from her form to summon the gloomstaker Nazir.

Belnirith asks “If M’kaar died in the Shadowfell, where has his spirit gone?”

Helrynn responds “He’s not with us. Either it’s still in the ruins or it was taken.”

Greunthrn posits “Maybe warlocks can preserve their souls.” Belnirith says “It’s unlikely.”

Greunthrn asks the Raven Queen if Glasya may be permitted meet with the Asgardians in her Fortress of Memories on Thor’s Day, in 3 days.

“It is done” is her reply.

Helrynn offers “You can stay here until tomorrow morning” and leads them to a stark, grey room; but it is one of the nicer rooms in the Fortress and bigger than their room in the library. During their long rest, they awaken in Valhalla before the assembled Asgardians. Also sitting there is the black, fully armed einherjar Nadira.

Belnirith jibes Nadira “You’re always eating. Don’t you have a job to do?”

Nadira retorts “Harvesting valiant souls is taxing work and requires proper sustenance! So, what report have you for us?” Asgardey∂a relay what they’ve learned and experienced. Thor is not happy having to see Glasya again, as she doesn’t respect him. She is very patronizing towards him but has great respect Freya. Then the Hero’s Feast begins, granting Asgardey∂a great rest and increased vigor and mental resilience.

Belnirith takes her father, Narjarhil, to the side to consult with him about her mother. He suggests that she has become an Eldritch Lich. Her soul is no longer there. “If you kill her, maybe her soul will return to the Shadowfell. It would be a mercy.” He adds, “I don’t even know if she answers to her name anymore.” Belnirith looks very sad, and Vyshka hugs her… to Belnirith’s shock!

V

In the morning, they all feel refreshed. Water is laid out for them in their room, as is bread and pudding. It’s not great tasting, being as gray and flavorless as one would expect in a gray realm of shadow, but it works. They then meet Helrynn in the throne room. A soft-spoken, lightly armored shadar-kai man is there with her. Nazzyr. He acknowledges Greunthrn as a fellow ranger and they establish a rapport. Helrynn then sends Asgardey∂a through a portal to the Domain of Dread, Klorr. Nazzyr uses a spear that has markings like a cross between a ruler and an astrolabe, to get his bearings on the ever-shifting lands. Frightening creatures occasionally appear around them as they travel through. Nazzyr tells them when to duck…

In a valley Nazzyr guides them to the ruins of Zanith-Urris spread out on several hovering land masses connected by a small network of bridges. On each of these masses are several sorrowsworn, and on the hub of these bridges stands a massive, blue dracolich. Nazzyr tells them if they survive, he’ll be waiting for them outside the ruins.

VI

Asgardey∂a stealth into the structure on the other side of the watchtower, successfully avoiding detection from the Dracolich and the wandering Angry sorrowsworn. In the first room of the structure moans a sorrowsworn, which Belnirith recognizes a Lost sorrowsworn. Laguza expands into enlarged form. A brief fight ensues, and Vyshka kills it with a weird spiritual weapon shaped like earrings. They turn its brain to shrapnel.

Next to this room is a small bedroom. Belnirith senses something glowing under the bed. Laguza, wanting to make the most of the limited time she has in her enlarged form, goes over the room across the hall. Greunthrn and Belnirith follow her into the room and discover a Lonely sorrowsworn with a harpoon hand. It harpoons Laguza, doing serious damage to her. Belnirith lands the killing blow with so much radiant energy that it gives the sorrowsworn one brief moment of joy before destroying it.

Meanwhile, Vyshka finds an amulet, with a large ruby embedded in its center and 8 smaller gems around it, under the bed in the room where Belnirith had detected magic. Belnirith Identifies the amulet as the Amulet of the Sentinel. “Um, does anyone want to help me with this harpoon?” Laguza calls out, seemingly forgotten.

VII

The group leave this area of the ruins and cross another bridge to the tower. Therein, they encounter a gaunt, skeletal figure, its back turned to them. M’kaar P’az turns to them and says “I knew one day someone would seek me out. I suppose you think that you will succeed where I failed…? No one can succeed.”

They can now see his similarity to the latest iteration of Aegnagryd, an Eldritch Lich with busted out eyes, and tentacles sprouting from his chest and back.

Greunthrn asks “What went wrong?”

“The Old Ones went wrong.”

Laguza says “It’s not over yet. You may as well help us.”

Belnirith “You had tried to do this on your own. We, however, have the might of Asgard behind us.”

“Ass who? Why should I care?”

Greunthrn mentions other supporters, The Greatwyrm, Yldrl, and Glasya.

“I don’t have faith in any of you. But Glasya…”

He reflects for a moment, then performs a magical gesture over his desk, and a staff appears, set with a large ruby. Alongside it is a thick scroll case, apparently for a very long ritual or a very powerful spell.

“Die rather than let the Old Ones get this.” Belnirith nods and accepts them from him respectfully.

“Will you not join us?” she asks.

“I cannot leave. But let me know if you succeed. I’m curious. Assuming you didn’t kill my pet, she’ll let you through. We were both cursed.”

Belnirith asks “If we succeed, will it release you from your curse?”

“I don’t know, but I would be immensely grateful for my soul to move on.”

Asgardey∂a take their leave, passing by the blue dracolich this time, who allows them through. They make their way back to where they last saw Nazzyr, who pokes his head out upon seeing them. “None of you died? You impress me. Wonderful, wonderful.”

They huddle up next to him and he tosses a stone. “What do you think, head or tails? Ha-ha-ha!” The group arrive back in the throne room of the Fortress of Memory, one day to spare before the meeting between Asgard and Glasya.

TO BE CONTINUED…

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