Eberron Nights

Across the Frozen Sea

Taking a quick trip via airship to the Lhazaar Principalities, they dock at Regalport, the capital of the largest of the many baronies. After loading up on cold-weather clothes and furs, they charter a ship to take them north, past the many island city-states, and to the frozen sea. The halfling captain and his ship are equally dilapidated, but he has the best crew crazy enough to undertake the journey. Luckily, the days pass without incident, and the ship eventually begins pushing through floes of ice sheets. It eventually becomes too thick to pass through, and they let the party disembark to continue their journey. The captain promises to wait as long as he could before turning back, else they’ll probably be frozen to death, stuck in the sea’s icy embrace.

Hiking across the wavy, uneven ice, the party is thankful for the ring of warming they found long ago, whose heat radiates to save their skins even from the numbing wind that blows against them. Suddenly, and without warning, the ice explodes in their midst as a massive head breaks through from the water: a sea serpent comes up to strike. They dance and jump between the chunks of ice as it attempts to bite and swallow each of them whole. It is eventually beaten back and decapitated, the long unseen body sinking into the depths. Some of the survivalists salvage what they will of its teeth and scales before moving on with their journey.

At the second day of travel, they come across a dip in the snow to find a ship half-buried. Digging to find the prow, the see it is indeed the North Seeker, the very ship Halungalom had told them about. He eagerly begins digging down to find entrance, and the party joins them to uncover the mystery of its disappearance. What they find is disturbing: the bodies of sailors, mostly human, lie everywhere, victims of violence, not exposure. Zrill’s investigative techniques find they were not attacked from outside, but had killed each other. Knife wounds mark all of them, and more than one sailor died with blood on his own knife. Exploring the rest of the ship reveals more bodies with similar evidence, including the gnome from House Sivis. The only exception is a man found in the pantry, having died of starvation apparently, having been the last survivor of the slaughter. Halungalom takes the ship’s maps and records, while the party looks for supplies. The food had all been eaten, but the man did have a golden ring that radiated magic. The cleric Rin determined it had the power of a Word of Chaos, and held on to it. They put the bodies to rest as best they could and took their own uneasy rest on the ship, not entirely sure they were alone on the continent after the attack of the sea serpent.

The night goes without incident, however, besides a forecast of days of blizzards. With time running short, the party soldiered on against the blinding wind and snow for yet another day. As daylight came to an end, so to did the blizzard, and they found themselves before a castle built or carved of blue ice. Standing atop it was a man, perhaps some sort of knight dressed fully in armor of the same blue ice as the castle.

“I bid you welcome to my mistress’ castle, and hope you did not suffer too much on the arduous journey here. She greatly values her privacy, hence the unwelcoming conditions. The fact that you are here and alive is testament to your endurance and mettle. Still, before I can let you enter, there is just one more test of your skills…” He leaps gracefully down from the fifty foot wall, unnaturally so in full armor, and spreads his clawed gauntlets wide.

“You must pass me first.”

With a red burning in his eyes, and a glint of canines, he nods the faceplate of his helm down and begins running to the side. His form quickly blurred as he became a speeding wall of ice and claws around the party. This was briefly interrupted to run through the party and smite with a glowing-black claw before becoming indistinct again. He was difficult to hit until Zrill managed to entangle him, slowing him down significantly and allowing the party to get a bead. The man had a brief repartee with Varele, even commanding her to turn on her companions, but she managed to resist his advances as the party bashed him into a vaporous cloud, which departed over the wall shortly before the gates opened on their own.

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Consultation at Darkspire College

Flying back to Xen’drik, to their home base of Eliang’sha, Zrill leads them to a contact of his at the Darkspire College of Thaun. They arrive at a rather small building, certainly not large enough for a library, let alone a college. Passing by the reception checkpoint, however, they immediately start climbing down a long, turning stairway, heading deep underground. The stairway splits off to rooms and chambers, but they head down even more before taking a door to a large library, filled with students of the arcane and mundane. Walking through quietly, they open a door to the “outside” of the college. Here they can see they are in a colossal underground cavern, and the stairs they just descended was the interior of one of three massive stalactites. Coming out of one of the smaller ones, they cross a wobbly rope bridge to the largest, central spire.

Inside again, there are more libraries and meeting halls. They come across a large group surrounding some sort of presentation. It’s difficult to see over the crowd, but a small gnome animatedly regales his audience with tales of intrigue and scandal, foreign lands, strange primitive cultures, and monsters that kill and beguile men. After his presentation, Zrill greets him, introducing him to the party as Halungalom Blackhand: explorer, reporter, and chronicler. Explaining their predicament, they share the riddle-omen of the oracle, asking his opinion.

“Hmm, you seem to be on the right track. With no North, East, or West, the only way left is South in all directions. The northernmost reaches of Eberron would certainly be unfit for sustaining man and beast. The best I can think of would be Frostburn, the frozen continent of ice. The Wayfinder Foundation sent several expeditions to explore it. The North Seeker was thought to have an excellent chance of reaching it and returning safely, and even had a member of House Sivis to report on their progress. Unfortunately, they never returned. The last message we received from our agent was ‘Temporarily stuck in ice. Captain expects ship to be free within a few days. Continuing forward.’ After that, there was no more word.”

The party decided that’s where they’d have to try next. Halungalom explained an airship would probably be torn apart by the winds, and most ships didn’t survive sailing far. Their best chance would be sailing north from the Lhazaar Principalities to the frozen sea, then walking across the surface the rest of the way. Varele invited the Halungalom to join them, which he accepted with excitement, desiring to finish what House Sivis started and publish a new adventure.

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The Talenta Plains

Walter flies the party to the Talenta Plains, across the continent to the Northeast. Over the rolling, trackless plains, the party touches down at the meandering caravan of House Ghallanda, the halfling guild of hospitality. They are able to point the direction to Varele’s foster family’s migration area, and they track down her family, now grown up a generation of their own. Her brothers and sisters are adults and elders of their own families now, and explain the directions to the oracle, as they learned from their parents.

The party travels through the desert, struggling against the sun and heat, and avoiding the raiders and monsters that make their home there. Coming to a mountainous canyon, they are faced with the choice of walking through the narrow slot canyon, the lair of gnoll raiders, or through the caverns, home of who knows what beasts. Opting to take their chances with the caves, the party enters. Deeper inside, they hear a deep breathing of a large creature. Rounding a tunnel, they come across the lair of a huge, twelve-legged reptile with blue scales, a behir. Fortunately, it had recently feasted upon some gnolls, and in its torpid state, was willing to ignore the travelers-through if they left the lair undisturbed. All to willing to leave it alone, the party quickly passes by, coming out of the caves to the valley in the mountains.

In the desert valley, the party muscled their way through a standing windstorm to find a stone tower standing alone. Climbing up, they discovered a sphinx sitting at the open top, seemingly waiting for them, or anyone who came for wisdom. She said she could help, whatever our problem, but she demanded payment. Members of the party offered her bits of arcane or otherwise obscure lore to add to her hoard of knowledge, and even played some riddle-games:

“What belongs to you but others use more than you do?”
“They’ve been around for millions of years, but are no more than a month old.”
“There are four brothers in this world that were all born together. The first runs and never wearies. The second eats and is never full. The third drinks and is always thirsty. The fourth sings a song that is never good.”

Even answering her riddles, however, wasn’t enough. Varele was forced to give up her most prized possession and companion, her massive giant’s falchion. In return, the sphinx went into a trance, and with blank eyes, gave them another riddle as an answer:

“Here there is no North, West, nor East,
And weather fit for not man nor beast.”

Even then, the party puzzled over the meaning of the couplet, and while they had ideas, decided to return to a university for more help. Before they left, however, they had heard of some local troubles with some monster in the Boneyard, the ancient valley filled with giant dragon bones, left over from mass burial or battle. Heading up the desert, they found the area easily enough: Varele’s family was always taught to avoid the area. Walking through the hills and walls of bone, they were suddenly ambushed by a small, skeletal dragon, the remains of a young blue by the looks of it. It cried in triumph as it shot a line of lightning at them, and even its gaze felt to paralyze. The warlock Zeph, however, possessed a massive femur, dropping himself on the little dragon, letting the others come up to finish it off.

The party realized with its intelligence, it was probably a dracolich, and must have a phylactery somewhere. They searched, finding a small hoard, but did not seem to find its soul receptacle. Varele, however, found the remaining equipment of some large adventurer, including his large greatsword. When holding it, however, it morphed into other large weapons, and could match the exotic Talenta weaponry she grew up training with. They reported their relative success to Varele’s family, and in gratitude, they presented her with her own hunting boomerang. Boarding the airship once more, it was time to visit the Darkspire College of Thaun in Eliang’sha.

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Morgrave University

Researched the planes and history and lore of Eberron, from creation to the current age. Leaving the library, the party is ambushed by assassins that explode when felled, leaving little evidence behind. Looking for more answers, Varele suggests the oracle of the Talenta desert.

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Arenal Homecoming

The party followed a lead from Zrill’s correspondence with a Kylaear in Shae Cairdal, the capital and ruling city of Arenal. Walter was able to land on the northeastern shore, but no closer, as the thick forests and jungles of Arenal provided no clearing. There was an abundance of bronsewood, densewood, and even some soarwood, but a few politically-minded party members realized that these were the heart of the elves’ home and economy, and poaching would be highly dangerous. So they instead hiked down the river.

Ten miles down, about half way to the city, they did hear a great ruckus. Heading south from the river, the party saw a warforged titan, a massive construct with a maul and great axe for arms, crushing and chopping down trees in its wake. When it spotted them, it intoned, “Intruders: halt harvesting protocols and destroy witnesses.” Then the poaching construct attacked. With a crushing blow, it knocked Varele into the river, and attempted to mash the others into pulps as well, but their combined attack ended up severing the warforged “spine,” leaving it inert. Oberon harvested what he could, including the dragonshard heart powering the thing, leaving it dead in their wake. Zeff, possessing the warforged’s limited mind, saw memories only stretching back a few months, even though the creation of new warforged was outlawed, and the forges necessary for the process all destroyed. The implications of a newly created warforged, especially a titan, were troubling.

Continuing their course down river, the party found themselves shadowed by elves traveling a parallel course with them, escorting them to the city gates of a densewood fortress. The gates themselves were guarded by some sort of elven zombie, though it looked at them with intelligence, and even asked their business in the city. Introducing themselves and their quest to find Kylaear, the party was escorted into the city and to a smaller home in the temple district. There, they were greeted by an elf woman with a full skull tattoo covering her face, and an arm that looked like dead, preserved flesh, the skin dry and tight, but it moved with no hindrance.

“I am Kylaear, priestess of the Undying Court. I see my brother has gotten himself into some trouble he couldn’t escape from this time…” With the request to have Zrill resurrected, she pondered and decided she would have to take the matter up with the Undying Councilors. Unfortunately, only she had the authority to even approach their august presences. They would have to travel to Shae Mordai, the City of the Dead, spiritual seat of Arenal and the Undying Court.

They were all able to take a boat downriver this time, entering a city made of stone this time, with monuments and shrines filling the buildings and streets, all dedicated to ancient heroes, some of which still reside in the Undying Court. The streets were filled with elves, the strange living-zombie soldiers, and also some that wore flowing robes, carrying rods or staves, and lecturing gatherers. Kylaear let the party stop and rest at a nearby shrine while she entered a great cathedral/mortuary/courthouse, Zrill’s remains being carried by two zombie-soldiers.

It was the rest of the day the party had, viewing the monuments, epitaphs, and shrines of the city, until Kylaear, a robed dead-elf, and a quiet-looking Zrill walked out of the temple. Zrill wore the ornate white robe common in the city, carrying his more flashy clothes and equipment with him, as he was escorted by the elves.

He thanked his sister, bowed to the councilor, and greeted the party once more, not quite so flamboyantly as usual. He explained the council was easily able to resurrect him, but most of the time was spent in counsel and negotiation, explaining just exactly what was expected of the wayward wizard Zrill. “There appears to be some disturbance in the connection to the plane of Irian, the Eternal Day. Shae Mordai is built upon a manifest zone of Irian, and the Undying Court draws upon its power. Should anything happen to that connection, well, it wouldn’t be good. While I doubt much of anything could disrupt it, anything unusual sends a ripple through what is usually an eternal pattern. In any case, I, and by extension you all, have the duty to investigate what could be happening, and if necessary, put a stop to it…”

The party discussed what they might possible know of the situation, from the nature of the planes to what current force could possibly be working against it, and came up a bit empty-handed. With nothing much to go on, more investigation and research would be necessary, and the party knew one place a bunch of grubby adventurers could go for practical information put to violent uses: Morgrave University.

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Returning the Creation Pattern

With “Xulo” discorporated and the creation pattern and schemas safe, the party collects the scattered loot, the remains of Zrill, and descends the giants’ temple-observatory. Back outside, they take the air-skiff to the Order’s hidden airship, commandeering it for their personal use, all the while resisting Xulo’s calls and cajoling to piece him back together. They first stop at the harbor city of Stormreach to drop off the elven cleric Muroni.

“I serve the dragon Vuulaytherus. I study the Prophecy. You have allowed me to watch a particularly important verse unfold. I thank you, and Vuulaytherus thanks you. The dragons have marked you, so perhaps we shall meet again when the next verse reveals itself. Fare you well, my friends.” She bows, and takes her leave of the party.

They are able to fly back across the ocean to the city of Sharn, home of their patron, the Lady Elaydren d’Cannith. With her is Baron Merrix d’Cannith, whom she defers to. He is delighted by the recovery of the schemas and creation pattern, listening to any developments the party might relay, and shows equal interest in the rather ancient warforged Spikes that had accompanied the party since they found him in the ancient tomb of the celestials. Lady Elaydren gives the party their promised reward, and says she looks forward to their further business dealings.

After leaving the household and Sharn, the party returns to their home base in Eling’sha, back on the continent of Xen’drik, to finally resurrect their fallen comrade, Zrill. At this point, a man emerges from the hold, introducing himself as Zeffernious Kalistiren. As the airship approaches, however, several mundane and arcane ballistae turn and aim at the airship, and a party of guards ride out to meet them. Walter flies casually and lands the ship outside to meet the guard. The lead knight, a woman in a tabard with a silver flame on it introduces herself as Lady Argenvox and demands to know why a stolen, terrorist vessel is flying upon their city. Counting themselves lucky they weren’t shot out of the sky, perhaps only for being outside of range, the party explains they recently defeated the Order of the Emerald Claw and commandeered their ship. This mollifies the captain somewhat, and she agrees to allow them entry to the city to explain themselves to the council. In the mean time, her guards occupy the moored ship.

The temples have long since been underbid for healing services by the halflings of House Jorasco, and it is to their Healers Guild the party goes to find an adept powerful enough to bring Zrill back to life. Once there, the head adept examines the body and checks his identification papers (of which the party finds many copies, all in different names).

“Pretty mulched up, isn’t he? Missing a finger here too, weren’t able to find that in this mess, were you? Good enough for the job though, but—” He looks carefully at the papers he is holding, the excuses himself to a back office. He is there for several minutes before returning. “I’m terribly sorry, but we cannot do anything for you.” When prompted for more explanation, the halfling only says their friend “Zrill,” has been blacklisted by the house, and the guilds are forbidden from providing any aid. The party attempts to circumvent this through the local temple, but finds no success. The church of the Silver Flame refuses to perform resurrections, believing all who die leave behind a life of pain to find joy in the silver flame, which is in return, strengthened by the addition of souls. The church of the Sovereign Host would, given the time to prepare, but any assistance given to someone blacklisted would harm their own interests and ability to do business with the dragonmarked houses. Attempting to procure the expensive and rare material components would be obvious, and nobody who could supply them, will.

With not much more to go on, the party finds correspondence in Zrill’s documents between himself and a woman named Kylaear, on the island continent of Arenal. With that their only lead, the party packs up the airship to fly for the ancient continent of the elves.

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The Vault

The party was teleported to a large, wide chamber, too large for their light to completely fill. They were in the corner, at the top of five massive steps, 10 feet high, descending fifty feet into the chamber filled with buildinglike glowing pillars of stone. Metal and organic cords extended from each, roping around each other and leading to the far side of the chamber. Closer, however, was a humanoid figure at the bottom of the steps.

As the party ran down to confront the woman who disappeared, they saw her twisting and bending in pain, her features flowing like water into a thin, disheveled half-elf, then an emaciated man with dead-white skin and a thick scar between eye and ear. He holds the creation pattern in his hands and appears to be arguing with himself. “Fine! Take it and be gone from my mind!” he screams, flinging the creation pattern into the large chamber.

The party quickly races in and cuts down the shape-shifter and begin hunting for the creation pattern among the stones and thick cords. As they explore, they see a giant, thirty-foot humanoid shape standing in the darkness, the cords connecting to it on all sides like a massive web. It appears to be made of stone, metal, and other materials.

The party finds not only the creation pattern in the cords, but the forth schema on one of the pillars. A feeling comes over them, that it would be best to reunite the final schema with the creation pattern, completing it. When this happens, it begins to hum and glow with power, and a terrible voice, in no language and every language speaks to everyone’s mind:

“I… am… complete! Xulo is… whole!” This doesn’t seem to bode well to anyone, especially when the creation pattern flies over to adhere to the giant construct that looks like an ancient version of a warforged. “And now, Xulo has a body!”

“The pattern of the Prophecy forever unfolds in profound ways,” Muroni says. “This day, we have witnessed the culmination of one verse of the Prophecy, and the beginning of another.” A typical speech about the unfolding of the Prophecy she is here to witness.

There is no time for further discussion as the giant warforged/Xulo start to lumber forward and attack! While it tramples and slams at the party, Xulo lashes out mentally, sowing confusion and despair among the party. They rally, however, attacking the giant warforged and the cords that support and power it, eventually leaving it completely disabled. With some mental resistance, the creation pattern is removed from its host body and separated into its component schemas, to avoid further temptation or attack.

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Observations

Up the final set of stairs, the party immediately runs across piles of supplies for a large military force: dried meats, relatively clean water, dried fruit, flour, grains, linens. A couple of guards and a glyph-warded room guard another storeroom of wine, ale and other higher-end supplies.

Exploring the winding hall, they open the next giant door to see an especially large chamber with a large tile mosaic under a thick layer of dust. They seemed vivid through the concealment, but required a closer look. As the party went in for closer examination, the door suddenly slammed shut behind: a huge giant’s skeleton, and wielding an even more gargantuan morningstar of densewood and obsidian shards. The party attempted to organize a counter attack, but the giant quickly struck, grinding Zrill into a bloody, crushed pulp. Walter attempted to quickly reverse the damage, but it was too late. After dispatching the skeleton, they collected what they could of Zrills remains, then set about the more important recovery of the gargantuan morningstar. After lowering it to the forest floor by a rope, they could explore the rest of the level.

Moving north, they came to the largest chamber of all. The wall rise a hundred feet, with clifflike faces pocked with cavities and dark balconies. Gauzy webs crisscross the gaps, leaving the high sunroof concealed. The central feature of the great hall, however, is a titanic throne of stone and metal on a iron disk. On this disk were wooden crates, barrels, and a table cluttered with papers, pens, and measuring devices. The only movement comes from a rotund female in simple work clothes studying the inscribed iron disk.

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Up to the Temple

The party ascended the massive staircase to the second level of the giants’ ruin. There they came to a cyclopean chamber, too large to see the entirety of. In the center was another massive ziggurat, nearly reaching the 40 ft ceiling. A globe of daylight illuminated the top showing a mummy working on the glyphs covering the stone, and several more soldiers guarding on a lower level. After a short battle, the party stormed the ziggurat, slaying the soldiers, but the mummy fled after slinging a few magic missiles. Again, the glyphs were indecipherable, so the party moved on.

To the north were several smaller rooms, apparently warrens for the ancient elf slaves with a few surviving treasures. Nearby was a dreadful chamber with shining chains and hooks embedded in the walls, which still held brownish red stains. Quickly moving on, the party found a large room with a giant iron door exuding menace: there was a spray of bodies and remains around the door, still giving off a gangrenous radiance that rose like dissipating mist. The warforged steadfastly strode to the door and was able to shrug off the last remaining necromantic energy protecting it from intrusion. Inside was a chamber actually free of dust, a testament to the door’s protection over the millenia. Resting on the reliquary was a single, giant tooth, the Tooth of At-Ta-Ir.

Noticing there was another room without access from the inside, the party circled around the outer perimeter of the ruin’s edge. There they had to fight off several gorillas who attempted to push them off their nesting grounds. The next chamber, too, contained their central nest, as well as their leader, a great while, horned girallon. In the piles of fur and leaves, stinking of unwashed animal, there were several more coins and gems the apes had collected themselves.

Circling around the temple again, the party came to the southeast quadrant, intending to explore the next room. Here, however, was another deadly trap, revealed when the floor dropped away, flinging the warforged down a razor-lined chute to plummet 150 ft to the forest floor. Making his way back up to the temple, the party was able to carefully move around the chute to the door, revealing another clean and relatively small chamber with a pedestal. Walter noticed several glowing glyphs and wards, and was able to deactivate them before a pillar of flame engulfed them all. Their reward was taking possession of a crystal pane in a gold hoop, The Codebreaker.

After careful exploration and freeing any leftover treasures from the grip of dust and time, the party came to another huge staircase, spiraling up yet another level high above.

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Into the Darkness

After exploring the ground level of the giants’ ruin, the party made their way up the western set of stairs leading up. There they found a squad of soldiers with a large mechanical contraption at the door. After a brief scuffle, the party was able to use the great winch themselves to force open the ancient, and stuck, door. Unfortunately, it was holding back a torrent of water that immediately swept the party back down the staircase with a crashing. Most were able to roll out of the stream, but Varele the barbarian and Muroni the cleric were swept cleanly off the edge of the level to be sent flying fifty feet to the ground below. The fall would have surely killed the more fragile cleric, but Varele was able to catch her and break the fall with her own body. Walter quickly flew down to aid the elves and escort them back up to the party.

After the initial wave of water, there was simply a constant stream pouring out of the dark passage. Wading inside, they found a large ziggurat and two portals, through which a current of water seemed to flow from and into. Before they could investigate the portal too closely, they all felt a clammy sensation, and a tightness in their chests. They struggled to breathe, as though they were submerged in the two feet of water, and a pale, swollen form appeared from the darkness behind them. Some ancient, undead, drowned elf attacked the party, its unnatural aura sending Zrill and Muroni gasping for breath as they fell into the water. The party had to lift them to safely while fighting back the undead creature before they were all safe from drowing again.

Once they had their peace, they were able to more closely inspect the ziggurat. Though they had experience with languages and glyphs, and even guides to the ancient scripts of the ancient Xen’drik civilizations, they were not able to decipher the three large glyphs that covered the top portion of the ziggurat. Taking note of what they found, the party returned to the first floor to continue their search for the Emerald Claw and the schemas.

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