Chronicles of Khaldun: Crux of Eternity

Revenge of the Giants, Part 4

Sunday, Harvester 23, 552 CY (50 AN)

Having retired to Obanar’s sitting room in the Guardian’s Tower, Bezaldooz, Bosabrieln, Peren, Torinn, and Valna proceed to discuss the things that have transpired. After serving refreshment, Obanar explains that the Shields of the Sorrowfell are currently in the city of Argent, the haven of the Champions of the Silver Cloaks. An abandoned ghost town, he and Rrowthar are Argent’s sole remaining residents. The Silver Cloaks were representatives of the construct known as the Paragon Compact. In the aftermath of the Dawn War, the deities made as series of deals with mortals, crafting the Paragon Compact. Since that time, the civilized nations have sent their representatives to Argent to uphold the Compact; any world-ending threats, like demons, aberrations, primordials, and the like, were the purview of the capable agents of the Silver Cloaks. However, fewer and fewer nations sent their representatives; the human empire of Nerath was one of the last holdouts, but even they have sent no one in nearly a century. The Shields inform Obanar that Nerath fell fifty years ago, which explains much. He continues his tale and answers their questions, explaining that giants have been uniting in numbers not seen since the Dawn War. They have marched on Argent, and Obanar believes they will march on key locations in the world. He further suspects that they are their elemental allies are attempting to free a caged primordial. Indeed, the elementalist that stole something from a vault took a piece of the divine engine the deities used to imprison the Primordial known as Piranoth, typically revered as the creator of earth, fire, and frost giants, and master of the accompanying elements. This threat must be stopped; the giants’ march must be stopped, and the primordial cannot be freed. Obanar will explain what is involved on the morrow; for now, the Shields should rest. Rrowthar will show them to their chambers in the Hall of Champions.

Upon awaking, Rrowthar contacts the Shields and leads them back to the Guardian’s Tower to discuss future events. Obanar explains that he and Rrowthar will remain to watch over the city and make any necessary preparations for the coming events. He explains that three options currently present themselves: the Shields can attempt to track down the torrians who once acted as stewards of the city, they can acquire the “sky metal” so that Obanar can craft the implements of Argent that will help them in their travels, or they can track down the other pieces of the divine engine that imprisoned Piranoth. Obanar recommends they begin by finding the torrians so that he can start restoring the city; the Shields agree to this course of action. Obanar says he can prepare potions so that they can view what happened when the torrians left many years ago, and he leaves to do so.

After a few minutes, Obanar returns, instructing them to drink the potions in the field outside the torrian proctor’s house. The Shields depart, and when they find themselves in the field, they drink the potions.

Immediately, everything changes. A mist springs from the ground, and as the Shields merge with it, they find themselves amidst the ghostly forms of Argent as it once was. Dozens of torrians stand in the field, waiting expectantly at the proctor’s house. The door finally opens, and a torrian figure the Shields automatically recognize to be Thror, the proctor of Argent, appears. Thror begins speaking of how Argent has faded, its guardians and champions scattered, but somebody named “Physandos” has offered them a home in the Sheltered Woods, to the west of the Plains of Chaos. However, despite the ravages of time on the vision, the Shields notice that all is not right — Thror is wearing a signet ring of an ancient cult dedicated to Oublivae, the demon queen of ruin and destruction, and the ruler of the Barrens, the 100th layer of the Abyss. Indeed, as he speaks, he is subtly forming arcane gestures and mesmerizing the crowd until they agree to anything he suggests. As dark influences begin weaving through the crowd, the torrians agree to leave, and the vision ends.

Curious to learn more about the vision, the Shields decide to investigate the proctor’s house. After searching for about an hour, they find a secret door that they note to be locked and trapped with some manner of arcane trap. Working carefully, they manage to disarm the door and unlock it. They sift through papers to learn that Thror was accepting payments of gold from Physandos, and Thror was apparently hiding some grand plan from the rest of the torrians. The papers are tainted by dark magic, suggesting that Thror was enticed by gold and fell powers to pledge himself and his people to Physandos and leave Argent. The magic definitely seems demonic in origin.

The Shields return to Obanar with this information. He indicates he knows the location of the Sheltered Woods, and can send them there, but they must be prepared to use the Argent Portal ritual to return. The Shields acquire some alchemical reagents to enact the ritual, and then allow Obanar to cast his own ritual to send them to the torrians’ new home.

As the scene shifts around them, the Shields appear in an ancient magical circle in a clearing in a deep wood. A swiftly-moving river flows to the east, and the smoke and sounds of a settlement rise beyond the river. Peren quickly spots several torrians hiding behind large boulders, and after some brief discussion, Bosabrieln attempts to parley with them. The torrians begin to whisper madly before chanting, “For Physandos! For Physandos! For Physandos!” Suddenly, battle is joined.

The pair of torrians on the near side of the bank move from behind their boulders to engage the Shields. A guard on the far side of the bank tries, and fails, to leap across the river, while two more torrians use slings to hurl rocks across the river. As the torrian in the river is swept to the south, Peren and Torinn move to engage the others while Bezaldooz, Bosabrieln, and Valna attack them with spells. Making short work of the two torrian guards, the water-logged torrian manages to crawl out of the river only to be swarmed by the Shields. Despite his combat prowess, the torrian is unable to withstand the onslaught of five trained combatants, and is quickly defeated.

As the Shields have been weathering the attacks of the torrian slingers, Bezaldooz activates his portal gun and creates a set of portals bridging the river. The Shields quickly use the portals to cross the river, and then engage the stealthy torrian slingers. As the first is quickly dispatched, the second begins retreating north. Peren and Torinn move to engage, but Torinn accidentally walks into a hidden arcane trap — a wall of force that dumps him into the river. He manages to leap back onto land, shaken but unharmed, and rejoin the battle. As he and Peren corner the last torrian, Bezaldooz, Bosabrieln, and Valna cast spells at the creature from a safe distance. Like the others, it is quickly dispatched.

After resting, and finding nothing valuable on the torrian guards, the Shields of the Sorrowfell advance to the settlement to the east. They spy a village populated entirely by torrians, although all members — men and women, adults and children — share in tasks equally and do not engage in conversation as they work. Bezaldooz attempts to sneak closer to get a better look, but is quickly spotted by one of the torrians.

Suddenly, every torrian in the village has stopped working and is looking at the intrusion.

An aged torrian steps forward and introduces himself as Gruthow, the leader of this village. Bosabrieln steps forward to parley and explains that they have traveled from Argent to return the torrians to their ancient duties. At the mention of these ancient oaths, the torrians seem agitated. The Shields quickly determine that they seem off. They are broken and cowed, speaking as if they are being monitored and generally acting as slaves expectant of the lash.

However, the line of questioning is quickly broken as Gruthow breaks into a strange smile, emits a strange, shrill voice, and begins asking about Obanar. He reveals himself as Physandos, and asks if they would wish to join his band of followers. As “Physandos” speaks, he jumps from villager to villager, alerting them that he is some manner of potent demon, definitely manipulative and possessive, and likely insane. As Bosabrieln presses in his questions, Physandos gets more shrill, threatening to destroy the torrians before releasing them. As the torrians begin to advance as one, the Shields engage in a manner of exorcism ritual to drive the demonic force back. The clash of wills is draining to them, but they manage to convince the torrians to fight back, finally sending Physandos fleeing from them in a black cloud of demonic energy.

Gruthow asks the Shields to finish this business by following Physandos and slaying the creature. They agree, beginning the trek into the nearby mountains from the village.