The portal to the Abyss had begun to open, and the only thing to be done was to head back to Brindenford and regroup.
It seemed there was only one lead from here. Determine who wrote the notes that sent both your group and Erro to Terregaunt’s Tower, find out what they know, and determine what was happening and how (or if) it could be stopped.
For the most part, the ride back was uneventful. Erro mentioned that he actually arrived shortly after you did, (after having received the letter), but that his entry to the tower was sealed by some sort of force. It was only after the Orb has been shattered that the door flew open on it’s own accord and Erro raced for the top of the tower.
The choice now was what to do about Maximilian. He revealed that he came along as he didn’t want to miss out on what appeared to be prophesy on the part of the, now revealed, Czarzem the Wicked.
After a few well put arguments with a sprinkle of threats, Max has agreed to be silent on the issue. Erro also agreed that keeping this on the down low for now is likely best. There’s no need to start a panic in the streets.
As Max left and you rode up to your home in the early dawn hours, something disturbing caught your eye; a trail of blood starting close to your front door leading inside.
Cautiously you crept inside and found the unconscious and bleeding body of an older elven male, collapsed on the floor of your foyer.
Right away, Neu went to work stabilizing his wounds and moved him into one of the empty rooms of the house. Though healing through magic and potions were performed, the stranger was, at best half conscious.
The group, exhausted has been up for nearly 24 hour straight and decided to try and get a few hours sleep while keeping watch over the elf. Erro mentioned that this was an elf named Lannor, who was in charge of a cheese vendor shop at the Marketplace, and that he wasn’t known to be involved in anything that should bring him harm. Erro said he’d return later that day, to check in on the status.
While he slept, the elf managed to shout out three things before returning to an unconscious state; “Danger… so much danger.”, “The Orb? They destroyed the Orb??”, and, finally, “Protect Nue… must protect.”
In the morning, the stranger finally came too, revealing himself as Nue’s father, Aurelious. While it would be safer for him to remain hidden, recents events are now forcing him to come forward. As for the attack, he has no recollection of it.
“I should start from the beginning, it seems…”
But, before he could begin he mentioned that they’re being watched. He had you set up 4 jewels in the corner of the rooms as a sort of anti-scrying measure. By this time, Erro had arrived at the hom and, once Aura was satisfied that everything was ok, he began..
“While I consider myself an accomplished adventurer, the same cannot be said about me as a father. Several years ago, I adventured, and fell in love, with a mage named Seresstique. While we fell in love and bore a child, we realized that neither of us would be able to care for a child, so we made the difficult choice to leave Neu with close friends at a Chapel in <town>.
“Not the most responsible thing to be done, but responsible enough when you’re involved with the type of activities that we’ve been seeking out to stop. Our paths led in different directions and I’ve not see Nue’s mother for many, many years. She was focused on finding the Dragon’s Delve to seek out any and all information on the Mages Four. My path was much darker.”
“For the past 20 or so years, I’ve been seeking out a group that refers to itself has “The Venom Cult”. They are seeking out… someone. All I know is that this someone will bare a mark, but I know not why it’s important. I do know that if it excites them, it cannot be good. I also know that they were involved with the disappearances that, in one way or another, led you all here.”
“I have a mark!!” exclaimed Masq, who immediately realized and regretted he had probably said it with his outside voice. Today may not be a good day.
After much prodding, Masq removed his mask revealing a large birthmark that took up the majority of the side of his face. Sadly, Aura could not confirm nor deny that this was the mark they were looking for.
“I knew that they had Nue in their sights so I sent her a warning message and she fled here with myself following. I wanted to keep an eye on her and make sure she was safe. You see, I’ve learned that asking about the Venom Cult is not a wise idea. I hired someone to do some digging for me and I’ve not heard from them again.”
“But, while in town, I sensed something else.. a growing darkness as if something something evil was gradually approaching. My own experience as a Magus with my curiosity, led me to discover that this area was undergoing what’s caused an “Abysmal Effect”, a way for the Abyss to assert itself into our Prime Material Plane.
It’s happen before, in history and has been beaten back, though I have not yet discovered how. I do know what affect will happen if it’s not stopped, that much has been made clear.
Within 10 minutes of the gate opening, several small demons will begin entering through the fissure. Roughly 10 minutes after that, the power of the gate will animate any and all corpses into Zombies, constantly reanimating them if they should fall.
Within a hour, the Effect will begin to enslave those closeby with Evil in their hearts, protecting the gate from intrusion.
Over the next couple weeks, with defences in place, more and larger demons will begin to come through and, within another two to four months, the effect will begin spreading across the countryside. How far it extends out is not known.
Terregaunt’s Tower, it turns out, was acting like a conduit to other-worldly energies. Violence in the area was causing these energies to become focused, and the Abymsal Effect would not be far behind.
Knowing this was coming, I fashion an Orb in an attempt to stop, or at least delay the effect from starting. The Orb fed off the energy that the tower was putting out and turned it towards where the gate would open.
Using magic, I made my way to the top of the tower and placed it there, creating it invisible to any Evil creatures. The pedestal on which it stood acted as a scrying mechanism so that I could keep an eye on it from afar.
But, yesterday, I saw you at the top of the tower, and saw you destroy the orb, too late for me to react, and I saw what followed. I should have come forward sooner…”
At this, Erro produced the letters left for him, “Then who sent me this, elf?”
“That’s impossible..” Aura stammered. “No one knew I was working on this. That isn’t my handwriting. I’ve sent letters to Nue that will show this.”
“Letters??” exclaimed Neu visibly upset. “I’ve only gotten a single one.”
“But, I’ve sent many…” Aura seemed lost in thought.
“Regardless!” exclaimed Boran. “We must put stop to big portal thing that Erin broke, or else may spell end to Erin’s Salvage Company… working title.”
“Then, there are a few things we must do, “ began Aura.
“First, it is no longer safe for me in town so I will keep to the shadows to learn what I can on how to stop the Abysmal Effect. If you learn anything, let me know.”
It was then agreed that to meet up, the group would lay a broken javelin head at the base of the rock that, allegedly, appears as the former statue of Duke Bryson Chrodille from time to time.
“Second, we need to gather allies. This group barely survived a single, though powerful demon. We need strength and numbers.”
“Third, I need you all to continue to grow and cultivate your power. You’ve been making great strides exploring the Dragon’s Delve and, although that route is exceedingly dangerous, it’s also likely the best way to grow.”
“Finally, we need to answer a few questions which should help us in our quest; who attacked me and/or sent the letters to Erro and/or prevented my letters from reaching Neu. What have the Venom Cult done with the missing people and is this related at all to the Abysmal Effect. Finally, we know that the demon Rivenyk is ultimately behind this. What are his motivations? Why do this now?”
With no further stories, Aura parted ways, though not on the friendliest of terms with his daughter. The rest of the group decided to spend the day preparing for a return to the Delve in the morning.
During that time, a rogue was hired to pick the Angel lockbox that was found in Terregaunt’s Tower. With in, a key with the name “Terregaunt”, exact in shape and size to three others found in the third level of the Delve. In it was also a note..
There’s more going on here than I first believed. Perhaps more than even the warrior Terregaunt realized when he commissioned this tower to be built. I had believed the unique aspects of its structure simply gave it strength as well as protect and preserve what lay inside. Now, I suspect the entire tower is a massive conduit channeling otherworldly energies. It is possible that the violence of the attack on the tower which liberated it from our enemy actually tuned this channel toward negative energies.
Until I can confirm or deny this theory, I bid you make certain that no further violence occurs within these walls. Even the most minor conflict may start a cascading reaction utimately transforming the tower into a portal directly to the plane of chaos and hate.
I shall leave Terregaunt’s key for the Prison here should you need to interrogate him regarding further developments.
“The Red Saint” Azasserah.
With preparations made, you set out the next day towards the Delve and were ambushed on the way by a group make up reminding you of the Bestial Host, though they’ve not been seen in this area since you defeated Ramscorn and used his red gem into tricking King Scrall into abandoning the area. Perhaps a note found in Goblin, on one of the bodies, will shed more light on this.
With this behind you, into the Delve you went, using the Red Saint’s Sceptre, found on the body of the half-celestial Uoto to bring down a force-field guarding stairs down.
As you followed these down, deeper into the Delve than you’ve have gone before, a feeling of transition overcame you, and you found yourself in a room with no stairway exits.
Though you’ve not explored far, you have come across nailmen constructs, a stuffed mastadon providing a heroic vision, feelings of transition as you move throughout the level as well as several symbols drawn on the ground that seem to tatoo anyone that steps within. So far, Nue and Masq have the words “Pha” and “Kul” on their arms.