Spectres of the Last War

Shadow Marches

Brand, Almehym, Kritos, and Buckskin Buckshot, still afflicted with filth fever, left Bren ir’Gadden‘s offices at the King’s Citadel, headed to House Jorasco for some healing, and then to House Cannith for their Breland-sponsored rewards.

At the Cannith forgehold, they are introduced to Quentin d’Cannith, a Dragonmarked member of the house who specializes in artifice, warforged, as everyone soon found out, prosthetic limbs…

Buck got some new armor that protects a wounded wearer from further harm. Brand received a cold iron amulet that protects the wearer’s mind. Almehym received gauntlets of ogre power, making the already brawny rogue even stronger. And Kritos was given a glass rod of arcane power—of which the tiefling seems unnaturally fond.

As the heroes were examining their new toys, an ominous rumble resonated through the complex, the arcane lift crashing down to Quentin’s laboratory, inoperable. Exclaiming in terror about his “experiments,” Quentin ran further into his lab, Almehym and Buck following sneakily behind.

Deeper within the Cannith forgehold lay Quentin’s latest grand design, a runic circle that stood at the center of two concentric rings of dragonshard lenses. Each ring was attuned to a different energy, the outer ring to ice, the inner ring to fire. All the lenses were focused onto the figure inside the runes, a warforged of unusual design. This warforged, unlike the more common variety, was studded with crystals glowing with the power of the machine as well as some sort of internal energy.

At the controls of the machine was a kobold. This kobold had warforged parts though, parts of its face, one of its arms. As the party rushed into the chamber, more “koborgs” poured in from a holding pen below. Quentin was quickly knocked out by a warforged-sized kick to the head. Almehym and Buck took out the kobold working the controls with ranged attacks, its death-throes knocking some levers askew and sending the beams of fire and ice skittering across the floor, burning and freezing all they touched.

The warforged at the center of the room, released from whatever control the energies had over it, quickly joined the party’s fight against the koborgs. He fought with an indomitable will, projecting force and lightning from his mind, channeled through his giant warhammer. The experimented-on creatures were tougher than they looked, and packed a Cannith-crafted wallop.

With their new ally, and Kritos working the controls of the device to freeze and burn the koborgs, the party was swiftly victorious. Buck slapped Quentin awake and the group proceeded with their usual heavy-handed interrogation techniques. Blackmailing Quentin with exposure of his research seemed to do the trick. He was working on a way to improve the warforged, and warforged prostheses by channelling the power of Thelanis, also known as the Feywild. Unit 314, as Quentin referred to the group’s new psiforged friend, was working willingly with the Cannith heir’s research… Until the crazed koborgs took control of everything.

This information intrigued both Kritos and Brand. Kritos owes his powers to an archfey called the Queen of Air and Darkness, something he has never spoken of, nor of the bargain he made to get them. And Brand was intrigued by the idea that part of Thelanis could be channeled into Eberron, given that his entire race is now trapped here. Could Quentin’s research be used to restore his people to their rightful homes?

With a favor owed to the party and the psiforged given his leave, the heroes returned to Jarim Rem Tasoy. The gnomish professor detailed some new information. He believes that the temple with the altar in the depths of Sharn was used in the Dhakaani war against the daelkyr thousands of years ago. The energy from sacrificial victims was channeled to the orcish Gatekeeper druids in the Shadow Marches to seal the connection to Xoriat, the Plane of Madness.

Believing the terminus to the energy mirrors must lie in the Shadow Marches, Professor Tasoy sent the adventurers to the village of Blackroot to meet with a House Tharashk envoy named Doria Veledaar. The Professor also had arranged lightning rail and overland travel with a House Orien caravan to the Shadow Marches.

Once there, they met the suspiciously suspicious orcish Sheriff of Blackroot, Toraash’Dorrm. Toraash told the adventurers that Doria and her whole family had left Blackroot to move to Sharn. Skeptical, the party went to search Doria’s house. There, Buck’s tracking skills were able to piece together the story of what happened. A group of people had entered the home, caused some violence, and taken someone out against their will, presumably Doria. Buck also found a creepy amulet of obsidian set around a mummified eye, as well as the broken tip of an obsidian dagger.

Back to the sheriff, and a brief interrogation/combat led them to follow the sheriff to a cave not far from the village. They fought some cultists on their way in, including two rather tough orc guards, and continued further into the subterranean complex. One of the orc cultists had a creepy symbiont tongue creature attached to its mouth with a poisoned barb. Some creepy glowing red text lined the walls of the first passage, which the new psiforged member of the party determined to be an endless scrawl of names, with the spiritual essence of the named creature embedded in the text itself. Not a good sign…

Past the hall of living words, more crimson text appeared, this time on the floor. Brand leapt safely across with typical eladrin grace. Buck, not so much, and the power of the text took control of his mind, causing him to sink an arrow into Kritos. Unit 314 and Almehym together were able to disarm the arcane trap, restoring Buck to the dubious amount of self-control he previously had. Chanting could now be heard coming from deeper down the tunnel system. An alcove with three defaced shrines was also found. Apparently this complex used to be a place of worship for Arawai, Balinor, and Olladra, three deities of the Sovereign Host.

The passage opened up to a larger chamber, full of cultists in the throes of religious ecstasy. The chanting was led by a dolgaunt, a creature the adventurers had faced before. Also in the room was another one of the tough orc guards, as well as a giant, two-pupil eye in the back of the chamber. Brand, mistaking his role in the group as a stealthy one, tried to sneak into the room behind the orc. The giant eye immediately turned to him and the fight began. The cultists weren’t much of a challenge, and Unit 314 dispatched several of them with a single blow. The orc and the dolgaunt put up more of a fight, but all said this battle was far easier than the one to get into the complex entrance. After the eye itself was defeated, after some attempted psychic attacks on the party, it shattered, revealing an expanded network of tunnels behind it. Brand also picked up another symbiont, this one attached to the arm and capable of entangling attacks.

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