Tl;dr: A group of adventurers by the thinnest of margins manage to have a few survivors after trying to tackle a Shadow Colossus containing two Elder Shards within a prison built just for it.
Future Adventure Notes:
•Two Elder Shards make things even more dangerous than one.
Session Title : Shard Hunting – Delta Squad – Part 1
Session DM : DGM
Session Date : 22 Jan 2022 @ 17:00 UTC – 23:00 UTC. (17:00 UTC – 04:20 UTC play time)
Session Risk : Not specified
•Bardy (Cleric 1/Bard 14) with Sisyphus the Pegasus (played by Tootired78)
•Eight (Monk 14/Wizard 2) (played by Konopa)
•Katla (Fighter 12) (played by Arden)
•Marcus (Cleric 12)(Deceased) with Echo the mount (played by Genthrock)
•Nog (Fighter 11) (played by Trulhammaren)
•Uzza (Warlock 15)(Deceased) with Ral the familiar, and Schrodinger the Sidekick (Displacer Beast 3)(Deceased) (played by Troy)
with special guest appearance by:
•Chemist (Rogue 1/Wizard 16) with Keri the Wight(Destroyed, but can be remade) (played by Wanderer)
Reeling and recovering from my latest adventure, lost some good people this time, more drinks required.
In Ruined Oak, Eight gathered us with the goal of finding an Elder Shard he found information on from poring through the logs. This Elder Shard was thought to be in an imprisoned Shadow Colossus. The way to the prison was known only by the entity known as Saa. (I believe it took some trial and error to locate the window to her home plane.) Marcus knew a pass phrase (I think he said “I need to speak with Saa”, alas, poor Marcus, may Ilmater’s grace encompass thee,) which when spoken caused him to disappear briefly, returning with a small red robed entity.
She Introduced herself to the rest of us as Saa with a voice in our heads, then produced a stone she could write upon. First she wrote “this is the custom” and offered one of her six hands on slim arms to shake. After being informed of our goal she said she could open a portal to the prison but that we should prepare first. We took the day to make some preparations, used magic to increase our survivability and ward against death, then rested for the night.
The next day, we regrouped by the portal at Ruined Oak. Saa wrote the following (not all at once obviously, her stone was not large enough). “I will open the gate to allow you to enter, I will not join you on your task. Destroy the target and the prison will collapse. Opening a gate will break the seal If you do not destroy the target it will exit where you entered. Do you wish to enter here or enter from another portal?”
It did not take us long to decide that if the target would escape where we entered, the portal we entered from must not be near any large settlements. We opted to take the portal to the ZHT portal area, surrounded by a frozen forest, to enter the prison. When we got there, Saa produce a small hexagonal shaped, six-coloured tool of some kind and began interacting with it and the portal device.
She started casting some magic when we felt pressure building in the area. We heard a loud pop noise and then above us, one of the massive floating Obelisks. Saa wrote (while casting! six hands is certainly handy,) “That was not supposed to happen I broke no promise.” (I wanted time to query more about this promise and to whom it was but this was not it.)
Above us the Obelisk began emitting a large red light, that surrounded us. Part of the Obelisk opened up. Darkness obscured within. Something began to float down out of the Obelisk. Quickly we recognized the governor of AFK, Chemist, as he descended down. Chemist seemed confused, said he had been in his office and then suddenly was here, but assumed if the Council had brought him here it did so with a reason. The words “Ensure, entrap, injure” echoed around the area.
We asked Saa about her promise to which she wrote “Unexpected. Not interfere. Not allowed to free them.” Saa seemed wary of Chemist at first, wondering if he would be hunting her or helping us in our task. We told Chemist what we were doing and he agreed to come along. (That the Council would help us by sending Chemist to us was a clear signal that what we were doing was not only incredibly dangerous, but necessary.)
Saa resumed her work on the portal device, and after some time, a portal opened up. Unlike typical portals, this one was crackling and unstable. Saa wrote “it is ready. Best of luck, I expect it will be dangerous.” and we went through. The transition from the bright white sun light of the snow covered forest to the darkness of this prison was almost staggering. Eerie, gloomy darkness as far as any of us could see, no light anywhere.
In front of us was a structure. Lacking any other points of interest we approached. Eight (who could see further than I could) noticed ahead were some spider-legged goblins. He asked if they were hostile to which they replied with curiosity at first. (calling us fresh meat in the process) They had no skill at lying, saying they were friendly and for us to go to them, while commenting on how much meat we were and how hungry they were.
Nog, (who apparently knows a thing or two about hunger) said they could have his food sack (I think it was enough to feed thirty people, but he is a larger fellow, maybe he needs more.) The goblins were confused initially at the idea of being given food, but eventually realized they could simply take the food and run. As they were leaving, we asked the last if they knew where the Colossus was. It said “sacrifice?” and then pointed toward the gate of the building we were heading toward.
After they left, some of us were bit some sort of massive mosquito capable of doing so without being noticed but once noticed they were quickly killed. We approached a gate flanked by two ruined towers, one more than the other. Uzza (she will be missed, hopefully her soul did not end up in the Hells) had Ral fly around one while Eight climbed around another. A mechanism to open the gate was found and used. Behind the gate was a large cavern, with a damaged bridge spanning a void of some kind, emitting light. (it certainly was not water.) The bridge led to an island over the void.
Within the depths of that void was a massive moving form, serpent-like, visible bones and ribcage. We tentatively began crossing the bridge. A short distance in, we were attacked by creatures skittering up the sides, saying in ghastly voices how lonely they were and asking to be held. They grappled their victims and seemed capable of transferring some of the pain they experienced to their grappled victims. Katla telekinetically pushed two of them off the edge of the bridge while the other two died swiftly.
There was a gap in the bridge that we needed to find a way to get across. After some debate, we asked Uzza to send Ral over to scout the other side, and see if that massive creature reacted to Ral going over. It did. Hoping that Sisyphus could fly people over fast enough, we sent him over with Nog riding, but that massive creature moved like lightning and snatched Sisyphus in its mouth. Nog jumped across while I unsummoned Sisyphus to spare him the pain of dying. (Nog thoughtfully grabbed the saddle)
Seeing as flying across was out, Uzza provided a scroll of wall of force which Chemist used to make a walled path for us to hustle over. At the end of the bridge on the island was a castle with a large central gate. To the side was a smaller gate blocked by a portcullis. Approaching the castle, we felt a field of suppression that we determined prevented any form of travel, or magical travel, or planar travel from the inside of this castle to the outside.
We decided to use the smaller side gate, with Nog lifting the portcullis and Eight and Ral finding a mechanism to keep it up. After we enter the castle, I took a moment to resummon Sisyphus and others cast some ritual spells. We were inside the castle and ended up exploring the entirety.
The northern side of the castle was lined with battlements. Positioned at intervals were towers that had rooms below. High above the battlements were massive chains that all lead to the central area (arena might be more apt). Arranged on the battlements were magic-imbued ballistae, ready to shoot with no ammunition apparent, pointing inwards towards the central area. In the central area, on the east side was a stone horn. There was a closed gate north of the central area.
Inside some of the rooms were mundane weapons and supplies, and places where soldiers slept or ate. We found some scrolls in some old scroll cases, most aged into dust. One section of the battlement was destroyed, and had the bones of a serpentine humanoid. In one room there was some meat being processed, similar to the gremlins from before, not as ancient as the rest of the castle, but still quite old.
Beyond some large doors on the south edge of the central area, were the bodies of many elves and half-elves some still sitting in their chairs. They had no marks on their bones and looked like that all died instantly, falling over dead. (The interior here was lit by some ancient magic torches, emitting a gentle purple glow. I believe Chemist took one for his office.) Exploring the hallways that led out from this chamber, we found another gate mechanism.
When it was activated, we heard a gate open and a palpable sense of change coming from the central area. An ominous waiting quiet, some how quieter than before when we passed through. (The next time we entered the central area we were attacked by the Shadow Colossus.)
On the floor above the room we found study with a map covered with an unusual black magical shroud imbued with a purple mist. The map was of an area northeast of the Glern Vale and the Buqa Marsh. East of Port Mirandia. There were markings made east of the Jubai Wastes and around a large mountain area to the northern side. We think these markings were locations of interest to whomever made the map. Named on the map are Ranhold Citadel, Yardway Citadel, and Keystone Keep.
On the map is a note, some of which is obscured by other objects, or aged to dust. The visible parts read, “….. food production has increased under Lords Snazmig Grimdelver new policy…” “…. Policy to be reviewed by central body ……..” “….. Lord Snazmig Grimdelver has not responded to recent communications ….. Invasion of foreign nation ….. Raising army has been successfull ……” “…. Empire lays waste to millitary and civilians alike ….” “… They rain death from the sky …. ” … we will destroy — — — —- break pact with — — —- —— to syphon more power ….“
Chemist says that this refers to dark elves, and that he killed Snazmig Grimdelver to retrieve an Elder Shard. He had been ordered by “the entity” to retrieve it from the dark elf, and postulated that Snazmig Grimdelver had betrayed it. (I should probably find out what this entity is.) Chemist examined the shroud, declaring it almost a physical manifestation of shadow, augmented magic. His hands can touch the shadow but not pass through. We dispelled the shadow shroud with magic and grabbed the maps and the books in the room.
Above that room was a bedchamber, with a heavily trapped door. Eight managed to unlock it, bypassing the trap. Inside were several more shadow shrouded objects. Chemist dispelled them (maybe I did one). We found some powerful magic items in here, as well as a logbook, written by either a warden or the captain of the guard. (the word is ancient and could mean either.) This warden noticed that their belongings had been secured safely and that they were planning to attack something.
(Here we made a strategic choice, we knew the items might be useful in the upcoming battle but decided against taking the oppurtunity to attune to them, not knowing how much time we had.) After finding the items we returned to the room that held the dead elves.
Uzza (I wish she had been more careful) opened the door to the central area and instantly a massive orb of necrotic energy hit many of us, hurting greatly. This hailed the start of a lethal combat.
The Shadow Colossus and four wraith like creatures attacked before we could move. It was pure chaos. Some of us tried to get closer to the Shadow Colossus, others tried to deal with the wraiths. In the first moments of the fight Uzza and Nog were down, Nog dying.
We tried various tactics before Katla said for someone to blow the horn, which I did. The horn focused the Shadow Colossus solely upon me and I barely survived. We remembered the ballistae and started trying to aim them at it but before we could fire one, it unleashed a powerful psychic scream that rendered me insensate. (the rest I only know from being told)
Uzza survived longer but was eventually killed. Marcus was also stunned by the scream, as was Chemist, who managed to shrug it off. Eight, Katla, Chemist and first Keri and then the wraiths that Chemist used his power to control started shooting the ballistae at the Shadow Colossus. They shot out massive bolts with magic chains attached, binding it in place. It could use its darkness to escape.
Marcus never recovered, being killed by more wraiths the Shadow Colossus summoned. I was taken down by a wraith that left me to die. Eight was killed while Katla and Chemist were downed, but a wraith Chemist had control over managed to kill the Shadow Colossus with a ballista bolt before it killed him. It was a miracle any of us survived at all.
I was awoken by Chemist, who asked me to heal anyone I could. I was only able to heal Katla. Voices speaking gibberish (to me, it seems Chemist and those who took a shard later could understand them) started emanating from the corpse of the Shadow Colossus. Surprisingly, two Elder Shards started rising up. Chemist asked Katla to throw Eight’s dead body at one, hoping for another miracle.
Katla does as bade and the shard pierced into Eight’s chest, then entered him. His wounds closed and he was alive but unconscious, some healing allowed him to wake. Katla touched the other shard with her hand, which it pierced and then entered her. The same voices I heard earlier began to emanate from Eight and Katla, who both also emitted (and continue to do so I believe) a purplish mist.
All three of them said we need to run. The castle began to violently shake, the island it is built upon was collapsing. We gathered all the bodies, (Marcus’s ostrich Echo somehow survived it all, proving to be invaluable at the end for bringing everyone home.) and began running for our lives. Stone fell toward us, pushed aside by Katla’s telekinetic gift or caught by a wall of force from Chemist.
We got to the broken bridge and I enlarged (from a scroll) to begin dimension dooring Echo and Katla (who was also larger than typical from eating on of Nog’s cakes I think.) I heard more gibberish and looked back to see Eight and Chemist running along the back of the massive creature from before, (possibly communicating with it?) while it dove between the chains as they broke apart.
As we got to the portal and glanced back, the entire prison was breaking, We rushed through the portal and went from the darkness to being covered in a bright red light. The obelisk scanned the portal for some moments and seemed content. The red light closed the portal, then the obelisk blasted away, (I have no idea where.)
We took the portal back to Ruined Oak where we only managed to raise Nog from the dead then ended our adventure.
Shortly after, I followed Eight out of curiosity to Port Mirandia. Eight went into the new shrine there, and lay his hands upon it, and the mist he emitted was drawn into the shrine. Then I watched a marvel unfold. Suddenly one, then more, friendly short, glowing-eyed creatures appeared from the mist. That was the beginning of many other stories.