Cole, Noran, and Spender rested up after the fight. (Unfortunately, Rory was found out as the worst sort of traitor for some reason, so Spender turned him into a toad and ate him, but kept his fancy armadillo hat for himself.)
Thorax and Captain Cadaver disembarked from ships in the harbor, making way for refugees. Captain Cadaver pretended to be a gravedigger in flashy clothes, collecting corpses and commandeering a cart with two donkeys (Edgar and Allan.) While Thorax inquired into current events, Captain Cadaver piled up corpses with Noran’s help.
Noran turned Eric over to his family and got a reward. James showed up with the cart full of our supplies, and Wolf along with other refugees gathered from the city. Pleased to have their cart of money and goods back, the Company took the Mirror of Boomaxle taken from the Ruins of the Bear and gave it to a refugee cleric of Boomaxle to take to a temple.
Spender asked who was willing to investigate events in the city further, and the party agreed. That night Spender commandeered Meleena’s tent—she was a drunk servant of the queen, who did not object, and Thorax spent the night there too. Others slept in the open, except Captain Cadaver, who enjoyed the company of the dead in the cart.
Into the City Again
The next morning Donbar, the dimensional wizard, rode into camp on his golem’s back. He consulted with Captain Skylar, of the Red Star mercenary company. They took a small entourage into the city, and Spender’s Company followed. Eavesdropping was difficult in the mist, so they approached to participate in the conversation as the group regarded the monoliths and the massive black pyramid (20 meters tall) thrusting up through the remains of the keep.
As they walked towards the center of town, Cole’s sharp eyes saw a bit of gold. He pocketed it.
Donbar had privileged access to dwarven history/memory (in their culture, the same thing.) Their most ancient writings had record of something like this, but those records were considered untrustworthy and possibly heretical.
Basically, long ago there were natives of these islands called the Assail. They conquered the proto-dwarves that lived here, and they looked like neanderthals with an extra joint on their fingers. The dragons came to the island to rest and heal in their war with the gods. The dragons killed the pantheon of gods with avatars that the Assail worshiped. The Assail gathered the corpses of their gods and conducted a ritual to absorb the remains of the cosmic energy to themselves, becoming undying enemies of the dragons as an eternal duty. Much later, the dwarves conquered the territory.Malfas, the Disciple (considered by the Skylar to be a power-hungry jackass) may have done something to disturb the Assail, whose structures and soldiers plague Claveria. Of the 2,000 inhabitants of the city, maybe 1,000 will escape.
Cole spotted an entrance to the pyramid. The Company decided to take a look on behalf of the island’s rulers. To prepare, Captain Cadaver raised a monster built of human corpses, named Agangle. Thorax noted there were no insects in the city. Then the Company ventured into the black stone pyramid.
They passed writing on the walls that they could not read, and as they explored they found five massive statues modeled on the Assail body types. Beyond that, they found an orrery of translucent illusion magic, with a seat in the center. One of the undying Assail spotted them, and vanished magically. Spender realized the orrery was set up to mirror the sky visible from here, today.
Climbing a ladder on the far side, Cole and Spender found a green crystal above a viewing chamber from the top of the pyramid. Spender tried counterspelling and energizing the crystal, and it drank in magic energy but was also willing to release a powerful charge. Cole heard from his goddess that the prey lie below this chamber.
This interference attracted the attention of a green will’o’wisp that they followed deeper into the pyramid. There they met the pyramid’s dark master, who telepathically communicated with the Company while three undying experts tended the crystal at the heart of the pyramid.
Spender chatted with Onos Al-Malik. Onos suggested only five of them were awake; the technician in the orrery, his three consultants tending the crystal, and himself. He apologized for the disoriented rampage of his troops earlier, and said that would not happen anymore. He seemed sad that the “servants” (humans) had been damaged by their arrival, as he would need them. He explained they had returned because they were summoned or beckoned, and their task compels them.
A female dragon on an island north of San Pascal was defeated by the Assail, but so few were left they could not kill her. They bound her instead, and she was working her way free. Their task was to deal with her.
No other tribes have awakened, but Onos planned to raise an army from here, resting and recharging, to march north. Just to deal with the dragon. Of course.
The Assail had armor resembling that of their constructs, and Onos had a bladed staff with a green orb much like their power source. Dessicated and withered, with broken bones and bodies in poor shape, the Assail were still connected to their power source.
Spender and Company thanked Onos for the conversation and headed out. One of the Assail technicians, from the Orrery, met them at the entrance. A weapon, dragon claw carved with an x cross-section blade and a curve, caused them trouble. Spender graciously took it with him.
Here is a map of the pyramid.
After a discussion with Skylar and Donbar, several things were decided. A small delegation would be left as everyone else evacuated, and they would continue conversations with Onos trying to learn all they could and being passive-aggressive (through innocent messengers). The mist allowed the Assail to know all that was done or thought within it. Messengers would gather enchanted dragon parts here in case fighting the Assail became necessary. Spender’s Company would head north to San Pascal.
Donbar headed off through the mist, so possibly the Assail knows all that conversation. Donbar prepared to leave, and after a night in town, Spender’s Company hit the road.
Before they left, Captain Cadaver animated a charred skeleton from the burning corpse pits to keep Agangle company.
The Road to San Pascal
Three and a half days of travel brought them to the south of San Pascal. During the journey they found obelisks thrusting up from the ground here and there, and a falcon was following and watching them. As they approached the northern end of the island, they saw trees lumbering very slowly north, and Spender sensed overlapping enchantments that used animals to spy on them and uprooted the local wildlife. Since they were on the Causeway road, built on a ley line, Spender suspected the dragon and Assail energy tug-of-war might be involved.
They reached a barricade south of town. A woman asked them to join the apocalypse, and Spender revealed they knew about the Assail and the dragon. The woman’s bodyguards started shapeshifting into dragons, only to be mowed down by archers as Spender turned the messenger woman (a mindless slave of the dragon) into a skink.
While the Company battered one young dragon down, Spender turned the other one into a turtle (possibly for questioning.) Then the falcon that had been shadowing them opened its beak like a loudspeaker, and the dragon started gloating. Spender blew the bird up.
That’s it until next time!