Our story opened as the party made their way through the keep dominating what remained of the central district of Latpasa. They had come to the city, now overrun with shamblers, in search of the fate of the arcane core beneath the city. They found the keep mostly abandoned, save for the occasional sand shambler left trapped inside as a revenant of the guard corps that once manned the keep. Making their way to the former governor’s chambers, they discovered the well-hidden relics of his office- the sword, robes, and badged amulet- along with a note of congratulations from Raha Delina, Speaker of the Asad.
Moving deeper into the keep in search of an access or information on the reactor complex, the group began to find dead soldier who had not been turned into shamblers. All bore tattoos on their shoulders of a hawk’s head with the script “first of many”, identifying them as members of Latpasa’s elite guard corps. These guards had survived the initial assault on the city by the poisoned gas, and died later to something else while defending these barracks. The party went over the barracks with a fine-toothed comb, soon locating a secret door, but unable to force it open. Further search revealed the control mechanism in the next room, granting the party access to a large staircase leading down into warm, damp air below.
The reactor complex was far more sophisticated than any they had come across before, with multiple chambers of swirling, heated water connected by channels and unseen pumps. Open pools wafted steam into the air under the dim light of glowing channels along the vaulted ceilings. Searching room to room, the party quickly heard voices in a nearby chamber. Investigating, they found a man and woman arguing with each other. Confronted by the party, the man attacked and was put down relatively quickly, but not before he drew blood. Backing her into a corner, the party offered leniency to the woman in exchange for information on who they were, why they were in the complex, and how many more there were. Reluctantly, she told the party they were with the CoA, and were sweeping this complex (and others like it) for powerful and useful artifacts. She had specifically been looking in the complex library for links to nearby sites that could be plundered. The party found documents in the library that explained why the complex here was so… complex. Rather than powering defensive systems like other arcane cores, this reactor was being used entirely to keep a volcanic eruption at bay, the city having been built atop ancient magma chambers inadvertently, which became active again centuries later. Keeping their word, the party allowed her to escape as they moved deeper into the complex.
Soon, the party came upon another pair of cultists in another room. Zayn baited the pair into following her back to the waiting party in order to ambush them. The plan went well, and the two were overwhelmed quickly. In a desperate effort to call for help, one of the cultists threw a thunderstone hard into the main (and final) chamber of the reactor complex, releasing a shockwave of sound. Soon, more cultists poured forth from the rooms surrounding the main reactor chamber. 2 men armed with menacing blades moved forward against the party, backed up by two others slinging spells and brandishing the holy symbol of Ahriman. Tarsus successfully drew the attention of swordsmen, engaging them in a protracted battle as the two clerics were split up by the rest of the party. The combined assault from the rest of the party finally disrupted the support the cultist clerics were providing to the swordsmen, and they found themselves on the defensive against Tarsus and the rest of party. A fireball rocketed out of the darkness, announcing the presence of a new assailant. Following the trail back to its source, the party saw Sadeesh standing only a few yards away.
Sadeesh and the party volleyed spells back and forth for a few moments as they finished off the remainder of his cultists. Once he was left alone, Sadeesh disengaged with a cryptic statement about losing the battle but winning the war with what he recovered here. As he began to teleport away, Finn attempted to stop him with a Dimensional Anchor, but the spell failed. Sadeesh had prepared a number of defensive spells, including a barrier granting him immunity to such attempts. In a rush of collapsing air, he was gone. Concerned about the state of the core and whether Sadeesh and his followers had disabled it, the party rushed through the remainder of the complex trying to find an access to the core or its controls.
Unable to find access to the core, they did locate viewports that allowed them to see the still-functioning reactor. It seemed stable for now, at least. Sadeesh and his people had not succeeded in accessing it. They had cleaned out a trove of artifacts stored in the complex, however, ostensibly as future fuel sources for the core. The party found logs indicating what had been stored there, and went through the remnants to determine what was missing. A few minor items had been taken, several items had been left behind. The most concerning object that was missing was an evil artifact called Skullsoul. A repository for a powerful evil soul, it was believed to contain the remnants of one of Sayoni’s original consorts, and would spell real trouble if it were to return to her hands.
Our story closed with Sindar eventually locating an access to the core, as Zayn left to bring back engineers from Tulesa to help evaluate the systems and their stability.
The legislative delay while searching for missing Asad delegates has elapsed. Presumably, a vote has been called on the issue of naming new delegates and moving forward with a resolution for the Empire’s offer, but the results are, as yet, unknown.