Our story opened as the party gathered and secured the cultists that had barely survived their battle inside the core complex. When the efforts of Finn and Sindar set to interrogate them came up mostly empty, Zayn and Tarsus returned to Tulesa via teleport to retrieve the engineering staff and deliver the prisoners to the custody of Falat and Dingo, leaving them to get to the bottom of things.
Finn delved into the darker end of his divine powers, summoning the incantations to speak with one of the dead cultist corpses. Asking a series of careful questions, he learned the the cultists had not been able to gain access to the core, but they knew that the item currently powering it was an evil item intended to allow priests to utterly destroy one another. Sadeesh had been looking for a specific item, and seemed to have found it before he left. The cultist only knew it as “the key to the one who knows the way”. The remnant spirit knew that arcane cores in An Fallu and Jaleraba had already been searched and looted, and that the next planned target had been Kaleska. Sadeesh was most likely to be found in a place called the “Singed Halls”.
While in Tulesa, Tarsus bartered with Balasar to discover what the Singed Halls were, and discover anything he could about the artifacts taken. Balasar knew only that the Singed Halls were a profane temple to Ahriman, and were once the remains of a temple to Goyetra called the Flaming Halls, which were in turn a repurposed subterranean complex built by an earlier civilization. He did not know much about the artifacts that the party did not already know.
Tarsus and Zayn returned to the Latpasa core complex with the Engineers from Tulesa, led by Graja. After catching up a bit to the work already completed by Sindar and Finn, the engineers sorted out how to access the hidden control room, and in turn, the core. Buried in the access door to the core chamber, they found a large, ancient-looking metal spike wrapped in decorative wire and ringed with mysterious glyphs. It pulsed slowly in the metal of the door. Attempting to remove the spike so they could operate the door latch, engineer Hilo grabbed the spike and was instantly obliterated. A bright beam of light from the spike reduced him to a greasy dust, scattering it across the room and its remaining occupants. Always interested in organic remnants produced in interesting ways, Sindar took a sample of the residue and determined that it was organic, but not human. Attempts at identification from Finn and Zayn, assisted by Graja, revealed the item to be a maleficus spike, which reacts rather violently to the touch of evil outsiders. Hilo had not been what he seemed, but was apparently yet another enemy agent in their midst.
The inevitable result came to pass, with the party and engineers all glaring threateningly at each other until everyone touched the spike one at a time. No further incinerations taking place, they finally removed the spike and opened the core access right after shutting it down from the control room. Quickly making their way to the core bottom, they opened the storage compartment meant to hold the magic item powering the core. The talisman inside at once reached out to Zayn to take it up and wield its power, it so longed to be free of this place. She could sense the pure evil oozing off the artifact, and managed to resist its lure. Quickly closing the compartment, they began to retreat from the room. It seemed everything was in order here, and the power source for the core was in the best place they could imagine for it. Already, deep rumbling from the earth below them was beginning to make normal speech difficult to interpret.
As the last person exited the core compartment, they closed and sealed the door and Finn led the effort to restart the core. A few minutes later, it was again bathed in a maelstrom of heat, sinking it in an ice storm it continuously generated inside the small chamber. Realizing the spike had been placed in the door to stop intruders- likely during the first hours of the city’s fall- the party hammered it back where they found it. Deciding to rest after returning the engineers to Tulesa and before deciding their next move, the party bedded down for the night in relative safety. Before turning in, Finn decided to complete a Sending to the Watcher of Chamber Valley, hoping she might have insight to some of the more troubling artifacts they had uncovered. She told him to dream that night, and they could talk then.
True to her word, that night Finn found his dreaming self in the Watcher’s Grove, with her standing nearby. She confirmed his suspicions about a strange, spherical jewel found among the other artifacts- it was an orb of golden dragonkind, allowing the wielder near absolute control over a golden dragon nearby. She told him that it was the last of such artifacts that remained unrecovered, showing him the vault where the others were secreted away. He swore to return it to her as soon as he was able. She took an obvious liking to the young elf, and told him about the artifact he described Sadeesh fleeing with. It was Skullsoul, an already damnable invention that could trap a soul and turn it to a demi-lich in undying service to the artifact’s wielder. But the soul this particular artifact happened to contain was special, in that it was very likely to be the trapped soul of one of Sayoni’s original consort priests, imprisoned in an attack on their collective tomb hundreds of years ago. While her consort would be a powerful ally for anyone that could control him, that was not his greatest danger. His most potent contribution to the cause of Sayoni (and in turn, Ahriman) was that he still likely knew the exact location of her tomb.
Our story ended as Finn’s dream communication ended, and he instead drifted into less guided dreams of the beautiful feminine elven form of Dyphonaira, the Watcher.
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.