Our story opened as Finn arranged Sendings to various allies, including a message to Teegan to ask for his aid in Tulesa. Teegan’s reply was terse, but seemed to be an agreement to help. In short order, Zayn returned from her business in Tulesa via teleport, and the Seachild got underway again across the sands. During an evening stop to change fuel cells, Sindar was sure he saw something glint in the sky to the east, but could not make out anything when he looked there directly. Staying alert, he cautiously completed the operation and told the others what he saw as the ship got moving again, but nothing more seemed to come of it.
A few hours later, with Finn piloting and the rest of the group milling about with all the new free time the rings of sustenance granted them, a loud crack disturbed the relative calm of the constant desert winds. Bright pulses of purple and blue reflected off the sands ahead of them as the sky seemed to open up. Tacking the Seachild hard to one side, Finn brought the ship up short as a familiar figure came tumbling out of the void. Selkirk hit the sand with a hard thud, rolling off of someone he had with him. As the figure stood, the party recognized Oxyr. There was no time for questions, however. Moments behind the pair, monstrous humanoids made of shifting, inky shapes tumbled out of the portal and onto the sand, and made straight for the pair of men still getting their bearings. Jumping the gunwales of the Seachild as it skidded to a halt, the party literally leapt into the action.
Though fearsome to look at, the oversized shadow beasts were no match for the party, by now gaining some proficiency in inter-planar combat with beings of the Shadowfell. While Tarsus kept the attention of the things as best he could manage, Zayn did all she could to minimize their effectiveness. With Finn bolstering the party and effecting a rescue from the rear, Sindar began flinging glassy globes of death with wild abandon, ending the fight before their opponents could really organize an offense. As Finn loosed a final channel to halt the progress of any grievous injuries, Selkirk related his journey to complete the task the party had set for him. While Oxyr was still delirious and recovering, Finn quietly removed the Blazing Sun from his neck, and put it safely away.
Selkirk’s investigations had led him first to Aridesa, which he found as mostly a smoking crater. He found one cultists digging through ruins there, and eventually followed him back to a nearby camp, which Selkirk levelled and then sifted for clues. These led him to artifact digs dotted across the desert, and eventually caught up to Oxyr himself. Oxyr seemed to be out of it, trailing some scrolls behind him as he wandered around. Oxyr eventually focused and asked Selkirk who he was, and Selkirk told him. Then Oxyr asked him, “will you come with me?” When Selkirk agreed, thinking to learn more of the mystery the man was looking for, he suddenly found himself plane-shifted to the Shadowfell and almost instantly beset by its denizens. Oxyr ran off jabbering about “find the lens,” while Selkirk burned through spells, scrolls, and wands to keep them both alive. Finding a temple (or being led to it by Oxyr), Selkirk became aware of a voice telling him how to use a reflecting pool in the temple to scry across planes and find the party. He did so, and once he had the proper focus, he used the pool to open a temporary portal back to the Material Plane. Only then, momentarily relieved of his panic, did he realize that whatever had told him how to use the pool was really using him to help find the party.
Oxyr told the party he fled after Sadeesh’s attack on Aridesa, realizing at last the responsibility he bore for Sadeesh. He described to the party the warped nature of the mirror that connects the Material to the Shadowfell, and how much of what is here is also there, in one form or another. Not originally evil, but warped. Now, with the near total takeover of the plane by a single entity, much of what it is has become evil, and many of its denizens have become evil reflections of those that live here. Thus, the party learned that Sadeesh was actually the shae version of Oxyr, retrieved from the Shadowfell years ago by way of a poorly understood ritual. Oxyr’s attempts to control and restrain him have slowly failed in increasingly destructive ways ever since, until Sadeesh finally fractured their cult and struck out on his own to begin an apocalypse in Riyaqa.
Finn made a Sending to Arastea Ghomesh to inform her that they found Oxyr alive. He had initially worried about her reaction, but took comfort in her recommendation to keep him away from the people at Tulesa. Communing with Ahti Ato in Gol Asad, Zayn learned of dire development in the Asad, with the entire Khasif block absenting themselves from the chamber as important votes on the future of the continent loomed. Uncomfortable with the results of that conversation, and needing to conduct other business there anyway, the party left Selkirk and Oxyr to mind the Seachild for a short time while they Zayn teleported them to Gol Asad. After a quick stop by the pricier markets to exchange some items for more useful equipment, the group headed to the consulate on Sindar’s coattails, who was determined to get some answers to a few questions from the Imperial Consul.
In audience with Ducet, while revealing as little as they could get away with regarding the tome Sindar had in his possession, the party learned a few relevant pieces of information. Ducet told the party how the War of Passage was truly started, and that it was denizens of this world that first earned the attention of Xazat with their dabbling in shadow magic and the resultant “theft” of his power. Tarsus also learned that he had indeed been chosen as a champion to wield the mighty Dervish, but it was Xazat who had chosen him, not Mithras or Rustum. The choice had been an indirect one, with Xazat choosing a Shae male as a champion long ago, who was now on a collision course to participate in the rise of Ahriman’s power here, and the eventual full awakening of Sayoni. If the further implications of why this had to be done this way had not been lost on the party, no one gave the secret away.
Offering a way to disrupt Xazat’s hunt for the book he now knew was found again by mortals, Ducet spoke of an ancient and altogether banned material: hellstone. Able to sap magic from the life-force of any spell-wielder that touches it, the material had the ability to absorb, and therefore block, radiant magical energy. Though outlawed by the council and nearly all other civilized governments, there was still some to be found if one looked in the right places. After Sindar asked about his recent communications with the Guild, Ducet told him bluntly to look more carefully at Rinn and Ignus the next time they crossed paths. The two were not what they appeared to be. Parting ways, Ducet told the party to check in with the Broker before leaving town. He had arrangements to make and would have the man fetch something for them before they left.
Beginning to formulate a plan to strike the CoA using new information as it came to light, the party asked Finn to Send a message to Daso Enna, one of the missing Khasif delegates and a recent ally. Finn asked permission to scry on him for use as a teleport target into the heart of Khasif, in order to hunt down a CoA hideout there. Daso told him to wait until midnight.
In the meantime, the party headed to the dock district, searching out the warehouses and holding areas of the Mueller Trading Company to see if they might be able to access the stores of Anton, their former companion who lost a bard battle after being rapped too hard by a musical arachnid. After some administrative runaround, they finally gained access to the stall. Within, the group found several barrels containing thousands of gold value of rare ores and rough gems- all things the goblins at the nearby quarry had promised to send to Anton as they dug out more tunnels for their expanding tribe. Among the barrels, one seemed to be seeping some filthy liquid into the dirt. A bad feeling crept over the group as they carefully checked the barrel and confirmed their suspicions. It was a barrel of the CoA’s toxin, left here. The party assumed it must be a leftover from the recent assault on Gol Asad, and Sindar set about disarming it. Having a bad dexterity day, he instead flung the lid away from the barrel a split second before it erupted in flame, drawing the attention of nearby staff. One happened to be the same man Finn had worked with on these docks to save people during the attack, and the two quickly reconnected. After Finn explained what was going on, the man agreed to search the rest of the warehouse and take care of any problems he found.
Putting space between themselves and the warehouses, the group headed to meet with Dezil Calish, the Broker, at the Lacy Death inn. They found Dezil waiting for them, with a helper unloading a large object from the back of a wagon that arrived minutes earlier. Investigation revealed the object to be a coffin made of ebony wood inlaid with a gold pattern of vines and leaves. The heavy coffin opened to reveal a liner made entirely of pitch black rock that reflected no light at all. The slightest touch seemed to sap vitality. Dezil reasoned that it was a hellstone liner, meaning this coffin must have been used to transport a truly dangerous individual at some point in the past. For now, it was to be given to the party for some secret task Dezil was not privy to. The party asked if he would help determine the best way to move it as they finished up one more appointment.
The group went to the Asad compound, where they were directed to meeting rooms and finally taken to see the Speaker and their delegate in Raha Delina’s office. After catching each other up on their recent intelligence, the party revealed much of their intended plan to Delina. Having no agents to offer that were usefully placed at the moment, Delina instead offer a few items that might be of value in their endeavors, including his personal prayer beads.
When the party met back up with Dezil, he had determined that the coffin could be teleported as long as it was closed. Saying their goodbyes, the party teleported back to the Seachild with the coffin slung over Tarsus’ back like a massive chunk of timber. Finn caught up with a few more Sendings while Zayn began her efforts to scry on Daso Enna. Finding him after a short time, she saw a scene of bloody battle. Dead bodies lay around him in sloppy circles on a dark stone floor slick with blood. The sound of drops falling away from the twin blades he held echoes off the stone walls of the room until he broke the silence.
“This is the old throne room of a fortress that once belonged to my family, but no longer. You have three days before anyone comes looking for these men. For now, the way is clear.”
Whatever else she was looking at, one thing was abundantly obvious to Zayn as she gazed on: Daso Enna was starting a war with someone. After a quick discussion with the group, Zayn teleported back to Tulesa, taking Selkirk with her. He had upheld his part of the bargain, after all.
Our story closed as Zayn sought out Falat. She had earlier given him permission to begin forming an army, but now upgraded her permission to a decree: raise an army- now.
The legislative delay while searching for missing Asad delegates has elapsed. A vote to officially declare the missing delegates dead has been called and passed, and the Asad has requested new delegates from their sovereigns before moving to a final vote on the future of the Empire in Riyaqa. The Khasif bloc has left the Asad, en masse.