Author Topic: Session 45 - Hezra and the Ruins  (Read 2619 times)

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Session 45 - Hezra and the Ruins
« on: December 17, 2006, 10:01:56 PM »
Session 45 - Hezra and the Ruins

Having rescued one of the smaller, 3-balloon airships, the players negotiated with the chieftain of the tribe. They offered him some of their treasures, gems, coins and such. The chieftain accepted these gifts graciously and was so impressed with their heroics that he finally agreed to let them take the small ship.

The party loaded their supplies onto the ship, said goodbye to the omarin and flew off in the direction of the ruins. The omarin continued on their journey.

After a while, the ruins of Shidar could be seen. The players flew their airship down toward the crumbling stony ruins. They could see that it was once a vast, magnificent city… much larger than they had imagined. High walls, majestic towers, river beds, bridges, castles, balconies… most of it was crumbling and collapsed.

The heroes saw a thin trail of smoke rising into the sky from the center of the city. They tried to sail in toward the smoke, but fierce winds tossed them about as they pushed in toward the city.

They decided to land on the outskirts of the city. Callister used his spyglass to scan a building with its X-ray mode. He found a large building with a broad, flat roof. Inside were seven desolation wights.

They landed on that building. They disembarked, went down to the basement and took out all seven wights with a well placed tossed of a shredder grenade.

They then proceeded into the city, heading for the source of the smoke. They marveled at the architecture and size of some of the ruins. There were many towers and walls, gates dividing the city into districts, a network of canals which were dry now and a huge coliseum.

As they trudged along the broad cobblestone roadway, Rothgar fell to the ground, frostbite on his chest and back. The heroes reacted instantly… it was more spirit wraiths. Invisible apparitions that attack with a freezing touch. The heroes pulled out the enchanted lantern and spirit sticks that Saramuthak had created. The players had developed good tactics and quickly drove the spirits off after having used up five sticks to kill five wraiths.

They continued deeper into the city, heading toward the source of the smoke. They came across a stone bridge that led across a large canal to a small fortified building. The smoke seemed to be coming from this building.

A small group of wights shambled about in front of it. The players lured them onto the bridge and used another shredder grenade to take out most of the group. The rest were mopped up with spell and blade.

A shuttered window on the wall of the small fortified building above the main gate swung open and an old woman leaned out. She was holding a wrath cannon leveled at the heroes.

“Who are you?” she barked at the group.

“We are explorers from Chaddamar in the distant south… come to explore the ruins of this once great city”
“You’re here for the Talisman, aren’t you?” she said.

The jaws of every player hi the floor. How did SHE know about the Jaidor Talisman?

“How do you know of the Talisman?” Ugita demanded.

“Come inside. We have much to discuss”

The gate swung open and the players went in. They met with the old woman and talked. Her name was Hezra and she set out food for them in the central courtyard. There, under the afternoon sky, they had a great feast and talked.

“Who are you? Asked the players.

I am Hezra, the Halfblood. My mother was Omarin. My father was a Marauder, a Chaddamarian soldier sent into the Desolation by the Church on a holy quest. I have spent years wandering the Desolation. I never liked life among the Omarin tribes… they never truly accepted me. And I would certainly never be welcome in Chaddamar. So I have made the city of Shidar my home. I have spent years studying this once great city.

Hezra then sat back and told them what it was they sought.

I know this place. I know its stories. Secrets are buried here. Buried deep.

Long ago, before the star was sundered, before the land shook, there was a great empire that dominated all of Aggradar… the Great Kytohan Empire. After the Cataclysm, the Empire fell. In this remote peninsula, the only major city left was Daetowa ruled by Duke Morgoth. Daetowa was a mining city whose stone masons were unequalled. According to legend, Morgoth expanded the mines and built a great underground fortress beneath his small city. Perhaps to protect his people from the World Storm or raiding bandits who pillaged the newly-wrecked world. It is said that these great halls beneath the ground were a marvel to behold. It supposedly held the wealth of the entire region.

This subterranean city was known simply as the Mines of Morgoth. It stood strong for a century, until it was overrun by humanoid tribes. Within 50 years, nothing remained but ruins. Some years later, the ruins of Daetowa were abandoned by the humanoids. The ruins of Daetowa and the Mines of Morgoth were left to decay.

It was many years later that the morphians came… far from the Great War of Ithria. To hide their precious Talisman. It was a long journey and throughout their quest, Aracle’s fascination with magic and the Talisman grew.

Eventually they reached the eastern lands of Aggradar. This was long before Chaddamar was formed. Back then, the whole of the eastern lands was divided up into provinces and small baronies. The morphians learned of the ruins of Daetowa in the northern peninsula. And beyond the ruins, the edge of the land. And beyond that, the endless ocean. They had reached the end of the world. The shapeshifters decided that they had come far enough.

They went into the ruins and ventured into the catacombs below. There they found the wondrous underground halls of legend. The people who followed Morgoth were no more. Only empty halls remained. The shapeshifters set to their task… they began to rebuild sections of the undercity, to fashion a final resting place for the Talisman and to surround it with many clever traps.

Moqar, the second in command, was particularly enthralled with creating the perfect final resting place for the Talisman… to honor the Talisman, that which had created them… and to leave the Talisman in peace for all eternity. That was their mission. And he set forth to complete that mission, with an almost religious fervor.
The morphians labored for many long months. As his followers labored beneath the ground, Aracles continued to study magic and the Talisman. He never parted with it and became obsessed. He attempted to control its functions and experimented with it constantly.

After two years of work, the morphians were nearly finished. By this time, Aracles had learned to control the most basic powers of the Talisman. He became drunk with power, able to control his own body with the device and the bodies of his fellow morphians. He also learned that the Talisman could control all life – animals, plants, people. It was not limited to the morphians. That Talisman it seemed had many powers that Jaidor had kept secret.

Aracles learned enough about the Talisman that he came to believe he could free the morphians from enslavement without destroying the Talisman. He also believed that the Talisman was the key to immortality. Many of the fellowship members thirsted for freedom and eager were they to hear his promises. But there were those who opposed him. They feared he was tampering with Powers he could not possibly control. Tensions rose and the group split into two opposing factions. Those led by Aracles (who yearned for true freedom and power offered by the Talisman) and those led by Moqar (who wanted to complete the mission and bury the Talisman).

The conflict between the two factions quickly degenerated into open bloodshed. From the battles, two morphians escaped. Two close friends named Tulmain and Faroujda. They were loyal to neither side and sought only to flee.

As the two warring factions clashed one final time, these two morphians fled to the surface and sealed the tunnels up behind them.

They decided to split up. They decided upon a course of action and swore to each other. Each would have his task. Tulmain swore to stay and guard the ruins and prevent any from reopening the underground halls.

Faroudja swore to return to the morphians back on Ithria and free the remaining morphians. He left, hundreds of years ago. No one knows what became of him.

Although Tulmain died long ago, he had descendants. With the morphians, the memories of the parent are passed on to the children. I know for a fact that there are some of Tulmain’s descendants still out there, living in Aggradar. Some of them have left, venturing off into the wide world. A few though, have remained… dedicated to Tulmain’s wishes and they still carry out their sacred mission. To protect the Talisman.

Hundreds of years later, in the ninth century, men returned. They came back to reclaim the ruins of Daetowa and the town of Shidar was founded. For almost 300 hundred years, Shidar grew and developed into a major city. It became a shining center of culture, learning and magical power. The healers of Shidar were exceptionally powerful. They mastered all manner of healing. At the height of the cities power, they developed the power to bring back the dead.

In 1136 on the Common Calendar, miners working in the main quarry of Shidar, uncovered a shaft. They believed they had uncovered the entrance to the legendary Mines of Morgoth. The city leaders ordered the tunnel explored. Beginning that day, Shidar began to have problems. There were murders in the night… foul creatures began to stalk through the city at night… a sickness appeared that the city healers could not cure. This was only the beginning. Rumors started that Shidar was once again cursed. It was said that demons from the deep dark had been awakened and now raided the surface world.

As the problems grew, the nobles of Shidar decided to act lest they lose their fair city. They called upon the craftsmen, scholars and wizards to work together to seal the tunnel entrance in the quarry and stop the stem of death. The wizards united under their greatest mage, a man named Adezar. Together they created a potent spell of warding. The craftsmen fashioned an immense stone barricade with a great iron door… Death's Door it was named for it held Death at bay. It was made such that no one could breach it – not with hammer or spell.

Amidst great controversy, Adezar created a key that would unravel the warding spell and thus open Death's Door. Some of the nobles were horrified that such a dangerous thing be allowed. The Door, they argued, should NEVER be opened again. But there were many that thought it wise to keep all options open. Perhaps one day they would open the Door and slay the demons of the underworld. Adezar complied and fashioned an enchanted iron key… a key that only need be touched to the Door to open it.

Even after Death’s Door was completed and closed, the city’s woes continued. Horrible monsters appeared and killed citizens. Mutations began, disease, death. Despite Death’s Door and the assurances of the nobles, more and more citizens began packing up and leaving the city, heading for warmer lands in the south.
The nobles met to decide what to do to save their city. Rioting commoners, who feared the opening of Death’s Door, assaulted the Town Hall and, during the battle, the Key was shattered into 3 pieces. After the riot was quelled, the nobles met and Adezar declared to them that any part of the key could open the Door. The nobles fought and bickered over the pieces of the Key. In the end, it mattered little. The very next night, the city of Shidar was overrun by monstrosities. The people fled in terror. In the chaos, the pieces of the Death’s Door Key were lost.

Most of the citizens of Shidar fled to the grasslands along the eastern shore of Aggradar. There they founded the nation of Chaddamar. Their fear of death and magic and the unknown has become ingrained in the culture and religion of that nation.

The ruins of Shidar have been abandoned ever since. Death’s Door has never been opened. The three pieces of the Key have been lost for centuries, but are likely in Chaddamar, carried there by the caravans of refugees.

How do you know so much about the History of Shidar?

For a time, about three years ago, a shapeshifter came and stayed with me. His name was Matalsa. He was dying. Before he died, he told me the history of Shidar. He was one of the descendants of Tulmain, one of the two morphians who escaped from the underworld.

Do you know anything about Death’s Door?

Only that Death’s Door is truly unbreachable. No one can open it. Only one of the legendary pieces of the Key. However, I have searched the ruins here for years and never found any piece of the Key. I am convinced that the refugees who fled this city centuries ago took the pieces of the Key with them. Undoubtedly the pieces of the Key must lie somewhere in Chaddamar. Though I have no idea where. If you’ve come all this way to open Death’s Door, I’m afraid you’ve wasted your time. You won’t get the door to budge one inch. Not without a piece of the Death’s Door Key!

The players pulled out the Ring, they piece of the Death’s Door key.

“Oh”, said Hezra.

Rothgar, Jared, Eric and Mark trade with the witch.

They give her Traskill and a few magic items. And some Chaddamarian books.
She gives them a few wrath cannons, access to her library, a map of the Shidaran sewer system.

Ugita casts a sending spell to contact the morphian that they had encountered at the Duthelm Scout Party.

When he gets a response, he decides to call out the morphian. They have a talk while the morphian is hidden. After awhile, the morphian comes out of hiding and assumes a humanoid shape.

The morphian confirmed that there are a few of them and they are the descendents of Tulmain.

They had four morphian spies with the Duthelm group, but three have been discovered and killed. The fourth is still hidden.

Caramus and his army are coming here on a huge skyship. 75 feet long, 35 feet wide, four decks. Travelling at about 60 miles per hour. Well, enough speed to cross two thirds of the Desolation in one day.