Emerging from the CELLAR of Obsidius’ MANSION into the sunlight, Nathan Garney the Human Cleric of Everly, Weddumlir Aleshield the Dwarf Fighter, Davroar Hollysword the Elf Cleric of Moriarty, Meldor Ironforge the Dwarf Wizard, Acindor the Human Fighter, and Fil the Drow Cleric of Zephyr were surprised to find Kaid the Goliath Barbarian, David the Half-Elf Wizard, Kudac the Half-Orc Cleric of Baldnoggin, Gnome Shanarock the Dwarf Thief, and Sionna the Simic Hybrid Bard emerge from the BARN into the same alley. Davroar did not bother to hide his contempt for the half-orc.
As the sound of kobold war cries caught the party’s ears, they spilled out into an open field dominated by a large circus-sized TENT. The perimeter of the tent was blocked at the north and west compass points, respectively. The north path was stacked with boxes; the west was blocked by a wheeled wagon.
While the others weighed their options, Kudac inspected the wagon. As he neared the vehicle, he felt a tug of divine warning. Warily, he tapped the wagon with his sword.
His sword was instantly stuck fast. He instinctively thought to tug it free, but then caught movement out of the corner of his eye. Backpedaling hastily, he abandoned the sword and stared wide eyed as the wagon transformed into a horrifying mimic with a giant shark-toothed mouth as wide as the passage itself.
The kobolds decided to attack, their forces emerging from both the BARN and the CELLAR, even as Kudac warned his comrades about the mimic. As both the wagon mimic and kobolds in overwhelming numbers rushed at them, the heroes retreated into the tent.
Meldor and Kudac fell behind momentarily, but fear gave them speed enough to outrace the threats around them.
The light inside the tent was dim. They were struck by an ominous stillness and the stench of a swamp-like musk mixed with sulphur. Why couldn’t they hear their kobold pursuers?
A quick peak outside the tent confirmed that kobolds were engaged in a fierce and dirty battle with the wagon mimic. They quickly snapped the tent flap shut and were again enveloped in supernatural silence.
Those whose genetic heritage allowed them to see in the dark spotted the red dragon and her four warbling instantly. The wyrmlings were playing with one another, looking like monstrous kittens or puppies as they pounced at one another. The young dragons almost seemed not to notice the intruders; the eyes of their mother, on the other hand, followed the group hungrily.
Kudac further noticed that the dragon was chained in place and a plaque in front of him read, “Specimen 3.” Crates around the room were stuffed with straw and dragon scales harvested from the dragon. He quickly advised the others of this potential threat. “Big, big dragon. Missing scales on one side. We may be looking at black market,” Kudac offered.
Fil cast dancing lights, which was effective in keeping the wyrmlings occupied so that they could talk to the adult dragon. The light was bright enough to show them that the crates bore the Peacock Shipping Company logo. There were also unlit torches, presumably used by the dragon’s captors when they came to visit her. There were no guards in evidence.
At this point, they noticed that Nathan Garney, Gnome Shanarock and Sionna the bard were missing, apparently captured by the kobolds outside the tent.
A kobold suddenly popped into the tent. He said something by way of greeting but it was in Draconic and no one knew what it said. The small creature got his bearings quickly and became fixated on the adult dragon.
Acindor barely noticed, being preoccupied with trying to figure out how he could get his hands on a harvested dragon scale without angering the dragon. Until the kobold began chuckling.
The dragon began chuckling, flames licking her lips. She rested her gaze on Fil. “You have amused my children greatly. I am grateful that you have brought them new playthings. I have longed for some means to teach them how to hunt.”
Davroar knew a bit about dragons/ He knew that there were very few scenarios under which a red dragon might allow itself to be imprisoned, that this one was certainly a female if wyrmlings were involved (as males abandoned their mate soon after mating), and that if any other red dragons discovered her plight, they would destroy her, her wyrmling and her lair, for they would reckon her unfit to live if she could not protect her own territory.
Before he could warn the others to proceed carefully, Acindor asked, “Why are you imprisoned?”
The dragon rumbled. “I am exactly where I intend to be. Are you suggesting some weakness in my circumstances?” she challenged. “I wonder how strong you are? However strong you might suppose you are, I promise you you would never leave this tent alive if it were my desire to challenge you.”
“We noticed that your scales are missing,” Acindor pressed. “Do you require healing?”
The dragon scoffed. “The clerics of Xorphax heal me on a daily basis. I have no need of such services from you.
Weddumlir noticed a pair of Ipsimus gliding around the tops of the tent. Meldor tried to follow his gaze, but the dragon became suspicious.
“What are you looking at, dwarf?” the dragon asked suspiciously.
“Um, nothing,” Meldor said. “Can I leave?”
The dragon chuckled. “Oh, you can leave. I’m sure my kobold minions will give you a warm reception now that they’ve dispatched that nosy mimic. I ask you again: What are you looking at?”
Meldor licked his lips. “Hi.”
“hello,” the dragon purred sweetly. “What’s your name?”
“Meldor Ironforge the Fire Bringer.”
“Meldor Ironforge… the Fire Bringer,” the dragon said. “I am also a firebringer. Would you like to see that?”
“I only have a flame sword,” Meldor said, his face flushed. “It’s really little.”
The dragon was amused by this dodge. “Do you know who I am, dwarf? My name is Pyrrha Imperium. I have a question for you. You see, I believe I am in the middle of a deal gone wrong. I do not like to wronged. It makes me angry,” she said. “So as I see it, I could either use you lot as an opportunity for my children…” At this point, her wyrmlings abruptly stopped playing and gave the adventurers their undivided attention. “…or I can look at this as an opportunity for the both of us.”
They glanced at each other uncertainly.
“This deal has gone sour and, since you are dead either way, I have no reason not to tell you the tale. Clerics of Xorphax crept into my lair in the middle of nigght and stole my eggs.In order to have them safely returned to me without harm. I agreed to be imprisoned thus. They assured me that they had no interest in my eggs. They only wanted my scales. They were clever enough to take half of my eggs and secured them somewhere else to further ensure my cooperation.” She glanced at her four wyrmlings. “They left me with the five remaining eggs.”
Seeing their obvious question, she added. “Only four now remain. One ventured outside the tent. An impetuous child. She left during one of the feedings.
“The feedings?” Acindor asked.
“When the fish rain down. It’s how they feed us. Of course, such a bounty attracts other predators.”
Davroar stepped forward. “Mighty mistress, if I may? I sense an opportunity for all of us and also for my Lord Moriarty. As you have been wrong by Xorphax, the goddess of control, I will happily unleash some chaos into that control to help you right this wrong. What guidance can you give us in rescuing the eggs which were taken from you?”
“I will find my children. They will pay for the loss of Number Three.”
‘Why did your kobolds not aid you?” one of the adventureres asked.
“The kobolds are…” She glanced down at the kobold who’s entered the tent. “”…barely competent. I am surprised that they found both the wit and the courage to find me here so very far above my lair. They do not like the sunlight. I’ve entertained the theory that they simply got lost and ended up here or that someone carried them against their will. I do not trust them with such a critical errand,” Pyrrha said, shrugging. “They’re kobolds.”
“what then would you trust us for for this errand?” Davroar asked.
“I have but one spell remaining committed to memory. I am too large to pass through the teleportation circle I can create with it, but you may get my children back to my lair.”
“Mighty Mistress,” Davroar said, “we would gladly use the portal you create to get your children back to your lair; however, we also have business with the master of this house which requires our attention.”
“Obscurus. Trust him not. He serves Xorphax and he serves her to a fault. He sought to dominate me, the rightful ruler of this entire region. He will seek to dominate everyone else.”
“Well, we seek to stop him,” Davroar said, “so at present our goals align.”
The dragin scoffed. “You are at the mercy of forces you do not yet comprehend. A dark lord has entered the Seven Worlds from outside the ELDERWYLD. I dare not speak his name lest I say it thrice! This dark lord is powerful! He isn’t like the pathetic excuse for outsider gods you are used to dealing with.”
“I serve Moriarty, master of chaos, and he is mighty!” Davroar proclaimed.
“Moriarty, master of chaos… The Seven Worlds had its own god of chaos once and Master Chaos is someone Moriarty could never hope to replace. Or did it ever occur to him that it was passing odd that he just happened to find a plane of existence that was missing its god of chaos?”
“Perhaps it was destiny that your world was simply awaiting a fit god for the appointment,” Davroar said.
“Master Chaos is sealed away in judgment but right now Xorphax is working to release him. What will Moriarty do when the superior god of chaos comes for him? Can Moriarty hope to defeat him?”
“I believe he can and I stand ready to do my best to fulfill his will,” Davroar said.
“I believe you will do you best,” Pyrrha said, “and if you succeed you will have gained an ally, at least inasmuch as it serves my own interests.”
“We would be honored,” Davror said. “Let us take the first step in honoring you by releasing this chain.”
Pyrrha laughed. “The magic that holds these chains is formidable.”
Davroar held forth a potion of chaos and two boomsticks.
“You could also very well blow us all up,” the dragon asked, eyes widening. “I will not permit my children to be put in harm’s way.”
Davroar frowned. “Fine. Wait!” He patted his pockets and produced his Key of Opening. “What about this?”
“You may approach,” she said, though her doubt at his chances of success was written plainly on her monstrous face.
As Davroar approached the master lock, the kobold sneezed loudly. Davroar looked at him oddly, but the creature appeared unconcerned with them. Instead he was wiping snot off his snout and brushing it off on the tent.
The chains fell off the dragon, surprising even the dragon. Unfortunately, the magical key was stuck fast in the lock.
“We must act quickly!” Pyrrha hissed. She immediately directed her wyrmlings into the tent ceiling to engage the Ipsimus guards. Drawing the teleportation circle on the floor with her claw, Pyrrha urged them to enter the teleportation circle, assuring them that her children would follow as soon as they’d dispatched the Ipsimus guards.
“Fly, you fools!” Davroar urged the others. He waited until they’d all entered and then stepped in himself.
The party felt the irresistible magical pull of some other force as they travelled through the portal. Whatever was happening, they got the distinct impression that they were being intercepted by powerful magic.
Their fears were confirmed when they were unceremoniously dumped into a large room from a portal inscribed in the wall. The wyrmlings were nowhere to be seen. Apparently, the party was intercepted by the magical gravitas of one of Obscurus’ permanent portal circles, so they were deposited in Obscurus’ RELIQUARY instead of Pyrrha’s LAIR.
The room they found themselves in looked every bit like a museum. There were mounted skeletons, suits of armor, artifacts of various sorts, all labeled with informational plaques. One of the exhibits was labelled “Seymour.” The skeleton was an obvious work of rogue taxidermy combining several different animals. It was identified as the very first creation of Joe Stufts.
Elsewhere in the they found a giant-sized coffin bound in chains. The exhibit was labeled “Count Nostromo.” Every member of the party recognized it as a vampire’s coffin but they were hard pressed to comprehend why someone would want something so dangerous in a museum. There was a dinosaur skeleton mounted in one corner of the room and a dragon skeleton janging from the ceiling.
Then Meldor Ironforge spotted an exhibit labeled “The Plates of Farcevolt.” The plaque noted that the Plates were connected with the Prophecy of the Starkiller and that there were seven in total. Knowing that these artifacts could not fall into the hands of someone as corrupt as either joe Stufts or Obscurus, Meldor grabbed the displayed Plate and placed it in a secure pouch.
Another exhibit featured a painting labeled, “The Heart of Damocles.” The plaque noted that the Heart and Heart Blood of the Seven Worlds were mentioned several times in the Prophecy of the Starkiller. Oddly, a secondary writ was placed beside it labeled “Errata: This painting previously misidentified as the Cords or Hearts of Damocles rather than the Cord of Obsidius. Damocles was apparently a continent on the World-That-Was and the epicenter of Shadofar’s attack on Obsidius.”
They also found a whole copy of the entire Prophecy of the Starkiller.
The Prophecy of the Starkiller
Hark to my voice! The Prophecy shall prevail!
Of the World sundered in eight
By the scandal of Shadofar’s hate
Eight there were, then Seven.
United against the Master Void.
Knit together with Clypeus’ bones.
The Cords of Damocles waged war in heaven.
Hark to my voice! The Prophecy shall prevail!
The Void shall not long be denied!
Though for a time the Veil may hide,
Godfall comes. The hunter’s bow drawn
In Seven skies, Starkiller comes
What has been bound will now be undone.
Godfall comes, the stars fall as one.
Hark to my voice! The Prophecy shall prevail!
The Great Devourer shall shut the Gates,
Raise the dead to lay to waste,
And dine on the Seven when falls the last star;
Shall still each Heart, until none remain
To even remember and then memory shall wane.
All find their end in Shadofar.
Hark to my voice! The Prophecy shall prevail!
If there are those who have the will
The Cord of Obsidius to refill
With the Blood of the Fountainhead.
Take heed the Seal is not full obscured
Til Farcevolt’s Spell is full measured,
And the Starkiller perishes in Godfall’s stead
Some took these words to heart. The rest continued to explore the RELIQUARY.
Acindor led several of the others into the ORRERY. Though from the outside, the adjacent exhibit room look small with a small orrery or mechanical model of the Seven Worlds dominating the center of the room, when they stepped inside they found the chamber magically warped to make it bigger on the inside. They stared up at the giant orrery and watched its movements, noting that at several points the Worlds would pass one another and merge briefly. One such conjunction caused all Seven Worlds to become one but a big chunk was missing from the picture. They noticed that the missing piece looked suspiciously like seven stacked Plates of Farcevolt.
Exiting the orrery, Kudac and Fil raided twin sets of scale armor in the RELIQUARY: scale armor of water breathing and scale armor of fire resistance, respectively.
Checking their gear, the adventurers prepared to exit the RELIQUARY.