The Desolation of Talos
Dan: FedEx, Scout
Al: Jag Shalo, Samurai/Iaijutsu Master
Danny: Murphy Lee, Cleric/Exorcist of the Silver Flame
Bernie: Lasendray Tiri, Fighter
In Zemoch, at the temple of Talon, the Head Priest has been slowly tainted by the worship of the god of pestilence. While the acknowledgement and worship of all gods is sanctioned and even encouraged, the temples have never worked actively to upset the balance from either side. With the zealous Xithal in command of the temple of Talon however, that has slowly been changing. Seeing the dormant power within Barithani, Talos, through one of his agents, took a fairly large risk, sending the Rod of Armageddon to Xithal. Had he been found out, there certainly would’ve been some sort of retaliation from the other temples, to keep the peace. However, it got in undetected, with only a small mishap gathering the final piece of the rod, noted in The Rod of Armageddon. The rod is designed to amplify the user’s power 10 fold, as well as granting the use of a small sphere of annihilation (though no less potent). By using the rod he has managed subtle changes in the surrounding area, blighting the area, and slowly changing the animal and monstrous life around the area. There are also agents of Talon placed in the four major cities, as well as the port cities, prepared to strike on the day of darkness. If brought to fruition, they will turn the fertile lands into barren wastelands; and render all the natural life into twisted mockeries of their past existence.
They call themselves The Plague and have a base of operations in Zemoch, but also have stations in all four major cities, as well as the village Norvall. Their base in Tharendi is in the sewers, which have been overrun by otyugh, so very few other people go down there, reducing the risk of discovery. In Maltova, they had to take a little bit more covert approach. Having an intimate knowledge of death and disease, they also know how to combat it. They’ve set up a hospital/clinic as a cover, and are actually performing great works for the citizens there. However, in all those they heal, they’re planting a dormant virus, which will be awoken during the Twilight of Despair, when the cult is planning to unleash Talos’ raw power upon the Island, and from there, to the world. In Apnia there is a small monastery which has several students and all that a monastery entails, but it’s really just a front for their branch of the Cult. They train the more martial of the agents here.
In Norvall they’ve set up a large farm, which is also spreading the disease. There are numerous evil druids and blighters working on this farm in increase the output beyond that of a normal farm, so the surplus gets sent to the major cities as well. In Zemoch the temple is well known, since there is a temple to all the gods there. However, there are catacombs beneath the temple that are known only to the initiates of Talos, and that is where the central designs for the Twilight of Despair are taking place. In a large central chamber, they’ve set up a large, runed pentagram painted with the blood of children, the runes traced with black lotus extract. Within the center of the pentagram is a modified magic circle against good spell, which faces inward, designed to trap any good creature summoned within. Once the Virus has spread to as much of the land as possible, they will summon the Angel Allandeshra, and using magically enhanced shackles, the blood will be drained from her, and through rivulets in the floor, the blood will be spread to the pentagram activating the runes. Once activated, all those infected with the virus will be altered, gaining the template Cult Spawn.
In Zemoch, Xithal is the chief magistrate for followers of Talos. As an Ogre Mage cleric, Xithal has always been somewhat of an outcast. His choice of diety didn’t help. Devoting himself wholly to Talos’ he was chosen to lead the uprising in Barithani. In Apnia a monk named Zhao Li is the head of the monastery. He’s a human, in his 50s and is one of the best fighters on the island. No one is quite sure why he joined the cult, be he’s proved himself loyal and very useful. In Norvall Ortho is the head of the farm. Also human, he’s a portly man in his 40s that hasn’t known an honest day’s work in his life. In Tharendi a Drow named Yngwie in charge of keeping the Cult hidden in the sewers (though the otyugh do a pretty good job as well). Finally in Maltova, Phyaloria oversees the clinic. A half-elven priestess of Talos’ she’s well liked by all that know her (although if they knew her TRUE calling, they might have second thoughts).
The party heard wind of the events going on in the sewers were the cult was based, and chose to investigate. They were able to stop the cult from infecting the town and found links to several of the agents of Talos through the island. Two of the party members chose to stay behind to defend and heal the townsfolk and the remainder of the party continued on.
Having been exposed to Talos’s pestilence across the land, the characters are nearing their destination of Zemoch. Yngwie is dead, Ortho has his hands full in his hometown and Zhao Li, after sending word ahead to Zemoch that the heroes were on their way, was rewarded with an attempt on his life. Xithal attempted to send a spell through the scrying device he uses to keep tabs on all his “partners.” He hadn’t counted on Li’s uncanny resistance to magic. Zhao Li summarily destroyed the scrying device and now is determined to use his resources to help the party put a stop to Xithal’s plans. With the breaking of the scrying device, he also removed the subtle idea implanted in his mind that Xithal’s plan was for the good of the land. FedEx continued with the party, having been sent by Zhao Li. The demons dogging the trail of the party are being sent by Phyaloria, in an effort to remove them because she doubts Xithal’s ability to incorporate them into his plans. Were he to find out about her attempts to destroy the party, he would be very angry indeed, as he’s planning on using the party in the final sacrifice to Talon, coupled with the might of the Rod of Armageddon, he will have enough power to spread the blight over the whole of the continent. The fact that Xithal wanted the party alive gives them a distinct advantage, the only question was, will it be enough?
Upon arrival in the town, Xithal sent a couple minions (Hill giants) to bring in the party, and when that plan failed, he sent Phyaloria herself to gather them up through any means necessary, as long as they were alive. At this point, she can no longer hope to kill them, so she will use her stronger demonic allies to bring them in. After doing so, the party will be kept in a normal, but well built jail, each of them in their own cells. At this point, Zhao Li attempted to facilitate a rescue, and they were able to make it out without alerting Xithal. The party managed to make contact with a Solar to save the continent, and the Solar and Sorrowsworn Demons summoned by Xithal fought a devastating battle, destroying the temple around them. Xithal was destroyed, and with him, the Cult Plague, so all those that had not become Spawn were healed, and those who had were released in death.*